Tuesday, May 26, 2009

One Covered Bridge Loop...minus the covered bridge

We got up early on Saturday morning to do a 17 mile ride known as the One Covered Bridge Loop. Presumably, this means we would have seen one covered bridge. This ended up not being the case because we missed a turn, but we had a great ride anyway! We started out from our house right at 7:30AM, so there were few people on the road at that hour. We passed a few other cyclists and joggers on our ride, but not too many. Even though we counted this as a training ride, we weren't trying to set any speed records, so we stopped and took pictures and enjoyed the scenery. Frederick County farmland is beautiful and, thankfully, wasn't all that smelly during our ride.

I'm totally getting some sporty sunglasses so I can stop wearing my fashiony ones. The funny thing is I used to only have sport sunglasses, but, uh, I broke all of them.

The lovely Frederick County countryside

I really enjoy the weird things I see when I'm on my bike. This time, the weird thing I saw was an old man using a metal detector on an elementary school playground. As this is an area with a lot of history, chances are the old man was searching for old bullets and other Civil War artifacts. However, I like to amuse myself by thinking that he was actually prospecting for a 1st grader's lunch money.

I finally busted out last year's birthday present from Alyssa: my Garmin Forerunner 305. It's an all-round awesome device and I loved being able to look down to my wrist and see how far we'd gone and just how fast we were going. Or how slow. Ok, how slowly I was going. I won't share that data here since it will make us look terribly pathetic, but once we get some less embarrassing times, I'll share those.

Forerunner, y'all!

Alyssa in her Team Fatty gear

Lying down in the grass/tick patch

We were on our way home when I spotted this turtle in the middle of the road. It's not a road with constant traffic, but there's enough where the turtle could have gotten smashed. So, I picked up up, avoided getting turtle pee on me, and put it across the road. I just hope I put it in the direction it wanted to go.

Alyssa and I are keeping our fingers crossed that we get to do this ride when we're in New York for her granny's birthday this weekend. I'll let you know!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ride of Silence

On Wednesday night, Alyssa and I participated in the Ride of Silence. This was part of a worldwide ride in honor of cyclists who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roads. The whole ride was conducted at a slow pace, paying special attention to the rules of the road and using only hand signals with the other riders.

Alyssa and I rode to a middle school that's about 1.5 miles from our house to meet the other riders. Our ride leader went over the rules of the ride and read a statement about why we were doing it before turning it over to all of us for introductions. Some people on the ride had lost friends in bike accidents, so they mentioned that with their introductions.

I was a little self-conscious starting out. This was my first group ride and these were cycling people. Alyssa is a cycling person.

You know who I'm talking about. With the exception of one other woman, they were all in their cycling jerseys and their spandex and their pedal clips.

I rolled up in my t-shirt, cargo shorts, and sneakers looking like a total n00b. I might end up being a cycling person one day, but I'm not there yet. I should say, though, that everyone was very nice.

Once we started riding, I loosened up and enjoyed myself. The ride was actually very relaxing. There is usually so much noise and chatter in my everyday life that being absolutely quiet for an hour and a half was a welcome deviation. We rode all over downtown Frederick and the immediate outskirts of downtown at a nice pace. I was getting a little worried toward the end of the ride because it took a little longer than expected due to stop lights and traffic, so it was getting to the point where I didn't want to be out on the road on a bike. Alyssa has lights all over her bike, but I don't yet. Fortunately, we ended the ride while it was still light enough for us to haul ass home.

So, that's my first group ride! I'll write later about the training ride we did this morning.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Another ride to work

I rode my bike to work again yesterday. I don't know what came over me.

It was a nice ride, too. The sun was out and the temperature was probably in the high 50s. Traffic was still fairly light because the semester is over at FCC, so there were still not a ton of cars on the road. It was definitely more trafficky than Friday had been, but I made it to work in about the same time.

Going home was not an ideal ride. I went a different route than I had taken home on Friday and it was a little scary. The road I was on is not in the best condition with lots of ripples in the road and slight potholes, so I was having to avoid that mess and not get hit by a car. At one point, I hit a ridge in the road pretty hard because a car drove by me really closely - probably intentionally - and I had no way to go around it. So I bumped it hard and my whole bike went a little cattywampus and my tire pump fell off. It made an awful clatter as it hit the road and I was convinced that I had lost some key component to my bike, like the chain or something. However, when I was able to keep on peddling and looked down to assess, I saw it was only the pump that was gone and I was relieved. I actually hauled ass the rest of the way home because I was so keyed up from having a close call with the car.

Alyssa and I are supposed to go on an organized ride tonight of about 12 miles. I'm feeling a little under the weather, but I'm hoping to rally to actually go on the ride. She assures me I'll be able to handle it, so I'm trusting her. I keep my expectations of my performance low, so I aim to not humiliate myself.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sunday in Pictures & Bike to Work Day

Because I am determined to document this process fully, I took pictures of our bike ride on Sunday. Well, I took pictures before we left and then at the halfway point when we stopped and I complained about the wind. Sadly, I wasn't able to snag a picture of the little girls flying past me in the grass, but I'm sure there will be other humiliating moments I can capture for posterity.

