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To The Moon & Back: 100 mile pedal

September 14, 2016

 

 

 

 

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When I moved to Utah from California in April, I was super motivated to ride my bike because I had a 70.3 Half Ironman distance triathlon that I was doing in Quebec, Canada, with Tyler that was just 2 months away. What I didn’t realize was that riding my bike would be the number one thing that helped me to adjust to my new surroundings. Before my new colleagues in my new office became colleague slash friends, I would head off and ride the same route over and over again (that I discovered by lightly stalking the majority of the Ogden bike riding population on Strava). It was a 20 mile out and back route that felt “safe” because of the out and backness of it (couldn’t really get lost). I knew that I would need to get some longer rides in because of that 56 mile 70.3 bike thing. After asking around in the office, I met a few people who liked to ride who introduced me to more people who liked to ride that resulted in group rides with the ENVE crew (ENVE Components are owned by the same parent company that I work for – which makes the proportion of co-workers to total Ogden population quite high!).

Fast forward to mid-summer.. the Half Ironman was done but I wanted to keep riding because riding bikes is fun. The only problem was the sweltering heat in Ogden. On the weekends when I was in Utah, my colleague slash friends slash buddies (+ Tyler when he was in town) and I would head off to do longer and more challenging rides at higher elevations to escape the heat. I realized on one of these rides with my friend Dave that if we just kept riding, we would have hit Wyoming. Going all the way to Wyoming and back would have made the ride over 100 miles and at that moment, the idea of doing a century 100 mile bike ride before Winter was born! After googling “best century rides in Utah“, I found a 100-miler in the Unitas that had a nice charity component called “To The Moon and Back”.  The next step was recruiting a crew… good thing I work for a company full of active people who like a good challenge! Soon, there were four of us ready to rock the century. 

I was a bit stressed about the training component as I had back-to-back out of town commitments the 5 weekends leading up to the ride (Work travel to Toronto, Oregon Wine Country half marathon, a wedding in Santa Barbara, work travel to Seattle, my sister’s birthday in San Francisco, and labor day weekend in San Diego). Since I couldn’t get long miles on all but one of those weekends, I was committed to the pre-work/post-work ~35 mile pedal sessions. The rides were on the shorter side but they were intense and they were frequent. Most of my training rides were recorded on my Suunto GPS watch and are documented on my Movescount page. Again, very thankful that I work for a company full of supreme athletes who also have a high sense of FOMO – I rarely rode alone! 

100 MILER WEEKEND

Friday: 

The night before the race, we all drove the 2 hours to Tabiona, Utah, where the race was set to start. We got our campsite all set up just as the sun was setting and temperatures plummeted (6,500 feet in elevation + September made for a chilly night!). For dinner, we cooked up pasta and veggies. My number one fear for the ride wasn’t that my legs weren’t ready, it was that I would run out of fuel (The weekend before -Labor Day Weekend, I was in San Diego and did a 65 mile/6,000 climb ride with Tyler and friends and I didn’t eat enough for breakfast and on the bike and I was a complete waste case by the end!). We also drank a few glasses of wine because we figured the French are really good at cycling (Le Tour de France anyone?) and they MUST drink wine before races. Around 11pm, I headed to bed ready to dream of lycra, snacks, and DZ Nuts

Saturday: 

After a tasty breakfast of Kodiak pancakes and camp coffee (the best!), we were rolling at about 8:30am. Again, the elevation + September weather proved to be a bit chilly and my gloveless hands were frozen for the first 15 miles of the ride. Right before mile 20, I flatted my front tire which has made my total number of flats in Aug & September 2016 more than the total flats in all the other months I’ve been riding bikes combined. After a quick change (and help from Dave!), we were rocking again.

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The ride was insanely gorgeous and I managed my hunger by eating about 200 calories every hour (most bars are 200 calories so I alternated between the new Nut Butter Clif Bars and GoMacro Bars). I kept the gels to a minimum (did one Clif gel & one package of Pro Bar Bolts) because too many of those sugary delights have caused me stomach issues in the past. As we ticked off the 47th mile, we reached our turnaround point at the beautiful moon lake. The race organizers had set up a beautiful spread of snacks and sandwich ingredients. I opted for peanut butter & honey on whole wheat bread. The ride back was very fast minus a flat from another colleague slash friend – we bypassed all of the aid stations and Isaac and Dave took turns pulling. It was amazing how my new ENVE SES 4.5 wheels performed in the drafting situation. Those guys did all the hard work and I am thankful!

