Tuesday, December 29, 2009
We've been spending a bunch of time going through all the stuff in our basement that just got shoved in there when we bought our house a year ago. We dropped off a car load of stuff at Good Will today, and the garbage we put out Sunday night made it look like we were just moving in. I have a vision of an organized, spacious basement, and it's wonderful!
We also worked out at the gym today - weight lifting followed by cardio. It was a fun workout time together. We both felt so good after.
It's been a very productive week. Isn't it funny how much more enjoyable being productive is when you don't actually have to do anything?
Saturday, December 26, 2009
He did say, though, that I shouldn't be watching my tiny little college dorm room TV. I should be watching the BIG one! Maybe he'll help me heft that monster up on the table so I can do just that.
On a side note, I'm going to have to start thinking about a triathlon training plan pretty soon. I'd like to start training by the end of January. Sixteen weeks should be more than enough. I keep trying to sign up for the Ann Arbor Tri, but the registration website is not fully functional yet. I'll keep my eye on it, though!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Here's what came inside the box (the chopping block was sold separately, but the good people at Kozy's Cyclery were smart and just shipped it right in the trainer box).
I had planned on taking step-by-step photos of the setup process, but it was honestly so simple that before I new it, the thing was done!
Essentially, all I had to do was trade out my rear quick release skewer for the one that came with the trainer. Then I closed the brackets around the quick release and locked the unit in place.
Next I adjusted the resistance drum so that it contacted the rear wheel and finally set the front wheel on the chopping block to level the bike out.
It was that easy!
Then for my own personal enjoyment, I switched my computer sensor from the front wheel to the rear, so I could watch my speed and distance during workouts. I also set up a small TV and DVD player in front of the bike so I can watch movies or workout videos. I need some kind of distraction without scenery to keep me on my toes.
And finally, I was ready to give the Giant Cyclotron Auto II a try! I rode about 10 miles and shifted through various gears to feel it out. The first thing I noticed wat how stable I felt. The bike did not move under me at all. I will feel very comfortable working hard on this machine without worrying about falling over, sliding around or hurting my bike.
Secondly, I noticed that the resistance adjusted to the gear that I rode in. A higher gear produced greater resistance and vice versa. Before trying it, I wondered if the higher gears would just feel really easy, but they do not! The resistance is strong, and I was working up a sweat almost immediately. It was also quite nice not to have to worry about adjusting the resistance settings part way through a workout. The "auto" aspect of this trainer is highly convenient.
Finally, as other online reviews have said, this trainer is pretty quiet. I set it up in the basement, and I'm sure someone upstairs wouldn't be able to hear it. I also had no trouble hearing my tiny little TV speaker.
So after my first ride, I'm very happy with this trainer. Setup was incredibly easy and took me about 10 minutes. Riding is comfortable, quiet, stable and challenging. I'd highly recommend this model to others. And at the sale price of $200 (regular $250), I think I've gotten a great value for my money.
I love having the option to ride my own bike indoors now and to not have to go out to the gym when the weather is particularly bad. More review to come as I put this trainer to use!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
After some research, I decided to go with one of the trainers that Bicycling Magazine reviewed - the Giant Cyclotron Auto II. It auto-adjusts resistence and hopefully will not have any issues fitting with my Giant bike. Wouldn't it be ironic if it did?
Plus, I found it on sale at a bike shop called Kozy's Cyclery in Chicago. Hopefully, I'll see that wonderful package sitting on my front porch before the New Year. Maybe even by Christmas! When I've had a chance to try the trainer out, I'll do a little review.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Yah, bikes for kids!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
So, the hubby went to a friend's house last night to play WarHammer, and I took the opportunity to go to the dreaded gym. I rode 6 miles on the exercise bike, stretched, ran 3 miles on the treadmill and stretched some more. It was a good hour of cardio during which I watched some news and most of an episode of "House." The stories in that episode keep lingering in my memory today for some reason. I also saw a commerical for the next season of American Idol, which apparently starts soon. Ellen Degeneres is going to be a new judge. I may have to add that to my list of guilty-gym-TV-watching pleasures this year.
I also got to try out my new pair of running shoes, which my mom bought for me this weekend during our birthday/Christmas shopping outing. After the second mile, I started to feel a few places rubbing uncomforably. I'll have to give them a few more miles of testing and then decide whether to take them back and try a different pair. If I'm going to be training for races next summer, I want some shoes that fit right. Blusters and lost toenails are a cool badge of accomplishment and all, but I've been there done that. I don't need a repeat performance.
