Category Archives: Cycling

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KELLY BRUSH RIDE 2017 – PLAYING SMALL OR LIVING LARGE

PLAYING SMALL OR LIVING LARGE – Sometimes, the unimaginable does actually happen. I find it beyond comprehension, even arrogant, to try to understand, or worse, experience, what it must be like to be so completely different from other “normal,” able-bodied humans that when your brain says “do this,” your body says “no.” Sure, we all get fatigued; we complain that after a long day on the hill, many miles cycled or many feet climbed our “legs feel like led” and it’s hard to walk up/down the steps. (And then, of course, there’s that old goodie – after too many squats and lunges you just can’t get up off the toilet seat!) But to know the reality of bodies that simply don’t move, don’t’ get the message, is just … beyond.

Hand cyclists at the start of the Kelly Brush Ride 2017 at which the fund-raising goal of $500,000 was surpassed.

KELLY BRUSH DAVISSON – I invite you to go to www.kellybrushfoundation.org where you will find more information than I can even hint at in this post. Read Kelly’s story. From the ski racing accident that left her permanently paralyzed (T7 and below), to her many athletic achievements, career, marriage, childbirth (yup, all but the labor pains), motherhood, and who knows what she might choose to address in future years.

But for Kelly and her husband Zeke Davisson, it’s now all about (parenting, of course and) the Kelly Brush Foundation which works aggressively year round to raise funds to translate into grants for adaptive sports equipment for those challenged by spinal cord injuries and to help promote ski racing safety.

You might want to check out the story I wrote for the Rutland Herald and Times Argus Active Vermont page after meeting with Kelly and Zeke in Maine in 2015.http://lindafreemanfitness.com/2015/08/27/kelly-brush-century-ride/ What I remember most, and what compels me to continually support the KBF, is: There are two types of individuals who submit grant applications. One is clearly the athlete, perhaps injured during his or her athletic pursuit. The other is the individual who may or may not have been previously active but suddenly sees the possibilities of adding something to his or her altered life expectations. Adaptive sports programs that offer coaching and equipment fill an essential role in developing adaptive athletes and introducing the potential to engage in sports. “We want to be the next step,” Zeke said. “We want to offer to that individual the ability to take ownership of an active lifestyle, and to be able to join family and friends when and where the opportunity exists.”

Initially I had decided not to ride this summer as I would be indulging in my study and practice of yoga and the joys of walking and hiking with my growing Lab pup. With a full work schedule, there are only so many hours to go around; but …

STOP PLAYING SMALL – I met Alison Heilig at Teaching Yoga to Athletes training with Sage Rountree at Kripalu in January 2017. We became instant friends. She is an amazing woman who gives freely and puts herself out there with complete honesty. Earlier this summer she posted this on her Facebook page and it hit home:

“Yesterday I made a decision to put myself out there in a way that’s incredibly exciting but also terrifyingly vulnerable – triggering the broken record of all my old, familiar doubts and fears. I can feel myself wanting to contract, slow down, pull back and shrink into comfort. But it’s time to stop playing small – I can feel it in my bones. So here I go, feeling the uncomfortable sensation of fear … and doing it anyway.” Alison Heilig http://thepursuitofawesome.com

I chewed on this a bit and wondered what I might do. Nothing? But then eventually I knew. In other years I had trained meticulously for my cycling season, which had always culminated in the Kelly Brush Century Ride. Drifting into purposeless activity had not been satisfying. So, I registered for the Event, lubed my bike and hit the road. Once the commitment was made, it felt good. Besides, as a Personal Trainer, I know that motivation and accountability are key components to any successful fitness endeavor. Signing up for something is a solid dose of both!

This is what I posted on my Participant’s Page for the Ride: “Each year this amazing ride is personally different and unique. My son Teague and his wife Tara rode the Kelly Brush Ride together in 2009 – it was Teague’s first, but Tara, one of Kelly’s Middlebury Ski Teammates, has been in since the beginning. I was on the course in 2009, but as a journalist, not a cyclist. The following year my first ever century ride was, yup, you guessed it, the Kelly Brush Century. And it was painful – on a heavy bike and only my first year riding on the road (actually my first year on a bike – no kidding).
Six years and many centuries later, I met my time goal, wearing Tara’s original jersey, and had the most fun ever. My first 50 were with Teague on my wheel and I couldn’t have been happier.
Each year has been special and meaningful – whether 50 or 100 (or one year something in between) – each has been an achievement and a poignant reminder of why I was out there – connecting with adaptive cyclists of all types. My rides have integrated training, goals, family, friends, and purpose. I value the friendship of Kelly and Zeke and am constantly humbled by Kelly’s courage. Is there anything this woman cannot do?!
Frankly, I had not intended to participate this year. But one day, walking my Lab puppy around Berlin Pond, I passed a hand cyclist clearly in training. I called out “Hey! Are you doing the Kelly Brush Ride?” He smiled a huge smile and replied “YES!” So, of course, I said “See you there!” I was still on the fence, but a few days later Teague gave me a nudge.
So, here I am. In a very small way, I know the gratification of digging deep (if only for a few hours) and reaching a goal. Once again this year I have a goal – a cycling goal and a fund raising goal – to help support the Kelly Brush Foundation and all the recipients of their work.”

Cycling partners-keeping it in the family. KBRide, 2017.

POST RIDE – Bottom line, I rode those 50 miles (which might previously have been an easy trek, but which made me reach), with huge pleasure and finished with gratification.Furthermore, I added to my collection yet another ride with my kid

Oh yes, there’s plenty more – I supported a cause in which I deeply believe. I rode for these brilliant people on the road with me and I rode for those who got out their checkbooks (figuratively) to support me. [A few #s: 810 riders; $514,499 raised.]

I’m glad I chose to take the risk, do the work, and breathe through my anxiety. I’m glad I chose to stop playing small. As I said, it felt good.

SEPTEMBER 8, 2018 – KELLY BRUSH RIDE 2018 – It’s on my calendar. How about yours?

LF greeting a biker on the Kelly Brush Century Ride.

MOTIVATION IS WHAT GETS YOU STARTED

Motivation is one of those words so broadly defined as to be almost useless. It is useless, that is, unless you find a definition that works for you.

Let’s consider a few of the synonyms of motivation found in the reliable world of the Thesaurus: catalyst, desire, encouragement, impetus, incentive, reason, wish.

Okay, motivation is what gets you started. We get that. It is the catalyst, the impetus, the incentive that begins feebly with a wish and more positively with desire and reason. Furthermore it is supported by encouragement.

Delving more deeply, we find that motivation is about action, drive and hunger. Now we’re talking. Motivation leads to passion and passion is what fuels our spirits as well as our actions. Of course, this is the piece of the motivation pie in which it is possible to overindulge.

Motivation is also referred to as get-up-and-go or the right-stuff.

Goodness knows we do not want to venture into the dark side of the word, the antonyms. Hatred, discouragement, depression and above all dullness are not where we want to live our days.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” 

Jim Ryun won a silver medal in the 1968 summer Olympics in track and field. Did you know that? Possibly not. However, you may well have read the above, one of his often quoted and pithy sayings. It’s quite true. Try it.

Find motivation and then seek ways to stay motivated until what you have begun, putting one foot in front of another, like it or not, becomes habit; and habit becomes what you like, and putting one foot in front of another becomes what you really want and choose to do.

Consider the word encouragement. It works both ways. You and I can encourage each other to be or do something, but we must be equally open to receive encouragement if it is to be useful. Encouragement offers support, helps to build confidence and bolsters an attitude of hope. Encouragement is far more than rah-rah cheering. On one hand, it is kind, while on the other promotes boldness and audacity. When we offer encouragement to another, we do so because we believe in him or her, we have faith that another individual is capable, strong, resilient and worthy. Again this works both ways in giving and receiving, offering and accepting.

