Monday, December 29, 2008

Velo Girls Announces 2009 Clinic Offerings for Men and Women!

2008 was a banner year for Velo Girls Coaching Services. We introduced a new series of clinics, the 4-hour Bike Skills modules, and sold out almost every single session. The program was a HUGE success. Altogether, we taught 27 clinics with more than 500 participants -- and 99.999% of you felt our clinics met or exceeded your expectations!

I'm thrilled to be able to announce our 2009 clinics. I hope you'll join us in the coming year, tell a friend or two, and share the love with others in the cycling community.

On-line registration is open now, so hop on over to and check out all our winter & spring offerings. As you know, almost all of our clinics sold out in 2008, so I would encourage you to register early and register often!

Girls Got Skills -- June 13th & 14th

This is our corner-stone clinic, and includes 16 hours of "you" time in the company of other cycling women. This clinic is a must-do for recreational cyclists and racers alike! We cover individual bike handling skills, group riding skills, climbing and descending, and training principles (including a time trial to determine heart rate training zones). You'll walk away from this weekend with a renewed love for the bike and the cycling community!

Bike Skills 101 - Individual Bike Handling -- March 14th, April 11th, June 6th
sponsored by

This 4-hour clinic is the foundation of everything else you'll learn on the bike. This is the clinic where we teach the old dogs new tricks and the newbies the fundamentals. You'll learn about balance and weight distribution and how that affects your ability to ride your bike safely and confidently. We'll learn skills like riding with no hands, emergency stops, and how to look behind you while holding your line, how to steer, and counter-steer. After just four hours, we guarantee you'll be a better bike handler and have much more fun on the bike.

Bike Skills 102 - Mountain Bike Skills -- March 21st, May 9th

It's time for a little dirty fun! We'll teach you the basics (and not-so-basics) of balance, weight distribution, and how to use the terrain to your advantage. Learn to rock, roll, hop, and jump. Master the art of steep climbs. Learn to descend with confidence and skill. After just four hours, we guarantee you'll be a better bike handler and have much more fun on the bike.

Bike Skills 103 - Cyclocross Skills -- coming in July!

Have you been wondering what's all the buzz about cyclocross? It's a fun but challenging sport that's beginner-friendly and appropriate for the entire family. And best of all, it's happening at a park near you! In this four-hour clinic, you'll learn all the skills needed to get started in this incredible sport, including mounts, dismounts, and how to shoulder and carry your bike. We'll also share information about bikes & equipment, the local cyclocross racing scene, and how to train for a successful season. We'll finish off the day with a simulated race and de-brief. You'll
need a mountain bike or a cyclocross bike for this clinic.

Bike Skills 201 - Climbing & Descending -- March 21st, April 26th, May 24th

What goes up must come down, right? In this 4-hour clinic, we'll teach you how to climb like a pro - seated climbs, standing climbs, short climbs, steep climbs, extended climbs. And then, we'll teach you how to come back down again, focusing on a fast straight descent, and then a technical switchbacky descent. Pre-requisite: Bike Skills 101 or equivalent experience.

Bike Skills 301 - Group Riding -- May 9th

Wheelsucking is an art! Whether you're a racer or a recreational rider, group riding skills will help you ride longer, faster, and farther. We'll learn draft theory and basic pacelines, beginning with partner work and progressing to more complex group riding skills and introductory racing techniques. Pre-requisite: Bike Skills 101 or equivalent experience.

Bike Skills 302 - Racing Skills & Tactics -- May 23rd
This four-hour clinic will teach you all the individual bike-handling and group riding skills you'll need to race your first (or your 10th) criterium or road race. In addition to skills & drills, you'll receive expert coaching on race preparation and logistics, and an introduction to tactics. We'll finish the day with a training race followed by a de-brief. Pre-requisite: Bike Skills 101 or equivalent experience.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Last Minute Gift Ideas from Velo Girls

Are you looking for that perfect & unique gift for the cyclist in your life? Look no further! We've put together some innovative coaching packages that any cyclist would love. If you don't see what you're looking for, just ask. We provide personal shopping as well as other consulting services too!

In addition, we've still got lots of 2008 Velo Girls clothing in stock in the shop, or you could order 2009 clothing. You can even purchase a Velo Girls club membership or register for one of our 2009 clinics online!

Professional Bike Fit -- $150
($175 value)

Ready to Roll
Package #1
-- $450
Professional Bike Fit & Technique Analysis on Computrainer
Two 2-hour on-the-bike coaching sessions
($555 value)

Ready to Roll Package #2
-- $850
Professional Bike Fit & Technique Analysis on Computrainer
HR Testing to Establish Training Zones
One, 2-Hour on-the-bike Coaching Session
8 Week Personalized Training Plan
($1,015 value)

Ready to Roll Package #3
-- $755
Professional Bike Fit & Technique Analysis on Computrainer
Heart Rate Testing to Establish Training Zones
Two, 2-Hour on-the-bike Coaching Sessions
4-Week Personalized Training Plan
($955 value)

Keep it Rolling Package
-- $175
One-on-one, private, personalized bike maintenance class
Tri-Flow gift pack
($225 value)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Velo Girls Named USA Cycling Club of the Year!

I always love to share good news and today I received some of the best. USA Cycling named Velo Girls the 2008 Women's Club of the Year. This honor recognizes us for our contributions to the cycling community as a whole, and especially for our work with women.

I want to thank everyone who has helped us achieve this honor -- our members, coaches, sponsors, friends, and fans. You all play an important role in helping us bring the best darn cycling to the women (and men) of Northern California and beyond.

And on that happy note, I want to wish you all the greatest success in 2009!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Velo Singles Mix & Mingle

ah, the life of a cyclist. we spend all our time, it seems, either on the bike or repairing our bikes or planning our next ride. wouldn't it be nice to find that special someone who loves the bike just as much as we do?

Velo Girls to the rescue! Like our ever-popular singles rides, we've decided to put together a series of fun, social events -- the Velo Singles Mix & Mingle.

the first event will be a happy hour at Steelhead Brewery in Burlingame (across the street from the Burlingame CalTrain Station and just 2 miles south of Millbrae BART).

so, join us on Friday, October 10th from 5:00pm - 8:00pm, for a fun, casual, social event. invite your healthy, athletic friends.

join our Facebook group for more details on this and other Velo Singles events! who knows, you could meet the velo girl or velo boy of your dreams. and if not, at least you'll have a little fun and meet some cool friends along the way.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

register now for our last series of 2008 clinics!

What a season! To date, almost 400 riders have participated in our various skills clinics. It's so gratifying to hear the feedback and follow-up from participants who credit our clinics with changing their cycling lives and helping them achieve their goals.

"It was a great experience. As I look back at all I learned, I can't believe how much I took away that I never expected. Great job - thanks so much for offering to everyday cyclists!"

