Sunday, May 08, 2011
We had a great turnout for our bike club's roadside clean up yesterday! Sadly, we found stuff that demonstrated such APPALLING disregard for all the beauty that nature can bring us: a pc monitor sitting in a puddle down the bank from the shoulder and a lazy boy recliner which had been rolled down the bank of somebody's pick up truck no doubt. I carefully picked up the larger pieces of a heavy glass liquor bottle that had been smashed on a roadside post with pieces all over the riding path of a route which I frequently take. I scruffed the smaller pieces off the shoulder into the grass well out of the path of bicycle tires.
Afterward we all hopped on our bikes for a well-worn route up 79 to Whitney Point. Enjoyed some conversation with another member along the way who clocked us at 17 mph. Nope still no gizmo on my bike to measure such things. But each time I have a member check my speed I find I typically run between 14-18 mph depending on road conditions and elevations. This places me at a middle-of-the-road sorta speed with approximately 1/2 of the riders slower than me and the other 1/2 faster and I'm pretty content with that. Not looking to be a speed freak as I think it would take away too much enjoyment of being out on my bike! Last year coming down Bear Spring Mountain into Downsville we reached around 50 mph coming down a PERFECT road for such a thrilling descent...straight, smooth, no curves or turns...just a swooping, whooping joy!
Whitney Point offers many different interesting routes to take and the 15-20 of us splintered up into various directions. As I had some things to do in the afternoon I opted to simply return back to Chenango Forks with a few others. Soon I felt as though I'd cheated myself from getting out into some new territory. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed doing that!
Fortunately one of the other members thought of a "detour" on the way back which proved to be delightful! Up Cloverdale Road we went! Nice, quiet, tucked away into the back woods with banks of trees fuzzy with early green sprouting from their branches sprawling before us. I could imagine this view transforming in the fall with the leaves changing color! I'll most definitely be back for THAT! :-)
After a while we rode up to the Black Bear Winery, a place I'd always meant to visit, but never have:
The owners had been puttering around outside and were JUST getting ready to open up shop (noon time). So in we popped to have a look-see! The fellow showed us around sharing that he specializes in making wine from everything EXCEPT grapes...cool twist! Turns out they have an open mike every Friday when folks stop by with their guitars and have fun singing bluegrass and other types of music. I told him my guitar has been gathering too much dust lately and I might just stop back for some fun! Not that I play bluegrass (prefer jazz) but I think I might be able to join in or, who knows kick out a solo tune or two? :-)
He showed us the various vats, tanks and bottles where his current projects were coming along nicely. Very fastidious, neat and tidy facilities! Even if I DON'T drink wine except for rare occasions, for the ambiance and fun...? I'll be back!
I felt SO much better for having taken "the road less traveled" and was ready for the day ahead! Isn't it funny how just a slight tweak, just off the beaten path can open one's eyes too some wonderful things...? Today's was a shorter ride of 22 miles, bringing this year's totals up to 219 miles.
Continuing to celebrate the spirit of Bicycle Month I'll share some notes from our local bike club members on our local television channel:
Go-Green: Save Money and the Environment by Riding a Bike
And a neat BBC series all about bicycles...the first part:
Ride of My Life - The Story of the Bicycle
Links subsequent installments are on the right side of that web page.
Everyone make it a special and wonderful Mother's Day!
Saturday, May 07, 2011
Had a TERRIFIC day yesterday mixing it up with work, cycling and jogging. Biked to my day job, then over to my office to see a client privately and then up to our local park with a great trail along the Chenango River: Otsiningo Park. Off the bike, changed into shorts & T-shirt and then off for a 5K jog! Biked home for a total of 20 miles for the day, bringing this cycling season's totals up to 197 miles.
So what's the "first"...? Got a call from home, needed a prescription picked up. Well there really wasn't a convenient place to lock up my bike so...what the heck: Use the Drive Thru! Felt kinda weird yet kinda proud taking my place in line just like any other vehicle! The clerk didn't blink, we took care of business easy peasy! Love treating my bike just like any other vehicle! :-)
Oh and HEY EVERYONE: May is National BIKE MONTH! Woo hoo!
