Category: Uncategorized (page 3 of 41)

Spidermonkey of the Week – Dania Lees


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.


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!


Spidermonkey of the Week – PJ Cavoto Jr

PJ .. and SuperGirl

Hey gang!  I have gotten to know so many of you over the course of the last year and it’s been tremendous.

Here’s my journey:
I joined the team right around the Elk Grove Criterium last year.  My friend and one of triathlon training partners, Paul Halupka, talked me into trying my 1st road race event.  I had already gone on several training rides with the Spidermonkeys and was just starting to get exposed to local road racing.  Hearing others talk about the upcoming races and realizing I can keep up with some of these guys started to build my confidence and I decided to give it a try.  Perhaps jumping the gun, but being very inspired from the group rides, I declared Spidermonkey Cycling as my team at my first race. Later that week an email was forwarded to me sent out by Dean asking who the hell is Peter Cavoto??  I quickly responded to Dean letting him know it was me, PJ.  He obviously informed me that I can’t randomly put that down unless I am an official member of the club and I may get myself and the team in trouble.  I am pretty sure the next group ride I put a check in Dean’s hand.  

PJ and Paul – Photo by Jen Groen

Besides following my passion of art, I have always relished in individual competitive sports.  I grew up a swimmer and dabbling in running for conditioning in between winter and summer seasons.  However, I always seemed to come back to the bike with great interest and enthusiasm.  This may have started as a small boy when I was notorious for taking things apart and putting them back together, convincing only myself that I improved it somehow.  Trust me; there were many times that my dad had to complete the reassembly (including my sister’s bikes) several times.  My graduating gift after high school was a brand new Giant (3×8) road racing machine.  My parents were certain that I would parley into the world of triathlons with my background in all three disciplines.  I choose the road of being an official party-er and within a year sold the machine for cash.  A few years later, mountain biking was starting to become all the rage and my love for engaging with nature got me into trail riding.  It was rough going with having to cut our own trail systems out in forest preserves of the northwest suburbs, where we would often get chased out by rangers.  And in those days, suspension forks were just starting to make an appearance (yeah, I’m that old).  The rigid mountain bikes I rode took a beating every time out and I found myself having to make repairs daily.  I finally started investing into new machines and my love for mtb’ing took off.

Just some Spidermonkeys at Galena post Crit, PJ gets 3rd! – Photo by Jen Groen

In ‘98, I moved to the city to complete my BA at DePaul and discovered that the easiest transit in the city was by bike.  My love for mtb’ing dwindled due to the difficulty of traveling to get to a trail system and I felt a little out of place riding around on the grass on the lakefront (no cyclocross scene yet).  I started taking old mtb frames and re-purposing them into commuters.  Up to that point, I considered road riding boring in comparison to mtb’ing.  As I grew to love the challenge of riding everywhere in the city, 365 days a year, my passion grew.  Not to mention the challenge and rush of fighting for a piece of the road with automobiles.  Over the last 14 years, I’ve had more car-bike contact in this city than I care to share.

In the early 2000’s, I was introduced to triathlons with the Chicago Tri being my 1st.  I was hooked.  I competed in more than a dozen tri’s through 5 years.  I did well at them … and was most proud of my overall win at Lake Delavan in 2007.  Injuries caught up to me and I had to take a year off.  I came back to the sport, but my enthusiasm was only sparked by a small contingent of training buddies.  If you have every competed in tri’s prior to belonging to a team, you know that it can be a little on the lonely side.  You don’t really engage much with other racers and tend to race and train on your own since your competition is the clock.  So as you all have figured out, having the support and companionship of the Spidermonkeys makes a world of difference regarding the fun factor.

