Advice Received: Spinning my wheels

Yesterday I moaned heavily about missing a training day due to rain, and instead I went to spin class. As we discussed spin class is just not my thing.

Today the rain has passed and I celebrated by heading outside for a great day!

Now, after a 1.8 mile ride I’m driving an hour back home.

It’s 36 degrees with a 16 mph headwind and 89% humidity. I’ve been informed that the feels like temperature is 26 degrees. Let’s be honest, mother nature just schooled me big time! Living in Texas, I’m not appropriately prepared for these conditions no matter what my pride says.

So I’ve found my motivation to go back to spin class.

Advice asked, advice received. Thanks mother nature. It’s just what I needed.

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ALC 2018: Get on your bike

AIDS/LifeCycle, 2018: in just 5 months I will be riding 545 miles from San Fransisco to LA. And it is going to ROCK!

But, right now it feels a little daunting to start training again. I’ve been doing a few rides here and there, but now is the time to get serious and get the training plan together!

  • Step 1. Get on your bike! I had planned for a ride today, but was rained out and the ride was cancelled.
  • Step 2. Eventually you’re going to have to ride in the rain. But today was not that day.

So here is to remembering beautiful weather back in December and fingers crossed for better weather tomorrow.

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Part 4. Bike buying tips – Where should I buy my bike?

On your bike buying journey, you may get tired and frustrated and be tempted to just say, “I’ll take this one” simply because that means the process is over. But trust me when I say, take your time and find the right bike, it will make all the difference!

You have multiple options of where to buy a bike, and only you can know what makes sense for your situation. But I’d like to share with you a few thoughts and suggestions before you spend your hard-earned dollars.

Options for buying a brand-spanking new bike: local bike shop vs. big-box-store / huge online retailer. Full disclosure, I am completely biased toward shopping at your local bike shop.

  1. Buying a bike from a local bike shop: Bike shops are full of people who are passionate about bikes and want you have a great experience!. You’ll get one on one attention and the opportunity to ask an expert all your questions and get detailed guidance.
    • Buying from a local shop also helps you develop a relationship with the folks at the shop. Your local bike shop is a wonderful resource for support, information, they often host local rides, can they tell you about local trails to check out, and all other things bike related!
    • This relationship will come in handy as you may utilize the shop’s maintenance services, or perhaps you’ll order parts through them if you are a do-it-yourself kinda person.
    • Personally, I love going to my bike shop! My shop is an important part of my biking community; they know me, my bike, and respond to my specific needs! It doesn’t get much better than that.
  2. Buying a bike in a big box store / huge online retailer: I mean, it is an option…
    • It’s convenient (until you have to ask someone a question).
    • It may be a little less expensive but this is mostly due to the brands that are carried. These brands are commonly less expensive because they are made with cheaper materials, or with craftsmanship that isn’t as concerned with quality. There is a market for this, but if you identified with any of these bike riding goals, these big-box-store bikes probably aren’t the right bikes for you.

Buying a New-to-Me bike (a used bike):

If you’re buying a used bike, start with a little research to make sure you’re getting the best value for your money.

You already know what type of bike you want, and you know what type of material/metal and the component group that sounds best for your budget, and the approximate size of bike you need. Your next step is to do some pricing research. Use a site like bicyclebluebook.com to look up a bike’s proposed value, then see which used bike offers look reasonable.

  1. Buying a used bike on consignment from your local bike shop: Not all bike shops may offer this great option, but it’s worth asking about if you’re looking to buy a used bike. As a broad example, a bike shop could sell a used bike on consignment from another personal seller, taking a percentage of the sales as a commission. In return, the bike shop will:
    • help validate the quality of the bike (look for major mechanical issues, and also look for major red flags like a defaced serial number which could indicate that the bike was stolen).
    • Service the bike so it’s ready to roll as soon as it is purchased.
    • Possibly offer a reasonable return policy if you end up needing to return the bike.
    • This may be more expensive than buying directly from a seller, but the upside may be worth it!
  1. Buying a used bike on Craigslist (or any other online exchange/sales platform): Full disclosure: I am a risk averse person and therefore am not a big fan of this option and would rather work through a local bike shop. But Craigslist can be a cost-effective option too, so here are some things to keep in mind while shopping Craigslist for your next bike.
    • Know that if you price range is less than a couple hundred dollars, you’re probably going to be buying a used box-store bike. These aren’t high quality to begin with, and it’s possible that this was a bike that sat outside in the elements for the past few years.
    • Was the bike stolen? Ask for the sellers name/information and ask about the serial number on the bike. If there is hesitancy or a scratched out serial number the odds are high that this is a stolen bike and you should move on.
    • Was the bike in a big crash before? In the last post we talked about one of the pitfalls of carbon fiber bikes. If this is a carbon bike, has it been in a crash resulting in fissures/cracks? I don’t want you to get a bike that literally falls apart while you’re riding it.
    • What kind of condition is the bike in? Visible rust? Tires are flat or have cracks in the rubber? These are things that will need to be replaced so keep in mind the cost of fixing the bike in addition to the selling price.

