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Cycling Changed My Life

Tuesday Taylor

I was always an athletic child and teen. I kept active with softball, volleyball, track and field, and basketball during high school and into my early twenties. I moved to Seattle in 2010 and started working for an insurance company and, as many of us do in our adult lives, I started sitting behind a computer screen 8+ hours a day. I wasn’t attempting to combat that sedentary lifestyle with a healthier diet or exercise routine. Over the next 4 years, I slowly put on 40-50 pounds. In 2014, my husband and I decided to move back to the Folsom area to settle down and get out of the hustle and bustle of the city (and live in a warmer climate). My husband Patrick suggested that we get a couple of bikes so we had an outdoor activity to do together. I wasn’t confident in my biking skills and was so out of shape that it just wasn’t fun for me. I kept riding off and on but really had no discipline for it. While working from home I had put on another 20-30 pounds. I began feeling isolated and unsure of what direction I was going in my life. I was becoming increasingly unhappy in my job and with myself. I left my insurance job and took some time to figure out what I wanted to do. I had some medical issues that really forced me to face my weight issues head on. Because I was still unsure of my biking skills, I started running (slowly) to begin some sort of an exercise routine. I also started a new job where I was on my feet and walking around all day. I got into shape quicker that I expected. I started feeling hip pain from the impact of running. I knew that I couldn’t stop exercising so I decided to hop back on the bike. I couldn’t believe how much easier it was now that I was a little lighter! I had one pair of cycling shorts but no jerseys. My husband who was experiencing his own weight loss, handed down his now oversize jerseys. Once I got a little more comfortable on my bike, we started small. We live at the top of a hill right on the American River Bike Path. Because I was afraid I couldn’t ride up the hill and get home, my husband suggested we drive the bikes to Old Folsom, park and go around Lake Natoma. Eventually I was able to conquer my fear of hill climbing and started doing loops around Folsom. I noticed how the food I was eating was affecting my riding. So I started reading about nutrition for active lifestyles and trying new healthy recipes. At this point we were riding daily together. I wasn’t angry anymore. My husband and I were getting along better than we ever had. I started being more outgoing and less afraid and intimidated by things. We bought paddle boards this summer. This was something that I had tried before I started biking and I hated it because it was hard for me. I had no stamina or balance. Now we can paddle for hours! I have so many goals for my cycling life. I am about to start commuting to work and school. I am going to give Rodeocross a try and I will begin training for my first metric century soon. I might even sell my car. Overall, I have shed 90 pounds since last summer but I have gained so much more from this experience. I have found a lifelong love of cycling. I went from seeing cycling as a means to an end (weight loss) to seeing it as a lifestyle. It’s as much a part of my daily routine as brushing my teeth. I have found confidence and acceptance and I have found that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought.

