Tag Archive for cycling

Bike Tour Intermission: What’s Happening

Jordan and Dr. Q - Pinnacle WellnessHere is an update post on the off chance you’ve been wondering what’s been happening during the bike tour intermission. The first priority was to do everything possible to get Jordan back to full health. We took him to see Dr. Q. at Pinnacle Wellness for several chiropractic visits with neck and shoulder muscle therapy treatments as well as an infrared sauna session. With each visit his health improved. This was combined with rest, hydration and specific nutritional supplements from our Health Coach, Penny Muckleroy of Your Wellness Plan.

In the meantime, I was coming to the realization that I would need to transition the tour from supported to self-supported. I had always known that Jonathan would only be with us through April. It had always been the plan for the tour continue with Jordan, Ladybird and myself. However, with the severe sickness Jordan experienced we decided that it would be best for him to stay home and for me to continue the tour solo.

Roger and Susan continued riding the Southern Tier when we left them in Deming, NM. Each day they rode was another day they were getting closer to me in San Antonio, TX. While I was chomping at the bit to get back on the road, the priority was Jordan. I knew that once Jordan was back to good health I would rejoin the tour.

Riding self-supported meant that I would need to figure out how to take all of the clothes, cosmetics, bike repair supplies/tools, emergency food and a sleeping bag on my bike. At first I thought about stuffing it all into a backpack. I had researched ultra-light bike touring a few months ago and knew it was possible. We had even run into two young German bicycle tourists in Alpine, CA who were riding the Southern Tier with backpacks. However, when I tried fitting everything into my backpack, I discovered this would not work for me at all.

Road Bike Fully LoadedThe next logical step was to find a rear bike rack which would fit on my Trek 1.2 road bike. I was thrilled when my local BikeWorld had one in stock that fit my bike perfectly. My plan was to bungee the waterproof bag that contained my clothes with my sleeping back onto the top of the bike rack. The salesman at BikeWorld told me I really needed to look into bags for the rear rack. Roger also expressed concern about me being able to bring everything I would need for a self-supported tour unless I had bags. Luckily, I remembered Henry Parrilla from Bike Seven had mentioned his bike touring adventures when we took his bike mechanics class before the start of the tour. I contacted Henry and he did indeed have some bags I could borrow for the trip. My road bike now looks more like a proper touring bike.

At this point with Jordan now back to his happy-go-lucky healthy self, it is time to get the show back on the road. Roger and Susan will be in Del Rio, TX in a couple of days. I have my bike packed, prepped and ready. I weighed the load that will be on the rear rack of my bike and am happy to report that I am coming in at just under 20lbs. This is really great news for me because that means I am not having to pedal too much additional weight and my aluminum road bike can still deliver a relatively nimble ride.

ACA Map 3 picWhen I left the tour on April 18th, I wasn’t sure how long the intermission would last. Originally, I thought a couple of days at the most. I had no idea I would be gone for 10 days. I have missed riding 117 miles of map 2 and all of map 3 (496.5 miles). Roger and Susan’s actual map 3 mileage is less than the 522 miles of the Adventure Cycling Association’s Southern Tier Official Route. We stopped following ACA maps whenever it took us to scenic mountain routes. I think the terror filled ride from Superior, AZ to Miami, AZ cured us of any need to ever ride narrow mountain roads. I think Roger said it best, “If we really want to see the mountain views we can always rent a car and drive through them.” Susan and I whole-heartedly agreed and happily went off-route on flatter roads with wide shoulders.

Truth be told, map 3 was the section of the map that I was looking forward to riding the most in Texas. I love the Ft. Davis, Marfa, Alpine area. It’s one of my favorite getaway locations in Texas and I make trips as often as possible. The idea or riding up to the McDonald Observatory and down to historic Ft. Davis really appealed to me. Another section on map 3 that would have been a highlight was the huge bridge that crosses the Pecos River. The view is stunning and I was excited about the challenge of riding up that steep bridge. When it became apparent that I would not be able to meet Susan and Roger until they made it into Del Rio, TX I knew that I would have to make up that section of the map another time.

There was a part of me that considered going back to Deming, NM to complete the tour riding solo. That was quickly put out of consideration after mentally reviewing my tour experience riding thus far. I know that traveling with a group even a small group is much safer. There is more of a chance that drivers will see you if there are more of you to see. With the summer heat fast approaching, it looks like a ride from San Antonio, TX to Del Rio, TX and up to Deming, NM will be in order sometime during the fall months. It’s my plan to go back to the Crazy Guy on a Bike site to join a group traveling west along the Southern Tier to complete my journey.

So, there you have it. The summary of what’s been going on since the bike tour intermission began. The riding fun is about to start up again. You have no idea how much I’ve missed riding. I have been living vicariously through Roger and Susan’s daily posts on their journal. Now it’s time for me to start experiencing the open road as I pedal the rest of the 1,682.5 miles of the ACA Southern Tier.

 

 

Training, Training, Training

Increasing Mileage

When it comes to preparing for a 3,000+ mile journey, there are many things to consider. Proper nutrition, supplements, hydration, post-ride stretching, and cycling attire are important factors to take into account. What it all really comes down to is time in the saddle. My body needs to become accustomed to spending hours pedaling those miles day after day. I have been steadily increasing my mileage per ride. On days when the sunlight and weather are not cooperating there may be a 20-miler, but the goal at this stage has been to ride a minimum of 30-40 miles per outing. I am thankful that the ability to pedal those miles has been easy enough. Although Texas is known for mild winters, we do have cold fronts blowing through which puts the pinch on ride days. The biggest challenge at this point has been getting these rides in between cold fronts and on good days before the sun sets.

