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On such a cold winter's day...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

...when I want to pull up the covers and want to stay in bed. A long time.

...when I slog through the slop and slush and pull the collar up against the harshest of winds.

...when the sun is mired by gray, mottled skies and barren trees have curled up and tight-fistedly withhold their life deep within.

It is on such a winter's day when I will reach into the deep, wrinkled recesses of my brain, pull out a flask, push the cork up with my thumb, set it aside and allow this summer day to spill into my senses once again:

The indescribably perfect weather! Mid 80's, sunny, blue-skies...sends a thrill down my spine and gets my legs twitching for action!

The knowing exchange of grins with my cycling buddy...UP for a challenge, excitedly venturing out into unknown territory, even if there WERE two HUGE climbs! We were OFF to the Delaware Co. Fair!

The rolling green hills, lush with LIFE!

The serendipitous meeting up with several other bike club members out enjoying a stretch of cycling in common with our path.

The salty upper lip.

The goose-bumpy thrill of savoring what I knew was a beautiful and unique day which could never quite be replicated.

The banana butt break at the convenience store, DOWNING a cold soda on top of yet more water.

The drenching sweat while stopped and the cooling chill as it dries with the breeze once we start up again on our bikes!

The delicious foot-long turkey sub, split between us and devoured...perfectly hitting our mutual cycling appetite's spot and drenched with LOTS of iced tea!

The black-eyed Susans, marigolds and other flowers planted around some homes, breaking up the gorgeous variations of rolling green and random lavender patches.

The struggle of the uphill climbs and even the one walk when I strayed too far into the gravel on the shoulder and could no longer manage to stay upright. Joining my cycling buddy who had already been walking due to the limitations of climbing posed by her steadfast, but old 10-speed bike and enjoying our hike to the peak. Smiling, chatting, not a shred of what I've referred to in the past as "the walk of shame."

A large bumble bee bonking off my sunglasses as I streaked down a hill, surprising us both.

The lazy Susquehanna river winding and twisting along, following us for much of the ride.

Pedaling alongside a doe and her fawn, startling it into a gallop wondering what this two-wheeled behemoth was doing moving almost as fast as she when she LEAPS across my path nearly crossing the entire road in a single bound! My cycling buddy was ever-so-pleased I was in the lead as she is positive she would have freaked and warped us all into one big road-kill accident...lol!

Getting lost and *almost* loving it...! (A street / road sign had been twisted causing us to go straight instead of turn.) With the help of passers-by not straying TOO far off-course and finding our way into Walton.

No flats, falls, mishaps of any kind!

And although this was a trip to the Delaware County Fair, the fair was...meh, an afterthought. It was the stupendous one-way ride TO the fair that made this a day to savor for years to come...!

Yes, bottling this for the coldest, most unpleasant days of winter, when I've hit my nadir. This will be the cure for what ails me...!

Today's ride wasn't the longest of rides, 54 miles, but it was one of the steepest, with over 3,000 feet of climb! AND it was done after a 7-day hiatus from cycling as I had a return of the piriformis syndrome, causing me earlier in the week to hobble my way through my lawn-mowing duties, thinking horrible thoughts and fears that I had developed some crippling arthritis in my hip that was going to limit my cycling journeys!

Then after a day or two it dawned on me: this had happened to me before! Piriformis! Stretches! I needed to double up on and revive some of the old stretches I'd done before to correct the problem. My massage therapist sister would smack me upside the head if she knew: DOH!

So after a week of minimal cardio, MAXIMUM stretching and keeping up with my upper body ST I returned to the road, unsure of my capabilities.

Piriformis? Piri-POOF! I'm baa-aack! :-)

Here's the GPS of today's ride:

ridewithgps.com/routes/655753 bringing my 2011 total up to 1290 miles.

Sending out wishes for everyone to have summer days of your own to savor. Bottle it! Cork it! The days are shortening ever-so-quickly! Make 2011 will a vintage, full-bodied year for yourselves!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MYLADY4 9/16/2011 9:24PM

    Oh, I am so jealous. Just got a new road bike and so would love to go on a really long ride like that. Next year. 150 mile trip is my new goal.

When I am in my basement in the middle of winter on my stationary bike, I sometimes close my eyes and image that I am on my bike, riding on the beautiful trail beside the gently flowing river.

When it is -30 degrees out, I will think of your blog and think of things to come.



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VHALKYRIE 9/16/2011 8:13PM

    You are so making me miss my bike! Thanks for letting me ride along with you!


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2BMYOWN 9/11/2011 12:16PM

    I am so behind on your blogs! This one was absolutely lovely, with the visuals and the descriptions. Keep on kickin' butt, Iron Man!

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CINNAMONJOY 8/24/2011 11:11PM

    That was lovely! I hope we have a lovely long fall for your rides - It's so gorgeous here in the fall.
I'll take pictures of the Susquehanna in the winter - I plan to morph my hiking shoes into snowshoes.
emoticon emoticon

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VALERIEMAHA 8/24/2011 10:06AM

    Truly inspired and inspiring Don!

