A Beautiful, Beautiful Bike Ride


We’re making the most of the last full week of summer before school starts!

The boys are in sailing camp every day this week from 1-4 pm.

They’re sailing tiny little sailboats around the dock area and loving every second.

There’s not really enough time for me to go back home in between, so Monday I had lunch and watched the eclipse in Portland with Greg, Tuesday I went Freeport outlet shopping with my mom, and Wednesday I went for a gorgeous bike ride.

Two islands, 22 miles, and one shower at the yacht club when I got back. (Thanks guys, hope those aren’t members only. At least we’re patronizing sailing camp?)

Check out the views!

Makes me think about where I could bike at home in Massachusetts if I drove a short distance first.

Grabbed a morning bike ride

This morning I woke up before Greg and the kids (thank you, jet lag!) so I sneaked out for a beautiful morning bike ride. The cat tried to alert everyone of my departure, but I made it out the door before anyone awakened and was rewarded with some gorgeous views.

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In summer, the key to my workouts is opportunity, not consistency.

The week the boys were in summer camp, I biked over 60 miles. I’m not training for anything. But I had the opportunity. So bike I did.

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I respect the motto “consistency is everything”, but sometimes when you’re enjoying a summer with your family and not training for a specific event, opportunity is everything.  A stolen bike ride, a few downward facing dogs on the beach while the kids build sand castles, a random week spent pedaling at every opportunity because the kids are at camp.

Consistency would probably be better in terms of maintaining fitness, but the school year is around the corner and there will be plenty of time for consistency then.

I think I’m content crossing my fingers that hauling picnic baskets down to the beach and frolicking in the pool with the kids will keep me fit enough to grab the next opportunity for a bike, run or swim.

Besides. Winter is coming.

Equinox Class Review: The Pursuit (Cycling)

This post is part of my 2017 New Year’s Resolution to try every group fitness class offered at my gym, The Equinox in Chestnut Hill.

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First of all…

Anyone else having totally one of those days? Those 10 minutes late to drop off, checking into the gym 2 minutes before class when you’re a type A, forgetting a major piece of clothing when you planned to go straight to kindergarten volunteering from the gym kind of days?

Totally one of those days.

But the nice thing about exercise is that it makes you feel capable of handling that kind of day.

Class: The Pursuit: Build (cycling)

Description from the Equinox: Precisely timed high-intensity intervals to maximize your performance, The Pursuit: Burn, is a hardcore cycling experience scientifically designed to push you to a new level of fitness.

Class length: 50 Minutes

What Class Was Like

Ok, they’re missing a major element of the class in that description. What makes The Pursuit different from other indoor cycling classes is that they display your stats on the wall for different games while you’re riding. Motivation.

You can’t always see your individual score, but sometimes you can see your bike number listed in comparison to others, and you can see the first name and last initial of those who make it on the leader board after different portions of class.

This morning’s class had 3 games.

Game One: The first was a 9 minute game split into 3 sections where you tried to match or exceed your mileage from the first sections. (Positive splits.) This requires more pacing than I’m capable of, but I’ve got a better strategy for next time. While we were riding, everyone’s bike number was displayed in a circle with a mileage trail behind it, a little like a lollipop. Each lollipop got longer as you progressed further, and your circle lit up to show when you were on target to beat your previous 3 minute performance. 1st place, 2nd place and 3rd place in the class were marked over their circles.

Game Two: We were split into two teams and competed to add mileage rings to our circles. The competition contained sprint segments.

Game Three: We were split into three teams and competed for mileage. There were sprint segments when the visual of team progress was hidden and you tried as hard as you could to be in a better team position when the sprint ended and they re-displayed the leader board. Our team was in the lead for the first several sections and then lost it on a hidden sprint and never made it back to first.

You can see below that I was 31st overall out of 32 for game one. This seems fair given the limited cycling I’ve been doing.

games

Verdict

This was great. I definitely felt motivated to work harder for longer knowing that I was part of a team. I was a little less motivated by the individual effort. It was clear from the beginning that I was going to be one of the stragglers, and pretty clear by the second segment that I’d gone out too hard in the first and wasn’t going to surpass that effort. When you know you’re that far behind, it’s harder to push. Especially with another effort coming up.

The team games were very motivating, though. Knowing I was likely the slowest cyclist on my team meant I felt a real obligation to do my best and not hold everyone back any more than my ability dictated. I felt like my team deserved my best, especially seeing the leader boards and knowing some of my fellow cyclists were putting down amazing mileage. When my team was in the lead for the third exercise, I pushed as hard as I could because I didn’t want to be the reason they lost the lead.

Will I be back?

Oh hell yes. This class is going to make me faster. I would go back tomorrow. (And regret it. And not have ample recovery time. So actually I wouldn’t.)

Know before you go

Cycling shoes really help you get more power for the full foot-stroke when you’re cycling indoors. Bikes at the Equinox are SPD clip compatible and Look/Delta compatible, but they also had cages so you can wear your normal shoes. (Don’t be afraid to do that before investing in cycling shoes.)

Your individual stats will be displayed by bike number for some of the games, and there’s a leader board at the end of each segment. After the class, the full leaderboard is available online with your username and photo if you supplied one. Not ready to go public with your mileage? Use an nick-name and opt out of the photo when you set up your cycling account on Equinox’s site.

