I want to Ride my bike

Adventures in Tahoe and beyond

Archive for the tag “winter training”

Under the weather, Over the weather: A strange December in Tahoe

After winter training camp, I came down with a cold which seems to be circulating around Tahoe. The worst of it only lasted a couple of days, but the last little bit has been lingering.

I felt pretty motivated to get out and ride after the long weekend in Marin, but the temperatures here were less than inspiring for most of December. A lot of days, it was only really warm enough to ride outside from 12pm-2:30pm and while I do have a lot of flexibility with my work schedule, it didn’t always work out. I’ve finally figured out my magic temperature numbers for outdoor training in the winter: 37-42 degrees is ok only if it’s at the beginning or tail end of a ride. So if I’m expecting it to warm up after I get started or if I’m expecting the sun to start going down towards the end, then it’s bearable. Otherwise, I’m not riding outside when it’s that cold. 42-45 is mostly comfortable, but it’s important to keep moving. 45+ is warm enough that I will definitely choose riding outside over riding inside.

I’ve also made some huge leaps with my indoor riding. Instead of banishing myself to the dark and cold garage, I brought the trainer and rollers into the living room (semi-permanently) where it is much warmer and more inviting.

Everyone in this region has been lamenting the lack of snow. December was the 2nd driest month that we’ve had in years. This means that back country skiing has yet to takeoff this year since the only snow around, literally, is what the resorts have made. Many people have been hiking to the frozen lakes to ice skate since it has been cold. I have taken to doing short morning jaunts up the groomers just for variety and because I miss skinning. Just as everyone was adapting to the cold yet snow-less weather, it has warmed up substantially (upper 50’s-60 degrees). Yay for riding outside, but bad for melting the little snow we have. I’m sure that it will start to snow as soon as cycling season starts. Until then, the lift-served territory skiing, indoor, and outdoor training shuffle continues.


Winter Training Camp Part 2

Back in the bay area last weekend….Saturday was the most grueling day of riding. It was 37 degrees as I started out on my 1 minute commute to Peets dressed in my mismatched cold weather cycling apparel. Seriously, with my gaper-ific outfit, I might as well have been sporting a camelbak. I’m fundamentally opposed to buying fancy cycling specific clothing which always seems to be marked up about 10x because it’s for “cycling.” Normally, I can ride fast/well enough that my clothing choices get overlooked….

The good part about starting a ride when it’s 37 degrees is that it doesn’t feel so awful after downing a latte and taking off with a big group of people. It warmed up quickly as we cruised along. I dropped a water bottle as I bounced over a pothole on a descent and suddenly I was wishing I had that camelbak. I’ve never bonked while riding before (only while skiing) and I wasn’t about to on this ride so I focused on eating enough to fuel the scheduled 93 miles.

Ever since the Mt. Tam race was cancelled last season due to a fire, I had been itching to ride up it. I didn’t really think through how it would feel to ride up Tam after 55 miles on Friday and having already ridden almost 80 miles on Saturday until I was starting the climb and wondering why I felt so heavy. I have never felt so crappy about a hill climb. Ever. Even on my worst days, I’ve managed to eek my way uphill at a respectable pace spinning along in my smallest gear when necessary. But on this day, I was disappointed and angry that I couldn’t seem to move faster than 3 miles per hour (possible exaggeration- my computer wasn’t working). How was it possible that every single other person on the ride was able to go faster than I was up that hill? I was annoyed and hated being on my bike at that moment for the first and only time all weekend. After a few minutes, I pulled out a cliff bar, slid forward on my seat, and let go. I realized that the only person judging me was me. And really, that wasn’t going to help my get up the hill, I was already carrying enough extra weight! I decided to make the most of my ascent and to take plenty of time to look around and soak in the beautiful scenery. I think I got my money’s worth of humble pie. Before I knew it, the main climb was over and it was on to the rollers. The descent was fun and by the time it was over, I somehow completely forgot about wanting the ride to be over. I spun around town for another 7 miles until my Garmin said I’d ridden 100 miles. Yippee!

By the time Sunday rolled around, my legs remembered how to ride and I felt like I was starting to get back in the groove. I’m always amazed at how with cycling, you can destroy your legs one day yet feel okay the next. After I finished the ride on Sunday, I packed up and headed home feeling fulfilled and inspired. I still think Mill Valley is sort of strange, but I had a great time and will probably be back.

Winter Training Camp Part 1

Last Friday, I packed up my bike at 6am and headed west for a weekend of riding around Marin County. Well, first I started my car so that it would be a nice and toasty refuge from the 18 degree air temperature. Then, I realized I was almost out of gas. Oops. After a quick drive-way gas can fill up by the husband, I was on my way.

Why was I going to ride my bike all weekend? The simple reason is that I want to become a better cyclist and riding my bike (a lot) is the obvious way to do that. As a person and as an athlete, I think the deeper reason was that I wanted to challenge myself and push my comfort zone. I diligently started planning my couchsurfing setup a week before so I would be sure to have a place to stay. Couchsurfing (www.couchsurfing.org) is such a great resource and I hope it continues to exist with the increased popularity of sites like AirBnb. At this point, I’ve still hosted more than I’ve surfed, so I think my karma is ok in that respect.

I arrived in Mill Valley by mid-morning and instantly found that it felt a little strange. It was my first time there so I tried to take in as much as I could and not just blindly buy in to the stereotypes. The homes seemed unnaturally crowded together on the hillsides. I wondered if people actually shopped at the fancy stores downtown. I could see the appeal though, of living in a small place less than 15 miles from one of the best cities in the country.

The weekend’s rides were organized and plotted out by a guy who was motivated only by getting a bunch of people together out on their bikes. It sounded great to me. And although the rides totaled almost 230 miles in 3 days, the thought of not doing all of them never crossed my mind. Starting at the later meeting point (and doing fewer miles) never crossed my mind either. I was there to log time and miles.

I had never ridden around the area, so I was excited to be discovering new (and amazing) terrain. The first ride was slightly confusing since a few participants wanted to go a bit faster than most of us and didn’t pay attention to the plotted out course. Since I had no idea where I was, I just tried to stay with a couple of people who knew where they were going. This proved to be harder than expected on a few occasions. Zone 4 and 5 (going hard) were not part of my weekend plan. And being somewhat of a control freak, I was happy to be riding with men that are stronger than I am, but I wasn’t going to spend the weekend out of breath and shattered chasing them around because they couldn’t grasp the concept of long and slow rides. My backup plan was to finish the miles with the lady in my phone telling me where to turn if worse came to worse.

Fortunately, I didn’t need my backup plan. The rest of the weekend turned out to be fantastic. Every time I started to think it was a bit crazy that I drove 4 hours to stay with a complete stranger and to ride with strangers for 3 days, I got on my bike and I felt like I was right where I was supposed to be.

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