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Life as a Pro Rider

May 29, 2009

Nikki Butterfield is our next professional rider to contribute to the NVGP blog. She currently rides for the Webcor Professional Cycling Team and is getting ready for the Nature Valley Grand Prix in a few short weeks. She was nice enough to tell us how her season has shaped up thus far. Enjoy!

Well, I was asked by the race organizers of the Nature Valley Grand Prix to write about “what it is like to be a pro rider”…. there are two things that come to mind immediately. #1 is that you have to like riding your bike, but a close #2 is you have to love to travel. My last few months have looked a little like this:

January – Australia: Jayco Bay Cycling Classic (5 days of criteriums), Australian National Championships, Track Camp in Adelaide

February- Australia: Track Nationals (4 events), packed up our apartment in Australia, 2 exams for my Masters degree;

March – USA (California)
: for my first ever Webcor Team Training Camp, Redlands Cycling Classic (5 day stage race) and then into Boulder Colorado, my base for 2009, looked for places to live, found one! Lots of administration…..

April:
Flew from Denver to San Diego for the Dana Point GP in San Diego (won for the first time in 12 months….I seem to have a habit of always being there but not winning!)- 11 hour drive- Tour of Gila (5 days) in New Mexico- 16 hours over 2 days driving- Joe Martin Tour in Arkansas (4 days)- flew Fayetteville-Chicago-NYC-Bermuda

May - ‘down time’ in Bermuda (where my husband is from), 2 papers and a mid-term exam for my Masters, 2 weeks of power hills (short and sharp) and motor pacing to prepare for Montreal World Cup and Nature Valley;

June - en route right now from Bermuda-NYC-Montreal, World Cup Saturday, Sunday off, 4 day tour, back to Bermuda for the weekend for a family wedding (the rest of my team will go to Philly), then straight back on the plane to Minnesota for Nature Valley!!

After Nature Valley I then have five straight weeks in Boulder, where I will do one of my ‘key training blocks’ for the latter part of the season.

Late July sees the Tour of Cascade and, beyond that, the “agenda” is up in air with the new Australian National Coach (Martin Barras) next week. The World Championships Course this year looks great, so I am looking forward to laying down some solid planning and starting on my path towards my major goals later in the year. I love hard, hilly, 1-day races so I am keen to get the World Cups started! My preparation leading into the Worlds last year was a lot of training (mostly hills and motor pacing) and not that much racing relative to what a lot of other pros do…. it will be interesting to see what Martin has in mind for me.

The North American season is more about 4-6 day tours which I have targeted more single stages or helping out my team-mates so the “shift” in focus is something I am looking forward to. All the racing over here is new to me, so each race is a surprise. The girls say Nature Valley should suit me, so we will see if my legs are up to the task. It will be Kristin Armstrong’s last North American race, so I am sure she will have her mind set on a good performance. Kristin loves to race hard, so it will be an exciting race to follow.

Until next time, Nikki. :)

www.nikkibutterfield.com
Twitter: NikButterfield

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It’s Miller Time!

May 27, 2009

Amanda Miller, a member of the Lip Smacker Cycling Team, has followed a non-traditional path to cycling. She started riding a bike in the spring of 2004 to get in shape for her high school senior year of basketball. After breaking her wrist (twice!) and becoming hooked on cycling, she opted out of playing basketball and bought a mountain bike. Shortly after that, Amanda got a job at the local bike shop and eventually bought her first road bike. Amanda did her first race in April of 2005 and hasn’t stopped since. Amanda is currently studying Natural Resource Management at Colorado State University and will graduate in December of 2009. Amanda raced for Colorado State University and placed 4th in the Division I individual omnium at Collegiate Road Nationals in May 2008. Following this great result, Amanda was invited to participate in the Nature Valley Grand Prix with the Ryan Collegiate All-Stars team.

She now finds herself among the rotating professional cyclists that are posting on the Tria/NVGP blog. Enjoy!

