My Life In Gear Has Moved!

Please follow My Life In Gear at www.mylifeingear.com.  I’m no longer writing at this WordPress site.

 

Serfas CK-1 Combo Kit 1 (Product Review and Giveaway)

I absolutely LOVE All Seasons Cyclist. He reviews so many cycling essentials in a clear, non-technical manner. This is yet another example of one of his great reviews. Plus, I entered to win the kit for my son’s bike. Shhhhh! Don’t say anything. His birthday is coming up soon. Anyway, read and enjoy one of my favorite cycling go-to resources. He’s like having the bike ship at your fingertips!

All Seasons Cyclist

Even if you don’t have a clue about how to repair a flat tire or make minor adjustments to your bike, you really need to carry a tire repair kit, tire pump and mini-tool with you on every ride. You might not know what to do with the tools, but usually someone with offer to help you—but without the right tools you might have a long walk home. The folks at Serfas recently sent me one of their basic repair kits, the Serfas CK-1 Combo Kit 1, to review. This kit includes the items needed to repair about 90% of the problems you are likely to have on a normal bike ride. If you would like a chance to win this kit just keep reading!

The tire pump in this kit is the Serfas BS-1D Big Stick Pump and it normally retails for $18. This pump is 11″ long…

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No Fun

We are about halfway up to the start of the singletrack from where this photo was taken. It’s a brutal hill in any weather, but the July heat made it even worse.

Two miles of hot, dusty gravel road. One mile, at least but it felt like much more, not riding my bike, but forcing it up the hill beside me. We weren’t even five miles into our ride and I was experiencing a new “first”. I was not having fun. My cyclometer wasnt recording my mileage. I was carrying the Camelbak water pack; something I hate doing because it adds another five or six pounds to the already large amount of weight that is my body on the bike.  Sweat poured off my body like water in my morning shower. Dust coated everything; my body, my sunglasses, my contacts, my bike tires.  I wondered, feebly, what kind of effect this dust was having on my chain, crankset, and derailleur.  I knew this meant work cleaning my bike later; a necessary inconvenience, but one I wasn’t in the mood for. A quick glance at my sketchy cyclometer says it’s 105 degrees. It’s really about 95, but it feels every bit of 105 today.  “Why am I here?” I wondered to myself. ” This is not fun.”

I told my son I needed to stop and rest. By this, I did not mean get off my bike and haul it up The Hill Of Death. I was already doing that. I really meant I had to stop. Completely. Sit down. Take my helmet off. Breathe. Clearly something was wrong. I never, ever have to stop. Not on a ride. Not like this. And never, ever this early in. I was tired.  I was depleted.  I was mostly very, very hot.  I can ride in rain and cold, if I have the right gear.  I can ride at night, usually without much gear at all.  The one condition that stops me still on my bike is the heat.  I’m not talking about just a warm day that seems bad until the air from riding your bike cools you.  I’m talking about that still, heavy, oppressive heat that makes even breathing hard.  Regardless of the temperature on the thermometer, when this kind of heat hits, I simply lose all power.  Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m at the age where, most of the time, I’m experiencing my own personal summer anyway.  So, when the weatherman says it’s 95, I’m experiencing 115 degree temps.  I simply melt when this happens.

We rested for about 15 minutes then we muddled on to another location, where there was a rock I could sit on in the shade. This location was a hundred feet from the start of the Payette Trail around Applegate Lake. We practically crawled to the start of the trail, me spewing misgivings the entire way when, usually, I am the one encouraging everyone else onward.  We ventured forth, deciding to tackle the singletrack trail for a little while, then turn back.

