Slow Ramp Up

I’m lying on my couch right now, looking at my road bike which needs a tube change before tomorrow morning’s ride. I cannot summon the energy to do it.

I worked out twice today, once on the bike, again with a 4 mile hike, and I can’t tell if I’m just that out of shape, or if I’m really feeling my age these days.

My rides have felt slow to me in 2015.  It’s almost May–I got a late start (we all did here in the Northeast), but I’m still feeling like riding is taking more effort than it should.  Was my hibernation that profound?  Is the hole I’m crawling out of that deep?  I don’t know.

I’ve set some goals for myself and I put some serious thought into them to make them reasonable, yet not too soft.  I’m still super pressed for time, sneaking in rides here and there–an hour on the bike when I can grab it. When I do ride, it’s almost always on the cross bike, and I almost always try to add something different:  a new path.  A piece of dirt road I haven’t explored yet.  Even just riding the grass next to the road. If it’s going to be an effort, I need to keep it fun.

Today I stayed local while my son was at baseball practice, and explored the banks of the Connecticut River.  I saw a loon and came across these raccoon tracks.  These are the perks of exploring with a cross bike.

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I finally hired a sitter–who starts tomorrow, The extra time I buy (literally) will allow me to push into rides that are 2, 3 or more hours. I need the base miles, more time in the saddle, to stretch and build my conditioning.

But again, right now I’m barely able to lift my arm to change the channel on the TV with the remote. Hopefully as I slowly re-enter my exercise routine my fitness will return and I won’t feel so shattered every weekend.

-Karen

Looking for Cookie and a Good Deed Done

Last Sunday I got to ride. After a leg stretching 18 miles in a balmy 40 degrees. I returned to my girlfriend’s place. As I was cleaning my bike up out front, an elderly woman approached. I greeted her and she said she was looking for her lost dog. After some prompting, I got a description of her little mostly white dog, Cookie, and offered to spin around the neighborhood looking for the little guy.

I rode around through the immediate neighborhood, and then hers. I stopped another older woman on her walk and asked if she had seen a little lost dog named Cookie. She asked where, and  told her what road the woman lived on. The woman exclaimed, “My daughter lives there!” She agreed to talk to her daughter and I pedaled on, calling “Coooooookie!  Cooooooookie!” I weaved down side streets and cruised slowly, scanning for little lost Cookie.

I turned back down the woman’s street and notice the walker I had stopped standing in the middle of the street, talking to a man and waved me toward her. I rode over and entered the discussion.

The man was the son of Cookie’s owner. I told him “I’m looking for a lost dog for a woman, it’s small and white and named Cookie.” He replied, “The woman is my mother, and that dog has been dead for years. I’m more concerned about where my mother is.”

Oh. Well I could still help. I knew where his mom was. He explained she gets a bit confused and occasionally wonders off her walking route. All was well that ended well. Mother was found, and I returned home shortly after.

This story didn’t turn out how I thought it would, but it felt good to help out in a small way. It’s sad that we age at all, and the results of aging for everyone varies, but no one choses how time will diminish us. That might sound strong–I don’t mean it to–but it captures my fear of aging. I want to remain as strong and sharp as I can for as long as possible. The march of time is without escape. Riding keeps me young–I feel like a kid when I’m on my bike.  I’m counting on that to help me as I travel through the last half of my life.

-Karen

The Nudge

Last year Laura and I had a bet, and I won. It was that same one we had in 2013-who can ride the most miles on their bike in a calendar year. She won that one. The prize this year, which had never really been discussed, was decided to be a day on bikes together. Given that she lives outside of Philly, and I in western Massachusetts, and given we both have crazy schedules, this wasn’t an easy prize to deliver on.

This weekend they posted the JAM Fund Grand FUNdo ride on Bikereg. The FUNdo is 68 miles with 5300 feet of climbing and benefits the developing professional cyclocross team founded by current US Cyclocross Champion Jeremy Powers, Alec Donahue and Mukunda Feldman. This ride is supposed to AWESOME, and it happens nearly in my back yard, and I’ve never been able to do it because of childcare reasons. This year, they moved it out a week and I’m free to do it. Win. I posted the link on her FB page and before I knew it, she signed up and so did I–and it’s on! We’re hanging out and riding bikes all day July 25th. I’m so excited!

