Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Morning of a Pro Cyclist

My interactions with my teammate, Jo Kiesanowski, are too good to keep to myself. They are deserving of a movie. (I've never made an Xtranormal movie and sigh when I see yet another one online, but I couldn't help myself.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Falling Down

Ever since I started cycling in 2009, I've gotten a lot of crap for not knowing much about the history and who is who in cycling. I remember one of my conversations with my friend, Kele, who mentioned Kristin Armstrong, and I stared at her blankly. She was appalled--not in a "Oh, ha ha, you're cute type of way," but more in a "I want you to push you off your bike into those thorns" type of way. (In my defense, I had only been cycling about six months at the time. P.S. I was told once in a corporate review that I needed to work on not being defensive. Noted.)

Anyway, I googled Kristin and after phishing through results and images, I learned she wasn't "Kristen" and she also wasn't Lance's wife (I knew who Lance was, of course....Note: Defensive). And I really did feel embarrassed that I didn't know who she was, given she is a prominent figure in the women's peloton. I spent some time researching other women cyclists and teams, and some of my friends would tutor me without being patronizing. And after some time, I felt pleased with my progress and equipped to chime in "Oh yeah, wasn't it just great?!!!" during the next social hour about Famous Cyclist X, who won Race Y that I can't pronounce during a year before I was born or when I was listening to Michael Jackson's Bad tape regularly...as opposed to randomly in the 2011s.

Anyway, but it turns out that as I continue racing and think I'm rapidly expanding my wikipedia of cycling, I am constantly hearing names and races of people I don't recognize. And I could just sit there and nod and give the "Oh, totally. I'm SOOO engaged in this conversation," nods but my attention span just can't handle those types of conversations. So, if I hear Davis Phinney and say, "Hey, is he the dad of Taylor Phinney?" I then immediately find out that no one is impressed that I know who Taylor is but they are more appalled that I don't know who Davis Phinney is. And this happens over and over and over and over again. And back to Google and YouTube I go to figure out how I could be so stupid and not know these facts, forgetting that I just learned what a derailleur was in 2009 and I can proudly point out a top tube on a bike like a 1st grader pointing out California on a map. (Am I being defensive again? I'll never get that Star Employee of the Quarter parking spot--this actually exists--at this rate.)

So, hey, it's true. I like to be liked, but after so much "Bah ha ha ha--get this, Jennifer doesn't know who Blah von Blah Blah Blah is. Mwhahahah." I had enough. I guess I had a Michael Douglas Falling Down moment (You don't know what that is? Ba ha ha ha, you're so stupid) where I parked my car under the LA freeway, grabbed my briefcase, and decided I had had enough. My "Oh I'm just a dumb cyclist who doesn't know what I 'should' know" mindset became "Hey, I'm Jennifer F-in' Wheeler. I was in a SRAM commercial with Nick "I-won-Flanders" Nuyens (I googled him before writing this.) Who the hell are you?"

My Falling Down liberation moment
I took this new liberating outlook to Tour of Colorado since I'm in Colorado Springs with my teammate, Jo Kiesanowski, and tried it out with some Bike Industry A-Listers.

I'm Jennifer Wheeler. And, uh, your hand is like covering up a sponsor.


 I'm Jennifer Wheeler, and you're too tall for this photo.

I'm Jennifer Wheeler. I make the faces here, buddy. 

Orange Hair Guy. Yep, that's it. No introductions needed.

I'm Jennifer Wheeler. Who the...oh and you're my team director. Er...how's it going?

I'm Jennifer Wheeler. Oh and I love you--no snotty attitude needed.
I'm Jennifer Wheeler. Who the hell...gave you those ribs? chomp chomp chomp

I'm Jennifer Wheeler, and we're posing for your new Twitter profile pic.   

I'm Jennifer Wheeler. And we're working on pronouncing "Roar" and "Parrots" correctly.

And I guess the lesson I learned is that I actually prefer to meet people for the first time without knowing who they are and/or much about them, so that I can form my own impression without it being clouded with random bike facts or gossip--and girrrrrl, cyclists can gossip.

That way I won't ever want to ask Bob Roll (Zing! Name drop!) to say "Tour "day" France" or I won't feel embarrassed for asking if this dude in the Radio Shack kit on the Echelon Gran Fondo charity ride is Chris Warner or Horner, and most importantly I won't lose my "gift of the gab" that will only work with a loose filter that isn't worried about saying something dumb to someone who is really important. I can just be a normal human and say everyday things like, "Hi. C'mere and get your photo with me. I wanna put you on my blog."

P.S. *whisper* I'm writing this in Jeff Pierce's (ZING!) basement. (I'm not held captive. He's married to my teammate who I'm staying with in CO Springs.) (Oh and I googled him a while back and that stage he won in the Tour. I can't pronounce it.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

SRAM Develops "The Schneider"

I'm in Chicago for Tour of Elk Grove. So, in between my acclimation sessions of drinking hot Americanos outside of hipster coffee shops and checking Facebook to see if I, too, have been tagged in High Heels magazine, I thought hmmm... maybe I could visit my sponsor, SRAM.

What I thought would be a quick tour around the headquarters turned into an interview, modelling session, and bloopers reel. Once I realized what I had gotten into, I quickly took a moment to remember the lessons I've learned from America's Next Top Model and my teammate and worked that shoot.

The visit started by meeting all the SRAMees (Or is it SRAMers? Or is it SRAMies?) and seeing where they test products from the future, have meetings in rooms named after cities, develop components that float in the air...and where they eat food. Queue US Weekly mag's "Stars are just like us"

Then quickly after my kitchen tour ended, I heard the click of a new Canon, the flash of a light, and despite my resistance, my jazz hands busted out from my pockets, and soon after came what has been coined as "The Schneider."

The Schneider has been passed down generations, originating in the 1500's from the contrapposta stance.

My teammate, Sam Schneider, has made some minor adjustments, particularly because the wide stance of the legs was not very flattering for females--especially females with muscular legs, and in the process, has perfected the pose, thus creating The Schneider.

As professional cyclists, we have many media photos and as you can see, well, my stance has taken some time to perfect.

However, with many hours of lessons and practicing, I made my Schneider debut and nailed the pose at the SRAM shoot--so well that you don't even notice that I'm whispering "OMG! OMG! OMG!" I did, however, think about a quick post up in victory after this moment. (I'm pretty sure I can do two hands OFF the bike.)

So, thank you, SRAM for the tour and for the now patented "The Schneider." P.S. I also listened to a program on This American Life today called "When Patents Attack"--I'm just sayin'...

Here is the SRAM Road Diaries Interview. You, too, can support "The Schneider," by liking Team TIBCO and SRAM on Facebook. Word.