DAILY

By now we have settled into a new year. 2016 is official. The sprint to the finish of the old year is a thing of the past. We’ve had time to reboot and are now running smoothly into the winter months. Seasonal events, snow sports, winter carnivals, taxes and an onslaught of ads for spring and summer clothing and gear blur visions of the immediate future.

Whatever momentum was built or destroyed in the previous month must be reset as well. It is time to consider personal progress towards health and fitness. It is here that the concept of DAILY is significant.

Fitness is not something acquired by going to a class, maneuvering through a weight circuit, or hitting the treadmill once a week. Fitness is cumulative. It is something that needs to be addressed daily. By doing so, bit-by-bit you will enjoy progress and reap the rewards.

If you are a competitive athlete or already engaged in strenuous physical training, you know that you need to balance your hard days with easy days. You know that intensity must vary and you know that there are multiple elements to fitness.

For those seeking health, increased strength and well being as part of their everyday lives, exercise is a key component, but does not need to be overwhelming.

What is needed, however, is to exercise DAILY. Some days your workout, or training session, will be short and some days long. Some sessions will be intense and others easy. Sometimes you will emphasize flexibility or balance or endurance while at other times you will simply walk the dog or stroll with friends. What is important is to make the HABIT of exercise a DAILY habit. Soon you will look forward to your time even if you cannot imagine doing so right now.

Let me share some examples with you.

I am new to the practice of yoga. I have learned that to practice yoga at home, preferably at the start of the day, is a good habit to acquire. Since my days are full of professional training, I dismissed this concept, until recently. I have learned that as little as 20 minutes spent with my notes and yoga mat transform my day.

Four days a week I work with a group at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont. Our 45-minute, lunchtime sessions are a testament of what small group personal training can do in the corporate setting. Some dedicated employees are able to attend all four sessions per week and others do so as work permits. Over the years the energy, enthusiasm, education and training has reached a high level. What’s more, in addition to increased strength, fitness, flexibility and balance, these athletes (and, yes, each and everyone has become an athlete) have gained the confidence to try new things and have much fun while doing so.

While many find it best to address their exercise needs in the morning before the day begins, others find the evening the time most do-able. There is no right or wrong. There is no one form of exercise, one piece of equipment or one sport that is better than another. The bottom line is always that the training that you will do is the training that is best.

Above, I alluded to education. For most individuals, exercise science is interesting, enjoyable, and provides a sense of purpose to one’s efforts. While it is not necessary to be able to recite the names of all the muscles, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments and nerves in the human body, it is very helpful to understand the muscular-skeletal system and how it works.

It is easier to strength train, for example, in a balanced manner when you know that the biceps are the opposing muscle group to the triceps; that when you work the quadriceps, you should also train the hamstrings, when you stretch the shins you should also stretch the calf muscles, and so on.

Learning more about your cardiovascular system and aerobic exercise helps you to understand the value of active exercise and to assess intensity to appropriately enhance the strength of the most important muscle in your body, your heart.

Now I refer you back to the word DAILY. I hope you will consider taking the challenge and making exercise a deliberate and purposeful part of each day of your life. Of course you must do so in a way that accommodates family and work, a way that provides for sickness, injury, weather conditions and all the other obstacles to a smoothly executed daily plan.

I invite you to record your efforts in whatever way you choose. Perhaps what will support your plans is to join a class, buddy up with a friend or work with a fitness professional. Perhaps you have the time to explore the internet or browse through one of the many exercise books on the market. Hopefully you will take advantage of the many steps you can add to your day by choosing options to the elevator, remote, auto and chair.

Admittedly it takes a bit of gumption to get outdoors when the temperature is chilly and the air damp, but go ahead. Bundle up. Give a companion a nudge. Open the door and walk out. See what happens.

Energy creates energy. Rather than fatiguing, moving muscles stimulates more action. Activity promotes positive effects to body and mind. It’s a wonderful give and take, an excellent continuum.

Does it all go back to the hypothesis of motivation? Recently I read that one of the top ten resolutions for cyclists (also applying to athletes of any sport) is to be sure that each ride, each training session, has a purpose, structure. Don’t just exercise to get it over with. Think about why you are training and prepare to reach the eventuality you desire. No more junk miles.

On the cover of a magazine that arrived in my mailbox yesterday is the title of an article, “Harness the Power of Intention” steps to make lasting change. These steps have universal application and appeal. It all begins with finding out what you want. Learn more about what you need to do to achieve your goal; become an informed participant. Commit to your goals, your dreams and persevere. Be diligent and disciplined enough to give yourself the opportunity to achieve. Finally look ahead and envision yourself as you wish to be. (Yoga Journal, February 2016, Make this your year, by Elizabeth Marglin.)

BEGIN EACH DAY WITH INTENTION.

BEGIN EACH DAY WITH INTENTION.

Yes, intention, motivation, a new year. They are gifts to be used. May we all do so and do so daily.

SAFETY ON THE ROAD for ALL USERS

Vermont cyclist by Jeb Wallace Brodeur

Vermont cyclist by Jeb Wallace Brodeur

When it comes to the measure of a wheel chair, stroller, tractor, horse, cyclist or pedestrian against a vehicle that carries passengers, tools, gravel or freight, there’s clearly no contest.

TAKING THE LEAD FOR SAFETY ON THE ROAD

On Sunday, September 13, I sat down with a cup of coffee and the Rutland Herald & Times Argus. Mike Smith’s Commentary entitled “My friend Tim” grabbed my attention. Oh man, I thought, here we go again. Another cycling story. Another cycling fatality. Is it hopeless? Is this ever going to go away? Will I ever get on my bike without thinking a dark thought about the end of my ride?

The answer to each of these questions is probably NO.

Smith spoke eloquently. Of the four cycling fatalities here in our Vermont this season, and that of his close friend, Tim, Smith drew three conclusions, three lessons, three positive actions to be taken. One was a no-brainer, something we know all too well and still fail to do. Say I love you and say it now.

A second was to pursue safety more aggressively and in doing so recognize the vulnerability of those inadequate to receive the force of a collision with a vehicle.

His third point forced me to write yet another editorial on pedestrian and cycling safety in this, our own small, very small, piece of the world. “Someone needs to stand up and lead,” Smith said. Well, yes. Oh so many of us support efforts to make our streets and roads safer for every user, but who is taking the lead? Are we simply saying “Yes, of course, something needs to be done, this is so sad, this is scary, this is tragic…” then wring our hands and walk away? Who will take the lead? Will you?

The first annual Kelly Brush Century Ride.  photo supplied

The first annual Kelly Brush Century Ride. photo supplied

We live in a generous, blended community. The day before reading Smith’s story, I had the privilege of participating in the Kelly Brush Century Ride out of Middlebury. We rode 100 miles across farmlands, along the Lake, through Panton, Vergennes, and Ferrisburg, past Mt. Philo, into Hinesburg, beside the Shelburne Museum and Wake Robin, back along the Lake, over Ferry Road, and making our way arduously back to Middlebury passing railroad tracks, highways, cows, even a curious horse walking down the middle of a country road. In so doing we cycled evenly through an enormous swath of people and lifestyles, culture and education, survival and affluence, and beauty.

Interestingly as I pedaled and often labored, I took particular notice of those helping us safely manipulate what could have been dangerous cross roads. The ride was well organized and those who assisted along the way did so with what I found to be surprising involvement. I was particularly struck by law enforcement officers, stationed for long hours on the road to stop traffic for a group of cyclists (boring, right?), who smiled, offered words of encouragement and even thanked us for doing what we were doing, riding to raise funds for a worthy cause. Very nice.

Motorists, with a few exceptions, were polite, curious, and cheerful.

We’re getting there. More often than not I find awareness creeping into the scene. Distracted drivers are quickly becoming the most dangerous drivers on the road. It’s not all about alcohol, drugs and talking on cell phones, though those are unquestionably murderous factors. Fatigue, medication, and simple daydreaming also come into play.

