tour de victoria 2012

I’ve been meaning to do a Tour de Victoria post but I haven’t felt inspired. A few days ago, K asked me (via email), how it went, and here’s my reply to her:

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My ride was great. I was trying to not have high expectations, mostly since I’d had a three week break from training because of Saudi, but I had the thought that if I finished it in 4:15, I’d be ecstatic. I told Greg to expect me at around 4:30, 4:45.

It was a great day weather-wise. I remember the ride a bit more this year than I did last year, maybe because this year I rode it mostly by myself. Last year I had Ann and I’m sure our chatting distracted me. That and the pain. 🙂 I think I was a bit more aware this year, too. I found it a bit odd that I couldn’t remember huge portions of the first one, so I think I tried to be more aware of where I was.

Anyway, we had to do Munns road this year, which is a brutal climb (that we didn’t do last year). I had ridden it four times before the race, so I knew I could do it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard!! It turned out that Greg caught up to me on this climb (earlier than expected — he was doing the longer portion and was whizzing along), so that was a nice boost, and then I started chatting with another girl for a good portion of the climb. Which made me not so conscious of the fact that my legs were complaining loudly and I sounded like I was going to have a heart attack.

Munns was near the beginning, so it was nice to have that under my belt. We then continued along through Brentwood Bay and every Saanich municipality under the sun, out to the ferries. During this time I again chatted a bit with another woman, and then she eventually took off. I found this part of the ride the hardest. I remember looking down and seeing 30 km and thinking that we were not yet a third through, and I was tired. How was I going to make 100 km? (For the record, I’d never actually ridden 100 km before the race…90 was my furthest). But I kept plodding along. I passed the half way point and that was a mental milestone. I was on my own for the rest of the ride…it’s not that I didn’t want to find a group that I could draft with, it’s just that every group that came by was too fast, and I didn’t actually pass any groups — just individual people. I am definitely a loner when it comes to exercise, though, as I was fine by myself. There were a few aid stations along the way but early on I decided not to stop, and I literally did not get off my bike for the whole race.

Going through Cordova Bay I was pretty pooped, and I knew I had two large hills left — Ash and King George Terrace. Friends had told us they’d be at one or the other. I went up Ash looking for them, but they weren’t there. I was a bit disappointed, but it turned out fine, as knowing they were going to be on KG Terrace really helped me along. I had internal conversations with myself saying that once I reached 80 km, I was going to start pushing it a bit more. Turns out I didn’t have a lot left, so that changed to 90 km, and in the end it was only the last three km that I was able to give anything more to.

When I got to King George Terrace I knew L and T would be there, and sure enough they were at the top of the second hump, cheering and ringing their cowbell. It was SOOOO nice to see them. After that it was pretty much downhill to the finish line, and less than 10 km to go.

From about 50 km on, I kept looking at my bike computer and the time, and attempted to do time math in my head…a great way to keep myself occupied. I realized that I was making some good time, and realized I just might make my 4:15 goal. I tried to tell myself that it would be fine if I didn’t. It was apparent that I’d get in under 4:30, unless I royally screwed up, and I think I would have been just fine with that…but I ended up getting in at 4:13. It was awesome, except Greg
missed me at the finish line because he wasn’t expecting me so early.

After 4:13 hours on my bike, not getting off at all, I was pretty sore when I got off. The only thing that helped was squatting. And the beer I had right afterward.

I don’t know what the plan will be for next year…whether I do this race again, or maybe do the 140 km. Or maybe something entirely different. But I do know that I really enjoy riding, and every time I get on my bike I feel like I belong on it.

i’m still walking

When I signed on to do the Tour de Victoria, I had few expectations. One was that I would get a bit fitter, another was that I would, in fact, finish the race, and another was that Greg and I would ride the race together. But that was about it. I didn’t really know what I was getting into, and I didn’t know how the actual race was going to go.

Training started out a bit slow. I signed up for the ride in January, but didn’t really start any serious riding until late March. At one point I remember coming home from a short-ish ride to hear Greg advising me that I needed to step up my mileage. (Not what I wanted to hear at the time, but he had my best interests at heart.) I had visions of riding three times a week, but that didn’t happen. I procrastinated over buying a road bike and did my early training on my mountain bike. When I finally did get a road bike, my stats showed that my average speed for my rides didn’t go up by much on the road bike. I did a couple of rides with Greg and realized I was much slower than him…which started conversations about us not riding together. A few times I told myself that I could just bail if I wanted to. I wasn’t feeling too confident.

