Thursday, March 31, 2011

Open mouth, insert foot . . . Time to back out of the Grizzly Peak Century

Before I get to the crux of this post, I learned of Luke Matthews from Alameda Bicycle’s Facebook page. Luke has entered a competition for the best miniature bicycle made of bike spokes.

The person who receives the most "likes" on their design on the Easton Cycling Facebook page will receive their “dream” bike.  I’d like to ask you to help Luke win his dream bike.  If you’re on Facebook, please go here for links and directions.   Please note later you can dislike or hide if you’re overwhelmed by information.  Please pass this on to any teenagers and college students you know and ask them to help spread the word.

I don’t know Luke, but he’s young enough to be my son.  I know how much I enjoy my bikes (R2R Stealth and TREK Hybrid) and I’d love to see him win this bike.

I’m a bit depressed because I can only ride vicariously with my Team Ride 2 Recovery.   They are on Day 4 of the Texas Challenge.   I check out the pictures and read the blog on R2R's Facebook page every night.  I’m pretty sure that if you are on Facebook the R2R page is public.  If it’s not, you can “like” it.  Shortly after the ride, there will be pictures on the R2R website here.

 Back to the main topic of my blog: 

The gentleman who dreamed up the Grizzly Peak Century (GPC) was at the start of the last Sunday's Grizzly Peak Century Prep Ride.

Unfortunately, his dream has become my nightmare.

I have bitten off more than I can chew thinking I can do a bike century after being off my bike so much the last 3 months due to inclement weather and dealing with the flu for about 2 weeks.  Furthermore, I am learning how to shift a compact double gear road bike and it hasn’t helped that I found almost 10 of the 30 pounds I lost after I started cycling since November.

I have set myself up for failure. I wanted the endorphin high I felt from the Ride 2 Recovery (R2R) Golden State Challenge (GSC).

I wanted to prove to myself that I could ride the Berkeley Hills because in the Fall of 2009, I wasn’t sure I could and a lot of other people didn’t think I would either.  I wanted to be able to tell John Wordin, R2R’s Executive Director, that I rode the entire GPC to show him that another person who has experienced the Ride 2 Recovery and benefited from their awe-inspiring program is still riding and is participating in cycling events.

At the risk of tripping over myself again by patting myself on the back, in October 2010 I rode over 27,000 feet of climbing without SAGing in 7 days.  It was “The Ride of My Life” with the most awesome people, including America’s wounded warriors.  I rode 95 miles and over 7,000 feet on one day. 

Now, I'm struggling with our local hills.  And, I don’t think I can do the GPC Metric Century + 11 miles that consists of 5,750 feet of climbing.  This is horribly embarrassing.   After glancing over past posts on my blog, I realized I forgot about the first time I went up to Montclair after my arthroscopic surgery.   I was so exhausted by the time we got to the Piedmont area on Park Blvd I decided I'd wait for Marc to come back from Montclair.

I have ridden the hills only twice since the R2R GSC in October predominantly because of inclement weather, but I also wanted to get more confident on my clipless road pedals.  Until I'm more confident, I prefer riding with my cycling buddies and they're not always available.

The first time I rode in the hills on my R2R Stealth was December 24, 2010 with Marc and I didn’t ride in the hills again until GPC’s first warm-up ride.

I had a big scare on my ride the day before Christmas and I had to make some necessary adjustments to my bike.  I never rode up and down hills until last year.  I did not know that I do not have the strength in my hands to stop from my hoods going downhill.  I was struck by stupid and inexperience.

Besides having lost my conditioning for climbing during the winter and being a fat chick, I think part of my problem is learning how-to use the compact double gears.  My friends, Marc and Jim, think I’m wasting a lot of energy cycling in the wrong gear.  I’ve communicated with a couple of very experienced cyclists and a couple of people on the Grizzly Peak Cyclists Team about my gears and there are some foreseeable changes in the future.  And, if you’re a cyclist and want to make suggestions, I welcome them in the comment section.

A side note:  How apropos that one of my favorite bloggers wrote an interesting blog and mentions the concept of “lower gears and higher power to weight ratio.” This past weekend I saw firsthand how important it is to be fit on any bike, and slim is a plus, than chunky on a light bike.  A petite woman about my age was riding a very heavy, steel bike and my fat butt was on a carbon fiber. She left me in the dust on the hills. Very impressive and embarrassing!  Talk about a reality check.  Of course, if my chunky butt had been training I would have gotten up those hills without walking just a lot slower because of my weight.  I had to walk part of Papa Bear on one ride and three times, including McEwen Road, on the last ride.  Oh, and I skipped some portions of the rides.  I've got some serious training to do.  Will power just isn't enough.  I am also pretty stubborn, but stubborn isn’t cutting it.

When I first rode in the hills, I was always able to stop and rest at the top on a climb, but I had been riding flats and there’s a hill near Richmond Point and some rolling hills on a trail near Walnut Creek that I trained on with Marc. I don’t think I’m confident enough that I won’t fall with the clipless pedals when I'm climbing so slowly and I end up getting out prematurely.  I’ve only been using clipless road pedals since November.  I learned how to use them on the R2R Florida Challenge.  And, did I tell you I'm over 50 learning to ride hills and using clipless pedals? 