When a motorist maintains speed and shaves close to a cyclist or pedestrian, does he or she do so out of meanness or is that motorist just “out to lunch?”

Of course there are deliberate violations: the beverage cans hucked out the window at someone on the side of the road, the dump truck speeding by too close for comfort, the oncoming driver who lays on his horn when a courteous driver moves over a little.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that as a driving community, we are sharing the road more graciously. Perhaps more drivers are cycling, running or walking. Perhaps all that is written, spoken and urged is being heard.

Infrastructure is becoming a lead player in the efforts to make roads and streets safer for everyone. Earlier this year I wrote about the “11’ rule” that is being adopted in some areas. When roads are being built or repaired, the side line is uniformly marked 11’ from the center.

Have you driven on a road with rumble strips? How about the center lines that cause tires to shudder and whine? These get our attention. Is capturing attention what it’s all about?

There are states and countries with a better track record when it comes to road safety. Is it that those cultures include more use by non-motorists? Is it speed limits, shoulders, bike lanes or crosswalks?

REPORT FROM FRANCE

Andrew McCullough from Montpelier is currently living in Brittany, France in his second season racing for a Division 2 National French team. He speaks passionately and from experience about cycling safety, spending between 2 and 7 hours on the road daily. Cycling is his sport, his job, and his life.

What follows are excerpts from an email I received from McCullough earlier this summer following yet another Vermont fatality.

“ It seems like the dialogue that exists in addressing this issue is stuck in a repetitive cycle, and I want to avoid just repeating everything that has already been said.

With that, I do have a few thoughts that directly compare the driver-cyclist relationship in Vermont and Brittany, France. I am fortunate enough to have lived here now for two years, so I think I have a realistic image of what to expect from my interaction with cars.

This is not an exaggeration; in the two seasons I have been here I can count on two hands the number of times that I have had a bad experience with a vehicle. And in most cases this was only an angry honk.

When I hear about an incident back home involving a car and cyclist, it is tragic to say the least. The dialogue that follows though is even more heartbreaking. The dialogue that I hear afterwards adopts a tone, whether directly or indirectly, that suggests cyclists are taking up too much space on the road and are a basic annoyance that doesn’t belong on the road.

One question that I have sticks out to me: Why don’t I have the same problems here in Brittany that we have back home in Vermont?

The riding conditions here are extremely comparable to those in Vermont, even more extreme in some cases.99% of the roads that I ride on every day are no wider than many of the dirt roads in our area. In many cases these roads can become significantly narrower, barely enough for two cars to pass in opposite directions. These roads rarely have sight lines any longer than 200 feet and few shoulders. These roads are trafficked as often as those back home. The posted speed limit for all of these roads past town lines is 90km/hour. This is faster than 50 mph speed zones.

I train primarily by myself, but on team camps we will also be riding 2 abreast, 6 riders deep, and often times have a team car following behind us which takes up even more space in the road. This would be a recipe for disaster back home, but here doesn’t cause a problem.”

McCullough goes on to identify a criticism that our roads are inadequate for both cars and cyclists. The roads he rides in France are certainly not boulevards. “On a daily basis, when I am riding my bike here in France, cars that pass me routinely move completely across to the other lane to safely pass. They do this smoothly and without problems. Why?

First, I am not positive if this is a law here or not, but all cars tend to signal left when passing a cyclist. (Similar to how a car would signal shifting lanes on the interstate)This signals cars behind of an obstacle, and cars ahead to be aware of what’s happening. This could be a simple law to pass that may help.

Second, drivers seem to be more willing to adapt to changing driving conditions. I’ve had many cars pass me in this fashion despite there being an oncoming car. The car passing me gave me more room than with the other car. Similarly, the oncoming driver oftentimes seems to recognize this and also move right to provide additional space for everyone.

And third, if it doesn’t work, a driver waits; and I’ve had times where because of the rolling, winding road or because we had a full team on the road, the driver was stuck behind me for a pretty long time. No hard feelings.

I’ll also offer the converse. There are also times, when a driver has to pass me a bit closer than I would like. Whenever this happens, they do it slowly and in control. It is never malicious, ever.”

paceline

paceline

McCullough concludes that though a driver might anticipate that 100% of the lane is available exclusively for his or her use, it is not always so. Riders may help by forming a single line, but in the case of multiple riders, that line simply becomes a longer line to pass.

That a driver slow down is significant. Though cyclists, runners and other users are taught to ride or run predictably, things happen. A tire might hit a pebble the wrong way, a shoe might catch an edge or a bee sting a horse. I guess we’re back to awareness, aren’t we?

And, having someone step up to take the lead.

STEPPING UP TO TAKE THE LEAD

Vermont’s Lt. Gov. Phil Scott is taking the lead. The Vermont Highway Safety Alliance, AAA, Local Motion, State Police, VTrans and others are taking the lead.

To date this year, thirty-seven lives, have been lost on VT highways. Thirteen of these tragedies involved vulnerable users. It is time.

Vermont Road Users Rally for Safety

Friday, Sept. 25th

5:30pm, State House Lawn, Montpelier

Will you follow the lead? Join your family, friends and neighbors to hear what leaders Lt. Gov. Phil Scott and others have to say and how our community can work together to make our roads safe for everyone.

For more information contact Local Motion (802)861-2700

or go to www.highwaysafety.vermont.gov

Kelly Brush Century Ride

Kelly Brush Davisson has a story to tell and work to do. The Kelly Brush Century Ride, September 12, 2015, will help. It is a ride to savor, remember, and feel good about.  Read below what was featured in the Rutland Herald & Times Argus ACTIVE VERMONT section on 8-23-2015.

Kelly Brush Davisson at the start of the 2014 Kelly Brush Century Ride

Kelly Brush Davisson at the start of the 2014 Kelly Brush Century Ride

Active Vermont: ‘Getting people back to life’

As the story goes, Forest Carey, head alpine ski coach at Middlebury College in 2006, sent his athletes home for the summer with the mandate to each to “Raise $1,000 or don’t come back.”

Though there may not have been teeth in this charge, the 20 or so member team one-upped their coach by raising $60,000 for their injured teammate, Kelly Brush, to purchase adaptive equipment that would allow her to pursue her athletic dreams.

Today, Kelly Brush Davisson is still dipping into those funds.
But there’s far more to this story. Let’s go back to the beginning.

Kelly grew up skiing in Vermont and, after graduating from the Green Mountain Valley School, went on to ski for Middlebury College. Racing in February 2006, she crashed into a lift tower, broke her back, and became yet another in the growing number of spinal cord injuries.

The damage was done at T7 (the seventh disc of the thoracic spine located in the upper back) resulting in permanent and total paralysis from that point downward.

During a long and intensive rehabilitation, Kelly thought of her then-boyfriend, Zeke Davisson, her sister, Lindsay Brush, her parents, and her friends, all of whom were still out there on the slopes skiing and subject to the same risks.

“How could this have possibly happened to me?” she thought. Furthermore, what could she do to help prevent the same thing from happening to others?

At first she wanted to form a foundation to improve ski safety. “I felt like my life as an athlete was over,” she said. “then I learned I could get back.”

Getting back, however, is expensive. “It is so unfair for people who have this injury to be faced with higher life costs and then expensive equipment to help them live a full life.”

The Kelly Brush Foundation was born with a twofold purpose: to assist groups in promoting ski safety and, perhaps more significantly, to help injured individuals to explore and pursue the active lifestyle available to them with appropriate funding for adaptive equipment.

Zeke Davisson illustrates the problem a potential adaptive athlete faces: “If you want to do something active, say walk or run, you can buy yourself a good pair of shoes for less than $100 and head out the door. But if someone like Kelly wants to begin, even entry level costs are prohibitively expensive, starting at a minimum of $2,000 for equipment.”

