Holding Myself Accountable: Cycling Goals 2022-2023

2022
Armed Forces Cycling Classic’s Challenge Ride – DONE
Saturday, June 4

9 laps in 3 hours (my goal) | Crystal City, VA
Beneficiary: various charities
Empire State Ride 2022
Sunday, July 24 – Saturday, July 30

500+ miles fully supported | New York
Beneficiary: Roswell Cancer Research
RBC Century Ride
Sunday, August 21

100 miles | Reston, VA
Beneficiary: Reston Bike Club
Lime Connect Century Ride
Saturday, October 8

100 miles | Reston, VA
Beneficiary: college-bound high school seniors with disabilities
72 Hours to Key West
Thursday, November 3 – Saturday, November 5

280+ miles | Ft. Myers to Key West [Florida]
Beneficiary: Tiny Hands Foundation
2023
Bike to the Beach
Saturday, April 22
100+ miles | Miami to Key West [Florida]
Beneficiary: Autism
Loudoun 1725 Gravel Grinder
Sunday, June 11
40 -or- 60 -or- 80 miles | Middleburg, VA [Salamander Resort]
Lake Anne SUP Triathlon
August – DATE TBD

SUP + Ride + Run | Reston, VA
Beneficiary: Reston CORE Foundation

Past RIDES I HAVE DONE Multiple Times That I Recommend:
TD Five Boro Bike Tour + Bike Expo New York *super fun, not a race
First Sunday in May

40 miles on car-free roads and bridges | New York City
Beneficiary: Free bike education to kids in the five boroughs (largest charitable bike ride in the US)

RIDES I HAVE NOT DONE, But Are on My List:
Bike MS
Date Varies Based on City

15 to 150 miles | 68 City Options Throughout the US
Beneficiary: The National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Tour de Perry *after the ride you can enjoy the Perry Chalk Art Festival
July

17 -or- 31 -or- 53 miles | Perry, NY
Beneficiary: N/A

Carving the Way: Author, Athlete, + Influencer Hayley Diep

Hayley Diep, author
Hayley Diep, author

Q: What age did you first ride a bike?
A: My parents got me on a bike when I was about 5. I had one of those pink/purple “girl” bikes that I’d ride up and down my street. We lived on a hill, so I had some fun scrape-ups, but I stopped riding bikes after elementary school and didn’t get into biking again until my senior year of college. At first, I was using my bike to commute. I didn’t start riding for fun or as a sport until I was 23. My husband and I got into doing triathlons, and so I learned how to do road rides. I didn’t even know mountain biking was a sport that you could do until I was 25!

Q: What is your favorite style of riding?
A:
It is so hard to choose between road or mountain biking! I love them both. They each have their fun and challenges, but right now, I have been really enjoying mountain biking. I like being on trails and learning new skills. It’s the most satisfying feeling to come back to a trail and conquer obstacles that I couldn’t do before. I feel like with mountain biking, I can see my progress. Also, I don’t have to worry about getting hit by cars.

Q: What was one of the most challenging rides you have ever done?
A:
A 121-mile bike ride (road ride) with a little over 8,000 feet of elevation gain total. Five thousand feet of the elevation gain was in the first 20 miles. It was the longest ride I’d ever done, and it took a lot of mental willpower and food to finish it. 

Q: What is your dream ride trail or destination?
A:
I don’t know if I have a dream ride trail, but I’d love to try mountain biking out in Moab, Utah. I’ve seen photos and videos. The trails out there look beautiful. I’m just not sure if my skill level is there yet.

Q: What or who influenced you to write your book?
A:
I was inspired to write my book after a bike ride with friends. My two friends and I had been the only women on a trail. I drove home that night with the line in my head, “If you give a girl a bike, she will ride and ride and ride.” Then, my book was born. I thought about the other male-dominated sports that exist that I enjoy doing and figured that my character could do them all!

Q: Why did you choose The Be Good Foundation as one of the recipients of your book proceeds?
A:
The Be Good Foundation is one of six foundations that will receive proceeds (only if the book is bought directly through my website, though). I chose it because I love its mission and all of the good that it is trying to accomplish. It is removing unexploded ordnances in Laos that were left behind from the Vietnam War. My family is from Vietnam and escaped after the war, and so I know how the war has directly impacted people who live in those countries. My family was lucky enough to leave. It is unfortunate that not everyone has that opportunity and that their homes aren’t safe due to these unexploded bombs. I love that the Be Good Foundation is trying to make these places safer for the people. I also love that it supports other cycling-related nonprofits to help get more people on bikes.

Q: What do you hope readers will take away?
A:
I hope that all readers, young and old, will be inspired to get outside and try any of these sports. I also hope that all girls, but specifically minority girls, will see themselves in this book and know that they are capable of doing these sports. 

Q: Why did you select Braden as your book illustrator?
A:
I chose to go with Braden because I liked the dynamic movements in his art and his characters’ silly facial expressions. When I saw his art portfolio, I knew right away that I wanted him to bring my book to life. He is such a talented and creative illustrator. Also, I love Star Wars, and when I saw his drawings of Star Wars characters, it was a done deal!