Oh! First, let me just say this: I have transitioned back to the tiny seat. About a year ago, Alyssa got me a fat girl seat because she thought it would encourage me to ride more, but that clearly didn't happen. Then Alyssa told me the tiny seat would be more comfortable on a long ride than my fat girl seat and last week she changed it out for me. I took a picture.

I thought about going seatless, but then thought better of it.

Sunday ride time! Notice how Alyssa looks happy as she walks out of the house with her bike. Sadly, this is not a facial expression that came naturally to me before our ride.

My default expression was more like this.

Or this.

Honestly, what is she smiling about?

In other news, I rode my bike to work today as a participant of Bike to Work Day. Alyssa has been encouraging me to ride to work for years now, but I was very apprehensive about this because I am afraid of weekday car traffic. However, with all of this cycling I'm supposed to be doing, I figured this would be the day to start. I began the day by riding to the downtown train station with Alyssa to pick up our swag: a t-shirt, water bottle and a flashing light. We hadn't been there 3 minutes when Alyssa found out she had won something in the raffle! I, of course, never win anything, so I took off back home to pack up my bag to get going to work while Alyssa headed off to the bus station on her bike like she does every day.

After I got loaded up, I took off on my bike and, I have to say, it was pretty enjoyable. I was blessed with lighter than usual car and bus traffic today because the public schools were on a two hour delay, so I was able to ride on the road with minimal worry about being run over. I got to work in a little less than 20 minutes, only a little longer than it takes me to drive. I was sweaty and had helmet head by the time I walked into the office, but, honestly, I don't look so stylin' on my best days, so it's kind of a wash. I remembered to put deodorant in my bag and I liberally reapplied that, but I didn't remember a brush, so my hair kept its "brushed with a wagon wheel" look all day long. In a strange way, it actually made my hair look a bit nicer.

Like my friend Jenn who rode her bike to work for the first time today, I, too, was struck by the realization that Bike to Work Day actually meant I had to ride from work. Complicating matters was the fact that I needed to run by the paint store before they closed at 5pm. I ended up leaving work about 10 minutes early to make sure I'd have plenty of time and it worked out perfectly. I walked into the paint store at 4:40, got another can of stain for our doors, and was on my merry way. The employees asked me if I had biked to work today and I told them, yes, I had. They praised me for it, which was unexpected, but nice.

Not a bad first bike commute! Due to the sweat factor in the warmer months, I don't know that I really want to make it an everyday thing, but I would definitely be open to doing it more regularly.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

We rode today!

This was a very busy weekend. We had Alyssa's mom and dad in town for a visit and today we hosted Alyssa's 30th birthday brunch. After everyone left, Alyssa suggested that we go for a ride to work off some of the biscuits and gravy and other goodies I'd made for the brunch. Today was the first good weather day we've had in what seems like forever, so there was no reason to not go for it. Alyssa picked out route, which was to ride out by where I work and then a little bit beyond and back. It was only 8 miles, but at least I finally got on the bike.

I'll just be honest here: I was not enjoying myself for about the first 10 minutes of the ride. Alyssa was riding way ahead of me and I was getting frustrated that I was so far behind. I didn't have my sunglasses on, so I had things flying in my eyes. And, even though the temperature was right around 72 degrees, the wind was pretty harsh. I figured I was probably being a baby, but when we were got to where I work, I asked Alyssa if the wind was bad or if it was just me. Alyssa confirmed that the wind was, indeed, blowing pretty hard and that it was making the ride annoying. I trust her opinion because she rides her bike just about every day as part of her commute, even in the dead of winter, so I feel like I'm not as big of a pansy as I feared I might be. Once she confirmed that this wasn't a cake ride, my enjoyment level went up. I guess I'm a masochist.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that two girls who appeared to be about 8 or 9 years old went flying by me on their pink and purple bikes with handlebar streamers. They didn't just go past me on pavement, either. No, they went screaming through the grass while I huffed and puffed up the slight incline of the street. Awesome.

The most entertaining sighting of the day was a woman painstakingly attaching Betty Boop stickers to the rear window of her car. Anytime I see something like that on a car, I just assume that the person driving it had to have bought it with that stuff on it. I mean, no one would willingly put those things on their car, right? Yeah, well, apparently they do.

So, Ride #1? Done.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The first setback

The weather has been abysmal here this week, so no training has been going on. And, you know, my cycling shorts didn't fit, so I clearly couldn't start without those.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Easy does it.

We still haven't started training, but in positive news, my cycling shorts and socks arrived in the mail this morning! I think that means I'm already halfway there as far as 100 mile readiness, don't you? I haven't even tried the shorts on, but I reckon I will probably resemble a sausage in its casing, which is nothing but sexy.

I'm hopeful our training will begin tomorrow. It would have started today, but we realized that we have way too much going on to get in our first training ride. I had to finish icing cookies for our friend Ruth's baby shower this afternoon and we are running in tonight's Twilight 5k. Not wanting to feel overwhelmed, I suggested we might do our ride tomorrow and Alyssa agreed that was a smarter move. Of course, we also have to ready the house for the arrival next weekend of Alyssa's mom and dad and Alyssa's Big Country Birthday Brunch. There just aren't enough hours in the day. Or, you know, work sucks up a lot of the most functional hours.

I'll post tomorrow whether we ride or not.