Immediately, I knew I was in trouble.  I was riding my brakes almost entirely on the descent which characterizes the first half mile or so of this trail.  My bike didn’t feel stable under me, but I think that was due to the fact that this was very rocky single track and I have become accustomed to the solid asphalt of the road.  I was already tired and in no mood to exert the required effort that manhandling a mountain bike on a downhill requires.  Further, I wasn’t exactly excited about packing my bike up that hill, especially after the hill I already climbed.  I let my bike roll for a few more yards, then I called out to my son, who’d disappeared from  view.  A few moments later, he appeared below me, his bike and his youth handling this trail with far more success than I. I told him I wanted to go back and he, surprisingly, agreed with me.  We turned our bikes around, rode back up as far as we could, trudged the rest of the way to the top, then rolled down the dusty road that we’d just walked up.

Three unknown boys sit contemplating whether or not to jump off the rocks at Applegate Lake in Southern Oregon.

Later, while lounging in the sun at the swimming hole that we discovered at Applegate Lake, we were reflecting on this experience.  Last year, at about this time, we made this very same ride.  Sure, we had to walk up that initial road, but I don’t remember feeling quite so spent at the top of it.  I also don’t remember feeling nearly this apprehensive when tackling the downhill.  We have done this ride twice, with minimal mishaps.  Last year at the end of the ride, I missed on a switchback, landed on my back wheel and tacoed the thing.  This cost me two days of ride time while my bike was in the shop.  Not something I was especially thrilled about, but neither was it a traumatizing event that left me scared to ever attempt this ride again.  We speculated about the heat, the fact that we’ve become used to riding the road, the fact that on a day like today, the swimming hole looked far more inviting than the trail.  There are any number of reasons for today’s ride fail.  All of these factors could have contributed to the dread I suddenly felt heading down that hill.  I don’t know.  I suspect, more than anything, I am not in the same mental and physical place I was last year, and something deep within me knows this.  Somewhere inside, I sensed I wasn’t up for the challenge of this trail.  I was too tired.  I would likely make mistakes that even I, as a rookie mountain biker, would know not to do.  I was afraid of the consequences of such mistakes.  I’d spent enough time in surgery this year.  I wasn’t about to sign up for another visit.  Maybe I’m still experiencing a wee bit of radiation fatigue.  Admittedly, this week is far better than last, and last week was better than the one before.  I’m feeling like I do have more energy every day and I am accomplishing more, though not nearly what I hoped and planned to accomplish by this time in the summer. More than the physical drain, I just mentally didn’t have the strength and the determination to make that ride today and I knew it.  Deep in my psyche somewhere, I knew I couldn’t handle it.  I’m not sure what that’s about or why.  It could be I just like the smooth flying sensation of the road as opposed to the adrenaline-driven jarring ride of  the singletrack. Maybe I’m just getting old.

Whatever it is, I am okay with it.

My son and I spent the rest of our day enjoying the water.  That was much more fun.

My son’s bike with mine behind it. Dusty.

I Don’t Wanna!

I love cycling. Cycling  is easier than walking.  Walking or jogging or running (should I actually get to that speed) is slow, tedious, laborious, and painful. Cycling is easy.  I just get on the bike and keep the pedals turning.  Steady, continuous, effortless, fast.  Well, until that roadie on the expensive Felt wearing the aerodynamic helmet and fancy kit zips by.

There’s not a day of the year that I don’t look forward to getting on my bike and taking her out for a spin.  I don’t care where.  I don’t really even care about the weather, as long as I have the right gear and as long as it isn’t icy. I might stay in if there is pouring rain…and standing water.  Water does make the stripes on the road awfully slick.  I’ve ridden in the mud, pouring rain, over fallen trees, on single track in the middle of December.  While I’m not exactly a beast when it comes to singletrack or downhill, I’m certainly not anything close to a fair weather cyclist.  My mantra, and the mantra of The SO (Significant Other)  and My Son is, “Even a bad day on the bike is a pretty good day.”

But lately, I’m ill, and I know I’m ill because I just don’t wanna.

I just don’t wanna ride.

Actually, that isn’t entirely true.  I do want to ride.  I just don’t want to do what it takes to get in the saddle and I’m not up for anything more than collapsing after I roll up into the driveway at the end of the ride.

