Wow, it’s flat here!

I got to ride in Yuma, AZ this morning for the first time ever and it’s super flat.  I’ve never ridden almost 10 miles in less than 30 minutes before; that’s right, SuperCyclist = Me!  My SAT and I are here in AZ to visit my parents for the T-day weekend and since I’m not planning on stopping my training, we brought our bikes along for the trip.

The weather today is great: sunny, warm (hit a high of 70F/20C when we finished our ride), and not too windy.  We had a great little tailwind on the way out (“I am invincible!  I am amazing!”) that we had to pay back going home (“What is this madness?”).  Stopped for a few photos of the big sky and an expired tarantula (my SAT wanted me to pose with my face beside it, but I was too creeped out by its bent, hairy legs and the ants feasting on its sad carcass to indulge my SAT’s ridiculous request).

IMG_9313IMG_9312IMG_9314

Photo 1: Big sky.  Photo 2: Creepy crawly carcass.  My shoe provides perspective. Photo 3: Dorkiness personified.

Tomorrow, we may actually ride to the US/Mexican border.  That would be kind of cool.  And yes, in case any of you were wondering, I enjoyed my ride today!  That’s TWO rides in a row.  Of course, cycling on flats is a novelty for me and hitting an average speed of 22-23 mph is unheard of, at least for yours truly!

Advertisements

Confusion

Today marks the halfway point in my first official week of training and I feel compelled to write about my ride yesterday because of unusual feelings I experienced.  While I like riding my bike, I don’t LOVE it.  There have been many times when I endured a ride for the sake of getting a workout or for burning off all the baked goods I consumed that day.  I do try to look at whatever scenery is passing before my eyes, but since I’m still a relatively new cyclist, I feel that it is more prudent for me to watch the road instead of the sights around me so I have a better chance of staying ON the bike.

Yesterday, I confess that I felt…enjoyment.  Appreciation.  Fun.  It was a lovely day and I was biking past Red Rock Canyon, which is one of the most beautiful places around.  My legs also felt good and I was testing new cycling shoes (a.k.a., “Penguin Shoes”) that were comfy out of the box.  PenguinShoes (Louis Garneau CFS-300.  Cute, yes?)

I made it a point to look around me and to see the different colours in the sky and mountains.  I breathed in fresh air and felt gratitude for the use of my limbs.  I even pushed myself a little bit to sprint up hills a wee bit faster than my normal turtle pace.  I saw a cycling acquaintance who stopped to ask how my training was going thus far and I was able to answer “good, so far” without any irony, sarcasm, or regret.

c3p0_mistermarvel

When I arrived home, my SAT eagerly asked “so….how was it?”  I said that I had a good time.  I think I shocked 5 years off of his life with that answer.  I proceeded to eat, shower, and roll my legs (I think that may be my new addiction!) then basked in the glow of a ride well done.

Happy Thanksgiving!

And so it begins…

scaredbikepic

Today marks the official start of my training and I am not sure if I am resigned to my (questionably sane) idea, scared of it, or revealing my extreme ignorance and naivety in going ahead.  Last weekend’s mini bike tour experiment was more to see if my psyche and butt could handle 2 back-to-back long rides.  Admittedly, the tour was “pushing it” for me at this point in my training journey.  It is cool, though, that I did it; despite the physical and psychological pain, my body is capable of grinding out a lot of miles already, albeit at a modest pace.  However, now that I am mostly recovered, I am going to start training in earnest, if not with enthusiasm, with the assistance of an actual double-century training program that maps out the number of miles per week.  I am using Bicycling magazine’s program and beginning with week 4 (out of 16).  I am not starting at week 1 because my base cycling level is stronger than that (case in point: I survived a bike tour last weekend!  According to my mileage last week, I would be starting at week 14 today!).

Week 4’s total mileage is 135 and today is scheduled to be a recovery-paced day of 11 miles.  (Mondays are typically recovery days while training because the weekends are for long, difficult, arduous, painful rides.)  The rest of this week mandates ride lengths of 16, 19, 20, and 53 miles.  Not too bad.  Since this week is Thanksgiving week, let me take a moment to be thankful for this training plan:

(clears throat): I am thankful for this training program — especially this week — because it will serve to mitigate the thousands of calories I will consume at Thanksgiving dinner.

I am also thankful that I have short rides this week.

Yeah.  Positive thinking.  See?  I AM trying here!

Recovery Ride

stronger3

Apparently, serious cyclists do a short, low-intensity “recovery ride” the day or two  after a big effort.  Mine was yesterday and I think I need to recover from THAT ride.  Legs are stiff and sore and my mind was screaming at me to stop hurting myself.  The ride was one I’ve done many times before and is a mellow 25 mile “breakfast” ride (i.e., early in the morning).  I think my average speed was a good 5 or 6 mph slower yesterday (and I was actually TRYING to pedal!).

