ICELAND on the EDGE

4 07 2018

 

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The “Bucket List“.  An itinerary of things one may want to do, or places one may want to visit before one dies. Iceland was high on my bucket list for quit some time. Years ago, 2010 to be exact, while watching the Bachelorette, they were in Iceland and I said to my boyfriend who was not paying attention to the show  “We’re going to Iceland.”  He just said ok to placate me, but I meant it and knew if we could bike there he would go.   But for the same reason  people sometimes are triggered to create a bucket list, I suddenly had a medical mishap. This out of the blue heart defect thingy sidelined me for a little while. *See Fit,Fifty & WTF.  But if theres one thing a life threatening  illness or in my case open heart surgery does is makes you realize that time is not guaranteed to no one and you need to stop putting off what you can and want to do today.  So to celebrate the two year anniversary of my new aortic valve  I knew it was time to check it off the list and away we went to the land of fire.

While Iceland is a “hot” place to visit when you tell people that’s where you are vacationing they ask you “Is it cold?” Followed by “Where is Iceland?” and “Are you going to bike in Iceland?”   Now before you assume I surround myself with people of little geographical knowledge, know that 64% of American’s have never left the country.

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“Welcome to the land of the ice and snow.” (Repeat. But this time sing it like you’re Robert Plant.) So impressed with Icelands majestic terrain “The Immigrant Song” by the great Led Zeppelin was inspired to be written.  Iceland is an island in the Atlantic Ocean and the second largest island in Europe. It is also the most sparsely populated country in Europe. A quick 5 hour flight from Newark Airport and we were there.

 

Time constraints and busy season prices, we opted to take a chance and go in late March. This  is what is known as the beginning of their summer season.  Temperatures ranged in the high 50’s to mid 60’s.  Along with this choice of gambling on the changing of the seasons we did encounter the negatives that we had hoped we would somehow avoid. Our scheduled Volcano mountain bike ride ended up getting cancelled twice due to extremely high winds and bad weather. To give you an idea how windy it was when we were there the headlines of the newspaper read “Winds in Iceland cause flying trailers and trampolines.”  The beginning of summer is known for it’s  more severe glacial winds and this can cause the closing of sections of Ring Road also known as Rt.1. and if you can’t use this thoroughfare your trip plans get messed up!  The most popular attractions  are along the “The Golden Circle” section and our first two days we could only venture by car to sight see a certain radius along Ring Road because of road closures.  Finally, on the day prior to our departure our prayers were answered by the weather goddess.  Which meant we would finally get  to “The Edge”, the ride we pre-selected from the bike tour company  Icebike Adventure  . You can check out the many rides offered on Icebike Adventures web sight and make sure to follow them on Instagram.  Our guide Magne arrived at our hotel and we headed about 20 minutes outside Reyjakvik  towards the beautiful blue hued Bláfjöll volcanic mountain range.

Rain gear and trail shoes, not bike shoes as told from IceBike Adventures, who were awesome answering my questions via email prior to our trip, because although we would be riding we would be doing some walking on jagged terrain.  Armed with our fat tire bikes hiked on our shoulders, Magne said “Follow me” and he took off like a rabbit hopping thru a green patch of moss.  Obviously this bumpy moss covered terrain was a texture Magne was well accustomed to, however from the second I started our 1/4 mile trek threw this multi level green matted lava rock the Philly girl in me surfaced. “WTF”   You have this green sponge substance anchored over lava rock. Moss likes water so it looks pretty but you’re  trying to walk, see where you’re going so you don’t lose a limb  in-between a crevasse. I also am looking around for a martian to pop out  because it it so surreal and seriously looks like the set of a space movie.

