If my head wasn’t screwed on, I’d forget that too!

Head On

It’s a weird thing. I am very absent minded. Once something gets to my long term memory banks, though, I never forget it. Ask anyone who really knows me. I never forget birthdays, obscure anniversary dates, phone numbers, names, words that were spoken, treatments rendered, etc. I can still see doodles on pages of my Anatomy class notes. The problem is, it has to get there because my short term memory seems to be for naught. I can’t remember five things I was supposed to pick up at the store. I can’t remember to bring a book to a friend. I can’t remember my purse when we leave a restaurant. A year from now though, I’ll be able to tell you what was on my shopping list, or what page I read something interesting on, or what I ordered in the restaurant.

It’s funny. When I rode my bike in the eighty’s I never worried about remembering anything. We didn’t have cell phones. I had a small, first generation cycle computer that told me my speed and distance and started automatically. I didn’t really think about safety (I was in my twenties after all) so I didn’t have lights or safety vests or reflectors and what not. I did wear a helmet. Today though, is a totally different story. I have a satellite tracker (to keep my husband and friends happy). I have a fancy Garmin cycle computer that has info about everything, including maps. I have lights on the front and back of the bike. I have reflective bands. I have multiple water bottles. I have repair tools/kits. I have a cell phone and ear buds – yes I do occasionally like to listen to low volume music in one ear. I probably have other things that I’m forgetting.

That brings me to checklists. Checklists are great. And I’ve decided I pretty much need one (or two) for my bike. Otherwise, I forget to charge the aforementioned equipment. I forget to bring one thing or another. I forget to turn the lights on or I forget to turn them off when I’m done for the day.  And it goes on. Checklists are part of my life too, so I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before now. I am a private pilot and you use checklists before/during every flight. I help my husband who teaches CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) and checklists are a big part of being prepared for and responding to disasters. I work in healthcare where checklists are used routinely to make sure the right patients are receiving the right treatments. I even make out a weekly grocery list these days.

And so, for peace of mind, I have created my bicycling checklists. I have one (would you believe it) for take off and landing (start up/shut down of various electronics). And I have one of things I should bring along when I’m planning to be 50 or more miles away from home base.

Now if only I could remember to check the checklist!

Ride on!

Spring at Last, Spring at Last, Spring at Last!

Well, the days are finally showing more consistent signs of Spring and I was able to get a nice leisurely 40-miler in this morning. It’s hard though. I want to stop everywhere and take pictures. I did manage to get a few in.

I hope this is a good sign for nice weather in the upcoming weeks. Getting soggy isn’t bad but it is getting a bit old. It’s been good training though. I’m pretty sure I will run into some rain somewhere this June.

Link to more detail on today’s ride – if you’re interested.

Cheers to higher mileage weeks!  Ride on!

 

 

First Day of Spring…Ha!

Today marked the first day of Spring. I’ve been living in California for 27 years now and I don’t ever remember a year when it rained so much in March, much less the first day of Spring. Mind you, I grew up in upstate New York where this weather would be welcomed. I went to college in Buffalo where we seemed to have precipitation 300 days/year (actual average is 93 days). And I worked in the Chicago area where the wind chilled you to the bone – so I’m not exactly a weather weenie. But come on! I have to get my mileage up. Counting today, I figure I have about 72 days left to get my act together if I’m going to make it across America.

So, I went out and rode. Got a quick 20 in after work. A bit soggy, but not nearly as cold as it was in December! An added plus was that it was at least still light out. Looks like this week will bring more of the same. Good thing I won’t likely melt!IMG_3667

Ride on!

Progress

Progress. You’ve got to love it! When I was born, titanium dental implants didn’t even exist. When I was in elementary school, CT scans weren’t available. When I was in high school, MRI’s were just starting to be used. And coronary stents weren’t deployed until after I became a physical therapist. Heck, even personal computers and the internet weren’t around until a few decades ago. I had to use a typewriter to write my research thesis in college! Progress. I do love progress.

Progress is defined as forward or onward movement toward a destination. Synonyms include advance, breakthrough, growth, headway, improvement, and journey. I hope that progress defines my year.

I hope to advance toward my goals. Later this year, June to be exact, I hope to ride my bike across America. I even hope to ride at least 100 miles per day (about 40 consecutive centuries). I will be raising funds to help end multiple sclerosis (MS) along the way through Bike the US for MS.

I hope to breakthrough the wind. Headwind has always been my nemesis. I curse it as I ride. Some days the wind can be so strong, it feels like you are standing still. I’ve learned to pedal at a higher cadence (about 90 RPM) and ride in the drops which really do help you cut through the wind easier.