Rebecca

The races we train for is the reward for all the training we have done. We owe it to ourselves to put everything out there on the line & give it 100% on race day. If we didn't give it our all we would be letting ourselves down. Well, I gave the race last week more than I ever thought was possible, more than I thought my body and mind was capable of. Some races we fly high as a kite. These are the races where weather is perfect, we nail our nutrition, we push out the exact watts we trained for (if not a few more), and we find it within ourselves to keep pushing, panting and pedaling even when our body tires. When the finish line is crossed the pride is overwhelming. We've done it. We've performed well. We’re elated. Bottoms up. Post. Cheers. High-Fives all around. Secretly, we are proud to have ridden like a girl. Then, there are races I label as "training races." Races where you figure things out like hydration and nutrition. Races where you learn something like when to push yourself to stay with a group and when to back off and wait for the next group – no mans land is never a good place to be. Races where you’re glad to have raced but even more appreciative for what you may have learned. Lastly, there are races that don't go as exactly planned. Races where you have to find it within yourself to keep pedaling in order to make it to the finish line. Races where one little minute seems endless. These races are the ones where we cross that finish line secretly hope someone will steel our bike so we never have to see it again. The week long race last week was all of those combined. In one word it was a race of commitment. The commitment to continue to the finish line despite the circumstances that arose. Although I’d cycled 7 days in a row for training I’d never raced for 7 continuous days. There’s a difference. Cycling at your threshold day in and day out does take it's toll. We had 4 seasons of weather during these seven days. Summer on day 1 where I flew high as a kite. Although the heat was overwhelming toward the end it was one of those perfect days. People (including myself) jumped in the lake at the end with the helmet & cycling shoes on just to cool off (and celebrate). We had fall with overcast skies and a light breeze which required nothing more than a gillet. Nutrition was key not to deplete the glycogen stores in the day to come. We had early winter with freezing fog, rain, wind, wet and cold. Many of us never did see a peep of the Sella Ronda. This is where I learned. I learned to put my food up my sleeves or in the legs of my shorts because my fingers were way too cold to find anything in my pockets. This was the day I pushed harder than I thought was possible in effort to simply generate body heat (and fight to keep my race position). Neoprene gloves & wind proof/rain proof jackets didn't seem to keep anyone warm. For three days rain hats, shower caps, buffs, muffs, booties of all models, and nano flex warmers were worn by all. We were quite simply frozen Popsicle's. We rode. We raced. We cried through the chatter of our teeth. We suffered - together. No one person was more miserable than the other. Then, we had winter snow which pretty much had you questioning why we were even outdoors. Lastly, we had early spring with clear skies & very cold temperatures. Your breath clouded your glasses before your eyes could take in any of the gorgeous views the last of the Dolomites offered. It was a test of commitment to continue this race each day as your hands froze and feet turned to bricks. The temptation to get on the train, to hitchhike (although no sane driver would have picked up a crazy cyclist), to peel off into the nearest hotel became a passing thought as we rolled passed one option after another. Commitment is a part of life. We were there to race and we girls can be stronger than we imagine. So, at your next race, when you might feel like giving in or letting up a bit on the effort, don't. Dig deep, keep pedaling & keep pushing. A little suffering is good for the soul. You’re stronger than you ever imagined! Ride on Girls.

Stan Schultz

I was a workaholic for years, but things got worse when I started working from home. It seemed I never left my office. This went on for a couple of years. While I didn’t mind working—actually, I really loved working—I was surprised when I began to get the sense that I was experiencing symptoms of depression. That just didn’t seem like me. I made a visit to my doctor who confirmed the likelihood of depression. Blood tests also revealed that I had high cholesterol and that I was about 25 lbs. over weight. I began taking medication for cholesterol and depression. Frankly, that in itself was depressing.

 After a few months, I began to realize that I personally had a little more control over my need to take medications. I learned that I could significantly reduce my cholesterol through increased exercise. Also, after reading a great book called “Spark," I realized that I could probably reverse my symptoms of depression through exercise. [Note: these things are obvious and very well-known to most long-time athletes, but it was news to me then]. I thought about the physical activities that I enjoyed through life (I was never a big athlete in school or anything). Golfing and riding a mountain bike (mostly on the road) were things I really enjoyed. I figured that biking would be cheaper and provide more exercise, so I hooked up with a buddy to ride each Saturday for a loop around Lake Natoma (about 10.5 miles). We were proud of ourselves when we finished in about an hour and 10 minutes. That kind of time around the lake warranted a latté after the ride!

 My friend somehow signed up for, and completed, a 50 mile Livestrong Challenge ride. He was so thrilled to have completed it, and told me he really enjoyed training component. That inspired me to sign up for a similar event, a metric century, 65 miles. With a goal set several months out, I had new purpose for my riding. I found myself wanting to find more friends to ride with, so I did a search online and felt that Cycle Folsom might be a good bike club for me due to their fitness-oriented culture. After just a few months of riding regularly with purpose, I easily completed the metric century I signed up for and set an additional goal to ride my first century (100 miles). I was so inspired by riding with a group that I became a ride leader within Cycle Folsom after about 7 months. I figured this would force me to show up, and I could have a little more control over the routes, pace, and distances I chose. I’m glad to say that I developed a following of people who liked my rides, so I began to have lots of company. This made me happy, and I could feel the exercise and the new friendships lifting the fog in my life that depression had created. I also really looked forward to getting away from work to ride a few times each week. I NEVER looked forward to exercise in the past.

