Top Ten Most Annoying Things That Happen During A Bike Ride

Biking on a country road without a shoulder can be scary if drivers decide that they don't want to give you a wide birth.

Biking on a country road without a shoulder can be scary if drivers decide that they don’t want to give you a wide birth.

Okay, so when I first started riding my bike on the road I was a very passive rider.  I realized that I was the idiot who didn’t know anything about cycling.  I did my best to stay out of everyone’s way: cars, pedestrians, other cyclists and even stationary objects (those seemed to suddenly pop up out of nowhere).  I couldn’t even stop and get my feet off the pedals without falling over.  I tried to find roads without a lot of traffic and I only road during times of the day when traffic was lightest.

Now I have no choice but to get out there and ride whenever I can and wherever I can.  I actually enjoy riding and I am definitely more confident about what I am doing.  I am even to the point where I get annoyed by the little things.  Here is my list of the top ten things that annoy me.  Obviously this is based on my personality so you may or may not agree, but feel free to comment and share what annoys you the most.

#10:  Thinking you are prepared to ride for a certain temperature until you get on the bike and actually start pedaling.  Lately, I have been underdressed for freezing wind.  I think it will be fine after I ride for a mile or two, but then after 10 miles I realize that I should have gone back for warmer clothes.

#9:  Realizing that you forgot something halfway through your ride.  I almost always forget to bring tissues and I really need those during this time of year.  My gloves are the tissue replacement so they are covered in snot by the time I am done with the ride.

#8:  Dropping your water bottle mid-ride.  Yeah, they don’t exactly make it easy to put your water bottle back in the bracket while you are trying to keep your eyes on the road.  A few times I have had to stop and go back for a dropped water bottle (luckily they have managed to stay intact and avoid being run over).

#7:  Following a nice road with a nice bike lane that suddenly ends and turns into a road with no shoulder.  I have to make the last minute decision to either continue on and let cars go into the oncoming lane in order to avoid me or just turn around and find another bike-friendly road.

#6:  Crappy roads.  Bumpy roads are not good for biking.  Cracks are hazardous and hurt my rear.  And who had the idea to put manhole covers in the middle of the bike lane?

#5:  Dogs without leashes roaming the neighborhoods.  They may act like they are going to stay in the yard, but not when they see some fresh meat cruising by.  Hey, if I crash into your dog it ain’t my fault.  I was just trying to defend myself.  The same goes for squirrels.  They really do like to play chicken.

#4:  Pedestrians that insist on taking up the whole width of a multi-use trail.  Besides having to yell loudly, I usually have to slow down because of course it will be my fault if I crash into them.

#3:  Drivers who insist on getting as close to you as they can even if no one is in the oncoming lane.  Come on, how hard is it to move over??  I always give a wide birth to cyclists!

#2:  Street sweepers that push the gravel and salt into the bike lane instead of all the way to the curb.  Then drivers get upset if I am not riding in the bike lane because of all the rubble in the bike lane.  Either I ride next to the bike lane or you get a rock flying from my tire to your windshield.

#1:  Stoplights.  Most stoplights are not bike-friendly.  Meaning that if you sit at one of them for a very long time they will not change unless a car is present.  This is soooo very annoying to me because people expect you to follow the rules of the road like a vehicle yet they force you to get off your bike to push a pedestrian button!   Screw that, especially when I am in the left hand turn lane.  I am not getting off my bike and walking over to the sidewalk just so I can get across the road.  It is just my luck that I go through all of that trouble when a car suddenly pulls up out of nowhere and the light changes before I can even get back on my bike.  I just stop and look both ways.  If I don’t see any cops in sight, then I bike through the red light to get to the other side.

The Uglies of Fitness

My second most worn pair of shoes (after my running shoes of course).  These are stylish, right?

My second most worn pair of shoes (after my running shoes of course). These are stylish, right?

You obviously know by now that I like to run, bike, swim (well, it isn’t my favorite activity), lift weights, get my booty kicked in boot camp and enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities.  Mostly, I do these activities because they make me happy.  If I go for too long without any physical activity then I become agitated and depressed.  I also enjoy doing these activities because they open up endless possibiities for meaningful friendships.  I met most of my closest friends through running.  Fitness also helps me stay fit and healthy so I can hopefully live a longer life.  And lastly (yes, it is last on the list), I do it because I want to look good.

