fitness · Guest Post · race report · racing · triathalon

Racing at IRONMAN Lake Placid (Guest Post)

Last weekend, I participated in IRONMAN Lake Placid. It was my third IRONMAN and I went into the weekend feeling strong but also keeping in mind the course was hard and in long races, nothing feels guaranteed.

A sea of swim caps just before the swim start with Mirror Lake looking calm.

There are a few things that reliably help me through a long swim, one of them being a reminder that when I was a kid you could not get me out of the water! I know lots of triathletes just aim to survive the swim, but I’m usually able to enjoy it at least a little. Mirror Lake was a beautiful spot to swim 3.8km, and while I wasn’t able to use the cable much and found myself butting up against lots of (at the time, annoying) swimmers despite the rolling start, I found a decent rhythm in the swim. Later, I was pleased to see I took a little bit of time off my last IRONMAN swim time. Regular swimming with Balance Point Triathlon has given me a lot more confidence in the swim over the past few years and other than some super painful chafing on my neck (there’s a first for everything!), I’ll look back on the swim with fond memories of a solid warmup (1:11:34) for the long day ahead.

After going on a few trips to train in the big hills/mountains, riding portions of the bike course, driving the bike course, listening to podcasts and watching videos about the terrain, asking anyone who’d offer advice, and purchasing ~a bajillion dollars in upgrades to my bike set-up, I felt as ready as I could be for the bike portion of IRONMAN Lake Placid. Turns out, the challenge was “just right” and I loved watching people fade on the second lap. I faded too, but when it started pouring rain on the climb back in, I remembered the rides I’d done in the similarly pouring rain at home and hoped any 35-39-year-old women out there (stayed safe but) slowed down.

The climbs weren’t the only thing that were absolutely breathtaking–the scenery was postcard beautiful nearly the whole time and the descent into Keene I’d worried about for weeks was scary but as I hit 76km/hr on my skinny (but tubeless and new!) tires I was so grateful for plenty of space from my fellow racers, my new bike and the experiences I’ve had on bikes in hilly places over the last decade or so. I hated watching my average speed drop on the backside of the course, but I felt so strong on the flats and was warned about that dropoff! The backdrop of towering Whiteface Mountain and knowing that Brent climbed it just for training a few days before inspired me, too, and gave me some perspective that while the course was tough, it was in the realm of appropriately challenging. I got to see my non 35-39-year-old women friends (mostly as they passed me–way to go!) and other than some blatant drafting that set the obsessive rule-follower in me off, I had the kind of bike I could only hope for. I assumed I’d gone slower (6:13:26) here than last year on the also-challenging-but-maybe-not-quite-as-challenging IRONMAN Mont Tremblant bike course, but turns out that was a PR. Amazing what hard work and about ~$10,000 in upgrades can get you!

Heading out on the first lap, smiling about the downhill start.

In any race, I worry (a lot) about (a lot of) things–from losing my goggles or drowning in the swim to getting a flat tire or crashing on the bike–so I’m always a bit relieved to get to the run and only have to worry about moving forward on my own two feet. With that in mind, I started the run happy to be off the bike. Even though I knew I might fade later, I went with the good feeling and let it rip. Between spectators hitting the nail on the head with their Goggins-inspired encouragement and fellow runners I chatted with on the first loop, it was easy to smile for the cameras! In the back of my mind, I knew I had some work ahead of me and if I’m being honest, the hill I was dreading on the way back into town was every bit as hard as I thought it would be–yowzer! 

Looking a little bit more tired but giving the thumbs up heading uphill on lap 2.

