Friday, August 15, 2014

Robbed! These pictures crack me up

There is a woman who bike commutes in my neighborhood, and we have almost the same work schedule and we live and work very closely to each other. When I leave work to walk to my bike, there she goes, pedaling by. Sigh. This woman vexes me to no end.

I am faster than her on the flats, because I am fairly speedy on the flats. But she is faster than me on the hills, and because we have the same route and she is not particularly friendly, when I see her, I drag my feet a bit so our commutes don't bump into each other. Otherwise we'd be a tag team of passing, being passed, passing, being passed. No fun. 

Yesterday, I rode in to work and I was a bit late, so I saw her in the morning for the first time. I was already done riding, showered, dressed, and crossing the street to my building when she pedaled on by. I nearly threw a fit on the street: she gets to work later than me, she leaves earlier than me, she is faster than me, she is younger than me, she is prettier than me, she has the sculpted biker calves I crave, while I need to go buy new fall boots to fit over my monster calves. Seeing her pedal by rocked my apparently fragile commuting state of mind, haha!

So I know the angst this runner is feeling when she is about to celebrate her finish, only to be blown past by some fresh-faced dynamo who obviously still has a lot of gas in the tank and wears cool shades, to boot.

Oh, I feel your pain, sister!
I was telling a friend this morning that my family is probably about to revoke my biking privileges, anyway. School is about to start, and school + bike to work is a tough combination. I am wracking my brain trying to figure out how to make it work, ugh. I think I can do it. My goal is to extend my bike commuting season by at least a couple months this year: last year I exhausted myself and bailed early, really too early in the season. This year, if I can figure out a workaround for getting my youngest to school, I will be okay. It is a challenge, though.

My privileges will be revoked though, for a variety of reasons:

  • Football season is upon us, and my 13 yo does not trust me to bike home and get his butt to practice on time;
  • Soccer season is upon us, almost, and I will have to run my youngest to and from practices, too;
  • Back to school is always such a busy time with lots of commitments;
  • Frankly, my bike commuting gets on my family's nerves in a way that I do not fully understand. I think they are all jealous;
  • I have been very busy at work and leaving a bit later, which is adding to their inconvenience factor at home as I collapse post-ride unable to focus on dinner and bored summer children;
  • I wiped out on my bike yesterday, thus proving that it is in fact a death trap. It wasn't a bad wipeout: I hit a patch of fresh gravel unexpectedly and my tire sunk into it and I was thrown from the bike at a low speed. Road rash and some bruises. A sore shoulder where I clonked into my cross bar. One of the hazards of logging so many miles on the same stretch of road and path is that it becomes overly familiar, and that's what happened. You can ride it like a mind-wandering zombie if you aren't careful! And that's pretty much what happened, I took the little shortcut from bike path to roadway and as I pedaled onto what should be a potholed dirt driveway mess, my brain thought, "hey did they put gravel in these potholesssssssssss..." and BAM! thrown off my bike. Oops!
  • Today I rode my bike to work in the rain (yay, me!). Not rain, really, a warm drizzle. Dark and rainy enough that I am shopping for fenders for Jake and clear-lensed bike glasses for me today. It was rainy enough that G was surprised I was biking in, and he was a little disappointed, too, because rain = no motorcycle and no motorcycle = no carpool lane bridge unless he has his little woman by his side to commute with. I will not pretend that I won't be under some carpool-with-me-not-Jake pressure, there, too, as the weather changes.
Me, me, me. I need to think of me.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Bye Bye, Carema

I sold my first road bike yesterday: it was a bittersweet occasion! I'm glad for the extra space in the garage, and my new man Jake the Snake is plenty of bike for me. But the Carema was a great first bike and I really liked it a lot.

I was so excited when I bought it.

