So, I got two more flats on my ride and a stranger hugged me.

Last Saturday I was supposed to go on a *really* long bike ride (76 miles!!) and I was really, really nervous. So, of course, about 30 miles into my epic quest I got a flat tire. Normally a flat tire wouldn’t bum me out but this one made me particularly upset because last weekend I kept getting flats. I had to fix 5 or 6 before I thought I had solved the problem by digging out a small chunk of glass from my tire and installing some brand new tubes

The problem was clearly not fixed and I was on a group ride with people who were much faster than me (I can barely keep up). So, when we got to the nearest rest stop I fixed the flat, examined my tires inch by inch for glass and left as quick as I could to catch back up with my group.

Uphill

Things were going well and after pedaling really hard I actually caught up with my group. Then, at mile 41, I got ANOTHER flat and realized the problem (whatever it was) was not solved. It was at that point I decided I needed to just call home for a ride so that I could get my bike straightened out properly. I was really sad.

I told the group I was riding with to leave me and that I was going to use my phone to call a ride. They left, I pulled out my phone, and it was dead.

Dead.

The second I realized I called out to my group but they were long gone (I assured them I was fine and didn’t need them to wait), and I was in the middle of NO WHERE with only two houses in sight.

I had a little, tiny panic moment before I walked down the first long country driveway with tears on my cheeks worried that some monster lived there. I knocked and no one was home (more panic, more tears).

Next, I knocked on the door of the second house and asked the woman who answered if I could use her phone. I tried my best to ask without crying. She could clearly tell I was upset because she said something like, “Of course you can use my phone! My GOD what happened?!”

And then she hugged me…

I erupted into tears again.

Now, I am not a fan of stranger hugs by any means, but that hug was desperately needed. It was the best hug ever. It was strong and firm and real.

By answering her door that kind lady was able to do more for me than just let me use her phone. She didn’t even have to use words.

I hope she knows the value of what she gave me. I think I needed that hug more than I needed the phone call (or at least as much as I needed it).

At your size and your age, you can amaze yourself. I promise.

I witnessed the coolest thing today.

A friend and I went on a short bike ride today and this was the first time she’s been on a bike since High School (she is now into her 50’s)!

Her fear, nervousness and trepidation before the ride paired with her surprise during the ride and her genuine joy after the ride made the experience positive and overwhelmingly cool.

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I loved hearing her making plans and setting goals..

“I wonder if I’ll be able to ride my bike to work this summer….”

It was like holding up a mirror, and I wanted to tell her she could do anything.

To me it was proof of our power as ordinary people — even when we’re sure something will be too challenging or difficult or scary or impossible. She did it and it was amazing to witness.

How a nerdy girl goes about buying a road bike

  1. Does a ton of research online
  2. Checks lots of forums and posts questions on reddit
  3. Tweets to random bike shops and bike blogers
  4. Avoids going to an actual bike shop at all costs by sending the following email:

    IMG_20120509_194214Hey guys,

    Do you have recommendations for a first time road bike? Right now I’m on a Norco Yorkville Hybrid which I use to commute short distances.

    Knowing I’m a commuter, my friends convinced me to sign up for the STP and in a fit of irrational bravery, I signed up. Now I’m reading more, timing myself and realizing my bike (and possibly it’s engine) will not be cutting it speed and weight wise. I want something that might make my ride even a little bit easier and more aerodynamic. ;-)

    Answers to questions you might have:
    I’m short, (5’1″) and overweight (I’ve lost 80lbs, but still have awhile to go). Despite this, I’m fit for my size. No back issues, etc.

    I’ve had previous hip and knee issues with my bike. I had it pro-fit and that made a big difference. It’s still a concern for me over long distances (not sure if you can help with anything other than a fit).

    From what I’ve read I think I want a more traditional road bike (vs. Ultra light). I ideally I’d like some carbon components and reliable drive train and other confusing things that I don’t fully understand and would have trouble fixing on my own.

    I need a bike that is cut out for long distances (ie Seattle to Portland and other cool, long rides).

    I’ve never clipped into a bike before.

    My budget is $700 or hopefully less (I know that’s tricky).

    Totally open to used bikes and/or old models.

    Also, I’d love to know what a touring bike is? Is that what I’m looking for?

    Can you help? Any recommendations? Things I should think about/consider? Are you just gonna tell me to come in? ;)

  5. Waits enthusiastically for a reply knowing that, of course, they will tell her just to come in.

Rant: Why my gym is failing

I pick on my gym a lot, but the reason I do is because I really want them to succeed and stick around when I see so many other businesses dying and/or failing in my city. Sure, it’s just another link in the giant chain-gym-machine…. but, it contains a great community of people who are sticking by it, and if it could break free from it’s chain, it would be a really nice place to exercise.

#Fail
My gym isn’t doing so well. They need more memberships and they’re just not getting them.The problem with my gym is that it isn’t super. It’s part of a chain of clubs: some of the gyms in this chain are average (members pay a decent, average price), some of the gyms are “plus” (members pay a little more), and some of the gyms are “super” because they are endorsed by a celebrity and offer special amenities and classes the other gyms don’t have (you don’t even want to know what those members pay).The problem with this model is that every gym should be super. Increasingly, super is what people are coming to expect, and mega gyms or “boxes” across the country aren’t getting the message.

They still want to live by the model that has worked in the past:

  1. Build box
  2. Put equipment inside
  3. Charge people to get in
  4. Offer extra products and services for people to buy (including your exclusive, special knowledge about how to use the equipment properly).

The past was easy for gyms, but things are changing in a big way.
Gyms are failing to see the change in industry (or they’ve failed to do anything about it).

With the onslaught of social media, blogs, forums and online connectivity, information is accessible like it never has been before. People can read about fitness from expert trainers, watch videos on proper technique and nutrition, log all their personal health analytics instantly and connect with professionals daily and for FREE.

We’ve also become increasingly interested in niche fitness trends like crossfit, yoga, and kettlebell training and people are beginning to look at static weight machines and even some cardio equipment with disdain. After all, that’s really boring.

We no longer want to pay a trainer to show us how to use a machine. In fact:

  • We want to use free weights
  • We want niche classes
  • We want variety
  • We want options
  • We want to speak with experts and not get nickel-and-dimed for the opportunity.

In order to turn things around my gym would have to do something truly super. They’d have to figure out a way to make their boring, average gym extraordinary. The good news is they have a really good foundation of core gym members and trainers; people who are friendly, engaging, eager and ready to endorse them. They just need an extra push or reason for us to say, “my gym is doing some truly amazing things, come check it out — you HAVE to.”