I just want to fit in!

Barriers…I want to cycle BUT!

Every cyclists has fears starting out….they are not unique to men or women. And I think that the fears for the most part are the same for everyone. That said, I have been specifically asked what the barriers are that prevent women from Mountain Biking and Riding Gravel.

Four years ago I walked in a bike shop in New York. My husband was buying a bike and I wanted to “ride” with him. I had no idea what that meant or how to answer the simplest question. At the end of the day I was overwhelmed but we had a bike for me. The questions were simple enough, I just had no idea how to answer them….”Where do you want to ride, what kind of surface will you be riding on, do you know your size, do you have a preference about style of bike, how long do you think you will be riding?” I JUST WANT TO RIDE A BIKE was all I could think in my head!

Our very first ride together….we had no idea where that journey would take us!

We took my new bike out and tried riding….it was great on pavement BUT quickly I learned that was not my style. I grew up trail riding horses through the mountains and I love trails. When I tried my new bike on a trail, and let’s be honest that’s not where my bike liked to be, I was scared to death of crashing and even more frightened of hills on it. SOOOO we saw a fat tire bike in a shop. “Tell me about that fat tire bike” were the most expensive words ever spoke in our family. My new Salsa Mukluk took me places that I didn’t dream I could go on two wheels. We rode through roots, rocks and water. I took it everywhere!

My barriers didn’t prevent me from riding but they did prevent me from wanting to ride with people I didn’t know. I am frequently asked about the barriers I see and they are as follows:
1) I know I’m going to be slower than the rest. On group rides I would joke that the posse was waiting for me at the top of each hill. Every hill, every time BUT they encouraged me and I got some quicker.

2) I don’t know where we are going or what the terrain will be like…..can I keep up with you or will I slow everyone down? If I have learned nothing else, it is that when a cyclists (regardless of skill level), says they want to ride with you….they want to ride with you. It’s not about speed that day, it’s about friendship. Go ride…you will improve and it will improve your circle of friends!


3) Do I have to wear cycling clothes? Almost every woman is self anxious about her body….Lycra doesn’t look good on everyone and we know that. I also knew that I was not a size five and that finding lycra that fit at 200 plus pounds was not easy. I wanted the quality required for long rides and that was not an easy combination to find. I was very keenly aware when I began cycling that I was a plus sized lady….add that to cycling clothing sizes and the intimidation factor was high!

Hayward 2015

4) Time away from my family….I, as a mom, had a hard time understanding that time for me was important. It was hard to say, I am going out to ride my bike for six hours today while my kids and husband were excluded. BUT for me, the secret to being a happy mom and wife was finding that time for me. It’s my time…..truly my time. I don’t worry about everything else that is going on in the world during that time. Yes, it took mental training to get to that point and some days is better than others but I know that my focus for that block of time is on me and my bike. Once I learned to embrace our time as a family together at events and also embrace my time alone training we had a routine that worked for all of us!

Dirty Kanza 2019…all four of us rode the DK100

5) Money…..as much as I want to say cycling is cheap, it is not. As a wife and mother I know that cycling takes money. We have four of us in the family who all participate in ultra events. It’s not a cheap hobby and it’s not easy to budget for sometimes. If I did this, and I was the only one in my family doing so, it would be even harder I think. I applaud those ladies who come to events alone and are that strong. I also applaud those who come as a family and have found ways to make that work.

6)Physical Risk…..I didn’t want to become injured and not be able to work or take care of my family. Yes, I know that my husband would gladly pick up the slack if I was hurt. That said, I was afraid of injury and that prevented me from trying things. As I gained skills and friends this has gone away. There are still times flying down a hill I think to myself “If I wreck this is going to hurt for a really long time.” You are going to wreck at some point….it’s going to happen but we fall down learning to walk and we get right back up.

7)Being at home on my bike…..One big barrier for me was learning to be at home on my bike in most respects. This meant being comfortable enough with my mechanical abilities to be self relient and also knowing skills well enough to not feel uncomfortable.

8) Saddle and bike fit….this was not a barrier in the beginning but as I rode more I found out that my saddle caused me discomfort. How do I walk into a shop with men and have a comfortable conversation about soft tissue pain? Who can I talk to about it?

I just don’t want too….I just don’t want to be laughed at!