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JOYATLAST 8/23/2011 5:37PM

    Loved it! I like the idea of storing winter heart warmers. It gjves todays sweat purpose. I'm glad you're back in the saddle. Great ride. Thanks for a little summer magic.

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SKINNYPOWELL1 8/22/2011 9:27AM

    Loved your blog - Great descriptive writing, almost felt like I was there - and I would have really liked to have been there. Going to have to make some last minute summer time memories to bottle up for the winter for myself, great idea.

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SASSYCHRIS1952 8/22/2011 9:24AM

    I love these pictures! Thanks for sharing emoticon

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EAGLES_WINGS 8/22/2011 7:36AM

    Very well written with many picturesque visions. I envy you to be able to bike like that. However, thank you for sharing your journey. I love the Walton fair. And good news for me, I got out walking yesterday! Woohoo! Thanks, Don and take care! Happy riding and enjoy the budding of Fall, another beautiful season! Hugs.

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UROPA40 8/22/2011 5:53AM

    Try to think about the best of all the seasons while running but admit that the next 2 months are always my favorite time to run. Glad you had such a great ride. Suzy

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SASSYBLONDE69 8/21/2011 9:14PM

    I can see it in my mind - beautiful! I have a lot of those "vintages" stored away. The first strawberry of the year, first tomato, first ride on my new bike (even after dog and I had a misunderstanding causing a fall)... GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may... indeed!

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THEWINNER33 8/21/2011 8:52PM

    So very, very beautiful. Hugs, Marcia

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MARTY728 8/21/2011 8:39PM


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MS_SWEETHEART 8/21/2011 7:36PM

    Absolutely BEAUTIFUL! emoticon

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BAM-MA 8/21/2011 6:26PM

    Great Post, as always! Thanks for taking us along for the ride!

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DORIS32 8/21/2011 3:22PM


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REDSHOES2011 8/21/2011 3:17PM

    great read Don!

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CANBDONE 8/21/2011 3:17PM

    Thanks for the spin!

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MRDPOLING 8/21/2011 3:11PM

    super good blog today! Ride well Rider!

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FRECKS96 8/21/2011 12:31PM

    Love this! Congrats on a wonderful ride!

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ELYMWX 8/21/2011 11:08AM

    Great blog!

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RAINBOWFALLS 8/21/2011 11:05AM

    Fantastic description! I felt like I was there!

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L*I*T*A* 8/21/2011 10:01AM

    emoticon emoticon

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NIKANN7493 8/21/2011 9:48AM

    Wonderful blog! Yesterday was a wonderful day for a ride! Beautiful skies! Bright sun! Perfect temps! Love the pictures and the story! I really like reading your blogs, I feel like i am right there!

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BRTRAINS 8/21/2011 9:45AM

    Great Blog!! Thanks...

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DINGALLSTOO 8/21/2011 9:32AM

    exactly why I love NYS! We do have some of the prettiest days. Great blog Don

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WATERMELLEN 8/21/2011 9:26AM

    What a wonderful blog! So glad that it wasn't arthritis and it's all gone . . .YAY!

And: love the idea of "bottling" summer for slow release over the winter . . . It's something I often consciously remind myself about on the golf course, along the lines of "This is what I daydream about in February!" When you think about burning logs in the fireplace in wintertime from trees which flourished in the summer sun . . . or I suppose buring coal/oil/gas all of which energy sources also came from the sun . . . there is a deep psychological truth here. Yeah!

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LADYGWEN25 8/21/2011 9:22AM

    wow.. I felt i was riding right there with you Don! gonna have to do that before the leaves fall off the trees. :)

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FERRETLOVER1 8/21/2011 7:33AM

    How could you tease me like that with your title? A cold winter's day really sounds good to me right about now - I've had enough of hot summer weather.

Then I read your blog and...aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!! emoticon emoticon

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BECKY3774 8/21/2011 7:21AM

    Your day and your ride sound amazing! Good for you for getting out there and enjoying it emoticon

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BD3269PM 8/21/2011 7:15AM

    Loved your post. Thank you for sharing your summer day. I am not looking forward to the winter months but will try and keep these beautiful summer days in my mind emoticon

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ZELLAZM 8/21/2011 6:51AM

    Super post, Don...it would be nice to be able to bottle up these near-perfect days and uncork them mid-March or so.

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TAMIK1964 8/21/2011 6:30AM

    Love this perspective and your attitude. Glad you were able to get back out there!

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JLITT62 8/21/2011 6:20AM

    Sounds . . .


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SKYFROG 8/21/2011 5:30AM


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Tioga Center Loop with a "Hill"...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My cycling buddy and I had a wonderful 82 / 89 mile (depending on whether you go with the SP Fitness Maps or RidewithGPS.com) ride this past Saturday. Although we initially spoke of heading "South of the Border" into Pennsylvania to Montrose we both got onto talking about not having biked west-ward beyond Owego / Newark Valley. Our bike club was planning a Sunday ride out in Tioga Center, but neither of us were inclined to DRIVE out to where we would cycle. We're both frugal and view DRIVING in order to CYCLE as somewhat defeating the purpose, no? Of course there are special rides that are worth driving for on occasion, but we're inclined to prefer heading out the front door on our bikes.