Q: What are your plans as an author?
A:
I am currently working on a picture book biography and a middle-grade novel. I’m going to try to be traditionally published next. We’ll see how it goes!

Q: Who is your female athlete idol?
A: I have several female sports idols. Ayesha McGowan (IG: @ayesuppose) and Brooklyn Bell (IG: @badgal_brooky) are both cyclists who are breaking down huge barriers for women and women of color, which is so inspiring to me. Rebecca Rusch is another idol of mine. She is an incredible cyclist who is doing so much good for the world through her foundation and way of life. Last but not least, Sky Brown. She’s a 12-year-old skateboarder who is fearless and flies up halfpipes! She’s a superhuman kid!

Q: Where can people buy your book, If You Give a Girl a Bike?
A: My book is available in local bookstores and Amazon, but it is preferred if people order it through my website www.hayleydiep.com so that 10% of proceeds can be donated to charities such as the Be Good Foundation and National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA).

training ride in West Virginia

Ride On

Last year was rough for everyone, but we seemed to find ways to pivot and do the best we could. To me, that is the spirit of a strong-minded and resilient woman!

I focused on cycling. I have loved the sport since I was a little girl and received my first bicycle with training wheels. I could not wait to get my training wheels off! In the beginning, I must have wiped out more than a dozen times, but I was determined to succeed because my bicycle gave me a sense of joy and freedom that fills my soul to this day!

Fast-forward a couple of decades, eager to share my passion for cycling, I became a bike ambassador for Fairfax County and a certified Schwinn cycling coach. Last year, I signed up for The Empire State Ride, a 500-mile ride across New York to raise lots of money for Roswell Cancer Research (please click here to make a donation). In 2020, ESR was virtual due to COVID, and they deferred our registrations. I have every faith that all of us riders will come together this year, and ESR will proceed as planned on July 25!

This past year I connected with other women cyclists who also registered and are training for the endurance ride. We have never met, but we keep each other motivated through Strava with our posts about the lows and highs of our journeys. I cannot wait to meet these amazing ladies in person! Of course, my training would not be as effective without my gear from Terry Bicycles. When I’m on training rides outside, I love my Terry Soleil Hoody for comfort, style, sun protection, and my trusty Terry Touring shorts. Similarly, my Terry Soleil shorts are a staple item of comfort during long rides indoors, allowing me to stay focused.

All my rides right now revolve around ESR training. Although I was bummed about the one-year delay, I’m excited to have had extra time to prepare for this personal challenge. It is my first endurance ride, and this year is extra special because a few weeks before the ride, I will turn the big 5-0 (shhhh!). The little girl on training wheels with a passion for cycling could never have imagined that she would be striving for new heights in cycling decades later.

NOTE: Terry Bicycles is a cool women’s bike apparel company owned by a woman with products designed specifically for women.

Getting Technical: From Hobby to Non-Traditional Job

Sam on a solo road trip adventure during winter break 2019 of her senior year. She brought her mountain bike along and rode all over Arizona (as seen in the photo), Colorado, Utah, and more!
Sam on a solo road trip adventure during winter break 2019 of her senior year. She brought her mountain bike along and rode all over Arizona (as seen in the photo), Colorado, Utah, and more!

National Bike to Work Week starts today! Coincidentally, I spotted Samantha, a bike tech from Spokes Etc., when I brought my bike in for service. I thought cool, a female bike tech in a dominantly male trade! I reached out to her by phone to request an interview, and she said yes.

I encourage all of you Gals on the Go to follow your passions like Sam!

Q: How long have you been a bicycle service tech?
A: About four years; I mostly do it in the summer when they need part-time workers. I started working as a bike tech part-time when I was in college.

Q: At what point did you repair a bike, and decide I enjoy this, I want to learn more and become a bike tech?
A:
I was a mountain bike camp counselor and loved being able to solve maintenance issues then and there to get people back on their bikes to complete the trail. Also, I grew up building and fixing things with my dad, so I was familiar with tools and thought it would be cool to learn even more about fixing bikes. I found it less intimidating to start working on a bike rather than a car or motorcycle.

Q: What is your favorite thing about being a bike tech?
A:
Problem-solving and help others. Plus, discounts on awesome bikes and gear!

Q: As a female tech, do you feel like you have had to work harder to prove yourself?
A:
Not so much. At times I have felt that I want to prove I can do anything a guy can do, but there comes a point when I accept I may not have the same experience, and some bolts aren’t worth fighting with if you have someone else who can do it with more ease (if you don’t have someone else, just find a longer lever). Many times it comes down to technique, not strength. When I feel defeated about a repair, I usually learn a new way to do it for next time so that I will be able to do it on my own. Personally, as long as it doesn’t happen often and I feel like I gave it my best shot, I find it’s OK and typically ideal to ask for help.

Q: What is the most challenging repair you have had to do? How long did it take you to complete?
A:
I mostly build new bikes, fix small maintenance issues, or install new gear on bikes. The most challenging bike repair I have done (which wasn’t so challenging) was replacing a grip shifter on an old Fuji Sundance that I bought used online. It took me about two hours to complete. The most challenging repair I have done in general was on my car. I replaced the brake pads on my front wheels, which was challenging in many ways and took me close to about eight hours to do.