Carpentersville CX! – Photo by Bill Draper

I have also been fairly involved in Chicago’s social cycling community for over 5 years.  This began with a ride group called Midnight Marauders.  I have co-chaired on the council for the last 3 years now.  If you have never heard of us, we consider that a good thing.  We try remaining somewhat of an anonymous underground group ride that explores the city, getting started after midnight and riding till dawn.  The group helped get off the ground since we had over 100 members at that time.  We now have grown to 367 members and are still the largest monthly ride group listed on The Chainlink.  Our monthly ride participation can range anywhere from 10 to 200 riders any given month.  We do push the boundaries of Chicago law (being in the parks after close), but we ride respectfully and just want to enjoy the city under the stars.  Our club motto is we are a “drinking club with a biking problem”.  A similar group I roll with often, FBC – Full Moon Fiasco – also posted on the Chainlink.  Both are a lot of fun and usually involve a little liver abuse, but you can engage at your own tolerance (we do have many participants that don’t drink).  Come join, if you’re so inclined.

In close, I love bikes.  I build them, ride them hard, and often break them.  I consider them my band of horses and treat them as such.  So it has been tremendous to ‘gallop’ with such an enthusiastic, supportive group of riders.  I can’t say enough good stuff about how amazing this last year has been and how awesome it is to be part of the Spidermonkeys!  Thank you all for such a warm welcome into the group.  Let’s go ride!

Peter J Cavoto Jr

Finishing is Winning by Dean Okun


Looking back, the reasons I decided to run a marathon are somewhat fuzzy. It was clearly a snap decision.  Pretty sure I just opened my big mouth and said something stupid like “anyone can run a marathon”.  Problem was, several people heard me say that, since I was on a Spidermonkey Saturday ride.  One of those people was Josh Green, who I believe then said, “if you do it, I’ll do it”.  Now who’s the idiot? 

I wish I had good reasons, like a desire to challenge myself, to do something out of the ordinary or to find out whether I had the courage and stamina (both physical and mental) to accomplish it.  I think I just wanted to get a cool medal and one of those oval 26.2 bumper stickers.  I had no idea the journey I was about to start….but thankfully I had Josh with me!

Having Vanessa in my life has many benefits, especially when it comes to having a running expert in your corner…and one of the most encouraging people I have ever known.  She was so excited when I decided to run a marathon.  She put a training schedule together for Josh and I, gave us advice on everything from where to run and how to dress.  By all accounts Vanessa is an expert marathon runner.  Having run Boston twice and fourteen marathons in total…she knows what works and what doesn’t.  We were in good hands.

Josh and I decided to run our short runs (tues, wed, thurs) on our own, and do our long runs on the weekend together.  Our first run together in the 18 week training program was a 5 mile run!  We ran 9:15’s and couldn’t believe how far 5 miles was!  I had been running the Burger and Beer fun runs with Universal Sole and ran a few 5K runs, but I had not really run more than 200 Yards (yes back in high school it wasn’t metric yet) in 30 years. My body protested loudly: Joints popped, muscles squealed, tendons frayed.  Being a cyclist was not helping!

After our first double digit run together, Vanessa made pancakes for us. The following week, Stewart treated us to Lox and Bagels! (the bagels were even cut into stars of David, just for me :)).  We were so lucky with the Chicago weather, we thought most of our runs would be in the cold and snow, but the weather was amazing.  I would suffer on the 15 mile run, Josh did amazing.  Josh would suffer on the 16 mile run, I smiled the whole day.  We helped each other through the bad days.  We both suffered through the 18 mile run.  And then anxiety set in.  “How am I going to run 26.2 if I could barely make it home on the 18?”.  Advice and encouragement came pouring in.  “Trust your training and the power of the taper!”  Josh and I did the work, over 250 miles of training!  I lost 8lbs…Josh couldn’t afford to lose any weight!!!!  The training was hard.  It took away time from many of the things I love, like riding with the Spidermonkeys on a warm day in December and lifting weights at the Lakeview Y (my home away from home).  But we did it!  We were ready!!

