Friday, August 29, 2014

YAY! My three year birthday!!



     Yes, I know I'm slightly older than three years old, but today is my other birthday; I have two... today marks my three year survivor-ship of breast cancer, so this makes me three years old today!!


 

     It's true that I seem to focus a lot on my bike riding and the bike to the bay; the cancer is one thing I left in my dust three years ago, but I do have to celebrate this milestone, reason being, I may not have been as strong today if I hadn't gone through this challenge on top of the MS, because it took one more test to prove I can get through anything:) 

So happy birthday to me!!

Have a great weekend!!

Christine:)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Here's some uncharted territory!!



     So I've biked through down town Toledo, Rossford and several traditional bike trails, but I have to tell you, this was my all time favorite!  Maumee Bay State Park. 

      Now that I'm comfortable riding my road bike I can fully enjoy the beautiful  scenery around me.  It's true that the lake that this great park sits on may not be be good for swimming right now because of the algae, but the park it's self is amazing and the bike trail is very safe.



          When we ventured out of the park a bit we also discovered this sight for sore eyes... Bayshore park.


     
     I understand this is an awesome place to watch the sun rise, but it was later in the afternoon, so that would have to be another day...



     This was all I managed to capture by photo of about 20 or more deer that passed in front of me.  You very rarely see that on the green belt Parkway trail; a gaggle of geese maybe... a herd of deer... not so much...



     It may have been too late to catch the sun rise but back in the park I did see this; it was as if the sky was opening up and tucking the sun in for a dreamy night's sleep.




     I can't wait to uncover many more treasures!!


Have a great day!!

Christine:)


Monday, August 25, 2014

Lets give Wabash another try!


     I finally got back on the Wabash Cannonball bike trail and this was the trail I rode when the older lady went whipping past me while I was on my comfort bike.  If I can just find her again and see where I stand now... okay, maybe I just better be glad to be upright...



     This bike trail is usually busy in the evenings, but I think since they were calling for rain most people were afraid of melting, but I didn't care because I needed to test this trail again.  This is one of the straightest trails when it comes to going for a long ride.  There aren't many curves or hills and you can just keep riding for miles.




     Of course, one of the problems with going many miles is you have the same number of miles going back.  So you can see, the sky was looking a little crazy and the last thing I wanted to do was get caught in a storm 15 miles out so we cut it short and turned around at the 7.5 mile point.  But at least we were out there.

     Now my next goal is to make my way to a new trail that is one of uncharted territory (at least by me), remember, I told you my bike is my new legs, and I plan to use it to see as much of the world as possible:)

Have a great day!!

Christine:)

Friday, August 22, 2014

I pumped the tires up in the spring; isn't that good enough for the season??

      

      In the past I always made sure to keep up on the maintenance of my bike.  At the beginning of the season I always wiped the cobwebs off, filled the tires with air (any random amount, it was a feel thing...) then of course I had to fill my water bottle.

     Little did I know, my air pressure in my tires needed to be checked every time I ride and it has to be in a certain range depending on the tire.





     I didn't really look at my bike as a complex machine; just a way to get from point A to point B.  I had no idea I had to be fitted for a bike.  I usually saw one I liked and made sure I could touch the ground on my tippy-toes and that was where the seat stayed for the life of the bike.

     When I first started shopping for my new road bike, I knew not much more than the names of a couple of good bikes. I went into a bike shop that carried these brands armed with very little knowledge, and the first thing the salesman asked me was what my budget was...  Talk about a blank canvas...

    He said he would need to order the bike that I was interested in and to make it go quicker he decided to ask me my in-seam, rather than waste time with a tape measure.  I had no idea because when I buy pants they're always way too long but I couldn't tell you by how much.

     I just threw a random number out there so I didn't sound totally clueless and the number I came up with was about 31 or 32.  He never batted an eye as he jotted my supposed measurements in his notes.  Mind you, I'm flirting with 5 feet 2 inches and there was no way in the world I had a 32 inch in-seam but he appeared more interested in getting it ordered so he could move along to the next "serious customer" so I was out the door without a clue what we just ordered in. 

                                         
                  
I guess it's hard to take this look serious


      Later that day I called him back to tell him I measured my inseam and was actually 29... wow, were we off!

     When the bike was in I took along one of my riding buddies who used to have a bike shop and knew everything about bikes, not to mention he was also familiar with the challenges that I faced on a bike due to my MS.  

