Progress

Week 13 of 16. The mandated number of miles this week is frighteningly high. 282 miles. That is almost the same number of miles from my home to Phoenix, AZ (according to Google Maps). I never thought that I would ever voluntarily train for an athletic event of any sort and here I am talking about mileage, speed, interval training, and pain. CRAZY. Have I noticed anything during the weeks of training I have so far endured? Well, let me attempt to quantify my findings:

1) I am complaining less. At least out loud. (Does complaining in the form of the written/typed word count, such as this blog?)
2) I like my cute cycling socks, cute helmet, cute shoes, and really cool sport shield sunglasses. I will post a pic of my new shield sunglasses in a separate blog post very soon.
3) I can bike longer whilst listening to podcasts, i.e., educational distractions.
4) I am learning various bits of information and trivia whilst riding (see “podcasts,” point #3). For example, did you know that there is a law against dying in the Houses of Parliament in Britain? This is partly due to the British government’s desire to save money on state funerals; members of Parliament are considered important enough to warrant state funerals, but the expense of having one is great enough to pass a law banning MP’s from expiring whilst Parliament is in session. Frankly, I’d probably expire from boredom, but that is an entirely different thing altogether.
4) I am eating a lot more junk food (and more food in general) during this training period without (much) guilt. I have eaten more french fries during the past couple of months than during the past 10 years.
5) Yes, I admit, I AM getting stronger and faster. Well, at least I am pushing myself harder once in a while. It is kind of cool that I have concrete evidence attesting to my increasing speed and “prowess” on the road bike via Strava (a social media site for cyclists and runners where one can upload data from one’s cycling/running computer and share training progress). For instance, today, I biked the Red Rock Scenic Loop (again) and got another personal record (PR), breaking the PR I got last week for doing the loop. I was quite surprised because I didn’t feel like I was going particularly fast today.

At this point, I’m still not certain if I’m going to take a (long) hiatus from the bike after the double century. I expect that I will decrease the mileage considerably, unless my SAT spikes my water/food with mind and mood altering substances that will influence me to continue riding long distances whilst thinking it is my own idea to do so. (Mental note: guard my liquids and foods.) I am a little surprised and yes, even impressed, that I’ve adhered to my training schedule THIS LONG. The proverbial light at the end of the (training) tunnel is but a minuscule glimmer at this point….but the fact that I can sense that shimmer of light every few days is heartening.

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There is always someone crazier….

My SAT told me about a guy who rode across the country on a unicycle way back in 1981. Many people think riding a bicycle across the country is crazy. I can’t imagine doing that same feat on 1 wheel. (However, the abs one would obtain whilst riding a unicycle would be amazing due to all that core work! But that is NOT a good enough reason for me to acquire a new hobby, thank you very much.)

The reason for this post: my SAT just asked me if I would unicycle across the country with him someday. Guess what my answer was? Wait for it….

….NO.

(I mean, really? Does my SAT not know me by now?)

Throwback Thursday: Red Rock Scenic Loop

I was looking through some old photos on my computer a couple of days ago and I came across a few pictures and a video of my first ever road bike ride.  In honor of “Throwback Thursday,” I am publishing said video.  Since I currently have a free wordpress account and not a fancy premium one, I don’t have enough space to upload a video directly in this blog.  So, dear readers, please click here to view the video on youtube.  You will note that I am not saying much in the video.  This is for obvious reasons:

  1. the Red Rock loop is full of climbing (i.e., it is hard!).
  2. I am annoyed at SAT for recording me in my hour of pain.
  3. I am annoyed at SAT for talking, laughing, and just generally being annoying.
  4. I am annoyed.

You may also note that I am wearing sneakers instead of bike shoes that clip into the pedals; this is, again, for the obvious reason that I would have fallen on my face and broken my neck had I had “clip-in” style shoes and pedals.  I had enough trouble maneuvering my bike up and around and down that darned loop.

So, there you go.  Digital proof of how I was tortured during my introduction to the sport of road cycling.  Sigh.

iSore

(This is a long post.  You are forewarned!)

This weekend featured 2 new “firsts” for me, plus a return to my “last-resort” method of training: indoor bike.  So many words, so little time, so let’s begin!

Yesterday, my SAT and I embarked on a new type of adventure: the multi-disciplinary outdoor fest.  We decided to hike up Bridge Mountain, which is one of the most popular and beautiful hikes in southern Nevada and is situated in Red Rock Canyon.  Most people who climb Bridge Mountain drive their high-clearance vehicle (HCV) up the 5 mile gravel road to the trailhead.  That gravel road is appropriately named Rocky Gap Road, for it is indeed VERY rocky.  I am not sure which is faster: driving up the road or hiking up the road.  There are many sharp twists and turns along the narrow road that necessitate good driving skills, a cool head, and patience (for high speeds are well nigh impossible).  I was eager for my SAT to hike Bridge Mountain because I knew from personal experience how fun of a climb it is.  Along the way to the summit, one will see the rocks change color from grey (limestone) to red and cream (sandstone).  There is also a hidden forest near the summit as well as a beautiful stone bridge or arch (thus, the name “Bridge Mountain”).

