Monday, December 16, 2013

bikespeak

bike vocabulary drives me bonkers.  let's just call it bikespeak.

the more and more i am around cyclists, the more i catch myself staying stupid phrases, that are indiscernible to the normal ear.

this must stop!

i made a handy chart below - please read - and do your best to resume to normal speak.  i will do my part.

What you sayWhat you meanExample
"Refeuling"Stuffing your faceSometimes I even hear people use the phrase "refueling" when they aren't even cycling.  If you go to the mall and stop for an Auntie Anne's pretzel, you can't really call that re-fueling.  If you go on a recovery ride and stop for coffee and a pastry, that also is not refueling.  Even if you are "refeuling" during a ride, just say eat.
"Resting"Being Lazy"Rest day -- need to recover." One of my favorites.  A great excuse not to do dishes, laundry, cleaning, take out trash, or take care of anything that really needs to be done.  
"Recovering"See Above See above
"Need a massage"I'm indulgingDoes anyone ever really *need* a massage.  Somehow when I took health class, I don't really remember seeing "massage" high up on Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
"Can't ____ because of my coach"Making a lame excuse For real?  How old are you?  Is this like when you were in high school and your mom would say: "if you need an excuse at the party... you can always use me."  No need to make your coach into public enemy #1.  I'm sure he/she isn't a huge buzz kill.  You're an adult - if you want to do something, do it. Tell your coach your schedule, that is what you are paying them for. If you don't want to go on a ride with your friend, just say it.  No need to bring your coach into it.
"Fuel up"EatAre you a car?  You are just eating.  Just talk like a normal person and say eat. 
"Hydrate"DrinkThis one isn't so bad, but still, drink and thirsty are perfectly acceptable words in the English dictionary.      
"Bonked"SuckedJust cause you were stupid to not eat enough doesn't change anything.  You still sucked.  Own it.
"Junior"Teenager, Teen, YouthDon't get me started on this one.  Who uses the word "junior" other than an old man saying to his grandson: "hey junior, come over here."  I don't know why the national federation decides to call 10-18 year olds "juniors" - but can't we just say what most people in society say... high schooler, middle schooler, youth, teen, etc.  Nobody says junior unless you are 80.

I am sure I can think of more, but let's first start by eradicating these from our vocabulary.  That will definitely prove to be challenging enough.

Friday, December 13, 2013

i'll always have the F100

it's that time of year...cleaning house.

who needs this bike...



when you have this bike...

itsnotaboutthebike, itsnotaboutthebike, itsnotaboutthebike

that's the F100.  if you haven't heard of the F100.... what's wrong with you?  let me just give you some fun facts about the F100 to make you (er, me) recall how sweet it is:
  • The F100 has the uniformly perfect seat angle for time trialing: 73 degrees.  48cm frame, 61cm frame - same, same!  Why mess with a good thing?
  • I AM BETH.  name decals, check.
  • 9-speed.  Anything more just requires double digits.
  • F100 - almost vitage.  Now you can only buy the 500 model
  • I once won a time trial on it.... and mark my word, I'll do it again in 2014.  
Speaking of 2014 - I am pretty excited.  So what's up with me?  I have some really awesome individual sponsors that have agreed to work with me, and I am excited to talk about those a lot once january rolls around.  I'm not riding with a team next year, and will be focusing my year a lot more on track, but doing some road stuff too. But for now, back to cleaning.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

2013 road season (yes, this is a crappy title)

After winning an awesome sombrero, I knew that what awaited the next few months would be pretty anticlimactic in comparison. I was pleasantly mistaken, when a couple weeks later I got to race Merco Cycling Classic in Merced.  While this wasn’t an NRC race, it may as well have been, because all the big teams showed up and it was totally baller.  It was our team’s first race, and I quickly bonded with all the new members as 5 of us were crammed in a trailer.  If that wasn't enough bonding, we also discovered that we filled the septic tank after the first morning.  Having just come off track, I was totally ready for 4 day stage race with some long road races. (sarcastic font)  Well, ready I was, bitches, and I totally won the last stage after being in two long breaks that day. 

BreatheRight, FTW!

This is a pretty terrible picture.  After seeing it, I learned two important lessons: One, don’t have stage line fright and take your damn hands off the bars, even if you are in bumblefuck with no spectators, because a hiding photographer might catch you.  Two, more importantly, always, *always* remember to remove your breatheright before the finish line.  This photo made for an amazing snapchat, which I can’t share here because it is inappropriate and probably sponsor incorrect. . . so instead, I just posted the original.

We left right from Merco for a Kurt Stockton team (boot)camp.  The highlight of the camp was definitely the use of race radios.  Prior to camp, I was a race radio virgin.  So of course the first thing I did was start playing the penis game.  This quickly turned into sharing other words, like STDs or creative obscenities.  It also made me realize I’d be fine chamoising up with any of my new teammates, as their originality in the dirty word department was pretty much  off the charts.  I’d definitely do anything for these gals.  I know that there has been a lot of controversy about eliminating race radios.  All I know is that I would be a way better racer if I had my teammates whispering things like “pubic lice” to me during steep climbs.

This picture has nothing to do with my previous paragraph, but it was taken at team camp and is awesome.

