Out of My Comfort Zone

13 02 2013

Over the weekend, I crossed something off of my bucket list- something I didn’t even know was on it!


I rode a motorcycle!

A few months ago, Bill decided to purchase a motorcycle. He got a really great deal on a custom bike, and it’s currently being designed to his specifications by Fig’s Cheap Choppers and Pinstriping over in Ormond Beach.

I’m not a huge motorcycle fan- the statistics about motorcycle fatalities scare me. So I wasn’t super thrilled when Bill told me he was getting a motorcycle, but I know that he loves biking and it would make him happy to feel the freedom of the road.


Prior to getting a motorcycle license though, the DMV requires that you take a motorcycle safety course. So, after Bill had put the down payment on his bike, he asked if I’d be willing to step out of my comfort zone and take the course with him. Ummmm…I was not excited about it, but I agreed, knowing that I would learn a lot and we would spend the weekend experiencing something new together. I guess I’m 2 for 2 on my resolution to experience something new every month! I was however, pretty nervous about the whole thing because I had never been on a motocycle, let alone a motorized bicycle.


The course we signed up for was the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s RiderCourse™. It was a two day course, scheduled from 7:30am-4:00pm on Saturday and Sunday (so much for a relaxing weekend!). We spent about 5 hours or so doing classroom work, and the rest of the time was on the “range” aka a large, empty parking lot.


On Saturday, we met our instructors and started going through the RiderCourse™ book and watching the associated videos. One of the things I really appreciated about the course and the instructors was that it was all very laid back and comfortable. I was worried that I’d be surrounded by lots of experienced riders who would make me feel stupid about my lack of experience, but that was not the case at all. The class had a variety of levels of experience, and there were a few other newbies like me.


After lunch, it was time to ride!


We got all geared up- long pants, long sleeves, boots covering your ankles, gloves and a helmet were all required.


Day 1 for me was not all puppies and rainbows. I had never driven a vehicle with a clutch, and I just couldn’t seem to figure it out! I found myself chanting in my head, “Clutch, shift, gas” to help me remember what I needed to do. I stalled out so. many. times!

I didn’t realize how finicky the clutch was, so when we were doing exercises in first gear and I came to a stop, my left hand would frequently loosen up, which would engage the clutch and stall the bike. Frustrating! I also realized that some of my habits from bicycling were carrying over to the motorcycle- for example, I always unclip my right shoe first when I’m coming to a stop on the bike. The problem with this is that on the motorcycle, the right foot pedal is a brake- so if I move my foot off before pushing down on it, I’m in big trouble! Thankfully, 70% of the braking power comes from the right hand brake, but still, it was something I had to be very aware of.

By the end of the day, I was finally starting to get the hang of it, and when it finally started to click, the course got to be more fun.


Day 2 started out with bike time, followed by our road test, and then we finished up the classroom work and took the written test. I was happy to get on the bike again, to redeem myself from yesterday’s embarrassing number of stall outs. And y’know what? Day two was so much better! I weaned myself off of my chant, and was comfortable switching to and riding in 2nd and 3rd gears! Hooray! Right before lunch, we took the road test, which was comprised of many of the exercises we had practiced previously. I am happy to announce that I passed!

We returned to the classroom for the final part of the book work and to take the written test. We flew through the material and then we took the 50 multiple choice item test. The instructor handed back my test and I learned I had passed! Yahoo!


My final thoughts about the course: I currently work in assessment and I’ve delivered my share of professional development. So, throughout the course I was constantly distracted by my own thoughts of – “oh, this would have worked much better if it was presented in xyz way” or “this is not what I call student-centered learning…” and “I can not believe this is a question on the test! It is terribly written!!” I could have spent a good amount of time fixing that test…But those are my own issues 😉

The curriculum was scripted, so the instructors did a lot of reading the instructions verbatim, which was kind of annoying, but I guess it helps keep it standardized. I feel like it covered the basics, but unfortunately, I do not feel like I am adequately prepared to go out and ride on the street with other cars. I’m sure the class met its objectives to give us the fundamentals, but it is a little worrisome that I could technically go out and be a licensed motorcycle driver. I guess they expect you to go out and practice on your own?

