Women on Bikes California

Practicing Balance

Kellie riding for the first time at the Velo Center in Carson.

Kellie riding for the first time at the Velo Center in Carson.

My body was in perfect equilibrium balanced between fear and excitement. At last I was going to ride the Velo Center velodrome. Not only was I riding, I had the opportunity to get track certification so I could ride on this monster during open sessions. The notice was posted on the Major Motion recreational Cycling Facebook page: track certification classes available. I jumped at the opportunity without a second thought as I usually do. I can be very compulsive which often leads to me pulling my foot out of mouth. You think I would have developed some control after 61 years, but my excitement overcomes what little self-control I have.

But wait a minute! We are a group of ten and there is only one other women.  And these folks are much younger than me: most in their 40’s. My stomach started doing back flips! Would I be able, physically, to hang with these cyclists?

Track fact: The Velo Sports Center is the first and only permanent indoor track of international standard in North America.

So now I’m at the Velo Center being fitted for a track bike.  A track bike is a different kind of bike that also had me nervous: it has one gear, no brakes and no flywheel so you HAVE to keep pedaling: you cannot coast. The original fixie.You stop the bike gradually by exerting backward pressure on the pedals. Settle down stomach!

Our coach taught us how to start and stop with a track bike and sent us onto the apron of the track to practice. So far I’m good.  She identified the different lanes on the track and assured us that we will be successful in learning these new skills.  Even a granny! She took us around the track; follow the leader style, so we could get a feel for how fast we had to ride to stay on the track.  I had to find my balance to stay upright.  If you ride too slowly you'll slide off the banked track.  

Track fact: Maximum inclination: 45 degrees. 

I love the feel of the track as the wood gives, rebounds and creaks under my wheels. It feels alive.  Track fact: Approximately 33 miles of Siberian Pine were used to create the cycling track.  The more I ride the track, the more comfortable I’m feeling.  My nerves begin to subside. The more skills I learn the more I'm balance between fear and excitement. Excitement wins! Then another emotion takes hold: joy. This is fun!  The fun I experienced when Dad took off my training wheels and I balanced on a two-wheel bike. The fun I had as a kid riding to exotic places, like the pet store or the movies on my bike.

Track fact: 250-meter international size track.

I’ve completed three training sessions and will need a few more to get my certification. Riding the track is a wonderful way to get a workout: the “weather” is always the same since it's an indoor, climate controlled facility.  I was able to get into a balanced groove while completing my training exercises since the normal distractions you encounter on the road are missing (cars, stop signs, traffic signals, etc.). And the best part? I have a valid excuse for buying another bike!  Now it’s your turn. Velo Center: http://www.stubhubcenter.com/velo Address: 18400 Avalon Blvd, Carson, CA 90746 Phone:(310) 630-2064.

About Kellie Morris

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Kellie Morris did her first multi-day, fund-raising bike ride in 2002 after a co-worker dared her to take up the challenge - the seven-day ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. In 2010 Kellie was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease: Mixed Connective Tissue disease that left her so weak she could barely dress herself. Through medication, dietary changes and exercise she was able to recover much of her strength.  Kellie does most of her local trips on her trike including shopping, running errands, attending fitness classes, visiting friends and even riding to church. In May 2013 Kellie became a certified bicycling instructor via The League of American Bicyclists LCI program. She now teaches throughout Long Beach and Los Angeles, writes the "We All Ride Bikes" column and hosts podcast for PedalLove.org. She is a co-founder of the brand new Carson Bicycle Coalition. Image by Lisa Beth Anderson. Find out about Kellie's private and group classes by contacting her at kellie_morris(at)hotmail.com.

It's Time to Shine!

Kellie by Lisa Beth Anderson. All images in this blog are from the same photo session with Lisa.

Kellie by Lisa Beth Anderson. All images in this blog are from the same photo session with Lisa.

Last year the Pedal Love folks told me that they wanted to take professional pictures of me. Ugh! All I could think about was that I am 50 pounds overweight. No one would want pictures of me on a bike. Aren’t all bicyclists slim and trim? Wouldn’t people judge me? Maybe if I prayed really hard, God would make sure that photo shoot would not happen or maybe I would wake up 50 pounds lighter. 

My head can go to ridiculous places.  When I settled down and sat with all my emotions, I was able to see and acknowledge my fears of being judged.  My fears of not being good enough.  When I saw my fears, I could then decide what I was going to do about those fears. I do have a choice on what I will do when facing my fears.

A crazy thought occurred to me: I could choose to enjoy the process.  What would that look like? How would that feel?  I picked the best outfits I had. You know the ones that everyone complements you on? I picked those outfits. I even pulled out the very high heels I never wear (why did I buy those things?) I shaped my eyebrows.  I dusted off the makeup and artfully applied it, using all the tricks I had learned. I even got a haircut so my natural was looking neat and sweet.

I packed up my two bicycles, wardrobe and makeup into the car and drove to downtown Long Beach. I may be big but I still could look my best.

As the photographer Lisa put me at ease, I thought about how much I enjoy riding my bikes and that I wanted that to show in the pictures. I want to show that no matter your size or age, bicycling is for you. It was time for me to shine.  

When I finally saw the pictures, my first thought was who is that? I didn’t recognize myself.  The pictures were beautiful! I was beautiful!  I was beautiful because I radiated with the joy I feel riding a bicycle. I am proud to share the pictures and have seen them published in Momentum magazine, the Pedal Love site and for my Facebook page: We All Ride Bikes.

Kellie will teach her short sweet "Street Savvy" class Saturday February 21st in Long Beach. Here's the link with all of the details: https://deluxesocial.live.promojam.com/weallridebikes

Kellie Morris did her first multiday, fund-raising bike ride in 2002 after a co-worker dared her to take up the challenge - the seven-day ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. In 2010 Kellie was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease: Mixed Connective Tissue disease that left her so weak she could barely dress herself. Through medication, dietary changes and exercise she was able to recover much of her strength.  Kellie does most of her local trips on her trike including shopping, running errands, attending fitness classes, visiting friends and even riding to church.

In May 2013 Kellie became a certified bicycling instructor via The League of American Bicyclists LCI program. She now teaches throughout Long Beach and Los Angeles, writes the "We All Ride Bikes" column for PedalLove.org and Pedal Love podcast for KPFK's Bike Talk, and is the co-founder of the brand new Carson Bicycle Coalition.