Tag Archives: cycling

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

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.