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Spring at last!

Finally – spring is here!

 

This week I was able to bike commute in to work two days in a row – both days needed 3/4 bottoms, full-finger windproof gloves and a light thermal jacket in the morning but the evening ride home was in a short-sleeved jersey and fingerless gloves. I felt strong and happy. After a long winter, it feels amazing to be outside and not bundled up.

Interestingly I’m still pacing last year’s total mileage and looking forward to many spring and early summer rides! I signed up for 30 Days of Biking – I’m pledge #2! – to help motivate me to get out and ride. The premise is simple – ride your bike any distance, any speed, every day in April. There’s no pressure, no metrics … just joyful bike riding. If you haven’t signed up before, I encourage you to take the pledge and share your daily experiences online.

 

Yesterday I had (yet another) close call with a female motorist. There is a half-mile section of road that has unbelievably terrible pavement on both ends of the bridge (while the bridge itself is smooth). The right side of the road is littered with potholes and places where the pavement has buckled, heaved and made mini-moguls. This used to be one of my favorite sections of road because once you get on the bridge you are in the treetops. So beautiful when the sun is rising.

Anyway, my commuter friend and I had just gotten to the end of the bridge and I was attempting to merge into traffic (take the lane at about 20mph) to avoid the nasty roadway when a woman passed on my left inches from me, nearly forcing me into the rough. Usually I left this kind of stuff go – no sense in getting upset, it happens – but instead I got mad and started hammering up the hill behind her. I wanted to catch up to her and ask her why she thought that was OK. I wanted to confront her. I had no chance to catch up to her so I ended up just flipping her off from about four car-lengths behind and yelling obscenities in her direction. The upshot is I scored a new PR on that stretch of my commute from giving her chase. Haha

This is the third time this year I’ve had issues with a vehicle and a woman was behind the wheel. Fellow women of the world – please drive safely. Don’t be a jerk.

 

Here’s a shot from yesterday’s bike ride home. There’s a tree that fell in the ice storm (way back when) and is perched precariously across the trail. There’s enough room to ride under it but every time I do I feel like I have tempted fate. I’ve dubbed it The Gauntlet. Hope the park service takes care of it soon!

 

Death-defying!

Death-defying!

 

Every weekend has at least one bike ride scheduled this month – so excited to be back in the saddle with wonderful weather!

 

See you on the road or in the woods!

Z-List Celebrity

Friends, I don’t like to toot my own horn too much but I’ve had some good press lately that I felt I should share:

I went for a ride with my friend Ken and our new friend Rachel from Missouri last weekend. It wasn’t particularly long and while we stopped for a healthy snack, we probably could have done with out the stop. It was ridiculously fun though and I admired Rachel’s awesome Yakkay helmet and her super-cute haircut.

Rachel was going to the National Bike Summit the next day. She reported back that my awesome friend Katie, who was presenting on her Women Bike PHL movement, mentioned me by name as part of the Girl Scouts on Wheels program. So humbled to be mentioned at a national summit about cycling. Katie rode her bike from NYC to DC to attend the summit. She’s amazing.

Then one of my favorite cycling apparel companies, Road Holland, put a photo I sent them in their Year End blog post. They make great wool-blend cycling jerseys and I love them for spring and fall rides. 

Today my friends at 30 Days of Biking featured me on their Facebook page. I don’t even know why but I am tremendously thrilled to be chosen for a random shout-out. And hey – if you haven’t taken the pledge yet, why not now? Pledge to ride your bike every day in April – any distance, any speed, any weather, every day. Share those experiences online in a joyful cyclist community!

 

Today I was out for a 30-miler with Ken that featured snow-clogged trails, a wonderful sit-down snack at Outbound Station, and then me suggesting we tackle some hills on the way home. Because you know, not riding regularly is really conducive to attacking big hills. We biked up this monster on Hagys Mill Road in Philadelphia – it’s a little over a quarter-mile and averages 12%. There is one pitch in particular where I was genuinely concerned I might fall off my bike and why the hell would I ever want to be clipped into my bike? I think that section is around 17-20%.

