Sunday, February 20, 2011

Spring Preview

So, we live on Cape Ann, about 40 miles north of Boston. You can google it if you want, I'm having image issues. You see Cape Cod jutting way out in the ocean, and then the little tiny nub of Cape Ann on the North Shore. It's hardly fair to classify it in the same category as Cape Cod, but there you have it. Technically Gloucester is an island, that it shares with the tiny, artsy, touristy town of Rockport. They are separated from the rest of Cape Ann by the Annisquam River, and you have to drive over one of two bridges to get to it. I'm only going into all of this because I got to ride outside this week because it was so nice and sunny and warm(ish) and I did one of my favorite road rides around here. This involves riding around the island. Here. I've illustrated my ride on a map for you.
Now, technically we live in West Gloucester, so we're not on the island. That's why my loop has a little tail. Anyway, it's a gorgeous ride with lots of ocean views, so I tried to take lots of pictures so when it gets nasty out again (tomorrow) I can remember what the sunshine was like.

See? When it's sunny out there are shadows. Much like the eponymous ground hog it can be rather startling to see it after two months of nothing.

I'm joking of course.
Fishing boat in Rockport.

Harbor in Rockport. Lobsta traps on the left there.

The ocean, cruising through East Gloucester.

Okay, I guess that's all I got. Today it's cold and windy out and I want to go ride outside because it's also sunny, but it's just so flipping cold. Maybe trainer, maybe I'll just suck it up and go freeze.

I found out the other day that there is some good mountain biking down on Cape Cod, and it's generally about 10 degrees warmer there than here and they don't get as much snow, so the trails are supposed to be open right now! So I'm planning a trip (it's only 1.5 hrs or so) down there to find some singletrack. Yes.

Just need to keep telling myself that it's almost March, and spring will get here soon enough.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Finally, a ride.

Iceburgs, at low tide.
Sunshine! And horsies! There's a lot of horse-money around here.
And still, a lot of snow.

Yes, the weather was slightly less cold yesterday, and I didn't have to work. After a morning of being immensely lazy I finally kitted up and went for a long ride. I had on minimal layers, and only one pair of gloves. I stopped at the bike shop and ordered a new pump (not having a useable floor pump is exceedingly inconvenient) and drank a cappuccino. It was excellent. I got convinced to go do a road race in March ("you can just sit in!" "well, all right, if it's not raining"). Today's supposed to be even a couple of degrees warmer than yesterday, too. And Friday's supposed to be in the 50's, unfortunately I have to be inside pretty much all day. And then it's going to get all hella cold again. But it's nice to have this little taste of not-hella-cold, and get in a few solid days on the bike, outside.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Getting Started

Finally, those NEBRA/NEMBA people got the race calendars up! I guess there's no hurry when things don't get going until April, but I'm a compulsive planner, so I was chomping at the bit to start planning. There you have it! My 2011 Road/MTB season plan. It's only 15 races, between road and mountain, one stage race, and a two-day double century that I may or may not do. I'd have to raise $2500 to do it, which I don't think is too hard once you start asking around, but there's also a World Cup in Windham, NY that weekend that I'd really like to go watch. So we'll see. Maybe I'll just do the one day century for which I'd only have to raise $150. I dunno, gotta think it through. Plus, it's on my birthday, so maybe I'll just sit on the beach and drink margaritas. But I'd really like to do the double.

Anyway, having a light summer of racing will be good for doing a heavy fall of cyclocross. The team I raced for (in all 5 of the CX races I did this fall . . . ) might be getting some sponsorship to try to go to all the USGPs, plus I'd really like to go to Nats in Madison, since it's a lot closer than Bend. Probably really freaking cold, too.

What else? Oh yes. I woke up this morning to a house full of smoke because Cody had put some wet logs ON TOP of the wood stove to dry out, then went to work. The logs then caught on fire. Yeah. No worries, I tossed the logs into the wood stove before they could catch the walls on fire. Yay. Anyway, the house is now wicked smokey, despite shivering with the windows open for an hour.

And . . . Cody starts his job on Monday! Which everyone knows by now, but I'm super psyched so I thought it deserved another mention. And I'm applying for MassHealth today - that's right, a public option subsidized healthcare plan. I'm totally happy to pay taxes to help support that, even if I had health insurance through my work, which I don't, since I'm part time. Anywho.

I feel like all these posts sans pictures are pretty boring. I mean, words? Who's interested in that? But I've been remiss in taking photos lately, so I'll have to find something random and fun to put in for entertainment effect.

Okay, well, turns out I have nothing random and fun, so here's what you get.

This is the creek behind our house barn. It's tidal, so salt water, and sometimes it's just a big mud flat during low tide. People, mostly crusty old guys, dig clams out of it. Right now it's covered in big floating chunks of ice. This is a picture of one of Cody's brothers jumping into it in January of last year, when it was not covered in ice, but was still pretty freaking cold. Anyway, it's great in the summer. I really want it to be summer.

And this is the barn. This picture's a couple years old, and it's had some repairs done to it since then. The Cedar Rock Farm sign is new and is actually cedar, and the door to the right was torn down and a wall put up, because the door didn't open. We live above the lower part - you can kind of see the doors-to-nowhere in this picture. The doors were replaced when we moved in, too.

