Do you race?

Battenkill-Rob Race  10 100 (172) It was 2011 and I was standing at the top of Meeting House Road, a camera in one hand, my stomach giddy with anticipation as the racers screamed down the dirt descent and hammered over the stiff climb.

“Are you racing, too?” A woman about my age asked, turning toward me. “You look like someone who races.” I wasn’t sure how to answer this. No, I wasn’t racing. Yes, I regularly rode with racers, but I wasn’t one…yet. I was a pro at bottle hand-ups, but that’s as close as I’d come to participating in a road race. But after watching my husband compete in Battenkill in 2011 and riding the route the following fall, I made a promise to myself that I’d be back and not as the water girl. Continue reading

The Heaven and Hell of Hunterdon

BethRobHOH

I could write a typical ride report, stating how perfect the weather was for a spring classic and complaining about how brutal a course the Hell of Hunterdon is, especially in March, but that wasn’t what yesterday was about for me. Cycling has the power to break you down and build you up and yesterday’s ride was a little of the former and bucket loads of the latter. I arrived shaky and nervous about riding in a group, especially with 18 sections of dirt and gravel. I didn’t know how my shoulder would hold up or if my legs could go for 79 miles and hit 5,700 feet after resting all of last week. I assumed I would cut the course early and use it as the week’s long ride in my training plan. 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 loyalty.shoes 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