Why You Should Sign Up For A Cycling Event With Liz Caracciolo

There’s nothing like a cycling event or race to get you stoked on riding your bike. Events are fantastic for providing you something to work toward, for making new friends, for challenging your body, and for pumping some passion back into your relationship with cycling.

Whether you’re interested in an 8 mile fun ride or a 100 mile mountain bike ride, I can’t encourage you enough to get signed up for SOMETHING.

In this podcast episode, I chat with Liz Caracciolo. Liz is the founder of Ignite Events, a race company that “helps women achieve more than just a physical accomplishment.”

We chat about why she’s creating beginner friendly events, how she’s working to make them inclusive, and the importance of building resources that help women work on the mental aspect of sport, not just the physical. We also talk about Liz’s background in triathlon, challenging ourselves by switching up cycling disciplines, and why you should visit Phoenix to ride.

liz carraciolo

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About The Host

kristen bonkoski

Kristen Bonkoski is the founder and owner of Femme Cyclist.

An avid cyclist for a few decades now, she took to cycling during her late teen years — a time when she needed something to help boost her self-esteem and confidence.

Mission accomplished, the sport has become an important part of her life.  Kristen’s favorite disciplines are mountain biking and bike commuting, although you can also find her cranking out a century on her road bike and touring with her husband and son.  If it has to do with two wheels, she enjoys doing it.

Kristen is a certified USA Cycling coach, and she runs Rascal Rides, a website about biking with kids.

IG: @femme_cyclist

Interview Transcript

Kristen  

Liz, thank you so much for being here today. I appreciate your time. And before we get started and dive too far in can you just give us a brief overview of yourself and what you’re up to? And who is Liz Caracciolo? Did I say that right?

Liz  

Yes. Okay. Well done. Okay, intimidating last name. At first.

So, yeah, a little bit about me, um, I, I have been and fortunate to be around, you know, athletes in my life or, or the or my family, I would say or were big into athletics. And so I started early on, you know, playing basketball and spending a lot of my youth and in the college, playing basketball later on. In terms of my athletic journey, I want to coaching women’s sport is kind of my philanthropy to give back for what I felt I had gained from team sports and, and those experiences. And at a certain point in time, I was ready for a new challenge.

And you know, like a lot of folks that are in some type of sport and around their life, you may wind up doing some running in order to practice and so I started to expand that and really be more intentional about taking on new challenges and running more, you know, taking it from exercise to be fit for basketball and turning that more into a primary focus. And like a lot of runners, after doing several marathons, I found myself injured, always having some kind of chronic injury after training. And I kind of paused at that point and said, you know, there’s got maybe a different way a better way to go about doing some endurance activities and still feeling really strong and good. And I was really fortunate. My stepdad had a similar journey due to some knee issues. He found the sport of cycling, and he brought me into it. And so I had a great mentor to get into the sport. And not unlike a lot of triathletes, you start with one sport all of a sudden, now I’m adding cycling. And then you’re like, Well, of course, I can just toss it in a third sport. And so that was a great challenge learning the new activity of swimming, being such a different experience, and pulling it together.

And so I have been doing triathlon now for about 17 years, I probably peaked at my Ironman in 2010, here in Arizona, and then from there, not only continued to cycle, but at that point, a new challenge was looking for a new challenge, and got into mountain biking and wound up doing a series of mountain bike events over about a five year period. And so really, I think, just the theme being that, you know, as I learned, you know, different activity, and sought a new challenge and started to make milestones to that I, you know, I wounded up exploring and feeling confident to do something else. But the cycling has always stayed as a staple, and really is one of the things I’m really passionate about. And that’s just because as you know, you can cycle I always say what I love about cycling is you can go hard and fast and push your limits. And when you’re done, you’re tired and your muscles are tired, but you’re likely not aching or in pain, right. So you know, it’s such a great activity, so many benefits. Beyond that, but it’s one of the things that I found I keep coming back to because of those aspects of it.

Not to mention, I love just being outdoors. And there’s something like feeling like a little kid when you’re on two wheels, no matter what those two two wheels are. So, you know, just a lot about, obviously, my my sort of athletic journey. Otherwise, I’ve been here in the desert for about, Gosh, 25 years now. And I’ve been in business for that entire time I continue to be a student of business, there’s always something to learn. And my my passion there is to unleash the full potential of teams. And so I’ve been leading teams for a large portion of my career. And those two things have have kept me on my toes for for quite some time.