Q: What is your favorite tool to use? Why?
A:
There is a tool called the fourth hand. It allows you to grab and pull cables without using your hands. It’s useful because your hands get greasy and slippery, and it becomes hard to get a tight pull on the cable to get it to the right tension. Not only is it hard to pull the cable tight with greasy hands, but I have had the cable slice my fingers before from trying to pull it tight (Talk about a cringy paper cut!).

Blogger’s Note: A fourth hand is the name of a specialized bicycle tool for manipulating brake and derailleur cables. The fourth hand allows a mechanic to keep the cable in place while they adjust the tension.

Q: Do you have a favorite or least favorite type or brand of bike to work on?
A:
Not particularly. If it’s a bike, I enjoy working on it. No brand is my least favorite. But, my least favorite type of bike to work on is an inexpensive bike because chances are that everything breaks and it was not correctly assembled from the start. You end up going down rabbit holes never fully satisfied with the end product. My bike is always my favorite! But there are parts of it that can be a pain to work on, like internal cable routing because the cables can get stuck in the frame, and all you can do is hope that eventually it pops out if you wiggle it the right way.

Q: What bicycle do you currently ride?
A:
Trek Remedy 9.7 (2018)

Q: What is your dream bike to own and ride? Why?
A:
Hmm, that a toughy. My dream is to have a bike for every situation. My wish list includes a downhill bike, full-suspension mountain bike, hardtail trail bike, road bike, gravel bike, fat tire bike, e-road bike, an e-mountain bike.

Haha, but for a single dream bike right now, it would be either a Specialized/YETI/Santa Cruz/Trek, Bass boat blue and teal paint with disc breaks, a dropper seat post, 160mm in the back, and 170mm travel in the front with suspension lock out and dampening, carbon rims. I want a bike that I can take anywhere, and it never limits me. The rider should always be the limiting factor, not the bike. Something like my Remedy! But with a different paint job and a few upgraded components.

Q: What advice would you share with girls/women interested in learning how to fix bicycles on where to start?
A:
Start small and work your way up; when in doubt, jump right in! Try adjusting comfort items like the seat height and rotation of the levelers on the handlebars first, then work your way to more advanced repairs like replacing tubes/tires and so on. Also, buy an older bike. Things will need fixing/maintenance, and you can learn to fix them as you go.

Going With the Flow

Mask I custom made with logo permission from Roswell so I can continue to promote ESR.

Life is a series of changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. – Lao Tzu

I am bummed to share the news that the Empire State Ride (ESR) is called off this year.

I support ESR creator, Terry Bourgeois’, decision to cancel the cross-state ride in July. It was the responsible choice given the New York locations, the number of riders involved, and the proximity we would all be during meals, tent lodging at night, etc. However, I cannot deny the fact that I am very disheartened by the news.

I enthusiastically signed up for ESR20 on November 13, 2019, and my devotion has never wavered! I passionately pursued my vowed fundraising minimum of $3,500, which has been a huge challenge under COVID-19 circumstances, and I will continue my efforts. Raising funds for cancer research is something I believe in deeply. If you follow my blog, you know that losing my friend Beth to cancer in March kicked my spirit and booty into high gear, both literally and figuratively.

ESR registration for all road warriors was deferred to 2021, so my goals to ride 500-miles across the state of NY and raise funds for cancer are not over, but merely postponed! I am beyond grateful to all of you who made donations and to those of you who I hope will make donations as I continue my cancer research fundraising quest into 2021. When I commit to a cause, I DO NOT QUIT! In the words of ESR… Cancer isn’t stopping. So we can’t either.

___________

Organizers of the Empire State Ride sent us the following announcement… [I am sharing it with you, my amazing donors and supporters so that you know your money is still going to cancer research as initially intended, just without the ride event this year.]

When you’re riding a bike and approach a hill, what do you do? You shift gears to accommodate the terrain, which allows you to continue to the next leg of your journey. You adapt to conquer your challenge.

Well, this year, COVID-19 is our challenge. And to overcome it, we have to shift gears on the Empire State Ride.

Unfortunately, our week-long adventure cannot take place as it usually does. But our road warriors can still make an impact on the future of cancer research.

As a safer alternative, from July 1 until August 1, we are asking our road warriors to cycle 500+ miles any way they’d like.

The funds you have raised so far are critical to advancing cancer research and are already hard at work. We know you worked hard to fundraise this year and want you to continue your #ESR20 efforts. That’s why whatever fundraising amount you achieve by August 31, will boost your #ESR21 fundraising efforts.

The donations you raise for the Empire State Ride this year will support the most promising, cutting-edge research globally, and at Roswell Park — immunotherapy. It’s the future of cancer treatment, and Roswell Park researchers are leading the way in developing these new therapies that help our immune systems fight and kill cancer. They’re our best hope for saving more lives.

The 500+ Mile Challenge

Even though we can’t gather, we are still determined to make this summer impactful and fun for all our registered road warriors. We can ride 500+ miles throughout July outdoors or indoors on your bike trainer. We will track everyone’s mileage via our Strava Club.

