Category Archives: Bike

Posts about bikes and bike related topics.

Strider bike world championships 2017

My Kid Raced World’s — Strider Bike World Championships 2017

My 4-year-old just raced in the Strider Bike World Championship.

Everyone always thinks that my husband and I are going to push our kids because we’re athletes. Honestly, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact last year, when the Strider Bike World Cup came to Salt Lake, we signed her up for fun, and she finished dead last. I think. I really don’t know, but it was super fun and she loved her purple jersey. If you don’t know about the Strider bike, they are no-pedal balance bikes that have replaced training wheels as a first bike. Click here for more info.

strider bike world championships 2017

Pre-race snack time in the race wagon

Since her debut, she has raced bikes exactly zero times, but she has gotten much smoother at her run-run-run-coast. She’s no longer dismounting for cracks in the sidewalk, so that’s impressive.

At some point I always feel like I failed her a little. Some of her local peers have already pedaled into year four and left the Strider behind. I haven’t taken her to the pump track (I am going to). But she loves riding her little green bike, and when she doesn’t, we do something else. At first, she didn’t want to ride it at all. I said nothing. Over time she has really picked it up, and now it’s usually her first transportation choice.

strider bike world championships 2017

Under the rainbow, heading for the finish

When Strider announced they would be holding the World Championships in Salt Lake—and that there was no qualification—we figured, “hey, why not!”

Serious Strider Bike Racing

This year’s event was serious. There was no day-of registration. Packet pickup was the night before, and there was…bike inspection. Ten years racing on the road, cyclocross, and mountain, and the only place I ever had a bike inspection was racing a crit in Canada.

strider bike world championships 2017

Serious business at the start line

We scored a nice one-hour street spot in downtown Salt Lake on Friday and I lugged both kids, two Striders and a wagon over to check-in. I was a little nervous—after all, we accidentally smashed her bike last week and I spent nap time on Thursday moving her old parts to a new frame. Once a dirt bag bike racer, always a dirt bag bike racer—it’s easier to sell new parts. Much like IKEA, the whole thing requires a 10mm crescent and a 5mm allen wrench, aka the two tools you could always find in my shop apron in the 90’s. I just hoped I had tightened it all down just right.

It turns out the inspection was more about making sure the bikes were Striders and not modified beyond the rules. Yup, you should have seen some of these bikes. I think I saw the winner of the 5-year-old class had deep dish carbon rims—I’m not joking. Strider makes aluminum stock frames, and with that there are numerous nice parts you can use. The bikes come with solid rubber tires, and I’m sure the upgraded pneumatic rubber takes corners better. But alas, we’re just getting to the point of coasting, so we’re good.

Race Day

We rolled up on race day with a decent breakfast in her belly. For her. As in, when she attempted to eat an actual cup of sugar I didn’t let her. I am in no way exaggerating this—it happened. She was very excited that this year’s jersey colors included pink, and that there was a fountain nearby she could jump in after the race.

strider bike world championships 2017

They’re off! It was a clean race

Over 400 toddlers and preschoolers, ages 2-5, race a heat and a main event depending on their heat finish. Now I’ve been around to some bike races, and I even did a handful of road and cyclocross World Cups. The Strider toddler races are easily some of the best-run events I have ever seen. Last year was good, this year was unreal. The heats were listed on a big LCD screen. Within minutes of each heat, they had results and seeds set up for the main races. Miss M. rode across the finish line and back to the start, where they had her next race seed set up.

Before her start, she rode a couple of parade laps. There was a pretty big downhill ramp on the course that she initially didn’t ride, but after another lap she figured it out. Those are the times I am most proud—not at the finish or about results, but seeing her take a calculated risk after assessing the situation.

strider bike world championships 2017

Lined up for the D Main, game face on

When she lined up for her first race, she was pretty enamored with the helmet on the kid next to her. It had owls on it. She also made some polite start line conversation. “Your bike is blue. Mine’s green,” and, “I’m 4, how old are you?” But when they said go, it actually looked like bike racing—albeit a little slower and with more smiles. The serious contenders were off in seconds, but the rest were running their little legs off too.

As professional as it was, every Strider representative I came across was all about fun. The starter gave high-fives and knucks down the row every race. The announcer managed to pronounce every name—all 400+ kids, many from Utah—as they came through the final stretch. In our case, he even included her nickname.

Strider Bike Racing

After the first heats, every 1st place finisher moves to the A Main event. Those are the kids racing for the overall championship. They run a main for each placing, and M made the D main this year. That means she finished in about the top half of 100 4-year-olds. For us, that’s a win. After all, last year she was just about last. Both years though, she was smiling, because in a bike race it isn’t “winner” and “loser” because there aren’t just two teams.

strider bike world championships 2017

Between race hot laps of the park, game face still on

The course is part grass, part pavement, with some obstacles like ramps, grates, tunnels, etc. Nothing super scary. We didn’t sign up our 2-year-old because blades of grass or sprinklers sidetrack him. It turns out the same goes for half the kids. While the winner of that race could probably have given the 4-year-olds a run for their money, there were many who had to be gently redirected back to the course by one of the many Strider race crew on course.

International Competition

The competition was fierce, and most of it came from Japan, where Strider racing is huge. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when discussing an international competition among at least twelve countries that includes the two to five age group is, “gross.” At least that’s what I say about most kids’ athletics.

Believe me when I say that aside from reminding M how the start goes, we don’t “train” or “practice”. It’s clearly a very serious activity in Japan, and the matching jerseys, tricked out bikes, and utter speed of these kids was nothing short of amazing. But kids are kids. I watched the eventual third-place boy hit the deck so hard warming up…full superman. He got up and was crying, and there was his mom, with a tissue and a hug. Like most 4-year-olds, he was off again in two minutes.

The atmosphere around the Strider bike races covers the entire spectrum—from international super stars of the sport to kids having a blast on two wheels. Strider makes larger bikes for kids with special needs who don’t move to pedal bikes right at five, and they have a race for those kids too. It’s inclusive, it’s positive, and it’s fun.

strider bike world championships 2017

Trophies only went to the top three, but everyone got a medal

Miss M made her way around the course in about the middle of the pack. She didn’t fall, need redirection, or chop anyone. When you think about it, for most bike racers, that’s considered a pretty good day. She had a cheering section of three grandparents, two awesome friends and their baby, Mom, Dad, and little brother. And when it was all over, after a quick bite of a PB and J, she got to ride right through that fountain, little green Strider, pink jersey, and all.

