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

Women on bikes: Why we matter

After years of watching men conquer mountains on TV, I finally had the chance to witness a women’s race for the first time last June in Philly. Sure the men were racing at the same time (or there wouldn’t have been a race), but there was something about the grit and emotion everyone could feel as the women battled up the course’s famous Manayunk Wall. The male spectators surrounding me were captivated as well. Every time the women’s peloton passed, we yelled and cheered until our voices were raspy.

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Since I first began cycling I always compared my body and my performance to men because I had nothing better to go on, but as I watched these women, I suddenly felt at home. They weren’t rail-thin like most of their male counterparts and I could feel their suffering in my own legs as they charged over the monstrous climb. This has been a tough year for cycling, as so many were dumbstruck by the sudden fall of their heroes. I never yearned to be like them, nor could I ever relate to those guys in the least. This is why women’s racing is so necessary and we all need to hear of cycling’s success stories in order to help launch our own. Continue reading

Four ways to become a stronger, faster cyclist

After 18 weeks of preparation, it all came down to 3 hours and 46 minutes. That’s the time it took me to find the finish line after 65 grueling miles at the Tour of the Battenkill. I was elated and exhausted by the end. Sure I was ecstatic over my performance, but I was also extremely proud of (and a bit surprised by) the athlete I had become over those four months. I knew when I signed up that I wasn’t going to half-ass it until April. I tend to do things in a big way and this was no different. I planned to carefully follow my training plan and to use my diet and recovery tactics to see just how great I could become. It turns out these strategies paid off big time. Continue reading

Tour of the Battenkill (surviving my first race)

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Since I signed up for the Tour of the Battenkill months ago, people have been giving me strange looks. “Wow, that’s a tough first race,” one seasoned rider observed. “You’ve never raced before and you’re doing Battenkill?” questioned another. Sure it’s billed as the largest and toughest single-day race in North America, but since I did the preview ride two years ago (granted, it had 1,000 less feet of climbing) and watched my husband race it in 2011, the race has been on my mind. I found that the more people questioned me, the harder I trained. So when Saturday finally rolled around, I felt prepared and eager to enter as a recreational rider and emerge as a racer. Continue reading