Friday, January 25, 2013

Getting closer

Five weeks from today we will be dipping our tires in the Pacific Ocean and heading toward Alpine, CA.  It will be the first riding day of this great adventure.

Yesterday we got the hotel list - the names, addresses and phone numbers of all the places we will be staying.  Most of them are mid-range motels, but there are a few that are very nice, delightful looking B&Bs.  There is even one that has been nicknamed the Bates Hotel by riders on previous tours - it's a no-star gem that everyone seems to enjoy experiencing while being glad that there aren't others like it.

So now, not only do we know we are going, so do they.  They have rooms reserved for us and expect us to be there.  Since bikes are our only transportation, we will have to ride - we wouldn't want to keep those nice people waiting now, would we?  We can tell friends and loved ones exactly where we will be on any given night, or even arrange for care packages to be sent ahead of our arrival.

We also got a letter that more precisely describes our first and last days.  The logistics of getting people and bikes all the places that they will need to be is pretty complicated but the WomanTours folks seem to have it all under control.  They have been doing tours since 1993 and they have gotten the hang of it.  

Today, as I rode my trainer, I watched Changing Gear.  It is a New Zealand videographer's documentary about the 1999 tour.  The emphasis isn't so much about the riding as it is about the women and what the tour means to them, what it taught them and how they feel about it.  I am just hoping that we don't have to ride in as much rain as they did that year.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


My life is pretty much focused on getting ready for the tour, the planning, the list making, the logistics of getting to and from everywhere to everywhere else. And the training, always the training.

So I find myself wondering occasionally....why am I putting up blinds in the guestroom instead of riding the trainer?  Why am I sorting out knitting projects and organizing them into bins instead of riding outside (well, the 18mph winds had something to do with that one).  Why does buying my long coveted yellow flannel sheets seem more important than doing strength exercises?  

There's more, but you get the idea.  Some of the women are going all out with training and sometimes it makes me feel guilty, like I should be doing more of that too.  It isn't that I don't think it's a good idea, it's not even that I don't want to do it.  It's more than that.

Bringing my life into balance has been a long time coming and not always an easy journey.  A demanding career, raising a family, then serious health issues in the family took priority for a long time.  The first five years after I retired there wasn't much time for figuring out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  Then going back to work for a few years delayed the process even longer.  After that, there were some years of exploring a variety of enthusiasms.  Knitting, spinning, weaving and then cycling were, and are, a part of all that.  

Somewhere along the way, I lost track of my home, my house.  It was constantly being rearranged to suit various and sundry needs, but never seemed to get put back together very well.  It was getting away from me.  Finally I hired Kim, wonderful Kim, and slowly, she and I are working our way through the clutter and neglect to the home that lay underneath.

THAT is why I am putting up blinds, and fluffing pillows and ordering sheets.  That is why I am making time for friends.  It's why I am refinishing a chair - right next to the temporarily idle trainer.  I am learning to make a whole life, a life and a home that I want to come back to when the tour is over.  It's part of the reentry process and it's all good.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Reality sinks in

I have known for a long time that this tour would be a BIG thing.  I knew it would be expensive.  I knew it would be hard.  I knew it would be exciting.  I knew it would be rewarding.  I knew all those things, how many miles, how many days, how many rest stops, how many places I might expect to be greeted by friends and family.  I knew it was a once in a lifetime experience.

I have planned carefully for my husband, whose health is somewhat fragile, to be home alone with the dog and the cats.  The freezer will be stocked, the larder will be full.  Friends will keep him engaged and alleviate his loneliness. He was a househusband for 20 years, so he knows how to manage things.  He will have a car (unlike on some of my shorter trips) and be able to go anywhere, do anything he wishes. There is email, texting and Skype.  That is all under control.

And today it hit me.  In six weeks I will be leaving home for TWO MONTHS.  I have been away from home for that long before, but not for quite a while and under completely different circumstances.  For two months, I will not be reading the local news.  I will not be knitting with my friends.  I won't be riding bikes with Susan and Dan or chatting on the phone with Doris.  I won't be tripping over the cats  or have a big Maremma head leaning against my shoulder as I sit at the computer.  I won't be sleeping in my own bed or eating at my own table.

Having been through it before, I know what that "out of the loop" feels like.  Even in this very electronically connected age, I will be "disconnected" from my real life into a world where little exists but riding bikes and spending time with new friends.  It will be a lot of things, a lot of wonderful things, but it won't be my real life.  And my real world will go on without me in it, and when I return there will be a period of re-entry.  

Reentry is a rather otherworldly feeling, a rather detached view of things.  I want to use it to reassess what is important to me, develop new habits and patterns, and really appreciate "my" world.  That may also be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Monday, January 14, 2013


That pretty well describes my relationship with the trainer.

I love that it lets me ride my bike when the weather isn't cooperative.  I love that it lets me maintain my fitness level without having to leave my house.  I love that I can watch movies while I ride.  I loved being able to rearrange and adjust my bike fittings just the way I wanted/needed them. is still riding to nowhere.  It still is, literally, a pain in the butt.  It still means that I'm not actually moving.

Until I got the trainer, I really didn't understand what it was that really addicted me to cycling.  Now I know.  I love the exercise and the companionship and the getting fitter as I age, but what really gets me is the going somewhere.  Having a destination, reaching it, and returning home safely under my own power. 

 That's what's missing on the trainer, and that's what I crave.  This bike tour will give me that in spades and the trainer will help me be ready for it.  Love/hate -  two sides of the same coin

Friday, January 11, 2013

Wondering, worrying, moving on

Today is the kind of day that makes me concerned about the bike tour. 

Today, even though the weather is okay, I really don't want to ride my bike and I'm not quite sure why.

