Tag: VQ

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!

Spidermonkeys of the Week – Yvonne and Paul Tierney

Vegas 2013 with JT on the right

Vegas 2013 with JT

Hello Spidermonkeys,

We are the Tierney’s, Paul and Yvonne.  We are both from Galway, Ireland. We moved to Chicago for a year in February 1998 and have yet to go home.

We don’t have any cool bike stories like the rest of the SOTW, so we will fast forward to how and when we became Spidermonkeys.

We knew Dean through our gym, the YMCA.  We were also friends with the Bowens (Scott and Rox).  We did the MS ride with the Lakeview YMCA team back in 2010 along with Kyle, Scott and Rox.   The Bowens ditched us to ride with the Spidermonkeys, but I can’t say I blame them; we were on our commuter bikes after all.  That’s right; we did 75 miles on day 1 of the ride on our commuter bikes!!  Thank you I know that’s impressive.   I remember cursing every person that passed me on a road bike.  After that ride we realized we needed road bikes.   The very next day or week we paid a visit to Get a Grip, where Ken fitted us for two new Scott Road bikes.

MS Ride 2011

MS Ride 2011 with Roxanne

Before we continue the story, we need to remind you again that we have no experience whatsoever with riding or bikes or any of that stuff. …So now that we had these expensive bikes we needed to ride them.   We showed up to our first group ride at Element not knowing anyone except Dean.  Dean was kind enough to point out to the group that we made a horrible rookie mistake – our tires were flat!  Oops!  But aside from feeling completely embarrassed and stupid, we learned never take out the bikes without first putting air in the tires – So thank you Dean!

We did a few more group rides, the majority of them ended in pouring rain. We also did that North Shore Century that one year where it rained the whole time.  Paul did the whole ride with his bike shorts on backwards!!!   We were starting to feel like someone was trying to tell us something!   But with attending clinics at GAG, and listening to everything that people on the team told us along with the way, we were getting the hang of it.  Still PLENTY to learn but getting better with each ride.   Dean invited us as special guests to the end of year bash in 2011, and we officially joined the team in 2012.

We decided to go to spring training in Vegas in 2012 to get to know other team mates.  Again remember how little we know about riding, well we did the North Shore Century and didn’t ride again until Vegas.  We did it though and learned a ton.  I didn’t even know what a switch back was let alone ride my bike on one.   We had a blast.  Everyone on the team was so supportive, encouraging and helped us along the rides.   We decided to sign up for VQ to train in the off season.  We went to Vegas again this year and we surprised ourselves how much stronger we were.

Vegas 2012!

Vegas 2012!

We really are so happy to be a part of such a great team.    The great friends we have made and the new friends we make each and every time we get together with the Spidermonkeys.  This team is more than just a team; it’s like a big family.  We didn’t have any family in Chicago until we joined the Spidermonkeys. We can’t wait to ride in 2013!!

Caw caw


Guest Spidermonkey of the Week – VQ’s Dave Noda

Dave Noda!

by Dave Noda

Some questions I get asked often include:

  • How did you get into cycling?
  • How did you and Robbie meet?
  • How is it training with the Spider Monkeys?
  • Really? You’re 5’6”? Come on, are you sure you’re not exaggerating a little, Dave?

So yes, I really am 5’6”…but I am drinking milk and hopefully one day…

I started cycling and endurance training on a bet. Well, not so much a bet, but as the result of one of those times when all my closest buddies were sitting around and came up with an idea: “Hey, has anyone watched that TV show, EcoChallenge?” The more talking we did, the more I thought “Yeah, I can do that. Heck, I could do really good…” And then we talked for the rest of the night about how we were all “in” and we were going to train and work out, really get ready for it.

And then came the day of the registration boom. My friends were nowhere to be found. They would have been quick to reply to an “I’m buying the beers” text, but at that moment I could not locate a single one to save my life.

So my brother and I decided instead to do something similar. We decided to try that thing called a “triathlon.” I signed up for the ruthless, unforgiving terrain of the “Fleet Feet Super Sprint Triathlon” and boy, let me tell you, I was pumped!

For those that have no idea of the distances involved, let me educate you:

  • 0.25 mile swim
  • 6.2 mile bike ride
  • 1.5 mile run

Naturally, I took off from work that Monday knowing I was going to be cooked after this big race!

