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Live Love Velo in 2017


Everything you want to know about being a part of Live Love Velo is right here!

Benefits of Live Love Velo Membership

  • Join an inclusive network of women cyclists who support one another in fitness, health and fun.  LLV supports all women riders:  Newbies to racers.
    • Make new friends!  Enjoy the camaraderie of like-minded women.
    • Benefit from the experience of women who are accomplished cyclists.
    • Increase your cycling knowledge and skills, fitness and health.

What we ask of Live Love Velo Members

  • Live Love Velo members are regarded as ambassadors for women’s cycling, and cycling in general.  As a member of Live Love Velo (LLV), you are called upon to represent the organization in a positive light and support LLV in our mission to empower women to discover their fullest potential, improve health and fitness and find connection through cycling. Your behavior is a reflection on our organization and our sponsors.  Be kind and gracious to your fellow members, other athletes and the larger community.
  • Pay yearly dues ($40).  
  • Please show your LLV spirit by wearing your LLV jersey for designated club team rides and any events in which the team is participating together.
  • Term of membership is from January 1 to December 31, 2017.
  • Please encourage support for our sponsors among friends, family and in the community.

Be a part of Live Love Velo!

  • Live Love Velo is a co-operative organization. Your contribution to the team will help LLV to thrive. You will get back what you put in, and more!  Please don’t fret if you can’t make time to contribute. It’s encouraged, but not at all required.  Can you…
    • Teach a clinic on something bike related:  How to change a flat tire, nutrition for riding, yoga, etc.
    • Host a gathering to discuss a book that relates to cycling or training.
    • Host a kick-off, end of year or holiday party for Live Love Velo.
    • Organize or participate in a trail maintenance outing for LLV.
    • Set up a table at an event to do outreach on behalf of LLV.
    • Volunteer on behalf of LLV for a cycling related community organization, such as Trips for Kids.
    • Write a blog post that we can post on the LLV website.
    • Volunteer to do some of the behind the scenes work:  Website updates, facebook posting, checking in with sponsors by phone or email.
    • Lead a Ride:  Road or Mountain. Long or short. Epic or to the donut shop.
    • Represent LLV in a cycling race.
  • Thanks to our generous sponsors, LLV is able to offer incentives to members who contribute their time and talents. LLV will give you $250 for every 5 contributions that you make, to a maximum of $500. To be eligible for this, you must:
    • Email us at to tell us what you will do.
    • FOR CONTRIBUTIONS (except races) that have a calendar date (rides, clinics, parties…)
      • YOU MUST NOTIFY US AT LEAST 2 WEEKS AHEAD OF TIME to guarantee that it will count toward your contributions.
    • FOR RACES to count as a contribution
      • You must list EECT/LiveLoveVelo as your affiliate team when registering for a race and wear LLV kit while racing
      • Post a brief report (2 or more sentences) within 2 days of the event, to our private Facebook group, or via email if you prefer.

This is cool!

  • Live Love Velo is a Specialized Ambassador Team.  Members of Live Love Velo are eligible for Specialized Ambassador Team pricing on select Specialized merchandise at our sponsor shops: Kreb Cycle in Bellport and Carl Hart in Middle Island.
    • Specialized selects local teams to participate in their Ambassador Team Program based on an alignment of their goals and ours.
    • Specialized partners with Live Love Velo because we achieve great results on the bike and are role models to other riders and the public.
    • We share a vision of bicycling as a key to healthier and more sustainable communities.
  • Live Love Velo gives back.  Be a part of serving the Long Island community!
    • Each year we designate a cause or project as a service to our larger community.

How to Join Live Love Velo

  • CLICK HERE and complete the application and payment.
  • In addition to signing the on-line waiver during the registration process, please print and sign the attachment (you’ll see it when you sign online), then scan and email it back to us.  We need to have your signature for insurance purposes.  Thanks!
  • Your membership is active once your dues are paid and we receive your waiver.
  • Remember to request an invite to our members-only Facebook group.  
  • Questions?  Email us at


Live Love Velo membership is open for 2016. Join us!

There’s so much to love about Long Island’s only Women’s Cycling Organization.  Our goal is to provide you with the support to ride your bike and love it, and take it to the next level, if you so desire.  In response to the feedback we get from our members and women in the community, we’ve made it easier than ever to join and participate in Live Love Velo.  We’d love to meet you and welcome you to Live Love Velo.

in the woods

  • Join an inclusive network of women cyclists who support one another in fitness, health and fun.
    • Make new friends!  Enjoy the camaraderie of like-minded women.
    • Benefit from the experience of women who are accomplished cyclists.
    • Increase your cycling knowledge and skills, fitness and health.
  • Members of Live Love Velo are welcome to attend all Live Love Velo rides.
    • Rides are led by experienced riders.
    • All Live Love Velo group rides are designated as a “no-drop”.  All members can participate with confidence and with success.  We are here for you!
    • Once monthly road ride is on the first Saturday of the month, April through November.
    • Once monthly mountain bike ride is on the third Sunday of the month, March through October.
    • Additional rides are planned and organized by members on an informal basis, via our message board.  Whether road rides, mountain bike rides or practicing cross skills, members regularly post their rides and invite other members to join them.
  • Members of Live Love Velo are welcome to attend all Live Love Velo clinics and social events.
    • Previous clinics/events have included: How to Change a Flat, Basic Bike Maintenance, The ABC’s of Training, Sports Nutrition, Intro to Mountain Biking, Intro to Cyclocross, Intro to Road Racing, Yoga for Cyclists, and indoor trainer sessions during cold weather months.  We host a few clinics a year.  We also host a holiday party, a Mother’s day ride and picnic and/or other social gatherings.
  • Live Love Velo gives back.  Be a part of serving the Long Island community!
    • Each year we designate a cause or project as a service to our larger community.  In 2016, Live Love Velo will be trail stewards at the Eastport mountain biking trail, providing trail maintenance during throughout the year.
  • Enjoy easy communication with your fellow LLVers!  Starting this month, Live Love Velo is using TeamSnap, to organize, message and plan our rides and events.   Plus, we have a members-only Facebook group for casual chat among members, too.

How to Join:

  • If you are new to Live Love Velo, email us at or visit us on our TeamSnap page, where you can click on the button to message us.  Let us know you want to join.
  • We will add you to our roster and TeamSnap at which point you will be able to pay the yearly dues.  Dues are $40 for anyone who has ever been a member of Live Love Velo in the past.  If you are brand new, it’s an additional $80 for a Live Love Velo jersey.
  • We’ll ask you to sign a waiver and… poof!  That’s all.  Welcome to Live Love Velo!

Learn more about who we are and additional details about membership on our website.  And please, share this post so that we may all ride together in peace and harmony!  See ya out there!

Christina Wraps-up the NJ Time Trial Cup Series!

