Sunday, September 14, 2014
For all those Sparkers out there sill looking for something that sets you on fire, lights you up like a neon sign and makes you realize that THIS is what you were born to do: KEEP LOOKING! Keep pushing, exploring, trying out new activities, new adventures. There isn't anything more rewarding than working hard to build a life filled with SPARK and getting out to celebrate it!
I had originally intended to attempt a VLOG but it didn't appear as though it was loading properly so instead I posted the videos from today's ride at YouTube. I included a few messages along the way:
My biggest WOO-HOO of the ride:
More thoughts & views:
Most of today's ride was solo, but I had the pleasure of bumping into another bike club member around the half-way mark. He joined me for the 2nd of my big climbs today and we had fun chit-chatting along the way.
I loaded my bike with 30# of gear in preparation for the Catskill Mountain self-supported tour: 50 miles, almost 3,000 feet of climb and one absolutely GORGEOUS day as you'll see in the videos.
Toward the end of the ride I had one little (in comparison to the two mamba-jamba climbs earlier) climb. It was one of my least favorite types of climbs though: a 90-degree turn BAM! Right into a wall of climb...no ramp up in advance, just a granny slog. Feeling tired from the bigger climbs earlier in the ride, I had a flicker of self doubt: was I going to make it?
That was when I had this thought:
The only things between me and the top of this hill were my legs and the Will To Make It Happen! DONE!
And during that climb I transferred that thought, realizing it applies under so many circumstances as we build our lives filled with SPARK: navigating through the treacherous supermarket with its abundance of sugar/salt/fat bombs, how to make it to the check out lane without succumbing? Remember the thrill of the pay-offs, the awesome things I can do with my body that were inconceivable prior to finding my SPARK! Just like locking into my grannie gear for those tough long climbs, lock into The Will To Make It Happen!
This is no infomercial: this is our LIFE! We can DO THIS!
I am psyched and ready...lemme at those mountains!
Monday, September 08, 2014
Yesterday was such a roller-coaster of experiences both out in the world and the internal dialogue and decision-making almost constantly roiling and percolating.
I have another opportunity for a self-supported tour coming up which is going to be led by the same fellow that led the incredibly satisfying Cape Cod tour I did last Sept. This one is shorter, however much MUCH more intense! It's going to be in the Catskill mountains, four days of 50-60 miles per day, fully loaded with gear (tent, sleeping bag, clothes, food) which is around 30 extra pounds and climbing around 3500 feet per day. Very daunting!
Sunday morning I decided that I would load up my bike with all my gear and embark on a 60 mile ride to test my meddle as a means of deciding whether or not to choose to make a commitment to join in this Catskill tour. This has been a relatively weak year of cycling for me with all my blood thinner worries keeping me off the bike until late June or so.
The OTHER most important decision I made yesterday morning concerns two critical strategies of maintaining my best health which I have chosen to neglect over the past couple of months: weighing in and tracking my food.
I'm sure you may have noticed my lack of discussion about this in my blogs as of lately...always a bad sign. If I'm not talking about it, odds are I'm not doing it. I've allowed that special sauce of stress at home & work with the added fun & distractions of vacations & special times undercut my resolve and erode those two essential self-care strategies.
So: I got on the scale! And was pleasantly surprised that my "penalty" for playing ostrich was relatively minor. I had reached my low of the year earlier at around 210. I weighed in at 218. While there is a price to be paid, it's not as great as I feared. I had begun to feel the price in the fit of my clothes. Thank goodness for THAT nudge!
Another choice: The ride I had in mind for today was a loop up to Norwich where they were having the Colorscape Festival www.colorscape.org in Norwich and one of my favorite folkies, John Gorka was performing for free at 3 pm. He's got a rich baritone which you seldom hear in music these days. Having a baritone of my own I thought it would be cool to see him perform for the first time.
BUT! One of our bike club members had invited me to an end-of-summer party at her place later @ 5 pm. If I go to the concert there would be no way to get back in time, shower up and make it to the party. So: do I take in the concert, which would have been a solo experience or do I head out to the party where I can connect with people?
