Race Recap: The Reston Bike Club Century

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Today I finally rode over 100 miles.

Today I got pushed up hills like a baby by my awesome and wicked strong rider dad.

Today I rode in my first organized ride.

Every year for the past 32 years the Reston (VA) Bike Club hosts the Reston Century and it draws 1,500 riders from all over the area. This was my dads third time riding this century and it was my first. Now that the pain is over and done with and the muscles are icing up, I can say I loved it!

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They offer 3 routes:

  • Half metric (35.7 miles)
  • Metric (67.4 miles)
  • Century (103.5) — or a little longer if you miss a cue card or sign (woops)

The biggest different for my between cycling and running is trying to remember that this is an organized ride and NOT a race. That’s does not mean that we are going slow by any means…but it does mean that I need to remember that each person that comes up to me is not trying to race me (you hear that, dad?!).

To save an hour of sleep in the morning I decided to spend the night at my parents house. We had a healthy power dinner of grilled chicken, brown rice, and a lot of spinach and veggies…oh and then we split a Lindt chocolate bar (woops). We were in bed by 7:30 pm and up at 4:00 am to start getting ready. Oatmeal and eggs over toast for breakfast with 2 cups of coffee for both of us! We arrived in Reston at 6:30 am and were on the road at the starting line at 7:00 am. Looking around at all of the DC Velo and pro-team jerseys I know that I was in trouble!

Throughout the entire ride there really were few spots where we were ever on our own out on the road. The first sections were a little crowded for my liking (eg. where all 3 routes were rolling together) but then it thinned out as different routers headed in their own direction. I was pretty proud of being able to keep up with the “big boys” for the most part. Mom met us at the finish line and it was great to see here there so proud!

A few observations:

  • Cycling is a very male-dominated sport. At every rest stop I would run into 1 maybe 2 other ladies and 20+ men. Let’s change this ladies!
  • The RBC did a fabulous job of staffing and filling the rest areas. Every 15-20 miles there were marked rest stops in community centers or parking lots. Each stop had mechanics from bike stores, water, gatorade, bathrooms, racks for your bike, maps, and tons of food (PB&J, muffins, breads, trailmix, vanilla waffers, rice krispy treats, bananas, oranges, cheese-its, power bars, fig newtons).
  • RBC also did a great job keeping riders safe! There were electronic signs saying “cycling event, share the road, etc), state troopers at major intersections, SAG wagons for those who needed to quit or got hurt, and my favorite was the motor bike that took the main front group we were in through a particularly confusing area so that we knew where to go…I felt like I was on the Tour de France). Everything was very well marked!
  • RBC (again) did a great job with their post-race party. The finish shirts look great and there was a delicious spread of salads, pastas, chicken, fruits, an ice-cream truck on hand to give out ice cream treats, and a massage company there to help role you out.
  • I was so proud to see so many riders out rocking their Bike MS jerseys. I spoke with each one I saw and thanked them for their help!

What I want to improve on:

  • I want to be stronger! My poor dad had to push me up some gnarly hills (check out those peaks in the map! I am sure you can guess the 2 “hills” that were the killers). Big strong riders were stopping on hills from cramps, pulling off to the side of the road, it was bad. Dad would not let me quit and kept coming back to get me, give me a push, or (literally) push me up the hill in our granny gears. I cried on those hills…they will be scars in my mind for a while.
  • I need to eat and drink better on rides. I didn’t eat as much as my dad did on the century (my total for all of the rest stops was: 2 half PB&J sandwiches, half a bag of pretzels, half a bag of cheese-its, half a bag of trail mix, 2 orange slices, a Gatorade snow cone, and 1 banana). On the bike I had 2 gu gels when I really struggled, 4 shock blocks, and over 10 bottles of water).
  • Stop drinking gatorade. As you know, I am a HUGE Nuun fan. 2+ years of drinking Nuun as my sports drink of choice reaffirmed how sugar loaded Gatorade is. I got sick to my tummy today from it. WAY too sweet and sticky.
  • Intervals. I need to dedicate a day each week to interval training to get those muscles built.

All in all a GREAT ride, full of hills (the should re-name is the Never-Ending-Hills Century), and I am so proud of us!

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Look at all of that food!

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(right) How I actually felt about dad after that ride/hills/telling me it was a “flat course”/convincing me I could do this

(left) loving my pops

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Riders enjoying the massage section and all of the great food

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Feeling strong after completing my first century!!

Final States:

Miles – 103.5

Kilometers – 167

Time – 6:46 (5 rest stops with about 10 minutes at each stop for stretching/restrooms/filling water/eating)

Lessons from a Newbie Cyclist

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I am SO excited to share some exciting news with my blogger friends: my cycling dreams are coming true!! Two weeks ago I got a Cervelo R3 and basically cannot stop staring at it. I am in love! This is my first “real” road bike and I can’t wait to see how I grow as both a cycling and a runner because of it.

So here’s the R3 (name pending…open to suggestions!)…

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We took her out on her inaugural ride that weekend and it was great. I met my dad at 7:30 AM at his house and we applied tons of sun screen, checked our bikes, and headed to the trail. My parents live near a long stretch of great riding called the Washington and Old Dominion trail and we headed out for a 70k (44 mile) journey.

