Monday, October 14, 2013

2014 Velo Girls Membership is LIVE!

I had intended to post 2014 Velo Girls membership by October 1st, but I got a bit distracted with Furnace Creek 508, a training trip to Pactimo in Denver, and the flu.  Of course, the flu.  So, a few days late but you can now register for 2014 Velo Girls membership.

New for 2014:

  • Pre-pay a discounted professional bike fit from Savvy Bike with a Velo Girls discount.
  • Add a discounted Savvy Bike 4-hour Bike Skills clinic to your membership.
  • Register for our Cinderella Kick-Start Clinic with a Velo Girls discount.

Another exciting change for 2014 is that you can order all of your Velo Girls clothing DIRECTLY through Pactimo.  And (drumroll, please) Pactimo will ship your order directly to YOU!  We will not be combining clothing orders with membership this year.  Our first clothing order will take place in December 2013 for delivery in February 2014.  We will re-open the team store monthly throughout the year so you can order when it's most convenient for you.  Stay tuned for an exciting new design!

As an incentive to register early, use promotional code "earlybird" to receive a 10% discount on membership if you register before November 1st, 2013!

Friday, October 4, 2013

It Takes Two, Baby!

Our awesome little team of six for the Furnace Creek 508 awoke at dawn, grabbed some Starbuck's for breakfast, and chamoised up for a shake-out ride on the tandems.  In addition to the four of us racing, our two crew members, Max and Andy, saddled up on the spare tandem at our host house to join us for a short spin.  How often do you see three separate tandems out riding together?

I'm pretty impressed with our ability to get up and running smoothly.  My pilot, Jim Ryan, is a very experienced rider, and we were able to start, stop, shift to an optimal gear, and communicate really well together.  We dialed in our bike fit (as much as possible within the constraints of the bike) and I feel confident we've optimized our positions.

The best piece of advice I received this morning was from our other tandem pilot, Paul Kingsbury (owner of Kingsbury's Cyclery in Elmira, NY).  He said the biggest adjustment as a stoker is that I will feel the bike do things that weren't caused by MY input.  I thought about that several times during our 9-mile ride this morning.

We rolled with my Cardo BK-1 bluetooth communication device.  It's a super-cool helmet-mount system that allows two riders to talk to each other.  I've been testing it out in training the past month or so and I'm sold that it's a really great system for two riders.  If our crew is really smart, we're also going to connect to one of their smart phones so we can communicate with the support van.

Communication will be key for this race.

Lorri, Jim, and crew member Max in the background

I've spent a lot of time in the past month thinking about the experience of riding a tandem and also being supported by a crew.  This is very different for me.  I'm an independent girl.  I live alone.  I run my own business.  I have no family.  I'm used to doing my own thing.  So, for the next couple of days I'm integrating into a six-person team and allowing others to advise me and take care of me.  It's a pretty neat experience.

There are so many funny soundbites about riding a tandem.  But here are my thoughts as I embark on a journey from the stoker's seat:

  • Trust is key.  I need to trust in the bike.  The bike will do what it's meant to do if we don't screw it up.  I need to trust my pilot.  I couldn't pick a better pilot.  Jim is a super-experienced ultra-endurance rider with experience as a tandem pilot on this event.  He'll take good care of me.
  • It's okay to let others lead.  I'm used to being a leader.  I'm not used to being a follower. Following can feel uncomfortable to me.  My role this weekend is not to be a leader.  But I can be the very best follower I can be.  
  • I can be a contributor.  And that will be more valuable than being a leader in this situation.  I will pedal.  I'll cheer.  I'll help out whenever I can.  And I'll let others lead.
  • Intuition is also very important.  A stoker can't be on auto-pilot.  I can use verbal and non-verbal cues to help guide me.  
We're all packed in the van now and transferring to the host hotel in Valencia.  We've got race check-in and safety checks on both the bikes and the support vehicle.  We've got the race meeting this afternoon, with all 700 riders and support crew.  And then it's off to the grocery store to stock up on 24-hours of food for riders and support staff.  We've been discussing nutrition options, ranging from all liquids to a variety of real food and sports nutrition products, to eccentric snacks like tootsie rolls stuffed with coffee beans.  

I won't likely update the blog until after the race is finished on Sunday, but you can follow our progress here:

If you'd like to follow along, you'll find the official FC508 webcast here:

You'll find time splits for our team (Northern Spring Peepers) here:

Northern Spring Peepers Race Page

And you can get live (well, every 20 minutes) updates here:

Northern Spring Peepers SPOT Tracker

Wish me luck!


Thank you again to Gary Brustin and Jan Medina for their sponsorship of my race.  I wouldn't be sitting in this 15-passenger van on the 5 in Los Angeles, discussing pickle juice and chamois creme if it wasn't for their support.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Fastest Five Weeks In The History Of Time

This morning, I'm hopping on a jet plane (probably a prop plane, actually), bound for Los Angeles to meet up with my team for this weekend's Furnace Creek 508.  My journey leading up to this day followed a crazy, twisted road with a few bumps and potholes, but somehow I've arrived intact.

