rhiannonstone: (bike)
I'm not very good at trying something I know I'm going to fail at. I'm (kindasortamostly) okay with failing something I tried my best at, because that's how we learn, but if there's something I'm reasonably certain is beyond my abilities, I just won't do it, at least not until I've gained the skills to try.

Which all seems very reasonable, but at some point last year I'd decided that 2013 was the year I was going to try for a metric century, and I registered for the Cinderella Classic. I hadn't done much riding between November and January due to weather, travel, and illness, but I put together a nice training schedule, and between that and having conquered a 50-miler last year, I had no doubt that I'd be able to ride 65 miles by the beginning of April.

And then there were many weeks of rain, and more illness, and lots of distractions.

I still managed to get in a bunch of riding, but not nearly as much as I needed to, and certainly none approaching the distance I was hoping for. I joined a fun-sounding ride with a local cycling meetup a few weeks ago because sometimes I ride better when I'm chasing others and thought it would help me get in some miles, but between a mechanical and tactical error at the beginning of the ride I never quite recovered from (toughing out a steep hill climb without the ability to shift into the lowest gear? Really dumb!) and much of the rest of it being hillier than anything I'd done since the fall, it did not go well, and I trailed way behind everyone else. I was determined to try to finish anyway, but after waiting for me to catch up on a challenging-for-me climb that wasn't nearly as challenging as the one coming up, the ride leader kindly and firmly directed me to the bail-out point. On what was supposed to be a no-drop ride.

After that disheartening experience, and with only couple weeks to go before the Cinderella, I was ready to call it off. Not even trying would suck, but I wasn't even close to the shape I was in last year, and there was no possible way I could get there in time for the ride. So why do it and embarrass myself? What's the point of starting a ride I know I can't finish?

I talked with my partners about it, who said they'd support me no matter what. I angsted on AskMetafilter about it and got a resounding chorus of "go for it!" Most helpfully, though, I talked with [personal profile] gayathri, who was also registered and also hadn't gotten in the training she'd wanted to yet. We both recognized we might not be quite prepared for the full metric century, but after chatting decided we'd go to just have fun and go for a ride, and let the SAG wagons take us back whenever we decided we were done.

So I rode, and had a great time. There was a little bit of struggling on the hills, and some annoying headwinds, and a minor injury that turned out to need more attention than I gave it, but there were also some really fun descents and I kept up a great pace in the flats. And at the halfway point, ~32 miles into the ride, G & I both decided we were done. And it was okay! I did think Real Hard about trying to go farther, and mayyyybe I could have done it (just 13 miles to the next rest stop!), but I knew I'd feel awful, physically, if I pushed myself that hard. And since I biked to and from BART as well, I ended up getting in a bit over 40 miles all told. So I feel pretty good about it. I'm really glad I didn't quit before I'd even tried, and I'm looking forward to trying again next year--with considerably more training and preparation. :) And a costume! Everyone was dressed up all girly and princessy--with all the plastic tiaras, pink dresses, and feather boas it looked like a giant bachelorette party on wheels--but I didn't really bother (other than a failed attempt to attach my tiara to my helmet without damaging either) because I wanted to focus on the ride. Next year, though, I'm thinking superheroine.

********************************

I've still got plenty of 2013 left in which to complete a metric century. The Rapha Women's 100 looks interesting, especially since it's a thing where everyone rides on the same day rather than a big group event with a set course, and once I'm done with the 50-mile Tour de Cure next month, I may start planning for that. In between a few short tours, that is, because I am super-excited about putting my rack back on my bike and heading off for more bike camping.
rhiannonstone: (Default)
After weeks of unusually persistent rain and chill the weather has once again started delivering the gorgeous crisp sunny days it's supposed to this time of year. Perfect bike-riding days! Except that I am STILL sick, and dealing with vicious cramps, to boot. I'm trying not to be all whiny about it, but it's haaaaard.

I'd started feeling a lot better last week, and was well enough to go out over the weekend and again Monday night, though I was still coughing a bit and never quite got to 100% better. Wednesday morning I woke up feeling most unwell again, and I've been down since. I did go to the doctor yesterday, and she ruled out strep, flu, and bronchial woes, and says it's likely just a very stubborn cold virus and/or a sinus infection. I've got antibiotics for the sinusitis (since it's recurred so soon, it's a safe bet it's bacterial) and codeine for the coughing, and I'm resting as much as I can.

I guess it works out that the vicious cramps have come while I'm already curled up on the couch and can get all the misery out of the way at once, but damn. I'm glad regular exercise over the past year has made my cycle more regular again, but I could really do without two days a month of feeling like I'm being repeatedly kicked in the abdomen. (I am so, so sorry for quietly doubting people who claimed their cramps were debilitating back when I didn't get them. If you believe in karma, you can count this as my punishment.)

The upside of all this enforced downtime is that I'm getting to do the things I often have a hard time letting myself indulge in, either out of weird guilt (I should be doing something productive! Or training for the next ride!) or simple inertia: reading, writing, and playing video games. It feels nice to be away from screens for awhile each day--or at least doing something brain-stimulating in front of them like reading, puzzle-solving, and kicking bad guy ass.
rhiannonstone: (body)
Various virii have been knocking over my friends and loved ones left and right, so it was inevitable I'd eventually get hit, too. Monday night I was feeling a bit out of it, and I woke up Tuesday with full-blown ick. I thought it was just a head cold at first, but then the fever and achiness and chills soon joined forces with the sneezing, hacking, and snorfling to knock me flat. I've pretty much just been camped out on the couch for the past 3 days, half-watching Daria and Avengers prequels between naps and forcing myself to eat soup and drink juice. I don't have much of an appetite when I can't breathe well.

I started getting a little energy back today, so I got some groceries delivered (hooray for TaskRabbit!) and made a pot of chicken and stars with enough garlic to keep Sunnydale vamp-free for years. It was awesome. I ate three bowls, and then made some bittersweet chocolate ganache which I had over a huge bowl of ice cream. I guess I'm starting to get better.

