Friday, March 27, 2009

Colorado blizzard says "Fat Chance" to Jamaica trip! My harrowing drive...

You might have read or seen on the news that Colorado got hit by a blizzard yesterday. Needless to say, it put a HUGE damper in my travel plans. It's Friday morning and I'm sitting back at home catching up on emails when I should be sitting on a beach. Not to worry, I've got a rescheduled flight tomorrow morning, but Holy Sh*$ what a day I had yesterday! I'll never forget it, nor do I ever want to relive it. In retrospect, it's so easy to say I shoulda, woulda, coulda. 

Here's how it played out.

My husband and I drove part way to Denver Wed night. It's 120 miles to the airport, over two mountain passes of about 10,600 feet. He had errands to run in Denver and offered to drive. I am selling my car (Subaru Outback) which had 31,900 miles. I wanted to keep it under 32K to increase sales value - it's a 2005 which is VERY low mileage. (In the meantime I am driving my husband's company car - a Mini Cooper). This little bit of useless information will be relevant later in the story...

We stayed about halfway to Denver so the drive early Thursday morning wouldn't be so far. Wednesday was dumping snow, but not blowing - something we're used to. Weather report called for more snow - I don't remember hearing anything about a  blizzard. Besides, for the past month most of the snow predictions were wrong (admittedly, it's hard to predict accurate weather when there are 14,000 foot mountains in the way to push the jet stream around).

4:00 am Thursday - on the way to the airport, it was a whiteout and driving was scary. It was only starting to snow in Denver, but was very slick. A one-hour drive took 1h45 min. I missed my 6 am flight by minutes, but so did dozens of others. I was put on standby for the next flight, but it was oversold, so they booked me for the 7:30pm flight to Dallas. I'd have to stay overnight in Dallas to fly to Montego Bay the next morning. (If the club could reschedule the orientation on Friday).

The reports were now calling for blizzard conditions, Jeff needed to get back as he couldn't hang out for 10 hours. We agreed the only course was to drive back home (120 miles) and I'd get my car and drive back down. Reluctantly, I agreed it was best to take the Suby which was safer than the Mini. Most of the blizzard was on the front range - it wasn't so bad in the mountains, believe it or not.

Then came the first automated call from American Airlines - my 7:30pm flight was cancelled. On the phone with an agent, they said I could fly out of Colorado Springs at 4:30pm to Dallas. Colo Springs seemed to be south of the major weather system (and she told me there were no cancellations there, even though Denver was totally canceled. Famous last words...) I called Jamaica, and they were able to reschedule the orientation to Monday, and Spin fitness was ok with it, and I decided to go with it.

But then it turned out that Vail Pass had closed for avalanche clearing, so I coudn't go via the main roads. I elected to drive the back way through the mountains to Colo Springs. It was snow-packed but good visibility - I don't mind that. But it turned out to be a dumb decision - so easy to say in retrospect isn't it?! I didn't want to let the students in Jamaica down, I was committed to help out with her Spinathon on Sunday, and I really, really needed a beach (especially at that moment)! If the weather had been bad the first half of the drive, I would have turned around. 

The doppler radar had shown much less impact from the storm south towards Colorado Springs and even in the mountains, and sure enough, it wasn't falling snow that became a problem. It was the wind. It was clear for 80 miles, but then it started blowing hard, and visibility dropped to near zero at times. It was a white knuckled drive on smaller 2-lane roads for hours. At one point I got behind a snowplow, which scraped up even more snow to be blown into my view - and no where to pull over. I was creeping along at 5-10 mph at times, wondering where the side of the road was.

Man, this was dumb. But who knew? If I had turned around it could have been the same on the way back, and by now Colo Springs was closer.

Cell reception was sketchy and my cell battery was very low (because I had taken my car charger and put it in the Mini! Thank God I thought to take my ice scraper)! I minimized my outgoing calls to save juice. 

Then I got the next automated call from American. My flight was canceled, but I was rescheduled for an 8am flight the next morning. I'd just spend the night in Colo Springs. Oh well...

