Last January in a fit of “oh my God I haven’t been able to ride outside in a week” desperation, I freaked out and signed up for a duathlon for mid April. I needed something to focus on. I have done the event before–a couple of times, although it’s been a few years. An off road trail run, a mountain bike ride, followed by another trail run. The while thing is done in about 90 minutes. I reasoned that the running would be a good thing to focus on throughout the winter to keep me active–and easier than trying to ride on icy roads. Plus it would get me in shape for the Spartan Event I’m doing in June (for the 4th time, God help me).
All that made a lot of sense. I had been watching Bikereg like a mother–always trying to find a couple of spring/summer events to do before cyclocross season, and it was January–so of course there wasn’t a lot posted. I got an email from the duathlon race promoted with a discount and it seemed like a perfectly good idea. I signed up.
Then about a month later, a mountain bike race was posted for the same time, same day, slightly closer to home. I figured oh well. But as it gets closer, I’m waffling.
The same thing is happening at the end of April. I’m signed up for the Muddy Onion Spring Classic. On the same day, another mountain bike race was posted 2 towns away. I am totally psyched for the Onion, but man I wish that mountain bike race was scheduled another day! I’d sign up in a heartbeat if were on another weekend.
It’s been a really long winter and it’s not quite over yet, with more snow expected on the very last day of May. I have found that I need something to look forward to to get me through long stretches like winter. Signing up for that duathlon was a sound choice but now…..now I’m looking at that mountain bike race and thinking–that’s what I’d rather be doing! I suck at running, I just tolerate it. It’s like doing homework. But a couple hours on my bike in the woods with like minded people? Yeah, that’s my jam. There is a short 5.5 mile mountain bike portion of the duathlon, so its not like I wouldn’t get bike time, but it just doesn’t feel the same.
Ignorance is bliss, choices paralyze us. If I bag out on the duathlon and lose the $70 fee, and sign up for the mountain bike race, and then have a bad time at the race, will I be full of regret for changing my mind because of a little FOMO? Or is this just an example of going with my gut?
My gut love bikes, and it’s been a long, long winter.
Plans are underway for another off road getaway with Laura and Gail, and with interest from others building from our respective Facebook feeds. Upstate New York is the place, deep in the Hudson River Valley.
Bikepacking was the original plan, and I have a better rear saddle bag this year that I’m dying to test out, but this is shaping up to be more of a camping trip with bikes, with some minor bikepacking required to reach the campsite which is off the beaten path and away from parking. The bonus is our vehicles will be nearby enough and it will be easy to cache food and supplies there, but far enough away to feel a bit more off the grid. And there is less stress around route planning, which takes up an enormous amount of time.
Camping is primitive and we can obtain a permit for up to 10 women. There has been interest expressed by a few different people. My attitude is the more the merrier–it will allow for mingling and new friendships and small groups to break off to hike or mountain bike or swim or do whatever. I also am a fan of safety in numbers, and this campsite is said to be much more remote than our trip last year. We will be deep in bear country as well, so having more people and cars nearby (about a mile away) is a plus.
Stay tuned…..it’s coming together!
Last week we received about 20 inches of snow and ice in a series of different storms, the biggest coming Thursday which dumped 15 inches. My son was home from school 2 days and another 2 days were a delayed start, which was seriously disruptive to my work week. Work itself is intense right now, I have multiple projects and deadlines, and several high priority initiatives we are rolling out, on top of the day to day stuff which is busy enough. All this, and I am trying to continue to work out regularly and vary my fitness routine this off season.
Snow isn’t a dealkiller when it comes to working out. As a younger and less experienced cyclist, I considered winter as a break, which meant zero time on my bike. As my love of the sport grew, I began to question this forgone conclusion, especially when I realized other people were out there in the cold getting it done.
I used to be much more sensitive to the elements, in what I can only guess was my lack of exposure to them. Since making my fitness year round, and not just a token adventure in the winter months, I’ve grown much more tolerant to temperatures.
So last week I took what I could get. A couple of short rides on the fat bike in the beginning of the week, a Zwift trainer ride on Friday, followed by a short run in the dark over snow and ice. The most action was this weekend, full of shoveling snow, riding the fat bike, and downhill skiing with my son.
These a little short little nibbles at workouts and not as “full on” as I’d like, but I’m managing time as best I can and considering everything–I’m pretty happy with last week.
I’m now watching another 8-12 inches fall outside. I don’t really mind, bring on the snow! I’ll work in a work out somehow….
Impulsive I am not, but when my gf sent me a link to a bike shop in Minnesota selling a fat bike for a song, my response was “well that’s nice.”
“You should get it.”
“I just paid down my credit card!”
“This is too good a deal.”
I did what any bike person would do, and I asked Twitter. The response was swift and clear: buy the bike!
So I did. Never mind I already have, between me and my son, 6 bikes in the house. And never mind that I have never ridden a fat bike. I didn’t even know if I would like it. Who am kidding, of course I would like it!
So it arrived Friday night, mostly assembled and lighter than I expected for a bike so beefy. I attached the front wheel, the handlebars, seat, and pedals. I was in business.
I rode on both Saturday and Sunday, in snow that was about an inch thick and very soft. The bike floats and fishtails gently like a boat in the water. The work is hard in soft snow. I rode through a few crusty sections where the pedaling was easier. I can see how a fat bike could get you skinny.
Pedal selection is subjective. I tried day one on platforms, and switched to clipless day two. Despite the frustration of snow getting packed into the pedals, I prefer clipless. But in deeper conditions I could change my mind. It’s great to have the fat bike as an option to ride outside in conditions that otherwise would be a complete non starter. Definitely more fun than the trainer!
