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.

Reflections

This has not been my month for exercise.

 

After doubling my monthly mileage in a single day last month, I’ve done pretty much bupkis. Mostly riding my Schwinn to the train because it’s convenient and I can leave two hours later than if I ride all the way in to work. I managed to fully bike commute once last week and it was lovely – but now real life is calling again and I’m homebound for at least another week.

 

It’s pretty sad … I’ve only put in 55 miles this month so far, 16 of those running, hiking, and walking.

 

Yesterday my daughter and I participated in The Color Run 5K – one of those 100% Fun events. No chip timing, no clocks. There were so many people there, mostly walking, that any sort of running was kindof moot. Every kilometer was a color station where you run through a giant cloud of colored cornstarch with dust filter-protected staff squirting it all over you. It was fun – we both had a good time – but I can’t see myself doing it again. It’s hard for me to get SUPER PUMPED at 7am.

After the run we came home and got cleaned up before heading to the local diner for breakfast. We decided to ride our bikes there since it’s about a mile and a half from the house. Yummy food and then a short ride home, this time slightly different to avoid going up a hill on a busier road. Instead we went up a hill on not busy roads. 🙂

Then it was onward to the Nap phase of our 5k triathalon – I was down for the count for a full hour, so I’ll count that as a 5k Nap. 5K walk/run followed by 5k bike ride followed by 5k nap. That’s my kind of tri. 🙂

 

I noticed about a week or so after I stop cycling regularly my muscles ache. They ache to move and churn and spin through the miles. And eventually if I don’t get out and ride, that ache goes away. I feel like it’s a message from my body that it’s about to turn back time and stop being chiseled quads and gastrocs. And certainly I can tell my legs are still fantastic – but softer.

Sometimes I think back to the winter days when it was so cold and I struggled to keep my toes from freezing, dreaming of the summer bike rides, and wish I had more time. But I can’t say I’m not enjoying the time off too. Keeps me balanced as long as I don’t let it go too long, right? Moderation in all things.

 

And there’s a little bit of me that wants to strap on my running shoes again and throw down a 5k in the neighborhood for fun. Who’d have thought I might enjoy running just a tiny bit?

 

Anyway – hope to see you on the road soon. 😀

Longest Day, Longer Ride

When we last connected, dear reader, I was troubled by my health issues. The good news is I connected with my nurse practitioner and she agreed I’ve done everything I should, wrote me a script for full-strength acid blockers and told me I should see a GI doc if I don’t feel better in four weeks.

Of course, I was thinking “dude, if I’m not better in four DAYS there are going to be issues.”

The good news is the full-strength meds have worked. I don’t have to think about WHEN I eat anymore, although I am still careful about WHAT I eat. I’m off coffee until I’m done with the four-week course of meds. I’ve noticed some positive things since kicking coffee to the curb in the last month but I do miss it terribly.

But this is not why I am blogging, although thank you for asking about my health.

No, friends I am going to tell you about the most epic thing I’ve done yet on my bicycle. I rode 150.4 miles with my friends in one day.

I didn’t train very well for this ride to be totally honest. In fact, I had only ridden 143 miles this month over four days. None had been more than 60 miles or so. Lots of reasons why not but none of that matters the morning of your ride. I will note that my brain was totally all over this ride. I was so pumped thinking about it. There was very little doubt in my mind that I couldn’t accomplish this epic journey bicycling down the Shore.

Friday morning, I left my house about 6:30am and met my friends Howard and Ken at Ken’s house. Ken and Howard are preparing for a 7-day bicycle tour in upstate New York next month so this is a perfect training ride for them. Ken was even riding his commuter with a pannier (which I stowed my sunscreen, trail mix, and ziplock full of extra sport nutrition items) and trunk bag. Strapped to my top tube was a day’s worth of Cliff, Honey Stinger, and SportBeans in my Serfas Stem Bag that I won from All Seasons Cyclist’s blog contest. Shortly after arriving at Ken’s, the three of us set out to meet up with our other intrepid friends Andy and Rebecca, who are training for a 4-day charity ride in central Pennsylvania, closer into the City.

gorgeous morning to be riding
gorgeous morning to be riding

We met up, we crossed the bridge (RIP, Howard’s bar-end mirror that fell into the Delaware), and pedaled into New Jersey.

