Sunday, March 1, 2009

Training Session #3 -- 22 miles in Boxborough, MA

Saturday, February 28, 2009: We meet again in Boxborough at the Holiday Inn parking lot, by 09:30 for a 10AM ride. This time I discover that ALL FIVE of my mentees are on the parking lot, chomping at the bit to get out there and forge along for another 22 miles. This time we'll get out to Harvard, MA, and try the steep hill into the Center there. We'll return by Rte. 111, which will involve a steep downhill for everyone on the way home.

We have 15 riders this time: Coach Mike, Mike C, Mike M, Lindsey, Brittany, Anna, Dianne, Dave, Pat, Joe, Marla, Martina, Ben, Keith, and me. I've loaned Lindsey my hybrid again this week. Mike M has gone out and bought a new orange road bike, and Dianne has a new white Trek road bike. The dedication for the ride was provided by Mike C, who wanted us to keep an old friend, stricken with lymphoma, in mind.

No SAG vehicle needed again this time, and that means I'll be on the bike the whole way again. Great!

As we got started, I jumped out ahead to get some more photos of the team leaving the motel area. I'll add a few of them here as I go along. The riding is fast again, as we have the wind behind us going out to the ball park, and also not much head-wind going over to the Littlefield Rd turnoff. But there the work started to get a little harder.

This time we headed out Littlefield Rd all the way to Foster St, where there is a nice steep uphill after turning left. Looking to the right onto Taylor St, we could see the big downhill crossing I495, and at this point, I just had to stop and eat. I knew the Harvard Hill on Rte 110 was coming, and wanted to be ready for it.

The trip along Taylor/Littleton/Centre St. toward Harvard wasn't eventful, but I had to keep my eye out for my mentees, to make sure they had the right path and the best chance of climbing into Harvard on their wheels. Mike M caught up with me near the Rte 2 overpass, and I was able to coach him a little bit to approach the hill properly. "Just drop all the way down in front, and raise in the back, leaving yourself a couple of gears for the steepest part. Stay in the seat as long as you can." He made it up all the way sure enough, and so did most of the people who followed us. I later learned that Dave M and Brittany had already blown past the rest of the crew, and were waiting for us by that time back at the motel.

I tried to wait on the middle group, which included Lindsey, Mike M, Anna, Martina, Mike C, and Keith, but was encouraged to head back with anyone that wanted to follow me. I wound up taking the downhill into Boxborough alone, but no one had any trouble getting back. Mike C told us he was beginning to hate his mountain bike, his friend through many previous adventures. I'm sure he'll be flying up those hills soon enough, as he has the build for serious uphill work.

Pizza this time was more welcome even than last week. I had plenty to eat and drink on the road trip, having a Cliff Bar and a Cliff Shot while stopped at the corner of Foster and Taylor Streets. But I had room for a sike salad and half a small Portabella mush/chicken pie at DiCapri's. I also got to enjoy the jovial company of Coach Mike and the loverly Martina, who shared a slice of their bleu cheese pie with me.

No question that I enjoy these training rides, and do not consider the effort to be the least bit unselfish.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Training Session #2 -- Our first outdoor ride of the season

Saturday, February 21, 2009: Wow! We are already getting to go outside to train, and this time we didn't even have icy weather to do it in. It was a balmy day in Boxborough for our training, by comparison to some February rides I've done in the past. I sure hope no one on our team is discouraged by what we're doing today. There is bright sunshine, mostly dry conditions, and the streets are clear of water and snow. There is some serious amount of loose sand out there, so we won't be breaking any speed records.

The plan is for 14.8 miles today, and Anna is going to be our coach. We'll forgo any SAG vehicle duties on this ride, lucky for me. The New Hampshire team is joining us, and they are almost as numerous as we are, five of them and seven of us, for a 12-person team. Coach Don Lamothe of NH is here giving lots of good new-bike advice and fitting suggestions to the newbies to road-biking. I've loaned Lindsey, one of my mentees, a Bianchi hybrid bike while she searches responsibly for a good road bike. Won't be a problem for this short ride!

We have Anna, Don, Rich, Brittany, Lindsey, Mike M, Ann, Jill, Jack, Marla, Sue, and me participating today.

