Category: SOTW (page 4 of 7)

Spidermonkey of the Week – Derek Barnett

Representing SMC in Tennessee, Cherohala Challenge 2012 – one of my favorite rides

Representing SMC in Tennessee, Cherohala Challenge 2012 – one of my favorite rides

by Derek Barnett

Hey Monkeys,

Derek B. here and JPC thought it was time for you to learn a little more about me since I’ve been hanging out with the troop since summer 2011.  I will try to be brief, but there is much to cover as I feel blessed to have had many great experiences on two wheels, perhaps the best of which is meeting this outstanding group of people that share a genuine love of all things cycling.  So with that, here is a little of my story, I hope you dig it.

Some of my earliest childhood memories involve a bike.  I can still remember the day when the training wheels came off the kiddie bike.  What a rush it was getting to ride up and down the street at ever increasing speeds without the annoying aero drag of those little stabilizing wheels dangling off my ride.  Of course, that leads to my next memory which is a trip to the ER due to an inevitable bike crash.  I do not recall the details of the crash since I was knocked unconscious from my head bouncing off the street curb.  I came to in the arms of my older sister carrying me while running to the awaiting family truckster…seriously, it was a ’78 Pontiac Safari Wagon…google it…you’re welcome.  Yes, it was the late ‘70s in Arkansas and that’s how we rolled.  My sister’s rescue effort was a touching moment, no doubt.  We weren’t big on wearing helmets back in the day, but the upside of the ordeal is that I got my first gnarly scar…a nice head gash which is still visible today.  I soon recovered and continued to hone my riding skills, and before long I was riding full size BMX bikes, including some with banana seats and mag wheels.  Yes, that’s how you rolled in Arkansas in the ‘80s.  The boys and I were quite the terror around the neighborhood, including wheelie contests (I was Boss back in the day), jumping homemade ramps, and riding dirt.

As I reached legal driving age, however, my interest in pedal power predictably shifted to an interest in horsepower.  Thus, cycling was put on hold for a few years until I was off to graduate school.

The summer before I left for The Ohio State University, I picked up a hardtail Trek mountain bike for commuting around campus, for which it worked well, especially after putting on some road slicks (see below).  My interest in road cycling probably can be traced back to my advisor in grad school.  He was relatively young in age, but definitely an old-school roadie at heart that rode many thousands of miles per year on a local built, custom steel frame sporting 5- or 6-speed Campy, down tube shifters, and sew‑ups.  His ride was so vintage (insert yo mama style joke here) that by the time I graduated, he could only source replacement drivetrain parts from specialty shops that specialize in hoarding NOS parts.

I can recall July days in the lab, where he would repeatedly step out to get an update on the TdF via the web, especially when the riders were approaching a climb on a decisive stage or Lance was about to take the start of a TT.  I initially did not really understand the fascination with Le Tour or his love of vintage bikes or tires that are glued to the rim and seem like a royal pain in the ass when you flat.  However, over time I learned more about the sport and started to get it…the craftsmanship that goes into a handmade frame, the tactics that go into a successful attack, the solo effort required for a time trial, and the ability of the peloton to reel in a breakaway with 1 km to go with surgical precision (most of the time).  If one could look past the dark underbelly of the sport, or accept that things in life are not perfect, one would see that the sport could be quite romantic.  Anyway, I was definitely intrigued.

I was introduced to serious road cycling during this period via “the breakfast ride”, an approximately 60 mile round trip ride from campus to a breakfast spot in rural, Amish country.  My advisor had invited me to join the group one Saturday, and I figured this would be easy, right?  I mean I have always been a decent athlete and I have been riding all my life.  So, what’s the big deal?  I showed up on my trusty Trek sporting the original knobby tires (the aftermath of this ride prompted the switch to road slicks) and thought I was the bomb.  I think I led the group out popping wheelies and sprinting light-to-light as we left campus.  Needless to say, I barely made it to the restaurant stop, let alone home…but, I made it and I had a new respect for road cycling.

After the aforementioned switch to road slicks on my Trek, I became more serious about commuting by bike and road riding in general.  I believe I did “the breakfast ride” a few more times during my time at OSU.  I also refused to buy a campus parking pass for my car my last two years, choosing instead to commute everyday using my Trek, including during the Ohio winters (HTFU).  Unfortunately, my commuting did have some scary moments, including getting hit by a car one night (thankfully a minor incident) and a nasty crash one morning resulting in a fractured shoulder scapula, apparently usually reserved for high speed car crashes or falls from a significant height.  I narrowly avoided surgery, but got to wear a sling for 8 or 10 weeks.  I don’t recommend working in a chemistry lab with one of your wings in a sling.  This was my first broken bone, and like my first “gnarly scar”, it was compliments of my bike.  So, in a way, I viewed it as paying my dues and getting some street cred, especially since it could have been much worse.

Fast forward to July 2003, and I am moving to Chicago for a new job.  I have a couple of weeks before I start working and, by now, I am into cycling (sans road bike) and have Tour fever big time.  So, I reward myself for the new job by buying my first road bike and before long, I am exploring all things Chicago by bike, including rides on the lakefront and north on Elston to the bike path leading to the Botanical Gardens.  I would ride the lakefront in the mornings during the week before work and ride to the Botanical Gardens on the weekends.  I think my longest, unsupported solo ride back in the day was an 88 mile ride from Wicker Park to North Chicago.  Not long after, I did the North Shore Century (my first century)…then the Harmon Hundred, the Wheeling Wheelmen, The Apple Cider, and many more century rides in the area.

Then something cool happened…I discovered group riding, more particularly, group riding on the North Shore out of Plaza del Lago.  What a scene this place was on weekend mornings!  The rush of riding in the pack and looking down at your computer showing 28 mph and it felt like you were barely working.  Needless to say, I was hooked as evidenced by my early wake up calls on the weekend to meet the group to ride.  I rode with this group for a couple of seasons and during this time also discovered some great rides out of state in TN, CO, CA, HI, and AR.

