Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Just Because

I've been very quiet this past year, doing a lot of working and thinking. After a rough first few months of the year due to some non-serious but aggravating health issues, I got a late start on the bike in May, doing 3 to 5 milers every morning to get some kind of a base and worked my way into longer rides. Since then, I've accumulated mileage averaging anywhere between 80 to 120 miles a week, incorporating some hill work as well. Not bad for an old fat girl.

I don't know where this drive came from, nor do I want to know. All I do know is I get up in the morning and I MUST RIDE. That's it. I have my coffee and a banana and out I go. My pre-work miles are 10-15 milers and I do my long rides on the weekend.

I thought about taking rest days and figured I would rest when it rained. Only one morning has it rained since May, so far, so I have pretty much been riding almost everyday. I have to ride. The one time I did take that day off, I felt awful all day.

It rained one morning last week but I decided I had enough base miles in that I would try running instead, since I'm guessing I'll be doing a lot of that this winter, along with being on the trainer. To my utter shock, I was able to run (insert the word "jog" or "crawl" if you prefer) a complete mile (albeit a 15 minute mile) for the first time in over 12 years, I think.

I've lost 16 pounds and have gotten totally used to my clip-in pedals, to the point where I don't even think about where I'm going to land if I have to stop. I'm plodding forward and doing better than ever.

I can honestly say that in April, I was in the worst shape of my life and heavier than ever by about 5 lbs. Now I am in the best shape I've been in in years (which is not to say I am in great shape, but better) and a bit lighter.

This morning on my ride, I found myself asking myself why I feel driven to ride at this stage of my life. I decided not to question it.

A bike was my first source of independence, since growing up we didn't own a car. Riding a bike has been a part of my life for over half a century. It is a part of me.

So I ride...just because.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Andy Got Robbed

Ok, Contador didn't break any rules, per se, but still...

I knew when they interviewed Andy he would come out with what he did, saying that he would not have done that to Contador. But being the honorable competitor that Andy is, they rode together the rest of the tour with respect for each other.

Ok, at least Andy showed respect for Alberto. Watch out next year, Contador!

And Mike J., thanks for your support too!

On a side note, I was away helping a couple of non-cycling friends move last Thursday through the weekend. We had built int TdF / Versus breaks. By the end of my stay I overheard phone conversations to other non-cycling friends about how Andy got robbed.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Not A Bad Week

I got a few rides in this past week and ended up doing about 50 miles total. Coming from nothing, I'm pretty happy about that.

I'm also pretty happy about my boy, Andy! He can climb hills! He can time trial! He can sprint!...well, ok...one out of three isn't that bad...

This morning I got a late start. It was really hot. Therefore I have learned some math.

Linda + 102 degree heat=less than 15 mile rides.

I have learned from several sources that the thermometer on my computer is actually pretty accurate because it also reads the heat coming up from the road, giving the rider a "feels like" temperature. I am very glad to hear this. It means I am becoming more heat tolerant. There was a time last month when I couldn't have even thought about getting on the bike if it was 90 out, let alone a "feels like" temp of 102 degrees.

During a couple of rides these past couple of weeks I found a nice spot by a lake on my main riding loop where I take a break on a tree stump in the shade to collect my thoughts and bearings.

It's great to be back on the bike again. I feel like I have come home.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I Almost Got Hit By...a Boat?

Ahh...summer at the Jersey Shore. Gotta love tourists hauling boats.

I had stopped at a traffic light at an intersection near the marina, my right foot on the curb. A car pulled up on my left, hauling a boat about 20 feet long. It wasn't a very tall boat, just kind of wide. The driver saw me, I am absolutely sure, especially when the light changed and I waved him on. That gives me a hint that he was aware of me. However, I think that's all he was aware of.

He made a right in front of me while I waited. At the last second I saw that he had not taken a very wide turn as normal people do when hauling things like a boat, an RV or a trailer. Nope, this guy apparently totally forgot he had a boat. In the space of less than a second, I saw that the front of the boat was getting very wide and very close to my head. I dove down to the ground on my right and the boat just barely missed me. He drove on, totally oblivious to what had happened while other drivers were watching, shaking their heads in disbelief at his stupidity.

I got up, dusted myself off and had a nice 15 mile ride, with my head still attached.

I think Walmart rents brains for people who seem to have misplaced them, don't they?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I Think I'm Officially Back

I managed to ride 77.5 miles last week. I wanted to ride on Friday to round it off to 80 but I knew my body really, really needed a rest day. Going from total desk potato to cyclist in one week was tough.

Friday morning I looked at my bike. I ran my hands over the tires and the tope tube. I held the handlebars. I realized I wanted to ride but was doing the right thing by taking the day off from riding. This was a great revelation since I thought I'd be happy to not be riding. My soul wanted to get on that bike. That's when I knew I had offically returned.

This morning I slept in late and got on the road around 10AM. My legs felt great. There was no soreness at all. During my little 10 mile jaunt this morning, I found myself flying over roads that just a few days earlier, I had struggled to push through. Granted, it was overcast this morning and somewhat cooler than the previous days of my riding this past week, but I still think I felt stronger.

At one point I realized I actually had to go into the large chainring so I didn't spin my brains out. I hit a long, flat stretch and suddenly, I was 25 years old again, crouched down on the bars doing 17 miles an hour for several miles. I was ecstatic.