 

 

 

 

 

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Last year I drew a sketch of my ideal baselayer and sent it to Jane at C2 by Janeware. It wasn’t rocket science; just a solid piece of clothing to wear next-to-skin that is cut with raglan sleeves and enough shoulder room to move. When an online coupon popped up on my Facebook feed for C2, and such a baselayer had become reality, I decided to give it a try. It’s made from the new Polartec™ Power Wool fabric and cut for moving freely. I could think of no better way to test it than to run it through a typical weekend as a mom/athlete and all the fun that goes with that.

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When we finished it was a balmy 16F and I was still dry.

The Fit. I have been blowing out the shoulders and underarms of most of my baselayers lately. It might be because I have recently put on some shoulder and arm muscle. I’m by no means huge, but until recently I have been suffering from the t-rex syndrome of having spent years on a road bike. The C2 top in small fits me with a nice amount of shoulder rotation and no binding. At 5’2” and about 115, I tend to hover between XS and S, but in this case I opted for the larger.

The Fabric. It’s very light, smooth on the outside and just barely brushed fuzzy on the inside. Very soft against the skin as well as sliding easily against an outer layer. It sounds silly, but if you know what I’m talking about then this is important to you too. See more about Polartec ‘s new fabric here.

Day 1. I went for a nice long skate ski. I wore this and my lightweight Nordic ski jacket. I think it was 20F. That’s just about the least clothing I have ever worn for a day like that and I stayed comfortable.

When I was done, I was pleasantly dry, which served me well on a grocery store run. I then had to continue to wear the shirt while I wrangled children and prepared food. I finally took it off to shower and go to sleep.

Day 2. I hadn’t done my laundry (surprise), but I grabbed the Half-Zip and noticed it didn’t smell. That was easy. The temperature that morning was a balmy 8°F and we took advantage of the cold snow for a classic ski. It was the kind of cold that freezes headphone cords and I boldly wore the zip-top with just my light jacket again. Luckily it wasn’t windy.

Nothing tests the arm mobility of a garment like classic skiing, and I didn’t feel the least bit bound by the cut. Once again I was warm enough and more importantly, dry. There were a few errands and some more wrangling, cooking, assorted spitting up, and other mom activities, culminating (finally) in a shower. After two days, the shirt probably needs to go in the laundry since many fabrics lose a little loft (aka warmth) when dirty. It does not yet stand and walk on its own. It does repel baby spit-up.

Uses. I wore this next-to-skin with a thin windproof outer-layer for a highly active aerobic activity in really cold temperatures. If I were going alpine skiing I would likely throw a middle insulating layer over it. In the shoulder season it would pair well with a wind vest for cycling or trail runs. When it’s too damned hot for that, I see that they are making one with short sleeves.

Really, the only problem I have with this shirt is that I only have one. For now. At $79 MSRP it competes for a price point with Patagonia’s famous baselayers and sits somewhere in the middle of their line as far as warmth/weight. It is 100% US product; the fabric is woven here, the designs are drawn up here, and the garments are sewn here. And before I hear about equality, there are actually two models for men; the wool blend as well as an all synthetic. Jonathan, a slim 5’8” and under 150, loves his size M synthetic model just as much.

But it’s just an undershirt. Yup, it is. And if it’s cold out and you move, that’s a pretty important job. You can order one here, and they ship cheaply and quickly via USPS. The tights are amazing too, but I wrote about that already here.

Stuff I Like – C2 by Janeware

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Stuff I Like (That was sent to me, but then I ordered more)

C2 by Janeware

There is a sea of outdoor products bombarding our line of sight daily. From web ads to specially targeted emails, resellers like REI, Backcountry.com, EMS and the like are promoting the usual brands. If you have seen my closets you know that I am a performance sportswear hoarder. There is a family of black fleecy octopuses living in anonymity, pulled at and untangled for my various events and expeditions.

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Fifteen years old and still like new.

Among the tentacles is a 15-year-old pair of super-stretchy Polartec fuzzy tights I was given while riding cyclocross for Independent Fabrication. They were hand made with love by one of the owner/employees named Jane Hayes. She called them, simply, “Janeware”. Over the years they have moved with me, both on my legs and in boxes, and have kept me warm in a tight hug while Nordic and Alpine skiing, running, ski touring, camping; you get the idea. When I quit cycling I swore off riding in “that kind of weather”, but the tights went on.

Recently, Jane contacted me and subsequently sent some new versions of those fleecy togs for me to try. Now dubbed “C2 by Janeware”, and including clothes for men as well, these simple, mostly black, flat-locked fleeces haven’t changed much. Among the other players made from wool and polypro, they stack up weight-wise; feather light.

Sunny, but colder than a...well not really because I was wearing the Undertop and Crop Performance Tight.

Sunny, but colder than a…well not really because I was wearing the Undertop and Crop Performance Tight.

They are thicker than most underlayers because they are fleece, but most of C2’s products are designed to be worn as stand-alone garments. For cold weather cycling, trail running and Nordic skiing that’s all you’d want, but for some of the colder or wetter activities you might cover them up. That’s where I live; most of what I do is really cold, and I tend to run cold also.

There were four key players in the box for me as well as a pair of tights for my husband to try out. He is my partner in crime, a former bike racer as well, and runs equally cold outdoors.

The box showed up on a Friday and we immediately kitted up and rolled out Saturday morning in single digit temperatures for an early season session of suffering our downhills to get some ups.

Performance Crop; ski boot bulk problem solved, for good!

Performance Crop; ski boot bulk problem solved, for good!

Jonathan wore his performance tight, and I wore the performance crop. Right at the trailhead, Jonathan made a comment that would prove out; “Some tights keep you ‘not cold’. These actually make your legs warm.” And that was true. As sunny as it was, it was frigid. And we were not.

Right away I knew the Crop was my new ski tight for anything alpine. Among the octopuses, amazingly, there are so few ¾ length tights that I end up scrunching up long underwear. It bothers my knees and stretches out the ankles.

Problem solved! These are warm enough for me to wear lift-skiing under just a shell and they fit neatly over my calves and above the top of my alpine boots. I also sweat quite a bit while skinning uphill, and these wick incredibly so they don’t freeze on the downhill. I can’t believe more companies don’t make a solution to the problem that every alpine skier encounters each time they suit up. I came home and ordered Jonathan a pair of Crops immediately.

The Undertop (Photo courtesy of C2 by Janeware).

The Undertop (Photo courtesy of C2 by Janeware).

