February 25, 2010

A Good Read

My husband Brian had surgery this week.  Everything went fine.  He should be back on his feet soon.  His surgery has made me house bound for a few days making me think I might be able to possibly read a book.  I find time to read a good book about once a year so my choices are always selected carefully.  I don't know what it is about finding time to read, but every time I think about picking up a good read I find my children wanting ALL my attention NOW.  Down goes the book!  Maybe tomorrow!  So I have taken every opportunity to find time to read this book by Chris Carmichael.  So far I have been super excited to know that I don't have to put in 20 hours a week on my bike.  Even though that has never happened.  Just think about all the closets I could clean with all the extra hours during the week not in training.  That's right - train in as little as 6 hours a week. 

As cycling's popularity grows with men and women in their thirties, forties, fifties, and beyond, the traditional ideas about training for endurance sports need a new approach to reflect the daily challenges faced by parents and working professionals. In The Time-Crunched Cyclist, Chris Carmichael presents that new approach to cycling training. Using elements from the same program he designed for Tour de France winner Armstrong, this guide shows how to build competitive cycling fitness on a realistic schedule — a schedule that fits into the busy lives of today's active middle-agers. Complete with training plans, case studies, nutritional guidelines, and success stories, "The Time-Crunched Cyclist" shows cyclists how to push the pace in the local group ride, have fun, and perform well in local races, or tackle a challenging 100-mile fundraiser ride without committing to a high-volume training program.

February 20, 2010


So if you have been following the Olympics lately you know that there are some pretty amazing stories about dedication and strength.  One of the stories that was quite inspiring to me was the story of Slovenian cross-country skier Petra Majdic who won the bronze metal after four broken ribs and a collapsed lung.  Ready the rest of the story here.  Can you even imagine?  Seriously?  I whine and complain when my butt hurts after an hour in the saddle.  These people are truly amazing.   They come from a whole new breed of "TOUGH".  I guess what we need to do is buck up and when the pain finally sets in we need to just "SUCK IT UP".  I have a friend who is constantly telling me to just suck it up.  Well, you know what..... I do not come from this breed.  I come from the the breed of I DISLIKE pain.  So, I will keep enjoying just finishing a race and continue to admire those of you who SUCK IT UP.

February 18, 2010


I got an e-mail from a good friend today. I laughed pretty hard for a pretty long time.

Thought for the day...

Women are Angels
And when someone breaks our wings,
We simply continue to fly...

On a broomstick...

Because we are flexible...

February 17, 2010

CROSS TRAINING - a busy mother's way (Featured Writer Stephanie Hancock)

“Sheesh, if I had could just have that kind of energy!” I said to myself, watching my kids playing on the sledding hill. Up and down they went, thrilled and sparkling. I dragged a sled up to join them, forcing a fake smile while panting. What is going on? I thought to myself. I run marathons, for goodness sake! My kids, ages 2 to 10, are whipping past me like I’m a couch potato! Maybe I’m just tired from this morning’s run…?

Or maybe my kids are in better overall shape. That thought made me pause and consider, seriously consider, my training plan. I love to run. Runner’s high generally comes pretty easy. Mile after mile, year after year, it’s been the same thing – one foot in front of another, the euphoria of pushing myself a little or a lot, the satisfaction of logging another training run. My body knows how to keep its pace, how to keep those feet going, and how to send one leg up and one leg back. Stuck in an compulsive Runner’s Rut, I can run…but that’s about it – and not all that amazingly well, either.

Speaking of kids, ever watch kids playing on a playground? They’re working their arms, abs and legs on the swings. They’re getting cardio in their games of tag or races. They stretch and strengthen their core, back, shoulders, and arms on monkey bars. They twist and turn and stop and go, they jump and run and slide and swing. They aren’t plodding mile after mile. Granted, they aren’t necessarily building the endurance of long-distance running. But overall conditioning? They’ve got me beat. Not that we’re competing, but something shows on the sledding hill. My kids could out-play me any day. Why?  Because while they’ve been playing, they’ve essentially been cross-training.
The idea of cross-training has always made me feel a little uncomfortable. The hard part for athletes who focus on one sport (like me!) is that you begin to think, “I HAVE to run (or bike, or swim, or lift) EVERY work-out; I can’t miss that day, it’ll ruin me!” This is me talking. Did I mention I’m a compulsive runner? Well, perhaps it’s time to change that way of thinking and stop thinking of cross-training as missing a workout. Cross-training is NOT giving it up; it truly is training. Letting normal-workout muscles rest and recover gives those particular muscles the opportunity to be stronger for the next tough workout. Cross-training kills two birds with one stone by giving fatigued muscles the chance to rest and re-build while simultaneously developing other areas of our total fitness.

