Sunday, June 14, 2015

My Run, Row, Rock & Roll 12 Hour Adventure Race Experience

I’m not going to lie. I was feeling pretty unsure of my abilities going into this race.  I really didn't start endurance training until mid April.  Essentially giving me only 6 - 7 weeks to try and build up some form of endurance for a 12 hour race.  Not the smartest move but coming back from an injury last September, that’s the best I could do.


This leads me to inform you that you don’t really need a lot of training to do a 12 hour race.  You simply do it at your own pace, complete as much of the course as you can, and make sure your butt is at the finish before the 12 hours is up.  If you discover you aren't up for going the full distance, you can elect to go to the finish at any time.  You can also choose a shorter Adventure Race or even an Urban Adventure race. The choice is yours, just have fun!


Team Nut n Honey Post Race (and post showers)
My team consisted of my racing friend Jerry, and my old friend Jason. He’s not old, I've just known him since college.  I have raced with Jerry for 2 years now and we tend to go about the same pace, so it has worked well for us.  This was Jason’s first AR.  He trained with me a few days a week while we built up our endurance together in preparation for this race.  Going into the race I felt we were both about the same pace and would team up well.


We checked in Friday night.  We got our maps, coordinates, team number, and signed our waivers.  This left us with nearly 3 hours to check into our hotel, unload, eat, plot the coordinates on our maps before the 8 pm pre-race meeting with all the teams.


At the pre-race meeting we received race specifics, we had to have our bikes at a lake in Kansas and be back race Headquarters in Fairbury, Nebraska by 6:30 AM. Bikes were not supposed to be dropped off before 5 AM.  We had to take note of an “off limits” area on the map, and were given a few race rules - certain sections were to completed in order, others didn’t matter, etc.


With those rules in mind, it was back to the hotel to determine the best routes to take between checkpoints.  This involves a little bit of Google Maps to look up road names and looking for updated trails or roads, as well as studying the features of the topo map (i.e. terrain), and a fair amount of guess work.  Our maps were created 40 years ago, and as such there would be some features that would be different today than they were when it was originally made.  We labeled the roads we thought we would travel on, highlighted optimal routes, and made checkpoint notes directly onto our topo map.  We plotted around 31 points across Kansas and Nebraska that we needed to find.  Then it was off to bed with a 4 AM wake up.


We were up and out the door just a smidge after 5 AM.  We ate, dressed, packed, filled our packs with race food, water, extra items like socks and a rain jacket, loaded our bikes and headed for the drop off 30 minutes away.  After we dropped our bikes and biking gear (shoes/helmets/water bottles) off at the “Transition Area” we headed back to the start returning to Nebraska.  Teams began arriving between 6 and 6:30.  At just before 7 AM we loaded up in 2 school buses and were bused back down to the location of our bikes.  While this sounds odd, the race was not a round trip race.  It was essentially a one way race, and we had to eventually make our way back to Fairbury.


At the start of the race we had two options, we could canoe or trek first.  The weather was perfect that day, no wind, no chance of rain until later in the afternoon, and cloud cover.  This never happens.  We opted to run first, then cool off in the lake for a scenic canoe ride.  The trek took us all around the lake finding checkpoints.  The teams that started with the run ran in 2 different directions, each team with their own strategy on where & how to complete that section.


I was the main navigator, the navigator is required to read the map features and determine where the checkpoints would be.  I was feeling quite rusty going into the race, but didn't have any issues navigating. It helped to bounce ideas around with Jerry and Jason on where we thought we were adn where the checkpoint would be.  We did a great job finding the check points and getting back to the canoes.  These checkpoints aren't the easiest to find/reach. We had to run through thigh high grass and bushwhack through thorny shrubs, squeeze between cedars, and cross barbwire multiple times to find them.  We weren't running on any trails in this race!  It was pure prairie with some pretty huge hills.


Next up was the canoe section.  The lake had a dam across the top ⅓ of the lake we had to cross over with the canoe about 6 times to complete this section in order.  There were 7 checkpoints alternating from one end of the lake to the other end of the lake. I shared paddling with the guys, but only on the short side of the lake.  They did the vast majority of the paddling.  We had only 1 fumble on this section accidentally going down the wrong finger of the lake.  This cost us about 15 minutes allowing a few teams to catch up with us, but once we discovered our error we were back on track.


