|Trace The Mitten|
Getting outside to ride
The situation does not need to be perfect to go out and ride in the winter.
What is perfect for me probably does not hold true for you and vise versa. What do I define are outside riding conditions for me? What do you consider when making the decision to ride out in the winter?
The most important thing for me during the winter is to maintain my level of conditioning. I think of it as my base. I do not want to fall back. I want to be ready when the weather breaks. I try to ride the same number of days in the winter as I do the rest of the year. It is cold, snowy and the days are shorter. I use my trainers on most days. My mileage now is a third or half of what it will be in the summer. Inside cycle training does not hold my interest as long as when I am riding outside.
I look for a warmer day. I dress to be sure that I am comfortable. This is a good challenge to determine the right outfit.
I look for no slippery road surfaces
I determine areas that will keep me safe with traffic. No one expects to see a bike rider in the winter around my house.
I look to have enough time to work of a good heart rate.
I consider what I want to accomplish from the ride.
I consider the negative effects on my equipment.
The adventurebike club
When I was at KLM Bike and Fitness a couple of weeks ago for their garage sales I became aware of the formation of an Adventurebike Club. The explanation of bike packing sounded right up my alley. Today was the initial announcement meeting and kit fitting. Probably a dozen gathered to hear the explanation. There will be a weekly ride and hopefully a monthly camping excursion. The leaders spoke about gear, panniers, racks, bikes, tires. Hearing this was very exciting. I can hardly wait to get riding consistently outside. Only three in attendance have done any touring. It is hard to predict how the interest with materialize to go camping. Short tours is what I had in mind for the summer and this club may be a good option for tours. Orders of jersey, shirts, bibs were made and they will be delivered to the store. Check out the site www.adventruebike.club
I recently noticed that my knees were creaking when I stood up from a sitting position or going up steps. After several days I thought that I better google to see what I should do before my annual physical when I will talk to my doctor. I was not experiencing any pain and that is why I was not too concerned. My research did not indicate any immediate concern. I know that this happens with many people, but I want to be aware of what is going on. I read recently that cycling is easy on knees compared to impact exercise. I will add that you do not want to push hard gears consistently. Spinning is low resistance.
I just had my physical and my doctor reaffirmed that my creaky knees are not a concern because I am not experiencing any pain.
During today's ride I learned something and I remembered some previous lessons.
Today I rode the Polly Ann Trail, a rail trail topped mainly with crushed limestone. and some areas are dirt . Our recent severe rains may have some areas slippery or loose grave/sand.l I had not rode this path since last summer and I remembered that the mountain bike would be the best. The wider tires proved effective . I had forgotten about the horse riders that often use the trail and luckily I was able to avoid horse piles.
When I ride 25 miles on dirt and rocks it takes more effort than riding thin tires on pavement. Today took more effort than I expected.
This ride was going to be the longest ride on the mountain bike and I would not use my touring seats. I decided to take my slip on gel seat for added comfort. After about 4 miles I stopped to take the gel cover off and kept it in my pack for the rest of the ride. That gel cover mad the seat too wide and shifted frequently and made my effort less efficient. I will leave the gel seat cover at home next time.
When I took off the seat cover I also moved the seat forward. I was sitting too far back and I was stretching too far to the handlebar. Both adjustments made the ride more comfortable.
My riding posture on a mountain bike is different than my tour bike. When I ride my mountain bike I get out of the saddle more than my rides on the touring bike. By the end of ride my back ached from staying in one position. It would have helped today if I stood up occasionally.
The first time I rode this trail years ago I needed to stop and use the vault toilets at one of the parking areas and the toilet paper was gone. Since that trip I have always packed some TP. Good thing today because they were out again.
I did not bring enough snacks. I ate my snacks on the drive over. My Nunn hydration drink is sugarless and I was running out of gas. Three miles from the end I stopped for an ice cream cone. I felt the immediate boost.
Be ready to be schooled anytime you ride.
