On the Road with Lauren Hall

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 29, 2010

Lauren Hall, a former St. Aloysius and Mississippi State soccer standout, is participating in competitive cycling around North America. She will be contributing updates on her progress.

March 29

So after camp, I stayed in California with my teammate, Alex Rhodes and my team director, Lisa Hunt near her house.  Marin County, CA is beautiful! Beautiful roads, great places to shop, wonderful food choices and everyone is super nice and it is so close to San Francisco.  I had plans to go to the big city on my day off but it was pouring down rain that day, oh well.  I’ve been to San Francisco before with the family when I was 13 or so.

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My grandfather(one of the reasons I want to be a pro athlete), Parker Hall, played for the first 49ers football team and he would always get  tickets and invitations to attend the alumni  game every year.  He never was interested and he would just throw them away until dad was visiting one day and noticed them in the trash, we had an awesome trip and I think my grandfather was glad he went.


So after a week or so in Marin Co, it was time to start racing.  First race of the year for me was San Dimas, CA, this race is a good primer for Redlands Stage race, where I am today.  San Dimas was a perfect start up for me, getting used to racing with 80 other gals, inches from each other at about 35mph and fighting for position and hanging on while my tongue is hanging on the ground!  It was GREAT!  San Dimas is only 3 days, time trial, road race and a criterium.  Redlands is 4 days, time trial, road race, criterium and another road race.  San Dimas’ road race was only 56 miles, Redlands first road race was 68miles and the second one on Sunday is 68miles.  


Today is the criterium, my favorite!  I didn’t do to well in the time trial and I did OK in the road race.  I did my job though, help my team as best I can for as long as I can and then I was done, my legs were so tired! Today is FUN, fast and quick.  It will hurt just as bad as the road race though because it is so condensed into a short period of time – 60min.  And in those 60min, there are sprint points to be won and some of the teams going for that will keep the pace super high, so again, I will do my best for the team as long as I can.


It has been a long month and I’m ready to get back to seeing my pup and being at home(Colorado).  I fly home on Monday, stay home a week, then head back out to California for the Sea Otter race.


Please check out these websites and support our team fundraising efforts! See y’all later!


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March 11

On Tuesday, the team went to Specialized HQ to get a bike fit to make sure we are in the best position possible to maximize our power output and keep our bodies ergonomically correct.  Each fit took about 3hrs, they really took their time with the team and didn’t look over any detail.  After the fit we took to the road for a quick photoshoot for Specialized, then home.

Wednesday was another photoshoot ride and the weather wasn’t cooperating very well but we made the most of it and had fun with our new bike fits, Champion System kits, Specialized Amira bikes.  We looked amazing in our Team Vera Bradley Foundation colors!

Thursday – Sunday were great days on the bike.  The weather held out, we had some long rides and met some new friends that supported the team.

On Monday everyone flew home except for Alex Rhodes and myself, we are staying in Marin, CA for the week until racing starts next weekend.  First race of the season, San Dimas Stage Race followed by Redlands Stage race, so I’m spending a lot of time in CA.  We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge on the way home! How pretty!  The weather and the hills here are beautiful!

I will update once race time comes around! Hoping to be home mid April and looking forward to a couple of school visits if anyone is interested!

Santa Cruz training camp highly successful for Team Vera Bradley Foundation

La Selva Beach, CA – Santa Cruz county was the perfect setting for a successful training camp for Team Vera Bradley Foundation.  A beach house just outside of Aptos was the base camp for riders and staff for the first eight days of March.  “Having everyone staying in one house makes for a great bonding experience,” stated team director, Lisa Hunt.  The riders broke up into teams each night to cook dinner for everyone, including hosting sponsors.  “It’s all about teamwork,” said Hunt.  “These girls really know how to work together — in the kitchen and on the bike.  The meals were incredible!”

Specialized Amiras, equipped with SRAM Force components, Rolf Prima wheels and LOOK pedals greeted the riders when they arrived on Monday, along with new team kits from Champion System.  The ladies couldn’t wait to get out on the roads with their new equipment.

