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My 67-Mile Bike Race: FITNESS Advisor Dr. Jennifer Ashton Recaps Her Epic Ride

Written on June 2, 2014 at 12:32 pm , by

Written by Jennifer Ashton, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member and “The Doctors” co-host

Today I completed a 67-mile bike ride. It was, hands-down, the most difficult physical thing I have ever done in my life. It was also the most amazing, fun, emotional, inspiring, frightening and exhilarating feat I have ever accomplished. I had the privilege of riding along with an incredible 17-year-old girl named Lauren Sepanske. Lauren was born with clubfeet and had so many problems with her right foot, that one year ago, she made the decision to have her leg amputated below the knee. Soon after that decision, she appeared on “The Doctors” TV show, where I am a co-host, to share her story. During her segment, she announced on national television that she had planned to ride 100 miles in the Elephant Rock Ride in Castle Rock, Colorado in June! I vowed to do it with her (even though the farthest I had ever ridden was just 21 miles).

When the time came to confirm our race registration, I had just 6 weeks to really train for this ride. I was really only trained to one hour of strenuous cardio at this time, so I decided to sign-up for the 62 mile race part of Elephant Rock. For 6 weeks, I worked with my amazing triathlon coach, Andres Herrera, doing a combo of interval rides, endurance rides and threshold rides. Oh, did I mention that I was doing all of this training INDOORS ON MY SPIN BIKE??? I knew this wasn’t wise, but my schedule and fear of being hit by a car on my road bike told me that it would have to suffice. As the race date drew closer, I was feeling confident, but also was clearly in a state of denial. This ride was in Colorado, at an altitude of 7,500 feet! It was in a very hilly area south of Denver, I was using clips on my pedals for only the second time, and it was forecasted to be a very sunny day, with temps in the low 80’s. When I contemplated all of these separate challenges, I actually wondered if I would even finish the race. In fact, I was so nervous about the physical challenges that I asked my husband, who is also a doctor, to ride with me, because I thought there was a significant chance that I would need medical attention during or after the race!

We got to Colorado 40 hours before the race in an attempt to adjust to the altitude. I pre-hydrated and carb-loaded for 3 to 4 days in advance, like it was my job! For the maximum benefit of increasing glycogen stores, increased carbs need to be consumed for 3 to 4 days prior to an athletic event. When the race started, I took one look at Lauren, with her prosthetic leg, and thought, ‘If she can do it, maybe I can too!’  Early on in the race, I decided to stay with Lauren on the 100-mile course, and just try to make it as far as possible before I had to leave to catch my flight back to NYC and return to sea-level! The race was incredibly challenging on all levels: there were very strong headwinds, steep up-hill climbs, high altitude, hot weather and glaring sun. I managed to keep up with the priority of nutrition and hydration while on the bike, but I also managed a low-speed fall on a turn while forgetting how to use my pedal clips (rookie mistake). The spill left me bruised, scraped and embarrassed, but also left my bike gears badly bent. They were so damaged that I only had use of TWO gears (and sadly not the lowest ones) for the remaining 25 miles of the race. When I had reached the time in the race when I knew I had to leave for the airport, we had made it to mile 67! It had taken us 7 hours, including 3, 15-minute breaks at rest stations to use the porta potties, refill our water bottles, and grab some bagels, bananas and more sunscreen.

According to the heart rate monitor, my HR ranged from 130 to 175 during the race, with an average around 150. I knew that this ride was a massive stress test for my heart, my kidneys, my muscles and my lungs. But it was also a test of my spirit. There were hills that were so steep, I doubted if I would make it to the top. I thought of my children, and of Lauren, and their spirit and strength. At one point, as I reached the top of a 45- minute climb, I started to tear-up thinking of what I had just accomplished.  And now, as I sit on the plane, sore as hell, I realize what an amazing machine the human body is, but also how powerful the human will is. I did something that was WAY out of my comfort zone, and I will never forget it. I am a total beginner rider but I didn’t let that stop me. I took the appropriate medical and athletic precautions, and then pushed my body to a place it had never been. I think I can hear it whimpering, ‘Thank you!’

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Ride It Out! Celebrate National Bike to Work Day in Style

Written on May 14, 2014 at 5:48 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Dust off those handlebars and get ready to put your pedals to the metal, err road, to celebrate National Bike to Work Day tomorrow. We’re super stoked to get our wheels spinning—biking is great for the environment and your bod. (You blast about 540 calories per hour commuting on two wheels!) To get you in gear, we’ve got some great rides, deals and steals. Saddle up!

Ride In Style Look sleek and chic as you ride through town on Electra’s Amsterdam Forget Me Not 3i ($959, select retailers). This brightly colored stunner is made of lightweight aluminum and comes with both front and rear lights. Plus there’s a matching bell–ding, ding!