Leon Creek Greenway

With 5 weeks left before the bike tour starts, it’s time to ramp up that ride mileage goal to better represent the daily mileage that my body will experience on the tour. San Antonio has a fantastic trail system that offers me many opportunities to ride safely. Currently, my go-to trail is the Leon Creek Greenway which offers 26 miles of riding. The plan over the next couple of weeks is to increase my single ride mileage from 40 miles to 50 miles. Then ramp that up even further to the 60 mile mark leading up to the tour start. Many folks might think the mileage increase is a big deal. Actually, it isn’t. I have ridden up to 62.5 miles before. The true challenge is riding those kinds of miles on back to back to back days.

 

Toughening Up

Riding day after day makes a big difference in the performance of each ride. Legs feel heavier on day three than they did on day one. I feel every single bit of every bump in the road. I know exactly where my sit bones are and can feel them more and more on consecutive ride days. This is giving me a taste of what I will experience on the tour. This is good because more than any physical toughness needed during the tour will be the mental fortitude it will take to keep on riding day after day for two months.

40 Mile Bike Ride on MapMyRide

40 Mile Bike Ride on MapMyRide

What I am learning right now is that each long ride is not a sprint. It is definitely more of an ultra-marathon. Currently, the ride time for me to burn through 40 miles is over the 3 hour mark. Part of my training now includes forcing myself stop more often than I would if I were only riding once in a while.

Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it is actually more challenging than you might think. The more I ride, the easier it is for my body to deliver a faster pace. Those moments when mind and body are in sync with speed are truly magical. I feel like I am lighter than air and flying along the trail is a mental and physical rush.

Balancing Act

This is where the battle between mind and body requires discipline. The fact is that staying at a fast pace is not something that is sustainable over time. Or at least it isn’t for me. I am working on balancing my minds desire for speed with my body’s need for a few moments of non-riding. Stopping to stretch out of the ride position is important. To offer my hips and back a chance to relax makes such a difference in the ride experience. Even standing on my pedals while riding and pushing my hips forward and straightening my back helps to ease tightness. Better still is stopping and taking the time to stretch out for a few minutes. Doing this always leaves me feeling refreshed when I jump back on the bike.

Jen riding fast

My faithful steed

As I work to increase frequency of rides with more ride mileage, this balancing act will become even more important. The long term sustainability of training rides and ultimately the success of the tour will rely heavily on this balance. Which is why I am so grateful to have this time to train. What a difference this knowledge has made so far. I look forward to learning and sharing even more of these nuggets of practical experience as training continues.

Do you have some cycling tips that have helped you improve your ride experience? Let me hear from you. Leave a comment below to share your training gems. Cheers!

Fitness: 100K Bike Tour Jalapeno100

As part of my ongoing fitness journey, I am working towards a 2015 cross-country bike tour. Yes, you read that correctly. I first became inspired after reading the journals from the crazyguyonabike site. The more I read, the more I could imagine taking such a journey. In order to be ready to embark on a ride that lasts for weeks on end means putting some serious miles in the saddle. So, part of my training is to go on longer rides. A fun way I have found to do so is by participating in bike tours. In the past, I have ridden 50 hilly miles and 54 flat miles. My goal on this bike tour was to hit the 100K aka Metric Century milestone. Which for those of us not on the metric system is 62.5 miles.

Jalapeno100 route

The Ride

My fellow cyclist, Penny Muckleroy also had a goal to complete 62.5 miles by April, so we signed up for the Jalapeno 100 Bike Tour in Harlingen, Texas. Originally she was only going to ride 50 miles which is still quite the feat for someone who has never done a bike tour. But once we got riding, Penny decided to go for the gusto and complete her goal a couple of months early.

Turns out where there are wind farms, there is a lot of wind. Did you know that we cycled through fields and fields of wind farms? So, while the route was flat, the wind was the real challenge we had to overcome. And overcome it we did.

Still smiling after 62.5 miles

Still smiling after 62.5 miles

Post Ride Surprise

As readers will recall, Penny Muckleroy is an Independent USANA Distributor who is providing me with supplements for the Health|Fitness|Beauty Quest. I already take my AM and PM nutritional supplements but, for this particular ride, Penny recommended I take some additional supplements to combat muscle fatigue. So I took them before the ride, during the ride and after the ride.

Here is where things got interesting. I have done quite a few bike tours over the last 2 1/2 years. After every long distance ride, I typically have muscle stiffness and achy legs for a couple of days. The fatigue was always especially noticeable after sitting for a while. Since our plan was to drive straight back to San Antonio after the ride I was expecting some serious muscle stiffness to make getting out of the car after a 4 1/2 hour drive a less than pleasant experience.

Imagine my surprise when I got out of the car and didn’t think twice about it. I felt normal. Which was so far from what I had come to expect as normal from my post-ride body. I was puzzled for a couple of seconds until I realized that this was the first long distance bike tour since I began taking the AM/PM pack supplements in September 2013.  That coupled with the extra supplements Penny gave me specifically to combat muscle fatigue for the bike tour made all the difference in my post-ride experience.

I Am A Believer

In previous posts I have written about the changes I have seen in my energy, skin and hair from taking the AM/PM packs. I have shared my story one-on-one and up in front of a crowd. If there was even the tiniest shred of doubt lingering in your mind that the USANA supplements will make a difference in your life, then let me challenge you to give your body the 30-day USANA AM/PM pack a try. I can’t tell you what benefits it will have for you specifically. I really believe each person’s experience is unique to them and their particular circumstances. What I can tell you is that for me each new discovery has been a wonderful surprise. I continue to be impressed by how well I feel and how well my body performs.  Yes, I am a believer. So much so that I now have family members on the AM/PM pack daily regimen. When you know something works, you share it with the people you love.