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!
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.
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’tserve me lunch, but you canmake 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!
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.
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.”
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.
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!
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.
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!
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:
A huge thank you to fellow blogger Vesna for nominating me for my first Liebster award! I am so excited to receive this award and it is such a honor to be nominated by Vesna because I have just love soaking up her blog,Whisper, and learning about her life in Macedonia, and all of her travel adventures. She has inspired me to put Macedonia (and other surrounding areas) on my future travel list too! Be sure to check it out! Thank you, Vesna!
The Rules of Accepting The Liebster Award:
The Liebster Award is an award that dates back as early as 2011 and exists only on the internet and is given to bloggers by bloggers, whose work they find interesting, to motivate them, and to promote them. Liebster is a word with German origins and has several meanings: dearest, sweetest, kindest, nicest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.
The instructions of accepting the award and passing it on:
Create a new blog post on your blog thanking the person that nominated you, link to their blog and put in a graphic of the award.
Answer the questions that were provided, and then share some facts about yourself.
Create a new set of your own questions for others to answer.
Nominate 5-11 others and share your blog post with them so they can accept their awards
Why did you start blogging? This year (2017) I completed a 7 day, 548 bike ride from San Francisco to LA, and it inspired a 7 day, 244 mile ride around the southwestern coast of Ireland. These trips made me realize that bike travel wasn’t reserved for elite athletes, but could be done by anyone! I want to share that message and hope to inspire others to get on a bike too!
How has blogging affected your life? I have dedicated a lot of time to this blog by reflecting on my personal experiences as a cyclist and researching the information a new cyclist would want to know in order to get started. This has helped me get more creative, detail oriented, and thoughtful about finding pieces of inspiration that could help influence someone to start on their own adventure! I hope others will come back and share their adventures and stories on TheCheekyCyclist blog too!
What is your favorite book or series and why? I’ve read some really lovely books lately and I would say my favorites currently stand as follows:
Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies, Ben MacIntyre. I loved this because truth is stranger than fiction, and who doesn’t love a good spy novel?!
The Marriage of Opposites, Alice Hoffman. I loved this book for its unexpected story. A historical fiction that follows three generations of characters and beautiful landscape, but describes hardship, sacrifice and love. It unexpectedly got under my skin in the best of ways.
What kind of blogs do you like the most?I love a travel blog and blogs that tell stories of life outside of the places I know. I love to hop on my bike, go exploring and I love the dreams and ideas these blogs inspire!
What is your philosophy in life? A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. Don’t spend your life waiting for the ideal situation, go make the most of what you have today.
What are you most grateful about? Friends and family. I wouldn’t be who I am without them and wouldn’t be where I am today without their support.
If you have a time machine when and where would you go and why? I would go back to the first time I started pushing through some serious knee/calf pain while on a bike ride. I would slap myself upside the head and say “Stop! You don’t need to be a hero! If you are hurting while riding something is wrong and you need to get it fixed. Go get a proper bike fit and you’ll save yourself a lot of pain, money, and time off the bike.” I missed years of amazing rides because I didn’t know the importance of a proper bike fit.
What 3 words describe you best? How about 3 descriptors: An eternal optimist, lover of puns and wordplay, and coffee addict.
What advice would you give your 18 years old self? Change is constant, exercise your soul-of-flexibility.
What makes you happiest? Riding my bike, and drinking coffee. Best when they can happen together!
Why did you start blogging?
How do you get inspiration to create your blog posts?
What is your favorite dessert that everyone should try?
What is your favorite memory?
What is your favorite book or series and why?
What is your favorite way to prepare an egg?
Where do you want to travel most, but you’ve never been?
What is your top blogging tip for others?
What is your spirit animal?
What is your favorite post that you have written? (Link please!)
As I’ve started getting more exposed to the blogging world I have come across some amazing blogs with great stories of life, poetry, travel and more. While it is difficult to narrow the list, I would like to nominate these great blogs for the Liebster award:
I do. It was the first year I volunteered for the AIDS/LifeCycle. I stood in the parking lot on a chilly San Francisco morning and watched rider after rider kickoff for a 7 day, 545 mile trek over the hills and valleys of California to ride to LA. All this to raise money to support the fight against AIDS. I thought, “These people are nuts! 545 miles is SO FAR.” And I immediately put it on my bucket list.
Since then I have moved away from California, but I had never forgotten the “Ride to End AIDS“. So, this past June, 10 years from that fateful day, I got on my bike at the San Francisco Cow Palace and started pedaling down the Golden state to raise funds that support the life-saving services offered by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
This ride, and the journey up to it, changed me for the better.
It changed me physically
I trained for 8 months gradually adding mileage and hills to my riding regiment. I gained a lot of muscle, came to feel healthier than I’ve felt since my days as a kid, and I earned the most ridiculous tan line on my thighs you’ve ever seen. My bike shorts are about 3 or 4 inches longer than my normal shorts, so I’ve gotten to show off that tan line a lot!
I got stronger, I became faster and there were days where I felt like a well-oiled machine racing up steep hills (then stopping for pie afterward)!
It changed me mentally
There were so many good days! I saw beautiful scenery during the Winter, Spring and Summer. I came to appreciate how amazing a bit of shade feels from a passing cloud, and how refreshing a few drops of water from a rogue sprinkler feels on the hottest of days. These reminders helped revive my soul.
While riding my bicycle I got to see so much of my state that I would not have likely visited otherwise. Small towns, open fields and pastures. Places that cars see as a means to an end. But I got to really see these places, to smell the sweet scent of wildflowers on the breeze, and talk to dozens of cows as I coasted by. It was wonderful to let my mind quiet, to hear the gentle hum of my bicycle tire gliding across the road, and the birds chirping in the leaves overhead; a freedom that only two wheels can offer!
