cycling · fitness · Guest Post · motivation

Like An Athlete—2021 Theme Song (Guest Post)

Here’s a song of happiness to start your 2021.

May it inspire you as you start your day of whatever activity brings you joy.   Como un atleta (“like an athlete”) was the theme song for the 2020 Vuelta a España, the professional cycling race around Spain last November. The song played as the pro cyclists gathered for the start, during the global television broadcast, and on every official video highlight.

Did I think I would get sick of this song I heard at least 100 times while obsessively watching the Vuelta?


Did I?


I loved it!

It’s bouncy and inspired me to tap my feet, dance around my living room, and go ride my bike.

Written and performed by Venezuelan artist Carlos Baute, the video shows silhouettes of various athletes with Spanish lyrics written on the screen.

Here’s the start of the song, a great motivation to start your day: (my loose translation of  Spanish lyrics into English):

“Today, I get up in the morning,

with the dream of changing the world.

I drink a small coffee (cafecito)

I feel the sun that tells me everything can change.

My eyes that sing, my voice that dances”

Baute’s lyrics also convey the pain of the COVID-19 pandemic:

“These months have seemed without time and unending

Sometimes you have to rise to it like an athlete

For those that leave you

You are forever hurt

It is not so easy to put on my shoes

But in this life you have to

continue fighting and pedaling”

For me, the song perfectly encapsulates this moment: we are hurting, we are sad, some of us are exhausted, some of us are devastated.  But we must rise to the challenge of this moment like an athlete rises to her challenges.

Start by simply getting up in the morning (me levantando). Keep moving, keep on keeping on.

I love when international athletic events have theme songs. Here’s a good one from 2008 EuroCup (soccer/football) “Feel the Rush,” by Shaggy from Jamaica:

Finally, you may be familiar with another great Vuelta a España theme song from 1987: Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine’s “Conga”:

Here’s the whole Vuelta theme song list with videos:

I hope you find a happy theme song for 2021.

If you have any recommendations, let us know!

cycling · fitness · Guest Post

Law-breaking commuter (Guest post)

Two incidents with quasi-law enforcement marked my first week back at work, and my first week back squeezing cycling into limited morning hours. I was a little rushed.

On my way to work, I enjoy the recently painted “Corbett Porch,” where street activists brightened the shoulders of two streets. They created a place for people to walk, bike, or sit outside at tables for the local coffee shop. But I’m running late.

Hurray! I learn that my building has a bike room, I have a card key, and there are two shower/changing rooms attached to the bike room. It’s great to park my bike inside because there’s been a rash of bike thefts in town, with thieves using small power tools to cut right through kryptonite-type locks.

To get to the bike room, I walk through double doors, and into an overly long passageway to another set of doors, and down another hall to the bike room door. I’m rushed this morning, so I save time riding my bike inside! The passageway is wide enough to accommodate at least five people riding abreast, in fact, it probably used to be a driveway. There is no one else in this very wide hall. It’s perfectly safe to pedal on through. At the second set of doors, I dismount, and walk the final 30 feet to the bike room.

After I change, I breeze past the elevator security guard with a chipper “Good morning, Scott!” And he says, “Was that you riding your bike inside?”


“Don’t do it”

“Ok, sorry.” [not sorry ]. Obviously, there was a camera and he is monitoring the feed.

Busted #1!

I get up really early the next morning to beat the Tucson heat, and take a longer ride before work. This ride takes me through the foothills and to Sabino Canyon National Recreation Area, a 3.7 mile paved road open to pedestrians all the time, and cyclists before 9:00 am. So at 7:00 am I’m climbing through the canyon, enjoying the beautiful cliffs and stream and trees and shade. On the way up, I see a volunteer ranger heading downhill on his bicycle, I give him a friendly wave because I am always friendly to quasi-law enforcement.

I reach the top and descend. It’s steep, so without effort, I’m going fast. Ok, so the speed limit is 15 mph, and I know I’m going a little faster than that. Although it is a guesstimate because I have no cyclocomputer. I catch up to the volunteer ranger, and pass him just before the small hill that leads out of the park. I’m going hard uphill, so definitely not more than 15 mph speed limit at this point.

I crest the hill and begin another delicious descent to the exit of the park. The volunteer ranger chases me down and asks me to stop so he can “talk to me for a minute.” He accuses me of going 25 mph, and I want to say “prove it!” but instead say “really? wow.” I’m outwardly repentant, and inwardly “whatever.” And he goes on for too long about hikers complaining, bikes might be banned, etc. And I continue to apologize and when he suggests I get a cyclocomputer, I say I will. I will next year. And now I’m running late again because of volunteer ranger scold.