*******************************


Making the ganache I thought, Man, if I'd known how easy this was as a kid I'd have gotten fat a lot earlier than I did. But thinking about it more, I'm not so sure. The poor eating habits that contributed to my weight gain in early adulthood can all be traced back to thoughtlessness--eating what was put in front of me because that's just what you do, eating out of boredom or sadness or social obligation, eating junky convenience foods because they were what was at hand--and I think being actively involved in the preparation of what I'm eating makes me more mindful about it, and therefore less likely to reflexively make poor choices. Not that I don't still make poor choices these days, but they're few and far between, and almost always involve grabbing something packaged or pre-made to quickly satisfy a craving. And when I feel the desire to eat because I'm sad or bored, if I cook rather than just grabbing a convenience food the cooking process itself is generally enough to make me less sad or bored because I enjoy the creativity and craft of it so much. I still enjoy the hell out of food for sure, but it's a deliberate and mindful enjoyment. Those three bowls of soup tonight were on purpose, whereas the increasingly rare occasion of suddenly finding myself at the bottom of a bag of chips or on my fourth soda of the day never is.

*******************************

Things that have been keeping me from going insane with boredom:
rhiannonstone: (Default)
I really, really like this list of resolutions.

It's funny how we often cycle from doing something because it's just the thing everyone does, to scorning it because it's too mainstream or meaningless, and then coming back around to realizing that there's some use in it after all. This is me with new year resolutions. While they can be empty and silly, and I believe you should make change whenever you decide change needs to be made, I do find value in taking the calendar flip as an opportunity to set goals and make plans. Even though I accomplished some really cool things and had a lot of great experiences in 2012 I also spent much of it feeling aimless and unmotivated, and I know I will be happier and get more done with goals to help keep me focused this year.

Goals for 2013
  • Declutter. Organize, sell, donate, dispose of, or otherwise take care of at least two Units of Stuff a week until my living space is liveable again. Accept the fact that there are parts of my living space I have no control over.

  • Reach out more. Over the past couple years I've gotten a lot better about saying yes more and accepting more invitations, and now it's time to start making those invitations myself. I've been feeling pretty down about how challenging this is, because I'm not able to have people over often or host parties at all, and scheduling and logistics can be difficult in general. But even if I can't invite people over, I can and will find other ways to proactively reach out to the people I like and let them know I enjoy their company.

  • Take every opportunity to ride my bike. I have two specific bike-related goals as well--complete a metric century in April, and do more bike touring in the Summer and Fall--but over the past year, every single time I passed up the opportunity to ride my bike I regretted it. So even beyond training for the century and planning for tours, I will make a deliberate effort to say "Yes" every time I wonder if I should take the bike. Even in the rain and cold.

  • Take more photos, more mindfully.

  • Stretch more. Doing yoga and my PT stretches regularly keeps me pain-free, makes my knees happier, and makes me a lot more comfortable in my body. I slacked off both during the past few months and I've been feeling it, and getting back to it feels like starting from zero. I don't plan to get to a place where I have to start over again.

  • Write more (and LJ more).

  • Spend some time each day not staring at a screen. (Unless the screen is displaying a book, because I'd also like to read more).

  • Learn Spanish. The next two goals will be difficult without this. I've already signed up for a class at BCC, as my efforts to teach myself haven't been going well (I pick up languages quickly, but need the structure and motivation of a class).

  • Find a new job. I'd kinda been hoping that things at work would be stable enough that I could hang on to the reliable paycheck and flexible hours at least until starting grad school, but the paycheck is no longer reliable and the hours are only flexible until there is a crisis, and there's a crisis more often than not. So once the current one has passed, I'll be polishing my resume and starting the hunt.

  • Apply to grad school. I can't start grad school until I get in to grad school, which I can't do until I apply!
rhiannonstone: (bike)
Since I'm not entirely sure what I did to my wrist and the only thing I do that puts any strain on it other than working at the computer is cycling, I decided to get a professional bike fitting to make sure I'm not hurting myself while I'm riding. I'd actually been thinking about getting a professional fitting for awhile but have been really intimidated by the idea, since most shops that do fittings cater to cyclists who are in much better shape than me and have more expensive bikes and drastically different goals. But I was inspired to start researching earlier this week and happily discovered that a local bike shop I've always liked and felt comfortable at does fittings, and I made an appointment for a 2D fit for Friday.

It was nothing like I'd feared. The guy doing the fitting (who was also the shop owner) had a bunch of intimidatingly fancy equipment and absolutely knew his stuff, but he was also really down-to-earth and friendly, and seemed to genuinely care about making sure my special snowflake of a body was happy on my own beloved bicycle in the way that I like to ride it. He explained everything to me as we went along and was willing to answer the zillion questions I had about how and why and what-next, and I really appreciated that he respected my limits but still pushed back on the things I was resistant to but he thought was important. We also turned out to have friends-of-friends in common and a similar sense of humor, so it was actually fun. It was also long and kind of exhausting (like 2 hours of yoga and spinning, oof), but I learned a lot about my body and the bike.

According to the fitting I have great posture on and off the bike, and am quite symmetrical and square as far as bone structure goes, so there's nothing to correct for there. Thanks to my physical therapy exercises I'm surprisingly flexible along some axes given how un-flexible I am along others, but neither of these things work against me while I'm riding. I also apparently have unusually strong shoulders for a woman who doesn't lift or do lots of push-ups or pull-ups, which baffled the fitter, but I'm pretty sure carrying around these 40Gs for the past couple decades might have something to do with it. ;)

It was nice to know that I haven't been doing anything dangerously stupid to myself, but we still tried a bunch of different configurations to find just the right balance between comfort and efficiency. Ultimately we leveled my saddle and raised it by 4 centimeters, ordered some customizable insoles for my biking shoes to give my feet more support and more pedaling power, and set up drop bars to put me in a position where I'm slightly more efficient and my hands and wrists have several different options for positioning, which will make them much happier. It's all going to take a little getting used to--it must have been pretty amusing to watch me try to dismount before I remembered that my saddle had been raised!--but I'm excited, and looking forward to being more comfortable on long rides.

