Q&A with Lauren Hall
Posted: February 9th, 2020
“Ride your bike, eat good food, have fun.”
Let’s get one thing straight, Lauren Hall did not grow up on a bike. In fact, didn’t even own one until her 20s—which is not the typical track for a former pro cyclist who competed in five World Championships. But then again, this is a microcosm of Lauren’s life, indicative of how the road has unfolded before her…even if it wasn’t planned. She is a Mississippi native, retired now from professional cycling, yet an advocate for all things cycling, especially, working for USA Cycling Foundation and mentoring up-and-coming female cyclists through a program called (Homestretch) Home Stretch Foundation in Tucson. She is also a self-professed ambassador of happiness—which makes her the ideal attendee for CampoVelo May 1st through 3rd, at which she can mingle, tell her story, hear the stories of others, and have great time eating good and, of course, riding her bike. We are most fortunate to have been able to spend a little time with Lauren recently, asking her about life before and after racing, and her soon-to-be second trip to CampoVelo.
So Lauren, you career path to cycling was an unusual trajectory compared to most competitive riders. Tell us about that.
That is very true. I had never contemplated being a professional cyclists. I had never even been into a bike store until I was in my late 20s. I actually had grown up playing soccer and my goal was to play professionally. My grandfather dad was a professional football player on the very first San Francisco 49ers team. So I guess I had a natural inclination to field sports. I played soccer in college at Mississippi State and then some semi-pro, but it didn’t really pan out like I’d hoped.
So what was Plan B?
Well I didn’t really have one, but I came up with one on the fly never said this ‘on the fly’. A lot happened in the next couple years to drive me toward cycling. Long story short, I went to culinary school and started running. I started running alot and eventually worked up to marathons I ran ONE marathon. After that, I started thinking what’s next? Triathlons. I’ll work toward that. But I’m going to need a bike. I was a total novice on the bike. So I started doing group rides with people from the bike store and really got into it. Started sprinting. Putting in the work and started racing with the Louisiana and Mississippi Bicycle Racing League Association, LAMBRA. By the end if my first year I raced in the Criterium Nationals. It felt good to be on a team again and I was really liking the racing each weekend with friends.
So how and when did you make the jump to pro cycling?
It’s funny, a friend of mine Googled “Women’s Professional Cycling.” This is how I ended up in Colorado. I was offered a spot on Amber’s team via a coaching connection, for Redlands Bicycle Classic. And by chance, it turned out the former World Time Trial Champion Amber Neben was looking for people to join her team, offering guest spots. I made the team and on the first day I got time cut, but having Amber there to help talk me through it was great. It was eye-opening and I found out I needed to go back and train a whole lot more.
Well it must have worked out because you spent the next decade racing and having some successes.
Yep, it was a lot of fun, met a lot of great people, got to travel, had some success, and just be part of a team.
You retired about two years ago? How has that been? Do you miss it?
It’s been a challenge. I miss the singular goal of trying to always get better. I was very focused and it was easy to measure success by the goals you set—there was a feeling of accomplishment. In the regular work world, it’s not so black and white. But I am really enjoying working with USA Cycling Foundation and Home Stretch Foundation, to help up-and-coming cyclists get to the Olympics and World Championships. That is gratifying. I also get to run more now and go the gym. So that’s cool.
Looking back, what was your favorite thing about cycling.
Oh it was definitely the camaraderie. Being able to meet people and share something like that and build bonds over time, that was something I’m very grateful for. And to be honest, that’s what I like best about CampoVelo: meeting new people and hearing their stories and just a few days to ride and eat and make new friends.
Well that was a perfect segue. That was my next question…to get your thoughts on CampoVelo. You’re coming for a second year so I guess that means you had a good time last year.
Absolutely. It was a blast. And I’m very excited to be going this year. From what I hear it’s going to be awesome. To me, it’s just a great atmosphere, with no pressure. We can go on a 50-mile ride on some beautiful with gorgeous scenery and then come back and eat some incredible cuisine and socialize. You know: ride your bike, eat good food, have fun. It’s like camp for adults.