Trek Women
February 29, 2008

Leapin' learning opportunities...

Flat_1Urban living has its benefits -- storage is not one of them. So, my bedroom has turned into a bike shop. I’m getting ready for work today and I see Shady, that tart, has a flat tire.

My internal devil voice (you remember her, the one that taunts me to consume peanut m&m’s) says in a mocking tone, “Looks like you’ve got a learning opportunity on your hands.” It’s true. I need to learn to fix my own flats. But does it have to be right now?

Learning opportunities cross our paths every day, whether we like it or not. Today’s a “not.” Yesterday morning was a “not” when I was too lazy to tramp out in my gnome PJs to feed the parking meter when I was running 15 minutes late and now I owe DC $25. Laziness costs -– duly noted (also, I can’t blame the Sign anymore, rats).

But some life lessons, however hard-won they may be, are beyond price. I believe they make me stronger and more resilient, empowered, confident, caring and on and on. I’m not the same person I was nearly three years ago when I made the big leap to get healthy. I thought I was learning how to lose weight so that I could wear smaller pants. But along the way, I seem to have learned how to have bigger hopes and dreams for myself.

I may not always get to pick when “opportunity” strikes; but, I do get to choose what I do about it. Learning to fix Shady’s flat myself is a little thing.  But someday, I bet that skill is going to come in handy out on the trail or during a race. Who knows what other life lessons are going to pay off in the future.

P.S. Happy birthday, if it’s your birthday today. I have always thought it must be pretty cool to have your birthday on leap year day, like Pirates of Penzance.

February 27, 2008

Not gonna McFatten me...

BurritoHave you heard about this… tomorrow and Friday, McDonald’s is giving away free McSkillet Burritos with the purchase of a medium or large drink. The company said it expects to give away one million burritos each day. Curious, I went to the McDonald’s web site to check out the nutritional content of the scrambled egg, sausage, potato, cheese, pepper and salsa McBreakfast food. Turns out, each little burrito contains 570 calories and 30 grams of fat -- equaling 46% of your daily recommended allowance for fat. If I’ve got my math right, that means that the Golden Arches are giving away 120,000 pounds of fat in day two days. Viva Mickey Dees.

Before you start winging virtual french fries at me, I get that McD’s is a business with products to sell us and that we have the right to chew-se. I also believe in “all things in moderation.” So what’s the harm in one breakfast burrito, it’s not like it’s a bag of crack? But, with all the statistics today about adult and childhood obesity rates skyrocketing, maybe my problem is that McD’s nationwide sampling event is intended to get America hooked on a flavor. The wrapper doesn’t come with a warning food label.

Is the McSkillet good grub? You decide.

NOTE: McDonald’s issued its press release about the give away yesterday. Also yesterday, shares of McDonald's added 76 cents to $56.81 in afternoon trading. Something got fatter. Okay, I'll come off my whole-grain cereal box now.

5 pm UPDATE: Math and poor chart reading skills foil me again. The McSkillet Burrito with Sausage has 36 grams of fat, 56% of daily fat allowance -- totalling a 158,000 pound fat give away. Interesting factoid: the McSkillet has more fat than a Big Mac (29 grams).

February 25, 2008

The shady lady arrives...

Shady_lady Yesterday, I made a trip to see my friends at Revolution Cycles in Rockville, MD. I had gotten a call that my burley girl (as opposed to girly girl) was ready. She’s not new; but, she’s new to me – a sweet Trek Fuel Ex7 mountain bike.

Maybe I should call her the shady lady because she’s been around the block a few times as one of Ross Rushin’s demo bikes on last summer’s Trek Fit for Women Tour. To make room for the 2008 models on the Tour now, I was excited to be able to buy a Fuel from Trek. I’ve had this crazy notion to try an XTERRA triathlon, but I was missing one critical element, a mountain bike. Now she’s mine and I have no excuse. Gulp.

I’ve mountain-biked exactly twice in my life. The first was with Ross when I tested the Ex7 in the Blue Ridge Mountains last August. (Hey, shady might even be that same bike!) The second was with my guys and we were derailed by a flat tire incident. Needless to say, I’ve got some learning to do before competition time and I’m looking forward to it.

Despite the chilly temperature yesterday afternoon, I just had to go for a spin on my new-to-me ride. I started with my Oslo socks (they work!!) and layered on other warm gear, got down the street, and realized I had no clue where to test her out. I’m surrounded by city. I ended up biking to the National Mall where there’s a gravel path from the Capitol all the way to the Lincoln Memorial. So it wasn’t single track; but, I did have to dodge tourists and slugging up Capitol Hill was definitely a bigger challenge on shady than my WSD 5000 road bike. Plus, it felt awesome to do a real ride outside for the first time in months even though it took me a good while to defrost afterwards. I can’t wait for Spring to get here already. Shady and I need to get better acquainted.

