Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Any Takers?

I'm thinking (at the last minute of course) of organizing the First Annual Andrea Davis Birthday Ride. It would take place this Sunday at a yet to be determined location. I'm thinking either bike trail or dirt road in the country. If anyone bites on this, I'll have to figure out where to go, but it will probably be somewhere in the general Lansing/Jackson area, unless anyone has any better ideas.

My reason for organizing this ride is that, according to my training plan, I'm supposed to be doing three hours of riding at a low intensity on Sunday. Now it's already been determined that I am loathe to stay on the trainer that long, particularly after a whole week on the trainer. Last Sunday, as I mentioned, I rode outside and it was pretty much fine, but it would be much more bearable with a group than riding by myself. A smallish group would be fun, I think.

Besides, who wants to ride by themselves for three hours on their birthday.

P.S. No one will be expected to bring gifts; just your presence will be enough of a present.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cool Bike-Related Christmas Presents Part 3: Bye Bye Phone Book

Ever since I got my trainer a few years ago, I've been propping up the front wheel of my bike with a phone book. Somewhat sadly, that was the last remaining use I could think of for said phone book and now they will be left on the front porch for an even longer period of time when they're delivered. At any rate, one of the many wonderful presents I received from my very generous in-laws was this climbing block for my trainer. In case you aren't familiar with it, the idea is that you can vary the incline of your front wheel depending on which slot you position it in. In fact, you can even stack more than one of them on top of each other if you want to go really high. (I can tell you right now I will not be doing that.) Anyway, it's a nice way to make my trainer workouts a little more enjoyable and delay me from gouging my eyes out when I finally can't take it anymore. So long, phone book, you're outta here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Is it Spring Yet?

I finished up my first week of Friel training yesterday. My week included eight hours of riding and three strength training sessions. I felt pretty good about sticking to the plan, especially since it meant riding on Christmas Eve and Christmas when I just wanted to play with my new toys and party.

On Saturday, when the temperature freakishly got into the upper 50s, I looked out the window and thought "I'd ride outside if it wasn't raining." Stupid. I forced myself through an hour and a half trainer ride, looking at my watch every two minutes.

Needless to say, by the time Sunday morning rolled around and it was 30 degrees with something like 25 mph hour wind gusts, I decided I couldn't take my scheduled 2 hours and 45 minutes on the trainer. So, I bundled up and left the house, determined to do as much of my ride outside as I could and finish up on the trainer when I couldn't take anymore.

My plan was to hop on the River Trail, since I thought it would be a little more sheltered from the wind, and my ride was supposed to be low intensity. It was a good idea, but as I suspected, my ride on the trail was cut extremely short by flooding. I turned around and headed toward the MSU campus. At this point, I realized that I had forgotten my balaclava and my shoe covers, but I knew I wouldn't go back out if I went to the house to retrieve them, so I kept going.

Miraculously, I didn't get lost on campus, which I usually do. The roads were deserted since the students are on break, so it turned out to be a perfect place to ride. It was also a good way to avoid wide open spaces where the wind might blow me over. I finished up my ride by tooling around some neighborhoods near my house. I ended up with 1 hour and 45 minutes on the road and was able to slog through the rest on the trainer. And, with the exception of my toes, which were ice cold and actually painful by the time I got home, I stayed quite warm.

Today I get a break from the saddle, since my schedule only calls for strength training.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cool Bike-Related Christmas Presents Part 2: Ghost Trails

I got Jill's book from my brother. I finished it last night. I was a little worried when I asked for it that it would be repetitious since I'd read all about her Iditarod experience on her blog, but it didn't feel like that at all. I really liked the way she organized the book, alternating chapters taking place during the race with chapters from her past adventures. It gave some good background on how she got to where she is. It was also nice to know she wasn't always as hard core as she is now. (It gave me some hope for overcoming my wimpiness.) If I had to complain about something with this book, I would say that it's too short (it was over too quickly) and I really didn't like the ending at all. The ending just seemed contrived to me and didn't fit with the spirit of the rest of the book. Overall, I really liked the book though, and I would definitely recommend it.

I haven't been reading much lately since there's so much else going on, but I think I'm going to have to hit the library. I forgot how nice it is to have a book waiting for me when I am ready to relax at the end of the day. It helps to get me through some of those undesirable tasks, knowing that book's there and I can't wait to find out what happens next. Of course, it also means I stay up far too late and sometimes avoid doing things I need to do in favor of reading. It's a fine line, so I'll have to be careful.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cool Bike-Related Christmas Presents Part 1: A Twin Six Christmas

I'm feeling a little lazy lately and couldn't think of anything to write about. The last few days have been filled with weights, trainer rides and Christmasy stuff, so there's not a whole lot worth reporting. I also haven't posted any photos in a while since my little point and shoot camera is busted, so I thought I'd just take the next couple of days to show all the cool bicycle stuff I got for Christmas. Today's post involves my mother's single-handed attempt to buy Twin Six out of stock. Not that I'm complaining. Twin Six and my mom both rock!
This one's called "the Mistress."

Two cool t-shirts

And last but not least, the Fat Cyclist jersey. Hopefully, next season the term "fat cyclist" won't be so applicable anymore.

I feel really good about these presents, because not only are the kick ass items, I'm glad my mom's money went to buy Twin Six products, because they seem like really awesome guys. Anyway, Merry Christmas to me! More presents tomorrow.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Progress is Progress

I was going to put off weighing in at Weight Watchers until tomorrow, considering yesterday was Christmas and I went a little overboard. However, in the end I decided that it was best to get it over with and move on. I decided that the sooner I weighed in, the sooner I could turn the page and start fresh.

I did some things right this week. I went to PF Chang's for a networking lunch, but I looked up all the nutritional facts ahead of time so I could have a game plan. I ended up eating the chicken lettuce wraps appetizer as my lunch, which worked out really well because not only are they delicious, they're one of the lowest points value items on the menu. It's kind of eye opening to look at the nutritional info, because even the things that I normally eat there that I consider not that bad are horrible. Also, the appetizer filled me up very well and I can't believe I normally eat that and an entree.

Christmas Eve we went to my brother's house for lunch and I felt like I did fair, although I did eat a chocolate chip cookie that I probably didn't need after I had already eaten some of the WW dessert I brought. For dinner, we went to Chris' parents and since my mother-in-law is also on WW, there were a lot of very reasonable choices. I only had one drink and although I probably ate more food than I needed, I still felt conservative compared with how I would have eaten in years past. Besides, the things I did eat were good.

