High On Bike

A Bellinghamster On Wheels


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Week in Review

I racked up some respectable miles this week…39 to be exact. Could have made it to 40 had I gone for a ride today but my body is telling me to rest so I’m listening. Thirty nine certainly won’t put me in anyone’s “most logged miles” category but it’s a personal best for me. Many of those miles weren’t exactly easy either. Pedaling panniers full of library books up the hill one day and groceries the day after was exhilarating but physically very demanding, plus I challenged myself to take longer routes with steeper hills. And I didn’t use my car at all the entire week. I’m feeling it all today for sure but how I love it!

This coming week I’m shooting for 40-45 miles and sometime this summer I’d like to hit the 50-mile mark. Tacking on an extra mile or half mile to each ride ought to get me there in no time at all. Weeeeee!


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Helmet Hair

Commuting by bike presents one niggling problem for me–helmet hair. While I’m definitely not the most vain person I know, Dee Dee with smooshed, flat hair is rather unbecoming. In fact, back in the 90s when I was wearing my hair shorter than I do now, it wouldn’t hold much of a style and my stepsons started calling me “Hawk” after the character, Hawk in the campy 1990 Buck Rogers TV show. Like most of my many nicknames it stuck, and even now when my hair is flat, Ira is known to say, “pretty good Hawk you’ve got going there.”

Alas, wearing a bicycle helmet almost every day as I do, my “Hawk” makes regular appearances. But I’ve knitted up a solution. Perusing knitting patterns over on Ravelry—a community, organizational tool, and yarn and pattern database for knitters and crocheters— last week, I stumbled across the Cycle Race Beanie by Sandra Jager and knew I just had to have that hat to wear post rides. Hats are du rigeur here in Bellingham, the more…um…interesting the better. And we wear them year round. Now, when the helmet comes off, the hat goes on. Take that Hawk!


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Januly

With much if the country baking, I know I shouldn’t complain about the weather, especially living in the Pacific Northwest where the weather is always tenuous at best. But seriously, we just had to close all the windows and turn on the heat. We’ll be lucky if it gets up to 60 today and with the wind and rain, it’s downright cold outside. It’s been this way for days now. Just yesterday I rode in my winter cycling tights and a fleece and I was still cold even taking a hilly route! I cut my ride short because it was so misty out, I couldn’t see through my glasses. We’re used to Junuary but Januly is rare and, well…wrong! Bike and I are staying in today in protest. While there are plenty of chilly rides ahead of us, we’d like a few more rides in the sun!


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Cronage

Cronage
‘Cronage’ (krone-ej): The physiological process by which a woman enters her third stage in life—that of the Crone, representing wisdom and repose. Okay, so cronage isn’t a real word. It’s one I made up to describe my personal journey through menopause. Interesting, amusing, and absurdly unpredictable, cronage is a wild ride. Just about the time I think I’m almost through the process, Mother Nature reminds me: “It ain’t over ’till it’s over.”
July has been particularly brutal. After having gone 6 months without a period, I’ve had two already this month both with excruciating cramps that turned me into a whimpering mass of misery that even Ibuprofen couldn’t quite tame. I can take and laugh at the night sweats, hot flashes, and hard to come by sleep. I can even deal with the unpredictable periods. But those sadistic cramps I could do without.
The Janus StoneYesterday was day three of said cramps and I’d had enough. I had a couple of books to pick up at the library and even though all I wanted to do was curl up in a fetal position and wait out the cramps, I decided to hop on my bike and ride to the library. Seven and a half strong miles later, I felt great. My cramps were nonexistent during the ride and while they did show again a little later, I was still on an emotional high from the ride. I used to have a male gynecologist whose only answer for cramps was to exercise. He was unsympathetic and unapologetic. I didn’t like him much for it but he was right to a point—exercise does help. I had a few hours respite after my ride, felt better for it, and had a new book to read.


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Breathing Easy

Asthma ChartI’ve just been diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma. No surprise really, two weeks after my severe allergy attack, I was still coughing a lot which is one of the first signs of asthma. Once I was back to cycling and working out, I noticed I coughed more and heavier exertion left me panting and tired. Plus, both during and after periods of vigorous activity, I’d cough more and I felt like I had to expend more effort. Then there were the insidious coughing spells when I talked a lot (par for me) or laughed. Not one to mess around when it comes to my health, I went to see my doctor. The good news is, I’m in great health. My blood pressure was excellent even after two big cups of coffee—something I’m always happy to see since there is a family history of high blood pressure. My lungs were clear despite the coughing and I rocked the spirometer—a gadget you blow into to measure breath output—scoring over 100 points higher than the norm for my age. My one and only issue is my allergies… ergo the asthma.
So my doctor sent me home with an Albuterol inhaler with instructions to use it about 15 minutes before exercise. Let me tell you, it has made a world of difference. For the first time since my allergy attack, I was actually able to take deep breaths and fill my lungs completely which in turn made the activity less difficult. I’m much stronger pedaling up the hills with less huffing and fatigue. Sweet! I get a little jittery after using the inhaler but it doesn’t last long enough to be an issue.
Although my doctor thinks my asthma is probably temporary she cautioned that there are no guarantees. So the plan is just to take it a day at a time.


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Saving Gas with Pedal Power

In the short time that I’ve been using my bike more to commute, I’m amazed at how much I’m enjoying it and…how much gas I’m saving. So far this week, I’ve used my bike to get everywhere I’ve needed to go. While that doesn’t include trips with Ira who doesn’t have a bike (and doesn’t want one), the gas savings are adding up. I shouldn’t be that surprised when you think about it. Using my car 4-6 times less each week is pretty significant, particularly when you consider that almost all of my driving occurs in town–a gas guzzling endeavor every time. When you factor in the added exercise and my feeling of well being, it just doesn’t get much better.
This morning I have a doctor’s appointment and it’s a problematic trip by bike so I actually have to take my car. But later I have my knitting group and lunch so you can bet I’ll be on my bike for that trip.


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Padded Shorts Decision, Bonanza, and Motivation

Decision:
After my post about being indecisive about riding with padded shorts, I purchased a pair of Andaimopadded underwear and a pair of Nashbar padded shorts. The past couple of weeks have been spent comparing riding with and without. I am definitely more comfortable in the saddle with some padding. The underwear is great to wear with my running shorts and tights but I actually prefer wearing the padded shorts. As much as I ride, though, two pairs are just not enough. Plus, even though summer just started here, cooler weather isn’t that far off so I also need padded tights that will keep me warm.
Bonanza:
In the midst of contemplating (and agonizing over) the expense of adding a couple more pairs of padded shorts and padded tights, I stumbled across a cache of old shorts and tights from my road bike days in a dresser. This was seriously like finding a wad of money in a pair of long forgotten jeans. With three pairs each of shorts and tights, I’m pretty much covered. The glitch, they’re one size smaller than I’m wearing now. They fit… but just.
Motivation:
So, no time like the present to work on losing the 10lbs I’m always complaining about. As much as I dislike being focused on my weight, the truth is I am and I’ll be happier and feel better if I shed a little. My newfound older gear is the perfect motivator to start writing down everything I eat, counting calories, and gaining more control over my eating, with “control” being the operative word.
With decision comes progress.