Yep. I took that Monday off. It’s funny to think about where you come from. I came from a stick and ball background: some baseball, lots of basketball (laugh…it’s ok…you’re reading…I’m not in front of you), and football (keep laughing). The endurance thing was new to me. I had no idea what I was in for, but wanted to do it. When it came to training, my brother and I just knew we could train ourselves. We had both been in the Marine Corps and felt that if we could handle the Marines, we could definitely handle a triathlon. Some of our training consisted of riding our bikes with medicine balls in backpacks for a maximum of 5 miles, but most were 3-mile rides. And don’t get me started on swimming at the Y. Through it all, we just knew “no one–NO ONE–is training harder than we are!”

I’ll save you all a Google search. My time was 58:29.

After the race–and the well deserved Monday off–I knew I loved it. The best part of it was that I truly sucked and still felt that feeling of “wow, I can get better at this.” So after that stellar performance at the triathlon, my brother and I decided to try another one, but this time, why not try that Ironman thing?

Dave Noda!

How I got connected with Vision Quest Coaching

Around 2004 I started looking into actual coaching services. My brother had just joined VQ and he was drinking the kool-aid for sure. He wanted me to try it out, so finally one day, I did. I joined one of the slower rides on a Saturday. (Back then Robbie was still on the USPS Team and a group ride was really just how long you could stay on his wheel.) When my brother told me the ride was 40 miles, I said, “OK, I’m in. Should I book the hotel for the stay-over or will you?” The chuckle you’re having now is exactly what my brother had then.

When I first joined and met Robbie, our relationship was funny. I’m not too hyper-competitive and it seemed like he always saw me on group rides not going too hard or just at the wrong times. He thought I was a slacker.

The moment I remember though was on that first 40-mile bike ride. We were going home and I was cracked, more than you can imagine. But we still had another 7- to 8- mile ride ahead of us. Robbie yelled out, “OK guys, let’s go nice and easy home and not go hard.” People were talking and chit-chatting and there I was in this group of about 50, barely hanging on. (One lady wearing sandals with clips and a frog on her helmet dropped me!) I got frustrated and started pedaling harder, which lasted all of 5 seconds. Then Robbie dropped back to me and said “Hey, how you doing?” I could have lied, but my face and tongue couldn’t. So I told him I was hurting. “Don’t worry, we’ll get you home.” He ended up pushing me 7 miles, all the way home, with his hand on my back. Let me tell you how much of an ego-killer that was! But it also told me how cool VQ was. It brought the brotherhood I’d had in the Marine Corps into cycling.

We are all into cycling for one reason or another. For some it’s stress relief, some it’s lifestyle, and some to stay in shape. At first, I did it so that pushing situation would NEVER happen again. Moreover, it motivated me to get better and know that I could make it happen as long as I put in the time. I could move from the back of the pack to the front of the pack (still trying to get there though).

At that time, I was in finance, doing residential loans for the family business since 1995. I have always loved business and looking at Vision Quest back then, I saw so many opportunities! One example was the weekly e-mail. Robbie would send a quick e-mail from Lake Bluff to the local people up there. I would then rewrite it a bit to customize for the Chicago group. (At that time, we were a solid 10-strong in Chicago meeting at the Running Away on Damen.) As we grew, I suggested a weekly e-mail sent out to let everyone know what we were doing on a week-to-week basis. It went from a one-line e-mail to now including videos, pictures, and links to sign up for rides. Another example was membership. Back then, athletes either joined for the full boat membership (annually, all at once) or nothing. We talked about needing a hybrid, something that allowed people to “taste” what Vision Quest had to offer. We scheduled it at times that VQ wasn’t busy, on a specific day each week for 8 weeks. Originally it was to be the same 8-week program each time, but people loved it, so we made it a staple class. It has grown each and every year since.

My passion on the whole is not cycling. My passion is getting people to see something in themselves that they might not even be able to see yet–just like Robbie did with me. Endurance is such a great sport. The older you get and the more time you put in, the better you get. It’s a sport wherein you really can’t size people up as with other sports. And best of all, you have to leave your EGO at the door and be open-minded, for sure.

Dave and Phil Liggett

How is it training with the Spidermonkeys?

Well, I don’t want this to be too long. All I can say is that it’s great. It’s a lot of fun to have a group of people that are such great representatives of the sport, while having fun and being smartasses at the same time. Spidermonkeys has grown each year, now even doing camps in Vegas and holding holiday parties. I can’t say enough about how much fun it is to do the Thursday class and know that everyone is there to train, but also have fun.

Kudos to Dean, Vanessa, and all the Spidermonkeys for being such ambassadors of the sport! I can’t wait til Thursday! We will have a lot to talk about after this blog!

Just admiring the scenery …

and last, but not least …


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