Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Going to St. Louis

Sorry I haven't had much to report as of late.  It looks like the only exercise I'm going to get this week is by raking leaves.  Wet leaves, mind you, so some muscle will necessarily be involved.  ;)

Image from here.

However, this weekend, the hubby and I are venturing to St. Louis.  He's the best man in a long time friend's wedding.  We'll have some time free on Friday before the rehearsal, so I'm hoping to explore Forest Park and see the Arch.  That should involve a good amount of walking, so at least I won't be on my butt ALL weekend.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fall color at work

I couldn't resist taking some photos of the trees outside my office window.  It's been raining and gray for the past few days, but at least the leaves are pretty.

And courtesy of Yehuda:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bike Friendly Grand Rapids

A Bike Friendly City

When I saw this headline referring to Grand Rapids, I thought, "What?  Really?  Not a single bike lane and we get named a bike friendly city?"

Grand Rapids is "one of 15 cities to earn the title this fall from the League of American Bicyclists."

But as I read the article's explanation about improving conditions for cyclists and the hundreds of miles of bike paths that already exist in and around the city, I said, "OK...yah.  You're right!  We are making progress around here.  Awesome!"

Keep it up Grand Rapids!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Neighborhood fall colors

I had to capture some of the fall colors around my house before they fade away.  I love the bright oranges and reds!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cycling bloggers swoop on Chicago

My trip to Chicago this weekend was a wonderful whirlwind!

The trip began Friday night with five people and one bicycle piled into one car for a three and a half hour drive to northern Chicago.  Those five people then packed themselves into one hotel room for six short hours of sleep before embarking on their various adventures.

Early Saturday morning, while my husband and our friends got ready for a Magic the Gathering tournament, I woke myself and my bike and took a shuttle to O'Hare airport where I boarded the blue line train into the city.  I got off the train to ride my bike a couple miles through construction and light morning traffic to reach the terminus of the brown line.  Finally getting off of the Southport stop, I was greated by a sight that made me smile - a bike lane!

I sat down at Ann Sather, the shop under the El bridge with the orange canopy.  I got a cup of coffee and read my new copy of Mountain Biking while I waited for Dottie of Let's Go Ride a Bike and Elisa of Bike Skirt to arrive.  When they came through the door, I recognized them right away! 

It was a pleasant suprise to also meet Mr. Dottie, Elisabeth from Bike Commuters and Braxton and Ashley visiting from Alabama.

We had to partake of Ann Sather's famous cinnamon rolls.

It was so strange and wonderful to me to be known by people I've never met in person.  And this was the first time that I've met some of the inspiring people that I feel like I've gotten to know through the online cycling community.  Over our omlettes and crab cakes, we talked bike commuting, racing, blogging, life...  We come from all over the country, but we share so many experiences.  And I know I have learned from these cycling blogger women, too.

After breakfast, Elisa had to get on the train to head home.  But Dottie, her husband, Elisabeth and I hopped on our bikes.  The cycling Chicagoans served as very gracious tour guides as they showed me the Lakeshore Trail and stopped every five minutes to take pictures.  One of the nice things about hanging out with other bloggers is that we all want to record the highlights of our experience in photos to post on our blogs!

At the end of the Lakeshore Trail, we discovered a cute path covered in a tunnel of trees near the Navy Pier.  The Dotties had never seen it before, so it was exciting to check it out...and of course, take more pictures.

Then it was time for me to meet my college friend, Melissa, for a trip to a pumpkin farm.  At this point, I could have consulted my maps and found the nearest subway stop, but Elisabeth took the lead, and we wove our bikes through the busy Chicago streets right to my friend's door.

I truly had a wonderful time with my fellow cycling bloggers in the windy city.  I had a huge smile plastered to my face as I rode along Lake Michigan taking in the cityscape and hearing the stories of how they each fell in love with cycling.  All of our conversation about riding in the winter and attempting to ride my bike in street clothes instead of my normal bike shorts and jerseys was inspiring.  I think I might commute to work more this winter - layered in my comfy wool sweaters and long coat.  I might have to pick up some of those studded tires, though.

As the day continued, I went to the Bengtson's Pumpkin Farm with Melissa and some friends and ended up tagging along with them to see Seinfeld do his live standup show at the Rosemont Theater.  Then, Melissa and her boyfriend helped me find the impossibly hidden comic shop where the rest of my GR crew had played Magic all day.  We once again loaded up the car for the cramped but smooth drive home to Grand Rapids.

Le'ts do it again soon!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"I got out..."

I got out for a 12.75 mile bike ride last night.  It wasn't very eventful other than the fact that I had to dress for 50 degree weather, and I cheered a local cross country team as they ran along side me down the Southbelt Trail.  But it was wonderful just getting out for a ride.

"I got out for a ride."  I realized today that I use that phrase a lot.  I got out for this ride, or I got out for that run.  It got me thinging about why those particular words come to mind when I think about my workouts.

