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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!!!

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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.

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……

Team Training vs Club 100 Ride July 19, 2010

Posted by Pam in Training Rides.
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Deciding what to do when it comes down to scheduling a team training ride versus a ride with other Club 100 members is a tough one.  I bit the bullet this weekend…LITERALLY…and scheduled both.  Not being an avid cyclist this was not an easy decision as I have yet to do back to back days of riding this season.  Now, 20 and 26 miles may not seem like a lot to some people, but I could really feel it the second day.  All of this was compounded by the fact that just Thursday I was wafting away in la-la land to the sound of a drill as a wayward tooth was “canalled” (yes, I’m sure that’s a word). 

Saturday’s event with the Club 100 was wonderful.  We had quite a few riders show up for about a 26 mile ride depending on who you asked.  This route had me reminiscing about the former Bike to the Beach Day 2 route – flat and windy – I could almost smell the ocean!

As a "newbie" - Start of my first MS ride ever - 2001

  We had wonderful support by the Club 100 Committee and the MS Staff complete with Starbucks, great signage, rest stops and the illustrious BikeMS Toyota truck as SAG.  If you’re not part of the Club 100 now, I encourage all to make it a priority for this coming year.  All you have to do is be one of the Top 100 fundraisers and you’re in!  Of course, those last few days waiting for the final tally can be a nailbiter and tends to take on characteristics of waiting for an online auction to end to declare you the WINNER!  This year I proudly wear #95.  🙂

Feeling guilty for ditching my team on Saturday to be coffee’d and taco’d (similar to wining and dining) by Club 100, I scheduled a Sunday “short” ride for the team.  In anticipation of some “newbies” showing up I was really hoping for a 10 miler.  Alas, the newbies seem to be in hiding this year and the good riders showed up, so we were up for a 20 mile ride and my legs really felt it…and so did my tooth!  Despite it all, we had a great ride with wonderful company and a nice breakfast and time for socializing afterwards. 

…..still wondering where all the newbies are!  They should be here by now….