You never forget your first.
Well, it went to a good home. The woman who bought it fell in love immediately and didn't even haggle. Happily, for me, I sold it for only $22 less than I bought it. I did leave the rack on the back, though, which I had added. I would say, for sure, I got at least $22 enjoyment out of the bike in the 1600 or so miles I spent riding. :)

Still, being the emotional sap I am, I did get a little teary-eyed when it left. But I love my Jakey lots more than I ever did this bike, so it's cool.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Iron Lady

I wanna be an Iron Girl, I've decided. Well, I wanna be a half Iron Girl, anyway. Completing the full thing just seems inconceivable to me! We happened to be in Couer d' Alene last weekend the day before the Iron Man competition and I had event lust like I have never had before! I wanted to be there the next day to watch it watch it finish. I wanted to be in it!

That's a lofty goal, considering I ran a block or so with Reid the other day, and besides peeing my pants, thank you very much, old lady bladder, I was also winded and stiff. Hrumph. Maybe the Iron Man is outside my range. But it did at least really get me thinking about triathlons, which I know I would love. Except for the water temperature part...I'm not really much for cold water. But I could totally do it.

In the works, then, are early planning stages for some 2015 triathlons.

In happy biking news, I am still commuting regularly to work on my Jakey, who will hit his 200th tracked mile in the next couple days. I say tracked mile because shortly after I got Jake, my Strava app crapped out on me several times, which irritated the snot out of me, because it's how I track my cycling mileage. I am so glad I bought that bike! I just love it.

What is funny, though, is that immediately before I bought Jake, I had bought panniers for my road bike.

Black ones, though.
I had just gotten used to them, but I tell you...Jake is too pretty for panniers.

If you're this good looking, you don't need accessories.
I just can't bring myself to put a rack and panniers on this baby. Can't do it. I've been wearing my backpack, and it's time for me to get a real cycling backpack instead of my Old Navy kids' backpack. That's next on my shopping list!

Last week, it was a scorching 90-something degrees one afternoon, and I pretty well killed myself biking home. Ack! So hot. I did not have it in me to extend my route, and I also had to get off and push Jake up the last hellacious hill, so tired was I. It's going to be warm this week, too, so I am strategizing by drinking lots and lots of water all day and reminding myself that it's not a race, it's a bike ride. But I like to ride, and I like to ride fast! In so many regards, I'm just a fast girl. That's why I bought this shirt the other day, hahaha.

I never buy shirts with writing and I have bought two in the last month!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Who's a Pretty Baby? Aw, Who's a Pretty Baby?

I'm in love with a bike named Jake. Jake the Snake, to be precise (the brand of the bike is Kona, the model is "Jake the Snake," if you wonder why I keep calling him that, haha). On Saturday, I got up early and ventured down to Portland to Sellwood Cycle Repair. Alllllll the Kona dealers in Western Washington were sold out of the Jake the Snake in my size, but I found this one in Portland. Hmm, I should have called around to other Portland stores to see if I could get a bike bidding war going, but I was SO EXCiTED to finally find one in stock, I didn't even think of it.

After arriving at the store shortly after it opened, I met my new man. Love at first sight, I tell you! I took it for a couple long test rides and it was everything I had hoped. I had ridden the base model of the bike in Seattle, the "Jake," and it fit me perfectly and was a wonderful ride. "Jake the Snake" has upgraded shifting components, though, and after riding a different bike with the better parts, I knew it was worth the upgrade. "Jake" had the same shifting components as my road bike, and I knew I wanted better this time around. This bike also has disk brakes, which are more effective and will be especially so if I can talk myself into foul weather (or moderately foul) commuting.

A night on the town with my cool ride. Okay, I left Jake the Snake at home, haha.
Yesterday was my first commute home on the new bike and it was glorious! I wouldn't say it was any faster: Jake has wider, knobby tires that are slower than a road bike's skinny, slick tires. I got home in the same amount of time at a higher level of exertion. But the smile on my face was twice as big! Okay, for one, Jake is just a really cool bike. Look at that bright green! The wider tires make for a much nicer ride, not having to worry about Seattle's bad pavement through downtown and the International District (I think we are supposed to call it Chinatown now but I am not sure).

