Featured Interview with Kelly Barrientes, Team Manager of Wolfpack p/b Hyperthreads

Wolfpack p/b hyperthreads Photo credit:   Michael Johnson

Wolfpack p/b hyperthreads Photo credit:  Michael Johnson

If you live in the Austin area or have traveled to a recent Spring Classic race in Texas, there's a good chance you've come across these fast racers in green and black aka the women of Wolfpack. They have kicked off road season with a bang, recently stepping up to multiple podiums in the Pace Bend and Lago Vista road races. What also makes us proud as sponsors is what they continue to do for women's cycling. Created in the Fall of 2014, Wolfpack has developed into a solid 8 women elite squad and 10 women club team out of Austin, Texas. Giving back to the sport, this team sets a great example for any women looking to get into cycling or starting a team. We interview Wolfpack Team Manager, Kelly Barrientes to learn more on what Wolfpack is all about.

kelly Barrientes, wolfpack team manager Photo credit:  Michael Johnson

Cantu Cycling Wheels [CW]:  Kelly, thank you for taking the time for this interview. To begin, what sort of sporting background did you have growing up?

Kelly Barrientes [KB]:  I was a jack of all trades and a master of none! I loved competing, and was lucky to go to a very small school where I could be involved in any sport I wanted. I ran track (very slowly), played basketball, ran cross country, and played volleyball. 

CW: When did you take up cycling and what got you into it?

KB:  I was an aerobics coordinator for LA Fitness and my cycle instructor quit and I had to start teaching the class. I had only taken one cycling class in my life and had HATED it. The teacher was playing show tunes and it was torture. Once I started teaching the class, I fell in love. About a year later one of my friends told me to quit being a poser and ride out on the road. One Sunday we went on a 20 mile ride and the next day I bought my first road bike. Three months later I started racing!

CW:  When and how did the team Athlete Architecture/Wolfpack get its start?

KB:  I had been on a women’s only team based in Ft. Worth that was going to merge with a men’s team. I was living in Austin and felt very strongly that I wanted to be part of a women’s only team, so I called up my coach (Chris Toriggino with Athlete Architecture) and asked him if I could start my own team and wear his kit. It was super late to start a team (November 2014), but I managed to convince the girls to join me on this new adventure and never looked back!

CW:  What does the roll team manager entail? What do you enjoy about the team dynamics?

KB:  I’m basically the team mom! I handle securing sponsorships and maintaining sponsor relations, team finances, selecting team members, coordinating our major races outside of Texas, support at races, basically doing what I can to make the girls lives easier so they have the freedom to train, show up, and crush at races! I couldn’t be happier with the group I have. The girls work so incredibly well together. It’s a well oiled machine. I’ve been lucky to have kept the same girls I started with and have hand picked the ones I’ve added over the years with a focus on personality and how they would gel with the other teammates. I genuinely love each and every girl on this team, and it makes my job so much easier!

CW:  What are some challenges you’ve come across when creating a team?

KB:  I would say the biggest challenge for me is finding time to do it all. I’m a mom of two boys, a wife, and work a full time job, so finding time to manage the team and make it look relatively easy has required many late nights and lots of tears lol. My poor husband. I’m also actually super introverted and tend to stay very much to myself. It has been very difficult at times to open myself up and assume that PR role that being a manager entails. I have grown immensely the past year and couldn’t/wouldn’t do it if it weren’t for the support of my family and the girls.

CW:  What inspires you throughout the journey as a team manager?

KB:  Seeing the girls race together is such an inspiration. I believe in them and know together they can accomplish anything. There is nothing like seeing them kitted up, rocking the wolf logo, knowing they believe in this dream of mine as much as I do.

CW:  We’re extremely impressed by the commitment of each rider on the team. Tell us a little bit of about how your riders are able to balance a work and racing schedule.

KB:  These girls are amazing. They will get up at 5 in the morning to train for a few hours before heading off to their jobs or school. A lot of times they’ll incorporate their commute into their training plan. They’ve been super motivated this season, in part due to the USA Crits series the team is involved in.

CW:  Can you give us a quick overview on some of the big races you’ll be traveling to this year?

KB:  So many exciting things are in store! One of the biggest races on our schedule is Joe Martin Stage Race in April. This is a UCI race, so many of the pro teams will be battling it out on the hills in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We are also going to be one of the 10 D1 teams to race in the USA Crits Series.

CW:  Congratulations on being a part of USA Crits! Can you tell us more about the series and #racefororange?

KB:  Thank you!!! We are so excited about being a part of this incredible program. We will be one of 10 “D1” teams participating in this series. This is USA Crits 11th year and what they do is kind of piggy back on to some very well established criterium races all over the country, such as Athens Twilight, Oklahoma City Pro Am, and Gateway Cup. We will be competing against 9 other teams for a part of the $50,000 purse for the women alone. What sets this series apart is the ability for our friends, family and supporters to watch us via live stream for each of these races. Look for the link to subscribe so you can watch us toe the line and compete for the leader’s jersey!

CW:  What are some team goals you have this year that you can share?

KB:  Mainly to continue to gel and show our competitors we aren’t here to just show up, we’re here to race. 

CW:  Off the bike, your team gives back to the cycling community through hosting bike maintenance and racer clinics to rides. Tell us more about that and how important it is.

