Is This A Dream Or Is It Reality?

While my preference is to write in synthesized overtones, I elected to write this entry in a sort of play-by-play so as preserve the fidelity of a truly incredible episodic memory that despite my best efforts may one day lapse to recall.

Sometime late Monday evening a heavy fog of fatigue lifted and restored my mental acuity. It felt as though I was Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz awaking to proclaim, “But it wasn’t a dream. It was a place.”…And Kristy Scrymgeour and Evelyn Stevens and Loren Rowney…and Tiffany Cromwell were there.  In fact, the whole Specialized-lululemon team was present and I had been invited to join them for six days of team camp.  Earlier this winter, Kristy Scrygmeur owner of team Specialized-lululemon asked if I would be interested in attending a portion of her team training camp. It was quiet possibly the easiest and most exciting question I have ever answered. Yes! Yes! A million times over, yes!!!!! Followed by immense gratitude.

Team Specialized-lululemon From left: Loren Rowney, Evelyn Stevens, Lisa Brennauer, Tayler Wiles, Ally Stacher, Chantal Blaak, Carmen Small, Elise Delzenne, Tiffany Cromwell, Trixi Worrack, and Karol-Ann Canuel. New to the team this year are Blaak, from the Netherlands; French national champion Delzenne; Cromwell, from Adelaide, Australia; and Canuel, from Quebec (courtesy of Bicycling Magazine)

Team Specialized-lululemon from left: Loren Rowney, Evelyn Stevens, Lisa Brennauer, Tayler Wiles, Ally Stacher, Chantal Blaak, Carmen Small, Elise Delzenne, Tiffany Cromwell, Trixi Worrack, and Karol-Ann Canuel. New to the team this year are Blaak, from the Netherlands; French national champion Delzenne; Cromwell, from Adelaide, Australia; and Canuel, from Quebec (courtesy of Bicycling Magazine)

In an effort to make the most of a seasonably well-timed trip to California, I elected to arrive a few days early. This early arrival also provided a fantastic opportunity to spend time with my 2013 FCS|Zngine teammate, the superbly sweet Kaelly Farnham. Despite arriving in the middle of the night, Kaelly and her husband Matt were incredibly welcoming. In the morning, they treated me to home roasted coffee and the most delicious frittata. With a day off from work in observation of MLK, Kaelly and I rode our bikes for hours around Napa Valley fueled by espresso and pastries from The Flying Goat.

Tuesday morning I awoke early to work EST business hours, while my generous hosts prepared for their respective workday. At the close of business, I drove to San Jose, rendezvoused with Lars the super sognier, and was transported to Specialized headquarters in Morgan Hill.  Where I met several of my idols, the women of Specialized-lululemon in their fashionable new kits and joined them for a media ride.

Tiffany Cromwell and Evelyn Stevens modeling the 2014 Specialized-lululemon kit (photo courtesy of Tiffany Cromwell)

Tiffany Cromwell and Evelyn Stevens modeling the 2014 Specialized-lululemon kit (photo courtesy of Tiffany Cromwell)

***Vote Specialized-lululemon in the Podium Café poll for best women’s 2014 kits!***

Along the ride I had an opportunity to chat with Tayler Wiles about the state of women’s cycling, Kristy’s commendable interview in Bicycling magazine about ‘What Women Want’, and recent updates to her websiteKarol-Ann Canuel, the newest Canadian addition, and I commiserated over a relentless winter of endless indoor training. When the ride came to a close, we hoped off our bikes and immediately took to yoga matts for a Lululemon lead session. Beside me was the Australian superstar Loren Rowney who long ago had been inspired by her brothers to pick up cycling. Loren was also a competitive long distance runner prior to honing her talent on the bike.

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Chamois yoga from left: Evelyn Stevens, Amy Cutler, Karol-Ann Canuel (photo courtesy of Evan Borders)

After chamois yoga, we jumped in the van for a 2hr drive into the hills of San Luis Obipso. It was so cool learning about Ally Stacher’s entrepreneurial pursuit of launching a health bar business. After a monstrous ascent we arrived at the gorgeous home of Martha Van Inwegen, the creator of Action Wipes. Martha and her husband had invited the team over for a delectable homemade dinner. While noshing on appetizers, we hovered around an indoor observation hive, learning about Martha’s newest venture, Therabee Honey. For dessert we were treated to ice cream and berries with a lavender infused honey drizzle. I am still dreaming about that lavender honey.

