2012 was the year of getting out and being active. My metabolism started junking out on me when I turned 30 a few (five) years ago and staying healthy is high on my priority list. Here’s a look back at What I Did this year:
Outside cycling miles: 1908
Trainer miles: 74
Total cycling miles: 1982
(so close to my goal BUT two hundred miles longer than the distance from my old house in Colorado to my new house in Pennsylvania. Chew on that symbolism!)
Total running miles: 7.5
Total walking miles: 269
Dancing: over 15 hours
None of these are overly impressive – I ride with folks who put up big numbers like 4,500/8,000/Turn It Up To 11,000 miles in a year. I run with people who eat marathons for breakfast. I talk a fine game – but in the end, these folks motivate me to higher achievement. They are the ones pulling me up the hill or racing me down the street or gleefully shouting “MILES FOR BREAKFAST” as we zip through town.
This is only Year One of actually being active on purpose since my teens and early twenties. I hope to continue to be active and healthy for as long as possible! More riding, more running, more yoga – balanced with staying involved in family and community life. No regrets.
(Actually, I am impressed with my walking miles. I walk to the train station when I commute by train and occasionally take a lunch break walk. Little things add up! )
Whatever your goals for 2013, whatever your stats for 2012 – wishing you and yours the very best!
I’ve managed to come down with a monster head cold – the kind that has a fever and aches and a head full of snot – so my new year’s eve will be low-key and probably end well before midnight. But before the festivities begin, enjoy this story about my first time spinning and riding in the snow:
I’ve ear-marked Saturdays in December for bike rides to get to 2,000 miles for the year. The reality is I sadly did not get out as much as I planned. Nonetheless, my intrepid commuter friend sent out an email Friday asking if anyone wanted to ride Saturday morning. A quick look at the weather report indicated a 90% chance of snow on Saturday – meaning all club rides would probably get cancelled. So I texted him about the weather. He countered with “come to spinning with me!”
I’d never been to a spinning class before and had all kinds of dumb questions. I previously avoided them because my primary focus is always Bike For Fun. Which is really a guise for I Don’t Want To Do Intervals. So of course I said “OK!”
The gym where we were taking the class is only a little over a mile from my house – so of course I just rode my Beast of Burden commuter bike over. The snow had just started to fall and it was lovely to glide down the street with snowflakes on my helmet. (It would be more ethereal to say in my hair but I had a barrier cap under my helmet and Cat Ears on my straps – decidedly un-ethereal and a little more Elvis)
The class itself was quite a workout – very different from going out and riding your bike or even watching a movie while spinning away on the trainer. Within ten minutes I was sweating like a pig – and the sweat just kept pouring. I had a headache and felt like I didn’t need to prove anything to myself so I took it easy on some of the “jumps” – going from a sitting to standing position rapidly – by staying seated and spinning as high a cadence as I could.
Couple things I learned:
1. You can’t coast. If you try, your bike will lurch and make a horrible clunking noise and the instructor will ask you if you are OK.
2. Spinning bikes have incredible momentum. According to the cyclometer, I went 26.9 miles in 68 minutes. I find that very hard to believe – although I suspect it’s similar to running on a treadmill. The machine keeps you moving at a steady pace.
3. I spin at a high cadence naturally. When the instructor wanted us at 90-100, I was at 110. When she wanted us at 115, I was at 123. Even when we were “climbing” she would ask us to be at 50-60 and I would end up somewhere in the 70s. If I were to do this again, I would finesse the gearing more and not listen to the gear she wants us to be in – because it was clearly too low. But as a newbie, it made sense to try to follow her direction.
4. Spinning is done in a small dark room (or at least this one was) and NO FANS. It would have been a world of difference to have a fan blowing on your occasionally to help relieve the heat of the room. I have one pointed at me at home when I am on the trainer – and it helps tremendously.