Everyone says it and you don’t really get it until you experience it:

  • Long bike rides are just a mind game. The first 50 miles were by far the hardest part of this journey – but not because it was a terrible grind or hilly or anything. Only because you have more miles in front of you than you have behind you. We stopped for lunch around mile 55 and celebrated that we had “only” 95 miles left to go. Break it down even further: we had rest stops about every 25-30 miles – mostly because we were pedaling through sparsely populated farmland.
  • Long bike rides necessitate eating on the bike. Humidity was low but it still got up into the mid-80s with brilliant sunshine. We were blessed with a few shaded roads but many more were out in open blueberry farm country. I forced myself to eat something every 10 miles or so and drained most of my water bottles to keep from bonking or cramping. Lunch was half a turkey wrap, a few fries, part of a pickle, and a Pepsi. At a gas station stop in the middle of nowhere, I picked up a Coke that I carried in my jersey pocket for the rest of the day. Later on we took a break at a Wawa and I split a hoagie with Ken (whole wheat shorty, turkey, provolone, lettuce, tomato, pickles, little mayo, yellow mustard, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper – Super Yum).
  • Long rides are only better with friends. Everyone had someone to ride and chat with. No one was dropped. Everyone regrouped at key rest stops. Singing songs about falling in love on the way to Cape May or bitchin’ Camaros. 80s rock ballads. We had it all – and the miles rolled on by.
  • Long rides mean metering your energy. I feel I did well but one can tell I hadn’t trained: my initial rolling speeds were 18-20 mph; around mile 108 they were down to 16-18 mph; the final 20 miles were 13-16 mph. At a certain point the pedals just keep turning as you watch the odometer tick off the miles. I was tired as we left mile 130 – I downed a Cliff Energy Gel but 10 miles later I was running out of gas. I am very thankful for Howard and Ken sticking with me. I had a few more Cliff Gel Blocks left so I downed those and was able to finish out the day in positive spirits.

One of my favorite moments: we were stopped at a light in Ocean City, maybe ten blocks from the end, and Howard looks at me and says “Have you been drinking?’

My first thought was “when the hell did we stop at a liquor store?” so I said “No, of course not.”

I panic for one second thinking my speech must be slurred or something.

Then my brain went “UM – DUH. WATER.” So I said “Oh wait – YES. Yes I have – my bottle’s almost empty.”

We rolled up to the B&B we were all staying at around 8:20pm. I proudly announced “To all the haters, SUCK IT! That just happened!”

Yeah. Stay classy, Laura.

Cathy (Ken’s wife) and my own family had just pulled up. We got checked in, I showered and changed, and then joined my fellow riders on the porch for some of the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life. Crashed in bed by 10:30pm.

And that, my friends, is how I spent the longest day of 2013.

I then spent the next day walking around the boardwalk, relaxing on the beach, and generally having a great time with my family. I felt no guilt about the funnel cake or gelato or fudge that I ingested. I was pleasantly surprised to only feel marginally sore in my quads and minor soft-tissue swelling on my sit-bone area (another topic for another post). More than anything though, I felt tremendous happiness at our accomplishment. Certainly the longest single-day ride I’ve ever done.

Like Stats? Here they are on Strava, fresh from my Garmin 510: http://app.strava.com/activities/62059109

See you on the road.

Health

So I’ve looked at my cycling mileage for June and they are more like what I was doing over the winter instead of the glorious warm weather riding I should be doing. Through May I was riding four days a week; I’ve been out on only four days this whole month. Going on vacation definitely had an impact, as did accommodating my husband’s business travel schedule. His schedule is only going to get more complex between now and the end of October so I’m going to have to get out when I can.