Christmas Day challenged me the most. Our traditional Christmas meal is prime rib. I ate two helpings of meat, which I didn't need, as well as three slices of bread (two pumpkin, one banana). The day started deteriorating toward evening when I began drinking and eating cookies. I had at least four drinks, three cookies and a small piece of pumpkin pie. I even had two more cookies after I got home since my aunt sent us home with a tin (which I'm hoping Chris will eat). Even though I fell off the wagon, I still think I ate more consciously than I would have previously. It was hard not to pay attention when Chris was following me around asking me "how many points?" every time I put something in my mouth.

On my way to weigh in this morning, I was just thinking, I hope I didn't gain anything. As it turns out, I lost 1 pound, which is not bad considering all the temptation. I feel pretty good about it. What probably saved me is all the training I did this week.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Difference Between Me and Chris Eatough

Just the other day, I was riding with Chris Eatough. (You may have heard of him. He's a pro endurance mountain biker.) Anyway, Chris and I were riding along together in my living room. And by that, I mean I was riding the trainer and watching Spinervals 8.0 Recovery and Technique, which Chris just happens to be on. So, I was riding in my living room and he was riding on my t.v. in my living room.

One of the things I noticed as I rode along with Chris is that our riding styles are extremely dissimilar. For example, when Coach Troy says to do one-legged pedaling drills, Chris is able to "make big circles" and keep his cadence up, as Coach instructs. I, on the other hand, make choppy squares at a cadence of, oh, about 13. It's not that I am disobedient. I'm doing the best I can.

I have two points to this post:
  1. Chris Eatough will probably never want to ride with me. Luckily, the other Chris, who is more important, probably will.
  2. I have a lot of work to do.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


It continues to amaze me how a workout can seem so innocuous when you actually do it. Maybe you don't feel much at all while it's happening. You wonder if you're not working hard enough. And then the next morning you try to get out of bed.

It's not excruciating, it's just really sore, particularly in the butt and abs. I'm hoping it will feel better by the time I have to do my next weight workout. For now I'm just taking the stairs and getting up and down pretty gingerly.

On tap today is Spinervals 8.0 Recovery & Technique, which is part of the Competition Series. Hopefully it will be easier to figure out than yesterday's workout.

Monday, December 22, 2008

An Exercise in Frustration

This morning I did the first weight workout of my new training plan. I found the whole process immensely frustrating. A workout that probably should have taken me a half hour ended up taking me an hour and a half. That was after I spent at least a half hour working on planning for it last night.

While it's true that the plan is pretty much spelled out for me, there were certain things I had to figure out. Since we don't have any free weights and we have a Bowflex, I first had to determine which Bowflex exercises were the most similar to Friel's exercises. That's the part I completed last night. This morning I had to use the Bowflex book to try to figure out how to set the machine up for those exercises.

But there's more. In order to determine how much weight to use, you have do some calculations. For example, for one of the exercises, you're instructed to do 40-60% of 1RM. First, however, you have to figure out what 1RM is for that exercise. That means you have to estimate what amount of weight you can use that would allow you to complete four reps but no more than 10. Then you have to do math (or use a calculator) to determine what 40-60% of that number is. I'm horrible at estimating things, so this was difficult. At times like these I really wish I had a coach to tell me what to do.

I finally got my workout completed, though, so I'm done with training for today. Hopefully, it will go much more smoothly next time since I wrote everything down and won't have to figure it out again.

I'm doing these exercises for the first part of training:
  • Squat
  • Seated row
  • Seated oblique crunch
  • Lat pulldown
  • Knee extension
  • Standing row

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Equipment Failure

We got a bunch of snow dumped on us Thursday night and Friday morning, but yesterday morning was bright and sunny. It seemed like a good day to get out my snowshoes, especially since the girls are grounded from the dog park for a few days. So, I loaded my MP3 player with Christmas music and headed to a nearby park.

First, I had to get out the door, though, and Gretchen and Maddy were not pleased when I put on all my "dog park clothes," bundled myself up and promptly left them behind. I hadn't been to this particular park in a while because they don't allow dogs. In my opinion, there are already way too many places I can't take my dogs without banning them from parks, which are OUTDOORS. But I digress.

I strapped on my snowshoes and as I did so, wondered for the millionth time why there's no such thing as gloves that actually keep your hands warm and allow you to strap, buckle or zip things. By the time I finished getting the snowshoes on my feet, my hands were freezing.

It was sunny, though, I had my gloves to put on and I had Jewel's Joy: A Holiday Collection blasting. (I will not apologize for liking this, by the way, it's a great album, particularly the Go Tell It On The Mountain/Life Uncommon/From A Distance medley.)

Then I remembered something. Last year the sole started coming off my hiking boots. They're at least 10 years old and have seen better days. I've been wearing them to dog park all winter and it hasn't been a problem, but when the sole's coming off your boots, it doesn't exactly facilitate staying attached to snowshoes.

I finally gave up after about half an hour because I was so frustrated with having to put my snowshoes back on every five minutes. Next time, I'm definitely going to have to find something else to wear. It was really pretty while it lasted, though, with everything all covered in white. Too bad my camera is busted—I guess I'm just falling apart.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Weigh Day

I plowed through the abundance of snow coming down this morning to get to the WW meeting. There were only a handful of people there, which allowed me to ask the leader some very specific questions about activity points. Without going into way too much detail for those who aren't interested, I'll explain a little bit about how this works.

Basically, WW is based on a points system. You get a certain number of points to work with each day (along with a separate weekly stash you can dip into if you need to). Each food has a points value, which is based on the amount of fiber, fat and the number of calories. However, there's also a scale for figuring out what WW calls "activity points." Activity points can be added to your daily points total (actually, they just changed it to your weekly points total, so you can use what you earned all week) to allow you to eat more.

Here's where I had questions. The scale suggested you figure your activity points using intensity level (low, medium, high), time your activity encompasses and your weight. My issue was with the description of intensity level, which has to do with how much you are sweating. I found this was not a good way to measure intensity, and considering I'm going to start my training next week, I wanted to have a really accurate indicator. Luckily, the leader was able to give me some better indicators to use.

I read somewhere (probably Shape magazine) a while ago that people who are very active tend to eat a lot more and justify their eating with their activity level. Here's the problem. Sometimes that eating is not commensurate with the amount of activity they're doing. In my mind, the purpose of eating extra food is to have enough energy to sustain your extra activity, not to use it as an excuse to binge.

