Tag Archives: biking

Le Tour de Shore 2014

25 Jun

Ever since I bought my road bike in August I have been addicted to cycling. There’s something about a road bike that makes you feel lighter and go faster (oh yeah – it’s the wheel size and overall design). I loved my fall 2013 Bubbafest tour of the Florida Keys and I wanted to continue my touring rides. I saw an ad for Le Tour de Shore in my copy of Adventure Cycling that I am trying out as a result of Bubbafest but I didn’t think anyone would want to do the two day, 100+ mile ride with me. Jamie and Kayla had plans for that weekend and I didn’t think I knew of anyone else with a road bike. Luckily, my friend Gracelyn who really introduced me to triathlons, had a group of cycling friends that had signed up for the ride independently and I was able to tag along with their group.

Friday morning I met the group of riders along the lake shore path around 6:40 am and we rode down to Millennium Park for the start of the event. It was chilly but perfect for riding. Gracelyn had told me she didn’t want to go “too slow” but wouldn’t be “holding 20 [mph]” which she translated to mean 17 mph. I saw that as a challenge but as it turns out she and two cycling friends really held 20 mph for a lot of the ride which left me cycling by myself, which was actually kind of nice.


The ride was split into two days. We rode ~65 miles the first day and camped in the Indiana Dunes Friday night and conquered ~45 miles the second day finishing in New Buffalo, Michigan.

The SAG stops (I think SAG stands for stop-and-go, but no one I ask really knows) on this ride were amazing. The first one was about 20 miles into the ride and had Chris Cakes pancakes – this guy holds the world record for highest pancake flipped in a frying pan), fruit, granola bars, water and Gatorade. I love pancakes and loved this stop. The next stop, right around noonish, had PB&J sandwiches and chips – heaven! I didn’t feel guilty about eating a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos AND a bag of Fritos because – hey – we just rode for 40 miles. The final stop before arriving to the camp site was just fruit and granola bars but I’m still really appreciative of the stops. Saturday morning’s SAG stops had Dunkin’ Donuts and coffee (mile 76) and fruit and granola bars (mile 96) before ending at a big barbeque on the beach.

The scenery for the ride was incredible. We rode along Lake Michigan for 60% of the ride, through corn fields, past beach houses and even stopped at a winery/brewery/distillery. The thing I loved most about the ride was how short and sweet it was. I’m not saying 100+ miles on the bike is short, but it was nice to be done riding after two days. I also liked the idea of riding one way and not having to turn back and see the entire route again. After our BBQ in Michigan we hopped on coach buses and headed home. The funny thing, though, is that the route that took us more than six hours on the bike took about an hour and a half to reverse on bus.


The weather couldn’t have been better. I did end up with a nasty sun burn, but I attribute that to the fact that the temperature was so crisp that I didn’t realize how strong the sun was. It actually got cold in the evening while camping. I slept in sweat pants, a hoodie, a bed sheet and a sleeping bag and was still cold. Saturday morning was chilly but I had a sweet jersey shrug that kept me comfortable until the first SAG stop. This is where I should have re-applied sunscreen (or applied for the first time to the previously covered areas). I have a sweet bike jersey burn on my back that hurts like heck.

I’m so grateful that I got to hang with Gracelyn and her friends. They were great. There were eight of us total and Gracelyn and I shared a tent Friday night. Other expert campers suggest we not keep our food in our tent because raccoons will actually rip through the tent to get it while we’re sleeping so we put everything we had in a bag of Gracelyn’s and inside the cabin at our camp ground. That actually turned out to be a pretty bad idea because the raccoons snuck into the cabin and had a smorgasbord of food throughout the night. We actually caught them sleeping on the bag in the morning!


My butt hurt for the next day but the ride was totally worth it. It is actually a fundraiser for the Maywood area fine arts programs, which I think is great! This ride is definitely worth the money and the day off of work. I can’t wait til next year!


Naperville Esprit de She Sprint Triathlon 2014

22 Jun

On Sunday, June 8, I completed my first triathlon of the season. It was an all-women triathlon, which I preferred last year to the co-ed (Lake Geneva) version, so I was really pumped. Plus, because I competed in an Esprit de She event last year (their inaugural year), I was supposed to get special perks (spoiler alert: BUST).

The weather had been iffy in Chicago and I was worried about air/water temps. One blogger I read, Kelly the Culinarian, had done a practice swim in the pool we were going to use and advised me that sans-wetsuit would be OK. She was totally right, the water was 76 degrees and perfect.

