Wednesday, June 8, 2016

as featured in ESPN-W...Weekend Warriors: The science teacher who became a national cyclocross champion

By Doug Williams | Jun 3, 2016
Special to

Michael Schaub / Mountain Moon PhotographyMelissa Barker, in the middle, competes in cyclocross, an obstacle course-style race over mud, grass, concrete and other surfaces.
Melissa Barker is 40, but she can recall exactly what her coach told her on the first day of high school cycling practice. "He said to us, 'If 20 years from now you're still riding your bike, I've done my job,'" she says.
Two decades later, she called her coach, who is still at the Holderness School in Plymouth, New Hampshire, to bring him up to date. "I said, 'Guess what? I'm not only still riding my bike, but I have a cyclocross team that's pretty awesome too,'" she says.
Barker, who had been a ski racer and soccer player before she fell for cycling after that high school introduction, has a passion for cyclocross, a down-and-dirty sport that's a little bit like cross-country bicycle racing melded with obstacle-course racing. Cyclists race around circuits of 2.5-3.5K over various surfaces (dirt, mud, sand, grass and pavement), churning uphill and flying downhill, while dismounting and carrying their bikes over obstacles several times each lap.
For the past five years, Barker, a longtime science teacher, has been the head coach of the varsity cyclocross team at Dawson School in Lafayette, Colorado, while also competing at an elite level in state and national cyclocross competitions. In January, she won a USA Cycling national championship. After finishing second in national or world age-group championships the past three years, Barker broke through at Asheville, North Carolina, to win the women's 40-44 cyclocross title.
"At the end, I was just so elated," she says. "I had been working for a lot of years and been so close so many times. It was amazing."
Read the full article here:

Monday, January 18, 2016


Coverage provided by

ASHEVILLE, North Carolina—In a heated battle for the front of the race, Melissa Barker (Evol Elite Racing) overcame a late-race crash to take the win just ahead of Sally Annis (Pedal Power Team-MA) and Christina Gokey-Smith (Dallas Bike Works CX).
From the start, Barker, last year’s silver medalist, Annis and Gokey-Smith, who rode to fifth place in Austin, rode hip to hip changing positions but none letting any other have a gap of more than a few feet. Gokey-Smith led the race briefly as they blasted down the Kask flyover but by the end of the first circuit it was Barker in the lead with Annis and Gokey-Smith latched on.
Behind them Jennifer Nowlin (Power Fix CCX) chased alone in fourth and further back, last year’s winner, Kristin Weber (Boulder Cycle Sport/YogaGlo) sat in sixth, frustratingly close to the final podium spot behind Jane Burlew in fifth.

Half way into the race Weber looked to be closing in on Burlew, but slipped on the off camber heading to the top of the course before the barn and lost precious seconds.
At two to go it seemed like it was Annis’ race. Annis attacked Barker on the finishing straight and was looking strong. And later in the lap, Barker crashed, seemingly giving Annis a solid advantage.
That though was neutralized by Annis’ own fall at the bottom of a drop off just ahead of where Barker fell. While Barker nearly fell again later, she was able to recover and take charge of the race again, this time for good.
Barker stretched it out over the flyover descent and held off Annis at the finale. Gokey-Smith nearly closed in on the lead pair but had to settle for third this year.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Melissa crowned Colorado State Champ, Ken takes 3rd to close out the season

Colorado Cross racing wrapped up this past weekend with an ultimate weather showdown at Castle Rock's Ryolite Park, where mud, melting snow, frozen ruts and plenty of moisture made for a challenging and fun course.
Ken Benesh finished 3rd on the day in the Men's Open on Sunday and Melissa Barker took with big W in the Women's Master's race on Saturday, and managed a 6th place in the Women's Open on Sunday too. Congrats to everyone who toed the line!
Last but not least the team will head out to Nationals in Asheville, NC in early January.

Friday, October 16, 2015

What's a Grinduro?!

Kristen took a break from 'cross racing to travel to California for the first-ever Grinduro event. Here's a little bit of her story, which is found in full on VeloNews. Sounds like a pretty fun day on the bike!