While I’m on bike, though, I’m golden.

All those 50-year-old aches and pains disappear.  Any drama or stress I’m dealing with dissipates, because, seriously, I can ride 40+ miles in a day and want to go for more.  Problems?  Issues?  Really?  There aren’t many people my age, doing what I’m doing and even fewer women.  Let’s talk about strength, endurance and ability to mentally persevere.  Yeah,  you go try to take that two mile hill without coming off your bike, Mr. Financial Pressure and see how you do.  You go and try to keep pedaling at that rate Ms. Whatever Might Come Your Way.  I can take you you on.

See?

That’s the thing about cycling…at least…for me.

When I ride, it’s better than any drug, not that I was ever a druggie type.  (Just watch your baby-sitter get wheeled out of your home on a stretcher because of an overdose and you’ll never be tempted to even experiment with any kind of narcotic. Trust me.  And, no, I’m not making that last bit up.  It was terrifying, and the best drug awareness education I could have received.)  But I digress…

When I’m on two wheels, wind blowing past my face, feet clipped in, sun on my shoulders… I’ve become one with the bike.  I am truly invincible.

On all counts, I’m stronger than most anything life dishes out, on and off the bike, specifically because of my efforts on the bike.

Exercise, according to my surgeon and my oncologist, will cut my risk of recurring cancer in half.

Even if that weren’t documented by research, I’d love cycling because of how strong I feel when I’m riding and how I can note my progress with each mile, each hill, each ride.

So, what’s up with the “I don’t wanna” mentality?

I’m guessing this is just a side effect of the radiation treatments.  They warned me.  They told me I would experience fatigue for a while after the treatments were done. I’m hoping that’s all it is.  I mean, it isn’t that I don’t want to ride, but I just don’t seem to have the energy it takes to do all the prep and the after work.  Thank God I have people in my life that do that for me or I’d never ride these days.  I’d just sleep.  (Which, I hear, is probably not a bad thing either.)

But, I’m still a little worried.

What if this fatigued feeling doesn’t go away?  What if this is the new normal?  What if?  What then?

I think I would start by crying.

I can’t even think of it.

So…

I muster up the energy for another ride.

After all, once I’m on the bike, I’m golden.

And when I’m on bike…really…nothing else matters…I’m still strong and healthy and that is everything.

 

The Bike Guy

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Craigslist is a wonderful thing. When I moved from my old house last fall to the “Treehouse”I now live in, I got rid of virtually everything I owned. The Treehouse is 400 square feet larger than our old house, two story, and surrounded by large old cedars. In fact, one grows right up through our very spacious back deck. Since the Treehouse is much newer, having been built in 2005, than our old place which was a 1970’s style 1-story ranch home desperately in need of some updating, we were loath to bring anything into it that was not also newer (at least to us). I essentially sold all our furniture on Craigslist, except for a few choice pieces, and replaced it all with items I found on Craigslist. I even spun a few extra furniture deals in the process, mixed and matched table and chair sets to create the dining arrangement that I wanted, and sold the castoffs as a set, all the while making money on the deal.

When I’m not trolling the furniture section of Craigslist, I’m scanning the bicycle section. On a number of occasions I’ve seen ads for used bikes at reasonable prices from one particular person. I’m talking about really nice bikes: Treks, Cannondales, Specialized and the like. Apparently, he finds the bikes used, then fixes them up and resells them. Of course, he also sells the Schwinns as well. I’ve even responded to a couple of his ads, the last being for a balloon tire cruiser which he’d already sold by the time I called.

The other day, we were driving through the neighborhood to drop off one of my daughter’s friends and there, next door to the neighborhood corner market (which I happen to love, by the way), I noticed that a new shop had opened up. I was especially pleased to note that this shop, of all the kinds of shops it could be, was a bike shop. I love my new neighborhood for so many reasons. The addition of a bike shop, especially a bike repair shop, right around the corner, is just one more way this place keeps getting better and better.

