In the past two days I’ve done over a hundred miles of biking. Aside from my rear end complaining (time to break out the chamois butter), some other problems really merited resolving at this point, especially since tomorrow is my 90 mile adventure.

Problem #1: Persistent Hot Foot

Since I got my new bike shoes, the fabulous Gaerne G.Emma MTB shoes, I’ve had hot foot problems on both feet, but especially my right. I lived with it for a while, but after today I decided to try to fully understand the issue. This link shed quite a bit of light on the situation and I moved my cleats back nearly a full centimeter. After a spin around the block, they already feel a lot lot better, especially for longer rides. I might bring a hex wrench set tomorrow on my 90 miler for slight adjustments if I find the need.

Problem #2: Totally mangled bar tape

This is not the fault of the fine mechanics at Big Shark that put on the tape about 2000 miles ago. This is my fault for fiddling too much once a little gap opened up. I should have taken a picture because the situation was just ridiculous, especially since I rode on it like that for a couple hundred miles. Had the peeps at Big Shark put on some flashy new yellow Gecko Grip today and my bike is 86% more awesome now.

Problem #3: Unhappy cables

Last year I had my bike taken apart, cleaned, put together and totally tuned up with new cables, chains, etc. I never went back in to have my derailleurs adjusted after that period of cable slipping/stretch. I haven’t been able to get into the big cog in the back since last summer. “Oh well” was my motto when it came to this issue, and I’m a bit too timid to tinker with the derailleurs myself. After visiting the shop today, the problem is solved.

Problem #4: Front wheel needs truing

Welp, I didn’t fix this one. They didn’t have time in the shop. One of the guys was saying that the wheels I have with the paired spoke patterns sometimes just wear out after a while and truing might not be able to help ultimately. The wheels have about 6000 miles on them and they are factory wheels. I’ll have them trued later this week.

Problem #6 is really my butt, but some body glide should help solve that problem, but it might not really be chafing. It might just be breaking in my behind for those loooong rides.

Fell in love with Clif Mojo peanut butter pretzel trail mix bar today. 220 mg of sodium and some potassium too, so that should keep me in some electrolytes tomorrow. Tomorrow I’m going to rely on accelerade, and Mojo bars and will stop for more fuel as necessary. Ice cream!

I will have to mail my bike on June 9th or 10th I learned. I can rent a road bike from Big Shark in the meantime to keep my legs warm for the trip. IT IS COMING! SOON! Flying out in 19 days!

I am just 23 days out from departure. Thus I enter the final push! Things are going to get really gnarly in the next two weeks or so!

People have been so very generous in helping me acquire some of these things. I special shout out to 2008 and 2010 participant Chuck Field for loaning me his bomb proof quarterdome tent from REI! I’ll take good care of it and get it back to you in DC!

  • Tent — Check
  • Nikon D3100 + Nikkor 35 mm f/1.8 lens — waiting for next payday :)
  • Ortlieb Handlebar Bag –Check
  • Frame bike pump — eh I’ll stick with CO2… less fuss.
  • Small bike lock — Lynn, one of our ride leaders says just take the bike inside with us.
  • Accelerade or Gu Brew and Gu packets to keep me alive on the bike –http://www.biketiresdirect.com is donating some to me! Also we got a Clif sponsorship!!!
  • More bike shorts! –Still need these.
  • other sundry little things like a cycling cap, strobing headlight + taillight (I’m looking for more compact ones than my current ones, which are for night riding), more bike socks, etc etc. –Got the tail light and headlight, still want that etsy cycling cap:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/RotheraCycling?ref=seller_info

Now that cycling season is over, I can concentrate on mileage and not speed so much. This will be a big big weekend. 60-70 on Saturday, 40 on Sunday, and 90 on Monday. Will need to eat lots :) Next week is busy busy though with exams and graduation. Hopefully I will find time to be on the bike in addition to commuting! I managed a 50 mile ride in a headwind in 3 hours last week so I’m pleased… took at least one great shot while out there:

Chain of Rocks bridge in quiet morning light

Fundraising is good right now. I am almost at $7000!!! I have about $200 in checks to send in and another $100 or so in cash. Once I do that, $7k will be here!

