The Annual Ride

 

 

Every year, since 2014, my friend and I go for a ride together.  It usually takes place in September when I have off on a weekday for religious observance.  I give him a list of the days that I have off and he chooses which of those days he’ll take off to ride with me.  

It all started in 2014 when I loosely mentioned that I had off for the holidays.  He then suggested that we ride together.  He chose a route and we went for a ride.  These rides were more about sightseeing and picture taking than anything else.  I look forward to doing these rides every year.  I don’t really remember where we went the first couple of years.  I barely knew the roads.  The last couple of years I chose the route and last year I led it.

In 2016 we went to Crab Meadow.  It was so cold out that I didn’t even want to stop to use the restroom and didn’t even get off of my bike at the second stop.  I just wanted to keep moving and keep warm.  It was still a lot of fun and it was great to get out and ride when I would’ve normally been at the office.

Last year he forgot about our tradition. I text him to give him my dates and he was surprised when I told him that it was time for our annual ride.  He was happy that I mentioned it so he chose a date.  We agreed on a starting time and location.  I chose the route and led it.  It was beautiful day, warm and sunny.  We went to Timber Point.  It was a mostly flat route with a gorgeous lake in the middle of the ride.  We had a slight delay early on when I got a flat.  We weren’t in any rush as I didn’t have any plans until mid afternoon.  As we were passing Heckscher State Park he asked me if I’d been there and I told him I never was.  We added a few miles at that loop and took pics by the beach.  It was very pretty there.  We continued on and stopped at the beautiful lake that I had planned as our photo op.  We hung out there and took quite a few pics.  It’s one of the prettiest places on Long Island.  There are many benches there for picnics and such.  A lot of geese, ducks, and swans swim there.  After that we continued on and only stopped to refill our water bottles.  The rest of the ride was very nice and we had a lot of fun together.  It was the perfect 5th anniversary ride.

I hope we have our ride this year.  He is currently injured but is expected to make a full recovery very soon.  It’s nice to have a special tradition with the friend I started out with.  Over the years we have grown and have different goals but that’s just part of what makes this annual ride so special.  I’ll be in touch once I have my dates……

This Past Weekend (7/28-7/29)

 

 

This past week was good.  The weather wasn’t great the whole week but it was good.  I had a free trainer session at the gym on Thursday.  I have to speak with them about getting another one because my trainer was late training someone else and I was pressed for time.  I only took the session because I wanted to learn to do proper squats.  I was holding dumbbells prior to that.  I wanted to use the barbell but I didn’t want to hurt myself.  He did show me how and I did them on Friday during my normal Friday morning workout.  My workout on Friday was a blast. I had a great time doing different strength exercises that I don’t normally do.  I see and feel the changes in my body.

On Saturday morning I woke up super early for the time trial in NJ.  I met a friend so we could drive up together.  As always I asked if food was permitted in his car.  I’m glad I asked because he doesn’t eat in his car.  He said it was ok to have a banana so certain foods were permitted.  I, of course, offered to bring him a banana and he accepted.  While shopping at Whole Foods the day before I picked up oatmeal in spill proof pouches.  I picked up enough for the two of us.  Please be responsible when accepting a ride from a friend and ask them before you eat in their car.  It’s always proper to offer them food too.  They’re doing you a favor and, out of respect for that favor, please respect their preferences.

There were five of us that went to the time trial and we all arrived at the same time.  We gave ourselves more than enough time to get ready and warm up before our scheduled start times.  It was a foggy morning so I was happy that I had bought a pair of fog resistant cycling sunglasses when I stopped at the shop to buy gels specifically for the race.  My girl briefed me on the course as we warmed up.  She’s always so thorough and I’m learning so much from her.  I love the way she sweetly tells me what I need to know.  I’m really not sure she knows what a soothing effect she has on people when they’re nervous.  She got me pretty calm.  I always want to vomit before racing but this time was different.

