I’m not even a professional writer and I have writer’s block. I have been tossing around some topics for this week, but couldn’t seem to nail one down. I don’t want to bore everyone with updates of how training is going, because that’s redundant. There is, of course, the big story – Lance. I can give my opinion, but I’m not even sure what it is. Wait, disappointment. That’s my opinion.
It’s almost the end of January and I still feel like I just started to get my butt in gear for training. After last week’s rude awakening of riding, I knew I needed to get out on my bike at ANY opportunity.
Last winter was dry and cold so there was ample time to be on the bike. Last weekend was wet, foggy and cold with poor visibility. Not my visibility, but cars’ visibility to see us. Even with my blinky tail light last weekend, the sound of a car coming up behind us was a bit unnerving. The only comfort you have on some roads is hearing the tires hit the rumble strips of the two yellow lines.
This weekend was MUCH nicer and I was dying to get out on the road bike. My mind played against me on Saturday. No one else was riding andI get nervous riding alone. The sun was out and the sun was blinding. Saturday ended up with me trail running behind to Mukluks as they road through Lackawanna State Park which was 6 miles of fun on the snow, ice and mud. I also managed to spin for an hour that day too and cook a dinner for my hubby and parents. It was a great day!
That left Sunday as the day I needed to get on my bike, but it was about 40 degrees and the wind was gusting at 20mph. It’s now or never, I thought. With single digit temps looming and snow next weekend, my road bike would only be hooked to the trainer. This was my chance. I suited up in my dorkiest and brightest gear. I turned my blinky light on and I was off. A short 20-mile ride with about 2,000 feet of climbing was accomplished. It was windy, my face was wind burned but I was happy.
So, there you have it, I blogged about my training. I knew it would resort to that, but you know what? That’s okay. I am proud of what I am trying to accomplish. And I’ll feel good if I can gain any support from some people or if I can encourage others.
I hope everyone enjoys reading about my progress. I really can’t wait for my first race to really give this blog some character. Last week, my blog views crushed 1,000. I am so thankful that you all read about my journey and leave such wonderful comments. Thank you!
Since I last posted seven days ago, I spent this past week working my tail off – or so I thought.
I suffer from migraines and had one from last Tuesday until about Thursday afternoon. I still worked out, but it certainly wasn’t to my full potential. I spent the week focusing on my core muscles, cardio, legs and abs. By the time Friday rolled around, I was ready to get on my road bike. The weather here in PA finally got above 40 degrees, but not by much. On Saturday, I did a road ride with some guys.
Now, I know they are faster than me and I always hesitate with my decision to go, but I need to ride with them if I want to get faster.
My last road ride was in early November and then since, it’s been a few miles here and there on the mountain bike. Mentally, I thought, “Hell, I can go out and ride with no problem. I’ve been working out training so I’m strong.” Silly me. Those little spurts of cardio I did were not enough. The weather was about 42 degrees and there were six of us. I was the only girl.
We rode up the valley (local terminology) into Forest City, on through to the Stillwater Lake dam and back down. Sounds like an easy ride, right? I felt like my lungs weren’t working. And by the time we were looping back around mile 30, my quads started to cramp. No more standing for me. I felt awful.
Our ride ended up being about 44 miles and 2,000 feet of climbing, but that is a drop in the bucket compared to what others did this weekend. (Vicki Barclay rode 100 on Saturday!) After the ride, it was a few Blue Moons and a quesadilla that got me feeling a bit better. But my muscles were tight, hips were hurting. I knew I needed to start focusing on those muscle areas.
Come Sunday, two friends of mine wanted to do a nice ride out to the country and back. The ride was probably more climbing than Saturday’s ride, but less miles. I was game.
I knew my legs would be tired so I sat in the back of Ed and Taylor and shouted, “car back!” That was about the extent of my conversation on the ride. The fog was dense to the point that it was probably dangerous to be on the roads, but it eventually cleared toward the end of the ride. We rode 30 miles and climbed about 2,900 feet in elevation. It’s not much, but I’ll take it. I was tired but my muscles weren’t as angry with me as they were after Saturday’s ride.
It’s funny how you can be so happy to be out on a ride and know you are getting a good workout, but be so disappointed. Why am I so slow? Why do I feel like my muscles hate me? How come I feel like my legs have nothing to give? Well, it IS January in northeast Pennsylvania and you have NOT gone more than 20 miles on a bike since November!
I do need to remember that the season does not start in a week and I have two more months to prepare and build myself up before my first endurance race of the season. It was a great week of working out. I noticed strength in my core and I felt good knowing my muscles were tight from working them out.
In the end, I need to really bust my ass on the trainer and get running. Cross training is great for me and I need to do it. This weekend only made me stronger and I need to keep going. This season will be tough, but I can line up and be just as confident as my peers on that starting line if I staying focused.
So, I wrote a blog post on Saturday that implied I wasn’t going to be coached this season. Well, things have changed.
