Thursday, April 26, 2012

Two weekend rides - Saturday & Sunday, 22-23 April

This weekend I went on two pretty spectacular rides (and they were spectacular for very different reasons).

On Saturday we rode down in the flats of Peachtree City. I got out a few minutes behind everyone else, though I'd been planning to ride up, because Strava couldn't get my location via GPS. That was frustrating. I took it in stride, though, and gradually caught and passed people. Then I saw the A- group not too far ahead. I told V and H my plan to catch them, and really went after it. The two of them hopped on my wheel, and I went balls-out to catch them. I finally did, after crushing it for 6.5 miles. That was the mistake. L was leading them, and she was on fire. Had I started with that group, I could have stayed with them the whole ride. As it was, starting off on a chase, cold, really burned out my legs. V, H, and I hung with them for the most part into the first SAG, and then fell back with a few others from that group and rode our own (lively) ride the rest of the day.

My legs felt the whole thing, and I was dead tired by the end of it. But, it was great to know that I could catch the group. The next goal is to be able to hang with a group I've caught. Even though my legs were complaining for the remainder of the 54 miles, it was a great ride. I was with a bunch of teammates I hadn't ridden with before, and it was a lot of fun. I love riding down there, to.


Maximum speed: 34.7 mph
Average speed: 15.7 mph
Distance: 59.32 mi
time: 3.45.53

I'm a little annoyed at the average, because it fell off dramatically over the last few miles. It HAD been over 16 mph.


Sunday was a typical KSR: I rode out to the mountain and back (no loops), and took it at a very comfortable, recovery pace. I reflected afterward that it was the first true recovery ride I've had all season, in that I kept my heart rate and effort low. The reason this was an especially noteworthy ride, however, is that Miss KK and SC rejoined. Now, S I had seen in the last few months, but it had been about half a year since seeing KK, and I missed her terribly. She's one of my favorite people. We spent the ride catching up, and everything is going so well for her I could just burst.

So that's why Sunday was great: I got to see my friend again.

Maximum speed: 30.8 mph
Average speed: 12.2 mph
Distance: 28.37 mi
Time 2.18.34

Again, it was a great ride with great conversation. I had to keep it short so I could help in Tucker with Tomato Fest 2012 (and herbfest and maplefest), but I am looking forward (again? still?) to the rest of the season.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Viva Bike Vegas!

I know it seems like a typical Megan-thing to do to so cleverly and humorously name a ride or post, but not so. It is now official: I am a proud mentor of the 2012 Viva Bike Vegas Gran Fondo team for TNT. This is a new event added to our repetoire, and knowing the support staff and coaches, it will be a great event as well. That's right, I get to ride all over, from the Vegas Strip to the Hoover dam. It's another dam bike ride, and I couldn't be more excited.

But, that means I broke a tacit promise I made to you, my friends and supporters, which was to only fundraise once a year. I am asking you to continue stepping up so admirably by giving me your money. And, by "me" I mean the 100,000+ people in the United States who will be diagnosed with a blood cancer this year. My goal for the summer is to raise $2,500 by 22 September.

Let me break it down for you:

• $100 will pay for 1 round trip per day for 5 days for a patient living in rural Georgia to drive to treatment in Atlanta

$42 will pay for 1 anti-nausea pill for a person in treatment

• $30 allows 1 patient to make a First Connection with a trained peer volunteer.

• $20 will help pay for 1 round trip per day for 5 days of treatment at a facility for an urban patient.

• $5 will cover the costs to send a packet to a newly diagnosed patient, which includes information on support and their specific disease.

All of these items are important aspects of LLS' mission to eradicate blood cancers and to support and educate patients and their families. I highlight the second one, however, because Holy Crap, cancer is expensive. Some perspective is useful here: your donation makes a difference in a big way.

So, how can you help? Any number of ways, the biggest being the following:

1. Share this webpage with your friends, family, and co-workers. Everyone (and I do mean everyone) has been impacted by cancer, either personally or via family and friends. Join the fight.

2. Click the green "donate now" button over there on the right. It can be any amount. Do it for yourself or in the name of a friend. Do it as a birthday gift (ahem - mine is fast approaching) or a wedding gift, or in memory of someone.

3. Order cookies or other baked goods from yours truly (price list coming soon, some special requests honored), or otherwise pay attention here for incentives and, calling a spade a spade, gimmicks to get you to help me help others.


Let the giving begin, and thank you!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kirkwood Sunday Ride - Sunday, 15 April

Seriously, after the raging success of Saturday's ride, this week's Sunday ride hardly registers. It was remarkable, however, for several reasons:

1. It was the largest group I've seen on a KSR this year
2. DE-N came, and I hadn't ridden with her in ages
3. The people who did come were not only the hard-core or in training regulars

We had a great group of 10-15 cyclists total, and the weather couldn't have been more agreeable. There was a time on the way back when the wind picked up and the sky clouded over, but only a few drops sprinkled down before nature righted herself and we were where we should have been all along.

