Friday, February 27, 2009

A Taste of Spring

Here's a great recipie for a taste of spring:

3/4 parts road grit
1/4 part salt
equal volume water
measurable headwind
sprinkles of tailwind

Mix all ingredients slowly. When adding the tailwind (in very small doses) stop with the headwind, but resume after tailwind has been added.

Put on at 60 degrees F for two hours. Delicious!

Chasing Mike

Last weekend was all about chasing Mike. I have come to accept that he is faster than I am at everything, so chasing is a normal part of our activity ;)

We drove up to Maine on Thursday night - through a sometimes blinding snowstorm. Thankfully, our friend Robert had been to the house and plowed the driveway (thanks, Robert!). But, there was still PLENTY of snow in which to play on Friday...

While I worked in the morning, Mike set about getting the sleds ready for a ride. We didn't register in NH this year, and have done all of our riding right from the house. this is fairly atypical for us, but we have been rediscovering our local trails, and the conditions have been excellent. We ended up being out for 4 hours, and were delighted with freshly groomed trails in some places, powder in others, and one small ice incident going up Mt. Will (when you are trying to get up a steep incline and your track starts spinning on ice, and you start sliding backward down the mountain, life is scary). It was a great ride, and we ended up with about 80 miles.

After getting back home, a quick change and some food, we trekked over to the Sunday River Inn for a couple of hours of skate skiing. The first trail we took was all uphill, so I chased and chased some more... After the snowmobiling and then the skiing, I was pretty beat - especially my arms and shoulders.

Saturday morning we left Maine at 6:30 am so that we could get back to MA for a bike ride (the weather forecast wasn't looking good for Sunday). We met up with AA, John M and Wayne in Concord Center and set off towards Dunstable and Groton. The boys really played nice (it helped my cause that there was a pretty good headwind) and I managed to chase them for about 3 hours - to the end of Lost Lake Road in Groton. At that point, I called it quits (they proceeded to head into Littleton, Harvard, Stowe, Lincoln, Sudbury...) and headed for home, avoiding as many hills as possible along the route ;). I ended up with 4 hours of riding and 66 miles for the day - that put me at 162 miles for the WEEK - in FEBRUARY! At least I was headed into a rest week ;).

Sunday was going to be a recovery ride, and the weather looked like we would be doing that on the dreaded trainers. We lucked out, though, and had a window in the morning that was cloudy, but dry. Once again, I chased Mike, this time on our SS road bikes, but at least we were at a recovery pace! We got home just as the first raindrops started to fall - great timing!

And yes, this post is a week late. I've been resting this week, and have been too tired to do it until now ;)

Monday, February 16, 2009

No. More. Wind. Please?

I am cooked. Three days of hard riding, and three days of gusting wind (averages: Fri 17.6 mph; Sat 16.7 mph; Sun 12.6 mph). And did I mention all of the climbing? Somehow I managed to accumulate almost 6000 feet in the three days. It's no wonder I can barely move today!

Saturday I was invited to go out and ride with the NEBC Women's Elite team. I originally hadn't planned on this ride since Mike and I were going to be in Maine, so missed the email changing the start time from 9 to 10 am. Thankfully, a quick call to Sam while sitting in front of Brooke and Jim's house let me know I was early - enough time for a quick trip back home for more coffee!

We had a great team ride out through Carlisle and Concord despite the cold temps and 16.7 mph wind. After about 2:25 of riding, we returned to Billerica where Brooke and Jim treated us to warm bowls of chili. I was surprisingly sore the remainder of the day until I realized that I had spent a significant amount of time on the front... Typical ;)

Sunday was supposed to be my long ride - three to four hours. I emailed the troops about riding, and Kate and Bob R showed up on the Lexington Green (Sara said something about cleaning her house, but I think it may have been a bit more than that ;)). It is important to note here that Bob rides a fixed gear with no brakes - and he is good! I'd never spent much time riding with someone who rode fixed - the stopping/slowing took a bit of getting used to since I couldn't see him coasting.

After the rides on Friday and Saturday, my legs were pretty cooked. We went out at a pretty brisk pace (although I said I wasn't going to get into trouble for setting the pace this week!), and I was pretty quickly in the pain zone. All I could think was how this was good for me - just hang on, and you will get a good workout. Well, I hung on for dear life, but by the time we hit Waltham, I didn't have anything left. I sheepishly put my tail between my legs and headed home through Lincoln solo. From there, some of the hill climbs were at a whopping 6 mph... It was all I could do to get back to the house. I even left the bike outside, hoping somehow that it would either disappear, or clean itself (neither happened, in case you were wondering).

And is January to early to be thinking that I shouldn't be racing if I stink so bad on a training ride? I don't remember having these internal debates quite so early in the year, but it started with me yesterday - worried that I have gotten in over my head, and won't have what it takes to be competitive once the season starts.

So, I've negotiated with my coach for an easy spin today so that I can at least get outside while it is light, but tomorrow will be an off day, and I really need it, both mentally and physically.

Friday, February 13, 2009

P is for Poop

Mike and I went out today for an MTB ride. We were psyched to be outdoors - it was sunny, not too cold, and we had the day off. We set off on the Minuteman bike path through conservation land in Lexington, into Willard's Woods, onto Great Meadows in Arlington and then to Whipple Hill before returning on the bike path.

It ended up being a solid ride - over 3 hours, 25 miles and 1400 ft of climbing. Enough to sufficiently beat me up ;-)

[Start rant]
There is still a considerable amount of snow and ice here in New England. Snow and ice that should be white, and look nice. Today, however, it was littered with brown poop everywhere. Trying to avoid one poop pile could have sent you directly into another. Dog poo. Disgusting.

