Velo Bella-Kona Ride

Putting it into perspective

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Montana Bella's 2nd Annual Women's Tour

Mother Nature smiled on the Montana Bella's for our 2nd Annual Women's Tour. Rain threatened. The higher elevations had snow! We were asked constantly what about the weather? I said, "We're riding. Rain or shine. Women are tough."

Are they ever. In the end, some 190 women came with their bikes - road, mountain, comfort, tandem, 'cross - and rode either 15-, 22-, or 40-miles! I'm humbled and proud that so many women - all ages, sizes, and abilities - are brought together by a bicycle.

We learned our lessons from last year when we were overwhelmed with 164 riders. I expected maybe we'd have 50. I'm glad I was wrong. This year we had pre-event packet pick-up at a local bike shop, had road guards out at the worst intersections, and staggered our start times so more could be there for the kid's ride and the post-event door prize drawing.

We also invited a local group to come and sell bike helmets for a bargin. Montana VB also bought some helmets for kids and others. We're already giving them away.

I'm so proud of our growing number of Bella Fellas. They helped pump up tires, fix flats, hand out food and beverages, direct traffic, and shout encouragement to their wives, daughters, sisters, co-workers, and fellow (did I really write that?) human beings and cyclists. Of course it didn't hurt that I kept the "boys" happy with hamburgers and beers.

The best compliment had to be when one woman came up to the registration tables after riding and said, "We think you need to host this ride more than once a year." Uh.... unfortunately right now there's a small core of women who make this event happen. We can only hope that as word spreads like our infamous wildfires - The Montana Bellas are in da House! - we'll get more volunteers - Jackie Yamanaka.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The MT gals are approaching our one year anniversary in our affiliation Velo Bella and we've been busy racing and promoting cycling.

Here's a brief recap of our inaugural, Montana Women's Tour:

Sept 24, 2006 (Billings, MT) - the Montana Velo Bella chapter, sporting the appropriate flair, sponsored a 15- and a 40-mile just for fun, lots of laughs, supported ride. 163 women registered and rode. That's an amazing turnout for cyclists in Billings, let alone just women. One woman gushed that her entire wine club was there to ride. It was certainly the largest turnout for any of the events I've helped at in Montana. We ran out of goodie bags and t-shirts. We were close to running out of registration forms and waivers.

The flair table was a big hit. It was full of body glitter, tiaras, and feather boas. When flair goes bad, however, it caused some head scratching among the Bella Fellas volunteers who were there with their work stands to do some minor repairs and lead clinics on how to fix a flat and do basic bike maintenance.

Our pink (blue for volunteers) t-shirts featured the official VB logo. We had lots of inquiry about VB and Kona.

We had kids ride. Some of the baby bellas had flair woven into the spokes of their tires, dangling from their handle bars, pink streaks in their hair, etc. This is the future of cycling!

Local businesses donated lots of fantastic door prizes - facials, massages, jewelry, Terry saddles, bottles of wine, etc.

Many participants told us they want us to put on this event again next year.

Jackie Yamanaka,
Montana Bella

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What makes a trail early season?

by Shannon Holden

What makes a trail an early season trail?

So I live up North in the Boonies, Spokane, WA. I guess the thing I love most about Spokane is the amount of Mountain bike trails we have. This past weekend my friend, now fellow team mate Sara Johnson from Portland OR, and I went riding on Mount Spokane. This just happens to be the local hang out for most of our friends in the Summer (he he we are all mountain bikers). There are tons of wicked trails and it is about 10 degrees cooler than in town. So usually we climb up what is called Kit Carson loop road to the top of the Mountain, which is about an hour of solid climbing. When we get to the top we put on our deer fly masks and begin the decent through Treachorous Trees. OK just kidding about the masks. Hit Trail 130 until you are almost down, then back up Kti Carson for 10 minutes and down on Top Secret. This probably means nothing to you all but we all love this paticular ride so much that we never mix it up in the summer.

So on Saturday Sara and I get to Treacherous trees and she looks at me and says lets cut over to Early Season. I say sure...why not. Mind you Sara is a Pro DH, incredible motorcycle rider, and all out crazy women when in comes to going down a mountain on a bike. I think I also forgot to say that my husband came along for the adventure. So off goes Kris with Sara on his tail down the cut off to Early saason leaving me in a puff of dust. As if they aren't faster than me to begin with, now I can't see. We get to Early Season, mind you this is my favorite trail in the early season, and in my 7 years of riding I have never gone down it after June. I had a moment of feeling very cocky thinking I will just stay on Sara's wheel. Early season is a little more technical that some of the other trails, but since I know it so well I thought it would be super fun to try and go really fast to see how close I would be to Sara. The first little shoot down is in about 3 inches of fresh powder, and not the white kind either. Powder biking is not one of my forte's. I loose the wheel in front of me and feel out of control and let down. At the bottom of the first section Sara and Kris are waiting for me. Instead of being freaked out I am still thinking to myself to stay on her wheel through the next section, it shouldn't be as loose. This is where I found out why it is called early season. What a mess for those of you that rode NORBA it was like the loose powder dust of Fontana with the roots and rocks of Snowmass, the switchbacks of Park City, with stairs, creek crossings, and a few drops in case you get bored. The fun of all season mixed in one. By the second time the two of them were waiting for me my confidence was shot. I was just happy that I had ridden the trail early season so that I knew what was under the powder. It was amazing that this fun techincal trail could be so difficult for me. There were definately parts that I thought twice about, when I made it through I was so pumped, which is pretty funny considering I bombed down it 6 weeks ago. It was a blast though, I love the trails here and you can't beat riding with an amazing female downhiller.

