All posts by Penny

About Penny

Wife, mother, teacher, daughter, cyclist, blogger

A Great New Training Ride – Cedaredge

Lush farmlands, adobe hills, and a great views of Grand Mesa and Rocky Mountains made the hills worth it.

Thanks to the  Cedaredge Boy Scouts’ fundraising project we were introduced to a wonderful, new-to-us, area for road cycling.  The 3rd annual Apple Blossom Ride located in Cedaredge, Colorado provides the perfect combination of steep hills, stunning vistas, lush farmland, prolific orchards, bird-filled wetlands,  and very little traffic.

Sno-capped Rocky Mountains in the distance.

There were three ride options easily distinguished by their appropriate names: The 12 mile Applesauce, the 25 mile Apple Core,  and the appropriately named, 50 mile Hard Cider.

The last, steep hill before snacks and beer.

Interestingly enough, most of the riders participated the Hard Cider. My guess is they were using it as a training ride for Ride the Rockies or Bicycle Tour of Colorado, or they wanted to take advantage of the $10 Cedaredge Bucks that many of us used at DB’s Brewery for post-ride rehydration and fellowship

With well-marked routes, good aid stations, a nice spread of food at the end, lovely t-shirts, and the afore-motioned Cedaredge Bucks, the organizers went out of their way to make the ride friendly, fun and safe.

I highly recommend checking it out next year!

Drafting Practice – Riding the Rose Hill Rally

Our group and the 1/2 point – Highline State Park

In preparation for our upcoming 447 mile, one-week Ride the Rockies, we’ve been seeking local opportunities to chalk up  training miles. Recently, we had a lot of fun participating in the Rose Hill Rally, a local 62 mile benefit ride. The ride itself was nice but what really made the day fun was the wind… or, to be more exact, the wind and the group we rode with.

I’ve written about wind before and you know I’m as big a fan of a strong tail wind as the next cyclist. But, what I’m calling “fun” here is an experienced group and a strong head wind.

The leaders of our group,

, is planning a fall cycling trip to Spain. These leaders are very experienced at drafting, probably even had some racing experience in their background. Their experience, coupled with some commanding leadership skills, forced Eric and me to get on the “train” so to speak, and do our fair share as part of the group. Our fair share included leading the train, falling back when another cyclist took the lead, maintaining a pace in the train, and then working ourselves again to the front to share the burden of the wind.

Although I’m not a big fan of group cycling and drafting because I have to concentrate and  can’t enjoy the scenery,  the speed of this recent ride along familiar terrain was thrilling . One of my favorite parts of the drafting experience was when our “train” caught the draft of a tandem group. We felt like we were flying  along the road until a downhill where the tandems took off and we were not able to catch them again.

Encounter with a Rock – The Rock Won

Western Rim Trail

After a great week road cycling in training for Ride the Rockies logging close to 200 miles, Eric and I took advantage of a beautiful, sunny  Monday to cross train with the mountain bikes on the Western Rim Trail near Rabbit Valley.

Feeling strong, confident and probably a little cocky (embarrassing but I am being honest) we started cycling the 4-wheel drive road towards the trailhead. Let than a mile out, I had two options for climbing a short section of the road – a sandy, rutted tire track, or a rock ledge. I’ve been climbing little ledges more and more frequently and this innocent-looking 6-inch ledge appeared to be the perfect place to challenge myself.

The reality is, this ledge stopped my dead in my tracks. But all that forward motion had to go somewhere. In slow motion I flew elegantly over my handlebars, arms out at my sides like a 747 just after take-off. I soared for what seemed like hours until I hard-landed with my right knee taking the brunt of the impact like a jetliner  hitting the runway on one back wheel.

At the time, the most pain I felt was the embarrassment of being on the ground. My knee  a felt little banged but my pride suffered the most damage. I carefully extricated myself, from the bike resting on my hamstring, dusted myself off and hopped back on.

Slick rock on the rim of the trail.

