Saturday, January 22, 2011

Entering The Frozen Zone

I have decided that I need to change up my plans again. Doh!

Since New England has already had more snow by today than it usually has all winter, the landscape has changed dramatically. Specifically, there is nowhere to put all of this snow. Parking lots look like snow fortresses and there is localized flooding when sewer mains are still covered over with snow and the solar heat of the day starts melting these icebergs.

This presents serious challenges to motorists so you can imagine what it would do to a cyclist. Street corners are not just frozen with leftover plow sludge, but the snow banks are so hight that oncoming traffic is no longer visible as well.

A mountain bike clearance deal at a local bike shop nearly pushed me to change the plans to re-vamp my Fuji Monterey.That is, until I was driving home from work one day, cautiously pulling up to an intersection and nearly getting hit by a car anyway, that I realized it would be insanely stupid to try and get out on these roads right now. I can't imagine that the bike paths are clear since the parking lots that access these paths aren't clear either.

So for now, I'm keeping most of my training indoors and will look for a hill with a plowed sidewalk that can help me keep my legs fresh.

Two days ago, I spent 30 minutes on the elliptical at an heavy incline and then jumped on the recumbent bike for 50 minutes, holding a cadence of 80 RPMs. Yesterday, it snowed again! Double Doh! So I stayed in and just did some strength training with resistance bands, kettle bells and threw in some ab work.

In the meantime, my Army/Navy thermals finally managed to get down here from Vermont this week. It seems to be the real deal. The jacket itself is worth the price of the package and I've been wearing the glove liners all week. On top of that, I'm surprised I actually purchased clothing online that fit.

The next couple of days will be the real test. The temps won't break freezing so I plan on seeing if this stuff actually keeps me warm while walking around. If it does, then I'll feel more confident about riding when it's 35 - 40 degrees.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One Hour

The latest studies, if you're inclined to believe the latest studies, show that the average woman over the age of 40 needs to exercise at least one hour a day to avoid gaining weight. Think about that. That isn't to lose weight, that is to hold steady, to avoid the, "does this make my butt look big?" confrontation with your significant other. How annoying.

As the Blizzard of the Week hit New England early this morning, even with the threat of gaining weight looming over my big butt, my ambition for going out and dodging snow plows is lacking and I opt instead for a combo of shadow boxing, push-ups and ab work (planks, side planks, yoga planks, trunk twists, and reverse trunk twists). I'll sit here watching TV, 'net surfing, building websites and interjecting these 15 minute workouts every now and then and hope I don't gain a pound today.

On the bright side, I received an email that my polypropylene thermals were shipped yesterday.

I never thought I'd be so excited about receiving underwear. I don't even care if it makes my butt look big since I'm planning on wearing something over it anyway.
Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

The Silver Bullet in all her middle-aged glory. I adore the whitewalls.

So, last I wrote, I was heading over to the Harris Cyclery web site to buy a wheelset, crank, tires and tubes for my 1981 Fuji Monterey bike. That didn't work out too well as Harris' website is saying that the only wheelset that fits my frame's spread is sold out until January 15th. Meh. No, I'm not going to try and build up the wheels myself. I am not interested in riding a beginner's first build wheelset on slippery roads. I know me. That would be bad.

Undeterred, there are other things that I need to address anyway, the most urgent is that I have ZERO amount of cold-weather cycling clothing. Sure, I live in New England and have warm clothing, but walking to my car in 30 degree weather is not the same as riding a bike 20mph in 30 degree weather. The biggest issue was expense as everything cycling is pretty expensive on a part-timer's budget.

The base layer is always the key to warmth.Thinking about a cold-weather cyclist's blog I read about a few years ago, I did a search on Army/Navy Surplus and found that Barre Army/Navy Store in Vermont features a set of polypropylene thermal underwear for about 50 bucks, shipping included. That's the sock liners, glove liners, balaclava, jacket and pants all in one. I might have been able to search around and find the individual items cheaper elsewhere, but I love it when a store has a clue and saves me time. I thought I'd start with this set and take it from there.

I have a pair of Shimano mountain bike shoes that I planned on wearing through the winter rides. Shimano does not make the 42.5 size that I wear (few do) so I bought them a half  size up and wear thick socks. I'm hoping the sock liners and a pair of wool socks will be warm enough for my planned rides. I like them because of the recessed cleats. That was a great confidence-builder when I was first learning to clip in. Clipping out and having my foot slide out on the asphalt would have been interesting and a bit comical but I'm not interested in rolling around the ground like Nomar Garciaparra after his nasty groin injury and probably having my other foot still clipped in. The image of me lying on the ground in major pain while trying to explain how my accident happened to some early 20-something EMT trainee was more than enough incentive to get the shoes.

