Category Archives: Physical fitness

Where is the Sun, Dooby Dooby! Where Is the Sun, and I Say, We Miss You! Da Da Da Da Da Da


The last time it was nice enough for a decent bike ride was April 12th. I’m writing this two weeks later (April 27th) and publishing on May 1st (Hooray, hooray, the first of May…), and the forecast for this week calls for cloudy skies and rain just about every day.

Every.

Single.

Day.

I am sincerely hoping that I am publishing this AFTER the Highland Howie Thursday night bike ride with the BSBC (Bay Shore Bicycle Club) but I’m not optimistic, because it will probably be raining.

Given that, I thought I would post the pictures I took on April 12th, with a little story to boot. I follow a blog called The Travel Tales of Life, where my alter ego Sue (also married to a Dave – Great Sue’s think alike) posts tales of her many visits to other countries, often on the seat of her bicycle. A few weeks ago, she was in Scotland with her hubby, and while he was busy with work stuff, she asked the locals what she should go see while she was in Aberdeen. Being locals, their response was “Not much here to see” to which her response was “Rubbish!” (don’t you love saying “rubbish”?  It’s really an awesome word.  I must find a way to sneak it into my day-to-day conversations.)  And her blog is filled with photos of treasures she has found while traveling, that perhaps the locals take for granted.

So, my post is basically this: Traveling is wonderful if you have the time and the resources. But if you don’t, remember to seek out the beauty in your own back yard. You don’t have to go far to find it. Sometimes it’s the way a stark tree silhouettes the sky, or a fall blanket of leaves in a cemetery, or pelicans riding the thermals while the sun reflects the dazzling white of their feathers, or the single green shoot of a spring tulip.

When I ride my bike, that is what I love the most – chancing upon the treasures God leaves for me to find in the beauty of the earth. Even when the world seems like it has been gray for so very long, I know His laws of nature are furiously working in the background, just out of reach, and that soon the sun will shine and when it does, my eyes, my ears, my skin, and my heart, will feast on richness of His design.  (Was that not just one of the most smarmy paragraphs you have ever read?  But it’s true – and the hope of spring is about the only thing that is keeping me from pitching myself into my moat right now.)

Meanwhile, Dave and I walk the neighborhood and pick up trash left over by winter winds, constructions sites, and plow trucks. We pond-stalk the geese and blue teal ducks and hooded mergansers. We walk at twilight and hope to see the deer herd running along the ridge, and carry binoculars in case the eagles are out.

So enjoy my photos of the blue sky, the sun filtering thru the trees, and a bit of left over snow and ice, and take heart knowing that the snow is now gone and the ice has moved off the bay.  Spring progress is being made beneath all this grey. And when you see the sun shine again, you will have so much more to see.

See you in a week!

cottage1

cottage2These are photos (above) of my grandparent’s cottage. Well, it used to be theirs. It hasn’t been in the family for years, but all of us grandchildren have many memories of fishing on the dock with Grandma and the bamboo fishing poles; walking out to swim while navigating large seaweed covered rocks; the huge spiders that hung outside the windows and by the boat house that we begged Grandpa to kill; finding crayfish skeletons and dead alewife while walking the rocky beach; playing croquet on the lawn, and crazy eights at the big table inside, all while drinking bug juice and getting noogies from Uncle Jim. If I shut my eyes, I can hear the bang of the wood screen door, smell the damp cedar, and hear Grandma calling us from in the kitchen.

The following photos (below) are from Bayshore Park.

Best bike EVER.  Did I ever mention how much I love this bike?  Pedal and Paddle Performance - get yours!

Best bike EVER. Did I ever mention how much I love this bike? Pedal and Paddle Performance – get yours!

There are a few trails along the cliffs at Bayshore Park.  I found this one to the left of the main entrance.

bayshore4bayshore14

Walking down in clip shoes was probably not one of my brighter ideas.  Doing it while wearing prescription sunglasses without bifocals didn’t add to the brilliance of the decision.  I had the nasty sensation of the ground trying to float up to my eyeballs a few times before I got smart and just took them off.  I can see decent enough without them.

