No time rides and being the QOM.

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I nailed my first QOM*  of the season a few days ago.  The best thing about this was that I wasn’t trying.

I was the current QOM and rode this segment many, many times. It’s a flat stretch of farmland connecting two main drags close to my home in a neighboring town. When I approached it, I thought to myself “just give it a solid steady effort, and see where you land.”  I was not an all-out, vomit when your finished effort.  It was a steady push.  I beat my PR by 8 whole seconds.

What?  How the hell did that happen?

I’ve been the popsicle rider all winter long, not riding much, not nearly enough.  My schedule has again become insane.  Between working all day a state away, 90+ minutes of car commute per day, my son’s extracurricular sports activities, and visiting my father, who has been in a hospital in Boston for the past 5 weeks (with many more to go), I have had very little opportunity to do what I want to on a bicycle.

It’s easy for me, at this point, to go on a rant about the unreasonable demands on my schedule, and moreover , my life.  I’m stressed. So what?  So are you.

If you think that those 6 miles road bike rides mean nothing, you are wrong. They do.  If you think taking the stairs at work 3 times a week doesn’t make a difference, you’re wrong again.  It does.  If you think that because you worked a 12 hour day and all you could manage was a jog around the block with your kid riding his bike next to you doesn’t mean you are exercising enough to matter……guess what?  It does.

My desire to ride my bike for as much and as long as possible have never been in question.  I share a common frustration with millions of Americans who want to lose a few pounds, feel stronger, and get some exercise.  We have no time. If you feel like cycling is something you love to do–don’t feel like you need to do a certain amount of it in order to “qualify” as a cyclist.  Little efforts can be impactful, and they are.  Cycling, as well as any fitness activity, is cumulative.

That doesn’t mean that when you do have the time, you shouldn’t hammer.  Don’t stop trying to get a 3 hour ride in.  Or a 4 hour ride in.  And if you’re feeling cheeky, try a good 30 mile ride and chase it with a 2 or 3 mile run.  Don’t stop the effort.  Make it a steady one. Because steady efforts, always pushing it just a bit, can make you the QOM of your next mountain.

-Karen

*QOM: Queen of the Mountain–an achievement for fastest women’s time of a road segment on the fitness tracker application, Strava  KOM: King of the Mountain for the fellas.

 

Spring is Here. Really.

It’s been a long hard winter for most of us–I couldn’t write here anymore because I didn’t think it would help to complain. So I didn’t. I was always here through, biding my time.  Now that Spring is here, I’m ready to begin again.

Not that I ever fully stopped, but this year has had a slow start.  I still have snow in my yard, but for all road biking purposes, it’s gone. Roads are wet with melt and muddy with sand that hasn’t been swept, but who cares?  It’s above freezing at last.  I’m way behind where I was last year in terms of fitness and miles, but not so far gone that it will take me long to ramp up.

Saturday I got out for a just shy of 40 mile ride, with a huge climb right in the middle. I’d like to start doing at least one “big” ride a week.  Right now big is 40 miles.  But soon I’d like to get 50-60-70 miles at a time.  I’m trying to stick to my plan in terms of working out–right now I’m only averaging 3x/week.  I’d prefer 5, but that will come.  I started running again, once or twice a week. I have my eye on an off road duathlon in April that I’ve done a few times before.  I’m talking my brother into doing it with me (this time I’d like to beat him).  It’s a 1.8 mile trail run, 5.5 mile MTB/CX off road ride, followed by another 1.8 mile trail run.  It’ll be done in an hour, but it’s a nice warm up for racing this year and I like the cross-training aspect of a duathlon.

Downhill: Mud, Sweat & Gears 2011. Ashland, MA

Downhill: Mud, Sweat & Gears 2011. Ashland, MA

The one tweak this time is that I’ll be doing it on my cyclocross bike.  The other times I did this race I did it on my mountain bike.  But I asked the race promoter and yes, CX bikes are legal.  They are also a hell of a lot faster.  I’m not a fast runner, and last time I was in the last 1/3 of the race after the run, and then moved up considerably during the bike portion of the race.  Unfortunately, the running at the end pushed me back again.  I’ll take any advantage I can get, and the carbon fiber Kona will do nicely.

Everyone get on your bikes!  Spring is here!

-Karen

Delayed Spring, Delayed Training.

Mid march and the icy grips of winter seem to be easing at last. Like most cyclists, I’ve pushed back any kind of structured training week after week, trying to stay active by shoveling snow, skiing and snowshoeing. I’ve ignored the trainer because I freaking hate it. Sorry but the trainer sucks. I’d rather ride in the snow (and sometimes I have).

