Friday, July 27

Century Ride Recap

100 miles. Actually, it was more like 101.5 (or somewhere close to that) miles, but really who's counting? Hint* Definitely not me...

But before I dive into the after the ride recap lets talk about all the stuff that came before.

Friday, which also happened to be my 24th birthday, we packed up and headed out after some last minute tweaks to my bike. I had ordered a new set of tires for my bike that arrived just as we were getting ready to pull out of the driveway. Erik insisted that we unpack my bike and put the new tires on. Since I've recently learned how to change a flat tire Erik thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get my to practice my skills. Fast forward 10 minutes and I've completely shredded a perfectly good tube trying to get it off the rim. Luckily we had a spare tube packed up so I was able to get my bike completely put together with my sweet new wheels. We finally made our way out of town and started our ~2 hour drive to the start of the ride. Luckily the ride starts at a college so we were able to pay a little extra and spend the night in a dorm rather than a hotel.

For my birthday Erik had gone with a bike theme- new bike computer, Garmin GPS, cycling books and cycling sunglasses. In the car I cracked open the cycling book and for kicks started to list off the "must haves" on a ride. While reading through this list I realized I had left my gloves at home and spending a bunch of sweaty hours on a bike without gloves was not a option. Since we were about 40 minutes from my house we ended up making a detour to a bike shop in a nearby town. 25 bucks later I was the proud owner of a new pair of mens bicycle gloves. For some amazing reason mens gloves were significantly cheaper than the womens...

Anyways, we finally arrived and checked in and made our way to dinner in a nearby town. We spent Friday night watching the Tour De France in a common area lounge in the dorm building. (Fact: If you want to make friends at a cycling event turn on the's amazing how many people came to hangout.)

Saturday morning we were up well before the alarm and by 6:30 we were outside scrounging out breakfast. The ride was slated to start at 8 but cyclists completing the century could start at 7 if they were planning to be out longer than 8 hours. We opted to start at 8 seeing that Eriks optimistic calculations had us with a total ride time of 6.5 hours. In the many talks we had leading up to this I was nervous that I would blow up on the hills because I play this really fun game where I convince myself I can't make it when I clearly can, so I had figured we would be riding for at least 7 hours, if not more.

Before the ride. It's amazing how ridiculous and unflattering helmets look.
By 8am we had found my two coworkers that were also riding and found spots near the front of the line. At 8:15 we were off. Our plan was to stop every hour for a brief stop (5 minutes or less) so that we could fuel (I am not a happy cyclist when I am hungry) and I could stretch if needed. It's amazing how fast the ride went by, the first 30 miles flew by and before I knew it I was staring at this massive hill around mile 33. Most of the hills I've done have been the ones were you start climbing, turn a corner, climb some more..ect but this one was different. You could see the entire climb in front of you and it looks horrible. I ended up dropping to my grandma gears and maybe yelled a few "UHHH I AM OUT OF GEARS!" panic cries a few times in the super steep sections but I actually rode up the entire thing without blowing up. It took a bit to actually recover from the big hill but we continued on and quickly made our way to the lunch stop. The lunch stop was at a winery and supposedly was very nice. We had our lunch of gu and shot blocks on the road outside the winery. Having over 30 miles to go from the lunch stop the thought of eating real food made my stomach turn and luckily Erik agreed.

As we entered miles 70-90ish we headed into the outskirts of town were we entered farmland. Endless farm land. No traffic, no shade, just you, the sun and farms. This amazing scenery paired with hot pavement and no people made for a pretty tough stretch. Erik rode most of the ride in front of me. I always joke in my mind that its like the same scenario as holding a carrot in front of a horse to get it to speed up (maybe that's just cartoons or TV?).

Around mile 88ish I hit a wall. I didn't want to be on my bike and I definitely did not want to pedal anymore. I managed to get Erik to stop so that I could stretch when in actuality all I did was collapse in the shade under a tree in front of a complete strangers house. Erik, however, did not cave into my demands of taking a quick nap so I ultimately got back on my bike and continued riding.

Luckily as we rode into town we were treated to a long descent where I finally gained enough excitement to finish out the ride strong.

We finally pulled into campus where we realized that we had in fact finished dead on with Erik's previous predictions.

Below is the course profile from the ride...see Strava was nice enough to shade the really big climbs.
Do you have Strava? We should probably be friends!
In the end we climbed 3,753 feet, rode 101.5 miles in 6.5 hours and we spent a total of 7 hours and 15 minutes on the course. The funny thing was that when we finally were done, I was kind of ready to continue riding. 

