Tuesday, April 1, 2014

On the Road Again

Well, spring has been very elusive this year!  Immediately following my ride on March 7th, we fell prey to weeks and weeks of more cold, snow, wind, and generally very wintery weather!  So, no outdoor riding for the rest of March for me.  I did manage to log 217 miles indoors on my trainer though, so all was not lost.

Today, April 1st, I finally got back outside!  It was a little warmer, in the low 50s.  I joined 2 friends and we did laps in a senior housing tract in the Village of Hilton.  Just a nice easy ride with great people!  We clocked about 8 miles together.  Then, as my friends went home, I too headed back towards my house, but being outdoors on a bike again was too much to resist.  So I took off on the familiar village bike route and did another 5 miles on my own.  I can't begin to put into words how great it felt to be outdoors riding again, minus all my winter gear!

I've signed the 30 Days of Biking online pledge to ride my bike every day during the month of April.  I've also registered for the National Bike Challenge again, which begins in May.  I'm so hoping the weather keeps improving so that the majority of my miles can be outside miles!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Enjoying a Spring Day

Today was a glorious day that makes one believe that spring just might really be around the corner!  It was 45° F and sunny, with no wind.  The roads were dry and snow free.  It felt so good to be outside riding instead of inside on my trainer!  First time in 2 weeks!  And the best part was being able to dress light weight.  Instead of my winter riding gear, I was able to wear just a thin turtleneck with my new bike jersey (that I won from The National Bike Challenge) over it.  I wore jeans and sneakers and didn't need gloves or a balaclava or a skull cap under my helmet.
I had one of my longest rides this winter, nearly 13 miles and I increased my average speed by almost 2 MPH!  And since this morning I did my longest indoor ride to date (8.35 miles), I'm feeling just a little bit proud of myself today!

Please spring, keep these days coming!  I ache to go for longer and longer rides outside in the warmth and the sunshine!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Scenes on a Spring Bike Ride

Okay, maybe it isn't quite spring yet, but today felt like it could be around the corner!  I had a great, brisk bike ride.  It was warm (42 F) and the roads were clear and dry.  The sun was shining.  The wind was the challenge today, for sure, at 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph!  I only rode 6 miles instead of my usual 10-12 miles for an outdoor ride, but it sure felt like 10 or 12!  When you have to lean sideways just to stay upright, "leaning into the wind" takes on a whole new meaning!  And when I stopped to take this picture, in what I thought was a fairly protected spot, a couple of gusts came along that knocked both my bike and me off balance and we nearly fell over!  And I had both feet on the ground at the time!  But 6 miles outside today in the wind and the sunshine was still better than doing 5 miles on the trainer inside.  I do think I'm finally yearning for spring!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Which Path on a Snowy Day and Lesson #7

I had not been riding for several days so today I was determined to go, despite the snowy weather.  It was about 23° F and there was lots of fresh snow on the road, but no wind, so I went for a 9 mile ride through the Village of Hilton.  I decided not to head out of town for fear of having to share the road with snow plows, which is not my favorite thing to do.

Lesson #7 - Which Path to Take?
Cycling Lesson - I think one of the things I really like about riding in the snow is that, although I am going much slower than I do on dry roads, I am definitely improving and refining my skills as a cyclist.  Riding in snowy conditions is hard.  I need to really concentrate on what the bike feels like, anticipate what lies ahead and adjust accordingly.  I need to constantly be monitoring and adjusting and learning as I go.  Although I know the route, there are many choices in terms of the tracks to take.  Fresh snow where no car, person or bike has gone? A slushy, brown track from a car?  A packed down snowy track from a car?  The ghost of a track where freshly fallen snow has covered the track from a car?  A track that has footprints?  A track, once packed, that now has lots of loosened snow?  What I've learned is that there is no perfect single answer to this.  I'm constantly adjusting and changing as I ride.  A lot depends on the terrain under the snow, whether I'm coming up to a curve or a hill, going downhill, approaching an intersection where I might need to stop, whether the road dips down toward the shoulder, etc.  Today, I looped back on part of my route and discovered that I didn't even necessarily stay in the track I had chosen previously.  Conditions, weather, time and knowledge change things the second time around.

