Friday, February 3, 2017

Sorting things out

UCI Road World Championships, Bergen, Norway

With many opportunities open to me this year, it's been hard to settle on which ride events I can realistically manage -- physically, financially, and in terms of time.

Topping my list is traveling to Norway in September for the UCI Road World Championships in Bergen, Norway. Ohmigosh, I've booked my flights -- It's happening!! (With many thanks to Mike for encouraging me to go and my cousins Nat and Toril for the opportunity.) I'm so thrilled! (Unfortunately it coincides with dear friend Kristen's Half Ironman triathlon in Lake Placid -- I'm sorry to be missing that.) Obviously I won't be riding in the world championships in Bergen, but there will be opportunities for me to ride in Norway while I'm there. I'm excited for that. (The mountains and fjords... oh my.)

Also on my calendar:

  • April: Ride the Sky -- Vanderkitten team training camp weekend in Virginia.
  • May: Tour de Cure (62 mile gravel ride) for the ADA
  • June: NEMBAfest mountain bike weekend at Kingdom Trails, Vermont (with Chip)
  • July: RAGBRAI (Not committed yet.)
  • August: Undecided
  • September: NORWAY
  • October: Undecided

I've scratched Beti Bike Bash off my list this year and have chosen a few smaller mountain bike events closer to home. I'm hoping to make RAGBRAI work but we'll see -- I have a few weeks to figure that out. My calendar isn't full yet but it's nice to finally have a few commitments nailed down, and I'm really excited for the months ahead.

I need to work on my Norwegian.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Vanderkitten Squad 2017

A few weeks ago I learned I was selected to continue on with Vanderkitten for a fourth year... despite my minimal event participation (and low-key social media presence) following 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo last year.

VK has undergone several major changes since I first became affiliated with the team in 2013 -- from dissolving the pro road team, to a brief return to elite cyclocross, to a large increase in the number of ambassadors in 2015, to moving their headquarters from San Francisco to Philadelphia -- each bringing significant change. I've watched many athletes and friends come and go, but a strong core squad remains and the support and camaraderie is terrific.

Elite triathlete Kelsey Withrow is leading the charge this year and many exciting things are planned for the year ahead. Two training camp opportunities are on the table, including one on the East Coast (in Virginia) in March. A Vanderkitten Zwift team is forming and several road and mountain bike events are in the planning stages. I've had Beti Bike Bash in the back of my head since Rebecca was here, but was recently invited to ride RAGBRAI in July. (A bucket list ride.) Choices, choices...

It's only Week 5 of the New Year but the calendar is already filling up!! It's time to get serious about my training goals.

Catching the sunrise in Beverly on my way to Indoor Ride

Sunday, January 22, 2017


It's crazy how quickly a dream can derail when you put your trust in someone and that person fails you. For the past few weeks I've been lending a hand to my friend Lila, who opened an indoor cycling studio a few months ago -- Indoor Ride. Just as the holidays arrived, her business partner bailed on her in a grossly unprofessional way. I'm still shaking my head at the utter lack of integrity there... but I never really knew the guy.

Lila will survive the setback -- I have no doubt -- because she is a good person and has caring friends to cover her back, including me. I'm now coaching classes at the studio  -- Monday night Mixed Terrain, Wednesday morning Intervals, tag-teaming the coaching on Saturdays (a busy morning), and Time Trial on alternate Sundays. I'm also studying for USA Cycling coaching certification while becoming versed in Zwift-Kickr-Snap-PC at the same time. It's been a lot, but I'm really enjoying it -- I love our athletes -- and I'm finding my rhythm.

Donna and I are still getting in our 5K track intervals several mornings a week, and I squeeze in rides on the Kona when the weather and conditions allow. It's been a busy start to the new year!

Monday, January 2, 2017


New goals, new training, new adventures ahead! In a departure from how I've spent New Year's Day for the past several years, I started 2017 not on the bike but running the Wicked Frosty Four with the girls -- Lila, Kristen, Alison, Jennifer, Amy R, Amy SC, Ruth, Mary and Craig (who, well, is not a girl). Four miles through Salem on a gorgeous, sunny-but-windy day. Ack... running is still hard for me. They all finished well ahead of me, but 4 miles was my longest run to date, and I'm not disappointed. I ran a 13.30 pace... and well, there's room for improvement in 2017.

