Sunday, February 27, 2011

Recovery Ride - Sunday, 27 February

Today, like last Sunday, I joined the Kirkwood group for the ride. It was the same route as last week, with a few minor tweaks once we got to the village of Stone Mountain, but still a good ride. I was worried after yesterday's hills that today would suck and it only did a little bit: I kept hydrated and had my fig newtons at about the half-way point, so I think that was all it took. I can definitely feel that my legs are tired now, and I'll have to do like a 30 minute recovery on the Freedom Parkway path or stationary tomorrow to really stretch them out.

Even so, I'm not nearly as tired as I thought I might be after yesterday, which goes to prove that I could've/should've pushed harder on the GTR than I did. I won't get the opportunity to very often.


Maximum speed: 29.8 mph
Average speed: 12.7 mph
Distance: 33.01 mi
Time: 2.35.49

Again, not bad. I won't lie: I'm really looking forward to riding in Cherokee County next Saturday: it'll make Sunday so much sweeter : )

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Training ride - Saturday, 26 February

Today's GTR was out of Atlanta Cycling in Vinings. We had a later start than usual, because of a bike cleaning clinic held at the shop prior to our usual pre-ride meeting. It started out chilly (added a second layer of sleeves), but warmed up quickly with the sun. We knew, too, that it was going to be a hilly ride (these were some of the same hills that I loathed at the end of last season) so the coolness was welcome.

I had expressed concern on the descents planned for the ride (up to a -6% grade), which can be terrifying for less experienced cyclists. I can't believe I was worried about that and not the climbs. Here's a map... notice the profile:

At mile 18 we started a 3% climb, which lasted a mile. At mile 23.8, we started a 4% climb that lasted for about a quarter mile which, believe me, was long enough. I hit that hill and immediately started doing switchbacks: there was simply no momentum and no other way to get to the top without walking. It was absurd. **I insert here that another mentor/part-time coach said that the second climb was actually 12%


Maximum speed: 40.1 mph (and I was feathering the brakes!! wooooohoo!)
Average speed: 12.1 mph
Distance: 26.33 mi
Time: 2.10.34

Absurdity aside, it was a GREAT ride, and I felt awesome after every ascent and, especially, after every descent. There's nothing quite so sweet as a payoff like that. I felt really good: I hydrated along the way, ate wisely before and during the ride, and just felt superb. I was able to ride a little selfishly today, having hung back the last three weeks (without regret), though I feel a little guilty. Fortunately, I caught the guys leading the pack, and we all joined up with C and L (teammates from the Wilson) and rode out the rest together. It was maybe a little slower than I would have done, but just as well, as I intend to ride the Stone Mountain ride tomorrow and it wouldn't do not to have any legs.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Recovery Ride - Monday, 21 February

As planned a week ago, V and I went out for a nice ride this afternoon. She had the day off and I disregarded my responsibilities (again), so we went to the Silver Comet for an easy out-and-back. I'll tell you, I could definitely feel the weakness after yesterday's sojourn (especially in my arms, bizarro), so I'm glad we took it pretty easy. I forgot to restart my computer, so my stats are only partial. I borrowed V's for the rest.

Stats (mine):

Maximum speed: 18.4 mph
Average speed: 13.3 mph
Distance: 14.12 mi
Time: 1.03.37

Maximum speed: 18.45 mph
Average speed: 12.11 mph
Distance: 16.46 mi
Time: 1.21.00

So I missed quite a bit of time there. She and I rode together the whole way, so the discrepancy in speed must be due to a hill or just differences between my computer and her GPS. Weird.

Anyway, it was SO great to ride with her. We'll be spending a lot of quality time together this season, which I'm looking forward to. We hung out pretty regularly the last couple years of undergrad, so it will be good to get to do so again.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Recovery" Ride - Sunday, 20 February

Today was awesome. It was the first time I really got to ride somewhat selfishly since training began, and it was amazing. We rode out from Kirkwood Public House to Stone Mountain (closely following the path), did a short loop (~5 mi) around the mountain, and then back. I had the option (twice) to lengthen the ride, by either riding to/from the start (+8 mi) or going an extra 15 through Grant Park with the ride leader and another cyclist. I opted out, and am kicking myself a little for it, but I also know it's probably good in some ways to not just go too hard on the first real ride.


