Day 365: Woo hoo! I survived 365 days!

3 01 2011

This time last year I embarked on a project I wasn’t sure I could finish. I started this blog 365 days ago. The original intention of the daily project was to share my thoughts about cycling and my attempts at weight loss. I had success with some things … other things, not so much. I plan to continue the blog posts, although it will probably be on a weekly rather than daily basis.

Looking back over the past year, this blog project has been a learning experience which enabled me to meet quite a few fellow cyclists (both in person and in the online world). While I may not have accomplished everything I originally set out to do, here are some of the things I learned from the project:

  • A 365-day commitment is much more time-consuming than I expected. Silly me. I figured each day’s post would only take a few minutes. Most of them took close to an hour, depending on the post’s topic. Some needed a bit of research, which took more time. Other posts just took a while to write because I’m not terribly comfortable writing. Getting past the initial stage of staring at the blank computer screen took me some getting used to.
  • Carrick has the patience of a saint (see previous item above). I’m not sure which one of us is happier that the daily posts are ending and life will return to normal. She’s been very patient with me through the project and is always very encouraging, which was a huge help. Thank you, Carrick.
  • I lack willpower for dieting. My original intention when I started this blog was to learn better eating habits and lose 20-30 pounds. I enrolled in Weight Watchers in July and have since lost 11 pounds. Not as close to my goal weight as I wanted to be by the end of the year, but I’m trying to not beat myself up about it. I’m learning to view my food choices as a lifestyle change rather than a diet. It’s been a slow and sometimes frustrating process, but I’m getting there. And I’m not giving up.
  • Life sometimes gets in the way of plans. Work, after-work commitments and daily blog posts sucked up much more time than I anticipated, cutting into my cycling time (not to mention my neglect of my photoblog). I’ve now learned I need to allow for time in my schedule to enjoy regular bike outings, whether those are regular rides with Carrick, group rides or solo rides. By not planning in advance, I often let the opportunity slip by.
  • I learned to fix a bike. Not a big deal to most people, but if you knew how mechanically uninclined I really am, you would understand how pleased I am that Carrick and I went a little out of our comfort zone and took the Park Tool School classes to learn maintenance and repairs.
  • Louisville is a pretty awesome bike-friendly city. In fact, it’s #21 on Bicycling Magazine’s list of America’s Top 50 Bike Friendly Cities.
  • My “rides wish list” keeps growing. Each time I hear about an interesting ride, I add it to the list. In 2011, I plan to make a more concerted effort to do some of the rides. I’m particularly interested in trying to do some long-distance overnight touring with panniers, tent, and other necessary equipment. The only thing I lack is a touring bike. Maybe that’s the next big thing to save money for.
  • I had a lot of fun rides. I may not have racked up a few thousand miles on the bike this year, like several commuters I know, but I still had a blast. Some of my favorite rides this year included (in no particular order): The Indy N.I.T.E. Ride; Lexington’s Legacy Trail; Back Bay Nature Preserve in Virginia Beach; McAlpine Locks and Dam; the Louisville Loop; and the annual Hike & Bike event.
  • I can do anything I put my mind to. Actually, I knew this before I started the blog. As I get older, I realize that really the only thing preventing me from achieving my goals is myself and I need to work on that. I intended to ride my first century ride this year, but I didn’t make it. I did, however, ride a half century during our Louisville Loop to Farnsley-Moreman ride this summer (and 50 miles of the 100 Miles of Nowhere ride back in May). Small victories, but ones I’m excited about. I learned how rewarding it can be to push myself past my comfort level at times. The sense of accomplishment inspires me to keep trying and keep pushing myself.

Thank you to everyone who has followed my blog this year and for leaving comments, tips, suggestions and encouragement. I greatly appreciate your support and I hope you’ll continue to follow the blog even though the posts will be weekly instead of daily. Probably a relief to everyone. 🙂

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
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Thanks for visiting.





Day 360: “Across America by Bicycle” and “Ghost Trails”

29 12 2010

Across America by Bicycle

A couple weeks ago I started reading a book called “Across America by Bicycle: Alice and Bobbi’s Summer on Wheels” by Alice Honeywell and Bobbi Montgomery.  The book describes the adventure of two retirement-age women who ride across country from Astoria, Oregon to Bar Harbor, Maine – a journey of over 3,500 miles. I was about 30 pages into the book when I misplaced it (presumably at work which is where I had it last). I found it odd that I lost it. I don’t recall ever losing a book before. I remember having it in my hand after leaving the cafeteria at work during my lunch break. After that, I’m not sure where it went. I searched my bookbag, my car, the house, my desk at work … everywhere. So far it’s still missing (along with one of my favorite bookmarks my Mom made me). I ended up ordering another copy from a bookstore and I received it last week. I plan to start the book again soon.

