CycleOps and an Air Force captain – how a bike trainer made my day

I’m four weeks into my current training cycle, and haven’t blogged – I could make a bunch of excuses about work and life in general being insane (which is true), but I am TOO EXCITED to go into all that.

Why am I so excited, do you ask? Because people’s AMAZING generosity just astounds me, every day.

So here’s the back story: I’ve been a reader of Frayed Laces‘ blog since I discovered it last summer; she’s a very talented amateur triathlete with a very devoted readership. She has several sponsors that allow her to offer semi-regular product giveaways. A few weeks ago, she had the biggest giveaway to date: a CycleOps trainer that retails for $399.99.

Now, I’m not a cyclist. I don’t even have my bike here in Pittsburgh, though I plan on bringing one here eventually, and usually just ride a bit on the stationary bike at my gym for cross-training. My big brother, on the other hand, is a HUGE cyclist.

Really, though, we’re a pretty big biking family. We did a lot of family rides, and my brother (let’s call him Captain Cyclist, or CC for short) very quickly started dominating these rides. He’d fly down hills, cruise way ahead of us, and loop back to us, only to vanish again. We grew up on mountain bikes, but when he was big enough, he started buying my mom’s bike (my dad’s didn’t have dropped handlebars), eventually buying a bike at a garage sale and revamping it a little. About halfway through his college career, he had saved enough money to buy himself a nice road bike (what brand, you ask? I have no idea, I tell you. Because I am not a cyclist. Rest assured, I will take note next time I see him) and started churning out longer rides. It was mostly cross-training throughout college, since he did crew, but since he graduated it’s his main form of cardio.

As most of you probably know (the whole two or three people who read this blog), he’s also in the Air Force. He was commissioned in December 2005 and has served several short tours, first as a KC-135 pilot (a tanker that refuels other jets, about two and a half to three month deployments) and most recently piloting the MC-12 (a six month deployment). During the most recent deployment, he logged over 1,000 miles on an indoor bike.

For the last three years, he has lived in Spokane on his current assignment, and later this year will be moving to Las Vegas for his next assignment: flying drones. Pros? More infrequent deployments (though longer). Much cheaper to visit him (Traveling to Spokane from the east side of the country is $500 plus on a good day, and is always 2 or more stops). Cheap real estate (apparently he and my sister-in-law put an offer down on a townhouse!) Cons: Las Vegas heat. Sure, it’s a desert, but the summer nights are still BLAZING, which means a lot of his summer rides he’ll be confined indoors.

I leapt into action when I saw the giveaway, knowing that FL tends to use random number generators to select the winner (really the only fair way) but told my story (much briefer, of course) anyway about how I really wanted to give my brother a top notch trainer for his indoor rides. I mean, someone might be reading them for content, so why not try?

Fast forward several days later: the blog says I lost. It’s okay. I never win anything. I know everyone says that, including when they win, but it’s true. I was really more disappointed about this one because it wasn’t just a big box of Gu (which, I mean, would be awesome), but a TRAINER for my one and only brother (who is impossible to buy gifts for, btw, as all guys are).

This morning, I’m taking a little break from work and check my email. I have a comment on this blog awaiting approval – from Frayed Laces! She’d been trying to get in touch with me and told me to email her. I started to get really psyched, but tried not to expect too much. It might be something completely unrelated. What, I didn’t know, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I email her, and a little while later hear back. CycleOps had seen my comment, and wanted to send CC a trainer!

“Good news.  I found a trainer in our storage that I would love to send to runsforcookies for her brother.  It’s not brand new and has a few bumps and bruises on the frame, but that’s from being shipped around and showed at events and shows.  It would still be treated like/have a warranty, so hopefully that would be ok.  If you wouldn’t mind reaching out to the blogger and getting her/her brother’s contact info I can get the trainer on the way.   I thought it’d be good karma to send him a trainer.”

Me: HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT. (silently. I was at work, after all, and sit about fifteen feet from Boss man)

What was REALLY funny was I had emailed CC about twenty minutes early with the coupon code for 15 percent of CycleOps stuff that FL had just posted on twitter. After I got this email, I wrote to him again: “…Umm, nevermind. I just won you a free trainer!”

Naturally, I freaked out on twitter – favorite response came from my twitter pal @Amy Bushatz: Big thanks to @CycleOpsPower for going above and beyond to just do something nice for an Airman! #SOT !

Of course when I heard from CC (he called in response to my email, what a guy) he had his usual unruffled tone on. Seriously, I could get him a power meter for over a grand and he’d be like, “Cool.”

