Dawn Lovejoy

Dawn Lovejoy
racing cyclist, Team Priority Health
coach, trainer, Vento Training, LLC
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tottered on: 10 October 2008
Temperature: 69 F
Ceiling: sunny
Ground: overlong grass
Wind: E at 2 mph

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TT with HD: Dawn Lovejoy

HD: Hey, welcome to the teeter totter!

DL: I'm delighted to be here!

HD: So you said you didn't have a long ride over--were you were over at the Y[MCA]?

DL: No, I was at my house, and I live over by Mallek's Marathon station.

HD: Oh! Now that's at the Y in the road? [Ed. note: WB Huron splits into Jackson and Dexter Roads.]

DL: Yes. And I live on Dexter--on the corner of Dexter and Westwood. Do you know where Maryfield Park is?

HD: No. That's the name of the park, Maryfield Park? One word, Maryfield?

DL: Yes.

HD: That's named after somebody I guess?

DL: It must be. That's a good question. I've lived there for years and I have never wondered! [laugh] It's the Maryfield Park.

HD: So, you didn't actually race at the Priority Health Criterium [bicycle race on 7 September 2008].

DL: Correct.

HD: So I'm wondering, have you done any races since then?

DL: Yeah, there was kind of a rogue race on Labor Day. No, no after that. There was a rogue race.

HD: Rogue with "G" [Ed. note: the contrast would be with "road" ... HD is not being pedantic.]?

DL: Yes. Correct.

HD: So, this sounds vaguely illegal?

DL: Yeah, it's done without any permission or anything like that, it's just cobbled together.

HD: For something like that do you actually wear the Priority Health jerseys? Or is that something that you ...

DL: ... Yes! I did! It's a race, right? [laugh]

HD: So what was the route?

DL: It was a dirt road course--a 5K dirt road course.

HD: Okay. So 5K total, start to finish, or was that the loop?

DL: That was the loop. We did six loops.

HD: And how did the team fare? And how did you fare personally?

DL: I won that one.

HD: Wow!

DL: Actually, it was really good course for me.

HD: So what made it a particularly good course for you?

DL: It was relatively flat. [laugh] And it's just the kind of thing where you just go, you just go hard and you just continue to go hard. There wasn't a whole lot of strategy involved in it. You go hard, and that's ...

HD: So did you just get an early gap and then ...

DL: ... no! I started really badly. Because I was just really kinda screwin' off and I was talking to somebody behind me, and it started, and I was like Whoa, we're going! And I spent the whole first lap just catching on. It was like Waaaah! It was really fast, and so it was lots of fun. Lots of fun. I used the bike that I came here on today--I used my cross bike. If you look at them, the tires are kind of rectangular, which are great in a straight line, but for cornering, you kind of hit that ridge right there, so it's a little hair-raising. [laugh]

HD: But you stayed upright through the whole course?

DL: I did. But I was in all sorts of different positions. But I did stay upright.

HD: But I mean did it come down to a sprint finish that you won, or did you get a gap before that?

DL: No, I had a gap at the beginning of the second lap, so I was just able to kind of stay with that.

HD: So did you have people on your team in the group behind just not cooperating so that you could stay away, or? Did team tactics like that play a role at all?

DL: No. The nature of the race, it was really more of a frenzy than anything else, a free-for-all. It was a joyful experience. [laugh]

HD: So what did you win for your victory?

DL: Cherry jam.

HD: Was it like special jam?

DL: Homemade cherry jam. With an awesome logo. I was able to select my prize, and what I wanted was the label on the jam. I mean, I wanted the jam, too-- actually I just finished it off today. [laugh] But I really wanted the logo because the logo is super cool.

HD: So is it a jam company, or does somebody make this stuff?

DL: No, it's a friend of mine Wendy Caldwell who makes the jam, and she's an artist, too. So my whole focus really was to get that jam.

HD: So has she ever entered that jam in the Downtown Home and Garden jam contest?

DL: I don't think so.

HD: Because they have that every year.

DL: I don't think she has. It's really good jam, too.

HD: So she makes it from Michigan cherries, does she?

DL: Yeah. It's fantastic. I haven't found anything of hers that doesn't taste good.

HD: So, you coordinate the YMCA spinning program? Am I understanding that correctly?

DL: I do that, and I'm a trainer there also.

HD: I notice on the website that "spinning" now goes under the name of "studio cycling"?

