Riding dirty.

I had a lot of bike time this weekend!

On Saturday, I did a 90 minute ride around the county on gravel roads, which I really like. Always an adventure!  About 30 minutes into my ride, I came over a hill and found two cows standing in the middle of the road. They didn’t seem to like my bicycle too much, but when a man in a truck came by to corral them, they liked him even less. I stood off to the side as they decided I was the lesser of the evils and they darted past me. (They weren’t there when I came back thru on the way home, so I assume the people in the truck got them back into their pasture).

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The boys met me at my turnaround point (the minimum maintenance road). That was the most muddy, rutted fun mile ever! I think the biggest surprise was seeing Tatum plow down that on his tricycle. He did an out and back on it – two miles on this tricycle! Good job, Tater Bug!

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I did the out and back twice, so 4 miles for me. I tilted the Go Pro down and caught some neat video on the last pass. I got pretty muddy but it was so worth it. I used the time to work on some new skills. I wanted to get practice riding in muddy conditions, so I kept pushing myself to hit the ruts. I corrected when the back of my bike would come around on me. I pedaled thru deep water, with my feet completely submerged. (That felt awkward!) I went into deep bogs and just kept forward moving progress so that I would not get stuck or fall over. I think it was time well spent as I know cross courses can get muddy and I want to be prepared for some of that.

I put together a 3 minute video of my ride (sped it up a bit to fit into the length of the song.) See it here.

On Sunday, I hit the bike trainer for a ride pretty late. I listened to some heavy music and just concentrated on spinning at a high cadence. After 10 miles (30 minutes), I lost interest and felt like running, so I changed shorts and shoes and went to the Baker campus. It was hot and humid, so I worked up a pretty good sweat in 3 miles. It did feel pretty nice to feel some speed in my legs as I did a progressive run, picking up the pace on each mile.

I am so happy to have gained some confidence in mud, but I don’t feel like I am quite ready for a race yet. I will try to find some time to work on my skills this week. I am just struggling a bit with pulling the trigger on a race entry. I feel intimidated and I feel like I want to be more at-ease on my bike. (I don’t do well struggling in front of people, especially if it is a race situation). Hopefully I will find a race at the end of the season 😉

Up next on the Cyclocross Series will be purchasing your first cyclocross bike!

 

Getting started with cyclocross.

I hope you all had an amazing long weekend! We were very busy, as usual, but we did manage to sneak in some downtime as well. I spent a lot of time cooking, and the boys became hooked on shrimp boils. After a big weekend of zydeco, picnics and chasing boys, I was ready to go back to work.

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You must try these!

Oh! I have to share this recipe find with you. I grilled fresh peaches this weekend. They were amazing with ice cream for dessert, but also found them to be a decadent snack by themselves. Just slice your peaches in half and throw on the grill for 5-10 minutes per side (depending on how hot you have your grill). I can’t even express how good they are!

This week looks to be incredibly busy, not only with all the boys at soccer, but I am mixing in cyclocross training this week, and will be driving out to Minnesota to attend Oiselle Bird Camp! (I am so excited! I never do anything like that!) Essentially, it will be 4 days of running, yoga, female-bonding and fun with my teammates. I will be bringing my Go Pro, so expect lots of fun pictures on social media.

OK. Back to Cyclocross. This is something I am really excited (and nervous!!!) about. I didn’t get a lot of bike riding when I was little. I mean, I learned how to ride a bike, but I never had anything fancy, and bike riding was just pedaling around my neighborhood a bit. In 5th grade, we moved to a farm and there was ZERO bike riding going on there. My bike was second-hand and not outfitted for gravel. So… When I was 18 or so, I bought a Schwinn hybrid from the local bike store and did a bit of pedaling on paved bike trails.

 

Flashforward to signing up for a triathlon in 2013 on a whim, and my vintage Schwinn getting dug out of storage and refurbished into a flat motorcycle black and neon pink-rimmed beast. (HA!)

