Tuesday ride

I had a very nice ride in the 60 degree weather today; actually it was 47 when I left, but 61 when I returned. I’m so used to bundling up for rides these days that I felt very underdressed — I wore only very light covers over my shoes and could probably have gone without them (most people call these booties, but the word seems ridiculous), shorts, tank top, short-sleeve t-shirt, jersey, arm warmers, knee warmers, and cycling gloves — short fingered! — and that’s it. Oh, and a helmet of course.

I rode for 3 1/2 hours, down to the Long Island Sound and back, following what my cycling club calls the beach loop. Or one version of the beach loop — there are many, many ways to get to the beach and back (Compo Beach for those of you from the area).

I did run into some troubles, though, minor ones. Heading south I went straight when I should have turned right and unnecessarily climbed a huge, steep hill, the sort where I was standing up in my easiest gear. I had written down the roads when I did a slightly different version of this loop a year ago, but I mistakenly wrote “left” when I should have written “right” and never corrected it, so when I saw the right turn I should have taken, I went past it because according to my paper it wasn’t correct. And I didn’t remember making any mistake last year. The thing is, my intuition told me I needed to turn right, but Connecticut roads are so tricky that intuition (especially mine) doesn’t generally help much. So even though I sort of knew I needed to turn right, I thought I was doing the best thing by ignoring what I “knew” and just riding on. So now I have no idea whether I should follow my intuition or not if I find myself in a similar sitution — either way, I’ll make the wrong decision probably.

The rest of my troubles were solved by friendly police officers — two of them! I got to a tricky intersection I hadn’t ridden through before and wandered around for a while, annoying the many drivers around me. Luckily for me, there was construction going on just up the road and a police officer watching over things, and he gave me directions. He called out as I began to ride away “I’m jealous!” Yes, I was lucky to have enough free time today to go on a long ride by the beach.

The second police officer was very friendly too; I ran into him while trying to ride down a road that was closed because of a fallen something or other, and he gave me directions around to where I needed to go. This one yelled out “enjoy your ride” as I pedaled away. Very nice!

I also had a rough last 10 miles or so; I think I hadn’t recovered from a hard ride I did on Sunday, and my quad muscles were rebelling. I was also getting hungry; I’d eaten two Cliff bars, which should have been plenty, except I was riding during my lunch time when normally I’d eat more than that and burn a lot fewer calories.

But otherwise, it was wonderful to be out in the spring-like weather. I’m trying not to think about how far away spring actually is.

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3 comments so far

  1. Karen on

    You are so lucky to be out today–I was confined to work. Truly a rare day this time of year…

  2. zhiv on

    This is a great thing–good luck and have fun! I’ve enjoyed reading your other blog for a few months, and this is a great addition.

    The thing that prompts me to comment is that my own exercise/training has developed from different sources but over some similar lines over the past few years, and I thought I might throw out a few items.

    You’re coming from the opposite place: you’re a biker, I started out as a swimmer. I hear that swimming experience gives you a big advantage in triathlons, but I don’t know. The thing I love about swimming, and having learned as a teenager how to do strenuous swimming workouts, is that it feels very timeless: once you learn how to swim fairly well–and there’s not much to it–you know that you can be doing it when you’re 70, 80, or even 90 years old, and it’s just a question of getting into the pool.

    You’re on the right track with measuring by time, rather than distance. It’s really helpful for running, and it applies to swimming too. This was a big breakthrough for me, way back when, and it came from mountaineering. We kept asking guides/leaders, how far is it? And they would always say “45 minutes” or “an hour and a half.” Yeah, but is it 2 miles, or 5 miles, or what? It takes awhile, but eventually it sinks in. And you must have this sense with your biking. When you’re riding 60-70-80 miles, it’s not about another mile here or there, and some specific distance. So starting with running for a half an hour is great, getting more comfortable, and then moving it up to an hour. I started my running with marathon training (in the same incremental way, building a base), and the real payoff is when your LSD (long slow distance) run is the same as your long bike rides, and you run for 3 or 4 hours, and then a 2 hour run seems very manageable, and you can move pretty quick in a half-hour run. It takes a consistent effort, but over the course of weeks and months it comes together pretty easily. A big part is getting rid of limitations, and your biking experience and stamina will put you in great shape.

    None of that is especially notable, but the thing I really wanted to commend you on is the cross training and including the yoga. The running (unlike the swimming and biking) wears you down over time, and yoga can really contribute and sustain the entire program. You know that, everybody knows that, it’s a major trend (and a great one). Now I do more weekend yoga and few long runs (but I’m getting old). The thing that helped me, that I wanted to mention, is pilates mat classes. They’re extremely complementary to yoga. They are easier and take a little less time. I always thought that pilates was about the machines and private trainers and expensive, and had no idea that there was a form of it that’s basically a subset of yoga. In yoga they occasionally refer to core strength and there are back strengthening exercises, but with standing and twisting and inverting, etc., the focus on the core isn’t always obvious, but in pilates it’s the whole game. I saw a class going on once and eventually figured out what it was, they can be included in gym fees or the same as a yoga class, and it has helped my program immensely. And the vast majority of people I talk about this with don’t know that the mat classes exist.

    Meditation and mindfulness are another part of the program that’s worth exploring. There’s a lot of very straightforward, simple meditation stuff now (another great trend), and it fits in well with the program/breathing, etc. You get the gist of it with yoga, but last spring I took the next step (for stress reduction, amongst other things) and getting basic meditation training really seemed like it might be the last best piece of the puzzle.

    Although I shouldn’t quit without mentioning bath salts–and that is where the reading comes back in. Sorry to go on for so long, and you have probably been through all of this, but again, good luck!

  3. Dorothy W. on

    Karen — yeah, I was lucky, and I try to keep that in mind, so I don’t take it for granted.

    Zhiv — thank you for your comment! I do appreciate it. I’ve heard that swimming is the hardest triathlon sport to learn, and I’m feeling a little anxious about it! I may not be able to begin lessons until next summer. But I do think I’ll like it when I get there. I love sports that you can do when you get old — I think of cycling in the same way. I know tons of people in their 60s and 70s who ride regularly and it’s great.

    I picked up the habit of measuring time from Joe Friel’s cycling book — I’ve picked up lots of habits from there! It makes a lot of sense to me — the point is not how many miles you’ve done but what you’ve done with those miles. My long slow bike rides are 6 hours, and I’m not sure about running that long! But I do like the idea of working my way up to a marathon one day. If I can ride 100 miles on my bike (and more), I should be able to run a marathon, right? We’ll see. I do have a strong sense from cycling that it takes a lot of time to build up proficiency in a sport — I have a lot of patience!

    I should try pilates — I’m familiar with the idea, but I’ve never taken a class. Unfortunately, they aren’t offered at my yoga studio. But I may be able to find one somewhere. The thing is, there’s so much to do! Riding, running, swimming, yoga, pilates, weight lifting — I’d love to do it all, but want to read books too. And I have to work. But taking a pilates class for a while would be great, and then maybe I could do some of the exercises at home.

    At any rate — I do appreciate your thoughts.


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