Laura Winberry


Sep 9  |  Rewind

Posted by , September 25th, 2014 at 3:17PM    

[Speedvagen Family Racing teammate Laura Winberry is taking a short hiatus from her MFA in writing and will be guest posting all season. Look for haikus, shorts and the occasional race report from her to be accompanied by photos from teammate Jeff Curtes, or in this case, her own video work.]

From Portland to SLC to Ogden to Boulder and then back we, collectively: raced bikes, dragged luggage, led women’s clinics, heckled, ate food, laughed, slept, conversed, caffeinated, and did more than a few loads of laundry.

Here’s some of that in fast forward (photo below is linked to the film!). Hope you enjoy it as much as we did, and thanks!

A Film.

Sep 9  |  Haikus: From Me All The Way To You

Posted by , September 18th, 2014 at 11:29AM    

Laura racing in Boulder, CO Credit: Kevin Batchelor

Laura racing in Boulder, CO Credit: Kevin Batchelor

Seeing as how I’m midway through a graduate degree in poetry (really? what are you going to do with that?!), Rousculp & White at Speedvagen here decided it would only be to all of our best interests to combine the awesome worlds of cyclocross and poetry. I couldn’t agree more. As a result, throughout the season I’ll be posting cyclocross related/inspired poems, mostly in the form and/or experimental phase and/or permutations of the haiku.

Generally speaking, haiku usually arrives in its most well-known form of 5-7-5, with the numbers referring to the amount of syllables in each line of the poem. The so-called essence of haiku is “cutting,” which is often represented by the juxtaposition of two images or ideas and a kireji (“cutting word”) between them. An indication of season is also another essential of haiku. There’s more, of course, and haiku can spin off in any number of directions; for all intents and purposes here, however, we’re going wild with this. And by wild I mean experimental and against the grain, I mean counterculture and grit; I mean ‘cross.

Haiku is often typecast and pocketed as the peaceful, calm form of the poetry world. How nice. My aim is to show you its more feral moments, how it can be the perfect partner to ‘cross, and how it can, literally, play in the mud with the best of them. 

Cyclocross meet haiku. Haiku meet cyclocross. It’s the bell lap—shall we?

To begin: a translation of the badass Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827)

       Writing shit about new snow

       for the rich

       is not art.

Tell us how you really feel, Issa.

See? Haiku, and the individuals who write it, can subvert and be more subtly subversive than you might assume.

The following consists of four haikus (& their titles, as indicated with italics) strung together to create one experimental haiku strand. To note: line spacing can be awkward on WordPress; the following, more or less, reflects the form of the haiku as it was intended, minus proper line spacing.

To the man clad in spandex, you know who you are—

meet me: on the edge
of 5th / I’m a mess
dressed in fresh lime peels, precious
metal & $$$$$

dollar bill to my teeth & a flush
tongue to your calves / quads
pedaled into pear bulge steep’d
in sunrust & damp

with your cloudboom laughter,
slingshot through beard thick
& head back eyes flinging: rock
-ets, copper & dusk

hotfoot to bolt, chest heave & your
haunch like what beneath
spandex lucence, hips that flick
me on—demount this

Sep 9  |  Our House

Posted by , September 11th, 2014 at 2:32PM    

[Speedvagen Family Racing teammate Laura Winberry is taking a short hiatus from her MFA in writing and will be guest posting all season. Look for haikus, shorts and the occasional race report from her to be accompanied by photos from teammate Jeff Curtes.]

It’s (all) About Time

The season has begun, is beginning.

Folks emerge from the woodworks near and far, relatives gathering for a holiday, only it isn’t about blood because family’s where you find it. In the still hot days just before leaves turn to gold, in the final pieces of all that is summer, a tribe painted in lycra and odd tan lines comes together.

These are our people. 

And Speedvagen is our family.

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How long is one minute?

Jeff sat at a ninety degree angle for sixteen-hours, from Australia to Vancouver to Portland. Daisuke and Hama—ten hours from Tokyo, after three out of Nobeyama. Brennan and I drove up from Bend, which took a little over three. For Tina, about the same. The point is this: many hours of travel have transpired in order for us to be here, at Vanilla, at this very minute. There are also the (countless) hours of preparation that have gone into it all, and by all I mean the kits, the shoes, the helmets, the logistics, the sponsors and, of course, the bikes

What would it all be without the magic of the bike, of these bikes? A gathering of really sweet folks, indeed; but what we’d be doing with our time, I’m not quite sure. Running in circles in padded shorts perhaps.

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But add a little gold here, a stripe of revolver blue there, and we have a convergence of beautiful bikes, with beautiful people to match. (And I’m not talking supermodel beautiful. I’m talking thick laughter kind of beautiful. I’m talking people with the same kind of heartbeat beautiful; vivid, authentic, offbeat; gritty, wild, solid beautiful.). Which is exactly what happened this past Saturday morning, after so many long minutes of travel and preparation and caring about something, when the entire Speedvagen team gathered at the Vanilla Workshop in order to experience the start of ‘cross season together.