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The higher part of the Volcano still had some white stuff that had not melted so we got to ride through some sections that still had some snow. And as we encountered these little white patches Magne would traverse down like Alberto Tomba as did Kevin my boyfriend. Me, I instantly would hit the snow and instead of peddling through, fall over and find myself sliding down sideways.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And to all of the snow riding experts out there, here’s my million and one excuses.  I never rode a fat tire bike. This particular bike was way too big for me. No the seat wouldn’t

IMG_2998adjust lower and I never rode a bike in the snow!  As we descended down the “Edge” we did so along with the run off of the earlier rains and the melting snow.  The trails are deep and muddy.  Which is why you are riding a fat tire and not a 26″ or 27.5″ tire.  While the scenery was spectacular, and the ride epic, it did at times become frustrating for me. Since I was on a bike that was way too big I did not have the steering control, and therefore every time my front tire hit something the bike would ricochet back throwing me and my vajayjay forward on to the bike bar.  Which brought again lots of F-Bombs out of my mouth and left me with a bruise the color of the blue lagoon.

By the bottom of this 3 plus hour majestical ride the sun appeared, the sweat dripped and we were now clad in T-shirts, mud and big smiles.  The colors, terrain and the textures unlike anything I have ever seen or ridden before in my life. The beauty of Iceland is simply breathtaking, and to be able to take in this magical ride is something I certainly do not take for granted. It is days like this that reinforce why I have a bucket list. Why it is so important to me to do things, see things and experience things rather than have things. Good health is not guaranteed. And certainly something one should never take for granted.  We can do our best to live our healthiest, but as I found out sometimes the cards have been dealt prior to birth and we never know what is lying in our hands or genes. What I can tell you is that I will always continue to add to my bucket list and always strive to check things off no matter what challenges should come my way.

The world is big and I want to have a good look before it gets dark. ” John Muir

The white hummer awaited us at the bottom with cold drinks thanks to Magnes staff.  The day was perfect and thankfully we were not repacking our clean bike gear for the trip home. That would have really sucked. Iceland CHECK!

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*For the Road riders you can ride or book with a bike tour company to travel parts or even the whole “Golden Circle” also known as Ring Road. This would be for those riders who can withstand the extreme strong winds, various terrain of tarmac and gravel along with various weather related road conditions along and steep hills.

Accommodations: We had debated on whether to stay at one of the bigger Hotels chains however even in the off season the rates seemed rather high and I personally preferred a location within a close walking distance to the main area of downtown Reykjavik.  Airbnb apartments will often showed up in your search as hotel rooms on the large travel sights so make sure when you are booking that you realize that a lot of these so called apartments are actually turn key hotel like rooms that are over other buildings with no lobby. There were many of these type rooms being built all over this area. We opted for small new Hotel called  Hotel Klettur  and were very please with our choice for it’s location, free continental breakfast, that went beyond just cereal and muffins and for its comfortable bed and linens.  It was furnished basic Scandinavian style furniture or as we American would say “looks like Ikea.”  If you are looking for fancy, book elsewhere.  

IMG_7163 Chasing Rainbows and Chillin’ 

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My VO2 Max and Threshold Test Experience

23 01 2014

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Whether you’re a competitive cyclist, runner, or a recreational rider like myself, you might be curious about how physically fit you really are. When I saw a  $25, “Intern Special” at Cadence Cycling and Multisport  in Manyunk for a VO2 and Threshold test, I jumped right on that deal since I have been wanting to do this for several years.   The test can usually cost anywhere from $100- $300.

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So what exactly is a V02 Max test?  Brady Gibney, who holds a national title in Duathalon, and is also a training coach and General Manager at  Cadence Cycling and Multisport, will explain:

“Vo2 max is a measure of an endurance athletes potential. Threshold (anaerobic, lactate or functional) is roughly a measure of your current fitness. We combine these numbers to define your efficiency; how hard you are working at a given intensity. You train, eat, and sleep your sport, and after a race inevitably ask, “could I have gone faster?” A test can help us create training zones to help you increase your fitness. Ultimately, we all want to get faster, and training at or near threshold is the best way to do this. The machine we use has a metabolic chart, which means not only do you get training zones after the test, but we can also tell how many calories you’re burning in any zone. This is immensely useful for marathon and long distance triathletes. We find most first time endurance racers aren’t taking in nearly enough calories for 4+ hour races. Many racers test 2 weeks before a big event at peak fitness and one of our professional coaches will help to create a race-day food plan, ensuring enough calories are being consumed for optimal performance. All of this is possible because of a test that lasts no longer than 15 minutes.”