So we changed plans and headed out, initially with the intent of reaching Waverly / Sayre (which would actually have been just over the PA border). We met at Binghamton's Confluence Park and headed toward Owego where we stopped for a lovely lunch at a store which features many hand-crafted items AND a delish healthy restaurant which has tables on their deck out back overlooking the Susquehanna River: www.handofman.com

We split a huge spinach salad and downed our water as we enjoyed the antics of some sort of canoe Mardis Gras which was passing by. The flotillas were filled with folks who were having a blast paddling and steering their crafts along the WAY shallow river:

Wrapping up our lunch:

We head further westward!

The weather was overcast, but nary a drop...however we were paying attention to the rain that was out west and heading our way, head's up courtesy of a weather report from my son via his smartphone. Here's the view from a bridge in Tioga Center:

We decided not to push our luck by going all the way to Sayre and crossed from 17C over the river. We intended to take 434 back for a different route. Problem was: 434 didn't extend beyond Owego. Instead we just followed our noses and the river which led us to Stanton Hill Road.

Our forefathers who named our roads rarely used the word "Hill" lightly!

What a CLIMB that was!! And lo & behold my cycling buddy, who wasn't keeping her usual pace which is pretty complementary to mine, she CRAWLS to the top and says: "Something is up with my bike. I feel like it is holding me back." I lift the back end up, spin the wheel and see it wobbling so badly that it's rubbing a lot against the body of the bike! No WONDER! I was AMAZED she had been riding as WELL as she was! So here we were a good 40 miles from the bike shop! We managed to get there though and "observant" me totally overlooked the broken spoke she had...ugh! But she was quickly fixed and on her way!

Here's the route we took...a total climb of 2860 feet!


Looking forward to my next big ride...perhaps off to the Delaware Co. Fair this Saturday...? We'll see!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CINNAMONJOY 8/24/2011 10:52PM

    Looks like a fantastic ride! And you are right - They didn't mess around when they called things hills. If it says hill, it is!

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VALERIEMAHA 8/24/2011 10:07AM


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JILLY618 8/20/2011 5:58AM

    Wow looks like a great ride I like your idea of heading out the door and riding I am just starting to get some distance nothing like what you do but did do 38 miles the other day am going to try for 50 as my goal next.

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DAVEINSEOUL 8/18/2011 6:28AM

    Great ride, great pictures, great blog!

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SKINNYPOWELL1 8/17/2011 9:09AM

    emoticonride and great pics. Loved to hear the "Don Chronicles" of biking.

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MS_SWEETHEART 8/17/2011 12:24AM

    emoticonLove the pics. emoticon

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L*I*T*A* 8/16/2011 11:31PM

    awesome share..............
love the pictures
blessings and hugs....lita

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TOOTHFUL99 8/16/2011 9:59PM

    How nice to just spend the day on your bikes. It was the perfect way to enjoy the beauty around you...broken spokes and all!

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/16/2011 7:51PM

    Nostalgia in Spades... I used to live in Newark Valley, and was drawn in by the blog title! There are some serious hills out that way. Happy cycling! emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 8/16/2011 7:47PM

    That is one impressive ride . . . and looks like a lot of fun too (with a few little bumps and spokes in the wheel).

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VARMINT3 8/16/2011 5:57PM

    Looks like a gorgeous ride - was lunch at the River Rose? I've never eaten there, but the view looked like what would be behind there.

After visiting my old stomping grounds in the midwest this weekend (near Chicago), I feel so blessed to be able to live in this gorgeous country - and without the hordes of people that inhabit the flatlands, too! Just enough people to make friends emoticon.

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CANBDONE 8/16/2011 1:22PM

    The power of friendship...

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MRDPOLING 8/16/2011 11:36AM

    Wow what an awesome view! I seriously need a day like this!

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SASSYCHRIS1952 8/16/2011 10:19AM

    Once again, thanks for sharing and posting great pictures! I was wondering----do you mean Delaware County in PA?

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Extraordinarily BLESSED Ride Today!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Yesterday was such a LONG day of sitting on my hands, being grumpy and testy over having Day One of BikeTioga washed out. I had been getting out more during the week in anticipation of Bike Tioga...!

Bad as it was NOT cycling, I knew I'd be even WORSE after a soaking ride...!

Today? I wasn't going to be denied again! So off I went! Berkshire metric century here I come!

I tried keeping up with the fast puppies in front for the first 10 miles, then I gave up, figuring I've got three climbs to save my energy for...! Pacing myself was going to be important on this OH-so-muggy day! I saw 85 on a bank thermometer around 11 a.m...don't know how high it climbed. Stopped to chat with a couple fellows, commented on how fortunate we were not to have any rain yet, even though clouds were everywhere and we were dealing with hazy misty valleys. Then noticed a kindred spirit in the one fellow who was making like yours truly: a human water sprinkler...I said: "Um, except we're making our OWN rain!" and gave my t-shirt a shake with a smile on my face.