Here's a link for ya:
Get out there and ride yourselves a BIKE this weekend!
Heading out with the bike club today to do some roadside clean up. We have "Adopted" a stretch of road which happens to be near my house. I always thought that would be a cool thing to do for our local SparkPeople team...have a sign posted indicating a certain road was taken care of by SparkPeople.com...get folks wondering "what's SparkPeople.com?"
Afterward, heading out to Whitney Point for a 20 mile ride. No biggie, but always enjoyable up that way...! Just hope the rain holds off till we get back!
Looks like EXCELLENT sunny skies and upper 60s for our Mother's Day...make it special everyone!
Friday, May 06, 2011
Although it was a nippy start at 40 degrees, I warmed up nicely about half-way to work on my bike today. Waved a hello-good-morning-isn't-it-great-to-be-al
ive-on-a-bike to TEAMEAGIS as she was heading northbound to my southbound.
I was curious to see if there was an update to the total cost of running a car. Had ball-parked it at 50 cents a mile based on New York State's old reimbursement rate of 30 cents a mile if one uses one's own car. Lo & behold I'm not too far off: 58 cents! That's probably about right given I drive a middle-of-the-road Ford Taurus:
So at that rate I save $10.44 each time I commute to work on my bike. Not that I'm disciplined enough to ACTUALLY put that in a jar...lol! But I like to think of that benefit as well, of course, the OTHER benefits...physical health, emotional health, reducing carbon-footprint and dependence on oil, foreign or otherwise...!
Thx everybody for your support regarding yesterday's blog!
I, too, am a fan of sticking with what you love, but DANG all you runners get me thinking I'm missing out on something BIG! Lol!
We'll see if I can work in another 5K on my way home tonight...brought my shorts & T-shirt as we're heading for the 60's later today...woo hoo!
Thursday, May 05, 2011
I don't dislike running, but I don't really LIKE it either. Today while outside on this gloriously sunny day jogging a 5K at Otsiningo Park, the thought occurred to me: "Wouldn't this day be even BETTER YET if I was out on my BIKE?!?"
That's the bottom line: If a nice day comes along the odds of me enjoying that day by getting out and running are WAY LONG against the odds of me getting out on my BIKE! If I'm ever to learn to enjoy running I need to DO IT and do it a LOT!
Just don't think that's ever going to happen. Cycling is always going to trump it.
I always say "never say never," but those odds on me really getting into a running groove are pretty slim. Gotta say though, I AM looking forward to joining my fellow local SparkTeam members of the Binghamton Area Losers in the Binghamton Bridge Run on May 15th!
I was TERRIBLY jealous of TEAMAEGIS this morning when I saw her cycling to work as I made the tough, regrettable decision that 37 degrees was just too darned cold to do the same myself. This has been such a FINE day with BOATLOADS of sunshine & blue sky to lure me to the bike. I'm hoping for a repeat performance tomorrow with a warmer morning of 45 degrees so I can make up for lost time and get out TOMORROW!
Here is a link to some more pics from the 5 Boro Ride (they want me to cough up some $$ for prints...lol):
Not sure it'll work for folks other than me, but you can give it a whirl.
And hey, a thought I should have tacked onto my 5 Boro blog: I hope everyone out there has hopes and dreams that you are working toward making a reality! That is the most wonderful reward for transforming ourselves and living a SPARKED LIFE! Give yourself room to breathe, LIVE and DREAM and then?
Make it HAPPEN!
I'll wrap up with a great pumped up song from the Who which moved me right along on my 5K today: Can You See the Real Me?
Looks like we may actually have several days of no rain ahead...woo hoo!
Have a SPARKIN' GREAT Weekend!!
