A Girl and Her Bicycle

There are emails I will keep forever. For example, the one where my coach introduced me to the higher ups at Dimond as an “Elite Age-Grouper” is one of those once in a lifetime, need to keep it forever emails. I haven’t printed it out and bedazzled it for my scrapbook or put it on my vision board, yet, but the kind folks at Google are keeping it safely tucked away on their Gmail server for future self-esteem affirming reference. Coincidentally, I had already made the decision to buy a Dimond bike, but when she told me my name came up as a potential new member of the Smash-Dimond team, my heart stopped, and I just about hit the floor. Honestly, it was a good thing I was sitting at my desk at the time, because my knees might have given out if I was standing up, and this big girl has a long way to fall. Clearly, I was thrilled. However, the cool part about it was that I felt like I earned that invitation; I was ready.

Miraculously, I am married to a man who mirrors my ambitions. Marion works very hard, we both do. That will never stop. We work in an industry that requires grinders, and we are both grinders. It is what it is, and will never change, and that’s why I love it. Moreover, there is money to be made in the entertainment business, but not without sacrificing a pound of flesh, and about seventy-seven pounds of blood, sweat, and tears. And we do just fine, better than fine, but we do not own a fancy house, or as my dad affectionately and accurately calls it, “your box in the valley.” Yep, it is nothing special, except that it is our home, it is where our dogs run free every day, and we rest our wary heads every night, but most importantly, why we choose to live here, is because it is minutes from foothills where I can ride safely and effectively every day. Moreover, the highest priority in my life today is my health, and because training falls in the category of health, both physical and mental, if I am not healthy, I cannot be helpful to anyone else. Therefore, we live where I can train safely and effectively.

 Scenes from a Saturday ride in my gorgeous 'hood. 

Scenes from a Saturday ride in my gorgeous 'hood. 

As I have previously mentioned, I didn’t work for seven years. More specifically, I did not collect a paycheck for seven years, but I was working every single day, (parenthood). Through it all I had to fit in my passion for triathlon appropriately wherever I could. It felt as if I was able to hum my favorite tune for those seven years, but I could not sing it out. Then as fate would have it, Hannah turned sixteen, became a licensed driver, and didn’t need me anymore. Suddenly, I was allowed to fully re-connect to the part of my identity that was not lost, but was thrust lower on the totem pole of priorities while I was working my #1 gig, but soon I was back at work full-time, and realizing that triathlon was much more important to me than I ever imagined. It felt like that scene in Clueless where Cher, (Alicia Silverstone), is walking on the path along Santa Monica Blvd. and has the revelation next to the fountain on the corner of Wilshire blvd. that she loves Josh.

 I used to run along that path, and pass that fountain every day when I lived in West Hollywood back in my swingin’ single days. I miss WEHO…

I used to run along that path, and pass that fountain every day when I lived in West Hollywood back in my swingin’ single days. I miss WEHO…

Meanwhile, a big section of the triathlon learning curve that I have bumped along fairly spectacularly is the second and longest leg of triathlon, the bike. I have always believed that I am a runner who happens to really, really enjoy riding bikes. In my opinion, there is truly no better carefree sensation than pedaling as fast as you can on a bike. It could be riding to and from work on a rusted 1980’s 10-Speed, up and down a self-made rutted backyard dirt track on a BMX bike, screaming down a muddied single-track on a shock-stocked mountain bike, or leaning down in the bars of on an expertly fit, American hand-made triathlon bike rolling alongside the Pacific ocean. They are all fantastic options, and I have experienced them all, but my favorite is riding the triathlon bike.

You know when you know. Those words are so clichéd, but so true. I have ridden many fantastic bicycles in my life, but I never knew what I was missing until I rode my Dimond.

Indeed, there were a handful of noble bikes that championed me over the first decade of my triathlon career that deserve a sincere shout out, so here we go: First, there was my aluminum Giant that I bought in 2004 at the now defunct Supergo bike shop in Santa Monica. I had no idea what I was doing back then, but I walked out of that bike shop with a new bike, and most of the pricey goodies that go along with saddling up: shoes, cleats, kits, (the tight/aerodynamic outfits we all begrudgingly wear to “fit in” and ride more comfortably), a helmet, sunglasses, computer, extra tubes, a pump, socks, sunscreen, etc. Whew! I think I bought a bike rack that I never used, too. I trained and raced on that bike for about three years until I mustered up the courage to make the smart/expensive decision to buy a carbon bike.

