This week we speak with longtime coach, fitter, and women's cycling advocate Lorri Lee Lown about some of the roadblocks to growing participation in the sport and general tips and tricks for riding off-road.
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Automated Transcription, please forgive the errors.
Lorri, welcome to the show.
Thanks, Craig. I'm excited to be here today.
Yeah, I'm looking forward to our conversation. I'm always kind of excited to talk more about the women's side of the sport and how we get more women into gravel cycling. But before we begin, I'd love to give the listener just a little bit of your background. So if you could talk about how you got into cycling and later how you discovered gravel cycling, that would be an awesome place to start.
Sounds good. I started writing in the nineties, which makes me feel really old. But the reality was it was 1999 so it's not that old. And I had moved to California and I was not an athlete, but when I moved here, everybody was fit and healthy and rich and beautiful. And I was like, I might be just like them. And I got the fit part down. That was good. And the healthy part, I don't know about the rich and beautiful. I participated in the California AIDS ride. I had signed up and had nine months to train. I didn't even really have a bike. I had a 1980 something specialized hard rock that I was training on. And at the time I thought this event was for world class athletes and Olympians and I was none of those things. I was a drinking, smoking, non-athletic person.
And over the course of nine months training for the event, I realized, first of all, I was pretty good at riding a bike. I had never been good at sports, but in my mind all sports and bald, bald, you had to catch and you had to throw. And I couldn't do either. But then I realized there's this whole other area of sports that I was actually pretty good at, which were at sports. So things like skiing and skating and cycling. And because I have this pretty obsessive personality, I found that I really just wanted to ride my bike and ride my bike all the time and ride my bike fast and climb mountains and that kind of thing. So I started riding. And long story short, I was given the opportunity to change careers by my then employer. This was in 2001, Charles Schwab.
And when the Bailey basically imploded, I found myself with some time on my hands and a career change in sight and I decided I wanted to share my love of cycling with other people in particular women. I had found that there weren't very many women who I saw riding bikes and I knew they were out there cause I'd see a big group of dudes and there would be one woman hanging on where their tongue hanging out at the back of the group. But I didn't see them riding together in groups and I knew that that was something that women really enjoy. I have a MBA in gender relations, so I spent some time studying what motivates us and women are really motivated by community and being involved with other people supporting each other in a very different way than men are. So men will compete against each other, women will collaborate. And I couldn't find an organization like that. I wanted to become a coach and I decided to start my own, even though my coach at the time said, who would want to ride with you? You're not a pro racer. And so I started Velo girls
And that was back in 2002 right. Amazing. And Vela Vela girls, was it a road club or a mountain club?
Well, we started as a road club and I was pretty adamant in my mind of what I wanted to do with the organization. We were only going to ride road. I didn't want to compete with Jackie felon who at the time was running wombat, and I don't know if you know wombat, but it was probably one of the first women's mountain bike organizations and we weren'