Saturday, May 5, 2007

Cycling and Life..waxing poetic

so, I find myself not racing this weekend, and am using a little of that extra time I have not driving to the middle of nowhere to reflect on what cycling has done for me in the past 9 months. Last month, Trek had a contest where you had to write a 500 word email about what cycling has done for you. They seemed to be looking for women to test new products, be part of ads, etc. I certainly don't think I won the contest....but at least I can re-use the essay I wrote on my blog! :-) Of course I had a feeling I wouldn't win..because all the photos I sent them were me on my Giant Bike...not exactly showing brand support..oops!

Without further adieu...(with a few extra comments added in parenthesis):

Why would I be a good choice for a “Women Who Rides?” Well, because I love what cycling has done for me. In the past 9 months I have 1. Bought my first real road bike 2. Ridden about 6000 miles, 3. Finished my first race (and wasn't last...) 4. Placed well in every race I have entered, 5. Achieved the best fitness level of my entire life 6. Encouraged many other people to become passionate about cycling (the LBS loves me...I give them lots of business by convincing everyone around me to buy fancy bikes), 7. Crashed and came back stronger (broken collarbone, grade 3 separation, 1 broken rib, 2 weeks off the bike), and 8. Love to talk about bikes and all things cycling!

By many measures, 3 years ago I was successful. I was 31 years old, a tenured professor of Mechanical Engineering, living in Santa Barbara, and yet I was suffering from undiagnosed hypothyroidism. I was so tired all the time, about 30 pounds heavier than I wanted to be and I just attributed it to overworking. Thus began a journey of treatment, which was resolved in 2005. Now, you may ask, where does cycling fit into all this? This is where the story gets interesting!

Once I got my energy back, I started running to lose weight. I was running so much that I was a bit worried about ruining my knees. I had friends who cycled, and so completely out of the blue, on the 5th of July in 2006, I bought a road bike. The very next day, I headed for the biggest climb in the area (known for it’s similarity in grade to Alp d’Huez), and up I went! It was exhilarating. The next week, I showed up for the local racing club ‘women’s ride’, and had a blast. A couple weeks later, I went on the co-ed club group ride, and surprisingly could keep up on that, too! So of course the next thing to do was enter a race! It was the end of the season, but exactly one month to the day after buying my bike, I completed my first road race. It was a Pro/1/2/3/4 race with 4s scored separately, and little did I know how hard that would be! I ended up in 6th place, and completely hooked on racing!

In the fall I went to camp, and trained hard all winter, and have had good placements in my races so far this season and I'm having a great time! I’ve done a lot of things in my life, and I love to talk with people about most anything. Cycling is this huge new thing in my life, and a new outlet for stress-relief and enjoyment, on some of the best roads in the country. I have new friends all over the country that I would never have known without the bike (and even more through the blogs). I can’t even remember my life before cycling. I can’t believe what I had been missing out on for so long!

So why should I be a Trek ‘woman who rides?’ Well, because I ride! And it has changed my life.

ps. and on racing notes (since i'm not racing this weekend, I have to salute the people who are)... at the Tour of the Gila, my friend and mentor Dotsie Bausch won stage 3 yesterday! Yeah Dotsie, and best of luck in the GC (she is currently third after 3 stages). And my friend from bike camp, Christina, is racing the 3/4's race there, and after stage 1 yesterday is in third place! Yeah Christina! (she always could smoke me on the hills..)


CyclistRick said...

Nice essay. I love reading how people get transformed by simple things like a bicycle. Have you watched "Emmanuel's Gift"? And there is a story in the first issue of Urban Cyclist about a single mother who is altered when she is given a bike. Loved your story and glad you are keeping with it.

So what road in the SB area is the "Alpe d'Huez" analog? Ms Chatterbox has an aunt and uncle who live just off the beach in SB and are asking when we are returning for a visit. Last time we rode into town coming up Old Stagecoach to San Marcos Pass then across Camino Cielo and down Painted Cave to Old San Marcos. Painted Cave is a white knuckler for descending ...

Kimberly Turner said...

cyclistrick--if you go UP old san marcos and Painted cave, it is very similar in grade and length to L'Alpe d'Huez. Its actually a little shorter and a little steeper. Another great one (not quite as steep, but a tad longer) is Gibraltar road, both go up to East Camino Cielo. They are beautiful (and brutal) climbs. Old San marcos has been repaved, and it is a flat out awesome technical descent. I highly recommend it. Painted cave is still crazy....(my shoulder can remind me as I crashed there once by hitting a foot deep pothole, wheel went screwy, and I endo-d. Not pleasant...but it didn't scare me from descending in the future...) A fun ride is to make a loop out of it and go up OSM/Painted cave, across the top on East Camino Cielo, and down Gibraltar, and then to a coffee stop in town! It's about 45-50 miles, and 5K feet climb, and fun on a clear day.