A slice of humble pie

I pulled on my bright green chili pepper socks. I purposefully selected these exact socks for this ride because I was already feeling rocket-hot and I hadn’t even left the house!

This past Sunday I packed up my gear and drove out to the country for a small organized ride (3 others who also are training for our 545 mile ride in the AIDS/LifeCycle).

The weather was utterly fantastic, a cool start and warming up to 75 degrees F. The sun peeked through the clouds as the wind picked up just a little. It felt so good to get outside and ride my bike again after last weekend’s disappointing outcome and I even saw the beginning of the wild flowers coming out too! It was just a hint, but a clear indication that Spring is around the corner.

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I was soaking it up, and we were FLYING! Well, I felt like we were flying.

19, 20, 22 mph!

It feels pretty amazing when you can go faster than the recommended speed on local signage.

I was feeling like hot stuff. I never ride that fast, but this day was special, and I WAS CRANKING IT OUT!

Until I wasn’t.

We stopped at a local gas for a quick rest and snack before heading out for the last 10 miles of this 40 mile loop. The plan was to head back out for another 16 for a 56 mile day.

I mounted my bike and we headed down the road. We turned the corner, right into the headwind and my legs screamed in outrage!

Oh, right. I don’t ride 19, 20, or 22 mph. Ever. That was a tailwind and somehow I didn’t realize it. Now it was time to pay my dues for the earlier speed fest.

I should have known, it is always more windy in February. And there isn’t much to slow a huge headwind barreling down the grassy fields while riding out in the country. But I was chili pepper hot! And clueless.

35 miles, I knew there would be no second loop for me.

38 miles, the countdown began. Just 2 more miles until the car (and the glorious chocolate milk at the car that was beckoning my return).

39.2 miles… just keep spinning.

39.7… you’re going to make it. Just move your legs. It doesn’t matter how slow. Just Move Your Legs.

40 miles. Car. Chocolate milk. And a hug from my team leader. I needed that.

To be fair, it was one of the fastest rides I’ve accomplished! Average speed was 15.2 which is ~2 mph faster than I was last year. It’s great progress! Hard earned progress.

I’ll be back at it next week, more miles, but not nearly as fast. And thats okay. It’s not a race, it’s a ride. And the purpose of the ride isn’t about my speed, its about the cause. Good reminders.

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SAG, but not Saggy

Today is another drizzly riding day, but I’m staying dry in my car as I am volunteering for SAG support in a training ride series I participate in. SAG is an acronym for Support And Gear. Today I will be part of the vehicle support team that can help carry tire pumps, medical kits, and can transport cyclists back to the start if they run into mechanical trouble or just run out of steam.

I’ll admit that I would rather be on my bike with everyone else, but I’m so appreciative for others who volunteer thier time to support all the rides that I have been on so I feel great that I can give a little of that bike love back to others.

But not to worry, I’ll be back in the saddle logging the miles tomorrow. And tomorrow is already looking like a lovely spring day in Texas!

Ride on!

Advice Received: Spinning my wheels

Yesterday I moaned heavily about missing a training day due to rain, and instead I went to spin class. As we discussed spin class is just not my thing.

Today the rain has passed and I celebrated by heading outside for a great day!

Now, after a 1.8 mile ride I’m driving an hour back home.

It’s 36 degrees with a 16 mph headwind and 89% humidity. I’ve been informed that the feels like temperature is 26 degrees. Let’s be honest, mother nature just schooled me big time! Living in Texas, I’m not appropriately prepared for these conditions no matter what my pride says.

So I’ve found my motivation to go back to spin class.

Advice asked, advice received. Thanks mother nature. It’s just what I needed.

Advice Needed: Spinning my wheels

Rain, Rain, Go Away.

This is the 3rd Saturday in a row of training rides that have been rained out, and I’m starting to feel the crunch against my training plan for my 545 mile ride from San Fransisco to LA this coming June (the Ride to End AIDS!). So I did the unthinkable (for me).

I went to Spin Class.

Spin Class is an incredible workout! It is hard, effective for training, and I hate everything about it. Not just a mild dislike, but a full on 60 minutes of loathing.

