I injured myself last night, not while riding the bike, but largely because of excessive bike riding. Or, excessive bike riding without proper cool down and stretching. Only a few years ago, I could hammer for hours and then do some completely different exercise and never bat an eye. Maybe I’d be a bit sore, but a little Advil and I’d hop on the bike again. Gone are those days. Gone for good.
It made me think more about how things are changing now that I’ve crossed the age 40 mark. Things hurt more. I don’t recover as quickly. Although I’m working out more now than I ever have in my life (other than high school), and I feel I’m the strongest and fittest I’ve ever been, it’s still different.
How? For a glimpse of the future, see the chart below and plan accordingly.
You are a mere babe in the woods! You can drink beer all night, eat pizza, and ride and ride. You almost never stretch. Never do you gain an ounce. Lycra actually looks good on you.
What’s that? You gained 3 pounds? That’s your metabolism slowing down to a dull roar. You probably work full time now, or are slaving away in grad school and working part time. But on the weekend, you can hop on your bike and do a century with almost no preparation. You can race your bike and do all right. If you are serious about cycling, you are really coming into form right now. Lycra still looks amazing on you.
You spend the first 4 years of your thirties in utter disbelief that you are that old. Everyone in their 40′s+ finds this simultaneously adorable and annoying. Your face is leaner looking, yet these deposits of flesh can now be found cuddling your kidneys. You may be full engaged in child bearing now, and this will make you fat no matter if you are a woman or a man. Your job feels endless, and cycling is on the backburner out of sheer adulthood. If you have a super supportive spouse, you get to ride during the summer. A little. You use this to whack away the extra 10+ pounds that has found you.
You realize you are running out of sweet, precious time. You think now–now is the time to really make your mark with this sport. You are kidding yourself, and everyone knows it but you. Your ab muscles are in great shape, because you’ve become deeply practiced in sucking in your gut.
The wheels start to fall off. You hear a bell ringing in the distance on your 40th birthday, and later realize that’s the sound of your expiration date. Things on your body hurt for no reason. You tweak your back getting out of bed in the morning. You sit entirely too much at work. Wearing lycra is now a supreme act of either bravery or denial.
You hate the people who are still in their 40′s and complaining about how stuff hurts. They have no idea what’s next. You smirk and tell them they are being babies. And they thought you’d be understanding…..
You have transcended physical pain and vanity and are regarded as somewhat of a mystic of the sport. Lycra looks ridiculous on you as your body has naturally withered in some places and bulged in others, but dammit you are seeing this sport through ’til the bitter end. Your road bike is considered an antique, but has the retro charm that all those hipster kids are after. People of all ages admire you deeply, and hope they can age as gracefully. Your legs still look fantastic.
Whatever your age, just keep riding….but always stretch!
This week is the week schoolchildren pine for–their spring break, April Vacation. And while my son is doing a week long happy dance, I’m left trying to figure out how I’m going to get any saddle time this week.
I have some ideas….although it remains to be seen if they will pan out. I sometimes tempt my son to ride bikes with me, and although it’s not the kind of bike ride I would want to do, it’s something. He’s 8, so he peters out after about 5 miles. I can hire a sitter, but that gets expensive fast. I have one coming today, and at $8-10 bucks an hour, anything more than 20 miles gets pricey. I am planning to drive out to Boston to visit the family, and I could take the bike along, but truthfully there are no areas to really ride where my family lives. It’s too congested and drivers there see a point value when they see a cyclist on the road, so I have never tried a serious ride so close to the city. I heard Boston has improved, but alas, I just don’t trust my fellow Boston drivers with my life, for the sake of a quick workout. I also considered bringing my mountain bike home, since Lynn Woods is nearby and boasts some excellent mountain biking. Alas, I just don’t feel comfortable riding there solo, not due to difficulty level but do to crime. Again, maybe it’s improved since I grew up but too many dead girls wound up in the Lynn Woods when I was a kid, so I really don’t want to ride there unless my not-so little brother comes along.