Looking good isn’t always the outcome, however.  Sometimes ugliness can result.  Two years ago my fourth toe on the right foot turned black.  Two months later the nail finally fell off.  Pretty much one year later the SAME toe turned black again.  Another two months later the nail fell off.  Now that SAME toe has a very ugly toenail that isn’t growing properly.  I can pretty much forget getting a pedicure EVER AGAIN.  Not only that, but the big toe on the SAME foot has been black for the past month (but that was caused by a fall down the stairs… however, I was on my way out the door to go for a run!).

So, I wear socks.  When summer comes you will probably still see me in socks unless I feel the desire to wear flip-flops and show off my ugly feet.  I guess my ugly feet would be better than my teenage face.  Not sure if it is the sweat mixed with the dry air, but I am starting to relive my high school days.  Okay, back in the day I actually didn’t have to deal with as many blackheads, pimples and zits as I do now.  It has been about 15 years since I purchased Clean & Clear lotion with the anti-zit medication.

If my face and feet aren’t enought to appall you, then you can check out my armpits where the chaffing of my tank tops on my skin has caused a red rash to breakout.  Hmmm, I should probably keep the other chaffed parts to myself…. no need to go into too much detail.

What about my pretty hair you say?   I must have forgotten to mention that I swim in a overally chlorinated pool.  I am surprised my hair hasn’t turned green yet.  It used to back in the day when I had blonde hair.  I’m not really a blonde anymore even though I spend enough time outside to get sunburns.  Even though my hair isn’t yet green, it is very surly.  It doesn’t know what to make of the toxic water, the two showers a day and the zero percent humidity.  I have to wear it back in a pony tail or else it is statically discharged on my face or sticking out in all directions.

You already know that I have no fashion sense.  I am happy to walk around in my gym gear all day even if I haven’t taken a shower yet (well, I am pretty keen on taking a shower right after a workout these days because I will freeze my rear off if I don’t).  You can usually find me in gym clothes dropping off my kids at school or taking a trip to the grocery store.  It is not like I need to impress anyone out there.  My tennis shoes have become my only shoes.  That is the only way I can keep my back in check.  I will do what I have to do in order to keep any back pain at bay.  I don’t want that ruining my workout routine.   I did try on some cute boots at the store the other day, but then I realized they weren’t functional and I put them back on the shelf.  I bought some for my girls instead.  I can live vicariously through them.

I am not sure what is going on with my jeans these days.  I am very forunate that I can fit into my pre-preggo jeans, but that isn’t going to be the case for too much longer.  And no, I am not gaining weight.  My thighs are getting bigger thanks to that damn bike!  So my jeans are tight on my thighs, but loose on my waist.  I wonder if they have any special jeans for cyclists and runners??

Even after putting all my uglies out there for everyone to see, I am not worried about it.  I know that I am beautiful inside because of what I choose to do.  Oh, and minus the lovely stretch marks, my abs are pretty awesome these days.

Bikes, pools & weights oh my!

It is not as fun as it looks... but it can be made more fun with episodes of 24 or a good magazine.

It is not as fun as it looks… but it can be made more fun with episodes of 24 or a good magazine.

I was a bit disoriented when my alarm went off.  Now why was I getting up at 6:30 AM when I didn’t have to take any kids to school or be at work until 1:00 PM?  The confusion lasted a minute before I realized that I had agreed to meet my friend at the pool at 8:00 AM.  Well, it sure as heck doesn’t take an hour and a half to drive to the YMCA. Oh, that’s right.  I had made a plan to ride on my bike trainer for 30 minutes before going to the pool.  I laid there for a minute and realized that I should either drag my butt out of bed or just set the alarm for an hour later.  Sleep seemed like the logical choice, but I don’t always listen to logic.

It is that damn competition.  I don’t even know why I am bothering because there are people who are supposedly doing 4 workouts per day.  How can I compete with that?  I have 3 kids and a job!  Okay, I suppose I could do 4 workouts a day at a half an hour each because that adds up to 2 hours.  I already spend 2 hours working out per day.  However, I am focused on my 1/2 Ironman training.  That means I need to focus on cycling, swimming and running (well, weight training is also a necessity).  I just named 4 possible workouts, but the thing is that I need to have quality workouts.  A 1/2 hour on the treadmill is not quality.  I am just going to have to pass over quantity for the more desired quality.