Kristen  

I think your your journey to cycling, how you said you know, “I was a runner, and it was hurting my knees.” And it’s just absolutely shocking to me that that’s the journey of so many women, like I’d say a majority of women I talked to, that’s how they got into biking, because running as a sole sport wasn’t working for them anymore.

Liz

It’s true. And that’s, you know, as we get into sort of not only your podcast, but also Ignite Bike. Um, you know, that’s the intention is that can we bring? How can we encourage and bring more women into the sport, um, you know, on the early stages just for the merits of the sport, as you as you said, it’s not the default after I’m injured.

It’s I was introduced to it, and I’m excited and I’m learning and I’m, you know, taking the cycling journey now. And I’m seeking a new challenge. And so that, you know, as I’m sure with your podcast as a part of the spirit of what you’re doing, and why I’m so passionate about it such a phenomenal sport.

Kristen  

Agreed. And so you mentioned there Ignite, can you tell us what Ignite is?

Liz

Yes. So, um, Ignite is a we like to say that it’s more than just a race company and more than just a race. The purpose of Ignite Events is to create memorable opportunities for personal growth and connection. And so what do I mean by that? What do we do, where we are building and not unlike Femme Cyclists, bringing together a like-minded supportive community, and create avenues for that community to engage with different resources with one another, to support their learning and their growth and the goals they have for their life.

And so while fitness is certainly a theme and brings a lot of the community together, our intention is to to provide additional resources in other areas of one’s life and personal growth. Because we hear from our members, they’re very interested in career fitness and personal coaching and personal development, financial fitness, other areas of wellness. And so our intention is to strengthen the community and expand the resources in the conversation to help in all areas of personal growth.

Kristen  

And how do you plan on doing that?

Liz

Yeah, so the ways of doing that I mean that certainly the the physical events and our upcoming Ignite Women’s Bike Event are occasions to bring people together. And so what we’re doing is everything from having cycling ambassadors or Ignite ambassadors that are hosting events around the valley or rides around the valley to welcome women into the sport in a safe and supportive way.

Additionally, we’re doing things as you mentioned, your YouTube channel, we’re bringing to our members content, and experts and thought leaders in their space. For example, we hosted a a webcast, if you will, with Theresa Seaquist, who is the founder of MOXiLIFE. And she is a expert in minerals. She’s a mineral specialist, I didn’t know that existed. Yeah. Theresa, right. Um, but she, she goes into the science and started her company from a very scientific point of view, to bring together the ingredients in a very pure form, to help not only with day to day wellness, but also certainly with endurance athletes, and helping to ensure better repair and performance. And so bringing it bringing people into our community, that are also about supporting various areas.

So that’s, that’s one example. And over time, we intend to broaden that to other thought leaders in the areas that I mentioned.

Kristen  

And I just want to clarify for people listening because you mentioned The Valley and I don’t know that everybody listening is gonna know what The Valley, so she’s talking about the Phoenix Valley right?

Liz

That’s right. That’s right. I call it the desert affectionately the desert or the valley. So thank you. Yes, yeah, we’re based here. In Scottsdale, Arizona. And, and, yes, but still available to all, of course.

Kristen  

Yes. Which you should, because I’m about to mention this event coming up in April, which is in Fountain Hills, which is, I mean, if anybody sick and tired of the cold and the wet weather and their spring, they should head on down there in April. So tell us about that event?

Liz

Yeah, absolutely. So this is our inaugural physical event. And it was intentional to do a cycling event. One because it as a company that’s supporting of growth and development, we knew that cycling would be a way that some folks who get out of their comfort zone and take on a new challenge through through the support of our community, and be inspired by women that are very experienced in the sport.

And so we have three distances for the Ignite Women’s Bike Event. It is in Fountain Hills, and the distances are 4, 8-mile event, a 20-mile event and a 40-mile event. And we are and today, as we look at our participants that are already joining us, we have women from four different states, we have ages that have registered from 21 to 66, which I just think is phenomenal how the event is attracting women from all different locations and different different levels, in terms of their experience and certainly different stages of their lives. We chose Fountain Hills, because as as you may know, it’s incredibly scenic for our short course, if you will, a lot of that route is around the lake itself.