On Tuesday, the team traveled to Specialized in Morgan Hill to work with the professors from Specialized Bicycle Components University (SBCU) for a comprehensive BG FIT (Body Geometry Fit Integration Technology).  “It was an incredible experience!” commented Alison Powers.  “They made a lot of changes, but all good ones!”  After all the fits were completed, the team took to the roads for a photo shoot, making their way back to the team house.  The rain held off for their ride up and over Mt. Madonna, and the riders welcomed the beautiful scenery on the hard packed dirt climb.  Back at the house, the team prepared a gourmet Mexican meal for the SBCU professors, Donny Perry and Aaron Post.  “We wanted to thank them for all of their hard work today,” said Powers. 

Wednesday’s heavy downpours didn’t stop the team from training together.  While a few of the riders spent the morning at Specialized for additional BG FITs, the rest of the team hit the roads.  “We got a bit of a break in the rain at the start of the ride, but then it came down even harder as the ride progressed,” commented Alexis Rhodes, who hails from Adelaide, Australia.  “We got a bit wet; but it was fun.  And we wanted to make the photos look good!”

Another gourmet meal was served on Wednesday evening as the team welcomed Austin Britts and Kevin Fuller from Personal Best, LLC, makers of Betwixt and Zealios products. They shared their insights about the products and their commitment to using all natural ingredients and ingredients made in the USA.  “When you have this kind of interaction with your sponsors, you really learn a lot about their products,” commented Alison Testroete.

On Thursday, clear blue skies and warm temperatures greeted the team for the photo shoot and their 5 hour ride up and over Eureka Canyon and back down to the coast for a cruise along Highway 1. “It’s great to have the whole team riding together,” commented team captain, Robin Farina.  “This is the time when you get to know everyone — their riding styles and their strengths and weaknesses.  It’s so important.”

Feb. 21, 2010

I’m back in Tucson training in the warm weather and great roads till the end of the month.  I came down here after Christmas to get the legs rolling again and stayed for a couple of weeks before heading back to Colorado.  I was in Colorado for a couple of weeks catching up on yearly duties, doctors, appointments, etc.  So once all that was finished, I headed back south to Tucson just in time.  Snow is piling up in Colorado and down here it is just rain and today’s “cold front” brings a high of 50 degrees:) 

Things are starting to pick up fast.  I’ve started conversing regularly with the team director, I’ve recieved my tentative schedule for the summer, got talking points regarding our sponsor, Vera Bradley Foundation and the trickle of team goodies has started to flow.  Those goodies would include shoes, glasses(casual and racing), placed orders for clothing, etc.  I’ve also recieved my itenerary for the month of March and I’ve started to get more specific on my training schedule!  A LOT going on, taking it one day at a time, that is KEY. 

I can’t wait to get things rolling, this is going to be a year of learning.  I’m also going to try and make it back home for the Tour le Fleur race in Jackson, April 24,25th.  This would be a great opportunity for those of you curious about bike racing to check it out right in your backyard:)! 

I’ll update again and let everyone know what really happens at ‘training camp’. Thanks!

Dec. 30, 2009

I talked to the St. Francis Xavier 5th and 6th grade classes on 2 separate days about cycling, the importance of exercise, heath and wellness.  I enlightened them on the sport of cycling, the clothing, the bikes, importance of wearing a helmet and the different elements of racing.  They had so many great questions and really enjoyed the hour long talk.  I look forward to doing more of these school visits back home and around the country during this race season, to represent Team VBF, my teammates, Specialized and all of our sponsors for 2010.

Dec. 11, 2009

So I arrived in Bend, Ore., along with some of my teammates on Thursday afternoon.  We are staying with a host family that has 2 cute dogs. On the drive out here, the temperatures ranged from 25 degrees to -15 degrees, staying more towards the single digits most of the time.  At home in Colorado, we got about 20 inches of snow the night before we left so most of that morning was digging out and loading the truck.  I wasn’t officially on the road till about 1p.m., right behind the Fort Lewis College crew which I followed the whole trip. 

Today I went with a couple of guys from the team, Charles Coyle and John Baker, to registration then on to check out the course.  The course was open to everyone from 12-1 in between the day’s races and it quickly filled up with all the racers to come checking out the course, trying to find the right lines, figuring out what tire pressure to run and what the ground was like.  I also got to catch up with some friends which is always nice!  The course was a mixture of snow, ice and exposed rocks in some places and ruts from previous races, there is also a set of steps to climb and a section of barriers to run over.  Over the next 3 days there will be races all day long, from junior categories, master categories and all types of age groups, so that is why the course is already broken in so well.