From Merco, I think I went home for about a week, then back down South to San Dimas, then back home for a week only to drop my chain in my favorite NorCal race Copperopolis that I will hopefully win before a turn 40, then back down South for Redlands.  I got pretty friendly with the I-5 that month.  Our team had a pretty rockstar Redlands, with AP winning GC and three (!!) stages, and the team getting the overall GC.  We all suffered real good for that weekend, so we had burgers and beer at Eureka burger – in chamois – post Sunset loop.  This proved for an awesome time biking back to the host house – up Cajon yet again – where of course Robin Farina got out of hand and crashed in the driveway. 

Off to Eureka Burger!

From Redlands, we all flew out East to do a quick recon on the nationals course, Charlotte crit, then AP and I stayed for track camp.  I always like going to Charlotte because Robin owns a bike shop there, Uptown Cycles, and our team always gets tons of special treatment.  Plus, I get to ride with the best ride leader ever, Vance.  I’d say more but words wouldn’t do him justice.

Alexis Ryan is a badass even on cruiser with her socks.

Giodorna velodrome is Rock Hill is awesome.  This picture is pretty mediocre, but it does show my bling bike, so I am keeping it in.   

Southerns are so hospitable – the town of Rock Hill gave us this goodie bag for our training camp!

AP made me do bike drills everyday, but she then let me have wine too, so it was cool.

The highlight of my track camp was dropping AP in warmup jumps the first day, to which she shockingly said: “Beth, you dropped me!” to which I responded, “Can you say that again”  I will probably never drop Alison Powers again, so I wanted etch it in my mind.  (That is why I am sharing it publicly.)

I flew home and went straight to Sea Otter.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t race, cause I missed the first day and it was a stage race.  Michael was working and I wasn’t going to be home long, so I wanted to see him.  As an added bonus, the riding in Monterey is pretty sweet, so I had fun exploring.  Also, I snuck into the expo and totally scored some free swag.  NOW Energy Bar totally hooked me up filling my ENTIRE backpack with the new A3 bars.  

Sponsor shot.

I had a late change in my race schedule, so instead of doing Joe Martin and Gila, I headed back to the Southeast for Speedweek.  It was cool to see how all the towns in the South really come out for the races.  It was also cool to see how there is a whole ‘nother group of racers doing the crit circuits.  As for the racing, I will be honest, I pretty much sucked and had a bad attitude, until the last day I did where there was a hill in the course.  That was a fun crit.  When I signed into that race, I noticed there was an ice cream shop at the start/finish line that specialized in hot fudge sundaes.  So, I raced with my debit card in my pocket, and high tailed from the finish line (I *think* I did the cool down lap), dragging my track compatriot Cari Higgins with me.  The good thing about trackies is you always know they will eat ice cream with you.   I have no photos from Speedweek, probably because I was “PMSing” for two weeks straight and didn’t take any.
I then was home two weeks, which was awesome, and got to race my hometown course, Berkeley Hills.  I didn’t win, as had stupidly let a break up, but had a great burst of speed up the final hill for third.  I was pretty jazzed with my form, as road nationals was hilly.  Then I unfortunately did this.


Falling on a bike definitely sucks, but I will contend that falling in the bathtub can suck just as bad.  How does one fall in the bathtub?  I believe it starts with over lathering your luffa and ends with trying to scrub your feet, and landing on your bum.  As I hit deck, I immediately knew I was screwed.  I laid there for a minute and then had to yell for help to get up.   You know you are old when you are lying on the bath tub floor, hollering for someone to help you get up.  Luckily Michael didn’t take out his hearing aids.   The next few days weren’t so good, but I was hoping I could at least be useful at nationals.  H­­ow exactly do you tell your team director: “sorry, I slipped on soap in the bathtub and hurt myself, so I am probably going to be shit for this race, and likely shit for the next 6 weeks as well.”  ­­AP got third in the road race, by no help of mine, save perhaps the first 15 miles, then I sucked wheel the rest of the way in.  The race was awesome and course cool.  I am looking forward to it next year for sure.  Month before I will plan to just take baths, so there is no where to fall.

I was home for the month of June and couldn’t really race.  I did my best to rehab and not lose fitness, but was pretty nervous as I was scheduled to go to France with the national team for some stage races.  I get nervous pretty easily and I think probably the most frequent thing Michael hears from me is: “I’m out of shape,” even when that is just a preposterous comment.  Michael was confident that all I needed to do was heal up, then train really hard for 5 days, then I’d be find.  I was skeptical of course like I always am, but it worked and I felt in good shape going to France. 
In addition to my 5 days of training, I also had an additional 6 days of race prep, which I will refer to as dante’s inferno.  It started on Friday and Saturday with the Hellyer Velodrome Challenge, averaging in the high 90s.  Sunday with the Lodi Cycle Fest criterium, I think it was 105.  And then ended with Davis 4th of July criterium on Wednesay, probably 108.  It was so hot, you could feel the heat radiating off the concrete during the crits.  I had some highs and lows during those days, but it was good for me.  Robin won Davis crit and Olivia was third, so that was really good day for us.  After the race, I dunked my head in cooler at the finish line.  If I thought racing a 1 hour criterium was unbearable in the heat, the real award goes to Michael who announced three days straight (including a 10ish hour day in Lodi), worked the office for 2 days, then announced for 10+hours on Wednesday.  Yikes.  When I got to France a few days later, the hot French summers felt pretty cool, so I think the dante inferno block was a racing success.