Well that's a no-brainer! As much as I spend oodles of time with people at work, I'm realizing that over the years I've greatly short-changed myself of time spent with extended family and friends outside of work. The bike club has been a God-send in helping me to remedy this over the past several years and I wasn't about to pass up this opportunity!
Now onto my ride: WONDERFUL ride! Loved it! I restored my faith and confidence in myself, kicking myself for ever doubting that I could do this Catskill Mountain tour! I remembered those inspiring words of Mark Twain:
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
How could I even THINK of staying home from this opportunity nursing a satchel full of coulda-shoulda-wouldas?!?
I realize I will probably be sore and greatly fatigued at the end of each day, but I will be filled to overflowing with wonderful sights and great times shared with others. Plus I continue to be impressed by my body's incredible capacity for restoring itself with a good food and a good night's sleep.
BUT: about 3/4 of the way through my ride I BONKED!
I have only bonked once before with all the riding I've done and that time was relatively mild. One sugar soda and I was set straight.
Being back in the saddle with tracking I had made the unwise decision to short-change myself with food this day, anticipating the party and wanting to save my calories for later. Normally when biking a long distance I will have a BIG breakfast of a lot of oatmeal with two eggs scrambled into it along with a banana sliced up and the "dirty" version including sugar and a good dose of butter. With that I can bike forever fearlessly with no bonk worries at all.
Today I brought three apples and a bag of almonds, from which I sparingly ate a few here & there. One rider shared part of her banana with me. By the time I was bonking I had one apple left and the almonds.
Shaky, wobbly, fatigued, finding my saddle INTOLERABLE (normally little problem there), I got off the bike, stretched a bit, got the apple out and ate it while walking my bike along for a stretch, adding some almonds. I felt enough better to wrap up the final 12 miles of my 60 and immediately on arriving home I wolfed a couple of Dannon single-serve greek yogurts and an Arnold's sandwich thin. My fatigue I'm sure was heightened by the bonk.
So choice time: do I take the bonk as a sign that I'm unable to do the Catskills? No: I take it as a lesson in not being STUPID by assuming the extra pounds of flab that I carry will guard against bonking.
Next? PARTY TIME! Such a wonderful mix of people! Co-workers of my friend who teaches at the local school, friends and neighbors of hers and several bike club members. A little awkward at first, but we all warmed up very nicely together. Delicious & healthy food, fun conversations which waxed on into a night that didn't want to end...!
I played my guitar as well as having brought my blue-tooth speaker to DJ some music here & there during the course of the evening, but I didn't isolate myself and engaged in numerous satisfying conversations and enjoyed meeting new people throughout the night. Someone had the super idea to convert the BBQ grill into a campfire of sorts as the night grew dark and the full moon came out.
A very similar sense of camaraderie and connection that was savored last week in the 1,000 Islands was restored again tonight. So invigorating and enlivening!
Take care of your body and soul!
Pay your SPARK forward and reap those rewards as what goes around comes around...!
and Don't be Stupid! :-)
Thursday, September 04, 2014
I have gotten SO far away from caring about the numbers when it comes to working out and cycling. Over the weekend our cycling up Canada way wasn't the kind of distance that we've cycled in the past...much to the chagrin of one of our new members who came for her first time. She is working up for her MS 175 ride, 100 one day, 75 the next. I did that ride with her a few years back, but have since given up doing benefit rides (pay me to go have a blast on my bike! ...eh, doesn't sit too well with me).
So instead I shared my trick with her: if I'm not racking up the kind of miles I might prefer, I crank up the intensity of my ride and kick up the speed! Another club member agreed and the three of us did "intervals" where we would BLAST OFF for a stretch, then back off, repeat until good, sweaty & satisfied.
During one of my solo blasts another rider pulled up along side me and asked how fast I was going apparently impressed with my speed.
To which I replied: don't have a clue! My speedometer / odometer never worked right so I just ditched it a few years ago. I just pump it up when I want to, take 'er easy when I want to. I don't care about the numbers, I care about moving my body in ways that feel right for the present moment which I'm trying savor as much as possible. Perhaps a song in my head or the view that lies ahead or catching up with another rider for chit-chat. That's what it's all about for me.
