Team Laser Cats

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

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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. 

Proposal #1: SUPPORT

Author: David Mitchell

Brief Description: Add the best 8 PA Road BAR scoring scheme to W1-2, W3 and W4-5 categories.

Rationale: The best 8 scoring scheme for the PA Road BAR was implemented several years ago for elite and masters men to remove the attendance factor from the series.

Many top competitors felt that riders who raced as many events as possible were more apt to be placed high in the final series standings than those who raced less frequently. That scoring change leveled the playing field for all riders and individuals who had quality results but may have been unable to race more often due to work and family commitments were not at a disadvantage.

This proposal is to implement the best 8 scoring scheme to the elite women’s categories (W1-2, W3 and W4-5) in the PA Road BAR series. Unlike the original proposal on the mens side this change would not include the requirement that riders have to score points in all three disciplines (TT, RR and Criterium). In essence a riders best eight (8) results will count for the overall.

Our take: We support this proposal. Especially as a grassroots team of self-supported riders, we’re sensitive to the cost of registrations and believe in supporting racers who can maximize performance in selecting target races — not to mention that even 8 races is not an insignificant season! We’re also fans of the category structure that rewards women at elite, intermediate, and beginner levels.

Proposal #2: SUPPORT

Author: Team Laser Cats

Brief Description: Modify the senior women’s PACX categories from W1-2-3/W3-4-5 to W1-2-3/W4-5.

Rationale: Team Laser Cats submitted this proposal whose outcome, if passed, would require that the PACX women’s (non-masters) categories represent categories 1/2/3 and 4/5. The team is agnostic whether or not cat 3s are scored separately or competing for additional prizes, but want to have the cat 3s racing and scored with the Cat 1/2 riders rather than have the option to race with the W1-2 or W4-5 racers.

Our take: We wrote this one, so obviously, we support it! Here’s our rationale: Especially with the introduction of the Cat 5 field for women, we believe it’s important for the growth and quality of the cyclocross scene to have a beginner field, and Cat 3s are not beginners. While we’d love to see a true intermediate category for women’s cyclocross, we believe that having all Cat 3s race with the elites will improve the racing experience locally. It will grow the field size of the elites, helping 3s gain the experience racing at a higher level in a non-UCI environment. With all 3s racing in the same race, this will improve competition throughout that category, filling in the gaps between racers for a more robust competition throughout. It also improves the experience for beginners, as 4s can gain valuable experience at the front of the race, and Cat 5s can enter races where they aren’t competing with racers who often have many years of racing experience and are on the brink of entering the UCI field.


Author: Mark Featherman

Brief Description: Change the PACX masters men categories to 40+, 50+ and 60+. In addition the staging protocol so that the first row is determined by PACX series points and the remaining rows by

Rationale: This change would provide for larger/level fields, the 40+ specifically, as in 2017 the PACX 35+ fields were very low. The average number of starters in the 35+ fields in 2017 was 12 compared to 23 for 45+ and 26 for 55+.

Our take: Since this rule change doesn’t directly affect any members of our team, we’re neutral. However, from conversations we’ve had with friends in the field, and observations at races, we see the rationale and support the measure for its alignment with values we share, such as improving field size distribution.

Proposal #4: SUPPORT

Author: Andrew Bernstein

Brief Description:

Modify the PACX Tech Guide to bring it into compliance with existing USAC rules concerning prize purses, while also ensuring gender parity within PACX races and reducing the financial burden on promoters by eliminating required cash prizes in PACX races for all categories EXCEPT pro men and women


The PACX Tech manual currently causes our series to be in violation of existing USAC rules (Police VI, Part 3 (g)) and out of sync with national trends around prize money by inequitably awarding men more money than women and by awarding cash prizes to some men’s categories, but not the equivalent women’s categories.

