Category: Spidermonkey Cycling (page 2 of 3)

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.


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.

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, 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



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

CCC: Montrose IL State CX Championships photos

Thanks to teammate Paul Decker for taking heaps of photos. If you are interested in obtaining a full-res version for your personal use, all Paul asks is to make a donation to our Bike MS fundraising page to help the fight against MS.



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Cat 1,2 & 3Women's Cat 4 & Juniors 9-14

Women's Cat 1,2 & 3Category 3

CCC Montrose Big Marsh Fundraising – DO IT!

#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!
Big Marsh and Spidermonkey Cycling Challenge You!

Big Marsh and Spidermonkey Cycling Challenge You!

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 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 Get the hole shot – sign your team up at today!

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 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 Get the hole shot – sign your team up at today!

Spidermonkey of the Week – Ian Hughes

I would like to start off by saying I am absolutely thrilled and honored to be the Spidermonkey of the Week!  While I have always been what I thought was a huge cycling advocate, my love affair with bikes is only in its infancy when compared to everyone else on the team.  I now know that I have only just seen the tip of the iceberg and that by drinking the Spidermonkey Kool-Aid, I am opening up the floodgates to all things awesome.  I have been absolutely humbled through my experiences with those of you I have met so far on the team, and have been deeply inspired in reading all of the other SOTW posts.  Because of you, my goal for 2015 is to become a stronger and more skilled rider and make you all as proud of me as I am to be a Spidermonkey!

That being said, here’s a little about the guy that may be sucking your wheel at the start of this year’s rides.  I was born in New Mexico and bounced around between there, Texas, Ohio, and Los Angeles before moving back to Ohio for college and my first grown-up job in Cleveland.  As with most kids, bikes were a big part of my life growing up but two memories vividly stand out- learning how to ride and going on bike tours with my parents.  My Grandma Joan sat me on my first bike that I received for a Christmas present in Las Cruces, NM and literally shoved me down a hill repeatedly until I could stay on without falling.  Fortunately I got the hang of it before I ended up breaking something!  As for the bike tours, they became a family tradition while I was in grade school after my parents got into riding.  They started bringing me along on 20+ mile country rides around Carey and Columbus, Ohio and it always made for awesome family time.

Ian Hughes Picture 1  Ian Hughes Picture 2

Six years ago I moved to Chicago (chasing my then girlfriend, now wife, Kelly) and left behind my beloved Ohio after 13 years of fun.  When I first got here, I absolutely hated it.  I found myself very frustrated with the noise, concrete everywhere, seeming lack of outdoor opportunities, and most of all the traffic.  For sanity’s sake I stopped driving, took to public transportation and that made things a little better, but after 2 years I was completely over it.  In the spring of 2011, I finally had a moment of clarity while we were sitting in a mess of rush hour traffic in our car- a small group of cyclists effortlessly cruised past us with smiles on their faces.  I wanted (and needed) that freedom and happiness, and later that week I bought a bicycle and took to the streets.

Ian Hughes Picture 3

What started off as a means of getting to and from work quickly turned into my escape from all of the things I didn’t like about Chicago.  All of a sudden I was happier, healthier, and felt a meaningful tie to the concrete, traffic, and noise that used to drive me crazy.  These feelings grew deeper when I began bike commuting year round and really learned to appreciate everything that all of the four seasons throw at us.  The only problem I came across was that my commute was only 6 miles each way, and I wanted more!

Ian Hughes Picture 4      Ian Hughes Picture 5

When I left my job as an Environmental Consultant and went to work for Goose Island Beer Company three years ago, I had the unique opportunity to take this newly found passion and grow it further through sharing it with my new coworkers.  Goose Island was already a strong advocate in the Chicago biking community through supporting the Active Transportation Alliance, Chicago Bike to Work Week, and of course sponsoring the Spidermonkeys, but we had some opportunities for improvement internally.  In the last three years the Green Goose team and I have made some great accomplishments to encourage our employees to ride- we started the Honking Peloton (once a month we ride to a local brewery), improved onsite bike storage, purchased maintenance supplies, and started offering employee tune up days.  Our efforts have resulted in an increase in bike commuting and have also led to Goose Island receiving a Bicycle Friendly Business Silver Award through the League of American Bicyclists.