On lap 2, I felt the twinge of cramps. I held them off by slowing, doing the math on how slow I could go and still hit my (arbitrary, ambitious, motivating) goal of averaging <6:00/km. At one point, I rubbed some of my base salts on a nasty wetsuit burn on my neck to distract myself from the cramps. Boy, did that remind me that things could get worse! The scenery, especially the ski jumps in the distance, and the shared suffering with other racers got me through the long out and back, as did thinking on purpose about friends and family–and drinking coke at every aid station. Seeing my friends, telling strangers they looked good, and reminding myself out loud that “it’s not supposed to be easy!” helped, too. My coach Ang’s reminder that “suffering is a privilege” helped me push myself instead of shying away from the challenge. I spent a while imagining my dog Walter pulling me by his leash before tackling that darn hill one more time! Luckily, the love of my life and total hunk Brent was stationed mid-ascent with one of my favourite songs in the world playing for me. Better yet, he let me know that I was fairly firmly setting myself up to finish 10th in my AG–good enough (in the Women for Tri era, but more to explore and unpack there!) for a Kona qualifier. From there, I felt lighter in my step and had to remind myself to enjoy the last mile, taking some time to let it all soak in. 

In the finisher chute.

As a girl who cited period cramps and walked off the track the day we ran the mile in 9th grade gym class, I always draw strength from looking back on my journey to the point where I’ll pay lots of money to run lots of miles. As cheesy as it sounds, as I ran to the finish line, I thought on purpose about how proud of that young girl I am for the progress she’s made and the woman I’ve become. I somehow held it together at the finish line (4:09:13 marathon, which works out to 5:56/km) and almost argued with Brent (sorry, honey–you’re the best!) when he told me my finishing time and that I’d PR’d across the board and overall (11:42:19). 

I am so grateful for the way that my person (Brent), my coach, my tri club, my friends, coworkers and family have supported and encouraged me and for the opportunity to choose to suffer in this sport. As I’ve said before, I love to see what I can get out of myself and racing helps me do that. Can’t wait to do it again (after some recovery and some heat-training) in just under 12 weeks. 

If IMLP is on your maybe list, move it to your must-do and get training–it’s no joke! 

Cheryl MacLachlan is an endurance athlete, teacher and coach living in London, ON. She is always looking for another bike and loves her dog Walter, books and writing.

competition · femalestrength · fitness · racing · team sports

Meet our newest sports hero: Jolien Boumkwo, Belgian shot-putter and substitute hurdler

Hey y’all– in case you’re in need of some happy, joyful, positive news today: look no further. Meet Jolien Boumkwo, Belgian shot-putter and all-around good egg. She literally embodied the spirit of teamwork on Saturday at the European Championships in Track and Field. How did she do this? By winning her shot-putting competition? Nope. She finished seventh, which is excellent. But no, it wasn’t that.

Boumkwo ran the hurdles race even though she is not a hurdler, but in fact a shot putter (completely different skillsets, I’m told). Why did she do it? Because: a) no one else on her team was available (due to injuries); and b) they needed someone in the race in order: b1) not to get disqualified from continued competition; and b2) get one point for their team in the hopes of not getting relegated from Division 1.

So Boumkwo did it. Here is the race. Watch it; you’ll be glad you did.

Shot putter Jolien Boumkwo, running carefully and powerfully over hurdles on her way to a team point for Belgium.

I love it that she’s tall enough basically to step over the hurdles and that she’s being careful not to get injured. It’s also nice (and appropriate) that she got high fives and handshakes from some of the other hurders after the race.

For contrast, here’s what Boumkwo doing what she’s trained to do.

Jolien Boumkwo, poetry and strength and precision in motion.

In her spare time, Boumkwo throws hammers, too. Note how far this one goes.

I came across the story in the New York Times, and of course the commenters had plenty to say. The comments were about equally divided between congratulations and thanks to her for demonstrating the spirit of teamwork, and shared anecdotes of cases where folks substituted in a not-their-sport competition and took one for the team. There were high jumpers who tried pole vaulting, hurdlers who tried relay races, swimmers who tried diving, and so on. They all said it gave them an appreciation for others’ talent and a feeling of team unity.

Or course there was one crabby person who said Boumkwo’s performance was embarrassing. Naturally, the rest of us piled on, replying that they were quite mistaken. Here’s what I added:

Her team needed someone in the race to get a point, and she volunteered (obviously with the approval of her coaches). It was heartening to see her, a champion athlete in her own right, put her ego aside to move safely and strongly through the race on behalf of her team. It wasn’t embarrassing– not to her, not to her competitors, not to her team, not to me, and not to other sports fans. It was joyful, smile-inducing, and inspiring in the best ways.

