Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Goofy clothes and Goofing off

It's  a lovely spring day here in Minnesota and I really want to be outside reading a book or riding my bike or something fun like that. Instead, I have work to prepare for my Memoir: Writing of Family class so I'm in my office with the windows open getting ready to get to work. First, though, I'm allowing myself a chance to do some fun work. I've decided to write a quick blog entry which will help get my head in the right place for the writing I need to do for class. At least that's my rationale. I reality I suppose I'm goofing off and avoiding my class writing. Oh well.

Last night we took our bikes to Valley Bike and Ski for a few adjustments. Owen's seat was too low and I've been feeling like I'm putting too much weight on my arms when I ride. Dan, one of the guys at Valley, took care of our adjustments while Jerrod, another guy who works there, answered Ryan's questions about shifting gears. Rose announced that she wants a road bike so she can ride with Owen and me. Then Ryan said he wants to get a road bike, too, though he wants a bike that goes fast over jumps first. We're planning to get both kids new, used, bikes at Valley's upcoming bike swap but an actual road bike is probably something a few years down the line for Rose and Ryan. Still, makes me feel good that the kids are interested in riding with us.

While Dan adjusted our bikes, Owen talked to Jeff, the owner, for awhile. Jeff is super nice, super knowledgeable about bikes and his belief in good customer service is the main reason we decided to buy our bikes from Valley. Ryan hasn't been comfortable with his bike helmet so Jerrod helped Ryan find a youth helmet that fits better than his old one. Ryan proceeded to wear it around the store the rest of the time we were there. Then Owen found a pair of cycling tights to wear when the weather is cool. I don't believe I've ever seen Owen in tights before last night. That's probably a good thing, though he has nice legs and can pull of tight-wearing well enough, especially at something like the Renaissance Festival. Still, seeing Owen in tights was a little shocking. They are, how shall I say this?, they are rather snug. So though Owen insisted he looked like Robin Hood and mentioned that he could wear his tights around the house, or something like that, I think he'll just stick to wearing them when he's cycling on cool days. We're figuring the upcoming Iron Man might involve cold weather so we want to be prepared. Owen also got some cycling gloves and we both got little skull cap sort of things to wear under our helmets when the weather is cold. Both kids thought they were great and wore them around the store, insisting they looked like pirates. Now I have pirates and Robin Hood to deal with and a kid who won't take his new bike helmet off. Little did I know that road biking would bring so much humor to our lives.

The kids are on spring break so we decided to take the dogs for a walk this morning. It's warm enough that we didn't need to wear jackets so I was struck with a challenge - what to wear? I needed something with pockets to stash my iPhone so I could keep track of the time (we could only take a short walk because we planned to meet Owen for lunch). My yoga pants don't have pockets. I didn't want to wear a jacket so I decided to wear a biking jersey. I used to think people looked kind of goofy wearing their cycling clothes but practicality won out this morning and I decided that looking goofy was okay. So, we set out for our walk. Ryan had his new biking helmet on (he likes it so much he decided to wear it to walk the dogs) and I wore my Zoic jersey with my cell phone stashed in one of the front pockets. We probably looked goofy - but who cares?

Let me take a moment to comment on my bike jersey. There are jerseys made specifically for women but I have found that many don't fit me well and when I try them on I look like a sausage stuffed into a spandex casing. I suppose looking great isn't one of the goals for choosing bike clothing but I figure I might as well find things to wear that I feel comfortable in. Last fall I went to REI to find bike jerseys on clearance and found a fabulous Zoic jersey, their Rapture Cap jersey (Zoic makes mountain bike clothing). It has an empire waist, "chest darts for improved fit and shape," a front kangaroo pocket (which is where I put my iPhone), and two pockets in the back. The jersey fabric is a blend of polyester and bamboo. Sounds like it would be scratchy or something but the fabric is very nice and comfy. Plus I think I look nice in it and got two compliments on how nice I looked when I wore it on a ride last fall. That works for me. I like compliments.  I ordered another jersey through REI and now I have a green one and a blue one. I just visited the Zoic website and the Rapture Cap is on clearance for just $23.00 - a steal for bike clothing! I may just order another.