I’ve also been battling stomach issues since the beginning of June. I’m no stranger to them – they started in high school with a peptic ulcer from drinking a few pots of coffee a day. Hey – that’s what my friends and I did during Second Hour! I remember living off Diet Coke and saltines that summer as I let my stomach heal. But really, my stomach has never been the same. So I’ve made lots of dietary changes in the last eighteen or so years.

(g-d that makes me feel old)

Stomach issues tend to be more common in women than men too – like twice as likely. Which is probably why none of my guy friends ever seem to have issues with eating crazy-spicy foods, drink copious amounts of alcohol, and refill on coffee all day.

  • I’ve cut out spicy food (a relative term since anything more than Medium is too spicy to me).
  • I don’t drink alcohol except special occasions – and I have a one-drink maximum.
  • I avoid acidic foods. Orange juice with breakfast went a long time ago but I love pizza too much.
  • I’ve reduced the amount of fried and fatty foods, replacing them with fresh and vegetarian options.
  • For several years I quit coffee and only enjoyed tea (black, green, and white), but I worked coffee back into my diet a few years ago. I just love it too much. But I limit myself to one oversize mug per day, about 2 cups.

I exercise and generally eat right. And for the most part, I don’t have issues. Except this is the second time I’ve battled my stomach this year. I’ve been on omeprazole for ten days now with limited relief. So it’s time to go see a doctor. Which is timely, as I have a major (140+ mile) bike ride planned on Friday and I really don’t want to miss it because of my stomach. I’ve already missed too many bike rides this year due to feeling like my body is trying to turn itself inside out when it’s time to roll out.

I write all this not to garner sympathy or supportive messages – but to validate to myself that it’s not an excuse. I need to get back on the level so I can go back to being fun and awesome again. I miss myself!

And also, perhaps there are other recreational athletes out there who struggle with this too from time to time – we aren’t alone even though sometimes it can feel that way. I mean really, who wants to admit they have a sensitive stomach?

Hope to see you on the road soon!

My Colorado Vacation

As promised, the rest of my vacation cycling!

 

After Elephant Rock and a nice hot shower, my mom was still sad that she wasn’t able to ride the event this year due to health issues stemming from last summer. My mom has been a life-long bicycle rider and uses it to stay fit as she gets older. So I saddled up on my (much taller) baby sister’s mountain bike and told my mom we could go out on the trail by her house.

It wasn’t the longest ride or the fastest ride I’ve ever done – but it was nice to get out with my mom and dad on bikes and see the route they use to gauge their fitness. While it’s sad to see how far my mom’s fitness has fallen, it’s incredibly encouraging to see her on her bike, getting stronger each ride. And my dad has never been a fitness guy but he likes riding his bike with my mom too.

mom and dad
mom and dad

 

The next morning I loaded up my sister’s mountain bike (with her permission of course) and headed up to Pike National Forest to do some light mountain biking with my friend James and my friend Andrea. We rode a washboard-riddled dirt and gravel road from the trailhead to the paved part of the road and back before we noticed a short stretch of relatively flat singletrack on the other side of the river. So we did what any self-respecting cyclists would do and rode it to explore.

 

flat singletrack. the trail heads up from here.
flat singletrack. That’s me in the white jersey. 

 

My friends and I enjoying the beautiful day on bikes
My friends enjoying the beautiful day on bikes

 

After our ride, we adjourned to Andrea’s house for tall glasses of chocolate milk on her deck overlooking nothing before heading back to the city.

nothing sure is pretty
nothing sure is pretty

 

I also tried a new chamois cream – Hoo Ha Ride Glide. The cream was silky smooth and had a distinct cooling sensation that was … interesting. I usually use Chamois Butt’r which doesn’t have a tingle to tell me it’s working – but it wasn’t unpleasant. Unfortunately the cooling sensation was gone by the end of our relatively short ride (less than 10 miles) so I wonder about its effectiveness on long rides. The upside is that it smelled nice. This is huge, as I generally feel that chamois cream smells medicinal and meh. But Hoo Ha smelled amazing. So more to come on this as I go get a tube (instead of the take-it-with-you trial size I purchased).