But then Greg and I got in a routine of each of us riding one weekend morning while the other took care of the kids. I got out for a couple of mid-week rides. I did step up the mileage. I started training with my friend Ann. We weren’t able to get out on many rides together because of our schedules, but we got a few in, increasing our distance gradually. My longest ride before the actual tour was 85km, and I was confident that I could have easily done another 5km.

Greg and I had a few conversations about us riding together, with me urging him to ride on his own. The tour was a mass participation ride, not a race, but we all have our goals we want to reach, and I knew I would slow Greg down significantly. He decided he’d ride with me the first hour and then go on his own. I gave the same option to Ann, but she stuck with me (despite the fact that she powered up every hill). In hindsight, I’m not sure I would have done as well if she had gone ahead, so I’m very thankful.

Yesterday was “race day”. Greg, Ann and I lined up in the chute in the 3.5 – 4.5 hour section. My average speed on my rides still wasn’t going much past 20km/h, so I wanted to finish in about 4.5 hours. I was a bit nervous because I’d never ridden with such a large group of people, but other than that I was feeling pretty good. We started out slow and thankfully the group got strung out fairly quickly. In the first few kilometres I occasionally had to brake when I didn’t want to, but I never felt nervous about crashing into anyone. It took me a while for my legs to not feel like jelly (I think because of nerves), but after about 20 minutes I felt a bit better. At about 30 minutes, Greg was just a bit ahead of me and I could tell he wanted to go, so I told him to go for it.

Soon after Greg left us, we hit Prospect Lake Road, which Ann and I had ridden once going the other way. It’s hilly, bumpy and narrow. Ann had told me if she got ahead she’d wait for me at the other side. I kept her in my sights for most of the way, but on the last two uphills I lost her. I also started to feel awful, and realized I needed to slow down a bit on the uphills or I wasn’t going to make it. As promised, Ann waited for me, and the rest of the race went much better from a physical standpoint for me. And when Ann told me what our average speed was, I realized why I hadn’t felt good — it was a good 3 km higher than normal. She kept me updated periodically for the first half of the race with the average, which remained higher than usual, but each time we discussed possibly slowing down, we decided to just keep going, knowing we could slow down later if needed.

We hit some brutal rain in Central Saanich and Sidney, but thankfully we rode through it and dried out a bit after leaving Sidney. We had a couple of brief stops along the way for food and clothing changes, and stopped at the 60 km feed station for a bio break. It had stopped raining by then but starting up again was hard because we were still wet and my legs, feet and hands were numb.

By about the 70 km mark it became clear to me that we were on track for finishing under four hours. I was shocked, as this far surpassed my expectation for 4.5 hours. I was definitely way more tired than I’d been on any of our training rides, but I felt pretty sure I had it in me to finish. With about two kilometres left Ann asked me what time it was, and we realized we had enough time to try to beat the 3:45 mark. We decided to go for out, only to be met a few seconds later by the one and only red light that they made us stop at. But we still came in sub 3:45.

I don’t remember large portions of the ride. I had to really think about what point we were at when Greg left us. I couldn’t remember where we turned off Old Island Highway. I chatted with Ann off and on, but I was on auto-pilot for a lot of the time. I remember the rain. I remember the 140km lead group passing us in Sidney, and I remember bits and pieces here and there. But I think I was pushing myself hard enough that it affected my mental awareness.

The race far exceeded my expectations. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this proud of myself from a fitness perspective. I realize that I did prepare well for this race, while at the same time keeping it realistic and not sacrificing too much of my life. Yes, I could have trained four days a week and maybe taken 15 minutes off my time. But that wasn’t my goal, nor would that have fit into my life very well. My goal was to finish and still be able to walk the next day. I did that and more. I pushed myself more than I thought I could, and performed better than I expected. And I tried (and succeeded at) something I’ve never tried before. And that feels damn awesome.

