Tag Archives: cycling hill repeats

I love my new speed coach!

My husband is a former bicycle racer who competed in Northern Nevada and California races. He still rides almost daily and he rides at a much higher pace than me. On Saturday, July 16, our 10-year-old son left for a week at a mountain lake cabin with his best friend’s family. I asked Stan if he wanted to go for a ride with me. He said yes but also said he would want to go for a workout ride later. I said, maybe we could find a ride where we could both get a workout, like a ride with a good long climb. He suggested Geiger Grade. The last time I climbed Geiger Grade leaving from home was 2 years ago when I was training for my first Ride to Defeat ALS and it nearly killed me! It’s about 40 miles round trip, with about 3000 feet of climbing. But I’m in better shape this year so I was game.

As we rode through the valley toward Geiger Grade (the road to Virginia City), Stan worked with me to try to get me to draft behind him. I have not learned drafting techniques before and I don’t really like riding right behind someone so I can’t see the road in front of me. When we started the climb, Stan worked with me on shifting up and down according to how I can sustain my pace as the gradient changes and as the wind shifted to and from a tail wind. I always used to just grind up hills in the easiest gear. He was still much faster than me and he would zoom ahead doing speed intervals and then he’d ride back down to meet me. When we got up to the false summit at the Virginia City Highlands turnoff, Stan decided to head back. I had never gone beyond this point but I felt great and for once I didn’t have to get back to pick up my son so I continued on to the summit.

It was a very windy descent and I had to stop to rest both at the Highlands turnoff and at the Scenic Overlook. When I got back down to the valley, I had to think of a way home with minimal climbing, since I was pretty beat. I ended up going over the Double R hill to AirCenter Parkway. I had to climb that hill but then got a nice high-speed descent as a reward. From AirCenter I turned on Meadowood Mall Way to Neil, thinking I would ride home on McCarran. But McCarran was all torn up for repaving so I continued on to Peckham. Then I only had to climb the hill to my house. After 3.5 hours of riding I was really glad to be done!

I used some of my speed coach’s tips when I did my hill repeats the following Thursday. Using MyTracks on my Droid phone, I was able to compare my speed and time to the week before. For the same distance each Thursday, the new techniques let me finish 7 minutes sooner and my average moving speed increased from 9.66 mph to 10.55 mph!  Oh yeah! Anything that can help me finish century rides sooner is a good thing!

Sign in for the Ride for RAVE at Sports West. Indoor spinning was an option too.

My speed coach rode with me again last Saturday in the Ride for RAVE. RAVE provides respite babysitting for parents of special needs kids, as well as volunteer experience for high school kids who provide the babysitting. We had used RAVE babysitting when our son was a baby. He was a preemie and had special feeding needs. The ride left from Sports West Athletic Club (where I work out) and the route was our tried and true favorite Verdi Loop. We rode at a high pace for me (our average moving speed was 16 mph). Stan kept urging me to ride closer to him. The pace was slow for him but since he pulled the whole time mostly into a head wind, he was happy with his workout. We ended up being the first to finish – a new experience for me! The ride had a great rest stop on Bridge Street in Verdi, and a really great buffet brunch after the ride.

The Bridge Street rest stop in Verdi

After the ride we went home and watched the Tour de France Time Trial which we had recorded. Then there was just enough time to shower before going to pick up our son, home from the mountain cabin.


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Mom turns Bike to School into 29 mile ride!

It’s Bike to Work and School Week and while Dad has done a stellar job of bike commuting all week, no matter what the weather, my son and I had to wait until a day with sunshine and no before school commitments. Today was the day!

Finally a nice day to Bike to School

The temperature was 48 F when we left home. But since it’s all uphill to school, and a decent climb at that, my son soon stopped to take off his sweatshirt.

It's uphill all the way

 When his school bus passed us, we had an idea of the time. At the last stop sign before school, we heard the first bell. By the time he got his bike all locked up, he was a little late. We’ll have to leave earlier next time.

It's nice to see a couple other bikes in the rack today.

After my son went into school, I headed down Caughlin Parkway to Plateau, then headed out to Verdi to do the Verdi Loop. It was a beautiful morning and lots of other riders were out. One of the things I love about bike riding is that you see so many things you never would see otherwise.

