Wednesday, February 25, 2009

See you next week!

My last day before leaving for NY. Too bad the morning was spent taking care of vehicle issues. 

The rest of today will be spent tweaking my music and profiles and packing. I don't know if I'll have time to check in on the blog to moderate comments until Monday or Tuesday, but please don't hesitate to leave some.

Last night in my evening class I did my Moving Mountains ride to a full class - and even gave up my bike to my husband this time, otherwise he would have had to go home (and I think he needed it more than me - he's a builder and you can imagine stress levels are a bit high in that industry at the moment)!

It went well, except it's very, very hard to squeeze it all into a one hour class. I felt I talked just a little too much. But still, it did me good to practice the verbiage.

I had a visitor in class, Brian from D.C., who I met at WSSC a long time ago who contacted me a few months ago that he and his wife were coming to town to ski. It's always great to be able to have fellow instructors from around the country come take my class - and the invitation is extended to any of you reading this. If you come to Vail, contact me through the blog and I'll let you know where you can join me in class. It helps that I live in a resort destination! I also gave Brian lots of tips on what to do in Vail and where to eat and where to avoid.

This morning in my early class I practiced my Tour de France stage ride called "The Suitcase of Courage". Wow, was that fun! I know for sure you guys will be all over that profile, once I can get it on paper. It was similar to my Tour of California Stage 3 ride I posted last week, but this time I did more than one breakaway group, like you often see in the Tour de France. We had a lead group that attacked early on, chase group 1, chase group 2, and the peleton. Then the peleton stepped on the gas to bear down on the others and engulf them, leading to a sprint finish.

I had the 'suitcase of courage' and the 'pendulum of pain', as well as many other fun metaphors and expressions used by the colorful TDF announcers on Versus TV.

Might be one of the most exciting rides I've done in awhile. Invigorating music makes it even better.

Hope you're salivating now! 

Be sure to check back next week and leave me a comment if you have any suggestions for future posts, what you'd like to learn more about, etc.

Monday, February 23, 2009

ECA New York, here I come!

Only a few days before I leave for New York City! By this time before a conference, I live in a state of constant butterflies. It doesn't seem to get any better even though this is my 10th year of presenting. I guess it's a good thing - keeps me on my toes, and helps push me to stay at the top of my game. I am admittedly Type A (with larger doses of Type B seeping in as I get older) so my perfectionism definitely comes out at conferences. It is usually my goal to make each and every ride I do better than the last time I did them!

BUT, I have to make sure I don't get in the way of my own goal, which can happen when one lets perfectionism rule. This is something I am working on, trusting and letting go.

Goals are good, as I explain in my Moving Mountains ride, but it's not the achievement of them that brings success necessarily, it's the ability to enjoy the process along the way. The Journey is the Best Part! When I let go of the need to be "perfect", when I allow the moment to come over me and rely more on instinct and less on "memorizing" my speech, ah.... that's when a session (or class) truly becomes memorable! In the past if I have been overly critical of myself and a session I've presented, it usually came down to trying to be too much in control.

That usually backfires.

This advice can be extrapolated to any athletic event you want to participate or compete in, to any speaking engagement you might be preparing for, or even just to your regular Spinning classes. 

Set a goal, yes. 
Prepare, yes. 
Practice, of course.
Visualize, yes. 
Believe in yourself, most definitely. 

But when the moment arrives, trust and let go! Your relaxed state will allow you to excel far more than if you were overly concerned with delivering every step (or sentence) perfectly.

There is a quote that says, "Obstacles are what you see if you take your eyes off the goal." This is true, BUT, if you are so fixated on that goal and the end-result and fail to pay attention to the journey, you'll trip over those obstacles and might land on your face. Better to use intuition to get around them smoothly and stay in the moment. So although you do need to stay focused on your goal, you shouldn't do it at the exclusion of the moment-to-moment awareness of what you are doing.

This is cathartic to write this post, because although these words will hopefully help you in whatever endeavor you are preparing yourself for, I'm really giving myself a little pep talk!

Thanks for playing along.

Here is my schedule for ECA this week. If you are not already signed up and live near NYC, then there's still time, and I believe, still some spaces left

Friday 7:30 - 8:30 am
Pedal Stroke Drills
(that's 5:30am my time...)

Friday 1:30 - 3:00 pm
Lactate Threshold Field Test on a Spinner
(I wish this one were first thing in the am - for best results riders should be rested)

Saturday 9:00 - 10:15 am
Triple Threat
(3 types of HIT intervals)

Saturday 3:30 - 5:00 pm
The Tour de France and Alpe d'Huez
(riding the 21 switchbacks of this famous mountain in France during the Tour de France)

Sunday 11:30 - 12:30
The Tour de France and the Suitcase of Courage
(breakaways, attacks, lead-outs and sprints in a stage race)

Sunday 1:00 - 2:30
Moving Mountains

phew, those last two are so close together, barely enough time to change and mentally switch gears! Ouch...