9) Competitive Cycling….what is fun for the seasoned athletes to compete in might be intimidating for new people. I have photographs of me standing at the start line of my first few races with a scared to death look on my face. I’m pretty sure I was less intimidated looking getting on the school bus for the first time! What had I done?! I quickly learned that cycling is the most inclusive group that I had ever been exposed to. It’s a journey and an adventure with yourself. No one makes fun of you for your time or effort…if you are broke down almost everyone will shout out “do you need anything, can I help you”.

Barry Roubaix 2019

I hope I am always wide eyed at the start of the event, wondering what is next and who will I get to see today…..I also hope that I never lose the love of flying down a hill or discovering a new place on my bike. Watching my kids cross the finish line after 100 grueling miles is a pride that I can’t buy or replace any other way. I also hope I never lose the want to call home to my Mom or my husband and say “I DID IT!”, as that is pride in myself!

Breaking down the barriers one by one has allowed me to be the cyclist I am today. Is my journey finished….I hope not! But am I to a place where I can say come ride with me and I’ll help you break down your barriers….I truly believe I am.

When Salsa asked me to become a sponsored athlete in 2018 one of my goals was to help other cyclists find themselves. We introduced the Great Gravel Get Togethers. These events are true no drop rides at gravel events. We hosted five and every time I walked away with truly inspiring stories. Each event had a rider who entered scared of gravel and left feeling that they could accomplish the next days ride. THAT’S WHAT IS ALL ABOUT!

I recently attended Dirty Kanza Women’s Camp. I presented on comfort on the bike with Lyn. We learned that every issue we have with bike fit…..yep, everyone else has found it also. We are not as unique as we believe we are. What we also found was that talking about it made it easier to fix problems. Fears that I had about climbing…yep, others had those also. My fears matched other riders of all levels.

The barriers are there, and they are the same for most new riders…..it’s ok to ask questions and find answers on your own. As you talk to other women you will find that the challenges you are having are not unique to just you. But most of all, if you can push those barriers aside and embrace the challenge, you will find a community that is willing to take you places you never dreamed of going!

Dirty Kanza Women’s Camp 2019

“I want to make you see that you are stronger than you think you are!” Linda Guerette

As ladies I think that gravel and the gravel family is so important! I came into camp knowing this BUT I was unprepared for the experiences and friendships that would form.

When I heard the words Linda spoke it made me think about exploring the ways that I would and could improve in my perception of myself this week. What were my weaknesses that were in my head and what were weaknesses on the bike that I could find strength in…….As an artist at heart few things are black and white to me, but as a woman most things are. An odd combination but the same ratio lead to the following findings:

I found strength in others…..Salsa Cycles and Women Ride the World asked me if I would be interested in helping another cyclist break down barriers. HECK YEA!!! I got to meet Michelle at the Women’s Camp. What an experience watching her gain traction in the cycling world. She went from white knuckles going down the hills to no brakes and smiles! Uphill there was no way I was keeping up! I found strength in myself as I smiled watching her progress. It’s scary sometimes entering into a subculture but Michelle grasped the opportunity and showed all of us what strength looked like! Anyone that can clip in for the second time and navigate through town has a win in my book!

I found strength in myself during the FTP test. Our first ride was an FTP test outside. I knew what that meant, kind of anyway. I have taken FTP tests inside and they are not words I really love to see on the Training Peaks app but I do like seeing the improvement. This was 20 minutes of as hard as you can ride, into a head wind….yea into a head wind! As I was pedaling along at my threshold heart rate Nick Legan pedals up behind me, then we see Jim Cummings standing on the side….Nick says “the founder of DK is out here cheering for you, give 2% more….almost every time you can so pedal harder”. Yep, those words will stick with me for a very long time also. I learned that day that I have more to give than I thought I did, that I can dig deeper than I thought possible, and that my heart isn’t coming out of my chest. Truth be known, I think I can always probably give more than I am right now…..That is learning about strength you did not know you had.


I found strength in my own head on the hills. It’s no secret to anyone that knows me that I am NOT a good hill climber. Why is that I asked myself…..Is it my weight, my perceived fitness (or lack thereof) or my brain being my biggest enemy. I decided at gravel camp to embrace positive self thought. I was NOT going to tell myself anything that I would not tell a friend or stranger. There would be no you are going to end up walking or you can’t ride this hill like those ladies for four days! NOT HAPPENING. I curbed those thoughts, attacked the hills saying I can do this, I am stronger than I was yesterday and guess what…..YEP, I made it up every hill! I was stronger than I thought I was!

