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I am alive…I promise!

13 Nov

So sorry for my absence, but it has been a very crazy month.  Between traveling to expos, team registration and processing team orders, my blog has take a back seat.

I have done a few fun things!  On Sunday we had a great turn out for our second Tour de Tough Chik.  We had 15 Toughies show up for a lovely 20 miles ride up and down the Pacific Ocean.

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It was so much fun to meet some of our new members in person and catch up with a few old friends.  I hope that we can make this a regular event.  A huge thank you to Theresa for helping me organize the ride and sweeping!

The Dark Side

3 Oct

Hi there, remember me??  Sorry about the spotty blogging, but if you haven’t heard, we have this little thing called Team Tough Chik registration going on and it has kept me busy.  BUT I am trying to continue to train for the Irongirl Lake Las Vegas Triathlon.  Since I signed up late (5 weeks out), I am playing catch up with training.  I broke my “6 months off of racing” after TriRock because I was so jealous inspired by all of the racers.

So over the weekend I had my first brick since Barb’s Race in July.  My husband has been trying to get out and run (although he hates every minute) because he want to try a tri.  Hee hee…welcome to the DARK SIDE.  The poor guy has terrible asthma and running really acerbates it.  He is a very, very strong swimmer (no…i am not jealous…I am proud…really…..even though I have been swimming 2 years longer and he kicks my ass…no seriously…totally happy for him…) and he pretty much grew up on a bike, so running is the missing link.  We have started out slow and short and we are working up to 4 miles this weekend.

When I told him that I had a brick on the agenda for Saturday and invited him to join me, I was sure he was going to blow me off.  Surprisingly. he was game.  It was a short brick, 10 mile bike followed by a 2 mile run.  Easy peasy, right?  I knew he was thinking, “this will be cake, am I even going to get a work out??”

We have a bike/run path by our house where I do all my bricks.  I can park the truck and ride up to 20 miles with out lights (which is HUGE here) and then lock my bike up in the back of the truck for my run.  It is perfect, although I know every curve, crack and mark on this trail by now!

Truck prepped for a Brick

Truck prepped for a Brick

So we went out for the ride and the first 5 miles are downhill and we were smoking.  Then we turned around for the 5 miles back.  It is a slow gradual climb (the kind that kills poor hubby) and I noticed that he was falling back.  The is a sprinter, he can blow by me in a sprint type situation, but the slow climb is where I shine.  So I made it to the truck first and waited a couple minutes and he was right behind me.  We did a quick switch and headed out for the run.  He took about 4 steps and said “Um, yeah…this is different”.  Yup, you think a little run after a short ride is nothing, but the first few times you do it back to back….it is “different”.

He told me to go ahead and run, just let him know where to turn around (I was wearing the Garmin).  I know when I am slower that my running partner, I want them to go ahead.  Nothing worse than struggling to run next to someone who is barely putting out any effort and is purposely slowing down to stay with you.  So I went.  When I got back to the truck, I pulled out my camera…he hates this!

Hubby's first Brick

Hubby’s first Brick

He did great!  I mean 10 mile bike followed by a 2 mile run is almost the bike/run distance of a sprint.  Most sprints are 12 mile bikes and 3.1 mile runs!  And he has been running for 2 weeks.  I was so proud, he was so surprised as to how difficult it was.  Our course was hilly, but we live in a hilly area!

1368814_10201370138912795_802357460_nWelcome to the Dark Side honey! (insert evil laugh here)

AND in case you haven’t heard…2014 TEAM TOUGH CHIK registration is open NOW!!!  We hope you join us for an awesome 2014 race season!


CRUSH your comfort zone!

22 Aug

Last night I stepped out of my comfort zone, like way out.  During my bike fit last week, Derek (owner of Out-Spoke-n) and I started talking about racing.  We discussed that in our area, most bike races are crits or criterium races.

“A criterium, or crit, is a bike race held on a short course (usually less than 1 mile), often run on closed-off city center streets.

