Women on Bikes Series: Lauren Meisenheimer

I work as HR/Office Manager for a vacation home rental company in Big Bear (a 4 season resort in so cal) and Started doing triathlons in 2008 (didn't own a bike, hated running, and my swim was more like a doggy paddle than anything else but my BFF is persistent and got me to agree to do it with her.)
Love road cycling, and beach cruising, and I ride my mtn bike once or twice a year. 
I love swimming but I still have a love/hate relationship with running.
Other things I like to do are kayak, stand up paddle board, snow shoe, hike, and skiing. I also am a total book worm.

Last year for my last event  I rode my bike 347 miles in 5 days from mammoth mountain to big bear- this year I am not allowed to do any events Intel we figure out if I'm having stokes, have MS, or something else- hanging out in limbo land.

When did you first start riding a bike?
Started riding a bike when I was little bitty. Always loved it but stopped riding during college. I got back into it when my BFF talked me in to doing a triathlon. Which also entailed having to buy a bike. I fell back in love with it the first time I rode.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
Riding is my form of therapy, weather I'm sad, mad, depressed, just in a funk it gets me out. I firmly believe there is no bad day on a bike. Some days aren't as fun as others but, some rides don't go as planned, but it's never "bad". 

What inspired you to start doing triathlons?
My best friend is annoying when she wants something so she basically bugged me until I agreed to do it with her. I did so badly I had to sign up for it again the next year to prove to myself I could do better. I did better, cut my time almost in half, and was hooked.

Any advice for those who have a love/hate relationship with running?
It does get better. I'm not to the point where I have the same belief that there are no bad runs. Sometimes they just suck. But if I'm not in the mood to run I always try and pick a route that has good scenery, then normally partway through it's not so bad. And if partway through I'm still not feeling it at least I'm out walking and am outside. 

Which event would be your favorite?
I love triathlons in general. The challenge and being able to do different skills in one event, I get bored when I don't change stuff up. My favorite tri is the Iron Girl tri. They got rid of the one close to me so I'm bummed but it is a great event. It is females only, and everyone is supper supportive of the other racers. Probably the only races when other racers have apologized to me for running into me in the water.

Have you had a bike accident or a situation that was challenging?
If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level? I have not had a bike crash since elementary school (knock on wood). However, I have "mystery spots" on my brain that have been causing issues with balance, strength, and endurance. When my body starts acting up I just slow the pace and try to enjoy the ride, run, walk. Remind myself there is no such thing as a bad bike ride. And try to be thankful that I am back on my bike. As crappy as I think it is, it could always be worse.

You are involved with Team Tough Chik, how did you hear about the team and why did you join?
My friend Angela is co-captain. When she met Shannon and they started talking about a team she told me about it. I couldn't sign up fast enough.
I had already been a customer of Tough Chik and loved the brand, and the clothes.

Why has being involved with a group been beneficial for you?
The group has introduced me to numerous ladies, some who I have never met face to face, that I have a wonderful friendship with. It's a safe place to talk about what is going on in life when you don't want everyone in your daily life to know yet, or just don't know where to turn for advice, or just need to vent. It is a positive place where if someone is having a bad day/month/year they can let it out and have a support group. Anything from family, workouts, nutrition, work, whatever. It's been a nice place for venting and advice about what is going on with my "mystery spots".

What would you feel is the most frustrating thing about having unknown health issues that keep you from your recreational activities? What keeps you in good spirits? 
The most frustrating thing is not knowing. I love knowing why about everything. I probably drove my parents crazy with how often I asked why. I also get frustrated with not knowing how much I can push myself safely right now. One option they are looking at is that I had some strokes and didn't know it so until they rule that out I can't exert myself too much. I normally will take off on my bike or a run by myself, sometimes through the forest, but don't want to do anything like that right now in case something happens. We know exercise make me feel worse but don't really know if it makes the issues as a whole worse,  or how to get around that until we know what causes it. I have to plan my work outs with a bailout plan if my leg or arm go numb, or I just have no energy left. It makes my let’s just go outside, play and see where we end up attitude have to plan a bit. What keeps me in good spirits is that I still get to play, even if not at the level I want to play at, it is still fun. Sometimes I have to force myself out because I am scared at times, but once I am out I am so glad I did.