Well, that doesn’t stop me from being competitive.  I will still give it my best shot.  That is why I got up early to go for a ride on the bike.  Even though it wasn’t a quality workout, I figured it was better than laying in bed doing nothing.  At least I indulged in some quality time with Runner’s World.  So after my half an hour was up I hopped off the bike, changed into my swimsuit and headed out the door.  Then it was an hour in the pool.  That was my long swim for the week so there was definitely some quality involved.  I debated whether or not to go home, but then decided that I should just stick with my plan to weight train.  Once again (after a quick shower) I had to change my clothes.  Jeez, the laundry pile in my house is ridiculous.  It would make sense to lift weights before swimming so that I don’t have to take 2 showers, but I would probably drown because I wouldn’t be able to move my arms and legs.  I spent some quality time with the weights (a nice 45 minute workout).  I even tried to save some body parts for tomorrow so I can do another workout in addition to my long run.  Okay, maybe this is going to be more painful than I need it to be.  Stupid competition.  I can’t wait for March Madness because that competition is based on the amount of time that you spend working out.  Maybe then I will have a chance.

Let the Training Begin!

Kiefer and I wll be cycling buddies for the next 24 X 8 hours!

Kiefer and I wll be cycling buddies for the next 24 X 8 hours!

I was kind of a lump on a log during the holidays.  Okay, maybe I was still pretty active, but not as active as I usually am.  I went 2 days in a row without working out and it really bothered me.  Thanks to the damn stairs I nearly broke my toe, but I am pretty sure it was either just a sprain or a ligament tear…. still not really sure, but it doesn’t hurt.  It just looks ugly.  Well, I guess my toes have always been ugly so this doesn’t make much of a difference.

It just so happens that December 31st (of our dearly beloved 2012) was the start of my official 1/2 Ironman Training.  It kind of worked out with it being at the start of the year.  It is almost like I am in with the Resolution crowd.  Okay, not really.  Working out is nothing new to me.  The only thing that’s different is now I just need to have it planned out and stick with the plan.  Fortunately I am being helped along with a little competition.  Oh yes, I love competitions.  It is the Jammin’ January Challenge.  Whoever completes the most workouts in the entire month wins!  I’m all over this!  Bring it!  That is the only reason why I got up extra early this morning to make sure I could squeeze in a swim workout AND some weight training before work.

I have my little plan written down on a calendar.  Okay, okay, I have yet to do exactly what the plan says.  I have already switched days around, but next week this family will be back to a normal routine.  You know, school and after school activities…. all of that fun stuff that keeps you busy.  I will have my scheduled gym days and my scheduled free time when the hubby is watching the kids.  It will be scheduled… since schedules never change.  Ever.  Yes, I will laugh at that.  We are a military family.  However, we are not very military-like these days because my husband just goes to school.  Whoa!  He has a normal schedule folks!  That is unbelievable!  Okay, maybe this will work.  A schedule and a plan.  I got this!

So, my basement is ready for me.  Basements are scary, I know.  I have learned to sort of like our basement.  Sure, it is creepy, but at least there is a window.  Well, the window is only a hole with a view of the dirt, but at least some light comes in.  The scariest part is the crawl space that is closed off with a curtain.  I don’t like to look under there.  Crawl spaces definitely creep me out.  So today my husband (with some help from me) hoisted the treadmill from our room on the very top floor all the way down to the basement.  You see, I made the mistake of having the movers put it in the bedroom.  It was too late to change my mind when I saw it in the room.  That would’ve pissed them off and they would have taken more than our folder of DVD’s and my very special candle (where else could that freakin’ candle be??).  Maybe they were planning a hot date with a movie and a candle.  Oh, and a stepstool.  We are missing our stepstool.

Anyway, back to the treadmill.  It just made more sense to put it in the basement.  So, after 6 months it is finally in the basement.  I don’t have to run on it and worry that I am going to fall on my kids who might be sitting downstairs in the living room.  Okay, I rarely use the treadmill, but those single digit temperatures at 6:00 AM might entice me to use it more often.  Now the glorious treadmill is sitting right next to my bike trainer.  At least it was.  My husband is back down there moving things around to my liking.  He asked me for my opinion without realizing that I would actually give it to him.  In front of the bike trainer and the treadmill will be a very old t.v…. one of the ones that actually looks like a box.  However, I will probably be bringing down my laptop so I can watch the entire 24 series all over again.  And trust me, I will get through all 8 seasons of 24.  My butt will get sore in the process, but that is better than getting a sore bottom from sitting on the couch.

