Friday, March 30, 2012

San Dimas / Redlands ReCap

This was my second year racing San Dimas Stage Race. Last year I remember coming in to the race so nervous because it was my first big girl pro race. I had no idea how I would race, what the course was like, the pro riders, the aggressive tactics and so on. I got dropped on the first lap of the road race, and failed to make the 10% time cut. My numbers were stripped and I could not race the next stage. I was so upset, I knew that if I came back to race San Dimas again, things would be very different.

This year, I came to the race with much more experience and strength. With a stronger team, amazing support from our staff and just a better knowledge of professional bike racing, I knew this time around would be better. Alison Powers got 7th in the time trial so we knew we had our work cut out for us for the road race and criterium. The morning of our road race, it was pouring rain and 50 degrees, but I didn't mind because the worse conditions the better opportunity for epic racing!

Powers got in the winning break and moved up to 4th on GC. We warmed up from the cold day of racing and prepared for the last day: the criterium. It was aggressive from the start. Anne got in a break of 4, amongst Ina Teutenburg and the rest of the NOW team stayed at the front of the pack controlling the race. With about 7 laps to go, Olivia Dillon took a flyer and almost stayed off the front, but the field caught her and she still managed to do 1 last effort for the lead out train.

Overall, Alison got 4th on GC and Anne got 4th in the stage. We packed up the bus and headed to Redlands, CA.

This is the team warming up under the Taj Mahal (our tent) preparing for the cold/wet/ windy road race. Thank you Kinetic trainers... best way to warm up for this kind of weather!

I was determined to fight the entire race! (Left: Rae Shaw from Exergy2012)
The beginning of the road race, at the front ready to cover attacks and staying safe through the wet weather.

Anne and I have a post race chat.
When we arrived to Redlands I was very excited. We had a great host families, Cerina, and the Pompa Family, who already made us dinner when we arrived, which was amazing because we were all tired, cold, and hungry!
We spent the next few days in Redlands reviewing the courses and I knew from the beginning, it was going to be a hard race. We had a full day of media training, which was very helpful because I can now give an interview and I know the right things to say and words to avoid! We had a great big dinner party at our host family house; it felt like thanksgiving, even Phil Keoghan came to have dinner with us!
Below is a picture of me chopping veggies, that is always my job in the kitchen, and of course, I have to wear an apron if I am going to be cooking!
Powers got 3rd in the prologue (which was in a nutshell the hardest time trial I have ever done!).
This is how I like to prepare for a long road race.Stage 2 was a long road race in Beaumont, CA. The stage is mostly downhill with a 3km climb in it so every break that tries to get away, usually comes back on the downhill sections. The finish came to a field sprint and there was no change in GC for us.
Thank you Specialized for making an awesome bike, we love racing on them!
The next day was a crit in downtown Redlands. It was very technical, fast and aggressive. We led out Alison for the mid race time bonus and she got it, so it moved her up to 2nd on GC and 11 seconds separated Alison and Megan Guarnier. We got 4th and 5th on the stage after a nasty crash on the last lap messed up our lead out. Fortunately no NOW riders went down.
Here is a cool picture from I am in the middle of the photo and Ashley James is a couple riders back
The last stage finally came: Sunset Circuit race. We do 9 laps of a 10k circuit that is 2/3 's uphill and a short downhill. It was very hard and there was not much time to recover from the uphill sections. There were so many people from Redlands cheering for us, especially our host family as the race goes right by their house. It was very cool to see the Redlands community come together for bike racing.
Alison stayed 2nd on the GC but she won the stage!!! Last year she shattered her elbow at this race and was out for virtually an entire season. She did awesome, and she won her redemption from last year. Not only did Alison get second on GC, but we won the team overall classification as well!
It is such great start to a season, the next race for us is the Charlotte Criterium! Keep cheering us on!
Great job team!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Handle Bar Coffee

About everyday at camp (twice a day) we went to Handle Bar Coffee! The store is owned by Kim Anderson and her fiance' Aaron Olson. Kim Anderson, a former professional cyclist for many teams such as HTC-Highroad and T-Mobile, won the Route du France Feminine, which is the women's version of the Tour de France. We spoke the same language: cycling and coffee! We quickly became regulars at the shop; Alison and Olivia even went to go get pastries for them during their busy hours, anything to help out a local shop (and our friends).