Guess I'll need to celebrate with a couple long rides! I'd been worried that I wouldn't be able to get in another overnight trip before the rains started, but the forecast for the next week or so is nothing but sunshine.
rhiannonstone: (Default)
When I lived alone I had a really hard time cooking for myself. Part of it was the atrocious state of the kitchen in the dilapidated Victorian I shared with a dozen other people, but mostly I just couldn't be bothered to go through the effort of shopping, prepping, cooking, and cleaning for just me. I still have this problem when Paul's out of town, though these days it's Indian takeout, baked potatoes, and fancy cheeses and olives rather than the pizza delivery, pudding cups, and frozen dinners I used to subsist on.

Paul's been out of town for a few days now, and yesterday I decided I was done with takeout and made a pot of butternut squash soup and a big salad for dinner, and a pumpkin stuffed with all the things for lunch for the next couple days. Much better than even the tastiest takeout, and a nice reminder that I am absolutely worth cooking great food for, even when it's just me. Plus it's enough food that I won't have to cook again until he's back, so it's the best of both worlds. ;)

Speaking of pumpkins, I've come to the very sad realization that I won't be able to carve one this year. I've been having some trouble with my right wrist for the past couple weeks, and while it's been getting steadily better, cutting the top off the tiny little sugar pie pumpkin I stuffed was almost too much for me. There's no way I could slice, scoop, and carve a larger pumpkin without setting back my healing time significantly. This is my sadface! If you're carving pumpkins for Halloween this year, please share photos so I can enjoy pretty pumpkins vicariously.

Also speaking of pumpkins, I was complaining to [personal profile] regyt last weekend that I can never seem to get roasted pumpkin seeds right, and don't know what I'm doing wrong. This most recent batch--from a friend's tried-and-true recipe--was pretty disappointing, and I think I've finally figured out the problem: I'm not doing anything wrong, I just don't like roasted pumpkin seeds very much.
rhiannonstone: (bike)
When I was little I dreamed of bike touring. I didn't know that's what it was called, or even that it was an actual thing that people actually did. I just knew that I saw these mysterious little signs on the road during trips to see [profile] xandyssin, and the idea of hopping on my bike and following those signs all day sounded marvelous. I used to sit on my bedroom floor with my NC road map spread out in front of me and try to trace the routes I wanted to take, mapping out how I'd get there from home or Dad's and how I'd get back.

I never thought much about the logistics of it--how I'd carry my stuff, where I'd sleep, how long it might take--because it was just an idle fantasy, not something I thought I'd ever be able to actually do. Once I outgrew my childhood bike and left home I pretty much forgot about it.

Then a couple years ago I started cycling and absolutely fell in love with it, and suddenly I started dreaming of touring again. Sometime near the end of last year I started reading touring forums obsessively, and thinking that once I became a stronger rider, I'd start planning one- and two-night bike trips. A few months ago I realized that doing the sort of rides I am motivated to do is exactly what will make me a stronger rider, and started planning for real. And early Saturday afternoon I took off for my first overnight bike adventure.



The plan: Leave from Embarcadero BART around midday, ride to and over the Golden Gate Bridge, then head ~30 miles north to Samuel P. Taylor State Park to enjoy the scenery, camp overnight, then return the next day the same way. It was a solo trip, partly because I wanted to work out any awkward navigation or loaded bike handling issues on my own, and partly because I've been needing a bit of a retreat and this sounded like the perfect way to get it.

I got a much later start than planned since breakfast with Paul and a visiting friend took longer than usual, and then getting to the bridge took a ridiculous amount of time because tourists on rental bikes. After that, though, the ride up was mostly very pleasant. I was surprised by how much of it was on bike paths and well-marked bike routes. I was using a route I'd created on Open Street Maps and loaded onto my Garmin for navigation and that worked really well, but it doesn't recalculate for the many detours there were. I had my phone, of course, but the bike route signs kept me from having to consult it much. I wasn't sure how much my gear would slow me down, but I was able to keep up a decent pace, at least on the flats. Climbing the hills was of course much slower and harder, but even they weren't that bad until the end.

The worst part of the ride--of the whole weekend--was White's Hill on Sir Francis Drake Blvd, about 8 miles from the park. It's a short, steep climb that would have been challenging for me under normal circumstances, but with 20 pounds of gear strapped to my bike, at the end of a long day and right after another long, steady, draining climb, felt nearly impossible. I had to stop a lot, and I walked the steepest parts. Knowing how long it was taking me to travel a single mile, and how little daylight I had left, was really disheartening. There was a bit of a fun descent after I reached the top, though, and then I shifted into the big ring and booked it toward Lagunitas, where I planned to stop at the last little store before the park for water and dinner supplies.

It was, of course, closed. D'oh. Thankfully there was an Indian restaurant nearby that was still open, so I bought water, soda, and dinner there. The food was meh but it was fuel, and I foraged some blackberries from the roadside for dessert.

I finally made it to the campground just before sunset. The ride through the redwoods in the twilight was stunning, and mostly melted away the frustration of the hill ordeal. I stopped at the ranger station and asked if there was any space left at the hiker-biker site and the ranger said, "Technically no, but I'll let you in anyway. That'll be $5, please." I love state parks.



I had just enough time to claim a rough, uneven little spot and set up my tent before it got fully dark. A couple of the other bike campers stopped by to ask if I needed any help and remind me to lock up my food to keep the raccoons away, but after that I had the evening to myself. Well, once I shooed the two GIANT FREAKING RACCOONS away from my bike, where they were trying their best to get to the empty food bar wrapper I'd accidentally left in my top tube bag.

