Sunday, October 24, 2010

Very nearly a perfect day . . .

I awoke yesterday after seven and a half hours of sleep right through on the dreamland express.  It was nothing short of astonishing.  The effect it had on me was equally stunning.  As I wandered into the Loo the visage in the mirror surprised me.  For those who are fans of Star Trek from back in the 60's, think of the episode "Mudd's Women" kind of stunning.  One night of solid, uninterrupted sleep let me see just how much I've really been missing for the last decade or so.  I even crawled back into bed and got another hour of sleep after that.  Heavenly.  No nightmares to mar the experience.

Oh dear a girl could get used to that!!! I know this one could and hopes to!

So yesterday was also supposed to be really warm and mild before the rains came in today, tomorrow and Tuesday.  Naturally what would be my first thought for a perfect fall day in New England?  Yes, of course a ride!  I've got a one track mind that way.

I know Ohio is not really part of my beloved New England, but it reminds me of it in some very pleasant and surprising ways.  Not the least of which is the fall air and plenty of trees turning different colors.  So my sinister plan for the day was to get up and going earlyish for me, finally try a burger place so many people have said is amazing, and then fly!  Cause you just know flying had to be in there somewhere!

Photo Courtesy The Food Hussy and her review
So, "Five Guys" is a national chain, but they have high standards, offer fresh, hand cut, skin on fries, and wonderful burgers.  I've been hearing about them for a while but only just found out there is one here in Cincinnati.  Curiously enough it's in the top three for the area at number three, and happens to be in a place I feel comfortable with, right in the same shopping center as my local "Whole Foods" so I thought yesterday was a good day.  It's right before the end of the month and  payday but I had just enough scraped together to take myself out for a change.  Plus I have enough food in the house that I can make it till payday.

So "Five Guys" it was.  First surprise was that they encouraged me to spend the extra 20 cents for the plastic drink cup.  Why?  Because I'd never have to buy a drink from them ever again.  Should I go back, and after my first time there, I WILL, I bring the cup and get unlimited refills as long as I own the cup.  Forever...  If' I happen to be out shopping and am thirsty but not in the mood for a burger I said?  Come on it, it's your cup, and our rule is it should never have to be empty.  What if I go to a Five Guys in Colorado Springs, Colorado or Oakland Bay California I asked.  Same rule she said, your cup should never be empty!  Just like that.  So I ordered a burger with cheese and a bunch of vegetables on it, and a small fry.  She took my money, handed me my cup and receipt and said enjoy your meal ma'am!

Few minutes later my number was called while I was sipping some lemonade, and I got handed this huge bag.  Small fry my arse!  Imagine three large fries from say McDonald's or Wendy's and that's what was in my bag along with this frankly enormous burger.  I carefully opened it up and aside from the serious amounts of veggies I had them put on it, was REAL cheese and TWO burgers.  Turns out their regular burgers are DOUBLES by default.  Unlike other chain restaurants, they don't skimp with, or charge more, for the extras!  So I wound up eating half of it and saving the rest for after my ride.  And the epic fries?  Sprinkled them with Malt vinegar and ate about a quarter of them.  The rest I took for after the ride and dinner.  So two and a half meals and a truly bottomless drink cup, and I'd say this was money well spent!  The fries were fresh out of the fryer, hot, crisp, and oh so yummy!  To be fair, they are not at all unlike Peen Stations award winning fries which is another local sub place that has awesome food.  Anyway, the fries themselves are mana from loving food Gods.  Really.

Little Miami Scenic Trail
Then I set out for Loveland Ohio figuring I'd go try out the trail and see if all the hill work I've been doing has made a difference yet.  Plus I needed to get rid of some of what I drank and I knew they had bathrooms right off the trail.  So the bathrooms where interesting, and quite unexpected.  First of all it seems they never close. Second the stalls had these rustic wooden doors, but the toilets themselves were an anachronism.  In stark contrast with the rest of the structure, these gleaming white beauties where lidless.  So that should a bloke forget himself and wander into our side, he couldn't forget to put the seat back down when done.  They were and inserting shape  that I can only imagine were also in the mens rooms.  Long front to back, but narrow to make sitting without a lid quite comfortable, and very little chance for men folk to tinkle on the seat.  Finished in there, washed my hands, and then got Serenity off her birth on Jumper one, put on my gloves, bit my preflight and set off for a quiet, comfortable ride in the fall air.

Now I've ridden this trail a number of times before, but this was my first trip in the fall.  Winding along the Little Miami River it follows an old railway line from the bygone days of steam.  So much so that on a previous trip in a spot where the pavement was worn by time and thousands of riders, you can actually see the top of a piece of steel rail.  Anyway, the ride is scenic, peaceful, and of so lovely any time of year, but so much more today with the trees on both sides of the trail, and the river, thousands of different colors!  My plan was to ride out ten miles (which would put me around South Lebanon Ohio) and then turn around and ride back.  This scenic, peaceful, well maintained stretch of trail while not nearly as complex as climbing into the rockies, isn't exactly flat either, and while the grade change is only a 100 feet or so vertically, it's regular, so it's a decent work out as you keep riding up and down hills, over and over.  Some of them are just kind of seemingly long endless climbs.  At least to those of us badly out of shape and over weight.