For the entire time we were out I wondered why dog owners think it is ok for them to take their dogs out on the trails or the bike path, let them poop, and then keep on walking without picking it up. Do they think because it's winter, they don't have to? Are they oblivious? Stupid? I KNOW they are inconsiderate... At one point, I saw some dog walkers and wanted to give them a piece of my mind. Realizing, however, that I can't paint ALL dog owners with the same brush, I held my tongue.

But c'mon you people! Do you want to see poo on your sidewalk? Do you want to step in/ride through poo for three hours? Be forced to look at giant piles of poo? I don't think so, so CLEAN IT UP! If you want help, I have a friend who's sister just invented a handy helper - you can find it here - GET ONE (or two).

And since I am on a roll, MA does have a leash law.
[End rant]

Monday, February 9, 2009

Was It, Or Wasn't It...

... good to ride outside yesterday? With temps in the high 40s, an outdoor ride seemed like a terrific idea. But then there was the wind (as noted from the Garmin data)...

Sara, Kate and the wind did me in. After 45.5 miles, and 3 hours of riding, I pretty much melted into my couch. In the end though, I decided that despite the wind and the wet, it really was good to be outside and not on the trainer.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Excellent Celebration!

This past weekend was Mike's birthday. We headed up to Maine on Thursday night with PK/Nanyee and Wayne/Jean joining us there for the weekend on Friday. We had an AWESOME time filled with way more activity than you can imagine, and enough food for a small army (which will come as a complete shock to those of you who know me well).


With between three and four feet of snow on the ground, Mike went out early in the morning to check the condition of the snowmobile trails (he was actually scouting for an activity later in the weekend). On returning, the report was that there was A LOT of snow out there, with some of the road crossings being a bit difficult with the size of the plowed banks. His reward for the ride, however, included freshly groomed trails and a moose sighting!

After I finished up with work, we both went over to the Sunday River Inn for some skate skiing. We had never skied in this area before, but the trails were really nice - excellent views of Sunday River, and most of the trails were in the woods. Unfortunately, with some warmer temps, the snow was a bit soft, causing the skis to sink with almost every push in the snow. We still managed between 10 and 12 miles in under two and a half hours - my longest skate ski to date!


Last year, Mike and I ventured up into Grafton Notch for a snowshoe on the Eyebrow Trail. While Nanyee opted for some downhill skiing at Sunday River, the rest of us set off to repeat our adventure, and add a summit of Old Speck into the mix, depending upon the conditions. Everyone was all smiles as we stood at the base of the hike - no one but Mike and I knew what they were in for ;-).

The hike starts off gradually heading uphill, and it wasn't long before we were all shedding layers. Thankfully, someone had already been up that way before us, so at least we weren't having to worry about breaking trail. It wasn't long into the hike before we hit the first steep section of the trail - a section where they have installed a handhold. Successfully conquering that, everyone was happy - until we hit a STEEPER section, this time with no handholds. We literally were on hands and knees to get up the slope! Mike had thought to bring climbing rope, which both Jean and I used to help us here. Wayne and PK ended up taking off their snowshoes to get up the steep pitches (they claimed it was easier, we claimed it was cheating ;-)), but Mike, Jean and I soldiered on with the shoes, conquering the ascent.

Up and up we went, stopping at a point where the views opened up to the parking lot and Notch below. We were all careful not to get too close to the edge though - it was a LONG way down! At the trail intersection, we decided to head up further, and see how far we could get on the Old Speck trail. With all of the snow still on the trees, it was a beautiful hike. Unfortunately, having tired ourselves out on the Eyebrow trail, our hike quickly turned into a trudge. We stopped to refuel (which, in hindsight, wasn't too smart since we all cooled down), and decided to head back down the trail. As we hiked and slid our way back down to the parking lot, more than one of us started dreaming about slippers and a fire in the woodstove.

Once we reached the bottom, we were pleased to find out that we had been out for almost 3.5 hours, and climbed 2400 feet in just about 5 miles.

Back home, the slippers went on, and the fire was started in the stove! We also cooked up some delicious pizzas to celebrate Mike's birthday - veggie, sausage & onion and prosciutto & onion were all delicious! Unfortunately, my brand new pizza stone cracked in two! We filled ourselves up with dinner, delicious champagne that PK brought for the occasion, and of course, CAKE! It wasn't a late night for anyone though - tired from a day full of activity, and knowing we still had another full day ahead...


We scattered in separate directions on Sunday. Nanyee returned for more downhill skiing at Sunday River and the boys headed out for some MTB riding on the local snowmobile trails. It was pretty cold (about 8 degrees), and they said the going was pretty tough, but they still managed to be out for about 2.5 hours before returning home for a quick lunch, and then heading back out for a x-country ski at Carters. Whew!

Jean and I made our way up to the Bethel Inn where the New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA) was having its annual women's ski day. It was amazing to see 200 women participating in classical and skate clinics on the Bethel Inn trails. Volunteer coaches led Beginner and Intermediate-level clinics as well as an Uphill/Downhill clinic, giving tips and pointers on technique, which I desperately needed! I picked up some great learnings that I will apply to my skating technique - especially for getting up those darned hills!

The day also included a lunch and raffle (I ended up winning a coffee mug and hat, but Jean came away with just lunch). There was a lot of standing in line (to register for the day, to sign up for clinics, to get the buffet lunch, to use the bathroom...), but I would still call the event a success. In the afternoon, Jean and I opted for a ski on the trails vs. participating in another clinic, and went out for over an hour. At that point, we were both exhausted, and headed back to the house.

We ended the weekend with homemade veggie lasagne (thanks Jean - it was delicious!), and then all left to head home. We were all tired and sore, but it was definitely a great way to celebrate Mike turning another year older ;-).

Additional pictures by PK can be found here.