Who raised the bar in July?

Alisun Kovach!

alisun

A leader in the #HBSummerShare Challenge, our July Rider of the Month, Alisun Kovach has proven her self a loyal and committed HBer. She challenged herself to prioritize fitness this summer, and as a result has become a fitter, stronger, and healthier rooster rider. In addition to tapping it back at the HB, Alisun has shared her summer with friends, spending most of her time outside – either on a paddle board or patio. Congrats, Alisun! Keep up the #WorkHardPlayHard mentality as the Summer Share comes to a close!

Everyone has their own unique fitness journey. What has your experience/journey been like with spinning?

I tried spin a few years ago at my gym. I really enjoyed it at first and it quickly became my favorite class. However, there wasn’t any continuity between the instructors, some were great and mixed it up, others did the same thing the whole time and weren’t very motivational.  Eventually, I stopped going and hadn’t been back in the saddle for about two years until the Fenway Handle Bar opened. 
 
How do you keep up with your fitness on a regular basis?
I strength train 2-3 times a week . I love outdoor fitness activities, like kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking and going for long bike rides. 
 
Tell us an unknown fact about yourself
I’m obsessed with the color turquoise. If I see something in that color I feel like I need it to live!
 
How has fitness become part of your everyday life?
Before, it was something I did only if I had the time, and usually got skipped over for a Real Housewives marathon. Now, I make the time. No matter what I have planned for the day I fit 45-60 minutes of exercise in. It feels great to do something good for yourself on a daily basis and even better when you start seeing your hard work pay off.
 
Why do you come to spin at The Handle Bar?
Because even when you’re soaked in sweat and thinking the instructors crazy for asking you to gear up (again!!) or pulse the bar when you’re convinced your arm’s about to fall off, it’s still fun! Every time it’s different, every time it’s challenging, and every time it’s fun, that’s a hard combination to come by.
 
What did you do for fitness prior to joining the studio?
Oh gosh, I’ve tried a little bit of everything. Boxing, kickboxing, Zumba, yoga, running, countless fitness DVD (those infomercials are really convincing!) Basically, if there was a Groupon for it, I tried it.
 
What goals has The Handle Bar helped you achieve?
The Handle Bar helped me finally become a morning workout person. I’ve tried a lot of things, but none of them were worth waking up before 6am for. One of my main goals for this summer was to prioritize fitness, which the Handle Bar had helped me do, and as a result, I’ve lost lost quite a few lbs and gained some muscle definition (yay!).
 
What drives you more – working out solo or with a friend?
I definitely push myself harder when I’m working out with a friend.
With spinning though, it’s more of a solo thing, my friend may be peddling faster, but my resistance may be up higher, so I just try to focus on my feet on the mirror and challenge myself with the resistance and pace.
 
What have been the hardest and most fun parts of your experience during the HB Summer Share?
The hardest part was trying to get used to working out in the morning. I still pout a little when my alarm goes off at 5:30 am, but I enjoy getting my workout done and over with before most people have gotten out of bed. The most fun has been getting to know everyone at the studio.
 
What’s your favorite way to end a long week?
 A 5:45 Cara class followed by dinner or drinks on a patio with friends. I try to spend the majority of the weekend outside, but I always schedule a little quality time with my DVR on Sunday to veg out before a new week begins.
 
What is your favorite music to spin to?
I love throwbacks! I get really excited when a song comes on that I used to love and had forgotten about, you can’t help but pedal harder. I’m also a huge country music fan,  every now and then the girls will throw a country song into the mix and it is awesome! 
 
What motivates you?
Progress. When I notice myself getting better at something or doing something that I wasn’t previously able to do, it motivates me to stick with it and keep giving it my all.
 
What words do you live by?
Work hard, play hard!
 

She’s Preggers!

Congrats, Sarah! You’re the HB first born’s mother-to-be. Setting the bar for the next gen of HBers – a pretty tall order, but we’re confident you’ll set the bar high in mommy standards.

sarah sSo…

When are you due?
January 14th.

Girl or boy?
It’s a boy!

Do you have any names picked out?
Yes, we have a first name. We are currently struggling with a middle name. Suggestions are welcomed!