Anyway, I got to sit in on a training session with Lyne Bessette yesterday. She and her husband Tim Johnson live nearby, and they train with this guy who's the head trainer at MAC, where I work. It was super informative, because he told me stuff like, "now, with Lyne I can get away with this, because she's an athlete, but for most people you need to start a little slower." And he had to do some modifications because she has a bum shoulder, probably from something like this:

I got out for a ride outside the other day. Just one hour, but it really felt nice to ride outside. Otherwise, lots of running, lots of cross training. I've been training a lot with TRX, which is way fun and I totally recommend. My hamstrings and upper body are totally feeling the effects right now. Anyway, not sure it will make me a better bike racer, but it never hurts to be stronger.

Okay, must do something productive with my day . . .

Monday, February 7, 2011

Putting it together

I always think of these things I want to write about but draw a total blank when I sit down to the computer. It's like going to the grocery store sans list - all you needed was a half gallon of milk but you come home with everything but. In the case of the blog it's more like I think of these great, meaningful (to me, anyway) things worth sharing and sit down and just bitch about the weather and talk about how maybe some day I'll get to race my bike again. It probably makes it sound like I regret moving here and I hate it, but that's not the case at all.

I'm actually . . . happy. It's impossible to overstate the effect having a job I love has on my state of mind, and is, if I were to draw a metaphor, the border of the puzzle. I can't start putting together the picture until I have the border in place to support my other endeavors, both financially and emotionally. And as almost anyone who would read this knows, it takes huge financial and emotional support to race bikes seriously.

On the employment front, too, it's looking like Cody has a great new job, too! Working as a field hydrogeologist for an environmental consulting firm in Boston. That's just what he wanted - field work, no report writing or desk time. The thought of us both having good jobs that we like at the same time is almost unfathomably radical.

The other pieces are falling into place, too. I have a partner who totally supports my endeavors, and a family who continues to support them from afar. We have a great network of friends here who, though none want to go ride road bikes with me when it's below 70 degrees out, make for some great company. We finally have our house set up to have some pretty basic amenities that it heretofore lacked, such as running water when it's freezing out (the hose that had formerly run from the main house to the barn freezes solid in the winter, as you can imagine) and a toilet. If you've ever had the chance to live without running water in your house or plumbing you'll understand what a relief it is to not have to run outside to pee in the middle of the cold dark night. It makes you appreciate how totally freaking awesome it is that we live in an era and a country where we have running water, and how precious it is. I tend to go off on people who I think are wasting water, and maybe you can understand why.


But what about the brutal winter weather, you ask? It is tough. I love riding my bike more than almost anything, and it's tough to be unable to do so. Sure I could ride the trainer, but I always thought of the trainer as only acceptable for maintaining fitness. I'm not going to try to build base on it. No freaking way. If that means I don't have good fitness until June, well, that's just fine. I'm also lucky because I like to do lots of things that don't involve 2 wheels. I'll always come back to the bike, but if I'm running a lot in the winter, maybe getting in a couple days XC skiing or snowboarding, lifting the weights that I didn't lift in the fall when I usually do, doing push-ups on a freezing beach on Superbowl Sunday while dog walkers give me a wide berth because I'm obviously insane, well, that's OK too. If I end up not racing as much road, which I love more than chocolate (for reals, and I love chocolate a lot), and racing a ton of cyclocross, maybe a MTB race here and there, maybe a 10 K run, maybe (oh dear god) a triathlon, I think that's a fine compromise for having everything else in life otherwise pretty well sorted. I get all antsy seeing how everyone's racing out west, but my time will come, I just need a bit of patience.


I haven't ridden outside since I got back from Reno. I know, that's way too long. I've been running lots, and lifting weights, and doing some spinning, but no riding outside. I've gone snowboarding twice, once in the backcountry up in New Hampshire, and once at a little tiny hill called Nashoba that makes Boreal look like Squaw. Yesterday I ran down to Wingaersheek beach, about 5 miles, and did a boot camp workout in the wet sand - it was just above freezing out. I waited until the tide had started to go out so I could find some beach free of snow. Yeah.
That was hard, and now my hamstrings and shoulders are cursing me for doing so many lunges and pushups. But at least I got outside!

But today! Today I am going to ride outside. Our 1/4 mile long driveway is an ice skating rink, so I'm not quite sure how I'm going to get to the end of it. It's supposed to snow again tomorrow, but TODAY I'm riding outside. About time.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Talk about the weather . . .

Talking about the weather is so mundane for so many people, but when your whole life revolves around being outside it becomes a very real topic of conversation that is difficult to exhaust. Which is why I'm writing about the snow. Oh the snow. More snow. Check it out.

It just doesn't seem fair, you know? 20 more inches of snow? Really? As it is we can't ride outside because the snow berms scarcely allow two cars to pass side by side. I know, everyone is sick of me complaining about the weather, "just move back west!" and all that. But to be fair, this is a really unusual year for snow, and if it was like this in Reno I'd bitch about that too. Don't go! I'm done talking about the weather . . . for now.

Anyway, what with everyone racing out West I'm starting to really want to go race my bike. Too bad, I guess, since that's still a few months off. But I'll find a way to cope, and it'll be here before I know it. I hope.

Oh hey! I'm blogging from home! We got internet that works . . . kinda. We had to get a mobile hotspot dealy-oh, and it only works in one spot in the house, but hey, it works! 5 GB data stream limit, so no streaming video (except for the odd You Tube video of cats playing pattycake) but hey, I'll take it! I've already frittered away an hour of my morning here. Excellent.

Okay, I guess I should go shovel, or bring in firewood, or something. I had planned on writing about new goals and stuff but I wasted my blogging energy by complaining about the snow, so next time.