I have expanded my knowledge about coffee, how to make it the right way, and overall more respect for the bean itself! My teammate, AnneSlam told me that instead of drinking alcohol, like some teens my age, I am drinking coffee! I have learned correct terminology in the coffee world and the in's and out's of preparing coffee (thanks to Alison Powers who went to barista school).

Above is our mechanic, Erik, using his drill to grind the coffee. Originally, it was a hand grinder, but because the demand for coffee was so high in the house, we had to find a faster alternative!

Below is the entrance of Handle Bar Coffee, located on East Canon Perdido Street in Santa Barbara, CA

Thank you Specialized for the bike! Not only did we train on them, we rode them to Handle Bar Coffee. It was a great combo!
Phil Keoghan gets a lesson about how to run the cash register!
Kim Anderson.... self explanatory!We got Erik a pastry for every bike he built... that would be about 25, he is so awesome! Thanks a ton Erik!Handle Bar uses the cash register of the future! An Ipad application, no need to print receipts, it will email or text you your receipt!!
Pictures of some of the greatest racers displayed in the front of the store. Notice Evie Stevens on the far right with her Shiv from Specialized!
They roast their own coffee, this bad boy is named Hercules he is from Germany. They Kim and Aaron brew about 15 lbs of Decaf and 25lbs of regular about 2 times a week. When you drink Handle Bar Coffee, you know you are drinking the best and the most fresh coffee around!
Before leaving Santa Barbara, we stopped at Handle Bar for last cup of coffee and a goodbye to our cycling/ coffee friends!The awesome set up!
Meeting Kim Anderson was so cool! I really enjoyed the time we spent in Santa Barbara and especially the time we spent at Handle Bar Coffee

We are now in San Dimas, CA getting ready for Stage 1 of racing tomorrow. It will be a 4 mile uphill time trial wish the NOW Pro Cycling team goodluck! Thanks for reading!
If you would like to learn more about Handle Bar Coffee OR enjoy some of their amazing roast, visit their website:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Santa Barbara Farmers Market

I have always wanted to cook my meals with goods from the Farmer's Market, and be a supporter of the local farms. However, living in Charlotte, NC, buying local foods from restaurants or stores is not feasible. We have one Farmer's Market in the whole city, it is located in a very small area just outside of a neighborhood, not making it possible for a more food/ shoppers/ and parking.

Don't get me wrong, I am really glad to have a Farmer's Market, but after visiting Santa Barbara, there could be much more room for improvement at home!!

If you have never visited the Santa Barbara Farmer's Market, it is all fresh, local, and delicious! The city closes down a single strip of road (about 3 blocks) in downtown Santa Barbara and opens it to the public for some outdoor grocery shopping! There was cross guard, making it safe for everyone with crossing traffic. Everyone was very friendly and there was some very interesting food like tri-colored carrots!

Going to Santa Barbara's Farmer's Market was such a great experience; it expanded my interest of buying and eating local foods. Last night, we made a 100% local dinner; chicken (that was killed 2 days ago) salad, acorn squash, cauliflower, and carrots. Olivia Dillon was our chef, she cooks some mean chicken. Devon Gorry and I were her sous chefs, cutting and cleaning anything!

Above is a picture of a guy selling balloons, one of the many great people watching moments!
This guy was playing 4 different instruments at once!
Apparently this are really wonderful apples, maybe I should have told the Kiwi Customs police how good the apples are in America!
Some interesting avocado I have never seen before.... I still do not know what it is.
Another musician entertaining us along the walk through the market.
These two older women know how to grow some good avocados! They were so nice and sweet!
This cool hippie plays the ukulele, just like me! I wanted to join in badly!
Powers says "Oh snap! These mandarin oranges are tARRRRt!"
AnneSlam eats the whole orange in one bite.Carrots of all different colors, white, purple, and red!Olivia (OD) can eat this whole bag in one morning. That is how much fruit she eats in a day!
To end our Farmer's Market journey, a nice beach cruiser and fresh flowers in the background. It was a great experience and lots of learning of a different culture (and I didn't even have to leave the country!!)