sunglasses

Speaking of these sunglasses – they cost me a fortune, but I had leftover money in my flex spending account and had to spend it on something before December 31st.  Well, when I stopped to take pictures at the cottage, I set the sunglasses on my bike bag.  I totally forgot to put them on when I left, and almost lost them along the side of the road.  Before that, they were lost in the move – I found them by chance in the glove box of my car.  Not sure why I put them there, because I bought them for biking so one would think I would have stored them with my bike stuff, which is where I spent the last four weeks looking for them.

bayshroe21

Such a pretty place to fall on my head.  Thank goodness for the rails.

bayshore20

So, I’m huffing and puffing up and down these steps, talking to myself and crashing thru the brush and twigs, when I spot some guy standing on the rocks just above these steps (He’s not in the photo.  That would have been rather stalker-ish to take his picture).  I felt like a complete idiot, because here was this guy, probably trying to get a little peace and quiet on a Sunday afternoon woodsy hike, while this buffoon in a blinding yellow jacket is stumbling about below him, carrying on a conversation with herself like a crazy person.  Then, I got a little nervous, because what if he was really a serial killer, just waiting for his next victim, and there I was, in non-bifocal sunglasses and clip shoes, a catch as easy as a B-movie actress in a mini skirt and high-heeled shoes?  As he ran in the other direction, I realized my crazy talk was too crazy for even a serial killer.  Chalk one up for menopause.

bayshore23

This greeted me at the top of those steps and around the corner.  No clue what it was made for.  Besides hiding bodies, I mean.  Anyone have any ideas?

Here are a few more shots of it.

bayshore12bayshore33

I love knarly old trees like this (above).

View from a rest stop on Nicolet. You can still see a little ice left on the bay.

nicolet1A shot of the fence at the rest stop.  Pretty sure these pillars are really old, and not just manufactured to look old.  No clue when they were built.  I suppose I could find out by going to the library.  I think I might have to do that.  Get a my research on, baby!

nicolet3

And finally – a picture of my Road ID.  This is to prove to Kay that I actually do wear it.  It’s yet another of those items I frequently misplace, and never have it when I need it.  For you runners and bikers out there – it’s a smart idea to have one, especially if you run or ride alone.  EMT’s don’t have to search you for vital information, and it saves time and could save your life, too.  Get yours here:  ROAD ID

roadID

 

PS- I was right – it was raining.  No ride tonight. 😦

 

 

Exploding Oatmeal and Other Hazards


quakerYesterday, my oatmeal exploded in the microwave at work.  I make oatmeal every day and I have to keep an eagle eye on it because Mr. Quaker Oats sometimes gets a bad attitude.  Well, there were other people in the lunch room hogging using the space in front of the microwaves to make their coffee, so I was trying to be courteous and give them some room.  Next thing I know, I see my oatmeal spilling over the top of my bowl.  I leapt forward and grabbed the door, almost bashing my co-worker Lois in the head as I yanked it open, and then stared sadly at the mess.

My first thought was not, “Ew- what a mess” or “Wow, I hope I didn’t kill Lois” but was, “Rats. Now I have less food to eat.”  My second thought was, “I wonder if I can salvage any of the stuff that spilled over” followed by my third thought of, “Gross, Sue.  You might eat a random M&M off the floor but you will not stoop to eating boiled over oatmeal off the bottom of the work microwave”.  For the record, I had to repeat this to myself twice, and thankfully Lois was still in the lunchroom or I may have succumbed to thought #2.  Haha!  Just kidding!  That would be so disgusting!  I would never do that!  (No, really, I might have.  Lois unknowingly saved me, even after I tried to kill her with the microwave door.)

I hate having my food routine disturbed.  It just leaves the door open for those irrational rationalizations, where my brain tries to justify eating 10 cookies to make up for the disruption.   “You poor dear!  You didn’t get a full 1/3 cup of oatmeal today.  Have a pan of brownies.”  I know what you are all thinking.  You are all thinking I should overcook my oatmeal everyday and replace it with cookies because oatmeal is like eating wall paste and good Lord if your going to eat something as bad for you as wall paste you might as well eat cookies.  And if I’m going to eat cookies, bring on the chocolate cake, because even Bill Cosby knows chocolate cake is full of nutrition!

Perhaps you are wondering if I grew up as a starving child in China (“There are starving children in China that go hungry every day!  Eat your wall paste!”) but no.  I grew up in a middle class home and never went to bed hungry – not even as a punishment.  My mom was a wizard in the kitchen and could make a pound of hamburger stretch for all 7 of us, including my Dad and my brother.  No, I’m just a food addict.  No meth or crack for this girl!  But whoa!  Is that a bakery?  I think I’ll stop in and mainline a chocolate donut.