The Nature Valley Grand Prix is just around the corner. Last year (2008) was my first year participating in the race. I was selected to be a member of the Ryan Collegiate All Stars composite team. This composite team was based off individual ominium results at the collegiate national championship held in Fort Collins, CO. I finished fourth in the Division I omnium and was excited to be given the opportunity to race for this team. NVGP was my first stage race. It is pretty special to me because I am from a small town in Southeastern Iowa (Mt. Union,), originally.

I am now living in Fort Collins, CO, so it was nice to come back to the Midwest for such a prestigious event. Everything I had heard about the race coming into it was true. This is one hard, fun race! I had a blast. The fields were huge, the spectators were everywhere, and the courses were brutal. Things started pretty slow for me, with a rain soaked criterium on the first day. I got pulled from the field and was worried I wouldn’t be able to finish the race. Fortunately, the officials decided not to count the criterium and let everyone start the next day. The hardest race of the week was the 90+ mile road race. It was super windy that day and I was put into the “gutter” for most of the cross wind sections. I learned a lot of lessons that day that will hopefully benefit me this year. My favorite race of the week was the Stillwater Criterium. I loved the hill. It was also my best race of the week. The spectators lining the hill were amazing. I am really looking forward to coming back to NVGP this year!

I am racing for the LipSmacker Professional Women’s Cycling team. This is my first year on a professional team. I have been doing a lot of traveling, and am loving it. Though it sometimes takes a toll on a person’s body, I’ve been seeing many places that I never would have seen without cycling. I am very grateful to have the opportunity. I took this past spring semester off to travel to France for a month of racing with the USA National development squad. Usually, I am a full time student at Colorado State University and a part-time bicycle shop employee at Peloton Cycles in Fort Collins, CO. Myself and the rest of the LipSmacker team are looking forward to racing in Minnesota soon. Hope to see you all there!!

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Let The Games Begin

Bill Metz, from OptumHealth, will be a frequent contributor to the blog. This is the fifth of many posts that Bill will be making, dealing with a variety of topics within the life of a recreational cyclist.

Motivation is a strange and individual thing. I have found that what motivates me to get out and ride has continually evolved and changed over the past 15 years. When I first started riding, my motivation was to crest the hill on Wall Street road without feeling like I was eating a lung and about to spit a spleen. Pretty basic on the motivation sophistication scale, but, that feeling didn’t prevent me from giving it another go. It motivated me to work to improve.

When I started riding with a couple of other guys on Saturday morning, my motivation shifted. I quickly realized that in order to keep up on Saturday and avoid long lonely rides back to town on my own, I was going to have to put in some serious saddle time on days other than Saturday. (I was really slow) So, my motivation became ‘keeping up the guys’ and slowly I improved to where I could hang on the back, drafting with my tongue rattling against the spokes like the six of clubs I used to cloths-pin to my fender bracket as a kid. That was on the flats, hills were a different story. I hated hills. We would hit even the smallest rise and I would immediately fall off the back. I felt like I was going backwards. When I finally got to the top where the rest of the group was waiting, they would look at me wondering why I was bleeding from my eyes. Not really, but that’s how I felt.

So my motivation changed again. I figured that if I were ever going to be able to keep up on the hills, my attitude needed to change. I needed to embrace the hill, love the hills, and be the hills. So, rather than deciding to take the flat loop when I would go for a spin, I would choose the loop with the most hills. I would practice my pacing, tempo and breathing. I even did hill repeats. Slowly, I found myself keeping up. With newer members joining, I no longer the last rider up the hill. Even better, I was able to keep pace on my turn through the pace line.