5. I would try this again. I suspect the class would have been significantly better if the instructor matched her cadence to multiples of the beat and better communicated what exactly we were supposed to do.
Post-class, we cleaned up and unlocked our bikes and rode over to the diner up the street for a bite. The snow was coming down harder now and in the mile it took to get to the diner our jackets and jeans were soaked. Commuter friend’s wife had already gotten us a table so coffee and assorted yummies were on their way. Wonderful breakfast with wonderful people!
As you may have guessed, the snow was coming down even harder now and an inch of snow had accumulated on our rides. We brushed them off and Commuter friend rode with me most of the way back to my house.
I’m a fairly independent girl but I was glad for the company for no other reason than it was probably not the smartest idea to be out on a bike on the roads. We were on our hybrids with wider tires but the roads were slick and cars were sliding all over the place around us. One guy sped up to turn in front of us and skidding through the whole turn. We managed to pedal up one of the three hills to my house, turned the corner and there was a line of cars stopped for other cars that had slid all over the road. I only lost traction a couple of times but didn’t crash or fall.
We went our separate ways – he back to his house and me dismounting and walking the last two hills (and one downhill which would have been a suicide mission to attempt on my bike) home.
I can’t dismiss that it felt very awesome to be out riding in the snow. It wasn’t terribly brilliant nor would I recommend it as a routine thing to do without proper gear (i.e., fat fat fat tires with excellent traction) … but it was very very very fun.
Walkscore, the company that measures the walkability and bikeability of neighborhoods nationwide has just released a list of the Most Bikeable Cities in the country. Philadelphia is the #1 Large City for biking in the United States.
The Bike Score methodology examines the number and length of bike lanes, the amount of hills, the level of bicycle and road network connectivity, the number of destinations that can be reached by bicycle, and the mode share of bike commuters in each city.
The city has worked hard to make bicycling in Philadelphia a safe and convenient mode of transportation. Recently, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities and the Streets Department have installed eight new bike corrals and over 500 new bike parking spaces across the city. Additionally, there are over 200 miles of bikes lanes in Philadelphia.
Even though Philadelphia is ranked first for large cities, there is still room…
I am not a fan of the 24-hour news machine. The endless loop of Not A Lot Of Information is constantly replayed, creating an environment of chaos, fear, instability and uncertainty.
One afternoon in February 2010, I received a text from my elementary-aged children saying they got home safe. It’s unusual for them to text me that they got home, much less got home safe. So I texted back “Ok ….??” … to which my son texted me “turn on the news.”
What greeted me on the screen was the local affiliate station covering the shooting at Deer Creek Middle School. The school was about three or four blocks from our house; the kids’ elementary school was across the street. My kids are walkers. I called the house to make sure the kids were really OK – they were – and to keep the house locked until I could get home. My heart began racing and I excused myself from work to be home with my children and help them process the day’s events. Fortunately none of them had been outside or near the exact location of the shooting and law enforcement swiftly apprehended the perpetrator.
Roughly a year later, my children’s elementary school was evacuated due to a suspicious person. This time I was notified by the school district’s text messaging/phone call service and had to provide positive ID to pick up my younger two children (the older one now being a student at Deer Creek Middle School). Fortunately no one was hurt and nothing was amiss – but the simple message that there might be an issue can cause your heart to skip a beat.
Our story is thankfully one with a soothing resolution – my children are safe. This is the world in which we live in. Our community was small and in many ways, a place where Things Like This Don’t Happen Here. Except they can happen anywhere – we lived a couple of miles from Columbine High School and rode our bikes to Clement Park regularly. I remind myself frequently that these types of events are not common and we can’t let our lives be ruled by fear of things going horribly awry.
In light of recent events, it doesn’t escape my consciousness that THIS SHOULD NOT BE PART OF OUR CHILDREN’S LIVES.