I’ve done portions of this ride before with my dad on my hybrid bike but never this far. We passed Falls Church, Vienna, Fairfax, Reston, Herndon, and Ashburn before we turned around. I don’t drive that far out – let alone bike it! Once we hit our turn around mark I started to hit the wall. I struggled to keep up with my dad and we climbed over little rolling hills and, as he put it, I was in survival mode. My goal was just to get to our final destination. There was no more passing people or channeling my inner Tour De France.

Just when I thought I could not make it any further we stopped in at the Green Lizard Bike Shop/Café in Herndon and grabbed a cup of coffee. It’s a neat bike shop with a coffee bar right off the trail. The coffee hit the spot and I was back to riding with some energy again – woohoo! Dad took a look at my full package of Shot Blocks and two bottles of Nuun and pointed out that I needed to be eating those more and that I should be finished with my Nuun by now…and I had only finished ½ a bottle at that point. Fueling for a 3+ hour ride is something I need to learn more about! Thankfully my dad is as big of a Nuun fan as I am.

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When we got home dad made us poached eggs and toast for breakfast and we watched the Tour de France (of course) before tuning up our bikes. I’ve watched the Tour with my dad since I was 8 years old and he really got into cycling a few years ahead of the Lance Armstrong wave in America. It was only fitting that I got my first road bike on the first day of the Tour!

The following weekend (last Sunday) we did another 70k starting out in Herndon and riding to the end of the W&OD! My old man is kicking my butt…but I am keeping up with him! Long story short, my butt hurts from hours in the saddle, my shoulders are sore from holding myself up (and tennis), and my kit was stinky and covered in sweat to wash…but I loved every minute of it! Thanks dad!

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No, I did not ride in that shirt, I have a jersey and bib to match the bike of course!

Now I’m no cycling pro…but I did grow up with a dad who is one! My real cycling adventure has just begun and I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned along the way:

PICKING A BIKE

Take your time. I took 2 months of bike shopping, online reviewing, and test riding bikes with a very patient husband before I finally picked my bike. It takes time and a lot of patience…but you need to know what’s out there.

Watch the market. If I would have bought my bike 2 months prior to when I bought it (the first day of the Tour de France!) I would have paid an additional $700. Summer usually means sales! Watch out for holiday sales or dates when new models are being pushed out. The next model of the Cervelo R3 is being released so the current R3 was marked down. Same great bike and huge savings.

Get professionally fit. After buying the bike, we spent an hour on a roller and table with a fit expert who got everything set and ready to go from adding arch support into my bike shoes to tightening every screw. Nothing is more awkward than having to watch yourself riding a bike in slow-mo on a big screen TV…but it makes all the difference! If you buy your bike from a high-quality bike store like FreshBikes, your fitting should be free.

LEARNING TO RIDE

Yes, I already know how to ride a bike and have been riding daily for quite some time…but not on a road bike! I quickly got the hang of the areo position, clip in pedals, and razor thing tires, but I still have a lot of learning to do.

Find a mentor. Latch onto a seasoned rider who can take you through the in’s and out’s of riding. Luckily, my dad is my mentor and he just moved back to the US meaning we can ride together every Sunday morning. As my mentor (he calls me Weed Hopper, haha) he’s teaching me how to properly shift, change a flat tire in minutes, properly clean and care for my bike, how to fuel, and know the different between the good gear and the bad. Oh and he is there to yell at me when I walk on his hard wood floors with my bike shoes as well!

Build your strength. Now I am not just talking about building up your strength and time in the saddle…but muscles you might need to strengthen now that you’re biking. As a runner my legs are pretty strong. I hated those “thunder thighs” in high school, but they power me though my runs and rides, and now I love them! Want to know what’s not strong? My shoulders and my core! Immediately after my first long ride I turned to my dad and said, “I really need to look up some shoulder gym moves and do a whole heck of a lot more sit ups!”

Pick a ride. Just like with running, riders should find a race, tri, or ride to sign up for to help them train. Knowing that my dad and I want to ride a century (100 miles) at the end of August will help me wake up early and ride in this summer hear because I have something I am working towards.

Invest in good gear. The first thing my dad told me when I told him I wanted to start cycling was “well if you’re going to ride with me you can’t look like a fool out there.” What he meant was that I can’t be out there in running shorts and a baggy t-shirt…I needed to be aerodynamic. Your butt will thank you for a solid bib or pair of biking shorts and your speed will thank you for the tight fitting jersey with handy-dandy pockets in the back. Luckily my dad has a closet (really…) of bike gear that I get to inherit when he’s done with a piece. He also has 3+ of everything so I got his gloves, UV sun sleeves, helmet, skull cap, etc.

Learn to draft. Every watch professional cyclist riding wheel to wheel? There’s a science behind that and this weekend I have conquered my fears and am learning how to ride right up against my dad’s front tire. Heading into a powerful head wind? Well tuck in behind your dad and BOOM let him pull you. As we ride I started a little mantra of repeating “just let daddy pull you, just let daddy pull you” which we ride so that I don’t give up or get too far behind him. So I now know how close I should be and where I should be looking ahead. Next up: figuring out how to do it continuously and use it to my advantage.

Cross train. I love that running further and stronger will help my biking and that biking further and stronger will help my running. They are complimentary!

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Happy riding! Do you have and tips for this beginner cyclist? Share them in the comments below!