Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
On February 8, 30 Club members rode the Withlacoochee Trail, north of Tampa, with most cyclists covering about 50 miles. To commemorate El Parent’s 71st birthday, he, Charlie Morris, and I rode 71 miles, joining the rest of the group at the lunch stop. It was 39 degrees at the 8 am start, warming to the mid-70’s by the afternoon. A perfect day—
A highlight of training has been meeting and riding with several of the women with whom I will share the XC journey. WomanTours mailed out the initial roster last June, updating it periodically as riders joined or dropped out. To my surprise, two riders, Peggy Kehew and Nancy Kelley, hail from Vermont not more than 30 miles from my New Hampshire home in Meriden (turns out that Peggy’s daughter and my daughter know each other from secondary school—small world). We made contact and agreed to meet for a Friday ride. We ended up riding almost every Friday from July through October, alternating responsibility for choosing an interesting route.
Brownsville Cemetery, VT
Another XC rider, Lois Schneider, lives in Sarasota and we have biked together several times since December. Our best trip was a circumnavigation of Myakka State Park where we saw wild pigs, a fox, a variety of bird life and, of course, alligators.
Training is starting to wind down now. My bike ships out next week, after which I will borrow Tony’s bike for a few rides to stay limber. I know he is not pleased at the prospect. He is convinced I’ll be making snide comments because his rig is a step down for me now. He’s right, but I’ll try to remain tight-lipped just to surprise him.
Friday, February 20, 2009
I maintained a 75-150 mile/week schedule from February to early November, the first three months in Florida and the last six months in New Hampshire/Vermont. My typical week was 100-120 miles, interspersed with a couple of lazy weeks and a few higher mileage weeks when I cycled special events or did a multi-day trip.
I took the month of November off from training. Tony and I did a scouting trip to New Mexico to decide whether we would want to move there. While we enjoyed the visit, we prefer Sarasota for a variety of reasons. We did, however, decide to check out a section of the Southern Tier between Kingston and Silver City which we drove in the reverse of what I’ll be cycling. People often say that if you want to find out whether a road has an upgrade, ask a cyclist. I will be the first to say that you don’t need to be a cyclist to recognize these hills, as the route goes over the Continental Divide in a dizzying sort of way. Be sure to catch my post on March 20 when I will share the gory details after I ride it.
I have been riding a Specialized Roubaix Triple since last June, fine-tuned to my body’s peculiarities (really, do I have to explain?) by the folks at Goodale’s Bike Shop in New Hampshire. While I’ve named some of my cars, my favorite being Snaggletooth, I don’t currently have plans to name the bike.
I use a Topeak rear rack bag to store equipment and tools and as a repository for clothing no longer needed. The bag is fairly compact but has decent capacity with an expandable central compartment and panniers that fold out from the zippers on each side. The blinking fog light on the rear of the bag is a safety necessity.Over the past few months communication has been frequent, sometimes frenzied, with my XC compatriots about equipment. A few of the women have done a XC or two previously and their suggestions for bike equipment and clothing have been most helpful. WomanTours has also provided guidance with regular correspondence addressing equipment questions and concerns. I believe I have everything that I need to be safe and comfortable during the trip. I do worry a bit about the cold, but I’ve biked at 32 degrees in dry weather and 45 degrees in rain during training, managing to stay relatively warm and dry, so I’m letting it go for now.
After we moved to New Hampshire five years ago, great biking was so much more accessible than in the Boston area and I had more time to take advantage of the opportunity.
As my body responded less favorably to squash, my sport of choice for the previous 15 years (truth be told, being pummeled by relative newcomers to the sport 30 years my junior might have also played a role), cycling seemed kinder to my joints, muscles, and psyche. I upgraded my equipment and ventured back out.
Last year we escaped the cold and grey of New Hampshire for our first winter in Florida.
I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive about raising this idea with Tony: the cost, two months apart—. To my relief, he has been behind me on this from the get go and has been one of my biggest fans during the training. We ride together frequently when he’s not flying his glider. He’ll be out to visit for what we wryly refer to as our conjugal visit during my rest day near Austin, Texas.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
There are four SAG (support and gear) drivers, of whom I’m one, who alternate and, hence, get an extra “rest” day every 4th day. SAG drivers from previous years tell me, however, that it’s the most tiring day because of the myriad responsibilities. These run the gamut from helping to change flats, providing emotional support to weary riders (a reality given the verticals covered on some days), purchasing and stocking food and drinks for the van, first aid, and washing dishes post dinner. Hey, the trip cost discount is substantial and I can put my dormant nursing and management skills to good use.
The structure of the trip meets all of my basic requirements: warm shower after biking, a comfortable bed every night, something other than my bike to carry my gear, and traveling with supportive women.