But despite a brotherly underwhelming response (trust me, it’s typical), Frayed Laces: seriously, thank you. Thank you for being an amazing blogger, for attracting awesome sponsors, and for getting in touch with me to help make this happen! And CycleOps? Seriously. I’m beyond thrilled. I may not be a cyclist now, but if I turn into a cyclist and/or triathlete, I guarantee you, I will be a very loyal customer of yours.

The things folks will do for our troops: truly amazing!


Well, okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system (ha!), where was I? Okay, I’m four weeks into training for the Air Force Half-marathon (Saturday, Sept. 17). Instead of giving a full blow-by-blow, here are the highlights.

Week one happened to coincide with awful GI distress, meaning a skipped tempo run. Which blew, but it was okay! Because I listened to my body. It also coincided with the aforementioned brother visiting, as well as, of course, my sister-in-law. So on my tempo run day, I did a short easy run… then went for a leisurely bike ride with CC and his wife. Friday I didn’t run at all, instead going for a walk in Frick Park with my visitors. It was a really nice visit, and I honestly don’t have any regrets about missed runs. Well, at least not anymore.

Week two went much more according to schedule. I actually did pretty well on the first speedwork – I mentally copped out a couple tops but manage to nail my splits anyway. The long run was, unfortunately, a bonk fest, which involved walk breaks, thogh some of these were due to NB’s recovering ankles (downhill impact was painful, so we walked the steeper ones).

Week three I had a very successful tempo run, even in the gnarly heat and humidity, and each split was faster than the first. My long run (10 miles) felt good for a while, until random knee pain after a long uphill, and then random ankle hill at the top of another hill which forced me to walk down my favorite downhill. Then I just ran out of gas in the last quarter mile. I think the heat/humidity has been killing me. Need to come up with new strategies.

Week four (aka last week) was… interesting. NB and I had to run out of town early in the week, and did our easy three miler in unfamiliar territory. Unfortunately my Garmin refused to lock on satellites (I gave up after about five minutes) and then the route I mapped wasn’t the route we took, so we HOPE it was three miles. when we got back, I slept in (we got home at 1:30 a.m/ the previous night) so I decided to enjoy the randomly gorgeous weather by going for a random 4.5 mile trail run in Frick. I run-walked some portions to save it for the next day, especially since I was zonked from our trip, but the single track section was gloriou s- still my absolute favorite. Sunday’s 10 miler ended up being solo, as NB’s new shoes (unfortunately Brooks Addiction aren’t as cushiony as Asics Gel-Evolution for his big frame and very flat feet) and he walked home while I ran the last 8 miles. I didn’t have that great of a run, but did a couple pretty solid miles in the middle, including a sub-goal pace split. At the very end I was running interval pace, in absolute agony, but dying to get it over with and just cruising along.

This week is a recovery week – at last! I’m going to try to use it as an opportunity not just to regroup but to gain some mental confidence. I’m definitely doing hill repeats this week, likely tomorrow. I’m trying to hydrate like crazy in anticipation, as it’s supposed to be 75 by 5 a.m., and well over 90 percent humidity. Joy.

And now, to call CC and hear about his Vegas plans, and try to see how excited he REALLY is (maybe get a “sweeeet” out of him. That’s always a good one).


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I'm a 35-year-old writer and runner. This is my running blog.

4 thoughts on “CycleOps and an Air Force captain – how a bike trainer made my day

  1. First of all, no credit should go to me at all! It was all CycleOps’ doing. But I must say your story on my giveaway really did tug at my heartstrings. I’m really happy that CycleOps was able to help out your brother, and can’t wait to hear what he thinks about it!

    1. Hey, you have the relationship with CycleOps, and hosted the giveaway, and tracked me down – I’m gonna give you some credit, k? K. Glad we had this talk.

      Unfortunately in true My Big Brother form, he gave me his usual “cool” response, but after a kick-in-the-pants from Mother Dearest he said that he’s going to send a thank you note to CycleOps, as well as mention how big a fan he has been of the company for years. Apparently my dad’s old trainer, which my bro inherited when he became the cyclist in the family, was also CycleOps (it only recently kicked the bucket, I think).

  2. Whoah – that is awesome! I have a cheapie Bell Motivator (but CycleOps lift for my front wheel); and I entered FL’s contest too. So great the way CycleOps read the responses and got involved!

    1. Right? I have SO much respect for the company now – if I turn cyclist/triathlete, I’ll definitely be a customer of theirs. What a nice thing to do for an Airman! 🙂

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