Well, I learned what makes a trail an early season trail. So those trails we all avoid because they are beat up or nasty we should be riding 'cause who knows when a race might be on an early season trail. If you are ever in my neck of the woods give me a call and we can go play on our bikes.

Happy Trails! Shannon

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


By Tina Whitfield

Ya know the REM song?

Well, this isn't a race report and I don't know if it even counts as a training report, but I got a good laugh at myself and thought y'all might enjoy the giggle too.

I was testing my headlamps out last night with my guy and a few friends getting ready for a 24 hour MTB race in a couple weeks. We were out at one of those fun swoopy trails (the ones you can take your kids on that makes them LOVE mountain biking) that can get wild at night.

I was leading the group and going pretty quick. Bugs flying into every forward facing orifice at high speeds, deer darting out of the night.

I hit a sweet hard right and to what should my wandering eye appear, but a bridge and not so sweet hard left.

I never turned.


I endo'ed in about 8 inches of sludge and slimy stagnant water.

Yum. My husband almost made me ride in the bed of the truck with my bike and slimy gear. I must have looked pitiful enough with ick streaming down my clothes and tear streaks on my face from laughing so hard, that he let me in the cab. With the windows down, of course.

I love this sport.


Monday, May 08, 2006

What is the Largest Recreational Cycling Event in the U.S.?

The New York City Five Boro Bike Tour.

And this past Sunday I was lucky enough to be a part of it.

A few short hours after stumbling around drunk with some of my best buds from undergrad at a wedding in Central Park, I found myself biking through the very same park with my best friend from highschool. By the time we got to the Bronx my hangover had almost worn off.

I taught Winsome the ways of flair and she was a pro in no time.


With 30,000 other riders in the event the flair made it really easy to keep track of each other amid the masses.

We were biking with this dude who had quite the cockpit set-up...iPod with speakers and cell phone. We were rocking out to the dance hits of the 80's for hours and hours on our cruiser bikes.

All the roads were closed and it was quite amazing. At times we'd ride down one side of a busy freeway. It was sort of this weird fantasy coming to life - no cars on the roads, only bicycles.

We even biked over the Verrazano Bridge to Staten Island - they closed the lower deck!

Many peanut butter crackers later we finished. A ferry ride completed our journey back to Manhattan. And a wave from a green lady.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


This past weekend I made a very spontaneous trip to Fruita, CO. It filled all my lusty desires for sunshine and singletrack that Northern California has been denying me lately.

The local bike shop was awesome and I opted to rent some fat tires rather than lug or ship my own. No Konas (boo) but at least I was supporting my homies up north. Sweet ride, oh yeah. And as they say in Bicycling Magazine, this may no longer be a want - I think it has become a need.

This was a solo journey so here is the requisite dorky self-portrait (not afraid to rock a little fashion in the desert):

Alas, I have finally given up on trying to squish my head into a Giro (even though this year's colors look so pimp). It seems to be a round hole, square peg sort of thing. The melon is so much happier in its new lid.

Did I say singletrack? Everything on the menu - fast, swoopy, scenic, technical, rocky...

...there was even a 30 foot "rappel"! This trail ran through a dried out river bed for several miles and had a waterfall (more like a watertrickle) in the middle of it. I'm not really sure if it counts as a rappel if you awkwardly drag your ass down while clutching a rope. I lowered the bike first thinking "nothing parties like a rental".

I had a lot of fun taking pictures of this freaky guy. He had awesome yellow toes that matched his outfit.

Pretty stuff grows in the desert:

One snowstorm (over I-70 in the Rockies, not in Fruita) and one flight later I was back in NorCal. Now it's time for some local sunshine and singletrack. Yehaawwww!

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Queen's Maiden Voyage


I think I can finish two laps now.

Thanks to my new Kona King Supreme (painted up like a Queen Kikapuu).

As anyone who knows me knows, I love my steel mtb hardtail. So much so, that although other mountain bikes have come my way, my hardtail has been my main mtb for over 5 years now.

