Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 41)

Spidermonkey Spotlight – Lauren M

Montrose CX

Montrose CX

I think it is best to rip the band-aid off so you can get your eye rolls and groans out of the way…I am one of the few teammates that considers Triathlon their main sport. I 100% promise not to mention that forsaken sport below this first paragraph, but knowing this information makes my story to becoming a Spidermonkey little bit easier to understand.

After owning up to that truth, I’m sure I’ve lost you quite quick, so in an effort to get your attention back I’ll name drop one of your favorite monkeys, Michelle Moore. Now that you’re with me still here is the story of how I came to be a Spidermonkey, and well, a cyclist!

Michelle and I met when I was working for Fleet Feet Sports and she was at the American Cancer Society. Call it 2010-ish. I actually got into riding on my own in 2011 when my love affair with running ended. Unlike most of you, cycling for me was a gateway drug to triathlon. Oops. Ok last time I swear.

I had found something I could enjoy, cycling, but lacked the environment to get better. Michelle started encouraging me to come out to the girls rides on Tuesday mornings, which for a few weeks led to me getting up at 5:00am, putting my cycling clothes on, and getting back into bed. Yeahhhh, I was kind of intimidated.

Eventually I strung a few weeks together of showing up regularly and started to get the hang of this pace line thing. I was mostly happy I stuck it out because I could tell this would definitely help me get better on the bike.

One Tuesday I was riding with with Emily, and I asked her, “So, how many times a week do you ride?” Emily said, “4-5 times a week. It depends.” I really don’t know why this information shocked me, but I vividly remember thinking, “Woah! I only ride 2-3 times a week. No wonder these girls are so good.”

I would ride just about every Tuesday for the next 3 years and I’d inevitably be asked, “so, do you race bikes?” No, not really. Not yet anyway.

Girls!

Girls!

By the time 2015 rolled around I had become pretty addicted to that other sport, but still lacked the bike capabilities of my other competitors. I spent 2015 really focusing on the bike leg which of course included all the girls rides. Then with further Michelle Moore encouragement, also led to my first cross season to supplement my other bike training.

I like cross a lot, but let’s just say there is a reason I prefer to stick to the TT position for my racing. Honestly, I think Amy experiences cross race amnesia every time she suggests wanting to get me out on a mountain bike. When racing cross I can be heard saying things like, “Oh dear!” “Can I go back to Ironman?” “Oh, we’re going to ride that?” “No, I think I’m going to run it.”

Montrose CX 2017

Montrose CX 2017

I digress. After 6 or 7 races in that first season wearing my Chicago Endurance Sports kit I had finished up at Montrose and Brandon asked me “So, are you finally going to get rid of that CES jersey?” Later that evening the Kelly and Michelle dynamic duo got me to commit to joining the team for 2016.

We all know how great this team is, and it’s so fun to read how everyone got involved and the individual benefits we’ve all had from being a part of it. I suppose that for me I’m most thankful for the inviting and super supportive environment to learn how to ride a bike over the years. These days I’m very focused on that other sport, and do not train with people often as a result. So anytime I can be out on a Monkey ride it’s a very special thing for me!

Girls Ride!

Girls Ride!

 

Spidermonkey Spotlight – Corey Schumacher and David Fox

Is it really our time to be featured on Spidermonkey Spotlight?  We thought we would have a couple more years to come up with some cool stories but we’ll see what we can do.

Corey David MS Ride

Corey David MS Ride

Corey:  I didn’t grow up participating in any sports, unless you count the family bowling league.  My first bike as a child was a Powder Puff Racer. I rode it to my best friend’s house, passed a group of teenagers who mocked it and probably never rode it again. When I was in my early 20s and still living in Indiana, I bought a beach cruiser, which I also rarely used. I lugged it to Chicago with me in 2005, locked it up in the basement of the apartment building and let the tires go flat. Then, I met David.  After changing the tires for me, he told me to ditch the cruiser and get a “real” bike.  It took me a few more years before I did buy a real bike but even then it was a hybrid – which I still own and ride.  The first time I rode a road bike was in 2011 when David and I were on vacation in California wine country, where we rented bikes to ride around to wineries.