In theory that's great, but in practice I tend to be a binger. I'm trying to change that, though, so I want to be really careful with my points to make sure I'm not using training as a license to eat whatever comes my way. That's particularly important when you're starting your training the week of Christmas.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for (unless you skipped to the bottom right away). My weight loss for the past week was 3 pounds. Not bad, considering I had Hungry Howie's at a friend's party and ate buffet-style at New Holland after the race last Sunday. (I was happy with how I behaved at both. It may have been the first time in my life I've only made one trip to a buffet.) Anyway, that brings me to a grand total of 8.4 for two weeks. This coming week, however, is going to be the true challenge. (I will have my prime rib on Christmas. It wouldn't be Christmas without it.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wiping the Slate Clean

In the interest of looking forward and not dwelling on the somewhat lackluster results of the mountain bike season and the abysmal results of the Kisscross season, I have removed my 2008 races from the sidebar. After all, 2009 is a new year and I'm expecting something completely different. (I never posted most of the results for Kisscross anyway, but as you loyal blog readers know, they were all DFL.)

Chris and I sat down last night and worked out our training schedules for the winter, which begin next week. (Clearly, the timing could have been better, but it seems ill advised to delay it any longer.) Our program includes weight training and riding and Friel-based. (In the interest of furthering my education, I'm going to start reading the training bible ASAP.)

We also came up with a tentative race schedule for next year, which I've added to the sidebar. As I think I already mentioned on this blog a couple of times, the first being right after 6 Hours of Ithaca, I'm going to focus on endurance racing next year. I really enjoyed the Ithaca race and I think endurance racing will be a good fit for me. So, I'm planning to do a few XC races, the Yankee Springs TT and a bunch of endurance races. It remains to be seen whether I'll do the 6 or 12 Hour versions of these races. (It will depend on how training goes and whether or not I can afford to buy a light.) I may or may not do Iceman, but I'll have to see if the date is a conflict with hockey. If I do race Iceman, I'll end up buying an entry from someone after the fact.

I'm pretty optimistic and I'm really looking forward to training for the new season. I guess I need to get to work.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


As I may have mentioned, I recently wrote an article about my experience with cyclocross for an online cycling magazine called Pedal Pushers. The style they wanted for the article is very informal, first person, fly by the seat of your pants and unpolished. Needless to say, I don't think any of my English teachers would be pleased with the way it's arranged or punctuated. Still, I am extemely proud and excited about the whole thing and I'm going to be starting the next article for them this week.

They also used photos taken by my husband, which is very cool.

Please check it out.

A Lot to Learn

After I posted my race report for the Holland race, I started thinking about Chris' observations. He said I was trying to push too hard of a gear and I burned myself out too early and compromised my ability to beat the one person I had in my sights. The way my legs feel two days later as I'm climbing the stairs is a testament to the fact that he's probably right. And this isn't the first time lately I've thought there are far too many things about bikes, racing, etc. that I just don't know.

So it seems I have more than one challenge in my quest to be a racer who doesn't totally suck. Not only do I have to lose a ton of weight and train, I also have to educate myself. It really bothers me that I'm so ignorant about this topic. After all, I'm used to being the smart kid. There's a reason college seemed easy to me, just like there's a reason I stayed at a job that made me miserable for about two years longer than I should have. The truth is, I like and am comfortable with being the one who has all the answers.

I realize it's my fault that I don't know more about bikes. Whether it's laziness or some misplaced sense of reverse chivalry, I have no idea, but it seems I have always looked to the men around me for answers when it came to bikes. I let them fix things for me, I let them tell me what to buy and I took all kinds of advice from them. Now there's not really a problem with that except that sometimes (like in the middle of a race) I'm all by myself and I need to learn to do it on my own.

That being said, I don't think education is the silver bullet that's going to conquer my tendency to DFL. It's just one of the pieces. Looks like in addition to training and losing weight, I'm in for a lot of reading this winter.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Perfect Season

I finally coaxed my photographer into joining me for Kisscross with the lure of the after-party at New Holland, so for the first time this season I actually have some photos of me in the race. To celebrate that, I only added photos of me or my bike to this post.
This was what you'd call a "deluxe" cyclocross venue. It took place at Holland Municipal Stadium and the course, which had been plowed ahead of time, wound around and through the field. There were no barriers, but they weren't really necessary. Between the flight of stairs at the beginning of the lap and all the mud suck, there were plenty of opportunities to get off the bike without barriers.
At one point I thought my DFL finish might be in question. There was another girl racing who was actually behind me for a while. I think it was her first cross race and I thought my experience would help me. As it turns out, she was smarter than I was. While I was grinding through the mud getting bogged down and wearing myself out, she was spinning past me.
According to my husband, I was trying to ride in too hard of a gear and if I would have shifted I would have been able to get through the deep parts that sucked me in a lot better. Instead, I ended up pushing and pushing until the pedals just wouldn't turn any more and I had to get off my bike and run.
I've said it before and I'll probably say it again, but this race was the closest I've come to a DNF. I was dying before I got to the end of the first lap. And for once it wasn't my weight or being out of shape that almost did me in, but my inability to shift. The thing is, I just don't think about shifting when I'm out there. Thinking takes more energy away from breathing and it's not something I can handle. My husband swears that next year he's putting me on a single speed for cross and then it won't be an issue.
At least I have finally resigned myself to the fact that I am never going to beat Billy again. However, when I mentioned my hope that next season some slow little kid would race Kisscross so I could have someone to beat again, my husband looked at me disdainfully. "Next year, maybe you can beat some adults," he said. Okay, there's my challenge.

In all seriousness, being last in every cross race this season really beat me down. I actually did much worse this year than I did last year and no doubt the weight I put on had a lot to do with it. And I do want to get better so I don't become so discouraged that I quit. So, I'm putting it in writing, here and now, before I chicken out. My goal for the 2009 Kisscross (not snowcross) season is to finish in the top half of the Cs in every race. To do that, I just need to train and lose 50 pounds. Let the losing begin.

Friday, December 12, 2008

And the total is ...

Today has been an extremely busy day. Between sleeping in a little, going to the Weight Watchers meeting, working on an unexpected project for a client and interviewing a local designer for an article and making a dessert for a party I'm going to tonight, I haven't had time to post to either of my blogs. I did, however, want to give a weight update for those of you following along at home. My total weight loss after Week #1 is 5.4 pounds! I'm pretty happy with that. Let's keep it going.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Weight Waiting

I have this sickness. It's an addiction that practically guarantees that anytime I am on a diet (or attempting to implement lifestyle changes to be healthier and weigh less, to be more p.c.), I will visit the bathroom scale, at minimum, once a day. This leads to the following varied emotional states, depending on how much progress I'm making: elation, pride, disillusion, discouragement, narcissim, relief and self-loathing.