But along came the Queen.

And one lap on the Sea Otter course was enough to convince me. I had so much fun on my ride that I wasn't ready for it to be over. I wish it would stop raining so I could ride it here on my local trails after work (hurray time change!!)

2.5" of travel in the rear was just enough to soak up the bumps and chatter. I was bombing down the center instead of tiptoeing across the best lines. And the Fox RP3 rear shock has this cool on the fly adjustment thing so I could lock it out on the paved or fireroad climbs, or open it halfway for those bumby climbs. I could stand on this bike and it felt just as solid under pedaling as my hardtail.

In addition, this bike handles very well. After a few miles I found that sweet spot of where to lean and felt almost as agressive in the turns as I do on my hardtail. I found that I could be even more aggressive on bumby turns because I could stay seated. I think I gapped my fiance on one of those turns. And I know I gapped him on the firebomb descents. Neener neener neeener.

Overall, for a course like Sea Otter, this bike rocked. I feel a little better about having to do two laps now that I have a bike that will allow me to go faster and save energy. ........And look good.

Installing the new SRAM X-O shifters

SRAM X-O rear derailleur and Easton XC wheels

Fox RP3 shock and cool bella graphics

Kula Primo (above) waits its turn. The Queen built up lighter than my steel hardtail with the following components:

Easton 70 Seatpost and Stem
Easton Monkeylite SL bar
Easton XC One Wheels
Avid BB7 Brakes

Crankbrother Eggbeater pedals
Chris King Headset

SRAM XO Shiters and derailleurs
Fox 80X Fork
Schwalbe Jimmy tires

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Meet Wendy Simms of the Pro MTB Team

Well, I am officially a Velo Bella now! I had known last fall that I would be racing in the pink & blue this season but it feels more official after the mountain bike training camp in California. Our team manager, Alex Burgess organized the camp with his mom, Judy as the chef extraordinaire and his brother, Tim as the mechanic and chauffeur. We were the Burgess Bellas for the weekend.

The rest of the team met on Wednesday night for dinner and Thursday they went to UC Davis for testing. Unfortunately I was working but from what I hear we have some physiological phenoms on the team! After a crazy roundabout journey I arrived in Sacramento Friday morning.

Tim drove me up to Kim's beautiful place in Auburn where Judy helped me stuff my face (a common theme for the camp). Alex gave me a lootbag of gear, flashed the wicked new Kula Lisa at me and told me to get ready to meet the girls on the trail in 30mins. I was busting to look through the lootbag but decided I wouldn't be very popular if I was late because it was so cold it was snowing!!

The girls were freezing by the time I met up with them. There were quick introductions but we had to get moving.

As the sole Canadian on the team I got busted for saying "eh" within minutes of my arrival. Dammit!

After my short ride uphill we got primped for the photo shoot and went to Jed & Suzie's place to meet the Velo Bella road team and get officially "glammed." If 2 pounds of makeup is glam than I am all for being slovenly. I felt like someone who could make pimpin' easy. The makeup girl said she would love to do something really "dramatic" with my eyes but I told her to step away from the makeup case.

Everyone felt a bit awkward but somehow laughing at ourselves was a good bonding experience. The photo shoot was fun, as was watching Jed roll around on the ground trying to get the hair dryer to blow our hair just right. But the rockstar feeling started to wear off around 6pm when my inner demon wanted food and the road team had to get organized for their first race the next day.

Everyone was starting to feel pretty comfortable with each other and it was obvious that we were going to be a tight team. Already I knew it was going to be a fun season.

Saturday the local shop gave us a valuable lesson in bike maintenance but I was itching to get on my new bike to go for a ride, especially since the sun was out. I did a little clinic on starts and then Kim took us for an incredible ride through the foothills. It was amazing!!

Fun twisty trails with big long climbs. Everyone looked wicked on their Kona Kula Lisas and we were like a bunch of bike geeks chattering about all of our gear: "...the Schwalbe Racing Ralphs are hooking up really well, I can't believe how light the Easton wheels are, how do my new Zeal sunglasses look on me? My SRAM shifters are so snappy, the Giro helmets are stealth, how does your SSM glamour saddle feel...?" Chitter chatter... And all the while Alex learned to mountain bike the hard way: behind a bunch of pro girls who flew over the technical sections and spun up the climbs. All with a smile on his face (or was that a grimace?). Our yummy (bacon sandwich) lunch was delivered in style at a trailhead and we kept going for 7 hours!!!!

Saturday night we were all pretty fried but had a good session about the upcoming season, individual and team goals, schedules, team values, pre-race routines, etc etc etc. It was really important to get all of that stuff sorted before the first race and help us understand what we needed from each other.

Sunday morning we had to say goodbye to Noel. The rest of us went for another fun ride in the foothills. It was time to start packing and head home. Everyone was fired up about the upcoming season and our new team.