What do you love about riding your bike?
It makes me feel like a kid again.  I did a 347 mile bike ride last year. It was over 5 days from Mammoth Mountain CA to Big Bear Lake CA. The whole time I was thinking how it was a dream come true from when I was a kid and just wanted to take off on my bike for a few days and camp with my friends. My phone is off most of the time when I ride, I'm not checking my work email, I'm just outside playing.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
My bikes are my babies. My mountain bike (A Specialized Mika) was the bike I bought when I signed up for my first tri, it is a basic model hard tail, and works for where I ride her. Mountain biking is my least favorite, mainly because I think trees and rocks are going to jump out at me. I used to mountain bike a lot in high school but that was before the fear factor of breaking bones set in. I got my road bike next a mid level road bike (The White Knight, a Dolci from Specialized). I got her a year after my mountain bike, she is my first road bike and fell in love with road riding the first time. I got her a few months after my divorce so she was my therapy. I don't think I will ever sell her. Last year I got a  time trial bike for racing with (The Jolly Roger, A Giant but don't know the model). Unfortunately I got her about the same time I was starting to have issues so I haven't been able to play with her too much. I also have my mom's beach cruiser that I borrowed a few years ago. I keep telling her she can come over and get it back but she hasn't so I keep playing with it. 

What clothing/bike accessories do you love?
What would you recommend to your friends? I have 5 Tough Chik jerseys that I love. I actually prefer tri shorts over bike shorts, most of those are Zoot. I have to have my Woo Ha Ride Glide on longer bike rides, and runs and whenever I use my wetsuit. It is an anti-chafing cream that I swear by, 347 miles in one week and no issues, I converted a few riders along the way too. I also love my "bento box" its a box that goes on the crossbar on the bike that I keep my fuel (snacks) in. I use Rudy for my helmet and riding glasses, super comfy, and breathable, I get hot supper easy so that is important to me. Sun sleeves, kind of like arm warmers but cooler and they keep the sun off so you don't get sun burned. I have 3 Garmins to track distance, speed, heart rate, etc. And of course Strava, I am a total Strava addict. :)

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling?
I think a lot of women don't get in cycling because first off as they find it intimidating. Not only do you not know if you are going to keep up with a group ride, but you show up, everyone knows each other, half the time they are in matching kits, and even though they have all been new and (most of the time) aren't judging you, sometimes it feels like they are. Then they start giving you advice, do this don't do that, and it gets overwhelming. I also know a lot of girls that don't want to slow the group down. Most group rides will let you know if it's a drop or no drop ride. If it's a drop ride, just use it as a place to get started, they will leave you but you’re out there. If it's a no drop ride, look at the average pace; find the one that fits you. I started group rides by going to the recovery ride each week, everyone else was taking it easy, I felt like I was going to die, but as the weeks went on it was easier. If they don't have group rides it is still intimidating, you have a lot of gear to get and maintain. If you don't know anyone around to point you in the right direction either you have to go to a bike shop and ask for help (gasp) or get a department store bike that 9 times out of 10 you’re not going to be happy with, unless you’re just planning on cruising on the beach.

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
Women only rides defiantly help. Although most guys have good intentions when giving advice while riding they get a little overwhelming/ bossy. Also having rides that are tailored to beginners that have a slow pace, and no drop. Everyone is going to go as slow as the slowest rider and they are ok with that. That is why they showed up. Women's only clinics on how to maintain your bike also help.  

What inspires you to encourage women to ride? 
Just knowing how happy riding makes me. I want everyone to be that happy. I remember what it was like not wanting to go to a group ride because I'm slow. Or taking hours to fix my first flat tire because I didn't want to ask for help. I want other women to get past that and just go have fun.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
When I was in college I my senior project was an experiment that was tested on NASA's KC-135 the Weightless Wonder. We went to Huston twice for experiments, the second time I got to fly. It was amazing, being able to float in mid air- there is nothing like it.