OOF what climbs! Three of them, around 1500 ft apiece...excruciatingly slow at times, but no WALKS! :-) The SWOOPS on the other side helped MUCHLY to offset those climbs, with the exception of the last descent which was gravel and too chancy not to be braking a lot on the way down.

Toward the end of the ride there was a few sprinkles, one of which grew into an outright pour, but I ducked in to get a soda as I'd been plumb outta water and getting pretty parched. By the time I downed the soda the rain stopped: voila! Off to wrap up the ride! Had run into fellow local members of SparkPeople along the way: LADYGWEN25 and NIKANN7493 and we enjoyed chatting a bit about the ride. I'm SO IMPRESSED with NIKANN7493 being able to do such rides on my son's old Diamondback Wildwood mountain bike, which I sold a while back to LADYGWEN25, who passed it along! Can't wait to see her take off like a BOTTLE ROCKET when she gets a full-fledged road bike!

After packing up, putting my bike on the car rack and on my way home...what should happen but the skies ripped open and the heavens shook, rattled and rolled with the HEAVIEST most INTENSE downpour! I was on the interstate where traffic crawled to 30 mph!

I looked upward, gave praise and savored my ride EVER so much MORE! :-)

Today's ride will have to hold me during this rainy week ahead!

Up to 1128 miles for the season!


Here's a link to my ride: ridewithgps.com/routes/586095

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VALERIEMAHA 8/24/2011 10:08AM

    A Spin Warrior -- YES!

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CANBDONE 8/15/2011 5:10PM

    You reinvented yourself into a Spin Warrior!

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DAVEINSEOUL 8/13/2011 9:13PM

    You definitely had someone looking out for you, Don. I know what it's like to 'slog' through a downpour - I ended up doing it this morning for about eight miles - it was NOT fun!

Better than no bike ride at all, I guess - I was anticipating doing some serious climbing this weekend myself, so I gave my body two days off to prepare. So I was itching for a ride - but when I got up, I decided not to go climbing, but do my usual route on the river. Which was great, because I would rather negotiate a flat path in a drenching downpour than have to negotiate a downhill run in one.

Sounds like you had a great ride!

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TERRYMEMPHIS 8/13/2011 6:47PM

    Awesome for you. Totally impressive. .i'm @ only 466 miles for the year. Multiple injuries as well as a physical job with McD's. Today 2 miles slow after not riding for two weeks. So far so good. One of these days Ill be right behind you. I'll recognize you for sure. God Bless you Don. Terry

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2BMYOWN 8/12/2011 12:31PM

    Woo hoo, the rain fairies were with ya that day, weren't they? That's totally awesome! The way the weather and the heat has been this year, it literally amazes me to see what all people are still managing to accomplish outside. Kudos for such a great ride, Don, that's stupendous, and even better that you didn't get caught in the downpour until AFTER your ride was completed!

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VARMINT3 8/12/2011 7:43AM

    Sounds like a great day!

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CDGOLDILOCKS 8/10/2011 12:35PM

    Nothing like a great ride. Biking is wonderful.

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NIKANN7493 8/10/2011 7:52AM

    Thank you Don for the shoutout! That ride was a very enjoyable ride. I was certainly hoping for a mostly dry ride, and when it did rain a bit... it felt great! Especially on the thighs! I can't wait to get a full fledge road bike! I burned almost 2000 calories that day! I am definately impressed that I was able to ride the full 44 miles that day. Thank you! It was nice to bump into you once again! :)

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OUTDOORGIRL69 8/9/2011 9:45PM

    emoticon I am very impressed. Just wish I could get out and do some walking. The knee is killing me and the DR hasn't decided what he is going to do with it yet.

Keep riding for me also.

Comment edited on: 8/9/2011 9:45:37 PM

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WATERMELLEN 8/9/2011 5:47PM

    Fun blog . . . and you're clearly having a terrific time with your biking and your real life sparking!!

It's always so nice to hear from you: like you I had orthodontry done as a kid and yeah, it does slow you down a bit!!

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SASSYCHRIS1952 8/9/2011 11:52AM

    emoticon emoticon

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SKINNYPOWELL1 8/9/2011 9:23AM

    Bet the rain really cooled you off, lol. I love hearing your bike stories. You rock dude.

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LADYGWEN25 8/8/2011 8:32AM

    yeah Don.. I"m so happy i decided not to add the extra miles on.. i would've been SOAKED! ANd i'm up to 959.82 miles! Catching up to you!!! :)

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JLITT62 8/8/2011 5:36AM

    Impressive that you did all that considering how muggy yesterday was! No rain at all here yesterday - plenty the day before, tho.

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L*I*T*A* 8/8/2011 12:41AM

    emoticon emoticon

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LMLOPEZ 8/7/2011 10:57PM

    Don, I am so amazed every time you post with your biking adventures. How wonderful that the heavens were nice enough to wash your bike for you after your ride ;)
Great job-you are an inspiration!

