Tag Archives: cycling

New Swag

Hey, friends!  I hope your Thursday is going well so far!

As you may have noticed, I took a blogging hiatus in response to the Boston Marathon bombing news.  One of my teammates ran and finished the race; thankfully, he’s OK and back in New York City.  One of my cousins also spectated the event; thankfully, she left before the explosions.  So much has been written on this tragedy—and rightfully so—and instead of reinventing the wheel, I’ll simply say please keep those affected in your thoughts and prayers.

Back to regularly scheduled blogging:  Remember how I didn’t have a race kit to wear for the Nautica South Beach Triathlon, so I borrowed one from a teammate?  Good news—Full Throttle Endurance swag has arrived!

full-throttle-endurance-team-gear

All of our gear—racing and cycling kits, plus jackets, sweatpants, sweatshirts, you name it—comes from Castelli.  When our coaches handed out the swag Monday morning at practice, I obviously tried it on immediately, and I really like the tri top and shorts.

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And the black does a much better job of flattering my fair skin than the white top I wore at SoBe.  Not that it matters, of course—but who doesn’t want to look semi-decent in race photos?

The cycling apparel, however, fits strangely.  Before we placed the orders, our coaches instructed us to order a size up because this brand runs small. (I guess Italians are smaller than Americans?  Ha!)

full-throttle-endurance-cycling-kit

I selected a bigger size for my cycling jersey and figured it would be fine because I’d wear a base layer underneath, but it’s still too roomy.  Great color scheme, though!

Also, my teammates and I can’t figure this out:  We’re fairly certain we ordered normal cycling shorts, but a bunch of us received bib ones.

full-throttle-endurance-bib-shorts

Uh, there’s no way I can wear these in public because I could barely get them on—they run so small!  Oh well, guess I’ll have to order more gear.  Right now, I’m leaning toward this pink kit.

full-throttle-endurance-darkside-pink-cycling

Since I can’t pull off pink real clothes thanks to my fair skin, I should take advantage when it comes to workout apparel, right?

Things workout-wise have been going well this week.  Aside from a great nine-mile run along the West Side Highway and through Central Park with a teammate this morning, the most beneficial session was Tuesday morning’s bike handling clinic.  During the next training cycle (which starts in two weeks with another two-mile time trial on the track!), we’ll be logging lots of loops in Central Park, so it’s crucial we know how to ride safely as a group.  Most of my training group teammates and I are biking newbies, so Andrew organized an outdoor clinic and had practice skills like weaving through cones, making tight turns, signaling correctly, and drinking from water bottles.  Although we almost got ticketed (twice!) by a West Side Highway cop, our group had a really productive morning, and by the end of the session, I noticed an improvement in my skills and overall riding confidence.  It’s all about progress!

And the token food pictures.

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My breakfast sandwiches have still been in the rotation, but Greek yogurt/overnight oats have sounded especially delicious this week, so I’m rolling with it.

Does your workout and fitness apparel fall into one color scheme?

My First Ride in Central Park

As I mentioned yesterday, Sunday morning marked my first time biking in Central Park.  If you’ve been reading for a while, then you may remember my last outdoor ride occurred on the West Side Highway in October, and I’ve been pedaling away on my indoor bike trainer for the past five months.

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I absolutely love my CycleOps Fluid2.  It’s perfect for doing intervals and spending time in my saddle (as opposed to one on a spin bike), but I was pumped to ride outside—even if the temperature hovered around freezing.

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Yeah, I totally questioned my sanity at this point.  But then I remembered my teammates were riding outside too, so it must be OK.

Before making my 2013 outdoor debut, I had to invest in cold-weather cycling gear.  Yes, I’m from Central New York; no, cold temperatures don’t bother me.  But if it’s around 30 degrees Fahrenheit, and you’re riding outside at a moderate pace, then you will need to bundle up.  And as a biking newbie, I have the bare minimum when it comes to apparel:  two jerseys and three pairs of shorts. (According to my coaches, our Full Throttle Endurance cycling and racing kits arrive next week!) Last week, Andrew sent an email that included the gear we’ll need until May, which included items like gloves, bike shoe covers, and fleece-lined cycling pants and jackets.

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Since I have some vintage Under Armour tops and bottoms from my high school field-hockey days, I didn’t need to buy bottoms and tops.  And a while back, I ordered a Headsweats snowflake performance beanie, which I wore under my helmet.  Basically, the only items I needed to purchase included heavy-duty gloves and a warm jacket.  So after Saturday’s swim and brunch, one of my teammates and I hit up Paragon Sports to build our biking wardrobes.

cold-weather-cycling-gear-collage

Neon’s in this season, right?