 Cycling became such an important life-saver within my life that over the next 5 years, I voluntarily took over management of Cycle Folsom, grew the membership from around 120 on an e-mail list to a pretty well-organize club with nearly 850 members. About half of Cycle Folsom’s members are active each week, and we host rides for beginners, intermediate, and advanced riders. I personally ride between 100 and 200 miles each week now. I’m happy to report that my cholesterol level dropped through the floor a while ago (no drugs required, not even close), my weight is down and muscle mass is up significantly, and I no longer require any medication for depression. This past summer, I completed something called the Death Ride (formally known as the Tour of the California Alps). It’s a 129 miles and 15,000 feet of climbing. I completed all 5 passes of the ride and got my own coveted Death Ride Jersey.

 The people I ride with have become my second family. Really. I enjoy riding with them and spending time with them so much. As far as Folsom Bike is concerned, owners Erin and Wilson Gorrel were extremely supportive when I inquired about their interest in becoming a sponsor of Cycle Folsom early on in my tenure as manager of Cycle Folsom. They committed to offer Cycle Folsom members a standing discount at their store(s), and have continued to grow their support for our club ever since. I know I speak for many, many of our members when I say that Folsom Bike is big part of the Cycle Folsom family!

 So yeah, while it sounds a bit corny, I truly believe cycling changed my life.

Chris McIntosh (UPDATED)


**UPDATE** 

 When I started my diet and exercise adventure on May 21st 2014 I was almost 340lbs, last month October 25th 2014 I hit my goal weight 256, so I have since set another goal for myself of 225lbs. Huge thank you to Ryan and the crew at Folsom Bike for keeping me on the road.

Quick stats

No more blood pressure meds

Pants size went from a 50 to 38-36

Shirt size from 5XL to a XL

Has ridden almost 2,000miles since July with his biggest ride being 65miles

Rode 1,001 kilometers in September.

New goals aside from getting down to 225lbs is completing a century ride and also riding 1,500kilometers in a month.

<<<<<Read Chris's story here>>>>>

Chris McIntosh began his journey of a commitment to cycling on May 21st 2014. The day before Chris had been speaking with his doctor and his doctor had the very candid converstation with Chris about weight loss. Chris’s health was at risk and the doctor suggested Gastric surgery. That converstation was a huge wake up call to Chris as he knew he didn’t want the surgery, but he also didn’t want to be the weight he was anymore…. 336lb. This was the heaviest Chris had ever been, and he had been this weight for years. Chris was already on a 50mg dose of Lisinopril and his blood pressure was still on the rise. He had a tough time buying clothes, he couldn’t go on are rides at amusement parks, he had a hard time sitting in booths at restaurants and overall was just not healthy or having fun with life. The conversation he had with his doctor made him want to change his life. He immediately stopped drinking soda/beer/coffee and also cut how much food he was eating.

Chris took his new commitment to losing weight seriously and from May21st to July 6th Chris dropped 25lbs, but hit a wall and wasn’t losing anymore weight. He had a few friends that rode bikes and realized they were all in shape by riding regularly and consistently, often for long distances. Chris thought there was no way he would ever be able to do that, plus he was embarrassed about people laughing at how he looked being so big and riding a bike. He got over his fear and decided to take the plunge and try his mountain bike. His very first ride was on July 6th and he rode 1.7miles. He was completely worn out and exhausted from the ride, but felt great. The very next day he rode his mountain bike again only this time he rode 3.1miles. Again, Chris was very exhausted, but the feeling was something he hadn’t had in a long time… the feeling of personal accomplishment. From then on Chris kept increasing his mileage every time he rode by 1-2 miles. Chris no longer cared about what people thought when he rode by them because he was doing this for himself, for his family, for his life and it felt good!

