Reflection

Friends, it’s been a bit since I last posted because well, I haven’t been riding my bike lately.

I went on a wonderful Earn Your Breakfast ride a few weeks ago to Aunt Judy’s in Doylestown with four guys from Philly Bike Club under cloudy skies and 40 degree temps. I questioned my layering at first because it didn’t seem like enough – long sleeve base, wooly, windbreaker, thin cap under my helmet, full-finger gloves, padded wool socks but no toe covers – but it ended up being perfect. Except for the lack of toe covers – my toes were chilled!

Then I made a total rookie mistake and ate my protein (pepper-onion-tomato-cheese omelette) at breakfast but neglected my starches (potatoes) and carbs (whole wheat toast). A few miles into the return trip my quads were screaming at me. I downed a goo and my legs were happy again. Note to self: fuel the ride!

I also completed my first 5k under sunny skies and upper-40s temps. My time ended up being 33:20 – not too bad for a first-timer. And don’t tell anyone but I actually enjoyed it. My friend used this as a taper event for his entry in the Philly Marathon and he finished in 25something minutes. My other friend, who used this as motivation to work out and get in shape, ran an awesome 40-something time. So many other runners – and free soft pretzels at the finish! I would do another 5k, maybe a 10k if I had make the time to train.

I also signed up for my first ever mountain biking clinic. They have demo bikes that can be used and because I don’t have a mountain bike, I requested one. The flyer said the clinic is open to all levels so I mentioned in my registration this is my first mountain biking experience. So far no one I know has also signed up. I think it would be more fun to fall and laugh WITH someone – but if I have to head out on a solo experience, so be it.

So here we are at Thanksgiving time and I have so much to be thankful for. My family, my friends, my continued employment, a roof over my head, and the ability to meet our basic needs. I’m particularly thankful my parents’ recent health issues have abated and they are here visiting me in Philadelphia today. I’m thankful I have a couple bikes that I can ride in safe neighborhoods with my friends. I’m thankful for you, my faithful readers, because it means I’m not talking into nothing.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving! I hope you earned your dinner.

See you on the road!

Daydream Believer

Sometimes I’m in my office at the high-rise monolith where I work, clickity-clacking away on my keyboard, and I stop to gaze out the window to think “Man, I would so much rather be out on my bike today.”

How luxurious to wake at a reasonable hour, fuel up on coffee and mini-wheats, throw on my gear and hit the road. Maybe a lunch break at the tiny bakery several townships (and 40 miles) over.

The smooth pedal strokes propelling me forward into the world, slicing through time and space.

Floating up hills … effortless.

Fresh air and sunshine. Or fresh air and overcast. Sometimes riding in the rain is delicious in its own right – surrendering yourself to just getting wet and muddy and relishing the moment.

Recounting the wildlife encountered: the herons and emus, deer families and foxes.

Laughter. Friendship. Fun.

It’s true that money can’t buy happiness … but it does buy a bicycle, which is pretty damn close.

this is my mom and her bike. proof my addiction to bicycles is hereditary.

See you on the road!

Coffee Break

Everyone has certain associations with Saturday mornings from their childhood. Mine were waking up so early the test pattern was still on the local affiliate station (does that even happen anymore?) and sitting on the couch with my sisters under homemade blankets, eagerly awaiting Saturday morning cartoons. My dad would get up around 8 to cook us breakfast – scrambled eggs, fried Spam or bacon, and all the orange juice we could handle. After breakfast was time to get dressed, do our chores and go outside to play.

My dad was more of an instant coffee drinker until I was in middle school – and it was around 8th grade or so that I sampled my first cup of coffee. To this day I can’t drink coffee black – I’m more of a “like my sugar with coffee and cream” kind of girl. For many years I would simply have a cup of whatever was in the workplace breakroom, regardless of the quality of flavor. Then I went on a several year hiatus and switched to teas, a second love. Ultimately I eventually got back on the coffee wagon, began discovering quality coffees and, since purchasing a coffee maker for our home a few years ago, I am simply unable to function without a daily dose of my drug of choice.

Through the magic of the internet (OOoooo!) the proprietor of Sip, Clip, and Go! coffee and I began to connect socially. As one who enjoys a quality cup of coffee regularly, and my current supply running low, I reached out to ask which of her coffees may be right for me. I enjoy middle-of-the-road flavor – not too light but not too dark. She recommended I try Off the Chain or Carbon Free Commuter.