Motivation to get out and ride is different than motivation during the ride. Since I was a kid, I always made games out of things which, unbeknownst to many, are forms of motivation and a way to improve. Whether it was mowing the lawn in the straightest line, or spending hours tossing the tennis ball against the house pretending to shag down and throw out that runner at first base, or the skidding and jumping contests on my bike, playing the game improved my skills. Now, town sign sprints and charging the hills play the same role as does coming up with other games on long solo rides. Here is an excerpt from my book “Saturday Morning Rides” on playing games:

CHASING SHADOWS

The sun sinks low on the horizon at the end of a ride at the end of another season as I head west on Dennison Boulevard towards home. I turn north on Kane Avenue and glide over the first rise. Mesmerized by the fading light, I don’t notice the rider appear on my right. We pedal along in silence enjoying the late fall spin, side by side, crank for crank in eerie unison. I glance to my right and catch him sizing me up and as we scope each other out, we nod. It’s go time.

I spin it up to 20 mph and he matches me, still at my side. As we drop down the far side of the rise, we both pick up the pace to 21, 22 and then 23. I’m starting to feel the burn. This will not be easy, so I start to plot my attack. Dog hill, I will take him on dog hill. We both move down to the drops as if we have read each others mind and try to put the hurt on. As the road turns west up a small rise, I concentrate on my plan, focusing on dog hill, eyes ahead not wanting him to read my thoughts again. Heading straight west now I steal a glance to my right to see if my torrid pace is having any effect and find he is gone. Looking to my left confirms my guess. He’s on my wheel. I throttle back and prepare for dog hill.

As soon as I hit the hill I leap from the saddle, shifting up three cogs in one seamless move, fluid and powerful. No way will he be able to follow. Hammering over the summit as the sun touches the tops of the trees, I take a look back to confirm my dominance only to find him stuck to my wheel like the mother following her son blowing the whistle in the The Triplets of Belleville

I put the hammer down again, but feel him match my pace, my cadence and even my ragged breathing as I suck oxygen to fuel the fire. Now all that remains is the Northfield town sign sprint and this wheel-sucker has me set up all the way so I back off slightly and prepare for the final push.

To my surprise he comes along my right side as I turn north on 246 looking for a straight up sprint, mano a mano, for all the marbles. In unison, we rise out of the saddle for the initial rush, side by side again clicking up through the gears, the cool damp evening air rushing past, our heads down, grinding it into the big ring as the sun melts into the treetops and the shadows merge and stretch to the eastern horizon just as we streak past the sign he disappears into the night and I raise both fists in victory.

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Much Ado About Cycling

May 26, 2009

Rebecca Much is not your average professional cyclist. Cutting her cycling teeth in a non-cycling mecca like Chicago, Rebecca was able to drum up enough interest (and results) to catch the eye of the Webcor Builders Women’s Professional Cycling Team.

Now in her second year with Webcor, Rebecca has been called upon to contribute a few blog entries prior to and during the Nature Valley Grand Prix, a race that she holds near and dear to her heart. Let’s take a little trip inside Rebecca’s head to see why she likes the NVGP so much, shall we?

Everyone has their own reasons for liking one race over another, but the Nature Valley Grand Prix will always hold a special place for me because it is the best stage race in the Midwest. I grew up on the mean streets of Chicago about 9 hours south of Minneapolis, so as a Midwest native, NVGP has always had an unmatchable allure. Since 2004, I have raced at NVGP four times, experiencing the race’s evolution into greatness. The courses seem to get harder every year at Mankato and Stillwater, which includes a cool dirt section leading into Cannon Falls, along with downtown crits, and a brutally straight forward time trial that brings out the best in every racer. The evolution of the NVGP has the time trial as the initial stage, and then follows that up with stage two, in Downtown St. Paul. The St. Paul crit, after the morning race of truth, will already have the general classification (GC) in the works, something that is rarely seen.

I am also excited for the NVGP because it will be the third stop on the Women’s Prestige Series, where I am currently leading the Best Young Rider competition. I’m determined to win the Best Young Rider in Minnesota this round as well! My team will be arriving to Minneapolis in good spirits after the completing a run-up of races in Montreal and Philadelphia prior to June 10th. None of our riders are from Minnesota, with four of us being from the United States, along with two Canadians and two Australians rounding out the roster. On the flip side, our beloved soigneur lives in Minneapolis, so we can consider Nature Valley a “hometown” race for him.