I opted out of loops; though I didn't push very hard on Saturday, my legs still felt the hills. Apparently, riding the Gaps below pace is also tiring. Even so, it was a great ride.


Maximum speed: 32.0 mph
Average speed: 13.4 mph
Distance: 29.66 mi
Time: 2.12.29

Details and map can be found here.

Training Ride - Saturday, 14 April

I volunteered to be Lanterne Rouge for the team's first ride in the Gaps, which was this past Saturday. That meant I had the joy and pleasure of riding with Miss L, with whom I had ridden only one other time this season (and promptly got her (and two others) lost, inviting an extra 5 miles and long climbs in only the 4th ride of the season for the all-sport GTS). I vowed not to add any extra hills or miles this weekend, and we took off.

We had an early technical problem, in that she couldn't get out of the big ring in front. Although the route called for a short, 3-mile out and back for warmup, there were still enough hills from the get-go for this to be an issue. Knowing there were several thousand feet of climbing ahead of us, this had to be fixed. Fortunately, it was fixed fairly easily via a simple adjustment of the barrel (the difficulty coming from frozen fingers), and we rode back to the base of Neel's Gap and started the climb. We stopped only once, about an hour into the ride, so she could drink and refuel, but let it be noted that this was pretty close to the top of the climb itself (about 2.5 mi out). We quickly drank and refueled before taking a cautious descent past Vogel State Park onto Wolfpen Gap Road, which is the base of Wolfpen Gap. We stopped a couple times due to the steepness, but made it up in less than an hour (the second stop was a few hundred yards from the summit), and with another technical problem: she was having a harder and harder time unclipping, causing a fall trying to get going after the second stop. We got back on and kept going, however, because L is a trooper and it was a great day.

At the SAG at the top of Wolfpen, we spent less than 10 minutes, having just rehydrated and refueled (though I dug into the Pringles quite happily), and then started off, taking another cautious ride down the more technical descent that is Wolfpen. We hit the rolling terrain out to Suches strongly, at which point I told her that if I looked back and saw her coasting, she would be fined $1 for each infraction. I quickly made $6 (she's so honest!), and then we hit a long, slow (though not too steep) climb out of the woods into the farm country, a couple miles out from Suches itself. And that's when the mechanicals really came into play. First, nearly the crest of the climb, L couldn't shift out of the big ring again. She powered up as far as she could go, also having problems unclipping. We got to a more level area, got her off the bike, and fixed the shifting issue.

Two times we tried to get going, and two times we had a fall because of the tightness of the pedal. Frustrated, but not out, we walked the short distance to the top, got on again, and rode about 5 feet before she announced two things: her saddle had been knocked askew in on of the falls, and she couldn't get out of the pedals to stop. In dramatic fashion, I ditched my bike, ran up and caught her bike so she could get out. I called up to the coaches (on Woody for the second time at that point) to ask how to loosen her type of pedal, and another rider came by with an appropriate-sized allen wrench. Saddle and pedal now adjusted, after a half-hour of discouragement, we rode down to the gas station at Suches. I asked if she wanted to stop to get some pop for the sugar and caffeine, and she declined. That's when we saw J, who had ridden back down to meet us, so we stopped quickly anyway. We started up Woody, which L just powered through, took some pictures at the top, and rode off. I told her to go in front of me and to keep pedalling, even if she wasn't pushing. She BOMBED down that hill, where I was working in points to keep up with her. She masterfully worked through 7 miles of winding descent, and then booked it the final 5 miles back to the start.

We had an AMAZING day, talking about everything from her training, her reason for doing TNT in the first place, what made her decide to cycle instead of run this season, and my nonsense (Her: how long have you been riding? Me: Seven years. Her: Oh my goodness! Me: Well, it hasn't been constant. I do sleep) and cheering her on (which she really didn't need). I love this ride, I was so grateful to share it with her, as descending and riding at speed is a major fear for her, and she NAILED it. Seriously, I can't say enough how awesome the day and ride were.


Maximum speed: 32.1 mph
Average speed: 9.4 mph
Distance: 38.01 mi
Time: 4.00.52

Details and map here.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Quilt Update!

As you loyal readers all know, ARA finished the quilt. It arrived, quilted and bound, earlier this week, and in person it is even more lovely than in the photos. This is the first time that the raffle quilt will have been completed BEFORE the raffle drawing itself. You lucky devils!

Many special thanks to ARA for making such a beautiful quilt (her blog can be found here, where you can see other projects she is working on) and to her friend Lynn, of Lynn's Obsession, for completing the beautiful quilting itself.