Chris was consistently doing 10 mile rides and challenged himself to a 20 mile ride. His co-workers (Steve Krits & Rob Rector) joined him and gave nothing but support during the whole ride. Chris met his goal that day with their support and completed his first 20mile ride in 1hr 48mins, and felt amazing.
At this point Chris realized he was limiting himself on his riding, because he was riding on the roads on his heavy mountain bike. Chris did his research and set his heart on a Z85. With the help of Ryan at Folsom Bike Chris test road the bike of his dreams and went home with it that night. He had the biggest smile on his face like a kid on Christmas morning. Chris has been riding it consistenly ever since and has completed many personal accomplishments he thought he would never achiece.

Chris has dropped another 25lbs and is now down a total of 50lbs (286lbs) . Chris has not met his overall goal yet, but he is hooked and now has new goals:

  • Get off his blood pressure medicine (he is almost there)
  • Complete his first organized bike event on Nov 4th which is 75k.
  • Meet his goal weight of 250lbs. Once he does that he can take his son and wife to Six Flags to ride all the rides which is something that he has never been able to do.

Set a new goal weight once he reaches 250lbs

Chris has had an incredible journey and a huge support team that has helped him reach these new goals for life. His wife and his friend Melinda have been great accountability partners for Chris as well as his friends Steve K., Josh W., Paul D., Roger J. and especially Rob Rector! We cannot wait to get the next update from Chris to hear about his progress!!

A Couple of Stats of his journey:
May 21st to Aug 10th = 50lbs lost, waist size down 6 sizes, and shirts 3 sizes.
July 6th to Aug 10th Completed 32 rides for a total of 346miles (avg of 75miles a week)

Way to go Chris!!!

Jason - The Domesqtique

Jason & GeorgeJasonJason

Some things are put into motion for a very long time and they never pay off. This is not one of those stories.

It was almost 5400 days ago (14 years and 9 months), and a chilly morning in Le Grand-Bornard. I was vacationing with my parents and we had planned for us to go see the Stage 9 start of the Tour De France.

The USPS team was lined up mid-pack and I yelled out… George! George! George!

George Hincapie is one of cycling’s most iconic professionals. “Good luck today and help keep the yellow on Lance’s back.” He smiled and nodded. Maybe it was because I had perfect English in this little French ski village or maybe because for so long in his career he had become so famous for all his accomplishments linked to the success of other riders.

He took a hat out of his jersey pocket and gave it to me. I displayed the hat in my home for the next 14+ years, always reminded of that once in a lifetime experience to be within arm’s reach of my heroes on a bike.

I had the opportunity to meet George prior to the Gold Country Gran Fondo, gladly presented him with the hat, a brief snippet of the story and then the sharpie. It was perfect; he was very gracious, until… he asked for his hat back! No doubt a joke and we all got a great laugh out of it. He posed for a photo and just like that unforgettable day in France, almost 15 years ago, George rolled out for yet another ride.

Cycling has been apart of my life for the past 27-years, since I was a little kid and went lurching down a bike path free from my training wheels. I reconnected with cycling about a year ago when I decided Mt. Dew and World of Warcraft wouldn’t continue to dominate my weekends. I started commuting to my office in Davis (from Sacramento) and connected with weekend group rides and ARBT rides after work. I rediscovered my love and passion for this great sport, social activity and fitness lifestyle.

After 3,000+ miles on my bike, significant weight loss and overall fitness improvement, I enjoy every pedal stroke as much as the one before it.

Next time you visit Folsom Bike on a beautiful Northern California weekend, it’ll be my pleasure to help you enjoy your visit!

