The Three Bears

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. 

Let me say that I like flat routes. Flat runs, flat bike rides, flat, flat, flat. I know, what's the challenge in that?! Well, I'm learning to embrace hills - I kind of have to living in San Francisco. And this weekend I agreed to go with him on The Three Bears.

This would be my longest ride in a long time. I've just gotten back into cycling and have spent most of my time riding the past few months on the stationary bike at the gym during lunch breaks. The ride immediately begins with a 200ft decent from our house. Again, liking flat routes, going fast downhill is not my cup of tea. Its not the 'going fast' that worries me, its the 'not being able to stop at the intersection below' that consumes me while I squeeze my breaks as hard as I can slowing down so much that walkers are passing me. Ok, maybe not that slow, but its definitely a controlled descent.

Following that descent, we turn a corner and immediately start another climb. Clicking into granny gear I slowly climbed our first hill. We had done this part of this route a few months back in November, including this initial hill. It definitely was hard this time, but I didn't have the burning in my chest like I had a few months back. (And remember, a few months back dairy was a huge part of my diet.) 

This route is very popular with cyclists in the area. Every day we see countless riders out there attacking these hills with ease and speed. So going into it I was just waiting for the moment when the first cyclist would come riding past me.  It took about 5 minutes. I decided this would be good for my ego - to have cyclist after cyclist ride past me and to not get upset and feel slow, but to concentrate on my own ride.

The Three Bears is named so because of the three major climbs in between the smaller climbs. Mama Bear, Baby Bear, and Papa Bear. Mama Bear started around mile 7 and it was a steady incline for about the next mile, mile and a half. She's straight up, no curves. There's a slight curve in the road, a minor downhill, and then the immediate incline into Baby Bear. Shorter, but just as steep.  Then there was a beautiful descent through rolling hills. Starting to feel a little more comfortable, I let up on the breaking and let the wind blow through my helmet and hopefully dry off some of the sweat I accumulated on the earlier climbs. 

Finally we reached Papa Bear. Steep and deceptive - just as I thought I was reaching the top of Papa Bear, the road curved to the right and the incline continued. Slowly and steadily I pedaled and started reciting a mantra in my mind, "I can do it, I can do it, I can do it." I also began to think of my cross training, and above everything, my recent return to yoga. I've started a new yoga program (which you can read about in the Yoga section) and I began to remember the teachings in those practices. Thinking of the burn I feel in my legs during some of those poses and channeling it to the burn in my legs during this uphill climb. I could feel the passing of strength from one practice to another and as much as it hurt, I knew I could make it to the top. I did a quick check of my body:  legs, sore, but not tired; chest, open; breath, consistent. I felt good (other than the burning in my legs), and all the sudden I was at the top of Papa Bear.

I'm beginning to feel the effects of cross training. How swimming is relating to running is relating to yoga is relating to biking. I'm feeling a circle form and the continuum of fitness revolving from one sport to another. And I'm feeling the effects of nutrition as a circle encompassing the entire process.  

Contrary to my previous belief, what I do and eat affects the next thing I do. So far, I'm liking these changes and things have only been getting better. My hardcore triathlon training begins in June, so until then, I'll keep whittling away at my foundations. Hopefully we'll continue to do The Three Bears a couple of times a month and we'll see how long until I begin embracing the hills!

Pre-Workout Meal: 

Power Sandwich

2 slices, Trader Joe's The Daily Bread, Low Sodium & Vegan

Low fat Veganaise

1/2 Avocado, mashed

1/2 Tomato, sliced

4 slices, Cucumber

small handful spinach

Power Smoothie

(I make this smoothie in big batches, this amount will give you about 3 glasses worth)

1/4 cup, pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp, chia seeds

1 tbsp, flax seeds

1 tbsp, flax oil

1 cup frozen berries

1/2 cup fresh pineapple

3 cups mixed greens:  kale, spinach, chard, romaine lettuce

2 cups coconut water

I use my trusty Vitamix to puree this all up.

(And of course, give yourself 30-45 minutes to digest before heading out!)