Literally 20-minutes later, I got my third automated call from American. My 8am flight was canceled as well. OK, by this time I was laughing (sort of). 

I pulled over at one of the first buildings I could see - it turned out to be a hospital - and went inside to make some calls and charge my phone a little. Natalie Desnoes of GoodFit club in Montego Bay was so kind and worried! No problem, we moved the orientation to Monday, and I'd try to stay a day or two longer. Then I spent an hour on the phone with American. The agent told me she hadn't seen so many cancellations from Denver in 5 years. Literally everything was canceled for both Thursday and Friday from both airports - Colo Springs had only just started to cancel. We scheduled a flight for Saturday morning from Colo Springs, but it's not really convenient with two layovers. I'll stay one extra day and fly back Wednesday (a net loss of one day on the beach).

Now what do I do? Drive all the way home? Certainly NOT the way I came. At this point it was just survival. At least it was a freeway for most of the 186 miles back via Denver.

The fastest I could drive was 40mph. On the highway C470, the road was deserted at times, and it was pure carnage on the sides of the road! There were so many abandoned cars, either run into each other or into snow drifts. The road surface itself was ok - mostly plowed. But earlier it must have been horrendous. Where C470 joins the main highway, I-70, I decided to go east into Denver just a few miles to a Wholefoods I knew of. I hadn't eaten anything since 7 am except a few mandarins and almonds I had for on-the-plane munchies, and I was starving (it was now 6:00 pm). 

But the shopping complex was completely deserted! All the stores closed, with hand written signs on the doors that said, "drive carefully, come back tomorrow". I guess it's good they let their employees go home!

Across the street I found an open Chipotle. At least I could eat something decent - I don't do fast food but their burritos are healthy (and yummy). On the drive back, I called a personal training and a massage client to try to schedule something for Friday, to lessen the hemorrhage of lost income (by staying the extra day on Wed). Fortunately I was able to schedule a massage for Friday night (thank goodness it's Spring Break and a lot of people are still in town). [Note: massage is one of the older hats I've worn, and I'm trying to retire... so I can focus on other things, but this one client is someone I'll still work on when she comes in town, and she's already had two massages with me this week. I can't turn down the income, especially now].

I arrived home just before 9 pm, 17 hours after first getting on the road. 380 miles on my Subaru (now over the 32K I was trying to stay under), and 240 on my husband's car. I probably could have driven to Dallas to fly out. I wish I had some photos to post, but it didn't occur to me until after the drive.

I walked in and went straight to bed....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Going' to Jamaica Mon" Spinning playlist and profile

I'm going to Jamaica for Spinning!

I leave very early Thursday morning, so to celebrate, my early class tomorrow will get a taste of Reggae music for our profile. Hey, they have to suffer through two subs while I'm gone, so I might as well let them in on a little bit of the fun! Actually I'm kidding, both subs are great! I feel fortunate to have such great options for subs. :-)

I'll be doing an orientation in Montego Bay on Friday at Good Fit club, and possibly a continuing ed on Saturday (still waiting to see if we have enough people). Sunday, Good Fit is hosting a fundraiser for local schools, an all day Spinathon overlooking the beach. I'll be donating a few hours of my time leading a few hours of that, and I promise I'll post some pictures.

And then it's hit the beach! I really need this time to relax. To be honest, it's been a little tough in the travel industry lately, as well as in my husband's business - construction. That's one reason I'm not posting as much as I've promised - and also the real reason why I posted that quote the other day - to remind MYSELF to stay positive! 

But I also need time to train (I still haven't told you about my upcoming epic ride - it's coming SOON, don't worry I'll let you in on it!), so while in Jamaica, I'll go in to the club to ride a few hours on Monday as well. 

I fly back on Tuesday.

Very coincidentally, John Macgowan, the host of the Indoor Cycle Instructor podcast, and his wife Amy and two girls will be at Montego Bay for vacation starting on Sunday. Amy and John trade out teaching and training for a vacation, but it's a total coincidence that we will be there at the same time. I'll fill you in more about what we're planning on doing, but expect a great ICI joint podcast from Jamaica coming soon! (Dontcha just LOVE when fun coincidences like this happen? The world is soooo small at times.)

