Women on Bikes Series: Heidi Rockweiler

Heidi Rockweiler is a 40-something-year-old from Decorah, Iowa, who thoroughly enjoys teaching kettlebells and indoor cycling classes; helping others learn about overall health and fitness; and competing in the sports of triathlon, duathlon, and half-marathons. She also enjoys encouraging others to take on adventures outside of their comfort zone and tap into their true mental and physical potential. 

Heidi is also involved with the Trails From Freeport project. From the Facebook page:  "The goal of the “Trails From Freeport” project is to build a 1.5-mile paved path to eliminate pedestrian and cyclist traffic on County Highway A6W/Old Stage Road and connect Freeport safely to the Trout Run Trail."

When did you first start riding a bike?  
Oh wow--great question!  A LONG time ago!  I do distinctly recall one of my first times being on a two-wheeler and entirely forgetting there were brakes on board.  

Needless to say, the guardrail at the local pool and I had a nice collision. What's that saying--it's not how many times you fall down, it's how many times you get back up!?  True that--and thankfully it hasn’t happened again!  

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?  
You know, there are so many reasons behind the motivation.  I love very early-morning rides when the sun is coming up and the world is quiet, breathtaking, and serene. The camaraderie with friends while riding is priceless, especially in this fast-paced world in which we live.  
Health and fitness certainly play a role as well.  And, of course, the evening rides are just as beautiful as the morning ones. That aside, I still often wonder what inner potential has yet to be released. 

Have you competed in events (or will you be?) If so, what were/are your reasons for competing? 
My main events revolve around triathlons, duathlons and half-marathons (nope, haven't summoned the inner strength to run a full marathon....yet).  I recently completed a sprint triathlon (swim 500 yards, bike 15.5 miles, and run a 5K) the other weekend at the Hickory Grove Park near Ames, Iowa.  The water temperature that morning was a bone-chilling 59 degrees--something I definitely wasn't prepared for and a great lesson moving forward!  

My next event is a first for me--the Lifetime Tri Olympic distance triathlon in Minneapolis, Minn., in July where we'll swim for nearly a mile, bike 26 miles, and run a 10K.  Why do I compete...gosh, another great question.  I always enjoy having some type of event on the calendar--for instance, even though we haven't finished the Olympic distance tri yet, it's important for me to look for a new half-marathon for fall (or another tri--some type of event!).  

It's putting those dates on the calendar that keeps me motivated to rise at 4:30 most every morning (sometimes having those feet hit the floor is the hardest part) and nail the various workouts.  With triathlons, there is such great variety in training (never a dull moment!).  On occasion, when I do place in an event, it's definitely worth the hard work--but most times, I'm just out to kick my own butt.  :)

What would be your favorite competitive biking event? 
Definitely the triathlon! 

What kind of riding is your favorite? (paved, gravel, mountain, etc.) 
Typically paved, although I'm looking to experience trail riding soon...I’m always open to new adventures and untapped territory!

When you started riding regularly, did you have any nervousness at all? How did you overcome it?
Oh sure--especially as my bikes got faster. Overcome? That’s an easy answer…I just kept riding!  About the time someone tells me I can't do something, that's just enough push to for me to say “watch me!". 

Do you use clipless pedals? If yes, what are some tips/suggestions for beginners that you would share? If no, are you thinking of trying it out at all?
I do!  For beginners--go for it!  I spent way too much time debating the whole situation for fear of "the crash" from not being able to clip out. The guys at DecorahBicycles--Travis, in particular, were fantastic (and very patient) in explaining how to make that transition. If you've even once wondered about switching over, I wouldn’t hesitate to tell you to go for it! 

If you are a commuter what are some of the challenges you face and how do you overcome them? If you are not a commuter what would inspire you to do so?
Right now, I assist in running a business and do not commute to work. I do, however, bike into my classes when instructing just to get a bit more time in the saddle. Any excuse to ride, rather than drive, works for me! 

Do you commute even if the weather isn’t ideal? Why or why not? If yes, what do you do to make it more tolerable?
Yep--I'll ride when it's cold, completely dark, a little rainy. Why? I guess the answer is why not?  :)  The most important part is staying safe, so that’s why I always wear a helmet and have reflecting gear and a bike light. And if I can layer enough clothes and make it tolerable--you bet--game on!

Have you had a bike accident? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level? 
Not a severe one—I’ve taken a few spills here and there, but nothing tragic.  I think it still goes back to that saying, "It's not how many times you fall, it's how many times you get back up".  Vince Lombardi was a great coach to athletes other than football players!  Speaking of accidents--one thing I've been working on (with a great team of people) to prevent future accidents, is the construction of a new bike trail which will link two communities together.  
The purpose behind the trail is to keep everyone--cyclists, runners, walkers, kids, and adults alike--safe while they enjoy beautiful Northeast Iowa.  Right now, these people access our current trail via the second-busiest highway in all of Winneshiek County.  It's scary, but we're being proactive before someone is severely hurt. We break ground in August 2014…YES!

What do you love about riding your bike?  
Mmmmm....the freedom.  The peace.  The quiet. The way it brings people together.  The feel of muscles working the way they were designed to work.  The sense of accomplishment.  The green of it all.  And, knowing that absolutely everyone –- I do mean anybody–-can ride. 

You are an indoor cycling instructor at Reefuel in Decorah, what inspired you to take that on?
A new adventure....the unknown....the challenge!  As much as I enjoy instructing/coaching people to tap into their true potential, it seemed like a natural fit.  My second certification is tomorrow, and I'm thoroughly looking forward to learning what else I can bring to the clients of Reefuel! 

What do you enjoy about instructing indoor cycling?
The most inspiring part of instructing is watching people grow in confidence and strength.  When someone new begins and they are a little uncertain, there is nothing like watching them bloom right where they're planted.  When they nail a workout or conquer a certain interval—that’s awesome!  When someone who is experienced and an avid rider is pushed to the next level or outside their comfort zone, again, it is inspiring to watch that unfold! 

What would you like people to know about indoor cycling who've never done it before?
That it is worth every minute and every dollar they put forth. There is strength involved right alongside of a good ol' dose of cardio, with a wonderful splash of team camaraderie.  If someone is unsure and a little timid--that's OK too—stare that fear right in the face, push it aside, and go for it!  You won't know unless you try... and I'm here to tell you: Yes.  You. Can.  :)

What are some bicycle products/accessories/gear that you have found you enjoy having?
I LOVE my REI biking jacket (found it for half price, but I'd pay 10 times that price for it, if I had to buy it again).  CVX produces some great tri shorts (and their capris are amazing as well). 

How many bike(s) do you have? Tell us about it/them and what you like about it!
I have two—one is a Trek I primarily use for used training and races. My other Trek is more for recreational purposes. Kind of like my running shoes...I have a tendency to become very close with them, which means they are hard to replace. I've bonded....and I love it!