Renew my faith

After spending the last week fishing out hats and gloves and stashing my carbon tubulars in the corner of the garage, it renews my faith to wake up to November sunshine and warm(ish) weather. Days like this are stolen indulgences. I eagerly swap out the boat anchor wheel BethRaphafallattached to the trainer even though I don’t need to hit max power or bring home a QOM. I just need to ride my damn bike before the changing of the seasons drives me mad.

As the sun hits my back like a giant solar panel, I don’t focus on my crappy fitness or that my quads are screaming on the smallest inclines. I don’t need to glance at the power numbers on my Garmin to declare it a “good ride.”

After a season that could have been, but wasn’t, I need these small wins to renew my faith. As I slip into the drops, my mind wanders to next season. This time of year is all about possibilities, dreaming of the top step, the breakaway that sticks. Thoughts swirl as we slip into our winter cocoons and then emerge, prepared to test our wings in the spring. What do I want to become? The pavement stretches out forever. So many roads lead back home.

Death or Glory: Racing the Giro del Cielo

My first road race was all about planning. This weekend’s stage race, the Giro del Cielo in Sussex County, NJ, was just the opposite. People had been recommending the Giro to me for months, but I was hesitant to commit and a nagging injury had seriously cut into my training time. So when the Wednesday before the race rolled around, my husband and I agreed that if we had good legs and could hang with our A-group ride that we’d give the Giro the green light. Needless to say, the group couldn’t shake us, so we hit up Bike Reg later that night.

The race consisted of an uphill time trial followed by a crit. Then Sunday was a circuit race. To me this felt more like the Giro de New Scary Things. When I started racing, I swore I would never race a notoriously crash-filled crit, so what the hell was I doing signing up for one? Continue reading

Lessons from the ground

“Wow, that was a close call,” I thought, my body slumped over the top of one of New Jersey’s bucolic stone bridges “I nearly crashed.” If my body didn’t land on the ground, I reasoned, then it wasn’t technically a crash. Fifty miles to go. Let’s do this. The adrenaline surged through my body as a friend pointed out that my knee was bleeding and my bike only had one operating brake. This could be a problem. And my shoulder’s a little stiff, but if I just fix this brake I can still get in my long ride for the week and be strong for my first road race (ever) in a month. This is just a minor setback.

IMG_1413But an hour later, I wasn’t training. I was sitting in the bike shop with one stiff knee and a shoulder that was slowly seizing up, staring at the chipped paint on my frame. But it could be worse and had I really crashed? I was always afraid of crashing during races, not group rides, especially not when I was flying downhill away from the pack. I hadn’t crashed. I just stopped myself from crashing by grabbing onto the bridge. Continue reading

Rider vs. Rain

Rule #9: If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.

I can still feel the thunder like a base drum as I nervously waded through the city streets, our group ride abruptly interrupted by a flash flood. During my first century, the sky opened up at mile 65, beating water on our backs, the ultimate test of our commitment. I placed in a Gran Fondo climbing competition on a cold, dreary day in the middle of Pennsylvania and I will forever think of Tour de France rider Bobby Julich when I throw on my black rain jacket. He sold it to me at a bike swap because the manufacturer cut it too short for the Schlecks.

What is it about the rain? Why does it have an almost mythical quality when we’re on our bikes? Sure, anyone can pedal effortlessly under the warmth of the sun, but it’s the dark, stormy days that test our cycling Continue reading

How to find the perfect women’s group ride

I love suffering in a pack of male riders. I’ve even been told that I “ride like I have balls.” But sometimes a girl yearns for a break from the boy’s club and some time with her own species. Maybe it’s the lack of ball-busting and talks/displays of bodily functions, but there’s just a different vibe in a group of women. Men might think we’re non-competitive, but some of the best women’s rides display all the friendly attacks and quad-busting efforts of a testosterone fest. While men’s rides are a dime a dozen, finding a good group of women to ride with can be a life-long search. Here are some tips to find your own group. Continue reading