Please enjoy this GREAT playlist that I put together for tomorrow's class. A lot of reggae music is great to listen to but too slow for most Spin classes (I've found). So I've been collecting some faster reggae, or reggae-inspired music for quite awhile to create this playlist. I've gotten ideas from Pedal-On as well as on Twitter. Here is what I've come up with and I am excited to play it for tomorrow's class - trust me, this is really FUN reggae music. It's not the most inspired profile, just a variety of flats and hills, but I think the music will take center stage. Let me know what you think.

Don't Wake up the Policeman (feat Peter Tosh & Friends) - Junkie XL 4:53

Flat road, varied cadence
Hope, Shaggy  4:04 
gradually raise intensity to 70%. Extended warm-up.
Too Nice to Talk To, The English Beat 3:08
standing flat in 30-sec increments, alt with seated flat. HR to 75+%
Afro-Left, Leftfield 7:33
Raise the pace, seated flat with cadence surges to 100 rpm. HR to 80+%

First Hill
Backwards Never, Beat Pharmacy 7:56
Seated climb for 4 minutes, resistance loading each minute
Stand for min 5 and 7, seated for min 6

Seated flat
Get Busy, Sean Paul 3:30

Second Hill
Renegade Soundwave, Leftfield 5:44
Seated climb for 2 min, then Jumps on a hill

Seated Flat
Dances of Resistance, Babylon circus 3:53

Third Hill
En Jamaica, Pierpoljak 3:49
Inspection Check One, Leftfield 6:30
first song, seated climb
second song, switchbacks, stand every minute for 30 sec

Cool Down/Stretch
Love is My Religion, Ziggy Marley 3:44
Jamming, Bob Marley 3:31

Enjoy, and I promise I'll be posting my upcoming epic event SOON!

And follow me on Twitter - I'm on there a lot (and I was amongst the FIRST to hear about Lance's crash when he broke his collarbone in a race in Spain yesterday - truly, moments after it happened - by following Twitter feeds. 

Slowly, more and more Spinning tweeters are coming to the fore. Find me at @vivavelo!

See you on the beach!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

GREAT quote!

Things turn out best for the people who make the best 
of the way things turn out.
John Wooden

A great thing to remember, especially in this economic environment we find ourselves in.

That's all for today, have a great Wednesday!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Selling my Orbea Onix bicycle - spread the word!

Don't worry, it's not my new bike I bought last fall, but I have a great road bike that I have put on Craig's List. Then I thought, hmmm, I get enough people through Spinning who ask me about what kind of bike to buy, that I thought that maybe one of you guys, or someone you know, might be in the market for a new (used) bike. 

Plus, I'm always an advocate for inspiring indoor instructors to become outdoor riders, to share in the wonderful joys of cycling. To ride a quality road bike makes a huge difference than settling for a lesser bike with lesser components, even if it's new. It can make the difference between falling in love with cycling and just tolerating it.

Have I got a sweet deal for you!

It's an Orbea Onix, 54cm carbon road bike, Ultegra components, Full Speed Ahead wheels and crank, Race Lite stem. It has very few miles on it! Gears are 52/39, 23/12. (If I kept it I was going to put some lower gears on it, but I live where there's lots of steep climbs).
The guy I bought it from last summer had bought it in 2005 and realized it was too small for him, so it hung in his garage unused for 2 years! It has about 1,000 miles (which is very low for a used bike, so it's almost like getting a new one, which would cost $3,500+). This guy had a stable full of bikes so it was nothing for him to just let it sit there. I came out to California to visit a friend, who borrowed it from him for me to use, and I fell in love! 
What a sweet ride; it's very lightweight, very responsive, and the most comfortable handlebars I've ever ridden on! Your hands just melt with the flat-surface grip.

Why am I selling it? Well, if you click on that link above about my new bike, you'll see I drove my old bike into my garage and had the opportunity to get a brand spanking new Orbea Diva with full Dura Ace for practically nothing, thanks to insurance. So I no longer needed this one!

