Training plans are great, but sometimes you just have to throw them out the window. I’ve been putting in longer miles for The Catskill Century in August. I decided to trade duration for intensity last weekend and headed out for a group ride chock full of stiff climbs.

It was hot as we rolled out early. Right off the bat, there were two mechanics spaced apart in the first hour. It was stop and start and my legs began to stiffen up. As the temperature soared, I could also feel a new saddle sore forming under my ill-fitting saddle. I was shifting around on the saddle, unable to find a comfortable spot. I climbed with stiff legs that kept whispering to me, “hey, let’s pedal home, I’m tired.” For once, I should have listened. Continue reading

How slow can you go?

Like most cyclists, I have trouble sitting still. So when recovery days roll around (or force their way in), I tend to panic at the idea of lounging around. There’s nothing worse than waking up to a day filled with sunshine and cooler air and then remembering that I’m supposed to spend it taking it easy so my body can grow stronger.

So I decided to try an active recovery ride. When I’ve attempted them on the trainer in the past, my impatience always got the better of me and before long, my speed crept up until I was happily working away in the aerobic zone, doing the opposite of recovering. Continue reading

Against the elements

Maybe I should have taken a cue from the Tour of California today and examined the sky a little closer before embarking on a long ride. What’s a little rain, anyway? At first, it was merely a refreshing mist, keeping me cool as I whizzed along. An hour in and my chamois was expanding like a tiny foam dinosaur in water. My back marked by a jagged mud splash lightening bolt, I soldiered on. SUVs splashed by. Drivers shot strange looks, as though I was wandering along the shoulder in an orange jumpsuit.

The sloshing kicked in at mile 10 as I felt the side-effects of my extremely well-ventilated shoes. It was like pedaling through a fish tank. I shared the day with ducks and snapping turtles, unfazed by the driving rain. Continue reading

Rest. Ride. Repeat.

I love the phrase, “Have you got rocks in your head?” especially when muttered by feisty grandmothers. I’m generally a cautious (and often painfully slow) decision-maker, but when it comes to cycling, my otherwise clear head is often full of boulders.

Take last week for instance. After circuit training and adding new plyometrics into the mix on Tuesday, I decided to hit up a new group ride the next day. My calves were still aching a bit, but hey, I wouldn’t be using them much, right? The answer to this question became painfully clear by mile 30 when I decided to grab the wheel of a blazing fast pace line. A few rotations, and boom, I was on the front, pulling like hell to maintain the train’s blistering speed. Gritting my teeth, I felt proud to be pulling a group of strong men along, until I peeled off the front and the pace ratcheted up again. Suddenly the adrenaline high wore off, and I realized that my calves were on fire. Continue reading

Information Overload

The minute my front wheel rolled onto the steep climb, my mind began spewing out a slew of tips and tricks like a broken slot machine. First, assess the hill and divide it into segments. Start off slightly slower, allowing other riders to attack the hill and hopefully blow up before the top. Visualize a rope pulling you upward. Stay seated and spin if you can to conserve energy. Stand occasionally to engage other muscles. Try counting pedal strokes as you climb to reduce the pain. Open your suitcase of courage. Dance on the pedals!   Continue reading