Corey Coppola Winery pre-crash

Corey Coppola Winery pre-crash

I know what you’re thinking: Don’t rent the road bike when you’ve never ridden a road bike, to ride around to wineries all day! I almost made it all the way back to the bike rental shop after a day of drinking, but crashed a couple miles away. I’m not sure what happened. One second I’m enjoying life and then next someone is asking me if I know who the president is.  That’s how I hurt my left shoulder.  Eventually I recovered mentally and bought a road bike of my own.  If David was feeling generous, he’d go on a ride with me on the lakefront path.  He’d pull the entire way and I’d curse him from behind. How is he going so fast? Is he even sweating? It wasn’t fun for either of us.

Sometime during all of this silent cursing at David I met Roxanne at the Y. This is where the story gets familiar. Does everyone meet Roxanne at the Y? Is Roxanne like Kevin Bacon, where you can always find a connection within 6 degrees?  One day we were talking about bikes and she encouraged both of us to try a group ride. My first group ride was a Girl’s Tuesday morning ride, because who doesn’t like to wake up at 4:45 AM? That first ride was lovely! I practiced a pace line! I drafted! I got dropped after the sprint on the way back! No one made fun of me for wearing gym shoes!  I came home and told David how much fun it was. We eventually both tried a Saturday morning ride where the ride leader had to sweep me off the back and Dean did make fun of my gym shoes.  After a couple of years of riding sporadically, Roxanne asked if we wanted to join.  I asked her if she was allowed to invite people into the group. She laughed at me.

Last year I increased the amount of riding I did.  We signed up for the MS ride and completed the 100 miles on the 1st day (and slept in the 2nd day). I participated in my first “old school” ride and bonked.  I started riding to work more often. On June 30th I was doored while riding home on Lincoln. That’s how I hurt my right shoulder.

Corey Nacogdoches TX

Corey Nacogdoches TX

If I’m being honest, I’m sure I wouldn’t have done any of this if I hadn’t joined Spidermoney Cycling. No matter how often I struggle, there is always someone to encourage me.  You give me tips, let me draft off your wheels and even after I bonk, you tell me that I did a good job.  You will likely never see me enter a race but I will be there cheering you on, as you cheer me on during any random Tuesday, Saturday or Sunday … but never a Wednesday night, because I would die.

David: Bikes have always been a big part of my life. My dad is an avid cyclist, but I was the one who taught myself how to ride when I was 6 or 7, rolling myself into the grass and tipping over until I didn’t. Soon enough I was hopping curbs in the cul-de-sac. My family and I lived on the top of a hill in the outer suburbs of Los Angeles at that time (and this was an actual hill, none of this Midwest stuff). My dad showed me how to cut my own switchbacks, veering from one side of the road to the other, so I could make my way up. It turns out that going down is actually the more difficult part, and I have the scars to prove that, but boy did I have fun bombing down that hill.

A couple of years later we moved to Northern California and I traded hills for the BMX track and dirt jumps (BMX is kinda like Cyclocross except you can catch some sweet air). I rode a chrome GT Mach One that fit me like a glove and I don’t think I could ever love another inanimate object like that again. I learned how to bunny hop, pop a wheelie, roll the doubles, jump the doubles, and fall. I fell a lot.

I’m glad I got most of the falling out of the way early. I moved to Chicago in 2001, and it wasn’t too long until I had picked up a battered, early 90’s Fuji from Working Bikes, stripped it down to a single-speed and started tearing up the streets urban style (Urban cycling is kinda like Cyclocross except you can catch some sweet… err… doors? Insults?).

David Nacogdoches Texas

David Nacogdoches Texas

I’d never ridden in a pace line until 2013. That’s where the Spidermonkeys come in. Corey and I had been working out at the YMCA for a few years and I’d frequently see this guy come in and work out in a sleeveless t-shirt, proudly flaunting what I thought was an epic farmer’s tan. That’s before I knew what “pro” was. I had no idea I was supposed to be jealous. Anyway, this guy and another taller, more freckled guy were often working out and chatting, and I “overheard” them talking about bikes (is it ever “overhearing” when it comes to Scott?). I finally struck up a conversation with Dean and he invited me out to a Saturday ride. Around the same time, Corey was training with Roxanne and tried out a Tuesday ride. We finally tried out a Saturday ride and I was immediately hooked.