This is Dan Smith from SportVelo coaching.  He always sponsors the Women’s Points race at the HVC, giving us generous and fun prizes.  I got a bike fit and insoles made by Dan a few years ago and it was awesome – so check them out.

This is Bess Hernandez-Jones.  She not only promoted the Hellyer Velodrome Challenge this year, but also kept Hellyer running with all of her hardwork all summer.  She is awesome and we in NorCal are really lucky to have her volunteer so much!

We got to do one the first 4k women’s team pursuit ever in the USA. 

Korina, Natlie, Jen and me – these are the coolest ladies ever!  Best part was we got these awesome Hellyer wrenches that Judd Kincaid made special for the event!

My friend Martina won the Lodi Crit, including that huge bottle of wine.  This is her getting interviewed, where I think she told the reporter that she would school lebron james on a bike.

Amanda Seigle won 4th of July last year.  She is not only the Davis hometown hero, but arguably one of the coolest ladies in NorCal.  Alex Chiu took this photo, which is sweet.  Alex’s photos are sweet and you should all buy some, because they are only $5 and are awesome.


This is me in Davis.  It is very, very hot if you can’t tell from my face.  I wish I had a photo of us after the race, but I can’t find one.


Well, that was pretty much my U.S. road season.  It was short and fun and rest of year is lots of international racing and track!

Friday, February 15, 2013

pan ams - uncensored

i am not really sure why i wrote this title, as i really don't have anything to censor in the first place. but, maybe "uncensored" will result in a few extra clicks.  just for the hell of it, i'll throw in periodic cuss words, so my title isn't completely false advertising.  *#&%$  (be imaginative ... or choose your favorite cuss word)

and, if you are lazy and don't want to read - listen to my podcast with angela aldrich of norcalcyclingnews.com - i tried not to be boring on air, but to be honest, i think i am much better on paper.

background bull*#*@

it has been awhile since i blogged, so i'll give a bit of background to the pan am trip.  i was pretty jazzed to get the nomination.  i had done well there the year prior (in 2012), but i sucked pretty bad at track nationals this year.  i had crashed at crit nationals and had some nagging hip and leg pain, which i was pretty much in denial about.  anyway, i was slow and it sucks losing, especially after you've won before.

the picture pretty much sums up how i felt at nationals.

blah blah blah i took october off the bike.  i started a winter garden because i guess you can do that in the bay area.  (note: now the garden is very big, and if i wasn't sick i'd walk outside and take an update picture, but that is like 30 steps away, so i don't want to).

now i have lots of yummies in the garden....thanks to michael, cause he is the one who waters it.  i just take credit for it.

in off-season, some people are psycho and can't go for one day without exercising.  that was not me.  i am totally awesome at being a sloth.  i credit my ohio genes.  michael always calls me a union worker - clocking in and clocking out of my workouts. (i don't see what is wrong with this; you can always count on me to get my *#(@! done!)   anyway, in my time off i did absolutely nothing but talk to my plants for a couple of weeks.  i gave up stretching and hydrating as well, and ate french onion dip cause it is awesome.  i really like french onion dip.

when i started biking again, it sucked.  i was so bitter.  my leg still hurt and i almost threw my bike into a ditch, but that would have been a bit dramatic, so instead i threw some temper tantrums.  my destiny was clear --  i had to become one of those crazy hippy bay area people...  i started yoga.  i got acupuncture   i went to the chiropractor.  got some body work.  i even tried positive thinking. for real, i was out of control.  but, for reals, that &#*%# worked! and in a few weeks my leg was feeling good again.  it felt great to feel pain from going hard, not just that persistent nagging pain.

i was feeling good and we had a USAC track camp in janaury that was going to be selector for the panams.  luckily, i rode pretty well there and got the spot.  like i said, i was really excited to get the spot, as i was not so great at nationals this year; it felt really good to be back on track and feeling good.  anyway, after camp, i stopped roadie training and began trackie training. it was only a couple of weeks before panams, so i knew i had to improve my track mental skills too.  michael got mevictoria pendleton's autobiography for christmas, so i practiced my intimidating stares.



mexico city

after getting into mexico city, the adventure began - where the #*@(! is the track?  

like a bunch of idiotic gringos, we left the hotel and instead of getting directions, we saw a sign on the road that said "velodromo" and followed it.  we walked, went over some train tracks, walked some more, and proceeded into uncharted territory.  we arrived at the velodromo... that is, the outdoor velodrome of the 1968 olympics, and also a subway stop, called velodromo.  we were at the wrong velodrome in mexico city.  walked, walked, walked and finally made it to the correct one.  sprinters (especially boy sprinters) hate walking.  anytime i complain about walking, michael always tells me how gino bartali would walk for hours after a tour stage.... so i have learned not to complain about walking so i don't hear that story yet again.

we built up our bikes, and i hopped on the velo for a short spin.  i wanted to get on the track (not my rollers) so i could get used to it.  mexico city is at 7,600 feet, so that is pretty high.  it meant for some fast times.  it also meant for some strange sensations in the mass start races when i didn't recover as quick as i normally do.  

