Monday, November 04, 2013
This summer cycling season, after being cut loose by my cardiologist in June and taken off of Coumadin, was capped by two of the most special cycling accomplishments: 1) Cycling 'round the 1,000 Islands area of New York and Ontario with 15 of my bike club members and 2) Cycling 'round Cape Cod on my week-long self-supported tour with several other very special cyclists.
One of the things I do when I ride is, whenever possible, I wear my Keen Sandals:
Nope, no cycling shoes for me. No clip-ins, etc. Just don't want to "go there" and take my lumps learning to clip, falling at stop lights, etc. Besides I'm a keep-it-simple kinda guy: one pair of sandals and I'm good to go wherever I want to, cycling, walking, hiking...do it all with no need for changing over. It was a nice "downsize" to my self-supported load...no extra pair of shoes!
And as odd as it may seem, I really liked the "stripes" I earned from spending time in my Keens as the sun would tan the open parts of the sandals leaving stripes of tan against the pale, unexposed parts of my feet. By the time I finished riding the Cape I was sporting some pretty cool stripes, silly as it may seem I felt proud to earn them and just seeing them on my feet could make me smile and re-kindle the memories of how they got there! :-)
Well, since I'm a fairweather kinda cyclist I've been pretty well sidelined from riding for a while now. Not that I won't keep my eyes & ears tuned to a possible warm spell during which I can scoot out and enjoy, but increasingly my workouts are indoors at the fitness center. Spinning classes are great, but I am finding myself increasingly missing my outdoor "fix."
My Tiger Paws are fading and this past weekend's Daylight Savings felt like a big heavy door slamming shut against the daylight.
The Dark Months are upon us! It's not just the darkness in the morning and after work that I find so oppressive, but the confining aspects of the cold and dark, the withdrawal of abundant sunshine.
A couple years ago I finally bought a used cross country ski set hoping to be able to use them and to get my outdoor fix. However I and many of our bike club members who switch to cross country skiing during the winter are finding that climate change has mostly snatched away our readily available skiing options. Some travel north to ski. But I'd like to gain more confidence, as I'm a newbie, before driving a distance to flop around in the snow.
So the challenge returns: how to keep my Spark during The Dark Months!
One thought which I've started to put into action has been to make a more consistent and concerted effort to head out for power walks with co-workers while on lunch break at work. We have a handy hill nearby which we start right up at the beginning of our walk that always revs us up for the rest of the walk during which we keep a crisp, zippy pace. It's a great break from our long hours either riding around seeing clients or at the pc logging in our work. PLUS we shake loose our work and enjoy our conversations along the way AND:
We get our OUTDOOR FIX! Nice triple bonuses!
The other activity I know I need to enjoy more consistently is to get out for Swing Dance every possible Tues. night:
Yes it's on the other end of the county 20 miles away...but the costs of not going are too great. Need to make this a priority PLUS:
I need to be vigilant for opportunities to push the envelop, get out of my comfort zone and try other things. For instance, recently one of the most SPARKIN' members of SP I know: 4-A-HEALTHY-BMI has been enjoying the fun and community of contradancing and spotted an event that is coming up this Saturday practically in my back yard!
Part of me worries about being a total newbie to this kind of dancing, but I've heard from many sources how user-friendly, warm and accepting the contradance community can be. So yep: gonna do it!
I've invited our local SparkTeams to join in the fun and am hoping there will be others to meet. I'm truly grateful to 4-A-HEALTHY-BMI for her persuasive, friendly "nudges" to get going here!
Yes, The Dark Months may be upon us, but I'm beginning to realize and utilize one of the most potent defenses against the darkness. Pardon the dated lingo of this song, but it came to me while writing this blog and all "grooviness" aside, the message remains as timeless and vibrant as ever:
Yours in SPARK!
Sunday, October 06, 2013
Another wonderful weekend spent with fellow bike club members! Yesterday we had our bi-annual roadside clean up which our many hands wrapped up lickety-split and followed up with a quickie 20 mile ride to Whitney Point. It was more overcast yesterday and overnight it rained fairly hard...which accomplished exactly what I had hoped: a rain-free Sunday for more cycling!
As it still looked and felt like it might possibly rain when I set out from my house at 9:30 a.m. I had this song on my mind...the jazzy bass line walking along setting a nice cadence for my pedaling:
I re-named it to "RIDE Between The Raindrops" but fortunately no rain came down on our parade! :-)
I met up with others in Binghamton. Today's ride was a "bunny" ride...as the ride leader calls them. Sounds cute, light and fun right? Well...perhaps all that but one thing her rides AREN'T is EASY! Earlier on when she dubbed her rides "bunny rides" a few got duped by the name and umpteen hills later discovered cool places to ride with wonderful sights from around our gorgeous terrain...but paid for it with sore quads and other body parts! :-)
There were 8 of us for today's ride, including our favorite member, without whom the club wouldn't be here today, who is 80 years old pedaling right along with us!
