Category Archives: fitness

Inspire me.


When I first began riding a little over four years ago, Strava was a relatively new thing in our neck of the woods but was gaining popularity rapidly. Likewise, there weren’t a lot of women riding single track, at least to the degree we have now. When I first began riding, there were a handful of women I knew of locally (Palm Beach County) that burned up the trails. I was always star struck when I encountered them, calling them out by name when I met them. Because Strava was new(er) to the area, my ride results put me toward the top of the leaderboard with them overall, and certainly within my over-50 age group. I ironically became known as a “fast” rider—something that felt quite novel to me at the time but certainly doesn’t apply to me today.

Fast forward four and a half years and women’s riding (and racing) have absolutely ballooned in numbers on a local level. Now, you are as apt to find women on the trails as you are men. I may be speaking out of turn, but I feel the numbers are perhaps 10:1, men to women, and perhaps even greater than that on the side of women. This is beyond impressive. The women shredding our trails are of all skill and age levels, as evidenced by the ride details I frequently chronicle on social media.

With this surge in women riders, my almost-55-year-old self has fallen significantly in the rankings with respect to speed. To be honest—I’m way down on the list. This used to bother me a bit purely from a mortality standpoint. I look at riders in their 20s, 30s and 40s and know they’re only going to get better with training, while I’m on a downhill slope at my age with respect to increasing my physical abilities. There is only so much an aging body can do, due greatly in part to an imbalance in hormones. Interrupted sleep. Decreased muscle mass. Increased body fat. Arthritic joints. And the list goes on. This is a fact of life and, one that’s hard for me to accept at times. I’ve written about this before. My mind tells me I’m decades younger than my soon-to-be 55-year old body tells me. This is not a pity party but rather a celebration–an absolute, total celebration.

Ladies, I want you to know you inspire me each and every day. You inspire me to do and be better. When I ride, it’s you I think about. You are my imaginary “rabbit.” I know I won’t catch you, but I will not finish the ride without giving it my all. You, my beautiful fellow female riders, inspire me. And, I hope that you find some inspiration in me, too. I hope, that just maybe because of me, you’ll find inspiration on the trails in your fifties and way beyond. Who knows? God willing, I will be the septuagenarian, octogenarian, and maybe even nonagenarian to whom you say, “Rider back.” One never knows what (or who) you’ll find ahead.

Happy trails, my amazing friends. x

Summer Break Back in the Saddle

Boy, have I missed this. Until this past school year, these commutes played such a huge part in our daily lives. Not being able to ride our bikes to school (because of the distance) is a sacrifice I’m willing to make in order for J-man to attend a suitable school.

I’ve blogged extensively in the past about the role these biking commutes played in our lives during J-man’s first few years of elementary school. Biking the few miles to and from school and work afforded so many opportunities for J-man’s growth, development and betterment that we simply miss out on by riding in an automobile.

Summer is here though, and I intend to take and make as many of these moments as I possibly can.

See ya around town.

 

 

CycloFemme 2019

Twenty. That’s the number of stoked women of all skill levels and riding abilities who joined me on a ride I organized last weekend. Some of these women traveled well in excess of 100 miles each way, to participate in this 8:00AM ride.

This is the second year I’ve hosted a CycloFemme ride, and the 8th year the organization has been encouraging women to “band together and celebrate collective momentum” over Mother’s Day weekend.  The organization’s ethos is simple: “inspire one more woman to ride a bike, and we can change the world.” This is a philosophy I can back wholeheartedly.

Despite a few raindrops, we had a fantastic 36-mile gravel grind. Yes, the trails brought forth beautiful sights and fantastic scenery, but the true highlights lie in the friendships—existing, rekindled, and newly minted. We shared endless laughs, engaging conversation (sometimes serious, but for the most part lighthearted). We got to know each other or, in some cases, know each other better. We talked weather, bikes, saddles (and lady parts), kit, shoe fit, summer plans, bucket list rides and trips, family, and Mother’s Day plans. Mostly, we just rode along and enjoyed being together, celebrating our collective momentum.

Thanks for riding with me, ladies. I look forward to doing so again soon. And no, we are not waiting until next Mother’s Day to pedal together. X

(The following photos are in no particular order, but well worth sharing. Some of these photos are courtesy of Annia Martinez of Outcast Cycling.)

 

Tales From the Trails

This past weekend, I participated in my fourth Club Scrub Growler—a grueling yet extremely scenic off-road ride that takes place annually here in South Florida. This was the first year my other half wasn’t able to join me. My plan was to hook up with someone, as I knew many friends would be riding. As fate would have it, that didn’t pan out, and I was okay with that. I’m accustomed to being a lone wolf.

