Saturday, March 20, 2010

I Love My Job!

One of my favorite things about being a professional cyclist is "paying it forward." Through all the years of blood, sweat and tears, I've gathered a wealth of knowledge about cycling, being a professional athlete and a few other things too. Every chance I get to pass along some of my knowledge, I jump! A few weeks ago, the young ladies from The Pine School in Hobe Sound, Florida, were my audience as together we celebrated Girls & Women in Sports Day. We talked about how sports has molded my life and reallly become a large part of my identity. Most of the girls that were in my audience happened to be athletes too and have participated or competed in many of the same sports as me so we had a lot in common! I remember being their age and how every experience was new and so exciting! I hope that the girls left inspired and motivated by my experiences because the girls of The Pine School definately inspired me with their enthusiasm!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A2 = Ah HA!

Preparations for my 2010 season with Team Vera Bradley Foundation just got a HUGE boost! Early in the week, I loaded up my Specialized TT bike and my Dad in the Elephant (a.k.a Honda Element) for a full-on country music infused road trip! I was scheduled to spend some time with Mike Giraud at the A2 Wind Tunnel in Mooresville, North Carolina.

The miles ticked by quickly and the closer we came to Mooresville and my testing session time, the more excited I got. I just couldn't wait to see how my position could be improved. Two of my teammates also tested on the same day as me so we had hoped for some good pre-season hang out time too! I arrived at A2 with a little time to spare and watched one teammate's wind tunnel session with the other teammate. I took many mental notes as I watched and couldn't wait to see how I could improve my aerodynamics, just like my teammates did.

Finally, after a quick changed into my skinsuit, it was time for my test! A2 testing starts with a series of baseline tests, just to get an idea of where you are with your current position. Mike came in after my baseline tests to inform me that "this is going to be easy." WHAT? What's going to be easy? Then Mike informed me that I'm already very aero! Fortunately, I was not shocked because my coach had prepared me for this moment...we've always set up my TT position by "feel" and I've only been satisfied with it when I "feel" fast and powerful. So with a HUGE sense of confidence and pride, I asked Mike what improvements I could possibly make...??? So Mike tweaked my bike to fit my body in the most aero position and after a total of 13 tested positions, I was again satisfied, and CONFIDENT!

So I spent several days and quite a bit of pocket change to learn that I do know what I'm doing...really? REALLY! Every second, and every penny, spent were absolutely well worth it! I learned a TON about aerodynamics, my own personal aeroness and had a great road trip with my Dad. And by the way, my Dad happens to be just about the best support staff a rider like me could ask for. Not only did he catered to my crazy schedule he did all the driving! And he learned how to fabricate a special piece of carbon to hold my SRM head unit- ask me about it when you see me on my TT bike and I'll proudly show you his handiwork!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Power of Girlfriendships

The view from the outside of my life as a professional cyclist is not quite clear to me. I've never really gotten a good glimpse of what my life must look like to others but I really do think about it quite a bit. Prompted by what seems to be one strange question after another from friends and family leads me to believe that, although my life seems perfectly normal to me, its nothing close to that. Its taken me nearly my entire life, spent in one sport after another, none of which ever received mainstream media exposure, to figure out that all these questions are really true and sincere curiosity about my strange life...not strange questions at all! And now, I love answering and often find myself deep in conversation only to realize that the entire discussion has been about me! Possibly this is my own form of sport psychology as I've noticed the more I talk about my experiences, the more confident I become and the more I believe in what I'm doing. I love sharing my love of the sport.

However...cycling can also be a lonely sport. The ranks of the professional are not-so-glamorous; much time is spent alone training, resting, traveling...resting, training and then some. Its not only the time spent alone but also the blatant lack of understanding by what seems to be everyone else in the world. Who will give me, the superwoman, empathy, understanding, support...who could? Many try and, believe me, its more than appreciated. Big successes on the bike come few and far between however I drive on, chasing the dream, the goal, the win, the big one...wherever it is. In cycling, you can't always predict when "your day" will come so every day "could be" and, as such, I'm ready. I'm committed to whatever it takes each day, which leads to vulnerability and more often than not, a loss. One out of a hundred women win the race, just one had "their day" and everybody else has excuses and mistakes and learning experiences and wishes.