I found strength in exposing my perceived weaknesses to others. Everyone thinks they are unique in having saddle sores, soft tissue pain, menstrual pains and not wanting to talk about them. I was given the opportunity to help Lynn lead discussions about Chamois Butter and on the bike comfort. I came into the camp with a hot spot and I was not afraid, in the comfort of the mansion, to talk about it. As soon as I did, myself and other ladies, found that we all have had the same issues. The chamois discomfort for one is the chamois discomfort for most. I found comfort in knowing that I am not the only one with numb toes at the end of races and that it is a shoe issue and not my feet! Ladies, talk to other ladies about it. I found that what works for one might just work for you if you are willing to lay it out there and ask. What a revolution and what a relief! I could see it on others faces also….the “I know exactly what you are talking about look!”

I found comfort in knowing that I am not the only person who is not proficient at changing tires and knowing technical terms of bike mechanics. šŸ™‚ I’m a fairly mechanical person under pressure but the lessons we learned from our fellow lady mechanics will stay with me always. Combine that with 20 other ladies asking questions and most topics were covered. I found strength in knowing that others had the same questions I did and ultimately the same fears.

I found comfort and strength in knowing that I could say I need to take time for me. As women our families come first most of the time. It’s hard to say I’m taking time and money to go do something for just myself. That said, it is equally important to do so. The Mom and wife that came home is stronger than the lady who left. I spent four days riding bikes in the Flint Hills being recharged and educated all at the same time.

The best finding for me was comfort in discomfort…..the food was amazing, the camaraderie was beyond measure but the Flint Hills never disappoint in keeping you on your feet. There was discomfort but it was greeted by laughter on Friday in the mud…..tire clinging, mud slinging mud! HAHAHA what memories but we did it. Saturday brought us wind and hills….I found strength in the discomfort of the hills and laughter going down them. We got to watch the rain lift off of the prairie and ride through river crossings! I found that I had strength I did not know about and as always the Flint Hills provides scenery holds a special place in my heart!

When I heard Linda say those words on Thursday evening I had two very seperate thoughts….

  1. As an artist….I get that theory very well. My challenge is always to make others see themselves as the best version they can be BUT it does not always happen and it is not easy to achieve. My thought was “Strength is not easy to show but I can’t wait to see it also”
  2. As a cyclist…..When they said Linda would be photographing the FTP test great images did not pop into my head but as it turns out that image will hang on our wall in front of the trainer. Yes, that day I was stronger than I thought I could be!

This photo is the second image from camp that will hang on the wall in the training room. It is not where I want to be fitness wise but I love it….it’s the first image since I lost weight that when I look at it I see a cyclist. I see someone having fun doing what they love and I don’t see a fat lady on a bike. So Linda, Kristi, Kristen and Amy…..THANK YOU! I found strength in myself that I did not know existed, I found love for my bike that I had not had before and I found all of you!

Thank you to everyone who was there at Women’s Camp on the front lines, in the camp, and most of all behind the scenes….Thank you for giving your own time and lives so that we can be better at what we love. Thank you for helping us come together as a group and finding strength in one another. WOMEN ROCK!!!

I want to lose weight…so easy to so say and so hard to do!

I want to lose weight may be the easiest words to speak BUT one of the hardest commitments to follow through on. In a world full of fast paced gimmicks and over night weight loss schemes it’s hard to find the lifestyle change that will work for you.

I muttered those words off and on over my adult life but in 2018 I knew I was going to have to commit. Here’s why….

In April I signed up for the Dairy Roubaix, a 54 mile bike race in my hometown. By the end of the race all I could do was watch Dan ride off as I laid over the handlebars sucking wind. But I was determined that eating wasn’t the problem and that I just needed more exercise.

The next big event was my A race of the year, Dirty Kanza. I felt like a bundle of nerves but was excited to see what all of the hype was about. Jim gave a rousing speech and we were off….I was grinning ear to ear. My negative thoughts were at bay and as Mike told me prior to the start it was all between my ears! Well what was for the first fifty miles….then negative thoughts started taking over and we turned into the dreaded head wind. I began dry heaving and then this voice said “you ok”? I’ll stay with you until you get help.” As I laid in the ditch my brain started to process what went wrong. I knew I wanted to lose weight. I knew I couldn’t do what I wanted to do cycling at the weight I was at. I also knew for the first time, sitting in a ditch in no where Kansas, that I was determined. Things were going to change. The DNF stunk but it lit a fire in my soul that I had never felt before. There’s nothing like reality hitting you between the eyes to change your perspectives.