Thanks for reading!! Keep following for more updates, tomorrow morning, we pack up the bus and head south for SanDimas. Goodbye Santa (Claus) Barbara, I had a great time!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bikes, Bubba, and Barbara

Who is Bubba?? Well, if you ask teammate, Christina Gokey-Smith, she can tell you all about Bubba, her furry friend, pet squirrel.
It was in the summer and she went mountain biking with her husband and a friend. Her friend noticed a baby squirrel in the back of his pick up truck that appeared to be having some life threatening injuries. "He was a pinky, which means he had no hair and maybe a week old" said Gokey. She covered him up to keep him warm and proceeded to go on her mountain bike ride assuming that the innocent baby would die. After their ride, they came back to a surprise of life, he was still alive so she took him home to take care of him and nurse him back to health. They went to the pet store to get baby squirrel formula and a heating pad for him to sleep on. She and her husband, Toby, named him Bubba, because they liked the sound of the name. She fed him every few hours with a little baby bottle and she would wipe him with a Qtip to get him to go to the bathroom.
Bubba's eyes were not open, but he could sense Gokey's presence. "Bubba started to become more and more apart of the family. I had a bird cage in the house for him to live. I would let him out of the cage and he would run all over the house, climb on my shoulder. Like any puppy, I would have to potty train him after his meals so he could become manageable". She would let him outside to go up in the tree, his favorite snack: pecans. Bubba traveled to all of the mountain bike races and became a regular! "Everyone liked Bubba. If I was in a conversation with someone, Bubba would be chilling on my shoulder and he would jump to the other person's shoulder that I was talking with. He was just great!"
Q: What kinds of things would you do with Bubba:
A: I would take him out to the barn and he would cuddle in my shirt and he would just hang out with me. I knew he liked me because he would give me little kisses on my ear.
Q: What happened to Bubba:
A: Bubba had an addiction towards dog food. I tried to break the habit; he would have little pieces in his mouth and when I tried to take it from him he would just run away from me. I would say "Bubba.... Drop it!!!". One day, I was feeding my dogs; he went in to the dog food to start eating his own meal and my dog snapped at him. It was completely an accident, and unfortunately the snap was too much for Bubba, and that was it. We burried him under his favorite tree.
Q: How long did you have Bubba?
A: Probably 7 months, it was about the summer/fall of 2007
Q: Anything else?
A: I miss Bubba.
Gokey became know as a squirrel care taker a friend gave her some squirrels to rescue. One squirrel, named Sophia pronounced like Sophie, fell out of a tree. Gokey took him (Sophia) to the chiropractor and the doctor adjusted his lower back area. It was a great story Gokey told and it shows a great friendship between a baby squirrel and a Texan woman!
Here is an interesting video that we like to joke about with Gokey! We love her so much! Thanks to our mechanic Erik for making this reference:
Below, we had watermelon for desert one night! It was delicious and past the due date....
Olivia Dillon takes charge in making dinner, while AnneSlam orders everyone what to do!
Last night was Taco Tuesday, except it was Saturday.... but the Tacos were delicious!Gokey-Smith mixes up the salad and our swanny, Emily is ready to dig in on the awesome Tacos!
One thing I have learned about my teammates this week is they need coffee in the morning ASAP!
This is Alison Powers' face when she does not get her coffee in time!Riding a bike path in Ventura, CA
Pit stop for some "Real Western Beef Jerkey"! Gokey and AnneSlam are happy for some fluids!
We enjoyed the rest of the day chilling at the pool/hot tub!I tried to work on my tanlines today.
Thank you for reading, if you have not been following along, our team mate Beth Newell has been killing it at the PanAm Championships. She is bringing back 3 bronze medals and some great learning experience! Congrats Beth we can't wait to have toast with you on Tuesday!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Santa Claus Barbara Camp

NOW Pro Women's Cycling has arrived in Santa Barbara!!

We are here having team training camp; it's lots of fun, drinking coffee and learning lots of cool things! I haven't seen my teammates since January and I have missed them so much, they must have missed me too because I have been gifted at least 4 apples...Thanks guys!

Devon Gorry checking out here new Specialized Tarmac!

Our awesome mechanic, Erik, building us bikes!The view from our balcony!
The front of the sorority house!
Keepin it classy!
Our swanny, Emily Baker, and riding buddy from Tulsa, OK, Joel Kantor, riding with us. Thank you Emily for everything!
Former Irish National Road Champion: Olivia Dillon and myself!
Devon Gorry giving me bunny ears and I am giving her a headlock. ( Thank you Alison Powers for reminding me what a headlock is)We LOVE our Specialized Amira bikes!!!!
We stopped by Handlebar Coffee owned by Kim Anderson (cycling legend) and Aaron Olson. I had a cappuccino it was so awesome!!!
Captain Kurt gives a thumbs up for his espresso and Gokey sips down an iced coffee!
The gang!Thank you for following! Look for more updates later on in the week!