Jake's a real looker, too. My biking coworker friend had told me people would chat me up about the bike because it's so cool and so distinctive looking. Sure enough, two men on the way home separately rode along side me and talked about the bike. Do you race cyclocross? No, but I am looking into it, I said, truthfully!

This morning I told my friend that I will have to have a custom bike sticker made that says, "No pictures, please," haha. You know, you can actually make custom bike stickers. I crack myself up.

Seriously, I crack myself up. :)
I'll end the blog here because all I think about is my new bike, my new bike, my new bike. I had a fun time staying with Kim on the whirlwind trip - we got all dolled up like the fancy ladies we are and went to a friend of her's birthday party. That was fun - I have been feeling like a MAJOR FRUMP, so it was good for me to feel all pretty. It has even inspired me to go two whole work days without wearing yoga pants to work, hahahaha.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Road Trip!

I have a giant case of bike lust. Meet Jake. You remember Jake from Sixteen Candles, right?

I always knew you'd come for me, Jake.
Well, he was one "Jake crush," and here's the other. Meet Jake the Snake.

Yeah, you.
How much do I need a bright lime green bike named Jake the Snake? Uh, bad. Real bad.

This is a cyclocross bike, so maybe I will also have to take up cyclocross, an idea that has crossed my mind before...

But that's neither here nor there right now, because what Jake the Snake offers me, besides beauty and form, is disk brakes, a nice commute to work ride (even...gasp...year-round...something I should really give more thought if I don't want to spend the first three months of my bike commuting year whining about how out of shape I am from not riding for six months...)

Okay, there's only one Jake the Snake available in my size on the whole freaking west coast. And it's in Portland. It literally has had my name on it for over a week while I hem and haw about shelling out that kind of bank for a bike. I have drivers ed and football and soccer and, and, and to pay. But you know what? Mama wants a new bike!!

I told the bike shop this morning that I would see them at 10 a.m. tomorrow, if I could pull together all the details. Um, the details are filling up the gas tank and pulling some benjis out of the bank. I think I can do it!

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Instead of feeling like I have to have something profound to say or report before I blog, I will just feel free to share my little passing blog thoughts or happy moments. I fell into a rut of thinking I needed some athletic or weight loss milestone to blog about or it wouldn't be worth reading. But, then I remembered that it's myyyyyyy blog, hahaha! I have missed writing.

I wish I had taken pictures for the very happy bike commute home I had yesterday afternoon. I had a couple objectives for this ride: get a couple "trophies" on Strava, which I use to track both my overall mileage and my times on certain "segments" of the ride, usually hills or specific stretches of road. I have times going back to when I started riding in 2012, so it's always interesting to me to see my progress, or lack thereof. Really, with biking, just like running, it's hard to shave *substantial* times off your ride. I do see that my times compared to a year ago are consistently slower now, but only in a range of a handful of seconds on short segments to a couple of minutes on long segments.

My other objective was to enjoy the rest of the ride at my leisure. I have a "problem": when I ride, I am almost always riding for speed and exhaustion. It works, haha. I arrive home utterly spent, ready to lay in the front yard and alarm the neighbors. It doesn't have to be this way, but if you are riding, you might as well ride fast.*

*my "fast" is nowhere near tons of other women's "fast," as I can see on Strava. I'm no racer girl. I would say I can hold my own with the more than casual rider, but while I am fast on flats, I am agonizingly slow on hills, which vexes me to no end. If some biking pro said, "What do you want to learn?" my answer should be "how to change a flat tire," but instead it would be, "to go faster on hills!"

