From mid-September to March I am living in knee warmers. My tan lines will prove this as it is pretty far into the summer before the lines around my mid calves start disappearing. Here is my ode to knee warmers…
From mid-September to March I am living in knee warmers. My tan lines will prove this as it is pretty far into the summer before the lines around my mid calves start disappearing. Here is my ode to knee warmers…
Back in 2004 I picked up mountain biking seriously. A friend and I would go 3-4 times a week, crushing the souls of boys on our pink (matching) single speeds. We rocked, we rolled and that year I grew more as a cyclist than any 12 month period in adulthood.
The other unique thing about these rides were our dogs.
Fiona – my Australian Shepard mutt. Kona – Taryn’s squirrel chasing yellow lab.
They kept us entertained in the woods, they gave us (or maybe just me) a feeling of safety. Fiona often would night ride with me when I was alone. Her blinky on her collar and loud barks if she got far off trail are a memory that makes warm and fuzzies in my heart when I think of night riding.
I bought a house, my trail riding was snuck in after work or before. Fiona no longer went to work with me everyday but instead was at home, in a yard and bored out of her mind.
Fiona and I are back on our own. She will be going on dealer visits, road trips and I’ll be sneaking her in to hotels late at night. More importantly, Fiona is back on the trail. This past Thursday I took my cyclocross bike out on a mellow trail in Wilkesboro, NC called Overmountain Victory Trail. The trail is part of the Kerr Scott Trail network. Super mellow, but still a mountain bike feel to it. Perfect for my ‘cross bike and perfect for Fiona’s first day back on the trail. Some how I managed to sneak the 45 minute ride in between a 2 hour car trip and a handful of dealer visits/clinics.
Fiona did perfect. I feared that after 4.5 years of being off the trail (and surrounded by crazy dogs/boys) she would forget her commands. She didn’t. She trailed to my right, near my rear derailleur. When the trail got fast she would drop in behind, when the trail got technical she would run ahead and wait. Encouraging me with her wagging tail and cocked head. “hurry up mom, this is easy!”
We didn’t go far, at one time during the winter months she would be able to knock out 15 or so trail miles. This wasn’t the day for that, this was a mellow 3.5 miles. Stopping often for her to play in the water, to celebrate.
Do you ride with your pup? Not all trails is this legal or safe (for rider and dog) but proper timing and research can lead to a happy dog and rider!
Mountain bikes vs. real world
In my previous post, I wrote rather sentimentally about my love of mountain biking as a way to check out from real life, if only for a short time. Unfortunately for us, mountain bike rides end. At some point, we all have to rejoin reality.
Part of my reality is working in a 9-to-5 office at a company that loves its business casual dress code. I love my job and, to be honest, I kind of love business casual clothes (pencil skirts! patent leather heels!), so that part of real life is pretty awesome. What I don’t like about returning to reality is that evidence of my out-of-work activities is usually conspicuously apparent (e.g. a 4-inch, blue bruise on the outside of my otherwise professional shins framed beautifully on top by the hem of a skirt and below by the aforementioned heels). When my co-workers and superiors notice the new marks on my body, my mountain bike and professional worlds collide. Despite being fiercely proud of what I do and how I spend my time, these moments always make me a little self-conscious, like an awkward pre-teen who’s the only non-adult at Take Your Daughter to Work Day.
Let me give you guys a real-life example:
I recently returned from a shred-cation (My friends and I created several names for our 4-day, Oregon mtn biking tour of awesomeness–”shred-cation”, “shred-venture”, and “shred camp”. I’m sure you can pick out the theme there.) and returned to work the next day wearing one of my favorite skirts. My outfit revealed some small bruises, a couple minor cuts on my arms, and one patch of peeling skin near my elbow. At some point in the day, I was catching up with a co-worker and at the same time applying some antibacterial ointment to the cuts and scrapes. I apologized for doing this while we were chatting, although I’m not sure he had even noticed. This leads him to ask why I had bruises and cuts. (He’s a new employee. The rest of the office is very familiar with my recreational activities.) When I explained my choice of vacation and the consequences of coming around a washed-out, sandy turn in the high Oregon desert too quickly, his response was something between apologies and disgust. It was an uncomfortable and awkward reaction…”I’m so sorry for you”, “Why do you do that?”, “Ugh”, and so on…. Mountain biking was obviously an activity that he had never tried or considered.