Anyway, it was all hills and busy roads home from there. Beautiful day to ride. We haven’t had many of these lately this winter so you have to grab the days you can.

 

See you on the road!

If They Only Knew …

Saw this on the internet recently and am keeping it in mind when I get down on myself for not looking Photoshop-perfect:

 

Such Sweet Bodies

Not sure who to credit for this but it’s an excellent graphic reminder. Love the body you have – make it strong!

 

It’s been a brutal winter for outside bike riding. Between back-to-back snow, ice storms, power outages, and a vicious melt-freeze cycle there just hasn’t been an opportunity to safely ride outside. Many of the cyclists I know hang up the bike in late fall and don’t start again until spring is fully underway. Some cyclists I know suck it up and put their bikes on a trainer or pull out the rollers and spend their time pedaling quickly to nowhere to retain some semblance of fitness. I’ve avoided the trainer as long as possible, finally breaking down only last week.

After a spotty record of physical activity in January, I decided to start training for my 5-mile run coming up in April. Get some base miles at my work’s gym on the treadmill until it’s light enough after work to be outside. If there’s anything more boring than being on a trainer, it’s a treadmill. The first run was brutal. It hurt. I was lethargic and I went too fast too soon and while I don’t do “serious” distance I stay focused on just being active. Sure enough the next few runs felt better. I’ve been able to stick to running about 6-7 miles per week this month.

Certainly I am eager to get back into regular riding to shed a few winter pounds that somehow magically find their way to my pear-shaped body when the riding decreases and the eating stays the same. I’d like to tell you, friends, that cycling has given me perspective. That I have found the holy grail of self-acceptance and am completely comfortable in my skin every single day. The truth is I have and I haven’t.

When I bought the Beast and was first beginning to ride, I wore a skort and famously told my more serious cycling friends that I didn’t need anyone looking at my ass-ets. That I wasn’t going to be a “serious” rider anyway. Ten mile rides with stops to drink became fifteen mile rides and being able to reach for my water bottle and drink comfortably. Thirty-five milers became my long rides and with it a new pair or shorts (still rockin’ the unders though). First event, a 50-miler with my best friend – rockin’ the shorts. Somewhere around this time I stopped caring what my hips looked like in Spandex. I bought new jerseys that looked awesome. I started to love riding and took any excuse to hop on my bike and pedal off for a few hours. It took much longer to lose the unders and I’m so thankful I did.

The best thing about riding is definitely the company kept but also often times the food. Fuel the ride well – no need to go crazy overboard. I’ve learned how to use real food (trail mix, dried fruit and nuts) in addition to my favorite energy bars, beans, and goos. But come the end of the season or a long drought of good weather and one can find themselves staring down a few pounds that happened “even though you are eating the same!” Yeah – I’m right there with you. Getting back on track with healthy eating and adequate exercise. (Although the time off was very nice for getting house work done and spending time with the family)

 

This past weekend was so gorgeous – I got a 4 mile run outside on Saturday (snow-melt puddle stomping and the scent of fallen pine branches thawing in the sun) and a 45 mile bike ride on Sunday with friends to find lunch. The sun was shining, the temps were mid-forties to low-fifties. It felt scandalous to be out riding and running with mounds of snow still blocking traffic corners. It felt so good to be outside! This week is a big dive in temperatures and a few snow showers expected. Looking forward to another week of the treadmill and trainer so when spring fully arrives, I can hit the road running. (haha)

 

Making plans for all the rides we want to do this summer: restarting mountain bike rides with the club, Quad County, Ride for Homes, heading down the Shore, The Lemon Ride, Philly to Brooklyn, lunch in St Peter’s Village … it’s going to be a great summer!

See you on the road! 

Powerless

This past week our family, as well as over half-a-million other families, were without power due to an overnight ice storm that left a quarter- to a half-inch of ice on every surface already covered by about 6-8″ of heavy, wet snow. School was closed and many trains were suspended for a day. The house got progressively colder as the power outage wore on and the outside temps didn’t get above freezing – starting at a manageable-with-layers low-60s and slowly creeping down every day to a bone-chilling 41* on Day Four. We bailed on staying in the house the night of Day Three when it was about 45* in the house and moved into a hotel. Our dogs went to a boarding facility that still had power.

