A Buffalo Bicycle Classic Training Blog
Unlike me, the Bianchi feels the need for speed
Sunday, June 26
This morning’s ride on my Bianchi began early, at 7:30 a.m. I did a modest 11-mile loop that includes Cherryvale and Marshall Roads, which is part of the Little Buff route. It’s a great ride because the road has been paved, the shoulders are wide, and there isn’t much traffic that time of the morning. I was pedaling uphill on Cherryvale heading south, breathing hard, and had to stop to catch my breath twice. My inner critic was berating me for stopping, but I realized that I am working harder on my Bianchi than if I were riding my Cruiser.
The Bianchi is a road bike, sleek and sexy. It wants to go fast. That is its raison d’être. Without a thought, I find myself answering the call for speed. Before long, I’m sucking wind. Then I’m aware that I’m hunching my shoulders and my butt has slid toward the front of the saddle. Within just a couple of miles, my form and breathing are all wrong. I adjust my posture, breathe more deeply, and remind myself that I am training. I try to quit beating myself up for not being a better rider, to be fully present with what I can do right now.
I was pleased with my foresight for wearing the button I acquired at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival the night before. The button’s quote was, “I was making rather merry last night,” a line from Dickens’ “Christmas Carol.” It helped me to remember that I wasn’t riding as well as I might because I was out late the previous night rediscovering in vino veritas. Today, the truth was that I was short on sleep and a bit dehydrated. Those two things make a huge difference in physical performance, especially hydration.
My friend Clint Talbott, who has been working with a personal trainer, tells me that there have been studies demonstrating that high-quality sleep can have the same benefits as performance-enhancing drugs. The message is go to bed at a reasonable time and shoot for 7-8 hours of sleep every night. He needs to take his own advice.
I highly recommend you spend an evening with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. We saw “Romeo and Juliet” under the stars at the Mary Rippon Theatre. It was wonderful. The actors are now wearing microphones so you can hear every word of dialogue. Start with a picnic dinner on the quad, attend the prologue prior to the play, and bring a sweater to drape across your shoulders as the sun sets and the stars emerge into the velvet blue sky.
Tuesday, June 28
It is fun riding a well-made road bike. The gears shift smoothly. Balanced with the rider if the bike is fitted well, the bike makes graceful turns. The body is postured for optimum pedaling power. Riding my Bianchi makes me feel powerful, strong and in control—when everything is synchronistic.
When I’m working hard on the Bianchi, there is a physiological change and the brain does not seem to necessarily function optimally. I sometimes forget precisely how my gearing works. Although I start off the ride testing my gears and knowing full well what levers to shift to make it easier or harder, I become confused when I’m tired. When I am physically spent, I sometimes cannot remember what the levers do and often guess wrong. Few things are more frustrating than climbing uphill and inadvertently shifting into a harder gear. My more-experienced biker buddies tell me that eventually I’ll remember, but in the meantime I devised a quick solution inspired by my colleague Noah Larson.
I embroidered the letter E on the thumb of my left glove and the letter H on the index finger. E is for easy and H is for hard. It is opposite on the right hand with E on the index finger and H on the thumb. I shared this strategy with Dean Todd Gleeson, the founder of the Buffalo Bicycle Classic. He suggested that I might as well put a big L and R and my glove to remind me which hand is left and which is right. He then gave me a quick tutorial on how the gears work—something about pushing with the thumb pushes the chain up the hill to the big gear. His lesson confused me more, but I have since learned that every biker has her own memory trick for remembering gears.
Clearly I have gearing dyslexia. In the end, it’s all about what works best for you. I’m sticking with the Hard/Easy, Easy/Hard glove idea. And I’ve got the left-right thing down, thank you.
“Spandex Sucks” is the pen name of a woman training for the 50-mile ride in the Elevations Buffalo Bicycle Classic, which raises funds for scholarships. The event includes distances of 14, 35, 50, 70 and 100 miles. To learn more about the Sept. 11 event or to register, click here.