The morning of the race I woke up at 4:45 and the air temperature was 55 degrees when I headed to Naperville. The transition area closed at 6:45 am and my wave wouldn’t begin until 8:15 am which meant a lot of waiting around.

The race went perfectly. I have no regrets about the amount I trained or prepared. My swim started off a bit rough because I was at the back of my wave and probably didn’t deserve to be. It’s funny how you wait what feels like forever (almost two hours) to start and when it’s your time you feel rushed! I didn’t even put my goggles on my face until about ten seconds before starting. What the heck was I doing the rest of the time? Anyway, I got a lot of feet in my face and didn’t feel free to swim comfortably until about one third into the course.

My transition one (T1) time was long. I saw my mom and was kind of chatting with her while I transitioned to bike. My biggest complaint about the race was the way they had set up the transition areas. The run out and bike in were at the same spot so those of us in later waves (read: younger) had to run with the bike longer than the others. I know it’s not a big deal, but for some reason it really bothered me. Probably because it’s uncomfortable running when you’re exhausted and dragging a bike on your side.


The bike ride was great – it was actually my best leg. It was two laps and there was a strong head wind on the second half of each lap which made for some cold riding but the tail wind side was so great and I could hit up to 21 mph. I did see one wipe out because there were sharp turns and lots of lost water bottles.

Like I said I wasn’t thrilled about the way transitions were set up. Running with the bike is difficult. Nothing noteworthy during T2 other than I found my sunglasses in my cycling shoes (I thought I had left them at home). I wore a hat for the first time – mostly so my parents could see me – that I had won from my friend and former classmate Erin’s blog. Thanks, Headsweats!


The run was OK. There was little crowd cheering and it felt kind of lonely. I don’t know if I’ll ever master the jelly-legs feeling you get off of the bike that makes you feel like you are crawling when you’re trucking along at a regular run pace. No hills or surprises so that was a win for me!

My parents came out to support me and take photos and I really appreciated it. There was a fun “lifestyle market” at the end of the race that really wasn’t any different than other races I’ve finished. There was a VIP “founding finishers” tent for those of us that races with Esprit de She last year but it wasn’t very exciting. They didn’t offer anything exclusive other than private port-o-potties and sparkling grape juice.

Like I said – great weather and a great race. No regrets. Plus my mom and I picked up Portillos on the way home – WIN!


Swim (1/2 mile): 15:27

T1: 4:23

Bike (14 mile): 49:17 (avg 16 mph)

T2: 3:19

Run (5k): 33:17 (10:43/mi)

Total: 1:45:41

Iron Girl Pleasant Prarie Triathlon Recap

13 Aug

After the bike that broke my heart I went to the John Mayer concert on Friday night and drove up to Pleasant Prarie, Wisconsin, on Saturday!

We met at her parents’ house in Elk Grove and added her bike to my sturdy bike rack and made it about 15 miles before we saw those bikes sliding around so we pulled over and readjusted. After the adjustment we were good to go and didn’t have a single problem with the bikes! We stopped at another Craigslist house which listed a Trek 1000 for sale on their garage sale ad but it was a 50cm bike and too small for me.

After that we made it to the Rec Plex which is where the race was hosted. We were able to pick up our packets, get our bikes looked at (they filled my tires and oiled my chain!), and check our bike into our transition area (read: claim a sweet spot!!). They also had some fun vendors we shopped around at until the course talk where they went through the rules, course details, and Q&A. After that was over we headed to the hotel and made sure we had all of our equipment/clothing/supplies before we went outlet mall and Target shopping!

Before the shopping adventure began we carb-loaded at Olive Garden. I downed three bread sticks and barely touched my pasta so it’s safe to say I was carbed-up. After that we headed to the outlet mall and I was strangely disappointed. The Pleasant Prarie outlet mall is one of my favorites because I usually find great deals but I firmly believe that outlet malls are becoming way too saturated lately and now all the stores are making clothes/products just for the sake of saying they’re outlet prices. I bought some refurbished Sony headphones and a cute Bath & Body Works air freshener and Jamie got a sweet North Face jacket (true outlet price, I think) and then we made our way to Target for some Gatorade, hair ties, and other last minute purchases.

