Spidermonkey of the Week – Emily Beswick

by Emily Beswick

2005ragbraicelebrationSag wagon, bicycle shop, repair vans, shower guys, and medical assistance were all foreign words as I began my cycling career during Ragbrai (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Race Across Iowa) 2005. I decided the route was starting 15 miles from my hometown, Sioux City, Iowa and I would bandit the ride for 1 day; after all it was only 65.5 miles.

As I pulled out of LeMars “the ice cream capital of the world,” I thought I was prepared with my free green Huffy that I won at my college health fair and my Camelback hydration pack. The first half of the ride was fairly easy with stops for food/drinks every 6-8 miles. As the temperature was pushing triple digits, and I made the turn north for the last 20 miles I ended up getting a flat tire without a tube or CO2 cartridges. The fun turned into tears. Even after I had help fixing my tire I was exhausted. My first big ride had me pedaling and crying all the way to the end.

Once I arrived in Sheldon a huge smile was on my face and a feeling of accomplishment overcame me. I couldn’t wait to celebrate with a beer.

How powerful a spell does RAGBRAI cast over the first time rider? After a few hours on the road I was hooked and promised to be back for the entire week next year.

2006 was the year I officially signed up for Ragbrai, it was 444 miles of adventure. I decided to experience it the real way and tent the whole week rather than stay in hotels/friends homes along the way. I also decided to upgrade and get my 1st real bike. I purchased a Specialized Rockhopper. My mileage/training was riding the mountain bike trails of Stone State Park and I couldn’t understand why I needed more than 1 bike much less a road bike. I thought at that time every bike was created equal. Now, I was ready for the journey with my foot cages, upgraded water bottles, and bike jersey/cycling shorts. Starting early Sunday morning I embarked on my journey with 30,000 other cyclists of all shapes, ages, and sizes. I began my ride with the long tradition of dipping the front tire in the Missouri River at the start of the ride across Iowa and again the back tire at the conclusion in the Mississippi River. The highlight for me at the time was riding on the same road as another Ragbrai virgin, Lance Armstrong.

ridingwithlance 2006ragbrai


In October 2008 I moved to Chicago. Once I completed my list of bucket items to being a “true Chicagoan”, Sears Tower stair challenge and the January bikini polar plunge with water temps in the low 30’s; I thought that finding a cycling team would be a good way to meet friends and also be less life threatening. I joined a newly formed women’s downtown team that was close to my work/home. We didn’t ride everyday but I enjoyed the long ride camaraderie and the mileage helped me to complete Ironman Wisconsin on 9/11/2011 as I was now a true “roadie” with my Specialized Roubaix.

After a few years with this team I was sick of being dropped on the “no drop” Saturday ride by the 4 boys that rode and frequently was the only girl. I started looking for teams during the Gapers Block Crit races this year. The 1st night I had inquired with Half Acre and found them to be cult/sorority like in their team selection. Night 2 I was packing my things into the car and Kelly Clarke/Michelle Moore were next to me. I saw the Spidermonkey kit and asked “how hard is it to find a team to join in Chicago that likes to ride bikes and drink beer?” She stated the next team ride was on Saturday and we exchanged numbers. A few weeks later we were riding a century up to Frank’s Diner in Kenosha, WI.


I am so grateful I asked them that question that day. I love being a Spidermonkey!! The numerous options to ride every day of the week and the variety of paces/miles is great. My favorite rides are Tuesday morning girls ride and the fast pace Wednesday nights (each week as the season progressed I was proud I made it further in the ride before getting dropped).

Furthermore, I love the social aspect and having beers with the team. What’s not to like about a Goose Island Dock party and various special beer release parties!!??!!

mondaymorningrideI’m looking forward to a great 2014 season with the Spidermonkeys. My first Vegas trip will be this year and Tour of Galena is on the calendar again. As I look back I am proud of my journey as a cyclist and I am grateful to ride amongst the best in Chicago who are on our team.

I am also proud that I’ve expanded my vocabulary to consist of saying….all I want for Christmas are size 42 Mavic Zxenon cycling shoes, a Seven Axiom SL, and a bike fit with Get a Grip Cycles (and actually know what that means)!! :)

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.



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 – Hayes Sanborn

J-Pow! and Hayes!

My adventuring into cycling was winter of 1988, in a dark living room, sitting by the fire. I was a little boy growing up in Oklahoma and my dad was hatching a plan. We would ride bikes across the state of Iowa and spend the evenings in tents. I was of the age that spending a week in a tent sounded pretty damn cool, so I was in! This was going to be a father and son trip, as my parents were finalizing a divorce, one last adventure before I would move to Illinois with my mom and little brother. One problem, I didn’t really have a bike worthy of such an adventure. I had a single speed but nothing that would hold up for a week of cycling. Dad went to the city and picked up a new Trek and I would be use his old 1975 Sears ten speed with all original parts (and cables). IOW, the bike and I were of the same model year. Our training plan was easy, each weekend we rode from our house to a lake and back home. A spring of riding and we were off to Iowa for RAGBRAI XVII. The highlights were dove bars, pork chops, and my front derailleur cable snapping and riding an entire day in the big ring. I don’t remember the trip being too hard, we covered 479 miles + the bonus day to hit a century. According to the event site, it was dubbed the hardest of the courses at the time, no big deal. Here we are dipping our wheels into the Mississippi river as proof of our finish and proof I’ve always had chicken legs!


That was it for cycling for me until I was working late one weekend afternoon and ended over by the lake to see the 2005 Chicago Triathlon. It seemed pretty cool, I swam through high school and had run a marathon a few years earlier. This seemed to be in my wheelhouse, I went online and bought a triathlon bike a 51cm Ironhorse and started training. I raced my first year on a bike that was crazy small for me and would get crushed on the bike portion of every race. In Miami, I was one of the top amateurs out of the water and listened to “Nice Swim Chicago” for 3hrs while I soft pedaled back to transition. I wisened up and was fitted by Adam at GetaGrip with new bike under me, the rest is history! I have countless triathlons under my belt with 3 Ironman finishes to my name. I’ve gotten into coaching with USAT and USAC and managed to make my girlfriend, Karin, faster than me. My goal for this season, stop getting chicked!

Kicking ass in triathlon!

I was friends with Geoff Scott via the Chicago Tri Club and somehow ended up in Jackson park for the Chicago Cross Cup in 2009. I watched a few races and thought this was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I was hooked, I was also completely burned out from a season of Ironman training. The fire was still burning and I showed up in Jackson park a year later to give it a go. I hung out all season with Geoff and Ken and would official join the Spidermonkeys after cross season ended. I just finished my first year with the team/club and love every second of it. You can find me at every cross race suffering like a dog and cowbelling for other Monkeys.

I’ll be around more this season, I’m adding some early road racing to my calendar before Triathlon season gets going and I plan to be a regular on the JJ Peppers ride. Cheap beer and trying to flog each other on the bike?!?! Sweet, I’m in.

So that’s my story and thanks for reading!

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