The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Monday, June 29, 2009

Tour de Ulster

Yesterday DH and I and our friend Mary rode the Tour de Ulster. This tour started in Kingston and wandered through various towns in Ulster county. What a beautiful ride on a surprisingly beautiful day. As in finally a day in June with NO RAIN. Mary is an outstanding cyclist and athlete but she hasn't ridden much this season, so she was happy to slow down to my pace. And DH was hoping to meet me in the middle. He agreed to ride at my pace but was hoping he could gently push me to a slightly faster pace (he was only moderately successful). Between my beautiful slowness over a 51 mile route and Mary's flat, we were not quite the last people to finish up. This was not a problem at all, because we really enjoyed being out there, being with each other and rolling along. DH and I rarely ride together, and I really enjoyed having him with me but not pushing me. The only downside--by the time we finished, all the food was gone. I was really hoping for a hamburger after riding 51 miles. I did eat a banana and 3 Fig Newtons at the 30 mile rest stop, but I was really looking forward to a hamburger. So guess what, DH bought me a hamburger at the diner. Now you know why I love the man!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I’m in Hamilton NY for a meeting. This is the third year that I have come to this meeting and the third time I came a day early and brought my bike. And each year I have ventured on longer and more difficult rides. Hamilton is surrounded by hills on three sides. You can ride south without hitting difficult terrain. As soon as you go east or west, you start climbing. Today I challenged myself with a ride that includes east-west roads. This ride was challenging for many reasons: 35 miles, challenging terrain, a route I have never ridden, and riding solo.

My DH will often go out and ride 40 miles by himself, no problem. I find riding solo to be mentally challenging. Part of it is purely a gender thing. A woman traveling by herself (especially a 110 pounder) is an easy target for a wacko. Part of it is not having the backup inherent in a club ride. Even though I can take care of myself and my bike, I still worry about finding myself in more trouble than I can handle. And during my ride today, that was made clear when I took a fall. Nothing worse than a little road rash and a dropped chain, but I can’t help but think, “what if.” But the biggest part is just that riding up and down hills for 35 miles is hard work and its hard to find the motivation to get it done when you are alone (at least for me). It would be easy to pick an easy ride or find a reason to cut it short. There’s nobody up front pushing the pace so it’s easy to “lollygag.” Who would know? Just me.

In the end, what a beautiful day and a beautiful ride. The roads (which are in great shape) wind through beautiful farming communities. I even saw some Amish farmers. The blue sky was punctuated with big puffy clouds. Did I mention the wind, which was always a headwind, and the never-ending hills, and the stealth dogs? It was a challenge, but I got it done. And then I had pizza and a Dr.Pepper, the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Goodbye from Dr. S, a Flat Ride and Falafel

I had a follow-up visit with Dr. S today for my inflamed shoulder. It took 5 minutes.
"How are you feeling."
"Great, like a new woman."
"Any pain?"

I then went through a series of movements so he could evaluate the range of motion in my shoulder. His response was very simple. "Goodbye."

No limitations, just to take it slow and gradually build up strength and endurance.

So today I did a strength workout involving lifting weight overhead. Yay! Then I went for a flat ride with a friend who is just getting started on her cycling career. After our 15 mile ride, we tried this hole-in-the-wall Mediterranean type restuarant and had the best falafel. Best of all, it did not rain today.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


The bike club has a tradition of long rides on the longest days of the year. Today is still a week short of the summer solstice, but today's schedule of rides included a double century, a 300k ride, a 1.5 century and a regular century. It would seem that today was the day to declare "I am not a weenie" and push up the mileage. And so I rose to the challenge with a 50 mile ride. If you don't live in the northeast than you don't know that we have had about 6 inches of rain in the last 30 days. It seems like it has been raining every day. So no surprise, it was raining all night, and at 7 am, it was drippy and dreary. But the forecast was for clearing skies, so off I went. To make a long story short, 4 of us rode the flat fast fifty. Except it was fairly flat (as flat as you're gonna get around these parts), kinda slow (12 mph) and forty eight (close enough to count as a half century). We rode in a light rain for the first hour, but then it started to clear and we ended with beautiful sunny skies. We had a lovely lunch along the way and overall, it was a great ride.