Observation hive (photo courtesy of Martha Van Inwegen)

Observation hive (photo courtesy of Martha Van Inwegen)

With another hour drive we arrived at camp, a house the team had rented for a couple weeks in Los Osos. I stayed in a temporarily vacant room as several members of the team remained at Specialized headquarters to complete wind tunnel testing.

The WIN tunnel from left: Lisa Brennauer, Loren Rowner, and Tiffany Cromwell (photo courtesy of Velocio)

The WIN tunnel from left: Lisa Brennauer, Loren Rowney, and Tiffany Cromwell (photo courtesy of Velocio)

On Wednesday morning we descended upon the kitchen in a flurry, each preparing our respective breakfasts. While breakfast may have been a free for all, dinner contrasted as a well orchestrated event. Designated groups of three rotated each night, tasked with the challenge of cooking a meal for the team and staff. For the women of Specialized-lululemon, even cooking is a team effort.

Backyard view from team camp site

Backyard view from team camp

As we sped towards the nearest hill, Ian Stanford trailed with a support vehicle, ready to provide us additional Osmo and Powerbar treats. He even coordinated a bike swap with Evie and she tested out a new TT machine. Half way through the first echelon effort I was toast, which came as no surprise. We are talking about the world’s fastest women after all. In the 2013 Worlds Team Time Trial Championship, team Specialized-lululemon smashed the competition with a ~1min lead! It is an honor to so much as cycle in the draft of these incredibly talented women.

2013 World TTT Champions Team Specialized Lululemon (photo courtesy of http://www.cyclingnews.com/races/french-road-championships-2013/elite-women-road-race/photos/270317)

2013 World TTT Champions Team Specialized Lululemon (photo courtesy of http://www.cyclingnews.com/races/french-road-championships-2013/elite-women-road-race/photos/270317)

After exploring Los Osos for ~4hrs  with Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, we arrived home to a yummy lunch prepared by Lars. He had skillfully gathered dinner supplies, cooked lunch, and prepared for an afternoon block of massages all whilst we were putting time in the saddle. Immediately following lunch we gathered for yoga and were eventually joined by a second guest rider, Portland’s very own Anna Grace Christiansen.

As several teammates were due back from testing, Anna and I packed for a stay at the Baywood Inn. Shortly after settling in, our neighbors Dr. Stacey Sims and Lisa Hunt of Osmo Nutrition provided a lift to the staff house for dinner. Afterward, we listened to one of the most informative lectures on nutrition. Stacey explained how she had meticulously designed a women’s specific  product line to satisfy our unique physiological needs. She also introduced us to the practice of using Rapid Response urine tests to evaluate hydration, stress, and overall health. A pretty cool tool I would like to adopt.

Osmo "Women are not small men" (photo courtesy of Tyler Benedict)

Osmo “Women are not small men” (photo courtesy of Tyler Benedict)

Thursday morning, I elected to catch up on some sleep and enjoy a delightful bayside breakfast at Back Bay Café. We then set out for another ~4hr day of training. This time Ina took us to a steep climb, in which I required the aid of director sportif Ronny Lauke and his support vehicle to summit. The climb was at least 2x longer and quite a bit steeper than anything in my present riding terrain, and the descent unlike any I had ever encountered. There is so much to learn, and thanks to Ally Stacher and Tiffany Cromwell I have some direction as to where I should focus on areas for improvement.

Santa Rita Creek Rd

Santa Rita Creek Rd

Lunch was often followed by a bit of down time. Through our chatter, I came to learn of Lisa Hunt and Loren Rowney’s past involvement with my present team, FCS|Zngine! Lisa has played various roles throughout her years of involvement within the sport. She has served as a Cyclist, Director Sportif, Coach, and Marketing Manager. Lisa’s time spent directing FCS|Zngine just so happened to coincide with Loren’s guest ride for the team. During that time, Loren achieved some remarkable results on the US circuit.