the velodrome was really hot in the late morning/mid-day.  there were these skylights, so natural sunlight could come in. but then it was sometimes high 80s during the morning sessions.  that is very hot, especially when there is no wind or circulation inside.

math, b*@(%#es

trackies LOVE geeking out about gears.  "what gear you in?" ..  "i need a bigger chainring, so i can use the 15t, cause that is the most efficient cog" ... you can go crazy mad talking gears with trackies.  it is kind of awesomely hilarious....especially if you just talk @*#($ and don't really know anything, like me. 

while gear talk is annoying, i have been around long enough, to know i need to pay attention to it.  long gone are the days of choosing one gear and staying in it for every race...like i used to.  before i got to mexico city, i did some serious dorkage research figuring out my gears.  let me explain....

the first day of racing was the individual pursuit.  figuring out my goal pace was a bit hard, because a) last IP i did i was injured and stunk, so i really had no clue how fast i could go, and b) the times were so different at elevation.  before the race, i made a big spreadsheet with people's times from the previous world cups editions, compared to that at the last world cup (which was in aguicalientes - which is at 10,000 feet...so somewhat comparable, i thought.) i was trying to figure out the the time differential between pursuits at sea level versus elevation.  to my comparison charts (which really was waaaaay too small of a sample size) it was somewhere between 6-10 seconds.  then, i guessed my current pace in LA, figured out my average cadence.  then i figured out my estimated goal pace at the track in mexico city and applied my optimal average cadence, and thus figured out what gear i should run.  DORK ALERT!  

my gear: 98" for the IP -- that is an %*#*ing big gear!

the racing

anyway - the pursuit went like this.  i went out *#@(*#ing fast, and then hit the wall like i never have before.  the thin air may make for fast times, but it also leaves you with some serious oxyogen deficit, especially if you don't pace well.  the last three laps, i had a serious case of the dizzies.  in track, the pole lane is marked by a black line on the bottom and red line on the top...  those last couple of laps, i was seeing six different lines, when i knew there should only be two.  when i finished, it took me a few cool down laps to stop as my senses were not all there.  ben told me i had a 3:36, and i was stoked, as that is pretty fast, even with my elevation calculations.







this photo is taken definitely before i started to see quadruple!

i made it into the final and was going to be racing maria calle for bronze.  i raced against her in the qualifier; and she had beat me, just in the last lap... i was leading the whole race.  so, maybe if i paced better, i'd be able to win the bronze medal.  i warmed up and was ready to go, then got the "cut it" sign from ben.  she was sick and scratched from the final.. so i got the bronze uncontested.  cool to win bronze, but would have preferred to race for it.



next day was the team pursuit - i was riding with lauren tamayo and ruth winder.  it was super awesome to get to ride with both of them.  lauren went to the olympics and won a silver medal, so it was a huge deal to ride with her in this event.  she was so helpful in giving advice and pointers to ruth and i.  ruth, i have known for years from racing in norcal, so it was really special to get to be on a team with her.  our qualifier went okay, and we made some adjustments for the final; we were racing venezula for bronze.  they won the final, but we had a much better ride than our qualifying.  it was a great experience riding with lauren and ruth and we'll all be getting better at this even in the next couple of years.




third day was the scratch race.  spoiler alert - i won!  lauren tamayo was awesome and i counterattacked off her, and took a lap.  that is the short of it.  the exciting part though, was my mechanical!  after a few laps solo (as i was taking the lap), i started to hear it - my srm speed censor.  (we'd moved it, as it wasn't picking up... but i guess the used electrical tape wasn't a good idea)  it started of mild enough....whoop whoop whoop, clanking on that 1 million dollar disc wheel.    i just kept going, because what was i supposed to do?  as i re-integrated with the pack, it started getting really loud, Whoop Whoop Whoop.  there were 20 laps left to go in the race, and i had just taken a lap, and all that needed to happen was me to finish and no one else get away, and i'd have won.  and there i am, with this speed sensor rubbing on my wheel!  all i could think of was either the wheel exploding or that censor getting stuck in there.  the the rumbling really started to get even louder WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP - everyone could hear it.  i was never given so much space in a track race.  i was white as a ghost for those twenty laps.  with about 8 laps to go the WHOOP just stopped.  i knew the sensor had fallen off and was just dangling there by a thin wire, and i was just hoping it wasn't going to get caught in the seat stays.  when i saw bell lap, it was such a relief.  i rolled off the track and think i was so rattled about the sensor scare, that it didn't really sink in that i was pan american champion.


the podium ceremony was super cool.  the rider from colombia had a 5 minute conversation with me (in spanish) about something.  i tried to tell her i didn't understand, but she seemed so happy to be conversing with me, that i just faked it.  i also got a sombraro which was super awesome.

here is a video nate koch - thanks nate!

i came back to the hotel room and was totally jazzed to be pan american champion.  i check my email and this is the first thing i see in my inbox:



for real?  &#*@$ you, strava!  and #&%*#@ you julie silva!  jesus, i only got 3 medals at panams.  had i stayed at home to train, i would have had DOZENS of strava medals.

anyways...

day 4 and 5 were the omnium.  i think i am more fatigued writing this blog post than doing 5 days of track racing, so i am going to speed it up.   in short, i got third.  like any omnium, there were ups and there were downs. getting bronze is cool, but it is way cooler to win.  third place does not get a sombraro.  

