Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ending One, Beginning Another

This was a weekend that brought the ending of one season and the beginning of another. From snowmobiling on Friday to the first race of the season on Sunday, it was a busy few days!

End of Snowmobile Season - for Us

Friday, Mike and I played hooky from work to go out for what was likely our last snowmobile ride of the season. I say last for us, because given the amounts of snow still up north, they'll be riding in places well into April! There were places where there had to be 5-6 feet of snow still on the ground, and it was snowing while we rode.

We started our ride in Newry, and traveled north to Andover and Byron on trails we had never ridden before. Conditions were excellent, and we only saw 4 other riders all day. We even stopped to explore "Devil's Gap" - a beautiful chasm full of ice flows. The day ended with about 90 miles, and then we headed back home to MA.

Training for Treats

Saturday was a training day for me, and a fairly mellow ride day for Mike. I headed out with some teammates (Cris, Tami and Janet) in below freezing temps. It actually SNOWED while we were out riding - guess Spring still hasn't arrived here ;-). Cris and I split off from Tami and Janet at the top of Nagog Hill, and continued a solid effort through West Acton, South Acton, West Concord, Concord and home. I ended with just about 44 miles, and Mike and I met back up at the house.

Hard efforts deserve yummy rewards - don't you think? This week on the Food Network, Mike saw a show on the best donuts in the country. One of them happens to be in Saugus, MA, so we went on a road trip to Kane's Donuts to see for ourselves ;-). The verdict? VERY yummy donuts, and really big! Definitely good post ride food ;-).

The Beginning of Race Season

This morning, with temps in the high 20s, Mike and a couple hundred other men (and one woman) from the region tested their legs in the first crit of the season in Marblehead, MA.

NEBC men made up almost a third of the racers in the men's 4/5 field, and it was exciting to watch Geoff M in a breakaway for the final 5 laps, and his teammates riding across the front of the peloton to ensure a chase was not in the cards. Unfortunately, Geoff wasn't able to maintain his break in the final lap, but he looked great, and NEBC still finished well with a 5th place finisher! Congrats to the whole team - you looked great out there!

The next race was the Masters race, and Mike was joined by Wayne (who had just finished the first race), Tim and Michael G. - oh, and 80 other racers ;-). Jean (Wayne's wife) and I walked the course backwards during the race, and the guys looked great! Mike and Tim were solidly in the front of the pack, and Michael and Wayne riding strong in the middle. It was fun to just be a spectator today - no women's field, and it is too early for me just yet anyway. Jean and I cheered for all of the team before we all went out for a quick cooldown before heading home.

Once home, it was back on the bike. I started a training plan this week, and needed to head out for a 3 hour ride at endurance pace (keeping my HR below 135). God bless Mike for coming out with me for the duration, even though he had just finished racing! We noodled through Concord, Sudbury, Wayland and Lincoln and ended almost 3 hours with only 38.9 miles! ACK! I never knew it could be so hard to ride so slowly... This will all payoff in the long run, I am sure! I'm tired now, after a long week of training and activity, but for now, I think I'll have another donut ...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Scooters

Yesterday was sunny, but definitely COLD. Mike and I set off on the scooters, and rode much of our "regular" cycling loop. There were a lot of sights that we don't often get the chance to appreciate when we're out riding...

After taking most of the day to get warmed back up, I think we'll wait for our next scooter adventure until temps are somewhere ABOVE 50 ;-)

Sunday, March 23, 2008


All for the good, of course!

Friday, my teammate Sam and I headed down to Middletown, CT to Charles Coaching and Nutrition Services for a Lactate Threshold test, and to meet my coach, Aidan Charles. An LT test has you spin on your bike between 18 and 20 mph, while increasing the watts (power output required to pedal) by 40 every 3 minutes. While we did this, Aidan was taking blood samples from our earlobes (Sam likened this to van Gogh, but at least we kept our ears in the process!) to measure LT. The test started out easily enough, but by the time I was pushing 300 Watts and my HR was at 177, it wasn't quite as easy anymore...

Sam, before she was suffering ;-); Ow - that hurts! Aidan tests Sam

So, what did this tell me (or why in the heck did I pay someone for this)? I now know where my training HR zones are so that I can train more effectively and efficiently to meet my goals for this season. I also learned that my zones are higher than what I thought, which means my workouts will need to step up a notch!

