Wheeler, a Novel

Wheeler is currently being re-edited and will be relaunching soon. 

Follow me on WordPress, or @SaraZalesky on Twitter for updates.

‘Wind, rain, and thunder, remember, earthly man
is but a substance that must yield to you.’
William Shakespeare, Pericles, Act 2, Scene 1

Loren Mackenzie has spent much of her life honing her body to overcome the physical challenges of being a professional cyclist in the European peloton. She has also refined the control of her mind, using her emotions in competition to become an elite cyclist. When an accident at the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic sidelines her team captain, Loren must rise to the challenge of leading her team to victory, but to also face the sting of defeat, together.

After a chance meeting with a famous actor, a whirlwind romance develops quickly, and what seems like the perfect relationship threatens to unravel Loren’s tightly wound life. The microscope of media attention dredges up her fears that details of her tragic past will be unearthed; secrets she has kept buried, even from those closest to her.

As the Women’s World Tour continues with races across Europe, a predator stalks Loren, conspiring to not only put her chances at the World Championship in jeopardy but also force her to confront the phantoms haunting her mind.

Can Loren face the trauma of her past and vanquish the demons within, or will betrayal and obsession ultimately defeat her?

saracard-1

A woman and her bike – a guest post

Penny is a friend, triathlete, mother, nurse and just an amazing, kick-ass kind of woman.  penny

She’s also a poet, at least I think so. What follows are her words, not mine, but I share in the feelings.

“Loading the bike up for a morning ride. My enthusiasm is almost palpable. 50 miles with a few friends. Clicking and whirring my way through part of the fastest growing county in the United States.

This will be one of the most therapeutic rides I take part of this summer. I have ridden a few of these roads before and developed a vocabulary that combines my trucker genealogy with the Philly girl that resides in my soul.

Why? Why put myself in uncomfortable situations that provoke the nasty girl in me?
Because.

It’s therapy.
It’s gutter girl meets phd.

I am not trying to tell you are wrong. I am trying to tell you why you need to cater to you sense of adventure. Or maybe adolescence.

When I was 9-13 I rode my bike everywhere. My parents didn’t drive me. They simply did not have the time.
I can see myself, almost upright, chasing a few friends across the playground. Riding as soon as my mother would allow, on a Saturday morning, to my friend Patty’s.
I feel it in my soul.

You see an inconvenience.
I feel my heart beating a rhythm I can not control.

You lose 10 seconds to a minute, while waiting to pass me by.
I feel your respect, annoyance, and or anger beating on my left shoulder as I give my heart and soul to rise over (and out of) your way.

You give a me a foot. I feel a few inches and fear whether or not your mirror will clip my hip.

What I want you to see?
Your child.
Rather than a phone or game in hand, they have the wind in their ears.

What I want you to see?
Ambition.
The power of a biological machine combining with a man made one. Finesse and strength beating down a pavement.

What I want you to try?
Dust of your bike. Give 10 minutes of your soul to the wind and the air.

What I want you to see?
The sunrise . The sunset. Your legs beating a path down the open road.

What I want you to hear?
The wind. That’s it. You can not hear your phone. You are concentrating on whether you hear a car, or the echo from the local highway.

What I want you to feel?
You. All the aches, discomforts and power you can wheel. You are a machine. Tune it up and control it.

What I want you to embrace?
Freedom.
No one can teach you here.
I am not saying leave your phone behind. You may have someone who needs you.
But that’s the point. You can avoid life for a few. They will find you if the need you.

What I want to avoid?
An inconvenience to you.
Truly. I pick random times to avoid rush hour. I am not intentionally slowing you down. I am intentionally beating the hell out of myself, so that I can handle what the world throws at me.

Put someone you know on that bicycle.
How does it change you?”

Beta Readers – a double-edged sword

Writer Problems. @Lexi Lee M This looks like the type of comics you make!:

I obsess over the mundane. I can’t decide what to cut, even though I know it needs to be done. I needed help, but I am also wounded, how can I trust to hand over what has been already slashed as garbage?

And so, enters BR Number One, who was willing to chat with me daily, giving instant feedback on what was working and what wasn’t; what made him actually tear up (and that’s hard to do, being it’s a GUY), made him spit out his coffee, or give a belly laugh.

Number One (said in Captain Picard’s voice) is a male triathlete, somewhere in the Midwest. He just barely broke 40 years and has embarked on a journey to participate in an Iron Man this year.  We bonded over the ‘I am the Storm’ quote, as he uses this imagery to overcome his own obstacles in his life.

He finished the book this week and I sent him a bunch of questions about his experience, other than what we’ve already snarked over. I’ll share with you some of his comments:

Q: Was there a point at which you felt the story started to lag or you became less than excited about finding out what was going to happen next?

Mainly when the author continued to hammer me about 7/15. I wanted to punch her in the throat a few times. She promised me she would refrain. She sits on a throne of lies.

Q: Was there enough conflict, tension, and intrigue to keep your interest?

Yes, there was a lot of conflict and tension. Kept my interest but never felt overwhelming. However, there were some spots where I did look at the author over the top of my glasses and said, REALLY?

Q: Was the ending satisfying? Believable?

Yes, love that Loren is beginning to find her way out of the darkness and be able to positively channel her emotions. She’s growing as a character and that felt good. If she wasn’t able to resolve any of that I would have been sorely disappointed.

Q: Do you think the writing style suits the genre? If not, why not?