RIDE ON!

The Power of Support

  • Positive Mindset Quote
  • Guardian Angle Healing Stone front
  • Guardian Angle Healing Stone back

Since 2015, I have challenged myself in a range of physical feats from Spartan Trifectas to Tougher Mudders, Ragnar Relays, Seaweeze half marathons, and soon my biggest one of all in July, the 500-mile Empire State Ride (#ESR20) for cancer research. I wouldn’t have the courage to do them if it weren’t for the support of friends, family, volunteers, and donors.

Physicality is a crucial aspect of training and performance, BUT never underestimate the power of positive mentality. Even though I trained hard, I wasn’t the strongest or the fittest in any of the races I have done. I cannot control those factors for a variety of reasons. Instead, I turn to what I can control, my mental focus, and attitude.

I repeatedly say to myself while training and during events that I am my only competitor. I never look at courses in advance in detail. I read about what a course consists of to help me train properly, but that’s it. I rather face the challenges at the moment and not give in to potential thoughts of psyching myself out.

Also, I don’t believe that mental strength is a solo accomplishment. Think of all of the times you mentally call upon living or deceased family member(s) or friend(s) to help pull you through a situation.

What about the influence of volunteers? A volunteer cheering for you along a race route can have a powerful effect on lifting your energy level and your mental spirit. That is one of many reasons why I have gratitude for event volunteers. When you travel solo and do races, a volunteer’s physical presence and encouraging words can have a significant impact on your success by helping refocus your mindset when you start to feel drained!

Then there are donors, who play a key role in fundraising events. Whether it’s in the form of money for the charity or goods from a company. Each time I receive a donation from a person or business, no matter how small or large, I am grateful. It makes me feel like the person or company believes in me!

The moment of clarity about the power of support by others came to me during a peaceful training ride this past Sunday while I was “talking with” a friend who recently crossed from living to deceased.

I received word nearly two months ago that my friend Beth, battling breast cancer for the second time, was moving to California at the end of February to be with her daughter. I spoke with Beth, and the last thing she said to me was wow, about the 500-mile ride, and that once she is back on her feet, I have to come to visit her in California. But two weeks later, on March 13, she passed away. Beth was super kind and spunky with an F cancer attitude. If anyone was going to beat cancer, I thought it would be her.

Three days after Beth’s death, my friend Maureen, Beth’s best friend, contacted me to say she had a healing stone for me with a guardian angel on one side and Beth’s thumbprint on the other. Maureen explained to me that hospital volunteers helped Beth to make them. The healing stone came in a small powder blue drawstring pouch.

I immediately went home and attached the pouch to the front of my bike handlebars. Each time before I do a training ride, I say, are you ready, Beth? Let’s do this!!! Some of my training days go better than others, but I always know and feel that Beth is with me, nudging me on.

The Empire State Ride benefits cancer research at a time when funding is needed more than ever to help those battling all forms of cancer. The pandemic significantly increases cancer patients’ vulnerability to losing their fight.

I have a lot more physical training ahead of me for the ESR, but I know from the past, that with positive mental focus drawn from the support of others I can do it! Especially with Beth riding my handlebars and steering me along the way!

If you would like to make a contribution on #GIVEFROMHOMEDAY to the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, and help me reach my goal of raising $3,500, please click on the link to my donation page. THANK YOU

Shout-Out to My Supporters:

Thank you to each of my Empire State Ride donors, especially those who gave during the pandemic financial crash. Also, recognition to Terry Bicycles, particularly Lisa and Camarin, who have generously helped me to get the quality and safe cycling gear that I need.

Maureen Kennedy
Rita Rich
Stephanie Khan
Philip Avner
Marion Anthony
Kirk Nangreaves
Alicia Zimmerman Kenney
Linda Barefoot
Nicolas Stutzman
Jerri Limer
Christina Lemucchi
Lori Joyce

Drafting With Style

Jeff Burden

drafting (verb) – A group of cyclists riding in a close line one behind the other, taking turns riding up front pulling the line before peeling off and linking onto the back.

Cyclist: Jeff
Insta: @jeffreyness
Studio: New Trail Cycling

When Jeff Burden leads a cycling class, he brings it!!!! From his signature blond Mohawk to his hearty laugh, passion for music, and shy, yet lively personality. There’s never a dull moment when you take Jeff’s class! We sat down together at a local coffee shop, and he candidly shared when his passion for riding sparked and about his recent health scare.

Q: When did you first take up the sport of cycling?
A: So it’s funny when I was a kid, my grandmother gave us our first 10-speeds. Mine had training wheels on it. I have a twin sister. Both of us had training wheels. She was riding out having fun, and I was still spinning on my training wheels. That should have been a sign that I was going to be an indoor cycling coach. 😉 I was pedaling and going nowhere, but I kept at it, and eventually, I was riding all around town!

Q: Who or what influenced you to become a cycling instructor?
A: I was a sports science guy in college. Teaching fitness classes, personal training, and what have you. When I realized that I couldn’t grapevine, I needed a cardiovascular modality that I could teach because I wanted to teach group fitness. This was back in ’99 in college. I took a spin certification and started teaching spinning classes for UNC (the University of North Carolina). That’s how I got started teaching!

