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Spring Rides

2 May


IMG_20140216_142926077Typically I’m more a fan of autumn bike rides than spring due to the strong winds that accompany the warm temperatures of spring. Especially here in tornado alley. Today was as pretty a spring day as I can imagine having and without the strong wind. Add to that an unusually clear blue sky and it was a day to rival the best of days in October.

We did our usual fast and flat ride, except for the fast part. We rode to Jones and back, plus the sod farm loop, for 32 easy miles. Locals know exactly where I mean, and the rest of you don’t care so no need for further details. 🙂

Anyway, if it wasn’t for my neck being such a pain it would have been perfect. As it was my painful neck and shoulders didn’t ruin the enjoyment of the ride. I’d give it a solid 7 of 10 on the fun scale.

Energy wise I felt strong. Due to all my health issues I really haven’t ridden much, but I feel surprisingly strong for the number of miles I’ve put in so far this year.

Since I’m not allowed any sugar or carbohydrates (other than from vegetables and limited fruits), I’m also not ingesting any gels or Heed before, during or after a ride. I’m using the fat burning method to supply my energy. When you use sugar to fuel your efforts you have to continue to replenish or you bonk. The more sugar/carbs you ingest the more your body burns and the more you have to take in. On the other hand, there is a fuel source you most likely have plenty of: Fat.  Fat supplies you with an endless source of fuel – at least for most of us.

Don’t take my word for it, if you’re interested just Google something like, “burning fat instead of carbohydrates” and you’ll find tons of information. I mentioned Mark Sisson in an earlier post, he’s certainly written about fat being the fuel of choice. You have to adjust your body to relying and utilizing fat stores rather than carbs/sugar so it’s important to do it the right way. I continue to take gels with me just in case, but so far I haven’t needed them.



18 Apr

Due to one thing and another, all physical, I haven’t been on my bike much the last three months. Maybe not all physical, because the truth is riding hasn’t been as much fun as it once was.

On one level it seems understandable that after twenty-four years of frequent riding it might lose some of its appeal. Most things become dull and tedious long before, but never cycling. Over the last many months however, riding has frequently felt like something I had to do or needed to do, less like something I wanted to do.

Do you ever feel that way, and if so, what do you do? Push through or take a break from the bike?

I thought I might rediscover my passion for two-wheels by not setting a mileage goal this year. You know, be less goal oriented and just ride and enjoy it. It seemed to be working, I was off to a good start in January when I had several good, long rides that I absolutely enjoyed. But then things turned south. With a head wind.

My lower back, then neck decided to scream in protest whenever I tried to ride, and then finally every time I tried to do anything. On top of that, my gut issues from last April’s food poisoning fiasco during the California bike tour decided to join in and make me suffer. My doctor recommended I give up wheat (gluten) and a range of other foods – many of which most of us would consider healthy to see if that would help. It did, but not as much as I hoped or needed.

My nature to “read and research” everything led me to learn about my symptoms and troublesome foods and finally to recommended diets. The diet(s) led me to give up not only wheat and gluten, but also all other grains and most starches. It has been quite the learning curve.

Every time I thought I found the right diet – not diet in the traditional sense i.e., weight loss, but diet in terms of recommended (and banned) foods – I found something better and more tailored to my health issues. Plus the more I read, especially about wheat products, the more I saw that in many ways our wheat here in the U.S. is poison for many of us and other than taste good it offers nothing in the way of nutrients that I cannot get from other foods.

If you are interested, basically I am eating real food, not exactly Paleo, but close. I eat nothing packaged or processed or labeled “gluten-free”, no sugar, wheat or corn. I eat meat, poultry, fish, a range of vegetables and a few fruits. Also eggs, cheese, but not other dairy, and good fats. For additional carbs I am going to try adding small amounts of white rice because it is more easily tolerated than brown rice.

Through trial and error I am learning what I can eat and what I need to stay away from, or be ready to pay the price. Thus far I have not missed any food I have had to give up enough to pay that price. It is a way of eating that continues to evolve as I am constantly tweaking the “approved” foods list. I keep a food diary of the foods that bother me and the ones that don’t, and I adjust my “diet” accordingly.

Repeat after me: getting old is not for sissies.

It has been about six weeks and I am finally feeling better. Not great, but better and most importantly for me I feel like I am finally on the right track.

The ride I took today reinforced that for me. It is the first ride of any distance I have done since February or early March and I felt strong, stronger than I expected. I wondered about that since I am not eating that many carbohydrates, but the protein and fat must be working. As I understand it, the idea is that your body will burn fat for energy if you do not provide it with a source of carbs. No gels or sugary drinks today, but I never felt like I might bonk. A good sign for a two hour ride.