It was fun to do something new and experience it with Bill. I don’t think this is something I would have sought out on my own, but I am glad that I can check it off the list of things I’ve done in my lifetime.

Regardless, I don’t plan on going out and getting a motorcycle anytime soon, nor do I plan to drive Bill’s. I’ll stick to my little Snowball, powered by my own little legs and pumping heart. 🙂

Question of the day: Have you ever ridden a motorcycle? What’s the last thing you did that was outside of your comfort zone? 

Krank it Up!

18 01 2013

The other day I was driving down Manhattan Ave. in south Tampa and I saw a sign for Urban Body Fusion. The “O” was a bike crank, and when I looked a little closer at the store front, I saw a sign that said “cycling studio.” I love me a good spin class, so I decided to check it out next time the weather was not so great.


Thursdays are typically swim night for Team XP, but with temperatures expected to drop into the 50s and half the team having prior obligations, swimming was not in the cards for me last night. So I did a quick Google search for Urban Body Fitness to see if they had a class I could go to, and sure enough there was one at 6:30. It was called Krankfusion®, and I purchased my spot online (love when places do this). Bonus points for the stuido: first time riders pay only $5 for a drop in, instead of the regular $15 drop in fee. I glanced at the class description, but didn’t really pay too much attention to it, since I had to quickly change and hit the road.

I got there a little early because I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and I was greeted with a smiling face. Dana Urban, the owner and the evening’s instructor welcomed me to her place and told me what her studio was all about.


Her studio is is not your typical spin studio. All of her classes include kranking on a krankcycle. Basically, a krankcycle is the upper body version of a bicycle. Instead of spinning the gears with your legs, you spin with your arms.


Tonight’s class was Krankfusion, an hour long class where half the time is spent on the spin bike, and the other half is spent on the krankcycle- a great way for newbies like me to ease into the whole kranking thing! I chatted with Dana for a few more minutes before a few other class members arrived.

The class was small, only 6 of us including the instructor, which was totally fine with me because Dana took the time to explain how to set up the krankcycle, and what kinds of movements we would be doing. However, I’m sure if the class was full, Dana would have taken just as much time to ensure I was comfortable. This business is her pride and joy-it was her 40th birthday present to herself to open up the studio! And she is 10,000% invested in it and it is so very clear!


Loved this mirror on the wall!

When we were all set up, Dana dimmed the lights, turned up the music, and we got started on the spin portion of our workout. I’m a big fan of spinning-I love riding to loud, upbeat dance music. I’m a big believer that the music makes or breaks a spin class. Dana played a good variety of music which kept me happy, especially when we put on the heavy gears. My only problem was that it was a little hard to hear her when she told us to add some resistance, but that’s pretty typical in a spin class.

About 25 minutes into the workout, it was time to switch to the krankcycle. It has a resistance knob, just like a spin bike, so I found my “sweet spot” and followed along as we did various movements- opposite arms (like your legs are on a bike), both arms spinning at the same time, one arm at a time, spinning away from my body, spinning towards my body, standing up, sitting down, and one leg back. The whole time you are engaging your core, and halfway through the first song, my arms and abs were feeling it!

It was a little challenging to get into the rhythm of the kranking, especially when I was doing “splits” (arms at 180°). But I had a great time and I definitely worked my arms in a way I hadn’t in a very long time. We finished up with some more core work and some stretching before saying goodbye.

I really enjoyed the class, and would definitely return. Everything was clean, the bikes were well maintained, and I loved the vibe of the studio. I thought Dana was a great instructor, and she clearly cares about her clients. If you’re interested in checking it out, she’s got a great deal going on until Saturday: a 5 class package, normally $60 is 50% off for newbies! Sign me up!


And yes, that is her pink spin bike. She actually won it at a spinning conference! Bonus points for a pink bike and that Dana is motivated enough to get some professional development!