Owen and I plan to get out for a ride when he gets home from work. Let's see, he'll be home in about an hour and I still have a lot of writing to do for my class. I'd better stop goofing off and wrap up this blog entry and get back to my memoir writing work.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Wonderful Day - 2nd Ride

Had a wonderful day. Church this morning. A birthday party at our house (for me - I turned 43 on the 25th)  and after we said good-bye to our last guest, a quick bike ride around the neighborhood. Days don't get much better that this.

For my second ride on my new bike, I put on all of my cold-weather riding gear, I think cyclists refer to this as their "kit" but I'm not 100% sure about that. Whatever all of my stuff is called, I'm glad I have it and I could use a few more things to make sure I'm comfortable riding in cooler weather. I rode around 7:00 tonight with a temperature of about 43 degrees. I had on my shorts, my long biking pants which are kind of fleecy inside, my Marmot long-sleeved undershirt, a short-sleeved jersey, my windbreaker, helmet and fingerless gloves. I was not warm though I probably would have been okay if I went on a longer ride. What I still need is probably a skull cap sort of thing for under my helmet and/or something to cover my ears, possibly shoe covers and fingered gloves. That's not that much more stuff. I'm glad I've got almost everything I need to ride in this weather.

Lots of good news about my ride today:  First, I clipped in and out of my pedals easily and didn't fall down. Yay! A second and very noticeable good thing - my bike is FAST!! As in YEE HAW fast, way faster than my hybrid. Like all road bikes, my Giant Avail is built for speed. I was going 17 mph with little effort, over 10 mph up gentle hills. This may not sound wonderful to people who road bike regularly but it's hugely exciting when I've been working hard to average 10 mph on my hybrid and am going so much faster without any training or much effort. Another good thing about the ride is that I was more comfortable overall -  more comfortable with shifting, with my lower down position and with riding with my hands on the "hoods" and experimenting with using the  "drops." My shoes are also surprisingly comfortable (I didn't expect this - it's a struggle for me to find shoes that feel good). All in all, we rode about 5 miles. Averaged a mere 10 mph but were riding with the kids for part of the time so purposely went very slow, around 6 mph.

Oh yes, one more really important thing, I had FUN!

The birthday party was great fun as well. We had a bunch of people over, grown-ups and kids, this afternoon and had lots of good food. I baked a lot of stuff for the party because I love to bake, an herb cheesecake, a chocolate cake, some little sandwich pastry things and several people brought yummy things to share as well. I expected to have fun but the time was made even better when my neighbor, Craig, known as Mr. Kite, came over with some of his kites. He flew them out in our yard with the kids. Everyone had fun! Thanks to everyone who came and helped me celebrate. I love having friends, especially friends who don't mind if I try new recipes on them :-)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Bike - First Ride

I picked up my new road bike last night. The nice young man at Valley Bike and Ski taught me how to clip in to my Shimano SPD pedals. It took me awhile to figure it out but I got the hang of it enough to feel like I could practice more at home and do fine. And, since I know just about nothing about riding a road bike, he then showed me how to shift my Shimano 105s, the gear shift things on my handlebars. He answered more questions for me, helped me pick out a bike bag, filled my tires and helped me load my new bike and Owen's in my van.

To say I was excited is an understatement. Excited and nervous and also wondering a bit of what I've gotten myself into. Remember, I only started riding bike for real last summer when I bought a helmet and decided to ride the 30 mile Jesse James Bike Tour in September (you can read about this adventure if you click here). I rode regularly for a month to prepare for the ride on my old Specialized hybrid bike and finished the ride averaging about 10 mph. I kind of liked riding and wanted to do more rides so I decided to purchase a road bike last fall. So I did. And now I have a bike and I sure hope I like riding it because Owen and I have pretty much committed ourselves to this sport now that we bought two new bikes and a lot of stuff to go along with them.

