Friday, April 29, 2016

I earned my "green belt" in bike riding!

     I've told you I started training for the bike to the bay, and my first ride on the University Parks trail was a reminder of just a few of the things that could go wrong on a bike ride.  But that was only the beginning of what I had to re-learn after a winter away from the trails.  It might be just like riding a bike, but I found myself re-training a lot of my muscles all over again.

     This ride was on the Green Belt Parkway;  on the out skirts of downtown Toledo.
          As you can see, part of this trail looked very much like a bike trail...

     But it wasn't long before we would be leaving that traditional flat bike trail for one that is more of an obstacle course than anything. 
     This trail went under I 280 and it was quite a challenge dodging the rocks in our path, as well as the broken glass that was a result of broken bottles thrown from passing motorists...
          The biggest challenge, however, was re-training my muscles that help me climb steep hills.  Even though I've been strength training all winter, the muscles that help me with the huge inclines must have been in hibernation, because it was a workout like no other...  Going under the interstate meant that the hill that took me barreling downwards had also left me with the tedious job of climbing back up. 
     As much of a challenge as this ride was; it was also a really cool experience to be riding under the interstate!
     And the next thing I knew I found myself riding on the Craig Street Bridge, over the Maumee River...  
     I love a great bike trail filled with flowers and wild life; but I also love the challenges this urban setting gave me.
     I certainly earned my "green belt" on this Green Belt Parkway, and I was more than ready to face my next challenge.  Though there is one thing I'm starting to realize; and that is bike trails are a lot like every day of my life... I'm never certain how it's going to go; but when it's over I find myself thankful for the lesson!

Have a great day!!


Friday, April 22, 2016

There's a bike ride... and then there's a bike ride!!

          After our snow storm last week I was happier than a pig in mud to finally get out on a bike trail again.  My first "real" bike ride of the season was on the University Parks Trail, which stretches from the University of Toledo all the way to King road in Sylvania.  Many bike trails run along railways; most of them no longer used by trains.  This trail is no exception; however, this day there was actually a train sitting idle on the track.  This was very rare to see and I made sure to take pictures of of it.
     My cousin down in Florida mentioned he was going on a bike ride that day as well and told me he would send pics.  The picture at the top of the page was what I sent him and I thought the train in the background was a nice touch...

     Well, the picture below was the one he sent me...  now this is a bike ride!!

          I guess this was a case of what you don't know won't hurt you.  The fact that I had a nice sunny warm day and three other people to take the ride with me was more than enough to make it a great ride:)
     I told you I have my safe parks, and then the bike trails that I save for times that I have riding buddies just in case... well this day was a "just in case" day...

     You can see the trail was swarming with others who had the same idea as I did.  I know they say it's just like riding a bike... but for some reason that first real ride of the season doesn't always go as smoothly as I would like.  

     Looking below you might see someone who is very seasoned and invincible on the trails.
        But someone needs to tell my crazy brain that...

     I managed to make it all the way to the end of the trail unscathed; but on the way back was when it started getting "interesting".  

    By mid season my brain and I usually have the start-ups at intersections thing figured out, but this was the first time of the season, and we weren't on the same page yet... 

         I sometimes get lucky and time the traffic lights perfect and never break my stride.  But this time I was forced to stop.  Of course, when the walk light began to flash and I began to cross the intersection my stubborn leg didn't get the memo.  As I was half way across my brain told my right foot to get on the peddle but instead it pushed the pedal backwards, forcing me to stop dead in my tracks, right in the middle of the intersection. I had to put both feet down, bring the left pedal back up and start over.

     I know the people in the cars watching me were yelling "What the heck is she doing?? She obviously knows how to ride a bike!! I mean, she has all the gear..."

     I'm thinking about wearing a sign that says "caution, this cyclist makes random stops in the middle of the intersection for absolutely no apparent reason..."

     So after I made my way to the other side of the intersection, and tucked my heart back into my chest, I figured the rest of the ride would surely be smooth sailing.

You would think but no...
     As I attempted to change gears so I could catch the others my chain jumped the ring.  As you know, if the chain comes off you can pedal all you want, but the bike goes nowhere.  But trying not to break my stride I gave it a try... now I found myself with a chain wedged between the rings and it was my riding buddies who also had to break their stride.  But this is why riding buddies are a good thing...

     All in all I would say this ride could have gone worse, and the good news is I'm now prepared for all the other mishaps that come up down the road.

     I was just glad to finally get back out on a real bike ride again and as we know, it isn't a true bike ride without a great story.  And this my friends... was a bike ride!

Have a great day!!


Friday, April 15, 2016

Everyone's an athlete; even if it's all in your head.

     If you live anywhere north and east of the Mississippi River I don't need to tell you last weekend was a rude awakening, when we got pummeled with upwards of seven inches of snow in some areas, and it was the middle of freak'n April!  What?!?!  But if you don't live there you also knew all about it because social media was infiltrated with pictures to prove it.