Because I am a food addict, I need to have a strict food plan of no sugar or wheat, and I need to follow it.  I have fallen off the wagon these last three years, and really have no desire to get back on it, even though I know the sugar and flour just keep feeding the beast.  Before this, I went four years without it passing my lips.  I lost 80 pounds.  Gained confidence and moved up in my company.  Ran my first half marathon. Hit the upper 90’s in my health assessment at work.  Felt absolutely fantastic, physically and emotionally.  Except when I felt deprived – like at birthdays when others were celebrating with cake or at Christmas when I passed the cookie tray without taking one of my mom’s cut-outs (my favorite), or on vacation with the Daver or at Easter when I passed the rows and rows and ROWS of unbelievably delicious Robin Eggs and other confections (why do we celebrate religious holidays with so much chocolate?  A fattening mystery…).

So where am I now?  I am somewhere trying to find the balance.  I want to have my cake and eat it too (pun totally intended) but I don’t want to give up my health doing it.  I have gained back some weight, but not all.  I have held on to certain food habits – like lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins – and most certainly my exercise habits have stayed.  I don’t run as much – I would like to have fully functioning knees and hips when I am 80 – but I do bike, swim, inline skate, kayak, walk, hike, snowshoe, and hang out in the gym doing burpees and jump squats and dive bombers (oh my!).  Since regressing back to sugar, I have done another half marathon, ridden 2500 miles on my bike, taken another position in my company, and performed 10 billion burpees.  Yes, you heard me.  10. BILLION. BURPEES.

DrEvil

And you know what?  I think I’m okay with where I am.  Yes, I still struggle.  Yes, I still have food issues.  But at the end of the day, I would rather eat a celebratory piece of birthday cake on my dad’s 82nd birthday.  I would rather go out with the Daver and have pizza and a couple of beers while we talk and laugh about our week.  I would rather bike 100 miles with Kay, eating strawberry shortcake at the rest stops.  Or have dessert with the girls at the end of our night out.  Or eat a cannoli at Mike’s Pastry in Boston even if it means getting blisters because I am stupidly wearing brand new shoes.  Or eating Garrett’s cheesy popcorn while watching my niece run in the Chicago Marathon.  And you know why?  Because life is meant to be lived, and sometimes living involves eating delicious foods that have no nutritional value.

birthday-cake-hd-wallpaper

Some people are blessed with high metabolisms or the ability to eat a single brownie, but I am not one of them.  I am a big-boobed, 49-year-old woman, with stretch marks and jiggle, that loves a good laugh and cake with frosting and sprinkles.  But I just have to believe there is a balance and come hell or high water, I’m going to find it.  And when I do, I will share it with the world.  Meanwhile, I’ll be in the gym –  doing burpees.

What are your food downfalls?  How do you handle feeling food deprived?  Have you found balance in your own food plan and if so, what worked for you?  I love hearing from you and I love your feedback!  Please share in the comments below or on my FB page!

PS – I actually love oatmeal and seriously do eat it every day at work, with two – three hard-boiled eggs.  I like it best with almond milk and blueberries or apples and cinnamon.  Mmmmm!

Friend me here: FACEBOOK

Or here: TWITTER

Or here: INSTAGRAM

For additional reading on body image acceptance, check out these blogs:

August McLaughlin’s Blog

Katrina Anne Willis

Sue

Meet Joe


A few years ago, I met a young man named Joe.  Joe is one of my best friend’s nephews, and we went to a Toby Keith concert together.  Joe loves country, and Doreen (my friend) asked him to come with us seeing as we had an extra ticket.  She said to me, “I can’t wait for you to meet Joe.  He’s my hero.”  It was a fun night, but I didn’t fully understand her “hero” comment .  Then last spring, I had the opportunity to work with Joe on a project, and got to know him as a person, and not just as “Doreen’s nephew”.  It changed my life, and Joe is pretty much my hero now, too.

The next three blogs are about that experience.  Yesterday I was talking to my sister about how I tend to jump first, and ask questions later, and that when I buy in, it’s at a dead run.  At jump time, I usually don’t realize I am making a life changing decision.  Getting married, having kids, giving my life to Christ, changing jobs, signing up to run a half marathon… Doreen says it’s because I jump in heart first, not head first, and I think that is a pretty good description. My project with Joe was exactly one of those times.

