Archive for the ‘TRAVEL’ Category

Spending the day packing for Beijing. We’ve got a flight out on Air China at midnight, which gives me the entire day to attend to all the junk I’ve been shoving aside when I’m too tired from training.

I’m also trying to embrace the digital life, which means I’ve got to stop printing stuff like this and keeping it around. So I thought I’d preserve it here:

“Someday, in years to come, you’ll be wrestling with the great temptation, or trembling under the great sorrow, of your life. But the real struggle is here, now, in these quiet weeks. Now it is being decided whether, in the day of your supreme sorrow or temptation, you shall miserably fail or gloriously conquer. Character cannot be made except by a steady, long-continued process.”

–Phillips Brooks

Admittedly, I had no idea who Phillips Brooks was when I printed it out. I think our sports psych, Wendy Borlabi sent it in one of her emails to keep us on track. Obviously, it spoke to me.

Upon further investigation, Brooks was not only a great scholar and theologian, he wrote “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem,” (which happens to be one of my favorite Christmas carols). His legacy lives on in educational and service organizations, where the development of kindness, character, service and a love of learning are core values.

The center for volunteer organizations at Harvard University is named after him. I also learned there’s a cool little independent school in Menlo Park, CA called the Phillips Brooks School, which is super hip and embodies the way of living he brought to the world.

Check it out! The Phillips Brooks School.


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The Answer is . . .

I’m working on posts about the Cali World Cup specifically, the current World Cup season broadly, the road to London, what I’m doing, who I’m doing it with, what my role is, how I got here, etc. etc. etc.

But yesterday was a really long travel day.

We were up at 7am, left the hotel at 11am, on a plane at 3:30pm, another plane at 6pm and landed in LAX around midnight with about half the 22 pieces of luggage we traveled with in hand.

Everyone was in good spirits, but tired from a week of racing, eating, sleeping, traveling to the velodrome and back again, with precious few of us knowing the language.

(Fortunately, every Columbian I met was kind enough to let me stumble through my high school knowledge of Spanish while they practiced English!)

So before I get back to sharing my unique perspective on the above, I want to pass along something a friend sent me while I was in Cali:

The Meaning of Life.

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Where to begin!?

I’m writing this on my return flight from the Manchester World Cup. My teammate Cristin is two rows in front of me. We started the day with Bobby Lea, Kim Geist and Cari Higgins—also of the US Team—and Megan Hottman, of DFT Treads Cycling.  We left Kim & Bobby in Pennsylvania while Cari & Megan flew on to Denver. Cristin & I are heading back to Los Angeles where we’ll resume training Tuesday at the ADT Center.  

I flew to Los Angeles shortly after Thanksgiving to train with the new US Sprint Coach, Jamie Staff. Staff was hired by USA Cycling in July 2010 with the challenge of building an internationally competitive sprint program. Staff retired from competition last year after a career that began on the BMX track and ended with his winning gold at the Beijing Olympics as the starter for the British Team Sprint team.

At Elite Nationals, I learned Staff had an open door policy for now.  I did well at elite nationals—two gold and two bronze medals—so I took a few weeks to consider whether I wanted to pursue the sport at a higher level. If I learned anything in 2007, it’s that it’s nearly impossible to succeed at the world class level without committed support from an organized program.

We decided we were still game so I emailed Jamie to see if I could join his training group between the holidays.

That was three months ago. What started as a ‘try out’ has become a work in progress!

When I arrived in LA, 2009 elite national champion Cristin Walker was the only female sprint athlete training with Staff. She was doing road work and being groomed for next season. Staff has been straight up since taking the job that he’s got a long term vision and is building a program with the 2016 Olympic Games in mind.

New for London 2012, the Team Sprint is being used to qualify sprinters for the Olympic Games. Prior to myself and Tela Crane from Seattle joining him, Jamie had only one female–Cristin–in camp. When we arrived, he suddenly had enough bodies to field a team.

So we got to work. No promises were made. Jamie’s a high-energy, driven, process-oriented coach. We show up every day, work hard and give him our best. He gives us his best and expects our best. That’s how it goes.

By January, Staff felt we were fast enough to race the World Cup. I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I think he saw this season as a chance to gain international experience, establish a UCI ranking and if all goes well, earn Olympic qualification points. At the very least, he saw it as a chance to get US women back in the game.