Race length can be determined by a number of laps or total time, in which case the number of remaining laps is calculated as the race progresses. Generally the event’s duration (commonly one hour) is shorter than that of a traditional road race — which can last many hours, sometimes over the course of several days or even weeks, as in a Grand Tour. However, the average speed and intensity are appreciably higher. The winner is the first rider to cross the finish line without having been “lapped.”

Events often have prizes (called primes, pronounced “preems”, and are usually cash) for winning specific intermediate laps (for instance, every 10th lap). A bell is usually rung to announce to the riders that whoever wins the next lap, wins the prime.

Success in road criteriums requires a mix of good technical skills — in particular, the ability to corner smoothly while “holding your line” on the road, as well as rapidly and sharply — and riding safely with a large group on a short circuit and exceptional “sprint” ability to attack other riders and repeatedly accelerate hard from corners.” (thank you Wikipedia)

If you aren’t use to riding in a tight pack, crits can be very intimidating and down right scary.  Which is why I do not race crits.  Derek informed me that his shop ride on Wednesday nights is on a crit track and sort of a beginner practice ride.  I have been on my fair share of group rides, but this was different.  Out-Spoke-n is not close, but Marc was out of town and I figured I could either sit on the couch and watch SOA on Netflix or get my bike on the car and try something new.

It took me almost an hour to get to the shop, it was rush hour but I was going the opposite direction of traffic from most of the way.  Pulling up to a new shop ride can be like the first day of school in Jr. High.  My biggest fear was that I wasn’t going to be able to hang, like at all, and embarrass myself.  I was so worried about this, that I didn’t wear any TC gear (yes, I do have 1 non-TC kit – it was a sample LOL) because I didn’t want to disgrace my brand or my team.  I know, terrible but that is the truth.  Plus there is nothing more frustrating when you are giving everything you got and some jack ass yells out, “Come on Tough Chik!”  or “Not looking so tough now…”  yes…it has happened and then I get all pissy and f-bomb-y.

As I drove into the parking lot, I started sizing up the group.  They all looked fast.  You know what a roadie looks like, strong and thin.  I admit, I was a little intimidated.  At least I have a bad ass bike.  So I unloaded Gordy and went into the shop.  Derek was there, kitted out in the Out-Spoke-n kit and I also saw a familiar face, Patrick.  Patrick and I met through the shop and I have ridden with him once before and was dropped.  Not confidence boosting.  I said Hi and made a little small talk, but stuck to myself.  There was one other girl in this group of about 20 and she looked like she was in college.  Actually she is in college because she and her buds were wearing Cal Long Beach kits.  Great collegiate racers…awesome.

Patrick, who was leading the ride, explained that we would ride from the shop to the park and there would be more folks meeting us there.  After we were all at the entrance of the park, we would ride the first 6 laps at a appx 20mph pace and then the last 2 laps were a free for all and you could attack.  And with that we were off.  The ride to the park was a brisk but comfortable pace from the most part.  I was able to talk to 2 other guys and one was a first timer too and the other assured me that it wasn’t too different from the way we were riding now.  2 pace lines.

My confidence grew a smidgen on the 10 or so miles to the park.  I was hanging with the front of the pack on the way over and able to slow down and accelerate with the pack.  When we entered the park, there were about 10 or 15 riders waiting, making the pack to start at about 30-35 riders.  There were about a dozen riders in front of me including a kid who was about 12.  If a 12 year old can do this, so can I…right?

The first lap was an average pace of about 23 mph, I had no problem keeping the speed, but the corners were tough.  I couldn’t keep the speed up during the corners, so I would have to work twice as hard after each corner to re-gain my spot.  In a race situation, I would have lost my spot, but here they gave me the space to speed up and work to make up the distance.  Or at least that is what I did, hopefully it wasn’t a party foul.  With each lap I was able to take the corners faster.  With each lap, the first 2 riders peel off and the next 2 led out the pack.  I started to do the math and figured out that I was going to end up a the front sooner or later.  At this point I was wishing that I had started the ride towards the back of the pack, less chance to lead.  I wasn’t keeping track of the laps, so I had no idea where we were, but from what I can figure, half way trough lap 5 I was a the front.  Holy shit I am leading the pack, pulling these 30 riders.  It lasted for all of a quarter-mile and then was one of the sharp turns, which I intentionally took wide and descended to the back of the pack.  Over the next half mile I gave all I had to catch up with the pack.

