Category: my tribe

Thank You Team Steve the Bike Guy

They say that if you want to be successful or happy (or both) you should surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. This is the hallmark of Team Steve the Bike Guy.

What started as a crazy idea back in the summer of 2014 has grown into a team that does an incredible job of welcoming people of all ages to the sport of cyclocross. The team has a magic energy that makes riding in the drops around a grass field fun. Team STBG helps and inspires each of us to venture out of our comfort zones, gain skills, build confidence, and laugh a lot. Team STBG is a remarkable collection of some of the most enthusiastic supporters of athletes at every level.

The team would like to say a very special thank you to Kristin and Steve for building and supporting this team! And thank you to Steve the Bike Guy Velo Studio for being the kind of bike shop anyone can walk into with a crazy wish and little cycling experience, but be treated as a cyclist with untapped potential. The investment of time that you make to welcome people to cycling and cyclocross is amazing. You guys have created space for joy and friendship even when we’re pushing ourselves hard and busting our butts to become stronger cyclists.

2016 has been a great year for the team! The roster has grown. It’s been awesome to see all the new juniors and women doing incredibly well. Most of us have had our best seasons, yet, this year.  Thank you for making this season so successful and happy. And we’re excited for next CX season and possibly to try out MTB together this spring.

~ Thank you from the team!

cx-2106-secret-squirrel-4“I decided I would check out what this Cyclocross Craze was all about this past summer when STBG had an “Intro to Cyclocross” Session at the shop. Immediately I felt welcome and excited to race with this team. The STBG crew taught me the basics gave me the push I needed to commit to my first race in the sport I would later fall in love with. They became my teammates, encouraging me whether they were at the race or not. By the end of the Season the STBG CX Team was my family. Thank you for being such an integral part of my first Cx season and for giving me some serious fun for my Triathlon off-season! “❤– Lindsey

cx-2016-minuteman“I love STBG because it opened me up to a world that I otherwise wouldn’t have experienced. CX brought balance to my tri life. The STBG crew exemplifies the fun loving spirit of CX!” -Lisa

cx-2106-minuteman“Some of my most memorable moments from CX 2016 were my many wipeouts and face plants but my favorite times were CX practice with the girls from Steve the Bike Guy and racing with my friends. I felt so proud to race in the team jersey. Kristin, thank you for making cx something that will always have a special place in my heart and I already can’t wait for next year” 😊 -Anna

cx-2016-pete-the-famous“What was life like before Steve the Bike Guy and Cyclocross? Boring that’s what it was like! Thank for allowing me to fly around on my Mares and be somebody. I love this team and sport!”- Pete

CX fever“I signed up for Gloucester weekend (two races!) without even one CX race under my wheels! I met the STBG girls at a gravel grinder in the spring, and they opened their homes & their hearts to me, so I knew GPCX would be an epic, FUN weekend! My STBG kit matched perfectly with my #cxfever socks, and STBG made sure I lived a full on NECX experience, complete with supported course preview, finish line Hi5’s, beer, heckling giggles, cheers and encouragement.   I am honoured to be the honorary international member of the STBG Crew!!! Can’t wait for GPCX 2017!!” – Jules (representing Canada)

cx-2016-minuteman-jason“I like being on a team with fun members who are so happy to be on their bikes. Our teammates are serious about racing and doing their best but not ridiculous about it.” -Jason


“Thank you so much for an awesome season and for getting me into CX in the first place! One of my favorite memories of the season was dancing at Crosstobeerfest!” #keepCXweird -Hannah

“Love this team. First season of Team STBG I was too scared to ride on the grass in my own back yard and this year I raced at Nationals. So grateful for a team where all the weirdness is all good and we just help each other become our best.” -Alex

CX Tom“Thank you for teaching me to be a cyclo cross rider and letting me be on your team.” – Tom

#yaybikes #yayfriends

Special thanks to the talented photographers who helped capture these moments:Jeff Deiffenbach, Katie Busick, Scott Ryder, Kristin Brandt, Jason Carleton

An Original Badass Betty Birthday

She warned us back in the spring that we better not do anything silly for her on her 90th birthday. It was a warning we never intended to heed. How do you NOT celebrate someone so awesome?

Much has transpired since I first wrote about The Original Badass Betty. There are more mornings where she isn’t able to get to the pool, now that she relies on a ride from a friend. But she still makes more mornings than she misses and is the consummate role model for overcoming obstacles and joy.

And there’s been a lot happening in my own life and family’s that kept me from returning to the pool after it became too cold for open water swimming. But as many logistics as life seemed to be throwing, there was no way I was going to miss Betty’s 90th birthday party. What an honor to help someone kick-off their 10th decade! So her 90th birthday party became my inspiration for finally getting back to the pool.

She was surprised, gracious, and giggly. It was a treat for all of us. We celebrated Betty how happy we are to have her in our pool and our lives. It was a really great morning swim…
perhaps all swims should be followed by cake!?






She loves her new skullerfly winter hat! And special thank you to Betty Designs for sending some sparkly fun to make Betty’s day super special. She’s saving the bling tattoos for a super special occasion!