(Cheers to the tribe for waiting at the finish line for me, and to Lila and Alison for doubling back after their finish to find me and run the last quarter mile with me. That was sweet. I have awesome friends.)

The year is off to a good start, and I'm laying out my goals for the year ahead, not yet certain whether I'll be repping Vanderkitten in 2017, but will be ready to move on if that chapter has closed. I'm excited to see where the next opportunity takes me.  2016 was an off year, and not entirely successful, but I enjoyed the break from training and especially enjoyed the adventure rides I had with Chip, so it was good in the long run. I needed it. Now I'm itching to tackle something new, ready to set some goals and see where things go. It's going to be a good year.

Friday, December 9, 2016

That time we ran a 5k together

Family run squad

The Winter Classic 5K
Mike, back in run action... 
Donna's first 5K walk/run... 
and Chip beating us all. 

Mike and Chip, ready to go
The Winter Classic, December 6th

Friday, December 2, 2016

Adventures with Chip - Breakheart Reservation MTB

A gorgeous day to get a little lost.
It looks like we're on the Blue trail...
but we ended up on the YELLOW
Like a dog, Chip can't pass a good stick without picking it up.
I somehow convinced Chip to head out for a ride at Breakheart Reservation with me a few weekends ago. I knew he was feeling tired from a hard week of football -- and wasn't really keen on heading out for an adventure -- but with the promise of food he rallied for a ride. (It was a little manipulative on my part -- I know can entice him to do anything at the mere mention of food.)

We had brunch at The Iron-Town Diner in Saugus -- a fantastic place which Chip rated a "Ten outa ten". (Impressive.) We then headed off for Breakheart Reservation and a quick little adventure getting "lost" with a ton of hike-a-bike on the yellow trail. 

My side goal while we were there was to find some easy hiking trails for the Cyclopaths, but realized as we were riding (and hiking) that the trails we chose were a little too challenging for our gang. I have a little more exploring to do.

We had a great time, though! Can't wait to go back!

Iron-Town Diner
The burger was as big as his head....
but he finished it in three minutes

Friday, November 25, 2016

Fading Fall and Final Cyclopath Ride of 2016

Catching up on blog posts... it's been a while!!

10...9...8...7...6...5....... Smile everyone!!
We had a great turnout on November 12th for our season-ending breakfast and last Cyclopath get-together for 2016! THE PLAN was to meet for breakfast at Brother's Taverna and follow up with a bike ride after... but when does anything go according to plan with the Cyclopaths?! As it was hovering just over 32 degrees, I was the only rider amongst our fair-weather cycling friends.

OMG, they make me laugh.

It's hard to believe the season has ended but what a fun year we had! I did my best to keep things rolling this year, and initiated a dual-start option that turned out to be a great success. Sam would be pleased. Not only did it allow us to expand our route options and breakfast destinations beyond the same-old, same old, it created an opportunity to bridge the gap that had built over the years between the folks who wished to ride longer, faster miles with those preferring something shorter. (Considering the majority of our riders are now over 70, we're not riding much more than a 12 mph pace.)

A few of our many rides this summer included off-road trail rides to Boxford, a ride to Plum Island and breakfast at Mad Martha's (a first for several), the backroads of Ipswich, and a return Gloucester! (It had been a long time since we all went to Gloucester together!) We also went hiking!! Weather and temperatures permitting, I'll try and plan a few hiking and snowshoeing breakfast adventures this winter.

We had sunny skies for that last ride, but of course it was a solo venture for me. After sharing hugs and warm wishes with everyone, I headed out to Salem Willows and Winter Island for a cold, quick loop -- wrapping up year 42 of the North Shore Cyclopaths.

35 degrees on the final breakfast ride of 2016,
stopping at Winter Island

Thursday, November 10, 2016

VeloFix to the rescue

Guenther at VeloFix, mobile bike shop
How many years have I complained about the gearing on my Trek Domane? Probably since I first got it in June 2013!

I always think about it in-season, especially as I'm trying to mash up the hills of Vermont in a too-high-gear, but I can never find a break during the summer to leave my bike for any length of time to take care of it. I discussed my issue (several times) with two of the mechanics at FitWerx who kinda/sorta understood what I was looking for, but also told me that I just needed to get stronger... (oh, good grief)... and gave me a rough estimate of $250 (!) to replace the cassette and derailleur.