 I handed this bike down to other newbies, and pictured here is my brother Bo riding it in his first Olympic distance triathlon, the Big Rock Tri, in 2010.

I handed this bike down to other newbies, and pictured here is my brother Bo riding it in his first Olympic distance triathlon, the Big Rock Tri, in 2010.

Once again, my overzealous naiveté overwhelmed my monetary steady nature, and I bought an over-sized Specialized Roubaix with clip-on aerobars. That bike was incredible, it carried me through two Ironmans, but was still not quite right.

 Bike-In from Ironman, Louisville, 2008. Excellent helmet placement.

Bike-In from Ironman, Louisville, 2008. Excellent helmet placement.

Next, I was ready for a more serious/aggressive bike, and thankfully found a great deal on a Trek Equinox TT bike. That bike is amazing. After getting an impeccable fit, and changing out the front end to make it as aero as possible, it has been my steady steed for the last seven years. It supported me over eight Ironmans, and continues to sit proudly in our “great room” on my trainer, but we both knew it was time for me to move on.

 The final race on my Trek, the HITS Half-Ironman this past December.

The final race on my Trek, the HITS Half-Ironman this past December.

I have been following the Dimond story since its head engineer and CEO TJ Tollakson raced on a 2001 Zipp bike at the Eagleman 70.3 triathlon in 2011. I knew he was a smart and crafty fellow, and assumed there must be something interesting cooking behind the scenes for him to ride that bike. Indeed, there was.

 TJ Tollakson pedaling the 2001 Zipp in 2011.

TJ Tollakson pedaling the 2001 Zipp in 2011.

TJ and his team at Dimond transformed the Zipp “Beam” frame into the masterful Dimond frame, and introduced it to the world in late 2013. Since then, a wise and fortunate group of professional and age-group triathletes have ridden their gems in super-fast times, because it is truly a Super-bike. If you would like to learn more about Dimond’s history from the source, I suggest you read their story on the company website here:

https://www.dimondbikes.com/about/

When I started working with my coach Hillary Biscay again this past September, I was willing to go all in with triathlon both emotionally and financially, and I knew that I wanted to buy a new triathlon bike before the end of the year, but I was not certain if the Dimond was the right choice for me. Then after spending the remaining months of the year pouring over research of many different bikes, and receiving a pep talk from our accountant, I was ready to pull the trigger on buying a Dimond. Concurrently, I was performing well in the triathlons and half marathons that I had been racing, consistently placing on the podium, so I knew investing in a Dimond would only increase my speed and chances to reach my triathlon goals. Next, Hillary sent me that momentous email I mentioned earlier to be a member of Smash-Dimond, the all women team of professional and elite age-group triathletes who represent Hillary’s apparel company Smash, and ride on Dimond bikes. Game on.

The process of getting my Dimond in my hot little hands did not happen overnight. The time and energy was justified because the bikes are hand-made and have a custom Smash-Dimond paint job. As soon as the frame did arrive, I needed to have the expert techs at Serious Cycling assemble it, and then I needed to be properly fit for the bike.

 Yours truly during my bike fit at Serious Cycling.

Yours truly during my bike fit at Serious Cycling.

My new Dimond, Simone, named after the singer/songwriter Paul Simon, (because one of my favorite songs is Diamonds on the Souls of her Shoes from his legendary album, Graceland), was finally ready to ride for real last Saturday. I took her out with a few of my Smash teammates, one of which is a fellow Dimond rider, and we rode from Malibu, up and over a few climbs, and back down to the sea. It was glorious. Also, it was by far the most comfortable, quick, and kick ass bike ride I have ever been on. Dimonds truly are a girl's best friend. 

Simone is special, I am certain that every Dimond is special, and I look forward to the many adventures we will share together in triathlon races, and roads around the world for many years to come.

 This is my parent's back yard in Palos Verdes, which I figured was a proper location for Simone's first photo shoot.

This is my parent's back yard in Palos Verdes, which I figured was a proper location for Simone's first photo shoot.