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

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

How to plan your off-season cycling training

The time to plan for your 2012 cycling season is now. Yes, you heard me right. If you want to experience fitness gains, enter a race or just hang with your local group ride in the spring, you must start that conditioning over the winter. That doesn’t mean you can’t take a break or enjoy some cross-training this winter. After a busy season, some time off or just riding for fun provides the perfect mental break. But then it’s time to get to work.  Continue reading

How to survive your first group ride

My first group road ride went something like this. I showed up and nervously smiled at a few of the other cyclists. When the ride began, I placed myself dead last, felt my heart rate shoot up from anxiety and was promptly dropped the minute the pace escalated. As I fought off the urge to cry, a few kind riders waited for me. I apologized profusely and the next day, returned to the solitude of riding alone.

Fast forward a couple of years and now I’m keeping pace with the fast guys for 50 miles, chasing down breaks (or making them) and even participating in friendly sprints.

So, what happened? Continue reading

How to look cool on a bike (even if you don’t have a clue)

We were all total cycling newbies once. Before we started counting grams and shelling out $200 for bib shorts, we were wide-eyed—and clueless—enthusiasts.

After pedaling for thousands of miles (and weighing every component on my full-carbon bike), I’ve noticed a few repeat offenses in the road biking world. Want to look cool on your next ride? Read on. Continue reading