Monday, October 19, 2009

Seconds from Disaster

Well, my 200k in September was so unexpectedly hard that it has taken me 3 weeks to even write about it. The same day Graeme was going through the VT50 I went to Melbourne FL to do a 200k. It should have been fine but somehow so many little things added up to a 125 mile day of suffering starting at mile 20.

We started on Wickham Parkway in Melbourne on a route that looked like a bow tie and mainly went North South . . . with a good breeze from the west. We had a tail wind for the first 1.25 miles and then turned south. It was a noticeable cross wind for the three of us starting out. Then there was the 20 miles of A1A- uggghhh. Now I know why everyone down there fights about it- bicyclists against motorists. Anyway, it was getting pretty warm by mile 28 and we stopped at a convenience store. It was a longer stop than I cared for but both the guys I was with seemed chatty. Oh well, 20 minute stop. At mile 50 we had checkpoint 3 with a headwind in between. Another 20 minutes plus of a stop waiting for one guy who was suffering. Turned out he dropped off and headed for the start shortly after we took off.

We faced a long, straight, hot road with no shade and nothing for 13 miles after that stop- at midday, humidity and heat that made it feel like 105 degrees. At one point I said to my riding buddy "well we are halfway done!". If we had been lesser individuals with less desire to reach our goals I think both of us would have called a cab right there.

From there the rest of the day is a blur of wind, heat, and pain. On the way to the northern turnaround it rained a little. Even with the respite from the heat and sun, we were hard pressed to ride above 16 mph.

If you have ever seen the show Seconds from Disaster that was the story of that day. There is almost never one single thing that contributes to some catastrophe, but a series of events that aligns to create a disaster. This was not a disaster as the two of us finished, but it was one of the absolute hardest rides I have ever done.

The night before I had to run errands and when I got home I was busy. I realized that it was 9:30pm and I had not eaten. I thought "Oh well, I will eat in the morning". I didn't eat before the drive out there, ate a souffle from Panera Bread right before leaving, and could not have planned to mess up my nutrition any better.

I also could not sleep the night before. I got a couple of hours but when I woke at 1:30am I never really went back to sleep. I had been caring for a very sick little puppy and I was worried about her. Mental Fatigue and stress. As evidenced by the fact that my period was late and chose that day to start. Sigh.

As the 9th of my 200k's en route to my R-12 I thought I had it all down and could just roll out of bed and knock out a long ride. Yeah, maybe a little more prep time and effort, especially mental would have been better.

Another lesson learned about taking thing for granted. The weather has gotten cooler here in Florida so hopefully the next one will really be a beautiful ride. I expect I will be able to write about that one right away instead of having to wait for the experience to fade a little before reliving it!

Monday, August 24, 2009

134 miles in Florida in August

Only mad dogs and Englishmen and a small band of randonneurs were out on Saturday. The group chose the longest available permanent route to do in the hottest month in Florida! We started at 6 am with lights on for a short time until the sun came up. We did fairly well up to the lunch stop with a nice convenience store with a Subway. I was happy it was before 11 am and I got a breakfast sandwich. Yum.

It was getting pretty hot and humid with limited shade for a couple of hours after lunch. We got a reprieve because it rained- mixed blessing. It got overcast and a lot cooler but I do dislike riding for several hours with wet feet. I guess that just made taking my socks off at the finish that much better. I felt really strong on the way back. I tried Anti Fatigue caps from Hammer again and they seemed to help.

We got back right at 4:30pm and I treated myself again to a nice tall gelati at the Italian Ice shop down the street. I had a steak thawed in the fridge for dinner but couldn't work up either the appetite or energy to cook Saturday night. Steak and eggs for Sunday brunch sure hit the spot! Funny how everything turns to thoughts of food after a big ride, especially one where I felt good.

I have been doing more core work- I do love the variety that Graeme has to offer, never get bored with the same workout. I am just starting to think ahead to Sebring next February and think about a plan for that 24 hour race. I think I am laying the foundation work right now and once it starts to cool off down here I can really start making some progress. Let you know about the 200k in September!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Florida in July

Well, last weekend I got another 200k done- 5 more to go. This time there was a group of 10 doing the permanent route and it was great. I had riding companions and it made the day go much faster. Not in terms of total time out on the road- I had a faster average speed but more time off the bike- but the company was great.

