Monday, January 28, 2013

Week #4

Okay, this one really is going to be short and boring. I successfully completed my fourth week of training as planned. No pictures were taken, as it was very cold all week and lobster gloves and photography don't mix.

I did finally get to do a Death March recon ride with my partner yesterday, which was pretty fun, although also pretty hard. Going boy pace for almost three hours is hard, even at easy, riding wheelies up hills and bunny-hopping road kill, boy pace. I mostly tried to keep the legs turning, mask my distress, and maintain gasping conversation. It was actually kind of awesome, because I usually just get intimidated/frustrated when I ride with faster people and give up.

Otherwise, navigation went smoothly except for one minor, "Is this a real road?" discussion that added maybe a half-mile while went a little to further to look for an alternative turnoff. That is a definite improvement over last week's 20-mile epic headwind detour. I finally feel like I'm getting somewhat competent in that area, which is good, as I'm preparing for all sort of scenarios while we await the official list of mandatory checkpoints and time bonuses.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Want It Wednesday: Surly Karate Monkey

Once again I am throwing a fickle want out to the universe for Want It Wednesday. And we all know that on Want It Wednesday, I always end up doing what I say I'm going to do. So all further ramblings should be regarded as a binding contract signed in blood.


I recently mentioned that I'd gotten the wild to idea to race the solo women's singlespeed division of the upcoming Tri-State 6 Hour Series. My reasoning for this? The old "because it's there" excuse. Excitement about the new series is high, but we won't really how big of a deal this thing will be until May. When I heard that a women's singlespeed class would be offered, I thought, "This is going to be someone's niche; why not mine?" I can't really think of any obvious choices for women's singlespeed domination in the Ohio Valley, so why not give it a shot? The big contenders will be duking it out for prize money in the geared class.  Unless OG singlespeed lady Nicole Borem decides to go back to her roots and kick everyone's ass, it may be worth a shot.

There's just one little problem: I don't have a singlespeed bike. Once I made the decision to focus on the 6 hours series instead of racing track this summer, I was kind of liking the idea of not buying another bike this spring. Regardless, the idea had burrowed its way into my brain, and thus I began my research. It really didn't take long, as Giant doesn't offer a singlespeed frame, and I wasn't enamored with the Cannondale model (the other major brand at my husband's shop) which wouldn't allow me to add a suspension fork if I were to choose to do so in the future. So after a casual mention of my plans, Adam and I independently came to the conclusion that if I am going to pursue this path on a budget, that the Surly Karate Monkey will be my steed of choice.

Just add pink.

We're going for low barrier to entry here: get me a bike that's ready to ride, ride it, and hope I do well at it. I could buy a suspension fork, but I probably won't. Getting used to riding 6 hours on a rigid singlespeed can't be that much of a step beyond getting used to riding 6 hours on a singlespeed, right?

The interesting thing is that while Adam was independently coming to this conclusion, he consulted his coworkers, who, from the secondhand account that I received, seemed quite supportive of the idea. Apparently one of them is getting me a t-shirt if I buy the bike? I think he may be the only one at his job that doesn't have a Karate Monkey, so this makes me wonder if this purchase will not only allow me to pursue my SS race plans but if it will also gain me entrance to some sort of secret club. A bike with secret club membership?  That sounds pretty cool.

I'm not 100% committed to this idea yet, but I'm coming around. We'll see if I actually follow through.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Week #3

Really? Only #3? I guess that's right, but it feels like so much longer. The boredom and anxiety have fallen away, and routine is setting in. I guess that's a good thing. Another week has been completed in a satisfactory manner, but not without a little adventure.

As you may have guessed from my weather-related whining, it has so far conspired to be crappy on any day that both my Death March partner and I are off of work. However, Saturday was supposed to be about 50 and sunny, so I pressed on, planning to do the real meat of the this year's planned route with my teammate Kristen as company. It should have been about 40 miles, cutting out the new stuff that I already hit the week before and big chunk of old stuff that I know pretty well already. Unfortunately, shortly after entering unknown territory, I realized that the cue sheet had fallen out of my jersey pocket on our food break. I thought I had the route memorized, but I was wrong. We ended up in a place where we definitely did not want to be, and ended up having to ride 20-something miles down a annoyingly rolling paved road into a relentless 20-something mile per hour headwind to get back to the cars. Double bummer in that the ride back was horrible, and I lost week's worth of route research. I can now clearly see where I messed up, but I still need to do that ride again next weekend to make sure that I can complete the whole thing flawlessly from memory alone.

The other part that worries me a bit is how trashed I felt from that ride. It ended up being somewhere in the low 50's mileage-wise, although I don't have a computer on my 'cross bike. The wind was a killer, but the route was only about 25% gravel at best, but I felt worse than I did after the Gravel Grovel, which was 62 miles of 95% gravel. I was pretty much catatonic for the rest of the evening once I got home, showered, and shoved food in my mouth. I had kind of hoped to turn this long weekend (MLK Day off work) into a mini training camp, but just getting through my regular planned 1.5 hour ride and evening weight session yesterday was enough. With the high temperature being 21 today, I not only decided to forego the second long ride for the weekend that I had originally considered, but I actually decided to take the day off entirely. I probably could have done another 60-90 minutes today, but I kind of wondered if there was any point to it. It's probably better to recover and hope the weather gods look more kindly on attempt to redo the route next weekend.