I was really happy with all my gear. My tent sets up in minutes and is exactly the perfect size for me and my stuff, and my sleeping bag and sleeping pad were quite comfortable and warm--even with a minor zipper malfunction. Having both my lantern and headlamp as well as my bike headlight for light was useful, and I love how my white tent amplifies the light. The backup battery I brought was perfect for keeping my phone charged through two full days of heavy use, though I wish I'd brought the cable that would have let me charge my Garmin, too. And little stuff like the headband I wore around my wrist to wipe the sweat and dirt from my eyes, the insulated Klean Kanteen that kept my iced coffee cold and my chicken biryani warm, and the comfortable technical shirt I wore instead of a bike jersey were really nice to have. I packed pretty well, too: I was aiming for 15 lbs. of gear, allowing for 30, and ended up with 20. Other than my camera and first aid/emergency kit I didn't pack a single thing I didn't use--and I wish I'd used my camera. I really should have brought an extra pair of bike shorts, though, and more food, and maybe my camp stove. Sunglasses would have been great, too--riding into the setting sun on Saturday and then into the rising sun on Sunday was kinda rough. I've been putting off ordering the nice prescription sport sunglasses I want because they're so expensive, but I think protecting my eyes is definitely worth it.

In the morning I packed up and headed out early enough that I'd have time to enjoy the scenery I wasn't able to on the way there, and make any stops I wanted to. The Lagunitas Grocery & Deli was open so I had a leisurely breakfast in the sunshine there, and 10 miles later I stopped for coffee at a little Java Hut in Fairfax that's such a popular stop for cyclists that they have nice pumps leashed to the benches and the gaggle of young, giggly baristas seemed to know many of the cyclists by name, even the ones who weren't local. I chatted with a bunch of other riders, including couple of French roadies who invited me to join their ride up to Point Reyes and reminded me that "There is no bike ride without coffee."

I was having an issue with my bike shorts that was starting to make riding unpleasant, so instead of riding all the way back to the bridge I stopped in Larkspur and took the ferry back to SF. I love ferries, so it was a nice way to end my adventure.

Next time--there is definitely going to be a next time!--I will leave earlier, bring more food and extra bike shorts, and either take a different route to get to the bridge or just skip it and take the ferry from SF to Sausalito and start there if I'm heading north again. And I might consider reserving an actual campsite rather than taking a spot in the hiker-biker camp, since that way I'll get a flat piece of ground and my very own table, firepit, and raccoon locker. :)
rhiannonstone: (bike)
When I was little I dreamed of bike touring. I didn't know that's what it was called, or even that it was an actual thing that people actually did. I just knew that I saw these mysterious little signs on the road during trips to see [livejournal.com profile] xandyssin, and the idea of hopping on my bike and following those signs all day sounded marvelous. I used to sit on my bedroom floor with my NC road map spread out in front of me and try to trace the routes I wanted to take, mapping out how I'd get there from home or Dad's and how I'd get back.

I never thought much about the logistics of it--how I'd carry my stuff, where I'd sleep, how long it might take--because it was just an idle fantasy, not something I thought I'd ever be able to actually do. Once I outgrew my childhood bike and left home I pretty much forgot about it.

Then a couple years ago I started cycling and absolutely fell in love with it, and suddenly I started dreaming of touring again. Sometime near the end of last year I started reading touring forums obsessively, and thinking that once I became a stronger rider, I'd start planning one- and two-night bike trips. A few months ago I realized that doing the sort of rides I am motivated to do is exactly what will make me a stronger rider, and started planning for real. And early Saturday afternoon I took off for my first overnight bike adventure.



The plan: Leave from Embarcadero BART around midday, ride to and over the Golden Gate Bridge, then head ~30 miles north to Samuel P. Taylor State Park to enjoy the scenery, camp overnight, then return the next day the same way. It was a solo trip, partly because I wanted to work out any awkward navigation or loaded bike handling issues on my own, and partly because I've been needing a bit of a retreat and this sounded like the perfect way to get it.

I got a much later start than planned since breakfast with Paul and a visiting friend took longer than usual, and then getting to the bridge took a ridiculous amount of time because tourists on rental bikes. After that, though, the ride up was mostly very pleasant. I was surprised by how much of it was on bike paths and well-marked bike routes. I was using a route I'd created on Open Street Maps and loaded onto my Garmin for navigation and that worked really well, but it doesn't recalculate for the many detours there were. I had my phone, of course, but the bike route signs kept me from having to consult it much. I wasn't sure how much my gear would slow me down, but I was able to keep up a decent pace, at least on the flats. Climbing the hills was of course much slower and harder, but even they weren't that bad until the end.

The worst part of the ride--of the whole weekend--was White's Hill on Sir Francis Drake Blvd, about 8 miles from the park. It's a short, steep climb that would have been challenging for me under normal circumstances, but with 20 pounds of gear strapped to my bike, at the end of a long day and right after another long, steady, draining climb, felt nearly impossible. I had to stop a lot, and I walked the steepest parts. Knowing how long it was taking me to travel a single mile, and how little daylight I had left, was really disheartening. There was a bit of a fun descent after I reached the top, though, and then I shifted into the big ring and booked it toward Lagunitas, where I planned to stop at the last little store before the park for water and dinner supplies.

It was, of course, closed. D'oh. Thankfully there was an Indian restaurant nearby that was still open, so I bought water, soda, and dinner there. The food was meh but it was fuel, and I foraged some blackberries from the roadside for dessert.

I finally made it to the campground just before sunset. The ride through the redwoods in the twilight was stunning, and mostly melted away the frustration of the hill ordeal. I stopped at the ranger station and asked if there was any space left at the hiker-biker site and the ranger said, "Technically no, but I'll let you in anyway. That'll be $5, please." I love state parks.



