Women on Bikes Series: Rachel (Scott) Beisel

Rachel is involved with USACycling’s Women’s Club of the Year and Naked Women’s Racing. They have over 100 women on the club with half of them on the race team. They also are big supporters of Ride for Reading as you know and have lots of video/photos for our deliveries. http://nakewomenracing.com

When did you first start riding a bike?
I rode bikes as a child but only around the neighborhood. I don’t think I’ve ever seen either of my parents ride a bike. Believe it or not I couldn’t ride without training wheels until I was almost 7 years old. Once I was old enough to drive, or when riding bikes “wasn’t cool” for my teenage years, I stopped. I picked up a road bike again when I was 19 thanks to a boyfriend who got me back into it. I kept the bike and ditched the boyfriend. Haven’t stopped riding since. 

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
I think learning new things or accepting new challenges always keeps the bike interesting. Riding is also my escape. While I do yoga every day and that helps too, the bike is truly where I always come back to. So when I first started riding, it was challenging myself to do a metric century, then a full century, then try a triathlon, then bike racing like criteriums, stage racing, and then catting up to elite, then trying cyclocross, then trying a double century, etc. The past two years I’ve been more into mountain biking and I find myself repeating the same pattern as the road. I’ve signed up for the Bailey Hundo and raced a full mountain season last year (until tendonitis had me off the bike) and catting up to a 1.Lately, I’ve enjoyed traveling with my bike and exploring different places. There’s always so much to learn and so many different styles of bike riding that I could do this for the rest of my life and still not have tried everything. 

You mentioned having to deal with tendonitis, what has been the most helpful for you in terms of managing it or dealing with it?

At first I tried to tough it out and that was dumb. I had a huge goal that I had trained all winter and summer for (Lotoja) and it got down to the wire where I was doing more permanent injury to myself and needed to withdrawal. I had cortisone shots, dry needling, PT work, another bike fit, and copious amounts of rest. Still it didn't work. But to be fair my rest was more like 3 days off. I still don't deal with injury all that well but one thing it did teach me is that there is more out there to focus on like reading more books, learning a new skill, or get a jump on your off-season. Cycling is a LIFELONG sport so while a season-long injury seems like an eternity, having a bigger view makes a huge difference. Without the injury I wouldn't have become so hopelessly addicted to hot yoga :)

What kind of riding is your favorite? (paved, gravel, mountain)
Can I have them all? I started as a roadie moved to gravel and then to mountain. Each has their own unique style, language, and culture. I love riding solo on the road and pushing myself greater distances, but on the mountain bike it is just so much fun and challenging for this roadie :) I love riding gravel on the road bike too or taking my mountain bike on the road when it’s a little too snowy and icy here in Colorado. Honestly, if it has two wheels, I’ll likely enjoy it. I’ve also started dabbling in motocross. Add a motor between your legs and ride through the trails and it’s a completely different experience.

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride? (If not a mountain biker, how about first commuter ride, paved trail ride, gravel, etc.)
Yes, I hated it. Absolutely hated it. I think I might have almost been reduced to tears. But then I remember how many times I fell trying to clip into my new road bike or how many times I fell as a kid trying to even learn how to ride a bike. I accepted the challenge and that’s why I made myself sign up for the Rocky Mountain Endurance Series. I won every race I entered (for my age group) and actually wouldn’t have gotten dead last in the pro category. I definitely left bloody but there’s nothing better than having a race going on to distract you from the pure terror I used to feel when gearing up to ride on the trail.

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
I still get a little nervous when I line up for a road race or out there on my mountain bike on a trail I’ve done a bazzilion times. As mentioned above, I sign up for things that put me outside of my comfort zone but still within the fun zone. I have never regretted it to date :) I’ve actually experienced a lot of growth this way and accomplished things I didn’t know possible. 
Do you use clipless pedals? If yes, what are some tips/suggestions for beginners that you would share? If no, are you thinking of trying it out at all?
Yes and what I couldn’t figure out is how to balance first before clipping in. Momentum is your friend. So get forward momentum first, then sit on the saddle and then clip in. Don’t worry if you can’t clip in, you can still pedal without being clipped in. Had I known this, I would have taken far less diggers. That’s probably my problem when I was 7 and still trying to ride without training wheels!

If you are a commuter what are some of the challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
I’m lucky to live in a place where I have bike lanes all the way to work. I also have plenty of gear that I’ve accumulated over time to make my commute easier. Planning the night before helps. I usually layout everything and keep a spare pair of shoes at work just in case I forget my non-riding shoes. Also, lights fully charged. I always have a spare headlamp and batteries for my rear just in case. Though I should bring rain gear, I typically don’t because my commute is less than 3 miles each way. But if you know it’s going to rain (or snow in Colorado’s case) always have a protective layer!

Do you still commute even if the weather isn't ideal? Why or why not? If yes, what do you do to make it more tolerable?
 Depends. If it’s very icy, then I will drive or ride the bus. My work provides all of us Eco Passes so riding the bus is free. We also have bike parking inside too so your bike gears won’t freeze up. This winter has been especially tough with negative temperatures but I usually am sweating no matter the temperature, even with a 3 mile commute.

Have you had a bike biff? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?All the time and at least once a year :) Actually, nearly every time I mountain bike I crash. You have to get back on and before you mentally recover, ride the obstacle. I 98% of the time can nail it the second time around. Also, my cycling team has clinics and one of those is with a sports psychologist. I have several friends who’ve suffered some pretty bad crashes and a sports psychologist helped them overcome their fear. 

What do you love about riding your bike?
 Everything mentioned above but here are a few things: camaraderie, the challenge, the freedom, the environmental impact, the reduction in carbon footprint, the friends. A bike has given me so much opportunity. I am in my career path because of a bicycle. I have made some amazing friends because of a bicycle. I am who I am today because of a bicycle. Not that a bicycle defines who I am. It helped me discover the person I am today. It was the catalyst.