Once people know you are setting out to ride across the country, the first thing they ask when they see you is “Did you ride here?” If you know me, you probably would be able to tell right away whether or not I had ridden someplace. I usually wear an appropriate cycling kit. I haven’t always done that. And I haven’t always referred to my riding apparel as a kit. I’ve ridden in jeans,”basketball” shorts, floppy t-shirts, and even swimsuits (when I worked as a lifeguard). In my recent incarnation as a cyclist, however, I do wear appropriate cycling gear, no matter how goofy I may look. I have finally learned that there is good reasoning behind it, whether it be for safety, comfort or performance. But I smile and politely answer “yes” or “no” accordingly. The “no’s” are almost always met with a mocking “Really? Why not?” retort. And we have a good little chuckle.
Years ago, when I first got into long distance cycling, I rode every day. It was compulsive, and I was obsessed. I rode about forty miles every day after work and every Saturday and Sunday; I rode at least a hundred miles. I would have little contests with myself to push faster and farther. I rode the same hundred mile loop over and over again and finishing a few minutes quicker felt like winning an Olympic medal. I rode in all kinds of weather and at all times of the day. It didn’t matter. I was possessed.
At some point, I just stopped riding. I really don’t know why. I like to blame it on different circumstances. I had to work. I wanted to spend time with my family, and they don’t ride. My joints hurt. My hands get numb. It’s too cold. It’s too hot. The roads around me are too dangerous. I’ve gotten too out of shape. I look silly in Lycra. I’ve heard them all and practiced saying them – inside my head. At the end of the day, though, I had no excuse not to ride. The only thing preventing me from doing so was me. I just needed to buck up and get back in the saddle. So I did –
Little by little I started to ride again. This time is different, though. In embarking on this “journey back to me,” I’ve had to come to terms with myself. I tend to be an all or none kind of person. I’m either all in and go at it with all my might, or not at all. I’ve shown signs of being that person again. Why else would I decide to ride across America? I’ve revisited the days of personal challenges too. Last summer, I did two 24-hour challenges. In June, I rode a 5-mile loop every hour for 24 hours. And then just to try and top that, in August I rode a 10-mile loop every hour for 24. Why? Just to see if I could. It is different this time, though. I’ve given myself permission not to ride. It has to be fun, and it can’t supersede all else. If something comes up that I want to do more, it’s OK. No guilt. No panic. No shame. And it feels good! So I don’t ride every day.
Sometimes you just have to trade out the silly white hat with the holes and walk the dog.
There is nothing better than going for a ride on a beautiful, clear, crisp morning after another week of rain.
My ride today was wonderful but very slow! Why? It seemed as though every time I came around a bend, turned my head, looked up or looked back, there was something awesome to see. So I had to stop and take photos even though they show only a hint of what you experience out there. Photos can’t give you the feel in the air. Photos never reproduce the phenomenal colors that change from moment to moment. Photos don’t show you how the flowers dance in the breeze. Photos don’t let you smell the fresh air. But photos do their best to capture the moments so you can remember all those other things.
There is nothing better than seeing the mustard and other flowers popping up everywhere to create their magnificent tapestry. Spring is definitely right around the corner and I am beginning to feel the days left to train tick tock away.
There is nothing better than seeing the impressive, elaborate wineries guarding the hillsides awaiting their throngs of visitors. I’m just not sure why I keep riding PAST them.
Oh well. Ride on! There is nothing better…
The mustard is blooming in the Napa Valley so I figure it’s time to get off my duff and start sharing my cycling adventures that so many of you are clamoring for. Besides, it’s raining (something we don’t often experience here) so I don’t think I’ll be out riding a century this weekend!
As you may or may not know, I will be riding my bike across the country (USA) sometime around June, 2017. This has been a dream of mine for a long time. When I was in my twenties (yes- young and stupid), I rode obsessively. I rode at least 40 miles every day and usually 100 or more on weekends. I had a goal of riding cross-country, but didn’t have the time or logistical support at the time. The best I could do was ride from Hammond, Indiana, where I worked/lived to Herkimer, NY, where my parents still lived and I was born and raised. It was about 1700 miles round trip and a friend and I completed it in 8 days. Note the really cool 1st generation Bell biker helmets!
I moved to CA shortly after that ride, eventually met my husband and gave birth to a beautiful daughter. I stopped riding for years. With significant changes to my exercise routine, my health suffered over time. About 3 years ago, I decided to “journey back to me.” I started running, riding again, doing other cross training activities and changed my eating habits @Whole30.
Once riding long distance became part of my arsenal again, I got the itch! I decided that since I live in CA, and my extended family lives in MA, it’s a perfect set up for a coast to coast ride. To make it even more meaningful, I’ll be raising awareness and funds for Multiple Sclerosis research through Bike the US for MS. So…here we go! If it moves you, follow my training and eventual big ride adventures here. I’ll try to give you a taste of what it’s like and maybe spark something in you to follow your dreams too.
* BTW – I haven’t been compensated in any way for any products or services that are mentioned in my blog. I also don’t get paid to write this blog. If I do mention or link to a product or service from time to time, it will be because I happen to personally use it and like it. I won’t generally mention something I don’t like – I’ll leave those judgments up to you. And if I am ever lucky enough to receive something free that I talk about, I’ll let you know.