On this page you can scroll down to Spinning and click on the session title for a description of the ride/workshop.

Those are my sessions. Two of my estimable teammates, Iona Passik and Josh Taylor will be there with their own amazing rides and workshops, providing an eclectic, creative and fun mix of Spinning sessions to choose from. I think every instructor should be required to take Josh's Bike Fit, and I am absolutely intrigued by what he's going to do in his Ride of Silence (no music). I'll for sure be there at his Technical Training session. Iona has a session called Result-oriented Visualization which should be awesome as well, and I'm sure I'll get a lot out of her Music Interpretation and Appreciation.

In the brochure, I have circled all of their sessions I want to attend, plus other non-Spinning ones as well (including one called How to Look Good Naked, and Juan Carlos Santana's functional training sessions). But whether I make it to any depends on how prepared I feel for mine, whether I feel I need to practice my powerpoints or listen to my music even more, and whether I need to take a nap and recover! (Presenting is very fatiguing - not just physically, but mentally as well).

I guess that all depends on how much practice and preparation I get done this week. I did ride my Moving Mountains ride last night on my Spinner bike in my basement - talking out loud to no one. My husband came home and came downstairs and giggled at me. (But when I got off the bike he had dinner ready - how great is that?!)

If you are coming to ECA, whether you're taking one of my sessions or not, please come and say hi. For those who are attending, I look forward to seeing you there. It's because of you that I do what I do, and helping you become better instructors brings me great joy.

I am grateful for you!

PS  I know some people are coming down just for Josh's One World Spinning Nation ride on Thursday night - it should be an amazing event - he never fails to deliver. As of now, there are no more bikes left, but if you're coming for that, email me, maybe we can connect. I'll be there after the ride (though I'll need to go to bed at a reasonable time due to my early session on Friday morning).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Anyone near Long Island? Fantastic opportunity to ride at the Planetarium with me!

Next week I'm off to New York for ECANY! I'll tell you more about that in a few days. But I'm very excited to announce that Image Cycling has been able to arrange to get the planetarium in Long Island where they do their very special rides, and have invited me to team teach a class with Maryjo Ruckel!

This is a dream come true for me! Spinning inside a planetarium! I can hardly believe it! The ride is called "Riding the Storm" and we have a special profile awaiting you. There will be amazing visual and sound effects for this ride so expect to be blown away!

(I think I used my month's quota of exclamation points in the last two paragraphs...)

If you live anywhere near Long Island, please come join us next Thursday February 26 at 6 pm. It's for instructors only, and there are only a few bikes left.  It's only $25 and you need to reserve a bike in advance. Email Maryjo at You'll pay at the door, but she asks that you please call if you cannot make it to allow for the waiting list to ride.

Vanderbilt Museum Planetarium, Little Neck Road, Centerpoint, NY.  Go to for directions.

If you're in the area and you're not going to Josh's ride at ECA on Thursday night, please come join us. If you can, please leave a comment here so I know to expect you! Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spinning Profile, Stage 3 of the Tour of California

I have been glued to my computer screen watching Twitter reports and videos of the Amgen Tour of California the past few days. Twitter is amazing because this new technology allows second by second updates, not by the press, but by people who are there experiencing it as it happens! Even some posts by some of the coaches in the team cars. For example, Johan Bruyneal (Astana team manager) was "tweeting" live for a few of the stages - when he wasn't driving the team car, as he did yesterday. Jonathan Vaughters of Team Garmin Chipotle tweets occasionally, as do some riders.

Lance (a Twitter addict) tweets before and after the race from his cell phone - things like, "Hitting the sack early tonight. 2 days in pouring rain has worn my old @$$ out. Good night to you all." and "On the way to the race - still pouring. This sucks" or "I'm getting a massage now, listening to Calexico's Carried to Dusk" (hey, I betcha didn't think you'd ever get song ideas from Lance Armstrong!)

I decided to create a profile of this soggy race in my Spin class and yesterday's stage had it all - climbs, breakaways, pacelines, and a sprint finish! I put the profile and playlist together late last night and submitted my class to the torture this morning at 6 am! A rude-awakening, I must admit. But they really seemed to enjoy it and worked their butts off. Good thing the ATOC didn't happen during my Base Building period - no way you can do a class this hard. 

