2021 COY Womens STKD Racing
Women in Cycling

Meet 2021 Women's Club of the Year: STKD Racing

By: Guillermo Rojas  March 08, 2022

STKD is more than just a crit racing team. They're racing for inclusivity, advocacy, and mentorship.

Established in 2019, STKD Racing Squad is one of the newer women’s clubs, but they have quickly made an impact in the U.S. cycling race scene. Sometimes it’s because of results, other times it’s due to their inclusive culture but it’s also because of how much fun they have at races while grabbing podiums.

STKD’s mission is to grow the sport and act as champions of inclusivity, mentorship, and inspiration for themselves and for their communities. Focusing on Category 3 women’s road racing, their “purpose is to grow and inspire women to race at a higher level, push industry standards, and ultimately feed the elite-level women’s pipeline.”

Lisa Hilleren and Anna Affias upgraded to Category 3 in 2019 and found, like many other cyclists, the journey to Cat 2 was harder to navigate due to other barriers. The two cyclists came together and created an all-star team of Midwestern women to race in the Tour of America’s Dairyland (ToAD). With a $200 donation, they pooled their resources, designed kits and started recruiting riders for their first team. Eight women came together, barely knowing each other, to form CritFix. After 11 days of racing across Wisconsin, a few podiums, and the overall Cat 3 team victory, the foundation was set and STKD Racing was formed.

Build it, they will come

The 2019 team was created in weeks and generated a positive buzz between podiums, awards and upgrades. Lisa and Anna’s goal was now to do more. Instead of a team for one event, they envisioned a squad that could make an impact within their community and the sport. “Give a lift in the middle” was their mantra for 2020. “To change the conversation by showcasing that you don’t have to be a Pro to be sponsored. You can create a Cat 3 team, support your athletes, and compete in the biggest races across the U.S.,” said Affias. The vision was coming together; sponsors saw the potential, riders were selected, races were set and the winter training miles were logged. It was all coming together but then the COVID-19 pandemic delayed their momentum.

The training continued in 2020 and while racing did not take place, Anna and Lisa’s time and energy wereplaced into planning. How can we better support the riders and who are the best partners to help us fulfill our mission, became the topic of many conversations between the two during that year.

2021 and 2022 seasons

The hard work, endless sponsor pitches, detailed discussions, and supportive partnerships turned their dreams into reality in 2021. During our 2020 sponsorship search, STKD found the perfect partner for 2021 and beyond - Schwinn Bicycles. Besides providing matching team color custom carbon Fastback bikes for all their riders, Schwinn Bicycles helped fulfill one of their team goals - to provide resources to support all of their riders at some of the U.S.’ biggest races.

As the 2022 season begins, STKD has one of the best sponsor portfolios in Cat 3 racing; Schwinn Bicycles, Tailwind Cycles, SRAM, Kryptonite, Jakroo, Stages Cycling, Ridge Supply, SnowyMountain Photography, Roka and Sharp Coaching. The rider roster has two familiar faces, co-founders and the core of the team: Anna Affias and Lisa Hilleren. Every year, new riders will be brought in with the goal to develop them into the next generation of Cat 2 riders. The STKD alumni may not be racing in the pink and blue kits, but they spread the message and values of STKD within their home teams and communities. Former riders have even started their own local teams, following STKD’s mission of inclusivity, advocacy, and mentorship. In 2022, 55 riders applied to be part of the STKD! Beyond the core, they added five new riders: Hannah Glatter (Lawrence, KS), Austin Killips (Chicago, IL), Lisa Lim (Chicago, IL), Rachel Pearson (Cincinnati, OH), and Kelly O’Brien (Chicago, IL).

Current and former riders describe the STKD Racing Squad culture as casual. With monthly meetings to check-in with each other, they enjoy coming together at events and sharing their team values to welcome others into the sport of cycling.

Look for the STKD Racing Squad at this year’s Gateway Cup, ToAD and the Intelligentsia Cup. Stop by their team tent, they welcome all riders. Even if you don’t have the same kit, you’ll feel supported and inspired.

Also, this year, STKD’s sponsor, Schwinn, partnered with Anna Affias to amplify her efforts to create a positive and welcoming environment in women’s crit racing. Schwinn recently released a short film on the team’s journey to create a more inclusive cycling culture.

Support STKD, build a stronger community of positive and strong female athletes and follow their journey: @stkd_racing_squad.