The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Knees in Autumn

Hello Blogosphere, I am here, and I have been riding my bike! Not as much as I would like, I am trying to bring my knee up to speed. I've been riding slow and limited mileage, but my knee hasn't exploded or revolted. This was the first weekend where I rode consecutive days, and so far so good.

Yesterday's adventure was a club ride, with "CLUB" being the major descriptor. As we were gathering, a young woman walked over to the leader and introduced him to Bob. She asked, "have you ever ridden with Bob?" No. "Did his wife call to tell you about him and his problem?" No. "He is a very strong rider but he has some short term memory problems, just keep an eye on him. He won't have any problems riding with a group. And he has a cell phone and he knows how to call me or his wife if he gets lost." This young woman works for the family, and basically, without telling us she was telling us he has early onset Alzheimer's disease. Everyone who was listening to this conversation had the same reaction-- we all have to take care of him and make sure he rides safely and feels welcome in our group. And so it went! I was so proud of my club. No one expressed any doubts or worries about having him on the ride. He never had any problems and you could tell he loved being out there on his bike. Plus he kicked our asses on the hills. He told us he is riding a century next weekend. I hope that's true. Good luck Bob.

Today's adventure was the last 2012 Bike Sunday on the Bronx River Parkway. A 6.5 mile stretch of the parkway is closed on Sundays in May, June and September from 10 am to 2 pm. I'm not sure why I don't ride every Sunday when its available, but I am so glad I did a couple of loops today. The sun came out just as I got on my bike, and the autumn is starting to color the parklands along the parkway. There were riders of all types, but mostly recreational riders that might be fearful of riding on the roads, and lots of families. So many little kids on bikes. I love seeing that. I even saw mom and dad on a tandem with their son on a recumbent hitch. They stopped at the ice cream truck. I loved being there, soaking up the cycling vibes and positive happenings. Looking forward to bringing that into a full fall season of riding.

"BORN TO RIDE" on her basket

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Not Lyme Disease

Lyme tests were negative. Not in the fluid sucked out of my knee, not in the blood sucked out of my arm.

The doctor gave me a cortisone shot (big ouch), hoping it works its magic. I have to take it easy for a few days, but hoping to be on my bike next week. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Alternate Activity

The knee is no better, in fact I think I have Lyme disease. I am waiting for the blood work to come back and I'm actually hoping it comes back positive! Then, I know what the problem is and I can start treatment. Also, a Lyme diagnosis can be elusive. Even if the blood titer is negative, it can be a false negative and that's how some people get really sick from Lyme disease. Everything would be much simpler if I tested positive.

My knee is still puffy and stiff and at times, painful. That's one of the reason why I think its Lyme disease. It's not behaving as if this is the result of an injury. It's not getting better with rest and it's variable. I haven't been on my bike since early August when I was in the Canadian Rockies! In fact, I haven't been active at all. I have turned to one of my more favorite alternate activities..... cooking. This is good and bad. Its good to be cooking really fresh delicious food at this time of year. I go to the farmer's market and come back with awesome raw materials. I try to cook some things that can be frozen. I will be packing lunches, that's always a good thing. But its also dangerous to have all this food around when I am not working out! You can easily eat too much good food, which is not quite as bad as eating too much junk food, but still an issue when you're fighting those few extra pounds.

After I see the doctor on Tuesday, depending on the diagnosis, I will make a plan. This might be what forces me to get back in the pool; that might be the only aerobic activity in which I can participate until my knee comes around. I do miss Dolce, my sweet ride, and all my club peeps....... I hope I get my knee back soon.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Love Your Knees

It started in Calgary. The day after completing my Canadian Rockies adventure, I noticed that my knee was stiff when I got out of the shower. This was reminiscent of the ruptured Baker's cyst of February. Not good. When I got home, I went to see the orthopedist. He didn't think it was another Baker's cyst (that's good) but he really wasn't sure what was causing my puffy knee. Well, 2 weeks later and my knee is still puffy, wobbly and at times painful. Lab tests on knee fluid that the doctor sucked out of my knee was negative; 10 days of Celebrex has not done much. And my doctor is currently on vacation. Tomorrow I am scheduled to see one of the other docs in the practice for another cortisone injection (had one in Feb). I will also push for another MRI because clearly something has changed since February.