We got to the starting line.  One by one, every thirty seconds, a lady was dispatched.  When it was my turn I went to the start line.  The guy held me up and did a good job of it too.  I started my Wahoo.  They counted down and told me to go while giving me a light push.  Off I went!  My friend cheered me on as I pulled away.  I remembered to be in a lighter gear.  I pedaled with ease and geared up appropriately.  My cadence and power were spot on but I felt like I was barely moving. My speed was lower than last time.  I didn’t let that bother me.  I just kept on rolling.  After about a mile, I was passed.  A bit further up the road I passed someone.  She was on an entry level bike wearing loose clothing and moving slowly.  I started to relax knowing that, whatever happened up the road, I wouldn’t be last.  A few miles went by before I was passed again.  About a mile after that there was a man signaling the first turn to us.  I got out of my drops and onto my hoods because there was a hill at the first turn.  I went up that hill as hard as I could. There was a cluster of women up the hill.  I was passed again.  I started getting closer and closer to one of the ladies.  As I got closer I saw that she was a number ahead of me.  She wasn’t doing well at all and was losing it.  I kept my distance as I was passing her.  As I passed I told her not to give up and to dig in.  She let me know that there was a car back so I pulled in front of her.  As soon as the car passed I pulled aside again to give her room to climb.  I told her to keep digging.  We made our way up that hill to the end of the road. Another man was there to signal the next turn.  I gave her the right of way.  She was up the flat road and was doing well but started to slow down.  I passed her and kept moving.  A bit further up the road another man signaled the final turn.  I was in my drops and the man moved back knowing I would turn wide.  I was about 2 miles away from the finish line and I felt as if my tire was flat but I kept going.  If I got a flat at that point I could just tough through it but it wasn’t a flat, just a turbulent road.  I passed a man on a bike on the side of the road cheering me on that there was a half mile to go.  That made me so happy and I thanked him when I saw him after the race.  I made it to the finish and found my girl.  We cheered as the rest of our crew came in while mingling with other finishers.  

When all of us were finished we talked a bit and rode back to the registration table to await our results.  My girl came in 1st and I came in 5th out of 9 women.  I was exactly mid range.  I was happy with that.  I completed that 14.3 mile course with 725 ft of elev in 49:09 minutes.  My girl received beer as her prize.  She competed using her brand new bike and it made such a difference.  She has more gears, a lot more features, and the bike is much lighter.  The 2nd place finisher was over a minute behind her.  It’s safe to say that she’s in love with her new bike.  

On Sunday I went on the A/BB combined ride.  It was great.  I forgot to put the saddle bag back on my bike and I felt a huge difference.  I’ll never use a saddle bag again!  I plan to load my pockets up instead.  I set a couple of PRs as well.  I got a flat and was at the mercy of my group to lend me a tube.  The guy with the awesome pump with a gauge on it inflated my tire to the correct pressure.  As long as he’s on the ride I’ll never use my own pump.  After the ride there was pizza and beer waiting for us!  That made this weekend all that much more special.  I belong to a bike club that takes excellent care of us. I rode with a great group.  I’m so happy to ride with such amazing and supportive people who are always there for me and encourage me.  A special thanks to my friend who always paces me back when I fall behind and suffers up climbs painfully slow with me.  

I learned so much this past week and weekend.  I’m so happy things went the way they did so I could learn and experience all that I have.  Thanks to all my friends who support and encourage me.  Thank you all for reading and continuing to show your support.  I’m truly lucky that there are so many people in my life that I learn from and grow with.

 

Healthy Living Fridays (vol 13)

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Chicken With Quinoa & Beans and Parmesan Corn

 

What you will need:

  • Organic Tricolor Quinoa (1cup)
  • Water (1 1/2 cups)
  • Organic Red Kidney Beans (about 1/2 cup)
  • Frozen Organic Sweet Corn
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast 
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Butter Substitute 
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Basil Leaves
  • Onion Powder
  • Cilantro Leaves
  • Ground Hot Red Pepper

How to make it:

Preheat a large frying pan over medium/high heat.  Cut the chicken breast into strips.  Put the chicken in a bag and add the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and basil leaves.  Shake the bag until the chicken is seasoned.  Place the chicken in the frying pan and cook until it’s golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Put the water in a medium saucepan and add salt, pepper, butter substitute, red pepper, and the cilantro leaves.  Bring the water to a boil.  Rinse the quinoa in a mesh strainer and then add it to the boiling water.  Reduce heat to medium/low heat and boil until all the water has been absorbed.  Stir the kidney beans in and turn the heat off.  Let it sit 5 minutes and fluff before serving.  Makes about 3 servings.

Put the corn frozen corn in a small saucepan over medium heat.  When the corn is thawed stir in the butter substitute, salt, and pepper.  Cook a few more minutes until all the butter is melted.  Add the parmesan cheese.  Cook it until it smells delicious.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.  

Prep time is about 10 minutes.  Cooking time is about 15 minutes.  Enjoy!

Spin

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Now that the days are starting to get shorter it may be time to start thinking of other options.  Around late August/early September the chances of an evening ride become very slim.  The best time to get a cheap indoor setup is during the summer months when everything is on sale.  I now have a smart trainer setup but I’ll tell you about when I got into spinning.  

In the winter of 2014 I rode outside all winter long.  With the exception of weather anomalies I was out most weekends.  In early 2015 the weather made a turn for the worse and I spent a month off of the bike.  Over the course of that winter I spent an hour in the morning on a cheap trainer (that I would sometimes fall off of) watching movies. It was boring but I did what I had to do.

The winter of late 2015/early 2016 was brutal.  It was cold and snowy.  I hated being bored on the trainer.  A lot of times I would skip it so it was no surprise that I started to put on weight.  One Saturday morning a friend of mine invited me to a spin class at her gym.  I had been to spin once before but we were late and I didn’t really get to check it out.  It was a lot of fun.  I loved the high energy, the music, the lights.  This was something I could see myself doing.  

I looked into spin classes in my area and they were way out of my price range.  The best time for me was in the morning, before work.  I found an online site that was only $20 per month to watch spin videos on demand.  I found a spin bike online for $300.  Not only would I own the bike but it was still cheaper that going to spin class and I could spin on my own schedule.  

I bought the setup and used my Garmin with a cadence sensor and a heart rate monitor to get the full experience.  I had a first class spin studio right in my living room for a nominal fee.  I started my day with a high energy spin experience at 5am.  My neighbors weren’t always thrilled with me but I kept my fitness and had a lot of fun.  

Whatever your current financial status is there’s always a way to get the fitness experience that’s right for you on a budget that works for your life.  There are no excuses! 

The Weather Inside

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I hear the rain outside my window and I start to dread the workout ahead.  I’ve been so spoiled with the long, beautiful days.  I was supposed to do an indoor hour a week but that went out the window with all the summer heat.  Now I’m faced with the choices.  I can stay at home in my state of the art pain cave or I can sweat it up at the gym.  Truth be told I miss the beautiful vistas of Watopia.  I’m looking forward to virtual racing.  I may even raise my threshold temperature as many more gains can be made from my cozy warm pain cave.  I no longer view it as a prison sentence.  I can spend hours on end giving ride ons.  I’ve learned my lesson about skipping my intervals and I look forward to making it all right with my body.  As my body gets stronger so will my mind and soul.  If you don’t see me on the group ride, just know that I’m making many more gains inside.

Greenwich, CT

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Every year the bike club went to Greenwich, CT for a scenic yet challenging ride.  One of the guys used to lead it.  I asked someone else to lead it after they mentioned that a couple of miles could be added to enjoy a view of the water.

That morning we gathered at the same meeting place as the previous years.  The past two years I rode up with other people to save money on gas but this time I drove myself up.   It was a beautiful sunny summer day.   We had a great attendance that day as there were two riding levels going out that morning.  We had a nice group photo before we split into two groups and took off.

The guy that was leading was getting really strong and he was leading at a very spirited pace.  Keeping up with him was part of the fun as we went up hill after hill.  The ride was only 44 miles but it used to take a good portion of the day.  The ride started at 9am and we were at the lunch stop well before noon.

Part of what used to take so long was ordering lunch.  We were there so early that we were the only ones there ordering food.  We were in and out of there quickly.  I bought a water as I had my pocket sandwich for lunch.  We rode to the park that was close by to eat in the large gazebo and use the restroom.  

After lunch we were back to our speedy ride.  Nobody noticed that a couple of people fell back.  They made a wrong turn.  We called them and guided them to where we were.  We joked around and took pics while we waited.  That’s when I noticed a tiny head poking out from a hole.  It was a chipmunk, an adorable little chipmunk.  There were several holes that the tiny head poked out of.  They must have a somewhat sophisticated tunnel system.  I didn’t realize they were burrow creatures.  It’s amazing what you can learn on a group ride.

After a few more minutes we were all back together.  We stayed together fir the rest of the ride.  We didn’t do those extra few miles by the water but it was still a very nice ride. Even with lunch stop and the group splitting and regrouping, we were back by early afternoon.  It was so nice to beat traffic and be home at a decent hour.

Til this day we still joke about our friend’s hilly hammerfest.  We all had a great time.  I haven’t been on that ride since.  I’ve been meaning to go but I haven’t.  I’ll make it a point to go soon.  It’s a very beautiful ride.  The neighborhoods are stunning and the hills are challenging.  The homes are gorgeous with beautiful landscapes.  I highly recommend riding there if you haven’t yet.