If you have already donated, and can plug my page on your facebook page or blog, that would be awesome! My quilt raffle goes until Monday also, so people can still buy tickets! So far the raffle has generated over $1700 for the American Lung Association! Huzzah!

If you have not donated, any amount will be helpful! I included a reminder of scale:

  • $5 is a drink at a movie theater
  • $10 is a movie ticket, lunch at a sandwich shop, etc
  • $20 is like 4 gallons of gas
  • $40 gets you dinner for two somewhere average

If you can spare any of these, please help me reach my goal :)

It’s been a busy spring… so busy that blogging is mostly an after thought. Here’s the update:

So far, I have raised $6,630 with a few more checks rolling in in the next week. I am really close to $7,000 and then just $1000 away from my personal goal. The fundraising deadline of June 1st really only applies with the fundraising minimum, so hopefully I’ll be able to achieve $8,000 before or during the ride itself.

Training is going well! We had a 50 mile team ride on Saturday that we completed in 3.5 hours. Not bad considering it was stoplight central! There was some good climbing that kicked me in the pants, but ultimately by the end of the ride I felt comfortable pulling for the group over the last 5 to 8 miles or so. At the end, I felt strong and easily could have done another 20 at that pace. Fueling on the bike certainly pays off! The best part of the ride though was riding directly into our Varsity Cycling sports banquet that our wonderful team parents put on. The food was fantastic and a great time was had by all.

I am gauging my progress based on my benchmark hills… climbs like Barrett Station Rd., Hog Hollow Rd., Marshall, etc. I did Hog Hollow for the second time last week and it went significantly better. If only the traffic were lighter there! Here’s a shot and it really doesn’t do justice to this vicious little climb:

A shockingly tame looking photo of Hog Hollow. People from the mountains will laugh. People from St. Louis know what I’m talking about!

I got my Shut Up Legs t-shirt. It’s about as amazing as you can guess, so definitely have a look at the tees at stomachofanger.com.

I have completed 3 crit races so far this spring ( my last one for the season is this Saturday at 9 am) and impressed myself, especially considering I’ve never raced before. The first race I got dropped on the first prime lap– no worries though because I finished smiling with some of the junior boys who were on the same race course! We also participated in Tuesday Night Worlds two weeks in a row and it was just an utter pleasure. The ambiance is great– very casual, very fun! I even attempted a Mark Cavendish style sprint finish!

Riding solo in the Belleville Crit. If only I could just have hung on to the pack!

The trip approaches quickly. On our monthly conference call last night it felt less like 20ish strangers and more like 20ish future friends. We learned not to go to fast every day unless we want to be the one unloading the truck every day! We learned we ought to be riding at least one century ride a week from here on out. We learned that a ziplock baggie might make the best mapcase of all. I still need a lot of gear and I’m preparing to buy it in June when I’ve been paid again.

On the short list of major things I need still:

  • Tent
  • Nikon D3100 + Nikkor 35 mm f/1.8 lens
  • Ortlieb Handlebar Bag
  • Frame bike pump
  • Small bike lock
  • Accelerade or Gu Brew and Gu packets to keep me alive on the bike
  • More bike shorts!
  • other sundry little things like a cycling cap, strobing headlight + taillight (I’m looking for more compact ones than my current ones, which are for night riding), more bike socks, etc etc.

The camera is one of the things I am most excited about. I’ll buy the body only for the 3100 and purchase the Nikkor fixed 35 mm f/1.8 lens so I can take certifiably incredible shots like this:

Sick shot taken with Nikon D3100 and Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 lens, taken by Flickr user dhelix33

I am stoked, everyone. Bring on the trip!

Today is a well-deserved rest day. In the last 9 days I have biked just about 280 miles. I have put on about 5 lbs worth of muscle and requisite water-retention and I *think* I am slimming down simultaneously. This stretch of riding kicked off with my 50-60 miler I did the other weekend with the headwinds (see post below) and rounded out with 40 miles of challenging climbs in West County.

