Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ride Grub

The thing about reaching one goal is that I've become thirsty for more, so my next goal is.....my first century ride. That would be 100km (I'm Canadian, we work in kilometers, deal with it). I want to do this on the Thanksgiving weekend, so that would be October 11th. I've thought this through, and I think riding 100km to my Grandparent house for dinner is perfect for one reason. There will be pie waiting for me....and plenty of it!

In order to succeed at this I need to keep training, and since my long rides will be that much longer I figured I would need a bad ass granola bar to get me though them. You can find the original recipe here, I have altered it a bit to look more like a Nigella Lawson recipe I have but cannot find.

Line a 9x13 pan with foil or parchment paper and spray liberally with your brand of Pam.
In a small saucepan slowly heat 1 can of sweetened condensed milk and 2 tablespoons of butter until the butter is almost melted, then take it off the heat.
In a large bowl combine 3 cups rolled oats, 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup dried apricots (chopped), 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 1 cup shredded coconut and 1 cup peanuts (salted or unsalted...whatever floats your boat)
Pour the warm condensed milk into the oat mixture and stir until well coated.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and squoosh it down until the top is level and the mixture is compact. I put some plastic wrap on top so my hands don't get all sticky. (I'm a delicate flower, I know)

Pop those suckers into a 250 degree oven for about 45-50 minutes, until the tops are light brown and your house smells amazing. Let cool for about 15 minutes, lift the bars out of the pan, cut, then let cool completely. You will never look at the store bought ones quite the same again.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ain't Nothing Gonna Break my Stride....

I have to admit that the week before the bike tour I was a little nervous. Okay, a lot nervous. I was shitting myself actually. I knew no matter how nervous I got I would be okay once I started to pedal. And I was. The only thing that really pissed me off was that I forgot my regular riding pants at home and had to ride in my pajama pants. Such is life I guess, I still got the job done.

The girls and I the morning I left

My time goal for the first day was four hours, that meant I had to keep an average speed of 20km/hr. The first 57km was actually pretty easy, it was after that that my butt started to hurt and my legs started to get tired. I don't think I ate enough for lunch either so I started to feel a little worn down. I was on my own for most of the ride, occasionally chatting with people I was passing, or those who were passing me. I saw a Hutterite couple riding together, she in a long dress and sandals, he in black pants and a short sleeved plaid shirt. I also saw a younger guy riding in jean shorts, a wife beater and flip flops, along with cyclists whose outfits matched their bike. I think that's why I had such a good time, there were riders of all levels and most were really nice and very supportive.

But back to the ride. Like I said, I felt good for the most part, even though it rained constantly. I drank lots of water and ate many bananas. While kilometers 58-75 were more difficult, it was the last 10 that were really tough. I was tired and hungry and my motivation was starting to wane. I was fighting the need to vomit and it was all around unpleasant. Luckily I got to Gimli just in time, got off my bike and got some food and water into me, which picked me up. I completed the first leg in 4 hours and 15 minutes with an average speed of 20.1 km. I was sore, so sore in fact that I wasn't sure if I would feel well enough to ride the next day.

One of the many lessons learned is that Tylenol is magic. I popped a couple, stretched and felt great after a good nights sleep. I was ready to go the next day, but this day was much harder on me. I had a dull headache so I mixed gatorade with my water and put some extra granola bars in my handy dandy jersey pouch. By kilometer 35 I was starting to get tired, and I knew the second half of the ride would be very challenging. I tried to combat this by taking a longer (and larger) lunch break. I sat with a couple women who had seen me say goodbye to the girls the day before. They made me feel better about my progress by calling me a machine and saying they were impressed by how consistent I was. This compliment gave me a bit of a second wind, and while I was in a lot more pain then the previous day, I was able to stay positive and fight though it. I also knew that those last 10 km were going to be hard again, so I spent most of this time talking myself up for them.

Self portrait.

The nice thing about the ride back is that most of the cyclists seem to want to chat, and when they passed me they would say something to pump me up, so I did the same when I passed people as well. I was still wet from the rain in the morning, so I was really uncomfortable and my butt really hurt. The only time I actually considered giving up and pulling over was in the last 4 km. I was just so tired and my legs, arms, shoulders and back were so sore I could not imagine going on. But I followed Lindsay's advice and told myself to do one more stroke, then another, then another until I was in Stonewall. There was a volunteer who said "Welcome to Stonewall!" and I said "I grew up here, and Stonewall has never been so beautiful." I then started to cry....again. I continued to cry up Main Street toward the finish line and through it. I was done in 4 hours and 20 minutes with an average speed of 19.8km/hr. I could not believe I had done it. I knew in theory I could probably do it, but the reality of what my body can do when asked has become apparent. I now need to figure out what to do with this new found knowledge.

Special thanks go out to Colleen and Jim, who housed and took care of me in Gimli, Jen P for all the advice and Lindsay Menard, a bike tour veteran who answered all my questions, was my inspiration to ride and is one of the strongest women I know. One day my Auntie DD gave me a hug and said "You've worked so hard Cara, go ride that bike." I did Auntie DD, I rode the hell out of that bike.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Scary in There

I know I have been remise in posting, but that is what spending a month and a half driving across the country and building sandcastles will get you. I have, however, still been riding. I have to, the bike tour is in a week and a half, but I would rather not think about that right now.

I was reading the handbook for the tour a while ago and I noticed riders are not allowed to listen to music on the ride. At first I was horrified, how would I be able to ride for hours with only the thoughts in my head!! I asked a couple people about it and they said they sneak their iPod along, because no one wants to be trapped for hours with only what's in their head to keep them company.

Then I started to train, and I have not worn any listening device on any of my outdoor rides, and, as it turns out, I like it. I use the hours on my bike to organize, encourage, write stupid poems, and dream. I spend most of my time dreaming, figuring out how I'm going to do all those things I want to. Folks, it can get scary up there in my head, but once you spend a few hours up there and get comfortable, it's not so bad. Plus, on the day of the tour I'll have my sore ass to distract me.