When we returned to the start/our campsite, we realized that we had only done 94 miles so Dave and I rode past the finish line and clocked another (painful) 6 miles. It wasn’t until we saw the finish line and then passed the finish line that the pain set in! Proof that a lot of it is so mental. 

When we got to the finish line for the second time, we cracked open a (full-strength, non-Utah regulated) beer and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery. But before I had a sip of said delicious full-strength beer, I downed a Designer Protein Organic Pro 30 protein shake. Yes, I used to work for Designer Protein but they truly make great stuff and after six hours on the bike, I needed that 30g of plant protein + glutamine, electrolytes, BCAAs & probiotics.

In the end, the frequent and shorter (~35 mile) but intense weekday rides over the course of 6 weeks was the perfect way to prep for the 100 mile ride. When you take out the time spent on fixing flats and eating lunch, we averaged about 20 miles per hour throughout the entire ride (again, thanks for the pull Isaac & Dave!) which is a lot faster than I thought I could manage. 

Now it’s time to hang up the bike and get ready for ski season continue riding my bike as I keep the legs strong for the Tour De St. George Gran Fondo on October 22nd. And this time, Tyler is riding too! Who else is in? 

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Action, Bike

Memorial Weekend in Utah

June 1, 2016
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Tyler came out to visit my new Utah home over the long Memorial Day weekend, just in time to enjoy the late Spring beauty. What better way to soak in the sites than for a pedal! On Saturday, Tyler and I rode about 60 miles and climbed close to 5,000 (hard to tell because both of our watches died so tracking was a little iffy). We are just under a month to our 70.3 Half Ironman in Mt. Tremblant and feeling strong on the bike!FullSizeRender-5

Tyler looking handsome in his La Veta kit with the daunting North Ogden divide in the background. 

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My bike looking infinitely cooler with fresh ENVE wheels that I borrowed for the weekend. Snow Basin resort in the background.DCIM101GOPROAlthough he won’t admit it, Tyler is starting to love swimming. Good thing since he’s (almost) faster than me now! Stiener Aquatic Center in Salt Lake is 50M pool that’s only open in the late Spring & Summer and has an insane Wasatch Mountain Range backdrop. 

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Following our Sunday swim, we headed up to Park City for some brews and overall good times! This photo was taken from the rooftop of the No Name Salon, a destination just 4.5 years ago hosted our pre-wedding apres-ski with all of our wedding guests and friends. IMG_1838-1

 

On Monday, our friends (and new Utah residents) Elizabeth and Adam took us for a fun loop around Park City via bike. So. Gorgeous. 

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If you ride with me, chances are I’m going to get you in at least one GoPro shot. Be warned. 

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To top things off, we were even able to stay in the same hotel in Park City that we were married in almost 5 years ago! Cheers to new adventures.

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Action, Bike, San Diego Home, Train, Triathlon

Mt. Laguna Road Bike Ride San Diego

September 2, 2015
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Discovered: Altitude & Trees in San Diego – Mt Laguna

Located 20 miles north of the Mexican border, San Diego is basically a desert by the sea. Many people consider the climate to be near-perfect year round- the average temperature in San Diego country  is 70°F.  There is over 70 miles of coastline in San Diego county. This place is pretty fantastic and I have loved living here for the past four years. That being said, I often feel a deep longing for crisp, mountain air and lush, green trees. I didn’t know this existed in San Diego until this past weekend, when Tyler and I took our bikes (bikes of the road variety this time!) to East County past the town of Alpine and climbed up Mt. Lauguna, the tallest mountain in San Diego county at nearly 6,000 ft. The ride is a moderate 50 miler with a decent amount of climbing right off the bat.