Our First Triathlon (before)

Our First Triathlon (before)

By the time we got back to the hotel, laid out all of our stuff and formulated our plan, it was nearly 11:00 and let’s be honest, that’s past my bed time on a normal night, let alone a night that we have to be up at 4:00 am. I had a hard time sleeping because I was so anxious, nervous, and excited. When we woke up at 4:00 I was actually rockin’ and ready to go!

We got to the Rec Plex at 5:00, got body-marked and set up our transition area right away. We pretty much finished getting ready by 5:20 and had more than an hour until the transition area closed and more than two hours until we actually started the race! Plus, it was 62 degrees, so we were freezing.

The cool air + warm water on the lake

The cool air + warm water on the lake

When the transition area closed at 6:30 we made our way to the beach barefoot and with one shirt for warmth that we left in the sand. The grass and pavement were so cold on our feet that we rushed to the lake shore and thawed out in the 76 degree water.

Over an hour later it was finally time to get in the water and start the race! I want to cover what I wore and what I’d do differently for each leg of the race. So here we go:

Start/swim: I wore my one-piece Nike suit, an extra sports bra, and long spandex shorts underneath. This was perfect for my swim. Plus, I got new Aquasphere goggles last week and they were awesome. They fogged up a bit, but the suction/seal was great.

T1 Iron Girl Pleasant Prarie

T1 Iron Girl Pleasant Prarie

Next time: hit start on my Garmin! I forgot to time this leg but really it was fine because it’s nearly impossible to look at your wrist while swimming. Try it. Also – get some anti-fogging stuff. I think my SCUBA teacher said toothpaste works – I will try.

T1: I kind of took my time and made sure I had everything, but everything went smoothly. I didn’t even use water to wash off my feet (we didn’t really need to) but getting on my socks was hard. I am going to research how to do that better.

Bike: Everything went smoothly on the bike! I swapped my swim cap and goggles for helmets and sunglasses but rode in my swimsuit and shorts. I DID forget to reset the odometer-thingy before the race and it’s kind of complicated to reset so I used my Garmin for time/distance and it worked fine. I was able to drink plenty of water and catch my breath on this leg and it went great. I just plan on having a better bike next time!

T2: I had been debating whether or not to switch into dry shorts for the run but I didn’t and it worked out great!

Run: Threw on my pre-pinned bib (Miami) shirt and ran off on my jello legs. Wouldn’t have done anything different here, either.

Finishing the Iron Girl Pleasant Prarie

Finishing the Iron Girl Pleasant Prarie

So how’d I do?


Iron Girl Pleasant Prarie Race Results

Iron Girl Pleasant Prarie Race Results

We did it!

We did it!

Originally my goal was to finish under two hours and I crushed that and finished in 1:37.

The race was so fun, so empowering, and so addicting! Now I’m pumped about finding more fun races. And a new bike!

Our First Triathlon (after)

Our First Triathlon (after)

Chicago Tomato Blast 2013

29 Jul

Saturday started out like any other day… I went for a 4.5 mil run/walk. OK, let’s be real, that’s not like any other day. I am proud of myself, though, because with the August 11 triathlon as a goal I have been extra dedicated to working out. In fact, with that being said I can officially announce I’m signing up for the Lake Geneva triathlon, too! (Does anyone have a discount code to share?) It’s a month later, September 14, and I am pumped because I love Lake Geneva.

I digress. The rest of the weekend started getting crazy around 11:30 am when my friends Joe and Steven arrived to head to the Tomato Blast at Soldier Field. We thought it’d be a great idea to enjoy the unseasonal 65 degree weather and ride our bikes to Soldier Field using the new Divvy bike sharing that are popping up around Chicago. Luckily the Northern most bike station is right at the corner of my street, so we hopped on and rode South to the event. We got pretty tired along the way so after we checked in the bikes we picked up classic Chicago hot dogs and ate them on the steps of the Field Museum. I should mention that I wasn’t Divvying because on Friday night I installed this awesome basket from Detours all by myself so I saved the $7 and took my own bike.

Detours Basket Bag

Detours Basket Bag

After we ate our hot dogs we ventured to find the Tomato blast site. Contrary to popular belief it wasn’t really in Soldier Field as much as it was in the Soldier Field parking lot. Nonetheless, we got there and met up with my friends Jamie, Brian, and Ryan, and stood in line for about 45 minutes to get checked in. The event officially started at 12:00 but upon our arrival at 1:00 they were so unorganized it was taking forever to get in. We finally got in, grabbed a beer, and listened to some music before they opened the gates at 3:00 for the fight to begin.

