Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Women Involved: Rachel (Scott) Beisel

Rachel is a rider for Naked Women's Racing and is also involved with Ride for Reading!

In this interview you will learn more about the Ride for Reading program and the Naked Women's Racing program.

How did you find out and subsequently get involved with Ride for Reading?
I’m originally from Nashville and also used to work with a sponsor of there’s Swiftwick International. Small world, right?


And again, the cycling community is small so when I heard about this delivery taking place, I promptly signed up and had THE TIME of my life. It was so cool to see the kids cheering and super stoked to get to pick out a book. After having moved to Colorado and wanting to start a women’s cycling team that was more about giving back rather than taking, Ride for Reading came up and my co-founders and I agreed it would be great to support. We hosted the first delivery outside the Nashville area and now it’s in more than 20 cities and even featured on Forbe’s. It’s a requirement to volunteer for Ride for Reading to be on our race team and we’re now on our fourth delivery. We’ve helped deliver over 4,000 books to 5 different elementary schools. Our next one is coming up May 9th at Trevista Elementary in Denver.

What is the best part about being involved with Ride for Reading?
It’s hard to pick just one part. Can I do three? 
1. When rolling up to the school, hearing all the kids screaming and yelling for you and so excited that we’re giving them books.
2. Kid hugs. I get more hugs from children that day than all year. We choose schools that are 95% free or reduced lunch and come from poverty-stricken areas. Most don’t have any books, let alone have someone giving them something for free. And they show you appreciation by hugging you and telling you the million things they are going to do with their new books! Hard not to cry at that point.
3. Watching the volunteers get into the delivery. A lot of our women on the team have done them repeatedly but many volunteers are first time Ride for Reading participants. They are almost as happy as the kids are. 

If you were to talk to a woman who hasn’t ridden a bicycle at all but is interested in picking up bike riding, what would you tell her? 
 Join our club team! That’s what I tell everyone because we offer skills clinics from the very basics up to advanced cornering or different disciplines. But the best way to learn is find a group ride. Cyclists tend to always find each other and they aren’t as scary as they may seem. It always sucks being the newbie but if you can try to think about how exciting it is and you’re learning a lifelong skill and go easier on yourself, you might just have fun. Also, do make sure you’re self-sufficient. Learn how to change a flat tire and do basic maintenance on your bike. Most reputable bike shops can teach you or send you information on a clinic. You don’t want to have always depend on someone else to do things for you because mechanicals can and will eventually happen. It’s empowering to take care of your own stuff! 

Tell me about Naked Women’s Racing and how you got started with it
When I first moved to Colorado I had intentions of joining a different women’s team. Unfortunately, that team folded so I met up with some other women to start a women’s cycling team focused on giving back and making a difference in the women’s cycling community. That year in 2010, my two co-founders and I each recruited one member and started the team with a modest 6 women primarily as a road team. Year after year, we continued to grow. Today we have over 100 women, with half of them on our club team and the other half on our race team. Our race team branched out to and we have a Master’s team, mountain bike team, cyclocross team and a road team for Cat 4, 3, and Pro 1/2. 

You are on the Elite Team, awesome! How does one get to that point?
Be a really slow Cat 2? The elite team consists of women whose road category is Pro, Category 1 or Category 2 because they always group this set of women together - seen as Pro/1/2 on race flyers. Our elite team is also held to a different standard than the Cat 3, Cat 4, Mountain bike and Masters team. We set the bar somewhat high and you have to compete in more races than the other categories but the reward can be higher too. You also have to train more than the other categories to keep up in a Pro/1/2 field too. You earn upgrade points in races by your placing. 

What is your favorite part about being involved with Naked Women’s Racing?
My favorite part is watching the women transform over time. We’ve had some women come to us with zero confidence or couldn’t even ride 3 miles without getting winded, to winning races and becoming mentors themselves. It’s a long process and can take some handholding at times, but we’re not only impacting women’s physical health, we’re giving them a new outlook on life. Read some of our blog posts - they can tug at your heartstrings. Like this one for example: http://www.nakedwomenracing.com/2013/07/01/my-first-win-in-my-first-hill-climb/

What would you like people to know about Naked Women’s Racing?
We accept members year round on our club team. Right now, we are primarily a Colorado team but who knows what the future holds. Personally, I would love to see our model expand across the US because we have directly attributed to Colorado’s women’s racing numbers. I know because I sat on the Board of the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado for two years and did the analysis as well as co-hosted the Women’s Summit. Also, we host free clinics that are open to the public. These clinics bring in professionals to teach you skills on the bike, professionals to teach you mental health skills, professionals to teach you bike maintenance skills, and professionals to teach you nutritional skills. Our next clinic is being held at Boulder Center for Sports Medicine on Tuesday if you can make it! Lastly, we also have NO-DROP team rides. We require our race team to lead two no-drop team rides per year. So that’s over 100 team rides that we are doing year round that you don’t have to worry about being left behind. All are posted on our calendar on our website including the clinics too.Nakedwomenracing.com/calendar

You run USACycling’s Women’s Club of the Year-how did you get involved with that and what does it entail?
It’s an award submission process. We submitted in 2013 for 2012. The submission process usually happens in November and is an awards program hosted by USA Cycling. It was a pretty lengthy proposal but in my day job, I write lots of proposals and our team is so well-documented that it didn’t take that long. We were surprised that we won but deep-down I knew we had a good shot. 

What is your favorite part about running the USAC Women’s Club of the Year?
The other teams who had won who went out of there way to tell us what a good job we’d done and how amazing it was that we were on the list for such a short time of having our team in operation. Made some more cycling friends across the country! Also, our sponsors liked the recognition too!

What do you love about inspiring other women to ride bikes?
I touched on this above, but it’s a passion of mine. I can’t help but share it. The bike changed my life for the better and every other woman I’ve met who was able to get into riding, it’s the same thing. Watching our women almost “grow-up” is the coolest thing. We’ve seen ups and downs and transformations like you wouldn’t believe. Myself included. Being there for your teammates when they need you on and off the bike and developing bonds over hard training rides, inclement weather, not so great race results and a few victories too make for some incredibly, long-lasting and dependable friendships and memories that you’ll never forget.
I do hope that women never forget that they were once newbies getting into the sport and are kind and patient to each person trying to learn. It can be hard to remember that and I’ve seen cycling (especially in women’s racing) get to people’s heads, but just remember to be kind-you were a newbie too you know! You’ll never know the impact you can have on a person’s life with your words and sharing your wisdom. 
What would you want people to know about you? (It doesn’t have to be bike-related)
I’m going for the Guinness book of world records for longest female tongue :) I was scouted out and have submitted my application. I think I’ve got it too with 4” (longest is 3.8”) Weird, I know. 

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