Why I Loved Riding The Roubiax Specialized Road Bike

Recently my favorite local bike shop, Café Velo, hosted a demo ride day with Specialized Bikes.

First, if you are in Colorado Springs, you should stop by Café Velo. It’s a coffee shop and bike shop all in one! I mean really. Who doesn’t like sitting around really cool bikes while sipping a little java and watching a cycling race on TV. I love it. Plus, this shop is very triathlete friendly which is a huge plus in my book.

Back to the demo ride with Specialized.

When I’m not traveling and have the time, I typically go for a group ride with LifeTime Fitness Cycling Club. This particular Saturday we all demo’d Specialized Bikes… Hosted by Café Velo.

I had reserved a bike before I had arrived. Not knowing what I really wanted to ride I ended up on a Specialized Roubaix Expert with Ultegra Di2 shifters.

 Oh man… was it ever smooth, tight and light!

Now… I’ve ridden a couple of specialized bikes in the past and loved it. But this was amazing. In fact, everyone riding that day had different Specialized bikes and everyone loved to experience. I was secretly coveting the Venge series bike. I have a feeling if Batman was into cycling, he’d have this bike.

The Roubiax for me was a welcome change for me to ride. Before we started, I stood with the bike and kept lifting the handle-bars so the front end of the bike would come off the ground. I kept saying to my friends around me… “This bike is so light! Is yours? I mean really! Look at how light this thing is!”  It’s hard to believe something that weighs so little will carry a person for hundreds of miles over time with very little problems.

As I left the parking lot, I took a little time to get used to the Shimano Ultegra Di2 shifters… electronic shifters.  I had seen them before but had never used them. To say I was slightly spoiled would be an understatement. Shifting was perfectly smooth and it all happened with the touch of a button. Four buttons to be exact. They are in the same positions as regular shifters and do the very same thing… but with ease. One of the highlights was knowing the shifters would trim out into smoothness when going from the big chain ring to small chain ring and vice versa.

I think the biggest thing to get used to when shifting was not hearing the gears shift. The electronic component on the crank makes a small electrical sound but it sounds really cool.

As I road, I could feel how light the bike was and the cassette on the back wheel was just what I needed to get up a category 3 climb with relative ease. At 6,500 feet in altitude…. I need all the ease I can get!

Because this bike felt so light and tight, there were times when the second I would pedal harder, I felt like the bike was going to run out from under me. Again… I was amazed and could tell… this awesome bike I’m sitting on has a lot more going on than meets the eye.

I’ve been looking at getting a new road bike for a while. When I moved to Colorado Springs all I had and still have is a Cervelo P2 Triathlon bike, which I have always loved. Colorado Springs has these long hills and riding in Colorado is not tri bike friendly like it was in Nashville. Plus… my brother-in-law, Biju Thomas, has been bugging me for a while now to get a road bike and only use the TT bike for races.

I agree and I’m pretty sure that when the time comes, it’s going to be Specialized.

For you cyclists and triathletes reading this, what road bike are you riding and why? 

Changing Your Mindset To Overcome The Mental Struggle Of Exercise

One of the hardest cycles to break out of is just getting into the gym or putting on those running shoes… and that first stride taken in the run.

It’s a horrible mental struggle because the mind says the body doesn’t want to do it and yet it’s the body needs to do it and needs your mind to kick it’s butt out the door.

When we are not healthy, we are more prone to laziness and not being motivated to exercise. And not just exercise, but when we aren’t healthy we are more prone to having no motivation to do well in life… relationships and work can suffer as well.

In essence, our whole mindset needs to change.

I know that when I’m in a more healthy place and I’m exercising, not only do I have more energy to do what I want and need to do, but my attitude is better, my outlook on life is more up beat and my mind is more focused and sharp

When I change my mindset… I’m better.

The benefits to a healthy life are greater than the negatives… are there negatives to a healthy life? I doubt it. Let me know if you have found any.

Let’s talk about another mental struggle of exercise.

When I’m faced with some long miles in my running shoes or on my bike… or a tough work out in the pool, there are days where I just don’t want to get through it. Immediately my mind says “Your body can’t do this. Your body doesn’t want to do this.” And that’s where the lie sits. While the mind is extremely powerful, it can also be a weak motivator. The mental struggle can only be fought in your head. Confusing right?

