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

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

Teaming Up With Terry

I have been a loyal Terry Bicycles customer for a few years after an employee from REI recommended the company to me for a saddle (LIBERATOR X GEL) for my Cannondale Quick. I reached out to Terry to share the news about my upcoming participation in the Empire State Ride to end cancer, and their response blew me away!!!! They asked me to be a brand ambassador and sent me two pairs of riding shorts perfect for a 500-mile ride. As if that were not generous enough, they also offered me a 40% discount toward supplies I will need for the cancer ride.

Check out my Gal on the Go YouTube video opening my first ambassador package from Terry:

About the Shorts They Sent Me:
NOTE: I will add reviews about the shorts after I wear them on a few rides. If they are anything like my fav Soleil Cycling Short by Terry, then yay!

  • EURO SHORT for all-day riding comfort
    Item No.:610079
  • TOURING SHORT/REGULAR for multi-day bike touring
    Item No.:610054

About Terry:
This kick-butt company, based out of Burlington, VT, was started by a woman named Georgena Terry. For more than 30 years, they have designed innovative bikes, saddles, apparel, and accessories that fit women on the go like myself. They believe in the transformational power of cycling, not just about selling products. They strive to help women be the best cyclist they’re capable of being! I hope you will check them out. A company that makes and sells great products is one thing, BUT to invest in members of their community in support of their goals like my ride for cancer research funds is above and beyond honorable. Terry is a company I am truly proud to be affiliated!

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!

Shifting Gears

 

Cycling has been a recreational passion of mine since I was a child. I vividly remember the day I got my training wheels off and I biked as fast as my little legs would peddle with a great sense of freedom! This past July, Nicole from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in serving my community as a Fairfax County Bicycle Ambassador. I instantly said yes! … and then um, could you please tell me what I just agreed to? 😉 She explained to me that the Bicycle Ambassador position is for one year and entails:

  • teaching and promoting cycling safety to Fairfax County residents in a fun way
  • giving presentations upon request on a variety of bike topics (ex. Bike to Work Day) at local businesses and organizations
  • handing out materials and assisting residents with basic bike maintenance issues if needed at local events

Things quickly got rolling! I enthusiastically shifted gears into my new position and became certified in First Aid. In August, I took part in a fun photo shoot in which the images will be used in various bike safety print collateral and on the coming soon website bikefairfax bikesafe.bikesmart. On September 20, I completed the required Fairfax County Bicycle Ambassador Program Orientation course with two other representatives. They gave us official ambassador T-shirts donated by Ben & Jerry’s that we must wear to all county activities we work.

In October, I attended my first local outreach event at the Providence Community Center in Vienna. I had a great time handing out the informative and detailed Fairfax County Bike Maps, safety literature and bike lights. The kids there were open to learning and very excited about riding the trails with their parents. My next appearance will be on December 4 at an outreach event in Tysons. I cannot wait to share my bicycle safety knowledge and spread the word about current resources available to bike riders and the awesome new county bike services on the horizon!

I just found out that one of the photos they took of me made the cover of the Fairfax County Bicycle outreach brochure! It’s been a great experience serving as a Fairfax County Bicycle Ambassador and promoting the safety of a sport that has nostalgic meaning to me.

Until their new website is ready, check out Fairfax County’s current bicycle resources web page.

Independent Ride

13 Colonies Ride (part of the 50 States Ride, 62 miles), Washington, DC
15 Miles
700 Cyclists (Sold Out)

I heard about this fun annual cycling event last year, but before I could sign up, it had sold out. It’s hosted by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), which I am proud to be a member. This year, I noted the registration timing of the event and entered The 13 Colonies portion before it sold out! The 13 Colonies is a 15-mile hilly ride through every Ward of the District and on every avenue named for the original 13 Colonies. Roads are open to traffic as usual and there are a lot of stops along the city blocks, which is probably why it’s an event rather than a race. The lunch pit stop took place under a tented area next to Eastern Market, located in the heart of the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood. The lively marketplace has been around since 1873 and features a variety of produce, handmade crafts and more. A bonus, there are also many delicious mom and pop restaurants and coffee shops in the neighborhood. It’s one of my favorite non-touristy places to wander around in DC.

FUN FACT: Can you name all 13 Colonies?
(Answer: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia) They are significant because these Colonies coming together formed the United States.