Feel the burn(out)

I’ve come to expect it every year. Though usually it creeps in when the leaves are falling and a chill begins to penetrate the morning air. During this time I reflect on a season of road riding and cyclocross, reminiscing about all the adventures packed into one summer. And then I promptly stay the hell away from my bike for at least a few weeks.

This month I haven’t even cracked a hundred miles and even on my 30th birthday I had to push myself to get on the bike because “that’s what I enjoy.” Cyclists cheered at winter’s departure way back in March and the odometer has been ticking off big numbers ever since. But that warm fuzzy feeling wears off over six months. Little niggling aches become full-blown pains and suddenly the legs are always heavy despite eating every superfood and foam rolling to the moon and back. People are still on summer vacation and I’m feeling blue. Bike riding is my emotional stability, my social connection and the way I shake all the thoughts and worries from my head so I can sleep at night. Despite still having cycling events I’m registered for and cyclocross, I just want to stop. What happens now? Continue reading

TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship

After watching local crits and obsessively tuning in to all the grand tours, I finally got to experience my first pro race today. We headed down to Philadelphia early this morning for the famed TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship and promptly sought out the Manayunk Wall, a sustained climb that hits 17 percent at one point. We were fortunate enough to have passes to Fuji’s VIP tent (unlimited beer, grilled meat and free schwag!) where we waited for the brutal ascent to start claiming its victims.

The men’s field was strong, but what I really enjoyed watching was the women. The group remained pretty much intact on the first run. But after four more circuits, things got ugly, with riders shed off the back. I loved watching the racers’ boundless determination as they struggled through the pain. In the end, Ina Teutenberg (Team Specialized-Lululemon) and Alexander Serebryakov (Team Type 1 Sanofi) took the win. Continue reading

The Strava Effect

“That’s him. I think it’s him!” my husband blurts out as a dude slumped over the aero bars of a brand new Specialized flashes a grin on a straight stretch of early morning road.

Nothing more has to be said. I’ve never met the guy, never ridden with him. But I know who he is. We both do. He is just a name and a tiny photo on a leader board, but he has also just bumped my husband to second place, stripping him of a precious KOM crown.

I remember a simpler time when hills were just hills and the only competition stemmed from the group of riders who hit the climbs with me. The first one to the top was the fastest, the KOM, the time to beat. Period. I often ascended long climbs alone, not knowing if I was fast or slow. I always felt slow and deemed a climb successful based purely on the fact that I had pedaled to the top without blowing up and stopping to rest.

I’m more of a recreational rider than a racer, but when I started uploading my Garmin to Strava, something ignited inside of me. That tiny voice that guiltily kept score of the times I beat my friends on a climb or launched a successful attack, now had a megaphone. Some people complain that Strava is too competitive and takes away from the true essence of what it means to ride a bike. For me, it’s just the opposite. Continue reading

Recipe: Carrot Cinnamon Muffins

A girl can only subsist on gels and bars for so long before she begins to yearn for some real food mid-ride. Some of my favorite bites include salted nuts and dried fruits like dates, apricots and cherries. But after a couple of hours in the saddle, I need something with real substance, but that is easy to eat and won’t weigh me down. Enter the muffin. And I’m not talking about the softball-size grease bombs common to bakeries and delis. With a few healthy modifications, muffins can morph into a backpocket superhero or a pre-ride pick-me-up. Stay tuned for more ride recipes. But first, one of my favorites, the carrot cinnamon muffin.  Continue reading

You may not want to sit down for this…

In recent groundbreaking medical news, the New York Times reported a shocking discovery: that female cyclists are also prone to sexual dysfunction issues from cycling. Thanks, scientists for finally pointing your microscope at women who ride something more aggressive than a comfort bike or beach cruiser.

To summarize, a 2006 Yale study found that when compared to runners (why are we always compared to runners!?), female cyclists had less genital sensation. In the latest study, researchers measured female cyclists’ sensations in the pelvic floor and collected feedback about any numbness or tingling as women pedaled their own bikes in the lab. They concluded that women with lower handlebars, especially those lower than the saddle, were putting excess pressure on the perineum (soft tissue), which decreases sensation in the pelvic floor. The article states that “This problem is particularly likely to occur when a rider leans forward, flattens her back and puts her hands on the ‘drop bars’ of a road or track bicycle for a more aerodynamic position.” Essentially, the scientists recommend that women either ride with handlebars above saddle height or buy a nose-less saddle.  Continue reading