Orbea bikes tend to have a longer top tube, so I would go to a shop and see if a 54 Onix fits. I am 5'7", and if I could have shortened the top tube a tiny bit I might have preferred it. But I also have a shorter trunk relative to my legs. 

If you know anyone interested in a great bike, please contact me at

Monday, March 16, 2009

St. Patty's Day Spinning Profile

I call this rolling hills ride The Hills and Dales of Ireland.

I found some good music ideas on Pedal-On, and I also asked the "Twitterati" (the Twitter universe) for some ideas and got some great music suggestions as well.

It's a series of 6 rolling hills; some mild, some steep, with fast down-hills and short vales in between. 
Picture pastures as green as can be, lined with short stone fences,

dotted with sheep, even along the road,

a bit foggy and rainy at times.

You'll roll through a small village here and there and hear bagpipe music wafting out of the pubs.

Hope this playlist doesn't make you feel like drinking green beer!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

How to greatly expand your music repertoire for your Spinning classes

This is a question I get all the time. The next most common question is where do I find my music?

Obviously, music is a very personal thing, and you have to take your market into consideration, but after the first year of teaching Spinning where I used primarily popular music (from the mid to late 90's), I made a huge transition in what I played. For many years, I played almost exclusively electronic and world music. The past 3-4 years, I've been mixing more rock, indie and the occasional pop song (like Madonna) in to please a wider range of students.

Most of my students have loved it over the past 12 years. Sure, you will never make everyone happy with your music choice, and occasionally I mess up and end up deleting a song forever from my library after using it in one class. On one occasion I had someone walk out of a class - she was a hotel guest (our club is part of a destination hotel) and came in late to a Race Day class, right as the "race" was starting - I think it was a Juno Reactor song (I love energetic electronic especially for Race Day). Literally 3 minutes later, she got off her bike. I went over to see if anything was wrong, and she said, "I'd rather have my eyelids super-glued shut than listen to techno!" and she stormed out.

I almost said, "I think they have super-glue at the front desk."
(I think I may have posted that story once on this blog, but it's relevant here).

Oh well, you can't win them all! Everyone else just laughed and enjoyed the class...

A lot of my music was given to me by friends, including from different corners of the globe. So I have an eclectic international repertoire. I also have to fess up that I was an early use of Napster during the years that it reigned, and started growing my library over 10 years ago with international, electronic, trance, and world music from that source. But now, I want to use sources that pay their artists for their work. 

But as you know, IDC instructors can go broke paying $1 per song! So we need sites that pay artists and offer users a good price.

[FYI, that doesn't mean I wont gratefully accept a song emailed to me by a fan of this blog or the forums! I even reciprocate!]

I'm not a big fan of iTunes. It's more expensive and the DMR restrictions is annoying (apparently some tunes are now DMR-free. I'll have to learn more about that).  But it certainly has a wider variety of genres than many downloading sites. I find myself using it for theme rides, and usually spend about $5 per month on iTunes on average.

I have been very successful with eMusic and that's where I get the rest of my music. It's not expensive, and you can find some very unique tunes. But you will not find any pop music, nor groups from big labels. You will find lots of electronic, trance and club music, a good variety of indie bands, older rock, hip-hop, jazz, world, ambient, psychodelic and classical.

They offer you 25 free downloads just for checking them out, and 50 free d/l for joining (and you can cancel anytime after the first month). So that means you can get 100 songs for $15. Not bad! Click on the eMusic icon on the left side of my blog to get your 25 free downloads.

Instructors always ask me,  "what do I do once I join? Who do I search for? It takes so long to search!"

So, to make it easier on anyone looking to expand their music library with more of these genres of music, I've gone through my favorite songs and listed which ones are available on eMusic. This is only the first edition. I will constantly update this, and if you have found some great tunes that I haven't listed, please let me know and I'll update this list. It will be a communal work-in-process.

Click here to download the list. And then click on the icon on the left side of this post to start getting your free downloads. I hope you'll do that to support me - yes, full disclosure - eMusic gives me a little "pat on the back" for sending you to them (but you'd laugh at how insignificant it is). However, any tiny bit I can make to support this time-consuming passion of mine of maintaining this blog, does help out!