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Pretending I know what I am doing at cyclocross camp

I really fell in love with cycling and ended up picking up a few bicycles. My fear of being hit by a car has sent me to the gravel roads and trails. Last year, a flyer for a cyclocross camp caught my eye. I had a new (too big for me) cyclocross bike and got a crash course in a bunch of new skills. I had never ridden on grass before. I had never ridden us and down steep hills before. I had never done any of this stuff before. I was TERRIFIED. But, I had fun! I wanted more!

 

So this year, I have made it a goal to do an actual race. I have 2 cyclocross practices at a grass course this month, and one women’s clinic this week… and hopefully with lots of practice at home, I will find a beginner-friendly race next month. Wow. This is scary even saying that!

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pretty in pink

I did end up needing to replace my too-big silver bike with a sparkly blue just-right bike. That stung a bit as i really loved that silver bike, and it looked like a total badass. Sparkly bike is pretty, and not so badass. My husband was finally able to swap out the black bar wrap with neon pink — and I think it looks really cool! (The neon pink water bottle cages will come off for cyclocross, of course.)

I did a pre-scope at the local cyclocross course so that I could see what I am up against. It doesn’t look too scary now… but I say that before any chutes, obstacles and such have been put up. I might feel differently as I attempt to clip/unclip a ton of times trying to mount/dismount my bike.

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weird panorama of the course

 

I welcome any and all tips on how to make all these new skills less scary for me. I will share my journey along the way, and hopefully I can get some other ladies interested in the sport!

 

 

Fall cycling kit window-shopping.

Last night was spent on the bike trainer…. a necessary evil since it was too dark for me to venture out for a ride. I am gearing up for fall cycling and running, and am really looking forward to spending hours on the trails. I am also embarking on a new little adventure, doing some more cyclocross events this year.

I did attend a clinic last year and worked on a few bike skills afterwards. This year, I am getting slightly more serious as I am not only attending a clinic, but venturing out to a legitimate course and doing some practice sessions with the big dogs. (I am not quite yet ready to pull the trigger on a full-blown race… yet…)

That said, I was looking at picking up a new jersey or skinsuit to add to my cycling gear drawer. I found some really amazing kits and wanted to share a few of them with you.

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Panache Cycleware Co.

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Cycling is a way of life, according to Panache founder, Don Powell, a former Euro pro-racer. Don also believed that there should be a better way to “stay warm and go fast.” Hence, Panache was born. Advocating for clean sport, a cause near and dear to my heart, Don says Panache is about no cheating nor marketing BS.

Maloja

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Operating out of what looks more like a ski lodge than an office, Maloja’s founder, Peter, produce mountain biking clothing while adhering to the highest environmental standards. Peter says he is more interested in creating distinctive, high-quality apparel than putting profit before his beliefs. He seems more zen than CEO… and his kits show it.

 

Tenspeed Hero

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Like friends on a cycling team, who just happen to make cycling kits, Tenspeed Hero has expanded the last few years. Founders, Jonathan and Luke, create ice cream-colored dreams from Italian fabric. Thankfully they’ve added a womens’ line so ladies cam join in the fun.

So many things.

I sort of fell off the radar at the end of the week. Let’s catch up!

Wednesday I had yoga class again. I guess I am hooked. I am still not doing the advanced poses, and my broken left finger means I have to do some modifications… but I am getting a really good sweat on. (And my legs feel so much more loose.) I am sticking with it.

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Thursday was the pre-release of Suicide Squad! I took a rest day and hit the Alamo Drafthouse to get my Harley Quinn on.

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Saturday I attended an open water swim clinic in the morning and got in 800 meters or so with the coach of Trifecta Multisport Coaching. I am really looking forward to more of his coaching sessions. In this session, I worked on getting my elbows bent and high!

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Saturday afternoon we took the boys for a picnic and playground fun at Lone Star, where I had swam earlier. It was so pretty and I just knew my boys would love it there. They had a great time and want to take their swimming trunks next time.

Saturday night I grabbed my cross-bike and dragged Steven out of the house for a gravel ride. Lots of washboard on the first couple miles, but had a good ride after that. (A little fast pedaling as I had to flee from 3 border coliies who may or may not have wanted to eat me.) We made it out to my favorite road sign and turned around and went back the same way. Next time I will ride down that road! I have been itching to do that for a month now!