I assume you agree, FIFI readers?

Have I missed any other heroes this week? Let us know. Or tell us about your favorite moments of team participation.

fitness · race report · racing · running

On the Beauty of the Pace Rabbit

By Alison Conway

For Jamie

Last Sunday, I ran my first Half Marathon in thirty-nine months. I was very, very nervous: it had been a long time since I tried to hold any kind of race pace for more than 10 km. I decided I would put my trust in the Pace Rabbits holding the 1:50 sign. Usually I’m not a fan—I don’t like the crowd around the Rabbits and want my watch to set the pace, not theirs. But this time out, I wanted to avoid looking at my watch, to run by feel and just hold steady.

Immediately, I liked my Rabbits. They made the pace feel effortless and the woman’s strong legs had an easy cadence. They were great on the hills—“We’re going to run this together”—and good at negotiating water stations. They didn’t talk too much. I kept my eye on the dark pony tail in front of me and remembered to breath. I thought about how the race might feel for the Rabbits. Presumably, the pace was not demanding for them, but they had to hold those signs and check the times written on their arms and compare their watches while making encouraging noises to the small pack behind them. They had given up a race day of their own to make someone else’s day better.

After the race, I thanked them. And then I suddenly realized that I knew the woman from Before Times. Before Covid cancelled Boston, before an injury robbed me of hope, for a while, and eighteen months of running, there had been a woman at races in Kelowna who ran ahead of me. I had tried to catch her but never could. She was training as a massage therapist and spent two years in my valley before returning to her home town. We had talked. And now, here she was: Jamie Komadina.

To say that it felt miraculous to have the past meet the present on the streets of Vancouver is to understate how comforted I was to see Jamie’s face again. She told me about her recent Boston marathon odyssey l (travel horrors, a sudden flu, and the miracle of making it to the start line) and how she hoped to run it again. “Boston 2025!” And there it was: the future. With strong legs and an easy cadence.

We all should have a Pace Rabbit in our lives. Someone who makes the hard things easier, who gives up time in the limelight so that others can have theirs. Someone who opens the door to the future and says, “Look!”

We all should have a Pace Rabbit in our lives, so that we can learn to be one in turn.

Photo description: Alison and her Pace Rabbit, Jamie Komadina, at the finish line of the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon.

Alison Conway works and runs in Kelowna, BC.

fitness · racing · running · training

Run for Retina Research: Last year of a great local event

My team, RunFam, at the Run for Retina Research. Five runners standing arm in arm, smiling, from left right: short-haired woman (Pat) with sunglasses on and bib number 297, man (Kevin) with a black ball cap and tank and bib number 296, man (Ed) with black ball cap, woman (Tracy) with black ballcap and sunglasses and tank with bib number 192, blond-haired woman (Julie) wearning subglasses and a tank and leaning in, bib number 248
Image description: My team, RunFam, at the Run for Retina Research. Five runners standing arm in arm, smiling, from left right: short-haired woman (Pat) with sunglasses on and bib number 297, man (Kevin) with a black ball cap and tank and bib number 296, man (Ed) with black ball cap, woman (Tracy) with black ballcap and sunglasses and tank with bib number 192, blond-haired woman (Julie) wearning subglasses and a tank and leaning in, bib number 248.

On Sunday I did the Run for Retina Research 10K. It’s an event that has been running for 20 years, with options for 5K, 10K, or a half marathon. I’ve done it many times (including in October 2022), and it is known locally as a fun race where you usually get an extra jacket or technical top. It’s also for a really good cause in support of urgent eye care at one of our hospitals.

But oh wow what a brutal 10K it was. I have done other 10Ks without training enough, but I don’t think I’ve ever before been untrained quite to this degree. And of course we would be having unseasonably warm weather for April.