Life gets interesting when you’re on the road all the time but, in reality, it’s the reason why cycling holds so much appeal. Week after week, I sit on airplanes going here or there; it can become mind boggling at times, but it teaches you to learn a lot about yourself quite quickly. I am 23 years old now, and have been on the road racing like this pretty much since I was 18. I am from Chicago and that is where my mom, pa, grandpa, sister, dog, cat, coach, and hometown friends live so I try to go back when I can, especially in the fall when I have some downtime. I try to build time into the following season but that time is short! This fall, I set a record, as I was home for three months straight! Once I need to ride more, I make my home in Tucson, Arizona.

Throughout the season, I go home when I can but usually find myself here and there wasting days between races in New Mexico or Arkansas, or in places like Boulder, CO where I’m spending a couple quality weeks between race blocks (that is where I am as I type this sentence). Ah, the life! Sometimes it gets hard to keep the story straight as I forget where I have been or where I am going. The most comforting way to deal with the constant change is to just be happy where I am at the moment…coupled with a lot of music. No matter what, my favorite songs are always the same no matter where I am.

On that note, it is time to become productive with my day as I can only sit around writing sweet nothings and drinking coffee for so long…

See ya at the races soon!

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Ride Safely and Be Prepared for the Worst

Bob McEnaney has over 33 years experience coaching performance athletes of all ages, genders and ability levels. He has trained and competed in triathlon, cycling, and running races of all distances. His personal experience is backed by years of formal training which has aided in formulating effective performance training plans used by hundreds of athletes across the country.

Bob is a certified coach through both USA Triathlon and USA Cycling. He also is a member of Joe Friel’s exclusive “Ultrafit” Association of Coaches. Additionally, he is a Certified Personal Trainer and holds a Sports Fitness Specialist advanced certification through NASM. This combination of long-time coaching experience and personal race experience puts Bob in a unique position to create time efficient and effective cycling training plans to help athletes train properly.

McEnaney will be contributing to the NVGP blog for additional tips that will help riders of all ages and abilities get to that next level. His insight can be found at Total Cycling Performance. Here’s his first contribution:

I nearly got hit by a semi this morning; one of those big sand/gravel trucks.

I was riding toward a roundabout, something I do on most rides. It’s a harmless roundabout, with great visibility all around. The truck was coming from my right hand side, and I’m quite sure he saw me. But even so, I put my hands on my brakes, just in case.

I arrived at the roundabout before the truck, so technically I had the right of way. There are two lanes in this roundabout and I was in the outside lane because I was going to go straight through.

I was very close to the truck’s entrance into the roundabout and I could see that he wasn’t slowing down so I started to brake. The truck was in the right hand lane and blew right through the roundabout and cut into the left lane as he was going around.

I was forced to slam my brakes on. The semi was so long that even as I skidded its rear tires were right in front of me. Fortunately I was able to stay upright and avoid skidding toward the wheels. I know who would have come out on top of that one.

The lesson of the day is to be aware. Be aware of your surroundings. Be aware of your situation and who’s around. And anticipate that the driver won’t see you or won’t care about you.

And while avoiding traffic is a topic that’s discussed often, the same rules apply to group rides. Riders are often side by side at high speeds, wheels overlapping and riders changing position. Awareness in a group situation is every bit as important as traffic awareness.

Anticipate that the riders next to you aren’t aware of you, or that they don’t possess good bike handling skills, and that they aren’t able to hold a line.

A crash is a crash, whether it involves a vehicle or another bike. Ride defensively, communicate, anticipate and be aware. Enjoy your riding, but ride safely.

GET OUT AND RIDE!

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Meet Team TIBCO In Wisconsin!

