Specialized Women’s Ambassador Summit

Thursday! We are finally here!

House 2

I arrived first to the house, but was soon joined by Olivia and Heather. Then, I met Cheryl and Carrie. We went to dinner at Crow’s Nest. When we returned from dinner, Jennifer and Stephanie had arrived. We stayed up late and chatted about bikes, racing, and all of the excitement were feeling in regards to the summit.






Friday morning!

The next morning we got up early and rode out to Specialized’s headquarters in Morgan Hill. Amy was our driver and she took us on the most spectacular ride through gorgeous, twisting roads. Then we arrived at the headquarters. I felt like I had arrived in cycling heaven!


Specialized HQ front

We went on a tour of the building soon after we arrived. I was like a kid at Christmas! I still couldn’t believe that we were here!




















As we were walking through the building, we met with CEO and founder of Specialized Mike Sinyard.



After our tour, we met to discuss the Specialized Women’s brand products. I learned so much. Thanks to Erin, Rita, and Olivia for introducing me to all of Specialized’s amazing women’s products! 🙂

Then, we had our Body Geometry bike fits. I had been so looking forward to meeting my new road bike (and the wait was well worth it) and get an awesome fit. Julie Bates was the person who did my fitting. It turns out we have friends in common (two of our friends in Durham moved here from San Francisco and they knew Julie!)–it really is a small world!

I learned so much about how a bike should fit. I recommend that everyone get a Body Geometry fit. It’s the best thing you can do for your riding.

bike fit

After our fits, we had lunch and then headed to a social media session with Catalina, Specialized’s social media guru. We learned the do’s and don’ts of social media use. We were all very inspired to get started and used Instagram to upload our photos (of which there were many). Thanks also to Jon for all of your helpful advice.


Our time at Specialized concluded with a Women’s Ambassador Happy Hour. I got to meet so many wonderful people. Everyone seems to really enjoy their jobs and lives in California.

Then we headed back to the beach house, or what we lovingly referred to as the Real World house! After changing clothes and dropping off stuff, we headed to a fantastic dinner at Bantam.

This was the day I had been waiting for! We started out the day getting ready for our bike rides. I was so excited about riding through Santa Cruz! I rode with Carrie, Stephanie, Catalina, and Erin.

We rode out from the house and through the downtown area and then headed into the mountains. It was beautiful! When we entered our first climb, I knew that I was in over my head. I’m not used to the kinds of climbs that I experienced on this ride. We rode through Highway 9 and saw some exceptional views of mountain bike trails, redwoods, and other beautiful scenery. I learned the definition of suffering on the bike as there were sections of the climb that were far steeper than anything that I have ever experienced. I had Catalina encouraging me the entire time, even when I was freaking out about not be able to make it. At the top of the climb, I was greeted by my own cheering squad as Carrie, Erin, and Stephanie cheered my up the last part of the climb, with Catalina right by my side. It was inspiring to see how strong this group of women cyclists is! It has convinced me to really focus on my climbing. We ended up climbing across the entire ride a little over 3800 ft.–more climbing than I probably did during the entire last year of my riding!

The descents were amazing, despite the rain and cold we encountered. I felt like a 10-year-old riding a bike! We concluded our ride with a nice trek over Highway 1! I loved all of it–the challenges, the beauty, the fun, and the camaraderie.

We got back to the house and showered then headed to lunch at The Buttery. The food was delicious! Then we went to learn how to stand up paddle boarding at the SUP Shack. There we met a very feisty and fun woman named Trudy who taught us all we needed to know. However, one thing she couldn’t teach me was coordination! 🙂 I never quite got the hang of standing up, so I spent most of my time paddle boarding on my knees. The experience was great regardless and we saw many sea lions in the harbor while out.

After our experiences with SUP, we all ventured out into the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean. Jen and Erin decided to jump in completely, while the rest of us ventured out to about our knees.


beach 2

That night, we headed to dinner at Laili. Our time in California was drawing to a close.

Sunday–headed home

We headed to breakfast at Harbor Cafe. Delicious food once again. Then we headed back to the house and all took our transportation to the airport. It was so hard to believe that it was over!

This was by far the most life changing experience that I’ve ever had in my life. It brought me back to focus in my cycling and sharing the love of it with other women. I admire and deeply respect all of the amazing people I met while I was there. Specialized is a company very near and dear to my heart.

I’m excited to start a year of empowering women to ride their bikes!


About Mandy Gallagher

USA Cycling Level 2 Coach, Training Peaks University Graduate, Certified Power Based Training
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