On the outside it seemed pretty straight forward.  Joe and I were going to run the Bellin 10K together with a couple of his other friends for a really good cause.  Before I get into that, though, I want to tell you a bit about Joe.

Like many of us in Northeast Wisconsin, Joe lives in a home town community within minutes of family and friends. He has a mom, dad, step-dad, two sisters, a brother, and a whole slew of aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews-all of whom he loves and they, of course, love him right back.

Joe has a best friend yellow lab named Tyson and a best friend human being named Tyler.

Joe’s favorite food is wings, and he also won’t turn his nose up at Butterfingers, ice cream, pizza, and anything his Grandma Marge whips up (I have been blessed with sampling some of Grandma Marge’s culinary delights. God sure loved me that day!).

Like a lot of men, Joe has an unhealthy relationship with the remote control.  Did you know the average American spends 5 hours a day watching TV?  Joe spends his 5 hours with Judge Judy, Pat Sajak and the boys from the Nerd Show (The Big Bang Theory for those of you not in the “know”).  He is also a diehard WWE fan, catching WWE Raw every Monday and WWE Smackdown every Friday , and will shell out for the Pay Per View specials as well as documentaries.  (On a side note – it’s kind of fun to say the word “Smackdown”.  I’M GONNA PUT THE SMACKDOWN ON YOU, BRO!)

Seeing as Joe always has a smile on his face, it’s only fitting that his favorite types of movies are comedies.  He likes silly humor along the lines of Austin Powers, Dumb and Dumber, and Ace Ventura, but the Rush Hour series, The Hangover and Ted are his current top picks.

As I said in the beginning of my post, Joe is a country boy at heart.  Shuffle his iPod and you’ll get a mix of Toby Keith, Zac Brown Band, Bryan Adams, Brad Paisley, Sugarland, Dierks Bentley, Darryl Worley and even a little Bon Jovi for good measure.  Bon Jovi isn’t country, but hey – a little Bon Jovi on anyones iPod is a good thing, right?  Plus he’s cute.  Not that Joe cares.  Just sayin’ though…

When I asked Joe what his favorite books were, I figured he would be like a lot of guys, mostly reading internet articles or magazines.  But he surprised me by coming back with a couple of unexpected titles: Max Lucado’s Outlive Your Life and Nick Vujicic’s Life Without Limbs.

Joe loves to write, and has aspirations of becoming a journalist. He has written for his hometown newspaper, and feels his strength lies in freelance.

Joe has a couple of bad ass tattoos.  A ginormous one on his back, and a smaller one on his arm.

Joe would like to travel someday, and the first place on the list to visit is Italy.  He and his family talk about going often, but like most of us, his cash flow doesn’t have Italy in the budget.  Knowing Joe, he will get there someday, though.

Taken all together, Joe seems like an ordinary guy, living in an ordinary town, with an ordinary family.  Pretty much just like the rest of us.  So why am I focusing on Joe?  Why the ordinary?  I did so because I left out one important detail about Joe.  Joe has cerebral palsy.

Like many people with disabilities, Joe has lived his life in the shadow of what he can’t do and has fought hard for normalcy in his life.  It’s sad and frustrating to Joe that some people can’t see past the wheelchair to the person sitting in it.  He refuses to be victimized by his circumstances and strives daily to make the most of his life.  In fact, even the word “disabled” bugs Joe.  “I’m differently-abled, not disabled,” he told me.  Hey, Joe – me too!  The world shudders at the thought of Sue The Brain Surgeon.  God knew what he was doing when he put a pen in my hand, and not a scalpel, and He knew what He was doing when He created Joe, too.

That’s why it was important for me to spend this first post telling you how much Joe is just like the next guy.  I wanted you to see him as a living, breathing, feeling, thinking, loving, worthy, person – with friends, family, ambitions and desires, and not defined by the first impression you may have gotten if I had introduced him as a young man with cerebral palsy.

So what about this ordinary guy?  This “average Joe”?  What makes the ordinary extraordinary?  What is it about Joe that changed my life and reminded me to be true to myself?  Check back with me next week for the rest of the story!