DL: Yes.

HD: When did that transition take place?

DL: Spinning® is a trademark, unless you are Spinning® then everything else is "indoor cycling" or "studio cycling". Commonly everybody always think of it as "spinning".

HD: Right.

DL: Indoor cycling just doesn't roll off your tongue very smoothly.

HD: It doesn't sound at all appealing. I have to say that the Advanced Studio Cycling, which goes 75-80 minutes ...

DL: ... it's 90 minutes long.

HD: Yeah okay, an hour and a half indoors--I've done that before, and I haven't enjoyed any of it.

HD: It does sound really strange when you say it like that--90 minutes. I mean you're not in your basement. It is kind of a surreal experience.

HD: Are you one of the people who has a microphone, and who is up there in front yelling at people to go harder and faster?

DL: No. I mean, I have a microphone, but I don't yell. No, I don't yell. And the beauty of the microphone is I don't have to yell, I can talk.

HD: But in a harsh tone though, right?

DL: No, I don't like harsh tones. [laugh] I think harsh tones are bad. You can talk about coaching, and different people respond to different kinds of coaching. Some people really kind of like some verbal abuse. That works for them.

HD: So can you dish that out okay?

DL: You know, I do some things at other businesses around town, and there's a gentleman I work with, he doesn't mind. And in fact he kind of likes being verbally abused to a degree, and razzed. But we didn't just move to that when I started working with him. We've now known each other a couple of years and get kind of worked up to that kind of mutual abuse, where it can be friendly and you know have, and it can be more camaraderie, or you can motivate each other.

But to just to go in and start yelling at somebody, you know, that's really not my style. And the whole exercise thing in teaching at a gym, at a facility, I really think that you have to kind of remove yourself from what you're doing. You just have to figure out what the other person needs. And so the challenge is figuring out what the other person needs.

You have to intuit things, you have to figure out the vocabulary--you have to discover all sorts of different ways to describe one thing. You can't always say one thing, because somebody might identify with it, but somebody else might not, especially in a group setting. So I think it's really important to the experience to give all the information, ...

HD: ... so what's like an example of a vocabulary distinction? I mean, are you talking about describing levels of effort?

DL: Intensity, yeah. Because you know everybody is in charge of their own bike. If we are going to do the same ride, which is kind of weird anyway, because we're not moving anywhere, right? We have to kind of develop a language so that we can talk about the kind of ride we're on. And then you have a knob where you could change the resistance, so that's one part of it. But then another part is, What kind of experience do you want this to be? Are you taking it easy that day? Do you want to work really really really hard? Or something in between? And what's the purpose of those things? Being able to describe both of those things is very important.

HD: So, I'm wondering, I mean you guys are still sponsored by Priority Health even through the winter time, right? I mean this is not like a sponsorship that exists just for a summer season, or just for that race?

DL: No, that's correct. And at this time of year there is a lot of stuff getting ready for next year, lining up sponsorship for next year, to find out what our sponsors are, to find out who our sponsors are, we want to identify that we can give the sponsors what they want, to identify what the races are ...

HD: ... so what would be an example of something of sponsor would want that you would not be sure you'd be able to give? Just attendance at a race, or?

DL: Sometimes it could be on, say, a given date February on a Tuesday they want four people at 9:30 in the morning. It's kind of tricky ...

HD: ... to do what?

DL: Oh, good question. Maybe they're having a health and wellness fair at their company. And they want to have these people come in and talk to them about health and wellness. And we are brought out as "living commercials" so to speak ...

HD: ... "specimens"?

DL: [laugh] Maybe that's more appropriate! So, yeah, specimens.

HD: A vocabulary issue, perhaps!

DL: [laugh] That's a good one. So, as specimens of living well and eating right. It used to be with sponsorhip that you would receive X amount and then you could use it as you want. And now a lot of sponsors, they have more expectations. And I think it's fantastic, actually. They get more for their sponsor dollar. And it creates a different kind of relationship between whom they're sponsoring and the sponsor. And also you get to be more involved in things that usually athletes are pretty passionate about.

HD: So you end up having a richer understanding of what Priority Health does, as opposed to just, Oh, those are the people who give us our jerseys.

DL: Exactly.

HD: All right. So would you have any like clout with them as to how they might put on next year's race? Assuming that they put on the same race next year? Because if you do, my $.02 would be that in addition to the kids race at noon--which is kind of the break between the actual races--they should invite people with bicycle trailers, and you could have a hauling competition.

