Monday, April 4, 2016

And the 2016 Season Begins!

 First Start Line of the Year
 A Congratulatory Hug for Teammate, Kate Courtney's, first elite podium
 This is moment's before I sprayed my entire bottle of champagne on Kate


After an anticipated arrival, the 2016 race season has officially kicked off at the U.S national race in Fontana, CA.  It’s always so nice to check that first race off the list.  When I’m in the thick of the race season, racing becomes second nature.  I automatically fall into a nice rhythm of the season, but it’s hard to get that rhythm started again.  During the off season, I just take a big step back mentally and physically from the bike.  Because of this, I almost forget how to race.  When do I take my caffeine feed?  What do I do for a warm up?  One would think about twelve years of racing, I would have this completely dialed all of the time.  But, it takes this first race to dust off the cobwebs and engage race mode. 

It was so good to be reunited with my seasonal Specialized racing family.  Kate, my U-23 Specialized teammate, and Brad, our mechanic, had a blast this weekend.  We laughed our way through the weekend except for the two hours of race grimacing.  The race was pretty stacked which is exactly what I wanted.  I want to see how I compare at this point of the year to some of the best in the world.  Two-time World Champion, Catharine Pendrel, was there with the consistently powerful team Luna in tow. All the other ladies brought their A games, especially being an Olympic year and two qualification spots are up for grabs.  The first three world cups are qualification races.  These U.S races are just warm ups, but ladies are still trying to put an early mark on 2016. 

Fontana went way better than my season openers last year.  In the cross country, the lead pack of three gapped me on the first lap so I spent the entire race solo time trialing.  Most importantly, I found my rhythm about halfway through the race and remembered how to suffer.  This is important.  This is my trade.   I felt strong and ended up in fourth place.  This was a solid showing for the opener, and I left with positive vibes.  I was also very excited to have the young grasshopper and teammate, Kate, nipping at my heels during the cross country to come in fifth place and score her first elite podium.  It was so awesome to give her the first of many podium champagne showers.  Sharing that sticky feeling with a teammate and a great friend is one of the best things in the world.

Here’s to a good start and I’m already looking forward to racing next weekend at the U.S Cup in Bonelli, CA.  Now, at least, I remember what to eat and when.  I love racing. Much more to come.


Lea



 I call this new podium move, the baby bird
 Mandatory post race In N' Out stop.  When in CA...

 Post race recovery.  We made sure the Happiness Watts were topped off this weekend
 A finish line hug made the big wall at Specialized HQ

 Sabe made it to Santa Cruz.  I'm so excited to have her here!
 The sound of an ice cream truck is literally one of my favorite things.  Pre race prep. 
 Santa Cruz is pretty
 It's good to be reunited with my Lady Bike.  She sparkles. 
Beyond stoked on my new Specialized MTB casual kits.  Get some color into the mix. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Lady and her Lady Bike


Every so often an object ends up far surpassing it’s sole
utility.  It can mean so much more.  When I was a kid, I had high hopes for my
downhill ski-racing career.  A crucial
moment in ski racing is when an athlete becomes good enough to get
sponsored.  When a company says, you are

fast enough that we want you on our equipment. 
All of the Rossignol sponsored athletes wore special coats that

Rossignol gave to them.  This was much
more than a coat.  This was a significant
reward for all of the hard work I put into ski racing.  My sister and I did mid body strength
routines every single day in hopes of improving. We spent almost every daylight
hour of every day there was snow on the ground running gates and training.   When I was handed my first Rossignol ski
coat in the Smuggler’s notch parking lot, this was one of the first times I

almost broke down with tears of joy. 
This signified that hard work pays off. 
Obviously, this was much more than a coat.