February 22, 2008

I am victorious...

Sign_free I walked out of my house on this sleet-y, grizzly DC morning and noticed something. Technically, I not noticed something. The Sign, my vile nemesis, is gone. Vanquished forever! The year-long battle for street supremacy is over!! Adios eyesore, go crush cars in some other neighborhood. We got a parking space back. I would have done a victory boogie; but the sidewalks were icy and wouldn’t that be just the parting shot the Sign wanted -– me, wiping out, breaking a hip.

My morning got even better. The hotties from hottingham took my spin class AND I’m wearing a pair of jeans that I haven’t worn in months. In fact, I’m feeling like a little hottie myself today. I may do a happy boogie afterall.

1:15 pm UPDATE: Man alive, today's a good day. Just got a care package from Trek with a pair of Oslo Extreme Weather Cycling socks, Meltdown glove liners, and some other treats to try. Okay, I'm ready for the guy to show up at my door with the check for $100 million now.

February 20, 2008

Tri that again...

Beke_finish_primeThis past Saturday, I’m lying on the couch surrounded by a mound of wadded up tissues. I had succumbed to the office bug and felt horrible. The phone rings and it’s Becky telling me to turn on NBC, the annual broadcast about the Ironman World Championship in Kona was on. Raise your hand if you’ve seen it. This is must-see TV because it’s not about the grueling race and who came in first—though that’s pretty exciting. It’s more about the everyday people who step up to the starting line ready to show the world and themselves the kind of stuff they’re made of.

For more than an hour, Becky and I watched the show together over the phone, crying our eyes out for Scott Rigsby, the first above-the-knee double amputee to finish, and Charlie Plaskon, the blind 64-year-old grandfather, who ran and finished the race tethered to a guide to show his grandkids what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it. I was touched by pro, Rutger Beke (who finished #4 in 2006), suffering from the damage of a tendon injury, walked the marathon to place #898 instead of dropping out. He said, “I don’t think it’s very respectful of those people [the age-group competitors] to just quit when it’s not going your way.” By the time the last person crossed the finish line to beat the midnight cut-off, my tissue mountain was enormous.

Feeling inspired, I went online and officially signed up to compete in the Accenture Chicago Triathlon International Distance again this summer. I’d been thinking I was going to race it; but, hadn’t actually 100% committed myself to it. Honestly, I was kind of burned out after the event last year. Did I really want to dedicate my life to training like that again? Watching Ironman was just the motivation I needed. Now, I’ve got 185 days to get my stuff in shape. The starting line awaits.

February 19, 2008

Let Levi ride...

Levi If you follow pro cycling, by now you've heard the news that Team Astana has been barred from competing in any race or event organized by the Amaury Sports Organization (ASO) in 2008, including the Tour de France. This means that the incredible Levi Leipheimer, who has never been associated to doping, will be unjustly sidelined.

The ASO cited the scandals of last year’s TdF as the reason behind its decision. Give me a break. The 2008 Astana Cycling Team has new direction under GM Johan Bruyneel (Lance Armstrong and 7 consecutive Tour wins); all new riders including Levi; and now the most rigorous anti-doping controls of any team in the pro peloton. As Bruyneel has said, the only thing left from last year’s team is the name of the sponsor. This house has been cleaned.

Although Team Astana will still compete in some top races this year, I think it’s a load of you-know-what to hold Levi responsible for the sins of the past.  Yesterday, a new campaign launched to rally support called “Let Levi Ride”. Go to www.letleviride.com and sign the online petition to undo Levi’s unfair exclusion and save the 2008 TdF. The petitions will be sent directly to the ASO Director.

This whole ugly situation reminds me of a story my friend Joe M., the Olympic runner, once told me. Joe competed in Sydney and then underwent knee surgery and some heavy-duty rehabilitation to get back up to speed. He decided to try for Athens, even though many said he was done, and met with a respected coach to talk training. The coach asked him, “So what are you taking?” Joe said, “Nothing.” The coach asked him again, “No really, off the record, what are you on?” Joe said straight-up, “I don’t do that.” The coach replied, “Then you’re going to lose.” Joe made it to Athens (with a different coach). Although he didn’t medal, he competed on his own terms and that's a winner in my book.

There are outstanding athletes out there who don’t need drugs and steroids and human growth hormones or whatever else to be champions. Let’s reward the good ones and give them the opportunity to win.

February 15, 2008

Trike monster who rides...