A New Yorker’s Experience

Sandy Hook – April 4, 2015
I was supposed to do this race last year. I was registered for it and planned on going but in the middle of the night, my son got very sick. Hubby had a local mountain bike race the next day as well and so I stayed home with the little guy. This year, there were no conflicts and I headed out at 4am with Michael and John (Paniagua Cycling). We knew this was known to be a windy course but it was definitely a bad sign when on the weather forecasts all that was showing were wind icons. We neared the location and saw the white caps beating on the water. We parked the car and struggled to open the doors because the force of the wind was blowing them shut. I am not exaggerating at all. In fact, I still doubt that you can understand just how severely windy this morning turned out to be. From what I can gather, it was about 40mph winds – and those would be headwinds on the way out. My pre-race attitude started shifting from feeling like I could do well to feeling like I just wanted to stay upright. The race began and thankfully the holder gave a little push (which is rare) otherwise I might have started in reverse. The wind was tough and I allowed myself to get mentally defeated. At one point I looked down and I was going a measly 9.6 mph. Really? This is a race?! The wake-up call happened for me at the turn around. It was then that I saw how close behind Michael and John were in the men’s field which started minutes after me. It was then that I realized I needed to turn it on. Granted, the way back had a nice tailwind but I also rode it well…to the point of wanting to throw up which is my indicator that I was doing all I could do. I came in 3rd place – 4 seconds away from 2nd place (out of only 4). I was annoyed with myself for my poor performance on the way out but lesson learned. The good part of the day was reconnecting with Sue Seyboldt and getting to meet Julia Franco (who rode really strong against the wind!)

Bundled up at Sandy Hook

Bundled up at Sandy Hook

Cape May – April 11, 2015
This race is the farthest in the series and one that was not on my radar. However, I decided that this was the year I wanted to give the series a try through and through. My supportive husband, Chauncy, agreed to head out Friday after school and we stayed at a motel not too far from the start. We knew it was a bad sign when we pulled into the parking lot of the motel and all we saw and heard were hoards of teenage girls running around while their parents were just sitting there smoking. Upon checking in we were informed that there was a cheerleading convention and two rival teams were staying at this motel. The noise proceeded throughout the night enhanced only by the ever-so-creative knock and run games that they chose to play on our door. Uggh. So much for getting a good night’s sleep before the race (not that that ever happens anyway).

Race morning time. I had it in my head that I needed to fix my mistakes from the week before and justify the whole long drive and overnight stay. I was motivated and it paid off. At the finish, I knew that I had done well (and I had the throw up feeling) but this was a large field and I was unsure as to how some of the riders who went off minutes ahead fared. Results were posted and I stood looking for a moment. My name was first. Did they just list names alphabetically and placement was elsewhere? It literally took me a little while to comprehend that really, I came in 1st place! I was super excited as this was a first for me. I also realized that it was a close first with Sharon mere seconds behind and Julia just a couple or more seconds off, with Sue right in there as well. This was going to be a good season with strong women who will make each other work hard.

As an addendum, after the race I was contacted by Sharon via Strava who congratulated me and I saw and reached out to fellow rider Karen Clark on there as well. The friendly dialogue and communication starts to extend past race morning and the good vibe continues to grow!

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Me, Sue and Julia at the finish.

Greeted by my Cheerleader

Greeted by my Cheerleader.

Allamuchy – April 8, 2015
Allamuchy was race number three in the season and the first one that I had previous ridden. I raced this course last year and liked it, despite getting distracted by the farm animals. Yes, I talked to the cows to let them know that I don’t eat them. I told myself in advance that I would be rude and ignore them this year. I headed back to Allamuchy with Michael (Paniagua) as my co-pilot and with my goal of simply seeing progress from last year. For this race, seeding finally helped me. For two years now I have been slowly learning how this series works. Last year I couldn’t understand how I would beat people and next week still be starting ahead of them. Thanks to Mark Curran, I learned about how the team has to be registered in the series in order for racers to accrue points. For this race, I was seeded in the back and mentally it made a difference to have other riders in your category in your sites. I took off and pushed it. Nearing the turnaround I saw congestion of riders in my category. I slowed a lot at the turnaround, as this is a weakness of mine, and the helpful marshals were telling me to keep going. I was trying! Back on the straightaway I pushed on and wound up passing a few racers in the field, including Tracy Andre, another strong rider who has a great attitude. She gave me words of encouragement at the pass and then I continue to hammer on. I kept it up for a strong finish, complete with the throw up feeling again. I pushed so hard today and averaged 22mph on the course – up from 19.8 from last year! First place again!

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Trying to stay areo at Allamuchy.

Sue in 2nd, me in 1st and Deobrah taking third!

Long Beach Island – April 25, 2015
This was another far race geographically but I was committed at this point. Hubby, son and I took off on a Friday night again and this time our hotel room ROCKED. It was a handicapped accessible room and it was big enough to ride a bike inside! The problem was we got slammed in traffic and didn’t get in until ridiculously late so we didn’t get to enjoy it much, nor did I get that good night sleep that eludes me every time!

Pre-race: it was cold. Really cold. It was great to see Sharon again in the parking lot and we probably talked longer than we should have just to delay having to get going in the cold! Sue and the Riptide crew were already spinning and warming up.

At the start I realized I didn’t reset my Garmin from the warm-up. I was seconds away from launching, bike was being held and I could not get the Garmin to reset. 3-2-1-go and I am .9 miles in with some 14mph average speed being displayed. I messed with it for another second and then gave up. This course was flat with driveways and side roads galore – not my favorite. I push, I keep Sue in my sights, get to the turn around and head back. I pass Sue, then she passes me again, and I pass her again. Then an ambulance passes me. That is not a good sign. I start thinking if everyone is okay and then come to the scene of the accident. I slow down a bit and see a rider up and walking and it looks like things are okay. Still unsettled and I am hoping all is well. I come to the finish line – no throw up feeling. Hmmm – that was telling me I messed up. I left too much in the tank. I rely on the Garmin perhaps too much and not having the accurate stats in front of me was an issue for me. I wound up in 4th place. That being said, I could not have been happier that Sharon came in first place! She was motivated today due to some personal events and she rode strong!

After the race, I found that the riders involved in the accident were okay. I also finally had the good pleasure of meeting Teresa DiSessa and also Diane Elmore, a racer in the women’s cat 4 field. Diane and I talked about mom guilt and the problem of limited training time! Ah, the issues of female racers (actually, more on that later)!

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Chauncy getting a ride in.

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Messing with my Garmin at the start.

High Point Hill Climb – May 2, 2015
I like hills. I was looking forward to this race a lot and had competed in it last year. Michael was my buddy again for this one and we decided not to trainer bike it for warm up but rather to ride the road. The clothing dilemma set in – arm warmers or no arm warmers? I knew I’d be cold heading down the hill but didn’t want to deal with them during the climb. I opted for no warmers and did freeze for the 5 miles down to the start. Michael went off 20 minutes before me so I kept my legs moving. I got to the start to line up and realized I almost forgot about my gel. I downed it quickly, took a quick swig of water and was off. That one swig of water was not enough. The first few minutes all I could think of was how dry my mouth was and how my lips were sticking to my teeth. Not pleasant thoughts and feelings! I passed Sue within the first mile and we actually chatted – hard to believe, I know. I expressed how seeing her so soon made me think I was heading out way too hard and would blow up early. I kept on and passed the next few riders in my field. Climbing, climbing, thankful not to have arm warmers, climbing, get to the park entrance and remember that last year I got distracted in there. It is a beautiful view and I admired it during the race last year and then realized that my 30 second person was gaining on me (she beat me by 2 seconds last year). This year I kept my focus and rode as fast as I could. I heard the words of my coach, Jen Gatz, saying “you’ve been training like a champ” and I kept pedaling. Those words only took me so far and at the last climb to the finish I had nothing left. Looking at my breakdown from last year to this year I was faster this year everywhere but slower at the end. I was on empty but it was over. As I was catching my breath at the top I saw Sue come in and I was quite proud of her. I know she had been dreading this race and she conquered the hill nonetheless. When results were posted I found I was in 2nd place – 11 seconds away from Teresa! Sue came in 4th!!!! Way to go!