While I knew the crop would play well from the time I got dressed, the biggest surprise piece was the Undertop. I tend to buy cheap sports bras from Target most of the time. Not to give TMI, but I am very small except when I’m pregnant, and right now most of the sports tops I have are tight in the sides. I went ahead and wore this next-to-skin. C2 makes sports bras too, so I was using it a bit off-label, but I got away with it. My core was warm, no chafing under my arms, and most noticeable was that I wasn’t sweating and paying for it with a freezing downhill. I now refer to this top as “the piece of clothing I never knew I needed so much.” When one more shirt is too many, this is the answer. Much like the crop, it’s a piece of clothing not made by many manufacturers and I’m not sure why; it also comes in a men’s design. Cyclists wear sleeveless base layers all summer, but winter sport athletes may not. This takes care of that. It’s also great for Nordic skiing; in racing the bib provides an extra layer, but in training the Undertop gives that same core warmth while your arms move freely.

Performance Tight (Photo courtesy of C2 by Janeware).

Performance Tight (Photo courtesy of C2 by Janeware).

The Performance Tight got its real test in the first 15k Nordic race of the year. At over five months pregnant, they are stretchy enough to fit me. I wore them under my suit, which is pretty thin and mostly for show. More than once I have frozen in races because the biggest muscles (those old cycling quads) can’t take being so cold. Nordic skiers are special; they are practically naked half the time. I can’t hack it, so I just dress for my own climate. The tight is a one-sided fleece, which makes it easy to slide a tight ski suit over it; trust me, that’s a thing. Ski suits are skin tight.

There's Janeware under there!

There’s Janeware under there!

I had a great time skiing and not thinking about the wind picking up or sideways snow that intermittently graced us during three laps of a golf course in Park City.

Last, but not least, the Extreme Tight, which I am wearing right now as I type. That’s not to say it isn’t good for other things, it’s just that…it’s cold in my house and I live in these tights. I wear them instead of leggings under skirts because they feel a little more “finished”. They work really well under light ski pants for training on my Nordic skis because the ankle zips allow for boot adjustments on the fly. The upper is the 4-way stretch Polartec 2-sided fleece, and the ankles are fleece-lined and smooth on the outside with unobtrusive 8-inch zippers on the outer ankle. In the likely situation that my Crops are finally too dirty to wear, I could easily make use of the ankle zip to turn them up and alpine ski in them without the bunching that drives me crazy in other products.

Extreme Tight

Extreme Tight (Photo courtesy of C2 by Janware).

Four-way stretch paired with form-fitted ankles is extremely utilitarian for cycling; the area around the lower leg is not going to catch on any bike parts, the zippers allow for easy dressing, and the super-stretchy knees move freely so there is absolutely no binding like some cycling tights.

All C2 products are made of Polartec brand fleece. If you think that doesn’t matter, go to a fabric shop and touch some other fleece. There is no comparison, and many other outdoor companies skimp as well. Malden Mills Polartec is the Kleenex and Xerox of fleece for a reason; it’s simply the very best.

Flatlock stitching for next-to-skin comfort without any extra bulk.

Flatlock stitching for next-to-skin comfort without any extra bulk.

Just like the fleece of which they are made, all C2 products are sewn in Boston. Every garment is flat-lock stitched so the seams are iron-strong with minimal bulk. While some products used for rain and wind are glued now, fleece can really only be sewn, and this is the best way to sew it.

The sizing is as you would expect industry-wide. At 5’2” and a semi-muscular build, I hover between a XS and S, but am super happy to have the smalls right now. Jonathan is a lean-muscled 5’7” and comfortably wears a Medium.

C2 tights are designed as stand-alone garments. When it's a little warmer out, that's how I use them!

C2 tights are designed as stand-alone garments. When it’s warmer out, that’s how I use them! Baby bump well covered by the wide waistband.

Remember that C2 is designed to be worn as a stand-alone garment in most cases. For that reason, and because they are fleece, they are slightly thicker than an underlayer. They are, however, just as light weight-wise. Fleece has loft and loft = warmth (think down). I have been using them in a climate and for activities that dictate wearing them under something else, and they have performed spectacularly in that realm. They go through the wash and sometimes the dryer; I like to air dry most of my sports apparel because it takes no time and humidifies the house. These dry very quickly on and off your body.

Another pair, not as old, blown out. Gussets are important. C2 has gussets, these did not.

Another pair, not as old, blown out. Gussets are important. C2 has gussets, these did not.

Probably the best way to judge their longevity is to consider my 15-year-old pair. They pretty much look like the new ones to this day. Many other tights have come and gone, worn and ripped, or become permanently smelly. These have not. Attention to detail in things like gussets and the shaping of the patterns is obvious; these are made for athletes, by athletes.

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These are original Janewares, circa somewhere around 1999-ish. As good today as the new ones!

Bottom line: for about the same cash layout as a made-somewhere-else pair of something else you can have a warm, stretchy hug that will last forever (or at least fifteen years) that are made in America. That should reduce the size of the black octopus in your closet – unless maybe you fold your clothes between adventures!

 

Training While Pregnant

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We’ve all heard about the lady who ran the Boston and then went to the hospital and had a baby. I didn’t do that… So let me get all opportunities for hate mail squared away right off the top. I trained within a new set of limits while pregnant, but I did not compete. I am also neither a doctor, nor a certified personal trainer, nor do I have any official background on the subject.  My qualifications are: I was pregnant and I had over 20 years of experience as a self-coached elite endurance athlete and knowledge of my own heart rate zones and patterns.

Hiking "Suicide Chute" in June at 16 weeks.

Hiking “Suicide Chute” in June at 16 weeks.

I became “with child” immediately when the competitive season ended. I was at the highest level of fitness I had been since retiring from full-time bike racing, and perhaps even higher as my heart rates were showing. This was my starting point.

First off, no doctor will ever publicly give an opinion about this because I’m sure someone would do something stupid and sue. My doctor said some things to me, most of them encouraging, but as a very experienced and trained athlete many of the pieces of advice he gave me that he thought were in agreement were very contradictory.

Beautiful trail ride in Grand Junction AKA Fruita. A little puffy.

Beautiful trail ride in Grand Junction AKA Fruita. A little puffy, about four months along.

“Keep your heart rate under 140.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said that in 1985 and has since dropped it for a more reasonable (and less concrete) undetermined maximum depending on the person.  Numerous sites and sources hang on to this number for dear life and it might have driven me insane if I hadn’t researched it more. A max of 140 for me would have meant I could not have done this:

“Make sure you get some aerobic exercise, but keep it aerobic.” As in, it has to be a little bit more than 140 bpm in someone with a max of 190 and an aerobic threshold of 160 to actually do any good. The recommendation for pregnant women who have never exercised a day in their life is to start an exercise program. For me, 140 beats would not have qualified as exercise.  I hit 140 getting off the couch to go get a drink. If that’s a problem, it’s not related to being pregnant.