I gunned it all the way home and felt great. I needed no recovery time whatsoever. This is the best ride I've had in ages.

Yes, I believe I have returned.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Since last Saturday I've been totally committed to this new routine of mine. On Sunday I pulled off a 25 miler in 100 degree heat. I was toast but I did it.

Monday, since I was off, I decided to do a short ride because I wanted to give my body time to recover from the shock of actually doing something besides sitting at a desk. Instead I did another 15 miler.

Tuesday and today, I set my clock for 5 AM and was out the door, doing a 7 mile loop near my house. The temps have been around 100 so the early morning rides take care of 2 things at once; I don't procrastinate and I can always ride in 80 degree weather.

I think I put more miles on my bike this week than I have in years and it's not even a full week yet.

The problem now is staying motivated. I know I have the attention span of a gnat. I get bored easily. I found if I ride with an iPod at very low volume and only have the bud in my right ear, I don't hear myself breathing which tricks me into thinking I'm not that tired if I can't hear myself breathe. Shhh...don't tell my brain that.

I'm trying to do anything I can to keep this going. My boss even has me posting my bike computer's mileage for the day on her Facebook page. I told her that actually, I could cheat and just watch TV and spin the front wheel for 45 minutes and get the same result since there is no day and date reading on it. Of course, I wouldn't do that but I'm really trying to stay motivated this time.

The stupid thing is I love being on the bike. It's in my blood. I think once I get past this first month and feel stronger, it won't be as difficult to keep going.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Thanks, Buddy

Somewhere along the line the last 6 months or so, I seem to have changed. I became someone I struggled to recognize. Nothing horrible or life threatening happened; I just shifted somewhere. I trudged along but I stopped doing all the things I love to do, except fishing.

Everyday I walk by my bike about 8-10 times. It is parked in my hallway, patiently waiting, like a horse who just wants to run. I always think, yeah, I have to get back on the bike. But then the excuses pile up and the bike goes to the bottom of the to do list.

But the last 3 weeks, I have heard switches flipping in my brain. I have started seeing things differently. Maybe it had to do with hooking up with some old high school friends on Facebook. Maybe it has to do with hearing some old James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Carole King music that has tapped me on the shoulder and has said, hey, come back. Remember who you were? You were an athlete. You ran, you biked, you water skied, you played tennis, you swam. But most of all, you were a bike racer. You may not have been the best, but by self definition, you were a cyclist. You are a cyclist.

On Thursday morning I walked by the bike on my way out the door as usual. I stopped in my tracks and stared at this beautiful machine that is begging me to get out there with it. While looking at it, I knew that something was going to change. Another switch flipped.

I was on the phone with my best friend Barbara last night and told her I was definitely riding today. I tried to explain to her how I knew I had to get on the bike today. I tried to explain that this machine is an extension of me. I tried to make her understand how, when you’re a cyclist, how the bike seems to have its own voice and persona. It’s like an appendage that you stop using when you stop riding. I don’t know if I made much sense to her, but I know for sure any one of you who follow my blog know exactly what I am saying.

My friend knows I have been in some kind of inner struggle lately and encouraged me, as she always does, to go for it and take that first step. Every so often she asks if I’m going to get on the bike on the weekend; never pushing, just gently asking. Somehow she knows that "being on the bike" is just different for me. She just knows. That’s what friends figure out.

But yesterday, I finally knew it was time. I don’t know why, but I knew. So when I went to sleep last night, there was no doubt that I was riding early today to try to beat the heat, since I am so out of shape and the heat seems to just kill me.

This morning I dusted the dog hair off the wheels, pumped up the tires, and pushed out the door. Usually when I start up again, I do short 5 mile rides. But since I have a 3 day weekend, I decided to ride 7-8 miles out and then come back, making it a 15 mile ride. There was no doubt I would finish it; I just wasn’t sure what condition I would be in when I got home.

The heat was hard for me. The course has 2 hills that made it tougher. I was out of breath the whole ride. I averaged 10 MPH, which was pathetic. My arms were fine, my legs were fine. It was my aerobic capacity that killed me. I am so out of shape that a ride that usually takes me 15 minutes to recover from took me 45 minutes.

But I started. I set a goal and completed it. I plan to ride another 15 miler tomorrow. I will leave the house earlier as it is supposed to be hotter tomorrow. But I will finish again tomorrow. And again on Monday.

While I was running some errands a couple of hours ago, Barbara called me to see how the heat was affecting me today to make sure I was ok. I told her I did 15 miles. The excitement in her voice was incredible. She sounded like the people who cheer you on during a race or a long organized ride. While on the phone, she was trying to visualize how far 15 miles was and she said it’s 10 miles from her house to the George Washington Bridge, and I rode farther than that. When I think about that in her terms, from a non-cyclist’s point of view, it does seem really far. But you and I know it isn’t; it’s just a short ride.

It’s just a beginning. She asked me how I felt after finally getting back in the saddle and I tried to put it into words. How can you explain what that frame, those wheels and those bars and the wind do to you? We finally agreed that I accomplished something.

My goal, after this weekend, is to get up during the week at 5AM so I can get on the road by 6 AM or so. I’ll ride for an hour or so just about everyday and eventually, I’ll get it back.

I could be wrong but I thought I caught my Dolce smiling today.