After my great workout, I went home and snacked on strawberry cobbler and roast beef (strange combination but that's what sounded good). I probably ate all the calories that I'd just burned off all over again. Oh well. Welcome to gym season!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
When the hubby and I travelled to St. Louis a couple months ago, I bought a copy of Runners World in the airport. It gave me the same sense of concentrated fitness reading joy as Bicycling, so I decided to subscribe. I've received issues for two months now, and it's got me thinking about things that I normally think are crazy. Like running a marathon. I did a half marathon a few years ago, and I thought that was enough. But now there's this new athletic accomplishment that I'm starting to think I can and want to do. On top of the new athletic accomplishments that I've already decided to make a goal of doing. What the heck?! What's wrong with me? ;)
So my dilemma is that I have too many new things that I want to try next summer. I just can't fit them all in. I've been trying to narrow down the list of events that I want to do, because I know I can't fit the training in for everything. Here's what I'm considering:
- The Ann Arbor Triathlon. I was so inspired to try a tri at the end of this summer, that I'm bound and determined to do one in the early summer of 2010. The Ann Arbor Tri includes a trail run which is fun, is close to my mom's house and takes place on June 6.
- The Muddy Buddy Detroit (or Chicago). My friend, Cat, introduced me to these fun 2-person run/mountain bike/obstacle/mud pit races, and they sound like a total blast. I'd really like to race one with her. The Detroit is on July 11 and the Chicago is on August 1.
- The Dunes Duathlon. This is the one I did in September and won second in my age group. It was so much fun, that I really want to do it again and see how I stack up in the next higher age group. This race is on September 18.
- The Iceman Cometh Challenge. Also at the tail end of the season this year, I got pretty excited about mountain biking. I intend to do more of it next summer. So, my co-worker introduced me to the Iceman, a 28-mile mountain bike ride in northern Michigan on November 6, and we're planning to put together a team to ride it.
- I'm also considering throwing in any of the following depending on how I feel at that time: the Stealcase Duathlon (April 25), the Tri Del Sol (July 17), the Holland Hundred again (July ?), the Reeds Lake Triathlon (September ?), an XTERRA event and the Grand Rapids Marathon (October ?).
I just don't see training for a marathon in all of that. I'd want 4-6 months after I had already been running regularly for a while to feel confident about a 26 miler. Sigh. Maybe I'll have to wait till 2011. Or maybe I'll come to my senses before then and decide that running a marathon is not a merit badge that I really need. Or maybe I'll burn out in July and throw all the planned events out the window in favor of riding and running for just plane fun. I guess we'll see!
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
During our stay, Chief has already chewed up my husband's running shoe and his glasses. Nice.
Malamutes are sled dogs, and as my hubby says, there are two types of sled dogs: the smart ones that lead the pack and the strong, dumb ones that can pull forever. Chief is the strong, dumb type. He weighs almost as much as I do, and he's still growing.
This picture is with my in-laws shortly after they got him. He's even bigger now. This photo is for real...no doctoring. Really. ;)
He has a chew toy that's a red dog. It reminds me of Clifford. Very appropriate.
So to keep this cute, dumb, fuzzy monster at bay, I took him out for a 3-mile run with me yesterday. He's a great running partner. He stayed by my side pretty well and even pulled me just a little bit up the big hills. It was cheating, but I didn't care. Good sled dog!
Friday, December 4, 2009
The roads are unplowed, and people are suffering from their annual how-to-drive-in-the-snow amnesia. But it is admittedly pretty when the sun peaks out from behind the clouds and makes all the powder covered branches glisten.
Sadly, as I drove in to work today, I realized that the snow means no more riding my skinny tired road bike for a while. I'm heart broken. But that just means it's time for more mountain bike action!
The pictures in this post were taken outside my office. Not the prettiest setting, but it gives you an idea of how big the flakes are that are coming down. Hello, winter!
It's hard to believe that just last weekend, it was sunny and relativley warm. The picture below was taken last Saturday on the Blue Bridge in downtown Grand Rapids as the hubby and I gave a friend a tour of the city. There were lots of bikes downtown that day. This picture really has nothing to do with this post, but I like how it came out, and I want to post it. It's my blog...I can do that!
Monday, November 30, 2009
We've been lucky so far this fall with such mild weather in Michigan. I know it's only a matter of time before it turns for the worse. I'm planning to use any money that I get for my birthday and Christmas to buy a new pair of running shoes and a bike trainer, so I can continue to work out indoors. I'm planning to do a tri probably in June, so I'll have to start training in February or March. I've been doing a little research on the lower priced trainers - under $300 - but I'd love to try one out before I buy since I've never really used one before.
