In like a lion, out like a lamb.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
When my brother gave me a $75 gift card to Bike Nashbar for Christmas, I’m sure he didn’t think he’d be the tipping point in me deciding to build my own bike. I just learned how to change my own tires last year, so sure, I can build a bike, right? Right.
I purchased an aluminum cyclocross frame off Nashbar’s site and paid about $30 for it. That was mostly for shipping. I took advantage of the gift card, a fantastic post holiday sale and Nashbar’s brand frame. As soon as I ordered it, I tweeted about it, which resulted in a flurry of closet bike mechanics coming out of the woodwork giving me advice. Wow–I had no idea how many bike builders I knew. I know next to nothing, but with their help, and the Internet, I’m learning so much. And that was partially the intent of taking this project on.
Now, armed with a ton of online articles, Twitter, and an amazing spreadsheet from Ashley from Aerochick, who built her first bike last year, I am researching parts and slowly buying what I need. I’m giving myself until September to finish it. I’m planning on building a single speed cyclocross bike, and racing it occasionally in 2014. With talk of the Single Speed World Championships coming to Boston in 2014, I want to give the fringiest part of my fringe sport a try.
I’ll keep you posted on the build, how it goes, and where I run into trouble (I’m sure I’ll run into a bunch). I know there are a few stages that require me to bring it to the LBS for installation (feeling no shame–Cyclocross Magazine even recommended this), but otherwise, I’m going to try and give everything a good college try before taking it to my mechanic for help.
I’ve been an avid cyclist for 14 years now, and never heard of the “one leg drill” before. I’m hanging around the right people on Twitter, and just learned the term. After Googling “one leg drill cycling,” I learned plenty. Recommended in the early weeks of base training, a one leg drill is performed on the trainer and is made to build strength. Watch this great video to illustrate how it’s done.
I’ve been reluctantly spinning on the trainer from time to time lately, no more than an hour–I just can’t take the tedium of a longer time period. The weather coupled with my work schedule hasn’t allowed riding outside. I last rode outside almost 2 weeks ago, and before that, another 2 weeks. This weekend looks highly questionable for outside cycling; as I type even more snow swirls and falls outside. It is 8 degrees.
So OK, I want to do the work, and the work will have to be on the trainer. I unclipped, spun for .3 mile, re-clipped, then repeated on the other side another .3 mile. Guess what? It was HARD. I should have done more. More importantly, I should have done it in an easier gear. I went back to the Internet (after I finished spinning) and got the following instruction:
Unclip one foot and rest it on a chair next to the bike so you are left to pedal with only one leg. With the bike in a low (easy) gear turn the crank at a comfortable cadence. The first thing you’ll notice is that getting through the top of the stroke, the 12-o’clock position, is difficult. Focus on smoothing this top transition. At first you may only last a few seconds before the hip flexors fatigue. When that happens switch to the other leg. When it fatigues clip both feet in and pedal for a few minutes applying what you have learned in the single-leg pedaling. Repeat the drill several times throughout the workout.
I did notice the “dead zones” in my pedal stroke they discuss in the video. I can see how this engages more muscles and works the leg much more specifically.
I’m really having a tough time with the lack of real riding over this winter, and there is no end in site. I am trying to stay active in the evenings, but oftentimes I am not free to workout until after 9PM, and let me tell you, that just ain’t happening. So I’m going to try and do the one leg drill thing, at least once a week, and several times during the workout.
**LAUNCH ANNOUNCEMENT & INVITATION**
Do your plans for 2014 include getting on your bike or maybe even trying out a little racing? Or perhaps you know someone who does? Check out Second Crack Cycling – a fun recreational women’s cycling club hatched by Vicki Bocash of Evverge Creative and me! Karen Lynn of Sip, Clip, & Go! Coffee.