Anyway, with my free time today, I'm catching up on my TV and reading, and I've also been cultivating this little project: Everyone liked the Grumpy Cat I made after Saturday's ride, as well as the Scott Bond as Ned Stark from a couple of months ago, so much that I thought I might try making Death March memes as entertainment until the race. We'll see how well my creativity holds out.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

And Also: DO NOT WANT Wednesday

I forgot to mention my unfortunate discovery that I made when I went to order my new winter collar yesterday.  After years of hoping and wondering what kind of wonderful thing that Rapha would come up with when they finally released a women's summer bib short, I got my answer, and it's a big, fat FAIL.  Apparently, they too think that boobs are some kind of super complicated alien appendages that require elaborate vests, weird mono straps, etc. to tame.  Oh well, I guess I can spend $260 on something else now.

Want It Wednesday: Rapha Winter Collar

I said that I might have to start participating in Want It Wednesday again to bump up content over the winter. Even though I have now decided to go ahead and assault your sensibilities with weekly "I trained" posts, I figure I might as well still throw some wants out to the universe. (Not counting: I want winter to be over. I want to race again. I want to be able to ride gravel roads really fast and not embarrass my teammates. I want Sunday to actually be the nicer weather day of a weekend for once.)  

In the area of purchasable cycling accessories, I decided to buy myself a little present to take the sting out of all of those other non-purchasable wants. As I got ready for my 20-something degree Monday ride, I decided that a neck gaiter was in order. I pulled on the one that I have, which is this weird Pearl Izumi convertible hat/neck gaiter thing that I don't really like, headed out the door, and decided that it was time for an upgrade. So yesterday I ordered myself something more pink, pretty, and merino wooly: the Rapha Winter Collar. It hasn't arrived yet, but it should be here in time for the weekend when the temperature drops from 49 on Saturday to 29 on Sunday. Hopefully it will take some of the sting out of both the 29-degree temperature and the knowledge that I still have to get through a few more weeks of this before spring.

Pink things and whining: they always help.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Week #2

Okay, you're going to have to indulge me.  I've decided that a weekly check-in with the boring details of my boring 10-week preparation period before the 2013 racing season begins will actually help me keep my motivation up.  I suppose this was originally intended to be training blog, anyway, until I realized that was lame. (The name would imply such, although it was secretly supposed to chronicle my rise to fame and glory, which never really happened.)  So I don't suppose it will hurt if it reverts to such for a few weeks.

Yes, I am still having to employ tricks to keep my motivation up, although it is working, as I finished another week with all rides and weight sessions completed as planned.  The problem was that I really wanted to start doing Death March recognizance this weekend, but I didn't want to go alone. The forecast had Saturday with mid-60 degree temperatures, but Sunday as rapidly dropping temperatures and pouring rain.  There a few Wheel-people doing a gravel ride from Story on Saturday, but it started too early for me to do my important farmers' market business dealings and still get there on time.  Otherwise, I was pretty much like Bob Roll in a Road ID commercial trying to find company for a Saturday recon ride, and it kind of bummed me out.  However, I told myself to HTFU, and scouted out all of the new checkpoints west of 446 on my own.  That makes a few less things to worry about for race day.

Cemetery self-portraits are a critical part of training. See, I still have to figure out how to get one without foggy glasses.

I guess I should mention that this year I will be entering the co-ed division with my teammate Erik as my partner.  He proved his mettle as my long-suffering travel companion (okay, I hope it was more fun than suffering) for the ICX series this season, so I figured if I were going to once again "drag another person into my mess", he would be my first choice.  Additionally, last year I noticed that the Death March had one of the highest percentages of female participants of any competitive cycling event that I knew of.  A lot of that came from the co-ed division, which seemed a little weird to me, as if women were only willing to enter a cycling competition with a male escort, or perhaps dudes were dragging unwilling wives or girlfriends into the fray.  I wanted to be all girl-power and enter the women's division, although I've since seen the error in my ways.  I'm not sure how I expected how to handle the possibility of wet bridges and loose skewers all on my own (or, as it turned out, a partner's snapped derailleur), but this year I will no longer be traveling as an accompanied female.  I'm sure that will guarantee smooth sailing to the finish line, and hopefully a podium spot behind Scott and Janelle.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Week #1

Okay, week 1 of 10 in my 2013 pre-season training is complete, and I'm not *quite* so restless as I was last week.  There's not a lot to say so far, except that all rides and weight sessions have been completed as planned, and I guess I just wanted to document that for self-congratulatory purposes. So please forgive me one boring, picture-less post meant for my own motivation.