I started the ride feeling great. The morning was beautiful and the pace moderate. At just under ten miles we encountered a friend of mine who was having a major mechanical problem. He is someone who has always encouraged me as a rider, so it was important to me to see if he needed assistance. His problem was far above my knowledge, but I was happy to hold his bike for him while he bypassed his derailleur and reset his chain. Once that was accomplished, I continued on my way.

The route eventually took us through miles of South Florida sugar sand, several inches deep in stretches. By 10:30AM the sun was high overhead and the glare and heat were reflecting off the white sand. At this point, the miles began to tick by slowly and my energy started to lag. All I could think of was the next SAG stop. By mile 32 or so I was ready to call it quits. I had zero energy left in my tank. I estimated the next SAG stop to be about five miles away. I was seriously thinking about calling my husband to come and pick me up. I had water, but the lack of food had derailed me. I ate some PROBAR energy chews—my go-to energy source on the trail—but they had absolutely zero discernable effect.

So. Much. Sand.

I reached the second SAG stop at about mile 37. I ate half a peanut butter sandwich, a banana and some watermelon and immediately felt markedly better. I refilled my water bottles and spent about 10 minutes stretching, as my left calf and right inner thigh were just starting to cramp slightly. After a 20-minute respite I felt much better and got back on the saddle to finish the ride. Back spasms aside, I finished the ride strong after about 7.5 hours (5:42 moving time).  

Don’t mind me. I’m just gonna lay here and stretch my back out for a minute or two.

As I reflect back on Sunday’s ride, it’s clear to me that finishing the ride wasn’t my greatest accomplishment. Showing up was my accomplishment. Committing to ride 60 miles despite not having a partner to ride with was my accomplishment. Giving myself a rest and a little selfcare when I needed it was my accomplishment. Getting back in the saddle when I felt well enough to ride was my accomplishment. Riding across the “finish line” was just the cherry on the sundae.

Note the calories burned. #gimmealltheicecream

If you ride and are ever in South Florida the first weekend in April, I urge you to participate in a Growler. You will have the time of your life. There is something for everyone—a short and extremely scenic 20-mile route, a more challenging 40-mile route, and the super challenging (in my estimation) 60-mile route. The sights alone are worth it. Afterward, you can enjoy a meal and cold beverage while you sit back and reflect on your myriad accomplishments.

Best finish line greeting ever.

A huge thank you to Juliana Catalfumo and Rob Rutstein for organizing this crazy event. And special thanks to the over-75 volunteers who gave countless hours in the days leading up to and after the event to make sure all 775 riders were fed, watered and knew exactly where to go. Y’all are rock stars.

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder 

This morning I took a little ride along a canal I frequently traverse.  The canal runs parallel to an exclusive golf and country club.  Although I’ve never been in this particular club, I can see quite a bit of the golf course’s perfectly manicured fairways and greens from my vantage point.  The pristine landscape doesn’t hold a candle to an untended hedgerow of bougainvillea that runs along the backside of the property’s concrete privacy wall.  The people inside those walls have no idea of the beauty and splendor on the backside of that wall.  The colorful flowers beckon a wealth of birdlife and butterflies.  


Although I’ve not visited this particular club, I’ve been to several just like it, usually to play golf.  They’re all interchangeable with the same ostentatious surroundings and an overabundance of obnoxious people.   Case in point, one time, about 10 or so years ago, the mister and I were playing a round of golf with friends at a club where we were members.  I was pulled aside at the turn by a golf course employee who informed me my Lija golf shorts were considered to be too short by a group of ladies who were also playing that day.  I was humiliated, to say the least, and forced to purchase a golf skort that reached well below my knees on my 5′ 3″ frame.  Yeah, good times. 

All this to say, the folks on the inside of that wall can keep their perfectly manicured property and I’ll happily stick to riding my bike on the far side of the canal, taking in the breathtaking view of unkemp bougainvillea, birds and butterflies.  Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.  

Untrammeled

Early last year, my husband walked into a local bike shop in search of a new bike for our son. Having given up his training wheels the previous month, and having outgrown his 20” Specialized Hot Rock, Jackson needed a new bike. Greg found a suitable bike and called me to bring Jackson over for sizing and to purchase it, if appropriate. I arrived at the store within ten minutes, looked at the bike and agreed it was the bike for Jackson. I told the salesman to ring it up, only to be asked to come back the following day, as the store would be closing soon. All the while, the store’s owner looked glaringly on with nary an acknowledgement, with arms crossed, not 15 feet away.

Irritated by an utter lack of consideration and the absence of customer service, Greg and I went to another local bike shop the following morning. We found not only a bike for Jackson, but also bikes for ourselves, too. That was February 24, 2015, and our lives haven’t been the same since.

