Friday, August 28, 2009

28 August 2009

Pulled a no-no, a major one: I went a solid week without riding my bike. So, I went for a ride today, 47.65 miles, and I am now officially in pain. I have been home for hours, even took a nap, and I can barely stand. Nah, it's not really that bad, I actually got out and dug up a few stumps before dinner, but I really shouldn't stay off the bike that long. Muscles go flabby and skin gets soft again. I'll try to get a good night's sleep and go out again in the morning. Got to stay regular. Riding, I mean.
Encountered an elderly gentleman on a bike this morning, not a Townie, but a similar bike. Spoke to him as I passed him and he informed me he was working his way back from a hip replacement. That might be too much information for some of you, coming from a total stranger, but let's look at this a minute. We're talking about an elderly man, could be late 60's, maybe even 70ish. I, myself, am a 43-year-old ER nurse, and I spend much of my time at work caring for patients MUCH younger than myself with MUCH less severe complaints. Yet this older gentleman, who, let's face it has most of his life behind him, REFUSES to give up! This man doesn't even know it, but he is my hero.
Be blessed, be safe.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

15 August 2009

I was getting close to hitting 3000 miles year-to-date, so I wanted to be somewhere cool when I did hit it; so, I called my brother and said to him, "Let's go climb White Oak Mountain on Saturday." He was game, so this morning we hit the road. White Oak is cool, not only because it is tough to climb, but because it's only two or so hours from home. We parked in Tryon, NC (a beautiful NC mountain town!) and rolled out toward the mountain. This is at the bottom of the climb; they've been doing road repair and haven't taken this sign down. I think it is a very appropriate sign that should stay as long as bikes are climbing White Oak.

I had planned my rides at home earlier in the week to set me up so I would hit 3000 miles at the top and got pretty close; when I reached the summit, I had racked up 3001 miles in 2009! I didn't ride 3000 miles the first 40 years of my life! I'm no rock star on a bicycle, but when I got to the top I was as happy as Alberto Contador on Mont Ventoux!

It's a bit of a hazy day, but behind me is a big, beautiful valley. Here's a shot of it without me polluting the landscape!

We rested at the top for a bit, then rolled through the switches down the other side. That's an experience! Got to the bottom and the wheels were too hot to touch from braking! Some people might think going down the hill is better, but the pucker factor can go through the roof!
We headed north, then turned west to go through the Green River Cove, a heavenly valley with the road running along the Green River. Lots of folks out there today having a great time rafting and tubing down the river. Got a little jealous, wanted to trade the bike for a kayak!
At the upper end of the valley, there is a series of 4.5 million switchbacks to take one up from the valley floor into Saluda, NC. Okay, so I exaggerated just a little. There are MANY switches to take you up, inclines up to 15%! It was on one of these switchbacks that my heart rate hit 175 beats a minute, and I thought it best that I should get off the bike and walk a bit until I recovered and my heart slowed some. It soon did, so I jumped aboard and finished climbing out of the valley to Saluda, another picturesque NC mountain town with several fine restaurants.
The ride from Saluda back to Tryon is a total GAS! About 7 miles of road here, four of which are DOWNHILL!! It was on this stretch of tarmac I hit a max speed of 37.5mph! Talk about FUN! This four miles made the two heart-, mind-, and gut-wrenching climbs worth it all. We finished our ride having gone 38.23 miles and climbing over 4200 feet, cumulative. What a great day it has been!
Be blessed, be safe.
p.s. No one should ever ride in the mountains alone. A rider could accidentally go over the side and be very difficult to locate and provide aid to. Always take a partner, besides, the conversation is always good when you're not hacking up a lung!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

6 August 2009

Went out for a ride this morning, a beautiful morning; until the "stinging insect!" I have never been shot, hope to never be shot, but it has to feel something like this: riding along in the cool air at about 17mph, with my jersey open because I'd been out long enough to warm up, when a stinging insect (I don't know what kind, I lacked the time for formal introductions) hits me full force about dead-center to my chest. I started beating on my chest, trying to get rid of this thing (I know the cars coming at me probably thought I was some overweight, middle-aged biker doing some kind of macho Tarzan thing, but that wasn't it!), but to no avail, the damage was done. All I could do now was get this thing out of my shirt. It has happened before, I had a bee of some variety fly headlong into the vents of my helmet and start slapping me. Not a pleasant experience. What can you do, though? I kept riding and had one of the best rides I'd had in a while.