Copper Triangle in Colorado – another one of my favs

Copper Triangle in Colorado – another one of my favs

On the Queen K in Kona

On the Queen K in Kona

Fast forward to summer of 2007 and I am moving to Milwaukee.  My riding was once again relegated to solo rides as I was still commuting to Chicago 4 days a week for work and finding time to connect with a group in Milwaukee proved difficult.  My “city loop” was a 40 mile ride that included riding to the coffee shop on the lakefront.  Then one weekend day, while riding the “city loop”, something truly amazing happened.  I randomly met someone on the ride who would quickly become one of my closest friends, and it was him that would later tell me about this cool group of cyclists in Chicago called Spidermonkeys.

The abridged version is as follows.  It was a weekend morning on the “city loop” and I was riding to breakfast.  I first saw “Jim” up ahead on an open stretch of road where I would normally sprint.  I thought to myself what a nice carrot to have in front of me…I can catch that guy.  Sure enough, I did and as I went by he hailed me down, “Hey!  Do you know the way to the ferry?”  “Sure, what’s up?”, I replied.  Well, it turns out Jim struck out solo at 4:30 am from the north side of Chicago on his way to Milwaukee to then catch the ferry over to Michigan for vacation with his family that next week.  Jim wanted to get in a solo century before vacay.  Needless to say, I was impressed and seeing how Jim was ahead of schedule, I invited him to join me for breakfast.  The rest, as they say, is history.

After breakfast, I showed Jim to the ferry landing and he was on his way across Lake Michigan.  Over the course of the next year, we stayed in touch, did a few rides together, and became good friends forming a friendship over all things cycling, but more importantly, over shared life experiences.  Fast forward to spring of 2011 and I am moving back to Chicago during a dark period on the personal front.  Jim was my biggest supporter during this time and helped me when I needed it.  I will always believe that our “chance” meeting on the road that random weekend morning had nothing to do with chance.  You know those impactful moments in life when special things happen and people enter your life and its course is forever changed?  This was one of those moments for me and it was made possible because of riding my bicycle.

Jim knew I was looking for a cycling group in Chicago, and he told me about the “Spidermonkeys”.  He had met Dean and Vanessa (Denessa or Vean ?) several years ago at the MS ride and thought they were the bee’s knees.  He had also seen the group at the Easter Ride and had ridden as a guest on one or two weekend rides.  He told me they were a great group and that I should look into joining.  I emailed Vanessa and showed up one Saturday at Element and the rest, as they say, is history.

Since that first Saturday group ride, it has been many group rides, the MS ride, VQ, Gold Sprints, happy hours, dock parties, off-off broadway theatre, and the year end bash.  I am even a “runner” now and will be doing my first marathon later this year!  Who knows I might be racing before this season is over or doing triathlons.  Oh yeah, don’t forget VEGAS!  This year was my first year making the trip, and what a fantastic time!  The riding was awesome and it was great getting to better know the group.  I am already looking forward to the trip next year!!

Needless to say, I have been inspired and truly impressed with the quality of people that I have met during my short tenure with the Spidermonkeys.  The support, camaraderie, and inclusive nature of the group is awesome and has been on display since my first Saturday group ride!  As silly as it may sound, I feel very fortunate to have found this group of awesome people who share a genuine love for cycling (and running…and swimming…and generally having a good time).  I am really looking forward to 2013 and getting to know more of the Troop.  I am soo excited!!!

Cheers,

Derek

p.s. e-craps anyone?

Ride with Levi Leipheimer in Sonoma - [ahem…he wanted some tips on his TT position]

Ride with Levi Leipheimer in Sonoma – [ahem…he wanted some tips on his TT position]

Lunch with Levi…[convinced him he should go with the preying mantis position]

Lunch with Levi…[convinced him he should go with the preying mantis position]

 

Pulling DJ Ryan around all day…except for the finish…thanks – 2012 MS ride, day 2

Pulling DJ Ryan around all day…except for the finish…thanks – 2012 MS ride, day 2

 

Spidermonkey of the Week – Aaron Byrnes

CX!

CX!

by Aaron Byrnes

Cycling has been important to me since my Senior year of high school when I moved to Los Angeles, Ca. I bought a nice used Trek 940 with a fork shock and started mountain biking. This was my first time I ever felt homesick and I spent a lot of time riding north along the coast from Venice.

Cycling has remained an important part of my life since then. It has been a source of adventure and bonding for family. In 1998 my father and I toured southern Ireland on MTB’s riding from town to town and glen to glen. We rode up the highest passes and all the way down to the coast.

Ireland!

Dingle, Ireland

After moving back to Chicago I found my bikes hanging on the wall and the pounds gaining on my ass. During a summer out of work after an auto accident, I was able to ride almost every day, usually alone or with my friend Sabin West. One Wednesday I bumped into a Spidermonkey WNR at Roscoe Village Bikes and joined in. I was drawn to the club’s friendly educational and safety-first approach to group rides and cycling.

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Jackson Park!

Since joining Spidermonkey Cycling about 2 years ago I have begun racing cyclocross most weekends and entered my first criterium race the following summer. I am currently a manager at Kozy’s Cyclery on Halsted. If you are in the area please stop in and say hello.

Ca Caw!

Guest Spidermonkey of the Week – Jim Twomey aka JT

JT and the Spidermonkeys!

JT and the Spidermonkeys!

by Jim Twomey

Prior to the Spring Invasion of Spidermonkeys in Henderson, NV, I was asked to share some background with the group.  As some of you know, I own and help run JT’s Bicycle. May 1st, we will be here 7 years.