"We were all there to learn something regardless of skill level -- a good non-threatening environment."

"Given the reputation of the Velo Girls, my expectations going into the clinic were very high. That being said, the clinic exceeded all of my expectations. I couldn't have been more pleased with what I learned and with how the material was presented to us."

"There were so many things that I learned that after riding for 20+ years I never knew about - it was fantastic to better hone the skills."

"I felt like the tips and suggestions I got that were specific to me were very useful. Even though I was sharing the coaches' time with the other group members, I felt as though I was getting my own little coaching session too."

"We had the most excellent training over this weekend and a great value for the money spent. I can go on and on. This weekend was life changing for me and I think the group as a whole. Thanks for doing what you do, you help make lives better."

"I wanted to personally thank you for your efforts this past weekend. I was extremely impressed by the Girls Got Skills program -- both how you broke down each skill and then how each skill we accomplished built successively on the next. Then of course the program moved on to practical application of those skills."

"I was very, very impressed, and of course motivated to ride even more as a result. Certainly one of the best coaching/teaching experiences I have ever been a part of (of any kind)."

"Thank you for developing such a wonderful program. I am sure many, many women have found their passion/new hobbies as a direct result of this incredible program."

We've got three clinics left on the 2008 calendar, and on-line registration is now open:

Bike Skills 101 sponsored by -- Individual Bike Handling -- Oct. 26th (co-ed)

This clinic is the foundation of everything else you'll learn on the bike. This is the clinic where we teach the old dogs new tricks. You'll learn about balance and weight distribution and how that affects your ability to ride your bike safely and confidently. We'll learn skills like riding with no hands, emergency stops, and how to look behind you while holding your line, how to steer, and counter-steer. After just four hours, we guarantee you'll be a better bike handler and have much more fun on the bike.

Bike Skills 201 -- Climbing & Descending -- November 8th (co-ed)

What goes up must come down, right? In this 4-hour clinic, we'll teach you how to climb like a pro - seated climbs, standing climbs, short climbs, steep climbs, extended climbs. And then, we'll teach you how to come back down again, focusing on a fast straight descent, and then a technical switchbacky descent. Pre-requisite: Bike Skills 101 or equivalent experience (this is not a beginner clinic).

Bike Skills 301 -- Group Riding -- November 15th (co-ed)

Whether you're a racer or a recreational rider, group riding skills will help you ride longer, faster, and farther. We'll learn draft theory, communication and the skills to ride with 2 riders or 20, starting with basic pacelines, and progressing to more complex group riding skills and introductory racing techniques. Pre-requisite: Bike Skills 101 or equivalent experience (this is not a beginner clinic).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cyclocross and Mountain Bike Clinics this Weekend!

Wow! This has been the year for Velo Girls clinics. Every weekend we've had sold-out road clinics for both women and men.

This weekend, we switch the focus to the dirt. I'll be co-coaching two new off-road clinics for 2008:

Bike Skills 102 -- Mountain Bike Skills (co-ed)
Saturday, Sept 13th -- 1:00pm - 5:00pm -- Palo Alto

Ron Castia and I have developed a fabulous clinic that will meet the needs of novice and intermediate mountain bikers alike. Filled with skills, skills, skills, you'll ride away understanding balance, weight distribution, terrain, and equipment., ready to conquer switchbacks and jumps and drops and dirt of all types.

Ron Castia has been riding and racing for 11 years. He's a CAT2 on the road and for cyclocross and a semi-pro mountain bike racer. His mountain bike career highlights include a victories at the 24 Hours of Adrenaline, Sea Otter Classic, and the 24 Hours of Tahoe. He has been mentoring and coaching informally for many years and just received his USA Cycling Coach License.

Ron is the founder, chief cook and bottle washer of the East Bay Cyclists -- InfoVista Cycling.

Bike Skills 103 -- Cyclocross Skills (co-ed)
Saturday, Sept 13th -- 8:00am -- 12:00pm -- San Mateo

Unravel the mysteries of this cult sport. Learn what all the cool kids do to have fun in the fall. We'll teach you to run and jump and fly up hills carrying your bike! We'll mount, dismount, suitcase and shoulder. All you need is a cyclocross or mountain bike, a sense of adventure, and a smile! We'll share information about riding and racing, equipment, and all the other fun stuff this incredible sport involves. Once you've tried'll be hooked!

Who better to coach a cyclocross clinic than the Mack-Daddy of NorCal Cyclocross, John Funke! John did the full conversion from roadie-ism to cyclocross after moving to Northern California in 1998 and realizing there was much more to life than 100-mile road rides. He races Elite and Masters for Sycip Racing, and occasionally finds his way to the lower steps of the podium in spite of nagging back problems, two young boys, and a rock-star wife. John is the editor and webmaster of the NCNCA Cyclocross Website for fun and works for Fujitsu Labs the rest of the time. His blog is at

(photo of John by Jon Suzuki -- Missing Link Bicycle Collective)

Registration is limited but there is still space available for both of these clinics -- clickity-click for all the deets:

Velo Girls Coaching Services Clinic Registration.

Monday, September 1, 2008

check your neck

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month.

Go ahead, check your neck -- it just takes a minute!

What to look for:

  • lumps or fullness in the neck
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • difficult swallowing, breathing, or speaking (or a change in your voice).

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

LOOK KEO Pedal Recall

Look Keo Pedals manufactured in 2004 and 2005 are being recalled.

Details here:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"are you scared to ride your bike?"

that was the question one of my development team racers posed to me on Sunday morning after I told her about my crash on Saturday.

"are you scared to ride your bike now?"

my response, "of course not." I wasn't scared to finish my ride after the crash and I'm not scared to ride now. my crash was a flukey situation and I didn't feel any fear of getting back on the bike. I'm sure it helped that my injuries were minor (bruising and a skinned knee).

all the same, I always tell folks that I don't crash. counting back, I've had 5 crashes in the 9 years I've been riding as an adult. only one of those was on the road bike, two on the cyclocross bike, and two on the mountain bike. I'm a relatively conservative rider and I've got good skills and good intuition. crashing could prevent me from doing my job (and I can't afford that). so, I make it my practice not to crash.

"are you scared to ride your bike now?"

the more I think about her question, the more I realize that there are lots of fears involved in our sport.

I rode throughout childhood. I remember the day I removed my own training wheels because my father was working and the boys in the neighborhood made fun of me. I remember the day I rode into the back of a parked car. I remember the day I crashed on the old railroad bridge over Seeley Creek when my front wheel got caught between two planks. I remember the day I got hit by a car. I remember riding to my boyfriend's house in my jeans and no helmet. I remember riding to my job as a bartender at the golf course. and then, I finished college and I didn't ride anymore.