But the real heart of the sport, and my heart too, is still dependent upon the
almighty race. Its what gets me going, the prize in my eye, the motivation above all motivation. The speed, the intensity, the suffering. I'm addicted to it all, no doubt about it.

There are two parts that have me hooked: the physical challenge and the psychological experience. Pushing my body to the limit, whatever that might be each race day, feels good. I like to race hard and when the racing isn't hard, I don't like it. My favorite races are those won by the strong, tough, relentless women and no matter my result, as long as I turned myself inside out, I'm exhilarated.

But possibly even more so, I am addicted to the experience. Cycling is a team sport and as a stage racer, I am, along with my team of 6-8 women, committed to working towards one common goal, together we're going for the win and nothing less. And NOTHING feels better than being a part of a successful team. Nothing hurts more than letting your team down. Talk about lonely, everybody knows what it feels like and nobody EVER wants to feel it. The team - that's what its all about, that's where I found "it," my vice is the team. The relationships, the bonds, the trust, the love of the game are all there in my team. That's it, that's why I am a pro cyclist.

I am sometimes a bit too introspective for my own good but at this point in my career, I need to know why my desire to juggle the universe drives me to the very limit of my capabilities. I am dedicated to and bonded with my teammates and staff because we are a team. They are the ones; these women juggle the universe just like me, they feel the emotions just like me, they are bonded to me, just like I am to them. These women, these relationships, Girlfriendships, if you will, are why I am a professional cyclist. Girlfriendships, bonds among like women, are a beautiful thing. You can find them, too, in your realm, and I strongly encourage you to be real, vulnerable and dedicated to your Girlfriendships as I am to mine. Take the risk, be true to yourself and your relationships...your Girlfriendships. They're totally worth it.

Friday, January 8, 2010


So many things are inspiring me right now but nothing more than watching people accomplish things they didn't know they could. To watch someone reinvent herself, make their own action plan, or do "it" their own way is giving me a HUGE energy boost! The timing couldn't be better for me to become energized as I'm entering a tough phase of my training. The miles are long and, for the last month, mostly sans companions. All of this time alone, and all this inspiration, has given me time to philosophize a bit and the following is a list of what I've determined:

1. It takes way to much energy to get mad and so I'm going to try to avoid anger.

2. Being nice, even overly nice and happy, especially when it's not really expected, is energizing and uplifting not only for the person I'm being nice to, but for me too!

3. I'm not going to resolve to learn Spanish for the 6th year in a row...someday, I'll get it down...I'm giving myself a pass on this one for the year.

4. There are some things you just can't force, like your health, no matter how strong your will is; you're best bet is to treat your body well all the time.

5. Watching other people achieve their goals is so rewarding and it's definitely worthwhile to invest in dedicated people.

6. I really do love riding my bike. And I can do it forever if I want to.

The credit for my list should be giving to a lot of different people and in the weeks to come, I'm going to tell you more about some of these people. In addition, Vera Bradley and the Vera Bradley Foundation have signed on to sponsor my team and they are nothing short of inspiring! Talk about inspiration, they epitomize it: the Foundation is solely for the purpose of fighting breast cancer. Breast cancer has probably touched the lives of everyone I know in one way or another and so I'm thrilled to support the cause and Vera Bradley's efforts. Ironically, Specialized, our equipment sponsor, also has a breast cancer support initiative. So this year will be a special year, not only about me, but about people like my Aunt Carolyn, who is a survivor, and numerous others. Thinking about what she's been through makes my job as a professional bike racer sound easy.