But to back up some…  I grew up in New Jersey and one my favorite things to do was to go riding with my friends. We would ride until we were lost and then try to find our way home. Still a technique I enjoy.  Flash forward, I graduated from college in NJ and was supposed to teach high school English. I found that I liked teaching the students, but I couldn’t relate to the teachers (they were mostly much older than myself).  So I proceeded to fall into many jobs, too many to list. OK I’ll list the major ones:  school bus driver, taxi dispatcher, real estate salesman, studio photographer, x-ray equipment repairman, Marketing Director for a multi-national, Owner of an x-ray equipment & service company in New England, Professor teaching Small Business courses at Gainesville City College in Florida (along the way I had gotten my MBA), Program Manager for a Bio Tech Company (making parts from cadavers), RV salesman, District Manager for a major commercial air conditioning manufacturer and finally opened the bike shop I had day dreamed about for about 30 years.  The list is in correct chronological order. The important part of my history that I haven’t touched upon is Kathi Twomey.  My wife and I have been married 35 years counting the two times we have been married to each other (4 year hiatus about 15 years ago).  We have one daughter, one son-in-law and two grandchildren, all living in Las Vegas and a big part of our life.

My biking experience began with a trick knee cap that dislocated during almost any kind of sporting activity and it even dislocated once while stepping out of the car. My sports surgeon recommended that I take up cycling to alleviate the pain in my knee. I went that day to my local bike shop and bought a bike. I was in my mid- thirties and overweight and out of shape.  Needless to say it was work at first, but like millions of others, I was hooked.  I started riding out of a bike shop called Fat Dog Pro Cycle in MA. The owner was pretty “picky”.  You had to clean your bike before you brought it in for a tune-up. As a former racer, he taught me a lot about riding. I started riding with a group in MA called MAC, short for Mad About Cycling. Before I moved from MA to Florida, I spent two years as the president of MAC.  In Gainesville I rode with a very large and active club. Most weekend rides had 100+ riders. Outside Gainesville it was all tree farms and horse farms (no traffic). There was also some great single track along the Swanee River.

When my wife and I moved to Henderson from Florida, we took six months to travel around the  U.S and western Canada. We had a full size van with two road bikes and two mtb’s in back. We pulled a travel trailer behind the van and every town we stopped at we would visit the local bike shop.  Our standard question was “what’s good riding, mountain bike or road”.  I can say without any qualifications that this was the best 6 months of my life.  My wife would agree.

One of my favorite things to do is going on bike vacations.  I have done about a dozen of these all over the U.S. and Canada. My last one was Ragbrai, the oldest and biggest of them all. Two years ago I rode with a group from Henderson called Team Durkin.  We rode across Iowa along with 20,000 other cyclists.  One of my favorites (not too far from Chicago) was the Tour of Indiana.

RAGBRAI!

RAGBRAI!

The short history of the Spidermonkey training camps in Las Vegas begins with Dean and his dad coming to JT’s Bicycle about 4 years ago. Dean and I discussed the possibility of several Spidermonkeys coming to Henderson to do some spring training. I had recently begun renting bikes so it looked like a good fit. Dean asked me if there was anyone that could lead some local rides since the group would be unfamiliar with the area. I volunteered to act as guide, although it might be guiding from the back of the pack. I believe the first year there were 7 people (not exactly sure).  Fortunately, we had very good weather and the rides turned out well. Last year we had 16 rentals and 1 or 2 people brought their own bike. One day was windy and cold and all the locals were crying about the weather, but it was no big deal for the Spidermonkeys. Our last day, we rode the Red Rock Loop and the weather cooperated for a nice send-off ride. This year we have 18 rentals so far from the Spidermonkeys and I’m not sure if anyone is bringing their bike. I will be adding a few Bianchi bikes to my rental fleet and probably 4 or 5 of the Spidermonkeys will be riding brand new 2013 Bianchi bikes when they are out here.  I will post the Spidermonkey Rides on the Green Valley Cyclists club calendar and we will probably have a group of riders from the club join in. I know the locals that rode last year and the year before enjoyed the rides.  Personally, I have ridden with many different groups, but I think the Spidermonkeys are some of  the nicest of all time.

The City of Henderson is working towards the designation of “Bike Friendly Community” from the League of American Wheelmen. The City Manager bought a bike from me and he commutes to work every day.  The city has built both great paved paths and dirt trails. On March 9th there is a grand opening of a dirt trail called the McCullough Hills Trail. It starts just up the hill from our shop (about 4 blocks) and it is about 7 ½ miles in one direction. It was built by the City of Henderson and has a rest stop about halfway out. It is not technical but some good climbing. They will be building single track off the main trail in the future. We think that this area will become a very popular mtb area in the next few years.

Eric on Armagosa Trail

Eric on Armagosa Trail

I guess that’s about all I can think of to share. I’ve got my Spidermonkey jerseys ready to go and I’m hoping that you guys and gals haven’t had much chance to ride over  the winter.  I can always sweep.

 

Spidermonkey of the Week – Michael Montali

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Hello Spidermonkey’s! It’s Mike, or maybe you might know me as “the other Mike,” or more likely, “another Mike,” or most likely, if at all, “that one dude.” I started with the team early last spring and am really glad to have joined Spidermonkey Cycling!

I started with bicycles at some very young age when one of the older kids on the block asked to ride my scooter. He had a bike and told me to try it. I didn’t know how to ride bikes but I threw a leg over it, rolled down a small hill and started pedaling. The balance and ability to judge the momentum all came to me in a flash and I was off! So in an instant, and fairly unexpectedly, I opened my account in the world of 2 wheeled machines without the need for training wheels or parental encouragement. Pretty lucky I think!

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I must admit that aside from a few events, I’ve never been involved in much organized cycling…but have always made bikes a major priority in my life. I’ve enjoyed many years of mountain biking, year-round urban commuting, and bicycle camping adventures.

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(L) – From a 2011 camping trip to southern Illinois, there’s a rack under there somewhere. (R) – My mountain bike and v-dub.

