This blog documents the racing, training, & riding experiences of the participants of PWP

Pedaling with a Purpose

My name is Kristen Meshberg and I am a former category 1 bike racer. I competed nationally in both road and track. I am a USA Cycling Coach, and help individuals develop plans to achieve their goals. To survive the Chicago winter, I developed an indoor workout program called "Pedaling with a Purpose."

I now have various locations across the United States. To find out more about Pedaling with a Purpose or Coaching, email Kristen at: kmesh.pwp@gmail.com

Monday, January 27, 2014

PWP participant Lauren Wissman

Seeing someone come into Pedaling With a Purpose and transition into a bike racer is one of my favorite things about running this program.  It never gets old and is one of the things that keeps me doing this year after year.  Read about Lauren's discovery of competitive cycling:

A year ago I was riding my bike to get to-from class and to pick up dried mango at Trader Joes.  I don’t think that’s called anything besides some frump who rides her bike to get groceries.  Now I’m a commuter and I guess an amateur cyclist. BAM. Funny what cleats, some carbon, and a bike posse can turn you in to.  I’ve always had an obsession with all things sports related.  Growing up I didn’t have cable or X-Box and barely listened to music (before I discovered Simon & Garfunkel around age 10). Most all of my time was spent outside or participating in some athletically driven endeavor: skiing, then figure skating, softball, and volleyball, until I started playing basketball and soccer competitively.  X-mas lists included rollerblades, footballs, Tracy McGrady TMAC 6s (which I never got and still want), and giant dog stuffed animals.  I did get a bike for x-mas one year (this is where my saga becomes relevant). There was probably 8-10 in. of snow and the roads were covered.  I remember having to be stealthy getting out of the house.  At the time, my left humerus was still healing from a recent fracture after hitting a plank of wood off a golf cart path jump on a plastic snowboard.

A soccer career/broken leg/torn ligament/onset ankle arthritis later, I was advised to find a different sport.  It was winter 2012.  Thought!!!! Cycling!!! Group rides!! Outdoors! Chicago… So after some extensive googling I found PWP and emailed Kristen to ask if I could get involved.  I did.  I liked it; mostly since I’m ok with self-inflicted physical suffering (the fun kind), but also because there were Christmas lights and RAD jams and I was sandwiched between KMesh and Kelly ‘the masher’ Clarke.  I went to a team event (which involved beer no way) and before I knew it I had signed up for the Gapers Block crits as an almost monkey.  And there you have it.

What surprised me most about racing is how much you learn just by doing.  The first race at Gapers I hung with the pack, pulled (though I didn’t know at the time) for a lap or so, and ended up 17th.  I realized I wore myself out for no reason and decided to hang back more the next race.  With just some light strategizing I placed 2nd instead.  What I think is the most important when racing is getting your head right, think you can win.  And if you can’t, take some people down trying (not actually though).  In the words of Sarah Rice (Cat 2 SM), “If you’re not hungry, don’t eat.”

Although I’m pleased with the results I’ve gotten this past race season, being adopted by Spidermonkey and having the opportunity to meet so many impressive and positively awesome people in the cycling community has really been the highlight of my intro to the sport.  Nine months ago I barely knew any cyclists; or the difference between clinchers and tubulars, a criterium and cyclocross, SRAM vs. Shimano; and I won’t pretend like I have it figured out now.  Cycling went from 10% of my life to 80%, 98% on weekends:) And I’m 120% happy about it.  I recently spent 8 hours in the snow watching grown men ride around/through/over sledding children for a chance to win Lagunitas and a Pepper Palace variety pack; “your one stop shop for hot sauce, BBQ sauce, salsa, pickled items, jellies and jams, beef jerky, and more!  And it wasn’t strange to me at all.

I tell the friends I have left who aren’t cycle-crazy about our team and tomfoolery.  My parents now ride regularly (Carole just got a roadie and my dad wants to commandeer my CX bike so he can start racing), my aunt and sister are hopping back on bikes again, and I get updates when friends complete big rides, get their first pair of bike shoes or see a Spidermonkey riding on the street.  This thing we do is contagious and I’m truly honored to be a part of it.

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