Life Lesson - The path I take, even if familiar, also has many track choices along the way and it's okay to go more slowly at times, to change tracks, to not go a certain way just because I did previously.  I need to monitor and adjust and learn as I go.  Challenges help me to improve and refine my skills to deal with them.  Sometimes the path well trod, sometimes the one less taken, sometimes one in between.  They all take me to where I want/need to go, just in different ways.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sun and Wind and Freedom

My beautiful Salsa Cycles Vaya with its new rack and fenders enjoying the sun!
I've been hesitating to go out riding my bike during the day while everyone is at school.  I know that my doctor has approved me for driving and cycling, and I'm not approved to go back to work until next week, but it still feels awkward to be out publicly riding my bike instead of being at work, especially in a small village where so many people know me.  So, I've been waiting until late in the day and then it ends up getting too dark and cloudy or too cold or too stormy or too close to a time I have to do something else, and I've been missing my opportunities to ride.  Today I just said hang it and I took advantage of the time and the sun and one of my last few days of freedom and went for a 10 mile ride.  It was GREAT!  I decided to ride mostly north of the village so it was on roads a little less traveled.  It was sunny and about 35°, which was wonderful.  Dry roads, no snow, no unexpected adventures.  The only issue was the wind, gusting to 30 mph.  In hindsight, I probably should have done my route starting out in the opposite direction so as to not be heading uphill and into the wind on the last leg of the ride.  It was quite a workout and slowed my average speed by 2 mph!  Still, it was a great ride!  Now for some Advil and a shower and then off to PT.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times

It Was The Best of Times

It finally got up to 20° today (which is my cycling line in the sand, or should I say my line in the snow and ice) so I was back on my bike outside again.  I got a late start, a bit after 4:00, but I went anyway.  I started out to ride to the Northwood School and back, about a 10 mile ride.  I made it over to Northwood just fine.  Made all the hills, seemed to be finally understanding how to shift appropriately and so on.  It took me about half an hour to go the 5 miles.  For my ride back, I knew it would now be starting to get darker, so I turned on my back blinky red light and started back. I made it up Frisbee Hill, pedaling all the way without stopping even once!  Victory!  The best of times!

It Was The Worst of Times

At the intersection at the top of Frisbee Hill there was so much traffic in all directions that when I finally had a chance to go again, I decided not to turn onto Frisbee Hill Road at the jog half way down the hill as I would have to cross in front of a lot of cars or spend a huge amount of time waiting.  So I decided to go straight north on North Greece Road instead.  Poor choice.  The ride was fine, but it lengthened my ride enough so that it was getting much darker than I had planned.  I had forgotten to put my new front light on my bike and although I was wearing a neon colored jacket, I had forgotten to put on my reflective vest.  I had nothing reflective on.  And for some reason, my bike stopped shifting.  I don't know if it was something I did or didn't do, or some other issue.  I didn't want to stop due to the falling darkness.  And besides, unfortunately I don't really know enough about bike mechanics to be able to diagnose or fix a problem.  So I just kept pedaling.  Kind of had myself a Fixie.  Almost home, back in the village again, with street lights, someone in a passing car yelled at me.  I couldn't quite make out what they said, but it had something to do with being seen.  I wondered what his problem was.  I knew I had turned on my back blinky light.  Well, when I got home, I discovered that, for some unexplained reason, my light had stopped working!  Ugh!

So, Now What?

