Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Where'd That Come From?

I don't know whose they were, but I had a great set of legs under me this afternoon on the Tri-City ride. Lately, my average speeds have been in the 15+mph range, tonight I averaged 16.92mph for 28.45 miles; where'd that come from?! That's after riding the last two days, working 12 hours last night, and sleeping about 4 hours today. You think I'd do well just to hold the bike up straight. But, I think we all have days like that, where we get in our zone and anything is possible. Enjoy it while it lasts, I say.
Be blessed, be safe.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Thankful Memorial Day To You!

I am thankful today and every day for the men and women who serve in the greatest military force in the world. Throughout our history, the American military has defended the vulnerable and innocent and never sought by might to increase our borders. They have sacrificed to give and preserve freedom to so many who might not otherwise ever taste freedom. They bid their families farewell and many went and gave their very lives for strangers. God bless each of them and their families who miss them. And thank you.
Celebrated my Memorial Day with a bike ride, of course, one where I rode where I wanted to and was not stopped at the first checkpoint and ordered at gunpoint to present my "papers." We don't live like that here. I have a nice bike that I worked hard and paid for myself and I pedaled it through beautiful countryside without seeing any bombed-out shells of buildings or destroyed military vehicles. This is a wonderful place.
Rode a little slower today, not that I meant to; cruised out to Bonk City and back, 44.88 miles at 15.2 mph average. Pushed it hard (for me) yesterday and I guess I am still tired. I am trying to lose some (a lot!) weight and am not eating as much so the stores are not there. But, each time I saddle up I am carrying a little less weight, so it's worth it.
I hope you all enjoy your day today, doing whatever you do to revel in your freedom.
Be blessed, be safe.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Happy Sunday!

I love this time of year! Around sunup, the temps are in the upper 60's, and on a Sunday morning, there is almost NO traffic on the road. I left the house just before 7 this morning and nearly had all of Lexington to myself. Rode from my house, through the middle of town, across the dam, all the way to Irmo; came back by Pine Island, back across the dam, and out Old Cherokee to make my way home. Didn't do too bad for time either, by my norms; 33.77 miles at an average of 16.03mph. Would have loved to stay out even longer, but, things to do.
Even so, the ride was not uneventful. Young white trash in Gramma's blue Buick just couldn't resist the urge to shout at me when passing. It amazes me (still) how people choose to display their lack of intelligence and decency. I'm just glad they kept going; that would not have been a pretty conversation- I'm sure I would have had to talk slowly and use really small words.
Be blessed, be safe.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Helmets off to the fine folks at Garmin! I sent my Edge 705 to them on the 18th (7 days ago) and on the 25th (today) a refurbished replacement arrived. In these days of customer NONservice, I think that's awesome. Of course I get great service at my LBS, Harrell's Bicycle World too. Busted a spoke last night, ready to ride tonight. Thanks Dan and the rest of the gang!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

One Week Later

Other than the "Ride of Silence" last Wednesday, which is a wonderful event which I heartily endorse, I have not ridden since the AOMM. Until tonight. Got back out there with the Tri-City Cyclists and had a great time. Feeling good kind of came and went, but I was pleased with how I rode, covering 23.5 miles in about 1:45 (that includes regroups, etc.). Only downside is I popped another spoke. The Eastons I am running are supposed to have no weight limit and the guys at my LBS insist this is not the issue, but I am not convinced. I am heavy and strong, and sometimes I think I am more than these wheels can handle. For now.
When I did the AOMM last year, I was about 40 pounds lighter and had spent more time in the hills preparing for it. This year, heavier with less training. Same amount of miles, but if you want to do well in the hills, you must spend time in the hills. Period. So after coming home from AOMM and enjoying a couple of celebratory meals, I kicked in and have been making some serious changes in my eating habits. Greatly reduced the amount of sugar, salt, and fat in my diet; and instead of eating three larger meals a day, I am eating five to six small meals a day. I also cut way back on the Coca-Colas which I love. In the last six days I have dropped 12 pounds and can feel it. Now, I know this won't last, the loss will taper off soon, but I'll enjoy it while I can and count it as encouragement to continue. Remember, if I weigh 200 or more next year, I will not ride but instead serve in some support capacity. Either way I'll have a great time, but I'd live to see a sub-9 hour time, maybe even sub-8 hour before I turn 50.
Normally, after a ride like the AOMM, I'd be poring over data collected along the route by my Garmin Edge 705; that would not be the case this year. Something fritzed and I lost all the info on my computer. I contacted Garmin and they were great, walked me through several attempts to restore things, and then had me paackage it up and send it to them. I am expecting either a replacement or my repaired unit back any day now. I really appreciate their customer service.
Be blessed, be safe.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"You've already been where you're going again."