Maximum speed: 30.6 mph
Average speed: 13.0 mph
Distance: 32.63 mi
Time: 2.29.57

Like I said, a pretty good ride. There was a great mix of hills and flats, of smooth roads and less-smooth roads, and the traffic was at a minimum. Despite the cloudy (and lingering-ly chilly) start to the morning, there was a surprising number of people out and about at the park (and not just cyclists).

Really, it could just be the endorphins talking, but I feel freaking GREAT today and I think it was a spectacular ride with a good group of people. This is what it's all about, folks.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Quilt Progress: top (almost) done!

Like V, I started cutting and piecing my quilt with the long weekend.

Except for the border (because I don't know what fabric to use for it, and possibly may not even HAVE fabric to use for it), the top has been completely pieced.

After agonizing over how to lay out the blocks (seriously, it was a several-hour ordeal), I finally called ARA and she said to do whatever I wanted (which led to more agonizing). Ultimately, I ended up with a pattern that I'm REALLY happy with.

I really like the contrast the red and the deep brown make with the lighter colors, and I'm really pleased in general how it turned out.

Training ride - Saturday,19 February

Today's GTR was a couple of the usual Brookhaven loops. I say usual as if I had ever actually been to one last year, but I digress. I rode with D today, who rode a metric century a couple years ago on her own, but is new to the team, to clips, to really shifting, and to formal training. She had a couple falls, but was a joy to ride with, and she is a power house on the flats and the downhills. D is a ray of light, and was so upbeat and positive, I had a great time riding with her. It was a slow ride, but I didn't really notice, because I could see progress over the couple hours.



Maximum speed: 24.7 mph
Average speeD: 9.8 mph
Distance: 21.44 mi
Time: 2.10.05

It was another gorgeous day, too, and so I'm REALLY looking forward to the faster ride tomorrow morning and riding with V on Monday afternoon.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Your Personal Heroes

Those receiving my fundraising letter will already know this, but for those of you who've found this page online via happenstance, Facebook, or my training blog are likely unaware of a new dimension I am adding to the ride this year.

This year, I will be riding in honor and in memory of all of my donors' personal heroes, by sewing a purple ribbon to my jersey, with the name of each hero written on it. If you are making an online donation and would like your hero to ride with me, please indicate that in your comments or in the "In Memory/Honor of" box of the form. It will be my honor to ride with them.

I am doing this because a number of TEAMmates last year ran a similar campaign, and the end result was an incredibly emotional, moving tribute to the brave souls who fight cancer without having a say as to whether they wanted to join the battle. These ribbons serve as a reminder for what this mission is all about.

(cross-posted to my fundraising page)

Recovery Ride - Sunday, 13 February

I was thrilled to finally get to ride with V today, after having twisted her arm in getting her to join TNT. We rode a 7.5mi out-and-back on the Silver Comet with another TEAMmate, T. T is an interesting, fun lady. Last year, her sister (whose leukemia is in remission) rode Tahoe with the TEAM, and asked T for one (compound) thing for Christmas: to get healthy, quit smoking, lose weight, ride Tahoe with her, and to LIVE. Last week, T quit smoking, and this week was T's first ride with the team. I'm so excited for her, and I think she's going to be great. She was a lot of fun to ride with.

Here I am, post-ride (and post-dog-walk), cool as a cucumber. Besides adding that the weather was gorgeous (a brilliant, sunny 60-degree day), I don't have much to add. The ride was a little slower than perhaps a good recovery should be, but still was satisfying because I was able to coach T and V a bit in shifting, unclipping, and other pieces of cycling tech.

Maximum speed: 17.2 mph
Average speed: 9.7 mph
Distance: 14.22 mi
Time: 1.27.09

All in all, a good day. I really am going to start riding three-day weekends, though, so that I have a two-day recovery (Saturday and Sunday) after an intense Friday. We'll see how that goes.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Training ride - Saturday,12 February

Today was another cold start that ended in warm satisfaction, and not just because I got a free massage at the end.

It was a chilly 29 when I left the apartment to ride over to the park, and we waited around awhile before getting going, but it was sunny and pretty.

I spent about half the ride with some slower riders, which OS going to take getting used to. I have to remember that not everyone there is interested in pushing harder, and that some are there just to finish and ride. This is a totally different way from how I approach rides, so it will be good for me to try something new.

Anyway, because of the speed and cold, it felt like the longest twenty miles ever, but still good. I'm looking forward to riding with V tomorrow as recovery.

