Friday, February 27, 2009

Mini Blogs

I haven't updated my blog in eleven days
I don't have much to do
And I haven't had much to say

That's an excerpt from my new country song that I'm writing. Just kidding. I'm only good at parodying songs that other people have written.

I actually have several things to say, but they are all kind of short and sweet, so I've composed a series of mini posts.


I have a new coach.

I actually decided several months ago that I would probably choose Jason Hilimire of FasCat Coaching when I was ready to be coached again, because I was very impressed with everything that Sarah had written him. With the "who" question answered, it was then a question of when. Within the last month I've ditched my old job, it's gotten really close to daylight savings time, and I'm now friggin' rich. Okay, I'm not friggin' rich, but I got my first "new and improved" paycheck today and I have no complaints. So with all those factors in place, I'm really low on excuses not to get in shape again and a new coach was the last kick in the pants that I needed.

My official "plan" doesn't start until March 9th, because Adam and I are flying to Oklahoma next weekend for my grandma's 80th birthday party and I didn't want to start out with a three-day bikeless period in my first week. However, just knowing that "it's on" again has really helped get me going on my little after-work rides.

I've even been junk food free for five days now...


Along those lines, I am pondering idea of trying out a road race.

I've always been resistant to the idea of road racing, as riding around in a pack with strangers for two hours and then sprinting at the end seemed lame. Also, most of the road races around here throw all women of all abilities into one category, which is a little intimidating.

As for crits, they just seemed too dang dangerous. However, I volunteered at the Bloomington Criterium last summer and after watching the women's race, I was suddenly less intimidated. I decided that if the right crit/circuit race came along this year, I might give it a try.

Then I got an email about this race yesterday and I kind of latched on to the idea. Forty minutes on a 1.5 mile loop seems doable and they have a separate race for Cat. 4 women. I checked with my partner in bike-racing crime, Chrysa, and she said it was a good chance to try out her new road wheels, so I won't have to go it alone.


Finally, the North American Handmade Bicycle Show is in Indianapolis this weekend, and hopefully I will get to go check it out on Sunday. I love looking at the pictures from the show every year, so maybe this year I will be able to take some of my own.

This "Fairy Bike" from Rue Sports was one of my past favorites. However, I'm afraid that it's way too pretty to actually ride.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pretty Pink Gloves

This was my Valentine's Day present from Adam: pretty pink Defeet gloves to go with my pretty pink Defeet booties. He's had a pair of these for a couple of years and really likes them, but I haven't tried mine out yet since the temperature dropped back to normal February level a few days ago and I think they will be 45-60 degree gloves for me. Yeah, I know. "Normal" people probably don't need 60 degree gloves, but my fingers are the last body part to see daylight in the spring (okay, well, of the body parts that EVER see daylight).

Nothing too exciting riding-wise. I experimenting with hard-ish riding a bit now, with about a 10 minute threshold effort on Friday and a 30-40 minute tempo effort yesterday. These are by no means formal. I just figure it's time to move beyond just pedaling around, so I'll tell myself "ride this effort from here to here" on one of my standard loops.

Yesterday, I tried to keep my cadence a lot higher than normal during my tempo effort, since the other day I noticed that I can produce a lot more watts for the same rate of perceived exertion if I pedal faster rather than shifting to a harder gear. However, I'm not used to spinning and while it's easier on major cycling muscles, it's definitely made me tight/sore in a lot of the smaller muscles that don't get used as much at lower cadences. For some reason my back and shoulders are really sore today, and my already uncomfortable desk chair is exacerbating the problem.

I'm plan to ask for a chair upgrade eventually, but I haven't worked up the nerve yet. I wish I could have brought my chair from my old job. Old Chair + New Job would be perfect.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Riding, Not Hiding

Considering my lack of decent blog material lately, one would think that I would jump at the chance to write up a race report, if material were available for one. The opportunity came on Sunday when I participated in the latest edition Bloomington Underground Cyclocross Series. This is not something I normally do for various reasons, not limited to the fact that past attempts have left me feeling like I was infringing on Adam's "man-time" by tagging along and forcing him to babysit the slow chick. Also, I'm usually well over the urge to even look at my cyclocross bike by the time the official season ends.

However, I have definitely had a more than sufficient break this winter and since I'm pursuing the lofty goal of simply getting my butt back in the saddle on a most-of-the-time basis, circumstances aligned favorably for my participation in Sunday's "race". The circumstances were basically that Adam and I had made plans to go to brunch after the race and I figured I should hedge my bets by riding before the gorging, rather than delude myself into thinking I would do it after. I also concluded that things would work out best if Adam and I were on the same schedule for the morning and he was actually in favor of my tagging along, so I decided to 'cross it up.