Next we were removing our trail shoes, and donning our bike gear.  We checked out of the Transition area (TA) and made our way over hill after hill after holy crap another huge hill, to the next TA finding some checkpoints along the way.  It was shortly into this section I realized I never checked the pressure in my tires, and I knew my back tire was too low. I could feel the extra drag from it. My teammate Jerry had added air to his tires shortly after we took off on the bike and I hoped to use the rest of his CO2 cartridge.  We stopped to air mine up, but we couldn't unscrew my Presta valve, so I was stuck with a low tire for the rest of the race.  This wasn't a good thing, but I dealt with it without too much complaining.


We got the the next TA and were happy to see a table with lemonade and tea for the racers.  I downed a glass of iced tea faster than I ever have in my life. Ahhhhhh.  We quickly changed out of our bike gear, and back into our trail shoes, completed a team challenge and took off looking for all the checkpoints we could find on foot.  We nailed the orienteering section and passed quite a few teams, much to our surprise.  We walked nearly all of it, but jogged a few flat and downhill sections.  This section involved bushwhacking and no trails. There was one missing checkpoint we spent 20 minutes looking for and finally gave up on. After we cleared the trekking section we found out that checkpoint was taken by someone or something.  We were just happy to know we hadn't missed it.


Jason made a common newbie mistake and failed to wear long socks for the race. I had mentioned to him prior to the race to wear long socks.  Apparently I failed to fully mention why he needed to do so.  Let me show you a picture of a fellow racer who also failed to wear long socks and how his legs looked post race.  Thank you Ben for letting me post this photo of your legs from this weekend. So sorry for all the painful scratches that you and Jason endured. You are troopers.
Ben's Hamburger Legs. OUCH! Remember to wear long socks.
Back to our bikes, gear change, refilling of our hydration packs, and a washing of my salt covered face, and we were off again.  We took way too long at this transition area to leave and many teams were coming in as we were heading out.  About ½ mile into the biking I realize I am out of gas.  To make matters worse some rain must have fallen just north of us and the gravel roads were like biking through glue.  Mud was flying, but thankfully these were gravel roads, and not dirt roads so we could still ride.  I was going at a snail's pace, a combo of perfect storms, low tires, wet sandy roads, and plain old tiredness. I think Jason was about as tired as I was but Jerry still had steam in his engine. He helped us up a few hills. Nothing better than assistance from a teammate!  Several teams caught and passed us on on this bike section back to Fairbury. It was disheartening knowing I couldn't keep up with them, but I was happy I had made it 8 hours before running out of get-up-and-go considering my lack of training.


We reached Fairbury and had one more TA area.  We dropped our bikes again.  This time one teammate would kayak up the Little Blue River while the other two traveled up river by foot on an adjacent trail.  There was a checkpoint where we would meet and swap out kayakers.  Jerry kayaked up the river.  He had the most energy and it made the most sense for him to kayak up.  Jason & I seized the opportunity to walk to the next checkpoint, get our punch and wait for Jerry to arrive.  Timing was perfect, we reached the swap point at the same time, we made a switch of kayakers, and I kayaked down river.  I beat the guys back, punched the next checkpoint, then we got on our bikes for the last two miles of the race.  We had just one checkpoint left in town and then the best sprint we could muster to the finish. My sprint didn't kick in until 3 blocks before the finish.


We finished in 9.5 hours, finding all the checkpoints for a 3rd place co-ed team finish.  I wish we took a photo of us covered in mud from the last biking section but our brains were lacking glucose and we didn't remember.  I headed straight for the showers inside race headquarters and then to the post race meal.  Potato chips never tasted so good.  Our post race meal was pulled pork sandwiches, fruit salad, cookies, chips, water and lemonade.  I ate it all.

We met a co-ed team from Colorado, Team NYARA (AKA New York Adventure Racing Association). I’m not sure of the Colorado/NY connection, but a great group of competitors who smoked the course finishing in under 7 hours.  Outshining them was a solo guy named Justin who was the first to finish.  I’d like to think they had the high altitude advantage, but they are just plain awesome. I'd guess they probably ran when we opted to walk and they finished before the rain came through. Lucky dogs.
Team Nut n Honey, Solo Racer Don Day, Team NYARA
I don’t know where we finished overall, but a fair number of us finished within just a minute or two of each other.  These are teams we normally finish around, so I was quite impressed to finish with them for my first race after a 7 month training hiatus #stupidbrokenankle.