This was exactly the nudge I needed too–yes there are races peppered through my schedule this summer and more regularly in the fall, but this is a big ride. 68 miles, 5300 feet of climbing, 20 miles of dirt. And all in the bosom of the beautiful Pioneer Valley. This is the event I needed in my schedule to train for.

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Not from the Fundo–but you get the idea….

I’m not a great climber and long distances burn me out–so I’ll need to prepare carefully. Most of the prep will surround food, hydration and timing of these two important elements. I’ll train too, off course, for the distance and the hills–I know I can do it–it’s just not being completely destroyed afterwards.

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Image credit: Jam Fund website http://www.jamcycling.org

And bonus–I already talked to mysterious co-blogger Heather about this event and it’s on her list to do. Additionally, I’d bet money a bunch of the NCC guys I chat with on twitter will sign up (guys if you are reading I know you are a lot faster than me but at least I’ll see you at the pig roast).

Totally stoked for this event! Hopefully the weather gods are kind and the winds are at our backs. To sign up and support the JAM Fund, go to BikeReg and check it out!

-Karen

Training Starts Now

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Sometimes a nudge can set plans in motion.

Because we have had so much snow, I’ve enjoyed a few extra weeks to make plans about cycling. So what’s to plan? Well–a lot. It takes a lot of thought to juggle a full time job, full time parenthood, and then tackle aggressive cycling goals.

Broad goals

  • 3000 miles in 2015
  • Three top 50% Cyclocross Finishes
  • 10++ races/events

Events on the tentative schedule for 2015 (some will be added, some subtracted…)

  • Domnarski Farm MTB Race June 7th
  • JAM Fund Grand FUNdo July 25
  • Forest Park CX Race August 22
  • Blunt Park CX Race August 23
  • Spartan Sprint OCR August 29
  • TBD CX Race September 5-6
  • TBD CX Race September 19-20
  • The Gran Prix Gloucester Cyclocross Race September 26-27
  • The Night Weasels Cometh CX Race September 30
  • KMC Providence Cyclocross Festival & CX Race October 3-4
  • TBD CX Race October 17-18
  • Cycle-Smart International Cyclocross Race October 31-November 1
  • Cheshire CX Race November 14

Any racing I do after mid November is gravy. Between daylight savings time and my son’s extracurriculars, I am not able to keep my fitness at the level it needs to be to “race.” I need to switch my mentality to manage my own expectations of myself–that’s hard for me to do–and just go into any of these events with a more fun attitude. Cycle Smart is my last huge effort and then I need to just do what I can without feeling bad about not being able to do more.

I’d like to do more MTB races but the schedule just isn’t lining up with my personal schedule. It’s OK. I’m going to try and preride the Cat 2 route at Domnarski to be sure I can do it competently (I know I can do it, just don’t want to sign up for complete humiliation).  I took 1st in the Cat 3 race last year so I should be able to handle the Cat 2 race (but let’s be clear–I have no delusions of podiums for that category).

Spartan Sprint kicked my ass last year and I’m going back this time and training for it. At least this year I’ll know what a burpee is before taking on that event.

The cyclocross racing is the main focus for me. Last year I was distracted by a job change and much of my focus was there–and that was a wiser, more appropriate choice for me. As a result, my racing performance suffered, I rode less miles overall. I was a couple lbs. heavier and less fit, and my head wasn’t in it like I wanted it to be. I’d like to write a different story this year. Nothing fictional, but something respectable (for me). Balance is needed in all things. I just want my cycling bucket to have a little more weight this year.

So what was that the nudge anyway?  Stay tuned…..

-Karen

Making Plans 2015

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I make a lot of plans when it comes to cycling. I’m really good at that. This year, I need to improve on execution.

It’s not that I don’t ride a lot, but in the world of cyclists, I don’t ride as much as some. That’s not my fault entirely–I do the best I can with my schedule. But when I do ride, I need to get more out of it.

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Head down, time to work.

I also need to get more disciplined in the kitchen. This is tougher for me, but getting easier the more I make the effort.

Since time is my biggest enemy, causing me to 1.) not spend the kind of time I’d like to on the bike and 2.) not have the time to shop for and prepare decent healthy meals. I also not the most inspired chef. But mostly, it’s the time that’s working against me.

