Tag Archives: biking

That Escalated Quickly


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Cartoon from the great Dan Piraro, as shared on FaceBook.  http://bizarro.com

Anyone else notice how we went from dead of winter to Holy-Crap-I-Just-Saw-A-Robin in less than a week? I think I even saw a rare white headed snow bird, although they usually don’t drive fly home north until April.

I was out walking the dogs a few days ago (because I’m ALWAYS walking the dogs. When I die, my tombstone will say “She really walked those dogs a lot.”) and saw my first sandhill cranes of the season fly overhead. Although I am one of those weird winter lovers, I have to admit I grinned from ear to ear when I heard them. You don’t realize how long winter is until you hear your first sandhill crane, I guess.

Saturday, the sun shone and it was 62 degrees. In Wisconsin, that’s shorts and flip flops weather. And bike riding weather. And therefore, also leg shaving weather.

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I hauled my bike up from storage, threw some air in the tires, and dug out my fancy pants bike shorts. And then I took a gander at 6 months of forest growth and had to make a decision. Was it worse to scare the neighbors with sasquatch legs or to blind them with freshly-shaven, sun-deprived, neon white legs?

You’ve heard the term “Tan fat is better than pale fat” right? Well, pale fat is better than sasquatch legs. I hunted down the pruning shears and got to work. I wanted my winter white legs to look their best in my brand spankin’ new bike shorts.

I bought my new bike shorts off the internet. With justified trepidation I might add. Cycling clothes are sketchy enough to buy even when you can try them on, seeing as they seem to be made for toddlers and anorexically thin, middle-aged men. These shorts had rave reviews on Amazon, and everyone said they fit great and the sizing chart seemed legit, so I threw the dice.

I LOVE THEM. They have mesh pockets on the side for easy storage of maps, gloves, gel packs, phones – whatever us crazy bikers can think of to stick in there. I don’t usually wear the typical bike jerseys that have the pockets in the back (see above – toddlers and skinny middle-aged men do not have BUS’s (Breasts of Unusual Size)) so this is a great idea for me. I am totally geeked out about them. Plus the price was right and they actually fit without me feeling like a stuffed sausage.

And guess what? I also bought an over the shoulder doggie holder. That’s not what it’s really called, but it should be called that because I just made that up and that’s an excellent play on words.

Okay, I didn’t really make it up – I sort of stole it from the old “over the shoulder boulder holder” joke (that’s a bra for those of you who were sheltered as a child) but you have to admit, it gives a clear and concise picture in your head and is much easier to understand than the SEO title it has on Amazon. The “i’Pet® Hands-free Reversible Small Dog Cat Sling Carrier Bag Travel Tote Soft Comfortable Puppy Kitty Rabbit Double-sided Pouch Shoulder Carry Tote Handbag”.

What?

Exactly. So I tried that out today, too. One thing about spring in Wisconsin – it gets deceptively warm for about two weeks and all the birds come back and start partying, and then it snows, rains, and freezes for a month (and the birds fall for it EVERY TIME. You would think they would learn) so you have to spend as much time in the sun as you can before it disappears again.

See below – don’t I look like Paris Hilton? I could be her twin, right?

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For the record, I’m not really the froo-froo girlie girl walking around with her poochy-woochy-kins type. But Lucky dog has a bad feet so long walks leave him limping with bloody toes. And when I leave him home, he howls – which is equally detrimental to his health because everyone wants to kill him then. This carrier worked perfectly, and will make for an awesome summer of dog walking.

Okay – I’ve rambled on for far too long, so those of you still reading – go have some cake.   You totally deserve it.

Sue

PS.  If you want to check out the shorts, you can do so here: Aero Tech Designs  I’m pleased enough that I will probably buy a second pair.  If you are interested in the doggie carrier, you can check that out here:  Over The Shoulder Doggie Holder

PPS.  On my bike ride on Saturday, I stopped to check out Wequiock Falls.  There was a guy there playing one of those wooden flutes you see advertised on cable or at art shows.  He played under the bridge, so when you stood on the observation deck, you could only hear him, not see him.  It was surreal but cool.  Just had to share.

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Biker Babe – Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge


I love my bike.  And biking.  Participating in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Bikes and Motorcycles literally has me drooling in anticipation.

I had to go thru all my old photos because my bike is in hibernation – 10 degrees just isn’t going to cut it – and looking at all that sunshine and blue sky has me aching for spring and the satisfying sound of clipping into my pedals before a long summer ride.

Oh to have tan lines and a bottle of gatorade waiting in the fridge!

I guess I will just have to be satisfied with these photos for a few more weeks!

