Friday, March 22, 2013

Coach Lorri Lee Lown joins staff of Specialized Women Sports Camp

Velo Girls founder + president, Lorri Lee Lown, has signed on to coach the road cycling programs at this summer's Specialized Women Sports Camp.  Now in it's third year, this unique camp, set in beautiful Lake Tahoe, CA,  includes programs for road cyclists, mountain bikers, triathletes, and runners.  In addition to focused programs for each sport, all participants can also enjoy yoga, stand-up paddleboarding, clinics on bike fit, nutrition, stretching, and social time with other women athletes.

Joining Coach Lorri on staff this year are an all-star staff of sports superstars:  mountain bike legend Marla Streb, professional triathlete Jessi Stensland, Mermaid Series founder Heidi Boynton, Darcy Norman and Amanda Carlson-Phillips of Athlete's Performance, and Anik Demers-Wild.

The Specialized Women Sports Camp was founded by Inger Norman, who's spent the past 15 years managing women's teams and sporting events, including the Luna Chix program.  In Inger's words:  "We are a group of women who are passionate about the outdoors and all the fun that comes with it.    We've experienced intimidation through lack of confidence, lack of skill, lack in training and lack of knowledge in gear.  We know how paralyzing it can be to getting out there.   That's why we created the Women Sports Camp!  We've called up our friends and brought together the best resources we knew to create the most fun, non-intimidating, empowering environment and we invite YOU to join us!"

As a special incentive to Velo Girls members and friends, please use promotional code "VeloGirlsSpcl" to receive a 5% discount on registration.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Racing with Team Velo Girls -- Snelling Road Race

Most of the team made the trek to the central valley last weekend to race in the Snelling Road Race on February 23rd.  It was a great team weekend with a course pre-ride on Friday followed by a team dinner and then the race on Saturday.  Where's Snelling, you ask?  Just another glamorous and exciting central valley farm town where we get to race our bikes each spring!

New racer, Pamela Levine, shares her race report from Snelling -- her second of what promises to be many road races this season.  Thanks, Pamela!

Pamela crossing the finish line of the Snelling Road Race

It could have been perfect. I had pre-ridden the course, found the smooth points, the hairy turns, and the uphills-followed-by-downhills-so-don't-worry-too-much-about-it-because-you'll-be-able-to-make-up-the-difference.  I'd even practiced grabbing a water bottle from the feed zone. I'd been seeing improvements in training. I'd had a good breakfast that morning and I'd warmed up.

Pulling up to the pack of 48 women -- twice the size of last week's field at the Cantua Creek Road Race -- I got nervous. After the whistle blew, those nerves let me fall to the back of the pack. Even though the first miles were neutralized and the race hadn't even begun yet, I was already tired from the break-pedal-break-pedal rhythm at the back of the pack.

And then the race began, and then a small gap opened up. It's hard for me to pinpoint exactly what happened -- whether it was my legs still warming up or feeling timid about being at the back and having to slam the brakes hard again -- probably some of each. With the strong winds on that part of the course, the gap got bigger until I couldn't close it.

I wasn't expecting to have to mind-shift from Competition Mode to Survival Mode so early in the day, and it was disheartening. I tried, but couldn't easily shake the frustration and doubts: "What is the point?," "I could be riding by myself in the wind at home!," and the particularly dramatic "Will I ever be able to do this?!"

Another W4 In Survival Mode caught up to me briefly. She seemed even more annoyed than I was, huffing and puffing about how windy and hard it was, how her friends had told her to come, how it was her first race, how her current goal was just to catch up to me...Wait, what? Somehow hearing her there, I became her cheerleader, telling her it was all good and to finish it for the training. They were all the things I needed to hear myself, and I felt better. We rode together for a while but when she didn't want to draft I pressed on ahead.

I began my second lap alone and encountered another Racer In Survival Mode from one of the Men's fields. I made sure to ride next to and not behind him (per USAC drafting regulations), while he made sure to tell me how pissed he was that his chain dropped at the beginning of the race and how he was just going to call it a day early. My resolve strengthened to focus and finish this out strong and positive--I didn't want to be him.

I kept going, and much to my surprise, I passed a W4 from another team who must have at some point fallen off the pack. And then another. Okay, the second one was a mechanical, but at the time these were small wins that helped me keep putting in the effort. Next the Men's CAT4 peloton passed me and Yuriy (husband of another Team Velo Girls member) yelled out "Good job!" I started to feel happy and like this was, in its way, fun.

And then, just as I was finally starting to enjoy myself there, a bee got stuck in my sunglasses and stung my eyelid. Dang! For a split second I thought, "Now I actually have a decent excuse to quit." I was right by the finish line. But then I thought, "Nah, it's way more hardcore if you finish now!" so I raced through the line and heard Anique (daughter of a Team Velo Girls member) yell "Keep going!!!" as I began my third lap.

As I climbed that hill for the third time that day, I saw Velo Girls up ahead. I couldn't believe it! I was high on bee venom and happy to see teammates. See, for much of the ride I envisioned myself so, so far behind; visions of Teammates waiting for me at the finish line while marinating in cow smell taunted me. But now, after working by myself for so many miles, maybe I wasn't as far behind as I thought. I rode up next to them and Lindsay and I started taking turns pulling. I still had a bee stinger in my eye, but I was just so happy to be working together with a Teammate--to be doing something I couldn't have done on my own.

I remember Lindsay and I passing one or two other W4 women. Then we caught up with Lorri and worked as a group while sharing lighthearted conversation with three other W4s. Suddenly on a hill, one of them started to break away from our friendly pack of six.

A part of me knew the race was over, that places 1 through 10 had already been secured, that what happened next didn't exactly matter. But another part of me thought that even though I didn't ride with the peloton that day, maybe this could be my race. Maybe I could not let this one get away.  So I followed up behind her and we pushed through the cobble-y part of the course. Pretty soon I saw the 1km sign and told myself to get ready to sprint. I wondered if I'd be able to do it at all, or alternatively if I'd sprint for a little only to blow out too early. When I saw the 200m sign, I just gave it a go, sprinted up past her, through the finish line, and up to Tiina and Winnie, who didn't seem upset about waiting in the cow smell at all. It was great to see them there.

It was extra great when Lindsay pulled the bee stinger out of my face.

So that was my race, and it turns out that Snelling wasn't that perfect moment--the one that Lorri has told us from the beginning not to wait for. So, I'm keeping at it, working on fitness, and trying to have a long view of my first season training and racing. I got dropped, and I still had fun. For today, I can live with that.