I quickly felt like I had to defend myself and my choices, not because I was doing anything wrong, but because of this other person’s complete lack of understanding or comprehension. I felt like I was trying to explain my choice of feminine hygiene products to a teenage boy, rather than my choice of leisure time activities to an adult co-worker. I don’t think my co-worker meant anything by his reaction. I think the idea was just new to him and he was trying to understand it. That didn’t make me feel any less embarrassed in the moment though.
These situations are not uncommon in my work life and I certainly don’t mind being “the cyclist” for my co-workers. It’s just that when my mountain bike world and my work world rub against each other, it creates a really uncomfortable friction. I don’t want to have to explain what I do in my free time. I dread these moments. Having to justify how I spend my time and the resulting consequences (bruises and cuts) takes away from my enjoyment of riding. It steals a little bit of that awesome post-ride glow. It also unfairly makes me feel a little less professional, like I’m not as suited to be in the office as my co-workers. While I know it’s not their intent to make me feel that way, the result is the same.
My co-workers don’t have to explain why they choose to tailgate at college football games every Saturday in the fall or go to the gym a couple times a week. Why do I need to explain and justify what I do for fun? Whatever the answer, this battle between my mountain biking and professional worlds makes the return to reality after a great weekend of riding just a little more disheartening.
As with any sport it can be very daunting and overwhelming when you walk into a completely foreign arena. Questions, fears, hesitance, embarrassment, and so many emotions are rushing through you that by the time you even get on a bike you are stressed out.
Here is a list of things I wish I had known, and I wish more women knew, when they first walk into a bike shop or get into the sport. Over the next few weeks I’ll explain more in depth so they become clickable links.
This list could be 100 points long. What are the things you know now that you tell beginner cyclist?
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. – Helen Keller
After last weeks race I can tell you I didn’t do everything right. I didn’t get back on the horse and I didn’t do recovery rides. My legs and thoughts are paying for it.
Yesterday’s 2 hour endurance mountain bike ride at my local trail was a total mind game. Dabbing on sections I haven’t dabbed on. Legs feeling like lead. Brain occupied on how the bike wasn’t responding right, that my rear end felt loose. I hadn’t ridden this trail with the installed tires for a couple months, but that doesn’t give reason for what was loose in my head.
All things reasonable I did hit the ground pretty f’n hard last week. Knocking the sense out of me and keeping me off my bike for 5 days. My will was weak and I shoulda, coulda, woulda gotten on the bike sooner.
My soul knows this a momentary setback. In a week or so my coach will have my legs spinning around properly. With the right about of trail riding my confidence will be back as well. For now I’ll go for a 2.5 hour road ride, returning home to take apart my Spearfish, check over everything from the crash (shoulda done this before my ride yesterday) and hope that nothing is broken.
Confidence on a bike can take years to build. Feeling safe crossing bridges, logs, and going down steeps. It takes only one good hit to knock it out of you and make you feel human.
Today I am feeling fortunate to feel human. Allowing myself to put my realities in check and find the next thing to work on. We aren’t perfect and being able to find our flaws is part of having confidence too.
A popular question after cycling shorts and saddle recommendations is normally about chamois cream. If you haven’t heard about it before, don’t feel too left out it basically is under carriage lube.
Wait what? Yes, a cream you put between you and the shorts.
I go through spurts of not using chamois cream because I forget it or forget to buy new. Depending on my shorts, saddle and bike fit sometimes it is fine. Below you’ll find a list of reasons I recommend it!
This is tough, at the end I recommend to try different types and to figure out what ingredients you like. I’ve never had any rash or allergic reaction to any of the ones I recommend.
This is the original to me. I remember being 16 and the only other cycling girl I knew recommending it. It because ritual and the smell still reminds me of long rides. It has a cooling sensation which is also nice.
One of the first to make a “female specific” cream. I’ve used it, and can say I can’t tell a difference..it doesn’t seem to have such a cooling sensation and smells less medicated. I have also used the standard “guys” version which works just as well for me.
This is probably the most popular kind you’ll find in any bike shop. The standard version doesn’t cool as much, and I have been using the Eurostyle for the past few months. One nice thing about this type is they sell tubes of “sample” sizes to bike shops. I like these for folks trying out chamois butt’r for the first time, or for long rides to keep in your pocket!
I’ve heard so many ways to do this, either put it on your short before you put it on, or slather it all over yourself. I’ve tried putting it on the chamois and hated it. It made it feel like I was putting on a damp diaper.
What do you like? What have you used? Chime in below!
Pam Sayler wrote this guest post earlier this year. Somehow it was categorized incorrectly in my email and I found it during holiday break. I believe this is a great post to start thinking about plans for 2012. Coaches, and if you need one is a common questions as people start pushing themselves in the sport.