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Christmas! (or Chanukkah and/or) in September!

It’s not about the gifts. It’s about who you are with.  At least that’s what someone older than you probably told you when it came to receiving presents. At age 9, it sounded like bullshit; really, that person was right. But I’ve covered the “who you are with” base, so now it’s time to talk gifts. Sort of. What I mean to say is: now it’s time to give you an idea for how we exchange gifts in our Speedvagen family, as it’s the reason for all of the hours and minutes and all of the everything you read through earlier in this post. It’s simple—we come together. We do not receive our kits in the mail. Our bikes do not arrive disassembled in boxes. We do not do this alone. And I can tell you, after having seen the faces and felt the presence of each one of my teammates family members yesterday morning, early sun streaming in through an open garage, coffee and embraces and howyoubeens abounding, the way that we exchange gifts, the way we open our season, the way we do things—is what it’s all about. An entire workshop of creatives has labored, crafted, honed, perfected, and paid attention in order to make such a morning come to fruition.   

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And the morning was: in the flesh, which we borrow for only so long, about being eye to eye and hearing voices and stories from, literally, around the world. The morning was a familial introduction to our racing machines, and the point in time when we got the privilege of seeing Sacha’s face soften from we’re overworked to this makes sense and this feels so damn good.  Just like Christmas (and/or) we got to see one another’s expressions, revel in detail together, even cry a little. Then we all took our very first pedal strokes, down the block and through the roundabout, on the magic gold bikes that will continue to take us through it all. And by through it I mean through it, not around.

Thank you to everyone. Greasy knuckles, calloused hands, paint splattered faces, legs tired from standing—we know you’re out there and you’ve made the world of bikes a better place. Thank you.   

May 5  |  Il Postino (via Laura Winberry)

Posted by , May 29th, 2014 at 9:00AM    

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Ever since I first started riding mountain bikes in the early 2000s, I’ve regarded the act of bicycle riding itself (and eventually bicycle racing) as a direct parallel to life. A metaphor, if you will. I know I’m not proclaiming anything novel when I say this. The majority of you reading the Speedbloggen, I’m sure, have already come to a similar realization. Not all of you. But still, an honest handful. Which is all we can ask for sometimes.

Much like life, when you think you’ve made a breakthrough or figured out some sliver of something on the bike, your tire hits an unexpected rock. The curb. A knotted root. And before you can take a breath, you’re on the ground wondering what the hell happened. Sprawled there, elbows embedded with gravel. A slight trickle of red just below one knee cap. Your jostled mind slowly searching for bearings and a handrail.

But falling, believe it or not, does not mean you’re back at square one. Everything you have learned up until the juncture of face and ground was worthwhile. All was not a farce. Your breakthroughs were valid. You, indeed, had figured some things out. And ultimately, you had progressed. The act of crashing did not, and does not, necessarily invalidate any previous findings or evolutions. They’re still there and you are not a failure. On the contrary, the stumbles are more a reminder that, hellooo, it never ends. There’s always something new to be gained. To be learned. To absorb. Assimilate. Experience. Bicycles or life, it doesn’t matter, absolutely nothing is seamless.

I digress. The intention here is not to prep you for an exposition on how and why you should get back on “the bike” when you fall off. We’re not in kindergarten. What I am prepping you for, however, is a new kind of experience, subjectively speaking. It’s called single speeding. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Perhaps you tried it during your experimental college years. Maybe you loathe it. Don’t get it. Or possess a passionate love affair with its monotheistic ways. Regardless of your relations, single speeding is a parallel within the aforementioned parallel (see paragraph one) of bicycles and life. And that is what’s important.

Basically, if I were to rewrite this entire blog post in the form of a standardized test problem, it might look something like this: Bicycle racing is to life as single speeding is to ________. Given the following answer choice options: a. watching TV; b. crack; c. life approach; d. a cult following; e. both b and d—which would, more or less, be correct? While several make rational enough sense, the one that fulfills the correlation is answer choice c., life approach.

Option c also happens to be the conclusion arrived at after racing an actual single speed, one Sunday in May, at McCubbins Gulch. No, I’m not about to tell you how I won or could have won. Because I didn’t (and we all know how I could have: ride faster, duh). I wasn’t even close. And so, no, single speeding did not become my savior. Nor the secret to winning bike races. Nor the answer to it all. It did, however, make me think about life approach.

Having dabbled in riding a one-geared bike years ago (and by dabble I mean tried it, like, three times), this past Sunday was a veritable first. Really, I don’t think I understood the nature of the beast prior to this point. I often wondered why others would choose only one gear. I didn’t get it. The thing is, though, I think we need to be ready for it. The not having a choice to shift up or down when things gets hard. We need to have reached a point in our lives where we are alright with making a decision and moving forward. Steadily, and with minimal hesitation or judgment. Fully. Otherwise it won’t work. We won’t move forward. In all honesty, I think single speeding comes to us as much as we come to it. Chicken or the egg, right? Did I ask for single speeding or did it ask for me?

The answer is both and all of the above. Because, new riding styles or life approaches, we all find all when we need to.