The Fun Wheels needs a new seat. It has needed one for a while which is one reason I haven’t ridden it much lately. Today, we decided to take the Fun Wheels down to the new bike shop and see if they could order a new seat. The shop was closed (strange for a Saturday) but here is the sign that was on the door:

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It turns out that the new bike shop is none other than the Craigslist Bike Guy and he just happened to set up shop right around the corner from the Treehouse. Needless to say, I’m pretty stoked. I plan to get to know the owner very well, and maybe one day he’ll come across that used road bike that happens to be just my size (and the right brand and color, of course) for a price I can’t say no to.

The Bike Guy is clearly starting up on a budget. He’s outgrown his home and needs a shop. He’s opened the doors, but you can tell he’s keeping his overhead low, which hopefully will come back to customers in terms of reasonable prices on repairs and used bikes. I , for one, am doing my part to help him out by spreading the word to my small neck of the woods. I’m still completely loyal to the bike shop where I purchased my Specialized Ariel Elite, which is where I ended up going today. They will try to see if they can track down a new seat for the Fun Wheels. Even so, for those small things I don’t want to go across town for, The Bike Guy might prove to be convenient.

If you live nearby you might check out The Bike Guy. Maybe he’ll have the perfect bike for you.

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Goldilocks and Life Choices

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Sometimes the decisions you make alter the direction of your life forever. We make decisions every day. Most of the time we do this without thinking and these decision don’t dramatically affect the course of our lives. At other times, the decisions are huge and they change everything: whether or not to marry, to stay in a marriage or relationship, to take or refuse a job, to move from one location to another. When we are younger, especially if we happen to be making decent money and we don’t have children, reversing the impact of any decision is much easier. As we age, we may gain seniority in jobs, making it more difficult to relocate because doing so means taking a significant pay cut and/or losing some job security. When children become part of the family, their security, well-being, and safety, among other things, must be considered.

I’ve always wanted to live in a city. Not just the suburbs, but right in the city where you walked to the corner grocery, picked up the Met from down the corner, and really had no need for a car except when you were leaving town. I made some decisions early in life which, I think, may make my dream of ever living in a city an impossibility. At least, it may be impossible until I’m too old to be able to negotiate a move and adjusting to a new lifestyle. Now that I have children and a decent job with a level of stability, the likelihood that I will ever relocate, to a city or anywhere, is next to none. In these circumstances, it is easy for the adventurous spirit to feel a bit stuck.

Sometimes, even when we make decisions that take us away from our dreams, we still make pretty good decisions though we might not realize this at the time. Sometimes, our dreams and goals change or we add other dreams and goals into the mix. We then realize how our earlier decisions, which seem to be taking us away from what we wanted actually brought us closer to where we really wanted to be anyway.

The cost of living in a city, almost any city these days, is much higher than living where I currently live. Moving would mean a job change, loss of income and job stability, all factors I’m not thrilled about encountering. Health care services available in my area are outstanding and, for the most part, it is exceptionally convenient to get around almost anywhere by bike which is something I’m committed to doing as much as possible for as long as I possibly can. It’s a far greener and less expensive mode of travel. Quite frankly, I’m also a bit unhappy with the costs of vehicles and gas. Riding my bike is my way of protesting all of this excess damage to our environment. Plus, each mile I ride makes me stronger. I’m getting in shape. I’m training for old age which isn’t for cowards. The bike helps me get around, and combines my workout with my travel and entertainment, thus saving me time. I could definitely still ride in a city and I’m no stranger to that. The convenience of cycling here, though I don’t live in a city per se, makes me feel just a little less stuck in life.