Yesterday on our team ride, I could not keep up on the loop in Forest Park that we were riding. Figuring I had exhausted my legs in the previous week, I suffered through it only to realize an hour into the ride that I had closed my fresh brake pads completely and they were gripping my rim. That would explain why I was chugging along at about 13 mph on a slight up hill that I could normally do at 20 mph. Instant relief when I fixed them!

My body is starting to accept the volume of cycling that I will be doing. My guess is that it all comes down to fueling properly. The gu’s, the accelerade, the gu brew, etc have been incredibly helpful in seeing me through some of the more challenging rides I’ve done in the last week. I also think it’s helped me build muscle… I’m certainly filling out my jeans differently in the last week.

I found a t-shirt that I’m thinking I’m going to have to get! 

Definitely felt that way before!

My fundraising total is up to $6,425, but I’m still about $1500 off my goal. Quilt raffle tickets are still for sale until May 28th! I have a brunch fundraising event happening on May 5th at Salt where 20% of proceeds will go toward my fundraising total. There are only 15 or 16 riders this year so every bit of extra fundraising we can do will count!

I’m also trying to find a good way to make some sassy American Lung Association/Big Ride t-shirts for us riders to wear on the trip. I want to wear a t-shirt proudly when I’m not in my awesome Big Ride bike jersey:

Anyway, I am finally getting there. 250 miles per week is attainable even with a busy work schedule. Eat, sleep, work, ride. Luckily this summer it will just be eat, sleep, ride!

 

 

I was thrilled to discover that the weather forecast for Sunday cleared right up– rain had been predicted many days prior and after the crummy weather on Saturday I was glad it was going to let up so I could get my second 50 mile of the year in. The plan was simple: 50 easy, flat miles. I’ve got an awesome new saddle that is one with my bottom (Specialized Ruby Expert), I had all kinds of fun endurance nutrition packets to try out (Hammer Perpetuem, Hammer gels, Gu Brew, Hammer Recoverite), and I had a nice part sunny day before me. How could it possibly go wrong?

My destination of choice was the Missouri/Mississippi confluence, as viewed from the Columbia Bottoms Conservation Area. I can take the Riverfront Trail… a flat, fantastic route (although it sometimes smells like either diesel or a fish processing pier when you’re closer to the city) that zips you straight up to the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge (former Route 66). Then you can follow the road North for another 8ish miles into the Bottoms.

Fantastic shot of the bottoms that I found on Panoramio. Taken and enhanced by user Oneofsix.

Everything about the ride there was fantastic. As I was coming down Grand Ave to where it meets Chouteau, I saw a PHASES jersey zip by! I knew I had to catch up because there aren’t many of us sporting these jerseys yet. Turns out it was another of my trainer Zach’s disciples, Dave, a friend of his who is training for a killer 50 mile mountain bike race in Arkansas! We had done the same route to the Bottoms in January so we rode together for a few miles until he flatted. Alas, I continued on without him! (Later I saw him on the way back and he said he had three flats total– now THAT is persistence! I would have given up and called James for a pick up!) Anyway, as I was saying, the ride was pretty great. The smell of flowers punched through the air… erased the stinky fish and barge smells of the start of the RFT. I was flying along. The sun was mostly hiding behind clouds so my lack of sunglasses was no biggie. I spotted some massive wild turkeys picking their way along the grassy banks of the Mississippi. I rescued some baby turtles that had found their way onto the road in the Bottoms.

The confluence was pretty cool. I tried to spend some time reflecting on how these two massive rivers drain most of the continental US. It’s one of those things where once you get thinking about where all that water had been, you start thinking about how the matter I’m taking in and moving back out– food, air, water, etc… was all there since the beginning. Oh to be a little atom– the things it has seen in it’s lifetime!