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TAMIK1964 8/7/2011 10:49PM

    What perfect timing! Glad you had a great ride!

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Chasing Hot Air...!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Busy day / night...after cycling to work this morning I wrapped up early, around 2-3 pm as I worked late last night taking clients out for a fun time at our local zoo rossparkzoo.com/ which I hadn't been to in AGES and found the guided tour to be pretty cool! It's one of the oldest zoos in the country!

Anyhow, buzzed from work to the fitness center to spend some time...missed out on ST earlier this week so I did three sets of 15 each and then hit the pool for a bit and THEN caught up with a couple of private practice clients and THEN hopped on my bike around 7 pm to see if I could catch the hot air balloon launch: spiediefest.com/

As I cruised along I could spot a few in the air. I knew I couldn't head up Front St. so I took Chenango St. toward Chenango Bridge up around 12A and then down Front St. to catch up with family and watch the fireworks display. Saw around 5-6 hot air balloons up around the Chen. Bridge area which was neat...felt like I was chasing them up there! :-)

So after a busy day I settle in to catch up with the weather as I planned to cycle www.biketioga.com/ both on Sat. and Sun., 60+ miles both days.

But I'm bummed: weather tomorrow just looks too, too foreboding and filled with rain and thunderstorms. Earlier this week I had the mixed pleasure of a wonderful cycling commute to work in the cool morning, followed by a thoroughly soaking 10 mile ride home in the afternoon...TOTALLY reminding me how much I really REALLY *HATE* to cycle in the rain! It was just a light drizzle, but when one is plowing into it at 15 mph or so there simply is no such thing as a light drizzle.

Glasses get filled with water which cool down the outside and me steaming up on the inside and fogging up my glasses, so I pulled them down to peek over the top of 'em and as I'm streaking down my 1,000 foot hill almost home, thoroughly fair and square on the shoulder of the road some dimwit lays into his horn as he streaks on by. Seasoned as I am it didn't rattle me, but annoyed the HECK outta me! What do people like this get out of such behavior?!?! A thrill out of a vehicular manslaughter conviction as a jangled cyclist goes under the wheel?!?!

So, yep, have finally made up my mind I'm gonna wuss out on tomorrow's ride. Sunday also calls for rain, but much lower probability and not a thunderstorm.

Here are the two rides I've been eagerly awaiting:

Saturday's: Brooktondale Loop ridewithgps.com/routes/587031

Sunday's: Berkshire Metric Century ridewithgps.com/routes/586095

Both with a similar total miles (60 some) and elevation (2700 ft). Lots of serious climbs!

Perhaps on Sunday I can get started earlier and add some miles to it.

We'll see!

Everyone have a SPARKED weekend! :-)


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

2BMYOWN 8/12/2011 12:27PM

    Good gawd, iron man, I get amazed all over again every time I read one of your cycling blogs! LOL We have a hot air balloon rally every year in our little burg, had one land in my back field once, that was pretty cool. Saw in the paper this year they're going to have a Darth Vader balloon, how cool is that????? Keep on truckin'....or, er, cyclin'.....sparky bud! Good to see that 'pep in your step' again!

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MRDPOLING 8/7/2011 8:30PM

    wait? You road your bike to work and then to the fitness center to work out? Isnt' that a workout to go workout? hehe!

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CINNAMONJOY 8/7/2011 7:09PM

    I missed Spiedie Fest with the balloons! I can't believe it! I totally intended to go this year and take pictures. I had to work today. Boooo. emoticon

It sounds great though - Chasing the balloons on a bike. It must be such a free feeling! I don't understand why motorists have to be jerks toward bicyclists. It's seriously stupid.

The weather yesterday was horrid. We finally squeezed in a walk last night around midnight. The early am was beautiful today - There was a valley fog on the hills above the river that was absolutely gorgeous.

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VARMINT3 8/6/2011 7:22PM

    Good luck tomorrow! I didn't have the option of wimping out on hosting a gaggle of 7-year-olds for a water games party this afternoon - it was chilly, but they went outside anyhow & got all wet emoticon

Last night I didn't see any balloons - they must not have been heading toward downtown, where I was dancing for First Friday http://www.gorgeouswashington.com/f
irstfridaysmore.htm - we're not listed entertainment, but we often appear during the summer months, somewhere around near any one of these venues where there is no amplified music...

Comment edited on: 8/6/2011 7:26:18 PM

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LADYGWEN25 8/6/2011 4:15PM

    I'm goign to try and bike to Sunday's event as well. Decided to do the 41 mile loop beacuse it gives me the option of looping twice to get my century ride in...PLus i get to ride with Nicole and Deb, the triclub member i've been talking about.. I've decided maybe she's trying to reach out to me for some help..and i'm gonna try and give it the best i can.

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MISS_VIV 8/6/2011 11:29AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BILL60 8/6/2011 7:59AM

    Hang in there and see if you can get in a short one.

