PTM Blog Reports and Newsletters
Armed Forces Cycling Classic
If there’s one thing I learned in the past year, it’s my appreciation for my health and for new experiences that challenge me as an athlete. I never expected a three-hour ride in Arlington would be one of those experiences, but the Challenge Ride at the Armed Forces Cycling Classic in early June turned out to be the perfect kickoff for my summer riding season.
With COVID-19 restrictions easing, the race organizers had to be flexible with how many cyclists could register. I put my name on the waitlist a week before the event, thinking that maybe I would get into the ride next year. As I was going to bed on Tuesday night, my phone buzzed from a new email telling me I had been moved off the waitlist into Saturday’s ride! I stared at the ceiling wondering, “this is good news, right?” It had been more than a year and a half since my last “race” and I was curious how I was going to feel on a starting line again.
The Challenge Ride is far from the weekend’s main event because USA Cycling’s Pro Road Tour zoomed through Arlington after we did, but I still got into the competitive mindset when I woke up that morning. Challenge Ride participants have three hours to complete as many 6.5-mile-ish loops as they’d like; I set my sights on nine laps not only because it would be easy to keep track of three laps per hour, but also because it would be a good chance to see how I felt riding a half ironman distance.
I showed up about an hour before the start and took advantage of free parking a mile away from Crystal City. As I made my way down the quiet streets to pick up my numbers and feel out the course, I still wasn’t convinced that this was really happening. A 20-minute delay allowed the long line of cyclists to finish picking up their numbers and line up. And then we were off!
This is probably a good time for me to explain that I had never done an event like this before. My only experiences with competitive cycling were my bike legs in a few triathlons and a virtual gran fondo in 2020 with friends. So I when I say I had no idea what to expect I am not kidding. It even took me a few laps to realize drafting was legal; imagine my surprise when I looked behind me midway through the race to see a long row of bikes lined up behind me. Honestly, it made me feel excited to pull the group for a while before switching with someone else.
Laps 1-3 went by quickly as I wove my way through the crowds. I felt bad for the several cyclists who had to deal with flats in their early laps and fortunately did not have any interruptions myself. During laps 4-6, I was still on pace for my goal, but the field was thinning out from its original size of more than 1000 cyclists. It didn’t take long for me to recognize when I was listening to cicadas and when I was listening to the incoming buzz of cyclists about to lap me (again).
As I began my seventh lap, I started to wish I had spent less time daydreaming about the event and more time checking the forecast to realize how hot it would get. It felt brutal, but I kept telling myself that I just needed to start the ninth lap and adrenaline would probably kick in to get me to the finish. I did, and I completed that ninth lap just as they were setting up for the next race. It was anticlimactic to walk my bike across the finish, but I remained grateful for the experience. Join me for more loops in 2022!
Submitted by Maggie Lloyd
#PTMVotes was a campaign that we were thrilled to initiate. In this campaign, we engaged in the reality of the times for those who can and cannot vote. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “Voting is the foundation stone of political action.“ Policy, court decisions and elections decide where and how we live, thereby directly impacting our lives. It's a beautiful thing to see athletics embrace something that is a key part of all of our lives.
We learned so much about the community we've been building through this campaign and we've been thrilled for the support we've gotten from all of you to do this!
As we wait for results for the elections we want to take the opportunity to thank all of you for sharing your voting stories, for working the polls, for organizing, for doing Get Out The Vote (GOTV) work, for voting for the first time, for asking for resources and above all for engaging in the collective power of voting. For us, politics is not divorced from athletics and we’re deeply grateful for your support and engagement!
Take care of yourselves today. Stay hydrated, take your vitamins, stay active and let those endorphins carry you through!
Make sure you take a moment to check out the full campaign on Facebook.
2020 Election: How It Started vs. How It's Going
I started off New Year’s Day of 2020 in DC with a large crowd to run a 5k sponsored by the Mayor’s office and @myfitdc. It was a COLD morning at Anacostia Park and everyone hugged each other and exchanged joyful New Year’s Day greetings. The endorphins were already high because we were together as a fitness community gearing up to run together. This is what we love! We love to run together even in freezing temperatures.
I then proceeded to run two more 5ks during the months of February and March while also attending countless fitness classes in between. I was exuberant as the fitness events just kept rolling in. I’ll never forget my last community fitness event which was with DC Run Crew in mid March. It was my first time going and I left so excited and anxious to return. This particular crew combines HIIT with running sprints. I couldn’t get enough!
