rhiannonstone: (the real me)
This, so very much:
We need to move away from this constant need of coming across as calm, cool and collected. We weren’t built to be calm, cool, and collected. If we were, it wouldn’t feel so fucking exhausting all the time. It would, you know, come naturally to us. You know what comes naturally to human beings though? Being open, being messy, being raw, being unfiltered, having lots of feelings. Why should we have to stifle our true nature? Let’s go after the things we want, let’s love each other brutally and honestly, and not worry about the consequences. Let’s release the feelings inside of us and let them land somewhere special. Otherwise, we might have a lifetime of longing in front of us.

—Ryan O’Connell, You Need To Go After The Things You Want
rhiannonstone: (bike)
I am way overdue on a writeup of last month's Tour de Cure. It was a good ride! I sort of met my goal of finishing faster than last year--my average speed and moving time was about the same, but my elapsed time was shorter--and I felt great afterward.

I'd been really worried about the heat, but it turned out to be a blissfully overcast day, with a few light rainshowers, even. The hills that had so surprised me last year were much more manageable, and while there were plenty of headwinds, there was nothing like last year's home-stretch slog. I rode most of the way with [livejournal.com profile] gayathri, and we met up with [livejournal.com profile] byronium where the final rest stop for his route and ours overlapped, so we all got to cross the finish line together.

The one thing that went wrong: I managed to forget my sports bra, and there was nowhere around that sold bras of any sort in my size, so I did the ride in the one bra I did have with me--a very pretty but not very supportive molded half-cup. It wasn't pleasant, but I survived. The bra did not. RIP, Curvy Kate Daily Boost! "Sports bra" is now at the top of every packing list ever.

Since I joined a team this year, I got to go chill in the team tent for awhile afterward. Team tents are awesome. [livejournal.com profile] llamaeyes, [livejournal.com profile] gayathri, and all the other Team Red volunteers did an excellent job making it a fun, comfortable, and welcoming place to recover. There was massage! And recovery beverages! And tasty things to nibble on so I didn't have to go wait in the food line! Thanks, Team Red.

And huge thanks to everyone who supported me through donations and encouraging words. My friends, family, and community are amazing! If you donated to me, keep an eye out for something in the mail in the next couple weeks (if I don't have your address, I'll be contacting you soon to get it).

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


Paul came up to Napa with me so we could spend the rest of the weekend winin' and dinin'. It started off poorly, with a dinner at Morimoto so comically bad I had to write a Yelp review, but the rest of it was great. A fantastic dinner at Bouchon Bistro, coffee and ridiculously decadent pastries at Bouchon Bakery, and (of course) a lovely meal at Ad Hoc. Clearly Thomas Keller holds the keys to our hearts. Or stomachs.
rhiannonstone: (Default)
I am way overdue on a writeup of last month's Tour de Cure. It was a good ride! I sort of met my goal of finishing faster than last year--my average speed and moving time was about the same, but my elapsed time was shorter--and I felt great afterward.

I'd been really worried about the heat, but it turned out to be a blissfully overcast day, with a few light rainshowers, even. The hills that had so surprised me last year were much more manageable, and while there were plenty of headwinds, there was nothing like last year's home-stretch slog. I rode most of the way with [personal profile] gayathri, and we met up with [profile] byronium where the final rest stop for his route and ours overlapped, so we all got to cross the finish line together.

The one thing that went wrong: I managed to forget my sports bra, and there was nowhere around that sold bras of any sort in my size, so I did the ride in the one bra I did have with me--a very pretty but not very supportive molded half-cup. It wasn't pleasant, but I survived. The bra did not. RIP, Curvy Kate Daily Boost! "Sports bra" is now at the top of every packing list ever.

Since I joined a team this year, I got to go chill in the team tent for awhile afterward. Team tents are awesome. [profile] llamaeyes, [personal profile] gayathri, and all the other Team Red volunteers did an excellent job making it a fun, comfortable, and welcoming place to recover. There was massage! And recovery beverages! And tasty things to nibble on so I didn't have to go wait in the food line! Thanks, Team Red.

And huge thanks to everyone who supported me through donations and encouraging words. My friends, family, and community are amazing! If you donated to me, keep an eye out for something in the mail in the next couple weeks (if I don't have your address, I'll be contacting you soon to get it).

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


Paul came up to Napa with me so we could spend the rest of the weekend winin' and dinin'. It started off poorly, with a dinner at Morimoto so comically bad I had to <a href="http://www.yelp.com/biz/mori
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: (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: (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: (Default)
Happy Thanksgiving!

In past years I've posted detailed lists of all the things, big and small, that I have to be thankful for. I've got a lot to be thankful for this year, too--a steady job and good health and lots of little luxuries--but now more than ever I am most grateful for the abundance of love and friendship in my life. Without that, nothing else I have would matter.

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

Still worried about getting the turkey just right? Tante Mary has the secret to save your Thanksgiving: just put the fucking turkey in the oven.


And more Thanksgiving food advice:
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!
rhiannonstone: (Default)
Also this weekend: [personal profile] joyce and [personal profile] madgenius came to visit! With their adorable plastic traveling companion, Bradley the dinosaur.


We got them for a whole 16 hours before they had to drive up north, but we made the most of it. There was epic catching-up, and we gave them one of our infamous whirlwind Berkeley food-and-drink tours: Thai food at Cha Am, ice cream at Ici, and good bourbon Chez Breadbox on Friday night, and then an early and alliterative Saturday morning with breakfast at Bette's, coffee at Blue Bottle, a Berkeley Bowl binge, and the Berkeley Farmers' Market--with bonus Pagan Pride Festival, for that authentic Berkeley experience!

My new camera, a Canon Powershot S95 (SO SHINY), arrived Friday, so I made Bradley sit for lots of test shots while I figured out how to use it. He was gracious about it, even when I made his ass look big.



rhiannonstone: (Default)
This weekend I went on my first big-girl bike ride! [profile] byronium and [personal profile] gayathri picked me up yesterday afternoon, and we met up with our friend V in Danville to go for a ride on the Iron Horse Trail. Which sounds totally badass, but is actually a very pleasant, flat, paved path through the suburban wilds of Contra Costa County.

Between crappy weather, being sick, and being busy, I hadn't taken my bike out in weeks, so I had some twitchiness and trepidation about a) riding with way more experienced people, b) embarrassing myself in front of my friends, c) sharing a path with other cyclists and pedestrians, and d) falling off/falling down/bonking out, but as usual, I was worried over nothing. My friends were patient and supportive, I managed to followed the rules and share the path like a good citizen, and I stayed on the bike and upright. Well, other than getting a little lightheaded and wobbly at the halfway point, but that was nothing that a short break sitting off to the side of the path with some water and Sport Beans couldn't fix. I ended up riding just over 6 miles, which is the longest distance I've covered by far. I feel like I probably could have done more if I'd been more willing to push my limits, but it seemed like a better idea to just nudge up against them a little for my first time out of the gate. And 6 miles is nothing to sneeze at. It's kind of strange to contemplate, actually, since most days I can barely walk a mile without being hobbled for the rest of the day. It's a novel experience for me to engage in physical activity covering a distance of multiple miles and still be functional.

I expected to be in a lot of pain today, but other than being quite saddlesore--OK, I give, it's probably time to get a new seat, or at least have someone show me how to adjust mine properly--and having a constant, keen awareness of my quads, I'm feeling pretty good. And ready to go do it again! That was way more fun than riding around the neighborhood, as pretty as north Berkeley is. Thanks to my favorite Tour de Cure riders for taking me out!

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