High On Bike

A Bellinghamster On Wheels


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You Sure Got a Purdy Bike

In case you were wonderAgony of Defeating (I know it was one of the foremost questions on your mind), I’m not watching the Tour de France (TdF) this year. I know it’s like the biggest thing ever in cycling and I can appreciate the athletic-ness that it takes to compete in the race, doping notwithstanding. But I just can’t get into it. First of all, I’d rather be out riding my own bike than watching other people ride theirs on TV. Secondly, bicycle races don’t do much for me in general. Fast is not my thing so for me it’s not how fast you go, it’s just about the going. Plus watching that many riders all bunched up in a group makes me twitchy because I’m absolutely convinced there’s going to be a big agony of defeat at some point in the race with a big pile of bodies and bikes being the end result. Who wants to see that?

I’m not much of a group rider anyway even in the days when I was a sort of roadie. Its not that I’m antisocial, it’s just that I’ve never had much luck with them. The very first group ride I went on, I had some numb nut riding beside me the whole way yammering about my cadence. It was a 20-mile ride and I seriously thought of causing him his own little agony of defeat just to shut him up. Cadence, schmadence! I was just out for a ride. Then there was the evening ride through the back roads near Nashville where I was unfamiliar with the route. I couldn’t keep up with the true roadies who rode like they thought they were in the TdF and being the sole mid-pack rider, I ended up lost as dusk was quickly descending. I actually had to stop and wait for the slowpokes to catch up with me so I could get back to the parking lot where we started, hoping all the while I didn’t hear any banjo music. I’ve mostly cycled solo ever since and have never given my cadence a second thought.Purdy Bike

I’ll probably catch up with the highlights of the TdF through the sports section in the newspaper and will most likely be able to remember who wins for all of 30 seconds even though winning is a big deal. Not as big of a deal as Lance Armstrong winning seven, being a cancer survivor and all. I don’t even care that he doped since the probability is high that a lot of the TdF-ers did…and do. In fact, I actually feel bad for Lance having his titles stripped. Maybe not as bad as when they stripped Jim Thorpe of his but if they make a good enough movie about it, I’m sure I could get there. Although I should remember the winner just so I can maintain some sort of credibility as a cyclist even though it has absolutely no relevance to my own cycling. Now if they accompanied the TdF with banjo music…


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What a way to celebrate my birthday…

Wow. I never though of a night ride. Sounds like fun.

Cycling with heels

Not for the first time that night, I found myself questioning my sanity. It was the early hours of the morning following my birthday; unlike most normal people, I wasn’t dancing in a dodgy nightclub somewhere, or sleeping off an evening’s drinking. No, I was on my bike, in the depths of south London, taking part in the Nightrider – a 100km sponsored cycle ride around the streets of London, starting just before midnight and finishing sometime around breakfast time.

When I’d signed up to do the ride, back in January, it had seemed like a really good idea. Challenge myself! Raise money for the MS Society! Do something different for my birthday! But as the date got closer, doubts crept in. It wasn’t so much the distance that bothered me – I’d cycled almost as far before, although admittedly not recently – so much as the fact that…

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Two Tuesday Rides 11 Years and Miles Apart

On a gorgeous Tuesday, September 11 morning in 2001, I took off on my Canondale road bike and went for a ride just outside Nashville, TN. It was a crystal clear, sparkling diamond of day with the leaves on the trees beginning to turn. Humidity was low and, because it was early, it was relatively cool and crisp. The ride was exhilarating and I remember telling Ira upon my return home that, “I live for days like today.” The high stayed with me while we did a little grocery shopping. I don’t remember what else we had planned for the day, if anything because on the way home we heard on the radio that a plane had crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York. Even then, we both thought that it had to be a private plane and decided to check out CNN when we got home. Still exhilarated from my ride, I had no idea how quickly life would change. Exhilaration to devastation in the time it took to turn on the TV. It would take me years before I would give voice to my exaltation of a gorgeous Indian summer day.