I’ve never trained for a physical event; the only thing I’ve trained to do was to learn the piano and endure years of school to get to a professional level.  (Yes, dear readers, I’m a pianist and teacher!  Perhaps I’ll post pictures or audio clips as proof soon.)  One would think, then, that discipline, mental fortitude, and persistence would be easy for me to practice, but it is not.  I don’t like physical pain, I’m inherently lazy (when it comes to feeling pain from exercise), and I’m not a huge fan of sweat.  Oh, I’m impatient as well.  I want to be good NOW.  Unfortunately, it turns out that I’m easily discouraged by what other experienced endurance athletes (like SAT) already know: to get stronger, you will be weaker.  Exercise and training is about breaking down muscles in order to build them back up stronger.  I know that this endeavour is a long-term deal, but right now, I just want to bake cookies and read a book.

Wind Advisory

always-be-prepared1

I am alive.  I know I am alive because I can feel the soreness in my legs, arms, neck, and lady bits.  My SAT and I successfully completed our mini bike tour this weekend, powered by Hammer gels, many french fries, and Krispy Kreme donut holes.  Despite the physical, emotional, and mental pain of this weekend, I have to admit that eating as much food as I could, junk or otherwise, was fun.

Official 2-day stats: 180 miles (290 km), 9193 ft of climbing (2800 m), many Joshua trees viewed, 4.5 hours to ride 37 miles (59.5 km) in 30mph (48km) headwind.

Now, the details.  Dear readers, feel free to skip ahead or leave this page now.

Saturday November 15, 2014.  Beautiful day without much wind.  We left home at 7:30am, thinking that would be an early enough start.  Of course, by mile 8.3, I got a flat tire, thanks to a little bitty cactus needle.  SAT fixed the flat, but the new inner tube had a large hole in it as well.  What to do now?  We decided to head over to the nearest bike shop a mile away and buy some more tubes (it was 10 minutes to opening).  Finally!  After that hour delay, we were on our way to the M casino, our first stop.  I decided early on that I would treat this day’s riding as a series of 5 little rides; that would be a lot more manageable, psychologically, than thinking of the 101 miles as one ride.  Arrived at the Arco gas station beside the M casino at 10:28am and enjoyed a gel, fig bar, and some chocolate milk.  I felt a bit tired at this point but wasn’t deterred (yet) by the miles coming up.

Next stop: the Shell station in Jean, NV for a stretch break.  My neck and shoulders were screaming “stop!”  We’ve hit 46.2 miles now and it was 12:02pm.  In my voice notes on my phone, I said that I spoke too soon at the M casino when I said I was feeling good.  Only a few miles after leaving the M, I felt like crud and stayed that way until arriving in Jean.  But, I must press on.  SAT was doing a great job in shielding me from wind, traffic, and my own perverse thoughts (most of the time); he was chipper and cheery and I thought I heard him singing a few times.  Honestly, at this point, I felt like Grumpy Cat does:

f3eb293e6105c9c25a45d4849ff90ae9df2210d9274789c691812d2e94a6c849

Our lunch stop was Primm, NV and we arrived at 12:59pm, hitting 59.1 miles.  Most of this segment was on the I-15, but it’s not as bad as it sounds because the shoulder is wide enough for 2 cyclists to ride side-by-side.  Of course, having semi-trucks pass you is a bit disconcerting, but our little rearview mirrors (attached to our sunglasses) helped hugely in warning us of potential dangers.

During the ride to Primm, SAT shared a typical SAT-ism: “I like seeing all the cars and trucks.  They’re like friends on the highway.”  Uh….if they were really our friends, they’d pick us up and give us a ride.  I must have been feeling particularly grumpy and hungry at that point!

In Primm, food options are limited and expensive since we are far from Vegas (i.e., civilization).  Buyer beware.  We ended up splitting a Subway and cookies (almost $9!) and refilled our bottles for the next leg.  I remember feeling happy that we have less than halfway to go….tally ho!

Nipton, CA, our second-last stop, consists of a motel, general store, and cafe.  Originally founded in 1905, its claim to fame is its location right on the edge of the Mohave National Preserve (which is beautiful, by the way).   After an annoying climb that ended on the overpass/turn off of the I-15 on to Nipton Road, we arrived in Nipton at 3:04pm.  The descent into Nipton after the overpass was fun; we saw beautiful desert and mountains all while speeding down red paved roads.  After grabbing some chocolate at the store, we started the last leg of day one into Searchlight.

IMG_9224IMG_9226

(Left: after the climb up to the overpass.  Right: Nipton General Store.)

The last 20-ish miles into Searchlight were a challenge, because it was cold,(getting) dark, and it was the end of the day.  There was another climb, which in hindsight, wasn’t too bad, but felt like it lasted forever at the time.  IMG_9227(Sunset during the climb to Searchlight.)

