Monday, March 31, 2014

2014 KitOrder Coast Ride - Recap!

On the West Coast, we take for granted that every cyclist knows exactly what we mean by “Coast Ride.” It turns out we are incredibly fortunate to be able to hop on the bike and ride the entire length of California with a view of the ocean the entire time… So we did!  

This year marked the 3rd annual KO Coast Ride, and the 5th time our staff has made this journey. This has always been a great way to bond with fellow cyclists, work on new skills, and thank our fans for all their support through the years.  This year’s ride brought in some new faces – in addition to some of our favorite training buddies, we also had the ladies of KO multisport, and two of the dashing men from the 2014 RAAM Team inGamba/World Bicycle Relief. 

Photo Creds:  Claudia Quiroz

This trip has always been an epic journey, and this year proved no different. As working stiffs we limit ourselves to a 3-day ride, stopping in the lovely San Luis Obispo as a reward for the 280 miles of cycling over the course of the long weekend.  This year 25 of us rolled out amidst the fog of San Francisco’s presidio and headed straight to the coast. We were 3 days shy of exploring the new Devil’s Slide trail, but had the rare treat of racing through an exceptional tunnel recently opened within the hillside. After a brief refuel in Half Moon Bay, we put the legs into cruise control and ticked away the rolling miles with the ocean to the right and farmlands to the left. This year we decided to push onward a bit more and ended the evening in Aptos, just south of Santa Cruz. 

The Aptos stop was key for a successful Day 2. We knew we wanted to head to south Big Sur over the course of 101 miles but the farmlands of Watsonville and Castroville on the initial rollout, followed by 15 miles of bike path -- often add a little extra mental challenge.  Aptos was right on the route, and since we eliminated much of the earlier manuevering through Santa Cruz, we rolled as a gruppo compacto for the first 40 miles.  We hit Carmel earlier than expected and then had nothing but sunshine, waves and a ripping headwind for the next 60 miles.  Our ace SAG czars, Kristina and Adam, had set up a pizza picnic for us at Point Lobos, and we prepped for the remaining miles ahead. There’s nothing like battling a headwind with your buddies and the giddy hallucinations that come with happily over-exerting yourself. We rolled into Gorda in the late afternoon and – the honest truth – sat and watched whales migrating down the coast. Yes, it really was that good!

Finally, the last day we enjoyed the rollers south to Ragged Point – a treat for most of us since this section is often the last 15 miles of an already haggard day of riding. But nope, we planned it perfectly and had the most amazing morning churning through the remaining miles of Big Sur, San Simeon, and onward to Cayucos for cookies and tacos. It’s always the last 20 miles that hurt the worst, but the promise of victory – and a shower – was ours.  This group rode together, laughed together, and was genuinely one of the strongest and most considerate groups we have played alongside in a while.  In the words of Ryan Goldman, “yes, yes Ryan, you were the best.”  Thanks everyone for playing, see you next year!

Photo Creds:  Markus Duffin

Monday, March 10, 2014

Catching up with Ironman Champ MBK

We had the pleasure to sit down with one of our sponsored athletes, Meredith Kessler over the weekend following her latest record-setting, 3-peat WIN at Ironman New Zealand.  Meredith has completed 52 Ironman competitions in her career, is the current reigning US Pro 70.3 Champion, and is generally a badass in every shape, size, and form.  She chats candidly with us about some of her favorite "kit stuffs" below, as well as about an incredible charity, the Challenged Athletes Foundation, for whom she has helped raise well over $100k these past few years.  MBK is a true professional, and generally, one of our favorite humans...

1. Saucony has been a huge supporter and sponsor of yours for several years now.  What do you like best about Saucony race wear and Saucony shoes?  We often see you in super fashionable matching outfits; how has their product line changed since you've been a part of the Saucony family?  

It was such a luxury to have the opportunity to start working with Saucony after my first year as a professional triathlete. I had always worn Nike gear throughout high school, college and my age group career. However, after studying the Saucony apparel line and physically wearing the Kinvara Saucony racing shoes, I knew it was a perfect match!