The first annual Kelly Brush Century Ride. photo supplied

The first annual Kelly Brush Century Ride. photo supplied

Each year since its inception, the foundation has raised funds that are in turn awarded to selected recipients. In 2014, the foundation awarded $240,000 in grants fulfilling only a part of the $525,000 received in grant requests, yet up 62 percent from 2013. “Grants to date are nearly (if not over) $1 million,” Zeke said. The goal is to do more.

Zeke and Kelly, married in 2012, live and work as a team. I met with them at Sea Dog Brewing Company near Brunswick, Maine, where they currently live, though the foundation is located in South Burlington.

Kelly works full time as a pediatric nurse practitioner. Zeke is executive director of the Kelly Brush Foundation. One cannot spend time with this young, athletic, attractive couple without being caught up in their vivacity, enthusiasm and passion for life and their shared goals.

The fact that Kelly is in a wheelchair becomes irrelevant. She is just like everyone else.

This young woman overcame logistics and her own nerves and with the help of a team of friends, skied Tuckerman’s this spring. This same young woman not only skis, but cycles, plays golf and tennis, and drives a car to work where she pursues her chosen profession, suffering the same anxieties and stresses as others.

Kelly’s achievements are impressive. In 2009 she was awarded the NCAA Inspiration Award and followed that by winning the women’s hand cycling division of the Boston Marathon in 2011. In 2012 she was one of 10 chosen “Athletes Who Care” by Sports Illustrated, possibly topped by snagging viewers’ attention in the Buick Human Highlight Reel broadcast during the Final Four Men’s Basketball Tournament of 2013.

This year Kelly is the featured subject of a spotlight on athletes who have overcome adversity and turned that adversity into advocacy at the A2A Alliance. Anther milestone in 2015 is the 10th anniversary of the Kelly Brush Century Ride, which this year will be held on Saturday, Sept. 12.

Kelly Bush Century Ride

The sixth annual Kelly Brush Century Ride in Middlebury on Saturday drew 721 riders including 24 adaptive athletes using handcycles.The event supports the Kelly Brush Foundation raising money for spinal cord injury prevention and adaptive sports equipment grants and is one of the best attended events in the Northeast for adaptive athletes using handcycles.

Riders along the scenic route.

At a time when fundraising events proliferate, many “whose time has come” fall by the wayside from dwindling participation, the Kelly Brush Century thrives. Each year there are more cyclists, more funds raised for the foundation, and more fun had by the growing community that embraces riders new and seasoned.

Why a century ride? The Davissons are often asked that question since skiing is Kelly’s primary sport. “It just happened,” Kelly said. That first ride just took off and has mushroomed since.

Part of the attraction is the scenic and forgiving course, some of which is often described as rolling hills. The country roads meander through a piece of Vermont’s most beautiful landscape and along Lake Champlain. With the start/finish at Middlebury College, riders choose distances from 25 to 100 miles with optional turn-backs along the way. Furthermore, the event is well organized, the course well marked and the support excellent and plentiful.

Originally twice around a 50-mile loop, the full ride now continues up to Shelburne, and back, partly along the Lake. It is truly a ride designed for each participant and can be adapted according to each one’s needs for the day.

The Kelly Brush Century Ride Powered by VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations. Saturday, September 7, 2013. Photographs © 2013 Rajan Chawla Photography.

Photographs © 2013 Rajan Chawla Photography.

Sharing the road with hand cyclists reminds all riders why they are here (For more information, to register or to donate, go to http://kellybrushfoundation.org). Kelly, along with most hand cyclists, rides the 25-mile segment. From Jan. 1 to 7 a.m. the day of the ride there are ups and downs of planning and stress.

“It’s a really fun event, “ Kelly said. “A lot of work goes into it to make it enjoyable, a good ride, but there is definitely a stressful component.” The day itself, however, makes it all worth it.

“A month after, giving out the grant money, makes it more than worth it,” Zeke added.

One look at a smiling Kelly on century day proves the point. But right now? “As I get closer I begin to stress about the shape I’m in,” Kelly confessed. Preparation becomes a matter of logistics and conditioning.

An active lifestyle

Kelly maintains her fitness and conditioning, her athletic edge, by training and pursuing recreational and competitive activities along with Zeke, her family and friends. “You should see our garage,” Zeke said. “Kelly’s equipment claims prime real estate.”

A hand cycle is just like a bike but with three wheels. It has arms, the same gears as a regular bike and the same tires on somewhat smaller wheels but equally susceptible to flats.

Hand cycles are built for a broad range of capabilities from recreational to racing. The entry level, recreational variety is more upright and has more padding, starting at around $2,000. Racing hand cycles can range to far higher costs much the same as a two-wheeled bike, depending on materials, components and design.

Kelly added to her stable of hand cycles a mono ski and a tennis chair (similar to an everyday chair but with wheels that have enough camber to allow the chair to spin faster).

“Tennis and skiing are some of the few conventional sports that work well with or without disability,” Zeke said. Kelly also plays golf by means of her golf cart that is a power driven wheel chair designed to enable her to stand up to swing her club and drive the ball.

An investment

The Kelly Brush Century Ride is a win-win, a sure investment despite the condition of the day’s economy. Entry fees and money raised buy more than a great day for the participant, and, might I add, some of the best swag and incentive gifts around.

“All donations go directly to our mission,” Zeke said. And that mission is more expansive every year. “Over the last 2 years we have grown a ton and have become nationally recognized,” Kelly added.

The KBF has made a strategic decision to grow and has restructured accordingly. “The demand is huge and is only getting bigger,” Kelly said.

“We can never do enough,” Zeke added. “There are 12,000 newly diagnosed spinal cord injuries documented each year. An average individual grant is $3,000. We want to allow anybody with a spinal cord injury to lead an active lifestyle.”

There are two types of individuals who submit grant applications. One is clearly the athlete, perhaps injured during his or her athletic pursuit. The other is the individual who may or may not have been previously active but suddenly sees the possibilities of adding something to his or her altered life expectations.

Adaptive sports programs that offer coaching and equipment fill an essential role in developing adaptive athletes and introducing the potential to engage in sports.

“We want to be the next step,” Zeke said. “We want to offer to that individual the ability to take ownership of an active lifestyle, and to be able to join family and friends when and where the opportunity exists.”

To offer opportunity, possibility, a level playing field, this is what drives the KBF. And this is what could drive each of us as we cycle through our ride on September 12 or ask our friends for support.

“I was so active before,” Kelly said, “now this is what I want to do.” Her message? It’s all about “getting people back to life.”

The Kelly Brush Century Ride Powered by VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations. Saturday, September 7, 2013. Photographs © 2013 Rajan Chawla Photography.

Photographs © 2013 Rajan Chawla Photography. Kelly Brush Davisson and Lindsay Brush Getz, front row. Back row, left to right, Tom Getz, Zeke Davisson, and Kelly’s parents, Charlie and Mary Brush.

Training for Endurance Means Fueling Well

Endurance sports appeal to athletes of all levels. Training is, of course, specific and necessary in order to achieve satisfying results. Nutrition, or fueling, is often overlooked as an integral part of training. The following appeared in the Rutland Herald & Times Argus, Sunday, ACTIVE VERMONT 8-2-2015

The tortoise and the hare of training and sports, by Linda Freeman

Endurance. The negative connotation of endurance is of tolerance, resignation, stoicism; certainly long-suffering. On the other hand, endurance is often linked with patience and perseverance that demonstrates moral and physical strength. Endurance of any kind is based on experience, practice and tenacity. Physically, endurance is built on a foundation of consistent, appropriate and adequate training.

Sports often fall quite neatly into one of two categories: aerobic and anaerobic, marathon and sprint, fight or flight, tortoise and hare.

A sprint, for example, requires a sudden, swift burst of energy that pushes to the point of pain or even collapse, the very end of one’s competitive rope. A marathon takes hours to complete. Though runners now race at surprisingly fast paces for such continuous exertion, it is still a slower pace than the 400-meter dash.