In addition, the tech manual also allows so-called “dynamic prizing,” wherein promoters are allowed to cut prize purses based on low attendance. This practice is in violation of USAC rules and also discourages participation by leaving racers unsure of how much money they’re racing for until they are standing on the start line.

At the same time, awarding prize money in any amount constitutes a significant burden on the promoters of small races, and benefits to only a small number of racers attending that event. The burden on promoters increases if they attempt to equitably award prize money for men and women competing in amateur categories, as many racers now expect.

Pro athletes who may be supporting themselves (in whole or in part) through racing deserve the opportunity to earn cash at races, but amateur athletes are differently motivated and should not need a cash prize to want to race.

Recommendation 1:

Establish a minimum prize list for elite categories as follows:

Minimum Prize purse for elite men’s and women’s races: $300/ three deep

If more than 20 athletes register for either field, increase prize purse in that field to at least $500/ five deep

If more than 30 athletes register for either field, increase prize purse in that field to at least $700/ seven deep

Recommendation 2:

Do not require cash prizes for any other field

Recommendation 3:

Cash prizes for non-elite fields may be awarded at a promoter’s discretion, but events must establish an advertised minimum for all cash prizes, and cannot, at any point, cut prizes from the minimum purse advertised.

Our take: It’s about time! We support this proposal for many reasons. Several of us have had to endure lectures at the start line about low attendance and the prize list being cut. And let us tell you, it’s not a great way to start your race, and the money part isn’t even the half of it – it stings that it’s not recognized that in many cases, the elite women’s fields have been larger than the elite men, despite the fact that we represent a fraction of the license-holders. We’ve also found it difficult to be enthusiastic about moves to prize parity in the elite fields that somehow brush aside the prize purses still being offered to many other non-elite categories, especially when they’re being cut for the elites. Add to that that some of us have also been grassroots promoters, and recognize well the financial pressures of putting on a race. We really appreciate the thoughtfulness of this proposal, and feel the recommendations put forth balance the assurance of parity with a sensitivity to the needs of promoters.

Proposal #5: SUPPORT

Author: David Mitchell

Brief Description: Eliminate gender specific categories for the Future Stars A & B in the PA Track BAR series.

Rationale: In 2017 the Future Stars PA Track categories were modified to be gender specific:

Future Stars A (Men)

Future Stars B (Men)

Future Stars A (Women)

Future Stars B (Women)

This proposal is designed to revert to the pre-2017 configuration:

Future Stars A

Future Stars B

The distribution of PA Track BAR points to men/women JR riders varies from year to year. In 2017 one female JR scored PA Track BAR points. Based on the number of riders that participated in the series last year there were only one Future Stars fields at every BAR event. Thus points were awarded to Future Stars A Men & Women.

14 riders earned points in the 2016 Future Stars A category and no female garnered points. In the Future Stars B category nine riders earned points and only the 5th and 9th placed JR were female.

This situation is more about the ability to score all riders who race than it is about gender equality. Female riders have lobbied to be classified regardless of the number of competitors and the number of PA Track BAR categories.

Discussions have been held with various PCA track officials and the determination by the group was that until a finish line camera is in play the officiating crew can only classify riders who earn points in a race and only those riders who place are eligible for omnium points which in turn are awarded PA Track BAR points.

Our take: Much like with Proposal #3, this rule change doesn’t directly affect any members of our team. However, we see the rationale and support the measure for its alignment with values we share, and we certainly support the junior women lobbying for this change.



Slow Burn

Musings on a long cyclocross season.

by Elisabeth Reinkordt

Two World Cups in the Midwest. I had to go to one of them. It was just too tempting to pass up, a homecoming and friend reunion of sorts, a great way to use some frequent flyer miles, a gracious offer of host housing, and the chance to both race against and then cheer for the top riders in the world. Sure, it would be brutally hot, my Achilles heel, but I couldn’t resist.

