The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Another Unique NYC Adventure

This adventure did not involve a bicycle! I took the subway to 23rd St. and 8th Ave and visited the High Line. The High Line is an urban park on the west side of Manhattan that used to be an elevated freight train line. It was abandoned many years ago and was going to be demolished until some community activists began a campaign to "save the High Line." The first section of the park was opened in 2009, and the 2nd section was opened this spring. When completed, the High Line will be 1.5 miles long.

It is beautiful. The gardens that flow along the rails are very lush and wild. They definitely evoke a sense of what the High Line looked like before it was "reclaimed." Being above the streets is a unique way to experience the city. There are all kinds of interesting buildings, old and new that are above and alongside the park. The design includes benches and alcoves and even wooden chaise lounges built into the park.

Notably, there are only a few vendors within the park. I did not see 1 Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts for the entire 2 hours I spent there. I did enjoy a delicious blackberry ice pop, perfect on a hot summer day. Chic new cafes and eateries are flourishing beneath the High Line and a "food court" of food trucks can be found at the northern end.

The High Line is a photographic playground.
Between the gardens, the people, the buildings, and the juxtaposition of NYC, it would be easy to take 100 photos while visiting. But I have been experiencing bad camera karma over the past few days..... make that weeks. Yesterday was the pinnacle of bad karma. I could not find my DSLR, so I grabbed my little Elph. I took about 5 photos before the battery ran out of juice. I always bring an extra battery, but not this time.....I was SO frustrated. I will have to return to the High Line with a fully loaded camera bag! DH really wants to get there too, so I will definitely be back, probably more than once.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Little of This, a Little of That

Son #2 saw something about "an afternoon of vintage baseball" that was happening in Hawley PA, a town near the summer camp where he and son #1 are working. DH and I decided to go visit with the kids and watch some vintage baseball-- a great combination for a hot summer Saturday.

The vintage baseball was so interesting. We saw them play with 1898 rules. The most obvious difference is no gloves (the least obvious difference is no steroids). It is MUCH more difficult to field the ball when you don't have a big old glove! Many of their bats were homemade, and they wore vintage uniforms. It was a fun way to spend a few hours, even if the game was a blow out---Brooklyn Atlantics 21, Roxbury Nine 2.

On Sunday, we celebrated the marriage of our friends from the cycling club, Katie and Victor. (These (lunatics) friends were married last month atop Whiteface Mt. after racing to the top. Katie wore a veil under her helmet and a sash that said "The Bride"... Victor wore his best spandex.) Of course the celebration for all their club friends had to include cycling, so.... we scheduled a bunch of rides nearby Katie's parents' home on Roaring Brook Lake (the big hills of Putnam), and when we were done, we gathered there for the party. We do love to find excuses to have parties in conjunction with our rides, but this was no excuse, this was bona fide. It was a great way to spend a good chunk of Sunday.

Somehow we managed to get through the heat wave without too much difficulty. We'll see how we do as the weather heats up again over the next few days.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Unique Cycling Adventure on a Perfect Day

We drove to Palisades Park in Englewood Cliffs and got on our bikes. We rode over the George Washington Bridge

and after a little confusion and a lecture from an NYPD officer (we made a left in front of the no left turn sign, against traffic, and rode up on the sidewalk-- other that we were fine), we found our way to the Greenway which runs along the entire west side of Manhattan.

We rode along the Hudson, and I got a sense of the urban summer, people coming over to the parks along the river to picnic, read, walk their dogs, play tennis and basketball, run. I saw lots of people carrying cargo of all types on their bikes, from lawn chairs to groceries to dogs. We had to navigate through and around the crowds especially in lower Manhattan, and staying on the Greenway/bikepath was tricky. We had to detour around the site of the tower rising at One World Trade Center. We finally arrived at the ferry to take us to Governor's Island...... about 3 minutes too late for the once every hour on the hour ferry. So.... we got ourselves some refreshments and got on the next ferry..... with every school-aged child attending a day camp in the borough of Manhattan. There were hundreds of camp kids on that ferry! The island is only 1/2 mile away, so ferry ride takes about 7 minutes. When we disembarked, we explored the island. As we circumnavigated the island, we had photo ops galore, with fantastic views of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan.

After about an hour or so, we got back on the ferry and rode back to and over the GW Bridge.

What a unique adventure that can only be done on a bike. I would have liked to spend more time on the island with my camera. I probably would have liked to spend more time taking photos along the river, too. My husband wasn't able to come on this adventure, and he would like to get to Governor's Island, so maybe I will have another chance on another day...... perhaps after the summer when the crowds thin out.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Da Bomb

Yesterday, my friend Bob invited me to a BBQ at 2:00, knowing that we both wanted to join the Wednesday Night Fling (the Fling is a series of rides of various lengths—11, 14, 22, or 25 miles) that all begin at the same place at 5:30 or 6:00). Yesterday evening was perfect for a beautiful ride through the back roads of Greenwich CT, and I knew many of my riding peeps would be there, ready to roll.

