By Jen See
If you were watching the road events carefully last week at the Sea Otter Classic, you might have noticed something new and different in the women's field. Ally Stacher, riding for Specialized-lululemon, was wearing a new kit. Gone were the usual black-and-white stripes. Instead, Stacher's sported an eye-catching floral print jersey. Her HED race wheels were styled to match.
The new, floral print is a special edition project brewed up by the Specialized-lululemon team and their sponsors. "We had discussions about designing a new kit this year, but we decided to keep it the same," Specialized-lululemon owner Kristy Scrymgeour told Paved. The team's usual black-and-white kit gives them a distinctive identity and the team and sponsors wanted to stick with it. At the same time, a special edition gave them a chance to try something new.
"Why don't we do a special edition? It's a good thing to mix it up, and to showcase lululemon's design talents," said Scrymgeour. "It's an interesting conversation-starter, and women's cycling needs a few conversation-starters."
Specialized is also building a limited edition team bike. Not available just yet, the bike will have unique graphics to match the floral theme of the kit. According to Scrymgeour, Specialized plans to produce only twenty of the special edition bikes. That's enough for the team riders, and not much more. "It's a very limited edition," said Scrymgeour.
Specialized-lululemon will ride the special edition bikes and kit this summer at Italy's Giro Rosa. The Giro Rosa is the latest iteration of the Giro Donne, the women's version of the Giro d'Italia, and it remains one of the most important races on the women's calendar. Past editions have included a summit finish on the Passo dello Stelvio and ascents of massive Italian climbs such as the Passo di Mortirolo and the Passo di Gavia. This year, the race runs eight days from 30 June to 7 July.
After the Giro, the team plans to auction off the special edition bikes to benefit their charity partners, which include Right To Play and Cycle Kids.
Beginning last season, Specialized-lululemon partnered with Right To Play to raise funds for a project in Rwanda. Right To Play brings sports equipment and education to children around the world in places where playtime is hard to come by. Evelyn Stevens and former pro Clara Hughes are among the Specialized-lululemon riders who have served as ambassadors for Right To Play.
Specialized-lululemon has also recently begun working with Cycle Kids, an organization that brings bicycling and nutrition education to schools and youth groups. The program teaches nutrition, bike maintenance, and safety skills. Cycle Kids provides a curriculum guide, teacher training, helmets, and bicycles and works to connect kids with the wider cycling community.
Costs for the Cycle Kids program run to $10,000 per school, and that's where Specialized-lululemon comes in. Last fall, Evelyn Stevens auctioned off one of her race bikes to fund a Cycle Kids program at a school in New York. More recently, the team helped bring Cycle Kids to a school in Brooklyn. With the assistance of Specialized and Bicycle Habitat, the students had the chance to help assemble the ten bikes they received through the program.
The team expects the bike auctions to run later this summer and will donate the proceeds to Right To Play and Cycle Kids. The special edition jersey and bibshorts will meanwhile be available in lululemon stores. Scrymgeour did not yet have a time frame for when they would arrive, so watch the team's Twitter and Facebook for more information on that front.
Looking for the old-school black-and-white Specialized-lululemon kit? The team recently made it available on its website. Specialized-lululemon will contribute 5 percent of the proceeds from the kit sales to Right to Play and Cycle Kids.