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Sunday I had a long run planned, but the hours were ticking by, and I was not feeling any better. In the evening, I forced myself to get dressed for a run. I really sat on the bed for a bit crying because I was just exhausted. I did make it out the door and got in a mile before I wanted to curl into a little ball on the street. My legs and arms had no energy in them. They were just so fatigued that I barely made it back home. I was stumbling around a bit, so Steven helped me back inside. Not good. Next time I won’t try to push myself so hard.

So autoimmune won on Sunday. It is hard to keep going, for sure. I still have really hard days. I mean, no day is ever “easy” for me now. But I find myself less exhausted than I was before. Either I am getting better or I am learning how to adapt to being tired. I am hoping the former is true.

For the last month, I have been on a heavy dose of iron to address my extremely low ferritin levels. (I will do a post on that once I have my next round of testing… that will tell me whether I am absorbing the iron like I should). But, much research (and many of my endurance sports friends) point to my low iron levels as being a big factor in my fatigue the last year. My iron level last spring was super low, but I was not treated. It was my persistence in researching and advocating for myself that the rheumatologist checked my iron and confirmed my suspicions. (Always always always  get a copy of your labs and don’t be afraid to Google and ask questions!)

I try to post positive things about “tomorrow being a whole new day.” But trust me. I am bummed. There are times I want to give up. I cry. I get angry. I am jealous of my friends who get to do the things I want to do.

I just keep telling myself that I will be ME again. That really is all I can do.

Lunar Kanza 2016

Event: Lunar Kanza
Date: July 16, 2016
Location: Emporia, KS

My lack of organization on Saturday afternoon made for a lot of stress for Lunar Kanza that night.

We took the kids into town to pick up their race packets for Mass Street Mile on Sunday, picked up a new pair of running shoes for Tatum, and grabbed lunch. By the time we got home from running around, I was tired but had to load up the car for my gravel ride!

I washed off the bike and packed my supplies while Steven put the bike rack on my car. I didn’t get a chance to eat dinner, so I grabbed fast food along the way (that was a mistake).

The drive to Emporia, KS was a little over an hour for me. Once I got into town, I used the restroom and hit up the registration booth to sign my waiver and get my packet. The process was really quick and well-organized. I was in and out in a matter of minutes. The event was put on by the same people who do Dirty Kanza, so they certainly know how to organize an event.

I received a neat t-shirt, a patch, a laminated plate for the front of my bike, and some pipe cleaners to secure the plate. The pipe cleaners also served as coupons for food and drinks after the ride.

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Ready to Roll.

Once I got my bike and hydration vest all set up, I racked up and waited for my friend, Kristi, to arrive. Riders could leave anytime between 6 and 8, and we left promptly at 6. (and this was a mistake).

The course ran out of town a couple miles on pavement before we turned off onto gravel roads. Hilly gravel roads. In retrospect, it would have been better to leave a little later and miss some of the blazing sun. It was hot just standing in the parking lot! By the time hit gravel, I was sweaty and my insulated water bottles of frozen Nuun were warm.

We passed a SAG stop at around 5 miles and pressing on. I noticed that many people had already turned back as well continued, so I assume they went to the 10-mile mark and turned around.

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We stopped briefly at the 10 miles spot and I was really not having fun. I felt miserable since I just really can’t tolerate heat / sun with my autoimmune stuff. As we were getting to leave, a group of guys pedaled up. One announced that eating that Mexican was a bad idea… and then threw up on the road. So… I hadn’t thrown up yet, so I had that going for me at least.

We pressed on to the 15-mile mark when I just felt like it was enough. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it back. I was miserable. Tired. Hot.

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And then a strange thing happened after we turned back. It cooled off. The sun went down. And I felt REALLY GOOD. I had a really good time pedaling back and when it got dark, my pink wheel lights came on. I got a lot of compliments on my cool wheels on the way back.

