cycling · fitness · Zwift

Sam is Sweeping Again!

Not this kind of sweeping.

A toddler with two brooms sweeping the kitchen

Group ride sweeping, on a bike.

On the bike rally, and on other large group social rides that I’ve done, sweeping means riding behind the last rider. You can mark the beginning of the ride with the ride leads and the end by the sweeps. On the bike rally you even get special decorations for your helmet so people know you’re the sweep.

When you arrive, people cheer. “The sweeps are in!”

Here’s an older post about my day Sweeping in the rain.

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Sam’s black Giro helmet with a pink broom attached to the top

On Zwift social rides there’s both a leader marked by a yellow beacon over the rider’s avatar and a sweep, marked by a red beacon over the avatar. But on Zwift sweeping means something different than just riding at the end. On Zwift, ideally you drop back behind the main group, collecting slower riders who’ve been dropped, and let them draft you to get back on to the main bunch.

You need to be strong to do this. Once you’re more than a few seconds off the back of a big group on Zwift you need to work really hard to get back on. Often the people you’re trying to help aren’t strong enough and then your task is helping them clump together to organize a second group. This has been my experience more often than successfully getting people back to the main bunch.

When I first started doing group rides I’d hear ride leads say if you’re feeling strong and frisky, don’t go off the front. Instead drop back and help the sweeps. It’s true that it’s a really good workout and you can feel you’re contributing positively to the group ride ethos.

I’ve started volunteering to sweep on our team rides and sometimes when I’m riding with other groups like the Herd. Here’s me with Karl. He’s got the red beacon which identifies him as a sweep. I’m the secondary sweep that day. That day he ran people who could manage it back to the main group, and I gathered the others into a group at the back. We chatted by text in the Companion app and by voice in Discord.

May be an image of road and text

I like sweeping. It’s good to feel useful and play a role in welcoming visitors to our TFC community.

However, I also like sprinting through the sprint segments (our team social ride sprints and regroup) and you can’t both sprint and sweep. Likely, I’ll do a bit of both moving forward.

Wish me luck!

cycling · fitness · training · Zwift

It’s Tron Time for Sam and Sarah

Screenshots of Sam completing the Everest Challenge

I told you about it when I was halfway there. I made the home stretch my winter cycling challenge. And last night, I did it. I completed Zwift’s Everest Challenge. I climbed more than 50,000 m. I got my Tron.

I finished the Friday night Smash Fest race which had 400 m+ climbing and discovered I was really close. With Sarah’s encouragement I went down the hill and turned around at the bottom and started climbing again. It was late. I was tired. And it wasn’t easy. But I did it!

Even Strava called it a “massive effort.” Thanks Strava.

Let us celebrate that!

What’s in it for me, aside from looking cool and bragging rights? The Tron is the fastest all round bike on Zwift. I’m excited. I’m not sure what colour I’ll eventually land on (you can change it easily with a slider bar) but here’s me on the bright pink version.

Sarah got hers the week previous, with less fuss and fan fare. (She’s like that.) She was determined to have it for a race that was on this week and so spent last weekend climbing. We both want to thank Neil at the Bike Shed, where we Zwifted pre-pandemic, who suggested we make the Everest Challenge our first Zwift challenge. It was also Neil who first rented us and then sold us our trainer when the pandemic shut things down. Thanks Neil!

Here’s Sarah’s Tron story:

“The long process of getting the Tron was an interesting one for me. I am really not much of a climber and would never normally have chosen workouts or recovery rides on steep hills, but the advantage that the Tron provides, and the peer pressure from teammates to get one, was impossible to resist.

After spending a year warming up and doing group rides on 10%+ grades (flattened and lengthened by Zwift algorithms as needed), I can say that I’ve gotten better at climbing. Practice makes perfect? Familiarity breeds contempt? In any case, I can say that in my few outdoor rides last year I was less intimidated by the usual hills. And this year I might actually seek them out and practice.

So thanks to Zwift’s “Everest Challenge”. I’ll never be a mountain goat but I’m a better all-rounder thanks to Tron temptation. Like the glowing neon wheels the lessons learned will be with me for years to come.”

charity · cycling · fitness · Zwift

Make Your Own Route Badge!

Red Dress Day Route

I love it!

Someone designed a tool to make your own Zwift route badges.

I made one for the Bike Rally’s Red Dress Day. What’s the Bike Rally? It’s a charity ride, normally from Toornto to Montreal, to raise money for the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation.