Back to my objectives. I identified three segments I wanted to beat my best time on, or at least get back in that neighborhood. I've been working on these segments when I ride home, but I'm consistently a few seconds off my best. Some would say I should stop obsessing about this, haha. I did not get my highest time on any of them, but I did get my 2nd best (1 second off best) and 3rd best (21 seconds off best) time on a couple. Eh, I'll continue working on it.

For the other objective, I concentrated on riding at a more leisurely pace. I don't really know why this mattered to me, haha. It was fun, though. It wasn't much different, because on the hills I am still agonizingly slow and it's hard to go much slower. On the flats, I really do like riding at my faster speed, it makes me feel like a little kid!

I made a couple stops, though. There is a "Little Free Library" in front of someone's house, a cute little free bookstand where I chose a book that I cannot recall right now. :) I didn't take a picture but you can click here to see their picture, it is very cute and did, indeed, have a container of dog treats, too.

Later, I stopped at a spot where three very ambitious girls were selling kool-aid, or giving it away if you could get their question right. Two of them were sisters, and they wanted you to guess which two. I failed it miserably, only getting it on my third try, and that was after they identified one of the sisters. It was pity kool-aid, really, at that point. And they were so cute I dug into my bag and found them a dollar. It was only then that one of the girls asked the littlest (about six years old, and clearly the group's spokeperson) if she had told me it was for charity? She had not. I wanted to dig in for more money, but by then it was time to go, haha.

They were raising for this bike ride, maybe put up to it by a parent, haha,
because it's a $1500 per rider commitment or you pay the difference where your fundraising lapses.
It was hot yesterday, about 84 degrees when I got home, so I was happy to have exhausted myself and happy to have taken it a little easy. As usual, Greg made his astute post-commute ride observation, "You're all sweaty." I wondered, again, if I would have the courtesy of being told I'm sweaty every time for the rest of my life, but he had made a wonderful chicken/avocado/bacon salad, so I decided it was well worth it, if so. ;)

As a parting shot, I will throw out some happy milestones: I have been consistently riding my bike home on sunny days (today will be my fourth ride of the week, it remains to be seen about tomorrow). I am riding up to my old house in order to make myself suffer with the longer hill that I used to battle when I lived there, and it stretches my mileage a bit. It has been so nice, I've worked a little bit of extra miles in on top of that, but I am battling against Reid's daycare closure so there's not a lot of time. I've ridden in excess of 185 miles this year, which isn't bad considering it's all been 12.5 mile or so commutes: that's a lot of days ridden home!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I Like to Ride My Bicycle, I Like to Ride My Bike

Spring has sprung!! I have been enjoying riding my bike home after work, and as the weather picks up I am committed to riding at least three days per week. It is glorious - really, there is not much more fun things to do than ride a bike. Seriously.

And since the scale has been breaking my heart and also making me hate my blog, today I am not posting a scale picture, but instead, a couple pictures that actually make me happy and proud of myself. :)

That's 76 miles I didn't log on a bus this month.

Okay, this is a goofball picture.
Haha, the picture of me on the bike - I stopped at the I-90 bridge overlook, roughly half way home on my commute. There was a little girl, probably six years old, on a tag-along thing on her dad's bike. And I asked her to take my picture: she was very sweet, "Oh, my dad knows how to do that, not me!" I told her I bet she could take a great picture for me. She said she didn't want to hurt my phone if I dropped it. By this point, I'm totally coercing her to take the picture, haha, as I explain that I have three kids and a super strong, super waterproof case on my phone! So she took the picture. I looked at it, and realized what a terrible photographer she was, capturing me with such a goofball expression on my face! ;) Ah well, it was a beautiful day and I am happy, happy, happy when I ride my bike. Except up hills. Then I'm pretty damn whiny and remarkably weak and slow. :)

So, I did buy a new scale for my bathroom and I have been using it. I am damn tired of posting about it, though, so I will commit to continuing to weigh myself weekly and track it on myfitnesspal, but right now I am done talking about it on the blog. Grr. >:)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Weigh-In Wednesday: Bye Week Edition

Well, I was stepping into the shower this morning and remembered it was Wednesday, and remembered I gave my daughter my new scale last week. And it was alllllllllllll they way upstairs, and I was already nekked and stepping into the shower...