Week 1 is almost complete.  Nevermind.  I just realized I still have a long ride and a long run to do before the week is over.  Oh, and a long swim (even though the definition of a “long swim” is only about an hour, that is still a heck of a long time to swim in circles without music or something to look at).  This is going to be a long 20 weeks, but it will be worth it in the end!  Sure, some people think that is just crazy.  Do I care? Nope.

First Colorado Lake Swim

I am used to getting up early to go for a swim, run or bike ride.  If you don’t get up early (say 5ish) on a Florida summer morning then you are basically screwed.  Once that sun comes up your body starts roasting and your sweat glands are working in overdrive.  A swim in Florida is actually quite nice at any time during the day, but it doesn’t even feel the slightest bit chilly if you go at 6:00 am (well, that initial jump in might stun you for a minute).

When I participated in my first triathlon in Florida during the summer, I didn’t practice any open water swims in preparation for the lake swim during the race.  That is not a very smart training tactic, but I really couldn’t find any lakes in Jacksonville that weren’t nasty (and the thought of swimming alone with alligators and snakes kind of freaked me out).  I just decided to wing it and you know what, it wasn’t that bad.

Now I am training for my second triathlon, but this time it will be in Colorado.  I figured that I would be smarter this time and find a lake to practice in.  Better yet, I found out that I could actually practice swimming in the lake where the event will be held in 3 weeks.

So, my new training buddy asked me what time I wanted to meet up for a swim in the lake followed by a ride on the bike.  I told her that I had no problem getting up early.  I suppose I didn’t really think about the temperature of a typical Denver morning… somewhere in the 50’s.  Without thinking about the weather, I put on my triathlon shorts and tank top and headed out the door.  I did notice the slight chill in the air as I got out of my car at the lake.  At that moment I was relieved that I had brought the wetsuit even after all of the wetsuit issues I had last night.  You see, my new wetsuit does not fit.  I really don’t like to be choked.  So, when you order it online they only take into account your height, chest size and weight.  Well people who sell wetsuits, I have broad shoulders!  I could barely get the thing zipped up and even when I did I couldn’t move my arms.  Needless to say, I opted for my husband’s wetsuit even though it doesn’t conform to my body.

There I was, easily getting on this wetsuit that was obviously too big for me, but I was happy to be warm and toasty (for once).  We walked down to the lake and immediately noticed the green slime.  I guess every lake has some kind of yuck factor, but at least this one didn’t have any dangerous animals.  I put my bare feet in the water and immediately retracted them back.  OMG, it was chilly!  Granted, it was 72 degrees and my husband said that was “warm.”  It sure as heck didn’t feel warm to me.  I am the kind of person who takes HOT showers.  After I summoned up the courage, I gradually waded in over the slippery rocks.  When the water got up to my waist I started floating, but had to summon more courage in order to put my head under the water.  Yep, it was dark down there.  Not sure if that is good or bad.  I guess it is good if you don’t want to know what is down there.  Bad for trying to swim in a straight line and not running into anybody or any buoys.  It took me about a lap to acclimatize, but then I kind of warmed up and actually felt more focused on swimming.

Then, it was time to get out.  Getting out wasn’t so bad, it was the peeling off the wetsuit and exposing my body to the cold air that was the worst part.  And there was really nothing I could do to warm myself up.  I was left with my skimpy shorts and tank top.  I probably could have warmed up in the sun if it weren’t for the fact that I got on a bike and started picking up speed.  It was a constant blast of cold air that I couldn’t turn off.  I kept thinking that I would warm up at some point, but that never happened during that ride.  EVER.  Not even during the heart pounding hill climbs.  Not even when I got in the car and blasted the heat.  Not even when I walked into my house.  My fingers were numb as I washed my hair in the HOT shower.  After I got out of the shower and got dressed (in pants and a sweatshirt), I FINALLY warmed up!

That was the worst bike ride ever.  I would have much rather endured torturous hills and humidity.  I couldn’t wait for it to end.

Now, what have I learned from this experience?  Definitely wear a wetsuit while swimming in a Colorado lake (preferably one that fits) and always wear layers that you can peel off as you warm up (didn’t I learn that when I lived in Alaska??).