Scott & Cole - How Cycling Has Changed Our Lives

Scott & ColeColeScottAbout two and a half years ago, cycling in the Campbell/Davis household was just an occasional family bike ride on the trails to either feed the ducks, or go play at the park. For Cole, he would certainly participate in the family rides - however the BMX park or prison jumps were more his style. Things soon changed once Scott bought his first true mountain bike.

Once Scott had a feel for the adrenaline rush of cycling the beautiful trails of Granite Bay and Auburn, he soon wanted to share this experience with his step-son Cole. The search was on for a bike for Cole so that they could enjoy the sport together while deciding whether or not this would become a passion for both of them. The test was short lived. A bike was purchased for Cole and soon they were both riding at every opportunity they could find.

With the growing love of this sport, they decided to enter Cole in some local mountain bike races - mainly the Prairie City series. In Cole’s first few races, you could certainly tell he was new to the sport - racing in his skate helmet, t-shirt, bike shorts and his Vans. Both were new to this sport, not really knowing what it would take to compete and how to improve from race to race. Cole’s heart and strong will to do well, along with his constant support and cheering on from his step-dad proved to be a solid combination to start with. Soon many folks involved in biking were providing additional insight and techniques to both Scott and Cole to build on.

Scott and Cole have logged many hours and miles on their bikes - tracking everything through Strava of course. They have enjoyed riding in many locations from Granite Bay, Auburn, Sly Park, Cool, Pilot Hill, Monterey and many mountain trails in Colorado absolutely loving every ride they embarked on.

Cole has been riding with the Cycling Development team under the leadership of Mark Ferry and John Hyatt, as well as road biking on the Limitless Cycling Racing Team lead by Jared Ellison and Mark Fiori. Many people believe that cycling is an individual sport - however it is quite the opposite: truly being a team sport with strong friendships and support for all riders.

Through cycling, both Scott and Cole have made many new friends in the cycling community. The people that share their same passion have become part of their cycling family. Both have found a new joy that provides a healthy balance of relaxation, focus, nutrition, stress relief and discipline. Cole’s performance in school has improved greatly as he has become more focused on his studies, nutrition, sleeping habits and training. Scott, through his cycling has found a healthy balance of nutrition, serenity and fitness along with the camaraderie of new friendships.

Cycling truly has changed the lives of Scott, Cole and the entire family in a very positive way.

Linda - My Bike Story

LindaLindaI had just opened an email asking if I would share my bike story when the book I had ordered titled "Get Fast” had arrived on my doorstep. It’s safe to say I'm hooked!

How did my bike story begin?

Have you ever wanted to do something and thought, "I could never do that but I wish I could"? I am here to tell you never say NEVER because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.

While camping in Lake Tahoe in 2012 my husband and I saw all kinds of cyclists ride by us – kitted out cyclists, leisure cyclists, team cyclists, cyclists in costumes. We saw fancy bikes and average bikes. I mentioned to my husband that I had always wanted to do this event at some point in my life. It’s known as America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride, 72.5 miles to circumnavigate the lake. So there it began, a thought turned into an idea... which turned into a goal... which turned into a journey… which let to a destination.

There were a few training details to address. Firstly, I’d been riding a nice comfy upright Hybrid (weighing about 45 pounds) and the extent of my riding was merely around my neighborhood with the occasional ride up and down the 2-mile road across from where we live. The other two minor issues to face were (1) that I hated hills (okay, so this one was more of a major issue) and (2) I hated to sweat.

Once we signed up (yes, that is a “we” – myself, my daughter, my friend Karen, and my husband) it was mind over matter. Game on. I'm in. Let the training begin! I began my training comfortable, at 15 miles, with some short hills. Each day I added 2 miles to the ride plus a bit more in elevation gain. The miles were adding up, as was the elevation. One day, out of the blue, I suddenly didn't mind the hills anymore. I take them slow, one pedal revolution at a time only thinking about the hill you’re on and not what might be coming down the road. At times I am the tortoise, however, I always get there.