76 days to go: so much road, so little time

First is was the trip to Ottawa. And then it was some stupid test I had to study for (that’s a whole other blog post). And Elliot’s birthday was thrown in there. And a few days of snow.

Nope…there hasn’t been a whole lot of riding in my life. But there has been some, and there will be some more tomorrow. And I’ve been averaging about 17 km/h on my rides, and that’s on my mountain bike without slicks. So it’s not all doom and gloom. I haven’t been able to get much distance in, but I’m slowly getting it higher.

And today I test rode a couple of bikes, another step in the right direction. The first was the Brodie Romulus, and the second was the Brodie Ronin. There is a $350 price difference between the two, the Romulus being cheaper. The Ronin has disk brakes, an aluminum frame and upgraded components. Both bikes felt good…actually great. Before I make any decisions I want to go to at least one more shop, and I also want to have a clearer idea of what kind of bike I want. I’ve been thinking cyclo-cross all this time, but the Romulus isn’t a cyclo-cross bike. Brodie describes it as “their most versatile road bike”…a description I like. On the other hand, the Ronin has nicer parts, parts which will theoretically last longer. On the other hand, I’m not that hard on my bikes. On the other hand, disc brakes would be nice…you can see I have some thinking to do.

I’m hoping to make a decision in the next week or so. The sooner I can get on the bike that I’m actually going to be riding for the race, the better.

And now it’s time for some shut-eye. Tomorrow will be a two hour ride and I need all the help I can get.

114 days to go: training alone

Another ride today, about 50 minutes. Still not a lot of distance happening. This morning’s ride was supposed to be longer but it took me longer to get ready than I thought it would. That was probably due to the amount of layers I put on. I was the perfect temperature, with the exception of cold hands. But they were only cold for about 15 minutes of the ride. When I get back from Ottawa I’m going to sketch out a training plan for myself, with some help from the Internet. I’ll google “training for 90 km ride in the shortest time possible”. I’ll also google “but me the best bike in my price range without me having to do the research”.

Am I lazy?? I guess so. Although I did sign up for the race. That’s not lazy.

I was thinking about the whole “training” thing when I was swimming the other night. For most of my fitness endeavours, I have trained by myself or with one or two close friends. The only exception was for my first half marathon, and it’s a damn good thing I did that because I almost died. I would have died had I not trained with the Running Room.

I know I could perform a lot better if I actually got some help. Same with triathlon training. I think there are two main reasons I avoid structured training groups. One, I like to exercise alone (or mostly alone). Second, I just don’t care that much. Sure, I want to finish this Tour de Victoria in one piece and be able to walk the next day (or maybe two days later), but I’m not driven to be at the front. I was when I was 16, but not at 39. And I’m actually proud of myself for what I do on my own.

So the plan is that I’ll get one more ride in on Friday and then it’ll be cross-training for a few days. On skates, on the Rideau Canal. Now THAT’S a workout.

117 days to go: baby steps

I got out again today, for an hour. Once again there was a break in the middle (I think I’m a slacker at heart). But it was for a good cause — watching the last period of my goddaughter’s hockey game. I’m not going to say how far I went because it’s embarrassing. Especially when I read some of the tweets today. “Just did 107km of the 140km Tour de Victoria course.” “Was out for three hours today…” Yeah, whatever. I bet they weren’t riding a mountain bike with knobby tires! Speaking of which…a note to (some of) you roadies. Just because I’m on a mountain bike doesn’t me you can’t still at least acknowledge my existence. Believe it or not I’m training for the same ride you are.

Anyway…it was a COLD ride, made colder by my 30 minute stint sitting in a hockey arena. By the time I got home I couldn’t feel the bottom of my feet or my thumbs. But it was still a good ride. There was hardly any traffic, and the sun was out. I may be feeling a bit overwhelmed at the thought of riding 90 km, but I don’t regret signing up and I’m enjoying getting out there.

This week is going to be busy as we prepare to go away, but I’ll try to get one more ride in before we leave. Then it’ll be heads down when we get back.

Now it’s back to my glass of wine and the company of my partner in crime.

