Monday, April 23, 2012

Little Bellas Sea Otter Camp

  Showing our new campers how to clean their drive train Photo: Nic Coury
We just wrapped up our third annual Little Bellas Sea Otter Classic camp.  Sabra, Little Bellas director and founder, spearheaded the effort and was helped by our two fantastic Vermont mentors, Ali Zimmer and Mary Tracy.  Over the weekend, we were lucky to be joined by a diverse and talented group of local female riders that easily picked up the rhythm of our program and helped girls learn how to shred the Sea Otter single track.  Andrea Turner, Mike’s Bike sales and mountain bike extrodanaire, was pivotal to our success over the weekend.  She was our tried and true volunteer helping out every day and making it look easy in the process.  Rachael Lambert, director of Specialized’s global women’s marketing, and Lindsey Voreis, director of AllRide, both rode with the Little Bellas over the weekend and instantly made an impact.  We greatly appreciate all of these ladies because their generosity, time, energy, and knowledge make our program successful.

 The Little Bellas take a knee in our icebreaker game 'waah' photo: Nic Coury
 Over the course of our three-day camp, thirty-four Little Bellas played dab, rode trails, and absorbed the basics of mountain biking.  We hosted our best lemonade social yet with eleven female professional cyclists fielding Little Bellas’ questions and playing games with them.  The Little Bellas got to interact with some of the best cyclists in the world (national champions, Olympians, and world cup winners from Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland, South Africa, and the United States) and find out what their favorite ice cream is.  The response was overwhelming vanilla so next year we plan to change the lemonade social to the ice cream social with the pros.  The girls found out how these pros got started and how many scars they have.  The Little Bellas cheered on these ladies in the short track and got all of their autographs.

 Photo: Nic Coury
The Sea Otter Little Bellas camp wouldn’t be complete without our venue scavenger hunt.  Here, the Little Bellas picked up as many stickers and signatures as possible, found how what nutrients are in a Clif Bar, discovered what body parts G-Form pads protect, and were branded (paint only) with the red Specialized S. 
There were also some solid runs on the bouncy house.  The girls also learned the names of all of the different bike parts during a Specialized tech talk with Zane Freebairn. Their knowledge was put to the test later and highly rewarded with dot candy.

All in all, the entire weekend was a blast and filled with lots of excitement.  We saw a huge amount of improvement over the course of three days.  Campers went from walking down hills to descending effortlessly.  We saw girls turn from timid campers to pump track experts.  One of the Little Bellas, Chantel, raced the dual slalom while another raced the fifteen-mile cross country course. Even our mentor, Ali, competed in her first national level downhill race and won the Sea Otter expert field. It was a wildly successful weekend. We hope you join in on the fun for next year’s Sea Otter camp.  If you want in earlier than that, you can join us at the Beti Bike Bash in Colorado, Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival in Cable, Wisconsin, or at a number of our Vermont summer camps.
I’d like to thank our sponsors support because they make our camps happen. Specialized/First Gear, Primal Wear Cycling Apparel, G-Form, Clif Bar, Sea Otter Classic, Becker Law, In the Arena, and East Coast Printers

Ride on!

 Lemonade Social with the Pros, Photo: Nic Coury
Signing a jersey after a second place ride in the short track, Photo: Nic Coury

Monday, April 9, 2012

Strava Commercial and School Visits

The last week has been particularly exciting.  In the beginning of February, I spent a day filming a commercial for the company Strava.  It was an amazing experience in and of itself.  The whole set-up and shoot was extremely professional with a crew of about thirty people working to film me mountain biking in Santa Rosa, CA.  There was a sprinter van with seating and a screen with the live feed of footage.  I literally felt like I was a movie star for the day minus the make-up.  Actually, it was the opposite of the typical glamour cover-up.  I was specifically ordered to go ride through puddles and get really muddy.  It was really a dream come true!  We filmed from sunrise to sunset.  I rode over technical rock gardens, climbed up grassy fields, ripped through corners, and high-fived trees.  It was actually not at that unlike a typical mountain biking training day except it was broken up into twenty second segments.  The director even wanted me to ride faster directly at his very, very expensive camera (I was a little weary of this).  The first try at this particular shot, they didn't get the camera speed quite right and I ended up skidding to a stop with my face inches from the camera, laughing.  All in all, I'm extremely grateful that Strava picked me to represent their company because this day filming was a once in a lifetime experience.  The TV spot will be playing every single day during the Tour de France and it also debuted last weekend during the Tour of Flanders.  It's all incredibly exciting.  Please check out the commercial and the behind the scenes footage here

Here is one of the vantage points from the Strava shoot
Here's part of the crew prepping for a shot

This past Thursday and Friday, I spent both days in Monterey, CA visiting elementary schools talking about being a professional mountain biker, trying to recruit more girls for our Little Bellas Sea Otter Camp, and getting more kids to come out to the Sea Otter Classic.  It was an absolutely amazing experience.  My efforts were combined with trickster, Chris Duncan, who really got the kids excited by doing tricks and even jumping over the school principal.  At every school, we had at least four hundred eager and excited kids.  I had a stack of two hundred 'hero cards' that were gone in about two minutes, and I met the most excited five year old I've ever seen about the Little Bellas.  She jumped up and down and exclaimed about riding her bike, meeting me, and the Little Bellas for ten minutes straight.  It was awesome.  I was a bit disappointed to tell her that we only take seven year olds, but she had enough enthusiasm (or maybe enough mountain dew in her system) to last two years at least.  My absolutely favorite part of the all of the visits was when four hundred kids in unison screamed, "good luck Lea in Belgium".  With that send off, I have everything I need for a successful trip to the second world cup in Houffalize, Belgium.  It's the second of four Olympic qualifiers and I'm really excited.  Now, I just have to catch my plane! 
Talking to the kids in my 'super hero' outfit

Chris Duncan pulling his rad tricks for the kids
I definitely underestimated the amount of cards I needed