And that was intentional, such that their community around them their family and friends that want to cheer them on for this new experience they’re having would be very present and can find them on the course there’s three laps around the lake, where the the other distances are further out. And just with great views of the, excuse me, the desert here in Arizona, the mountains in Arizona with the McDowell’s on the right and the Superstitions on the left. And so we’re really excited to host it in such a scenic environment as well.

Kristen  

Yeah, Fountain Hills is really beautiful for anybody who hasn’t been there. And when you talk about the lake, too, there’s a fountain in the middle of the lake that shoots off like once every hour or so. That’s kind of an unusual thing, too.

Liz

It’s so true. It is the largest fountain of its kind in the world. So it has its own, but it’s set with mountains all around it. So it’s just a gorgeous setting. And, again, just felt very fitting to celebrate women in the sport and celebrate women taking on new challenges for their own inspiration and for their own personal growth.

Kristen  

And your advertising. That event is being inclusive. What are you doing to make sure that it’s inclusive?

Liz

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think certainly the intention. Well, the intention, as I mentioned with the distances is to bring women of all different levels together. That could include somebody who’s been on the Peloton for the last couple of years. In fact, you know, one of our recent contest winners for a bike giveaway we had in January has been on the Peloton for two years and didn’t have a bike. And so now she does. She’s been on our Instagram, you know, riding around town and and already had several people in her community that were like, join, now you can join our rides. And so the inclusivity is, is certainly women in this particular case, for Ignite Bike that is supportive of all different levels.

As you know, one of the barriers to entry to cycling is it’s it can be intimidating. There’s equipment involved, there’s the road involved, there’s, you know, technical aspects of not only of the equipment, but certainly For safe riding and things of that nature. And then in addition to that, I think the inclusivity is meant to be, you know, certainly around our resources. And I would say that, and our thought leaders that are coming to the table to bring information, you know, there’s just no boundaries there in terms of, you know, who and what we will bring to the table. So that’s what we mean by inclusive.

Kristen  

It’s obviously very beginner friendly, if you got an eight mile course what to you? Or why is it important to you that it is beginner friendly? And why is it important to you to get more women into the sport?

Liz

Yeah, thanks for that question. You know, because again, it was it was intentional, we could have started out with a run, which might have, you know, attracted a lot more folks early on, but I think it is because of the the benefits of the sport and the fact that it isn’t, it is intimidating. And in that regard from women that I’ve spoken to, they either have not gotten into the sport, perhaps because they don’t have equipment, but there are fears surrounding you know, riding and being on the road, and perhaps the exposure they have had has not been to, you know, again, as welcoming of a community. I’ve been on rides, you know, throughout my, my early years of cycling where, you know, they weren’t, they weren’t no leave behind rides, and you didn’t know that and you wound up riding somewhere, not knowing where to go and not feeling like, like, it was a great experience.

Or being on the road, you know, and having groups of cyclists come by, you know, and they’re an inch away from your handlebars. And, and, you know, and so there’s so many cyclists that are very friendly and interested in bringing folks into the sport, but we also see a lot of folks that are focused on other objectives, you know, in terms of being competitive and, and so for me having a, a short course, if you will, or an entry level distance, meant that didn’t matter the kind of bike you had, right, that’s another aspect and certainly, with triathlon or even longer distance riding bikes can be expensive, their technical equipment, you know, and so you know, whether you’re on a cruiser, or you are on, you know, in our case, even an E-bike, but pedal assist e-bike in only for the short course, we want folks to be able to, to get out there and be on two wheels and feel what that’s like. Yeah, and we know that that with that, folks will start to fall in enjoy the sport.

And then the other piece was bringing together having that short distance, but having more experienced cyclists in view out on a course racing, so that we can show anyone that’s entering the sport, what’s possible, and they can see around them inspiration, and also meet others that can help them on their journey if they’re interested to continue to cycle.

Kristen  

I love that. And I think I’m always surprised to how many women ride their bikes, but never join events. Because there’s really nothing like doing an organized ride or a race to like, have all that energy, the energy is a really, really cool experience. And it’s really motivating, at least for me, and I think for other women, and I think it’s something that everybody should get the opportunity to try.

What advice do you have for ladies who have never done an event before and that are either interested in your event or an event wherever they are in their part of the country?