I hope to make headway with many things and show some growth. I happen to be on vacation in San Diego this week. A little spring break with our daughter. I’ve learned here that I have made some headway in terms of fitness improvement and that makes me happy. The leading photo for this blog is of the screen on a treadmill at the Worldmark where we are staying. Anyone looking at it might think it’s a great slow/average run. I think progress! When we were here a year ago, I had trouble maintaining a 4-mile per hour pace. Now that feels like a fast walk. When we were here a year ago, I watched from the cliff top while others discovered what was in the tide pools. This year, I had my own adventure.

I hope that I improve as a cyclist and as a person. And I hope to discover many exciting things yet to be revealed on my journey.

Ride on!

Weekend Warrior #3 – Trials and Tribulations of the Sag Wagoneer

The forecast was for no rain or at best, chance of showers, so I thought I would go for my first century of the year. I blew off the St. John’s running crew, said “good bye” to the crusher guy, and headed toward Dixon. I knew riding there and back would put me right at 100 miles.

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Of course, my husband, aka. sag wagoneer, wanted to know where I was headed on this cold Napa morning. img_3468

At first, I didn’t know. I usually let the day decide and once I get out there, the bike just heads where it feels right. Early on, I thought I might do some local loops. I have a bunch mapped out – 4 miles, 5 miles, 10 miles, – you name it. But then as I headed out the door, I shouted to him that I would ride to Dixon and back.

It turned out to be a beautiful pre-Spring day. Flowers were peaking up everywhere. Baby animals were romping in the pastures. And trees were bursting with buds. flowers1img_3481img_3467cows.jpgimg_3354

It was also a pleasant surprise that the wind was really calm. It’s always nice when you see flags just hugging the poles!img_3482

I made it to Dixon and thought I would grab a little bite to eat so I called my husband to let him know why I was stopping. img_3490Well, he replied that he was almost in Dixon as well, so we could grab some lunch together! It turns out that he thought I was just riding to Dixon – not there and back. So he set out in time to pick me up in the “sag wagon.” How sweet – but I certainly wouldn’t get my century in. We had a good chuckle over the miscommunication and decided that I would ride on to at least make a metric century (62 miles) and then we would get a bite to eat. It was all good! I even found my first road treasure of the year – a slightly used bungee cord. I can always use those!img_3507

Lesson learned: Clear communication with the sag wagon is a vital skill to perfect.

Ride on!

 

 

There is nothing Better…

There is nothing better than going for a ride on a beautiful, clear, crisp morning after another week of rain.img_3317

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.

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Oh well. Ride on! There is nothing better…

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Staying Fit Off-Season

How does one stay fit for cycling in the off-season? OK – in (Napa) California, there is no “off-season.” Most years it doesn’t rain too much, nor does it get too cold. I’ve lived in places where most people don’t go outside, much less cycle, between October and May because there is usually snow on the ground and it’s so cold you have to use a hair dryer to thaw the locks on your car. I’ve ridden in those conditions – mainly because I could, and probably because I thought I could prove something to myself – what that was; I’m not quite sure. Now that I’m much older and hopefully somewhat wiser, I don’t have to prove to myself that I can ride in nasty weather. I still do at times, though, just because I want to, and this year has given me plenty of opportunities. jipt3487

So if I don’t feel like riding in the cold or rain, what do I do/use? And do I cross-train at all? These are the varied ways I stay fit all winter (and year) long.

Running. I never used to like running. At least not as an activity on its own. Sure I ran. I’ve been an athlete for as long as I can remember. My sports mostly involved short sprints, though. Basketball, volleyball, and softball were what I played. Basketball was my favorite except for all the suicide sprints done over the years! Flash forward to three years ago when I started this journey back to me. I thought I should try running. Ha, ha! I could barely make it a quarter of a mile without stopping to walk. Now I run 3.5 to 5 miles every time out, and I have even run 10 and 15 miles to date! My most enjoyable jaunts are those I do with my buds from St. John’s Lutheran on Saturday mornings. We all go at our own pace, and everyone is supportive of each other. And they’ve made running downright fun!

Indoor spinning. I think riding my stationary bike has helped me ride stronger outdoors. I generally do short HIIT (high-intensity interval training) sessions when indoors. I have a trusty old Schwinn that I’ve used for years. It’s comfortable to me. It tracks just the basic things like time, pace, and distance. And it offers good levels of resistance.  Once I get back outside, I notice my cadence is faster, and I’m quicker on the hills.img_3145

Elliptical. I don’t often use this machine, but when I get bored with the exercise bike, it’s nice to be able to change it up a bit. I used it more last year after I injured my knee while running and it was extremely helpful in letting me continue to exercise while not putting undue stress on the joint. img_3151-2

Gym/Therapy Balls. How could I not use these? I ask my patients to exercise with them, so shouldn’t I do the same? You can do some great core strengthening and balance training. Add a 10-20 pound medicine ball, and you’ve got a fantastic workout. img_3271