That’s when all of our fitness fun, along with every other human gathering was stripped from us all in the name of staying alive. What was I going to do? Fitness is my medicine to keep a level head which supports my mental health. My fitness communities support me emotionally and I needed them. I. NEEDED. THEM. Especially when I was terrified of experiencing a pandemic. I actually have to do EVERYTHING ALONE now?!?!
That’s where I was wrong. Not long after the world shut down did I experience a flood of virtual workouts from my running, boxing, and HIIT communities. Here they are, showing up in all of my inboxes about when they’ll be teaching classes on Zoom, Instagram, Facebook, YOU NAME IT! I was able to calm my anxiety by knowing that the fitness community still has me. I was excited to see everyone again in a month or two.
Fast forward 2 months to May 2020 and yes, we’re still here. Experiencing a pandemic together but at a distance. My home state of Maryland had a primary election to get through and I specifically remember District Running Collective communicating that we needed to make sure that we vote on this day. It kept this election at the front of my memory which I was very thankful for.
Fast forward four more months to September 2020 and we’re still here. Experiencing a pandemic together while slowly trying to socialize with masks on. NOW the general election was approaching, how am I supposed to vote like this?!!!? Then it started. Late September through October my fitness communities showed up in all of my inboxes again, this time suggesting that I’d make a voting plan. Then boom! Everyone’s timelines on my fitness Instagram account had the words “vote” in them all day everyday. I had to step back and take a look at what was happening to me. I’m still at home and yet I’m still connected to these wonderful people all in the name of voting. So, in true Kimberly fashion, I followed their advice and made a voting plan. I even challenged myself to vote in October!!! Something I’ve never done. I’m a recovering Procrastinator when it comes to voting. I typically wait until voting week but NOT IN 2020 thanks to these heavily motivated fitness gems that I have in my life. I managed to vote before Halloween which is an all time achievement for someone like me!
So, how’s it going now? What does all of this mean? It means that it’s the fitness community for me *insert one smirk and a wink.* It also means to keep thriving even when you find yourself alone and in quarantine. Keep finding individuals and the communities *safely and digitally* who support your growth and well being. If you asked me a year ago what the fitness community meant to me, I probably would have said something on the lines of “Omg, I love them!” Now, if you were to ask me that same question my answer is: “It’s an honor to love and support a community who’s focused on my health and my voting plan.” Thank you to the entire DMV fitness community for always pouring into us daily. Not only do you increase our gains *insert two hand claps* but you also make sure that we get out and vote and that’s exactly what we did. SALUTE!
Submitted by Kimberly Kirby
Athletic Brewing Cross Country Relay
TIn September, our very own, Michael Shipp participated in the last leg of the Cross Country Relay by Athletic Brewing Company (ABC) from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to San Diego. Back in 2019 (pre COVID, when we still had races) Shipp encountered Athletic Brewing at the finish line of AC 70.3, an Ironman race. Soon thereafter, Shipp became a part of the Ambassador program of Athletic Brewing, and a very active one at that! As the country transitioned into managing life changes with COVID and all athletic events were cancelled, the team at Athletic reached out to Shipp about the cross country relay.
Athletic Brewing, originally based in Connecticut opened their new brewery in San Diego in 2020. As a way to highlight this great accomplishment, the Athletic team decided to commit to a cross country bike ride from their home brewery, to their new found home in San Diego. For Shipp, this was a new goal at new literal altitudes and daily mileage back to back. He trained for months, on peak week doing 70 mi every morning, to achieve this goal.
With that level of training, comes a level of wear on the body and tear on the bike. It was time for this longtime rider to get his first bike fitting! We worked with Matt at District Cycleworks to get the bike in safe riding conditions and learned how to take the bike a part and put it back together. This was incredibly anxiety inducing. Upon arriving to AZ the bike was rebuilt and ready to ride. Changes were made to the route by the ABC team due to an incident with a cyclist during the relay. Thankfully the cyclist was safe, but this meant that the route would no longer be from point A to point B -the miles would now be taking place in National Parks, National Forests, Bureau of Land Management land or Rail Trail. This meant riding in the Grand Canyon North Rim, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, Red Rocks, Lake Mead, LA Coast, and riding into San Diego from Carlsbad. The changes meant both seeing beautiful places still adapting and shifting the goal from 600 to 400+ miles for safety.
While these changes meant safer routes, Shipp still tackled an incredible 126 mi. ride in the North Rim at 8,800 ft. of elevation with an 7,800+ elevation gain during the ride. The training visibly and physically paid off.
