Tag: cyclocross

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!
#teamworkmakesthedreamwork

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

cx-2106-crossmas

“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

STBG
#yaybikes #yayfriends

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

#stayweird

#stayweird

Graham Moore’s gave the best acceptance speech at the 2015 Oscars. His message was personal, authentic, beautiful…and clear.

“…what I wanted to do was say this: When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different, and I felt like I did not belong.”

“And now I’m standing here, and so I would like this moment to be for this kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. I promise you do. Stay weird, stay different and then, when it’s your turn, and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along.”

(If you missed it click here.)

Thank you for standing up there on the most glamorous stage in Hollywood and saying those words.

“I felt weird and I felt different, and I felt like I didn’t belong.”  Most of us have felt this, but we don’t say it out loud, because we think we’re the only one. The resounding praise that Moore’s receiving today shows that this sentiment hit us in our guts. We all get it…because we all know it.

16 is a particularly difficult time to have these feelings.* Remember middle school and high school? A majority of us resorted to trying to be “normal” and fit in. Which really just made us feel weirder because we no longer felt like ourselves. The ones who didn’t master “normal” got picked on. It was awful.

So what if we all stand on our own stages, whatever they are, and pass the message to the next person who comes along?

Many, many years ago, my teenage sister (much younger than me) came to stay with us for a while in the summer. At some point during her stay she asked me how I can just talk to everyone, everywhere we go. It was a great question that I hadn’t really asked myself before. I told her that at some point I I had realized that I was different, a geek, and rather than trying to blend in I had given up and embraced my geekiness. I just didn’t have to worry about being found out, anymore. I was cool with being my own nerdy self.

It was like a light bulb went off for her. She took to this notion naturally and embraced her own geekiness and has been unabashedly her own different, wonderful self.

My own children need my support to just be themselves. The cookie cutter phase of middle school & high school is the worst, and sometimes it’s hard to hear about their hurts.  I find this with my adult friends, as well. We all suffer from trying to fit in and feel normal at some point.

stau weird, stay different, belongOne of the nicest byproducts of accepting my weirdness has been finding others who share theirs with me. I have a wonderful group of supportive friends who are incredibly different from me and one another. And we appreciate this about each other. We celebrate our weirdness.

“Stay weird, stay different” and you might find where you do belong.  If you’re looking for a place where weird and different belong, you might try cyclocross. 🙂 (or running, or triathlon…)

“Stay weird, stay different and then, when it’s your turn, and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along.” tweet that!

*One of my children wrestles with depression; this is very scary as a parent. When the feelings of not belonging get strong they can be overwhelming, and the options can get fewer and more dangerous when depression is part of the mix. Our schools are filled with kids who might not make it their own stage. Moore’s message is a gift to these kids. We can amplify it with our own messages. There is hope. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

into Cyclocross – 7 Steps, 1 Leap

Ok, I feel a need to backtrack – how the heck did I go from triathlon race reports to becoming the “Luckiest Woman in all of Cycloross”?

Cyclocross seemed like a great triathlon-off-season sport since cycling, though improving, is still my weakest leg. I’m pretty sure that any future speed lies in increasing my confidence (aka reducing my fear), handling skills, and power output. This is cyclocross – tenfold!

These are the steps I took to get started with cyclocross (CX). And it’s pretty fair to say that this may not be my best example well-thought planning.

Step 1. Procure a(nother) bike.
Welcome to the tent, StellaThe road and tri bikes won’t work for cyclocross and my mountain bike weighs about as much as I do. I “needed” a new bike. Happily, I’m married to a bike MacGyver. As soon as I shared my CX intentions, he began dismantling old bikes, gathering parts from his and our friends’ collections, and building my “Franken-bike”.  And then he surprised me with a new-to-me used Giant CX frame – which I love! Jason and our friend, Steve (the Bike Guy), procured the rest of the missing parts – and I had a CX bike, Stella Blue.

(As an aside, for someone who still “doesn’t love cycling,” I now own a lot of bikes.)