Busted #2!

Occasionally I will bend laws on my bike; for example, slow rather than stop at stop signs. However, I have been actually stopping at stop signs, putting my foot down, as I commute through neighborhood and university streets.

Have I become an evil scofflaw cyclist? A renegade rider ignoring all rules and laws designed to keep everyone safe? I do have a little of that in me, and it comes out when I see drivers running red lights, car drivers turning in front of me, cars parked in the bike lane. If they’re breaking the law without consequences, why can’t I?

The next week, I’m better organized and not so rushed. I’ve figured out the best route door to door. I can relax a little and enjoy my commute. I take in the scenery and see this great sticker:

I see my city and its beautiful people, from the great vantage point of my bike saddle.

cycling · fitness · Guest Post

Hammer Down in Flanders (Guest Post)

Pam! Let’s put the hammer down!

Let this be your cheer, your mantra, your slogan, your driving force in your next bike race or in whatever kind of racing you do. (Note Pam! is not someone’s name, but more like bam! or wham!)

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig gives an exciting play-by-play of how she raced in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, aka Tour of Flanders, bike race last weekend. The Dane came in third, but she’s a winner in her heart. She loves the race, the fans, the energy of big-time pro cycling in Belgium. At the critical moment in the race, she and her breakaway companions saw they had the lead, but the main group was closing in fast. At that moment: “Pam! Let’s put the hammer down!” so the break could stay away.

Direct link for mobile users:

The Tour of Flanders featured women’s and men’s races, with huge crowds lining the roads because: Belgium. Cycling is the most popular sport in the country. The women raced 157 km, and the men raced 265 km.  However, both women and men raced over the same famous short steep climbs like the Kanarieberg,  the Oude Kwaremont, the Paterberg. These hills brutalize the legs with uneven cobblestones and gradients from 8% to 22%. And the winner often comes from the leading groups over these climbs.

I’ve watched many post-race interviews with cyclists (men and women) who say milk toasty things like, “I felt strong, the team was great, I’m happy to win” in their I’m-too-cool-and-accustomed-to-winning monotone. Not so for Cecilie, who puts us on the bike next to her in the race: the effort, the anticipation, split-second decisions in the breakaway, the exhaustion. And most important: THE JOY OF RACING.

Unfortunately, some in the male-dominated cycling media christened this video “hilarious.” It seems like a bit of a put-down. Because it’s funny when women show excitement and emotion? Because she didn’t listen to the media-training about not moving around and using her hands? Because she laughs? Come on, boys, bike racing is fun! I prefer adjectives like “fantastic” or “awesome” for her race re-cap.

Cecilie inspires me, and I hope she inspires you.  Her compatriots in New York feel the joy, too.  @DenmarkinNY re-tweeted the video with: “May you live every day with the same confidence and enthusiasm as Danish cyclist Cecilia Uttrup Ludwig!”

For more about Cecilie and her path to pro cycling,  check out Rouleur’s Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig – conveyor belt to success.

Mary Reynolds splits her time between Berlin and Tucson, and blogs with her partner at

clothing · cycling · fitness · winter

Vintage Works for Winter (Guest Post)

Get out your old gear and get outside! The German winter brings cold, rain, fog, ice and occasional snow to Berlin. Relocating here from Tucson, Arizona, I don’t have all the latest greatest weatherproof cycling gear. But do I really need it?

In Berlin, the serious roadies and triathletes speed along in high-performance, black outerwear from the trendiest brands, and everyday transportation cyclists wear their regular clothes and coats. I fit somewhere in between, but my helmet generally gives me away as a roadie.

I have clothing from 15 to 20 years ago when I lived in Virginia and rode in the winter. (I hear the Canadians chortling at the thought of a Virginia “winter.”) I also own what is now considered a vintage or classic bike—my first racing road bike, a steel frame LeMond from 1994. This is the beater bike I ride in Berlin, rolling over cobblestones, pavement, and occasional dirt roads. Because the default condition of Berlin roads is wet, I added a small plastic fender that sticks out like a stiff tail from my saddle.

To stay warm, I choose a blend of natural and unnatural fibers from the olden days. Yes, polyester and neoprene are bad for the planet, but they last for years as you will see from my riding outfit described below. And it’s better to use old stuff than buy new stuff, right?

