Sunday, August 31, 2008


We had good intentions to get up and ride Saturday morning. I suffered some sort of allergic reaction and was itching all night and a good part of Saturday. Kathy & I had the same thing for dinner -- oven baked chicken, mashed 'taters, and fried okra. Before you say "okra - YUCK" let me tell you that you don't know what you are missing. Fried okra cooked by someone who knows what they are doing is delicious. Not at all slimy like you find in stews. Mmmmmm. I ate more than my share. The only thing we had differently was that I had wine and she had vodka & pom juice. If I am allergic to wine the world will stop. So we think it was too much okra. Several doses of benadryl later I was itch free!

This morning I had no desire to ride. We had a long to-do list and I was focused on that. But we squooze into the spandex and filled up the water bottles and camelbacks and headed out. Only to stop 20 feet from the house because Kathy forgot her gloves. Gloves in hand -- literally -- we started out. We'd gone maybe 4 blocks when I grabbed the bite valve for my camelback only to have it accidentally pull off. Water streamed out dousing me and the bike. I yelled that I was stopping to Kathy, managed to unclip and get the bite valve back in. She couldn't figure what the heck I was saying "your bike valve came off??" We had a good laugh!

We just road in the neighborhood today -- a whopping 21.3 miles. Which is 21.3 miles more than I wanted to bike today, and the furthest I've biked to date!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Checking In

After our weekend rides, we had good intentions of getting up and stretching Monday morning. Apparently our bodies rebelled and decided they needed another hour of sleep. Kathy went to the gym on Tuesday but I did not -- my neck was giving me problems. Probably stemming from being to tense when riding. My shoulders start creeping up instead of staying nice and relaxed. Made it to the gym this morning though! It is so nice to go Tuesdays and Thursdays -- I think the folks at our gym are on a MWF schedule. Those days it's PACKED in the mornings with nearly every piece of cardio equipment in use. Except the two really old rowing machines in the corner.

We plan to ride both Saturday and Sunday this weekend...unless it's pouring rain. I'll try to figure out a route to give us about 25 miles on Saturday and 20 on Sunday. And if it pours rain, I swear that I will go to the gym!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Weekend Update

Total mileage ridden this weekend on roads with traffic and hills:

17 on Saturday
15 on Sunday

Kathy and Ron did 3 more miles Sunday through the Patuxent Refuge. I opted to attempt to breathe instead. It was humid today -- like breathing soup. I am very very glad we did our riding in the morning when it was cooler and not quite as humid.

We stocked up on nutrition bars at REI yesterday...and Kathy got a new camelback that comes in a backpack with all sorts of pockets. I also got a new helmet -- white with pink flowers on it! It occurred to me that the helmet I was currently using was the one I was in a bike accident with back in 2001. I should have replaced it then -- bad Julie.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Ron took pictures at the end of the ride today. Kathy's in the blue and I'm in the hot pink in case you can't tell with the helmets and glasses.

Road Kill Riding

There was no backing out this morning. Our friend Ron, who is also training for the Smart Ride, called around 8am to say he was up and ready to ride. I'd mapped out a route that was about 18.8 miles long. I say "about" because the end of the ride involves cutting through the HS parking lot, an apartment parking lot, and across a pedestrian bridge to get back to old Greenbelt. While I can cut through the parking lots in my car, getting it through the posts and onto the pedestrian bridge was going to take some really fancy maneuvering. My brother the Apache pilot probably had a better chance. So "approximately."

The fun begins as we head down Research Road to the Beltsville Agricultural Center, which we back up to. The nice part is the gate to Research is closed on weekends, so no cars are chasing you up or down that hill. The bad part is that the gate to Research is closed, involving a little off-roading (Ron's method) or limbo under the gate (Julie & Kathy's method). Then it's all downhill. Weeeeeee! Of course, that means that at some point there are hills to go back up. All I can say is thank goodness for multiple gears. Through a little mis-communication, Ron (in the lead) turned on a different road than I had mapped out. Good news -- it shaved about 2 miles off the ride! And I think a big hill or two that we would have had to ride up. Darn.

Ron waited for us at the HS parking lot -- he lives across the street and didn't need to follow us home only to turn around and bike back. Ron says he's out of shape, but that man can go! His legs powered him up hills with only a minimum of cursing. And gravity makes him whoosh like a rocket down the hills. I reached a max of 24 mph that I saw...sometimes I'm too afraid to look down at the speedometer. Hmmm...wonder why I don't have that problem in the car?