Keep on swimming!

The Mindess School Running Club – Redefining Possible

Each season the Mindess Running Club does the Popsicle stick challenge. This is the session where we practice “Farther not Faster.” We work on pacing and breathing. (which is tricky for us grown-ups, let alone 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders)

Each time a runner crosses the start line, they’re handed a Popsicle stick. At the end of the practice, we tally up the number of Popsicle sticks and figure out how far they ran – TOGETHER.

Our goal is for the kids to run 26.2 miles as a team. (The kids’ goal is to beat the current record.) The fall club set the record at 37 miles, with a few more members, and cooler weather. Today was hot and sunny and many of the kids hadn’t transitioned to shorts yet, so we asked the kids to go slow and steady and do their best for these conditions.

This running club blew these coaches away! Their pacing was great. They took water when they needed. They took walk breaks when they needed them. And they helped friends when that was needed.

As we reached the end of practice, we told the runners, they could stop if they wanted to or felt too hot – I think every one felt like stopping and each of them chose to try do one more lap.  They weren’t fast laps, there were more frequent walk breaks, there were lots of sweaty red faces, and there were tons of smiles!

When the time was up, there was a lot of collapsing and water bottles emptied or dumped over heads. As the kids recovered, Coach Emily and Coach Lisa counted up the sticks and did the calculations. Remarkable..! On this first hot day of Running Club, with a smaller team, they logged 40.5 miles – TOGETHER!

We are incredibly proud of our runners! Not for the number they ran, not for breaking the record, but for being willing to try to do one more lap than they thought was possible for them!

These kids did the impossible. With this mindset – imagine what else they can do!

MRC 40.5

MRC after


Elka Strong, indeed!

When I think about the people in ‘my tribe‘; those who inspire me; those who make a permanent impression on who I want to be as a person…Elka Troutman is another beautiful badass who may not know how much she inspires me.

My daughter was in kindergarten, when I volunteered to be a class mom. Elka was my partner…I’d never met her before…I had no idea.

The first time Mrs. Forrest sent out an email with details of a project that she wanted help organizing. I eagerly went to task and read through the email and sorted through the list of donations, volunteers, scheduling details – ready to jump into service. I hadn’t made it to the closing salutation before getting the most wonderful email to the class parents and brilliantly organized project outline from Elka.

The whole year went this way. At first I’d try like crazy to organize something first, feeling like maybe I wasn’t pulling my ‘room mom’ weight, but it was pointless. She’d breeze through it, so efficiently that eventually I decided that the best way to help was to happily do anything she wanted.

One of my favorite kindergarten / Elka days was when I finally met her in person at the Thanksgiving feast. Not only was she brilliantly smart and the most amazing mom I’d ever met, she swore like a sailor. The perfect woman! (I’m pretty sure I tried to hire her that day.)

Elka’s a champion for so many teachers and important education initiatives in our community – not the least of which is the incredibly successful summer reading program. She’s an avid fan of her sons’ many athletic endeavors and teams. She’s created the most wonderful family. She has a great attitude – she has lofty goals and ideals – but always keeps it real.

Now, I’m always delighted when I see Jake’s name on Hannah’s class list. It means it’s going to be a great year. And it’s not just me – Elka’s woven into the fabric of my family. A couple of years ago, Hannah crafted this big idea for a combination Halloween / Birthday Party. She wanted to invite lots of her friends, decorate the house, have everyone wear costumes, and play all sorts of Halloween games. It was quite an elaborate 10 year old scheme. After presenting all the details, Hannah looked at me, put her hand on my shoulder and supportively asked,

“Do you think we should ask Elka to help?”

JBR 41When our kids were in 4th grade, Elka told me she’d started running again. She was training to run the Jingle Bell Run with her family. Elka has vertigo. I can’t imagine running while my head felt like it was going to spin off my body or I felt like throwing up with each step. I love to run and I’ve run through injuries, but this level of endurance and tenacity was something else. And of course she did it. And in the process, she changed my definition of limitations in my own athletics.

The past 2 years, Elka’s been fighting awful, aggressive cancer. The cancer really F-ing sucks. Elka, however, grows more brilliant in her ability to impress and amaze. Her weakest moments make her a stronger inspiration. Her longest strings of swear words, make her all the more eloquent and beautifully human. Every post on Caring Bridge from her and from Jeff push my idea of limitations and strength to a level I didn’t know exists.


The Original Badass Betty

At 5:30 in the morning, small talk doesn’t flow easily. It can take years to get to know your poolmates, one incoherent sentence at a time. But over time friendships are made, your tribe expands, and you sometimes find inspiration in people who were once strangers.

The Original Badass BettyBetty Weaver is one of these inspirational forces (not just because of her name). Betty’s a feisty 89 years old. She’s been a pool regular long before I joined. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5:30am, she’s at the pool with her duffle bag ready to swim, almost without exception.

As with most of my heroes her accomplishments are many, but her attitude is what I find most remarkable.

She makes all of her own swimsuits. (I didn’t even know this was possible) Most days she climbs in and out of the pool on her own and on days when her back is bad, she uses the chair. She doesn’t love this, but it’s better than not swimming. Once she’s in, she swims laps in the first lane for 45 minutes.