I wrote these words with some goals on a piece of tape stuck to my handlebar bag. This would be my mantra for a rematch with Mt. Mitchell, in which I would defend my title as "survivor."
Drove up to the campground at Marion to meet my brother, he would leave his car there so when we came off the mountain we would have our own ride to Spartanburg where my car waited at the hotel. It was a cool but beautiful day, and we were already in Marion, so we drove the route from the campground to the top of Mitchell. We have done this before so the climbs didn't look quite as bad as they had in the past. Boy, were we in for a surprise! Got to the top and it was cloudy and 44 degrees with a little wind. The weather forecast called for about the same thing on Monday and we figured we could handle that. Came off the mountain and hit the road for Spartanburg where we would pick up rider packets at the auditorium and then get in a short spin on the bikes just to loosen up and make sure they were ready for the ride. A quick six miles told us we were good to go, it was time to go fuel up at the Cracker Barrel!
Tried to crash early that night, but I don't know what it is with people. Some folks think since they are staying in a hotel, they are obligated to make a lot of noise late at night. Ended up with little more than a nap, but that stupid little dog finally got all of his barking finished.
Up at 0400 for final preparations, out the door at 0550 for the 3.5 mile (EASY) ride to the starting line in front of the auditorium. In the middle of a crowd of about 1100 cyclists we lit out early for the top of Mt. Mitchell. It would be a long day!
This ride is, to me and many others, the gold standard of how a ride should be managed. All of the support staff were friendly and helpful, the stops were all well stocked, and law enforcement had control of every intersection we rolled through. When I left Spartanburg, I did not come off the pedals for 64 miles; never had to stop for any traffic or signals.
I had done some calculations to make a half-hour better time than last year, but for a couple of reasons, that would not happen. I was not making time like I need to but did well until I got to the serious climbing near the top of Hwy 80. I began to come apart and would have to dig really deep if I was to survive this thing and finish.
Made it up to the Blue Ridge Parkway at about 1:45pm; there is a 3:30pm cutoff here, if you're not on the Parkway by then, you're not getting on, your ride is over. Two years ago I had missed the cutoff by 3 miles; standing there looking at the Parkway this year, I had well over an hour to cover the next 100 yards.
Tried not to sit too long at the stops, didn't want to stiffen up, so I mounted up and hit the Parkway. A mile or two in to it, a Bronco rolled by, the driver shouting at me; it was Paul Harrell, doing support work. Saw him a little later, he pulled me over to check on me and give me a Coke. After 80+ miles and climbing up to the Parkway, that was like heaven in a bottle. Paul is an awesome guy, runs a great shop; if you need a new bike or any accessories, you should go to Harrell's Bicycle World.
The Parkway is tough, but not as bad as the top 4 miles of Hwy 80, or the climb in the Mt. Mitchell State Park. I was shot though; did my best and almost made it to the rest stop at mile 93 when the rain came. The temps had already dropped because we'd gotten up into cloud cover, and now the rain made it worse. Adding insult to injury, the best part of the Parkway leg is a two-mile stretch of awesome downhill coming out of that rest stop; normally I would see ~40mph but had to keep it at half of that because of the wet roads.