Lighten Your Load Dreaming of biking to work but lug too much back and forth? Novara’s Barrow Bike ($749.00, rei.com) was made for you. With its built-in basket and rear-rack you’ll have plenty of places to stash your stuff! And better yet, the basket is attached with Novara’s exclusive “N-dock” system, which keeps the basket aligned and steady–even through turns. So there’s no need to worry about an epically embarrassing spill (phew!).

Go Retro Perfect for a casual cruise down the beach or city streets, The Langdon ($399-$499, purecitycycles.com) has a retro-inspired frame that will have you racking up the compliments. The single-speed or three-speed models are offered in two sizes. Customizable for a great ride!

Get The Perks EveryMove, a free online and mobile app, rewards users for healthy activities like working out, gardening and, yes, biking, by linking to your favorite fitness trackers. In honor of National Bike Month, they are teaming up with Spinlister, Kaidel Sportswear and Orange Mud to help you cash in on your healthy habits and earn some great deals! Learn more here.

Win Your Own Don’t have a bike? Join our #MakeFitHappen Contest on Pinterest and you could score a Willow 3 beach cruiser from Brooklyn Bicycle Co! Entering is super easy – get the low down here. You have until Sunday, May 25th at 11:59pm to join in.

Photos courtesy of Electra, Novara and Pure City Cycles

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SoulCycle First-Timers: Reserve Your Spot in New Series…STAT!

Written on October 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm , by

Get your butt in gear and find your soul! (Photo courtesy of SoulCycle)

So you still haven’t tried SoulCycle. We get it—the heart-pumping, fat-blasting cardio sesh can be intimidating (like, what the heck does “Tap it back” mean?) but trust us, once you clip into those pedals you’ll be hooked. I mean, we sure are alongside celeb die-hards like Lady Gaga, Lena Dunham, Kelly Ripa and Bradley Cooper (drool).

That’s why the studio introduced the new program SoulCycle 101. The three 60-minute class package gives newbies the scoop on bike setup, form, lingo and more so you’re not the mortified rider who needs help lowering their seat or catching the beat to a Katy Perry remix. (Ok, even some of us regulars still require a little assistance on both of those…) The best part? With two or three instructors in each tutorial/workout, students get the extra attention they need to unleash their inner-rockstar.

The first series launches November 9 at the East 83rd Street and Soho studios for just $85. Sign up by sending an email to soul101@soul-cycle.com. Stop resisting! There’s no longer an excuse.

McDreamy Gets Dreamier (Believe It!) for Cancer Hope and Healing

Written on October 1, 2013 at 12:23 pm , by

Run/ride like Patrick Dempsey is waiting at the finish line. Oh wait, he is! (Photo credit: Patrick McCarthy)

Known for making scrubs look sexy with ease is none other than McDreamy, and now Patrick Dempsey has fit gals like us weak in the knees by getting his sweat on in bike shorts. Why? Not that we really need a reason, but it’s for a good cause. So yes, he’s good-looking, talented, in incredible shape and philanthropic. (Insert extra swoon here.)

Clearly, biking has become more than just a joy ride for this star. It’s become a passion and family affair with his wife and three kids, plus a way to raise funds for The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing. “I’m not a big fan of running—I really love cycling and the sense that you can go somewhere,” he recently dished, while reminiscing about pedaling around as a kid, the only way for him to get from point A to B at a young age. “Growing up in the country, it was a form of escape and freedom.”

On October 12 and 13, runners, walkers and riders—including Dempsey—will come together for the fifth-annual Dempsey Challenge in Lewiston, Maine to support his center. Founded in 2008 after the actor’s mother battled three bouts of ovarian cancer, the safe haven provides free support, education and integrative medicine services for those impacted by cancer. “The last four years, we’ve raised over a million dollars in the event. It’s incredible,” Dempsey says. “It’s amazing the amount of support and commitment people have to the challenge. We’re going to have fun things around, like food trucks and entertainment, to celebrate. Plus, everyone gets lobster and beer at the end!”

Between his time on the big screen, a little show called Grey’s Anatomy and now the race track—he clearly has a need for speed—finding time to get his sweat on can be tough, the Clif Bar lover admits. (His fave flavors? Crunchy Peanut Butter and Blueberry Crisp.) “I try to balance it between going to the gym and getting a good core workout in. And then getting out on the bike for at least an hour, hour and half if I can, three or four times a week.” Hikes in the mountains surrounding Santa Monica and barefoot runs along the beach are also a part of his training. “I find that to be low impact on my body,” he says. “The sand helps stabilize your core!” Uh huh, drink in that image…

To learn more about this year’s challenge and their incredible partnerships—Dempsey raved about Positive Tracks, a New Hampshire-based non-profit that encourages the youth to get active and give back through charitable athletic efforts—be sure to head over to their website, ‘like’ their Facebook page and follow the event on Twitter.

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