With a delicious pasta dinner in Phoenix behind us, we got to bed early.  Tomorrow would be a big day!  Stewart and Vanessa dropped Josh and I off one block from the start line.  Crowds, music and it was 50 degrees out!  The day was finally here.  After a half hour delay, we crossed the start line with the 9:30 pace group.  We trained at that pace and faster, so we felt confident to try to stay with them.  We were excited to be running with so many people as most of our training runs were very lonely. This was exciting.  Vanessa and Stewart had laid out a plan to see us at mile 4, 13, 19 and the finish.  Every mile there was a band playing, water stop and cheerleaders.  It was perfect.  Mile 4 was so exciting!  Mike and Rebecca were with Stewart and Vanessa cheering!  Dressed in Spidermonkey gear, holding bright colored signs, they were easy to spot in the crowd of people.  We shed some extra clothing, gave and got some hugs and kisses…and away we went.  At mile 5 it all started to break down for me.  A CRAMP in my abdomen.  I’ve had them before on training runs and can usually work through it in a mile or two.  Not today.   At mile 12 I had to do one of the hardest things I have ever done…ask Josh to leave me.  I needed to suffer alone and I was slowing the pace down drastically.  I didn’t want to hold him back.  He asked if there was anything he could say to help me…I said no.  I then said, “don’t worry, I won’t quit!”.  Off he went.  Ricky Bobby, my wingman was off…I would miss him.

Best Cheer Section Ever!

Vanessa was anxiously waiting for me at the halfway point.  Concerned that I was not with Josh.  I was walking when she saw me.  I was struggling, both mentally and physically.  Having a cramp caused me to slow my pace, causing me to run differently, causing blisters on the balls of my feet.  Everything started going wrong.  I was now in a mental battle with myself.  I broke down in tears when I saw Vanessa.  The frustration of having trained so hard and having such a hard day was difficult to handle.  Vanessa used everything in her arsenal of encouragement to help me!!!  I finally turned to her and said “I hate you!”  I hate you for knowing me better than I know myself.  Knowing that quitting was not an option.  Knowing that pain is temporary and quitting is permanent.  I went on! I can’t explain the feeling really.  It wasn’t pain. I felt numb from my knees, up through my legs.  I couldn’t tell you how I was still moving, but as Vanessa said, “just keep moving!” I have never been in such an intense, psychological battle with myself in my life.  I just kept telling myself what Vanessa said “just keep moving”.  You can stop forever once you cross the finish.  And NEVER run again.

Vanessa must have been so anxious after seeing me like that…and would now wait for me at mile 19.  As I turned the corner at 19, I had a smile on my face.  I had worked through the mental battle and visualized myself crossing the finish line and getting that AWESOME medal.  And my blisters had EXPLODED (this is a good thing). She was so relieved.  I continued to try to pick up my pace, but each time I did, the cramp returned.  So I accepted that I would not hit any sort of time goal and simply concentrated on finishing. 

Finishing is WINNING!

I ran across the finish line with fists pumping and screaming with joy!  I was humbled and hobbled.

The best part of the day wasn’t actually finishing the race; it was finding Vanessa, Josh and Stewart at the end, waiting for me.

Completion!  Completing a marathon has taught me what I am made of…and the result is comforting!  I may or may not do that again, but I will always cherish the accomplishment and the journey (with Josh).

Now lets go ride a bike!!!!

Check out more pictures here!

Finishing is WINNING!

End of Year Awards!

Thanks to everybody for attending our 4th end of year bash…once again, the night was filled with fun, Goose Island 312, patron, Dean speech, music, dancing, and awards! Click here for pictures.

And this year’s awards went to…

Top MS fundraiser’s:
Monica Pencz, Josh Green, Rebecca Dill, DJ Ryan, Mike Meyers, Kelly, Kristi

First time marathoner’s:
John Castro, Ellen Charnley, DJ Ryan

Fred Wu, Hayes Sanborn, Matt Duffey

Ride Leader’s:
Brandon, John Lyon, Josh Green, Drew, John Castro, Kristi, Rebecca

Everybody who travelled to Vegas for spring training!
Everybody who travelled to Lawrence to ride and race!
Everybody who raced!
Everybody who completed their first century!