To combat this–I’ve killed some time sucks.  OK, maybe that’s harsh.  First-I’ve closed my online business.  I loved doing it, but it demanded a lot of time and energy.  I already work full time and parent full time, a side business demanding what little time was left.  Second, I’ve been getting more organized–throwing out stuff, donating clothing and books and other stuff to worthwhile charities.  This feels good in lots of ways.  Less stuff to manage, and someone who needs my gently worn stuff gets it free or for very cheap.  Good mojo.

Keep things simple, then I can focus on the things I want.  This is my strategy for 2015.

Priorities remain, in this order

1.) Fun

2.) Strength & Fitness

3.) Get Fast(er)(ish)

5.) Make new friends, see old friends.

6.) Race a bunch!

5.) Explore new roads, trails, places, worlds.

I can’t wait to get started.  Now if I can just get this snow to melt…

See you on the road,

-Karen

Top Ten Ways to Cope with Not Riding Your Bike in the Wintertime

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The snow is deep here in the Northeast.  We all stopped counting how many feet once we hit 3 or 4.  Boston has 8, Whatever. It’s hard. No one cares enough anymore to run out for bread and milk with each weekly snow event. Even if you’re hardy, and have a fat bike, the extreme cold and -20 degree wind chills will keep you indoors.

Here are some of the ways I’m trying to keep busy.

10.) Surf for bike stuff online. Post holiday sales, clearance bins, returned items. There are deals to be had.

9.) Log on to Bikereg. Every. Single. Day. Plan your race calendar for Spring and Summer. Check to see if they have added new races to that one free weekend you have in June (they haven’t).

8.) Research segments on Strava to check out when the snow melts.

7.) Go to your LBS and talk to the shop guys (and gals) every weekend. They are bored too.  There are also great deals there (always support your LBS!)

6.) Ride your trainer. I know, I know, I hate it too. Desperate times, desperate measures.

5.) Go to a bike maintenance clinic at your LBS and learn some new skills, meet some new friends.

4.) Rent a Fat Bike!

3.) Go overboard with homemade baked goods.

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2.) Build that bike you’ve been dreaming about…….I did!

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Pray for Spring friends.

-Karen

Happy New Year! Welcome to Your Mid-Life Crisis :)

Hey 2015, it is NOT time to hang it up.

OK, maybe I’ve been in crisis for a little while now.  New Years resolutions notwithstanding, I’ve been setting all kinds of goals for myself the last few years, mostly because I realize that if not now, when?  Guys, I’m 44 and not getting any younger.  That doesn’t mean I can’t be fit and halfway decent on a bike, but it takes a little more work, a little more time, and demands a little more recovery.

During Christmas I was at a party and got chatting with a beautifully exotic couple–urban-bohemian artists who raise chickens and sculpt art for Sir Paul McCartney. She runs. He plays hockey. We talked about these sports we live for. He said, “So typical. We turn 40 and realize we are going to die.” Yup. I’m a middle aged statistic grasping for the remains of my youth.  And so what? So will you too, if you’re under 35 and shrugging your shoulders reading this. No one escapes.

Anyway–off the soapbox and onto what I’m doing in 2015.  I broad terms, I plan on:

  1. Entering at least one mud race, probably Boston Spartan Sprint in Barre, MA this August.
  2. Entering at least 1 (or 2) Mountain Bike Race(s)
  3. Entering 10 Cyclocross Races

I remember when a 5K foot race in a year was a big deal. I remember when I’d train and look forward to the LIVESTRONG Challenge for most of the year. One event. Now I’m racing a dozen or more times a year. And that’s not to diminish those out there who train for and look forward to that one race you do. That race–it’s a big deal. It was hard. You were nervous about it. You were maybe a little worried, maybe a little excited, maybe a little scared. And afterwards you felt freaking amazing. You did it. All you. And even if you never do another, you did this one and no one can take that away.

I got hooked on that power–that empowerment of completing something physically hard and pushing myself to be better than my last best performance. The only way I can think of to keep that in my life as the sands run down is to keep on doing it.

I don’t know why I feel this nagging pressure–a persistent feeling like it all may end at any moment, but I do. I feel that a lot. I’m not sick. I’m not unhappy. But all of this is so much fun and it’s not something old people do. If I’m going to age, God help me I do not want to get old doing it.

It’s 2015 people. Don’t let it slip away. Get on your bikes and ride! You never get another chance after the day is gone.

-Karen

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