Tag Archives: Cycling

I’ve Got a Ticket To Ride!

  Yesterday I picked up my packet and dropped off my waiver and now I am bona fide (did you hear that in the voice of Holly Hunter in “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?) This weekend I will be riding the 2012 Minneapolis Tour de Cure for the American Diabetes Association. I rounded up six awesome friends, we each rounded up donations from other awesome friends and Saturday we will live the event’s motto: “Ride. Party. Stop Diabetes.”

Some of us will ride the 18 mile route (with the option to jump to 27 miles if so inspired.) Some of us will ride the 45 mile route. Some of us are riding this event for the first time. For some, this is their first organized ride ever. There will be plenty of hard-core cyclists at the Tour, but we aren’t them.

I’ve met everyone on my team, and ridden with most of them, but there will be plenty of introductions made Saturday morning, since most of them will be be new to one another. We aren’t a close-knit friend or family or corporate team, although there will be plenty of those riding Saturday morning as well.

We aren’t world-class advocates or philanthropists. What we are is a group of everyday people drawn together by the promise of a well-organized and supported event and the hope that we can do a little something about a big problem. We aren’t heroes, except for the fact that by saying yes to a pretty minimal bit of time and effort, we have collectively raised over $2,000 dollars so far for research, education and patient advocacy, more than twice our goal and 100% more than we would have done if we’d said, “Maybe next year.” Two men on our team are “Red Riders” which means they’ll be wearing spiffy red jerseys to indicate they ride with diabetes while the rest of us (like almost everyone else in this country) have friends or family members with either the Type 1 or Type 2 diagnosis. We all want to make a difference; committing ourselves to the effort brings us one step closer to actually doing that.

Share with us one of the ways you give your time, money or sweat to make a difference!

Related Post: Warriors on Wheels: Cynthia Zuber

Related Post: Tour de Cure: The Finish Line

Warriors on Wheels Part 1: Tour de Cure’s Kevin Wells

Last June I blogged about Twin Cities Tour de Cure, a cycling fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association that I participated in for the first time in 2011. I was blown away by the route, the organization and the amazing people I met. Also by the party at the end of the ride, which was the best ever finish line I’ve crossed (great food, live music, a beer garden and NO speeches!) Janeece, one of my new best friends at the TC Tour de Cure headquarters, asked if I would write a few words about some of the people involved in this year’s ride and see if we can’t get a few more of you as excited as we are about the upcoming event (Saturday, June 2, 2012! Save the date!)

A lot of people I have talked to who have gotten either the Type 1 or 2 diagnosis have talked about the changes they have had to make as a result of their diabetes. Some of the changes are to improve health, like healthy eating and weight management, and other changes, like blood sugar maintenance, are to prevent health problems. When I spoke with Officer Kevin Wells at the 5th Precinct in Minneapolis, I was struck by the fact that when he was diagnosed in 1993, he was already a long-time nutrition and fitness enthusiast. His approach to diabetes seems to be to not let it change the way he likes to live.

Kevin’s passion for cycling began in 2005, when he took an indoor spin class to add something new to his workout regime. “Everyone there talked about riding outside,” he says, so he tried it. “I fell in love. That was the first year I did the Tour de Cure.” He commutes to work on bike whenever he can and pushes himself with distance and/or intensity on training rides outside as often as possible, or inside on a trainer when the weather is bad. In addition to the fun and challenging workout he found in cycling, Kevin discovered another obsession: the gear. He now owns several bikes and a plethora of garb, cycling computers, GPS systems, and other things that take his ride to the next level.

I asked Kevin if his intensity with cycling complicates his blood sugar management. “Long steady rides will continuously burn carbs,” he explains, “so you just have to be sure not to let your blood sugar fall too low. The way I ride pushes my anaerobic threshold, which is where the blood sugar actually spikes. When I don’t feel good on a ride I have to test [my blood sugar] because I can’t always tell if I feel off because I am low or high. I don’t let it stop me, though.”

