Monday, December 2, 2013
Posted by Lea Davison at 12:00 AM
Sunday, November 3, 2013
All of her blogs are must reads, but here are two that I enjoyed immensely.
Amy D Brilliance
More Amy D pure briliance
Amy's service happened yesterday. It was an incredibly sad day. My sister, Sabe, and I got a chance to speak about Amy after the service. We more or less free formed it but the following gives an idea of what we said.
Posted by Lea Davison at 6:45 PM
Sunday, October 20, 2013
There's a pile of stickers on my table that I can't even bear to look at. I keep covering them up. I don't even want to be near them. I don't want to be reminded of what happened two weeks ago. There are some moments that I can face reality. It's only in these moments that I can slightly comprehend what has happened. I literally hurt as if someone has ripped something out from inside of me and left a gaping hole. The rest of the time I'm functioning in denial's sweet bliss, slightly perplexed that the name of my good friend, Amy, is on a sticker. Why does this sticker say, Amy, we will always love and remember you? This doesn't make any sense when she's supposed to send me a hilarious text any moment now. It doesn't make any sense why she wasn't in the World Cup cyclocross results today when I looked for her name. It feels like she could come riding around the bend in the road, with a huge smile beaming on her face, dragging me out for a cold, rainy ride. None of this makes any sense.
I was in Malaysia racing the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Stage Race when I got the news. The four days of racing before were fantastic. I had returned to Langkawi as the defending champion, and I knew I had a big challenge ahead of me to defend the title. Maja Wloszczowska, 2010 World Champion, Eva Lecher, the current ranked number one rider in the world, and a handful of other world cup top tenners were present to make it an exciting race. On the first long stage, I felt awesome and escaped the group with Maja. We worked together to gain a seven minute advantage on the other ladies. Then, two kilometers from the finish, we missed a turn and ended up doing an extra hour of sight seeing. The race official and other competitors decided to give us the same time as the winners. The next day, I attacked very early in this long and grueling stage and went solo. I spent the entire day off the front, thought I had the stage, and then five kilometers from the finish, Maja caught me. I couldn't believe it. We rode together to the finish line, and I sprinted for the win. I wore the pink leaders jersey into the next stage by a mere five seconds. This was the last long stage so it was the decisive one. It was two laps of a long hike a bike climb, a steep, slick decent, and then rolling to the finish. On the first lap, Maja, Eva, and I were together on the hiking section. Then, both of those girls dropped me on the decent and disappeared. I kept fighting, but I thought I blew it. Then, I caught them halfway through the lap, and we approached the hiking climb together. I knew I would have to get some space between us so they wouldn't drop me again on the decent so I attacked. I attacked and ended up winning the stage by running with my bike uphill. I won a bike race by running. It's hilarious. My teammate, Kohei Yamamoto, also won the stage and rode into the leader's jersey. It all happened on the nine month anniversary in which our Specialized teammate, the late Burry Stander, was taken from us in a bike/car accident. To have us both win and wear the leader's jersey on this particular day was something very special, especially since Burry's parents were present. I was riding high. It felt like the best present we could give him. He was smiling down on us.
Then, from one high to one very low, I awoke the following morning to the news that Amy had been killed while motor pacing in Belgium, where she resided for the winter chasing her european cyclocross dreams. I started shaking uncontrollably. My first thought was, I don't want to do this anymore. Burry's accident hit home, but this accident hit my core. I grew up with Amy in Vermont. I dated her brother Dan in high school, and he got me hooked on mountain biking. My sister and I grew up ski racing with Amy at Smuggler's Notch Ski Club. She ran with Sabe on the high school cross country team. Then, Dan got her started riding, actually on the same bike that I started on. This article tells that story and also does a great job of capturing Amy. Once she started bike racing, we were on the same trajectory and grew even closer.
Recently when she was talking to my girlfriend, Jojo, about her upcoming cyclocross race at Gloucester:
jojo: Are you going to Gloucester to race?
AD: No, I'm going to sell maple syrup at the finish line.