I participated in rides sporadically until 2015 when I resolved to ride more. I had grown bored with triathlons after realizing I hated (and sucked at) swimming and was a mediocre runner at best. But biking, as ever, was a blast. Corey and I did a bunch of rides, including a few Sunday rides, and at some point that summer, we were offered the chance to become Monkeys officially. Of course we accepted, because you guys rock.

Last year I learned the joys of road cycling by getting my ass handed to me at a few Wednesday rides and completing my first century ride (Road cycling is kinda like Cyclocross except… alright, I give up). I also did my first Cyclocross race!

David cyclecross

David cyclecross

I can’t wait to kick off the 2017 season with ya’ll. Corey and I are so lucky to have found such a welcoming and diverse group to hang with, and I look forward to acting like an adult-sized kid with you guys whenever I can.

 

Spidermonkey Spotlight – Zach and Gina (Ugo) Neff

You’re getting a two-for-one with this Spidermonkey profile, but I’ll (Zach) be doing the “talking” here.  Gina is far too modest to brag about herself adequately. She also attended Indiana University for four years, so she’s not that strong with the written word. I’m a Purdue graduate (hence the obligatory IU ribbing) with an engineering degree.

IMG_4718Gina graduated from Indiana University, but that was only the beginning for her. She also has a Master’s degree and a Physician’s Assistant degree from Chicago-area colleges. Gina works at Rush as a Physician Assistant and I’m a 19-year employee of Sonoco Products Company as an International Engineering Manager. We have two dogs, no kids, and we live in Bucktown. The boring stuff is over.

This is a couples profile, so I’ll start off with the non-cycling action first. Gina and I met here in Chicago back in 1999. Her roommate was dating my roommate. Gina and I got along well enough when we were all together, so they thought they would try and hook us up on a blind date that was rife with lies and deception. Gina’s friend told her that I wanted to go out with her. My friend told me that Gina wanted to go out with me (a wildly optimistic idea to this day). Gina and I figured this all out in the middle of our first date during the intermission at Phantom of the Opera. Either way, it was funny and it worked.

We dated for about a year before I was transferred through my job to Southern Indiana. The long distance relationship begins here. We really weren’t that serious at the time, but she cried when I left….so that’s something, right? I was down there on my own and the roads are absolutely amazing for cycling.

Zach as a child (tri)cyclist

Zach as a child (tri)cyclist

I had been on bikes a lot growing up in the mountains of Asheville, N.C. Where I lived as a kid, you can’t get anywhere without a car or a bike and I was far too young to drive. If you want to go and hang out with friends after school, then you ride up or down very steep hills to get there. I had a 45 pound, Columbia mountain bike and my parents were into road biking (old school, 1978 Univega’s, since you asked). I bought a decent mountain bike when I moved to Indiana in 2001 and quickly realized how inefficient they were for the roads when I was passed routinely by a pack of road cyclists. They waited up for me one day and encouraged me to get a road bike. They told me it would change my life. That was a true statement.

My trusty steed

My trusty steed

I bought a really nice road bike and started out on my own. I had a lot to learn. It wasn’t long before I ran into that same group of riders. When I say, “ran into”, I mean they were passing me. They waited up again and they let me tag along for 20 miles. Over the next few months The Southern Indiana Wheelmen taught me the hand signs, the etiquette, the safety, and the beautiful addiction of road cycling. They treated me like a brother immediately and I’ll never forget it. I gradually started improving and learning how to pace myself on the steep ascents of the area. Then, when they thought I was ready (I wasn’t) they invited me to the Wednesday night drop ride. I asked, “What does that mean….drop ride?” My new friend said, “Well buddy, you need to know the way home because these boys are on a hammer fest and they won’t be waiting for anyone who gets dropped.” I did that ride with them every Wednesday for an entire season. There are zero stoplights, which means there is zero chance you will get back when you leave that last wheel. Fact: It wasn’t until the last month of that first year that I was able to hang on and complete the entire ride with the team.