I continued to panic about not having a plan into Sunday. I kept asking myself a ton of questions: How do I train? Do I only lift? Do I run a lot? Do I ride a lot? Should I go to yoga? Ahh!!! I was overwhelmed and overthinking everything, which is no surprise for those of you who know me.
Luckily, a good friend of mine – the woman who taught me everything I know about mountain biking, introduced me to racing and encouraged me throughout my short mountain bike career – said she’d help me organize my training. Or, as I like to say, she is my coach.
She is known in the mountain biking community and gained pro status a few years back. She continues to encourage me and others to be our best while she’s nursing an injury. She is a humble person who’s given so much to the cycling community over the years.
Honestly, it never occurred to me to ask her for help, but I was instantly thrilled. She knows her stuff!
We met up and talked about my goals for the season. Specifically, we decided which races I want to do well in (all of them of course), but I picked about three that are my ultimate races. She developed a plan for me about how to prepare for the races, including how to fill my schedule – but not too much. We also talk about how to get ready for 100 miles on the mountain bike – mentally and physically.
This season is going to be good one but it’s also going to be scary. My plans are ambitious and physically demanding. After all, this is my first season l plan to do more than one 100 mile race. Hell, this is my first season to ever race a 100 mile race. Luckily, my coach motivated me while keeping my feet on the ground. Our meeting was a refreshing conversation and I am forever grateful for Alaina, my friend and coach.
Ride on strong 🙂
The holidays are over, and now it’s time to get back to the grind. I’ve been very tired this past week and the whole motivation thing was almost nonexistent. All I am seeing in the online world is people training, being coached and gaining miles as well as elevation. I am not. I won’t say that I’m not training, but I don’t have a coach and the past few weeks have not allowed for miles or elevation gain on a bike. . I often fall into the trap of comparing myself to others. “Seriously, Cindy, focus on what you accomplish and be encouraged by others,” I tell myself.
I spent the past few days worrying and second guessing the season before it even starts. I am following athletes from the East Coast and around the country discuss their training from northeastern Pennsylvania. I’m trying to talk myself out of worrying, trying to convince myself that my gym routine is just enough, and that snowshoeing and running are keeping my cardio in check. It wasn’t working. I even went as far as to message Fit Chick – Selene Yeager – to see if she thought getting a coach is needed and if I need to switch up my routine. She was kind enough, as always, to return with a message saying that sure, coaching has its pros, but what I am doing should be fine. She said that I will be “A-Okay” with what I am doing. Phew. Thanks Selene!
You’d think I would wake up in a better mood after last night’s lovely celebration for my husband, who recently accepted a new job. I did not. Today, I stayed in my pajamas, drank my coffee and wallowed in self-pity for most of the day. That’s allowed sometimes, right? My savior today was my dog, Oreo. A nice walk outside and a one-hour stretch of my crazy stiff muscles brought me back! I feel rejuvenated and ready to ride French Creek State Park with some gal pals tomorrow
The point? Don’t worry, be happy. Stop comparing….you are your own. Love yourself.
As it does every year, Christmas came and went with the blink of an eye. So much anticipation, so much prepping and then boom, it’s done. I must say that this Christmas break has been my favorite as it has been filled with watching Christmas movies, seeing friends, family and of course mountain biking.
Since the snow is here, I have mixed emotions; I love it and hate it. I love to ski but, holy cow have prices gone up and it’s just not worth it this year. So, my skis will hang for the season most likely. Anything more than a few inches makes it tough to ride my bike on trails without cursing at it along with the snow. Riding in snow makes me feel like I have no ability whatsoever. There isn’t enough snow to snowshoe so, what do I do to get some cardio?! Certainly not run on the road because, well, that just sucks, so, off to the woods I go!
I threw on my best Under Armour gear, my wool cap and laced up my Saucony Kinvara summer trail sneaks and headed out to Lackawanna State Park. Such a gem that is so close to us. I parked my PT Cruiser in the snow, sat for a few minutes, prepped my GPS, Pandora and honestly, sat and debated if I wanted to run or not. “Just go, you’ll warm up and like it. You would also like to go home and snuggle up on this cold afternoon too,” I thought.
I started running much faster than I should have, but anything to warm up in the 28 degree, raw weather. Within about 5 minutes, sweat was dripping from my cap, my hands were sweating and this turned into the best day ever. I have a lot of best day evers and it usually occurs in the woods. Suddenly, on the ground, tracks are spotted. A deer? A rabbit? Nope. A Mukluk! My run followed these fatbike tire tracks up and around the normal loop where I ran into, not literally, the Mukluker having his best day ever experience (shout out to Steve!). He couldn’t believe how great the bike rode in the snow and talked about how he wasn’t even struggling with the bike on the technical stuff. Off he went and on I went with my run and the next 10 minutes, I was wishing for a Mukluk to ride to get my fix.
