Category Archives: Group Rides

Fall Fitness Fade

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.)

Portland Velo Club Women

So the biggest reason for my hiatus is the work I’ve been doing with the Portland Velo Club (PVC) women.

This group started out last fall and was the idea of David Brink and Eddie Quinn, owners of Cyclemania in Portland. After a couple years trying to develop a women’s team, unsuccessfully, they wanted to try again.

About 35 women showed up for the initial meeting in October. However, there was a different spin on it this time around. They encouraged women who wanted to ride triathlons and charity rides to be members as much as people that wanted to race. It morphed into more of a club than a team.

Over the past several months we have grown to 50 female members. Now, that might not seem a lot to you but every other club I’m aware of in the state can’t come close to those numbers for women.

We have two group rides during the week – one on Monday nights at 5:45 and the other on Saturday mornings at 7:30. There has been as few as 4 or 5 and as many as 20 on these rides.

We have become a sight to behold in the Greater Portland area. I recently bumped into a women who is new to cycling and she saw us on a ride, all in our baby blue kit, and said, “I want to ride with them.”

The most important thing we focus on in this group is having fun. And we have a ton of that, anywhere from hanging out and enjoying coffee or beers after a ride to brunches and private yoga sessions.

Before you think this group is a bunch of 20-something hard core cyclists, think again. The median age of the group is probably in the mid-40’s. There are some triathletes, one racer, and mostly ordinary cyclists. The group has also been a catalyst for some to try training crits and some time trials.

Our group received a little press in the local paper recently, in addition to a mention in the August issue of Bicycling Magazine featuring Portland, Maine (pages 22 & 23). (There was actually a photographer that took photos on one of our rides but none of the photos of us were used in the article.)

Below are some of my favorite photos taken thus far this season.

Ladies at a social event.

Trek Across Maine Team.

Team PVC photo from Trek.

Yoga Session.

Post-TT photo.

Trek training ride.

Birthday brunch.

Saturday morning ride.

Spring Riding

How does life get to be so busy that I just can’t find the time to blog?

Fortunately my busy life has included some incredible outdoor riding in some unseasonably warm spring temperatures.

Normal temperatures for Maine this time of year is in the 40-degree range. Lately many days have been in the mid 50’s. We even had several days this past week in the 60’s.

Several Portland Velo Club women joined me on rides this week. We even joined another women’s ride Wednesday for a total of 17 riders that night.

This has been a long drought of snow. I think our last significant snow storm was in December or January. But it’s been fine by me because I’ve been able to be outside biking a fair bit this winter. Now the weather has been unseasonably warm, driving more of us out on our bikes.

Today I managed to get out for an early morning group ride with the PVC Women followed by 90-minutes of yoga. I left the house at 6:30 am and managed to return at noon. Two things I love to do but took up half my day. Now, that doesn’t mean that it always take up half my day, it just worked out that way.

The weather is turning cooler next week but with Daylight Savings Time I’ll still be able to be out on the road after work for some training rides as long as we don’t see any snow.

A New Spin Class

There’s a new spin class in town and it’s great!

I found out about it only yesterday through a friend and fellow PVC women’s team member.

The class was being offered by Maine Running Company. Now, they would typically be an unlikely place to offer spin classes. However, since they cater to a pretty large trianthlon crowd, and they have a quiet space in the back, I guess it must have made sense to them.

With the location and time/day good for me, I jumped and called to sign up. With their pricing structure it made more sense to sign up for the entire 14 weeks instead of just dropping in occasionally in hopes of a spot.

The class is being taught by Denise Goode,  a USAT Level 1 Coach, a USA Level 3 Cycling Coach with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition. (In January will be pursuing a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science and Human Performance. She is also currently training for Ironman Lake Placid.)

A good part of the class was talking and getting to know everyone. Yes, we worked and had a structure, but it was nice to chat a bit when we could. It was interesting that when the work level rose significantly everyone stopped talking and just focusing on their form.

I forgot how great spinning with a group can be. It certainly makes the time fly by. I’ve been to other classes where it’s not “acceptable” to talk, and that’s okay. I understand that too. This was a bit different and that was also good.

I’m looking forward to going back next week. Between a little of this mixed in with some other varying workouts I hope to be in good shape coming into the spring.

Tomorrow night: yoga at Yogave!

A New Year, A New Focus

You know when you’ve been away from something for a while it’s hard to get back to it?

Like exercise. Or smoking. Or chocolate. Okay, not chocolate, but you get the point.

That’s where I am with the blog.

Gosh, I’ve just been so busy that I just haven’t had the time to post anything, especially anything of real value.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that I’ve been on my bike much lately either. Up until last weekend when we received a bit of snow Saturday night, I was still out riding on the roads on the weekends. I’d ride a couple hours Saturday and a couple hours Sunday, followed by 90 minutes of yoga after the Sunday morning ride. But my efforts during the week haven’t amounted to much with other obligations during the week. Though I have managed to get into a routine of yoga on Thursday evenings.