The race wear is extraordinary in the comfort and design along with being extremely fashionable = a win-win situation! The shoes are light yet sturdy for those twenty-six mile jaunts and long training sessions. Because of these factors and more, Saucony has become a leader in triathlon fashion and effectiveness on the race course.

As a shoe and apparel company, it is important to keep up with the trends or your product line will become obsolete. As evidence by Saucony’s success, they have been able to adjust their clothing and shoes to keep up with the ever changing fickle public which is not an easy task. The line has grown to include styles for men, women and children that have tremendous ‘pop’ – vivid colors that stand out in this day and age of companies trying to separate them from the rest.

2. ROKA is a very cool company founded by a couple of Stanford grads. As land athletes, we don't know much about wetsuits - what makes ROKA suits so darned fast?  What should a new triathlete look for in a wetsuit? 

As a struggling age grouper having grown up swimming, I never gave wetsuits much of a thought. I usually went to a race, put on my wetsuit that I purchased at the local sports store, and swam the event, not caring about the piece of clothing that protected me from the cold water.

When I was a third year pro, my contract with my wetsuit sponsor was up which gave us the opportunity to explore other innovative wetsuit companies in that process. I learned about Roka from a friend and reached out to touch base. We had an hour long conversation with CEOs/Founders Rob Canales and Kurt Spenser and my wetsuit world was turned upside down. They were former Stanford swimmers who were perplexed at the design of the wetsuits on the market. After competing in a triathlon and not enjoying their wetsuit experience, they set out to redesign the grandfathered, outdated wetsuit design.

Roka designed the wetsuit to give buoyancy, flexibility and stretch where your body needs it most. We highlight wetsuits in our manuals coming out in the near future, Life of a Triathlete ( and how new triathletes should not overlook the advantages of a quality wetsuit. Everyone is different in their swimming motion and body makeup thus some wetsuits may artificially create more drag than others on your particular style and technique which adds precious seconds and minutes to your time. This also can overwork the muscles. Individuals spend so much time researching their bike and running shoes, they should put in the same work and thought on their wetsuit.

3. Let's talk about training partners for a minute.  We love using Every Man Jack Shave gel so we already know that EMJ has some amazing personal care products. But, they also have the top men's amateur triathlon team in the country. How has training with Ritch Viola (president of EMJ and top male amateur 2013) and the EMJ "boys" changed/enhanced your weekly training?

As a pro triathlete, you always have to be improving all three of your disciplines; the pro women are only getting faster as evident by Mirinda Carfrae’s 2:50 marathon at the Kona World Championships in 2013, the third best time between women AND men on the day = amazing! One pivotal way to try to get better is to train with individuals who are faster than you!

I am fortunate to swim with Ritch three times per week; he is a former collegiate swimmer and extremely fast in (and out of) the water. When I was an age grouper, I toiled away in the pool like a hamster on a wheel. Keeping up with Ritch has immensely helped to lower my swim times and I do owe a lot to this type of training and to Ritch - a wonderful friend, training partner and also called my "work husband!" Biking with Ritch and his EMJ team is rewarding, fun, intense and productive all in one! Typically, I am sprinting gang busters to hang onto their wheels. You teach your muscles to move faster out of desperation to keep up with these strong riders; this translates into faster times on race day!  The same goes on our runs together - always helping one another out to stay fluid, strong and on the mark! These guys are like brothers and I am so grateful to get to call them both great friends and training partners too.

4. There's a big event coming out with the Challenged Athlete's Foundation on March 15th. We know you've volunteered countless hours with this amazing organization to raise well over $100,000 to date. Team KitOrder will have a team at the CAF event. Talk to us about that relationship and why the charitable side of athletics is so meaningful to you.

There are a lot of tremendous charities out there that help a surplus of individuals; it is tough to choose which ones you want to be a part of as they are all beyond captivating regardless of which one you choose. I was introduced to the Challenged Athletes Foundation by a great friend, Alan Shanken. I was moved by the passion, gumption, tenacity, determination and perseverance of these athletes who have had to overcome such obstacles to be able to do what a lot of us take for granted.