This weekend had stressed me out. Actually, the past few weeks have all been brutally busy. As a teacher of an AP course, this is nearing test time where I am staying after school often to provide review sessions. That, coupled with trying to adhere to my training schedule, spend time with my son and husband, do laundry, cook, etc. has been too much. This Saturday race morning my son had a birthday party to attend, in the afternoon was my stepson’s Bar Mitzvah, and then my son also had an afternoon birthday party. If that was not enough, Chauncy (hubby) and I committed to being part of the front line crew for the 5 Boro bike tour the next day.   That meant we needed to leave at a ridiculous hour in the morning and we needed to find childcare (as our previous arrangement fell through mid-week). Everything worked out but I was tired and frazzled. Another race next weekend…….

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Teresa in 1st place, me in second and third place went home!

Somerset – May 9, 2015
Heading into race number six. I had done this race two years ago. It was my first TT ever. I wish I could say I remembered the course but I really did not. I did remember the beginning was a descent and I lost time on it two years ago thinking I needed to conserve early on. I wish I could say I did not have another female racer issue that rears its head every 29 or so days, but I did. I wish I could say it was a dry, sunny morning, but it was not. There was light rain, enough to drip off the helmet and mist up one’s glasses. The crew was back – Sue, Teresa, Julia, Karen, Tracy along with 10 others. This was the largest field yet and some strong competition, with a cat 1 racer in the mix. I had parked next to Karen and there was the discussion of attire again – base layer or no base layer? She opted out, I opted in and had no regrets. I warmed up, got to the start and took off with no holding back on that descent this time. I turned the corner and headed uphill. I saw Sue close ahead and I grinded on. Kept pushing, pushing, getting closer to Sue and saw Julia right ahead. Kept pushing, pushing, passed Sue couldn’t see Julia anymore but I was not letting up, oh except when a marshal was positioned in an odd spot and had a red flag directing me to turn into a driveway. Yes, I slowed up and questioned – a driveway? Then I realized I needed to go straight a bit more to where other marshals were and then head to the right a bit. Arg. Pushed on. The rode got hillier and it was hurting but I heard the voice of my junior coach, “mommy, when your legs hurt pedal faster.” I tried. I saw the 1k mark and wanted to come into the finish strong but there was little left in me to do so. I crossed the line and saw Teresa who informed me we were going to be neck and neck. It was a wait and see until the results were posted.

While it seemed like a long time until results, that really wasn’t the case. One of the many things that I am impressed with at these races is indeed how quickly results are posted after the event and then to USAC. While waiting I got the chance to hang with Sue, Julia, Teresa, Michael and some others. Another reason these races are so great is that there are many wonderful people who certainly want to do well but who realize that camaraderie is important which makes these events that much better. Speaking of, among various social media forms there has been some back and forth between some of us women eddy racers and I had been missing Julia in the conversation. I finally remembered to get her contact information so we could add her in the mix! There were some baked goods floating around and Sue partook in a chocolate chip cookie. She asked if you could make them without eggs. Game on. Expect vegan goodies at a future race! Results are posted – 3rd! I was behind Teresa by 12 seconds who I know is a no-joke strong rider. I was thrilled. 1st place was the cat 1 racer (Pamela Wahl) who beat the course record!

I gave this my all, got my heart rate up, exhausted myself by the end but I did not have the throw up feeling. That made me wonder, did I have more? I emailed coach Gatz and got laughed at! She tells me my lactate threshold is improving! I have to say that it is strange to be riding well. I know I’ve been working hard, but it is still odd to be the person who does well in competition. I am not used to that being me!

This was supposed to be another jam-packed weekend. There was yet another birthday party to take my son to later in the day and then I had planned on racing in a duathlon the next day. Listening to my coach and myself, for the sake of my sanity, I scrapped the duathlon and just did an easy ride on Sunday morning. One more Saturday to go before a break in the series.


Rounding the corner at Sommerset.

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Me in third, Pamela in first and Teresa in second.

Upper Freehold – May 16, 2015
Time for the seventh race in seven weeks.  The packing up the night before and the driving the morning of has become so second nature at this point.  I am, however, getting quite sick of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at 7am.  At least this time I had a good ratio of jelly to peanut butter unlike last week where I was running out of jelly. Also, this time I got to be the passenger as Michael took his brand new car on its first long distance drive. The weather forecast for this morning was sketchy and there was a decent chance that it would be wet and miserable.  We got to the race a bit later than we had been but still with plenty of time.  Did the usual bathroom visit, registering, pinning of the bib and saying hello to some people.  Then, we headed out to warm up on the road.  It was just shy of two miles to the start so we rode there and back and back again.  It was then time to line up.  It was then time to go.  No rain at this point.  I started and I started strong.  I was hurting early on and at about the 4 mile mark I had serious wonders if I really went out too hard and would tank quickly.  My heart rate was a bit higher than usual.  I passed a few riders and I felt bad because normally I try to say something encouraging to the other riders – as they all continue to impress me each week.  This time, I could not talk as I was hurting so badly! I was gaining on Sue and finally, heading up a hill, Sue passed someone and then I needed to pass.  I was very conscious of not crossing the double yellow line so I slowed up a bit and finally asked Sue to move over so I could go by.  Sue knows this course well and her riding was showing it.  She knew where to push and how to take the turns.  That being said I misinterpreted some marshals at a turn.  They were warning riders to “go up the hill” but from where they were saying it the hill that was visible was to the right.  It wasn’t until a few seconds later that it was staying to the left that was needed.  I had lost a lot of speed in my confusion and found myself at the base of a hill with little momentum.  That is when I heard Sue right behind me encouraging me to keep going.  Then, at the downhill, Sue took off and passed me again flying over a bridge.  Despite my fatigue, I continued on and passed Sue, gained on Julia and then the rain started to fall.  We were near the end so I didn’t care that much.  I saw the finish, I saw Julia just a few seconds ahead and Sue then finished a few seconds behind. Most of our crew was in at close to the same time so we hovered near the finish (definitely off the roadway!) and talked for a bit.  Sue was marveling, rightfully so, at Pamela’s great aero position while racing.  There’s always so much to learn and improve upon and it is great that we can all chat and offer advice to one another. Michael came across the finish and I headed back to the parking lot with him.  The waiting game ensued but this time there were some vegan chocolately fudgy oatmeal cookies to make it a little better.  I offered them up to some of the Riptide team, chatted with Maryanne Caruso a bit and then the results were posted.  I got 2nd place with lightning fast Pamela Wahl in 1st and Sue in 3rd!  It’s somewhat bittersweet that the next race in the series is 6 weeks away.  It will be nice to have a break, but I know I am going to be anxiously awaiting it to pick back up!


Me in 2nd, Pamela in 1st and Sue in 3rd.