Several miles further down the road I realized my knee was really started to swell, so I used my favorite purple bandana to stabilize my knee and create compression to slow the swelling, and finished the 14 mile ride.

By the end of the day I could barely walk.

I waited several days and I finally got X-rays to confirm what I felt, that it was just a really bad bruise (“contusion” to quote the doctor.)

I’m feeling very thankful that the fall wasn’t worse. My awareness of the numbers of people who have had mountain biking accidents – just this week I’ve seen a broken arm and a broken femur – has  humbled me and made me more cautious.

In the meantime, I’ll be back on the road bike saddle today for some limited training.

 

Training for our Next Adventure – Ride the Rockies

The wind announced the lilacs long before we saw them.

Spring has sprung with bright blue skies, the scent of lilacs in the air, and just-right  temperatures of low to mid 70s. And if that’s not enough motivation to ride, then the winning of the lottery into the 32nd annual Ride the Rockies,  a 7 day, 433 mile with 32,337 feet in elevation is just the motivation we needed to get back on the saddle.

Adding some hills to our training.

Ride the Rockies  will be different for us for several reasons.

1.We won’t be schlepping our own gear on our bikes. And, because there is a 70 pound per person limit per bag, we don’t really have to think much about what we bring. We already know how to live with less than that.

2. This tour will Eric’s first time to cycle in the Rocky Mountains. I’m excited to share the majesty and beauty of my “home” state as well as the thrill of some long downhills, not to mention the challenge of the long uphills (without panniers – mind you.)

3. This distances and elevation will be our most challenging –  7 days of back-to-back, 70-100 mile days with long climbs each day. I have to admit that I’m  a little nervous. We were very comfortable with 50 miles or less per day on our touring bikes with tons of stops for food, pictures, naps, sight-seeing, etc. And, we didn’t have deadlines or defined destinations – if we didn’t want to push on, we didn’t have to. Ride the Rockies will push us to a different sort of limit.

Training officially began last weekend during gale force spring winds.

Saturday’s 65 mile round-trip ride from Fruita to Palisade included head winds, cross winds on the downhills, and one small gift of a tail wind on a steep uphill.

Sunday’s 40 mile ride from Palisade to Whitewater included winds in all directions but also the gift of a Front Range (Denver, Boulder, Colo. Springs, etc.) women’s cycling team who generously invited us to “hop on the train” and gave us the benefit of a draft until we couldn’t keep up any longer.

Happy to be on the bikes again.

By the way, this “supported tour” is a warm-up for our planned self-supported cycle tour of  Yellowstone and Grand Teton in July. Stay tuned…

Bicycle Article Brings Smile on a Cold Winter Morning

This morning, while sitting on my favorite chair,  reading the Sunday paper, sipping my coffee and thinking about bundling up for a day of cross-country skiing,  I came across a short article about the history of cycling.

One paragraph from  Pedaling Through the Bicycle’s 200 Years  by Elizabeth Alice Austin in the January 26, 2017 edition of the Wall Street Journal  reminded me of a time when I was cycling in Eastern Turkey in 2011.

Austin writes, “The idea of women on bicycles enraged certain conservative elements of society. Cycling was said to make women oversexed, ill-behaved or infertile. “Have you ever seen anything more off-putting, uglier, meaner than a wench on a bike?” asked the German magazine Youth in 1897.”

Austin’s paragraph reminded me of a time I was admonished by a father of a colleague of mine in Eastern Turkey. “You will be the first and last women to ride a bicycle in this town,” he said.

I remember wondering if his comments were 1) a threat, 2) a joke,  or 3) translated incorrectly. However, after he made those comments,  I made sure I covered head-to-toe including wearing dark glasses and gloves and always cycled in heavily populated areas.

Several months later,  while sipping a cup of Turkish coffee and sampling fresh Turkish delight at a lovely apartment, a woman in her mid-fifties told me that she watched me ride my bicycle every morning on my way to the school where I taught English.

She said, “That bicycle represents a LOT of freedom.”

Her words propelled me to keep cycling….