Q: How do you prepare for teaching a cycling class at New Trail?
A: I figure out what kind of profile, what kind of challenge I want for the class. Do I want it to be hills, fast, a mix? Once I figure that out, I find music to put with it to make it fun, to capture the highs and lows of motivation. It’s kind of hard because I like so much music. I’ll usually go to different places and listen to music to find inspiration, and then I slowly piece it together. Before class, I get into performance mode. I was almost a music major. I sang opera and jazz in college. I still have some songs I recorded up on Spotify. I sing in bands and write music. (Unknown factoids about Jeff! They should be used for future New Trail Cycling trivia questions.😉 )

Q: What is your greatest reward in teaching cycling?
A: When you’re in front of a group of people, and you’re challenging them, and you’re encouraging them, and they’re appreciative at the end, all the glows and smiles on faces, that’s reward enough. Especially if you have a magical class where everything falls into place, and everybody’s happy at the end, and they keep coming back. That’s great! Also, when they improve after stringing a few classes together — they see their progress and become more confident, especially if they’re a beginner rider. When they feel empowered, that’s always awesome.

Q: What is your favorite style of cycling class to teach, and why?
A: It depends. I ebb and flow. I teach a lot of different formats. Not just cycling. I’m a kettlebell guy; I do TRX work, yoga, and more! But at New Trail, Sunday morning is a prime time — I get to entertain and motivate. It’s a great group! Afterward, I do a core stretch; it’s a nice restorative wind down that everybody appreciates. I get gratification from every format. Different parts of my personality come out; I like it all!

Q: What is your favorite time of day to teach, and why?
A: That’s a good question. I’m a night owl, but I think Sunday morning is a great time to teach — the excitement and anticipation. It’s not too late; it’s not too early. You’re awake and ready! I guess if I was playing in a pro sport like the NFL, you know everybody’s ready for game time. It’s exciting. That’s how I feel about the House Ride class on Sunday at 9:45 a.m. Sunday football — the jets are flying overhead, the anthem being sung, the crowd roaring. That’s the mindset I get into on Sunday mornings.

Q: What is your favorite style of music for teaching, and why?
A: I’m pretty eclectic with my music. Lately, I’ve been gravitating more toward hip-hop and R&B. Thinking, okay, it’s going to be a party, you know, and I want songs that I can get into, and that everybody else can get into, and then mold the class from there. That’s my phase now. I’ve played everything from rock to Mongolian rock band chanting.

Q: What is your favorite song on your current playlist?
A: I’m into old school Eminem right now for whatever reason. He’s such a smart Alec and so edgy. I’m vibing on the edgy side now. I think edgy goes well with my personality. It’s fun to push the envelope.

Q: How do you engage people of all fitness levels in your class?
A: If they’re brand new, I tell them it’s your ride; don’t make a judgment from your first ride because there’s a learning curve. Give yourself at least five rides before you determine that you like it or not. Also, we have a Motley crew of instructors with different personalities and styles. I might not be your cup of tea, but I’m sure there’s somebody in our group who will resonate with you. I encourage newbies to find their niche where they’re having the most fun and then build a base from there. For those with a few rides under their belts, I try to keep it entertaining. For experienced, seasoned riders, I try to press buttons to drive them further. I hope to challenge everyone overall, but one person’s definition of challenge is different from another. I try to figure out what motivates people. Some people like singing in the back of the class, and having a good time. Others are about metrics, focused on the numbers. I try to acknowledge and encourage people in class; let them know that I truly see them and recognize them for doing the work. Everybody’s personality is different, so things are always changing depending on the group that’s in front of you.

Q: You served as a Marine. Does your military background influence your teaching style in any way?
A: Oh, definitely! I can crack the whip. When I sing call and response, it’s Marine Corps influenced. It may seem like I’m a DJ, but the call and response element of my teaching is to get people involved and engaged, which is a Marine Corps thing. When you’re running, and the drill instructor is singing, and everybody has to sit back, it’s not only a morale booster, but keeps everyone focused, and coaching them to exhale. When you exhale, it keeps you in balance and keeps you from overworking and exhausting yourself. So there’s a spiritual motivation part of it and a scientific method to it. I can see how hard they’re working. I can gauge if they’re exhausted. If I want them to be exhausted, I’ll throw out a call and response. If nobody calls and responds, then I know they’re putting in the effort. Some sneaky tricks that I use to observe the crowd. You can’t make it obvious.