Athletes train for their sport with a mixture of base-building, LSD (long slow distance) combined with intervals, high-intensity work with built-in breaks.

Team sports are often more fun to watch than individual endurance events, but even the infielder, goalie or forward who must be ready to move, and move fast, must also have the endurance to play through one game or even an entire tournament.

Consider these: adventure sports, running (half-marathons are increasing in popularity, marathons, and the new darlings of the running world, ultra-distance trail events), triathlons (swim, bike, run), cycling (even casual riders score a century of 100 miles along with mountain bike marathons and grand fondos of “great distance or great endurance”).

Golf (18 to 36 holes), fishing derbies, single- or multi-day hikes and daily or weeklong sports camps are yet more examples of the need for endurance as a significant tool in one’s fitness and performance toolbox.

For the average person, endurance sports are possibly more accessible than speed events. Remove factors of genetic predisposition, skill, and even budget from the equation, activities based on acquiring endurance are, in some form, universally achievable.

Furthermore, endurance sports are often cited as a metaphor for life, a field on which to play out the challenges one faces daily, personally and professionally. Endurance requires practice, discipline, focus and the equanimity to continue through ups and downs. In competition or in real life, the power to finish, especially to finish strong, is evidence of the depth of preparation and training, of mental, physical and emotional endurance.

Other than spending long, carefully planned and executed hours of physical training, fueling well before, during and after an endurance event is as critical as the strength and skills you have worked so hard to acquire. No longer does one stuff a plateful of pasta the night before an event and assume that it will satisfy nutritional needs. Today, the concept is to eat and drink well all the time, not just during taper week or the day before. What, when and how to fuel needs to be as strategically planned and executed as each step or mile along the way.

Nutrition is a complex and often confusing topic. Below, Kimberly Evans, MS, RD, organizes and simplifies strategies for you to sample as you prepare for your next endurance event. If you train well and fuel sufficiently, you will give yourself the opportunity to perform your best and have much more fun as you do so.

GMSR photo by Jeb Wallace Brodeur

GMSR photo by Jeb Wallace Brodeur

Don’t forget the nutritional needs of staying active                           By KIMBERLY EVANS

We are fully into cycling season here in Vermont, and one thing that is on everyone’s mind, as it well should be, is cycling safety. Cyclists are heading out in pairs or groups, wearing brightly colored clothing, securely fastening their helmets and riding far enough to the left to be in the line of vision of motorists, but not so far as to be in the middle of the road.

However, one aspect of cycling safety that might not be high on the minds of riders is nutrition. Many experienced cyclists know that good nutrition is key to race day performance, but outside training and racing many cyclists don’t really consider nutrition as part of their riding experience.

Now you might be asking, what does nutrition have to do with cycling safety? When you are not fueling properly on the bike you are much more likely to be less alert and responsive and, if out on a long ride and not fueling properly, you are vulnerable to making poor decisions. In other words, your head just might not be fully in the game … or in the ride, as the case may be. Poorly fueled riders are more likely to make poor decisions and more likely to be involved in crashes. So here are some key points to consider when heading out for a long ride:

The last supper

Heading out for a long ride tomorrow? Make sure to really fuel up the day before and take special care to focus on a carbohydrate-rich diet. A great pre-ride dinner might be 1 cup of brown rice, a 4-ounce piece of salmon and an oatmeal cookie. High fiber and heavy foods should be avoided the night before a long or hard ride.

Fuel up

A good pre-ride breakfast will also be rich in carbohydrates. Don’t skimp but don’t overeat. A few of my favorites include oatmeal with berries, buckwheat waffles with bananas, or whole grain pancakes with a Greek yogurt. Aim for about 500-700 calories in the 2 hours before your ride.

If you cannot get all of your fuel in with solid food                                                      add a sports drink such as Skratch Labs or                                                                             a homemade electrolyte, anti-oxidant lemonade:

1 large lemon, juiced.
2 tablespoons of honey.
1 pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt.                                                                8-10 ounces of water.                                                                            Raspberries.

Plan ahead

Before every ride consider what you might need to bring to fuel your ride; how many water bottles, how much sports drink and how much solid food.

Some targets are one 16-ounce bottle of water for every hour on the bike, 300 calories of fuel for every hour on the bike, and a source of electrolytes for hot riding days. Think about packaging 300 calorie snack bags for every hour you will be on the bike.

Some of my favorite 300-calorie fuel packs include: a Kind bar plus a half-bottle of Skratch Labs, half of a peanut butter and banana sandwich, a half-cup of trail mix or dried fruit such as dates.

How will you carry all of this fuel? Most cycling shirts have great back pockets that make it easy to store fuel. I have also fallen in love with the biking Bento box. The Bento box is a nylon pouch that sits just behind your stem, making it easy and safe to eat from the saddle.

If you are less inclined to bring fuel with you on the bike, plan ahead to stop along the ride. Where are the gas stations, convenience stores or favorite latte shops along your route?

No matter how you fuel, a nutrition plan is the safest and best way to make sure that you not only don’t bonk on your ride, but also really maximize your performance as an athlete.

If you are really going the distance, and training for a ride of some distance — such as a half-century, a century or a brevet — I would highly recommend consulting with a dietitian with a specialization in sports nutrition for a fueling and hydration plan that considers your daily needs in the months and weeks leading up to the event in addition to your specific needs to fuel your ride.

If you are not hitting the road this summer on your bike, these smart fueling practices likely still apply to you. From team sports to endurance athletes of all ages and competitive abilities, proper nutrition enhances performance and athletic enjoyment.

Kimberly Evans co-owns Peak Physical Therapy Sports and Performance Center and Whole Health Nutrition in Williston. Contact RD@wholehealthnutritionvt.com or 999-9207. 

 

CYCLING SAFETY

Just today, June 18, 2015, we learn that yet another cyclist has been killed while riding a popular cycling route in Ferrisburgh, Vermont. Once again the fatality was caused by a drunk driver. This is the third time in recent weeks the small state of Vermont has suffered loss of human life and a blow to what should be a safe, enjoyable and healthy outdoor activity. Ironically what follows was printed in the Rutland Herald & Times Argus recently.

ROAD NOTES

On two feet or skinny tires, behind the wheel or astride a horse, driving a tractor or pushing a stroller, here are some road notes of interest.

Submitted by Linda Freeman for 6-7-2015

Active Vermont

Though unlikely, streets and roads are the new sexy, a hot topic being discussed, written about, argued over and complained nationwide and throughout Vermont where individual voices are heard. Traffic fatalities, whether motorist, cyclist or pedestrian, are a slap-in-the-face wake-up call to action.

An article in the July issue of Bicycling Magazine, “The Secret to Safer Cities,” suggests that designated and protected bike (and pedestrian) lanes are the answer to the growing number of cycling and pedestrian accidents. Could this concept be relevant for a small state like Vermont?

From 2009 to 2014 Rutland pedestrians suffered 4 fatalities and 73 injuries in traffic related incidents. This spring, through a US Department of Transportation grant for a pedestrian audit, VTrans selected Rutland as the site to be studied.  Jon Kaplan, Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager of the Vermont Agency of Transportation, said the audit provides ways in which to “move forward – has recommendations for both things to address behavior and infrastructure changes.  It also outlines the process to be used for similar assessments in other communities.” (Go to www.vtrans.vermont.gov.  Check out the 2015 Bicycle and Pedestrian Program.)

Susan Schreibman, Assistant Director of the Rutland Regional Planning Commission, an active participant in the audit, speaks to moving forward. “Save the date-April 1, 2016,” she said, “for the bi-annual Walk Bike Summit in downtown Rutland.  Different tracts will focus on the economic impact of a walkable and bikeable community, engineering and Complete Streets and education. Mobile workshops will follow on 4/2.”