Ponies resting in the sun.  Mackinac Island, Sept. 2014

Ponies resting in the sun. Mackinac Island, Sept. 2014

My baby on a chilly fall day.

My baby on a chilly fall day.

Cruising the countryside with my homies.

Cruising the countryside with my homies.  Somehow I didn’t fall off my bike when I took this…

I see a theme here....

I see a theme here….

Well, I’m off to walk Daisy – it’s too cold for Lucky dog, poor guy.  I guess he’ll just have to sit home and suffer while he lays in his sun spot… 🙂

Bikingly yours,
Sue

Modge Podge Night


Welcome to Modge Podge Night. Which translated means I have a whole bunch of pictures to share with you and a few odds and ends of observation, mostly because I can’t get my head out of my butt this week to write what I really want to.

My weeks just keep getting away from me. I always feel like I have time, but it turns out I never do. I’m beginning to question my commitment to writing. Other writers learn to be disciplined and write come hell or high water, and I’m off in the corner taking sunset pictures and playing with my dogs. Or riding my bike. Or reading a book. Or talking someone off a ledge. Or having someone talk me off a ledge.

Maybe I just have too much to do. Too much I want to do. Too overwhelmed with the rest of the things I supposedly HAVE to do. And frankly, I have no idea how to navigate the waters of becoming a published writer, and the energy needed to learn will take me away from my sunsets and reading and biking.

But I feel like a big, fat loser about it sometimes. Like I’m letting my opportunity slip away, and that every blog post should be filled with paragraphs of poetic prose, dripping from the page like the nectar of the gods, to be lapped up and adored by my minions. I mean, fans.

And actually, I have a little bit of an idea on how to get published. It’s called writing. So I keep doggedly at it, sometimes coming up with a gem and sometimes a dud, but just like running a slow 5k – I’m faster than the guy on the couch.

See? Look – I just talked myself off my own ledge.

On that note – here are my last couple of weeks, in pictures.

Lookin' good, Home Girls!  2014 Night of Triumph

Lookin’ good, Home Girls! 2014 Night of Triumph

Instead of running the Bellin this year, I participated in My Team Triumph’s Night of Triumph the night before, with my friends Dawn, Debbie and Doreen.  This is a mile long run/walk/bike event for differently abled persons.  My friend Joe participated, and his aunt Doo-Doo (Doreen) walked him across the finish line.

What Love Looks Like

What Love Looks Like

We had a surprise visitor on Father’s Day.  Richard the Digger guy, who came to destroy the dirt pile out back.  Probably an odd day to pick, but we weren’t about to turn him away.  As it was, he only got it “mostly” graded before the weather took over.  We are anxiously waiting for him to return and finish the job.  Keeping our fingers crossed it won’t be the Labor Day.

Finally getting the yard graded.  Good bye giant pile of dirt!

Finally getting the yard graded. Good bye giant pile of dirt!

After

After

I think the day before that, we did the Ride for Nature in Door County.  Meg was going to do 25 and Kay and I were going to do 50.  Somehow, we sweet talked Meg, and we all did 42.  Beautiful, well-spent day.

Meg, Kay and yours truly.  Ride for Nature, 2014

Meg, Kay and yours truly. Ride for Nature, 2014

In our daily walks with our freaky four-legged hairy toddlers, we usually have at least one walk on the trail that goes around the neighborhood.  Last Sunday, we ran across this mama snapper trying to lay her eggs in peace.  I remember being surrounded by interns, nurses and doctors during my first birthing experience.  Why should a turtle have it any different?  So I rudely snapped a picture or two while she grumbled about never letting me touch her again.

Back away from the camera, woman!

Back away from the camera, woman!

What part of "Back Away From The Turtle" don't you understand?

What part of “Back Away From The Turtle” don’t you understand?

My last bike ride had me frequently jumping off my seat to snap wild flower pictures.  They turned out pretty cool if I do say so myself.

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This next picture is from Red River County Park.  I liked how the section of tree is falling into the river.

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8262 miles to New Zealand.  I'm going to need another bottle of gatorade.

8262 miles to New Zealand. I’m going to need another bottle of gatorade.

After I got home, my husband snagged me into helping him with mowing and weed whacking down by the pond.  I was a virgin weed whacker up to this point, and it took me a while to get the hang of it.  Now I’m an expert weed whacking hoe (pun intended).

Weed whacking in spandex.  Kinky or just weird?  You decide.

Weed whacking in spandex. Kinky or just weird? You decide.

After the whack job.

After the whack job.

