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Velorosa Cycling Team Springs Into 2024 Racing

Updated: Apr 14

Last weekend several members of the Velorosa Cycling Team kicked off Spring with some challenging yet fun events.  Here’s a recap of their inspiring adventures!

Gents Race 2024

Six Velorosa team members took on the 14th annual Gents Race.  What is a “Gents Race”? It’s an unsupported, unsanctioned, unmarshalled five-rider team time trial meets alley cat, meets cannonball run. Five teammates racing for nothing more than pride over the roads surrounding Slater, Iowa. 100k (65mi) or so of gravel.  Winners get nothing but pride, high-fives and bragging rights.  Teams donate to enter and all funds raised are used for a designated charity or cause the organizers select.

Gents race weather is historically windy, chilly and somewhat unpredictable as Iowa weather can be in early April.  This year was no different with the morning starting out in the 30’s and eventually reaching mid 50’s in the late afternoon. What was especially notable this year was the wind, which was a steady 20mph with wind gusts upto 40mph throughout the day. 

Kristin Reese, Krystyn Williams, Dorie Hammer, Barb Bremner and Karen Chicken aka team “Dusty Muffins” was the only all female team start AND finish!  Here are their race recaps and advice for success.

Kristen Reese – “You don’t have to be the fastest, just keep moving and be aware of what’s going on around you. Help others when they are struggling and accept help where you are. Ride with teammates you know ride a similar pace as you, and that have the mental fortitude to keep moving when things get tough.

Dorie Hammer – “What an amazing adventure! GRIT! (My 2024 word) the determination and courage to continue doing something even if it is difficult! Is what I feel describes us in a word.

We had a wonderful and knowledgeable leader (Kristin) who was there to guide us the entire way. Teamwork and focus were our top priorities to get it done.

My first race and longest gravel ride are something I will always remember. It is quite a sense of accomplishment to finish something so difficult and with this extraordinary group of women makes it even better.


Barbara Bremner – “The Gents Race is known for its arduous conditions, and this year was no different. This team race requires teams of five to ride and finish together. The start times are staggered, and the cutoff for finishing is 3 p.m. The distance is a bit over 60 miles, all on gravel. The route is a figure eight around Slater, mercifully flat but always mercilessly windy.

This year did not disappoint. Sometime in February five of us (Kristin Reese, Krystyn Williams, Karen Chicken, Dorie Hammer, and Barb Bremner) committed to ride Gents on April 6th. This looming goal helped us each get out there and ride even when the weather wasn’t great, and the couch looked so tempting.

Saturday’s riding was tough but so were we. The winds required riding tight in a draft line when we turned into the headwinds and also the crosswinds. Wind gusts made it hard to grab a water bottle or wave at the occasional trucks. The tail winds were infrequent but welcome. When we drafted, we each pulled for one mile, from one corner to the next, and then dropped back to recover in the shelter of our teammates. You can do anything for one mile. And if you do that together for 60 or so times you can finish the Gents Race.

Our team, The Dusty Muffins, had fun, worked hard, and rode smart. We relied on each other when we weren’t feeling it and pulled each other when we could. Each teammate met the challenges head on and were physically and mentally as tough as nails. We were the only five-woman team, we finished, and we did it before the cut off. Any way you want to slice it, we won.

Krystyn Williams -  “I came into Saturday fully aware of the weather and to be honest, not really looking forward to riding in it. I knew I was riding with a group of strong, determined women and was just hoping I was going to be able to ride at the same level. We came in as the only all women's team and I really wanted to prove that we could do this.

I've ridden several Gent's and with the wind, this was the most challenging. Under Kristin's leadership we put together a plan and stuck together There were some times in the wind that felt like they were never going to end but we really came together as a teach and supported, encouraged, and cheered each other on. As we crossed that finish line as a group of five women, I think we all felt empowered and inspired by what we had accomplished as a team. I am so thankful for the opportunities I've been given and memories I've made as part of Velorosa and look forward to many more!

