Labor Games

For most people, this weekend’s holiday was Labor Day. For others, it was a different holiday. The official kickoff of the season known as college football.

first wvu game

Perhaps you can tell which team the husband’s side of the family pulls for…

Before heading over to the in-laws’ to watch the first game of the season, Grandma picked up the little guy and the husband and I headed out on our first bike ride together in at least a year. We’re gearing up for our two-day bike ride extravaganza for MS, and neither one of us has put nearly enough time in the saddle. This was actually the husband’s first ride of the year.

Of course he kicked my butt the whole ride, as if he’d been training all year and it was my first time on the bike. We rode a few loops at the park so we could avoid dealing with cars on the road. When we got tired {which didn’t take long} we headed back to the car. I pulled my phone {yes, the rice worked!} out of my bag and saw we rode a whopping 7.5 miles.

7 and a half.

That’s not going to cut it! The plan was to ride again this morning but it’s pouring rain.

It’s funny, I started riding my bike when my body couldn’t handle running without injury, but my body is just not made for biking. I watch people fly past me right and left, uphill and down, and I just pedal, pedal, pedal away, never catching up.

I suppose it’s just a challenge I’ll have to keep working on, because nothing worth it is ever easy, right? But I long for the day when I can head out for a long run and not have it hurt.

nothing worth doing is easy

So how did you celebrate the long weekend? Run a race? Cookout? Lounge around? Obsess over fantasy drafts and first football games?

Let’s Be Honest

I’m running on fumes these days. More like walking on fumes.

IMG_9229

There’s nothing like attempting to train for two back-to-back 50 mile bike rides to make you realize you’re not invincible.

bikes waiting for ride

I thought signing up and committing to an event would be the impetus I needed to keep pushing through, but it looks like it’ll take more than that. I’ve had to dig deeper and push harder to make myself start every workout, every ride, every training session.

When I’m out there riding or in the middle of a tough weights session I feel great. I remember why I do this, why I push myself, and why I love every kind of exercise.

cyclist charity ride finisherstrong female athlete

But getting to those moments and finding those opportunities has proven more difficult than I’d imagined. I try to put our sleep situation {or lack there of} in a positive light. I try to find the humor in it. I try to accept it for what it is. For the most part I’ve been able to do that, but when it comes to working out, I really, really feel it.

There’s a point where you can’t push through the fatigue. For me, that’s the end of the day. I can keep my act together in the morning, but as the day wears on, I lose all motivation and ability to do anything purposeful or productive.

What was once a simple task of getting up, throwing on workout clothes, racking my bike, and heading to the park is now a much more complicated circus act. Getting up early is not an option. I already have a 5-6am wake up call {cough cough insomniac baby cough cough} and after getting up 2 or 3 times a night, an earlier date with my alarm clock is an act I refuse to commit to. Call me selfish.

baby that won't sleep

Squeaking in weight training isn’t all that hard. It’s a matter of motivation and finding the mental strength to do it. Cycling, however, is a different story. Perhaps I was looking at our situation with rose-colored glasses when I imagined how training would go. Whatever I was thinking, it wasn’t realistic.

The real situation looks more like this: I can’t ride my bike with the baby. The more I look into it, the more I think he’s not ready to be in a bike trailer yet. That leaves riding on my own. The baby eats every 2 1/2 hours or so, which leaves a smaller window than you’d think to get to the park, ride, and come home. There’s also the little factor of having someone home to watch the kiddo while I ride. Unfortunately the husband has had to travel for work more this year than ever before. Sometimes for a couple days, sometimes longer. I can’t remember the last time he was home for a full week. Obviously I don’t talk about this as it’s happening.

Did I mention he’s training for this ride to? That schedule makes it tough on him too.