From toe to head, staying warm the vintage way:

  • Neoprene toe covers (relatively new, that is, from 2007)
  • Hand-me-down wool socks that reach to mid-calf, sometimes accompanied by silk sock liners from 2005
  • Bike shorts, covered by discount brand polyester wind/water proof warm-up pants from 2002
  • Discount brand long sleeve undershirt from 2005 that wicks, but also smells after a ride
  • Long sleeve polyester Virginia cycling team jersey from 2001
  • Insulated rowing vest, a gift from the early 2000s
  • Polyester Virginia team jacket from 2001
  • Neoprene headband, year unknown
  • Yellow lens sunglasses, circa 2007, for brightening dreary days

OK, I concede that I wear a few newer items:

  • High visibility yellow waterproof long sleeve windbreaker
  • Neck gaiter
  • Insulated gloves

I generally ride two to two and a half hours, with my air temperature limit of 0 degrees (32 F). I wait until mid day to ride when it’s generally warmer with occasional shafts of sunshine. I unzip and zip assorted layers as I climb or descend hills, or in response to the wind. I have good luck with timing, with only 2 partially rainy rides out of 28 this winter.

The old stuff works for me.

When donning vintage gear and riding a vintage bike, be prepared for comments from other cyclists. “You ride a steel bike,” said the roadie, after giving me and my bike the once-over. I had stopped and offered my bike pump for his flat tire. I responded, “Yes, it’s a classic!”

What vintage gear are you using this winter and early spring?

Mary Reynolds splits her time between Berlin and Tucson, and blogs with her partner at

aging · Guest Post

Fit and Feminist Genetics (Guest Post)

This week, my dad turns 92. He would never call himself a feminist, but he would call himself fair-minded and fit.
Here’s his life in fitness:
  • As a kid, he rode his bike with his friends 4 miles each way to watch mechanics work on airplanes.
  • He played basketball for Jordan High School in Long Beach, California.
  • He served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years and passed his annual Physical Training test.
  • He ran with me (age 10) and my brother (age 7) across The University of Arizona lawns on our way to watch college football games.
  • He joined his co-workers in walking up and down stairs a 20-story building, three days a week, when his co-workers prepared for a hunting trip in the Rocky Mountains.
  • They stopped, but he didn’t. He continued stair climbing three days a week until he retired.
  • He walked the dog twice a day.
  • With his free time in retirement, he went to the gym three days a week. He swam, he shot some baskets.
  • He played basketball in the Senior Olympics on a 70+ team.
  • He continues going to the gym in his 90s, walking briskly on the treadmill and lifting weights.
  • Here’s how he supported my fitness:
  • He cheered me on at Saturday soccer games from age 10.
  • He and my mom bought me a ten-speed bike.
  • He took time off from work so he and my mom could be the only parents cheering at my weekday afternoon junior varsity basketball games.
  • He said “Great opportunity!” when I told him I’d take my savings to pay for a trip to play soccer in Germany.
  • He said “Great way to see the country!” when I told him that my college graduation present to myself was a bike tour across the USA.
  • And now he asks, “Where did you ride this weekend?” every Sunday when we have dinner together.
So Happy Birthday, Dad, and thanks for your genetics, your example of every day fitness, your encouragement, and your amazing optimism.
Mary Reynolds is a writer who lives in Tucson and Barcelona. She blogs with her partner about adventures in Barcelona and Europe at:
cycling · Guest Post

Confessions of a GPS Head Case (Guest Post)

Ledge surfer trail with cholla in foreground, saguaros on the hills

GPS weighs me down, physically and mentally. I pick my way up the technical rocky climb with more rocks on my right and prickly pear cactus on my left. I’m on my mountain bike, riding a route with about 50 others, to raise money for the Arizona Trail. AZT is the cross-state trail from Mexico to Utah.

It’s called a Jamboree, but right now, it’s no party. The 50 riders are spread over time and space. My riding buddy Lee and I started late and we’re following the designated route, but might bail out early.

I’m way too much in my head, and not enough in my body. GPS is on my mind. Later, when I plug the unit into the tracking website I will see how fast I went, distance, competitively compare myself to other women who have ridden designation segments along the route. I have an outdoorsy GPS unit, no sleek pocket-sized cell phone clone is tough enough for me. My unit is made for mountain biking or wilderness hiking or whatever adventure the burly rubberized shell transmits through the palm of its aspirational owner.

I’ve stashed the bulky unit into my backpack’s  exterior pocket.

So I wonder about how fast I’m going, where’s the top of this climb? And we reach two young women, one of whom holds records for the Arizona Trail and the Great Divide Ride—she’s been fastest across the state and across the continent. Oh, and she’s riding a single speed bike, no need for all those extra gears to make things easier. Intimidation sets in. They stopped to take pictures, we all chat. I watch them ride away, easily pedaling and picking their way through stone drop-offs and twists of this trail nicknamed “Ledge surfer.”