It's not every day you see highway patrol has pulled over a helicopter!

  On the way back home, I decided to ride through the construction on Mayberry, between McCarran and Hunter Lake, to see how bad it is for riding. Traffic is reduced to one lane in each direction. The eastbound lane is very wide with plenty of room to bike, except for one short span of about 100 ft. where bicycles have to ride in the traffic lane. Going westbound, you’d have to be in the traffic lane the whole time. My whole ride was two and a half hours and 29 miles.

Since my last post, I have been diligent about Thursday morning hill repeats. Yesterday, there were some cable company guys working on my street the whole time I did repeats. On my fourth climb past them, one of them said, “Are you looking for the Amgen Tour of California?” I didn’t tell him that right then (the steepest part of my climb) I was thinking about Andy Schlek’s and Chris Horner‘s legs on the Sierra Road climb the day before.

Last Saturday, I tried the new Carmichael trainer workout from the 2010 Tour of California. It’s a good workout with lots of race footage from last year’s race.

Three days before the Tour of California was supposed to start, three members of the Garmin-Cervelo team visited our local REI store. We got a nice autographed poster and a chance to chat with three professionals.

My son with Christian Vande Velde, Dan Martin, and Andrew Talansky of Team Garmin-Cervelo

 I headed back up the hill to meet my son for the fast downhill home after school. The temperature was 70 F,  the downhill slide was sweet, and it’s Friday!

Another successful Bike to School Week



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A Perfect Bike Fit

When I was riding a week and a half ago, a guy pedaled past me and said, “You should get your bike fit. Your seat doesn’t look right.” Thanks, whoever that was, because I got my bike fit and now it feels like it was made for me. I googled bike fit and found several different websites that told how to do it. My husband was going to help me but his schedule didn’t allow any time. So I called VeloReno and made an appointment with Rich Paul.

Rich had just returned from the Trek Bike Fit School, so he was all set with all the latest knowledge. He first had me lay down on a mat and he lifted my straight legs, one at a time until my pelvis tilted. Then  he pushed up on my bent legs until my pelvis tilted. This was to see if I had any limitations to normal pedal stroking. He measured my inseam by having me place a book between my legs and marking the height of the top of the book on the wall, then measuring from the floor. He also had me march in place and stop to see how my feet naturally align.  

He had me hop on my bike and saw where my hands were placed on the handlebar. I was not able to comfortably have my hands on the horns, but rather farther back. He measured my knee versus my shoe with a plumb line and my heel vs my toe at various pedal orientations.

I ended up with a seat adjustment forward and down, and shorter stem, and new women’s handlebars. Today was my first ride with the new setup and I was amazed at how comfortable my bike is now! I did my hill repeats which is my favorite Thursday morning workout. I had to dress in my shoe covers and skull-cap and full gloves because it was in the high 30s/low 40s. The high temperature was forecast to be near 60, but I had to ride in the morning before it warmed much. I did 4 10-minute climbs.

For any Reno area riders thinking about a bike fit, I highly recommend Rich Paul at VeloReno. He did an excellent job on my bike fit and he’s a really nice guy too.

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stung on the tongue!

Today I did my hill repeats, up and down Manzanita four times. On the second to last downhill I got stung on the tongue by a yellow jacket or a honey bee. (Yes I was descending with my mouth open, my allergies make it hard to breathe through my nose when I’m riding).  I had to spit it out and then I got a bitter taste on my tongue that I had to scrape off on my glove. As I climbed the hill two more times the front left of my tongue began to swell up. I wanted to finish my workout but I was also wondering how much it was going to swell. I did finish and went home and took my shower. By about 45 minutes after the sting the swelling had gone down. Now my tongue is not swollen or sore but it does feel a little irritated. 

It felt good to get back on the bike and it feels good to be writing about it again. I have had some great ride over the past few weeks – like the climb up old Highway 40 from Donner Lake to Donner Summit. I did it with my friend Tracy and unfortunately it was a day with a really strong and kind of chilly west wind. There was a beautiful view of Donner Lake from the top. 