Liz

Yeah, absolutely. You know what I’ve found. What I’ve found overall as I have tried to do activities is it’s helpful to have a little bit of a plan from somebody that has been there. And that could be in my career, or that could be in my athletics and the goals that I saw is is to to partner with someone it could be in our community and maybe somebody they know, that says, “How do I get started?” And what what, you know, what could this look like, if it’s an eight-mile course we have on our website, you know, practice training plans for an eight-mile distance, right. And, and that’s, that’s one piece of it.

And then the other is just get started, get on your bike, and whether you’re riding around your neighborhood, or if you’re going to a park, or a canal or whatever is comfortable, go ahead and get on the bike and get familiar and comfortable with moving and riding. And, and with that. The last I guess, tip that I would say is just focus on the next step, you know, you can have a plan. And as I definitely probably the most challenging for me was trying to wrap my head around doing something like the Ironman. And I kept telling myself as I as I work worked with a group that had been there, just focus on the next step. And just like you focus on the next step, so this week, I’m going to ride a mile. And I’m going to practice that, see, see how that feels. And then I’m going to ride another model and incrementally add and that’s really the the model that I’ve seen for, for success is just not getting too focused on the end distance, but the journey and just focusing on the next step,

Kristen  

You talk about the importance for Ignite Events, to not just be a physical event, but also to be about personal development and developing mental strength. For you personally, how has cycling or triathlon in sport, in general, helped you in your life?

Liz

Yeah, I think that’s the biggest theme is that on the onset, you don’t know how it’s possible, you don’t know how your body is going to going to handle 140.6 miles of anything. You don’t know what, how you’re gonna, what a 50-mile ride means. And so, you know, the main thing that I’ve learned is, is some of the guidance that I’ve given is, have have some experience around you so that you can get some guidance on a plan, and take the first step, and know that and have faith that the next step is there, the next step is there. And that’s how the confidence is built. So even in starting Ignite and hosting our first bike event, those were new things, there wasn’t a concrete roadmap.

But the biggest things were knowing the next steps and getting started. And that leads to that may lead to riding around your neighborhood to finding a few folks in our community that you can ride with and learning more from them and learning about, you know, what it what, then it would look like to go from eight miles to 20 miles. So that’s, you know, I think getting started is always a big factor and not overthinking the end goal. Until you’re you know, you’re you’re making some progress and building your competence along the way.

Kristen  

You mentioned doing the Arizona Ironman, which is amazing, by the way, very impressive. Um, you’re doing triathlon, you’ve mentioned mountain biking, obviously road biking, what is your favorite discipline?

Liz

Um, you know, it definitely is cycling. And I and I would say, I mean, I, I have an affection for all of them in different ways. And I have found, you know, kind of a sweet spot, you know, with each of them. And swimming, I would say was the hardest. But cycling is still in my been, fundamentally, if I had sport, if I had the other sport, if I didn’t have a choice of just one it would be cycling. And it’s for the reasons we mentioned. It is, it has been, for me personally the least injury-prone.

I really enjoy being out in the environment, and seeing places and spaces from that point of view, meaning I have traveled in different places of the world, and I’ll typically rent a bike and I will experience the city or the location, you know, on two wheels. And I believe there’s a great freedom in that. Not unlike when you’re you’re a kid and you get your bike a bike for the first time. There’s just tons of freedom in that and I still feel that. And so being out in the elements being able to traverse distance and push my body with without the worry of the injuries is why it’s it just is a favorite for me. And that’s not to say I think we all know Yes, of course you can experience injuries and there are measures and things to do like any sport, in terms of keeping any chronic injuries away, you know be that stretching be that different therapies and activities to do but, but for me personally, I’ve found it to be the most favorable to my body and allowing me to continue pushing my limits, um, probably for the rest of my life.

Kristen  

I know that most of the women listening are cyclists, but maybe not a lot of them are triathletes. Why do you think that female cyclists should try triathlon? Or should they? And if you think they wouldn’t encourage women to do that, what advice do you have for them?

