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.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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!

Leave a comment

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

View this post on Instagram

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.

1 Comment

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.

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

Fair Hill MTB XC

Wow. What a race. (Elisabeth’s race report.)


Squad goals actualized.

*My thoughts going in:*

1. This is known as a “Fitness course” or “roadie course.” I’d never raced nor ridden it before, but I was told to expect wide open trail, lots of fast cornering, and long road stretches. I’m feeling fit-ish, but my strengths are more on the technical end. Keep expectations measured.
2. Start fast, stay fast, act like it’s a cyclocross race. See above.
3. Get low when it’s techy. Pay attention to my body position on the bike to maximize speed. Send it on the jumps.
4. New cornering styles when possible. Big new thing learned at camp was a major adjustment to my body weighting and positioning while cornering. Plan to use it, but also don’t run into trees trying to figure it out.
5. Pedal the descents. I’d hit the Pumptrack Connector Trail in Belmont on Saturday and set my fastest time ever by really staying on the pedals. Carry that thought into the race.
6. Earn your turns. At the top of each climb or rise, ramp the speed back up before allowing myself a bit of recovery.
7. Pack a CO2 just in case. Noticing a bit of a ding in my rear rim when cleaning the bike Saturday, Willem strongly suggested I bring CO2 with me. This proved to be a very useful bit of advice.
8. Don’t give up. No matter what place you’re in, don’t settle in.


It was so fun to line up with such a big women’s elite field, including Meghan making her first appearance in the Elites!! 

*The race itself:*

The weather was beautiful and it was so fun to be lined up at the start, seeing friends I hadn’t seen since the end of cyclocross season and making new friends on the start line. We went off fast, and I led the charge up the hill, with Roz squeaking by for a few seconds in her very fast starting way. I got back around before we hit the trail, then led the whole first lap, stretching my lead over chasers Emma and Lauren in a few sections. I caught a bunch of air on the downhill jumps. My back end felt really sluggish up the climb at the end of the lap, but I told myself it was nothing, just a soul-sucking gravel climb.


Leading on lap 1, with Emma and Lauren chasing.

I came through the feed zone with a bit of a gap. Hit the first turn into the second lap and confirmed I had burped out a considerable amount of air and had a flat. Fumbled through using a CO2 to boost air back in as riders cruised by. I got a bunch of air back in, hopped back on and chased HARD. I was back into 3rd place half a lap later. I missed my second bottle going through the feed zone, very thankful to have made the decision to wear a hydration pack, but worried about not having enough nutrition to sustain my effort. A third of the way in to lap 3, I saw a glimpse of Emma up ahead. The masters guy I was with encouraged me on, I caught her, and then rode with her, following her great line choices for a stretch. I could tell I was really pushing her pace, and eventually I broke away clean into second place, wondering if there was any possible hope of seeing the front of the race again. As I hit the finishing climbs, there was Lauren. I was closing in, but without enough course left to make it happen. Came within 30 seconds at the finish.

*The aftermath:*

It’s hard to be too bummed about a mechanical when you can’t really believe you were able to recover from it and chase back so hard. It was a new experience for me to be leading out the pro race, setting the tempo at the front and working to open and extend my lead whenever possible. Knowing later how close I was to getting back into first, I should’ve passed Emma sooner, as I was definitely settling into her pace a little once I’d caught her. But what I’m most proud of is my mental game. After the flat, I could’ve (and in the past likely would’ve) told myself that 4th place was still good, or that making it back up to 3rd was surely enough of an accomplishment. Instead, I kept pushing, kept chasing as if I were the only one out there doing a time trial. Sure, there’s a bit of bittersweetness knowing I came so close to my first elite win, but I know I learned way more about myself as a racer because of how the race shook out.


Gotta love giant novelty checks, and trying to do a safe Mid-Atlantic Podium Jump with them!

Moreover, I was so, so stoked on how our whole squad did. We had seven racers across deep Open/Pro and Cat 2 19-35 fields, and five of us were on the podium. Shout out to Trek for making elite payouts equal for women and men!


Elisabeth 2nd, Open/Pro

Emma 3rd, Open/Pro

Meghan 7th, Open/Pro

Caitlin 1st, Cat 2 19-35

Erica 3rd, Cat 2 19-35

Michaela 4th, Cat 2 19-35

Sam 7th, Cat 2 19-35

Leave a comment

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.