meet specialized-lululemon 2014
posted: April 14, 2014
Who better to introduce you to 2014 Specialized-lululemon, the world’s fastest women’s cycling team, than troupe ‘Mama Bear’ and the 2013 U.S.A. Cycling Professional Time Trial National Champion Carmen Small? ‘Mama Bear’ is a nickname that holds a lot of meaning, as Carmen told Bicycling Magazine earlier this year, but while the road has been bumpy off the bike for this ex-teacher and triathlete, in the saddle it just keeps getting smoother. In February, the 11 Specialized-lululemon teammates came together in Los Osos, California to train, the only time each year outside of racing that they find themselves in the same place at the same time. There, our brand community specialist Jessi caught up with Carmen for a chat.
Jessi: In your words, what is Specialized-lululemon?
Carmen: We are a pro women’s cycling team. Most people know who Lance Armstrong is, so I like to say we’re the female version of what Lance Armstrong does. Our races are as prestigious as Tour de France, though we don’t have our own Tour de France—but we’re working on that. We compete for money; we have a salary. It is our jobs to race our bikes.
Jessi: You were a new team member last year. What’s your role?
Carmen: They refer to me as Mama Bear. [Ed’s note: she’s 33.] I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not…. [laughs] I’m the oldest one on the team, so I don’t know if that’s why, but I was also a teacher so I’m constantly making sure everyone’s on task, caring about them, making sure everyone’s happy. On the bike apparently I can time-trial now, too, so I’d say I’m an all-rounder.
Jessi: How did the team come together during this camp?
Carmen: We got four new riders this year, and I think we’re a very unique team where we all get along. We all really mesh and there’s a lot of cohesion—that doesn’t always happen. [The coach and owners] do a really incredible job of putting the team together. They don’t just base it on talent and who’s the best rider, they don’t just go after who’s number one, they really look at personalities and how the new riders might fit in with our team and come up with a roster that way.
Jessi: As a team do you train for big goals or is it more individual goals?
Carmen: It’s not a secret that our big goal is the UCI World Team Time Trial Championships, but a huge goal is still to go out and win races. So we’re not just showing up to race as a string, you know, we show up to races to win.
Jessi: How many of you race the team time trial?
Carmen: Six of us. Sometimes we can have a roster of eight people, but for the most part a lot of our races are six people.
Jessi: When do you find out if you’re a racer or not?
Carmen: We know ahead of time, because they want us to be able to prepare appropriately for our race schedule. Obviously that changes because of injury, people get sick, so sometimes you get thrown into a race that you weren’t anticipating doing, but that’s part of the deal.
Jessi: What motivates you as a team when you’re not together?
Carmen: It’s kind of a weird thing… I don’t think there are any other team sports where you go off, you train, and you have your own coach… But [after the camp] we go back home and we train by ourselves. There’s a lot of self-motivation there, a lot of self-drive. Of course, everyone wants to win because we’re really competitive girls—we’re really competitive—but that’s not the whole goal of this sport. So it’s whether you’re a lead out person or you’re a domestique, whatever your role is we have our individual goals in that. You want to show up to support, you don’t want to show up to just get dropped and not do your job.
Jessi: What differentiates Specialized-lululemon from other teams out there?
Carmen: Our schedule is a European schedule; it’s a UCI schedule. It doesn’t get bigger than that. So Specialized-lululemon is different because all our team focuses on are the best races. We do all the World Cups, we show up to all the high-level stage races. Within the international level our team is [also] different. We’re really lucky because we have really good support. We have the best equipment that’s out there. We have the best staff. I think the riders then make the difference. You saw how we interact with each other…if you care for someone off the bike then you’re really going to give 100 per cent on the bike.
Jessi: You guys have big appetites. How do you look at diet?
Carmen: Food is definitely our fuel. Cyclists eat a lot of food. I was a triathlete before I was a cyclist and I thought I ate a lot then, but for some reason I eat a lot more now. Yeah, it’s amazing the amount of food we eat. When we’re all together doing it you don’t even realize it. But you can’t call it a diet. It’s more, what are our choices? We stay away from the empty carbs and we’re not snacking on potato chips and making bad decisions like that. I can’t say that we don’t eat dessert because I’m a dessert eater, but I think it’s in moderation.
MEET SPECIALIZED-LULULEMON 2014
We asked Carmen (USA) to introduce us to the team.
Evelyn Stevens (USA)—“Laughing. Climbing and time trialing. Leadership.”
Tayler Wiles (USA)—“Smile. She’s a really good climber; she’s just strong overall. She’s a domestique.”
Tiffany Cromwell (Australia)—“Diva. She’s an all-rounder. She’s pretty good. She’s new…maybe some diversity.”
Ally Stacher (USA)—“Loving. She’s just so caring. She’s also a domestique.”
Loren Rowney (Australia)—“Tall. She’s a sprinter. She always throws these random tid-bits of knowledge out there and it’s like, why do you even know that?”
Trixi Worrack (Germany)—“Trixi’s awesome. I just have to say, she’s awesome. She’s also an all-rounder. Boss. She’s our boss.”
Lisa Brennauer (Germany)—“Sweet. Good time trialist, good sprinter, good lead out, she’s good all-around. She’s a good sprinter, she can finish a race. She’s a quiet leader. She’s not outspoken, but we turn to her for advice.”
Chantal Blaack (Netherlands)—“She’s friendly, really friendly. I know her from racing against her, but she’s new to me. She’s a good classics rider, just really strong. She’s knowledgeable about racing. She’s so young, but she’s been racing twice as long as I have. She’s been doing this her whole life, which is rare.”
Elise Delzenne (France)—“She’s just so sweet and quiet and I feel like we’re going to shock her. We get kind of not so PG-13 sometimes. She’s pretty wholesome, I think.”
Karol-Ann Canuel (Canada)—“Small. She’s a tiny little thing. She’s a climber. Her role…I’m not sure yet. I nicknamed her; she’s like a little rocket. A little spark plug. You think she’s really quiet but I think she can be really witty and quite fiery.”
When we want to know how our product is working, we ask the people who put it to the hardest tests. That’s just one of the reasons we support professional road and mountain cycling teams such as Specialized-lululemon and BMC. Another is THAT we love to hang out with fascinating individuals who set lofty goals and sweat hard.