After my mechanical in August at the Farm to Fork Fondo, I knew I had a bent derailleur hanger and the bike was riding really rough and sluggish. I'd met Guenther Anger from VeloFix Boston a few times this fall and decided to give him a call. VeloFix is a mobile bike shop -- he brings the shop to you! So perfect.

Guenther came to my house and repaired, cleaned, and tuned up the Domane perfectly. He replaced the chain, which was totally shot, and the bar tape that was starting to fray. (Zane replaced it two years ago. It was time.) He also ordered a new cassette for me ($75) and will replace it when it arrives.

When he was done, he went to work on the Kona. I just had it tuned in June so it wasn't in despicable shape, but he did cut down the handlebars for me!!! (Oh that bar is so much more comfortable now. It just reminds me of how much JRA Cycles kinda sucks.)

VeloFix took care of two of my major annoyances and I looovvveeee my bikes again!

Thank you, Guenther!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Working on those skills

It's like pinball alley down there, turning sharply left at the bottom.
I knew I was going to crash.
But went anyway.
Rebecca's coaching still floats through my head.
Feet level, weight off the seat. Bananas.
Brake with one finger -- feather to control speed.
Don't look down -- look straight ahead to a happy spot.
Keep elbows bent, not rigid.
Ketchup. Ketchup. Ketchup.

I think I've got it.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Mountain Bike Adventures with Rebecca

"Every time I see your feet aren't level
and your butt isn't out of the seat,
I'm going to shout 'bananas'.

There may come a time when I will be able to fly over roots, stumps and boulders on a rock-strewn downhill descent without crashing. Right now, though, I'm still landing hard on my ass almost every time.

Just adding to my collection of bruises.

MTB and CX pro Rebecca Gross was in the house for two weeks giving me as much guidance and coaching as she could possibly cram into me. OK. Got it. "Feet level on the pedals. Weight off the saddle. Look ahead to a happy spot. Keep those elbows bent. Don't look down. Don't brake. Really! DON'T BRAKE..."

That one is tough for me. As I forget to look ahead to a happy spot, and look down and see the massive rocks ahead of me on the trail, I tend to put the brakes on and down I go. Eeeesh. It's not easy.

"Every time you say 'I can't' or 'that's too hard',
I'm going to shout 'ketchup'."
I keep trying.

I get up.

I keep going.

But I have #bruisesonbruisesonbruises.

It was a bananas and ketchup kind of day.

Monday, October 10, 2016

End of Summer/Fall Arrives

Sunset behind the clouds at Coquina Beach, Florida
Beach walk, Coquina Beach, Florida

Wow. Is it really OCTOBER?? Hard to believe how quickly the last month has flown -- although so much has happened in the last 4 weeks, it's easy to see how I lost track of time. I headed down to Bradenton, Florida in mid-September to hang out with my father-in-law, Fred, recovering from heart surgery. We spent our days being active and walking, as he worked to rebuild his strength for the upcoming winter softball league. (Go, Fred!) I managed a few interval runs while I was there, although the heat and humidity killed me.

Rebecca Gross, Day One of KMC Cross Fest

Ben Gomez Villafane, Day Two KMC Cross Fest

Returning home for the first weekend in October, I discovered Fall had arrived while I was gone (!), and cyclocross season was upon us!! We were set to host former Vanderkitten CX racer Rebecca Gross for KMC Cross Fest, and made arrangements for Caro's younger brother, Ben Gomez Villafane (racing as a UCI Elite Junior) to stay with friends for the weekend. Plans shifted a bit when I returned from Florida -- with Rebecca opting to stay closer to the venue, and Ben needing transportation to Connecticut each day -- but it all worked out perfectly and I got to spend the weekend watching both of them race. Really fun! It was awesome to see Rebecca again, (she is returning to stay with us for GP Gloucester), as well as spend some time with Ben as we drove to/from the Thompson Motor Speedway each day. (Love him. Such a terrific young man.)

Fall has arrived!

