Monday, April 30, 2012

Out of the World Cool

Seems like lately lots of talk is going on about how motorists and cyclists can get along better. I'm sure this conversation has been going on for a long, long time and I'm just seeing it more now that I'm tuned in to the channels that are having the discussion. I agree wholeheartedly with Mia Birk; cyclists need to obey the rules of the road if they want to be taken seriously. Running red lights, riding against traffic, and not using turn signals can add up to someone getting hurt, most often the cyclist.

I'm a huge fan of cyclists doing everything within their power to be as safe as possible. I wear bright colors so motorists can see me better. I use signals to let motorists know which direction I'm going to turn. I stop at all red lights and stop signs. And now, to help with visibility even more, Hubby bought and installed this light on my bike for me. I think it's the bomb-diggity.

So cool!

Trying Out a New Look

With only a month before the pedals start turning, taking me out of Yorktown and on my way to San Fran, I'm thinking a new look for the blog is in order. I'm hoping for something streamlined, easy to follow, and easy to share if one is so moved. I'm liking this layout quite a bit and am going to give it a go for the next couple of days. Any and all feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


I slept in a sleeping bag in my new tent last night. I settled in around 9, and not too long into an episode of Twin Peaks I fell asleep. Rain started falling at 12:04 am. I know because I checked my phone when the pops against the rain fly woke me up. Thunder rumbled at 4:30 am. I know because I checked my phone when I awoke to a flash then the thunder that followed. I burrowed down into my sleeping bag, hoping to fall back to sleep, but when another flash lit up the inside of the tent, I decided to head inside the house. Lightning scares me. I snuggled down under the comforter and wondered how I was going to fare during the summer if a storm pulls me out of a peaceful sleep like just happened. I won't be able to just up and go inside my house to take comfort in being in my own bed. I'm going to have to deal with being scared. And uncomfortable.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Good News and More Good News

Good News! At the insistence of my hubby, I made an appointment to get a physical to make sure I'm in good enough shape to go on the ride this summer. After the usual question/answer session, the weight and blood pressure check, the "take a deep breath" routine, and the pressing on the belly to see if anything hurts, Doc looked at me and said, "I see absolutely no reason why you shouldn't do this ride. Give it all you've got." I hopped off the exam table and skipped out to the check-out desk.

More Good News! My total donations to date is now $6166. I am constantly in awe of how generous and thoughtful everyone has been. With 34 days remaining til day 1 of BTUSFMS, I'm now wondering if I can get the total up to $7000. I have some ideas in mind for trying to get some more donations, and with the semester winding down which is opening up more time for me, I think I'll give some of these ideas a whirl to see what happens.

The days are slipping by. Before I know it, June 1 will be here and I'll be on my way out of Yorktown. Just thinking this made the butterflies flutter.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Rules of the Game

The wind today, ah, the wind. I try to think of it as a friend, a training buddy since I usually ride alone. Most of the time, the wind and I get along. It pushes me to drop to the downs, to work on remaining still, to pedal full circle. Today, though, I found no joy in riding with the wind insistent on blowing upwards of 25 mph. The game it's been playing for nearly two months now has gotten old.

While I was feeling this way during my ride, I remembered Mom saying nearly the same thing about MS. I, at least, could downshift whenever I decided to ease up. I could even coast and not work at all if I wanted. With MS, Mom never got a chance to downshift or to coast. MS made all the rules and played dirty. If it wasn't muscle spasms one day, it was constant pain in her legs the next. If it wasn't numbness in her fingers for weeks, it was a ringing in her ear that kept her from sleeping. To try and deal with the ever changing rules of the MS game, Mom would just shake her head, grit her teeth, and say, "This is the pits."

So at mile 8 of my 30 miles today, I said, "This is the pits." But instead of downshifting or coasting to make things easier, I settled into the downs and concentrated on making full, powerful circles, working to keep my cadence and heart rate up. I wanted to make the rules for this game I'm playing with the wind. And I wanted to feel some pain. For Mom.

Good Stuff

Scrapertown from California is a place. on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Keeping A Story Alive

In December of 2010, I finished uploading my grandma's memoir to a self-publishing site and released it to be sold on Amazon. I had started working on her manuscript around 1994, taking it from her longhand to a word processing program. I'm pretty sure it was Word 3.1, or something like that. Thankfully, I knew enough about saving digital work then to save it in a format that would be compatible to different programs if need be. I completed transferring the manuscript in 1997, printed out all 200+ pages, took it to a copy store, and had several spiral bound copies made to present to my grandma. Her delight in having her book in hand was the only payment I needed. Her happiness made me happy.