Monday, May 02, 2011
A little music for my blog...a twist of a word in the song title to suit my needs...! :-)
Had a TERRIFIC time 'round the Big Apple over the weekend! Stayed in Staten Island and to prepare for the big ride on Sunday we rode the ferry over to Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan on Saturday. The weather couldn't have been more PERFECT!
I couldn't believe the ferry ride has been a FREEBIE since 1987! It was such fun to get out on the water and while I've been to mid-town Manhattan a few times there isn't ANYTHING like cruisin' into south Manhattan on the ferry to see New York City sprawled out in all its splendor! Although I was looking forward to the bike ride on Sunday, taking it all in on Saturday on the ferry ride and walking about southern Manhattan REALLY PSYCHED me up for the ride!
The SIZE of those ferries is incredible! They must hold HUNDREDS of people on each of their three levels! I tried to get a pic to show the size of the ferry but none really could do it justice. We rode outside so that we could enjoy the view both coming and going from Manhattan. Here's an inside shot to give you an idea of the seating capacity:
And another thing we discovered: from experience we already knew parking in Manhattan, even while staying at a hotel, runs $40-50 a day. Price of parking at the St. George terminal of the Staten Island ferry? $5.50 for the day! So if one is heading to Manhattan for some serious shopping and you're coming in from out of town? Seems to me it would make sense to park there and ferry over to Manhattan! The ferry ride is around 30 mins.
Some more pics:
Some folks had donned some really creative Lady Liberty costumes and were hamming it up with folks who took pics with them.
All right! On to Ride Day!
I began to get a sense of the ENORMITY of this feat, pulling 32,000 cyclists together at the same time when I arrived at the ferry again the next morning around 6:30. I had already been up since 5 getting a little breakfast and catching up with the shuttle service to take me from the hotel to the ferry. I REALLY would have preferred just riding to the ferry myself as it was only 8 miles away. But one thing I discovered by having driven this route the day before was that the road was filled with potholes, very narrow, with frequent buses that sped along in ways that belied little mercy to others on the road. Too risky for someone totally new to the route as I was.
So here I am stuck in a line with who-knows-HOW many others!
And I'm thinking: These are only the cyclists coming via the Staten Island Ferry! We've got folks already IN Manhattan and POURING into Manhattan from EVERYWHERE!
Although I realized I was going to have to be patient during the course of the day, I later found out I had to REALLY CRANK up the dial on my Patience-O-Meter...! There were moments of irritability on my part, but I quelled them by reminding myself of the phenomenal feat of organizing an event of this size!
One of the greatest challenges of the ride were the slow and crowded sections of the ride. How could I be sure not to zig when I should zag and avoid running into anyone? Soon I learned the best way, when it got slow, was to simply keep one foot on the pedal and push off the ground with the other until the press of bodies lightened up enough and the movement picked up sufficient pace to begin to pedal again. Miraculously, clumsy old me had not a single problem colliding with anyone.
The ferry ride back over to Manhattan that morning was cccccOLD!! With a bike, one has to go down into the hold of the ferry where there is simply a hole on one end of the boat and one on the other end. We had wall to iron wall bodies & bikes with the gust of the ride billowing up through. No lights other than what the openings offered. I had a 30 min. glimmer of what it must have been like for our forefathers crammed into vessels riding over the oceans under what were horrible conditions. But I struck up conversation with some, did stretches, jumped up & down and kept moving to avoid chilling TOO much.
Rode a little way up into Manhattan when everything ground to a halt. The press of bodies and bikes just totally jammed the streets of Manhattan as far as the eye could see. This was most definitely the Day of the Bike!
Finally around 8:30 the ride kicked off!
Here we are approaching the official starting line:
As we crossed we could hear the announcer calling out all the countries that were represented in today's ride. Amazing places such as Japan! Australia!