I take a couple pictures with my GPS unit, and continue riding and sometimes walking with Lee. It’s a big cocktail party of a ride, we meet up with people going both directions, chat, and I know I’m not going to be top ten of any segment.

Later in the ride, I reach for the unit again to take picture of a perfect Arizona winter landscape: saguaro cacti, red rock cliffs, deep blue sky.

My GPS is gone! It bounced out of my pack somewhere along the trail. So I’m mad because it’s expensive to replace, and I can’t track myself anymore. But that’s also a relief. Now it doesn’t matter how fast I ride because the ride will never be posted on the website.

Soon after, the Jamboree route designers catch up to us on the trail. They are also legends of bike-packing in Arizona and the Great Divide. Lee knows them well and we chat briefly as they bounce down another rocky trail that I am hike-a-biking.

But then, sweet relief: a flowing trail where we weave in and out of a cholla cactus forest, up and down small rubbly hills. I follow the orange backpack ahead of me and enjoy the ride, the late afternoon sun shining on distant mountain ranges across the valley.

I’m riding with my dream team of local mountain bikers, we’re all just biking. Just being.

We head back to the trail head, through a “snowbird” RV resort. It’s one hundred or so sardine-parked RVs from the Yukon, Wisconsin, Minnesota and the rest of the frozen north. We hit the asphalt road for the final couple miles to the trailhead.

I’ve forgotten about GPS, I don’t care how far I’ve ridden or how fast. I just spent six hours biking on awesome trails, outdoors in my beautiful desert, in the sunny January of the Tucson Mountains.

Here’s the Arizona Trail Jamboree 2016 map and gpx routes if you ever want to ride 25 or 35 miles east of Tucson.

Here’s link to a pdf of all the trails in Tucson Mountain Park

[PS: Another rider found my GPS unit on the trail, so I have it back, and my competitive spirit lives on.]

cycling · Guest Post · nature

Finding Big Country (Guest Post)

Saguaro cacti bloom in front of Catalina Mountains,Tucson
Saguaro cacti bloom in front of Catalina Mountains,Tucson

I ride my bike 28 miles (45 km) to the top of Mt. Lemmon, near Tucson, Arizona. It’s a big climb, starting at an elevation of 2605 feet, ending at 8,077 feet (794 to 2462 meters). But the road isn’t the biggest part of the Catalina Mountains.

On a recent visit to my hometown, I convinced my buddy Lee to join in the Greater Arizona Bicycle Association Mt. Lemmon hill climb with me. For me, the main benefit of being on a supported ride are snacks and drinks at the aid stations. The Mt. Lemmon Highway runs through the Coronado National Forest with no public water sources until about mile 20.

It’s a very popular cycling route. In the winter, professional cyclists and triathletes ride up and down the usually sunny Mt. Lemmon for winter base training miles.

Our ride day dawns cold, unusual for May, and it gets colder as we climb up the mountain. (The next day, snow falls on the upper ridges).

We snake our way up the mountains, first on south slopes overlooking the city, then we follow the road inside the mountains and switch-back along an interior canyon. Beyond the guardrail, the gaping canyon is so deep that we can’t see the stream that created it. Looking west across the canyon, more ridges, more slopes, more canyons ripple the topography. Ridges end at peaks un-named and named: Thimble Peak, The Castle, Finger Rock.

Some folds of this earth are inaccessible by road or trail, even rock climbers cannot reach the cliffs. The Catalina Mountains mark the northern horizon of Tucson, but its many dimensions must be seen from within the range itself—deep and wide. From our bike saddles, we also see the Rincon Mountain range on the eastern horizon of Tucson. In the Rincons, hills roll into multiple ridges topping out at two peaks.

Lee looks and calls it “Big Country.”

We climb higher through several biomes with their unique signature plants. We start in the Sonoran Desert with rocky slopes of Saguaro cacti and agave, then reach the oak woodland at about mile 6, and 5,000 feet. Next we ride through conifer forests and towering Ponderosa pine trees.

Reports of “rain at the next aid station” doesn’t deter us because we have great wind/rain jackets. I rarely put on a jacket after miles of uphill climbing, but this time I do.

I wish I had jackets for my frozen toes.

Clouds block our view of the uppermost peaks, and fog descends onto the road. Fortunately, the rain holds off. Unfortunately, it’s so cold, some cyclists battle hypothermia and crowd into vans to be driven down the mountain.

We ride past giant “hoo-doos,” rock formations sculpted by wind and water. For our sweet and salty fix, we eat pie and peanuts at the final aid station, seeking shelter from the wind behind skinny trees.

