Lauren De Crescenzo: on her own terms

Training hard, getting results

Lauren De Crescenzo Tames The Growler

Just the weekend before Sea Otter, the first round in the Life Time Grand Prix, Lauren De Crescenzo decided to test her racing legs at Levi’s Gran Fondo. This year, The Growler option was held as a proper road race, with pros from all over the world coming to take part in what many have called the hardest one-day race currently in the United States.

Photo credit: Brian Tucker & TOPO Collective

The 140-mile road race with 14,000 feet of climbing rivals the queen stages of Grand Tours. Lauren was among an elite group of women racing in cool temperatures and pouring rain. Though a strong group of women emerged early, Lauren attacked on one of the major climbs, dropping everyone and soloing the final 80 miles to win by 12-minutes.

Photo credit: Brian Tucker & TOPO Collective

For the road race, she used the Factor O2 VAM instead of her usual OSTRO Gravel. Her succinct assessment:

“Can confirm, the O2 VAM is very, very fast!!”

Learn more about O2 VAM


Good five-hour power. That’s all it takes. But getting to the point where you have really good five-hour power; that’s the hard part. Lauren De Crescenzo knows that well. She’s been working on it for years. Since she is such an exceptional athlete, she can now objectively and without embarrassment categorically state that she has good, really good five-hour power. And ten-hour power. She’s proved it often enough, most recently at The Mid South Gravel Race, the unofficial opening weekend of the US gravel racing season.

It's the third year in a row that Lauren has won The Mid South. There is something about the Oklahoma event that suits her strengths. “I think it is largely a power test. It’s just having good five-hour power. There is really no coasting. The last two times I’ve won, it’s because I’ve been able to get away in the first hour; it starts with this string of climbs, so you’re doing a steep climb, short rest, steep climb, short rest. It’s like 400 watts to 200 watts then 400 watts again. And as each climb goes on, you drop maybe one more person. So, if you have the power, you can do well.”

If you have the power, that’s a big if. Lauren has been in the elite ranks of gravel racing for several years now and has some big wins on her palmarès like Unbound in 2021 and The Rad last year, in addition to the three Mid South titles. But 2024 represents a big change in Lauren’s professional status. She has gone from being a member of a team to being a privateer. She has also freshened up her training regime by changing coaches. She’s now working with coach Elliott Baring, a three-time US National Mountain Bike Champion (in Short Track, Cross Country, and Marathon).

Training going to plan

“The training plan I’m following is not too similar to what I’ve done in the past,” Lauren said. “We’ve focused in the early off-season on building a ginormous base and doing hardly any high intensity early. Nothing over FTP, which is kind of new to me since in years past, I would do lots of different types of efforts year-round. We are taking a very methodical approach to the entire season. Trying to see the very big picture. And I am using Training Peaks now, which I hadn’t done before. Using those metrics with Training Peaks and the FasCat platform to track my fitness and fatigue. So we are taking a more methodical approach to tracking my fitness. I can see that I am just getting better with every year.”

With Sea Otter, the opening race for the Life Time Grand Prix and first big event of the year, coming up quickly, Lauren will be able to see how much her new prep methods will work. “I feel better than I did last year going into Sea Otter. And I feel like going in with one year of having done Sea Otter, now I know what to expect. Last year doing it for the first time was a huge challenge, since it was actually my first real mountain bike race,” Lauren admitted. 

“I’ve been spending more time on the mountain bike and going on mountain bike rides with Elliott, my coach. It always helps when I can ride with him or someone who is just a little bit better than me. He can help me find the good lines and see the big picture and I think that is really helpful. He’s very chill, so that’s great because it’s helping make MTB chill for me, and it’s even becoming more fun than road riding for me.”

Grand Prix racing

With the third year of the Life Time Grand Prix kicking off at Sea Otter on April 19th, the main races of the season will be coming thick and fast. “I’m not under the impression that I am going to win Sea Otter, but if I can make the top-10 that would be incredible.” Having finished 24th at Sea Otter in 2023, which was her first professional mountain bike race, she then went on to improve her results in every mountain bike race she did that year. “I was already better last year at Leadville where I finished like 13th and then Chequamegon was even better where I finished 10th. So, I’ve been able to see improvements in every mountain bike race, which is definitely encouraging. Getting better each time.” Lauren’s bigger goals will revolve around a little bike race in Kansas. “Unbound is ultimately the target,” she said. “That’s my A-race this year and I would love to take that win again. It’s definitely something I can do because in addition to having really good five-hour power, I have really good ten-hour power. When I did win, it took me 12-hours, so I probably have pretty good 12-hour power, too!”