Along with the advice to keep it under 140, I also heard, “heart rates and heart rate monitors don’t work when you’re pregnant because your heart is going to behave differently.”  Ok, now how am I supposed to keep it under 140 if 140 isn’t 140 and my monitor isn’t really going to work?

Downclimbing a rock section. It looks steeper than it is.

Downclimbing a rock section on Suicide. It looks steeper than it is.

Finally, “ride your bike for 3 or 4 hours if you want, just keep it aerobic.” I guess he gave me the benefit of the doubt on knowing about hydration, nutrition and heat since I was riding in the high desert in the middle of summer.

And so I googled. And googled. And did some more googling. But I didn’t Bing, for the record.  And what I found were individual accounts by elite athletes like Dara Torres, who trained at swimming throughout her pregnancy and breastfed her baby in the locker room at the Olympic Trials.  There were a few others.  I won’t claim to be an Olympic caliber athlete, but at one time I almost was, and at the time I became pregnant I was in some of the best shape of my life. I was competing and keeping plenty of data on my performance and heart rates.  I would put myself closer to the top end than the majority of pregnant women.

There is almost no good source of information for the high-level athlete who is pregnant. In all fairness, it is unethical to study this truly scientifically; it has to be voluntary and self-reporting. And if the internet has taught us anything, self-reporting isn’t always very accurate.  After all the searching and plenty of unsolicited crappy advice from acquaintances who are not doctors, I pretty much had to go by a few decent rules that are universally agreed upon:

1. Do activities you are conditioned for already. If you’re not a cliff jumper, don’t start now.

2. If you can still talk in sentences, you’re not going too hard. That’s the RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) method for “keeping it aerobic”.  Due to the fact that I don’t want hate mail, I won’t share what my “talk test” heart rate is, but I’ll give you a hint: it isn’t 140.

3. If there are warning signs (there is a list) stop immediately. This is the pregnancy of equivalent of, “Hey doc, it hurts when I do this!” (“Then don’t do it.”)

4. Strength training is great too as long as it is high rep/low weight. Maxing out on your clean and jerk is probably off limits, but weight lifting is acceptable as long as it is moderate and proper form is used. Ceasing to breathe or hyperventilation is not recommended, so again, maximum weight lifting is off the table. Proper technique is really important because your joints soften up and you can get injured pretty easily. I used plenty of bodyweight exercises…and there is an automatic increase in weight as you go.

5. Eat, drink and be merry. You are not really “eating for two”. In fact, you get about 300 calories a day extra for a baby. That’s less than one PB&J. But if you’re exercising lots, you need more. And you need to stay hydrated.

6. Don’t overheat. Don’t cook junior. I spent most of my pregnant exercise time in the summer in Utah, so it was closing in on 100 degrees every day. I worked out at 6 am, inside, or swam.

And so it was with that set of guidelines that I set out to try and keep myself in the best shape possible to return to competition after baby.  I wrote a periodized training plan that included very low intensity and slightly higher, but still aerobic intensity.  I also included strength training.

Skiing "Suicide Chute", AKA "Country Lane".

Skiing “Suicide Chute”, AKA “Country Lane”.

For those not in the know, a proper training plan increases in volume and intensity over a set period of time and then contains a rest period before ratcheting up again. When I wrote the plan I had no idea if I would be able to follow it, but for me, it had to be written.  It’s what I have always done, and it was a good way to make sure I had appropriate challenges and proper recovery.

As far as activities, I did what I had been doing with one exception. I took up swimming. I hadn’t really been in a pool since I was a lifeguard in high school 20 years ago, but swimming is universally accepted as the only sport it’s ok to start doing pregnant. And it ended up being a saving grace because I could take my workout to the pool if it was hot or when the weather was crappy in the fall, or finally when the pounding of fast walking was too much around 37 weeks.

Cycling.  My original, all-time go-to sport.  Some folks might be concerned about this one due to

Little Cottonwood Canyon, about 28 weeks. For once I was excited about the road work because of this photo-op.

Little Cottonwood Canyon, about 28 weeks. For once I was excited about the road work because of this photo-op.

the danger of falling off the bike. Certainly this falls under the “don’t take it up for the first time pregnant” category. But remember that I have spent twenty- five years on a bike and I happen to have a pretty good record as far as falling.  I felt perfectly safe riding on the roads and some trails. When I stopped it was because it had gotten too cold, and I was already at about 37 weeks. Many professional and former professional riders stay on their bike through their entire pregnancy.

I borrowed Jonathan’s old shorts and jerseys in order to accommodate the belly, and I had to get used to my knees bumping into it, but other than that I was able to get in many three-hour rides and a couple four-hour rides too.

Roller skiing: At the outset I eliminated this activity due to my single year of experience and how tedious I felt on those things. But I missed it (never thought I would say that).  So one day I tried it very carefully. It turned out that after another year on snow I was much better on these things. I alternated double-poling with no-pole skating. Not only was this safer, but it vastly improved my skating technique.

I vowed that the very first day I felt off-balance on them I would not do it again. I never experienced a moment when my balance felt impaired, but I just had a day when I didn’t feel 100% and I stopped around seven months.

The long hike up Timponogos for some August turns. I was about five months along and feeling pretty great.

The long hike up Timponogos for some August turns. I was about five months along and feeling pretty great.

Nordic Walking: When I gave up roller I walked and jogged with poles. Extra bonus: if your hands tend to swell when walking, walking with poles helps keep blood flowing in and retained water flowing out.

Swimming: First I had to reteach myself swimming. The first day I went I was about 5 months pregnant. Since the maternity suits were so lame (not athletic suits), I bought a size larger Speedo and jumped in. My swimming technique was so bad I barely made it across the pool without going anaerobic.

I googled swimming videos and watched a few, went back to the pool and tried to perfect my stroke. I got some fins, hand fins and a floatie. I did some flipper time to make me feel better, and then some arms only to perfect my stroke.  In a few weeks I had made it 1600 meters and finally 2000 meters.  I took some of my land-based interval training and translated it to the pool. I also learned how to swim easy in between, which was perhaps the most challenging part.

In the end I gained a new lifelong activity. I believe swimming helped me build muscle endurance in my arms for skiing that had lacked in my tyrannosaurus-rex cycling body.

Showing off my bump on Timp. This was obviously more fun than the skiing was, as it was raining.

