Monthly Archives: April 2014



“You may remember your first childhood bike. Once those training wheels were gone, you were a new kid; you were INDEPENDENT. You could hop on your bike and go where you wanted.

Your first bike was a gift from your folks, a hand-me-down, or purchased at the then equivalent to Toys-R-Us. If you were lucky, you got to go pick out your own bike at a local sporting goods store. To you, color was most important. The selection process was most likely simple: you fell in love with one, an adult checked to see if you could reach the pedals and the handlebars and, if you were really lucky, you got to put a bell on your bike and maybe even a basket or some cool decals.

What’s wrong with this picture? Very little. Perhaps the most important thing about kids and their bikes is that they get outside and they play. Early riding is more about play and games and tricks than it is about logging miles.

Now that you are an adult, the scenario may be quite different. If you own a bike, you respect it, you take care of it and you might even baby it. You may ride for fitness, recreation, competition or simply to get to and from work. In any event, you are logging miles. When you consider the number of times your legs go around in circles on a given ride, you begin to suspect that how they go around could be very important. It is. For cycling safety, comfort, efficiency and effectiveness, bike fit is the yardstick as well as the foundation of your experience.

What is bike fit? I asked Ian Buchanan, Founder of Fit Werx in Waitsfield. “It is a way of making sure a body will work on the bike,” Buchanan said. It’s all about you, the rider, your biomechanics, your technique. When what is uniquely individual about you: your strength, flexibility and attitude, are married to the mechanics of the bike, you free your potential to soar.” (to read the complete story, see the Rutland Herald and Times Argus, Active Vermont, Sunday, May 4, 2014)

fitwerx linda

Recently I had the privilege of spending a morning with Ian Buchanan at Fit Werx in Waitsfield. (pictured above – photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur) Yes, Ian, an experienced and very well respected professional bike fitter, fit my current road bike to me. But, my hours spent with Ian were packed with unintended benefits.

For one thing, I had to deeply consider myself. I needed to think hard about who I am, where I come from and where I hope to go as a cyclist. (Perhaps first I had to consider myself a cyclist. Always a bit self-deprecating, I needed to take a big gulp to even say the words.) I needed to recognize my strengths (yes, there are a few) and my weaknesses (sigh). Above all I had to say “I’m worth this,” and believe it. (I’m still working on that one.)

I’m worth WHAT, you may say? Ok, there is a fee involved and, if one pursues a better bike fit and ultimately a bike more suited to one’s body, fitness and goals, there is an even larger investment. But the cost is not all in dollars and cents. Part of the cost is in definition. One must recognize that he or she IS already a cyclist, spends hours in the saddle, rides for many miles, and can identify cycling as his or her go-to passion. After that, the rest becomes a matter of organization.

Establishing goals, a bucket list, begins the process. Structuring a means of reaching those goals and then paying the cost of energy and dedication comprises the continuing journey. The payoff is in finding sheer joy in riding, companionship and a sense of accomplishment. Byproducts include a more fit and healthy body, strength, endurance, self-discipline and a sense of what can only be experienced as happiness.

A bike is a partner, an extension of the rider. It must fit perfectly. We’re talking mm here. The many pieces of a bike can be tweaked and maneuvered into the form that best matches the skills, flexibility and size of the rider. If I learned only one thing during my bike fit session, I learned that IT’S ALL ABOUT THE RIDERS. It’s personal, individual and as complicated as each rider. Complexities, however, can be resolved and reworked into an efficient whole.

My bike fit was surprising and motivating. I was surprised to learn that some of the discomforts that I had assumed were simply a part of riding (“just get over it”) were, in fact, indicators of inappropriate fit. As the bike fit procedure progressed I learned more and more about my own specific pedal stroke and cycling technique and left motivated to reach new levels of ability.

Is a bike fit for everyone? Yes. If you ride, you should ride a bike that is suitable for you. Whether you are mountain bike, cyclocross, hybrid, or roadbike-specific, your bike should fit YOU.

Bike fit is not a candidate for the DIY generation. For my road bike, I chose to visit Fit Werx and was not disappointed. Some bike shops in the area offer bike fit. My recommendation would be to seek a certified professional bike fitter. (Aaron Bilsing at Onion River Sports in Montpelier has recently certified as a bike fit specialist.) Of course, there is variation within the profession but it’s a good place to start. In any event, do it. Now at the beginning of the season is a great time. It may take a few weeks to adjust to a newly fitted bike, but it’s worth the effort. You will eventually see changes in performance and comfort, i.e. overall cycling experience.

RoadSpokes 2014 with Onion River Sports

April 16, 2014

RoadSpokes will begin, weather permitting, May 6th and 7th. For the season Formerly Cycling 101, RoadSpokes is the same concept with a different look.

