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Posts Tagged ‘bike’

I got a great birthday package from Sara with an awesome workout gift…and after a month of half-iron training, I could use a little boost! Sara sent me an awesome SweatyBand for my hair. She included a sticky note telling me it would not budge, even on ‘our’ super fine hair. I tried it out while I was on my bike trainer and it really didn’t move. Then I sported the orange, yellow, and red band during a run; again, no slipping at all.

Zoe thinks I'm beautiful in my SweatyBand!

The bands are made of ribbon with a velvet-y backing and elastic that goes under the base of your head for a comfortable fit. I’m going to have to stock up on these, because I love wearing headbands during workouts to keep my hair off my face. Testimonials on the SweatyBands.com website include a girl whose band stayed in place even when she took a helmet on and off! Amazing.

– albledsoe

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Your confidence level should be high right now. Really high.

My spin instructor this morning was giving us a way to gauge our ride, about 2/3 of the way through.’ Hmmm,’ I thought, ‘My confidence level is really high. Okay, bring it!’ Amazing how his words made me realize I actually did feel pretty good and was ready to amp up the intensity.

If you’re going to hang out at this level, that’s a perfectly sane and reasonable choice. Or, if you’re feeling strong, go for it and really take it all the way.

His euphemistic way of daring me to give a little more and not be a baby worked; I increased my resistance, sped up my cadence, and mopped the sweat off my brow.

This is when it starts burning.

Oh, okay. I’m supposed to be feeling that. In that case…

You can hang out here if you’re taking it easy today. But if you’re ready to go for it, take it all the way and just getcha some!

After class I wiped off my bike, layered my coat and sweats on over my bike shorts, and trudged through the dark snowy parking lot to my car, but all day long all I can think is “Getcha some!” Like I have the power to take on the day and get whatever I want from it. And don’t I?

– albledsoe

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Once we retrieved Valerie’s missing tire from the offending team and reassembled her bike, we were ready to set out for checkpoint (CP) No. 1 of the NSAAR! Rough start aside, we were still pretty excited and anxious to make up the lost time. The first bike leg took us out of Jameson Camp and through several neighborhoods, then down to a mall.

Some of the CPs were manned, and the staffer or volunteer would initial or punch our “passport” sheet. Others would be unmanned, but we’d have to answer a question from our clue sheet to prove we were there. Things like: Is the sidewalk on the N, S, E, or W of the intersection of such-and-such streets? How many light poles are between this street and this street? One of the clues really threw us off, because it gave us an intersection to locate and asked us to give the name of the company on the large blue sign at the NW corner of the intersection. Well, there was a solitary giant GREEN Prologis sign at that corner. We looked around, double-checked the compass, checked further down the street, and scratched our heads for several minutes (several other teams came along meanwhile doing the same). We finally determined it was a trick question, and our official answer for that CP was: No Blue Sign.

As a team, the Smarty Panties finally figured out how to coordinate three women on bicycles with a clue sheet, maps, compass, and passport/pen between us. It took some trial and error (and trust among partners!), but we finally settled in to a comfortable system just in time to jump into a canoe and right out of our comfort zone!

Valerie checks her gear at the transition area

Valerie checks her gear at the transition area

Gear was an issue the entire day, though I think we did exceptionally well for complete newcomers. Leaving our bikes on a creek bank and getting into the canoe was interesting; I think we’d been expecting these types of transitions to happen in the transition area (right?). That wasn’t the case. You pretty much keep all your crap with you all the time (backpack, helmet, shoes, food, pocketknife, duct tape, etc.). Getting into the canoe, our biggest concern was our backpacks. There was already water in the bottom of the canoe, and we didn’t want everything soaked. I wore my pack, and was able to keep Valerie and Marcia’s packs on my feet since I was in the middle. Valerie took the front position and Marcia steered from the back.

All of the Smarty Panties had some canoe experience, but these canoes and the creek we were in still proved to be the most difficult event of the day. We assumed it would be a chance to relax, eat and drink, review maps/clues, and gather ourselves for the next portion of the race. That assumption is pretty hilarious in hindsight, because we spent the entire time in the canoe (which was wobbly, yellow, and plastic, much like a Fisher Price toddler toy) stressed and frazzled, trying not to tip over and carrying the thing through areas that were too shallow to paddle through. We were one of the few teams that managed to not end up tipping, which helped us have a better rest of the day.

We had a small orienteering course in another park at the end of the canoe debacle, followed by a LONG walk back to our bikes. This trek included some bushwhacking, but I think we probably could have avoided that. Oh well, we felt very adventurous hiking through the weeds, and finally did make it back to the bikes (we even went over/under a chain link fence…quite Rambo of us, huh?).