We love bikes, coffee, and good design & technology. In addition to all those things being a bit like crack to us, in coffee roasting terms, the “second crack” is the point of roasting when the coffee bean cell wall breaks open and the richer flavor develops. That being said, this may be our second+ time around on many things, but we like to think we just keep getting better one sip and pedal stroke at a time.
Sometimes it’s tough to hit the reset button when you’ve been out of the game for a while, or just feel a bit intimidated or don’t want to go it alone. It doesn’t matter your geography, or if you are a beginner or already belong to another club or team, we welcome all affiliations and skill levels – and encourage it, actually. Same goes for the dudes who support, train/race with, encourage, heckle and cheer us on. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we do intend to have some serious fun! And we’re not afraid to try new things. We also like to mix it up with other sports and recreational activities and spend as much time as possible outdoors. But our common ground is cycling and its soul-liberating power! Almost every discipline of cycling is open: road, recreational, mountain biking, and even cyclocross. We love it all! Racing is NOT required, but if you’re game, so are we. Vicki competes in Triathlons, Cyclocross, and is generally up for anything. Karen competes in Cyclocross, Mountain Biking, Dirt Road rides/Events, Road Cycling Rides (no races), OCR (Obstacle Course Races like the Warrior Dash) and 5Ks.
Join in the fun and get cracking!! Club kit apparel and random merchandise will be available for the upcoming season. Connect with us while we crack the code on a new website and make plans to organize opportunities to ride, train and race together.
Please send us your ideas, comments and suggestions and please pass along!
Main Website: TBA (in development)
We welcome you to the sport of cycling, and encourage you to get on your bikes and ride!
-Karen & Vicki
OK, OK. It’s goal setting time. It’s not that I haven’t been thinking about it, but over the years I’ve learned to become more flexible in goal setting (it’s true! I’ve lightened up a bit!). That said, I have so much I want to accomplish. I think it’s reasonable to break out the year into chunks to better manage all the things I want to do.
Chunk #1- Januaryish to Marchish
Ride 3x a week
Run 2x a week
A good portion of my riding will have to be on the trainer. We have about a foot of cold white snow out there right now and a new weather term to discuss at the water cooler, Polar Vortex.
Events planned: None.
Chunk #2 Aprilish to Juneish
Ride 4+x a week
Run 1-2 a week
As much mountain biking as I can do (depending upon trail conditions)
Ramping up road mileage.
At least 1 CX ride (dirt roads, light trails) per week.
Events planned: Fat Tire Classic in Farmington, CT April 20, 2014 (tentative) MTB Race, Cat 3 40+ Masters
Kingdom CX in Victory, VT May 3, 2014 MTB/CX Race, 25 miles
Root 66 Domnarski Farm MTB Race in Ware, MA June 1, 2014 MTB Race, Cat 3 40+ Masters
Chunk #3 July to August
Ride 5+x a week–Base miles, big miles.
Cross skills practice 1x a week.
Intervals 1-2x a week.
Events planned: VT Overland Gran Prix in Woodstock, VT August 24, 2014 CX/Dirt Road Race, 53 miles
Monson Cyclocross Race in Monson, MA (alternative event to VT Overland) CX Race
Blunt Park Cyclocross Race in Springfield, MA (alternative event to VT Overland) CX Race
Chunk #4 September-December
Ride 4x week–cyclocross season. Hard weekends–racing or training. Hard Wednesdays.
Cross skills 2-3x week.
Intervals 1x week (Wednesdays)
Running if I feel ambitious.
Events planned: Ooff. 10+ Cyclocross Races! Which ones? Nothing is officially scheduled yet, but here’s a partial list of races I’d like to compete in 2014.
Quad CX in Maynard, MA
The Night Weasels Cometh in Shrewsbury, MA
Gloucester Gran Prix in Gloucester, MA
Providence Cyclocross Festival in Providence, RI
Cycle-Smart International Cyclocross in Northampton, MA
Orchard CX in Hampton, NH
Sterling CX in Sterling, MA
Cheshire CX in Cheshire, CT
DAS Beaver CX in Dayville, CT
I’d like to compete in some smaller CX races, if possible. I do love the bigger races, the Gloucesters the Northamptons, the Providences….but they kill my points and I need some smaller races to even me out. Plus I feel like it’s easier to meet people at the smaller grassroots races.