Post ride
We made our way back to our dorm and we able to grab post ride showers which was probably the best shower of my life. The only thing impeding on the best shower award was finding out what spots I missed during the whole Body Glide application that morning. After showers we wandered over to dinner that was included in the cost of the ride but I quickly learned that my appetite for actual food was gone. I didn't feel sick, but the thought of eating made me nauseous. So after filling up my plate I grazed on some fruit salad and passed the remainders over to Erik who luckily was more than hungry enough to clean my plate.

And then that was it, we drove back to my house and we were asleep by 9 that night. I know what you are thinking...we are such party animals.

So with that century training is over. I spent Monday and Tuesday on a mini vacation from work with Erik. We even managed to go mountain biking, something I had stayed away from for fear of an injury before the century. Turns out mountain biking is hard work and you fall alot. My legs are currently sporting a large number of new and disgusting bruises to prove it. I even upgraded my bike a bit more to clip in pedals. Yes I actually, I rode a century and all the training miles with platform pedals. Is this where I also confess that I do not own bike shorts? Because, yeah, I do not. I ride all my long rides in a pair of compression shorts and my short rides in soccer/running shorts.

With those last confessions I'll call it a post.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 18

Weekend Recap

Saturday is the big day. It's the CENTURY RIDE I've been training so much for.  I'm a little bit nervous, but honestly, I am beyond excited. Can I tell you a secret though? I'm sorta more excited for whats next in this whole cycling master plan of mine. Truth is while this century ride got me in shape quickly, my goal is not to continually spend hours and hours...and hours on my bike every weekend. Sure, there will be long rides, but not 80 mile long rides. So while I am not completely ready to dive into my what's next cycling plans I will happily talk about this past weekend.

Last weekend was the first weekend since April where I didn't stress out about ride routes or weather and it was such a welcomed change. I will admit though as we kicked back and relaxed I found myself asking Erik if this really was on our "training plan" for the weekend because it just seemed so strange. 

Saturday was a town wide garage sale and people from everywhere flock to these sales. By the time we woke up at 8:30 people had already crowded the streets. Rumor has it that people where out as soon as the sun came out. Lesson learned for next time I guess. For a town that has a few thousand residents (if that), it was really confusing to see the streets filled with people. I always joke that if I sat in Erik's front yard all day long on a Saturday that I maybe would see 20 people walk by.

Anyways, Erik and I wandered through some garage sales and he eventually ended up with a sweet acoustic guitar and a set of speakers for his garage. I, on the other hand, hate garage sales so the only thing I bought was two cups of freshly squeezed lemonade from a very cute 5 year old who was raising money for the Clean Water Project ( That lemonade was probably the best two dollars I ever spent.

Erik had some things set aside for the sale, so around noon we set up shop and within two hours were 80 bucks richer and he had gotten rid of some junk treasures. That 80 dollars funded the remainder of our weekend which included our very first ever trip to a drive-in movie theather. We pushed out his old Volkswagen in attempt to drum up some interest to sell it. 

Erik purchased it last summer as a "project car." At the time we had only been dating for about a month or two and things weren't super serious since we were just spending one day a week with each other. Of course as the year continued and we got more serious and work got more crazy Erik ran out of time to work on the car. When Erik's neighbor saw that Erik was selling the car he asked why he never finished it but before I could answer he asked "oh I bet it has something to do with you..." 

We decided to take some pictures before putting in back in the garage for Craigslist...I of course decided to practice my car modeling...for some weird reason I don't think I am going to be hired any time soon...I can't imagine why though...

Later that evening we packed up the jeep with a ton of snacks and set off to see Spider-Man and Ted. While I wasn't really thrilled with seeing either of those movies it was fun to take out Eriks jeep (with the top down and back seat flipped around) and hang out for the night. I didn't even stress out when we got home well after 2am...4+ hours past my old lady big deal.

Oh and then Sunday we completed a fast 25 mile ride and it was a blast. See that big hill near the end? Yeah, was my idea...the MS ride also has a #3 hill so while Erik was sure I would be fine, I wanted to make sure I could do it without quitting getting overly frustrated. 

Around mile 15 I even ate my first energy gel and surprise, surprise, it was disgusting. I made a trip to Eastern Mountain Sports earlier in the week and instead of picking out one or two flavors to try out I bought every flavor they had in stock, from every brand. The employee at the counter definitely judged my purchase but I quickly blurted out "I was afraid to commit to one flavor...or brand...for fear it will be disgusting...this way I have options."

