Follow the women of Roxo Racing, a Texas based women’s cycling team, in their first full year chasing national level races. Roxo raced USA Crits events, Pro Nationals, and Joe Martin, both UCI professional events. The goal, shared by all, is to strive, learn and improve.
Location: Sacramento, California, the inaugural edition of an international criterium promoted by L39ion of Los Angeles.
Our final competition of the 2021 season was a late October criterium spectacular, “Into the Lion’s Den” around the beautiful State capitol building in Sacramento, California. Not too many bicycle races post up a $100,000 prize purse, equally divided between men and women. This was an event not to be missed, even at the tail end of our season.
Spoiler alert: The race itself was a 30mph blur for 70 minutes and our Roxo Racing athletes fought for their lives, as well as pack position. It was an eye-opening experience with several WorldTour riders making the trip from Europe to compete in American-style racing. Let’s start at the beginning.
First order of business upon arrival? A finicky shifter needed replacement. Your intrepid, grumpy DS author tackled the job. No hotel room carpet was harmed, and the bike responded well to service. Yes, we get graded down for having one Ultegra lever and one Dura Ace.
Bikes sorted, they’re out on course for recon. Three of our four Roxo warriors, from left, Sanna the scientist, Smiley Tracy, and Michelle from Denver. It was a beautiful California day, with mild wind in the morning warmup compared to what they faced in the afternoon race.
The four-corner course was around the State capitol building and grounds, with ½ mile long straights and broad corners for a traditional American criterium. Here’s Michelle, demonstrating total commitment to the team via purple hair highlights, along with stylish shades.
Oh wait, and purple nail polish. Sorry. And yes, thank you, we’ll speak to Scientist Sanna about the direction of her front wheel skewer. Notice how happy and carefree they look.
How would Picasso capture everyday life like this? Let’s assume Sanna, Tracy and Michelle were managing their media, responding the L39ion of fans who follow our team. Pun intended.
Her bike shifts now so she’s happy. Let’s check back with her shortly.
After the course recon, our stars ham it up for the camera while a disgruntled motorist wonders who these people in Lycra are, and how they invaded his city. Cool bridge though!
May we give a shout out to Erdoes PC, a law firm from Oklahoma City? He is who we would call if the motorist on the bridge ran over our team. Ok, seriously, bike teams need sponsors to help defray the expense of racing, across the country. Lucky for us, this lawyer guy nicknamed Petey is a generous bike racer too, having supported numerous teams and clubs over the years.
Back to the hotel side entrance for lunch and a rest, as the big show goes off at 3:40pm.
Right before showtime. We gather the team to review the plan. What’s the saying about the best-laid plans of mice and men? Our plans begin with an interview with each rider, then an overview with a couple of contingencies like “If you two are still feeling good with 10 to go…” Everyone must buy in.
The bike race was fast from the gun, as criteriums often are. A common refrain is “If you can make it 20 minutes, you’ll be ok”. Our Roxo racers and about 40 other really good athletes made it 13 minutes before several big hitters blew the race into three groups plus schrapnel.
This is what pain looks like if you’re back in 30th place. You stare blankly, looking cross-eyed, at the wheel in front of you. Often with your mouth open, not caring about dirt, road grime or bugs. When fully in the red, vision narrows. It’s hard to think clearly. Later you might marvel at your wattage numbers but in the moment, wattage is immaterial. Count 25 riders back and you’ll see a gap is opening.
There are no “scrubs” in this frame. These are the best women in the U.S. and Into the Lion’s Den was by invitation only, further proof of the selective nature of sport. It was humbling and yet a very cool life experience.
Sanna, left, and Michelle to the right are back into the throttle on the corner exit. Notice the gear, and they are spinning those gears. By mid-straightaway, after a gear change or two, there might only be one cog left on those cassettes.
In case you thought we were joking, check the gear.
Oliva Ray, a gracious Kiwi living in Georgia, with a withering sprint, rides for the professional team Rally. She’s just won a cool $15,000. As fast as Olivia is, she can’t win many races as this level without a team, who went all in for her in Sacramento. Chapeau, Olivia, and Rally Cycling!
Through the lens of our talented photog, Alex Roszko, we want to share our story.
See more ROXO Racing at:
• Photos courtesy of Alex Roszko: https://www.instagram.com/roszko/?hl=en
Alex Roszko on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/roszkophoto/
• This article courtesy of ArundelBike.com – proud sponsor of ROXO Racing.