Sunday, August 25, 2013
I am still filled to overflowing with all that this weekend had to offer...! I SO wish I could bottle it for those times of need.
Between yesterday (47 miles) and today (59.5 miles) I just could not stop those wheels from rolling and rolling and soaking up as much, more and more of the perfect weather, perfect company, perfect EVERYTHING!
Today especially...! I started off by heading down to Binghamton for the Chris Thater 5K race, www.bcstopdwi.com/bcstopdwi/thater , not to run, but to watch fellow local Sparker STRIVERONE wrap up yet another race and to meet up afterward so that we could hop on our bikes and do the Hallstead/Great Bend Loop down into Pennsylvania.
Another bike club member mentioned wanting to join us (I'll be heading up to Tibbett's point with him next weekend) and while waiting for STRIVERONE yet another club member caught up with me and was up for the ride. That made four of us. Little did I know ahead of time, as I had never ridden before with STRIVERONE before, that the four of us would be such a HIGHLY compatible quartet of strong riders! Double kudos to STRIVERONE for doing so well AFTER having run a 5K...whew! We just hung together so nicely throughout our thirty-some miles down to PA and back. One of the club members showed me a neat little detour on our return route and lead us up into the hills off the main road for some climbing workouts.
After returning to Rec Park in Binghamton I had another 10 miles to head back home from there. Another bike club member who lives up around my neck of the woods was heading home also so he joined me and we took the River Road loop for yet MORE climbing and adding another coupla miles to the route.
Throughout my rides both yesterday and today a song kept coming to me with a melody that is so lovely and complex and actually a good dose of minor key usage, no strong beat to power me along...so how does that fit with my being so enthralled by the sun, the flowers, birds overhead, woodchuck scurrying for cover and the four of us thrumming along in such harmony?
1) Beauty...the music embodied the sense of gratitude, savoring and accenting all that the visual, tactile world was laying out before me...intensifying the experience even more.
2) Self-soothing...music has always been for me a treasured method of a self-embrace, self-affirmation. And it's calorie-free, unlike other unhealthy methods of self-soothing which shall remain nameless! :-)
Here is the song which I've carried with me through my weekend outdoors: Canta Canta Mais. This is yet another gem from Maestro Antonio Carlos Jobim from Brasil, composer of so many songs you have heard but may not know were written by him. Certainly Girl From Ipanema is his most well known work. But his works encompass so much more.
There are many versions of this song which have been performed by many. My earliest introduction to it was through another artist who is among my favorites, Paul Winter, from his 1969 Winter Consort Album:
I think it works best for me as an instrumental, even if the lyrics do speak about singing.
Probably a rough, rough English translation from Portuguese. I'm betting the lyrics were very idiomatic and nuanced:
Feel the beauty and
Forget the sadness
So much, so much
Sing, go, go
Follow singing alone
Here is a vocal version which has a series of artwork/pictures highlighting the theme of "beauty"
A very thoughtful piano rendition:
And finally Jobim (who is sadly deceased) himself at the piano with orchestra and choir:
Finally (you mean I haven't shaken you off yet?) a little artwork that made me think of the transitions so many of us here among our SparkFamily go through in our journeys, taking flight, reveling in our freedom and living our lives with SPARK!
Link to artwork: t.co/CSPJftIjmd
Wishing a fine week ahead to all!
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Okay, I'm going to edit the title of this blog as I had this inspiration (while cycling of course) but I DO want to preface the title change by saying this is with absolutely ALL respect for ALL faiths and denominations...I just felt that this sums up one of my strongest methods for connecting with a higher power as you'll see later in this blog if you haven't already read it.
Yes, yes, today was another great ride...but you know, they aren't ALL super rides. Last weekend, for instance, I had perfect weather for a 50 mile solo loop through our county...try as I might I just couldn't get into it and "feel" this ride...it just boiled down to grinding out the miles. Like pulling the pump handle up and down endlessly with nary a drop to show for it.
Today was a whole different animal. Let's distract first with a pic from my morning commute after arriving in Binghamton along Cheri Lindsay Park the fog is lifting...heading for the hills:
It was supposed to be a whole different ride from what I originally proposed. I think cyclists getting together always reserve the right to change their minds, even in mid-route! While much of what we traveled I've done many times before, we connected the dots between different points via Route 221 from Marathon to Willet (a tiny speck of a town with little more than 4 corners...I was surprised to find it had a farmer's market once a week. LOTS of climbing which made up for the relatively flat remainder.