The first couple of miles I struggled and wondered if I was going to make it. My thighs were pretty stiff and uncooperative. But once I warmed up it was better. The challenge for me is eating enough. I am blessed with a fast metabolism. Kathy and Ron are not. (think molasses) I need to eat something about every couple of miles. I confess, I am not coordinated enough to eat while riding. I can drink water as we ride with camelbacks. I am impressed when I watch the Tour de France and see those cyclists whipping through the "feed" zone and getting their bags, rifling through to get what they want, eating, drinking without missing a beat.

Oh yeah -- the road kill part. We saw a dead raccoon, 2 dead squirrels, 2 dead little frogs and a dead praying mantis. What beautiful scenery, right? :-)

Oh and Val -- I kept reciting the name of your brother when I was struggling up some of those hills. He helped a lot.

To others reading -- if you have friends or loved ones with HIV or AIDS, tell me their names and I'll add them to my hill riding mantra. Believe me, it helps get me going...just a little boost of energy.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Covert Cats

Yesterday, Kathy and I successfully fended off an attempt by the cats to keep us in bed instead of trundling off to the gym. They both snuggled close and tried to convince us that sleeping in another hour would be much better for all of us. They even tried rubbing their "sleepy cat" scent on us and lulling us back to sleep with their calming purring. Although Madeline does sound like an outboard motor in need of an oil change....she kind of purrs then hiccups, then purrs some more.

We were strong and did not succumb to this blatant attempt to derail our training. No, we hauled our bodies over to the gym for 25 minutes of cardio on the cross-trainer (a new record for me!), torture on the "butt blaster" weight machine and finally some weight-machine crunchs. This time I did not do 40 pounds...just 30. I think the 40 pounds was a bit too much. It hurt to breathe. And pee. Both of which are important.

No workout today -- Kathy had fly to Boston on business. I'll see if I'm strong enough tomorrow (Friday, my day off from work) not to succumb to those cats and head to the gym on my own. I've also got to map out our bike rides for the weekend -- I don't trust mapquest. Follow them and I'd be off on a 30 mile ride instead of 20!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Conspiring Cats

Today was a gym morning and the alarm was set for 5:10am. At 4:58am, our other cat Madeline hopped up on my nightstand with a "mrowwww" and then proceeded to poke my face. Some may say she was hungry and needed to eat now, but I think she just wanted to help mommy get up and to the gym. So that Madeline could curl up on the bed and go back to sleep. Rotten cat.

The trick worked though...we made it to the gym a little on the sleepy side and proceeded with torturing our bodies with cardio, crunchs and weight lifting.

When we left, we saw these people running in the parking lot pushing shopping carts filled with weights. We deduced, being awake at this point, that this was Bally Fitness's "Sarge's Boot Camp." Please tell me why someone would pay good money to be told to run through the parking lot pushing a shopping cart? They already have to go to the gym to meet "Sarge" -- so just save your money and work out on your own! Maybe it's that these folks need the motivation -- I can understand that. I used to meet a co-worker at the gym at 5:30am to workout. If we didn't see the other it was public humiliation at the office. "So what excuse do you have for not meeting me at the gym this morning?"

Me, I just have the cat throwing me out the door.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Success on many levels!

Being the Olympics junkie that I am, last night (Saturday night) we watched Dara Torres win a silver medal in the 50m freestyle (swimming) by the same margin that Michael Phelps beat Cavic in the 100m butterfly -- .01 of a second. That's pretty incredible! Add to that, our gal Dara is ANCIENT when it comes to swimming....she's 41 and could have been the mom to the gold medalist Britta Stefan (born in do the math). And then we watched Michael Phelps win his 8th gold medal of these games.

So you can see I was inspired to go biking this morning! Off we went doing that loop I mapquested. The good news -- I finally figured out that darn bike computer and now I am logging in miles, not kilometers! Even better, our bike computers are fairly close in the mileage we come up with. No more Julie riding 5 miles to Kathy's 2. :-)

We added a little bit to the route, and did 3 laps, bringing me up to a whopping 8 miles (wooo hoooo). We went home as Kathy was going riding with her boss, who was meeting us at the house. After she and Greg set off, I debated whether I wanted to ride more. Truthfully -- No. Honestly -- I got my fanny back on that bike and did another loop bringing me up to 10.5 miles. I never realized that Greenbelt is a bit on the hilly side. Until that last lap, when I'd cooled down and failed to stretch again before riding. Ugh.

Kathy -- to toot her horn -- went out and did another 30+ miles with her boss. She then came home and ate and bathed. The two of us are now hobbling around the house like a couple of 90 year olds in need of knee replacements. Trust me -- I'll wrestle her for the advil!