I held on for another lap and then I was wasted.  The last lap and a half I rode solo.  I used so much energy trying to stay with the pack after I took the lead that I couldn’t keep up. When I rolled up to the entrance of the park, where we were meeting to leave, I noticed that half the pack was gone.  I don’t think that most of the riders rode for the whole 8 laps, which made me feel a little better about myself.

Once we were all gathered to head back to the shop, Derrik had us get together for a photo.

Can you find me?  Yep I am like the black sheep at the far right.  Honestly, I didn't think I was in the photo.

Can you find me? Yep I am like the black sheep at the far right. Honestly, I didn’t think I was in the photo.

Overall, I am very proud of myself.  I am proud that I got off my butt and went.  That is pretty huge for me these days.  I am proud that I led a huge pack, even if it was very briefly.  I am proud that I didn’t completely embarrass myself, I hung with the boys and I loved every minute.  I am bummed that I found this ride at the end of the summer, as next week is the last week for the ride.  But I am so happy I went!

I am dialed in!

20 Aug

On Friday I went to my not-so-local bike shop, Out-Spoke-N in Huntington Beach, for a bike fit.  You should really get a bike fit every year, as our strengths and flexibility change, your riding style evolves and all of these slight changes need to be accompanied by changes to your equipment.  When it comes to a bike, millimeters can make the difference in 5% power output increase or waking up with a huge pain in you neck (literally).  Bike fits are important and often overlooked by even the most serious cyclist.  So when I bought Gordy, I should have been fitted on him right at delivery.  BUT, my hubby picked him up while I was out of town to surprise me.  Don’t get me wrong, it was awesome to come home to a new bike, but I was robbed of my shop fit.

So when my neck started to bother me, I wanted to cross Gordy off the list of possible offenders, I knew it wasn’t him…he is to cute! LOL  So I decided a bike fit was way over due and I contacted Derek at Out-Spoke-N.  You see, this is not your mother’s bike fit.  Out-Spoke-N is one of the few shops with this is a state-of-the-art bike fit, the GURU Bike Fit.

In layman’s term, GURU is a stationary bike of sorts that is hooked up to a computer.  This way the fitter can input measurements and the computerized bike will adjust.  You can make the slightest adjustment with the click of a mouse.  If this sounds confusing, I copied the websites explanation…

“The GURU Experience makes real-time adjustments to your riding position on command – allowing you feel these changes while pedaling. In addition, the system’s integrated power unit allows you to test your power output and pedaling efficiency.

GURU’s proprietary software captures individual riding positions – which can be compared to one another at the push of a button.

The GURU Experience optimizes your performance to deliver the perfect balance of comfort and efficiency – allowing you to ride longer and faster on your perfect bike.”

guru bike fit

Before I got on the “bike”, Derek took an inseam measurement as a baseline.  There is a small monitor that you can not see from this photo, but it is a read out of your speed and wattage.  He had me adjust the resistance to a pace that I could easily ride all day and from there it was a lot like an eye doctor visit.  “Does it feel better to ride in position 1 or 2? One or two?”

So after about 45 min of easy spinning and playing with seat height, handle bar height and tilt, saddle distance from the handle bars, etc Derrik generated a report.  With this report, I can go to any bike shop and have a bike sized to my specifications.  Why would you need that?  Well, if you ever have to travel with your bike and basically take it apart, it is nice to know where everything belongs.

Below is page 1 (of 6) of the report and gives the basic info.

2013024000085_Page_1So Derrik took these measurements and compared them to how my bike is currently set up.  My bike is set up right now by the very scientific EH method, as in “EH, that looks about right”.  Marc had just eye balled it.  Well, he was exactly and I mean exactly-on-the-dot-right on my seat height, down to the centimeter. (Don’t tell him, we don’t want him to get a big head and start walking up to strangers adjusting their seat height)  Derrik moved my seat forward and according to the fit, I should have a shorter stem.  I decided to hold off on changing the stem since we moved the seat forward as it is and this would put me even closer.

