Sunday, October 02, 2011
I rarely remember my dreams. I'm sure I still dream...but it's only once a year or so that I remember my dreams.
Today I didn't have much time for my ride as it was late in the day and I knew it would be a race against the sunset. To make it more of a challenge I decided to tackle Belden Hill from two different routes. Within the 30 miles of my ride I climbed over 2,000 feet!
Here is the map of my ride which includes the various elevations:
Last year that first little blip of a hill around the 3 mile marker...? THAT would have been a challenge for me! You can see how much I blew that away with the climbs I did during the rest of the ride!
After working hard climbing route 79 through tiny, virtually non-existent towns in name only such as Quinneville and North Fenton for my first descent, I reached the summit with trees crowding both sides of the road. As I pushed on through the road pulled me out into a breathtaking vista sprawling on and on before me and down I FLEW into the valley straight and true, never touching the brakes as the road was in perfect condition. I'm betting I hit between 40-50 mph whizzing by a tractor, the only other vehicle on the road as far as I could see.
Not much rest after that descent before, heading westward into the sun which was moving closer to the horizon, I'm climbing again. During this descent, feeling the sun fueling my ride it occurs to me:
As a little boy I used to have recurring dreams of flying. Usually they would begin by stumbling as I'm walking down a stairwell. Except instead of falling I spread my arms and glide through the air! I'm betting it was a way for me to find a way out of my obesity and being able to move my body through the world in ways of which I could only dream.
When I'm streaking on down these hills it feels so much like I felt during these dreams...! At least as close as one can come within the limits of the physics of this world! Tapping into these memories it dawned on me why cycling means so much to me!
I typically struggle so much to let the child within come out to play...but not on my bike! Very similar feeling also to those years spent swimming in Lake Michigan for hours on end. Fearless and reckless like a little boy, just having a blast! Living life to the fullest!
Today? Woo hoo-ing, laughing and smiling as I sailed into the setting sun ( runnin' into the sun... www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJYRtOPUonA )...it was such a fine, fine day!
ps...while I've slacked in racking up the miles as these colder, darker days with more rain have been plenty, I've still racked an impressive 1739 miles so far this cycling season.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Yep: Back on track, re-committing to myself and dusting off all the stuff I know that works for me as I have written before. I'm coming to appreciate more & more the value of blogging and building a reservoir of one's trials and tribulations and more importantly, of one's wisdom and self-knowledge. When life pulls the rug out from under and you're frozen like deer in the headlights? You have all your smarts chronicled away in your blogs. I google 'em...where is that blog I wrote about...? Works pretty well!
How did all of this get started? After I did that awesome NYC Century I got an e-mail from Brightroom...a service that takes zillions of photos of athletes at events such as marathons and cycling, etc. They then offer to sell you photos of yourself in action. I thought: cool! I could finally get a good pic of me in action on my bike!
Well I went to look at the pics and was not very happy with what I saw! Despite my internal feeling and perception of myself as a light & sprite cyclist zooming about the city the external reality was a whole different story. Who stuffed that pillow bunched up around my belly as I'm bending over riding my bike?!?!
Well *I* did, that's who!
I saved a few thumbnails from Brightroom...not going to pay for a blow up of THESE! My 1st reaction was to tuck these away in shame. But I've decided I will share them after all as a motivator for myself. I want to look on a bicycle like I FEEL when I'm grooving to a workout while listening to Pat Metheny's tune "Eighteen": www.youtube.com/watch?v=sffBikk0dkw Revved, light & sprite!
So here are the thumbnails from the ride:
And here are a few that showed up under my number even though I don't see myself...just to share a few more itsy-bitsy slices of that Big Apple:
Now I realize it's only been a few days, but I've been back to my morning treadmill workouts, tracking all my food on the nutrition tracker and most importantly this morning I jumped back on the scale after an oh-so-long hiatus!
Like many of you I have a real messed up relationship with the scale. I struggle so NOT to give the numbers such power to BOOST or CRASH my self-esteem. They are just numbers. Like so many who have been successful in losing and more importantly maintaining their weight I'm still learning how numbers give me power. They remind me that in this world where SO much is beyond our control there are some vitally important things that are ALWAYS under our control.
I anticipated a much higher number on the scale and was amazed to find myself weighing in at 238. Not a good number at ALL, but a do-able number. I've been here, done this and although I'm getting tired of doing the Sisyphus rock-rolling up the hill I'm pleased to find that I haven't lost as much ground as I have in the past.