Zach (again) as a child cyclist

Zach (again) as a child cyclist

Here is where Gina comes into the mix. We got married after a long-distance engagement when she was in school in Chicago and I was working in the hills of Southern Indiana. She moved in with me and she was quickly interested in my addition to riding bikes. We bought her a decent Fuji road bike and I started teaching her the ropes. What I didn’t tell you about Gina is that she’s extremely athletic, extremely driven, and extremely competitive.

Focused on her next pitch

Focused on her next pitch

I forgot to mention that she was an All-American, 4-year, full ride pitcher at I.U. (see beast mode picture). She was amazingly good and she has a Big Ten ring to prove it. You don’t know that because she is too humble to talk about it. Anyway, she HATED it when I rode past her up a hill. She HATED it when she got dropped. None of that lasted long. She got strong super quickly and it didn’t take her long to get comfortable with the new road bike. We rode every chance we could down there and we loved it. To us, it’s a blessing that we have something like cycling that we enjoy doing together. Special thanks to The Southern Indiana Wheelmen. It’s a great group of people down there and they put some serious miles in.

So, after a 2-year transfer in the U.K., Gina and I relocated back to Chicago in late 2008. We were looking for people to ride with when we bumped into Charlie Jollis one morning. Gina and I were taking donations and handing out candy for Misericordia on Fullerton and Damen. Charlie was at the stoplight headed south after the Saturday morning ride all kitted out in orange. We asked him where he came from and who he was riding with and the rest is history. Gina and I showed up the next week we quickly realized we had met the right group of people for us. We rode with the Spidermonkeys just about every week for the entire season from that point forward. We were asked to join the team late that year and we are so happy to be a part of it.

Teaching people road cycling is a gift, and it’s free. Those guys in Southern Indiana didn’t have to slow down and talk to me. They didn’t have to teach me the ropes when I got my road bike. Spidermonkeys did the same for us in Chicago. Gina and I truly appreciate the openness and friendliness of this group of people. Thanks for having us on your team.

North Shore Century 2014

North Shore Century 2014

MS Ride

MS Ride

 

Spidermonkey Spotlight – Monica Freiband

I wish I could say I was one of those people who found cycling at an early age and fell in love with it. However, aside from my favorite tricycle when I was 3 years old, I don’t hold  too many early memories of biking.

First bike

First bike

I began commuting via bicycle my senior year of high school on an old Cannondale road bike I had found while dumpster diving in Minneapolis. This bike became my sole means of transportation, and I was quick to pack it up with me when I moved to Chicago for college.

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I knew a few people in the cycling community from commuting over the years, and slowly became a regular at Johnny Sprockets due to the wear and tear Chicago weather takes on a bike. However, before long, I experienced what every bike commuter fears: being hit by a car. I had been in a few minor incidents before this, but nothing to scare me off of commuting before. This time was different. I was rear ended and sent flying into an intersection, resulting in road rash, 3 broken ribs, and a no-longer-rideable bike. This was enough to scare me off of a bike (not to mention at this point I didn’t have a working bike anymore anyways).

A few months later, I decided to run the 2014 Chicago Marathon, which was rather inevitable having come from a family of marathon runners. I had been having some knee pain, and was told that cycling was a great way to relieve some of the stress on the body. This was a scary thought, but I went over to BFF bikes, and Annie Byrne introduced me to my new bicycle, Walter, a Giant Liv Avail, and it was love at first sight. I also started to take spin classes at the YMCA, and met Roxanne Bowens. She turned into my “fairy bike godmother” as I call her, and introduced me to the Spidermonkeys (and just as important, she introduced me to Fireball).

I began to enjoy cycling more and more with all the Spidermonkey spins.  Before long, I met Michelle Moore and Kelly Clarke. They convinced me to try racing. I will never forget my first race. To give an idea of what a great team the Spidermonkeys are, a whole group of girls came out to Gapers Block the first night to encourage me. I was visibly nervous and hyperventilating…this all resulted in the patented “deer in the headlights” start line photo.

First race!

First race!

The whistle blew, and I quickly heard a girl from Half Acre say “Monica, get on my wheel and don’t let go!” So I did. I managed to stay in the entire race without getting dropped, which was more than I had anticipated. I got off my bike, turned to Michelle and Kelly, and said “THAT WAS SO FUN LET’S DO IT AGAIN!” I was hooked.

