Thursday, March 5, 2009

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...]


Sandy said...

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.

Jen thanks for this (see above). I needed that quote. I am one who can let this happen. It will be my mantra over the next couple of weeks. I have a big trip planned and am not the best flyer.
Your ride sounded fantastic! Riding in a planetarium must have been a real treat.

Engineer Dude said...

Hi Jennifer:
That's amazing! Thanks for the update...
FYI, just did my first spinning experience recently at Davis Phinney Foundation MOVE for Parkinson's fundraiser... (pics at:
Now I'll have to get over my spin-class-phobia, and sign up for a real one - but i'm sure it will be nothing like that one!
btw - an experienced Dad on the team said about the 3rd spin instructor: "you could sure tell she was an aerobics instructor vs. cyclist" Comments?

Jennifer Sage said...

Cool Pics Mark, and it looked like a great event. I like that they mixed the road bikes on trainers with the IDC bikes. I've done that at fundraisers at my club as well, even brought my own trainer in with my road bike. Curious why they would have chosen an instructor who wasn't really a cyclist for a Davis Phinney event. Yes, it is sometimes quite evident when an instructor doesn't ride outside and lets the "aerobics instructor" come through, unless they really adhere to proper principles of indoor cycling!

Have you checked out my ebook yet? It will help you get over that Spin class phobia - targeted to people just like you. All about keeping it real in indoor cycling.

BTW, I know some great instructors in Boulder I can steer you to, at Mountains Edge.

Engineer Dude said...

(not to derail from your awesome planetarium ride, but :) ...)
I don't know where the instructors were from (maybe Flatiron Athletic Club). I thought the guy who was on 2nd was very good - described it like you did in terms of hill climbing, etc.

Just got your ebook (PayPal makes it SO easy!) I guess the first time I saw it, i thought it was for instructors... I hope it's a family license? :) Others are on the trainer in the basement more than I am.

Interesting you mention Mountains Edge - i live about 200yds from there! But lots of good stuff @ Flatirons - actually too much, all all-pro crowd! (i exaggerate...)

Kala Marie said...


That sounds simply life-changing. Totally awesome. I had to giggle when you said, "It is what it is"... My boyfriend says that to me ALL THE TIME when I get bent out of shape about things.

But it's true... You have the power to CHOOSE how to handle what comes your way. :)

lamspin said...

Welcome back, Jennifer!
Wish this post came sooner. Last week someone backed into my 6-month old car. This "bummer thing" cost $2200 for repair and car rental/week (TG, we have insurance). It took me a day to get over the anxiety, thanks to yoga practice: "the only way out is to go through it (emotions).." and lots of yogic breathing :>)
On the possitive side, nobody got hurt.
Thank you for sharing your experience which make us all feel that we are humans. I would be a saint if I got out of my car, smiled, and said "no problem" (?). The point is I had chosen to switch my mood soon enough to avoid more losses.
Can't wait for your next posts.

Karen said...

Jennifer - you never fail to inspire! Looking for to riding with you in CO next week (hopefully!) and WSSC. Karen