From class 4 roads to I89, from traffic laws designed to accommodate farmers to discussions of safety for commute, recreation or competition, streets and roads are the star players. Perhaps, however, what should be said is that the people who use streets and roads assume leading roles.

When it comes to safety, it is about behaviors, attitudes and infrastructure.

Local Motion, newly merged with Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition, began as an organization in the Burlington area but has grown to function statewide. “Your Voice for Active Transportation and Recreation, Local Motion … [promotes] people-powered transportation and recreation for healthy and sustainable Vermont communities.” (www.localmotion.org)

Recently I met with Emily Boedecker, Executive Director of Local Motion. “We’re talking about people who bike, people who walk, people who drive. We must keep the focus on the human being and not the vehicle,” she said. “I don’t care if you’re wearing lycra, there’s an underlying element – the system that we move on, the roads, how they’re designed, built and maintained. It is also the other users of that system. Our actions make our roads dangerous.”

Boedecker believes that behaviors and attitudes can change. Compare accepting shared use of streets and roadways with previous cultural adaptations with respect to smoking, drunk driving and littering. Does any of this still occur? Yes, but public awareness and, to a large extent, practice has changed over the years.

“The bottom line,” Boedecker said, “is that everyone can individually choose to make our roads safer in the same place and the same infrastructure.”

While some routes are designated for use by motor vehicles only, others such as recreational paths prohibit motorized travel. As for the remainder, it is no longer an issue of who should or shouldn’t be on the road. “It is what it is” and sharing the road is here to stay.

Boedecker speaks of the invitation that certain conditions offer to users: a paved road, scenic path, friends and bike racks encourage walking, running and riding. To those who already do so, this is preaching to the choir, but there are resources available that prove useful.

Local Motion is one that provides advocacy to efforts across the state. “VTrans is trying to be open and accessible,” Boedecker said “and demonstrates seriousness to accommodate all kinds of road users.” For example, when a recent VTrans project asked the public to comment on where they would like to see bike lanes, there were over 2,100 responses.

Vtrans also offers two websites to help plan summer outings and routes for motorists and cyclists with up to the minute data on construction and conditions in progress as well as planned.  http://vtransparency.vermont.gov/ and http://vtransmaps.vermont.gov/vtrans511listing.asp, Vermont 511 Online Map.

Have you heard of the 11’ line? With the different widths of Vermont roads, one solution might be to measure 11’ out from the center line, paint a stripe, and end up with what width is available for a shoulder. “With a broader coalition, we want to be able to celebrate when a local town crew restripes at 11’,” Boedecker said. “Local advocates can have this conversation.”

Information and education may be the key to today’s challenges and future usage.

“Everyday Bicycling” is not about riding your bike every day, but rather is a project offered, free of charge, to organizations and businesses that want to promote biking as transportation and healthy exercise to their constituents and employees. Local Motion has “gone out around the state for partners for hosting classes and bringing people in,” Boedecker said. “There are 12 contracted trainers throughout Vermont.” Adult skills workshops and coaching sessions have been presented most recently in Northfield, Rutland and Brattleboro. (To inquire about a workshop in your area, contact Mary Catherine Graziano at marycatherine@localmotion.org or 802-861-2700 x106.)

Young students in Driver’s Education courses learn the rules of the road, and the Vulnerable User laws. Young cyclists learn their part in riding safely in the Kohl’s for Kids, Bike Smart Program, a game-based bike skills curriculum that has been presented in eight counties to 5,096 kids, 40% of whom were low income. “The goal,” Boedecker said, “is to reach 7,000.” Local Motion provides a trailer (now there are two), loaded with bikes and helmets, training for teachers on how to deliver the bike curriculum, and lots of fun mixed in with the learning.

In addition to road skills rides, this program gets kids outside, gives them an option to get to school, an opportunity for fun, addresses health (and the obesity rate), teaches respect for rules and law enforcement officers and encourages each child to act as a productive member of a community, helping each other along the way.

Local Motion is not the only bicycle and pedestrian advocacy in the state, but it is one with experience and exists as a connector for individuals, communities and diverse issues.

“We can all say yes to walking and biking in whatever shape or form works for us,” Boedecker said. Having migrated to Montpelier a decade ago, Boedecker brings the best of her childhood with her. She grew up in a mining and farming village in England and spent her first 20 years outside on bikes and walking. “My bike was my pony,” she said. “I enjoyed the luxury of being independent and mobile.”

Since then she has mountain biked in California, hiked and skied in France. Today she bikes, hikes, walks, paddles and digs her fingers in the dirt. “I don’t consider myself an expert,” she said. “I am a person who does activities. There is a way for each to get outside and move.”

There is much to be said and Boedecker wants to know. “I want to hear from as many people as possible. I want to hear what needs there are. There’s a tipping point for safety that is incredibly low.” Once that point is reached, “safety improves for everybody.”

Contact Emily Boedecker at Emily@localmotion.org or (802)861-2700 ext 105.

SAFETY ON THE ROAD for the VULNERABLE USER

Article published May 17, 2015, Rutland Herald & Times Argus, ‘ACTIVE VERMONT’

AN URGENT NEED FOR COURTESY

With death resulting. It’s an unimaginable way to end a sentence, an outing and a life. Every time a runner laces up his running shoes, a cyclist clicks into her pedals or a driver fastens his seatbelt, he or she ventures onto a road that may lead nowhere.

Vermont attracts people who choose the outdoors, who choose to walk, run and ride. The reasons for doing so vary from an economic or environmental incentive to leave the car home, to recreation, health and fitness or training for pleasure or competition. That people who make this choice risk injury and death is an unnecessary and sad reality.

Sometimes the line between safety and fatality is as fine as simple courtesy. Vermont law dictates the rights and responsibilities of all concerned in what is known as the Vulnerable User law in which motorists, cyclists and pedestrians are mandated to share the road and to do so abiding by laws designed to protect, not to punish.

Transcending the clearly defined rules of the road are actions that bond a community and build a state in which quality of life is imperative: respect, tolerance, patience; a pause, a smile, a thank you.

Already this year the news has been sobering. On April 14, Kelly Boe of Middlebury was struck and killed by a motorist while riding his bike in Weybridge. On April 26, Richard Tom of Hinesburg was killed by a motorist while riding 1⁄2 mile from his home, an incident in which the young driver lost his life as well.

Yes, in Vermont communities, such sorrows serve to bring out the best in neighbors and friends. On May 4, 400 rode in memory of both Richard Tom and Joseph Marshall; and on May 5, a ride was held in Middlebury to honor Kelly Boe.

The Green Mountain Bicycle Club established The Richard Tom Foundation to honor the cyclist’s memory and to promote bicycling and bicycle safety. The Kelly Boe Memorial Scholarship Fund, dedicated in his memory, is to encourage Middlebury Union High School students and continue Boe’s commitment to their success.

Jason Van Driesche is Director of Advocacy and Education for Local Motion, an organization designed to promote opportunity and safety for pedestrians and cyclists. This spring’s fatalities have spurred the organization to take stronger and broader steps to reach goals and function effectively.

“Local Motion is officially statewide,” Van Driesche said. “Now we have to make good on that promise. We must engage in communities all over the state.” What works in one community might not work in another, he said. “We must explore their needs and wants.” (www.localmotion.org).

Van Driesche and his wife moved from Western Massachusetts to Vermont after a Christmas visit with family in Middlebury and then welcoming the New Year in Burlington. They loved what they observed and experienced.“We saw some of the best qualities of where we grew up,” Van Driesche said. Shortly after their relocation to Vermont, each embarked on a new job. Van Driesche has been with Local Motion for six years and embraces the mission “to help communities become great places to walk and bike,” he said.

With advanced degrees in urban planning and conservation management, Van Driesche said: “What I’m interested in is connection between people and places. We need to relocalize Vermont’s transportation system. We need to make it safe and comfortable to travel around your own community, to give people choices.” Van Driesche doesn’t live far from his work, but a sharply uphill morning ride begins his day. As a commuter, he recognizes the difference between biking as a means of transportation or recreation and that of training for cycling performance. “We try to talk about activities and choices,” he said. “The focus on what we do is on the middle drive-walk-bike. Some people would do more if they actually felt safe.”