Although I’m pushing cross-training, I hope you understand that I don’t expect anyone to give up a favorite activity, be it swimming, cycling, running, pilates, yoga, or whatever. But I do think that by varying a stagnant routine somewhat, we’ll all find ourselves more well-rounded – figuratively speaking, of course.

Benefits of cross-training are obvious. Let me tell some of the “Whys” and present some ideas of “How”, and perhaps in the process I will at least convince myself to cross-train more consistently.

Here’s the Why:

1. Injury: you reduce the risk of injury by giving those oft-used muscles a break. Over-use injuries are frustrating and can ruin a whole training schedule, and even take you out for the season. Such injuries are a nuisance that can be easily avoided. Repetitive-use injuries happen in cycling, running, swimming, rowing, skiing, etc. So don’t repetitively use those muscles all the time. Give them a break.

2. Muscles -The More the Merrier: Cross-training gives your body a chance to build other muscles. Our bodies become extremely efficient after repeating the same movements - at putting that one foot in front of the other mile after mile, and becoming so fine-tuned to that one activity that it becomes not much of a physical challenge anymore. Our muscles get used to the repetitive motion, and what once was tough becomes a walk in the park. Mix it up, and suddenly we’re building new muscles, toning new areas, burning more calories, and reaching new milestones. Translate that all back into your favorite sport and you find you’re performing the preferred sport better, not worse, when you cross-train smartly. Don’t forget the added benefit that more muscles means a leaner body burning more fuel and at a faster rate. Goodbye, fat and flab!

3. Boredom: This is a tough one because I don’t really get bored running, and I know cyclists who don’t get bored cycling, swimmers who don’t get bored swimming…you get the idea. Like them, I like the predictability of the same thing each day. I like to know my run will be on a certain course and will take a certain time. During my schooling I could run between breaks and be back for an afternoon class; when I worked I’d run through my lunch break, knowing my time and mileage would be consistent. Nowadays, I can plan to be back before the kids wake up. Or if I’m on the treadmill when my kids are awake, I can run through two episodes of Dora the Explorer and call it good. I like that.

Granted, sometimes it does get a bit redundant. It’s not always as exciting as it could be. But when I break it up a bit and get out on my bike or ride my rollers (also through two episodes of Dora) instead of running, I get off afterwards thinking, “That was great! That was invigorating!” And I smile. I don’t always smile when I step off my treadmill. Yep, it does feel good to do something else. It breaks up the monotony. And honestly, when I know I’m going to be swimming the next morning, I go to bed with a smile. I can anticipate how my back and arms will stretch and move. Even the thought just feels good.

4. Options: I hurt my ankle last week. I was playing “I’m a way-cool snowboarder in the Olympics doing tricks off the 2nd-story deck into the snow below.” It was my kids’ idea. Really. No, we didn’t wear snowboards but we pretended. And it was a lot of fun. But I landed wrong one time and BAM, I could just see my whole marathon training schedule fly out the window… Thankfully with some loving tender care (R.I.C.E.) and Ibuprofen, I’m not out for more than a few days. But in any case, it was comforting to know I had other options and could still train. My bike and the swimming pool will see me through my bruised and battered ankle. Actually, I suffered a real life, honest to goodness over-use injury two years ago when training for a marathon, and that’s when I first got my bike and my rollers. I trained for two months on my bike for a marathon, then after only two more weeks of running, ran the race. And did just fine.

