Friday, August 31, 2012

The Pear Tree at Mile 32

This pear tree, along with a towering oak, were the only two trees in a swath of grass next to the cornfield. Both were beautiful trees, but the pear tree captured my heart. Look at how much fruit the tree bears. Look at the limbs bent from the weight of the pears. And the rosy skin on some just beckons one to pick and sink her teeth into the flesh. I didn't, though, thinking because of how close the tree is to the corn, it may have received a misting of pesticide if the field had been sprayed. Maybe not, but I wasn't going to take a chance. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Sort of Happiness

As soon as my office hours ended today, I gathered up my belongings and headed out. Not quite ready to turn the bike towards home, I instead went to a coffee shop just a couple blocks beyond the trail to sit and read while enjoying a caramel mocha latte. While waiting for the latte, I decided to add a piece of coffee cake to the mix. Taking both to a table outside, I kicked back, opened the Kindle to A Moveable Feast by Hemingway, and relaxed for a bit. I started this book nearly a year ago. Now almost finished with it, a section I read today spoke to me. Hemingway describes how some people find it difficult to live outside accepted standards. These people were constantly badgering him to conform by wearing certain clothes, having a certain hairstyle, etc. Hemingway says, "They knew nothing of our pleasures nor how much fun it was to be damned to ourselves and never would know nor could know." A bit later, he says, "That is the sort of happiness you should not tinker with but nearly everyone you knew tried to adjust it." I feel this happiness while on a bike, riding along and listening to the whir of the tires, feeling the air against my face. I feel this happiness when reaching the top of a hill and shifting to a lower gear, gaining speed, then coasting down the other side. I feel this happiness when in the drops, my arms and shoulders settling into a comfortable exertion while the legs find their rhythm. Because most of my friends and family don't cycle, they don't know these pleasures, and unfortunately, most likely never will.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Favorite Season Nearing

I wasn't even out of the driveway this morning when the geese flew overhead. I could hear them coming before I could see them, so I hurriedly pulled out my camera and tried to get the zoom figured out before they arrived. They were heading south. I was heading north. The chill in the air hinted that fall is just around the corner.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mountain Bike Dilemma

One of the local bike shops loaned me a beautiful mountain bike to play with for a couple of days. Unfortunately, rain moved in and drenched the trails, leaving them too muddy to ride yesterday as well as today, so I didn't even get to try out the bike in a proper setting. And I have to return the bike tomorrow. Sad face.

Just to get some idea of how the bike feels, I took it across the street and rode up and over piles of rubber playground mulch the school district had dumped a couple of days ago. While not the same as riding trails, I had a bit of fun. I confirmed, too, what I had initially thought: I could really get into this mountain biking thing. The thrill (I know, that's probably overstating how much fun I was having) of feeling the bike maneuver up and over the piles just made me want to do it over and over. I was like the kid out having fun and being called to come inside by Mom because it was getting dark.

The problem I see with getting the mountain bike is spending even more time on a bike, be it the road bike or the mountain bike, and away from the family. When I brought the bike home, my kids just shook their heads. I encouraged them to admire the bike, but they simply replied that their mom is crazy. Lovely Beautiful Daughter went so far as to say the money I've put into biking would have gone a long way to buying her a car. Perhaps. My response to her was, "Get a job." Thankfully she's a good natured young lady and saw the humor in the situation.

Her response, though, made me pause. In addition to being away from the family more, I would also be using a chunk of money to further my happiness rather than helping my daughter. I'm torn. Maybe a middle ground can be reached? A less expensive mountain bike? Her getting a job? Each of us meeting halfway?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Rethinking My Thinking

This morning I went out for a ride, eventually getting 51 miles in. My desire was to try and do 40 miles at an average of 18 mph. At the 20 mile mark, I was at 18 but I was also out of gas. I slowed down for a bit, actually for 10 miles, then decided to eat my PB&J sandwich to see if it along with the sports drink would give me a boost. The next ten miles went better. I was able to keep the average speed at 17.1, but because I was truly fatigued by the 40 mile mark, I slowed way down to finish off the last 11 miles.

So now I'm wondering if I should do the endurance race next Saturday. I know I can go for six hours without any problem at all. Me being the person that I am, though, was thinking I should shoot for a respectable average speed for the six hours, and in my mind that respectable speed is 18 mph. After today, I know I won't be able to do it. 17 maybe. But 18 is most likely not going to happen.

Hubby chalks my fatigue up to a medical procedure I underwent on Wednesday, and the meds I was on. He thinks my body is still working to heal. I feel fine, back to normal even, but maybe there are still some residual effects of the meds and the procedure. Maybe.

