Monday, January 22, 2018

Women on Bikes Series: Delilah Guertin

Lilah. Living in Minnesota and commuting via bike year round. I've been racing on the velodrome for almost 5 years and travel to race track crits and other velodromes around the nation. I work at an amazing brewery in NE that allows me to problem solve and be creative. I've recently started a new photojournalism path (follow femme_oral_order on insta) which lifts up women/femme aligning folx in the cycling, moto, sports world. I'm really bummed about gender inequality in sports and want to do my part in lifting others up. I grew up riding motos with my grandpa and volunteering in our community with my grandma. I male up characters when I go out and do impressions/comedy which my friends get easily annoyed with.

I started Wreckhouse Racing and travel for Podium Punx (both on instagram.) I'm cultivating a new brand #somethinginspirational

Tell us the introduction to your #bikelife and how it has influenced your life over the years?

Really I started commuting only in 2011 which turned into year-round commuting in all seasons of MN. Using my bike for the only transportation is very exciting.

Commuting year-round is awesome! Do you have any tips/suggestions for budding commuters?

To remember what outdoor attire worked for me a few years ago I started writing down what temperature it was daily and what I wore. This helped immensely for the following years. Then I can always reference if it is 36 degrees out what to wear for my 30-40 minute commute.

You have been racing on the velodrome for several years, what was the original pull to give it a go?

I met some women that were starting a women's only track team and joined. Primarily because I thought track racing was so thrilling and secondly due to the small women's field which kept getting canceled during the race season weekly because less than 6 women were showing up to race. We immediately saw an opportunity to raise the women's race population.

For people who have either- never raced on a velodrome or have never seen a velodrome race, what should they know about it?

There are many different races within one race night at the track ranging from 2 laps to 60 on average. Although there are special nights in the season that we have long distance races.

For individuals who have never raced before, do you have any words of encouragement/tips to make their experience enjoyable?
There are clinics available out there and if not there are friendly people that want to pass on their knowledge a vast network to do so. Make sure you observe those disciplines before you jump into a race so you get an idea of what you are getting into. You are one hundred percent awesome if you even start a race you feel you are interested. Most of my race season is all about showing up at the starting line.

Have you had any biffs (crashes) that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
I feel very well versed in this question. There are many medical challenges that affect my year in and out riding and race seasons. My latest injury was earlier in the spring of 2017 during a criterium when my left patella had slipped just weeks before traveling to Brooklyn, NY for Red Hook Criterium. Not many athletes talk about how emotionally taxing and anxiety driven it becomes when injured. I felt useless on any kind of pressure from walking to riding. Unable to put any efforts down and needing to commute for work barred me from training for the RHC the way I wanted. Struggling with how my body reacted to doing some medical treatment the fall before and the changes in weight and muscle mass that happened after it was also affecting my mental state. If it wasn't for an amazing teammate Tiana Johnson of Podium Punx I would not be in the slightest prepared.

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
I would have never thought of hopping a curb or going through gravel or sand. When I was introduced to cyclocross that is when some very good friends had shown me how to take a barrier and jump a curb. With a ton of practice and falling a lot, I jump everything I can, even what I'm not supposed to now.

What do you love about riding your bike?
Where it takes me! You can ride beautiful gravel roads along countryside to riding through urban traffic. Two wheels gives me the freedom to travel in many ways.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I had 2 track bikes, one for city riding and my other an All City Thunderdome (which was recently stolen) for traveling to races and at my hometown track the NSC Velodrome. I also have 2 cyclocross bikes an All City Nature Boy 853 and Foundry Auger which are my commuters and race machines. I was fortunate to receive my All City braaap machines from a sponsorship when I was racing for Koochella Racing.

Tell us about your brand #somethinginspirational-

Last year I came up with this tattoo idea. All my bike friends have quotes or statements on their knees to encourage them to keep pedaling. Why not put “something inspirational” on mine? Then stemmed this idea I had to commit to. Using a new photojournalism project called femme_oral_order to start a series of images that lift up femme-oriented people in my immediate communities. The hashtag is a particular way of making the statement that everyone can make a difference and impact your peers daily with little effort.
You have started a photojournalism project at femme_oral_order on Instagram, what was your inspiration to start the project?
I was experiencing some growing pains within the women's cycling community locally and feeling like we needed a push in the positive direction. Our community has grown epically within the last 3 years. Sought better awareness about parity in amateur and pro cycling, threw clinics for each other to feel included and comfortable, creating spaces where women, trans, femme, queer aligning folx to learn about the many disciplines of racing near the metro with others they have common grounds with. Yet there are still social hiccups and miscommunication online and off and I wanted to show up to something and make a difference. Femme Oral Order is an online platform to show the many faces of cycling and other hobbies that make a daily impact no matter how great or small. It is pure in encouragement and primarily an opinion page based on my first-hand encounter. So far I am growing and learning my own ways to creatively make a daily impact.

What do you feel deters W/T/F from getting involved with cycling?
Safe spaces to learn. It is an intimidating sport when cycling is male-dominated and not many people have like-minded individuals around to show the way. Not everyone is open to the idea that there are people available inside your communities that do want to assist and coach new riders in any discipline. If you take the time to ask around I am sure you will find someone who is. This is the importance of having all different types of people aiding in being inclusive.

What do you feel could change industry-wise or locally to encourage more W/T/F to be involved?
Not just a sponsor or organizations initial drive for more WTF riders, but an investment in creating an ongoing operation to continue growing numbers and striving to make cycling better.

What inspires you to encourage W/T/F to ride?

Seeing strong femme riders out enjoying what they are doing. Having the opportunity in watching a child's first experience on the bike.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!

I used to be a singer/songwriter.

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