     When we got there the salesman who helped me before wasn't there, but a different salesman combed the place until he found the bike that was ordered in.  I never would have known, but my riding buddy discovered that the bike he had ordered in was the grade below what we had talked about but it was surely going to be the price that was "in my budget". I would have never known this if I was by myself.

     Then the bikes come without pedals and the salesman just assumed the standard clip pedals would work. The thing was, I need my feet free so if I lose my balance they can hit the ground quickly. When we  said I needed a right pedal with some sort of spikes to hold my weak foot on he looked at me as though I was from another planet.  

     He told me to stand over the bike frame to see if it fit, and that was the most important thing.  Yes, it fit, but what about my feet!?!?  He didn't seem to want to go the extra mile to make the adjustments so I told him I had to get going but I would get back with him... Yep, you guessed it... I never went back...

     That's when I decided to drive an hour north into Michigan to get my new Terry bike, and I sure was glad I did because the salesman there treated me like I was his only customer and my new bike fits like a glove!





     I guess bikes are just like automobiles, and if you don't do your homework you can surely get taken for a ride.

Have a great weekend!!

Christine:)

     

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Two steps forward and one step back


     Now that I'm comfortable riding my new road bike it's time to go backwards and learn the ins and outs of this contraption.

     Learning the gears seemed to be the next step.  If I was on the bike trail I would have the distraction of all the other cyclists so I figured a leisurely ride through Wildwood Park would be the best place to learn.

                                         


     After a couple times on the trail I had forgotten about the crazies swarming the park especially in the evenings...  and the code that is common on the bike trail is a foreign language to walkers.


     When golfing and a fellow golfer is in the line of your ball you can yell "FORE" and they know to duck.  When on the bike trail you can say "on your left" and the cyclists know to move to the right.  When riding through a park it's like driving while a squirrel darts out in front of you.  About all you can do is yell "heads up" but in most cases they dart back and forth and jump out of the way at the last second.

     This was the case on this "learning" bike ride.  In fact, at one point when I said "heads up" a father had to explain to his middle teen daughter that it meant look up and not at the ground...

     I was beginning to gain my patience with the swarming families who were practically locking arms from one side of the road to the other as though they were playing a game of red-rover, so I started to focus on learning my gears.  There were several hills in the park so I shifted while going up and down the hills.  It was a little complicated because there were no numbers and I had do learn it solely by feel.





     I didn't quite know the feel of each gear yet, but I soon knew what it felt like to have your chain come off and lock the pedals while going up a hill...  I was so glad it happened while I was going up because going down would certainly leave me in a bloody mess at the bottom...

     I got off and managed to get the chain back on track and finished my ride but not before dodging a few more clumps of people having a party in the middle of the road...

     This day I learned a few things; I was finally getting the feel of my gears, I knew not to panic when my chain comes off and I also learned with pedestrians, when it comes to the rules of the road, sometimes there are none...

Have a great day!!

Christine:)

Monday, August 18, 2014

University Parks trail isn't what I remembered...





     It had been some time since I had been on the University Parks trail and I made a goal for myself that after 20 miles on my road bike I would need to leave the parks and parking lots and get back on the bike trail.

     I took one last bike ride around the neighborhood and when I was finished my bike computer read just over 20 miles so it was time to get back on the trail.

     It must have been quite a while because this wasn't here before... The west side of the University Parks trail was under construction.



     I started at 10:00 that morning which was later than usual so the humidity was already setting in; I figured I would just ride the west half of the trail and I was half way there when the detour popped up.  The trail wasn't closed so I just needed to go around the corner and follow the detour signs...



     I soon discovered the detour was not one I was up for because this is what I found...



     Being a little wobbly on my bike as it was, I had no intention of sharing a 4 foot wide road with on coming riders and a huge cement barrier on my right.  A game of chicken would be disastrous on my side of the path.

     So I turned around and decided to ride the east loop of the trail.  After that last leg with the construction, this part felt almost like a parking lot.



     I was finally feeling confident on my new bike and I rode it faster than I was ever able to go with my old bike.  My hopes of falling in love with my new road bike someday came sooner than I thought, because that look of panic was gone and back to the smile I had before; when I used to ride with confidence.  


     I'm not saying I'm ready to share the streets with crazy motorists just yet, but for now I'm more than happy to share the trails with fellow bikers:)

Have a great day!!

Christine:)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Is it me or the bike??




          I've been anxiously waiting for my in-line brakes for my new road bike, and after one very hard week they're finally on.  I couldn't wait to ride my "challenging" bike with my my "safe" brakes.