The goal for trying a gel during the ride was to see if a) my stomach could handle it on a ride and b) to see if it made any difference on a mega hill. My stomach has recently decided to hate me, so in hopes of not having similar bathroom emergencies in my century ride like I experienced on my 80 miler, I thought it would be wise to make sure my stomach could in fact handle extra sugar.

Surprisingly the razz flavored gel made a difference...or maybe it was a placebo effect...who cares though, I made it up the hill without quitting. Basically this hill was my final "confidence booster" for Saturday.

Now if I can only make it through the rest of today and tomorrow because I have Friday off. 

Spoiler alert: Friday is my birthday!

Thursday, July 12

Mini Vacation and the 80 mile ride

Someways I want to blog, but yet when I actually have the time to do so I sit and stare and a blank screen for quite a while and type nothing. I guess sometimes that's how it goes with blogging though...sometimes it just doesn't big deal.

Anyways, last week started out with Tysabri and a 6 month check up at my neuros office. Everything is great on that front so I am cleared for another 6 months of Tysabri which is very exciting. Usually I feel great after Tysabri but I think rushing back to work after my appointment and another busy day Tuesday left my quite exhausted Tuesday night. So exhausted that I bypassed a 20 mile ride with Erik in exchange for dinner. Thankfully, he was happy to oblige to my request. He's learned that if I don't want to get on my bike, or cook, then I really don't feel good.

Wednesday we found ourselves traveling 4 hours north to Lake Placid for the day. We eventually met up with some of Erik's sibling and his father for some shopping and fireworks. Thursday included more driving, a afternoon iced tea date with my aunt and uncle at their camp in Sandy Pond and then dinner with my parents and their friends at a nearby restaurant overlooking the water. Unfortunately this restaurant had recently changed hands and I was less than impressed with their food or their service. When I asked if the fancy meat in the pasta dish could be subbed out (there was no vegetarian dishes on the menu!) and perhaps exchanged (even if it was extra) with maybe shrimp (I'm a pescitarian) she muttered "that's ridiculous, shrimp is meat....what a idiot"  Of course she was standing right behind me when she muttered this and luckily everyone at the table heard her. So, instead of buying a dish for upwards of 25 dollars, I got a appetizer for 8 and called it a day. She is just lucky that I wasn't the one paying the bill because I would have left her my two sense when signing for it.

Friday evening we gathered our things for our last, long training ride we had mapped out. We were up and out the door early Saturday morning and had a 50 minute drive to our starting location. 

[Side note: This was our planned ride. Actually, that's a lie. See that big hill around mile 48, that was not planned for. That was a wrong turn go horribly wrong. Two miles up that hill it started to downpour. During the third mile of that hill I threw in the towel. Erik was convinced we were on track but I was not. I wanted out, and so I quit. We sailed down the hill and insanely fast speeds and once we were back on track I decided to stick out the remainder of our ride instead of heading back to the car early. As Erik would later mention the only time he ever sees me angry, frustrated, yell or cry is on really big hills.]

On the way to our ride my stomach decided that it wasn't cooperate and I struggled to remain seated upright. When we pulled into the start location, Erik got the bikes ready and I sat hunched over in pain in the front seat. We were waiting for Erik's boss to show up since he was riding part of the ride with us, but I secretly hoped that he had forgotten so that we could call it quits. Of course, his boss showed up and we started to ride. Luckily the pain in my stomach subsided for the majority of the first twenty miles and it really only acted up when we stopped for a quick break. However, by mile 30 or so I was itching for a bathroom. We quickly made our way into a nearby town were I luckily found a much needed bathroom inside a cafe. 

As we continued on, I felt worse and worse. My pace slowed significantly and then I started seeing double. We quickly stopped a t a pull off and Erik forced me to eat as I gagged down food. After a long than planned rest stop we cycled on. It started to sprinkle and we passed a group of cyclists dashing back around the reservoir to beat the rain. Luckily, Erik and I are both unphased by the rain, so we peddled on. Erik made a turn are we quickly came across a steep incline. Erik's boss who had left us miles and miles ago had mentioned the the ride back would be "fast with nice paved roads, wide shoulders and no real inclines." The shoulder on this road disappeared and after a quick discussion we went with Erik's choice. I was feeling to crappy to argue my point anyways. If you read the side note above, you know the outcome of this. I quit. I was dizzy, nauseous and defeated. With face was dripping with cold rain and tears and I was done. 

However, the ride down the steep climb was a bit sketchy itself...the heavy downpour paired with cold cyclists made the ride difficult. My brakes were soaked and I had trouble scratching off speed. As my speed easily climbed above 30 I envisioned hitting one wrong bump and skidding across the pavement. Obviously, this is a great thing to think while cycling, but luckily we both made it down safely, just with a added 1 or 2 of water in our shoes.