Kingwood Time Trial – June 28, 2015
After a six-week hiatus, it was time to race the clock once again. This time, it was a rainy Sunday morning in Frenchtown, NJ. Michael and I headed out at an unreasonably early hour and drove through torrential downpour. We arrived early, registered, sat in the car and watched the rain a bit longer. Then, it was time for the necessary port-a-potty visit and the suiting up. We decided to warm up on the road, despite the fact that we would get wetter even quicker. The inevitable had to happen anyway. At start time for me it was just a fine mist falling from the sky – not too bad. I was feeling ready and took off fast. I tried to hold that fast motion for as long as I could and succeeded until close to the end. By mile 4.36 (yes, I looked and had a cognizant thought at that moment), I realized the mist was perhaps more than that (or perhaps just combined with the speed on the bike it seemed like more) and I could not see out of my glasses. Thankfully it was just a straight course so seeing was a luxury I could do without. I started petering out by the last mile. Then, all of a sudden, it was over. There was no 1k warning that the finish was coming which I was kind of disappointed about. At that marker I like to try to kick it up and see if I have anything left. Oh well, I am betting I had very little. This race was a point to point so it was now 10 miles back to the car. That’s when I realized how sopping wet my shoes were and how badly I wanted to get changed. The 10 miles back to the car seemed to never end and then, the kicker was a nice steep hill into the parking lot. Oh wait, no, the kicker was realizing that I was back at the car but couldn’t get changed because Michael had the car key in his jersey pocket. After about 15 minutes, Michael came rolling in, or rather rolling up and the wet clothes were able to go bye-bye. Oh wait, I forgot to bring a change of socks so those stayed on me. Bleh. Results were posted within the hour and I was happy with how I rode, averaging 22.5mph, but bummed that I missed second place by slightly less than 6 seconds.


Me in 3rd, Pamela in 1st, Alex in 2nd.

Oldmans Time Trial – July 11, 2015
This was to be the first overnighter in some time as Pedricktown, NJ is pretty far south. Michael and I decided to head out early Friday afternoon, thinking we’d avoid rush hour traffic. We might have avoided rush hour traffic but we timed sitting in traffic due to accidents quite nicely. What was supposed to take 3 hours and 15 minutes turned in to a 5-hour journey. Not fun for us, but I am sure it was even less fun for the truck that was on fire on the Long Island Expressway and those involved in the other two accidents shortly thereafter. We finally got to the hotel only for me to confirm that this was indeed the same one that I stayed in last year where my son got injured due to their negligence. The ceiling in the bathroom had crashed down on his face. I wasn’t too thrilled about giving them my business a second time. By this point, we were there and hungry. We found a pizza place that served vegan pizza, ate a good dinner and headed back to get some sleep. Morning time and the two of us knew the race start was only 7 minutes away but we still got there incredibly early. That served us well because we were able to pre-ride the course, and the port-a-potty’s were pristine at this point too. The course was flat and incredibly well marked. We had slight concerns about what could become a hopping garage sale causing some potential slow downs but otherwise, all seemed good. It was about time for me to start so I rolled to the line up. There was a large field of women in the non-TT bike category, with 14 registered. Based on my pre-race detective work, this was also the race I felt the least confident about doing well in as compared to the competition. We had some fast riders in the field. As Julia said to me a couple of days before, “just put your head down and go.” That was great advice and what I planned on doing. I guess I did it well because after the race people were saying how great it was that the race organizers put a marshal at the garage sale. It was then that I realized that I didn’t see the garage sale during the race. Nor did I know what Michael was talking about when he mentioned the stretch of the course that had a stream running next to it. I did not see the stream. I was in the zone! The course was a square, with 4 right turns. The first half was fast with perhaps some wind at our backs and only one slight rise. The second half was definitely harder. While there was not significant wind by any standards, there was some and it made it more difficult. There was also an overpass nearing the end that was such a small amount of elevation but still enough to hurt. Throughout the whole race, I kept Sue and Julia in my sights. At the 1k mark I pushed as hard as I could, made the last right turn to the end and I tried to get as close to Sue as I could. We came over the finish line within 5 seconds of one another. That effort caused my heart rate to spike to 175! I had to cool down after that so I kept riding a bit but then I realized that I might be able to stop at the car and get my phone to snap a shot of Michael coming across the finish line. Michael finished strong and now it was time to chat and wait for results. When the results were posted I was in shock to see that I had finished 3rd! I knew Kelli and Sharon would be top 2 but after that I was not so sure. I had hoped for 4th place but thought that 5th might be more realistic. 3rd place was a total bonus! Woohoo!!! Michael did well too with a 10th place finish, seconds away from 8th. The adventure was not over as we still had the trip home to deal with. At least we were able to go back to the hotel, eat our leftovers and shower before the drive back. Thankfully, the drive back was uneventful. Two races to go…..!

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Sharon in 2nd, Kelli in 1st, me in 3rd.

Blueberry Circuit Time Trial (a.k.a. NJ ITT 40KM Championship) – July 18, 2015
I was having some bad premonitions leading up to this ride. For some reason, I was fixating on potentially getting a flat. I reached out on the NJTT Cup Facebook group and asked what the rules were for fixing a flat. While it would take me forever to fix my flat and my finish time would be abysmal, at this point, I just wanted to make sure that I did not DNF and I got some points accrued toward the series cup. After much discussion, it was either I take levers, tube and CO2 cartridge with me during the race or just take my chances. I cracked up at Julia’s message to me that “my stress was taking hers to a whole new level!” Add to the flatting paranoia, there was also to be a starting ramp at this race – plus the fact that the race itself was to be 2.5 times longer than any other in the series. Michael and I headed out on Friday afternoon again and faced the same horrific traffic. We stopped for a good dinner at Loving Hut along the way and arrived at out hotel. Morning always come so soon and I struggled to eat some breakfast. It wasn’t working for me. We headed out, got to the race and registered. Sharon and Louie were parked right near registration and Louie volunteered to pin me, although Sharon had to take over! I then lucked out again by getting to be first in the port-a-potty. The good start to the day then soured. As we were about to head out for a warm up, Michael comments that my front tire is dry rotted. Seriously. Thirty minutes before race start and he knows my flatting fears for this race and he tells me my tire is dry rotted?!!!! Then, a few minutes into the warm up a bee lands on my bars and will not leave. It turns out, it was stuck.

Okay – it’s time to take my spot up on the ramp. It doesn’t intimidate me as much as I thought it would. 3-2-1-Go and all is well. They did not do the seeding as they normally do for this race so Sue and Julia started after me this time. I didn’t want to blow up so I went out hard but I watched my heart rate and tried to keep it at 160. I passed my 30 second person right away and then had my minute person in my sights the whole time. My goal was to not let up, not to blow up and make sure I bridged distance between us. At mile 12 there was a turn around and on the way back is when I saw that I was a good distance ahead of others. I felt good but didn’t ease up. At mile 16 I hit a wall. I felt miserable but kept going and I think I got a second wind again by mile 18. In the last mile I kicked it in and finished 38 seconds after my minute person crossed the line – so 22 seconds ahead of her! Average heart rate was 166. 2nd place finish! I felt surprising good after the race except for the fact that my butt bones hurt!

I baked cookies to share and thought I’d enjoy digging in to them after the race, but the lack of desire to eat was still with me. I was happy that others seemed to enjoy them though and got a taste of vegan yumminess! We headed back to the hotel to shower and pack up and by that time, hunger set in. We stopped at the amazing Pop Shop on the way home for some vegan pancakes and Michael had the vegan Philly cheese steak. One more race to go for me before vacation time!


Denise in 3rd, Sharon in 1st, me in 2nd.