So, late this afternoon after we got home from an Earth Dog event with our pup, Rocket, (more on that another time) we pulled out the bikes and readied them for a short test hop. Determined to clip in to my pedals on my own (I'm independent to a fault sometimes), I put on my shoes, got my bike, stood next to the garage and clipped in my first shoe. Not too bad. Now for the next shoe. I attempted to reach out my arm to steady myself on the garage and, you guessed it, promptly fell over. Rather ungracefully I must add. Skinned my knee and scraped my gear shifter thingy (the hood on my left side? I don't have all the terminology down yet). Oh well. I must have looked funny falling over in slow motion. Rose watched me tip over. At least she didn't laugh, she seemed genuinely concerned. I tried again. This time Owen held the bike for me and I clipped in and rode off. I've since clipped in and out a few times and haven't toppled over. Progress.

Owen, the kids and I rode around our neighborhood for about 15 minutes. Though I can tell I'll have to make some adjustments, I can already tell that riding this road bike is much easier than riding my hybrid. The thing goes fast with hardly any effort at all. It was a struggle for me to average 10 mph on my last ride of the season last year but just I was going 9 mph around my neighborhood and barely working. Cool.

Those of you who know me well know that I'm slow to adjust to new things - getting used to riding a road bike is going to be a challenge for me. I'm leaning way forward compared to my road bike, I'm sure that my reach isn't right, that my shoulders feel funny, that my wrist is bothering me a bit - and I forgot to breathe. I do that when I try new things. It's not a positive thing, not breathing. It's something I have to work on. But I'll get the breathing and the biking figured out. I have to - the Iron Man is just a month away and I am planning to ride the 30 mile ride. I rode 2 miles today, much of it while holding my breath. I have work to do!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Back to Normal?

We'll I'm back home now and had a great time celebrating my birthday yesterday. I had my memoir class at The Loft in the morning then went out to Perkins for a Birthday dinner with my family last night. It was a great day, the kind where I remember how much friends and family mean to me, how much I enjoy relatively simple things like good conversations with family members and friends.

The final fun part of my birthday was a trip to Valley Bike and Ski where I finally picked out my cycling shoes and Owen picked out some cool weather cycling gear. Our bikes are there in the shop all put together and ready for us to take home. My plan is to head back to the shop tonight and have the guys check me out on how to clip in and out of my pedals. Then, thoroughly checked out, I'm planning to load the bikes up and bring them home. That means I'm going to be cycling soon, maybe even tomorrow. Our plan is to ride the 30 mile Iron Man at the end of April. I have some cycling to do...

Today I planned to write, to spend some time with a few friends, to get my schedule back to normal. But normal doesn't really exist in my world, I guess. Ryan's had a sniffly nose but woke up this morning groaning. He had a fever and told me "it feels like there is a weight on my head" so he's home from school with me and I'm home and will probably not get my "normal" activities done nor do what I planned. Oh well. I'm watching a movie, Short Circuit, with Ryan instead and glad to have a day at home with him.

I've now set up my blog on blogger. Those of you who follow my blog on Facebook won't notice anything different but if you follow my blog on the internet you will notice a slightly different format and find that the previous address ( won't have new content. I'll post a link to my new blog site on the old site. Hopefully people won't get lost in cyberspace trying to find me. Why the move to blogger? Well, I wanted to be able to label my blog content and wanted my blog to be more visible to the greater public. I hope it's a good move. I wasn't sure if I should move to Blogger or Wordpress but ended up with Blogger. It's all an experiment, another sort of adventure, I guess.

You may notice the blog title, Idyllwild. If you're curious as to why I chose Idyllwild you can read one of my first blog entries at my old site and find out.
Here's the link:’re_wild.html

All for now. Ryan needs me and Short Circuit is calling me - # 5 is Alive!