It seems when I let myself go and do my own thing I gravitate around the 240 mark. Although I take *some* comfort in this I know these are some decidedly dangerous waters in which sharks patrol! www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bc9N-SPNsJE
Dusted off my old workout room as my fitness center is STILL bouncing back from the flood. I got over this sense of going back to "kindergarden" in retreating to my old home workout routines which I followed before joining the fitness center and am now getting up in the morning and tackling my treadmill 1st thing in the morning before my day runs away with itself.
It worked before. It will work again!
Another thought: a rebuttal to myself in an old blog where I contemplate this seeming "set point" of 240 which I reach when left to my own non-tracking devices. I once upon a time considered: is 240 "good enough"...? After all the extremely high weights I've run in my past, can I take comfort in the ability to maintain myself around 240? Is it "worth it"...? All the tracking, vigilance and diligence?
My present answer (hey, I realize NOTHING is ever set in STONE...!) is: Nope. It ain't good enough. I'm still WAY to critical of my body at this weight and there is far too great a dissonance between the lightness of my spirit and desires and what this body of mine will allow.
What's the magic number? Perhaps the 200 pound mark I reached in March 2010. We'll see.
Another goal I'm dangling in front of me? Dancing. I'm hearing that, of all places, a local martial arts studio offers a low-key beginner's dance class which might be a good fit for me. I may need to lose a little more weight before I jump in as I am OH-so-self-conscious and critical of my body and klutziness. We'll see...
But I really do YEARN to match my body with the ever-in-motion spirit of lightness and brightness that so often courses through my being!
Yours in SPARK!
Monday, September 26, 2011
Amnesia has struck again!
I call it the fog…not the misty, dreamy, rolling type through which the geese were honking and flying southward, bringing to mind Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where The Time Goes?” ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oBMDcLf6WA ) while on my cycling commute to work this morning.
But the kind of fog Stephen King might write about, filled with amorphous sharp things that detach me from my wisdom and cause me to forget my wise mind, bringing about an attack of the Deathly Stupids!
I often kid about how thick men can be, yours truly included sometimes, requiring the oh-so-subtle 2 x 4 approach! Or to be a tad more kind, requiring the Zen slap! c2.com/cgi/wiki?ZenSlap
Well, leave it to the kindness of my SparkFamily to come to the rescue.
Out of the blue folks have been swinging by some of my more memorable blogs of yore, leaving supportive, appreciative comments but more importantly serving to bring my attention to insights, motivations and goals that I have allowed to be snatched from me by that insidious fog.
Unfortunately one of my first responses is to self-deprecatingly wonder why in the heck anyone would want to browse through MY blogs…?
After re-reading some of my past writings and feeling a bit of detachment (who IS this dude who wrote such things?!?!) I come around to realizing, “Hey, you can be pretty on the mark sometimes! THIS is what you’re really all about, not the past several months of half-living!”
That’s not to say I haven’t had wonderful moments during the past several months. But underneath it all there has been a sense of being adrift and certainly NOT on my game regarding my food choices and workouts.
Thank you, and shout out to GIVINGUPTHEPLUS and TRUETOU for stopping by and commenting on my blog “Choosing My Hard: Living vs. Dying”
It was the Zen slap I’ve needed for a long time!
Monday, September 19, 2011
This ride was NOT supposed to happen. My cycling buddy and I had spoken about doing the NYC Century quite a while back when someone in our cycling club mentioned it. www.nyccentury.org
But life went on and there was no further mention of it so I figured it was a no-go.
However on Thurs., only 3 days beforehand, she brought up the idea of the ride again. First reaction? Annoyance! We coulda shoulda woulda made GREAT plans for this...but NOW at THIS late point?!?
But then I thought...you know, I'm too much of a stick-in-the-mud...spontaneity does NOT come to me readily.
So YES! Let's GO FOR IT!
We scheme all sorts of ways to find a place to crash Sat. night before the Sun. ride. Everything is either "no vacancy" or $300 / night...ugh!
Going with the theme of spontaneity I suggest we just sleep over in the car. Not ideal, but for one night? Why not? You only live once! I did manage to e-mail someone through Warm Showers ( www.warmshowers.org/ ) and left my phone # just in case they could put us up at the last minute.