So, while I try to control my enthusiasm (and not overtrain!), I'm pretty fired up about the year. I'm putting the list above front and center in my life and giving myself perspective, which has me really motivated. 2010 is going to be a really happy year!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Local Racing in the FLA

After being home for a mere 36 hours, Todd and I jumped in the elephant (a.k.a Green Honda Element) and headed up I-95 for a weekend of local racing in Sanford, FL. I'm tired but it was fun for sure ... I showed off my new kit and got some good work and speed in the men's races and Todd's team, Santo Cycling Team, dominated by winning both days! It was a great weekend away with my Honeybunny, just what the doctor ordered since we were apart on Valentine's Day!!! What could be more romantic than flying around some small town in Central Florida on 23X700s?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Back from VAC Camp

Gosh there's a lot to report for my nearly two weeks in Northern California at the ValueAct Capital Women's Professional Cycling Team training camp.  I'm not even sure where to let's start with the team:  ten awesome and talented women, one fearless leader and one very brave man who will spend the season with eleven women through stress, drama, tragedy and triumph!  At camp, we got a taste of the team dynamics and chemistry and it's obvious we're solid as a rock.  I'm one of three newcomers to the VAC team and I've never felt so welcome.  In a matter of days, my new teammates started to feel like old friends.  It was an easy week in miserable weather filled with great training, sponsor product education and promotion and a sloppy messy crit in the rain.  We're solid, bonded and looking forward to putting people under pressure...then stepping on their necks!  

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lisa the FAAAHHHHBULOS, DahlinG!

Today I had a 3 hour training ride with climbing and, being that I'm in Northern California, I'm in the place to get-r-done, right?  Yeah, ok so on paper YES but today in Fairfax it was 45 degrees and overcast...and then it got worse.  As we climbed Mt. Tam (over and over again) we actually reached right up into the clouds.  The fog was so thick, visibility was around 10 feet and the wind was strong enough to see the clouds moving across the road in front of me!  The icing on the cake, truly, was that on the top half of the mountain we also had the pleasure of rain!   So conditions were epic for me, for sure, and I really didn't even care because I love going uphill and I never get to do it! But the super star of the day was my new director on the ValueAct Capital team, Lisa Hunt, who put up with this insane weather on a ride she really didn't have to go on.  Her company, and navigation skills, were top-notch and I really appreciate her faaaaaaahhhhhhhbulousness, DahlihG! 

Monday, January 12, 2009

VAC and Proud!

Officially, on January 1, 2009, I became a proud member of the ValueAct Capital Women's Professional Cycling Team!!! I'm new to them, an already a stellar group of some of the best women bike racers in America today. I'm looking forward to a fabulous season, taking on a big schedule of stage racing and more so keep in touch! More to come for sure...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hobe Sound Elementary YOU'RE My Favorite!

The fourth graders at Hobe Sound Elementary are some of the nicest boys and girls I have ever met...and I visit schools all over the United States! Part of my commitment to my life as a professional cyclist is to share my passion for cycling and teach boys and girls about important bicycle safety. On Friday, December 12th, I was invited by Assistant Principal Mrs. Harvey to visit her school and share the job I love: bike racing! All of the children were so polite and very prepared. They asked me many really good questions and paid close attention to my bicycle safety information. All of the fourth graders will ALWAYS REMEMBER TO WEAR A HELMET when they go on a bike ride and they now know how to properly adjust their helmets!
In addition, the fourth graders learned about how important it is in my life as a professional cyclist to be a good WRITER, not just a good RIDER! We talked about the many ways I use my writing skills and how being a good writer has helped me in my cycling career. Almost all of the boys and girls I talked to ride bikes and all of them are passionate about something like I'm passionate about racing my bike. After my visit, the fourth grader went back to their classrooms to write about something each of them is passionate about. All the writings will be handed in to Mrs. Harvey who will read them all and award a new helmet from my team, Aaron's Corporate Furnishings Women's Professional Cycling Team, to each of the top FIFTY writers!!!

Good Luck Hobe Sound Elementary Fourth Graders
Keep Pedaling Your Bike
Wear Your Helmet

Start now by commenting on my blog!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nothin' gives me GOOSEBUMPS like..... NASCAR!