I love riding my bike because I get to be outside, to see nature, feel the breeze, hear the sounds of birds chirping and the wind rustling tree leaves. I get to make friends with nature! The fact that I can propel myself somewhere brings me a sense of incredible freedom and joy.

Spin class takes all those wonderful things about bike riding and shoves it outside the gym doors.

  1. IT’S HARD. I get that this is the point. But if we are being honest, I never work as hard as i do in spin class on a normal ride.
  2. NO COASTING. This makes me so sad. If you stop pedaling your bike in spin class, your computer/metrics-counter and the wheel just flat-out stop. There is no hum of a tire coasting on the road to celebrate your past efforts. Just the sound of silence (not in a pleasant Simon and Garfunkel way either).
  3. YOU DON’T GO ANYWHERE. All that sprinting and you end up right where you started.
  4. YOU’RE INSIDE A GYM. No nature to take in, no sights to see except my own ugly, exercise face in a huge mirror. Could we at least point the bikes toward a window?

I will admit that the music was cool today. Mardi Gras themed Zydeco music for the occasion. So there was my silver lining.

Anyway,  tell me, guide me, teach me please! How do you motivate to get through spin class when the rain clouds are around?

Dreaming in Green: Peak a Boo-Boo

When was the last time you experienced absolute and utter joy? 

Maybe you felt it on your first sip of your morning coffee, or it was puppy kisses that made you smile, but for me it happened when I finally reached the summit of Healy Pass in Ireland!

This is pure joy!

Except, as it turns out, the hill I just climbed was not Healy Pass. I just thought it was.

I would actually reach the summit of Healy Pass an hour and a half after this celebratory dance on the side of a random highway. What I had conquered were two smaller climbs.

And there’s nothing worse than a pair of falsies.

While riding up Not Healy Pass I reached the blazing speed of 3.1 mph which is very likely the bare minimum speed anyone can go without actually falling over on your bike directly into traffic. All of this due to a fairly steep grade and a headwind blowing at approximately a zillion miles per hour.

At the end of this effort I was ecstatic! I couldn’t believe that I did it! I made it to the top without falling over and I DANCED from the sheer joy! I suspect the tourist busses passing by were confused, but probably appreciative of my interpretive Irish jig of happiness too!

After my celebration and when I was able to breathe normally again, I got back on my bicycle and went on my merry way totally thrilled that I had gotten through the hardest part of my ride so early in the day.

Until approximately 40 minutes later when I saw a mountain of switchbacks rise up the countryside in front of me. And I knew I had messed it up.

But this is the view from the top of the real Healy Pass.

Healy Pass itself was beautiful. It was a challenging climb in where I looked down those switchbacks to see the tremendous, albeit slow progress I had made. Along the way many fluffy sheep gave me a creepy side-eye stare me (with their disturbing sideways eyes) as I slowly rolled by. That alone was a little motivating to get to the top.

Finally, the celebration at the top was still pretty good, but a lot more cautious. Just in case.

Because, every now and again, even a seasoned cyclist sometimes gets it wrong.

Dreaming in Green: Tea and a Toasted Special

The first thing I learned while in Ireland is that the locals will tell you a rule, and the immediately disregard it. They are habitual line crossers!

They will tell you all about the rule, and then they immediately break it! And I love this! I absolutely adore it, and hope that I can bring a little more of this Irish spirit to my own life.

The following is one such story:

It was about 10:00 in the morning, and it was the first day of my trip in which the intermittent Irish rain arrived. I was about 31 miles into my ride and had just climbed the Ballaghisheen Pass.

The cold and soggy ride up the Ballaghasheen Pass

After conquering this challenge the reward is riding downhill! But, speeding down a wet road on two skinny tires at high speeds is scary! 

I was white-knuckling it and riding the brakes hard through beautiful wide open landscape. By the time I reached the bottom of the hill I was soaked and was cold in my bones.

Shivering, and with my toes in a puddle that used to be my shoes, I pulled into the small hamlet of Glencar. I noticed a few cars in a parking-lot next to a little hostel/pub, a good sign that it was open (something I had rotten luck with throughout my trip!). I leaned my bike against the building and shuffled inside.