Thanks to Alex for organizing the camp, Judy for keeping us VERY well fed, Jed & Suzie for hosting lace and Tim for keeping our bikes running smoothly. Thanks to our sponsors for providing us with some super fast and stylish gear for the season and thanks to Kim for letting us messy mountain bikers trash your home.

Oh, and thanks to the team for being so cool! I have never met a group of girls I gelled with so quickly!

See you at Sea Otter!


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

And one time, when I was at Velo Bella - Kona Pro MTB Camp...

Hi Everyone, My first blog... [cue Copeland's "Fanfare for a Common Man"]

Please feel free to ask me any questions about the Pro MTB or Cyclocross Teams, and I will do my best to answer them here for all to read and respond.

Training Camp 2006
Even as I write this note, the last of our intrepid MTB Pro team is returning home after five days of fun in the snow, rain, wind, snow and warmth of California's Sierra Nevada foothills in early March.

Ah, yes, camp; lots of calories, food on paper plates, long stories late into the night about boys long gone, medical examinations, peeing behind trees and pillow fights while wearing very little... Yeah, we had all that and so much more. Sami "The Flash" Fournier, Kristin Danielson, Jen "On the Wall" Tilley, Shannon "Marathon" Holden, Noel "Skeeter" Weddle and Kim Passafiume met last Wednesday to begin the first training camp ever for our Professional MTB team.

Kim and her husband Jessie hosted the crew, and after quick swings through the Sacramento airport picking the athletes up throughout the afternoon, we made our way to Jed and Suzie's house for dinner with our "Roadie" sisters. What a blast meeting everyone at once. THANKS SUZIE, you too Jed.

A long drive back up the hill for late night snacks and bedtime, well at least for the riders. I continued assembling bicycles and doing last minute tune-ups before turning out the lights around 3am. Thursday started the way any first full day of camp should; testing with Max, Bruce, Jennifer and Judd at UC-Davis, oh and some dude named Heiden was hanging around too. A little VO2 Max here and Lactate Threshold there, and let me just say you have some DIESELS on your MTB team.

Judd checked everyone's bike fit, made LOTS of changes and the girls rejoiced at the extra special attention... After a long day of driving, sitting, poking, sitting, prodding sitting, spinning, sitting, sweating, blood testing, sitting, spinning, sitting and driving, we crawled back up the mountains and enjoyed a wonderful feast prepared by Team Chef Judy, including roasted ham, homemade scalloped potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, salad and fruit salad & cookies for desert. Well deserved TLC!

Friday began conspicuously with rain, but not to fear as it doesn't rain on Velo Bellas; it snows on them... Team Soigneur Tim arrived with Wendy "Spooky" Simms from the Sacramento airport in time to join the girls on a nice three hour ride through the snow around Auburn, CA. A quick shower and bike cleaning later, we were off to Jed and Suzie's AGAIN for team photos and portraits with the Road Team. Lots of fun was had by all, but after riding, driving, make-up'ng and standing for six hours, it was time to get back in the van and crawl our way back into the mountains through the Lake Tahoe traffic.

We finished the evening with a quick team meeting and a documentary on Jens Voigt all the while Skeeter knibbling away on snacks in the corner even AFTER a scrumptiuos dinner including both homemade vegetarian and sausage spaghetti sauces, salad, garlic bread, dessert and even some vino specially selected from Kim's wine closet, er, cellar. A hard charging girl has to feed the machine, especially when her max heart rate is above 205 beats per minute!

Saturday was THE day; gorgeous, warm, slight wind, seven hours of technical riding and drills; Tim and the Team Van with bag lunches, drinks and chain lube at the halfway point; and the Team Manager pegged in the purple zone all morning trying to keep up on his first mountain bike ride... The red zone was passed too early in the ride to really count!

If you're going to follow these girls, put it in the big ring, point the machine downhill, start sprinting and hang on for dear life! Maybe, just maybe if you don't change lines midway through a decent and you get lucky, you might keep it upright and stay with the long pink/blue train snaking around the next bend... Otherwise, you end up in a big heap upside down at the base of a long climb with the girls spinning away towards the top, albeit still with a giant smile on your face and a bit more respect for the collective physical talent gaining more distance on you by the second...

While Tim and I washed and tuned-up bikes after the long ride, Chef Judy laid it on again with a full spread of vegetarian and shrimp/ham fried rice (light on the fried part thank you), salad, soups and dessert for dinner, after which, the Team discussed the upcoming season, our goals individually and collectively, as well as what it means to be a Velo Bella and how our efforts reflect each and every VB riding around the world. We discussed how we felt about riding for this team, how we would pull together to make this unlike any other year or women's Pro MTB team in the country and the importance of paying attention to detail and supporting one another to make it all come together.