There is a perfect moment seared in my overcooked brain, a second that froze in time, as I looked across the course to see Sanne Cant’s rainbow stripes. “You are in a race with the World Champion right now. This is not a charity event. This is not a joke. This is really it. You’re doing this.” 

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Seeking Unconventional Women: The Gorgeous Ladies of Enduro

The following is reposted from State College Laser Cat and resident #femdurobro, Lindsay Hall-Stec. You can read more about her adventures at


“The best rivalries are not about the rival. They’re about the insecurities that your rival brings out in you…” – Rogelio from “Jane the Virgin”


When I first read Gloria Liu’s Bicycle magazine article titled “That Time I Went Full Enduro” a few weeks ago, it was hard to get through it without my heart racing and my eyes welling up with tears. I had developed a bit of a girl crush on Gloria a year or so before, when I discovered the value of reading bike and gear reviews from a real person who I’d encountered in real life and whose riding style and terrain was close to my own. Gloria’s opinions held much more weight than any random woman in Colorado, California, or the UK talking about howwell (or not) bikes and gear performed. When she won both the enduro stage and overall enduro classification at the Tran-Sylvania Epic this year, I was stoked…and jealous, but knowing that it wasn’t my time yet, I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather see it go to.

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Laser Cat Shaniyla Hard at Work at BUP!

Quick Intro: A few weeks back, Team Laser Cats instagram featured a GoFundMe to help Shaniyla pay for a really cool summer program. That one didn’t pan out, but she managed to find another one that is doing great work in Baltimore. From the Baltimore Urban Program (BUP) website: “During this intensive 6 week internship students grow together in their understanding of the city, the ways God is at work here, and their own response and involvement as Christians. After initial orientation, students serve as interns with various Urban Ministries and non-profit organizations throughout Baltimore.” (Link to BUP “About” page

The following is cross-posted from BUP’s blog, an entry by Shaniyla Johnson. Excited to hear more!


By Shaniyla Johnson


I was reserved about leaving my house again as I’ve been all over the place this year. Do I really want to spend my summer away too? So many places, so little time.

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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

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Winter in Summer

Disclaimer: The following is a description of my recovery from a prolonged concussion. None of this should be read as medical recommendations, and I strongly urge anyone who has had a head impact or suspects a concussion to see a doctor specializing in concussions as soon as possible. I wanted to share this story, not to offer medical advice, but to shed light on an highly mercurial injury whose recommendations are changing very rapidly as it becomes better understood. Every concussion is unique, and only a professional knows how to distinguish between unpleasant but non-serious symptoms versus symptoms that may point to something much more serious that could lead to serious complications or permanent brain damage.

The Dream

2017 was going to be the year that I’d try for CX Nationals. Fall 2016 would have been my fourth real CX season after two fairly strong ones as a cat 3, and I finally felt mentally ready to say that yes, I wanted to see how far I could go in this strange, wonderful sport I fell into, and yes, my life circumstances finally allowed me to structure my schedule to make this happen.

I didn’t make this decision lightly. Although I had a passably strong martial arts background, I had been a very mediocre XC runner in high school, and it was to my great surprise one day that I was somehow able to win a bike race. I was very comfortable with being a “mediocre” athlete, but it was also empowering to believe that a part of my identity I thought was unchangeable, I actually could change. It was another sea change to begin to wonder and possibly believe that perhaps I could be part of an elite group of athletes, that even if I was far from being a contender of National Champion, that I would at least be a part of “the best” at something athletic.

As one does when reaching for lofty goals, I found a coach to build accountability. After years of luddite resistance, I purchased a power meter and garmin, learned to use them, and altered my decade of ingrained ride routine to include data downloads (the horror). I didn’t skip any workouts, but between my full-time job as an architect and my part-time job as an adjunct professor of architecture, it meant I frequently got very little sleep. I wasn’t too worried though, as when school let out, I’d have more time to recover and build before the fall CX season. I kept dreaming.

The Quietest Punch to the Face

01_the stick

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