Featured EBC Cyclist: Carmen Hiers and Maria Boza
L: EBC Member since 2012, Maria Boza
R: EBC Member since 2011, Carmen Hiers
This month’s Member Profile puts the spotlight on not one, but two members! Their stories are very similar and they are a testament to our Saturday morning leader-led ride program. Both Carmen and Maria were seeking exercise and social connections. They started off learning group riding skills and bicycle safety in the 14-16 mph group. Before long they were participating in the 16-18 group going on longer rides as well as increased speed. Both Carmen and Maria have worked hard at their cycling, picking up other rides during the week such as our Sunday ride from Ponce Middle to Miami Beach, and the Tuesday/Thursday morning Granada to Key Biscayne ride. They each recently “graduated” to the 18-21 Saturday morning rides, seeking even more of a challenge. Their story may be similar to yours, or it could be your story in the near future. I sat down and had a lively conversation with Maria and Carmen after a recent Saturday morning EBC ride.
GREG: What do you do for a living?
CARMEN: I have my own business called TransForma Translation Services, but I was involved in public relations for 20 years of my working life.
MARIA: I’m in pharmaceutical sales for a company called Sanofi.
GREG: Were you involved in any other sports?
MARIA: Growing up, not really too much, but in recent years I have competed in six half-marathons. The training has really helped me improve my endurance on the bike!
CARMEN: I was never involved in sports.
GREG: When did you start riding a bike? When did you pick up road cycling?
CARMEN: I biked a lot when I was a kid and a teenager. I loved it! But then you get busy with life. I decided to start road cycling in September 2011.
MARIA: Same here. Plus I biked around a lot when my kids were small with a bike I got from Sports Authority. I started road cycling in January 2012.
GREG: When did you join EBC and why?
MARIA: When I went riding with my kids, I discovered that I really missed it! So I was looking for ways to get back into it. I joined EBC so I could learn more about bicycling technique and go on organized weekly rides.
CARMEN: I missed it too! It seemed like a good way to get some exercise outdoors in our nice weather. I also wanted to meet people and make new friends. When I picked up road cycling I joined EBC.
GREG: Tell us about your Saturday morning ride experience and your other rides.
CARMEN: I started with the 14-16 group trying to learn how to ride in big groups and seeing how far I could go. The ride leaders were always good to me, trying to teach me things. Pretty soon I was joining the 16-18 group as I started feeling more confident. The only big organized ride I’ve done is the 2012 Snowbird.
MARIA: Carmen and I met in the 14-16 group. I even rode a few times with the 12-14 beginners group to make sure I got a handle on things. Each step up had its own challenges with speed getting faster and the distances longer. I have participated in the Gran Fondo and the Dolphin Challenge.
GREG: Did you have any setbacks in your development as a rider? Carmen, I remember your switch from running shoes to road cycling shoes and the problems you were having.
CARMEN: Yes! I rode with running shoes for a long time, but everybody was telling me to get the bicycling shoes. I had so much trouble adapting to clipping out when stopping and I fell a few times. That’s really embarrassing.
GREG: Yeah, but it happens to everyone. You stuck with the clip in shoes, right?
CARMEN: Yes, and I actually had to hire a coach to teach me the right way to do it. I took a few weeks off the regular rides so I could learn and not be afraid of falling during a ride. I’m glad I stuck with it.
MARIA: When moving up to a faster group I worried about getting dropped, which I did a few times. It’s how you learn to get faster, I guess.
GREG: Oh yeah, I got dropped plenty of times.
MARIA: It’s not fun, but it’s a big motivator.
GREG: What has kept you involved in the sport and pushing you to improve?
MARIA: It’s fun!
CARMEN: I like to challenge myself. And this is a challenge.
GREG: Will you be doing any big organized rides this fall?
MARIA: I’m going to Mt. Dora in October and I’m really looking forward to the Key West ride.
CARMEN: I’m going to do the Key West ride in December. I think I’ll be doing the Speedway Century.
GREG: What are your goals in cycling?
CARMEN: To keep up with the fast guys and not get dropped! If I can achieve that, my life will be complete!
MARIA: That’s right! We want to keep up with Juan, Arpad, Jim and the other fast guys!
MARIA: I’m still learning on every ride. The ride leaders are very good teachers. They teach you about individual technique and things to do to be safer and a better cyclist.
CARMEN: Friendships. Everyone is very welcoming. I have made so many good friends.
GREG: Can you share any tips for new riders?
MARIA: Be predictable when you are riding with a group. People around you need to feel confident and be able to anticipate what you’re going to do. Always be willing to learn from others.
CARMEN: Don’t give up! It takes practice to improve and it doesn’t happen overnight. Don’t let fear stop you. Riding with the group really helps with this.
-- Gregory A. Neville