Sunday, June 2, 2013

Ride more, write less...

At the end of the school vacation week back in April, I began commuting to school via bike.  This is not a new thing as all the kids know Ms. H rides her bike and I often hear, "I saw you riding your bike over the weekend..." from various kids.

My weekly 20 mile rides are pretty much through a combination of traffic and along familiar bike paths.  Soon I plan to branch out to different bike paths and try some group rides.  I have these long poetic thoughts I mean to record when I'm out riding, but then life gets in the way and I figure it's enough that I rode.

Fundraising has been slow as I have been pretty busy.  One thing I have discovered is that people like my little ocotopi guys that I crochet.  I'm going to write up the pattern, have someone test it for me to see if it can be followed and then put it up on places like ravelry, craftsy and a few other sites as a fundraiser.  I'll also ask a couple of local yarn stores to carry it as well for me as a fundraiser and maybe see if they'll let me run a workshop.

Over the next few days I'm going to design a couple of flyers I can hang up around town.

Perhaps I can wax poetic after the next ride, which should be a 30 miler.  Right now I just need some coffee to get started after I feed the cats.  Why they don't understand sleeping in on a Sunday morning, I just can't comprehend.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Just a quick ride....

It was gray and spitting rain this morning when I thought, I'll just get a quick ride in.

Hopping on Gigi, we headed in a different direction than usual, up the river instead of down it.  Unfortunately, the path gets a little wonky a few miles up river, so we rode back down river.  Initially the thought was, just to Watertown Square.  Watertown Square turned into the Arsenal Street which turned into the Marsh Post,  Harvard Square and finally at Western Ave, I turned around and rode back up the river.  My quick ride turned into 20 miles and feeling like I still had plenty of gas in the tank had I wanted to ride even further if I had the time today.

Gigi's new seat needs a bit of adjusting and her right brake handle needs to be turned out a little.  Some levers on the top of the brakes would be nice but I really do need to learn to ride using the drops on the handle bars.  A rack on the back would be kind of nice too so I could have a place to keep a lock when I'm riding and know I can stop on a longer ride if I want.

I think I'm finally getting the dressing thing right.  I went out with long sleeves and capris and the wrap skirt and all worked well.  I'll order a Tri skirt from running skirts that will fit over the bike shorts because, well, a girl needs a little style out there now doesn't she?

The other day I bought an LED light for my shoe at the Boston Marathon expo and will look to pick up a good one for the bike as well.  But for now, I'm going to go have a yogurt and chill before my date with my husband this afternoon to avoid my son's band practice.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you

Today was a 5 mile "Getting to know you" ride on Gigi.

When I rode her home last week I realized that I needed to learn how to shift on a 10 speed again after years of being used to twisting my handle grips to fine tune and change gearing.  I also realized I needed a different seat as the one I had was just a bit high and didn't feel right.

This past weekend, when I took Mr. Bear in to the bike store to buy him a new helmet, I also picked up a Serfas seat on sale.  Serfas claims they design them to keep pressure off your "plumbing," which reduces numbness.  I figured I'd give it a try because it gets a lot of good recommendations.

After watching a couple of "changing your bike saddle is easy" videos on line, I went down to the garage ready to pop the old saddle off and plop the new one on, which is when I realized on MODERN bikes it's just adjust the allen head screws.  On VINTAGE bikes, it's a hex nut and holder system.  A half hour of cursing and twisting later, I got the saddle on Gigi and off we went for a ride through hilly side streets to relearn gearing.

I learned that she works the same way Bikey does, the left paddle adjusts the 3 chain rings (small, medium and large) and the right paddle is fine tuning.  We rode easily on the local bike path as well as on some decent hills so that I am pretty confident that I can go for a long ride in the morning without a problem.

But getting to know you means learning new things about each other.  We quickly found how to balance each other out - a bit sketchy at first as she is much narrower than Bikey and has drop handlebars, so I found adjusting my center of gravity was a quick, yet necessary, fix.  I also learned her pedals aren't as wide as Bikey's and I tend to ride with my toe on the outside and my heel angled toward the bike, which does not work as well for Gigi.

My bike shop friends recommended I look at the new Shimano clipless pedals and a pair of cycling shoes.  I know the current pedals aren't comfortable for me, so I think I'll do a bit of research and see what some other folks have to say as well.

All in all, things are coming together nicely with her and it won't be long before I'm ready for long, long, long rides alone and with others.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

It's the Easter Fairy!

Today's 22 mile ride taught me a few things:

1. NEVER ride without a water bottle again!

2. Yes those padded bicycle shorts DO make a difference.

3. Yes those padded bicycle gloves DO make a difference.

4.  When you ride on a glorious spring day wearing green fairy/butterfly wings, people tend to smile.

I am part of the November Project tribe (although I am now coming to terms with the reality that it will only be when school is out) and today was the Easter Hash Tag Run.  Last week, I had told the spin off group, the Boston Brunch Runners, I would make a bunny for the winner of the Easter Egg Hunt costume contest and drop them off today.  It gave me the opportunity to force me to ride into town where the race would be held and then ride home.  It was a good strategy for the first time breaking 20 miles.

Because everyone was dressing up to run in Easter colors and bunny ears and such, I wore my green fairy wings.  At one point on my ride, a little kid excitedly called out, "Look Mommy, it's the Easter fairy!"  Another decided I was a spring butterfly.  :)  As I rode along the river, lots of people called out, "Happy Easter!" Some people yelled out that I made them smile.  One woman even said my riding with my sparkly winds brought her joy.   As I got down to the Esplanade area, I caught up with the 4 mile race leaders marking the course, turned around and followed them to the final meeting place.  Most people smiled, laughed or asked about our costumes.  One lady fresh from church was rather rude because she could not understand how rude people could be and actually run on sidewalks.