As we move into the fall season of cyclocross racing and weekend mountain bike rides, a new kind of racing that combines elements of gravel grinding and mountain bike enduros could change what we’ve come to expect from off-road racing. Giro’s Grinduro — gravel GRINDer + mountain enDURO — took over the quaint logging town of Quincy, California in early October and served up a challenging day on the bike with steep mountain climbs, ripping singletrack descents, gourmet food stops, and gorgeous views of the Sierras.

The Grinduro’s unique race format offered a little bit of everything to a diverse crowd of racers. The 62-mile course consisted primarily of dirt and gravel mountain roads and included a healthy dose of climbing — 8,000 feet in elevation gain to be exact. However, unlike most gravel races, organizers did not time the race from start to finish. Instead, the new format borrowed from enduro mountain bike racing, timing shorter segments and then combining these times at the end of the day to determine the overall winners. Some gran fondos offer this kind of racing on the road as well.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Divine Providence

Near the top of any US crosser's list for checking the box on historic, classic and challenging courses where the weather can deliver anything from snow, to rain and mud, or simply perfect early fall crisp conditions, is Divine Providence/ KMC CX Festival at Roger Williams Park in Providence, RI. It is arguably THE race weekend of the year as it closes out what's referred to as Holy Week, where over ten days, six races are run across four classic venues in New England with top racers from all over the country participating in search of early-season UCI and USA Cycling’s season-long Pro CX series points.

Having grown up on in the Northeast but never raced there, Josh had long wanted to make a trip out to race these courses and this year the stars finally aligned to make it all happen. While Hurricane Joaquin threatened to reek havoc up along the Eastern seaboard a few days prior to the weekend, the mudder that could have been was only slightly wet and cold on Saturday and fast and dry by Sunday. The racing was, as expected, super competitive with huge 80+ rider fields and without any UCI, Josh lined up both days at the back of the bus, 10 rows deep. But with some great encouragement and cheering from his family, he managed to chase down half the field and finish top 40 and had a fantastic time railing the rolling, flowing and dynamic course that featured 3 flyovers, a massively steep run-up and/or chute descent and at least on Saturday, dreamy perfectly damp dirt.

It was a dream trip come true.
Easily my biggest fan on the day, cousin Sophie with a well timed photobomb by Daimo of NoosaCX. 
Team Cannondale's Hyde and White blew the field apart on Day 2, flying down the chute. Photo cred: © 2015 John Kavouris from
Dreamy course conditions on Saturday. Cold, soft, slick and fun!
The run up on the first lap of Saturday, if you weren't in the top 10 here you were chit-chatting your way up this thing, getting banged in the head with wheels and pedals from all sides and had a lot of work to do. 

Monday, September 28, 2015


Grant and Josh headed over to fabulous Las Vegas to kick off their cyclocross racing season on the infamous velcro-like gras of CrossVegas. This year, the main event was held as a World Cup level race, the first ever held in the United States and the fans and international racing scene delivered. 
The Evol boys debuted the new team kit and steeds at the late afternoon USA Cycling 1/2/3 race, the 2016 Giant TCX Advanced Pro paired with Kappius Components wheels and Clement tubulars
From a field of 100+ riders, both Gran and Josh quickly made their way to the front, and formed a select 10 person group for the first two laps of the race. This year's course featured more twists and turns, uphill off camber climbs, a longer sand pit and 5 sets of sand-filled stairs. 
After a tangle in this sandpit on lap two of four, Josh burned most of his matches to latch back on the lead group with 1 to go. Grant, the ever present Coach & teammate, went to the front and kept it hard but steady, giving Josh a chance to recover in time for a few final attacks before the drag race finish where he managed to pull a good sprint together for 6th and Grant 9th. 
Much revelry followed in the Boulder Cycle Sport / YogaGlo Cycling Team and Noosa Professional Cyclocross Team tents cheering on our World Cup racers. CrossVegas was a true spectacle, with thousands of fans partying in the desert night air, while the world's best battled it out under the lights. Music, beer, pro-level heckling and strobe lights filled the Desert Breeze Soccer Complex late into the evening.