Author: castro (page 1 of 5)

Spidermonkey Spotlight – Carin Nelson

Ice cream rides with friends are some of the best rides!

Ice cream rides with friends are some of the best rides!

It wasn’t until well into (alleged) adulthood that I really discovered the joy of riding.

Sure, I rode bikes here and there as a kid – I have vague memories of a Strawberry Shortcake two-wheeler with training wheels that was probably what I learned to ride on, and then there was that time at my grandma’s when I was playing bikes with my cousins, fell on the gravel road and needed stitches in my one knee (which I still have a scar from) – but growing up in the country living on what was essentially a highway didn’t afford me the same opportunities to develop a relationship with bikes as the kids who lived on quieter streets or in town.  As a competitive swimmer, I spent most of my time in the pool anyway so I’m not sure I knew what I was missing.

Fast forward to my post-college years where, like many young Chicagoans who are semi-athletically inclined, I thought running the Chicago Marathon would be a good idea.  Numerous times on training runs, the conversation would bring about the fact that I had been a swimmer, and the question that would usually follow was “Why aren’t you doing triathlons? As a swimmer you’d have a really good foundation for it…” My response?  “Well, yeah… but there’s this whole biking element that I’m not too sure about…”

Yes. The bike was the leg that kept me from even considering doing a triathlon.  I didn’t own a bike and it just seemed like a big (expensive) commitment.

I ended up not running the Chicago marathon on account of a fractured tibia, but the thought of maybe doing a triathlon stuck with me.  Over a dinner conversation one night, I met a new girlfriend who had just done her first triathlon.   She also had a swimming background and had bought a bike in order to do a triathlon and had had a ton of fun… and convinced me to give it a shot.  Not long after, off to the LBS we went.  With her as my “guide,” I checked out an entry level road bike (and had to ask how to shift gears before I took it for a test ride!).  It was ok, but $600 seemed like a lot of money for a bike. (Oh what little did I know…)

I ended up getting an entry level Giant from Johnny Sprockets.  While taking it for my first spin down the LFP, I remember my thoughts alternating between “Whee!!” and “OMG, this is great!” and “This is so much better than running – look at how much more stuff you can see!” How had I not done this before??

After completing a triathlon or two and starting to try to figure out options for riding routes other than the lakefront path, Wendy (yes, our Wendy!) and I met at random (that’s a fun story on its own) and started riding together.  She was new to Chicago and I was new to riding so we started exploring together.  She’s already recapped the day we learned about SMC so I won’t rehash…  but a few weeks after that fateful day, she explained the basics of “riding a wheel” to me, and we showed up for what was my first group ride.  Echos of the thoughts from my first ride danced in my head again in concert with Rox’s encouragements being shouted from behind me – “don’t let that gap open up! Hang in there – you can do it!”).   SO. MUCH. FUN.  I was hooked then and there and it turned out that this was just the start of a progression of firsts and various milestones… (and yes, it turned out that the sales guy was right!)

I rode regularly that first summer and the next…  Pedals, shoes and wheels all got slowly upgraded…  I put many more miles on that first bike that it was intended for and the shifters gave out…  Ken was able to track down replacements for me to keep it rideable but I started shopping for a new bike…  When I finally settled on one, it was a major upgrade.  On a whim I jumped into the beginner crits hosted by Half Acre that spring… a one-day racing license was quickly upgraded…  I won a prime, and just a few weeks later found myself unexpectedly on a podium… this racing thing was FUN!!!

I officially announced my retirement from triathlon following the Tour of Galena last year (without a doubt, the crit that weekend was THE. MOST. FUN. I HAVE HAD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE – you can read all about it here) because why bother with triathlons when I don’t really enjoy swimming or running and can just ride my bike??  Duh.

I’ve since added a third bike (cross) to my stable and hope to be spending some quality time on it this fall.  I’m sure it won’t be the last (N+1 right? J).  Looking back, I don’t think I could have even imagined how much I would learn and experience in just a few short years – or that I would go from someone who had to ask how to shift a bike to someone is approached by co-workers for advice on buying a bike.  I also can’t believe that I had no idea that such an awesome community of people existed and am so glad that the Spidermonkeys adopted me as a part of the group.  The support and camaraderie are like nothing I’ve ever experienced – like many, I feel like I “found my people” and I look forward to many, many more miles of smiles!!

Yay bikes!!!

 

My first “real” bike

My first “real” bike

First week of racing and first prime! (and my new road bike)

First week of racing and first prime! (and my new road bike)

 

 

 

Spidermonkey Spotlight – Andy Schumacher

sandy twizz

Sandy Twizzler Photo by Jayloo

by Andy Schumacher

Traffic is what got me into cycling and Fireball got me to be a Spidermonkey. There’s not much else to know but I’ll back up a bit.