I think the significance of the phrase is a combination of things:
  • "I got out for a ride" like "I got to go out for a ride..."  It's a joy and a priviledge - a gift - to ride.
  • "I got out for a run" like "I made it out for a run..."  It's an accomplishment to carve the time out of my schedule - a goal met - to run.
  • "I got out for a ride" like "I got out for a ride..."  I escaped the normal routine of the day and the confines of the climate-controlled, chair-dominated indoors to ride.  I got out the door with my arms raised in a hug for the sky (especially when the sun is in it!) and a big, silly grin on my face.
I feel a little bit of all of these things when I get out for a workout.  I feel free, strong, healthy and happy.  No wonder I keep doing this stuff.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Winter is coming: how to stay motivated?

You know, I complain about the proverbial 9 months of winter here in Michigan - the stretch of the year that feels impossibly long under sunless skies and bitter winds...and icy roads.  But I realized today that I started biking this year in March.  I couldn't ride everyday, but I was able to start getting my outdoor exercise fix.

In reality, that means I have been able to ride and run outside for the past 8 months.  It's been one of the best summers of my life for outdoor athletic adventures!  I've tried tons of new things and met some great people.  Furthermore, next March is now only 5 months away. feels like an eternity of Michigan misery is fast approaching.

The thing that's truly kept me motivated this summer is trying new things.  I got my first road bike in March, and that had me geeked for weeks!  Then I set the goal to complete a century in June, and I trained enthusiastically for that.  My interest lulled slightly after that, but to re-motivate myself I decided to do a second century in July.  After that ride, my activity definitely tapered off to about once a week for a month or so until I set the goal to do the duathlon at the end of September.  Now, running is interesting to me because it's new again and I've seen progress in my fitness.  And last night, I finally responded to a curiosity I've had all summer; I went to the gym and swam.  It was hard, but it got me thinking that maybe I really can do a triathlon.  I'd feel really proud of myself, If I completed one.  I could say to myself, "I'm a triathlete."

So now I have this new goal and the tri season is already over.  I guess I'll have to use training over the winter for an early summer tri to keep the seasonal depression at bay.

But it's a long time before spring.  It'll be easy to get lazy when I don't want to go outside, let alone drive to the gym.  But I'm kind of excited right now to find creative ways to keep myself motivated to exercise over the winter months - spin class, weight lifting, indoor mini-tris...attempts to manufacture variety with the same old gym equipment.  Maybe even going outside to ski.

I'd love to hear about other people's techniques for keeping yourself moving in the winter.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Going to Chicago

I realized yesterday that I spent a solid week after the duathlon not exercising.  Not because I was worn out or anything.  I was just busy.  I finished painting a room in my house, which is great, and attempted to cut my grass but kept getting thwarted by the rain.  It's still not done.

By Sunday I was getting antsy to move, so I got outside again for a good run.  I planned on running 3 miles.  At the halfway point, I checked my watch and realized that I had gone about 13 minutes.  If I kept up the pace, I could do 3 miles in 26 minutes, which isn't too bad for me.  Well, the pace felt hard, and I wanted to stop, but I felt like I kept it up anyway. 

In the end, I picked up the pace quite a bit, apparently, because I finished in 24:40 (8:20 mile pace).  I must admit, that the route is probably a little less than 3 miles.  Even so, I'm incredibly happy that I can still run at a decent pace (for me, anyway).  Not my high school best - and certainly nowhere near competitive - but not bad.  As always, running longer miles makes the shorter runs fly.

In exciting news, the hubby and I are going to Chicago this weekend so he can play in a card tournament.  The moment I heard about the plan, I was geeked to tag along!  While the hubby and his friends play all day Saturday, I've got free time in the city to meet Dottie of Let's Go Ride a Bike!  It turns out that Elisa of Bike Skirt is also going to be in town, so the three of us may be able to all meet in person for some stylish-girls-on-bikes fun.  I can't wait!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bicycles in Historic Detroit

Trisha of Let's Go Ride a Bike did a post today featuring historic pictures of Nashville that showed bicycles in the city around the turn of the 20th century. She found the photos on a site called

She inspired me to do a search on Shorpy for Detroit and see if I could find any bikey goodness. There were rail cars, motor cars, hand carts, even horses and buggies in a lot of the street pictures, but bikes were few and hard to find. It seems that Detroit has truly been the "Motor City" since the days of Henry Ford himself.

I did find a couple cool bike shots that I thougth I'd share. The first is a picture of the Majestic Building around 1890.

I had to zoom way in to the full sized view to find the bicycles, but they're in there!

I also found this cute picture of a little boy from the 1960's in his cowboy costume riding his trusty red tricycle steed. Then I realized this photo is from California, but I thought I'd include it here anyway. I like the bright red wagon, the yellow hat and the blue sky.

I wonder if the city of Detroit or its suburbs have seen more bike riders. As a native of Redford Township, a suburb bordering Detroit to the west, I would guess that the suburbs had more bike traffic - mostly kids getting to friends' houses and summer jobs. But even in Redford it was incredibly rare to see someone cycling on a main road.