John Abbott and Jay McDevitt, both interns from West Chester University, conducted my test. I know, you’re saying “cool internship!”  Precisely mounted  on the special bike, I was then fitted  with a mouth piece connected to a tube that would monitor my breathing and my nose was clamped. Being a mouth breather I thought this would be no problem, but I have to admit it feels a little claustrophobic, and reminded me of breathing while scuba diving  The test consisted of riding a stationary bike while John and Jay monitored my heart rate and stats, and increased the intensity about every 2 to 3 minutes, taking me into more difficult stages. The stages started out fairly easy, but before I knew it I was sucking air. Literally, my need for more air had my mouth open so wide it I went wider than the mouth piece.  John and Jay knew at that moment I was done even though I gave a hand wave.  “Cool!  How high did my heart rate go?” I exclaimed when I finally caught my breath.

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Brady reviewed my test results with me, and I learned many things. The first ,which is both humbling and kind of aggravating to me, is I think I am in fairly good shape for a 50-year-old female and I now know I could be in better shape. By that I mean if I trained smarter I could increase my VO2 Max “Relative” results. Without getting into too much detail it’s a formula taking into consideration body weight, which differs from VO2 Max “Absolute”, which doesn’t figure your body weight into the equation.  Think of it as me at 137 lbs, having the same Vo2 “Absolute” results as a 200lb male. But our relative result is the more important number since we do not weigh the same.   Also, based on my numbers I know I spin too much, and don’t ride my bike enough! My body is used to me teaching Spin class  and therefore it’s not challenging enough for me.  I take my heart rate up, but I need more long endurance runs, or rides in the lactate threshold heart rate zone that I now know is for me, between 167 to 173 bpm.  My Vo2 number to increase is 48.08.

Bottom line: a higher max = a higher ability to intensely exercise. With my test results and new training program I got from Cadence I will definitely be back to re-test and see if I managed to increase my VO2 max. Testing should be done several times within a certain amount of months or a training season.

I want to thank the terrific guys at Cadence Multisport for making me feel like a serious athlete, which I am not!  Brady, John and Jay really treated my test no differently than if I was a  professional cyclist.  As a woman who has done some competitive mountain bike racing in the past, I know where women sometimes stand in the world of cycling, so I really want to commend them on this.  Did I ask a lot of questions? I think they couldn’t wait to put the mouth piece in me and clamp my nose off!

I highly recommend this test whether you are an elite athlete or just someone like myself wanting to train more efficiently.  If you live in or around the Philadelphia area give Brady and the guys at Cadence a call to set up a test at: 215-508-4300.

Check out their “Efficiency Test” SPECIAL that is going on right now

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Whether you’re a complete beginner looking for a Philadelphia bike store, have questions about a cost-effective, entry-level bike or an athlete looking for world-class coaching to take you to the next level, Cadence can help! And at Cadence, it doesn’t matter if you’re a pro or a beginner, their professional sales, coaching, and mechanical staff treat everyone the same way: with the utmost care, concern, and respect. 

You can find Cadence Cycling and Mutlisport at: http://www.cadencecycling.com

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MotivateHopeStrength.com  610-608-6087                                  e-mail hope@motivatehopestrength.com

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MOTIVATEHOPESTRENGTH.COM     PERSONAL TRAINING





Biking in Whistler Canada a Mountain Bikers Oasis by Hope Nagy

12 10 2013

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I just got back from a  trip to Whistler, in Canada.   Home to the  2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games ,Whistler is about a two and a half hour car ride from Vancouver along the scenic Highway 99, also known as the Sea to  Sky Highway. Whistler in  the winter months is a mecca for skiers and snowboarders.  In the spring, summer, and a little bit into the fall it is a mountain bikers paradise.  From cross country to downhill, Whistler offers it all. The views are amazing, also shared by road cyclists and hikers.