From now on, if I'm leaving the house in the late afternoon, all my lights (and backup lights) AND my reflective vest are going with me!  I plan to have 2 or 3 red blinky lights on my back!  I plan to ride again tomorrow and hopefully my shifting will work.  If not, it will be off to the bike store on Saturday to have it looked at.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What to Do When the Temperature Falls Below Zero

I do like riding in the winter, but it think I have to draw the temperature line!  I'm good riding in temps in the 20s (Farenheit), but when the temps fall into the single digits or below zero, like they have today, I'm going to stick to my indoor bike on those days!
So what did I do today?  I was excited that my new bike socks arrived in the mail from The Sock Guy, and I began dreaming of sunny days and warmer weather and I registered for the Cycling the Erie Canal Bike Tour!  Now I'm officially committed!  July 13th - 20th I will be on my bike, cycling 40-50 miles a day, enjoying the views, tours, and the history of the Erie Canal.  We will be cycling clear across the state from Buffalo to Albany in 8 days, approximately 400 miles.  I'm so excited, I can hardly wait!  Now the task that lies before me is to cycle my brains out between now and then to lose weight, get in better shape, and build my endurance!  Ready, set, GO!!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Welcome 2014!

I decided to start the new year off right - with a bike ride on a snow globe snowy day!  My little biking buddy went with me for just over 2.5 miles.  I will say she does not love winter riding as much as I do, but I'm sure it was much harder for her in snow pants and winter boots.  I wanted her to be warm, and she doesn't really have winter biking clothes like I do. But 2.5 miles in the snow for a 7 year old 'ain't bad!  After dropping her off back at home, I went out for another 6 miles of riding.

It started snowing with more vigor, but the air was as calm and still as can be.  The quiet residential village streets with the freshly falling snow are more peaceful and serene than I can possibly describe in words.  

I have to say, it's almost spiritual!  2014, so far I love you!

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Little Snow in my Tires - Winter Riding Lessons Learned

I've gone for 3 winter rides - one at 30°, one at 40°, and today's ride at 20°.  Low and behold, it turns out that I LOVE winter riding, which is quite a surprise to me!  And I've learned a few things in a short amount of time.

Winter Lesson 1 - If you are wearing a scarf around your neck and over your nose, your glasses get totally fogged up immediately.  I had to ride without my glasses on.  Luckily I can see well enough without them to make this okay.

Winter Lesson 2 - My knit gloves and short boots with regular socks on are fine in 30° and 40° weather, but not in 20° weather!  Going shopping tomorrow for better winter riding gloves and definitely planning to wear 2 pairs of socks next ride.

Winter Lesson 3 - People who recommended fenders for winter riding around here were correct!  Also going shopping for fenders to help keep me and my drive train a little cleaner and less slushy.

Winter Lesson 4 - Sights like those below and the quiet peacefulness of winter riding in my small village and just outside of it on country roads make all of the above so worth it!

Friday, December 27, 2013

I'm Baaaacckkk! And so, SO happy about it!

Well, it sure has been a while since I have posted here.  Shoulder surgery at the end of October, put me on a bike riding hiatus for a bit.  And of course the holidays also consumed a bit of time.  While I was restricted from outdoor bike riding, I did put my bike on a trainer and "rode" inside.  Not nearly as much as I had planned, or should have, though.  Again, the holidays got in the way.

I bought a CycleOps Mag Bike Trainer from REI online.  Because my bike spits black something when I ride, and I'm not sure why or how to stop it, I also bought a mat to go under it.  I added a CycleOps Climbing Riser Block as well, to stabilize the front wheel and make the bike more level.  This set up has worked pretty well for me.  It's fairly quiet and I can adjust some of the tension by shifting.

My grandson wanted to get into the act too, although he didn't quite understand why I couldn't move across the room with him!

Well, time passed and Christmas came and my son and his wife gave me a new bike for Christmas and my upcoming birthday!  Yippee!  It's a Salsa Vaya 2.  My son customized it just a little bit for me, but in general it is described as
"a touring and road adventure bike, designed to handle any 'road' surface, from pavement, to gravel, to dirt." 
I LOVE it!  It's lighter than my old bike, and is a bit more responsive.  I have much different handle bars as well that give me a variety of positions to use.  It also has disk brakes.  So, my new bike and I have to get to know each other a bit.