My friend Karen and I trained locally together mile after mile, hill after hill. Despite the 7,000 miles between our houses my daughter and I also had training time together. Just after my big 60th Birthday (yikes – gulp – yes, sixty), I went to Switzerland with my bike in tow. What I didn't know was that after 3 gorgeous rides in Switzerland and France (including my first “col” AKA mountain pass) my European riding had just begun. We rode in Cinque Terre (for those that have been there it is predominately a hiking area but remember hills were my most feared part of riding at some point). We followed this up with a Backroads tour through Tuscany. The trip boasted “rolling hills” and while we all seem to have a different definition of rolling (20% grade at times) it was beautiful and it was challenging. If it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you – it changed me. It was in Tuscany where I completed my first 2 metric centuries back to back; both with more than 6,000’ elevation gain. The time with my daughter is better described as "Boot Camp" rather than leisurely cycling but the mother - daughter laughs we had and memories we made along this journey are some of the best ever.

As we neared my goal, America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride, the doubts of climbing Emerald Bay lingered in the back of my mind – it was the only hilly part of the ride I had not actually ridden. Everyone around told me I was ready. In retrospect I was ready, I remember getting to the top of Emerald Bay and thinking, “this is it? Really?” Some people joke that perhaps I was a wee bit over trained as I’d ridden nearly the distance across the United States (2,992 miles & 203,929’ elevation gain) getting ready for this ride. Remember that the ride or race (which ever it may be) is the reward to yourself for all the hard work that has been put in. In my case I did the entire ride around Lake Tahoe with a huge smile on my face, even the hard part. Trust your training.

Following America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride (which I highly recommend) was Foxy's Fall Century. It was a great ride and another milestone, o-n-e hundred miles! I’m told I’ve become a “real cyclist.” Along my journey I have graduated from pedals, to mouse traps (cages), to SIDI road shoes with cleats. From 10 year old bike shorts to bibs. I learned about chamois cream, chain lube and changing flat tires. I graduated from my hybrid which I’d named “Sled Dog” to a Giant LIV with road tires which I named “Max.” I’ve become glued to my Garmin, officially labeled “a Garmin Gal” & learned that sweat is actually a sign of a good ride. I never knew what a truly great journey my training would take me on. My time on two wheels has been some of the best times of my life. It’s been a test of strength & endurance as well as tremendous growth within my body, mind and soul. Thank you to all who have been such an inspiration to me, this includes my bike shop family.

What kind of bike do I currently ride?

Carbon Fiber 2014 BMC GF01 Custom Road Bike with flat handlebars is my current bike. I have some issues with my neck which prevent me from riding a road bike with traditional handlebars thus the need for flat bars. Where there is a will there is a way – Town Center Bike & Tri put a great custom set up together for me. With 500 miles and 39,000’ elevation gain behind me on this new bike I just completed the Short Course Gold Country Gran Fondo. New experiences are still coming my way - this ride RAIN, and I do mean pouring rain!

What do I eat when you ride?

I eat real food on my bike. I've never used gums, goo’s or packaged bars. I always make my own healthy snacks. When I pack my snacks and eat them at the right time intervals during a ride I never have problems "hitting the wall" nor do I have stomach issues. There are some great recipes out there that you can bake and pop in the freezer so they are ready to grab when heading out the door.

What is the one thing I think other riders need to know?

You must know how to change a flat tire. You WILL get them but you CAN learn to change them. The record number of flat tires I have had is 3 in 6 days (before I changed tires). Gator tires are my preference, well worth the extra money and weight. Stop by the bike shop and ask them to teach you how to change a flat tire or go on YouTube in the privacy of your own home. Fold up a little piece of paper with instructions on how to change the tire until you're comfortable with the process; it may just come in handy.

What are my goals?

I need to gain some speed. Interval training is one area I've been putting off. I also need to be more comfortable going downhill.

Statistics:

Remember I am a Garmin Gal. My statistics to date are 5,553 miles and 314,928’ elevation gain in 1 year 10 months.