Way back in the day, I did live in a city and I did live near a city. This city experience was short-lived and I’ve never gotten the city bug out of my system. Choices I made took me away from that life. Results of those choices keep me away now. Sometimes it makes me sad to think that as I age the likelihood that I may never realize my dream of being immersed in city life. There are days, and quite a few of them, where I don’t feel the least bit despondent about this. Yesterday was one of those days.

Southern Oregon, in my opinion, has perfect weather all year round. Winters are mild and snow rarely ever falls on the valley floor so riding year round is not only possible for the fair weather rider it is enjoyable if you have the right gear. If you like snow, there’s entry to experience most years just about 40 minutes away.

It rains in the winter and spring, like most places in western Oregon, but just when we are all just about ready to be sick of the rain, the sun emerges and bathes us in golden 80-degree brilliance which is perfect cycling weather no matter what time of day.

Throughout the year, there are only a few “too hot” days and not that many “too cold” days. Most of the time it is Goldilocks weather around here: just right. For a noob cyclist healing up after radiation treatments, who is about to reach that fateful half century date on the calendar, and who is working on getting shape via bike there really is no better place to be. Sure, it’s not the big city, but I think I’m okay with that. The decisions I made back in the day which took me away from city life and the ones I’m making these days which keep me here are turning out just right.

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A Day Just Perfect For Wasting

It’s one of those early summer days, just perfect for wasting.  It’s a warm, clear, zero-percent-chance-of-rain day in Southern Oregon.  It’s the kind of day that results in a greenway full of young lovers walking hand in hand, dog owners meandering back and forth disregarding the posted “Keep to the right” admonitions, and cyclists of all types rolling through.   I should be among them. But I’m not.

Instead, I’m home…which I don’t mind…wandering listlessly around the house trying to find some project or task that can both absorb me, and for which I will have the staying power to complete.  The Significant Other is off at his part-time job. (Yes!  He finally got a steady part-time job!) All my kids are gone, for the moment.  The youngest just headed off to her dad’s for Father’s Day weekend. The college student is away at college and won’t be coming home in between the end of her term and the beginning of her internship in Portland this summer.  The recently graduated child is off being recently graduated, enjoying her friends and working.  The son will return later, at which time, I’m hoping I have the energy to go for a bike ride.  Until then, it is just me, here, alone.  I love being alone.  I love being in my home and alone.  I almost never have a problem finding something to engage in.  In fact, I am the one who is most likely to be voted “The Person Who Has Too Many Things She Wants To Do To Have To Work.”  Today, something is definitely wrong.  I find myself feeling almost…not quite, but almost…bored.

It isn’t that there aren’t plenty of projects to be done.  There are.  Even as I peck these words out on my laptop from the upper deck of my town home, I hear the S.O.’s voice in my head suggesting laundry as a top choice to become absorbed in. It is, in fact, overflowing, and it does, in fact, need to be folded and put away.  Then, there is the garage, most of which, I’ve gone through, tossing decades worth of paperwork that no longer has any meaning in my life, but which I just never took the time to toss. I’ve worked the overwhelming pile down to a box and two 2-drawer file cabinets that I must go through and organize into a useful filing system.  There are several bins of school paperwork that managed to just get tossed into bins over the course of the year rather than being filed in the appropriate binders.  (I find there are binder people and there are file people.  I am most definitely not a binder person.  Give me a file and let me flip through it, please.  Binders, for me, always end up in bins or buckets…or files. I’m far to busy to take the time to carefully open the rings, select the pages I want, get them copied, then return them.  Forget that.  I’m the type that grabs the file and plans on the go.  When I’m done, it all goes back in the file ready to be pulled out again and used next year, this time with added notes and comments about what did not work.  If I really had my way, I would have neither bins nor binders nor files…I’d have an iPad.  It would save me so much time rummaging through the paper pile.  It would save space: good-bye binders and files.  It makes sense.  It is also a pipe dream for me, right now, as I look at the fairly large amount of medical bills I have yet to pay, combined with the expenses associated with now having two children in college.)  Organizing the garage and the remaining files would be a worthwhile project for an afternoon such as this. So would reading a book, going to get some tomato plants and beginning my veggie container garden, or going for a bike ride, or working on developing any one of my many blogs which I’ve neglected over the last couple of months.

