Catch Up

When we last left off, dear reader, I had just put my dog down and was helping my kids work through their grief. Since then much has happened, which is what happens when autumn rolls around. The cycling is exquisite, everyone is back to school routines, and life starts to slow down for winter.

 

  • I took the week of Sept 2 ff work. Between Labor Day and the High Holidays and my in-laws coming to visit, it didn’t make sense to shoehorn work in as well. Add in our dog dying and it was a much needed week off of responsibility.
  • I rode my bike a lot that week. It’s really cathartic. Long rides with the bike club; short rides for lunch with my son; medium rides with my step-father-in-law. It was so nice to simply wake up, throw my leg over the top tube and pedal out of town without any worry.
  • I ran a five-miler back in August and promptly hurt my foot. My chiropractor has been adjusting it and I thought I was in a good place, but a 5k proved me otherwise. Back off running for another two weeks … then I can try again. Lots of rolling with a tennis ball to keep things loose and not “crunchy.” PS – having your foot adjusted feels WEIRD.
  • I completed the Scenic Schuylkill Century for the second consecutive year. 103 miles with over 6800′ of climbing. I felt like a mountain goat charging up those final hills. This ride deserves a recap post.
  • I took Electric Dream Machine to the shop for a tune-up (chunky shifting) and ended up getting her new bar tape and a new chain as well. 2500 miles and only 50% worn on of the original chain feels pretty awesome. I feel like a Spin Master.
  • I also found a saddle that doesn’t hurt my butt after 100 miles. It’s an old school Terry Butterfly Ti I found on eBay for $36. You have no idea how relieving this is.
  • I made a lot of cookies. Chocolate crinklesMolasses. They are all gone now.
  • I bought the last few items I need to make my first attempt at blueberry jam.
  • We selected a hand-made custom urn for Nixon, painted to match her exact coloring. We’re expecting it sometime next week. Until then her ashes are just hanging out in the kitchen and it feels kinda weird. Last night I missed her snuggling up to my feet when I went to bed. Not cry-my-eyes-out missed her … just missed the reassuring weight on her curled up at the bottom of the bed.

 

That week reminded me how much I love unrestricted time. Time to explore, time to play, time to simply be. Far too often I get wrapped up in my everyday life of work, the kids’ school stuff, and housework. Never mind the annual house maintenance that needs to happen like yard work, cleaning out the garage, fixing the downspout that disconnected last October during Hurricane Sandy (*cough cough*).

If I could find a way to still get a paycheck and ride my bike for fun all day, I’d be all over that.

Anyway – I’m still around. I haven’t been riding as much as I want these past two weeks. I haven’t even been bike commuting! And I kinda miss running (but that’s between you and me). I have my BikeMS: City to Shore ride coming up next weekend so I need to get out an ride at least a little bit to keep the legs fresh. Then I’m looking to October to squeeze in some fun weekend rides … maybe do the Central Bucks Covered Bridge Tour again.

 

See you on the road!

 

 

The Lemon Ride 2013 Recap

Last year was the inaugural Lemon Ride and it was very fun. I rode with my friends Ultra P and G-Dawg on the 50 mile route – Ultra P smoked G-Dawg and I within the first five miles and had waited about 45min by the time I rolled into the finish. Ultra P is an ultra runner and a very fast one at that. I decided then to do the Lemon Ride again.

This year I’d signed up for the new metric route but soon realized my daughter needed to be at camp that same day – no time to drive an hour, ride for 4 or so, drive an hour home, shower and get her to camp in time. So I did what any other cyclist in this situation did – I registered my daughter and switched to the 4 mile Family Ride.

I’m so glad I did.

In going on the Family Ride, we had the privilege of riding with the families of little Heroes. Each little Hero had a yellow flag attached to their ride – siblings had blue flags proudly displaying their Super Sibling status. Two of the largest “teams” were on the family route – the Fightin’ Fitzgeralds and Team Declan.

little heroes and their super siblings
little heroes and their super siblings

Riding with these families, friends, and supporters of little ones and their families as they fight pediatric cancer (and honor the memory of little ones who fought valiantly but lost the battle) was beyond humbling. I am so thankful that my family has been thus far untouched by the ravages of cancer – but I am proud to support Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and their continued and tireless efforts to uplift and support these little heroes and their families. It was so inspiring to ride with these heroes and their families.

families pedal to help fight pediatric cancer
families pedal to help fight pediatric cancer

Four miles went very quickly – so quickly my daughter thought we’d only gone a single mile. Next year we’ll ride the 12 mile route. We opted to skip the catered lunch (almost an hour wait from the finish of our ride to when lunch was being served) in favor of grabbing a few snacks and heading back home. We still had camp to get to.

Today was proof that the most awesome rides are not always the farthest or the fastest – they are the ones that touch our soul and inspire us to help others in our community.

See you on the road.

SCU Quad County Recap

Today I rode in the SCU Quad County Metric with my friends Ken and Coco. The Quad County promised quiet, scenic low-traffic roads; well-stocked rest stops; and a post-ride hot lunch. In addition to the usual 25, 45, and 65 mile options riders could add on what is affectionately referred to as the ICU – an additional 8 miles with 1,200′ of elevation gain.