Team Smarty Panties: Valerie, Amanda, Marcia

Team Smarty Panties: Valerie, Amanda, Marcia

The last bike portion was simple now that we’d mastered our system (and safety-pinned the strap of my backpack together after it broke), and we were soon back at the camp, where we received another map outlining a ropes/team-building course and another orienteering course. We completed several of the team-building challenges (one point for each team member that completed it), but the lines were very long, so we decided to tackle as many of the orienteering CPs as possible in the hour or so we had left. [Teams that finished after the 6-hour race deadline were penalized for every minute they were late.]

The weather ended up being perfect most of the day; sunny and clear, but cool enough that we weren’t overheated running around with backpacks and long pants.

We finished about 30 minutes before the deadline, the fourth team to cross the finish line. I was so proud of our team, we came in with no idea what to expect, and when we faced a problem, we made it work. Valerie, Marcia, and I were all happy with our finish, especially that we finished DRY, and are ready to come back next year armed with experience, lessons learned (like the importance of a better backpack), and great attitudes!

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Adventure Race Day! It was very exciting to finally be starting the NSAAR. It was a cold morning–I believe high 30s–but in all the hustle and bustle we stayed pretty warm. My team grabbed a prime spot in the transition area near a tree. Easy to spot, built in bike rack!

An adventure race bike rack

An adventure race bike rack

If you’ve done triathlons, the transition area for an adventure race would crack you up. It’s really just a marked off area where you stake your claim to piece of ground. No bike racks, nothing marked by your number. We had large garbage bags to mark our spots. I was glad we didn’t have to throw our bikes on the ground, but that’s what most teams did, and I guess it wouldn’t have been that big a deal.

We were given the maps and clue sheets one hour before the 8 a.m. start. We immediately began marking out our first few steps. It was a bit confusing, because there were several maps (we were expecting just one). Now we know!

All along, we’d been wondering how the event planners manage to keep everyone from just following each other the whole time. Did you get different clue sheets so you visited checkpoints in a different order? We’d heard from repeat racers that sometimes you start in the canoe, which naturally separates teams, or they’ll do a running challenge to spread out the pack. Ours was a hide-and-seek! The race director announced that one person from each team would take a tire of their bike to be hidden by the race staff. Tricky! Before the race began, they revealed that the tires (which had been marked with tape and the team number) were at “the barn.” So our challenge was to locate the barn on the map, run as a team to retrieve the tire, put it back on the bike and have it inspected by race staff, and THEN begin the race.

Marcia studies the clue sheet before the race

Marcia studies the clue sheet before the race

Team Smarty Panties made it to the barn pretty quickly, especially Marcia, who is tall, leggy, and pretty quick. All three of us had laid eyes on every tire there, and none was ours. Um? We had to wait until every single team had retrieved their tires and only one was left, and we finally realized another team had grabbed our tire instead of their own. So we immediately began the race in last place, and a little wary of how the rest of the day would go…

– albledsoe

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After about two months of training, team meetings, and gathering supplies, the day of my first adventure race was here. Although we had very little idea of what to expect (despite our best attempts to weasel information out of the race coordinators via e-mail), my Smarty Panties teammates and I practiced our mountain biking and orienteering and prepared as best we could to take on a brand new challenge. We were only slightly concerned about what exactly bushwhacking is, and what we might need precisely 3 yards of duct tape for.

The No Skirts Allowed Adventure Race (NSAAR) is held outside Indianapolis and is for women only. This was the third year for the event, and it doubled in size from 2008. The 2010 race is already scheduled for October 9 “somewhere northeast of Indy,” so check it out if you’re interested.

Departing Louisville for NSAAR

Departing Louisville for NSAAR

We arrived at Jameson Camp on Friday night in the pouring rain, and checked into some pretty nice cabins (I grabbed a top bunk, as always), and then headed to the nicest campground lodge I’ve ever seen for registration and meetings. As the women congregated, the buzz and excitement grew, and I almost forgot I’d been sick all week. The event staff remained quite adept at dodging our questions and left us clueless about any details of the race. We did have a required ropes clinic, where we learned fun tidbits like “if you see red (on the harness buckle), you’re dead.” The group was amazingly attentive during that session…

My Smarty Panties team of Marcia and Valerie were joined in the cabin by four other ladies from Louisville, most of whom know Marcia and her husband through their Rogue Racing Project. More on that (very cool) topic another day. We were all bunked in the same room, and spent the night trying to set out all our supplies and make sure each individual and each team had all the required gear. Luckily, everything worked out and we were all good to go with few complications. Bags were packed for the following day, clothes were set out, food and water were gathered, and we settled into our bunks.

NOTE: Trying to figure out the concept of 3 yards of duct tape and how that would work? Some smart gal figured out to wrap it around a water bottle!

None of the seven of us had any adventure racing experience, so there was a lot of unknown. Luckily, the forecast was clear for Saturday, and we were prepared to have fun, learn some new things, and, if all went well, spend as little time bushwhacking as possible!

– albledsoe

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