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I’m not really sweating it, but I’m eager to get started. My schedule is tough but I’m pretty good at wringing a workout out my my busy life.  To get started, I’m looking at different events to guide my training goals through the spring and summer. The Fall will take care of itself and be exclusively focused on cyclocross (of course). Here’s what I’m looking at for spring/early summer. Nothing definite but here’s the (very short) list:

Rockbuster Duathlon-Ashland, MA.                                                  Saturday April 19th, 2014

This is a 1.8 trail run, 5.5 mile off road bike, 1.8 trail run. I’ve done this race twice before in the fall under the name of Mud, Sweat and Gears. It’s a good event, a mass start, and a lot of fun running around the woods. I contacted the race organizer and asked if cyclocross bikes were allowed and they are! I’m going to see if my little brother can join me for this one, as he has before.

Root 66 Domnarski Farm Mountain Bike Race-Ware, MA             Sunday June 1, 2014

This one is close by. Sort of. The landowners encourage pre-riding so I hope to get out there in May to recon the course. I’m planning on renewing my US Cycling License and will be doing the Cat 3 (Beginner) Masters Women Race. I’ll be a little nervous only because I haven’t done a mountain bike race in about 12 years. I don’t plan on doing any other MTB races at this point but I’m surfing bikereg.com to see if anything looks fun and is on a free weekend. The best part about this race is that I plan to be on a brand new bike by that time. As soon as the government forks over my tax return I’m marching down to the LBS and picking out a new bike. Yay!

I’m still considering the summer. I need to connect with Laura of PA for a century ride, either organized or not. It would be my first century ever. I’m looking at doing an Obstacle Course Race for fun (and for beer). I’m also looking at the D2R2 at the end of summer (as I consider this every summer, I still have yet to sign up) plus a few other events. Lots of want to’s. There will only be a few that will work out for me.  Meh–this is how is goes. I do what I can.

-Karen

The Next Three Weeks

The Next Three Weeks

In like a lion, out like a lamb.

Goals Check #1 Cycling in Hoth

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Winter 2013-2014

Here we are mid-February and in the Northeast we have oh–about 3 feet of snow on the ground.  Cycling outside has been curbed significantly.  The trainer has been avoided, mostly because it’s the trainer.  And even running has been difficult due to icy streets, sub zero temperatures, and my complete lack of a babysitter. I’m not making the goals I outlined for myself.  At best, I’m working out 3x a week, not 5.  That might seem like plenty, but in my mind, it feels like next to nothing.

Let’s review, these were my goals:

Chunk #1- Januaryish to Marchish
Ride 3x a week
Run 2x a week
Events planned: None.

I’ve always been an opportunist about working out.  I really have no choice.  I take what I can get.  Not accounted for on Strava are the women’s pickup basketball I’m playing Saturday mornings now (this is my 3rd year).  That at least keeps my cardio up.  This week I had a short stay in Florida, where there is no snow.  I did a lot of walking and swimming and even hit the treadmill for a 3 mile jog.  

The good news is that it was in the 40′s today, and may reach 50 by the weekend.  There is a huge melt underway.  Colder temps are supposed to return next week, but this weekend, I’m riding outside, both days.  I cannot wait.

-Karen

While Old Man Winter Wasn’t Looking…..

Heather & I road some bikes.  Yeah, it was raining, and yeah, there was some snow, and some ice, and some mud.  But it was above freezing, which sadly qualifies as “good weather.”

Resting after a stream crossing.

Resting after a stream crossing.

I’m deeply grateful that I have a crazy enough friend who lives close by enough to join me to ride in these conditions. I am managing to get out about once every week or two, but as evidenced by the snow you see above, it’s hasn’t always been possible to ride.  And when there wasn’t several inches of snowfall to contend with, there was the “Polar Vortex.”

The icy ascent.

The icy ascent.

Anyway, it was good to ride outside, and have some company to boot.  We kept the elevation under 1000 ft, but the extra effort pedaling through a few soft inches of snow and tire sucking mud didn’t make us feel like we were slacking off.

As I type, 4 new inches of snow lie in my yard, and another 6-12 predicted tomorrow night, with a Nor’Easter predicted for Sunday with a rumor of several feet of snow.

That groundhog?  Call the exterminator.

-Karen

Shiver Me Timbers: #Strava Ride Today

Today’s ride was c-c-c-c-cold. The 26 degrees wasn’t so bad, it was the blasting headwind, gusting strong at 30+ MPH that was tough to take. I stayed closed to home and took it slow at times, steady most of the ride.  I really didn’t enjoy this ride, and mid way through I found myself just wanting it to be over.

This winter is the toughest I’ve had on the bike in some time.  The temps have been extremely cold, and whenever I do have an opening in my schedule to ride, it’s often snowing.  I’ve been dabbling with the trainer just to get some energy out and to keep my legs in some kind of shape, but I’m really seeing why the pros just move to California during the winter months to build their base miles.

Anyway, I climbed the Notch, which isn’t the hardest hillclimb but it’s not something I usually do in January.  Hills are my friends, hills are my friends, hills are my friends.  I’ll be grateful come summer when I’m faster for it.

-Karen

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