Sue

LBCOT 2


As promised, here is the 2nd installment of bicycle safety (see the first post – Let’s Be Careful Out There).  And really, this list covers all types of physical activity – not just cycling.  I wasn’t too thrilled to write this post because I DON’T DO ANY OF THESE THINGS!  At least not consistently.  Any why?  For the same reason a lot of people don’t do them – because they require extra time and commitment in our already busy lives.

THE HARD STUFF

Yearly Physical:  Okay, I get it that most women do get yearlies, but usually only for the type involving stirrups (which don’t even have the decency to be attached to a horse. If I have to have my feet in stirrups, there better be a pony around somewhere).  How many of you get a full physical, including blood work and a mammogram or prostate check?  Does your doctor even know you exercise?  Have you specifically asked him/her to clear you for physical activity?  Yeah, me neither.  

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

CPR:  Also known as Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation.  Most of us have seen someone perform CPR on TV, so we all have an ‘idea’ of how it’s supposed to be done.  On the ride I mentioned in my first post, there was a nurse certified in CPR on the ride, and she saved a life that night.  Had she not been there, would anyone else have had enough knowledge from “seeing it on TV” to save that life?  Probably not.  I plan on taking CPR classes this winter.  Heck, what else is there to do in Wisconsin when it’s 40 below?  I’m kind of scared and nervous, though, because it feels like a big responsibility.  So if anyone else wants to do it with me, let me know!  It’s always easier to do something hard with a friend.  Or, maybe misery truly does love company.

Gratuitous photo of Hugh Jackman because it's my blog. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for People.com)

Gratuitous photo of Hugh Jackman because it’s my blog.
(Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for People.com)

First Aid:  Pretty much the same thing as CPR, but without all the scary parts.  Like, it would be way easier to learn how to apply pressure to a wound or squirt some Bactine on a knee scrape, than to do chest compressions and mouth to mouth.  Unless it was Johnny Depp or George Clooney, in which case mouth to mouth might not be THAT scary.  Still, should someone break a leg, step on a nail, wonk their head, or poke their eye out with the scissors you told them not to run with, you would be very glad you knew the basics of first aid.

Dug

Diet:  I think this is the hardest one.  We have access to and ingest so much crap, it’s unbelievable.  Donuts, bacon, ice cream, potato chips, cake, candy bars, french fries, quarter pounders, fried chicken, pizza.  Don’t like veggies?  Wrap them in bacon!  Pour cheese on them!  Add more bacon!  And if that’s not enough, let’s deep fry those suckers.  Oh, and these Twinkies need some doctoring up – chuck them in that deep fryer while you’re at it.  And add more bacon.  Our arteries would cry if anything could fit thru them anymore.  America does not understand “in moderation”.  Just take a look at the size of Texas  and our 15 trillion dollars of debt.  But I can make difference in my own little world, and eat more veggies, fruit, lean meats and whole grains.   And my body will thank me by continuing to function as the highly trained athletic body it is…  BAH HAHAHAHAHHAAA.  Okay, it will thank me by hopefully not collapsing during a burpee.

burpees

Rest:  As much as I love to work out (cough, cough), my body needs at least one or two rest days a week.  Lately, that hasn’t been an issue with the cooler weather and less available light after work for biking.  But sometimes in spring and summer, I forget that my body might just need a break, and skipping a day of intense exercise won’t cause my fat cells to throw a frat party.  It just means I will regenerate and heal, allowing me to become stronger.  Rest includes getting sufficient amounts of sleep, and for night owls like me, this is  a challenge of Goliath proportions.  Seriously.  If I start going to bed before 11 each night, check the skies for the horses of the apocalypse.  Which is exactly why God invented “naps”.  Getting enough rest also means I will be less prone to injury, less likely to nod off while riding my bike, thus pedaling over a cliff like a mindless lemming, and less addicted to the detrimental affects of low cash flow caused by excessive trips to Starbucks.

sleep

And that’s it!  Of course, I might have missed something, so if you think of anything to add, please comment below!  I love to hear from you and always welcome your opinions and ideas.

Tune in next week for my 3 part series on a special guest!  No, he’s not Superman, but darn close!

Best,
Sue

Let’s Be Careful Out There


Today I want to talk to you about safety.  Primarily biking safety, but some of these can be applied to other outdoor activities and just life in general.  I decided to write this after a person on one of our bike club rides (I was not present but heard about it later) had a heart attack.  They called an ambulance, but it took what seemed like an eternity to arrive, and in the meantime, the man quit breathing.  One of the riders was a nurse, thank God, and she performed CPR until the ambulance came.  He is thankfully okay, but he needed bypass surgery.

