Sunday, September 22, 2013

Altering My Course

It has been a rough week for me.  I feel completely stupid and selfish for being concerned about my bike path when there are so many other pressing issues, but old habits die hard, too, and thinking I could not bike (and not getting to bike last weekend) really wore on me.  I've been watching the river recede, and everywhere I drive I'm trying to get a good look at the greenway that I can see.  It looks like any paved path that was parallel to the river, for the most part, survived mostly intact.  There are a few exceptions - at one place (Sunset Street) the river raged through a very narrow channel and took out the bridge, and most of the concrete.  In later pictures, the concrete is stacked up like plates 50 or so yards downstream.  Anywhere that the bike path bisected the river was completely obliterated.  The river made its own channels and paths downstream, and there are large pieces missing.  I hold out hope that repairs will not require a complete overhaul of the greenway, just repairing the sections that are damaged and replacing what is missing.  Still, I think it will be next summer before the path is back to what riders, walkers, and joggers need it to be.  I will miss seeing fall on the greenway, something I saw in great detail last fall.

So this week, I had to find somewhere else to bike.  McIntosh Lake, to the north of town, seemed like it might be a decent subsitute.  It is partially paved (about a third of it) with the rest being fine gravel.  It is a 3.5 mile ride if I do the whole circuit, about a third of what I was doing on the destroyed greenway.  The problem with a gravel route is that it is very hard on my bike, and hard also on my back side and my lower back.  I have a street bike, and that bumpy gravel path rattles and shakes my bike like nobody's business.  As sturdy as it is, this can't be good for it.  And three times around the same loop was -- shall I say it -- boring.  The other problem with this route is that it is much narrower than the greenway.  The greenway is 8-10 feet wide, the McIntosh lake route is about 5 feet wide.  There are a lot of walkers (with and without dogs) on it, and getting around them on a narrow path is dangerous for all of us.  I'm a little leery of doing this every weekend until the greenway is back in business.

So I am looking at alternatives.  There is a bike route near Garden Acres Park, which would add several blocks (and maybe 2.5 miles) to the route around McIntosh Lake.  If I started there, went around the lake, and then back to the park, it would be 6 miles.  If I did that twice, it would be 12 miles.  Upping my mileage is not a problem, as I was starting to feel the greenway was too easy at 10.5 miles.  So there is that.  I'm still looking for other ways to stay on a paved surface, but not on city streets or highways.  We'll see what I come up with.  For now, this will have to do.  I do need to start earlier in the morning, to avoid as much foot traffic as possible on the new route.  I've been getting lazy and getting out at 8 a.m. instead of 7.

In other news, my daughter and I started Zumba classes at FitChicks.  Zumba is this generation's Aerobics.  I had fun, and it was a decent workout, but I was so consumed by trying to figure out the moves that I didn't get as great a workout as I wished I did.  The classes are on Mondays and Wednesday nights, and we will keep doing them as long as we can stand it.  The Zumba plus two bike rides a week should help keep me losing weight and getting in better shape.  I cannot do any of the jumping with my compromised ankle, but I can still keep moving.  It may help me get through the long cold winter, too.  I still may join a gym too.  There will be days I won't be able to bike because of winter weather or just sheer cold.  I need to be prepared for that.

A shot of the bike path where it goes under Martin Street.  As you can see, it appears to be intact, just covered in mud and debris.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

You Can't Get There From Here

We have just lived through a 500-year flood in my town.  Much of the Front Range of the Rockies has been impacted by devastating flash floods from four days of rain that started at the Continental Divide and ended at our town.  9 inches of rain have caused the two major waterways in our town - St. Vrain River and Lefthand creek - to overflow.

The bike path I rode every weekend is now mostly destroyed.  Much of it is still under water, but what I can see of it is not passable.  I do not know where I will ride in the near future, as it will be a year or more before this trail is once again open.  It needs major rebuilding and repair, or maybe even re-routing, before it can be used again.

I do start Zumba classes this week, through FitChick Express in our town.  I don't know if it will be enough to make up for the lack of biking.  I cannot bike on streets or county roads, as they are too dangerous for bikers.  Most other bike paths have been devastated by the flooding, even in other towns.  I feel selfish and foolish being so upset about losing my bike path, when there are so many other bigger issues right now in my town, and in towns nearby.  Major infrastructure repairs will be needed just to make county roads passable. 