Last week, I had a very similar experience.  I first laid eyes on the S-Build Vogue Amira,
or what I endearingly call the ‘lady bike’, this fall.  My friend and Specialized USA sports
marketing manager, Emily Watts, scored herself one of the twenty-five Amira
Vogues in the country.  This was a
limited edition bike at its best, and I immediately started drooling.  The design is hand drawn and inspired by the
Hunger Games.  At first glance, everyone
has a different opinion of what this paint job actaually is.  I’ve heard mountains, smoke, and a Native
American design.  But, when everyone
takes a closer look, they realize that it’s the profile of female faces.  It’s a true piece of art.  When I witnessed it in person this spring on
bike rides with Watts, it became even more stunning.  I wanted one, but, unfortunately, that’s the
thing with limited edition.  There were
none left.  So, I decided that I would
admire from afar and continue to be amazed out how beautiful a bike really
could be. 

Meanwhile, my friend and Specialized Racing mechanic, Brad,
was trying to get me a new road bike for the season.  He had me convinced that all the could come
up with was the same bike that I had last season with the same paint job which
I was okay with.  The S-Works Amira is

the best road bike I have ever owned. 
But, behind the scenes, Brad thought if he had to try this hard to get

me the same bike, why not just go all the way and get me the bike I really
wanted.  He called in all of the favors
that he has built up in his one year working at Specialized, pulled in a
Specialized army, at one point had three different bikes on order, and, of

course, called on Watts to help the operation. 
Somehow the stars aligned, Jupiter must have been in retrograde, and

Brad is a wizard because he actually got me the limited edition S-Build Vogue
Amira.  Brad got me my own Lady
Bike.  I had no idea.

Both Brad and Watts wanted to be there to surprise me with
the Lady Bike so Watts called me in for a very important meeting with the new
head of women’s marketing.  I didn’t know
if I could make the meeting at eleven because I had a five hour ride to do so
Watts ‘wrote a couple of emails’ and got the meeting pushed back to two.  It worked logistically because I wanted to
ride Mt. Hamilton, an amazing one and a half hour climb, that’s located closer
to Specialized.  The only hitch was I had
to wake up at five thirty in the morning to make it happen.  This meeting sounded really important so I
made it happen.  I was riding my bike by
eight thirty in the morning (this is a feat for me), had an amazing climb, and

rushed back to the Specialized headquarters. 
I got lunch, and Watts assured me that the meeting had been pushed back fifteen

minutes so I had time.   We were closing
in on the meeting, and I wanted to put my best foot forward and be on
time.  I asked Brad and Watts if there
was a to go container I could put my stir-fry in, and they said it was fine to
bring it.  It’s casual.  I didn’t really want to lead with stir-fry as
my first impression, which is why I asked again to leave it on Watts’
desk.  She insisted I bring it to the
meeting because, I later learned, her lady bike was leaning up against her
desk. She didn’t want me to see it.  I
very reluctantly stepped into the meeting room with Brad, Watts, and a bowl of stir-fry.

I had no idea.  I
walked past my lady bike and assumed it was Watts’.  Her bike seemed like the perfect start to
this meeting.  I didn’t see my nametag on
the bike.  Brad, Watts, and I ended up

sitting there awkwardly in silence for a bit. 
I was wondering why Brad was in the women’s marketing meeting, but I was

glad to have him there.  I was also wondering
where everyone else was.  They were just
waiting for me to realize that this was my bike.  My ‘Davison’ nametag did eventually catch my
eye and I said, “you guys, if this is a joke, this is a really cruel
joke.”  I had thought they put my nametag
on Watts’ bike.  It took me some time to
actually believe that this was my bike.  I
choked up.  There is literally a lot of
blood, sweat, and tears that go into a race season.  To have my friends recognize all of the hard
work that goes into bike racing for Specialized and to value this hard work
means the world.  Brad and the Specialized
Racing staff already goes above and beyond for our races.  But to have Brad not only go the extra mile but
also a marathon for this bike left me speechless.  This is more than just a road bike.  This is a piece of art.  This is the coolest bike I have ever
seen.  This is the best thank you I could
have ever recieved. 


