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?”

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

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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.

Head Hopping – It’s not about beer

When I first heard the phrase ‘head hopping,’ I’ll admit, I had no idea what it meant. To me, head hopping was hearing both (or all) of the characters’ inner thoughts in a scene, not necessarily what they were seeing or even feeling to a certain extent. Thing is, I’m not wrong but I’m also not right.

According to many, many articles and blog posts I’ve read, there is no hard and fast rule, only the elusive ‘guideline.’ Some famous novelists head-hop all over the place. Some are a bit, um, vehement about not doing it.

The Editor’s Blog says: ‘Head-hopping is what happens to the reader when a writer suddenly changes the viewpoint of a character or POV. Switching from one viewpoint character to another, experiencing the mind and heart of one character for a moment only to be forced to switch focus to another character a paragraph or two later, is disconcerting.’

When I read Randy Ingermanson’s blog on the subject, I became even more confused.

“Randy sez:  Let’s define terms. “Head-hopping” is the practice of switching point-of-view characters within a single scene. This is not the same as the omniscient point-of-view, which would allow your narrator to know things that none of the characters know.”

Then the points being made by Randy were eclipsed by what was being said in the comments, specifically:

“If it’s about a person, don’t head hop, if it’s about the relationship or bigger picture, head hop.”

And then:

“Skilled writers don’t need it (head hopping) to convey the other person’s emotions through showing.”

I then found Ciara Ballintyne‘s post on the subject, and this is probably the clearest explanation, along with a great flowchart:

  • First – I gave a small shrug. That was of no matter at the moment.
  • Third – Isaiah gave a small shrug. That is of no matter at the moment.
  • Omniscient – Isaiah gave a small shrug. He thought it was of no matter at the moment

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And that’s when my brain exploded.

What say you WordPress?

 

‘Never apologize for your passion’

 

“Never apologize for your passion, Loren.”  I wrote this line for Graham, in response to Loren apologizing for her tendency to over-explain her sport, like I do.

Never apologize for your passion, whatever it is.

As I write this, I am currently hip deep in editing #WheelerNovel for the um, third time… however, it hasn’t been my own pathetic editing skills that have suggested the changes.  It was because of two people who came within my sphere.

The first, Brian, JB (whatever), is an inspiring triathlete. He also possesses a creative mind and sense of humor that even when he nitpicks, he does it in a way that I laugh first. His excitement about reading the story of pro cyclist, Loren Mackenzie has reignited my mind.

The second, Brenda at @storyperfected, challenged me. She pushed me to own my writing style. I’m grateful to her for that, and while we are no longer working together, her push to the first cut has fanned the spark of my creativity. The spirit of her editing whispers in my ear: “Who’s POV is that?” It’s MINE dammit!

The changes, specifically within the first few chapters, has (I hope) honed what was deemed ‘fan fiction’ and romance novelesque into a story that wholly steps into women’s fiction with a romantic bent. Still the smattering of Shakespeare to endear the lovers, the racing is even more exciting, and the drama has ticked up a notch or two.

The tale is fully about Loren and her challenges as a cycling team leader; but also, her spiral into the darkness of her mind. How someone who believes they are broken can open their eyes to find kindred spirits waiting for them, in the outstretched hand of an anam cara, and the embrace of a lover.

I’m not done, but the cutting and rewriting have become easier now that I am not so emotionally entangled with my Muse. I needed the slap in the face only the first bloody kill of a darling can bring. Damn you for being so real, Pretend English Boyfriend! 

Follow me on WordPress or on Twitter (@sarazalesky) for updates on my posting of the revised First Chapter, when Wheeler might be back on Kindle and possibly, when and where I could be leading an indoor cycling class based on the final race in my book: the World Championship Time Trial held in Richmond, VA.

Don’t be afraid of your passion. 

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P.S. Wanna be a Beta Reader?