Despite that it was a tough slog and I ran most of it on my own, with my music and my inner voice vacillating between “why are you doing this?” and “you can do this!” it actually turned out to be all-in-all a fun day for the RunFam.

Our team was the second highest fundraising team of the event. We deserve to feel good about this considering that across all the distances there were 700 participants.

We all finished even though we didn’t feel super-prepared. For me, it was my 10K PW (“personal worst”) but oh well. I am not in the shape that I used to be and I didn’t train consistently, so to expect anything more would have been to believe in miracles. That said, I am now feeling inspired for the next event, the Shoppers Drug Mart sponsored Women’s Run on June 11th. Maybe this time, an upcoming race will be the training goal I need to actually get me out the door for regular training. The Run for Retina was supposed to function in that same incentivizing way but it didn’t. But that doesn’t mean the next challenge won’t.

It’s also just fun to get out and do things with others, even if I score a PW instead of a PB. And I’m happy we took part in the last ever Run for Retina Research. Based on the jackets hanging in my closet and the one long-sleeved jersey, I can see that I’ve done it four times. The latest jacket is quite lovely, a white and grey zip-up that fits well and looks quite smart.

I know lots of people who don’t like doing events that travel the same routes that they do on a regular basis. It’s great to do destination events, but I actually enjoy the simplicity of keeping it local and I like contributing to London, Ontario’s vibrant running community. We are incredibly fortunate to have pathways all along the river, and somehow on race day those well-travelled routes feel different and more alive.

How do you feel about local events?

fitness · racing · triathalon

Kincardine Women’s Triathlon Is Kind of Back (new name, new location)

Image description: logo with three black horizontal lines sloping upward, getting progressively shorter, over top of the words “lakeshore women’s TRIATHLON”

Ah! The memories! If you’ve been with us from the very beginning, you might remember that my “fittest by 50 challenge” was to do an Olympic distance triathlon (and I did two of them). That goal arose out of my first triathlon experiences at a very friendly women’s event, welcoming to beginners: The Kincardine Women’s Triathlon.

I signed up at Sam’s urging, during the annual sign-up frenzy (spots always used to fill within 2-3 hours of registration opening) on January 1st, never having done a triathlon before. It gave me a training goal the very prospect of which filled me with fear and awe. It got me training. And even though the swim was cancelled, turning it into a run-bike-run event (First Triathlon Try: The Tri That Wasn’t).

The following year I was more prepared, after a winter and spring of training with a club. I had a better sense of my ability and a much stronger run. The swim wasn’t cancelled and I had a nicer bike. The bike was still my weakest event, but I had a good day nevertheless. My race report for 2014 is here. A year later we went back as a group again: Road Trip! Sam, Tracy, and their badass friends and relatives head off to the Kincardine Women’s Triathlon.

Well the triathlon has now moved from Kincardine to Saugeen Shores. It has changed its name and is no longer in July. But it promises the same welcoming, friendly, encouraging vibe. If you are interested, sign-ups for the Lakeshore Women’s Triathlon in Saugeen Shores on August 12 are coming up: registration opens on March 18, 2023. If it is anything like before, registration will also close on March 18, a few hours after it opens. They haven’t posted details yet beyond saying registration is limited to 300 people and that it opens at 10 a.m. on March 18th. You can keep an eye on their webpage here.

My triathlon days are behind me, but I can’t deny that triathlon is great fun, especially when it’s new and exciting. Back then, heading into our Fittest by 50 Challenge, it really mobilized my motivation for training and my enthusiasm for challenging goals that were new and a bit scary. If you’ve been tinkering with the idea of giving it a go, I can’t recommend this event enough.

fitness · Guest Post · injury · mindfulness · racing · triathalon

Pause and Ponder (guest post)

This is a reblog of a newsletter post from the Rockvale Writers’ Colony by Sandy Coomer, its founder and director. Note: I’ll be there for a two-week writing residency in mid-October! She has things to say about what happened when she had to take a pause from life as usual. I’ll let her take it from here. -catherine

Anyone who knows me well knows I’m very active and busy. That’s my natural tendency. When I rest, I’m often thinking of and planning for the next burst of energy required for the next new project or idea. It’s hard for me to slow down. In fact, I rarely stop for long . . . unless I’m forced to. Funny how that works. When it’s necessary to pause, when I’m required to stop my busy enterprises, I’m pleasantly surprised at how refreshing it is to simply “Be.”