What fears or anxiety (if any!) do you have?
I have a new fear and anxiety every day. I keep my husband up at night talking about them. He thinks I am absolutely insane. If you had never baby sat, changed a diaper or held an infant before you’d have anxiety too! I am working on letting go of things that are out of my control and not allowing the unknown to hinder the joys of pregnancy.

What are you most excited about?
Shopping and decorating the nursery, duh.

Contrary to popular belief, it is actually completely safe to ride while pregnant. Does it still make you nervous like it did Charlotte on Sex and the City or are you totally okay with it? Fit mom, fit kid #amiright?
Totally ok with it! Teaching and riding 5+ times a week is probably one of the only things keeping me sane right now! I’m big on routine, and for me, it is super important for me to keep my routine as normal as possible. My husband and I were both college athletes so getting this baby started while still in the womb was inevitably going to happen! Ryan (my husband) wants him in skates and on the ice by 1…and you guys thought I was the crazy one.

How long will you continue to teach at The HB?
I hope to teach up until the very end! I’d love to teach the New Year’s Day resolution ride like I did this past year and then have that be my finale. What better way to start 2015, right?

So this means Stella won’t be an only child [dog] anymore. How’s she dealing with the news?
Anyone who knows me, knows that Stella is my first born and my #1 girl. And if you follow me on instagram (@sar_maguire) you know Stella was obviously the one who broke the baby news to the world. In all seriousness though, she totally knows there’s a baby on the way. She snuggles even closer now (didn’t know that was possible), puts her head on my stomach (drool and all) and doesn’t let me out of her sight. I think she will be happy to have a new companion, and of course she will benefit from all the extra food falling on the floor eventually.

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Any advice for moms-to-be who also love to stay active?
I think it’s important to find a work out routine that works for you and makes you happy. Riding might not be your thing, but it’s imperative that you stay active. Even if it’s simply going for a walk once a day, and eating healthy is just as important! #sweatonceaday

Thank you Sarah for sharing your big news with us! We’re so excited to watch you grow and are thrilled that you’re sharing this exciting time with The Handle Bar riders and team. Now for those HB onsies… 

Meet the HB Desk Staff!

They greet you with a smile every day, they work hard and play harder, they know your names so here’s a chance for you to learn theirs!

Our desk staff is an amazing team of young professionals and students who live and breathe the HB culture and put their all into making each ride a special one for you – our riders. They show up before the instructors and are the last ones to leave the studio each night… their hard work can often go unnoticed, so we want to highlight just how special we think they are.

Meet the team, put a name to a face, and learn a few fun facts about them that you didn’t know before:)

Candice

Candice

Candice is a rooster team member. She works in Southie on Wednesday and Friday mornings. Elise and Sarah M’s regulars know her well!

What you didn’t know:

1. She competed at the 2008 US Olympic Team trials (swimming) in the 100 and 200 meter backstroke.

2. She completed her first marathon in November 2013–NYC marathon

3. She has a 5 year old black lab mix named Scooter… rescued last year from the MSPCA.

Alexa

Alexa

Alexa is another rooster team member.. she opens the doors in Fenway on Mondays and Thursdays.. but she’s also a weekender, running the show on Saturday mornings. Think she’s satisfied working at just one studio? Nope, Alexa also crushes the Monday night shift in Southie.. she and Julie should run a “Bachelorette” talk show… ask them anything about the series.

What you didn’t know:

1. She works full-time at a PR/Social Media firm in the Seaport.

2. She once got stuck on the top of Mount Capri in Italy (during a thunderstorm) and had to hike the whole way down in flip flops.

3. She has a 20 pound cat named Charlie who enjoys going into the shower.

4. She is a huge British boy-band fan girl

Julie

Julie

Julie is Alexa’s partner in crime. She started as a rider in South Boston and quickly turned into a member of the family. Julie works Monday nights and Sunday mornings, and rides regularly!

What you didn’t know:

1. She works full time as an Office Manager at a consulting firm.

2. She played soccer at Roger Williams University

3. She ran her first marathon in San Francisco this month!

4. She moved to Hawaii after college and farmed lettuce in Kona

 

Rose

Rose

Rose is The Handle Bar’s most experienced employee! She opened the studio alongside Jess on June 15th of 2013, as a part of the grand opening team. Rose can be found working Monday ams and Saturdays in Southie… we hope she’s with us for a long long time!

