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A Day in the life of Lorraine Truong

17. April 2015 — TeamSpirit
TeamSpirit

Lorraine Truong is known for being a talented bike rider. She can handle any bike – including monocycles - and recently finished 8th at the EWS event in Rotorua, New Zealand. What few people know is that she is an engineer and works 50% for BMC Switzerland's R&D Team. Every day, she juggles between her computer and her bike, her calculation software and her training plans. Her days are busy, and long. Luckily, a scientific mind a pragmatic Swiss attitude help her plan days and weeks to a tee. We woke up (very) early to spend a day with her in Val-de-Travers, a small valley lost in the Swiss Jura.

4.30am – Debout!

It is dark and cold. It is drizzling too. But no matter what, Lorraine’s alarm is set to wake her up at 4.30am. A busy day is waiting for her.

4.45am – No snooze

Lorraine is up and ready to go for her first training session: an 50min run with her favorite companions Shimano and Fado.

5.40am – First train

Lorraine jumps on the first train of the day. The journey is 1h15 long to the BMC headquarters in Grenchen.

The two and a half hours she spends every day in the train are never a waste of time. Lorraine likes to read scientific books - in French or English - with titles as crazy as “Universe in a Nutshell” or “A la Découverte des Lois de l’Univers. La Prodigieuse Histoire des Mathématiques et de la Physique” or play KenKen (an advanced version of the more famous Sudoku).

But she also admits enjoying reading her favorite comics “Calvin & Hobbes” or napping sometimes…

7.00am - Office time

Often first at the office, Lorraine turns on her computer and opens books to work on the future BMC bikes.

Being able to mix biking with science and engineering is a great chance

She started working there in February 2014. It was then as part of her Master project on “Safety of Bicycle Composite Fork Steerer Tubes”. After graduating last September, she was offered a 50% engineer – 50% rider contract. “It was a fantastic opportunity for me. Being able to mix biking with science and engineering is a great chance. People who know me know that it can not get any better.”

Now she is part of the BMC product team and works in the technology group which is the core of the Impec Advanced R&D Lab. She is responsible for numerical calculation and simulation, with a specific focus on composite structures.

We benefit from the direct link between her theoretical findings and reality

“Lorraine is fresh from engineering school - she has a bachelor diploma in Material Sciences Engineering and a Master degree in Mechanical engineering so she is infusing and sharing the latest technologies from her studies. We benefit from the direct link between her theoretical findings and reality” explains her boss, Stefan Christ, Head of Product for BMC Switzerland.

1.30pm – Back to Val-de-Travers

Here she is, in the train, from Grenchen to Val-de-Travers this time, having a little pic-nic that she carefully prepared the evening before.

Her afternoon will be dedicated to what she loves the most: riding a bike.

Before that, she spends some time in one of her favorite places, the garage. 

Bike maintenance is another hobby of hers. Her mechanic skills were crucial last year when she competed without the support of a team travelling to races on her own and acting as a racer, mechanic, manager and cook at the same time.

2.15pm - Let the fun begin!

The region she grew up in and still lives in is one of the wettest areas of Switzerland. Rain and snow are common there. This hostile climate is probably one of the main reasons she performs really well in wet conditions. Mud, slippery roots and wet leaves are part of her favorite playground.

Tracey Moseley's "protégé" took us on her favorite hometrail, a secret one she maintains herself on rest days. 

5.00pm – Never enough biking…

After spending a couple of hours on her secret favorite home trail, Lorraine trades her mountain bike against her trials bike. A few pallets, planks and a wooden box have been meticulously placed in the large family garden. There she trains her balance and bike skills under the watchful eyes of Shimano, her 11 year old dog.

No time to waste. There is still a lot to do

Half an hour on the trials bike is enough, no time to waste. There is still a lot to do…

 

5.45pm - Fitness time

Lorraine isn’t a member of a gym or anything like that. She transformed an old kitchen of the family house into a gym. Her machines and accessories are a pile of second hand and tinkered old objects.

To relax a bit before dinner, she enjoys a walk with her dogs who are always ready for new adventures.

It is only when I came here with my friends that I realized riding these trails wasn’t easy for everyone

Lorraine showed us the very first trail she ever rode. “I was 11. I only had a city bike but I loved coming here in the evening after school. But only after my home work was done... I was doing loops and loops. It is only when I came here with my friends that I realized riding thse trails wasn’t easy to everyone”.

7.00 - A table!

Lorraine doesn’t follow a special diet. Sometimes, during a race she even fantasizes about burgers or that piece of chocolate she will devour back at the paddock. She is a handy cook and sat us down to “Endives au jambon”, a typical Swiss-French dish with salad, ham, a lot of bechamel sauce and cheese. Not really the diet of an athlete but the perfect diet for someone who just had a pretty busy day and burned a few thousands calories…

As often as she can, she shares dinner with her parents who she lives with. She is the youngest of five siblings. Although her brother and three sisters have already left home they remain a very close knit family and they are Lorraine's biggest fans.

8.30pm – Cool down

The day finally comes to an end. Lorraine goes to her bedroom, the same one she has had since she was a little girl and only left during her time at the EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne or Swiss Institute of Technology).

Unlike many others her age, the 25 year-old girl makes it abundantly clear that she doesn’t like pink. However, just before going to bed, she puts a funny pink overall on, to do a final session of stretching and mental preparation. “I like to feel comfy and this overall is great. Pink is definitely not my favorite colour but it was only available in pink or black. And black is too depressing…”.

As relaxed as she seems, she is quite nervous when it comes to racing

As relaxed as she seems, she is quite nervous when it comes to racing. Since a few months, she has been working with a sport psychologist and invests ten to fifteen minutes per day doing some relaxation exercices to empty her head, and juggling.

At that point of the day, we would all be exhausted and ready for a good night of sleep to recover from such a busy day. But Lorraine opens a book, one about atoms, molecules and other particles. Good food to nourish her dream of discoverings something new that might someday change the face of the world.

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