flying lap

some omnium mass start race

omnium pursuit - i know it was the omnium pursuit, because i always put on more and more rocktape as the week goes on.

 omnium pursuit

 omnium podium

now i am home from mexico city, and of course i am sick.  it isn't super bad, but enough that it is annoying and all i want to do is lie in bed... that slight fever, congestion, and cough.  it makes me unhappy to be sick, but at least it gave me a kick in the pants to get this blog post rolling.

huge thanks to all the usa staff and riders!  ben sharp was super awesome and helpful all week.  ruth and lauren were so awesome to ride with.  missy and maddy were great roommates.  travis smith and jamie staff were so helpful, and kevin, nate, and matt were awesome to be around.  thanks all!

Monday, December 31, 2012

my last day at work and a guide to finding health insurance

Today is my second to last day at work.  In just a few hours, I will be going around singing this song.



Most of you just know me as a bike racer and blogger.  But since I graduated college, I have been dedicated to the non-profit field, working in community health and on policy initiatives aimed at expanding health care access for the uninsured and underserved populations.  My last day is January 2nd.  It is a bit of bittersweet time for me.   And given that it is my second to last day at work and the office is completely empty, and I only have a few more files to sort through, I thought I'd take a little time to reflect on my time and use some of my knowledge to cover a topic that a lot of readers might find helpful: finding health insurance!

My background


For the last five years, I have worked at the Alameda Health Consortium in the program and policy department.  This is a small non-profit that is an association of community clinic in the county.  My work has mostly focused on providing support services to clinics that serve the uninsured population.  I have worked on some truly great projects over the years....creating a website, achealthcare.org that provides comprehensive health care information for people in the county who don't have insurance, translated fully in Spanish and Chinese....organizing marches, rallies, and other advocacy events with clinic patients and staff.... creating a partnership with the community colleges to offer continuing education classes to clinic employees....working with primary care provider by offering training in specialty care....lots and lots of data analysis....work with eligibility enrollment systems and programs.  And I am sure lots of other stuff.

My health insurance through my work will be ending on January 31st, and I have three options: to enrollment in my employer's COBRA program (which will cost me $380/month), purchase a private health plan, or go without insurance.

Given that I have spent my entire adult life working on issues of the uninsured, the third isn't really an option.  Although given the amount of case work I have done and my knowledge of and ability to maneuver the many bureaucracies... I probably am the most prepared to be uninsured!

Anyway, as I am going through the process of purchasing insurance, I thought there may be many readers and bike racers reading this, who were interested in some information.  So, I thought I'd provide a rare, somewhat useful blog post.


Finding health insurance, a short guide:


If you are looking to purchase health insurance, I would first direct you to the website: www.ehealthinsurance.com   I have looked as several, and I think this is the most comprehensive and best site that compares difference insurance plans.  You type in your birthdate and zipcode, and can see a variety of health insurance plans. It is easy to use and you can sort and toggle options in a variety of ways.  You can compare things like your monthly premium, deductible, coinsurance, and copays. 
If those words are greek to you... a premium is what you pay every month, whether or not you use it.  A deductible is how much you pay "out of pocket" until your insurance "kicks in."  If your deductible is $1,000, then you most spend that much money before your policy begins.  Coinsurance of 30... means that, after the deducible, you pay 30%, the plan pays 70%.  Up until your out-of-pocket maximum... meaning, that is most you will ever pay in a given year.  Lastly, copay is what you pay at the door of a visit; usually, you have either a copay or coinsurance. 
After looking at my plan options, I decided to go with a high-deductible plan, as I don't use the doctor very often, and preferred a smaller monthly premium, as I don't have a lot of income coming in right now.  I went with a plan offered by Kaiser Permanente, as that is where I have had coverage for the last 8 years.  I could have decided to go with a plan offered by Blue Shield, Blue Cross, Health Net, etc. - but I have been in the Kaiser system a long time, and didn't feel like change.  I went with the 2700/30 plan, which was a $2,700 deductible, and then a 30% coinsurance, for $149/month.  The reason I went with this plan, was because I could also purchase an HSA to cover my expenses.

A Health Savings Account, is a pre-tax account, where you can set aside money to pay for your health expenses.  It rolls over from year to year (differing from a Flexible Spending Account that many people are familiar with).  In addition to paying my premium, I can also set aside some money to my HSA, that I can use to pay down on my deductible (if needed), and also use for things like dental, optometry and eye glasses, chiropractic, and acupuncture.  I wondered if I could use my HSA to pay for my premium...as then I would be able to pay for my health insurance pre-tax.  You can only use your HSA to pay for your premium if you are received unemployment benefits. If you are doing COBRA through your employer, you can use an HSA to pay for that as well.

I did a bit of research on HSAs.  They are typically offered through banks, e.g. Wells Fargo, Chase, US Bank.  Some have start-up fees, some have small monthly fees for administration, some allow you to invest money, some provide interest to contributions, etc.  All of them I found offer a debit card that you can use to pay for your expenses.  Here is one list I found of HSA administrators.  I decided to go with the OptumHealth HSA.  After the financial meltdown, I closed my bank account, and enrolled in a credit union... so there was no way I was going to open an account with Wells Fargo or Chase.  I don't know much about OptumHealth, other than they support a bike team, so I thought they should get my business!  Also, I was very impressed with their packets and information on their website. 