I bought a mountain bike in 1990 because I wanted to quit smoking and I thought riding a bike would help me with that. when I started riding again in 1990 I was afraid of everything. I was afraid of going fast. I was afraid of falling off the side of the road. I was afraid of going downhill. I was afraid of getting lost. I was afraid of someone harming me. I was afraid of cars. I was afraid of dogs. I was just plain afraid of riding my bike. and so I rode it half a dozen times and never touched it again until 1999.

"are you scared to ride your bike now?"

I hung up my bike for nearly a decade. when I started riding again in 1999, I still had all of those same fears. but I also had a support system of riding friends, a really big goal (the California AIDS Ride), and a great desire to be healthy and ride my bike so, one by one, I conquered my fears.

as a skills coach, I've developed my teaching style and curriculum based on the fact that I know many women (and some men) harbor the same fears that I did as a new rider. and, as adults, we're uncomfortable telling folks that we're afraid of something as simple as riding a bike. my goal is to provide riders with the tools to gain confidence on the bike and alleviate their fears.

fear is a complex emotion, causing us to avoid risk. fear can be paralyzing. fear can cause us to make irrational decisions. but a healthy respect for the risks of the sport can help you keep the skin on your knees.

"are you scared to ride your bike now?"

the sport of bicycling has inherent risks. we all know that. I think most of us subconsciously push the threat of those risks to the back of our mind so we can go about the day-to-day business of riding our bikes. but then, something happens -- a close call, a crash, a tragedy -- that reminds us that each and every time we throw a leg over the top tube, we're taking a risk. we're placing our trust in others -- the bike manufacturers, our mechanic, other riders, cars, trail designers, ourselves -- that we will finish our ride in one piece.

each time we get that wake-up call, we have to make that decision again -- will we choose the risky path and ride our bike? for me, the answer will always be a resounding "yes."

there are lots of risks in life. I could die eating in a restaurant. I could die walking across the street. I could die flying on a plane. I could die riding my bike.

"are you scared to ride your bike now?"

I plan to live my life to the fullest. I choose to take a few risks now & then. I'll gladly take a few bumps and bruises in exchange for the opportunity to stretch my legs, meet fabulous friends, see beautiful places, and enjoy the sport I love. I would much rather enjoy each and every minute of my life, riding my bike, than sit on the couch worrying about risk.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

some for the girls and some for the boys

Velo Girls Coaching Services Announces Summer/Fall Clinic Schedule

Due to popular demand, we've expanded our clinic offerings for summer and fall 2008. We introduced our new 4-hour "Bike Skills" modules earlier this spring and have experienced sell-out clinics each weekend. Whether you're a new rider trying to flatten the learning curve, or an old dog who wants to learn some new tricks, we guarantee that you'll ride away a safer, more efficient, and more confident rider.

Register today for these upcoming clinics:

Bike Skills 101 -- Individual Bike Handling Skills -- Aug 17th (women), Aug 17th (men), Oct 26th (co-ed)

Bike Skills 102 -- Mountain Bike Skills
-- Sept 13th (co-ed)

Bike Skills 103 -- Cyclocross Skills
-- Sept 13th (co-ed)

Bike Skills 201 -- Climbing & Descending
-- Sept 21st (co-ed)

Bike Skills 301 -- Group Riding Skills
-- Sept 20th (co-ed)

Girls Got Skills -- 2-day women's cycling clinic -- Sept 6th & 7th

More details and registration here:

Monday, July 21, 2008!

on Saturday we raced in a 100-mile, mixed terrain Alley Kat. Lauren, Katy and I decided it would be fun to do this together, although we also decided the fun quotient would decrease over 50 miles, so we planned an early bail-out. I called it the official "girls" course, and since we were the only three women who participated, I think that counts.

so, what's an alley cat, you ask? it's a form of urban racing that mimics a bike messenger's job -- ride from the start to a check-point, get a new assignment/map to the next check-point, ride there, get some more directions, ride, check-point, ride, check-point, you get the idea. of course, this race also included beer and food and some games, too (at least on the long course, or so we hear).

being neither a messenger nor a hipster, I wasn't sure what to expect. I'd never done anything like this and didn't want to stick out as a nerdy roadie (even though I am one). so, I got a pair of skate-boarder shorts that matched my team kit and tried to look all urban-like (FAIL). most of us seemed to be on cyclocross bikes. there were a few mountain bikes, some single speeds (silly boys) and even one daring dude on a road bike.

the starting point was kept top-secret until midnight on Friday. we met at a cold and foggy Golden Gate Park on Saturday morning. as everyone gathered, it became clear that there was a wide mix of folks -- some I know from the road racing world, some crossers, and some urban hipsters. there were lots of cute boys in spandex. and three girls -- me, Katy, and Lauren. we declared ourselves the winners and decided our day would be fun together -- "one for all and all for one!"

after a brief racer meeting, we were sent off to our first three check-points in San Francisco: Roaring Mouse Cycles (where we had our official race portrait taken), a parking lot on the top of a 20% hill (with a run down stairs at the end), and the house of the race organizer (where the race would also finish). at this third check-point, we were given three HUGE maps that detailed the rest of the course. all three of us dropped our jaws and went "huh?" didn't they realize that we're girls and that maps are meaningless?

it was Lauren's first bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge so we stopped to take some photos to commemorate the event. we also made a quick stop at Mike's Bikes in Sausalito to fill our bottles and use the restroom. luckily, Katy and I could navigate us out to our first check-point in Mill Valley (without looking at the maps). but we never found that first check-point. were we so slow that they left? we later found out that the person running the check-point never showed up. we couldn't find the turn-off to the first dirt section -- Old Railroad Grade. we studied our maps made a couple of attempts and finally asked a hiker who pointed us in the right direction.

by this point, the sun had broken through the fog and the climb up Old Railroad Grade was fabulous -- all fire road and not too steep -- finishing at the West Point Inn (on Mt. Tam). we alternated climbing through redwoods and open, sunny spaces. the views of the entire bay area were expansive and overwhelming. the race organizer called us on the cell a couple of times to make sure we were okay -- I guess we were a little slow compared to the guys. he also gave us clues on how to get to the next check-point.

from the top, we could see the fog rolling in again. and as we descended the Coastal View Trail, the fog was obscuring our view of the ocean. we made it to the Ranger Station but then couldn't figure out where to go. luckily, it wasn't the trail with the 50 "learn-to-hike" students.

