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.
Have you signed up?
Sounds easy, but it’s a little trickier than you’d think. I gave this a try last year and missed about 3 days out of 30, all weather related. Still, I rode a ton, and it wasn’t as if I was logging super long rides. Most of the rides I did was with my son around the neighborhood. This had several unplanned but wonderful results. First, I was able to spend more time with him. We weren’t in front of a TV or on the couch, we were riding bikes. Second, I was able to teach him some of the rules of the road. He’s getting to that age when he’ll want to be venturing out on his own soon, so I tried to instruct him to ride defensively. He gets a verbal quiz and if he does well, he gets to lead the ride. It’s a leap of faith for me to allow him in front of me on the road, even on our sleepy side streets, but little bird has to learn to fly sometime, right? I’m happy to be there coaching him along the way.
My son was very into the idea of 30 Days of Biking. There were days I wasn’t feeling super motivated that he dragged me out on the bike with him, and I was never sorry that he did. As a result, I rode more miles than I normally would have. I felt great, and it’s a great kickstart to the cycling season.
So ride someplace, every day. To the post office, the bank, around your neighborhood, or do a century. Just get on the bike, every day. You won’t regret it.
I couldn’t resist comparing ‘cross with one of my favorite movies–Fight Club. If you have seen it, it either disgusts you or you think it is genius. Men in particular connect with this movie, which was its target audience/subject. I am one of the few women I know who absolutely loves it. I haven’t met anyone who only feels medium about this movie. It’s all or nothing, love or hate.
I was a professional bookseller for 14 years and can discuss the literary worth of this piece of fiction (the book is always better than the movie), the role of masculinity in today’s modern society, the sexual orientation of the author–but for the sake of brevity and focus I’ll just discuss the analogy the my title makes. Cyclocross is Fight Club with Bikes. I know I’m still new to it, but there are philosophical elements to this sport that I can take with me throughout life. They feel similar to racing cyclocross. I’ll use some popular quotes to illustrate.
“How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?” ~Fight Club movie, screenplay by Jim Uhls, directed by David Fincher, novel by Chuck Palahniuk
Agreed. You learn more about yourself by experiencing difficulty. These races are difficult. No, it’s not violence. It’s not war. Perhaps it’s a safer expression of difficulty. Social norms still apply but it’s not called an hour in hell for nothing. Racing hurts. There’s physical pain. There is spiritual emancipation.
“You aren’t alive anywhere like you’re alive at fight club…. Fight club isn’t about winning or losing fights. Fight club isn’t about words. You see a guy come to fight club for the first time, and his ass is a loaf of white bread. You see this same guy here six months later, and he looks carved out of wood. This guy trusts himself to handle anything.” ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
The line “he looks carved out of wood” resonates with me. Over the last 3 months I’m seeing my softness wither and a leaner version emerge. The athletes at these races are fit, lean, and muscular. Racing hammers the soft parts away. Racing builds confidence. You race bikes for crying out loud! You can nail anything you try for.
“One minute was enough, Tyler said, a person had to work hard for it, but a minute of perfection was worth the effort. A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection.” ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
There are so many mistakes you can make over the course of a race. A hundred things at least to get wrong, or right. Having an entire minute of perfection within a race is hard to achieve. Perfection is fleeting, so it’s savored.
“May I never be complete. May I never be content. May I never be perfect. Deliver me, Tyler, from being perfect and complete.” ~Chuck Palahniuk
Being perfect is no fun. Who wants that? Perfection is boring. It’s the work we do on the road to perfection that is divine.
PS–this parting quote is worth noting….
“This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.” ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
So get on your bikes people!