If you already are an eMusic member, then you'll really appreciate this list, because sometimes it can be hard to find your 50 songs a month! Again, if you are a member, share with me your favorites, and I'll add them to this list.

There are other music sources, and I'd love to list more options for my readers. I don't know that much about them because I don't have the time to research and learn new systems. I tried for awhile and found some hard-to-find electronic music, but most were $1.99, so I don't use it much.

There is, a Russian music downloading site that is very cheap, but it's highly unlikely that they pay the musicians well enough for their art. is another popular one. If you have success on this, let me know more about it. I'd like to understand the limitations a little better.

You can't go wrong with most of the songs I've put on this list if you are open to non-pop. Some are even among the most popular songs I've used at conferences. If you downloaded my ECA playlist, you'll see that I highlighted the ones available through eMusic.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Been to a Spinning class lately? I highly recommend it!

I have some big goals I'm training for (I'll tell you about them in an upcoming post - they're so exciting for me I can hardly contain it. But I need some more info before I reveal it).

Yes, it requires riding a bike. I need a lot of hours in the saddle.

A few weeks ago I gave up my Thursday night class to an instructor I'd been mentoring, Samantha. It's a bit too far to drive more than once a week. 

But because I need saddle time, I went to Samantha's class last night. I actually went 45 minutes early, to log a total of 1h45 on the bike.

Not counting the times I was mentoring Sam and had her teach half of some of my own classes (because I was focused on her), it's truly been a few years since I took another instructor's class.

Why? Many reasons really.
  • I would prefer to be outside on my bike in summer, or skiing on my non-Spin days in the winter.
  • I've had a schedule of teaching 3-4X/week for awhile. That's been enough (especially with the above-mentioned outdoor activities).
  • Though I don't do a lot for Mad Dogg & Spinning anymore, there was a time when I was traveling 1-2X month for orientations and CED training weekends. Plenty of on-the-spin-bike time.
  • Other classes didn't fit into my schedule.
  • I didn't think I would enjoy the instructor's class!

OK, that last reason is a bit selfish, maybe even arrogant, of me. But in reality, I'm sorry to admit, much of the time, it's true! I'm such a freakin' perfectionist and probably way too picky (to a fault). At least I admit it. 

And I would probably have been wrong about it in many instances. But the last time I did go to another instructor's classes (it was the only time slot that worked with me) - I didn't enjoy it, she was boring, had cheesy unmotivating music, and had non-cycling-specific silly profiles (though she didn't really do anything contraindicated or dangerous, just dumb stuff like perching on fingertips in long standing flats). Actually she never had a true "profile" - she winged every class.

But, I have to say that I LOVED the experience last night! I got to just ride, not think, not prepare a profile or the music, not limit my own intensity for the sake of the class, not have to check on everyone all the time, and just do as I was told. That was liberating.

Even things like the warm-up and cool-down and stretching and loosening up the shoulders prior to and after the workout felt really good. I experienced this as a participant, not the instructor, so it reinforced to me that yes indeed, I think it's important to do this before/after a class. (Does that make sense? Sometimes as the instructor, I wonder if what I'm doing is just fluff to fill time in the first few minutes of class. But no, it's important.)

And I am so proud of Samantha! She put together a great interval profile, with a lot of variety (flat road cadence work as well as hills),  great music, and kept us engaged. I got a great workout, stayed aerobic (we're still in Base at that club) and relished the experience. 

I'm even going to ask Samantha to put together the profile to present it to you guys on this blog. She's open to an open critical analysis of the profile as well. Maybe next week I'll be able to post it.

Has it been awhile since you've been to another instructor's Spin class?

I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My ECA profiles

If anyone from ECA is reading this, I am behind in sending out my promised emails. I sent out the Tour de France information (both Alpe d'Huez and Suitcase of Courage) last night, but the others are coming soon, I promise!