Now I will announce my plan for losing weight. I have joined Weight Watchers. I will refrain from detailing my reasons for joining Weight Watchers because, after all, this is my blog, not a Weight Watchers commercial. Don't frown on my weakness at needing to pay for a program to help me lose weight. Instead, congratulate me for recognizing that end justifies the means. The dream of being at a healthy weight is important enough to justify any nonsurgical means at this point, so I've admitted defeat at trying to do it myself and moved on to something that will, hopefully, work.

Sorry for the Weight Watchers tangent, but now I can explain what has so far been one of the biggest advantages to joining in this first week. Last Saturday, when I began the program, they weighed me at the center. I purposefully didn't weigh myself at home that day. Since then, I have not gone near the scale. Surprisingly enough, I have been able to convince myself that weighing in on my home scale will not give me an accurate comparison to the WW scale. Therefore, even if I did weigh myself, I wouldn't be able to truly find out how much I've lost.

This has done wonders for my sanity so far and I hope it will continue. I may, however, have to go weigh in on Friday because waiting one more day might just be too excruciating to bear.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I've been doing a crappy job of training lately, which I know is a big surprise to everyone. However, I think I have come up with a completely obvious, no-brainer solution. You see, my biggest problem with training is that my day seems to get away from me. Even though I left my job, now almost two months ago, I really am working during the day. I have a few actual projects I'm working on and between looking for and replying to online ads for gigs, writing pitches to potential clients and networking, I've been really busy. Add into the mix the hour I spend taking the girls to the dog park and my day is over before I know it. In the evening, I don't really feel like doing anything, so I usually don't.

This Sunday is the last Kisscross race, though, and when that's over I want to get into a serious winter conditioning program so I'm ready and raring to go by April. The program will likely include some weight training, some trainer rides and some outdoor riding. Accomplishing everything I want will take some dedication, not to mention planning.

So, I've decided to come up with a plan this weekend and treat my program just like a freelance job. At the beginning of each week, I'll go over my goals for that week, look at my calendar (taking into consideration any events and projects) and actually schedule time for my workouts. Scheduling time slots and sticking to them should make for a successful winter program. Now I just have to do it!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Last week Anne posted a video of a guy riding rollers on her blog. Today I found this post about rollers on Cranky Fitness. It's as if the rollers are summoning me from the attic. I've walked by them over and over again, but I've never actually tried to use them. They're Chris's rollers, but I could ride them if I wanted to.

It might improve my balance and my bike handling skills if I used them regularly. It would certainly be less boring than the trainer. But could I do it without injuring myself? After all, I did crash my bike on the trainer the first year I had it and I would have thought that was impossible.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Weight Thing

Periodically, I mention on this blog the fact that my weight is a source of great consternation to me. It's been like that for most of my life. It's bothered me to be overweight because of the self-esteem issues; the stigma attached to it; the fact that I can't fit into attractive, skinny clothing; and because of health issues. These are all decent reasons in and of themselves to keep the weight off, but thus far I have been unsuccessful. Sure, I'll lose weight for a while, but it always ends up finding me again eventually. After some significant weight loss when Chris and I got engaged, by the time the wedding rolled around, I had gained back a little and it just went downhill from there.

Suddenly, though, I have one more reason to lose weight. I thought I could race bikes if I was overweight and I can, but the fact of the matter is that I have an extra 60 pounds I'm hauling up hills. To be faster and more successful next year, I definitely need to train a lot more. However, if I were 60 pounds lighter and trained more, I think it would make a HUGE difference.

It's funny because I hear conversations all the time between people trying to shave a couple of pounds or ounces from their bikes by changing pedals, wheels, tires, seat posts, etc. I just laugh when I think about how much lighter my bike would be if I could lose 60 pounds without even changing any components.

With that in mind, I began making a lifestyle change this past weekend. It's early, but so far it's going really well and I hope to be able to report significant progress after my first week. I also hope that this program is going to turn into my lifestyle and that finally, the weight will be gone for good.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Have You Seen This?

There's an article about Kisscross, the cross series I do in West Michigan on this site. The awesome Anne is interviewed. Stay tuned for details about my soon to be published cyclocross article with a link, hopefully coming next week.

Friday, December 5, 2008

But I Want To! (Insert Whine Here)

As many of you already know, Fat Cyclist is forming Team Fatty to participate in the 2009 LiveStrong Challenge. I was on board immediately for the following reasons:
  1. I hate cancer. I watched my grandma, who was one of my favorite people ever, die before my very eyes of cancer when I was a junior in college. I've watched other people struggle with it since then, and it basically sucks.
  2. To participate, all I have to do is ride my bike and raise money. I should be able to do both without much trouble.
  3. One of the locations for the challenge is Philadelphia, a location I can get to with only one day of driving. I also happen to have a wonderful little cousin with a house and a guest bedroom in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I am certain she would let me stay there, so I could make it a pretty cheap trip.
  4. I love Fat Cyclist (in a purely platonic way that happens when you haven't actually met someone and only read their blog, of course) and would like to do something that would help him.

So, what's the problem? The problem is the date. The Philadelphia challenge is scheduled for our last day at Crusty Butt, which is nowhere near Philadelphia.

As I see it, I have four options.

  1. Give up hope and do nothing.
  2. Join the team as a virtual participant only, which wouldn't be as good.
  3. Start making a bunch of money so I can afford to go to Seattle, Austin or San Jose.
  4. Try to change the dates of my Crusty Butt trip so I can do both.

Hmm. I really hate it when this happens.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pros Don't Need Helmets

My geography is bad, I'll admit. It was never one of my strongest subjects. Therefore, I have no idea where the Canary Islands are or anything about them (although I could probably Google it). Even so, I find it exceedingly difficult to believe that even in the Canary Islands they wouldn't recognize Lance Armstrong on sight, particularly when he was riding his bike. So, if you saw Lance Armstrong, who'd just returned to pro cycling, riding his bike, wouldn't you assume the person he was riding with was also a pro cyclist? I would, although I would also know it when I heard the name "Chris Horner."

It seems that Chris Horner, who was riding with Astana teammate Lance Armstrong in the Canary Islands, where they were training, was detained by Spanish police for not wearing a helmet. Apparently, they let him continue his ride after determining he was a pro cyclist because it's only illegal to ride without a helmet if you're not a pro cyclist.

