Vanderkitten Discount

If you want to try out some seriously comfortable cycling bibs, shorts, jerseys, wind vests, and jackets, head over to

And use this code for 20% off:  LNKWomenKitUp


You won’t be disappointed!

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Bike Maintenance Clinics

One of our LBS held three bike maintenance clinics for women over the past few weeks, and I gleefully turned in my request to attend early enough–so I got to go.

The first night was all about learning how to change out a tube, repair a tube, and wash and relube a bike.  I knew the first, had done the second years ago, but never really the last one.  I used to always keep my Bianchi spotless, wiping it down after every single ride (people thought I was nuts)–back in the early 1980s.  My first *real* bike.  The first bike I rode on purpose, by choice.  And I rode it everywhere, but it was always spotless without 20 minutes of my return.

I’m not quite as diligent with my bikes now.  I will be from now on.

Janna was awesome teaching us every step along the way. But it wasn’t just about flats, tubes, and cleaning. We learned the anatomy of a bike, how and why things worked the way they did, and some gals changed tires and patched tubes for the first time in their life. It was empowering to see them (you might remember how I stopped during a training ride last year to help two dudes change out a tube–it was old hat, but I wanted to see how to clean a bike inside in the winter!).

Janna (in the back) finishing touch-ups on cleaning the bike. Foreground is the flat tire gal--she had a really tough time getting the tire off the rim. Typical.

Janna (in the back) finishing touch-ups on cleaning the bike. Foreground is the flat tire gal–she had a really tough time getting the tire off the rim. Typical.

Sorry about the photo quality there. The first clinic was very helpful. We were all supposed to bring our bikes if we wanted. Wish I had–it was filthy!

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Janna showing us caliper brakes

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Janna is preparing to remove my brake pads

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Janna is lining up my brakes properly. She did one side, I did the other–and she did have to readjust my side a little. . .

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We had to pull the cable to adjust the hand brake tension–so that they were even pulls.

The second clinic was all about brakes and brake maintenance. This time I brought my bike and we put it up on the stand to check the brakes. Guess what? My Trek FX 7.6WSD needed new brake pads in the front–so Janna and I replaced them. It’s tough lining them up–but that’s why I needed new ones. They were lined up poorly (after my wreck, no doubt), that they had ridges. Not good. I must check the rear brakes before snow melt!

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Here Janna is helping us learn how to tighten the cable for proper tension.

Needless to say, not only did I learn a lot, I got lots of hands-on practice by learning how to do it on my own with one of my own bikes!The third clinic highlighted gearing maintenance (drivetrain) and alignment and adjustment (my phone was dead so I have no photographs). Again, we learned all about bike anatomy first (complete with an oral quiz from week 1’s lesson!) before moving on to the drivetrain. We learned about how it works, thus why the adjustments need to be made as they do. VERY informative. I did not bring my bikes that time because I had to give a program immediately following, but two people there had exact replicas of my bikes (Pilot 2.1 and FX 7.6). We learned about how to adjust the derailleurs (front and back), to check for wear and tear, to measure chains, where to adjust, learned about cabling, and much more.

For each lesson, we received handouts with bike parts labeled (anatomy). The handouts showed different types of brakes, pedals, brake pads, gearing, shifters, whatever we were learning that week.

After all three classes, I feel so empowered to mess around with the various adjustments, knowing that I cannot break anything–nor ruin my bike by under or over adjusting something. Each clinic was about two hours long and provided an excellent opportunity for interaction, questions, and testing out various adjustments/configurations. We even learned how to rechain the front ring when a chain slips off the outside–without stopping!

Sure, I could have watched videos online about how to do it, or read books, but honestly, it’s far more empowering to interact with an expert, ask questions, feel the tension of cables and screws, test brakes and shifting, and “feel” as well as hear, see, and interact. That’s how I learn best. I plan to get a nice ParkTool stand for my bike maintenance and get to work getting my bikes in tip-top shape for the Spring Season!

How much were the clinics, you ask?  They were hosted by Pam, a Liv Ambassador–so they were FREE!


Shhhhh.  Don’t tell my husband, but now I also really want a fat bike!  Here’s why:

Great post about riding in Nebraska

I’m going on the Frosty Bike Ride in a week and they’re giving away a Pugsly Fat Bike.  I REALLY want to win it.  If not, well, I’ll just have to keep this desire suppressed!

My friend Jamie really needs to sell me her Surly Ice Cream Truck!



Tough Week

I will start with the positive.

Yesterday hubby and I had an AWESOME time on a 16+ mile in-town on-the-trails bike ride.  With temps nearing 50F in late January, we were not alone in taking advantage of the relatively clear trails–lots of people out there on bikes!  I put the mud guard and rear fender on my trail bike, donned my new Pearl Izumi men’s winter riding tights (women’s are made two sizes too small, men’s fit me well), my new Pearl Izumi mountain cycling shoe covers, and my Vanderkitten jersey, arm warmers, and wind vest.  I had full gloves and ear warmers and stayed warm in the cool air.  We splashed through puddles that seemed to go on forever, and were at least 1-2″ deep–it was AWESOME!  I felt like a kid again!

My feet didn’t get cold nor did anything else.  Not to mention, that Vanderkitten gear is just SO comfy!

I hardly remembered my nearly 3 mile run this morning, nor was I tired from my swim the day before.  While I haven’t had as many miles in this past week in any sport (a mere 1400 yards swimming, 6 miles walking, 3 miles running, 46.6 cycling–mostly indoor), but I have put in plenty of time at work.