I had a triathlon race in Wisconsin this past weekend. I had a good swim and was at mile 15 of the bike when a pedestrian/spectator ran onto the bike course and we collided. The collision made me crash head-first into a parked pickup truck. The moments that followed were interesting. I was unable to say where I was or what my name was. I didn’t feel panic – just a sort of confused wonder at what I was doing on the road. I knew I was in a race, but I had no idea where. When someone told me I was in Wisconsin, I remember thinking, “How in the world did I get to Wisconsin?” Within a few more minutes, I remembered everything, and then I was whisked away to the emergency room.

I’m not badly hurt, but I will need a few weeks to heal from my injuries. It’s a forced pause, a slow-down to allow my body to heal and my concussion-addled brain to steady. Living in the still air of patience and acceptance is a lesson in a different sort of fortitude than the one I’m used to. It wasn’t in my plans to get hurt, but the hurt came anyway, and it’s my responsibility now to see what I can learn from it. Otherwise, the experience is wasted.

Here’s what I’m discovering from my forced “Pause.”

  1. People matter more than anything else. So many people have taken the time to check on me and see if I need anything. Am I attentive to others’ needs when I’m in “Busy” mode? Can I take a moment every day to tune into another person’s heart and say “I see you, you matter?” 
  2. Being still teaches a certain kind of balance which can lead to delight. I sat on my back porch yesterday and watched the afternoon fade into dusk. Two chipmunks were chasing each other from the porch to the grass and into the burrow under the shed. I felt like I was a crucial part of this scene. I belonged in an intricate way to the wonders of nature. I didn’t move or direct anything. I simply was there.
  3. Letting go of perfectionism is the key to being satisfied. I was sorely disappointed I didn’t finish the race. I kept replaying the details of the wreck in my head over and over. What did I do wrong? What should I have done differently? Sometimes, stuff happens that we can’t control. Sometimes, we simply have to accept the drama of the day and move on with gratitude.
  4. Beauty exists in every situation if you stay open to it. As I was being driven from the ER back to my hotel, I noticed the light glinting off the water of the lake, little cups of sparkle and glee. I thought, “how beautiful.” Back at home, I settled into my own comfortable bed with its floral comforter and sage green pillows and I thought, “how lovely.” Do I even notice this when I’m focused on all I need to get done?

When I think about my writing, I realize that if I get too focused on the achievement aspect and forget the beauty of each moment, I can miss the whole point of writing entirely. I write because I have something valuable to say. My writing comes from my soul, not my ambition. Remembering that is what will keep me at the page. 

A “Pause,” forced or chosen, can be a time of pondering and eventually, great insight. If we believe every situation has a purpose and a lesson, we’re more apt to let experiences teach us and take the lessons to heart. Yes, we learn a lot from work, but we learn equally from not working, from pausing our “Go” button, and simply allowing the universe to share its infinite wisdom. I would not have chosen to wreck in the race, but I AM choosing to ponder the Pause, the Moment, the Wonder of Being Here Right Now. 

It’s something I’m glad I didn’t miss.

-sandy

cycling · racing · Zwift

Do you Zwift? Want to give racing a try?

Team TFC

There’s space on my team which is competing in the Zwift Racing League’s Tuesday night series. We’re a D team. The races are at 730 pm and you don’t need to commit to every week. Indeed if our roster is full we might need to have some people sit out some weeks. Don’t worry. We’re a ways to go from that.

The team takes virtual riding seriously but we’re also about having fun. The goal is to learn and get better in a supportive environment.

I think it’s fun. Message me if you’re into Zwifting, think you might like to give racing a try, and you’re a Category D rider.