Great leadership in cross:
Geoff Scott

Most consistent cross supporter:

Volunteer of the year:
Mike Meyers and Stewart Chapman

All the Get a Grip guys!
Matt, Michael, Adam, Ken, Geoff Scott

Most Humble:
Kim and Brandon

Best attitude:

Most improved:

And finally, the Ricky Bobby Award. The recipient of this award must consistently show initiative, is encouraging, involved, supportive, is the Rock of Spidermonkey who wakes up and pisses excellence. And the 2011 Ricky Bobby Award goes to…
Josh Green!!

Thanks to all our 2011 sponsor’s and partner’s:
Goose Island
Get a Grip
National MS Society
Roscoe Village Bikes
Universal Sole
Think Big
Turner Acceptance
Vision Quest

And to Josh Schilling for making our end of year video!

And to DJ Ryan for making our end of year party so awesome!

A special thanks to ALL OF YOU for making this so much fun for us and for the special gift towards our next spring training camp. We appreciate and feel lucky to know all of you!!

Can’t wait for our 5th year as Spidermonkey Cycling! Caaaa caaaaawwww!

Montrose Bake Sale

Thanks to everybody who supported our bake sale at Montrose this year! We were completely blown away by all the Spidermonkey baker’s…who knew we had so many talented cyclists AND bakers???

We raised $600!!! SRAM will match what we’ve raised which means SB^2 (Spidermonkey-Burnham-Shake-n-Bake) just raised $1200 for world bicycle relief (!!

You guys rock!! Happy Holiday’s!

Spidermonkey End of Year Video 2011

Great time at the End of Year Bash! Thanks to Get a Grip for hosting and Goose Island 312 for providing the kegs!

Check out our 2011 End of Year Video!!

Week Wrap Up (Sept. 10-18)

Whether it was your first century (Justeen, Brandon, Paul) or your 50th, the Harmon Hundred was a difficult day! With 1500 feet of climbing in the last 25 miles, you were guaranteed to hear some cussing, singing and laughing when we came across a sign that said “Hills”.  A great ride in Wisconsin would not be complete without a stop at the Worlds Famous Legendary Brat Stop for brats and cheese curds! 

Two of our midweek gems came to a season end this week.  The Tuesday morning women’s ride and the Wed. night ride both saw a HUGE increase in attendance, speed, and safety!!!!  JJPeppers will be spending the next few months stocking up inventory of High Life and rumor has it they are putting in a mirror ball dance floor in the parking lot for us. Great work to our amazing ride leaders on helping make these rides successful!

One of our favorite target rides of the year was this past Sunday, the North Shore Century from Evanston to Kenosha (and back).  48 Spidermonkeys ventured out in what looked like it might be a nasty day of rain.  Turned out only the last 40 were wet….really wet!  We enjoyed our Potato Soup in Kenosha, lots of laughs and smiles….then headed home.  10 flats later, Yes 10, we all made it!  We made lots of friends along the way. Emails from a couple of new friends: You guys rocked and I look forward to knowing more”  “Really, really enjoyed riding with you guys.  You’re mentality is much different than many of the groups I’ve ridden with.  Everybody rode and signaled amazingly but still seemed to have a ton of fun the whole time. We departed from your group at one of the rest stops and didn’t enjoy the rest of the ride”

While many of us were riding to Kenosha, a huge group of monkeys were getting dirty in the muckity muck at Jackson Park. The Chicago Cross Cup opened up with a bang…from the Spidermonkeys!  Huge congrats to Kim on reaching the top step of the podium!  Ken, Michael Berman, Matt Daniel, Geoff Scott, Paul, Kelly, Kristi, Peter, Hayes and Trent all raced.  Can’t wait to heckle you all soon.  See you at Hopkins Park on 10/2!  