Honoring Sandrino’s Sacrifice – July 25, 2015
The prospect of making a return trip to the Pop Shop was enough to convince Chauncy to come along for this last race. Since the family was coming along, we left earlier on Friday to try to avoid traffic. Chauncy, Holden, Michael and myself headed out and stopped at a great establishment called Cool Dog Café for lunch. With vegan dogs in our bellies, we headed the rest of the way to our Holiday Inn. Since we actually arrived early for once, that gave Michael time to rest and we took Holden to the pool. For dinner, we went back to the same pizza place from two weeks ago. (If you haven’t already noticed by this point, I love food). Bedtime and wake up time arrived in quick succession and before I knew it, it was go time again. Knowing that this course was so much shorter than last weeks, knowing that this course was one that I had previously ridden, and knowing that this was to be my last race of the season put me in a good mental state. The usual friendly line up banter and pre-race best wishes were shared and then it was my turn to go. I feel like I have gotten better at the starts but I unfortunately regressed here. Annoyed with my wasted second, I kicked it in and rode. I kept my head down and pushed but my positive mental state was slipping as I wasn’t feeling as strong as I had hoped to be. The field up ahead got pretty bunched up so it was hard to keep track of my 30 second and 1 minute riders. All I could do was keep my head down and push on. I knew that I gained speed and was actually doing okay. Somehow, I missed the 1k marker at the end again and when I saw the finish I gave it a final burst. Unfortunately, that was 5 seconds short of what I needed for 1st place, 2 seconds short of 2nd place, but enough to land me in 3rd place. I admit I kicked myself over the “would have’s, should haves” but I’ll take it. I wound up finishing two minutes faster than my time from last year on this same course. It was a good season that showed me hard work and dedicated training pay off. I vastly improved over last year and continued to learn a lot.

christina 16

Passing the Silos in Sandrinos.

christina 17

Sharon in 2nd, Leigh Ann in 1st, Me in 3rd with Holden

When all was said and done, I concluded this season with the 1st place position for the Women’s Non-TT Bike Category! I set out to make it happen and achieved my goal. This is a great series – the people who put them on are fantastic. The races feature a friendly, great atmosphere with quick results. Props go to all involved in putting these events on and all who volunteer their time to make them enjoyable, competitive and safe. In addition, there have been some great photographers capturing the pain along the way– Sergio, Don, Jan.

I also have to say that the support of my team was phenomenal this year. I felt the love and I felt that I was making them proud. I also love the Riptide team and Julia, Sharon, Karen, Rebecca, Tracy, Deborah, the women’s eddy field as a whole this year was so friendly and supportive of one another. My coach (Jen Gatz) is nothing short of amazing. She motivates and inspires me to push myself, to work hard, and also helps me to do so in the constraints of my schedule. Michael has been a great friend and racing companion. It’s funny how radio studio time has been replaced with time on the bikes! My hubby and son are the best and words cannot even begin to express how patient and understanding they have been.

Finally, thanks must be given to the great sponsors of Live Love Velo. I am super happy to have Long Island Coverage emblazoned on my side as I race seeing as Mari and Mike Cole are true supporters of women’s cycling and Mike is an incredibly strong cyclist himself. Darren, Brian and the Carl Hart crew have kept my bike in race ready form. Finish Line products have lubed up my bike before some of these wet races and helped clean my bike up post-race. Osmo nutrition has kept me hydrated and Coach Gatz of Jaya Sports has provided expert guidance.

Slow and Steady makes a New Racer

The following post was written by Youran Wu, who joined Live Love Velo in 2014. Youran spent a season as part of the Live Love Velo club, getting to know the other women in the organization and attending clinics and group rides. Then, encouraged by mentors who recognized her potential, Youran decided to try racing in the spring of 2015. Youran wasn’t bitten by the “racing bug” that gets many new racers. Instead, her appreciation of racing grew gradually. Sadly for us, now that Youran is feeling competent as a new racer, she is heading home to China. We all feel very lucky to have had Youran as a friend and teammate these past two years. Youran, we wish you much luck as you begin the next chapter in your life! And now, Youran’s account of her development as a new racer:

This article is meant to present my short, but honest experience in bike racing; despite being different from others, I hope my reflections will help some women who find themselves “lost” in their initial few races.

I bought my first road bike in 2013. I had been practicing Taekwondo for a few years, but I’d started to notice that my brain’s safety mechanism would shut down all motor skills when facing technical challenges; for example, I would run towards shoulder height obstacles but suddenly forget how to jump at the last millisecond. Perhaps I sensed I was getting too old for this. So, I was in the market for a new hobby that would bring me joy and for which I could develop proficiency within a few years. I picked cycling because of a particular person in my life at the time, but I continued cycling because it gives me a healthy dose of distraction from school, cognitive clarity, and competitiveness.

Somehow, I found myself on the starting line of the Woodstock Women’s Grand Prix this spring, with my teammate Melanie Chiu. It was not a cold day, but I was practically shivering, most likely from being overly nervous. My mind kept compiling algorithms to calculate how this race would end for me, but all of them were subsequently rejected because of too many variables and too little experience. As my first race, I didn’t know if I would be dropped within 5 miles, have a flat, have to walk the hills, be involved in a crash, or be exhausted before the finish line. However, I remembered reading posts from other teammates and women racers, who reported having eureka moments after suffering through their first race. “If it’s bound to happen, I hope it does before that 2-mile climb!,” I told myself when the pack was passing the neutral zone. But it never did. It didn’t come to me when I was nervously riding in the pack; it didn’t come when I had to walk the hill; it didn’t come when I saw the Tibetan monastery at the apex of the climb; it didn’t come when I was enjoying the post-ride sandwich. I certainly have a lot of good things to say about the race, mainly towards the organizers and our local host family, rather than something intrinsic to the race itself. This is not how I was supposed to feel. What is wrong with me? Maybe, maybe I am just not a racer.

I decided I should give racing a try a few more times before making any definitive conclusion.

So, a month later, I was shivering again, this time in the central park, most likely from the temperature. It was 5:45am, and I could hardly see the team name on everyone else’s jersey, but I was much more relaxed than the last time. I knew I probably wouldn’t be dropped after 5 miles, get a flat, have to walk up the Central Park hill, get disqualified, or be entirely exhausted. And none of these did happen. But neither did the eureka moment I had been longing for. I remember the hard effort chasing the attacks, while the ice-cold air ran down the back of my nasal cavity, then drop straight to the lung; I remember not being let on someone’s wheel, before I realized this is a races not a group ride. On the other hand, I also remember chatting with new friends with similar minds. However, none of these mattered too much. I clearly did not enjoy any of the pain, while it was happening or after it had happened. This does not make sense, why am I not grasping the excitement and the joy that I’ve heard so much about? Or maybe, I am really not meant to race.

After another couple of races in Central Park, I considered the possibility that I am not a racer like my teammates. Still, I kept racing because the races are making me a much more skilled rider.

Soon came the Kreb Cycle Friday Night Series, right here on Long Island. The afternoon sun and familiar faces made the race much more comforting. Out of the two races I’ve been to, the pace was more or less comparable to the Central Park races, but the attacks were less fierce, and riders were friendlier. I was able to formulate proximal tactics to the dynamics of the race, and was let on wheels by the riders behind me when I showed intention. During the second race, there was even a strategized team effort aiming for the prime. While neither the prime nor the podium was within reach for me, I had my eureka moment! It hit me like a train when I was totally not expecting. I cannot pinpoint exactly when I felt that I’d achieved a basic proficiency as a racer, but now I am confident that it’s a skill I have acquired. I am certain that I want to do more and do better. While I may not love all aspects of racing, as some of my teammates do, I certainly enjoy parts of it.

