The Countdown Is On

The 2015 UCI Road World Championships Begin Here in One Year

2015 UCI Road World Championships logo

On September 19, 2015 one of cycling’s premier events starts rolling in Richmond. For those of you who only become vaguely aware of the sport when le Tour de France starts its treacherous climbs littered with colorful accidents, the Road World Championships is just like the world championships of other Olympic sports. As the official world championship of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body for the sport of cycling, this event is a career pinnacle for the participants who are chosen to represent their countries and a significant coup for the host city.

women cyclists in 2013 Road World Championships in Florence, Italy

This year six men and seven women are representing the USA in Ponferrada, Spain. In addition to the more familiar Road Race and Time Trials that you hear about on le Tour de France, the UCI World Championships also feature a Team Trials competition that give fans the opportunity to wave their national flags. With the World Championships taking place over nine days, spectators have a lot of elite cycling to cheer.

Lucy Garner at 2013 UCI Road World Championships Day 7

Richmond Is Preparing to Take Its Place on the World Cycling Stage

For years the Richmond Region has quietly become a cycling hotbed, often to the consternation of motorists who have to share narrow roads with lycra-shod enthusiasts. I remember the excitement of the Tour du Pont back in the 1990’s when the cobblestoned streets of downtown would be taken over by time-trialists and a festive party atmosphere.

1994 Tour duPont climb up Libbie Hill

Though that event disappeared, local cycling enthusiasts continued working behind the scenes to improve the quality of cycling life in our fair city. The lack of cycling infrastructure has not thwarted the dreams of the pedalists who, despite governmental bureaucracies, lobbied and have waited patiently to see their dream of the 55-mile Virginia Capital Trail fully realized. Over twenty years in the planning and development, this unique trail, which Ellen was inspired to bike this summer with the Biking Belles, is scheduled to be finished right before the World Championships come to town.

bridge on Virginia Capitol Trail

Turns out the timing is perfect. With over 450,000 spectators anticipated for this event, many coming from out-of-town will want to get in some cycling of their own. Passing through lands where Pocahontas, John Smith and other explorers from the Jamestown Colony roamed over 400 years ago, the Virginia Capital Trail is a fitting welcome for visitors from all over the world. No doubt the local enthusiasm and historic ties helped Richmond win the hosting bid, which has not been given to a US city since 1986.

Day 3 2014 USA Cycling Collegiate race

Like the most successful things in RVA, bringing the UCI World Championships here has been an organic effort made possible by individual, corporate and non-profit efforts. Corporate generosity in Richmond makes things happen, and the World Championships are no exception. This past spring Richmond hosted a trial run of the Worlds with the 2014 USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals. With lead sponsor, CapTech, the races, which covered the same courses that the World Championships will use, went off smoothly, and the buzz began in earnest for #Richmond2015.

Day 2 2014 USA Cycling Collegiate race on Monument Avenue

Join the Fun

Ready to get in the spirit of #Richmond2015?

bikers and baskets © The Gracious Posse

  • Check out this year’s World Championship on Universal Sports Network starting September 21st.
  • Visit the courses that these athletes will be racing on next September to get a sense of the difficulty of their rides, especially climbing up Libbie Hill.

2015 UCI Road World Championships Team Time Trial course

  • If you are a small business that wants to keep up with the race planning, join The Gracious Posse and become a member of  Société 2015.

Société 2015 logo

If ever there was a time to don lycra togs and climb on a skinny seat, this year is it. I’m ready to get in the spirit of the Road World Championships and get pedaling. Won’t you join us as we begin the countdown to #Richmond2015?


September 19, 2014

Packaging is (Almost) Everything

Beautiful and clever packaging works its magic on me. I admire companies whose product on the inside

Seda France candles © The Gracious Posse

is as special as its container. 

soap from Santa Maria Novella © The Gracious Posse

Lili Bermuda Frangipani fragrance display © The Gracious Posse

The geniuses at Ladurée have turned the marriage of product and packaging design into a fine art form.

Laduree Macaroons © The Gracious Posse

Laduree goodies © The Gracious Posse

The packaging need not be elaborate. In fact less is more if done cleverly,

Arles Soap © The Gracious Posse

like this fragrant soap from Arles, France. When the packaging can be recycled

Lilly Pulitzer-branded Animal Crackers © The Gracious Possedidn’t you just flip over this box of animal crackers?

like the Lilly Pulitzer special edition Barnum’s Animal Crackers from a few years ago, my green consumer’s heart sings.

Sometimes I make purchasing decisions based on the recyclability of the packaging alone, regardless of how much I may like the product contained in it. One day I took a closer look at the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority (CVWMA) flyer describing the products that it recycles and

CVWMA recyclables

noticed a disturbing disclaimer: it only accepts a plastic container marked with the 1 or 2 if the container has a narrow opening. No Plastic Food Containers accepted said the fine print on the back. Despite bearing the markings of the 1 or 2,

recycling symbols collage

were containers like the one below

Organic spinach container

not eligible for recycling? I called and spoke with customer service to clarify, and they confirmed my hunch. Unfortunately plastic food containers are too costly for our locality to recycle. The customer service representative said the containers are redirected to the landfill instead.