As far as not being able to ride now for at least a couple of weeks, I can just continue on with my regular workout routine and add some outdoor running up hills, spin classes and a few mini-tris.

Mini-tris are something I started doing about 3 years ago at the clubhouse in my apartment complex. I have seen many health clubs and Y's implementing these in the past couple of years. Mine consists of starting out on an ergometer (a Concept 2 Rowing Machine) for 2000 meters, then I jump on the recumbent bike and pedal over various terrains for 45 minutes while trying to keep my cadence at 80 RPMs (I'm 49 years old so 90 RPMs is a little tough for me) and then I run for 30 minutes on the treadmill, which, in all honesty, quite often quickly goes from a run to a middle-aged fat broad shuffle.

So the first lesson in this HH100 exercise is, "expect the unexpected," or, as my Dad used to tell me when I was a musician studying jazz, "Kid, always be read to improvise."

Thanks, Dad. That piece of advice has come in pretty handy over the years.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Planning to Succeed - Part 1

Before signing up for the Hotter n' Hell 100, I realized that I needed a training plan.

Living in New England and having a disdain for cold weather, I usually start my riding some time in late March or early April. These are usually fairly easy 10 - 20 mile rides that increase in intensity but rarely go farther than 30 miles and those are usually looped. This is because I have no SAG support. If I'm stuck out in the boondocks, I'm on my own when it comes to getting home or back to my car.

There are three things that I need to change right away. The first being that I need to start riding as soon as possible, the second is to increase my weekly mileage, the third is that I need to ride in a group setting more often if I'm going to enjoy riding with 13,000+ other cyclists.

I ride a 1981 Fuji Monterey that I purchased about 5 years ago for a hundred bucks. It has no quick-release stems so I carry wrenches. It also has no quick-release mechanism on my Dia-Compe brakes.

Luckily for me, the first time my tire blew was while my bike was in the back of my van. I'm guessing it was a pinch flat since it was the beginning of the season and I had just re-inflated the tire. I drove the bike home, lugged the 30-pound monster up two flights of stairs, and, after I had changed out the tube with no problem, realized that I was absolutely incompetent when it comes to dealing with those brakes. Even working with wrenches, it would have taken me less than 10 minutes to change that flat had it not been for the brakes. As it happened, it turned into a 30 minute House of Pain that included consulting with my husband on how to deal with fitting that wheel inside those brakes.

Frustrated with the exercise and now insecure about my ride, I simply stayed close to a bail-out when I went riding the entire Summer.

For 2011, I certainly want a lighter bike, and a more trust-worthy brake system. However, I also want to ride as soon as possible and that means I am about to spend more on the Fuji than I actually paid for it with a new wheelset and brakes that I found over at the Harris Cyclery web site.

I am not going to pay into 4 figures for a new bike and drag it out onto the salted, winter roads.

So, to start the year, I'm going to do what women love to do - go shopping.
Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New Direction

When I first started Elicit Substance, it was supposed to be a news-trend blog. I found out very quickly that writing about dead actors and over-the-hill athletes is more boring than sitting in a cubicle and playing with spreadsheets. At least there's an end product with spreadsheets. Addicted celebrities never stop cluttering the news channels with their childish/sadistic/aggressive behavior.

So this year, I'm taking this blog in a new direction. I have signed up for a 100 mile bike ride called the Hotter n' Hell 100. I waited up until Midnight to do this. Last year, this would have not been a problem. This year, I get up at 4:00 AM to open a gym and nowadays, Midnight is a problem.

Funny thing is, after I signed up, I was so excited, I couldn't sleep. My mind was racing faster than I'll ever be on a bike with thoughts about preparation, the bike set-up, training, nutrition and optimal hydration.

For those who don't know me, I've trained for triathlons over the past 4 years but a nasty hip injury left me in serious pain for about 1.5 years. I'm very happy to be training again but I'm still apprehensive about re-injury.
I'll be turning 50 years old this May so I don't bounce back like I used to - or maybe I never did and just never had an injury serious enough to realize it.

The Hotter n Hell is definitely an A list event this year. I live in Massachusetts and will be visiting my family in the Wichita Falls area so I'll be training hard so I can spend quality time with them instead of having them visit me in some hospital with an IV stuck in my arm.

So I say farewell to 2010 and the Brett Favre posts and the Lindsay Lush posts and I welcome 2011 with more bike rides, flat tires, bicycle road rage, road rash, and a protein shake or two.