Looking back at the limited races I have done so far, it seems for people like me, racing is much less enjoyable when it is all about survival; however, it’s important to not get discouraged and quit before giving it some more attempts. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and during a race, being stronger means being more in control, which causes much less mental discomfort than merely trying to hang on. So to every new racer who felt like they do not belong in the peloton, I want to say, you will get stronger, and it will get better!

Women's Woodstock Cycling Grand Prix

Youran, left, with teammates Karen (center) and Melanie.

Hills and Thrills

Live Love Velo was excited to Head for the Hills—the Manorville Hills, that is.  First off, a huge shout-out goes to Paniagua Cycling, for hosting the first ever mountain bike race at Manorville Hills, a favorite trail among LLV racers. The 10 mile loop of constant rollers proved to be even more fun than usual, given the amped up race energy out there on the course.  Thanks to the LLVers who provided support for the race: Jane who was trail patrol, Debbie, Coach Jenny Gatz, Missy and Diana.  Live Love Velo snagged a plethora of age-group wins: Kimarie in cat 2, Merci in cat 3, and Kelly, also in cat 3.  Kyra placed 2nd in her age group. Unfortunately, our dear Kim E., in cat 1, would have been listed among the top women overall if she hadn’t kissed a tree with her collar bone. We wish you a speedy recovery Kim, really speedy– just like you ride that bike.

Manorville Kelly Kyra

Kelly and Kyra, 1st and 2nd in their age group

Manorville Kimarie wins

Kimarie wins her age group!

Manorville Kim Ely

Kim, taking off, all smiles.

Manorville Kimarie Jane

Kimarie and Jane

Manorville Robin podium

Robin podiums

Manorville Robin

Robin strong and smiling

While our MTB team enjoyed a local race, Karen was upstate, carrying the torch for the road team, and single handedly representing Live Love Velo at the Hunter Greene Summer Classic in the cat 3/4 race on Saturday. She followed that by riding the recon ride for Tour of the Catskills on Sunday.  Karen’s race reports are so much fun to read.  Her energy and enthusiasm just can’t be contained or summarized, so we’re just going to share excerpts from her posts to the team:

So… just a drop dead gorgeous day up here in Windham… HOT… sunny…. rode my pre race warm up intervals….. felt strong and READY… really, just a ridiculous mixed up field to race in… only 10 women registered… so they raced us with the men’s Cat 5…. not sure how that was going to pan out… all those 20 and 30 year old guys mixed in…. they really ramped up the pace of the race.. ;/

We take off… hit that first climb at mile 3 which is always the make or break of the race… I couldn’t quite hold onto the front group.. only about 30 feet ahead of me at the crest of the climb… couldn’t quite manage to close that gap on the descent… so tantalizingly close the whole race!! ARGHHH!!!.. I worked a rotating pace line with Paige (a pretty little 18 year old girl who graduated high school yesterday)…. we worked with a couple other guys most of the race… dropped a few of them.. picked up a couple others… about 4 of us working together the whole race…. we dropped QUITE A FEW other guys along the way… I ended up 7th place… only 5 minutes off the winner’s time  …all in all a great day… raced HARD… lots of pace line practice… made new friends… just thrilled…. ;))

Tour of the Catskills Stage 3 Road Race recon [Sunday]….

So… clipped in on pretty trashed legs after racing yesterday… 78 miles.. 6500 ft of elevation… 4 hr 33 min.. grabbed a PR on Devil’s Kitchen climb… I freakin OWN that climb!! (3 miles.. average grade 13%… 3 different sections at 24%… just RIDICULOUS!!)  Held onto the lead group the whole way… why, when it’s only “a ride” and not “a race” is there a lead group and a chase group?!?!?!?! Just hurt from head to toe (LOVE that feeling!!) … heading home tomorrow… a few days of a taper… then off to the Giro del Cielo stage race next weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Boom, there it is! Beautiful spring and awesome results, all in one weekend.

Whoa!  Live Love Velo was out in force this weekend with awesome results all around.

At Battenkill, the most grueling road race in the Northeast, Karen surpassed her personal goal, finishing in the top third of the women’s cat 4.  Kim, also a cat 4  for road racing, entered the cat 3/4 race and finished impressively in 9th place.  We’re beaming for Robin, (aka The Godmother of Cycling on Long Island) who staged a brave comeback from a year off the bike and finished the epic race despite a multitude of challenges, including mechanicals.  Special shout-outs to racers who had their sights set on Battenkill this year, but were side-lined with injuries:  Amy and Sharon, we all hope that you will recover even faster than you ride!


Representing Live Love Velo’s Mountain Bike team, Diana lined up for Mooch Madness, the first race of the 2015 H2H NJ Mountain Bike Race Series.  Her second place finish was well deserved and well fought.



Lia raced her mountain bike right here on Long Island at Stillwell Park, where Bicycle Planet held its mountain bike race to benefit the MACHO foundation, dedicated to inspiring, empowering and unifying people through the message encoded in our acronym; MY ACTIONS CAN HELP OTHERS.  Taking the win in the cat 2 field, Lia proved that she she can help others and kick ass at the same time.

11149549_10206610117350770_5817119146482018937_o Lia Macho2

For the second week in a row, Christina took first in her category at the NJ Time Trial Series, proving this working mom is all that and a batch of vegan chocolate chip cookies.


And if that all isn’t enough, Live Love Velo club members were on the road and in the woods, enjoying the warm sunshine and one another’s company while spreading the gospel of the bike.  Thanks to Deb O. for leading this weekend’s group ride!

Club MTB 2

New Benefit for LLV members in 2015

New for 2015, Live Love Velo club members may purchase training plans authored by our very own team coach, Jenny Gatz, for only $35 each.   Now, along with the many other benefits of membership, members can affordably get the guidance of an expert coach to help them reach their goals!

Meet Jenny:

Jenny G. Profile pic


Jenny has over 15 years of experience coaching multisport athletes from the novice to professional level including Long Island’s Women’s cycling race team: Live Love Velo. She received her B.Sc. in Cardiac Rehab/Exercise Science from Ithaca College in 1993, a masters in Exercise Physiology in 1999 from Adelphi University and a masters in Biology with a teaching certificate from Stony Brook University in 2004. Jenny teaches AP Biology and Science Research full time and is near completion of a Ph.D. from Stony Brook University studying the effects of aerobic exercise on neurocognition. An accomplished athlete, Jenny has recently returned to rowing and has plans for racing the single scull as well as time trialling, racing the mountain bike and cyclocross this fall with LLV. Jenny has qualified for and competed in the Boston marathon twice, is a nationally ranked triathlete with 3 Ironman finishes and enjoys trail run racing up and down mountains.

Training Plans available now are:

Base training plan

Muddy Tire (cat 2)

Muddy Tire (cat 3)

Battenkill/Woodstock plan (starts Monday 1/19)

First century plan (no start date; 12 weeks)

Something Wicked (SWE) plans x 2: team racing style and solo plans. (12 weeks)

Post season recovery and maintenance (8 weeks)

If you are interested in purchasing any of these plans, please contact us at  All profits from sales go right back to LLV to support our mission.  To become a member, head to our registration page at bikereg.