Finally, this past weekend I was able to take advantage of my first free Saturday in a month to get out for a Cyclopath ride with the breakfast gang! There were only four of us for the ride on Saturday -- a consistent turnout this year. Our rides this season are coming to an end, the leaves are just starting to change and the air is crisp and cold -- my favorite time of year, although that sentiment is not shared on a chilly morning. Hopefully we'll squeeze in one or two more breakfast rides before wrapping up for the year.

Andddd.... Coffeeneuring started this weekend! If I get out there today, I'M IN for 5-7 more weeks. Better get on that.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Still Working on that Run

Run, walk... 10K steps

My poor sister Donna. I've been planning to ramp up my 5K training this month, while at the same time she's starting a fitness routine that includes walking. So I said, "Hey! Let's train together! I'll walk with you!!" Hahahaha... I'm not running yet, because we're walking and talking at the track, but I think it's going great.

Between my Garmin 510 and the Garmin Forerunner 15, I'm already gadget-girl, but I've been wanting to get a FitBit or Garmin activity tracker since January. So I said, "Hey! Let's get FitBits!" 

She thought it was a great idea, so we both had them delivered this week. Fun!

Of course, sure enough, I'm confused by how a few things work.

I'm not driving her crazy or anything, though. (LOL)

I still have 3,300 steps to go before I sleep.

But will it sync to Strava?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Winding down summer on the trails

Easy summer days
Willowdale with Michelle. (My big head! Hahahaha)
Lost in Willowdale

Monday, September 5, 2016

Farm to Fork Fondo

Farm to Fork Fondo, Maine
"Combine a beautiful ride through enduring farmland along Vacationland's coast, hundreds of cyclists from beginners to professionals, aid stations with treats straight from local farms, a post-ride Maine lobster bake and farm to fork barbecue feast, and you've got yourself the Farm to Fork Fondo - Maine!"from the Farm to Fork Fondo website 
Ahhh... what can I say? Other than having a uniquely challenging ride on beautiful Maine backroads, and fun with friends (at the post-ride barbecue), the Farm to Fork Fondo was a bit disappointing.

  • Gorgeous scenic route with challenging, rolling hills
  • Maine
  • Friends! (Eight of us in all)
  • Great mechanical support from LL Bean
  • Fun post-ride lobster bake and barbecue
  • No food at first farm stop, other than dense oaty Clif bars. (Where were the "polenta cakes with wild blueberry jam swirl, mini blueberry and chevre turnovers with honey glaze, and shortbread cookie sandwiches with blueberry buttercream frosting"? Hahaha... I'm not kidding.)
  • No food at second farm stop either, unless you can count broken bits of cookie, maple sugar candy, and those anchor Clif bars). No "Maple-oat-carrot bars, chocolate beet cake with maple cream frosting, or shots of the farm's pure maple syrup"... (ok, seriously?)
  • Ahh, not as promised/advertised/promoted
  • Hand to eke out the first half of my ride on energy chews. (Unplanned)
  • Friends not happy, (telling me they're going to vet the next ride I propose. Sigh.)
Meh. All in all, a mixed experience. Not sure I'd ever ride this one again.

Great support from LL Bean!
We discovered a gash in my tire 30 minutes pre-ride.
Nice to be able to get that replaced so quickly. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Northern Rail Trail

Rich and Chip take a break from the rain

Despite ambitious plans at the beginning of the summer, Chip and I decided last week not to ride this year's Harpoon Point to Point -- in part due to the low-key summer I've been having and lack of training. Instead, we tossed the mountain bikes in the back of the car and headed up to Ascutney to check out some trails. Rich was interested in riding as well -- as we've made a tradition out of doing the P2P together -- so he met us in Vermont on Saturday despite rain in the forecast.

Let me just add that I don't put much credence in weather forecasts -- they are always wrong. So when I heard thunderstorms were expected in the area, I didn't believe it. (Hahaha...)

From Ascutney, we drove 25 minutes north to Lebanon, New Hampshire to The Northern Rail Trail -- what a terrific discovery! The mixed terrain trail of hard packed dirt, crushed stone, and gravel extends for approximately 58 miles down the former Boston and Maine Rail line, beginning in Lebanon and traveling east/south to Boscawen on the Merrimack River. My initial plan was for us to ride as far as Danbury (28 miles/56 RT) but didn't count on torrential rain and severe thunderstorms to hit us. We headed out in a light, misty drizzle which eventually turned into drenching downpours with rumbles of thunder six miles into the trail.