This year RoadSpokes is a club. Visitors are welcome, but in order to receive additional benefits, riders have the option to join. See below for details.

Riders are encouraged to purchase a RoadSpokes jersey (beautifully designed by Carrie at ORS), to train for all or part of the Onion River Century Ride on Saturday, July 26th, to form friendships and find compatible riding buddies for rides other than midweek and to observe responsible cycling practices at all times. Remember; when you ride you demonstrate what is best about the cycling community in Central Vermont. You represent RoadSpokes, Onion River Sports, and, in fact, all of us.

A well-maintained bike, sufficient emergency equipment, spare tube and tire repair items, fore and aft lights, RoadID, water bottle, and, of course a helmet are strongly recommended and/or mandated.

As you will read below, RoadSpokes 201 will meet from 5 p.m. at Montpelier High School on Tuesdays. Following discussion and training tips or plans for the evening’s ride, bikes will roll out at 5:30. As we work with daylight hours, traffic, and our improving conditioning throughout the weeks, these rides will vary a bit, but will mostly follow Route 2 to 100B to Moretown, perhaps over the Duxbury Gap or out Route 12 towards Elmore. Each ride will be designated in advance.

RoadSpokes 101 is a gentler ride, a training hour or so dedicated to the less experienced or the timid, the rider who wisely choses to add a modest ride to his or her weekly schedule, a cyclist who is rehabbing an injury, or for those who are not geared for a road bike – yet. The timing is the same: arrive 5-5:30 pm., MHS. Training begins at 5:30.

I will be present for both 201 and 101 as will a staff member from ORS. We stand by our “no drop” policy and will leave no one on the road. (The penalty for stopping at the Creemee Stand is that you must buy us a creemee too.) ORS will assist with maintenance issues that can be performed on the road, but we urge you to have your pre-season tune up and any subsequent necessary maintenance done by the staff in the shop at ORS.

All riders must sign a release before first ride.

Registration forms are to be made available in the shop (ORS on Langdon Street) by the end of April.

If you have any further questions, please contact me by emailing, or speak with any staff member at Onion River Sports, 229-9409.  See you soon! Linda


Linda Freeman Fitness

Linda Freeman Fitness


Onion River Sports’ Road Cycling Club open to everyone who rides a bike. We strive to get more folks comfortable cycling on the road and help them improve bike handling skills, group riding skills, and fitness while offering the opportunity to meet other local folks who love to ride.

What you get: a 10% discount on cycling accessories and clothing at Onion River Sports and the best price we can manage on bikes, discount on a club jersey, free clinics, group rides, and weekly emails with training info from our ride leader, Linda Freeman. If it all works well, we’ll throw in a celebration at the end of the season, too!

What it costs: $15

Group RoadSpokes Club Rides

Onion River Sports offers 2 weekly group rides for RoadSpokes club members. These rides are your best source of information and a wonderful place to grow your cycling skills in a friendly, supportive environment. Rides are fully supported by an Onion River Sports mechanic and are led by Linda Freeman.

Weekly rides are offered for individuals whose skills run from beginner through those comfortable riding a paceline. A season’s group ride series includes instruction, goal setting, bike maintenance advice, and information about training for an event. Our rides use the Onion River Century Ride on Saturday, July 26, 2014 as a training goal.

RoadSpokes 101 – Wednesdays beginning May 7th, weather permitting, through July 23

Used as either an introduction to cycling on the road, or as a relaxed ride for anyone who chooses to meet, RoadSpokes 101 is appropriate for all levels and for all bikes. These rides are supported and include instruction on many things that make riding more fun, comfortable, and easier, including: how to care for your bike, what to wear, safety on the road, how to fix a flat tire, and tips to improve your fitness with targeted training.

RoadSpokes 201 – Tuesdays beginning May 6th, weather permitting, through July 22

These rides are for individuals who are already comfortable on the road with road bikes recommended. (Don’t let the type of bike stop you, but riders on road bikes will be able to ride faster and target their training more effectively.) Rides will start at an appropriate pace and will increase in distance and intensity as we train for the Onion River Century Ride on July 27. We start from the same place and end at the same place, but riders spread out along the way to ride at their chosen pace, alone or in groups. Again, we honor our “no-drop” policy.


Check it out – the new Spinning® website.  You might want to return to this site now and then to read what is being said about you and your community and to compare notes with others across the nation and around the world.

Please comment.  Your feedback is valued and is an opportunity for sharing in the greater Spinning® community.


Below are links to two posts you might enjoy.  The first is about our local experience and the second is about the sense of community, using the 2014 Pedal to End Cancer as an example of what works best even in small places.

Later you will find posts about issues that concern us here in Vermont that connect us with those in studios everywhere.

