Monday, August 31, 2009

Bricks and motorcycles

This was a crazy busy weekend for me! Since I decided to do a duathlon, I've been curious about how the transition would go from running to biking. So on Saturday, I did my first run + bike brick workout. I ran 3 miles out and back from my garage, then changed my shoes and hopped on my bike for a 12 mile ride. My legs were definitely tired for the first couple miles of pedalling, but the fatigue seemed to work itself out over time. Of course, I couldn't really push the bike consistently like I would in a time trial since my bike path crosses a lot of roads, but it gave me a good picture of what I'll be dealing with on race day.

(Blue = Run, Red = Bike)

This brick workout also gave me a chance to test out my new triathlon shorts. During my lunch break on Friday, I went back to Gazelle Sports and talked to one of the sales people about tri shorts. I told him that I'd tried on several pairs and found the model that I liked - the CW-X Compression Wear triathlon short - but that I wasn't sure of the sizing. I felt like I was between sizes. Fortunately, he is a triathlete and he works with other tri customers all the time. So he suggested that with the compression shorts, if you're between sizes, unless they cut off circulation, you should go with the smaller size to get the full benefit of the compression properties. So I tried on the two sizes again and decided that the smaller size felt right.

During the workout, the shorts felt great. It definitely felt like they tightened up the muscles in my glut/hip/upper leg area. I'll have to run in them more to fully decide how I like that. More importantly, though, they were comfortable on the bike. Even with the thin fleece pad, it seemed like the tightness of the shorts kept everything from getting smashed or pinched funny on the saddle. I think I'll be very happy to wear these for a 17 mile ride - or more.

After the brick workout, I was pretty tired! But my day was far from finished. A couple hours later, I was off to 6 hours of field motorcycle training. My hubby and I have been riding mopeds for a couple summers now, and we love it. But we've both gradually become ready to upgrade to motorcycles. So we got into a basic rider course this week and successfully finished the classroom portion on Wednesday night. Then this weekend, we spent 6 hours each on Saturday and Sunday learning hands-on motorcycle handling skills out on the range. We both passed the skills evaluation and can now get our motorcycle endorsements at the secretary of state! We're both proud of ourselves and super excited!

Expanding my world of two wheeled transportation once again. Woo hoo!

Note: If you know my grandmother, don't tell her that I'm getting a motorcycle endorsement. She'll have a heart attack! I'll tell her after I've got some more experience under my belt. lol

Friday, August 28, 2009

A change in season...already?!

Last night, our ladies' group rode 25.5 miles in the rain. There were two tandems out for the ride, which means that the entire evening consisted of the tandems and those who could draft them - averaging somewhere around 23mph - shooting off the front and the rest of us falling off the back - at more like 17mph. While the tandem group FLEW out in front, the rest of us felt like we were slow and struggling to keep up even though we were pushing it pretty hard. I even rode the last 6 miles or so in my drops to try to make up some distance, but without much luck. Tandems are fast, m'kay?

I'm not sure yet, but last night may have been our last ladies' group ride of the season. How sad! What will I do now?! I would especially appreciate continuing a group ride of some kind for motivation to train for the duathlon on the 26th. Fortunately, the Rapid Wheelmen have plenty of other rides throughout September. One of the girls last night also mentioned that a cyclocross group is starting up on Thursday nights. Maybe I'll try that out. Do they let you ride cross on a mountain bike?

Cyclocross might work out well, too, because the state game area where I've been mountain biking closes to bikers at the end of August. It doesn't look like I'll be able to make it out there again before it closes. That makes me kind of sad, since I just started getting into mountain biking. So maybe cross is the answer. Or maybe I'll just focus on running and keeping up my road endurance for the upcoming race. Knowing that I'm not going to train as much as I probably should, that may be the best choice. Heh!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Duathlon training

I worked up a loose plan of running and biking for the next month to get ready for the Dunes Duathlon, and last night was a 4 mile run. I don't have a lot of short distance routes mapped out around my house yet, since I've been biking way more than running since I moved here. So I chose a route that I knew would be exactly 4 miles long - straight up Kalamazoo Avenue from 44th to 28th.

Actually, I should say straight DOWN Kalamazoo because it's almost entirely down hill as you go north. And of course that means that it's almost entirely up hill on the way back. I had worked up in my head how horrible this up hill run was going to be, so when I actually did it, it wasn't so bad! LOL But I realized that sand dunes don't tend to be so flat, so running a few hills will be good practice.