What you didn’t know:

1. She’s from a small town in Maine but has been in Boston for the past 8 years. She loves the city, but goes back home whenever she gets the chance. Nothing beats the Maine in the summertime or getting snowed in during the long winter.
2. She adopted Ollie, a black lab puppy, in May. Ollie was in found in a shelter in Georgia and New England Lab Rescue saved him and brought him to her! He’s her new best friend and they’ve have been having the best summer together, hiking, swimming, and….cuddling.
3. She loves to cook and am always whipping up something new in the kitchen. She follows a (mostly) vegan diet, but sometimes indulge on cheese or seafood. I mean, who can resist a pizza from Picco in the South End or fresh Maine lobster?
Divya

Divya

 

Divya holds it down in Fenway on Sundays. A regular rider and neighbor of our Fenway studio.. she can also be spotted on a bike roaming the city!

What you didn’t know:

1. If you’re ever watching Paul Blart: Mall Copy (likely on ABC Family!) pay attention to the character Parisa! When Divya was a sophomore at Boston University, she took a one-semester acting elective and was cast in the movie which was filmed in Burlington, MA.

2. She’s from Redmond, Washington and loves the Pacific Northwest. If you’re ever traveling to Seattle, ask her for reco’s – she has tons!

3. Wouldn’t consider herself an athlete, but rather active and competitive. On nice days in Boston she’ll go on a long distance bike ride or hike. She completed the Nations Olympic distance triathlon in Washington DC in 2012 and this Summer is learning how to sail.

4. When she’s not working at the Handle Bar, she works full time in Digital Marketing at a content agency doing real-time relevant marketing.

 

 

Caitlin

Caitlin

Caitlin started as a Southie regular and has been a welcomed addition to the team since the winter. She works on Sunday mornings, and Tuesday/Thursday evenings in Southie! This lawyer is both a brain and a beauty.

What you didn’t know:

1. She’s a lawyer for the Commonwealth by day, HB addict/desk diva by night

2. She has run the Boston Marathon twice for charity as part of the Dana Farber Marathon Team

3. She played collegiate lacrosse

4. She’s addicted to reality TV shows like the Bachelor/Bachelorette/and any Real Housewives show

5. Ss a child she considered herself an amateur sleuth and used to “research” crimes/court cases such as the OJ Simpson case and write “book reports” for her Dad to read. #nerdalert

6. Her biggest (irrational) fear is that she will be the victim of a shark attack

 

Ellie

Ellie

Ellie has been a great summertime addition to our team! This brainiac works rooster shifts in Fenway on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays!

What you didn’t know:

1. She is a doctoral student in counseling psychology at Boston University

2. Her favorite sports team is the New York Rangers

3. She loves the water and will always live near the ocean

 

 

 

Erin

Erin

Erin rocks the Fenway desk on Monday nights! She is a welcomed addition to the HB team and a joy to be around.

What you didn’t know:

1. She studied abroad for a semester in Florence, Italy
2. She’s a cat lover! She rescued a street cat named Jax, who lives with her now :)
3. She’s a long distance runner, participating in cross country in middle school, high school, and still enjoys running in her free time. 
Katie

Katie

 

Katie started as a Southie regular and transitioned to an important member of the team this summer. You can catch her on Tuesday and Wednesday nights in Fenway, Thursday and Friday nights in Southie!

What you didn’t know:

1. She has biked down an active volcano in Hawaii.
2. She was born in California, went to college in Ohio, and was raised in Georgia and Massachusetts. Southie is now my home.
3. She is a third grade teacher in Southborough, MA at Fay School.
Danelle

Danelle

 

Danelle found The Handle Bar through friend, fellow dietician and instructor – Lena! She started off helping us clean bikes and now she is one of our most trusted hands on deck in both studios! Danelle can be found on Wednesday and Friday evenings, and Sundays at Fenway.