I wrote a big blog post about it at my other blog.  Feel free to check it out for more details and pictures.  I'm posting a picture below of what is left of some of the bike path.  The bridge looks to be intact, but the pavement and embankment on the other side, where they connected, is gone.  You can see where the pavement is still there.  That's where I would ride...across that bridge then up that pathway and on to the Airport.  There are at least three other bridges I crossed on those rides, and if I went east, towards Sandstone Ranch, there were a couple bridges there too.  I'm assuming much of the pavement is washed out, or the earth beneath them so degraded that they will need major repairs.  In some places of my path, I was riding ride alongside the river, only a foot or so higher than the river.  The river rose more than 15 feet, obliterating everything.  Scary.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Time for an Upgrade?

The other day, one of my student staff had a crash on his Trek bike.  He was tooling across campus on an errand for me, and was summarily run down by another student.  His front wheel looked like an accordion.  So I loaded his bike up on my bike rack and took it and him to the local Trek store, so they could put on a new wheel and tire, and check to be sure his frame wasn't bent.

While I waited for him to get finished so I could take him home, I wandered around the bike shop looking at all the awesome Trek bikes.  I adore my bike, and am very happy with the brand.  The last month or so, it has occurred to me that I may be needing an upgrade by spring. You see, I am running out of gears.  I max out at about 16 mph in 7th gear on my current Trek, the Women's Navigator 1.0.  I rarely go below 5th gear anymore, and never below 4th.  There are times when I'm cruising along that I really wish I had another two, three, or four gears to move into. 

There were plenty of pretty Trek bikes in the shop.  I touched tires and handlebars and looked at the myriad of colors.  The only thing that is stopping me right now is the price tag of a new Trek.

So after my ride yesterday, I took my Trek to the local Bike n' Hike, where my Trek was purchased.  They put air in the tires for me, and I talked to them about a tune-up.  I've had the bike for almost a year, and it's about time for it to have one.  Since I ride in wet and dry conditions, sometimes on pavement and sometimes not, a yearly tune-up is a necessity.  It is starting to make a little noise, where before it had been a virtually silent ride.  I scheduled a tune-up for the end of the month.

Then I asked the guy, the same one that sold me the Trek in the first place, about an upgrade.  I told him I was running out of gears.  He laughed.  The next step up has 27 gears, but it was ugly.  I can't have an ugly bike!  But that's what I need, more gears.  He said I could get more speed with smaller wheels and tires, but I don't want a skinny bike.  And I don't necessarily need additional speed, I just need better push to get to the speed I want.  And that will only come with more gears.

So perhaps I will save for an upgrade in the spring.  We'll see what the new models look like.  Because no matter what, I won't be on an ugly bike!

I wrote a blog post about my weight/size loss over on my other blog.  You might want to check it out!

Momilies Blog

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Falling Down

Sorry about the lack of a post last week.  I had family in town and we spent Sunday in the mountains, and I just didn't have the energy at bed time to try to put out a post.  I also only got one bike ride in, so I didn't have a lot to say.  This weekend is much less busy, and includes an extra Monday because of the Labor Day holiday, so I am chillaxing at the local coffee shop for the afternoon. 

There's a phrase I use pretty often, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall."  I know the phrase means something else, but to me, it means because I'm big, and because I'm tall, when I fall, I fall hard. And I fall quite a bit, and always have.  I blame it on my big feet, my lack of a decent sense of balance, but mostly, because I'm big.  There's that whole gravity thing going on.

After lunch yesterday, I rode my bike to downtown, about 9 blocks or so, to drop off some knitted dollies my mother had made to the Yarn Store.  On Thursday nights, a small group gets together and knits dollies for kids in oncology wards, and while my mom was in town, she went to help.  She didn't finish her projects, so she took them with her, and when she finished them, she mailed them to me.  So I rode down to drop them off, and stop at the Bulk Store to pick up some Basmati Rice, which I can't seem to find anywhere else.  It is actually quicker to bike downtown than it is to drive and find a parking place, so it is really a no-brainer when I just need to make a quick trip downtown.  On these short trips, I sometimes wear my helmet and sometimes not.  I know, bad girl.

And I was reminded on the way back how important it is for me to wear my helmet.  Every single time.  I had to stop at a stop sign and wait for cross traffic, and ended up being a bit too close to the curb on my left.  When I tried to move my foot over to get better balance, I and my bike fell over.  No, I wasn't hurt, I'm pretty well padded, but there was quite a bit of traffic and therefore witnesses.  And after I got up and dusted myself off and got back on the bike, I realized I should really be wearing my helmet.  You just never really know, and I'd rather be safe than sorry.

So today, as I rode to the cafe about seven blocks from the house, you can bet I was wearing my helmet.