I had just enough time to claim a rough, uneven little spot and set up my tent before it got fully dark. A couple of the other bike campers stopped by to ask if I needed any help and remind me to lock up my food to keep the raccoons away, but after that I had the evening to myself. Well, once I shooed the two GIANT FREAKING RACCOONS away from my bike, where they were trying their best to get to the empty food bar wrapper I'd accidentally left in my top tube bag.

I was really happy with all my gear. My tent sets up in minutes and is exactly the perfect size for me and my stuff, and my sleeping bag and sleeping pad were quite comfortable and warm--even with a minor zipper malfunction. Having both my lantern and headlamp as well as my bike headlight for light was useful, and I love how my white tent amplifies the light. The backup battery I brought was perfect for keeping my phone charged through two full days of heavy use, though I wish I'd brought the cable that would have let me charge my Garmin, too. And little stuff like the headband I wore around my wrist to wipe the sweat and dirt from my eyes, the insulated Klean Kanteen that kept my iced coffee cold and my chicken biryani warm, and the comfortable technical shirt I wore instead of a bike jersey were really nice to have. I packed pretty well, too: I was aiming for 15 lbs. of gear, allowing for 30, and ended up with 20. Other than my camera and first aid/emergency kit I didn't pack a single thing I didn't use--and I wish I'd used my camera. I really should have brought an extra pair of bike shorts, though, and more food, and maybe my camp stove. Sunglasses would have been great, too--riding into the setting sun on Saturday and then into the rising sun on Sunday was kinda rough. I've been putting off ordering the nice prescription sport sunglasses I want because they're so expensive, but I think protecting my eyes is definitely worth it.

In the morning I packed up and headed out early enough that I'd have time to enjoy the scenery I wasn't able to on the way there, and make any stops I wanted to. The Lagunitas Grocery & Deli was open so I had a leisurely breakfast in the sunshine there, and 10 miles later I stopped for coffee at a little Java Hut in Fairfax that's such a popular stop for cyclists that they have nice pumps leashed to the benches and the gaggle of young, giggly baristas seemed to know many of the cyclists by name, even the ones who weren't local. I chatted with a bunch of other riders, including couple of French roadies who invited me to join their ride up to Point Reyes and reminded me that "There is no bike ride without coffee."

I was having an issue with my bike shorts that was starting to make riding unpleasant, so instead of riding all the way back to the bridge I stopped in Larkspur and took the ferry back to SF. I love ferries, so it was a nice way to end my adventure.

Next time--there is definitely going to be a next time!--I will leave earlier, bring more food and extra bike shorts, and either take a different route to get to the bridge or just skip it and take the ferry from SF to Sausalito and start there if I'm heading north again. And I might consider reserving an actual campsite rather than taking a spot in the hiker-biker camp, since that way I'll get a flat piece of ground and my very own table, firepit, and raccoon locker. :)
rhiannonstone: (Default)
SpaceX's successful launch of the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station is by far the coolest and most exciting thing I've read in weeks. The next handful of major advances in space travel are surely going to be made by privately-owned ventures like SpaceX, and it's easy to see a path--a long path, and probably an expensive and chaotic one, but a viable path all the same--from this morning's launch to private commercial space travel within my lifetime. That is so cool.

Updates in realtime at the Mission Status Center.

More cool stuff:
rhiannonstone: (bike)
Sunday I rode 50 miles for the Napa Valley Tour de Cure. It's the longest ride I've ever done, and probably also the hardest, though it feels weird to say that right now when I'm feeling so great. I was expecting to be wrecked for days, but I woke up the next day feeling surprisingly okay. A little stiff and achy, but my PT stretches took care of a lot of that, and an amazing intense deep-tissue massage at Spa Villagio too care of most of the rest. Today I'm still feeling pretty good--my most notable sore bits are actually from the massage and yesterday's long trek home, not the ride.

It was definitely a very challenging ride, though. I was most worried about the heat, and it did suck, even with an early morning start and being vigilant about staying hydrated. By midday I'd unzipped my jersey all the way and was seriously considering taking it off and riding in just my sports bra and shorts, and sheer vanity (which I don't usually have on the bike, but there were too many cameras around) is the only thing that stopped me.

I hadn't been too worried about the hills, so I wasn't fully prepared for ~20 miles of rolling terrain. The upside: I didn't have a chance to psych myself out. The downside: every time I thought, "Surely this is the last climb!" there was another.

There were also long stretches of crappy pavement that made me fear for my rims and my wrists, killer headwinds that made the last 4 miles feel harder than the first 40, and the unfortunate and uncomfortable discovery that the padding on my fanciest and most expensive bike shorts bunch up and chafe most unpleasantly after about 20 miles. I ate well and frequently enough, but there were a couple times where I needed fuel but the thought of anything on my stomach made me want to puke, so I just chewed some Sport Beans and spit them out in hopes that I could trick my body into continuing until I could handle eating again.

But overall it was a great ride. Lots of gorgeous scenery, and it was fun to pass the wineries I've visited with friends and family and remember the great times we had. Even though I was slow up the hills, I got to spend a good deal of time going very fast on the descents and flats. My new bike performed beautifully. The rest stops were pretty well-stocked (one even had Dr Pepper!) and they helped a lot--not just having an opportunity to refill my water bottles and replenish calories, but also a getting the chance to get off the bike, stretch my legs, and rest a bit, just like I do on my solo rides. And at the end I'd ridden 50 miles! And it didn't suck! And I would totally do it again!

I rolled into the finish shortly after [personal profile] gayathri and [profile] llamaeyes, and we didn't have to wait long to cheer [profile] byronium on as he finished the 100-mile ride, which still blows my mind. I am so proud of all of us! And grateful to everyone who offered their support, in the form of donations and cards and texts and other well-wishes. Cycling is a very personal, self-centered activity, which is one of the reasons I love it, but it's still very nice to know my loved ones are rooting for my success.

