Monthly Archives: July 2014


Sometimes I pick up a book or a magazine that just seems to resonate with me or say just what I need to hear. This time it was a magazine.

Last Tuesday it rained. Somehow it often rains, or threatens to rain, on one of my favorite midweek afternoons. On Tuesdays my group ride, RoadSpokes 201, congregates at about 5 and heads out on the roads by 5:30 p.m. It is an amazing group of a variety of riders who join together simply to ride, to enjoy having company, and to train a little and/or learn a little.

Usually by Tuesday I have sent out an email with a suggested training plan or principle to think about and use. Or not. This time, however, it had looked like our ride was destined to be cancelled. On my way to the parking lot, I grabbed an August Bicycling Magazine that had just arrived in my mailbox.

Well, wouldn’t you know, it cleared up and by 5 riders began to arrive. I needed something to share. I opened Bicycling and found the perfect article on riding in the heat. Here is some of what I learned and shared:

1. A handy formula for riding in the heat and perhaps cutting back in intensity (giving yourself “permission” to do so?) is to add the temperature to the relative humidity. If the total is 130 or more, dial back. When we rode Tuesday it started out as 85 degrees with relative humidity of 55. We started with a nice ride out and then picked up the pace for a fun and fast ride. Great ride:)

2. When preparing for an event (like the OR Century), and especially if you anticipate hot and humid weather, consume fluids liberally throughout the entire preceding week.

3. Be sure to include a combination of carbs and protein in your post ride fuel – not only is protein needed for repair, but it also helps hold replenishing fluids.

In the Know How section, there was a great article, Keep It Simple, dispelling the myths of perceived hard and fast “rules” used by the pros. “Alison Tetrick of Team Twenty16 explains what makes sense in the real world.” For example: if you’re riding with friends and feeling great (or not great), ditch your training plan and enjoy the day.

 “Ride for four or more hours multiple days a week. Do this instead. You probably don’t have unlimited spare time, and unless you’re training for a big-mileage event, you don’t need to put in endless hours of pedaling week in and week out. Maintain or improve our fitness by building high-intensity efforts into rides of an hour or two. Go to to choose from a variety of intervals that will make you stronger and faster.”

On the other hand, on another page, Bill Stickland quotes from a forgotten source: “Ride for at least 30 minutes a day. If you’re too busy to do that, you better ride for an hour.”


 Perhaps my fav, however, is “Small Mercies,” a piece by Heidi Swift for her regular column JOY RIDE. In it she tells of incidents when she was struggling on a ride, being dropped or fighting wind. Each time another rider(s) returned to help her finish. Referring to each, she concludes: “…reminded me of my humanity-of our humanity-that who we are and how we behave on the bike is simply an amplified version of who we are in the world. That our bicycles can transport us and transform us-but that they can also crack us open and lay us bare and force us to be raw and honest and exposed. That we can choose in the worst moments to treat each other with compassion and that maybe, as cyclists just as with other people, we are really only as good as our last small act of mercy.”

For many, if not most, of us, riding is about so much more than being first. Performance matters. But it is the process, the shared dreams and goals and fears, the small accomplishments, the tiny victories along with the seemingly large defeats, and the people, that matter most.

Perhaps it is what cycling is all about. It is work, hard work. It is learning and training. It is exposing oneself to things that scare us, things that can break us. It is baring oneself to vistas and emotions that can only be seen and experienced from a bike. It is a climb, an opportunity to grow, to enlarge, to find patience and strength you did not know you possess. It is a downhill, a release, a shout of pure joy, abandon. It is motivation, dedication, endurance. It is real life played out on a small saddle on two skinny tires.

RoadSpokes is the proverbial pebble dropped into the pond. By meeting and riding weekly, we connect, make friends, find cycling partners for other times, other routes, other training. We adhere strictly to a no-drop policy. Encouragement and camaraderie flows freely, stories are swapped and advice is exchanged.

Yes, riding alone can be beneficial and a privilege; as one rider recently dubbed it, a “zen” ride. But there’s nothing like meeting up with, riding and then celebrating our sport and our friends. I wish you both, along with miles and miles of safe and happy memories.

just do it

Recently I wrote a short piece for ACTIVE VERMONT, my page in the Rutland Herald/Times Argus Sunday newspaper, that sparked interest and generated comments from a number of readers.  Clearly we all suffer from the same reticence to perform certain deeds,complete particular training plans or take the steps needed to meet goals. Several have told me that they connected with this concept, they aspire to the notion that sometimes we need to “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps,” (wherever did that saying come from? surely it’s obsolete but we get the point), and, well, just do it.

July is a month packed with notable sports that lure us to the home screen. Wimbledon Tennis (June 23-July 6);  FIFA World Cup Soccer (June 12-August 13); Tour de France (July 5-27); MLB All-Star Game (July 15); British Open (July 17-20): and surely more draw us like magnets to a cooler indoor setting and a comfy chair. That’s fine. There’s room in our days to spectate as well as participate. There’s a place for R&R, team spirit, camaraderie, and some level of motivation that sneaks in the back door when playing the observer position.

But, don’t forget, there are always two sides:  left and right, forward and back, offense and defense, (we’ll leave right and wrong off this field), and, of course, spectator and participant. Sometimes to assume the latter role one needs a push, to “just do it.”  Read on.

 Just do it. I say it often. I say it to my clients when I ask them to do a particular training exercise and they look at me with that are-you-nuts look. I say it to myself when I am dragging and need to walk into a room and appear energetic and encouraging to a group of individuals who are unsure about their fitness commitment. I say it when I sit down at my computer after a long day and know that I must say something significant in response to emails, post a blog or write my Sunday Active Vermont page. Sometimes I say it before my treasured training rides or even when the alarm goes off.

It works. JUST DO IT (stylized in all caps), coined by Nike in 1988 by Dan Wieden of Wieden and Kennedy ad agency, has become the go-to motivator for a large cross section of the world’s population. Last summer the slogan celebrated its 25th anniversary as one of the most recognized and often uttered phrases in all time. Remember, this was before the media and digital explosion erupted in texts and tweets, before “going viral” was a model.

JUST DO IT is more than a means to sell running shoes and appeals to far more than runners. The phrase is simple and invites definition. It is individual, offering a very personal connection.

In fact, the story of the inception of the phrase demonstrates the simplicity of the time as well. It seems that in an early ad, 80-year old Walt Stack jogged across Golden Gate Bridge. While doing so he shared tales of his daily 17mile run and quipped that in the winter he kept his teeth from chattering by leaving them in his locker.

Smith Rock is a well-know climbing mecca in Oregon that attracts climbers of many levels and abilities. In 1992 a French climber, Jean-Babtiste Tribout (known as J.B., born in 1961) scaled a route that had not previously been climbed. He named the ascent “Just do it.” Today that route is rated as a 5.14. Its overhanging wall is known as the most difficult climbing in America.

Is there a connection between Smith Rock and Nike? Presumably it is merely coincidental, but the spirit is the same.

Perhaps that is the magic of JUST DO IT. It is a sentiment that works for each of us; it easily rolls off the tongue. Basic or erudite, the concept can be found in any collection of memorable quotes. For example: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” (H.Thurman, African-American writer).

Or: “Do it no matter what. If you believe in it, it is something very honorable. If somebody around you or your family does not understand it, then that’s their problem. But if you do have a passion, an honest passion, just do it.” (Mario Andretti, and we all know who he is.)

Often there is no right or wrong, no hard and fast rule, no all or nothing. Often there is “just do it.”

didn't get lost on this century

didn’t get lost on this century