Besides the ten billion gnats, mosquitoes, and bay flies, we also have fire flies!  That pretty much makes up for my bug bite covered limbs.  We also have ten billion baby toads running around (this is only a slight exaggeration).  They are fast little buggers and it was hard to get a picture of one, but I managed it.  He’s in the pic below the fire fly – see if you can find him!

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Find the toad!

Find the toad!

And to end – a few more sunset pictures.  Because, well, sunsets.  You know?

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And finally, a picture of Duke, because, like sunsets, the world just can’t get enough.  Well, maybe the world can, but apparently I can’t.

Dookie Guuuuurrrrl!

Dookie Guuuuurrrrl!

See ya –

Sue

Don’t Fence Me In


Tonight I tried to take my cat for a walk.  We had limited success.  He was pretty happy until I wouldn’t let him sit in the weeds all night.  Then we had a bit of a tiff, which I won after several minutes of coaxing, pulling, cajoling, and hissing (him, not me).

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You might be wondering (most normal people would) why I was walking my cat, and the best explanation I can come up with is that we were both bored and we both wanted to be outside, even though I am currently covered in bug bites and smell like chemicals.  But that’s the point of tonight’s blog – I would rather swat mosquitoes and beer bugs than sit safely indoors.  For me, that’s the point of summer – to get outside and explore the world.  That would be Midnight’s point too, but he is not allowed unsupervised outdoor visits due to neighborhood garden pooping and baby bunny decapitating.

Do you think she can see me?  I don't think she can see me.

Do you think she can see me? I don’t think she can see me.

I have had several outings since my last photo blog.  I even took a break from sunsets to switch to wild flowers and waterfalls for a bit.  My traipsing around snapping photos has earned me 280 miles on my Cannondale and around 30 on my Townie – not a bad start, although I would like to finish up the season at 2000 overall.  We will see how ambitious I get, and who wins my weekends – the bike or the beach.  Of course, if I bought a Burley, I could throw my cooler and lawn chair in it, and bike TO the beach…hmmmmm…

My first pictures are not outdoor explorations.  My friend, Joe, the captain of our mTT (My Team Triumph) Bellin Team from last year came to my day job to rally the troops about mTT and tell his story (always worth repeating – you can read it here).  Any day I get to see Joe is a good day, and it’s wonderful to see him spreading his wings as the race ambassador for mTT.  If you are looking for an organization to add meaning and heart to your running, check them out and sign up to be an angel.  Life changing, I’m tellin’ ya.  DO.  IT.

Left Picture: From Left to Right - Grandma Marge, Mom Dee, Aunt Do-Do, Joe, Christian Jensen (Wisconsin mTT Director) and me. Right Picture:  Joe, myself and Christian.

Left Picture: From Left to Right – Joe’s Grandma Marge, Mom Dee, Aunt Do-Do (Doreen – my bestie so I get to make fun of her), Joe, Christian Jensen (Wisconsin mTT Director) and me.
Right Picture: Joe, myself and Christian.

My first excursion took me on a 25 mile circuit thru my ancestors old stomping grounds.  I purposely mapped my ride to run the entire length of Conard Road, because the dork in me found it exceedingly cool to ride down a road named after my ancestors, even if it’s just an old farm road.  It was also cool to find an ancestral  headstone in the local cemetery, although it seems to be one stone marking the very short lives of three children.  Two of them died within a couple of months of each other (April 1882 and May 1882 – if I am reading the stone correctly.  It’s a little worn so hard to tell), so now wondering if there was a local illness that year, and if so, what?  May have to have a little discussion with my dad on that one.

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As my ride continued, I noticed storm clouds in the distance, so had to hoof it a little, but I did take time to stop on Mary Road to grab some pictures of blooming wild flowers, including our beautiful state flower, the trillium.  I think the small yellow ones are marsh marigolds – notice how they are thriving right next to an old plastic bottle.  Gotta love man’s mark on this earth, and nature’s ability to thumb its nose back at us.  Does anyone know what the single yellow flower is?  Wild or accidental cultivation?

wildflowers

Incidentally, my mother tells me it is not illegal to pick trilliums – just illegal to dig them up and transplant them.  I’m not sure if she investigated this or if she is just covering her tracks from all her illegal trillium picking.  She’s a little shady, that one.

My next ride took me to Red River County Park, so named because of the color of the river that runs thru it, feeding into the Bay.  I’m not sure what causes it – it looks like iron to me, but my dad thought it might be from the clay in the earth or from the bark of local trees.  I tried to find something on the internet but Google failed me, so a trip to the library is in order.  I supposed I could randomly ask a local too, although the “weirdo factor” kicks in when sweaty strangers in spandex start asking questions.