There are any number of tasks that could absorb me.  The problem comes when I begin to consider my energy level.  There’s not a task here, including this blog post, which I think I’ll have energy to complete and I hate the idea of creating yet another unfinished project in my life.  I hate unfinished projects.  Just yesterday, my Mac crashed.  It’s possibly a video card going bad.  But it is something I now have to deal with, which I can’t because it will cost money, which I just don’t have. Another unfinished project.  I hate this.  I hate how life can sometimes be going along swimmingly, in fact, perfectly, if it weren’t for all the loose ends.

Yesterday, I had my three month follow-up appointment with my surgeon.  I always enjoy meeting with this man because, besides being a personable sort, he has this way of rendering highly technical medical information into easy-to-understand packages for me. Yesterday, he took a bit of time discussing what I might expect in the months and years to come.  He suggested that I’ll probably be feeling much better in the next couple of months as far as energy levels are concerned, but that I should expect it to take a year, maybe more, before I feel like this is finally behind me.  In short, I need to give myself permission to feel tired and to rest when I just can’t go on.

I wonder…is today’s almost bored listlessness just another way the fatigue is manifesting itself?

I told you I wouldn’t have enough energy to even finish this post.  I’m going to go take a nap.

The End

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We usually think of it as a bad thing; the end of a romance, a good book, a great concert, or fun vacation. Sometimes, even though they can be emotionally laden, endings can be positive. They can provide long awaited closure to the loose ends in life. They can be the end of stressful events, situations or unresolved dilemmas in life. Endings aren’t always a bad thing.

This has been a year of transitions or, more accurately, conclusions, for me. Endings. Finales. Mostly, life just goes on from one phase to the next, from one event, day or season to the next, without much fanfare. This year, I’ve noticed an unusual amount of endings to things that have been going on in my life, some of them for years. Things I’ve been working on cleaning up and moving off my plate are going away and, with them, the accompanying stress. I find it interesting that while 2012 has been an absolutely disappointing year, at least I can say that a great deal of the stressful chapters in my life are closing.

Since May of last year, I have been working on resolving the situation with my home which has become an overwhelming financial and physical burden for me. The tax break was nice, the hedge against inflation nice, the stress not so nice. Also, the fact that it gave me a negative net worth wasn’t exactly cheery either. I am pleased to note, that this chapter should be concluded by the end of July. That takes a huge amount of stress off my plate. I can’t say I’m disappointed. This signifies closure on one of the most unhappy and nightmarish periods of my life. For many reasons, I’m eager to say goodbye to this home and all it symbolizes.

My second oldest child is graduating from high school this year. We are in the midst of all the last minute preparations to close yet another chapter in our lives. For both of us it is an ending and a beginning of new things; new ways of being with each other as she adjusts to the demands and responsibilities of adulthood. While, she is not necessarily going far away to go to college, her role as a college student and theatre major will mean that she is, for the most part, not around. She will be making more of her own decisions and this reality ends my role in her life as it has been until now.

Another school year is winding down. This is always a bittersweet experience and this year it is even more so. It’s been a bumpy year. While it couldn’t be helped, I do wish it could have been different. I can’t change it now. 11 more days and this school year is a wrap.

For the last seven years, I’ve been driving around an older SUV. I believe the life of this vehicle is nearing an end. When I look at the cost of insurance for my 18-year-old who drives it now, combined with the cost of gas, I am certain that my days of driving any SUV around are nearly over. In fact, this brings me to recognize a fun new beginning in my life: that of transitioning from the car as my primary mode of transportation to the bicycle.