I love my students.  I love some of my colleagues.  I particularly love taking my dog with me to work and classes (actually, I think the students love it more).  Dulce was chosen as Miss May in the inaugural “Dogs of NWU” Calendar this year by the students, and has “taught” at my college for more than seven years.  I figure that’s long enough for her to earn her “Dogtorate in Human Studies” this May.  In the meantime, I’m getting a t-shirt for her to wear that reads “Director of Student Retention”.

NWU Unofficial Mascot

NWU Retention Specialist

So, you might ask, what’s the title all about?

I am in charge of a committee where we do things that matter, and we make decisions that matter.  Every. Single. One.  As in life, that means that both good and not good things result from our decisions.  And this week included more of the latter.  And that’s heart-wrenching and stressful.

Furthermore, I just found out one of my Tri buddies was just diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. Anything with the word “acute” next to “leukemia” is not good. Doesn’t matter what the middle word means.  She is my age and stage of Tri–she is a bit ahead of me, having signed up for a few HIMs already.  Her training not only screeched to a halt, but she was immediately admitted to the hospital and is already undergoing chemo–and will likely remain in the hospital for another month.  Egads.  Her kid just graduated.  Her husband must feel so alone and helpless (not being able to help her, I mean).  And my friend?  She said she’s wavering between feeling shell-shocked and overwhelmed with tears.  I cannot even imagine.

Last year I dedicated my season to my friend Ann Massmann, who died of ovarian cancer. . . As it turned out, Coach Dave’s wife (who podiumed internationally in Aquathlon, China a few years ago) spent the better part of last year fighting (and beating) ovarian cancer.

This year I dedicate my triathlon season to Colleen.  Love you, sweet heart.  You will be my motivation when I feel tired, when I want to quit, when it seems to hard, or when I don’t have the willpower.  I will carry you with me on every training ride, swim, and run.  I will carry you with me during every single event and your fight will give me courage and strength.  Because we can do this, I know we can!

Please, if you’re reading this–please send my friend courage, strength, and healing.  Keep Colleen in your prayers.

Project Semicolon: New Hope Virtual 5k

My first “official” race is in the books, the New Hope Virtual 5k, to benefit Project Semicolon (FYI: I think I’m going green with my links this year–holler if you don’t like it). 

There is still time to Register (click the word), by the way!  Today is the last day (January 16).

Running is still hard for me. It will always be hard. Perhaps thanks to Garmin 920xt’s new metrics for the HRM, though, I may have a handle on why my right hip, then knee, started giving me trouble during the Half Marathon. I am quite unbalanced when I run.


I apparently spend less time on my right foot than my left foot when I run. I wonder why that is.

Maybe. . . . I am like most people, one of my legs is slightly longer than the other, but I’m not sure this is the issue. I look forward to running with Ann (local running coach) for some feedback, or perhaps I need to go see a “real” trainer for a diagnostic. At least I try, right?

My “race” was slow, but this is my build phase for my upcoming “A” race–I should have stayed in HRZone 1 and 2, but I was mostly in HRZ 3. I probably need to readjust my RHR though, to more accurately reflect my body’s changes from training last October to now after a frighteningly more sedentary December/January (thanks to company!).  Furthermore, I really need to take my inhaler.

Hubby did some demo on the walls downstairs when the basement toilet started ejecting water from the top of the reservoir tank, and it flooded part of the basement. Walls? Sopping wet two feet up. He tore them out and saw that apparently, this had happened to a previous owner! But they did not replace the frame–which had mold. Hubby hasn’t torn those out yet, so I believe I’m having issues with the now exposed mold in the basement. This is precisely why we had to tear out the carpeting last year (and still don’t have any), put in drain tile and sump pump, stabilized the walls, and now cannot afford to finish the basement (mama deserved that new bike, dammit–tired of waiting–houses are money pits). In the meantime, I must remember to take that inhaler before working out downstairs.

While I have been busy with company, getting our taxes ready for the accountant, and preparing classes (a never-ending chore), nevertheless, I have accomplished some things toward my fitness goals so far this year:

Swim:  3.92 miles
Bike:  45.71 miles
Run:  11.24 miles

December 2015’s totals weren’t terrible, for as busy as I can get at semester’s end with two sets of company one day apart!

Swim:  11.31 miles
Bike:  67.55 miles
Run:  8.2 (pathetic showing, actually)

OMG!  How funny is that?  Just three years ago, I never would have imagined that I would swim farther in a month than run!  Bah ha ha!  Guess who hates running?

And there you have my priority this year–running.

Just like the past two years where I made swimming my priority because I liked it the least, now running will be my priority because I like it the least. You saw the improvement that I made last year in swimming–because I put a lot of effort into being better.  Time in the pool.

This year? Time in my running shoes.

And the bike shoes–always with the bike shoes.

Great News!

Gildan Esprit de SHE has chosen me as a race ambassador!


Why is this great news?

Because now I can share a $5 off code with everyone!  Share it widely!

Gildan Esprit de SHE Race Discount CODE:  GEDS16AMB037

What races do they host?  Here’s a list!  I hope to be doing the Naperville Triathlon June 12 or the Maple Grove 5k/Fitness Jam on August 4.  JOIN ME!

2016 — Gildan Esprit de SHE Race Schedule
[colored text are links to the race pages]

Woodlands 5K/10K (TX) | April 21
Tempe 5K/Du/Tri (AZ) | May 8
Cary 5K/10K (NC) | May 12
Lakeville Du/Tri (MN) | May 22
Naperville Tri (IL) | June 12
Chicago 5K/10K (IL) | July 21
Maple Grove 5K/Fitness Jam (MN) | August 4
San Diego Du/Tri (CA) | October 16
Atlanta 5K/10K (GA) | November 3