Today I went on my first outdoor ride since my surgery!  And it was also my first ever winter ride!

 I had guessed back at the end of the summer what type and weight of clothing I might need for winter riding so that I could take advantage of closeout sales online at REI to purchase last year's models of winter wear.  I guessed pretty well, I think.  Today's ride was in about 30 degree weather.  I wore my chamois and some biking pants that had a very thin fleece lining and were waterproof/windproof in the front.  On top I layered a turtleneck, a long sleeve bike jersey, and a lightweight quilted jacket.  I bought a thin fleece skull cap to fit under my helmet and that along with a scarf kept my head and neck warm.  I wore ankle high boots instead of sneakers, which is what I usually wear to ride, and a pair of knit gloves.  I was warm and comfortable for the whole ride!

It was a mostly cloudy day with no wind.  I rode 9.34 miles.  I didn't go very fast, but I did take some mild hills and continue to learn how to shift and what gears to use on my new bike.  My old bike only had 7 gears, and my new bike has many more.  It wasn't my fastest ride, only about 10 mph, but since I haven't been on the road riding in 2 months, I thought it was pretty good.

 My goal is to ride outside now as much as time and the weather will allow me to for the rest of the winter.  When I can't ride outside, I need to force myself to ride that old friend on the trainer in the family room.  That way, hopefully, by spring I will be in good condition, will maybe have lost a little weight again, and will be really ready to roll!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My Mom, My Hero and Lesson #6 - Lean into the Wind

I haven't been out on my bike in over a week.  Today I took advantage of a sunny fall afternoon and went for a ride after school.  It was chilly and very windy, but sunny and I had a good 15 mile ride.

Lesson #6 - Lean into the Wind
Cycling Lesson - When cycling you often meet up with obstacles - hills, a stiff wind, debris in the road.  Sometimes you can avoid these by re-routing, shifting to a lower gear, or a quick steering move.  But sometimes you just have to persevere and endure and push through.  Leaning into the hill or leaning into the wind can help, and although it is difficult, and you might slow way down, you do ultimately make it through the challenge without giving up. Hence today, I made it up all the hills on my route, in a rather stiff wind, by leaning way forward, hunkering down and pedaling hard.

Life Lesson - This life lesson I owe to my mother, and this is why she is my hero.  

Chapter 1 - Over the last few years, as my dad's mental capacity was declining and his anger and frustration with the things he could no longer do increased, my mom had to not only take on a lot of tasks she had never done before, but also had to endure a lot more stress and unpleasantness than any of us fully understood.  And she did it with grace, protecting us from knowing our father in this way.  Mom leaning into the wind.

Chapter 2 - When my dad passed away this summer, my mom had to take on all the responsibilities of running her household alone.  My dad and mom were an inseparable couple for 60 years, and now she is alone.  You might expect her to be helpless, lost and lonely, and of course she is sad and has her lonely moments.  But instead of giving up, she has embraced all this, fiercely independent, reaching out for help when she needs it, handling things on her own when she can, connecting and reconnecting with friends and family, and moving forward, living life fully.  Mom leaning into the wind.

Chapter 3 - Today my mom lost her remaining companion, her dog that has been with her for 12 years, since it was a small pup.  He had had a stroke and was half parylized and nothing could be done.  Although the vet didn't want to say it, my mom said it was time and held his head as they put him to sleep.  Then she brought him home and went to find someone to help her dig the hole to bury him.  Although obviously very sad, she told me, "It's okay.  I can handle it."  Mom once again leaning into the wind.

I can't begin to express how much I value my mom and this important lesson she is teaching us all by example - lean into the wind!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Transformation

I've seen this quote by Susan B. Anthony in several places, including in the book I read when I first started riding, Every Women's Guide to Cycling, by Selene Yeager, and I thought it was an interesting quote, but I didn't really get it.  However, I think now I do.