Resources are always tight, but we have very nice equipment, supporters, sponsors, fans and each other. All is good... Sunday began with French toast, sausages, fruit salad, cereal, coffee and grounds all over the counter top with Team Mascot Sedona (gorgeous chocolate lab) amped on semi-eaten power bars chasing phantom birds around the yard. With pending airport runs and sketchy weather coming in fast from the northwest, the Team rode one last time together and did there best to provide Tim and I the muddiest bikes ever to clean and dry before packing and preparation for aircraft travel later that afternoon.

Fortunately, Sedona provided comic amusement while muddy clothes were stripped off and dumped in a heap on the front deck. All ended well with Spooky and Marathon making their flights well in advance of flight time, Sami, Kristin and Jen spending one more quiet night at Kim's and my returning home to pass out after two hours of driving rain the whole way. All in all, an extremely successful camp, and I can't wait to show you all pictures as they come in.

Don't forget to ask questions if you'd like to know something I don't cover.
Have fun!

Training Camp Photos
Bella Photo Shoot Fun

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Ekimov's butt: Smaller than you would think

Demo Trailwork Report
Date: Sunday, Feb. 5, 2006

Oh my, it was a chilly morning in the Demo parking lot on Sunday. Brownie bites, coffee, and the sight of good friends took the edge off. So did lots of pimped out Specialized Bikes.

As always, the Demo trail-gods & goddess (Nigel, Charles & Patty) had us work on a super-cool project. We started a trail re-alignment on Saw Pit, just past the new hike-a-bike detour. This is fun work, seriously. We built a new section of trail from scratch. Live it, Love it, Build it, Ride it. Oh yeah.

Dawn, Sarah and I were out there giving trail-love and making a good name for the Bellas. This was working well until Dawn and I started taking breaks every 30 minutes. Trailwork is fun, but hard. Ouch. After 20 min I am ready for food, water and a nap. I'm a desk jockey and a cyclist = useless arms. Luckily, we were not without inspiration. Team Wrong Way provided inspiration in the form of Mike Gin's perfectly smooth legs (closer inspection did, however, reveal stubble). Specialized provided inspiration in the form of brand new Epics, Stumpjumpers and Enduros. Gawd tho, I just don't know how to throw that much bike around. And the weather gods provided inspiration in the form of endless coastal California sunshine.

A fine day. Hours of riding. Hours of trailwork. Bellas, bikes, brownies and big smiles. Nothing more to ask for.

See you out there next time,

ps. We followed two little Discovery butts down Soquel-San Jose Rd on the drive home. New Discovery kit. They were going 40+ mph so there was really nowhere (and no need) to pass for ages. Trust me, no complaints here. After 10 minutes of enjoying the view (and wondering who the heck it was) we got our opportunity to pass. As we rolled by we could see one was Ekimov. Yeah, he really does have a remarkably small butt. Smaller than I would have thought. Like total dorks, we pulled off further up the road, got out of the car, and shouted "Yeah, Go Ekimov!" as he cycled by. He smiled and waved.

pps. So, last week I ran into Barry Wicks in a restaurant and the week before that I ran into Tom Ritchey at the Sky Londa store. Now, Ekimov and mystery Disco boy #2. At this rate, I think next week I'm due to bump into Basso or Boonen in my coffee shop. I have my lip gloss locked & loaded at all times, prepared for that eventuality.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Velo Bella University

This past weekend we held our sort of annual road clinic thingie. Led by reluctant Bella, Nicole Freedman, attendees learned all kinds of ways to do goofy things on bikes.

At the clinic start, Nicole rejects our facts about ourselves as boring and makes us all do re-writes:

This exercise involved riding around with your butt sticking out or something:

Jen stretches her limbo muscles:

Because you never know when you might need to jump innertubes hazardly stretched across the road:

All graduates received their flair bracelet, except for Nicole. Nicole will have to attend remedial flair school for refusing the glitter and for falling all goofy like in the parking lot.

A bunny report on the clinic is here and a few more photos of the fun are here

Just wanted to be sure and thank everyone involved for a great clinic! So thanks to Brent for organizing and helping with the instruction, MissMary for all the yummy food (especially the eggplant and cookies!), Sabine and Laura for the flair, all the Bellas who participated for being fun and supportive of each other, and mostly to Nicole who taught us all a ton with a great attitude, and anyone else I am forgetting or don't know about who helped too--THANKS!

i'll second that! thanks to everyone who helped to put on the weekend clinic -both behind the scenes and on sat and sun - what a great way to spend a weekend!! -learning soo much, meeting more bellas and having a ball - wouldn't have been the same without theglitter!! now off to check out the race calendar to pick my first race!!
mega thanks again,