Driving through our neighborhood after dark was eerie and felt abandoned. Apocalyptic – like people once lived and played here. Now it’s just dark and empty. Every night we were told our power should be back up by very late that night, but sadly that wasn’t the case. And I believe it’s not the energy company’s fault – the sheer number of streets closed due to massive downed trees and wires was incredible. Each day a few more streets would open up, a few more houses getting power again. And we waited. Finally the power came back on very last night. The house was at 41* and falling.

Friends, I share this with you not for sympathy but because spending several days at home in a cold, dark house has been enlightening.  For us, this was a mere inconvenience – we had the means to afford a warm place to go and keep our pets warm and fed. And already I am evaluating options for being able to stay in the house longer and keep it warmer.

We all know there are people in our communities that lack basic services because they can’t afford it. For many, our short-term inconvenience is their everyday reality. Our family has personally been between homes before and the lack of a place to call home is very disconcerting. Unmooring. This needs to be remedied in our community.

That’s why I am proud to be raising funds for Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia’s Ride for Homes. I share their belief that everybody needs a safe and affordable place to call home. Every family contributes to their build and the build of others’ homes. The Ride for Homes is a four-day, 250 mile bike ride from Philadelphia to Harrisburg and back to advocate for more affordable housing and raise much needed funds to assist in building 10 new homes in our community and make repairs to 75 other homes.

My goal is to raise $1,000 to help fund this mission. Will you stand with me to help others have a safe, warm home to come home to?

Click here to give a few dollars to my campaign – no donation is too small. Together we can help those in our community have a safe and affordable place to call home: https://share.habitat.org/laura-kelly-rideforhomes

Thank you for your support! See you on the road (if it ever stops snowing and raining!) …

Homesick

On Jan 5, Singletracks posted this video on their Twitter feed:

… and I got homesick.

You see, Dakota Ridge was my backyard and while I didn’t mountain bike when I lived in Colorado, I know that area well.

And for a few hours, my heart ached to be back in Colorado riding my bike.

Ached I tell you.

Then I fed the fire by looking up the Strava segments for Lookout Mountain and realizing that getting to the top of that mountain was not just achievable for everyone else in the world, but it would be achievable for me. Looked at Google Maps to see the trails crisscrossing Green Mountain.

Friends, I’m telling you. Physically ached.

Last night as I was waiting to pick up my oldest child from an evening school activity, my youngest child and I were talking about how sometimes we miss Colorado. She misses her friends and is sad that one particular friend hasn’t written back in almost a year. One of her new friends reminds her of her best friend in Colorado. We talked about how people move on, make new friends, stop writing letters and leave the old friends in the past. I shared with her about when I moved from Massachusetts to Colorado – I was about her age and was sad when the letters started to trickle off. But I focused on my new friends and eventually, I was able to move on too.

And as we were talking I realized many of my friends are leaving Colorado too now – for Portland, Seattle, Nashville. We’re all scattering across the country. So even if we did go back to Colorado, it wouldn’t be the same.

(well, the mountains would be. And the trails. And the friends I have who are staying.)

The answer isn’t to keep looking back at the past but to look forward and enjoy the times that we have with our new friends … and savor the times with our old friends whenever we can get together again.

See you on the road.

Pro Tip #1

Remember when I said my winter cycling shoes were so heavy? So heavy that I could feel my upstroke and my quads were terribly unhappy very early in the bike ride?

Maybe not but I do.

Anyway several rides ago I had an post-ride-shower epiphany. It’s the cleats.

I had installed my SPD cleats in my usual position – which would be fine … if the shoes weren’t two sizes larger than my usual cycling shoes. Checked where the widest part of my foot was hitting inside the shoe and moved the cleat back significantly.

Sure enough, my winter shoes are no longer a terrible burden and when coupled with toe warmers, I’m a much happier cyclist out on the road and in the woods. Praise Science!

 

Pro Tip #1: if it doesn’t feel quite right, tweak it until it does.

 

See you on the road or in the woods!

 

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