     I, for one, can tell you, I am sick and tired of winter! And If I have to get up one more day and do my workout inside rather than getting out on a bike trail I think I'll scream!  But I did it... and no, I didn't... (scream)

     After I argued with myself about how much I hate to get up and do my treadmill and strength training every single day, and it's not fair... I just got up and did it.

     Ironically, I still think of myself as very athletic.  The days of rollarblading, running and walking the golf course with my bag on my back are distant memories, but in my dreams they are still very real.  In fact, I have turned in my physical athlete card, and replaced it with a mental one.

     For a very long time I've been playing mind games with myself; trying to convince my brain to let my stubborn side take the driver seat, while battling the muscle loss MS causes; and maybe, just maybe, I'll still be strong enough on the day they finally announce that they now have a way to repair the damage this crazy monster has done to my poor little brain.  But this battle of the wills goes on every single day.  

      Last Saturday when I got up and discovered that untimely blanket of snow, I knew it meant once again riding the bike trails would be put on hold, and I would have to force myself to continue to workout indoors, day after day, until the weather clears.

     Fortunately, the rain came in Sunday and the snow was short lived... Not to be a complainer, but rain isn't good for bike rides either...

     However, when the rain ended and the snow was almost gone, the weather was still a far cry from what I consider prime for a bike ride.  Though the geese didn't seem to mind...

       The spring flowers refused to give in, even if mother nature was playing tricks on them, and with any luck I will actually get out on a bike trail this weekend!
     Whether I ride outside, or force myself to do that eternal, dreaded, indoor workout, this mind game is one sport I will continue play, day after day for as long as it takes, because when I ask myself that daily question "why do I have to get up and work out every. single. day!?"  My answer is always  "because right now... I can!!:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, April 8, 2016

Pink isn't just a color; it's an attitude!

     I had high hopes for getting back out on those bike trails this past week; but good old mother nature played a great April fools joke on all of us, and my bike and I would have to wait just a little longer.

     So this seemed like the perfect opportunity to explain my crazy obsession with the color pink; not that I need an excuse to be crazy:)

     Pink just so happens to be my "Super Power"!  This comment in and of it's self sounds like the words of a true crazy woman... but hear me out...

     I've lived with MS incognito for many years, and to the human eye I appeared as normal as the next girl.  but as this monster started throwing wrenches into the fire, making my life seem less than normal, I had to try my hardest to find a way to adjust.

     My days of red high heels were soon over and replaced  by black "practical shoes".  The big black brace on top of my gray nerve zapper, wrapped around my leg, made any hopes of becoming a runway model a thing of the past. Of course, at 5'2" I think the cards were already stacked against me:)

    I knew looking elegant was becoming more and more unrealistic, but I didn't want my identity to revolve solely around all of my bionic devices (of course, it would make me the Bionic Woman....).  but I do know one thing for certain; the color pink always puts a smile on my face; and though a smile might not be the iconic sign of elegance, it has a way of making anyone look "cute":) 
     There's no doubt that frogs have the biggest smile around, so pink and frogs just makes perfect sense!
And their smile goes from ear to ear...

     It' true that I might walk and feel just like the tin man at times, but I throw on pink and I become wonder woman:)

          So where do the "super powers" come in??  Have you ever passed someone who was smiling and not smiled back!?  Magic!!

     With all the trees that have fallen in my path, my pink gives me the confidence to face them head on.
     And at the end of the day, there is always a way to get past those obstacles.

       I'm beginning to wonder if Spring will ever be here to stay, but as soon as the nice weather finally decides to surface again, I plan to hit one of my favorite trails, the Wabash Cannonball.  And when I do, I can promise you two things... 
I'll be wearing pink... and a smile!!

Have a great day!!


Friday, April 1, 2016

All I needed was a helmet; who needs legs!?

     This is the look of one very naive' girl.  Who would have known almost three years ago I would be trading my legs in for a bike...

     Above you'll see the very first picture of me with my shinny new helmet, after I decided to ride in the bike to the bay; and this was also the beginning of my new found love of cycling. Who needs legs anyway...:)

     And this was my old "comfort bike" when I started training; jeans, a T-shirt and five miles was my limit.

          I was pretty proud of myself when I hit the university parks trail for the very first time with my "bike attire" (Hey, it was a step in the right!?)

     And in this picture below... I may not have looked like a ninja; though I sure felt like one!  I planned to take on this mission head on!

     But that very first Bike to the Bay made me realize that it didn't matter what I looked like.  In fact, in this picture below, with wearing that nerve zapper on my leg, I feel like I looked more like an inmate out in a prison yard than a cyclist (though that goofy outfit would have made me a serious target for a good pummeling...).

          The serious rider will tell you that the ride is all about being arrow dynamic.  For this you need the lightest bike, perfect bike shorts, as well as a professional bike jersey.

     I consider myself serious for sure; but the only thing I'm serious about is that one day I will put MS in it's place!

                           Who needs legs anyway!!!

Have a great day!!