The Rapid Wheelmen are going to have trainer days at two of the local bike shops during the winter. I think I'll go to one and see if I can try out some different models.
Does anyone have experience with a trainer that they like in my price range? What are the pros and cons of the model?
Monday, November 23, 2009
Unfortunately, I've spent the last several days recovering from a stomach flu and haven't been outside for more than a walk around the block.
I'm all better now and seriously itching to get out for some kind of exercise. I've got to claw out of the grey sky feeling and get back into a routine. I welcome the approaching long weekend and will surely delight in working off some of the many calories I eat on Thanksgiving day.
Bring on the turkey...and the bike!
Monday, November 16, 2009
Friday night I rode about 10.5 miles before it got too dark. Then I got up early Saturday morning to ride 25 miles before going to my niece's 4th birthday party.
As I rode, I discovered that the entire Kent Trail system has been repaved since I rode it last. Wow! That is some nice smooth asphault. No more bumps from sub-pavement tree roots or wheel swallowing pot holes. In my rush to get outside, I forgot to take my camera with me, so sorry I don't have any photos. But picture gray twiggy trees arching over a brown leaf covered path. Despite the lifelessness of the trees, the scene was still kind of pretty. Just wait until all the tree branches have a dusting of fresh, sparkling snow on them. Not that I'm in a hurry for the snow to arrive.
In fact, I have a friend who recently moved to Michigan from California. She keeps hearing about the cold and snowy winters and wondering what that will be like. I honestly wouldn't mind if this type of weather continued until spring and she never found out!
Monday, November 9, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
One of the rooms contained a display of photographs from St. Louis history. I was particularly excited about this one.
The park was wonderful to ride through! It seems like St. Louis has a pretty strong cycling community - at least in the area of the park. There were lycra-clad roadies, families with kids, young people on mountain bikes...a great mix of folks getting outside and active.
I didn't have time to see the zoo, the museums, the Worlds Fair pavillion and the many other fun sites of Forest Park. But the hour and a half on the bike made me feel so good! Except next time, I'll rent a bike with a more jeans-friendly saddle. ;)
After that, I returned my rental bike to the shop and headed downtown to the Hilton on the Ballpark to help the wedding party get ready for photographs. There were some great backdrops for pictures.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
However, this weekend, the hubby and I are venturing to St. Louis. He's the best man in a long time friend's wedding. We'll have some time free on Friday before the rehearsal, so I'm hoping to explore Forest Park and see the Arch. That should involve a good amount of walking, so at least I won't be on my butt ALL weekend.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
When I saw this headline referring to Grand Rapids, I thought, "What? Really? Not a single bike lane and we get named a bike friendly city?"
Grand Rapids is "one of 15 cities to earn the title this fall from the League of American Bicyclists."
But as I read the article's explanation about improving conditions for cyclists and the hundreds of miles of bike paths that already exist in and around the city, I said, "OK...yah. You're right! We are making progress around here. Awesome!"
Keep it up Grand Rapids!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
The trip began Friday night with five people and one bicycle piled into one car for a three and a half hour drive to northern Chicago. Those five people then packed themselves into one hotel room for six short hours of sleep before embarking on their various adventures.
Early Saturday morning, while my husband and our friends got ready for a Magic the Gathering tournament, I woke myself and my bike and took a shuttle to O'Hare airport where I boarded the blue line train into the city. I got off the train to ride my bike a couple miles through construction and light morning traffic to reach the terminus of the brown line. Finally getting off of the Southport stop, I was greated by a sight that made me smile - a bike lane!
I sat down at Ann Sather, the shop under the El bridge with the orange canopy. I got a cup of coffee and read my new copy of Mountain Biking while I waited for Dottie of Let's Go Ride a Bike and Elisa of Bike Skirt to arrive. When they came through the door, I recognized them right away!
It was a pleasant suprise to also meet Mr. Dottie, Elisabeth from Bike Commuters and Braxton and Ashley visiting from Alabama.
We had to partake of Ann Sather's famous cinnamon rolls.
At the end of the Lakeshore Trail, we discovered a cute path covered in a tunnel of trees near the Navy Pier. The Dotties had never seen it before, so it was exciting to check it out...and of course, take more pictures.
Then it was time for me to meet my college friend, Melissa, for a trip to a pumpkin farm. At this point, I could have consulted my maps and found the nearest subway stop, but Elisabeth took the lead, and we wove our bikes through the busy Chicago streets right to my friend's door.