Whilst discussing the idea of hiking Bridge Mountain, my SAT smirked and suggested that we do Bridge the “correct” way: (mountain) bike up Rocky Gap Road, hide our bikes at the trailhead, then hike up.

“It’ll be SO much faster going down Rocky Gap on our bikes and besides, we have to do this the proper way,” my SAT declared.

“Proper according to whom?” I inquired.

“To anyone hard-core,” he asserted.

“How long do you think this will take?”  I asked.

“Let’s say 2 hours….wait, no, probably more like 1.5 hours for you,” he calculated.

Oh joy.  A 5 mile mountain bike climb, which is something I rarely do, for almost 2 hours.  To add incentive, my SAT invited a friend (Mike) to join us who knows the route up to Bridge AND who is even less experienced than me on the mountain bike.  I reluctantly agreed to this endeavour and yesterday morning, we got on our bikes and started pedaling up the rock and boulder strewn road.

Honestly, that was one of the hardest things I’ve done on the bike.  My lack of expertise on the mountain bike was most evident when I had to negotiate my way uphill through rocks and gravel.  I was going so slowly that I lost my balance (and patience) several times.  All the while I was huffing, puffing, and fearing for my cardiovascular health, my SAT was smiling, laughing, and doling out words of encouragement.

“Pedal HARDER!”….”Why are you just standing there?”….”GET BACK ON YOUR BIKE.”

(Ok, he DID say some nice things too, like how well I was doing and how far I’ve come.  Of course, my state of mind during the entire climb was such that I decided that SAT now stood for “Sadistic Apathetic Trainer.”  I think the word “sadistic” is apparent enough; the “apathetic” was my adjective to describe his attitude to my pain during the climb).

Mike wasn’t saying much either on the bike ride up the climb and had to admit he did not make HIS wife do things like my SAT was making me do.  Take note, my SAT.

We finally got up to the trailhead, heaved in as much oxygen as we could, then stashed our bikes off the trailhead:

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The hike up to the top of Bridge Mountain was beautiful.  Perfect temperature and gorgeous views.

IMG_9522(Our goal!)

IMG_9548(My SAT and I on top of the bridge.)

The ride down Rocky Gap Road went much faster than the climb (obviously!), but I still had to brake most of the way down, as I kept on gaining speed when I wanted to go slower over the rocks and boulders in my way.  However, we all made it down safely and before the sun set.

IMG_9558(SO HAPPY to be DONE.)

In contrast to yesterday’s beautiful weather, today was quite rainy and cold.  I still had a considerable number of miles to ride for the week and it wasn’t looking good for a long ride today.  Despite my lack of adequate rainy weather gear, my SAT and I set out for a bike ride anyway.  We were only a few miles into the ride when we both decided to turn around and go home for the following reasons: 1) every time we turned a corner, our tires would direct streams of water into our shoes.  Cold, wet feet do not a comfortable ride make.  2) My saddle (seat) is one of those fancy cut-out ones to alleviate pressure.  While I cycled, water from the wheels would splash up the cut-out and onto my butt area, making my cycling pants feel like a spandex sponge.  I could feel myself squeezing water out of my chamois (the padded part of my cycling pants) whilst sitting and rotating my posterior during each pedal stroke.  3) It was just plain cold and miserable.

We arrived home and immediately shed our sodden clothing.  I resigned myself to a long session on the indoor bike in the gym.  Better than nothing, I suppose.  I hope tomorrow is a sunnier, drier day!

IMG_9559

(Just arrived home and not impressed with the precipitation.)

It takes a village….

Happy New Year, my devoted readers!  😉  I hope that you all enjoyed the magic of the Christmas season with food, folks, and fun.  As outlined in my last blog post, I have been riding more with other people and that has made my suffering, er, training, more bearable and even enjoyable.  I did my first group ride in Death Valley on the weekend – without my SAT! – and it was a lovely day getting to know new people and seeing scenery from a different perspective (I’ve been to Death Valley before, but only by car).  We started cycling from Furnace Creek and that ride was the first time my Garmin cycle computer registered a negative elevation:

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Here is a pic of the desert in Death Valley between Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells:

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Another variable I introduced into my training regime was the podcast.  Amazing!  I downloaded a whole bunch of podcasts onto my phone and have been enjoying various shows and stories on topics ranging from current events, the history of cinnamon, and pop culture quizzes.  One trivia gem I learned whilst listening to a podcast: when pooping, dogs align their bodies so that their head faces north and their bottoms face south.  Moral: when hiking or going into the woods, always take a dog with you!  I’ve found that the miles fly by when I listen to interesting facts and anecdotes, which is both encouraging (“I’ve already biked 20 miles!”) and entertaining (“I wonder if humans align themselves in the same way as dogs when relieving themselves outdoors….”).  Ah yes, the lofty and philosophical questions of life with which I occupy myself during a bike ride!