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Careful out there…it’s hot! August 23, 2010

Posted by Pam in Leadership, Training Rides.
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Not to be confused with a particular socialite/heiress’s catch phrase, “it’s hot” is meant here in the literal sense.  Training rides in August are typically the hottest rides and this August in San Antonio with temps at or near 100 is no exception.  Dehydration is on most riders’ minds at this time, but there is also something else to think about. 

I’ve lost count of how many days it’s been since we’ve seen rain, but it’s been a LONG time.  As the days get hotter and the rain is still out of sight, nice big cracks in the roads start to appear and open up almost right before our eyes.  These “tire grabbers” pose a particular danger to cyclists as they typically occur on the shoulders where we ride and are just wide enough to put an abrupt stop to an otherwise really nice pace.  They’re even harder to see if a previous attempt has been made to patch/tar them up.

Tire Grabber

Staring down at these gaping holes, I’m reminded of a particular training ride last year.  Our team had ventured up on the tail end of another team’s training ride only to find one of their riders had in fact fallen (and fall indeed!) victim to one of the treacherous tire grabbers.  Being one of the slower riders, she was at the back of her team.  All others out of sight.  The crack in the road grabbed her tire, bent the wheel and sent her flying head over heels onto the pavement.  Shaken up and bleeding we stopped to offer help.  This was a wake up call to us on the importance of having a cell phone, insurance information, a riding partner and if not, PHONE NUMBERS of those you’re riding with!  She had none of these.  Thankfully, her fall didn’t warrant a call to 911, but I did happen to see her several weeks later and learned she wound up going to ER on her own for some stitches.

Thankfully, we had a particularly fast rider with us who sped ahead to catch one of her teammates and inform them of her fate while a couple others helped clean her up and kept her company.  She was determined to ride back to her starting point – fueled purely by adrenaline from the crash, of course - but the bent and flat tire put an end to that idea.  She was in no shape to be riding anyway.  Before long her teammate came back to help her get a ride back to her car and we were freed to continue our ride.  However, I can’t imagine her fate had we not been right behind her.

SO!  Safety tips to point out:

  • Ride with a buddy system
  • Make sure someone always looks out for the last rider
  • Encourage all to have a cell phone, id, insurance
  • SHARE PHONE NUMBERS!!!
  • And watch out for those road hazards that can sneak up on ya’ at any given moment

"It's hot"

The slower riders join the team training rides not only because it’s fun, but because there is safety in numbers, for the confidence that they’re not alone and knowing that someone will be there to help if needed.  If your team welcomes the newbies and/or riders of all skill levels, make sure they are all taken care of and that help is in fact available.  Remind everyone to be careful out there…it’s hot!  :)

ps:  HUGE shout out to all the team captains/ride leaders over the past years that have made sure I returned from my rides safe and sound!!!

De-ter-mi-na-tion August 17, 2010

Posted by Pam in MS, Training Rides.
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Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough. -Og Mandino

Training rides can be a tricky thing.  There are so many variables to having a good ride and you just never know from one training ride to the next what will happen.  You don’t know if you’ll wake up feeling strong or a bit out of it.  You don’t know what the weather will be like.  Sure, you can monitor the weather, but you can’t predict when a stray thundershower will pop up or how hot the sun will REALLY feel or when that dreaded headwind will wake up right when you’re on your last reserves.  You don’t know how many of your team will show up.  Flat tires are waiting at each and every turn, or when you least need them…at the bottom of a hill…on the UPside.  Chains can go haywire.  Cables can snap.  You just never know…but determination drives you to make the best of it and to try, try again.

Multiple sclerosis can be a tricky thing.  There are so many variables to having a good day and you just never know from one morning to the next what will happen.  You don’t know if you’ll wake up feeling strong or even if you’ll be able to move.  You don’t know how hot the sun will REALLY feel or how hot it will be even out of the sun.  You don’t know how many symptoms will show up.  Footdrop is waiting at each and every turn, or when you least need it…your busiest day of needing to be mobile.  Vision can go haywire.  Nerves can snap.  You just never know…but determination drives you to make the best of it and to try, try again.

Determination is also what drives us to continue to train, ride and fundraise all to fight MS and its tricky symptoms.

mo-ti-va-tion August 6, 2010

Posted by Pam in Leadership.
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I’ve been reflecting on what motivates people to do certain things.  How can I get them motivated to join the team, come out to training rides, raise funds, get more involved, etc, etc, etc.?

Over the 10 years of riding in the BikeMS (MS150 not so long ago), I’ve been motivated by various things.  The personal challenge was my very first motivator.  I was going through a rough time and not only needed the distraction, but the feeling of accomplishment…the self esteem booster.  I was on the inward track focusing solely on my own personal experience.  I was out there training…a lot!  After not having been on a bike since high school years, I needed that training!  My first attempt took me all of 2 blocks, had me huffing and puffing and sitting on the curb to catch my breath before taking the walk of shame back to the car.  Yes, I said WALK!  There was no way I was going to get back on that bike at that time or that day or even that week for that matter!  Before long though I was up to a mile, then 5 miles, then after a couple of sizing adjustments to my bike, 10 miles and it was on after that.

The next few years, my motivation stemmed from raising enough funds to win a prize.  Nothing major, but nice tokens as well as bike shop certificates to keep my tubes well supplied and upgrade my hydration equipment and some other nice upgrades along the way.  I definitely wasn’t as motivated to train.  Saturday mornings were met with one too many hits of the Snooze button and then “oops!  Missed the ride start! Oh well…zzzzzzzzzzzz.”  Weekday evening rides were met with successful convincing that it was way too hot outside or too rainy or the cool and dry movie theater was just calling my name.  More fundraising had been done so mission accomplished!  I also gained quite a bit more awareness of the disease and found more and more people with MS connections.