As the ride started out at about 10:30, we are already noticing quite a bit of road traffic, which is a pain on a day like this with lots of sand and road damage near the road edges. But, we've dealt with this before, so we'll just persevere, carefully.

We meet seven miles along the usual Boxborough course, at the local baseball field. The usual kidding around evolves, as Sue complains laughingly that her favorite port-a-potty is not yet available on the field. Sue starts out in the lead on this ride, and I've been asked to keep up with the lead group so no one gets lost. Funny, I'm traditionally the one with the most trouble keeping up with the queue-sheet.

We all drink some water and cram down some snacks at the ball yard, and then proceed toward the Rt. 111 junction at West Acton, which we'll pass at about 8.5 miles in. We are well on our way to finishing this already, but there is some serious work ahead (as we haven't had any real hills yet!)

Turning left at Littlefield Rd, we are now about to head into the hilly country of Boxborough. Our newbies are pushing us today, so we'll have to keep up. More trouble with turns and straigh-aheads for them than anything we're asking them to ride or climb, so it is a healthy squad. Don, Anna, Ann, and I share duties of waiting and watching for riders at turns and straights, to make sure everyone stays on the planned trail. When we turn left after the railroad tracks off Littlefield, we are on our way up the highest hill in Boxborough.

I think by the time we got to the top of the hill on Middle Rd, we had actually climbed a total of 400 feet. Not bad for a first ride at near-freezing temperatures. I doubt anyone noticed the cold going uphill. The glide down the other side on ???? Rd requires particular attention to sand and cynders. But before I realized it, I was already back on Rt 111, and headed back to the Holiday Inn. So was everyone else, and we finish in about an hour and 15 minutes or so.

Time to introduce all the newbies to pizza at DiCapri's Pizzeria and Restaurant back in West Acton. A good time was had by all! TNT-MA Walking Coach Ben Lavine, a frequent Tahoe team member and coach, met us there for some good eats, and told us he might join us for next week's ride.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why Am I Doing This?

I got involved with Team iN Training (TNT) back in January, 2007, about two years after I learned I had Type II diabetes. The condition is not terminal, but it is chronic, and I'll have it for the rest of my life. Taking care of Type II diabetes is a pain in the arse, but I knew if I stayed active enough through most of the year, I could probably keep the condition more or less stable with time.

I knew already that I liked to do long bike rides, and had been receiving LLS/TNT mailings every so often, inviting me to participate in a run, walk, triathlon, or century bike ride to fight leukemia and other blood cancers. I was pretty sure I could ride a 100-mile road course, but I wondered if I could bone up for the fund-raising well enough to get $4k together in contributions.

When I found from the Team in Training staff how to get started, I was off to the races. Since then I've expanded my circle of support, and am looking now to go further in fund-raising than I ever have each year I join the team. You can help.

Please contribute to my ride against blood cancers at Dale Graessle's Fundraising Page.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Back in business for 2009!

Hello to my readers!

I am back in the saddle for the 2009 America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride, and back to fund-raising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for a third straight year. Glad you've come (back) to my training blog, where I try to find something interesting to say every week, so I can tell everyone out there about our efforts to get in shape and stay positive through the middle of a New England winter for our June 7, 2009 trek around Lake Tahoe.

Best to get started with training week number 1. We used the Boston Sports Club at Watertown, MA. It's a great club, and judging from some of the clientele, you can get into some great shape using this lovely facility. Thanks to their management for allowing us use of their spinning room!

Saturday, Feb. 14: We logged a basic 45-minute routine, complete with sprints and three full climb simulations, which probably wasn't too bad for our new members, but was challenging enough for me in my state of winter indoors-inactivity. (I've kept busy with karate and some elliptical aerobics machines, but nothing like brisk spin classes.)

I'm also serving as a mentor this year, and got to meet with three of my five mentees while we were spinning. Good to see Pat and Joe, already veterans of the Mad River Valley Century Ride from August 2008, as well as meeting new mentee Lindsey, who is a veteran triathlete with TNT.

We are hoping we can get outside for the first time next week. Looks like there may be some heavy weather later this week...keep your fingers crossed!