May 21, 2009

May 20, 2009

For Immediate Release

Team TIBCO to help celebrate 25th anniversary of Art Doyle’s Spokes and Pedals June 9.

Los Altos, CaliforniaTeam TIBCO is proud to announce that they will be helping Art Doyle’s Spokes and Pedals in Hudson, Wisconsin, celebrate its 25th anniversary on June 9th. The visit is in conjunction with the team’s participation in the Nature Valley Grand Prix, June 10-14 in and around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

Art’s is a long-time retailer of LOOK bikes, which Team TIBCO has ridden to great success already in 2009, as well as in 2008.

“We’re really excited to help Art’s celebrate their 25th anniversary,” said Amber Rais, one of Team TIBCO’s leaders, and one of five riders from the team who will participate in the event. She will be joined by teammates Meredith Miller, Lauren Tamayo, Katharine Carroll and Julie Beveridge.

“LOOK has been one of our top sponsors, and events like this one are a great way to show our appreciation to LOOK and their top retailers,” Rais added.

The riders will be giving a short presentation about the team and its history, and how people can use cycling with proper nutrition to get into shape and lead healthier lives. The riders will also talk a bit about their own backgrounds, accomplishments and goals with Team TIBCO. Riders will then take questions, mingle with attendees and sign autographs.

Though an RSVP is not required to attend, the first 20 people who do RSVP to art@spokesandpedals.com will receive a FREE pair of Team TIBCO socks. The first 100 attendees who pick up a bottle of water (one per person please) at the event will be eligible for a drawing for two autographed Team TIBCO jerseys. There will be a raffle number on the bottle. Refreshments will be served, so the store’s management is encouraging people to RSVP to help in planning the event.

Event Details:
When: June 9, 2009, 6:00 – 7:45 p.m.
Where: Art Doyle’s Spokes and Pedals, 607 2nd St., Hudson, WI
Why: To celebrate Art’s 25th anniversary

About Team TIBCO

The TIBCO Women’s Cycling Team is a professional cycling program devoted to fostering the success of elite women cyclists in national and international competition, with a focus on developing contenders for the Olympic Games through the team’s elite and development programs. The team also emphasizes joy in sport, fair play and dedication to excellence.

About Title Sponsor TIBCO Software Inc.

TIBCO Software Inc.(NASDAQ:TIBX) provides enterprise software that helps companies achieve service-oriented architecture (SOA) and business process management (BPM) success. With over 3,000 customers, TIBCO has given leading organizations around the world better awareness and agility – what TIBCO calls The Power of Now®. To learn more, contact TIBCO at +1 650-846-1000.

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Ask The TRIA Orthopaedic Surgeon

May 19, 2009

As the season progresses, so do our aches and pains. When we begin powering up our training volume, new pains tend to rear their ugly heads until they becomes unbearable. One of those that is typical of increased mileage is knee pain. No stranger to the cycling world, pain around the knees can subdue even the most experienced cyclist.

With the increase in pain comes the increase in blame. Many riders feel that it could be a variety of imperfections within the equipment, but the answer is usually within the riders themselves. This week’s answer comes from Cindy Schlafmann, PT, SCS, ATC, who just happens to be an Ironman triathlete in her spare time.

Typically, early in the season, cyclists start doing too much too soon and fail follow “The 10% Rule.” The recommended increase is no more than 10% per week. Often, the cause of knee pain is pushing too hard of gears and using more quadriceps (front of the leg) power rather than a more balance pedal stroke, which would use the pull of the hamstrings (back of the leg) and gluteal (butt) muscles.

Focus on a smooth circle during the entire pedal stroke rather than on just the push down. You can think of trying to scrape mud off the bottom of your shoe on the stroke between 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock if you think of the pedal stroke as a clock.

It would be recommended to keep the gearing lower and focus on higher cadence of >90 RPM(revolutions per minute), as well. Including hill repeats too quickly at the beginning of the season can also put increased strain on the knees if your strength is not yet there.