What you didn’t know:

1. She was born and raised in Minnesota (proud to have eliminated any hint of an accent), attended college in Wisconsin, now transplanted in this amazing city as a clinical dietitian at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
2. She played golf in college, part of a national runner-up team
3. She was active in musical theater in high school, combine that with her love of music makes the HB’s “dance party on a bike” her favorite way to stay active, and she’s only mildly addicted to spin ;)
4. She has a pretty good memory (try memorizing the key notes in every Bath and Body Works fragrance or learning names and facts of 70 residence hall students), so she might learn your shoe size in addition to your name
Norah

Norah

 

HB owner, Jess, met Norah during a chance encounter last winter.. immediately she knew Norah would be a welcomed addition to the team. You can catch Norah in Southie on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings!

What you didn’t know:

1. She was born and raised in Dublin, moved to Boston January 2014
2. She joined HB team in March, works in finance by day
3. She has 4 sisters and 2 brothers, suffers from middle child syndrome
4. She speaks Irish (Gaelic) fluently and plays Gaelic football for a team in Boston
5. She captained highschool field hockey team
6. She passed her driving test on the 4th attempt (Really good driver…)
7. She wants to stay in America indefinitely!
Maura

Maura

 

Maura is The Handle Bar’ assistant studio manager and is quickly becoming one of the most recognizable faces around. You can catch Maura on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights in Fenway, and Saturdays in Southie. Ask her anything about the studio and the classes, she’s here to help!

What you didn’t know:

1. She has hiked up a waterfall in Jamacia; Dunns River Falls
2. The number one thing on her bucket list is to sky dive
3. If she could live anywhere it would be Croatia
4. An Audi convertible is her dream car  (its happening… she’s determined)
Rebecca

Rebecca

 

Rebecca joined the Southie team last winter and has become a regular rider and HB enthusiast! We love having her at the desk AND in class! Rebecca works on Tuesday nights in Southie.

What you didn’t know:

1. If she could choose one artist to spin to exclusively, it would be Drake
2. She’s a rising junior in college studying French, Political Science, and Urban Studies—and is OBSESSED with cities.
3. She likes biking outdoors (almost) as much as she like riding indoors!
JIll

JIll

Jilll has been with us for almost an entire year.. time flies when you’re having fun… and she knows how to! This beauty works in Southie for Tuesday and Thursday rooster rides.

What you didn’t know:

1. She doesn’t like movies. But absolutely loves documentaries.
2. She’s obsessed with Jackie O. She even has a Warhol of her at her desk.
3. She shops mostly consignment. (Don’t tell anyone she works with at Rue La La).
4. Shoes. Period.

 

Jen

Jen

 

Jen has been holding down the mid-day classes in Southie since the winter. She loves to take class, she knows how to manage a rush of recess riders, and she’s as sweet on the inside as she is on the outside! 

What you didn’t know:

1. She’s a nurse
2. She was born on Friday the 13th! spooky
3. Besides spinning she also loves yoga!

A MidSummerShare Update

Well, that was quick! Summer Share riders, you are officially half way through your ten week challenge! We’d love to say congrats, but your journey is not yet over. Take this moment as an opportunity to check in with yourself. What progress have you made so far? Have you surprised yourself at all? What (if anything!) do you wish you could have done differently these past five weeks? Seriously, take a second to honestly answer these questions (and maybe share your answers with a friend, twitter, your dog – somebody!). If you find things you wish you could change or have doScreen Shot 2014-07-24 at 12.31.56 AMne differently, well, you’re in luck. You’ve still got five whole weeks to improve upon or change whatever it is you aren’t satisfied with. If you are content with your progress, I dare you to take the next step. Set a goal for the next five weeks that makes your hair stand on its ends. What will push you to the next level – mentally, physically, emotionally, socially? Find the thing that scares you most and then go do it.

Top 3 overall:Bre563QCYAAfWom
1) Alisun Kovach (82 points)
2) Brittany O’Shea (82 points)
3) Andrew Rebhun (79 points)

Top 3 hashtaggers:
1) Brittany O’Shea (56 points)
 2) Alisun Kovach (54 points)
3) Andrew Rebhun (44 points)

Top 3 Riders:
1) Andrew Rebhun (35 rides)
2) Erica Mellone (33 rides)
3) Courtney Ferguson (33 rides)

Don’t forget – at the very end of the competition, we are going to triple check the standings for accuracy to be sure that hashtags are equivalent to rides (i.e. 2 #points for every 1 ride). This is especially important for our top 3 riders to earn their well-deserved complimentary month unlimited package. Keep sweating, sharing, and having fun this summer – you’ve still got 5 whole weeks left!