Now, it’s not that this person was being unsafe, but it made me start thinking about it because what if there had not been anyone on the ride who knew CPR?  And what if it had been a bike crash instead of a heart attack?  Or accident a car or truck?  According to bicyclinginfo.org, there were 677 bicyclist deaths and 38,000 bicycling related accidents in 2011.  These are just the reported cases, and actual figures are much higher.  Interestingly enough, 80% of those injured were male, so maybe the best advice I can give you is “Don’t be a man”….HA!  So what can we do to reduce the risk of becoming a statistic?

THE EASY STUFF

Helmet: WEAR ONE.  End of discussion.

Okay, not the end of the discussion (you knew it was too good to be true).  Seriously – God gave you ONE HEAD.  Notice he gave you two eyes, two arms, two legs, etc.  If He only gives you ONE of something, it might be a good idea to protect it.  So use your head, and wear your helmet.  Sure, you might look like a dork, but remember – Pride goeth before a fall – Proverbs 16:18.  See, it’s biblical.  WEAR. A. HELMET.

HELMETS!  (Francois Lenoir/Reuters)

HELMETS!
(Francois Lenoir/Reuters)

Mirror:  There are a lot of great gadgets to buy for your bike (trust me, I have most of them) and it can be difficult to decide which one is worth your hard-earned cash.  A rearview mirror costs about 20 bucks, and it could very well save your life, so it’s pretty easy to justify this investment.  Of course, for it to be effective, it means you need to actually use it.  Which brings me to my next item…

Cannondale

Look at all the crap on this bike. Notice especially the rearview mirror and the blinky light – two things I would keep over all the rest.

Pay Attention:  Look ahead and around you  for any possible issues like gravel, pot holes, or dogs.  Look behind you for cars and other riders (using your rearview mirror, of course!).  And if you ride with music, please consider unplugging, especially when riding on the road.  Remember the head God gave you – the one you have your helmet on?  Well, it’s full of sensory organs to help save your life and if one of them is getting blasted with music, then you can’t hear the impatient jerk in the truck behind you revving his engine, who will then scream past you, spitting out gravel, mud, beer cans, and language that would make a sailor blush.

road rage

Bicyclists vs Drivers – butting heads since the dawn of time.
Photo courtesy of eta.co.uk

Use A Blinky:  A “blinky”, not a “blanky”.  Although there are days I wish I still had a “blanky”.  Anyway, a “blinky” is a blinky light.  Usually clear or red, attached to your bike and/or helmet (currently residing ON YOUR HEAD) and has a variety of settings ranging from constant, to strobe, to chase, etc.  If you can only afford one, get a decent one for the back of your bike.  If you can afford more, then get a small one for your helmet and one for the front of your bike as well.

Be Seen:  Besides your blinky, you can add to your visibility by wearing bright clothing.  This is a no brainer for exhibitionists like me, but others may not be as comfortable wearing neon.  It helps if yellow is your favorite color.  Or you’re in a wedding party.  Or a middle-aged gang.  

Obey Traffic Laws:  It’s very tempting for cyclists to invent their own rules on the road, feeding the road rage fire between cyclists and motorists.   A small list of common infractions include blowing thru intersections, swerving around cars at a stop light, riding against traffic, crossing the road at a non-intersection, etc.  WE HAVE ALL DONE THESE THINGS!  And one day, it’s going to bite one of us in the ass.  As much as I would like a reduction in the size of my ass, I don’t think I want the surgery done by a motor vehicle.  

Road ID:There’s a great company out there called Road ID where you can purchase a wrist or ankle band that lists your pertinent info, ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts, and medical history.  It’s pretty cool, comes in fun colors, and it’s fairly inexpensive.  When an emergency occurs, others either won’t feel comfortable or won’t have time to dig thru your belongings for your health history and emergency contacts.  If it’s on your wrist or your ankle, the people who need it will find it.  I just got mine the other day, in fact!  And promptly forgot it on my bike ride tonight.  Geez Louise.

