Posts Tagged spinning

Anne Zimmerman’s Unbelievably Inspiring Cycling, Training, Mothering And Her Family’s Fundraising

Anne Zimmerman (ctr) pedals magnificently in the last hour of her all-day spinning marathon—2/12/12



To my left at Sunday’s Cycle for Survival was a woman who had been spinning for almost eight hours and inspired me to pedal faster than I wanted to and keep rising out of the saddle, rather than be seated like a wuss. Anne Zimmerman was the only woman in the group of just four EXTREMELY extreme cyclists this year who rode for both morning and afternoon sessions. And there were just 32 others who rode for four hours out of 10,000 people participating in this year’s event. She was magnificent.

I asked about her training to get ready and if she wanted to write about it. Little did I imagine that she spins 10 times a week, does 100 push ups, and road bikes 350 miles a week in the summer. I was also awed to learn that her team raised more money for the event than any of the other 2000 teams. Here is her amazing and powerful story.

Sunday I sat on a medium comfortable, ok, not so comfortable, spin bike for 8 hours sweating and panting but having the time of my life. Cycle for Survival raised almost 8 million dollars this year and our team, Team Perry, just crossed the $300,000 mark the other day. All of us riding for Team Perry draw our inspiration from one brave little girl, my daughter Perry Zimmerman.

But I think this story is supposed to be about me, not as easy a subject as my family and friends or the food that I write about on my blog, nutrimommy.com . Ok, me as an exerciser. I admit to being a fanatic, and I go to about 10 spin classes during a typical week here in New York City. I add to that one long treadmill run anywhere from 7 to 13 miles always before my Monday morning Darryl Gaines spin class, which is a rockin’ good time, plus one or two short runs, and a Thursday insane short run with Robert Pennino that often involves killer sprints up extremely steep inclines. I occasionally dabble in a duathlon, half iron length and am always prepared for that, so have never officially trained. Other than that, I do 100 push-ups of questionable form twice a week and occasionally pull-ups as I see fit. I do not seem to have achieved Ira’s abs quite yet.

The excessive spin classes are just a warm up for long summer and vacation bike rides. Last summer I had myself going about 350 miles a week with at least one 80 to 100 mile ride in there. Our marriage counselor, Gregg Cook,(hah, he is really a spin instructor) thinks I need to rest. Yet I assure you I do this all purely for fun. I know some people have questioned my wasting my precious babysitter (free) time this way, but I cannot think of a better way to explore my community and broaden my world beyond the gates some of my friends rarely pass through. By riding to farmers markets and grocery stores, I save myself from sitting in a car, something we city women cannot get our head around.

Outside our Maryland summer community, I have found amazing Chesapeake views, crazy hills, a swath of fishermen communities and farmers as income diverse as you can imagine. I’ve met people through my own flat tires, through my blabbering on about unhealthy sports drinks with artificial colors and through my poking around little farm stands like the one that always gives me a glass of water or the one where the woman cannot believe I am over 40:) I love that woman!

In Florida, I have discovered every health food store from Ft. Pierce to well north of Melbourne, and inland have found organic farms and bootlegged raw milk and illegal organic groceries. I even was carded buying Kombucha at Jungle in Melbourne…boy is Florida odd.

Every year in August, in spite of some whining and complaining by my husband, we take a hiking trip in eastern Canada. Last year, I let him talk me out of it, and we headed to Florida where we discovered an enormous lump in my daughter’s leg. Since she had had retinoblastoma as a baby, and a huge brain tumor as a two year old, I immediately suspected cancer, had it confirmed and came home to Sloan Kettering.

Since then, I gave up most of my career-related activity, I do not advise on nutrition, nor take law school classes toward that LLM in environmental law. I no longer research and write about unreasonably ridiculous FDA laws, nor do I visit the NYC public schools to check on the vegetarian lunch program. I rarely get the chance to take my younger three kids to an after-school activity, but I do still exercise.

I think the sacrifices are small, and the time at the hospital with my recovering daughter who has three more months of chemotherapy is worth every sacrifice. But the exercise keeps my mind and body strong for her.

And believe me there has been heavy lifting involved. After her 15-hour surgery I squatted for a half hour holding her leg up…OMG that hurt. Hauling a few backpacks of her school work and her IV fluids a block to hail a cab, or pushing a wheelchair sometimes for more than an hour or two, is not physically easy either.

