Monday, December 31, 2012

Year of the Olympics

Reflecting on 2012, there was obviously one major highlight.  I got a new surfboard that rips...oh, AND I went to the Olympics.  The whole experience went by so lightning fast that sometimes it's hard to believe it actually happened.  Then, I look in my closet and see the official Olympic wardrobe and realize that I am an Olympian.  2012 was the year that my dream came true.  I went to the Olympics!


The Olympics were such a full experience that it's hard to capture in one blog post, but I can give you some tidbits.  The USA mountain bike team flew in on the Monday before our event, Saturday, August 11th arriving from a great training camp in Germany.  We were immediately greeted by USOC staff whom immediately took us through the logistics of becoming an Olympian.  We went through a special Olympic passport control, got our Olympic village badges (which are literally the key to everything so this had to be guarded with my life), and had special tags on our luggage with the Olympic logo. We hopped on the bus to the Olympic village.  Once in the village, we were standing outside the team USA building and the crowd was so incredibly loud in the track and field stadium that I thought the cheering was a fighter jet.  This is absolutely no exaggeration.  I was blown away by the roar of the crowd that came from a stadium about a mile away.  

 One of the many steps to get into the Olympic Village

Georgia and I settled into the apartment and quickly tore through three bags of Olympic schwag waiting on our beds.  We actually didn't even skim the surface of our new wardrobe because we had to go to dinner at the dining hall.  The dining hall was one of the most unique, overwhelming, and amazing experiences I've ever had.  It was a massive space filled with all of the best athletes in the world and every type of cuisine possible.  It took a couple of attempts to dial it in.  The first go around I surfaced with some rice, a dumpling, curry, beef stew, and an orange.  There are way too many choices.  There's a McDonalds in the Olympic dining hall and the shocking fact was that it ALWAYS had a line.  

 Olympic Schwag
How many hours of work went into this sweatshirt? 

We actually only spent one night in the Olympic Village before heading out the mountain bike course.  Hadleigh Farm was about an hour away so Georgia, Todd, team Specialized, and myself decided to stay in a hotel a short bike ride away from the venue.  I was obviously disappointed to not be staying in the village the entire time, but I was completely relieved I made this decision.  After less than twelve hours in the village, I was worn out from all of the excitement and energy.  I literally had a view of the Olympic rings from my room.  It's hard to go to sleep when I could literally see the Olympic rings at all hours.  I was just constantly so amped.  So, the hotel was much more relaxing and a good distance away from the unfathomable amount of hype.  This way, I was staying with jojo so she could keep me calm, laughing, and enjoying the entire experience.  She's a rock and so is my family.  Anyone who can keep their cool in that supporting role has nerves of steel and I owe a lot to them.

I rode the course and kept my preparation consistent.  Georgia and I rode a bit together and I rode all of the 'A' lines.  We had a blast together and joked around.  Just as I expected, she proved to be the perfect teammate.  On the Wednesday before the race, jojo and I rode the train about an hour and a half back to the village because I had a ticket to track and field.  There's actually a sign up sheet where athletes can put their names in for extra tickets.  It turns out I was ten minutes late to pick up my track and field ticket and I was absolutely devastated.  But, the staff came through with a men's water polo ticket.  I went for about half of the game, and it was so cool to be able to spectate an Olympic event.  Actually just walking through the Olympic park was an experience.  I've never seen so many people in my entire life.  I took a quick ice bath and headed back to the venue. 

My actual Olympic race was a bit of a blur.  The athletes are herded from place to place, village to venue, warm up area to start area, finish line to team box so it was actually hard to get a sense of immense amount of spectators in the infield.  I've never seen so many people at a mountain bike race.  The one time I got a sense of this was during the race call up.  They called the british rider, Anne Last, to the line and the place exploded just like the fighter jet cheering in the village.  


 Standing under the Olympic ring in the Village
 The Men's Water polo game
Another view of the Men's Water Polo game

To be continued...

Lea

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Little Bella writes a letter

In the past two weeks, there has been a lot going on with the Little Bellas. My sister and Little Bellas director, Sabe, and I received probably the best email we've ever gotten from a Little Bellas parent.  This Little Bella was in our program last summer, and, on the particular week, Sabe challenged the girls to pay attention to the difference in men and women's representation in the media.  This Little Bella took on the challenge and noticed there were no girls shown mountain biking in the current Cannondale kid's catalog.  She took it upon herself to write Cannondale a letter to express her disappointment and to challenge them to show photos of girls mountain biking.  She even included an example in the letter, a photo of her riding a mountain bike. This is exactly why we started the Little Bellas.  We are completely inspired by this Little Bellas initiative and reassured that our program is making an impact.  This letter will fuel me for a long time.  It's maybe even worth a lifetime of this work.  The letter is below.