Once in a while, not very often, she has falls. When she gets up – on her own or with help – she’s usually laughing and calling herself silly. She claims that she’s getting better at falling, because mostly she falls forward, which is much better than backward and bumping her head.

When she was 74, she started collecting swimming medals at the Senior Olympics. (She notes that she would’ve started a year earlier, but her daughter had scheduled her for a white water rafting trip) She’ll joyfully tell you that her secret to winning is outliving her competition. And if you stay on the topic long enough, you might learn that last summer, she gave her medal away to another senior athlete who hadn’t won a medal before.

She’s always been an independent spirit.  When she was 2 her favorite thing to say was “I do it, myself.” She had her own role model for aging happily; a friend who lived to 103. Despite losing most of her sight,  wearing uncomfortable braces because of her horribly arthritic legs, and developing mouth cancer in her late 90s which forced her to eat baby food until she died, she was always happy and had a great attitude about life. “She took things as they came and made the best of what she had. She smiled all the time and was so nice.”

When I see Betty in the morning, I always hope I can be just like her. I told her so once and she sloughed off the compliment and broke her strategy down to the most simple process…

“When I wake up in the morning and I check to see what still moves. Whatever’s still moving, I move it as much as possible that day.”

Simple. And then she smiles and laughs.

Betty’s one of the biggest benefits of early morning swimming. Her smile is as inspirational as her discipline. She provides the most colorful commentary about my Betty Designs swimsuits; seeing her name everywhere and having her own team delights her. She’s  especially silly when it says “badass” on the butt.

Me and Betty WeaverMy Betty Teammates and I decided that Betty really is an original and should have some Betty gear, so we recently gave her a visor. She loved it! But the next time I saw her, she was concerned. She’d gone home and looked up what “badass” meant and it sounded awful to her – “someone who’s difficult to deal with and mean-tempered”. That didn’t sound good to her. I explained it was more of the “distinctively tough or powerful” part of the definition that we’re talking about. That she was OK with and was happy to be a badass again. 

Betty turns 90 in November. She warned that we better not do anything for her birthday. (She’s fighty, sometimes.) I think it would be impossible not to celebrate. Not just making it to 90, but for being a beautiful badass at 90 – and for the  wonderful possibility that we could be, too!

I can never be lost

never lostOur grandmother had a knack for discovering the best Chinese Food Restaurants in the most distant locations. For birthdays and holidays, she’d pick up any combination of my brother, me, friends, and cousins and we’d set out to see if we could find the spot again. It was always an adventure and it always started with her signature “whopee!”

Our grandma was pretty cool as far as grandmothers went. She’d always let us pick the radio station and if she didn’t actually enjoy our taste in music, she thoroughly enjoyed our enthusiasm for rockin’ out. When we couldn’t find our jam, she’d lead us in long, never-ending verses of ‘Found a Peanut’ and ‘Hole in the Bucket’. (These were her favorites)

More times than not, at some point in the adventure, the singing would drift to quiet. We’d find ourselves on turning back roads, slowing down, driving by landmarks that were starting to repeat. We’d feel a little nervous and ask, “Gramma, are we lost?”

With surety and joy she’d reply, “No, we’re not lost. We can’t be. There’s a yellow line on the road. Someone’s been here before.” And she’d keep driving.

The quiet would continue as we wound our way and followed yellow lines. And then like a car slipping on ice that finds a bit of traction, we knew she’d found the landmark she was looking for. The car would resume speed and she’d let out another “whoopee!”confirming the adventure was back on.

We never got to a restaurant via the direct route, but we never got lost. We got disoriented and off-course and may have doubled parts of our route, but never lost. We had so many adventures and the journey really was as much fun as the destination. (which says a lot since she also let us put as many sugars in our tea as we wanted and didn’t mind us dropping paper into the pu-pu platter’s sterno flames)

This memory is one of my favorites of her. I’m incredibly lucky because I have so many. When I was little and she didn’t get mad when I wrote my name in crayon on several of the bricks in her fireplace. When I bought my first house and she showed up and scrubbed and cleaned every window and surface in the house with me. And over the most recent 20 years when my family would stay with her in Florida and visit her zoo and her beach– and occasionally she’d sneak them out of the house for an adventure.

She died yesterday. The past couple of years, her dementia really took her over and I haven’t seen her except for one visit. I’m strong in many conditions, but wasn’t enough to be with her when she wasn’t her anymore. I could only catch a glimpse of her when she eating ice cream (she loved sweet treats) or volleying with badminton rackets a foam ball (amazing, the skills that linger).

She wasn’t perfect, in fact she could be quite stubborn and opinionated and some of her family relationships were very damaged. I’m pretty sure I had one of the easiest relationships with her. I don’t know why.

There are so many things about her life, her career, her adventures that I hope to always remember. But I know I will never forget the excitement I felt when we pulled out of the driveway in her Datsun and she let out a “whoopee!” There was an adventure ahead for us. And I know I can never be lost, as long as I see the yellow line.

♥ Ruth Keany Brown ♥