If I look back on this cancer experience since August, the incredible support of friends and family, my husband and my other three nutty kids, the crazy rockin’ fun heavy exercise of Darryl’s spins, and the seriously tough exercise of Avery Washington and Robert get me through my long, sedentary, often stressful hospital days. So, I am already looking forward to next year’s 8 hours, when I am again a regular mom with four healthy kids.

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Gary Gianni Rides Road Bikes, Mountain Bikes, and Spins in Cellars in Winter

I like to test myself…and then you feel real good about what you’ve done. Biking is my thing, and most people on a bike have a smile on their face.

My wife passed away after 27 years together. So one of my philosophies is to Do It Today, because tomorrow you may not be able to. That’s carried over to my biking—when the weather is great, I ride with my friends.

Gary Gianni during his first Century (100 miles) ride—

Gary Gianni during his first Century (100 miles) ride—


Everyone rides a bike, when they’re a kid. I also messed around with bikes in my 20’s. But I played in a band part-time for 15-20 years after that, and I had no time to ride. I got tired of that. Then a friend offered me his mountain bike in 1988, when I was 35. (I’m 56 now.) So I quit playing and started riding, just five or 10 miles. There were trails near our house that I’d go on with my neighbor, who was 10 years younger. I met more people who rode, and it just became a passion.

Next it became a bit competitive. My two boys started riding with us. It makes me smile and feels good. It’s a great means of seeing things—more than hiking in the woods and trails. It’s so much fun.

Then a lady gave me a road bike, just left it at my house one night. I started riding on the road, which is safer and better for your cardiovascular system. You can go a lot faster and keep up your heart rate. Mountain biking is more up and down, while road biking is more steady. Once you get into a zone, you can really fly. It takes over your body physically.

Hill on the RAGBRAI out of St. Olaf, Iowa—

Hill on the RAGBRAI out of St. Olaf, Iowa—


Once I did the RAGBRAI [the Register’s (a local newspaper) Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa]. It’s a seven-day ride, 450-500 miles, a different route each year. There are 10,000 riders! Such an experience. You camp out each night after a set number of miles. So when I hit the 60-mile mark one day, there are 23 miles to go. I got into the zone, going 23 miles per hour, and I decide I’ll just go this fast as far as I feel good. I was in such a mental zone. I made it the whole way. That’s a pretty good clip.

The fastest rider I know does 21-22mph for 50 miles. You just feel good about it. You just have to do it. My girl friend Susan (see her story posted on 10/25/09) flew by me one time and went for five miles in the zone. The endorphins and adrenaline are flowing, everything seems to be right. You’re shifting nice, and you just go with it.

Susan and Gary at Pennwood, CT, New Year's Day, 2006

Susan and Gary at Pennwood, CT, New Year's Day, 2006


Then there are those times when you just bonk, and you can’t get out of your own way. Nutrition, eating well, and hydrating plays such a big part of it. You’re just tired, and your legs feel like lead, but it will pass. You’ll get your energy back. Younger riders are lighter, and they fly by you. Though there are a lot who can’t keep up with me. Physical conditioning is very important. There are even a lot of guys in their 20’s and 30’s I mountain bike with who can’t keep up with me.

In the summer, I go out 3-4 times a week. Two weekdays and Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes it’s 2-3 days in a row. It’s good to recover and back off a bit. You get a pain here and there, and you have to listen to your body and take it easy a little. Road riding takes up a good part of the day.

When we ride on roads, we usually won’t go less than 35 miles. We try for a 50-75 mile ride. If I’m going with friends who are fast riders, we travel at 17-18 mph. We live near a lot of hills, so when we go with older, slower riders, we go 13, 14, maybe 15 mph.

I once did 140 miles in a day. Four of us rode to Lake George, New York from Winsted, CT. It was 10 hours in the saddle. That’s a decent pace. Some fast guys can average 20 mph, but we were doing it for the enjoyment, just to have a good time.

A 66-year-old friend rode cross country, from Virginia to Oregon. Ten to 12 riders for 12 weeks. There were cars that hauled your supplies, sponsored riders and helped with breakdowns.

He and I also did the Border Raiders ride, named after Quantrill’s Raiders, back when there were border wars with slave states before the Civil War in the 1860’s. It’s 500 miles over eight days across four states (Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri). You go 160 miles in 100 degrees, from convenience store to convenience store. Grueling. You just keep filling up.

I’m talking with friends about doing a double century ride—200 miles—in one day. It’s kind of nice to push yourself a little bit. Read the rest of this entry »

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