Like most kids, I biked a lot as a kid until I was 15. Then there was a brief cycling hiatus until I was about 30 when I moved to Chicago. I was previously living in the metro Detroit area where I got everywhere by car and I had no problem with it. I even worked for Toyota as a design engineer.

Moving to Chicago completely changed my perspective on cars. Stop-and-go traffic and searching for 20 to 30 minutes for parking were now part of everyday life and I was pissed off every time I got into the car. Within a few months, I got a commuter bike and instantly felt free again. I was no longer subject to traffic and was only limited by how fast my legs could pedal. I wanted to go faster so I bought a road bike and I loved it.

Taiwan Post Ride Recovery

A couple years after moving to Chicago, I joined SRAM as a design engineer. It’s been an amazing place to work and has taught me a lot about cycling culture. SRAM group rides were great but I didn’t have the experience of the other riders so I felt a bit out of place. I started doing some Saturday group rides with different clubs and found a good fit with the ‘Monkeys. They’re great people with different cycling backgrounds and are all very welcoming. Maybe more importantly, they like to have fun and that’s something I really appreciate. Some of the best friendships are forged over a bottle of Fireball, and Spidermonkeys drink a lot of bottles of Fireball. For the record, I don’t like Fireball but very few people will turn it down when offered. Fun fact – Did you know that you can put anything you want into a coffee cup and drink it in public? Sorry, I’m getting distracted.

andy cross

Speaking of drinking, did I mention I love cyclocross?!? There’s something special about the combination of mud, pain, heckling, and having a 10 year old stuff cookies into your jersey pocket after you faceplant in the sand that makes for an awesome experience. One of these days, I hope to learn how to bunny hop correctly.

Weightlifting

Andy getting swoll

Andy just hanging out

Andy just hanging out

I have always enjoyed staying active and trying new activities. Last year, I started working out at Goose Island Crossfit during the off-season. I was hooked pretty quickly by the great coaching and I still work out there regularly – unfortunately, sometimes at the expense of riding. I’m still working on balancing activities but it has also gotten me to try some other new things like trapeze and Olympic weightlifting. I love trying new activities and look forward to a new challenge, but I really look forward to doing a lot more Spidermonkey group rides this year… and maybe sharing a High Life or three with the team at PK’s.

Monica Finalizes Her Bucketlist

Checklist before moving to Ireland:

Buy plane ticket:

Pack apartment:

Podium in a crit: ☑ (and then some)

Two Monkey's on a Podium

Two Monkey’s on a Podium

What I didn’t know when I took up cycling was how much teamwork goes into every race. You work together, you work for one another, you “throw down thank you’s” as Julie Kuliecza from Hagens Berman would say. So often this goes unrecognized, especially at the amateur level, but not anymore. I have been so incredibly fortunate to race with Michelle Moore, and Waukesha, WI was a prime example of this.

Upon arriving in Waukesha, the temperature was already heating up (95 degrees to be exact). We rolled up to the start line, looked at the small field, and Michelle turned to me and said  “we got this.” Now, after having raced every single weekend for the last 10 weeks, my legs were definitely not at their prime, and the heat wasn’t helping. The whistle blew, we both clipped in quickly, and took off.

ToAD_Day3

It was a short course with tight turns, which bode well for both of us, as we learned how to take corners at full speed from the one and only Sarah Rice. We began working together right off the start, taking turns pulling, communicating what was going on. When we sat up in lap 3 to look back and see who was on our wheels, we saw…nothing. We already had a gap. It was on!

We never let off the gas, and spectators on the sides continued to yell our time gap from the pack, which grew larger each lap. As we crossed the start/ finish line with about 10 laps to go, the announcer yelled “Prime! Prime! Spidermonkey Vs Spidermonkey!” We both giggled, put our heads down, and picked up the pace.  I told Michelle to go for it, and her reply was “well don’t just let me have it.” I laughed and replied “I don’t care about the $20, I just want to be on a podium before I move.”

Teamwork makes the Dream work

Teamwork makes the Dream work

Soon enough, we had lapped the field, and we heard from the side “74 second gap!” As we passed lapped riders, we would encourage them to grab our wheels to pull them along. The majority of them were young, so we tried to look at this as a teachable moment.

As we saw two laps to go; Michelle turns to me and says “We are going 1-2. I will pull, you sprint off me!” I replied, “I don’t need to win, I just want to stand on a podium.” Michelle said, “eff that, we are getting you on the top step today!” We turned the final corner, I sprinted from behind her wheel, and for the first time, felt the joy of crossing the finish line first.

