Little Rock
Introducing: Little Rock
(2011 Redline Conquest)

I'd had every intention of naming my new cyclocross bike "Ed," after Shaun's (of the Dead) best friend...but this diminutive little size 44cm thing isn't lumbering or very masculine.

I still wanted to stick with the zombie theme, as this ride is my "zombie apocalypse" bike (not limited to paved roads, unlike Oby 2, no need for gas, like my car). There was only one character who seemed fitting...Abigail Breslin's character in Zombieland, "Little Rock." She's small, sassy, and kicks zombie butt. The bike is little and rocks...Little Rock. Perfect.

Little Rock's namesake on the far right
Zombieland's Little Rock learns the fine art of the "double-tap" to make sure that the undead are good and...dead.  Little Rock the bike has SRAM Apex "Double-Tap" shifters (a lower-grade version of the system on my road bike...these replaced the stock low-end Shimano components.  I'm not a fan of Shimano--could never get the hang of that system).  And she'll cover "Rule #1: Cardio," as well.

Little Rock (the bike) is quite a bit more beasty than my road bike.  I think she's about 3.5#s heavier and her softer, wider, knobby tires will definitely slow me down on the roads.  But I'll be able to ride her when the roads are snowy/sloppy with studded tires.  Yay for fewer miles logged on the nowhere bike!  As long as it's not super cold or icy I should be able to load on the layers and get a fair number of rides done outdoors, next Winter.  I'm looking forward to exploring some quiet, unpaved backroads, too.  And a cyclocross race or two.  This is the scary part.

Hubby and I are hoping to take her out for her inaugural ride today.  All the rain this past week should have made for some good, wet, sloppy backroads--awesome!  Nothing too ambitious, as tomorrow we're doing another century ride, just 8 days after our previous one.  I'm really antsy to get out on any bike, right now.  I've not ridden since that century, thanks to weather and life.  It's making me more than a little testy.


Rolling Out New Routes on America's Bicycle "Highway" System | OnEarth Magazine

Rolling Out New Routes on America's Bicycle "Highway" System | OnEarth Magazine

Inactivity Begets Inactivity...

I live pretty much from training cycle to training cycle. With the exception of a few quiet months during the Winter when I mostly work-out to maintain a moderate degree of fitness (and even then with some sort of loose plan/goals, like my self-imposed minimum goal of 50 miles/week on the bike) I am generally a slave to the written training plan.

This week has been one of those rare weeks when my plan has been interrupted and I've ended up throwing up my hands in frustration and justifying a lot of laziness, rather than even try to salvage the workout remnants.

Sunday was already a planned "day of rest," since we were sequestered in the car for the 10 hour trip from WI back to MI. I had every intention of climbing back on the horse, so to speak, as soon as Monday rolled-around. And Monday went well, I got in an easy, albeit moist, 5 mile run. Good start. And then it fell apart.

Tues. I'd had plans to do my weight workout, which I did...followed by a bike ride of some sort. But the weather was crap. The weather has continued to be crap until about 15 minutes ago (it's Friday, almost 5pm). I have been getting my run workouts in, since running in cold/windy/wet weather is actually kind of pleasant. But my butt has not seen the saddle of my bike in 6 days. And I'm starting to twitch, especially since my 2nd duathlon of the year is in 16 days, so this was supposed to be a bit of a build-up before I start easing-back to be strong and recovered on race day. Oops.

We're planning to get out as a family tomorrow AM, before we leave for DH's company picnic. My legs really need a good spin, since Sunday we're doing century ride #2 (an organized, unsupported ride with party to follow in honor of several riders' late fathers) for the year. My legs feel stale and I'm missing my bike fix. This will be my first week of not pedaling at least 50 miles since late March -- and that was still a 48 mile week. I haven't dipped below 100 miles/week since the first week of May (and had our Spring been less Winter-like it would have been even longer ago than that, I'm certain).

The lack of riding has me feeling lax about getting my upper-body/core weight workouts in, too. Actually, that's not entirely true--I've been bad about these for about the past month. The lack of bike miles simply has me feeling an extra dose of "aw, f*ck it-ness" about those workouts, too. I have been a champion eater, however (um, fail).

Next week will be better. The forecast is gorgeous. I'm ready for a clean slate and a 180 from the past 6 days of slackerhood.