I have a new found appreciation for knees. You cannot be an active person with puffy wobbly knees. I suffer when walking down stairs (more than walking up). I can't hustle to catch a train. I miss my bike and my bike buddies. I don't think I have been negligent of my knees needs. I may ask them to enable my adventures, but I don't think I have asked them to be super human. And I don't think it was the 9 mile climb (of which I completed 7 miles) up to and over Sunwapta Pass that made my left knee revolt.

Please be good to your knees. Love your knees. You can't imagine how much they do for you until they stop working well.

I am hoping the cortisone injection will help but I do want to figure out what is causing my puffy wobbly knee. Then I hope I can fix it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cycling the Canadian Rockies with Bicycle Adventures

Day 1
Aaron our tour guide picked us up in Calgary.... me and the family of 3. Mama Michele and daughter Gabby weren't riding, so it was just me and Tim on the road. We drove about 2 hours into Banff National Park and got the bikes set up and fitted. And we were off on our first adventure. We started at 4500 ft, and I definitely felt that especially on the first climb. But I also had good climbing legs on that first day. Tim was great. Whatever concerns I had were quickly put to rest. Tim rode behind me and seemed happy just to be on his bike. He is from St. Louis and I think he is more of a long haul guy.
The roads were great....there's also a bike path. The weather was divine. The mountains seemed to surround us 360. We came upon a mama big horn sheep and her babies. A little bit down the road we passed an entire herd. After this 9 mile loop we got back to the van where lunch was ready. We also found Michele with a bag of ice on her ankle. She fell in a gopher hole and twisted it and scraped up her knee badly. Well, while it was undecided how much damage she had done, Tim and I set off for part B. This time we learned about hoodoos and then we saw a black bear. 17 miles and we rode to the Banff Park Lodge. Tim took Michele to the hospital to verify that nothing was broken and clean out her knee. I grabbed my camera and set off to explore the town. We had a great dinner in town and then I went on another photo safari. 27 miles.

Day 2 from Banff
We rode to the end of the street and watched an elk walk cross the road. Then we headed past beautiful Vermilion Lake and onto the Bow River Parkway. Tim got in front of me and pulled me for some long stretches. We had a great lunch at another beautiful vista over the Bow River. We hit some rain a few miles out from Lake Louise and called it a day. We drove the 9 miles up to Moraine Lake. OMG. The lake is in the Valley of Ten Peaks (AKA the Valley of Humungus Mosquitoes). The restaurant in the lodge is excellent. We spent two nights at this special place. 33 miles

Day 3 Moraine Lake and Lake Louise
The morning sky was crystal clear, so I seized the moment and headed out with my camera before breakfast. Moraine Lake is a special place but during the day it is mobbed with tourists, hikers and photographers. Early in the morning, it is quiet and the colors of the mountains and the water are intense. I appreciated these moments away from the crowds. This was hiking day; from Lake Louise to the tea house (which was packed with hikers). Yes, a tea house at the top of this mountain, built in the 1920s. What a spectacular hike. First we circled around to the back side of the lake where you can see how the glacier feeds the lake and the silt colors the water. Then as you climb, you see the lake and the chateau receding. On to the tea house; how great to hike 3 miles to 7000 ft and have the chance to order a bowl of soup or a pot of tea or a piece of chocolate cake. From there we hiked out to the glacier, another half mile or so. That was the toughest part, across a skree field, along a knife edge ridge. On our way to the glacier we heard the thunder of the ice cracking. We started with incredibly beautiful skies but it was cloudy when we got to the glacier. After we descended and got back to the chateau, i picked up my big camera, but I was pooped. 7 miles

Day 4 On the Icefields Parkway.
Today was a mixed day for me. It was drizzling when we started so we drove down the parkway a bit before we got started. We were soon among another group of cyclists from an 8 day version of our trip, which started in Glacier National Park. You can imagine that they were stronger and faster than me. Tim was able to ride with them and I fell off the back. Although the Icefields Parkway does have a big shoulder most of the way, it is heavily traveled. I rode about 13 miles feeling a bit uncomfortable riding alone with RVs (many of them rented RVs) flying by. There were one or two women in the other group who were slower, but I was feeling sorry for myself and lonely and the weather was getting worse so I got in the van.
But soon after that, the weather got much worse, with some sleet and even hail. Aaron asked Tim to get in the van and we drove to the hotel. By the time we got there, the skies cleared and the peaks were dusted with snow. The guides on the 8 day trip prepared an awesome lunch, and then I got cleaned up and ready for another photo safari, but it was raining again. Oh well. We were on the dark side of the moon--no cell service, no internet. But I did have a shitty TV so I happily watched the Olympics. 13 miles