Overall, I’m not feeling encouraged about the amount of riding I’ll get in this week. I hate to think that I would resort to the trainer, but I may have to.
Plans mean nothing, planning is everything. Eisenhower said this first, but it sums up the way I operate pretty nicely. That said, I have jotted the CX races I’m interested in participating in for 2013. Here is the schedule:
DATE Race Location
August 24 Monson CX Monson, MA
August 25 Blunt Park CX Springfield, MA
September 21 Aenta Silk City CX Manchester, CT
September 28 Great Brewers Gran Prix Gloucester, MA
September 29 Great Brewers Gran Prix Gloucester, MA
October 5 Providence Cyclocross Festival Providence, RI
October 6 Providence Cyclocross Festival Providence, RI
October 20 Sloper CX Southington, CT
November 2 Cycle-Smart International Northampton, MA
November 3 Cycle-Smart International Northampton, MA
November 16 Cheshire CX Cheshire, CT
November 30 Sterling CX Sterling, MA
December 1 Sterling CX Sterling, MA
Some of these dates are confirmed, others are educated guesses. The smaller races like Sloper and Cheshire and Silk City are repeats from last year. Hopefully they will be held again on these similar dates. Gloucester, Providence and Northampton are pretty set, and those are the big ones. I’ve attended Gloucester for many years but never races it–and I’m excited for that one. It’s close to my hometown and has by far the best crowd, and takes place next to the cold gray Atlantic ocean–an epic location for a ‘cross race. There is some uncertainty at the time of this writing as some local folks in Gloucester are against the race taking place since as it has grown, so has the wear and tear on the park immediately post race (the park heals nicely and within weeks you can see the grass growing back. By spring, no one would ever know a race took place at Stage Fort Park. But I digress…). If you want an absolute on the existence of these races, you’ll have to check BikeReg from time to time, although many don’t get posted until well into Autumn.
Absent from this list is Night Weasels. I want to do that race as well, but it’s typically held on a week night, which always presents a layer of difficulty in terms of work/childcare. I think that takes place in November sometime.
Of course there are a bunch of other races I’d like to do not listed above–especially in Maine and New Hampshire. We’ll see what I can sneak in, and what will need to be omitted. But I have a list, a working list, and that’s a good start. It’s also double the number of races I did last year.
Now, I just have to get that new carbon CX bike so I can worm my way to the middle of the pack….
Double meaning, anyone?
This week, temperatures are final climbing north of 40, which brings a waves of relief to those of us who have suffered through the winter with no end. It’s April next week, so we’re good and ready to leave the snow behind, just in time for 30 Days of Biking to begin.
It’s been snowy or windy or just plain cold the last two weeks. It has slowed my biking down a bunch, which I’m not psyched about, but I’ve stepped up my running a bit. My women’s pickup basketball group has secured a gym for the spring and we’re starting our pickup games again, which is a ton of fun as well. But I’d like to get started with longer rides soon.
This week I’m going to try and log 100+ collective miles. I’d like to get a month of those in, if possible. I’m in a unique position where I have some time to ride, and I don’t expect it to last forever, so I’m taking it while I can get it. I want a good base going into summer, and I want to keep it up and try to get faster in general going into the fall. My end game is of course cyclocross season, which constantly resides in the back of my mind, looking for a reason to slip front and center.
Today I took a short-ish ride on one of my familiar (i.e., getting dull) routes. I spiced things up by going off road for a bit. I have been riding the ‘cross bike almost exclusively for the past year and I just don’t want to give it up. I love dipping into the woods whenever I feel like it. I like mixing up the ride with some mud and wet sand, or like today-snow and roots, pine needles, standing ice water and a couple of dogs out for a walk chasing me, wanting to play. I really have to credit the ‘cross bike with keeping me engaged with riding. Other years I burned out, especially when training for a long charity event. But now, I just want more. It’s the best addiction ever, and now that the weather is finally getting a little friendlier, I’m able to get outdoors and play. I think it reminds me of when I was a kid playing on dirt roads in New Hampshire, jumping over roots and tearing through the woods on bikes with friends.
