Tag: biking

Tis the season….

Great week here in southeastern Wisconsin. The first hints of spring. I’d left for Mexico with the yard covered in snow. In fact, don’t think we’d seen the ground since around the 1st of December. I’d hoped the snow would melt while we were gone – and that prayer was answered. Even better was the bonus week of sunny days, temps in the 50’s. Gave me an opportunity for my first outdoor ride of 2010. Well, not exactly the first, I had a fun ride down in Mexico through the jungles, er, nature park at Tres Rios.

But this week, the bike came out of the basement. It felt great to take off on a ride. I did one of my favorite routes which takes me through two local parks. Fox Brook which has a nice mile long loop around a pond. Did two spins, enjoying the laughter of a little girl on a bike with training wheels riding the opposite direction. She seemed to find me passing by and saying hello quite funny. From there I head over through Mitchell Park and its boardwalk over the Fox River. First lesson of the trip – in the spring be mindful of the water level of the river. At first I considered turning around, but then decided to go for it, and ride on. (thanks to the mom and daughters, I knew the depth. I’m not sure I’d have been brave- or stupid- enough to ride through if I hadn’t)

The second lesson of the ride. Sporadic rides on the trainer over the winter are no substitute for actual riding. Esp. when those trainer rides were few and far between the last few weeks, and not exactly at maximum effort. The hills around here killed me. It will take a few more rides before I tackle my first goal hill (the section of Brookfield Rd driving north from Bluemound to Gephardt).

And as a bonus I got to rock my colorful, spring-y, new Terry bike jersey.

Meanwhile, back at home, it’s also the start of the gardening season. This will be the year I start to tackle this garden. I’m starting to get a vision. Feeling more settled in this house thanks to some changes at work. Ready to move forward, start the heavy and not so fun work of clearing some of the overgrown mess and making my own stamp on the place. There’s signs of spring here too. Daffodils foliage growing through the leaves I’d piled on the beds. Teeny little hosta noses just peeking out of the earth.

On my walk Thursday, I’d taken this picture of the still ice and snow covered pond at Rolling Meadows park to remind me that we weren’t quite at spring yet.

This morning, on the 1st official day of spring, awoke to a reminder from Spring herself, that we still have a way to go before the real outdoor season. But it sure feels good to know we are marching towards just that!

Newborn, Natchez, Noshing, Nashville, November

Our family had a little something extra to be thankful for this year – my new nephew Jack Stephen. Jack is the first child of my brother. He’s named in memory of my Dad, Jack, and in honor of his maternal grandfather, Stephen. My brother was a confirmed bachelor who hit the jackpot in his mid-40’s when he met his wife, Gina. Smart, fun, beautiful with an incredible family to boot. Really none of us could have asked for more. So, this year for Thanksgiving, we loaded up the car, put the bikes on the rack and set out on the 10 hour drive to celebrate with Jeff and Gina’s family and new son down in Nashville. And celebrate we did.

Gina’s Aunt is a great hostess and great cook. As with many great cooks, they have friends who are equally good cooks adding to the fun. What a feast we had – a foodie’s heaven! Two turkeys, one oven roasted, one smoked, two kinds of stuffing – including Gina’s family recipe of an italian sausage and bread stuffing that was almost addicting.

More and more food kept appearing on the tables….a couple of different sweet potatoes, the most amazing layered jello salad, several versions of cranberries, I loved the cranberry ginger chutney. Wines of the day were Pine Ridge Chenin/Vognier, Edna Valley Chardonnay, and Ponzi Pinot Noir. Blue Moon Honey Moon was available for the beer lovers. A bottle of Woodford Reserve was around. (any guesses what hubby and I were responsible for bringing). I forgot to get a picture of the dessert table – but it was equally impressive – two kinds of pumpkin pie, pecan pies. All so yummy.

Thank goodness with all that eating, we’d brought the bikes. Got in several good rides. A couple around Nashville in the Oak Hill/Belmont areas. But the most memorable was a ride along the Natchez Trace. Beautiful and challenging with the continual rolling hills.

Discovered that I’m a bit of a wimp riding over this famous bridge over Hwy 96. Heading out I stayed a decent distance from the edge. Coming back, a crosswind had blown up, and I was scared to death. Rode at almost the center of the road. Even once we got across and I got off the bike to take these pictures I never was able to stand next to the rail. Just a bit too freaked out.

The nice weather also provided an opportunity for a walk around Radner Lake.

Ended the weekend with a celebration of Mom’s birthday. A great trip, wonderful meeting Jack and spending time with family. Enough to wear a guy out!

Random Thoughts from the Saddle

1) When geese are spooked and caused to take off as a flock, many of them poop in the process. If you are riding down a bike path and flush a flock of geese directly in front of you, not only do you have to worry about a 20 lb goose hitting your head, you have to dodge a shower of crap. According to my husband this is quite funny to watch from behind; take it from me, it is less fun to experience.

2) Leaning right when only your left foot is out of the clipless pedals – not smart. That makes two falls since I got bike shoes and clipless pedals. Both in my driveway. The first hurt, really hurt – stll have a bruise and knot on my right, uh, glute. This second one yesterday evening (after several rides and more than 75 miles of city riding w/ no incidents) just hurt my pride.

3) Speaking of falling, it is amazing how many thoughts can run through your head in a split second. On Sunday’s ride, another cyclist coming the opposite direction passed wide , really wide, way into my “lane” of the trail, running me off the trail. My bike got squirrley, I went sideways. In the split second of realizing I was about to wipe out hard among all kinds of people; I went through a whole series of thoughts and emotions – anger, denial, fear, embarrassment, acceptance – and then remarkably relief, as I somehow regained my balance, got the wheels under me and kept on rolling.