But there were long days too. Sometimes it would require a 1.5 hour drive to our training ride destination, 6 hours of active riding (like I said, I’m still not the fastest rider, but I keep moving!) plus more time for breaks and rest, plus another 1.5 hour car trip home. It was hard to get up at 4:30 in the morning for those training rides, but I had the support of my friends and loved ones so I got out of bed.
And there were hard days. When I first started riding again it was hard to sit on the saddle, because it is a hard saddle! And it was even harder to get back in the saddle the next day! Ouch Ouch Ouch! But the pain went away, and I got stronger.
But the hardest was my very last training weekend in May, 2 weeks before the big ride. I expected to ride at least 150 miles over Saturday and Sunday, one last training push before my bicycle was shipped to California. I had just come off a rest weekend and knew that if I could bust out this 80 and 70 mile day, I would be totally successful on those California hills! But it didn’t work out that way. Instead I eked out a mushy 40 miles that Saturday, and a painfully slow 30 miles on Sunday which felt even worse. I. Was. Devastated! I was supposed to be at my prime, but that was it, training was done. My confidence was absolutely shot. How was I possibly going to make it the 109 miles required on the Day 2 route?!
I got on the plane anyway. I went to California and I set my mind to do my best. I promised myself would go in my sous vide style: low and slow. After all, it’s a ride, not a race. And so I set off and kept pedaling, and pedaling, and pedaling. And I rode 109 miles on day 2!
The hard days have shown me how much I am capable of, even if it is a slow journey.
Most unexpected thing that happened: It changed my heart
The best part of my experience, over and over again I got to see the best of humanity. I was continually overwhelmed by the generosity of friends, family, and even strangers along the way.
People gave their support in so many ways: some were able to contribute to my fundraising goals, a few committed time and knowledge to help coach me, others volunteered to support training rides, and they were all joyous cheerleaders who encouraged me all through my training. There were even people came to cheer for all 2200 riders, every day, in big cities and in tiny towns during the AIDS/LifeCycle. People showed up with handmade signs, some waved and many yelled thank you for riding!
All of these people are the best of humanity. I feel so lucky and humbled to get to see these examples of people helping and supporting each other. We are all part of the AIDS/LifeCycle Love Bubble! And I can’t wait to do it all again in 2018!
Has riding changed you for the better? Share your story in the comments below!
Help end the isolation and stigma of those who live with HIV.
Help increase the resources available for education, prevention and care.
Help end the transmission of HIV.
In June of this year I rode my bicycle 545 miles as part of the 7-day cycling event called the AIDS/LifeCycle. It was one of the most impactful experiences I’ve ever had. It was physically challenging, mentally exhausting, and at times heartbreaking. But it wasalways inspiring!
Over this past year together we raised $14,333.98 to help those living with HIV and AIDS. That is INCREDIBLE! Throughout my entire AIDS/Lifecycle experience I was continually humbled by your support, kindness and generosity. And something else happened that I didn’t necessarily expect. Over and over again, so many of you shared your memories and stories about your friends and family who died from AIDS. I will always be grateful that you shared this part of your life with me.
One story, of many, that comes to mind occurred in April. While at a friend’s BBQ I talking about the upcoming ride and a man my near my age, someone who I had only met in passing, shared with me a story about his lifelong friend from who died of AIDS in college. He said “It’s 2017. I can’t believe this stupid disease is still here.”
I couldn’t agree more. So I have signed up to ride 545 miles again in 2018, for the 25th anniversary of the AIDS/Lifecycle. I will ride with the stories and memories you’ve shared with me, and I will ride to honor all of those people who have died from AIDS.
My goal is to raise $10,000 to help fund the life-saving services offered by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. But I can’t do it alone, so I’m asking for your help again.
$10,000 can make a HUGE difference! The services provided as a result of this event mean the world to those who receive them, and your support means the world to me!
Every Monday morning in the office when I’m heating up my oatmeal I’m asked, “What did you get up to this weekend?” Before I can respond, my co-workers add, “You went for a ride, right?”
Now that the weather is finally cooling off I’m out on my bike a lot more. It may not be a big ride, but I love getting out and seeing the outdoors from my saddle. My typical ride at the moment is about 30 miles on a Saturday or Sunday (weekend cyclist extraordinaire!) and it’s the highlight of my weekend, even when it’s hard (or really hard, or cold, or windy, or any other unpleasant descriptor).
So why do I love it? When I’m on my bike, I feel free! I love hearing the road and my tires connecting. I love the smells; the pine trees outside, someone cooking dinner, even the terrible smells (skunks fit this category nicely) because it reminds me what life is like outside my comfort zone. I love how empowering it is to know that I can transport myself to new locations just with my bike and my legs. And I want everyone to experience this joy!
I believe every person should get to feel this freedom. And it doesn’t matter if we start large or small, weekend riders or seasoned experts, as long as we keep going.
I remember picking up my bike again after a long hiatus just two years ago and I could barely make it 3 loops around the flattest section of paved roads in town. Each loop was just a mile and I was huffing, puffing and nearly collapsed as I slogged through the last turn. It was humiliating! What happened to my sweet youth that let me roll freely without breaking a sweat? But I went back the next weekend. This time I left my pride at home and geared up with my snail themed socks (if you can’t be good, at least you can look good) and made it 6 loops. Slow and steady progress! We all have to start somewhere, the trick is to just start! And I kept at it, little by little, mile by mile. This past June I rode 545 miles from San Francisco to LA in a charity bicycle ride called the AIDS/Lifecycle. IT WAS AMAZING! And now, I’ve signed up to do it again in 2018!
I’ll be tracking my training and progress here, so check back for updates. In the meantime, I would love to hear from you – why do you ride?