Wednesday, December 23, 2009

when life throws you a curve

Take a deep breath, smile, relax, look where you want to go, lean into the curves, and let go of the brakes.

You'll find it's easier to follow your desired path when you don't panic -- whether driving a car, riding a bike, or navigating life.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

if Cindy-Lou Who was a Velo Girl

Ode to Lake SoMuddy:

To a race they would go, the Velo Girls in pink,
with their mountain bikes and helmets, and even the kitchen sink.
'Twas Lake Sonoma calling for a little late-season fun.
"A mountain bike race in December should be good for the very first one.
For December is quiet and the race should be low-key,"
at least said the coach, yes, the coach, that is me!

So the girls loaded up with their bikes and their gear,
into cars, trucks, and wagons, and they dreamed of post-race beer.
They drove and they drove,
and they drove, drove, drove, drove,
over hill, over dale,
yes, they drove, drove drove, drove!

They arrived to find fog and muddy mud on the ground.
"Mud?" said the coach, not expecting it around.
"Sand, yes, or dirt, rocks, and roots, but not mud.
Oh how unusual. Oh what a dud.
This should be interesting, please do not flee,"
at least said the coach, yes, the coach, that is me!

At the line, blew the whistle, and the girls started out,
faces smiling and happy, not a single little pout.
They rode way up the hill in the fog and the mud,
then the fun really started when the coach fell with a thud.
How on earth could that be?
Yes, the coach fell with a thud, yes, the coach, that is me!

I was sliding on the ground within minutes of the gun!
I fell when I rode and I fell when I run.
I launched over the bar and I slid like a freak.
I plopped into a tree and I splished through a creek.
I fell over starboard and I fell all a-lee.
I fell, yes that's right, yes, the coach, that is me!

I fell in mud of red and brown,
I fell in mud and slopped around.
I fell in mud of black and green --
the greenest mud I'd ever seen.
I fell in mud of smokey gray,
I fell in mud all night and day!

I watched Edith and Kerri ride away like the wind,
for the podium was calling and there were medals to win.
And then to my ears, a fantabulous sound:
my cool teammate, Carolyn, giggling around.
Then Gnat, then Mariska, then sweet Cristina, too.
I would not be alone. I'll ride with friends, quite a few!

So the Velo Girls, they raced, and they even had fun,
but it's teammates that win, girls in pink, number one!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday Traditions

Holiday traditions -- we all have them. Some involve sweet treats or carolling voices. Some involve boarding a plane to a place we call home. Some involve stockings hung with care. And some involve riding your bike!

One of my holiday traditions for more than a decade involves that last option -- riding my bike through the most beautiful city I know -- San Francisco.

Join Velo Girls on December 25th for the 11th Annual Christmas Orphans' Tour of San Francisco -- a co-ed holiday tradition! We'll ride a 29-mile figure-eight loop of San Francisco on the quietest day of the year, featuring stops at Fisherman's Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Palace of the Legion of Honor. All riders welcome. Helmets mandatory. Meet at McLaren Lodge in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park (Stanyan & Fell) ready to roll at 10:00am. Email for more information.

You'll find details on this and all our rides + events here:

Friday, December 4, 2009

all quick + dirty-like

Cyclocross season is wrapping up for many of our racers and what a great season it's been! Last weekend was the classic race at Golden Gate Park. New Team Velo Girls member Gnat Harris sends this report on last week's festivities!

This Sunday, you can catch the girls in pink racing at Coyote Point in San Mateo. The C Women race at 8:30am and the A/B/Masters Women race at high noon! I'd like to invite everyone to come out and experience this crazy-fun sport for yourself! You'll find details here:

Gnat, focused on the task at hand!

Golden Gate Park was a great place to race. It was rather nice that it was on much of the same terrain that the Velo Girls Cyclocross clinic was held, so there were not as many surprises as some of the other circuits. Still, a chilly morning gave way to a sun-soaked afternoon when the arm and leg warmers all started to come off.

For the most part the course was flat and not very technical. The few spots that defied that previous statement did so with bravado, as certain turns and slopes would cause pileups in the dozens.

For instance the women's C race got tangled immediately after the first turn. One woman went down, taking a few others with her, and backing up the rest of the field. Getting around that found us into another brake, as someone had gotten caught in the tape. No one was hurt, and I was most amused that one woman came up to me hours after the race, congratulated me, and immediately apologized for causing the crash.

The true test came on a 5-foot pitch of dirt in the later races. I personally had no problems with this section (let go of the brakes and pick a line, baby!) but we were lucky to be the first ones over it. Strangely, this was shorter and less steep than the OMG-I'm-Walking-This section of Cross Palace the week previous, but as the grass flew, the lumpy soft earth directed cyclists either over their handlebars or straight into a large tree. See video evidence:

It was great to watch our own Jenny Feix on the same track as legends Katerina Nash and Barbara Howe. Tough crowd out there, but what a show!