Karen Chicken -  “#1 be sure all the women you hang with are badass and not quitters! What a challenging few months it has been. But, this event and experience refilled my cup. There is no better way to achieve a goal than with a team of strong unwavering women. WOW! 32 mph wind gusts were our constant enemies. Our fearless leader Kristin Reese had us in our proper positions mile after mile as we headed into our battle zones east and south. My teammates are so strong mentally and physically. I was not but I listened to their positive affirmations and no-bullshit attitude. I knew there was no other option than to buck up, pedal, and finish. I say “we won!” Only women team to finish. Thank you Michelle Skorgersen for loaning me your boot covers. Saved my feet! Thank you Bruce, Rob, and Kyle for organizing 14 years of Gents Race. I’ve only competed twice but what I get out of it is more than cycling. It’s community. You kill it every time. Thank you Velorosa teammates and fun ride committee for coming out and supporting us. You continue to inspire me.


Rose Willey-Farver – “ If life was easy where would all the adventures be?”  This was my positive affirmation going into the day and boy did it hold true! Adventures were definitely had.

I started with/as Team Friends of St Gravel and the token female.  To be honest I was a little worried they were all faster than I was. Coming into the event I knew I had a very solid base of fitness and could go the distance.   I told them “I’m a diesel engine, not a corvette”.   Later they teased me about that statement because at the checkpoint I became solo on St Gravel.  At the halfway point they decided to call it day due to the wind and I kept dropping them!  So, I set off to finish solo as I was feeling good and thanks to several early spring training rides, I’d learned to mentally “deal” with the wind. 

Around mile 40 two Bike Iowa riders adopted me (the rest of their team had pulled the plug at the halfway checkpoint as well) and we enjoyed our extra helping of 20-40 mph winds like a merry band of gravel grinders.


My team started about 30min after Team Dusty Muffins and I had been hoping all day to catch them as I knew they were strong riders and would make the challenging day more fun.  I was excited to see them around mile 50 looking strong and determined!  As I pulled up to the group and we turned into another long stretch of headwind they formed up and were actively talking about how they were going to tackle this section.  I can’t say enough good things about these women and our team for moments like this. Inspired by their tenacity, they reaffirmed my own determination to see that finish line!


There was a headwind, and crosswind, tailwind, cross tailwind, cross headwind along with sandy gravel, fresh gravel, dirt gravel, hard pack, a little bitty bit of road. As I crossed the finish line with friends Dave & Jared we were greeted by the race organizers and good cheers of the Velorosa team members who had ridden out to spectate and support the race/riders.  Once my race was finished I was glad to join the Velorosa fun crew to cheer in our “Dusty Muffins”at the finish.


Shout out to Team Dusty Muffins for being the Only all-women’s team to start/finish! Couldn’t be prouder to call these ladies my friends, teammates, and inspirations! Thanks to the Gents crew, volunteers and racers for another windy memorable event for a terrific cause.


Sylvan Island Stampe 2024

The first of a three-part race series, racers ride tight and twisty island singletrack.  While the course doesn’t have much elevation there a lots of tight corners and punchy efforts.  Katherine Roccasecca was on hand to represent Velorosa, here’s her race recap.

Katherine Roccasecca - I used to race my mountain bike a lot. This year I think it would be fun to do that again. So I began by signing up for Sylvan Island Stampede for April 6th. This race is held on Sylvan Island, an old industrial site of some sort in the Missouri River near Davenport. It is tight, twisty, chunky, rooty, covered in graffiti, and weird. I love it! I had a bit of a panic the night before about not remembering how to pack for a mtb race, but I got my shit together and got myself out there bright and early Saturday morning.

Photo Credit: Angy Snoop

I lined up with the women—six of us (one teen and five in the 40–59 age group)—for the Long XC race which was five laps of about four miles each. Since I hadn't raced in years, and hadn't raced XC in years before that (focusing instead on four-hour races), I decided to use the long wide straightaway to the entrance of the woods to let the others decide who wanted to go first. I was fifth going in, but I passed one gal shortly after when I realized that I could get over obstacles a little quicker than her. That put me fourth overall and third in my age group, and that's where I finished.

I spent the whole race in my typical habit of smiling at the photographers and yelling, "Yes, I am having fun!" at the course marshals. And I actually was having fun. Until the fifth lap. Those roots and chunks are rough. It is easier to go over them faster rather than slower, so I ended up redlining my heart rate for the whole two hours. Oh yeah, that's what racing XC is all about. 


Thank you to all of the Velorosa women who raced and represented our team this weekend.  We hope you’ll join us in congratulating them on epic adventures, overcoming adversity and inspiring us to just keep pedaling!



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2 comentários

Great job, ladies! So inspiring 🙌🏻


CONGRATULATIONS to all of you!! Great job to the communications committee for getting an update out on the recent accomplishments of these ladies!

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