We don’t ride the whole thing in red dresses but on one special day, the short ride into Kingston, we do.

And yes, I’m registered for this year though I am not sure what form the ride will take. You can sponsor me here.

charity · fitness · racing · Zwift

A challenge every Saturday in March for the women of Zwift

Celebrating women’s month with a challenge every Saturday in March

On the one hand, exciting.

But on the other hand, it might just be too much for me.

Here’s why:

First, there are five Saturdays in March so that’s more challenge than I might have bargained for.

Second, I had just settled on Saturday as rest day.

Third, there are hills in these races.

Fourth, I’m trying to make sure I don’t race all the time and that I get enough rest.

Fifth, my winter Zwift challenge which ends March 19 is getting my Tron bike.

Oh and sixth, we’ve already committed to Zwift charity gift in March. Find out more and join us here.

Still though it sounds very good. I love race series that have divided categories for women rather than divided categories for men and lumping all the women together. It’s no fun racing against super fast, younger women while your male cyclist friends in their 50s and 60s get to race against peers (in terms of watts, if not always age.)

I’m still thinking about juggling some things to make this fit.

“The Warrior Games, would like to celebrate Women’s month in March by presenting to you “The Iceni Women’s Series” fun challenging races, on every Saturday for all powerhouses from A+ to D. After the success in The Tour de Boudicca A+ women’s category, we will be adding PEN E for ladies with an average of 4.2 w/kg +.

Women’s Categories shown in Zwift companion :
(Pen E) A+: 4.2 w/kg +
(Pen A) A: 3.7 w/kg – 4.19 w/kg
(Pen B) B: 3.2 w/kg – 3.69 w/kg
(Pen C) C: 2.5 w/kg – 3.19 w/kg
(Pen D) D: <2.49 w/kg

The Iceni tribe was ‘peacefully annexed’ by the Roman Empire at some point before 47 AD, though it was allowed some autonomy. When the king died and Boudicca I became High Queen of Iceni, the Roman Empire saw her unfit to rule and invaded the region. Iceni led a revolt against the Roman Empire in c.60 AD and regained its independence, along with the independence of several other tribes. This led to the subsequent formation of the Comhairle, an alliance of the British tribes. Iceni had a major say in Comhairle affairs and became an important center of trade, military, and leadership.

Celebrate Women’s month in the best way possible! Drop mad watts and show them all what you are made of!”

#deanslife · cycling · fitness · rest · yoga · Zwift

Saturday is Sam’s rest day

For me, the grind ends Friday at the end of the workday. I eat dinner. I race my bike in the TFC Smashfest Friday night series. 🚴 Maybe I watch something. I definitely eat something. And then I collapse into bed. Zzzzz. 😀

Saturday is my rest day. It’s not that I don’t move at all. I often walk Cheddar. I sometimes do Yoga with Adriene. But there’s no fast riding or heavy lifting. This is a chance for my body to rest and recover.

I try to make sure I eat well too. And I aim to get enough sleep, sleeping late if necessary to log the needed hours. It’s a conscious effort. Sometimes naps are involved.

So when this image flashed across my social media newsfeed, I thought actually yes it does. On Saturday I rest.

The grind doesn’t stop just because it’s Saturday.

Tomorrow I’ll do something more active. I’ll also get back to some university work, the review essay I’m trying to write and the college budget for sure.

In my pre pandemic busy times I didn’t need to plan a rest day. Often they just happened when life got in the way off intentional movement. These days I’m finding it helps with the blurriness of time to have things I do on particular days.

On Sunday for me it’s a gradual return to work, a preparation for the week ahead, and my Zwift team social ride. I race in a series on Monday nights. On Tuesdays I watch an episode of Star Trek Discovery with my mother. Wednesdays are the one day, pre stay at home order, that I work on campus. I’ll start doing that again next week when the stay at home order is lifted. Thursday is team time trial night. Friday we order take out from a local restaurant.

None of these things is a big deal. But it helps me to place myself in time, and keep track of time in the pandemic blur. Also since working out is one of the fun things that I can do, I’m realizing it’s easy to do too much of it.

And so on Saturday, I rest.

A blond dog resting in a red hammock

charity · cycling · fitness · Zwift

Toronto Hustle is Crushing Covid, Round Two: Join our team or sponsor us!

