Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Why I like to ride with the guys

Tuesday and/or Thursday nights I ride with the Summit Freewheelers.

They're a racing development club, which means they attract a lot of young males with shaved legs and very, very expensive bikes. But even the 'older' guys in the group like to ride fast.

And then there are the women in the club. Oh wait, that would be me.

When I joined SFW 5 years ago, I was intimidated. Just showing up the first time took a lot of courage on my part. When the pack of 20+ riders rolled out of the parking lot, I hung with them for about 15 minutes before falling off the face of the earth.

I vowed to come back next week and hang on longer.

The next week, the pack turned up Everett Rd., and pushed the pace to 18 mph all the way up. I caught them at the top (OK, they stopped to regroup). Still gasping for air, I took off with them toward Hinckley and beyond. They rode like they were being chased by zombies. I watched them go.

I vowed to return next week and hang on longer. And to bring a map.

But I DO like riding with the guys, and here's why:
  1. SPEED. We're riding on Riverview in a double paceline, and I look down at my computer and it says 28 mph. And I'm not pedaling.

  2. SKILLS. I've learned how to ride in a pack, avoid road obstructions, and corner at high speed. I've learned to anticipate the sprint and try to respond to it. I've learned that when I think I'm ready to give up, I can go longer - and harder. I've learned to hang on.

  3. MOTIVATION. There's nothing like being 20 miles from nowhere, pushing hard to keep up with the group because if I get dropped I've got no idea where I am or how to get back. (Oh yes - necessity is a mother...)

  4. NEW ROUTES. I get to ride to places I wouldn't have known about otherwise. And still be back before dark.

  5. NO WAITING. At least, I'm not waiting for anybody. I can't say the same for the guys...

  6. POWER. Taking a pull at the front - even if it's short - is an endorphin rush.

  7. CONFIDENCE. The fact that these guys don't leave me in the dust is kinda nice.

  8. PERSEVERANCE. I've had to learn to set aside some inhibitions, insecurities, and indecision - as well as some delusions about my own abilities.

  9. QUADRICEPS. Riding with the guys requires that I push my own physical limits, every time.

  10. TESTOSTERONE. Do I mind being the lone female rider in a group of guys? What do you think?

Gals - if you're looking to shake up your riding routine, come on out for a club ride with SFW! You won't be disappointed.

Selene Yeager, Bicycling mag's 'Fit Chick', has lots to say about this topic, too (click here).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Twin Sizzler Training Ride

Just a few photos from our ride yesterday morning.
Group shot: Andrea, Kim, Trish, Stacy, Me, Tina, and Jackie. Sara started off with us, then had to rush off to a mountain bike race, so she's not in the photo. Then she had another event later in the day. Sara is on FIRE!

Dan and John were our token guys along for the ride. It was great to have you guys join us!

So, who's all in for the Twin Sizzler race on the 4th of July? (Tina and Dan tell me that the pancake breakfast is REALLY good, too.)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

RECOVERY: Go out and play!

One of the hardest workouts for most cyclophiliacs and other athletic types is the RECOVERY DAY.

Why are we so reluctant to take a day off from our workout routines? Is it because we still haven't left the 1980's, when 'No pain, no gain' was our mantra? Do we really think we're going to lose all of our fitness if we decide to bag a workout?

I've been following a lot of training philosophies since my Jane Fonda aerobics videotape days. Thankfully, fitness science really has evolved since then.

Trainers like Phil Maffetone, Chris Carmichael, and Joe Friel (my favorites - I'll write more about them in the future) emphasize the critical nature of rest in any training plan. And I have to admit, the older I get, the more important recovery days become, not only to ward off injuries, but also to reap the most benefit from my training.

Personally, I like my recovery days. They let me take guilt-free time off from riding or running, and allow me to indulge in other fun things like working out in the yard or walking the boys or going out with friends.

Here's one of my secrets: I always take off at least two days before an important event. Prior to Double Duathlon Weekend, my last training session was on Wednesday, and it wasn't a hard workout, either. (Yes, I know I did a duathlon the day after a duathlon, but that was because of the planning capabilities of the event organizers - not my choice).

