And now, to reverse what I said in my last post.

Around these parts, training seems like a bad word. When I mentioned that I was training for the next brevet, a friend remarked, “I hate that word– it sounds like work. Riding is supposed to be fun.”

I do agree that riding is supposed to be fun, and it can be for me, when it’s wandering around the city, leisurely trying out new routes and trails, or riding to fun destinations. But right now, hilly brevets are not fun for me. There is always a point where I’m trying not to cry, and although I’m fine (and ecstatic) at the end of a ride, the day after seems to be a day of reckoning for me where I’ve discovered I’ve physically gone too far and am doing some harm to myself.

When I tell folks how I feel, the answer is always that I need to ride more. I don’t disagree with that– as I’ve discovered through Strava, I ride considerably less than my Bike DC friends, even those who don’t participate in randonneuring. I try to ride when I can, but carving out time is difficult for me, especially now when I’m in school.

Mike W. sent me a thoughtful email with tips on how to train off the bike as well as on. He suggested I work on exercises to strengthen my core and leg muscles. So I’m doing stuff like plank pose and burpees. I’m not exactly enjoying this, but I am already noticing a difference. I feel stronger.

So, I’m training. I’m training to not get beat up by brevets. I’ll be at the next one, and we’ll see how it goes.


For those of you who came to this page looking for information about WABA’s VASA ride, they’ve announced in their newsletter that the ride is scheduled for Sunday, March 17th, and registration will begin on February 1st.

Want to be in the know about bicycling events and advocacy efforts in Washington, DC? Go to WABA’s website and subscribe to their newsletter!

(added 2/1/2013:) Sign up now!

Just Ride: Another Review

By now, if you’re a bicyclist, you’ve read all the reviews you could handle for Grant Petersen‘s book, Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike. In the comments for Lovely Bicycle’s review, Grant himself wrote, and offered to give ten readers of the blog a copy of his book. (He gave away 30, and the offer is now closed.) On a whim I wrote to him and asked for a copy, not really expecting to get one. But right before Christmas, a box appeared on my doorstep, and I received a signed copy of his book.

As Grant writes in his introduction, “you’ll disagree often, but I’m not asking you to buy everything– just to consider everything.” So, in that spirit, here are some points in the book that were new to me and that I spent some time thinking about.
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Lessons Learned on the Populaire 2013

First, the good stuff:

I like the Tricross for riding randonneuring rides. This was my first time riding with the Tricross, and it was generally a good experience. I like being a little more upright, and the 700x28c tires greatly reduced the vibrations from the uneven roads. I definitely like having a triple chainring, although I think my triple on Tricross has higher gear ratios than my Dolce– I’d have to check. I’ll write more about riding the Tricross in another post.

I like my rack bag for carrying things. Also for another post, the rack bag I used seems to hold enough stuff for a ride, including a change of shoes, a jersey, half a sandwich, snacks, and bike stuff. Aside from the rattling of my rear light (which I need to fix), I didn’t even know it was there.

I think I like riding in the winter. I was surprised to discover that I didn’t need my inhaler at all for this ride. No allergies!

Stuff I need to work on:

I desperately need a new saddle and pedals. I’ve decided I don’t like the saddle I’ve been using for the past year for long rides, and I’m done with the half-platform, half-clipless pedals. I need a saddle that doesn’t hurt my butt, and I need to adjust the clips so that my knees don’t hurt. I’m going to swap those out soon.

I need to learn how to eat on the bike. This sounds stupid, but I was annoyed by not being able to easily open the top tube bag to get to my food while riding. I had to take off my glove (which was difficult enough), rip open the bag, and fish out the snack without dropping it or losing control of the bike. Part of the problem with the bag itself is that it’s designed for a right-hander, and I am left-handed. The rest involves me developing the skill to get into the bag itself. I may need a new bag as well.

I am not going to get better with hills without training. This is by far the biggest lesson. This is now my fourth randonneuring ride, and I should know by now that although I may have the capability of handling flat roads, I do not for hills. The only way to get better at hills is to practice riding hills. There is no alternative. I still need to get a heart monitor and find out what’s going on with my heart rate.

Consider doing permanents. At my current level of fitness, there is no way I can do a hilly brevet without feeling sick, and that’s just not fun. This 66-mile populaire pushed me to the limit without breaking me entirely, which makes me think that I should stick to shorter distances for hilly rides. I was thinking of doing more populaires and permanents, and possibly working towards the P-12 award. The only drawback is that I would have to figure out how to do one. (My schedule does not seem to coincide with Crista’s, unfortunately.) If I can get my act together to do one next month, I will.

Got to keep working.