Img_3960_edited1_2 My 2 ½ year-old nephew, aka the Paddy monster, did a Tour de Living Room for his Cranky Cupid Spin Challenge. Reports my sis, Becky, “[Paddy] did really well on his trike. He rode it through the living room and into the kitchen. Last summer he couldn't reach the pedals. Do you like his bike helmet? It is winter after all. Maybe Trek wants to use our design!” Way to go Paddy!

Also, congratulations Marie on your HUGE accomplishment yesterday –- 60 @ 60 in 6!!! If you haven’t read her blog yet, check it out. You trained hard for it and YOU DID IT! I remember my first 50-mile ride, and it felt like forever. For a new rider to face that much distance is pretty daunting and yet you didn’t let bad weather stop you from achieving your goal. I am so happy for you.

I did end up taking one more spin class last night, plus a little time on a recumbent bike. I went home, ate dinner and was out by 10 pm (rare for me). The hardest part of it all was getting up at 5 am to go teach my regular Friday spin class. There was a little part of me hoping no one would show up. But, I had a really fun group of guys and they made it all worthwhile.

February 14, 2008

Happy cranky cupid day...

Crnky_cu_2 How's the riding?

We had a great time this morning at CrnkCu HQ for our 3-hour spin-a-thon. I started the first spin class at 6 am 'ish with a bunch of tall, good-looking guys -- I'm not sure which Marine company they were from (the hotties from hottingham??). Except for the co. leader, they were all new to spinning. It was fun watching these really athletic guys feeling some hill burn. After a particularly devious (if I do say so myself) sprint drill, one of the Marines asked me "Ma'am, how often do you do this?"

SSgt Zoraida Rodriguez from the Marine Corps Band is a rock star –- she spun hard for a little over 2 hours before she had to go to work. She’s getting ready for the Bulldog Bike Race at Camp Pendleton coming up on March 1. She won her category last year and she’s going to kick some serious butt next month!

Folks dropped in to ride all morning, so it was drills non-stop. I pretty much only hopped off to adjust bikes for the newbies. I’m a little tired; but my legs feel fine. I guess I’m not as out of shape as I thought.  We’ll see how cranky I get tonight though. I’m still thinking about doing some more time. Maybe a repeat of last night’s fierce Project Runway will be on!

Hey, if you’re taking on a CrnkCu spin challenge, don’t forget to snap a photo of you looking your crankiest! (I'm trying to look cranky in the photo above on purpose.) Send them to me at laura_maclean@trekwomenwhoride.com and I’ll post them in the gallery. Tell me what you did and what you watched if you’re riding in front of the tube.  Happy Valentine’s Day!!

P.S. Thanks Trek for the 1 World, 2 Wheels water bottles -- they were put to good use!

February 13, 2008

Know thyself…

Cupola Dateline New Year’s Day, Athens: Jen and I were stopped at a crosswalk and I had my map open, checking to make sure we were going in the right direction to see the changing of the guard at the Greek parliament. An older, distinguished-looking gentleman sporting a fedora and a nicely cut suit approached us. In one hand he held a fine leather briefcase, in the other a cake with “2008” iced on top.

He asked if we “lovely ladies” needed help. Upon hearing our destination, he invited us to walk with him since he was headed that way. I said, how could we refuse, he had cake. He chuckled and responded “Yes, Athens is a city of cake and kisses. Have you been kissed here yet?” Jen looked like she was ready to run; but I laughed and said, “I haven’t been so lucky, though I still have 24 hours before we leave.”

Turns out, the gentleman is a professor at the University of Athens. He told us the tale of how in Ancient Greece, wisdom-seekers were advised to “Know Thyself” before asking the Oracle at Delphi questions about their future. Strangely, it was the third time I’d heard the phrase in as many days and it’s stuck with me ever since.

Do I know myself? I have a decent idea of what makes me tick and what ticks me off. Am I myself?  That’s the interesting question. When I was overweight, I hid my feelings even if I couldn’t hide my body. Even now, 100+ lbs lighter later, I still find it really hard to put my self out there.  I guess I thought it would get easier.

As my friend Magnolia likes to say, “Can’t never could.” I started my year off with a stranger’s story to “Know Thyself”; but I think my direction for 2008 is to have the confidence to “Be Thyself.” Some cake and kisses would be nice too.

February 12, 2008

CrnkCu koo ka choo...

Blech2_2Two more days, til we get CRANKY!!!

My challenge is that I'm going to teach a 3-hour spin class (yikes) from 6-9 am. Cranksters can do the whole class or just pop in for part of it. If I've got any legs left, I'm going to try to spin some more after work.

I'm also really excited because my Mom is going to be a Cranky Cupid too. She's going to ride her recumbent stationary bike. Go Mom!!! My sis, Becky, would be in to it too, but the girl is 7 months pregnant with twins -- she'll just do the cranky part. :)

So are you ready to ride?