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Close to what I look like on the bike, but not exactly. I wear a helmet.

This past week I rediscovered a love of mine and have been busy with it.

I was talking with a friend the other day about mt. biking. I have an incredible mt bike that I was able to score a swinging deal on years ago from Bianchi. It was easier back then to get toys like that, as I worked in the sports and outdoor industry. When I purchased the Grizzly from Bianchi, it was one of their top of the line mountain bikes.

My husband at the time was a major bike-geek and spent hundreds more upgrading many of the components on the bike because he wanted to ride it. By the time I left him the shock had been upgraded, as had the bars, the saddle and rear cassette, stem, grips, etc. Needless to say, it is a dream bike to ride.

One of the things about the ex was in the beginning of our relationship, he was attracted to my athletic abilities. I had been racing in triathlon for about 10 years and had done pretty ok with it.

After a while, he became really competitive with me. A regular Saturday run or ride became a competition where he needed to finish before me. It stopped being about a couple that ran together, and became a ‘I must leave you in the dust.’ effort.

Eventually, I stopped training with him altogether. Who wants the stress of that?

When ever we raced together, he made sure he pointed out all my mistakes. If Ihad done well, he’d insist that it wasn’t ‘that’ good. When I did Ironman Canada, he was more jealous than proud of my efforts and made sure he told me that ‘anyone’ could do an Ironman. He hardly spoke to me before and after the event. Even though, for me, the thrill of just being able to train and race was enough to make me happy, I was sad that my husband was more about bringing me down about my training and racing than happy to be with me doing it together.

After a while, because of that, because of the kids, because of the divorce, I stopped riding altogether. I had sold my road bike to help pay for bills and didn’t have any one to go mountain biking with, so I hung it up. But I refused to sell it.

Eventually, I purchased a ‘used’ road bike and got back out on the road (even raced a triathlon late last year!).

Then, for the first time in four years, I dusted off my mountain bike, lubed the chain, pumped up the tires and went out this past week.

It wasn’t anything extreme. The runkeeper app on my iPhone says it was a 10.9 mile ride. Just under 90 minutes of climbing and descents.

Oh. Boy. It was like being a kid again. I was SO thankful for my granny gear chain ring on the heavy climbs. Just when I think I’m in shape, I do something to show me that there is always room for improvement!

The downhills were fast, and exhilarating.   I was astonished at how well the Grizzly handled. It practically steered itself, and there were numerous times when I had to remind myself to ease back on my grip on the bars.

I came home full of adrenaline, higher than a kite. I bubbled all day long, was ravenous for good, clean food, and slept well that night. It was a feeling of passion that I had not felt in years. YEARS.

I went again on Wednesday. I had taught a spin class at 6 am and thought I might blow it off, but felt good enough that I decided to go. I did the same ride. Somehow, I managed to go a bit further in less time. Again, the adrenaline came, the feeling of accomplishment, and getting a good workout in all while having fun.

This is exactly how it used to feel when I trained and why I used to compete so much. It was pure JOY!

During the ride, I started thinking…I’ve been riding for years. I mean, YEARS. And I still had to remind myself of basic techniques to keep me from going off into the brush, to increase my speed, and to improve my pedal stroke on the climbs.

This got me thinking of last year when I was doing assistant coaching for a triathlon team, I worked with the participants (mostly women) on bicycle handling skills. These were women who had either done their first triathlon, or were training to do their first one.  As we rode, I could see many of them struggling with their bikes. They weren’t seated correctly, their bikes weren’t fitted properly, they were struggling to hold a line (stay in a straight line), they were fighting getting up the hills, they had death grips on their bars, and so on.

I also remembered a story my friend told me of a time he was racing and an amateur competitor cut him off, clipped his wheel, and down my friend went. As the amateur continued on down the road, my friend dealt with road rash, a broken collar-bone and damaged bike.

And the thought came to me, there needs to be more bicycle handling skills clinics for beginning cyclists. I know many people who say they like to ride their bikes, but it makes them nervous. These are the same people who then take on a triathlon and endanger themselves and other participants.