This is messed up for a few reasons. First of all, as I just mentioned, he was clearly and obviously a pro cyclist, so why would you even bother to stop him for riding without a helmet? Secondly, how stupid is it that it's illegal to ride without a helmet unless you're a pro? (I will not even touch the discussion about whether it is or isn't okay to make it illegal for anyone to ride without a helmet because my husband sometimes reads this blog and I don't want to get him started.) The point is, what could they possibly be thinking when they say it's okay for a pro but not for an amateur? Granted, pros have more skill than recreational cyclists, but it would seem that given the speeds at which pros ride and their tendency to ride in pace lines and packs where any small miscalculation could take them down, I would say the danger to their heads is at least equal to that of an amateur cyclist.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Danielle tagged me on her blog, which solved a big problem for me because I couldn't think of anything to blog about today. Now I have a ready-made topic! So, I have to tell everyone six random things that few people know about me. Here goes:
  1. When I was 15, I decided I was going to marry Eric Clapton. I subsequently obtained all the Eric Clapton merchandise I could get my hands on, held a party for him every year on his birthday and went to England to track him down. I eventually gave up my quest about five years later, but "Wonderful Tonight" is still my favorite song.
  2. I know all the words, including dialogue and lyrics for all the songs, to the Sound of Music.
  3. My confirmation name is Veronica. I chose it because it was my grandma's name.
  4. I'm afraid of baby carrots. It's kind of neurotic, but they're just unnatural. My mom used to chase me around the house with a bag of them just to be mean. I feel the same way about baby corn.
  5. My first job was at GKC, a movie theater in Jackson, Michigan. I worked there for three years. I worked in the concession stand and box office before being promoted to usher and projectionist. While I was there, I had celebrity run ins, such as waiting on some weird looking guy with a feather stuck in his ponytail (who I later found out was Ted Nugent) and getting sworn at by Jeff Daniels when he told me "the focus in Wayne's World is really f***** up."
  6. My favorite Christmas songs are Bing Crosby's "Christmas in Killarney" and the Debbie Reynolds version of "(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays."
Now I'm supposed to tag some people.

Corporate Hippy

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Snow Biking

I took my mountain bike up North over the holiday to do some snow biking. The roads were a mess and there's not really a close trail, so I thought my in-laws' cabin might be the best option. I drove out there on Thanksgiving morning, bundled up and set off down the access road from their cabin. The access road had been plowed out thanks to Uncle Red and didn't pose much of a challenge. The riding was practically as easy as riding on pavement.
When I saw the cutoff for Potts Lake, I decided to take it since it hadn't been plowed and I thought it might be a bit more work. That was quite an understatement. The snow was deep, and when the tire tracks ended, I found it hard to keep riding. There aren't really too many hills, but any slight incline was close to impossible for me to ride up. I definitely need more practice.
My reward for reaching the lake was this view, but I was already dreading the uphill I'd have to ride to get out of there.
On the way back to the access road, I tried to stay in my tracks to make it easier, but I kept getting off track. I swear I don't know how Alaska Jill can spend hours and hours at a time riding snow-covered trails, because it's hard. She's definitely a lot tougher than I am.
As long as I kept my momentum, I did okay, but if I slowed down too much or stopped, it seemed close to impossible to get moving again. When I got back out the access road, I decided to ride out to the road rather than heading back to the cabin. Though I had gotten in quite a workout, I hadn't been out for very long, so I thought I'd do a little more easy riding.
Luckily, I wasn't trespassing, because I didn't have enough energy left to dodge bullets.

The dirt road was actually in better condition than the road our cabin is on, which is paved.
I did, however, crash on the road just as I was turning into the access road, because my ride wouldn't have been complete without it.
Here are some random photos of the return trip. This one is the entrance to the access road, as evidenced by the sign and gate.
This is the lovely Gilchrist Creek.
The creek crossing that many before me driven their cars off. Luckily, I have never done that, either with my car or my bike.

Back at the cabin. The cabin, by the way, is always referred to as "the creek," as in "we're staying out at the creek this weekend." During my first trip up there several years ago, I was told that it's pronounced like "crick." Though I subsequently tried to pronounce it as "creek," I eventually caved to the pressure. I justify it to myself by pretending it's just a made up name for the cabin and has nothing to do with the actual word "creek." That's the only way I can handle it, because English majors are inherently bothered by mispronounciations.

Later that night, at our club, I felt that I'd been the recipient of a beating, between the hard riding and my crash, but I was strongly discouraged from whining about it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


We're headed North this afternoon, so I'll be taking a little break from blogging. Staying at our cabin means we'll have few of the comforts of home. No electricity, no t.v., no Internet, no indoor plumbing. Chris will probably run the laptop out of its battery and I'll still check in on Facebook on my BlackBerry in the rare instances when I actually have signal. Other than that, though, we'll be technology free. I'm planning to get some good snow biking in over the weekend and come back with some decent photos to post.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Back to the Grind

Finally, after talking about it for weeks, I actually set up my trainer. And wonder of wonders, I figured out how to attach my new saddle. (Yes, it's the first time I've actually done this.) Not only that, I even used my trainer. My legs were feeling a bit sore from the hard effort on Sunday, so I just sat on there for about 45 minutes and spun my legs out while reading a magazine and listening to Radio Margaritaville. After the holiday, I'll start some of our DVDs, but for now I'm just going to ride a little and give my legs time to recover.

I'm actually thinking I might load my mountain bike in the car for our trip North. We're leaving for our cabin tomorrow afternoon and some sloppy snow riding might be just what I need to break the trainer monotony by then.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Good Advice?

Today I was catching up on back issues of Shape magazine when I found a couple of interesting bike-related items (which are few and far between in this particular publication).

Advice from Christine Vardaros, three-time member of the U.S. Cyclocross World Champion team, on how to protect yourself during an endo:
  • Protect your head by wrapping your arms around it with hands in fists
  • Tuck your body as if you were about to do a somersault
  • Put your chin to your chest

These may be useful, and I certainly need them, but I'm not sure I'll be able to think quickly enough to do all this while I'm in the midst of a crash.

Advice on when to replace your bike (and other fitness gear/equipment):

  • Frame is dented (!)
  • Rust or kinks in the chain (!!??)

Clearly, whoever wrote this has a lot more disposable income than I do. I'm sure I dented my mountain bike frame the first time I rode it. As for kinks or rust in the chain, wouldn't you just replace the chain?

What's so great about Kisscross?

You name it, it's great. There's just something about the crazy atmosphere, the cheering fans, the cowbell and the fun courses that keep me coming back, even when I continually finish last. Yesterday's race was at Manhattan Park in East Grand Rapids. I was sweating and panting amongst the fancy houses, laughing at the disdainful looks I got from the ladies wearing Rolexes and walking their designer dogs.