It’s been a whirlwind, to say the least! Cristin and I flew to China last month for the Beijing World Cup. It was my first elite international race since December 2007 and Cristin’s first World Cup ever.  Long travel, crazy jet lag, funny food, very little English . . . nothing like diving in head first!

We did well in Beijing: placed 11th with a respectable time of 35.954. We also scored Olympic qualification points our first time out! Last week we rode a 36.054 in Manchester . . . just 1/10 second off our best.

With Beijing, the travel and cultural differences take some getting used to. Manchester is an entirely different beast: sold-out crowds, non-stop loud music and cameras in your face. The stimulus factor is a 10+ and learning to concentrate and focus on your race is a cultivated skill.

We’d grown accustomed to going 2/10ths faster every time we rode together, so we were expecting a faster time in Manchester. Cristin and I also came home from China sick as dogs, though, and lost valuable training time between the two events.

Still, we’re ahead of schedule: Instead of waiting ‘til next World Cup season, we’ve got two World Cups under our belts. And, we’ve set a time we can only improve on and have seen first-hand the best in the world perform.

Plus, we’ve got a UCI ranking and have scored coveted Olympic qualification points. Whoot! I’ll post photos soon and do my best to explain what it takes to qualify for the Olympic Games . . .

For now, I’ll just say this: Every pedal stroke counts!

Until then, cheers!


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A Great Trip

I know I’ve been quiet, which has everything to do with going through another move in June. If you count relocating for training, this is the 5th time I’ve moved in 5 years. But we finally found a place that gets me closer to my friends in the Lehigh Valley and the track while Lath has a manageable commute, so hopefully . . . it’s our last!

I just returned from back-to-back race weekends in the Pacific Northwest. I started working with Jennie Reed last year — who was key to my doing well at the World Cup level in 2007. She’s an amazing coach and friend, so the trip to Portland for the Alpenrose Velodrome Challenge and Seattle for the FSA Grand Prix presented by Nuun was as much an opportunity for good racing as it was a chance to check in with Jennie.

The Men's 30K Points Race at Alpenrose

The Alpenrose Velodrome is a little kooky. It’s shaped like a paper clip with tight turns that suck you into the corners. It requires a certain physicality to race it well, otherwise you lose contact with the track and get bounced around (you have to relax, let your body absorb the surface, and find the cleaner lines.) Point being: it’s not easy to get used to, but once you do  — it’s a blast. Kind of like a carnival ride.

There’s definitely a hometown advantage, as Portlands’ Kevin Metzger and Jen Featheringill dominated the sprints.

My best result at the AVC was 2nd in the Team Sprint with my partner, Seattle’s Tela Crane; and 3rd in the Keirin behind Dana Feiss and Monique Sullivan. Tela & I broke the track record in the Team Sprint and were celebrating our awesomeness before Dana and Jen Featheringhill dropped it a few moments later. It was pretty cool once I got over being bummed about not winning. Each of the women’s team sprint teams broke the track record, which says something (I think) about a new crop of sprint talent in the US.

The first two days of racing (the 500m & Match Sprints) for me were flat, not sure if it was the travel or adjusting to the track. I raced Tuesday night at T-Town then traveled Wednesday and was warned by Jennie that might not be the smartest thing to do (race before hopping on a cross-country flight). Well, that’s how you learn; and my form came around by day 3 . . . thank GOD!

We hit 60kph (36mph) in the Keirin final! That’s fast! Kudos to Dana Feiss for leading it out for two laps.

Both events are season marquee races for the Alpenrose and Marymoore velodromes, so the talent was deep, racing competitive and prize money generous. The promoters offer equal prize money for both the women’s and men’s fields (another bonus), so the racing’s aggressive across the board. Riders from all over the West . . . California, Colorado, Canada and Chicago come and they all seem to know each other well so the vibe feels like a big picnic with bicycle track racing going on around it.

Here are some pics of Alpenrose …The infield is organized chaos. We had glorious weather.

The Infield at Alpenrose

Women's Scratch Race

The Homestraight Grandstands

Our friendly announcing team

Our route: Oceanside to Sand Lake to Tillamook to Oceanside

Camille Hook, busting out the grin

I had some time to kill  before heading up to Seattle for the Fixed Gear Classic, and found out Sunday night that Portland rider Camille Hook had never been to the coast, or at least it had been awhile.