So that gives you a general feeling for what the elevation change looks like.  For a closer, more interactive look at where and how the elevation changes, just click on either the profile, or the map above to be taken over to my profile page for the ride. 

The ride up was relaxed, pleasant, and I even slowed up a time or two to ride along other riders and chat.  Especially since one of the women riding along said "Oh sure, make this look easy, Ms. Speedy" as I went by.  As I came up on her six I noticed she was pedaling with the arches of her feet and looked like she was laboring and lagging behind the two guys she was riding with.   Now I'm no-one's expert on cycling, but I do know some things from trial and error that can made a big difference.  One of those that is oh so important is seat height and foot position.  The other is some decent padded gloves, which cuts down on hand and arm numbness on longer rides.  I'd also notice as I was coming up behind her that she was swinging her arms, which I used to do in the days before gloves.  It helps restore circulation and feeling when your arms go numb.  So I slowed down and matched her speed and said three things that will make a dramatic difference your rides are a good set of padded gloves, bring your seat up just about an inch, and get some decent electrolyte replacement additive and a water bottle and cage.  So we chatted a bit until we caught up to the guys she was riding with and I suggested to the boys they ride WITH her, not all they way out in front.  She was all excited about the few changes I suggested and started telling the guys about them as I bid them a good day and kept going on my way.

By the time I hit South Lebanon my internal clock rang, so I stopped a moment to check time, distance and remaining daylight.  Since my trip for a burger, and the indirect sightseeing route I took to Loveland got me a late start, I was concerned about riding back in the dark.  Mainly because while they are few, there ARE some road crossings and I didn't want to borrow trouble.  Wisdom being the better part of valor and all, I decided not to push on to the ten out I'd planned, I hit stop on CardioTrainer and was oh so pleased to see that for the first time ever, I'd managed an average pace of 12.2 miles per hour.  I know that doesn't sound like much to some of my friends who ride way above that, but for me it was a bit of victory!  Especially given the fact that it felt like a relaxed ride in the country!  With Sunset only twenty some minutes away, I reset my flight computer and started back, determined to push myself slightly harder to see if I could beat my pace.  40 some minutes later as I pulled to a stop behind the Jumper, I again hit stop and there it was.  I'd maintained a 12.5 mile per hour average pace!  Victory!

Which of course all the intentional hill work I've been doing in the park has paid handsome dividends!  As I saddled up and headed home it struck me how it was very nearly a perfect day.  Only thing that could have made it better?  If I'd made my ten full out and back miles.  There's always next weekend right?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Gear and staying fit . . .

So this is going to be the first of a number of posts where I talk about some of the gear related to one of my loves, which just happens to be a great way to stay fit.  I cycle for fitness, for pleasure, for fun, and to get away from things that are bothering me for a while.  When I get on Serenity and get moving, I'm leaving calories and problems behind me, taking the time to really be present while riding, focused on what I'm doing and soaking every last bit of pleasure out of a ride.

That said, I want to be safe, and careful.  I want, should God forbid something horrible to happen and I cannot speak for myself, some way for first responders to get to know me some.  I don't have any significant life threatening issues that require me to wear a medical alert ID, and frankly, they just don't have enough information on them.  There are any number of different ways to address identification and notification information, including of course carrying a wallet, but like most people working out, I don't want to carry a wallet with me.  Both from a standpoint of the extra stuff to carry, and the risk of having it stolen.  I have an ICE (In Case of Emergency) entry in my gphone, but again, should it be stolen or damaged again I'd be in trouble.

So while I was looking into getting a new bike, I came across a product in a bike shop in San Fransisco called RoadID.  Actually it's a series of products for athletes that serve as identification when one is out doing whatever one does, be it running, jogging, walking or in my case, cycling.  It's inexpensive, very lightweight, comes in a number of formats and provides optionally very serious and secure detailed information about one in times of need.  I started out with the Interactive Sport Wrist Band Road ID and wear it pretty much anytime I leave the house.  With the Interactive version, first responders, doctors and law enforcement will be able to call, or logon online to the service that securely manages my information.  Like who to notify, what my Drivers License number is, what Medications I'me taking and how often, who my Doctors are and how to reach them, as well as my Health Insurance ID and whatever else I feel like putting in there.  One simple wrist or ankle band, or a little pouch that connects to my shoes or inside my helmet has all the information that I'd normally have in my wallet.  I hope never to need to have it used, but I rest a bit easier knowing that God forbid the absolute worst happen, I'm not just some Jane Doe in a fridge somewhere.

So like I say, I started with the wrist ID back a while ago, but a conversation with a friend had me thinking.  RoadID will work if the first responders see it, think to look at it, and both to connect to the service and pull my records.  What if however they don't notice it or think to follow up on the information it can provide them access to other than my name?  So I thought about getting involved in educating first responders to be aware of the ID and to know to look for it.  I may still do that, but I realized there is one universal piece of identification that professionals recognize on sight and no to look at.  The age old Military "Dog tag!"  First Responders, Doctors, Law Enforcement all know what a Dog Tag is, and that it usually identifies the wearer.

And thus, my second RoadID purchase the FIXX ID!  Nice normal military Dog Tag that anyone will see and recognize in an instant, but a 21st century version that is connected to my existing interactive identification on the secure server.  One profile that both my IDs connect to.  Wear it around my neck, tucked into my bra and off I go!