How will you #ShareYourSummer?

 

Seeking Handle Bar Community Writers!

Hey HBer’s! Love to write, listen to music, and cycle? Good news! We’re hiring two interns to enhance The Handle Bar’s presence on social media–especially our blog, Raising The Bar. As a Community Writer for The Handle Bar Indoor Cycling Studio, you will have the opportunity to become a part of the growing HB team and work with our Social Media Team to write blog posts, collect photos and content from studio events to be used on various social media outlets, and most importantly, you will become a bigger part of our work hard, play hard community. Our ideal candidate is a college student, but we are open to any and all candidates with relevant skills. Read through the qualifications and responsibilities carefully to see if you could be a perfect fit. See you in the saddle!

Elise with loyal HB riders

Qualifications:

  •       Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  •       Mastery of Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress
  •       Strong work ethic
  •       Sense of creativity
  •       Flexibility
  •       Previous college/university coursework in writing
  •       A desire to find a sense of community among Handle Bar staff and riders
  •       Interest in fitness, cycling, and music
  •       Ability to produce 1 new writing sample using The Handle Bar voice (will be given a mock blog title after submitting initial application)

Responsibilities:

  • Write 2-3 relevant, well thought out, and creative blog posts per week
  • Work in-studio at one of our locations for a minimum of 5 hours per week
  • Ride in 2 HB classes per week with all different instructors

Reimbursement:

  • hourly pay while working in-studio
  • complimentary cycling classes
  • Become a key member of the growing Handle Bar family

To apply please email our Social Media Coordinator, Falon at falon@handlebarcycling.com with:

  •    Your resume or CV
  •    A short statement of interest – why are YOU the perfect fit, and why HB?
  •    Your availability to be scheduled to work in-studio
  •    2 past writing samples, creative in nature
  •    A list of 3 references

QUIZ: Which instructor are you?

We all have our favorite instructors – you know, the ones who push you to hit every beat and tap it back just a little bit further. In the moment, you hate them. You’re begging them for a downhill, slower jumps, or to PLEASE stop with the tricep pulses. But by the end – somewhere around the final climb or the sprint to the finish – you realize that they just pushed you past your mental and physical limits. They just made your day in a quick 45 minutes. Just like that, they’re like a celeb to you. But how alike do you think you really are? Does your biggest motivator love the same summer drink as you? Well, there’s only one way to find out…

Click here to take the quiz!

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**Pro tip: To all our HB Summer Share riders – use this as a chance to rack up some social media points! Share, share, share on FB and Twitter!

Who raised the bar in June?

Andrew Rebhun!

 
Handle Bar
 
As an active participant in our HB Summer Share, Andrew has quickly become one of our most loyal riders and is among the top competitors in our 10-week challenge. Ever since joining us at the HB, Andrew has shaved some serious time off his runs and made noticeable upper body strength gains. Although he is a force to be reckoned with on the leader board, Andrew always brings his positive attitude and smile to the studio and finds inspiration in even the most challenging moments. Congrats, Andrew!
 
Everyone has their own unique fitness journey. What has your experience/journey been like with spinning?
I had never been a spinner prior to joining the handle bar. After a few classes I enjoyed the variety in the workout and then it became a regular habit in my workout routine. 
 
How do you keep up with your fitness on a regular basis?
I always try to make time early in the morning or when I get home from work. I always try to schedule a minimum of 45 minutes at the beginning or end of my day.

Tell us an unknown fact about yourself.

I won a car on The Price is Right.

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 11.08.15 PM

Yep, that’s right. Andrew is all about that inspiration…especially at 4 am.

How has fitness become part of your everyday life?

It is a natural caffeine that helps carry me through my day. I feel like I’m able to perform better at my job when I exercise at least once a day. 

Why do you come to spin at The Handle Bar?
It’s a fun way to work out… The instructors are energetic which makes the workout more fun and helps push my fitness limits to the next level. Each instructor is unique and the music is different every time which helps create a dynamic experience.

What did you do for fitness prior to joining the studio?

All I did was run. The cycling has helped diversify my cardio regimen!

What goals has The Handle Bar helped you achieve?