Day 5 Icefield Parkway, climb to Sunwapta Pass, 4748 ft to 6676 ft over 28 miles.
Conversation with myself:I can do this. I just have to do own ride, not worry about who is in front of me or behind me. I am slow but that is ok. There is plenty of time and there will be people making sure I am ok. I wonder how many pedal strokes I will count.
I left Saskatchawan Crossing in long tights, long sleeves, fleece, ear warmer, but hoping to see the sun break through. I left a little early to get a bit of a head start. The first 18 miles were beautiful. The skies were clearing and although it was cool, I was dressed for it. I peeled off layers as I warmed up. As we started the big climb, I could see one of the switchbacks. Very steep and very exposed, narrow shoulder with a guard rail. That spooked me so I popped in the van for about 2.5 miles. Then I climbed the rest of it. At one point Aaron jumped on a bike and helped me with the climb. I know that some people have to keep going and don't stop even on a 10 mile climb. I had to stop several times and each time I got going again, that's when I tried to talk myself out of finishing it. But I really couldn’t stop because the van was always ahead of me, so I made it to the top of Sunwapta Pass. And, next year I hope to climb the whole thing.
After a great lunch of pesto ravioli overlooking the Columbia Icefield, I decided to take the ice bus onto the glacier. Very cool. The ice bus has gigantic wheels. They drive onto the glacier and give you about 20 minutes to explore, but keep you confined to a very small area so you don't punch through to the icy waters. Taking photos was very challenging. The ice and the sky were all the same color, so everything was overexposed on auto, but it was difficult to see the images on the monitor to make adjustments while shooting in manual. Well, I tried.

Day 6 Jasper
Aaron broke down and packed up Tim’s bike after day 5 so we decided that we would not ride into Jasper. Instead we drove in, dropped off Michele and Gabby, and then Tim, Aaron and I went for a short hike. We made our way to Patricia Lake, which was a lovely spot on a beautiful warm day. We had a little time to wander around Jasper (mostly t-shirts, and bear-related souvenirs). We had lunch and then got in the van for the long haul back to Calgary. Aaron dropped me off at my hotel in downtown Calgary and we all hugged and said our goodbyes.
Overall, this was a spectacular trip. The weather was good if not great. Obviously I would have enjoyed it more if DH was with me, but I have no regrets about having gone without him. I probably would have enjoyed it more with a bigger group, but Aaron, Tim, Michele and Gabby were wonderful companions and Tim was a great riding buddy. I would not hesitate to do it again next summer with DH.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wine Lotto and Brick Oven Pizza

I attended a fund-raiser over the weekend, that was so much fun! There are 3 Amazing Women in the bike club who race, and they win! Back in May they competed in the Berkshire Classic, a UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) event, and guess what, they all finished on the podium. And therefore they earned a spot to race at the World Cycling Tour finale, to be held next month in South Africa. Wow! what an opportunity... but you can imagine the price tag on traveling to South Africa. So Jodee and her husband Ed hosted a fund raising party, at their home. There are a few things about Jodee and Ed that set this event apart from others.
1. They have a beautiful home, with a pool and a hot tub
2. Ed knows wine. In fact, he makes wine.
3. They have a brick oven in their backyard for making pizza.
4. Riding from their home has limitless possibilities for all level riders.

We started the afternoon with 3 different rides--Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear. They were all mapped to take less than 2 hours to finish. The 3 Amazing Women each rode with one of the 3 groups. That was the appetizer for the main course party.

