With 14 wins to their credit just this season, Team Zoka is serious about their racing, and are as passionate about their sport as we are about our coffees and teas. Read on for more info about the team, the uniform, a report from a very rainy, cold Star-crossed Cyclocross weekend and links to the team’s website!
We at Team Zoka are proud and honored to have Zoka Coffee Roasters as our title sponsor. Team Zoka, now in our second year of sponsorship, competes at all levels in state and regional events, with men and women riders of all ages. While we were originally a road racing team, Team Zoka is now home to athletes competing in track cycling and triathlons as well. We also field a very strong, and growing, contingent of cyclocross and mountain bike racers, and this year in particular, have developed into a major presence in these events. Cyclocross is especially popular here in the northwest.
The team meets regularly on Saturday mornings at Zoka for a two- to three-hour ride, the details of which are available on our website (www.supersquadra.com). You can find out lots more about our team there, including how competitive cyclists can join our forces. Just don’t be surprised when you find us to be friendly and easy-going!
When originally designing our uniforms in the fall of 2004, Team Zoka sought a strong identification with Zoka Coffee Roasters. The team went with a custom-colored deep brown in the uniform base, adapted from the Zoka color palette. Paired with a rich navy blue and contrasting sky blue, this beautiful uniform really stands out in the northwest peloton.
October 1st, 2005, Clif Bar/FSA Star-Crossed cyclocross race at the Marymoor Velodrome in Redmond, Washington.
“You’re training for what?”
“Oh it’s called cyclocross, it’s a combination of road and mountain bike racing, you know, sorta of a dirt criteria, we ride road bikes with knobby tires” is my typical answer. Puzzled faces communicate the lack of understanding…”well, you just have to experience it” I say.
Cyclocross had it’s beginning in Europe around the turn of the 20th century as a method for road racers to stay fit during the long and cold north European winters. The races are roughly 45 to 60 minutes in length and consist of sections of grass, mud, gravel, sand and asphalt. In addition, most courses contain at least one run-up and a few barriers that require the rider to dismount and carry their bike, similar to a running steeple chase. To say cyclocross is a hugely painful endeavor is an understatement, racing requires riders to compete within 10-15 beats of their max heart rate for the entire event; however, cyclocross is also hugely fun! Events in Europe sometimes draw in excess of 15,000 fans, in the pacific northwest, it is not uncommon to have more than 400 participants turn out for an event to compete in different categories.
Fast forward one month and the weather is turning nasty…perfect conditions for cyclocross. I am lined up for the start of the Clif Bar/FSA Star-Crossed cyclocross race held at Marymoor Velodrome in Redmond, Washington. It’s been a long season, I started road racing in early March, my fitness is coming back after a short break off the bike during the month of August, I’m hoping to peak again in early December.
Thirty or so racers line up for the start of my race. Unlike road racing, it’s really important to get a fast start in ‘cross’. The starting gun goes off and I can’t find my pedal and I completely blow the start. I must have been passed by everybody within the first 20 yards, I know this is really going to hurt, I have no choice now but to go extra hard and try and pass as many riders as possible before the race gets tight. Somehow I make it up towards the front… ‘gotta remember to save something’ I think to myself so I don’t blow up in the first couple of laps. Soon the rain starts and so does the cross melee, the grass and concrete sections are getting really slick now as the rain increases in intensity. I hear the music pumping from the beer garden, people cheering and ringing cowbells, that gets you really stoked. I’m in second position now and the lead rider goes down hard on the slick concrete, I move into first and remain there for a couple of laps until I go down on a very slick hairpin grass corner. I recover, but in the process get passed by the rider who fell on the concrete earlier. I try and hold his wheel on the back straight, but he turns the screws on me, I lose his wheel. I hold onto second place and am really satisfied with the result.
Here it is December 1st and snowing outside my window as I type this report, one last race on Sunday to finish the cross season. I’m leading my category in total points for the nine race series. I’ve won the the last three out of five outings, my fitness is holding up so I’m looking for a strong finish on Sunday. It’s been a great season of bicycling racing. I want to thank Zoka for their support of the team and the local racing community this past season.
-Thanks for reading, Paul – www.supersquadra.com