All that’s left are the weekends. So far our weekends have been packed with plans and rain, rain, rain. No riding.

riding bikes

I try to hop on the trainer as much as I can, but it’s not the same. {My trainer is actually a permanent kitchen staple these days. That’s normal, right?}

bike trainer

I don’t really know the point of this post. It’s part frustration, part defeat, part determination. To find a way to make it work or to accept that it’s not my time, I’m not sure which way I’m going. It depends on the day. Winking smile

Regardless of the frustrations of finding the time to get out on the bike, I’m more determined than ever to keep up with building my strength. Rebuilding the muscle in my legs, glutes, and hips is what will get me {and keep me} out there running again; something I can do with Kabes. I’m sticking with bootcamp {which is awesome and challenging and empowering} the best that I can, modifying it as needed to make it work with my schedule and energy levels.

finding workout motivation

Eating enough to build muscle and power through a workout is a totally different story…

 

Talk to me about bike trailers. If you have kids, how old were they when you started using one? If you have a road bike, do you feel comfortable using a trailer with it? {I’ve heard it’s bad for your bike…} I’ve been looking at this bike trailer for a little down the road, but will probably make the husband put it on his bike. I’d love any feedback or advice you have. {And where do you find helmets small enough?!}

Back on the Bike

As I rolled out of bed for the umpteenth time that night and saw it was only 3 am, I immediately thought there’s no way I’m riding today.

baby on bike

My first bike ride since last July was in the AM. I was finally ready. It was Saturday morning and the husband was home to hang out with the little guy.

I was meeting a friend for a group ride at a nearby park.

But I was tired. Oh so tired. I’m pretty used to the broken sleep, but this night in particular was pretty rough. But I couldn’t bail on a friend waiting for me.

Good thing she was going otherwise I definitely would’ve backed out. Note to self: be held accountable by someone else.

bike water bottle cages

I dusted off my bike the day before and pumped the tires full of fresh air. The tubes were so flat it took my entire body weight to get enough pressure on the air pump. In the morning I fought through the cobwebs and attached the bike carrier to the car. Phew, I remembered how to get it on by myself. I gathered my shoes, gloves, helmet, snacks, and water bottle, and hoisted my bike on the rack.

All ready to go, I headed back inside to fuel up for my ride. I had no idea how far we were riding, where we were riding, or how many people would show up. Not only was it my first ride in almost exactly a year, it was my first group ride- ever. Yeah, I was a little terrified.

Finally it was time to go. I tossed the baby into bed with the still groggy husband and kissed them both goodbye. Yes, at 6 months I still hate being away from him for a single second.

I pulled up to the park and searched for bikes. I had no idea who I was meeting, but figured a group of bikes in the parking lot would clear it up pretty quickly. I was immediately put at ease when I pulled in and passed group after group of runners, just finishing up their weekend long runs, having started early to beat the oppressive heat. Running through this park was familiar territory. It’d been awhile, but it was still familiar and comforting.

park with bike trail

Finally at the back of the parking lot, I saw the bikes. I was oddly relieved when I saw someone wearing sneakers. That meant they weren’t all elite time trial cycling beasts. {And yes, that person still kicked my butt on the bike. Don’t judge a biker by his shoes.}

I parked off to the side and pulled my bike from the rack, slipped into my shoes, and slid my helmet on my head. Only then did I make eye contact. Yup, it was them.

Relief. They weren’t going to attack me.

bikes (500x375)

We sat and waited for the last minute stragglers. I chatted with a few riders and immediately found another mom who struggled to find time to ride; a teenager riding with his dad; a couple older men who had no interest in keeping up with the speed-demons on the road. I immediately felt at ease as he explained the route they had planned. All paths I had run before and barely any road. I’m still scared of the road.

Just as the group set off for the 24 mile ride, my friend pulled up. Whew. She hopped on her bike and took off. Ahhh, here goes nothing. I still wasn’t sure I’d remember how to clip in. There was no time left to be nervous, I had to get going.

With minimal fumbling, I hopped on, clipped in, and took off.

Long story short- I survived. 15 miles. I could barely keep up and it didn’t matter. I had to turn around a little more than half way since I’d only left one bottle ready for the kiddo. Tackling this training thing will be a little harder with that in mind, but nothing we can’t figure out.

It’s Booty Time!

The day is here: it’s time for a 24 hour bike ride!

24 hours of booty bike ride

24 Hours of Booty is a unique event were cyclists of all ages and abilities gather together and ride their bikes for 24 hours, all in the name of fighting cancer.