Later that afternoon, I headed to the staff house to assist with dinner preparations. Cooking enough food for 13 cyclists and an ever-expanding staff proved to be quite difficult. Over dinner I learned of Elise Delzenne‘s exceptional background. Following years of success as a former junior French Champion, Elise took four years off the bike to complete a degree in mechanical engineering. Only recently had she returned to the bike while working as a full time engineer. Despite a full workload, Elise managed to claim the 2013 French road race title!

French RR Championship podium from left: Amelie Rivat, Elise Delzenne and Aude Biannic (photo courtesy of AFP Photo)

French RR Championship podium from left: Amelie Rivat, Elise Delzenne and Aude Biannic (photo courtesy of AFP Photo)

Friday began with another bay side breakfast and a little Lululemon yoga. Our ride consisted of ~4hrs with hill repeats. Every ride was an exercise in pushing myself just a bit further beyond my comfort zone. During a more relaxed leg of the ride, I learned of Tiffany Cromwell’s history in cycling and passion for fashion, including her very own line of women’s cycling apparel.

Following each ride, the Specialized-lululemon staff meticulously washed every bike and ensured they were in impeccable order. As per what became the norm, we dined on a post ride lunch by Lars. While most evenings consisted of a home cooked meal and early retirement, this was Friday night! Despite being the eve of a team recovery day, we still retired early yet let the locals do the cooking.

Ally and Kristy carry a 1ton box of burritos

Ally and Kristy carry a 1-ton box of burritos

While the team had scheduled a beach photo shoot, Anna and I explored the gravel path of Santa Rita Rd. Along the ~5hr ride we stopped at Merry Hill Coffee for a unique caffeinated beverage called the Wisconsin Latte – prepared with honey and cinnamon. After weeks of riding indoors it felt phenomenal to finally sprint. Leaving everything out on the asphalt had not felt that good in months. With our journey completed just in time for dinner, we joined the team for homemade pizzas courtesy of the Lululemon crew. Over dinner I learned about the science behind preparing for high stake time trials, thoroughly enjoying the analytical approach to cycling.

Santa Rita Rd. Gravel Adventure

Santa Rita Rd. Gravel Adventure

At last the end was upon us. Sunday morning we checked out of the Baywood Inn, grabbed a quick sweet potato waffle breakfast from Good Tides, and met the team. Our convoy then proceeded to Art’s Cyclery, host of the Women’s Cycling Association (WCA) JoinTheRide Tour event. We were greeted by 100+ cyclists eager to ride with the women of Specialized-Lululemon! Among the WCA members were Robin Farina, Jono Coulter, and Liza Rachetto. Along the 50mile route I met a young cyclist named Moriah Swan of Strive Cycling, a team comprised of three sisters and brother. Moriah and her siblings’ share an impressive talent and dedication to the sport that is bound to take them far.

WCA JoinTheRide Tour (photo courtesy of Sheldon K. Smith, Ed.D. www.sheldonsphotos.com)

WCA JoinTheRide Tour (photo courtesy of Sheldon K. Smith, Ed.D. http://www.sheldonsphotos.com)

Finally, thanks to the kind heart of two-time world champion Lorraine Jarvis, I safely returned to San Francisco. We past hours on the road exchanging experiences on the bike. The unique paths women take to competitive cycling is so inspiring. In that car alone we had Sophy Lee, the WCA web manager and freelance web developer who excelled as a collegiate cyclist with Harvard University. Aliya Traficante a young North Cal rider with a tremendous amount of experience and big aspirations.  And of course the aforementioned Lorraine Jarvis, world champion and financial industry leader.

Gavilán BFF (photo courtesy of Gavriel Epstein)

Gavilán BFF (photo courtesy of Gavriel Epstein)

The ladies dropped me off at the arrival terminal where I disassembled my bike at baggage claim and proceeded to walk upstairs to check-in where no one was the wiser. Just one of many avoided bike fees thanks to the Gavilan BFF. With a redeye to NJ, I touched down in time to arrive at my desk ready for the work day. This trip was one of the most amazing experiences of my lifetime.  While I can not express enough gratitude to Krsity and everyone else who helped make this possible, I would like thank the super talented women of Specialized-lululemon for sharing their team camp with me. I wish them all the best of luck in the upcoming season, starting with the Ladies Tour of Qatar!

2 thoughts on “Is This A Dream Or Is It Reality?

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