Velo Bella-Kona Ride

Putting it into perspective

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