Most people who walk or ride a bike, also drive a car. The reverse is not always the case. Perhaps there would be more understanding if it were so. Van Driesche believes it is divisive to consider bicyclists and pedestrians separately as both need consideration, and, in fact, many more walk than ride.

Local Motion identifies street and road design as particularly significant for pedestrian safety. Noting individual action and personal responsibility, Van Driesche said: “There’s a much larger piece, bigger than any individual. The best way is to design an environment for safety.”

Working closely with VTrans, Local Motion finds partnership in revisiting state road standards, plans, construction and maintenance, attempting to look forward in so doing.

Local Motion offers the program, “Everyday Bicycling Project” to give people practical skills to use a bike as transportation. These free workshops are available around the state. (Contact Mary Catherine Graziano, marycatherine@localmotion.org.)

“The Vulnerable User law,” Van Driesche said, “has given people a vocabulary for talking about how our streets and roads can work. Having discussion helps to shift conversation from ‘what are the cyclists doing on the road?’ to ‘how can we play safe together?’”

Recently Van Driesche addressed the role of law enforcement at the Vermont Police Academy in Pittsfield. He told a class of new candidates, “Vermont is the third highest state in the nation of people who walk or ride to work.” He pursued the effective use of enforcement as a tool for improving safety. The law is spelled out and enforceable.

The vulnerable user, one with no built-in protection, also travels roads that were, for the most part, not originally designed with their safety in mind.

Though the specifics are clear with respect to rights and responsibilities of all users, there are gray areas that are often a matter of judgment. For example, a cyclist may attempt to ride predictably and toward the side of a road, but to do so insofar as it is practical. When a motorist approaches a cyclist, the motorist might not understand that there is a pothole or debris on the shoulder that the cyclist needs to avoid. Awareness is a significant concept. Simply taking a foot off the accelerator could prevent an accident.

“Consider this,” Van Driesche said. “If a car travels at 40 mph in a 25 mph zone and hits a walker or cyclist, there is an 85 percent chance of death. In a 55 mph zone, though, it doesn’t matter if a car is going 55 or 70 – you’re dead either way.” If, however, a car has slowed to 25 mph with 45 feet in which to stop, there is a 95 percent chance of survival for the pedestrian or cyclist. If a motorist is in a hurry, perhaps a good habit would be to leave a few minutes earlier.

There is much to discuss and, in light of recent events, discussions are more meaningful. Information needs to be disseminated to participants, law enforcement, driver’s education instructors and students, and the public in general.

Ride of Silence, photo by Jeb Wallace Brodeur Each year the National Ride of Silence is held on the 3rd Wednesday in May to honor victims of bicycle and automobile collisions. (Photo by Jeb Wallace Brodeur.  Vermont Lt. Gov. Phil Scott leading the 2014 Ride of Silence in Montpelier.) This year rides are planned for Northfield and Middlebury. Not everyone participates as each has his or her own way of promoting safety and honoring victims. “My preference is to focus on positive solutions,” Van Driesche said.

There is a clear correlation between increasing numbers of walkers, runners and cyclists on the road and the potential for accidents. Interestingly, in practice, roads that are highly utilized by vulnerable users are often safer; perhaps because motorists anticipate sharing the road.

While there is a pressing need to address safety here in Vermont, there is also a need to preserve the joy of walking, running and riding. This is not a case of us versus them, motorists versus athletes and active others. This is a case of communities coming together, of a state that supports, encourages and attracts active participants, a case of sharing the road and infrastructure on which to do so. Courtesy — motorist to vulnerable user and pedestrian, runner and cyclist to motorist — is a big part of the answer.

 

May 26th, 2015 – First Group Ride

 

courtesy of a friend

courtesy of a friend

Be sure to sign up in advance at ORS on Langdon Street.  All riders must sign a waiver before riding. Club membership at $15 is a great way to become part of a community and enjoy additional benefits such as 10% discount on cycling accessories and notices of random discounts offered by ORS only for RS members. 

Represent our club in the Onion River Century  – this year offering a full century(+), a metric(+) and a 40 mile out and back on Route 12 from the pool to the food stop at Lake Elmore – an achievable goal for all riders! Participate in the annual Harpoon Point to Point training ride on Tuesday, July 14 and wear your ORCentury jersey (purchase for the event) that this year will sport the new RS logo.

 Finally – ask if you have any questions. For each ride, ORS will provide a support rider who will sweep and be sure to be there for anyone who needs mechanical help. All riders are, of course, asked to arrive with their bikes in good working order, and clean. But accidents do happen, flats occur and potholes take their toll.  Your ORS rider will be there to help.  
 
Your ride leaders this year are:  Tom Descoteaux, Kate Harbaugh, Scott Hess, Frank Partsch and Ann Ripley. They will be wearing ORS jerseys and available to any and all for questions or suggestions.
 
Arrive early. Be ready. And here we go ….:)  linda

RoadSpokes First Spring Ride 2015

Meet at Montpellier High School parking lot at 5:15pm.

Ride begins promptly at 5:30pm.

ROAD SPOKES 2015

RoadSpokes, a cycling club organized and led by Linda Freeman in conjunction with Onion River Sports in Montpelier, Vermont, meets Tuesday, May 26th, 5:15 p.m. to dark, to and including the Onion River Century ride, July 25, 2015.

MEMBERSHIP -Though guests are always welcome; RoadSpokes Club members receive discounts and incentives in addition to establishing themselves as part of Central Vermont’s cycling community, team players in a supportive and friendly group of riders. Register at Onion River Sports on Langdon Street in Montpelier prior to your first ride.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION – Unless otherwise specified, group convenes at Montpelier High School parking lot beginning at 5 p.m., suggested training notes at 5:15 and ride-out promptly at 5:30.  (If you must arrive late, join us as you are able.)

3 GROUP LEVELS – Group self-identifies as Advanced – fast, often pace line, more aggressive; Intermediate – moderate pace but purposeful; and Relaxed – appropriate for newcomers to the road as well as any rider who needs a more relaxed ride that day.  (Note:  new riders should be able to maintain a pace of about 12 mph and to ride 10-12 miles minimum. Newbies should practice with their bikes prior to first session, utilize bike paths and quiet roads to gain experience and then join us to move to the next level with confidence.)

Riders should ARRIVE with bikes in good condition (tires inflated before each ride), know how to change a tire, wear appropriate and highly visible clothing, wear identification and emergency contact/medical information, and be prepared with the usual current and fitted mandatory helmet, bike light(s), water and fuel.

Onion River Sports will provide a support rider/mechanic for every ride. Each of the groups listed above will have a leader and/or support rider with them. There is a designated sweep for each evening. We offer a NO-DROP ride.

RAIN POLICY – if raining, organized rides are cancelled, but individuals may choose to ride independently.

WAIVERS – Non-members are welcomed but must stop by ORS to sign a waiver prior to their ride; members sign at joining.

CYCLING AT OTHER TIMES:  Perhaps the biggest benefit is that this is a group of riders meeting riders and becoming friends. RoadSpokes provides the opportunity to connect, to arrange for other rides at other times, to share information, and to enhance their cycling experience individually and collectively.

Questions? Contact Linda, linda@lindafreemanfitness.com or ORS, at 229-9409.

Pro Cyclists Train in Vermont Winter

As I write this it’s -12 degrees and the State of Vermont is blanketed in snow. How cold is it? It’s so cold that on Saturday an avid fatbike enthusiast came to Spinning® class instead of riding outdoors. It’s so cold that my dogs had to break the ice on their water in the heated garage. It’s so cold that many of us have finally given up and are out there bundled up to within an inch of our lives just because we can’t bear to miss another day of some sort of outdoor adventure.  Rocking Chair measures snowfall

But to think of training in this stuff, bicycle training, is a reach. Skiing? Of course, but cycling? So, to learn more, I turned to a talented you rider in Central Vermont. Keep reading.  First you will learn about Elisa Otter. What you learn may surprise you. Then you will read what she has to say about all this. Enjoy and do read on.

