It has been a really crappy spring. I suppose this is payback for an incredibly warm, sunny, and early spring last year.
Due to all the wet weather I’m way behind in my fitness for this time of year. So much so that I’m probably going to be driving the support vehicle for an annual Memorial Day Ride that I have participated in for the past 3 years. Oh, I could probably do it, and it would jump-start my season for sure, but it would be a long day in the saddle without many miles in my legs. My longest ride, and only one at that, has been 55 miles, a far cry from the hilly 85-miles planned on Memorial Day. But there is still a chance I might ride it.
I’m not one to go out riding in the rain. If I get caught in the rain that’s one thing – but to start out in the rain to train is another. I’m not a pro. I don’t get paid to ride my bike so you won’t see me out slogging away in inclement weather. Unfortunately I’m also one that’s not willing to put the bike back on the trainer after March like others I know. Though I must say I’m seriously considering it lately.
To make matters worse, it’s been terribly windy, too. I’ve bagged a few group rides to do some gusty winds in the 35-40+ mph range. I think it’s just going to be one of those years when we wind just blows a lot, much like a few years ago.
I’m sure all this crappy spring weather will disappear only to be blessed with some warm weather eventually. It’s just a long time getting here.
A few of us managed to get out and ride again today. Our goal was to scope out routes for the second half of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s Women’s Ride.
It was cloudier than anticipated but still nice to be out on the bike. Though I was very disappointed with a 14mph average and after 20 miles I was happy to be done as I was just pooped! I have to keep telling myself that it’s only March.
The best part about many of our rides, especially when it involves being near Pineland Farms, is a stop for coffee. Today, it was at the end of our ride.
I took care of me today with a morning yoga class and an afternoon massage.
I’m surprised at how quickly I get out of shape when it comes to yoga. My legs quivered in most of the poses and are really squawking at me 12+ hour later. I haven’t attended a class since Christmas Eve due to my crazy schedule and needing to sleep in on the weekends. Today I was up early enough to catch an early class with my favorite instructor, Lisa, at Yogave. The nice thing about yoga is that it doesn’t take much time to get stronger and more flexible when you do take some time off.
I also haven’t had a massage since June or July. I scheduled one with Kevin, owner of The Athlete’s Touch. He was really good and I feel like he really worked those tight areas we cyclists tend to have. (He’s also an athlete so he knows first hand the issues we have.)
I need to make massage a regular routine, much like yoga.
If you have been at any cyclocross races in New England in the fall, you have undoubtedly seen Julie Lockhart. She is simply amazing and I’ve had a chance to talk with her on a few occasions. I stumbled on an article about her recently on the Bicycling Magazine website. Read the full article HERE. And if you see her on the ‘cross course, be sure to cheer for her loudly!
We have been in a very wintry snow pattern this winter, like much of the northeast. My hopes for a winter like last year faded very quickly after the first couple snow storms dumping inches and inches.
You see, last year the northeast got pounded like they are this year but we were in a strange pattern where the storms stayed south of us. We ended up with very little snow as a result. That meant a fair bit of outdoor riding for me.
This year is vastly different. I’ve been on the trainer as much as possible, logging 45-60 minutes in the mornings before work and 90-120 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays.
This weekend the temperatures warmed up to the freezing range and the roads have cleared enough to manage a safe ride with no fear of falling on any black ice. It was a treat and a nice break from the boredom of the trainer. My goal was to ride easy, focus on my cadence, and just enjoy being on the road.
It did cloud up and even spit snow for a while. I realized it was the first time I had actually ridden my bike while it was snowing.
But the most interesting thing that happened was when two snowmobiles came out of the woods on a trail to ride up the side of the road in the snow-covered shoulder. The first one got out on the road and in front of me. The second came out at the time I was next to him. Luckily he stopped and waited for me to go by before turning out onto the road. I bet he was shocked to see someone out on a bicycle while he was also enjoying his winter sport.
My euphoria is short lived. We are due to receive two more storms this week, one on Tuesday with snowfall predictions in the 3-6 inch range, followed by a more significant snow storm on Wednesday with anticipated accumulations of 8-12 inches.
It’s officially winter in Maine. We are one snowstorm into the season that arrived last weekend. Since then the temperatures have been moderate, resulting in a lot of melting and clearing of the snow from that storm.
The new year ushered in temperatures in the upper 40’s and lower 50’s. I only managed a few miles on the mountain bike to run an errand on New Year’s day when temperatures were the warmest. Today I managed a better, longer ride for about 25 miles with a friend. There is still a ton of wet sand on the sides of the roads from overnight showers and I found myself riding in that area of the road a lot, so my bike ended up looking like this when I arrived home:
Of course since it’s basically just sand it doesn’t take much to hose off.
So far it’s turning out to be a decent winter. I still have my fingers crossed for a year like last year with very little snow so the roads stay clear enough for biking outside during the off season.
A friend of mine from high school, who now lives in Colorado and also huge into cycling, dubbed this time of year as Fall Fitness Fade. Boy is it ever!
I’m always amazed at how busy the summers are. Though when I look at it, in reality it’s busy because of so much biking. Then the heat sets in and I find it’s too hot to bike and we (hubby and me) tend to find shelter in the coolness of the house, in front of the fan.
As crazy busy as the summers are, the fall season is much worse. I know I’m not alone when I say this. We always think that when fall rolls around we’ll be back into an easier routine, with many having kids back in school, and everyone gets back on a schedule. But ask anyone that has kids and running to school open houses, shuffling them off to soccer, football or various other activities, and you’ll learn that fall is even crazier than summer! Many of my friends find it hard to fit in any decent ride time after Labor Day.
Fall also marks cyclocross season! I think I actually spend more time at cyclocross races than on my bike this time of year. It’s wicked fun and it allows me and my husband to do something together. It also provides a great opportunity for my husband to hone his photography skills.
Between days spent at various ‘cross races and fading daylight in the evening to prohibit long mid-week rides, it’s no wonder my fitness fades. I just wish it wouldn’t fade quite as quickly as it does.
It took advantage of some beautiful, warm days this week by taking my bike to the office to catch some lunchtime rides to help keep my legs going a bit. Though it didn’t seem to make much of a difference during the ride with the ladies this morning. I really struggled to keep up in a few places and when I did get dropped I couldn’t push to catch back on. My top power is just gone. I do realize that it’s a normal progression and it’s time to back off in order to rebuild but it’s extremely frustrating to me, given the competitive type of person I am.
I take comfort in knowing that this was the best season I’ve ever had on the bike. My fitness greatly improved and I rode faster and stronger than I have in the past. I anticipate a proper base building period this off season in hopes of being stronger yet again next season. I just need to embrace the Fall Fitness Fade, enjoy being on the bike when I can and enjoy the cool, crisp air and the bright foliage, knowing that it’s all part of the process.
(View during a recent lunch time ride.)