Sammi Runnels | Austin, TX, USA 🇺🇸

Type of cycling: Bike Courier, Cyclocross racer, Mountain biker, Roadie, Fixed Gear rider

What inspired you to start racing?: In Austin we have a weekly crit series from March till October called The Driveway Series. I started going out on my fix gear. I use to watch my friend Mike race. I thought it looked really fun so i bought my first road bike and a helmet. I trained for about a month and then started racing, the rest is history.

What do you love about cycling culture?: I love the friendships I've made through the cycling community. It's amazing to be around so many driven people. I've been surrounded by so many strong empowered women.

Bay State Cylcocross (2014 experience)

I had never ridden my bike in the snow. Upon landing in Boston in the end of November it occurred to me I had never ever seen that much snow. Two Texas kids coming from 75 degree weather to below freezing was a pretty big change. Of course we knew what we were getting ourselves into. It just felt right. A true cyclocross race, cold and wet instead of the dry and dusty like we were use to.

The women's race went off first. You could say I was pretty nervous. Pre riding the course was my first experience riding in the snow. It wasn't slushie and melting either. The ruts were frozen solid as well as the run ups. I started the race near the back as I only had one UCI point. From the gun it was definitely more aggressive than any of the local events in my area. That's what I love about traveling to races. It's so amazing to be able race in a big field of strong women. This race was a huge learning experience for me. I could not stay upright. The ice was so slick and I just could not find the balancing point to save my life. The first time up the run up I took the right line along with maybe 6 other girls. We quickly realized the left was the only possible line. The girl at the front of our group of 6 slid down the completely frozen hill creating a pile up of ladies and their bicycles. By the end of the race I think I had fallen more times than all the other cyclocross races combined. It was pretty demoralizing. But that's racing sometimes. As I sat and watched the Men's race I thought about how tough the northern cyclocross riders are.

The next day it was above freezing! The snow was melting and it was muddy as fuck. Me and Tristan were excited. We at least had a bit of mud experience. The course was run backwards. There was a huge mudslide decent. Pre riding the course went much smoother, though it was pretty clear the mudslide was going to be the hardest obstacle. From the start of this race I was a lot more confident. Sliding through the mud definitely came a lot more natural. Unfortunately I did not bring a pit bike. Having a pit bike and a pit crew is such a huge advantage. Being able to switch bikes every lap to a clean mud free bike is such a luxury. My Di2 shifting held up pretty well in the mud though. It was pretty clear with 3 laps to go that my breaks were gonna go out. The mud had eaten through the pads even though I had put new ones on right before the race.

By the last lap I had no brake pads at all. Headed up to the mudslide I was pretty much terrified I was gonna crash. The hill was massive with a sharp right hand turn at the bottom. So I shot down the mudslide the fastest I'd gone yet and somehow managed to hit the perfect line to stay upright in the turn.

Overall Bay State Cylcocross weekend was the hardest race of its kind I’d done to that point. There just something about finishing a really brutal race and being covered from head to toe in mud that is pretty much pure bliss to me.

You can follow Sammi through her Instagram account:
Photo credits: Gingerbeard Photo, We r the catcher, Chiara Redaschi, Dani AP, Travis Hallmark, Roberto Mercado, Davis Dombrowski, Erik Binggeser, Jonathan Holland Neve, Massimo Piacca Bacci‎, Scott Strance Photography, Jason Sellers.

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