GranFondo Training Starts NOW!

With my spring marathon complete, my attention is back on the bike (this time outdoors) and I’m excited to kick of my GranFondo training in style. (Wondering what the heck is GranFondo – click here!)

Last weekend was my first road ride this year and dang was it cold! Luckily I have friends who are just as crazy excited about cycling and had some great company on route!

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As I’ve previously shared, GranFondo will be my longest bike race ever, and while I’m a little nervous (maybe a lot) I’m excited to begin the journey. In order to support rookie riders like myself (well all riders) GranFondo has created two training programs to help everyone get prepared. They have a 20 week program which I’ll be following, as well as a 16 week program available. By using these programs, I’m not just looking to increase my time in the saddle, i’m also hoping to gain a little confidence on the bike and for the big day, and of course have some fun!

Also to support their riders, GranFondo has collaborated with Share the Road Cycling Coalition for a series of charity cycling events throughout Ontario.  The first event is Spin the Lakes on May 25th in Huntsville and Wheels for Wellness Ride on June 14/15 in Ottawa. They also have some family friendly rides race weekend, as well as a ton of other great pre and post race events (like yoga for cyclists!). So if you’re looking to get in gear, start training for this great cycling adventure!

Oh – and I mentioned training in “style” – big thanks to lululemon for this fabulous cycling kit! Yeah flower power! Available online or at the Queen St store here in Toronto!

luluPicture from lululemon.com depicts short sleeve jersey and bib shorts.

My Top 5 Items Needed for a Long Ride

The snow has melted, my bike is finally out of storage (and tuned) and starting this week I’ll be taking my GranFondo Niagara Falls training from the studio and out onto the road.What the heck is GranFondo – click here!

While I never ride alone (I have a great network of very active and very motivational – and often as fitness crazy- friends) I like to be self-reliant and bring everything I need with me.

When I first started riding and racing last year I purchased this little pouch which fits under my seat (got it at MEC) and it has been serving me well every since. So, beyond my helmet, reflection/lights, and sunglasses, here are my top 5 items I never ride without!

1. Spare Tube and Tire Levers.

On my first group ride last year I learned from the experience of my friend Vince, that not only should you have an extra tire, you should also know how to inflate it (thanks for the lesson Travis!). And so I quickly went home and watch the YouTube video below and never leave home without them!

2. CO2/Pump.

I use CO2 canisters because I can never seem to inflate my tires enough with a pump and they just work for me. They are small enough to fit in my pouch and very convenient.  Just be sure the nozzles are closed when you puncture the canister – but you’ll likely only ever do that once.

3. Hydration/Fuel.

As the GranFondo is 125km, hydration and fuel is key. My recent running training has had me transition to Vega (VegaSport) which is a plant based nutrition vs many of the more chemical and unnatural fuels out there. For my marathon training I use the Pre-Workout Energizer, for during the Endurance Gel and Endurance Bar, and Recovery Accelerator and Protein Bar for post workout and look forward to see how this will transition to the bike.  I suggest starting with the bars for during and post and the pre workout drink crystals if you’re looking for convenience and good taste.

4. Cell Phone.

And no NOT so you can plug in your headphones and listen to music. That would be on my NEVER list of things to do (very unsafe as you can’t hear what’s happening around you). I’m suggesting using the cell phone in case you or someone along your route runs into trouble. Knowing you can make the call for help certainly brings piece of mind. Whether it’s an ambulance or cab, being able to make that call will make things easy and get you or others help quicker. Also consider adding an ICE contact – that’s “In Case of Emergency”. That way if something does happen to you, a stranger can help you out.

5. Cards.

Pick a card, any card! I’m taking about identification and credit cards. ALWAYS carry ID, if anything should ever happen to you, this will help others identify who you are. Credit cards can be used to cover a mid ride refuel or that cab ride in case of a bike mishap. I’ve also heard of people carrying bills to place inside their split tire. If laid along the split it can keep the tube from bulging out too badly until it can be repaired – now I’ve never had to try this, but it sounds like it might work (especially with our new plasticy bills).

 Some of My Top 5

Now all these items are great, but if you don’t know how to change your tube, your greatest bike adventure will come to a halt. So I suggest before hitting the road watch a YouTube video and practice in the comfort of your own house. A stress free environment will certainly set you up for success if you ever need to do a quick change on the road or during a race.

Did I leave something off that you bring to make your ride safer, more comfortable or more convenient? If so, add it to the comments!

What the heck is Gran Fondo?

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That was exactly what I was wondering last month when I received an email asking if I’d consider being a blog ambassador for the inaugural Niagara Falls “mass participation cycling event.”

The answer:  “Loosely translated from Italian, gran fondo means ‘big ride’.”

I did a little recon and after reading about how scenic this 125km ride would be, the route starts and finishes at the falls, and hits the “world-renowned Niagara Parkway in a cycling express lane on closed roads from the downtown corridor, through Niagara-On-The-Lake, its acclaimed wine country, and the idyllic countryside of the Niagara Region and Niagara Escarpment including the winding rollers around the Short Hills Provincial Park” I thought why not! And immediately text my sister and cycling obsessed friend Vince to see if they’d join me.

I agreed to this exciting opportunity, immediately realized I had committed to riding 125km, had a mild panic attack, and then received another email identifying that I would be bringing the perspective of a fitness enthusiast and not pro rider – phew! Now that was something I could handle.

So for the time being I am continuing to teach three indoor cycling classes a week as my unofficial training (amongst my spring marathon training) and once May hits, will start my outdoor training using the races 20 week training plan.

I’m still a little nervous; my previous longest ride was a disastrous impromptu endeavor as part of a dear friend Allison’s Becel Ride for Heart team when I rode 50km (eek, maybe it was only 25km) on a borrowed mountain bike of which the chain kept falling off. But with last year’s switch to triathlons, and my fancy road bike I’m ready to rock…or roll!

So, what are you doing Saturday September 14? Wanna join me! More info here. Let’s Ride!