After a little rest and the best shower I've ever had, we all met at Hurley's for a very tasty recovery dinner (Cocktails! Pasta! Wine! Steak!), and then I went back to my hotel. I'd thought I might go for a swim, or hang out in the bar, or even find some trouble to get into in town, but while I was thinking about it I promptly fell asleep sitting up, with my laptop in my lap and a water bottle in my hand. It was a very good sleep.

******************************

What's the next challenge? As far as organized events go, the Gran Fondo is coming up in September and I want to kick last-year-me's ass on the Piccolo and finish it faster and stronger, and I think maybe I'd like to try for a metric century (100 km/~62 mi) sometime next year. Maybe. I've got my heart set on bike touring, though, so my main goal is to ride from home to Point Reyes for an overnight trip by my next birthday, so I'm going to keep riding until that seems doable and then do it.
rhiannonstone: (body)
The appointment with the sports doc went just fine. He was kind, helpful, and efficient, and didn't say a single word about my weight. Dr. Fancypants' diagnosis of my knee issue is patellofemoral sysndome, specifically chrondomalicia patellae. Also known as Runner's Knee (and please excuse me for a moment while I fall out laughing that I have something called Runner's Knee hahahahahaha), it's when the patella stops tracking properly in the femoral groove and starts wearing away at the protective cartilage beneath, causing a loud crackle-and-pop when I bend my knee and the feeling that there is sandpaper beneath my kneecaps, as well as some related front and side knee pain. Patellar mis-tracking can happen for a bunch of different reasons, but is apparently very common in women, as our wider hips mean the angle where the femur and tibia come together tends to be greater than men's, often leading to imablanced strength in our quadriceps, the muscle group attached to the tendon responsible for knee movement.

It can't be cured--that cartilage does not grow back--but it can be treated with exercises that strengthen the quads and other muscles to help maintain proper alignment, so I've got a prescription for physical therapy. Most likely just a few sessions so I can learn the exercises well enough to do them at home. If I don't see any improvement after that, the next step would be injections of hyaluronic acid, which basically acts as knee lube, but Dr. Fancypants thinks that probably won't be necessary for me since I am "still young and highly functional."

And the best part is that he encouraged me to keep cycling as much as I want, because it's great for the quads and nice to the knees as long as I maintain proper form. The only thing I really have to avoid is prolonged direct pressure on the kneecaps (so no kneeling on hard surfaces for very long--I'll need to get some cushions for yoga) and activities like leg lifts that push the knee in the wrong direction.
rhiannonstone: (Default)
I had a post-in-progress that started off wondering how March is almost over already--and of course now we're more than halfway through April, and I have no idea how. I have got to stop letting time slip through my fingers like this. It's not like I'm not having novel experiences or making full use of my time, it's just that I don't give myself much time to sit down and process. So one day it's the end of March and then life happens and the next time I sit down to write it's already mid-April.

*******************************

March was a very rollercoastery month. It started off with an awesome birthday, which involved an extended week of celebrations with friends and loved ones and culminated with a wonderful oceanside BBQ at Crissy Field with stunningly gorgeous weather where I got all my (local) people together in the same place for the first time ever, and nothing went horribly wrong. We feasted on crab and oysters and other delicious noms, and played in the sunshine, and just generally had a blast.

And I got a new bike! Not for my birthday, it's something I'd been thinking about and researching for awhile. My first big-girl bike served me very well, but after spending more and more time riding it became clear that I needed something better geared (literally and figuratively) for long, often hilly road rides and better fit to my body. I did a bunch of reasearch and test riding and eventually settled on a Jamis Coda Comp Femme. She is purple and beautiful and, especially now that I've swapped out the handlebars, grips, saddle, and pedals for ones that work better for me, I love her. Her name is Leela--not after Turanga Leela, though it's fitting, but after the 4th Doctor's companion, and the Sanskrit word for "divine play."

The day after I brought her home, it started raining. And raining. And raining. In March! It's not supposed to rain here in March! It was frustrating not being able to ride my shiny new bike, especially since I'm training for a 50-mile ride in early May. When the rain showed no signs of letting up I ordered a bunch of rain gear, found out some of it sucked (rain capes are a great idea in theory, but in practice they are essentially water-collecting wind-resistance-increasing sails), ordered some more, and made myself do a few wet rides. In light rains it's no problem--it's actually kinda fun, once I got used to the reduced braking power, and I barely even need the waterproof outerwear--but in heavy downpours it's just miserable. I'm glad I've got a good rain jacket, helmet cover, and rain pants now, but I'm hoping I don't have to use them much.

Life on the bike has been almost entirely about training lately--racking up miles and saddle time, working on my form, trying to get to the point where riding 50 miles in a reasonable amount of time seems like a doable thing. I'm definitely getting there, despite the obstacles the universe keeps presenting me: the rain, knee problems, and a crash weekend before last. The rain seems to have finally stopped, I'm getting the knee problems under control with proper cycling form and lots of ice (and I have an appointment with a sports doc next week), and the crash was not nearly as bad as it could have been. I still don't know exactly what happened (and I hate that part), but I discovered that I'd stocked my first-aid kit well, and both the bike and I escaped with only minor cosmetic damages. There will be scars, but chicks dig scars, right?

I had some more work done on my tattoo, but it didn't go very well. The plan had been to finish coloring the bunny-and-flowers entirely and maybe start outlining the rest of the piece, but due to various factors I was extra-bleedy, which made it difficult for the artist to work, so we stopped after an hour and a half. I didn't mind so much, because it was also extra-painful. The next session, just last weekend, went much better--no crazy bleeding, much more bearable pain, and now the bunny is completely finished! I have the next session scheduled for after the Tour de Cure, so I don't have to factor healing time into the rest of my training, and I can't wait to see the rest of it start to take shape.

Work has been alternately frustrating and gratifying, and I don't expect that to change anytime soon. I have come to accept that the nature of the beast that is our small, dysfunctional company is a chaotic one, and I can work with that for now. Esepcially when I get to work with it in my pajamas at home most days.