Possibly the most interesting part of my cycling history is the fact that I did several stints as a Chicago bike messenger through my 20’s. Hey, I know messengers are sometimes questionable members of the cycling community (especially back then when more abundant) but when you’re involved, it’s a hell of an adventure and there are some unbelievable characters out there. One winter day in the mid 90’s, I was walking around the loop applying for crummy service jobs and I saw these guys whizzing around on bikes delivering packages. I thought to myself “hey, I can do that!” and so I threw out my pitiful little stack of resume’s and signed on to be a courier. Thinking back, it was an awesome evolution through the world of urban biking and bikes in general. I started out on a hybrid specialized with knobby tires. In the messenger world you learn fast about how to get fast because you are paid by the delivery. Profitability involves everything from equipment upgrades to paying off the security guard at the dock so he’ll let you use the back elevator to grab a package. I bought a pair of “slicks” and eventually moved to a nicer aluminum mountain bike. Then I bought a road bike and made many refinements to it. I bought technical clothing and added clipless pedals. And then, because it was the ultimate, I bought a track bike with no brakes. When you ride that many miles, it’s fun to change things up and/or have a quiver of bikes. I really enjoyed the fitness that came with riding all day and the toughness involved in braving the elements. I used to joke that I was a professional athlete because I was paid to ride all day. Of course, it was very dangerous and lacked health coverage. I got into a few accidents but became agile enough on the bike that I was able to avoid major injuries. I remember once that I was hit by a car and stayed up, it just knocked me into a new direction and I kept going.

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My early days of bike messengering. ( L) – (1996) Hybrid bike, lock on frame, knobby tires, chuck’s, no clips, no helmet, jalapeno bandana to hold radio, cut-off swat pants and long johns. (R) – (1997) aluminum bike with neck shock, new timbuktu bag, and waterproof Sugoi pants.

The messenger gig gave me the tools, experience, and attitude I needed to be a year-round bicycle commuter. I changed a lot of flats! I really dislike waiting for public transportation and so when I chose to go back to school, I rode my bike everyday and everywhere. Once, I broke a bone in my foot and had to wear one of those stabilizing boots. I ended up velcroing my crutch to the frame of my bike and pedaling with one foot clipped in and the boot resting on the pedal. It worked great, even in the snow!

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My first real road bike Midori, a green Peugeot, (L) now deceased. And current bike (R), a Trek Madone.

I’ve been a big fan of professional bike racing since the late nineties. The first race I remember starting to learn and understand race rules and tactics was the 1997 TDF won by Jan Ulrich. My favorite cyclist became Marco Pantani (The Pirate) and he won the Giro and TDF the next year. The Lance Armstrong years were a lot of fun to follow because of the great national buzz and the spotlight it gave the sport…despite the mess it’s all become.

It’s never occurred to me to participate in racing myself, I guess mostly because even when I rode everyday and was pretty thin, my body type is just not that of a cyclist (more like a bowler now!). But that ability and time spent in the saddle never really goes away. It’s awesome when you find new ways to keep cycling in your life! So I started doing rides with SMC.

I can truly say that it was an awesome experience the first time I went on a ride with the Spidermonkey’s. To have the chance to emulate a sport that I’ve watched closely for many years, and one that’s impossible to replicate on your own, it made me wish I had started sooner.

I really want to thank the ride leaders and other team members for all they do to provide great rides, the team experience, and useful tips (or offer a wheel to a temporarily winded teammate). Dean, Vanessa, John, Brandon, Drew, Stephanie, Josh, Mike, and Trent all come to mind. And thanks to DJ Ryan, who is my longtime friend, cycling buddy, and the one who brought me into Spidermonkey world.

I really like post-ride beer too!

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DJ Ryan and I overserved at the Harvest Ale dock party!

Spidermonkey of the Week – Dania Lees

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by Dania Lees

I like to go fast…. I had my first date on a bike when I was in college at the University of Arizona.  I had pain in my knees with running, drinking too much beer (is that possible?) and had gained the “freshman fifteen” and then some.  I met a great friend who told me to buy a mountain bike. I went to the bike shop, fell in love with a purple aluminum Raleigh. Didn’t try it, didn’t rent it, just bought it… shoes, helmet and all. But NO spandex, that’s where I drew the line. Spent that night with the bike in the living room and my husband teaching me to clip in and out while he held the bike upright.  I showed up the next morning for a group ride.  The minute we started to pedal fast, my heart began to race, the adrenaline hit a level it had never been before… and I was in love.  I knew I had to keep up; otherwise I would be stranded in the desert in the middle of nowhere. Forty miles later, I finished the ride and the rest is history. I spent the rest of that year between graduating from college and starting medical school on a bike in Arizona, one of the best years of my life.

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The Chicago journey begins in the fall of 2000 when I began medical school at Loyola.  I wouldn’t see a bike or touch a bike until that following April.  Found myself getting the winter doldrums that happens in this town, so I decided to show up for a random group ride in April, meeting at the Clock Tower on the lake front.  Needless to say I had an exam to study for that night and needed to be back in a few hours, I was on a mission to go fast.  We didn’t go fast… it was a soft, mild pace at 13 mph up to the Botanical Gardens.  3 hours later we reach our turn around point where the ride leader says its time to go in and eat lunch… I said, “screw this” and flew home with 2 strangers that also shared that desire to go fast. Luckily, one of them had found another ride that met at Higher Gear in the city and we tried that ride the following week. I met a guy named Dean who seemed very friendly and started riding with that group throughout medical school and residency. We spent hours on the bike, chatting, goofing off, happy hours after a hot ride etc.  I was happy again…

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After residency and into my career as an Emergency Room Physician, Dean and Vanessa have this great idea to start Spidermonkey Cycling.  I of course jumped right in! However, one thing kept getting in the way…. I kept getting knocked up! I remember I would promise Dean and Vanessa “after this baby I am done, and don’t you worry, I will be back on the bike!” Meanwhile, I would read all the wonderful emails and watch the club grow into an amazing team.  Three pregnancies in three years, I missed a lot of rides.  Biking however took a whole knew meaning to me with a family. It was the way to recharge and I knew if I caught a group ride, I would be a better mom that day, a better wife, and a happier person.

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Our journeys have taken us to live up north in Glencoe, right off of Green Bay and Scott, the place I knew to be the last part of Green Bay where I usually was so excited, exhausted, but knew I had to push hard and once I turned left on Scott I could usually take a breath. We are just getting settled in with 3 kids under the age of 4.   Working as an ER doctor and a mother of 3, I may not get to be at every team event, BBQ, etc. But I am not going to give up riding. You may see some girl dressed in an old Spidermonkey jersey, soft pedaling on Sheridan on a Saturday morning, just waiting to be swept up in a sea of orange and black…… Because I still like to go fast!

