Wednesday January 27th
Our adventure starts here….
We rented a huge van and were to meet at the Van Nuys Fly Away to make the 5-hour drive up. GGR ride leader volunteer Liz Kurtz was our happy and amazing driver for the entire trip.
Once we got on the road, we played a couple of fun van games to get the team building & camaraderie going to set the tone of the trip.
We were welcomed with open arms by Seth, Amy and a few others at the entrance of Specialized. We got signed in and immediately went to the museum to get some history on Specialized.
Now it was time for the famous Win Tunnel! We were all especially stoked for this! There were other groups at SBCU during our visit, so we got to meet some of them as well checking out the win tunnel. We all got to go into the tunnel while they turned it on to just over 55 mile an hour winds. You were required to wear safety glasses and not have anything loose on! All types of bikes are tested in the win tunnel and so is apparel! They explained how a bubble machine helps them too inside the win tunnel.
Now onto a suspension and tuning class! We joined this class already in progress. You see, SBCU: Specialized Bicycle Components University holds all sorts of classes at Specialized head quarters for their retailers.
We all changed for our mountain bike ride in Fort Ord then went into their famous CAGE to pick up our assigned bikes and get our suspension set up for us.
Now onto to Fort Ord. Seth was our ride leader, van driver and all around Bad Ass leader. He is one of the professors at SBCU. Amy from the women’s product division joined us from the start of our trip as well. I was assigned the Specialized Rhyme. A 1x11 trail bike. Some of the girlz had the same bike but with some variations like Desi had a Rhyme FATTY and Tam had a Rhyme 2x10.
We dropped into a super fun single-track. There was hero dirt on this trail since it had been raining a lot lucky for us!! After a fun single track descent leading onto the main fire road. We climbed up to start a 3 run loop. We climbed a bit to get to the top where the views were purely green and spectacular. Then we all dropped into the super fun, flowey, single-track descent. At the bottom, I asked Desi if we could switch bikes so I could try the Fatty. The Fatty was definitely more difficult to climb with, however the descents were super smooth & utter fun! I just went right through the middle of the ruts. Lines didn’t matter with the fatty tires!
We went into one of the boardrooms at Specialized and met with the women’s product managers and held an open forum. What I have learned most about the team at Specialized is that they listen. We shared stories and gave them feedback on many women’s cycling issues, bikes, components, saddles, all sorts of things. Everything that mattered in women's mountain biking we discussed.
After this super productive focus group, we all walked over to Bocca’s for dinner. There I got to chat with bike shop owners across the country, have some chow and enjoy some vino of course! We collected everyone and headed back to the hotel. I was so energized I wasn’t ready to shut it down, so I walked over to Chevy’s for a margarita and keep the positive energy flowing with a few of the other team leaders.
We then changed into our road bike clothes and went into the body geometry room to get fitted for our road bikes. Now I have an entry level, super heavy road bike, so I just don’t ride it much except after work for a quickie workout in the summer. I’m not used to the typical geometry of a road bike which is your body being pretty low in an attack position. I was put on the Amira. A super fast, high performance race bike with a steep attack position. I was not comfortable at all on this. Seth to the rescue. He brought out a Diverge. A carbon gravel grinder bike. It looked like it was set up much more upright like a mountain bike and had bigger tires too. Apparently it’s the road bike for mountain bikers. YES IT WAS! I absolutely loved it! It was fast, solid and comfortable. I also loved the saddle, the POWER saddle. My new favorite saddle. We went on a 21-mile, absolutely beautiful road ride. The ride was just like GGR’s rides, no drop, ride leader, floaters, sweepers and regrouping. We all really appreciated that!
Kali Protectives opened their doors to us for a wonderful Q&A and factory tour. Kali has been supporting the GGR Rocktober festivals since day one. I am a proud ambassador of their products and especially love their pads because they don't move on me. I was wearing their DH helmet the Avatar ll when I hit a tree in 2013 cracking the helmet. I didn't even have a headache, the helmet probably saved my life. It was really awesome getting to spend some time there and we are very grateful for their hospitality!
Specialized and their team of outstanding people not only listen, but they really want to make a difference. I am so very honored that they invited our GGR leadership team to headquarters and gave us a jammed packed schedule of learning, experiencing, adventure and just rad times!
I thank everyone at Specialized that made this happen and was there for us guiding, assisting and teaching. A HUGE shout out to Seth Rand who is da man! You made this happen, you allowed us to give critical feedback as well as show us a great time & open the doors to Specialized. I know it's not always easy dealing with 13 strong minded women! Well done! Thank you! Thank you to all that took time out of their busy day to show my team what you do best!
Thank you to Kali Protectives who opened their doors to us late on a Friday night! Thank you for the tees and always providing me with the best protective products on the planet! Thank you to my rep Jon Sacks who always provides me with what I need and supports our annual Rocktober Festival!
Thank you ZOIC Clothing for providing our leadership team with socks for the trip and always providing me with the greatest shorts out there!
Thank you GGR Girl Liz Kurtz for handling ALL of the driving!
Thank you GGR Girl Ali Hyde for agreeing to start a new chapter! Big Bear!
And last but not least, I would like to thank my leadership team. With 4 chapters of GGR, we have a pretty big team so not everyone was able to join us. I thank each and everyone of you for your dedication and generoisty in leading our community. I thank you for being the heart of GGR and seeing my vision through. YOU make it happen. Together, we will all make our women's mountain biking community a better place.
Until the next adventure.........a big MWAH to all of you!
Wendy Engelberg, Director, GGR: Girlz Gone Riding