Step 2. Ride the bike (on the grass)?!
On a Friday afternoon, Jason added a saddle and wrapped the handlebars. (Perfect timing since I was signed up for a CX skills clinic, later that evening.)  Weeks earlier when I signed up, I imagined having ridden the bike a few times before going to the clinic. I seriously considered bailing after trying several times to gather the courage to hurl my body on to the bike. I started to crumble into a mentally defeated pile, so I put myself into “time-out” (not joking – I sent myself to my room until I could come out with a better attitude). In the quiet, I decided that I am what I am – an otherwise competent human, with no cyclocross skills or experience.  humble beginningsThis wasn’t going to change before the clinic. Showing up “as-is” felt marginally better than bailing and remaining skill-less, so off we went – me and Stella.

Mark McCormack did an fantastic job breaking down the dismount, the remount, and the barriers into manageable pieces for my brain and skill level. By the end of the night, I was happy, really happy and again hopeful that cyclocross might be fun. I had a pretty good CX Day 1!

Step 3. Despair.
On CX Day 3 I crashed again, emotionally. I rode the clinic high for about 48 great hours and then Jason and Steve designed a wicked pissah practice course in our yard. We invited friends over for an afternoon training session. I was psyched to practice my new skills. But that didn’t happen. The course was tight and beyond what I could manage with my current skills (and confidence).  Bummer.
Happily, the company and the beer were excellent -which to be fair was a big part of why I was drawn CX.

Step 4. Second Guess & Reconsider.
MRC
After my backyard disappointment, I spent CX Day 4 emailing event organizers to make sure it was appropriate for someone with my level of inability to attend the next clinic I was registered for. My friend, Kristin, and I had signed up for High Tea with Helen (Wyman) almost 2 months ago – back when I naively underestimated how quickly I’d transition to cyclocross. It was also when I imagined High Tea with Helen being a women’s clinic and actually including tea. (I was wrong on both counts.) Thankfully no one replied to my inquiry. By the afternoon, I changed gears (again) and registered for the 2nd day of the clinic , as well and convinced Jason to join me.

Step 5. Be scared and show up anyway.
Behind the planks
I’ve decided that showing up is probably the most important step to anything. I arrived at Kristin’s, on schedule on CX Day 5. I dropped off my 2 youngest kids for her mom to watch, piled Kristin’s bike into the car, and we were off.
It was a good sized class, everyone was incredibly nice, and I wasn’t the only brand newbie there. Helen and Stef Wyman were amazing! I can’t speak highly enough of how much they taught me or how much they contributed to my confidence level. Of the group, I clearly still had the most trepidation, even riding between elements, but I came so far from where I started.
( I felt quite badly when I nearly knocked into Helen as I crashed through the downhill, off-camber section, but CX Day 5 restored my hope.)

Step 6. Freak out. Show up. Repeat.
On CX Day 6, Jason and I showed up a little early for High Tea with Helen. We rode through the course together to warm up. Jason was registered to race the Midnight Ride of Cyclocross  which followed the clinic. I planned on waiting to see how I felt after the clinic. The 2nd day of Tea was just as great as the first.
CX Day 6 included “day of” registration for my first cyclocross race. (ack!)

Step 7. Reframe.
There was a certain amount of juggling of childcare and after school events in order to make the clinic.  A neighbor watched our kids right after school, but I needed to dash back to pick them up, while Jason raced, and bring them back to Lancaster (fed) in time for my race. Initially this felt like a huge inconvenience, but it wound up being another good time to calm my brain. On the way home I deduced that I was 1. scared, 2. certain to be last and quite possibly embarrassed, and 3.  trying to justify being a”no-show”.

One of the gifts of parenting is imagining what you’re actions teach your children.  More than I wanted to quit, I wanted them to believe that as long as they do their best, they have no reason to be embarrassed.

No more steps – time to leap!
Jason had finished his race by the time I returned to Lancaster. On the way, I had prepared the kids for what they were about to watch. I told them I was going to try my best and was probably going to be last, but my goal to not give up and enjoy the whole experience, as much as possible. At first they laughed when they heard I was going to be last, but they quickly switched to being the best cheerleaders, ever.
High Tea with Helen (Wyman)All that was left to do was pin on my number and head to the starting area with Stella. Our race started at 7:00pm. So my first race ever was also going to be in the dark. Pretty awesome.
I hung at the back with the other first-time racers from the clinic. Just before the start, I reminded myself that this would be my only first race ever and to make the best of it.