I rode a good chunk of the Oregon Coast after running in the Hood to Coast relay in 1997. IMO, it’s one of the most gorgeous places in the US, I had to go being so close. Canadian Travis Smith helped me coerce Camille into taking the day off  & we had a blast. It took us twice as long as we thought it would to ride a way harder route than we thought it would be. Closest I’ve been to bonking in a long time. It was epic.

40 Miles of wind, sand, hills and gorgeous scenery. Epic.

I’ve got a few Marymoor pics that I’ll upload once I’ve checked ’em out. It was an amazing trip. Special thanks to former pro cyclist turned pro accountant Marjon Marik, who let me stay with her in Portland  . . . and David and Ellen Mann, who gave me the ROYAL Treatment in Seattle.

And Walrod, I still can’t believe I ran into you and your family on Glisan! That was crazy.

Got some quality racing in, spend time with old friends and caught up with and met new friends in the sport.

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I spent February and some of March in LA this winter. It was good to get out of the cold, dark East and great to hang with my friend Stacey, who I stayed with before the ’07 LA World Cup.

Stacey & Molley Girl

Stacey & I share huge love for our dogs. She recently had to say goodbye to her sweet pal Molly (pictured right).  Molly was the kind of dog that barks at you and expects you to understand what she’s saying. Funny thing is . . . after living with and feeding her for a week or so, you actually could start to understand her.

I got a strange sensation riding along the Strand . . . not because the last time was there was in 2007, but because the first time I was riding that path was 10 years ago to the day.

In March of 1999, I made my first solo trip to the West Coast to race what was then called the California Spring Classic Series. I entered my first EDS Track Cup, then raced the Sea Otter Classic (Cat III road &  mountain), the Napa Valley World Cup on the mountain,and got spit out the back of the Visalia Crit.

I somehow convinced my boss at Runner’s World to let me take a month off and race my bike.  (thanks Ken!) I flew to California, rented a mini-van, floated between El Segundo at my cousin Cheryl’s and Pasadena at my friend Tony’s when I wasn’t traveling to races. It was me, a van, 3 bikes and a map of California. I was rider, mechanic, team manager and soigneur.

What I remember most from the trip was how much I learned in a short time, and how hard it is to race back to back weekends when you’re handling all the logistics yourself. Since that moment, I’ve been in awe of road pros. I’m pretty sure that’s when I realized the ‘arena sport’ nature of track racing was more my style.

I dug out the journal I kept while on the road and found this report on my first EDS Cup.

Race Report, EDS Cup 1999

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Many thanks to my Aussie VBR teammate, Jess, for her massive support during elite nats! 

Everyone should have a cute, mechanically-inclined, race savvy sweetheart with a wicked sense of humor, cheeky accent, and calm disposition to get them through a marathon week of track racing. 
Check out the loot! Great day of racing today, with the women’s points race and men’s madison wrapping up the week. You can check all the results on USA Cycling.
Final tally: One gold, two silvers, and lots of time to catch up with folks I haven’t seen in awhile.

Good luck to all the masters heading to Sydney for Masters Worlds!

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Does it take for two girls to do a track workout? Four, gorgeous, beautiful bikes. That’s how many. Two Giants, one Scott and one Blue. And how many times can 3 girls eat in one day? Last time I checked, we were at 13 (4-5 times apiece). But who’s counting? 

Here was the scene today as my Verducci-Breakaway teammate Kacey and I were waiting to head to the ADT Center. Every day is a masterful display of logistics. Sometimes we’ve got 4 girls and 4 bikes. In a few days’ we’ll have 4 girls, maybe 6 or 8 bikes, a few pair of race wheels, some food, lots of bags, and one very dedicated Team Manager and one very dedicated Team Director. 

It’s been awesome to get back to LA to the ADT Center. The track feels like home to me. It’s gorgeous, and it’s effortless to ride on the boards. 

Today we did warm-up with Lanell & Dave, plus DC Heather. On the boards, you can cruise at 44, 46 kph with the same effort you might use at 40, 42kph on the cement at T-Town. 

Getting here was a breeze. Been doing a whole lotta TV watching, hydrating, and getting ready for racing to begin on Thursday.

It’s great to be back!

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