Once we got underway there was a bit of stop & go getting through Manhattan. Not because of car traffic, as roads were shut down for the event, but again that amazing press of bodies and bikes! Central Park was a little tricky too as the path was somewhat narrow for all the cyclists involved and we had to share the road with our buddies the Runners! :-)
I wasn't able to get pictures of many stretches mostly because 1) I didn't dare stop and cause a multi-bike pile up! 2) I was too busy staying out of collisions with others and 3) I was having too much of a BLAST whizzing down highways and expressways which were shut down just for us bikes!
I couldn't believe we had the FDR expressway all to ourselves! After the stop & go nervousness of Manhattan I was ready to cut loose and ripped right along...woo hoo! Throughout the more open and speedy sections of the ride I hooked up with others who were looking to challenge themselves with some speed and followed the paths that they wove in & out of the slower cyclists. While in general, just like with cars the far right was open for the faster riders, sometimes groups would block the way and it got tricky to wind my way through. But that was sorta fun too. Loved it when I found some young serious cyclists, mostly men, but sometimes there were some wicked fast gals too!, I would tail them and take advantage of the trail they would blaze. And sometimes *I* did the blazin' for others too! :-)
The day's cycling wasn't too challenging from an elevation perspective. I could tell as I never had to shift my left gears below the third and highest gear. I would just adjust on the right to suit my needs. Even going up the bridges like the Queensboro or the Verrazano Narrows I managed to get up them at the bottom of my third gear. Now HEADWIND? There was some WICKED headwind on the Brooklyn-Queens expressway heading toward the Verrazano Narrows bridge...but I liked the challenge of PUSHING myself to see what kind of speed I could maintain despite the wind.
Here's some pics on the Queensboro bridge...shut down just for us cyclists like everything else that day! I never failed to appreciate having all this pavement under our wheels throughout the day! AMAZING!
It was cool riding up through Brooklyn seeing folks of all sorts out and cheering us on. A girl held her hand out to slap cyclists hands as we went by. A traditional Hasidic Jewish fellow with the tall stovepipe hat and long beard was clapping and cheering, another was taking pictures of us.
There was some pretty cool jazz going down at one of the rest stops:
And BANANAS! Holy MOLY there were enough bananas being given away and chowed down on it's a wonder everybody didn't start scratching at their armpits and start dragging their knuckles on the ground! :-)
One of the most frustrating portions of the ride was along the Brooklyn - Queens expressway when EVERYTHING ground to a halt. Nobody was going NOWHERE! Wall-to-wall bodies and bikes lining the expressway. I didn't clock it, but it felt like an awfully long time. The only thing I could figure was that perhaps they were in the process of closing down and clearing out the Verrazano Narrows Bridge before we could proceed. I tried to be as patient as I could and waited it out.
Expressway Traffic Jam:
Approaching Verrazano Narrows:
View from the top of Verrazano Narrows:
It was too dark to take pics of the riders as we were in the bottom / covered portion of the bridge.
Another bottle-neck occurred at the end of the ride as I was to meet DW at the ferry parking. ALL riders had to wait in line for the ferry, whether or not one needed to RIDE the ferry didn't matter. I just sighed and caught up with some conversation with some other cyclists. One from Maine, another from NJ who had a really cool looking Specialized, a model I didn't recognize the "Tarmac"...but it looked every bit the road bike on par with the Roubaix. A gal approached me and said "I like your bike!" Turned out she had the spitting image of my Specialized Tricross! She was from Boston.
Do I feel the ride was worthwhile? You bet! Will I return to do it again? Doubtful. Once you've done it, you've done it. On to bigger and better things! Would I recommend this ride to others? Depends on how much patience one has as this ride really puts one's patience to the test! I was able to appreciate the feat of pulling together SO many cyclists from 'round the globe that I could muster the patience...and I usually struggle with waiting in lines...! The close quarters cycling is a bit nerve-wracking also...but hey even *I* could manage without a mishap...so I'm betting most folks can.
One oversight: forgot the sunscreen! I'm toasted and glowing all over...yeouch!
Hoping everyone is off to a SPARKIN' week and that you can all cook up some wonderful schemes & dreams for yourselves to share with us here!
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