Despite poor visibility and tough riding conditions in the rain, we continued on to Canaan (14 miles) where we found a charming breakfast/lunch spot, Dishin' it Out, still open for lunch with 30 minutes to spare. We walked in soaking wet and asked if it was still ok to get lunch. A few folks in the restaurant chuckled at our appearance, but all were genuinely nice and welcomed us right in, despite the fact we were leaving mud and puddles on the floor as we took a table. (A terrific place! We'll go back!)

"You're jumping in the lake?" "Why not? We're already soaked"

After lunch, we returned to the trail and headed back to Lebanon at a somewhat faster pace -- we gained 500 feet in elevation on our wet ride to Canaan, so it was nice to have a slight descent on the trek back). We stopped five miles out of Lebanon for Chip and Rich to check out a rope swing hanging over Mascoma Lake, and of course both took turns jumping into the lake. (Chip several times.) Their reasoning was that they were already soaked from the rain, so why not jump in the lake? Hahaha... (At this point, my Strava app quit, probably while I was taking a video of the two of them jumping into the lake, but in all, we rode just under 28 miles round trip.)

Catching that moment just before splashdown

We had a great adventure on The Northern Rail Trail despite the wet weather challenges; Scenic lake and mountain views, seven river crossings in the first four miles, an abandoned mill and waterfall, an old train depot; Chip wiping out on a bridge, and Rich and I almost doing the same behind him; and both boys scaring the hell out of me showing me an enormous spider in the tunnel (eesh)... it was a fun afternoon. I'm looking forward to checking out other parts of the trail in the future!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Indoor Ride Cycling Studio

We had fun last week checking out Lila's new business -- Indoor Ride -- with Amy, Jen and Chip! The new indoor cycling studio will add another cycling option to my workouts this winter, and between both P2 and Indoor Ride, I have another reason to cancel our membership at the YMCA. (The boys haven't been using the Y facilities for a while, and I only hung on to the membership for spin classes.) The studio is terrific and tons of fun -- and my feelings weren't too hurt when Chip DUSTED me in our pseudo-workout. (Really, I just went along to chat with everyone. It wasn't a race, Chip!)

Sending tons of luck to Lila and Justin on their exciting new venture!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Up the Coast to Maine

On the road in Rye, New Hampshire

We joined the Cyclopaths on Saturday for the annual TriState Cohen Classic to Nubble Lighthouse. I overslept for the 6:30 a.m. start in Hampton, but Chip and I hustled quickly and drove up to New Hampshire in time to catch Donna, Brenda and Kathy on the road. (We drove to Rye, NH and biked down the coast towards Hampton, meeting them en route. Smart!)

We caught up to Brenda, Kathy and Donna on the road

We had a fantastic ride in the morning, passing gorgeous beaches and marshes along the way. Breakfast was in Portsmouth at Cafe Espresso before we crossed into Maine towards Kittery and York. Brenda, riding with a broken wrist and a newly acquired recumbent bike, had difficulty keeping up with the gang despite the slow pace (8-10 mph), and opted to turn around in Kittery while four of us continued on to the lighthouse. We had rolling hills and smoothly paved roads for the stretch between Kittery and York, making it a fun ride.

Chip helps Brenda with her recumbent wheel
Kathy, Donna, Me, and Chip at Nubble Lighthouse
Chip's longest ride, 65 miles

Heading back through Kittery on the way home, and despite eating scrambled eggs, a full belgian waffle, bacon, sausage, homefries, toast, and an iced chai for breakfast, Chip was sad when we passed Lil's Bakery and didn't stop! Lucky for him, we pulled over to a minimart to grab a cold drink, and he snagged himself a slushie. (Of course.)

Taking a slurpie break

The return trip was a bit of a challenge, as temperatures hit the 90's and added beach traffic was a nuisance, but it was a nice ride. In our mad dash to leave the house, I left our Garmins at home. Knowing Chip likes to know our mileage, I started the Strava App on my phone... but it killed my battery on the long, slowwww ride. (Bummer.) Based on the mileage everyone else had, I estimated ours at 65 miles. Chip's longest ride! 

A fun day, despite the heat.

Hot hot hot!
A great ride!