Ian Hughes Picture 6

Ian Hughes Picture 7     Ian Hughes Picture 8

It was only a matter of time until I got to meet several Spidermonkeys at a dock party and a few other Goose Island beer release parties.  At one of these events (after geeking out over a few beers of course) I received a challenge from Fred Wu to come join the team for a Saturday ride.  Once I realized that there weren’t any Geese currently riding with the Spidermonkeys, I knew I needed to accept the challenge, represent the brewery, and roll with the team up to Highland Park.  After one ride, followed by a delicious gyros sandwich at Budacki’s, I was hooked!  Despite a busy travel schedule for work I managed to hit several other rides last year including a couple treks to Willow Springs and a very ‘spirited’ Wednesday night ride.  I am looking very forward to being even more involved this year, riding my first century, and diving into my first CX race this fall- hopefully I won’t be riding in Fred’s Divvy bike basket!  Here’s to all of you and here’s to a great year with Spidermonkeys! Cheers!

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:


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.


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.


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


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!


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.


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….


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.


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?


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.




Spidermonkey of the Week – Erin Kasprzak

by Erin Kasprzak

My first bike - look at that trackstand!

My first bike – look at that trackstand!

Even though I was not a super athletic kid, I always loved riding bikes. Though not much of a rider himself, my dad was brand-loyal to Schwinn, and to our LBS, Denny’s Schwinn, in East Lansing, Michigan. I am pretty sure my first two-wheeler (the pink Schwinn pictured) was heavier than my current bike with its steel frame and SOLID tires. At least once, I rode it off a little ramp the neighbor boys had set up to jump their BMX bikes and I crash landed. Hard. But I didn’t stop riding. After the pink bike, I graduated to a bigger Schwinn, still a single-speed with coaster brakes, and when I was in eighth grade I got my first multi-geared bike, a red Schwinn Mesa Runner mountain bike. I remember that I had gone to the shop wanting a “ten speed” (which was what everyone called a drop-bar road bike) but the guy at the shop steered me and my dad toward the mountain bike.

In high school, I spent most of my time hanging out with the drama geeks and I didn’t ride that mountain bike all that much. I sometimes wonder if I would have ridden more if I had gotten the ten speed I wanted in the first place.

I didn’t ride much in college either, spending my spare time inside at the college radio station, and I clearly missed a real opportunity in grad school. I was at Indiana University, home of the Little 500, and I can probably count on one hand (definitely two) the number of times I rode my bike anywhere.

I moved to Chicago in 2001, and bought an aluminum Fuji hybrid with plans to commute, which I did occasionally but didn’t make a regular habit. After several years following the Tour de France, and under the influence of my cyclist brother and cousin, I bought my first road bike in 2009 – the steel Jamis I still ride. I enjoyed solo riding, but never got too serious about it until last January when a college buddy sent me a link for AIDS/LifeCycle (a weeklong 545-mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles) and said “This is what we’re going to do.” I didn’t hesitate before telling him I was on board. I looked at a couple of different training plans, dusted off my trainer, and started pedaling.

After two long months of slogging it out on the trainer alone, I was ready for some company. I knew about the Spidermonkeys because I’d had my bike serviced at Roscoe Village, and I’d seen the orange and black paceline fly by while I walked my dog on Damen.

I was so nervous riding down to that first group ride, my heart rate spiked like crazy and I almost puked. But then I met you. Everyone was so welcoming and encouraging, and I had such an amazing time, I joined immediately. Best. Decision. Ever.

RidingWith friends, Kevin and Tom, AIDS/LifeCycle 2013 with a team made me look forward to my training rides, and even after a pretty bad crash in April, I didn’t stop riding because I wanted to get out with the group again. I found out I really like going fast. And even though I knew the physics of it, I was still amazed to see for myself that drafting is AMAZING.

I am super proud that I was totally prepared for the ride from San Francisco to LA. In fact, I was faster than the two guys I rode with. I was also super proud to wear my Spidermonkey kit when I crossed the finish line, and I just wanted to keep riding. Well, not that day. That day, I wanted to sleep in a real bed. But after that, I was so excited to have people to ride with when I got home.

At the finish line in LA (after 545 miles, with a smile on my face)

At the finish line in LA (after 545 miles, with a smile on my face)

The best part of being on a team is that teammates have your back. Teammates who helped me after I crashed in April, who loaned me their gear for the California ride, and who gave me a friendly push to help me get out of the wind and onto the wheel in front of me on the second day of the MS ride.

Nearly all of my best memories of 2013 involve my bike, and all of those were possible because I’m a Spidermonkey.