It was all really awesome until I had to turn my headlight on and the bugs started to swarm me. I think I reached my protein macros in bugs that night. Gross. It was worse when they flew until my eyes and I had to blink and try to wipe them away.

Somehow we missed the turn off on the ride back through town. We ended up being stuck at the railroad crossing for 2 trains! We were just a block away from the event though, and although we didn’t cross the “official” finish, we entered the block party via a side entrance. After we racked our bikes, we headed into the party with our pipe cleaner coupons. I traded my meal pass for a BBQ sandwich (which I didn’t eat because I just don’t like pork that much), chips and a Sprite. That Sprite was the greatest thing I have ever drank. Seriously. I actually went back thru and traded my beer coupons for more Sprite. While I drank a lot of water on my ride, I didn’t eat any of my Honey Stingers… (And that was a mistake).

Even though it was not muddy, I was still covered in dirt and grime. Gravel road dust really sticks to you when you are sweaty, I guess.

So instead of a Lunar Kanza 50, I got a Lunar Kanza 30. And I am OK with that. Next time I will leave a little later and get the full ride in!

 

Post-bike fuel fail.

Surprisingly, despite it being really hot out, my ride was pretty good last night. I did an hour trail ride, Ottawa to Princeton and back. I didn’t have any bike malfunctions, other than needing to stop at a road crossing and hitting my right knee on the end of my handlebars while unclipping. Ouch. I don’t know how I did that!

I did bring a lot of ice water in my hydration pack, so that certainly helped.

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chase cam

We had planned to go to a local BBQ place after our ride. We made it to the restaurant at 8:55 and the doors were locked. What? I guess they close at 9. Super bummer and we had to grab some drive-thru instead as there really isn’t much of a selection in Ottawa.

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gratuitous bike shot 

I have been researching some organized rides and races coming up. I have found a 50 mile gravel ride (at NIGHT!!!) on the 16th which sounds really cool. I am thinking I will sign up for that. No idea how long it will take me to ride 50 miles on hilly gravel roads, but it’s worth a shot!

Also, I have to admit I have fallen back in love with my bike again. Over the winter, I always forget how much I love outdoor riding. So happy to get to spend my nights outside now. If only I could find a cure for the ridiculous hot weather right now! Someone asked if I have a cooling vest recently. I do not have one. I am interested on hearing feedback if anyone has tried one!

My dogs are all in hiding.

My weekend was not as productive and fit as I had hoped. Saturday, as I was headed out to my long run, I thought I had a break in the weather but on the way, we drove into torrential rain and lightning. I am fine with running in the rain, but I draw the line at lightning and hail, and possibly being sucked into a tornado.

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Pedaling quickly, going no where. 

Sunday I did get my ride in. It wasn’t quite as long as I had wanted, but given that the gravel and trails were so soft, I put in a lot of hard work. I really pedaling hard to not get anywhere fast. Also, the humidity was 87%, so it was like exercising in someone’s sweaty armpit. I rode from the Ottawa trailhead to Richmond… which again, I am happy with given I wanted to quit when I hit the Princeton trailhead.

Monday I did head out to run trail in KC, but ended up just running errands instead. I am still not able to dun mornings yet and my legs felt so so heavy. I did WANT to do a run that evening, but it was National Blow Stuff Up and Scare Your Pets day. So I spent the day cooking and watching the boys light fireworks. Our display was pretty mild since we bought everything at the stand on the corner.

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Atlas says, “Screw your party!”

The people renting behind us however. Yikes. They spent 4 days setting off what we are guessing were either M80s or sparkler bombs. Whatever it was, it was illegal. And our dogs hated it. Atlas ended up jumping the backyard fence and running around into our front yard to get away from them. Poor guy. Our dogs didn’t seem to be as traumatized as our neighbor’s dog, who would not even go outside to potty. He flat out refused to leave his house!

Anyone else’s dogs not enjoying the holiday?

So right now, the heart is ready but the body is not willing. Hoping to start getting some progress on my autoimmune stuff so I can get back to some hard training. (I have been waiting nearly a month for simple lab results. Kind of ridiculous.)