The other point is that when it comes to working out and calories, who really KNOWS how much of whatever activity burns whatever amount. There's so much variation in ways of measuring this.
The number that matters to me is the amount of time I spend moving my body and the consistency of doing this day-in, day-out.
The numbers that REALLY matter way more than ANYTHING are the quality and quantity of calories I'm taking in. The rest will take care of itself if I'm on top of my food choices.
Wednesday, September 03, 2014
Here's the thing: to be immersed in nature and to soak up such wonderful sights while reveling in the movement of one's body on a bicycle in a way that has become as much a part of yourself as walking...such a beautiful experience!
But...to do this in sync with 18 other people? With such fun-loving harmony, respect and good-will? To discover gorgeous vistas together and almost hear a collective sigh of "ahhhh, just look at that...!"
It rarely gets any better than this.
One of us attempted to sum it up with his words:
"It Was a very Relaxed and very Inspirational Weekend.
It's a Retreat of Like Minds,
and I want to Thank each and everyone of You
for Sharing and Giving up, your ones Self,
for the Common Interest of us All.
Our Harmony was Perfect
and I am Filled with your Spirits and Laughter ...."
Here is our hostel at Tibbett's Point, complete with our own lighthouse:
Our host at the hostel was a hand-in-glove fit with our group. The cost of staying at this hostel for each of us from Friday through Monday was a meager $66 for the entire weekend! I encourage folks to check out hosteling as a low-cost, personable means of travel. The above link can direct you towards hostels which may be available for your travel plans.
We each brought food to share, dishes all made up and ready to eat. I brought my home-made hummus, veggies, a big container of home-made lentil-zucchini soup, salsa, apples, bananas, oatmeal and a couple dozen eggs & butter. Such a collective bounty of food was brought that there was no need for dining out. All meals were a collective group effort and we sometimes cozily jammed into the little kitchen, but mostly sat around in the Adirondack chairs or picnic tables outside to enjoy our meals and conversation.
During the day we would ride out to Kingston, CA by ferry or explore some of the islands Wolfe Island, which sprawled across Lake Ontario from Tibbett's Point. Other islands we explored included Simcoe which was a little ferry ride away from Wolfe Island and Wellesley Island which was up near Alexandria Bay after crossing the 1,000 Island bridge:
Friday and Sunday evenings offered gorgeous sunsets which we all savored while enjoying each other's company and conversation:
Saturday night was a wild and crazy night of weather! The wind off Lake Ontario was so strong that one could almost lean into it and allow it to hold one's body upright! Along the horizon one could see thunderstorms crackling and flashing a show that lit up the sky! We didn't have the rain yet so we were able to get out and let the wind pummel us as we took in such a powerful display of nature!
Friday and Sunday evenings were quieter and we gathered 'round a campfire. I played my guitar and loved hearing all the conversations all around me and joined in at times in between songs. Some of the nights drifted on well past midnight...just didn't want it to end!
Even after checking out on Monday morning we weren't willing to simply go home...so we stop at the Black Pond Nature Preserve and beach on Lake Ontario on our way back home:
And a final meal at Bob's BBQ in Homer, NY:
What an absolute joy the entire weekend was for all of us!
I'll sign off with yet another beautiful sunset:
...and a wish for all of my SparkFamily to fill your lives with equally heartfelt and special times.
Update: FYI...this is my 2nd year joining with club members in what has been an annual tradition for many, many years. My hope is to never have to miss spending my Labor Day weekend with my cycling buddies up at Tibbett's Point!
Monday, September 01, 2014
Too late to tweak & share my pics, but some of the others who shared our absolutely AWESOME Labor Day weekend @ Tibbett's Point, Cape Vincent, NY on the shores of Lake Ontario near the beginning of the 1,000 Islands have already posted some of their pics.
So I'll share THEIR links and hope they work for you and you can get a preview of our long, glorious weekend on two-wheels, by the campfire, late night conversations in the kitchen over wine, cheese and all the delicious food shared by each of us.
More to follow!
Update: fiddly...the links were private so cannot be shared...have to wait for my pics...and words...don't know if I can begin to capture the wonderful camaraderie and warmth of the weekend...!
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