Will this help with my neck issues, probably not.  According to Derrik, usually if it is a mechanics issue you will feel it on both sides (i.e. both knees will hurt, not just your left) and I have significantly more pain on my right.  But we did notice that I tend to ride with my right hand further away on the hood, than my left.  Maybe because your right hand controls the rear derailleur and that is where you do most of your gear changing.  Could that be it?  Who knows but I am happy to know that Gordy is dialed in to meet my measurements and preferences.

I am not suggesting that everyone go out and get a pricey GURU bike fit, but I do suggest contacting your local bike shop and seeing if they do bike fittings.  Usually they use standards according to your height and inseam along with riding styles (are you racing or riding with the kids in the park) and can set the bike up, let you get on and see how it feels.  From there the fitter can manually adjust your bike until you are comfortable.  I really, really strongly recommend that if you bought a pre-owned bike, that you especially get a fit.  You could save yourself a lot of pain and suffering.

Saying Goodbye

16 Aug

Last night I said good-bye to one of my closest training partners, I might even consider her a “friend”.  It wasn’t her…it was me.  She did nothing wrong, we just grew apart.  My needs changed and she, well she stayed the same.

Last night I sold Pinky.

Pinky - My road bike

Pinky – My road bike

I am not sure if my non-cyclist friends will understand the relationship between rider and bike, heck maybe even my cyclist friends won’t understand.  Maybe I am a bit strange and oddly attached to my bike?  I do have a tendency to name and personalize inanimate objects.  But in my defense, Pinky and I have been through a lot together.  I developed my love for cycling on Pinky.  She wasn’t my first road bike, but she taught me about climbing out of the saddle, sprinting off a light and the pure joy of a nice, smooth, fast decent.

San Fran to LA Half Way Mark

San Fran to LA
Half Way Mark

Pinky and I rode for San Francisco to Los Angeles

Mission Bay Triathlon

Mission Bay Sprint Triathlon

Pinky and I raced our first Triathlon in 2011

Tour de Palm Springs

Tour de Palm Springs

Pinky and I racing across the desert and battling fierce winds

Sea Otter Classic

Sea Otter Classic

Pinky and I getting our a$$ handed to us at a road race

Ironman 70.3 Texas

Ironman 70.3 Texas

And Pinky and I race our first Half Ironman distance


Pinky and I did land in the hospital (well I went to the ER and she went to the Fire station)

Pinky has been a great bike and true partner in crime.  I am happy to say that I sold her to a friend and she is very excited to get into cycling.  Pinky is just the bike to introduce her to cycling.  I promised not to stalk her and that is was closed adoption.  But I am happy she is going to a good home.  I say this a little tongue and cheek, but as you can see, I have been through a lot with Pinky.  I have been so happy riding her and I have wanted to toss her across the street.  But through it all, she has been there for me.

It is time to open a new chapter with Flash Gordon (AKA Gordy).  Let’s hope he doesn’t end up at the fire station!

Barb's Race

Barb’s Race

Gordy and I eating hills for breakfast…watch out, we are a fierce team!

Thank you Pinky for 5 amazing years of cycling. Love ya!

I might be facing my 1st DNS…

1 Jul

I mentioned in my last post that I am experiencing some ankle issues.  Well, it has been over a week since I have been able to run and on Saturday my ankle swelled like a balloon after a few hours of walking standing on it.  The swelling has gone down, but not away.  Of course my sports med doc is out this week.  Dr. Husband has diagnosed tendonitis and that I must stay off it (i.e. no running and limited walking).  I rode yesterday and again, no issues.  My foot was no more swollen after the ride than it was before the ride.  And I am swimming, although after an hour of pushing off the wall of the pool, it starts to hurt.

My race is less than a month away and I am starting doubt that I will be able to start.  At this point, I can’t even walk the 13 miles.  I don’t know if I am tough enough to swim, bike and bail.  My competitive streak will kick in and I can almost guarantee that I will convince myself that I am ok enough to stick it out.  I think it is MUCH harder to pull yourself than to race injured.

