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The Cycle of Life

Do you want to feel young, stay fit and have fun doing it? Do you like supportive, adventurous friends? Are you looking for something healthy to do as a couple? Then it's time to join the hundreds of Rogue Valley women who are ready to share their passion for cycling with you!

"Bicycling is fun. It makes you feel like a kid again," says Gwen Haynes of Medford, who manages and co-owns Sims Cycle & Fitness with her husband, Chris. Haynes loves the overall sense of well-being that she feels when she is cycling. "It's great to feel the fresh air on your face and to enjoy all the wonders of this beautiful valley. You can really experience a place with all of your senses when you're on a bike," she says.

Haynes encourages women to purchase a bike that is the right fit for their body and fitness goals. "If you're thinking about getting into cycling, be sure to invest in a bike that really feels comfortable to you so that you enjoy your riding experience. Most women have longer legs and a shorter upper body than men. Bikes are being designed specifically for this body type."

Alex Hayes, manager of Medford Cycle Sport has worked with his father, Merrill Hayes, owner of both Ashland Cycle Sport and the Medford store, expertly fitting women cyclists to their bikes for 18 years. "Fitting is a dynamic process by which an experienced fitter; preferably one who actively rides, helps a new rider determine a position on the bike that is both efficient and comfortable. Riding style, range of flexibility and body composition affect the process," he says.

Do you want to ride together? Consider a tandem, also known as a bicycle built for two. In addition to boosting mutual fitness, a tandem allows couples to ride at the same pace and work as a team. Tandeming nurtures both your friendship and your adventurous spirits.

Gwen and Chris Haynes appreciate these benefits. "A tandem gives couples the opportunity to ride together and share the joys of cycling," says Gwen. "Tandeming is also a very social sport. Anyone who gets along with his or her partner on a tandem gets along with everyone," she points out.

For three weeks, the Hayneses rode their tandem through the backcountry of Tuscany, Italy and put that belief to the test. "It was an amazing trip and an incredible way to see, taste, touch and smell another country. We traveled about 75 miles per day, which gave us lots of time to explore along the way," remembers Gwen.

If you are not ready for a tandem bike but like the idea of riding with others, Vicki Chamberlain, an avid cyclist from Ashland, suggests that you consider group rides for their supportive environment. She says, "I find cycling empowering. I like group rides for the social aspects. Everyone is welcome!" If you are interested in learning more about weekly women's only, co-ed or tandem group rides contact any of your local cycling shops, cycling clubs or visit their websites for specific information. When purchasing cycling equipment, seek out cyclists and ask a lot of questions. Remember that cycle shop professionals are extremely knowledgeable and eager to share their expertise about gender-specific products with you.

Cycling is a sport that can become a way of life. "Something you can pick up anytime, at any age," reminds Vicki Chamberlain. In your quest for a healthier, happier you, consider peddling along with the women cyclists of the Rogue Valley. They'll inspire you to go the distance and enjoy the view!

If your perfect date is sitting on the couch and watching TV, consider a slight variation of that theme and incorporate the scenic beauty of the Rogue Valley. Ride the Rogue tandem!

Craig Ransom, owner of Spin Cycles is the recumbent bicycle expert in Grants Pass. Ransom says, "Recumbent bikes don't put a strain on anything. They're easily fitted to anyone; male or female and the view from the back of the recumbent tandem is as great as the front," he says. New entry level recumbent tandem bikes start at $1800, with traditional tandem bikes starting at around $700.

Once you have your bike, your partner and the inclination, mark your calendar for September 23 and plan on attending the first annual Ride the Rogue cycling event. It will begin and end at Palmerton Park in Rogue River and will include four courses to accommodate all ages and skill levels, with a catered luncheon to follow. This one of a kind cycling event will eventually help fund the extension of the Rogue River Greenway to Grants Pass, connecting two counties and eight cities along the way.

Gail Frank, event coordinator and vice chair of the Rogue River Greenway Foundation says, "The goal of the event is to bring greater awareness and support for the Rogue River Greenway and Recreational Corridor. When the trail is completed, this event will help raise money for maintenance."

The Cycle of Life