KB:  We have been super lucky to have partnered with Bicycle Sport Shop here in Austin for this season. They are well known for their support of the Austin cycling community and especially for women cyclists. I remember when I first started riding I was completely clueless about how to take care of my bike, what to do when I got a flat, how to ride, how to race. It was overwhelming, and had I not had a few great friends to guide me along the way (and a stubborn ‘I can do anything’ attitude) I would have been lost in the shuffle and my bike would have collected dust in my garage. It’s very much a male dominated sport. A lot of times women racers can appear unapproachable to beginner female cyclists. What I have loved about hosting these clinics with Bicycle Sport Shop is:
They have locations all over Austin. We aren’t just limited to women in the downtown area! We can reach those who live north of Mopac and 183, and even in the suburbs of Cedar Park, Round Rock, and Leander!
We all have things to learn. After racing and riding for 8 years, I have learned something new at every maintenance/race clinic we’ve held.
This whole process has been so empowering to these women. I have received many messages from the participants saying how much more comfortable they feel taking care of their bike and how motivated they are to ride harder, ride longer, and ride smarter.

CW:  Where do you want to see women's cycling progress a year from now?

KB:  My dream is to have at least twice as many women out there riding their bikes! I would LOVE to see more women “opt outside”, more women’s events, more competitive women’s only teams. I get so excited when I see these women’s teams popping up on the scene. 

CW:  What has been the best advice you’ve been given?

KB:  “Walk as if.” If you want something, assume it’s yours and claim it. 

CW:  If someone was interested in starting a team, what are some important factors to take into consideration?

KB:  Personalities are number one. Having people that you could ride with for 100 miles and still want to hang out with for some grub afterwards is key. Also, set a precedence for your team. A lot of racers out there have the mentality of “what can you give me?” Turn that around and have the racers focus on how they can give back to their sponsors. We wouldn’t be where we are without their support.

CW:  Where can people follow you and the team?
Watch us race at http://usacrits.tv/
Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WolfpackRacingATX/
Instagram @teamwolfpackracing
Twitter @atxwolfpack
Website (coming soon!!!) atxwolfpack.com

Thank you for your time! We look forward to cheering you on and wish you and the team the best of luck this season!

Photo credit:  Michael Johnson

Athlete Spotlight: Interview with Carolyn Defoore

CD4 in her element at the Driveway Series in Austin.

We recently had the opportunity to chat with Carolyn Defoore aka CD4 of Team Athlete Architecture p/b Hyperthreads. Carolyn has climbed quickly up the ranks to a Cat 2. Along with her strong teammates, she continues to embrace the Texas racing scene to the fullest. We enjoyed the chance to get to know her more.

Cantu Wheels:   When you began riding, what was it about the bike that appealed to you most?

CD4:   I started riding with my dad when I was 13 or so, and I just loved getting to spend that time with him.  I would constantly ask him if we were going 20 miles per hour!

Cantu Wheels: As you progressed into the sport, were there any key individuals that influenced your growth as a cyclist?

CD4:   There have been several key individuals that influenced my growth as a cyclist, too many to name here, but I'm grateful for all of them. The first century I ever rode was also a very fateful day... Eryn Wike introduced me to Kelly Barrientes, now my team manager and best friend - who has shown me unwavering support on the bike and in life. And of course, my dad has always been and always will be my best supporter.

Cantu Wheels:  What's the racing and riding scene like in Austin?

CD4:   Racing and riding in Austin, Texas... well, spoiled is the word that comes to mind first. We have the best weekly criterium series in the U.S. [The Driveway], there is a group ride every day of the week for every skill level, plenty of hills to make strong legs, and a city government that is dedicated to investing in its bicycle friendly infrastructure. Cycling is a huge part of Austin's culture.

Cantu Wheels:   What event or race are you looking forward to most this season?

CD4:   I turned 35 this year, so I have my heart set on Master's Nationals in Augusta, GA. I'll be competing in the road race and criterium in just a few weeks.

Working with teammate LeighAnn Ganzar in the Men's Open race.

Cantu Wheels:   What is your most memorable day on the bike?

CD4:   I have so many memorable days... but I'll describe one of my favorites from a couple years ago. I did a weekend trip to Leakey, Texas with Velo View Bike Tours, and I can't even imagine a more perfect day... Incredible views, incredible hills, wildly fast descents, all followed by cooking dinner, laughing and staying up late recovering in the hot tub, drinking beers under the stars... I wish I had more days like these.

Cantu Wheels:   Do you have any favorite pro riders you like to watch?

CD4:   I can't say I have a favorite rider, but if I've had the privilege of racing next to them, my ears perk up a little more at their results. Coryn Rivera's win at Flanders is probably the most recent result that's given me goosebumps to hear about.

athlete architecture sporting the cantu r5c

Cantu Wheels:   Favorite location to train?

CD4:   I have a special relationship with the hills in Lost Creek, just west of Austin, specifically Barton Creek. When I was just starting to race, these were the hills that challenged me, got me strong, and gave me the confidence to get out there and compete.

Cantu Wheels:   Best advice for beginners interested in bike racing?

CD4:   Don't let anyone else define what you can be good at. Define that for yourself. 

We're proud sponsors of Athlete Architecture p/b Hyperthreads. You can follow them on Facebook or Instagram. Be sure to connect with and follw us on Cantu Cycling Wheel's Facebook & Instagram.