Ghost Trails

In the meantime, I just finished “Ghost Trails: Journeys Through a Lifetime” by Jill Homer, deputy editor of Adventure Cyclist magazine. You may be familiar with Jill from her blog Jill Outside (formerly Up In Alaska). “Ghost Trails” is an account of Jill’s experience during the 350-mile ultra-endurance Iditarod Trail Invitational in Alaska. (The race involves either the 350-mile route or an even more insane 1,100-mile route all the way to Nome.) Jill was relatively new to cycling when she decided to enter the race. The annual race includes not only cyclists, but runners also. While reading the book, I kept thinking, “How can I complain about cold weather when it’s 25 degrees?” Throughout the race, Jill describes cycling or walking in 30-below zero conditions (or worse). Racers faced frostbite, and hunger not to mention the extreme mental and physical exhaustion. One runner in the race dropped out early after becoming blinded on the trail due to frostbite on her eyes. Not her eyelids, mind you – her eyes. She apparently was running into the wind with no goggles. Ugh!

I have absolutely no intentions to ever enter such a race as the Iditarod Trail Invitational, nor am I a fan of winter weather in general. But the book was a fascinating read and well-written. I found it very difficult to put down. If you’ve not read it, I highly recommend it. You won’t be disappointed.

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
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Thanks for visiting.





Day 359: Patoka Lake hiking trip

28 12 2010

We’re back from our trip to Patoka Lake for Carrick’s birthday. It’s always nice to explore new areas and get away from the usual routine for a few days. We didn’t take our bikes this trip, but we did get to do a good bit of hiking which was nice for a change. I really enjoy hiking, but in the past year or so we got out of our regular weekend habit of hiking in the local parks.

Patoka Lake

Patoka Lake - view from near the Newton Stewart recreation area

The property manager of the Patoka Lake Cabins where we stayed told us about Newton Stewart State Recreation Area in nearby Celestine, IN. We bundled up the dog in her jacket and snow boots (she loved those) and set out for a hike on one of the trails today before we headed back home. The inch or so of snow on the ground provided a nice relaxing hike and made for some nice photos. The park has some nice paved bike trails that looked well-maintained so we decided it’s probably worth visiting again in the summer with the bikes.

Cabins at Patoka Lake Village

One of the trails near our cabin.

Roxy enjoying the snow. Or maybe pitching a fit because she hates her boots. Hard to tell.

We drove over to French Lick, IN and took some photos at the West Baden Hotel and at a nearby railroad museum. Something about old rail cars I always find appealing. Overall, the whole weekend was a great trip. We didn’t see as much wildlife as we’d hoped to find, but we did spot a bald eagle soaring over the frozen lake. He was gone before I could get my camera ready though. Figures. Still, it was beautiful to see.

West Baden Hotel

A luggage cart at the railroad museum.

The Pennsylvania railroad car.

Old railcars.

Pluto Water - America's Physic.

Perspective.

Swim at your own risk.

Patoka Lake - just before we spotted the bald eagle.

We wondered what the Zinger was. Must have been fun.

An abandoned wagon trail from 1900.

Snowy steps leading to the trail we hiked at the Newton Stewart recreation area.

I love to photograph old stores like this one. They were closed until March.

I've no idea what these are, but I thought they were worth shooting.

Snowy moss.

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
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Thanks for visiting.





Day 352: Cyclingforwater.com

21 12 2010

Many people every year ride the TransAmerica Trail and each cyclist has their own specific reason for doing it, whether it’s to fulfill a personal goal, enjoy the scenery or raise money for a charity. California photographer Brittany App and Oregon videographer Garrett Russell are riding the Southern Tier to raise awareness to bring fresh drinking water for those in need.

The 3,159-mile journey from San Diego, California to St. Augustine, Florida is expected to take around three months. Riding 40-70 miles each day, they make stops in cities and towns along the way to raise awareness and money for WaterAid, an international charity working to provide fresh and clean water to people in Africa and Asia. Their fundraising goal is $20,000. Throughout their trip, they are documenting the details on their Web site, cyclingforwater.com.

Ode Magazine had a good article about their ride last month, when they were about half way through their journey. To find out more or to make a donation, visit cyclingforwater.com.

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting





Day 344: Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s AAA petition

13 12 2010

Back in September, I talked about the American Automobile Association’s (AAA) attempt to get Congress to cut funds that support trail, biking and walking programs in order to funnel that money to the highway system. Several years ago Carrick and I dropped our long-time AAA membership and switched to Better World Club – a bike-friendly, eco-friendly, socially-responsible alternative to AAA. (More about them here.)

Today was the day the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy presented AAA headquarters with the tens of thousands of signatures the RTC has gathered since September for their online petition. The petition was to remind AAA that bicyclists also drive, pay gas taxes and see trails, biking and walking as part of a balanced transportation system. As of this writing, I’ve not found an update about the issue, but you can follow the progress updates on RTC’s Web site.