Could be that I need more sleep, could be that I should (but am not) doing other things that need to be done.  Could be a low energy level for any number of other reasons.  Could be that I need some "me" time that's not on the bike.  Could even be that because I SHOULD be riding as much as possible, I am resisting it - I never have done well with "should". 

The worrisome part is that I could, and probably will, have this kind of day while I am on the tour.  How will I deal with it then?  There will always be the SAG option, but I'm not sure that would be helpful, it might even add to the general funk.  So....I need to find ways to deal with it.

I know that not having the distractions of normal life will help.   At least at the beginning of the trip, adrenaline will do its thing.   I am counting on the energy and enthusiasm of my fellow riders to carry me through some rough patches.  Maybe even just being in the habit of riding will help. Maybe just getting on the bike will do it.  From reading past trip blogs, I know that everyone reaches a point where they just want the trip to be OVER.  I'm just hoping that it doesn't happen to me until we are at least in Louisiana. 

I am trying to be proactive about dealing with these feelings.  The other kind of spinning is part of my strategy.  I had some silk fiber custom dyed with colors evocative of America the Beautiful and I am hoping to be able to spin a little bit of it on each day of the tour.  When I get home and spin the rest, I will make yarn and knit a shawl in the Traveling Woman

Pretty, yes? 

Credit:  Silk fiber dyed by WoolieBullie on Etsy
              Tibetan spindle by SpinDizzyChick onEtsy

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Still learning

I think everyone should be able to comment now.  Not sure about the feeds.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sixty days.......

....and counting.  Time seems to be going so fast and yet, I seem to be no closer to being "ready".  I am realizing that there are few, or at least fewer, gains to be made in strength, fitness, endurance.  Where I am now is probably fairly close to where I will be in 60 days. The main goal now is to not lose anything.

I will continue to ride as much as I can on the trainer and, hopefully, outside.  I will continue to do some upper body work.  I will not obsess, I will not drive myself to the point that it isn't FUN anymore. 

My lists grow more detailed and the shape of my travels clearer.  More and more, I can picture myself leaving home and traveling to San Diego - everything after that is still a hazy dream.  Right now I am not even trying to think beyond the first few days of riding, those days I know I can do.  Everything after that will be a new challenge.  New hills, new distances, new weather. 

I have faced and met big challenges in the past and for each and every one of them I had doubts and concerns.  Right now I would be worried if I wasn't worried.  Mild to moderate anxiety produces the best performances, I am trying to keep that in mind.

Forward, always forward.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Thursday, January 3, 2013


For the first time in what seems like forever, I got to ride outside.  The temp was 35-40F, sunshine, minimal breezes.  I had been worried that the trainer just was not going to be enough to get me ready for the tour, I was particularly concerned about hills.

It took me a few minutes to get my bike handling skills back online and I warmed up quickly.  I was pleasantly surprised that the hills were no problem.  I only did a few small ones, nothing over 4% grade, but these are hills I have done before and I did them as well or better than on previous rides. 

All the adjustments and rearrangements worked well.  The new stem bag is perfect and the fenders are working well with no rubbing, I keep forgetting they are even there.  I guess I should try a puddle one of these days just for fun, but I think I'll wait until the puddles are something besides icy slush.

The trainer works - one less thing to worry about.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How did this come about?

Actually, it seems, a random series of events has gotten me where I am with cycling. 

Almost three years ago Paulette rode past my window, enjoying being on her bike and having fun.  It set me wondering if cycling might be the answer to my concerns about losing balance, muscle mass and core strength.  After due pondering, I got a Walmart Schwinn to try.  Could I ride a bike? Would I ride a bike? 

For the first week or so I had to drive my bike to an empty parking lot because I couldn't even get on the step-through frame without standing on a curb.  Surprisingly, I didn't lose my balance, I didn't fall.  I wasn't graceful and I had NO idea what to do with all the gears, but I could ride a bike.  And it was FUN!!!

I announced my new purchase on Ravelry - a social networking site for people interested in fiber arts and Catherine invited me to join the Casual Cyclists group (there's a group for everything on Ravelry).  In that group I found lots of information, encouragement and advice.  Which led to my first "good" bike.

Buying that bike, a Trek 7300 WSD, led me to my local bike shop (LBS) and Chris, my bike guy.  Janice led me to Daily Mile where I learned to track my rides and that led me to some new friends and advisors.  The more experienced riders helped me figure out technical details and they became my biggest cheerleaders.  Ken sent me contact information for the local bike club and insisted that I call them. The bike club gave me the assistance and support I needed to expand my horizons and take on longer rides.  Dan and Susan became my riding companions.

Just a few months after buying my Miss Marple bike, I found out about WomanTours.  I drooled over their website for hours, and kept going back to the page about the Southern Tier.  I told my knitting friends about it and Barbara told me to put down the deposit.  So I did.  I figured the deposit would be a good motivator, if nothing else.  From that point on, ALL my decisions about cycling were made with the tour in mind.

A little serendipity, a lot of support from a lot of people...... a LOT Of support......and here I am.  Ready to go, scared to go, more excited than a 5 year old on Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New year, new adventures

New Year's day seems like a good time to add something new to my maybe a blog?  I always thought that as you got older, your life slowed down - that doesn't appear to be the case, at least not for me.

I'm starting the blog because I want to document a HUGE adventure - starting on March 7th, I will be riding my bicycle from San Diego, CA to St. Augustine, FL.  I will be traveling with about 30 other women on the WomanTours Southern Tier tour.

There are 65 more days before I leave home, hearth and husband behind to spend two months on two wheels.  I have been preparing for this for over two years now. The story of how I got here, and how much it surprises me, will unfold as time goes on.  Suffice it to say, I am very excited and more than a little overwhelmed as the enormity of this sinks in.