All in all, you have options and feel free to research bikes for yourself. A great way to learn about bikes is to read about them and then go try them out on a test ride! Only you get to decide what is right for you!

Next up in our Getting Started Series: What is a bike fit, and why do I need one?

Cheeky’s first 545! Riding my bicycle from San Fransisco to Los Angeles in the AIDS/LifeCycle

Do you remember June 3rd, 2007?

I do. It was the first year I volunteered for the AIDS/LifeCycle. I stood in the parking lot on a chilly San Francisco morning and watched rider after rider kickoff for a 7 day, 545 mile trek over the hills and valleys of California to ride to LA. All this to raise money to support the fight against AIDS. I thought, “These people are nuts! 545 miles is SO FAR.” And I immediately put it on my bucket list.

Since then I have moved away from California, but I had never forgotten the “Ride to End AIDS“. So, this past June, 10 years from that fateful day, I got on my bike at the San Francisco Cow Palace and started pedaling down the Golden state to raise funds that support the life-saving services offered by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

This ride, and the journey up to it, changed me for the better.

 

AIDS LifeCycle 2017 GarminMap
Cheeky’s Ride down the Golden State, AIDS/LifeCycle 2017

It changed me physically

I trained for 8 months gradually adding mileage and hills to my riding regiment. I gained a lot of muscle, came to feel healthier than I’ve felt since my days as a kid, and I earned the most ridiculous tan line on my thighs you’ve ever seen. My bike shorts are about 3 or 4 inches longer than my normal shorts, so I’ve gotten to show off that tan line a lot!

I got stronger, I became faster and there were days where I felt like a well-oiled machine racing up steep hills (then stopping for pie afterward)!

Top of No-Name hill
Cheeky at the top of no-name hill. I gave it plenty of colorful names.

It changed me mentally

There were so many good days! I saw beautiful scenery during the Winter, Spring and Summer. I came to appreciate how amazing a bit of shade feels from a passing cloud, and how refreshing a few drops of water from a rogue sprinkler feels on the hottest of days. These reminders helped revive my soul.

While riding my bicycle I got to see so much of my state that I would not have likely visited otherwise. Small towns, open fields and pastures. Places that cars see as a means to an end. But I got to really see these places, to smell the sweet scent of wildflowers on the breeze, and talk to dozens of cows as I coasted by. It was wonderful to let my mind quiet, to hear the gentle hum of my bicycle tire gliding across the road, and the birds chirping in the leaves overhead; a freedom that only two wheels can offer!

Spring has sprung!
Wild flowers blooming on the side of a country road.

But there were long days too.  Sometimes it would require a 1.5 hour drive to our training ride destination, 6 hours of active riding (like I said, I’m still not the fastest rider, but I keep moving!) plus more time for breaks and rest, plus another 1.5 hour car trip home. It was hard to get up at 4:30 in the morning for those training rides, but I had the support of my friends and loved ones so I got out of bed.

And there were hard days. When I first started riding again it was hard to sit on the saddle, because it is a hard saddle! And it was even harder to get back in the saddle the next day! Ouch Ouch Ouch! But the pain went away, and I got stronger.

But the hardest was my very last training weekend in May, 2 weeks before the big ride. I expected to ride at least 150 miles over Saturday and Sunday, one last training push before my bicycle was shipped to California. I had just come off a rest weekend and knew that if I could bust out this 80 and 70 mile day, I would be totally successful on those California hills! But it didn’t work out that way. Instead I eked out a mushy 40 miles that Saturday, and a painfully slow 30 miles on Sunday which felt even worse. I. Was. Devastated! I was supposed to be at my prime, but that was it, training was done. My confidence was absolutely shot. How was I possibly going to make it the 109 miles required on the Day 2 route?!

I got on the plane anyway. I went to California and I set my mind to do my best. I promised myself would go in my sous vide style: low and slow. After all, it’s a ride, not a race. And so I set off and kept pedaling, and pedaling, and pedaling. And I rode 109 miles on day 2!