So I’m thinking, what if I offered a clinic only to women to learn the basics of bicycle safety, changing tires, changing gears, proper nutrition, clothing, etc, as well as basic bike handling skills?

I know the huge rush of happy happy I get when riding my bike, but I’m so comfortable on my bikes that I can practically let go of the bars and trust my current skills in most situations.

While I don’t expect others to get there with one bike clinic, at least they can be more comfortable on the bike and that means more fun, and that can lead to more time on the bike, and becoming more comfortable, and more fun and..well….you get the idea.

Anyway, I think I am going to look into it. Perhaps start with the local community activity calendar. Jeez, combining my love of riding with something that can help others. Is this what is mean when they say, ‘do what you love’? It sure does feel good.

What do you think? Would you take something like that? Would you like your kids to have a clinic similar that as they learn how to ride? what would you be willing to pay for a one or two-day clinic?

What would you like to see, or be offered with a bike clinic? Where do you think you would need some help when it comes to riding a bicycle?

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Just so we’re clear, this is not what
my skin looks like.

I’m a huge fan of personal finances, budgeting, saving money in odd places, and being out of debt (or just never getting into it).

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I like to stick it to the man. I like to think I got one over on people who hike prices up to take advantage of people who are doing their best to make a better life while still having nice things.

Any time I come across something I find REALLY cool and isn’t something you might see on another ‘frugality’ blog (coupons, anyone?) I wanna pass it along.

This little goodie is really more of a little miracle than goodie. AND, I hit on a way to save $$ too.

Here’s the deal. We’ve seen all the ads, whether it be tv, print, or on the internet for facial cleansers, creams, miracle cures, toner, gentle abrasives, gels, masks, the proactive, the little rotating brushes and so on that are intended to save your skin, get rid of scars, handle break outs and save you thousands in facials each and every year.

Oddly enough, all these products cost an arm an a leg to use. If you’re lucky, you might get some results. For me and my pissy skin I’ve never had any positive results. I’ve tested the shiite out of my face, jaw line, and neck in hopes of getting rid of fine lines, huge pores, acne, blackheads. Alas, all that happens is my face gets worse.

I had people tell me, ‘you’re too hard on your skin! Your skin is to be pampered and babied, that’s the problem!’
Well, my pretties, I have news for you. This is the best kept secret in skin care that I have ever seen. ‘Put any secrets you may ave right out in front of everyone, they’ll never see it.’ I’ve heard people say. And that is just what the Korean women population has done.

My friend, Grace, came over to my house the other day excited to tell me about her Baiden Mitten.

‘Your whatie mitten?’, I asked.

‘It’s called a BAIDEN Mitten. I found it online. It’s made of tree bark. You scrub your skin with it. We have always heard that we have to baby our skin. This company boldly states the opposite, that our skin is an organ that needs working out. So they have come up with this mitten that you use to exfoliate.’

‘Grace’, I say, ‘Listen, I’m an EXPERT on exfoliating. I scrub the shiite out of my skin ALL the time. Doesn’t work. You’ve been scammed.’

‘This is different.’, Grace tells me. ‘This is WAY different. Trust me. You want one of these.’

She tells me cost is $50, but it lasts two years. $50?? Woof. How good can it REALLY be?

However, I fork over the fitty because I will put horse shit on my face if someone tells me it helps with my skin. Ok, not really, but close.

A few days later, I open my mailbox and in a padded envelope is my Baiden Mitten. I rip the package open to find this:

‘Yup’, I thought to myself, ‘I got ripped off.’

I took it into the shower the next morning. I followed the directions of getting my skin wet, then turning off the water. Then , starting with my arms, I scrubbed. It felt like a very fine sandpaper. Nothing. So I scrubbed harder. And scrubbed. And scrubbed.

Slowly, I noticed ‘rolls’ of dead, dirty skin start to fall off my arms onto the shower floor. The directions that came with the mitten said to not brush off the rolls of dead skin, as it actually assisted in pulling more off.

I moved to my feet and legs. More dead skin rolls. It was, for lack of a better word, disgusting. I had no idea I had that much dead skin hanging out on my, well, skin.

