Archive for July, 2008

EUROPE ADVENTURE 2008 – SPAIN!

Hola, from beautiful Spain. We arrived Wednesday July 2nd after climbing Mt. Ventoux outside of Avignon. It was a wonderful climb, (can’t believe I said that!), climbing 13 miles with a 7.5% average grade. Some sections were 11%. The top looks like what I imagine the moon would look like. Lots of gray rocks, chilly, but awesome views!

Spain has been peaceful and sunny on the Mediterranean coast along with many hills even though we are on the coast. While we have not had to climb mountains yet, they still feel like mountains as we continue our tour in Europe. Wednesday we met up with Neal in the seaside town of Tamariu. Neal flew in from Detroit to spend the last two weeks riding bikes with Kevin and me. We have a beautiful view of the ocean. Kevin has great routes out of Tamariu. One was from the hotel where we had to climb 3km out of town and rode to Bisbal. Then Friday we went to Banyoles to swim in one of the only lakes in Spain. Unfortunately it is a rowing lake and we were asked to leave after 15:00 of swimming. They missed Neal and he got his entire swim in. Neal said the guy felt sorry for him since he was swimming slower than we were! We then rode from Olot straight up for 10km. The descent was beautiful, winding, and fast. I am learning to descend much better than last year. I guess you can teach “an old dog new tricks”! Saturday was a gorgeous sunny day and we did a 100 mile ride taking almost 7 hours. We thought it would be about six hours, but again the terrain makes it deceiving. We rode to Tossa del Mar. It was breathtaking. We first saw it from way up above as we rode about 15 miles on this winding up and downhill road through Costa Brava or the Savage Beast. The rode is aptly named as we were either climbing or descending but the views were spectacular. Neal had two flat tires on the way there so we actually had a couple of breaks in the ride. While in Tossa del Mar we stopped for food…we were starving. I had chocolate milk and chocolate chip cookie…life was great. We ate it at the beach crowded with sun bathers, many topless women or men in skimpy Speedos! Quite a sight to see J In the beginning of the ride, we ended up being a bit lost and while stopping for water, a very nice woman came out speaking only Spanish and luckily for us Neal is fluent in Spanish. She offered us fruit which was delicious and her husband came out and drew us a map in the dirt so we could get back to the main rode.

I have learned a few things while in Spain. People are incredibly friendly to cyclists, they give us lots of room while passing, and they offer us food, directions, and always a smile. The medieval castles are truly places to see with stone roads, incredible architecture, and a glimpse into the past dating back to 16th century. There is nothing like that to see back home. I have also learned that as we enter most cities, cow manure is spread on the outlying areas. It made for very fragrant rides. Lastly I am learning to eat late at night. Most restaurants do not open until 8:30 and then it is a long meal, usually 2 hours in length. A very late night for me as I finish dinner and go right to bed. I miss my early dinners. Also, everything closes from noon until four p.m. My Spanish is not very good and in fact I keep saying French words instead of the little Spanish that I do know!

Today we head to the Pyrenees Mountains in Spain for 3 more days of riding before we head back to the Pyrenees in France for another few days of mountain riding and watching the Tour de France. So, Spain has been a wonderful interlude from all the mountain climbing.

Adios,

Laura

Gold Level – Ironman

Level: Gold
Distance: Ironman
Individualized Program: Yes
Bi-Weekly Programs: Yes
E-Mail Contact: Unlimited
Phone Consultations: as needed, athlete initiated
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Monthly Fee: $200

Workout Suggestions – Swim Build

Description:  Volume is an important key to Ironman training.  The following is a great Ironman build swim to improve your endurance and speed in the water.

W/U 400 swim as 200 free, 200 stroke
4 x 200 :30 R.I
6 x 150 (Descend in sets of 30) :20 R.I.
8 x 100 Fast on interval you are able to maintain for each with :10 R.I.
16 x 50 :10 R.I.
C/D 300

Workout Suggestion – Bike Intervals

Description : Intervals are a great way to improve your power and speed on the bike.  The following is an effective bike workout for any race distance.  Use intervals to build and then keep speed.

Details:

W/U 10 miles  Flat if possible

Main Set:
6-8 x 2 miles on a flat stretch of road.  Build up to 8 over a trainng period/or put in your plan once a week.
3:00 recovery between each

C/D 10 miles steady state ridiing

Testimonial – Julie B.

