“Alright ladies, this is the highest percentage turnout for women at a cyclocross race that we’ve ever seen! You represent 23% of the racers out here, and next year we’re shooting for 50%. Enjoy your race, watch out for the sketchy descent, and sorry about all the bumps. First wave starts in 10…”
Photo by Pamela Palma Photography
Those are words you don’t often hear at the start of a cyclocross race, but at Lobster Cup III in Santa Cruz, that’s exactly what came booming out of the speakers before we scrambled out on one of the wildest courses I’ve ridden. I’ve lined up for plenty of races where only a handful of women are standing on the start line next to me, so to have the women’s fields represent a quarter of the racers that day was friggin’ cool. I joined the Team Rock Lobster family this year for a whole bunch of reasons, but when people ask why I finally joined the Crustacean Army, I always just want to show them this photo and say “duh!”
Photo by Ian Stowe
Since I’ve started racing, it always seemed liked teams were either women’s-only or they had that one token girl. I was usually that token girl. I love all my dirt bag bike boys, so I’ve never been into the women’s-only teams, but I’ve always wanted to be on a team with some badass women. And those two gals in the photo with me—Caroline Nolan and Campbell Steers? They’re as badass as it gets.
This leads me to one of the many, many things that makes Team Rock Lobster and Paul Sadoff so damn cool. Paul has always made it a point to support the women who are out there charging. He has a history of finding incredible female athletes to race on his frames and represent his team because he genuinely wants to support and grow their talent: Courtney McFadden, Stella Carey, Ellen Sherrill, Sarah Kerlin, Caroline Nolan, Campbell Steers, Shelley Olds to name just a few. Oh yeah, and Kaitlin Keough (formerly Antonneau)—she was even sponsored by Rock Lobster in her early days of racing! As Paul puts it, “you know, I just feel like women are not getting the level of support that men get in this sport, and I want to give them as much as I can give to the guys, if not more.”
But it goes so much deeper than just supporting the current badasses. Team Rock Lobster is actively cultivating future lady badassery! Remember how I said 23% of the racers at Lobster Cup were female? There was a strategy behind that. When registrations started coming in, our team captain and race promoter Brendan Lehman was bummed that so few females were signing up. He believes there should be the same number of ladies as the dudes—and why shouldn’t there be?
So, he decided to dig into the fundraising profits and offer free entries to any Women B/C category racers. How rad is that?! So, we not only had the largest percentage of female racers that any of us have ever seen, but probably the largest percentage of NEW female racers! If those new racers survived that gnarly course, they are certainly headed straight towards lady badassery. And that’s thanks to Rock Lobster. There’s also this rad new Rock Lobster junior team, and you should see these kids tear it up. It’s a mix of boys and girls, and they all just go for it. At the Surf City All Hallow’s Cross race last weekend, I was looking at a tricky off-camber section trying to figure out how I wanted to ride it. All the sudden this tiny little thing in a Rock Lobster jersey came rippin’ through the section like it was nothing. Keep an eye out for Shantelle Tupaz and her little sister—these girls are chargers!
Image by Ian Stowe
I took notes on the lines she rode, then rolled away stoked that the future of women’s racing looks bright and shiny. Almost as bright and shiny as this pretty new bike of mine!
Photo by Kyle Kelley
Okay, it might not be so shiny in these photos, but that’s cuz it’s covered in dust after carrying me to victory in the Women’s 31-40 category at Grinduro! This bike simply rips. I don’t know how Paul does it, but he built me a frame that fits my massive WTB Resolute 42 tires, doesn’t have a speck of toe overlap, and handles like a dream.
Photos by Jordan Clark Haggard
You know that period of time on a new bike where it feels kind of weird and you’re sort of getting used to it? That didn’t exist with my Rock Lobster. It just felt dialed from the first pedal stroke. This bike looks real good cleaned up and sparkly, but she looks even better and feels even more natural covered in dust and rallying in the dirt—much like the women of Rock Lobster.