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L*I*T*A* 8/6/2011 6:57AM

    hope the weather does not rain on your parade....
enjoy what you can...........
blessings and hugs............lita


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BD3269PM 8/6/2011 6:40AM

    Wow what a ride you do! Such stamina and determination. Stay motivated and keep on Sparking! emoticon

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JLITT62 8/6/2011 5:36AM

    Sorry that the weather is raining on your parade, so to speak. Maybe get back to the gym?

It's a very purple sunrise at the moment here . . . probably not a good omen.

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TAMIK1964 8/6/2011 2:06AM

    Wow, what a day!! Hope the storms hold long enough for you to ride :)

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COLOURFULME 8/6/2011 12:23AM

    Thanks again for your blog. Love your background too! I know you now close to two years and I feel so proud of you. You have really been able to turn it all around and keep it turned around. That give me hope I will manage again!!!!

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The Most Difficult Muscles To Build & Maintain

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My apologies over my extended absence from the blogosphere. It's not YOU, my wonderfully supportive SparkFamily, but it has been ME!

My summer has been off to a lackluster start...my Spark has been waning...but am working really hard to turn this around! My biggie? Food & pounds. Workouts continue to be pretty solid...but you can't work off ongoing bad food choices. I'm getting back to tracking (got WAY off track) and limiting my sugar / grain-based carbs.

While I've stayed dedicated to working out almost every day, I've SO strayed from exercising the same diligence with my food choices and instead of using all that angst toward motivating myself toward HEALTH and QUALITY OF LIFE (thank you for the important thoughts in your blog, 2BMYOWN!) I've done WAY too much self-bashing. Those old, negative pathways are just SO EASY to slip and slide down. It really takes some extra vigilance and effort to take the better, healthier path. THESE are by FAR the most difficult muscles to build and maintain!

But the deeper thing have been the "blahs"...having really hit a wall. It's even taken a toll on my love of cycling. Too many workouts and solo cycling outings have felt like pointless hamster wheel spinning...music on my mp3 player at the fitness center seeming like mindless nattering... It's been too easy to back off on the cycling: "oh, a chance of showers? 90+ degrees?" Last year I wouldn't have thrown in the towel anywhere NEAR so readily as I've been!

It's all wrapped up in the backslide and the pounds, unquestionably. Every hill climb out on my bike reminds me of these extra pounds and there's a part of me bashing myself. Even while receiving a compliment from another bike club member yesterday! He's one of the speedier members and does long distances on a regular basis. He cycled 40 miles before catching up with the club and joining us for OUR miles of riding after which he would be cycling back home his 40 miles!! Anyhow he cycled up beside me while I was churning those pedals around, too hyperfocused on the ground beneath and immediately before me and not paying enough attention to the beautiful summer's day through which we sped at the head of our club ride. Breaking my attention he said: "Don, you're an ANIMAL!" Made me smile, but while I thanked him I had to qualify it as I immediately flashed to thoughts of my pounds and said in self-deprecating humor: "Yeah, talk to me on this next climb we have coming up!"

And this is happening in the middle of SUMMER of all things when I should be BURSTING with joy over the ample opportunities to get out and soak up the great outdoors! I've been busy doing a lot of things, a lot of cycling...even racking up over a THOUSAND miles over the past 4 months. And at the same time while reflecting on that my automatic counter-thought is: yeah but imagine what that number would be if you weren't holding yourself back so much!

My sun sign is Libra...and sometimes I find the back and forth balance of the scales, seeing all the pros & cons, to be so IMMOBILIZING!

Obviously I've got to get on to taking care of business with my food. And while I'm sure this will help my mood to some extent, a part of me is semi-stuck on the thought of "what if it doesn't?"

So back to my absence: feeling like a "fallen angel" after beating myself up the way I have I have a great deal of shame and feel very embarrassed, thinking I'd better just go away, get my act together and come back when I've reclaimed my momentum.

But that hasn't worked! So here I am, pushing through all my inner muck and determined to publicly slog it out! Fighting through the "domesticated despair" O'Connor speaks of: "At its best our age is an age of searchers and discoverers, and at its worst, an age that has domesticated despair and learned to live with it happily." - Flannery O'Connor

I liked this quote and am trying to hold onto this at all times. Getting out of my own way...but Lao Tzu says it better:

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
-- Lao Tzu

Here's to re-joining you "searchers and discoverers" and becoming "what we might be!"


ps...Thx you SONGBUDDHA for your support through this...been listening to U2's "Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of"...thx for pointing me toward another great song!

pps...perhaps I might dust off some of the pics I've gathered and share some of my adventures from the past several weeks. Sometimes it may FEEL like my life has ground to a halt, but REALLY there have been things happening...!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SONGBUDDHA 8/6/2011 5:37PM

    Awesome, awesome, awesome!!! Just caught up with this today (yep, STILL on vacation!!).
No other words--you are phenomenal!!!!!

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MISS_VIV 8/6/2011 11:09AM

    When I see your new profile - and think (and look) back to when you first started I cannot believe it is the same person. Bad food choices.. watch it.
I'll be givin' ya' da boot ya kno wher emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KINSBAILE 8/4/2011 11:02AM

    Don, you're too hard on yourself! You are doing SO well but I have to admit, I have been feeling a bit of the same thing! So, I think we must change it up a bit perhaps?