At any rate, Spring is supposed to be here, and this week I might start to believe it. There’s still snow in my yard. I need to stay off the trails until they dry out a bit, but the gravel and dirt roads are fair game, and I don’t mind playing in the mud.
I haven’t posted much here, because I’m struggling with winter (as I always do) and I’m trying not to be a party-pooper.
I have been riding, albeit not as frequently due to some major storms. I visit my trainer a couple of times a week, I have been running a bit, and when I can, I ride outside. It’s not as much as I’d like but I’m keeping up with fitness. I have even started doing Yoga. Rides haven’t been remarkable so there’s little to write about. It’s just about surviving until spring.
Just south of me in Pennsylvania, my friend Laura did a century last weekend. It got me thinking because despite how long I’ve been riding and some of the accomplishments I’ve had on the bike, I have yet to complete a century ride. I don’t care if I do this as a formal event or just on my own, but Laura and I are kicking around doing one together. Logistics would need to be worked out but its a fine idea.
I also signed up for the Warrior Dash in Barre, MA for June 29th. There’s a couple of folks from high school doing this as well and it would be good to meetup with them outside of Facebook. This year is my 25th High School Reunion and it’s a hell of a way to celebrate. I’m looking forward to it.
I still haven’t formalized all my goals for the year, but I aim to compete in a minimum of 10 CX races this year. I also am saving for a new ‘cross bike, preferable carbon fiber, fast and light. I’m trying to incorporate a bit more structure into my rides to actually increase my performance (speed), although I admit this is hard. I refuse to let riding become un-fun. This is not to say I will avoid an ass kicking ride, but more that riding always needs to reward and not become a tedious have-to-do chore. I’ve done that before while training for longer rides, and don’t wish to repeat.
Fun, faster, fitter, fresher. Improving is fun. Riding is fun. Exploring is fun. I anxiously await warmer temperatures and friendlier weather to see where 2013′s bike rides will take me.
Like most cyclists, I am a self-confessed data junkie. Because I love data, analysis, and retooling performance to achieve better numbers, I had resisted plunging all the way down the rabbit hole by getting a heart rate monitor. But after last season’s cross racing experiment, I decided–I’m in. Let’s do this, the right way. With data and stats and some real training. So I asked Santa, and Santa delivered.
My new HR Monitor is a Garmin and works with my Garmin Edge 500. I tested it out on my “high intensity day” yesterday and here was the result, as provided by my Garmin data and Strava:
I’ve started playing with the Miller Formula to learn where I should be. I am quickly learning that a lot of this is subjective, and not everyone is the same. According to the formula, my maximum heart rate is 181. But clearly my numbers are actually higher. These numbers are appropriate because it was a high intensity training ride, and designed to make my performance faster. But I should be hanging out in 130-150 zone to build endurance.
Heart Rate Zones for Exercising Chart:
* Healthy Heart Zone (Warm up) = 50 – 60% of maximum heart rate:
* Fitness Zone (Fat Burning) = 60 – 70% of maximum heart rate
* Aerobic Zone (Endurance Training) = 70 – 80% of maximum heart rate
* Anaerobic Zone (Performance Training) = 80 – 90% of maximum heart rate
* Red Line (Maximum Effort) = 90 – 100% of maximum heart rate
More to come on this as I learn more about training within heart rate zones. The reading I’ve done so far indicate that mixing things up will make me strong, fast and with enough endurance to last.
Yesterday I took advantage of a sunny day and headed up the Mohawk Trail for some skiing. I learned to ski shortly after learning to ride a bike, and had already tackled Killington at age 7. I love to ski, but over the years, I stopped. For the past 10 or so years I have skied just once. A lot of it was due to being a new mother, then a single mother, and having a young child. Skiing, like cycling, is a very expensive and time intense sport. I had to pick and chose. And you can cycle a whole lot more days of the year then you can ski–at least where I live in mid New England.