She was hilarious. She had a rare wit that always left me laughing. It wasn't just a light chuckle, but a belly laugh. It was real. It was genuine, just like Amy. A million words won't even begin to do her justice, to peel back her many layers. She was truly happy and that is really saying something because she wasn't dealt the best hand. Her mother died suddenly when Amy was a teenager and then she had a good ski racing friend pass away when she was at Burke Mountain Academy. Amy was amazingly resilient in these trying times. She would take her time to brood and mourn and then throw her energy into something else. She would create some amazing poetry or train hard. She was the only one to keep it together to read a poem she composed at her mom's funeral. She had grown into a beaming, smiling, amazing human being. She had really settled into herself and figured things out.
The only thing I can do is what Amy would do. Face tragedy, hang tough, pour myself into something, and create something amazing. And, one thing is for certain, I'm going to train hard, exactly like she always did, and win. That's what she would want.
But, I still can't bring myself to face those stickers yet. I'm not even close to putting them on my bike. I don't want to ride with an Amy sticker on my bike. I just want to ride with Amy.
Posted by Lea Davison at 7:11 PM
Sunday, September 22, 2013
We had a weekend off in between South Africa and the World Cup finals in Norway so I opted to stay in the same time zone and hang out in Europe for ten days. I met my parents in Geneva, and we immediately drove two hours to ride the Alp d'Huez. This is a classic climb that is always featured in the Tour de France, and it's also one that has been on my climb to-do list. I was so excited we had the opportunity to tick it off. It's an absolutely gorgeous climb through Tour de France history painted on the road. The one noticeable thing missing were the names of female riders on the road. There is no female Tour de France or even any road bike race that comes close to its prestige. In this day and age, this is completely ridiculous and it nagged at me the entire climb. Luckily, female cyclists have banded together to push for a women's Tour. There's almost 100,000 people in support of this movement. Please help us push for equality in the sport by signing here. Hopefully, the next time I get the opportunity to climb any french classics, I will see Evelyn Steven's name written all over the road.
From the Alp d' Huez, we headed to the coast of France to swim in the surprisingly blue Mediterranean and ride around the Maritime Alps. Cliff jumping into the Mediterranean has also been on my wish list for a long time, and it was just as fun as I pictured it. The road riding around the maritime alps was absolutely amazing and the biggest surprise of the trip. I knew the French and Swiss Alps were going to be gorgeous, but the Maritime Alps are a vast network of narrow roads etched into mountains and winding through small villages. One day, I met my parents in the small village of Aiglun to hike down to famous swimming holes I was salivating over on the internet. After about an hour of trying to find the trail, we found it and it was a death defying hike. Literally, one slip on this exposed, rocky trail, and it was a long fall. The swimming holes were incredible, but I'm not sure I would risk it again.
After a couple days soaking up the sunshine on the coast, we drove north to the Interlaken which is nestled in the Swiss Alps. This place is magical. I love mountains and, here, we were constantly treated views of three of the most presitigious peaks in the world, the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau. We stayed in Gimmelwald which is only accessible by tram, hiking, or biking. Even better, there are countless double track dirt roads where you can ride through these mountains, and they are really well marked. I rode for four hours here with my jaw dropped the entire time. It's one of my most favorite rides to date. I could just stay there and ride forever. Wow.
