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Back in late October it turned cold pretty fast and we all thought it was sure to stick around. Bookman and I prepared to hunker down into winter hibernation. I wasn’t quite ready, I still had a few things to do in the garden in terms of bedding it all down for the season, but well, there is nothing to be done when everything goes frozen.

The lakes began icing over. The ground had a top layer of frost in it. All the green died. And then as suddenly as it had turned cold it turned warm again. The day after Thanksgiving it was 60F/15C! Today it was 50F/10C and I went outside without a coat and cleaned the chicken coop and piled some leaves onto a few plants. I am not certain any longer what season it is exactly.

The weather is about to change again, this time, I think, to winter for real. It will begin warm enough tomorrow, close to 50F again, with rain and maybe even a thunderstorm. In December! But by the late afternoon the cold air rushing over the Arctic from Siberia will be blowing in, turning the rain to snow and for the rest of the week our daytime temperatures will be hovering around 20F/-6C.

One thing the warmth after the early cold did allow was for Bookman and I to finish all those outdoor chores we thought we weren’t going to get to do. So that’s a plus. The Dashwoods have been able to enjoy frost-free ground for the last few weeks much to their chicken pleasure. They will not be pleased about the snow that will not be melting, at least not this week.

To give them something to do this winter, I am wondering if I should teach them to be a chicken chorus and sing a few holiday carols like this one:


Since the outdoor cycling season is over, I have been doing lots of indoor training on my bike and these last two weekends have participated in team races. The training has been fantastic, an eight-week targeted training for the team races that was coached not only for on-bike workouts but off-bike work too and mental fitness training and nutrition as well. It was my first time having such a structured program with specific goals and real coaching. I loved it! And most of all, it worked.

The first team race was 55.5 miles/80 kms and my virtual team fielded a number of squads in all of the categories (A-D with A being elite). I was able to race on an all women’s squad in the B category. Cycling being a male-dominated sport and the race being organized by a man, he decided that women who wanted to race should race in a separate women’s individual race. But we wanted to race as a team. He told us that we would have to race under the same rules as the men no separate podium for the women and no separate Queen of the Mountain points for women. Fine.

We were one of only a few women’s squads racing and we had a blast, learned a lot and while we didn’t even come close to winning, we did not come in last either. While we knew that we’d be racing under the men’s rules two months before the race, a few weeks ago a women-only racing team was formed and they put together about eight or nine squads across all the categories for the race. With the sudden influx of women-only squads wanting to race, the women only team asked if there could be a women’s podium and QOM points. Words were exchanged between the race organizer and the new women’s team. Instead of being told, sorry there isn’t enough time this year to organize women’s cats, etc, he told them if you want your own women’s rules then organize your own race. So they boycotted the race and organized a women’s team race that took place yesterday.

The Women’s Team Championship was the same race categories, same route and same distance as the other race. In little more than a week over 80 women registered to race and what a race it was! Final results have not yet been tabulated, we should know by Tuesday at the latest, but preliminary results suggest my B team will be on the podium! Individually, I placed 7th overall in my category and my teammates placed 3rd and 9th.

Race organizers and men in cycling generally wonder how to get women more involved but they don’t bother to ask women how to do that and go on what they think is a good idea. Then when women don’t show up to their events (or – gasp! – ask for something different) they don’t understand why and instead of asking, start making up their own reasons that generally amount to “women just aren’t interested.” But clearly that is not the case. Women are interested as yesterday’s race proves.

My mixed-gender virtual racing team is supportive of women and we have regular women-focused group rides and workouts and a women’s race twice a month that gets real-time race announcers and internet broadcast. It is well attended and there are a good many regulars. Now the new women-only racing team is putting on regular races too on opposite Saturdays to my team’s races and a couple times during the week. There is also another mixed gender team that sponsors a Thursday night women’s race. The opportunities are out there and growing and hopefully more and more women will take advantage of them. Sisters are doing it for themselves!

Next week I will start a six-week coached winter training camp that I am looking forward to. Then starting in early January will be 8 weeks of league racing in which I will earn points that could put me into a semi-finals race with the end result a trip to Los Angeles for a finals race where we are all in the same place, side-by side racing virtually. I know it sounds weird, but it is totally amazing. There was an event in Paris over the summer that was super exciting. There are $100,000 worth of prizes up for grabs through the league and the finals, spread across all categories with equal prizes for both men and women. How awesome is that?

Exciting times in the virtual cycling world!