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FFFC Women Who Ride Series – Aixa Flanders


Aixa is on the far right.

Aixa is on the far right.

FFFC:  Please introduce yourself to our readers.

AF:  Howdy y’all! I’m Aixa (pronounced Ah-eek-sah). My name is a head nod to my Panamanian roots. Very happy to share with you at the Femme Fatale Fit Club.

FFFC:  How and why did you get started riding?

AF:  I started cycling last year to prepare for my first triathlon, Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon. I enjoyed riding my bike as a kid, but hadn’t been on a bike since I was a teenager. I loved it then and thought I’d love it again. I was happy to learn that I enjoy it just as much, and have a greater appreciation for it now.

FFFC:  Which type of bike(s) do you prefer to ride?

AF:  I have a hybrid bike now, commonly referred to as a “fitness bike”, which I’ve used for sprint and Olympic distance triathlon. It’s been great from a beginner triathlete stand point. Now that I’m looking to do longer rides in triathlon, I’m planning to upgrade to a road bike, which I think is better for longer rides since they weigh less, and provide an aerodynamic position for better efficiency and less “drag”.

FFFC:  What do you like most about riding?

AF:  When I ride, I feel FREE! And having another tool in my fitness regime is a great plus. I can ride for fun and leisure with friends, or do a solo workout as part of triathlon training. So many ways to mix it up.

FFFC:  What is the furthest distance or longest time you have ridden?

AF:  My longest training rides have averaged 30 miles on hilly, rolling terrain. My longest ride in triathlon was 26 miles.

FFFC:  Do you belong to a riding group?  Shout’em out right here.

AF:  I’ve had the most FUN ! on my training rides with my fellow triathletes in the LiveNow TriNow group. I learn better technique, training methods, measure my  progress against benchmarks set by more experienced riders, get pushed, encouraged and get to pass it forward. And I mentioned it’s fun, right? I gotta have fun! 🙂

FFFC:  What do you do to stay in riding shape (exercise, nutrition, etc.)?

AF:  The nutrition equation is something I’m still trying to figure out. I know eating clean is a boon to my training. Timing nutrition on my rides with gel, hydration, and just overall for better health and fitness is an ongoing process. I achieve on some days and others days I stumble. Overall, I work out at LiveNow Fitness boot camp to become stronger, achieve better conditioning and help build endurance for all three sports in triathlon: swim, bike and run. It’s my fitness solution as well as following a triathlon training plan that allows me to build, recover and peak according  to my race calendar. Fitness, Nutrition, Training, Rest and Recovery: the four pillars of triathlon. I strive to achieve at all four of these, so that I can become a better cyclist, triathlete, and just attain a higher level of health, fitness and happiness. 🙂

This was a training ride this summer with LiveNow TriNow in preparation for Iron Girl Columbia and Iron Girl Rocky Gap triathlons.

me approaching the dismount line (where after I go into transition area 2, T2, rack my bike and begin the run leg) at the Nations Triathlon in D.C. in September. An Olympic distance triathlon with a 26 mile bike ride.

FFFC:  What was the biggest challenge when you started riding or still is even now?

AF:  While riding has been liberating and fun, where I live in Howard County, MD, Columbia, the triathlon courses we train on are hilly and rolling terrain. Just trying to get up those hills without having to get off my bike on my first few rides… whew! That was the first challenge. Even if I’m strong, I know that that is only part of the equation. Bike handling skills, learning when to shift gears, hill climbing, cadence, and more … All of these things require improvement and just learning how to ride smart as opposed to just grinding it out is an ongoing challenge. I look forward to it though! It’s the kind of hard workout I enjoy.

FFFC:  Do you have any upcoming races or rides planned?  Share the event details here.

AF:  I have my eye on at least one more triathlon before the season is over. A sprint distance of 16 miles on hilly terrain. But I’m also trying to accomplish my goal of a first marathon, so I’d have to sneak it in. We shall see.

FFFC:  Who helped you as you learned the ropes of riding?

AF:  One of the great things about belonging to the fitness  family at LiveNow Fitness is that we take our fitness outside, we utilize our bodies and our fitness to energize our work, do sports, test our physical and mental endurance, so I’ve been fortunate to find role models who are achieving in running, cycling, triathlon. LiveNow TriNow, the multisport group on Facebook, is an outgrowth of that. I can always find great training partners who I can learn from and do all this stuff with. It’s so good!

