January 30, 2011

Doctors said "Fail" Featured writer Shelly McKee

It makes me wonder how some people are able to overcome such incredible odds when it comes to mental power and the body.  How people run when doctors said they will never walk.  How the absolute impossible, becomes possible.  I love that Shelly was able to overcome her odds.  She has shown her doctors that hard work and mental stability make dreams come true.  Way to go girl.  Proud of you.

What motivates me?  Featured writer Shelly McKee

The single thing that motivates me the most is when my doctors told me that I would probably need hip replacements and knee replacements by the age of 30.  That was when I was 16 years old. When I turned 16 I was told that I have this connective tissue disease that effects all soft tissue in my body, and from they’re on forward I would have to be extremely careful with activities and just life in general.

Six years later I was finally able to get out of all the bracing and past the need for support to start riding a bike. I never thought at the age of 34 that I would be getting ready for my second season of racing. This coming year I have some big goals, as I did last year with getting through my first stage race -  that being the green mountain stage race. Cycling is becoming more of a lifestyle for me than ever before.

Now, all I think about is what is the next thing the next level I can get to that the doctors said I would never be able to get to?  I have been riding for about 12 years.  Six of those years have been mountain biking.  I then switched over to road and i'm in my 6th year of road riding.  I have my first season of racing behind me.  I am training hard now going into my second off season.  Currently I have a coach over looking what I am doing to get me ready for next year. Next year is going to be a big year for me since the Canadian Masters Nationals are going to be close to my hometown and I will be competing in the time trial, road race and more than likely the criterion.

Dean Alleger out of Sacramento California has been coaching me for the past year. Dean has been able to help me balance my training, racing, home life and work. With Dean’s initial interview for new athletes lets him understand you right away. The interview let’s him understand what you want out of your training, how many hours you’re able to put into your training in a given week, then asks about your health and any special conditions. With my special condition we were able to figure out what I could do and then move on from there. Over this coming winter there are many things planned for me with the up coming season with hopes of peaking twice and many stage races in my future. I cannot wait for the season to start with my first series of races in Rome Georgia this year.

Shelly Mckee

January 28, 2011


Due to the long gray winter months here in Idaho, I have found that in order to stay sane you have to get your buns outside and enjoy the fresh air that Mother Nature has provided for us.  Studies have shown that getting outside during the winter improves our mood, increases our sex drive (WHOOT, WHOOT), and in general makes us healthier individuals. 
For years I have watched my husband enjoy the winter months Nordic skiing.  He heads to the local track and skate skis for his daily dose of goodness.  Now, when  it comes to cross country skiing I can say that it honestly just about bores me to tears. However,  I have found my new love -  it's a lot like cross country skiing, but faster.  I LOVE that word!  FAST!  Anything that will make you go fast, and gives you a workout is my kind of new love.  So, lately I have been putting on the skate skis and have been taking short lessons from my awesome husband.  Here is how things have been going so far.

Stand up, glide for one second, fall down!  Stand up, glide for two seconds, fall down! . . . . . . . . REPEAT. . . . . .REPEAT.

Man, this takes serious balance.  I'm not quite ready to show you how I look doing this, because it will end up on the next  episode of funniest home videos.  Well, here are a few good techniques that will help get you started.  Also, if you are interested in learning what equipment you will need for skate skiing go here.  Good luck to you girls.

January 26, 2011

Banana-Strawberry Goodness

Alright, so I am not a protein shake freak, but I also don't love choking down chicken breast 24/7.  Here is another great recipe to add to your pre-workout routine.  Whip it up before your intense spinning class - you will have mounds of energy you never knew you had.
Banana-Strawberry Smoothie

1 scoops vanilla protein powder (your favorite)
3 -4 strawberries, frozen
1/2 banana
1/2 cup water
1 tsp flaxseed oil (optional)
Ice cubes
Blend and enjoy!

January 25, 2011

Jeans and Bike Fit - Featured Writer Jill Shirley

I have known Jill for a long time.  To me she resembles an Olympic athlete.  Strong body, and a strong mind - she has no limits.  It wasn't until recently that she jumped into the sport of cycling.  She contacted Brian and I interested in a women's specific fit.  A bike that she could have for years to come.  A bike that would fit her.  Jill's bike!  After her build and her cycling event I asked her for a few words regarding her custom fit.  These are her amazing words. 

A Great Pair of Jeans - Featured writer Jill Shirley
A dear friend of mine once explained her love of cycling like this,

"One of my very favorite things to do in this world is to be in a place where I can feel the wind. Growing up it was always perched up on a rock or a peak in my mountains, the wind would blow and I would feel as if it was cleansing me, blowing all of my stress, my worry or fear into the valley below.

I have now lived in North Carolina for almost seven years and it has been hard to find the perfect spot to sit and be cleansed by the wind.  I have felt an ache in me to be back in a place where I can have a daily dose of height and wind but here I am, in this beautiful but relatively flat green oasis.  So finally, finally I have found something that fills me with that same familiar thrill.

My bicycle.
I can go so fast, the wind rushes over me and as I gaze over the corn fields, the red barns and the beautiful sky I feel cleansed."

Though my words are not as eloquent as hers, I feel a love for cycling as well. It's the peace I have when I'm out riding. I don't know if it comes from the rhythm of the cadence, the solitude and beauty of the miles and miles of fields around me or just the pure peace I have of letting everything go... just for a few hours. Nothing else matters for those couple of hours except me and my bike.

Almost every cyclist I have ever talked to has shared with me basically the same eerie phenomena; you and your bike become one. I know, I know, it sounds a little bit "Star Wars-y" but honestly, in order to achieve that complete peace while cycling, you have to become one with your bike. Your bike needs to be an extension of you. The bike you ride makes all the difference in the matter.
Riding the right bike for you can either make or break the love you have for the sport. If you ride a bike that doesn’t fit you correctly, you may never find that perfect peace. I was lucky enough to have a Bella Rosa custom-made bike made specifically for me. Custom-made bikes ensure a perfect fit whereas stock models are just that, stock. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense; everyone is built so different, why would you settle with one that isn’t made just for you. You wouldn’t borrow jeans from just any friend, would you? That friend would have to have the exact same build as you. In fact, I dare say that you’d rather wear your dirty jeans that fit you good rather than wear someone else’s jeans that don’t fit you at all. It’s like that with custom-made bikes. You’d rather look into having a bike made specifically just for you than ‘try’ to make those stock models work for you. I LOVE my Bella Rosa bike. As dorky as it sounds, it’s just an extension of me that works in complete sync with my every move. I’ll be looking forward to greeting you out on those long roads of complete peace and beauty.
Jill Shirley

January 15, 2011


Alright, I'm not much for giveaways because no matter how many times I enter something I NEVER win.  Let me repeat . . . NEVER win.  So, this is going to be super duper easy for one of my 4 readers to win one of these adorable little kid tees.   Well, actually I do have a few more than 4 readers but who's counting.  Choose from orange or white.
How to enter…

  • “Like” us on Facebook  and spread the word about our site.  Tell your friends about Bella Rosa Bikes. 
  • Then come back here and leave your comments to win! Seriously, we LOVE comments, and definitely don't get enough of them.  These amazing women writers need your support.  They need to know that others are learning and growing from their amazing stories. 
The lucky weekly winner will be announced January 23. Happy day to you all! 

January 11, 2011

ONE STEP AT A TIME - Featured Writer Barbara Hughes

I have found that so many of you women have such amazing stories to tell, and talents to share.  I ran across Barbara's blog online http://barbie-tryingatri.blogspot.com and was so excited when I found it.  I fell in love with her vision for life, her excitement for being healthy, and her motivation to keep going.  Thank you for sharing your story with us Barbara - we are all inspired by your words.
ONE STEP AT A TIME - Featured Writer Barbara Hughes
What an honour it is to be asked to write something about myself for Bella Rosa Bikes – thank you Heather.

Let me see, where do I start? The last 2 years of my life have seen me go through the biggest journey – reaching one of the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. And I am so glad it happened as it has made me who I am today. Let me explain.

After the birth of my twins 15yrs I had always struggled with back pain, until finally after a year of it I could tolerate it no more. I sought the help of a GP and a specialist and was diagnosed with Bilateral Sacroiliitis. The medication which I was prescribed back then made me feel quite sick and made it impossible to be a good mother so I stopped taking them and never went back and rode the wave of back pain for years – tolerating it through another pregnancy, university degree and work.

At the beginning of 2008 the pain really began to intrude in my daily life till I was unable to work (nursing was my life) and I finally made my way back to the doctor with my head held low in defeat. The specialist once again ran a barrage of tests and I was prescribed Prednisone (steroid) to reduce the inflammation in my lower spine. I was finally pain free but the resulting side effects (weight gain, bruising, hairloss, depression) was without a doubt worse than the pain I had endured.
 Me on the left.

In March of 2009 my brother came to visit me for my birthday (green striped shirt) and although I was ecstatic to see him, inside I was totally embarrassed that he had to see me in such a state. And it was this very photo that made me realise that I had lost control of me and my life and it was time to take the proverbial “bull by the horns” and regain that which I had lost. So the journey began.

Initially they were baby steps. I got back into the pool after some 20yrs and started with no more than 500m. A total contrast to my former self - who would have thought nothing of swimming 6km, twice daily. But I knew “Rome wasn’t built  in a day” and if it took me a good 6mths to gain 30kg then it was going to take me just as long if not longer to lose it and stay healthy at the same time.

By July of 2009 I was under the guidance of a personal trainer and I was finally starting to see remnants of my former self start to emerge. I signed up for the World Masters Championships which were being held here in Sydney in October. I trained 6 days a week (swimming, bootcamp, running) and when the day finally arrived to compete, apart from being very nervous – I was ready. The race was the culmination of all of my hard work, sweat and tears – so to have come out 2nd in my 50m Backstroke in the 35-39yr age group was like the icing on the cake.
No sooner had this day finished I was in search of another goal to conquer – not to win again but to prove to myself that I could and that I was the master of my own destiny. So I entered a 500m open water swim – and lo and behold I came first with a time of 8min 17secs. How cool. Life was finally looking up and with that I entered my first Triathlon. What a challenge.

I had not ridden a bike since I was 14yrs old nor run more than 1km but I was determined to do this Enticer. I trained probably 4-5 days a week in the swim and bike but due to running injuries I was unable to actually run the 2.5km needed for the race more than once. The day itself was a bit of a blur, but I do remember being very nervous and inexperienced in all aspects. The 250m swim, 10km cycle and 2.5km run went by in a flash and to my surprise I came 6th in my age group. And with that I was hooked.

Since March of 2010 I have accomplished another Enticer Triathlon as well as my first Sprint Triathlon which saw me place 9th amongst some tough women competitors. I am continually inspired and motivated to push myself beyond that which I thought ever possible. However, I know that a lot of it has been made easier to achieve through having a supportive family and network of friends through my local Tri Club – Panthers Tri Club.

There are so many words I could use to describe the world of Triathlons – exhilarating, exciting, addictive. And it is through the world of Triathlons that I have found myself again. It has allowed me to set goals relative to where I am at the time and has made me want to strive and achieve – the hunger at times is insatiable.

So I have now signed up for my first Long Distance Triathlon – a 70.3 at Port Macquarie here in Australia on May 1st this year. This is a 1.9km swim, 90km cycle and 21.1km run. Am I scared? You bet! But I have never been one to let fear beat me. For me it’s all about the journey – watching myself conquer things, like my first 100km bike ride (what a blast that was). Sure there is pain at times, not just physically but mentally – but half the fun is overcoming them and realizing you are stronger and much more capable than you give yourself credit for.

I look forward to seeing what the next 4months will bring in training – I know I am a capable individual and I know most importantly I am setting a good example to my 3 children. I want them to see that anything is possible in their life and that the sky is the limit if you just try.

Thankyou Heather once again for asking me to be a part of this. And to all who read this who may feel that things are maybe too hard right now – all it takes is one step – doesn’t matter how big or small that step is so long as it is in a forward direction. GO FOR IT.

January 05, 2011

Beating the Crazy Winter Blues

So, the weather where I live has been a bit crazy.  Snow, snow, and more snow!  I truly love snow, but after a while I feel a little cooped up and want to get out.  Our little town doesn't even have a gym.  The closest gym is 30 minutes away.  Makes for a long winter. 

It's truly hard riding your bicycle in this weather, but I have found that the indoor trainer and spin classes will just have to due.  No matter how crazy it makes me.  I was talking with my brother who was up for the Holiday season visiting from L.A.  he said there are so many cyclists out on the roads down there this time of year.  How can this be?  Doesn't everybody live with snow?  I mean isn't everybody dealing with five foot drifts in their yards?  Aren't schools being canceled due to bad weather? 
(I look like I am ready to beat someones butt.  Really, I am super happy.)
"If you can't beat it join in."
Now, what I mean by this is get your butt outside and play.  If you make the time to get outside you will be able to cope with the long winters just a little easier. Your loved ones will thank you for not being so p.m.s.e! 

I was able to get out and take my family out for a day of snowshoeing and cross country skiing.  They had a total blast.  I mean WE had a total blast.

 Here are a few tips I found from sparkpeople.com to make your cold winter months a lot more fun.
1.    Exercise -As if we needed another reason to get fit! Exercise isn’t only for maintaining your weight and staying healthy. It’s great for relieving the stresses of life. Plus, the effects of a good workout can last for several hours after you hit the showers. You’ll have more energy throughout the day, and your metabolism with stay elevated too. Exercise also helps your mind by releasing those "feel good chemicals" that improve your mood.

2.  Eat a Healthy Diet - What and when you eat has a great affect on your mood and energy. Avoid refined and processed foods (like white breads, rice, and sugar). These foods are not only devoid of the nutrients your body craves, but they zap your energy levels and can affect your mood—causing depression, lack of concentration, and mood swings. Try to incorporate more complex carbohydrates (whole wheat breads, brown rice, veggies, fruit) and get your daily 8 cups of water. These healthy foods provide your body (and mind) with nutrients, and stabilize your blood sugar and your energy levels.

3.  Get Some Sun - Most people know that sunlight provides us with Vitamin D. But did you know that it also improves your mood? Winter days are shorter and darker than other months, and because of the cold weather, a lot of people spend less and less time outdoors. Lack of sunlight can cause many people to become depressed—without knowing why! Similar to exercise, sunlight exposure releases neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood. Try to spend a little more time outdoors. Keep your shades up during the day to let more light in. Sit near windows in restaurants and during class. Try changing the light bulbs in your house to "full spectrum" bulbs. These mimic natural light and actually have the same affects on your mind as the real thing.

4.  Treat Yourself - Having something to look forward to can keep anyone motivated. Winter seems endless! But if you plan something exciting, your mood improves when you’re anticipating it and when the event actually comes. Plan something that’s exciting to you—a weekend trip, a day at the spa, or special event like a play, girls (or guys) night out, or sporting event.

5.  Relax! -You’re busy! Work, class, family, friends, appointments, meetings—even if you enjoy being busy, everyone needs some time off. Don’t be afraid to say "No" to extra opportunities (covering a shift for a co-worker, bringing food to your son’s class party). Try to spend a few minutes each day doing nothing!

6.  Embrace the Season - Instead of always avoiding the cold and the snow—look for the best that it has to offer! Take up a winter sport like ice skating, snowboarding, hockey, or even sledding! Enjoy these opportunities while they last—after all, they’re only here a few months per year. Staying active will boost your energy. Seeing winter in a positive light, with all the fun activities that it has to offer, will keep your spirits high.

7.  Get Social Support - Don’t underestimate the power of friends, family, mentors, co-workers, and neighbors. Who can you turn to when you’re down and need a pick-me-up? Keep a mental list of these special people and don’t be afraid to ask for help or encouragement when you need it. Something as simple as a phone call, a chat over coffee, or a nice email or letter can brighten your mood.

8.  Catch some Zzzz’s - People naturally want to sleep a little bit more during the winter. But with all we have going on, sometimes sleep is the first thing to go. With a little time management, and some self-discipline, you can meet your shut-eye needs. Aim for 7-8 hours each night, and try to keep your bedtime and waking time consistent.
Now that you have some key tips to keep you going this winter season.  Get out and enjoy the benefits that winter has to offer. 

January 01, 2011

Motivation - Featured Writer Sigrid Ziegler

Motivation - Featured Writer Sigrid Ziegler

Lots of people ask me where my motivation comes from to do what I do. I never have a good answer, but recently I started thinking about it. I've been an athlete since I was very young, and today I am a competitive cyclist. I think with every sport transition my motivation changed and that was actually why I changed sports. I started in Track and Field, likely as a baby, became a speed skater when I was 18 and at 24 became a cyclist. I don't remember much about Track because I was so young, but I was in the programme because I was good at it and I won a lot. I don't think I needed a lot of motivation. Eventually though I hit puberty and I couldn't run a race to save my life. I struggled through it and training was the only thing I knew how to do. It didn't help me get results though. It wasn't fun, I couldn't win and I hit a point where I realised, I'm never going to win an Olympic medal at this. So I quit.
Six months later I became a speed skater. I didn't do this because I loved skating or the idea of speed skating. I did this because it looked hard, not a lot of people do it, and with my work ethic, I knew I could be successful. In 2002, I figured, in 6 years I'd be a World Champion and maybe I could even go to the olympics in 2006. So I trained. I trained my butt off for 25-30h a week in a sport I had never even done, for 6 months. At that point I started looking for an ice club to go to, when I discovered there are no Long Track Ovals in Toronto! I figured I must be missing something and made a trip to the Toronto INLINE Speed Skating Club to ask them where the ice is. This is how I became an inline speed skater, because truly there was no ice outside of Calgary at the time.

I excelled quickly because I worked hard. My biggest problem was that I couldn't skate before 2002 and I had a lot to learn about technique. It was easy to have fun when you're getting better and winning. I made the World Team in 2005 and competed in my first Worlds. That's where I realised that I had been fueled by negative motivation. I wanted to beat everyone around me instead of meeting my goals. My goal was to be a world champion, but I didn't care what sport as long as I beat everyone. My club and training group were a fairly negative influence in that respect and the boys in the group always riled up the girls against each other. I wasn't well liked and the women especially resented that I was faster than them in such a short time. I was training more than them so it was going to happen no matter what. I started to realise the situation I was in was destructive but I just couldn't seem to change my attitude. I attended another World Championship the following year and was given a contract to a Professional World Inline Cup (WIC) Team. I moved to Switzerland in spring 2007 for what I thought would be my break through year. I was the first Canadian woman on a WIC Team that contested all the races in the world. I got to fly to Asia several times! It was the experience of a lifetime, but I had this large chip on my shoulder. I was there to prove that I was better and faster, that I was the Canadian who could make it and that by finally having a coach, I'd be a world champion. I was told if I come top 20 in a WIC race in my first WIC season, that's a big accomplishment. I placed 19th in the first race. In Seoul, Korea on April 2nd, 2007 was the last time I had raced without expectations.
Every start line I stood on after that felt worse than the last. I didn't do well in my 2nd race and in my 3rd race I thought, "I can't mess this up like the 2nd race". In the 4th race I thought, "ok two bad ones, shrug it off. You can do this!" and season continued on without another top 20, not even a top 40. I was demoralized and my coach was questioning why I wasn't performing, since I did so well in Seoul. What could possibly be the matter? I was embarrassed, scared of getting yelled at after the races and I just wanted so badly to prove to everyone that I was capable. That I would be a world champion in 2009. I set that date after arriving in Switzerland because everyone who goes to the WIC gets good and 2009 Worlds would be in Switzerland. That would be almost like a home event by then. I thought I'd get better just by association I guess.

I got better, a lot. But it was never enough. I felt pressured and I blamed everyone. One day it hit me. What he hell am I doing here? I gave up my life in Canada, my job as a research analyst, this sport ruined my relationship and I don't even like it! I am effectively, in my opinion, one of the worst "World Class" skaters and can't possibly be expected to win! By pressuring me and yelling at me, I'm not going to get better because I had that negativity for 5 years in Canada before I ever became a Pro. So I quit. I realised that I hated this environment, and I hated the person I had become. I hated that I looked at every girl who came to the skate track with a magnifying glass to see if she could beat me, or if she didn't like me, because nobody ever likes you in skating. I had so much baggage from "failing" at track and field and then growing up in a negative sport that I was never going to succeed. I just didn't know it.

I left speed skating at the end of my last WIC race that year and 4 weeks later won a bike race in Germany. The most important thing I remember is that I had so much fun riding my bike that I didn't care what place I got. I got dropped on a hill and was so happy that I was on my bike instead of skates that I chased and chased. I caught up and I won. If that was a skating race, I would have dropped out after getting gapped on a hill. I changed my sport overnight, and I promised that I would never be negative again. It wasn't easy. I came back to Canada and made the obligatory appearance at the skating track, only to be interrogated about what my list of excuses was for not winning a WIC race. I said, "I've never won a marathon road race in Canada against you guys, and you thought I was going to win a World Cup race? Are you nuts? I'm happy with how I did there". There they had it, I was happy with my one top 20 finish and I didn't even win?! It didn't take long for the gossip and trash talk to start, but for the first time in my life I didn't care. In truth, I was very happy with my race in Seoul, but it took me a long time to see that because I never stopped to take it in. I was too focused on the bad things.

I joined a cycling team, started climbing the ranks slowly and learning that cycling is the hardest sport I've ever done. Sometimes I regretted that I had been riding since the age of 5 and never raced until almost 20 years later, but I know that with my attitude, I wouldn't have been ready. I reminded myself that I love to ride and that it's a gift. My speed skating coach in Switzerland used to say, "in the WIC, you're on hidin' to nothin'. Everyone's watching." I couldn't fake it and I couldn't lie about why I placed badly, the way I was expected to in Canada like everyone else. Cycling is like that. You either have it or you don't, it's very simple. The thing is, you can't possibly perform every day of your life, and I learned that the hard way. Sometimes you just show up and give everything you have and it doesn't matter where you finish. As long as I give everything, I'm happy.

I feel like 20 years have passed between my experience in Switzerland and today, but it's only been 3 years. I learned what positive motivation is. I ride so that I can feel that small daily success of achieving my goal. My world title wasn't going to happen overnight, and I wasn't ready to put the work in. After reflecting on it, I can very honestly say that aside from the mental blocks, I was not going to be a world champion speed skater because I simply didn't work hard enough. I don't know whether it was the influence of the others, or that I was just crazy in thinking that was enough training to be a world champion. Today, I train an average of 40h a week and most of the time I'm completely exhausted. I am still trying to win a world title, but the difference is, I enjoy the journey. I love that after a really gruelling training session, I get to log it in my journal. I love that at the end of the week I get to see the big number of hours that I rode. I hardly ever have personal bests these days because it takes so much more to achieve them. For me, it's a personal best to make it through the week, complete all the training and tick another week off. I take satisfaction in knowing that I didn't skip any training because only now do I truly understand how valuable it is and how hard it really is to be a world class athlete. There are no short cuts. It took me a long time to understand what Greg LeMond meant when he said "It never gets easier, you only go faster". I do understand that now, but I actually think it's gets harder. The faster I get, the harder I work and I push myself so much more than I thought was possible.

One of my Elite Men Teammates was on a training session with me a week ago and he talked me into doing a few more hill reps than I had to or wanted to. He said "If you wanna win, you gotta do one more!" So I did. He said that 3 times. At the end I asked, "Does this ever get easier?" and he smiled and said "Nope!"

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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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