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SEA TO SKY HIGHWAY 

If you’re planning a trip to Whistler for mountain biking, I will tell you that September is the least expensive time of the year to go because it’s the end of bike season.   I would recommend going spring or summer if you can afford it.  Even though the prices for a hotel room are exceptionally low in September the risk of rain is high, as I found out first hand. Also the local bike shops sell off their rentals at the end of the season to make room for next years new models, so I did have a hard time finding decent bikes even though there are a lot of shops in Whistler Village and the surrounding areas. After several calls in the weeks prior to my vacation I was able to rent myself a 2014 Santa Cruz Juliana and my boyfriend a Santa Cruz 29’er Tallboy from Evolution.    Evolution Whistler: Snowboard, Skate, Bike, Fashion store is located right in Whistler Village, were very accommodating, and the bikes we rented were pristine.  Suddenly my vintage 2001 Cannondale Scalpel might need to be replaced by a new Santa Cruz!  I normally ride a men’s frame, but I enjoyed the ride and feel of this women’s bike. My boyfriend Kevin, who usually rides a 26″ tire, loved his 29’er Tallboy and confirmed for him that he wants to make the switch to a larger tire.

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Whistler is home to Whistler Bike Park, http://bike.whistlerblackcomb.com. The park is for riders of all levels. They have tight single track with drop offs, steep rock faces, roots, twists and turns, and ramps. After watching the awesome videos on their site  this non-armour clad gal decided to go the route of the hills and cross-country trails outside the bike park .  Body armour and motocross style downhill helmets are a must. The sight of dozens of downhillers walking their bikes through Whistler Village is pretty cool, and watching the downhillers race down the mountain is even cooler. I wish I had the balls to ride downhill!

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I was lucky after a shout out on my Facebook page MotivateHopeStrength, to have the company Whistler Bike Guide recommended to me.  Some guides take their vacations at the end of the season, but I totally lucked out. Not only did I find a great guide, but I got the man who published the first Whistler bike guide, and one of the designers of the Whistler Trail System at Lost Lake Park!  Grant Lamont  guided us up some awesome climbs, and quick twisting descending single tracks. No map for us needed.  Grant lead and we followed.  The trail system is 126 miles of single track in the forest, and the trails are marked like a ski slope. Green circles, blue squares and black diamonds.  Every trail system has a name and we rode most of the Zappa system, with names like Disco Boy, we also caught a ride on Comfortably Numb and the ever popular River Runs Through it.   Grant gave us a three hour plus tour that gave me the hill climbs I wanted, and the downhills that my boyfriend loves.  His expertise was appreciated, and made the ride more enjoyable since we didn’t have to think about getting lost, and instead got to enjoy the ride. He also gave us an in-depth history of the trail system along with some other entertaining stories.

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 Grant Lamont –Whistler Bike Guide

Whistler Village was quaint.  Great shops, lodging, restaurants, and an over abundance of coffee shops.   Like most resort towns, Whistler is pricey.  The Four Seasons Whistler was beautiful and at the off-season rate it was very affordable.  When I search for a hotel it must have a gym/fitness room.   Location and a quality gym are my top priorities. I really wish more hotels would understand that a lot of us gym rats actually do base our choice of lodging based on it’s fitness room.    I give the Four Seasons Whistler a 10 out of 10 for the beautiful room, impeccable service and amenities, but only an 8.5 out of 10 for the fitness center.  The cardio equipment was in abundance and was like new.  At least 10 treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and even 14 sparkling new Schwinn Spin bikes. There were a few machines all that I didn’t particularly care for and one that was broken.   I never saw one person use these machines, most likely because they were awkward and were not user friendly. The small weight area had just one bench, which sat snugly in a very small area making it impossible for more than one person to lift. I will say I was pleasantly surprised that there was a bench press with a bar and plates, and a nicely sized aerobic room where they hold classes in the busier season.  For a hotel of this size and grandeur the weight area could be a little bigger so that at least two people could use it at the same time. I did love that the gym was located right next to the spa and I throughly enjoyed going right from the gym to the outside hot tubes, steam rooms and showers. Note to the Four Seasons, you can hire me to design and equip your fitness rooms!

FOUR SEASON WHISTLER

FOUR SEASON WHISTLER

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Heading back to Vancouver we stopped at the Capilano Bridge Suspension Park.  Spectacular and breathtaking bridges, cat walks contained in a rain forest. The perfect ending to a perfect trip! Now… where should I go next?

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Hope Nagy Personal Trainer

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MotivateHopeStrength.com

Email Hope at:    Hope@motivatehopestrength.com

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