     Before I got the new brakes I was going very slow so I didn't loose my balance while reaching for the drop brakes.  The first thing I did when the new ones were on was drive to a park and see just how much I loved my new bike now.  It would surely be time to go full throttle.



     Oh how wrong I was.  probably the biggest mistake I made was choosing a busy pedestrian and dog laden park.  The new brakes didn't do anything for my balance, and every time a child would dart in front of me and I said "heads up, I'm new at this!" I could just imagine that child thinking "what the heck, that lady's a hundred..."

     This road was probably more geared for walking; there were cracks sealed with tar and parts of it were even brick (no, they weren't yellow...)



     Then try playing a game of chicken with a 5 year old little girl on a tiny pink bike as both bikes wobble, and see which one goes off the path... For the record... no, I didn't run her off the road:)

     I decided now what I have to do more than anything is spend time on the bike.  No magic bullet is going to instantly make me go fast or straight.

     Remember how I was saying I would see older ladies zip by me while I was on my other bike... well now I have a supposedly faster bike and I see people on mountain bikes zipping past me.  

     I didn't see any other wobbly riders (except that 5 year old) and I began to think maybe it's me, because remember I have "balance issues" as it is.

     Feeling a little baffled, I went home, got on my computer and Googled "balance on road bike"  and it turns out many people struggled with balance for a couple months with a new road bike, and they all said a lot of time spent riding in a safe place will usually make the balance issue go away.

     Now that I know this is normal and I'm just as capable as the next guy at riding a road bike, It's time for me to get back out there and clock those hours.

Have a great weekend!!

Christine:)





Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Why would someone with balance and weakness issues not want to be up right?

     I know... several people, myself included, asked the question why I would want a bike that made me lean forward rather than up right.  

     It sure makes sense to the average Joe that it would be more practical to sit up right while riding rather than stretched over my handle bars, but I'm not the average Joe, and what I found out is having one week leg due to MS makes my strong leg fight like crazy to do the work for both of them.  

     When all the weight is distributed on my seat that poor left quad has to do all the work while my behind takes the easy way out.  

     When I'm stretched forward not only is it more aerodynamic but my leg gets the help from my core muscles; and an added bonus is my back side doesn't have all the weight on it so it doesn't get nearly as sore as it did with my up right bike.



     It's funny how one person's perfect is another one's challenge.  I may not have a totally functioning body but with a little improvising I can have the perfect ride.





     This might not be easy right now, but I can't wait until the time comes that I've mastered this thing, and I'm sure one day it'll be a breeze!

Have a great day!

Christine:)

Monday, August 11, 2014

time to pass the torch


     So here it is, one last look at my training bike.  This bike took me through many bike trails and it got me to Port Clinton when I rode in the MS Bike To the Bay In June.  But now that I've graduated to my new road bike, the one I hope some day I'll love as much as I loved this one, It's time to pass the torch.




      When I started training for my first Bike To The Bay last summer I was scared to death I was going to lose my balance and wipe out on this bike. Once I got more comfortable, my next issue became the wide city tires for long rides.  If you recall I was telling you that it felt like I was pedaling a tractor and I was totally exhausted.

     Then my friend and faithful blog follower, Michael, wanted to donate road bike tires to make sure I didn't quit.  After his kindness I just had to keep going and the new tires made life a whole lot easier and I did make it to the finish line.
  
     When I finally decided to take the plunge and move on to a road bike I knew that the only way I was going to master it and not be tempted to go back to my comfortable bike was to find a new home for the old one.

     I figured the perfect home would be at the Toledo Bike Co op.  I really want to give someone else a chance to get back on a bike and see the world that's out there.




     I knew I had to donate it in my friend Michael's name because he helped me move forward and now maybe his kindness will inspire someone else.  One thing I've learned is we sure have a lot of caring people in this world:)




        Now that I said goodbye to my old bike, I'm sure Terry 
        and I are going to be great friends. 

 

Have a great day!!

Christine:)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Bike?! What bike??




     Here's one of the most valuable things I discovered while figuring out my new bike; I was focusing way too much on how far and how fast I could go and I missed so much in the process.



       I wouldn't see this on my past rides; sure it might have been there, but all I saw was the speed on my bike computer and all of the scenery I passed was virtually non existent.  If I did catch a glimpse of it I didn't want to slow down and enjoy it let alone take a picture.





     While I wait for my safe brakes I will continue to ride at the pace of a snail, but I think this is a great opportunity to take in the beautiful parks and forget how long it takes to get where I'm going because I'm already there...