I guess the highlight of the week was that I did travel to Indianapolis on Sunday for the first-ever Speedway Wheel(wo)men team ride.  Regardless of the time of year, it's pretty hard to find a weekend when none of us are racing, so we pretty much had to go on a frigid January day almost immediately after New Year's.  Janelle, Sarah, Kristen, Kristine, and I braved the cold, wind, and a few ice patches for a couple of hours around the city, which was interesting compared to the hilly rural roads that I'm used to. However, it was a lot of fun, and it was good to get to spend some time with my teammates.  (This is where I should have gotten pictures, but lobster gloves and photography don't go well together.)

As far a my New Year's resolutions go, I guess I'm doing okay so far, as I got in the team ride yesterday, and today I'm having lunch with an old co-worker that I haven't hung out with in a couple of years.  I'm not doing so well on the cultivating interests outside of cycling part, but maybe that's a little much to expect in one week.  I went so far as to browse for ideas, but frankly, I'm not that interested becoming a web developer, libertarian (at least not a serious activist one), polyamorist, or pagan.  I'm going to have to keep working on that one.

Well, that's about it.  I guess I'm going have to get back on the Want It Wednesday train again to bulk up content until racing season starts again.  I have been kicking around the idea of racing the women's singlespeed division of the Tri-State 6 Hour Series for the last couple of weeks since I heard that there would be one offered.  Of course, doing so would require the purchase of a singlespeed bike, which is definitely Want It Wednesday fodder, but I'm not quite sure I'm ready to go there yet.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Winter Has Come

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.

- Thomas Paine

The view from my office window

Yes, on the third day of my 2013 pre-season, I'm already Googling the phrase "These are the times that try men's souls."  Not that it's really been that hard so far; I'm just restless, I guess.  After the holiday season, I'm so ready to get back into a normal routine again, but I've also been hit with the reality of that routine for the next couple of months will be, well, not as fun as cyclocross season.  My next race is 9.5 weeks away, and while I know how important it is to take time away from racing to actually train, everyone knows I like racing a heck of a lot more than preparing to race.  However, if I learned anything from the recently concluded 'cross season, it is that intense racing seasons only work if you do the necessary work before the season starts.  I'm just flinching a bit when it comes to steeling my resolve.

So far my 2013 training has been one bike ride and one initial evaluation session with Greg Simmons of Simmons Performance Training.  I've chitchatted with him quite a bit while doing my weight sessions at the Iron Pit Gym over over the last couple of years, and he seemed like a legitimately knowledgeable trainer for general athletic purposes. I've seen his logo on the Scholar's Inn Bakehouse team jerseys, and know he's worked with some local cyclists, although I'm not sure who, but I actually chose him for his knowledge of athletic pursuits outside of cycling.  "Train me like a power athlete, not like a cyclist," were my instructions on Monday, as that is what brought me success in 2011. Unfortunately, 2012 mostly brought a lot of back and glute injuries (I really think I was just too physically tense most of the time from job crap), so that I why I'm seeking in-person professional guidance this year.  Hopefully, it will work out well.

So chilly base miles and gym sessions are what I have to look forward to for January and February.  Per my New Year's resolutions, I'm already trying to recruit companions and plan distractions as much as possible.  So far all I've cooked up is a tentative Speedway Wheel(wo)men team ride in Indianapolis on Sunday, but it's a start.

Anyway, I guess while I'm steeling my resolve I might as well publish my planned 2013 schedule for inspiration:

March & April 2013: "The Tour of Pain"
March 9: Sub-9 Death March
March 24:  Barry-Roubaix
April 4-7: Speedway Wheelmen Training Camp
April 27:  Big Frog 65

"The Tour of Pain" is the name I cooked up when my teammate Janelle expressed concern for her own sanity in planning these four events in a two-month period.  I suppose insanity loves company, so since I was already anxiously awaiting the Sub-9 Death March and training camp, then entered the Big Frog 65 on a whim, I figured I might as well round out the quartet and enter Barry-Roubaix, as well.  I, will not, however be pursuing the American Ultracross Championship Series like some other members of the team are thinking of doing.  No gravel after March for me, at least not without significant chunks of singletrack in between.

May-August 2013:  Mountain Bike Season?
May 18:  DINO Winona Lake
May 25:  Tri-State 6 Hour Series: England-Idlewild
June 3: DINO Brown County
June 16: DINO French Lick
June 22:  Tri-State 6 Hour Series: Versailles
June 30:  DINO Muscatatuck STXC
July 1:  DINO Muscatatuck XC
July 14:  Tri-State 6 Hour Series: East Fork State Park
July 22:  DINO Versailles
July 28:  Tri-State 6 Hour Series: Hueston Woods State Park
August 12:  DINO Logansport
August 26:  Southwestway Park

I guess after a couple of years of denial, I'm going to be a mountain biker again.  I can't really see how I'm going to squeeze any crits into that schedule.  After all, I still have a cross season that I'll have to get ready for.