Cross Training

Friday's cross-training consisted of multiple hours working on updating the virus protection for the desktop and laptop computers, re-installing ITunes which seemed to disable the cd-rom and DVD drives, and multiple trips from the office to the basement to do laundry and retrieve more cd's to load onto ITunes and ultimately the IPod. You should see the sweat I worked up. :-)

Saturday, Kathy & I got up early after watching Michael Phelps win gold #7 and headed off to Lowes. Every Labor Day we have a parade viewing followed by a cookout at our house. Earlier this year we had the ancient deck removed and a new patio installed. The ground slopes in the back, so there was a bit of dirt leading down to the grass. We planning on landscaping, but hadn't gotten around to it. Then we realized we were having 30-50 people over on September 1st and needed to work on the backyard. The weekend of August 9/10 we went to Lowes for plants for the planter out front. Then saw all sorts of other plants that we HAD to have. And then saw some nice stones that we could use for a wall to build a planter box....we only bought 10 of those heavy stones that weekend. Well, we got them home and liked them.

Thus the trip to Lowes of 8/ buy 25 more of those stones (which I swear weighed 5 pounds each. Maybe 10.) as well as several bags of good dirt (not to be confused with Maryland clay dirt) and a few pavers we've used as a border. For those who don't know our home, we live in a row of townhouses. We are the 2nd from the end. Meaning all those stones had to go from the street, down the sidewalk, through our neighbor's back yard to stack on his steps. After all the materials were hauled, Kathy stood in the neighbor's yard and handed me stone after stone, which I hauled across the yard to approximate locations. I tried walking with them doing lunges for an extra workout.

In all honesty, I must confess that my labors in the yard ended there. Kathy was the one who dug the holes for the plants and placed the stones forming a nice wall around the flower bed. I went back in the house and loaded more cd's into ITunes, for I am the computer geek and she is the yard laborer.

Here is a picture of the not-quite-completed landscaping (part one) as well as our neighbor Jim's steps and backyard used for cross training.

Friday, August 15, 2008

What not to wear

No, I am not requesting that someone nominate me for TLC's "What Not To Wear." I am merely telling you how NOT to dress for riding a bike. I know that we all hopped on our bikes as kids wearing flip-flops, cotton shorts and a faded vacation t-shirt. Trust me, that's not what I wear now! We've got bike shorts that have padding in the crotch and fanny. You are not supposed to wear them with undies...wearing anything under the short can lead to chafing. Or it could lead to chafing if one were riding more than 2.13 miles. :-) If the skin tight spandex isn't insult enough, the padding brings back memories of diaper wearing. From MANY years ago. Then there's the jersey, the gloves, the socks (no, you can't just wear the same socks you wear to the gym), the sunglasses, the shoes and the helmet. I think I've got a small fortune invested in cycling jerseys and shorts. Some of which are a wee bit snug. (Wee bit...what an understatement! If I managed to pour myself back into the small jersey, I'd be dun-lapping all over. Out the neckline, out the get the picture.)

So now that you know what I wear when cycling, you can imagine how funny I thought the following sight.

Driving home from Costco I see a young man on his bike. He's not wearing any spandex. In fact, he's wearing jeans. (It's 87 degrees here) Baggy jeans. Worn very low. If he were walking, he'd be dragging his hems. So picture that same gentleman in his B A G G Y jeans. Cycling along. When his baggy pants leg gets caught in the chain of his bike. :-) Let's just say he's lucky he didn't fall off the bike....and I am even luckier that the chain didn't drag his pants down any lower then they already were! Perhaps he's planning for a career as a plumber?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Confession Time

Ok...I have to admit it. I checked the instructions for my bike computer. My distance measurements were right. In kilometers. I feel like such an idiot. At any rate, I DID bike 4.78...kilometers today.

Which is more than I did in all of 2007. and 2006. and 2005. and 2004. and 2003. and maybe 2002. But I think I did ride a little bit that year.

Off to bed and Olympics watching. To the gym tomorrow.Check Spelling


I'm happy to report that the yellow yarn ball was still in bike parking this morning! Yesterday I mapquested our little loop and they said that it was 2.13 miles. So today Kathy & I reset our computers and did a loop. Sad to say, her computer is much more accurate. Like right on the mapquest money accurate. Mine said we did over 3 miles. While I prefer to think I've done more miles, it's not at all helpful when trying to follow a cue sheet. I'll try re-setting the computer again tonight to see if that helps.

Tomorrow it's back to the gym. I bring a book on tape / cd with me and listen to it while doing the cardio. Keeps my mind occupied so I don't stare at the numbers crawling slowly by.