Fast forward to a week ago and my supply is back to running low. Instead of heading for the local grocer, I logged on to Sip, Clip, and Go! and picked up a bag of coffee and a lovely travel mug advertised to fit in my water bottle cage.

Arrived just in time!

 

The package arrived the day Hurricane Sandy decided to also arrive on the East Coast and with my power out, I could only smell the smokey sweetness of the ground beans. Heavenly! Now that my power is on, it’s all I have been drinking. The beans are perfectly balanced, creating a wonderful beginning to a day at the office or on the bike. My house smells amazing while the coffee is brewing – definitely a reason to get out of bed for a delicious beverage.

 

Overall, this product is a Must Buy for any coffee lover and particularly those of the cycling variety – not only are the beans fair trade and organic, but a portion of every sale is donated to Bikes Belong. A win-win situations AND you get an excellent cup of coffee every day.

 

Thanks for sharing your coffee break with me – see you on the road!

Aftermath and Decisions

Just popping in to report that we weathered Hurricane Sandy fairly well. We ended up losing power around 7pm Monday night and didn’t regain it until 9pm on Tuesday night. Our damage is limited to two downspouts being ripped from the gutters and plenty of small limb debris in the yard. Cable and internet service finally came back last night; our cell service provider is still on the fritz in our area. We learned a few lessons along the way: camping gear and a propane grill mean hot food and cocoa; next time stock firewood for heat; don’t have Halloween candy readily accessible because you will end up eating it mindlessly.

We are thankful for our limited inconveniences and send positive vibes for our friends and neighbors who are still without power, heat, or have significant damages (like the neighbor with a massive tree resting on their roof). Our thoughts are also with our fellow brothers and sisters in New Jersey and New York.

* * * * *

This week was to be my glorious return to bike commuting since my husband is back in town but after the storm, I have been knocked off my rocker a bit. The kids haven’t been in school all week and I’ve spent my time trying to get back to normal as quickly as possible. Yesterday was our 15th wedding anniversary so my husband and I went out for an anniversary dinner for the first time in a VERY long time wherein he shared with me his concerns about my cycling habbit. Mostly time spent away from the family and other obligations, but also that it’s cold and dark now and often my bike commute leaves me physically exhausted (and essentially useless for the remainder of the evening).

He has valid points – as a team, we have to work together and find the areas of opportunity to ensure harmony. I have my own concerns with commuting/cold-weather cycling.

1. I have most of the gear I need for cold-weather cycling but need to invest in a few key pieces to be viable long-term: winter gloves, winter-weight socks, shoe covers, second pair of thermal tights and another thermal (or wool) jersey. A bike light that I can use to See AND Be Seen. A balaclava. Nothing major or seriously expensive but key to layering and staying adequately warm. I dislike being cold very much.

2. I dislike being so exhausted after bike commuting. Heavy Bike Is Heavy. I’ve done the commute on my carbon-fiber bike (which I don’t find approproiate for commuting in that it’s too light) and there is a 15-20min decrease in time spent commuting per day. The toll on my legs is significantly less (although the sweat factor remains constant). And honestly, it’s more fun to go a little faster or to not feel like you are dragging an anchor up a hill.  I’ve groused about this at length so I’m trying not to bore you about it – but it remains my #1 adversary outside of my schedule.

3. And there is my schedule. I’m trying to look ahead and see where a pattern opportunity exists so I can build momentum. I’m rapdily determining that maybe I need to just chill (HA HA) and resume biking to work in the spring. I have a lot going on. I don’t want anything to be half-assed. I need to be able to commit myself to key things for now and allow the bike to be a Nice Weekends kind of thing.

Because my bike will still be there in the spring. And my love of cycling will still be there as well. And hopefully a little disposable income as well to round out my gear. I admit it’s hard to say “yes, I need to stop trying to shoehorn riding my bike into my life right now.” After devoting so much time to this hobby, it hurts to put it on the shelf for a bit. I love the freedom of setting out with friends and not even thinking for a second about where we are going or how we are getting there. I get to be a follower for once!

And no, I’d prefer not to invest in a trainer to try to ride inside. I have a gym membership at work – if I feel the need to try spinning, there is an opportunity already paid for on Tuesday nights.

We have an older home that could use a little cash to repair and improve (little by little), a car that should really be taken in to the shop, kids who outgrow their clothing and shoes before you want them to, and pets. I’d also like to spend some time working yoga back into my life and actually having unscheduled down time. So important in our hectic lives.

 

Anyway, hope to see you on the road soon!