I started peeling the soggy layers of bike clothes off my frozen limbs and a weathered man enjoying his morning Guiness immediately questioned my sanity for riding my bike in that weather. “Doesn’t look like a fun thing to do.”

Well, he wasn’t exactly wrong in the moment.

The barmaid appeared:

Barmaid: What can I get you?

Me: Do you serve lunch?

Barmaid:  Well, I can’t serve you lunch. But I can make you a toasted special.

After explaining to me that a toasted special is in fact, a sandwich, I thought about the barmaid’s statement:

You can’t serve me lunch, but you can make me a toasted special?

What?! How is that not the same thing? Is this a rule? What does this even mean?

Oh I don’t even care! YES PLEASE A SANDWICH!

I silently thanked my lucky stars to have this line-crossing rule-breaker here to help.

Barmaid: Would you like: ham, ham and cheese, or ham, cheese and tomato?

Me, starving and sopping wet: Yes, please, ham and cheese would be lovely!

Barmaid: Toasted?

Me: Oh yes please!

Barmaid: And would you like tea with that?

Me: Yes, yes that would be amazing. Thank you.

Can we talk about tea for a moment?  Oh tea. Where have you been all my life?

Maybe I should have led with this because many of you dear readers are British, but this was the first time I really understood the wonderful, comforting and warming power of tea. And now I get it. Tea has officially become a constant in my day-to-day life.

I am so grateful for that small pub on a soggy day for introducing me the glory of a toasted special and tea.

So it seems that Irish silver linings are served with ham, cheese and tea.

 

Cycling deep in the heart of Texas

One of the best things about riding my bicycle through the Texas countryside is making new friends.

Sunday’s weather for my replacement ride turned out beautiful, and this guy even let me tousle his hair. It was a great day!

Horsin_Around

ALC 2018: Get on your bike

AIDS/LifeCycle, 2018: in just 5 months I will be riding 545 miles from San Fransisco to LA. And it is going to ROCK!

But, right now it feels a little daunting to start training again. I’ve been doing a few rides here and there, but now is the time to get serious and get the training plan together!

  • Step 1. Get on your bike! I had planned for a ride today, but was rained out and the ride was cancelled.
  • Step 2. Eventually you’re going to have to ride in the rain. But today was not that day.

So here is to remembering beautiful weather back in December and fingers crossed for better weather tomorrow.

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Dreaming in Green: Irish Flat

What a lovely cycle! ~245 miles of the lushest, greenest, and possibly the wettest quilt of colors making up the Irish landscape. Around every corner it felt like one section was prettier than the last. Breathtaking!

Actually I should rephrase that to say: It wasn’t just breathtaking, rather it was breath gulping! All of it required sucking in massive amounts of oxygen into pitiful, panting lungs.

Before my trip to Ireland, my last minute additional training schedule, unbelievable heat and humidity and an unexpected massive hurricane interrupted my normal training, so I hadn’t been on the bike in the three weeks preceding my trip. I knew there would be some fitness to recover, but honestly I still felt MEGA confident in my previous training for the AIDS/Lifecycle. I knew I could do the ride, it might just be slower than normal. Besides, we were going to ride the Southwestern Irish coast, I mean how hard could it really be to ride on the coast?

Now let me tell you about a few of the ways that I’m an idiot:

Fail #1: Had I given any actual thought about literally any of the pictures I’ve seen of Ireland’s gorgeous green scenery, I would have realized (but didn’t) there is almost nothing flat about Ireland.

Honestly, what about this gorgeous picture tells you to expect any amount of flat terrain?! Nothing.

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So why would I and did I expect on some level for there to be flat riding in Ireland?

  1. Because I believe in kindness.
  2. Because I reasoned (illogically) that I would be riding on the Irish Coast – therefore, 0 degrees of elevation, therefore FLAT.

Does this look like a flat coastline sitting at 0 degrees elevation? No. no it does not.

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No, this is Irish Flat.

That’s what I started referring to it as. Irish Flat. While the hills started shortly after I left Killarney, the descriptor came on Day 2 of my ride.

Day 2 ~ 56 miles / + 3172 feet — This is the day we had to combine two routes into one, and It turned out to be a very big day.