Red River County Park, Wisconsin

Red River County Park, Wisconsin

Notice the shells?  When I first visited this park with my Grandma Conard way back in the day, this was all sand.  I swam in the river with a bunch of other kids – I was a little freaked out by the water, which is probably why I remember it so well.  The shells are from an invasive species called the zebra mussel.  These little buggers have taken over the Bay and many other local waters, and are causing ecological issues such as avian poisoning and smothering native clams and mussels due to the sheer number of them. My intention is not to start a dissertation as to why the zebra mussels are tiny evil crustaceans, especially seeing as we have so many other ecological issues going on that zebra mussels seem like they would be pretty far down the “should we be alarmed” list.

This picture shows two sides of the same tree at Red River, taken on the same day at the same time.  What a difference a little perspective makes.  Kinda like life.

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My next adventure involved a hike in the woods.  There is a bird preserve that has a trail used by birders and forestry students at the local college.  Dave and I heard about it thru his cousin Jeremy, and ventured down it a short bit back in April.  It was too wet then to continue, but I knew I wanted to come back and explore it.  Given the current bug population, Dave declined my invitation.  Apparently he is rather attached to his blood.

It was still a little wet – in fact it reminded me of some southern bayou.  It occurred to me that it would make a great place to hide a body and I started nervously looking around for the serial killer.  And giant hair Shelob spiders.  And bloody-muzzled slavering dire wolves.  Right about this time I scared up a deer and nearly wet my pants.  The beauty below is not imaginary, though.

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Memorial weekend Dave and I visited Wequiock Falls, and then Matt and I returned this past Monday night.  The difference in foliage in a week is phenomenal, but so is the water volume.  Monday’s photos were taken after 2 days of heavy rain – the current was crazy.

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This is just a pretty shot of the falls from when Dave and I went over Memorial.

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Saturday was spent lounging on the beach at Bayshore, which is primarily crushed zebra mussel shells and rock, but enjoyable anyway.  When I got too hot and was tired of dozing in the sun (although honestly, who ever gets tired of dozing in the sun?), I stone hopped along the larger shoreline rocks, occasionally dipping my feet in the Bay to cool off.  Notice the “peace” rock.

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The rest of these are more sunset pictures – some taken at Bayshore and some at the local boat landing.  I also experimented with the panorama function on my iPhone for the first time.  Turned out pretty cool, I think.  I also really like how the dock and the rocks have a pink hue from the setting sun, and how the one sunset has a cloud that looks like a giant space ship.  Oh, and a random flower picture thrown in for good measure.

I did enhance a few of these – the camera never seems to capture the vibrant colors as well as my eyeballs.  Hopefully I didn’t over do it!

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Stay adventurous my friends!

Until next week,

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.  

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

Workout Wednesday


It’s been a while since my last post.  I have been crazy busy at work and had a lot of extra things going on, so I got out of the habit of taking time to write because I didn’t have any (time, that is)!  Things have slowed down somewhat, and now I do have more time, but it’s been a struggle to get back to it.  I’m actually a little bored tonight – good medicine to drive me back to my computer.

I would like to get into more regular writing, so am going to experiment with posting on specific days – namely Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.  Wednesday’s will be for workouts.  I hesitate to call it Workout Wednesdays because it sounds hokey, but I’m kinda hokey anyway so what the heck.  Sunday will be a ‘whatever is on my mind’ type of thing.  Fridays.  What to do with Friday.  I usually grocery shop on Friday.  Maybe I could do a food post.  Or an inspirational post.  Or a recap of my week.  I’ll have to think on that for a bit.

For my first “Workout Wednesday”, I want to talk about an exercise program I have been doing with some friends at work.  I’m not sure it’s even really a ‘program’ per se.  One of the girls found out about these videos and began doing them and then shared them with the rest of us.  They are called Zwow – which stands for Zuzka’s Workout of the Week, followed by a number (she is up to 63 now I think).  She has a website:  http://zuzkalight.com, but I subscribed to her YouTube channel and find her videos there because it’s easier for me to search.

Zuzka’s videos are classified as “power cardio”, and she uses a lot of body weight exercises.  Once in a while she will use dumbbells or kettle balls.  Maybe a bosu ball or a chair thrown in for good measure.  I can’t do all of her exercises at her speed nor level, so will sometimes modify them (such as taking more rest time or doing a regular lunge instead of a jumping lunge, etc).  They are challenging and I sweat like crazy, but boy have they helped jump start my metabolism.  If I review one of her videos, I will always try to include ways to modify the exercises so that if you are a beginner, you don’t get discouraged.  Or die.  I joke about the dying part.  Sort of.

