Let’s play catch-up, shall we dear reader? When we last left off we were on the cusp of spring … and now we are hurtling straight into summer.

from my train ride home one evening. moment of zen
from my train ride home one evening. moment of zen

Personal Transition

We finally made the move and are now in our new home. We closed on the house just a few days after the one-year mark of when I committed to relocating with my job. After such a long and protracted transition, the entire family has settled into our new life fairly quickly. Uncertainty can take a toll on a person and strain any relationship – and we managed to pull through with relatively few emotional wounds. The house is in a lovely neighborhood about 40 miles north of the Big Apple with lots of kids. It’s not uncommon for me to get home in the evening to find my younger two kids out roaming the neighborhood with their new friends, playing until well after dark and coming home sweaty and dirty and more importantly, happy. +1 for our little family!

welcome to my backyard
welcome to my backyard

Bikey Stuff!

Having the extra time in Philly was also very nice. I was able to squeak out a few really nice rides with my friends, including an 88-mi, 5400+’ of gain ride to get lunch in St Peter’s Village that I had no business doing – but felt amazing when I finished! I haven’t felt depleted after a long, hilly ride like that in a while and it felt GREAT.  I planned to do a low-key girls-only ride to get lunch (25mi ride) but wound up with bronchitis and had to cancel all my plans for a few weekends. Then we moved ….

Andy and Ken joined me on the 88mi epic. Perfect day for a ride!
Andy and Ken joined me on the 88mi epic. Perfect day for a ride!

I rode the 5 Boro Tour again this year, this time with my friend Elizabeth. We were slotted in the first wave and what a difference that made! Yes there were still a lot of people but it was FUN. We rode the whole route together, which was surreal when I’d point out a place where the 4-lane street had been literally wall-to-wall cyclists standing around the year prior due to various levels of bicyclists trying to ride together. This year demonstrated why people do this ride year after year. I’m hoping to take my eldest son on it next year.

Elizabeth and I at the start of the 5 Boro Tour.
Elizabeth and I at the start of the 5 Boro Tour.

Up in our new area I’ve been scoping a bike route to the train station (about 12.5 miles each way; about 600′ gain to the station, 900+’ gain on the way home). I’ve seen cyclists on the roads so I know it’s possible (and Strava Global Heat Maps confirms it’s a decent route) but a few concerns that I need to work through:

1. Lots of two-lane no-shoulder roads. I’ve not been successful yet in finding alternate back-roads to use – very few roads actually connect. The roads are not terribly heavily trafficked – but there is some volume, especially at certain times. And there are a few dangerous intersections that would require I get a mirror for my glasses so I could safely navigate.

2. After about 45-60min on the bike, I have a 60 min train ride to the city. Do I feel comfortable being stinky on a train for an hour?

2a. The train station has bike lockers but refuses to rent them out. ??? So my bike would be locked to an open-air public rack. I’ve seen a few other bikes there in the morning so I know people bike to the station … but probably not as far as I’m thinking of doing.

3. Shower Situation when I get to the City. NYSC has $20 memberships and a club a few blocks from GCT; or I could check out the gym at work.

Really all just logistics – and while I am chomping at the bit to actually ride to the train station and back home, I need to work these things out before I do so. Arrive Alive!

There is a major bike path (36 miles!) with an access point fairly close to our home (a couple miles) that I can’t wait to ride and take my kids. It’s an old railroad bed so it’s fairly flat and shaded. A welcome respite from New York drivers!

Health News

I noticed a lump in my neck a few months back. I had been blowing off the feeling of swallowing behind something for a while, thinking it was a mild cold or allergies or something else. After several rounds of testing and various procedures, it turns out I have a multinodal goiter. Due to the size and number of nodules (and that it impacts my ability to swallow), I’m having a thyroidectomy in about a week. I’ve been advised to take 2 weeks to recover and at least 1 week with no exercise. So the plan is to get past surgery and recovery before throwing my leg over the top tube and getting back into the swing of things.

This past week I contracted a cold that rapidly turned into a sinus infection so I’m taking the surgical recovery period very seriously. My body is telling me I’ve been overdoing it – even though I feel like I haven’t done anything – and I need to listen if I’m going to be able to get back into running and cycling again. I have a few events planned for later in the summer that I need to begin training for – but that will wait! Even though I desperately want to just ride my bike.

Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon!

Stress!

Let’s be honest – buying and selling homes is stressful business. Everything has to be perfect for the right person to want to put down a huge amount of money to call your abode home. Then you as a seller have to turn around and look at other people’s houses until you find The One that speak to you on another level. 

That’s been my life for the past month or so. Not enough riding bikes, too much stress. 

