Thursday, December 30, 2010
I don't mind training hard, but I need a reason, a goal to work toward.
(Frankly, I've come to think of the winter months as the Universe giving me permission to do something besides ride/train/race. Call me undedicated, but there's more to my life than just working out. And cold, dark days are perfect for kicking back, imbibing in a drink, catching up on my growing reading list, and pursuing other interests that don't make me sweat so much.)
But all that is over now. I have a reason.
On February 26, 2011, I will be riding the Furnace Creek Century*, which is a timed event (but not a race) that starts around 200 feet below sea level, and peaks at about 1300 feet before turning around and coming back through some of the most devastatingly beautiful scenery in the United States.
*I'll be riding with Jill Marks. We've set a goal to finish in under 7 hours total.
Last year, I got ready for a week of AdventureCorps cycling by following Chris Carmichael's "Time Crunched Cyclist" plan. By following the plan, I started my ride season in excellent form (considering that I was pulled out of the cold, snow, and darkness of a Cleveland-style February and plunked down in the middle of some challenging California desert riding).
I'll be following the 'Experienced Century' plan, which means 6+ hours per week on the windtrainer. For those of you who think 6 hours isn't painful enough, think again. The workouts are intense: lung-busting, leg-crushing, highly-focused sessions meant to optimize training time.
All the sessions are based on your own personal power or intensity (heart rate) data. A field test (described in detail in the book) tells you how to figure out your max heart rate and all the zones that you'll be training in throughout the plan. WAY better, in my opinion, than going to a spinning class where some goon of a coach tells you to push harder when you know you're already at your maximum intensity. I'll have my massive coronary on my own time, thank you very much.
9 weeks to Death Valley. 9 weeks of training. Tonight, I get to ride for 90 minutes, mostly at 'endurance' intensity but with some longer steady state intervals thrown in just to keep things interesting. When things get tough, I'll just visualize myself flying up Jubilee Pass...
What does your winter training consist of?
Do you follow any particular plan?
Do you set goals?
Tell me all about it in the comments section...
Saturday, December 25, 2010
My friend Matt came in from Arizona to spend a long weekend. A native Ohioan, I think he missed the cold and snow, but didn't want to admit it. He used the annual Auburn Metal show as his ruse for wanting to return 'home' in the middle of December.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Back home in snowy Cleveland. Windtrainer beckons...
Thursday, December 2, 2010
I rented a mountain bike at the new Furnace Creek bike shop. Everyone else played golf.
Friday, November 26, 2010
I usually don't like Halloween parties, because they require you to wear a costume, and I'm usually short on costume ideas. But the Solon CX race on Oct. 30th looked to be a lot of fun even though it was a COSTUME REQUIRED event.
Angie told me that she found a matador costume in her basement. Great - I'd be a bull! Now all I needed was a bike...
My old Rockhopper wasn't going to cut it for this race. I needed something light, and fast, and NOW.
Mike at Broadway Cyclery set me up with a new Jamis Nova Pro, a gorgeous machine that I picked up two days before the race. I spend that evening riding around the backyard, trying to figure out how to use the shifters, clipping in and out of my new Crank Brothers pedals, doing my best to avoid my two canine boys, who thought it was great fun to chase, and then hide from me and pop out in front when I rode around a blind corner. (Want to practice your handling skills? Ride around a small area with two dogs who have no fear of being run down. Good way to practice sudden braking and loud swearing, too).
Race day was cool but dry, except for the muddy areas and some of the singletrack. The keg was tapped by 10 AM, the riders were out in full regalia. It was a blast!
My goal for this first race was to finish last, which I did in fine form. Congrats to Angie, who came in 2nd. Thanks for the encouragement, Angie!
Long story about the bike. I LOVED it, but there was a flaw in the fork when it arrived at the shop. Mike fixed it up for me, but I had to give it back so he could return it for a properly-machined version (something about affixing the front brake correctly - sounds like a safety issue...) So for now, no bike. Hopefully there will be some riding left when I get it back.
If you want to see more photos from race day, click here.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
photo courtesy of Andrea Chisnell
My all-gal racing/training club, Grunt Girl Racing, held a Cyclocross Clinic on Tuesday as a way to introduce cyclocross in a non-competitive venue.
I rode my 40-lb, 20-year old Specialized Rockhopper, complete with fenders, rear rack, and Monkey Lectric - it may not have been the prettiest bike, but I didn't care. It was fine for the event, but for sure I'll be adding a Cyclocross bike to my garage soon!
Here are my favorite moments from Tuesday's event:
1. We divided into groups according to ability, experience, and, yes, crappy bikes. (I was in the latter). We were practicing sprint starts* when one of the girls in my group looked over and saw a bunch of cheaters jumping the line in the Experienced group. She mentioned this to our coach, who replied, "Yeah, they do that all the time."
*as opposed to road racing, where the sprint is at the finish.
2. I was told that, during some races, spectators line the course so they could hand beer to the passing riders.
3. I have the ability to warp time: I am once again 12-years old, weaving my rusty, clunky bike in and out between the swings on the playground, racing across lawns with my friends, riding as fast as possible through the vacant lot at the end of the neighborhood. Just that this time, we're not getting yelled at by anybody.
What's NOT to love about a sport that encourages cheating, drinking, and acting like a 12-year old?
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
I remember the last stage of the 1989 Tour de France as if it were yesterday.
Greg LeMond trailed by 50 seconds, behind Laurent Fignon. Fignon was a 2-time Tour winner, and the darling of the French press. With his geeky glasses and wispy blond ponytail (hey, this was the late 80's, after all), he was the European crowd favorite. His victory was all over except for Le Marseilles playing in the background as he accepted his trophy on the podium.