Kathy's boss is loaning us (me) one of his bike trainers. He's become a bit of a bike geek and has 3 bikes that I know of, a couple of trainers, and helmets to match each bike. His new bike is carbon road bike and he loves it. We told him he'd be happier with a road bike (vs. a hybrid or mountain bike) and he is. We gave him the same advice Lynn K. gave me many years ago "try a number of different bikes. You'll know when you find yours." She was right....I still love riding my Waterford road bike. It's white, any helmet will match it. :-)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fung Shui -- cat version

Margaret, the more lady-like of our two cats, is a ferocious hunter. Of yarn balls. You can hear her yowling 2 floors away and then she'll appear before you with a yarn ball in her mouth and spit it out "ptooy." Sort of "see what I killed. I protect you from the evil yarn balls."

Several years ago when we consulted an animal communicator (long story), the A.C. said that Margaret liked to change the energy in the room by moving things around. Sort of a little fung shui with yarn balls.

Last night as I unlocked the front door and walked through the bike parking lot / front hall, I noticed that Margaret had decided the front hall needed a little fung shui. She'd moved her yellow yarn ball to sit beside Kathy's bike. It certainly made me smile! Or maybe that's what she intended -- only couldn't find a yellow smiley face yarn ball!

The ball was still sitting beside the bike and Kathy and I trudged out of the house at 5:30am for some torture at the gym. It's getting better -- I did 25 minutes of cardio on the cross-trainer at levels 3 & 4. I think I was inspired -- I'd dreamt about the ride last night. I dreamed it was already November and there was no way we were ready to bike 165 miles. So it was off to the gym today. Tomorrow morning, a little biking. Hope the yellow yarn ball is still there!

Monday, August 11, 2008

It's like riding a bike....

Since everyone is blogging, I thought maybe I'd try a blog on my training for in November. Let me know what you think.

Just about 3 months until the SmartRide so we are getting serious about training. I must confess that after those 10 miles I rode in the parking lot of the elementary school across from our house in May, I didn't get back on the bike until last Monday, August 4th. Kathy & I have been to the gym in the mornings (finally that membership is paying off!) and walked about 2 miles on our days off from the gym. But that's not going to help much when November rolls around unless I get on the bike. So last Monday we got up and rode at 6am...some in that famous parking lot, and a little on some neighborhood streets. I still was riding with only my left foot clipped in.

For those of you wondering what the heck I'm talking about -- do you remember your first bike? Mine had a banana seat with flowers on it and pink streamers on the handles. Anyway, those came with basic pedals....the kind that if you pedalled too fast sometimes your foot would slide off the pedal and sometimes you'd get a lovely bruise on the back of your leg from the pedal. Now they have all sorts of fancy things to keep your feet in the pedals: "cages" -- basically a little basket that your toes jam into and "clipless pedals" -- kind of like the bindings for skis / ski boots only MUCH smaller. I'd successfully managed using them the last time I did charity bike rides in 2000 and 2001. There were a few mishaps along the way (stitches in my chin leading to the dimple I always wanted) and some embarrassing falls when I'd forget to unclip when stopping. Just picture it -- person biking up to stop sign clipped into pedals...braking....comes to total topples over because you forgot to unclip so one foot was free to support you on the ground. :-)

So yesterday was the day. We were going to bike, and I was going to use those blasted pedals. Why you ask? Because with the clipless pedals (odd name, I know) you are able to both push down on the pedal and pull up, using muscles on the front and back of your legs. (Some of those muscles haven't been used in years!)

So while Kathy ran to the grocery store (my least favorite thing to do) I poured myself into the spandex shorts & jersey and put on my cycling shoes. I moved the bike to a nice wide door jam, and got on, clipping in on the left as I'd been doing. After numerous tries -- and reminding myself to pedal backwards and not forwards or I'd end up riding down the stairs to our basement -- I managed to get the right foot clipped in. Yipeeeee!

Kathy came home and we went out for our usual spin around the parking lot and Julie practiced clipping in and clipping out. Over and over again. Then it was time to go out on the road. Where the cars are. GULP. So we went to the end of the road, clipping and unclipping whenever the spirit moved me. Back down the road to the house. At this point I think we've ridden all of 2 miles. My bike computer says we rode much further than Kathy's...but I think her's is more accurate. Darn it. Then we are off for a circuit of our neighborhood -- down Ridge Road to Southway. Right on Southway to Crescent, Crescent to Hillside to Laurel Hill and back to Ridge. Approximately 1.75 miles using the more accurate computer. We did that for a couple of times and then called it a day. very short ride done WITH the clipless pedals and on roads -- real roads in traffic!