Toronto Hustle presents Crush Covid

#CRUSHCOVID – Ride for MindFriday, March 13 2020. The day Toronto went into lockdown. In response, we launched CRUSH COVID – a 24hr virtual cycling marathon to raise money to support COVID-19 relief efforts. Together, we raised a quarter million dollars and united communities and cyclists from around the world. For 2021, exactly one year to the day of our first lockdown, CRUSH COVID – Ride for Mind, is responding to the pandemic’s growing mental health impact. Join us, MGH Foundation and cyclists across the globe for all, or a part of the 24 hour cycling marathon. Donate and spread the word. Let’s finish this off together.www.crushcovid.ca

I’ve started a blog team. Register here and select “FitFeminists” as your team name. SamJBFitFeminist is the Team Captain.

My plan is to divide up the 24 hours between team members. And if’s just me, well it’ll be a lot of riding. Lol.

You can also just sponsor us here.

Q: What is CRUSH COVID: Ride for Mind?

A: CRUSH COVID: Ride for Mind event is a virtual 24-hour cycling event open to all cyclists and gives them the opportunity to raise funds to support our community through the mental health crisis arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual ride will take place on the Zwift app.

Q: Where and when is the CRUSH COVID: Ride for Mind event taking place?

cycling · fitness · Zwift

Sam’s Winter Climbing Challenge #Zwift #Tron

The last day of winter is March 19th. What do I want to accomplish before then?

I have a thought. It’s doable and I need a deadline. My Everest challenge on Zwift is 93% complete and at the end I get a fancy new bike, the Tron. I’ve been at it for awhile. In October I posted Sam is not a climber but she’s halfway to Tron.

So here’s the deal. By March 19th, I want to do the rest of my climbing. That’s 3,354 vertical metres. I’m climbing about 400-500 a week but that won’t be enough. Probably I’ll need to do a trip or two up the Alpe du Zwift.

Here are some route options:

Road to Sky — A 12.4 mile (19.9 km) climb with 3,753 ft (1,144 m) of elevation gain. The most direct route to the mountain.

Tour of Fire and Ice — A 15.6 miles (25.1 km) trek with 3,825 ft (1,166 m) of elevation gain. This route combines the Volcano KOM for some extra fun.

Four Horsemen — It doesn’t get more epic than this. A 55.5 mile (89.3 km) ride across all KOM segments in Watopia, with an elevation gain of 6,929 ft (2,112 m). If it’s a giant hill, you’re going to climb it.

Why do I care about getting a Tron? It’s the fastest all round bike in Zwift, good on flats and rolling hills.

What colour will I choose? I think I like the multi-coloured bikes the best. Maybe blue and purple?

Blue and purple Tron
fitness · Zwift

Pride riding again! #Zwift

The Pride Rides are back on Zwift and the schedule is here.

I think the Pride rides and the Swarm were the two groups that got me into Zwift group rides, instead of riding solo, last winter. There’s a lot of conversation on Discord and friendly text chat too.

Here’s the event description: “Join us for a fun ride to celebrate diversity and the LGBTQI+ community. All are welcome in our rainbow-colored open ride and conversation! This is a community-led ride in support of the LGBTQI+ Zwift Community, PRiDE OUT, and in celebration of LGBT History Month in the UK. All are welcome no matter where you ride!

The rides are led and swept by our LGBTQI+ Zwift Community members. Ride leads will keep to 1.2-2 w/kg but may have some optional fun activities planned, especially optional sprints are quite the thing in our group. Regrouping after is key to ensure the group remains a lovely big blob. First-time group riders are welcomed, the Sweep will make sure you do not drop behind.

Chats in this group may involve LGBTQI+ topics so come with an open heart and open mind. Unkind or intolerant comments will be reported per Zwift policies.

We welcome you all on Discord during the ride: https://discord.gg/q2vPJY2

The LGBTQI+ Community on Zwift supports @prideoutuk’s #LGBTHistoryRide. Post and tag your Zwift ride pictures to social media with #LGBTHistoryRide to show your support.

Feel free to join us on Facebook in our new community group!”

See you there!

Also, there are unofficial Pride On playlists on Spotify. See here.

We had a few hundred people out this Sunday morning. See you there!

221 in 2021 · covid19 · fitness · yoga · Zwift

Will I be this physically active when I have more activities to choose from?

There’s a bunch of us in the 221 in 2021 group speeding along, racking up big numbers of workouts. It’s just the start of February and I’m up to more than 50 workouts.