The last stage's ride into Paris was an individual time trial, and it's my opinion that the outcome of the 1989 race is why you'll never again see another individual time trial on the last day of the Tour de France.Greg LeMond, with his controversial TT helmet and aerobars and averaging over 34 mph, made up 58 seconds over Fignon, and won the tour by 8 seconds. 8 SECONDS. Was this the most exciting stage of any Tour de France, ever? Yeah, it was...
I remember the footage of LeMond's wife freaking out on the Champs Elysees, and Greg's wide-eyed farmboy look of shock and amazement when it hit him what had just happened. I remember screaming so loud that the downstairs neighbors started banging on their ceiling with a broom to get me to shut up. Oh yeah, and I remember watching the pain and anguish that had consumed Fignon as he crossed the finish line, dropped his bike, and curled up into a fetal position right there on the road.
It must have been devastating for him. But for me, it sealed my passion for cycling.
In a tour that included a lot of big names like Erik Breukink, Pedro Delgado, and the amazing Miguel Indurain, this was history.
Laurent Fignon died of cancer yesterday, at the age of 50. In a sport that is made up of superhumans, it's almost shocking when the end is so very human. I will always remember him as the guy who made Greg LeMond work impossibly hard to win the most impossible Tour de France victory ever.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Aside from the beauty and history of the Hudson River Valley, what I'll remember most about this trip were my fellow travelers.
Here are just a few images from the trip. You can find all of my photos online here.
There's a lot of history in the little villages along the Hudson River, like these old stone houses (c. mid-1600's) in New Paltz.
Tent cities are built at each of the tour overnights, like this one in Nyack Beach State Park.
Jackie and I did the optional out & back up Bear Mountain, over 2 miles of climbing. From the top, you could see the Manhattan skyline. I think this climb was the highlight of my trip.
Honestly, does Dave have a tapeworm or something???
Keith needed some excitement in his day, so he busted a spoke in the middle of nowhere. It sounded like a gunshot. He had the wheel fixed and was back riding the next day.
This is Jamie's bike. Jamie had a brain aneurysm when he was a kid. His dad drove up with him from Florida, and meets him at the overnight stops. Jamie's bike is a recumbent trike. It doubles as a clothesline anchor.
This is the view from the bridge in Poughkeepsie. The bridge is actually a parkway path, for pedestrians and cyclists.
We were told that there was some big shindig here in Rhinebeck a couple of weeks ago.
Of course, I wouldn't trade my Bianchi for anything, but this set of wheels caught my attention. (My first car was a '77 Malibu, in the same color).
Highlights along the way: the Vanderbilt mansion, FDR's home in Hyde Park, Tarrytown, Boscobel, Val-Kill, and too many more to list.
Camping sure does bring out my inner hillbilly!
Susan will be celebrating her 80th birthday in October.
We followed Route 9 almost the entire way from Albany to NYC. There was no shortage of hills. Plenty of traffic most of the time, too.
Hubert's everyday riding kit included taping up his pantlegs so his cuffs wouldn't get caught in his chain.He carried all his stuff in cardboard panniers. Solar panels are mounted to his handlebars, so he can charge his electronic gadgets. When my camera battery died and I was asking around for a charger, he pulled out an old voltmeter - I'm not making this up - to measure the voltage across the dead battery. I found someone else who had the charger I needed.
The average age of our group was 55. This gang of retirees from Bonita Bay, FL, almost certainly were the reason for the skewed average. They were amazing riders, too. I hope I can fly up those hills when I'm their age...
The view from the Rip Van Winkle bridge. We had a total of 5 Hudson River crossings along this route.
No doubt it will, but I kinda prefer non-fiction...
NYC is just a little ways away...
The Runcible Spoon, in Nyack, is a cycling hangout. Any given morning, you'll find the racks packed with all kinds of 2-wheeled transportation.
Those Bonita Bay people are some kind of party animals!
A couple of the younger riders hanging out by their tent after the ride up to Nyack Beach park.
Downtown Nyack has an amazing chocolate shop. We bought some stuff to go, but it didn't last very long.
Peyton was the youngest rider on this tour. He was 4 years old, and the stoker of a tandem (his dad was the captain). He completed the entire 220+ mile trip.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
It's been a while since I did any sort of "bike touring", which just means that you go from one place to another over the course of a week or so with a group of cyclists of varying abilities. You camp out every night, but you don't have to carry your own stuff. There's SAG service all the way, and most of the ovenight locations (college campuses or elementary school grounds, in our case) offer dinner or breakfast in the morning. Kind of like GOBA, but with fewer riders.
The ride goes from Albany to NYC over 6 days, an average of 40-some miles per day. The object, I'm finding, is to take your time with it, ride at a sightseeing pace, linger in the small towns along the way. I admit that it has taken me a few days to embrace that rhythm and learn to ride slow.Dave opted to load panniers onto his Surly for reasons entirely lost to me. As long as someone is hauling my camping gear and driving a SAG, I prefer to ride as unencumbered as possible. In any case, Dave is riding even slower than usual because of this, and I'm trying (I really am) to moderate my pace.
Once I get to upload some photos, I'll be able to better describe our experiences. For now, I'll just mention that we saw some amazing scenery, met a lot of interesting people, and rode some of the coolest roads. More later...
Sunday, August 1, 2010
It wasn't really a 'hiatus' anyway, but just a week of bad luck, crummy weather, and competing commitments.
(Ask Jackie if she thinks 3 flats on 2 bikes in 15 minutes is the least bit funny, or how she thinks she's gonna be able to ride a bike without a saddle... )
So, with one week before we take off for the Great Hudson Valley Pedal, I'm gonna go out and ride some more...