My biggest goal for my 2014 Cyclocross Season is a top 50% finish. I know I’m capable of this and I need to set my sights on being fast and strong. I have a healthy season of larger race-oriented events (although I see these less as races than as events to build my strength and experience).
I have been told that the sophomore season of any sport is the hardest. Hardest, with the most growth. The 3rd year is supposed, supposed to be the year where that growth is realized. Time will tell, but I’m looking forward to a terrific 2014.
This will be short & sweet. I should have written down my numbers for 2013 so I don’t have exact stats. Fortunately I still have enough brain cells to remember the ballpark….
Distance 2710 mi
Elev Gain 118,000+++ft (should have written this one down!)
148 miles run, walked, hiked or skied.
Time 173hr 44m
Elev Gain 81,385ft
Happy that I crushed last year. I took on more climbing and found that it really made me stronger and faster. More of that in 2014. I’m not sure I’ll be able to match these achievement given my heavy work schedule. But I’ll have a great time trying.
Now that my CX season is officially over, I wanted to evaluate my results. I do this for fun, but always want to improve. I was on the USA Cycling site to check out renewing my license when I noticed a ranking result for all the races I competed in. Someone compiled stats for me and broke it out into a percentage? Yay! Now you’re talking. Almost as fun as Crossresults.com.
OK so the screen shot is a bit small. here’s the data:
|YOUR CYCLO-CROSS CAT 4 STANDINGS|
|Rank in your zip code (01075)||1 of||1||(First)|
|Rank in your state (MA)||25 of||65||(38.46%)|
|Rank in your riding age (44)||7 of||41||(17.07%)|
|Rank in 5 year age range (40-44)||24 of||156||(15.38%)|
|Rank in 10 year age range (40-49)||36 of||276||(13.04%)|
|Overall Rank||184 of||1203||(15.30%)|
Mind you there is a Cat 3, 2, and 1 above me. I’m a beginner. But I did achieve several (but not all) goals this year.
- Have fun. Check!
- Finish. No DNFs!
- Stay upright. Not all the time. I had my first over the handlebars during a race crash at CSI CX in Northampton. I wiped out pretty good at the DAS Beaver CX too (icy corner). There were other times, I can’t really remember. No injuries, and that’s what I was going for. Hop back on and keep going!
- Don’t finish last. Success!
- Middle pack. Pretty consistently yes! I’m most pleased about this.
- Top 50% I fell 1 place short of this on 2 occasions. Next year I need to make this happen.
The USA Cycling Stats helped my ego significantly. Maybe it’s because I’m in New England and the cyclocross scene here is so strong with so many top level riders, some who will be competing on an international stage in a few years (thinking about the 14 year old who killed a field of 80 Cat 3/4 women….there are other youngin’s schooling the rest of us, I wish them all well), but at any rate, I really didn’t feel like I was a top 15% Cat 4.
So next year- next year the goals list remains. A reach goal would be to worm my way into a Cat 3 ranking. I’m not sure how that works, what kind of results I need to achieve to get that upgrade. I’ll have to consult the rule book.
Nonetheless I completed 10 races and feel great about it. It was hard on my personal schedule to get to all these races. There was a bit of a financial stain as well: registration fees, gas money, speciality foods and portable nutrition, many tires, many tubes, extra bike maintenance, and perhaps most expensive, time. Time is a rare commodity for me, and as the light began to fade as solstice approached, I got less and less time on my bike. I went from 4 to 6 hours a week on my bike to 1.5 to 2. Performance fell accordingly.
All and all, 2013 was a great year, and with a few things brewing (pun intended) for 2014, I’m seeing the trajectory continue upward.
Happy New Year!