we skipped the second big loop, knowing that we wanted a shorter ride, and headed down the bumpy single-track to the Pelican Inn near Muir Beach, where the second loop would intersect with our route. we were excited at the prospect of meeting up with the rest of the racers (guys) at that point. lost again, we engaged the assistance of a cute boy on a mountain bike. bombing down the trail, trying to impress the boy with our mad cross skillz, I hit a big hole and went down pretty hard. after crying like a baby, I dusted off, posed for a crash simulation photo, and we continued down the single-track. but when we arrived at the Pelican Inn, the race organizer and his crew were drinking beer and eating french fries -- no boys in sight. apparently we were still ahead of them.

we got lost (again) trying to find the trails out of Muir Beach so we ended up riding part of that section on Highway One. and then it was back to Mill Valley and Sausalito and the final windy, foggy climb up to the Golden Gate Bridge. Katy was a perfect navigator and got us back to the finish line in no time.

we were the first riders in, completing 50+ miles with almost 5,000' of climbing in just over 5 hours. about an hour later, the first group of men -- Steve, Hans, Matthias, and Morgan -- finished: 89 miles with a lot more climbing!

much, much fun, but only because we chose to ride together as friends. it was a great opportunity to try something different and ride some trails I'd never ridden. and the post-race party was....well, let's just say it was a lot of fun, too!

thanks to everyone who organized and volunteered to make this a great day.

oh, and more photos here: clickity-click the linkity link

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


there's a bicycle ride in California each year called the Death Ride. as the name would imply, it's pretty epic and brutal and (insert your favorite noun meaning HURT here). 129 miles, 15,000' of climbing, over five mountain passes.....all at altitude. if you complete all 5 passes, you get bragging rights, an ice cream, and a very limited edition enamel pin that only the 5-pass riders get. this pin is coveted in the endurance riding community (or something like that).

I first attempted the Death Ride in 2006. I was recovering from a chronic illness, about 30 pounds above my climbing weight, and trained to road race, not for endurance rides. I was training on the "if it sounds fun, do it" plan. did the Death Ride really sound fun to me? altitude sickness did me in. I lost my breakfast at the top of Monitor for all to see. I was dizzy and couldn't breathe. but the descents were so much fun I kept climbing as long as possible. long story short, I completed 3.5 passes, 90 miles, and probably 10,000' of climbing. but I was happy since I'd had no real expectations for the ride.

I attempted the Death Ride again in 2007. this time, it was a very last-minute decision to participate, and I dragged along my new romantic interest. I hadn't had a good training block due to some chronic poison oak and resultant side effects from the drugs to treat it. but I was about 25 pounds lighter than 2006 and had done some good altitude riding in the past few months. we made the mistake of starting too late (he didn't believe me when I told him we needed to start at 5:30am). we missed the cut-off time to ascend the final pass by a mere 10 minutes, completing 80+ miles, 12,000' of climbing and 4 passes. we vowed to come back and get that pin next year.

this year, I hadn't planned to ride the Death Ride again. I had some new coaching programs and clinics on the calendar, along with a race of my own (duathlon) on the same date. but about a month ago, I got a stress fracture in my foot and decided that since I couldn't run I would attempt the Death Ride once again. I persuaded my un-boyfriend (yes, the same one as last year but now my recent ex) to join me for another attempt at earning that pin. what the heck! we'd been doing a lot of long, hilly rides (ie 80-100 miles with 8,000+ feet of climbing) and had great endurance. even though I was 20 pounds heavier than last year I wasn't too worried about the weight since my power was also up.

so, here we are, July 12th, 2008, making my third attempt at completing the Death Ride. the UBF was a doll and took care of all the details (food, camping, etc). we made it to Markleeville in good time on Friday to register (but not enough time to spin the legs). we had a great dinner at the campsite and settled in for the night. and, most importantly, we had agreed to wake up at 4:00am so we could get on the road by 5:00 or so.

as we hit the first climb (Monitor pass), I knew I was in trouble. I couldn't breathe. I had forgotten my asthma inhaler. and it seemed that the altitude was really affecting me. I was freezing cold (unusual for me), breathing shallow and fast, and my HR was through the roof. even on the shallow grades, I was in my easiest gear (34-29) and could barely turn over my legs. the UBF was very supportive and convinced me to keep riding when I wanted to quit about 30 minutes into the ride.

we summitted Monitor and descended the backside -- such a sweet descent. I started feeling a bit better and was able to climb the back-side of Monitor pretty well until I hit about 7,000 feet. at that point, all the altitude sickness symptoms returned, along with a good dose of dizziness. I sent the UBF ahead and finished the climb on my own.

I maxxed out over 50mph on the front side of Monitor -- weeeee!!!! we did okay for the first bit of Ebbetts and then I suffered like a dog (and sent the UBF ahead to ride his own ride). I stopped several times to catch my breath and bring my HR down. I got physically sick once (much to the chagrin of the riders near me). and somehow, someway, I made it to the top.

I knew if I could make it up the backside of Ebbetts -- the shortest but steepest climb -- I could finish the ride. so we descended the backside of Ebbetts, and then climbed back up. at this point, I was mysteriously feeling much better. we summitted in plenty of time to make the 4:00pm cut-off at Woodfords (the one we missed last year).

the descent on the front side of Ebbetts was epic. it had started to hail -- big gum-ball sized hail. but it wasn't raining. so I led us down the switch-backy descent and to the flattish run into Markleeville. the UBF provided the perfect wheel to suck all the way into town.

we made a super-quick stop at our car in Markleeville. I changed my nasty shorts and gloves. I refilled my bottles with ice-cold drinks from our cooler. and I stocked up on more GU products. and I grabbed my rain jacket. and then we made the 3 mile climb & 3 mile descent to Woodfords. we decided to skip the rest stop there and continue on to Picketts Junction, knowing that if we made that cut-off time we were homefree for the last 10 mile climb up Carson Pass.

at some point, all hell broke loose. the heavens opened up, first with rain, then hail, then thunder and lightening. flash floods were running across the road, making it difficult to see the road. the hail was pelting (ouch) and cold. and the lightening was a bit scary. I thought to myself, "if I wanted to ride in the rain, I wouldn't live in California." there were signs on the side of the road that read "STUPD." I kept thinking about how stupid we were to continue riding. my left quad started cramping up. I got off the bike and pumped more electrolytes into my body. my cleats got gummed up in the wet sand. and it continued to rain and hail and thunder and lightening.

we made the cut-off at Picketts Junction. I thought "how sad to work so hard today and not be able to finish the ride because of a stupid storm." so I kept riding. the last ten miles weren't too bad. the storm continued, but the climb wasn't too steep and in some points it was actually flat. I had sent the UBF ahead because he was soaking and hypothermic and needed to ride harder/faster than I could ride at that point. about half a mile from the top, I saw him standing on the side of the road waiting for me. the sun had broken through and he said we needed to cross the finish line together. and we did.

we collected our pins and our ice cream and we signed the 5-pass finishers' poster. and then we sat and discussed how we would never, ever, in a million years, do this ride again.

by Sunday we were already plotting our strategy for a sub-9 hour ride and a coaching program and an altitude camp and.....