At any rate, I know you'll be back on the SP Bandwagon in no time :)

Keep on truckin' my friend!

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BAM-MA 8/3/2011 10:35AM

    Ready for this...?

I am GLAD to see you wrestling your Demons!

Cause, if you aren't wrestling them... then they are winning!

None of us are perfect every day.
None of us have motivation and positive outlook every day.
It is not how you get through the good times, but how you battle through the bad times that are the true indicator of your strength.

Kudos to acknowledging your troubles and allowing US to boost You instead of it always having to be the other way around!

Hang in there, and thanks for sharing!

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WATERMELLEN 8/2/2011 9:28PM

    Terrific blog: I "liked" it!! Sure do get that "lives of quiet desperation" thing and: just not good enough for us, is it? Plus I simply never can exercise enough to eat whatever I want: it's not possible. Have to face the reality that I'm going to have to track nutrition for the rest of my life to keep my weight in maintenance mode. And catch the weight creep at the beginning of the "climb" . . . not when it's up 20 or so. Yeah.

Looking around at the world helps me so much: and I can tell, it works for you too!! Sunshine, blue sky, green grass, birds: simple stuff, the stuff that counts the most: the stuff that I want to remain healthy enough to enjoy for many many years to come. Worth the "price" of eating less . . . permanently.

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MRDPOLING 8/1/2011 10:05PM

    I think many of us have issues with the old self not wanting to die from time to time. I know I dealt with it most of winter and spring but I've been back on the waggon for a while now.

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VARMINT3 8/1/2011 6:09PM

    Don, you are really amazing and inspiring... even when you don't think you are! Take care of yourself and do what you need to do to get back where you need to be - and I hope we can support you through this half as well as you've supported so many of us! You're still WAY up there on the BAL exercise minutes leaderboard even though you're struggling - way to go!

It is really easy to see this uncharacteristically warm weather as an obstacle - I hate it & want my nice cool summers back! And I'm trying really hard not to just pack it in until fall (mostly successfully, but I have canned a few workouts because "it's just too hot!"). But hey, people not too far south of here have this every day, all summer, every summer & seem to like it, so it can't be all bad, right? (OK, maybe I'm trying too hard LOL!).

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CCKELLY3 8/1/2011 4:23PM

    Hey, you're noticing the trends of backsliding and that's good. Honestly, what worried me most was not that you've put on a few pounds (that's a problem simple enough to fix when motivated) but the underlying things-- the lack of joy and fun and how negative you're being about yourself-- you're seeing all you're doing wrong. No wonder you feel unmotivated!

I know for myself, whenever I start to feel the old habits of putting myself down, focusing on my weaknesses and that horrible beast, perfectionism-- creeping back into my life, I'm learning that means it's time to give myself a break and focus on joy and fun. For instance, I am trying to defeat a lifelong anxiety of swimming, due to a near-death drowning when I was a toddler. Anyway-- there are days like today when I can't seem to get my body to relax and I am thrashing around like an uncoordinated beast-- if I 'yell' at myself, it just gets worse. So instead, I try to lie back, focus on the blue sky, the gorgeous day, the sounds of the children in the kiddie pool laughing and feel the joy of the cool water holding me, lifting me and the freedom that's almost like flying when I let my body relax.

It's not easy when you're really driven to just enjoy life-- my best friend and business mgr tells me I'm the worst relaxer he's ever met. And I'm infamous for being my own worst critic on everything-- but after a point, that is self-defeating.

Maybe try pampering yourself a little, treating yourself to something special and telling yourself all the things you have accomplished, and continue to accomplish-- how wonderful you are. And maybe, just maybe, take a few days to only do fun activities, without counting any calories burned or logging the workouts-- just be in the activity and feel the fun of it. If it isn't fun, then do something else till you find something fun. The laugh, sing or shout WHEEEEE!!! going downhill (yes, I do that, it really lifts your spirits!) until you completely forget you're working out and you find your play. Go get your PLAY on!!! :) You deserve it.

Okay, that's my 20 cents worth-- sorry it's so long. :)

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ZELLAZM 8/1/2011 2:26PM

    You are so right - the most difficult muscle to change and maintain is the BRAIN! Just by posting you've told that muscle that you mean business and that it's time to stop the negative self-talk and move on. As others have said, it takes guts to share the bad and ugly (referring to those slimy thoughts!) along with the good.

I'm so impressed by some of the wisdom shared here by our fellow Sparkers! What a great community! And you, Don, are a major player in that community if you ask me. Sure, there are others who've made phenomenal progress, but I've had the privilege of knowing you from Week 1 and seeing it happen. Besides that, you are one of the biggest Share-the-Spark Sparkers of all time!

You're gonna make it!