I got to Bob’s place at 2:30, and he announced that he was just about ready to go buy the food!! WTF?? When he returned from the A&P, he lit the charcoals, and we had to wait for the grill to heat up (as much as I appreciate charcoal, I am a propane girl). I didn't want to be rude, after my friend went to all this trouble to have us over for lunch, and by this time I was pretty hungry..... so I finally ate my hamburger at 4:30. And it was delicious. But it was a mistake.

When I got on my bike at 5:30, I realized that the hamburger bomb in my gut was going to explode if I put any effort into turning the cranks. I watched my peeps disappear down Riversville Road and considered my options. I could try to stay with them on tired legs (did I mention I had already ridden 25 miles that morning) and hope I would feel better after throwing up. I could just do what I could do and avoid vomiting and feel sorry for myself for being so slow. I could cut the ride short, sit around and wait for my friends to get back while letting the hamburger digest. I opted for the last option, no sufferfest or pity party. I rode 10 miles and that was that. From now on, the hamburgers will be eaten AFTER the ride.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Just Call Me Slow Twitch

One day last week I left work a little early and when I got home, I jumped on my bike. DH and I are very lucky (and probably a little spoiled). We can open the garage door and go, “where the hills are abundant and all roads lead to the Croton Dam.” That is how I describe riding in our corner of Westchester County. And I have finally taken my husband’s advice and stopped worrying about the hills. It’s futile, anyway. It doesn’t matter which way you go, there will be hills. In fact, I am learning to love the hills…. because if doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger. And I’m still here blogging about the hills, so they haven’t killed me.
I have ridden consistently over the last 3 months and I’m definitely stronger, especially when climbing, but stronger has not translated into faster. I can ride longer and it feels easier, but similar to my recent experience in the pool, I have 1 speed—SLOW. I guess I am all slow twitch fibers.

I suppose if I really wanted to I could get myself a coach, start riding intervals and hill repeats, drink protein shakes, and buy a $5,000 bike. That combination might increase my average speed by 1 or 2 mph……But I don’t want to do any of those things.

So I am stuck at slow, slow but strong! I will push myself to ride further and faster, because that’s how you get stronger. I will climb those hills, and take photos when I get to the top. I will ride fewer miles than my faster friends, but we will all meet up at the end for the party. I might even catch them on the way up some of those hills.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Missing Elph and Loving Flowers

My addiction to pocket-sized cameras goes way back. In the early 80s I bought an Olympus XA, which has become a classic camera. That camera was in my pocket on many adventures. I remember being somewhere and thinking, I wish I had my BIG camera, instead of just the XA. Well, when I got the pictures DEVELOPED (remember film? you had to pay to get the pictures developed) I was pleasantly surprised at the wonderfulness of the pictures I had taken with the simplest little Olympus XA that I pulled out of my pocket at perfect photo ops.

Now fast forward to the digital era and the XA has been replaced by a Canon 850, aka the Elph. I love my Elph and take it just about everywhere. One of my new year resolutions was to always have Elph in my pocket. Well, maybe not always, but almost always. I may not always take it out, but I do have it with me. I even have a special "pocket" for it on my bike.

Last weekend, when I packed to go to my niece's wedding, I put the Elph, and an extra battery and the battery charger in my bag. I never saw the extra battery and the charger again. I have no idea what happened to them. But when the I wanted to replace the battery 5 minutes into the wedding, I didn't have it.

I thought about just going into the nearest Best Buy and replacing them...... $40. Then I found the charger and the battery at for under $10 (including shipping). So I am sitting out a few days without my Elph. Actually, I am looking at a very sad powerless Elph and waiting for the magic Elph Juice to revive my pocket wonder.

Not having the Elph has given me the opportunity to share the love. On Friday DH and I went to the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) in the Bronx. The NYBG is my home turf... I grew up nearby and I have spent a decent amount of time there over the years. DH, on the other hand, doesn't ever remember being there, even though he too grew up in the Bronx. We spent a good part of the day there, exploring the Enid Haupt Conservatory, the perennial garden and the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden. Out came the Canon Rebel and the macro lens. I took 140 photos! Enjoy a few flowers.

Friday, July 01, 2011

One Speed

Today I did something I haven't done in many months......
I got in the pool.

It wasn't easy, but that's the price I have to pay for staying away so long. I tried not to overthink it, instead I just got in and kept going. I realized I only have 1 speed in the pool-- SLOW. It wasn't pathetically slow, but I really couldn't modify it very much. Try to go faster, start huffing and puffing, try to go slower and sink. But it felt great to be moving through the water. I need to do this more often.

I tried to do some kicking but I didn't bring my fins. The fins that the club has are really in bad shape and none of them really fit so that didn't work too well. Time to throw the fins in my car, along with my helmet and bike gear. Next time I will be ready. Remind me that I need to do this more often.