If anyone from Can Fit Pro is reading this - Hallelujah! I was embarrassed to mention on this blog that I misplaced my email list. But I found them while preparing my sessions for ECA. In fact, I didn't lose them; I "hid" them from myself! They were in my Alpe d'Huez file, which is pretty thick with all those prints and newspaper clippings I post on the wall, so that was one file I didn't look in when searching for the "lost" email forms.

I am diligently working on sending this information out. 

Didn't go to ECA or Can Fit Pro? Most of the information is to be found on my blog from my WSSC session posts from last year, but if you would like to be included in the mailing - email me ASAP and I'll include you.

ECA Music list can be downloaded here. It includes my playlists for all 6 sessions.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The MI Team at ECA

At ECA, I got to room with my teammate Iona Passik from NYC. She's been with Mad Dogg Athletics and Spinning since the very early days with Johnny G. Now, our team is fairly big, and we're spread out all over the world, and we usually only get to see our peers once a year at WSSC, or occasionally at another conference like this one. And even then, we're usually immersed in our own sessions, practicing presentations, listening to playlists, etc. For that reason, many of my fellow Master Instructors I don't even know very well.

So after all these years, I got to learn so much more about Iona! It's very cool the variety of people on this team, each with his or her special talents, abilities and ways to motivate. I didn't get a chance to attend any of Iona's sessions except the final parts of a couple of them, because either they were right before mine and I was practicing, or I was recovering/showering after mine, or on one occasion I went to see JC Santana. But I did hear a fantastic compliment she received, which speaks so loudly of her.

I came in the Spinning room after her session to set up for mine. We were chatting about her ride, and a woman shouted out from across the room. "I LOVE YOU IONA - you are so inspirational to me! I just want you to know, I LOVE YOU!"

Iona said to me, "That woman is 71 years old and just took her first Spinning class this weekend. I just met her!"

What a fantastic compliment!

And of course, Josh Taylor. I've gotten to know him over the years, hanging out a bit after ECA NY 3 years ago and attending quite a few of his rides over the past 8 years. It's easy to see why everyone loves him - he really gives it to them straight and is a master at inspiration and putting together his music. And so creative with his rides. I love what he brings to the table from his road racing, and I'm so proud of him for developing and producing his new bike set-up kit (you'll be learning more about that later).

He was leading a session using high intensity accelerations, trying to get them to do it properly, but he noticed that many were pedaling like a roadrunner with no resistance, feet blurring around at well over 120 rpm. "STOP!" he said, jumped off his bike and proceeded to review how to do it right. This so needed to happen!

All of us Master Instructors have similar goals - to inspire and help instructors teach safe and effective Spinning classes using efficient proper movements, to pedal properly and to set themselves up the right way on the bike so they can turn around and do the same to their students. But on the same token, all three of us are so different. That's the beauty of a conference like this or like WSSC; you get all different personalities and styles to learn from.

9 months ago when I submitted my rides for this conference, I chose my favorite ones, along with one new one. Doing your favorite rides makes it even more fun, because there's a reason they're my favorites - they have a big impact on my riders, and I love the music and I can do the profile blindfolded (but I still practice practice practice)! But the new one can be stressful, and this time it was The Suitcase of Courage. It was only the past two weeks that I really put the profile together, and only a few days prior that I 'tested' it out on my own students. Even then, it changed several times in the 24 hours before I taught it. "What if I do this, or maybe I'll do that!" I even bought a "prop" for it while walking back to the hotel after dinner with Robert and some friends.

Tune in tomorrow to see what that was, and what the ride turned into...

Planetarium ride followup - Ride the Storm

I'm back from New York city! 

First let me tell you about my planetarium ride last Thursday; later today I'll post about my "culture day" following the conference, then tomorrow I'll tell you about the conference and start adding ride profiles and information about my sessions. The first one I'll post will be the Suitcase of Courage ride - the one I know many people are waiting for (since this was the first time I presented this new session).

Thursday night I was scheduled to co-teach with Maryjo Ruckel, a fellow Master Instructor and co-owner of Image Cycling, at the Vanderbilt Planetarium in Long Island. Teaching a class at this planetarium has long been a dream of mine, ever since she told me about it. 