I left Switzerland completely rejuvenated, relaxed, and excited to go check out Norway, the land of nordic skiing, for the first time. The trip with my parents must have done the trick because I have never felt so good in a race. My legs felt amazing, and it showed. The gun went off in Norway, and I had the best start I've ever had. I was second wheel going into the first single track section, and, for one of the first times, I was on the positive end of the split. Mistakes were happening behind me, and other girls were having to get off and run through sections. I, however, just rode right through it with current world champion, Julie Bresset, and Eva Lechner. It was awesome. Irina Kalentieva, former two time world champion, latched onto our group, and the four of us raced together for three laps. On the fourth lap, I made a mistake and had to run through the same rocky climb that bottled up the entire women's field at the start, and the lead group got twenty seconds on me. I was momentarily devastated because my legs felt so good, but then I rallied and kept my head in the game. I spent the rest of the race about the same distance off the lead group. With one lap to go, Julie Bresset flatted and I madly sprinted by her in the tech zone trying to secure third place. She didn't waste much time in that tech zone, and I probably held her at a gap of ten seconds until half way up the climb. Then, she flew past me. I held on for a strong fourth place and only fifty seconds off a world cup win. The most exciting thing is that I was up there and feeling absolutely fantastic. I finally did what I knew I had in me, and I was in the mix in the world cup. This is a perfect way to cap off a already great season. It's so incredibly motivating to know that I can ride with the best. I'm so excited that I already can't wait to race in 2014.
Luckily, I had a chance to capture this world cup exhiliration by racing my first and only cyclocross race of the season at CrossVegas at Interbike in Las Vegas this past Wednesday. I notched a second place to the ever strong Katerina Nash. She was simply just stronger on the day, and it's not that bad getting beat by a world cup winner. I'm home for a couple of days and I continue to ride the wave of excitement and my peak into the Langkawi Stage Race in Malaysia once again. I'm looking forward to it!
Thanks for reading and the support through this wild ride!
Posted by Lea Davison at 5:06 PM
Sunday, July 28, 2013
I am over the moon to report that I grabbed the National Champion title last weekend. The National Championships were back on the east coast in Pennsylvania after being held at altitude in Sun Valley, Idaho for the past two years. I was so excited to be racing familiar terrain on the right coast and at sea level. I've been really aiming at this title for the past two years, and there have been some close races between Georgia Gould and I. Two years ago, I was twenty seconds away from the win, and, last year, Georgia rode an impressively strong race to convincingly defend her title. The race was looking to be a heated battle once again, and I was really hoping to have a great ride.
Jojo and I drove from Vermont to Pennsylvania on the Wednesday before the race and I previewed the course on Thursday and Friday. I was so excited with what I found, classic east coast technical single track. The entire course was one big rock garden, and I loved every section of it. There was one long gradual climb, a couple of punchy steep climbs, and a very challenging descent. The entire course required focus and bike handling. Specialized rolled out their new 2014 World Cup Epic and sent them to the team just in time for the race. The timing couldn't have been more perfect because the national championship course was built for this bike. I didn't think it could get any better than the 2013 Epic, but the engineers at Specialized have done it once again. With wider chain stays and a redesigned frame, the new Epic is significantly stiffer and climbs like my Fate. The chainstays are shorter and there are thru axles on the front and rear wheels so it descends like magic. It's responsive and stiff. This is the best bike I have ever ridden and it showed on race day.
Race day was hot and humid, but I was feeling positive about the conditions because I'd been training in the humidity for a month leading up to the race. I had the control casing Fast Tracks on the front and rear of my bike and I was running a 1x11 setup with a 32 gear. Chloe led off the gun, and, as the race neared the top of the climb on the first lap, I took over the lead. It was extremely advantageous to be leading through the single track so I could pick my own lines and go my own speed. I was leading Georgia and a big group down the main descent, and all of the sudden I didn't hear anyone on my wheel. Unfortunately, Georgia crashed and suffered a front flat tire which took her out of the race. I finished the first lap with about a thirty second gap on the chase group, and I put in a big effort on the second lap to try to extend that lead. I focused on being smooth over the rocks and accelerating, and I extended my lead the remaining four laps. I was very cautious especially the last lap because I didn't want anything to get in the way of nabbing the national champ jersey. I crossed the line overjoyed! It was so great to have my dad and jojo cheering me on during the entire race, and the Specialized staff's support was phenomenal as usual. It takes a village to garner a stars and stripes jersey and this race was no exception. From the team mechanics dialing in the new bike, Jojo handing me a cold bottle every lap, and my dad giving me time splits, everyone made this happen.
