Tag Archives: training

Letters from the Bike Path (and Gearing Up!)

Those of you who know me well and/or are facebook friends with me might have noticed that I often communicate in the form of letters/brief memos. Par example:

Dear Weather,
Why do you keep raining? It hurts my heart because it makes it dangerous to ride my road bike and it’s for realz interfering with my cycling schedule. I’m glad that rain exists in the world, but perhaps it could take a vacay to the southwest for a while? They could REALLY use it.
Love Always,
Say

Often I compose these mental letters while on the bike path. For your amusement, here are some mental letters from recently. Please pardon some of the cynicism coming through; a number of them were composed two Sundays ago, and Sundays on the bike path can be a trial.

Dear Gentleman on the Trek Mountain Bike,
I didn’t know that it was possible to actually buy cycling shorts that are that short. Wow. Doesn’t that make you nervous?? It made me very, very nervous.
Best,
Say
P.S. – Chafing?

Dear God,
You know birds? Those were a really, really great idea. Thanks for that.
Sincerely,
Say

Dear Kindly Fellow with Two Cute Dogs,
Thanks for offering to keep an eye on my bike for me while I was using the outhouse. Chaining it up just for that purpose really is kind of annoying.
Appreciatively,
Say

Dear Columbus Parks and Recreation,
Oh good god. Please, please, please do something about the outhouse at Whetstone Park. Seriously. I can generally suck it up when it comes to outhouses, but  . . . Let’s just say that having to pee while riding a bike is never enjoyable (especially for those of us who are female-bodied) and I chose to hold it.
– Say

Dear People at Antrim Lake Walking Across the Bike Path Waving Fishing Poles Around Without Looking,
Don’t. Those things have hooks.
Take Care,
Say
P.S. – I’m concerned about the fact that you had buckets. Should you really be eating fish out of Antrim Lake? I mean, it’s better than the Olentangy River, but still – that is not a natural color for lake water.

Dear Pedestrians/Runners,
For real, if you continue to run/walk at me in the wrong direction on the path, Imma be forced to run you down. I understand that it’s a multi-use path, and I try my best to promote harmony between cyclists, rollerbladers, runners, and pedestrians, but I really don’t want to experience another pedestrian-induced fall that will have me in physical therapy rehabbing my knee almost a year later.
Godspeed,
Say

Dear Small Children Riding Teeny-Weeny Bikes,
You’re freaking adorable. Also, it’s both cute and terrifying how you look behind you when you hear someone coming and, given that you’re still learning how to coordinate your body (I get it, believe me!), when you turn your head your entire upper body turns with it, thus swerving your teeny-weeny bike into the passing lane.
Be Careful,
Say

Dear Dude Practicing Walking on a Tight Rope,
Thank you for existing.
Best of Luck in Your Pursuits,
Say

Dear Body and Sweet Thunder II,
Thank you for combining and coordinating your efforts to give me some strong, badass rides lately.
Love,
Say

In other news . . .

You know the one thing I don’t totally love about cycling? The expense. I mean, good lord! (Dear Self, Did you have to fall in love with a sport that’s SO expensive? You know you’re a poor grad student, right? Love, Self)

For example, Sweet Thunder II (road bike) is the third most expensive possession I have, behind our car and my computer. And then there’s so much gear and clothing to buy if you want to cycle regularly and have it be a) comfortable and b) functional. I guess the good thing is that once you invest, things last a while. So, I’m trying to gradually accumulate the things that I need (well, okay, and some things that I don’t!). Right now I’m prioritizing getting ready for the 50K that I hope to ride next month, and I also need to outfit my hybrid to make it a more functional commuting bike (I need a rear wheel rack, a trunk, and panniers for realz).

So, my recent gear investments have been this Cambelback, which was a conveniently discontinued style, and thus quite a steal:

I have not yet had a good opportunity to use it yet because the abnormally hot temperatures that we were having have turned into lots of rain and that, combined with the mess that is always the end of a quarter, pretty much precluded doing any longer/hotter rides. Soon, Camelback. Soon.