Sometimes I feel like Twitter is my blog these days. It’s a quick easy way I can update “everyone” without having to put much time and energy into a meaningful blog posting.

I suppose the biggest thing that has been consuming my time has been my involvement with the newly formed Portland Velo Club (PVC) Women’s Club.

This is very exciting news. It’s been a passion of mine for a while now to get more women involved. Luckily, I think David and Eddie of Cyclemania also recognized a need for this in the Greater Portland area. I think this group is going to have tremendous success for the simple reason that it is advertised to all women from all different backgrounds who participate in triathlons, road races, and charity events.

The goal is to have women participate in 6 events throughout the season and can be a mixture of the disciplines listed. We will also be a organizing women’s ride in the Greater Portland are, open to all women, that will be a moderately paced 30-mile ride on Monday evenings in the summer months. There is also interest of forming a morning ride for women only.

At the initial meeting in October we had 30+ women show up all excited about the prospect of a women’s team/club. It was proposed that the women, working with the current PVC kit template, be allowed to redesign the kit with colors of their choice. So a couple were created and voted on and the winner was:

There have been a few meetings to try to keep organized with the orders for the new kit and the memberships, as well as coming up with ideas to keep the members informed and keep the momentum going even though the season has pretty much come to a close. Among communication methods such as a Google Group and Facebook Group, I”ve started a new blog for the PVC Women. However, I have solicited some help in the form of multiple authors to keep it fresh and updated. We are also working on some training events after the first of the year.

Now the holidays are here and I’m feeling totally unprepared. I haven’t had time to even think about it, to the point where this is nothing in my home to even give you the impression that it’s Christmas.

With a new year almost upon us, it’s time to refocus, start training again for the upcoming season, and try to keep my blog up to date with interesting content. Some of it might involve my endeavors with the PVC women’s group as this will become a significant focus for me. I also hope that, if you are a woman, you’ll want to check out the new PVC women’s blog once in a while.

Dempsey Challenge Recap

Today was the Dempsey Challenge, a 100, 50, 25 or 10 mile bike ride with also a 5k run/walk in Lewiston, Maine. It was a large fundraiser for the The Patrick Dempsey Center at Central Maine Medical Center that “provides free support, education and wellness services to cancer patients and caregivers”.

I had heard about it on a local news program during the off season and my friend encouraged me to sign up when the registration opened so I did. Good thing because they capped registration at 3500 participants and actually filled it weeks before the event!

This summer the call had gone out to the club I race for, PVC, looking for ride ambassadors. I figured since I was going to be there I might as well ride as an ambassador so I volunteered. Luckily I was selected as an ambassador for the 50-mile ride. Whew! The century that I originally registered for, I found out later, was extremely hilly. I was thankful to be required to ride the shorter route.

Duties as a ride ambassador include chatting with people to make them feel good about the ride, especially if it was raining, helping with any mechanicals, and calling for a SAG wagon if needed. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with people throughout the ride, asking everyone stopped along the road if they were okay or needed assistance, and changing one flat tire.

It also gave me an opportunity to chat with local cyclist, OA/Cyclemania and PVC member, and fellow ambassador, Bob Baiguy. Super nice guy and I enjoyed riding with him for a few miles.

The weather was predicting rain all week. As we got closer to the weekend it started looking up a bit with only showers in the forecast, instead of heavy rains. I’m happy to report there was no rain whatsoever. Just some wet roads that dried by mid-day, and only some heavy fog to contend with on one descent.

Before the start of the ride I had seen George Hincapie and Ted King go by me towards the start line. I had a couple friends hold my bike as I made my way through the ever growing crowd to snap some pictures of them. Since they were standing around with no one with them, I asked if I could have my photo taken with them. They were gracious enough to oblige:


Ted King, me, and George Hincapie. I felt like I had won the lottery!

Unfortunately I missed seeing Dave Zabriskie but managed to snap a photo as he was leaving and I was settling in for a lobster after the ride. (Yup, you ride the Dempsey Challenge and they give you a lobster dinner at the end of the event.)


Lobster dinner

Photo by my friend, Spencer Reed.

I was questioning my fitness going into the event and spent a couple days on the trainer to loosen the legs a bit prior to the ride. Even though I didn’t ride the loop fast, due to my duties, I felt pretty good and didn’t struggle over the climbs like I thought I might.  I did, however, start to cramp after 45 miles, despite a Cliff Shot and some margarita shot bloks, Accelerade and water. I also experienced a bit of intestinal discomfort a few miles from the finish. I probably should have taken an almond butter & jelly sandwich with me for some “real” food.

It was nice to be on the Scott again. I know I’ve said it before, but this bike rocks! The Scott has my climbing cassette (12/27) on it so it was the one I wanted for the hills.

The course was a nice one, winding through great country roads in central Maine during foliage season. The sun would have made the foliage a bit more vibrant but it was a relatively mild day for this time of year.