The hard days have shown me how much I am capable of, even if it is a slow journey.

Most unexpected thing that happened: It changed my heart

The best part of my experience, over and over again I got to see the best of humanity. I was continually overwhelmed by the generosity of friends, family, and even strangers along the way.

People gave their support in so many ways: some were able to contribute to my fundraising goals, a few committed time and knowledge to help coach me, others volunteered to support training rides, and they were all joyous cheerleaders who encouraged me all through my training. There were even people came to cheer for all 2200 riders, every day, in big cities and in tiny towns during the AIDS/LifeCycle. People showed up with handmade signs, some waved and many yelled thank you for riding!

All of these people are the best of humanity. I feel so lucky and humbled to get to see these examples of people helping and supporting each other. We are all part of the AIDS/LifeCycle Love Bubble! And I can’t wait to do it all again in 2018!

Has riding changed you for the better? Share your story in the comments below!

Cheeky Rides with a Purpose – World AIDS Day

ALC_WorldAidsDay_Web_20178Today is World AIDS Day.  

Today I am asking for your help.

  • Help end the isolation and stigma of those who live with HIV.
  • Help increase the resources available for education, prevention and care.
  • Help end the transmission of HIV.

In June of this year I rode my bicycle 545 miles as part of the 7-day cycling event called the  AIDS/LifeCycle. It was one of the most impactful experiences I’ve ever had. It was physically challenging, mentally exhausting, and at times heartbreaking. But it was always inspiring!

Over this past year together we raised $14,333.98 to help those living with HIV and AIDS. That is INCREDIBLE! Throughout my entire AIDS/Lifecycle experience I was continually humbled by your support, kindness and generosity. And something else happened that I didn’t necessarily expect. Over and over again, so many of you shared your memories and stories about your friends and family who died from AIDS. I will always be grateful that you shared this part of your life with me.

One story, of many, that comes to mind occurred in April. While at a friend’s BBQ I talking about the upcoming ride and a man my near my age, someone who I had only met in passing, shared with me a story about his lifelong friend from who died of AIDS in college. He said “It’s 2017. I can’t believe this stupid disease is still here.” 

I couldn’t agree more. So I have signed up to ride 545 miles again in 2018, for the 25th anniversary of the AIDS/Lifecycle. I will ride with the stories and memories you’ve shared with me, and I will ride to honor all of those people who have died from AIDS.

My goal is to raise $10,000 to help fund the life-saving services offered by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. But I can’t do it alone, so I’m asking for your help again.

$10,000 can make a HUGE difference! The services provided as a result of this event mean the world to those who receive them, and your support means the world to me!

Together, we can help end this stupid disease.

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The Cheeky Cyclist starts rolling!

Every Monday morning in the office when I’m heating up my oatmeal I’m asked, “What did you get up to this weekend?” Before I can respond, my co-workers add, “You went for a ride, right?”

Now that the weather is finally cooling off I’m out on my bike a lot more. It may not be a big ride, but I love getting out and seeing the outdoors from my saddle. My typical ride at the moment is about 30 miles on a Saturday or Sunday (weekend cyclist extraordinaire!) and it’s the highlight of my weekend, even when it’s hard (or really hard, or cold, or windy, or any other unpleasant descriptor).

So why do I love it? When I’m on my bike, I feel free! I love hearing the road and my tires connecting. I love the smells; the pine trees outside, someone cooking dinner, even the terrible smells (skunks fit this category nicely) because it reminds me what life is like outside my comfort zone. I love how empowering it is to know that I can transport myself to new locations just with my bike and my legs.  And I want everyone to experience this joy!

I believe every person should get to feel this freedom. And it doesn’t matter if we start large or small, weekend riders or seasoned experts, as long as we keep going.

I remember picking up my bike again after a long hiatus just two years ago and I could barely make it 3 loops around the flattest section of paved roads in town. Each loop was just a mile and I was huffing, puffing and nearly collapsed as I slogged through the last turn. It was humiliating! What happened to my sweet youth that let me roll freely without breaking a sweat? But I went back the next weekend. This time I left my pride at home and geared up with my snail themed socks (if you can’t be good, at least you can look good) and made it 6 loops. Slow and steady progress! We all have to start somewhere, the trick is to just start! And I kept at it, little by little, mile by mile. This past June I rode 545 miles from San Francisco to LA in a charity bicycle ride called the AIDS/Lifecycle. IT WAS AMAZING! And now, I’ve signed up to do it again in 2018!

I’ll be tracking my training and progress here, so check back for updates. In the meantime, I would love to hear from you – why do you ride?