Spidermonkey of the week:  Tim Driver 

About five years ago a buddy of mine was going to do a 3 day ride for Make A Wish, so I decided to join.  After that I was hooked on cycling.  Shortly after that I moved to the big city of Chicago.  During the first year or so while I lived here I spent my cycling time as a Pathlete, avoiding Mayhem up and down LSD path and getting neck strains from the gorgeous, scantily clad girls.  It got to be a little dangerous in year two, so I decided to take my talents to the streets. I found a route that went to the northern ‘burbs and soon enough felt as if I might move to Kenilworth one day.  It was on a Wednesday night early in the spring that I met up with a couple of monkeys.  Wow, was that group moving fast!  I asked if I could ride north with them and they said sure, just stay in the back.  It was a great experience and I knew that I wanted to do it again.  “When do you guys ride?” I asked.  “Wednesday.  We leave from Roscoe Village. You know where that is?”  “Sure”, I replied, having no idea if Roscoe Village was a suburb or what.  Thanks to the world wide web I figured it out.  So I started riding with the Wednesday night crew, where I had my first ever JJPeppers High Life.   Finally, after I think two seasons I asked about joining the group.  This is the first year I have officially been a Monkey and it has been better than ever.  To continue on the love fest of this past week, everyone on SMC is very supportive and  great to hang around.  I really look forward to all of our rides and events!   

Week Wrap Up( 8/11/2011-8/30/2011)

Party week!

We’ve been doing a lot of riding…time to take a break and party! Lots of us showed up to the Harvest Ale Dock Party at Goose Island. I think we proved that Harvest Ale is really, really yummy! Thanks for having us Goose Island, we had a fantastic time! (proof here!)

The very next day, we were ready to party again! MS held a celebration for their huge success at the Tour de Farms this year. Spidermonkey’s helped and raised over $21,000, volunteered, and also had a hand in getting others involved in this great cause. We were honored to walk away with the “MOST VALUABLE TEAM” award! And we were thrilled to see our sponsor’s team Turner Acceptance walk away with “CORPORATE ROOKIE TEAM OF THE YEAR”. Thank you MS for letting us be a part of something so big and important, we can’t wait to do it all over again next year! Pictures here!

Cross Season Already??? Hells Yeah!

I believe we had a record number of Spidermonkey’s who showed up to the first cross race of the season…and not just to heckle but to race! Cross bikes, mountain bikes, beer, cookie crisp, jello shots, argyle socks…what’s not to love?? Stewart, Rebecca, Kelly, Kim, and Amy were all first timers…pretty sure the smile on their faces at the finish line means it won’t be their last! Great job everybody, thanks for making cross races so much fun! Pictures here!

While all that is going on, some of us are still doing some road racing! Congrats to Brandon, Ken, and Geoff Scott who travelled to Michigan to complete one of their races.

Weekly rides are always ongoing. Wednesday rides have been vomit-fast…if you’re not getting dropped, you must be doping! Unfortunately, the girl’s ride is coming to an end due to loss of light (stupid darkness!), but what a great season we’ve had!

Upcoming…Join us!

September 11: Harmon Hundred

September 18: North Shore Century

Spidermonkey of the Week: Fred Wu

I was told about Spidermonkey in early spring of 2010 thru one of my college team mates. He indicated that due to my desire for both bicycles and drinking beer there was only one logical bike team that would work for me.

It was in the late spring of 2010 when I first met Dean and Vanessa at the 1st Burger and Beer fun run operated at Universal Sole. After speaking with both of them, I was informed that membership was closed to new members. After much pleading to both Dean and Vanessa I was finally let on the team. Since joining the team I have perfected the art of the “reverse breakaway” and my desire to attack the group rides at times that make no sense at all. While I don’t like to admit being a triathlete, I do dabble in triathlons. I think of myself as a swimmer, cyclist and runner.

Fred is one of our craziest and humblest Spidermonkey’s, ask him about all his ironman’s, ultramarathon’s, etc, that he’s done…he recently completed Ironman Canada…congratulations Fred!!