I Love NASCAR, old news, right? BUT I LOVE NASCAR!!! Todd and I went to the final race of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season to watch Jimmie Johnson take the Sprint Cup for the third year in a row. You hear about "the roar of the engines" and I gotta tell ya, when that green flag drops for the first lap and the cars take off at full speed, there's nothing that gives me bigger goosebumps. Watching the three-and-a-half hour race was exillerating and thrilling and exciting and just FUN! My driver, Jeff Gordon and the #24 Dupont Chevrolet team raced well with some late race tactics that paid off and got Jeff a fourth place finish. No win but not too shabby. So now what....Daytona's not until i'll go back to napping on Sundays until then...and dream about a championship for the #24 car...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tina Turner LIVE

Todd and I took my Mom and Dad to see the Tina Turner show in Miami. Much to my surprise, it was a blast! We read on wikipedia on the way to the show that Tina is nearly 70 years old but let me tell you, she can still shake it with the best of 'em! Her voice got better and better as the night went on. She did take a 45 minute intermission in the middle of the show; we guess she needed a break to nap or literally catch her breath. That was a bit annoying but in all seriousness, she was fantastic! And my Mom LOVED it :) which made it all worth while. One by one, she is seeing all the major far we've hooked her up for:


Rod Stewart

Billy Joel

Elton John

Tina Turner

She's got quite a list going now and we're looking forward to who's next!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I Lu-lu-lu-LOVE N-n-n-n-n-Nor-Cal!!!

Seriously, and I know you probably thought you'd never hear this sun-worshipping temperature whimp say that but....well....

"Hello, my name is Kristin and I love Northern California!"

I DO! Maybe its because pretty much everyone I've met from Northern California has been AWESOME or maybe it's because I've had some GREAT TIMES in the NorCal. My most recent trip was to Santa Rosa; Todd and I went to Kat and Janelle's wedding there in mid-October and, although it WAS chilly, it was fabulous. The mountains, the vinyards, the colors, the sun, the good was beautiful all the way around. Funny thing...I actually raced in Santa Rosa earlier this year and didn't notice ANY of this beauty...I didn't even realize I had been to Santa Rosa before until Todd and I arrived. I guess I was blinded by race nerves...I mean my fierce focus. Life Lesson: stop and smell the roses every once in a while...especially the Santa Rosas!

Above left is a nice view of a vinyard right outside our hotel. Above right is a snapshot of Todd and I with Carmen D'Aluisio, a NorCal lucky-local! This is Todd and I; we're at Kat and Janelle's wedding, which was just as beautiful as the setting itself :) Thanks to Meredith for the fabulous photography...

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Let's just get straight to's where I've been:

After Cascade, my full attention turned to Road Nationals in Irving, CA... WAY back in August! It was a nice week in SoCal and I was happy with 2 good results: 7th and 7th! My place was the same in the road race and the time trial...Aaron's did quite well with Meredith also placing 4th, Kat 5th in the TT and Kat was also 4th in the RR. Good week :) Completion of Road nats = no more climbing for the season :( sad...

Upon my return from Cali, my teammate Alison came for a visit in sunny SoFLA! Yeah- I was so excited to have her stay with us and we had lots of fun! We rode tons (and she even said the riding is a lot better than she expected!) and did some of the ususal "Florida" stuff. Here we are at the Palm Beach inlet on an easy ride:AAAANNNND...I showed Alison the Sanders way to clean your bike- Leaf blower is KEY!
Alison did have to go home at the end of the week but we did our best to cram as much fun and many many miles (and a little sprint training!) into the seven days she was here. Good times :)

Later in September and
I finally purchased an iPhone...YEAH!!!
While researching what is sure to be the "IT"
fashions for fall, I came across a new haircut for
myself...and a new hairdresser. This is Jill and
she ROCKS! I love my new haircut with BANGS and Jill is definately the hairdresser for me..................

And Dad got sick :( he had a successful back surgery followed by a blood clot in his leg that traveled into his lungs which required him to stay still and in bed which caused pneumonia. It was terrible and I wanted so much for him to get seemed like at every turn, it was something else for him. All in all, after 4 weeks, 5 trips to the ER, 3 multi-day hospital stays and WAY too many pokes with needles, he DID get better! I spent as much time keeping him company as I could and doing my best to help. My Mom was trying to work though she spent tons of time at the hospital so mostly my job was going by their house to take Pearl out; dog walking is a job I can handle. Here's Pearl, the Diva of all Dogs....................................................