.....and what is it about the Death Ride that brings folks back year after year after year.......

Thursday, July 10, 2008

what are you waiting for?

I had an interesting conversation with one of my coaching clients recently. she is in her first season of road racing. she did a few races early in the season, and then spent a month travelling for work (without a bike). upon her return, she declared that she had no fitness and would race again in August. August? that's the end of the season. what about all the months in between?

the conversation reminded me of my early racing career. I was coaching the team and planned to race myself in 2002. and in 2003. and things just kept getting in the way. I was hit by a car. I injured my back. I lost my mother. I had a DVT. and I kept waiting for that elusive "perfect" fitness to return.

guess what? there are no guarantees in life. perfect fitness may never come.

stop waiting.

stop planning.

stop thinking.

start living.

think of all the fabulous experiences you'll miss while you're "waiting."

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

the tour is won in bed

sometimes you have to make tough choices when it comes to training.

as a coach, I know this to be one of the greatest challenges my athletes face: when to say "no."

I've had four very high-volume weeks with lots of elevation. in the month of June, I was on the bike a total of 28 days (yes, only 2 days off). I logged almost 80 hours for the month, with a total of close to 1,000 miles with 60,000' of climbing.

I'm tired.

I had a plan for today. it wasn't easy. it entailed about 4 hours of constant climbing.

did I mention I'm tired?

so, I followed my own advice and took a break.

I rode my touring bike on some errands (10 miles total). I went to the chiropractor for bodywork. I got a pedicure. I took my dog on a long outing to the bay.

I'm not quite as tired anymore.

I know that we get stronger during rest. but like my own athletes, I sometimes have a hard time believing that. the temptation to train longer and harder is always there.

today, I got stronger.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Benefits of a Bicycle

I bet you could add an item or two to this list, now can't you?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

a mole, a possum, and.......

you tell me. actually there are two of them. can you find them?

I love this warm weather. one of the things I miss most about NY summers is the warm evenings. I miss sleeping with the windows open. so since tonight was a warm one, I opened up the windows and doors.

I have a fabulous patio that runs the entire length of my condo. I have dozens of plants -- flowers, herbs, trees, vines, veggies, good stuff. and I have a little fountain outside my bedroom window that drowns out the city/highway/airport noises (or so I fool myself).

as I was sitting in bed tonight, half watching a movie, half working on the laptop, I heard a rustling outside my window and the fountain was making a strange noise. I muted the DVD but couldn't tell what it was. so I turned on the light, went out onto the patio and what did I see?

of course, Julie, the vicious guard dog, didn't hear or smell a thing at the time, but now she's out there rustling in the plants trying to find our visitors. I think they were fishing for salmon in the fountain. I'm certain they're long gone.


I've thought about running a marathon since 2001. That was the year I registered to run the Honolulu marathon with the Arthritis Foundation's Joints in Motion program in honor of my deceased father (who suffered from RA). Life got in the way that year. I ended up back in school and transitioning to a new career as a cycling coach.

Well, I just pushed the button.

Transaction completed.

"Lorri Lee Lown is registered for the Honolulu Marathon."


I needed a big goal -- something I can't just show up and do -- something I need to dedicate a good chunk of my time to achieve -- something I'm not sure I can complete. I guess this would qualify.

Anyone want to run with me?

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Career Change

In November, 2000, I worked for Charles Schwab. At that time, the bottom fell out of the world as we knew it. Schwab employees were informed that there would be a company-wide lay-off within the next six months. Never in the history of the company had there been a lay-off before. We didn't quite know what to expect.

Rather than sit around worrying about it, I went on a good, long, expensive vacation. I took a bike tour to New Zealand and Australia for the entire month of April, 2001. I knew that within days of my return, we would be informed of the lay-offs. So, I had a month to contemplate what my next career move would be if I was laid off.

Crazy as it sounds, I decided I wanted to ride my bike for a living. I wasn't young enough or genetically gifted enough to be a pro racer (and women can't really make a full-time living as a bike racer anyways). Instead, I thought about becoming a bike messenger, a bicycle tour guide, and a cycling coach. We all know how that story ended.

I had decided that I didn't want to be a bicycle tour guide because they work too hard. Instead of simply riding a bike everyday, tour guides drive a van, haul luggage, solve problems, have to smile and be nice to the tourists, and are basically on call 24 hours a day. Since I'm kinda lazy and not a very nice person, I decided that wouldn't be a very good career match.

Alas, one of my friends has a bicycle tour company -- Undiscovered Country Tours. He's been asking me for years to work with him. I finally gave in, and this weekend I depart for the wine country to lead a week-long tour. I guess we'll see just how lazy and not nice I really am.

Friday, May 30, 2008

More details from Hernando on Hellyer Hoedown

Hi all.

Please spread the word that we're going to have live video/audio feed again of the Friday Night Racing - courtesy of your NCNCA President, Casey Kerrigan. It's viewable at:

And remember, this week is put on by Velo Girls and La Dolce Velo. Free food/drinks/mayhem. Infield is open, only through volunteer monitored gate. Have fun, be safe, love to see you there.

If you've any questions about the racing below, email me. If you've any questions on if you are 'qualified' to race, please email me. These races are so much fun! come out, you'll love it.

Schedule for 5/30: PLEASE NOTE - this is a lot of short, fast racing to toss in, so we'll be running it quickly and without stops. Be ready, because if you hold up the start ... there will be heckling. Organized crowd heckles are the (obvious) next evolution in the vibe of our AWESOME HELLYER STANDS! (and remember, heckling the announcer yields double points)

5'ishpm - track opens
7pm racing starts (reg open all night, but get in early if you can)
Cash Prizes, Peet's Coffee certificates, VOLER clothing!!! ... and maybe some special Velo Girls love, as well.
Kiddie Kilo riders all receive ... something fabulous.

1. Sprints - Round 1
2. 40+ Scratch Race, 25 laps
3. Women's Points Race, 30 laps @ every 5
4. Sprints - Round 2
5. Women's Kierin - Round 1 (OMNIUM!!! Points = placing in each round [1st = 1 pt, 2nd = 2pts, etc]. Rider who competes in all Kierens AND Chariots with lowest point total of night wins glory and riches.)
6. p1,2,3 Scratch Race, 30 laps
7. 3,4 Scratch Race, 25 laps
8. Women's Celebrity Death Match Chariot Race - Round 1
9. Kiddie Kilo
10. Sprints - Round 3
11. Women's Celebrity Death Match Chariot Race - Round 2
12. p1,2,3 SNOWBALL, 15 laps
13. 3,4 SNOWBALL, 12 laps
14. Women's Kierin - Round 2
15. Sprint Final
16. p1/2/3 Miss-n-Out
17. 3,4 Miss-n-Out
18. Women's Miss-n-Out

- - -

Thanks ya'll,
michael hernandez
friday night promoter/announcer/hooligan

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hellyer Hoedown Dance (er Race) Schedule

There's lots of fun on hand for Friday's Hellyer Hoedown at Hellyer Velodrome. Make sure to come early and socialize, listen to the great rocking country tunes, and have some beer and Armadillo Willy's BBQ. Gates open at 6:00 for all the fun.