I love to ride in the morning this time of year. It gets too hot to ride if you wait, so I get started early. All the cows are in a good mood and speak to you as you roll by. When the sun gets high enough to warm the dew on a field, a mist kind of hangs there just being beautiful. On the ponds there is that same mist, sitting on the suface of the water like ghosty ice-skaters suspended in time. This world has plenty of negatives: Fatty's wife died yesterday, my friend in Tennessee lost his home to fire, and our government wants to control everything. But if I can get out and see the world as I saw it this morning, it is still a wonderful place.

To all those folks in your cars this morning who saw me as a nuisance slowing you down by a second or two, you have no idea what you are missing out on. Like the mists on the field and pond, which is probably burned away by now, so is a man's life: fleeting. "Let your years be full of life, rather than your life just full of years."

Be blessed, be safe.

6 August 2009

I was greatly saddened to fire up my computer this morning and learn that Susan Nelson, wife of the Fat Cyclist, had passed away after her long battle with cancer. I don't personally know either of these people, but Fatty has for a long time inspired me with his blogging about her brave fight. May God bless and comfort the Nelson family at this time, my heart and prayers are with you and your family Eldon.

Monday, August 3, 2009

3 August 2009

Another good ride today, did 54+ miles without dismounting! I did stop a couple of times, had to pick up my water bottles! I don't know what the deal is, something involving strange physics, but the combination of hard bumps in the road and my spare bottle holder mounted behind the seat post, throws one of the two bottles off. I have some of the new Camelbak bottles I bought from the Garmin-Slipstream website (love'em!) so I won't just leave them lying there by the road. Besides, that's littering, and there's too much of that already.
I stopped to pick up some litter today. I often see change lying in or beside the road, but it's not worth stopping for. However, today I was working my way up a long grade (not an easy task for this Clydesdale!) and saw a dollar lying next to the road. Okay, I'll stop for paper money. Had to turn around, but when I went back, ole George had company! Found four dollars lying beside a country road! Felt pity for the rightful owner but had no way to find who it was. So, I will contribute it to a small local endurance team. What that really means is, I am going to Taco Bell! Just another of the many benefits of cycling!

Something else that encourages me is other cyclist/bloggers. For instance, the Fat Cyclist always makes me smile. (He's more than just a torso, though!)Check him out at My heart breaks for him right now though. His wife Susan has cancer and has not been doing so well lately. But Fatty has stayed by her side and taken care of her, and has lived out "for better or worse, till death do us part." Pray for Fatty, it's time for some of the encouragement he has sent out to go back to him and lift him up. God bless Fatty and Susan!
Someone else that encourages me is Charisa Wernick.
I have never had the good fortune to meet her, she lives on the other side of our great nation, but she is a triathlete that blogs. Somehow she has found my little corner of the interweb and on occasion will drop me a note that helps me keep pedaling. Thanks Charisa! She does a great job on her blog keeping us up to speed on her training (this girl does Ironman competitions!) and her life. You can, and should, look for her at
So, my life is good, but it's not my doing. It's due to God who loves me, and loves me enough to cause my life to overlap with the lives of wonderful people, some of whom I may never meet in this lifetime. I am grateful.
Be blessed, be safe.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

2 August 2009

Went for a ride today and saw this cool cactus growing wild beside the road. It reminded me of ribbon candy, something always around our house at Christmas. I have the great pleasure of seeing many interesting things as I pedal through the Good Country that is the midlands of South Carolina. A lot of folks want to complain about my home state for different reasons: education, Confederate flag, etc. If this place doesn't suit you, just keep looking. Every interstate highway that will bring you to SC will take you right back out of it. If you want to come here and live your life this is a great place. Here in the midlands, we have much history as well as plenty of other things to offer; three hours west- mountains! Three hours east- beautiful beaches. We have got it going on! Still not as biker friendly as I'd like, but some hard working people are making a lot of progress.
This is a photo of just an ordinary swamp, nothing special. I ride past it on occasion, it's near a small farm full of smells that might turn some off, but tell me I am in the country! I love getting out here and seeing what I can see as I work to improve my physical condition. I think an interesting side-effect of my self-prescribed therapy is a boost to my mental health. I hope I am still doing this forty years from now. 'Course, I hope all this farm land is not developed forty years from now.
Be blessed, be safe.