I believe that I've undergone a sort of a transformation.  In the past when I got to feeling over stressed and overwhelmed by life and work, typically I would wish to find a way to curl up on the couch, shut out the world, and watch movies on TV.  And some ice cream or some peanut M&Ms couldn't hurt either.  Now when I find myself in these situations, and lately I have been literally drowning in personal and professional stress and worry, all I can think about is getting out on my bike and riding, riding, riding!  I just want to ride long and far and scream into the wind!  

And when I do get the chance to ride, I feel clearer, calmer, brighter, freer - emancipated from the negative feelings pulling me down!  Susan B. Anthony really had something there!  And I am further along on my journey to "becoming."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Good Day on my Bike! And Lesson #5 - Just Keep Cycling, Cycling, Cycling!

Today was National Walk to School Day.  Who knew?!  Well, I didn't have enough time in my day to walk to school and between schools, so I packed up my pannier and rode my bike instead.  I rode to the Northwood Elementary School where I spent the morning and then to the Village Elementary School where I spent the afternoon. It was a total commute of 10.89 miles. It was my fastest ever commute to and from Northwood and I took EVERY hill under COMPLETE PEDAL POWER without stopping once - even my arch nemesis, the great and powerful Frisbee Hill! First time ever that I've made it up that hill without stopping and this time I even had my pannier packed with an extra 10 lbs. of computer and iPads and more! Do you hear the Rocky theme music?! I do!! 

Lesson #5 - Just Keep Cycling, Cycling, Cycling!

Cycling Lesson AND Life Lesson (rolled into one) - Being persistent and facing your challenges over and over can eventually lead to success!  You can accomplish things you once wondered if you ever could!  That line from Finding Nemo where Dorey says, "Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming," comes to mind so often and definitely today.  I think "Just keep cycling, cycling, cycling," has become my new mantra!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

National Bike Challenge Ends

The National Bike Challenge ended yesterday.  From May 1st to Sept. 30th nearly 35,000 Americans biked over 18 million miles and 683 of those miles were mine!  I didn't even start until a month into the challenge.  Not too bad for an old lady!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

PedalPGH! 2013

I had a great experience last weekend!  I participated in my first real cycling event - PedalPGH! 2013.  My wonderful son and daughter-in-law, and their terrific cycling friends, convinced me to give it a try and then rode with me and encouraged and supported me all along the way.  It was pretty awesome! I made it up some hills without stopping, took a rest on a few and then continued, and later in the ride I did have to walk a few times, but I wasn't the only one who stopped or walked. I was able to "stay with the pack" at times, passed a few people here and there, and got passed by many. Thanks so much to Colin and Stef for all their encouragement and patience and for riding slowly in order to stay with me! I count my first group event ride as a big success!

This was my route.  We did the 25 mile city tour.  We rode over several bridges, through a variety of neighborhoods, several parks, and different areas of the city.  Riding on city streets, in traffic, with lots of other riders was a whole new experience for me and I really loved it!  The whole event was so well organized and the routes were clearly marked.  There was a record number of participants too.  Almost 3,000 cyclists rode one of the 3 possible routes!

This was not my longest ride ever, but definitely my most difficult ride ever!  The description in the ride packet and on the website says, "Expect a few mild hills."  Mild?!  Maybe by Pittsburgh standards, but not by mine!  I was definitely challenged by these "hills" (read "mountains") but it's good to be challenged, right?  Below is the profile of my route. 

This was such a great experience for me, I will definitely sign up to do this again next year!  I might even look for more events like this to participate in.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Night Rider

Just practiced my "just do it!" philosophy again (See my blog post from earlier this evening). It was heading into dusk and I still hadn't gotten my bike ride in.  I went anyway and accomplished my first night ride!  Now, if you know me at all, you know I'm very afraid of the dark, have been all my life!  I cope pretty well as an adult, and am pretty good in my familiar little village with street lights, but tonight I was outside of town in less familiar areas.  But it was kind of cool hearing the crickets and seeing the colorful, fading after sunset glow in the sky.  I have reflectors on my tires and helmet, and blinkie lights fore and aft, but it did occur to me that I might need some reflective clothing too, especially since it's getting dark sooner. Hmmm.  I might have to go shopping in Pittsburgh this weekend!

Lessons Learned #4 - Just Do It!

Getting ready to participate in my first cycling event, PedalPGH!  on Sunday.  I have my jersey, my ride booklet, and my number.  This is the first time in my life that I have ever participated in something where I was given a number to wear!  I'm excited, but also a bit apprehensive.  It was a bit of a leap for me to officially register for a real event.  Will I be able to handle the ride?  The hills in Pittsburgh? Will I look like a fat dork in a cycling jersey, since I haven't lost nearly as much weight as I was hoping for?  What will "real cyclists" think of me, my bike, how I ride?  But my son and my daughter-in-law, and many of their wonderful cycling friends, encouraged me and so, I took the leap.  That familiar Nike slogan kept ringing in my head - Just Do It!  And so I am going to.  Hmmm.  I think I feel Lesson #4 coming on.

Lesson #4 - Just Do It!
Cycling Lesson - Cycling is full of "Just Do It" moments for me!  Whenever I start out on a new route, a longer ride, an unfamiliar hill or obstacle, a familiar hill that is always trouble for me, I wonder if I can handle it or not.  Dressing for a ride causes a bit of apprehension as well.  What will I look like in a sleeveless shirt or more form-fitting exercise shorts?  Registering for this PedalPGH! ride.  Heck, just getting on the bike in the first place!  But I can't let these things get the better of me or I would never ride.  Just get on the bike and go, whatever may come my way.  And 9 time out of 10, I discover I can do more/better than I thought I could!

Life Lesson - Life can be fraught with apprehensions, misgivings and worries.  Acknowledge them, but then summon your inner cheerleader, step outside your comfort zone if necessary, jump in and just do it!  Don't get in your own way and hold yourself back.  You might surprise yourself and your accomplishments will be all the sweeter!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Lessons Learned #2 and #3 - Park Your Bike in the Kitchen and Celebrate the Small Things

I had another great ride today with my 2 best girls - my 7 year old granddaughter and her mom, my thirty-something year old daughter.  We did the 5 mile old Village of Hilton bike route together, plus a small detour for a treat at Abbotts near the end, for a total of just over 6 miles.  Although Brianna has ridden 5 miles with me before, this is the first time she has done it without a break and with several good-sized hills in the mix.  This brings me to the next 2 Cycling/Life lessons in my series.

Lesson #2 - Park Your Bike in the Kitchen
Cycling Lesson - There are so many obstacles/excuses that can prevent you from riding your bike - it's too hot, it's too cold, it might rain, I'm too tired, I have too much to do, not enough time, big hills, blah, blah, blah.  And after not riding for a few days, inertia can be a powerful force to overcome.  I don't have a garage.  We have a shed in the back of our yard, which is where we normally store things that others would put in a garage, like bikes.  But if my bike were way back there, out of sight, those excuses and inertia would win.  Instead, I park my bike in my house, in my kitchen.  Every time I go into my kitchen, there it is, begging me to ride it.  Not getting on my bike and riding is what weighs on me, not all the reasons preventing a ride.  It's a great motivator!  And every time I ride, I'm so glad I did!  Today was one of those days!

Life Lesson - There are so many things in life that that get in our way and prevent us from doing what we should/need to do. Find what motivates you to do the things you'd rather not and put that motivating force where you can't ignore it.  Park your bike in the kitchen, if you need to.  

Lesson #3 - Celebrate the Small Things
Cycling Lesson - Frisbee Hill is my nemesis!  It's the steepest, toughest hill I regularly encounter.  The other day I was determined to make it all the way to the top without stopping.  I didn't make it.  I did have to stop once.  But I didn't stop twice, and after catching my breath for a minute, I powered up the rest of the hill in a higher gear than usual!  That's incremental progress!  Who hoo!  Focus on what I did, not on what I didn't! And today, riding with Brianna, she faced a steep hill on Short Hills Drive.  It's a tough one for me too.  She stopped half way up, so I stopped with her, which makes it that much harder to start up again.  So I did something I've been nervous about doing.  I stood up and pedaled and, viola!  I powered up the hill in my highest gear!  All the way I could hear Brianna behind me cheering me on and when I started to sit down, Brianna yelled, "No Nana, don't sit down, you can do it!"  And, not only did I get up the hill, but Brianna powered the rest of the way up too, and so did Heather!  Hooray for us!  Every hill I do better on than the time before, every small increase in my average miles per hour, each extra mile I add to my ride, are all additional ways I keep motivated to keep riding.

Life Lesson - Sometimes we get so caught up in the big goals and the things we struggle with, that we forget to recognize and celebrate the incremental goals, the smaller successful steps along the way.  My 3 year old grandson is a baseball fanatic!  He will swing and strike out a hundred times when you pitch a ball to him, but he keeps going and cheers emphatically for himself when he does connect and hit the ball!  It's those hits that keep him trying.  As a teacher, and as a parent and grandparent, I frequently find myself positively reinforcing small steps children make.  Why is it that we forget to do this for ourselves?  So take some notice of all the small successes you make and give yourself a cheer!  Celebrating small moments can keep us working towards those bigger, tougher goals.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Country Girl

I think I'm a country girl at heart.  But don't get me wrong - I'm not a fan of country music and I've never owned a pair of cowboy boots (and never will).  But I do love living in a small town with so much farmland nearby.  I grew up here.  My parents were teachers, not farmers, but our house was surrounded by cow pastures and corn fields.  I used to love playing "explorer" in the corn that was so tall it was like a forest.  We took our canteens filled with Kool-Aide, packed lunches in our backpacks, and spent the whole day lost in the corn. We ice skated in the back of the field where it flooded and froze.  We built tree forts in the hedge row of trees.  I grew up and married a civil engineer turned farmer with a wedding ceremony held outdoors on his family's farm.  And I love driving, walking, and now cycling on our country roads in farm country, or spending time on our farms.  I love the beauty of a freshly plowed field, of the contrast of color with a dark green corn field next to a bright green rolling field of oats, of the actual amber waves of grain blowing in a breeze, of the bees hard at work in the bloom, of the fragrant scent of the apple, cherry, and peach blossoms in the spring.

I took a long ride today.  Started with the 5 mile Village bike route and then headed out to our farm that is at the end of Redman Road at Cook Road, at the far edge of Hamlin, NY.  I rode around on the farm a bit and then headed back home.  It was a total of 32 miles.  At 27 miles my legs started asking, "Are we there yet?!"  But I persevered.  What choice do you have when you are out on your bike?  You have to keep going.  And it was all so beautiful and peaceful that it was definitely worth the effort!

Our Hamlin farm.  Peaches on the right foreground, corn on the left foreground, apples in the distance on the left.
Did a little "off-roading" down the lanes and pathways on the farm.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Second Month Reflection and Lessons Learned - Part 1

So, I've now been on this journey to "becoming" for 2 full months now.  I've lost 13 lbs. and have increased my average speed from 10.5 MPH to between 11.5 and 12.5 MPH (depending upon the route, the hills, and my general fatigue level) and I've logged a total of 322 miles.  Today I hit another first - a ride in a gentle summer rain shower.

While on this journey of mine, I've begun thinking about the cycling lessons I'm learning.  And recently life sent me one hellava curve ball with the sudden, and unexpected death of my father.  This event really took the wind out of my sails, but it also has caused me to take some time to reflect - on what exactly is the legacy my father leaves to me as well as what is the legacy I want to leave my own children and grandchildren.  In the midst of all this reflection, it has occurred to me that many of the cycling lessons I've learned are metaphors for life lessons I've learned as well.  I'm going to share these lessons, a few at a time and in no particular order, here on this blog, since they all have an effect on my journey to "becoming."

Lesson #1 - Don't Let a Little Rain Stop You
Cycling Lesson - Sometimes you get caught in the rain, but when you do, you might as well keep going (assuming there is no thunder and lightening).  If you were to turn around and head home, you'd still be just as wet.  Today, when I got caught in a gentle summer shower, I could have bailed out at any point, but instead I kept going.  Turned out the rain was actually refreshing and if I had quit, I never would have seen this!

Life Lesson - As they say, into every life a little rain must fall.  Sometimes it's a gentle shower, sometimes a heavy rain, and sometimes a downright deluge!  But the important thing is not to give up; to keep moving forward.  There is undoubtably sunshine and blue skies beyond the clouds and you don't want to miss it when it comes!

Monday, July 15, 2013

A New Challenge

Well, I've found a new challenge, thanks to my son, his wife, and their very kind and encouraging friends.  I'm going to ride in the Pedal PGH Bike Fest in Pittsburgh, PA in August - the 25 mile Highmark City Tour route.  My son and daughter-in-law are going to ride with me.  I hope I'm up to the hills!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

To the Farm

Had a slight muscle pull that kept me off my bike yesterday, but back on again today to take a ride to our farm to pick blueberries and raspberries.  This time I had my daughter and my granddaughter riding with me.  A short 5 mile jaunt, but a fun one on a hot day.  And some delicious fruit for the payoff!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Making Up for Lost Time

I haven't been riding much lately.  Life, heat, humidity, commitments, and projects with looming deadlines got in the way.  But today I finally got out riding and tried to make up a bit for lost time.  I rode from my house to Spencerport, then along the Canalway Trail to Brockport, then home from Brockport - a total of 25.27 miles.  Then I turned right around and rode my bike 7.02 miles to my sister's house for my niece's graduation party. So my grand total for the day was 32.29 miles!  My bike and I did hitch a ride home from the party in a van.  I loved riding along the canal!  Found these geese just before arriving in Brockport.  The big one closest hissed like crazy at me and I thought it was going to chase me, but luckily it didn't.

So, I think maybe I'm coming to the conclusion that I'm more of a cruising along, distance girl than I am a speed demon.  To date my fastest average speed is about 12.5 mph, and that might always be my fastest speed, which won't be fast enough for most charity ride events.  But that's okay.  It's fast enough for sport, excersize, and enjoyment.  Maybe I'll just contribute money to those charities or to friends who are riding and I'll enjoy my time on trails instead.  It's good to have new goals, right?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Riding Again with my Little Pal

Out riding with my pal again today. We rode to church, then to Jo's Diner for lunch, then back home. Logged 7 miles today, 4 of which were on roads with no sidewalks. I've been with Brianna for her whole cycling journey, the balance bike as a toddler, the tiny bike with training wheels, and now her "big girl bike!" She's gained so much skill and confidence! It's so great to have seen her growth! It won't be long before she passes me by, for sure!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How Becoming a Cyclist has Made Me a Better Driver

Earlier I posted a summary of bike riding law in New York State.  In investigating bike law, I discovered some information about motor vehicle law that I didn't know.

  • Did you know that a motor vehicle is supposed to give a cyclist 4 feet of space when passing?
  • Did you know that it is legal for a motor vehicle to cross a single or double yellow line in order to give a cyclist the required 4 feet of space?
  • Did you know that if a driver can't give the cyclist the required amount of safe space due to oncoming traffic in the other lane, the driver must stop and wait for the oncoming traffic to clear before passing the cyclist?
  • Did you know that a driver of a motor vehicle must exercise "due care" in order to avoid accident or injury to a cyclist AND that if the driver has not demonstrated "due care," no matter what the cyclist has done that may have contributed to the accident, the driver of the motor vehicle is still held responsible?
Now that I know these things, I will be a much better driver when I am sharing the road with cyclists!  There is more information and tips for both cyclists and drivers here - Be Smart.  Share the Road with Bicycles