Then, at 7:00pm all the racing action begins. This just in from Hernando, race director and head cowppoke:

if you're a category 3 or 4 racer, come and play with us. there will be races for you.

if you're a category 1/2/3 racer, come and play with us, there will be races for you.

if you're a woman racer, there will be Celebrity Death Match Chariot races like last week ... only more of them. It was too much fun not to do that again.

if you're a woman racer, there will be WOMEN ONLY KIEREN races all night long. fun, safe, crowd pleasing.

if you're a MATCH SPRINTER - the sprints are on, but back to the first night's format of 12 racers. If you'd like to sprint, please email me. Thus far on the lineup: Gio, Matias, Hatfield, Marzio, Hartner, Kieran, Nolan, and Millar. 4 open spots only.

The 40+ Scratch race will be the only masters event of the night. All 40+ riders are invited to race their category the rest of the evening.

There will be surprises.

And don't forget the Kiddie Kilo -- fun for the younguns, too! If your child wants to race, bring their bike and helmet (mandatory).

Thanks again to our friends at La Dolce Velo for sponsoring this event and helping Velo Girls provide you with fun, fun, fun!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bike Skills 201 on June 8th is SOLD OUT!

Our Bike Skills 201 (climbing & descending) clinic on June 8th is sold out. We've opened a waiting list and will potentially open a second session in the afternoon if we have enough interest. If you're interested and hadn't registered yet, go ahead and sign up for the waiting list. We'll need to make a decision on adding a second clinic by early next week, so please don't wait!

Calling all Cowgirls (and boys)

Hey everybody! We still need some volunteers to help out with the Hellyer Hoedown on Friday night. If you've got an hour or two or four, I can put you to work. We need folks to help set up in the afternoon, folks for registration, folks to ring the bell during the races, and folks to help at the gate (to smile and keep folks from entering the track at unsafe times).

I'm also looking for folks who can bring a dessert or two (cookies and brownies are great) when they come to the races.

If you'd like to fulfill that Cowgirl or Cowboy fantasy, throw on those boots and a 10-gallon hat and let me know you can help out!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Thanks for a Sweet Ride!

La Dolce Velo. Have you heard of them? They're Rob and Jacquie Mardell -- longtime Team in Training supporters/coaches and Jacquie is a Velo Girl, too! In 2001, they started a little bike shop in their garage, primarily helping Team in Training friends.

As time passed, their business expanded and they followed their passion by opening their own shop -- LA DOLCE VELO.

In addition, they offer coaching and training and even organized triathlon training programs! Good stuff. And they're right in San Jose!

Well, La Dolce Velo stepped up to the plate to help Velo Girls promoter the Hellyer Hoedown on Friday -- yay!

Send 'em a big thank you when you've got a chance: Contact Rob Mardell or Jacquie Mardell

Better yet, stop by the shop and show them a little retail love!

Countdown to Hoedown -- T Minus 3 Days

Wow! So, Friday night track racing at Hellyer Velodrome has been much more popular than anyone expected this season. In the past, there might be half a dozen spectators. This season, the bleachers are FULL with cheering fans. It's great for the racers and great for the sport.

Velo Girls
is sponsoring this Friday's races. Our theme is the Hellyer Hoedown -- a little country & western party with music, BBQ, and beer. Of course, when we planned this event, we didn't expect the crowds we're now anticipating, so I'm looking for some additional cash sponsorship to help underwrite the costs of the event. Admission is free, so there's no income potential there.

So, if you know of anyone who might be interested in helping out with a little cash sponsorship, please have them contact me at

Friday, May 23, 2008

Photos from Hellyer Friday Night Live -- May 9th, 2008

I'm not the most sophisticated blogger or photographer or person for that matter, but I posted some interesting racer & people photos from the most recent Friday night races at Hellyer Velodrome on a Flickr account so folks can take what they'd like. And I guess I should apologize for the jumble of this blog post. Sheesh! Bad formatting -- sorry! Just look at the pretty pictures, okay?

You'll find the rest of them here: Lorri's Flickr photos from Hellyer May 9th

Friday night racing is a great party this year, thanks to the efforts of Michael Hernandez and Sabine Dukes! I'm heading out to spectate again tonight.

And next week, Velo Girls is sponsoring the races, with an emphasis on women's racing. Our theme is Hellyer Hoedown, so grab your cowboy hat and boots and come on out for a good ole time! We need lots of volunteers to help make the night a success, so if you're interested, ping me at

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Velo Girls Coaching Launches New Bike Skills Clinic Modules for 2008!

I've been coaching skills clinics since 2003. I've taught newbies and racers and everyone in between and I happen to think I've done a damn good job of developing a curriculum that meets the needs of a variety of riders. My goal has been to help riders ride safely, efficiently, and comfortably and have a little fun on the bike while they're at it.

Our programs have evolved over the years, from our beginnings with a two-day women's camp (which we still offer), expanding to a one-day men's clinic and even some co-ed offerings. In addition, we've got an award-winning six-week learn-to-race program that's unlike anything else out there. But this year, based on participant feedback, we decided to add something very different and it seems to be a big hit.

For 2008, we're offering a series of 4-hour clinic modules -- an ala carte offering of pick-and-choose-which-skills-you'd-like-to-focus-on. We've called this Bike Skills and we're offering four distinct clinics:

Bike Skills 101 -- Individual Bike Handling Skills These are all the skills that help you as an individual be a better rider/racer. Everything in this clinic focuses on your understanding of balance and weight distribution. It's definitely a transformational four hours. Whether you've been riding for six months or six years, I guarantee you'll leave this clinic with a better understanding of the bike and the ability to ride in a safer, more controlled way.

Bike Skills 201 -- Climbing & Descending Skills
Interestingly enough, the biggest fear I've helped riders overcome is descending. So, in this clinic we focus on technique for both climbing and descending. We start out with a few "parking lot" skills to help riders focus on balance and weight distribution, and then we hit the hills to focus on both fast, straight climbs/descents, and also technical climbs/descents.

Bike Skills 301 -- Group Riding Skills Good stuff for both recreational riders and racers. We teach you how to be safe and efficient when riding with others -- whether it's with one other rider or a group. We'll examine a variety of conditions and learn how to choose the appropriate skills for those conditions: rotating pacelines, reverse pacelines, echelons, etc. Fun with friends -- what more could you ask for!