Road ID

Road ID. Get yours at http://www.roadid.com

Ride Together:  If you are riding with someone and something happens, there is someone to laugh at you and pull you out of the pickers.  Or maybe dial 911.  You know.  Whatever.  Besides, what are you – a hermit?  The most fun I have had riding has always been when riding with others.  

Let Others Know Your Route:  When your riding solo, be sure to leave knowledge of your route with someone else.  If you don’t show up for work the next day, someone at least knows where to start looking.  Scary to think about, but you need to think about it.  I usually ride one of three routes when I ride alone – I like them and they’re easy for Dave to remember.  There are also wonderful tools out there that allow you to map your rides and give them names.  You can simply tell someone “I am riding Route Q on MapMyRide” and give them access to your account.  Easy peasy.

That’s it for The Easy Stuff.  My next post will involve The Hard Stuff and I don’t mean moonshine, people.  I mean the stuff that needs extra time and commitment, and is often ignored because people just don’t want to do it.

Until next time – Let’s be careful out there!
Sue

Riding the Door, Less is More


As I sit down to type this, the air outside is a brisk 53 degrees, and it will be in the low forties by the time I walk out the door for work tomorrow.  Cooler air and shorter days herald the coming of fall, and I am feeling kinda bummed that I don’t have many more days of cycling left.  In fact, I had my last major bike event a couple of weeks ago riding in the  Door County Century.

Murphy Park Door County Century

Door County Century. First rest stop at Murphy Park. Gorgeous morning! Couldn’t ask for better weather.

The Door County Century celebrated its 35th anniversary this year, and is one of the most popular century rides in Wisconsin.  For good reason – they are well-organized, the routes wind thru some of the most beautiful countryside in Northeast Wisconsin, and the rest stops are well stocked with yummy delicious go-go fuel.  And you know me – it’s all about the food.

For those of you who are not crazy cyclists, a century is a 100 mile bike ride.  Most organized centuries are recreational and offer shorter routes in addition to the full 100 mile route.  This year, the DCC also had options of 28, 50, and 70.  Last year Kay and I did the full century.  It was really a lot of fun, but it was also very hilly and the final 30 miles were pretty tough.  “Pretty tough” meaning we were DYING and every time we saw another hill coming up we thought we were going to have a nervous breakdown.

Neither one of us felt like we had ridden enough this year to tackle those upper peninsula miles where the highest elevations await the unwary, so we opted for 70 this year.  Yes, we wimped out.  Totally.  But we are all good with that, because 70 was the Golden Ticket.

First of all, look at this map.  Check out those elevations between the yellow stars on the elevation map (in the boxed in area of the physical map) – all residing in the 100 mile route.  That’s a whole lotta pain right there.  A Polygon of Pain.

DCC1

Whereas the 70 mile route is all rainbows and unicorns, pretzels and cheese, donuts and muffins, pickles and cheesecurds…   The only thing we had to give up was strawberry shortcake at the Sister Bay rest stop.  That was almost a deal breaker until we realized we would actually finish this year before the beer ran out.  Although ironically, we didn’t even use our beer tickets, because we knew we had to drive home yet.  See?  I, too, can be a responsible adult.

Cave Point Door County Century

Cave Point Door County Century

I think my favorite part of this years ride was the Cave Point rest stop.  The sky was the bluest of blues and the grass was the greenest of greens.  Warm sun, a light breeze, the waves crashing below on the rocks, ham sandwiches…did I mention that I ride for food?  Kay and I stretched out in the sun for a while, but we were starting to feel a little nappish so figured we better get going.  It was truly hard to leave.

The next 15 miles roll thru lush forest and farm land, with enough variety to help wear off that ham sandwich and granola bar you just ate.  You can keep a fairly decent pace here, but oddly there is a rest stop only 6 miles from the finish.  You may be tempted to pass this one by, but you will miss cheesecurds and pickles if you do.  Oh yeah, there’s some lighthouse or something that’s supposed to have historical value or whatever.  Blah, blah, blah.  I never made it past the curd table.  And I know some of you are wondering about the pickles.  Like, why are there pickles at a rest stop, which is kind of what I thought too, but man – when your body is sodium deprived – that will be the best pickle you have ever eaten.