The elite women race on Sunday, along with the elite men, so until Sunday rolls around, we are all just checking out the course each day to see if the conditions change and to keep our legs fresh.

Nov. 30, 2009

It is 2 days after Thanksgiving and I still feel just as full as I was sitting at the table pushing the dessert plate away.  For the past month, I’ve been racing cyclocross, gaining skills and knowledge fast.  I’ve been finishing in the top 5 in every race and starting to actually gain some ground on those girls I’ve been chasing all this month.  This weekend was an off weekend with the holiday and next weekend is the last of the Fort Lewis College series.  Then after that, Nationals are in Bend, OR from Dec. 10-13th and then I’m headed home for a couple of weeks to see the family and hopefully get in some long road rides with friends.

I also have plans to go to St. Aloysius or St. Francis and talk with some students about cycling and setting goals in life.  It will be a blast to go back to the elementary and high schools and just to be home.  There is no place like it!  I can’t wait to go to Rusty’s or Goldie’s BBQ or Taco CASA! Good food for sure!

Next road season is going to be exciting and extremely busy.  I have been offered a pro contract with one of the teams and things are progressing nicely!  I can’t divulge too much information about it right now because it hasn’t been formerly released yet but as soon as it does, y’all will be the first to know.

Also, while I’ve been in the “off season” these last couple of months, I’ve dabbled in YouTube videos.  Check out my channel, laurenhall17, there are some funny ones, serious ones and just video blogs about cycling.  See y’all soon!

Oct. 28, 2009

First off, it is a lot harder and 10 times more fun than it looks. My first experience of cyclocross was this year at Cross Vegas, I was a spectator cheering on my teammates and just taking it all in, the fans, the barriers, the hurt. I couldn’t believe how much fun I was missing out on all these years. Coming from Mississippi there isn’t a prominent cyclocross series, group or anything to easily accessible so I didn’t even know what the sport was until now. 

I have been given this beautiful opportunity from the Hudz-Subaru team to be a development rider for their women’s team which is full of talent that I can learn from and be a part of. After Cross Vegas, I received my Blue frames and two kits, it was all falling into place, now it was time to learn what it means to race cyclocross. Once the bike was all together, I had taken it on a couple of easy dirt road rides just to get a feel for the bike and the difference of road versus trails versus a mountain bike, what a combination of a bike. Next up was to learn how to mount and dismount and jump over barriers, so off to Durango I headed for some help. I met up with Chad Wells and a couple of girls from the Fort Lewis College and he gave us a quick lesson on the mechanics of throwing the leg and where to grab the bike when jumping off, then we practiced in the grass and then gradually made our way to the barriers. It wasn’t pretty but I managed to slowly dismount, make it over the barriers and then back on, a small goal obtained.

After a couple of weeks and lots of practicing, lots of falls and more bruises than I can count, I wanted to go back to Durango to try my hand again, this time at the practice races. I was nervous, even if it was practice I like to see how far I can push myself and I didn’t want to embarrass myself or interfere with someone else’s rhythm.  I was slow, sloppy, choppy and wasted so much energy trying to make it all come together.  But over the next three days of these practice  races, I became more fluid, more efficient, more comfortable pushing myself to the limit and still managing to make it over the barriers. 

It is a different hurt but like Rebecca Much said, it is so much fun hurting that bad when it is cyclocross. 

So here goes, my first pro cyclocross season, my first race this weekend and I can’t wait.  So come  back in a week or so and check out the progress of the team and see if I survived my first race.

Sept. 22, 2009

I’m driving to Las Vegas to watch the cyclocross race that my team is participating in. I was supposed to race but I’m still pretty bruised from the crash in St. Louis so I will watch from the sidelines and cheer my team on and hopefully learn a thing or two! Another huge event going on in Las Vegas this week is Interbike. 


Interbike is a convention with anyone and everyone in the cycling community there to share all the new, latest and greatest in bikes, gear, products, etc.  I’m hoping to have time to go check out everything and hopefully run into a couple of friends/sponsors and give my thanks! 


I’m itching to get out and ride my new Blue cyclocross bikes, I’m still getting parts together to finish the bikes so I can give it a try:) The weather is turning cooler here, so that means cross races are about to really get cranking. I will post more later, check back in to see how I’m doing!

