My relationship with Yoga.

About one year ago, I sat in the backyard of a Pacific Palisades mansion, word on the street is that Germany's Next Top Model was filmed there. Is that even a show? Surrounded by my fellow Rapha babes - We sat in three lines of four - all sporting equally as funny cycling tans. A tall-lean dark haired yogi babe stood in-front of us, explaining how excited she was to loosen up our hips. okay...

To clarify, I am flexible - but not that flexible. I don't like being forced to do things - so, when someone is telling me we have a mandatory fun event I immediately say NO. I have had previous encounters with yoga - while in high school - Also mandatory fun. We sat there, trying to keep up with this brunette bombshell as she threw out odd yoga lingo that only two or three of the girls actually understood. I felt defeated, normally I am not bad at anything athletic. We had towels to stand-on, we were on grass that was itchy, I was dreaming of my bike and ready to run into the kitchen and watch the Skratch Labs guys prepare dinner, and lock-eyes with the dreamy sous-chef - whom conveniently fit my 'hot guy, I wanna make out with you list' at the time only to miss out on the opportunity.

Flash forward a year. A text message pops up on my phone from a friend: Hey, do you want to try yoga? I quickly typed no thank you! (thinking in my head 'is she kidding me. What a ridiculous thing to participate in. I don't do yoga. Ew!) But before pressing send, I paused - maybe I do? I ended up agreeing - and essentially waited for her to give me a time and a place. Wednesday - Ritual Yoga. 

This was my first chance to wear my yoga clothes for their actual purpose - however, some may disagree that tights and capris are purely made for the idea of lounging...I am one of those people - I can almost guarantee that my butt looks better as I causally lay across the outside patio in capris, than it goes when I am all sorts of contorted trying to find the balance that I somehow was never blessed with . I found a free mat that I had been given through work, somehow I had also ended up with a Yoga Toes towel which had been repurposed for a bike cover. Clearly, I was super cool and also may avoid any new kid looks because I wouldn't have to inquire about borrowing a mat from the studio receptionist. bam!

We had decided to test out a vinyassa class, neither of us knowing exactly what that meant. We signed up for one week of free classes - if we loved it we could go back, if we hated it well then f*ck it.. back to biking and running. On our way to the studio I read the description of what a Vinyassa class was, it still didn't make any sense (as the classes went on, we found ourself googling other terminology on our way to the studio so we could act like we know what was going on). Let's be real my only hope for this new yoga thing was that I would all the sudden look much more tone and become a part of the yoga-butt club. We made our first mistake: NO SHOES IN THE YOGA STUDIO ROOM! Oppsss, but they are flip-flops?!

Our teacher was a youthful yogi beauty - who seemed like the type that traveled to exotic places becoming one with herself and was probably a vegan - I would have never guessed she was also a wife and month of two who were also teenagers. She spoke in a calming but fast tone - which made me feel comfortable about my decision to come into her packed class of those who spoke that yogi language, and were far more talented and flexible than myself.

A week went by, and then I bought a month pass. I tested out various teachers and types of classes. I found myself in with people who could essentially float, as well as what seemed to be a geriatrics class that I almost feel asleep in. I tested out a number of mats too, and finally settled on a rubber one that I deemed needed to be overnighted for a Friday class. After I was equipped with everything to make me look profession (I always joke about these people on bikes...) I found myself signing up for a 6-month membership - purely because it was a better deal - not because I had become completely infatuated with finding my inner-zen three to four times a week - LIES, all L-I-E-S. I quickly found myself rearranging my work day to attend classes - then also traded in my weekly lunch rides for an afternoon spent in a hot-sweaty yoga room where I would find myself begging the teacher to let me try going inverted.

Work trip season kicked into full affect - that meant that bikes, running and yoga were put on a halt. I would find myself planning my return flights so that I could make a Friday class - I would be sitting around at dinner wishing I was working on my warrior-2 or tree pose.

In a year, my ideology about this funny thing called yoga completely changed. I feel centered, I feel much more knowledgable, I can focus, I feel strong and toned - I walk out feeling confident.

