Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The final ride of 2013

This Sunday was my final ride for 2013.  It wasn’t anything fancy.  Just a 35-mile cruise from the house.  However, I’m still recovering from a pretty nasty cold so those 35-miles felt a lot longer than they should have.  I’ll be really happy when I’m fully recovered and I have my strength back.

It was another gorgeous but chilly day with the temperature hovering around 36 degrees as I rolled down the driveway.  No worries about the cold though.  That’s why I have a bag full of cold weather gear.  Of course, it would warm up before the ride ended so I was carefully dressed in layers.  I’ve got to say that putting on layer after layer of clothing just to ride a bike has its own twisted cool factor for me.

As I head down the street I realize I have no idea where I’m heading.  As I play through various options I noticed that I’m heading west so I stick with it and decide to head out towards Sebastopol.  Since it’s a quiet Sunday morning, I skip the bike path and stay on the surface streets as I roll out of town.

I ride through the community of Roseland, which is always a challenge for me.  You see, all along the main drag are these awesome Taqueria carts.  As you ride along your olfactory sense is overwhelmed by the cooking smells of chorizo, chicken, and beans. After riding through the heart of Roseland, I decided to give in to the smells and stop at the next Taqueria cart I saw.  You know what happened next?  That’s right!  After finally deciding to stop I did not see another cart.  Since I wasn’t about to turn around, I settled for a yummy chocolate GU (this is cycling-speak for barely tolerable chocolate flavored chemical mixture).

As I keep rolling, I’m having a blast making the ride up as I go.  As I approach each corner I have the same conversation with myself, which went something like,  “if you turned here you could go to . . .” Eventually, I ended up in Forestville where I stopped for a double espresso and simply enjoyed the morning.  After my little break, I decided on a route back and headed back to the house.

As I was riding, I couldn’t help but reflect back on 2013 from a cycling perspective.  It wasn’t a great year but it was bad either. I logged 700 more miles than 2012 with just under 3,500 miles total.  However, that’s still below the 4,000+ miles I would have preferred. 

I finally came to the conclusion most of 2013 was like Sunday’s ride – unfocused.  So, while I definitely logged a good number of miles, there doesn’t seem to be lot to show for it.  Don’t get me wrong - some of the rides were phenomenal and I enjoyed all of them but I didn’t set any goals or complete any really big rides.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I rode 100 miles or more in a single ride.  Yep, it’s time to bring some focus back into my cycling adventures.

That’s what 2014 will be all about.  Setting goals and staying focused.  I’m not talking goals that are so serious they take away the joy of riding.  I’m talking about goals that make me push myself just a bit, which is one of the things I really enjoy about cycling.

What does 2014 have in store.  Well, for starters I looking at really big local event in June.  I’m also making plans for a cycling adventure in late September.  Lastly, Sherry and I are traveling to France in July and I’m already looking for a place to rent bikes while I’m there.   Of course, with these adventures comes the need to properly train so there will be additional focus with all my rides.

These adventures should also generate some interesting stories and I look forward to sharing them with you.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

The 17-mile reminder

I can honestly say that I find myself feeling grateful and blessed for my life each and every day. In fact, it’s something that I am quite proud of and while I don’t try to preach to others, I do try to be a good role model. I try not to bitch about the little things or blow them out of proportion although I will admit that’s a little harder to do.

About 10-days ago I managed to catch the nasty cold that’s been moving through Sonoma County.  Sherry actually got it first so I guess I could blame her but the truth is I’m not looking for someone to blame.  The fact is you’re going to get sick from time to time so get over it.  I haven’t been sick in over 2-years so I really don’t have any complaints.  The biggest downside, besides not feeling great, was the lack of strength to run or ride. (I’m sure Sherry has whole different viewpoint on the downside of me being sick.)

I telling you all of this as the back story to my 17-mile ride on Christmas Day.  It was my first real motion in almost 2-weeks. It was also the longest 17-mile ride of my life and I was frigging exhausted when I got home.  Still, instead of focusing on how tired I felt during the ride, I found myself feeling grateful.

It actually started as I was getting ready to ride. It’s December 25th and I dressing to ride in 63 degree weather under a perfectly blue sky.  If you can’t be grateful for that than something’s really wrong. 