Showing off my bump on Timp. This was obviously more fun than the skiing was, as it was raining.

Backcountry Skiing: Again, something I was already doing. In fact we had the single most prolific spring of ski mountaineering ever while I was between one and five months along. We bagged some of the most sought-after peaks and lines in the Wasatch by hiking with climbing skins at a very moderate pace and picking smooth lines down.  During the first few months the danger of injuring a baby due to a fall is minimal because it is still hiding behind the pelvic bone. My doc gave me a 100% green light on skiing.

Nordic Skiing: The Monday before M was born, at 38.5 weeks along, we got enough snow to ski. We went out to one of the local groomed tracks and Jonathan had to put on my skis because I couldn’t reach.  I was amazed at the technique improvement I had gained with my summer of careful roller skiing concentrating on technique, and all my strength training. Balance wasn’t a problem. I was just happier than anything to see snow.  We went the next day too. On the Wednesday of that week I was feeling tired, on Thursday the doc induced me due to rising BP which he did not blame on exercising. Friday I had a baby.

Four days before Baby M was born. The balance loss I was promised never really materialized. This was the best ski pic I had ever taken and it was the first day we were on snow.

Four days before Baby M was born. The balance loss I was “promised” never really materialized. This was the best ski pic I had ever taken and it was the first day we were on snow.

Weight lifting and core conditioning: We continued our core strength circuit and weightlifting that we do every year in the base training phase. Although the recommendation is for pregnant women not to do any exercises that involve being on their back after first trimester, my doctor gave me the ok for regular crunches for awhile after that because I was very small and my weight gain was not an impairment.  I did free weights and squats – again with low weight and lots of reps. Good form was always a priority since pregnant joints tend to loosen, but I didn’t feel any pain and made pretty significant gains in this arena.

Expectations: I had few. I wrote out a training plan and followed it because that’s what I do, and expected to have to modify it along the way. I expected to stay active throughout my pregnancy as long as I didn’t have complications. That was just about it – I really didn’t expect much

I also expected to be “morning sick”, but the myth of morning sickness is the morning part; it can happen any time. I felt the worst at night or if I wasn’t eating correctly and I strongly feel that the nausea, at least for me, was tied directly to blood sugar.

I expected to retain a reasonable amount of fitness, provided I wasn’t sent to bed rest. I tried to be realistic and I ended up lucky.

Surprises: I was surprised that I felt good almost every day of the 39 weeks. In the first three months I was tired a lot, but I knew that getting out to do something would actually make me feel better. It did.  After that I felt pretty amazing every day until about 38 ½ weeks.

I was surprised at how much activity I could easily handle. I worked out twice a day many times; sometimes because I lifted and did something aerobic, and sometimes because I really liked swimming outside to cool off.  I was able to do three-hour bike rides very easily and I didn’t bonk because I was on top of my nutrition the whole time.

Another surprise was that I actually gained aerobic capacity and strength. My arms got way

I ordered one set of larger clothing because nobody makes "maternity cycling clothes". And of course a tiny jersey for M.

I ordered one set of larger clothing because nobody makes “maternity cycling clothes”. And of course a tiny jersey for M.

stronger, and I saw myself able to go farther and faster within the same heart rates as the season went on. I expected to maintain and then decline. I maybe hoped to just maintain. I never would have gone into this expecting to improve, but I did.

I was pleased that all of my work made delivering a baby (with full epidural) totally easy. Sure, I had no feeling, but I still had to push out a baby after 24 hours of induced labor. It was far easier than any bike or ski race.

The last surprise was my return to competition.  Eight days after M was born I was back on my Nordic skis.  I could see my feet again, which was awesome, and the first few days were rough. After a total of 11 days off pre and post baby I was back training, and at five weeks I was in my first race. By week six I was back to my race weight and after that I was lower. Seven weeks after baby I found myself sprinting for second in a local series race.  The remaining races were each results I would have been proud of had I never been pregnant.

As I developed a plan for the following season I noted that the bulk of any endurance training, even for non-pregnant people, is still at a very low heart rate. In fact, being forced to slow down may have actually had more far-reaching benefits than I had thought.

Blood Doping: Notice I didn’t say illegal blood doping. You see, I finally found out for real what all the hype was about with Lance and his team, and well, almost every pro cyclist from the 90’s.  When you have a baby your blood volume increases a bunch. Afterwards it sticks around for three months or so.  If you haven’t had your head in the sand for the last year, then you know that extra blood means extra oxygen available to your muscles.  So even though I was completely sleep deprived and missed the most crucial high-end training going into the season, I was racing as if I had trained all the way through.  Seriously – my husband was able to train much harder than I was last summer and he missed the same crucial block around Thanksgiving. I felt great racing and he didn’t. He didn’t have the extra blood volume, just the sleepless nights.

My view 8 days after delivery; I could finally see these again!

My view 8 days after delivery; I could finally see these again!

So my last unexpected result was that I now know the benefit of the cheating that was going on when I was racing bikes. It makes me all the more angry at the cheaters, some of them my competition, who were obviously gaining significantly from extra blood. But that’s a rant for another time.

Partly due to timing, certainly due to motivation and definitely with the help of my family (husband, father-in-law, parents), I managed to have a very healthy baby without missing a single ski season. Certainly it isn’t for everyone, and had there been any indication this was harmful I would have stopped in my tracks. In the end my doctor kept green-lighting me to do what I had been doing because things always looked great (until the very last day).

This is just one perspective, but I know I would have loved to be able to read this when I was pregnant. Hopefully someone else will see that having a baby and maintaining a high level of fitness is a possibility when the right conditions exist.

Stuff I Like (And Paid For*)

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Like Oprah’s Favorite Things, I have a bunch of Stuff I Like.  Unlike Oprah, you won’t find one under your seat.   Here goes another addition of, Stuff I Like (And Paid For*)*not always retail.

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The podium at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials. Since I always seemed to get 4th it was nice they let five of us up there.

Long before I had a blog, hell, before the Interwebs had blogs, I was a bike racer. And I was pretty successful on a national scale.  And I was short. Am short. Not growing taller.  And back in the 1990’s, there was not one single stock bicycle frame in the world that was worthy of racing in my size.

“Oh c’mon Jen, that’s not true,” you’re moaning, “Trek made them, Specialized had one, TONS of people had WOMENS SPECIFIC FRAMES.”

Sure they did, you’re right. But for one, I predate those and two, when they did show up most of them were not all that great from a racing perspective.  Don’t get me wrong, I get it. Chicken and Egg. There were like ten of us who were any good and nine of us were tall enough to ride men’s bikes.