These past few years have been the most glorious, if you will.  I was thrust into the Team Captain role in 2008.  Yes, thrust…or pushed, shoved, tricked, suckered…take your pick.  However, it was the right thing at the right time.  My focus turned outward.  My motivation was not only towards the team’s needs, but also towards the MS cause as well.  Not only did I attend training rides, but I actually had to plan them and encourage others to come out and fundraise and raise awareness.  

These past few years have led me down a different path indeed.  One of service and commitment…being a Club 100 member for 2 years helped as well as serving as a committee member and not to mention all of the wonderful and dynamic people I’ve met along the way…some involved with the cause and some with the disease and some are both.  There’s a greater sense of community…of belonging.

So now I’m back to reflecting on what motivates others.  For some it may be the personal achievement, others the prizes and yet, others may be at a higher level of motivation…that of providing a service.  Hopefully, all feel welcomed and appreciated.  Now to tap into all of those different levels of motivation to create a successful team.  Maybe I should just make them ALL Team Captains…it worked for me!

Cycling with Style July 30, 2010

Posted by Pam in Training Rides.
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Audrey Hepburn….can’t get any more stylish than that.  She was such an icon – so glamorous – so graceful – so gracious.  When I’m on a training ride, I envision that I have this same style and panache.  Gracefully pedalling up and over the hills as if they weren’t even there.  Hair tucked neatly away under a long flowing scarf that billows behind me as I ride.  Effortlessly - painlessly – breathing normally.

Well, such is the dream.  I have no such glamour as I mount my bike wearing lycra, funny socks and shoes, water hydration system, gloves (of the protective sort rather than the dainty elegant sort) and not to mention the helmet.  I don’t recall EVER seeing any pictures of Audrey with a helmet and definitely NONE of the items I’ve just mentioned.

As for the ride itself, there is MUCH effort. Some of those routes are just downright painful, but the downhills usually make it all worthwhile.  There is no glamour to my posture or my heavy breathing.  Sometimes the panting is so hard I feel as if a huge dog is chasing me down, but then I catch my snap and remember that it’s only my own huffing and puffing.  I don’t “glisten” as I exert myself…it’s a full blown out sweat…very un-Audrey-like. 

Riding time over and I get back to the starting point to remove the aforementioned “gear”.  Forget about neatly tucked hair under a scarf, it’s actually molded in the shape of the helmet itself!  No glamour there.  I’m a mess for sure, but I’ll be back again and again and again.  Why?  Because my team depends on me to be there and to be in the training trenches right alongside them.  Not only for the team but for all of those with MS that we’re riding for…riding to raise money to fight MS; to provide assistance programs; to educate and raise awareness; to motivate others to donate to the cause; to inspire others to join us. 

We, as a team, may not be a pretty or glamorous sight to behold, but as long as we’re training with these intentions at heart, we’ll be CYCLING WITH STYLE……

4 out of 5 Grandma’s are Cyclist Friendly July 23, 2010

Posted by Pam in Training Rides.
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I’m the first to admit that I’m not an avid cyclist.  As soon as the 2nd day of BikeMS is over, my bike typically takes a hiatus on the hook in the garage and doesn’t come back out until it’s BikeMS season again.  I’m amazed and intrigued by the passion of those that continue to cycle year round and just for the sheer joy of it rather than for any particular event. 

Since I’m not out on the road all the time, it was quite a shock to me the first time I was honked at and yelled at by motorists to get off the street and stay off the street, however, in MUCH more colorful words.  Here I was out doing something to prepare me for an event that was geared towards raising money for a great cause, the MS Movement, and I was being cussed out.  To this day I still don’t understand that mentality.  I know that some cyclists can be unpredictable, do not follow the cycling rules and can be quite aggressive, but the same is true for some motorists as well as motorcyclists.  I am all three…granted not at the same time, of course…so I can see the varying perspectives from all points of view.  If everyone followed the rules, then we’d all live peacefully in harmony with each other…lol…perhaps, but it’s worth a shot.

My thoughts on this topic came about from a rather amusing event that occurred on a team training ride last Sunday.  Sunday rides are typically a good one without a lot of cars on the roads…UNLESS, you’re on a route that leads to church.  One of my teammates found herself with a flat, on a country road, with tall grass as a shoulder.  Not much room to move all the way over, but we did the best we could.  This just so happened to be the time that traffic on this lonely country road revved up as there was a church about a mile away from us.  The flat changing ritual commenced and I posted as lookout for cars.  The first to approach us was an elderly lady, probably on her way to church.  However, she did not take kindly to having to slow down and wait for cars to pass before driving around us.  This was readily apparent by the movement of her mouth and the hand flailing gestures she made in our direction.  Would she have reacted differently if she had known we were only out there preparing for a charity ride?  If we had big banners on us saying “We’re riding to fight Multiple Sclerosis”, would that have made a difference?  Probably not.

Intrigued by these thoughts, I decided to take note of the drivers’ reactions as they passed us.  Four more cars passed until the tire changing event was complete.  All four cars were driven by elderly ladies.  Each one of those ladies smiled warmly at us and gave a friendly wave.  It was heart warming to see, especially after the first driver’s reaction.  They didn’t know the reason we were out there either, but should it have mattered?  We certainly wouldn’t have yelled at them if they had a flat tire and blocked our cycling route.  Peace and harmony, peace and harmony…

I guess the take away thought from this is, Team Captains, make sure your riders know the rules of the road.  If they are pretty new to cycling, give them a heads up on the types of motorists they may come across and tips on how to handle them.  The moral of my Sunday morning ride story?  4 out of 5 grandmas are cyclist friendly….pass it on :)

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