My most exciting purchase happened this weekend, with my first cyclocomputer. wOOt!

Disclaimer: Please excuse my HORRIBLE bike path etiquette here. Normally I would NEVER take a photo like this while moving. It’s just that . . . if I had stopped, the picture would have shown a big 0.0mph, which is SO not badass enough for my blog. I did make sure that I waited until I was on a straight, abandoned part of the bike path, and I snapped it very quickly with my phone! (I know . . . excuses, excuses!)

I really freaking love having the computer on my bike. I had guessed that I average about 15mph on my road bike, and I clocked in at 15.3mpg average on my ride yesterday. The computer definitely helps me keep my pace, and it also encourages me to shift through my gears more so that I can keep my pace steady. And it keeps me really focused and present in my ride, which is a lovely bonus!

And then, while I was waiting for them to install my computer at Performance Bikes (oh, how I love, love, love this store), I might have found this:

It’s just . . . it was on mega-sale, okay??? There was only one and it was my size and it was cheap because no one buys jackets in Ohio in June! And it’ll be really nice for riding in the fall. AND, actually, one of the classrooms in which I have class this summer and my TA office are both so overly air-conditioned that I actually brought it to school with me today to insulate myself against the temperature. It worked quite well, my friends.

In the meantime, barring inclement weather, I will not back out of the 50K next month. *repeat, repeat, repeat* I’m starting to get cold feet . . . but more on that later!

As a final note, this is not at all cycling related, but here’s one of my favorite Youtube videos ever. It cracks me up EVERY TIME.

Cycling Randoms

1) There has been a woeful lack of posting on this blog, I know. Part of it is that whole pesky graduate school thing. I mean, really. There has GOT to be a way to get a Ph.D. without it being so time-consuming!! However, up until this past week, there has also been a woeful lack of cycling. It can be hard to fit rides in with my school schedule anyway, so often when I do ride during the year, it’s in the form of commuting to/from school. However, lately that has looked like this

Another cyclist, and two men with super-cute pit bulls and I all came to an abrupt stop here at the same time. The walkers turned around, and the other cyclist and I agreed that this patch was far too deep to ride through, even on my hybrid. So, up and over we went!

I was briefly jealous of his lightweight road bike, however, since this commute home included more puddles and off-roading, I was ultimately quite happy to be on All the Way Mae (hybrid).

2) This is the other thing that’s happening on the bike path recently:

Goslings as far as the eye can see!! So far, I have barely been hissed at by parent-geese. However, I have seen numerous undergrads in the campus area egging them on. Poor choice, friends. Poor choice. I can’t help but remember a friend of mine telling me about how one time a goose chased on her on the bike path. She was on her bike and it was flying behind her, and she could feel air from its wings on her back . . .  *shudders*

3) A friend deemed me to be a “legit cyclist” the other day, after I arrived at her house on my hybrid. As it turns out, what made me “legit” were the little bag under my seat, and the reflective bands around bottom of my pant legs.

4) I’ve been a physical therapy slacker this quarter. I was down to going once a month, but just didn’t prioritize making time for it in my schedule. (True Confession: I basically pulled the classic excuse of “My knee doesn’t hurt anymore! I’m cured!” Then I slacked on my exercises and canceled an appointment and well, my knew was very clearly letting me know if its displeasure.) I finally got back into it this past Wednesday, and all I can say is, Holy Quads, Batman!!! She was not pulling punches. She’s also very lucky that I like her so much. lol That’s what I get for skipping, I guess. At least she electrocuted my knee, and no it feels great! I have another appointment in two weeks, which I will freaking keep!

