Wednesday, April 24

Monday night I rushed home from work, unloaded my bike from my car, and got ready for a ride all in about 10 minutes. After double checking my gear I took off on my bike. I had a nice loop planned out and like every other ride this year the wind was in full force. Heading out wasn't too tough, but I was battling wind whipping at me from the side. About 35 minutes into my ride I found my turn off for the climb I had planned. You can see the climb below, it was just under 600 feet of climbing and honestly one of the toughest hills I've ever climbed.

As I grinded along in the lowest gears possible I kept thinking that I was insane. I'm not the person that purposely finds climbs to ride, I'm usually the one planning my route to detour around them. About three quarters of the way up I knew that I had my first "out" or in other words my escape route. If I was too tired to continue to the top I would just take this road and I'd be in the clear for climbing. When I approached my out I was greeted with a gravel road and a big sign informing me that it was a seasonal highway. I was actually happy when I saw it because it meant I had to suck it up and continue on. As I crested the top of the climb I didn't see the road continuing. Instead I was greeted by another seasonal gravel highway. I'll use the term gravel loosely here because it's not one of those nice packed gravel trails, it's rocky and messy and not suitable for road bikes.

As I was climbing this hill I kept thinking that I would hate to have to go down the same road. Loose gravel on the shoulder and insanely steep sections would make a fast descent that seemed a bit dangerous, especially while riding alone. So here I was at the top of the climb trying to come up with a plan on how to descend it without covering myself in road rash. I briefly considered calling my parents and having them pick me up but I'm sure they wouldn't have appreciate the 40 minute drive to rescue me from a hill I intentionally climbed. Walking my bike down the 1+ mile didn't sound appealing, so I decided to use my brakes and keep myself at a slow speed and work my way down comfortably. Even with my death grips on my brakes I still proceeded down faster than I would have liked and let out quite a few expletives on the way down.

I'm trying to get used to the fact that when I choose to do hard climbs that also means that my average speed is going to drop way down. Going into the climb I was averaging around 18 mph and after the climb I dropped into the low 14's. My 6+ mile almost flat ride home couldn't even bring my speed up that much. I know speed isn't everything and I'm pushing myself on climbs I wouldn't have even considered doing last year. In the end I think that's all that really matters.

When people question my motives for moving where I moved I should just start showing them pictures at the tops of these climbs. It's so amazing to be able to leave my house and within minutes be out in the countryside just enjoying something that I love. A 25 minute commute to work is totally worth it for the cycling alone. I guess if you're a cyclist you'd understand, but as so many of my coworkers are not they usually decide that I must be crazy or something.

Friday, April 19

Cycling season is officially upon us and I couldn't be any more excited about it. Last weekend I took my bike off my trainer and even swamped my back tire for my fancy road one. Of course the weather this past weekend was iffy at best for riding. It was about 35 degrees and windy which meant by the time we got back inside my feet were completely white. I'm also getting over a really nasty cold/virus/flu combination of sorts so the ride was pretty miserable. I don't know about you but when you can't breathe through your nose and you are hacking up grossness the ride just doesn't seem as awesome as it should.

But I won't dwell on the past weekend, instead lets discuss the awesome ride that happened last night. I rushed home after work and shoved some peanut butter pretzels down as some preride fuel. I don't even like peanut butter but those pretzels are the best thing ever. Anyways, I quickly got on the road and headed north where I was met with a full force of wind. I rode into the wind for about 8 miles which is way worse that any hill climb unless of course you find a hill with a 8 mile climb and in that case you win that battle. Once I reached the next town, I turned and headed east and made my way to my first climb. Usually I hate climbing, but since the climb was pretty much completely sheltered from the wind I actually enjoyed it. Once I got up the hill I headed through the countryside and it so great. The weather was perfect and then sun was out. It's a good thing I didn't pass too many cars along the way because I had a smile plastered one my face as I rode along.

As I headed to the next Strava climb I ended up making a wrong turn so I thought I would just pull over and turn around. The road was pretty pitched to both sides and so as I slowed down I unclipped my left foot and leaned to my right side. Notice I did not unclip my right foot or lean to the left since my left foot was free. Nope, I just awkwardly fell over onto the ground. I was barely moving at the time so it was pretty hilarious. I quickly got up and looked around to see if I had any witnesses to my awesomeness. Thankfully no one was in sight.

It's weird blogging about biking again. I guess I could have blogged about it all through winter but trainer rides don't really seem all that exciting. For the most part I would just ride at a pretty hard effort for my rides and would bike away watching the Tour De France (2001 and 2005 races). According to my workout log I put about 1,100 miles on my trainer and spent over 65 hours on my bike this winter. Frayed Laces posted Trainer Tuesdays with great trainer workout ideas which helped curve my boredom. Since it was my first trainer winter I have nothing to compare it to so it seems like an acceptable amount. I guess that fact that I'm out riding as strong/if not stronger than I was last fall seems like a bonus and a real exciting benefit of trainer sessions.

As I look over the combined race calenders between me and the boy it's looking as though spring through the end of July will be filled with weekends at various races. Actually the madness starts this Sunday with Erik's first Hike-A-Bike. I'll be spectating his mountain bike races so I'm prepared with a Kindle full of books and a chair. While mountain bike races aren't the most awesome events to spectate since you can't really see very much of the race it still seems wise to tag along in case something doesn't go as planed. After Erik's last race where he finished with a concussion I definitely feel better at least being there just in case.

My first race is a week from Sunday and it's a circuit style race, 1.6 mile loop course, that I'll race around 13 times. Since I spent the majority of weeknights last summer riding circles around my parents neighborhood I feel confident that I can keep myself amused enough for 20+ miles. Plus, there should be plenty of people on the course to try and keep up with which should prove to be interesting. Here's to hoping though that I remember to unclip correctly!

[If you're on Strava we should totally be friends...if you are not on Strava you should totally join and once again we should totally be friends! All you need is a Smartphone or GPS device. I swear I do not work for nor am I affiliated with Strava in any way...I just really like it]