120 days to go: my butt is getting tougher

I got out for another ride yesterday, although it was shorter than planned. I had wanted to ride for about 45 minutes, but it ended up only being about 35, with a break in the middle as I tried to figure out the $2 iPhone app I bought to track my distance and route. Doesn’t work so well when the app isn’t finding a GPS signal. Even though the actual GPS on the phone was working fine. Freaking technology. But I digress.

So a break in the middle and then I cut the ride short because I decided at the last minute to stop at a bike shop that is near home. When you have two young kids and a full time job it’s difficult to find time to shop for a new bike, so I’ll take any chance I can get.

If you’re tracking my husband’s progress you’ll see that he went out for almost 2.5 hours today, it wasn’t long enough, and he’s looking for hill repeats. Gulp. I’m still getting my butt toughened up for a bike seat (although that’s coming along well). One of the reasons I signed up for this race was to train for a common goal with Greg, and right now I’m feeling a bit behind in my homework. However, I’m currently riding a mountain bike with knobby tires, so maybe that counts for something.

This weekend I’ll go out for an hour. We are unfortunately away a third of February, in a province that’s covered in snow, so there won’t be any riding while we’re gone. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed at this point, but the days will just get longer and hopefully I can soon get into a routine of riding three times a week. I have to remember that this is supposed to be fun (and healthy), not stress-inducing.

124 days to go: rain or shine

I got out this morning for a 30 minute ride, in the pouring rain. I discovered that the tights I use to run in are awesome for riding in the rain — my legs were warm and toasty. So were my feet, thanks to the neoprene booties that Greg lent me. My upper half was a bit chilly, but I wasn’t out long enough for it to bug me too much.

I winced every time I sat in my seat, but that should go away soon. There were a couple of good hills on the ride, and I tried to push myself a bit. I probably could have gone out for longer, but I’ll just keep increasing slowly.

As for a route, I rode directly to the Goose and turned around just before the Douglas overpass. I love having the Goose to ride on, as I’ve never been 100% comfortable in traffic. One day I’ll figure out how to use my phone so I can actually track my distance.

This week I’m swimming tomorrow night and I’ll plan for two rides.

126 days to go: the bike has moved!

I went out on my mountain bike for about 25 minutes today, with a 15 minute break to stop at a bike shop and look at a couple of bikes. Thought I’d kill two birds with one stone.

My mountain bike needs some work (I can’t shift to my big chain ring, my brakes are rubbing and my seat needs to be tilted forward more) but it was still a nice ride. In the sun.

Next up is a ride on Sunday morning.

129 days to go: bike still hasn’t moved

I haven’t been on my bike yet, but I did swim again on Monday. A friend and I have been trying to swim on Monday nights. We took a bit of a hiatus through Christmas, but we’re back at it. We swam for about 35 minutes and then had a nice soak in the hot tub.

And I had every intention of riding tomorrow morning, but I gave blood this afternoon. Last time I tried exercising the day after giving blood I thought I was having a heart attack. So no go on that one. So instead I’m going to work a few extra hours tomorrow afternoon and hopefully take an hour off on Thursday or Friday to go for a quick ride.

I’m also hoping to get to a bike shop on Friday and start looking for a road bike.

131 days to go: we’ll call it cross-training

I had every intention of getting on my bike this morning. I woke up feeling a bit…um…dehydrated. But I was still game. The plan was to just get out for half an hour on my mountain bike to start getting my butt conditioned for sitting in a saddle again.

When I looked out the window I was happy to see it wasn’t raining. But of course we live in Victoria and five minutes later it was raining. Sideways. Not so good for a bike ride. I thought maybe I could run instead. Then it stopped raining and the sun came out. Then it started raining again. I was just about to get ready when Greg suggested an alternate plan. He asked if I was still going out, and my answer was yes, but that I was still deciding what sport I was doing.

We had been planning to take the kids swimming, so when Greg suggested I head down to the pool a few minutes ahead of him and the kids and get some swimming in, that’s what I did. I swam 750 metres before they arrived, and then we had a great time playing together.

So. Have signed up for a 90 km bike ride and still haven’t been on my bike yet. But I had a good time with my kids. 🙂

My plan for this coming week is to get out twice for half an hour, and also visit a couple of bike shops to start checking out new bikes. At least it’s a start.