If you recall, five short weeks ago, I agreed to join the record-holding two-tandem 50-plus team, the Northern Spring Peepers, for this 508-mile race.  I knew it would be a challenge to ramp  up my volume to train for the event, but I was ready to take it on.  I had 4 weeks of available training time and then a week to recover and stay fresh for the event (what some folks might call a taper).

The first phase of my training was to increase both my duration and climbing.  I planned a series of three-day blocks with 10,000-15,000 combined feet of climbing with recovery between blocks.  My first two weeks were going as planned.  Well, maybe not quite as planned, as my teammate Pamela and I got a little carried away and rode 136 miles with 8,000' of climbing to start my second week of training.  But we survived, and I knew that I'd be able to complete my stages of FC508.  I totaled 24+ hours that week, with 321 miles and almost 15,000' of climbing.

The following week I planned another 20+ hours with 20,000' and was on track when tragedy struck -- I was hit by another cyclist while riding.  I was very fortunate that my injuries weren't too severe -- no broken bones, but lots of soft tissue damage and my right leg was deeply contused (and is still sore almost 3 weeks after the collision).  This basically destroyed my training plan.  I was conflicted:  I needed to train, but I needed to heal my injury.  I completed a few rides, feeling very slow and suffering with pain.  I cancelled my planned tandem training weekend with my partner, Jim Ryan, in Oregon.  I decided to be conservative, and let myself heal.

So, weeks 2 and 3 I only rode about 12 hours total (150 miles with 7,000' of climbing).  My 4th week, I climbed everything I could, knowing that would be the biggest bang for my training buck.  My leg still hurt, and I still felt slow, but I needed to do some damage control so I didn't completely lose fitness.  I was able to ride 17 hours, for a total of 200 miles and 17,000' of climbing.  My last long ride was a solid 75-miles with 7,000' of climbing.

This week my goal was to recover and then keep my legs fresh.  I'm feeling pretty good, so I guess I met my goal.  We'll see how I feel later today when I go for a spin with my tandem partner.

This year's Furnace Creek 508 has been a challenge for the race promoter, before we even hit the start line.  Apparently, two separate parts of the traditional course were washed out with flash floods, forcing a re-route of one section and a van shuttle of the other section.  Then, the federal government shut down.  Since the route goes through two different national parks (Mojave and Death Valley), the promoter hustled to find alternate routes (and obtain permits for those routes).  At this time, we don't know if we'll be permitted to ride the 508-mile course, or if the race will be shortened to 356 miles (an out + back route to Trona that skips all the really cool desert land).  While I'm certainly disappointed, I think we'll still have a great experience.

The modified route for my tandem team would be 177 miles total (instead of 240 miles).  We would ride stage 1 (107 miles with 6,000' of climbing) and stage 3 (70 miles with 4,000' of climbing).    The other tandem team (Paul Kingsbury and Wanda Tocci) would ride stage 2 (70 miles with 3,000' of climbing) and stage 4 (107 miles with 5,000' of climbing).  Wait a minute!  How did my team get more climbing?  So while the overall race distance has been reduced, the impact for each of our teams is not that significant.  We've still got our work cut out for us.

Of course, the logistics of changing from a 508-mile point-to-point race that begins in Santa Clarita and ends in 29 Palms about 33 hours later to a 356-mile out-and-back race that begins and ends in Santa Clarita less than 24 hours later means changing lodging and such, but our awesome team has handled all this without blinking.

So now, we just wait and find out which course we ride.  We all packed for the long course.  We have flights and lodging based on the long course.  But I'm guessing we'll end up riding the short course.

Later today we build up the tandems (they were shipped out from New York), go grocery shopping, have a test ride, and prepare the support van.  Today's also the day we all get to know each other.  Actually, the other three riders and two crew members all know each other already, so I guess it's the day that I get to know everybody else.  On Friday, the bikes and the vehicle both have to pass safety checks and we have rider meetings and dinner and spend the night in Santa Clarita.  And then on Saturday, we roll out @ 9:30am.

I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't a bit nervous.  Of course I'm nervous.  I'm jumping back in, still injured, riding 177 miles and 10,000' of climbing in less than 24 hours.  On the back of a tandem.  With a man I've never met.  I'm nervous and excited and feeling surprisingly calm.  I guess the reality of what I'm about to undertake hasn't sunk in yet.

If you'd like to follow along, you'll find the official FC508 webcast here:

You'll find time splits for our team (Northern Spring Peepers) here:

Northern Spring Peepers Race Page

And you can get live (well, every 20 minutes) updates here:

Northern Spring Peepers SPOT Tracker

Wish me luck!


I want to take a minute to thank a bunch of folks who've helped me arrive here:

Gary Brustin and Jan Medina for their sponsorship of my race.

Pamela Levine for being the best training partner ever.

Winnie + Dan Brehmer for loaning me a wheelset when mine was destroyed in the crash.

Annie Gianakos for scraping my broken body off the pavement, taking me to the hospital, and nursing me on the day of my crash.

Jason Pierce who dragged my tired butt around on the bike and shared all his accumulated wisdom about FC508.

And all my friends and teammates who've shared rides with me, listened to my stories, calmed my fears about being injured, and supported me on this crazy, bumpy journey!