The 24 Hours of Booty is an
extraordinary cycling event that
is safe, fun, and open to all levels
of cycling ability, while bringing
cancer awareness to the community
and raising funds for noteworthy
cancer charities.

Last year, my mom and I participated in this event in the town I grew up in. This year we’re headed to Charlotte, the place where it all started 10 years ago.

24 hours of booty 10 year anniversary

This year’s already shaping up to be an adventure due to the record breaking heat that seems to be sweeping the country.

At a temperature almost 10 degrees hotter than usual, it’ll make for an interesting ride.

charlotte weather forecast heat advisory

It’s so hot, in fact, the event organizers have issued a code red warning implying the potential for dangerous course conditions and are stressing the importance of safety, hydration, slowing down and taking care of yourself.

code red course system alert

course status warning system

If it bumps up to black, the ride is shut down. Fingers crossed the heat’s not only bearable, but that the course stays open!

 

What’s a 24 Hour Bike Ride?

A 24 hour bike ride isn’t the most standard of events, and I’ve gotten a lot of questions about it.

How does it work?

24 Hours of Booty in Charlotte is a 2.97 mile loop around a neighborhood called Myers Park. While it’s open to traffic, lanes are blocked off and well marked for riders.

You can ride the loop as many or as few times as you want over the course of 24 hours. There’s no winner; there’s no set distance goal; there’s no minimum requirement to ride. It’s just about riding, having fun, and raising money for cancer.

the booty loop charlotte nc

Where do you go when you’re not riding?

Home base is called “Bootyville”. It’s full of tents and tables for eating, vendor booths, and a huge campground for all our tents.

bootyville campground charlotte nc

Where do you sleep?

Most people stay in tents on a field in Bootyville. Some people head home for the night or grab some sleep in an air conditioned hotel. Staying overnight’s half the fun though. Winking smile

What do you eat?

Lots and lots of food. There are at least 4 meals served; usually 5. If you volunteer before the event like we do, tack on another meal to that. The Charlotte event is 7pm to 7pm, so they serve dinner, a midnight pizza party, an early riser breakfast, breakfast, and lunch. The food is provided by local restaurants. Of course there’s snacks and drinks galore to be found in between.

24 hour bike ride meal schedule

There’s always a chance to grab something and refuel- you burn a lot of calories in 24 hours!

How far do you ride?

As far as you want! Last year I rode 50+ miles. I’m hoping for a little more this year. Some people ride 300 or more!

Do you have to do the whole 24 hours?

Nope. In fact, the Charlotte ride is so popular they have a special event called “Reboot”, where riders can sign up to join the course during the day on the second day of the ride.

24 hours of booty charlotte schedule

How many people do it?

Charlotte, the largest of the 3 events, has 1,200 riders this year {plus 300 volunteers}.

A little perspective? That’s 1,500 people lining up in Bootyville. That’s how many people die each day from cancer. And that’s why these events are so important.

How much money does it raise?

Charlotte has already passed the amazing milestone of ONE MILLION dollars this year, and the event hasn’t even started. That’s beyond impressive, considered the grand total raised so far is $6 million.

24hob raises over $6 million dollars

What in the world do you pack?

Lots.of.stuff. A tent, sleeping bags, bikes, helmets, shoes, clothes, and more.

Here’s a list of what I brought last year.

bike stuff to pack for 24 hour ride

This year’s essentials are parred down a little thanks to experience.  I’m loading up on a few extras though, like ZICO coconut water, Arctic Ease ice compresses {in case the knee or ankle flare up}, and Grease Monkey wipes to clean up messy hands after messing with bike chains, etc.

packing for bike ride

bike helmet and shoes

camelbacks with coconut watergrease monkey wipesarctic ease wrapscamelbacks for hydration

Other 24 Hours of Booty posts:

24 Hours of Booty: Last year’s ride recap.

24 Reasons Everyone Should Sign Up for a 24 Hour Event

Packing for a 24 Hour Bike Ride

Let the Ride Begin: last year’s ride goals

Booty Round 2

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So, there you have it, a 24 hour bike ride. Now it’s time to toss the bikes on the car and head to Charlotte for a day of volunteering, and then tonight it’s time to ride!