Oh, I can see it ow - this particular profile will get TONS of downloads because it's 'hard'! The 'easier' aerobic profiles get far fewer downloads...isn't that interesting?! You guys like your hard-core workouts, that's for sure. ;-)

I searched my iTunes for songs about California, and only had a few high-energy ones that would work well in a profile like this - last night late I didn't feel like purchasing any iTunes songs! But in case you want more California song ideas, here's a thread from Pedal-On with suggestions of songs about California.

For the first time ever, I used Bruce Springsteen's Rosalita. I know, it's a favorite IDC song around the world, but I'm a die-hard Boss fan from waaaaay back - I saw him at Meadowlands in 1983 (and 3 other occasions) and even painted a lifesize mural of the Boss and Clarence from the Born to Run album cover (I was an art student at the time) on my Santa Barbara dorm hallway back in the early 80's! - uh oh, dating myself a bit there...

So Bruce has rarely made his way into my Spinning classes - it just didn't fit my Spinning personality (though I did use a newer Bruce song for the election day ride). Until now. Rosalita is good for a paceline flat because the ATOC will be heading south in a few days "down San Diego way."

Anyway, I think you'll enjoy this profile. It's hard, it's fast, it has breakaways, pacelines, leadouts and a sprint finish! Click here to download the pdf

I'm going to ECA NY next week and one of my sessions is called "The Suitcase of Courage" - on breakaways, attacks, leadouts and sprints, so this was a chance to practice on my students. I'll do something similar next Wednesday, with more colorful commentary. Expect a report on that as well!

Let me know what you think...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Road riding in Las Vegas and a reason to celebrate!

My husband Jeff and I spent the weekend in Las Vegas, which is not my preference for a destination for any purpose. My brother-in-law got married at Circus Circus wedding chapel on Valentines Day, believe it or not! We only got word about 2-1/2 weeks prior. I have to admit, it wasn't as cheesy as I expected, the preacher was actually pretty good. But the hotel sucks. I guess I'm spoiled - if I go to LV I want it to be the Bellagio!

Our flight was very delayed, and we landed after 2:30 am in Vegas, by the time we got to bed it was well after 3:30 am! Pure hell. On the return, our flight didn't leave until 8 pm Sunday evening which gave us time to get off the strip and do something active. We rented road bikes and rode up to the Red Rocks National Conservation Area outside of the city, a 36 mile beautiful loop. Oh it was so nice to move and be active and to get away from the misery and noise and craziness of the LV strip!

Next time I go to Las Vegas (seems like something takes me there 1-2X a year) I'm doing this again. It was a fantastic ride and it felt so good to actually pedal on the open road. But I have to admit, it was very cold, at least for me - low 50's.  I had on leg warmers, arm warmers, 3 layers plus windbreaker, and I bought some great long-fingered gloves that had an additional wind-stopper removable cover that turned them into lobster-finger mittens. I have to say those mittens saved me - I might even turn into more of a cold-weather cyclist because it's the freezing cold hands that turn me off. Mine get so cold I can't feel the brakes, while everyone else around me is laughing at how cold I get! A very good purchase indeed.

We didn't check the internet while gone (which was nice), and I came back to see that this blog has exceeded 30,000 visitors! Now that's a reason to celebrate! It only hit 20K around Christmas so I am really excited. This blog has really grown a lot in the past month, and I am so grateful for everyone who visits regularly. Continue spreading the love, sharing this with all the instructors you know. The more instructors I can help, the more inspired I am! ;-)

Please sign up for my mailing list for updates on the blog, news on upcoming ebooks, conference updates, and more. I hate spam as much as you do, so no one will have access to this mailing list besides me!

And if you're on Twitter, follow me @vivavelo.

Ride on!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Keep it Real appears on cycling podcast!

Exciting news! I had a chance to promote Keep it Real on a cycling podcast, The Fredcast! He posted it this morning and I just got done listening to it. Truth be told, it wasn't my best interview...but it served its purpose (see, we all get overly self-critical at times.)  ;-)

Click here to go the The Fredcast website to listen to the podcast. My interview happens at 29 minutes into it.

Remember, this eBook was targeted originally at cyclists, trying to get them back into the indoor cycling studio. My goal is to teach them how to ride indoors it in a way that was more relevant to their outdoor riding than they might have experienced in many indoor cycling classes.

This entire book concept was borne out of discussions with some hard-core cyclists who swore that they would never go back to a "Spinning" class because of several bad experiences they had with out-of-control instructors doing things that should never be done on a bike. I tried to convince them that it didn't have to be that way!