The ambience was classic Kisscross. The sun was shining, my toes were freezing and the grass was crunchy with frost as I rode my practice lap. Trombone players in wigs and masks were warming up. After taking off my jacket, putting in back on, taking it back off, finally putting it back on, I rolled up to the starting line. I looked around, sizing up my competition. At the back of the pack, here's what I saw—guy on a commuter bike with rack, seven- or eight-year-old kid, racing type in a team jersey riding a cross bike with a trail-a-bike. I resolved to stay in front of the trail-a-bike and took off.

The pack thinned out pretty quickly. I got in front of the trail-a-bike before the first hill. I jockeyed for position a bit with the little kid, finally passing him when he stalled out going up the hill. I thanked my lucky stars for my gears, shifted and crawled ahead. I felt pretty good about how I handled most of the downhills. At one point, I mishandled a chicane on the biggest downhill and ended up crashing through the tape, but I recovered without biting it.

I was in front of the commuter for a while, but he finally passed me for good sometime during lap three, after I'd already been lapped by many. One girl who flew past, seeming to sense I was laboring, announced cheerfully "we're almost there." "You're almost there," I shot forward, harsher than I meant to. "Oh, sorry," she yelled, sounding contrite.

The trail-a-bike made a planned exit after two laps. It was just me and the kid competing for last place. At the end of the third lap, the kid's dad walked his bike up a long hill for him. Someone from the crowd asked if that was against the rules, but dad said it didn't matter anyway because he was in last place. "Oh no, he's not," I declared, coming up from behind. The kid ended up beating me.

I checked the prize table on my way back to the car, thinking my luck had finally run out. After all, they can't keep giving prizes for last place when I'm always in last place. Then I saw it. It was labeled "Last C Women" and it was the best prize I've won at a race ever—a women-specific saddle. I guess I have no excuses left for not setting up my road bike on the trainer.

I didn't make any progress this year. I finished last in every race and there's only one left to break my streak. But when I'm out there sweating, barely able to breathe, and when I'm back at my car after the race, chugging down my beverage of choice, feeling warm, tingling and flushed from the effort and glowing with the accomplishment, I'm not thinking about how many times I came in last. I'm just enjoying being there.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


This is Billy. He belongs to our friend Frank. He's eight years old (I think) and he likes to ride his bike. Billy's been racing Kisscross since I started and he's a fierce competitor. His bike only has one speed, but he just stands and powers up the hills like they're flat.

If Billy keeps riding, he's going to be phenomenal. He's already blowing away any kids his age and some older. He got bored with the kids' races because they were too easy so he started riding with the adults.

Billy doesn't train, he just gets out there and rides. If his dad wants to punish him, he takes away his bike.

I was thinking about Billy today when I was racing, although he was too far ahead of me to see. I used to be able to beat Billy, but now he beats half the adults in the C race. I, on the other hand, was supposed to set up the trainer this week (really every week for the past three) so I could "train." The thing is, training seems to much like work and it's hard to get motivated to do it. Racing, on the other hand, doesn't take much motivation because it's so much fun.

Maybe I need to worry less about training and just ride. Maybe I need to be more like Billy.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Call Me Madam Secretary

Surprisingly enough, after working for a professional association for the past eight years and dealing with all kinds of boards and committees, I have never actually been a member of a board. Until now, that is. Last night, I was elected to the illustrious post of secretary of the Mid-state Chapter of the Michigan Mountain Bike Association. I've also volunteered to work on committees to help organize a chapter race and potentially some other activities.

I'm really excited about it, even though my last foray into volunteering for a biking association was an unmitigated disaster. You see, we had a great (albeit long) meeting last night. There was a pretty good showing of people (at least considering the amount of people I've seen in the past) and everyone seemed enthusiastic about the topics we were discussing. I think we can do some really good things if we are realistic about our goals and have people take responsibility for organizing them. There also seems to be some hope out there of still having a chapter team, but it will mean doing things a little differently.

We have a good group of people involved. (There are only a few girls, which is one of the reasons I'm glad to have been elected to the board. I can represent!)
Jake, the former president and driving force behind our chapter team this year, commented that it was the first time in a very long while that we actually had four different people filling the roles on the board. I think it's outstanding, because I've gotten to know the other three board members from being on the team and I think they'll all be great to work with.

I also have to admit that secretary was probably the only board position I would have considered. It was previously filled, but when Chris vacated his presidency, Chris Mensing moved to president and Brad (previously the secretary) ran for vice president. It worked out perfectly. My husband didn't even get mad at me like he did when I started that other volunteer debacle.

At any rate, look for good things in the future from Mid-state.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fame and Fortune

As my loyal readers know, I left my job about a month ago to pursue a freelance writing career. Since then, I haven't had a lot of success. I actually started a freelance writing blog so as not to bore my bicycling readers with my freelance writing woes. However, this is somewhat related to mountain biking, so bear with me.

A couple weeks ago I answered an online ad for something called Demand Studios, which was looking for content writers for several blogs. I had to send them samples and be approved before writing any articles.

When submitting my application, they gave me the option of choosing a site. I was excited to see that LiveStrong was one of the options. I submitted my choice and a few days later found out I was approved. There's only one problem. I was approved to write articles for eHow and eHow only.

I didn't waste much time worrying about it because, after all, clients aren't exactly beating down my door, and getting paid to write is getting paid to write.

So, here's the way it works. I can look at a list of available topics and choose one I am interested in writing. This was where my second disappointment was realized. Among the 40 or so topics there were to choose from, most went something like this: "How to Remove the Windshield from a '68 Camaro" or "How to Start a Tanning Booth Business in Indonesia." None of these was even remotely up my alley.

But, wait. There's a silver lining. They allow you to submit your own titles for approval. I could ask to write on any topic I wanted as long as the title began with "how to." Great. So, I set about thinking of titles and submitted a few, most of which were approved. I chose topics I could write from what was in my head, without having to do a lot of research.

Then came my third disappointment. The articles I submitted are worth exactly one-third of what their suggested articles are. So, I could still write these articles and get paid something for them, but it was even less than the already small amount for their articles.

All this buildup is only to announce that yesterday I found my first eHow article, with the very exciting title of "How to Dress for Winter Mountain Biking" had been published. Disclaimer: This is not some of my best work. The format they gave me is very restrictive and their publishing tool messed up all the bullets. (I thought they might fix these before it was published, but apparently I was wrong.)

I'm not posting this link because I want to brag about the article. Okay, maybe I do. You see, even though the article isn't great, someone actually paid me to write an article about mountain biking. That makes me an expert, right?