It took me almost the entire year to figure out a routine and how to make the 2.95 mile commute to work feasible, but for the last month, I’ve successfully commuted by bike to work, then to radiation treatments, then out for some riding time, then back home most days of the week. This has been wonderful for so many reasons. Obviously, the savings in gas costs is significant. It also means that I am able to get a 20+ mile ride done at least 5 days a week. I no longer have to worry about fitting a ride in after school or dinner or before it gets dark. I’m looking forward to the day when I can say goodbye to the old SUV for good, replace it with a more fuel efficient economy car then drive only when absolutely necessary. This chapter of car insurance hikes, exorbitant gas prices and spendy car repairs is one chapter I can’t turn the concluding page on fast enough.

The best news this week? Monday, I went in for my radiation treatment thinking I had 11 treatments left. I was informed that I have only five treatments left and, if I double up on one day, I will be finished with treatments on Friday. So now, at the time of this writing, I have only two treatments left. My short, little journey with cancer diagnosis and treatment is ending. I’m going to miss the techs, the bike commute across town, and the great routine I had worked out, but I can’t wait for my skin to heal, my energy to return and summer to finally and officially arrive.

Some goodbyes are just good.

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Suddenly Summer, But Some Sad Stats

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There were rumors all week that this weekend would sport some glorious weather. I almost didn’t want to get my hopes up because the last several weekends boasted predictions of sun, but the actual weather, while rideable, proved somewhat disappointing. Further, it rained consistently all week long. I wasn’t holding my breath.

I am not a fair weather cyclist nor am I wimpy when it comes to riding, but I decided pretty early on in this cycling venture that a career as a downhill racer was something I was just a bit too old for. I tried some trails. I even braved some single-track around a lake in the mountains near where I live and I was actually getting the hang of it. Mountain biking and downhill definitely have their positive points, especially if you are a thrill-seeker. It just took me one good spill, where I missed a turn on a switchback and ended up coming off the bike, to convince me that I was leaning toward becoming a roadie. (This was the same ride that drove home the importance of being in the right gear and underscored, yet again, that timing is everything. Shift into gear before you hit the incline.) I ended up putting the bike down in thorns and rocks and landing on top of the bike. This put the bike in the shop for a new wheel which took out two days of riding last summer.

Mountain biking definitely increases my odds of needing repairs on the bike, at least while I’m learning. This is something I have no patience for. I want to just get on the bike, put my head down and ride. Coming off the bike, for any reason except food and beverages, is annoying. The fact that I am pushing 50, less agile than I used to be, and very unskilled when it comes to technique, means that mountain biking is also potentially life-threatening. Of course, any kind of cycling has its risks, but for me, it seemed clear that road was probably going to suit my temperament and patience level better than the trail…unless the trail is relatively smooth.

So, while I’m not courageous enough to try to excel at technique on the trail, I’m certainly willing to ride in just about any conditions except snow, ice or standing water from torrential rain. The weather forecast, for the most part, is irrelevant. But there is just something about riding with fewer layers of gear on. So, I found myself hoping again that this weekend’s forecast would be as predicted. It was, but in spite of the beautiful weather, our riding this weekend was pathetic.

Friday morning the weather was a bit spotty, but by Friday afternoon it was rocking a nice 70-something degrees. We were delayed in getting out due to tube replacement and repair, but we still got in 17 miles. One of the tube repairs didn’t hold so toward the end of our ride the SO had to keep stopping to pump up his tire. That was frustrating, but at least we could roll home instead of walking.

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Saturday dawned clear, exactly as forecast. Sadly, due to being out in the middle of the night because of an emergency with one of our cats, the SO, was not feeling up to hauling himself out of bed at 7, in order to repair his tire and be on the bike by 8 so that we could meet up with the Velo Club for the 23-mile ride we’d planned on. That was pretty disappointing because we couldn’t ride later due to having a number of things planned. Saturday ended up being a wasted day where cycling was concerned.