 
This past September 11 morning, I once again took off for a ride on another gorgeous Indian summer morning. The bike was different and the weather although clear and sunny was downright chilly with temperatures only in the upper 40s. The ride was no less exhilarating, however. The leaves on the trees were just beginning to turn and the sun in our Pacific Northwest sky hung a little lower giving a softer glow to the morning. As I pedaled my way through the streets and trails, I couldn’t help but think of that other morning 11 years ago, how life and country had changed. Images that were burned into my memory back then ebbed and flowed—the horror of that day while dulled by the years not forgotten.
 
I took deep breaths of cool air, felt the quickly warming sun on my face and rode with a renewed sense of strength and energy. I returned home flush from exhilaration and was able to say without guilt or superstition, “I live for days like today!”
 


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Weird Week

This past week was just plain weird for me. It started off great with a 12-mile ride last Sunday. On Monday, I went for a hike with a couple of friends who are really used to hiking and it really kicked my butt. (You can read more about that on my weight loss blog by clicking here.) I think I’m still recovering from that.
Still sore from my hike, I drove my car to the gym on Wednesday for the first time since I bought my bike and was totally frustrated because I had to find a parking place. And frankly, it just felt odd to drive there. I had a pleasant but uneventful ride to the knit shop for my knitting group. But in keeping with my bizarro week, I arrived at 9:30 and though the shop is usually open at 9:00 the owner was running late and didn’t show up until close to 10:00 so I sat on a curb outside the shop playing Angry Birds on my iPhone.
I rode to the gym and back on Friday and had a double whammy on the way home. First a squirrel ran out suddenly from the bushes right underneath my bike, grazed the front tire and leapt into the bushes on the other side of the trail before I could even register what happened. I don’t think it was hurt and thankfully, I didn’t crash. I made it to the top of the hill near home and a very nice woman stopped her car to let me cross the street on Alabama. After checking for further traffic coming from the other side, I made it halfway across when a van came barreling down. Although I had loads of time and made it well across before he even came close, he decided to scream at me anyway. Angry drivers are part of the deal when you bike but I still found it disconcerting although not as much as the squirrel incident.
Saturday was the last day of warm weather for a while and I went for a rather respectable 5-mile walk despite a sore lower back that was probably the result of my cat sleeping on it during the previous night.
I look forward to this coming week, to cool weather riding, nice drivers, and squirrels that look before they leap.

 


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Twenty Miles in Two Days

In my quest to increase my weekly mileage, I pulled off two 10ers Monday and Tuesday. Monday’s was intentional. It was gym day and my round trip is about 8-1/2 miles so it was just a matter of going a few blocks further than my normal route. Tuesday’s 10-mile ride happened simply because it was a beautiful day. Temperatures were in the 60’s with a gentle breeze and the sky was sparkling blue. I rode down to the pharmacy and library and then rode out of my way to Whatcom Falls, perhaps the most photogenic spot in Bellingham. I wound my way along to the trail’s end and picked up a bike lane at Northshore Drive that parallels Lake Whatcom, backtracked a bit to my neighborhood, and then home. It was one of those days I felt that I could have biked forever…except that by the time I hit Northshore, I had to pee and the closest facility was home.

Today is another gorgeous day and another ride down to the gym. Then it’s a stop at Trader Joe’s for some pizza dough (the best) and chocolate, and a drop-in at Avenue Bread for some…well…bread. It’ll be close to another 10 by the time I get home, which will put me well within reach of hitting the 50-mile mark for the week. How sweet is that?


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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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Then the Sun Came Out

I hadn’t gone for a ride in three days for one reason and one reason and one reason only…rain. I’m no wimp. I don’t mind getting a little wet while riding through a gentle rain or mist, which is the predominant kind of rain we get here. But these last few days we’ve had the kind of driving rain that keeps all but the hardiest (or craziest) people inside. So yesterday morning with thick, gray clouds threatening another deluge, I threw caution to the wind, jumped on my bike, and ran some errands. As ominous as the clouds were, nary a raindrop fell. I was so energized to be on my bike once more that I came home via a beast of a hill to climb just to see if I could do it without dying or (almost as bad) walking my bike up the steep grade. I managed to both survive and stay in the saddle. My quads were a little cranky but they’re whiners anyway. Once home and inside, the sun came out. You win some and then sometimes you don’t but it’s all good!