If you put $500-$1000 in your HSA, you can that pre-tax, and then can use that for health expenses.  (Here is a calculator you can estimate how much savings it would be to you to do this pre-tax)  If you don't use it this year, it rolls over.  I will prefer to set aside a little bit of money each month to put in the HSA, so if I ever had an accident, then I will be able to use the HSA to spend-down on my Kaiser deductible.  It is also kind of nice, because if I go to the chiropractor, accupuncture, or buy some new contacts of glasses, then I can do that all pre-tax.  I don't know how much savings that would really be, but I am counting pennies now, so every bit helps!

Getting denied

 

I did not get denied due to a per-existing condition, but it does happen!   Thankfully, because of the Affordable Care Act (e.g. health reform), no one will need to worry about this after this year!  But in the meantime, if you get denied, here are your options.  The most obvious option is to make an appeal, or apply to another company.  But, there is another option.

As part of the Affordable Care Act, each state is required to operate a "Pre-Existing Insurance Plan" where you cannot get denied because of your health status.  You have to show proof that you got denied from a carrier.  So, keep that letter!  The deducibles vary by state, but I believe they can be no more than $2,000.  For people age 20 - 35, the premiums are usually in the $150 - $250 range.  The above link is the federal government link.  For some states, the federal government administers the program, and for others, the states administer it,  itself.  You might need to dig around a bit. If you are having trouble finding your states info, feel free to email me... bethbikes at gmail.

Under 25


If you are under 25 years old, you can stay on your parents insurance -- if they have employer-based insurance --  and that might be the best option for you.   You should have your parents talk to their employer about this.  The amount of cost-sharing might vary.

Still uninsured?


If you didn't heed anything in this guide, and are still uninsured - a few tips.   If you need primary care, you should go to a community health center.  They typically have a "sliding fee scale" where you can pay less.  Here is a national database where you can search.  This might not be the best source for your information, but it is a start.  

If you have to go the ER, go to the public hospital.  Prices will be less expensive for you, and they are more likely to have charity care programs that deduct your costs.  If you have a bill you can't pay, know your rights and your payment options.  Here is a website to get you started.  Be sure to contact your state Ombudsman.  Each state has one and you can file disputes and they will help you negotiate the process.  These are all free services, so look into these first.

Health Reform?


This will ALL be changing next year... the affordable care act will require everyone to purchase insurance and will offer subsidies and a centralized place ("the exchange") for people to research and purchase insurance.  These things are all getting established currently, and enrollment for your new policies will occur this fall.  Insurance companies will be required to offer a minimum amount of services, and people will be able to get assistance with their policies, based on their income.  Of course, if you receive insurance through your work, not much will change... except that certain employers who offered crap policies will now be required to provide more robust options.  Anyway, as more information on the roll-out process begins, I will write a new post to help guide people through the process.  I, myself, will be enrolling in the exchange - so I can offer some first-hand knowledge.

That is a wrap


This was probably the most boring blog post I have ever written, but hopefully someone found it useful.  If you have questions - please leave them in the comments, as someone else might have the same question, and then I can answer it.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

scrapers - i am specialized

it is no surprise that i grew up a fairly sheltered life in suburbia, ohio.  i went to college in a different (but equally) sheltered environment  at a small liberal arts school in connecticut.  after college i moved out to the bay area to near-berkeley (technically, north oakland, but berkeley pretty much just vomits into this section of town).  this too, sheltered.  the last eight years i have bounced around different parts of oakland. now, i live in east oakland, which i will say is totally legit. 

the first time i heard the word "scraper" was in the spring of 2007, when i was a juror on a murder trial.  the kinda creepy district attorney on the case attempted to give a definition of the term "scraper" to the pretty (square) jury.  i somehow knew something was lost in translation, so i consulted urban dictionary that night, probably against court protocol.


since then, i started noticing scrapers ALL the time... especially once i moved from lake merritt to allendale, and now to eastmont.

scrapers.

I LOVE THEM!  i know i am a super white girl from the midwest with about zero street cred - but i think the rims and colorful cars are so damn cool!!

thus, i am beginning a new photo series...  I AM SPECIALIZED

here are the first two shots from my ride yesterday.




unfortunately i missed the picture of my bike with the AWESOME bright blue scraper with huge rims and the candy red scraper -- as we were both rolling, and i couldn't get a picture of my bike with the car.

note: the photo series is a BIKE with a scraper, not just a scraper on its own.  anybody can take a picture of a car.  join the fun if you can- get a picture of your bike with some sweet scraper.  ....and sorry if you live in the peninsula or marin....or colorado or oregon, etc, etc.... a prius or subaru doesn't count.