And the how:

If you are worried that cross-training will ruin your training schedule, make a new schedule. Pencil in just one or two different activities, and feel free to put them on your normally light training days, or even on mid-week rest days. Having the schedule in front of you will convince you that you are still really doing your favorite activity. You haven’t given it up. Just make sure days that are designated for your favored sport are satisfyingly hard workouts so you don’t mind doing other things on other days. I count swimming as a rest day (the way I swim, I might as well be sleeping). Or combine activities – go ahead and pencil in a Brick (bike then run) on one of your harder days. See how you feel and if you like it, do it again the next week. Or switch out an easy run (if you mostly bike) for an easy ride (if you mostly run) – and vice versa.

With all this cardio talk, don’t forget other areas, especially core. Finding time for core work might not be as hard as you think. If you’re time is limited, try reducing your cardio workout just fifteen minutes. Use that time to get in some good core-strengthening exercises. A strong powerhouse will translate to strong limbs. It is definitely NOT wasting time to focus on that waist (and everything around it). Core workouts can be done at different times of the day, too. If you have even a small window of time, go ahead and do what you can – you don’t even have to dress down.

Strength-training has got to be my weakest area. I did a fabulous strength-training program for all of two weeks last year before I quit. I just missed running too much. But I have since realized that doing one type of exercise doesn’t mean I can’t do the other. They are not mutually exclusive. Again, scheduling it in, even just two days a week, can positively affect your entire fitness in huge ways. “But I don’t want to give up running (or whatever sport you’re focused on) for two days a week!” So don’t give it up. Work it in as a supplement, not a replacement activity. Again, you can use a scheduled rest day, or reduce a normal workout by 15 minutes (or more), to work on different areas. Note that “rest day” doesn’t have to mean “no exercising day.” It simply means to give your body a break from that normal workout, let those over-worked muscles rest, and give other parts of your body a chance to shine.

Now a word about rest days. Usually a day or two during the week can be dedicated to recovery while still allowing for training in different areas, i.e., cross-training. But I would strongly suggest taking one full day in seven as a complete rest day. Certainly it lets you relax and focus on other things for a while, but it also combats burnout – both mental and physical. Knowing that I’ve got a scheduled real rest day ahead keeps me motivated during the other days to get up and get going. I’m less likely to short-change my hard workouts when I realize I’ve got a break coming up.

Here’s a final analogy to support the idea of cross-training: Let’s talk food. I eat oatmeal every day. I really like it. It fills up the corners of my stomach like nothing else, leaving me feeling satisfied. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day – almost. But think of the ramifications if I only ate oatmeal. I’d definitely not get the well-rounded nutrition I need. And even though I like the predictability, I think I’d get bored. My body would not perform to its best. Even other areas of my life would begin to suffer. Nice as oatmeal is, there are lots of other foods I like, too. Likewise, nice as one sport is, there are lots of other sports I like, too. Really, there is an entire buffet of different activities out there for us to choose from. It doesn’t mean foregoing the favored oatmeal (or running, or whatever sport) to add variety to my menu. Cross-training gives me a chance to try other things and develop different tastes. It makes for a healthier, stronger, faster, leaner and happier me.

Smart cross-training can turn the work of a work-out into the play of a playground. There are plenty of whys and ways to condition our bodies for optimal performance. So if I follow my own advice, I expect I’ll be swinging and climbing and chasing without breaking a sweat just like my kids in no time! And maybe this time next year, I’ll be racing up and down that sled hill just like them - with a smile instead of a grimace and a laugh instead of a moan. Play hard, play smart, and have fun. Happy cross-training, everyone.

February 14, 2010

I "hEaRT" bike stuff

So, did you get everything your little heart desired for Valentine's day?   Did you get one of these RAD bracelets?  Too bad it's for a man. I would totally wear this.   Find out more cool cycling gift ideas for your guy here http://bikereviews.com/2010/02/5-bicycle-valentines-day-gifts-for-men/  It doesn't have to be a holiday to celebrate how cool your man is.

So summer is right around the corner and what exactly does that mean?  Crazy busy schedules with absolutely no time to rest.  I love that feeling.  It also means that the North American Handbuilt Bicycle show is calling our name.  My husband Brian and I are designing our first Bella Rosa bike for the show.  We plan on a classic steel frame with lots of radical touches.  It also means cranking down on the carbon project for Kelson bikes, and making sure we have lots of fun in the meantime.  So when that snow starts to melt and the trees start to blossom it means that I better have a lot more done  - than I do now.  So tomorrow is a new day.  Watch out world the non-sleeping witch is on her way.

