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7 Weeks until CX Season

It seems incredible that in 7 short weeks, the first set of weekend cyclocross races will take place here in Massachusetts.

The Monson Cyclocross Race will be held on Saturday, August 24, 2013 and the Blunt Park Cyclocross Race in Springfield, MA follows on Sunday.  I’ve never done either of these races but they are said to be easier, fairly fast, not so technical courses. If I’m smart, I’ll find some time to check out both courses (thank you Strava for already having previous races mapped out for easy recon).

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Also, if I’m smart, I’ll knock off the garbage I’ve been eating.  I have taken advantage of the months of extra riding by enjoying one of the few renewable pleasures in life–eating.  I have become especially close with two old friends, Ben and Jerry. This needs to stop.  Really it does.  I should carve off 5-8 lbs. from my frame for me to really feel like I’m giving this cyclocross season a serious go.

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But what really is a serious go for a 42 year old woman racing her 2nd season of Cat 4 cross?  Yes, I still need to remind myself that this is all in fun and not let the competitive side of me take over.  That said, my main competitor is myself.  I only wish to improve.

I have the bike this year, the Kona Major Jake.  And Jake, she is fast.  Oh Lord is she fast.  I’m shocked at the uptick in my times.  But with it’s light frame comes it’s squirrely handling on descents.  I’m a great descender.  As crappy as I climb, I can go down anything.  But Jake, she bounces as she rifles down hills.  I have to get a better handle on this.  The bike is slightly big for me.  We addressed this during the initial fit but even with a shorter stem, I don’t have as much control on the handlebars and the brakes that I need for those downhill sections.  More practice and some minor adjustments and I should be good, but I’d like the extra time to feel solid on this bike.

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7 Weeks.  Enough time to be ready for the CX kick off.  5 lbs lighter in the lycra and at least 7 lbs lighter in bike?  Yup, I’m really eager to see how this plays out in my overall performance.

Middle of the pack, here I come.

-Karen

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Cycling and Age: Hitting the sands of time

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.

Age 18-24

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.

Age 25-29

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.

Age 30-34

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.

Age 35-39

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.

Age 40+

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.

Age 50+

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…..

Age 60+ 

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!

-Karen

An Ah-Hah

I’m not a stupid person.  I swear, I’m not.  I had suspected that when I made the shift from my stand on your feet all day and walk around retail job to a stare at a computer all day and sit job there would be a health consequence or two.  But really–I had no idea.

Today I wore a pedometer to work.  I did this for a week during the holiday season in my previous job.  I recorded a record 27,000 steps one day.  Other days were about 20,000-25,000 steps.  That’s 10-15 miles folks.  Yes, I did 10 hours of walking, with no lunch breaks.  Yes, my feet hurt.  Yes, I was 8 lbs lighter.

A normal workday at the last job was right around where I was supposed to be–10,000 steps.  5 Miles.  This is the recommended about of walking each of us should do during the course of a day.  No problems maintaining a healthy weight, even though with the hectic schedule–I could only work out 1-3 times per week.  4 times was rare, and lucky.

Now, a drumroll please–I’m closing in on my 1 year anniversary with my new position and I’ve gained 8 lbs, despite working out 4-5 times a week very consistently.  Sometimes 6 times a week.  And do you know why?

1707 steps.

Point made.  That is all.

-Karen