Since I work out quite a bit, I take a shower every day sometimes twice. I use soap every time. Still, all of this was coming off by just rubbing this mitten vigorously up and down my arms, legs, torso, etc.

I did my back. Tons of rolls. I did my face. No rolls, but certainly dirt and dead skin. In all the years I have tried to exfoliate using loofah sponges, scrubby puffs, and the very fine grit cleanser on a scrubby poof. But I have never seen anything like this.

Their site says this about the mitten:

What Can you expect your Baiden Mitten to do?

  • Diminish appearance of scars and stretch marks
  • Stimulate skin circullation
  • Help collagen production
  • Repair damaged skin
  • DETOX your whole body
  • Keep pores open
  • Get rid of TOXINS
  • Better blood flow
  • Greater oxygen absorption
  • Soften & Smooth Skin
  • Exfoliate dead skin
  • Give you an overall more youthful look & feel

After using it for about three weeks, they weren’t kidding. EVERY time I use it, dead skin rolls come off, and my skin became insanely soft. But still, $50? I was having a hard time endorsing it only because of the high price tag.

Then I went to visit my friend, Grace, and she had mentioned she had seen something on the Baiden Mitten Facebook page where someone had posted, ‘Hey, this mitten reminds me of the Korean Italy Cloth my grandmother has used for years.’

Wait. A what?

We hit the internet, and googled it. Korean Italy Cloth. Apparently, this is comparable to the Baiden Mitten. Could it possibly be the italy cloth was the inspiration for the Baiden Mitten, and they just prettied up the packaging, changed the name, and added a higher price tag to it?

We found a link to some on Ebay….here’s what we found…

Ok, cool. But what was the price, right? We looked. $13.99 for a NINE piece set.

WHAT?! but….but….but….what?! WOW.

Still, we wanted to make sure it was the same thing. At least close to the same thing. With a bit more research, we discovered these cloths are sold at Korean markets and we found a Korean market about 10 minutes away from where we were.

We grabbed the car keys, our wallets and yelled to Grace’s husband, ‘Watch the kids! We’ll be right back!’

When we arrived at the market, we nervously searched the store for the cloths. Please, oh, please, let them have the Italy cloths. Then, we found them. We looked at the price. $2.99 each. Woo-hoo!! Even if it sucked, we were only out $2.99.

We danced in the aisle. Fortunately, the market wasn’t busy and only the cashier saw our victory dance. We went to share our joy with him.

‘YOU have been keeping this a secret for way too long, new best friend.’, Grace said.

The cashier, who was also the owner, said, ‘oh, these are nice. I just got back from visiting family in Korea. They have bath houses there where you can have someone scrub you down with one….if you can stand it. Most people can’t stand the pain.’

Our eyes grew wide. People will SCRUB you with these?! I looked at Grace and she at me.

‘Dooood,’ She whispered, ‘Can you IMAGINE the rolls?’

We both bought several for ourselves, and for others. Everyone who we have given one to has been blown away at the results.

So here’s the deal. GO GET ONE.

If you want the Baiden Mitten, here’s the link:

http://www.thebaidenmitten.com/

Ignore the cheesy site. It’s the product you want., not the website. It’s too bad they don’t have an affiliate link or I’d be rich.

Here’s a Squidoo lens from a woman who wrote about her baiden experience with pictures.

http://www.squidoo.com/skincaresecret

You’ll see what I mean about the ‘skin rolls’. Eyew.

Here’s a link to a totally random ebay page for the Italy Cloths:

http://bit.ly/PlATF5

Now, I know that the men reading this blog may be thinking that it’s a post just for the ladies. Not true! Grace’s husband tried one, saw all the dead skin come off and became religious about using it. So, don’t hesitate to get yerself and yer lady friend one, if you’ve got one.

Get the set from ebay, or get online and do a google search for a Korean market in your area. March yer ass in there and say, ‘I MUST have an Italy Cloth!’

Your gonna thank me for this. Once again, no affiliate links on this post. But I know you are going to be so blown away by these products you’ll insist on throwing me a few bones. Instead, how about sharing me new blog with your besties so they get in on this secret.

You will be rewarded tenfold by them!

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