Another cause may be improper bike fit with the seat being possibly too low, which would cause more strain on the front part of your knee. I also recommend working on strengthening your core including lower abdominals, gluteal and hip muscles to help with balance throughout the trunk and legs.

We appreciate the help that Cindy has lent us in this week’s post. Stay tuned for more helpful information from the sports medicine specialists at TRIA Orthopaedic!

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What a long, strange trip it’s been.

May 14, 2009

Chris Winn is one of the elite few who have raced their way onto the Nature Valley Pro Ride team. His excellent performance at Hillsboro-Roubaix earned him a spot on the NVPR team for the upcoming Nature Valley Grand Prix. From now until the race ends, Winny will be writing a few entries on how he got where he is today and where he hopes to be in the future.

I guess I was one of the lucky ones. Hold on…scratch that. I’m not a big believer in luck; I’m one of those guys who believe you make your own luck. So sitting in a Subaru for 13 hours from Denver, CO to Hillsboro, IL for one of the Nature Valley Pro Ride selection races (Hillsboro-Roubaix – Ed.) took some dedication. But in the end it all worked out, I qualified and here I am, deep into the final month’s preparation for the race. Making the “Pro-Ride” team was a nice little goal to set as an amateur trying to make the transition into the professional ranks, with the reward of the exposure it brings and the level of support we receive for the week.

As this is my first entry, I am keen to share a little background on how an Aussie from a tiny mountain town east of Melbourne ended up living in Colorado. Competitive cycling is, of course, the easy and straight forward answer, but my first foray on these foreign shores was actually spent with two wheels on the dirt, not on the tarmac. My main focus ever since I began competitive cycling was as a cross-country mountain biker.


Courtesy of Chris Winn

In fact, 2009 is only my second season full time on the road. So first time racing here was in 2007, chasing mountain bike races with my brother living out of an R.V. Each year since then, my commitment has grown, to the point where now I am living and working for a professional cycling coaching business….and still chasing the dream of a professional cycling contract.

I’ll fast forward to the present: my training has resumed this week after taking a short break the week before. Recovery was much needed after racing the Tour of the Gila down in New Mexico at the end of April. With Lance, Levi and Horner (plus pretty much every pro US team in attendance), it was a tough week that’s for sure, but an important one to get in the legs before the big one in June.


Courtesy of Ben Raby

In recent days I have managed to meet up with Ryan Parnes, a fellow member on the Pro Ride team, spending a nice 4.5hr today up in the mountains. This is his first time training out this way, and today was a rough introduction doing intervals up at 8000ft! Nonetheless, the sun has finally decided to come out to play here, and days like today were near perfect.

Stay tuned for more updates to come, and an inside perspective during the race.

Cheers,

Winny.

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Nature Valley Grand Prix Champion Launches Female Cycling Academy

May 13, 2009

Olympic Gold Medalist Kristen Armstrong is a three-time and defending champion of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. She currently rides for the Cervélo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team, and will be appearing at this year’s NVGP. Kristin is also launching her cycling academy for young women this July.

Gold Medalist Invests in Girl-Power with Launch of Kristin Armstrong Cycling Academy for Junior Racers

BOISE, IDAHO: 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist Kristin Armstrong and USA Cycling announced today the launch of the Kristin Armstrong Cycling Academy, a junior development camp this summer for women of racing age 15-18. Sponsored by USA Cycling, the innovative camp will be held in Boise, Idaho from July 14–19, 2009, and will provide licensed riders with the additional opportunity to race alongside Armstrong before a crowd of thousands at the 23rd Annual Twilight Criterium in downtown Boise.

The new camp was developed for women who have some race experience and are looking to improve their skills, and offers an opportunity to discover what it means to be a professional cyclist. All riders must hold a valid 2009 USA Cycling annual license to participate.