Liz

Yeah, great. I love that. Um, you know, I would say that cycling is the longest duration of the triathlon. And it’s the longest distance. And so the the key the marquee events, this group is already highly experienced in why consider expanding to a triathlon. If you’re interested in a new challenge, you can always ride longer distances, you can always ride different terrains, and challenge yourself through cycling. But I found as with anything with personal growth, there is a real energy that comes and a real happiness that comes from conquering something new. And adding in the sport of swimming is so different than any other sport. It’s also pretty favorable to one body as well. And I and the challenge is, you know, is not only learning something new, but putting them together on a race day. There’s a complexity there and an experience there to comfort there to gain all which is possible and doable.

But I think it just creates that additional stimulation and challenge out there. For some for somebody who’s already expert at cycling, or has not accomplished a lot in cycling and is looking for something a little bit more. I think that cyclists sometimes they say swimmers have the advantage, but it’s the shortest distance of and timing of the event. And so cyclists I think have a real advantage jumping into triathlon, that if you know, they were, if someone was strong in the other disciplines,

Kristen  

I actually really agree with that. I’ve not done a lot of triathlon, I’ve only done a few but um, went into them. Terrible swimmer, really not that great of a runner either, but I did okay, because yeah, I was great on the bike. So I would agree with that, like, if you can ride a bike, you’ll probably do just fine.

Liz

Yeah, you know, I think what’s interesting, I mentioned about swimming. So I was doing triathlon, and I said to my coach, at the time, “I will sign up for the Ironman, when I enjoy swimming, like when I feel like I’m enjoying it, and not just practicing it.” And that took me some time, I’d say it took me about, you know, half, half a year or longer. And one of the keys was being out in open water. And really being less contained by a pool, seeing the lines on on the ground and really feeling my body more having to trust my direction, and my sighting and swimming out of the open water. We have many lakes here, believe it or not, for those that aren’t familiar with Arizona, some great overwater spaces. And the combination of open water and form really getting formed down was was the key to the enjoyment that I felt and then the competence I built.

And so that one is unique, but what it does is I think as a, as a cyclist, we all know, yes, you can get some chronic injuries being over the bike, you know, certainly doing the same thing over and over, always has some taxing elements to our body. And what’s really great about triathlon is you’re mixing that up, you the majority of days of the seven days you’re training or six days, you’re training, you’re doing more cycling than any other activity. In fact, you’re running on average once a week, which you know, keeps the keeps the injuries low. But going between the two is just a great are the three sports is is not only mentally challenging and fun, but for your body, it gives it a different challenge and also different recovery, if you will. So I’m going to go out and I do a long run a run. And then I’m going to get on the bike on a different set of muscles right that I’m using, even though the legs are heavy, I’m going to get in the pool different set of muscles. And so you know, I think that I you know, it’s it’s obviously an element of CrossFit and most people know the benefits of CrossFit. So, you know, I think it’s again, totally possible but the swimming part, technique matters more in that sport than any of the others I’ve probably done in my lifetime, but certainly running and cycling. And that’s not to say they don’t have you know, that technique doesn’t matter. However, swimming in a way that is efficient through water, you can all appreciate, you know, being on a tri bike is more aerodynamic than a road bike, and therefore, you’re less tired, you go faster, because you’re dealing with less wind. Well, now you’re in the water, you’re pushing against the water. And so how aerodynamic you are in your form. It’s just this neat sport where it’s not the harder you go, it’s how aerodynamic you are in the water.

Yeah, so that was a you can hear from me, I just each aspect has their own little challenges. And then on top of that, having done triathlon yourself, you also have that fun little space around transitions, and how you can you know, put yourself in a greatest position for a smooth transition and you know, get your body ready for the next activity. So there’s a lot of things to play with in triathlon and to tweak and to hone and your experience cyclists I know love that, as they work on their cadence and their power. And, you know, and all the science behind cycling and really efficient cycling. It’s kind of, you know, it’s kind of exponential, if you will, in triathlon. There’s, there’s no board on there.

Kristen  

Phoenix. I used to live in Mesa, it’s one of my favorite places for women, and everybody should go there in the winter, but spring time, get out of the cold. What are some of your favorite rides or places to ride in the Phoenix Valley?