That was the birthday of the new me. Losing weight is unique to each individual. But the one thing that is universal is it’s a gigantic task. It’s a task that requires choices every single day. Let me repeat that. It’s not a chore that you do once a month and reap rewards. You are what you eat and you eat multiple times a day. For you to be successful that’s choices you must also make each meal. The rent is due every day.

Do I cheat my diet….you bet. I try to have cheat meals not cheat days. But yes, if I want something I eat it but I know that it means I be aware of it.

To date I’ve lost 78 pounds in the last year. Im stronger, healthier and off all medications. My blood pressure is great and I’m looking forward to what next year holds.

I want to lose weight….if I can do it anyone can. But it’s a decision and lifestyle change that is not as simple as the words. It’s a daily challenge with lifetime rewards. I want to lose weight….come join me in the choices. You won’t be disappointed.

The Crusher!

Sometimes we know we are touching and changing lives and sometimes we just hope we are….but seldom are we told thank you, you changed my life.  Today I’m telling you cycling has that impact


A year ago I went to the Crusher race with the Dan and Brett.  Sooo much has changed during the last year but the thing that remained the same for me was this was my last of two #unfinishedbusiness2018 races.  I’ve had a photo of the boys and Nick with #unfinishedbusiness on my top tube all year. Every time I look down I think about the Dirty Kanza and Hamr (name the Crusher formally was called). It’s been hanging in front of me like a carrot for months now.


That thought process carried me through right up until Nick said he wanted to race the 30 mile with me and the boys could not make it due to schedules.  Oh boy, that means that we are doing things completely differently.  I had been home for five days in June and knew that the meaning of this event had just changed for me. I could no longer go into this thinking solely about finishing what I had started a year ago.


There are occasions when you are married that mean you do things for others.  Take DK for example, that race was about me.  This one was different, it was about watching Nick find new limits and crush them.  I knew going into it that it would not be easy for the following reasons:

1)I mean Todd is in charge, and he’s known for making things challenging no matter what! They can get from point A to point B on a gravel road or through a swamp but wait….yep through the briars and rocks we went! 

2) I knew that wearing the Salsa jersey and being in the “back of the pack” meant that I was going to see my challenge through and help everyone around me finish!

3)There was single track and Nick HATES single track! Turns out that was the easiest part of the whole event. šŸ™‚

Oh and in the UP when they remove a railroad track from use….they leave the spikes and all because if you look at #2 above it fits perfectly in that description!


Saturday was rewarding in ways I can not put into words.  I watched my husband enter his dark place, take a long look around in there (mostly while saying f’you Todd) and come out with the biggest smile ever (and maybe a tear).  I also watched a 13 year old boy go from tired to seeing blood on his leg and knowing he had gained maturity on some level from it. 

We started the experience on social media prior to the event with requests to “help me finish”.  They were all met by me with “ride close enough to our group and we will finish this thing.”  Seven of us were in the “group” and seven of us finished!  YEA!!!!


To those at Salsa, you believed in the brand and myself and for that I am so thankful and grateful.  I heard more than once “You are the Salsa lady, tell me your story because we loved reading about it online!”.  Todd, you helped my retired marine husband find new limits and explore parts of him that he had not explored in a long time. 

 
It is more than a race….you are right.  The cycling culture is just that and I am so proud to be part of it!  Keep doing what you are doing and thank you once again for changing lives!  Your impact is far beyond what you know.


Crush or be crushed……We crushed and came out the other side smiling.  Next year is the 100!


Welcome!

Hi! Welcome to my blog. Four years ago we walked into a bike store. I had NO idea how to answer the questions….”Where will you be riding, what kind of bike do you want or even what size of bike do you ride?” It was overwhelming but we worked our way through it.

My hashtag is #myadventureredefinedme. It is so true! Today I am a sponsored athlete for Salsa Cycles, wife, mother and small business owner. Finding time to balance all of that with a 100 mile race each month and training is difficult. Please join me as the adventure continues to define me and our family!

I want to blog to help others:

  • Find the love of the outdoors that I have reconnected with. I want to inspire people of all ages and athletic abilities.
  • I’ll write about my adventures both on and off the bike.