Turned out my cycling friend at the last minute (a few hours before departure on Sat.) found a wonderful fellow not too far out on Long Island (her friend's father) who agreed to host us for the night! He was a delightful man who took us out to a Chinese restaurant and we enjoyed much conversation before a short but restful sleep.
Neither of us are in least bit familiar with anything but the largest of landmarks in NYC. We were due at the start of the ride at the northern edge of Central Park for registration by 5:30 a.m. Paranoia over making the journey in sufficient time we woke up at 3:30 and made it with 15 mins. to spare. Whew! Garmin was our lifesaver!
Registered, we were OFF and cycling by around 6 a.m. and made it through Manhattan to the Brooklyn Bridge to soak up the sunrise:
Another view from the bridge:
Here's the tune from my internal radio that was playing:
This was a very different ride from the 5 Borough Ride I completed earlier this year in May: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=4205481 That ride was very unnatural in that they closed down streets / expressways and had police or volunteers directing bikes / traffic at nearly every intersection. The good part of that was the ride was more sheltered and protected and in many ways a great introduction to cycling in NYC. The bad part of that was the interminable waiting and HIGH need for patience.
The NYC Century made us feel like we were "locals" and in the know on all the great riding venues. Highly enjoyable. But not without anxieties.
Like when we got lost.
Gulp! NYC map dunces. No GPS.
Around the 40 mile rest stop we departed by following other cyclists. Yes we had cue sheets, but with the ZILLIONS of turns, who was going to stop at every intersection and look at THOSE!
We forgot that there were totally different routes for those doing the 75 mile, 55 mile and under routes. We soon discovered that we were whizzing along with a group of 55 milers! We weren't here to do only 55 miles! So we began to ask other riders for help. Two were very helpful, even gave us a cycling map of NYC and gave us some ideas how to route ourselves back to the century route. We STILL got lost again, but were blessed by the kindness of locals who helped us to get re-routed. Our ride was supposed to be 105 miles total. But we were so befuddled we'll never know precisely how far we went. Could have even gone FURTHER than 105 miles! Yes it was scary to go through this, but edgy and a bit exciting at the same time. Here we were tooling around NYC down streets that weren't at ALL part of the planned routes...wow!
Other anxieties? Wobbling, weaving and squeezing our queue of bikes in between parked and double-parked vehicles on our right and moving vehicles on our left! I managed to clip a side-view mirror on a vehicle and lived to tell about it! Another time I wove too much, leaning into the side of a van and had to step down off my bike: with a line of cyclists bearing down on me from behind! I quickly walked my bike without dismounting to the front of this double parked van so that I'd get out of everyone's way...WHEW! No "protection" here...no police directing traffic or streets closed to traffic...we had to negotiate our way just like anyone else in NYC!
We had to fjord our bikes up and down stairs to the various bridges (Brooklyn, Tri-Borough/RFK and other smaller ones) and then ride along VERY narrow walkways on the bridges. I made sure my hands were positioned on the straight, inside part of my handlebars so that I wouldn't scrape my knuckles along the walls or posts alongside me.
Here's a song that got stuck in my head BIGTIME throughout the day...great beat to it that helped to propel me along and I think the minor tone gave it an Asiatic-ethnic feel that seemed to fit as we cycled through an incredible number of neighborhoods which felt like a microcosm of the world.
Cycling around the bay nearby LaGuardia with planes arcing overhead. Bridges all had beautiful parks around either or both sides. The sun gained strength as the day wore on, pumping me up even more!
The parks were great also and had their own surprises. Like the pathway that corkscrewed itself down and down and we were riding 'neath the path down which we rode!
Here's one of the bike repair tents:
Us? No flats, no mishaps other than my minor collision with another cyclist at a sudden stop.
Cyclists at a rest stop:
We had an AWESOME time on the NYC Century...felt like we were treated to every nook & cranny the Big Apple had to offer to folks on two wheels!
Two big thumbs up for throwing caution to the wind and BLITHELY (thank you VALERIEMAHA!) jumping forward with our lives!
ps...my apologies to ALL those blogs out there that I've been too crazy / busy to catch up with just yet OR to even thank folks for your comments on my blogs...love, appreciate and value ALL of 'em! And I WILL catch up! :-)
pps...just discovered another EXCELLENT blog which provides much better detail that I!
ppps...Here's another pleasant snapshot of cycling along the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway:
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