P.S. Please, no disparaging comments from the peanut gallery about what I left out, how this part sucks, etc. Chris, this particularly means you. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Today's post is going to be one of those to file under "obvious." I had a massive meltdown Sunday night and stretching through most of the day yesterday. Coming out of one of those always leaves me a little philosophical. So now I've mostly snapped out of it and I want to share some of the perspective I've gained.

I was reading about Fat Cyclist's dilemma this morning and it made me think about the bicycling community in general. In a nutshell, his problem is this. He has so much going on what with nursing a wife with horrible cancer, working full-time, taking care of four kids, writing his blog and putting together four teams for the LiveStrong Challenge that he felt like he had to ask for help. So, now he has 350 e-mails sitting in his inbox from people offering him assistance. It's a problem, but it's an encouraging one.

Although I have certainly never faced the kind of challenges Elden has, I sometimes find myself overwhelmed by the support of the cycling community. I suppose it's probably like this with other bloggers or other groups of people, but I've noticed it a lot with cyclists lately.

On Sunday, when I went to the Kisscross race, I noticed for the first time how many people know my name. It's weird, but encouraging, to hear spectators shouting out encouraging things to you, personally, when you didn't even know they knew who you were.

There were people there at the finish line, serious racers even, (like this one) cheering for me as I once again finished DFL. And then there's this extremely hardcore and awesome racer who has always been so encouraging to me. That really takes some of the sting out of the whole being way behind everyone else thing.

Then there are the people who visit my blog and leave comments. Some of them I've met while riding, racing or at bike events (Jake, Laurie, Marty) and some I've never met, but they stumbled across my blog somehow and offered words of encouragement (Ali, Di). Still others are people who never visit my blog but inspire me when I read theirs (Jill, Fat Cyclist, Chocolate Girl). I guess the point of this whole thing is that there are some great people out there in the cycling world and I'm glad to be a part of it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What's the definition of insanity?

Okay, so it wasn't exactly the same thing over and over, and it wasn't the exact same result. I did train a little more, but I didn't meet the goal I set for myself of riding five times before the next race. Still, I felt more prepared for the race. I got there early and prerode the course. I did one full practice lap and part of another. After spending more time warming up, I felt like I was pushing it a bit harder than I have been this season.
So, I still finished last, but there was one person in front of me who was within sight (and probably within reach) for the entire race. Lately it seems like everyone's been so far ahead of me that I can't even see them until they lap me. I thought I could catch the guy in front of me and I tried kicking it up a notch in the last lap, but I just didn't have a lot left.

The next race is only a week away. After that, it's three weeks until the Holland race, which is the last one before the snowcross races. The Kisscross season went by pretty quickly and there's not much time to improve before it's all over. I'm going to make a concerted effort to do what I can to make sure I don't come in last at the Holland race.

It's funny because I was really excited about Kisscross this year and I thought I was going to do so much better. As it turns out, I actually did a lot worse. Part of it was my lack of commitment to training, but I also need to face the fact that I'm at least 20 pounds heavier than I was last year at this time. The bottom line is I really need to get to work.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Dream of Iceman, Part 2

When we last left our story, I had given up mountain biking. After a humiliating experience at Island Lake, during which I crashed hard (or at least it seemed hard at the time) and left the trail sobbing, I decided I just "couldn't" mountain bike. My bike saw nothing but pavement for the next several years. (I should also confess that the reason I bought a mountain bike to begin with is that I wanted a bike, but didn't want to ride "all hunched over.")

Fast forward a couple of years. The guy at the bike shop and I were friends, and he tried to save me from the cesspool of self-pity I was wallowing in by getting me out on the trail. I was having a hard time recovering from a major breakup and he thought it would do me good to come to the Wednesday night mountain bike rides organized by his shop. Here's the only problem—they often went to Island Lake, which I swore I would never ride again.

He was very persuasive, though, and I needed something to get me out of the dark place I had fallen into. I went to Island Lake with the group one summer evening, and I finished the whole trail. I was tired when I finished, and it wasn't without incident. I didn't conquer the trail in a literal sense, but in my mind I had. Standing around in the parking lot after finishing that trail, I felt inexplicably great. (I still feel that every time I finish riding a trail. I guess that's why I still do it despite all the slings and arrows.) I started to dream about Iceman again.

The bike shop guy had raced Iceman and so had many of his friends. I built it up in my head like some mythical, out-of-reach fantasy. About a month after I started dating my husband, we went to Traverse City on Iceman weekend just to observe, watch friends finish and socialize. That year, it was unseasonably warm for November—I recall it being sunny and about 60 degrees.

Now that I've been on a bunch of trails, many of them harder than Island Lake, it's still hard to get the dream of Iceman out of my head. Everyone I know who's ridden it tells me it's not technical at all, but it still seemed out of reach, even after I spent the season racing.

A few days ago, my husband (who has raced Iceman multiple times, by the way, and even stopped to take a nap during the race one year) was trying to figure out why I thought the race was such a big deal. We were discussing a certain endurance racer, and he said something about it not being an endurance race. "What do you mean, it's not an endurance race," I asked, not believing him for a second.

That's when he explained to me that the race is "only" 26 miles. "Only 26 miles? That's more than I could ride!" I was emphatic.

Then he reminded me that I rode about 40 miles at 6 Hours of Ithaca. Oh yeah. So what's the big deal about Iceman? Apparently, it's just a race at the end of the season that's fun because of all the people, hoopla and events surrounding it. Mileage wise, it's not any longer than Sport and Expert classes ride for a cross country race. Supposedly, the only thing really challenging about it are the sandy uphills.

I feel a little disillusioned. Iceman's been in my head as this unattainable goal for so long, it's hard to shake it loose. The race hasn't gotten any easier, it's just that my perspective on what's difficult has changed. I still have to race it one of these days, though. I just do.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Dream of Iceman, Part 1

I've been reading a lot about Iceman in the last week. I follow the blogs of a lot of people who raced and I've was anxious to see their recaps. (I even found this article, which I thought was kind of interesting.) I stayed home yet again this year, but one of these days, I'm going to actually do it. For some reason, it holds a tremendous amount of allure for me.

The first time I ever heard anyone talk about Iceman was probably in 2000. I had bought my first mountain bike in 1999 and stopped into the shop frequently for advice, accessories, etc. (including a new bike and Yakima rack when they both got stolen off my car in my driveway a few months after I got them). The guy at the bike shop, who is now a good friend, mentioned Iceman to me when I had no concept of what training for a race would even mean.

I like to make fun of the way I used to view mountain biking now that I am so experienced. (Truthfully, I am not that experienced, but it's still interesting to remember just how little I knew back then.) At any rate, I thought training for the Iceman might be a good goal to set, even though at the time I thought I was mountain biking if I rode my bike across a strip of dirt.