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Spidermonkeys of the Week – Amy Ancheta and Jonny Kloppenburg

Amy and Jonny at the Hilly Hundred

Amy and Jonny at the Hilly Hundred

by Amy Ancheta and Jonny Kloppenburg

Hey Spidermonkeys!  It’s Jonny and Amy and we’d love to share a little bit about us, us cycling, and a few other things in between (really, we do other stuff besides ride bikes!). Let’s start at the beginning.  Join us as we step into our time machine and travel back 20-some odd years. C’mon, it’ll be fun!  [cue: harp music]

It’s Memorial Day, 1984 and little Jonny’s parents had (only recently) managed to divert his attention from operating light-duty yard maintenance equipment, long enough to learn to ride a bicycle.  It was a modest beginning, highlighted by non-inflatable, solid plastic, squared-off ‘tires,’ He-Man decals and NO training wheels for this guy!  Little Jonny really enjoyed cycling and to his parents relief, he gave up (briefly?) climbing to / jumping from eaves, ‘lighting off’ bottle rockets and leaving home for unsupervised midnight meanderings.

Jonny on the tractor

Jonny on the tractor

Little Jonny on his first bike

Little Jonny on his first bike

Moving on a couple of years, it’s 1986 and young Amy is riding around the driveway on the handlebars of her sister’s bicycle.  This isn’t just any bicycle guys, it has a pink banana seat and really tall handlebars deep enough sit in while her sister pedals.  They sing the “name game” song with the names of everyone in their family but always end on their dad’s name because it’s AWESOME and cracks them up!  “Caesar Caesar bo beasar banana fana fo feaser me my mo measer CAESAR!”

Little did little Jonny and young Amy know, their two-wheeled paths would cross and intertwine, many years down the road…

Flash forward to 2007 when Jonny’s cousin throws a party and invites him and all her best friends. They talk and Amy impresses Jonny with her knowledge of bicycles.  She asks if he has a Chrome Bag and whether he “winterizes” his bicycle for his commute to work when it snows (Jonny doesn’t have any idea what Amy’s talking about!).  Nevertheless, Jonny is intrigued and finds himself interested in Amy…

They end up spending lots of time together; this includes riding bikes and many other things.  If you ask Jonny, he’ll tell you he likes anything with wheels that goes around a track.  This can be translated into lots of things: Little 500, NASCAR, IndyCar, mountain biking, monster trucks, etc. If you ask Amy, she’ll say she’s pretty much cool with whatever.  She likes cooking (especially baking pies), yoga, drinking Old Fashioneds and entertaining.

Often times, their activities include any combination of these things but they usually include bringing bikes.  Don’t even ask how many times Amy’s car has broken down and been towed with bikes on the Yakima rack! One particular trip they enjoyed was to the Michigan International Speedway for the Sprint Cup (NASCAR).  While most spectators stay in their campers overnight and spend the day decorating Christmas Trees with ornaments expertly hewn from aluminum Miller Lite cans, Jonny and Amy rose early from their light-weight, 2-person tent and set out on a road ride into the beautiful Irish Hills.

NASCAR!

NASCAR!

Another great trip was the 10th Mountain Division Hut Trip snowshoeing with friends.  During WWII, the 10th Mountain Division constructed a network of backcountry huts while training for alpine combat.  These days, you can reserve, and hike to these remote and beautiful locations.  Most of the group brought backcountry survival gear, such as: avalanche beacons, food and clothing.  Not the case for Jonny and Amy; they hauled inflatable snow-tubes to the top of the mountain so they could sled 8 miles back to the car.

10th Mountain Division Hut Trip

10th Mountain Division Hut Trip

Yosemite backpacking!

Yosemite backpacking!

Banff backpacking!

Banff backpacking!

Apostle Islands sea kayaking

Apostle Islands sea kayaking

On to the important stuff!  How did they get here?

After a few years of long rides with Jonny, Amy had become comfortable with riding on someone’s wheel and learned the basics of cycling etiquette.  Most weekends, they would take their standard route up to the northern suburbs, through Ft. Sheridan, to St. Marys, to Buckley Rd, and past Abbott labs.  A couple of times on their way up north, they rode near a big group in orange team kits that took a similar route to Highland Park.  One day in early spring, they were out for a ride and stopped at a coffee shop in Highland Park (Perfect Blend) to have a coffee.  There were two cyclists at the table next to them talking about work and coincidentally turned out to work in the same industry as Jonny.  They got to talking and the girl (Vanessa) was really friendly and invited Amy to the Tuesday girls ride.  Amy had never ridden with a group and certainly never with a group of all girls. That next week, she mustered up the courage to go to the girl’s ride. When she got to the meeting point, everyone was really nice and welcoming and one girl (Katie Isermann) talked to her the ENTIRE way up to Evanston.  When they got to Sheridan just before the temple, Vanessa asked if Amy if she had ever ridden in a pace line.  Of course she hadn’t but Vanessa talked her through the basics and they were off!  Amy was so impressed by how strong and FAST these girls were!  That day Amy called Jonny and was so happy about having joined the ride, and SO impressed with this awesome group of girls.  Amy even told him how she took a turn in the “pull line” [which, BTW is known to everyone else as a pace line – I will never live that down…].

Amy's first MTB race (WORS)

Amy’s first MTB race (WORS)

Fried chicken at the Hilly Hundred

Fried chicken at the Hilly Hundred

After meeting the Spidermonkeys, our lives have totally changed!  We have enjoyed countless group rides with great ride leaders who always wait / pull you up if you get dropped (thanks Dean!), give you a push if you look tired (thanks Josh!), inspire you to be faster than you thought a girl could ever be (ALL the ladies!!).  It has been great to get to know the long time members and the new ones too.  Tuesday nights wouldn’t be the same without running stairs with Drew, Steph, and Tim.  Thanks to everyone who has been so welcoming (Castro, Captain Jack, Paul D., Trent, the Meyers, Kristi and Crushman, Scott n’ Rox, DJ Ryan, Wrigley, Fenway, and too many others to name).  Most recently, this past year got even better when a Belgian cycling team lent us their teammate.  Mountain and fat biking wouldn’t be the same without the one-and-only, Belgian Horseman, Jan!