Week Wrap Up (7/20-8/10) Busier than a…

The past few weeks we’ve been busier than a long-tailed monkey in a room full of rocking chairs, a one-toothed man in a corn-on-the-cob eating contest, a mosquito at a nudist colony and a cross-eyed air traffic controller…well you get the idea. 
A huge thank you to Kristi and Kim for putting together the field trip/ride to 3floyds brewpub!  It was a hot 78 mile day which made the cold beer taste even better.  When 3floyds saw the Spidermonkey/312 team arrive (19 of us!) they welcomed us with open taps!  Great ride, great route, loads of fun, fantastic beer and food…and a nice refreshing swim at Promontory Point on the way home!
Spidermonkey racers participated in the Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove. Great job Paul Halupka, Masa, Peter Monko, Derick Adame, Trent and Brandon!  5 top 20 finishes!!!  Paul is already tearing up the roads with a 5th place finish!  Looking forward to seeing some great Spidermonkey teamwork from our growing Cat4 squad in 2012!
Chicago Cross Cup! Less than 6 weeks until the official start of the CCC at Jackson Park. Spidermonkey Cycling is officially sponsoring the CCC!  We will be supplying the Juniors prizes every week (10-14 and 15-18, Boys and Girls).  Are you ready?   Matt from Get A Grip and Geoff Scott will be holding a cross practice/clinic this Sunday at 9 am on the north side of cricket hill.  Come one, come all!  
Our Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday (girls) and Wed Night eGem rides have been HUGE successes.  JJPeppers Parking Lot Night Club has been the place to be seen.  Especially if you wore an UGLY jersey!  Congrats to Paul Halupka and Dave Cushman for taking 1st and 2nd prize in last weeks Ugly jersey contest.  Paul only beat Dave due to his accessories (nice bandanna Paul).

Upcoming events:
North Shore Century Sept. 18.  Welcome our cycling friends from Lawrence KS who will be joining us on the ride this year!  Can’t wait! 

Bike MS 2011 Celebration Party! Aug. 18 Help us celebrate raising over $21,000 to fight MS!!!!

The Grand Cycling Classic and the Tour de Gaslight. Grand Rapids, MI 8/20 and 8/21.

And a special report from Ken (Prince of Fashion) Mitchell: 

BEST crit series EVER!!

The Gateway Cup in St. Louis. Mr Matt Smith introduced me to this gem
years ago and damn if it’s not a shit-ton of fun! 
It’s over Labor Day weekend 9/2 to 9/5.
If you can, you should move Heaven and Earth to do this 4 race series. 
The crowds are great and the beer and food are plentiful. 
And now…..
Spidermonkey of the Week:  Masayuki (Masa) Tsuchiya

Back in Japan, almost every mom had a kind of bike we affectionately called “mama-chari” (mom’s bike ) that had a basket attached to the front of the bike to put groceries in.  If she had a small child it would be likely to have a child carrier at the rear (I’ve never seen a handlebar mounted child carriers, so it must be a new thing). My mom had one of those bikes and she carried me around in the rear seat until my younger brother took over the seat and so I got my first bike around the age of five.
I remembered how that bike was like. It was a cool black bicycle with training wheels. What was cool about that bicycle was that it had an electrical buzzer that made zapping sounds of space ship laser beam every time I pushed the little button attached on the handlebar instead of bell. That must have been the cutting edge Japanese technology available to kid’s bike back and I was a proud owner of that bike. After that, bicycles became just means of transportation and during my college years my motorcycle took over that role. Then bicycles were long forgotten until recently.
I came to Chicago to attend the graduate school and then somehow I got married and soon we had a son. Since my wife and I had a job in suburb, it was natural for us to move out of the city to get closer to where we work.  Soon after we moved to the suburb, I got a cheap used bike to ride along the bike path at the forest preserve near our home.  I mounted a child carrier and my son and I had a lot of quality time together on the bike.  That was how I got back on the bike again and it was the beginning of my new life as a cyclist.
I met Todd in the winter of 2007.  The next summer he invited me to drive down for the ride from Roscoe Village Bikes to Highland Park. By then I had decided to participate in some triathlon events and I had bought myself a road bike.  I was very nervous about riding with people I don’t know well and on the route I don’t know well because I was slow rider at best.  But just like everybody else tried the ride says, I had a good time riding up to the café in Highland Park. Everybody in the group was friendly and I felt very welcomed. It seemed that Dean was little disappointed to find out that I was not Chinese because he could not show off his ability to speak Chinese though.  Dui Bu Qi, Dean.
After doing several rides and a century ride as a guest, I had already knew what club I wanted to join when I wanted to start riding seriously.  I sent out an email to Todd asking if he knew the membership was still closed for the next season.  Then I received an email from Vanessa soon after with the membership application attached.  It has been the highlight of my life since then. I knew that Spidermonkey Cycling was one of a kind and it would worth a drive down into the city to ride with you awesome people.  I truly thank you for all the encouragements, the advices and the cheering during the rides and races.  I am glad that I become a cyclist and a Spidermonkey. You guys make me feel at home in this country.  I have been shining quite a while now!