Monsters at the Midway 2015

Monsters at the Midway 2015

That first season of racing, I spent every single weekend racing, and every single week preparing to race. I quickly found myself wanting to spend every waking moment on my bike racing with my teammates.

I had never been so passionate about anything before. After living in Chicago for 7 years, I can safely say that becoming a Spidermonkey and learning how to race has been the highlight of my time in Chicago. It gave me new confidence, new energy, a new breath of life. For two years now I have worn a Spidermonkey kit with pride. No matter where in the world I am, I know that there is an amazing group of people who changed my outlook on cycling, a group of people who became my second family.

First WIN!

First WIN!

Snake Alley, my favorite race!

Snake Alley, my favorite race!

 

La Crosse Road Race 2016

La Crosse Road Race, Women’s 4
by Monica Freiband

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At the beginning of every race, officials break down rules for the day. I hate to admit that this has become slightly like the airline safety procedure where I tend to zone out. While previously this has not been an issue, the day of the Lacrosse road race proved different.

The neutral roll out was filled with chatter from cat 4 women who were attempting to stay warm on a cold morning. We started up the main road, and the official blew the whistle. Everyone began to fight for the perfect spot out of the strong head wind. We got settled and I found my comfy 3rd wheel spot. Not one minute later, the wheel I so comfily sat behind, had a mechanical.

As a beginner racer, I am still figuring out the “expect the unexpected” mentality, as I am focused on not getting dropped. As I watched the wheel in front of me come to a halt and the pedals on the bike stop turning, I had to think quickly. Do I attempt to go right, and risk getting to close to the woman next to me? Do I hit the brakes and hope the woman behind me does the same? Or do I go left and cross the yellow line?

I chose to go to the left, cross the yellow line, and go around the stalled bike in front of me. Not 5 seconds later, I heard a whistle.

The official rode up next to me on his moto and pulled me out of the pack. I was told I crossed the yellow line and that was means for disqualification. I began to argue, and tried to explain the situation. The official was less than pleased with me, using the “if that line were a ditch would you still have gone to the left?” argument.

I watched the pack get farther and farther from me, and felt the headwind get stronger and stronger as I became completely exposed. After arguing, I was told I could attempt to chase the pack (now having about a minute gap).

Not even one mile into the 27.3 mile race, I had been dropped off the back, and it didn’t take long to realize I would be riding the race solo. My blood was boiling, I was determined to catch the pack, but I just couldn’t close such a large gap by myself. My legs bonked after lap one, my torn meniscus in my knee began to swell, and admittedly I thought about just hopping in the next car I saw drive by and giving in. But I came around the last corner to hear my wonderful teammates cheering me on, and through the pain and tears (yes, there were tears), I rode through the finish.

It was not one of my finest races, both in how I finished and the way I handled myself. I was in my own head, I was angry and hurting, and I let it get the best of me. However, I did it, I finished, and it became a great learning experience for me: when your mind gives up, keep going, and ALWAYS follow the yellow line rule.

Ricky Bobby’s Tip of the Week

When you get near the front of the paceline, take note of the speed. When you get to the front, match that speed. If everybody does this, it makes for one helluva fun, smooth paceline. If you haven’t experienced this, it should be your new mission in life.

Ricky Bobby’s Tip of the Week

Sometimes the hardest part of a pull is getting to the back of the paceline. Remember to save some energy, your pull is not over until you make it all the way to the back. Don’t drop yourself!

Ricky Bobby’s Tip of the Week

Bad: Losing the wheel of the person in front of you, causing you and your teammates to get dropped from the group. Good: As soon as you start losing that wheel, you pull out of the paceline and let your teammates know. Best: Before you start losing that wheel, you pull the person behind you up to the back of that wheel. Be the Best!

Ricky Bobby’s Tip of the Week

Don’t sprint out of lights or turns. The person behind you will likely have a small gap and have to sprint harder. The person behind them will likely have a bigger gap and have to sprint even harder. Imagine the dude 30 people back! Think about that dude when you’re in the front.

Post WeiNeR Thoughts

Keep pedaling! Learn to soft pedal instead of no pedaling. When you stop pedaling, you instantly slow down and disrupt the paceline.

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