Liz

Oh, great. So I’m in the North Valley. So I would say definitely love riding up – So one of my favorite rides is a 50-mile ride that starts in north Scottsdale and takes me the back way through the fountain through Fountain Hills. So I don’t know if you’ve ever done Nine Mile. I’m all you know, a normal road but I’ve done it both ways. Right so it depends on the mood I could do it the reverse way or I can go the other way can either go up Nine Mile or down Nine Mile. Either ways you know you don’t avoid a hill because you’re either gonna come up out of fountain hills and go uphill on Shay or, or you’re going to do the opposite. So. So that’s one of my favorites. It’s seen it gets also it’s also personal. My stepdad, as I mentioned, got me into the sport of cycling. And I did my first 50 mile ride with him, that was the route. And unfortunately, he’s no longer with us. I’m happy to have him for you know, 23 years of my life. So it’s still a favorite for sentimental reasons as well.

Otherwise, I definitely enjoy you know, been on the north side. There’s some great rides. I just love that there’s just great distance opportunities so you can go right up Pima head out to Cape Creek, carefree, go through the little town there that’s always fun and scenic. And then head out on the Sonoran Highway, which is goes by a couple I forget the name of it, it goes by a mountain preserve and there’s just some wide open road that’s not too heavily traveled. So the Sonoran Highway is also a fun place to go and you can get great distance you have a lot of long shots so if you’re doing any time trial training or just want to get some really go hard and fast and go straight and not have to think too much. Those are some great routes that I that I like.

Kristen  

Yeah, the one really great thing about Phoenix area riding is those like long highway like highway safe highway stretches where you don’t have traffic lights, like beautiful scenery. I’m totally spoiled by Phoenix riding and I really don’t like road riding anyplace else now.

Liz

Well, it’s funny you mentioned Mesa because I won’t forget I did. I one year down in Mesa. Most of them again are kind of close to my proximity my house and where I live, you’re either going uphill or downhill there’s a lot of uphill as you know, around the area. And so I never really I had my average speeds, but they were going uphill and downhill. So I joined this group ride out in Mesa, which you know, the heart of it’s pretty flat. Yeah. And I kept looking down and saying and then really this fast. I had no idea because I was not on flat roads at all.

Kristen  

Okay, right. Yeah, I lived in North East Mesa. So right on the edge of the Tonto National Forest and go out Bush Highway and loop around on Beeline and that was a great one.

Liz

Yeah, yeah, a lot of time on the line. That’s that’s a part of Arizona Ironman course. And so we get a lot of training there. Um, Some parts of it don’t have don’t have the greatest cycling lanes. So. But yeah, I mean, it’s one of the nice things like I think, in Arizona in general, because because of the fact that climate so favorable, there are so many bike lanes, we have a huge cycling community. And even when I’m out, I’m so encouraged to see more and more women out there. And if I’m, if I have a weekend where, you know, I seem to have too many chores, I’ll just go out on the road. And I see so many cyclists, and then I’m just, you know, and now I need to get on my bike. So it it’s really self-fulfilling that way by being in a community like this.

Kristen  

Yes, community does help a lot. And we’re almost out of time. But I’ve got three final questions for you. But before I ask those, where can people go find out more about Ignite Events? And about this event happening in April? And also where can people connect with you?

Liz

Yeah, excellent. No, thanks. Um, so we are at our website is ignite events. The key there is it’s ignite with one E, then events, so not a double E. That’s how you’ll find us. We are also on Instagram, as well as Facebook. And I can be reached at Liz dot car ACC at Ignite events.com. And be happy to hear from any of your participants and listeners as well regarding the event or anything else.

Kristen  

And we’ll include links to those in the show notes as well, if you’re looking for any of those final three questions. The first one is what bike or bikes do you ride.

Liz

So I have a triathlon bike, a road bike, and a mountain bike. And when I’m tri training, I’m on my tri-bike. I that now I’m currently on my road bike predominantly. And this is a great time of the year for mountain biking. But I’ve taken a little bit of a break. You talked, you’ve talked about the differences of different bikes, etc. I love mountain biking. But it certainly has some rigor around it, the neck and the back. And having having experienced some of that last year, I held off for a little bit going back, because most of the trails I do in Arizona are not super forgiving, as you know. Pretty, pretty rocky. And so it’s the road bike that I’m on right now.

Kristen  

And where Oh, there’s one I’m actually excited to ask you because you had mentioned that you’ve traveled lots of places and you’d like to travel. So where’s the your favorite place you’ve ever ridden your bike?