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Driving the breakaway on my custom bike. It looked like a bike. It rode great. I was happy.

And so I rode. On things cobbled together. Until one day I was sponsored by an independent frame builder (crafty, huh?) who made me beautiful hand-made custom steel bikes in exactly my spec.  It looked like everyone else’s bike because it had a horizontal top tube and was proportional.  And those bikes rode like a dream. I am forever grateful to them for meeting my needs and I turned down literally tens of offers to join other teams for fear I would have to give up my bikes that fit.

I retired from bike racing in 2001. I had my team bike re-painted all shiny so I could pretend I still got new bikes.  I put new parts on it.  Life was good.

The rest of the world began riding compact frames, but my steel steed still looked like the bikes everyone was riding when I started. And I was fiercely loyal to my sponsor even after I had stopped racing.

Discussing small wheels with the world's most famous shortie, Jeannie Longo.

Discussing small wheels with the world’s most famous shortie, Jeannie Longo.

One day I was approached by a good friend and former race mechanic who now works at Specialized. He asked if I would like to be a tester for a women’s bike.  Now if you know me then you probably know what I was thinking. (Purple with flowers on it doesn’t make it a good bike people!) To be fair, up until that moment I had the ultimate women’s bike – custom.  But somehow I was drawn.

Perhaps it was the carbony-goodness of this new bike. Or the fact that it was almost TEN POUNDS LIGHTER than my steel ride.  Maybe it was the fact that it wasn’t purple with flowers on it. Or maybe it was a maturity that brings open-mindedness.  Whatever it was, it resulted in a Specialized Amira being delivered to me one April day in 2009. The Amira is the women’s version of the men’s Tarmac – Specialized’s standard road racing machine.  I built it and took it for a ride.

Now if you’re a sporting company and you would like me to review something, there is a bit of detail you should know.  I HATE NEW EQUIPMENT.  I hate it so much. I hate it the minute I try it.  If I keep trying it, though, sometimes things turn around.  This bike was no exception to the rule; it is built around a much more modern design than my old bike, so the front end was five centimeters higher than what I was riding.

“I hate this and it rides like a semi.”  I think those were the first words out of my mouth.  But I couldn’t seem to resist the lightness, so I rode it again. And again.

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Awesome enough to ride anywhere, comfy enough to ride seven months along.

I don’t remember when my opinion started to change, but I remember when it completed its one-eighty.  Jonathan and I rode the Shenandoah National Park Skyline Drive from end to end.  It is roughly one hundred miles and about 10,000 ft. of climbing.  We did it in just over six hours without going hard.  When the ride was over I realized I had never once felt that good after a ride that hard.  The anti-fatigue properties of carbon were evident as well as this one other little detail. This bike fit. It fit and it was STOCK.

We moved to Utah that year.  One day I came home from a ride and leaned the bike against the wall in the garage and went inside. With me right there, some horrible soul came into my garage and took it.  Upon discovering this I sobbed like I had lost my best friend.  I was utterly inconsolable.

When the tears finally dried up I concluded I would now be willing to purchase a replacement. And if need be, I would pay RETAIL.  I can stop the review right there, because if you know me, you know I never want to and hardly ever pay retail.  So you know I LOVE THIS BIKE.

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Loving my Amira five seasons and counting.

In the end I didn’t have to pay retail. Insurance helped out with parts and friends in nice places helped me find a new one. I had an identical bike back.  See this bike was STOCK and not completely irreplaceable. To me, after all those years of not being able to just buy a bike like a normal human, this was and is a big deal.

At this point you’re wondering, “what’s so great about this bike? Does it have a motor? Does it also make Belgian Liege Waffles while you ride?”

Here’s the techie stuff. Keep in mind I am not large and therefore I will review things from a different perspective than a 250 pound, over six-foot dude. I don’t break much, and when I do it must be crap.

Fit:  It specs out like my custom did. Sure, that’s my bias, but Specialized probably wouldn’t have made it in this size if there wasn’t some demand. I ride the 51cm Amira S-Works.

Ride Quality:  Haters stand back: steel may be real but “plastic” is fantastic!  See my info about riding the Shenandoah road above.  Fatigue disappears when the road shock is being sucked up by a carbon frame, seatpost and handlebars. Remember, I’m small, so I’m not as worried about breaking things.

Handling:   Bicycling Magazine voted Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT the second best road descent in the entire U.S. It sits about two miles from my door. Though in my opinion it takes second to Big Cottonwood, which is about one mile away and has more cool turns.  Anyhoo, I’ve had this bike on both of those roads, brakes open wide, 50mph plus.  With a slight lean of the hips the Amira sails through corners like it’s on rails.  To be fair I haven’t raced a crit on it, but then again I don’t want to race crits anymore anyway.  It is solid and predictable.  It is stiff in all the right places so you lose nothing cranking on it in a standing climb.  Its weight (about 15 pounds for mine) makes it go uphill like you aren’t even on a bike, but on descents it handles like it weighs much more (in a good way).  Trustworthy.

Availability: Perhaps from where I sit this is the most amazing part of the story.  I walked into a local shop one day and there were multiple models of this bike in stock. I had to pinch myself as a strolled along looking at multiple builds and sizes available when NOT ONE of these would have existed ten years ago.  There are two sizes smaller than my 51 cm and a couple sizes larger.  Any bigger than that and you are well into the men’s size range. Price points for this bike range from $1750 to $8500 in seven different parts packages and as a frame.  Seriously! Unheard of ten years ago. I still ride a 2010 model but the 2013 models have only gotten better.

Early season rides sure feel better on a bike that soaks up bumps!

Early season rides sure feel better on a bike that soaks up bumps!

But does it look good?  Sadly, if you are in the market for a purple bike with flowers, you’ll have to look elsewhere.  Besides coming in a huge variety of sizes and builds, the Amira is also painted to look like, well, to look like a proper racing bike.  Red, black, navy, you know, regular bike colors.  I think somewhere in the line there’s a purple one if you must.  The curved top tube is a nice aesthetic that hides just how compact the frame is; in other words, this bike just looks NORMAL.  And for a long time that was not the case.

I will admit that I haven’t ridden any other bikes of this era.  And I don’t feel the need; Specialized nailed this one first try.  For years all I wanted was the option to walk into a local bicycle dealer and purchase a bike that was every bit as nice as the big men’s bikes, but in my size. And now short folks everywhere have the same option.  Lots of my female friends have purchased Amiras and Ruby’s (the women’s version of the men’s Roubaix).  It’s a good time for shorties to ride a bike. Now if it would only stop raining!

http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bikes/road/amira

Why We Made Up a Cycling Team

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When I quit racing in 2001 I had a drawer full of usable cycling clothes, a few nice bikes and no desire whatsoever to ride them.  After a few years of happy hours, hockey, and a small but visible spare tire (on each of us), Jonathan and I decided we should ride our bikes again.  We mapped out some rides on the roads near Columbia, MD and rolled out for some very difficult first rides.