Saturday evening we entertained a good friend at our place. The SO picked up a bottle cheap red wine and we barbecued hamburgers, sipped wine and sat out on our back deck in the shade of cedars and talked for hours. I think it was midnight before we turned in.

Cycling Tip # 348: Too much cheap red wine and a late night will ruin all chances for a morning ride.

Sunday dawned bright and clear. I, on the other hand, couldn’t even wake up until ten. It was another couple of hours before my head stopped hurting and I could get moving. I was determined to ride, so at about 1:30 in the afternoon we rolled out.

Cat’s Cycling Tip #487: Cycling with a hangover is painful.

Okay, I didn’t really have a hangover. Wine, of any kind, just doesn’t agree with me anymore. I end up with a massive headache and a sluggish feeling for a good 24 hours after, even if I only have one glass. Though I had no headache nor nausea, I was feeling that sluggish feeling and this made the riding a challenge today. Add in the fact that it was midday and 86 degrees, and I had the makings of a grueling ordeal instead of my usual enjoyable time on two wheels.

We decided to just slow things down and not push. The effort of pedaling was challenge enough. By about mile 11, I was beginning to feel much better, still weary, but much, much better. The rain began to fall during our last mile and a half. Big drops. Hot rain. It felt great.

We ended up cycling 39 miles for the weekend which is dismally pathetic, in my opinion considering it was such perfect weather.

I’m already looking forward to next weekend.

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A 100-Mile Weekend

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The first weekend in April was a three day weekend for me due to a school reduction day. It was also projected to be very nice weather so Saturday morning the SO and I were rolling out by 10:30.  I had a plan in mind.  I wanted to try to ride a hundred miles in three days.  I wasn’t entirely sure we were going to be able to make it.  After all, we hadn’t really ridden for a few weeks since my last surgery and I have a way of biting off way more than I can chew.

We rolled out.  I’d made arrangements for us to meet up with the Southern Oregon Velo Club for our first group ride ever.  The plan was that we would meet up with the Slo-Mo group (average pace of 9-12 mph) at 1:30 that afternoon.  I thought it would be a good opportunity for us to learn to ride in a group without the worry of us getting dropped from the ride for being too slow.  The problem was that the scheduled ride was not going to be long enough for us.  So, the plan was that we’d just ride south toward Ashland on The Greenway watching our time in order to time our arrival back at Bear Creek Park (a large centrally located park in the area) in time to meet up with the other Velo Club members.

It turned out that this was a great plan.  We rode on the greenway to Exit 19, at a nice leisurely pace.  It was, after all, my first lengthy ride since my last surgery.  Two weeks out of the saddle is too long. Once we got to Exit 19 we figured we should turn around if we wanted to make it back in time to meet up with the club members.  We made it back in plenty of time and enjoyed a nice ride with some other cyclists.  The pace this group rides is just a little slow for us, but it was a great opportunity to meet some other cyclists in the valley.  After all, we’d only been club members for almost a year, but hadn’t ever done anything with the club. It was time.

Halfway through the ride, everyone stopped at the Bad Ass Coffee Company at the downtown location.  We stopped along with the rest and had some refreshments.  Instead of heading back to the starting point with the rest of the club members, we decided to head on back toward home.  We had our 40 miles in for the day and were feeling great.

The next day we put in 37 miles, again, on the greenway.  On Monday, my son joined us for a shorter, but brisker ride of 27.63 miles.  My son took the pull home in some pretty strong headwinds. That was really fun.  We clocked an average pace for the ride back of 16 to 17 mph.  We were sore, but happy.  100 miles in three days.  If I can keep up that pace throughout the summer, we should really be able to stack some mileage on.

Unfortunately, the rest of April wasn’t nearly as glorious as this one weekend was.  We ended up riding 205 miles in April.  Not bad for only being able to ride on weekends and for also starting radiation treatments.  It is an improvement over March’s 129.59 miles.  I’m definitely anticipating a better month in May.