In 2014, I’m resolving to:

  • get dropped more (because I will come out on Wednesday nights)
  • drink more 312
  • have at least as much fun as I had last year

I can’t wait to see what happens this year! Caw caaaawwww!!

Spidermonkey of the Week – Dave Donnelly

by Dave Donnelly

Richards Riders-smThroughout my childhood, teens, and adulthood I’ve had a ton of experiences with sports in one form or another. None of them turned out well…

My first attempt with sports was in grade school. I think the whole class signed up for football. I was abnormally tall, which was often mistaken for “big”, so I was immediately drafted and put on the front of the offensive line. My first game I was knocked over by a kid half my size right away and literally pushed about twenty yards behind the rest of my team… So there went football.

Next was basketball. Again, due to my abnormal height, the coaches were all over me. After repeatedly tripping over my own shoes, making baskets for the other team, and other comedic mishaps I decided enough was enough. I told my coach that basketball was interfering with my piano lessons, which was true but I’m sure you can guess how that went over.

I loved soccer but never seemed to be able to control the ball. Had a blast playing lacrosse but hated checking people. Enjoyed tennis but once again, not so good. Sailing made me seasick. The guys in crew at my school were just jerks.

The only athletic endeavor that has always kind of stayed with me has involved bicycles.

When I was six I got my first bike. The Schwinn Bantam. Coolest bike on the block. I rode that thing everywhere.

kid pic with cutlaskid pic with the dog

Next up was my Schwinn Thrasher. It was a sleek, blue, bmx bike and definitely upped my cool points in the neighborhood. Growing up on Northwestern University’s campus was especially great at this point. They were constantly demolishing buildings and leaving huge, empty mud pits. With a little imagination and the right group of buddies these mud pits turned into the perfect offroad, bmx course.

When I outgrew the Thrasher my parents introduced me to my next two-wheeled friendship. This time in the form of a Schwinn 12 speed. I rode everywhere, until my interest in bicycles went on hiatus.

In the decade that followed I got back into music, went to school for sound, joined a punk band, toured, put out albums, broke up the band, started a new band, fell in love, moved to California, joined a motorcycle gang, ran a record store, got engaged, got unengaged, joined another punk band, moved back to Chicago, ran a motorcycle shop, caused some trouble, moved to Wyoming..


Then I bought another bicycle. It turns out living in a tiny town way up in the mountains in Wyoming was a difficult place to make friends. Mountain biking turned out to be a great solution. I could get on a great path right outside of my back door and be in the middle of nowhere in half an hour.

After a little over a year I returned to Chicago with a rekindled love of bicycling. My first year back I commuted by bike, even most of the winter. In the spring I started to get tired of being passed by road bikes and started thinking about a change. That decision was made for me about a day later when my clunky mountain bike was stolen.

So I built a really neat road bike with parts recommended by cyclist friends. Riding escalated from commuting to rides to the botanical garden with some friends, to the Apple Cider Century.

I was ready to up the ante a bit and wanted to do something charity driven. A friend introduced me to the Ride for AIDS, Chicago. This was really good for me because it had great training and really helped with my cycling (it’s 200 miles!). It was also a great charity and I felt really good about raising money for them. I even captained a team of 60 for a few years.


So after the second year of the 200 miles a few of us decided to do the Northshore Century together. It was kind of chilly and threatening to rain but we decided to go for it. About twenty miles into the ride we were passed by this huge group of rowdy, exciting, super fast riders. I asked myself if I thought I could do that. I started pedaling as fast as I could to catch up and reached them at a light. I super nervously asked if I could try and join. A guy near the back said sure, just stay towards the back and hang on. I rode with them for about thirty miles and it was a blast!! So much energy and fun! I hung out at the half way point with them a little but was too shy to strike up a conversation. All of a sudden someone yelled “Spidermonkeys! Let’s roll!” and they all mounted up and left.

I hung out at the stop and waited for my friends to catch up. The second they arrived all I could talk about was how fast we went and how nice they all were and how much fun it was. I told myself that I was going to learn to ride like that and join that team some day.

In my thirties I’ve learned how to throw a pretty good spiral, become a relatively good basketball player, and even tried soccer again (I still suck). And yet, my favorite athletic accomplishment of my thirties was riding the Northshore Century with the Spidermonkeys. I can’t tell you enough how excited I am to be part of a team with so many amazing, encouraging, and talented people. And I can’t wait to see what next year brings!

ns cent

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