The other kicker is I raised money for this race.  To not start the race makes me feel like I have let everybody down.  I know that one of my donors will be upset or disappointed, but I will feel bad.  They gave the money to a charity and not me, I know, but it still stinks.

I am not making any decisions yet, but it is on the plate.  A DNS may be in my future.

Have you ever had a DNS or DNF? Have you ever DNS a charity fundraising race?

Punks Amuck – it must be summer in the suburbs

28 Jun

As soon as I typed out the title, I thought of my brother.  I do not mean this kind of punk…

The punks I am referring to are just high school teens out on Summer vacations and doing what most teens do, thinking of themselves and only themselves.  I know, I was a teen too.

Tuesday – Incident 1, The Pool – The pool was packed.  At our gym we have 3 lanes and typically max out at 2 people per lane.  So Marc and I waited and a half of a lane opened so I hopped in.  I was sharing a lane with a woman who didn’t want to get her hair wet (UGH public pools, am I right?), so as soon as I started swimming (the man before me was walking) which leads to splashing (heaven forbid) she got out of the pool and Marc jumped in.  In all, we waited 20 min to get this lane and I was pretty happy that I was sharing with him and not a stranger.  I don’t flip turn (I am not that cool or coordinated), so I pushed off the wall and this kid (he looked about 14) stepped out right in front of me.  I stood up and said hey, he apologized and moved on.  I figured he was just crossing my lane to get to an open lane.  He got out of the pool, so I didn’t think much of it.  He go back into the pool (little did I know) and I see a figure in the lane next to me that is not my husband.  WTF?  This kid jumped in our lane and just started swimming.  My hubby is a strong swimmer and just swam over this kid.  Shocked the kid, stood up and looked dumbfounded.  He said, “do you need to wait for a lane?”  Marc said, ” Yeah, I am swimming here.  Get out of the pool!”  Later talking to Marc, the kid thought he could out swim him and get out of his way.  Yeah, don’t tease the old man with the paddles.  He will get you every time.  To give the kid a break, he obviously didn’t know pool etiquette, but he also had his head up his a$$.

Wednesday – Incident 2, The Road – Mid-morning I hit the road for a short 20 mile bike ride.  During the week, you have a short window to get in a ride.  You have to wait until after morning traffic and if you get going too late, there are too many cars on the road and you end up spending most of the time at stop lights.  So I have from about 10-2 to ride, but I like to go right at 10 and get off the road by noon.  As I was riding down Antonio, in the bike lane, a kid passes me on the right (between me and the curb).  This is a huge No-No in the cycling world.  Cycling etiquette is very similar to how it is in a car.  He should have said, “on your left” and in turn I would have moved to the right, giving him room to pass me on the left and not go into traffic.  His way is very dangerous.  I had no idea he was there and could have moved toward the curb, if I did…it would have been bad.  So this pissed me off.  Plus, he was killing him self trying to pass me. So I  gave it a few gears and proceeded to pass him!  First, I said on your left (of course he couldn’t hear me because he had both of his ear buds in – which is illegal in CA) and then passed him on the left.  Jack ass then proceeds to use the lights to pass me.  This means when a light turns yellow you slow down early to avoid stopping.  If you don’t come to a complete stop and you can get going again more quickly when the light turns green.  I use the stop/start as a sprint work out.  So the little sh$t used the light to pass me and again on the right!  Okay, so I might have been hugging the line on purpose.  BUT if he would have said, “on your left” I would have moved.  No really…I would have! So this time when I passed him AGAIN, I screamed on your left and as I was passing him noticed the ear buds. I motioned for him to take it out. Obviously, he can’t hear me and wasn’t moving for me to pass him, which means I am passing him in traffic.  Again, NOT SAFE!  I am sure he saw this old lady and thought he could take me.  HA!  Nice try!  I kicked it up a gear and left him in my dust.  Good thing I turned off, because I am not sure how long this cat and mouse game would have gone on before I smacked him!  Unlike the kid at the pool, this kid KNEW what was right and wrong and just decided to ignore it.  Maybe he learned a lesson and will start riding with care.  Somehow, I doubt it.  He was cocky.

Don’t be a punk…read these…



So you want to buy a bike.