Almost immediately as I rode back from the Confluence I noticed that Ride was not so easy anymore. In fact the headwind was so vicious in the Bottoms that bugs were getting blown into my skin and stinging. I was moving about 10 mph. I saw people time trialing there too– I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them.

The ride back was a little bonkers. A friend from a cycling forum calls it “Paying the Piper”. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was riding right into the eye of sustained 30 mph winds with 46 mph gusts. What a day to actively choose NOT to bring my sunglasses. My eyelashes were sticking together! All manner of debris found their way into my eyes it seemed. The sun was bearing down harder– another story all together– I’ll get there. The humidity seemed more palpable as the temperature climbed. I came across many other struggling riders who all made the same insane choice to ride that day. We commiserated for a bit and then would then part ways. I thought maybe the flood wall would shield me from the wind, but no… the wall was oriented north-south, so it didn’t matter which side of the wall I was on, I was still getting blown half to heck.

Start of the floodwall on RFT! Credit to Flickr user Stujoe!

Downtown St. Louis got busy while I was out. Between the NRA conference, opening weekend with the Cards, a St. Louis Blues game, and the St. Louis Marathon, there were plenty of unpredictable/ distracted drivers and pedestrians to dodge. I rolled home and promptly demanded food. Discovered that YES, I can get a nasty sunburn in April in St. Louis (YET AGAIN– I feel like I learn this lesson every year). It’s not even an acceptable even sunburn. I’ve got harsh jersey lines and a serious watch stripe. I should have known better. I just should have. I wore long sleeves to school today to hide my shame.

Anyway, I engorged myself on Lebanese food at The Vine, kicked my legs up and proceeded to do almost nothing for the rest of the day except eat, drink water, and apply Palmer’s cocoa butter lotion to my sunburn every 15 minutes or so.

In spite of all the madness yesterday, today was great! We headed to Forest Park for practice and did laps around the Jewelbox, logging 25 miles or so by the end of practice. I also did another 12 or so home. I can’t believe how hungry I was when I got home– even after the two Speed-like “Roctanes” I consumes and the two bottles of Gu Brew. Tomorrow will be another 50 mile day– riding to school, with the team and back home again. Should be good! Just gotta keep eating!

On that note, i will leave you with this video (not quite what I experienced, but it FELT this way).

It’s finally starting to sink in.

I think the feeling started momentarily after I reached my $6000 fundraising minimum. I am going on this ride. There was still a chance I might not go before I reached the minimum. I’m hearing a Phantom of the Opera tune somewhere in here… “Past the point of no return…”

The fear might be enhanced because of the way I’ve been feeling. If you’ve been following along with the blog you know that I’ve been working with my trainer, Zach Brace, since December. I’ve been working hard gaining muscle and losing fat. At the end of February, cycling season started. It’s been difficult to find time to strength train (once per week would be enough, but I haven’t managed that). Anyway, I met with Zach Sunday only to discover that I couldn’t do half of what I could do in February. In fact, my riding since Spring Break had been terrible during practice. Simple things were wearing me out.

My conclusion is that I wasn’t getting enough calories, in spite of eating to satiety at every meal. And in the absence of dietary calories during cycling practice? My body cannibalized my own major muscle groups. I’ve been burning muscle for a month. Needless to say, I have barely been able to walk since waking up Monday. I rode on Monday (because it felt ok to ride) but that only set me back further. I’m learning some hard lessons this week.

Thus, I have discovered I need to eat more. Eating until I’m full is not enough. I need more more MORE calories. Charlton, our ride director, says that riders will be burning between 4,000 and 11,000 calories per day. I’m not sure where I fall in that spectrum yet, but basically I’ll be eating constantly. Liquid calories will be key. Diluted gatorade power works for now, but I’ll probably see about picking up some Cytomax or the like for when my training gets extra intense. One rider last year drank recoverite after every day of riding and never experienced muscle soreness really. I might have to look into that. Also compression tights!

It’s hard to imagine riding as much as I’m going to be still– even though I’m currently riding 5-6 days a week. I’m still only riding 100-200 miles per week right now. Probably closer to 100. Time to up the ante!

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