The only thing was that there was no relief from the heat. By 2 pm I am sure the feels like temp was way over 100. So, the last 2 hours were tough to get through. I did and had a huge gelati as my reward when it was over. Yippee, I can see that R-12 award now!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ride Faster, Faster!

Just a quick update. I have been riding the latest 200k's by myself so in the heat here in Florida I have been spending about 8.5 hours on the bike, usually with an hour off the bike. I have been training my body to ride long but slow. To meet some of my longer term goals, I need to get faster. Last weekend I went out for a group ride with a faster group on the hills (we do have some small ones west of Orlando :-). It was foggy in the morning and the good news was that it seemed to really help climbing when I could not see the hills. I hung in until a couple of miles from the store stop and then dropped off again a couple of miles away from the place where they met.

It was tough but exactly what I need to do right now. The older advice to ride faster was to ride with a faster group. I do like the way that Graeme Street goes about it, I just did his Spin class #8 off the bike upper body work and on bike over-under intervals. Whew. I chose this specifically because I have to travel the next couple of days for work, so plenty of recovery!

I will do another 200k this month, maybe start really early or maybe start in the evening and do a night ride. I am on the downhill side of the R-12 and we will get to the nice part of the year after the heat breaks. Earlier this year, when I re-evaluated my goals and decided to do the R-12, I thought it was going to be fairly easy. I mean in comparison to a 400 or 600k this was an easy day. Well, it has been a little more difficult than I thought, mainly from the motivation side. Now, after halfway I am finding more positive thoughts and look forward to ticking them off. Of course, it is TDF time, so everyone wants to ride anyway. Vive le Tour!

Monday, June 29, 2009

halfway to R-12

Saturday I left at 6am for another 200k solo. Heat, humidity, wind, rain. Had it all and kept about my same 200k times and I am now halfway to the R-12. Too much invested, I can't stop now!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Getting Yours

OK, long time no posting. There has been just a little going on- I have moved into a new place and am going through major financial stuff. But I still have a job and there are lots of new beginnings and I am grateful.

I had targeted doing the Bike Across Florida ride on May 3- 170 miles. I felt that my training was spot on. The ride was to be on the Sunday before moving on Tuesday. The previous weekend I felt a cold coming on and finally by Friday before the ride I gave in that I was not going to make the ride as I stayed home from work with a fever.

I have been watching American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. (No judgements please and I am glad to have a DVR so I can just watch the performances and skip everything else). Anyway, on both shows I thought the unexpected person won. Adam Lambert- the guy I expected to win on Idol did not win. I thought everyone else was competing for second place. The same thing on Dancing with the Stars- of the two finalists, Gilles and Shawn- I thought Gilles would get it hands down. Instead it brought to mind one of the things that James Arthur Ray teaches- everyone gets what they need. I really think Adam did not need to win Idol, he is going to be a superstar. Kris Allen, the winner is not as charismatic as Adam, but now he is forever going to have the title of winner of American Idol which may turn out to be a bigger boost to him than it would have been for Adam. On Dancing with the Stars, Gilles has found a passion for dancing and says it will be a part of his life from now on. Shawn Johnson is only just graduating from high school and although she has an Olympic gold medal she is still very young and has been somewhat isolated in gymnastics. She says that she grew on the show and learned how to work as a team, not just compete for herself. I believe that winning that show will do wonders for her self confidence and this accomplishment may even be life changing for her.

So, did I get what I needed by getting sick and not doing the ride? I had more time to focus on packing and moving. I learned that the training plan I put together for myself worked. I have spent time with my two dogs to adjust to a new place and develop a solid and rewarding relationship. I will knock out another 200k next weekend to keep my R-12 going. I also have the beginnings of a really cool bike room. I took what would have been the master bedroom (the larger one of the two bedrooms) and have my weight machine, treadmill, trainer, workbench, and other fitness stuff almost set up. Tools and organization is making progress too. So, like my mother always said- when you don’t get that thing you really wanted, something else even better is going to come along.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

124 miles and 24 mph winds!

OK, so we do not have hills to speak of in Florida, but we do have wind. My buddies and I left from Melbourne last Saturday morning on another 200k adventure. We criss-crossed the Intercoastal with 3 overpasses (that is another term for a Florida hill :-)) generally heading north east beyond Cape Canaveral. It is a pretty ride, we saw lots of gators, masses of different birds, etc. This route does have some of my least favorite roads- long and flat with no turns, but companionship always helps.