MEET THE ATHLETE: ELISA OTTER, by Linda Freeman, “ACTIVE VERMONT”

Elisa Otter

Elisa Otter, Montpelier native, has only begun to show what she can do and already that’s a lot. At 28, Otter has demonstrated exciting cycling potential and, as a reliable source tells me, “This gal ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

Elisa Otter

From Evergreen State College in Washington state, Otter landed at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C., where she raced on the varsity mountain bike team. For a small liberal arts college “of under 1,000,” Otter says, “15 were from central Vermont.” There Otter received coaching and racing experience that catapulted her to an amazing journey.

After Wilson, Otter was recruited to coach and race as a graduate student at Union College in Southeast Kentucky.    “I was racing full-time with a sponsorship out of Kentucky,” Otter says, and then came a move to Colorado.

The name Leadville strikes fear in the hearts of runners and cyclists who know the challenges of racing there. If not fear, then respect. Otter won the National Championship for Category 1 Women (that’s overall) and then burned out. Fifty races in one summer, doing it all on one’s own, will do that to an athlete.

“I was pretty much forced to come back here,” Otter says. “I needed to ground myself.” It had been an astonishing summer, but Otter was depleted. “It was a gift,” she says. “I was able to see the window of where I want to go, but I wasn’t ready for it yet.”

After some time off and a soft re-entry, Otter got on a bike, renewed her pro license and returned to the National Championships in Pennsylvania where she finished in last place. But last place was a victory. “I did it,” Otter says. “I was scared. I had no idea you could overdo it.”

Living in Middlesex, Otter has gravitated to Northfield where she runs the after-school program at the local elementary school and is an enthusiastic member of Team Bicycle Express, a professional cycling team out of Bicycle Express bike shop on the square in Northfield.

Since 2008, under the leadership of Noah and Ezra Tautfest, TBE has worked to provide a community-based cycling experience for multiple levels of riders through professional, development and club teams who ride, train and compete in MTB, road and cyclo-cross races and events (for more information go to www.bikeexpressvt.com). Riding with TBE, “I was training for fun,” Otter says. “It was great. I took pressure off myself. I had team support, loved the camaraderie and had a blast.”

July 2014, Otter was back, finishing 13th overall in the pro field of the National Championships in a four-day comprehensive event of cross country, short track, super D (as in the enduro stage, pedaling downhill as fast as possible combining endurance and gravity skills), that tests all elements.

Post race, Otter was better able to define her goals and was “really inspired.” Next came the World Cup in Quebec and qualifying for the U.S. Team in August. “It was awesome,” Otter says. “I lined up with 60 of the best women in the world.”

Today Otter continues to find fun in her cycling experience, even as she trains for bigger and better performance challenges. She values her home, family and community in Vermont and is testing her belief that a pro cyclist can indeed live and train here yet be a national and international presence. “I’m pretty focused,” Otter says. “My teammates are going to California mid-March for national races. I’m trying to do what I can within my own budget. I hope to bike full time on sponsorship on the World Cup Circuit eventually.”

What does winter training look like for Otter? On top of her 30-hour work week, she trains six days. She has a gym membership at First in Fitness in Montpelier where she works on strength and core twice a week and then spends another 10-15 hours a week on cardiovascular, aerobic exercise either outdoors on a bike or skiing, or indoors Spinning on a trainer with her team.

Tomorrow is another matter. Speaking of TBE she says: “We definitely want to put ourselves out there as the Vermont based MTB team. Our mission is to promote a healthy lifestyle and spread the Vermont brand.” They are, after all, racing on an international level from small town Vermont.

Otter’s story tells its own message, but does she have another for you? “Keep moving,” Otter says. “We’re born to move and it’s become so easy not to. Moving stimulates happiness.” She adds, “When you start, it’s so hard it hurts. If you stick with it though, it’s euphoric.”

Article published Feb 15, 2015, “ACTIVE VERMONT”, by Elisa Otter for the Rutland Herald & Times Argus Sunday Magazine Section

Vermont: Training ground for Elite-class cyclists?

The first question asked when I say I race mountain bikes on a national level is, “Can you do that in Vermont?” It’s true. The winters are long, cold and snowy, making year-round bike riding difficult, if not impossible. It may be precisely these harsh conditions that provide the mental demand it takes to push oneself through the intensity of an endurance competition.

At least that’s what Elite-class racer Noah Tautfest of Vermont likes to think. He rides for the Bicycle Express Race Team based out of his shop in Northfield and is gearing up for highly competitive cross-country mountain bike season this year.

“It’s a mental sport when you get down to it,” Tautfest says. “Here, you have to fight the mental struggle of the harsh weather. It’s easy to do a six-hour training ride at 70 degrees in Arizona. But moving through the wind and cold, and people thinking you are crazy, that’s getting mentally prepared for the pain of a race.”

He should know. Tautfest has been spotted, bundled up and biking on a two-hour commute home in below-zero temperatures and on stormy nights. That is mental strength. Luckily for Vermonters, and according to Tautfest and top riders around the globe, cycling training does not need to be solely on a bike. In fact, mixing up training methods may be another positive aspect to training that is essentially forced in Vermont.

Montpelier native Andrew McCullough is another Vermont-based cyclist. His dedication and hard training landed him a spot on the professional road team, VCP Loudeac, based in Brittany, France.

“Being outside and moving in any capacity provides a mental freshness and inspiration to keep training,” McCullough says.

Before leaving for France, he spent a large amount of time cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking the trails of Vermont. Like Tautfest, McCullough recognizes the importance of the mental aspects of training.

Cycling, or any sport done year-round and at the volume necessary for Elite competition, can push athletes to “burnout,” a condition that can lead to severe depression. “Burnout creates gaps in training. You have to change it up, keep it interesting” McCullough says.

McCullough and Tautfest use indoor training bikes as a tool to keep legs accustomed to the motion of cycling, providing specific training for bike racing. But this method is used in conjunction with other cross-training methods and does not, and arguably should not, be the only method. The growing popularity of fat biking could change the perception of climates and conditions ideal for competitive bike training. Oversized tires (up to 5 inches wide) allow for low tire pressure and good traction on snow and ice. Centers around the country are building designated trail systems where sustained winter training on fat bikes could become a reality. Here in Vermont, Kingdom Trails in East Burke, the Catamount Family Outdoor Center in Williston and Fat Bike Vermont at Killington are already providing this service.

Endurance cycling requires pushing the body and mind to ruthless extremes. Without a solid network and the support of family, friends, teammates and coaches, an athlete will break. The small state of Vermont provides a strong sense of community out of which has come an astounding number of world-class athletes.

“I do some of my best training in Vermont,” McCullough says. “The community, camaraderie and active lifestyle are conducive to effective training. There’s so much support here and you can always find people to ride with.”

I, myself, am gearing up and training early for a competitive cross-country mountain bike season ahead. I have been racing for five years. Most of this time was spent down south where I was going to school. The last two seasons I have qualified within the Elite field and have raced with the fastest women in the country. But I have never trained through a winter in Vermont. I am curious to see if training in the cold, harsh conditions will deepen my mental capacity to overcome discomforts experienced in competition.

Will the cross-country, backcountry and Alpine skiing help me to come into the season mentally fresh and excited to ride my bike? Will living in my home state, close to the support of my family and the active community I grew up in provide a stronger a sense of self? Will Vermont prove to be a training ground for Elite cycling? We shall see.

Elisa Otter, photo by Jeb Wallace-BrodeurPhoto of Elisa Otter by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.