Here are some steps for getting started.

competition · fitness · racing · Zwift

When is a race not a race? When it’s a ride. But don’t worry Zwift has lots of room for non racing, competitive impulses…

I’m riding the Tour of Watopia right now–having finished the Tour de Zwift last month, and in each event–in the chat waiting for the event to start, along with all of the cheers from various locations around the world–someone inevitably asks, “Is this a race?”

Answers appear fast and furious in the chat. On the one hand, it’s a tour, not a race. On the other hand, many people like to treat it as a race and think of themselves as racing. But thinking of yourself as racing doesn’t make an event a race and inevitably there’s conflict between those on the official line–it’s a tour, not a race–and those who like to treat the tours as races.

Some people think that any time there are two or more people riding bikes, it can be treated like a race. Now that’s obviously false because group rides are definitely not races. It’s rude to treat a co-operative group ride like a race. That’s bad form both in the real world and in Zwift. Group rides are not races. In Zwift, there are ride leads, with a yellow beacon, who ride at the front, and sweeps, with a red beacon, who ride at the back. In the real world, it’s also dangerous to treat a ride like a race.

Some events are clearly not races, see group rides above, and other events are clearly races. Events organized as races and as advertised as races–are definitely races. In Zwift, races use Zwiftpower for official results. There are rules that need to be followed, such as riding in the right category, sharing correct weight information, having a verifiable power source, or you risk disqualification. There are also rules for that particular race such as points for fastest through a segment, or first to the top of a KOM. For my guide to beginning racing on Zwift, see here.

Zwift’s Tours are not the usual group rides–no leads, sweeps, or advertised pace–and they also are not races.

Here’s the description, “The Tour of Watopia is a multi-stage journey on Zwift. All 5 stages will earn you double XP, shorthand for Experience Points. Collect enough XP and you’ll level up in the game. With new levels, come new in-game routes, products, and/or clothes.”

Q: Will there be races during the Tour?

A: No, but you are welcome to run/ride as fast as you like. These are group events and event results won’t be displayed at the end.

There’s actually a philosophical point here about the meaning of terms, and ‘race’ is ambiguous between meaning something that individuals do and an ‘event.’ Some people want to say that you can’t individually race unless the other person, or persons, you’re racing against agree to race. One way for sure to know they’ve all agreed is that you are taking part in a racing event.

You might know the frustration of not racing when others think you are. I used to be amused by guys passing me on the bike path and occasionally making comments about my go-fast bike going slowly, when I thought what I was doing was obeying the bike path speed limit of 20 km/hr. They thought we were racing and I thought I was riding inside the rules of the road.

On my former bike club’s weekend social rides we didn’t race–except for town sign sprints–and people who treated our club ride like a race, pushing the pace past our advertised speed were invited to come out for weeknight races. If you want to race, we have races, but this isn’t it.

Back to the Zwift tours, I think they are a bit like Grand Fondos–mass participation cycling events with the motto, let the racers race and let the riders ride. I blogged about the MEC one here, the Niagara Falls one here, and the County one here.

Zwift has a fair bit of activity that falls in the middle, things that aren’t official races and aren’t group rides either. For example, the leaderboards for KOMs and sprints when you’re just riding in the world, compare your time to everybody else’s. You might be trying to get the fastest sprint time while others are riding through the segment as part of their recovery ride. You’re racing in the sense that we might say we ‘race for the bus’ if we’re late in the morning. You’re racing but the bus isn’t.

Like Gran Fondos they provide for competitive opportunities for people with a competitive streak who don’t want, for whatever reason, to take part in organized races.

A screenshot of a Zwift ride.
competition · fitness · racing

Getting better through caring about getting faster: Skill development and reasons to race

I like racing and I like being part of sports communities where racing is part of what goes on, even if I’m not actively racing myself. I like watching races and marshalling. I like being part of a racing community. Part of the reason is that I’m a bit of snob, not about speed, but about skills, and the two things are connected.

Now it’s true I also like racing for its own sake. I’m often in the position of trying to persuade other people to give it a try. See Six reasons not to race and why they might be mistaken. Racing or not is an ongoing conversation at Fit is a Feminist Issue. We’ve written a lot about competition and racing here on the blog. Regular readers know that Kim has mixed feelings about racing. Tracy has written about racing anyway even though she knows she won’t win. I’ve recently written about why I love racing on Zwift.