I think this weekend was a great success and I cannot wait to get over this rotten cold, so I can go out and incorporate some of the newly learned techniques. I have attended 4-5 other clinics and none were as hands-on as this one. Two thumbs up!! Thanks goes out to: Miss Mary for the awesome eggplant sandwiches, Nicole for her great teaching abilities, Brent for being her ever-trusty assistant, Sabine for applying glitter to my cheeks, Laura for letting me park the RV in front of her house!
Denise :-)

Big, huge Thank You to Sabina, Laura, Nichole, Brent and Miss Mary. The entire weekend was such an awesome weekend. Nichole, I can’t wait for the next clinic so you can see that I really used the skills you taught us. Being more of a mt. biker than a road cyclist, it was hard for me at first learning to keep my chest and head so low. I learned how to ride my road bike efficiently so I could get more power and speed with less effort. All this timeI thought it was because my bike was not fitted for me and so poorly fitted but most of it was because of my posture and technique, I had none. Attending both days made such a huge improvement on my riding. I can’t wait to hit up one of the crits and try out my new skills. Thank again,

Monday, January 16, 2006

Are the Cycling Gods Trying to Tell Me Something?

By Noel Weddle

OK, cycling can be the best mental therapy there is and a weekend of riding usually leaves you refreshed and smiling. However, this is not always the case.

I had the craziest weekend of riding and am feeling completely dazed and frazzled. Saturday was a long road ride through Grand Junction, Palisade, andFruita, Colorado. It was a sunny and brisk winter day and I was spinning along on the sleepy flat roads of Palisade, nothing but vineyards, orchards, and quiet.

I heard the unmistakable sound of car tires screeching before I even saw the car coming. I look up and see a car coming towards me, out of control, in my lane about 75 yards in front of me. At that moment, it turned back into it's lane, overcorrected and proceed to launch off the road about 30yards in front of me, over a small ditch, and hits a big old orchard tree head-on on the passenger side directly across the street from me. It happened so fast and was completely surreal. I was so stunned that I was just nearly plowed over at high speed, that I was trembling and my heart was beating through my chest. I was in the process of shakily getting off my bike and unzipping to find my cellphone and was shocked and relieved to see that the driver actually opened the door and was able to get out on his own. Thank goodness he was OK, but that definitely shook me up and resulted in an extremely tense and nervous remainder of my bike ride.

OK, off again for a long road ride on a very cold Sunday. I am riding through the farm roads near Fruita which are mostly flat and almost no traffic; unfortunately, farm roads also mean farm dogs.There are two ways to handle farm dogs on your bike ride. If you have enough speed and they don't see you coming, you go for it. If they see you coming, they come at you full speed and you should almost never try to out-sprint them at that point. Well, these two dogs saw me coming well in advance, so I had to stop. They surrounded me with one dog on each side (I'm telling you, they've got a system and have done this before); I was yelling at them and keeping my eyes on the big dog on my right when the little dog on my left jumped at me so quick I didn't even see it coming and it bit my left leg! I could feel it's little teeth in my skin even though Iwas wearing wind pants, super thick wool crew socks, and neoprene booties! It really didn't do too much damage, but I can't imagine how bad it would have been if I had not had on an inch of layers!

OK, now for the funny part…the vicious dog that bit me was a wienerdog! Seriously, I can't make this stuff up. I actually got some sympathy from my husband until I told him it was a wiener dog that bit me and he just shook his head and laughed. Hey, in all fairness, the other dog really was big and scary!

I woke to 3 inches of fresh snow this morning, a very tender and cut leg, and I am completely relieved that today is a rest day so I can regroup and visit my Dr. for my tetanus shot.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Cold, Rainy Day in Belgium

By Christine "peanut" Vardaros

Just riding in thewoods on a cold, rainy day in Begium and what do i find....

part of the Belgian national team doing cyclo-cross circuits. I recognized some of the jersey names such as Scott, Fidea, Mapei-Quick STep, and Belgian Nat'l team kit.

So naturally i tag along, only to turn the corner and see none other than Rudy DeBie (Belgian National Team Coach.) He was handing the guys bottles while another guy stood there with spare wheels. Rudy recognized me and allowed me to join the workout. The trails had everything that the local races incorporate - mud bogs, fire roads, power climbs, berms, drop-offs, and short steep runups. Thanks to this ride, I now know the secret to racing well in
Belgium...the secret is to TRAIN in Belgium! hahaha.

The guys I rode with were mostly Beloften (U-23) and some juniors. I loved watching them float through the trails, not a word spoken. Periodically, they would look behind to see if the "american girl" was still in tow. I was definitely a spectacle to them - a never- seen-before occurence! I am sure they will talk about it for at least a week - until I join them again NEXT WEEK!!! I just can't wait. But first I must race in Lievin World Cup in France this sunday.