 

What else? I spent so much time with my friends and family. It was awesome. When I got home I told my husband I was planning to go back next year and he smirked, asking when he gets a kid-free vacation. I told him when he actually goes somewhere instead of just staying home. 🙂

 

me! can you tell I'm happy?
me!

 

See you on the road!

Pause

Last week was pretty busy so I was only able to bike commute once. Fortunately it was the evening of the Ride of Silence, honoring cyclists who have died on the roads in the past year. A very somber and sobering event. Then I spent the weekend camping in the rain with my Girl Scout troop. My girls are rock stars!

 

Unfortunately, I also noticed my pinky on my right hand was freaking out. It didn’t want to straighten. I thought back to the SCU Quad County and how my pinky felt zonked after that ride too. It’s also happened a few times this year, each time a little longer to get full functionality back into my finger (because I’m stupid and keep riding). As in, I can’t put all my fingers together and straighten out my right hand. It’s  frightening to think about permanent damage from something you love to do.

 

I did some Googling (check out this blog about someone else experiencing the same thing!) and discovered this is most likely due to excessive compression on my ulnar nerve even though I have padded gloves and padded bartape. The only cure is rest, stretching exercises, and making sure your bike fit is as good as possible (seat low, handlebars high). With this knowledge, I’m thinking all this bike commuting has been screwing me up (since Lady Rainicorn‘s frame is slightly too big for me). Or perhaps I messed up the geometry when I swapped out the saddle. Or maybe it’s my new bike gloves – they are a touch too big (I thought the Mediums felt a touch too small so I opted for Large).

 

Sadness – I know!

 

So I’m going to do a couple of things:

1. put the original saddle back on the bike and see if that helps (I didn’t notice problems before I started messing with the seat)

2. get a bike fit even though I don’t want to (it can be hard to justify spending almost half the cost of your bike on a fit – remember, she’s a Craiglist find under $300)

3. dial back my riding until full functionality returns to my finger (I dislike this the most)

 

* * * * *

Next week I am heading out to Colorado for a week of fun and happiness! I’m flying with my bike again on Frontier Airlines – they are THE BEST when it comes to traveling with your bike. I don’t have status with them this year so I’m going to do my best to get my bike box under 50 pounds (it was 51 pounds last summer). I already have an appointment to get my bike reassembled when I arrive and will work out the return trip when I get there. Super psyched to be cycling with my friends and family again!

* * * * *

 

See you on the road!

 

 

Forecast

6am

Clear

Temperature: 30*F

Feels Like: 19*F

51% Humidity

Winds out of the West/SouthWest at 14mph

Sorry Wednesday, I’m going to pass on bike commuting. You’d be a great test of my new cold weather gear but I have a thing against getting out from under my mid-weight down comforter to get up in the dark and cold to ride my bike to work. We had this conversation in October.

The following Tuesday’s current expected high of 50*F and a low that is above freezing is much more promising for Lady Rainicorn and I.

xoxo,

Laura

* * * * *

On week two of Not Being Able To Ride Because Real Life Calls.  We’ve celebrated a birthday, we’ve taken the Girl Scouts to learn about our nation’s government, and also took a little time to catch up on sleep and reading (one of my long-time favorite things to do). We’ve also started roller hockey season – which is also one of my favorite times of year.

It’s tough … but not as tough when it’s cold and rainy. Or cold and frozen rainy. Ah, springtime in Pennsylvania!

I’m thinking about how I want to structure my athletic-type endeavors – cycling, running, and yoga. I’m currently planning on cycling (for sport/fun) two days per week, running one day, and yoga one day. This of course does not take into account my bike commuting, which I want to do two or three times per week. This type of schedule will be tough until summer, when the kids don’t have any real commitments and I can maximize my personal time. Until then, I need to get running onto the calendar first. My friends all run sub-10min miles. I feel like a schlub – but you can’t get better if you don’t even get out the door.

See you on the road!