6 Jun

I am re-posting this post from last August.  It has a lot of great information and now that the weather is warming, many folks are thinking about getting into cycling.  I hope this help!


DISCLAIMER: I am not a cycling professional.  I have never worked in a bike shop or for a bike manufacturer.  I have never raced bikes for a professional team or have been sponsored by a team.  I am your average cycling enthusiast and fledgling triathlete.  So take my advice as such.

This should help you know the names of the components that I am referring to. This must be an older drawing, because your shifters will be with your brakes and not on your down tube.

At least once a month there will be a post on the Team Tough Chik Facebook page regarding purchasing a bike.  There are so many questions that I thought I would put my suggestions and experiences in one place.  First off, let me say how happy this makes me!  All of the interest in cycling (albeit via triathlon) makes me so excited for the future of women’s cycling!  And I love to talk bikes, so still feel free to contact me with questions!

Here are some things you should think about before you start your search. You need a budget, just like buying a car, once you get into the shop you might find that the sales guy (or gal, but most likely guy) will try and up sell you, stick to your budget.  What do you want to do with the bike?  Are you buying a bike so you can ride along with your kids?  Do you want to ride on trails and the road or are you wanting to get into cycling to train for a triathlon?

Today I am going to mainly talk about road bikes, but if you have questions regarding hybrids, commuters or mt. bikes, feel free to contact me.

Budget – You might experience a little sticker shock here, that is why a budget is so important.  From my experience and in my market, you will be hard-pressed to find a road bike for under $800.  Yes, it is a commitment.  So, if you aren’t sure cycling is for you, see if you can borrow a bike from a friend that is the same height as you.  If you are 5’2″ and you borrow you neighbors bike and she is 5’8″, no matter where you put the saddle it will be too big and you will hate it.  So give cycling a chance and find a bike that fits (foreshadowing).

Weight & Components – I get posed the question, “what is the difference between a $1500 bike and a $5000 bike?”  You will find that in bike racing, weight is a HUGE deal.  Your sales guy is going to talk about weight a lot and he is probably going to have you pick up a lot of bikes.  To be blunt…weight-savings of a pound or two to the recreational cyclist should not be a major factor when choosing your new bike.  Pro cyclists are elite athletes that have trained to the limits of their physical potential and any weight-savings that they can find are considered advantages in their profession.  As much as we all hate to admit it, the cheapest way to lighten our load is to lighten ours bodies (this is a touchy subject and you can read about that here, but I digress…)
The other major factor is component groups.  Component groups refer to the shifters, derailleur, brakes, etc.  You are paying for the overall quality of the components (expensive bearings, machined aluminum, carbon fiber, etc) on more expensive bikes.

Generally speaking, the lighter the bike, the more money you will spend.  The higher quality of the components, the more money you will spend.

Materials – Most enthusiast, road bikes under $2000 are made of aluminum, the more expensive bikes are usually carbon fiber. Carbon fiber provides both weight-savings and ride quality.  Do you need carbon?  Of course you don’t NEED carbon, most entry-level bikes are aluminum and you can compete and ride in any triathlon or group ride with an aluminum bike.  Most won’t know the difference, but your bike will be marginally heavier and less road-compliant (due to aluminum’s rigid characteristics, you will “feel” the road).  If you have the money to spend, then yes, go carbon.  If not, an aluminum bike with carbon fiber, front forks will do the job just fine.  My first bike was aluminum, most are, and don’t worry if you roll up the “A” group ride or you are racking your bike at your first tri. 99% of the time the gal next to you is thinking about her own ride or race and won’t notice the difference.

Ride – So now that you know what you can afford and what your money is going to get you, go ride a bike.  Test ride every bike in your price range!  If your last bike had a banana seat and no gears (that was me), then it will feel odd.  The position will not feel natural, so ride lots of bikes.  The more you test ride bikes, the more you will be able to notice the feel of the bike and not how much your butt hurts.