Dressed for outdoor cycling success, I headed to Central Park yesterday morning for a beginner ride.  Again, I’ve been biking for about 10 months, so I’m still a noob, and Andrew said that people with less than two years of experience should attend this session.  It took me about 15 minutes to arrive at our meeting spot, and as I traveled uptown (in a green bike lane, so don’t worry, Mom!), my muscle memory took over, and it didn’t seem like my last outdoor ride happened five months ago.

For the first 15 minutes, Andrew briefly went over biking basics like shifting, breaking, signaling, and turning.  This portion served as a review for me—but it’s always good to hear this information again—but I did learn an important turning technique:  you should look ahead to where you want your bike to go, not where it is headed immediately. (I guess more mistakes and crashes happen when rides look immediately in front when turning.) Andrew also addressed riding in a pace group, and before long, we were off!

Seven triathletes comprised our group, including one advanced rider who lead us through the first loop of Central Park while Andrew coached.  This was my first time riding in a true pace group, and during the entire ride, I kept thinking about Syracuse Bicycle’s Women on Wheels rides and how lucky I was to be able to essentially learn to ride in a safe and welcoming environment.  My cycling technique and experience are limited, but I was so grateful to have basic knowledge and skills I learned from these meetups.

Anyway, back to group riding.

Andrew circulated this link last week and told us to study what the pros do.  In essence, he wanted our front tire as close as possible to the (back) tire in front of us, a technique known as drafting.  Although this type of riding isn’t legal in USAT-sanctioned events, it’s effective in group rides because it’s safer, allows riders to share the workload, and makes it possible for riders to hold higher paces.  From this first outing, I learned two important aspects of group riding:  never break hard (coasting and feathering the breaks should be options one and two before full-out breaking) and trust the rider in front of you.  Honestly, the idea of riding so close together was a little unnerving, but I didn’t let myself get nervous—as soon as you do, you’re done.  And besides, I trusted my teammate in front of me, so I kept my eyes locked on his back tire.

So the ride went smoothly until the five-minute mark.  There was a crash (not me, don’t worry, Mom!), but thankfully everyone was OK.  As we looped around Central Park, my teammates and I took turns holding the line and setting the pace, and we also practiced signaling and did some hill work too.

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Professional triathlete Meredith Kessler doing work on the hills of the Ironman Melbourne bike course, aka what I want to look like.

I definitely held my own out there!  A few minutes into the ride, Andrew rode up next to me and said I was strong enough to push a bigger gear; I made the necessary adjustment and immediately felt much smoother and more efficient.  I also may have received an earful for pushing the pace too much when I was out in front—whoops! (But I guess that means my indoor trainer rides have paid off, right?) After the first 6.2-mile loop, the girls in our group got dropped, but I “broed out” and rode with the guys—that’s how you improve!  There were obviously points during the ride that were tough, but for the most part, I felt fresh, strong, and composed, especially when we climbed hills.  I even caught myself beaming several times because I was so happy to be riding outside with my teammates.

Around 8:40 a.m., Central Park started to get crowded (there was actually a duathlon and bike race in progress), so Andrew said our official team ride was over, but I ended up doing another loop with two teammates.  Yes, my toes were numb, but it was 100 percent worth it.

What are some of your cold-weather workout gear must-haves?

Making a Road Bike a Tri Bike, Part I

As I mentioned Sunday, I met with Ann Marie Miller (who is super legit!)—one Full Throttle Endurance’s cycling coaches—for a saddle installation and bike re-fit this past weekend.  If reading about biking isn’t your thing (which I totally understand), here’s the SparkNotes version:  overhauled my bike in terms of fit and installed a new stem, saddle, and seat post.

road-bike-parts2

See ya, road bike parts!

However, if you’re interested, keep reading.

First, since having aerobars installed in January, I’ve been experiencing some major saddle pain.  This apparatus moves your body into a more aerodynamic position, which alters how you sit.  I have a road bike (Trek Lexa SL), and its saddle was obviously designed for road riding.  Long story short, things downstairs hurt a lot during my rides; I’d consider it a good workout if I made it to the 40-minute mark without experiencing pain, and then I’d push through for the last 30 minutes or so.  Triathletes spend a ton of time in the saddle (it’s the longest part of a triathlon), so you want it to be as comfortable as possible.

Anyway, Andrew put me in touch with Ann Marie, and we set up an appointment for Saturday morning at the Performance Center at Chelsea Piers (aka The Room of Doom if you’re taking a CompuTrainer class—ha!).  First, we talked about my cycling background and primary concerns, and then Ann Marie performed a series of body tests and measurements.  She discovered my right hip sits slightly higher than my left, and she also said I’m quite flexible (thank you, yoga!), which will make riding in an aggressive aero position easier.  My hamstrings, back, and neck are quite flexible, too.  Who knew?  Annie Marie also said I have a long torso (no surprise there), and she was happy to see that my bike frame fits me perfectly.  I obviously need to credit my friends at Syracuse Bicycle—who were also just named Best Retailer 2012 by Quality Bike Parts.

syracuse-bicycle-best-retailer-2012-quality-bike-parts

Woohoo!