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My first team, the Miami Flyers (Miami University). These guys taught me to ride in my small ring in the spring and rotate in a paceline. We didn’t have Strava, power meters or even after market shoe covers.

Along the way we encountered plenty of folks on bikes, some who even waved.  But even the friendly ones made it difficult to ride with them.  Half-wheeling, always going kind of hard, never rolling over the tops of hills, and worst of all, “showing us how it’s done”.  We went on a group ride one day and one guy commented on our supple little-ring spin, but most of them just took us for “racers” and tried to “show us how it’s done”.

It was about then we made two decisions: one good, one crazy.  Our nice crisp cycling kit had become tattered and dry-rotted.  The grip cuffs on the shorts lost their grip and the backsides became, well, kind of like a warranty pair of yoga pants.  The local clubs had already shown they were of the new school; wattage over form and flow.  We simply didn’t want to join a club to buy new clothes. Bike shop clothes are plain and cost a lot at full retail.

We decided to design and order our own clothing from Champion System.  After filling our minimum jersey order we got to have everything we ever wanted but were never issued by a team; thermal jackets, tights, vests etc.  And life was good.

The crazy decision was committing ourselves to the Wilderness 101 mountain bike race outside State College PA.  We planned it a year in advance, so we had a little carrot out there to force us on the bikes in otherwise bad riding conditions.  After you shell out an entry fee for one of those you train just to survive it.

Jonathan and I wearing our own clothing featuring Independent Fabrication. Picking and choosing good riding buddies in the hills of SLC.

Jonathan and I wearing our own clothing featuring Independent Fabrication. Picking and choosing good riding buddies in the hills of SLC.

Fast forward a few years and we found ourselves in Salt Lake City.  With the number of bikes around we thought we’d died and gone to Boulder 10 years ago. Sadly we soon found out that with its bike-friendly attitude, SLC was enabling a horrible bunch of the worst recreational road cycling has to offer.  And I am not exaggerating.  Floored by the politeness of the automobiles as we were, we were equally horrified by the other cyclists. It wasn’t just that they were too rude to wave; the majority of these ass hats run every stop sign and barely slow down for red lights.  They ride three and four abreast up popular canyon routes. They are always in the big ring pedaling huge squares going fast-ish. They are quickly adding to the ever-present public relations struggle of road cycling.

The most telling event was a single group ride that we were invited to attend with a friend.  This ride was a memorial for a fallen rider; one who became a victim of an automobile on the roads of Salt Lake.  We didn’t know the rider, but it was nice to see how many people showed up to honor him.  And that’s where the nice stopped short.  Upon leaving the parking lot this bunch of folks who knew the victim proceeded to run the first red light they hit.  Yup, did I mention this was a memorial ride for someone who succumbed to a vehicle vs. bike accident?

Time for new clothing - including a team jersey for Baby M.

Time for new clothing – including a team jersey for Baby M and maternity-sized shorts for me.

Worse yet, I was almost rear-ended as I stopped for the light by another cyclist in the group who was annoyed.  Really? Really. Annoyed that I stopped for a red light.

And the motorists in SLC are conditioned to give away their right of way to cyclists; a situation that is at best unpredictable and at worst, well, causes eventual backlash.

So that’s it.  We made up our own team again.  This time based on our ski team. Because it is bad enough that we get lumped in with other cyclists by people in cars.  I never want to be lumped in with the local teams and clubs here in Salt Lake. I realize not every member of every club is out making a bad name for cyclists.  I have, however, seen at least one cyclist in every jersey in town blatantly breaking traffic laws and otherwise acting like a dick in ways that do not reflect how a respectable cyclist should act.  I would venture a guess that most of the offenders are at best Cat 3’s in the local race series. They probably started riding a little in college or maybe after college. Many of them probably got into bikes during the great growth of mountain bikes in the 90’s

Finally fitting into the new clothes post baby. Still riding for our own team, joiners allowed by unanimous vote only.

Finally fitting into the new clothes post baby. Still riding for our own team, joiners allowed by unanimous vote only.

and then realized they needed something to do on weekdays and all the snow seasons (it sometimes isn’t possible to ride the high trails until July).  Some of them are triathletes.  No comment.

The problem is, when you wear a jersey with the name of a team or business on it, you are representing that team or business. Period. Even if they don’t give you a damned thing except a discount on a jersey. The court of public opinion is watching you run lights and act like you own the place.

So FYI local cyclists; that huge gap you just got on me on your training ride was probably because I stopped for the stop sign.  And don’t worry – the jersey that you don’t recognize won’t be giving you a problem at the local races. We’re done racing bikes. We’re just out for a respectable bike ride of some kind, be it intervals or a Zone 1 day. But I guess I can’t expect you to know what Zone 1 feels like because I’m pretty sure you hit that while you were filling up your bottles, resetting your power meter, booting Strava on your iPhone, filling your pockets with gels to throw on the ground at the base of Emigration Canyon, getting ready to ride pseudo-tempo downhill on Wasatch in your big ring in February.

Stuff I Like (And Paid For*)

 

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Introducing a new segment called Stuff I Like (And Paid For*) *not always retail. I include that I paid for it because athletes tend to say nicer things about those items they receive for free.

You’re reviewing WHAT? This edition of Stuff I Like (And Paid For*)*not always retail features a cookbook.  What that has to do with bikes and boards you’ll soon find out…

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The Feedzone Cookbook. Available at Amazon.

The Feedzone Cookbook by Biju Thomas and Alan Lim solves a few current problems I have identified in my life.  You see, due to the bikes and boards portion of this site I often find the need to eat. Lots.  In fact one might argue I only do any of those activities as a license to eat.  But I don’t like to eat crap (all the time). The baby situation presents the second dilemma: it needs to be simple and again, not crap.

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A Feedzone pasta dish featuring walnuts, bleu cheese and a mustardy dressing. Made with pre-cooked pasta – FAST!

So we’ve all been to Pineterest. It’s a wealth of great ideas for delicious dishes that are advertised as “so fast and easy” etc.  The thing is, many of the shortcuts popular on these sites are really not much shorter than making things from scratch. They often involve a lot of pre-prepared items that play host to hidden sodium and fat.  Other times they cut corners that take away from the taste.  In the end I’m willing to do a little more to eat something that is healthy and also tastes good.