In 2006, I came across a self-publishing site and decided to take Grandma's book and turn it into a "real" book, a paperback with a "real" cover and its own ISBN. At the time, I didn't have the skills to create a cover, and after several failed attempts, the book got put on the back burner. In 2010, I received a message from the self-publishing company that they were merging with another company, and the account for my grandma's book was now with the new company. Curious, I logged into the new company, saw they had a variety of templates for creating a cover, and started playing around with them. Within minutes, I had a cover completed for my grandma's book. After tweaking the cover over the next week, I decided to go ahead and release the book for sale. I spread the word to family that the book was ready for purchase then pretty much just forgot about it.

Until this evening. After a call from my uncle, Grandma's son, I checked into the self-publishing site to see just how many units have sold. I was thinking none since I hadn't received any royalty checks since March 2011. To my surprise, I found that there had actually been more sales through 2011 and into 2012. Not a whole lot, but some, which means there are unpaid royalties for Grandma's book. I know Grandma is smiling, knowing there are readers out there buying her book. I'm smiling, knowing Grandma's story, her voice, is alive and continuing though she is no longer with us.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Surviving Lincoln

Leaving Lincoln, Nebraska Saturday afternoon was eventful. We were ushered onto the plane just minutes after it had landed and the last passenger arriving in Lincoln had stepped through the door into the terminal. The Captain informed us in a  deep, stern voice that we had ten minutes to get everyone seated, the plane turned around and rolling down the runway, or we'd be stuck in Lincoln for who knows how long. Of course one person on the flight took this as, "I need to make a fuss about my seat assingment." Ummm, no. Sit down where you were told to sit and like it. Thankfully the young flight attendant wasn't in the mood to placate. She directed said fussbudget to her seat and helped her settle in. Mere minutes later, as the plane left the ground, I saw a nasty, jagged lightning bolt cut through the gray clouds. Way too close for comfort. Maybe another night in Lincoln wouldn't have been all bad.

Having a pilot brother, I knew our pilot wouldn't have taken off if conditions were too dangerous. I also had to believe our pilot would make all the right choices. Almost as soon as the plane left the ground, the pilot banked left, steering us away from the storm, and within a few minutes, the churning clouds with all their fury were behind us.

I arrived home later Saturday evening, after making our connection in Chicago, and though the weather made me a bit nervous, the landings of each flight were so smooth, so perfect that I had to tip my hat to the pilots.

To finish off the day, I climbed aboard Old Faithful and cruised around the neighborhood for a few minutes. Dorothy certainly had it right when she said, "There's no place like home."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sitting in Lincoln

Ughhh. No cycling for the last four days! Not only have I failed with the 30 days of biking, but I'm way behind now on training for BTUSFMS. Being a grown up with responsibilities bites sometimes.

So, I'm sitting in the Lincoln, Nebraska airport, waiting to board and head to Chicago then home. Rain is splattering against the large picture windows in front of me. Lightning is flashing. The wind is blowing (imagine that!). I'm trying not to watch the weather channel that continually loops the same doppler radar showing even stronger storms headed this way. Obviously Nature didn't get the memo that I need to be home. Today.

Not that the last few days here have been bad. They haven't. In fact, I've completely enjoyed the stay, getting to know my colleagues from other two year colleges that make up our region. We all went out last night after the board meeting and raised our glasses to one another. A group of middle aged English teachers in a retro bar, drinking Stella Artois, makes for a fun time.

But I want to go home now. Now I want to sit in my office and write. I have some ideas that are swirling and pushing at me. My newest read, A Blue Fire by James Hillman, is exactly what I needed to get me into the that space I need to be to put words on the page. I'm completely enthralled with how he presents the idea of "soul." I feel like his ideas are what I've been searching for for many years. I'm thankful I found him.

But now, one flight has just been canceled. I'm afraid ours is next.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Filling the Cubby

On Saturday, I went back to Wild Country to buy the sleeping pad I first looked at in January. With less than 60 days remaining before the ride begins, I figure I better start gathering the things I need. The sleeping pad was my first purchase. After four to six hours in the saddle each day, getting a good night's sleep will be important, and I want to make sure I have the one thing that will help ensure I get the sleep I need. The pad I bought is self inflating, which is very cool, so I won't have to sit and blow it up every evening. All I'll have to do is roll it out and let it do its thing.

After the trip to Wild Country, I went across the street to Vitesse Cycle and bought a new helmet. The helmet I have is fine, but after researching helmets and what makes one better than another, I decided to invest in a road cycling style helmet. It was a bit more expensive than the helmet I've been wearing (which came from a large, multi-sport, one-size-fits-all kind of place), and when looking at both helmets side by side, it's fairly clear the more expensive helmet is a better product. Hopefully, I'll not have to find out just how protective it is made to be.