ARA and Lynn have both done a number of charity quilting projects. Last year, Lynn made (from start to finish) 87 quilts to be donated to the Wilkes-Barre VA hospital for the Jimmy Project, so named for her brother (much of the fabric was from her own stash, and another...300? yards was donated by a local quilt shop). Some photos, that don't do the volume of work required justice, are here. ARA has participated in another project, which involves making quilts for returning wounded veterans. I am grateful to have so supportive and active a family (and that they, in turn, have such wonderful friends).

Remember, all it takes is a $5 donation to be eligible for the raffle. The full schedule of prices:

$5 = 1 chance
$20 = 5 chances
$50 = 15 chances
$100 = 50 chances

The drawing will be held on or around Memorial Day, and I will notify the winner by e-mail and announce it here in the blog as well. The quilt is 100% cotton with a polyester batting. It measures 74" by 87" (it's HUGE!)

 May the odds be ever in your favor!

Weekday ride - Thursday, 12 April

I felt great yesterday. There's no other way to put it. On Wednesday I had done a brick with my buddy Dr. D, and my quads were REALLY tight and sore after the run. No matter. I commuted in yesterday, expecting to want to take it easy because of the soreness, and instead I just blew it up on the way there. I can't help but wonder if it was the difference in weight between the Fuji from earlier and the Felt, but it seems like only one day on Fuji (and then a couple days off completely) wouldn't make that much of a difference. Maybe it did... maybe it did.

In any event, my legs were still tight after getting to school, even the the commute was a personal best (slightly different route than usual, cutting out a number of traffic signals), and I figured that the Brookhaven ride was going to be nice and easy.


I got out of the parking lot and just lit it up. I immediately felt good, not even requiring my usual warmup to shake the acid out. I felt GREAT going up the first climb (which on any other day just sneaks up on me and takes out any momentum I'd built) and then I just kept going. I fishtailed a bit on some debris a couple times in the switchbacks, but still kept my line and kept going. I got to the top of the first loop and didn't see any of the lead group. I checked my time, as usual, expecting them to have just ridden off without waiting. Well, less than 3 minutes later I came around to the regroup area, and there they were, having just stopped a moment before. Rather than wait too long, I stopped, had some water, and took off again. I was really feeling good, and though the lead group caught me almost immediately after I left, I had them in my sights almost the entire length of the lower loop (losing them primarily because of a bad driver and an ill-time bud-swallowing).

The second time around, I told myself that for sure I was going to ease off. I could feel the acid building in my legs. BUT I JUST COULDN'T. Again, I just went after it, and it paid off. I felt great during and after the whole ride, and, best of all, I PRd. I'll take that.

It was a fantastic night out.


Maximum speed: 30.5 mph
Average speed: 16.0 mph
Distance: 20.31 mi
Time: 1.15.52

Details and map here.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Commute - Monday, 9 April

Again, I won't be posting my my commutes regularly (though they will all be uploaded to strava, for those interested), but today was the first full commute of the year. Once or twice I think I rode to school, only to be picked up by G on the way to trainer class, and the other days of the week I was either doing bricks or giving myself some recovery time and opted to drive. Lame? Indeed.

I rode the Fuji to school, with one pannier semi-full of clothes. It was a gorgeous, cool morning and a sunny, warm afternoon. While I was VERY tired on the way out and my legs protested most of it, it was still a good ride. The more I ride the Fuji, the better I'll get because of the extra weight. I hope to return to last summer/fall's routine of riding in almost daily. It'll be harder to do because G works at Perimeter now and won't be able to gather me and my things before TR rides, but MWF should still work out, more or less.

Stats (to and from school, respectively):

Maximum speed: 44.4 mph (I think there was a hiccup in the GPS there)
Average speed: 12.1 mph
Distance: 7.4 mi
Time: 0.36.35

Maximum speed: 37.2 mph
Average speed: 13.5 mph
Distance: 8.6 mi
Time: 0.38.17

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Kirkwood Sunday Ride - Sunday, 8 April

Happy Easter (and Passover), friends! This morning, feeling the burn from yesterday's ride, I knew I wanted to take it fairly easy and to just stretch the legs on a ride. The only other person to show up at Marche's was D, with whom I've ridden before, and we found a comfortable pace and kept the conversation flowing just as smoothly. Given Easter brunch in Tucker around 1, I only wanted to do a couple hours for recovery: about an hour in (we rode the reverse route to Central Ave near Stone Mountain) and then took another easy (not even rolling) route back to the path. I could definitely feel yesterday's half in my legs, but it was a good ride with beautiful weather.


Maximum speed: 28.8 mph
Average speed: 14.2 mph
Distance: 23.11 mi
Time: 1.37.18

Details and map can be found here.