Week Wrap Up (7/12-7/19)

Evanston Grand Prix was chock full of excitement, adrenaline, and fun for everybody! Spidermonkey’s raced and raced really, really well! What we’ve learned about Paul Halupka? He doesn’t mess around! He chose Evanston as his very first race! Mike Meyers and Tim Driver joined him in the race and they all did an excellent job. Brandon made his debut in the cat 3’s, Ken raced in his new super fast shoes, while Trent-a cleaned up in the cat 4’s. Great job guys! And nobody cheered louder than the Spidermonkey’s! Thanks to everybody who came out and cheered and to Bike MS and Goose Island for making it extra fun for us!

Tim Driver and Mike Meyers also raced in the Willow Springs road race. We wish the Spidermonkey cheer squad could have been there to see them finish in the top 10!!! Rockstars.

Last weekend, Kristi and Grace travelled to Muncie to destroy a half ironman. This weekend, Matt Duffey, Peter Monko, Liz Kolshak, Jesus Cruz and Fred Wu went up to Racine to do the same thing. Despite the 101 Degree heat index, they all managed to finish. That is crazy awesome! Congratulations! You are all superstars in our book!

Our standard Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday (girl’s), and Wednesday night rides are still ongoing with lots of participation. They continue to be a complete blast!

Upcoming this week:

This Saturday’s ride will be replaced with our yearly safety clinic run by Randy Warren. Spidermonkey’s, please make every effort to attend!

And if you haven’t heard, Liz is moving to Boston to attend Harvard. While we are extremely excited for her, we will definitely miss her! We loved having you in Chicago…come back soon!

Spidermonkey of the week: Liz Kolshak

Last summer, I moved to Chicago and knew only a few people. My sister must have grown sick of all our quality time together because she told me I needed to make some friends. Not exactly sure where to meet friends, I volunteered at a triathlon in an attempt to find some people with similar interests. That’s where I met a girl who rode with the Spidermonkeys on the girls rides. She wasn’t a Spidermonkey, but told me to show up at Lincoln and Belmont one Tuesday and I did.

I’d started riding a year earlier and knew very little about riding in a group. I’ve always considered myself a runner and only bought a bike because it was a requirement for participating in a triathlon. Luckily, Vanessa, Rebecca, Kristi, Katie and Grace were all patient explaining a paceline to me, how to ride in a group, etc. (you know, the basics!)

It wasn’t long before I made it to a spidermonkey happy hour and then a Saturday ride (keeping priorities in order–beer before biking). It’s been the perfect group for me, drastically improving my cycling and also allowing me to meet some great friends at the same time. The group is diverse with people from all different backgrounds, with different interests and levels of cycling experience, but we all have the common interest of cycling.

From being doored the night before the Chicago triathlon to being run over by a cyclist on the path, its almost amazing that I’m still biking–let alone that I now love it more than running. I think the Spidermonkeys have contributed a lot to that. I still giggle thinking about our Vegas trip, jokes from rides or random nights at Excalibar (if you haven’t been Rebecca Meyers wants to go back!!). I’m going to miss y’all, but don’t worry I’ll be back!

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