3) The weather and bike paths were finally dry enough that I got to do a 90-minute bike ride last Sunday, which equals about 22-miles. It was SO nice!! However, I seem to have gotten stronger and faster on my bike since last year, so my old 90-minute route no longer takes 90-minutes. I reworked it a bit so I could get in a couple of hill-climbs, which should come in handy if I can work up the nerve to go through with a 50km ride this summer. (I know I can do it physically, I just need to not psych myself out!)

4) Sometimes Sweet Thunder the Second (road bike) is so pretty that I just can’t help but take pictures.

5) The other day when I was commuting home, I was stopped a light. I always check behind me when I stop to see if any cars are behind me, especially when I’m leading a lane of traffic. There was no car behind me. Yet, a minute or two later, I thought I saw a hulking presence out of my peripheral vision. I slowly turned my head – you don’t want to let drivers see your fear, after all! – and a Prius had snuck up behind me, completely unnoticed. I could hear that fucker wonderful hybrid approaching AT ALL.


Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against hybrids. Anything closer to an electric car is something that I support. However, for the love of god, Toyota! For the sake of the visually impaired, pedestrians, and bike commuters, can’t you suck it up and make these make some sort of noise! Maybe they could sing some sort of pleasant tune.  Pleeeeeeeeease.

6) Yesterday on the bike path, there was a fellow who had pulled over, strung a rope between two trees, and was practicing tight-rope walking. I freaking love the bike path.

Did you know??

Ohio has a monsoon season. Yeah. This was news to me too. Le sigh. We’ve had a seriously stupid amount of rain this month. I’ve only gotten in about three rides in the last two weeks. It hasn’t been warm enough to risk getting caught on my bike in a rainstorm yet, so I haven’t even been taking my hybrid out when there’s rain predicted. I have done some disgruntled cross-training at the OSU fitness center – not because I hate what I do there, just because I hated that I was doing it so much during what should be cycling season! When the weather is nice, I will always choose cycling over working out in a gym, for sure. I’ve also managed to take some nice walks when we’ve had brief breaks in the rain. (That’s right. Come and get me, Vitamin D. I dare you.) It hasn’t been warm enough to risk getting caught on my bike in a rainstorm yet, so I haven’t even been taking my hybrid out when there’s rain predicted. I also had one particularly cranky day where I decided that I’d rather ebay shop for cycling gear than have to workout inside again. I bought a 5.99 used jersey by Patagonia. Let’s just say . . . really, Patagonia?? Whatevs. It was $6, and I guess it’ll be a good back up.

Today, however, was cycling weather!!! It was windy and bit cool for the first ten minutes of my ride, but once the sun came out, life improved. I generally ride on the Olentangy Trail, which runs along the Old-and-tangy Olentangy River. The river was SO high today! However, I was heartened when I made it up to Worthington and under Rte. 315 without hitting any majorly flooded areas.

But then . . .
tragedy.

About a half mile north of that celebratory moment, I stumbled rode upon this:

After conferring with another woman cyclist* who stopped right after me, we decided that it could easily be six inches deep, and we didn’t want to get that sewage overflow river water on our road bikes. We did, however, then get to witness a group of three cyclists who came around the turn way too fast, and almost suffered the domino effect due to stopping short. So, I had to cut my ride a couple of miles short. But, AT LEAST I GOT TO RIDE!!!

In other news, I’ve joined the Friends of Consider Biking team on ridenet, and I’ve been logging my rides. I’ve broken the 100 mile mark this season, which isn’t too shabby, given all of the rain and the fact that I’ve only been back in the saddle for a few weeks! Check out my ridenet profile by clicking here.

* I had no idea the extent to which cycling is a male dominated sport until I started becoming more serious about it. If you’d like an example, pick up any copy of Bicycling magazine ever. Or go to a bike store. Or chill out next to a bike path for a bit. Hence, I get a bit excited when I see other women cyclists out and about!

Taking a ride down memory lane . . .

My new bike is here!!!! Yes!!!!! I freaking love it so much. And, as I was out riding today, I was thinking about the different bikes I’ve had throughout my life and my various levels of bonding with them. I shall now take you on a little ride down bicycle memory lane . . .