An aside: Want to join us? Here’s how. It’s a very friendly, supportive group.

We had a discussion the other day, those of us who are often working out more than once a day, about why.

Here’s me: “Yes, I’m working out more than once a day most of the time in these strange pandemic stay at home times. It’s partly the Yoga with Adriene January challenge. It’s partly lifting weights with adult serious lifting offspring who has moved back home. Family bonding over sandbag deadlifts! And then it’s Zwift team stuff. I’m taking Saturday as my rest day with a a commitment to no serious lifting and no Zwifting. But even then there are extra long dog walks and yoga.”

So why? And will it last through 2021?

  • This pace of working out certainly won’t last once there’s evening work commitments out in the world plus theatre and music to go see. So the part of the explanation this year is that it’s a thing I love doing that I can do. I’m missing out on a lot of my work and entertainment activities. There’s no gallery openings and no theatre. No parties on the weekend, no lunch Sunday brunch with friends. Options are somewhat limited right now.
  • I do read books and watch some shows but when I am stressed I can have a hard time concentrating. I have a short attention span when I’m worried and I’m worried a lot through the pandemic. Again, moving my body in ways that challenge me phsyically is both a thing that I can do-it’s an available fun option– and it helps with stress. I sleep better if I exercise in the evenings and go to bed physically as well as mentally tired. See Bikes and Books, about the dangers bikes may pose to books, and Virtual Communites, which talks about my international book club.
  • There’s very little everyday movement in these stay at home lives. All movement, it feels like, is intentional movement. I’m either sitting at my computer not moving much at all, working some ridiculously long days, or I’m working out. In the run of the day on campus I do a lot of walking between meetings. I also bike commute to work. There’s none of that anymore. As Cate said, way back at the start of all this, we’re all indoor cats now.
  • Not everyone has the space to set up a home gym or the means to buy exercise or sports equipment. But we’ve got a lot of stuff and some space. That said, things are cramped even here. I’ve got a combo home office/gym and it contains my desk and computer and several monitors as well as three person’s worth of workout gear including three bikes, a lot of free weights, and soon, a rowing machine. It’s all here. It’s nearby. And I’m wearing workout clothes to work (with some dressier clothes thrown over top) and that makes working out easy. Again, this won’t be the same when I’m back in the office.

So, yes I’m working out more than I usually do during the pandemic for a slew of reasons. You?

I’m not sure I’ll go back to the gym. Maybe the hot yoga studio. Maybe. What about you?

And I’m pretty sure I’ll work out less–but I’ll also have more everyday movement–once the pandemic is over. You?

That’s Sam doing yoga in the dining room with Cheddar the dog

221 in 2021 · fitness · monthly check in · Zwift

Sam is checking in for January!

I keep telling myself that January will have been the hardest of the pandemic winter months. I’m not sure that’s right but it felt hard. For the first time in a few years I didn’t fly or drive south with my bike for a week. I’ve had a run of very lovely wintertime breaks. In years past I’ve gone to Florida 2020 and 2019, Arizona in 2015 and 2010, and South Carolina for bike club training camp also in 2015.

Here we are:

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Top of the hill with Coach Chris and friends

This year instead there’s been a lot of Zwifting–so much Zwifting–806.6 km worth to be precise. My first pandemic Zwifting goal way back last spring was 100 km a week and then I upped it to 160 km this fall and now I’m averaging just over 200 km a week. Whee! Between that and Yoga With Adriene it’s a busy month fitness wise.

Outside has been dark and cold and windy and icy. Sarah and I got in a couple of long, happy fat bike rides and I’m hoping for lots more in February. Depending on how my knee holds up I’m hoping to get out the snow shoes at the farm in February too. We did have a yurt reservation at a provincial park for winter camping and some actual vacation but that’s now cancelled in light of Ontario’s ‘stay at home” orders.

“As of January 21, campground and backcountry campsites and roofed accommodations (including cabins, yurts and cottages) at Ontario Parks will be closed during the current provincial restriction period in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and support Ontario’s stay-at-home order.”

I get it. You can’t both stay at home and go winter camping. But still…

At work we’re making plans for summer and fall and that makes me hopeful. Sarah and I will make a bunch of summer camping reservations in hopes of spending time in Algonquin with the canoe. I’m also looking forward to a summer of local bike rides and Snipe racing.

How are you getting through the winter? What are you hoping for in the spring and summer?

No photo description available.