If adventure racing sounds like something you would like to try let me know in the comments below.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Get your miles in with the #lightbulbchallenge - Illuminating Lincoln: Lighthouse

Crystal had a great idea last week about taking pix of our bikes with the sculptures dedicated to Illuminating Lincoln: Lighthouse.  She proposed we take pix of our bikes and ourselves then post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #lightbulbchallenge.  I thought this was a great idea and have made a couple of maps so you can use your mobile devices to locate the sculptures.  Post in the comments of you have questions.

So far, I have tested with my iPad and my Android phone.  On Android, use the .kml file with Google Earth and use the .gpx file with a mapping app like OsmAnd.   In iOS, try the .kml file first.
For more information about the project see the Journal Star article.

Download files:

 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cauliflower Crust Thai Chicken Pizza

Crystal’s Protein Packed Low Carb Thai Chicken Pizza
10991274_10152740729887075_8186706282830831599_n.jpg


I put this together on a whim. I had been wanting to try out cauliflower based pizza crust for some time, but never tried it until today.


My friend Trish made me Thai pizza when I was down and out with my broken ankle. It was delicious and I’ve made it several times since then. It was the inspiration for this pizza - only I incorporated the PB into the crust instead of using it for a separate sauce.


You can omit the PB and make a traditional pizza with traditional pizza sauce and toppings. If it were me, and I made this again with a "traditional" crust, I would likely add a tablespoon or two of coconut flour or almond flour to help absorb the moisture. It’s completely up to you.


Crust Ingredients:
1 bag of Frozen Cauliflower (or you can use fresh - but frozen is easier and cheaper usually)
6 Tbsp of PB2 (Powdered Peanut Butter, fat is pressed out of the peanuts)
1 Tbsp Stevia
2 oz Reduced Fat Feta Cheese (you can use any cheese you want or have on hand)
1 egg


Preheat your oven to 425F or 400F with convection.


  1. Chop the cauliflower in a food processor to make fine granules.
    1. I did this while it was still mostly frozen.  
  2. Steam the cauliflower for 4-5 minutes, or microwave to basically thaw and cook just enough you know you can squish it and water will drain out.
  3. Drain the cauliflower and squeeze out all the water you possible can, then squeeze out some more.
    1. I did this is a fine mesh strainer, then dumped it onto 4 layers of paper towels.  I squeezed the paper towels until I thought I had gotten virtually all the water out and the cauliflower was like a paste.
  4. Mix the cauliflower, egg, PB2, Stevia (or sweetener of your choice), Cheese until combined.  It will be about the consistency of cookie dough.
  5. Smooth out onto parchment paper until the pizza crust is about ¼” thick.  Leave the edges a little thicker to hold in the toppings and sauce (if you chose to use sauce).
  6. Bake for 15 minutes - 18 minutes on the parchment paper. Do not place the parchment on a cookie sheet or you will probably get a soggy crust.


Toppings.
You can do whatever you want for toppings.  I raided my freezer and decided to use up some stir fry veggies and some spinach.  I figured these would go with Thai inspired pizza. If you just want cheese and pepperoni that’s fine too.


2 cups stir fry vegetables
2 servings frozen spinach
6 oz cooked chicken breast
1 oz reduced fat shredded cheese
2 Tablespoons Reduced Fat Champagne Vinegarette (Trader Joe’s) dressing (or soy sauce/teriyaki sauce/Dorothy Lynch/etc)
1 Tbsp Stevia (unless using a sweetened dressing, then omit)


  1. Cook your veggies and drain off excess water.  Add cooked meat and toss with dressing & Stevia (or choose your own dressing or pizza sauce).
  2. Top Cooked Crust with your coated veggies and meat, then finish with shredded cheese.
  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Pizza serves 2.  

HINTS: If it turns out soggy, you likely didn't cook directly on parchment (i.e. you used a pan under it) or you didn't squeeze out enough water from the crust. You can try baking the crust at a lower temperature for a longer time to help dry the crust.
Nutrition Facts
Servings 2.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 398
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 15 g
23 %
Saturated Fat 5 g
25 %
Monounsaturated Fat 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 190 mg
63 %
Sodium 1304 mg
54 %
Potassium 35 mg
1 %
Total Carbohydrate 25 g
8 %
Dietary Fiber 7 g
26 %
Sugars 11 g

Protein 42 g
83 %
Vitamin A
21 %
Vitamin C
108 %
Calcium
24 %
Iron
4 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

For an assortment of other low-carb recipes, please check out 121 Keto Dinner Recipes on FitnessCrest.com. (Edit by Sydney)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Taking the Lane: It's the MOST Wonderful Time of the Year!