FFFC:  Any advice for someone interested in starting to ride?

AF:  To get started, visit your local bike shop to discuss your goals. How often you think you’ll ride, under what conditions, for leisure or for sport, stuff like that.  Talk to riders about their bikes and preferences to help you in your research. You can also borrow a bike from a friend, get fitted at a bike shop for proper seat height, position, etc. and after you’ve ridden for a while, you can decide what kind of investment you’d like to make on a bike purchase. The best advice I was given: Determine your budget and stick to it. There will always be a “better” bike. Get the bike that you can afford. You can always upgrade as you gain experience, develop preferences, for better enjoyment.

FFFC:  Who are some of your riding idols (Male or female we don’t discriminate)?

AF:  I named my bike “Ernestine” after local fitness inspiration, Ernestine Shepherd. My bike frame is silver, and it reminds  me of the long silver braid Mrs. Shepherd wears when she’s working out and running. I feel kinda empowered every time I get clipped in and take myself places, climb a hill under my own power. And it is a difference perspective than being in a car a lot of the time. Riding has reconnected me to my youth. When I ride, I’m still that 12 year old girl on my pink bike with the flower basket and my pigtails blowing in the breeze! It’s been a revelation. I’m so full of JOY!

The women I look up to are the women who are older than me, who I see gettin’ it on their bikes. I’ve seen it a lot as a participant or spectator at duathlon and triathlon events. Some of these women are cancer survivors, or just survivors period, who smash expectations, limitations and societal norms. They just don’t buy into any of it. They continue to explore the possibilities and EVOLVE. It’s through them I know THE BEST IS YET TO COME. 😉

This was a training ride this summer with LiveNow TriNow in preparation for Iron Girl Columbia and Iron Girl Rocky Gap triathlons.

This was a training ride this summer with LiveNow TriNow in preparation for Iron Girl Columbia and Iron Girl Rocky Gap triathlons.

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FFFC Women Who Ride Series – Nicole Dunn


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FFFC:  Please introduce yourself to our readers.

ND:  My name is Nicole Hairston. I am a 40-year-old schoolteacher.

FFFC:  How and why did you get started riding?

ND:  My friend Beth Miller (my riding buddy) got me into riding.  I used to take kickboxing classes with Beth but her doctor told her she was no longer able to take kickboxing due to knee issues.  She was only cleared to do yoga and biking.  So there you have it, we traded kickboxing for bikes.

FFFC:  Which type of bike(s) do you prefer to ride?

ND:  I don’t have a preference at this time for a certain type of bike.  I’m just starting out so right now I ride a Next Power Climber. Nothing fancy, a simple mountain bike.

FFFC:  What do you like most about riding?

ND:  For me the best thing about riding is the escape.  Teaching is so crazy now that I need an escape.  When I ride I don’t have to worry about anything.  I just take in the scenery and relax.

FFFC:  What is the furthest distance or longest time you have ridden?

ND:  The furthest distance I ever rode was 14 miles.  I wanted to keep going but it was getting late!

FFFC:  Do you belong to a riding group?  Shout’em out right here.

ND:  I don’t belong to a riding group.  I prefer to do my own thing.  I’m not a lock into exercise time kind of gal.  When the moment hits I jump up and go.

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FFFC:  What do you do to stay in riding shape (exercise, nutrition, etc.)?

ND:  In order to stay in shape I exercise 5 to 6 times a week. I will do a mixture of cardio and strength training. I especially love Jeanette Jenkins DVDs.  I also incorporate roller-skating into my routine.  I love skating.  I attend an adult skate night as often as I can. I also juice.  My favorite is a beginning green juice.  After I ride I come home and drink that and all is right with the world.

FFFC:  What was the biggest challenge when you started riding or still is even now?

ND:  My biggest challenge for riding is time.  Riding takes a lot longer than an hour exercise class.  You have to pack up, drive to the location, ride for an hour or so, pack back up, and drive back home.  It takes a little longer than going to the gym (which is in my workout room!)

FFFC:  Do you have any upcoming races or rides planned?  Share the event details here.

ND:  I don’t have any upcoming races.  I don’t ride for racing.  I ride for personal pleasure and fitness. I try to ride every Sunday after church.

FFFC:  Who helped you as you learned the ropes of riding?

ND:  If I had to pick out a person who helped me learn the ropes of riding, I would have to say my dad.  He taught me to ride a bike way back when I won my first bike in the kindergarten candy sale back in 1970……..something!  But the saying is true; you never forget how to ride a bike.