My first bike was a Huffy. If I remember correctly, it looked something like this. (Maybe it even was this model??) I DEFINITELY remember the banana seat. Also, when I grew out of this bike, I remember being SORELY disappointed that not all bikes had banana seats. This being my first bike, for a long time it meant that Huffys (Huffies? Huffy’s?) were the epitome of bikes to me. Oh, young naivete.

This picture is not mine. This is some stranger’s bike. However, it is a stand-in for the string of mountain bikes I had as I grew up and grew taller. These were the days of bikes being sized by the size of the tire. These bikes were the bikes you get from big box stores – Roadmasters, Huffies, Schwinns, etc. My dad rode this kind of bike. My brother road this kind of bike. I thought that this was pretty much it for a long time. I liked riding these bikes, and had phases where I would ride quite regularly. But eventually these bikes crap out, even with tune-ups. And they’re HEAVY. When Luke and I moved to Ohio, I was riding a bike much like this one pictured, and despite having tune-ups, it still would only shift when it felt like it, some gears were completely useless, and the chain liked to pop off on a semi-regular basis. It didn’t make the cut into the UHaul.

Then, bikeless and adjusting graduate school and life in the Midwest, I didn’t ride for a couple of years.

Then, last spring, I got this puppy:

I don’t really know how to explain what happened here. I got it used for about $100. Some weird sentimental craziness took me over and made me want a Huffy. I was also exceedingly nervous that I would be that one person who DOES forget how to ride a bike. I wanted to start as basic as possible. So I got this. Gold. A cruiser. One speed. Bulky. COASTER BRAKES. That’s right. The kind where you pedal backwards to stop the bike. I learned quickly that if you get going fast down a hill, you can STAND ON THESE FUCKERS WITH ALL OF YOUR WEIGHT and they won’t stop you.

It was fun for a while, especially as I was just beginning to ride again. But, everyone passed me on the bike path. I don’t think I could have been going much more that 8 miles an hour on this business. I wanted to make myself a t-shirt that read, “I don’t have gears!!!” to explain my crawl up hills. Cruisers are cute/fun for around town, but that’s about it. I bonded quickly with this bike, but over time the relationship went sour.

So, I did some research, went to a different used bike store, and came back with this:

A GT Palomar, purchased for about $180. I wanted a hybrid at the time, but they didn’t have any, so I went with this. Definitely a mountain bike, but it sat the rider a bit more upright, somewhat like a hybrid in terms of comfort. I fucking loved this bike. It was SO nice to have gears again! It still didn’t go very fast, being a mountain bike, but I really loved it. It was my first bike that was a brand you would purchase in a bike store, and I had never ridden anything of this quality before. As the guys at the bike store told me, “It’s not a KMart bike.”

Then my brother moved in with us, and he took over riding “The Golden Bicycle” (the Huffy cruiser). Luke also purchased a bike at this time. We were a riding family – until all of our bikes got stolen within a few weeks of each other. I was heartbroken when this bike got stolen. I’m not a crier, but I cried over that GT.

I went back to the used bike store, and got this bike for $165. It’s a Fuji Crosstown hybrid. It took me a while to get used to it. It was the first time I rode  a bike that didn’t have mountain bike wheels, and I was definitely a little wobbly. But, it had me at the test ride; I had no idea bikes could shift so smoothly! I was  still heartbroken about my GT, so it took me a while to warm up to this bike. But, I still have it, and I still love it. It really needs a tune-up, but it’s been a very reliable bike. I commute to school on this bike, and I think of it as my “pleasure craft.” Her name is All the Way Mae, because she’s versatile. (Yes, she is named after Madonna’s character in A League of Their Own.)

This summer I started off riding the hybrid exclusively, as it’s the only bike I had. But, as the summer wore on, as I’ve learned more about bikes, and as I look forward to the possibility of training and doing a distance ride next summer, it became clear that I would need a road bike. Good road bikes are NOT cheap, so I decided to start with an old, used one just to get the feel of a road bike.