 Watts and I with both the Lady Bikes

The Lady Bike in the Wild




































Thank you Brad, Emily, and the army behind the scenes that
it took to make this happen.  Gratitude,
extra stoke, and more motivation is the best way to kick off a big season.  I am grateful beyond words.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Santa Cruz Training Block



Due to a lack of winter in Vermont, my usual pilgrimage to the west coast began a little bit sooner than usual.  I came to Santa Cruz two weeks ago to get out of a Vermont winter that couldn't make up its mind and get in the sunshine.  So far, it's been awesome.  I've been able to get some amazing miles in warm temperatures.  With the longer, endurance rides on the training schedule, I have ridden some new routes around Santa Cruz and discovered the magical Big Basin road.  This road winds through the biggest redwoods I have ever encountered and it was mind blowing. After riding this road once, it then became my mission to incorporate this road into as many rides as possible.  I was able to squeeze it into a longer five hour ride and ride the entire road.  It was awesome.

The fun just keeps happening.  I went to Morgan Hill to the Specialized Headquarters to pick up my new mountain bike for the season and ride on the infamously fast lunch ride.  It was a very hard first effort of the season.  I reconnected and rode with a handful of friends in the area and headed up to my teammate, Kate Courtney's, house in Marin this past weekend with some friends.  We put in big hours and smiled the entire time.  Generally, I am training, eating a lot, and training some more. There's not much time for much else.  It's been a lot of hours, and I'm really putting in a lot of hard work.  But, the most important thing is that it's been really fun and enjoyable.  Thank goodness I'm surrounded by good friends and have good ride company.  It really makes all the difference.  I'm also taking advantage of some peace and quiet in the redwoods before the season winds up.  I have to cherish this sedentary and settled moments because they don't happen too often. 








Thursday, February 11, 2016

Vermont Community: The Rasputitsa Ride

There’s really something different about Vermonters and
Vermont community.  We are living in an age where we all constantly stare at computer screens.  In my youth, we grew up playing kick the can
with all of the neighborhood kids, and Sabe and I spent the majority of the
summer barefoot.  We rode bikes through
the backyard, past the elementary school, and across route 15 everyday to go to
our local chocolate shop, Snowflake Chocolates.
Every single day, we would ask for something that they didn’t have,
usually ribbon candy or sponge candy, for our aunt and then pick up a free
sample.  We thought they never caught
on.  We lived outside, and we are still
lucky enough to live outside.  I love
it. 

But, we are dealing with a new generation that has emerging
neck problems from looking down at screens in their hands too much.  Right now, we are dealing with people that
text while they walk and walk directly into poles.  People think it’s more important to text
their friends back instead of paying attention to the road while they are
driving (it CAN wait, please, for the sake of yourself and everyone on the
road).  For these reasons, this is why
Little Bellas is so important.  Sabe and
I are striving to give kids the outside experience that we had growing up.  Kids need to romp around in the woods on
bikes and get muddy.  They need to sing
at the top of their lungs in the woods.
We aim to create a comfortable space where they can let go, be
themselves, and get goofy.  We want them
to have a chance to look at each other with wide eyes at the top of a drop
instead of at little text bubbles on a screen. 
It’s very different to feel and see that experience than to try to type
it and express through emojiis.  The
Little Bellas aims to get kids outside, push themselves, and find out what they
are capable of.  We give them the skills
to eventually look at each other with a smirk on their face at the top of a
drop and nail it.  We want to create
tough little cookies and send those empowered girls out in the world to conquer
it. 

This is also why an event run like Rasputitsa run by
Vermonters really resonates with our organization and with Sabe and I.  Heidi and Anthony decided to create a gravel
grinder race and hold it in the worst conditions possible, during mud season in
Vermont.  And it can get pretty bad.  The riders valiantly drag themselves over
miles of hilly dirt roads that could be a mud pit or a frozen
tundra.  Riders slog through Cyberia, a
three mile stretch that’s closer to a singletrack than a road.  If riders can make it through all of this,
they can pretty much do anything.  In a
way, the Rasputitsa event is creating an experience similar to the Little
Bellas.  We are riding bikes instead of
staring at screens, and we are discovering what we are capable of.   Then,
most importantly, we stand around a campfire afterwards and swap war stories.

