Post-Sandy spin in NJ

One of my most memorable rides last year occurred the day after Hurricane Irene hit the Hudson Valley. There’s no better way to experience the heart of an area than by bicycle and to take in all the tiny details in the landscape. Plus after spending time without heat and power and fighting half the county just to charge my cell phone and get a cup of coffee, I was more than ready to stretch my legs and see how our local roads fared. Since gas is a precious commodity right now, I decided to hop on my bike, heading north through Hunterdon County.
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Back to basics

It turns out the cure for my burnout wasn’t to take a vacation or to challenge myself with another sport.  I just needed to get my ass kicked. I’d been sitting around for two weeks resting a sore calf and hamstring and feeling dreadfully slow and sorry for myself. My season’s over, I reasoned, and I didn’t even want to imagine the pain Gran Fondo NJ would bring in two short weeks.  It’s funny how you spend months on the trainer and the road plugging away day after day. Then a low period strikes and it’s hard to resist the urge to pull the plug on the entire season. Continue reading

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

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

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