While pushing the Kirby this weekend my mind drifted to the subject of coaching. Why would the average rider hire a cycling coach? What advantage would a coach have to one whose cycling ambition is less than the current world champion?
I paused vacuuming long enough to check in on my son who was practicing piano.
Jacob is in his second year of lessons and progressing nicely. But like many 9 year olds he looses focus and spends about ½ of his time just playing. While I try to take a back seat and not micro manage him I do find it necessary to step in and make sure he is completing the work of understating music theory, structure and technique. By ensuring he spends time on developmental drills I am assured that my investment has a positive
return and Jacob has a broad awareness of music, stronger hand to eye coordination and simply plays better. Even if he does not have the desire to become a concert pianist Jacob’s father and I see music as a door to many future opportunities and will give him a well rounded view of life.
It took me vacuuming the remainder of the family room and down the hallway to connect those dots. Just as I stand behind Jacob seeing he stays on task a cycling coach will help me ride more efficiently – prevent injury and cycle longer. Not just that one day, but cycle longer in life.
In turning to a coach you are entrusting someone to look over your shoulder. Not to compete against, but to draw along side of you and guide you. Coaching is that special mix of relationship and expertise. One needs to trust their coach. A technical and certifiable background is necessary but equally important is the human factor; how well you interface. Before signing on with a coach, ask yourself the following:
Why do you want a coach? – specifically, what are you looking for?
What is your budget?
What is that person’s experience and education?
How much interaction do you want? Individual, group, online?
During the interview process look for someone who asks these questions and has good answers for your questions. Determine how long it will take to reach your goals and make sure your to contract for a brief period first – a longer contract can be drawn up after you are confident this coach is the right one for you.
And finally, remember that no matter how good a coach you hire, and how lofty your ambition nothing will happen if you don’t set aside time and stick to the plan. The investment in yourself will only pay off if you apply time and effort. Otherwise you are just throwing away money. And if you have money to throw away, please let me know. I’ve got a few years of piano left to fund.
As we head into Thanksgiving most folks that have the cyclist mentality start thinking about the next season. Even those that are deep in the trenches of cyclocross racing are thinking about what they need to be doing for the next season. As the next 6 months of my life are going to be rather haphazard I want to lay out broad strokes of goals and targets for 2012.
Goals for 2012 – As basic as it sounds. No matter if it is race dates, milage hopes, or milestones you want to meet. It is helpful to layout something.
Our guest article today is from, Kimberly Mueller, MS, RD, CSSD, the founder and owner of Fuel Factor Nutrition, is a Registered Dietitian, Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, and competitive athlete who provides custom meal planning, nutrition coaching, and event-nutrition guidance to athletes worldwide. More information on Fuel Factor services can be found at www.Fuel-Factor.com. Kim can be reached at kim@Fuel-Factor.com .
Whether you are professional cyclist pushing some serious wattage to win a race or a cycle-newbie excited to explore the countryside, implementation of a sound nutrition plan will be a huge determining factor in how your body will respond to the century challenge. Fueling peak cycling performance involves a trio of steps including: 1) tapered training and carbohydrate loading the 2 weeks leading up to the ride, 2) eating a meal the morning of the ride, and 3) consuming foods and fluids during the ride itself. Here’s a nutritional countdown to help your century preparation:
Many athletes actually dread the taper leading up to a big event, such as a century ride, but from a nutritional standpoint, when you complete your peak training volume about 2 weeks out from race day, muscle glycogen (carbohydrate) stores are about 30% lower than capacity, not an ideal place to be at for peak performance. Therefore, a two-week taper is appropriate before a century ride as means to allow your muscles to nutritionally reload.
In the first week of your taper, training volume should be reduced by 40% with the cutback being reflected on all your normal weekly rides. On race week, not only will training volume be reduced by another 40% but carbohydrate concentration in your diet should increase approximately 25% representing about 80% of your total caloric intake. However, while increases in carbohydrate are necessary, this is not an invite to blindly pile on the pasta till your pant button explodes. Calorie intake needs to match output so if you find yourself gaining more than 2% of your pre-load weight, you are consuming too much. Most athletes require ~15 calories per pound of body mass to support basic metabolic needs and tapered daily activities.