It was a fun ride.  It took a little break waiting for the 9 mile group to come in so I could hand bunnies off to FJ before riding home to shower up and such.  It was good seeing folks I haven't seen in so long and bunnies have been delivered.

The 12 mile ride home was not as much fun.  I began to really feel my seat as I rode into the head wind blowing up the river.  The last 4 miles were even rougher as the wind got worse and my hands began to tingle where the handle bar grips meet the nerve in my hand.  My mouth felt sticky because I had not brought a water bottle with me and I could feel dehydration creep in a bit.  Yep, I really regretted wearing my running gear and not wearing bike gear today.  The last 2 miles were mostly uphill into the wind.  I pulled into the driveway glad I had put 22 miles into the book.

Overall it was a good ride.  I think that I'm starting to feel more and more prepared after a week of putting some miles on my legs.  Now off to shower.

Happy Easter.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


A local guy, Cisco Cycles, has started a new business of swapping and recycling bikes.  My husband's old late 70's Motorbecane hadn't been ridden in 20 years, so I brought it over to Cisco Cycles to see if he had a road bike.  There I met Gigi:

She's a 70's Motorbecane Mixte 10 speed and she is now mine. <3  She has the Raleigh/Suntour real derailleur and shifters, Shimano Altus front derailleur, Raleigh cranks and pedals, quick release front wheel and the original Weinmann center-pull brake system.

Today he'll clean her up and make sure she's 100% and I can pick her up a little later today or tomorrow sometime.  I'll move my bike computer over to her for training and hopefully she'll be flying her way to LaCrosse in August for my JDRF ride.

It's funny, while we were there, I could see her out of the corner of my eye trying to get my attention the same way MacGreevey did when I was first looking for a car.  She even whispered her name, "Gigi," to me when I sat on her to see if she was the proper size.  There was a similar vintage Raleigh there as well, but she didn't feel the same.

Sure she's not an ultra-light composite framed 21 speed mega bike, but she is beautiful and she is just my speed.  Funny how those things work out, isn't it?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Another day, another ride

So the other day I went out for my first ride in a bike skort and short sleeves.  When the wind came up off the river, I realized I should have worn tights and long sleeves.  Today, the temperatures were about the same, so I wore tights and long sleeves under my skort and shirt and realized I could have gone with capris and no long sleeves.

I suppose eventually I'll get this right.

I did pick up a pair of cycling gloves after lots of different people told me that I would need them.  I went with something that fit and seemed reasonable. I would say that it was pretty reasonable given how they felt on my 12 mile ride today.

Things I have now figured out, I can now ride to the Harvard Stadium November Project workouts.  It's a pleasant ride along the river to Harvard and it will be good for me.  In fact, I figured out that I really enjoy riding along the river but that I tend to ride slower than if I were in traffic, so I'm going to need to figure out some different rides.  I have also figured out that I am scared of hills right now and need to start thinking of how to attack them comfortably.

While there is that piece of me that says, "Cut yourself some slack, this is about getting some mileage on your legs," there is also that piece of me that says comfort is not something I should be comfortable with in the long run.

Next step is finding myself a decent road bike for a reasonable price.  I don't have $800+ for a second bike and rentals aren't cheap.  I wish the frame of my husband's old bike wasn't too big for me because I would spend the couple hundred bucks to have it rebuilt and use that.  I know I'm creative and I'll figure something out.  Perhaps I'll take a trip over to Bikes not Bombs and see what they have in stock. Until then, I'll take Bikey out for my training rides... who knows, maybe he will end up going the distance.  We shall see.

Day One ... or is it?

I love riding my bike, I always have.  Like so many kids, it was my freedom - the wings on which I could fly.  My bike and I were able to go places that my mother wouldn't drop everything and take me to do.  Also, like so many others, once I had my driver's license I rode less and less and less until it wasn't a part of who I was any more.

Although I never lost that love of my bike, it never was fully who I was anymore but something I couldn't leave in the past.  So a few years ago, I bought Bikey the idea was to ride around town - going to farmer's market, the library, the pool and such.

When I began working at a nearby elementary school, I began riding to work when I was able and the kids came to identify me and my bike around town.  A couple of kids even used to "reserve" my space for me on the bike rack outside the main doors of the school.

Then came the appeal from a childhood friend.  She was recruiting riders to join her for the JDRF fundraising ride in La Crosse, WI.  Her daughter, who is the same age as my Pi guy, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) the same year my son was diagnosed with Nephrotic Syndrome.  Pi "outgrew" his kidney issues, her daughter will never "outgrow" diabetes.  With another friend living with T1D as an adult, students, children of friends and more and more people I knew touched by this disease, I figured it was time for me to step up and help.

So today was the first day of training for my JDRF century ride - 11 easy miles to get used to riding long distances in a stretch, something I haven't done in 35 or so years.  Bikey and I chose to go an easy bike route through parts of Boston and Cambridge, taking advantage of the spring weather.  At the end of my ride, I stopped at my local bike shop to have Bikey tuned up for the season - an annual event for me.  I know that he really isn't equipped as a road bike, and I am a little concerned about that overall but for now, I will train on him until I decide what to do about the whole road bike thing.

Next up, another 11-15 mile ride and then a 20 mile ride before the week is over.