I look up to these challenged athletes; they provide me with ample inspiration in sport and in life. The foundation gives these individuals a new outlook on life and the ability to do things they might never thought they would be able to do. It is mesmerizing to watch children with artificial limbs (provided by CAF) being able to run, fall, dust themselves off and keep on going with a smile. I feel honored to have the fortuity to help and support this wonderful foundation that gives so many athletes hope!

JOIN, RIDE, or DONATE for the Challenged Athletes Event on 
March 15th, 2014 at SHIFT-SF from 1pm-8pm:

Monday, February 10, 2014

2014 Sponsorships from "The Ladies" of KitOrder

Our partners often refer to us as "The KitOrder Gals," surprising many a VP by showing up sans-testosterone for an important C-level meeting.  Yes, it's true - we are an all-female owned technology company who has carved out a space for "The Ladies" in an otherwise male-dominated market.  

KitOrder's group buying platform was actually inspired by the camaraderie and shared purpose of athletic teams.  Over the past several years, we have found ourselves in the truly unique position of focusing on groups of female athletes in pursuit of something greater - on the court, in the field, and at the races.  We are, and will continue to be, a company that invests in the future of competitive female sports.

At the local level, we have sponsored a women's team for multiple years, RED Racing - an elite level racing program aimed at raising both funds and awareness for the America Heart Association.  In 2013, a cry went out for help, and we stepped in as the title sponsor to the Menlo Park Grand Prix in our back yard - the NCNCA Women's Elite and Master's State Criterium Championships.

For 2014, we are VERY excited to announce the sponsorship of our very own women's elite multi-sport squad - comprised of 12 incredible elite-level female triathletes, category 1 cyclists, and endurance and ultra runners on the road/trail.  To top it off, 75% of our athletes also work in the technology sector, making us a team that truly blends our purpose, goals, and mission.  We are, quite truthfully, "ladies who tech."  We'll be introducing these incredible women formally over the next month.

Last but not least, our support in 2014 will not stop at the grassroots level.

The rumors are true!  We will also be sponsoring an incredible team on the women's NRC circuit - stay tuned for the official press release.  This squad is an assembly of some of the most experienced and decorated racers within the women's field - including two Criterium National Champions from TWO different countries.  

Our growth - as company, and as a brand - continues to exceed expectations year to year. We invite you to follow along in our journey, and to join us as our travels and adventures unfold.


Friday, January 31, 2014

KitOrder Rolls Out New Relic and Stripe in 2014

While we might not quite be to the "Fortune 500" monolithic size to warrant some freebie banner space on their websites (yet!), we are pleased to announce that we have integrated some very cool, up and coming Bay Area technology to do what we do… BETTER.  

Let's face it, San Francisco is one of the most innovative technology centers in the world, and we've had the opportunity to rub elbows with some of the best and brightest that Fog City has to offer.  

In 2014, we are proud to introduce integrations with both Stripe and New RelicWant to know why we're huge fans? 

New Relic offers SaaS Software Analytics Platform that offers Application Performance Management and Real User Monitoring for Cloud and Data Center deployed web applications implemented in Ruby, Java, .NET, Python, PHP, Node.js.  

New Relic gives KitOrder a real-time performance view of our systems - keeping us a fast and agile for our clients 24/7.  We're able to spot issues instantly and make corrections before our clients are affected. 

With its state-of-the-art, multi-currency payment processor with real-time access data reporting, top-notch security and fraud protection, and high availability throughput, Stripe is now THE leader in start-to-finish payment processing.

Stripe processes payments to our clients directly, in multiple currencies quickly, and securely!  Their API is super-smart and integrates seamlessly into our reporting and accounting engines.

Monday, March 11, 2013

"So what's new with..."

"So what's new with KitOrder?"  Our friends, supporters, and even baristas ask us this ALL THE TIME.  We've been through some long nights and put in a lot of hard work.  Call it an update, or call it a big fat WOOHOO, but we're pretty excited!  With now a staff of 9, we are fully loaded for 2013...

Where we've been...

2012 was the year of mobile technology, and we took the opportunity to conduct an in-depth dive into reformatting and reformulating our Alpha to Omega in terms of our code base with a full HTML re-write.   