Today's lessons: 1. bring enough snacks 2. bring toilet paper 3. know your bike 4. be prepared for the possible road conditions.
With the warmer weather I am riding my outside routes. The Strava App keeps track of my rides over created segments of the path. I could see this week how these times compared to the recent years. I do not do hard training compared to others, but I am happy when my times get faster.
I am pleased with the good start to the good season. I am trying to hold myself back from jumping into too many miles too quickly. My first April ride was on the 11th and I have gone out three days after that , in between I go an easy day.
My quick assessment for the improvement is from working on spin speed and having a plan to push harder gears without creating knee pain. There also has been some conscious work on breathing during exercise and some improvement from using the gears more effectively.
To I went out on my touring bike to ride the Macomb Orchard Trail. It was a beautiful day with sun, 70 degrees and a light wind. I had a couple of hours and I was in the mood. It is an 8 mile ride through the township to reach the trail.
I felt good right from the start. My tour bike has a cycle computer and this motivated me because I could see that I was riding faster than normal. This was just the second ride with this bike this calendar year. I really do not know my condition after the winter training.
I did not predetermine where I would turn around.. I would just see how I feel. When I got to the 5 mile mark on the trail and saw that I had be gone a little over an hour going about 12,5 mph. I was feeling good and thought I had plenty in the tank, but I knew that I would end up going about 10 miles further than any previous ride this year.
The rest of the ride felt great even hitting the wind more. Both halves were consistence and I always strive for that. I moved from the big chain ring to the middle and spun at a higher RPM the last 3 miles. When I got off the bike at home I could really feel my legs walking and that is why I say, " I will be sore."
This reminds me that I am not ready to head out the door on a big tour. I need to build up my weekly mileage gradually. They suggest increase by no more than 10% to reduce the possibility of injury.
Winter is a good time to plan rides during the warmer season. We are 2/3 through January and weather will start breaking soon. We have not gotten much snow so far and the roads are actually pretty clear.
Looking forward to tours and rides are what I look forward to besides just riding.
it is best to have a multi-day tour.
How long? I would like to ride 5-10 days.
Which month? I have toured in September and like the weather and it is not as crowded. I have some September plans, so maybe October will be work better this year.
Where do I go and see? After all I am Trace the Mitten and I should check out Michigan. There are still some good options available.
What size group will I be with? I enjoyed my group tour very much, but I wanted to see if I can cut some expenses. I also believe that my plans, due to personal commitments, need to be very spontaneous and not be worried about complicated arrangements.
The arrangements get me thinking about location and driving to and from. Two of my tours have left from my home and I think that I want to do that again to reduce my carbon foot print.
Now I will work on some of those parameters.
Do you have any suggestion?
After my last post I moved the Schwinn Airdyne to be in front of the TV screens. The trainer now sits next to the magturbo trainer. One obvious benefit is to view VHS and DVDs during sessions. By consolidating equipment I have created a larger open area for floor exercises.
I immediately put in a training DVD with Troy Jacobson of a Kona, Hawaii. This is a 3 disc set of over 6 hours to follow a ride along the famous bike route. The rider has a gopro mounted on the helmet and mobile vehicle camera provides additional shots. The screen also provides effort guides.
I was pumped riding the airdyne to vary my effort with the screen prompts.
today I changed the bike on my magturbo and that gives me a good ride and went for an hour.
Our colder temperatures are here to stay and I am not motivated to bundle up to ride outside. I will give myself a break from the outside. I follow my gut on this. The important thing for the winter training is to be charged up to ride when the weather is nice.
I will start out with what I have done in the past because I think that I will do a lot the same. Then I will conclude with some hopes for the remaining of the season.
I find that when the weather is better, warmer and not slippery, I am easily motivated to get out and ride. I also find that I am motivated to ride longer and harder. I can go on adventures, visit new areas, accomplish tasks on errands, see people, be part of the cycling community and feel energized by it all. When I am outside I have hills to climb and winds to fight. I will use my Strava app to track my ride and effort. The benefit is that I burn calories and feel my healthiest.