I had an old friend tell me one time. You need to run at least one marathon so you can get through the mental challenge of the race. The first 20 miles is the warm to the last 6 miles, which is really where the marathon begins.

What he meant was this. By the time you get to the race, your body can run the marathon. You have trained for it and you can do it. But most people hit a wall around mile 18 or 20 and they think they physically cannot finish the race. What you have to realize is your body really can finish, you have to fight with your mind to tell your body it can finish and to keep going until you finish.

Some of you know what I mean. It’s the mind playing tricks on us and wanting to quit.

So what I do is start to set little goals to get to my end result. “I will run to this next street corner before I slow down a little… I will stay calm and pedal my way up this hill one more time before I take a break so I can keep going… This swim will only last 10 more minutes… I can do this.”

It’s a pep talk for the mind and have to keep telling myself… this is good for you Spence. Go to the gym. Put on the running shoes… eat that healthy meal. It will only help you and the physical sacrifice and hard work is worth it. It’s your healthy life we are dealing with here.

So while starting a new exercise routine can royally suck, just know it has more to do with your mental motivation than whether or not you can physically do it. You must change your mindset.

You can do it. Just take that first step. Or in the words of Nike… Just Do It.

How do you break the cycle? What mental struggles have you had to overcome? How did you do it?

Living A Healthy Lifestyle VS. Failing Another Diet

I’ve always felt like I’ve struggled with my weight or struggled with my confidence of what I think I looked like. It wasn’t until I got into running in 2004 that I really started to feel more confident about who I was and where I was going and how I perceived myself.

Since coming off the road in 2000 from playing 200 shows a year, my life took a better turn in some respects but health wise, I actually got worse. In a four year period I gained 45lbs and it wasn’t 45lbs of muscle either. I was traveling still, but not as much, eating out constantly and sitting in meetings at Starbucks a few times a week. Today I’m healthier than I’ve ever been and still about 20lbs away from where I want to be to race well. The difference is I have a lot more lean muscle mass and a lot more endurance than the average person.

The difference for me came when I decided that diets weren’t for me and trying to attain a certain weight wasn’t my thing.

Why?

I always quit to early or if I hit a certain goal I slowly went back to old habits. It was as if I was saying to myself… “ok, you are here now. You met a goal. Now what?”

Ah! Good question! Now what? Heck if I know! Let’s EAT!

That’s when I started to figured out that if I want to be healthy, feel healthy and look healthy then I need to change my lifestyle, not just my diet.

So I did.

Slowly.

I’m still not the healthiest eater but it’s under control now more than ever. Most of our meals are made at home and there are certain foods I tend to stay away from. Foods I don’t need, don’t make me feel well.

I’ve placed myself in a situation that holds me accountable by association. Does that make sense? I am surrounded by those who are very aware of what’s going into their bodies and that inspires me to treat myself better.

Also, I found a way to have an active lifestyle in a sport I love. Triathlon. I can go run when I want, bike when I want or jump in the pool. For some of you it might just be one of those… or it might be hiking, golfing, racketball or tennis. Whatever it is… it’s active and gets the heart pumping.

This way, if I want to be better at the sports I love to be active in, then it’s worth it for me to take care of my body in way that I can enjoy it’s benefits even more.

It’s a lifestyle now… not just a diet… not just a fad… and not even close to being an escape from life’s normal responsibilities.

It’s my responsibility to be as healthy as I can be for my wife and kids. For my job performance and the people I work with. For the relationship I have with my friends and family… and for those I want to inspire to get off the couch and do what seems to be the impossible.

It’s the clear mind I love having and the ability to feel grounded in who I am now.

Knowing that I am confident with who I am and how I perceive myself.

Who cares if I’m a little heavier than I was 10 years ago…

I feel better than I’ve ever felt and my outlook on life is healthy.

So the question for you is this.

What will it take for you to change your lifestyle to be a healthy one? What are the benefits you experience from living a healthy lifestyle?

How To Prepare For Weekend Of Training In Six Steps

After a few years of weekend training behind me, I’ve come to realize that a big weekend of training is just as much a mental challenge as it is a physical challenge.

If you are training for a half marathon or a full marathon, each and every weekend, your long runs continue to increase in mileage. To the point that you know… these miles are going to take a while so I better be prepared.

As I got ready for Ironman, my Saturdays and Sundays were consumed with training. A 100 mile ride on a Saturday could take 6-7 hours for me then a 15 mile run the next day followed by an hour and half swim. Easily another 4-5 hours gone from my Sunday.