Pedaling My "Old Stomping Grounds"

This past weekend I completed my 2nd century ride ever - Ride For Nature in Door County, WI (where I was raised). 1mph+ faster than first one almost a year ago. Didn't hurt that it was about 15-20º cooler. Absolutely gorgeous day. Light headwinds at the end were rough. Finished really strong (after feeling pretty rough from about 70-95 miles) and we rode the last 13 miles with a nice woman from Oshkosh. She has been riding about as long as I have.

Gorgeous course, especially the first 2/3 (when I was conscious enough to enjoy the scenery--smart planning!). Some roads felt paved by angels. We were able to ride for miles without seeing cars. Sure beats our WI roads. Even the "worst" roads were not half bad compared to a lot of the chip-seal garbage I ride on a regular basis.

Wonderful post-ride pasta meal with BIG cups of Fat Tire beer. Totally worth the $40 entry fee...ample food and drink at all 5 stops. Ran into my dad's cousin, wife, and daughters at the lunch break (they were doing the 25 mile ride). It was a really fun surprise. I remembered that they biked a bit, but had no idea they were riding...they had no idea I was even in the area. I haven't seen them in probably 20 years.

Really hope we can do this again, next year!

Skipping stones
at Pebble Beach
It was fun playing tourist for a few days, too. I got in a short run with a childhood friend, 2 orders of batter-fried cheese curds, frozen custard, swedish pancakes at Al Johnson's, fish boil, my first shot of bitters (jury's still kinda out on that one), stone-skipping at Pebble Beach, and Dane rode a passenger ferry to Washington Island with my folks while Derek and I rode our bikes.

This weekend I will be doing my 3rd century ever...an organized, but free and unsupported ride in honor of several friends' late fathers. The friend who founded the ride has been doing this for several years, after the sudden passing of her own dad. My hubby lost his father to cancer not long before, so we will ride in his honor. Afterwards there will be lots of sharing of food and the New Glarus beer contraband we brought back from WI.

Word on the street is that there's a flashy white and blue cyclocross bike with lime/acid/poison green accoutrements being put together for me (apparently my hubby and our bike shop buddy were in cahoots, recently). So hopefully I will have a post with photos, soon.

Since we returned from WI I have been unable to get out on my bike...mostly due to weather. It's been less than cooperative in the form of rain, wind, lightning -- just wholly unpredictable. Looks like the next 2 days will be nothing but rain. Sheesh. Only 2.5 weeks until my next duathlon, so that's kind of a bummer. I've been getting my runs in, so all is not lost. I also found out about a new du the day before Labor Day, so I am thisclose to registering for that. Would give me cause to keep running all Summer (even though the bike is definitely the more appealing activity, most days). It would also help me get in the "at least 3" duathlons that I'd planned at the start of the year. I had to bail on 2, so I'm going to be sitting on only 2 if I don't find another one. Most dus seem to be on the other side of the state, unfortunately.


Sick and tired...

...of being sick and tired.

Pine and Oak pollens
make for the dirtiest car on the block
After a seemingly endless Winter, Spring has brought with it the worst allergens in recent memory. I take Zyrtec year-round, since there is always something that will set off my sinuses (my mom has been diagnosed with allergies to dust mites, mold, and cats. She and I have nearly carbon-copy allergy symptoms, so I assume that I suffer from reaction the same allergens, even though I've never undergone conclusive testing. She and I also both live in old homes with cats, which accounts for the 12 months/year of respiratory issues). My hubby theorizes that our extended cold weather with relatively sudden warm-up caused everything to bloom all at once. I am inclined to think he's onto something.

For a couple of weeks my worst allergy symptoms were itchy eyes. Riding my bike made matters worse--all that pollinated air (trees and lilacs) was forced upon my eyeballs at high speeds, even with sunglasses protecting my eyes from larger projectiles.

My eyes seemed to improve about the same time that I came down with a cold (2 weeks ago). The cold was not a particularly bad one, but had me feeling pretty run-down for about 5 days. I had 1 day of feeling almost fully recovered from the cold before my allergies took over--with a vengeance. The neti pot has been my friend and has spared me from almost certain sinus infection (along with the help of my friends Sudafed, Mucinex, and Benadryl...better living through chemistry), but I have been making use of my albuterol inhaler 2-3x/day for about the past week, even though I'd not had to use it much at all for months prior.

I'm starting to think that maybe I should follow my mom's advice to get allergy tested and undergo the series of shots. But it's really a pain (literally). It would require going in 1-2x/week to my PCP for customized shots...for at least a year. And there's no guarantee that it would completely eliminate my need for oral allergy meds. I would also likely still have to continue taking inhaled steroids for my asthma, too.