So one of the popular topics between me and my Dad during this time was...shocking...ME! Really, what team I would ride for in 2009...after enough discussion to make a person crazy, I signed with ValueAct Capital! I'm really excited to join Director Sportif Lisa Hunt and the girls for the 2009 season!!! I can't wait for training camp to start getting to know my new teammates and staff...the friendships and the experiences with teammates are starting to become more and more important part of my cycling career. NEWSFLASH: Rumor has it that there might be some PINK on the horizon as well...more to come on that!

And lastly, I started YOGA...yes yoga. Honeybunny thought it might be good for me...for my body and my head. I'm good at some of the positions, others, not so good. They say it's not a competition and I shouldn't worry about "how good I am"...yeah right, we'll see about that! The hardest part is the mind-clearing part. The teacher says "acknowledge any thought and let it go," and all I can think is "this is gonna be great for bike racing!" So I've got a lot of work to do on the yoga front but I really like bending my body around like a pretzel!

Thanks for reading...its been fun...more to come...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Running Start

In reflection, during the last week of racing at the Cascade Cycling Classic I was launched right off the tip of a three-meter springboard! Not really, but that's what it feels like. Previous to Cascade, I was deep in reflection about my racing career and literally trying to remember simple things like how to turn my bike. Now, with my first-ever NRC win under my belt and a stellar week of stage racing at Cascade with the Aaron's girls, I feel like I'm not just back on track but maybe I have even taken a leap forward. Todd says winning does that for you and you know what, I'm going to just believe him. That's how I got into pro cycling in the first place...blind faith in Todd and Frankie, "its ok that you haven't raced with pro women before, you can do Philly, you'll be fine" and I just believed them...and I WAS fine! This blind faith seemed to work years ago so why not now? I'm going with it.

I definitely feel like I've got my groove back and I'm so happy to have it again. Loving something so much like I love cycling, as in any relationship, can also be painful when things go south. But once the relationship has healed, the bond seems stronger than ever and that's where I'm at. I DO love racing my bike...and winning was obviously a blast too. I love working with Julie, our twenty-year-old protege, and watching her grow and develop right before our eyes. Meredith, Felicia and my break-away-partner/tempo-setting-superstar from stage 2 Alison are all incredible women. And Carmen, our leader who has never waiver her support of me, is beyond fantastic. A recent Velo News article says "Patience Grasshopper" and I guess that is the lesson of all of this. It seemed like an eternity but it was only a matter of a few weeks for me to turn my head around...a very wise friend of mine told me that set backs are not failures, but instead they are life giving you the room to step back and get a running start at something. In my case, I got a 5 minute lead on a ten mile climb and I rode as hard as I could all the way up, in the race and in my life. With the help of the girls, Honey Bunny, Frankie, Pam, Mom and Dad, I succeeded. Not just in stage 2 but in the bigger piture as well. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Remembering Why I Race

These two cuties are easily my favorite things about the 2008 Nature Valley Grand Prix. They are the daughters of our host family in Minnesota and they helped me race better...more than they will ever know! Each day when we woke up, they came running to join us for breakfast. As we packed our bags for the race, they were there to help and ask questions. They sent us off to the races with big smiles and waves. And they were there to greet us when we returned as if we had just lit the world on fire! 

As I re-focused and searched the depths of my soul for the passions lost in the Mt Hood crash, these two helped me remember why I race. Because I love it. These two don't yet know about the fears associated with big goals nor do they know about innocence lost. I do and I wish I didn' Anna and Lucia remind me to just ride my bike. That's what they do...out the garage, right down the driveway, even in the rain. What's the big deal? Just ride, ride your bike because you love it. It's so simple and so that's what I'm gonna do. I race my bike because I love it! Thanks girls :) you're the bomb!