I signed up for 30 Days of Biking, which officially begins tomorrow on April 1st. It’s no April Fool’s joke–a worthwhile endeavor that I’m now seeing might be a challenge for me. Here’s 30 Days of Biking one rule:
“Bike somewhere every day for 30 days—around the block, 20 miles to work, whatever suits you—then share your adventures online. We advocate daily bicycling because we believe it enriches lives and preserves the Earth. A worldwide, thousands-strong community of joyful cyclists has been forming around that idea since April 2010—and will further amass in 2012. “–from “Our Story” of 30 Days of Biking
It’s a good and simple rule. Although the commitment will take a concerted effort to change my morning routine. I’m not balking on my pledge–no, no. I’m problem solving. And that’s the good thing about taking on the challenge of 30 Days of Biking. It makes you really think about doing things differently.
Why 30 days? They don’t discuss this on their site, but I think it’s more than a convenient time measurement–a month’s worth of biking. Psychologists agree that 30 days is how long it takes for you to 1.) break a habit and 2.) create a new one. 30 days is the threshold for change. Just 30 days. In the scheme of life, it’s a drop in the bucket. But what a splash 30 days can make.
How different could life be if you cycled more? Better health, less gasoline consumption, more money in your pocket…I don’t know about you, but it’s about $50 a week at the pump for me. Imagine replacing your car with cycling. You’d save $200 a month. That’s $2400 a year. Gosh–that’s a least two shiny new bikes, or one really, really fast one.
Change never comes easy, and I’m not saying that this will be easy. I think it needs to be a little hard. But at the end of the month, will you be changed?
Don’t you want to be?
You know that expression, “why don’t you go pound some sand?” Well if you want to see what that looks like, watch the Cyclocross World Championship race this weekend.
The cyclocross season officially wraps up at the 2012 World Championship Race in Koksijde, Belguim. You can get a schedule and article here. Sand dunes are the dominating feature of the course and if you’ve ever pedaled through sand, imagine for a split second how these racers are going to feel. If you need some visual stimulation, check out this video.
It took some searching but I finally found a URL for live streaming coverage. I watched it last year as well and the lack of English commentary does not lessen the excitement.
Both men are from Massachusetts and I’ll be watching them from the home state. J-Pow just won the National Championship and is having a great year, it will be fun to watch him. And as always, I’ll be rooting for Timmy loudly. Here are a couple of pictures of these two American pros (and former teammates) in action from the Gloucester Gran Prix, Day 2, 2011. Powers won that race, by the way. And Johnson took second after leading for 95% of the race. They had some sand to contend with there too, on the coast of Gloucester, but nothing like what they are racing in Belgium. I wish them both good luck at the Worlds.
I’m going to start by explaining why I chose the image I did for this post. This is the leg of an Elite Woman Pro Cyclist. I have no idea who she is. She’s in the middle of a race during this photograph. But let’s all agree, she’s got a great leg, and we can assume the other one looks just as fantastic as this one does.
My legs are strong, but don’t look this nice. I chose this image because I need to stay focused on retaining some fitness during what is becoming the most snowy, inhospitable winter of my lifetime. We’ve received 61 inches of snow so far this season. Our seasonal record is 107 inches, and I remember that winter. This one is worse. The reason being that we’ve had little to no melting between storms, resulting in snowbanks 9 feet high, a permanent layer of thick ice on secondary roads, and ice dams on every single building across the entire region.
Running has stopped. Biking stopped in September. My workouts as of late have consisted of upper body arm toning by chipping away 10 inches of ice in my gutters. Doing 3 stories of stairs for 4 straight hours as I attempted to prevent many gallons of melting snow from pouring through every level of my house. This past weekend left me as physically exhausted just trying to minimize damage to my home from ice dams, it reminded me of how I felt after my 70 mile LIVESTRONG ride last August. I am sore, I am tired, but it’s not from riding my bike.
And now the glimmer on the horizon. I got back on the trainer. I’ve resisted it more this year than any other, But last week I got on and found I did pretty well. Instead of focusing on what I hate about the trainer, let me talk about what I liked:
- I liked feeling those familiar muscles in my legs as I pedaled.
- I liked the feeling of assuming the sideways V position on the bike.
- I liked that I felt like I could have gone longer.