Afterwards, because my TEAM has he highest proportion of people who have already raised money, we got to go to the VIP tent, where I got a (painful) massage and other goodies. Yea!

Maximum speed: 24.5 mph
Average speed: 10.8 mph
Distance: 21.27 mi
Time: 2.14.25
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Thursday, February 10, 2011


Not much to say... I rode to school today on the bike and, while the shifting was super fine and easy when I played around with it, I didn't notice much difference. We'll see how it goes on the longer rides this weekend. It's nice to have half my bikes working again, though.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I got the bike back

I'm super excited. Yesterday I got my bike back, complete with new crank and bottom bracket. R at the shop said that not only is it a better crank, but that it's also stiffer. I'm REALLY excited to get on it and ride. It won't happen tonight, unfortunately, because we have a job talk at school that will last until about half an hour before nightfall.

No fear, I will sweat it out at the gym, but I REALLY want to get on the newly improved baby tomorrow. *Cross Fingers*

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Training Ride - Saturday, 5 February

Today was the first GTR of the season, and it started out terribly. Not in any "oh this is too hard sense", more of a "this sucks that we've been standing in 35 degree rain for an hour before starting to ride" sense. But, I digress. What started out with me freezing ended up with perfect rainbow weather (last night's dream == premonition?) and a glorious day all around. The only way the day could have been improved upon is if the glorious weather hadn't waited until mile 13 of 15 to make itself apparent.

Anyway, as I've said, it was freaking cold. I was doing the old shaky-hands to get my fingers to warm up beforehand, but to no avail. At about mile 4, though, I finally felt the pain of frostbite make and actually thought "hello, old friend". Then we hit the one hill (not much of one, but enough to spread the group out) and finally my blood started pumping and I warmed up and, despite the wetness, was sufficiently warm for the rest of the ride.

Which I spent with J. Let me tell you a little about her. She's in her late fifties and, in her own words "a Southern gal". When she was growing up, little girls weren't encouraged to run around and play, so the exercise bug never bit her. However, on a trip to the beach a few years ago, she and her husband rented bikes and she liked it and thought it would be an easy way to get exercise. After returning from that trip, she went out and bought a nice hybrid bike and, as far as I can tell, has only been on a few short trips here and there (except for an accidental 15-miler a few years ago).

Fast forward to today: she rode 15 miles easily on that bike (the first group ride she's ever done), the first time she'd been on major roads with cars, and made it. She is such an inspiration, and THAT is what TNT is about. It's not just for the fast folks for whom centuries, traffic, and group rides are all old hat: it's also for introducing new people to the sport and getting them hooked on something positive and giving them the skills to turn it into a lifetime activity. I, frankly, couldn't have been more proud of her. We rode the last 12 miles of the ride together (after the hill), and it was awesome. She is such a fun lady, very curious about the sport, and I can't wait to ride more with her in the next few months. Thank you, J!


Maximum speed: 24.5 mph
Average speed: 10.3 mph
Distance: 15.41 mi
Time: 1.29.38

I hope to ride another 15 tomorrow, for good measure.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bike Repair

I got my bike back from the shop last night, after taking it in for a mini tune-up and asking them to adjust the ghost shifting in the back. The mechanic hadn't been able to replicate that shifting problem, but saw that the hanger was bent and so she straightened it.

She did say that, on her test rides, the front derailleur was all over the place. YES! I mean, this totally sucks, but FINALLY it acted up while at a shop, and people FINALLY believe me! YES! I'm so glad it's not all in my head.

You may recall that last year, at mile 85 of the Wilson, the front derailleur dropped the chain TWICE in very short time, fng up the chain and the rest of my ride. Well, NO MORE! The mechanics got online and checked a bunch of forums and found out that this front-shifting issue is "endemic to the F80 [model]", and probably a result of poor product design. The problem is with the crank, which is more likely designed for an 8-speed (not a 9-speed, like I have) rear cassette, so the chain gets caught between the rings (and jams). The solution? A new crank.

Now, I love this bike, but you may recall that, as early as my first group ride in the summer of 2005 (a month after getting the bike), I was having problems with the shifting. THIS IS WHY! The solution is obvious. Since I plan on having this bike until it gets stolen or wrecked (neither is particularly appealing), an upgrade like this is well worth it. I CAN'T WAIT!