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REYVE01 8/1/2011 1:04PM

    It's amazing..... regardless how far we come or how well we achieved, this is an ongoing battle. A lifestyle change doesn't just happen. We need to have continued adjustments and renewed spark to keep up with the changes. You'll push pass this phase... you have come to far to turn back now. emoticon

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L*I*T*A* 8/1/2011 10:24AM

    we have all been there done that too......
remember where you were and where you are going....
struggles come to us all....keep on keeping on....
you are an inspiration to so many here...
we are here for you....
blessings and hugs...........lita

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LADYGWEN25 8/1/2011 9:49AM

    glad to see you back on here blogging Don... If you ever need someone to cycle with.. I'm game :) are you doing Bike Tioga this coming weekend???

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SKINNYPOWELL1 8/1/2011 7:38AM

    Be kind to yourself DON, you are truly amazing. When we feel like we are backsliding, we must get back to the basics. You know how it's done. Congrats on the 1000 miles.

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FERRETLOVER1 8/1/2011 7:04AM

    Don, I've have been where you are. It really takes guts to admit publicly that you're struggling...I am very proud of you for being able to do that.

Acknowledging that you are having troubles is a HUGE part of winning that battle!

I know you will be able to come back even stronger.

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JLITT62 8/1/2011 5:29AM

    It's when you're struggling the most that you NEED us the most. Backsliding doesn't make you shameful, it simply makes you human.

Please don't beat yourself up, you are so much better than that & you WILL turn things around.

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DAISYBELL6 8/1/2011 3:45AM

    Up and down. That's the way it goes. But consistency and perserverenhce will make the difference. You have what it takes and you will pass through this period. We are all rooting for you.

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TOPAHI 8/1/2011 2:02AM

    Thanks for sharing Don.

Just so you know, I'm in almost the exact same situation.
It's nice to know I'm not alone.
My workouts have been good, but my nutrition has been poor, and my cycling has been lagging too.
I've felt terrible for not being able to stay on track.
I'm up about four pounds.

Thanks for being braver than I am and blogging about it.
This blog and others you have posted have helped me a lot.

I am trying to work my way through this period by telling myself that I actually only have to fix ONE thing... my nutrition.
I'm doing really good at everything else.
It seems that you're in the same place

So tomorrow is the start of a new month... the perfect opportunity to re-focus.

Soooo... time to get back to losing weight.

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MS_SWEETHEART 8/1/2011 1:48AM

    Don't be so hard on yourself, you have had wonderful success, and you look amazing. Just in case you forgot, nobody is perfect, we all stray a little from time to time. You'll be back on track in no time. emoticon emoticon

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2BMYOWN 8/1/2011 1:00AM

    You're just in one of life's hang-ups, Don, and it's all just a part of life in an imperfect world. Everything changes on a moment-to-moment basis.....and the valleys always come as a result of that constant change. Nobody is capable of keeping it going ALL the time, that's just the way it is. Our feelings change by the minute, our circumstances change by the minute.....life changes by the minute (or nanosecond, which is prob more accurate! lol). Has nothing to do with you being 'less than' at all...just has everything to do with hitting one of those valleys that we can't help but hit along this path. So to rake yourself over the coals because you are in a dip only adds psychological self-defeat, because you know we are always our own worst critics, and it makes us feel even worse than we do already and puts a whole new burden on your own shoulders that shouldn't even be there. Just go out on a beautiful day with no intent other than to enjoy the beautiful day....let the miles slide by, feel the wind in your face, and enjoy the sunshine. And if you wanna stop to enjoy a drink along the way, then just stop. Do it for the sake of doing it, and not for the exercise or for the calories or anything else. Sometimes you have to go back to the beginning to re-find the joy 'cause in the midst of working it, we tend to lose the joy and only concentrate on the work. You are totally awesome, and I don't wanna hear any comeback to that statement! LOL

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BARBARA_BOO 8/1/2011 12:13AM

    Don, no one thinks any the less of you for doing what every single solitary one of us does from time to time. You have witnessed me struggling through some rough spots, I know.

I think the whole thing might be somehow tied to goals. We lose steam, or at least I do, when we aren't moving toward something. SparkGuy has said, in many different ways, that we are goal-seeking creatures and that when we knock down one goal, it's important to find another.

You achieved a lot with your biking. Could it be that you are just in the throes of finding the next thing (big or small) to get excited about, whether it has to do with biking or something else that interests you? Any "someday I'd like to" goals floating around? If so, even a small beginning on one of them might be a pleasant surprise.

In addition to the goal-seeking thing, there's always that bugaboo, perfectionism, that flies around us like a hoard of gnats, whenever we think we've made a mistake. You obviously know better than to beat yourself up about taking a break and letting things slide. I'm interpreting your blog as a decision to forgive yourself and move forward from where you are today, with a big smile? We all have our moments of sloth. Be proud of your humanity!
I would also ask that you consider losing the self-deprecating humor. What good does it do?

You are the same terrific you, regardless of what you weigh on any given day. It's great to hear from you.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MJREIMERS 7/31/2011 11:36PM

    Balancing the Libra scales can be difficult! However, you're on the right track and I like the Lao Tzu quote. Print it out and put it on your fridge, your bathroom mirror and next to your bed. Keep reading it, meditate on it and it will come true. Good luck! emoticon

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