DL: Oh, a hauling competition, I thought you were going to have kids in the little trailers! [laugh]

HD: No, I think there would be liability issues there. There could be like, just a drag race with trailers down Main Street.

DL: Yeah that's a great idea. Actually, it's pretty much a done deal that they're going to have it next year.

HD: So do you know what that is contingent on?

DL: This race in Ann Arbor didn't have a beginner's race. And I think that they would like that, I think they really wanted to have that. Because part of what they are doing is encouraging people to get healthy. But they didn't have something that beginners can do. So they realized that doesn't speak to it.

HD: But the actual course, to me that's really not a beginner's course, right?

DL: Yeah, but what happens usually is that people ride basically at the pace that they ride at. And a lot of times the beginner races you're not going to be in a position where you are with people who are going really fast around corners and their abilities are much better, because they are faster than you are. So you won't be riding with them.

HD: So there's kind of like a natural selection.

DL: Right. If you're nervous about the way that somebody's riding, and that happens, then you just don't ride with them. You move away. Just as when you're driving. I know you do drive once in a while, or you have driven ...

HD: ... yeah, especially on like a long interstate trip when you notice that there's somebody ...

DL: ... exactly. You can just say, Oh, I want that person to get by me.

HD: Right, you just let them go by, and they'll just go away maybe.

DL: There's some battles are just not worth fighting for. And a lot of times your first races tend to be with yourself, or one or two others who are of like ability. Actually, your race didn't sound like that at all.

HD: Oh, the one that I described to you where I miscounted the laps? Yeah, that was pretty humiliating. That was the last race I ever did, I think. It was pretty bad.

DL: And a lot of first-time race experiences are filled with things like that. I say "first-time races experiences," but it happens all the time. I mean it happens in the Tour [de France] stages, you see people who think think they have won, and they throw their arms up, and somebody rides past them and wins that day's stage. And that happens every year.

HD: That's not quite the same as miscounting laps and winning the next-to-last lap.

DL: [laugh] Well, that happens though.

HD: And then there's this whole 'nother lap that you have to endure.

DL: But it happens all the time.

HD: Well, that makes me feel somewhat better.

DL: When you lay it on the line in anything, there's always experiences that are embarrassing and that is just part of trying something.

HD: Well, it makes a good story now, I can laugh about it now, but that was like 20 years ago. So is there anything else that you wanted to make sure we covered while we're out here on the teeter totter?

DL: Well, I'm curious about the teeter totter. Yeah, I am curious about the teeter totter.

HD: I will tell you anything that you would like to know.

DL: How did it start?

HD: Well I built this one as a wedding anniversary present for our 15th wedding anniversary.

DL: Oh, that's really romantic.

HD: I thought so. I thought it was way better than anything you could go out and buy jewelry-wise. And yeah so eventually I hit on the idea that I could share the teeter totter with the rest of the community because there are no more teeter totters in the public school playgrounds, or in the public parks anymore.

DL: Right, right.

HD: Due to liability concerns. So yeah, it has sort of evolved from that.

DL: And then you have the traveling teeter totter?

HD: Yes. I always had in the back of my mind to build one that I could haul around with my bicycle. But the particular timing of building it was actually a function of one of the alums of the teeter totter, Zach London.

It's hard to describe what it is, but he converts his entire house every year into the equivalent of a fort that you might build out of a couch and some cushions and pillows. So he drapes sheets from the ceilings and along the walls, and you can't tell what his house looks like on the inside, and he creates these themed rooms. Last year he wanted a teeter totter themed room. And I think it was actually maybe some miscommunication--he wasn't really asking me to build a teeter totter, but I did anyway. And that was the centerpiece of his teeter totter themed room. Which he actually called the Totters of the American Revolution. And I basically stole that and that was the name of the Fourth of July float that I had this last summer. So it's all a Zach's fault. So there you have it. That's sort of the history of the two totters. Does that satisfy your curiosity?

DL: I don't know if it satisfies it. It answers some questions.

HD: Well one of the perks of being an alum--you live really close, right?

DL: Right. So you can just come back here and ride any time. And if I'm around I'll ride with you, but if you don't want to take the risk, you'll have to bring your own teeter tottering partner.

DL: I understand. Well, this has been very delightful thank you very much!

HD: Thanks for coming!