My personal life has been equally chaotic, but I'm feeling a little less Zen about that.

*******************************

So far April's been a rollercoaster ride, too. I'm trying to remember to hang on loosely and relax into the curves.
rhiannonstone: (bike)
I haven't written much about biking for awhile. I've still been riding lots and mostly loving it, but I also had a couple particularly challenging rides that left me feeling pretty down and wondering why on earth I ever thought I could do it, and it took me awhile to crawl out of the hole and to feel okay talking about it. I had about a month of nonstop bike anxiety dreams: getting hopelessly lost without a map, phone, or friend; my tires disintegrating or splitting open, my wheels falling off, my brakes failing; and worst of all, waking up on the morning of a big important ride to discover that my bike had been replaced with something I had no idea how to ride.

And yet somewhere in there I signed up for the October 1 Levi's GranFondo, a popular event in the Sonoma Valley that [profile] byronium and [personal profile] gayathri had done last year and sounded like a fun challenge. I'd been thinking about it for awhile and had actually decided not to do it for various reasons, the main one being that the moral support I knew I'd need wasn't going to be available to me. But then Valerie decided to go, and knowing that I'd have a friend of similar skill and fitness level to leapfrog up the hills with made it pretty easy for her to talk me into it, too. We both signed up for the shortest route, the 31mi/50km Piccolo Fondo, but it was still going to be the longest ride I'd ever done, and with a pretty significant climb, so I was both really nervous and really excited about it (but mostly really nervous).

******************************

We all went up for a practice ride the last weekend in August, and it kicked my ass, hard. Struggling-not-to-pass-out, this-close-to-sitting-on-the-side-of-the-road-crying hard. This did not help my confidence level. On one hand it was nice to know that I could at least complete the route, even if it took me 6+ hours and made me feel like ass, but on the other, I wasn't sure I actually wanted to if it was going to feel that bad, or if I'd be able train enough before the real thing to make it easier on my body and a less unpleasant experience overall.

I didn't get in nearly as much training as I wanted to or should have, of course. I did a few short, intense bursts of hill training in my neighborhood, and I got in a few longer, easier rides to try to help build my confidence back up, but I still felt woefully unprepared and like I'd bitten off way more than I could bike. It wasn't until the weekend just before the 'Fondo, when I did an amazingly beautiful and exhilarating solo ride in the Berkeley/Oakland hills, that I really got my confidence back and fell back in love with being on the bike.

It's a good thing, too, because Valerie had been sick for a couple weeks, and the week before the GranFondo she let me know that she was neither well enough to ride nor well enough to come along to hang out and cheer us all on. I understood completely, but it left me on my own for both logistics and moral support, and if I'd still been as freaked out about the ride as I was just a couple weeks earlier, I'd have backed out of going. Instead I allowed myself a brief period of freaking out and feeling sorry for myself and then put on my big-girl panties and made the necessary arrangements to get me and my bike to and from Santa Rosa. Thank goodness for Paul, who immediately stepped up to offer whatever logistical support I needed. I ended up deciding to go up on my own Friday, but he picked me up on Saturday so I didn't have to deal with 4 hours of public transit after a 31-mile ride.

******************************

The bike+BART+bus trip to Santa Rosa was fairly pleasant, especially once I'd stopped worrying about my bike falling off the front of the bus (fucking bike racks, how do they work??). I got in a little later than I'd originally planned but still in time to meet Byron and Gayathri for a carbolicious dinner at a cute little Italian place with dishes named after famous cyclists. Afterward they were kind enough to take me to registration and drop me back at the hotel, where it finally sank in that holy shit this is happening tomorrow, and I started feeling really anxious again. I asked Byron if he had time to come by for a hug, which helped, gave my bike some last-minute love, and then went for a swim to try to calm my nerves and wear myself out enough to sleep. I had the pool entirely to myself and it was wonderful, but it didn't work. Well after I should have gone to bed, I tweeted "Can't sleep, hills will eat me."

But I did eventually sleep, and I woke up in time, and survived a really dumb no-lights ride in the morning darkness over to the start (thank goodness for all the other really dumb lightless cyclists doing the same thing--we made lots of noise for each other). By the time I got there my anxiety had turned mostly into excitement, though seeing the sea of 7,499 other riders was really intimidating. I gulped down a chocolate milk, wished Byron and Gayathri a good ride once they arrived, and took my place way, way behind them with the rest of the "Intermediate Beginners."

The ride itself was challenging. And awesome. Once I actually got moving (a mass start with that many other cyclists takes forever and is a hell of a thing to navigate) the first 13 miles or so were pure zoomy bliss. And there were tons of people lining the course with cowbells and signs and balloons cheering us all on! The first difficult bit was the long climb up Graton Road; it was tough and slow-going, but I'd made a friend of one of the other Intermediate Beginners and we kept each other company during rest breaks. Which were many and frequent and often involved most unladylike language (sorry, dude with the 10-year-old). Even so it was much easier for me than it had been on the practice run, and I made it to the rest stop at the turnaround point feeling pretty great. Flying back down Graton Road was lots of fun, and I did okay for the next few miles after that, but then I really started to lose steam and just like on the practice ride, the last 5 miles were the absolute worst. My body was Done. Cytomax and energy chews weren't helping. I wanted to pull over and fall over, but I knew that if I stopped I might not start again, so I didn't. I didn't think it was ever going to end, and when I finally crossed the finish line just 4.5 hours after I started the only thing that kept me from bursting into tears of relief and exhaustion was the fact that people were talking to me and congratulating me, and crying seemed like it might be rude. I had just enough energy left to park my bike and collect my complimentary plate of paella, and then I kind of collapsed onto the nearest empty bit of field, inhaled the paella, and just chilled and reveled in the fact that I fucking did it. And I totally wanna do it again next year. :D
rhiannonstone: (bike)
The ride last weekend was awesome! It was still pretty challenging, but it was an infinitely better experience than the previous week's practice ride, and I felt fantastic afterward. It certainly helped that I didn't fall off the bike beforehand this time.