This Past Weekend (7/21-7/22)

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This past week was a good and uneventful week.  I got my strength workouts in as well as some good riding.  I made sure that my legs were rested up for the race on Saturday.  

Saturday’s race was at 10:10 so I got to sleep in a bit.  I had a nice power breakfast with my strong coffee.  I left the house at the time I would normally start riding and got there an hour early.  I went to the registration desk. I had preregistered but they couldn’t find me in the book.  After some searching they found me and gave me a number, 911.  I refused the number and for good reason.  They gave me #912.  I got my bike together and we started getting ourselves together.  My girl was given the wrong type of number and had to return to the registration desk.  They offered her #911 and she also refused and took #913.  We pinned our numbers on and ate our gels to prepare.

We did a warmup lap as she described the course to me and told me a few things I would need to know.  It was windy and we only had a small section of tailwind.  She introduced me to the ladies that we would be racing with.  There were only a few of us, 7 in total.  These ladies were all very experienced.  I was nervous but I tried to remain calm, collected, and optimistic.

The men started first.  My girl wished her husband good lucked and I cheered as they pulled away.  We lined up and the photographer took pics of us.  I hung in for about a half of a lap.  I should’ve tried harder to hang in.  I could’ve stood up to try and keep up but I was in a haze, probably from nerves.  The corners were tough, they weren’t sharp turns but I wasn’t used to it.  I knew I’d been left behind but I didn’t want to embarrass myself.  My second goal kicked in which was not to get lapped.  I kept going as hard as I could sustain for 45 minutes.  I was starting to get a good flow into the turns, pedaling into them and taking them tight.  A couple laps in someone had dropped a black water bottle.  That water bottle was halfway to the tailwind after the first turn and became a landmark to me.  The photographer on the course took a few pics of me when I passed him.  Every time I passed the start/finish line I was cheered on.  All of these things made me feel very special.  They didn’t care that I was last, they cheered me on to hang in there.  The guys passed me a couple times and my friend cheered me on as he passed.  The ladies still hadn’t passed me.  Every time I heard someone coming up from behind me I was sure it was them but it never was. 

About 40 minutes into it I made the turn towards the start/finish line.  The ladies came up behind me.  I knew I’d been lapped but I sped up to catch them so I could at least ride with them for the last lap.  They were going hard but I came up behind them. The LCD screen read Finish.  Damn, it was over a few minutes early.  My girl was out of breath but I asker her if I was finished and she said yes.  I wasn’t sure if I had another lap and I would’ve done it to complete the race but it went by time, not by laps.  I asked if she won, she said she came in 2nd.  I nodded.  I wasn’t surprised at all.  I didn’t even congratulate her, I have since, but I didn’t then.  She wins, that’s what she does, she’s great at racing.  

Afterwards we were offered water and fruit.  The ladies congratulated each other.  As soon as we were alone I cried.  I was so emotional.  I completed something I was scared of, something I avoided.  I didn’t want to do it without my girl.  I look to her for guidance as she knows what she’s doing.  All my accomplishments came to mind and I was happy I did it.  I couldn’t believe I did it.  I completed my first crit race!! 

The other ladies called my girl over to take a pic and I came along with her.  We took a pic together and then they did the podium pics.  Afterwards one of the ladies demanded that we get something and they gave us random items.  I got a stash can that fits in my bottle cage and a tube, my girl got a saddle bag.  We said goodbye to the ladies after engaging in polite conversation.  They could care less that I was even there.  I later learned that I wasn’t lapped earlier because the lades were slowed down to offer the right of way to the men.  Even so I was still very happy about my accomplishment and walked on air for the rest of the day. 

On Sunday I showed up to the group ride to find that there really wasn’t a group for me so I went on the faster ride.  It was supposed to be 50 miles but I got 2 flats and we cut it short to 32.  It wasn’t the nicest day.  The roads were wet but drying.  It was overcast with periods of mist and sun.  I was just happy to get a ride in. Of course I apologized profusely for holding the ride up.

It’s so sweet that everyone is so encouraging.  Everyone is telling me that I may have come in last but at least I showed up.  My girl made it a point to tell me that her first race didn’t go as well as mine and that I chose a tough one to get started on.  What do I think? I think that they’re right and that every time I do it I’ll learn something from it and get better each time.  I won’t let my poor performance discourage me.  I will get better though training and experience.