One last race in the Pilarcitos series this coming weekend. Ring a cowbell for the girls in pink!

-- gnat!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

celebrating five years of unsung heroines!

One of our longest-running rides is the Melo Velo! This ride started as an extension of our regular weekly club ride and offered a shorter option for newer riders. Over the years it's been an introduction to Velo Girls and to road cycling for literally hundreds of women.

We all know how intimidating it can feel to start riding on the road by ourselves. So we developed the Melo Velo to introduce women to road riding and teach them the basic skills needed to ride on the road -- simple things like riding with a group, road ride etiquette, rules of the road, and basic skills like how to start, stop, signal, and drink from a water bottle.

Over the years, we've had an impressive group of women joining us on the Melo Velo. Women who participated in the Melo Velo have gone on to complete centuries, double centuries, multi-day events, and to race.

In order to keep a ride like this going every single week for so many years, we've had a dedicated group of experienced riders who volunteer their time to lead the ride. These women share their experience, mentor the new riders, and encourage the women to get out there on their bikes.

I'd like to take a minute to thank and congratulate the women who have volunteered to lead the Melo Velo this year. These women have made it possible for countless new women riders to start riding and to grow on the bike. Thank you to Oralia Arce, Jill Eyres, Winnie Homer-Smith, Jackie Link, Sharon Mandell, and Gayle Whittaker.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the work of one woman -- Michelle Goldberg. Michelle has been coordinating the ride leaders for the Melo Velo for many years, many times leading the ride herself. Thank you, Michelle, for your dedication to developing new women riders!


Beginning this week, the Melo Velo is changing time and meeting location! You'll find details for this and all our rides + events on the Velo Girls calendar.

Melo Velo Beginner's Road Ride

This is a ride for beginners. All riders are welcome for socializing and support, but this is an easy, beginner, getting-used-to-road-biking ride. You'll learn shifting, group riding (don't worry, we stay way behind each other) and how to drink from your water bottle while riding, in a very non-competitive environment. Meet at Woodside Town Hall in Woodside. We'll ride north on Canada Road and return -- 15 miles, mostly flat with little rollers. The first Saturday of the month will include a slightly longer option to test your legs. RSVP to Michelle at

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

who's got your back?

as bicyclists, we sometimes feel all alone out there in the concrete jungle, battling cars, buses, crazy drivers, and road conditions. we watch as more public trail systems are being closed to us. and we fight for the right to ride on the roads and the trails.

but we're not alone. following are some fabulous organizations, local, national and international, whose missions are to provide advocacy, support + education for the bicycling community.

as 2009 draws to a close, I encourage you to lend your support to these organizations. become a member. make a donation. show your appreciation for the hard work these organizations do on our behalf.

Bay Area Bicycle Coalition
-- -- The Bay Area Bicycle Coalition’s goal is to make the San Francisco Bay Area a national model for progressive bicycling policies, and to provide a safe and comprehensive network to facilitate bicycling throughout the region. BABC believes that bicycling can and should be a viable transportation and recreation option for all of the wonderfully diverse residents of the Bay Area.

Bicycle Trails Council of Marin -- -- The Bicycle Trails Council of Marin was formed in 1987 to promote safe, responsible mountain biking. The BTC is dedicated to the acceptance of mountain biking as a legitimate and environmentally sound use of the land. The BTC works to educate bikers, as well as other users, of local regulations and proper trail etiquette and serves as an advocate for the mountain biking community.

Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay -- -- Bicycle Trails Council was founded in 1987 by Michael Kelley and a dedicated group of volunteers who fought very hard to stave off the impending closure of almost all the bike trails in the East Bay! We are the second oldest mountain bike advocacy group in the United States and one of the founding clubs of IMBA! Our Mission is to educate cyclists in responsible mountain biking, to advocate for appropriate access and to promote community among trail users so all may fully enjoy and preserve the natural spaces of the East Bay.

Bikes Belong Foundation -- -- In June 2006, the Bikes Belong Coalition launched the Bikes Belong Foundation, focusing on bicycle safety projects and children’s bicycle programs. The foundation operates as a charitable organization that can receive tax-deductible donations from individuals. It stands as a separate, complementary organization to the Bikes Belong Coalition.

East Bay Bicycle Coalition
-- -- dedicated to promoting bicycling as an everyday means of transportation and recreation, since 1972. EBBC safeguards the interest of bicyclists in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. EBBC works with 33 cities, both counties, Caltrans, and other government agencies to improve conditions for cyclists.

International Mountain Bicycling Association -- -- IMBA was founded in 1988 by a group of California mountain bike clubs concerned about the closure of trails to cyclists. These pioneering clubs believed that mountain biker-education programs and innovative trail management solutions should be developed and promoted. IMBA's mission has always been to protect, create, and enhance quality trail experiences for mountain bikers worldwide. In addition, we actively promote responsible mountain biking, support volunteer trailwork, assist land managers with trail management issues, and improve relations among trail user groups. IMBA has members in all 50 United States and 40 other countries. IMBA members annually contribute more than one million hours to trailwork projects on public land. To date, these volunteers have created more than 5,000 (8,000 km) miles of new trails worldwide.

