Bike to Work Day 2017 & Biking Challenge

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May 19, 2017 was the DC/VA/MD Bike to Work Day. A few weeks ago, I said I would blog about two events in which I planned to participate.

One is the fund-raiser for the month of June to raise money for children with cancer.

The other was the DC Bike to Work Day event. I work only two miles, (albeit up hill), from my apartment. I can and have biked to my office, but I had never participated in a Bike to Work event.

Now, I had been sick off and on for a couple of weeks. I am having problems with my gallbladder. I have gallstones and I’m scheduled for surgery, well, tomorrow, in fact. My co-workers know how much I love to bike. They also knew that I wanted to participate in the Bike to Work Day event.

I woke up. I felt like crap. I was nauseated and tired. And my stomach was sore, as it had been for the past couple of weeks.

Nonetheless, I put on my biking gear, packed a change of clothes, and biked to work.

The effort was rewarded by a resounding cheer from my co-workers when I dragged my bike into the office behind me. They were all so proud because they knew that participating was important to me and I did not let my gallbladder problems keep me from doing it.

I felt great!

I stopped at one of the pit stops on my way home and was further rewarded with a purple t-shirt, which to me was the coolest as purple is my favorite color. That crazy girl from Steel Magnolias was so proud of announcing pink was her signature color. Well, purple is mine. So, to get a purple t-shirt for doing something I loved? Awesome-sauce!

I also got a beer glass with purple lettering on it. That is now my favorite glass.

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Now for my surgery and the fundraiser…

I’m not sure what all I am going to do about that. Of course, I want to stick to my plan of biking 5 days a week, 10 miles a day for 30 days. Obviously, that cannot happen considering I’m having surgery the day before the bike challenge begins.

I think for the first week at least, I am going to have to change my bike miles to walking miles. Then the second week, I will probably to graduate to the recumbent bike in my apartment’s exercise room. I may be able to get on the bike outside before the month ends, but I do not know yet. I am hoping at least. Not sure if I’ll make my 200 mile goal, but I think if I make the effort and get as close as possible, I’ll be happy.

June Biking Challenge

I signed up to do a biking challenge for the month of June. I have challenged myself to bike 200 miles for the month of June. That is 10 miles a day 5 days a week for 4 weeks. That is a lot for me.

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Last summer, I built myself up to 8 miles a day, 3-5 days a week. But a commitment of 10 miles a day 5 days a week is a big step up.

I did this challenge for two reasons. I wanted to set a fitness goal for myself. To do that, I set another goal to raise money for kids who have cancer. I’m not doing it just for myself. I’m doing it to also help children who need the help more than I do. So, every day I do not feel like getting on my bike or going down to the exercise room to log my miles on the recumbent bike, I will have to think about the organization I’m doing this for. This  challenge is not just about me.

I would like you, my readers and friends, to help me stay motivated. Check out my challenge page and leave me a message. And if you are able, make a small donation to the cause. If you can’t that’s OK. I will be making my own donation, but at least stop by and keep me going!

I start in three weeks! The countdown has begun!!

 

It Finally Happened

I have been biking for almost nearly a year. My sister gave me hear bike a year ago. July, 2016. I have been biking ever since except for a few months in the winter when it was too cold or too snowy or icy to bike.

One of my biggest fears about biking is having an accident.

A friend recently told me there are two types of bikers. Those who have fallen off their bikes. And those who have not fallen off their bikes…yet. Well, now I am firmly in the former category.

Last week, I took a small tumble on my bike. I have to admit, it freaked me out a little bit. I took about a week off of biking to recover. It was easy to do as it rained for a few days and was pretty cold outside. And I worked a bit of overtime. Still, I was nervous about getting back out on the trial.

This is what happened…

I took a route I did not normally take. I tried a different part of the trail. I went under Four Mile Run Road instead of crossing and turning onto the W&OD trail. I had never been down that end of the Four Mile Run Trail and I thought I would explore a bit.

Under the road, there was a sizable crevice for water drainage into the creek which was to my right. Across the crevice was a slab of concrete which one could walk or, ostensibly, ride across safely without getting wet. I felt a little nervous about riding across it, but I proceeded anyway.

I moved across slowly and started feeling wobbly, so I put my right foot down to balance myself. Problem. I was too far over to the right and did not have enough slab on that side. So, when I put my foot down, I went all the way down over into the crevice onto my side, the bike on top of me.

I hurt my knee a little, scraped my forearm and elbow, and hurt my shoulder a little. Fortunately, I was wearing my knee brace, which saved my leg from any abrasions or cuts. And I only had minor scrapes on my arm. Nothing was seriously hurt except for maybe my ego.