Question of the day: Have you ever been Kranking?

You’ve Got to Go Fast to Get Fast

8 10 2012

First of all, I need to give a huge shout out to Mary, who PR’ed by two minutes at the Chicago Marathon this weekend! Congrats girl!

Mary’s been tapering for the past few weeks, which means I haven’t seen much of her at the pool or on the bike. Last weekend,  while she was resting and focusing for her race, a few Team XPers headed over to Alafia to get in some cycling.

Alafia is about 45 minutes or so away from my place in South Tampa. There’s actually a state park there which has (so I’m told) some of the best mountain biking trails in the area. However, we weren’t headed for those trails; instead, we ride on the quiet(ish) country roads nearby, surrounded by lots of farm land, orange groves, cattle, and these cute little goats that I had to stop to take a picture of 🙂

I’ve ridden with Felipe and Jess a few times at Alafia, so I’m starting to know our route. Last Saturday, Felipe had us ride out almost 16 miles at a comfortable pace. Then we’d stop, refuel and time trial the way back. By “time trial”, I basically mean we’d stagger our start times for the ride back, each person leaving a little after the person in front of them. The intention is to ride fast, almost as if you are racing. Generally speaking, a “time trial” start has everyone leaving an equal amount of time after the person in front of them. But, Felipe staggered us in such a way that our ride back would make us work hard to catch the person in front of us while valiantly trying not to get caught.

And work hard I did!
Here’s my splits:


We actually didn’t go the whole 16 miles back to the car as part of the time trial, we stopped and took the last three miles easy, if you couldn’t tell by the splits. And yes, mile 11 was uphill, a whopping 38 feet gain in elevation. 🙂

I went out to Alafia again this weekend with Felipe, Jess, and Chris, another XP teammate. I knew I was the weakest cyclist of the group, so I was going to need to work hard to stay with them.

We went a slightly different route this time, following Felipe’s lead. This route was sort of like a flag; we went straight for a little, made a right, went a few miles, made a left, went a few miles, made a left, went a few miles, and made one last left, to get back on the original straight.  We rode in a pace line: Felipe, Chris, Jess, then me. It’s fun but also a little nerve wracking, being pulled by strong cyclists!

Felipe had told Jess and I that if we get dropped, he wanted us to work together to get to our stopping point (the 2nd left of our flag). He wanted us to get there as fast as we could. Yes, coach!

Jess and I stayed with Felipe and Chris for a little while, mostly for the warm up and then the bottom of the “flag.” When we made the first left, Jess and I tried to stick with the boys but they were just too fast. No longer benefiting from the draft of the boys, we decided to take turns pulling each other, in 3 minute intervals.

Wanting to (literally) pull my weight as a cyclist, I worked really hard to maintain 19-20 mph. At our stopping point, around mile 17 I think, I was exhausted. That was HARD!

We took miles 17-22 pretty easy because we had some more fast riding coming up. At 22, we stopped for some instructions. We were going to time trial back, but only for 15 minutes. Felipe said something along the lines of “If you don’t feel like you’re going to puke at the end of 15 minutes, you didn’t go hard enough.” I was already pooped from the 3 minute intervals Jess and I had done. Now, I had to go fast again??

I dug deep and hit the road.

You can see that I got about 5 miles in the 15 minutes. My lungs and chest were burning after that! PHEW!

Thankfully, we took the remainder of the ride easy, but it was one of those workouts where you know that you’re better (athletically) because of it. On the ride back, Jess mentioned an article she had read by some famous run coach. Someone asked him how to get fast and he said, “Run fast!” I think the same goes for cycling and swimming too. You have to train your body to know what going fast feels like. If you practice speed, the speed will come! I’m looking forward to getting in more of these cycling workouts. Tri season 2013, watch out!

Side note: It’s pretty ironic that I opened up this post congratulating Mary, who, for this marathon training cycle, opted not to do any speed work. It clearly worked well for her, but remember every body is different and every race is different. 🙂