Monday and Tuesday were both recovery days for me, because of the intensity of the back-to-back workouts and because my life was pretty much consumed by race preparation stuff the entire week prior. In fact, I started 'recovering' early, with a celebratory Cucumber Margarita at Momocho!

Recovery doesn't have to mean 'no workout', either. It just means 'easy'. Leave the heart rate monitor at home. Go out and play.

My favorite recovery workouts:

What are your favorite recovery day workouts?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Double Duathlon Weekend

What an exciting weekend this was! Back-to-back duathlons: Nordonia on Saturday, and Twinsburg today.

Nordonia Duathlon

No rain, but it was really humid at the race start. I was sweating buckets. There were about 150 participants, a pretty good turnout considering the OTHER duathlon the following day. Jackie's FIRST duathlon - the first of many, I suspect. Every photo Dave took of her she's smiling, so I think she's hooked.

Jackie's goal was to finish, and she did that just fine. What's next year's goal, Jackie?

My goal was to finish well, with the same or better time as last year. I did that, which got me a second place finish for women (all ages). I got a coffee cup and a $50 gift certificate to Fleet Feet. I'm gonna get me a new pair of shoes!

Twinsburg Duathlon

Inaugural event, bad planning and/or no communication with the event planning committee in Nordonia but it wasn't as bad as I thought to run two of these races back-to-back (not that I really want to do that again). Maybe Mike's paella and Diane's cake last night fueled me up for the race!

Race started early early, and when I got up it was POURING rain, big thick ominous clouds, and it just looked downright scary. Not to mention the tornado warnings until 9 AM - yikes!

Stayed dry for the race, even the roads weren't so bad (probably because of the wind gusts).

Lots of Grunt Girls were doing this race, many of them for the first time. You GO, girls! What a great group.

Mark, Cindy, and the girls came out to cheer me on during the bike leg, which pumped up my motivation in time for the climb up Glenwood Drive. Fast, fun course. Good traffic monitoring. Weird awards.

I took first in my age class - not bad for my tired legs!

Congrats to Shelley, Andrea, and Diana - and to all the other Grunt Girls who finished the race.


I’ve got a confession to make: I’m having an affair.

I know it's hard to break the news to you this way, and I know you're shocked. Dave knows about 'us', too, so there's no secret to keep. It’s a recurring affair, a seasonal thing. But it’s not just a little summer crush. It’s a hot, sweaty, unholy obsession.

I’m in love with my bike.
Something happens in the springtime, when this woman’s fancy turns to thoughts of the open road, screaming descents, gear-grinding climbs. Long hot days of two-wheeled wandering. Cool evenings of shadow-to-shadow sprints.

The perfect union of the body and the Bianchi.

I got it bad, too. I try to hide my addiction from my friends and family. I decline invitations, make up excuses. My work suffers. I can’t concentrate. I replay last night’s club ride over and over again in my head. I plan my next fix.

Dave is a bit jealous. He watches us, my bike and I, riding away together, falling into our own perfect cadence. But I'm undeniably happy when I'm with my bike. Hours slip away. I get lost and don't care. I'm left breathless.

Maybe I should seek help, like Tiger Woods. Hello, my name is Pam (“Hi, Pam”). I’m a cyclophiliac. I love the smell of chain grease. I crave Gu. I think farmer’s tans are sexy…

On the other hand, maybe bike love isn’t all bad. I can think of plenty more harmful obsessions. Riding hard and often keeps me sane (endorphins, you know). I like to think that I'm much less cranky after a ride. Even Dave can't argue with that.

Joseph Campbell always said to follow your bliss. I think I'd rather ride mine.

And if these justifications still make you uncomfortable, consider this: this affair won’t last. Once summer’s gone and cold weather sends me back indoors, that bike is going up on the windtrainer, and I HATE the windtrainer.

So for now, I’ll take this relationship as far as I can.

Sorry, Dave. I guess I’ll see you in September.

Bike or Spouse? Take the quiz!