During her first season of cycling this year, Martha Bear Dallis, 57, accidentally wore her helmet backwards on a ride. Distracted by turtles, she forgot to unclip her cycling shoes from her pedals and fell over on another rider. She accidentally deleted Strava data, which, to anyone who uses Strava, knows the sinking feeling of loss that comes with such erasure.
Still, like so many cyclists who experience setbacks, Martha keeps riding.
“The one thing about biking is that you have to give yourself a break,” Martha said. She and her husband, David Dallis, live in Brooklyn and Kingston, and the two of them are upstate weekend warriors.
Martha works to promote wellness in corporations. It has been said that sitting is the new smoking. She made a goal last winter not only to improve her own wellness, but also to be able to keep up with David.
“It’s not about a number on a scale; it’s not about a dress size. I’ve lost a few pounds, but I’m biking because I want to be able to be strong,” Martha said.
After spending time on trainer over the winter, she began cycling outdoors in the spring. She rode on her bottom-of-the-line bicycle, which was heavy, had flat platform pedals, and was a little outdated.
One day, David surprised her with a Liv Avail Advanced 1. Martha compared riding her new bike to driving a Porsche. Riding an inexpensive bike, though she didn’t think much of it, turned out to be a disservice.
“They’re just not great. You’re missing the mechanical advantage,” Martha said. “I need as much mechanical advantage as possible because that helps me get stronger.”
Equipped with the physics of a high-end road bike, she could focus on having more fun and learning to deal with different riding conditions.
“It’s a big math puzzle,” she said. “Wind velocity is like having another person on the road with you.”
If you find yourself upstate near Kingston, Martha recommends her favorite ride: Hurley Mountain. The ride starts in Kingston, and heads into farmland. The half-way point is Davenport Farms. Fill your water bottle with fresh, ice-cold water from the same reservoir that supplies NYC with drinking water before heading onward.
“My face gets all red, and I completely sweat, and I just don’t care. Every time you go out, it’s hard. That’s the thing about riding, is you go out, and it’s hard. There’s a magical thing that happens when you start to ride,” she said. “You’re gliding.”
Rebecca Bratburd is an NYC based journalist. She writes the cycling blog Demystifying Women's Cycling.
Sam Polcer is an NYC based photographer. He is the author and photographer of the Preferred Mode blog.