Kevin enjoys other cycling events, such as the Tour de Tonka, and local duathlons, but Tour de Cure has a special place in his heart. “The Tour is a great, fun event. I’ve met a lot of nice people, and the food’s good. Last year, I rode the 62 mile route, and commuted to the event and back home on my bike, so I got in 100 miles. I calculated that I burned 6,800 calories that ride. I felt great.”

The folks at TC Tour de Cure would like to thank Kevin Wells for supporting the Tour with his participation and story. Please join Kevin, myself and the other riders at the event either by riding or joining the ranks of volunteers, or consider donating to support the ADA drive for research, education and advocacy for people with diabetes. You can get started by clicking on this link:  TC Tour de Cure.

Related Post: Tour de Cure: The Finish Line

Fitness Mama

Exercise is my anti-depressant. This has been true my whole life, but I spent years undervaluing and even avoiding exercise until I became an at-home mom when my kids were one and a half and four years old. People, I am not proud of this, but I was TERRIFIED of falling apart when I gave up my responsible and mentally stimulating job to face a completely different set of demands at home. I pictured myself weeping in the closet or drinking at all hours, or becoming a snappy, angry monster. To avoid this, I joined a fitness center that offered two hours of child care a day for people working out. I got into a very good groove of two-three workouts per week and stopped freaking out about becoming Joan Crawford. The time to myself gave me a little peace and the workout endorphins lifted my spirits. I fell in love with indoor cycling and became an instructor there, and also ran the outdoor group for the short cycling season we enjoy here in Minnesota. I built my confidence, even trying some competitive events, seriously toned up when I started Pilates, and made a lot of friends. After the kids went to school, and I started working part-time, my workouts fell off until the only class I went to was my own, and I gave that up, too.

Now I work out at BRX fitness, a small studio nearby. I have been friends with the owners for years, and they are fun, challenging, supportive and innovative. I have been introduced to Kettlebell,  Zumba, TRX and many objects of torture crazy fun fitness there. If you are ever in a class with me, I am probably the one complaining and making jokes to help get through the tough spots. They use a twisted sort of vocabulary, for instance saying, “Doesn’t that stretch feel wonderful?” when it is clearly excruciating. Despite the groans, I am never sorry I went. I can always tell when I have slacked off my preferred two to four intense workouts per week. I get morose and want to simultaneously punish and comfort myself with sugary fats. Or fatty sugars. Mmmmm. Moving on. Today I went to Kettlebell. Kettlebell makes me feel like a rock star, even if I occasionally overdo it and end up walking strangely for a couple of days (my hamstrings and quads lock up like like a sack of fists.) My odd waddling gait is accentuated by the squeaking sounds I involuntarily make with each step. Usually I know my limits well enough to stop before it gets to that point.

I pretty much need all the tools available to keep my sanity intact. My faith is very important, as are my relationships, but most women don’t find many barriers to developing faith practices or relationships. Society supports and expects that. On the other hand, I know a LOT of women who say they would like to exercise but can’t take time from their families, jobs or other commitments for themselves. Now that I have years of proof that exercise is key, I  want to preach a gospel of self-care that includes exercise, not just for weight maintenance or muscle toning, but for stress relief. The saying goes, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t NOBODY happy.” I really, really want you to take care of yourself for your own sake, but if you can’t do it for you, do it for the people around you. Go ahead, pop an endorphin anti-depressant. Be a rock star.

My Inner DJ

After Michael Jackson died, I woke up every day for two weeks with the song, “The Way You Make Me Feel” playing in my head. For about that same period of time last July I had a variety of Lady GaGa songs greeting me in the morning and, as I recall, “Pokerface” was the one I was most likely to hear. As clear and abrupt as a clock radio, my inner DJ was hard at work. I am most aware of my own personal disc jockey when I am riding my bicycle on my own. Unfortunately, DJ seems to have limited material to work with. For instance, on my most recent ride of 24 miles (good weather, nasty road conditions, gear-shifting problems, and some serious saddle soreness,) I was rockin’ out to KISS, “I Wanna Rock and Roll.” Which was fine for the first ten miles or so, because it has a good beat and I can pedal to it. But after ten miles, it started to get annoying. I made a request for anything else. Apparently in my head the flip side to that party classic is Loverboy’s “Everybody’s Workin’ For the Weekend.” Horrible. Much worse. I tried hitting my mental “shuffle” and what came up was “Life is a Highway,” (by Rascall Flatts not Tom Cochrane, no idea why) and “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics. Not what I wanted, but better. However, every time I hit a hill and had to really put my head down and work, I’d lose control of the playlist and by the time I’d crested the climb, KISS was back and we were rock and rollin’ all night long and partying every day. 24 miles. That’s almost an hour and a half.