If you’re looking for an alternative to AAA, you might want to check out Better World Club.

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 338: Exploring the city by bike

7 12 2010

I’ve noticed lately that most of the time when I head out for a bike ride, I tend to ride in the same areas. There are several routes I enjoy for various reasons. Some have less traffic. Some are longer routes which have more sight-seeing and photography options. Some have hills. Some are flat, but have more traffic (good for raising the heart rate a little). When Carrick and I go on a ride together, we tend to do more exploring, heading off in a random direction to “see what’s there.” Last night, Carrick had a good idea. She suggested I get our bike map and highlight the streets we’ve ridden together on our numerous rides to see where we’ve been. Here’s what it looks like:

Our rides mapped out.

Our most common route of course is from our neighborhood to downtown. We’ve been out to Shawnee Park, Iroquois Park and Waterfront Park many times and this summer we rode the entire Louisville Loop (the 25 or so miles that are finished anyway. From home and back that day ended up being around 52 miles, I think). We need to explore some of the other parks. Obviously, we haven’t spent much time riding out to the east end or the southwest end of town — mainly because we aren’t that familiar with those parts of town and we’re unsure of good routes to get us out to those areas from our neighborhood. It looks like we need to do some research and see if we can’t remedy that.

Bicycling is a great way to explore the city and see sights (and photo opportunities!) that we probably wouldn’t have noticed when we whiz by at 30+ mph in the car. And by the looks of it, we’ve got a LOT more to explore. I’m even looking forward to getting out my mountain bike after it snows and continue exploring. I don’t normally ride in the snow, but I think it’s time I give it a try.

Do you have favorite routes that you ride regularly? If so, what makes them favorites?

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 327: The Thanksgiving Day ride on Lexington’s Legacy Trail

26 11 2010

Never go on a bike ride in the rain with a photographer. Thanksgiving Day morning, Carrick and I rode part of Lexington’s Legacy Trail. We knew rain was in the forecast, but we figured it would be just a cloudy ride with the rain holding off until later in the day. We were wrong. By the time we got the bikes off the car, the rain started. We decided to do the ride anyway. Because of the rain, I tried to just ride — to not bother with taking photos. But I couldn’t do it. Barns, geese, ducks, horse farms — all asking to be photographed. Of  course many of the shots didn’t turn out well due to the rain, but at least I got a few.

We were the only ones in the parking lot.

A small church we passed as we pulled into the parking lot.

Barely a mile into the ride and we were already soaked.

The beginning of the trail.

I had waterproof bags in my jersey for our phones and my camera in case the rain got worse. Did I mention the rain got worse? Yep. Within the first mile into the ride it dumped on us. And with 16 mph winds, it made for a tough ride. But once we were wet and soggy we figured it was pointless to give up that early into the ride. A couple miles later we were soaked and my shoes were full of water. My cycling jacket was waterproof (and windproof) so at least my upper body was dry and relatively warm. But once my feet get cold the rest of me does too.

I decided to turn back, but Carrick did an extra couple miles while I waited inside a tunnel (seemed like a good place to stop). As I took a few photos in the tunnel, a police officer drove slowly toward me. I expected it would be another instance of being asked what (or why) I was photographing. The officer didn’t ask about that, but it turned out to be a pretty brief conversation:

Cop: “Have you heard any gunshots?”
Me: “Gunshots. Seriously?” (I know – dumb question. But I thought maybe she was pulling my leg since I was dumb enough to be out on a bike in a heavy rainstorm.)
Cop: “We had a report of gunshots so I’m checking it out.”
Me: “I’ve not heard anything, but it’s so windy I probably wouldn’t have heard it anyway.”
Cop: “Ok. Well, enjoy your ride.”
And she was off. We were in town, near many of the horse farms so it’s not like we were riding a remote backwoods trail out in the boonies. Still, it was slightly unnerving to wonder if we might be an accidental target for a nearsighted hunter.

The tunnel where I waited for Carrick. I considered asking the cop if I could take her photo, but she didn't seem to be in cheery mood.

One of several barns we passed.

Kentucky farmland.

Geese crossing the path.

A few minutes later Carrick and I headed back to the car before someone decided to shoot at the two turkeys on bikes. So despite the rain, despite the wind, despite the report of gunshots in the area, we still had a fun ride. The Legacy Trail was a great place to ride. Smooth pavement, no potholes, very little debris on the trail (even with the rainstorm) and pretty scenery. We’re already planning to go back to ride the entire trail (but in better weather). Thank you, Carrick for always being ready for an adventure.

Wet, but we survived.

Today’s food journal:

Lunch:
— Organic whole wheat english muffin with peanut butter = 3 points
— LF chocolate milk = 3 points

Dinner:
— Turkey sub sandwich = 9 points
— Baked Lays chips = 1.5 points
— Iced tea = 0 points

Snack:
— Skinny Cow ice cream = 2 points

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

         _O
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…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.