Basically, the whole course was a combination of standing water and slop that made pedaling extremely hard, even in my easiest gear. On the warm-up lap, I chose a bad line and got so bogged down that my bike came to a complete stop and I had to put my foot down in a puddle to keep from falling over. Since I was the only girl there and was really just trying to get in token saddle time, I only went as hard as the terrain dictated, but that was still hard enough to leave my butt sore the last couple of days.

So why did it take me two days to post rare winter blog material? Because I've actually been able to ride outside five days in a row and I've been too tired to blog in the evening. Woo-hoo! Of course, three of those days were 45-50 minute sneak-it-in-before-dark weekday rides, but that's still doing pretty good for February. Tomorrow is supposed to be thunderstorms, but things are looking good for short after work rides on Thursday and Friday.

I'm trying not to be so overly optimistic as to think that it will be all smooth sailing up to the beginning of DST, but things are looking good for the time being. I will not, however, make the mistake that I made last year by swearing off indoor riding too early.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pretty Pink Booties

The weather has been warming up (at least temporarily) and the last couple of days have been in the 50's. Now the snow is finally melting, which is good, but it's flooding the streets in its departure. Yesterday was the first day of the year where I thought, "The days are getting longer, it's sunny, it's not too cold, and if I hurry home straight from work, I can sneak in an hour of outside riding before dark." That's always my favorite day of the year, although full-time outdoor riding on weekdays is still not guaranteed for another four weeks. At least it's a nice reminder that spring is (relatively) right around the corner.

Yesterday, I rode in knickers, long-sleeved wool base layer, long-sleeved jersey, mid-weight gloves, and wool socks. I was okay for the 50 minutes I was outside, but the temperature was dropping rapidly as it was nearing sunset. I've mentioned my cold hands and feet before, and it's been a little weird for me in the upper 40's, low 50's range, because while wool socks alone don't really cut it, I feel stupid wearing my heavy "Napoleon Dynamite" neoprene shoe covers when it's over 40. So today I purchased a pair of Defeet Slipstream booties to wear in the in-between temperatures.

They are pretty much like socks that you wear over your shoes, but the material keeps wind and rain out pretty well. They did the trick today, since the temperature was about the same as yesterday and my feet were perfect the whole time. The only bad thing is that the women's model adheres to the "pink it and shrink it" guideline perfectly, so guess what color was available in my size? As many of you may have noticed, I generally have no issue with pink cycling accessories, but for this particular product, the choice seemed a little impractical. The type of weather for which these booties were intended tends to come with a lot of muddy spray coming up off of the road, at least in the late winter and spring. So while they were very pretty when I started my ride, they were not so pretty when I was done. It's hard to tell how dirty they really were from the picture. I washed them afterward and they got clean-ish, but they were definitely not restored to mint condition.


The first week at my new job went well. The work is interesting, the pay is good, and I more or less have my own office and a semi-private bathroom. I guess the building is old dorm suites, because there is a full bathroom with a shower and everything between each pair of offices. It's nice having it so close, but there is a door on each side that must be locked before proceeding and unlocked when leaving, so I feel like my restroom habits are on display for the co-worker on the other side of the suite. The reason that I more-or-less have my own office is because there is a work-station set up for another team member who works at the Indianapolis campus most of the time, so we only share on the days she works in Bloomington. For the time being, that is only once a month. Having a whole room with four walls and a door all to myself most of the time is an extreme luxury after 2.5 years in cubicle land.

Monday, February 2, 2009

In Case You Were Wondering

Today was the first day at my new job and it went pretty well as far as first days go. That means that, like most jobs, I spent most of my first day watching other people do stuff and didn't really do much on my own. However, I think I get to do some stuff on my own tomorrow and every day it will get better until I'm working independently. After that, I think I will be very happy.

I'm happy now, too, but in a more over-stimulated mentally exhausting way. I'm still overwhelmed by the novelty of everything. I will soon be doing magical systems things that I heard about at my old job, but never really understood what they were. That's pretty cool.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

This was mine just a few short days ago. We got the biggest snow we've had in about three years this week, and it was even big enough to shut down the university on Wednesday. That was kind of nice, because it helped make my last week at my old job a little shorter. Even though I was happy to be leaving, I've been very anxious and irritable since I put in my notice.

Hopefully, the anxiety will fade when I officially start my new job tomorrow. I already got to see my office on Friday when I took my box of stuff over, but I was so distracted that I forgot to check out the view from my new window. It should be pretty good though, because I'm on the sixth floor and I'm on the side of the building that faces campus and downtown.

As for the snow, we've had a couple of sunny days and it got up to nearly 50 today, so the roads were fine and I got a much needed sunny day outside ride. Since those are so few and far between this time of year, I'm always amazed at how great it feels to ride in sunlight and not-too-cold weather. I just need to keep up that level of appreciation when April and May roll around.