Now my neck is another story, but I did it and I will nurse the neck and shoulder along. I needed to ride, I wanted to ride and it was worth the pain-in-the-neck to do it!

The issue of cycling being about play and not fitness (except as a byproduct of fun) is still something I want to focus on and explore.

Onward and upward.

Those Annoying Cycling Goals

29 Aug

I am way off the mark to meet my goal of 3,000 cycling miles for 2013. I was well ahead of schedule until my California food-borne illness fiasco in April, which had me sidelined for May and most of June – two of the best months for cycling we have. I’ve been playing catch up ever since.

I realize 3,000 miles in a year isn’t much for a lot of you, but a goal is a goal and whatever it is the plan is to meet it and maybe even exceed it. At least in January, February, even March it is… now, not as much.

For me to get 3,000 miles, I am going to have to average 70 miles each and every week from now until the end of the year.

Doesn’t sound too difficult, but considering I’m going to be gone and without a bike some of those weeks it’s not going to be easy.

Know what I’m using as my incentive to get it done?

Not making a mileage goal for 2014!

Seriously, always having a mileage goal for something you love can make it feel like work and just something else you have to do.

Plus, I’ve done other activities like swimming, hiking and running that don’t count towards that cycling goal, but are things I enjoy and want to do so why limit myself with a cycling goal. For instance, this past week we were at the Grand Canyon North Rim, took lots of hikes, but didn’t ride a single mile.

One of the readers here when I posted my goal for this year back in January told me she wasn’t making a cycling goal because she wanted to be free to walk, hike, etc. and not feel that she had to always bike to meet some arbitrary goal.

Wish I had done that. I should have, I saw the signs, I didn’t make 2012’s cycling goal either: goal of 3200 miles, completed 2900 and some change.

Really, I’m just not as focused in general on training type cycling as I was in years past. I don’t know if it’s my age or the fact that I’ve been doing this too long (23 years) to remain so gung-ho – I guess probably both.

My focus on the type of riding I want to do is shifting too. Although I ‘m still more of a cyclist (spandex-clad) than a bike rider (regular clothes) I’m slowly (no pun here) but surely moving more in the direction of bicycling. I imagine I’ll always do both, but I like using my bike for transportation which has nothing really to do with miles or speed. I also like being fit and strong, and fast for a middle-aged woman (true if I live to be over one hundred…), so I’ll still ride and track speed, heart rate, etc., at times too.

My plan is for my Garmin 510 to have 3,000 miles of cycling on 12/31/13. I wouldn’t feel as good about not having a goal next year if I don’t make this one. I’m not even sure why exactly, just one of quirks that serves me well at times and makes me miserable at times.

I’m looking forward to next year and not having a goal – just riding to ride. What about you – did you set a goal? Regretting it like me or if you’re going to smash it – do tell.

30 Days of Biking–Day 5

5 Apr

Day 5’s ride was the longest of the #30daysofbiking rides so far.  I joke that rides in street clothes are rides of a *bike rider* and rides in spandex are rides of a *cyclist*. It is a well understood fact (by most anyway) that drivers are more tolerant of bike riders than cyclists.

I talked yesterday about how easy going drivers were on Day 4’s ride, today’s bike jersey/shorts ride i.e., cyclist ride was an example of how irritated drivers can be. I studied sociology in college and maybe that’s why I find it so interesting that depending on how you are dressed (and possibly the type of bike you’re riding) people actually react differently to you. It wouldn’t be an issue for cyclists except the irritated drivers sometimes respond in a manner that puts us at risk. There have been studies done confirming this, according to one, the safest person riding a bike is a female pulling a trailer commonly used for hauling kids.

Today’s ride was great regardless. We parked at Oakdale school and rode to Jones on Hefner Rd. The same road that hundreds of cyclists (and bike riders 🙂 will be riding tomorrow at the Redbud Classic bike event. Signage was already out warning drivers to expect possible delays.


The ride to Jones is so peaceful (and easy), especially on weekdays when most are at work. We saw more cows than people. I had to stop to take a picture of this longhorn and her calf. 


Once we hit Jones and started heading back we decided to just ride home and pick up the car later. Good decision because once we started heading north we had a very nice tailwind from the southwest. You can see how strong the wind is from the flag in the photo below.

Aren’t the redbuds beautiful!


We picked up another 8 miles by riding home of mostly easy pedaling although there was a fair amount of traffic. One person buzzed us even though the left lane was empty choosing to stay in the right lane where we were – passing us very close and THEN got over into the left lane.

Once we could we got off the busy streets and ride through neighborhoods to get home we did. Also gave me time to get a few more shots.


Day 5: 26.5 miles/14.8 avs/119 ahr/922ft of ascent.

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