The price of admission to this fund raising party was $25 and 2 identical bottles of wine. One bottle was put into the prize pile and 1 was used for the wine tasting lotto. Every bottle was wrapped in a brown paper bag, numbered, and placed on a table with stacks of small wine glasses. Participants were asked to taste as many wines as you desired (there were 30 entries) and vote for your favorite (by number). The person that brought the bottle that got the most votes was the winner, and they received a case of wine. There were 2nd and 3rd place winners as well. While we were snacking and tasting 30 different wines, Jodee was popping pizzas into the backyard brick oven. Of course there was salads and other wonderful foods and beer and soft drinks. It was a beautiful day, so people popped in and out of the pool and the hot tub. You can imagine how happy people were with 30 wines on the table and little pizzas magically emerging from the backyard brick oven. And of course, dessert.

I have decided that the bike club is not the place to lose weight....there seems to be a party after every ride! But what's better than eating and drinking to support 3 Amazing Women racing in a world championship in South Africa. There's Monday through Friday for eating salads.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Not me, my husband. This started about 4 weeks ago. He got really sick, scary sick. When I finally convinced him that it wasn't food poisoning and took him to the doctor (because at that point he couldn't take himself), his spleen was quite enlarged and his red blood cells were MIA. The doctor said, "this looks like mono." Well, she was right. By the time we got a diagnosis, he was starting to feel better, and now at not quite 4 weeks out, he is feeling much better. He has no stamina, and usually goes to bed early, but he has been going to work and making it through the day without a 4 hour nap!

BUT we booked a cycling vacation in the Canadian Rockies, starting July 30. We are scheduled to leave this Thursday to spend a few days visiting son #2 in North Dakota. We don't have trip insurance....... so I am going and DH is not. There is no way that he will be able to ride and rather than spend 6 days in the SAG wagon, we decided to take a credit for 2/3 of his trip. When it was clear that he was not critically ill and would be able to take care of himself, I asked him how he would feel if I went without him, and he reminded me that he has taken vacations without me.

And so, I am going to Grand Forks ND, then Calgary, where I will be picked up by Bicycle Adventures for a cycling tour from Banff to Jasper. I am excited and looking forward to it, and yet disappointed that my DH isn't coming. Ironic that we picked this trip because he has never been there. I guess I will have to tour the Canadian Rockies twice!

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Two Bridges

One of the club's most popular rides is the Two Bridges Ride. It starts in Cold Spring, we travel south and cross the Bear Mt. Bridge, then head north to West Point. On a good day they let us ride through West Point. Then we climb Storm King Mountain, and descend to Newburgh. We come across the Newburgh Beacon Bridge and head south back to Cold Spring. Its 40 miles with lots of climbing. It's a favorite with the faster riders in the club.

On Thursday one of my friends led this ride at a slower pace. Her husband rides slower than she does and she wanted to take him on one of her most favorite rides. Me and some of my slower friends were able to join in! What fun.

When we got to West Point, they let us ride through. We stopped at Trophy Point where a tour guide decided we needed a history lesson! Wow, we finally had to tell him we had a lunch reservation and needed to pedal off.

The road out of West Point is a significant climb, followed by the ascent of Storm King Mountain.

This is Storm King in the winter. You can see the cut, that's the road.

A group photo at the top of course.

And a kiss when my friend's husband made it to the top.

Let me explain....... the husband had a stroke when he was 27 years old. It left him with left side paralysis. So he rides a bike with one leg and one arm. His bike has been adapted so both brakes are controlled by 1 lever, and both gear shifters are on the right. I have been riding alongside him for several years. I don't even think of him as disabled. This man lives his life as if there is nothing that he can't do (actually I know 1 thing he cannot do-- buckle his bike helmet). He has traveled around the world, scuba diving and cycling. He inspires many of us. Can't get up that hill? Really? even with 2 legs?

We made our way to Newburgh where we had lunch on the patio of one of the riverfront restaurants. Lovely. Then across the Newburgh Beacon Bridge, over the 2 ugly hills in Beacon and the sprint back to Cold Spring.

Great day.

