Pros and Kids Complete the Circle

The team smiling before the climb and the competitiveness kicks in Snacks on the wood chips

There's a kid inside every pro. The realities of life as a professional are often harsh but the spark lit by that first bike ride burns bright in most of them; they still love their bikes. Last week I photographed both ends of the spectrum, spending a day with members of the St. Louis-based Vera Bradley Womens Team and a fun Saturday morning with a bunch of kids riding and playing on the Coyote Creek Trail.

Measuring flexibility

The Vera Bradley Foundation has been raising funds to battle breast cancer since 1994. The eleven female riders, managers, mechanics and soigneurs that comprise Team Vera Bradley Foundation, are out to help those fund raising efforts, win bike races and make cycling more accessible for women. The newest members of the team spent the morning at Specialized's Bicycle Components University, getting a complete bio-mechanical analysis and BGFit on their new S-Works Amira race bikes. Positions were changed (along with some strongly-held beliefs), components swapped, insoles trimmed and cleats shimmed. They left... dialed in and ready for a rainy training ride back to Santa Cruz over the hill.

Alison Testroete, 2009 Canadian Womens Road Champion climbing strong

The hill in this case was a fantastic climb up Mt. Madonna Road. The narrow ascent winds steeply through a grove of Redwoods, reminding me of Tunitas Creek with a twist... a mile-and-a-half from the summit the road turns to dirt. The girls took this in stride, in fact they made it look ridiculously easy and while I shot them in the misty gloom beneath that ancient canopy, I wondered how far back I'd be laboring on those pitches.

We said goodbye to the rarefied heights of professional cycling and returned to the beginning... to kids and their bikes. Jaci, Gabi, Lulu, Amelia, Max, Gunnar, and Lukas reminded us what it's all about. Fun.

Kid style

They spun about a playground, alternating between bikes, swings and the basketball net. They traded bikes, rode them into the sand of the volleyball pit, through piles of wood chips and with mildly concerned parents looking on, down a steep little gravel hill repeatedly. Willy Nevin's girls Jaci and Gabi raced cross last year, holding their lines amidst the 55+ men. Their confidence and energy hinted that they may complete the circle and end up knocking at Vera Bradley's door one day. And wouldn't that make their dad proud.

10 Responses to Pros and Kids Complete the Circle

  1. Tim Cox says:

    Hey Michael – wish I was a kid again. I was dropping Rupert off for a basketball practice and got talking to some teenagers who were doing some daredevil tricks. Stuff that would no doubt drive their parents bonkers like sitting backwards on the bars and cycling around the parking lot.

    The bikes were so cool (they let me ride them for a bit) and it’s clear they were really into the fixie thing. I just love the simplicity of those bikes.

    Talking of fixed – here’s some photos I took of Rupert and his first visit to the velodrome. I wish you’d been there to do it justice with your photog skills..

  2. Tim Cox says:

    Hellyer Velodrome pix (for some reason URL did not come through in previous comment):

    • Got em. Good for Rupert. I don’t remember those cone drills when I did the Hellyer rookie class… good thing, looks a little tricky

  3. willy in pacifica says:

    Wow, what cute kids!!

    Although we drove for over an hour each way to help out in this photo shoot we would do it again in a heartbeat. We had a blast and even though we were there for about 6 hours the girls were never bored and had a blast. At the end of the day the other two families left and it was just the three girls my wife and I remaining. We all got on the Specialized bikes and rode as a family to a ranch about a mile away. Even Lulu on her little training wheeled bike was loving it. She even commented on how this fancy bike did not make noise like her $10 garage sale bike. We fed hourses and the girls were almost run over by a huge wild pig. What more could you ask for in a family ride. I bet the Vera Bradley Womens Team did not have to dodge a pig.

    Looking forward to more pictures.

    Willy in Pacifica

  4. Never forget the inner kid in all of us! Love the photography!

  5. Katherine says:

    My new friends! I wish I could have met you – I was with Team VBF for their last three days of camp to do a little freelance writing, join them on a recovery ride and otherwise bum around and try to feed off their greatness. You take beautiful photographs, and I’m glad you were able to shoot the team. Would love to see more of your photos of them.

    Best, KF

    • Hi Katherine,

      I’d hoped to spend more time with the team, most of the day was spent shooting them getting their bike fits. Only got about 20 minutes in very tough light on that climb. Ah, the challenges of shooting cycling. I’ll post more photos when Specialized releases them.


      • willy in pacifica says:

        I think I saw the team on Sunday morning riding north on Hwy 1 heading out of Santa Cruz.

        I was riding my monthly 200k so left Pacifica about 7:30 and got down to SC about 11′ish. I saw a gang 0 gals with a team car following. I hit Denny’s for a receipt before heading back home.

        Nice easy ride down but what a pisser coming home. Took me about 5 hours due to the winds.

  6. kurt says:

    Style points for the alphabet All Stars.

    Bikes and Kids just seem to go together….