Last thoughts for readers?

The hardest part might be getting out the door for that first ride, it might be getting back on the bike after a bad experience, or it might just be getting out the door when you really don’t feel motivated. Find some riding partners. Somehow, amongst riding friends we always manage to solve all the problems in life on the bike. Find someone who is an inspiration and be an inspiration to someone else.

To my fellow cyclists, whatever you might be contemplating believe in yourself. Believe that you can bike further or faster, you can. Believe you are young enough, old enough, strong enough, fit enough, and so on to accomplish your goals!

Safe cycling to all, I hope you enjoy your journey as much as I have. See you out there!

The races we train for is the reward for all the training we have done. We owe it to ourselves to put everything out there on the line & give it 100% on race day. If we didn't give it our all we would be letting ourselves down. Well, I gave the race last week more than I ever thought was possible, more than I thought my body and mind was capable of. Some races we fly high as a kite. These are the races where weather is perfect, we nail our nutrition, we push out the exact watts we trained for (if not a few more), and we find it within ourselves to keep pushing, panting and pedaling even when our body tires. When the finish line is crossed the pride is overwhelming. We've done it. We've performed well. We’re elated. Bottoms up. Post. Cheers. High-Fives all around. Secretly, we are proud to have ridden like a girl. Then, there are races I label as "training races." Races where you figure things out like hydration and nutrition. Races where you learn something like when to push yourself to stay with a group and when to back off and wait for the next group – no mans land is never a good place to be. Races where you’re glad to have raced but even more appreciative for what you may have learned. Lastly, there are races that don't go as exactly planned. Races where you have to find it within yourself to keep pedaling in order to make it to the finish line. Races where one little minute seems endless. These races are the ones where we cross that finish line secretly hope someone will steel our bike so we never have to see it again. The week long race last week was all of those combined. In one word it was a race of commitment. The commitment to continue to the finish line despite the circumstances that arose. Although I’d cycled 7 days in a row for training I’d never raced for 7 continuous days. There’s a difference. Cycling at your threshold day in and day out does take it's toll. We had 4 seasons of weather during these seven days. Summer on day 1 where I flew high as a kite. Although the heat was overwhelming toward the end it was one of those perfect days. People (including myself) jumped in the lake at the end with the helmet & cycling shoes on just to cool off (and celebrate). We had fall with overcast skies and a light breeze which required nothing more than a gillet. Nutrition was key not to deplete the glycogen stores in the day to come. We had early winter with freezing fog, rain, wind, wet and cold. Many of us never did see a peep of the Sella Ronda. This is where I learned. I learned to put my food up my sleeves or in the legs of my shorts because my fingers were way too cold to find anything in my pockets. This was the day I pushed harder than I thought was possible in effort to simply generate body heat (and fight to keep my race position). Neoprene gloves & wind proof/rain proof jackets didn't seem to keep anyone warm. For three days rain hats, shower caps, buffs, muffs, booties of all models, and nano flex warmers were worn by all. We were quite simply frozen Popsicle's. We rode. We raced. We cried through the chatter of our teeth. We suffered - together. No one person was more miserable than the other. Then, we had winter snow which pretty much had you questioning why we were even outdoors. Lastly, we had early spring with clear skies & very cold temperatures. Your breath clouded your glasses before your eyes could take in any of the gorgeous views the last of the Dolomites offered. It was a test of commitment to continue this race each day as your hands froze and feet turned to bricks. The temptation to get on the train, to hitchhike (although no sane driver would have picked up a crazy cyclist), to peel off into the nearest hotel became a passing thought as we rolled passed one option after another. Commitment is a part of life. We were there to race and we girls can be stronger than we imagine. So, at your next race, when you might feel like giving in or letting up a bit on the effort, don't. Dig deep, keep pedaling & keep pushing. A little suffering is good for the soul. You’re stronger than you ever imagined! Ride on Girls.

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