Whew, good thing I carbo-loaded on salted caramel shortbread last night!

 

 

Psssst: Read this year’s 24 Hours of Booty recap here!!

The 5 Factors of Road Bike Buying

So you want to know how to buy a road bike. For some people, it may be as easy as going to the store, pointing at one, and going home. If you’re like me, it takes a lot of researching, thinking, and decision making.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind when looking to buy the perfect road bike.

Buying a Road Bike

Function

What do you want to do with your bike? Do you want to commute to work, ride a century, compete in triathlons, or hit the dirt trails?

hybrid bikeroad biketri bike

There are 4 main categories of bikes:

Hybrid– a “comfort” bike; a cross between a mountain bike and a road bike. Good for casual riding, commuting, and riding on mixed surfaces.

Mountain– a heavier, sturdier bike made for dirt trails and rougher riding; tend to have a good shock-absorbing system.

Road– a lighter bike made for riding on the road. Not as comfortable as a hybrid, but tends to be faster. Road bikes traditionally have handlebars that curve under instead of straight across.

Tri– similar to a road bike, but geared specifically for triathlons. Tend to be light, aerodynamic, and have handle bars made for you to ride in an aero position {hunkered down on your forearms}.

The following is geared towards buying a road bike, but much of it can be used for picking out any type of bike.

Fit

Finding a bike that fits you is probably the most important step. Riding a poorly fit bike can lead to injury and less efficient riding, not to mention it’s uncomfortable.

The first step is to choose the right size frame. Many bike brands come with numbered measurements {usually cm}, like 50, 52, or 54. Other brands come as S, M, L, etc. A bike shop should be able to help you figure out what size frame you need.

Some bikes will just feel more comfortable than others. Choose what feels best, not necessarily what’s the most popular or sells the best.

bike fit

The second step comes after you’ve bought your bike- have your bike professionally fitted. Many shops will offer road bike fitting services- ask if it’s included with the purchase of your bike. Even the tiniest adjustment can make a big difference in your ride and comfort, including seat height and position, arm position, handlebar height, cleat placement, etc.

Frame

Now’s when you really have to start thinking. What kind of frame do you want? Aluminum, steel, carbon fiber?

Aluminum and carbon fiber tend to be the two most popular options. Some bikes have a combination of both, where most of the frame is aluminum, but certain parts like seat posts or forks are made of carbon fiber.

Carbon fiber tends to be lighter and stronger, but it’s also more expensive.

The two factors to consider when picking a frame include: function and cost.

Function: Is it important to you to have a really light bike? Are you planning on keeping this bike for a long time, or will you want to upgrade in the future?

Cost: Carbon fiber frames are more expensive. Comparing your budget to frame options can make the decision easier.

Many people say you should “buy the frame”. That means buy the best frame for your budget- you can {almost} always upgrade your components later. If you plan to buy a new bike to upgrade in the future, this may not be as important to you.

Components

{I’m out of “F” words.}

The components are the parts that make the bike work. They include derailleurs, cranks, brakes, etc. There are several different companies that manufacture components, regardless of what brand of bike you buy. {Ex. Shimano, SRAM, etc.} Most companies have a line of several different qualities of components.

part of road bike

Talk to someone at the bike shop about what level components might be good for you. If you’re just starting out, low level components might be perfect. If you’re already a serious rider, you’ll probably want something of a higher caliber. If you fall somewhere in between, then pick something in between!

bike components

As the components go up in quality, the price of the bike goes up.

Many components can later be switched out and upgraded, but make sure to factor in cost when considering that option.

Budget

Bikes aren’t cheap. Decide how much you want to spend before walking in to a bike shop. If you have a strict budget, it’s better to let them know before they have you test riding a bike you’ll fall in love with but can’t afford. You may have to adjust your budget a little bit, but it’s good to have a starting point.

budget

Also decide if you can afford the type of bike you want now, or if it’d be a better idea to wait and save more money before making your purchase.