Jan mtb'ing with Amy and Jonny

MTB’ing with Jan in the Kettles

By the numbers: 3 years of team rides, 1 year of club dues (Jonny), countless girls rides, muffins, espressos, 1 ugly jersey win, a dip in Lake Michigan after 3 Floyds, 1 season of ridiculously irritating spoke-beads-on-carbon, and 90+ friends later…we’re delighted to finally make it official.  Thanks Spidermonkeys for being such a great team, we are looking forward to 2013!

Spidermonkey of the Week – Marty Killeen

Marty!

Marty!

by Marty Killeen

Quick Facts:
Name: Marty Killeen
Place of Birth: Manchester, England
Cities lived in: Manchester, Nottingham, London, Chicago.
Nationality: Dual USA and UK

I was actually more of a skateboarder than biker as a kid, despite having a BMX I didn’t really ride it half as much as I would ride my Powell McGill skateboard. By my own modest admission, I was a pretty good skateboarder, one that could easily ollie a Coke Supercan – anyone remember those? It was a really tall can of coke!

I really got into cycling after deciding to sell my Vespa that I used to scoot around the streets of London on. I used the money from the Vespa to buy a  Marin Mill-Valley Hybrid, not only was this the catalyst for my love affair with bikes, but I also found it safer than weaving in and out of London traffic at 30 mph on a Vespa! Moving up the ranks from daily commuter to avid road biker was fun, I was even one of those guys that had aero bars on a commuter bike for my first century ride.

Living in London for 10 years, the cycling was awesome, the ability to be in the rolling countryside so close to a huge city is amazing. Cycling in London itself is also really good, especially early in the morning, along the River Thames to a park in London called Richmond Park. If anyone gets chance to ride the circuit  of this park and hammer it around the 8 mile loop you definitely should. It has great climbs, descents, all out flat sections and beautiful scenery to observe – Just watch out for the deer, you always come off second best when they run out in front of you…

Richmond Park Cycling during the Olympic test event

Richmond Park Cycling during the Olympic test event

English countryside riding

English countryside cycling

Moving to Chicago in early 2008 was an exciting time, I had a special wooden box made for my bike to be shipped across the Atlantic and I followed over the pond aboard the Queen Mary, seriously, just me and my dog. The wife was sensible and flew.

Not knowing the cycling landscape in Chicago, I gravitated to riding the LFP, but like most, got really bored of the crowds and needed to get out on the open road. In mid-2008, some of the guys at RVB suggested I should join up with the SM’s. It was a great opportunity to meet new people and improve my cycling ability, back in London I didn’t belong to a club I just used to cycle with friends (singular) – the thrill and excitement of riding in a group was and still is really enjoyable. In addition to both the openness of the team and seamless capability  to make new friends with similar interests, it’s the perfect motivator to drag your ass out of bed early on a Saturday and Sunday morning.

After a full year’s hiatus from cycling throughout 2011, due to an unhealthy obsession with golf, I joined forces with the SM’s again in 2012 – there was plenty of new faces and many old ones, but what was incredible was the growth of the club and the obvious hard work Dean, Vanessa and notable others put in to making the club the best in Chicago.

I can’t wait to kick off 2013 again….these winter months are killing me.

 

Spidermonkeys of the Week – Megan Kuzydym and Brian Feyereisen

End of Year Bash .. Megan and Brian!

End of Year Bash .. Megan and Brian!

by Megan Kuzydym and Brian Feyereisen

Megan:  Instead of telling you I knew, at age 5, that I would be a lifelong cyclist, I’m going to tell you the truth: I don’t really have many bike memories. My driveway was much too small to ride around and I lived in a lakeside community, which meant the traffic in the summertime looked similar to traffic on LSD when the President comes into town. So obviously, my parents were convinced my sister and I would be run over. Especially me since I’m clearly not large enough to be well-noticed.

Brian:  Growing up on a small lake in Central Wisconsin involved waterskiing and wakeboarding all summer and ice hockey in winter.  Skateboarding was much more popular than biking in the small village of Random Lake.  Thrasher magazine, mullets and field parties were my main interest.  My Huffy Rock Rhino mountain bike was purely used as a mode of transportation to baseball and soccer practice.

Megan:  I went to Indiana University, home of the infamous Little 500 bike race, but chose to spend my college years determining how close I could get to the really drunk/sick line without crossing over it. I also learned some stuff too. The thought of training for the Little 500 by riding through the hills of southern Indiana (Hilly Hundred, anyone?) wasn’t at all enticing.

Brian:  After graduating from UW-Milwaukee, I refused to grow up.  I worked some random jobs to fund my real passion, bar league softball, which I participated in up to six nights a week.  Eventually I realized I couldn’t turn my softball passion into a career so I decided it was time to grow up.  Growing up involved the beginnings of my current career as Commercial Director for an energy company, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners.  My career has involved three year stints in Charleston, SC, Houston, TX and now Chicago for the last four years.  My job involves a lot of travel and dinners with clients several nights a week.  I realized if I wanted to continue wearing the same size jeans as I did since high school, I was going to need to begin exercising.  Since running shoes were easy to travel with, running became my new passion.  I signed up for my first marathon, the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon in the fall of 2007.  Nine marathons later with a PR of 3:21 I was burning out.

L: The extent of our bike riding in 2010 – Vail Pass in Colorado
R: Yes, we are wearing sandals riding our bikes around Chicago in 2010

Megan:  When I moved to Chicago after graduating, I swore off dating for a while. That same weekend, I met my new boyfriend (Brian). He was really ridiculously good-looking (and active). Running, cycling, snowboarding, water-skiing – you name it, he was good at it.  I decided, about 6 months after we met, to try being active too. I bought a hybrid Specialized but it was too heavy to keep up with Brian and his fancy road bike. So I took up running and ran through October 2011 when I got sick. My condition caused my leg to swell and running became extremely uncomfortable. So instead, I hopped on a spin bike. I loved spinning and the effort it required. I bought a fancier bike, hoping I’d enjoy riding outside as much as spinning.  I went for some solo rides, but it wasn’t nearly as much fun as I’d thought.

