Touchstone Blog Archive
Monday, May 15, 2006
  Profile: Jessica de Jesus
Sometimes a setback can open up new opportunities for achievement. It happened with longtime climber Jessica de Jesus a couple of years ago when she tore her ACL in the gym.

For rehab, Jess began cycling and discovered a new passion. Today cycling is the main sport for this 32-year-old San Franciscan. She helped start the Mission Cliffs Bike Club and is proud of the interest it has stirred up. As many as 30 people have shown up for a Saturday morning ride, even in the rain.

"It has really become a strong sub-community of the gym," she says. (Twice a year the Mission Cliffs club takes part in a big all-club ride that draws an average of more than 75 riders.)

"Nothing beats time on the bike," says Jess, who rides with the bike club on weekends and goes solo during the week. When she needs a quick workout, she comes indoors for a spin class. This season she also started training outside in the rain -- in one of the wettest rainy seasons on record. "I still try to climb a little bit for balance," she adds.

What is it that keeps Jess in the saddle?
"For me, it's true love and respect for the sport and all the people you meet along the way. Traveling by bike provides an experience like no other," she says. "I just love getting to the club rides and seeing lots of new and familiar faces and people of all riding levels get together. It's been a really fun project to get off the ground." One of the Club’s goals is to inspire more women to come out and ride with the Club. Jess doesn't race, so one way she measures her progress is by cutting down the times that separate her from the Men's Masters Team.

"My goal and motivation has been to keep up with them on their base training rides. I’m close but still have a ways to go!" she says. “Base building is key and essential to being a good rider, as well as pacing. I learned that from Marty!,” says Jess. With no kids to look after, training time is not hard to find.

Her training rides include the new Endurance Series that she and Marty Kaplan started for the bike club on Saturdays. They are long rides, 80 to 105 miles. On a recent Saturday, 11 members rode a 105-mile loop from Livermore, up to Mt. Hamilton, and back via Calaveras Rd.

Those training rides will be put to the test in July, when Jess and about a dozen other club members head up to Markleeville for the Tour of the California Alps, also known as the Death Ride. Sponsored by the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce, it sends bikers on a 129-mile trek with more than 15,000 feet of climbing, hitting elevations up to 8,730 feet through five mountain passes.

"If I complete all five passes, that will be my biggest accomplishment," she says. Then it will be off to France for a month to watch two stages of the Tour de France and spend a few weeks biking on her own. Jess calls herself "a terrible mountain biker," but she did do the Telluride to Moab 7-day hut ride last year. "I was never so scared as when I was descending on my mountain bike into Gateway, Colorado -- white knuckles and overheating breaks all the way," she says. "My proudest moment was rolling into Moab in one piece and on my bike."

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