Long story short, my plane was delayed and we arrived to the planetarium a half hour late. I fretted on the drive there because I hate to be late, I hate to inconvenience people and was restless and a bit anxious (as I stuffed my face with the sandwich she brought for me). MJ was calm and cool, knowing it was totally out of our control, and was in phone contact with the others, letting them know we were en route. "The package is being delivered!" she told them!

We arrived and everyone was soooooo understanding and kind; no one seemed to mind that we were late. By the time we dressed, the ride started 40 minutes behind schedule. One lady had to leave early because of her babysitter, but she was unbelievably sweet and sorry not to be able to stay.

We started the ride in almost total darkness in the planetarium (a fairly small and cozy planetarium - click here to see pictures). The ride is called Ride the Storm. The premise is that we are leaving very early in the morning to ride up a big mountain to watch the sunrise at the summit. I conjured up the image of Haleakala in Hawaii, except there they shuttle tourists to the top to watch the sunrise, then they ride down. Such folly! I believe you have to deserve the downhill! 

A storm is brewing; we hope we can make it up before the rain begins, because we've been planing this for so long and there's no rescheduling or turning back.

But the rain starts soon after we start (we used a great mix of Rider's on the Storm by the Doors as the first song on the hill). MJ coached the first half hour, and used the storm as a metaphor. We all have obstacles in our lives that we must overcome and move past if we want to reach our goals and dreams. We can't let them stop or slow us down, and there's no turning back. The same goes for this climb - ya gotta put your head down and dig in and continue the ride - rain or no rain, no turning back. As she led the class, I was craning my neck to watch the projections on the planetarium dome of photos of lightening, stars & clouds. Flashes of lightening surrounded us, and the sound system enveloped us. Sometimes you could barely see the participants on their Spin bikes when the photos were projected on the dome or during the flashes of lightening; other times it was pretty dark. It was very, very cool.

I led the second half of the ride, and continued on her theme as we made our way up this long climb. I spoke about a time where I rode up a huge mountain in the mist and rain, that turned into fog where you could barely see 20 feet ahead of you. That was in the Pyrénées on a bike tour 10 years ago.  I also talked about how we have a choice as to how we deal with these obstacles in our lives. We can let them ruin our day (our ride or event or whatever we are planning) or we can accept them, change our attitude to a positive one, and move on. 

I actually learned a lesson. I talked about how on the drive from the airport MJ was as calm as can be, and I was letting myself get anxious and upset over being late (most of this was worry going on in my head). But the fact was, as MJ said, we were going to get there when we got there. We couldn't drive any faster. It is what is it!

The end result was the same - getting there at 'x' o'clock. The difference lay only in how you perceive getting there. You can CHOOSE to allow anxiety to ruin your experience (and potentially ruin the rest of your day), or you can CHOOSE to just go with the flow. Either way you arrive at the same place and same time. 

I likened this to our ride through the storm. Sometimes bummer things happen and your day doesn't proceed exactly as planned (like rain). But, if you change your attitude, you might encounter life-altering experiences that you never thought you would even want to experience, but that turn out to be really amazing. It's like when I rode up the Pyrénées in the rain. Heck, we were in France, we weren't going to NOT ride, but in truth we were quite bummed that morning and there was no shortage of curse words among the group. However, it turned out to be a ride I will never, ever forget. I loved the experience and talk about it to this day!

They say there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. So I kept reminding my riders that they were perfectly prepared for the rain, and stayed warm, if not a little wet. The rain cleared to a light mist as we neared the top. We had to hurry to catch the sunrise, as the clouds were clearing and turning pink, so we pushed it a little, just in time to watch the sun burst through above the low lying clouds below us. You can imagine the pictures they projected on the dome, and the climactic music taking us to the top.


It was really a great experience! 

Check out Image Cycling. If you are anywhere within a few hours drive of Long Island, make sure you experience a ride at this planetarium soon. Their schedule is on their website.

[Because I don't want to make my post too long, I'll write more later! Keep checking back...]