Katie Styer

Photo by Jonathan Koshi

Photo by Jonathan Koshi


Sweep Category: Speed - Women

What was the race equipment you used? 

Why is the Sweep important to you? 
The SMSW is a rad event that brings together every section of the bike community, based on our mutual love of the bicycle. However, the reason the SMSW is so popular is because it taps into our desire to do good and show love for our fellow humans. I grew up in a culture of giving and providing for those who are in need or unable to provide for themselves. I guess the SMSW lets me practice that, while having a lot of fun, winning rad prizes and blowing off some competitive steam.

Favorite Sweep moment/memory? 
When Laura Schnied-WEED won the Speed Lady category, and when Chris Phipps won the men’s speed category. Laura and Chris were so near to the top step of their respective Speed Categories, feeling their excitement and success felt a lot like feeling my own, but way, way better. 

Biggest thing you've learned since the first time you participated in the Sweep? 
“Have fun and stay calm.” The Sweep allows you the space to have maximum fun without having to get too competitive. If you don’t want to be competitive, the food you do collect for people still matters, the sights you see are still amazing and if you ride with a group, the memories you make are long-lasting. If you want to be competitive, stay calm—it’s a really long race.

Any tips for someone considering racing speed for the first time? 
Oh man. I don't have one but ten tips for all the new-junior-baby-street-sweep-racers out there. Check it:

1. It helps to take a second to plot out in what order you're going to visit each grocery store. You may want to deviate from this plan mid ride, but DON'T unless you are very, very, very sure that it is the correct move.  Beware the red herring checkpoint. If it looks extra juicy, it might not be worth it. I’ve never used a smartphone to plot my routes but I hear they help.

2. Don't let that nervous energy take over, but do let the adrenaline flow! Skitch, especially uphill!

3. These races have only gotten harder and harder in terms of what you carry. I recommend going with a large backpack. Sling bags are a killer if you aren't used to carrying 80 pounds on one shoulder. 

4. If you have a choice in clip-less shoes, go with the mountain option. Often it rains during these races and road style shoes on wet grocery store floors will be really, really, slippery. They'll slow you down because you'll be walking so carefully in order to avoid falling and breaking an ankle. Mountain shoes let you run! If you ride with straps and cages on your pedals, all the better! Again, wear shoes that won't get slick in the wet. Avoid shoe laces. Bag your feet if you don’t like soggy tootsies.

5. Don't forget to have a snack and drink some calories in the middle of the race! This will keep you going strong to the end. The 3 minutes you spend eating and drinking will be well spent if it keeps you from losing all your energy in the last 45 minutes of the race.

6. This race is fun with buddies! If you want, go it alone, but having a partner really helps to keep the morale high. Just make sure you ride similar speeds and are on the same page about routing.

7. Hip bags are the best! You can keep your money, receipts, and u-lock all in one place - having to dig in your bag is a time waster for sure. Try to grab one of those plastic coiled bracelet key chains sold at hardware stores. Put your U-lock key on it voila! You never have to search for your U-lock key again!

8. Your vagina is going to be angry. Make sure you ride your favorite, most comfortable, most broken in saddle and your best chamois. Use cream if that's your thing.

9. If you have 30 minutes to go, you might be able to make one more checkpoint. If you have 15 minutes to go, you might want to be on your way in. The 4PM deadline is real. Also, wear a watch, it's easier to check while riding.

10. If you have to decide between taking the short way UP the steep hill or the longer, gradual way around the hill, go the short way up. It hurts, but it's usually worth the time savings.

Good luck to everyone, have a blast, stay safe and keep it rubber-side-down!