Looking for great gifts for friends, family, or charity?
The Holiday Season has always been the MOST wonderful time of the year for me, so once I started working retail 30 (gulp) years ago I wondered if it would hold the same wonderfulness it always had. All of a sudden the busiest time of the year became even busier, but I found I loved it! I have made a game of "shopping local" for all my Holiday gifts, this has kept the wonderfulness there, and made it actually more fun! Whether it's "Lincoln Local" or "Toronto Local", I get it done!

Warm clothes to commute in.
The fun part about the Holidays for me is I am always finding cool stuff for me as I very seldom shop during the year (and if I do it is always small and local....less stress!) So when I head out to do my Holiday shopping, imagine the fun I have! There are so many cool things, I can't help but buy for myself :)

We love supporting local!
I have also trained my family to shop local. They understand how important this is to me and how happy it makes me to open a gift from Tsuru, Monkey Wrench, Patino, Cycle Works, Stella, The Coffee House.....just to name a few :) These are all in my hood so they can get there easily....also cuts down on the stress of the Holidays! I like to think it also cuts down on the stress in their lives, this busy Holiday Season, by sending them to small stores that know me and what I like (you see it really IS all about me!) :)

Local shops are the best
I will never forget the year that Nathan, from Cycle Works, brought me this HUGE bottle of electrolyte. Not for me, you see, but for my dog! He remembered that I swore it was electrolytes that was keeping Annie alive, and gifted me a huge bottle at the Holidays! (I still swear it kept Annie alive for 3 years past her deadline of life!)

I'll take one of these!
If I don't get out shopping during the year, how do I know what is out there? Well, look around and ask questions! Commuters are the best communicators! I see the Bar Mitts, I ask where they got them - or where to get them local. I drop an order off at Screen Ink, I see a print with a bicycle saying on it and drop the hint to my family. I see a cool shirt or sweatshirt of a local shop and know where to send the fam! It's really pretty easy, and as I said earlier....fun!

Snow! We ain't afraid of no snow!
As a small, local retailer I really enjoy the folks that come in this time of year looking for gifts for customers of ours. Knowing what our customers like and being able to show people what it is that would make them happy is priceless! When our customer comes back in LOVING what they received ....well, one more awesome moment for us!

Your helpful bike shop employee. Thank you for supporting our cycling addiction.
If you get out to your local bike shops during the year, they know what you need, want and like and they'll be able to share that with your family and friends. Having local friends in retail is the best....not only at the Holidays but all the year through. You never know when you are going to need these guys to get you through some bike issue and THAT is the true gift, anyway at that moment it is! Holidays are about family and friends really and what I love is that where I do my bike shopping...they ARE my friends!
Happy Holidays everyone!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Taking the Lane: It's Always The Season To Support Bicycling

I like visiting my favorite local bike shop to drool over new bikes and bike accessories as much as the next cyclist. They are friendly and knowledgeable and I like supporting them when I can. Maybe you've been dropping hints lately about what would be a great gift, or scoping out gifts you'd like to give your cycling friends and family. If so, stay tuned for next week's post.

Right now though, perhaps what you'd really like is not more accessories, but to learn to work on your own bike and support more bike ridership. Maybe you know someone who's had their bike stolen or needs to have work done on it to be ride-able. If they don't know how to repair it and can't afford to take it to a shop, what then?
B.J. truing a wheel

In this post I'd like to talk about some of the ways you can participate in or support Lincoln's alternative routes to bike ownership and repair. There are several Lincoln bike shops that sell used bicycles, such as Re-cycled, TheUsed Bike Store, Bike Pedalers, Salty Dog Cyclery, and The Bike Rack. There are many on-line resources, such as Lincoln Bike Swap on Facebook, and you'll find more if you do an internet search, and of course, there's Craig's List. There are also a few stolen bike report and recovery databases for those who've had their bike boosted, such as Project 529 and Bike Index, but I'm unsure as to their usefulness in our fair city. Pawn shops sell bicycles too, but in all cases, buyer beware. Some bike shops will look them over for you and tell you what to be aware of. (Monkey Wrench Cycles comes to mind) When it comes to making repairs, if you want to learn to do it yourself, or just be more knowledgeable there are several options. Cycleworks, the Bikerack, and Bike UNL, through Outdoor Adventures, occasionally offer basic maintenance classes for a fee. Mad Dads offers used bikes and repairs at relatively low cost, and gives bikes away in special promotions to kids through the schools.

