Friday, September 28, 2012

I never finish anyth

I admit I lack discipline and have a reputation for procrastination and being easily distracted. Al, on the other hand, is the poster child for discipline and adherence to routines. Without him, I doubt this week would have played out as it did. Al played the role of task master. His plan: lots of miles and constant interval training. (Not in his plan: stopping for pictures and stopping and chatting.) Being the sneaky sort, he mentioned rides we could start doing if we jump-started things this week, tempting me with fantasies of espresso and toasted bagels, Cuban sandwiches, and tacos. (He had me hooked at espresso.)

Living where we do we have access to wonderful biking on low-traffic roads with lovely scenery, thanks to being surrounded by ranches, orange groves, and wildlife/environmental areas. But rural living means very small towns and not many of them. It's a long bike ride to things commonplace for urban and suburban cyclists.

For us:
  • Cuban sandwich and espresso, 40-50 miles
  • Espresso and toasted bagel, 60-70 miles
  • My favorite tacos, 70-80 miles
These are the round trip mileages from our house, the shorter being the most direct bike route, the second being the more interesting bike route. There is a closer small town, a pretty place with lots of murals and pocket parks, but its McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's are strictly desperation stops, and not one of the its handful of little restaurants serves a decent espresso.

So I whined quietly and chased Al down the road this week. I'll admit now that it was worth it. The week is done, and I'm ready to bike for that Cuban sandwich and espresso. I'm salivating just thinking about it.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Wear a tank top. Support your right to bare arms.

It was hot and very sticky on this week's rides, but clouds and a bit of wind made it good riding. We've had rain every day. Luckily, it hasn't rained in the morning and that's when we ride. This week our only goal was to ride our favorite 30 mile loop at a reasonable pace. We needed "butt time" before we did longer rides.

I was amused at a friend who thought that since we do water skiing all summer, the transition to cycling would be, like, automatic. No such luck. Water skiing works muscles from head to toe. It gives you shapely muscled arms and shoulders, strong core muscles, and strong legs. Water skiing is an extremely intense activity, but one measured in minutes, not hours. It's about strength and balance, but it isn't about cardio. That's the fitness we have to get back up to snuff before we can enjoy the upcoming bike season.

Oh, yeah. And we also have to toughen up our butts. Padded shorts and cut-out saddles are great, but there is nothing like mileage to toughen up the butt and make long miles do-able.

Next week we move back to our regular riding mileage. We have 14 days before we do a metric century. It's going to be great. (Oh yeahhhh.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The voices are back. (Excellent.)

The last fast ride of our bike year.
Most people keep their biking numbers by the calendar year. We are contrarians on the subject. We spend most of our time water skiing April through September, and we don't do much bike mileage during that time. Instead, our bike year begins in the middle of September when we take our road bikes in for their annual tune-up. The first ride after that tune-up is the official beginning of our bike year.

The bikes are at the Bike Shop for their tune-up. The spreadsheet for the new year's records is ready. We've set our personal goals. Routes for rides are planned and mapped. Love the beta bike route mapping on Google maps, by the way. I've spent many happy hours this summer setting up routes for the coming year.

We took the last ride of the current bike season Tuesday morning. It was a short (20 mile) ride, but we did it fast, making the last data entered for the year look really nice. I made my first sampling of how long I could sustain a 105 cadence at our riding speed. It was comical. I was panting within a mile on that mystery incline early in the ride. (Al laughed.) But I could hear the voices in my head getting me past the panting, past the muscle burn, past the panic when I saw Al beginning to drop me. Love the voices. This is such great fun...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

HECK is where people go who don't believe in GOSH.

We headed out for our ride, doing one of our favorite loop rides in the reverse direction just to keep it from being too hamster-on-his-wheel. Everything was perfect. Lovely day. Strong legs. Great mood. As we came to the end of the ride, entering the denser residential neighborhoods, the sweet old ladies were everywhere.

This is a typical Florida rural retirement area. Most people move here so the husbands can fish and the wives can do their wifely things (mostly competitive cooking, cleaning, and shopping for their homes or grandchildren). They are friendly and social. Some move away after a number of years to be closer to family or to live in more senior-friendly housing. Those that remain more than a decade are often sweet old ladies. Short fluffy hairdos. Shorts and pants with elastic in the waistbands. Smelling of citrus or white flower based perfume. Owners of pampered lapdogs.

We stop and chat. The lapdogs' leashes wrap around our legs and bikes. The sweet old ladies coo. We talk about the neighborhood. They smile a lot. Their lapdogs are all very pudgy. The ladies, well, they are very sweet and social. They tend to flock together like cooing pigeons. They are hard not to like.

We never tell the ladies much about ourselves. These are the ladies that say "fudge!" when they are really, really, really upset. I'm more the f#*k type myself. The less they know me, the more they will like me! And I know I will never ride down the road with them. So I pet their lapdogs and pedal on.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Aim Low, Reach Your Goals, Avoid Disappointment.

I saw the title of this post on a t-shirt. It seems appropriate for me and my bike travel planning this year.

Normally I have our cool weather bike travel plans finished all neat and tidy by the end of July. This year? Not even close. It's September and the only definite items are event rides. Ones we go to every year, at that. But, OK, I have an excuse. A hint: it purrs.

We adopted Lucy, an attractive tortoiseshell catfrom a no-kill shelter. She'd been dumped by her first family and had languished at the shelter for a good while. (Her stay in the shelter included weathering a hurricane in the metal building they use as the adult cat area.) She's a great cat, but she has serious abandonment issues. She totally freaks out when she is boarded. We have neighbors who would willingly drop by the house to feed her and tend to the litter box. But those neighbors are quite elderly, and I don't like burdening them with cat sitting chores. The sensible thing would be to board the dumb cat and let her get over it. But (if you have a pet you'll probably understand) I don't want to traumatize the cat if there is a reasonable work-around.
The dumb cat with abandonment issues, a.k.a. Lucy.
My solution is to set up the October through December calendar with short trips that require only 2 nights away from home. That is Step 1 for the dumb cat. She stays at home, lonely and bored but not traumatized. One of the problems she is having (I think) is that we don't work. Being retired we are around the house 24/7. She needs to adjust to us going away and leaving her alone. In Step 2 (January through April) she gets boarded for short periods.

Al is not only fine with this, he is very, very happy. Short trips mean that I will put us up in pleasant hotels with Internet and (most important) good TV. (Translation: no bed and breakfasts, no historic hotels, and no tiny motels in the boondocks.) I think it is fair to say that Al's hotel star rating system is based primarily on the type and quality of the TV in the room. A while back I put us up in an older motel with quaintly ratty 80s decor, but there was a large flat screen TV in the room. He was one happy bicycle guy.

This plan also means that we will be using only our road bikes during October through December. Our touring bikes will get tuned up and tended to but will sit unused until January.

Lucy is blissfully unaware of the inconvenience she is causing. It is always funny to know what we will put ourselves through for our pets. She may be a dumb cat, but she's our dumb cat.