       This journey, I discovered, isn't about the bike at all.  It's simply a vessel to help me travel to some places I never imagined and if it eventually becomes more efficient then that's all the better.  

     Do I want my safe brakes??  Absolutely! But until that time, you better believe I'm going to capture every picture I can get my eyes on!  

Have a great weekend!!

Christine:)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My new bike; baby steps





     Just when I thought I had the bike riding thing figured out, I was finding myself back to ground zero.  Last year I thought I would never get the balance issue mastered because my balance simply walking isn't great, but I eventually managed to overcome it.

     Before long I was able to go faster than I ever believed possible and found myself riding over 20 miles with out batting an eye; but now I need to learn how to balance this new bike all over again.  My old bike had brakes that were no brainers, but these new brakes were very hard to adjust to.  Then the gears have no numbers; I have to remember which way and which brakes do what and concentrate on balancing all at the same time.

    After my last post I had several people encouraging me not to quit and I thank all of you for the vote of confidence.  I heard these are just growing pains, so I also have faith that I'll master this bike too.

     Since I wanted to wipe the slate clean and start over I knew I had to forget about busy streets and bike trails shared by millions of motorists and bikers, and go to a place where it was just me and the road.  The parking lot seemed to be a good place to start and a lot of people agreed with me.



     After I spent some time in that parking lot I felt a little more confident and I wanted to take the next step, so I went to Wildwood Park and as you can see, this road is perfect for starting over.  If I had quit I never would have discovered how beautiful this was.  

     This time I wasn't trembling because I felt like I was one with the road.  I wasn't going very fast but I actually went down a hill without walking it down, and that was something I once took for granted.  

     I didn't go very far at Wildwood either, but I felt like I had made it to another milestone because once again I found myself anxious for the next ride, and I know it will be very soon.

Have a great day!!

Christine:)

     

Monday, August 4, 2014

Change isn't always easy


        Well here it is, my new baby.  I was so excited to get this road bike because I had finally mastered my comfort bike,and it was now time to become a real biker.






   This is the picture before the melt down... yes you heard right... Who would have thought... I mean this bike was perfect!!  I planned on going faster than the speed of light with it.

     I had no idea how different the brakes, gears and a very light weight bike would be to ride.  Isn't it like riding a bike??

     When I got my new bike I was so anxious to ride it because I was sure it was going to be a breeze.  I had no idea the brakes would be so different and the gears... I was clueless how they worked.  I was schooled on them prior to the ride but there was so much information that I really couldn't make sense of it when I was actually riding.

     With a road bike the handlebars are so different. Where I want to put my hands and where the brakes are, seem miles apart.  So when I have to stop, I only want to move one hand to brake which could potentially send me flying over the handlebars.

     I managed to tremble along about one mile and then I had to stop.  That's when that picture was taken.  Yes, I had a smile because for the moment I had my feet flat on the ground.

     Right after that, we headed out to ride a little further and I rode over a parallel crack that made my very skinny tires slip and that's when I started to panic.  where we were going next was down a big hill.  On my safe bike I loved going down a big hill a million miles an hour.  Now, all I thought about was barreling down to the bottom and not being able to figure out the brakes.

     I just couldn't do it... something I don't say very often, but I was petrified and  I just couldn't do it.  This time unlike others in the past, I walked my bike down the hill.  Sadly, after just one mile I had decided my ride was done.  I knew I had to make it back to where I started so I just stood there trying to convince myself I could do it.  The longer I stood there and thought about getting back on, the more the tears began to well up.  Yep, that was when the melt down happened.  

     After a couple minutes I knew I had to get back on just to make it back to my car and it was the longest mile I  ever rode.

     I went home and asked myself why I did this when my other bike was so safe. I was thinking about just putting the new bike away until I become more brave, but when was that??

      I discovered there is an option to help with the braking until I get confident with the traditional road bike brakes.  They make in-line brakes that go on the top bars where I feel most comfortable holding on, so I called the bike shop but the soonest I could get them would be five days later.  I figured my bike might go into hibernation while I wait.

    Then it hit me that this wasn't like me to quit so easily, 
so I took my bike to a huge empty parking lot and rode it around for about a half an hour. It kind of reminded me of learning to drive a stick shift with my first car; my dad took me to an empty parking lot and we drove from one end to the other, back and forth until I got it.  

     When I was done I still wasn't very comfortable yet, but if I was to quit now I might never go back to my new found love, and I can't let that happen.

     I hope one day I'll be saying " remember way back... when I chickened out on my bike?? What was I thinking!?"

Have a great day!!