Practically weeping for Mother Earth, I decided to switch products based on the packaging. From mushrooms sold in

mushrooms in plastic container

open plastic mushroom containers to 

mushrooms in cardboard carton

mushrooms sold in open corrugated boxes, and from eggs sold in plastic cartons

eggs in plastic container © The Gracious Posse

to ones sold in cardboard cartons,

eggs in cardboard carton

you get the idea. What I haven’t figured out is how to buy fresh meat that is not packaged using styrofoam trays. If you have any suggestions, please send them my way.

styrofoam chicken container

I find myself in a dilemma with the plastic food packages because the packaging does protect the food and keep it fresh, especially organic products. My imperfect solution is to try to reuse packaging whenever practical

cookies in reused plastic container © The Gracious Possethis lettuce container, rinsed with label removed, is reused to hold cookies

The latest product to get my earthly attention is 

Mom Diet Coke can © The Gracious Posse

Alison’s beloved Diet Coke. I give a 10-pearl salute to the Coca-Cola Company for clever packaging to meet their marketing needs in a recyclable container to meet mine.

Who says we can’t have our Coke and drink it too? All it takes is a little creativity.


September 19, 2014

A Zinger of a Baby Shower

It’s been ages since I’ve attended or given a baby shower, our Royal Baby Shower Benefit  notwithstanding. So when my fellow Zingers and I decided to give our fitness goddess Kelly Kinzinger a baby shower, I felt a bit rusty, yet excited to make sure we helped welcome Baby Kinzinger into the world with a proper Zinger welcome.

For those of us who work out at Zinger Fit, although we see each other regularly at the studio, most don’t otherwise cross paths with each other; it’s a lovely melting (sweating) pot of awesome women. We wanted to be inclusive, inviting all of Kelly’s clients, and were determined to give her the big items on her baby registries at Babies ‘R Us and Target. Many of us are mothers, and we knew we wanted Kelly to want for nothing.

Kelly Kinzinger © The Gracious Posse

So how to organize a large group of busy and disparate women?

Many Hands and Technology Make Light Work

The thing about women is, we can plan, organize, collect money, shop, decorate and cook better than the United States Army, and with much better outfits, so I knew this would be fun and easy.

sFl and I co-hosted. A number of gals volunteered to bring food. A few others said they’d collect money and shop and wrap gifts from the group. Things shaped up from there in a jiffy.


Going against my grain, we decided an electronic invitation was the way to reach everyone, especially since we could get email addresses from Kelly, and we had a scant few home addresses. We looked at two invitation sites — eVite and Paperless Post, which won us over,

Kelly's invitation 

with stylish choices and easy facilitation of the inviting and responding process.


We didn’t have a theme per se, but we chose yellow, gray and white, Kelly’s nursery colors, as our inspiration. I made yellow burlap table runners, inspired from Alison’s choice of pink burlap to decorate the Zinger Fit studio for Think Pink last year. To bring in the gray,

food table scape © The Gracious Posse

I used serving pieces in silver and galvanized tin and gray beverage napkins. Flowers were a late summery palette of yellows and whites. With leftover burlap I created a garland of yellow and gray baby socks.

Baby Sock Garland on Mantel


The shower occured on a Sunday afternoon, so we just needed snack fare. As well, we decided to make the food options completely gluten-free, so the five food volunteers made sure their offerings excluded that dietary substance. We used Sign-up Genius to let the gals pick their item to bring. Our guests feasted on gluten-free cupcakes from Pearl’s, a fruit tray, veggie trays, cheese and cracker assortment, chicken salad with rice crackers, and pimiento cheese with blue corn chips. 

Food Table


While in Bermuda mLl shared a champagne punch recipe that was her mother’s.

Janet's Champagne Punch recipe

I decided the shower would be the perfect time to serve it. The cognac punched up the sparkle of this effervescent drink,

Champagne punch © The Gracious Posse

and I can’t wait to make it again. Rounding out the beverages were sweet tea and spa water (tap water with cucumber slices and basil leaves).

beverage table © The Gracious Posse


The Zingers showered Kelly with all the gifts a new mom could want or need. Two Zingers offered to collect money, shop for the gifts from Kelly’s registries at Babies R Us and Target, and bring them wrapped to the shower. It is no secret that Kelly means a lot to us, but the bounty of gifts was proof. The group collection gave her a jogger stroller, a 3-in-1 stroller, breast milk storage system and breast pump and bouncy seat, and the gift that fascinated us the most, the Baby Zoom Wi-Fi Video Monitor,

Baby Zoom Video Monitor

which as you can see provides video monitoring, but also pairs with a smart phone to provide two-way communication with the cherub. Clearly today’s technology has elevated monitors beyond the old walkie-talkie gadgets of yesteryear. Several guests brought personal gifts, and the one that stole the show and our hearts

wrapped giraffe © The Gracious Posse

was a charming stuffed giraffe, complete with the alluring life-like eyes.

unwrapped giraffe © The Gracious Posse


In my day, no shower was complete without a cheesy game. With a large crowd (40+ attended), we figured it would be too cumbersome to pull off. I asked sPj, only other new mother I know and she gave me the idea to have guests sign a story book for the mom and baby to read together. Knowing Kelly to be an avid reader, sFl and I hopped on that and found hardback copies of two Curious George books.

Curious George Signed Books © The Gracious PosseThe fact that they were yellow was a bonus. When Kelly reads to her little guy she’ll have the thoughts of all her Zingers with her in spirit.

It won’t be long until we welcome Baby Kinzinger to the world, and lord knows he’ll have dozens of outstretched arms waiting to hold him!


 September 15, 2014