 

We are very excited to announce our partnership with La Bellas Preme.  This is a women's cycling event that takes place in Malibu, CA on June 1st.  It's not your average charity ride.  This is an upscale version that's guaranteed to be a fantastic experience for the first time rider to the woman who rides six days a week.  Little Bellas is truly honored to be one of the three charities that riders have the opportunity to fundraise for.  We are in great company along side with  "I Am That Girl" and "Girls on the Run Los Angeles".  We have been having great discussions and are thrilled to continue collaborating with this event and the other non profits.  The Little Bellas truly believe that good things happen when you bring a lot of people to the table.  

Two mentors, Jojo and Mary, geting interviewed for the Little Bellas movie

In the cold days of November, a large continent from our Sunday Sessions program braved the cold to make a film about the Little Bellas.  These Little Bellas were troopers.  I was literally wearing four coats, and they stayed out for over an hour riding. Some even took off their jackets to showcase their Little Bellas jerseys for the interviews.   I learned two things.  These Little Bellas are way tougher than I am, and our program is working.  It was very interesting to hear the parents, mentors, and Little Bellas interviews.  Usually we have our head's down plugging away running the program, and it's not that often that we get to look up and hear everyone's thoughts. An enthusiastic group of students filmed us for the day at Catamount Outdoor Family Center and put together two great movies that capture the essence of our program. We are giving them a big A+ for their Adventure Film Class, and we are sure that their professors will agree.  A big thank you goes out to the Saint Mike's ladies for all of the time, thought, and effort they put into this work. The links to the videos are right here!

Here is the full length version:

Last but not least, Jojo and I did a school visit this past week at the All Saints Preschool in Kapaa, HI.  This group was a bit younger that the Little Bellas age range we are used to working with, but it was a blast nonetheless.  These three to five year olds didn't quite have a grasp on the Olympics, but we introduced them to the concept.  Then, we focused on basics like bike safety and wearing a helmet.  We showed them the difference between a road and mountain bike, and they were very interested in my bright orange Specialized bike shoes (made special for the Olympics).  It was fascinating to them how I clip into my pedals.  I did a bunny hop, Jojo did a lot of sweet skids, and we raced.  It was a blast.  All of the kids walked away with a signed hero card which they seemed very excited about. I've been wanting to do school visits on Kauai, and it's great for it to finally come together. 

 Jojo and I talk about a mountain bike with the kids
 The Kids






Monday, December 3, 2012

Kauai

 Look at this swell that rolled into Kauai on Friday!  Huge. 
 Checking out the double overhead waves
The view from our temporary home.  Life is good. 

Jojo and I finished up a little vacation on The Big Island, and we island hopped our way back to Kauai. This trip has lined up amazingly well.  We are staying at one of the most beautiful spots I've ever experienced on the island.  We can walk ten feet out the door to check the waves or continue walking about another four hundred feet to the beach and the bike path.  We are a short bike ride away from town.  It's been incredible.  I love starting the day by jumping in the ocean. The generosity has been overwhelming to say the least.

I'm getting back into training in this nice island weather.  Before I left Vermont, I had a motivating meeting, as always, with Bill Knowles from iSport.  We are changing up the strength routine this year to keep things new and exciting.  I am completely pumped about the plan.  He has me doing some innovative moves in the water.  I'm way too scared to be in the ocean NOT floating on a surfboard so I've been going to the public pool to get it done.  This pool is practically like being in the ocean it's so close.  A crab was even hanging in the bottom of the pool. I've been accidentally timing my workouts at the same time the high school swim team is rolling up for practice.  I've gotten some weird looks with my workout equipment but never to this extent.  It comes with the territory and is well worth the effort.

This past weekend was jam packed with fun.  We went to my favorite spot not the island, Hanalei Bay.  We went to  the monthly surf swap and drooled over the hundreds of used boards for sale.  I shouldn't be allowed within one hundred feet of this event.  It's my achilles heel.  I keep buying surf boards that I want to be able to surf, but I don't quite have the ability to yet.  After the swap,  Jojo and I went out back in Hanalei Bay to check out our boards.  Jojo did more of the surfing and I did more of the watching since there were huge waves rolling in.  Three sea turtles popped their heads up to say hello.  Then, we rushed back to town to help Jojo's family make Gyros for the monthly art walk in Kapaa.  It was good to dip my toes in the food business since I like food so much.  Jojo, Charlie, and I hustled all night long and sold eighty Gyros in the matter of two hours.  I was working the cash register and talking to people.  It was a blast. People on the island loved Greek food.

I can officially say I have decompressed from all of the excitement from the season and psyched to get back to training for 2013.

Happy Holidays!
Lea
 While on the Big Island, jojo and I journeyed to Volcano National Park.  This was the stunning view of the Volcano! It was unfortunately a bit foggy that day
 Standing inside a lava tube.  This was filled with Lava at one point.  Crazy
 Steam Vents at Volcano National Park
 Jojo getting ready for some sushi.  Make your own roll in Kona. Yum
 I'm so happy they could park my boat so close to the shore

 Another view from our new abode on Kauai.  It never gets old. 
 Jojo's dad, Charlie, getting ready to sell some Gyros at the art walk. I helped with this venture.  We sold eighty Gyros on Saturday night.