Normally this day is broken into 2 to allow for some additional sightseeing and overall pleasantness. Here is how the two routes were described (so I wasn’t worried really):

Part 1: Gougane Barra to Glengarriff (~20 miles / + 1010 feet) was described as “a very easy ride, being both short and mostly downhill.”

Part 2: Glengarriff to Kenmare (~36 miles / + 2162 feel) “Here you leave the coast, turning north towards Healy Pass. The climb is steady but not too steep and the views from the top are glorious. The little gift shop / refreshment halt may be open, but don’t depend on it if the weather is inclement.”

I read the first description more than once and thought: AWESOME! Love me some downhill! No problem this is going to be totally cool.

Fail #2: What I failed to put together, is that this mostly downhill doesn’t mean that it is actually downhill if the ride also includes 1010 feet of climbing. Meaning, if this ride is described as “mostly short and downhill,” then there is going to be some seriously steep uphills to get that elevation gain. Otherwise it would say – Elevation, not + Elevation. Cheeky fail.

Anyway, the lovely tour company provided route maps, elevation profiles of the route and even a topological map of the area (this really should have been clue #1 that flat would not be an Irish descriptor). I studied these and deduced that this level of climbing would be totally reasonable because I had already done 3500-5000 feet of climbing during the California AIDS/Lifecycle, and this climbing would only be. between 2000-3000 feet a day. No problem.

Fail #3: My previous climbing experience for AIDS/Lifecycle stretched over 85-90 mile days, so big climbs, but generally at a reasonable grade. But in Ireland, they like to do ALL the climbing in as short of distances as possible! Which means, these elevation gain would be up STEEP hills! Another Cheeky fail.

But everywhere I went the lovely locals told me with their beautifully lyrical accent’s – Oh don’t worry girlie, it’s much flatter that way.

Sure. Irish Flat.

Cheeky’s First Mystery Blogger Award!

Mystery Blogger Award

I am completely astonished and honored to have been nominated for this amazing Mystery Blogger Award (my first time!). Thank you so much to Suze over at suziland too or obsolete childhood for your support! Suze has a really fun blog full of snarky goodness, y’all should check her out!

About the Mystery Blogger Award:

“It’s an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.”

This Award was made by Okoto Enigma.

The rules are:

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • You have to nominate 10 – 20 people.
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify).
  • Share a link to your best post(s).

3 things about me:

  • I adore end-of-the-world movies, even the bad ones.
  • The right way to start the day is with 2 lattes.
  • My all time favorite dessert is a sticky toffee pudding!

Link to my favorite post, it’s my bike ride from San Francisco to LA for the AIDS/LifeCycle!

Suze’s questions:

  1. If you could have only ONE dream come true, what would you wish for?
    • My dream would be to have a super power: to be able to drink all the coffee I wished at any point in the day and still fall asleep at bedtime.
  2. You have written a novel that is about to be made into a movie. The ONE actor or actress that you would NEVER want to play the lead would be? WHY?
    • Me! Okay, well I’m certainly not an actor, but I would also like to keep it that way. Otherwise, I couldn’t say!
  3. If your mother/father/child asked you to dye your hair pink…would you? why or why not? (that’s the silly one by the way!)
    • Oh! I’ve had pink hair! It also had purple stripes. It was great fun for a summer.
  4. Why a written blog and not a video blog?
    • Someday I would like to add in a video component, but it would likely look like some cool video from some awesome downhill descents or pretty scenery. Someday, but it is good to have goals to grow with!
  5. What is the most important thing you have learned about yourself since you started blogging?
    • Blogging has helped me get a little more social, it has forced me to get out of my comfort zone and I’m quite pleased about it! I have met some lovely people with awesome blogs because of it, and I can’t wait to find out what more of the world has to say. With that said:

My Nominees:

Undertone(s):

blistersandbugbites

booknerdtravels

Nathan Wood

the accidental backpacker

MercuryTwin

Bgddyjim

My questions:

  1. Do you have a goal in mind for your blog?
  2. Why do you blog?
  3. What hobbies do you do outside of blogging?
  4. If you could stock up one thing for a lifetime supply what would that be?
  5. What is a dessert that everyone has to try?

Thanks for reading and all your continued support!

Until next time, ride on!