Finally arrived in Searchlight around 5:30pm.  Checked into the El Rey Motel — old, clean, friendly front desk lady — then walked over to McDonald’s for dinner (treated ourselves to the premium burgers).  We pretty much inhaled our burgers. Another SAT quotable quote: “I really think you should have dessert tonight.”  I didn’t argue.

Sunday November 16, 2014.  The next morning came too soon.  We heard the wind howling and were a little concerned about the implications of said wind.  The high was 3C (37F).  Cold.  We wore everything we brought: wool base layer, jersey, sun sleeves, jacket, thick gloves, balaclava, headband, full thermal cycling pants, our “civilian” pants over the cycling pants.  After another gourmet meal at McDonald’s (there are only 3 places to eat in Searchlight!), we hit the road.  WOW.  Normally, the 37 miles from Searchlight to the Railway Pass casino (our next stop) would only take about 2-2.5 hours, since a lot of it is downhill.  It took us 4.5 hours due to the stupid strong headwind.   That strong wind stirred up a dust storm that we had to wait out (only a minute).  Ever wonder what it’s like to work harder going downhill than uphill?  It is as dumb as it sounds.  Kind of demoralizing.  SAT did his best to provide a good wind block for me and yes folks, that there is true love.  😉   We reached the Railway Pass casino — I may have wept tears of joy internally — then decided to press on another few miles for lunch, since there was nothing that would accommodate bikes inside the casino.  Del Taco was our lunch destination just off of Boulder Highway and it was glorious:

IMG_9234

The rest of the way home was relatively uneventful, aside from me almost bonking the last 10 miles.  BUT I DIDN’T CARE BECAUSE WE WERE ALMOST HOME.  Upon walking inside my place and collapsing on my couch, I think my first words were: “It’s so nice in here….why did I ever leave?”  SAT, on the other hand, was congratulating me and saying I should feel really accomplished.  He also proclaimed that I have “real lasting power (endurance)….as long as I keep feeding you and watering you, you keep going!”  I think I gave him the evil eye.  He guffawed then shut up.  That’s right, SAT, just keep your sadistic cycling thoughts to yourself.

The End.

Fear and trepidation

Cyclophobia

This weekend is going to be spent doing a mini bike tour with my self-appointed trainer (“SAT”).  Since I’ve committed myself to training for a double century, SAT thought it might be a good idea to see how I’d feel after doing 2 long-ish bike rides in a row.  Well, why not?  At this very moment, I think that’s a good idea as well.  [N.B.  I am well rested, my legs are feeling great, and I’m typing this on my laptop inside my cozy little abode.]

Our plan is to bike from home to Searchlight, NV, which is “only” a distance of 100 miles (160 km).  We will bike back home on Sunday, taking a different route from Searchlight, making the distance shorter at 76 miles.  The temperature is supposed to be nice with minimal wind.  Sunday’s forecast?  High of 52F (11C) and winds up to 22mph (35km).  I do not see a “wind warning advisory” on weather.com yet….all I know is that the one and only time I did a mini bike tour (with SAT in the spring), I remember battling headwinds the ENTIRE time.  No, I am not exaggerating.  30-35mph headwinds BOTH directions.  It was miserable and difficult and made me question my sanity.  There was a tiny part that was laughable: specifically, that one 12-mile mountain pass that was just brutal to pedal up in the face of that darned headwind and more difficult to pedal downhill in the face of that same darned headwind the next day.  I never had to work so hard to bike downhill in my life (I think our average speed was 9-10 mph on that 6% descent because of that 30-35mph headwind).

So, yes, this weekend may not be all fun and games, but I am going to do my best to view it as “toughness training.”  Fear and trepidation?  Yup.  At least I get to carb-load today.  Bring on the fries and pasta!

Tough Love

pain-relief-stop

Oh my goodness.  Tonight, I used rollers for the first time.  No, I was not in a casino.  My dear husband (aka, sadistic self-appointed trainer) said that I NEED to use foam rollers to self-massage my legs, especially now, since I’m getting into ultra-long cycling.  Basically, you are using your body weight to roll yourself back and forth while on top of the roller.  This gives you the same benefit as getting a deep-tissue massage.  Muscles are lengthened and stretched, reverting to a healthier state of being.  (For some reason, meat tenderizing comes to mind…!)  While it is very true that using foam rollers is incredibly therapeutic, it is also true that it HURTS LIKE HECK.  I almost cried.  It hurts.  I turned to look at my self-appointed trainer with tears in my eyes and whimpered, “are you enjoying this?”  He actually smirked and said “sort of.”  Grrr.

I will fully admit that my legs feel a whole lot better and looser after undergoing that torture session.  Yes, I will continue this rolling thing….it will get better.  Right?