So I need to suck it up and commit to the trainer, because truthfully, it’s not all bad. It’s the only way to keep any fitness at all this season, other than all the roof climbing and ice chipping and snow shoveling (at least my core is getting a workout).
Heather took the liberty of posting already about our first ride in nearly two years. I think the last time Heather & I struck out together we were at Mt. Toby in Sunderland on mountain bikes. Heather was fooling with her gorilla pod and trying to shoot video of our descent. It didn’t work out so well, but the ride was fun.
It was nearly 50 and the sun made it feel balmy, especially in comparison to our freezing temps and snowy weather. We logged 26 miles and if I had more money for a sitter we would have gone longer. I sense another SCAG ride soon–Heather called me at work today asking about a set of off-road trails near my house. “I hear they’re dry, up on ledge away from the snow melt. When are we going?”
OK, my last post: a little angry. The rain has been depressing. My apologies. I’m usually much more cheery :) A positive by-product of the terrible weather is that I’ve taken up running again, something I’ve done on & off since high school (3 years Varsity track). I don’t particularly care for running, but I cannot deny it’s benefits.
So I’ve been mixing it up. Mostly because I feel safer running in the rain then riding in it, since my first real crash on wet pavement last fall.
Running has it’s pros. It requires little equipment–just a good pair of running shoes. Prep time is less than 5 minutes. The workout is quicker. The results in fitness and weight loss seem quicker too.
On the con side, and this is a matter of opinion: it’s dull and monotonous. I get tired of running around my immediate neighborhood pretty quickly. I sweat more running, probably because I don’t run fast enough for the sweat to evaporate from my skin. And it’s hard. There’s no coasting in running. You can’t sit up and rest on the downhills. You just have to keep placing one foot in front of the other.
Riding’s pros are the speed, the varied terrain, the scenery, and the experience. I feel like I’m going somewhere when I’m riding, because I can go further than I can on foot. Cons are the prep time to get ready (pump tires, equipment check) and the gear involved (special shorts, jersey, shoes, water bottle, snacks, tools, Co2, maps, cell phone–the list goes on). Plus, it feels like a good workout is a two or three hour time investment. This is a particularly tough aspect for me–I am not a person with oodles of free time. But I love to ride, so I make the time.
The bottom line is that I want to stay in shape, so I use these two workouts to meet that goal. But I have to admit–I feel I’m getting more out of running than riding these days, despite my negative feeling toward running.
So–what do you think? Running or Riding? What do you find more beneficial? What do you enjoy more? Which is the better workout?
I discovered my bike had a flat Monday night, and since I lack the training to replace a simple tube, I needed to bring it into the LBS. Business travel and a full work schedule prevented me from getting it into the shop before Thursday. I needed a tune up anyway.
ME: “What’s the turn around time?”
MECHANIC: “We’re looking at the middle of next week.”
ME: “Oh. OK.” I accepted this as part of the deal. Of course, it’s spring now, their busy season. The bike mechanic must have sensed my disappointment. And he recognizes me now, since after shuffling around between 3 shops, I’m using this one a bit more lately.
MECHANIC: “I could probably get it to you for the weekend though. You’re a real cyclist, and a lot of these bikes are barely ridden all year long. Most of them don’t even need a tune up.”
I got my bike Friday evening, 24 hours later. And that LBS gets my business from now on.
I rode 27 miles today. Thank you Mr. Bike Mechanic.
–Karen (a bona fide “real” cyclist…lol!)
Apparently, I rode my bike three times last month, so riding twice in five days this month doesn’t count as new 2009 record. Well, there’s eighteen days left. Maybe I’ll reward myself with one of these. It was the usual errands by bike stops: post office, library, and the local bike shop. It was the owner of the LBS that got me thinking about the Fuji purchase. Damn him, he could sell snow to people in Antarctica.
Distance: 9.9 miles
Ride category: Wind chill factor reminder after I decided to wear shorts.