L: The Nashville Marathon in 2011
R: The Fox Valley Half-Marathon in 2010

Brian:  After completing the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati in the spring of 2012, I knew it was time to try something different as marathon burn out had fully set in.  While running the Lakefront trail I noticed a lot riders in black suits (I know now these are called kits) that said xXx,  I thought they looked cool so I looked them up online and decided to join one of their Saturday morning group rides.  I showed up with my freshly polished 2003 Specialized Allez that I hadn’t ridden in well over three years (other than to the grocery store).  I was decked out in my mountain bike helmet and the finest mountain bike jersey I owned.  xXx turned out to be a great group of RACERS who welcomed me, but the sprints to Highland Park and back weren’t quite what I had in mind.  That was when my amazing fiancée, Megan rode the Tuesday morning Girl’s Ride with a new group she discovered called the Spidermonkeys.  She returned from the ride glowing about this wonderful group of girls who helped her on her first successful group ride.  By this time, I had decided it was time to buy a new road bike and trade in my mountain bike gear for some new road gear if I wanted to take this whole cycling thing seriously.  I started to ride the Spidermonkey Saturday group rides and I was immediately hooked.  I found exactly what I was looking for with the Spidermonkeys; a great group of friends who all happen to enjoy cycling.  You’re pretty quick too!

Megan:  At this time, Brian had been on some xXx group rides and talked about being part of a team – which appealed to me.  Not too much camaraderie in spin class. I  went on a Chicago Cycling Club Beginner’s Ride – which was not for beginners. I got dropped in Skokie, called Brian crying and he told me to pedal myself back the way I came (what a sweetheart ;-) ).  Riding back home alone gave me time to think and I became stubbornly convinced that I was going to figure this whole cycling thing out.  I searched online for a women’s or beginners ride and came across the Tuesday Morning Girl’s Ride.  I contacted Vanessa who was so welcoming right from the start.  Rebecca stayed with me at the back on my first ride and I returned home with a sense of accomplishment.  I was hooked.  I convinced Brian to go on a Spidermonkey Saturday ride with Drew Randall and we never looked back.

North Shore Century

After completing the North Shore Century – Megan looks happier than she was! (I was so cold!!)

Both:  We can’t say it hasn’t been hard (hellloooo North Shore Century), but it has definitely been worth every second.  We’re so excited for 2013 and all the new experiences including Vegas and the MS 150. We couldn’t have asked for a friendlier, awesome group of people to spend multiple hours with every weekend.  And when JPC asked us to be the SOTW couple, well, we knew we’d finally found a cycling home.

Caw caw!

Spidermonkey of the Week – Tim Hogan

TH_COLLAGE

Bike Collage (clockwise from top left): halfway point of NSC with Katzfey, pulling two kids in the 2011 Bike the Drive, 2011 NSC finish, Thanksgiving ride with Jack Cahillane in Peoria, once at work bike stays close to desk—no more theft!

By Tim Hogan

My Specialized Rockhopper was stolen in 1998, and a cyclist friend of mine suggested I take a trip to Johnny Sprockets and invest in an entry road bike or a hybrid. Having spent the previous two years going over the bars in the Kettles and Palos Hills, I thought maybe a change would be good. I bought a Jamis Aurora with drops—which I hadn’t ridden a drop-bar bike since my 1986 Schwinn Traveller. (Thanks to 80’s movies like Quicksliver, Breaking Away and American Fliers, as well as a trip to the Little 500, I regularly donned my Campagnolo cycling cap and sped through the mean streets of Palatine like a zit-faced Kevin Bacon). I rode the crap out of that Jamis, including my first distance ride from Elgin to Lake Geneva with a group of fellow cycling buddies. Sadly, after some 11 years of service, the Jamis was stolen while locked to a fence outside of a bar in Wicker Park. I replaced it with a temporary $100 single speed I bought off Craigslist, which was in turn stolen from a neighbor’s garage whom I had loaned it to. Not to be dissuaded, I found an inexpensive Swobo commuter and a good lock. Along with a Burley trailer, this is the rig I typically use to pull one or more of my three my kids to school.

I began regularly commuting to and from work in 1999 and continue commuting by bike to this day. In addition to the health benefits and having more energy throughout the day, riding to work allows me to sort through things on my way in and decompress on my home. It’s also become an unexpected way to meet people, usually at stop lights along the Elston express. On one trip heading into work I noticed a guy riding an orange Voodoo frame and I decided to ask him about it. We rode together for a few miles and realized we had a lot in common—including having recently finished the miserable North Shore Century in the rain the week before. Turned out he has two kids eerily close in age to two of mine, and lived less than a block away. His name was Matt Katzfey and he suggested I come out for a Spidermonkey ride, which I did that very next weekend. (Ironically this would be the last I saw of Katzfey for almost 6 months). The timing was perfect, since the indie group I had been riding with for the past few years was starting to train pretty seriously for the Wisconsin Triple Crown and I wouldn’t have the time to dedicate to training for those rides, but I still wanted to join regular rides.

In addition to my day job as a creative director, I serve on the board of an organization called EPIC—an organization dedicated to pairing creative professionals with nonprofits that need their help most. So when I saw that Spidermonkey assembled a team and raised money for the MS Ride, I knew this would be a good fit, and decided to join. Being my first exposure to an organized cycling club, I had no idea what to expect, but I liked the combination of competitive and recreational male and female cyclists that don’t take themselves too seriously. In 2012, I participated in the Easter Ride, plenty of WNR and weekend club rides, the Tour de Farms and the North Shore Century. I was able to raise almost $1,800 in the fight against MS (look out Decker!), and consider it to be the highlight of my summer. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know people on the team, and have continued coming out as much as work and family allow—It’s been a great opportunity for me to improve at my own pace, which as of recently includes ass-kicking sessions at VisionQuest. Who knows, maybe my 40’s will be the decade I start racing.