After that, it was just pure misery. Sort of. I had to walk some, and had a lot of time to think about the life lessons I was learning. I won't go into all that right now, but it was a great time of introspection. Several times different SAG wagons came by and offered me a ticket out of there, but I stuck to it. Except for once. I was standing in the rain completely alone just two miles from the finish, when I heard a vehicle approaching. I thought, "God, if that's a SAG, I'm climbing in." I think He turned it into a bus before it came into view. Back on the bike. Still exhausted and miserable. But almost there. Again, I pedaled until I couldn't pedal anymore, and got off and walked one last time. It was such a dense fog I could barely see 50 yards in front of me, but I got to the point where I could see the parking lot. I walked to the parking lot, took one last drink, and mounted up to finish my ride. I could hear people talking above me at the very top and as I rounded the curve I heard someone shout, "this way, follow my voice!" I'm telling you, it was nasty. As I crossed the line, the people working there treated me like I was the first one to finish, welcoming me in like family they'd not seen for much too long. I couldn't think straight, but I collected my patch and surrendered my bike, and walked off smiling. I didn't do as well as I had hoped to, but I finished, and I wasn't last. By the way, it was 37 degrees and still raining at the top.
It was a very encouraging time. I got on the bus to fanfare from folks who'd just finished suffering too. We rode down the mountain getting to know each other better and swapping war stories. There was a bond between strangers because of this shared experience.
Next Year
I began thinking about next year a week or two before this year's ride, recalling how I wish I had trained differently, lost weight, etc., and it comes down to this: I am about 45 pounds heavier this year than last. Crazy, right? I had dropped some weight prior to last year's, but once I finished it I no longer had a goal in front of me. So, I gained back what I had lost and then some.
Here's the deal: eating is what I do. It's how I deal with stress, exhaustion, and anger, it's how I celebrate and socialize. I want to get a handle on this and the older I get, the more difficult it gets. I will spend the next year really knuckling down to beat this. If I can make myself ride a bicycle up a steep mountain in the rain, surely I can lose 85 pounds over the next year. When you get a chance, ask me how I'm doing and hold me accountable. If I am not under 200 (under, not "at") when next year's AOMM rolls around, then I will not ride, but instead will volunteer to support the ride in whatever capacity I am able. There, you read it, hold me to it.
I got long-winded on this, it was an exciting event; sorry. I'll write more about it later as I continue to process all that took place.
Ride of Silence
Tomorrow, May 18th, I will participate in the Ride of Silence in Columbia to memorialize cyclists killed in action. Too many are killed or injured by distracted motorists. A friend of a friend died in Florida a few weeks ago in a hit-and-run; two days ago, another friend was sent to the hospital to be treated for some bad road rash after being hit. Let's bring attention to this and hopefully these incidents will decrease. It's a shame that someone actively pursuing better health should leave this world in such a way.
Be blessed, be safe.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spartanburg, Day One