I think the event was probably successful enough that it will become an annual event. You might add it to your cycling event calendar in the future!

Finally, I Had a Long Ride!

Yippee, not only did I have time for a long ride today, but I have time to blog about it!

First let me start by saying that we’ve had company this week. Our friend, Joel, is visiting from Atlanta. You’ll remember him from my postings about the Tour de Georgia – we stayed with him in Atlanta and he was kind enough to shuttle us around the entire week.

So it was our time to return the favor. We spent most of the week running around playing tour guide. And I think we also ate our way across Maine. Which maked me think I’d be a miserable foodie on The Food Network because I’m feeling like a bloated pig right about now. I’ll post more about our adventures later.

Today, of course, was the Friday Morning Coffee Ride, which is a casual ride to a favorite coffee spot and back. Round trip is about 25 miles and the pace is usually around 17mph. My husband knows how much I love this ride so it was a no brainer – regardless of what they did today, I would be on the coffee ride. Seems everyone else had the same idea because we had a pretty large crowd of about 25 of us.

Now there is a side story here as well that I must tell you. Joel’s friend, Frank, flew up from Atlanta last night. It’s a two-fold purpose. One being that he’ll keep Joel company on the return drive back to Atlanta. The other purpose was so that Frank, who is German, could go to Manchester, Maine to visit a man who was in Germany at the beginning of WWII. At the start of the war this young man was unable to get out and return to the United States so Frank’s Grandmother harbored him in her basement for three years. Cool story, huh??

Okay, now back to my ride. After the coffee ride I swung by the house to make a few minor adjustments to my bike because it was slipping gears a bit and set off for another ride. I decided to do the popular Prout’s Neck loop because 1.) it’s relatively flat and I haven’t done 50 miles since the Trek Across Maine 2 1/2 months ago and 2.) I haven’t done that loop in a long while.

It was such a beautiful day for a ride. I had a pretty high average mile per hour the first half. I think I probably had a tail wind. Then the second half I slowed it down a bit and just enjoyed being on the bike.

I also managed to stop and take a few photos.

The view from the Prout’s Neck Yacht Club:


The view from the turnaround at Prout’s Neck:


Overlooking Old Orchard Beach:


I felt good after a total ove 50+ miles for the day. It had been a long time since I spent so much time on the bike and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

The remainder of the day was mine to rest and relax while Don, Joel and Frank were visiting the man I mentioned above. Now it’s off to, what else, dinner. We’ll start with drinks at Gritty’s then dinner at DiMillo’s.

Back on the Bike

I’ve been back on the bike more consistently lately. I’m starting to feel a bit more like myself on the bike, which is a relief because I was concerned I was losing a lot of fitness.

I almost missed out on a ride yesterday due to some thundershowers moving into the area around ride time. However, they never materialized so I headed out for a solo ride.

My timing was such that the CCCP ride group caught me about 200 meters down the street. I tagged on with them for a little while, as the pace was pretty moderate. I hung out in the back so I’d have an out if the pace did pick up, which it didn’t. So I turned off about 3 miles into the ride. I didn’t want the pace of the group ride dictating my training.

While I was on the ride an interesting thing happened to me – I dropped my chain when downshifting. That rarely happens to me. I know it also happened to another guy on the Saturday morning ride that I lead last weekend. He was able to get it back on while riding. Someone else commented that he was impressed he could do that. I told him it was pretty simple: shift up with the front deraileur and pedal.

So when it happened to me, my first thought was, “Oh crap!” Then my second was, “Don’t panic. Upshift and pedal.” I did and it worked like a charm. Of course that put me in a higher gear than I wanted going up the little rise where the chain fell off so I had to stand up to get back onto the group. Luckily they weren’t going that fast so my effort was just enough to put me on the back without redlining.

Hopefully this nice stretch of weather will continue so I can spend some nice days on the bike. If not, I’ll have to resort to riding in the rain. UGH!

Newton’s First Law of Motion

It states: An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

With all the rain we’ve had lately I have been that object at rest. Occasionally I got in motion but I certainly didn’t stay that way. Did I just disprove Newton’s theory? No because even when I could have gotten out on the bike it seemed like a very daunting process. So I didn’t and managed to stay at rest.

I’m hopeful with a turn in the weather and a bit of sun that I’ll become more in motion and stay that way.

Tonight I was on the PVC Monday night ride (MNR) and it truly felt good. It wasn’t a complete hammer fest but a hard enough effort to feel like I was getting some decent exercise. My heart rate managed to push up to an uncomfortable level on a few climbs. It’s not a really hilly route but there are a couple short climbs.

As is the case with many group rides such as this, when I got home I thought to myself, “Gosh that felt good. I feel good. I should do more of this.”

So after tomorrow (because we have dinner plans with friends), I’m going to do my best to prove Newton’s theory of motion, by staying in motion.

What Does Getting Dropped Sound Like?


Been there; done that!