Yesterday, I also went to the one sports store in town that carries triathlon gear. They didn't have much to choose from, but I found a pair of shorts that I fell in love with. They're CW-X Compression Wear women's triathlon shorts. I've never worn compression gear before, but they felt amazing and looked just as good, if I do say so myself. They tightened up all the looser spots, if you know what I mean. The thin fleece pad also felt like it would actually offer some comfort without being bulky. However, one problem was that I don't know how compressive these shorts are supposed to be. Two sizes seemed to fit me, one tighter than the other. The other problem was the price. Sixty bucks!

I don't really want to spend that much on a pair of shorts that I won't wear very often. I've found cheaper shorts online, but how do you tell what will fit? What has a nice chamois? What size do you choose?

Has anyone found a tri short that you really like?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Not so noob anymore...well, maybe still pretty noob

As a new blogger, I'm pretty excited that I've reached a milestone today - my 100th post! One hundred posts says to me that I've remained dedicated to my cycling hobby and have actually written posts relatively consistently. And it must not be too boring to read about this Grand Rapids woman's experiences learning the ins and outs of cycling, because I have 17 followers (I realize that's nothing compared to the Fat Cyclist or Bike Snob NYC or Let's Go Ride a Bike, but I'm kinda proud). Even if my main reader is my mom - hi, Mom!) and I have been quoted in other blogs (well actually, only one blog - Lunicycle. Thanks, Luni!)

I feel like I've learned a lot about the sport since I got my first road bike this spring. I've had many first experiences - my first group ride, my first (and second) century, my first time trial... I've also stretched out into areas of the sport that I didn't think I'd ever get into, like mountain biking. I've contemplated attempting a criterium race (which I'll probably try next year) and, since I've been starting to run more again, a duathlon.

On the subject of duathlons, I got an email from yesterday. That's a website that allows people to search for sporting events in their local area and register for them. In this month's installment of upcoming events, I noticed a link for the Dunes Duathlon 2009 on September 26. Taking place in Saugatuck, Michigan, the Dunes Duathlon includes a 5 mile trail run through the Saugatuck Dunes State Park with a view of Lake Michigan followed by a 17 mile bike ride on the nearby roads. I think this sounds like a blast! I'm confident that I'll be strong in the bike portion, and I think that one month will be enough to get me ready to complete the run. I'm pretty comfortable at about 3 miles on flat terrain right now, so over the next few weeks, I'm sure I can increase my running distance to 5 or 6 miles. I don't plan to win this thing...I just want to go out there and enjoy it! I also like having a new goal to keep me focused.

My friend, Cat, who rode the 100 Grand century with me lives in Saugatuck. I'm hoping to rope her into doing the duathlon with me!

So, I'm pretty excited about this race - completing a duathlon would be another first for me. Sand dune running, here I come!

Does anyone have suggestions for what kind of shorts to wear that have a pad for biking but that will still be comfortable for running? I've heard that triathlon shorts are good, so if anyone can recommend a pair that is comfortable and reasonably priced, I'd appreciate the tip!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Running, biking and bocce ball

I got out for a 3 mile run yesterday. I haven't been running that much yet, but I'm already starting to feel stronger again. I'm sure all the endurance training on the bike has helped that. Maybe I'll have to find a duathlon to try out next spring.

Even though it was cloudy this morning, it wasn't raining. So I decided to take the chance to get out on my bike. I got 6 miles into my ride when I ran into a repaving project on the bike path. I'm glad to see it...the path was getting rough. But I had to either walk my road bike over a half mile of loose dirt and gravel to continue on the trail or turn around. I didn't feel like doing the walking, so even though I had planned on riding quite a bit further today, I headed back home.

On the way home, I had one encounter with a driver that was irritating but thankfully not damaging. I was crossing Kalamazoo Ave. near M-6 on the Southbelt Trail. I was in a cross walk designed for bike path users. The crosswalk is at an intersection that leads into a shopping/cinema complex on one side and a large high school on the other. Cars frequently make turns at this intersection without waiting for the proper light timing and without looking for crosswalk users. Since I ride this path a lot, I know to watch out for it. I'm so glad. I got the walk light and checked the lanes coming out of the shopping center on my side of the street for oncoming cars. It was clear, so I started crossing the street and began watching the right turn lane into the high school. A huge black pickup truck came roaring through the cross walk as I approached. I slowed down to let the truck go through. After the vehical was halfway through the crosswalk, the woman driving finally looked in my direction. She stopped and put her hand up to her mouth in shock that she had nearly run someone over. I read her lips saying, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" while I finished crossing the street. I wanted to shake my fist at the woman, but I just shook my head instead. She probably felt bad enough without me being a jerk to her. I'm just thankful that I learned my lesson this spring and that I now trust no one on the road to pay attention to me. It's a sad state of the world.