My inner radio dialed up an old Blood, Sweat and Tears song written by Laura Nyro (RIP, such a loss!) "And When I Die":
Such a cool song on so many levels but today it got me waxing philosophically as I pedaled along. I am not by nature a readily spiritual person. I envy people who are. It just doesn't "happen" for me. Unless I'm on my bike. The wind, my body pumping away, the flowing line of the horizon demarcating the green hills of earth from the sky, yin and yang, sun beaming down, the thrill of the descent and sense of accomplishment from the climb...brought to my radio another song from Jan Garbarek, "Arietta"...a thoughtful poignant straddle between major and minor keys, conjuring for me a sense of connectedness with the world, with my body and an appreciation of my accomplishments:
I see this person posting the song felt it captured a day in their life as well.
I've been following a meditative practice every morning when I first wake up and I realize it follows similar path, as David Byrne said, "I'm breathing in. I'm breathing out." www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuY4FR-bmGY
I have a growing respect for the power our breathing can contain.
We discovered an old single lane bridge over the river:
Soon after resuming our ride we saw a fox scurrying across the road while down in the valley following along the creek which flowed into what would become Dorchester Lake:
Here it opens into the lake a bit:
And here is the south end of the lake where it is dammed up. You might be able to see all the cool walking / jogging trails which run along and around the dam:
I had a scare this past week as I had checked my pulse and it was dropping a beat in the mornings again. Got into my primary care doc's office and he ran an EKG and all was (whew!) well! I had feared interference with my big upcoming rides! This added to my appreciation of today's ride as well...!
John, the bike club fellow that rode with me today, I discovered is also heading up to Tibbett's Point for the Labor Day weekend of riding! He's been there before and was able to fill me in a bit by sharing some of the fun stuff he's done in the past. He ALSO expressed a great deal of interest in doing the FANY (Five hundred miles Across New York) ride next year:
I've been wanting to do this also but shared my frustration in considering the logistics of getting myself and my bike to the Niagara Falls area for the start of the ride and then back home from the Saratoga Springs area after the ride was done. I shared Augie's (he's our 80 year old HERO of our bike club) solution: "Simple. You just get on your bike in Binghamton and RIDE up to Niagara Falls and when you're done with the ride in Saratoga Springs you just ride home!" I said to Augie "I want to ride the Five Hundred Miles Across New York...not Five THOUSAND miles across New York...!" :-)
John had a great thought: rent a van to get to Niagara Falls and when done rent a van to get back home. Split the costs between 2-3 folks and it wouldn't be TOO prohibitive. Now THAT would be such a COOL ride to do!
Okay, enough meanderings for a late, late blog...another day to ride coming right up!
Thursday, August 15, 2013
I am SO loving my cycling commutes...especially in the morning! Chilly today, high 40s...still fighting to keep my shorts as I hate cycling with pants, but have switched to long-sleeved t-shirts. It isn't long before my Kattelville Hill has warmed me up and I've got my inner radio going as I never *really* listen to music while riding...I leave that to the Future Darwin Award Winners...lol!
I'm able to tune out worries or minutia of the day and just soak up the ride and savor the peeling off of the chilly, foggy dew and the sunny blue skies that increasing make themselves known from behind the cloak of the morning.
Al Jarreau's "Mornin'" captures the feeling of good will that just flows through my ride as I wave to other cyclists I pass and offer a cheery "Mornin'" to the walkers or a friendly "comin' up on your left" to avoid startling them.
Mornin' everyone! www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzXNdLVZs3k
I changed my SparkPage background to share the morning foggy Chenango River and sun peaking through the trees along the Otsiningo Trail which is part of my ride. I'll add another pic later of the Chenango as I approach Binghamton where you can see the fog lifting over the hills.
Here is another tune that took hold later in my ride, a blast from WAY back, The Moody Blues, "Days of the Future Passed" as shared on YouTube by fellow SP member HIPPICHICK1:
The early part of the album especially:
"Dawn is a feeling, a beautiful ceiling,
The smell of grass just makes you pass into a dream.
You're here today, no future fears,
This day will last a thousand years.
If you want it to."
Who could ask for a better way to start one's day?
Sunday, August 11, 2013
Perfect weather for riding today and thoroughly enjoyed looping through Broome County in the Southern Tier of upstate New York today. The only thing that could have improved the 50 mile ride would have been some company.