Bike Skills 302 -- Racing Skills & Tactics
-- This clinic evolved from our Criterium Racing 101 clinic, and covers nuts to bolts the skills needed to begin racing or improve your racing skills. We work on group riding, starts, sprints, lead-outs, and lots of tactical exercises to help you improve your racing experience.

Our first set of clinics was two weekends ago. We offered Bike Skills 101 for Women and sold out not one, but two clinics! 41 women participated in our 4-hour basic skills clinic (and many of these women have registered for future clinics as well).

This weekend is our second clinic, Bike Skills 101 for Men. At this point, I think I've got 10 men registered, which is great considering the fact that most men don't sign up for classes. Yes, I have an MBA in Gender Relations. And I never thought I'd put it to use like this, but it's definitely influenced the way I approach teaching men and women. And I know that men are less likely to participate in a clinic.....yadda, yadda, yadda.....

Anyways, if any men are still interested, registration closes at 9:00pm tonight.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ride of Silence

Tonight is the 6th annual Ride of Silence. This ride originated as a way to honor those who've been killed or injured in bicycle/auto collisions and also a way to raise awareness of bicyclists' rights to share the road. I've never participated in this ride, but plan to do so tonight.

I've known too many riders who have been affected by errant drivers.

I was hit by a car on July 10th, 2002, right in front of my house. The driver, an 85 year old woman, stated that she didn't see me, even though I was wearing a bright red jersey, orange and yellow helmet, and the sun wasn't in her eyes. I suffered broken ribs, lots of road rash, and too many expenses. I was too timid at the time to seek legal recourse.

If you're a cyclist, I encourage you to find an event near you and participate.

The Ride of Silence...

Tonight we number many but ride as one
In honor of those not with us, friends, mothers, fathers, sisters, sons
With helmets on tight and heads down low,
We ride in silence, cautious and slow
The wheels start spinning in the lead pack
But tonight we ride and no one attacks
The dark sunglasses cover our tears
Remembering those we held so dear
Tonight's ride is to make others aware
The road is there for all to share
To those not with us or by our side,
May God be your partner on your final ride

- Mugai

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I am Lanterne Rouge

The Lanterne Rouge is the name for the competitor who finishes in last place in a cycling race such as the Tour de France. The phrase comes from the French, meaning "Red Lantern", and refers to the red tail lights attached to the last carriage or wagon of a railway train (as an indicator that no wagon has been lost).

In the Tour de France the rider who finishes the grueling three-week competition in last place overall, rather than dropping out along the way, is accorded a special distinction. Riders may often actually compete to come in the very last place rather than just near the back of the pack of riders that finish. Often the rider who comes in the absolute last place in the Tour General Classification is remembered, while those who finished a few places ahead of him are forgotten to history. Even though the rider may only be a domestique, he is rewarded with a great deal of prestige. The revenue that the rider will generate from his last place finish is much greater than had he finished in second to last place. Some riders intentionally try to put themselves in this position, some acquire the position while assisting their team leader in his own performance, while other riders resent finishing last and only do so because of some sickness or injury.


This past weekend, I competed in the Kern County Women's Stage Race in lovely Bakersfield, CA. This was my third time racing this grueling event but unlike 2004 and 2006, this time I hadn't planned to really compete. I was simply participating because I wanted to share this experience with my teammates. We had decided last winter that this would be a team race for us, and even though I haven't done much racing this season, I wanted to be there to bond, help my teammates, and get a good weekend of training under my wheels.

The format of the race is such that you race four events in three days. In order to move on to the next event, you have to complete each stage. Your overall placing (General Classification or GC) is the total of your time for each stage.

On Friday, Stage 1 is a flattish 10-mile time trial. On Saturday, you race two stages: a flattish circuit race with two small "hills" in the morning, followed by a serious 8.5 mile hill climb with almost 3,000 feet of climbing in the afternoon. And on Sunday, Stage 4 brings you the Iron Mountain Road Race -- a hilly 48-mile race with about 4,000 feet of climbing. Given my current level of fitness, stages 1 and 2 would be my favorites. The hillier stages would be throw-aways for me.

We tried to prepare ourselves mentally and physically for the heat in Bakersfield, but it was still pretty oppressive. Each day, we felt more dehydrated and sunburnt and bloated. Even at night, each time you went outside it felt like someone had opened an oven door. Not ideal racing conditions for a bunch of fog-dwellers, but we made the best of the situation and stayed as cool as possible.

Stage One -- Bena Time Trial (Friday Afternoon): I've always liked this stage. I'm a pretty good time trialist and I've consistently had good results on this stage. I haven't been riding my TT bike, so I decided to do it "old skool" on my road bike. In 2004 and 2006, my time for this stage was 30 minutes and change. I decided I would pace for 28 minutes. In the past, this had been a morning stage, but this year we would race at 1:00pm -- in the heat of the day! What I didn't count on was the effect of the heat along with a headwind on both the out & back sections of the course. Long story short, I left it all on the course for a 34-minute effort. Good enough for 15th place in our field of 23 women, but definitely not stellar.

Stage Two -- Walker Basin Circuit Race (Saturday Morning): I love this stage! It's flat and fast with three short power climbs. I've always had great success with this stage and I was looking forward to it this year as well. But I also knew I needed to help one of my teammates. This is her first race season and she was struggling with the mental aspect of the sport. Friday had been hard for her, and I was afraid she would pull herself out of the race, so I made the decision in advance that if she fell off the pack I would go with her and help her finish the race. Near the end of the first lap, that's exactly what happened, so I pulled myself out to help her. While it would've been fun to hang with the pack, it was more important to me to help my teammate. We worked together for a couple of laps and then chased up to another teammate who was working with a roaring mouse racer. The four of us worked together and had a little tactical fun to finish of the race. Good stuff.

Stage Three -- Havilah Hill Climb (Saturday Afternoon): This was a new stage for me. The old hill climb was 13 miles on the west side of the mountain. This "new & improved" hill climb was supposedly 10 miles of a steeper grade on the east side of the mountain. But there was some discrepancy in the exact distance -- some folks said 10 miles, the race bible and chief referee said 13 miles, racers from last year said 9 miles. It was a bit confusing. Anyways, with several hours to spare, we drove over to Havilah and tried to find some refuge from the sun. Try to visualize 81 hot, sweaty bike racing chicks lounging around a "town" of about 50 residents. We stayed cool in the historic school house and opted not to do a warm-up (we were just too hot).