It wouldn’t be PTM if we didn’t try to uplift the community in the process. For this, we decided to set fundraising goals for organizations we admire, asking forks to donate directly to the organizations based on mileage covered for the day:
Monday: @BlackKidsSwim - 126 miles = $126
Tuesday: @BicycleCoalitionYouthCycling - 64.37 miles = $64.37
Wednesday: @SOULprograms - 59.35 miles = $59.35
Thursday: @IABTriathletes - 64 miles = $64
Friday: @GearinUpDC - 42 miles = $42
Saturday: @BlkLivesMatter - 28.6 = $28.60
Sunday: @Mvmnt4BlkLives - 51 miles = $51
This was an incredible experience of discovery (on the bike), determination, and Perfect Timing!
The Gorée Project
The Gorée Project is a project of Black Kids Swim, Inc. to send two incredible young Howard University graduates to participate in the 33rd annual Dakar-Gorée swim. The swim from the coast of Dakar to the Island of Gorée is a historic 3.5 mile open water swim where hundreds of Senegalese and African swimmers retrace the same path enslaved Africans traveled over 400 years ago to flee Gorée before being shipped in the cross Atlantic slave trade. The Gorée Project will follow two young Black swimmers in their journey as they prepare for not only their first trip to Senegal, but their first trip to the Motherland for this momentous occasion. This will be the first time in the history of the Dakar-Gorée swim that an African American team competes in this event!
Ebony Rosemond, HBCU Alum (Florida A&M University (BS) and Howard University (MA), and founder of Black Kids Swim, Inc. said it best when it comes to bringing communities together, “The African Diaspora needs to come together, to better support and protect one another.” As the two Howard University graduates began their journey for this swim, the barriers of stereotypes that have kept the Diaspora separated have begun to come down before their eyes. The approach that Black Kids Swim has brought to the Gorée Project is truly an intentional and holistic approach where the swimmers are not only training but going through a full education with scholars of the diaspora, athletic historians and sociologists. They are also participating in language and a cultural education-that centers both Senegal and the cities of origin of both Noah and Skylar. This is how you build POWER!
Let’s take a moment to learn more about these two former captains of the Howard University Women’s and Men’s swim team below:
Skylar Smith is a 2020 Howard University graduate who served as a captain of the Howard University Women’s Swim and Diving program. Before deciding to participate in the Dakar-Gorée swim, she had never swam in open water, but she knew this challenge was for her. She currently trains near the Santa Monica Pier (California) at a historic location called “The InkWell,” where she swims everyday in preparation for the Gorée swim. Skylar currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.
Noah Nicholas is a 2020 Howard University graduate, was a former captain of the Howard University Men’s Swimming and Diving program. Noah volunteered previously with Black Kids Swim in support of their programs, and continues to show support during the pandemic. Noah currently resides in Stone Mountain, GA and has been training in lakes close to his home.
As we navigate through this unique time in history, it is important to highlight the positive and significant moments that are taking place in the community, especially those represented by Black and brown folks.
JUNETEENTH BIKE RIDE
During the month of June there were many things to celebrate. You have Summer Solstice, birthdays of family and friends, and you also have Juneteenth. Juneteenth with its many names such as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day and Emancipation Day among others is a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States. It is celebrated annually on June 19th, and commemorates the Union Army announcing federal orders in Galveston, Texas in 1865 proclaiming that all slaves in Texas were free.
Michanda, the visionary athlete who had the idea of the ride, reached out to PTM founder, Mike Shipp to put together this Juneteenth ride of solidarity. Michanda felt that in such a critical time in across the world, it was important to stand in a unified front in the District of Columbia (D.C) and show with critical mass that that Black Lives Matter. And so, these two organizers began the process of making the idea a reality.
Perfect Timing Multisport led a coalition with various triathlon clubs to commemorate Juneteenth. For this event, there was a 6.19 mile silent protest throughout D.C. to commemorate the date of Juneteenth. Afterwards, the large group separated into individual groups to take part in an 18 mile and 65 mile bike ride from D.C. to commemorate 1865. This event grew a crowd of over 100 participants. Cycling with in the time of a pandemic such as COVID-19 meant that cyclist all had masks, and with pacing, they were able to ride at a safe distance from one another. The 1865 routes saw an elevation gain up to 3,500 ft! Below are some of the pictures that can tell too little about this big event. Will we see you next year?