Training Ride - Saturday, 7 April

Yesterday we all had the insanely special treat of riding with Tyler Hamilton (former professional cyclist and Olympic gold medalist) and Jim Capra (head coach of Tyler Hamilton Training). At dinner on Friday night we got to visit with both of them, and they are incredibly cool guys.

It happened this way (the best I can discern). L and C, who first started cycling two years ago on the Wilson team, had been following professional cycling for several years, and decided to start tweeting Tyler. He, being the cool dude he is, responded. They went out that summer (only a couple months into the sport) to ride and train with him in Boulder, CO, where he and Jim live and work. A friendship was born, and they've been out there several more times in the last few years. L, a mentor on this year's Tahoe team, suggested at the beginning of the season that she invite him out to ride with us one weekend. That weekend is THIS weekend. That's how I met a legend.

This weekend we rode 50 miles out of Hard Labor Creek, which is a ride I'd never done but traditionally is well-attended, and there's a cookout after. Nature, knowing that this was the plan, cooperated magnificently, giving us some of the best weather we've had yet this year. The intent was for them to ride up and back with everyone on the team, but they got out with the slower groups and never made it up to the front, which is too bad. Being in the back/middle, I got an inordinate amount of time with them, which was enjoyable to say the least. I had a great day and rode with a bunch of different people throughout, finishing on Jim's wheel (until he dropped me on a stupid small climb going into the park).

The cookout was brilliant and it was great to see so many other friends, too.


Maximum speed: 37.0 mph
Average speed: 14.9 mph
Distance: 50.58 mi
Time: 3.22.16

Map and details can be found here.

ETA: I left out the most crucial detail of the day: at around mile 40, I ran over a goddamn (dead) snake. My instantaneous reaction was a scream and shuddering, the latter of which lasted for the next several minutes. It. Was. Awful. I felt it under both tires AND, as it was all windy, multiple times. *shudder*

Friday, April 6, 2012

Weekday Ride - Thursday, 5 April

Last night we rode in Brookhaven, and I had the pleasure of riding with S and E for the first time since November. It was a real treat. S is training for her second IM (Canada) and so I rode her training plan with her (as best I could without a heart rate monitor). We had a good ride, and as it was a recovery week for her and recovery day for me, it wasn't too hard. I felt surprisingly good given the Gaps ride the day before, and easily got in the full 20 miles with the pleasant company and once again perfect weather.

Maximum speed: 31.1 mph
Average speed: 14.4 mph
Distance: 20.15 mi
Time: 1.23.38

Details and map can be found here.

Weekday Ride - Wednesday, 4 April

The title of this post is an understatement of close to the highest order. It wasn't just a weekday ride, it was a Ladies' Day Ride in the Gaps. L, N, VR, VW, and I took the morning off to ride the front three gaps up in the North Georgia mountains. It was the first time for everyone but L and me, and from beginning to end it was a great day (except where I spilled my entire coffee on the floor in the back of my car). N and VW are riding Fletcher this season, and so they won't be joining the Tahoe team on either of the Gaps rides we have planned for GTRs. VR wanted to have the ride under her belt once before tackling the challenging course with the additional responsibilities of mentoring other riders up the climb.

Let me tell you, it was amazing. The weather was cooperative in the best way: cool and sunny and a light breeze throughout (until 5 miles from the end where it whipped up and got a ton of small debris in our eyes). The promised rain was nowhere to be seen, and the other cyclists out and about were friendly and encouraging. I love riding up there, because I love the challenge of the hills, the whizzing descents, and the beautiful country roads. The views at each summit are lovely and inspiring, and the rolling road out to Suchess is fast and enjoyable.

I made it up Neel Gap in good time: we hit the bottom and I found a comfortable rhythm and cadence (about 70rpm) and just took off. I knew I could maintain it for the duration of the climb (51 minutes from Turner's Corner to the summit). L bridged the gap and rode the second half up with me. We clearly took more time at the top than my legs would have liked, because when we got to Wolfpen and the rollers to Suchess my legs were toast. Lesson learned: keep moving and don't let your body cool off. Even with the tired legs, however, I was able to "bomb" down the hills, which are technical (Wolfpen) and fast... and satisfying.

I was pleased with myself in terms of hydration and nutrition: I got it exactly right, such that riding back in to the store I found myself hungry but with plenty of energy.

I am looking forward to taking the team up there next weekend, and though I am nervous because I volunteered to sweep the ride, I think it will be a great day for everyone. I don't think there's anyone who's going that won't be able to do this ride, and I am looking forward to sharing in their pride for a hard job and daunting challenge mastered.


Maximum speed: 36.9 mph (Strava says 44.8, which would be nice if it were true...)
Average speed: 13.0 mph
Distance: 38.00 mi
Time: 2.54.12

It was a completely great day.

Strava details can be found here.