It's catchy: 'Bike fever' rampant on Kenai Peninsula

Posted: Sunday, April 11, 2010

Editor's note: "Focus on Fitness" is a new feature with healthy lifestyle advice from local and national health and fitness experts. Check here weekly great information and tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

There is a new threat in town. I've heard "bike fever" has hit the Peninsula with a vengeance.

It's everywhere, no one is safe, and perhaps the only thing that can stop it is ... SNOW! Let's face it folks, we live in Alaska, and a cold April snow is inevitable (and infuriating!).

But this could be a perfect opportunity to haul our beloved bicycles into Beemun's for a tune up. While you're at it, you could pick up some good safety gear, like helmets, (also known as brain buckets -- by the way, nowadays you look dorky NOT sporting a helmet) flashy red lights to annoy your friends, and bright yellow jackets that would have been fashionable in the 80s.

All set? Now what?

I've been scoping out the Unity Trail, the bike path that is fondly known to local triathletes as "The Loop," and it's looking good. My friend said she saw the sweepers out already. So grab a few friends, bribe your co-workers with candy, or just go for a solo ride for the 23ish miles of paved goodness.

Not ready for 23 miles yet? Pick an out-and-back course to ease into things.

Want to have some fun? You can do some Fartlek training (funny word, huh? Say it, and it will both impress triathlon coaches like me and cause first-graders to laugh hysterically!). It's a simple and fun way to incorporate intervals into your training. Pick a landmark that is a decent distance, like a driveway, a house, a moose (kidding) and pick up your pace a bit until you get there. Then go easy for a little while until you choose another target. Repeat ad nauseam. Yeah, you might actually get a little nauseated

Or maybe you think you're ready for the bigger rides? I have just the ride for you! The Alaska Randonneurs put on rides all over the state of Alaska. Actually their first 200-kilometer ride starts in right here in Kenai on April 17. They will ride from Kenai to Captain Cook Park, back toward Kasilof and finally get back to Kenai. And of course you don't have to ride the whole course, just be sure to tell them that when you start.

And dress warm, my friend! Toe covers, layers, gloves, and those instant foot warmers would be a good idea. Trust me, cycling with cold feet is the worst!

Check out the Web site for more information.

Another option for a long ride would be a ride to Homer that is being organized for April 24. There is a SAG wagon in case you need help along the way, and good company to ride with, to be sure. These April rides are great because we beat most of the motor home traffic. Contact Tony Oliver at 252-0558 for more information.

And last but not least, the ever popular Clean Air Challenge is May 8. This ride raises money for the American Lung Association and is a very popular ride with many crazy Alaskans. The 60-mile trip starts in Houston (Alaska, not Texas) and goes to Talkeetna. If you sign up for the 120 mile, you get to sleep at the beautiful Talkeetna Princess Lodge, and ride the same 60 miles back to Houston on Sunday. Check out the Web site to register or enter pledges for participants.

And of course you can still ride now, snow or no snow. My dear friend saw her Poppa out riding on a recent evening as a matter of fact, preparing for the Clean Air Challenge. Hmmmm, maybe tomorrow ...

Angie Brennan is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist who trains herself and other crazy Alaskans on the Kenai Peninsula. Contact her at 953-6299 for personal training and athletic programming, coaching, and public speaking.

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