I went to Berkshire East–a small hill by skiing standards, but with $38 lift tickets and no lift lines, I wasn’t complaining. We’ve had a few nice snowfalls over the last couple of weeks, followed by cold temperatures that allowed for snowmaking, The slopes had packed power, nicely groomed like corduroy. There were a few ice patches but they were manageable.
Another plus–there was almost no one there, which meant I never waited for a lift. Unload at the top, ski down, ski right up to the chair, load back up. The chairlifts are older so they don’t run very fast, and the hill wasn’t tall so I reached the bottom fairly quickly. But I got a decent number of runs in, and the conditions were so lovely, it was nice to enjoy carving out turns without reckless teenagers or out of control novices interrupting the run.
I spent little time in the lodge, but was there long enough to notice this big banner draped on the railing inside.
After some research I learned that 2013 will be the second annual Berkshire Highlands Pentathlon. If you like bagpipes, read on. The race consists of 5 legs: a 10k trail run, 23 miles of road biking, 5 miles of kayaking, a mile to the top of the mountain and a downhill ski to the finish. They hold it in late March because it’s possible to do all 5 events during late winter/early spring. The allow teams of 2, 5 or single entries (know as Bravehearts). Yes, there is a guy in a kilt playing the bagpipes on a rock against a backdrop of open fields and mountains. It’s all for a good cause–local preservation efforts, and looks mildly insane. Of course, I’m interested. It will go under consideration for this year’s events to participate in.
A lot has happened this year, and like most years, some was planned, some was not. Here are the highlights.
Here are my Strava Stats:
Time 173hr 44m
Elev Gain 81,385ft
I know I did more than this number reflects. I only joined Strava in July and while I was able to download many rides from my Garmin, I didn’t always use my Garmin while riding earlier in the year. No matter. I broke all previous yearly distance records with these stats, even if they are incomplete.
Additionally, I ran a bunch. I was using Nike + and then stopped running and concentrated entirely on cycling. It’s only been in the last couple weeks I started running again, and now I’m using Strava for that too. But here are my combined stats from Nike+ and Strava for foot work:
Miles run 60.5
I had a knee injury last winter and went through about 3 months of PT. Additionally was fitted for orthotics. During that time I stopped running and didn’t cycle much either. When I did start working out again, it was all about the bike.
This was from left field. Although I had purchased a CX bike in 2011, I never planned on actually doing anything more than gravel roads with it. Go figure. Cyclocross has always excited me and I often try to explain it to people. I was at a dinner party last summer explaining it to the host, and at the end of the evening when everyone was saying their goodbyes, the host said “Hey, good luck with those races!” Then my co-blogger Heather talked about possibly doing one. Then my bike mechanic suggested I should enter a race as a personal challenge to myself. Then a Ladies MTB group I belong to on Facebook hosted a free Women’s CX Clinic 3 towns away. Too many signs to ignore, so I signed up for a race. One race turned into six and now I’m focused on having a better season next year, getting a lighter faster bike, and actually having a clue. It’s great fun and I’m kicking myself for not getting into this sport 10 years ago when I was in my thirties.
Starting a side business
As many of you know this year I launched a small side business called Sip, Clip & Go Coffee. It’s been a load of fun and I plan to continue to grow a customer base, and hopefully within a couple of years break even on my initial investment Most businesses don’t becomes profitable for at least 2-3 years and I aspire to make that timeframe. That said, my products received some wonderful reviews. I made some new friends and I value these new connections. To finish the year off, my coffee was named in the 2012 Holiday Gift Guide by Bicycling Magazine. I was blown away by receiving press attention from the world’s largest bicycling magazine in just 6 months of operation.