Q: Last year, you suffered from Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), and you had to be on leave for a while. Did that health scare cause you to make changes and/or influence your teaching style?
A: It was a pretty surreal ordeal. As far as taking care of my high blood pressure, it’s always been in the background. I knew it was a ticking time bomb, but it was kind of a pride thing because my mentality was I’m in the wellness fitness realm, I should be able to get these things under control myself. But different variables go along with that. Long story short, it has changed my style. I’ve been teaching riding for over 20 years. In the beginning, I was young and cutting my teeth, then I started getting in my physical prime moved by the music exclusively. A good thing about New Trail with the monitors and the variables is that you can focus on coaching, and play around with the metrics more than just being a dancy, raw, raw guy. That’s in the rearview mirror now. I can still be enthusiastic and charismatic and smart with coaching and give people a great ride, whether I’m a frothy mess or not. Because of my CHF, because of the medications I’m on, I can’t really go for it. Plus, I’m mindful of being aware and being present, and of where I am physically, so I have to play it by ear as far as that goes. Some days I’m an open book, and some days, I don’t want the attention for my CHF. It’s funny because when I came back from the hospital, people around me — landlords, whoever would be like, oh, I’m on blood pressure meds too, but I don’t like to take them: even my sister, my family members. But you don’t want to learn the hard way. If you’re aware that you have high blood pressure being proactive is what you need to do. If not, it’s going to eventually put you in a situation; hopefully, one that you survive. You know, there was no guarantee that I would survive. I could’ve had a stroke or kidney failure. It’s surreal because you don’t know. You could be just hanging out, having a good time, and have a heart attack or something like that. In retrospect, I see the signs, but when I was going through it, I didn’t know the signs. I did a happy hour on a Friday, and then myself and a couple of the other instructors walked over to Kalypso’s (Sports Tavern). We stayed out late, and when I got home, I thought I felt wiped out because I stayed out later than usual. I woke up the next morning, and I was supposed to go to karaoke, but I was like, I had difficulty breathing the whole day. That should have been a sign. I should have got it checked out, but I went the entire day. I even did a little kettlebell workout for the Gram (Instagram). I had my double 20, I had my double 62 pounds, and I was cleaning rack squats. I had just started a recording for Gram, but at the top of my squat, I couldn’t catch my breath, and I was like, this is unusual. And so I was like, well, whatever, I’ll suck it up for the Gram. So I did a few sets, and then when I was looking at the recording, I saw that I was, you know, I’m not a slim guy, but my stomach was puffy through my white shirt. I thought I was retaining water, but at 2:00 a.m., when I was gonna go to bed, I still couldn’t breathe. I was like, this is not good! So I drove myself to the emergency room, and they kept me there and said we are going to transfer you to the heart vascular unit. They did it, and they kept me there for a week to try and get my blood pressure under control. Now I have to weigh myself every morning, and if my weight is two or three pounds more, then I have to get checked out. I have to check my blood pressure to make sure it’s down. It was funny, not really, but when I got back from the hospital, I went to the emergency room two or three more separate times because I was freaked out about not being able to breathe well. A lot of it was asthma and different things like that, but not knowing, any little subtle symptom I experienced, I went back to the hospital cause I didn’t want anything to go wrong. Being aware and mindful and being wise about my nutrition and all that good stuff. Yeah, it’s been life-changing. I was chomping at the bit to get back on the bike. My first couple of weeks, though, I didn’t know if I could get back on the bike cause I didn’t have any energy. I jumped right back into teaching, but I was so exhausted I was like, I can’t do this anymore. But once I got adjusted to my meds and everything — got my feet under me, I said okay, I’m ready to get back! But it was hard. I was like, wow, I was staring mortality in the face!

Q: Is there anything you would like to share?
A: I encourage people who have never tried indoor cycling to give New Trail a shot because it’s a pleasant atmosphere. It has something for everybody, and it’s not overwhelming or pretentious. I’ve known Liz, the owner, for about 12 years. She’s good people, and it’s a great place to be!

Start to Finish: The Road to ESR20

Shout-out to Tori Menneto at Roswell Park for her constant communication with #ESR20 participants. She just sent us a detailed Travel Planner with tons of info on the things we need to know about the event route and more. I’m impressed with how well organized the Foundation has been, and I feel like I’m in excellent hands! They have taken every measure to provide us with as safe as an experience as possible.

esr20 route
Here’s the route for the Empire State Ride this year… every day will be a mental and physical challenge, but it appears Day 4 may be the most difficult. We will receive daily cue sheets, the route will be marked with orange arrows, and mechanics will be with us along the way to assist if we have a problem.

DATE ROUTE POINTS MILES
Day 1: Sunday, July 26 New York City to Yorktown Heights 56+ miles
Day 2: Monday, July 27 Yorktown Heights to Rhinebeck 54+ miles
Day 3: Tuesday, July 28 Rhinebeck to Albany 62+ miles
Day 4: Wednesday, July 29 Albany to Utica 95+ miles
Day 5: Thursday, July 30 Utica to Weedsport 82+ miles
Day 6: Friday, July 31 Weedsport to Spencerport 76+ miles
Day 7: Saturday, August 1 Spencerport to Niagara Falls 75+ miles

Saturday, August 1, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. riders will gather at a Niagara Falls rest stop for a police-escorted group ride to the FINISH LINE at Old Falls Street in downtown Niagara Falls!!!! (They estimate us reaching it at approximately 4:00 p.m.)

Friends and family can cheer riders on and join an outdoor reception at the end. To all of my Buffalo peeps, I would be beyond grateful to see your faces at the finish!