The rest is history. Best first race and DFL, ever!

Sports injuries suck, but opportunity knocks

witchcraft, spells, and potionsI was laying on an exam table for physical therapy, yesterday – not my favorite place to be. I trashed my left hip flexor on Saturday,  practicing bike remounts. (the kind when you just know it’s not good.) It was like being on a torture table because I knew the first step was going to be “rest”.  I hate rest.

(Note: This is not a cyclocross injury.  I’ve been “managing” it all tri season and hoping things would resolve on their own. My tri coach tactfully suggested that dealing with it would make a great off-season project. XC may not be the best rehab option for hip flexors.)

As an FYI, I get a little pissy when I’m injured and this sucked. I was riding my 1st race/ DFL high and looking forward to trying Gloucester with friends.
After the pissy phase, I entered the little crazy/desperate phase. I threw down 800 mg of ibuprofen, smeared on the biofreeze, and attacked the foam roller. After an hour without improvement, I made a desperate run to the pharmacy to buy Kinisio tape. After a bunch “How to Tape a Hip Flexor” videos on YouTube, my left hip was covered in black tape and I was hopeful. Specifically hoping for an overnight miracle cure.

I woke up on Sunday – no miracle. Crap. Maybe a pre-ride lap at Gloucester would loosen things up. It didn’t. It merely confirmed the absence of an overnight miracle. Crap. I went back to pissy.

Back into spectator uniform
Me, pissy @rsgloucester

Somehow, while I was trying to rationalize something pretty stupid, I remembered to eat my own dog food.  I checked my activity against my goals – I felt frenetic, so I knew something fundamental was off. My goals for all of this athletic stuff is to 1.have fun; 2. appreciate what my body is capable of; and 3. be healthy & smart so the fun and the body last as long as possible. I could push through this race, but I was stressed and it was unlikely to be very fun. It could also lead to a longer period of rest for recovery and could even mean no more races this fall and/or no hard training for a while.  None of these were acceptable to me. I unwilling to accept the downside of racing today. Since I wasn’t favored to win and wasn’t taking home any prize money to feed my family – I made the choice that was best for my long-term / overall goals. And remained pretty pissy about the whole situation.

On Monday I got my PT prescription and my initial exam was set for the next day. My hip flexor was definitely healing and feeling much better – almost enough improvement to rethink PT. If I hadn’t said something out loud to Jason, I might have “waited”, but I promised I was taking care of this. I really didn’t want another DNS.

Tuesday morning, the pissiness finally started to fade. I resigned to my situation. I do believe that every injury is a message from my body which I’m usually too dense to hear the first few times.  My ever-so-helpful body elevates the warnings until I finally pay attention.  The simple message here was that I needed to invest in my hip flexors if I wanted to continue to push faster cycling and run times. It wasn’t going to happen without a new strategy. I want to be active until I’m ~100+, so I “choose” to participate in a healthy sustainable way. Sigh.

Once I accepted my injury, I felt less crazed and could see how modifying short term plans actually better supported my long-term goals.  I relax ed a bit. This was when the new opportunity represented itself.  This injury actually gave me a restart on cyclocross.

As an enthusiastic human, I frequently start things in the middle. (I was the kid who spent more time thinking of a band name than learning how to actually play guitar, when starting a rock band.)  We had skin suits designed and delivered before I even had a CX bike, let alone ever rode on grass, dirt, or gravel (forget sand, mud, or wood chips). In my usual enthusiasm, I got my cross bike and jumped into skills classes without learning how to ride off asphalt! These details may have occurred to someone else a little sooner, but I get so darn excited.

Opportunity in InjuryIn that moment it occurred to me that this could be a better (probably more fun) approach to CX. And it works with PT and modified training – no mounts or dismounts or big hills for a while, but I can ride flat on a variety of terrain, do turning drills, and get comfortable on my bike – learn how it works and return to drills when I have a better foundation. Brilliant.

Sometimes my body is much smarter than my brain. Without an intermission – I guarantee you I would have continued to slam through drills and be the slowest human between features – ever.