The allure of gritty adventurous fun awaits those intrepid enough to eschew asphalt and pedal down roads less traveled. Less traveled by motor vehicles (to be specific) and, until recently, self-powered 2-wheeled steeds of freedom. Being relatively new to the fine art of gravel grinding I am learning something from every expedition and I would like to share some notes to gravel grinding newbies!
As most avid cyclists know: it can be difficult to find the necessary motivation to get out and push yourself when you are riding solo, especially when the weather isn’t playing nice. The group training ride served as a fantastic motivational forum for more experienced cyclists to stretch athletic abilities, gain strength and skills. Until quite recently, the group training ride was also a great experience for beginning cyclists to learn the ‘rules of the road’.
So, why is it that many group training rides have now evolved into some sort of awful etiquette-vacuum of mindless sprints, general chaos, and savage mayhem?
We might need to add structured training rides to the Endangered List.
Oh my 2016, you’ve been a stinker haven’t you?? Well, to be honest – lately it seems as if every year has it’s share of woes and accomplishments. We’ve seen more economic issues, social polarization sprung forth from politics (biking and politics don’t mix), good vs. greed in the Dakota’s … and crazier traffic than ever before. I’m even afraid to get on the busy streets in my car – much less on a bike!
Here’s some of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of 2016 – and a little bit of what’s to come.
Zone 3… What’s Zone 3??
I asked one day as I was riding with a friend of mine, who just happens to be a professional triathlete in training and certified coach. After being ruthlessly dropped like a wet bag of rotten tomatoes several weeks earlier on a weekend warriors ride I realized that I had forgotten about Zone 3 riding. It was glaringly apparent that, thanks to my normal riding routine, I wasn’t really spending any time in Zone 3 so I had a gap in my performance! Oops.
Perhaps I really didn’t know what Zone 3 is!
As I have gotten more candles on my birthday cake I have come to deeply value the balance between riding and resting. However, giving your body time to recuperate is not for those over 35, especially if you do high-intensity workouts. Training and riding hard will build endurance, however, ONLY if you also rest. You see: RESTING is when the body repairs and builds muscle: not in the middle of a workout. This concept took many, many years to finally sink in to my thick skull.
To the disappointment of many and the exhilaration of a few hard-riding fools – the debate about whether or not to go ‘off-season’ is continuously leaning towards consistent training verses an abandonment of strict discipline in favor of late mornings, leisurely base miles, and general enjoyment. It has historically been a time when a racer pulled out the old winter bike, enjoyed a comfortable coffee with mates, and generally didn’t focus much on a training regime.
The 2016 Olympics are now old news and the media headlines are all about Angelina and Brad’s impending divorce… if you care. Regardless of the media’s latest craze; there is one thing in particular that stuck with me from the Olympics and it might be helpful to those that would like to continue competitive sports long after their so-called ‘prime’. And that one thing was brought to light by one person: Kristin Armstrong.
Kristin Armstrong has inspired so many of us, not only as Americans, but as hard-working, athletic, competitive women who have real lives that include jobs and kids. The fact that she has won three Olympic gold medals – all of which have been obtained after she turned 30 – is revolutionary in the history of the Olympic Games. Kristin is a REAL person, with a REAL job, family, commitments, and struggles. She is someone we women can relate to, empathize with, and most importantly: she breaks the barriers that have held most of us back from serious competition later in life.
What is more awesome to an avid cyclist than taking a bike vacation??
You get to experience the freedom of the road and the scenery like never before. There’s nothing quite like it really. Bike vacations are amazing and I highly recommend them, even though there is a bit more logistics involved. Hauling a bike around, shipping your two-wheeled baby (or handing it over to the dubious care of airline cargo handlers), and possibly renting your steed can be a stress source. There’s the practical side of a bike vacation to consider … After all, you don’t want something to happen to your bike!
Oh boy, can I sweat in the summer! Not the delicate dew and occasional lady-like bead of sweat…. Nope. I’m a dripping soaked mess. My jersey weighs at least 8 lbs when I take it off. I can wring sweat out of my gloves after about 25 miles in 87+ degree heat. I’m constantly redirecting sweat out of my eyes and there’s a steady drip off of my chin. At least my feet don’t sweat, but it’s a good thing that I wear tall socks to prevent my feet from being soaked from the small stream that develops on my shins….
In short: it’s gross.
Regardless of your feelings about excessive sweatiness – there’s a plus side to it (especially if you live where it’s hot)! In my home state of Texas, in particular: it gets CRAZY hot. Silly hot. So hot you can fry eggs on the hood of your car. It’ll have you hunting for shelter at about 11:00 am and the sun feels like it’s drilling holes in your skin through your jersey. It’s the only time of year that I am praying for a breeze and the heat from the pavement almost melts the soles of your shoes. BUT, because I’m a Sweaty Betty – I stay relatively cool as long as I’m sweating.
That gross sweat is the key to survival in summer heat.
A mysterious thing happens after about a week and a half on vacation… you finally begin to truly relax! Since I was extremely fortunate to squeeze two whole weeks of bike vacation fun into a family road trip – it has afforded me some insights into traveling and touring with a bike, plus a few bits of wisdom about everyday life. Some are particularly important if you happen to be touring with someone else, as I did (with my hubby). A few can help you after you get back to the rat-race…