Monday, April 15, 2013


Saturday, April 13, 2013.

As I pumped up my bike tires and loaded up my gear at 6:30am this morning, I shivered. Just two days ago the temps were in the 70's, this morning the thermostat revealed the temp was 38. Um...yeah. Today's high will only be 56. What the what?! Shorts and a tank two days ago, today cold weather gear. I was packing for a trip to the southern part of the state for some hill training with 25 of my closest cycling friends. Race season is on. The Bourbon Cycling Tour (2 days/150 hilly miles of fun) is next weekend and two weeks after that is the 3 State 3 Mountain Ride. One day, 100 miles, 3 mountains (yes mountains, not hills). Lots of climbing coming my way. I'm ready. At least, I think I am.

As an athlete, I have to train in all conditions. Sometimes it might be a ride in the wind and rain. Another day might be sunny with no wind. Other days, such as today it feels bitter cold. And this is good, as you never know what race day will bring. Be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.

The training ride we are taking part in today is the course of an annual event I have participated in called the Hilly Hundred, which is held every October. Today we are going to simulate the second day of The Hilly, which is a 49 mile route with three large climbs. One of them, Mt. Tabor is legendary for defeating many experienced cyclists. From the base of the hill, as you glance ahead the incline appears to be straight up. It's very challenging and a perfect training course for the big cycling events which will take place in the next few weeks.

I settle into my cadence and follow the bike in front of me. As a triathlete, I frequently train solo so I am enjoying the company of the other riders. Group rides have a completely different dynamic. Drafting is encouraged and you must be on high alert at all times. You never know what the rider in front of you will do.

As we progress through the ride the temperature is warming, but still very cool. We are riding primarily in the woods today, so the sun is blocked by the skeletal branches of the large trees. With each climb completed successfully my confidence is building. Achieving confidence is the goal of the training. When I capture that I can conquer anything.

Mt Tabor came and went, and it was a challenge as always.  Halfway to the top my legs were burning and the devil on my shoulder whispered "just stop and walk, who wants to suffer?" But I ignored him and pressed on slowly climbing all the way to the top. Everyone stopped and we regrouped catching our breath.  Mission accomplished!

As we finished the ride, the talk turned to next weekend and The Bourbon Cycling Tour. Most of us are participating in the event. It promises to be a blast. We will caravan south to Kentucky, spend the night in a hotel Friday, ride 100 miles on Saturday, camp out Saturday night, then ride 50 miles on Sunday. Did you catch that?  Camp out?  Do I hear snickers? Most people have laughed when I've described our lodging for the second night of the weekend. I must not have the appearance of someone who enjoys camping. Ah, but that is another layer to me...I love to camp. It's been quite awhile, and I'm looking forward to it.

Ha ha, no the accommodations will not be this. Will be very rustic, and I'm sharing a 4 person tent with 3 other women. Shall be interesting!

I've trained hard and now it will come down to my reliance upon my training, nutrition, equipment and mental preparedness. I am so excited for the season to begin!

We finished the ride, and spent some time chatting as we repacked our gear. The cycling community is amazing and I am very grateful for the friends I have made. Every ride is different and provides an opportunity to meet new people and learn about the sport I love. Today was no exception.

Good stuff.  Here we go!


  1. The weather here's been crazy, too...80's last week, and so humid that I had to turn on the A/C, and today, it's a damp, chilly 63 degrees. Sounds like you are more than prepared for The Hilly, The Bourbon Cycling Tour, and whatever other rides that are coming your way. You'll have to write a post about your camp-out; that's gonna be interesting!

    1. You know it Kris! It will be an interesting weekend :)

  2. When I was a teenager, I had an ordinary bicycle but it was sleek and red and spanking new. I restricted mostly to pitch roads and occasional dirt tracks but I pedaled away long, long distances, at times over 50 miles a day. I know how it feels when you are tired.

    Moving in a group has certainly its own dynamics. I am happy for the adventure you are booked for.

    1. Didn't you just feel sometimes that you would never stop? I love that feeling :)

  3. Wow Michelle. You are a very inspirational athlete and I really commend you for your great mental attitude!!

    1. Thanks Penny! I'm a work in (mental) progress! lol

  4. One thing for sure Michelle, is that you are a very determined and focused young woman. You put so much training and hard work into this and you never give up. In fact you just continue to push yourself and excel. I'm sure you had great fun sharing your space with 3 others, but it's good to get to know new people and share your experiences and tips at events like this.

  5. `The Bourbon Cycling Tour'. Mmm sounds good.

    Being in a real cycling area - Melbourne Bayside, and flat - it's often struck me how social that sport is, as opposed to running. A sport that seems to promote group participation.
    Cheers, ic