We stood on the podium, grins on our faces, knowing there were TWO Spidermonkey’s on ONE podium. When the official brought over the cow spotted race leader jersey, (or Walter spotted, for those who know the Spidermonkey’s obsession with our friend Walter the Cow from Galena), I had a look of shock, disbelief, and pure excitement. When I first started racing, I never thought I would be able to hang in the pack, let alone podium in a race. Michelle was right, there is nothing better than the high of standing on a top step for the first time. In fact, I’m still floating on the cloud.

ToAD_Day3

Michelle was there last year the day I started racing (and kindly offered me her inhaler to calm my nerves). She has been there to witness the good races and the bad races, and became one of my race mentors. We have worked together as teammates, throwing down thank you’s, sacrificing our legs to pull and sprint for one another. She, and the rest of my Spidermonkey teammates, have been prime examples of how teammates should, and can, work together, and learn from one another, be it your first race together, or your last race together.

To all my Spidermonkey teammates: Thank you for not only teaching me how to ride and race a bike, but for helping me fall in love with it all. No matter where I am in the world, I will ALWAYS be a Spidermonkey at heart.

Pre first race together EVER!

Post first podium together!

 

  

Spidermonkey Spotlight – Kylene Canham

I met the Spidermonkey’s on OkCupid. Well, kind of. But, truly, my experience with riding bikes has been all about relationships and this one started out as love at, well, second sight. The truth is, on the first date I swore I would NEVER ride a century. I mean, after all it is 100 miles on a bike and who wants to do that?! You have to understand that unlike many of you, I wasn’t born on a bike. See me here with my little sis? I’m 6 years old and still enjoying training wheels.

Me and my Lil sis

Me and my Lil sis

Not to worry; that same day they came off. It was awesome. I remember crashing into the grass right past that tree shortly after that picture was taken – my dad still running behind me. Sweet.

Pre-crash

Pre-crash

I’ve come a long way since that day and it’s been a great ride (pun intended). In 2013 Stewart Chapman made my Michigan weekend by allowing me to borrow my first big kids road bike!

Official owner of a big kids bike!

Official owner of a big kids bike! Thanks SC!

Later, she actually let my buy it. So, that pretty Red Bianchi became my first. And that’s when I knew this relationship was more fun and was going to last longer than the one I had with running. Hooked.

So I started riding. And then riding more. Getting to know the people I already knew better and getting to meet new people too. Oh, and loving it! So when the time came to get a little more committed I was excited! I completed my first Bike the Drive and felt great! Maybe I WOULD take on some more challenges!

Bike the Drive

Bike the Drive

In 2015, It happened. I joined the team. An official Spidermonkey! Got a kit, hit up VQ and learned how to group ride baby! I was lucky to have a ton of support along the way, especially from this guy. Thanks, D.

Getting dropped often, but still having a blast. Oh, and the thing I swore I’d NEVER do, I did. I won’t lie to you and say it was the best time of my life, but I did it! 100 miles, Done!

And then there was Vegas Spidermonkey style, and my first crash – wait, what, we have to shift here? Huh? Always learning and still loving it. Flats in the rain, chain needs lubed – no problem. I was taught that. Recently, I’ve gotten to know some of this team even better and I have to say – what an exciting, eclectic, smart, kind, fun and supportive group of people.

Vegas Baby!

Vegas Baby!

I’m not going to be someone I’m not and this team accepts that. I’m a jack of all trades and a master of a few. I love the bike, but I also love art and motorcycles and traveling, climbing and the occasional bar run, and so much more. It’s great because this team pushes me in just the right ways, and I’m still growing and loving every minute! Ca Caaaawwww!

IMG_0752

Climbing Monkey’s

FullSizeRender (3)

 

 

Spidermonkey Spotlight – Vincent Calabro

Spidermonkey Spotlight – Vincent Calabro

Who is Vincent? Is he that guy that lives with Brandon? I thought Corbin lived with Brandon? What do you mean there are three people on the team who work with John Castro? Should we test JPC?

Vincent is the Spidermonkey formerly known as Brandon’s roommate.

JPC BH and VC

JPC, BHall and Vincent at the MS Ride

Ok I’m more than just Brandon’s former roommate and John’s co-worker, so here is my tale told through six bikes:

The Bright Red Raleigh:
I grew up on the fringes of Cleveland with two brothers. The first bike I remember having was a bright red Raleigh. My brothers and I spent countless hours riding bikes in circles on our driveway. When this got boring we played a form of dodgeball on bikes but instead of inflated balls we’d chuck buckeyes at the person whose turn it was to ride the gauntlet. Near the end of the summer, when the weeds next to our house were tall enough, we’d venture out with golf clubs to carve out what amounted to a kid’s version of a cyclocross course. We’d create winding paths with obstacles along the way. The most treacherous was a 1’x1’ pit with broken glass that we placed a board over. Oh the joys of unsupervised childhood.