 

I’ve done an impromptu century (first of the year!) on the hottest, muggiest day of the year so far. You wouldn’t think walking your bike across a bridge over the Delaware would deplete you physically but it did (it was so hot – we were just baking). We stopped for ice cream at about Mile 80 and the proprietor refused to fill our water bottles (despite the heat index being well over 100*). We bought and enjoyed the ice cream anyway because we were hot and needed a break – but thankful for the Starbucks next door who filled our bottle with ice water and wished us well for the final 28 miles. 

I’ve been riding my bike to the train. This is not Mega Miles or anything but it’s a few minutes each day that the wind is in my face and for the most part, no one is actively trying to kill me while riding on the street. 

Although why motorists feel it’s wise to pass on hills or around corners is really beyond me. I pray no one gets into an accident while passing me, even though I am clearly within my legal bounds of taking the lane when it’s too narrow to accommodate both of us.

 

I biked with friends to get lunch in Doylestown one weekend. I biked with friends around Bucks County and remembered why a shorter distance is so challenging out there (hills. Lots of them). Although it was nice to be dropping the boys on the hills while chatting away with my friend. I’m getting stronger as a cyclist! 

 

But mostly my life is consumed by work, figuring out the house situation, and too much stress. 

 

Today I declined what would have been an great day on the bike (lunch in NJ, about 63 miles round trip) in favor of a shorter ride to kill some stress energy (about 27 miles round trip). I tend to get higher averages on my rides when I’m alone, most likely because I’m not talking. Today was hot and humid – the kind of day where your body feels like it’s suffocating when you stop pedaling – and I kept up on my hydration really well. 

I’m also looking at maps to try to figure out a new multi-modal bike commute once we move. The house will be about 8 miles from the train station – totally doable! The area is even more hilly than where we live now so I’m hoping to graduate from a hilly-goat to a full-on mountain goat. And it looks like there are great opportunities for mountain biking this winter. Hooray for new opportunities!

 

Anyway, I’m still here. I’m still riding. You don’t need to hear about every little thing I do but hopefully I’ll see you on the road soon. 

Jotting down some thoughts

Today was a tough day. I pride myself on being fairly stoic about health issues. I don’t need help from anyone, although I am very supportive of others in need of assistance. I tough it out as long as I can.

I’ve put 135 fairly hilly miles down in the first two days. I felt like my nutrition was coming along and the temperatures had been really awesome. Not too hot, not too chilly. We had long stretches in the sun with no shade. I felt very lucky to be out with 29 other amazing people, raising money and awareness for such an awesome organization.

And really, all it had to do each day was ride my bike. Life doesn’t get any better than that.

Today it was hot (mid-80s). It was hilly. At some point before the first water break I noticed the shade was no longer cooling me off. So I drank more water. I chowed down on trail mix. I ate bananas and energetic bars at every rest stop. Nothing was working and I was feeling worse.

At lunch I started to feel better in the air conditioned sandwich shop as I nibbled on my hoagie and potato chips. I doused myself in water right before we left to get my body cooled down. Meanwhile, everyone’s asking if I feel ok. I tell everyone I think I am running a huge calorie deficit from the previous day.

But I’m not getting better. I start thinking I might be bonking … but my legs feel as fine as they should on day three of a bike ride. My butt doesn’t even really hurt. I just can’t seem to cool off. And even though I’m peeing regularly, why do I feel so bloated and nauseated? My usual hydration mix was failing me.

We get the last water stop at 45 miles and I had to throw in the towel. I felt nauseated even though I devoured a banana and doused myself in water again. Which didn’t help. I’m not cooling down. The support team got me into an air conditioned car with a wet washcloth on my neck and made me sip iced Coke (so glad I bought that at lunch!) while they got all the riders on their way. And then I got a ride back to the hotel.

It’s sad to admit that my first thoughts were about missing the final 23 miles of the day. I was so disappointed with myself. I wanted to be able to do the whole ride, all the miles. But today was not my day.

I took a lukewarm shower and cooled down enough, joining everyone for dinner. I was feeling better but still iffy about whether I should try to ride tomorrow until my friend have me an electrolyte tab to put in my water bottle. That and dinner out the spring back in my step, so I bummed another one and sucked that down this evening.

I know better than to mess around with heat illnesses. And I have no regrets about my decision. But I do have lingering sadness that I couldn’t just push through it. Seeing everyone at the end of the day and hearing their stories from the last miles was good … It’s just my story is different this time around.

I’ve never had to be SAG’d before. And I’m thankful to have been taken care of by the amazing support team on this ride. Truly this has been an epic adventure. I just need to get over my unfounded feelings of letting everyone down by not finishing the whole day.

When I have time I will write a proper post about the ride. It’s been amazing and I’ve loved almost every minute of it.

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.