Lee keeps talking about chili at the Iron Door Restaurant, located at the Mt. Lemmon’s Ski Valley. We pass aspen groves, descending and climbing again. We stand in our pedals to conquer the final section with its 11 percent grade.

Riding in the mountains makes me dream big. At our fireside lunch (yes it’s cold enough to have a blazing fire in the hearth), I propose a four-peak expedition to Lee. We will bike into the four mountain ranges that surround Tucson, then hike to the highest peak. We discuss various options, the best bikes to use, and different approaches to the peaks.

As we demolish his bowl of chili and and my bowl of  split pea soup, the sun breaks through the clouds. Our descent starts cold, then we warm enough to remove hats and jackets. We scream 28 miles down the beautiful curves of the highway, battling wind gusts, and coast into the Tucson valley and home.

What is your “big country” beyond the lines you run or bike on roads and trails? May you dream big during your next bike ride.

Except when it snows, Mt. Lemmon Highway (also called Catalina Highway or General Hitchcock Highway) is open to cycling all year. Info here: .

Mary Reynolds is a writer who lives in Tucson and Barcelona. She blogs with her partner about adventures in Barcelona and Europe at:

cycling · Guest Post · traveling

Goat biking (Guest post)

Wild goat prepares for nap on Cap de Formentor, road in background.
Wild goat prepares for nap on Cap de Formentor, road in background.


Cap de Formentor rises 384 meters from the sea on the northern tip of Mallorca, Spain. I’m on the island with my partner, Lisa, to begin my month (or more) of 50th birthday celebrations.

We ride our bikes together in the early morning peace of Port de Alcúdia and Port de Pollença. With the bay on our right, we pass old stone buildings sliding gradually into the Mediterranean Sea.

I head for the Cap de Formentor, about 20 kilometers round trip. I will climb and descend through the rugged cliffs above secret beaches. Destination: lighthouse at the end of the cape (Cap).

Lisa turns around when the road gets steep, just outside Port de Pollença. She will explore the island’s Ecovies — quiet rural roads.

I’m thankful for my rental road bike’s compact gearing, making climbing fairly easy. I’m on the west side of the cliffs, in the shade of the early morning. A goat walks on top of some rocks above me—must be a farm around here somewhere.

I reach the first overlook—not too much effort, I think.

Then some major descending begins through hairpin turns, shaded by pines. I glimpse the piercing blue of the sea below sheer white faces of 200-meter cliffs behind me as I twist and turn toward the low point of the ride. I focus on the unfamiliar road, watching for cars, and wary of the camber of curves.

I reach the natural park in the middle of the island, and the road turns to crap. My bike bounces over chunky asphalt, getting steeper and I have to get out of my saddle. Tunnel—no one told me about this! Not that I asked.

Two cyclists with headlights scream past me on their way down. I have no light. I can see the light at the other end, but can’t tell how long it is. Fortunately, I have seen only one car so far. I pedal furiously into the tunnel, hoping my speed uphill will bring me to safety. I hit total darkness, except for light from tunnel exit that seems farther away.

My eyes don’t adjust. My stomach sinks in fright.

Finally, the tunnel gets lighter and I emerge into daylight.

Then I see her. A small brown goat happily munches grass next to the speed limit sign. I realize these goats are wild, a strange concept in Spain with its thousands of years of goat herding.

Up and down I climb, and at last I see the lighthouse. Another descent, another climb and I’ve made it!

I park my bike and see two other cyclists watching a goat walk along the parking lot wall. The goat aims for me. I back up and watch her amble past my bike; I confirm that my energy bar is in my jersey pocket and not my seat bag!

A few meters from my bike, the goat lies down for a nap in the sun. Just like that, I’m laughing with the other cyclists.

I take a few pictures of the goat, then the spectacular 360-degree view hits me. There’s the serpentine road I’ve just biked, the original rocky path converted to a hiking trail, the cliffs of Formentor, and the many blue hues of the sea.

The goat made me see.

On the way back down and up and down, I stop every time I see a goat. A family gathers by the guardrail. I see more of the cape. I see rocks in the road and look up to see a goat climbing a steep slope. Goatslide.

I stop frequently on the return to Port de Alcúdia. I soak in the other capes and bays and beaches of Mallorca.

Lisa, a Capricorn, sees my goat pictures and tells me they are Balearean Goats that roam wild only on the Balearic Island of Mallorca.

Goats enjoy the rocky slopes of Cap de Formentor every day: climbing, descending, snacking, resting. An excellent way to ride a bike today too.

Follow the adventures of Mary and Lisa at

View from road on top of Cap de Formentor.
View from road on top of Cap de Formentor.