I'm really lucky to live in Asheville: we're nestled deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, have brilliant changing leaves that tourists flock to each fall and miles and miles of beautiful yet tough roads to get lost on (literally) either running or cycling. That's why when I lucked out into learning about a new venture to be based in my backyard, I wholeheartedly said YES! First Bourn is going to launch next summer starting in the Asheville area, with the goal of expanding to other destination training locations, like Boulder, Tucson and other places along the parkway. The plan is that it will be a series of villages for everyone from elite athletes to the weekend warrior looking for a training community with a focus on endurance and outdoor sports (i.e. triathlon). It also opened me up to my new favorite saying to "explain" Asheville to those not from the area, "Boulder East": if you haven't been to Asheville it's a similar feel of outdoor living mixed with artsy and free spirits (hint: drum circles are fairly common).
After meeting Michael, (one of) the brains behind the idea, while out in Kona, he invited a few of us in the area to come out for a few activities for two back-to-back, AMAZING weekends to explore the area, brainstorm the future of First Bourn and then to take some promo photos!
About three weeks back, we had a great crew come together for an afternoon ride up Mt Mitchell that included a serious crew of amazing athletes: Kelly, Meghan, Marni and her husband Karel. It was windy and chilly and some folks missed the turn up the mountain and I was in my 11-23 rear cassette from Kona (not ideal for climbing...) but it was a BLAST! Compared to my normal solo ascents up the mountain, I got to ride alongside with everyone at different points and chat and get to know some fabulous other ladies that I'm hoping will be great to train with once we're past all of our fall Ironmans!
We then spent an entire day and later dinner imagining the future of First Bourn and what some of the villages would include and to really hear Michael and Franko's vision for this community they are building. I can't really go into the details but am SO incredibly inspired and can only imagine that this is going to blow up once launched: from pro athletes traveling for races to people looking for a weekend escape, all the way to a hub for training camps and destination experiences. And, honestly, I believe that they picked the right place to start in Asheville (though, I'm biased for sure!)
The next weekend was even MORE exciting, despite the fact that it DUMPED about 7-inches of snow in my backyard across Friday night and all day Saturday, leaving me without power for most of the day on Saturday! While the story of how that left me to do a 4-hour trainer ride in the dark without any entertainment is another story for another day, this was what Lucy and I woke up to:
November 1st, y'all. But looks like I only got so much snow living in the boonies and it didn't actually stick in town. I bundled up to drive through this, before heading to the photo shoot, praying I packed enough warm clothes.
We went to about three different locations, taking running shots (running is slow-mo is SO awkward), bike shots, group shots and some solo shots. It was really interesting seeing this side of the experience and just pretending to be a model... sort of. ;)
Here are the Fillnow ladies in action mountain biking along the French Broad river,
While we later drove up to the Parkway, where this was the scene. It was closed to traffic and everyone was walking up along the closed parkway—the juxtaposition of crisp fall leaves on the road with snow packed alongside was amazing!
Some photos by the photog (courtesy of First Bourn facebook page):
While I wasn't happy about that 4-hours of boredom on the trainer the day before, the little bit of riding I did on the Parkway made me happy that I enjoyed the session inside and toasty instead of dealing with the ice and frozen toes. Still, I briefly pretended to be hardcore as I pulled my bike out for a few photos :)
At the end of both weekends, it was amazing to me that First Bourn and Michael brought us all on for this high caliber of an experience and I was particularly blown away at how invested they were in doing things correctly, really considering feedback from their athletes and striving to make it a best-in-class experience and community. That's why I've decided to work with First Bourn as my very first official sponsor as a professional triathlete and why you'll see me sporting some FB temporary tattoos this weekend at Ironman Arizona.
On that note, one of the more surreal things for me across these experiences was introducing myself and why I was there. Obviously my next step is exploring life as a professional triathlete but in my mind I'm having trouble grasping that—my perception hasn't caught up to reality! Getting to share my story really got me excited about this opportunity but also other opportunities down the road as I develop my skills and my "brand" through the companies I choose to associate with. And if you couldn't tell from this post, I certainly think I'm starting off on the right foot!
And that's ME! on the First Bourn website, if you didn't check it out—good times on the Blue Ridge Parkway!