FFFC:  Any advice for someone interested in starting to ride?

ND:  Anyone can ride a bike.  Don’t be afraid, it is a lot easier than you think.  Just buy an extra padded seat!!!

FFFC:  What has been your biggest accomplishment to date?

ND:  My biggest accomplishment today is sticking to it with my crazy schedule.  I often tell myself I must work out today.  If I don’t I would not have done anything for myself today and that’s not fair to me.

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FFFC Women Who Ride Series – Cassandra Osborne


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FFFC:  Please introduce yourself to our readers.

CO:  Hello Femme Fitale Fit Club readers my name is Cassandra Osborne.

FFFC:  How and why did you get started riding?

CO:  I started riding because I needed to exercise and it also became a way to
learn the city of Woodbridge, VA when I moved here in 2010.

FFFC:  Which type of bike(s) do you prefer to ride?

CO:  I prefer to ride mountain bikes.

FFFC:  What do you like most about riding?

CO:  I like getting out and seeing nature and breathing the fresh air.

FFFC:  What is the furthest distance or longest time you have ridden?

CO:  The furthest distance I’ve ridden is 22 miles and the longest time is 2.5 hours.

FFFC:  Do you belong to a riding group?  Shout’em out right here.

CO:  I don’t belong to a riding group but would like to join one.

FFFC:  What do you do to stay in riding shape (exercise, nutrition, etc.)?

CO:  I work out six days a week and eat clean meals and this is how I stay in riding shape.

FFFC:  What was the biggest challenge when you started riding or still is even now?

CO:  My biggest challenge when I first started riding was climbing hills while still riding, but now that is no longer a challenge for me.

FFFC:  Do you have any upcoming races or rides planned?  Share the event details here.

CO:  I don’t have any planned races at this time but will ride on Saturdays when weather permits.

FFFC:  Who helped you as you learned the ropes of riding?

CO:  After I decided to join a gym my personal trainer helped me learn how to ride better.

FFFC:  Any advice for someone interested in starting to ride?

CO:  My advice to new riders is to have a good pair of shoes, a reflective vest, and a helmet and begin riding on trails before moving to street riding.

FFFC:  What has been your biggest accomplishment to date?

CO:  My biggest accomplishment to date is riding 22 miles in one setting.

FFFC:  Who are some of your riding idols (Male or female we don’t discriminate)?

CO:  Lance Armstrong is my male riding idol and Monica Lowe-Lingeri who is a cycling instructor at my gym and she also rides outdoors.

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FFFC Women Who Ride Series – Lisa Vaughn-Spence


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FFFC:  Please introduce yourself to our readers.

LV-S:  My name is Lisa Vaughan-Spence I am 42 years old and the mother of 2 children Anthony 22yrs old and Danielle 5.5 years old.

FFFC:  How and why did you get started riding?

LV-S:  After deciding I wanted a new challenge I decided to try my hand in the world of triathlons.

FFFC:  Which type of bike(s) do you prefer to ride?

LV-S:  I actually do not own a bike YET!! I borrowed a Specialized Road bike from a friend for my race. I was not sure that I would even ever ride again given this was my first attempt at a triathlon and the most biking experience I had prior was casual riding on the boardwalk at the beach in the summer. The bike portion of the race turned out to be my strongest and the part I enjoyed the most.

FFFC:  What do you like most about riding?

LV-S:  I feel powerful on the bike. I have always had strong legs and once I actually learned how to shift the gears properly I felt like the most powerful part of my body was able to take me to new places. It took a little  time to get over the fear . The rate of speed that you are traveling sometimes while going downhill made me very nervous at first. The more I rode the more in control I felt and that is when I was able to enjoy it the most.

FFFC:  What is the furthest distance or longest time you have ridden?

LV-S:  The furthest I have gone is aprox 20 miles and it took me about 1hour and 20 min. I was having an exceptionally good ride that day.

FFFC:  Do you belong to a riding group?  Shout’em out right here.

LV-S:  I follow some groups on facebok, but have yet to join a riding group. Most of my riding was done with Live now Tri Now and my roll Dawg  Shylice Nelson

FFFC:  What do you do to stay in riding shape (exercise, nutrition, etc.)?

