Introducing Stamina Racing and Why They Fuel with Skratch
By Erin Ayala the co-founder of Stamina Racing Collective
Photos: Anna Min of Min Enterprises
Stamina Racing Collective is a FTW (femme/trans/women) cycling team based in Minneapolis, MN that is working to diversify the sport of cycling through mentorship, improved accessibility, and community development.
Approximately 15% of licensed racers in USA Cycling are those in women’s fields.
Even fewer riders identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color (BIPOC), with estimates ranging from 8%-10% across all BIPOC groups.
Three of the major factors that decrease the participation of cyclists in women’s fields include inequitable opportunities, a lack of social/emotional support from others, and barriers to accessibility.
THREE TIERED APPROACH
Mentorship: Mentorship and support are needed to recruit and retain FTWs in cycling. FTW (Femme/Trans/Women) and BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) riders often experience acts of exclusion, feelings of isolation, and a lack of community. We intentionally built a roster to center BIPOC, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ voices and experiences and to provide the support needed to help them thrive and appreciate the beauty of the sport.
Accessibility: Start-up and racing expenses create financial stress — particularly for FTW and BIPOC riders. We welcome conversations and potential partnerships with companies that value diversity, understand barriers to accessibility in cycling, and are committed to working towards racial, gender and class equity. We will also be accepting donations to support our riders with start-up and racing costs.
Community Development: It is also important to address inequitable opportunities within cycling by collaborating with Local Associations, promoters, & the cycling industry. Equal prize pools, equitable field decisions, and suitable products can go a long way to show FTW and BIPOC riders they belong. SRC will provide resources, community education, and consultation to help the community and the cycling industry make decisions that elevate the women’s peloton.
We compete in road, cyclocross, gravel, and/or mountain bike events throughout the Midwest
We volunteer in the community (e.g., Free Bikes 4 Kids, Little Bellas, serve on the Local Association board).
We consult with race promoters to help support women, gender diverse riders, and BIPOC communities in cycling
We work actively to initiate and engage in constructive conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion
We support one another on and off the course to promote personal and professional growth
We believe Black lives matter, queer lives matter, and trans lives matter
To improve accessibility, we prioritize sponsorship money to support BIPOC & queer athletes, as well as single parents and college students, to assist with start-up costs, travel, and race registration expenses
We offer guest riding opportunities to novice cyclists who want to try racing with a team before making a formal commitment to racing with a team for a season
We limit our sponsors to those who are clearly working to diversify the sport of cycling
I began training for endurance sports 11 years ago as a first-year graduate student in upstate New York. What started as 5k runs led to marathons, which led to triathlons, and now cycling. As my distances have grown, so have my nutrition needs. I’ve personally had far too many races that have gone downhill due to GI distress and unplanned stops at porta-potties. It took several of those races for me to finally realize that a marathon or Ironman fueled by gels is not a feel-good activity for my body. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve had endurance gravel races that have gone beautifully with respect to hydration and nutrition. Based on these experiences, I am stoked to announce our team’s next sponsor: Skratch Labs.
Founded by Dr. Allen Lim, Skratch Labs is a nutrition and hydration company based in Boulder, Colorado. Dr. Lim combined his knowledge in sport science with his experience working in the professional peloton and brought it to the everyday cyclist via Skratch. Skratch products can now easily be found at grocery stores, bike shops, online, and at expos for big events. Their mission is simple and important: help people get better.
When we formed our team this summer, we knew we needed guidance on fueling and hydration, so we contacted Skratch to see if they had an interest in working with us to help get us rolling. Dr. Lim and the team have since pulled out all of the stops and we could not be more excited about this relationship.
Skratch Labs is a company that genuinely wants more people feeling good, hydrating well, and enjoying their time in the outdoors--and they’ll do what it takes to help our community get there. Dr. Lim hosted an evening seminar for our team on basic hydration and nutrition for cycling. He stayed nearly an hour longer than planned, simply to share his experiences, to answer questions, and to talk about diversity in the cycling industry. Our team took rigorous notes on some of the specific guidelines, but our biggest take-aways included Dr. Lim’s overall guidance and his perspective regarding food: Stick to the basics. You know more than you think you do. Here is what resonated with us:
Community is important. Often, what you consume isn’t nearly as important as who sits alongside you and across from you at the table.
You don’t have to set aside your culture’s food to succeed. Whether it’s white rice, shakkar para, or your grandmother’s favorite recipe, do what works for you. There’s a reason communities have been eating certain ways for centuries.
You are the expert of your body, and that’s the most important tool in reaching your goals. Start there.
Stick to the basics. Eat real food. You don’t need the shiny bells and whistles and the latest products to succeed.
If you want to try new things, do it! Experiment with products to figure out what works for you!
On a personal level, I give Skratch Labs a lot of credit for my hydration and nutrition success in some of my longest and hottest races, including DK200. Their hyper hydration drink mix and their energy chews supplemented my fueling while riding all day on rural roads in the Kansas heat. I’m kind of amazed to say it, but I had no nutrition issues over the last 2 years when using their products. If racing 200 miles on gravel isn’t the ultimate nutrition test, I’m not sure what is.
Erin Ayala (she/her) is the co-founder of Stamina Racing Collective, a Minneapolis-based Femme/Trans/Women (FTW) cycling team that is working to diversify the sport of cycling. Erin is a former marathon runner and Ironman triathlete who transitioned to bike racing in 2017 and hasn't looked back. Although road and endurance gravel are her favorite disciplines, she has also grown to love cyclocross, fat biking, mountain biking, and even virtual racing indoors during the pandemic. When she's not riding or racing her bike, she works as a researcher and sport psychologist. Follow the team's winter training and adventures on Instagram (@stamina.racing.collective)!