#oakland #scraper @IAMSPECIALIZED



Monday, August 06, 2012

NY Times - Yep, I made it!

my awesome blog - which doesn't even have a unique domain name - has been cited by the new york times as expert opinion.

when i got a random email from greg bishop, the journalist who wrote the article, i was a shocked, to be honest.  'me?  a expert opinion on quads?  AWESOME.  i hoped he found me by googling "big quads" or something like that... but i found out the U.S. national coach, Ben Sharp, referred him to my blog....which gives some street cred to the coach who also brought home a silver medal. 

don't believe me? it even made the front page of the online nytimes!  Here is a screenshot i took at 8:15am.


and here is a screenshot i took at 9:30am.  it looks like QUADS bumped lebron james as trending article.  yeah, dog!



anyway, mr. bishop emailed me a bunch of hilarious questions.  they were so awesome, i want to publish the interview in full.  enjoy!

-----------------------------------------------


Let's start with the genesis of the blog. How did it come about? How did quads become a sub-topic? How did you come to write the legendary quad post?

I started by blog (http://bethbikes.blogspot.
com/) when I first started cycling, back in 2007 (there’s an article about how I got into cycling in our region’s weekly: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/

ebx/the-road-less-traveled/
Content?oid=2967113)
Blogging was kind of "the thing" back then, before Facebook and Twitter (http://twitter.com/bethbikes) saturated social media. Tons of people in the biking community in Northern California were blogging, and it became a fun way to communicate with people between the weekend races.  At that point in time, I was definitely blogging more than training.

I measured my quads the first time back in the summer of 2007.  It was kind of a joke, a very skinny friend of mine would kid me that my quads were bigger than her head.  I rolled with it and did a measurement and wrote a blog post about it.  A few other people tried to measure their quads on their own blogs - but they were measuring in the wrong spots.  I mean, cyclists (especially "roadies" ... aka road riders) have an obsession with being skinny - so I had to kick that mindset in the pants, and sort of became a crusader to glorify the big quad.  


How did you learn about the proper way to measure quads? Or is that your step-by-step guide, ie something you made up?
Have you ever had to correct someone?

I made it up.  I mean, I had very big quads at the time – and yeah, maybe they weren’t all muscle … but I wanted to make the rules so I would win!   What’s the saying: "you no playa da game you no maka da rules"?


Anyway, the point of measuring quads is to get the biggest number possible.  It isn't like measuring waist lines for skinny-minnies … this is about bragging about massive (sometimes) muscular quads!  So, naturally, you measure in the biggest spot.  I have to correct people all the time as they almost always measure to low, saying "oh that is just fat up there."   Sure, that may be true …. but people making those kind of comments obviously didn’t get the point of measuring quads.  Go big or go home!


This might be a dumb question, but you say in the blog that you can measure improvement by measuring the quads. What would be indicative of progress? Like how much could someone gain, ie your quad before cycling, afterward?

Quad size does not necessarily correlate with cycling speed, but that doesn't mean huge muscular quads aren't awesome.  Back when I was writing about quads all the time (and doing my first races), I was measuring in above 60cm in diameter!   Now, that’s pretty huge … but nothing in comparison to someone like Jennie Reed (world Keirin Champ and current Olympian for the US Team Pursuit) who’s quads were OFF THE CHARTS!  Nowadays, I am a measly 57cm … which is puny.  But now I am a national champion, so I guess I can't be too down on myself for losing some of my quad-tasticness.  

Anyway, the measuring is a fun thing to do, like after races - it is a good way to bond with competitors (keep things friendly – after all, it is just a bike race!), and to check out their goods up close when you put a tape measure around their leg and give a little squeeze.  But, you probably should get permission before grabbing folks thighs.  Otherwise, you could get a knee somewhere you don’t want.

Regardless of measurement size, quads are a major intimidating factor across all cycling disciplines.  For real - we bike racers ALWAYS check out our competitors’ legs.  Bike racing is totally mental, so the more you can psych out your competitors with intimidating legs, the better.  And there are a few things you can do make your quads look better.  Rub on some of that warming oil before a race - the shine makes the muscles look way bigger and if you’re lucky (or dehydrated), you might even get a little bit of that freaky ‘cut’ look that bodybuilder types get.  Or, you can make sure that your team’s clothing has a design that creates a bulging (not slimming) effect in the quads.  Thinning stripes are a serious no-no.  Some cycling kit designers totally don’t get it! Oh, and when standing around before a race or at a podium presentation, be sure to flex and stand in a way that makes your quads look their biggest.  It’s all about the presentation.  


Speaking of, is there a range of acceptable quad size in cycling?

I am sure that height has something to do with it, but if you are over 60cm you are pretty badass.  And we always measure metric.  It's international friendly.


Who has the biggest quads?

Jennie Reed's quads are pretty big.  I saw them up close and got to measure them once.  It was awesome!  What is most impressive about her quads is that the lower quad muscles by her knees are almost as big as the muscles up by her hip bone.  Dude - that is why she is a world champion!  I know that German guy, Robert Förstemann, could be the Quadzilla of the cycling world … but, Jennie Reed’s are legit.  And she doesn’t use a tanning salon.

Inline image 1
Jennie Reed’s quads and mine


Inline image 2 
Me measuring Jennie Reed’s quads.  World Champ Stripes – FTW!


The skinniest? And do they get made fun of for how small their quads are?

Amber Neben's quads are pretty small, but she can pretty much kick anyone's butt whenever she wants, so I doubt she gets made fun of for it.  She’s a world champion in the time trial and rides more miles in a month than most trackies do in a year … I mean, she probably does five hill repeats while a track sprinter is still resting between their first and second 8 second sprint.  But if Amber ever came out to the velodrome, I’d totally make fun of her quads and make her leg wrestle me.