I have a few favorite blogs and websites, but Flash of Flashblog is the blogger that has a special place in my heart [yes, his wife knows ;-)] because he mentored me on the first "ride of my life" and that was a little over 1,000 feet of climbing.  He also got me moving in the direction of bigger hills.  I have nothing but respect and adoration for him even though I know he’s wanted to thump me upside the head a few times.

Flash, AKA Jim, after certifying me nuts per my request and I shared the problems I was having riding the hills with him now, told me:
Keep in mind that this is the "off season" and that the GP century is early in the year, so I've always considered it more of a "hardcore" rider's century as in, you have to be hardcore to ride through the winter to be in shape for it."  
I concluded from his comments I’m a hardcore idiot to think I could do this ride now. What was I thinking?

When I asked the R2R participants on Facebook whether they thought I could do the GPC Century John Wordin, professional cyclist and founder of R2R,  thought I could do it, if I was in shape.  Unfortunately, I'm not now since I've climbed only a few times this winter.

I really feel bad about reneging on my commitment to ride the GPC, but I would feel worse if I couldn’t complete it.  I want this ride to be successful.  I don’t care how fast I get there; I just don’t want to walk it. The last thing I want is to be seen in my R2R jersey and walking my R2R Stealth in the hills on this Century.  I don’t care if I stop at the top of a hill for a rest, but to walk a hill is absolutely not acceptable to me.

I have to make ME, my Team R2R, Marc, David and my new cycling buddy Jim, a retired Coast Guardsman, proud.   I rode 45 miles yesterday and about 25 miles were with Jim and I’m exhausted.  He rode his Fixie bike.  Hum, I bet if I could afford a fixie, not only would I get in really good shape, but I’d get some junk out of my trunk (pounds off my butt).

If you’re reading this and you have any suggestions for my training through winter next year; thoughts on my gears (compact double); or suggestions on my cycling diet since that is my fuel, I welcome them.

I thought about Nutrisystem through Costco, but I don’t know if they use preservatives for their foods.  Note: I’m always ravenous when I cycle and I have serious knee problems so I can’t run or jump.  I’m doing intervals and reading Selene Yeager’s, the Fit Chick, book, Ride Your Way Lean.

I sort of have a plan now, but I would appreciate hearing from others who have dealt with weight issues and got fit cycling.

I'd like to recover the funds I donated to this worthy cause, if I can.  The GPC ride is closed to new participants, but transfers are doable.  For more info about registration transfers go to the GPC home page.  I’m also willing to transfer if someone will make a donation to either the Ride 2 Recovery, Bike Alameda, East Bay Bicycle Coalition, or the Grizzly Peak Cyclists.  The jersey is the largest female jersey offered and if you’re not too petite, you might be able have it fitted without destroying the design.  I won't wear the 2011 jersey unless I have the bragging rights to go with it.

Will I be doing a century in the near future? Yep, on June 4th, I’ll be participating in Fatty’s, AKA Elden Nelson, the Fat Cyclist100 Miles of Nowhere to benefit Team Fatty who raises funds with the ultimate goal to eradicate cancer and help those affected by cancer.

Although my head will be hanging low for quite awhile, I’m trying hard not to cry.  I'm trying to convince myself I’m not a quitter and I’m just postponing my Grizzly Peak Century ride until next year.

Until next time.



Miko and Jon said...

Hey Debbie,

The weather since November really has not been conducive to riding around the Bay Area, so we've been hard up as well.

Anyway, a couple of things that have help both of us not only ride the hills, but also learn the compact double.

On the hills, we make it as far as we can up the hill, even if it's not all the way up to the top, and then pull off to the side and break for a minute. You really feel the power come back to your legs when you start climbing if you just give yourself a break when you need it. It's not conventional and a lot of "experienced" cyclists give us weird looks, but it works to get us through the hills (neither of us are climbers).

With your compact double, it's all about the feel. Like when you're driving a manual transmission car, you have to feel the gears. If you're having trouble shifting between the chainrings, it could be a mechanical issue. I'd recommend you have it checked out for kinks in the cables if that's the issue.

If it's just getting used to the feel, that takes time and a lot of practice. A friend of ours (former professional racer) keeps telling us to just get a cadence, then shift gears when necessary to make that cadence work. Again, all about the feel of the gears and ride. It's a big change from riding a hybrid with gear number indicators. Also, if you're on a compact double, the hills will be MUCH harder because you don't have the "granny" gear (smallest chainring on a triple).

Just make sure your bike is fit properly and practice on flats to get used to changing the gears, then on small hills.

If you want your bike fit or just checked out, try Bicycle Odyssey in Sausalito, it's on Bridgeway just north of the Old Downtown section. It's five minutes from the ferry terminal if you don't want to ride through the city to get there.

Good luck and we hope you're able to get a century in this year!

Miko & Jon

Flash said...

Excellent comments from Miko and Jon and I would amplify that compact setups are harder in our steeper hills. I have a semi-compact on one bike and it hurts compared to my triple. Deb, keep in mind that you are not alone in your doldrums, last week on a club ride everyone agreed we were all feeling very off on our form, but we still enjoyed just getting out and riding. I would suggest getting out of your "event think" and just ride for fun. Take the computer off your bike and just ride. Try to look at the glass being half full instead of half empty.