In a more fun note, my hubby spent a couple days in the Detroit area for business this week and spent the night at my grandparent's house out there. They gave him their old bocce ball set to being home! I have many fond memories of playing bocce with my family up at the cottage they used to have in Perry Sound, Ontario. I used to spend a week or more there over the Fourth of July holiday every summer. They had to sell the cottage some years ago, but having the bocce ball set sort of gives me back a piece of it. The hubby and I busted it out yesterday in our back yard. He beat me two sets in a row. But I'll get him next time!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Crazy Crosswind

The women's group ride last night was fortunate to avoid the rain that seems to threaten us all the time now. I guess fall is coming. Where did the summer go? Anyway, last night was just beautiful for a ride - 75F and sunny, with a cool breeze.

Actually, the breeze was more of a series of strong gusts. Somehow we managed to ride a route that only had one section really riding into the face of the wind. That section happened to be uphill, too, of course. But the rest of the time was a little crazy! Riding through farm country with the big open fields and few trees for shelter...when the cross wind gusted, it would push my bike sideways! Always toward the center of the road, it seemed. It felt like the wind just grabbed my handlebars and jerked. It kinda freaked me out.

But we finished our 26 mile ride safely, and rolled back into the bike shop parking lot under darkening skies. It's getting dark earlier. Time to put the lights back on my bike. (Speaking of which, one of the women had a cool saddle with a light integrated right into it. I have trouble figuring out how to mount my rear light with my bag under my saddle. This saddle solved the issue handily! It might be this one, found on Nashbar.)

After the ride, we all piled into the bar/deli above the bike shop and enjoyed drinks, dinner and conversation. It was a good night.

Monday, August 17, 2009

NKF Kidney Walk

I've been fortunate so far in my life that few major diseases have touched my close family and friends. The exception to that is my mom, Marcy, who has suffered from Lupus for many years. To paraphrase Wikipedia, lupus is a disease in which the immune system attacks the body's cells and tissues, especially the heart, joints, skin, lungs, blood vessels, liver, kidneys and nervous system, causing inflammation and tissue damage. Symptomatically, my mom has basically been in remission for quite a while now. But over the years, the disease attacked and weakened her kidneys to the point of imminent failure.

About five years ago, Mom started doing dialysis and got on the kidney transplant waiting list. About a year later the family of a young man who died in an accident donated his organs, and his kidney was a match for my mom.

The transplant was a success, and my mom has been living a healthy, active life ever since! I'm so thankful that she's still here with me!

Since the transplant, my mom has become active in the local chapter of the National Kidney Foundation. She's served as a mentor for other patients awaiting transplants and has raised money at the annual Kidney Walks. These funds go toward increasing awareness about kidney disease, funding research for treatment and helping kidney disease patients and their families.

This year's Kidney Walk is September 13, 2009 in Ann Arbor, MI, and it's fundraising time! Please visit my mom's personal fundraising page by clicking below. Check it out, and if you can, donate and pass it on to other people who might want to join in the fight against kidney disease.

Visit Marcy's personal fundraising page!

Thanks so much!

More running

I didn't get out for a ride yesterday like I'd hoped, but I did get my hubby to join me for a run. There's a loop around our "block" that measures out to a little less than a mile, and we ran it three times. The down side is the complete lack of shade. And jeez was it hot! And humid. Yuck!

Ever since a couple weeks ago when I ran 5-6 miles and felt it in my hips for a couple days, I've been thinking about working more running back into my workouts. I read in Bicycling magazine that biking does wonders for strengthening your gluts (muscles in the back), but it really neglects your hip flexors (muscles in the front). I can see that, since I definitely spend more energy pushing my thighs and knees down than I do pulling them up when I pedal.

One of the things I've also liked about cycling is the reduced impact of the exercise on my knees. However, I've read that that lack of impact is not so good for bone density and spinal health. So maybe some cross training will balance things out. The old maxim about "everything in moderation" seems to prove itself over and over again.

Has anyone else experienced something similar, and what did you do about it?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It felt good to pedal

I've been super busy this week, but I did get back to the ladies' group ride Thursday night after missing a couple weeks. Boy, did it feel good to pedal! And it was nice to see some of my friends again.

I hope to get out for a ride tomorrow, too. I can't wait!