Let’s start with last night – I bike commuted because the weather was Uh-Ma-Zing. I also posted a new PR on the mile+ road up from the river. I got home in enough time to get a shower and grab a string cheese before bolting for my daughter’s concert. After, we decided to go for fro-yo. Before I knew it, I was in bed without a solid meal to recover from the commute and prep for today’s 74mi ultra-hilly ride.

So yeah. When the alarm clock went off at 5:30am, I realized my mistake and knew I would be paying for it today. Starting with a tank dangerously close to “E” … AWESOME.

The weather forecast for today varied wildly all week leading up, so I was thrilled when it only called for clouds until afternoon, then thunderstorms. I forced myself to eat and have a little coffee before my friends arrived. We loaded up our bikes on my SUV and headed out with a heavy rain falling. No sooner did we turn north a few miles later than the skies dried up. Excellent!

Highlights from the day:

* Mile 2: Steep hill! A portent of Things To Come.

* Mile 3: Flat! Ken found the insidious piece of amber glass. We’re a good flat-repair team.

* Mile 8: deciding Yes, we are heading into the ICU. Despite virtually EVERY OTHER CYCLIST around us opting out.

looks are deceiving - the entry to the ICU
looks are deceiving – the entry to the ICU
this is moments before we embark on a journey that only goes up.
this is moments before we embark on a journey that only goes up (I’m in the middle)

Doing things in a group, as a team, makes everything painful go by faster – many of the big hills averaged 7-9% grade. As does singing whatever song is in your head at a given moment. My favorite was when we busted out “Baby Got Back.”

Interesting note – the event photographer was in the ICU. I can’t wait to see what that picture looks like.

* Mile 28: first rest stop.

* great conversation about interesting stories from our lives. I can’t even remember all of them – but they made the miles fly.

* We passed by many farms and saw several white horses, each one looking at us. We took them to be a good omen for the ride.

* Mile 50: second rest stop and possibly the best smelling, cleanest port-o-potties I’ve ever used. Not being facetious.

one of the many picturesque farms we passed
one of the many picturesque farms we passed

This is where the skies decide to open up. A few miles of light rain gave way to torrential downpour. A few more miles and we are now in a full-on thunderstorm. We’ve abandoned our glasses and are wincing through the driving rain. Let’s be clear: riding in the rain at 16mph feels like sand being thrown on your body.

We slog on, laughing and making the best of our lot. We decide to skip the “bonus” ICU segment in favor of getting back to my car and dry clothes.

short break to check the cue sheet because we had NO IDEA where we were
short break to check the cue sheet because we had NO IDEA where we were

Somehow we determine we are three miles from the finish. This is a complete lie, as we are closer to 10 miles from the finish. ONWARD!

Three actual miles from the end, the sun comes out. We are soaked. We are happy. We are tired. We made it back to the finish as the volunteers were starting to close up shop.

must. eat.
must. eat.

Overall, I can’t even tell you how beautiful this ride was, how much fun I had, and how very legit the ICU is. After we fueled up with a hot lunch, we changed into warm, dry clothes to drive home (+1000 points for this idea).

If you are in the Pennsylvania area and have the opportunity to ride this event, I highly recommend it.

Now it’s time to move into recovery mode and get some sleep. See you on the road!

Check out the stats here: http://app.strava.com/activities/53663135

Accountability

Every week I get an email from MapMyRide with my weekly training summary. It’s almost never totally devoid of some form of activity – I walk for part of my commute every day so at the very least I’ve put 5 miles under my belt each week. The only times it’s completely blank is if I have been on vacation, like the time my husband and I vacationed in Seattle with two of our very good friends. I did a LOT of walking that week – but didn’t bother to track it because I’m ON VACATION.

But it definitely serves as a reminder that I’m not out riding (or hiking or walking) as much as I want to be.

Desire is good. Obsession is not.

You can’t forsake all else for the pursuit of a selfish desire. As much as you need time to do your own thing, you have others who need you to be there with them. My kids, my dogs, my husband, my family, my friends, my boss, my subordinates, my peers, the local music scene (I love going to shows) – all need my attention at some level or another. As I’ve said before, it’s all about balance.

I say this because I read other cyclists’ blogs and sometimes get wistful at the time they have devoted to their passion. I have to remind myself that not only am I not them, but I’m also (generally) not in the same generational bracket. Most of my group ride partners are around my parent’s ages – and rightfully so. They have raised their kids, they did their time of juggling work and play, and now have more time to just play. They paid their dues and reap the reward. I want to be fit enough to go on long bike rides when I’m in my 50s and 60s and decent clips.

The other thing is I am not a morning person and no matter how much I love riding, I loath getting up early to hit the road before it gets too hot and sticky out. There isn’t enough coffee in the world to make me happy about getting up before 9 or 10 am.

All that being said – I’m excited to be riding with my son tomorrow morning – a brisk 25 miles together through Bucks County, Pennsylvania. This afternoon will be all about prepping the bikes, getting the hitch loaded on the truck, deciding if I want to ride this on my hybrid (which will match his speed better and be a “better” “workout” ha ha) or my road bike (which will make the ride easier). Laying out our gear, pre-loading the coffee maker, and picking up snacks and drop-ins for our water bottles (it will be cooler but still mid-80s by the end of the ride). Guiding him through his first supported cycling event.

Bucks County is home to only 12 covered bridges still standing.
Bucks County is home to only 12 covered bridges still standing.
(photo credit: http://fmyphotos.com/history-bucks-county-covered-bridges)

 

See you on the road!