Thanks again for all your positive words of encouragement! I am surely soaking them all in!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tales From a Baby Blue Egg Beater

What a weekend, my heads’ still spinnin…
Talk about missed pictures, if I could have captured all the silly moments of the weekend, I’d have an album worth more than my life.

Here are a few captions:
Pit Passes
Dashboard Hula
Wells sandwiches
Standing on the corner of Broadway & Kearny
Sienna at the top of the stairs
Feeling giddy about a boy
The never ending Pit Passes
Hula cheers to Chris & the crash
Andy’s zig-zagging the entrance to the ‘run up’ during course set-up
Giving your house up as host housing and not being there to enjoy looking at the cute bike boys
Being at the bike races enjoying looking at the cute bike boys
The seashell bra that never got worn
Leis & pit passes
Pancakes and scrambled eggs
The women’s C field at Surf City
Safari Dave
You See I know (he wants to kiss the bellas)

Some explanations:

Okay, Pit passes, all I remember is waking up at 5 am on Saturday morning fully dressed in my Kona Party Outfit (which never made it’s debut) on Sabine’s couch covered in pit passes and leis and Sabine looking at me confused and saying I think that’s Miss Mary. Then me getting up with the worst headache and hallucinating about a never ending roll of laminated rectangles and having to cut all 200 of the buggers and Amy freaking out cuz I wouldn’t have them before reg opened. But then I realized that the UCI races don’t start for another 5 hours, so I pack ‘em up and head to the race. There is a picture of the roll, I just have to track it down. And I’m not over exaggerating-that sucker was HUGE and I just want to say thank you to my supper duper secret helper in getting those things cut Friday night instead of partying hardy with all the other kids.

Dashboard hula-think cute girl in a grass skirt and lei standing with her hands up and shaking her body-can you se me now?

Being at the bike races enjoying looking at the cute bike boys-no explanation needed here, I’m just repeating it again cuz it makes me think of all those cute bike boys.

Safeway Mike

Homemade pancakes and chicken scrambled eggs-as Jeni says “everyone needs to pack a Mary”

Color-Coordination. What can I say? I can’t not match. And I like blue.

Exes and Hexes. There were a few women out there this weekend looking absolutely fabulous and glowing in being single. T‘is the season to be a bella & single! You cute bike boys better watch out!

Ohhh cute bike boys

To Mayhem: I couldn’t be Mischief without you this weekend! And boy was I getting into it! You’ll always be my favorite kooky Mexican.

Seabright brewery-powering me through a tough Saturday with nothing in my stomach but some butterflies & beer.

I wish I could take photographs of my thoughts and memories, but for now, I’m pooped. It was a great weekend. It was a great team that worked it. Thank you to anyone and everyone who came out. There’s more to be said but I need to catch up on a week’s worth of no sleep. (and I want to go dream about the cute bike boys!)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Thanksgiving Ride

By Esther Kim

I hope everyone had a great thanksgiving!

I haven't been riding too muchlately but I thought thanksgiving was the perfect opportunity/excuse, to get my lazy butt back on the bike. I did the thanksgiving day ride up Kennedy. I figured it would also make me feel a little less guilty stuffing my face with thanksgiving dinner and pie afterwards.

My boyfriend and I tried to get an early start up the hill, and by the time we got to LG there was a huge crowd of people who already took off up Kennedy. I made my out of shape butt up that climb, huffing and puffing, using my 2 foot rule as a guide all the way up the hill. (2 foot rule: only look 2 feet in front of you when going up a steep hill, as to not overwhelm yourself).

The only other time I've climbed Kenendy, was last thanksgiving! It was amazing to see everyone out and about, being passed uphill by an 11 year old, and probably 60 year olds. One guy had a pie box tied to the back of his bicycle and it read "free pie at the top". If that doesn't motivate someone, I don't know what will.

As I made my way slowly up the hill, someone commented that they thought my streamers on my handbars were holding me back, adding extra weight. There was extra weight, but definitely not from the streamers :) I saw a few bellas as well. I saw a blond bella with some pink hair flair passing me up with a hello (sorry I dont' know who you are), but you'd be happy to know that other guys were asking about you! I had one guy come up to me while I was crawling uphill ask me who you were and alas I couldn'tsay. You made quite the impression on the boys.

Anyhow, with so many people passing me on the hill it got a little lonely and sad, but I told myself that this year I was going to make it all the way up, no walking that last stinkin steep hill at the top. As I started that last hill towards the top of kennedy, I could see people walking up it. Some decided to walk as soon as they saw the hill and others walked after riding up half of it. My two foot rule was still in effect. I started up the hill and there was a guy next to me who looked like he was ready to take on the hill as well. It was nice to have someone to share the pain with. We both road up side by side. My heart was ready to explode but I wasn't going to walk, even if I had to fall over trying. The guy ran out of steam and walked, but I somehow still managed to get upthat stinkin hill without getting off the bike. I was pooped!