What I should probably do is rethink my goal for this race. It is, after all, my first endurance race. I should just go to learn the ropes, to enjoy meeting new people, and to just finish. I should. How do I convince myself of this?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Weep(ing) Little Lion (Wo)Man

As I sat at my desk last night, getting into One Mile at a Time by Dwight R. Smith, I heard a song coming from my daughter's room, a song I heard many, many times during the summer. I came to think of it as the ride theme song because two of the young route leaders played it often. I don't know if it was reading Smith's story about getting started on his epic ride of the perimeter of the US or hearing the lyrics of that song, but all of a sudden I was in tears. Maybe it was a combination of the two.

This morning I got up a daybreak, pulled on my shorts and BTUSFMS jersey, and headed out for a short ride. The cool air helped wake me up, and though I wanted to just keep going, I turned around at the 6 mile marker and headed home to get ready for work. Twelve miles was better than none. After showering I asked Hubby to check if the Pro Cycling Tour highlights from yesterday were on. I already knew who had crossed the finish line first on Day 1 of the tour, but I wanted to see the finish as the riders had gone to Telluride, one of our stops during the summer. The highlights started and on the screen appeared the route the riders had taken. Dolores. Stoner. Lizard Head Pass. I knew these places! I had ridden this route. As the cameras followed the riders, I once again found myself in tears.

A sadness is clinging to me, and I can't seem to shake it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Loving My New Tatt!

Hubby says it gives me an "edge." Friends told me now I'm truly "badass." One of my most favorite family members said, "You crack me up." It's funny how people react when they see my new tatt, but for me, it is a constant reminder of all my new friends from the ride this summer, all the beautiful scenery we witnessed as we rolled along at 15 miles and hour (sometimes only 7 miles an hour when we were climbing mountains like Monarch Pass), and Mom. Though the ride is only a teeny tiny fraction of my entire life, it's impact on me has been way bigger than I had ever dreamed.

Monday, August 13, 2012

End Of, Beginning Of

I had to report back to work today. After a two hour meeting and two hours of sitting at my desk, I had to pack it in and call it a day. When I said goodbye to a colleague who'd been there since early morning and, unfortunately, most days during the summer, he laughed, saying, "You fought a good fight." At this rate, I may not be ready for classes come next Monday. I knew my summer of cycling across America would have some kind of an effect on me, and I'm beginning to see just what that effect is.

I am very, very rarely late getting to work. I try to be at least 15 minutes early for meetings and for classes. Today, I walked into the meeting just as it started. While I sat at the table, trying to listen to the opening remarks by our new VP, I realized I'd forgotten my keys to my office. I'd also not thought to put a pen and paper in my bag, so I had nothing to write with or on during the meeting.

After the meeting, I returned home to find said keys. They were right where I'd put them in May.

When I arrived back at my office, I saw I had a voicemail. For the life of me I couldn't remember the password to access it. I tried all kinds of combinations, but nothing allowed me in. I just hope whatever the message is it's nothing really, really important.

Then I started in on all the emails from the summer. After a few minutes, I just decided they weren't worth the time and effort to go through, so I deleted them. Only those from the Chair and the Dean received attention. My inbox is now cleaned up.

That was my first day back to work. Six months ago I would be frantic at how unproductive I was, beating myself up for not getting more done. Today? Today I simply smiled as I walked out the suite doors, down the steps, and out of the building. A cool breeze was blowing out of the northeast. Dark gray clouds threatened to let the rain loose. A flock of geese flew low overhead, making me wonder if we're in for an early fall.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Taking a Break

This week I'm going to take a break from the blog. Thanks for following along during my journey across the US. I appreciate all of the support and encouragement. I hope you all have a wonderful week.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


And now it's done.

One day ago, I arrived in San Francisco after 61 days of cycling. 3785 miles. From the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast. With a group of people, strangers when we met in Yorktown, who are now my friends. 

Walking off the ferry that took us from Vallejo to the San Francisco port, the people waiting to board smiled and congratulated us. Because Hubby had arrived the evening before and spent the night in my tent with me at our last campground stop, I was searching for him amongst the crowd. Instead, I saw my brother and his family waiting. Them being in San Francisco to greet me was a complete surprise, a wonderful gift I will treasure for the rest of my life. 

The afternoon and evening was a whirlwind of activity, with a reception, the tire dip in the Pacific ocean, and saying goodbye. I felt like I was on a merry-go-round, sort of seeing what was going on and getting bits and pieces, but at the same time, some of it was a blur. It wasn't until this morning, after some sleep, after breakfast, and after we were on the road heading towards Nevada that I let the tears slip.

I already miss being on my bike, with my friends, on the open road.