The Mongoose:
When I was in my early teens I got a Mongoose BMX bike. The Mongoose is notable for only two reasons:

1 – I won it from a raffle at the local Dick’s Sporting Goods.
2 – I thought I was hot shit on that bike.

Therefore in an attempt to impress the girls who lived in my cul de sac I rode the bike as fast as I could down my hilly driveway and leaned to turn onto the street. Sadly the Mongoose had other plans. The tires gave out and I slid across the street. Road rash clearly got all the ladies knocking at my door.

Helmet Test

Helmet Test

Clueless

Clueless

The Bianchi:
When I was 20 years old I worked as an intern in New York City. I was young, poor and wanted to soak up every bit of the city. I determined to take the little money I saved and to buy a bike rather than a monthly Metrocard. This is when I discovered the LBS. I visited them all and I wanted all the bikes (I still do). In a hipster bike shop in the Meatpacking District I met my first love, the Bianchi Pista. It sang soulful opera to my Italian roots. I only realized after walking out to the streets of Manhattan that I had no idea what a track bike was or why my new bike didn’t have any breaks. But as John Castro always tells me, you ride what you have. I rode that bike everyday to work, rain or shine. Nights and weekends were spent sprinting through Time Square and through Central Park. I even rode it on some longer rides like the 5 Boro Ride and Montauk Century. That bike carried me through New York, Philadelphia, New Haven and now daily on the streets of Chicago.

The Allez:
So much hope! So much promise! Then it got stolen out of my basement in Philadelphia. Renter’s insurance is great, but I didn’t have it.

The Surly:
In 2009 I got accepted into graduate school for architecture. As a last hurrah, two of my friends and I decided to do a bike camp from Seattle to San Francisco, and thus the purchase of the Surly. The first three days of our trip, it just poured. If you ever want to learn about the kindness of people, show up soaking wet with all your stuff strapped to your bike. But as soon as we hit the coast it was some of the most beautiful riding and camping.

Gravel and bike camping on the Surly!

Gravel and bike camping on the Surly!

The Fuji:
This is the bike most of you have seen me on. I got this bike during a summer in graduate school. It had one great summer of riding and then sat longing to be ridden. Years passed and I moved from New Haven to San Francisco and finally to Chicago. That’s when I met John Castro. He brought me out to my first Saturday ride and from there I was hooked. I feel so lucky to be able to ride with a team full of such welcoming, friendly, funny and talented riders. The occasional free beer also helps.

Sadly in June I’m relocating to San Francisco with The Minjy (not a bike, a person, specifically my girlfriend). Other bikes might might come and go in my life but I’ll always be a Spidermonkey. Soon Spidermonkey Orange will grace the climbs of Marin County.

P.S.this is an open invitation to join me any time you’re out that way.

To quote the great Cal Naughton Jr. : “we go together like cocaine and waffles”

Vincent and Trenta MTB'ing

Vincent and Trenta MTB’ing

Montrose Big Marsh Fundraising – Do It!

#PutARingOnIt #BuildBigMarsh

#PutARingOnIt #BuildBigMarsh

#PutARingOnIt to win at Big Marsh – Spidermonkey Cycling is challenging ALL Chi Cross Cup teams to put your money where your heart is to build Big Marsh!

Spidermonkey Cycling invites all teams to compete for donor rings and bragging rights – and an exclusive party at SRAM – by raising the most money as a team by December 6’s state championships to build the park at Big Marsh.

The contest starts TODAY. To enter, go to bigmarsh.causevox.com and register your cross team. Add your team members, then use your personalized fundraising page and e-mail tools to ask your fellow crossers, your friends, your training partners to support the park with a donation. You can watch your progress and check in on other teams.

Raise $500, and your team gets its own permanent donor chain ring installed on the donor wall at Big Marsh. Raise $1500, and your team receives a larger donor ring for display. Raise the most money of any team, and enjoy an exclusive team party at SRAM’s new headquarters!

Rings are also available for individuals giving $500 or more. For more information, contact friends@bigmarsh.com. Get the hole shot – sign your team up at bigmarsh.causevox.com today!

Spidermonkey of the Week – Nate Miller

broWhen I was quite a bit younger, I enjoyed reading a book as much as I enjoyed playing outside. But I would also slowly ease into things, such as driving a go-cart at half speed so it wouldn’t spin out. With the go-cart, I just wanted to be careful, despite the fact that my brother, a few years younger, was doing just fine at full speed. Somewhere along the way, I outgrew some of that timidness and got into bike racing. Into biking, as in picking up road, track, and cross my first season.