In other bike related looks like my hubby and I are going to try to get into a motorcycle safety course. The classes in our area are all full already, but if there are no-shows and we are there, we can get in. Cool, huh?!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

In memory of Susan Nelson. WIN!

For the past year or so, since I've begun getting more serious about biking and have started getting to know the worldwide community of cyclists through blogs and websites, one of the people who has always stood out to me is Elden Nelson, the Fat Cyclist.

I look forward to reading his blog every day. He is a talented writer - funny, caring, honest and touching. He not only shares fun stories about biking but also the real stuff of his life. He has also raised tons of money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation to fight cancer and has inspired so many others to join in fighting that horrific disease.

Fatty's powerful source of inspiration has been his wife, Susan. Susan has been battling cancer for a long time now. And last night, her fight ended. But as Fatty says, she did not lose! She led the charge. The fight will rage on with Susan's relentless determination and generous heart inspiring thousands of Team Fatty members, blog fans and cancer haters all over the country.

Please go send Fatty some words of love today, and if you can, help Team Fatty fight cancer by joining the team or donating to one of the members.

In memory of Susan Nelson. WIN!

Mountain Biking with the Hubs

Last night, my husband and I went out to Cannonsburg SGA (which is where I rode with my co-workers last week) and road the 8 miles of mountain bike trail. It was really a blast! I took some of the obstacles that I had to stop for last week, so I was happy to have improved just a little.

There were still three main spots that I stopped for again this time but that I want to conquer:
- One stream crossing that is a few feet deep and lined with rocks
- One long, twisting, rooty uphill
- One step off a root going downhill that drops about 14 inches

If anyone has technique suggestions for these obstacles, please share them!

My husband had one additional obstacle to overcome - his front wheel almost came off! When he realized what was happening, only the brake was holding it on. I don't know how it came loose from the quick release, but fortunately, it did not come completely off sending him over the handlebars into a tree!

It was fun mountain biking with the hubs because there are few sports where we have relatively equal skill and ability, and mountain biking seems to be one of them. He is braver and stronger than me, but I am lighter and probably have better endurance (riding centuries will do that, I guess ;) ). If he wanted to get good at it, I'm sure he would surpass me. But for now, it's an activity that we can do together and share a similar level of challenge and thrill.

After riding, we shared a meatball sub from Subway and saw The Hurt Locker. Really intense movie! Really well done. It's about a team of American bomb diffuser specialists in Iraq. The intensity of the trail seemed almost non-existent compared to the job those men have to do.

So riding a trail turned into a whole date night of fun activities for me and my hubby. Yay!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pulse urban concept bike

I don't blog about products very often, but Urban Velo had a blurb about this Pulse urban concept bike by Teague, and I thought it was pretty cool. The original article is on core77.

I think the frame design is a great idea, and the fact that the frame and turn signals light up is awesome. I also like the look of the bike quite a bit. The only thing I would wish for is more of a light in the front and back for night time. I wonder what the power source is for the lights and how easily one could get their feet in the pedal cages.

If the price was right, I think this would be a really fun bike for city commuting.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Good weekend

I was totally pooped Thursday night, so I took the night off from the usual women's group ride. But this weekend turned out to be a great one for fitness.

Saturday morning, I headed over to my local bike shop to check out their sale. I wanted to pick up a floor pump that would handle the higher pressure of road bike tires, some new sunglasses and a new jersey (I finally decided that one jersey is not enough). Thanks to Jack "Ghost Rider" Sweeney at for his advice on a good pump. I went with the Specialized Air Tool. I'll let you know how it works after I've tried it out!

My hubby also said that he would go out mountain biking with me if I got his bike in working order. It was not shifting properly, the rear wheel was crooked and the saddle is uncomfortable. So I also took his bike with me to the shop, and a few cable adjustments and two new spokes later, it's ready to ride! He'll have to pick out a new saddle himself. I can't guess on that one.

Then, Saturday afternoon I wanted to ride, but it was raining just a little. So I decided to go running instead. I have always loved running in the rain when it's warm out. It was one of those days where I just felt really good out there, so I kept going until I felt tired. I ended up running about 5.5 miles, which is a lot for me since I haven't been running much the past couple years. I have paid for feeling good during the run, though. My hips have been sore ever since. I read that cycling strengthens the glutes quite a bit (which I've noticed), but it does not develop the hip flexors very well. I think that's why mine are sore. I guess I need to cross train more.

And on Sunday, I got out for about 13 miles on my bike before the hubby and I drove to Brighton to celebrate my grandparents' birthdays (they're three days apart).

So I'm feeling good and looking forward to maybe going mountain biking again this week!