Laura is phenomenal! Not only does she know the tri world, but is able to share this knowledge with her clients. Laura is always available, is always supportive and continually pushes me to new levels. I would not be training at the level I am without Laura’s nonstop support. Honestly, I do not want the world to learn about Laura because she is my secret weapon.

– Julie B.

Biking the Alps Part 2

We have been staying this week in a “Gite” in La Grande de Champeau which is a rustic vacation apartment attached to a home in the valley of Allemont. It was beautiful and the bonus is that we have a washer so our clothes finally smell better! The refrigerator is very cold which is great since ice seems to be somewhat of an odd commodity in France.

Our landlord Marc speaks some English and told us of great running trails. I was able to do my first long run surrounded by mountains, a river, and lots of rag weed which sent my hay fever into overdrive. So, the running has been spectacular, not fast, but gorgeous. One lesson I have learned while having to make a pit stop during my long run is that weeds that look like weeds from back home are NOT the same. I learned that about 15 minutes later when I had a horrible burning and itching sensation which lasted another 24 hours.

On tap this week was the riding the route called the Marmotte. It is a famous ride/race here that attracts 8000 people. The race is July 4th this year and we wanted to ride it before we were surrounded by 8000 people all descending the mountains at the same time. Kevin actually rode it Tuesday alone as I was doing a track workout and was not quite ready to take these climbs on. I needed more mental preparation! Here is a description of the ride:

“La Marmotte is one of the toughest one-day cycling events in the World, only 174km, but almost 17,000 feet of climbing The event goes over the col del la Croix de Fer, col de Telegraphe, cold du Galibier and finishes at the top of one of the most famous Tour de France climbs, Alpe d’Huez!” A climbers dream!

Ok, I never thought of myself as a climber, but after doing this ride, I would now say I am! It actually makes the climb up Hog Pen in the north Georgia Mountains seem like an anthill!

The ride was 120 miles long and it took me 10:35 minutes on the bike I have never been on a bike that long and in fact it is about the same time just riding as I did my fastest ironman race in! The col de Croix Fer was tough. It took me 1:50 to ride 31.6 km and climbing over 4950 ft . On top of that, an animal carrying truck passed us and continued to drop piles of poop along the route. So I tried to avoid those piles, concentrate on climbing and breathing all at the same time. Then a guy from England named Tim Fowler passed me and I could not just let him go by so, I caught him and started chatting. It was great as he spoke English and I had someone to talk with for the next 1:30! I am sure I climbed much better because I was not feeling sorry for myself! He left at the top and we continued to the col de Telegraph and col de Galibier. That was 36 km long and 6500 ft. of elevation. That took me almost 3 hours. I have included the picture Kevin took as I was lacking oxygen and brain power to get to the top of the Galibier J Kevin climbed about 9:00 min faster so he was a bit chilly with all that snow and wind. The descent off the Galibier is mind boggling. I remember watching the Tour riders in their drops, aero position, and flying down the mountain. In contrast, I am sitting up, hands on the brakes so much so that my joints hurt and I was not even close to flying down those 180 turns! But it was a “un adventure plus grande” nonetheless! But we were not done yet. We descended about 25 miles (awesome) and then ended at the bottom of Alpe d”Huez. It is 15.2 km and 3800 ft of climbing with the steepest grade being 12%, It was really a mental challenge ascending the climb. All the nutritional wisdom of consuming our protein/carbohydrate supplements was trumped by a deep ravenous hunger that had us sucking down Coke (which I never drink) Café au Lait, and platter of Pommes Frites (French fries, smothered in ketsup). After chatting for an hour with other Le Marmet survivors (Dutch and English) at the Café, we had the real pleasure of descending 4,000 ft in the late afternoon shadows and coolness. After starting at 6 AM, we finally rolled into our Gites at 7 PM – 13 hours on the bike without mishap, crash or flat!!!

Saturday was another beautiful day in the Alps. We headed off for a trail run and then an easy bike ride. What I have also learned is what you think will take two hours on a bike, actually takes 4-5 hours. The easy spin turned into another mountain pass called La Berarde. It kicks up to a 10% grade for 3 km. I was not ready for that and by the top I felt totally spent. But, it was a great descent down the mountain. Sunday is our first swim in a pool and then a short spin ride. We leave Allemont and head over to Avignon to take on Mount Ventoux. More to follow next week!

A Bientoit,

Laura

Note the grade, avalanche photo, and warnings about ice on the top of the Galibier! All in a days ride J