That’s a lot in anyone’s book for one weekend not to mention having to do this for weeks on end and if you aren’t prepared mentally, it’s going to be even harder than it sounds.

This weekend I’m headed into some heavy training to kick off my 2012 triathlon season and just like learning to pace myself on a run or on a bike ride, mentally pacing myself is just as important.

Here are a few things I do mentally to get ready.

1. I prepare my gear ahead of time. I get together every piece of clothing or gadget I’m going to need for my training ready. I clean my bike, check the tires, lube the chain, charge up the bike computer and get my on-the-bike nutrition ready to go. I also get my running clothes, shoes and swim gear laid out. The less I have to think about my gear being ready, the more I focus on the training ahead of me.

2. I plan out my weekend of time spent with friends or family so that I can get in bed at a decent hour. Training for most of us takes place at an early hour and we need all the sleep we can get. I’ve been guilty of over doing it to the point that you would think I wasn’t training for anything and find myself worn out from a late night out.

3. Before I go out for dinner I get an idea of what i want to eat before I get there. What I eat today, fuels my body for tomorrow. It’s hard eating healthy when you aren’t eating at home. I usually look at the soups and a salad first then see if there is anything on the menu with fish and veggies. That’s my go-to. Yours might be different.

4. Plan Your Training Routes. Whether it’s running or cycling. Know where you are going and if at all possible plan some stops along the way in case you run out of liquids of food or need to go to the bathroom. There’s nothing more frustrating than running out of nutrition or needing to go have a little alone time in a clean bathroom.

5. Take your phone and a little extra cash. If you get stranded from exhaustion (hopefully not) or you get a flat and forgot your spare tube. It never hurts to be able to call someone to come pick you up. I’ve had to do it and it’s no fun. But sometimes it’s needed. Also… you never know when you need to buy an extra bottle of go juice or a snack. Take some cash. When I’m on my bike, I put my phone and cash in a zip-lock bag in case it rains or I spill liquid on it.

6. I think through the mileage I’m about to do. The miles might seem overwhelming but the more I break them down in my head to smaller chunks of miles, the easier it is for me mentally. Remember, training is a process.

When I think about this process, I find myself applying this to basic parts of my life. Traveling, Focused time with my wife, A weekend with the family.

In short, I think it pays to be prepared and ready and it’s honestly more of a load off my brain when I know I’m going into something more prepared.

Knowing what’s ahead of you and knowing how you will get there is half the battle.

The other half is just doing it.

If you aren’t new to this, how do you prepare for a weekend of training? Anything to add?

Twenty One Safety Tips For Running And Cycling

When you are going out for your first run or your first few rides on your bike, there’s the big question that always looms in the back of every beginner’s mind.

How do I do this and not get hit by a car!!!

If you are like me, I know you’ve been driving down a busy road and seen a runner coming towards you or you’ve had to slow down to wait for the right moment to go around the cyclist ahead of you. I’m sure you must have thought about how dangerous it seems right?

Before I get into each sport, let me say this one overall rule of thumb. Whether I’m on a bike or out running, I always look for the least traveled roads or the widest roads with whatever bike lanes I can find.

While living in Nashville, I stuck to places runners and cyclist typically go. Chances are motorists are used to them. My favorite place to ride was the Natchez Trace. There are usually more cyclists there than cars.

My favorite running in Franklin is the neighborhood trails around downtown and Pinkerton Park. My other favorite running route in Nashville is Beale Meade Blvd or Moran road to the Old Natchez Trace rd. The key… not as many cars.

However, if you stick to these few simple tips, you will put yourself on the offensive side of safety and keep you out of harms way.

Running

1. Wear bright reflective clothing. If you are in the right light where someone can see you because of your clothing, good. You want them to see you. If the sun is going down, their car headlights will grab your reflective clothing and you will shine enough for them to see you and know to go around you.

2. Always run against the traffic. I can’t stress this enough. You want to see the traffic ahead of you. Since you are smaller than a car, you will have a better chance of getting out of the way of the car should the driver not see you and come too close or come right at you. This puts you on the offensive side and not on the vulnerable side.

3. When running with a group or a running partner, run single file when oncoming traffic approaches. Again, this gives you more control of what’s going on and allows you the chance to move out of the way when needed.