My adventurous side started with rock climbing, but as I think back, both climbing and biking were there from the start. My family grew up in the beautiful countryside and farmland of Ohio enjoying the fine aromas of manure for the fields every spring. Fortunately, this also meant my brother and I had plenty of trees to climb and trails we could bike on whenever we wanted. I have to thank my dad for making sure we always had working bikes as we were growing up. He also inspired us with his tales of riding across the country with Wondering Wheels and with his ability to build bike jumps out of plywood and 2×4’s. I eventually headed off to college thinking of my bike as an essential part of life. It was a blast to ride and the fastest way to get to class.

family

YosemiteDuring undergrad at Miami University, I picked up rock climbing. But it was really my first trip to Yosemite a number of years later when I jumped into the deep end. One look at the walls of Yosemite Valley were enough to get me hooked. Year after year, I picked up more gear and climbed something more challenging, continuing to work toward the goal of climbing the walls of Yosemite. At this point I was in grad school in Baltimore, so while I worked around the clock in the lab, I did manage to fit in a little time for climbing visiting every piece of rock along the East Coast and then some. So coming to Chicago for med school was a little bit of a setback for my climbing, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Bikes. After undergrad, as I mentioned I went to Baltimore for grad school. I decided to view to and from school despite riding through some of the roughest neighborhoods in B’more. Now whenever someone asks about bike commuting in Baltimore my answer is: I wouldn’t recommend it. But I had decided to bike and in probably didn’t know what I was getting into. And I just biked as fast as I could which worked most of the time. I rode like every car couldn’t see me, I dodged punk teenagers throwing rocks at me, and avoided getting run down by the 12 o’clock boys. Despite all of that I left Baltimore a dedicated bike commuter.

Once I came to Chicago I struggled with how to keep up my climbing. It got harder as med school intensified, so once the opportunity to jump into bike racing presented itself, I jumped in the deep end again. My first race was the Tour of Galena where I’m pretty sure I got close to last place, but I still had an awesome time. As road season faded out, I started to go into withdrawal, so I switched to getting my fix on the track. The pure speed and constant race strategy kept me hooked. But track season also ended, and along came the allure of mud, friends, and beer. My second season was dominated by surviving med school while my racing suffered. But near the end of my third year of med school, I decided my school could suffer and it was time to get serious about racing.

1380089_10201223755022223_212681686_nI started training at the track so I could cat up and race with the big kids on Thursday nights. Fortunately, this is where I met Lucas Seibel and found out the Spidermonkeys were really cool. Next thing I knew, I was going back to the tour of galena with a bunch of monkeys to ride the water slides and do a bit of racing. The weekend was a success, I did far better than my literal first time at the races. We also managed to eat a lot of hotel Belgian waffles and giant 2 pound hot pretzels. The deal was finally sealed, as far as I was concerned, a few weeks later at the gravel metric. After riding a grueling 4 hours of gravel, I was still in the middle of nowhere and starting to wonder if I had made a wrong turn. I was beat, but I thought I saw a rider behind me, so I just decided to wait for them. I had the good fortune of that rider being nobody less than Kelly Clarke. She was like, I eat gravel for breakfast; we’re all good. We figured out how to get back on track, and as I started to bonk and my knees stated to get cranky, Kelly pulled all the way home. That’s when I knew the monkeys were definitely awesome. As soon as I got around to making a team ride, Deanessa asked me if I wanted to join, and I instantly responded, yes!

In my first season as a monkey, I have had an unbelievable amount of fun. On the road, I got torn up by Lucas, and had a blast pushing the race pace with Monko and PJ. On the track, I formed a number of strategic team alliances, such as Team Homewreckers (Kelly, Rod, and I) where we relentlessly, unpredictably, and anti-strategically attack. Also Team Bonk Da Monkey with Jeremy and Justin from Bonkers, where we actually got some team tactics to work both on the track and on the road. Cross started out with two strong relay teams: The Sweaty Pretzels with Ann Marie and also The Kickin’ Kangaroos with Drew. Lindsey Fahey also allowed me to get my psychiatry practice started as I psychoanalyzed her cross performance. But basically hanging with you guys on and off the bike has been the best thing ever.

Team Homewreckers

Team Homewreckers


Bonk da monkey

Bonk da monkey


Sweaty pretzels

Sweaty pretzels

I’m finishing up my fourth year and about to see where I head for training as a psychiatrist. I sincerely had hoped that Chicago was going to be a top choice just so I could continue hanging with you guys. Buuuut, the West coast is looking like the ideal place to train. Also the rock climbing isn’t so bad, and they don’t have the polar vortex. So we need to talk about starting a west coast division of the monkeys. (I’ll find out for sure March 21st.) Regardless, I’ll always be a monkey at heart.