League of American Bicyclists -- -- The League mission is to promote bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation and work through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America by representing the interests of the nation's 57 million cyclists. With a current membership of 300,000 affiliated cyclists, including 25,000 individuals and 700 affiliated organizations, the League works to bring better bicycling to your community.

Marin County Bicycle Coalition
-- -- (MCBC) has been steadily improving our county’s road and path facilities for walkers and bikers since we formed in 1998. You’ve seen the impact of our advocacy efforts in each of our towns: permanent bike racks, bike lane striping, green-and-white bike route signs, road resurfacing, ‘sharrow’ road stencils, and so much more.

Monterey Off-Road Cycling Association -- -- MORCA is an organized voice for responsible mountain biking in Monterey County. We accomplish this by advocating for mountain bike trail access, maintaining area trails, and sharing good will with other trail users. We are involved in mountain biking advocacy at all levels of the community.

Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz -- -- Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (MBOSC) is a non-profit educational organization which is dedicated to the promotion of mountain biking in a healthy and environmentally sound manner. MBOSC is an affiliate club of International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA). MBOSC was founded in 1997 to raise money towards the purchase of the Gray Whale Ranch that was added to Wilder Ranch State Park.

Napa County Bicycle Coalition
-- -- Napa Bike has 4 main functions which include bicycle education, bicycle advocacy, promoting events and programs, and fundraising to support the coalition.

Rails to Trails Conservancy -- -- Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., whose mission it is to create a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people.

Responsible Organized Mountain Pedalers -- -- Advocating for Mountain Biking in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, ROMP encourages mountain bikers to take part in trail maintenance and construction, participate in land manager meetings and master plans, ride with respect for the land and other trail users, and have fun.

Safe Routes to School
-- -- Safe Routes to Schools is a popular program spreading across Canada and the U.S. designed to decrease traffic and pollution and increase the health of children and the community. The program promotes walking and biking to school through education and incentives that show how much fun it can be. The program also addresses the safety concerns of parents by encouraging greater enforcement of traffic laws, educating the public, and exploring ways to create safer streets.

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition -- -- Through day-to-day advocacy, education, and working partnerships with government and community agencies, the SFBC is dedicated to creating safer streets and more livable communities for all San Franciscans. Our active 10,000 members represent San Franciscans of all ages, from all neighborhoods, who are working towards more safe, efficient, and green ways to move around our city.

Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition -- -- The Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (originally Santa Clara Valley Bicycle Association) has provided a forum for bicyclists to organize, discuss common concerns, and take action since the early 1970s. We organize at a grassroots level to create an environment in which bicycling can flourish. For almost 35 years, our members have served on bicycle advisory committees, gathered data, monitored trends and disseminated information on urban cycling issues to local governments, cyclists and the public.

Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition -- -- The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition promotes bicycling for transportation and recreation and works to educate the community about bicycle safety and the benefits of cycling, including good health and protecting the environment.

Sonoma County Trails Council -- -- The SCTC works in partnership with others to advocate, plan, build, and maintain a network of sustainable, shared-use public trails for non-motorized recreation throughout Sonoma County, California.

Street Smarts -- -- Founded in 2002, the nationally-recognized STREET SMARTS program has been working with schools, neighborhoods, seniors and other communities to improve safety on our streets. Every year, tens of thousands of kids learn how to be safer pedestrians and cyclists, while thousands of adults are making smarter choices on our roads.

Yield to Life -- -- Founded by professional cyclist David Zabriski, Yield to Life will engage in a vigorous awareness campaign to promote positive attitudes toward cyclists and replace any hostility that exists between motorists and cyclists with understanding, respect, and appreciation for all life on the road. Safety for every cyclist is the top

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

the BEST day of my entire life

last night was the captains' meeting for the Turning Wheels for Kids Bike Build. the room was filled to SRO with enthusiastic volunteers from the community, all organizing teams for the December 12th event.

the meeting started with an inspirational video -- I have to admit a few tears in my eyes. and then Susan Runsvold, founder of TWFK spoke. she told of this crazy idea she had to provide a few bikes to needy kids. in the first year (2004), 70 bikes were given to children. this year, we'll build more than 2,000 bikes (and about 800 requests were turned down due to limited financial resources)! she read some of the quotes from the children who've received bikes. this one stuck with me: "today is the BEST day of my entire life!"

how often can we say that we've helped a child have the best day of her life?

the average cost per bike is $80.

Velo Girls is helping the good folks at Turning Wheels for Kids raise funds to help more children have the BEST day of their entire lives.

can you help? click here -- every little bit helps!