I am so proud and excited to be wearing a new stars and stripes kit at the next race, the Catamount Classic. This race happens to be the finals of the national series and also happens to be in my backyard. I get to debut the jersey in front of the Little Bellas and my home town. Life is good.
Thanks for the support!
Posted by Lea Davison at 6:33 PM
Sunday, June 30, 2013
This weekend was quite the exciting one. It kicked off with a trip to one of my favorite venues in Windham, NY which was host to World Cup rounds the past couple of years. This year it was a stop on our national ProXCT tour, and next year Windham scored the World Cup again. Yes! We raced on the same course which is absolutely east coast. It's rooty and very rocky. The course is built more in the style of cross country courses in the past with one long climb and descent except that Windham is punctuated with technical single track sections. It's broken up so it doesn't seem like one big long slog up the ski area, and this course has fantastic flow. It's definitely challenging.
I lined up with a competitive field, and I was highly anticipating testing the legs after a small training block and build up to the important racing block coming up. I nabbed the hole shot and put in some big efforts on the first couple of laps to establish a gap. Each lap was getting more and more fun because I was dialing in the lines on the downhill. The legs felt great and my whole family was there to cheer me on. My aunt, cousin, and ninety-two year old grandmother even made it to show the support. It's great to have a race in your backyard, and it's even better to win races! It's never easy to win and it always feels good to cross that line. I actually got to do a real two handed victory salute this time as well.
Enjoy riding your bike. This is the most important thing.
Have fun out there!
Posted by Lea Davison at 7:42 PM
Sunday, June 9, 2013
I would say I had a solid race, but it definitely wasn't my best world cup. I was feeling good but not phenomenal, and the Albstadt course had absolutely no mercy. There were steep climbs and even steeper descents with nowhere to hid and very little time for recovery. I got a boost in the middle of the race when Marianne Vos, cycling's most decorated racer (two time Olympic Gold Medalist, multiple world champion on the road and cyclocross, just overall amazing rider who is now trying out mountain bike racing), caught up to me. We rode together for most of the third lap where I was just observing and soaking it up like a sponge. I passed Vos to lead down two of the descents and then she fired back when she dropped me up the next climb. I would have love to hang on to that wheel for the remaining two laps, but my legs didn't quite have it on the day. Vos went on to notch a respectable eleventh place, and I finished a solid 17th. Thank goodness it only started to rain on the last lap of the women's race because it made the already technical course pretty sketchy. The light precipitation made the stone armored trails like ice. I was grateful to make it out unscathed and I had an inkling that world cup effort wake up would translate into peppy legs the following weekend.
I was right! I was SO excited for the next world cup in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic on what is possibly my favorite course. Last year, the Czech world cup served as the third Olympic qualification race, and I crashed about 200 meters into the race on the pavement. I was very lucky to get up from that crash with all limbs intact and just a couple of burn holes in the jersey and related scars. Thank goodness! Very lucky. So, this year, I was a bit nervous about the start and I wanted to shake those demons. The start went way better than expected. I made it off the pavement section, and my legs felt great so I was able to move up on the start loop's steep climbs to ride in the top ten. I could actually see the front of the race! Do you know how exciting this is? To be within contact of a world cup win is completely enthralling. This is, by far, my best world cup start of my career, and I am so thrilled about this because it's something I've been working on improving. It makes racing for the world cup podium so much easier since I'm not playing a game of catch up the entire race. I kept a steady pace and battled with two other riders for 5th, 6th, and 7th position. On lap three, I was feeling phenomenal and briefly dropped my fellow racers in what was looking to solidify fifth position. But, after that effort, I faded a bit in the last two remaining laps to end up eight. My friend, Katerina Nash, used her Czech power and what seemed like the entire country cheering for her (seriously, the Czech fans are incredible. The amount of noise was comparable to the Olympics) to pass me on the last lap. I'm still so happy because this is my best early season world cup yet. Things are starting to click and I'm pumped about the rest of the season.
Michal Cervany took some phenomenal photos from the weekend.
Posted by Lea Davison at 6:07 AM