For five years I taught an indoor cycling (aka spinning) class, and to this day I still hear songs I like and try to calculate if they would work in a set and how I’d use it to joyfully and sadistically impose fitness on my spinners. None of the songs my inner DJ is playing on bike rides are songs I’d have picked for class, and I have a library of hundreds of songs I’ve used. It is as though when my adrenaline and endorphins are pumping my brain goes back to the primitive state it was in the 80’s. This may also explain why I have a hard time doing math immediately after a workout–I don’t think the math center in my brain really got going until the 90’s. Mr. Janish, my high school algebra teacher, would back me up on this. In the early morning my DJ likes pop music and big hair bands are the thing for punishing bike rides. I need to work on the repertoire. As much as I like the absolute quiet I work best in, I need to pull out the iPod or turn on the radio and replenish my inner library. What would you recommend?

Cyclists: Smug but Balanced

I have been a cycling enthusiast for over ten years now, though I’ll admit I have been more enthusiastic some years than others. I have done the century rides (100 miles, yes, in a single day) and the multi-day rides, the triathlons and team triathlons, the fundraisers, the group rides and the solo rides. I love the bicycle and the road and the hills. Not so much the wind or the “rumble bumps” engraved into the shoulders of the pavement, but what can you do? Another cyclist friend of mine has a friend and a neighbor who despises cyclists on principle: we don’t belong on his roads. There is a statute in Minnesota <169.222> that says we actually do, but as far as he and his like-minded buddies are concerned, that is beside the point. I kind of get it. It can be nerve-racking sharing a lane with someone who has nothing but two narrow spinning wheels, a helmet and some Lycra between him/her and the road. Keeping an eye on the distance between the cyclist and yourself as well as the oncoming traffic also can be a little stressful as I know from my own experience, especially when some bikers (like some motorists) can be a little unpredictable. But I don’t think these valid concerns totally explain the hate.

Having hung out with and observed cyclists individually and in groups for years I say this with conviction: we can be a smug, self-righteous bunch. We are in love with our bikes, our gear, our numbers of miles, our average speed and our highest speed. We love our tight molded calves and our endorphin rushes. We even love the “ring tattoo” of black grease many of us wear on our right legs after a few stops and starts. We love drafting off each other, our front tires inches from the back wheel of the cyclist ahead of us giving us free speed until our turn at the front, and when we get fancy and whip out the rotating paceline, where two tightly packed lines of cyclists synchronize movements in an aerodynamic road ballet, well then, we are downright infatuated with ourselves. Because it is cool. And it’s challenging to work up the skills and the miles and the confidence to do it all. We like that we power our own rides. We like the sounds, sights and smells of the outdoors (most of the time.) We like how the stress of the office, the relationships, the future all falls away as we press forward—building speed on the flats, heaving up the hills, shooting down the other side and doing it again as we push our hearts, lungs and muscles to go farther, or faster or just to go. You have to have balance to stay upright on two wheels, but spending time on a bicycle brings balance to life. Life just looks different from a bicycle saddle.

So we can be a little obnoxious, drinking post-ride beers in our sweaty Lycra with our grease tattooed calves, laughing uproariously at endorphin-fueled stories of the guy who got off the route and had to be chased down and returned. Maybe the conversation turns to bike trips in Napa Valley, or Europe or to the newest, best bike tech with the absurd price tags. We might groan about our aching whatevers, but we feel good. That can be hard to be around, but don’t hate us because we are celebrating our good fortune to be cyclists. Come join us instead.

Coming soon: an excerpt from Hollywood University. We are looking for representation, so if you like it and know someone in the publishing world, let me know!