Whether tunneling through the tall corn fields, taking in the sight of a regal blue heron beside a pond like glass reflecting the abundant blue skies and fluffy clouds or being caught up short with the beauty of wildflowers of every hue juxtapositioned more spectacularly than any flower shop could dare to accomplish...the outdoors just endlessly rolled out all its splendor today.
My camera hardly does justice, but I did make an attempt today:
And here is a shot I took during my commute to work one morning last week. It was foggy and the trick of light coming through the trees, reflecting off the water...just caught my eye enough to bring me to a stop and attempt to capture it:
I've been trying to bump up the miles a bit as I have (hopefully) two big rides on the horizon. The first one is a bit questionable as we may not have enough signed up as we had to commit to 16 minimum. Each year our bike club organizes rentals at a hostel at Tibbett's Point in the 1,000 Island area:
If we succeeded in getting enough (I'm still awaiting final word) this will happen over Labor Day weekend...soon! I finally got my enhanced Driver's License so that I'll be able to join in with rides over the bridge into Canada!
The 2nd ride is REALLY big...HUGE! It has me intimidated too as I am WAY breaking out of my comfort zone...by planning on a self-supported tour...no hotels, sleeping bag & tent will be packed on my bike along with all my clothes and other necessities! But get this: the ride will be curling throughout all of Cape Cod! From a state park near Boston, through Falmouth right out to Provincetown with a ferry ride back to Boston. Here is the link and map of the ride:
I have no idea how I'll do sleeping on the ground outdoors and am nervous as all get-out over packing everything and managing, but the president of our bike club is loaning me the tent / sleeping bag and going to help me to plan on setting up my bike for the ride. No trailer, just dual rear panniers with the tent & bag rolled up on top.
What excites me, however, is the idea that I might just take to this like a duck to water: my cheapskate heart LOVES the idea of snubbing hotels and their costs but even more, my adventurous heart will be thrilled by the sense of independence of managing a self-supported tour.
However one good rain storm will pull the plug from the whole thing for me. Gulp! I just know that is how I'll react...I just HATE cycling in the rain!
I have some nervousness over managing power for my smartphone and having enough charging capabilities so that I can use it and not leave it off all the time.
Anyhow...if anyone has any tips, suggestions, I'm way open to them. Have been reading up some. Last year my failed attempt in touring at least had me riding two 60+ miles stretches with two full panniers without much difficulty, so I feel good to have at least that much experience.
Cross your fingers for me!
Saturday, August 03, 2013
What a wonderful ride today with two other bike club members, one of them Madame President of the club, aka: TEAMAGIS
...who is going to assist in outfitting yours truly for his upcoming adventures in mid-September. Her friend, another member of the club, is going to be joining me in this adventure as well.
We got a little chuckle upon seeing this sign posted, indicating that we live in a more rural spot than I thought!
I suppose our chuckles wouldn't last long if we HAD stumbled across a bear!
In any case it was just an absolutely pitch-perfect day for a ride with just the right mix of sunshine, blue skies and poofy clouds in which to get lost in one's thoughts. I was soaking up the rolling hills and every imaginable hue of green and just, as TEAMAGIS later said "in the zone" rolling along at a relaxed, not a care in the world pace. We are all so blessed with such beautiful outdoors here in upstate New York! It has been too long a time since I can remember being so thoroughly immersed and awed by the world as I was today. Most of the other times have been while on my bike as well...just feeling at one with the world. TEAMAGIS later said, "I don't know WHAT I was thinking during that ride!" To which I said: "You weren't thinking at all. That's the point!" There was nothing we could do "wrong" on this ride. We just rode and we just were. The two roads that take one to Oxford run roughly parallel to each other, so rather than take one, we would cross the Chenango river here and there and hop onto the other road for a bit, and then cross back over to the first road.
Even near the end of the ride when I foolishly miscalculated the height of the road when veering left off the shoulder to get back on the road at an angle that wasn't sharp enough and as a result got tossed to the ground I just got back up, re-threading my chain which had fallen off and wrapped up the ride, resuming my inner soundtrack which had been a song which may seem foreign to this part of the world, but the rhythm is just propulsive enough to keep me cruising through the countryside and the light, airy nature of Celso's vocals captured the lightness of being I felt during the ride, even after gravity had its way with me! :-)
Later we topped off the day by watching the hot air balloons lift off at the SpeidieFest.
ps, late, tired, more about my big plans another day!
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