Call us, maybe?

Call us, maybe?

Spidermonkey of the Week – Gayle Stephens

7-04 020

My cycling goal?  Ride until I’m old, really old.

Since retelling a whole life story is of no interest to me and likely uninteresting at best for others, I decided to choose three cycling stories that taught me something.

First, that one can survive a bike crash, gracefully.  I never would have believed this before one June Sunday morning Spidermonkey ride.  I ended up in an ER with a dislocated elbow, endured the worst pain I had ever experienced, and my elbow required surgery.  Today I call it an easy-peasy recovery, one in which I was back on a bike in 10 days and returned to my massage therapy practice in 12 days.  The drugs were amazing and in a way, worth it.  After about four or five weeks, I was back on a team ride and noted at the end that my legs and lungs were the limiting factors, I had completely forgotten about my elbow.

Another story stands out because it helps me laugh at myself and be prepared. One Saturday night ages ago it seems, I agreed to do a local Sunday morning triathlon the next morning.  This was to be a fun family event with my experienced triathlete sister.  I was NOT a cyclist, nor a swimmer, only a little bit a runner.  All was going well Saturday morning.  She opted to begin with me in the next to last heat in a pool.  She left me in the first lap.  Still, I celebrated one leg down!  Next, I found my mountain bike and never made it out of the transition area … serious flat!  Zero air pressure after I rode a few yards.  Completely laughable and, to my surprise, a clear message that I should give it up. But, along comes a kind and generous woman who had already finished the complete event, and said to me with enthusiasm, “Here!  Ride my bike!”   So I did.  To me it was a super fancy Specialized road bike. I felt light and super fast!  In reality, it likely wasn’t as this was a Niles YMCA event, she was lending it to a completely thoughtless mountain bike cyclist/stranger, who failed at checking her tires at anytime before the race.  Lapped my sis on the three loop bike part of the event.  Huge reason to giggle as this was HER event after all.

My last story deepened my trust.  Before I even knew the Spidermonkeys existed, I rode one season on the Monday night Chicago Cycling Club rides whose purpose is paceline training.  One longer than normal ride, it seems we were still northbound and it was getting dark quickly.  Up to then, my only night riding was in the City under streetlights galore, so my wimpy blinky lights were all I had.  I figured out that being in front of a guy with beacon quality lighting was safe.  No noticeable adjusting the speed for darkness had me silently worried.  I could see enough to follow the wheel in front of me but what I couldn’t see were potholes, rocks, etc.  Trust became all I had.  I learned that if the wheels two up were smooth sailing, that was the specific path to follow.  Each block increased my trust and therefore the excitement and thrill.  It was like meditating to me. Trusting me, my bike, the road, the sounds, the skills of all the other riders.  I completely relaxed and gave into trust each moment.  After I was home safely, pure excitement was gushing through my whole being.  I felt my happy heart pounding and a wish to experience more of this.

gayle1

It was in the retelling of this story to a friend who told me, “You need to date a cyclist!”   So, in a way, I credit her and the Universe for putting Charlie and me together. He’s not a Spidermonkey but rides sometimes with our group. While we met the old fashioned way via friends at a Chicago summer neighborhood fest, our second date was a ride and we’ve had many more since.

I ride just the right amount.  I’m getting to do other things like part-time parenting, my massage therapy biz, so although I don’t ride as much as many of you, I’m still getting to do pretty much exactly what I love pretty much most of the time.

When I’m not cycling, I visit offices and events offering on-site chair massages, making life better for people who work at a desk.  I also see clients privately in my massage space at Lincoln/Roscoe/Paulina, around the corner from Roxanne’s killer spin class.

Sixteen years ago, a friend offered to teach me a 15 minute chair massage routine and I have never looked back since.  The same year, a week long meditation retreat in Northern California deepened my decision to change careers.  I started working as a massage therapist with only three months of training and after a few more months of seeing clients, I began formal education to become a nationally certified practitioner.  I love helping people feel better in their bodies, helping people notice what a powerful resource the nervous system is.  Not just for the health of our approximate 100 trillion cells that make up one human body, but also for our thinking and how we view our experiences, all through bodywork. Life is an amazing and exciting gift. There is no need to suffer inside our bodies while enjoying this gift.

gayle2

Oh, one photo is of Charles and me.  Another is of Charlie’s son and me, eagerly awaiting the Spidermonkey crew cycling by our Damen Avenue apartment. The last one is me working on a very exhausted Emanuele Bianchi at the Chicago Velo Campus during its construction.  He wrote to me, “Those were 36 very hard days and that massage was something really good for my body.”  What an honor!  And, more recently, I’ve had the honor and luck to work on several Spidermonkeys.

gayle3

I have a serious interest in helping with Spidermonkey MS Ride efforts but haven’t figured out exactly what that looks like yet.  Stay tuned.  If you have any ideas, let me know.

