It seems like I just dusted off my cycling shoes from the last race of 2016. These days, time seems to fly by faster than Peter Sagan’s sprint. That same speedy sprint that I wish I had at least 50% of. That crazy fast sprint that will get me back in the game – it’s race season! Wait, already?
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!
Do I think that there is elitism in road cycling? Sure, you’ve got all types of personalities in my favorite two-wheeled sport. However, I don’t believe that just because you are a Cat 1 or 2 you are a snob. Some of the nicest people I know will also just as kindly rip my legs off in a training ride. However, now that summer is coming to a close, road season is done, and the cycling vacations have been posted on Facebook – I’ve noticed that there IS a distinct difference between a Cat 3 or 4 vacation and one featuring our local Pros. Here’s a bit about why that difference is necessary for a Pro or semi-pro cyclist…
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!
After almost 3 weeks of being either in a campsite with limited (or absent) services or being on the road in the middle of proverbial nowhere and experiencing almost no connectivity to the world at large; I’ve had a few self-discoveries, revelations, and words of wisdom to those that are considering road-trip/camping to the far reaches of this Great Country.
Dawn. That ethereal state of awakening when the earth is bathed in a bluish-green glow which sneaks through the curtains to land on my sleepy eyes. That time just before day-break when the roosters begin to echo their calls through the countryside and the birds chip curiously as if they, like me, aren’t quite sure if they want to be awake yet. It’s this time of morning when I have a stern conversation with myself…