The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Saturday, June 30, 2012

No Wheels

HOT. Very. Hot.

I decided not to ride today. I rode yesterday and the heat was intense. As soon as you stopped moving, the sweat would start pouring down. The best part of yesterday's ride was the Hawaiian Coconut iced coffee at the Moonbeam Cafe in Briarcliff Manor, and the cherries Susan pulled out of a little cooler when we were finished. I considered riding today but I didn't like any of the options. 40 hills in 40 miles starting at 6:30 am, NO. Many hills in 37 miles starting at 9:30 am, ending at 95 degrees, NO. Drive 30 miles to ride 40 miles starting at 8 am, that was a possibility, but in the end, NO.

So after sleeping in and making blueberry pancakes (they were delicious), I decided to go for a really long walk along the Old Croton Aqueduct, which connects with the trails in the Rockefeller Preserve. My goal was the Rockwood Hall trail, which is on a bluff over the Hudson River, former site of one of the Rockefeller Estates. It was a long walk on a mostly flat and well shaded trail. There are some interesting structures along the aqueduct.

This square stone building had a little bench in case you want to sit there and stare at the stone and try to figure out what the building is (or was).

The engravings on this stone marker commemorates the building of the aqueduct in 1859. I like the special acknowledgement for the "stoners." hehe

I stopped to have lunch on this bench overlooking the Hudson. The Hudson is an enormous river. Even though I see the river almost every day, today it seemed bigger than usual.

I brought along a sandwich and a bag of cherries. I love cherries. I wish cherry season was longer.

Deep thoughts on a Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Good Friends. Good Food. Good Roads. Good Music.

FRIDAY. My friend hosted a potluck dinner for The Ladies of C. We are all level C riders. Some of us are slower than others, but we all fall in the 11-14 mph range for most of our rides. Now when you invite a bunch of women to a potluck dinner, you know the food is gonna be good. Food, wine, friends, a couple of puppies, but no men. It was delightful.

SATURDAY. Rowayton to Ridgefield. Rowayton is a beautiful town on the Connecticut coast. The club had several different variations on this ride, some longer and/or faster than others. I opted for the shortest slowest version, which was 42 miles. There were 6 of us....that was perfect. The roads are beautiful and for the most part, quiet. There was about 2,000 feet of elevation on this ride, but almost all of it is in the first half. The ride to Ridgefield is a long slow climb. It wasn't hard. And the return to Rowayton is almost entirely downhill. Awesome. Then we had lunch on the deck of the Rowayton Market, overlooking the 5 Mile River. Also awesome.

Friends on the Rowayton rides, done.

SUNDAY. More perfect weather, another small group of my C peeps, more beautiful roads. We rode up to and around Titicus Reservoir. It makes you think you are in the Berkshires. Today's ride featured a nose bleed (Joan) and a bee sting (me, in my leg). I felt strong today, especially on the hills, even after yesterday's 40+ miles and the bee sting. More awesome.

We made Joan lie down to stop the nose bleed.

Then we met some friends at The Turning Point in Piermont, NY for Southside Johnny and the Poor Fools. The Turning Point is a tiny little place, about 60 seats. The show was, yes, AWESOME.

Alas, tomorrow is Monday, back to work. Less than awesome, but that's the only way to get to next weekend, for more good friends, good roads, and other good things.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Yesterday I said goodbye to an old friend, a colleague, a mentor. He was 91 years old. He died peacefully in his sleep. I know the last few years of his life were difficult for both him and his family as he slipped away with Alzheimer's disease. His granddaughters and his son delivered his eulogy, and it was beautiful. It was wonderful (and therapeutic) to glean his greatness of character from the this different perspective. They spoke about the same man I have known for 30 years but with different stories and anecdotes to illustrate his greatness.

Shiva is part of the Jewish tradition when someone dies. The family receives guests at their home for several days after the funeral. The gathering of friends and family does help to lessen the pain and ease the transition back into a life without their loved one. It is a time for sharing all those wonderful memories, not to mention large quantities of foods!

I spent a couple of hours with the family and I so enjoyed the chance to get to know them. They say the apple does not fall far from the tree and that was so evident in the time I spent conversing with his 3 children, their spouses and the grandkids. They are all intelligent, thoughtful and loving people. As much as they knew about their father’s work, I don’t think they really understood the magnitude of his contributions as a researcher, writer, scholar, and teacher. I am so glad I had the chance to tell them about their father’s influence. The shiva was his last gift to everyone. May his memory be a blessing.

Monday, June 18, 2012

I Have a Triple and I'm Not Afraid to Use It

In the world of cycling, there are compact doubles and triples. I am referring to the number of chainrings (either 2 or 3) in the front crankset. The third chainring on the triple is small and gives you a range of lower gears. These "granny gears" are used for climbing. The lowest gear on my triple is a little lower than the lowest gear on a compact double and I am happy to have it. Stronger riders may be able to push harder to climb the hills in a higher gear. I prefer to use my granny gears to spin my way up those hills. It takes more revolutions of the pedals to travel the same distance so I travel slower, but I rarely get off my bike.

Over the last few years, I have learned to embrace the hills and the challenge they present. That's how you become a stronger rider. If you aren't afraid of the hills, you can be more adventurous and explore more roads. You might even discover something wonderful at the top of one of those hills (besides a fabulous view). That's what happened when I decided to climb Baptist Church Road.

I must admit that there are still some hills that intimidate me and I avoid them, but DH and I are going on a cycling vacation next month in the Canadian Rockies. There's not much I can do to prepare myself for the elevation, but I can certainly prepare myself for consecutive days of riding with significant climbing. That's why I decided it was time to (harden the f*%^k up)conquer Baptist Church Road and cross it off the list of Climbs To Fear (to put this in perspective, the climb is 1.5 miles with 330 feet of elevation and the grade ranges from 5-12%). Well, I made it and at the top of Baptist Church Road I turned into the driveway of the Faraway Farm and there I discovered the alpacas. Yes, there is an alpaca farm just a few miles from home in the northern suburbs of NYC. I had a conversation with one of their caretakers and he told me to come and visit anytime! The alpacas seemed a little afraid of my bike and the blinkie, but they did finally venture over to say hello. I now have a good reason to climb that road again (besides getting stronger for the Canadian Rockies). I want to visit the alpacas and I want them to meet my friends too. I may be dragging a few of my cycling friends up that hill with me!

It has been 3 months since I've posted here. Not sure if there is anyone out there listening but I am hoping to get my blogging rolling again. It keeps me honest. I have been riding but not with any race or goal in mind; mostly because I really enjoy being on my bike, with my cycling buddies, and taking photos. Losing Mike on St. Pat's Day was very difficult but his death has helped me and many of my friends realize that we need to embrace the days we have. I think Mike would have loved to visit the alpacas.