Gearing Up for ESR20

Sooo I signed up for an event, the Empire State Ride (#ESR20), without doing much research, after becoming increasingly frustrated by many people close to me battling or losing the battle to forms of cancer. The final push to register for the ESR came from a rousing speech made by Katie Couric about cancer research during an event I attended at the Smithsonian.

Mind you; this is not just any event, ESR is a 500-mile cycling expedition across the state of New York, starting in NYC and ending in my hometown area of Niagara Falls (Buffalo). Only 250 people dare to participate. Each come with different levels of riding experience and a shared goal to conquer cancer!!!! It will take seven days to complete the route, logging an average of up to 100 miles per day. To say I feel overwhelmed by it is an understatement, BUT ambition is a driving force behind tackling my goals. I have trained for and competed in Spartan Trifectas, Ragnar Relays, Seawheeze half marathons, and more! However, this will be the toughest physical challenge I have ever undertaken. I will share my journey with you along the way through my blog, Gal on the Go, my Instagram account @gal0tgo, and video clips.

What is the starting point for any goal? A plan of action to train properly! That said, I finally finished taking Coach Charlie’s awesome 22-week training program and entering all of the details on my Google Calendar. I have been training indoors unofficially at New Trail Cycling Studio in Reston, Va., since Thanksgiving. However, as of Monday, February 24, things are about to ramp up. Any big commitment takes sacrifice(s), so to my friends and family, I say please note the training schedule above, and I’ll see you again in August. THANK YOU FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING.

All ESR20 participants have access to an experienced coach named Charlie Livermore and a physical therapist named Easton Osborn. Both of who will be doing the ride with us. I share some of their key advice on training, bike gear, apparel, and more along the road to ESR20!

Training Tips From Coach Charlie:

I asked Coach Charlie advice about prepping my bike and he replied with words that really impacted me… “More important than the vehicle (bike) is the engine, and that’s you. The better prepared you are physically, the more you’ll enjoy the ride.” 

  • Consistency is the most important component of preparing to ride more than 500 miles.
  • Training begins with three rides per week and progresses to five rides per week.
  • Consistency and frequency are more important than any of the specific workouts in the program.
  • It is a progressive program beginning with steady-pace rides, followed by a block of tempo work, intervals, and then focus on climbing with repeats.
  • If you have to shorten workouts or intervals, it’s alright; it’s better than skipping them altogether.
  • If you have to miss a workout here or there, proceed forward and get back on track!

Every dollar counts! To make a DONATION, please go to… http://give.roswellpark.org/site/TR/SpecialEvents/General?px=1413083&pg=personal&fr_id=1550

Funds raised through the Empire State Ride are managed by the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that manages all donations made to Roswell Park. The Foundation earned the highest possible rating on Charity Navigator for the fourth consecutive year.

Check out the fun Empire State Ride feature story on newbie rider, Gal on the Go!
THANK YOU! YOU ROCK!

Keep on Moving

Stewart Beazell; Photo credit: Jennifer Heffner PhotographyCyclist: Stewart
Insta: @ridewithstew
Studio: New Trail Cycling

When Dr. Stewart Beazell isn’t practicing psychology, you will find her at New Trail Cycling Studio in Reston, Va., taking classes or coaching on Saturday mornings. I’m excited that Stewart took the time to sit down with me for an interview because cycling has been a passion of mine since I was a little girl. I hope this interview inspires other young girls to take up the sport of cycling, especially considering that many reports show that the percentage of kids learning to ride bikes in the U.S. has dramatically dropped in recent years! (see stats below)

Q: When did you first take up the sport of cycling, and why?
A: Both of my parents cycled together for years. They did bike races and things like that when I was growing up. We learned how to ride bikes early on and went on bike tours as a family to places like the Grand Canyon and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was a family event, and always fun! With indoor cycling, my mom took classes at our local gym from a friend decked out in full outdoor gear. The classes were long, like an hour and a half, because the teacher was an outdoor cyclist. I would go to the classes with my mom and I liked them. Then when I was in college, I took a group fitness class that was indoor cycling, and that’s when I fell in love with it! I liked the incorporation of current music, and you could get your friends to come to classes with you. I continued indoor cycling ever since. It’s an activity easy to find everywhere — there has always been a gym or a boutique studio that offers cycling classes near where I live. It’s a stress reliever for me. I love indoor and outdoor cycling equally, but for different reasons.

Q: Why did you become a cycling instructor?
A: I realized that as much as I loved taking other people’s classes, there were benefits to teaching, like not having to pay for classes. Being a grad student at the time, I thought, free membership, great, let’s do it! Why don’t I teach and see how it goes? I wasn’t excited about being in front of the room. I’m not a performer in that way — in front of a group of people, and I was kind of intimidated. At the same time, what pushed me to do it was encouragement from instructors who I was a regular in their classes. They would say to me; you should do it, you’d be great, you’re in here all the time. I said OK, I’ll try! You have to be certified to coach, and I was investing in the certifications, not sure where it was all going to lead me. I taught at local gyms for about a year before I started teaching at New Trail. I thought OK, this is what I want, to be at a place that focuses just on indoor cycling, and there’s a sense of genuine community. In the big box gyms, people don’t really know each other. But at New Trail, it feels more like home. I found out about Liz Kamp, the founder of New Trail Cycling, the summer before she opened the studio. I emailed her out of the blue and said, I like what your studio sounds like it’s going to be — creating a community rather than focusings on the instructors. I would like to teach there and be part of it! We’re Schwinn certified instructors at New Trail, and our style follows more of an authentic outdoor style of riding a bike.