Here’s how you can do it too…

Getting there: It’s about an hour drive from Encinitas in North County, San Diego to the park n ride where you will start the ride. Head East on hwy 8 towards the city of Alpine. A few miles past Alpine, you will approach the intersection of hwy 79 and hwy 8. Exit there and turn left where you will see a park n ride on the left side of the road. Park there and gear up! The other option is to park a little further down the road at Pine Valley.

 

The Route: because we road on a particularly hot day in August, we made sure we were rolling by 7am to beat the heat (which meant a 5am wakeup call!). In addition, we opted to ride counter-clockwise in order to get the majority of the heavy climbing over with early on in the ride.  IMG_6947

Head out from the park n ride on hwy 79. Continue on Old Highway 80 through the quaint town of Pine Valley. Continue along hwy 80 and when you turn away from hwy 8, the road becomes the Sunrise Highway. There awaits a lovely 6% average grade climb to Mt. Laguna! If you see trees, stunning views, and signs warning about ice and snow you’re going the right way! 

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Once you reach Mt. Laguna, you have a long decent, desert views, and occasional gusty winds to look forward to. We stopped at a scenic lookout for a quick break and took in the sights and noticed that the famous PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) hiking trail that runs from Mexico to Canada was right below the observation deck. Cool!

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Sunrise Hwy dead ends into hwy 79. If you go right, you can extend the ride and head up to Julian for apple pies, cider, and other treats! We opted to turn right, back to car to keep our ride at the 50 mile mark. Soon you will pass Cuyamaca Lake and several equestrian trails. Finally, a fun, curvy descent awaits! Soak in the joys of gravity and be safe! Finish the ride with a climb back to the park n ride lot. The whole thing took us 3.5 hours with a short stop built in.

Mt Laguna Ride

Stats: 50.5 miles // 4,933ft elevation // 3:23 moving 

Gear

Watch out! there are parts of the climb that have a very narrow, sometimes non-existent shoulder. If you are riding in the early morning, most of the climb is in the shade (score! but it also makes it hard for cars to see you). Make sure your bike is equipped with forward and rear facing blinky lights.

Have you rode Mt. Laguna? Share your experience in the comments below! 

Bike, Food

The Scents of Post-Workday Cycling

June 16, 2015
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Tyler and I try to squeeze in a ride or two each week after work. One of the most surprising parts about riding at this time, especially in the summer, are all of the scents, especially the food scents! The scent issue is compounded by the fact that I get extremely hungry on bike rides! It’s not too bad at first as we leave our house but we are turn south along the coast from Carlsbad to Encinitas, we pass several oceanfront campsites. I don’t usually have an above-average sense of smell, but I’m telling you, it’s something about the time of the day mixed with the increased hunger from cycling. I can literally smell the difference between Oscar Mayer, Nathan’s, and Kirkland Signature brands os hot dogs. When we finally get past the campsite and into Leucadia, my nose (and growling stomach) have a bit of a break then it’s time to turn around and do it all again. At this point, most people have moved on to dessert and I smell s’mores. Lots and lots of s’mores. Finally, on the home stretch, we have the pleasure of riding past a San Diego institution: Pizza Port. Not only do I smell the delicious Pizza but I smell the hops in the freshly brewed beer! Torture I tell you, simply torture.

The lesson learned here: even if it’s a quick 25 mile post-work ride, bring snacks! I like PROBAR Bolt Organic Energy Chews or Skratch Labs Fruit Drops

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Action, Bike, On the road, Travel

5 Tips For Traveling With A Bike, From A Rookie’s Perspective

May 14, 2015
Monterey Road Bike

Last weekend I flew to Monterey to visit my amazing Mom for Mother’s Day. I hadn’t been back home to the GR831 (my sisters and I call home “GR831″ because of the 831 area code and  because we like to spell “great” the geeky way) since Thanksgiving and I was overdue for a visit. 

I decided to bring my bike because on previous visits, my favorite way to get some exercise was to go for a run in Monterey. I figured that if I had my bike I could cover more ground and really soak in all that the GR831 has to offer. Real talk though.. Monterey County is such a special place. In a single day, you could view some of the richest farmland in the USA, observe the sea otters on the Monterey Peninsula, go for a hike in a redwood tree forest in Santa Cruz, marvel at the wonders of Big Sur, and get a round of golf in at one of the world’s most beautiful golf courses (ok maybe you’d only have time for 9 holes). I love my homeland! 

