Fellow Friendly Cyclists

yorgunum / Pixabay

This weekend was a step back weekend for me.  I don’t know when a 40 mile ride became an easy ride, but it was nice to only have 40 miles facing me.

For those of you who know the local area, I went out and did the Columbia tri course, looping the top of the lollipop three times to get my miles in (and plenty of hill work too).

It’s a pretty popular route to bike, and I saw plenty of people out riding.  One thing that I love about cycling is how friendly everyone is.  As I was getting my bike out of the car, there were other ladies getting ready for a ride, so we chatted for a bit and wished each other luck.  They passed me a bit later and wished me luck on my ride.

All along the route, I came upon friendly cyclists.  Lots of hellos and good mornings as we passed, often going in opposite directions.  Chatting at stop signs.  Conversations when stopped for water at a local gas station.  Just lots of nice people out there.

Of course, it’s not like it’s this 1950’s television show of friendliness.  Plenty of people pass without a word or a wave. And that’s fine too, no problems there (though everyone appreciates when cyclists call out when they pass from the rear).  But in general, it’s a very friendly community.

Obviously, not every cyclist is friendly.  But there is a somewhat popular blogger out there who talks about how every single cyclist she passes makes a negative comment or says something horrible to her.  Given my experience, I just don’t see that happening.  People are relatively friendly, and those who aren’t probably just ignore the other cyclists.  No one has time to be excessively rude.

I know some people get nervous about riding with others or riding outside because they’re worried about what other people will think.  That definitely isn’t something to worry about.  For the most part, cyclists are just happy to see other cyclists out riding.  You’ll see the hardcore riders out training intensely, you’ll see people out for a nice easy ride, and you’ll see everyone in between.


Ride Report – Farm to Fork Fondo


This weekend, I did the Farm to Fork Fondo in Pennsylvania.  I did the medio distance, which is the green line on the map above.  66.66 miles in total, and four delicious farm stops, plus some amazing food at the end.  I’m so glad Lauren suggested we ride (though she followed that crazy yellow line because she is nuts.  And awesome.

This ride was absolutely amazing and also incredibly, incredibly hard.  This area of Pennsylvania isn’t known for being flat, so I knew it would be a challenge.

The event was incredibly well organized.  There were plenty of cue sheets available and I though the course was really well marked (of course, of the three of us who went to the event together, two got lost, so maybe I’m the only one who thought so).   There were riders of all levels at the start, and it was fun that so many of the distances started off together.


The big thing about this ride is the food, and specifically, the local food.  We rode to different farms and had all sorts of local treats.  The first stop had the most amazing peaches.  They were delicious and perfect and clearly just off the trees.  There were also whoopie pies, ice creams, meats and cheeses, pretzels, chips, and so much more.  Plus standard race foods like Clif bars and gels.  And the people were all so incredibly friendly.

One thing I appreciated was that all riders got wristbands in the color arrows they were supposed to follow, and on the wristband was the number for support, so if you needed help or just stopped and needed to be picked up, you could easily call.

The course was definitely challenging, probably more than I realized it would be.  There were three pretty brutal hill climbs, all three of which I made it through part of, then stopped and walked the rest of the way because my heart was beating so fast.  But I refused to turn my watch off while walking up the hill, so that’s included in my final pace.  Forward motion gets timed.

There was one spot where we made a turn and had to go straight up a hill and it was such a mental challenge.  A lot of people just stopped at the bottom and stared at the hill.  It deserved respect, after all.


The last aid station was at mile 52, and the last 14 miles were definitely brutal.  It was hot and hilly and I just wanted to be done.  Those last 14 were a mental game, pure and simple, especially the last 5 or so.

My goal was to do this ride at a 14 minute mile average pace or faster.  I made it through to mile 56 (70.3 distance) at that pace, but things dropped in the last 10 miles and I finished at a 13.8 pace.  It was definitely a slog getting through those last miles, and I was so glad to be done and off my bike.

That said, the event was great and I will probably do it again next year.  Yes, it was a huge physical challenge, but it was still a lot of fun and the food was delicious.  Any ride that ends with a giant post-race meal and fabulous live music is okay in my book.




Fifty Miles Down

We got lost in ellicott cityOn Saturday, my friend Michelle and I set out for a 50 mile bike ride.