It has helped me shave down my mile time roughly :25 per mile over the course of my 8-10 mile run; I feel like I have increased upper body strength with the regular press and arm exercises held over the course of class.

What drives you more – working out solo or with a friend?

Working out solo I can push myself harder, but working out with a friend is always more fun.

What’s your favorite way to end a long week?

Spending time watching sports with friends over a beer.

What is your favorite music to spin to?

Electronic/House Music… Anything that has a remix to it.

What motivates you?

When someone tells me a goal is far out of reach and I know I have to put in 110% to try and achieve it.

What words do you live by?

“Do not allow what you cannot do interfere with what you can do”

The Happiness Project

By Falon Sweeney

I’ve done it again. I finished my first summer pleasure read before midsummer! Last year, it was It Starts With Food, by Dale and Melissa Hartwig. This year? The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. Two completely different titles, but both incredibly inspiring in their own ways.

the happiness project bookI picked up The Happiness Project from a friend on my abroad program and couldn’t put it down until I was, well, done. It’s a fairly short (200 something pages), easy read about one woman’s journey to consciously be happier. Her “Happiness Project” is a year long series of resolutions, broken down by month. Each month has a theme or subject (her marriage, work, parenthood, friendship, and happiness, among others), and within each theme she makes several specific resolutions to guide her to be happier and more mindful with respect to each month’s theme. At the beginning of the book, Rubin explains her methodology – her “Resolutions Chart”, her “Secrets of Adulthood” (my favorites: “Do good, feel good,” “If you’re not failing you’re not trying hard enough,” and “Bring a sweater”). She also establishes her “12 Commandments” to help remind her how exactly she wants to grow throughout the year. A few of my favorites from her commandments: “Be Gretchen”, “Act the way I want to feel”, “Do it now,” and “There is only love“. Rubin’s witty charm, funny anecdotes, and strategically weaved in scientific “happiness facts” combine for the perfect self-reflective read.

I found it easy to relate to Rubin, as I love to make lists and set goals, and I am always trying to maximize my happiness. Happiness is a funny thing, in that we all seem to be searching for it like it’s some big epiphany we’ll have one day when we get that big promotion, find our soulmate, or buy our dream house. But what occurred to me while reading Gretchen’s musings on happiness, is that it is entirely possible to be 100% happy, right here, right now, in this moment. Regardless of your car, your job, your friends, or your significant other. Basically, happiness is something that comes from within and that shouldn’t be relative to anything else but yourself. From the outside, it looks like a tall order, but take it from me – after reading this book and doing a bit of self reflecting, it really isn’t all that hard to be happy. Taking into account gratefulness, kindness, mindfulness, positivity, attitude, and the power of small changes, Rubin portrays happiness as something well within reach for every single one of us, if we could only open ourselves up to it. Making small, but crucial changes to our daily habits and mindsets and the way we treat ourselves and the people in our lives proves key to finding happiness. 

While reading, I kept a list of my own resolutions, commandments, and other inspiring ideas scribbled on a JetBlue napkin. My number one commandment? Let go of destination happiness. Among others: Be here now, Show up, Stop complaining, and of course, Be Falon.

Rubin recommends and gives detailed instructions on how to conduct your own Happiness Project. Personally, I probably won’t embark on my own formal project, but reading about Gretchen’s experience has inspired me to be mindful and has already helped me feel happier in the present moment. In addition to her book, Gretchen updates her Happiness Blog daily. For book information and for guidelines on how to conduct your own Happiness Project, see her website here.

6a00d8341c5aa953ef0162ffffa2f0970dWhether you decide to read the book, create your own Happiness Project, or do none of the above, remember the piece of advice that Rubin offers at the beginning of the novel: “The days are long but the years are short”.

Make your days worthwhile, HBer’s!

Hello from Peru!

By: Falon Sweeney

Hello from Peru! For the past four months I have been in Chile, managing the blog, writing posts here and there, and living vicariously through the HB Twitter feed. I have had the most incredible four months in Chile, but I am so excited to return to Boston and the HB to get my summer sweat on. I have had the opportunity to take spin classes at a local gym in Chile, but there really is nothing quite like a HB sweat sesh. Being instructed in Spanish was a fun twist and great practice, but I’m ready to get back to raising the bar, HB style.