Don’t forget to factor in accessories: pedals, helmet, shoes, water bottle cages, bike computers, gloves, sunglasses, bags, lights, bike shorts, etc. It all adds up!

 

If you’ve bought a road bike, what advice do you have to add?

 

In other news: the winner of the ZICO Coconut Water giveaway is…..

Brandi!!! Email your address so you can get your case of coconut water! Smile

Fear on Wheels

You probably don’t pay that close attention, but for some crazy reason you do, you might be wondering why I posted about the fabulous bike I got after 2 years of wishing and dreaming.

Well, let me tell you.

total crisis panic button

I became absolutely paralyzed by fear.

Fear that this bike was too good for me.

Fear I didn’t deserve this bike.

Fear that I would break it. Wreck it. Destroy it.

Fear I wouldn’t like it.

Fear I wouldn’t want to ride it.

Irrational? Yes. Ridiculous? Yes. Going to keep me from riding? No. I mean, eventually.

panic button

After years of researching, saving, and waiting for the day I could finally own a road bike, it finally happened.

And then I absolutely panicked. Never once did I think about what it would be like to actual RIDE that bike. That I knew NOTHING about bikes. Not about REAL bikes- bikes I could break and destroy, not hybrid bikes that fell apart every time I blinked but didn’t care about.

broken bike

Not once did I think about where I would ride. Who I would ride with. How I would ever learn to ride on the road. The time it would take to ride.

What finally convinced me to go with this bike was that the bike guy said I would be significantly more comfortable on this bike when I was riding longer than 25 miles. Did I ever think about how far 25 miles is? No. Not until I took my bike out for the first time and rode 4 miles. FOUR.

25 miles on a bike is like 2 hours. Maybe more if you’re slow like me. How many days a week do I really have time to ride a bike for TWO hours?? Or more?

That four mile ride was all I needed to panic. Absolute, outright panic. The gears overwhelm me. I can barely remember what’s up and what’s down. I’ve been terrified of cross-chaining ever since I learned what it was. How do I avoid it? Doesn’t that mean you miss out on like half the gears? And how do I know I’m about to do it without staring down at the spinning gears between my legs? I certainly can’t do that on the road.

{I mean, seriously, if I Google “chain falling off bike”, a picture of my bike comes up.}

chain falling off bike fear

And oh the road. I thought we had enough trails to ride on so that I could avoid the road altogether. But running trails and biking trails are totally different. You cover mileage a lot faster on the bike- which means you run out of trail a lot faster. And parts of the trail turn to gravel and rough patches; wooden bridge slats; tree-root infested dirt segments. Road bikes are supposed to be on pavement. Will 10 yards of rickety bridge pop my tires?

How will I ever learn to ride well enough, or fast enough, to keep up with the “real” cyclists? The ones who meet at the crack of dawn Saturday mornings, on the way home from work on Wednesdays, or Sunday afternoon before meeting for coffee. The ones who could teach me how to ride on the road. The ones that consider 17-19mph slow. The ones who consider a 3 hour ride to a different state a “casual” ride.

bike crash

How do I know if that clicking in the bottom two gears is normal, or if something’s about to break? What about the constant clatter of what must be the bearings in the back wheel? You can’t read these worries away {my usual coping mechanism}.

Insane. Irrational. I know. {Even more ridiculous considering I’ve ridden more than four miles. Including the 12 miles I rode on this very same model bike a few weeks ago.} I feel ridiculous even just typing this. But it’s real. I promise. After my first ride I called the bike store and asked them to take it back. Ok, I begged. Begged them to let me bring it back and get a bike with streamers and training wheels. One I couldn’t possibly break. One that I could leave out of my sight for .2 seconds and not freak out. There might have been tears involved. Ok there were definitely tears involved. Lots of tears. {The answer was no, in case you were wondering.}

fear face

So there’s really only one thing to do. Get over it.

So I’m getting over it. I’m working on it. I’ve promised myself I’m not going to break it by looking at it. If I break the chain, I can get a new one. I can ride the 4 mile trail 80 times in a row until I want to venture on to the road, or get fast enough to keep up with the big boys. And, well, the liking it part? Let’s just hope as the panic dissipates, that part comes back.