LV-S:  My nutrition is a constant battle and not as enjoyable at times as the fitness part. I try to do at least 5 days a week of cardio usually running. Since getting into the Tri world I have added swimming into my cardio routine as well. I also strength train at least 3X a week.I will soon be adding some spin classes to try to stay in riding condition through the winter.

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FFFC:  What was the biggest challenge when you started riding or still is even now?

LV-S:  My biggest challenge was gear shifting, I had an angel by the name of Danielle Crump agree to ride with me and help me learn the gears. That was huge!! Once I learned it made all the difference and that is when I began to love it. Hills are always a challenge and are still a work in progress, but I have made huge strides through just learning to change gears properly.

FFFC:  Do you have any upcoming races or rides planned?  Share the event details here.

LV-S:  I plan to do a indoor Tri soon riding on a spin bike, pool swim and indoor track running. Just something fun to do.

FFFC:  Who helped you as you learned the ropes of riding?

LV-S:  I would say Danielle Crump had the biggest influence by teaching me how the gears work. However there were countless others that were very helpful with tips and motivation.

FFFC:  Any advice for someone interested in starting to ride?

LV-S:  I would say invest in a good bike and be sure to get a good fit. I suffered for a little while in the beginning until I was fitted properly to the bike I was riding. Good bike shorts are also very helpful when getting started.

FFFC:  What has been your biggest accomplishment to date?

LV-S:  My biggest accomplishment to date is the completion on the Iron Girl in August. The swimming portion was my biggest obstacle but I am proud to say that I improved my bike time from 2hours for the course the first time I rode it to 1:15 on race day.

FFFC:  Who are some of your riding idols (Male or female we don’t discriminate)?

LV-S:  I don’t think I have enough experience in the sport to say I have any idols in biking, but I would be remiss if I did not mention all of the people that helped me get to where I am and were  very instrumental in helping my experience to be so awesome that I want to continue. Shout out to  Danielle Crump, Lisa Steptoe, Dawn Smyers, Aixa Flanders just to name a few. So many people helped me and I am truly appreciative and look forward to getting to the point one day to be able to pay it forward.

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FFFC Women Who Ride Series – Robin Marion


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FFFC:  Please introduce yourself to our readers.

RM:  My name is Robin Marion

FFFC:  How and why did you get started riding? 

RM:  I started riding for cross training and a way to give me a break from the pavement pounding of running. I started riding on trails with my husband who is an avid biker.

FFFC:  Which type of bike(s) do you prefer to ride? 

RM:  I prefer road bikes although we both have mountain bikes as well. We started out with mountain bikes and upgraded to road bikes.

FFFC:  What do you like most about riding? 

RM:  It’s easy. I like the way it feels and I love the scenery. I don’t tend to focus on the ride in terms of how it feels as much as I do a run. It’s more relaxing for me.

FFFC:  What is the furthest distance or longest time you have ridden? 

RM:  The furthest distance I have done is 40 miles during the Air Force Cycling Challenge. My first long ride. Since I started cycling.

FFFC:  Do you belong to a riding group?  Shout’em out right here. 

RM:  Black Women Bike, DC

FFFC:  What do you do to stay in riding shape (exercise, nutrition, etc.)? 

RM:  To stay in shape, I do a variety of things: Run, lift weights, cycle, yoga, and love dancing as well.

FFFC:  What was the biggest challenge when you started riding or still is even now?

RM:  Not enough saddle time. I have a very hectic schedule and am busy pretty much all day. I don’t get to get on my bike as much as I would like and as with anything, you only get better with practice.

FFFC:  Do you have any upcoming races or rides planned?  Share the event details here. 

RM:  I don’t have any upcoming races scheduled as of now due to my hectic training for 3 marathons. I may do a sprint tri in Nov but not fully committed yet.

FFFC:  Who helped you as you learned the ropes of riding? 

RM:  My husband helped me as well as other friends. I watched a lot of videos and did a riding clinic. I was already familiar with riding but there is a difference going from a mountain bike to a road bike in my opinion.

FFFC:  Any advice for someone interested in starting to ride?

RM:  Get a good bike. It doesn’t have to cost you a house payment. Take a cycling clinic and get out there and ride. Being comfortable with being on a bike is the first step.

FFFC:  What has been your biggest accomplishment to date?

RM:  Completing the Air Force Cycling Challenge and the Reston Half Metric Ride which was on the road with traffic.

FFFC:  Who are some of your riding idols (Male or female we don’t discriminate)?

RM:  Can’t say I have one as of yet.

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