When the race began at 3:00, I knew that two of my teammates were hurting. Again, I had decided that I would ride with whomever needed me, at their pace, just to help her finish. When my first teammate popped early in the race, we began the long, mentally challenging climb (still of unknown distance). I wasn't quite sure how I could help her or what I could say, but I babbled on and tried to encourage her and keep her moving forward. Half a dozen times she told me she was done and I somehow encouraged her to keep going. At one point, we stopped in the shade, took a breather, re-grouped, and I convinced her to get back on the bike. As other racers passed us, they all shouted encouragement. I kept thinking of the irony of the situation -- this particular teammate is a much better climber than me under normal circumstances, but here I was helping her up the hill. My legs felt great and it was a bit challenging for me not to push it, but I wanted to help her.

About three miles from the top the broom wagon came up behind us. I could see our other teammate sitting in the passenger seat. She had abandoned the race. I felt very, very sad, but tried to keep my emotions in check so I could help my teammate who was still climbing. At two miles from the top there were boys with bottles of cold water followed by nurse Katherine with baggies of ice -- thank you! A mile from the top, Robert Leibold (the race promoter), was playing the Woody Woodpecker theme on his clarinet. It wasn't until this point that I knew my teammate would make it and I'm not even sure she was convinced of that. As we rolled up to the finish line, the last racers on the course, all the other racers who were already there, gave us a big round of applause. I felt a bit embarrassed (I shouldn't have been last), but then I realized it didn't matter. This wasn't about me. This was about helping my teammates and that's what I did.

Stage 4 -- Iron Mountain Road Race (Sunday Morning):
Sunday morning was low-energy for all four of us on the team. The thought of one more day on the bike in the extreme heat was a bit daunting. The heat had taken it's toll. For one of my teammates, the effort of the day before, along with some bad recovery drink, left her unable to eat for almost 24 hours. With mixed emotion, after succeeding with the first three stages, she made the wise decision to abandon the race.

My other teammate, although she didn't finish the hill climb, was allowed to start Sunday's race with the understanding that she wouldn't be placed in GC (general classification -- the overall standings for the four races combined). But I knew the day would be a struggle for her. She doesn't do well with the heat and the hilliness of the course would be a challenge. So, in my mind, I again made the decision to work with a teammate rather than race for myself.

So, for almost 48 miles, we pacelined, TTed, giggled, rode hard, sweat, and basically just preservered over a hot and hilly course. Again, my legs felt great and I knew I could go much harder, but I held back to help my teammate. There were times I didn't think she'd finish, but she did. This was a big accomplishment for her -- beating her nemesis -- the hot & hilly road race. It wasn't pretty, but she succeeded and I feel we both learned a lot about each other during those four hours.

General Classification: At some point, I realized I would earn the coveted Lanterne Rouge. I was really excited about this. Yeah, part of me wondered what others would think about me. Did they think I was weak? Or slow? Or fat? Or old? Did they judge me? But the other part of me realized that it didn't matter what anyone else thought. I made the choice to sacrifice my own races so I could help my teammates. And it was the most fun I've ever had at Kern. Maybe next year I'll come back and actually "race" it. But this year was about giving myself to others and that sure felt great!


There's No Shame in Being Last!

Just yesterday, I was performing a bike fit on a woman who is training for AIDS LifeCycle. In our two hours together, we chatted about a lot of stuff, most of it surrounding the experience of ALC. This was her first ALC and I've done it four times, along with a bunch of touring, so she was picking my brain. At one point, she said "I don't care how fast I ride, but I don't want to be last," at which point, I pulled out my Red Lantern from this weekend and shared my story with her.

Since I began coaching, I can't tell you how many times women (racers and non-racers) have shared that thought with me -- they don't want to be last. There's some stigma in the athletic world at being last.

Let me tell you, there's no shame in being last. I've been last plenty of times. And I've been first a few times, too. And most often, I'm somewhere in between. There's no shame in being last and I've got a pretty red lantern to prove it! This weekend was just about the most fun I've had on the bike. I spent more hours than any other rider out there. I had the "best" time of the weekend -- because I was able to let go of my ego and be a good coach, teammate, and friend.

I'm pretty proud of being last! I hope you'll find some wisdom and self-love in my story as well.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Ah, Pescadero. One of the classic climbing races in Northern California. I've ridden the Pescadero loop many, many times -- forward, backwards, as part of epic rides -- but somehow I've never put the race on my race calendar. I'm not sure why, since I've raced all the other climbers' races: Wente, Berkeley Hills, Sea Otter......even though I'm not a 100-pound climber-girl.

This loop was my first "big" ride way back in 1999 -- on my 35-pound 1990 Specialized Hard Rock mountain bike. I even have photos somewhere (hard copies) to commemorate the event. I was training for the California AIDS Ride. I think I'd been riding all of two months at that point. I participated in this particular training ride with my then-boyfriend. Actually, I had broken up with him a few days prior, so he was then my ex-boyfriend. It was an emotional ride for me. I recall at one point, climbing Haskins Hill, crying and feeling so desperate, that I threw my bike in a ditch on the side of the road, sat down, and bawled my eyes out.

Today I rode the Pescadero loop with one of my coaching clients and her boy. She's considering the race, so we took this opportunity to recon. the course together. Pescadero is a challenging race. The three main climbs are tough at race pace. The grind up 84 will wear you down in the wind unless you can sit on a wheel. And if you can climb with the leaders, you need to be a skilled descender to stick with the pack after the climbs.

But the views, especially on a clear day, are breath-taking.


ps -- I really miss the flamingo house.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

would you like a little solitude with that workout?

I love technology, but when I'm riding, I want to get away from it all -- the cell phone, the iPod, the email, the interruptions. you see, one of the reasons I love the bike is to escape from all the daily inputs I have at work -- all that noise makes my head spin.

I'm also not a HUGE fan of the gym. I like training. I run on the treadmill (with my iPod). I lift weights. But I don't like the sounds, the smells, the germs of the gym. I stopped working as a personal trainer many years ago because of my dislike of the gym environment.

years ago a friend had sent me some information about Tina Vindum. Tina is a pretty cool chick and her company -- Outdoor Action Fitness -- is one of the first outdoor fitness programs in the world. but her program isn't any run-of-the-mill boot camp with 100 participants. instead, the focus is on high-level small-group fitness and integration with the environment. she doesn't yell commands like a drill sergeant. her programs are filled with natural sensory inputs (smells, sounds, sights, textures) and meditation. but she's a darn good trainer too, so she can kick your butt while you enjoy the view.

in my quest for something new this year, I've got plans to start an outdoor group conditioning class for cyclists. so this weekend I participated in Tina's OAF Instructor Training Certification -- two days of inspiration and butt-kicking education. our intimate class of 8 participants included folks from all over the country (I was the only local). and in addition to learning some new models for fitness training, I met some very interesting women.

so, stay tuned. we've got some cool new programs on tap for late summer and fall!