Team Laser Cats

Folks in Philadelphia who love bikes, cats, and snacks.


Subject to Change: Guidance for Riding in an Ongoing Pandemic

As of early June, Philadelphia has entered Code Yellow for COVID-19. TLC’s team members have been developing some guidelines to help us think through what this means for cycling. As we have since the beginning of the pandemic, we’re paying attention to public health guidance and everything is subject to change.

  1. Decisions to ride are individual and should be carefully considered based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to personal health, employment, mitigation of risk, family/living situation, and geographic location.
  2. Be thoughtful about the decisions you are making, and don’t rush to judgement on another person’s decisions. Remember #1.
  3. Philadelphia’s Code Yellow guidance from Parks & Recreation includes a prohibition on group sports.
  4. Bike rides vary, but many of them could certainly be considered a group sport.
  5. While CDC & public health guidance suggests aerosolized virus disperses quickly outdoors, precautions are still important.
  6. Getting hurt and needing medical care is also still a risky proposition. How are you mitigating risk in your riding?
  7. Riding in places where you may encounter other people in close range heightens the guidance that wearing a mask/face covering is important. Even if you are not sick, you may be carrying the virus. Wearing a mask helps protect others from you.
  8. Riding with members of your household limits your exposure. 
  9. If you choose to expand to ride with people outside of your household, think seriously about the addition of other contacts. Be transparent about any other contacts you have with people outside your household (again, Remember #1), and disclose this to the people you ride with.
  10. Keep track of people you are in contact with. Since the government isn’t doing contact tracing, how are you keeping track and informing people if you get sick? Do you trust they will inform you if they do?
  11. Based on #9 and #10, if you do choose to expand riding with people other than your household, a lower risk option would be to combine with one other household in a monogamous households social relationship.
  12. Another alternative is to ride to outdoor meeting places separately, then enjoy time in each other’s company at a safer distance apart. For example, you could agree to meet up at the Belmont Plateau for coffee, sit at least six feet apart, bring your own supplies, not share items, and disperse separately when you leave. Again, be mindful of #9 and #10.
  13. Think carefully about the impact you have based on the route you choose to ride. Think about the people you might be impacting – such as employees at businesses – and consider packing your own snacks instead. Minimize your need to enter into buildings, wear a mask if you do, and wash your hands. If that’s not possible, reconsider your route and the supplies you bring with you. Pack hand sanitizer.
  14. This should go without saying, but if you’re sick, you should not be out riding. And if you’re sick and live with someone else who isn’t, they are still likely carriers and may infect others. 

As individuals and as a team, we’ll continue to monitor, assess, and check in on each other. Over the course of the last few months, we’ve developed routines for virtual workouts and hangouts, vital means of staying connected and emotionally nourished. That part, we can safely say, is not subject to change.

Four small screens of people participating in a video chat.

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Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter. Full stop.

We acknowledge our privilege, and recognize that doing so is an ongoing process. We, as individuals and as a team, know there is an overwhelming amount of work to do in deconstructing and reforming a fundamentally unjust society. We do not aim here to provide you with directives, nor lists of resources, but rather to share some of what we, as members of a community group, are thinking and doing. We encourage you not to judge how someone else is protesting, but rather to ask yourself how you are acting and feeling in response to systemic racism and police brutality, state-sanctioned militarization, white supremacists emboldened by the federal administration, who are funded and fueled by an entrenched corporate power structure. Find what small changes you can make, and Take an L when you mess up.

Some actions our members are taking:   

*Listening, reading, and learning. Working to recognize the difference between amplifying someone else and making it about you. Listen, read, and learn from Black people who are explicitly offering concrete ways to help. 

*Voting. But also, throwing sand in the gears in between elections by challenging city budgets. In Philadelphia, this is happening NOW. Holding our elected officials accountable is not something that just happens on election day. Turn in your ballot or go to the polls Tuesday (note your polling place has likely changed due to the pandemic), read up on the city’s budget proposal and write your council reps and reps-at-large. The hearing on police funding is tomorrow. 

*Donating money. Our team has donated $350 from our operating budget to Philly Community Bail Fund. Individual members are researching and allocating additional donations as they are able. 

*Using our privilege to ask the bike/outdoor industry to do better. Not just releasing statements (which they should do) but spending and investing in ways that effect systemic change. 

*Role playing having difficult conversations about racism. Practicing how to speak up or confront someone will make it easier to do so in a tense moment.

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WTF* Is Cyclocross!

WTF_ is Cyclocross

We’re teaming up with pals at Team Velodash and WBPHL Racing for 5 weeks of beginner-focused cyclocross practices!

This 5-week beginner cyclocross school takes place Tuesdays, August 14th – September 11th, at 6:15 PM in FDR Park. Scroll down and check back for updates on each week’s sessions.

*WTF stands for women, trans, and femmes. We welcome beginners of all gender identities to CX School, but note that misogyny and transphobia will not be tolerated.

Here’s some background info on cyclocross, and some basics on bikes, racing, and more. 

Links to local/regional race calendars:

Events tagged Mid-Atlantic on BikeReg, event registration site

Pennsylvania Cyclocross Series

Mid-Atlantic (MAC) Cyclocross Series

Here’s a great resource on cornering, written by Star City CX School‘s Josh Rice.

