Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Biking Day is Always a Good Day

This morning's 9 mile ride was under cloudy skies but with humidity, which means I worked up a good sweat even though it was only in the 60's.  It was early enough on a holiday weekend that there just weren't a lot of people out.  I like it when I have the trail to myself, but since I'm riding in remote areas (although they are paved) it does leave me open to encountering unfriendly wildlife.

So far, that hasn't happened, and I do try not to ride too early or too late in the day, when there will be fewer people and therefore more chance of encountering a problem I can't handle on my own.

This past Friday was my 11 year old daughter's first day off school for the summer, so she went with me.  That meant a bit of a slower ride than I normally do, but we still did 10 miles and she did awesome.  There are a lot of "land mines" in the form of goose poop all over the trail this time of year, and she kept saying "So much poo!!" while riding behind me.  I taught her to avoid the wet piles, and worked with her some more on how to downshift when her legs got achy.  She's getting it, slowly but surely.  She will ride with me most Fridays this summer, until she goes back to school in August.  It will be as good for her as it is for me!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Obstacle Course

Some days, it's harder to bike than others.  If it's windy, then it's virtually impossible for non-aero-dynamic me to ride against it.  If it is too hot, I melt.  If it's raining, I get wet.

You get the idea.

But some things can be overcome.  It is Canada goose mating season.  We have a lot of them around here to begin with, and unlike the ones in Missouri, these are skittish and don't attack.  They tend to get out of the way when they see a walker or a rider coming.  But these geese poop.  A LOT.  And they don't care where they poop.  There are places along the trail that are so covered with poop it's hard to avoid the little piles of mush gushy mess.  I try not to run over fresh ones, as it flings it everywhere, but most notably up my backside, as my bike doesn't have fenders.  Right now there are multiple places long the trail where there is more goose poop than open concrete.  A hazard, for sure.

Then there are the bits of road kill.  This morning it was a bird, and then a frog.  Ew. 

But the worst are the water hazards.  Spring snowmelt is occurring now, and the St. Vrain River, which borders the trail I ride, is very full, and moving very quickly.  In places where they've built pedestrian underpasses for us to ride/walk through so we don't have to cross busy streets, the water is very near the trail.  In one place, it was over the trail completely.  I saw some bikers go ahead and go through it, but remember that whole riding in the rain thing above?  Yeah, not cool.  So I went across the road instead.  Minor inconvenience.

The weather here has been spectacular, and as I like to say, "Never waste a nice day."  I've been getting three 10+ mile bike rides in every weekend.  I'm tired, but it feels good to push myself that way, and I can honestly say I get more exercise than most people I know.  And honestly?  More exercise than I've gotten since I was a teenager.  It feels good.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Stretching, and Biking

Read the other day that stretching may not make any difference in your risk of injury during a workout.  While a bit of a warmup is helpful to get your blood flowing and getting you in the mood to get started on your workout, a large amount of stretching does not keep you from hurting yourself when over-doing your exercise.  This is good information to know.

I got in two bike rides this weekend, and three last weekend.  I do have to force myself to go, but always enjoy the experience once I've done it.  Today I put in considerable time in my vegetable garden raking and weeding and mulching before I biked, so making myself go after all that was hard.

But it was so worth it.

As spring comes to Colorado, each week means I get to see new things.  More and more water fowl are migrating to our area lakes and reservoirs.  This weekend brought the return of the fresh water pelican.  These enormous creatures have a nearly 5-foot wingspan, and cruise through the skies like gliders, their black-tipped wings a vivid contrast to their generally snow-white color.  When they paddle around the water, they move in a rhythmic way, unlike ducks and geese.  You can see their legs and feet moving just beneath them, and they rock forward and back with each paddle of their giant feet.  They are not adept at walking, and plod along, leaning side to side as they go.  They are most elegant when flying.  Unlike the geese and ducks, they make no sound that I've heard.  They dip their beaks into the water and back out, I imagine eating vegetation as well as small fish.  In addition to the pelicans, there are white cranes, and blue herons, and at least four types of ducks, not all of which I can identify.  The Canada geese are now paired off, and beginning to nest.  I have not seen goslings as of yet. 

But the most remarkable thing I think I've heard is the frogs.  I have not heard frogs since I left Missouri, and I had forgotten how cheerful they sound.  I've heard them in two places, both of which were around ditches.  I'm not talking about the ditches that run alongside the road to capture rainwater and take it away.  Ditches here are man-made waterways that curve through farm fields to supply irrigation in the summer.  I have no idea what kind of frogs these would be, but I love listening to them.  It makes me remember the time we had a frog infestation at our house in Missouri, and they would croak and creak all night long.  If you went into our back yard with a flashlight and shined it on the back of the house, the wall would be covered with them. 

I like to say these bike rides, which are about 10 miles, are what keep me sane.  It is a way for me to burn off some of my frustrated energy, to work off anxiety, and to work off some calories.  I have not lost any weight, or size, for that matter, but I feel better, stronger, and have more stamina.  My knees are still working it out, however, and after a ride they hurt much worse than they did when I started.  But I know that will get better with time.  As the nights stay light later, I may be able to get bike rides in during the week, instead of having to wait until the weekends to do two or three rides in a row.  As it stands now, I'm getting better about not having to chug slowly along in third gear the whole time; I can often get to fifth and sixth gear, and sometimes even to seventh if there is a slight downhill.  This helps the rides go a bit faster, and if they can go faster, then I'll be able to add miles to make them longer.

When I bike, I go for at least an hour, with a small break in the middle for a piece of fruit and to just enjoy the scenery.  Now that it's almost Monday, I will be sad that I'll have to wait until at least Friday before I can bike again.  But then again, having it to look forward to makes all the difference in how I am able to get through my week of work and housework and just general lifework.  It's totally worth it to get to Friday!