The sum up
This year was a good one. I finally exercised 5-6 times a week for most of the year. This felt nothing short of amazing and I always wanted to be in a position to exercise that often without sacrificing personal relationships or neglecting my career or my parental duties as a single parent. I’m not sure what 2013 will bring. I have a fair amount of uncertainty that I’m facing that has the potential to really curtail my ability to continue this absolutely wonderful healthy lifestyle. More on that later, or maybe not at all. I keep my posts focused pretty squarely on bikes. Suffice to say I am grateful to have had such a wonderful year riding my bike. I will set some new goals for 2013 and I hope to see you on the road.
I’ve been absent a bit. Sorry about that, I was off trying to get my groove back.
I didn’t do that last race of the season and I struggled with the decision right up until a a day after it was over. I wasn’t going to be happy either way. I probably should have done it, but meh–I didn’t. My year’s recap is still pretty freaking good.
I had been needing a break and resisting taking one. That said I managed to back off on my rides, started playing hoop again Saturday mornings, and started running a bit and hiking. When I cycle, 90% of my rides have been on the mountain bike. Low mileage, high fun riding. Making the transition to less riding and more resting, peppered with alternative exercise has been a bit uncomfortable. However, my legs finally feel fully recovered. I’m having a lot of fun exploring a network of mountain bike trails that is close by and I haven’t fully explored due to my focus on mileage and CX training.
I plan to approach 2013 with some seriousness in training. I plan to race again next fall, and I’m looking at building a credible base and at last some speed. I plan to upgrade my Strava membership, purchase a US Cycling License, and dive headfirst into heart rate, suffer scores, and watt analysis. I have about 5-7 pounds to lose, but I’m giving myself until September to do that
I’ll chronicle more tangible goals and events after Christmas. But for the last few days of 2012, I’m going to keep riding the mountain bike, increase my running distance and frequency, and enjoying my women’s pickup games, which have really taken off this year (I’m actually playing guard for the first time in my life, since 50% of the women showing up are 5’11″ – 6’1″ -I am 5’8″ in shoes).
I’m fighting off a funk in terms of my cycling routine. And I’m not going to blame the weather either. The weather is not an issue. It seems as suddenly all these crazy workouts have caught up with me. I had one good ride last week and I was rewarded with a tweaked hip that pinched a nerve and made it near impossible for me to cross my own kitchen, let alone pedal. I went mountain biking with a friend which was great–I liked the social aspect. But the ride was slower due to conversation and 5 minutes before we wrapped up I crashed and smashed up my left knee.
Also-last weekend I rolled my ankle and it’s been stiff ever since.
I officially sound like everyone’s older parent bitching about what aches. How awful of me. I don’t like it. I don’t like that my knees pop and crack when I try to get off the couch, and that my hamstrings are so tight they cramp when I bend down to pick up my son’s Legos.
What to do? A lot of folks advise some time off the bike, but I don’t know….I’m sort of afraid to stop. I feel like momentum is one of the things I have going for me.
This is where I am, wrestling between time off and another goal. The most immediate would be next weekend’s finale on the cyclocross season.
The New England Cyclocross Championships is a Dec 15/16 and in Fitchburg, MA. There are some good videos posted online and it doesn’t look like a really crazy course. Despite the name it’s really not a big race. There is a flyover which looks fun–you have to dismount, climb up, and remount at the top. I am looking at racing Saturday in the 35+ Masters Women group. Like anything, I have analyzed this to a ridiculous level and know that based on last year’s race it’s a small group, under 10 women, and that if I raced those same women from last year, I would finish last. I know that even if I do finish last, I will score low points as scored on crossresults.com, which will help my overall average and earn me a better starting position in larger races next year.
I am pretty proud of myself for doing all these races but after reviewing my results, I have a lot of improving to do and I do want to get better race results. So I suppose I should just take my creaky middle-aged body to Fitchburg next weekend.
I’m not committing 100% yet. I’m going to do my normal training plan leading up to a race and see how I feel after Wednesday. Then I’ll either pull the trigger or stay home and ride the couch. Then I’ll get it together to recap the year and set some new goals for 2012. Providing the Mayans aren’t right and all.