When I lived in LA I biked to work many, many times and I loved it. It was a quick 5.5 mile ride, in and out of traffic and bike paths, and I could usually get to work in just a little over the amount of time it took me to drive (ah, LA traffic). After I moved to San Francisco, my daily commute changed from 5.5 miles to 14 miles one way - a feat I didn't really think would be possible to accomplish on a daily basis. Thankfully, training for a triathlon makes me rethink the possibilities of my workouts, and combining a workout with a commute has become one of my favorite things to do.
Our two plus week trip cycling in Scotland was an amazing and epic adventure that I will never forget. Everything went smoothly, our plans were flexible enough to allow us to seek out new adventures while we were riding, yet secure enough to know we'd be able to get from place to place. You can read all about our cycling trip to Scotland in the Travel section by clicking here, but now, read all about how we managed to fly across the country, over the Atlantic, and travel through the UK with fully loaded bicycles on our self-supported trip.
Ah, gear. Going into this bike touring trip to Scotland we had to reevaluate what cycling gear we have, what we need, and what we don't need to bring. Luckily Tom has done several bike touring trips so I've just been following his lead on what we're packing. Since this is also an international trip that involves planes, trains, and boats, we've had to be strategic about what to bring and what to leave behind because we'll be carrying EVERYTHING with us for the entire 17 days we'll be traveling.
Of course Tom and I decide to go on an epic vacation that requires physical training before we go. So much for having a relaxing time! This trip to Scotland will involve 30-40 miles on the bike for 8 days - not too bad, but definitely something we need to get in shape for. Luckily for Tom he just finished an 8 day bike trip down the California coast this spring, so all he had to do was keep up with the maintenance. I've been running consistently for a few years now, but those muscles are different from biking muscles and even more importantly, I needed to get my saddle in shape for long hours day after day on the bike. And here's how it has been going.
Its all about the recovery. Training for Scotland will have some intense moments. Since I've never done a bike-packing trip before I'm relying on Tom to guide me through our training. We'll be covering anywhere between 30-50 miles a day with around 2500' in elevation change. Not too bad, but training is required. What I've noticed is when I'm in a hard session getting up a hill I can't imagine doing this again in the next couple of days. So I look to my nutrition and recovery to get me ready to do it all over again.
After years of planning, saving, and finding the right time, Tom and I have officially booked our FIRST long haul cycle trip together! Tom has done several in the past, but we've talked for a while about doing one together. We've also not traveled internationally since we each spent separate times studying abroad during college. Its time and we're FINALLY GOING! TO SCOTLAND!
I got out of the water ahead of Marci and started to head over to the transition area. I was so happy that our spot was right by the restrooms! After a quick natural break I threw on my socks and shoes, grabbed my Clif Bar and Shot Blocks, sunglasses, and helmet and took one more look for Marci before taking off on the bike. We really wanted to do as much of the race together, but knew we'd probably get separated, and that Marci would take off on the run because she's ten times faster than me.
After a bit of an unnerving experience in the ocean, Marci and I headed up to a parking garage to unpack our bikes out of her car. We took a long transition here getting suited up for the bike and making a plan for where we were going to go and how long we were going to go for. The bike distance for the triathlon is 22 miles so we thought we might as well give it a go and see if we could do the full distance.
A friend of mine sent me the link to this new AMAZING bike radar, so thanks, Mike, for sharing!
When I started biking I had a side view mirror that attached onto my left handlebar. It was great, until I crashed and it broke. No big deal, I'd just get another one. Not quite, I broke the piece that attached from the bike, so there was no resurrecting a left handlebar mirror unless I got new handlebars. I purchased a different mirror that attached further up on my bars, but it never stays in place and now I just have it pointed at the ground until I permanently remove it. I don't like the idea of a helmet mirror - it would just be too distracting for me. I don't like the idea of not knowing what's coming up from behind me, but there wasn't much I could do about it. Until now.
Check out this awesome new bike lock, Skylock, being created by Velo Labs. It alerts owners to possible thefts, emergency responders to possible crashes, and has a keyless entry for you and any of your bike-sharers. This lock has a solar powered battery (one hour of sunlight gives you enough charge for a week) that works with a smartphone app to lock and unlock your bike for yourself or for others to use. It can also send you alerts if your bike is roughly abused (as someone trying to steal it or strip it) using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Pre-order now for $159.00, or buy later when it retails for $249. Watch this video on how it works:
Riding a bike can be scary for several reasons - fear of falling off, fear of going down hills too fast, fear of riding with traffic. I think the first two can be easy to overcome after a few times out on a bike, but fear of riding in traffic is something I still deal with. Its one thing to be able to control your actions when you're out on a bike, but we have no control over drivers' actions in their cars. My husband gave me the best, albeit terrifying, advice: Ride like everyone out there is going to kill you. Now that may sound harsh, but it really woke up my senses and I think about it every time I ride. The point was not for him to scare me, but to make me uber-vigilant about my surroundings. And it has worked.
There are really only three things you need when you start cycling: a bike, a helmet, and bike shorts. No, not just some ordinary shorts, bike shorts with some padding. They will be the difference between a 30 minute ride and a two hour ride.
The Three Bears is the name of a bike route where I live. Its a 20 mile roundtrip with about 1200ft in elevation gain. My husband (the avid cyclist) has done this ride countless times, but I've been too chicken to go with him. Until now.
Last Saturday, I went out for my first ride in probably 3 months. I had been riding the stationary bike at the gym during this time, but there's something about getting on my own bike and getting out into the wind.