Thanks to your feedback, we rethought, retooled, and restructured our entire platform with a renewed focus on consumer needs in an ever-changing, highly mobile environment.  

Our new HTML interface is faster, more user-friendly, is incredibly customizable - and yes, it looks great on tablets too!  

What we're doing...

We are crushing Q1 of 2013 by launching a host of svelte new marketing/social engagement tools to help our teams communicate better, and to support our Partners as they shout out their awesomeness from the roof tops.  We've got new, team-branded store fronts and downloadable flyers to email and tweet that even get a thumbs up from the folks at Pinterest!  

Need your team's emergency contact information or a USACycling License number at checkout?  No worries - we've got that. Discount codes for your sponsored athletes? We've got that too!  We're simplifying the way teams collect data, and making it easier to capture it at the same time and in the same place!

Where we're going...

2013 is BIG DATA.  We're working on new, bigger and better reporting features.  We want to make sure our customers are well equipped to track sales across product lines or team stores.  More new features to come in Q2 - we can't wait for your feedback.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

HEAT TRAINING: Get Your Buns in the Oven

"The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."  Although quite a famous quote (*bonus points if you knew Mark Twain did NOT say this), I think we live in the ONLY part of the country that is actually cold enough to cause us to bump up our thermostats in the  "summer" months.  While the other 49 states are experiencing one of the hottest weather patterns in history, our coastal fog keeps our climate at a balmy 55-65* nearly all year.  

With that said, we spent the weekend in Chico, CA.  The climate could have only been compared to walking directly on the surface of the sun - or riding mid-pack at a Velo Promo race in August.  We melted, and personally, as a girl who grew up riding bikes in the belly of steamy Midwestern summers, I couldn't help but wonder when I had become such a pansy.

It turns out that a handful of Human Physiology researchers at the University of Oregon had a study recently published about this very topic.  They found out that significant physiological gains could be achieved in trained cyclists (weekend warriors beware) by doing 90-minute easy rides in high heat for 10 days prior to competition.  Yes – 90 minutes, in 112 degrees, for 10-days straight will apparently make you crazy fast (possibly also just crazy).

Here’s what they did: Super-smart researchers measured a power-monitored TT performance (Cat. 1 and 2 cyclists) over a 60-minute full gas effort - both at a 55 degree controlled temp, as well as a 100 degree controlled temp.  Then they sent the athletes out into the heat to literally spin their legs in Zone 1 for 10 days in extreme temperatures (>100 degrees), and then replayed the initial assessment.  The surprising results?? Not only did these heat warriors have an 8% performance improvement at the high temperature, but they also had a 6% improvement when they returned to the lower temperature.

By this point I know my teammates – who seem to love epically hot and difficult races – are wondering what’s next.   Well…the researchers concluded that one would still need to train "fast" in normal or cooler conditions, but that a fitness boost could be achieved by training easy at higher temps.  Much like altitude training, one needs normal amounts of oxygen to see performance gains, just as they need normal temperatures to keep body temps under control at high exertion levels.  But, they found that if an athlete can "train cool and taper hot," they will get the boost that they are looking for - increased blood flow through the skin and expanded blood volume allowing the heart to pump more blood. 

This study referenced in today's blog was published in the October issue of The Journal of Applied Physiology (2011).


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Muffin Tops and Cookie Bellies.

It's not an easy read. In fact, it made us take a hard look at our favorite mid-morning snack...  <insert any delicious baked good from Cibo here>, despite spending plenty of hours on the bike per week.

Author Gary Taubes' concept, however, is very basic: 

Simple carbohydrates are driving America's obesity epidemic. 

Eating and drinking refined carbohydrates increases insulin production, which is a hormone that encourages energy storage (yes... by "storage," we actually mean fat).   Unfortunately, that makes little of the food's energy available to the body to power it through what's next in its day.  Your body recognizes that it's running low, and hits the "I'm hungry" trigger once again - restarting the cycle and perpetuating "storage" in the average sedentary American.  

If you're thinking about cleaning up your diet this summer or jumping on yet another juice cleanse, we recommended starting here first. Thank you, Gary Taubes for an eye-opening read. He sums it up below in a very cool flow chart....