I think I saw Sabine all smiles at the top walking around up there. For the descent back, my boyfriend suggested we go straight towards PowerPoles instead of taking Priest down. I, of course, ask if there's anymore climbing, to which he responds "only a little hill". His "only a little hill" turns out to be 4 of the steepest uphills, steeper than any other hill coming up Kennedy. He told me he forgot about those hills. We would climb one steep hill, only to see another one. After the third hill I told him if there was another hill I was going to cry, to which he responded, "you did bring your kleenex right?".

Although the ride ended up being a longer loop than expected, it was still fun and a great way to start off thanksgiving. I'm thankful for being able to ride my bike and being part of a wonderful biking community, and being a bella!What other club would get comments like, "oh la la", and "go bella bellabella" from complete strangers :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"Poaching in San Carlos"

by Laura

Sometimes you learn the hard way and sometimes its the easy way. I always go hard. One of my favorite rides is climbing up Robinson Canyon and descending down Rancho San Carlos where I can dream of an early Clint Eastwood riding up on his good/bad and ugly horse and asking me to join him on his ranch. I was a Clint Eastwood fan at the age of 6. Back then my english was poor so spaghetti westerns were TV institute of choice.

Well the other day my friend Leenda and I were on our favorite ride. Going through the gates was our reward for the challenging climb up Robinson. The gates of Rancho San Carlos Estates are closed to the public, you practically need security clearance but Leenda and I always made it through. It was tradition to unzip our jerseys and just let our skin soak the rays of the beautiful landscape. Residents would always wave, smiling and passing us cheerfully. It reminds us of riding in Europe, where the roads and air are clear. Maybe it was our smiles or maybe it was our tanlines, but no one questioned our belonging there for the last few years.

Until the other day. As we entered the gates a woman passed through in her burgandy gold Lexus. Staring at us, making us feel...out of place. We made it through the entrance gates and along the windy oak lined streets when a secruity guy drives towards us. Like usual we have our story... we are visiting friends. This time it doesn't work he asks our names. I throw out Leenda in a hurry thinking Leenda knows someone who lives there. We have prepared many rides for this moment but I forget who to say we are visiting. So I figure Leenda is the name he wants. Leenda looks at me with the "what game are we playing now look" He asks Leenda her name and she says Leenda too. We are so busted. We are such silly girls. Never give your real name. I guess I caught Leenda off guard. At least she didn't give him my name. We plead our case I mean look at us we are harmless what are we going to steal?... we have barely anything on.

Then a moment of clarity. We are poaching. We can steal those million dollar hubbies nestled in their million dollar mansions. The woman in the Lexus knew that. Poaching is not allowed in San Carlos. We were escorted out by a security guard apologizing the whole way, saying how he had to do it because he had a call from the burgundy Lexus. I think they even posted our pictures. The entrance gate sign reads "Wanted Leenda and Leenda for poaching".

Monday, November 14, 2005

Riding Trails on a Cross Bike

So I went for a ride with some bellas yesterday after the Fort Ord CX Race and I tend to stay in the back and take my time. Not because I'm unsocial but because I like to day dream when I'm on the bike and need someone in front of me to subconsciously follow.

Mostly I imagine these wild races where I'm flying down a descent, wistfully jumping off the bike in perfect 4 step form, gracefully running over barriers, and completing my 5th step re-mount on my bike like a pro.

Then I hit a 2 inch bump and practically fall over. And I think to myself, damn I'm glad I'm in the back.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Boy BEATer?

"As a Bella Fella, I am more than a little concerned by this talk of Bella Boy Beaters… Is this some strange form of initiation Sabine hasn’t told me about yet? Are these devices used to subjugate us “XY” types? Are they likely to lead me into trouble I know not how to deal with, and yet truly desire?

The VBs are a mysterious and joyful lot…"
- Alex

"I think that's yes, yes, and yes."

"Too many questions. This Fella needs a spank!"

Boy Beater

By Robyn Jenson

The Velo Bella boy beater has been proven to take 20 years off your age!!!!! another amazing benefit to being a Bella. Several years ago it was shown that being a Bella gives you bigger boobs now the Boy Beater makes you look younger.

I had finished my run with my Bella Boy Beater on, looking sweaty and messy and went to Whole Foods to grocery shop and to get one of my clients a birthday beer. I get to the check out stand and the cute boy, in his late 20's, asks for my ID. I said, Excuse me??? He stated again that he needed to see my ID. I told him he made my day!!! He then told me that he needs to see the ID of any person under 30 so he won't lose his job!!!

I was jumping and down with glee and gladly gave him my ID, he must have thought I was nuts til he found out that I am really 50. But now I look 30 whenever I wear myBella Boy Beater, I didn't have to do Botox or anything!!!I wear my Bella Boy Beater every day now!!!!