Anyway, Ann Marie completely rehauled my bike.

The first part of the appointment was dedicated to fixing the height of my saddle.  Ann Marie determined it was a little too high, which was causing me to reach too far with my legs and sacrifice power; she lowered it 1.5 centimeters, and I immediately felt a huge difference.  It’s crazy how slight changes can affect your ride!

Next, we moved to the saddle.  Even with the height adjustment, the road one still hurt, so she put on an Adamo one.

adamo-triathlon-saddles

[source]

As some of you know, I’ve put out several calls to Twitter to talk about saddles and consulted my teammates and other triathletes, so I hoped the Adamo would be “the one.”  It’s highly regarded, especially by women, but once I plopped myself down, I knew it was a no-go.  Although it alleviated the pain, it had too much padding for me, and as you can see from the picture above, the nose separates, which felt super awkward.

The next saddle I tested—and ultimately went with—was the Selle Italia SLR.

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Prior to my appointment, I hadn’t heard of this brand, so it was definitely a wildcard.  The nose felt much better, and since it contains gel, it felt much more comfortable.  Honestly, though, I wasn’t 100 percent sure about it, but I ended up getting it.

For the next few hours, Ann Marie worked on overhauling my bike.  She installed a new seat post, the EA70 Zero, which helps move me forward into a more aggressive aero position.

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She also added a new steam to help drop my aerobars and adjusted the actual position of the aerobars.  However, she recommended getting new ones:  Profile Design T1 Plus and T4 Plus because both models can be attached closer to the handlebars and can be adjusted in terms of width. (The ones I have now are too wide for me.)

So what’s next?  I’m meeting Ann Marie again this weekend to finish up my fit; she tracked down a 70mm stem, and I bought the T1 aerobars, so both need to be installed.  She took some before and after pictures of the setup, so I’ll be sure to share those once everything is complete.  I’ve also logged two rides in the new saddle for a total of 1:45, and I’m getting used to it.  I don’t love it yet, but it felts so much better than the road saddle.

What’s the most recent piece of fitness equipment you bought?

A New Long Bike Ride

Good morning, friends!  I hope your week is off to a great start!  With two great workouts completed yesterday, I’m feeling really good.  However, I have to get a flu shot today, so that might change things—ha!

Dinner

Last night, I finished up the crock pot chicken cacciatore leftovers.

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Like the new festive placemats?  I ate early—around 6 p.m.—because I had a 90-minute trainer bike ride scheduled for 7 p.m.  Conveniently, that’s when SU played Eastern Michigan. (The Orange won 84-48!) There is a method to the madness.

Workout #2 – Biking

Promptly at tip-off, I hopped on my bike, which was hooked up to my CycleOps Fluid2 indoor trainer, and got to work.

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Even though this session would be my longest true training ride to date, I tried not to psyche myself out.  When training for sprint triathlons this summer, my longest trip lasted 75 minutes (and during events, I always finished the bike portion in less than an hour), so spinning for an hour and a half would be a huge milestone, especially looking ahead to the 2013 season:  For Olympic-distance events—ahem, July 14—I’ll have to spend at least this much time riding, so I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.

Anyway, biking for 90 minutes added another element to the equation:  nutrition.  During workouts and events, I’ve stuck to water, but I knew this ride called for fuel.  I took it to Twitter and received some suggestions from Amy and Corey (thanks, ladies!), and I also asked MB for advice.  She told me about her nutrition strategy, and I ended up buying Powerade (for the first time in years) and filling up my water bottles with the blue liquid.  My fueling objective was to consume one bottle every hour, or a bottle and a half total.

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Overall, this plan worked well.  I encountered some minor stomach cramps at the 40-minute mark, but they quickly passed.  Drinking Powerade definitely helped my energy levels—I didn’t bonk (physically) once, and I felt relatively strong throughout the ride.  In fact, my second wind arrived once I hit one hour, and I suddenly felt super fresh!  However, I definitely need to practice this strategy and probably tweak it; I ran out of fluid with 10 minutes to go, and even though I drank regularly, I craved water the entire time.  Mentally, I faced some rough patches, which I expected since 90 minutes was uncharted territory, but I used my mantras, pushed through, and finished strong.  Woohoo!

Breakfast

I slept in this morning and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast.

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Have to fuel up for today’s swim workout!

How do you fuel during workouts?  Do you stick to water, or do you prefer sports drinks?  Triathletes, please share your nutrition strategies!