It’s officially 2021 and the first mountain bike race of the season is this weekend!
These past few months have been packed full of training, as I’ve been steadily increasing my training load in preparation for the start of the racing season. As of Sunday (2/28), I finished out the largest-volume training block I’ve ever had, with eight weeks, 1,826 miles, 108,000 feet of climbing, and 103 hours of riding. Now, it’s time to rest, refuel, and recharge for the season opener on Sunday (3/7), the Stokesville 60k in Stokesville, Virginia!
Though it will be my first mountain bike race of the season, it is not my first race of the year. For the last several weeks, I have been racing virtually as a part of the Zwift Racing League for the Absque Fines women’s team. Our motto is “Ad Infinitum Et Ultra,” expressing the limitless potential of the team. I’ve benefited from the camaraderie and challenge of Zwift racing, and am continually impressed by the many incredibly strong women racing!
I will also be racing for a new team IRL (in real life) this year: Ronin Velosport. To start, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity that Team Neighborlink gave me throughout the last three years to learn and develop as a cyclist and racer. Moving forward, I am excited to continue supporting Neighborlink Fort Wayne in their mission to serve the local community, and am proud to continue wearing the Neighborlink logo as a part of my current race kit.
With my transition to Ronin Velosport, I am excited to continue representing a team with an ethos I believe in fully. The founder, Mike, explained the team name this way:
Why Ronin? A ronin is a samurai who no longer belongs to a clan, wandering alone. In cycling terms as applied to this group: some were previously on teams and now unattached, some have raced unattached season after season, and some are casual or new riders seeking like minded individuals to join while enjoying their favorite pastime. Cycling is the hardest most painful sport I’ve ever tried, and I consider anyone who rides a bike a Samurai. This would make us all ronin…..but still Samurai! The word Samurai means “to serve.” Now we can all unite under one banner, as equals, supporting each other, serving our communities, and trying to make the world a better place. Velosport? Well that just sounds cooler than a bikey team. Right?
What is Ronin Velosport? Many things to many riders. We are a casual bike club. We are also a competitive race team. We are riders who love to roll a few easy miles and then laugh over some drinks and food. We are a collective of individuals linked together by a love of cycling and a commitment to live the simple ethos upon which the concept of this entire team was built: Just be cool to everyone you meet. It is LITERALLY the only club mandate! Be nice. Simple really. My goal is that the culture of this team is one of acceptance, good vibes, and positivity towards each other and all people, regardless of cycling ability or race results. Many of us have never raced nor won a race in our life, but that does not stop us from enjoying our bikes or helping others any less than world champions. In Japan, the cherry blossom is a symbol of the ephemeral nature of life. I have added the pattern to our kit to remind us all that life is short and should be celebrated. Being kind to others is the best way I can conceive to achieve all these goals.
– Mike Baker, founder of Ronin Velosport
I get it. That’s a lot. But in short, Ronin Velosport is a team that centers around inclusivity and good vibes–a lot like my motto of #ridebikesbehappy.
In addition to riding for Ronin Velosport, I will continue to represent my other partner brands/sponsors: Osmo Hydration, Honey Stinger, Garmin, Specialized Bicycles, AMP Human, and Ride 100%, as well as of course my coaches, Don Gallagher / DRT and Mario Arroyave / Utmost Performance.
Let 2021 begin! And #justbecool!