Our family has experienced so much excitement, adventure and achievement throughout the past year. We quickly became bored with pedaling around sedate trails, and graduated to single track mountain biking. Of course, with this transition came new bikes—actually several new bikes, as our individual skill levels increased.   Biking has taken the place of dinners out, weekend getaways, daytrips, shopping trips, manicures/pedicures and everything in between. Dare I say, as a trade off, our quality of overall life has increased exponentially? There is much to be said for a family sharing an interest. This past weekend, my husband and I took first place in a local co-ed, two-person endurance challenge—a feat that required incredible teamwork. Four days later and we’re still reveling in our combined accomplishment and talking about what it took to pull off this victory—not from the standpoint of gloating, but from the perspective of unified teamwork and jobs well done.

Much like my  skateboarding adventures a few years ago, biking tests my mettle and pushes me beyond my comfort zone and oftentimes, physical limits.   And also like skateboarding, when I’m on the bike I’m not thinking about anything else. I’m purely and unequivocally living in the moment.   With the myriad distractions life has to offer, there’s beauty and peace in this experience.TT Flow

Perhaps the greatest by-product of this passion is the people we’ve met and friends we’ve made. To say we’ve met the nicest people isn’t hyperbole; it’s fact. I don’t know if I should attribute it to like-minded folks sharing a passion, or if we’re just a bunch of folks hopped up on fresh air and endorphins. Whatever the case, the folks we meet are genuine, happy, encouraging and uplifting people. They tend to be salt of the earth ladies and gents—some with small(er) children like us—who are eager to take a lap with you, talk bikes and components, and share stories of epic rides and trips, and dreams for said bikes, components, rides and trips.

Oh, and the bike store experience I very purposefully opened with? I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Early on, we were experiencing continued mechanical difficulties with a bike. A Google search directed us to a bike store in West Palm—Bike America. After speaking to a gentleman by the name of “Mike Jenison,” we decided to pay them a visit. Not only did Mike steer us in the right direction, his customer service was outstanding.   And, I don’t know if it was Mike’s charming personality, stellar customer service or what, but our first bicycle upgrades happened soon thereafter. Mike and his entire crew—Drew, Bolivar and Tom—have become not only our trusted equipment advisors, but friends and cheerleaders as well. If we hadn’t been turned away from the first store we visited, we wouldn’t have had the need to seek out another shop.   You know the saying—you don’t know how good an experience actually is unless you’ve had a comparably bad experience by which to make a comparison. And I’m sorry, but I can’t not mention Julie Roberts’ character’s famous Pretty Woman quote: “Big mistake. Big. Huge.” Yeah. Indeed it was.

When I say the past year has been quite a ride, I mean it in every literal sense of the word.New Year

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.” ~ Susan B. Anthony

Acceptance

Happiness can exist only in acceptance. ~ George Orwell


The above photo was snapped during a recent biking event.  I was participating in a time trial hosted by our local off road/mountain biking organization, Club Scrub.

At first blush, this photo depicts nothing really, except perhaps sheer determination.  It represents no great achievement for me personally except that I finished what I started.  I came in fourth out of four participants in my time trial class (sport).  Like the Olymics, there are only three podium positions in our club’s time trials.  The eight plus mile singletrack ride took every ounce of energy I had.  The day was unseasonably hot–88 degrees with 62 percent humidity resulting in a “feels like” temperature of 93 degrees.  Yes, it was incredibly hot, and I gave the ride every last drip drop I had within me, but the heat offered no excuse for the defeat I felt. The time trial was humbling. I don’t mean in an, “Oh, I’m so humbled…blah blah blah…” empty platitude kind of way. I mean humbled as in:  Oh!  My!  Gosh!  I’m 51 and my competitors range from YOUNGER than my daughter to (much) younger sister, and I simply could not hang with them.  I was so far out of my league I was in a different zip code.  I had a lunch of humble pie that afternoon.

As I mulled over my ride, I was really disappointed despite the effort I put forth–even though I knew I rode as hard as I physically could.  I simply couldn’t have done better.  And then it (slowly) dawned on me.  I am what I am.  I am who I am.  I am where I am.  I am me.  I was forced to acknowledge that I’m lavish with grace and acceptance with everyone except myself.  And dang it, I need to accept and EMBRACE my effort FOR just that–a whole lot of friggin effort. I need to be proud of myself for what I bring to the table. I can’t lie. That’s so darn difficult for me personally. As an overachiever to whom a lot of physical accomplishments have come easily, that’s humbling. But I’m gonna do it.  I need to do.  I need to do it for my own wellbeing.  So, I hereby resolve to cut myself some slack.  I’m officially giving myself a break and telling myself exactly what I’d tell my husband, daughter, son, mother or friend.  Bobbie, I’m proud of you.  You gave it your all girl.  Put on your big girl panties, find contentment where you are and celebrate those young(er) whippersnappers that kicked your tail.   They’re fierce gals–just like you.  Congratulations on a job well done, one and all.  #letsridebikes