Team Laser Cats

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


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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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Caitlin: Our Health Hero

We are excited to share that Philadelphia Magazine has named Caitlin Thompson as a Be Well Philly Health Hero semifinalist for 2019. This competition will award $15,000 to the winner’s non-profit organization (Little Bellas for Caitlin) and $2,500 to the next 2 finalists’ organizations. This is where you come in. The next step in the competition is a month-long contest where everyone can vote daily through October 1st. Please join us in voting for Caitlin every day this month. We know that Caitlin is one of the many health heroes in our city (last year she was awarded with the Bicycle Coalitions Youth Cycling Award) and we are excited to see her hard work recognized through this competition. Caitlin founded the Philly chapter of Little Bellas in 2016 and has recruited many Laser Cats to participate as mentors over the years. Over four years almost 70 girls have participated in Little Bellas program in Philly. With the help of your daily voting, we can all help Caitlin win up to $15,000 for Little Bellas. This money will help get even more girls on bikes in Philly and around the country.

In summary, vote daily (through oct. 1st) here to help Caitlin win $15,000 for Little Bellas.

woman helps girl learn to ride bicycle
Caitlin Thompson gives Little Bellas that extra push to independent riding!


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Celebrating 2018

We kicked off the off season* this past weekend with a team meeting, enjoying vegan chili from our team chef, Sam, and lots of other yummy treats.  It was great to celebrate all of the fantastic activities that we’ve done this past season and plan for 2019.

A few (of the many) 2018 highlights include—

Racing the Philly Phlyer TTT in March

Elisabeth winning the MASS series for Elite women

Eve and Mary on the podium at the Media Hometown Cycling Classic

WTFisCX clinics

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Start line vibes at #wtfiscyclocross Week 2!

A post shared by Team Laser Cats (@teamlasercats) on

Helping coordinate the WTF Cycling Mixer

Caitlin winning the Bicycle Coalitions Youth Cycling Award

Emma and Elisabeth on the podium at one of their favorite technical cyclocross races: Sly Fox

Volunteering and working with Bicycle Coalition Youth Cycling, Neighborhood Bikeworks, Little Bellas, and Women’s BikePHL Devo squads

And finally, welcoming a whole crew of new members including:

Many of the above new folks participated in Women’s BikePHL Devo this past year and will be volunteering in the spring.  Applications for the 2019 cohorts will be opening soon.

In 2019, there are rumors of rosey challenges, a return of No Scrubs CX, more cx clinics, and a lot more cats on bikes.  We can’t wait to #sendit into the new year.

*Emma and Elisabeth are racing twice each this week at cyclocross nationals while the rest of us will be cheering from home.


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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…


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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.

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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