Tracy looks down above Donner Lake, whence we came


Taking a break above Donner Lake after the blustery climb


 After the overlook we climbed to the summit, which was a howling dust storm of wind. We rode down to Kingvale and decided to turn back because of the wind and because we didn’t want to miss the food at our husbands’ company picnic at the West End of Donner Lake. Tracy called her husband Jeff and he came and picked us up just above Soda Springs. 

In the last few weeks I have also ventured back out on my bike after seeing a mountain lion and lots of tracks. I wear my knife clipped to the waistband of my cycling shorts and I don’t even notice it’s there. 

I had a fun ride with my neighbor Amanda. She is a triathlete, and only about 20 years younger than me. But we have kids who play together and we had a lot to talk about as we rode. She loves to climb like I do. 

Over Labor Day weekend I went on a couple of mountain bike rides. One by myself and I tried to climb the steep hill on the way to our friends’ property where we were camping. I couldn’t do it. More judicious shifting and more practice on my mountain bike and maybe I’ll be able to do it Memorial Day. I rode a loop ride around the meadow and the mountain with Debra and the rocky dirt road we had to ride up from the west was intimidating me. It had been a few years since I tried it, and I hated it back then. All the road biking I have done over the last year helped my mountain bike handling, not to mention all the climbing I did all summer. That dirt road was easy this time!


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To Blog or To Ride, that is the question

When you blog about riding, to blog or to ride is the question and my answer is RIDE, because by 82 mile Ride to Defeat ALS is only 3 weeks away! It has been hard to find the time to write blog posts the last few days, but I have had some great rides and I attended a great Bicycle/Pedestrian workshop put on by the Regional Transportation Commission.

First the rides: Thursday was my hill repeat day and I had to do them midday, which was pretty hot (upper 80s F) but not the hottest I’ve done them in. The heat did sap my strength pretty quickly and the 4th repeat was much slower than the first. There were some clouds but very scattered so I only got about 1 minute of cloud cover on the entire ride.

not much shade provided by these clouds!

For Friday’s ride I met Lynne at Roy Gomm and we decided to ride to Verdi and do the Belli Loop. I had heard that the dirt road back to Mogul had been pretty washed out by a large thunderstorm earlier in the week, so I wanted to check it out. It was fun to ride with Lynne on her last day of vacation! Too bad she has to go back to work Monday! When we got to the dirt road, we decided to walk our bikes because their was more gravel than the two earlier times I had ridden that road. We headed back toward Reno, and it would have been nice to climb up to Somersett but my time was limited because I had to pick up my son. So we just headed back on Mayberry to Roy Gomm and then I rode home.

For today’s ride, I decided to copy the ride my husband did earlier in the day. I rode south, and it turns out mid afternoon on Sunday was a very nice time to be riding on Lakeside south of Windy Hill – not much traffic. I wound my way south to Thomas Creek, Foothill, Broili, Zolezzi, and Thomas Creek again and took that to Mt. Rose Highway, and rode up to Timberline. That gave me a total of over 2000 ft of climbing for the ride. On the way back, I saw muddy mountain lion tracks again, this time crossing Holcomb just east of the turn onto Lakeside.

Thursday night I attended the RTC Reno Sparks Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan Open House and Public Workshop.

RTC Reno Sparks Bicycle &Pedestrian Plan Open House/Public Workshop

It was a cool event because they had large maps and sharpies we could use to mark the streets we ride on. There were many young planners on hand to listen to cyclists concerns and answer questions.

The workshop - large maps on the tables, informative posters

I made sure they knew about the safety issue in Lemmon Valley where Kevin Albertson was killed while cycling – where the road narrows to two lanes with no shoulder from four lanes with a shoulder bike lane. I also asked about the California and Keystone intersection where the bike lane disappears for about a quarter of a mile. I was told they are considering different options, and the most likely is a shared lane with green colored pavement. I also marked all the roads I ride regularly. They were not aware of the high use of Lakeside/Holcomb/Thomas Creek/Foothill etc. for cycling through southwest Reno. I also requested a bike lane on Plumb and on Hunter Lake between Plumb and Mayberry. And at my husband’s request, I marked the need for  a bike lane on Vista over I-80 for his lunch time rides.