Honestly, not sure I can answer this. I’ve never read anything in this genre before. I felt the two sides of the story were wonderful. The races were exciting and vivid and the love story was sweet. I do like the author’s writing style even if she is a complete pain in the ass at times and doesn’t always laugh at my jokes.

Betas can be worth their weight in gold and I have been more than blessed with THIS particular one, who has now become a valued friend.  Thank you, JB. 

The F-U Headwind 53 Miler

This weekend was supposed to be an early season century for me. Uh, yeah, no. Thanks to some nasty thunderstorms off the coast of Delaware/Maryland, winds were forecasted at 15-20 mph and boy were they ever.

Mind you, I’ve ridden in some nasty headwinds during my end of the season century in just about the same area of Maryland so this was expected. I haven’t done a distance greater than 50 miles this year as here in the Northeast, it been too cold/wet and I was going to be okay with any distance I could get out of my legs at this point.

What wasn’t expected was temperatures near 90 with humidity at 100%.

What was truly serendipitous is when we arrived at the registration tent in Bethany, DE, we were met with: “What are you guys doing here?” from a gentleman that approached my group of three.

Lo and behold, my two mates and I all had a connection to one person, Dr. Leo, although none of us knew it.  Dr. Leo had been a regular to my morning cycling classes until about six months ago (life got in the way, he says), Stacey knows him because he’s her children’s orthodontist and Andrew had a nasty spill on his bike several years ago and Dr. Leo saved his teeth.

I stayed hydrated and didn’t push too hard, even though Dr. Leo and I did drop our slower mates early on; not that we meant to, they were just slower with the winds. I demonstrated to Leo the benefits of drafting and the echelon but the wind, heat, and humidity took a toll on us, although we kept a respectable 15 mph average over 53 miles in a little over 3 hours.

What did surprise me is that Stacey and Andrew went on to ride 77 miles, pushing on until after 3pm (we started at 7:30am).  I could have eeked out another 10 to make it a metric but have to and want to are two very different things.

I did take a peek at my Strava and I could see the parts of the route where we dropped below 14mph but it wasn’t often and was either due to the wind or for crossings and traffic.

 

Showing my colors #TwinSix #FatCyclist.com

The struggle (in sportives) is real..

via How to Help a Rider Who is Struggling on a Long Ride…

The above Total Women’s Cycling article lists some ideas that I have done in the past with my cycling pals. I encourage them to hold my wheel, eat more, drink more, don’t muscle it – drop a gear or two and pedal faster. I’ve become a great cheerleader through my indoor cycling career and take it on the road with me.

I have a century this weekend and my main concern isn’t about me. It’s about my friend who roped me into said century so early in the season.  She’s done very little training over the winter. Two weeks ago when we rode together, she struggled with 20 flat miles. I have a feeling I’ll be riding mostly by myself and seeing her at rest stops. Maybe.

But that’s okay. We’re at different places in the grand scheme of things. I’m still looking forward to spending time with her, both on the bike and off at the beach!  #notbikiniready

Great Minds Think A-Bike.

 

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What’s this thing, “Functional” Threshold Power

blown

I’ve been thinking about FTP more and more as I gear up for a century next weekend. I’m not saying anyone is wrong, just some food for thought

I teach indoor cycling at a big box gym. I have several certifications, most notably training with watts. I am not an aerobics instructor. I don’t teach at SoulCycle or any of that ilk. I teach using sound cycling principles, not push-ups on the handlebars.
 
The past two weeks I’ve taken my classes through 20-minute functional threshold tests. I’ve done this myself using Trainer Road and Sufferfest and both apps have increased my FTP based on my virtual watts. I’ve also watched many in my virtual communities go as hard as they can for 20 minutes and the apps call it their FTP.  In my education, this is incorrect.
 
FTP means ‘functional’ threshold power, an estimation of what you can function at for 60 minutes, not 20. It’s not balls to the wall, hard as you can, throw up at the end effort. One of my group called it her ‘forever pace.’ The rate of perceived exertion is 6-7 out of 10 – you’re breathing hard; you can recite a line of Mary Had a Little Lamb but need to take a breath. Train at too high an effort consistently and you will feel the effects of overtraining.
 
I have this problem myself – I get all jacked up about the numbers and go hard, hard, hard, but only end up feeling like complete carp halfway through the season. I was training at too high an effort when I should be at my ‘forever’ pace.
 
My FTP on both Trainer Road and Sufferfest is 220w. My indoor FTP on the Keisers at the gym is 240w. Which is right?
 
It doesn’t matter. 220w on my bike on the trainer feels the same as 240w at the gym: sustainable (rpe 7) for one hour. What matters is that I have a concrete number to work with, just like that evil number on the scale.

#amediting #authorproblems

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I’m neck deep now in editing, and I have two new betas reading #wheelernovel. I’ll tell you, not hearing from either of them since I sent a copy is burning a hole in my stomach.

Do they like it? Has the change of direction completely f-ed the story? How can it be longer now!? What do I cut without sacrificing storyline? What little fluff remains is in the relationship, I can’t cut that! Why did I chain myself to an actual calendar!

Am I nuts for still wanting to do this? 

The litany goes on and on and on.

And yet, I look to the next few months and think about relaunching.  What do I do? HOW do I do it?  Do I look for more reviews? (It was hard enough to get the new betas.)

Fuck – why does this have to be so hard! 

At least training for the century on April 29th is right on cue.  Thirty-two miles into headwind felt like 100 this weekend.

Physically, I’m as ready as I’ve been for an end-of-the-season century, thanks to my winter spent on rollers.

Mentally, I’m looking forward to not thinking for 6+ hours while riding.