Pretty Powerful, with Stats to Prove it

The Cyclocross National Championships formally brings the 2014 bike racing season to a close. And it was quite a season for Live Love Velo riders, with 21 of us racking up a total of 187 race starts. It all started way back in early March, with new member Karen Schwartz heading to the city to try out road racing for the first time at the Grant’s Tomb criterium. One race, and Karen was hooked, going on to accrue a massive 25 race starts throughout the season. Amy and Christina also braved a super early start on a chilly Spring morning to race in a CRCA Central Park race. Showing great support for our growing local racing scene, 12 LLV riders took to the start at the Muddy Tire Mountain bike race, snagging multiple podium spots in Cats 1, 2 and 3.

Karen Schwartz
Karen making her racing debut at Grant’s Tomb
Diana 2 muddy tire
Diana racing strong at Muddy Tire


In April we started to travel farther afield, with racers contesting Tour of the Battenkill, the Quabbin Reservoir Road Race and the Singlespeed-a-palooza mountain bike race. Christina raced her first time trial for the season. This was the first of seven TTs, with 3 races resulting in podium spots. Diana and Lisa also started their campaigns in the H2H Mountain Bike series, with Diana starting off strongly with a first place in Cat 2.

Christina podium august

The road team headed upstate to ride the in the second running of the Women’s Woodstock Cycling Grand Prix. Amy crushed it on the hill to take the top podium spot. A week later we sent a strong team to the Hunter-Greene Spring Classic where, again, Amy took out a win in Cat 4. At the end of May, Kim drove a long way (to Ohio), to ride a long way (100 miles), in the NUE Series Mohican 100.

WWGP 2014


As the days grew longer, we raced in the early morning light in Central Park, and in the late afternoon at our local Kreb Circuit races in Riverhead. Mixing it in with the men in open fields, these races provide a great training ground and way to build experience and test out some tactics. Thanks to The Kreb Cycle for supporting this long running series. A team of six contested the three event Giro del Cielo stage race, with Amy performing strongly in the time trial, and Sharon pedalling strongly on a two lap solo breakaway to take out the road race stage, her first win. The H2H series continued, with Diana, Lisa, Tori and Kim all racing in New Jersey. Racing strongly, Tori also contested the Windham World Cup and went onto the MTB Nationals where, disappointingly, a mechanical took her out of contention.

Sharon Hunter NYS


Throughout the summer, we continued to race on the road, including Karen heading to the Green Mountain Stage Race in Vermont, Christina getting aero in time trials, and Jenn, Ellen and Amy contesting circuit races. Kim again drove a long way to ride a long way in the dirt, heading to Virginia for the Shenandoah 100. The H2H series wrapped up; LLV collectively having seventeen starts for six top 3 places. The final series standings saw Diana take 2nd in Cat 2 15-44, Kim 3rd in Cat 1 19-39, and Lisa equal 4th in Cat 2 40+.


Before we knew it, cyclocross season was upon us. Tori took her strong mountain bike form into Nittany Lion Cross and then Charm City, taking out 2nd, then 1st in Cat 3/4. Kim, Kyra and Ellen headed to Rapha Super Cross Gloucester and CycleSmart International, where thrills were had both racing and spectating the pros. Tori continued her top of the podium form at Whirlybird and HPCX, before moving up and putting in a strong performance in the Elite field at Swashbuckler. Ellen had her first win for the season at Sussex County CX.

Ellen Podium
Ellen on top of the podium


The final mountain bike race for the LLV season was the Something Wicked 6 Hour at Cathedral Pines. Eight LLV racers took to the line in below freezing conditions. Sinead took out the female singlespeed category, Lisa’s team in the relay took second, just in front of the LLV team of Diana and Jenny. In a first for Live Love Velo racing, Cindy steered her fatbike to a win.

Jen and Diana

An awesome LLV team: Diana and Jenny


Not quite done with racing for the year, there was still some cyclocross racing to be done. The local Cyclocross at the Asylum changed it’s format to become a 2 day event, including having a women’s field for the first time. On Day 1 there was plenty of pink and black to be seen racing hard in the pouring rain. Sunshine on Day 2 was a welcome respite but didn’t change the result, Tori powered to the top spot on both days. Kim and Jenny closed out the local cx season at the inaugural Sunken Meadow race, on a short, but twisting and turning course. And then, in the last race of the season, Ellen headed to Austin, TX, to race in the National Championships where she very impressively took 7th place in her category.

Start line rain nissa

Cyclocross at the Asylum: Women’s start


And that was the LLV racing season.


21 racers, 187 starts, 44 top 3 finishes, including 23 in 1st place.


Why Support Community Based Women’s Cycling?

Living in Suffolk, the County on Long Island that Bicycling Magazine dubbed the “Worst City for Cyclists“, our shouts to the rooftops about the massive benefits of cycling often fall on deaf ears.    Relative to other communities around the country, being a cyclist here takes a little more chutzpah and conviction.  But we have some things on our side:  The eastern half of the county is home to the Hamptons and has glorious stretches of riding with minimal development and beautiful scenery. We’ve got a handful of very well run cycling organizations and a culture among cyclists that if you’re one of us, you’re family.  The government here in Suffolk is making small, incremental changes in the direction of being more cycling friendly, having hosted it’s first Bike Summit this fall.

We may never be Boulder or Berkley, but Suffolk can make significant changes towards greener and healthier living.   How might we accelerate our transformation into a community that supports happiness, health and sustainable living for all?  As an organization that encourages and supports women in cycling, we believe that the bicycle holds a special power.  Beyond what it does for each of us on an individual basis, bicycling is key to a prosperous future for all of our communities.

As a group of women cyclists, we  make a positive contribution to our communities in many ways:

  • Women thrive in groups.  By simply by being a member of a club or organization, particularly one that is supportive and non-judgemental, women experience benefits to their mental health and physical well-being.  Belonging to a group which is dedicated to a physical endeavor such as cycling boosts the health benefits of group membership all the more.
  • We offer women knowledge, skills and support that make them stronger and more confident and ultimately, happier and more productive.  As women’s lives are enhanced, so are the lives of those around them, from their children and spouses, to friends, neighbors and the larger community.
  • As an inclusive organization, we bring women from diverse backgrounds together, which strengthens our community.  We share our love of cycling with other women and girls, expanding the radius of benefit beyond our members.
  • Women who belong to our organization are positive role models.  We demonstrate to others what can be accomplished with commitment and teamwork.  We show others that it’s healthy to take time to care for yourself and enjoy life.
  • We cycle for fun, for health and for the environment.  When we’re not training for competition or riding for fun, we often use our bikes to commute or simply get around.  We support cycling as a viable and sustainable means of transportation.
  • As devoted cyclists, we are motivated to advocate for development that will support pedestrians and cyclists in our community.
  • We see cycling as a key to the wealth, health and sustainability of our society.  By making cycling more accessible to women, we are part of a movement which will bring about improved quality of life, far and wide.

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Therein Lies the Love

by Jenn Solomon

Let me tell you about the power of cycling sisterhood.   It’s greater than I ever realized. It’s more than a comfortable niche of friends, group of ride partners or likeminded souls. A cycling sisterhood is greater than the sum of its parts.