I truly had a wonderful time with my fellow cycling bloggers in the windy city. I had a huge smile plastered to my face as I rode along Lake Michigan taking in the cityscape and hearing the stories of how they each fell in love with cycling. All of our conversation about riding in the winter and attempting to ride my bike in street clothes instead of my normal bike shorts and jerseys was inspiring. I think I might commute to work more this winter - layered in my comfy wool sweaters and long coat. I might have to pick up some of those studded tires, though.
As the day continued, I went to the Bengtson's Pumpkin Farm with Melissa and some friends and ended up tagging along with them to see Seinfeld do his live standup show at the Rosemont Theater. Then, Melissa and her boyfriend helped me find the impossibly hidden comic shop where the rest of my GR crew had played Magic all day. We once again loaded up the car for the cramped but smooth drive home to Grand Rapids.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
"I got out for a ride." I realized today that I use that phrase a lot. I got out for this ride, or I got out for that run. It got me thinging about why those particular words come to mind when I think about my workouts.
I think the significance of the phrase is a combination of things:
- "I got out for a ride" like "I got to go out for a ride..." It's a joy and a priviledge - a gift - to ride.
- "I got out for a run" like "I made it out for a run..." It's an accomplishment to carve the time out of my schedule - a goal met - to run.
- "I got out for a ride" like "I got out for a ride..." I escaped the normal routine of the day and the confines of the climate-controlled, chair-dominated indoors to ride. I got out the door with my arms raised in a hug for the sky (especially when the sun is in it!) and a big, silly grin on my face.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
In reality, that means I have been able to ride and run outside for the past 8 months. It's been one of the best summers of my life for outdoor athletic adventures! I've tried tons of new things and met some great people. Furthermore, next March is now only 5 months away. Still...it feels like an eternity of Michigan misery is fast approaching.
The thing that's truly kept me motivated this summer is trying new things. I got my first road bike in March, and that had me geeked for weeks! Then I set the goal to complete a century in June, and I trained enthusiastically for that. My interest lulled slightly after that, but to re-motivate myself I decided to do a second century in July. After that ride, my activity definitely tapered off to about once a week for a month or so until I set the goal to do the duathlon at the end of September. Now, running is interesting to me because it's new again and I've seen progress in my fitness. And last night, I finally responded to a curiosity I've had all summer; I went to the gym and swam. It was hard, but it got me thinking that maybe I really can do a triathlon. I'd feel really proud of myself, If I completed one. I could say to myself, "I'm a triathlete."
So now I have this new goal and the tri season is already over. I guess I'll have to use training over the winter for an early summer tri to keep the seasonal depression at bay.
But it's a long time before spring. It'll be easy to get lazy when I don't want to go outside, let alone drive to the gym. But I'm kind of excited right now to find creative ways to keep myself motivated to exercise over the winter months - spin class, weight lifting, indoor mini-tris...attempts to manufacture variety with the same old gym equipment. Maybe even going outside to ski.
I'd love to hear about other people's techniques for keeping yourself moving in the winter.
Monday, October 5, 2009
By Sunday I was getting antsy to move, so I got outside again for a good run. I planned on running 3 miles. At the halfway point, I checked my watch and realized that I had gone about 13 minutes. If I kept up the pace, I could do 3 miles in 26 minutes, which isn't too bad for me. Well, the pace felt hard, and I wanted to stop, but I felt like I kept it up anyway.
In the end, I picked up the pace quite a bit, apparently, because I finished in 24:40 (8:20 mile pace). I must admit, that the route is probably a little less than 3 miles. Even so, I'm incredibly happy that I can still run at a decent pace (for me, anyway). Not my high school best - and certainly nowhere near competitive - but not bad. As always, running longer miles makes the shorter runs fly.
In exciting news, the hubby and I are going to Chicago this weekend so he can play in a card tournament. The moment I heard about the plan, I was geeked to tag along! While the hubby and his friends play all day Saturday, I've got free time in the city to meet Dottie of Let's Go Ride a Bike! It turns out that Elisa of Bike Skirt is also going to be in town, so the three of us may be able to all meet in person for some stylish-girls-on-bikes fun. I can't wait!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
I wonder if the city of Detroit or its suburbs have seen more bike riders. As a native of Redford Township, a suburb bordering Detroit to the west, I would guess that the suburbs had more bike traffic - mostly kids getting to friends' houses and summer jobs. But even in Redford it was incredibly rare to see someone cycling on a main road.