There was a man and his young son on the other side of the creek who saw me fall. He yelled across and asked if I was OK. I said I was. There was a picnic table nearby and I got up and walked my bike over to the table. I drank some water and poured water over my injuries and tried to assess the extent of the damage. He and his son walked over to make sure I was OK.

He examined my knee, which had turned a little purple, and suggested I immediately return home and put ice on it and maybe seek medical attention. After talking with me for a few minutes, I guess he figured I was OK, and he went on his way. I did notice he and his son kind of hovered nearby though and they cheered when I got on my bike and rode away.

I have to admit, getting back on the bike after my tumble was a little harder than I thought it would be. As soon as I tried to pedal, I had an overwhelming sense of trepidation. I was on a slight downward slope, and all I could think about was falling again. I walked the bike down to a flatter surface and started there instead. Still, I felt it imperative that I actually get on the bike and ride. So, I did. And I’m glad I did.

I did take his advice and rode back to Shirlington and stopped at a coffee shop. I got some ice and removed my knee brace. My knee actually was not purple. Thank goodness. I iced it for a while before walking up the hill to my apartment. A week later, I’m fine and everything seems to have healed up nicely.

I’m back to biking. I went out yesterday. And I am heading out today after I post this entry. My minor accident has left me a bit skittish, but still undeterred.

I am participating in two upcoming biking events. One is bike to work day on May 19. And the other is a biking challenge in the month of June. I will be posting details on both later this week.

In the mean time…Safe Biking!

 

New Recruits!

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That’s right, bikers recruit! Well, I kind of did today. A friend of mine, who has followed my journey from when I weighed 300 pounds to my current ongoing love affair with biking messaged me last week. I inspired him. He wanted me to go biking with him.

Thierry is in my writing group in Arlington, VA, aptly named, The Arlington Writer’s Group, hereafter known as AWG. He is a little older than me and has had some health issues off and on. He was nervous about wanting to bike again, as I was when I first started. Having a friend along definitely helps. It is fun, and it is encouraging. And it forces you to actually follow through with something you want to do but are a bit apprehensive about starting.

We were going to bike yesterday, but it barely made it over 40 degrees and was very windy. Not optimal conditions for biking, let alone starting to bike after a long, long hiatus. So we adjusted our plans to bike today since I was off work. I got up early and was at his place at 10am. We loaded up his bike onto my car, went tot he gas station to make sure our tires were full, then headed out to the W&OD trail.

He is definitely in much better shape than I was when I started biking. I could barely sit on my bike and had to practice regaining my balance my first time out. I rode 1.5 miles to my friend’s house and back and was exhausted. He had no problem getting started.

Today, Thierry and I rode 6.8 miles!!!

I have to say I’m impressed. I think we both did a great job. Granted, I normally do 8-10 miles when I got out, but still. For his first time on a bike in years, he did great!

I told him if he wants to bike next week to let me know. He may change his mind about the whole biking experiment after tomorrow. Today, I’m sure he’ll feel great. In a day or two, he may hate me. But for now, I have a new recruit!

 

10 Things I Love About Biking

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My New Bike!

I have been wanting to write this post for a while, especially since I wrote the 10 Things I Hate About Biking. So here it is:

10 Things I Love About Biking:

  1. Biking is Challenging – I love a good challenge. I tend to be singular in what I challenge myself with. Mostly, the only challenge I really have is my work. Last year was particularly difficult and work took up a huge amount of my time and focus. Biking offered a counter balance to the work challenge. It was personally challenging for me to get on the bike. I forced myself push a little farther every day.
  2. Biking is Fun! – Honestly, it really is. I have said many times it was hard work, but the pay-off for that hard work is that I get to bike. I love the feel of the sun on my face, the wind in my hair. I love flying down hills, or the steady pedaling of riding on a flat trail. I feel free in a way that I do not feel walking or *gasp* running, or doing any other kind of exercise.
  3.  The “Biking Community” –  I am not sure if it is the same in every community, but in Arlington, there is a big informal, (and probably formal if I looked into it more), biking community. A lot of people bike here. There are bike trails everywhere and most of the streets are accommodating to bikers. And other bikers kind of look out for one another. This is something I was not really aware of. One day in August was particularly hot. I was thirsty and pulled off the trail for a moment to drink some water. I’m sure my face was red and I was very sweaty and panting. One girl slowly road by me and asked if I was OK. I assured her I was just thirsty and she pedaled on her way. Occasionally, you get the person who is aggressively concerned with your biking. Annoyingly so, in fact. “That bike is too small for you!” One such person yelled to me as I was slowly riding up hill. “You need to raise your seat! You’ll blow out your knees!” I had to stop and walk the bike up the hill and he came over to try to show me how to raise my seat. Dude! Seriously? At that point in my biking I was just a few days out and feeling very unstable on the bike. Raising my seat was not something I was quite comfortable with yet. I waved him off and told him I was OK, and he grumbled his disapproval and walked away. Creepy. Fortunately, my experiences with other bikers has been much more pleasant.
  4. Supportive Bikers – This is probably a sub-group of the biking community, but I have really come across so many bikers who have been very supportive of my efforts. There’s the girl who offered to fix my flat tire. The guy who stopped to see if he could fix my handle bars. And bikers who just acknowledge me with a polite nod as they pass. But my favorite person, I “met” on one of my first rides. I was re-entering the Four Mile Run trail from South Glebe. There is a slight incline as you enter the trail. I was really struggling to get up the teeny hill. I wanted to push myself to the top. I was traveling at a snail’s pace. A woman rides up behind me and announces she’s passing me on my left. I was literally about to give up and get off my bike when she said as she rode by, “Keep pushing! You got this!” Her words were just the impetus I needed. Two, maybe, three pedals later, I crested the hill and yelled out, “I did it!” She raised her fist in the air in solidarity and rode off.
  5. Being Outside – I could go to gym and ride the stationary bike or join a spin class, but that really never held any appeal for me. I love being outside. The feel of the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. Amazing. Plus I get to see all the beauty around me. Spring and fall are my two favorite seasons. I love the feeling of renewal in the spring air, the blooming of the cherry blossoms, azaleas, budding trees. And the last splash of color and cool air of autumn. And everything in between.
  6. Pushing Myself – I love pushing myself. This past year, I have ridden harder and farther than I ever thought I could. I love to see how far I can go. There have been times I have pushed too far, but I’ve always made it back home, even if I had to walk. The farthest I ever pushed myself to date is my ride from home to Chinatown in DC. It was much farther than I thought it was. Google Maps initially said it was only 6 miles from my house and would take an hour. Google lied. On the bike trail, it was probably 10 or 11 miles. And it took almost two hours. I do not regret doing this though. It was hard and a little scary, but I had a lot of fun.
  7. Riding Downhill – Need I say more? Yes, it is a little scary, but man is it ever fun! I push myself to ride a 4 miles on a slow steady incline on my regular ride. The reward is, I get to ride about 4 miles on a slow steady decline on the way home. The downhill part of the ride is what everyone who dreams of riding thinks biking is like, pedaling effortlessly down the trail and enjoying the ride. And that is what it is like sometimes. But you do not think of the long slog of pushing up hill to get there. The uphill is what makes the downhill really worth it though.
  8. It Is Hard – I like that biking is difficult. One of my favorite movie quotes is from A League of Her Own when the obnoxious Tom Hanks character says to star player who is walking away from the game, “It’s supposed to be hard.  If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” Of course, in Northern Virginia, I think everyone does bike, but that’s not the point. The point is, that I have forced myself to do something that was difficult for me. And the rewards have been immeasurable.
  9. Being Present – There are numerous articles about the benefits of being present in your life, living in he moment, appreciating the here and now. So many of us just coast through our days. Or our schedules are so full, we are just racing to get to the end of the day so we can collapse on our beds for a few hours of respite before we begin again. I often say that when I’m at work, I feel like I’m wishing my life away 8 hours at a time. I’m never fully there. Always planning for the next thing. When I’m biking, I’m not doing that. I have to be focused and present all the time. There are so many things that can derail my ride, cars, traffic, pedestrians, obstacles on the trail errant two-year olds running in front of the bike. You have to pay attention if you want to be safe. Of course, my mind wanders and I think of other things while I’m biking. I think about writing, and all the things I have to do when I get home or get to work, but always, I’m paying attention to the trail, the bike, how I feel, am I hydrated, should I rest, how far I am from home. Biking is one of the few parts of my life where I’m not just waiting for the time to pass so I can get to the next part of my day. I am happy just to be in the moment biking and loving it.
  10. Overall Feeling of Well Being And Accomplishment – I feel better when I bike. My health is better. My breathing is better. I feel stronger and more confident because of biking. I know something about myself. I know that I can push myself physically to achieve a goal. This is something I have not always felt I could do. As someone who spent most of her adult life morbidly obese, the idea of excelling in any kind of physical activity was almost unthinkable. That is no longer the case.