The Fredcast is a podcast that is targeted to cyclists - people passionate about bikes and bicycling. But I wouldn't call the Fredcast market "elite" cyclists, although there are probably some who race bikes. They simply love to ride their bikes, and like to be around, and listen to, others who love to ride. They need to learn that an indoor cycling class can be an effective and fun way to improve their cycling abilities.

My goal is to bring more cyclists into YOUR classes and MY classes with this book! There is no reason our classes shouldn't be full of cyclists who can't bear to ride in the snow and icy cold, or who can't take another day on their trainer at home (boring). Or even those who live in metropolitan areas or even warmer climates whose schedules only allow weekend outdoor rides on their bikes. They should be begging to ride in our indoor cycling classes; the lines should be out the door. 

But they're not.

You can help me change that! I want to bring them to you, the instructor, the club by promoting my ebook to the cycling market. But we, you, the instructors, need to show them that it is possible to truly improve their cycling performance, their endurance, their climbing abilities, their technique in an indoor cycling class.

I need your help. 

Keep it Real contains everything you need to know to keep your classes relevant to cycling, while at the same time improve the performance and fitness of your non-cycling members. I received this comment a few days ago:

Jennifer, this eBook is the bible of cycling in my opinion. I wish everyone at my club would read this book, it would make their classes much more interesting and SAFE. Thank you, thank you! Lots of GREAT info.
Robert from DC
I've posted a sample of the eBook for you to download for free. Download it and read the intro, the extensive table of contents, and the first chapter.

And if that tweaks your interest a little more, 

click here to purchase the book

or go here to find out a little more about it.

Or share this link with other instructors you know who can benefit from this information (all instructors, in my book!) or cyclists you might know who are hesitant to attend indoor classes.

Together we can bring them into our classes in droves!

If you have an idea of how I can reach more of the cycling market, please let me know! Do you have connections with your local paper, a cycling club or outdoor or indoor cycling events?  I have a generous affiliate program if you think you can encourage several instructors or cyclists to purchase the book. It's very simple.  Email me for information:

One last piece of great news - the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will be marketing the ebook to all their riders participating in Team in Training rides, so their commission will go to support that great organization! I'm working on several other large cycling events (so if you have any connections, that would be most excellent). How happy that would make me to be able to contribute part of each sale to organizations such as Livestrong, the MS150, Diabetes, the AIDS ride, and help all these causes.

Isn't it great that cycling makes this possible?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

As base building ends

Friday was the final day of base building at one club where I teach Wednesday and Friday at 6 am. I want to share with you some of my dialogue with my class. I wanted to let them know how much I appreciated their efforts, I wanted to reinforce what we've done, and to give a taste of what's coming next.

Take these words, put your spin on them (pun intended) and tell them to your students!

For those of you who have been sticking to base building and keeping your intensity below your threshold for the most part for the past 7 weeks, even when taking other classes that might have been higher intensity, congratulations. You've taken a big step towards increasing your ability to use fat as a fuel source and sharpening your aerobic metabolism. You should be very proud of yourself for your patience and commitment. It is not an easy thing to do. Believe me, I know - I found myself chomping at the bit a few times! You're going to see some huge improvements as we move into the next phase.

For those of you who who have only done it in my classes, but went harder in the other classes, I suspect you have felt a nice balance in your workouts, some hard, some easy to moderate. Congratulations. This is the way it should be on a regular basis - balance! It is my hope that all of you continue to monitor your workouts on a weekly basis and make sure you have a little of each - some hard, some easy, some moderate.

For those who do not ride with a heart rate monitor, or who didn't care to make an effort to watch your intensity, I want you to know that there's nothing wrong with that. You're still here, you've still been coming to my classes, and I congratulate you on that and want you to know I really appreciate that. It just goes to show you that Spinning is about you and your goals; it's about your own workout, not mine. I can make suggestions, it's up to you to follow them if you want or not. Who am I to force you to do something? It's a beautiful thing, isn't it? My only hope is that I've planted a seed, that I've got you wondering about whether this base building stuff really works or not. And maybe next year, you'll jump on board and take that step to systematize your training and ultimately increase your performance like never before.

Next week I'll start incorporating some threshold intervals, and after a few weeks, even take you higher than that with some 1-2 minute HIT. We'll do another field test in about a month as well. Strength classes will continue on Fridays, with some steeper sections, continuing to build that strength in the legs.  But don't think that I won't throw an endurance or tempo ride below threshold in there. It's not our primary focus as it's been since Christmas, but they should not go away! Remember, that balance is important!

But what you can expect is that you'll burn a few more calories in some of my classes in the months to come. For some of you, it may be a slightly higher percentage of fat calories than it might have been before.

Now that's a beautiful thing!