This winter I’m taking a slightly different approach to fitness. This is afforded by a change in my workplace-namely my workplace is now my home. My local office closed and my new office is 65 miles away. I go there once or twice a week (ok, once a week) and the rest of the time I’m home or in the field. This allows me just a little extra time to workout before or after work, or at lunch. No commute means and extra hour to my day. The job is much more flexible and while I’m generally available during business hours, I still have the flexibly to workout daily if I want (or at lunch if my day isn’t too heavily stacked with conference calls).
As a result, I signed up for Zwift so I can pedal indoors during the winter months. And I’ve added running on a regular basis to my week. I run 2-3 times a week, starting with low miles (2.2 per run). I’ll look to ramp up to 3 or 4 miles, but really slowly, on purpose.
As the weather allows, I plan on exploration rides, and mountain biking rides. I want gravel and dirt and broken country roads. I’ve signed up for the Muddy Onion Spring Classic in Montpelier, Vermont at the end of April. I’m excited to do that ride. The famed Rasputitsa is the week before and I have a conflict. It’s also a race, and the Muddy Onion isn’t. No crying here–I’m excited for the Onion.
But before the Onion, I signed up for a duathlon that I’ve done before, but a long time ago–The Rockbuster Off Road Duathlon in Ashland, MA. 1.8 mile trail run, 5.5 mile mountain bike, 1.8 mile trail run. That will require some training, and it’s a good event to get me to the place I need to be fitness -wise.
Overall, I’m trying to balance my workout more between cycling and running, with occasional yoga for stretching, and hiking. I’m terribly out of balance from only cycling and the running seems to help me hurt less in my hips especially when I’m sitting at a laptop all day. I love cycling but I’m already in less pain while sitting with 2 weeks of running under my belt.
While I’m happy with this slight change in approach (more off road, more running), I have become very mindful of my body starting to change as I grow just a little bit older. My personality is go-go-go but as an older athlete I really have to take the time to slow down, stretch, and on rest days, to really rest. I still plan to go hard and push on days I should, to tackle hard climbs and push my mileage limits in order to gain the fitness I’m looking for this summer, but balance it with running, adventure, and fun. Check out what I’m doing on Strava
Last Sunday I drove down to Hartford, CT to watch the pro races at the US Cyclocross National Championship. The entire week had been a “spin the wheel” of extreme weather: rain, mud, snow, frozen ruts, frozen ruts covered by snow, frozen ruts with a layer of mud covered by more snow–they really had it all. I watched Katie Compton claim her 13th national championship title, and Stephen Hyde his first. Actually I had to leave about 15 minutes before Hyde’s spectacular finish with a broken derailleur, which I’m still shaking my head over–I can’t believe I had to miss that! Anyway, I shutterbugged and socialized and had a nice time despite the frigid temperatures. Here are some of the better photos–enjoy! -Karen
2016 was a pretty great year adventure-wise: I had a ton of fun and “got away from it all” on more than one occasion. I doubt I can repeat but will try to with perhaps some variations to my normally scheduled program.
On the list for 2017:
1.) Fat Biking. Never done it, and we’ve had the snow for it. I expect we’ll be getting more since it’s only January.
2.) Dog Sledding. I wanted to do this last year but there was no snow. There’s a team that runs twice a week in Windsor, VT. I promised my son we’d do it so now it’s a matter of booking the dogs.
3.) Kingdom Trails-again. I had such fun last year I need another helping of this slice of MTB paradise.
4.) An island…..or a canyon? My mom has offered to take the family on a vacation. The problem is, she can’t decide where. Oh I know, how unfair. It’s rough. It’s between Nantucket and Montrose, Colorado. Personally I’m in favor of Nantucket because 95% of the trips I take are to the mountains and sometimes I miss the sea.
5.) At least one Mountain Bike race. Whoever is in charge of scheduling nearly every single mountain bike race in New England doesn’t want me signing up for any MTB events. This seems to be true every summer. Right now Domarski Farm lines up with one of the 26 weekends I have free a year.
6.) The JAM Grand Fundo. The full Fundo this time. I missed last year due to childcare conflicts. I don’t know when the 2017 Fundo will be but want to attend.
7.) The Muddy Onion Spring Classic. This one I’m already signed up for with Laura. It’s not the Rasputita but its still 34 miles in late April on gravel roads in VT, which means mud. I’m looking forward to it.
8.) A Dog. Wait, what?! Yeah, I want one–have for years. The last of my cats left us 3 years ago and I’m ready to grow my little family again. A change in my work has allowed me to work from home up to 4 times a week, which means I can be home for an animal.
9.) Bikepacking, V2.0. We’re doing it again! Still working out details but locations under review are Fahnestock State Park in Carmel, NY, The Adirondack Trail Ride (TATR) in Northville, NY, or potentially just a bike/camp weekend in The Kingdom.
10.) Mystery Getaway. I have a vacation yet-to-be planned and I have no honest idea of what or where that will be. It’s been determined that Hawaii is on tap for 2018 so I need to save for that and be a bit leaner this year. I have time–it’s only January! I’ll figure it out…
11.) 3 more OCR Races. I’m already signed up.
12.) Cyclocross! I’m adopting a wait and see attitude about the 2017 season. I may back off a bit from CX and get a few weekends back to do other things. Of course when September comes I’ll be chomping at the bit again so who knows. I’ll stop when I’m dead.
And hiking, and camping, and so on, and so on…..
What’s your 2017 plan?