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.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Love and Death

It's hard to believe that the willow trees are showing their color and the daffodils are in full bloom! The early spring has been screaming to all my cycling buddies, "Let's Ride!" and the cyclists have answered. The club ride board has rides for every level and people are coming out to ride and to....... PARTY! All it took was a suggestion and a St. Patrick's Day tailgate was in the works for Saturday. There were 5 or 6 rides, all starting from the same place and all scheduled to (hopefully) finish at the same time. About 100 people showed up because there is nothing we love more than riding on a beautiful day with our friends, except maybe tailgating on a beautiful day with our friends. I did an easy ride because right now, that's all I can do. I was happy to be with my slower friends, including Liz. Mike and Liz are another cycling couple. LIke DH and I, we love these "multi-level" events because we each ride at different levels/different speeds, but then we all come together for the festivities. Liz rode with my group and Mike went with the faster/longer group out to Greenwich Point Park. It was one of his favorites rides, one that Mike's ridden many times. No one ever dreamed it would be his last. On the last climb of the ride, Mike had a massive heart attack. The medics weren't able to bring him back. When Liz got to the hospital, he was gone.

Liz has lost the love of her life, her husband of 33 years, her childhood sweetheart. The only consolation (if there is any) is that he died doing what he loved, riding his bike on a beautiful day with his friends. Our hearts are heavy, everyone who knew Mike knows we have lost a gentle soul, a soft spoken man of great love and passion. Rest in peace, Mike, we will all miss you very much.

Monday, March 12, 2012


This weekend marked my re-entry into an active lifestyle. The bike club's season got started this weekend with a new member orientation ride on Saturday and a full selection of rides on Sunday. I helped out on Saturday. On "new member rides," there are usually a few people who are very inexperienced and don't fully understand how and when to use their gears. Having someone ride behind them to help them with that and getting them over a few hills is very reassuring. But it can be difficult to ride that slow, even for me! Plus it was a cold afternoon, and with all the stopping and starting and slowness, I never really warmed up. But it was 11 miles, and you have to start somewhere. More importantly, all my body parts were compliant and I was able to propel my bike forward... so I decided to lead a ride on Sunday, a very scenic 20 miles over the hills and around the reservoirs in the northern county. It's been 3 months of inactivity and an overall lack of energy and motivation, and I paid the price. The hills......... I remembered the 2 big hills on this ride, and I was (at least) mentally prepared for those, but I forgot about the long slow burner and the rollers and the smaller but definite climbs. I even told my group what to expect, a slow but challenging ride. Then why did I expect something different? Later on in the day my husband and I were driving to a party and I was complaining about feeling so out of shape especially when climbing, and it all became crystal clear. After 3 months "off," I have no right to expect anything different. Yes, time for a reality check. I'm going to have to work to get it back. It's not free. I have to earn it. Starting at the bottom can be discouraging. Many of my cycling peeps rode consistently through the very mild winter, and I can't keep up with them. I must admit there was also a tiny kernel of fear being on the roads with cars and trucks. I was glad I always had someone behind me. But happiness was the main ingredient..... to feel that special freedom on 2 wheels, visiting one of my favorite places (the Croton Dam) and being with some of my favorite people. Much more happiness to come.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

It Don' Come Easy

You know it don't come easy.......

Just when it seemed like I was putting Shelly v. Truck in the rear view mirror and getting some energy and motivation back, along comes February with a new challenge. It actually started the last week in January, when I took a little road trip to Ithaca. When I got out of the car after the 4 hour trip, I noticed my left knee was really stiff. A day or two later, I noticed that my knee was a bit swollen. Then a few days later I noticed that my LEG was swollen..... time to see the doctor who ordered an ultrasound to rule out a deep vein thrombosis, e.g. phlebitis. OK, so the life threatening condition is ruled out, now I'm left with an orthopedic problem. A few more days before I see the orthopedist and the swelling gets worse, can't put on my left shoe! and now I'm in pain every time I ask my calf muscle to get involved. A few X-rays and an MRI later, and I am diagnosed with a ruptured Baker's cyst. Never heard of it? Me neither. The only people who have heard of this are people who had the same problem. This has nothing to do with banana bread or wedding cakes, named after Dr. Baker. It's a outpouching of synovial fluid in the back of your knee. If it ruptures, all the synovial fluid drips into your calf, causing the pain and swelling. Treatment is complete slothdom. I spent a week at home sitting in a chair with my leg elevated. That definitely helped. When I returned to the doctor he decided to give me a cortisone injection to "jump start" the recovery by shutting down the inflammation. The "cortisone juice cloud" that bathed my knee was magical! I could not believe how quickly and completely my knee felt completely recovered. But I did spend a few more days at home, letting my knee rest.

