We are starting a new series within the Fast Bikes Faster Women blog-sphere. Style Icons is dedicated to women within cycling that make us want to pedal faster, pedal harder, and look like rock star while we do it. I am all about inspiration wherever you can find it and I have found inspiration within the women who push boundaries within their racing lives while also managing to push boundaries within their own personal style and aesthetic. Most people can ride a bike, but who makes the sport oooooze with cool?
That being said, I have chosen to kick start this series with Laura Winberry. You might ask, “why.” This is why; she is a kick-butt cyclocrosser, haiku writer, punk rocker, gangster, dirt lover, master of creative writing, Speedvagen family member, queen of the streets kind of lady. When I sent Laura the set of questions I prepared, she promptly shot me back her answers and saved the document as “Glam Train,” which immediately warmed my heart and notched up her cool factor even higher in my book. Anyways, Manuel for Speed sums up the kind of person we are aiming to spotlight:
“What is a Human Athlete? A Human Athlete is an exceptionally gifted person with personality. We cherish personality because personality is perspective and insight and character and context and point of view and dramatic gravity. And that shit matters. That shit is the shit, in large part, that makes cycling the Greatest Spectacle on Earth. Bottom line, these dudes, our dudes, the dudes we’re pals with, they aren’t robots. They have feelings, emotions, families, ideas, proclivities, tastes, dreams and idiosyncrasies, just like you and me. They understand that cycling is a totally awesome sport but so is sunbathing and rollerblading… and just plain Chilling.”
Who is your favorite clothing designer?
I’m not much into high fashion, by any means. The design aspects of it can be intriguing to see, but I’m not really into what a lot of it stands for. Betsey Johnson. She’s wild.
What made you choose cycling?
Don’t things choose us from time to time? I think they do. Essentially, I’m a ratty snowboarder when it comes down to it. It’s all I did all winter long, everyday, for years. While in undergrad, I needed a fix, a stand-in for shredding if you will. I skateboarded quite a bit at the time, which I simultaneously loved and sucked at. My then-boyfriend and a friend of ours (Blake Bedoya! of Signature Cycles in Manhattan) told me I should ride my bright red Klein Pulse hardtail (the one my older brother had given me and the one I eventually learned how to mountain bike on) to the top of a parking garage at such and such a time on such and such a day, and race the alley cat that would be going down. I showed up and it was a motley crew of dudes, with maybe three other girls, who were total Punk Rock, and I think I came in top three or five out of the men. I started showing up to a few more of the alley cats and, lo and behold, earned the Queen of the Streets spoke card, which I still have. Of course, it was never about the placement. That wasn’t the point. Pedaling hard through gritty streets, jumping reds, and riding tightly between curb and car was exhilarating. In a strange way, it was my fix when I couldn’t be out riding rails or jumping around on a snowboard. Looking back on it now, cyclocross was sort of just waiting for me to find it, and alley cats were the perfect precursor: anaerobic, scrappy, and subversive. It took many years of racing mountain bikes before I did finally find ‘cross. Or, like I said, before it found me.
Websites you check everyday?
Who are your style icons?
Your mom. I’m just kidding! I don’t really think about “style icons” or whom to emulate, and I’m not married to one particular aesthetic. If I think about it… I’m more about an era/movement and what that era/movement stands for, and the style that then comes from that. In this sense, think: Riot Grrl, the 1980s/90s East Coast hip-hop scene. I also really appreciate the creativity of Bjork.
What is your favorite cycling kit?
The simple, straightforward, black Speedvagen kits we’ve had for the past two seasons are dope. They’re understated class. Which I like. Also, the Japan kits that Sacha and Ichico (http://ichico.flavors.me/) put together for this past season are beautiful. They represent the intersection of Speedvagen and the Japanese culture so well, with subtle colors and a design that’s easy on the eyes but still sets itself apart. To me, Speedvagen’s kits are always a double-take in the form of curated spandex. Which means you see them initially as something recognizably alluring and pleasing, and then you look a second time and the smaller details move to the forefront and the intelligence of the design comes through.
It’s a lot like Sacha’s bikes. At first they’re just the prettiest damn things you’ve ever laid eyes on. And then you do a double-take and everything surfaces: shit, these bikes are built to rally. It’s a common misconception that Speedvagens are too pretty to be ridden. But that’s bullshit. They want nothing more than to skid corners and push envelopes. I mean, they’re ‘cross bikes, that’s what they do.