We got lost about 10 miles in and ended up in historic downtown Ellicott City.  Yes, that Ellicott City that’s been in the news for horrific flooding that happened Saturday night.  It’s absolutely insane to watch the videos and the photos of the destruction are just horrific.  I’m amazed that more people weren’t killed.  And of course, insurance often doesn’t cover flooding like this.  It’s all just horrible. Thank goodness for all the good people who did their best to help others.  The video of the human chain pulling a woman from a car is amazing.  I also read a story where people were trapped in their home and escaped only because rescuers chopped through a wall in the neighboring building to get to them.

There’s no good way to transition this except to say that now I’m going to talk about my bike ride itself.  50 miles is the farthest I’ve ridden in a long time and it’s just going to get harder. I’m not going to lie, it was a tough ride, and I definitely hit a wall around mile 28, which isn’t good.  I’m not sure if it was mental or physical.  I never felt bad, but I definitely think I need to up my fluids.  I’m doing about 24 ounces of water an hour, but according to my coach, I should have to pee every 2 hours on the bike, and well, I didn’t.  We did stop for a bathroom and snack break around 2 hours, but it wasn’t as if I needed to stop.  So I’m definitely going to increase my fluid intake on the bike while also reducing the number of calories in my bottles.

Coach also suggested taking some sort of a special snack for when I hit that point, to make it a mental pick-me-up as well.  So I’m trying to figure out what that might be.  I ordered a few types of sour gummy candies and might pick up some Fig Newton style cookies and try those on my next long ride to see if they help.  Just something to get me over that hurdle.  I think I might need a sugar hit – when we stopped, I got water, a Coke, and some pretzels and that helped immensely.  The steady calorie intake just isn’t quite doing it.

Of course, this means I will have candy and cookies in my house and that’s dangerous.  I’m going to have to hide them away from myself so they don’t all get eaten during post-workout munchies.

No really, this heat can break anytime

camels in desert

This might be preferable since it’s less humid in the desert. eduponcedeleon / Pixabay

Remember when I said it was hot?

I lied.  NOW it’s hot.

On Saturday morning, I went out for a 40 mile bike ride.  I knew we were going to be under heat warnings, but I hoped to be able to get my miles in before it got too bad.  I opted to ride a local 2ish mile loop (yes, I’m aware of how many circles that is) because it meant I was never that far from my car, which meant not only could I stop at anytime, I could also keep water bottles in a cooler and refresh with cold water rather than warm water that had been riding with me on my bike all morning.

I made it through just under 34 miles before I tapped out.

I still felt okay at that point, but the ride was slow to begin with, and I had noticed my pace really beginning to drop.  I figured it was due to the heat more than anything else, and decided that it was safer to stop and not push myself and risk getting sick.

I was absolutely exhausted the rest of the day.  That kind of heat is really rough on your body!

So I didn’t get in my 40 miler, which means next weekend’s 50 miler isn’t going to be pretty.  But it should be at least 10 degrees cooler if the forecast is right, so that should be a huge help.


Making progress on my bike

This weekend, I returned to the group rides out at Princeton Sports.  This week, there were three distance options, which was nice.  One fast 25 mile ride of the Columbia Tri course, one 17 mile ride of the old Iron Girl Course, and one 14ish mile ride cutting off the worst part of the Iron Girl course.

I went for option B.  I knew I couldn’t keep up with the fast group, but I wanted the extra hills, so I went for the course I knew.  This was the first time I had really ridden my TT bike on an outdoor ride (the slow loops a few weeks back were a good trial, but not a real ride).  I was a little bit nervous about the whole thing but it’s a well supported ride, so I knew I would be fine.  I just didn’t want to fall!

It was a smaller group out for this ride, and I found myself somewhere mid-pack.  The TT bike is definitely twitchy and I’ll have to really work on staying steady.  Core work will definitely help, as will practice.

I definitely felt like my riding was slower than normal.  Climbing seemed harder than I remembered.  And I wanted to have a faster overall pace.  Of course, the downhills felt pretty speedy in aero.  And scary.  But I really thought my finish time was going to be significantly slower than what I was doing last year.

Turns out my final time was two minutes faster than when I was riding this course last May.  Two minutes isn’t a lot, and the downhills probably helped.  But then I looked at my Strava data.

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 4.42.01 PM

One great thing about Strava is that it gives you the time for your full distance as well as how you do on various segments that people have setup on the course.  (You can also compare to how other people do on certain segments, but I am so slow I don’t bother with those.)  And I hit a PR on a pretty significant climb near the end of the ride.  Now, I’ve only been using Strava since last year, so it’s possible that I have done it faster at some point, but I think the odds are not good, since I’m definitely a stronger cyclist than I was two years ago.

I still have a long way to go before my big race in September, but this is a good start.  Must keep riding those killer hills.