Another HUGE pet peeve of mine is recipes that have not been tested. That’s why normally I stick to Alton Brown, America’s Test Kitchen and Cooking Light; they seem to test out their claims as well as write decent instructions. They are based in science and tested, but those recipes aren’t always aimed at the segment of the population who burn a second person’s daily calories working out.

Enter the Feedzone.  The focus of the book, written by veteran cycling chef Biju Thomas and renowned cycling physiologist Alan Lim PhD, is to provide recipes that are simple enough for a bachelor bike racer to make, mostly from scratch, taste good and are above all healthy.  A word of caution, though: most of these recipes are intended for people who are active endurance athletes, so there is a little more fat allowed. If you love to play outside, read on.

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That awesome granola that costs $5 a bag. Made from scratch for pennies.

The book is divided neatly into sections for each part of a typical training day; breakfast, ride food, après, dinner and the all-important dessert.  The breakfasts are aimed at those going out for long or difficult training and the après meals are what the rest of the world might call lunch.  The “portables” section caters to those of us who just can’t bring themselves to eat one more pre-packaged energy bar.  This section is so awesome they are about to fill orders for their second book on only this subject.

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Two kinds of “Portables” rice bars; one with fig and honey, the other with chocolate and peanuts. Neither one will freeze in your pocket or work out your jaw.

What I love about the book most is that the recipes are clean; the ingredients are few and tasty, and the meals leave you feeling full but not stuffed.  Brilliant touches like a vegetarian and gluten-free options for most recipes allow anyone to eat from this book.  They also do an excellent job of explaining the “why” behind the nutrition (because they thought these recipes through) and offering tips on how some of the items can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen. Because who wants to come home from a five-hour thigh-burner and cook a meal from scratch?

Also featured in the book are some instructions on how to make basic items like pizza dough and pie crust.  An “on hand” pantry list included makes it easy and economical to have staples on hand so that your shopping list is short even for a week’s worth of meals.

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Banana Rice Muffins. Great for before, during and after long hours. Also a great midnight snack while up feeding hungry babies.

I cook almost every night from one of three books and various internet sources, but by far this book is the most used.  And this is one of the “Stuff I Like” that I paid RETAIL for.  You can too here.

Although the book was written as a result of experience with cycling, it lends itself to just about any activity that involves burning fat.  In addition to using the book for meals, I powered my longer ski races on the portables and never once had that bloated, sugared out energy bar feeling.

Stay tuned for their next installment; a book only about “portables” pocket snacks for during activities. And check out Skratch Labs for a nice clean-tasting hydration solution that won’t break your bank or belly.

 

I’m not waving because I know you…

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I’m waving because we share common ground. Or so I thought.

I’ve ridden my bike all over this place. I mean the marble we call Earth.  More specifically, I have raced and trained in about 38 states and 7 countries, lived in 6 different areas of the U.S., and logged more miles and big professional races than I can count.  Yet I don’t rate a wave from a majority of other cyclists in my new home.

Jeannie Longo wasn't too good to have a chat with me. (Photo, Doug Mills)

Jeannie Longo wasn’t too good to have a chat with me. (Core States USPro Championships, Photo by Doug Mills)

When two motorcyclists pass each other on the road they give each other a low wave – a semi-secret hand signal that says, “We don’t know each other, but we both like riding moto’s and we deal with the same challenges .”

Since I began riding road bikes in the 80’s the same situation had applied to other cyclists.  A cyclist wave is your left hand (for those of us who ride on the right side of the road) up off the bars and a look, maybe a smile.  That’s it.  It’s simple.  It’s polite and it is what we do. Or did.

I have lived a few places; some good, some not so good.  When I was based in Western Massachusetts the riding was amazing. The quality of riders was high; some training rides were five of us, all professional riders, all doing really tough workouts.  All taking a second to wave at others on two wheels.

When I lived in Columbia, MD it was all I could do to make myself go for a spin. The climate for cyclists was one of the worst I have ever seen in terms of safety and road-sharing; the cops road-raged us there. But still, other cyclists took that second to acknowledge us.  Misery loves company.

One of the places I first noticed “the wave” was absent was one of the greatest places for a cyclist in the U.S. Good old sunny California.  They don’t wave there.  Excluding a few good apples of course. I guess they don’t want you to move there.

Now I live in Salt Lake City.  It is the most bike-friendly place I have ever lived. Cars give up their right-of-way for cyclists (I wish they would not – it’s unpredictable).  But as friendly as it is, the majority of road cyclists here are, well, complete douchebags.  Yup, I will go blue to describe them.

At least the views in Salt Lake are nice!

At least the views in Salt Lake are nice!

Perhaps they are everywhere.  Eight-thousand dollar bikes, carbon clinchers, power-meters, STRAVA-driven…you can read more about them here (unless you already know what I’m talking about).  I am continually appalled when I am out rolling along and do “the wave”, that not only do I not get a wave back, often the other rider will look down and away.  Appalled.

Either these riders think they are too good to wave at the likes of me, or they are too wrapped up in their workout or STRAVA PR to take a second.  Maybe they haven’t been schooled on the etiquette of cycling (again, read this).

To those who think they are “too good”, here’s my advice.  Take your 45+ Master’s racing butt to a big race and enter the OPEN Pro 1-2. Oh, OUTSIDE OF UTAH.  If you stay in the race for longer than five minutes, make a friend. Go for a ride with that friend in his neighborhood and observe, because the closer to P.R.O. he is, the more likely you will see him wave.

Or maybe, as I love to give folks the benefit of the doubt, maybe they think, “who is that? Am I supposed to know her?  I’m so embarrassed I forgot who she is. Maybe I’ll just look this way and pretend not to see her.” Like you do at a party when you know you’ve met someone too many times to ask them again for their name.

Somehow I doubt that explanation.

Why I might have been slow last summer.

Why I might have been slow last summer.

But just in case, let me introduce myself.  I’m a former P.R.O. rider who now races Nordic skis.  I have done races you can’t ever imagine.  I have ridden more miles in my little ring (again click here) than you have in your lifetime.  Maybe I’m riding this slowly because I’m doing a recovery ride, or a Zone 2 long ride, or maybe I’m out enjoying the nice day.  Or perhaps I’m eight months pregnant (like last summer).  Or maybe I’m doing intervals and going hard.  No matter what, though, I can muster the strength and time to raise my left hand off the bars to you to acknowledge that we share common ground.

Now you know me. Wave back.