Lastly, silver LeMond, smallish sized, that’s my bike and me.

Thank you Spidermonkeys for being such a fun and supportive cycling team!   You all are amazing and I can’t wait to meet more of you.

Kindly,

Gayle

 

 

Spidermonkey of the Week – Colleen Klein

by Colleen Klein

Klein - My Cruiser

My beach cruiser!

As I was thinking of all of the words that best describe biking to me….I realized how much those words actually described ME and the way I look at life.

Let me explain, here are a few references to biking (B) and my Life (L) with some of those words:

Alive/Freedom:

B:     Every time I get on a bike, there is a sense feeling free and alive when that wind hits your face!

L:     Okay this one is a bit too easy… alive check!  But seriously, many things in life have made me realize we can’t take life for granted, I’m truly thankful for every day and blessed that I can live the life I do.

Passion:

B:     I LOVE biking, rarely do I ever not get excited to go biking (minus VQ test days)

Klein - Half Ironman transition

Half Ironman Bike Transition

L:     I’m a pretty passionate gal; I love a lot of things….my job (for real), my friends, my family, music, good restaurants, good wine, traveling, etc.  I try to live in the moment and really be invested in time spent with others or anything I do.

Determination/Challenging/Competitive:

B:     Always get back up and on the saddle, if it is on your first Saturday group ride and you can’t seem to clip out in time (not sure who would do that though ;-) ). I always like a good challenge and some healthy competition.  Which is why I started doing triathlons, joined a badass bike group, and continue to find ways to set new goals (a Century Ride, Vineman 70.3, and a bike race?! for 2014)

L:     I’m a sales manager so gotta hit those sales goals!  My parents always instilled an environment where we weren’t allowed to give up; if we committed to a team or activity we needed to be committed until the very end.  And if you are doing it, you might as well do the best you can!  With the right support and attitude it’s pretty amazing what you can accomplish when you stick with it.

Mountain Biking in Patagonia

Mountain Biking in Patagonia

Active/Adventure/Thrill Seeking:

B:     A new challenge, a new path, a new view and those darn stomach drops speeding down a hill keep biking adventurous and thrill seeking.   Cyclocross and Road races definitely terrify me which is exactly why I feel the need to try it….that and I’m dying to race in something where I don’t need to swim first. J

L:     No couch potato here…rarely will you find me sitting at home; I also love to dance (salsa anyone?!), kickbox, do triathlons, ski (or attempt to), hike, travel, etc, etc.  Some may say I do “too” much but I like to stay active and it keeps life interesting

Juvenile:

Colleen on the right

Slightly blurry, but I’m on the right

B:     I still vividly remember the day I got my first bike with training wheels, the day they came off, the constant request of “mom – can we go around the block”, going everywhere in town with my twin sister and friends via my hot pink bike.   Getting on a bike today brings me back, makes me smile, and feel like a kid again!

L:     Never take myself too serious…which is why I also bought myself a beach cruiser too!  I don’t always need to be a hard core biker and it’s just SO fun to just cruise around…now I just need a beach where I can do it more often!

Always Learning:

B:     There is ALWAYS more to learn, I still consider myself a new rider even though I’ve biked all of my life and have done tons of triathlons.  However, I just started group riding this summer (thanks to SMs!) and although I’m a pretty strong rider,  I still have a lot to learn…still struggle changing tires, need to improve my bike handling, get better with bike maintenance and mechanics, continue to get comfortable in tight groups, etc, etc.  SO please be patient with me!

L:     I spend any spare money I have traveling, the more I travel the more I realize how small we are in this world and how much more there is learn and see.  Off to Asia in a few weeks, can’t wait!

Half Ironman Finisher!

Klein-bike quote

I love this quote, goes along with my bike/like comparisons!

Social/Community:

B:     Umm…Spidermonkeys!!  I’m so glad that some Chicago Tri Club friends introduced me to the SMs, you guys are AWESOME!  This is the exact type of group I needed to improve my skills and hang out with some cool people that enjoy this sport as much as I do (beer sponsor helps too).  Venus de Miles sealed the deal to officially join the club this fall…yes, I’m the girl that is always ruining the pics with my non-SM gear but don’t worry I put my order in so soon enough I will be in the orange and black like everyone else.  Excited for that!!

L:     I’m a social little butterfly, and have a great network of amazing friends and family that I cherish a ton!