 

Spidermonkey of the Week – Lindsey Fahey

 

Dock Party! (Lindsey on the left, Jenny on the right)

Dock Party! (Lindsey on the left, Julie in the middle and Jenny on the right)

by Lindsey Fahey

As a kid I grew up riding my bike all over my neighborhood and always remember how exciting it was when my mom would give me the ok to extend my ride (Ok, now you can go AROUND the block, you are 5 now!).  So I suppose generally I liked riding bikes since day 1.

Through high school and college I didn’t ride a bike at all since it never seemed particularly convenient or much of a workout, plus I was playing lacrosse at U of I, so usually got my workouts in that way.  When I moved to Chicago I thought people were crazy who rode their bikes on the streets.  Many of my coworkers at the design firm I used to work at rode their bikes to work.  All I could think was “stupid hipsters.”  I certainly would never be one of those bike people.  One day 2 years ago I was eating at a buffet with my friend Jenny (also now a Spidermonkey) and she mentioned she had a road bike that she sometimes rode on the trail with her mom.  I was like oh, huh, maybe I should get a bike.  I may have actually asked her how she got it to the trail; did she ride it on the STREET ALL THE WAY THERE??  I started toying with the idea of biking since I decided to retire myself from running after hurting my hip training for the ‘09 marathon.  Living in Roscoe Village, I wandered into Roscoe Village Bikes one day and started chatting with Paul.  After test driving a few bikes later that week I settled on a blue Jamis road bike.  My boss (who is super into cycling) asked me if my new bike was carbon and what components I selected……I stared back blankly and told him I don’t know and that I don’t need some fancy carbon bike.  I started riding around a little bit, taking only one way streets for the most part.  Jenny taught me how to ride on Addison WITH CARS to get to the trail in the mornings before work and I slowly became more comfortable on the roads.  I even started riding to work and by the end of the summer I was one of those hipsters riding to work, some weeks up to 3 days if I didn’t have meetings.  I was bummed when the weather changed and I couldn’t ride anymore, minus one misguided attempt to ride to work in January.

Fast forward to early spring this year, I was chomping at the bit to get out on my bike and was constantly bugging Jenny and my friend’s husband (the only 2 people I knew with road bikes) to go ride.  My roommate told me I was super annoying, and suggested I go “join a club or something” to make some friends who like bikes as much as I did.  That seemed like a good idea so I started googling bike clubs in Chicago.  I figured it was best to look at the pictures of the members to assess each club.  I don’t mean I just checked out the members…more like I wanted to be sure they weren’t only wearing spandex and super hard core or the other extreme of just touring around…fun but serious athletes was what I was looking for and the Spidermonkeys looked like normal people.  They seemed to actually have fun together in their pictures so I emailed Vanessa who suggested I come try out a girl’s ride.  I was terrified, I had never even ridden 30 miles, let alone with a group that had a rule list that was pages long.  I was so nervous I barely slept the night before, but finished the ride and was hooked.  I was so thankful Rebecca took the time to ride with me that first time and show me the ropes of the pace line (yes you get THAT close) and what all the signals meant.  As the summer wore on I went on as many girls rides as I could make with my work schedule and tried a few of the Saturday rides.  Every time I got my ass handed to me, but learned a lot on every ride.  I couldn’t believe how encouraging everyone was and how willing they were to share their experience.

Bike to Work Week!

Bike to Work Week with the Spidermonkeys!

By this time I had badgered Jenny into getting clipless pedals and join Spidermonkeys as well so we could train together for our rides we had registered for throughout the summer.  Our first MAJOR RACE EVENT was a 40 mile Chocolate City ride in Burlington, Wisconsin.  Maybe it is because we were in the same sorority at U of I, or maybe because we played college lacrosse together, but in our minds this was an epic sporting event and we absolutely needed matching jerseys.  I told her that for the Chicago marathon you always dressed like the person you were running with so you could keep track of them in the massive crowds of competitors.  (Did I mention this ride was in Burlington, WI??)  We would need to be brightly colored and matching so we didn’t lose each other in the packs of bike riders I imagined would be at this ride.  We rushed to the “start line” at 6 am in our sweet matching (hot pink!) jerseys and were met with a few locals from the Lions Club hanging out in a school gym handing out chocolate.  I was like oh did we miss the start??  They were like ummm, no you just ride the route, there isn’t a start, you can start from 6 am until 10 am.  Guess we missed the memo that bike rides were nothing like distance running races, no chips, no crowds and no gun at the start.  We rolled out and had a great day on our first ride…and didn’t see another soul for about 75% of it.  We actually got asked if we were a lady cycling team on the ride due to our matching pink jerseys.

Chocolate City "Race"

Chocolate City “Race”

Sailor Dan's rest stop at Chocolate City

Sailor Dan’s!  Team Hot Pink Jerseys!

We then did the Tour de Cure with my company team which was fun, (this time we had on matching jerseys but in different colors).  We realized we liked the small town somewhat disorganized rides better.  Plus they had much better food.  We followed those rides up with a ride in Chillicothe, IL, and the Apple Cider Century in Three Oaks, Michigan (highly recommended, although don’t make a U turn in the downtown unless you want to get pulled over and lectured by a cop on foot, ooops).

Tour de Cure!

Tour de Cure!

By the end of the season this year I had gone on countless SM rides, tried my hand at mountain biking and actually made it up a mountain in Colorado (sort of, I fell off the bike into some bushes), made those illusive bike friends I was looking for who are always willing to ride (even on Thanksgiving!), figured out how to change a flat tire, finished my first Century with some coworkers at the North Shore ride, crossed 2 state lines on my bike and just recently bought my first big kid full carbon bike and told my boss exactly what components it had.  I could not be happier with my decision to email Vanessa and go on that first ride.  I’m SO excited for the upcoming season!

MTB'ing with Jenny

MTB’ing!

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