In this post though I’m going to talk about one thing I like about racing. But to be clear I’m not arguing for it in the sense of giving reasons that others need to accept. If you don’t like it, that’s just fine too.

My suspicion is that lots of women might like it but don’t think it’s for them. See my post Where are the women?

When some people talk about the benefits of racing, they focus on the value of testing yourself and developing your potential as an athlete, but the benefit I want to talk about is about is community and skill development.

I’ve been part of recreational racing teams as a road cyclist, a track cyclist, a dinghy sailor, and briefly as a rower.

I like it best when teams race regularly, recreationally, against one another. You get to know people and learn a lot from one another. We don’t think about that as part of competition but it’s very much the case for recreational racing.

In communities where everyone who has a road bike starts out racing, you find that people are pretty skilled riders. Racing teaches you to ride around corners and to ride closely with others, to descend at speed and to climb efficiently. It’s true you can learn these things without racing but racing communities tend to focus on skill development. You get an awful lot of practice even if you only race for a little while.

An aside: I also like it when club social rides and races are clearly separate things. You can tell the guy (why is it always a guy?) who keeps pushing the pace and riding off the front, to cool his jets and come back on race night if he wants to race. You can say, decisively, this is the team social ride. There is a time and place for racing and this isn’t it.

Back to skill development. This is even more true when it comes to dinghy sailing. You learn to sail by learning to race. Once people can do the basics then you go out to club races once a week and follow along, watching what other people do, accepting friendly suggestions from other racers, and competing against other novice crews at the back of the fleet. Racing means you get good at maneuvering near other boats and good at getting the boat in and out of the water in all sorts of conditions. If you’re not racing there is no reason to tack cleanly and quickly. These skills are useful for all kinds of sailing but it’s racing that encourages their development.

This also all true for rowing. There may be recreational sailors and rowers who’ve only ever recreationally raced or sailed but I suspect there aren’t very many.

You might only want to ride a bike, row, or sail for fun but for most people, you learn the foundational skills to do these things well, through racing.

Sam and Sarah snipe racing. It’s a light wind day and no one is going anywhere very fast.
cycling · fitness · racing · Zwift

Riding with the women on Zwift

I posted this morning about racing with guys and missing the company of women on Zwift.

For what it’s worth, by profile, for racing purposes, I’m much more like the men my age in terms of weight and power which are the factors that matter in cycling.

But I also like riding with women.

So this week I did a bit of both.

First, I rode in a meet up with Australia’s Queen Bees. Their Friday afternoon lunch hour ride (in virtual France) was 8 pm my time Thursday and that worked out perfectly. It actually ended up being a nice mix of Canadians and Australians. I didn’t want to race the usual Thursday night TTT as we’re all in various stages of recovering from covid here at my house. There was lots of chatter on text and on discord in the meet up and I’ll definitely ride with them again.

They also have awesome, real life, kit.

Queen Bee bike jersey

Saturday I had planned to ride Wahoo Le Col’s team recon race since my TFC Team, Dynamite, will be racing in the ZRL series Tuesdays. “The Wahoo Le Col team has organized a Saturday racing series for men, and a separate (new!) series for women, where each week’s race uses the route that will be raced in ZRL 3 days later. Women’s event Saturdays at 3pm GMT/10am EST/7am PST.”

I started but I’d already ridden 25 km with Sarah’s ZSUN team for their Saturday morning base builder ride, quickly realized that I’d recovered enough to ride my bike but not enough to race, and decided to sit and have coffee instead. Excellent choice.

And then the ladies of the Herd, on their Sunday Sip ‘s Spin ride also decided to do a ride over of the Tuesday ZRL race course, Neokyo All Nighter. Yay! It was a great group and a nice easy-for-me pace.

Tuesday night it will be and TFC’s Team Dynamite racing on that course. I’m looking forward to it!