4. When running past someone. Yell which side you are passing them on so they aren’t caught of guard by you. This usually happens on the left side of the person you are passing. Just yell, “LEFT!”

5. Obey all traffic signals when you get to a corner just as if you were walking across the street. Use crosswalks and if you have to stop for a minute, it’s not going to kill your run.

6. Buy a Road ID. If anything should happen to you while you are running, whoever finds you will have quick access to your emergency contact and medical info for the EMT.

Road ID

Cycling

7. This is where things change a bit.

8. Cyclists have the same right to be on the road as cars do. READ THIS AGAIN. Cyclists also have to obey the same traffic laws as motorists do.

9. Ride WITH the traffic. Not against the traffic.

10. Wear reflective clothing when needed.

11. Use hand signals when turning.

12. ALWAYS look over your left shoulder before moving into the left lane to turn.

13. ALWAYS ride on the right side of the lane as close to the white line as you can get unless you have a bike lane to use.

14. Never make sudden movements when cars are about to pass you.

15. Never listen to music when riding your bike. Here’s why. You are riding with the traffic and you need to be able to hear when a car or semi truck is approaching. If you are listening to music then chances are you can’t really hear everything going on around you. Then during that great part in the song where your mind is off in music world, a car will sneak up on you and scare the-you-know-what out of you. At that moment, you might jerk your wheel the wrong way and either go into the car to your left or the ditch to your right. Either way it’s not going to be pretty and it could have been avoid if you were listening for them.

Don’t think it doesn’t happen. I used to ride with music. Then I tried riding with just my right ear bud in so I could hear cars on my left. Still… not as good, but better. Eventually, I got rid of the music. Trust me. It’s for your own safety.

When riding with a group, learn these terms..

16. Car back – it’s when you hear a car coming up from behind you. Yell “CAR BACK!!” and those in front of you will repeat it so that everyone in the group knows there is a car about to pass.

17. Car Forward – same as car back but this is for cars coming towards you. This allows those in the group that might not be looking up at the moment to know there’s a car coming in the other lane. Again, you yell it out for all to hear.

18. When riding with a group, learn to point to obstructions in the road for those who are riding behind you. Potholes, gravel, and sticks. Remember, your road tires are more delicate than mountain bike tires. I’ve had flats from hit a tiny rock before so avoid anything in the road that you might think will pop a tire or send you flying off your bike.

19. Ride single file in traffic.

20. When passing other riders, try to pass on their left. When you are about to pass them yell, “LEFT!!” and pass with caution.

21. Buy a Road ID. If anything should happen to you while you are running, whoever finds you will have quick access to your emergency contact and medical info for EMT.

To all of you who get frustrated with cyclists as you are driving your car.

I hear this often from other drivers…

Cyclists think they own the road…

I just want to put a few things in perspective for those of you… us… who are driving vehicles while passing a cyclist.

  • Cyclists have to obey the same road laws you do and have just as much of a right to be on the road as you.
  • Your vehicle weighs over 4,000lbs and you are protected by the shell of the vehicle tied in with a seatbelt and have air bags. Cyclists are riding on a bike that weighs less that 20lbs and are wearing a helmet. That’s it.
  • Pro cyclists race between 25mph – 30plus mph. The average cyclist rides at 15mph – 20mph. that’s it. We can’t go any faster so please stop acting as if we can.
  • Most states have a 3-foot law. The motorist has to give a cyclist at least 3 feet of space.
  • Most cycling injuries that involve a motorist are caused by the motorist. Some ending in death and an involuntary manslaughter charge. So think before you decide to scare that cyclist the next time you get frustrated. You could cause death for them and jail time for you with little effort.

The bottom line here is this. Cyclists CAN’T own the road. Cyclist only take up two feet of the road at one anytime. When you are driving a car, you are driving what could be a very dangerous driving machine. Drive too close to a cyclist and that cyclist could fly off the road. Hopefully with little injury but acts like this have ended in people being permanently paralyzed, nursing a few broken bones or dead.

Yes, we cyclists take the responsibility of putting our lives in danger by just riding a bike. But we need motorists to help us out a bit. Be more patient when trying to pass us and we will do our best to help you get around us safely. Please, we don’t need you scarring us just because you can bully us with your car.

And that’s what it really is when you are the bigger presence with the damaging force of a car… Bullying.

So there you go.

These few tips will get you on your way to some safe training.

Any Questions? Any tips you would like to share?