So here I am, about a month after this all started, and I feel lazy, fat, out of shape and in search of motivation to get started again. Today is a beautiful day, a little colder than we've gotten used to this winter, but the sky is bright blue. So I am going to take my bike out. Nothing to brag about, I am going to go over to the bike path and see what my knee tells me. And what the rest of me tells me too, considering its been 3 months since I've done anything that might make me feel "fit." I either have to get this going again or....... actually this is not an either/or situation. I have to get going again, even if I have to start at the bottom. Nowhere to go but up.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Little Family History

My husband has NY Giants season tickets. Originally, these were his father's tickets, when the Giants played at Yankee Stadium. My husband bleeds blue. He went to Pasadena to see the Giants win Super Bowl XXI (1986 season).

When the Giants played the (undefeated) Patriots in the Super Bowl 4 years ago, we actually got 2 tickets in the lottery. They cost $700 each. After considering the options, we decided to send our 2 boys to the game in Arizona. They were 16 and 19 years old at the time. They appreciated the magnitude of that gift and they will have those memories forever. DH and I never regretted that decision.

Fast forward a few years and the Giants build a new stadium. DH was ready to give up his tickets. He felt that selling "Personal Seat Licenses" was essentially blackmail and it was an awful big chunk of money for the 4 seats. But the boys really wanted to keep the tickets so he made a deal with them. He bought the seats (but downgraded to less expensive ones) and the boys agreed that they would pay him back at some point....... (I'm not holding my breath).

So DH and sons #1 and #2 all have blue blood. They have remained true Giants fans through the good times and the bad. Right now they are pumped up and slightly insane as the Giants get ready to face the Patriots again in the Super Bowl.

Yesterday we received an email from the Giants, informing us that we will not be receiving tickets to the Super Bowl. My kids are disappointed. I think they must be a little spoiled since they seemed to be expecting that 1) we would be selected to receive tickets 2) we would purchase the tickets at whatever astronomical cost and 3) we would send them again! Well, obviously their dream has been dashed. So just like most folks, they will be at big Super Bowl parties eating and drinking and hopefully watching the Giants CRUSH the Patriots.

Go Big Blue!

Super Bowl Bound......All In!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hiking Bear Mountain

If there was snow, we would be out there on snowshoes.... but why let the lack of snow keep us off the trails? Today a bunch of us hiked up Bear Mountain. We went up on the Major Welch Trail, which is very steep, and came down on the Appalachian Trail (AT). The part of the AT that crosses over Bear Mountain was rebuilt and reopened in June 2010. Over 5 years, 800 hand-hewn granite steps were installed and stone retaining walls were built. It's very beautiful and I can appreciate what a huge feat this was! Now as many as 100,000 hikers travel over those steps every year.

It wasn't one of those absolutely beautiful winter days. It was cloudy and cold and windy, especially on the top of the mountain! But it wasn't raining and it wasn't too cold to be outdoors, so why not get out there, enjoy the company of some friends and spend some time in the woods. As always, I tucked my little Canon into one of my pockets.

Perkins Tower atop Bear Mountain

Overlooking the Hudson River

Resting on the way Up

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cycling Couples

One of my friends is writing an article about "cycling couples" for the February (Valentine's Day) edition of the club's newsletter. She asked 5 or 6 cycling couples to write something about how we came to be a cycling couple, the pros and cons, maybe a little humor, etc. So this is what DH and I wrote. I know she will only use little pieces of it, but it was fun to write. Brought back many wonderful memories. And made me appreciate our lives together.