Back to my experience of traveling with a bike..  Here are my five top takeaways: 

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  1. Flying With a Bike is Crazy Expensive! //There’s an amazingly affordable flight on Alaska airlines from San Diego to Monterey. It’s less than $100 each way which is awesome considering Monterey airport is traditionally extremely expensive to fly into. When I went to check my bike bag, I got slapped with a $75 baggage fee EACH WAY! The ironic thing is that my bike bag weighted 35 lbs, far less than the acceptable 50lb weight limit for a regular suitcase. When you are considering bringing your bike on the plane with you, make sure the ride(s) are worth it! 
  2. Bike -> Bike Bag //Bike bags are awesome. They help you transport your super expensive, light weight bike safely to far away lands. However, to get the bike into the bike bag is quite the task. I had to remove both wheels, handlebars, seat, and pedals before it would fit safely in my bag. Then, when I got to my destination, I had to rebuild it. Here’s my list within a list of bike bag tips (note: there are much more reputable websites that have very specific guides to packing your bike for air travel. consult those!): 
    1. Allow plenty of time to deconstruct bike. It’s not something you want to casually do the morning of a 6am flight. Think of the anxiety dreams
    2. Tools/Supplies: ONLY use a torque wrench. This is so you don’t over or under tighten screws. My Trek bike came with a torque wrench and my friends at the Trek Superstore told me they had seen many a poor fool who came back into the store with a cracked frame because they used something other than a torque wrench. Bubble wrap and foam pipe lagging is also key. You’ll also want to make sure you keep a rag in your bike bag – hands will get greasy. 
    3. Once you get your bike perfectly arranged in your bike bag for the first time, take a picture so you can get there quickly when packing up to leave. 
    4. When you are rebuilding your bike, make sure you instal your pedals correctly. Can you image being so stoked to ride in a new zone only to realize you pedals were on backwards? Drinks on you. 
    5. Speaking of drinks, I was happy that I packed bubble wrap in my bike bag. When visiting places like Monterey, Ca or anywhere for that matter, it is very possible that you may pick up a few bottles of wine (or local fruit preserves/pickled veggies, whatever you’re into) and want to pack them in your bike bag on the way home. You’re paying for that huge bag, might as well load it up with extra weight (Alaska’s weight allowance is 100lbs for bike bags). 
  3. Local Knowledge Rules //I was debating whether to ride on my own or join a group ride and in the end, I did a combo of both and I’m so happy I did. I decided to meet the Monterey Velo Club for their 30 mile Sunday ride and they ended up showing me a route through the Fort Ord and to Castroville that I would have never considered. I wanted to get to 50 miles in so I went off and rode a 20 mile out and back route and got to experience the beauty of the Monterey Peninsula and 17-Mile Drive. Score!
  4. Don’t Forget Your Sunglasses! //I borrowed my Mom’s car (thanks, Mom!) to drive to the bike ride meeting point and when I got there, I realized I forgot my Oakley Radarlock sunnies at the house! I searched my Mom’s car and (thankfully!) found a pair of her sunnies. Not the end of the world but seriously not ideal. My eyes were completely drenched in tears on descents. It felt like that one time I thought it would be cool to ski with sunglasses. The human eye’s ability to water when wind is applied is truly amazing. It is only now, even after six years working in Sports Marketing at Oakley, that I truly understand the true value of Oakley Performance sunglasses! 
  5. Numb fingers and toes aren’t just something that happens when skiing //Layering is key! I guess this could be said for biking in general, but when you’re traveling to a new place where the weather patterns are unfamiliar, bring layers! I didn’t have sleeves, gloves, or bike shoe warmers aka toe covers or overshoes, all of which would have come in handy. After 50 miles on the bike, my toes were just about as numb as a full day in ski boots in freezing temps and I couldn’t feel my fingers. Mind you, we are talking about 55 degrees in foggy Monterey. Really, could be worse!