Any urban legends from the past? (Like this dude had quads the size of oak trees in 1912.)

Those German track sprinters are pretty much legendary.  I don't think any of them have names, even - they just get referred to by their quad size … “Herr Achtzig to the line”



Love this line: Friends and strangers love touching your strong legs.  ... How often has that happened? Unprompted? Any strange stories in that regard?

Well … I force my fiancé (and coach) to massage my legs all the time … so that’s not really unprompted … but, I can say that he loves touching strong legs.  But at this point in our relationship, it’s only my legs he’s going to ever touch again!!  I don’t care if some 61cm chick goes waltzing down the street!


Perhaps another dumb question. But what exercises are best to make quads bigger? How often do you lift? Reps? Most cyclists say they don't do a lot of upper body. I think that plays into this. Do you agree?

Weight lifting can definitely bulk up the quads.  The one year I did Olympic lifting at this awesome Tongan gym in Oakland, I got up over 60cm.  But I also ate a crap-ton of ice cream that year, too - so, I’m not sure if that’s causation or correlation.  Anyway, that was back when I thought I was a track sprinter ... and now that I have conceded to my fate of being an track enduro and (gasp) a roadie - I really don't lift much anymore.  Well, my coach does make me do core work and some weights for my arms to keep my biceps from being laughable.  Biceps can be intimidating, too …so, I think weight lifting is important if you want to intimidate other racers and aren’t interested in getting a bunch of tattoos or body piercings.



Have you ever participated in a quad-off? 

Not really.  Most of my competitions were virtual via the internet.  And we know how much lying goes on over the webs … but I did do some leg wrestling a few times.  That was awesome.  But I think I pulled a muscle in my butt … so, haven’t done that in awhile.

Is there a legendary one (ie the walk-off in Zoolander)?

Is there someone no one else would challenge?

Well … I’d love to see a quad-off between someone like Jennie Reed and Robert Forstemann, but every time I see that picture of Forstemann in his underwear I kind of get the heebie-jeebies … so, maybe not.  


Anyway, I wouldn't challenge someone like Jimmy Watkins because his quads are massive and he’s super intimidating with his scowls and facial hair (note: he’s actually a TOTAL teddy bear).  Oh, and Jimmy is a firefighter, so if Forstemann ever needs the jaws-of-life to pry those undies out of Forstemann’s thighs … he’s your man.

Some US guys told me they had to get specially made jeans. Is that true? If so, where? How do they label the sizes or whatever?
I also heard there used to be some Brazilian jeans store in Philadelphia that cyclists liked to flock to for custom fits. Ever heard of this?

I am SO happy you brought up jeans!  In addition to quad measuring, jeans have been another big campaign on my blog.  Finding jeans - especially for a woman - that fit an athletic body type is next to impossible.  All the jeans we have access to are way too tight in the quads and just overflowing in the waist.  Jean companies are missing a huge market in their designs … athletic women!

In 2008, I began a campaign on my blog for "keirin cut" jeans.  Doesn’t that have an awesome ring to it … keirin cut!  The keirin is the coolest track sprinting event and that’s why jeans designed for athletic women should have that name.  These jeans would be designed to have room for big quads, but also have a smaller waist.  Back then, there was a US domestic professional road racing team, Rock Racing, with Rock & Republic jeans as the title sponsor.  Michael Ball was the CEO, and I sent him a number of emails - all chronicled on my blog  (http://bethbikes.blogspot.
com/2008/08/r-and-quads.html ) - trying to get him to make a new jean design based on this ‘keirin cut’ technology.  He ignored me, because he sucks.  But, I am still hopeful that someone will make some keirin cut jeans and give me 10% of all profits for the genius idea and name.


Lastly, I guess, on the more serious side.
Have you met cyclists who were self-conscious about their thighs? Or is it a sport in which everyone can truly embrace that?

I hope that all cyclists - from track to road to BMX to mountain bike - are proud of their quads and bodies on the whole.  I mean, we pedal hours and hours every week - it’s a full-time job – so often, our bodies are seen as a measurement of our ability.  And that can lead to some crazy concepts of self-worth.  So, I’m a big advocate of embracing quad pride.  And hell, we are always checking out each other's legs anyways … that’s why we cyclists shave our legs … to make the muscles look ripped!  Don't let anyone tell you differently.  



Also, is there a way to quantify quad size relative to performance?
Are there any elite sprinters with small quads? Any folks with huge quads who aren't that great?
Vicky Pendleton's quads don't look that big - and she is amazingly fast.  And she gives the best interviews in the world.  Maybe you can get her to measure them for you?  That would be awesome.  Be sure to send them to me!  And I wonder how big Marianne Vos' quads are – she’s the best cyclist in the world, man or woman.  So, that would be a huge get.  I have always wanted to measure Sarah Hammer’s quads, but I think she might be a germaphobe, so I have never dared to get close enough.  She did take a picture with me once, however, and put her hand on my back, so maybe the germaphobe thing is just hearsay.  As for folks with huge quads that aren’t that great?  … I’m sure there are some sumo wrestlers who could go off the charts – but thinking about those boys on bicycles just makes me giggle.