In the fall of 2014 I started using an app @MyFitnessPal. This allows me to track my calorie intake and the nutrition. I found this very useful because I could integrate my calories burned. Last winter I successfully lost some pounds and have been able to maintain a stable, healthier weight.
When the weather is nice I do many miles riding. Last year a total of 3064 miles and 1429 were on my inside trainers (46.6%). I appreciate the trainers because I can ride no matter the weather. It is beneficial when I do not have large blocks of time to ride. On the trainers it is hard for me to go a session longer than 60 minutes. I can get several session in during a day and 15-20+ miles for the daily total.
I have found that getting the time in the saddle keeps my rear comfy on the longer rides outside or repeated days of touring.
The trainers allow me to work on structured intervals. During last winter I would do intervals of various duration and recovery of different times. I have also practice standing out of the saddle because I do not do that much outside.
Because I am inside I will do yoga, arm, ab,leg and butt app exercises to improve flexibility and strength of muscles not developed while cycling.
My hope for this season is to do the same, but add speed spinning. I noticed that when I spun at 90-110 rpm that I could not sustain it for very long. I will work to progressively add time to what I can do comfortably.
I hope to spend more time in total exercise this winter. I found that was probably averaging 30 minutes per day for all my exercises combined. During the summer I average over an hour of exercise.
Besides water what am I going to drink during a ride to keep up my electrolytes and energy? What snacks are good?
What are electrolytes? Healthline.com says, "Electrolytes refer to minerals that include calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphate, potassium, and sodium."
I bring along a hydrating drink beside the camelbak of water. I selected the powder mix that was sugar free. I liked the convenience of the little packets to add to the water. I cannot complain about its effectiveness because it served me well for years, but now I am rethinking what I will carry during a ride. Water is the go to liquid while pedaling and the electrolyte would be used mainly on a break. I would also have a granola bar with cracker & peanut butter.
This year I started using the sugared drink over the sugar free. I continue hearing about the concerns about artificial sweeteners. I could notice the immediate surge in energy with the sugar drink. It reminded me of the days working in a camp for children with diabetes. We would always carry a small can of orange juice to boost the sugar level quickly when a child developed low blood sugar. I am riding my bike and I think that I will easily burn off the sugar calories. I do know that not all sugars are processed the same by our body.
I also noticed on some of these manufactured drinks use artificial coloring and a closer look at the ingredients told me that this drink may be chemical composed. What could I also use as alternatives?
I read in a tour journal on Crazy Guy on a Bike that a rider would make a can of tomato soup for lunch on the road or drink tomato juice. I went to the cupboard and was surprised to see the label: condensed tomato soup has sodium 480 mg, potassium 610 mg, sugar 12 g and 2 g protein. I was concerned that the ingredients mentioned high fructose corn syrup and this is a concern for me. I looked at the G Series Perform bottle which says "Proven hydration with electrolytes " and the label read: sodium 270 mg, potassium 75 mg, sugars 34 g. I looked at the tomato juice that I drink every morning. A 4 0z serving gives me 341.8 mg of sodium, 218.2 potassium and 3.6 g of sugar.
Reviewing these labels reminded me that there would be other alternatives to replace electrolytes and provide energy. I realize that what works for me may not have the same effectiveness for you. Try different things and see how you respond to them.
I find that even though I do not add salt, I have no trouble exceeding the recommended daily allowance. I am usually below my my daily potassium recommendation and usually below the carb and sugar levels too.
I looked in my cupboard and fridge and checked the data on the following items: apple, apple juice, red seedless grapes, peanuts, trail mix, fruit and grain bar, Clif Bar, and raisins.
I can embrace variety in my snacks and beverages to have during long rides and tours. I am a firm believer in moderation. It is okay to occasionally have this or that.