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!
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
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.
Everyone have a SPARKED weekend! :-)
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...!
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Yesterday was an enjoyable 50 mile ride heading "south" of the NY / PA border for a stretch of rail-to-trails extending northward through little burgs above Scranton, PA. We followed the Delaware and Hudson Rail-Trail (packed gravel surface) through Carbondale into the Endless Mountains to Union Dale.
From their web page www.lhva.org/biketour.html :
"Join us for the 2nd Annual Heritage Explorer Bike Tour on Saturday, June 18, 2011, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Mellow Park in Peckville, PA. Hosted by the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority (LHVA), the Bike Tour is a non-competitive, family-friendly event with something for every rider. Last year, more than 300 people of all ages participated in the inaugural event."
I think they topped 500 riders this year! What a wonderful thing to see so many volunteers out there helping to put this event together and showing so much pride in what their community has been able to accomplish!
Figuring that parking at the event might be tough and ALSO wanting to add a few more miles to the 44 mile event I left the van at the hotel and rode my bike up to Peckville. 50 miles has a MUCH better ring to it than 44...lol! Fortunately my DW happens to know an old friend who lives in the area and they were able to take off and visit with each other while I rode.
Here is a rough map of the 44 mile round trip we rode: goo.gl/maps/81V6 There was probably around 50 of us from my bike club who traveled down for the event. I caught up with a fellow member (another Don! :-) ) and we hung with each other for the most part with very complimentary pacing to our rides:
At various points I could hear the Lackawana River rushing alongside the trail so I would hop off the bike and wander off the trail so I could treat myself to hidden nooks of nature such as these:
The weather was picture-perfect with mid-80s, lots of sunshine and many rest stops with ice cold water, apples and oranges. The volunteers at the upper end of the route in Union Dale were particularly enthusiastic and took such pride in their rail-to-trail. One gal spoke of how they have to fight off the four-wheelers who try to take over the trail which is clearly marked with signs of "no motorized vehicles allowed." The four-wheelers have such a cocky sense of entitlement and attitude! At many points of the trail there are gates designed to be narrow enough to allow walkers & cyclists but blocking larger motorized ATVs & four-wheelers.
Challenges of the ride? Being off-road! I'm a pavement kinda guy...lol! Now I have little difficulty with hard-packed dirt with some crushed stone, but there were stretches of rocky trail which had me beside myself navigating the path of least bone-rattling resistance...whew! Slowed me down CONSIDERABLY! Technically, my ride is a cyclocross (Specialized Tricross) which is designed to handle mud & dirt, but there is no suspension as many mountain bikes have. I have a little more width and grip to my tires though, for which I was grateful yesterday! I don't wear gloves when I ride. My hands never complain and I figure one less thing I have to remember to take which would probably only make me feel the heat even more! But I have to say: Yesterday for the first time my hands were sore after that ride!
There were stretches of the trail with large puddles spanning the width of the trail, causing one to oh-so-carefully skirt around the edges of the puddle hoping not to slide or topple into them!
At times the crushed stone was loose enough that my tires would do some scooting around to keep 'er moving! Made me MUCH appreciate being back on pavement! :-)
Here's a few of us cyclists at the end of the line in Union Dale taking a break:
And the old mill behind the market in Union Dale:
A few more pics along the way:
All in all, a most satisfying ride!
PS...forgot to update my total miles for the season so far: 588!
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