I already knew that the first part of the ride was going to be a climb out of the south side of Binghamton heading toward the Pennsylvania / New York border:
As the ride went on other riders embellished with route add-ons which took us up more hills so we ended up criss-crossing the hills much like the wooly-bear caterpillars scampering across the roads we powered up and zoomed down! While the colors weren't at their best, the recent rain having taken down quite a few leaves, there was still a rustic beauty pedaling through the countryside, at times through roads layered with pungent pine needles. There were great views of the valley below from atop these hills:
All the hills brought to my mind one of my favorite (oh heck they're ALL my favorite) songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim: "Favela" which is subtitled "Somewhere in the Hills:"
I especially like the soft samba rhythm of the guitar that propels me along and which is from Jobim's classic album which I HIGHLY recommend...check out the reviews here:
I managed to get myself lost along the way zooming out a bit ahead of the group, not knowing where the heck everybody went and calling one member to get their location so I could back-pedal and rejoin them.
We got back to their parking spots and talked a bit about the ride and upcoming rides. Next weekend promises a return to the Butternut Valley which stretches from Sidney to Mount Upton and Morris and includes waterfalls and hopefully more fall foliage if it holds out! Another one of my favorite rides!
So rather than head straight home after the ride with the group I took the River Road loop for yet additional climbing and racked up a nice total of 56 miles and over 3,000 feet of climb today. Woo hoo, did THAT feel good!
All righty now...back to the work week...let's fill 'er with SPARK everybody!
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Strike up the music, Cassandra Wilson with an upbeat ode to life, which is SO FINE on this gorgeous autumn day! The colors are coming so FAST all of a sudden!
"A Little Warm Death"... www.youtube.com/watch?v=hh_r6NwqIvs
I should have known that with his quiet smile, our ride leader would have at least one challenge during this ride. He didn't disappoint! There is a REASON the road he led us through is called Death Valley Road! I couldn't believe I made that climb without walking. I think if a fly had landed on my shoulder I would've crumpled into a walk...but it didn't and I was able to make the entire climb sucking wind with every turn of the pedal...lol!
We had the special pleasure of welcoming five guests from Spain on our ride, making a nice total of 15 riders strong. The ride leader promised a round of ice cream for all near the end of the ride. However we had many "boo's" when we discovered the ice cream stand was closed. I was cheering for the lack of temptation...lol! We later came across some enterprising girls selling lemonade at their stand on the lawn in front of their home. A much better investment of our quarters seeing their faces light up!
A rider remarked that "Did you hear that chocolate milk is so *last year* for a recovery drink? The new recovery drink at the end of a long ride is BEER!" which brought round of applause and chuckles.
I cracked, "okay, guess we're now in search of an ice cream stand that serves beer!" :-)
Here I am with fellow bike club members and a few of our guests from Spain who I hope will join us tomorrow for our big day of fun and rides out of Marvin Park, Owego:
Had a lovely time tonight at the Noel Paul Stookey (of Peter Paul & Mary) concert...such a wonderful humanitarian, minstrel and quite an accomplished guitarist as well!
Late night...off to bed and solid sleep for a big day of cycling tomorrow!
But not before sharing a good reminder from ThoughtCatalog.com, a website which has been catching my eye and tweaking my brain now & then with interesting editorials & blogs. I thought of Don Miguel Ruiz's Four Agreements, namely the first in which he speaks to the power of our word and the importance of being impeccable with our word. Here are related thoughts shared:
You Are / Whatever You Say / You Are
Let's do our best to be kind and loving toward ourselves and each other:
Friday, September 27, 2013
It's been quite the shock to the system adjusting to "the real world" since returning from Cape Cod. Having eaten mostly cut up fruits & veggies and store-bought sandwiches on my travels I was yearning for something home-made but had so little time at the end of each day it took me three days to make some soup:
Day One: toss some dried black beans into a bowl of water to soak until
Day Two: boil up the beans with lots of onion and garlic, put in fridge until
Day Three: toss in some tomatoes, spinach, green beans, beef broth and jazz up with chili powder, crushed red pepper flakes and black pepper simmer away and voila! Big batch of soup for the next few days! Yum! FINALLY!
This weekend promises more of the WONDERFUL weather we've been having lately and two cycling events I will not miss. PLUS I still have to restore and return all that borrowed camping equipment. But the lawn needs mowing and the sun is going down as I arrive home and I can't afford the time to mow during the weekend. Tomorrow night Noel Paul Stookey from Peter, Paul and Mary performs locally and we're going to treat ourselves to his music...all three (RIP, Mary...), such soulful human beings...!
Solution? Strap on my bike helmet and turn on my Light & Motion VIS 360...all the light I need to do one of the SPEEDIEST mowings of the season, albeit dialed way down on the "tidy" spectrum...lol.
Had a delightful power walk earlier today with a co-worker...handy little hill nearby our office to get me pumped up as we scaled it and 'rounded several blocks...it was just what the doctor ordered during a day of data entry on the computer...ugh!
Cheers to everyone for a weekend ahead filled with SPARK!
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