Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Getting through the winter

It's that time of the year where I become an even lazier blog updater. The past few weeks have been spent trying to ramp up base training and also included a short trip up to Minneapolis to visit with Dave's two brothers and their wives (technically one's a fiancee but close enough!) It was nice to spend time up there and the weather was awesome so we spent some time outdoors and walked around Lake Harriet in the sun.

We also took Cider and her cousin Milo to a dog park near the airport. Cider gets a little nervous around other dogs so we weren't sure how she'd be with dozens of other dogs off leash. She generally stuck close but got in a few good chases with Milo. He's the one in the stylish coat.

It was nice to hang out with Mike, Karla, Ryan, and Rachael and we also ate at a few of the many awesome restaurants in the Cities. We also met up with my cousin Liz and her boyfriend Zach who recently moved to St. Paul. It seems like more and more friends and family are living in the Cities so it makes it tough to try to see everyone while we're there!

The weather in Wisconsin has been sort of blah lately. It stopped snowing a few weeks ago so the snow has gotten kind of yucky. January was really cold so the snow that was left got pretty icy and crusty and skiing wasn't all that great. I got out a few times though and it was still fun to be out in the snow. My studded tires got a few days of use commuting and a 2 hour ride once when the temperature got up to 30. I felt tough to be riding in the cold but I pale in comparison to my extremely hardy Planet Bike coworkers. Chris and Marko will both ride in any conditions and I admire and applaud them for their perseverance!

This time of year I always learn to embrace the treadmill at the gym and logged several hour long 10K runs which was nice. I don't run fast but this time of year I like to mix it up and not sit on a trainer in my basement for every workout. Some good music or a podcast helps the time go by and dare I say I actually enjoy the monotony of it.

But alas mother nature gave us a break this past weekend and with a 45 degree day on Saturday I happily joined in the weekend group ride and got about 4.5 hours in. The roads were gritty, wet, and snowy in a few spots but luckily almost everyone had fenders. I took the cross bike and opted for some slick 32c tires to give me more traction and flat protection . . . and some added resistance! It was an awesome ride though and totally worth the hour or so of bike cleaning afterward.

Here's Meredith as we wait for someone to fix a flat.

We also stopped in New Glarus at a cute little coffeeshop to refuel.

I didn't even see this sign but Jordan took a photo of it - I love it!

Sunday was a bit cooler but a sunny, 35 degree day is rare this time of year and another long ride was in order. With 4 women and 2 men showing up for the ride we drafted off the guys for awhile before splitting up and heading back home. It was a fun girls ride and so nice to be out in the sun. The 3.5 hours flew by and I'm so glad I didn't have to try to log in that time on the trainer! I'm hoping that mild weather is here to stay but this is Wisconsin and I know better. I'm guessing another major snowstorm will hit us in the next few weeks. But today it's supposed to be record temps in the mid 50s and even though it's a rest week I'm going for a long ride!

I've also got a minor rant on the cancellation of womens cycling races (specifically those on the National Racing Calendar) for the upcoming season. Now I realize that our economy is in a bit of a pickle and that both businesses and consumers are trying to trim down their expenditures to keep their heads above water. But the recent slashing of several races still leaves me disappointed. And the inequality shown towards cutting mostly events for women is frustrating and disrespectful.

First the Tour of California womens edition went from a 3 day stage race to a one day crit (hardly a tour!). Then a one day classic type race, Tour of Leelanau in Michigan, was cut completely as were a weekend of crits in Grand Rapids, MI - keep in mind these were all NRC events for women only. Next Tour de Toona - a wonderfully epic 7 day stage race in Pennsylvania was mysteriously reduced to 3 days on the NRC calendar. For a fleeting few days last week it went back to 7 days and now . . . it's back to 3. A smaller stage race in Arizona, the Vuelta Bisbee, canceled all category races (including pro/1 women) to host only a pro mens event. Also about two weeks ago the Oregon Pro Cycling Classic announced it was canceling the 7 days of NRC racing for both men and women that had been scheduled for mid May. The only bright spot on this one is that more riders should make it down to Arkansas for the Joe Martin Stage Race which ended the day before the OPCC started. I can't help but wonder which race will be the next victim of the cuts.

And although cycling isn't immune to our economic downturn the cycling industry certainly seems to be holding its own in these tough times. This past weekend the Row had record breaking sales for February and at PB we're shipping more and more product out of the warehouse. Sure, these are two somewhat small observations but in general I think people are embracing the bike in all of its beautiful glory. Recreation, transportation, sport. And even though I'm a racer I foremost appreciate the functionality of bikes and their potential to transform our car dependent society. Anyway - I'm an optimist and hopeful that good things will continue to happen in the sport and that more businesses will recognize the benefits of supporting cycling in its many forms.

Speaking of optimism - I thought this was an interesting article in PEZ - The 7 Day Mental Detox. It seems like this is the time of year when the upcoming season holds a lot of mystery - weeks of training in anticipation for the first races can cause some weird thoughts to drift through your mind. I've always been a believer that mental strength is just as important as physical strength in cycling and most sports. I consider myself a positive person but trying to purge all negativity as the article advises is tough! Give it a shot.

Okay - I think I've rambled on enough for this blog post. Thanks for reading!