Arrived in Spartanburg this afternoon, got checked into my hotel, and got more excited about the coming ride. Hopped on the mountain bike about 2:30 and went to a presentation of a film about the 13th AOMM, talk about dated, wow! A lot's changed in 23 years with bikes, equipment, and clothing. Probably the only sports drink at that time was Gatorade, no gels or or of the plethora of nutritional offerings at your local bike shop. The helmets that were used looked like half a ping-pong ball, and there was not a carbon bike in the bunch. The only thing that was the same was the riders' determination to summit the highest point east of the Mississippi.
It takes determination to be a serious cyclist (I didn't say racer). Going to see the film, I got caught in some serious rain and arrived soaking wet. That's okay, if you are going to ride, you are going to get wet. The thing is, you become a person that reaches down within yourself and pulls out what you never thought you had. I feel like there's a point where that begins to transcend into other areas of your life and makes you a better, stronger person.
Time for some dinner.
Be blessed, be safe.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday Night Tri-City Ride

Back to Cayce tonight for the Tri-City Ride, an awesome bunch of folks to hammer with. This is my last decent effort until this coming Monday when I will once again attempt to summit Mt. Mitchell. It's time to actively rest, hydrate, and store carbs. I will spin a little each day through the weekend to keep my legs loose, and hopefully be ready when the flag drops at 0630, Monday morning.
I don't feel prepared for this, and at the same time an excitement is welling up within me. I think there's a lot of (I hate to sound so "hippie") positive energy in the air because everyone else is so excited and looking forward to doing his/her best. This is a very difficult ride, I've heard it's in the top ten of tough rides in America, and just to finish is a major accomplishment.
I WILL FINISH. How quickly, I just don't know. But I will be just as happy at the end of the day as that lightweight hammer that finished in less than five hours.
I have numerous friends and acquaintances, as well as my brother, riding the AOMM, and to each of you, Godspeed, safety, and success!
Be blessed, be safe.

Monday, May 9, 2011

9 May 2011

Wow, it's hard to believe how time flies. I haven't posted in a while and don't know where the time went, and now the 2011 Assault on Mt. Mitchell is less than 7 days away! Looking back through some old numbers, I am surprised to find that I am within a handful of miles from where I was this time last year, a little better than 1700 miles this calendar year. Even though I finished last year (and am forever proud of that!) there are a couple of things that concern me: last year I finished the Marquis de Sade and this year I was not able to climb White Oak Mountain. Also, I am about 30 pounds heavier this year.
I am taking comfort in these things: I do believe I can beat the 3:30pm cutoff at the Parkway, and once on the Parkway, I am hard-headed enough to slog it out and make it to the top. I think too, that I have learned a few things this past year to improve my technique, such as breathing and cadence, as well as becoming better at riding my own ride. I have accepted the fact that I am too old and heavy to be a racer, and I need to control that competitive thing in me that says, "that rider in front of you is only 100 yards off; you can pass him/her if you want too." While I hope to get into groups where we can work together pulling each other along, I want to go out there with the idea in my head that I am totally alone and need to make it to the top.
Something kind of funny to me: when I finished last year, I thought I would do the Assault one more time, just to see if I could get a better time, and then I would be done. This year's ride is almost a week away, and I am already looking forward to next year's ride. Why? Because I am 45 and not getting any younger. Biking puts a feeling in me like nothing else. I ride, I sweat, I hurt, and yet it's the most satisfying thing I have ever done. When I rounded that last right-hand curve in the parking lot last year, I felt like I was finishing the Tour de France! Like a new mother holding her newborn child, what was behind me wasn't worth thinking about, only what lay before me. At that point, I think I could have ridden another 100 miles.
So, anyway, totally changing the subject now. I was on a Saturday ride the other week and someone mentioned my blog. I was surprised to hear this person had been following my blog, and pleased that she didn't ask me, "what are you thinking?!" To me, this is not so much a blog as a journal or diary. I started doing this just to track my riding and make a few notes. I don't claim to be a writer and anyone with a computer can have a blog. But I have enjoyed it, and am happy to learn that others (three, I think) enjoy reading what I write. Thanks!
I am an RN, have been for about three years now, one of those midlife career changes. Except I have never had a career, only a series of different jobs. I have worked in a hospital for the last seven years, six of those in the ER, a Level One Trauma Center. If it's bad, it's coming to us. I have seen things that should be seen only in a war zone and cried over children leaving this world. Needless to say, it's a very stressful situation. I left the ER about a month ago to go to one of the ICU's. Still somewhat stressful, but hopefully helping folks heal and recover from whatever madness they have endured. I think the most stressful part is the learning curve I am in right now, learning my way around, new people, etc. It will get better, and I will soon achieve a level of comfort I can handle. Until then, there is my bicycle. I will continue to pedal as much as possible, giving myself what I once saw referred to as a "mental enema." A two-wheeled jaunt through the country is, to me, a great source of healing and making things right with the world.
Thanks for taking time to read this.
Be blessed, be safe.