Word of warning: This girl is very fit.  VERY.  And midway thru her video (she does them in real time, so you see real sweat and effort), if you see her struggling or getting tired, you know you will be in for it.  Don’t give up though!  The results are worth it.

That’s all I have for today – I hear Duck Dynasty calling!

Sue

PS – I have my bike all tuned up and ready to roll.  Can’t wait for some warm days to start getting some mileage in!

Black Friday


Black Friday

Well, at least they are running…

Oh yes, I just shamelessly used the words “Black Friday” in my title, knowing it might give my blog a few more hits.  But for those of us trying to maintain a healthy weight, the day after Thanksgiving can indeed feel like Black Friday, should one be so stupid as to step on the scale.  Therefore, instead of being out shopping with the Crazies, I am at home, drinking coffee and writing an exercise entry in my blog.

coffee

Oh yes. This is exactly what I look like drinking coffee. Uh huh.

If you are like me, you know the holiday season can wreak havoc on the best laid plans of healthy eating and exercise.  In the long, dark days of winter, it’s very easy to choose sleep over an early wake up call to the gym, or to just go home after a late day at work, and watch the Big Bang Theory while eating your dinner instead of bundling up for a walk or run in the dark.  So, now is the time I encourage you to add some spice to your normal routine.  Boredom is the number one killer of exercise programs!

Bears

“You can’t make me go to the gym! You can’t make me, you can’t make me, you can’t make me!”

The first thing I did this year was to join the Y.  I haven’t belonged to a gym in over 3 years, choosing instead to utilize the gym we have at work with my co-worker workout buddies.  Very cheap (free) and it’s always more motivating to know someone else is depending on you to be there.  But lately, we find more and more excuses not to go.  It seems like such a chore – depressing even – and if one person backs out, it sucks the motivation from the rest of us.

Joining the Y has brought some spice back into my workout plans.  I can join a spin class, hit the pool, jiggle my love handles in Zumba, or run on the indoor track (so thankful I won’t have to think about running across ice patches this year).  It was just enough to bump my brain out of hibernation mode.  If you already belong to a gym, but are bored and find yourself not going, try creating an at home program.   Or find ways to exercise outside – like snowshoeing or cross country skiing if you have snow, or biking, running and/or walking if you don’t (be sure to read some articles on cold weather exercise.  There is a good one here:  ACTIVE.COM).  Or join a new gym – maybe one that offers some things you don’t have at your current gym.

Zumba

Totally.

The next thing I did was purchase an Ipad, which led me to justify said purchase by figuring out how to use it for reasons other than playing Spider Solitaire or Siege Hero.  I started looking for good workout apps, and found a few worth mentioning:  Daily Workouts, IPersonalTrainer, and Workout Trainer.  I’m not going to review them today, but brought them up because it was in my search for workout apps that I ran across a video called Plank Workout for Flat Abs and Toned Arms, led by a cute, perky girl who made doing a plank look oh-so-easy, even while adding in weights and arm movements.

blogilates

Even perky while planking!

Further investigation brought me to more videos and then her website –Blogilates.com.  Oh my goodness – so much more perkiness (really, I am 48 years old – not much of me is too perky anymore) and sweating.  Seems an odd combination, but this girl has some killer moves.  Her name is Cassey Ho, and despite her everlasting good mood, or maybe because of it, I absolutely love her workouts.  They challenge my strength, they teach new moves to this old dog, and they make me sweat like a pig.  (Hmm…maybe that last bit wasn’t very appealing…).

Plus, she makes new videos all the time!  And she has a clothing line!  And she has a monthly workout calendar.  And she has recipes.  And meal plans.  And inspirational stories.  And icing on the cake –  she is FREE (although you do have to subscribe to her newsletter for access to some things, like the workout calendar).

Her videos are about 10-15 minutes long, so perfect for those days you need something quick.  Or you can do two or three in a row, or you can do what I did.  I went thru a few of her videos, pulled out the exercises I wanted to try, and created an hour long workout routine that we did in the gym at work.  Holy sweat balls of fire.

And my last bit of advice – sign up for an event that will make you start training.  It doesn’t have to be grandiose (but it can be, if you want) – maybe as simple as just wanting to get personal best, or try something new.  Need some inspiration?  There are a lot of charity events and Team In Trainingorganizations (like My Team Triumph or the Leukemia Lymphoma Society Team in Training) you can work with to add some meaning to your training.  I have found I train better knowing I am running for someone who can’t run for themselves.  It adds a spiritual level to my workouts, and reminds me to be grateful and humble.

And that my friends, is that.  For now…

Sue