“In the United States, during the year you turn 19, you go from racing with your 15-18 year-old peers to racing with 19-35 year-old pros. It can be a shock, and if not prepared, young riders feel like they’ve been thrown to the wolves—U.S. Cycling loses a lot of promising female riders in this process,” said Armstrong. “My coaches and I want to have a hand in helping young women really advance through a more focused training program, like the one that helped me realize my Olympic dream. My goal, and I think it’s realistic, is to see a graduate of the Kristin Armstrong Cycling Academy bring home the Gold for U.S. Cycling.”

The Kristin Armstrong Academy is an ideal program that will guide aspiring young women as they attempt to make the transition from a successful junior career to the elite ranks,” commented USA Cycling director of athletics and Armstrong’s coach Jim Miller.” As an Olympic champion, Kristin will inspire, educate and support dozens of future world-class athletes with these efforts as part of a tremendously valuable initiative designed to ensure the future success of American women.”

Armstrong has worked with youth since she was in her mid-20’s, and says she’s uniquely qualified to help girls bridge the gap from Junior to Senior racing. The camp offers a mix of classroom sessions, racing clinics, and off-the-bike lifestyle tips tailored to young women ages 15-18. A registration fee of $1,250 includes lodging, meals, daily instruction and social opportunities. Riders who wish to enter the Twilight Criterium will register separately for the race.

Riders and parents should visit www.kristinarmstrongacademy.com, call 208.286.4859 or email info@kristinarmstrongacademy.com to learn more. Participants are encouraged to register early, as space is limited. Please visit http://new.sportsbaseonline.com for online registration.

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Things Somehow Always Seem Better On Days I Ride


Bill Metz, from OptumHealth, will be a frequent contributor to the blog. This is the fourth of many posts that Bill will be making, dealing with a variety of topics within the life of a recreational cyclist.

I ride at noon as often as I am able. I would prefer to commute and get regular miles in that way, but, I am fifty miles from the salt mine which is about ten miles too far to commute, right? My rides from work contrast greatly with my rides from home.

At work, I have to sprint to the locker room for a quick change into my OptumHealth kit. From there it is a about a fifty yard walk through the hall in spandex. I must say the looks are, well, interesting. Once outside, it’s unload the bike from the trunk of the Civic, pull on the shoes, helmet and gloves and hop on and GO, and STOP at the parking lot entrance light, and GO and STOP at the Highway 55 intersection, and GO and slow for a stop sign, and GO and STOP for the light at Glenwood, and GO and STOP for the light at Highway 100, and GO….and, well, you get the picture. Until I get on to one of the many trails that pepper the Twin Cities area, the riding is great practice for the stopping and the going. Traffic is heavy and impatient, fumes spew from trucks and factories and the further into the ride I get the more that all begins to fade and my head starts to clear and my focus sharpens and the endorphins flood my system.

Post ride, it’s running the fifty yard gauntlet, this time in sweaty spandex. The looks are even more interesting. Hit the shower and try to cool down as fast as I can, which is never fast enough to not pit-out my dress shirt. (Hint #1: wear light colored shirts. They don’t show the lingering sweat soaking through as much as dark shirts do. Hint # 2: whenever possible, schedule a meeting you can take by phone right after a ride.) Somehow, back at the desk, things always seem better on days I ride.

At home, it’s different. I can don the bike gear whenever it’s convenient and wait for an opportune time to ride. Twenty steps to the garage and I am off. One stop sign later, I’m pedaling the rolling hills of Rice and Goodhue Counties. Traffic is minimal and there are long stretches of country roads where the only impediment to my progress is the strength of the wind. Except for the occasional turkey barn, the air is fresh and clean and lovely. The further into the ride I get, the more that all begins to fade. My head starts to clear and my focus sharpens and the endorphins flood my system.

Post ride, I work in the kit till I cool down, jump in the shower. Five minutes later, I am back to work.

Things somehow always seem better on days I ride.

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