All in all, my run was 3.5 miles at a decent pace in the snow. This was the run to get me going and starting to trail run again. Snowshoeing will happen as we get more snow, but a run in the woods clears my head, keeps my cardio up and works those muscles I fail to usewhile riding. With the snow having landed, people will stay inside, wish there was more to do…well, there is a lot to do. The get up and go part of it is the hardest, but when you get out, it could be the best day ever.
Well, it’s about that time of year when skiers are wishing for snow, riders are wishing for…well, it doesn’t really matter to us!! It’s really difficult when the cold weather hits and we need to remember how we dressed last year for cold weather riding. I have some temperature guidelines that I go by and they seem to hold true (50 and up, 40 to 50 and 40 and below). Every person is different with how their body reacts to the range in temperatures which makes it difficult to tell people what to wear. Of course, in cold weather, you don’t want to mess around and not have enough to keep you warm. Always think about the possibility of a mechanical that can take up to 15 minutes to fix or if it can’t get fixed, you’re walking out. Test what you’re going to wear on shorter rides and this way, when you want to go on a longer ride, you have a good idea of how to dress.
It’s a good idea to have a pair of lined pants with or without a chamois. I have 2 pair without a chamois because I use them for running also, and when I ride, I wear my normal riding shorts underneath (keeps my behind a bit warmer too). Castelli Cycling makes some great cold weather gear that really holds up. I have worn other products but the seams come out, holes wear in quicker and well, they just aren’t as great. Having a lined top is also a good idea to wear underneath a long sleeve jersey or underneath a winter riding jersey.
Hands, they will be cold at first, whether you have winter riding gloves on or not. Don’t let your chilly hands stop you from riding, the harder you work, the hotter they will get! Be careful about the way you layer gloves, if you do. Too much sweat will sit inside the glove and make your hands very cold if you have to stop on your ride at all. Usually, if it’s really cold out, 30 degrees and under, I will put my summer gloves on with my winter gloves over them. As soon as I start to feel my hands warm up, not sweat, I take the top gloves off and my hands are good to go for the rest of the ride.
FEET!! I rode for about 4 seasons with my summer riding shoes. I bought a pair of covers for the shoes which, helped me get through the ride but, they clumped up with snow, I had to fix them, it was flat-out annoying. I have a pair of Sidi winter riding boots and O.M.G. they are amazing! They are waterproof and keep my feet nice and warm. Since my feet do get chilly, I double up on my socks because my boots are about a 1/2 a size too big so, I have the extra room. Winter riding boots can be pricy but remember this, you only wear them about 3 months out of the year and if your feet are important to you, and you like to ride, they will pay for themselves because they will last a long time.
Keep your head warm, duh. I have seen people wear wool hats under their helmet, I have seen people wear liners in their helmet to keep warm too. I usually stick with my liner inside my helmet and I’ll put a very thin hat on when it’s frigid out. Again, this depends on how hot you get but remember, most of the heat in your body is lost through your head so, keep it under wraps.
I hope everyone has a great winter season of riding. Whether you are on dirt roads, the trails or even find time to get on pavement for a cold day road ride, STAY WARM!! There is nothing worse than freezing on a ride which takes away the fun of it…and remember, it’s all about fun and happiness. So, if you want to keep riding, go visit your local bike shop, support them and get some gear. Like I said, winter gear can last a long time. Take care of it and it’s only worn a few months out of the whole year so, treat yourself!
Ride on people!!! Brrrrrr….
Staying motivated can be a tricky thing but, I don’t need to tell you that. Motivation can come from different places, and believe me, I drag it out of anywhere I could. Every day I check Twitter a few times to see the posts that Rebecca Rusch, Selene Yeager, Katie Compton and other female pros to see what they are up to. By no means am I even comparable to these amazing athletes but, this is where I get my motivation from and thank you girls for being so awesome. I also get my motivation by seeing my race buddies keeping busy with cyclocross, and knowing that they are still racing and are not losing that edge that I feel like I am for not racing right now. Ugh, stinks living north sometimes.
I started at the gym this week and have created a strength training plan for myself. I searched on bicycling.com’s website for ideas and came across Selen Yeager’s workout videos she has done for them and they are specifically geared for cyclists. I watched them, wrote them down and put them into effect. After three days, the burn is there and the strength will only increase. The gym is a tough place to go, and I really do hate it. I don’t hate many things…..wait, yes I do…but, the gym is awful. The first night was filled with me worrying about who might have been watching me, what if I look stupid or does it look like I’m doing everything right?? Ahh!!! Almost quit……almost. Tonight was much different. I went in with a big not giving a sh*t attitude. This season is about my commitment to me becoming stronger and if I’m going to worry about silly stuff, it won’t happen. Tonight was great and I have found my new attitude towards going to the gym…just do what you have to do and screw everything else.
I will keep riding with buddies until the snow flies and then it will be skiing, snowshoeing and trail running. Let’s all continue to motivate each other since, well, we need it! Thank you to everyone who motivates me, friends, family and yes, the pros..even though they don’t know I exist. Hmmm, maybe someday they will….maybe someday I will be…………
Keep riding all.