Wether you ride the 100, 70 or 50, the last 5 miles of this ride last an eternity, and you will really appreciate those cheese curds and pickles from that last stop.  It doesn’t help that there is one last beastly hill in the home stretch.  Seriously, who plans a route where they stick a giant hill in the last mile?  Kinda makes you want to smack someone with your water bottle, but then your turning the corner into the fair grounds and you can hear the music and smell the garlic bread, and you know there is a piece of Door County cherry pie with your name on it.  And beer.  Which you may or may not drink, depending on your responsibility ratio.  I know, you can’t all be me – such perfection is truly hard to maintain.  I struggle but I do it for you little people.

All kidding aside: If you enjoy organized rides, put the Door County Century on your bucket list.  It’s offering of beauty, challenge, camaraderie, and of course great food, make this ride worth your time and cash.  Hope to see you there next year!

IMG_1416

Drafting Behind God


Drafting: to ride close behind another bike so as to benefit from the reduction in air pressure created behind the bike ahead.

I learned the basics of drafting while cycling last year from my friend Kay. It was a true case of the blind leading the blind, but we got the gist of it. I am not sure what surprised me more – that it worked or that I did it without crashing into her because I was following about 4 inches from her back tire. Afterwards, I went home and read a few articles on it (thus making me an ‘expert’) and learned there is a long stretch of beneficial air flow, and in the future I could follow at a safer distance. Practice makes perfect, and now I can recognize that sweet spot behind a rider much quicker. I usually feel a little guilty (Catholic girl problems) because I am leeching off the person in front, even though I know my turn pulling is coming up.

A couple of weeks ago I rode in the Ganther Race the Lake around Lake Winnebago. This is a 90 mile race – not a ride. Normally I take part in ‘rides’ which are not timed and nobody is trying to win, so this had a much different feel to it. There were waves of riders tiered on speed, with the élite riders first and the slowest riders last. I signed up with Kay, who had done this race last year, and we lied a teensy bit about our normal ‘average’ pace to get in a faster wave because last year Kay found she was dodging slower riders and had a harder time finding people to draft with.

This was my first bike race and I was pretty nervous. During the weeks earlier I wasted a lot of energy worrying about finishing on time and trying to devise a plan of action to make sure I finished in the allotted 8.5 hours. Kay assured me we would have plenty of time and she was right. It was finally our turn and we set off at a brisk 20 mph pace in our pack of 100+ riders. I found it was surprisingly easy to keep up that speed with so many riders drafting together, and we rocked the first 45 miles in two and a half hours, including one rest stop. It was a huge, exhilarating, bike vortex that just sucked us along, leaving us grinning and confident at the mid point High Cliff rest stop. I felt so…professional.

Unfortunately, the second half had higher elevations (the first being High Cliff Park’s mammoth hill) and it started out with me losing my chain and falling over in my clips (totally embarrassing – so much for my pro career). Because of the hilly terrain, we lost our ‘pack’ and the miles were a lot slower and harder without the momentum of drafting. However, we finished with an overall time of 6 hours and 15 minutes, and I was pretty happy with that (even though they were out of beer by then), considering how worried I was that it was going to take me the entire eight and a half hours.

I posted this vision of loveliness right after we finished Race the Lake.  Obviously I was delusional.  Notice how my hair molded to the vents in my helmet.  Not my best look.

I posted this vision of loveliness on Facebook right after we finished Race the Lake. Obviously I was delusional. Notice how my hair molded to the vents in my helmet. Not my best look.

Drafting is a principle I wish I could apply more often in my spiritual life as well. If I could follow God more closely and let him pull me along, life would be a little easier I think. I could catch my breath, check out the scenery, grab a drink. Maybe even have a conversation with him that didn’t start with “Lord, I’m in a pickle…”

Most times I am off on my own route, going uphill against a 50 mph wind, and then it starts to rain and my chain falls off and I get a flat tire and tip over in my clips, all while a manure truck flies past spraying me with gravel and poop spores. Poop spores are the worst.

Thankfully, God always comes back for me. He’s my spiritual SAG wagon. He fixes my tire, puts my chain back on and shields me from the next inevitable poop wagon. I keep telling myself I am going to try harder to keep my line behind the Lord but trying is not the same as doing (“Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda). I’m like my dog Daisy – easily distracted by the squirrels around me and getting my undies in a bundle about the dog next door. I can’t stay mad at her though even if it’s 3am and she won’t get her barking butt back in the house, and I guess God can’t stay mad at me either. Maybe cuz I’m just so darn cute.

How can I stay mad a this face?

How can I stay mad a this face?