And I thought, "screw it." :)

That old scale, well, I told my daughter A that she didn't need to use it, either. I think it's dying. And she has been doing soooooooooooooooo well on her eating plan for, gosh, I don't know, two or three weeks now? I figured she deserved a scale that had screaming bright numbers and an implied accuracy to those numbers. I'll pick up a new scale at Costco this weekend. It's too far for me to go visit hers, haha, and I think G also benefits from having a scale handy. ;)

It wasn't a great eating week, anyway. G and I went out of town for the weekend, and while I largely kept my eating in check, there was too much snacking and too much food, in general. I confess I am not eager to face that bad ole scale at all.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Weigh-In Wednesday: Working Mama Triathlon Edition

What bright future lies ahead!! Spring is coming, spring is coming!! This week I was able to spend some quality time outdoors: walking several times to get my youngest from daycare, one day even diverting to a different bus that dropped me farther from home, so I could stretch a .8 mile walk into a 3.0 mile walk on my way to get him. (Only to be reminded by staff that his dad had picked him up earlier in the afternoon, hahaha, thus making my trip a WASTED WALK! Not really, it was wonderful to be outside and I felt stronger and healthier and I am increasingly believing (remembering) that the key to my sanity is exercise and some alone time.)

I rode my bike home from work twice: once I already posted about and then again yesterday. Such good timing, because this morning is junky and rainy. I was very proud that I pushed myself to take advantage of the weather window (I work in construction in Seattle, you have no idea how many times a day I hear the phrase "weather window" this time of year, haha, as my project managers all scramble to get their construction contracts in place in time to build this summer.)

Yesterday's ride was glorious, too, although it was 7 degrees cooler than my last ride (50 degrees versus 57) and I learned that seven degrees matters. I was chilled for the first maybe quarter of the ride before my body warmed up. And then I was just GREAT, even across the long Lake Washington bridge, which I had feared would be windy, but really wasn't.

Riding all the way home, I cracked myself up, thinking about what I called my "Working Mama Triathlon" that I would do that afternoon:

Biking (11 miles)

Chasing (split: 0.8 mile walk there followed by
0.8 mile very spirited game of "Rock Soccer" home.)
Rock Soccer is freaking exhausting. He kicks the rock, I chase it.

My favorite: Competitive Wine Soaking. 

The scale continues to be an enemy this week, but I am resigned to the fact that I need to make some unwanted changes in order to see the results I want. This week, I would say my eating was pretty good - I am getting lots of protein and not terribly many carbs. Not too many sweets, either.

The failing this week? Wine. Way too much wine! I have my reasons: G is home with an injured knee, awaiting *another* knee surgery (other knee this time). Maybe it's my shortcoming, maybe it's his, but I find house-not-quite-husbands stressful to have around. I have given a great deal of thought to this, and I am pretty sure it's my shortcoming, not his, haha. Maybe I'll delve into this later. :)

Also, G's mom stayed with us for a couple days last week. Again, my shortcoming, not hers. This was a great visit, just a couple nights in duration. I have never had house guests before, never had family that lived out of town (that I am close to) and for whatever reason, this is just stressful to me.

I think I'm a head case. :) I also continue to feel like I sometimes struggle with my first grown-up relationship, wherein I attempt to have everything my way all the time and...I am sometimes denied. WHA??

Anyway, I have never been much of a drinker but I feel myself falling into this "glass or two a night" trap that I think affected the scale this week. G has a drink or two in the evening, it is easy to join him, especially when I am feeling stressed.