Here are the results - I have a long way to go to be world class ;-). Better get going with that training.

Saturday was finally sunny, and a little less windy than it had been on Friday (driving to CT, the wind literally blew the van sideways on the highway!). Mike and I headed out on the tandem, and met PK and Wayne in Concord Center for a ride. The plan was for a "big" ride, but the cold and wind were conspiring against us.

Photo by PK

At one point in the ride (early on - we were still in Carlisle), Wayne commented that he wouldn't be able to maintain the effort we were putting out for 80 miles. I agreed, and I think the pace backed down - some ;-). We rode out towards Dunstable again this week, and about mile 40, after much headwind and climbing, ended up in Groton Center. Jean was going to pick Wayne up and head to NY to her parents', so we all decided bagels and coffee would be a good idea - not really. After a full stomach of bagels and cream cheese, and sitting in wet, sweaty clothes, getting back on the bikes was one of the last things I wanted to do! I actually suggested calling Nanyee for an emergency pickup ;-).

However, Mike, PK and I headed home from Groton, losing PK along the way (he decided the quickest way home was the best way home). We ended the ride with about 4200 ft of climbing, and 66.5 miles of riding. This put me at my highest mileage week so far this season, with 177.1. No wonder I'm tired today!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


(To the tune of White Christmas - sorry Bing!)

I'm dreaming of a warm springtime,
Just like the ones I used to know.
With sunshine glowing
And flowers growing
And ne-er the threat of any snow

I'm dreaming of a warm springtime,
With every pedal stroke inside,
Soon, the trainer I will hide
And hope for my spring rides to be outside!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tandem Workouts

In response to my friend Elaine's question about whether I get a good workout on a tandem ride, I offer my stats from Sunday's adventure, which was a really easy effort:

In short, Elaine, the answer is unequivocally YES. Contrary to popular opinion, riding the back of the tandem is not a walk in the park - I have to match the effort of the captain, or I will definitely hear about it. Of course, I could always put up the HR stats from one of the tandem TTs if you still have any question ... ;-)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

First Tandem Ride of the Season

After a long week of training (including hill repeats, intervals, 2x20s after work and hard efforts in the snow yesterday), Mike and I pulled down the tandem for its inaugural ride today. With both of us training, we don't get a lot of time to ride together anymore, and the tandem gives us the opportunity to do just that.

Captain and stoker!

The skies were gray and the temps were in the low 30s, but we dressed appropriately and headed out from the house for what ended up being a really solid ride. We were out for almost 4 hours with just over 3.5 hours of riding time, covering 62 miles and about 3000 feet of climbing (click here for an interactive map of the route).

Taking a break for a snack; still no blossoms (still not spring!)

We also recently found out that our friends Wayne and Jean have a tandem, and we are all looking forward to riding together this season.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hooray for DST!

I am so glad that last year, legislation was enacted to make DST longer in the US:

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. beginning in 2007, though Congress retained the right to revert to the 1986 law should the change prove unpopular or if energy savings are not significant. Going from 2007 forward, Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. begins at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday of March and ends at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of November

Why am I so excited about this? I can ride OUTSIDE after work in the LIGHT! Last night, I met up with Mike, PK, Rich and AA to do hill repeats (not so exciting). We started at 5 pm, and were able to fit in 4 intervals in just over two hours of riding. It was great to end a weekday ride, in March, with 33 miles completed!

I'm still waiting for it to warm up, but I'll take it one thing at a time ;-)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Time to Ride!

Great ride with the girls today! Started out in Billerica and made our way through Wilmington, Andover, Boxford, Middleton and North Reading (see details here). It was a little breezy though - average wind speed for the ride was 21.6 mph!

Walking dogs - normal; walking horses?; MMM - cake!

Great rides deserve a just reward, and Jim and Brooke provided us with a yummy chicken and barley dish followed by birthday cake (Happy Birthday Brooke and Cris!). Nat - I need to know where that bakery is! Who says I like to ride my bike - I just like to eat ;-).

At least today's ride was drier than yesterday. Determined NOT to ride the trainers again, Mike and I jumped on our singlespeeds for a trip in the bike path and back in the POURING rain. Cold and wet pretty much sums it up, but at least we went somewhere besides the basement!

Now with DST arriving, I'm hoping for some after work rides in addition to the weekends. If we could just get some warmer, drier (less windy) weather.