I guess what I’m getting at is that I honestly appreciate a stunning aesthetic that’s utilitarian, that’s blue collar, when it comes down to it.
The Athletic also comes out with some smooth kits. As does Tenspeed Hero. Essentially, when it comes to kits, less is more. Though, this past season, Gentle Lovers out of PDX did a kit plastered with kitten heads, which was over the top adorable.
What are you most grateful for?
Life. Everything in life. So much is a privilege, and I do my best to remember this on a weekly if not daily basis. If you think about it, a lot has to do with what we’re born into, socioeconomically and healthwise. So much has to go right for a life to initially happen, and that’s just the beginning. So, yeah, I’m really grateful for life and the privilege to exist in it as I do. I know things could be otherwise and that they are otherwise for a large majority of people. Like, I don’t quite comprehend how I get to do so much and be here in this capacity and also experience so much love, albeit in many forms, when other people can’t or don’t. Things can go so many different directions from before day one. Life is insane, and I don’t understand it at all, but I’m glad to get to exist in it’s craziness, if even for a short blip.
Who are your cycling heroes?
Tina Brubaker. She’s the sweetheart of cyclocross. Been doin’ it with heart way longer than any woman I know.
Also, the folks who show up to a ‘cross race without a clue, wearing godknowswhat, and just go. And then they come back, because they love it. And they’re not thinking about watts or how good their kit looks or whether or not they’re going to get first or last. They’re just there because it feels like family and because they don’t mind adverse weather conditions and because they love trying and they maybe love the insanity of it.
I like people who try.
Favorite place to ride?
Ringwood State Park, NJ. Sandy Ridge, OR. That rad trail in Ecuador that we climbed several hours of cattle path to get to. The Shenandoah, VA. Bend, Oregon high country. Busy city streets.
Is there a fabric or pattern that you like most?
Is sweatpants a fabric? If so, I’d have to say sweatpants. I also like polka dots
What can you not live without?
It’s more what I don’t WANT to live without: Snow. Storms. Precipitation. My husband. Cookies. Appreciation. Perspective. Laughter. My Wolf Pack. The Weird.
Most anything by my boy, JayZ. Wu Tang’s album, 36 Chambers. As far as ONE song, phew: Jay’s December 4th, or his more recent F.U.T.W. Also, A$AP Rocky’s Fuckin’ Problems and Cali Swag District’s Teach Me How to Dougie, as well as select tracks by: Beyoncé. Kendrick Lamar. Robyn. Oh, and Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit in the Sky, Jeezy’s Put On, Lil Wayne’s A Milli, Remy Ma’s Whuteva, Juicy Jay’s Bandz a Make Her Dance, Drake’s 0 to 100. I love a spread of different music, mostly punk or things that involve a beat dropping. I could go on. But I won’t.
What I’m Working On:
Well. I’m a writer, a poet to be more precise, and a visual artist. For a more in-depth rundown on the current things I’m project-ing on, you, all of you, can visit them at lawilde.com, under PROJECTING. Aside from being in grad school for creative writing at the moment, which I LOVE, I’m working on The Muddy Season: (a collection of stranded haiku & illustration about cyclocross & otherthings), which I am (top secretly) aiming to weave into something with Speedvagen for next fall.
There’s also a collaborative experiment involving David Bowie, Black Matter, Dr. Emily Carr, and a crown of voicemail sonnets. That experiment is called Dirty Sonnets and it’s going to be presented at the 2015 Association for the Study of Literature & the Environment Conference, which is all about notes from the underground, the depths of environmental arts, culture, and justice. Seems neat to me.
There’s also another collaboration I’m working on with the other poets in my program, and the name of that is PoetSound: Voice as Verb. If you check out the site for it, linked under PROJECTING, you’ll hear us reading some favorite poems from some of our favorite poets. Did I mention poetry is Rad?
Hmmm. There’s also a treasure map of punctuation I’m drawing for whosoever has let a minotaur enter them or a sonnet—, a stellar book of poetry (of course) by Emily Carr, due out soon(ish) from McSweeney’s.
Oh, man, there are a lot of projects I’m knee-deep in that I’m quite excited about! Just check out lawilde.com so I can stop feeling like I’m talking about myself too much.