 

 

Healthy Living Fridays (vol 12)

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Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal With Chia Seeds, Pecans, & Banana

 

What you will need:

  • Steel Cut Irish Oats (1/3 cup)
  • Chia Seeds (2 tbsp)
  • Water (1 1/2 cups)
  • Pecans (chopped, 1/8 cup)
  • Cacoa Powder (1 tsp)
  • Brown Sugar (2 tsp)
  • Banana (1, sliced)

How to make it:

Combine the steel cut oats, chia seeds, and water in the Zojirushi rice cooker the night before.  Set the timer on the porridge setting for the time of the morning that you would like to eat it.   

When its ready add the cacao powder, pecans, banana, and brown sugar.  Stir it all together and serve immediately. Makes one serving.  Prep time 5 mins. Cook time about an hour.

Northport…….

 

Every time I led a ride to Northport something would go wrong.  Well, maybe not every time, but the last three times.  Now I only go to Northport when someone else leads.

It was a very hot and humid day.  It was the day of the annual Tour De France pool party that a guy in our club had every year.  I was leading a remote start ride to Eatons Neck.  The lot was close to his house so we could go straight there after the ride.  The ride started well. We went to Eatons Neck passing through Northport.  We went down to the beach to take a pic and refill our bottles.  On the way back I started to cramp up really bad in both legs.  After that we headed straight back which cut our ride short.  When we  returned to the lot we saw the other groups there.  It was so brutal out that we all cut it short. We got to the party early and cooled off in the pool.

About a month later I led another ride to Eatons Neck.  The forecast was hot and humid.  I decided to add miles and ride from my home in Fresh Meadows.  I picked my group up from the lot and we made our way to Eatons Neck.  We took a pic and went into Northport for lunch. The clouds moving in were a deep gray color.  We made it into Northport when it started pouring.  It was an unforecasted downpour that flooded the streets and continued on for about an hour. We were hunkered down in the pizza place.  The town even lost power.  While we were there a couple of us had a beer.  The new guy was tipped off that I lead better with a cold one in me.  As soon as the rain died down and the flooding dissipated we started making our way back.  The guy who knows all the roads led us back.  We trickled back in sub groups.  I arranged to get a ride into Queens from the lot with one of the guys.  Not far from the lot I got a puncture flat.  The guy I was with called his wife to come pick us up and gave me a ride into Queens rather than changing the flat. That was so nice of them.  I’m not sure I ever properly thanked them for that but I was ever so grateful. 

A few months later, in the fall, I led a ride to Crab Meadow.  There would be no lunch break on this ride because I had tickets to see Cirque Du Soleil.  I was so excited to see it.  About 15 miles into the ride I had a flat that we changed twice before we realized that it was a blowout.  The ride was further delayed as we had to wait for the guys to come back from the bike shop, which was a couple miles away, with a new tire.  My bike uncle got me that tire and I never really paid him back for it.  The group all stuck it out with me and we continued on.  We went into Crab Meadow and took a pic.  From there we went into Northport and got separated.  I took a wrong turn with a small group and we had to backtrack… up a hill.  The group wasn’t at the restroom stop.  I called them and they were ahead but they waited for us.  We all made it back to the lot in the late afternoon.  So much for a quick ride….  My friend and I still made it to the show on time after having a nice dinner in the city.   I was mesmerized by that amazing performance.  

Thank you to my friends who were always there to help me out whenever I needed a helping hand.  In time I’ll either repay these favors or pay them forward.

 

Let’s Give Them to the Bike!

 

 

I’ve noticed over the years that women are making incredible progress in cycling and all sports.  Some of the women I ride with ride stronger than most men I know.  It has never dawned on me that women don’t have their own equivalent of the men’s Tour De France.  

I only thought of it recently because of something that I saw on Facebook.  There are a group of women that ride the course a day before the men do.  They have a lot of support from other women that come to ride with them.  It’s absolutely inspiring.  I dug a bit further and found out that there used to be a women’s version of Le Tour.  It was supposed to go on the past couple of years but was cancelled due to scheduling issues.  

I continued to dig further to find out there’s a female pro cyclist out there that believes women don’t have the physiology to race for three weeks. It upsets me that a woman would say that. We can do anything that any man can do.  Why are there women out there doubting women publicly?  Just because she raced for 10 days and feels that was enough does not mean that is true for all women.  

I will now invest the time to see what I personally can do to raise awareness to the fact that women deserve to have their own Tour De France.  I don’t care what they wind up naming it but women deserve the same respect in the sport that men get.  

Please show your support for these women that are riding to bring awareness to female cycling.  Like them on Facebook.  I’ve put up images that I found about the history of the female Tour De France.  It shows what years it ran, who finished on the podium, where they are from, and what the race was named.