Body Blade. This is a device created by a physical therapist back in the early 90’s. We had some in the clinic, and I have had one at home ever since. It uses vibration and inertia to produce rapid contractions. For just a few minutes a day, it translates into great toning and core stabilization.img_3272

Edge Suspension Trainer. I have used my suspension trainer extensively. I love doing functional exercises using your body as weight versus non-functional weight machines.  And as you’ve probably noticed by now, I really believe in core stability, and the suspension trainer simultaneously develops that, along with strength, and flexibility.img_3142

Free weights. I still use free weights for basic strengthening.  I use an adjustable system, though. We have a PowerBlock dumbbell set which adjusts from 5 to 45 pounds on each dumbbell. Plenty for me!img_3156

Stairs. There is a stairwell not too far from my office at work, and I have taken to running the stairs every few hours during the day. Not too long ago, I could hardly walk up the three flights (56 steps) without being totally out of breath. Now I routinely run up/down ten times before I quit.img_3214

There you have it. My winter routine. I can’t wait for the days to be longer, the sun to be out and the roads to be dry. That first century of the year is calling my name. Soon. Very soon! Ride on!

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Century Time

 

Weekend Warrior #2

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After weeks of cold (for California) and rain, it was finally dry and a bit warmer, so it was time to head back to the hills! Back to where this big ole’ adventure began – Partrick Road.

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I say my adventure began there because about five months ago I was deciding on my next personal cycling challenge. I had completed a couple of 24-hour challenges over the summer, and I was looking for the next big thing. So I threw down the gauntlet and said I would ride the hills surrounding Napa Valley. I started with Partrick Road since it’s pretty close to where I live (about two and a half miles). Of course, it turns out; it is one of the toughest too. It’s not the longest route, but it gets pretty steep (14% grade) in parts. Once I made it to the top without expiring, I thought “Hey, if I can do that, I think I can ride over the Sierras. I finished the Markleeville Death Ride 26 years ago, after all!” That got me thinking about riding across America. It had been my dream years ago, and now I thought maybe it’s still possible.
It struck me that I only have four more months of training and then it’s put up or shut up time. That’s why I needed to get back to the hills! I have to say, though; this ride was easier than the first. Thank goodness my workouts have been paying off! It was also one of my most enjoyable climbs. The sun felt great! The views were spectacular. There were so many different animals out to greet me at every turn. And of course, the decent was magical!

What a great day! I think I’ll be back on Partrick Road soon.

Ride on!

Weekend Warrior #1

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SATURDAY

It was finally dry and a bit warmer this weekend, so I was able to set out on a longer ride. California has had a lot of really cold and rainy days since Christmas. Not really whining…I am from upstate New York after all, but it has been tough to commit to longer, endurance type rides. This weekend, I set out to test the route I’ll take to head out of town in June (unless I decide to go South). It ended up being a half century that ended in Dixon, CA. I definitely could have ridden farther/longer, but I had a dinner date to get back for. You might wonder how I got back home since it was 50 miles one way. Well, I also tested my sag wagon, AKA, Ken. It worked beautifully too! He followed my progress on my tracker and knew exactly when and where I stopped. Since he went shopping for new shoes at the factory stores nearby, he picked me up with no trouble at all. More ride details can be found at 01/14/17 Ride.

People often ask if I ever enjoy the rides and stop to smell the roses so to speak. I always do! How can you not enjoy riding through the Napa Valley and surrounding areas? That’s why you’ll see plenty of photos to follow along with me. Besides, photography is one of my other hobbies. Most of the photos on my rides are just taken on my iPhone. It does a pretty decent job and they’re easy to upload. These are from my ride today…

The prison pic is for my running buddies since allegedly, I was contributing to the delinquency of a runner (since I chose to ride). CSP (California State Prison) was serendipitously on my route. The first pic is one of those that just fits in the WTF category.

SUNDAY

I rode to church this morning – a mere 8 miles – but it was cold by California standards! It was right around 40 degrees F so had to bundle up. I ran into my bud Aaron Comfort Dog . Not sure what he thought of my face mask, but I stayed warm!

Ride on!

 

 

 

 

 

Darth Rider 

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Training for a cross-country ride is interesting. What do you do when you live in Napa, CA at 33 feet above sea level? How are my lungs going to like riding over the Sierra and Rocky mountain passes? And I don’t really have time to go to the mountains every week to train. Next best thing? You have a loving husband and daughter (aka – The Sag Waggoneers) who give you an Elevation Training Mask for Christmas. So far, it’s been great. I used it during my Festive 500 rides and even on the flats it made me work pretty hard. And I sound really cool. It is somewhat disturbing to small children when they see me, though. Stay tuned…