By the time we made it back to the main and correct road, we found a shelter and consulted a map in a park pull off. I ate some snacks and it appeared that the rain had cooled by system down enough that I actually felt good. We continued on and our speeds picked up to my normal pace and we easily made it back to our car, however our mileage was only at 69. My goal for the ride was 80, so I made the executive decision to continue onward. We rode a mild out and back to bring our total mileage to 80.5 for the day and ultimately I could have continued to make it 100. 

Knowing that I can complete 80 miles, even with stomach issues, makes me confident that I will have no problem finishing the century ride in less than two weeks. My goal though, it to not doubt my abilities so much, or get frustrated at Erik, and just to enjoy the ride and HAVE FUN.

Tuesday, July 3

Camping and UCI Mountain Biking World Cup

This weekend I camped. 

Fun Fact: I do not camp. I never have and never wanted to.

But yeah, it happened, and I survived and now I can write this amazing post. Anyways, Saturday morning we headed about one and a half hours away to the Catskills to Windham Mountain for the UCI Mountain Biking World Cup. Since Erik is way more into mountain biking than road biking it's something he's talked about going to since day 1 of dating. This weekend we finally spent a entire weekend doing all the things he has wanted to do so that was a nice change up. Basically there were a bunch of different races going on in different age groups and experience levels. Saturday we watched the real pros compete for a variety of levels including the Olympic athletes which was really cool to see. We watched the Cross Country races for both the men and women and watched a few downhill runs too. By about 4 PM we headed to our campsite which was nicely named "Devils Tombstone."

This is our tent. It was kinda small and trapped all the heat so it was super sweaty.
We quickly set up our tent and got to work on dinner. Well actually Erik got to work on dinner...I practiced my photography skills. After we had dinner Erik decided to break out his this hammock was supposed to be made for 2 people but they clearly lied because getting two people in this thing was impossible. Instead Erik decided to take photos in the cocoon hammock.
Hmm...maybe I should have cooked dinner while he practiced his camera skill.
The camping was OK, definitely not the highlight of my weekend. The only amenity was running water from a faucet on the side of the road. The bathrooms were called "comfort stations" but I guess the comfort was the fact that the hole in the ground had crazy heavy toilet seats. Of course after a day of sunscreen, dirt, dust, sweat, and bug spray all I wanted to do was shower. The showers were located 8 miles up the road at another campground and the shower privileged ended at 8PM. Of course it was after 8 and thus no shower occurred. Instead I may have stealthily washed up near the water faucet...the campsite rules stated that you weren't supposed to wash pots and pans our under it but it said nothing about my face. 

I also didn't realize how boring camping gets when it gets dark out and everyone goes to bed. Since the majority of our neighbors were racing their bikes in the morning it seemed by 8:30 or so everyone was asleep. We retreated to our tent and had part two of our photo shoot.

It only took us about 100 pictures to get one that is normal looking.
Photo shoot over please.
One set of our neighbors decided that "quiet hours" were overrated and started their part at 12:30AM with a drunk fest...of course when you wake up to people yelling loudly in a language that is not English you tend to get a bit confused to where you actually are. What's more confusing is when you wake up to flashlights shining inside your tent from said drunk, non English speaking, neighbors. I definitely was not a happy camper but luckily by 1:15 they had passed out.

We were up at 6:30 the next morning so we could head back over the mountain for some more race spectating. Erik did a great job at getting things going and getting breakfast ready as I watched from the tent. I know, I know, I am a great camper...

Erik's friend Dave was racing at 8 AM in the single speed category 1 men's division so we headed back to the mountain and picked out a place to watch the start.

Dave is in the blue. He came in second place! He's pretty darn speedy.
We hiked up the course a bit and found a spot in the shade since Sunday was pretty darn disgusting heat wise. I was able to snap a few pictures.

We grabbed spots next to Kabush Falls and you could definitely tell the skill level by the way these rides went down this section. As the morning went on the skill level of the categories decreased and the crashes and falls exploded in number. By the end of the morning we were covered in a redish dust from all the dirt flying from the course. 

Erik's friend Dave had tried to get Erik to race in the open category for first time races and Erik decided not too. Dave and Erik ride mountain bikes every Friday night together with the bike shop we both have bikes from and I'm sure Erik could have easily had a blast competing on the course. As the day went on it was obvious that he had wished he wanted to race. I have a feeling next year I will out on the course with a cowbell watching Erik racing.

It was definitely a great weekend and I am looking forward to next years race weekend already!