Bikeway Types

Treatments to make intersections more bike friendly

Long term bicycle parking

Short term bicycle parking

Other enhancements for bicycling

More enhancements for bicycling

It was great to be at an event where they wanted us to shoot for the moon and ask for every bicycling enhancement we could imagine. There is no way they will all be implemented, but it was refreshing to even have them considered. It is nice to see that the Regional Transportation Commission is planning for the rise in popularity of bicycling which is bound to continue for years to come. You can add your own comments about what’s needed to improve bicycling in the Reno/Sparks area at www.renosparksbpp.com.

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Hill Repeats with a Puzzle

After a chilly day off yesterday I got back on my bike this morning for my weekly hill repeats. Reno is in the Great Basin Desert and our daily temperature range from high to low is usually about 40 degrees. This time of year, if you leave on an early morning ride and expect to ride long you will want to wear layers. The temperature was in the mid 50s (F) when I left home. I have a big downhill early in the ride and it was chilly even with my windbreaker, short sleeve jersey, shorts. After my warmup, I began my hill repeats on Manzanita Lane. I did the first two without any remarkable events. Then when I shifted after I turned around at the bottom to go up again, my chain came off. It was so amazingly tangled it reminded me of one of those metal puzzles that you have to take apart. 

Chain Puzzle

 It took a while to get it unstuck and back in order. And I got nice dirty hands: 

Chain grease - I need some Fast Orange hand cleaner

Since I was time limited, after the unexpected puzzle, I decided to do one more climb and end my workout after 3 repeats. It had warmed significantly and I took off my windbreaker. I would no longer need it, even on the downhill.  I snapped some photos on the way back down, since I promised photos of the top half of my hill repeat course: 

Looking down Manzanita Lane near my turnaround point

View of downtown Reno from Manzanita Lane

Manzanita Lane roundabout

Looking down the street toward the flat area in the middle of my hill climbs

 Manzanita Lane is not one continuous climb. It has steep climbs interspersed with relatively flat areas, such as the roundabout area. There is an extensive flat area in the middle of my hill climb route. There was a seismic survey done on this street recently and it found a fault associated with the extensive flat area. This explains the steep climb up to the flat area. 

It’s a big bike weekend here in the Reno area. The Tour de Nez begins tonight with a pro time trial as well as a handcycle competition. Tomorrow night has pro criteriums as well as a kid race (my son is training) and a bike messenger race. Then the Tour moves up to Northstar Ski Resort on Saturday. I will attend tonight and tomorrow night and report back.

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Droid My Tracks for Cycling Hill Repeats

Today I rode 15 minutes of warmup before my hill repeats. On the warmup I got a chance to experiment with traffic signal triggers. At Greensboro and McCarran I rode right where car wheels would be and the signal changed immediately and then was yellow before I barely got started. But it seemed like the loop detected me. I’ll have to try it a few more times. Then I rode down McCarran to Plumas and south on Plumas to the dead-end and then back north to my street. At Plumas and South McCarran, for the first time ever, there were no northbound cars to trigger the light. I was in the bike lane and I sat through two cycles and was just about to move over to the driving lane when a car came to turn left and the light was triggered. That’s another one I’ll have to experiment with. There was too much traffic in the three other directions to run the light.

I did my hill repeats on my street. It’s a good climb with a little level area in the middle which  is where my house is.

The view up my street at the start of my hill repeats

The climb a little farther up the street

Photos rarely do justice to the steepness of the ride. But it definitely is a good workout. I will have photos of the upper part of the climb the next time I do it. I do 4 X 10 minutes seated hill climb with recovery on the way back down. It made a pretty Droid My Tracks output screen:

My Tracks on my Droid with my hill repeat workout data

The nice thing about this data is that I can use this as a baseline and compare future workouts. Since I climb for 10 minutes, starting from the same speed bump every time, max elevation is one indicator of my fitness (today 4,853 ft) as well as average speed (9.12 mph). Since I’m working on being faster downhill, max speed should increase over time too! (today 29.58 mph). My total distance was 11.79 miles and total elevation gain was 1,469 ft.

On the graph, blue is speed and green is elevation. You can see the effects of the relatively level area in the middle of the climb.

I sent it to google docs and google maps, so it will be easy to compare future hill repeat workouts!

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