We battled headwinds almost the whole way up as it was a strong east northeast wind. I can speak for myself that I was tired at mile 66 when we stopped for a lunch break. The trip back was much faster, and even faster still when we all noticed the rain clouds chasing us from behind. It was a fun gallop down the beautiful road next to the water. We did much better on time off the bike, this one only had about an hour and 40 minutes of down time, comparable to many of my other 200k's. Another pseudo epic ride down, a few more to come before the May 3 Cross Florida 170 mile ride.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

fires and butts

Wow, time flies. I did not realize how long it had been since I posted but we are having financial difficulties etc so this had slipped off the hot list. Sorry. I did not just a 200k but a 223k ride on the very last day of February to keep my R-12 streak at 2 months. Our next one is coming up quickly, next weekend in fact!

The ride was good, though a little longer than I thought and was prepared for. We had our 3 ladies and a bonus of an experienced randonneur Matt. It was just a little cool at the start but good weather. We had a kicking tailwind all the way north and thought it was going to be a long slog home. Someone was smiling on us though and even with a bit of a cross wind for a little while, we had an almost tailwind for some of the ride back. The ride did go longer than I thought and had (not) prepared for, but it was a good ride and everyone finished in good shape. It was an epic ride as ever as we had to stop and phone in a fire to 911. We were going past someone's house and all their furniture in the pool was on fire.

I have high hopes that the Brooks has solved some of my butt issues as I finished feeling pretty darned good. The saddle squeaks when I hit bumps and I have developed a real love for that sound. Every squeak of the saddle means that my @$$ is NOT the one taking the bump!

We have been spending a lot of free time with our Ladies training program. We now have a new crop of road riders and hopefully new friends to play with. It is just the best time of year now that the time has changed and we are able to get our weekly evening rides going again. All of this is helping towards the goal of the Cross Florida ride May 3. I will endeavor to be a little more consistent with updates coming up. Till after the 200k!

Friday, February 13, 2009


Best laid plans. My crash a couple of weeks ago has kind of taken the wind out of my sails. I was feeling pretty good about my fitness, but since then it has been cold and I have not ridden much. I can finally sleep on my left side, so as a side sleeper I am really grateful to have half of my sleeping territory back. Actually I think the crash was just a method to give me the time to sit back and reevaluate my year. I have financial and time pressure with other things in my life right now, so I have had to cut back on events etc.

I had a conflict with both 300k brevets offered in my area in February and also finally decided that I would have to skip the ride at Sebring because I really could not afford it right now. So, in looking around for another goal, one that would be inexpensive but still a challenge, I have decided to go for my R-12 award from RUSA. In English, that is an award for riding at least a qualified 200k ride for 12 consecutive months, from Randonneurs USA. Check out if you are interested.

This will be a challenge in and of itself, if only because of the time involved. At least one weekend day a month, I will have to ride a total time of about 8 to 9 hours. Brevets count total time, not riding time. You have 13.5 hours to finish a 200k, which is very doable unless you have mechanicals etc. The key is not stopping! I was pleased that on my 200k in January the Brooks saddle I have been trying to break in was pretty comfortable. I will not yet know what it will be like on longer rides, but it seems like an improvement.

I have lots of my Dad’s old equipment, and because of the prepared fellow that he was, he also bought spares. I inherited two brand new, never used Brooks saddles. I think they are standard B-17’s and those seem to be saddle of choice for more than 50% of the long distance riders I saw in Paris. I have one on my brevet bike and one on my commuter bike. I have no idea if it is just time and distance that are different but the one on my brevet bike is feeling really good, while the commuter bike is still hard and I am grateful I only have a 45 minute commute each way. Maybe one day I will swap them, or maybe I will just leave well enough alone!

OK, so enough rambling. I am going to do my February 200k on the very last day of this month, and have invited some buddies along to share in the fun. I hope lots of them show up, always more fun with others. I will keep you posted about training and plans in case anyone wants to join me. Boy, for that one in August I think I am going to have to get one early start! Till then, keep the rubber side down!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ups and Downs

Well, I had some ups and downs this week- literally. I did my last Computrainer class and improved my wattage from 184 the first week to 204 at week 6. It is nice to be getting back in shape. It was pretty cold here in Orlando last week, we had a couple of nights of hard frost. So, somehow I found that enough reason not to ride to work. I know- we are spoiled.