So, my two-cents on yoga? Give it a try. Studios offer new student classes all the time, they will even provide you with a mat! If you are nervous to go alone, grab a friend! Or, click around on the inter web...you'll find plenty of yoga videos on the you tubes. 



2015 Rapha Prestige, City of Angels edition

A word about camaraderie. 

Yesterday marked my fourth Rapha event. Two years ago I had a random invite to come roll with the boys on a half dirt/have paved 110+ course through the Angeles mountains - from there I went to San Fran, and then to my home state of Colorado - finally finding myself rolling similar roads to when my dirt-grinding road biking obsession began in the City of Angels.

Compared to events past the format had a slight change, aside from the name - which was semi confusing if you had previously been to a women's event which used to solely be dubbed "prestige". Now there were teams of 4 instead of six; some teams of just men, and some of just women. No cinematographer, just the extremely talented photographer, not to mention - kindest person on the planet - Kevin Batchelor, hailing from Boulder. We still ate donuts and sipped on espresso. We were greeted by the bright smiling faces of David and Tim from Rapha; who knew it was only a matter of time until our team was spewing with sarcasm and giggles.  Our jerseys were still packed to the brim with rice cakes and Skratch Labs. Per usual my team still had to ask which way we started; as we toyed with the Garmin trying to figure out how it actually would give us directions - we have taken wrong turns out of the start previously. 

This year, the team I had the pleasure of being a part of consisted of the amazing: Abby WatsonJulie Krasniak and Lindsay Knight. We only get to see each other a few times a year, but, we always tend to make the most of our time together - I am so thankful to call these girls my friends. They are a very inspiring & successful group of women, both on and off the bike. 

There were 20 teams that decided to take on, or at least attempt, to take on the first 2015 Rapha Prestige in the States. Mr. Ben Lieberson was the course designer, we knew we were in for a doozy. Water, sugar, salt, chamois cream and sunscreen quickly became your friend that day - and Coke never tasted so good - dreams of ice pops and cold beer would haunt us through the mid-day sun. When we saw the Bike Effect support station and the bright smiles of Steve and Alison - we all cheered.

But, like I said above this is a post about camaraderie. 

I have probably spent more time in the saddle with these three girls that anyone else, we have figured out a special way to communicate while on the bike - whether it is a simple hey dial it down a notch, or the tell tale head shake on a decent motioning: time to haul ass.  
We always start these rides out the same way, we agree that we need to let each other know how we are feeling, we remind each other that it is imperative to eat and drink, and reiterate that this is not a race! I trust these girls - we ride together well. During every event that I have done with these women we are commended for our communication skills - and our agreements of when and where we can separate and where to regroup. Making sure everyone has had there time to recover and are fully stocked with water and snacks at the rest-stops - keeping the conversation and laughing level high, because that is what these are about. We are making memories.
We understand that events like these don't stop until everyone crosses the finish-line - and if someone has an issue, whether it be a mechanical or just needing a rest, we all stop. 
These events are not a race, they are a challenge about how well you get along with others, how you can provide support when your teammates may need it and a true test on your communication. Your bike handling skills are put to the test as you face taxing terrain. 
These events are about cheering people on, making friends and encouraging fellow teams out there who are suffering these daunting courses too. If you consider this a race, fine - you win. Because to tell you the truth, the real victory isn't who gets across the finish first - but it is who can look back and say wow, I had a kick-ass time with some of my friends and that is a day I will never forget.  You realize what you just conquered; something that most people couldn't even fathom taking on. 

With limited setbacks we crossed the line just before sunset. We motored up the steep climb to Zorthian Ranch - happy to know the ride was over - feeling successful for what we had accomplished. Out of the 20 teams there were five teams comprised only of women - out of those same 20 teams, only two of the full women's teams finished the 125 mile course. To those who finished the big loop, I commend you - it was hard. To those who had to turn at the time cut, you're stoked....trust me. Our team was one of the teams that made the long course (our fellow Rapha Women's teammates finished just before us). Over all we unofficially  finished 5th out of 20 teams...not bad. 

I can't wait until we all meet again and ride bikes.