Sept. 8, 2009

I’m in St. Louis participating in the women’s series and it is 4 days of criteriums (short races, 45 minutes, Nascar-like, lots of corners, fast and super close to each other). The first race was Friday night and it was a perfect evening and some racers had some interesting lights on their bikes for fun! The race was fast and fun because of the shadows, you were kind of  thrown off but that made it all the more fun!  The crowd was wonderful and everyone was really cheering us on. The last 2 laps are so fast, you are pushing as hard as you can and then you have to think about sprinting when you have nothing left and it just takes everything you have!  Team TIBCO was making the pace so hard, as usual, for their sprinter Brooke Miller and I was close behind them.  I ended up getting 7th! My best finish all year! I was really excited.

The next criterium was Saturday afternoon in another part of town, again, a great showing of support from St. Louis, the crowds were wonderful! This crit was a lot like the one on Friday night, fast and lots of people trying to get some things going but we all pretty much stayed together.  Sometimes teams try to get a “break” with a specific rider in the break and hopefully for a small moment in time, if each team is represented in the break it will usually stay off the front and the others in the chase group will slow down because it is bad etiquette to chase down your own team.  At one point I saw a break and each team was represented and you don’t have a lot of time to think about trying to get to that break, so I went, all by myself.  It is so hard because you have to push with everything you have to get there, then try to maintain that high speed! But as I got to their break, I guess teams weren’t happy with what was there so they all just started riding real slow(soft pedaling) to wait for the main group to catch back up.  That all happened with about 7 laps to go, so I had really put a lot of energy into that, so trying to finish strong would be really hard.  But I hung in there and I haven’t seen results but I’m hoping for top 20, we will see. 

Today, we have another criterium and then another one in the morning and then I fly back to Colorado.  The weather has been ok, it started raining yesterday morning which makes racing very interesting.  Think about going 25-30mph on a bicycle with tires less than an inch wide, on city streets, cornering hard! Yes, it is dangerous so you hope everyone is doing their best to keep it upright but sometimes it just doesn’t work with 50 people trying to win a race




Sept. 1, 2009

I’m headed to St. Louis this weekend for four days of criteriums. Then in September I’m starting cyclocross racing for the pro team Hudz-Subaru and my first race will be in Las Vegas (Cross Vegas), the biggest cross race in the country. And I’ve NEVER done cyclocross! Apparently there is a lot of technique! So we will see, I’m hoping the soccer skills will play a big factor here.

Aug. 26, 2009

“I did Cascade Cycling Classic July 21-26 as a guest rider for the professional team ValucAct Capital.  My job was to be a “worker bee.” My job was to chase down riders trying to sprint off the front, bring our riders to the front and protect them from the wind or  bring up water bottles from the team car, which was a big one. When you have a race consisting of 120 riders, trying to

Click here for the U.S. Women’s Cycling Development Program

filter back to the back of the group and then wait for your team car to come through about 15 cars to get to you, it takes some time and in that  time individuals can try to attack off the front and the speeds can get real intense really fast, so I figured if anyone could be sacrificed for the team, why not me right?! We had two girls on the team, Chrissy Ruiter and Kristen McGrath that were in contention for general classification (GC) of being in the top 3 for sure, so we made sure they were always at the front  ready for anything that came at us.  Plus, once you get to the car, then you have to fill your jersey with water bottles and then head back to the front of the pack. I think I can carry 7 bottles back to the front and that weight adds up after you’ve been racing 50 miles.

“Anyway, the team did well overall. On three days we had one of our teammates on the podium and our team got 2 in team classification overall. I did my job and hopefully the team will ask me back for more racing, or maybe to sign a contract is what I’m hoping.

“So Nationals was the following week, so most of the racers, me included stayed in Bend, Ore., until the following Thursday, when road and time trial nationals were. I was really tired from Cascade racing so I didn’t do well in either races but I had to do them seeing that I’ve never been to Nationals before and it was a beautiful experience and I had a great time meeting the girls I met.  I got to spend time with Mara Abbott, she is one of the best riders in the world, racing for Columbia High-Road and she is just a hoot!

“I’m back in Colorado training for more criteriums in St. Louis, Missouri on Labor Day weekend and I’m also joining a professional cyclo-cross team, Hudz-Subaru for the fall.  Cyclo-cross is a mix between road racing and mountain biking, the bike looks like a road bike but has mountain bike, like components and the race is held in grass, mud and sand and has barriers that you have to get off the bike and run and jump over, right up my alley coming from soccer and all.”