Eliel Cycling is incredibly proud to work with Squid Bikes, and support the fierce racers of the Squid Squad. We had an opportunity to chat with Emily Kachorek, the owner of Squid Bikes, to learn a little bit more about what Squid is and what the future holds.
Read on below for a peek behind the scenes of the Squid Squad. Visualize the incredible moments they've had over the past year traveling across the world.
Emily, What was your first experience with cycling and bike racing?
I started bike racing in college. I didn't have a car, so I rode my bike everywhere. I wasn't playing a college sport and I knew UC Davis had a good cycling team, so I joined.
The Squid Team will race anything, cyclocross, fixed gear crits... tell us about what other genres of racing we might find a Squid bike at.
Squid Bikes grew from our grassroots cyclocross team but we ride and love all kinds of bikes. Lately we have been riding tracklocross (fixed gear cyclocross.) It's totally silly, impractical and a fantastically fun way to challenge yourself. It makes all your trails harder, it's great. Races are springing up all over the world and a big group of us are headed over to Tokyo for the first ever Tracklocross World Championships in August. We are releasing a tracklocross specific bike as well that we are really excited about.
Why did you choose to work with Eliel? What has that experience been like?
When we first started together a few years ago we really wanted to do full pattern bibs and Eliel had the capability to execute our designs. Other companies didn't. We work with Eliel because their kits are the best. They are by far the highest quality clothing I have come across. On top of that, I am from San Diego very close to where the Eliel factory is, which is pretty cool.
"The Squid Separates Collection was designed to be colorful, flexible and allow you dress more like how you would for other types of active recreation."
Do you have any tips for the DIYFS crowd that want to dip their toes in the bike painting game?
Go for it! Bikes are meant to be ridden and enjoyed. Don't stress too much about if the paint job will come out perfect... because it won't. If you have an idea of what you want your bike to look like, figure out how to make it happen. The process should be part of the fun of it but make sure you don't rush it and expect there to be some hurdles. When you're done you will have a one-of-a-kind machine that came into existence because of YOU.
Where do you find inspiration for the designs of the Squid Eliel collections?
The Squid Separates Collection is inspired by surf and skate culture. The idea that you don't have to buy a matching short and shirt. You just buy a shirt you like and shorts you like and you add them to your wardrobe. We wanted the bibs and jerseys to have the look and feel of board shorts and a t-shirt and wanted to be able to provide a collection of cycling clothing that all worked together. You can mix and match the bibs and jerseys so you are not always wearing a matching top and bottom. You can wear one jersey with multiple pairs of bibs. I never understood why everyone wanted to wear logos all over them and dress the same on the bike day after day. The Squid Separates Collection was designed to be colorful, flexible and allow you dress more like how you would for other types of active recreation.
Every Squid Collection is shot during an epic riding adventure, can you give us a sneak peak at the next one?
Chris has been planning some pretty big bike-packing routes, so I wouldn't be surprised if you see some of that in the next photo shoots.
Can you introduce us to the Squid Team for 2019?
We are super excited about 2019/2020 Squid Squad. We of course have Anthony Clark returning to the Squad. Anthony has been with us since the beginning and is everything Squid. After two full years traveling around the world on the Squid World Tour, Anthony is planning on racing a bit closer to home this year, focusing on New England cyclocross scene and National Championships.
Sammi Runnels will be returning for her 4th year and has been racing all the bikes, mountain, cross, tracklocross, fixed gear, road, and crushes it all. Last season Sammi tied Ellen Noble in taking the 3rd highest number of UCI wins and was selected as a member of the US World Championship team. This season Sammi is focused on World Cup races, with the goal of seeing what she can do on the world stage.
Nineteen year-old Ben Gomez-Villafane is the newest member of the Squid Squad, originally from Argentina, he now calls Santa Cruz home. We first meet Ben when he was a 12 year old grom, creeping around our CX set-up, sneakily slapping stickers on our bikes. We liked the way he rolled, his easy going attitude and his tenacity tackling the local Norcal Pro fields as a junior. Over the years, we watched him learn to bunny hop barriers, we stood in muddy cyclocross pit readying his machines and have been there with high fives and hugs when he took his Jr Cyclocross Nationals titles in 2016 & 2018 and PanAm Jr. Championships in 2017. Ben has raced cyclocross in Europe with USA Cycling, placing 13th at the Hoogerheide Jr. World Cup and was selected for the USA World Championships team in 2018. We have been patiently waiting for the right time to add him to the Squad, and with Emily’s retirement opening up a spot, we couldn’t be more excited to help launch him into his Elite Pro career.
Squid Bikes Co-founder, bike painter, frame designer, general manager, tracklocrosser and lead Squid Squad team mechanic, Chris Namba will be on the road for the 2019/20 cyclocross season with the Squad as team manager and head mechanic. He plans to spend the last half of the season in Europe supporting Squid athletes during the World Cups.
What is your favorite cyclocross race you've been to?
One of my favorite races was Tokyo CX. The course was right on the beach, it was super hard because about 1/3 of the course was through the deep beach sand. There were thousands of spectators all over the course, it was a great atmosphere. It was my first trip to Japan, so it was a really special experience. Another one of my favorite races is the WSCXGP in Sacramento. It is our hometown UCI race, that we help put on. We tried to make it more like a festival than your typical bike race. We have live bands playing during the pro races and the course wraps around the stage. With the local community out racing, cheering and hanging out it is always a really fun weekend.
There is a rumor that you won't be pinning on a number this year... Is this true? If no more racing, what are you focusing on next?
Correct. I officially did my last UCI race in October of 2018. Racing has been a major focus of my life for the past eight years. I raced on the road full time for 3 years and then a full UCI cyclocross schedule for another 5. The last year or two balancing racing and training with Squid was becoming increasingly difficult. It felt like the right time to step out from between the tape. Squid has great athletes and I am excited for them to carry the Squid torch. We always have more ideas than time carry them out and I am excited to be focusing all my efforts into Squid.
Squid has climbed to the top of podiums all over the country and world. What has been your proudest moment in the history of the Squid Bikes race team?
Wow, that's a hard one. I think my proudest moment was climbing on stage with my teammates Sammi and Anthony at my last race in Japan. Sammi took the win after she and I swapped the lead for a few laps. Anthony and I were both second. Knowing it was my last race was really special but also knowing that I was leaving the racing in the very capable hands of Sammi and Anthony and that we had all created this wonderful team is a moment I hope I never forget.