I went for a ride Sunday and it was a great day, warm, beautiful. Just one other riding companion and we took a nice route north of town. About 40 miles into the ride I was pulling and stood up to go up a slight rise. As my left foot came down the pedal came off my bike and I was on the ground in a hurry. My hip and shoulder took most of the impact and I was grateful I had on sleeves on my jersey after seeing what was left of the cloth. My helmet did a perfect job, and I would hate to see my head if I had not had one on. I have a good lump above my eye, but a new helmet is a small price to pay for having an intact noggin.

It was kind of a freak thing for the pedal to come off. I have not had the pedals off that bike for a very long time so I am not sure what happened, except that they loosened up over time. I am sure I am going to figure out the lessons to learn from this, I would hope that if I needed some time off I could have found a different way ;-) I am still grateful though that it was not worse, that the bike is fine, and I will be back on the saddle again soon. Everyone keep the rubber side down!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

you must listen to your body- it speaks volumes

My 200k last weekend was awesome, a beautiful warm day, a reunion with riding buddies, help from friends, just an excellent ride. We went up the coast for 66 miles with a great tailwind. The turn around made it a little harder but I was with a terrific group that made it a quick fun trip. Just so we had a story, a bridge was locked so traffic was backed up as we were to go back to Jupiter Island and we had a detour but got back with time and safely.

I didn't ride on Sunday, but commuted to work on Monday and had a nice blow the legs out ride. I felt pretty good but still took an inventory of little aches and soreness. I had a sore spot that came up from my right ankle up the side of my shin. I really need to replace my cleats! I also noticed that the instep of my right foot was itching again.

I had that problem for almost a year and could not figure it out. I tried athlete's foot products, but it was an internal problem, there was no rash or anything on the sole of my foot. I asked doctors, massage therapists, everyone about it and got no answers. I finally went to a chiropractor when I was in CT who said- "oh, of course, that makes perfect sense. You have problems with your pelvis being twisted and tight hips, that goes right down the sciatic nerve and it ends right there in your foot". So- who knew? I worked with him and a massage therapist and it went away.

Now I take it as an indicator. Kind of like I get a very specific back ache when I am running a fever. It may be a very low grade fever, but if I have the back ache, I know even without taking my temperature. So, I made sure to work on stretching out my low back and hips this week and the itch in my foot went away in a day or so.

I think it is so easy to not listen to your body, to ignore little things, hope they go away, or mask them with a pain killer or sleep medication or something. However, if you are really tuned in to what is going on you can address things before they develop into something worse. Listening- such a useful skill to develop whether it is with your spouse, child, boss, body, or conscience. It is all within you, just tune in to it!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

lunch stops, perfection, and gratitude

Over New Years I was able to ride 45 miles New Years day, 40 miles on Saturday by myself, and 85 miles on Sunday- which was perfection in every way.

We had a group of 6 start 5 miles from my house so I rode to the start for an 8 am push off. It was one of the days that make me want to fall to my knees with gratitude for living in Florida this time of year. I had just arm and knee warmers to the start (because it was in the low 60's after all ;-)) and those came off by the lunch stop when it was getting into the upper 70's. There was little wind and we rode double paceline for almost the entire day. We explored new roads, got that extra special bonus of getting to a gate across the road and just went around it to rejoin the new roads we were exploring. It was a minor diversion and we got to go through when cars can't. I love that.

We got to Yalaha Bakery and stopped for a real lunch stop- mine included a breakfast sandwich and a chocolate eclair (one of the very best items there) and a goody to take home for my partner. It was delicious and then we continued on around the lake to Mt. Dora where there was a quick stop for coffee and ice cream and then back home. Just absolutely perfect- a group that was well matched in speed, was willing to go on an adventure, and not so wrapped up in the get-there-itis that they were unwilling to stop and enjoy a sit down meal. I of course was so tired when we got back to the meeting point that I wished I had a car there. I did not however, so I trundled my way home for 5 more miles and then took a nap!

Due to tired legs and upcoming plans, I did NOT ride to work on Monday. Those were the original plans but after the weekend, discretion became the better part of valor. I had my Computrainer class on Tuesday evening, only a couple more left, and the first brevet of the season is next Saturday. So, jumping from 85 to 124 miles- that is in the training plan right? It is all good, I am looking forward to the 200k, if only to see how the Brooks leather saddle I have been riding treats me over the day. Fingers crossed for North winds as we will do an out and back up the east coast of FL. Would be a headwind going out but tons of fun coming back! Will keep you posted.