When Shelly and Lew met (on a blind date but that is a story for another day), Lew was primarily into basketball and running- 5 and 10K’s, with occasional soccer and softball. Shelly and her friends were cycling on weekends and taking mini-cycling vacations together. Lew decided it was time to purchase a bike and Shelly bought some new running shoes. Shelly had been a lifeguard at a summer camp and Lew was under the mistaken impression that she was a good swimmer. When their relationship began to get “serious,” Lew decided Shelly should become a triathlete. For some reason, Shelly decided being incredibly slow in 3 sports might be fun but insisted that Lew join the fun, so Lew forced himself to become a swimmer. And so began the Triathlon Adventures, V1. Clearly Lew was the more serious triathlete and he competed in many Olympic Tris between 1985 and 1991.
Then the babies arrived. Over the next 15+ years, they both tried to stay in shape. Let’s just say it wasn’t easy. But eventually son #1 had a driver’s license, then son #2 had a driver’s license and the Parental Taxi Service was no longer in business. Shelly and Lew were also facing some BIG Birthdays and decided a BIG Hawaiian vacation was in order. Once the trip was booked, Shelly realized she had a few months to get ready for this “multi-sport active vacation.” She remembers some of those short rides around the neighborhood……but thinking about riding in Hawaii kept her going. The Hawaiian vacation was wonderful. Shelly realized how much she missed cycling, and Lew realized how much he missed triathlons.
With their athletic batteries recharged, Shelly joined WCC and they both resolved to compete in another Triathlon. And so began the Triathlon Adventures, V2. Shelly began to ride with the club most weekends, and Lew was doing his thing, mostly solo. They both competed in the Pawling triathlon in 2008. Lew is still pursuing goals as a triathlete; Shelly has started listening to her knees and has decided to pursue being incredibly slow in only one sport…. cycling.
Shelly’s involvement with WCC grew and so did her friendships. At some point she realized that Lew was also a “member,” whether he liked it or not! She would point out rides to him and he soon found his place with the B riders. He still rides solo, but enjoys the longer rides with the club.
There are so many positives to sharing our love of cycling. It’s never a problem when either one of us wants to do something cycling related. It’s never difficult to think of a great gift. Club events appear on both of our social calendars. Probably the greatest “gift” that cycling has given us is the opportunity to travel and share these cycling adventures together. There have been many awesome cycling vacations, most recently to Oregon’s Willamette Valley and Columbia River Gorge.
The only downside is that we don’t often ride together because we ride at different levels. But even this has its advantages. Sometimes we go on separate rides and if the timing works out, we will meet somewhere for lunch. We’ve both gotten to know each other’s riding buddies so we have twice as many WCC friends. Multi-level club events are awesome. This past summer we loved the Wednesday Night Fling. When we do ride together, Lew tries to gently push Shelly to ride a little faster and Shelly aggressively tries to slow Lew down (Shelly is more successful so these rides are slow), but it’s always a sweet time. We’ve talked about a tandem and that still might happen. It would be yet another way to share our passion for cycling.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


I've been thinking about food, probably very typical of many people as we start a new year and resolve to "eat healthier" and lose some weight. I came across a very short "piece" written by Mark Bittman in the New York Times, acknowledging that while weight loss has become an obsession, most Americans do need to eat better. Whatever path you choose to eat better, they share a universal truth: eat more plants. And the corollary of that is to eat no meat and no dairy..... well, how about eating less meat and dairy to make room for more plants.
The "eat more plants" part made me think of Michael Pollan and I was able to find this article also published in the New York Times in which he lays out some basic rules for "eating better." There are 9 rules (which were expanded to 64 rules in his book, Food Rules) but they can be summarized in 7 words. Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

I was a vegetarian for about 5 years. I went back to eating meat for several reasons, mostly because 1) I wasn't necessarily eating better as a vegetarian and 2) I was spending too much time in the kitchen because I was also preparing carnivorous meals for the rest of my family. But thinking about this over the last few days, maybe Bittman has the right idea, semi-vegan, just shifting away from carnivore and toward vegetarian. That would certainly be a shift in the right direction, a better balance.

The thinking about it part is easy, its the doing part that's tough. More to think about when I watch the season opener of The Biggest Loser this evening.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Just Do It

I'm not big on new year resolutions. I do think about the year past and about keeping some guiding principles in play. It's more like a reaffirmation of what is important to me followed by a little pep talk with myself. I know what I need to do, now I need to just do it.

The year past certainly had many high points, most notably watching our children spread their wings and turn big corners in their lives. But the last 6 weeks of the year were rough..... Shelly v Truck sent me into a dark corner both physically and mentally. So one of my themes for 2012 will be getting out of that corner and being more active in many aspects of my life.

Yesterday I met a bunch of friends at the Rockies (the Rockefeller Preserve) for a nice walk. What a beautiful day, it certainly felt more like spring than January 1st. The we had a lovely brunch at Pat's house. The day was capped off by the Giants defeating the Cowboys. It was a good start, hopefully more good days ahead.