Hell, I live in Washington, I may have to take up pot to relax. ;)

Chill, baby. Bike season is here.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Weigh-In Wednesday: Beautiful Spring Day Edition

Oh my goodness, it couldn't have been more beautiful in Seattle yesterday! (Unless maybe it's today!) It was just glorious outside, so much so that look who I loaded onto the bus bright and early in the morning to ride home for the first time yesterday afternoon:

Aw, baby, I've missed you soooooooooo much.
Well, I did get on that scale yesterday morning even though, again, it was the last thing in the world I wanted to do. I thought about skipping it, actually. Tuesday night had just SUCKED and I had fallen asleep feeling very sorry for myself, then I had lain awake from, oh, about 1:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m., still feeling sorry for myself. So getting on the scale was not high on the list of ways I wanted to make myself feel good on Wednesday morning! But I did it anyway. My logic was, it wasn't going to be any more fun on Thursday morning, haha.

Whatever. Maybe this is just what I weigh.
Do you just hate love how BRIGHT those numbers are on the scale indication? Your weight, seared into your retinas at 5:00 a.m. Lovely. :)

But now I'm going to stop talking about my sucky week and my sucky weight and I'm going to say that yesterday I rode my bike home and it was heavenly. Beyond heavenly, it was just magical. How on earth can bike riding be SO FUN?? I just love it. I may not love it in a wow, it's 42 degrees outside and pouring down rain, I think I will go ride my bike home from work in the dark way, but I absolutely LOVE it in a WOW, IT'S FIFTY-SEVEN DEGREES AND GORGEOUS OUTSIDE AND I AM COUNTING DOWN THE HOURS UNTIL I CAN BLOW THIS POPSICLE STAND AND GET OUT ON MY BIKE way!

Sure, it's a bit of a hassle. I simply do not have time to ride my bike to work in the morning. I maybe rather prefer the ride to work over the ride home (not sure on this one as they both have their merits!). You gotta get your bike to the bus stop (wha, put on all the cycling shoes and helmet and such for a few block ride??) and then you gotta load the bike on the bus. Pause for a long dramatic moment as your forehead breaks out into a light sweat as mine does...will there be space on the bike racks? Will it be easy access front space, or oh ufck, it's the hard back space(s)? Will cars honk? (Ok, cars don't usually honk, but mightn't they, one day?

So much packing involved. Yesterday was a very last minute decision to ride my bike. G wasn't going to work, it was supposed to be a very sunny day, and I needed to lift my spirits. Why not? My bike was not prepared, though, and neither was I. Bike shoes needed to be located, helmet dug out from a moving box in the garage. Tire pressure added. Stuff. What to bring? What not to bring?

Well, I made it, anyway. I forgot a water bottle, and my lunch, but I survived. :) And I FLEW out of the office at the end of the day and did a complicated strip tease in the parking garage, changing shoes and out of pants and, and, and...

(See, last year, I would have have walked out the office in my bike shorts and shoes, etc. But this year, I was just really happy that my bike shorts still fit - a relative term, I'll admit - so those pants went back on over the shorts to get me out of the building without undue scrutiny by my peers, haha.)

The ride home was glorious. I would have stopped and taken a picture to illustrate, if I hadn't been so happy just enjoying myself. Sure, the hills were hard. My legs were weak and weary. I didn't feel as much of the POWER as I felt riding late last summer, but hopefully that will come back. :)

And hey, I was riding through the most perilous part of my commute, the International District near the bus tunnel, a street fraught with buses and train tracks and pedestrians and cars and turn lanes and taxis and bums and OH MY GOODNESS that one block stretch of road is just STRESSFUL. And at the height of it, I kid you not, a fan man yelled out, "Go, Julie, go!" as I passed by.

I know a lot of people downtown, I would say, having worked here for half my life. And I will probably not ever figure out who yelled out to me at that busy train station bus stop unless they mention it in passing. But on a perfect sunny day, when I was so super happy to be back on my bike...well, heck, that just made my day.

Go, Julie, go!!