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Bike, Triathlon

First Road Bike Ride

April 1, 2015
Road bike ride Camp Pendleton

A few weekends ago, Tyler and I embarked on our very first road bike ride. We really dove right in and invited some friends of ours who are pretty experienced cyclists to join us. One of these friends is actually a pro triathlete and a 70.3 Ironman champion! The other two friends are both amazing athletes and experienced cyclists. There was one point before we took off on our ride when Tyler and I looked at each with a mutually understood “what are we getting ourselves into?” glance. We both love a good challenge so off we went!

We headed North from our place in Carlsbad through Oceanside until we reached the main Camp Pendleton (marine base) gate. From there, we made our way to the old US 101 Highway known as the Camp Pendleton Traverse. Most of this road is completely deserted except for the odd lizard or in some cases, helicopter flyovers and tank rumblings. The traverse runs all the way to San Clemente (the southern most town in Orange County) and at certain points, has sweeping ocean views which can be both a blessing and a curse. When discussing the ride later in the day, both Tyler and I recalled certain points during the ride where we both caught a glimpses of the glassy conditions of the ocean and thought, “shouldn’t we be surfing right now?”. In the end, we biked close to 45 miles and we lived! Yew! All in all, we both agreed that the bike purchases were good decisions and we are excited for the several months of training leading up to our 70.3 Half Ironman in Tahoe in September.

Here are my top 7 takeaways from our first road bike adventure:

  1. Prep work indoors pays off: The few weeks of logging hour-long endurance rides at Evovle Fusion in Carlsbad paid off as I felt pretty solid through most of our 45-ish mile ride. I like this studio because they use Keiser M3 indoor cycling bikes which means you can see how many watts you are pushing and what your cadence (RPM) are at any given time so it feels closer to a real ride than a place like Soulcycle. Tyler was pretty much born on a mountain bike so even though he hasn’t spent any time at spin class or on a road bike, I knew he’d crush the ride (he did!).
  2. No need for undies when wearing cycling shorts: When we were about to embark on our journey, our friend and pro triathlete Jenny Fletcher must have noticed my not-so-concealed underwear line. She kindly explained that wearing underwear with cycling shorts isn’t advised due to chafing dangers. Close call on this one but crisis averted!
  3. Chamois cream is a thing: after Jenny informed me of the no-underware rule, she informed me of a product known as “chamois cream” – highly advised.
  4. Invest in a proper seat: Who knew a bike seat (excuse me, “saddle”) could be so specific… they come in women’s varieties, men’s, triathlon, etc etc. All I know is that YES, I love my bike but NO I don’t love the seat it came with. So far, the three biggest takeaways take-aways involve the bike seat region. Odd sport this road biking…
  5. Insulated water bottles: Maybe the key take-away here is that lots of water is needed. We only brought one bottle each and my bike wasn’t equipped with a water bottle cage yet so I rocked my water bottle in the back of my shirt. Needless to say, after 40+ miles on the bike (roughly 3 hours) we were parched! Also, when a water bottle sits on your bike in direct sunlight for several hours, the contents of the bottle tend to get toasty. Cue the insulated water bottle!
  6. Snacks: On this maiden bicycle voyage, we failed to bring snacks. We also failed to eat a large enough breakfast. This was an error! At about 30 miles my brain wasn’t screaming “shut up legs” as it was more-so screaming “shut up stomach!”. The first thing I did upon arrival back to our home was blend together a heap of frozen fruits and veggies with a generous scoop of Designer Whey! Refreshing recovery.
  7. Biking + Photos + Military Base = Trouble: As we were waiting in line behind a few cars at the main gate to Camp Pendleton, I pulled out my phone and snapped a quick photo of Tyler and I. The entire picture taking process couldn’t have been more than 5 seconds but it must have been enough for a marine to catch me! He promptly walked up to me and told me that photos on the military base are strictly forbidden and that I could get a ticket for “driving” and using my cell phone. Lesson learned! The snapchats will have to wait for now! GoPros are OK though!

And that sums up my first experience on a bike ride. Only 6 more months of training to go until the 70.3!