Back to the used bike store I went:

It’s a 1977 Concord “Freedom Deluxe.” It was good to transition, and I got it for $165. The frame wasn’t really meant for someone my height (aka short), as you can see by the fact that I had to lower the seat so much that I was pretty much sitting on the top bar. And yes, I did have horrific visions of what might happen if I hit a bump or pothole and slid forward off of the seat! This was a good practice road bike, though it was never meant to take me on distance rides. I also had to stop riding it a few weeks ago, as its poor fit seemed to be exacerbating my knee pain. Physical therapist’s orders. Her name is Pippi. She’s being passed on to Luke.

And now, MY NEW BIKE!!!!!

Omg. It’s amazing. It’s a 2010 Fuji Newest 2.0. I got it on Thursday evening, and I’ve taken it on two good rides since then. I’ve definitely had to do some adjusting! The tires are SKINNY, so I’m currently a bit wobbly if I ride one-handed. Also, the hand brakes on the curved part of the handle bars double as the gear shifts, and the front and rear derailleurs are the opposite of each other, so the first ride included a fair amount of shifting improperly and making embarrassing noises on the bike path. But, I’m getting the hang of it! This bike is FAST. And we’re already thoroughly bonded. I’m still trying to choose a name. Right now I’m leaning toward Cayenne. Or maybe Paprika. Suggestions welcome.

Wow. That was long. In other news, I need to bite the bullet and make the full switch to the padded spandex bike shorts. My butt would be happier, and puffy athletic shorts just look silly with cycling jerseys!

My bubble has been decimated.

Disappointed?

Yeah. Me too.

Bad, bad news. It looks like our car needs about $2000 of work. We have to get it done, because we need the car to get to our obligations (i.e. work, meetings, etc.). It’s worth it to put the money into the car, but it sucks. It sucks a lot.

It means being really frugal this quarter. It means not going to the National Women’s Studies Association annual conference, and thus, not seeing a couple of my closest friends whom I sorely miss. It means being more anxious about money than we already are.

But what does this have to with cycling?

It also means no new road bike. At least, not for a while. I wanted to buy it this quarter because I could get it at such a great discount. And, realistically speaking, I need a new road bike if I’m going to do distance rides next summer. I need one that fits me so that I don’t injure or strain anything while riding. And I need one in time to train, which means I need it by next spring. But next spring, they may no longer have the discounted 2010 models. So, I’m not sure what I’ll do.

I’m incredibly disappointed. I can’t even find the words. There’s the deep disappointment, of course, that not getting the bike brings. I had been looking forward to this for months. But then, there is (was) the symbolism of allowing myself to spend $800 on a new road bike.

– The purchase of the bike was a grand reward for working incredibly hard to balance grad school and self-care, to take care of myself and my body despite being in a setting that does not really promote self-care or balance.

– The purchase of the bike was symbolic of the excitement of actually being so dedicated to a sport, to finding an athletic activity that I do because I really love it and am passionate about it.

– The purchase of the bike was representative of my commitment to cycling and dedicating time to something that I love – to something that I do out of sheer enjoyment, something really for myself now. In this moment.

– The bike was to be representative of working toward a goal on so many levels – cycling in a healthy way, making time for something that makes me feel so good regardless of the constant pressures of grad school to work all the time, dedicating the money from my graduate teaching fellowship to the bike as a symbol of my commitment to this and to keeping this in my life.

And, intellectually speaking, I know that not purchasing this bike as planned doesn’t mean any of these things will fall by the wayside. I can still be excited about cycling (though at this very moment it’s hard to feel anything but disappointment). I can still be serious about cycling. I can remain determined to keep it as a part of balanced self-care. I can still be a part of the cycling community in Columbus.

Intellectually, I still know that all of those things are true. Emotionally, this is a severe blow.