The Tomato Blast is modeled after La Tomatina in Valencia, Spain. It’s the world’s largest food fight and dates back to 1945. The idea is to throw overly ripe tomatoes at each other for a fun, regulated food fight.

Tomatoes to be thrown at Tomato Blast

Tomatoes to be thrown at Tomato Blast

The Tomato Blast website says the tomatoes are supposed to be spoiled, overly ripe tomatoes that are perfect for throwing, but as we raced into the center of the “arena” we were pelted with tough produce. I felt like they needed a bit more ripening to be enjoyable. The result was some aches and bruises and Joe even got a swollen eye. The fight was supposed to last an hour, but at 3:11 I was already done. At one point I had made my way into the tomato pit, where all the tomatoes waiting to be thrown were sitting, and I put a box on my head as a shield/helmet.  Bad idea. The fact that I was wearing a box on my head made me a human target and I was getting pelted from all over. I finally stepped away from the fight when I took a hit to the ear/neck area that made it no longer enjoyable.

Tomato throwing at Tomato Blast

Tomato throwing at Tomato Blast

Jamie & Me at Tomato Blast

Jamie & Me at Tomato Blast

Steven, Me, and Joe at Tomato Blast

Steven, Me, and Joe at Tomato Blast

Overall it was an interesting event, but I’ll probably sit it out next year.

Cheesie’s food truck, one of my favorite restaurants in the northern Chicago area, was at the event but we were too gross/uncomfortable/cold/sore to grab a post-tomato snack, so we rode our bikes back (ouch!) to my apartment, showered, and headed to Cheesie’s for dinner. More on Saturday evening’s festivities next.

Would you ever do a tomato fight?

Riding 40 miles in one weekend

24 Jul

This past weekend was not only filled with crafts and an awesome concert, but also a ton of bike riding. I’m training for the Iron Girl Triathlon in just a few weeks and I needed to up my biking game. I don’t like to miss my Wednesday morning Spinning class at 6:00 AM, but I do believe there’s a difference between indoor and outdoor cycling so I took to Busse Woods near my hometown for three big bike rides this weekend.

Saturday morning I peeled out of bed at 7:15 and was on the trail by 7:45. It’s a short drive from my parents’ house and I could even bike there if I had more time. Because of it’s size and popularity it’s best to do any kind of serious riding early in the morning before the families, fishermen, and picnickers arrive. I’ve got to tell you, half the fun to trekking to Busse Woods is this bike carrier I got for my friends when their family started to grow.

Bike rack

My handy bike rack for my car

The red path is the park’s longest trail and spans almost eight miles. Last week I managed to get lost and only loop once with some detours totaling 12 miles, but this time I set the goal to loop it twice and overshoot the sprint tri distance of 12 miles. Two loops took me 1:12 with an average speed of 13 mph. I had so much fun and felt so empowered I repeated the workout on Sunday, increasing my average speed to 13.5 and shaving about 11 seconds off my average pace from the day before. I’d love to get to a 4-minute-mile for the race, but I have no idea a) if that’s even possible and b) what the course is going to be like c) how to ride with tons of people around me. I’ll just be happy to finish the race in one piece.

Garmin Data for Busse Bike Rides

Garmin Data for Busse Bike Rides

The cool thing about Busse Woods is the elk pasture off of Arlington Heights Rd. in Elk Grove Village. I went to Elk Grove High School so I’ve driven past the elk a bajillion times, but it’s fun to see when you’re riding your bikes, too. Many families tell their children these are Santa’s reindeer during the off season.

elk in Busse Woods

Elk Close-Up in Busse Woods

Elk in Busse Woods

Elk in Busse Woods

After my 16 miles on Sunday I got home to two excited kids (my neighbors and loves of my life) and they wanted to go to Busse, too. At first I didn’t tell them that’s where I had come from but eagerly took them for another eight mile ride. It took us over an hour but I am so proud of them for going as far as they did. They’re troopers. Plus, we grabbed some Italian Ice immediately after — it was hot!

And finally, to close today’s post, I saw this truck today in Chicago. It’s the Doritos logo from like 1999 which totally fits into my summer of 90’s concerts. Seriously Frito-Lay, can’t you get some new truck decals? Does this bother anyone else?

Doritos Truck with Old Logo

Doritos Truck with Old Logo