cycling · fitness

30 Days of Biking in April

Join me in taking the 30 days of Biking pledge.

Spring riding isn’t always pretty. Sometimes it involves getting wet and lost. See photos below! But I like that it’s not yet about speed or even about distance. Spring riding feels adventurous to me. I just feel happy to be out there.

In these pandemic times, more people are choosing to ride. Like running it’s one of the things we can do for exercise that is consistent with social distancing. I was sad to see that Spain and Italy banned recreational cycling though it’s still okay to use a bike to get to the grocery store or the doctors.

Here’s some photos of an early spring ride that Sarah and I did a few years ago. We got lost, we ended up taking our good road bikes through some mud. It was a definite adventure.

cycling · fitness

Sam and Sarah are springing into cycling fitness

Sam’s story

Spring riding is complicated. It’s fun and it’s exciting but the emotions of most cyclists, mine anyway, are always a little bit mixed. We all emerge outside with our bikes in spring with varying degrees of fitness. We’re nervous about fitness lost. It’s sunny and warmish but things aren’t quite where we want them to be. The hills seem steeper. The winds stronger.

No matter how much we’ve been riding on the trainer, or in spin class, our bike handling skills aren’t where they were at the end of last fall. Our jerseys seem tight around the middle. Even finding the right gear feels extra complicated. Where are my summer gloves? Is my Garmin charged? Do I have spare tubes? Sunglasses anyone? By next month this ‘getting ready to ride’ thing will be a well-oiled machine with everything right where it ought to be. But not yet.

My first real road ride of 2018 was Sunday afternoon. It was sunny and about 16 degrees Celsius. We went straight from ice storm to warm this year. I debated tights and a long sleeved jersey but instead went with shorts, short sleeved jersey, and a vest. (Jeff tucked my arm warmers in his pockets just in case.)

We decided on the 50 km ‘short’ Belmont loop. It’s called ‘short’ because you can add on 30-40 km with various side trips but this time we were committed to sticking with 50 km. It’s not a great destination. All the good coffee and breakfast places are a bit further out. But not this trip. If there were a 40 km loop from our house I’d have done it but I hate out and back, so 50 km it was. We stopped not for coffee but instead for peanut butter m&m’s.

That loop always reminds me of Tracy and her horrible ride. See Suffering: It May Not Be Fun But Is It Good? I still feel bad about taking Tracy out that day. Tracy, I’m sorry.

But back to Sunday and spring riding. Sarah, Jeff, and I headed out down through my old south neighborhood to White Oaks Road. See map above. I confess I was extra nervous, almost teary nervous, worried about my knee. My knee has been fine in spin classes, fine on the trainer, fine with big gears, and fine standing. But still I worried it might all fall apart on a real on an actual road. Luckily my knee was just fine on the bike. No brace for bike riding. Yay!

We made some discoveries. Crossing one busy street, we were delighted to find out that our bikes triggered the lights to change. That’s new. Less happily we also found some new potholes. I got my third fastest time ever on the East bike path back into town, not because I’m fast. I’m not. Instead, I got a 3rd best time ever trophy because they’ve finally repaved the path.

But it will be a few rides before it all feels normal again. Each time will be easier. Each time out, I’ll be faster. I’m looking forward to it.

Sarah’s Story

Sam wrote about the complications of spring riding, but I didn’t share her reservations. After a long winter of not much exercise I was thrilled to be outside and on the bike.

Riding with Sam, I’ve both gotten used to not worrying about my aerobic fitness (I’m usually much slower than everyone else, but as long as I do my best they’re consistently patient and don’t drop me) and pretty good at drafting, which means I only really fall behind on hills. For the record, I much prefer wind (where I can hide behind bigger faster riders) than hills (that I have to make it up on my own power).

I managed to remember all of my riding kit except my heart rate monitor strap (probably for the best) and something to eat. The m&m stop in Belmont was mostly for me, who’d been working so much harder than Sam and Jeff (for less net effort, might I add, as I drafted behind them riding into the wind) that I was definitely getting bonky by the midpoint.

I generally find my stamina is pretty good for the first hour of a long ride and then I seem to run out of steam. I’m assuming that’s a fuelling issue, and I’m going to make a point this year of learning when what and how much to eat on the bike to keep a consistent power output, rather than waiting to get weak and hungry, since by then it’s too late.

See also Six thoughts on spring riding and training.

fitness

I love spring! But where are you spring?

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Hate spring? How could you? I love spring.

I lament that it doesn’t last long enough. As much as allergies bother me, I love the gentle warmth and the gentle light of spring. Soon it will be hot and I’ll be running at night and early morning to avoid the heat. Spring doesn’t last very long in this part of the world. It’s one day snow, the next day hot.

It hit 20 C last week and a friend posted, “I hear Montreal spring was lovely this year. Too bad I missed it while I was in the shower.”

And it also goes back and forth between hot and cold. I’m writing this in a coffee shop in Toronto on the way back between trying on my Friends for Life Bike Rally jersey (please sponsor me!) and catching the train home to London. It’s windy, rainy, 4 degrees, with some chance of “snow flurries.” The forecasts say that at this time of year, as if there were other sorts of flurries.

I’m hoping to ride my bike tomorrow. I’m thinking again about spring riding and limits. Rain? Yes. Cold? Yes. Windy? Yes. But the combo? No way. We’re hoping for cold and calm and sunny.

Spring makes me so very happy. And I’m not alone. See How Warm Weather Influences Our Mood, According To Science if you want actual evidence!
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motivation

With Spring Comes Hope!

Spring wildflowers. Photo by Julie Callison.  From http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/photos/spring-pictures/#/spring-landscapes-wildflowers_33685_600x450.jpg
Spring wildflowers. Photo by Julie Callison. From http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/photos/spring-pictures/#/spring-landscapes-wildflowers_33685_600x450.jpg

Yesterday I had an idea born of a kind of weariness that’s come from all of our (including my own) grumbling about this endless winter.  The idea was this:  from now until at least the end of April, I’m only going to post about empowering, positive, optimistic, and hopeful things.

To me, that’s the spirit of spring.  We get to wash away the winter blahs and blues.  People get a fresh energy in their eyes, in their gait.  The sounds of birds replace the beeping of snow plows in reverse.  Instead of treading warily on slick ice, we step with confidence onto bare pavement.  Instead of keeping our heads down to brace from the wind, we begin to notice the new life all around us.  Faces turn to the sun. You get the idea.  Renewal. Optimism. Hope.

The calendar says it’s spring even if the weather didn’t get the memo.

So consider this post a heads up. If you need a lift on Tuesdays or Thursdays, you can count on me for the next little while to do my best to provide you with one.

For today, I’ll just leave you with this amazing National Geographic webpage that I found when I punched into a search engine: “images spring flowers garden.”

You can find it here.  And here’s another sneak preview:

Photograph by Inne R Hardjanto, My Shot Tulips at Keukenhof Garden near Lisse, Netherlands.
Photograph by Inne R Hardjanto, My Shot
Tulips at Keukenhof Garden near Lisse, Netherlands.

 

Enjoy!