Liz

That would absolutely be in and around Prague. Oh, wow. Yeah, I had an opportunity to get there. And while not only riding around the city, and up to the castle, and over the bridge bridges there, everything’s scenic and beautiful. There’s also some great routes out of the city out into the countryside along lakes. And it’s easy to run a bike in town to do that. But by far one of my most favorite places, memorable places riding overseas.

Kristen  

That’s amazing. Another place to go explore because I have not been there. And final question is what do you love most about biking?

Liz

Oh, gosh, um, I, I really, I really do feel like a little kid. You know, it’s, it’s it being out in the elements of being on two wheels, the freedom, the energy that that I’m getting and the ability to just, you know, go and explore new places without it being very complicated. Is are some of the things that I enjoy most about cycling. And it’s a little I just say for you mentioned you asked earlier about you know, for your community a lot of them are cyclists a lot of them may be on the road and if they are looking for a new challenge in triathlon, not not their their thing then I would go for mountain biking because if you do want to feel like a kid and and also be well be really challenged nothing like playing in the dirt and it’s a whole different dynamic being out in that setting and you know different things to focus on as you now whole different challenge right? I don’t I the the difference for me of I don’t I’m curious for you it for me the difference between sight road cycling and mountain biking is they’re very significant, right?

They’re very different sports. But on on the dirt and in on on the trails. It requires so much more focus mental focus for me than on the road. because again here in Arizona, if you’re not focused, it doesn’t end well. Yeah, and are between the cactus and the rocks. It’s really unforgiving. And I found my I went into mountain biking after doing the Ironman because I was I had, you know, I needed to do something different, but I still wanted to ride. And what I found very early on is that over time, my ability to focus intensely, had gotten shorter and shorter. And that’s not good on the on the mountain bike. And so not only challenge challenged me physically in a very different way. And certainly learning how to maneuver a mountain bike and the different elements of that, I also had to really practice my my mental acuity and being able to focus on one activity, if the dirt in front of me for extended periods of time. And so I again, I’m super endeared to mountain biking as well, for very different reasons.

Kristen  

Yeah, I love that you mentioned that that, you know, if you want to challenge you don’t necessarily have to leave cycling, no have to go do something new, you can just try a new discipline of cycling. And I think that’s so true for me, because mountain biking is my passion, that’s my first love. But there are still days where maybe I just don’t want to push my body quite as hard. So getting on the road is really nice. And I also do almost all of my commuting on bike, I very rarely drive a car. So that’s another way I can be on my bike. This year for a brand new challenge, I’m gonna try bikepack racing, which I’ve never done before. So yeah, you can always find something new to try to give your body a break and give yourself a new challenge without necessarily having to lead cycling.

Liz

That’s so true. And you know, for mountain biking, there’s sort of an endless amount of challenges, because there’s just so many different types of trails. Yeah, and, and the technical aspect of mountain biking is a whole nother learning journey. But again, for anyone who’s intimidated by that, I would just encourage you to find a group that you’re going to get started with on a on a maybe more moderate course. And just follow them follow what they do and get take some tips from them. And the best way to gain gain confidence in mountain biking. I mean, you probably have a lot more tips than that. But that was you know, one of the keys. The other is know the trail because my getting bounced off the bike had to do more with you know, not not probably trying a trail is a little more aggressive than I knew it was gonna be.

Kristen  

Yeah, go I mean, Phoenix mountain biking for anybody who has not been there in Arizona in general is like some of the most technical riding anywhere. So if you can learn to ride mountain bikes in Arizona, you’ll probably do just fine anywhere else you want to go.

Liz

Well, yes. And then do you also do night night rides?

Kristen  

Yeah, yeah, so not a ton. Um, when I lived in Arizona, I used to do the 24 hours in the old pueblo. So I’d have to like do night riding to train for that. And once I moved to it and other great things, but the reason I didn’t Arizona is it’s so hot, right like so riding night in the summer really early on. It’s very doable. But so since I moved away from Arizona, I don’t do it very much anymore, but I will be doing more of it this year cuz I’m going to do that the bike pack racing so I’m gonna be riding the dark for that.

Liz

Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah, most of my ridings been out in other than near the house, which is the front of McDowell’s the backside Pemberton trail, things like that. And in the McDowell preserve a lot of obviously lots of distance you can get in lots of different types of train, get good. Z rides, has great rides out there, as well. But yeah, I just, that’s a phenomenal add to the mix. Mountain biking.

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