Spidermonkey of the Week – Tony Green

This picture below is almost my earliest cycling memory.

1_Tony_small

Up until that day, I’d been struggling to ride my bike without training wheels (we call them ‘stabilisers’ in Scotland) and even my younger sister was riding without them. My friends, out of a combination of charity and disgust took me aside one day and spent the whole day making me ride (and repeatedly fall) without training wheels until I could do it.

Funny then, that some 40 years later, as a member of Spidermonkey Cycling, I realize that the combination of friendly external peer pressure and internal “Please-don’t-let-me-f***-this-up” still works.

More on that later.

Incidentally, my Dad took the photo when he came home from work that day and I wanted to show him that I could ride on my own. And if you look closely, you will notice that I am wearing a tie. Apparently, I thought this quite a formal occasion.

I’ve noticed that many of these Spidermonkey of the Week posts tend to look back fondly (even romantically) on their early bikes. Not me. No way.

‘Course, now that I mention it… there was this one bike….

2_Raleigh

Ok, quickly then – Raleigh Tomahawk. Banana seat, bright red paint job, 3-speed lever mounted on the right handle bar (a slight step lower than the more upmarket Raleigh Chopper model, which had the 3-speed shift lever mounted on the top tube like the stick shift of a car). Man, riding around Glasgow with that bike, that was really… Ahem. Sorry about that – not sure what happened there.

All right, flash-forward several years to when I had a decent touring bike and my friends and I would go bike touring in Scotland for a week or so at a time. We particularly liked the lowlands of Scotland because there were plenty of Youth Hostels (where we could stay cheaply) and plenty of pubs (where we could drink cheaply.) There would be a general high level plan along the lines of “Let’s plan on being back home in a week. Roughly.” We’d look at the map, pick a Youth Hostel and ride to it. Have dinner. Go to the pub. Wake up the next day, look at the map, pick a youth hostel, ride to it and go to the pub. The freedom of being able to go anywhere with no deadlines or schedules was incredibly liberating.

[Tony’s Touring Tip: Take all the panniers and luggage off the bike before you go to the pub. It makes the bike lighter so you feel like you’re flying and you won’t have to worry about trying to get all that gear off the bike after you’ve had a few drinks.]

And that was all cycling was. Just a fun social thing. Nothing serious.

Until 1986. Which, besides being the statistical mean birth year of Spidermonkey Club members, is also the year I started to follow professional cycling. It was also the year that the Irish cyclist Steven Roche won the Triple: The Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and World Championship in the same year. A feat not repeated since. I was fascinated, started riding more, joined a cycling club in Manchester, where I was living at the time, started racing and was really enjoying the vibrant, energetic and growing cycling scene in the UK.

Then I moved to the US in 1989.

The cycling scene was completely different. Cycling in the US was almost underground compared with the UK. It was hard to get any cycling news at all. I craved the latest VeloNews (in print, people – no websites yet!) There were so few American racers in Europe, they were regarded as oddities. Of course one of them, Greg LeMond, did manage to win the Tour that year. Anyway, I found a cycling club, 2CC (which is still around) and rode and raced with them for many years. Saturdays were spent with 3-4 cyclists and bikes in one car happily driving 3-4 hours downstate for a 45-minute criterium and then driving home. I’m happy to say that one of the guys I rode with back then, Charlie Jolls, is a Spidermonkey.

Then one year, maybe 2004, I just stopped riding. I had just completed the Deathride (125 miles, 16,000’ of climbing in one day) in Lake Tahoe and had finally completed all 5 summits after 3 years of attempts. I entered the off-season and never came out of it. Don’t know why.

3_MTB

In 2009, my road bike was stolen. Then my mountain bike was stolen. Then I stole my mountain bike back. And finally, in2011, I bought a new road bike and started riding again. I ran into Jerry Ortega, an old 2CC buddy one day, and asked for a recommendation of a club to join. I knew that 2CC was still a racing focused club and I wasn’t interested in that anymore. “Yeah, there’s this club called Spidermonkey.”

Spidermonkey? Seriously?

4_Tony

I rode informally on Saturdays with the club in 2012, struggling to keep up but was encouraged by everyone. I don’t there’s anyone that was on a Saturday ride in 2012 or early 2013 that didn’t babysit me back up to the group at some point. You all know who you are.

This is only my 2nd official year as a Spidermonkey but I can’t imagine any club being a better fit for me. It’s a privilege to ride with such a great group. The two big events for me this year are the MS Ride in June and the Leipheimer Gran Fondo in California at the beginning of October. That’s a long season, with several thousand miles of riding in great company with Spidermonkey Cycling.

5_Tony

Cheers!

Tony

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