I used to ride this trail at a state park in the area called Sleepy Hollow. It's mostly a hiking trail, but they allow mountain bikes. It's impossible to explain how easy this trail is if you've never ridden it. So, the day came when my then boyfriend, who also fancied himself a mountain biker, and I drove to Island Lake to ride to expand our horizons a little. We rode the easiest trail there, and I literally ended up sobbing on the side of the trail for a while before walking my bike out to the road to ride back to the parking lot. So much for my dream of Iceman! I didn't even get my bike on the trail again for the next several years.

To be continued ...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Don't Be a Hater

I know I initially expressed reservations about Lance Armstrong's return to professional cycling. But it should also be said that I am a fan of Lance for numerous reasons, not the least of which is his somewhat arrogant and disparaging attitude. I'm a big fan of people who "tell it like it is," even if comes out sounding somewhat rude. He's also given cycling a lot of exposure (not always positive), and you really have to respect someone who's become famous for cycling, a sport that barely anyone in the U.S. pays any attention to. (Yes, he's done other things, such as have cancer, raise money for cancer, hang out with Matthew McConnaghey and date celebrities, too.)

At any rate, as much as I complained about Lance's comeback, I also admitted that I'd be cheering for him every chance I got. But not everyone is. There's been a tremendous amount of backlash from the cycling community and I've been reading some of it.

Yesterday, there was an article on the L.A. Times blog called "Everybody hates Lance Armstrong—so take a number, cyclists." The article itself is pretty bland, and doesn't contain much news. It mostly discusses what he's been doing since he stopped cycling and how he holds grudges. The most ignorant part of this article, however, was this part: "Yet, instead of shrugging their shoulders and coming to the logical conclusion that Armstrong is an aging athlete who's way out of shape and impossibly unable to become competitive again—and therefore is not worth worrying about—a surprising number of cyclists have chosen to criticize the comeback."

That's a logical conclusion? I'll give the writer of the article the fact that Lance is old by cycling standards (although I find it irritating since he's only two years older than me), but is she forgetting the fact that he's a superhuman phenomenon who dominated the sport a mere three years ago? Or that he has grit and determination rarely seen in other mortals?

Of course, the holding a grudge part certainly seems to be true. That being said, he may be successful just to prove all his critics wrong.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Not Enough

This is a true story of two mountain bike racers who were not very successful last season. Neither of them trained as much as they wanted to or should have and, as a result, both had somewhat disappointing results. They both wanted to be fast, but neither of them did what they needed to do to make this happen. I'm curious as to which one of their outcomes was worse and what will happen to each of them when the next season rolls around.

Racer #1 started out motivated. This racer trained a lot in the beginning and had some relative initial success. As the season wore on, Racer #1 still wanted to race, but didn't train as much. By the end of the season, this racer wasn't training at all, but still chose to keep racing. It bothered Racer #1 to be slow and to have unsuccessful races, but it didn't bother Racer #1 enough to quit racing (or to motivate Racer #1 to continue/step up training).

Racer #2 also started out motivated. This racer trained some in the beginning, though not as much as Racer #1. Racer #2 had the advantage, however, of more natural strength and ability than Racer #1. As the season wore on, Racer #2 became more unhappy with racing. Racer #2 was also bothered by having unsuccessful races, but not enough to train. Racer #2 quit racing before the season was over.

So, which is worse, being bothered by lack of success, but not enough to train more, or being bothered, but not enough to stop racing? Will Racer #2, who has more natural ability, ever be motivated enough to train to make the most of that natural ability or are Racer #2's racing days over? Will Racer #1, who stuck with racing all season despite lack of training, ever hate being slow enough to train consistently? Stay tuned for answers.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Random Bits on Bicycle Safety

Here are a few random items of interest I found this week:
  • Mandatory helmets in Switzerland—Switzerland's transport minister Moritz Leuenberger has not made any friends among cyclists with his plan to make helmets mandatory. The plan is part of a package of comprehensive reforms to improve Swiss road safety, which includes requiring drivers to take refresher courses every 10 years.

I have mixed feelings about this. I never wore a helmet before I bought my first mountain bike. After that I was pretty militant about my helmet until I got my cruiser. I must admit I never wear my helmet when I ride my cruiser. I guess to sum up, I think helmets are very important in most situations, but I just don't feel like I'm in that much danger of a head injury when I'm riding slowly on the bike path on my cruiser. (A particular pet peeve of mine, however, is parents out riding with their children. The kids are wearing helmets, but the parents are not. Whatever happened to leading by example?)

  • Police enforcing traffic laws for cyclists—Police in Santa Rosa, Calif. patrolled high bicycle traffic areas for three hours last Thursday and handed out 27 citations and 13 warnings. (Three of the citations were given to drivers who threatened bicyclists' safety.) The patrol was part of a two-year, $315,000 state-sponsored project to improve bicycle safety. (Original article)

I think this one is a great idea. Cyclists do incredibly stupid things—I see them daily. I also think that if we expect to have the same rights to the road as drivers, we have to follow traffic laws. That means riding on the right side of the road, staying off sidewalks and obeying traffic signals. By the same token, drivers need to be responsible and pay attention to anyone else on the road, whether it is a cyclist, pedestrian or another motorist.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me?

I guess it should have been common sense, but yesterday I found out for sure. Intervals really don't work on the trail.

I went out to Burchfield late yesterday afternoon to catch the last little bit of unseasonably warm weather. I was feeling a lot better than I had on Tuesday, so I decided to pick up my plan of doing intervals on the ski trail.

I gave up after the first interval because I realized, at least with my current system, which was a digital stopwatch on my wrist, doing intervals was imprecise at best, and probably completely impossible. There's no way I could look at my watch the entire time I was riding without running myself into a tree, because although the trail is pretty easy and flat, it's still a trail, after all. I was also on my cross bike, which meant I had to watch for particularly large roots and other obstacles, lest I be catapulted from my bike.

Plan B was to just to try to push as big of a gear as I could to make it harder. When I came to a hill (few and not very big), instead of shifting, I just stood up to try to power up the hill. It was a lot of work and I got tired after about 15 minutes. Then I switched to an easier gear and cooled down for 10 minutes.

In total (including my slow warm up), I was only on the trail for about 35 minutes, but I was pretty tired and my legs feel a little twingey today. This weekend, when the weather turns winterish, I'm going to set up my trainer to do some real intervals. For now, though, I at least have three rides down in my goal to complete five before the next Kisscross race.