It’s Race Season! Tips from Your Velorosa Teammates To Get You Started.


The snow is melting away, the birds are starting to chirp and we all know what that means:

It’s finally bike season!

We’re excited to bike to our favorite breweries, sit on the patio with our friends and pedal our hearts out.

But we’re also excited for the many races that are coming up and supporting our fellow teammates as they bike to the best of their abilities.

Want to try your first race this year?

We understand that it can be intimidating for beginners. But we’re here with some tips from fellow Velorosa racers on how to break into the scene:

Catherine Cluney entered her first race ever at Redfield Rock & Roll last September.

She started riding gravel late last summer and wanted to challenge herself.

“My goal was just to ride the distance and not get lost,” Cluney said. “I wasn’t concerned about my time or my placement in the race. I just showed up and rode.”

She missed a few turns and some of the hills were challenging, but because she showed up, she had a great day of riding and was able to complete a 50k race.

“I’ll definitely plan on riding some more races and continuing to challenge myself,” Cluney said.

Velorosa racer Christine Crow said the Redfield race was her second-ever gravel competition. She remembers that it rained everyday leading up to the race and she was ready to bail.

But some positive peer pressure from her fellow Velorosa ladies inspired her to get out the door and show up to the starting line.

“I kind of think getting to the start line is the toughest part of some races!” Crow said.

She learned a few lessons from the experience:

Lesson 1: Don’t start off too fast. Why use up all my energy in the first half of the race?

Lesson 2: Have easy access to food and water. I was two hours into the race and had hardly drank or eaten a thing. Another Velorosa racer suggested having packages of food open and ready to eat so that I don’t have to stop. Lesson learned! Thanks Rose for the tip!

Lesson 3: Don’t ever call a race “easy.” If a race is easy, you’re probably not riding fast enough. This was not an easy day for me but I learned so much and I am excited to make it to another start line soon!



Krystyn Williams, a veteran Velorosa racer, said her biggest piece of advice is prepare everything you ahead of time, so you’re not scrambling the morning of the race.

“Think about your nutrition and try products out before race day. I pack more than what I typically need just in case. Liquid nutrition such as Carbo Pro or Tailwind are excellent for getting what you need during a ride,” Williams said.

Our own Rose Willey is preparing for (hopefully!) the Elkhart Time Trials, The Tour of Hermann Gravel Challenge and Break the Cycle 200.

Rose’s biggest piece of advice for ladies new to racing?

Set small goals and then keep setting them.

“If your goal is to try racing, pick a race, make it your goal to get to the start line and celebrate that success,” Willey said. “No matter what happens. Take what you learned and set your goal a little bigger for the next event. Give yourself some grace, be OK with not knowing things and failing. Take what you learned and use that to get a little better — go a little farther until you get to the finish line. Then celebrate the heck out of that too!”

Here are some events to start your goal setting!

March 8: International Women’s Day 2021: Together We Ride — Get on your bike and celebrate with amazing women around the world!

Month of March: Bike 31 miles (or more!) for the month of March and get a t-shirt from the City of Des Moines.

May 15: Indy 50 Gravel Rally — this 50-mile gravel race is already sold out! If you didn’t get signed up, you can still come and cheer on your Velorosa teammates. https://www.facebook.com/events/428237068526348

May 22: The Beer Thirty — Ride a 30-mile round trip starting from Uptown Garage in Ankeny.

June 12: Explore Grinnell’s gravel roads at Prairie Burn 100. The ride starts at 25 miles with options to ride 50 or all the way up to 100 miles. Great options for beginners and veterans alike!

Written by Linh Ta - Velorosa Team Member


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Hey ladies, need to get in your volunteer hours for Velorosa? We have the perfect solution. Kristen Strawhacker Bonzer and I are organizing the bike support for The Des Moines Women's Half for 2021.