February 09, 2010

Motivation - CONTINUED

Alright, so we talked a little bit about having a goal or something to shoot for, right?  Did you decide which event you will be working towards?  If you are a beginner and have never had the amazing opportunity to ride your bike with other women - give it a shot.  You will love the girls day out, you will love the exercise, and you will love the fact that you just accomplished something you never thought you would. 

If you fall down all you have to do is have some amazing person pick you back up.   Check back often to find an updated list of local events that you can train for this coming season.  Think BIG, dream BIG!


Once you've decided to start cycling, make it as easy as possible to follow through. That means having what you need and getting it all ready for your workouts -- pack your gym bag, prepare meals or snacks, and plan out what you'll do that day. I've skipped plenty of morning workouts because finding my cycling shoes turned out the be the equivalent of finding the lost city of Atlantis. I now park them right next to the bed,  so all I have to do is step into them and I'm ready to go.

Part of doing what we do each day has to do with routine and habits. If you can make exercise a habit, you're that much closer to making it easier to do. It helps to have a regular day and time you workout so that, once that time comes, you know it's time to get busy. You can also create a ritual around your workout to help you get ready. For example, if you're a morning exerciser, take a few minutes to stretch before you get started. Or, if it's cold, throw your clothes in the dryer before putting them on. Find ways to make your workout just another part of your life, like brushing your teeth.

So start tomorrow.  Get those spandex out, be happy to be heading to spin class at 5:00am instead of riding in -30 degrees.  Make it a part of your life.  You will be happy you did.

February 04, 2010


So you're sitting on the couch right now with a bag of chips and some bon bons?  Well, if you are lucky enough to live where there is SNOW you might have a hard time getting geared up to do much of anything.  It snowed all day today making the landscape amazingly beautiful, but making it hard to get a little motivated to move.  I walked out to attempt to ride my bike trainer - took one look at it, turned around and shut the door in disgust.  How many more times do I have to sit my butt on that seat and pedal to nowhereland?  I'm struggling with the fact that I can't go outside and ride my bike right now.  Bike rollers just don't look sexy anymore.  They make me want to shout and scream obscenities.  So, what can we do to get a little motivated? 

You already know that the first step in motivating yourself is having something to work for. It doesn't matter whether that's a weight loss goal or a goal to ride your bike in a century -- anything that gives you reason to exercise will work. Always having something to work for, big or small, it's just one way to keep yourself going.  So, get off the couch, put down those bon bons, and write down what your summer goals are.  Let's shoot for the stars.  Who knows, maybe we'll land on the moon! 

We will talk more about
  • Preparation 
  • Discipline
  • Flexibility
  • Commitment
  • Having Fun
  • Reward Yourself

February 03, 2010

Little Red - mark your calendar

Hey girls, mark your calendar for the upcoming Little Red Riding Hood ride which will be held
June 5, 2010.  This ride is dedicated to

Women Cycling For a Cause

One of the best cycling “Girls’ Weekend” activities you will find in the country is in Logan, Utah, which is about 80 miles north of Salt Lake City. The event is the Little Red Riding Hood Ride and it is the largest and longest all-women’s bike ride in the country.

The ride offers route distances of 15, 35, 45, 62, 80 and 100 miles and all the funds raised from Little Red go to support women-specific cancer research. The ride has attracted women from all over the USA and a few other countries as well, including Canada, Mexico, Italy and Australia. It’s a welcoming atmosphere for all types of cyclists; you’ll see mothers, daughters and grandmothers cycling side by side.

Click here for registration information
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Welcome to a new attitude in women's cycling and a first in women's specific titanium and steel custom bikes. We know females....because we are females. All women share a common interest. We want to feel comfortable, confident, and strong on our bikes. We also want to look good while riding hard. At Bellarosa we build bikes to fit you using only the finest materials. Our bikes our built in house one at a time from start to finish. 100% handbuilt in the U.S.A. So guess what? We no longer have to ride boy bikes. It's alright to want to ride a bike designed specifically for you. At Bellarosa we can build your dreams.

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