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Scenes from a summer spent racing & riding!


The trails and roads have been good to us this summer — so good that we’re outside whenever we can be and not spending time doing things like updating our blog. So here’s a little collection of highlights from our Instagram over the past few months!

The MTB squad kicked off the season at Fair Hill, where Trek sponsored equal payouts for women.

And Emma and Elisabeth got to hold some giant novelty checks…

Eve represented our squad at the Women’s Woodstock GP, a race that goes above and beyond providing a truly pro racing experience for women.

In addition to crushing it on the MTB and moving into the Cat 1 field, Caitlin kept up her running training as well, coming in under goal time at the Broad Street Run.

Despite a smattering of bad luck in races, Erica also put running skills to use, crossing the finish line running with her bike to still make podium spots.

Lindsay spent many weekends getting familiar with the West Virginia gnar, building skills and confidence over slippery roots in a full Enduro season.

Chael and Sam went full send. Here’s Chael on her way to winning her category at the Mountain Creek DH race.

And look at Sam (and Chael) using enough postage to send it halfway across the world!

Before undertaking a massive move and renovation project, Meghan got in on some early season MTB racing, too, cruising her way right into the Cat 1 field after a several-years hiatus from racing.

Eve and Mary teamed up for some crit racing mid-summer, landing some podiums along the way.

The XC squad took a mid-summer break from racing and headed out to Raystown Lake for a team family vacation with our pals at Team VeloDash. It was a very nice time.

After a super strong start to the MTB season, Emma had an unfortunate crash at Bear Creek that sideline her with a broken wrist. But we’re stoked to say she’s back in business, got back in time for Nationals, and then absolutely crushed it with two podiums at the Julbo Eastern Grind.

We have a little bit of summer left, one more race in the MASS for the XC crew, and many of us are gearing up for the start of Little Bellas this Sunday. Then it’s on to cyclocross…


Erica’s Dirty Double Cross Report

At some point last winter, Lancaster-based Laser Cat Erica posted a link to our team race chatter about this very long ride she was thinking about doing. While there were a few curious parties, including the team’s resident Great Divide finisher Meghan and Dirty Kanza finisher Elisabeth, only Erica was bold enough to embark on the journey at the end of May…

Tom Oswald of Oswald Cycle Works describes his Dirty Double Cross gravel ride as “a 200-mile no-fee, no-frills, you’re-on-your-own adventure on the fabulous dirt forest roads in the Wilds region of north-central Pennsylvania.” What an adventure it was!

I had been tempted to join the maiden Dirty Double Cross event in 2017, but decided against it as I was wary to sign up for 200 miles with 15,500+ elevation with a single speed. Good call, past Erica! In February, after purchasing a geared cross bike, I knew I had to think seriously about making the trip to Mansfield, Pennsylvania, for the 2018 ride.


30 miles in, already eating bear scat (ok, it’s a bar)

As with any monumental adventure, it feels difficult to properly summarize the experience with words. If this report leaves you with questions, I encourage you to make the trip to Mansfield in 2019 for the Dirty Double Cross event. You will not regret it, unless of course you do.  Continue reading

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Philly Phlyer 2018

The Cat Squad repeated our 2nd place performance in the TTT for the third year in a row! Emma and Elisabeth returned this year, joined by Mary and Caitlin. This year, our biggest point of pride (heh. pride. like lions.) was bringing all four of us to the top of the climb together, with the front two finishing just a couple seconds ahead of the other two. We were just 10 seconds off our first place rivals, the Mathletes, and we’re super proud of our strong teamwork.

Our top two finishers, Caitlin and Mary, quickly hit the reset button to line up for the 3/4 circuit race, where they were joined by teammate Knar.

Image uploaded from iOS (1)

All three stayed in the front group until the final selections, with Caitlin finishing 12th, Knar making a late last-lap surge up the climb to claim 14th, and Mary coming in 18th.

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Rule Changes 2018: Where We Stand

donut catIt’s that time of the year when cycling associations get together to plan for the seasons ahead, and in Pennsylvania, home state of Team Laser Cats, there are five rule changes on the table this year. The association meets Saturday, February 10th.

Here’s a guide to where we stand. We’ve copied the text of the proposal, and provide our rationale for supporting below.

View the list of proposals here.  Continue reading

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Grindcore scores a podium at Ramsey’s Revenge

Three years ago, I moved to Philly. I came from a land with few rocks and scant log overs. I felt like I had to completely relearn how to mountain bike. I got a bike that fit better, and I’ve broken some parts and collected some bruises overcoming physical and mental barriers.


A nice long downhill rock garden wasn’t something I used to look forward to. Photo: Paul Freeman

Sunday, I felt like it all came together. I lined up with no expectations but to ride a good ride and not get hurt. I didn’t start particularly fast. I watched the front group ride away. But the pieces connected, and by the end of the first lap, I found myself climbing into 3rd in the Pro/Elite field. I spent those next two laps just keeping on keeping on. Ride clean. Focus. Don’t get hurt. HAVE FUN. And I did. And I’m really, really happy about it.

Thanks to Bicycle Therapy for the new brake setup at the last minute. Those were essential!

Ramseys_Diego_FreemanDiego always has our backs. Photo: Paul Freeman