January

It never fails. The calendar rolls over to January and suddenly it’s a bit easier to say “no thank you” to seconds, desserts and unhealthy foods. Gyms are bustling with aspirations that This Year Will Be Different and the perspiration penance of a thousand sins.  Personally I stepped on the scale for the first real time since October and while I understand I am not a number, the digital read-out blinking back at me was not a number I am particularly fond of. In fact, I haven’t seen that number since October of 2010. Huh.

Once January hits, it’s time to get back into shape.

We’ve also passed the winter solstice, which means minute by minute the days are getting longer. Soon it won’t be so dark when I walk home from the train. It won’t be quite so cold. The trees will start to bud and blossom and riding without winter layers isn’t too far behind.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, I am reminded that the worst part of winter is still to come for my area – January through March is supposedly the coldest and snowiest. Last year was just a lot rain and temps in the forties … April is where my riding really picked up.

I’m actually very happy that I have been able to ride fairly consistently (weekly) through the month of December. I’ve learned much in the art of layering and cold-weather riding. I am learning my limits and finding ways to exploit the time I have for what I want to do. Although yes, sometimes I have to be a responsible adult and do things that just need to get done.

So I’ve joined a couple of online challenges to help keep the motivation going – like most base miles and logging at least 10 workouts a month. I have friends who love to ride in the cold (ok, maybe love is a strong word – they don’t see it as an excuse) which keeps me motivated. And I have my feeling about how fit I feel.

My head cold has finally cleared so I’m looking forward to riding soon … See you on the road!

2012 Stat Check

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:

 

i bike philly!
i bike philly!

 

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

 

my LEGO avatar
my LEGO avatar

 

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! )

 

log overs anyone?
log overs anyone?

 

Whatever your goals for 2013, whatever your stats for 2012 – wishing you and yours the very best!

 

Happy New Year! from Philly with love
Happy New Year! from Philly with love

 

Health

I had my annual check up recently. It’s always nice to see your health benchmarks and track progress (or lack thereof) over the years. I’ve been particularly interested since my cholesterol came back borderline several years ago. Since then I have worked hard to improve my nutrition and fitness through small, manageable means: more fresh, less pre-packaged; more veggies and fruits, less meat and grains.

Although bread will be my undoing. Seriously. There’s nothing like a loaf of challah fresh from the oven.

homemade challah french toast is wicked good.

Keep in mind, it’s not about omitting things! It’s about moderation, staying active, and finding little changes so they stick. I have a newspaper article from 2004 clipped and posted on my fridge: Simple Steps to Better Fitness. It includes such gems as “walk” and “drink grape juice” and “No TV with dinner.” For a while at work we got a group of us to do what we called Walk Up Wednesdays – every Wednesday we’d walk from our office on the 30th floor to the cafeteria on the 43rd floor to get lunch. It took 5 minutes to go up 13 floors – about the time it would take to wait for the elevator and then actually get to the cafeteria with “local stops.”

This year I had my lowest overall cholesterol score since I started tracking. My HDLs are up and my vLDLs and LDLs are low. I felt so great knowing the little changes have been adding up to one healthy mama. My main fitness go-tos are yoga, dancing, and of course cycling.

 

ANYWAY … I’ve been off my bike again for a week – how does this happen? oh yeah, I have a life outside of my bike – including sleeping through my scheduled BikeMS training ride last weekend. Oops. I’m still 12 days out from my first century so I can’t totally slack off now!

So I’m going to commute by bike for the next three days. 30-ish miles round trip each day – that will put me at 90-something miles for the week. I’m hoping to get out sometime during the weekend to get to 100 miles but we’ll see. This weekend is also slated to involve ripping out the carpet in my daughter’s room (beautiful hardwoods underneath!), getting the attic bathroom sink working again, and maybe spending some time playing Dance Central 2 on my XBox Kinect.

My friends James and Rachel sent me some pics from when I was riding out in Colorado – here’s one that shows off my AWESOME jersey tan.

welcome to the (jersey tan lined) gun show!


Til next time, see you on the road!

 

 

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