Athletes in Spinning® Class: A Level Playing Field

How Spinning® Classes Create and Perpetuate Community



Periodized training often dovetails neatly with the seasons.  Those whose sport of choice involves warm weather, find themselves eager to move beyond the base building phase of late winter into accelerated training. There’s nothing like a spring thaw to motivate and build both strength and speed on the strong foundations out down in winter.

“If you plan to participate in an organized event, you need to be ramping up your training now. Over the winter you may have diligently spent hours establishing a base, but your base is just that, a foundation on which to build. It is time to do so. In keeping with the season, move to the next level, literally or figuratively “put a spring in your step.” As you have steadily logged miles at moderate intensity, your body has become stronger and more efficient. You find that you are able to travel farther in the same amount of time and that you are now eager to reach for more.”  Linda Freeman, Active Vermont, Sunday April 13, 2014, Rutland Herald and Times Argus.

Though a Vermont spring brings its challenges:  swollen rivers and brooks, mud and more mud, pot holes and debris, wind and chill, even random snow, the season ignites an anticipatory feeling, a guarantee that Vermont’s incredible, clean, dazzling summer is just around the corner. Spring teases.  Spring is playful.

Vermont spring snowfall.

Early a.m. April 16, 2014 Vermont.

“Putting a spring in your step may mean spicing up your outdoor activity with some pick-ups, or brief bursts of energy. Short and sweet, pick-ups are also fun. Go ahead, play. Skip, hop, run, chase, tag and race. These mini bouts of effort, or intervals, teach your body to accelerate as well as recover. Consistent, moderate intensity exercise is vastly important in your overall plan, but segments of hard work spike capability, confidence and fitness. Not surprisingly, the byproduct of intervals is as much mental and emotional as physical. Energy is not depleted by exercise. As it increases, so does enthusiasm, motivation and a sense of optimism.  As you pick up the pace, you find you will identify your progress and become eager to see how much more you can achieve. You learn to accept tests as part of the process. Small victories suggest possibilities that you approach with appropriately eager anticipation, with a spring in your step.” (Active Vermont ibid)

Wherever you live, whatever you do, pause to take stock.  It is time to spring clean body and soul as well as house and home.  It is time to organize and tune up sports equipment, gardening tools, and recreational gear.  It is time to shed winter’s stored body fat.

Remember you cannot pick up where you left off last fall.  You may be fresh and eager, but you must merge mindfully with your spring training.  Accelerate yes, but only when you are warmed up, strong and fleet enough to do so.  A pre-season injury is maximum disappointment. Bit by bit increase the intensity, add the pop and fizzle, and put a spring in your step that will become a force to reckon with as it develops over the season and gives you a summer of satisfying play, sport, competition and recreation.


Active individuals collectively form a community of athletes irrespective of sport, fitness, skill level, competitive ranking, gender, age, socio-economic background or address. If you move deliberately, train purposefully and do so regularly, you are an athlete. You may run a marathon or walk a 5k; ride 100 miles or participate in a weekly time trial; paddle rapids, race or meander about in coves; tour through the woods or bump down steeps.

Some are gym-based athletes lifting, running, stepping and dancing within four walls. Here in Vermont, most are outdoor athletes at some point during the year if not all year round participating in a variety of sports appropriate to the climate and conditions of each season. But all are athletes.

Pedal to End Cancer

Pedal to End Cancer

A web definition of community is: “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”

That, friends, is exactly what brings together cyclists, runners, hikers; friends, neighbors, families and strangers – all within a shared, athletic community.

This week the new Spinning® website,, launched. I was privileged to be a part of this new beginning. (

Writing the Spinning® blog post made me stop to consider the value of community. High school and college team sports often segue into individual sports. Individual sports trained in a vacuum run the risk of burn-out. There are, of course, times when one can speak eloquently of the value of solitude and silence. Perhaps solo and ensemble are necessary. Community promotes safety, motivation and progress. Conversation enlightens, shared effort sustains. There is an intimacy that occurs among athletes who lay down the miles together, a closeness that adds new meaning to the work as intensity transcends struggle to reach achievement.

Today I met with a beautiful person who is an equally beautiful runner. Without sentimentality, but with strong emotion, she spoke of her Boston Marathon experience 2013. Her story will appear in ActiveVT, Rutland Herald/Times Argus Sunday edition 4-20-2014, the day before the 2014 Boston Marathon. Over and over she spoke of her running community, as both local and universal. From her friends at work to her running club to the thousands upon thousands of marathoners who run, she is supported by her community. She is never alone.

This year she will return to Boston, not physically accompanied by her running partners, but as part of a larger-than-life group of like-minded individuals striving for the same goal. Her running community will be within her.

If you do not have a group with whom to engage, make one. Call a relative, email a friend, ask them to bring another along and voila you have a community. Like everything else, it takes initiative, but it’s worth it. Once a part of that amazing community, you will never run (walk, hike, ski, paddle, ride, etc) alone.