In Connecticut, there are families who were notified of a horrific event – parents raced to the school, praying their child would be there safe – and there was no comfort to be found. There are families who have lost their mothers and sisters and brothers and cousins and best friends. December will never again be the same. My heart is broken for these families – twenty-six lives extinguished.
I spent three years studying Kabbalah under Dr. David Sanders at Kabbalah Experience and one of the concepts that we meditated upon frequently is There Is No Place Without You. That even in the most horrific things there is a shard of the Divine. Another thought: we all think we are the star of our own life’s movie – but we may really be up for Best Supporting Role in someone else’s life movie. This is of very little comfort when one is dealing with a soul-crushing loss.
I choose to reflect on the twenty-six beautiful lives lost and find a way to honor them that is meaningful. How can we take this devastation and create a positive change?
Friends, the time is NOW to have a thoughtful, sensible discussion about how we as a country handle guns. Specifically guns designed to kill as many as possible in a short amount of time. We need to talk about what purpose they serve the greater community and how heavily they should be restricted – up to being illegal. We have a window of opportunity to make a difference in the kind of world our children live in. We need to take the momentum and craft appropriate legislation to reduce the number of assault weapons in the hands of citizenry. We should NOT give in to rash and extremist views. Banning all guns will not solve the problem.
We also need to have a serious discussion about how we handle mental health issues in this country. There are millions of people who suffer from a myriad of issues that need assistance – with the most serious of illnesses needing the most care. We need to stop thinking of mental illness as something that should be hidden. We need to stop being embarrassed of needing help sorting through the mental static. We need to support families that are strained under the weight of mental illness. We need to take action to ensure everyone has access to quality health care, including mental health, to ensure our community’s best possible future.
Friends, I urge you to write to your government officials – senators, representatives, governors – and express your views. While all this may not stop all bad things from happening, it is a step in the right direction to ensuring our future is the best it can be.
May the Source of peace send peace to all who mourn and comfort to all who are bereaved.
Friends, as we start to wind down the year I am increasingly more aware that I want to set some goals for next year. I am currently about 175 miles short of 2000 miles this year, which is over triple my total mileage last year. Today’s brunch ride was cancelled due to rain, wet roads and patchy fog … so now I have to find new and innovative ways to complete my goal!
I’ve also started looking at events for next year. Here’s my preliminary goals for 2013, in no particular order:
3,000 miles total distance
regular bike commuting (at least 2-3 times per week, early spring through late fall)
Let’s back this up a bit – when I was a child, pay-television was on the cusp of the tipping point where it would spill into our homes and lives and become a “necessity” not a luxury. My parents decided not to pay for television, so we only had broadcast stations – the local affiliates, PBS, and a handful of other channels. “Television is a thief – it steals your time”. My sisters and I were allowed to watch three out of four programs in the afternoon – Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Sesame Street, 3-2-1 Contact, and Reading Rainbow. Pick three, but never all four. Often, Reading Rainbow was the one cut – not because we didn’t love it but because we would tune in right away to Mr Roger’s Neighborhood.
Never mind that I have fond memories of watching Dr. Who with my dad on PBS or being scared watching “Jaws” on the local affiliate. Cheers and Hill Street Blues were some of my favorite evening programs growing up – I got none of the jokes but thought the theme songs were so cool. Imagine my amusement years later when I went to college, got cable TV and binged for the first couple months. Wait – there’s SOMETHING ELSE that is TOTALLY AWESOME coming on next? Why yes, I’d be happy to watch more television!
Television truly is a thief – it stole a LOT of my time in college.
Anyway – I used to watch Sesame Street all the time. As a suburban kid, the concept of the urban neighborhood was foreign and exotic. I wanted so badly to go to Sesame Street. Even though the end credits said it was in New York, NY what that really meant was I was nowhere close to ever getting to Sesame Street.
My junior year in high school I took a media class and learned about radio and television. I loved the radio portion of the class but really loved the television part more. So much so that I volunteered to be the student producer/director on the program about the new high school being built for the school district’s television station. I produced two broadcast-half-hour shows and loved every minute of it. Looking back now, the shows are terribly amateur – but at the time I was very proud of my work.