 I started road riding about 8 years ago. The years add up quickly. Doesn’t feel to me like it could possibly be. I can remember when I started, absorbing every morsel of advice that other riders offered. Somewhere along the line I morphed into a proficient rider. Now, I’m able to help new riders on their journeys to becoming confident riders. At least on the road…

 Last year, inspired by the perpetually happy faces among the mountain biking set of Live Love Velo, I thought I’d give mountain biking a try. My first experience in the woods was a spur-of-the-moment ride with my friend Darren, who lent me a mountain bike while my road bike was at his shop for repairs.   I gleefully followed him through the woods even though I had no clue how to handle the bike or navigate any of the obstacles. I fell right over on a few of the steeper pitches and walked most of the descents, but I finished the ride with a smile from ear to ear. With visions of joining the mountain biking community and blissfully riding through the woods, I bought myself a mountain bike.

New mountain bike in tow, I ambitiously headed back to the trail I had ridden with Darren. No more than 15 minutes in, on a completely non-technical blip, I somehow flipped the bike and landed hard on my ass. Writhing in pain, shocked and defeated, I eventually managed to get myself to my car and then home. It took a month or so to heal physically from what must have been no more than a deep bruise, but my spirit had been injured far more severely.

 The pretty mountain bike sat, unused. I got back out on the road but only once in a great while found the courage to head out on the mountain bike. I rode by myself, going so slowly that any pre-schooler on a tricycle could have easily whizzed by.   My first attempt at a group ride was a complete bust. I showed up and got dropped within the first minute. Disheartened and scared, I turned around, loaded the mountain bike back in the car, went home and took my road bike out instead.

Finally, a few of the Live Love Velo mountain bike ladies took me into the woods and gave me some pointers. They stayed with me at my pace, and even encouraged me to stop and walk any sections that made me nervous.   They shared stories of how they got started and reassured me that I WOULD learn how to ride the mountain bike with confidence.

 I kept faith that my skills would develop. One at a time, I tried a slight downhill, then passing through closely spaced trees, then a few moguls. I fell a bunch more times, but thankfully, incurred no more than a few bumps and scratches.   I was still plenty nervous, but I had so many role models who all impressed upon me that this was completely do-able.   I trusted them.

 Then one day, superstar Kim, who had recently completed a bunch 100 mile mountain bike races, offered to lead a LLV mountain bike ride, suitable for all levels. I figured I’d give it a go. It was the same trail that I had abandoned on my first group ride attempt, some months ago.   I got past the initial stretches and then Kim turned on to a black diamond trail. “You can do it,” she informed me.

 She kept us looping around onto one black diamond trail after another. I was frustrated. I grumped to myself, “She said ‘all levels’”.   I worried that I was slowing the group down when I stopped to walk the tough sections. My friends pointed out that while I walked some parts, I was managed quite well on other technical parts. At a point where several trails crossed and we had to choose the easier main trail or another black diamond, the group hesitated. Someone asked which way we should go. I wanted the main trail. Another woman read the expression on my face and said, “I don’t think Jenn wants to do another black diamond.” In her soft but sturdy tone Kim replied, “Of course Jenn wants to do another black diamond.” Part of me hated Kim in that moment.   Another part of me was grateful for the tough love.

Fast forward a few months: I’m still slow, but feeling like I’ve got the basics. I signed on for the Triple Crown, an all day event, which covers 3 of our local trails. I knew it was a stretch for me, but at this point, I’m down with the idea that it’s going to take reaching beyond my comfort zone to keep growing.

At Glacier Ridge, the first trail of the day (that same trail where Kim made me do all the black diamonds), I waited until more than half of the riders had entered the trail and then I followed one of the LLV riders in. But I felt pressured with so many riders behind me and chose to stop and let them pass, rather than ride faster than felt safe to me. I was last in the train of over 100 riders, and I still managed to lose sight of every single rider in front of me. When I came upon a junction, I chose to stay on the main trail, rather than do the diamonds by myself. Better safe than sorry, I figured.

 Just as I started to feel a little more at ease, the trail circled around back to the parking lot, which was completely empty of riders. I had only 4 miles on my bike computer. Hmmm. Okay. The main trail was shorter than I’d realized. I knew that the full trail, including the diamonds, was at least twice that long, so I figured I would ride the main loop again, on my own.

When I finished, I headed (by car) to the next trail, Rocky Point, and waited for the group to reconvene. I started the second trail with Diana, another super skilled LLV rider. The first stretches of trail were mostly flat, but somewhat twisty. I tried to stay with Diana, but the turns slowed me down.

 When I came to the more technical sections at Rocky Point, I was with a handful of riders who were slow like me. All but one of them chose to forego a particular diamond section because of a steep drop off on that part of the trail. I had done that drop off for the first time just a few days earlier with my LLV girls:

Deb had stopped up ahead to cheer me on, “You can do it, Jenn!”

“Scoot your butt back,” advised Jane as she plunged down, ahead of me.

I scooted my butt behind the seat, over the rear wheel and went for it. Trust the bike…this is what it’s made to do, I thought. Adrenaline rush…whoosh…I landed, upright, and went right on to the next hill. Wooooooot woooooot! Okay, that was actually FUN!

This time, the guy ahead of me stopped just before the drop-off, forcing me to a standstill. He walked his bike around, and as I stood there contemplating whether to give it a go from a stand still or back up and get some momentum, he remounted his bike and was off. Alone, my nerves got the best of me, and I followed his lead, walking down, around the drop.   Moments later, I made a wrong turn which led me right back to the loop with the drop. Meant to be, I told myself. I was meant to do the drop again, so that I could own it.   And, boom, there it was. Mine for the taking. Butt back, let it go….aced!

 I finished up Rocky Point, making a few new friends along the way, and then headed to the final trail, Cathedral Pines. I found Kim in the parking lot, but I figured she’d be intent on a strong finish and that I’d find some slower folks again. “Let’s ride,” she said, signaling that we head together into the woods. So, I started with Kim, but accepted that I would soon watch her ride away from me and finish up the day solo.

But Kim, endlessly gracious, was perfectly content to ride with me. She continued to offer her coaching at all the technical spots and made me feel like it was my victory lap, or at least my graduation procession. I still wouldn’t consider myself a proficient mountain biker and I’ve got a ways to go before I’ll be the one teaching a newbie the technical stuff, but I’m not a complete novice anymore. I’m proud to have achieved “advanced beginner” status. Give me a few months and I’ll rank solidly among the intermediates!

As I reflect on these past few months, it seems like my learning curve on the mountain bike is a metaphor my life as a parent; The abiding chaos of raising four kids, with extra challenges tossed in–some that can be anticipated and others that can’t. The anxiety that I won’t be able to do it and the revelation that I can get past the bumps, the moguls and even the big ups and downs.   And it all whizzes by, but when you pause to appreciate the surrounding beauty, it astounds you.

My LLV sisters get it, from the basic mechanics of riding, to the effects it has on our bodies and our souls. Riding is like a guidebook for managing life outside of the woods. It’s therapy for every one of us, but it enhances each of us in our own way. So, beyond having the company, the pointers and advice, it adds up to a true sisterhood which graces us with support, gives us space mend and grow. It strengthens us and elevates us. And therein lies the love.

 Thank you, my Live Love Velo sisters. Thank you to Jane, Kimarie, Deb, Diana, Lisa, Kyra, Tori and Kim, for teaching me and helping me to get here on my mountain bike.

triple crown

Left to right: Kimarie, the author and Kim

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