Christine:)


Friday, August 1, 2014

My fair well ride on my old tank.



     Remember Last summer when I was so anxious to try this bike thing??  I was so green and not even sure I could last more than a couple miles on my neighborhood "Comfort" bike.

     This was me on my first so called "bike route", which was actually a path less than a mile long, stretching between Pacesetter Park and Centennial Quarry.  I was so afraid to leave my comfort zone that I would ride that little stretch back and forth numerous times until I reached 8 to 10 miles.  I'll admit it was monotonous but I felt safe.



     Fast forward a year and now I've ridden the whole University Parks trail and back, by myself, the Green Belt Parkway through down town Toledo and the Wabash Cannonball just to name a few... 


 Of course lets not forget the "Bike To The Bay" which was my whole reason for getting on my bike in the first place.



     I can honestly say it's time to graduate to a "big girl" road bike!  Now that I'm getting my serious bike I had to have one last fair well ride on my 35 pound tank.  What better way to have my final send off then to take one last trek on the Green Belt Parkway through down town Toledo and International park. 




    This route is one of the most challenging rides I've encountered; though it isn't the longest.  The hills going under the highway along with stopping and starting through traffic make for a very good test to see what I've learned.





        I absolutely love going under the Craig Street bridge and the interstate highway and seeing the Maumee River from a whole different perspective.



   The wind was brutal on my last ride and I did conquer the hills I once said never again to, but I hope the next time I take this route with a true road bike I can remember what it used to be like and enjoy the scenery all the more.

Have a great weekend!!

Christine:)


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Never say never; I finally faced my Flanders hill demon head on!!

     Early on in the riding season I took a bike ride in uncharted territory; you might remember, it was a "safe" road with little traffic.  However, I didn't consider the HUGE hill I would be forced to conquer.  In fact, I didn't conquer it; I wimped out, got off my bike and walked it up to the top.  I vowed never to do something that crazy again.


          But then a few months went by and I started to feel a little braver after conquering quite a few milestones and I knew I had to go back to that hill...

     The weather forecast predicted rain and the clouds were rolling in, but it was now or never... If I waited until another day I might change my mind.


     I learned a lot from the months of riding; one being the skill of changing the gears to accommodate for the incline, then I also felt more confident in my balance, not to mention I felt like I had more strength after the many miles building up to this day.

     The thing was, I knew I had to hit my goal this time because it wasn't going to be a long ride; the sky was sure to open up at any moment and I would be forced to cut it short.  If I failed to make it to the top of the hill and then only rode a few short miles I would feel so disappointed.

     Amazingly, when I started up the hill this time it was by no means as scary as it was the first time; I just kept focused and finally made it to the top!


for the record, this was a thumbs-up... in case it looked otherwise;)


     I came back down, and to make sure it wasn't a fluke I did it again and at that point I was flying higher than a kite!  The rain held out just long enough, and as I expected, my ride was cut short, but I didn't care; I did what I set out to do.

     I ask myself why I was able to make it this time when I was unable to do it a few months ago... was it more strength or more skill with the gears??  I really think it was all in my head to begin with.  I had confidence that I could do it and I never felt more proud of my accomplishment.  Next time I might actually keep my eyes open:)



Have a great day!!

Christine:)

Monday, July 28, 2014

I love a good ride but lets throw some yoga into the mix!



   Remember way back when... I was jokingly claiming to be a ninja as I was explaining off the strange contraption on my leg... well, I never did take up Tai Chi, and yes, I now know  Ninjas don't do it either.

     However, we all know by now that I'm totally obsessed with bike riding, and I spend many hours in the day chasing off this crazy monster called "MS" by strength training and getting on the treadmill.  To this long list of proactive measures I just added Physical Therapy and now Yoga... I'll do what ever it takes to fight the fight.

     Most people, when asked what they do for a living reply by saying they're an Accountant, nurse, lawyer, or some specific, interesting, or maybe not so interesting job they do to earn a lucrative living.

     To me, what I do for a living doesn't represent my monetary worth, rather what I do to "live".  If I have to spend countless hours being proactive to fight this never ending battle, then that's what I'll do.

     Most would call what I do discipline; I call it survival.  We all have those demons in our heads telling us to sleep in or skip a workout, but I also have a voice in my head everyday telling me I can't give up, and so I essentially let that little voice do the workout for me and when I'm done I thank that guardian angel for not letting me quit.

     Whenever I have a day that I start out asking "why me?", I take a minute and then tell myself... "lets call it luck".



     

Have a great day!!

Christine:)