Naturally I majored in television production in college. I’m one of the “lucky” people who then found a job in my industry. I have worked my way up from being a tape jockey – pushing huge carts of tapes from the library to the control rooms at a massive operations facility – to where I am today – analyzing ratings to drive changes to our schedule that will increase and retain viewership, plan special programming, figure out the promotional plans for network priorities, and manage a team that does the day-to-day work necessary to keep a cable network on the air.
Not ironic or anything that the girl who hardly watched television now makes a living working in television.
Anyway – back to the point. I am finally able to tick the box next to “Get To Sesame Street” on my list of lifelong dreams. Being on set is somewhat magical – children everywhere watch this program. And here they are … making the program! The iconic steps, the street sign. Mr Hooper’s Store. Big Bird’s nest. And I had the opportunity to meet Cookie Monster and have my photo taken with him. The four and five year old me was giddy with excitement!
But it doesn’t escape my thoughts that for these people working on the production – the puppeteers, the cameramen, the directors, editors and puppet wranglers – this is just what they do every day.
And in that, I became very aware and thankful for the opportunities – the ups and down – that have led me to this place my life. That something we take for granted may be someone else’s magical moment.
Take that with you, meditate on it. There is beauty in the routine, the mundane, the things you move through in your everyday life.
… or, there are too many others out on the damn trail.
Today I attended my first mountain biking skills clinic, run by our excellent friends at Cadence Cycles in the Manayunk section of the city. I was pretty nervous – being from Colorado means everyone thinks I mountain bike/ski/snowboard/trail run/uber-outdoor-athlete stuff … but the reality is, I took all that open space and facilities for granted. I only started riding my bike for fun (not just transportation) in May of 2011. So yeah – I have never mountain biked before. And I didn’t want to make a fool out of myself and fall – either in general or off the side of the trail.
Falling is fine – just not in front of 30 other people.
So my commuter friend and I rode in the 10 miles to the bike shop. We arrived a little early because we needed our clipless pedals transferred to the demo bikes and seats adjusted. I was able to demo the Fuji Belle, a full suspension bike. Not sure why I had a full when others had hardtails, but it was nice! Note to self: try not to wreck the $2000 bike. There were many others who signed up – some cyclocross racers, some road racers, some newbies like me, and everything in between. Fortunately my skills were in the middle of the newbie range.
We rode about a half-mile or so to get to the trails, using this time to get used to the thumb shifters. Didn’t take long to get the hang of it but once we were out on the trails, I kept to the lower end of the gearing. Made it so much easier to get up the hills.
The first hour was spent just going up and down a hill with lots of roots, rocks, and turns. It was sharper but really honed in on the skills you need to successfully get up the tiny steep portions of a climb, over small obstacles, and getting back downhill.
The second hour was a short trail ride – this is why people love mountain biking! Being in the woods, pedaling and feeling like you are floating over the debris, finding your line and the thrill of successful execution. The leafy single track was just fun. I am not even sure I can adequately describe how exhilarating it is to crank up a steep, rocky incline – unsure you will make it over the top – and then trust your bike as you rip down the other side, rocks and roots and debris be damned.
Skills taught to more experienced riders included log-overs, stairs, and getting enough momentum on a short, steep downhill to get up the next hill. Maybe another time when I feel more confident and ready to take my off-road riding to the next level. Today was about trying it out.
Instead of riding out for lunch with my commuter friend to discuss our new-found skills, my husband picked me up and whisked us to our daughter’s swim lessons. Tomorrow we will get a lunch ride in.
All in all – excellent experience. I don’t have plans to go buy a mountain bike right this minute or anything – but I would like to include it in my goals next year. To get off the road a little more and into the woods. To feel more confident on the trails. To have MORE FUN on my bike.