4) Walnut balls make formidable road hazards. There is an especially egregious downhill section of road full of them right by my house….from a tree in my own yard.

5) Since I’ve started riding bikes, I am much more aware of hills while driving. From the gentle ones around my house, to the many not so gentle ones in the area. There’s basically no flat land to be found around here.

Stop reading now if you know me and have this view of me as a prim and proper thing – or if you are offended by talk of bodily functions.

6) Cold weather riding makes my nose run, really run. And try as I might I don’t quite have the moving snot rocket thing down. I don’t think the goal is to catch them on your sleeve. Of course, my 10 year old son thinks it’s very cool that his mom is even trying……..

Self-Image Mindshift

This weekend brought a couple of unrelated incidents that made me realize how my mental image of myself has, or maybe more accurately, is changing. Hubby and I were down in Chicago celebrating our 10th Anniversary. First up was a surprise trip to the spa for a massage and facial. When the massage therapist asked me if there were any areas in particular for her to focus on, I caught myself saying, “Well, I have a tendency to hold tension in my traps and my IT bands really need work”. Say what….

After the massage as I was waiting for the facial technician in the “relaxation” room, it hit me that I really was relaxing, fully comfortable in the robe they had supplied. That I hadn’t had to ask for a larger robe, or sit there in one that didn’t quite close – or worst of all, sized up by the receptionist at check-in and offered to swap out the usual robe for a plus sized one. Instead I was perfectly comfortable sitting there waiting in the normal robe, which actually felt large, wrapped over completely in front. Such a nice feeling, couldn’t help but smile.

Then again none of this really should have surprised me. Hell, we’d brought our bikes on this trip; planning to take advantage of Chicago’s Lakeshore trail and a promise of sunny not too cool weather. That would never have happened 15 months and 65 pounds ago. Yet as I’ve made these changes to healthier foods, healthier eating, regular exercise, gone down several clothing sizes; I’ve never really thought about the changes to my mindset to the way I thought about myself, the boxes I put myself into.

But this weekend, I realized that I think of myself as a bit of an athlete. That being active is not something I do, it is something I am. And that while my weight loss journey is not over (35 pounds to go), I have taken great strides forward, I have changed not only my body, but my mind.

Which leads to this morning’s ride. The trail along Lake Michigan is a gem. One enjoyed by a wide variety of people. Sure there were plenty of people out for a casual stroll, but for the most part on this Sunday morning the path was populated by other athletes – folks out for a serious work out. Some passed us, plenty we passed. It felt good, I felt strong. We rode 32 miles on the trail – a loop north to Foster Avenuse and south to about a mile past the Science and Industry Museum. But best of all, I felt like I belonged.

Pushing my limits………

Sometimes the universe just aligns….hubby out of town, son at a friend’s house, bike already loaded in the car…. rare afternoon with no plans, no deadlines. My first thought was “naptime”; but that thought was followed quickly by “go for a bike ride”. I’ve been doing my riding on the roads in an 8-10 mile radius of my house. Busy roads, many with bike lanes but still lots of cars. Sure, I’ve found a couple of parks with trails, but those are short, barely 1 or 2 miles. I’ve wanted to give the Glacial Drumlin trail a go, and I seemed to have the perfect opportunity.

While I like and appreciate the social aspects of cycling, the Sunday morning long rides with my husband, the shorter leisurely rides with my son; what I really I love about cycling is the solo aspect. How I can use it to tune out the rest of the world, connect with myself, push myself; get lost in the mental dialogue to go further, go faster, push through wanting to quit, push past the muscle fatigue. I find the same thing with running (though my body, esp. my hips, doesn’t seem to appreciate it), with training for or doing the half marathons, with yoga.

Left out from the Fox River Sanctuary in Waukesha, WI which is at the east end of this 52 mile trail. The first 12 or so miles are paved, the remainder hard packed gravel. My goal was to ride the entire paved portion, an approximately 25 mile ride out and back. This would be my longest ride to date. A decent test for what I could do. Looking at my training log, it was just three weeks ago that I was wondering if I could ride 10 miles, and here I was determined to go 25. This is an out and back ride, so if I made it to the end of the paved portion; I had no choice but to ride the whole way back. Seemed like the perfect opportunity to push to my limits.

On entering the trail, I immediately fell into a rhythm. Loved that I could just ride with no cars or traffic to worry about. Could wear earphones and listen to my music. Dutifully stopped at the self-pay box for a trail pass, but after that didn’t stop until I hit the halfway mark, was able to just ride. Passed a few leisurely riders along the way. Got passed by a “real rider” hunched over on his road bike. That just pissed me off, pushed me to ride faster. Discovered that I could maintain his pace, which was a pleasant little jolt.

Enjoyed the views of the hills around me, the trees, and the occasional stream to cross.

The town of Wales at the 7 mile mark offered restrooms and tables if I had chosen to stop.

Dousman had a quaint feel with its gazebo, and aptly located “Bicycle Doctor” shop.

Shortly, out of Dousman the pavement stopped. I’d made it to my planned halfway point, but wasn’t ready to stop. Continued on the gravel portion.

Realized shortly after passing the 14 mile marker that while I still felt fresh, I had the ride back, decided to turn around.

Last couple of miles was a little tough; legs were rubbery when I got to the car. But damn I felt good! Loved this first trail ride. Love knowing I can go further than I thought possible, but a bit sad that I’m making these discoveries in the fall, and will soon have to stop for a bit…because as this sign reminds me, there are other uses of this trail.

Glacial Drumlin Trail from Waukesha
Find more Bike Rides in Waukesha, Wisconsin

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