I’m always riding even when I’m not teaching because I enjoy it so much. I love taking classes from other instructors because that’s how I learn. I look up to Liz. She’s a great instructor and a great example of a woman entrepreneur — how to start your own business, how to promote it, and how to be a great boss. She’s also a great owner; so cool and open to client feedback. She wants the studio to be a place where everyone feels welcome.

Q: What role does New Trail play in clients’ lives?|
A: For many people who come to New Trail, a positive aspect they can gain beyond a sense of community is learning how to work with their numbers. We have consoles, and we can help our clients look at their stats from when they first started and how their stats have changed over time. Whether it’s looking at average power (watts) for each class or how many miles someone averages per class. Those are ways clients can use the numbers to see their progress. Within that, we can look at those numbers and apply them to individuals in their upcoming classes. For instance, this is where your number is now, and if you increase the resistance and maintain your speed (RPM), this is how your power number will change. And, we tell them to pay attention to how they feel when change happens. Does it feel harder? If yes, where? In your legs? Breathing? Providing them with more of a mind-body connection. There are days when maybe your body doesn’t feel so great, and you know you won’t get the numbers you want. But, you can have the mentality of you know what, I’m going to take this class as it comes and do my best. I may not get my top numbers today, but I’m here, and I’m working at the capacity I can manage at this time. This helps clients have more bodily awareness. We purposely don’t put individual’s names or bike numbers up on a monitor for everyone in the class to see. That way, no matter what reason someone is coming to class, they can get out of it what they want and not feel like they are competing with others. New riders won’t be at the same level as those who have been coming to classes for a while. Our goal isn’t to get everyone to be at the same level; it’s to help people to reach their individual goals. People come to class for different reasons — some to relax and make time for themselves, some for their health, and some for race training. Pinning them against each other on a display board can be demotivating.

Q: What are the top three benefits of indoor cycling, and why?
A: It depends on the individual. General benefits are decreased fatigue and increased stamina over time. I would say the top three benefits are:

  1. You have a dedicated amount of time that you are on a bike, and you can work toward better health.
  2. You can track your fitness levels and see what changes occur and how your body feels different over time.
  3. It can help you manage mood, stress, and anxiety by allowing yourself time and space to focus on your mental health, get out of your head, tune into the music, and have some fun.

Q: Are there any areas in which people should be cautious?
A: Yes. Clients need to know the importance of rest and recovery. I didn’t learn that until about five years ago in grad school. It’s not sustainable to cycle daily long-term. It’s good to cross-train in whatever ways that means to you. If you cycle and lift weights, cycle and practice yoga — maybe all three if you choose, but not back-to-back. Give yourself time to recover in between. If you constantly go, your body will suffer, your progress will suffer, and if you get injured, that will ultimately prevent you from doing those things you enjoy. Finding balance and paying attention to how your body feels are very important.

Q: What is your greatest reward as a cycling coach?
A: The stories I hear from clients about how their lives changed for the better in terms of feeling stronger, more confident and being part of clients’ experience of feeling a sense of belonging and growth.

Q: Where do you see indoor cycling as part of your future?
A: I have casually thought about how I can marry my professional life and my life as a fitness instructor. I’ve wondered, is there a way I can do both in one space? A studio in which you can engage in therapy as a mindful aspect, space where you can take indoor cycling as a physical aspect, and maybe other classes like yoga. A wellness hub where you can go and instead of buying packages for each one of those things, figuring out a way where you can do each of them a few times a week in the same space. I think it would be cool to incorporate all of them — make them more integrated because they are each important and beneficial. I’m copywriting my idea now! 😉

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with my blog readers?
A: We need to figure out ways for girls and women alike to engage in fitness and be more supportive of one another. There’s a lot of competition in fitness created by our culture. We should focus on connecting and lifting each other up in all areas of life. Support is so important — like a mentorship with a woman entrepreneur like Liz. There are many resources that you can find and make connections with other women. Women who have been in their careers for 20 plus years love to share their wisdom and have you pick their brains. Don’t be afraid to ask other women for their advice!

INTERESTING FACTOIDS:

  • On average, boys cycle nearly 6 times as much as girls (138 miles/year versus 24 miles/year). National Children’s Bureau, November 2009
  • People who are confident biking as adults are more likely to have biked frequently when they were younger than those people who didn’t. Dill, J., and McNeil, N., Testing a Typology to Better Understand Bicycling Behavior and Potential, 2012
  • The number of women cycling decreased by 13% between 2000 and 2010. The American Bicyclist Study, https://www.bicycle-guider.com/
  • In the U.S., 24% of all bicycle trips are made by women and 76% are made by men. National Household Travel Survey, 2009
  • 87% of U.S. competitive cyclists are male, and 12% are female. USA Cycling, Active Member Demographics, 2009