Along with the helmet, I bought a new pair of gloves. My old gloves are just plain nasty. And worn out. They have lots of miles on them, along with lots of snot. No amount of washing can help them. My boys laughed when they saw the new helmet and gloves; they are color coordinated with my bike. Delightful Funny Son asked if I have a jersey to go along with the bike, helmet, and gloves. Of course, I told him. What kind of stylin' cyclist would I be without a complete matching outfit? He just rolled his eyes at me.

To help me begin getting a feel for how to pack my belongings, Hubby made me a mock cubby. Having the cubby right there in the dining room where I can see it every day is making the BTUSFMS ride even more of a reality. At this point I only have the sleeping pad and a Starbucks gift card in it, but I'm sure it'll start filling up over the next several weeks.

Next on the list of things for the cubby: a one-man tent and a sleeping bag.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

In Search of My Ideal Weight

For awhile now, I've been lamenting the fact that I have a spare tire around my middle that I can't seem to get rid of no matter what I do. Hubby, being the nice guy that he is, just laughs at me, saying I'll need that spare tire once the BTUSFMS ride comes around. Yeah, he's a really funny guy. He then goes on to say I'm delusional, and that if I complain about my "spare tire" in front of other women they'll beat the living daylights out of me. According to him, I don't have a spare tire. I see flab, though, and I really want it gone.

So yesterday, I picked up the latest Bicycling magazine because as I was walking by the rack, it practically screamed at me, "Hey! You! Get rid of that spare tire!" I looked over at it, and on the cover in bold letters was the title of an article on the inside that discusses how to get to your ideal cycling weight no matter if you're wanting to race, ride long distances, or just putz around. I could feel the hope welling up. Maybe I would finally find the answer to what I was doing wrong, and not getting to what I envisioned as my ideal weight.

At breakfast this morning, which included Ezekiel cinnamon-raisin toast, Greek yogurt, a banana, and a tall glass of water, I began reading the article. First I had to measure my wrist and the two bones in my elbow to determine if I have a small, medium, or large frame. I found out I am between a medium and a large frame. I have always known I'm not a small frame, but to find I'm actually between a medium and a large frame was enlightening. It was also a relief. I now am beginning to understand why all the clothes made for the "average" woman in America don't fit me.

I then entered in the numbers asked for to determine my ideal weight. The result? I am already at my ideal weight. I was stunned. Here I've been trying all kinds of food combinations, exercises, and making sure my heart rate stayed above 145 for an extended period in the hopes of taking off more weight. Obviously, my body knows better than I do.

With this new-found information, I'm going to try and relax about the whole spare tire thing. I'm not overweight. I'm at a healthy BMI. I can't remember the last time I was sick. I have a strong body that does what I ask it to do. Lots of people can't say these things. I should be thankful that I can. Yes, I am thankful.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

30 Days of Biking

Today is day 4 of the 30 days of biking challenge. Though the wind was blowing 26 mph with gusts to 32 mph, I ventured out to ride around the lake. Hubby joined me, and though he didn't find battling the wind nearly as fun as I did, he pushed through. The nice thing about today's wind was it wasn't cold. A warm wind on a warm day makes a huge difference in how the ride goes. Today's ride went, as Barney Stinson would put it, "Awesome. Totally."

Open Road

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Digging Deep

Yesterday I rode 71 miles, half straight into a cold, miserable wind. Granted, an 8 mph wind isn't much, but when the air is cold, the combination of cold and wind make for a difficult ride. Because I had already decided to ride at least 70 miles, I wasn't about to quit. Don't get me wrong; I really, really wanted to turn around and return to the comfort of my warm, comfortable home, preferably my cozy, most-likely-still-warm bed. Several times.

At mile 14, I stopped to eat some trail mix and drink some water, thinking both would be a pick-me-up. At mile 20, I stopped to sit on a concrete bridge railing, thinking more trail mix and water along with some  contemplation of life would be the magic combination for keeping me going. While I was sitting there, staring down at the murky water below, a man in a gray pickup stopped and said, "Don't jump. You're not high enough." I laughed, saying if I were to jump, I'd only be wet and colder than I already was. He asked me why I was out on such a chilly morning, so I told him all about BTUSFMS. I love telling anyone and everyone about the ride. And that's what got me going again.

From that point, I mustered the determination to continue heading towards Gibson City. I knew sooner or later I would be able to see the line of silos that mark the outskirts of the small town. Finally, as I crested a hill, I could see the silos about three miles to the southeast. It was almost at that same moment the clouds began to break up, allowing the sun to peek through and begin to warm the air. The relief I felt at seeing the silos I've felt one other time--the last half mile of my first century ride.

At Gibson City I found a bench to sit on where I ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and drank a Coke I bought at the Casey's (my first Coke in nearly six months--it tasted like heaven!). Though I wasn't too happy with how long it'd taken me to reach my destination, I reveled in the idea of riding home with the wind at my back. Slogging through the discomfort had to happen. It's the only way to really get ready for what awaits me come June.

Early Morning