I'm hoping that this year is just a fluke. I've taken Zyrtec daily for a couple of years and it's been a godsend. Hopefully next Spring will be better. I know that I'm not the only one miserable from the pollen. Mold is almost certainly a factor, too, as we had a really wet Spring. We have mushrooms growing all over our yard.

Poor Ikky...
It's not just Humans who are feeling the effects, either. Our Ikky kitty has had horribly irritated eyes and has scratched off small patches of fur around his ears and neck. He has had sensitivity to allergens in the past, but this is the worst we have ever seen him suffer, as well.

So my workouts have taken a bit of a hit in recent weeks. A freak heatwave a few days ago did not help matters. DH and I had planned to roll out a nice 70+ miler in preparation for our first century of the year, next weekend. The plan was perfect, as DS was spending 2 nights on a camping trip with his class, so DH could work a half day, then we would drive down to our favorite bike shop, put in 45-50 miles, then finish the miles with the shop's Tues. Night Ride group.

Mother Nature, fickle bitch that she is, decided to throw temps in the mid-90s and high humidity at us, instead. We started our ride around 2:30. 12 miles into it I had consumed a 24oz bottle of sports drink and was already feeling the effects of heat sickness...chills, weakness, headache. Not good. I started pounding water and Endurolytes capsules, plus added a Nuun tablet to one of my bottles. I still could not shake the heat issues. My lungs were not doing well from the poor air quality on top of my allergy/asthma issues, either.

Even before I started feeling ill we decided to cut the ride back to 60 miles. But by 25 miles it was clear that even that was not going to happen. So we managed 35 miles and skipped the shop ride. Bummer, since that ride is the only one in our region ranked in Bicycling Magazine's top 50 organized rides in the US. This would have been our first opportunity to join the group for the ride (we live an hour away from our LBS, so that limits our ability to do many of their rides).

On the bright side, tree pollination should be about done. Hopefully the worst is behind me. I've cut back on some of my workouts and am feeling antsy about it. I haven't done well with my weight/core workouts since my sinus issues kicked-in, since any floor work leaves my head congested and achy. I hate neglecting the core work, too, since it doesn't take long before I feel the effects of that--when my core weakens I feel it in my lower back, arms and shoulders after long bike rides. The legs are only part of the bike strength equation.

Speaking of bikes, we're about thisclose to pulling the trigger on another bike for me. I currently have 2 road bikes, though one we need to sell. I have plans to give cyclocross racing a try, this fall, which requires something other than a road bike. I have a POS steel mountain bike that could work...if I were a bodybuilder. The bike is just plain too big for me and weighs probably in the neighborhood of 40#s. I'm a week little girl and trying to haul that beast over barriers and up hills is not gonna happen. Plus the fit has never been right for me. It's at least a full size too big. It's the reason I balked at the idea of cycling for so longer. I couldn't imagine that it would be fun when I was in physical pain within a half mile of riding (the crap, squishy, too-wide saddle didn't help matters).

Redline Conquest
Enter the bike. For about the past 6 months our bike shop friend has been not-so-subtley "suggesting" an entry-level Redline bike in his shop. It's my size. But it has Shimano shifters and I'm definitely a SRAM girl.  Our LBS is phasing out Redline and replacing the line with Ridley bikes, so this remaining Redline bike is also on clearance.  Mike said swapping the entry-level Shimano group for entry-level SRAM was no biggie...so that kinda sealed the deal.

The plan is that I will ride this bike for 2-3 years, until DS is big enough to inherit it, then I will likely upgrade.  This will make for a great "Winter-beater" bike, too, as it can take studded tires and will roll fine over snow and light ice.  I look forward to being able to ride outdoors later into the Winter and earlier in the Spring...ie not being stuck on the miserable indoor trainer for quite so many months.

The bike is much flashier IRL.  That blue paint is a royal blue metallic.  I've already decided that rather than another bike with orange trim or accessories that this bike should have lime green (bar tape and bottle cages), to match the shop's new kit.  I think it should be named "Ed" (Shaun of the Dead's obnoxious best mate) as well.  "Rule #1: Cardio" had been a consideration, after the list of Zombieland rules (after all, what better vehicle to survive zombie apocalypse than a cyclocross bike?), but all of our other bikes have more anthropomorphized names. And Ed is damned funny.