This is exactly what the Rasputitsa pre-ride accomplished; a
community Vermonters have a knack for creating.
There was challenge, there were great people, and there was a damn good
campfire afterwards.  There were even
homemade donuts that Heidi’s mom made from scratch.  That’s worth its weight in gold.  And, there were tough Vermont
conditions.  Sabe and I had been testing
our bike set up for this ride, and it turns out that dirt roads are a lot
different two hours up north.  So, we
showed up with road bikes with road tires.
Sabe had racing slicks with absolutely no tread, and everybody was on a
cross bike.  There was ice, and it was
hidden under dirt.  So that wasn’t
ideal.  All of the sudden, I would find
myself road biking over a skating rink holding my
breath.  I was the last one of the group
ride bringing up the rear of the pack because Sabe is way more brave riding on
glare ice.  We also showed up with the
most layers on.  I was wearing my
Specialized Defrost winter riding shoes and winter fat biking pants, and I was
completely toasty.  Sabe was wearing an
L.L Bean rain coat and some L.L Bean down. We were poked fun of at the
beginning of the ride.  Our set up was
more suited to sledding or building snowmen, but, by the end of the ride,
frozen riders wanted to know where to get my winter riding pants.  I’d say we nailed the outerwear but were a
little off on the tire choice.  The after
party was one of the best yet and really put the cherry on top of an already
amazing event.  Rasputitsa hosted a
raffle and picked four winners to go on the pre-ride with us.  They took the benefits from this raffle and
donated one thousand dollars to the Little Bellas.   This was good people doing good things and
helping other good people do good things.
And we are growing cycling and keeping the sense of community and real
human connection alive during it all.
The Rasputitsa pre-ride event was a big win all around.  I can’t imagine how fun the actual race is
going to be in mid April. 
































Sunday, January 24, 2016

Little Bellas L.L Bean Registration Event




 My game station partner in crime, Maddie

Maddie and I had a lot of fun today
Last year, on February 1st, our Vermont Little Bellas registration opened and all of our programs filled within ten minutes.  It was a similar experience to scoring concert tickets except, if you don't get concert tickets, you probably don't have a crying daughter to content with.  Maybe there's a Taylor Swift exception in there.  So, one of the Little Bellas goals in 2016 was to eliminate the stress and tears and create opportunities for every Little Bella that wanted to be a part of the program.  We simply couldn't stand turning away girls who wanted to ride mountain bikes anymore.  We created a whole new system that allowed parents to prioritize and rank our program offerings and various dates.  We were able to give families their first priority, we held a spot for their daughters, and the families had to show up at our registration event to claim their spot.  Our Little Bellas sponsor, L.L Bean, provided a great space for us to host our first registration event.  Sabe, Mary Tracy, our Vermont program lead, and Tracy, our new program support poistion, were on registration.  Maddie, who will be running all of our Vermont summer camps, and I were on games.  The Little Bellas had a choice of two games, Charades or a L.L Bean in store scavenger hunt.  Everyone, even parents, needed to complete one to get a prize, Little Bellas temporary tattoos or a L.L Bean poster of me and In the Arena alum, Torin Koos.  Most of the Charades, Maddie and I acted out.  They were L.L Bean adventure themed, and, it's official, crust cruising and camping are not easy to act out.  I had to lay on the floor of L.L Bean several times to pretend I was setting up my sleeping bag for the night.  Some of the parents and even little bellas took turns acting out charades.  With the scavenger hunt, the girls found a photo of U.S ski teamer, Kikkan Randall, in the store, and told us their favorite color down coat.  They also discovered the warmest coat that L.L Bean makes.  The last stop on the scavenger hunt was taking a goofy photo with me.  It was so much fun.  We were so psyched to be able to bring a sliver of our program into the L.L Bean store.  We are lucky to have such a great support network surrounding Little Bellas enabling us to get the next generation on mountain bikes.



Here's to more silly faces in 2016.



Lea


 Little Bellas free form drawing on the back of the scavenger hunt sheet
 Sabe making registration happen



 Scavenger hunt time!