The hills were pretty rough, but I managed them. There was a bit of a break after the first climb (which I had to stop and rest in the middle of) as the route descended onto the Sawyer Camp Trail, a scenic recreational path that winds around the Crystal Springs Reservoir, and during that part of the ride I was surprised to find a moment of the same blissful, zenlike feeling I enjoy on my less-challenging weekend rides along the Bay: fully present, not thinking about what I'd done or what was coming, just moving forward through the beautiful terrain and enjoying the feeling of flying under my own power. That moment only lasted until I saw the next hill looming, but it was a nice reminder of why I was on the bike doing this crazy thing in the first place: because it's fun.

The next couple of hills were very slow going--I was moving at about the same speed of the people who were walking their bikes in front of me--and the last one was especially frustrating because I'd completely forgotten about it and had already taken myself out of the "kill the hills!" headspace. But I tackled each of them without stopping, and the reward was a thrilling descent through residential Millbrae that had me shouting "Wheeee!" I even let off the brakes a little for some of it. :)

The rest of the ride was easy going, and I found the big ring and a good cadence and spent the last 5 miles or so joyfully zooming along right behind Valerie at an average of 15mph, which is well over my previous top speed in the flats. When we crossed the finish line I was almost--almost!--ready to go again. Instead Valerie and I waited for [profile] byronium and [personal profile] gayathri so we could cheer for them as they crossed the finish line, and then we had a nice recovery picnic with fruits and cheeses and salty things and hung out with [personal profile] princeofwands and [personal profile] karenbynight and their crew for a bit before it was time to part ways. I felt great for the rest of the day, and was barely even sore the next.

I can't imagine having done this without the support and encouragement of my amazing friends.

rhiannonstone: (bike)
Last Sunday morning I met up with [profile] byronium, [personal profile] gayathri, Valerie, [personal profile] princeofwands, and JG to scope out next week's Tour de Peninsula route. It was my first ride of that length and it was a pretty difficult one for me--especially after I had a spectacular spill before it even started.

Only I would crash and end up bloody and with the wind knocked out of me before a ride. And then get back up and ride over 20 miles anyway. After helping me tend to my wounds after the crash, Byron asked me if I felt okay to ride after the crash and I told him I'd feel worse if I didn't. I know now that that was the right thing to do, but I wasn't so sure by the end of the day on Sunday. It was a harder blow to my body and confidence than I'd realized, and I didn't quite recover. Having to navigate some truly terrifying traffic right at the beginning, and then encountering an unexpectedly steep and lengthy climb after that, didn't help. I couldn't catch my breath, I couldn't stop panicking, and I spent the first 13 miles or so really upset but determined to keep going no matter what. My wonderfully supportive friends kept checking in on me to make sure I was okay and ask me what I needed, and I didn't know how to answer them because I didn't know if I was okay, or what I needed other than their support, plenty of water and energy noms, and my own stubbornness, all of which I had. The last 7 miles were much easier, even with a little unexpected off-roading, so I was finally able to calm down, but I still wasn't sure how I was going to make it to the end.

But, somehow, I did! And I hurt like a motherfucker for days, and still have what can only be described as some gnarly road rash. And for some crazy reason, I'm doing it again tomorrow. I'm really nervous about the hills, and about being the slowest person there, and about the dynamics of riding in a large group, and about a million other little things, but I am at least comforted by the fact that it can't possibly be any worse than last weekend.
rhiannonstone: (bike)
An article I read as a preteen in Seventeen welcomed girls who'd just gotten their driver's license to the "Sisterhood of the Sunburnt Left Elbow." I haven't been a member of that particular sorority for awhile now, but my weekend bike rides have inducted me into the Sisterhood of the Sunburnt Knees.

I've been riding most weekends and loving it, more than I ever thought I would, and I thought I was going to love it a lot. I'm pretty pleased with the progress I've made from being a terrified n00b to looking forward to rides and being sad when I have to go somewhere without my bike, though I do feel like I still don't actually know what I'm doing. The folks on the forums say that no one really does for their first 500 miles in the saddle, and I only just hit my first 100(!) last week, but patience with myself while learning something new isn't my strong suit. :) This isn't to say that I haven't been learning some valuable lessons:
  • I learned that when a fellow cyclist mentions that there's going to be a headwind on the way back, they're not just making idle chat about the weather.

  • After my first spill, which happened because I was panicking about being sort of lost, I learned that even as freaked out as I was after such a confidence-shaking incident, I could still hop back on and ride another 8 miles and love it. And that I need to carry a first aid kit. (The Adventure Medical Kit Ultralight & Watertight 0.3-ounce one fits in a medium seat wedge bag with plenty of room to spare, BTW.)

  • One morning after picking my bike up from the shop I learned that one sugary doughnut does not cycling fuel make, and discovered what it was like to really bonk out--after one measly mile!

  • I've learned that riding in the proper gear, with my saddle at the right height, keeps my knees much happier.

  • I've learned that the all the hype about Brooks leather saddles is justified.

  • I've learned that I do not like chocolate-flavored energy gel.

  • I've learned that getting up the hill to my apartment makes me feel just as crappy whether I've been on a 10+-mile ride or am just biking home from the BART station--until I've recovered, and then it feels great because, dude! I got up the hill.
And tomorrow, I'm going to learn just how crazy I was to sign up for a 20-mile ride. My top distance so far is a little over 13 miles, and that was with a couple major rest stops, so I'm not sure what a full 20 miles is going to be like for me. The ride is next weekend (eek!), but tomorrow I'm doing a practice ride with [info]byronium, [info]gayathri, and a few other folks who are doing the same ride, so we'll see!

Profile

rhiannonstone: (Default)
rhiannonstone

March 2016

S M T W T F S
  12345
6789101112
131415161718 19
20212223242526
2728293031  

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 26th, 2017 12:50 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios