Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Creating Community in Womens Cycling

Last night I had the pleasure of being a keynote speaker at the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado (BRAC) Womens Cycling Summit. The following is the speech I delivered to a standing room only of primarily female racers in the Front Range. is publishing it to their site today, which I'm pretty excited about. But more than anything, I am honored to be a part of this community and making a difference in something I feel passionate about.

Good Evening!

It's always striking to me how unrecognizable people are outside of their cycling clothing. You look oddly familiar... mind pulling your hair back, sticking a helmet on and covering your face with glasses? Ah! That's it! That's where I know you from!

Thank you all for taking time out your busy schedules to meet tonight in honor of BRAC and our cycling community. Despite having Thanksgiving on the brain and I'm sure a lot of last minute preparations. It's nice to see so many people here in honor of our amazing community.

Tonight I am going to do an introduction of myself, how I was asked to be the keynote speaker, and then focus on community. Specifically, the little steps we can all take to grow from a participation standpoint as well as how we can enhance the values of our community. And lastly, a call to action.

For those who I haven't had the pleasure of meeting yet, my name is Jennifer Triplett and I race cat 2 road, cat 1 track, novice mountain and cross. I am relatively new to the front range area, and live in COS. I moved here to remove a fender rain bike from my quiver, train at altitude and let's face it: for love. I am a co-active coach and love to inspire others to live the life of their dreams, what ever that may be.

A little over a month ago, Clint Bickmore, the ACA President and I were formally introduced at the USA Cycling Coaching summit. I told him about my involvement with the WSBA and MVA in Washington and told him I'd love to get involved. He put me in touch Rachel Scott and Susan Adamkovics to see how I could get involved with the upcoming Womens Summit. I also mentioned in passing that I enjoy public speaking, gulp, and well, here I am.

My background is in boxing. However, getting hit in the face lost its appeal over time and I started looking for a new sport. A friend suggested I start commuting to work via bike and sign up for the Seattle to Portland ride. That sparked a beautiful relationship between myself and bikes. I found I enjoyed passing most men and decided to give racing a try. I spent the past 7 years racing in the soggy NW, where despite the weather they have a thriving community of female racers.

When I first started, I explored team options via meet the team rides in the fall and found a group of women who were all new to the sport and wanted to try racing. Starbucks was our sponsor. I thrived in this environment, quickly advancing through the ranks and immediately looked toward for leadership. A friend suggested I run for the Marymoor Velodrome Association board to be a female voice so I did.

Somewhat intimidated by learning a new skill on a bike without brakes, I started track racing my first year and loved it. Even though you're on a bike without brakes, you also only make left hand turns and as it turns out, I can sprint. I found myself wanting to take things to the next level and raced at regional events and found myself that first year at Nationals.

Looking back, I notice a recurring theme for myself: that I'm not afraid to try anything. I recall going to Alpenrose with its concrete 47 degree banking, large and deep fields (with several Olympians in the mix) and figuring, why not? We all start somewhere. That attitude also got me into trouble as I thought jumping in also meant attacking from the gun. Keep in mind there were Olympians in the group... and well, next thing I know I'm being lapped and discouraged. Not knowing what to do, I rolled off the track before the end of the race, started crying and called my mom. She reminded me, Jennifer! Look at where you are! You're brand new and racing against experienced women. Wipe those tears away and jump back in.

Flash forward a few years, which included wins, losses, injuries, and more community involvement. The MVA established a women's development fund, grew field sizes so we actually had to split cat 4 women categories into two per night. We even started a movement for holding a womens Madison at the Grand Prix each year and had more womens team then men. We were taking action and made a difference in our community. 

Then the unthinkable happened in 2008. My husband died in a tragic rock climbing accident. Life as I knew it was forever changed. And although I stuck around Seattle for 3 years after, I knew it was time to change my environment. Thankfully I had cycling to lean on. Not only from a physical activity but from a community perspective. They were there for me on a deeper level then I knew. I was just racing my bike, just being myself, but when I needed people, they responded with love and generosity. It was hard to leave that community but I knew it was time for my own growth.  Here I am now, in Colorado, establishing a link to a new community.

So when I say community, I say it with great intention and value. It is a support network, a gathering of like minded people. People who I can race against and have fun. That I can laugh with and cry.

Being new to this community, I want to make an impact. I want to see it grow and strengthen. So,how do we grow this community? How do we attract more women?

I posed this question to my friend Nicola Cranmer, Exergy Professional Cycling Women Director, and she said that although women represent only 15% of the USAC license holders, there's something to be said about the quality. Look at the Olympics for example. The medals were won by women. It's not just about quantity, it's quality.

On a grassroots level, there are little things we can do to welcome new faces. Think about it, women's racing is super intimidating. Seeing teams all dressed the same and not very friendly is like being thrown to a pack of wolves. I highly recommend being welcoming to a new face, introducing yourself and going going out of your way. That little engagement, such as helping pin numbers on for someone, can make a massive difference in whether they ever show up again. On group rides, seek out those new faces, welcome them.  Encourage them to come back.

If we want to grow our community, then we all need to do our part. I challenge each of you at each race to find one new person, introduce yourself and make a connection.

Back to when Clint and I were talking about women's sport, he mentioned that although small in numbers, women are often the loudest voices. We want more categories, equal pay, neutral support and a list of other things. And I'm sure we could brainstorm a long list tonight of the things we would like to improve women's cycling. But in order for change to happen we need action from those voices. So I have another challenge, another opportunity to grow our community from within. And that is for every idea, for every voice heard in this room, that each of you, each of those voices commit to one action. One thing that resonates where you think change needs to happen, regardless of size or impact, to improve womens cycling.

I also propose we start meaningful conversations. A gathering where we can brainstorm ideas and things we want to see change, pick a specific topic and then focus on it.

Together, we can make a difference. And I look forward to seeing each of your contributions enhance our community.

Thank you.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Balanced Living.

I've searched all my life for a career that resonates with my values and beliefs. One that gets me stoked each and every day from the moment I wake up, to the minute I go to bed. One that I feel passionate about am an not just settling for a pay check. One that promotes community, meaningful conversations, human heart felt interactions and laughter.  One that is full of love, authenticity and integrity.

I found it. Or rather, it found me.

Life coaching. Aligning people with their values and beliefs. Seeing the beauty in everyone and everything. Showing people and teaching them that all of the answers are within, it's just a matter of accessing them. It's transformation, life purpose, balance, purpose and connection, all wrapped in one.

I'm on an amazing journey right now. One that is teaching me the skills and tools to bring out the best in you. And holy cow, it is the coolest thing I've ever done. I light up when I tell people about it and then get to show them how it works.

And this weekend's topic? Why balance of course!

This mornings ride well timed, by my favorite perched rock. I ride by it often but today was different. Today I noticed balance can happen from infinite perspectives and angles. How is it possible? This precariously perched boulder.

It's appropriate that this famous landmark is hard to get to. You have to climb a steep hill to approach it from either angle. Each time it comes into view, I marvel at its beauty and what it means to me. 

It's almost as though I can't photograph it enough. Every angle I view it provides new meaning, new richness, new understanding. New aha!s.

I love it when the park is empty in the wee morning hours. I get to connect, to feel balance and feel whole. My balance is there, in a quiet spot in my heart and soul. No one needs to be around photographing it - I know it exists.

Monday, November 12, 2012

What is rapidly approaching...

I shiver beneath winter layers
Legs heavy, weighted with dangling skis.

Exhaling crystallized breath into mountain air: an offering.
Chair swaying in the wind, gathering speed near the summit. 
A cool acceptance, Mother Nature grants as we unload the lift.

Big smiles read under scarfs.

YAHOOS! heard under lifts.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

11.11 Remembrance.

I noticed it as I stood in line at customs. Bright, red poppies affixed to several people's lapels.

But you don't ask the custom officials questions. They're supposed to do the questioning. Asking questions draws attention. And in customs, extra attention can take a while. So I let it sit.

But the flowers followed me to the hotel. What is this red flower that shines brightly? Making me take a pause and wonder its origin. They were everywhere.

I asked John, a Coaching Training Institute assistant it's origin. November 11 is Remembrance Day. It honors all of those ancestors, friends, countrymen and women who have died in war. Their incredible act of duty, remembered.

We Shall Keep the Faith
by Moira Michael, November 1918

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honour of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

In the midst of our Sunday session at 11am, we had a minute of silence. Powerful, quiet, respect.

I talked to an Olympian afterward. He eyes welled up with tears. Taking that moment, pausing and remembering those before, has enormous resonance. Reaching the podium, especially on an International platform, was such an honor. Seeing the flag rise up the pole, hearing the Canadian National anthem: he did that. He did it for his country.

May we all do something selflessly for our country and remember those that have.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fulfillment Steps

I'm doing it.

I'm taking the steps, getting closer to certification and am doing the work.

And although I love doing this work, it's exhausting. I leave the clinics each day completely blown. It's not that the subject matter is new, or fresh, it's just that we're applying the coaching directly to one another, an active lab of sorts.

And what are we finding? That when you touch on and listen to someone's life purpose and values big shifts can happen. Transformation. Evoking change. And it leaves you worked.

It's empowering and scary. Thrilling and frightening. Like taking a deep rich breath of air that fills you from head to toe. That you know has been there all along, but was brought to the foreground.

Having AHA! moments, taking action and being held accountable. Realizing that powerful being in your life is there all along and accessible at any time is revolutionary. And that often, you don't give yourself credit for all of the hard work you've done in the past.  (I.E - I've already written my book. It's time to take action and get it published!)

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Bedeep. Data.

Observation mode.

Do you ever go through modes of collecting loads of data? Where you become so engrossed in what interests you at the time that you lose sense of time? You can't get enough of a subject so you research everything you can on a subject: books from the library and productive web surfing. Days blend together and weeks whiz by.


Must collect more data.

Nose buried in a book, mind working overtime and journal filled with lots of random notes. I am so incredibly happy gathering. For me, it's the process that's the best part. Sure the destination and goal is important too, but getting there is where I learn the most. It's where I thrive.

What makes you lose sense of time?

Friday, November 02, 2012

Looking back on going forward.

My love for track cycling came fast and furiously. Where else can you test riding off the front of the group with no fear of being dropped and lost? Its one gear, no brakes and intensity had me hooked from the get go. Thankfully someone was there armed with a camera to capture my start. Oh the lessons I've learned.

Afraid to try something new? Nah. More like afraid to sit in and follow!

Be bold.