Fit – I also get asked about what bike or what brand you should look at.  My answer is always, disregard the brand (and the paint job) and ride the bike.  No matter what the make of model is, if the bike doesn’t fit, then it is not the bike for you.  Just like jeans, just because you ride a 54cm in one bike, doesn’t mean that you are a 54 in all bikes or you might find that the next manufacture use small, medium and large vs. the numeric size.  Each bike manufacturer has different geometry, meaning the length and angles of the frame will differ.

Women’s Specific – Do I need a women’s bike?  Again, test ride the bike.  Don’t walk in a bike shop with the preconceived notion that you need or don’t need a women’s bike.  Back in the day (like 5 years ago) most bike manufactures “shrinked it and pinked it”, but now they are getting better about designing for women’s bodies.  And again, take that with a grain of salt.  That just means that most women have short torsos and longer legs, so the geometry is designed to accommodate the different proportions.  Many women’s bikes will come with a women’s specific saddle and smaller handle bars.  You can very easily put a women’s saddle and smaller handle bars on any bike and can be negotiated with the purchase of the bike.  Yes, woman’s bikes are cuter.  But who cares how cute it is when it is sitting in the garage because it is too uncomfortable to ride.

Pre-owned – Not everyone has the money to buy new and in this economy, there are a lot of sweet bikes on craigslist or eBay.  If you are a new cyclist, I would still suggest you test ride several new entry-level bikes.  That way, when you go to ride the pre-owned bike, you know how it should feel.  Even better, if you have a buddy who is a bike dork…bring him or her.  Before you ride the used bike, know what size bike you should ride and how a bike that is your size should feel.  Again, fit is key!  I would also see if the seller will let you get the bike looked at by a bike mechanic to see if it is in good working order.

Splurge – If you have a few extra dollars, invest in a good saddle! The biggest complaint a new cyclist has is that his/her butt hurts (it isn’t really your butt, but we all know what I am talking about).  The bottom line is that if you are new to cycling, you will be uncomfortable at the beginning but stick with it and it will pass.  A good saddle and a good pair of shorts will help.  Women’s specific saddles are wider because a woman’s hips are wider than men’s.  The plusher the saddle doesn’t mean that it will be more comfortable.  See if you can test the saddles out or find out the return policy.  It make take a few saddles but it is so worth the effort.

Fit (again) – Once you buy your bike, the bike shop should offer a fit session where they adjust the handle bar height, the seat height and may even change the stem for the handle bar position.  The shop may not offer a fit session, so make sure you ask and if they charge for a fit session, try and negotiate with the price of the bike.

Pedals – There are flat pedals, cages and clip-less pedals.  Flat pedals are just that, a flat platform.  Cages are flat pedals with a plastic “cage” that slips over your shoe and held down by straps.  Clip-less pedals are pedal and cleat systems where a cleat it attached to the bottom of a cycling shoe and the cleat locks into the pedal. Cages and clip-less pedals allow you to push and pull on the pedal giving you twice the power.  Many folks are scared to clip in.  But trust me, it is easier to get your foot out of a clip-less pedal than to get it out of a cage.  There are many different type of pedal systems on the market, so do yourself a favor and just start with clip-less pedals.  You will fall, it will be slow mo and it will hurt your pride more than your body.  It happens to EVERYONE, just get it over and move on.  Once you get use to the clip-less pedals, you will never go back.

Basically, the conclusion is this…
·        Stick to a budget.  It’s really, and I mean REALLY easy to spend thousands on a bike and all the gear that comes along with the sport.  Remember, pedals, shorts, helmet, gloves, etc are all extra costs that you should figure into the total purchase price of what will surely become your new, best friend.

·        Determine how you want to ride (to the coffee shop with the kids, or to the state line with the hammerheads).  This will help focus your shopping experience.

·        Don’t worry so much about the weight of the bike. Most bikes in a category within a similar price range will be within a few pounds of one another.

·        Test ride, test ride, test ride.  Test different bikes.  Test different saddles.  Test different pedals.  It’s all about how you feel on the bike.  If the bike you purchase instills confidence and a relative comfort, you will continue to ride and, eventually become totally addicted to the experience of the wind through your helmet and whoosh of your bike’s drive train cutting through the morning air…

Hopefully I’ve provided a little more information that might help inspire more of us Tough Chiks to start riding.  After all of this talk about bikes, it’s about time for me to saddle up…I’m going for a ride!