On being behind

I’m fine with being one of the slowest people in the class, because I haven’t been cycling much lately. (Something about swimming 3 times a week and trying every new class at the gym. Time consuming.)

I’m also thrilled with my stats because I can look back at some of the class stats I entered a few years ago and see that I’ve made progress.

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Today I averaged 109 watts.

About 2 years ago on a ride I averaged 83 watts.

pastwatts

I actually remember averaging in the 40s or 50s for wattage when I first started indoor cycling. Now I regularly average just over 100, even when indoor cycling hasn’t been a focus.

Tracking progress is helpful when it’s helpful

I could look at that leader board and feel embarrassed at being 27th out of 32, but instead I feel great because I’m much stronger than I was before. I also feel excited to work my way a little higher up the board this spring as I get closer to Tri for a Cure and start doing more cycling.

Know yourself. If it’ll bother you seeing yourself lag behind, pick a regular cycling class where you get your stats at the end… or choose not to track your class and just ignore your stats altogether.

It can be particularly hard if you used to be a stronger cyclist than you are now. I can’t get too smug about feeling peace with where I am as a cyclist when I haven’t been working that frequently at it and I’m the best I’ve ever been.

If you’ve got memories of the leader board that you need to let go of for a while, ride solo.

Focus on other goals like frequency, or your average heart rate.

Competition should be fun. If it’s not fun, change your game 🙂

Biking errands

I had a busy morning between 9 and 12: two school drop offs, making soup and homemade bread, last minute birthday errands for Will’s birthday tomorrow, and off to get blue curacao for our “red, white and blue” drinks theme for tonight’s debate watching. (Obviously.)

I managed to get it done AND fit in a bike ride because I rode my bike to pick up the blue curacao.

It felt a little weird to ride my bike to a store, put a bottle of liquor in my backpack, and bike home… but in a good “I’m outdoors and not stuck in traffic” kind of way.

In the past few weeks, I’ve also ridden my bike to the library and the farmer’s market.

I like using Google Maps to find good ways to bike somewhere, which is usually a different route than I would take driving.  (I’m willing to add mileage to avoid busy roads.)

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I’m still terrified of busy intersections and will sometimes get off my bike and walk it across a crosswalk rather than merge into traffic and take a left turn.

But it’s fun.

WAY more fun than being in the car.

 

 

 

 

I think I bought the wrong bike

It kind of kills me to write this, because I bought a really nice bike. 

Ultegra gears. FSA compact crank.

Carbon frame.

Cervelo P2, classic triathlon bike, black and red. It’s sleek, smooth and fast.

…and it’s designed to be ridden in aero position.

If you’re not into road biking, aero position means you’re leaning forward on your elbows, forearms horizontal, hands on the middle bars. it’s a crouched position, and it’s extremely forward heavy, meaning the steering becomes hypersensitive because your weight shifts towards the front of the bike. Fantastic for aerodynamics. Considered too unstable for cycling in groups; not allowed for cycling races – designed for triathlon races where single file riding is mandatory.

Amazing bike.

Fast bike.

Terrifying bike.

Buying it, I assumed that I could ride it in regular upright position (see the horn handle-bars also?) and grow into the aero position. But the shifters are only on the aero bars, and the brakes are only on the horn bars. So I can either reach the brakes, or the gears…. and because I’m not comfortable with my ability to control the bike in aero position, it means I’m riding with my hands near the brakes.

So every time I want to shift the bike, I have to pick my hand up off the handle bar, move it over, shift, and move it back. Going uphill in traffic, that’s not my favorite thing to do.

So sometimes (ok, often) I will just let my cadence drop and struggle through the thigh burn rather than move my hand over and shift because I’m worried I might lose control of the bike in traffic.

This means I’m riding really inefficiently, because I’m shifting probably a third as often as I would if my hands were next to the gears.

The other problem I have is that I had the bike fitted for me to ride in aero position, haven’t gotten comfortable there, and so am riding upright and getting a ton of neck pain because it’s not how the bike was fitted or designed to be ridden full time.

SO.

I am looking into buying a road bike. I’m not quite ready to sell my Cervelo P2, because I bought it used and got an AMAZING deal considering the components and frame quality; it’s unlikely I’d find a deal like this again, and it’s fitted perfectly. It might be worth hanging onto it and seeing if I stick with triathlons and work into aero; it won’t depreciate that much more in value if I hang onto it for a bit, but replacement cost could be really high.

I did learn some things from the Cervelo, though.

I love having SPD-SL pedals instead of SPD, I clip in and out so much faster and with less frustration. That was a big deal between borrowing my friend’s bike and buying mine.

If I can add shifting comfortably and reducing my neck pain to clipping in and out comfortably, it’s going to open up a whole new world of biking for me.

Currently my longest bike ride is about 21 miles… and I had to end because my neck hurt, not my legs. I am excited to see what a road bike could do for my neck; it’d be really nice to stop because of my legs instead.

I’ve got my eye on a road bike on Craigslist that I’m going to see Saturday (wish me luck!) and it’s another pretty amazing ride. Fingers crossed it works out… if it’s awesome I’ll consider taking it out a few times and then using it for Tri for a Cure!

We shall see…