As I get the ride started I ride by one of our local hospitals and I notice the parking lot is completely full.  It’s hard for me to imagine what it must be like to spend Christmas in the hospital.  It’s actually a thought I can’t dwell on too long or it starts to make me very sad.  So, although I am hacking away like a 30-year smoker, I am at least on my bike, rolling down the road and enjoying a gorgeous day outside.

My next reminder of how great my life is right now happened as I passed a local movie theater and I realized that there are people working today. And what am I doing while they work? Playing on my bike. I spent the next several miles wondering why all the people who got so mad that Walmart, and other stores, opened on Thanksgiving are not just as upset that movie theaters are open on Christmas.

This went on for the rest of the ride.  I just couldn’t stop listing all the things I’m grateful for in my life.  I have an awesome wife who makes my world a better place by simply being herself. I’m in good health even though I have a cold at the moment. My career has been on a steady upward trajectory since I left high school.  And, to top it all off, I was just in Paris a mere 3-weeks ago and have a trip to France scheduled in July to watch a few stages of the Tour de France. I mean really! If I start to complain about anything in life, with the exception of traffic, I think someone bitch-slap the hell out of me.  I’m sure there’s no shortage of takers for that job.

As I’m typing this I am starting to feel normal again.  The cold is fading and my strength is returning.  I have a couple of days off from work and the weather is going to continue to be beautiful.  So, I’ll go for some rides, hang out in coffee shops, and hopefully spend a little time working on the book. 

Whatever I do you can bet I’ll be stopping from time to time to realize just how blessed I am.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Running in Paris

I decided to use our recent trip to Paris to try and jump start my running again.  I typically run more in the winter when it’s harder to find time to get on the bike.  So far this off-season I’ve plenty of opportunities to run I just haven’t had the motivation.  I figured that if the allure of passing world famous monuments didn’t get out on the road then nothing would.

As we were packing, I began to talk myself out of my own plan.  It can be very cold in Paris this time of year so I needed to pack a lot of running gear.  I started to tell myself that I was going to be walking everywhere and that would be enough.  I told myself that I was going to see the monuments anyway so running by them wasn’t necessary.  As the packing progressed, the running gear kept moving further and further away from the suitcase.

Then I remembered that I told some fellow runners at work that I would post GPS maps of where I ran.  Many of them have not been to Paris and they seemed thrilled with the idea.  In fact, they were much more excited about than I was.  For some reason I felt like I could not let them down and just like that all of the running gear was packed neatly into its own little corner of the suitcase.

Before I talk about the runs, I should also mentioned that I had not run in the last 4-5 weeks or so.  Also, what little running I have done this year has been sporadic. This means I know the runs will be slow and perhaps just a bit uncomfortable. 

Tuileries RunLouvre Museum – I started my running adventures with a 3.0 mile romp through the Tuileries Garden, around Place de la Concord, back through the garden and then pass the Louvre Museum.  I then crossed the Pont des Arts, which is a pedestrian bridge across the Seine, and back to our apartment.  While it was a challenging run physically (due to my lack of running), it was an amazing run in every other sense.  I mean hell, I was running in Paris!!!  How cool was that?

Notre Dame RunNotre Dame Cathedral – My second adventure was 3.3 miles along the Seine River and around Notre Dame.  Our apartment was very close to Notre Dame so I added the Ile Saint-Louis to the mix.  It was around 32 degrees so I started out cold but that quickly changed as I watch the run rise over the river.  I then stayed near the river for the rest of the run.  The biggest difference was that I started stopping to take pictures and to ask Parisians to snap a few shots of me as well.

Eifel Tower RunEiffel Tower – The third run was my favorite as I decided to include the Eiffel Tower.  The problem was that to run to the Eiffel Tower and back would be at least 5 miles and I wasn’t ready for that.  So, I get ready, grab my metro pass and take the metro to a station that’s near the Eiffel Tower and start my run from there.  I have to say that riding the metro in my running gear was a pretty interesting voyage but the run beneath the Eiffel Tower and the trip back along the Seine made it all worth it.

Here are a few pictures from each run as well.

IMG_1060   IMG_1068   IMG_1098

There you have it.  Three short runs in the City of Light that added a whole new element to the trip and you can bet my running shoes will be packed on our next visit.  In the meantime, I’ll just have find a different motivation to continue running now that I’m back home.