Meet Team Tough Chik Memebers – Charene, Darcy and Jessica!

19 Feb


Name: Charene

Location: El Dorado Hills, CA

Sport of Choice: Running and Taekwondo

2013 Race Plans: Shooting for one half marathon per month and a full marathon in March 2013.

What makes you a Tough Chik: I’m always striving to be my best. Whether running a race, practicing taekwondo or being a wife and mother. I feel like a strong woman and can tackle any type of adversity or challenge that is put before me.

If you had a super power, what would it be? Speed!! I’ve love to have speed and strength like superman! (or superwoman) I’m not the fastest of the bunch, but would love to be!

Fun Fact: I’m extremely shy. I grew up shy and push myself every day to break out of the shell. Running races and practicing Taekwondo make me feel empowered and strong.

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Name: Darcy

Location: Houston, TX

Sport of Choice: Running

2013 Race Plans: Color Me Rad (Mar 2013); Electric Run; attempt at least one 5k a month

What makes you a Tough Chik: Until last summer, I thought I never would, I never could run. Ever. But with a lot of support and hard work, I’m running 5K races. I do this while still be 50+ lbs overweight. And working full time in a public service job. And being a mom to a precocious and amazing Kindergartner girl. And married to a supportive attorney/Navy reservist/amateur filmmaker husband.

And while wearing a Wonder Woman costume.

If you had a super power, what would it be? Control time. I never seem to have enough. And run faster.

Fun Fact: I’m a public librarian who specializes in fiction and comic books. I also knit and crochet; amigurumi (little toys) is a specialty.

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Name: Jessica

Location: part time Sacramento, CA; part time Dubai, UAE

Sport of Choice: triathlon, mtn biking, running

2013 Race Plans: I haven’t signed up for anything yet, but planning on Sea Otter Classic, hopefully two 70.3’s, an Xterra and a Ragnar Relay.

What makes you a Tough Chik: I love a good challenge and doing new things (on my athletic bucket list are a ultra-marathon and a 10km swim).  Once I have my mind made up to do something, it WILL get done and don’t tell me I can’t do it!

If you had a super power, what would it be? I think I’d like to be a ghost.

Fun Fact: I hate heights, spiders (or insects in general) and when I get really mad, I hyperventilate!

IM TX Week 11 Recap – FAIL

18 Feb


Swim: 1700 yds

Run: 0 miles (3.07 miles Elliptical)

Cycle: 41.59 miles

6 workouts scheduled – 3.5 completed, time – 3:46

As soon as my bum bum started to feel better I was hit with a cold!  Talk about kicking a girl while she is down!  My mom thinks the cold is a blessing, forcing me to let my body heal from the wreck.  Isn’t that such a MOM thing to say?

Swim: I only swam once, pre-cold and it was a little uncomfortable with the hip.  I couldn’t kick without discomfort so I used the buoy for half of the swim and cut out the sprints.  I felt weak, that was probably due to this nasty cold bug lurking!

Run: I didn’t run at all or even attempt to run.  The impact on my hip/bum is too much right now.  I did do the elliptical once in order to compensate a little for the run work outs, but I am really too sick to get any real training in.  I had to go to the gym to do the elliptical and I really didn’t want to offend anyone by being next to a sick lady.  So I put my “healthy” face on and didn’t cough once! (I was so proud)  And I wiped everything down, I didn’t want to be THAT girl.

Bike:  This is the only arena where I am somewhat on target.  I was able to get on the trainer twice this week with little discomfort using light resistance.  I did have to skip the sprint and hill work during these sessions.

I am still sick and I am NOT happy.  Good thing my husband is out of town, because I am GRUMPY!  Not a fun gal to be around, for sure.  I am talking today off as my week 12 rest day, with hopes that I can at least attempt all the work outs this week.  I might not be able to preform all the drills and work out at the PRO level, but at least get something done!  Everyone keeps telling me that I am fine and I have plenty of time, but it doesn’t feel that way.  Fingers crossed that week 12 will be healthier!