On Friday evening I rode 18 miles and yesterday I rode a tough 34 miles, so this was a 100 mile weekend. I know, I totally rock.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My Back Door

On Wednesdays I usually work a half day. Sometimes I get stuck at work but today I made it a point to be on the 1:50 train. In the late afternoon, I opened my back door and headed out for a ride. It wasn't a very nice day; damp, cool, dreary, but at least it wasn't raining. So off I went. DH and I both feel lucky to live in a place where we can just open the back door and go for a ride or a run or a walk. The roads are scenic and not overly congested. We can ride 11 miles or 40 miles (or 111 if we really wanted to). Although we can't ride flat roads, we can make it more or less challenging by adding or deleting significant climbs. We often build a ride on the fly, making decisions when we get to the turn. Today as I headed out DH asked me where I was going and i said "I don't know" because I really didn't know. I can ride along the reservoirs and over the dam, or north on the bike path to Starbucks or the bagel shop. I can ride along the river and look for hawks and herons. Today I rode 16 miles, much of it along the reservoirs. I dialed back the hills a bit, but made sure to include my favorite roller coaster road. I was feeling a bit like the weather, dreary, before I left, and I almost found an excuse not to go. But I got my act together and headed out my back door, and I'm glad I did!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

It IS About the Bike

This morning, the 5 GOBs plus David met up at 8 am to practice riding in a paceline. It was more difficult than on the flatter less traveled roads of western MA. It was at times a little scary pulling off the lead on Rt. 100, with cars whizzing by. But we stuck with it as best we could and it definitely made a difference. Today was a beautiful day and after taking care of a few errands, I really wanted to get outside again. So I went over to the bike path and rode another 20 (flat) miles.

The odometer on my bike computer reads 625. Not too shabby, considering most of the miles came in 25-30 mile increments. It made me realize that this is what I am about this season. Perhaps it is partly because of getting forced out of the pool by my inflamed shoulder. I do plan to resume swimming as soon as I am able, but I don't miss the running. Well, maybe I miss running a little, but I can easily live without "cranky knee syndrome." I can think about triathlons again next winter. But not this season. I am planning on leading a slow paced metric century in August and I am signed up to ride the Rhode Island Century in September-- advertised as the flattest century in the east. So for June, I have to think about longer rides, because for 2009, it IS about the bike.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

All Good

Today the club had a "tailgate party." All the rides started at the same location and when we all rolled in, we pulled out all the food. No grills are permitted, so people prepared assorted salads and desserts and other goodies. The vegetarians in the group were very happy, since there were very few dishes with meat. One person lives very near the park, so she stopped at home to heat up the scallop empanadas! That's pretty serious tailgating!

I went on the C ride and we were a large group, so I decided I would hang in the back to make sure everyone was OK (I guess I volunteered to be the sweep). Sure enough, about 3 miles out, the guy in front of me got a flat and he didn't know how to change it. No problem! One of the skills I had practiced last week at bike camp was changing flats. I stepped up and got it done. I actaully got it done twice because the first tube wouldn't hold air. By the time we caught up to the rest of the ride, they were on their way back, so my ride was a little short (27 v. 31 miles) but I felt strong (I must admit it was not a particularly challenging ride).

When I got home, it was obvious that someone on the street was having a party. My neighbor is having a birthday party for one of her daughters and they have a slip n slide set up on their front lawn. This is becoming an annual event. Last year the slip n slide was relatively small. This year he covered the entire lawn with it. There are about 30 kids having the best time. They are non-stop sliders!. I love seeing active kids. There are way too many fat kids who never get outside and never move their bodies. Seeing these kids having so much fun and being physically active makes me happy.

Now a shower and then I will start to prepare dinner for my family-- all 4 of us. Son #1 is home from college for another week, before he and son #2 both head off to their jobs at Camp Shohola. And then it's the empty nest. So I am trying to enjoy the time we have together.

All good, it's a beautiful Saturday in my part of the universe.