Privateer status

“I like being a privateer. I wasn’t sure at the beginning about how things would pan out, and I felt like the victory at Mid South was a great test and validation that it is working well. Proof of concept. It’s all working well. And I am happy because I have more of a voice now.” Going from the relatively coddled lifestyle that a professional team can offer to becoming a privateer can be an even bigger shock to the system than a change in training methods. “Getting it all kickstarted, the transition was really hard. Going from the team infrastructure to figuring it out all on my own, that was tough. Now that everything is coming together, I do feel free to do whatever I want,” Lauren explained. “I am excited about being able to use my platform to raise awareness about the issues important to me like traumatic brain injuries.”

Photo credit: Nathan Bolster

Having recovered from a traumatic brain injury that she suffered after crashing hard in a race in 2016, Lauren has committed to raising awareness about the issue. In addition to participating in charity rides like the Super Training Ride for Love Your Brain, Lauren will be selling soft goods like T-shirts and replica race kits, with net proceeds to be donated to her two main charities, Craig Hospital Foundation and Love Your Brain. “I’ll be hosting a Love Your Brain ‘Ride for Resilience’ on August 25th with Will at Project Supertraining. He hosts a Group Ride monthly in Boulder, raising money and awareness for various nonprofit organizations. I am most interested in helping raise awareness,” Lauren confirmed. “As for the soft goods, I am donating all the proceeds to my charities. I hope people will be more interested knowing that the money will go to worthwhile charities rather than fund my bike racing! Craig Hospital Foundation is super important to me because they were there for me when I needed it most. And Love Your Brain. They offer free meditation and support for TBI survivors. The things you need when you go through something like that.”

Photo credit: Nathan Bolster

If you are interested in ordering an LDC T-shirt, sweatshirt, or replica Castelli kit, with net proceeds donated to help TBI survivors, please visit Lauren’s Shopify

Celebrating with three special bike designs

We’re excited to be joining Lauren on her privateer adventure. Factor and Black Inc are two major sponsors and have celebrated by designing three super special bikes for Lauren. The Factor OSTRO Gravel, LANDO XC, and LANDO HT have all been designed and hand painted by Factor’s Creative Director, Jay Gundzik. Jay is also responsible for the designs used for the LDC soft goods.

The brain logo speaks to Lauren’s larger mission to raise awareness about Traumatic Brain Injuries. The genesis of the logo actually comes from a brain tattoo that Lauren got during her recovery from her own TBI. “I was never a tattoo type of person, but once I was out of the hospital, I had the impulse to get this tattoo,” she explained. “They do say greater impulsiveness can be a result of having a TBI. But yeah, I like it, and we decided to use it for my logo.”

For the frame design, Jay once again showed how his artistic talent and feel for color combos effectively reflects the personality of the rider with truly eye-catching results. “I was definitely inspired by Pollock – I happened to be listening to The Stone Roses a lot when I was working on it,” Jay explained. The Stone Roses album covers were also Pollockesque, putting Jay in the right mindset for his work. “It's meant to be bright and playful, while the logo represents LDC's 2016 traumatic injury.”

Rolling back to the road, a little

Though Lauren has made an extremely successful transition from pure roadie to off-road expert, she’s still keen to test herself in pure road race situations. “I am doing Levi’s Gran Fondo the week before Sea Otter. It’s 140 miles on the road, all road, lots of climbing. That’s why I’m doing it, to get some good training in,” she said. “I have some unfinished business on the road.”

To do these road races, Lauren has been riding the O2 VAM, the first time she has had a chance to ride Factor’s ultimate road machine.

She said, “I went on a 7-hour ‘dress rehearsal’ for Levi’s Gran Fondo at 130 miles (210 km) and 14k of climbing (4300 m). I averaged over 19 miles per hour (30.5 km/h) despite the massive elevation gain! The handling on the descents was also superb, and I felt as comfortable as I do on my OSTRO Gravel. The O2 VAM is just so light and aero, it basically rides itself!”

Photo credit: Nathan Bolster

Follow Lauren to keep up to date with her season progress and race updates:

Lauren De Crescenzo