I am currently writing from the foot of Machu Picchu, in Aguascalientes, where I am wrapping up my semester abroad with a trip through Peru with two good friends that I met on my abroad program. We’ve been traveling through Peru sinceMonday morning, beginning our journey exploring Incan ruins and getting to know Peruvian culture.

Before our program began in February, the three of us and four other students from our 21 person program did a four day trek through Torres del Paine, Patagonia in the far south of Chile. This four day trek brought us closer than I could have ever imagined and set the tone for an unforgettable semester abroad in Chile with some great friends by my side.

However, before February, I had never really considered myself much of a hiker. Sure, I love a jaunt up Blue Hill every now and then, but by no means did I feel prepared to trek (tents and all) through Patagonia with a 30lb pack. Only the pros do that, right? Wrong…with the help of my friends, that is.

I won’t lie, 46 kilometers in four days wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. We hiked from campsite to campsite, dusk until dawn, getting to know one another in our rawest forms – there’s wasn’t much opportunity hide our personalities, and that brought us closer than ever. We pushed each other mentally – and sometimes physically – to make it to the top of whatever mountain we were climbing. We had each other’s backs, and just knowing that made finishing the trek all the more feasible.

It wasn’t until today when my two friends and I stumbled upon Mount Putucusi that I was reminded of these feelings. We had been searching for the entrance to the mountain for about and hour, and just as we were about to give up and enjoy a cold beer and the World Cup game, we found the hidden stairs leading up to the top. None of us wanted to be the one to suggest calling it quits, even though we had already woken up at 4am, drove 2 hours from Cusco with a crazy taxi driver, completed a 1.5 hour trek in Ollantaytambo, and traveled 2 hours by train to Aguascalientes, all without a nap. You could say we deserved a break, but we continued nonetheless.

A quarter of the way up, we came to a series of nearly vertical, wooden ladders, and my friend, Katie, who is deathly afraid of heights, was ready to turn around. I wouldn’t have been upset to head back, but I had an urge to see what lay ahead of us. Assuring her I just wanted to see what was up there, I headed for the top. Not long after, both she and my other friend, Audrey were on their way up as well. When we all reached the top of the first ladder, it was plain to see that the next leg of our climb was made up of the same treacherous ladders. Katie’s fear almost got the best of her, but encouragement from Audrey and I helped her realize that we were in Machu Picchu, climbing ladders and stone stairs in the middle of the selva, and that we probably wouldn’t have the same opportunity in the future. That realization and reassurance from fellow trekkers that the view was worth it, Katie reluctantly gave in. She led us the rest of the way and I pulled up the rear. After we passed the 6 sets of vertical ladders, it was all steep stone stairs to the top. Exhausted physically, I fell behind. I took breaks every time I would complete one side of a zig-zag, but was struggling hardcore. I thought to myself “they’ll get to the top and come find me on the way down – I’ll just see the view from the pictures” and “oh, well this view is breathtaking enough for me”. I tried to justify my desire to give up, but the fact that Katie and Audrey were still pushing along with determination to get to the top kept me determined to finish. Plus, Katie faced her biggest fear – how could I let a little exhaustion hinder her great feat and the accomplishment we’d feel at the top? I couldn’t.

We all arrived at the top about an hour and a half before sunset, took in the amazing view of Machu Picchu that we weren’t even expecting to see, and snapped some great pics.

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On the way down, I got to thinking about how the three of us unconsciously worked as a team to get to the top – kind of how we work as a pack at the HB to get ourselves and our fellow riders past our mental and physical barriers. But how could two things completely different – trekking and indoor cycling – be so similar?

Friends. Teammates. Hiking buddies. Rooster Riders. We are all on different journeys, mental and physical, but the one thing we hold in common is the need for support and camaraderie as we work to defeat our most challenging goals.

As the summer sets in and the HB Summer Share kicks off, we emphasize the importance of supporting our fellow riders, friends, or hikers through whatever journey they’re on. Summer is a time to set goals, enjoy the warm weather, travel somewhere you’ve never been – whether it’s to Maine or South America – all with good company.

We hope that you’ll share your summer with us at the HB and crush your most challenging goals, all with friends by your side.

The competition is getting stiff and the saddles are filling up. The HB Summer Share has begun…How will you share your summer?