Gary working on a bike so a kid can ride to school
The Lincoln Bike Kitchen is the newest resource available. It's a bike cooperative that provides refurbished bikes to anyone who volunteers at least 10 hours of their time to the Bike Kitchen. Kids get them for free. Volunteer members learn skills working on bikes and ride away with both transportation and knowledge. Paid memberships are available for supporters as well, and donations are being sought to provide helmets, lights and locks to those riding away with their newly refurbished bikes. The helpful staff of the Bike Kitchen provide advice and adjustments too. If you don't have tools or expertise, you can come during open shop time to work on your own bike. They do not charge for services. The Bike Kitchen will offer special classes on any aspect of maintenance and repair to interested groups(sheclisma's take note.) I'm interested in learning what to do if I'm out on a long ride in the middle of nowhere and have a serious breakdown. There are even women and trans-gender only shop nights. Donations of bikes, parts, accessories, and gear are welcome, and some better items are offered for sale to support the operation. It's a great way to recycle your old bikes, bike parts, and accessories in good shape. I found directions for making a wallet out of inner tubes on their website. How's that for a great DIY idea for that special gift and a good way to reuse inner tubes?

inner tube wallet
Volunteering at the Bike Kitchen is a great way to give back to the cycling community, improve people's lives and grow the next generation of cyclists. See you there!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Taking the Lane: Keep Going! How to make a smooth transition to winter commuting.

STEP #1: Outfit your Bicycle

Hopefully by now you have a bicycle that you have been commuting on. You do not need a special bicycle to commute on during the winter. There are certain features that you will really like, but there are always ways to deck out what you have! First step, and something that can be utilized year round, are fenders. 

Yay! Full Coverage!

To use full coverage fenders like the ones pictured above your bike will need mounts.
They will look something like the silver bits on the bikes fork below, but will be specific for fenders. Investigate your bike and take it to your local shop if you need to verify what they are really for!
Mounts Galore

If you do not have those mounts do not fret. You can use a frame mounted fender. Even if you do have the mounts these fenders are easy to snap off and on depending on your need!

Snappy!

These fenders will protect you from snow, sleet, and all the muck. Your bike will also thank you. The full coverage fenders do a great job of keeping extra snow and salt out of places it shouldn't be.

Next up are studded tires. These will help you take on the ice. Studded tires will fit most all bikes, typically not a road bike though. They are usually a little pricier, but will last more than one season. Also if you are strapped for cash, just using one up front will be a great start. This will prevent your front wheel from slipping out, hopefully allowing your rear wheel to follow through smooth and safe. One thing to mention is that the studded tires are great on ice mainly. If you don't experience much ice where you are they won't be much help, and I would stick to a tire with more tread for snow.  They are also something you will have to get used to using on dry pavement, as the studs can slip. It is something that is very obvious and easy to get the hang of though.

45NRTH, Schwalbe, and Continental are some great tire brands to start looking at for studded options!

The last and arguably most important piece to outfit your bike is LUBE. I cannot express how important lubing the moving parts on your bicycle is. We covered chain lube in our ABC's of bike maintenance post. In the winter all of these ideas will become even more important as salt, sand, and cold are attacking your bicycle. 

STEP #2: YOU!

First off you will want to wear different clothes. We have oodles and oodles and oodles of posts about what to wear when commuting! Check them out. I want to touch on what you can do to make the winter commute a little less harsh. 

First things first. KEEP RIDING. Ride a little outside everyday. It is the best way to figure out how to dress and to let your body acclimate. 


Even if it is just a short jaunt to the store. It will keep you motivated and it won't be as intimidating when you go out for your whole commute. 

Once you have conquered some snowy and cold commutes it is probably time for a break. I use a friends car at least once a week to give myself something to look forward too. Then I also realize commuting on my bike is usually faster and much more enjoyable. 

Second thing is to give yourself extra time. Extra time to get dressed, to ride, and to get undressed. This time probably adds up to around 15 minutes total for my commute. Acknowledging this added time is necessary because then I am not stressing trying to make up for it during my ride. 

Last and overall the change of seasons is hard for everyone, bicycles included! Taking the change one step at a time will ensure you actually want to be riding and will continue to do so after the winter season has blown by.