While you may be eager to explore the pre-race scene, it is important that you maintain a ‘taper focus’, keeping your activity and time on foot to a minimal the day prior to a century. Make sure to stay hydrated, sipping on fluids until your urine maintains a pale yellow appearance. Continue your carbohydrate-focus but keep your diet low residue, meaning fiber content should be reduced a bit in favor of ‘easier-to-digest’ options (e.g., banana instead of an apple; white pasta over whole wheat pasta). In addition, fat and protein at your evening meal should be kept minimal as these nutrients take longer to clear the gut and can cause nausea on race morning, especially if the meal is eaten after 6pm. Make sure to stick with familiar foods, saving the more exotic local cuisine for post-ride.
While a training taper and coordinated increase in carbohydrate intake is proven to prime your muscles for peak cycling performance, a carbohydrate-focused meal on ride morning will help restock your depleted liver glycogen stores, ultimately giving you that mental boost to perform at peak during the initial stages of the century ride. Our liver has the capacity to store approximately 100 grams (400 calories) of carbohydrate making this the target for consumption in the 2 hours leading up to race start. Much like your carbo-loading regimen, limit dietary fiber intake and instead use up to 25 grams of protein (e.g., egg, yogurt, soy milk) to help stabilize energy levels. Small amounts of fat (up to 20 grams), like that found in a couple tablespoons of peanut butter, can provide additional satiation value. Finally, aim at drinking ½-1 liter of fluid or enough that your urine runs pale yellow in the hours leading up to event start. For those vulnerable to cramping or premature muscle fatigue, consuming up to a gram of salt as part of your pre-ride fuel, whether found naturally in your food or added like that in a sports drink, has been shown to help mute the onset by a good 20% during endurance events such as a century ride.
All the nutritional work during your taper and carbo-loading regimen and pre-ride meal is not enough to carry you through a century ride making ‘meals on wheels’ essential for protection against the mental ‘bonk’ and muscle wrenching ‘wall’. Because both pedaling and digestion of food require oxygen nourishment, it is impossible to replace 100% of cycling output, which falls at 500-1000 calories/hour for most endurance cyclists, but, while a 30-40% replacement rate is optimal for most, the goal is to test that limit as means to mute the fatigue seen with depleted glycogen stores.
Note that with increases wattage, effort, and/or heart rate, there will be increases in calorie output yet the ability to absorb nutrients will decrease making the onset of muscle fatigue more probable. Therefore, cyclists who are racing a century should focus primarily on easier-to-absorb liquid carbohydrates (e.g, sport drink, gels with water), utilizing multiple carbohydrate sources (e.g., maltodextrin + 1-2 simple sugars) to help improve rate of uptake and accommodate their higher calorie outputs. All cyclists should avoid piling on the calories at sag stations as this will only divert blood/oxygen/water to the belly increasing the likelihood of cramping and/or nausea post-feeding. Ultimately, experimentation with different products during training is key to help create a plan that will work best for you on event day.
Want help creating an ultimate cycling nutrition plan? Kimberly Mueller, MS, RD, CSSD founder and owner of Fuel Factor Nutrition, is a Registered Dietitian, Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, and competitive athlete who provides custom meal planning, nutrition coaching, and event-nutrition guidance to athletes worldwide. More information on Fuel Factor services can be found at www.Fuel-Factor.com. Kim can be reached at kim@Fuel-Factor.com .
When I am riding locally in Charlotte NC I have roughly 4 trails I visit, either due to distance from my house, work or time restraints. One of my favorite trails,that is also one of the closer ones to my house, recently had a trail addition that opened earlier this fall.
Lake Norman State Park which is about 25 minutes north of center city Charlotte is a great trail for all levels. 20 or so miles can now be found wrapping around the lake. Well maintained with a decent amount of length it will give you a reason to make the drive. The words I would use to describe the whole circuit of trails is flowing, moderate, and scenic. The Tarheel Trailblazers have done a great job building and keeping up with the trails, the State Park Rangers keep an eye on the trail, encourage use but also make sure it isn’t abused when the weather is foul.
The recently finished addition, the Laurel loop added 8 miles to the other two loops that have been staples at Lake Norman. The loop is a bit more technical, adding fun switchbacks, little kicker climbs, man built log rollers and will give you a work out no matter your experience. Those in shape will hit the trail harder, those looking to step up their game the trail is completely rideable, you may need to walk a couple hills but there is not shame in it!
The trail reminds me of a tamed Warrior Creek in Wilkesboro. Not as much elevation change, not as many berms, but fun. 20 miles of mountain biking, with 10 more planned will make this a destination spot. I’m lucky to live relatively close to the trail (10 minute drive)!
Built with passion and love, please don't steal anything