17 October 2013

Climate Ride Recap - Day 5

We finally made it to the final day! I was super excited about the ride into DC, but I was sad it was all coming to an end. We had a great breakfast before hitting the road, and I was out the door earlier than any other day - I had a mission to accomplish that included knocking out some serious miles in time for our 3:30 departure from the Thompson Boat House and up to The Capitol.

It was still ridiculously cold outside, so I wore arm warmers and my jacket to start the day. And boy was I glad I did! Cruising down some of those hills, I lost all the warmth I'd gained charging up them. Since it was so early, the sun hadn't crept into some of the shadier, more residential areas we were riding through, so it was downright chilly!

Our first pitstop of the day was at a hardware store so we wouldn't be tempted to hang out for too long. It was pretty cool that they had a welcome sign for us, so I at least had to stop and get that pic!
Then it was time to get on the road again and head off to Silver Spring, where we would be stopping for lunch. On the way, I was stopped at a traffic light with some other riders.  A few cars pulled up, and as the light turned, I pushed off the curb, but apparently too much because I ended up going over the other side of my bike! Luckily I did not hit the car, and they didn't hit me as they drove away.  The other cyclists nearby checked to make sure I was ok and one even stayed with me while I cleaned up the scrapes and put on a few bandaids. Then we were back on the road again.  The scrapes stung a little, so I was glad I had my first aid kit with me to keep them from the elements.

Anyway, back to the real story. It was an on your own lunch stop, and considering I was WAY over chicken by this point, I headed for Chipotle and got myself a BEEF burrito bowl. It was delicious, and while some other riders thought I was crazy for having such a "heavy" lunch, it suited me just fine. 

Soon enough, I was back on the road and heading into familiar territory.  Remember when Meredith and I went on that long bike ride back in July? Well, I figured out where we got lost getting to Silver Spring and within a couple miles, I was on the familiar trail back into DC. The great part about this for me was 1) it was familiar and a designated bike trail, so I could go a little faster and 2) it meant I was about to ride triumphantly into DC, my favorite place!!  I cruised the trail, mainly by myself, although I came upon a few Climate Riders and some other bike riders and runners, enjoying the peaceful scenery and knowing it was almost over. Don't get me wrong, I loved the ride, but it was nice that it s wrapping up. 

We gathered in Georgetown - near where I'd had that nasty fall on the long ride with Mere - at the Thompson Boathouse. A lot of the riders were enjoying drinks at the nearby restaurant, but I wasn't in the mood for a beer.  I was enjoying the views and the scenery and soon enough it was time to rally up for our Green Peloton to The Capitol.  I wish I had a picture of the awesome surprise when all the support team members came riding in to our rally point on DC Bikeshare bikes. It was epic - not to mention Blake shedding his sweatshirt to let us see his Climate Ride jersey underneath and let us know he was riding with us too!

I made my way to the front of the pack, and we were blessed to have a police escort up from Rock Creek Park on Constitution, right onto the lawn of The Capitol!  I was so excited, and tried to take a picture of our group arriving, but my stupid phone died just as I was about to snap the pic. Luckily I was able to borrow a friend's charger and snap these cool shots on the lawn. 

 I really wasn't sure I was going to be able to do this for the iconic bike-overhead shot. But it did it!!

I promise I'm actually just being silly, not seriously about to fall over or drop my wonderful bike that got me all the way from NYC to DC!

Our fearless and awesome support staff!!

We made it - although I should have taken a shot like this with my own bike..

After a great word from Andy Clarke of the League of American Bicyclists, and CCAN director Mike Tidwell, we had a bit of a wait until the superstar senator from Rhode Island - Senator Whitehouse - came out to speak to us.  It was worth the wait, cause this man is a champion for our cause. If you're a RI citizen, I envy you and your awesome representation in the Senate. 

After the speakers wrapped up, it was time to bring the ride to an official end. Picking up our stuff!! In sad of joining the pack and heading over to The Yards Park directly, I sped off to Alexandria to pick up my car. Otherwise, there was no way I was going to get me, my bike, and my giant bag home!  Luckily it was an easy enough ride to Meredith's where my car was parked.  Well, it should have been easy.  I stopped in traffic, in front of this pedicab and had trouble unclipping, so of course I went down.  The funniest part of it was the pedicab driver going, "oh, oh... Oooohhhh!" as I was falling.  Luckily it wasn't bad and I was back up before traffic started moving again!  

I made it to my car and as I got in I seriously thought, "wait, how do you drive a car?" I always feel a little off when I travel and don't drive for a while, but I seriously had to think about things car vs bike as I made my way back into the city for my stuff.  My GPS did a horrible job getting me there, and unfortunately I missed a bunch of people leaving because of it. Including my new friend Sarah, who I was going to take to my favorite place for an awesome post-ride dinner. Well, sorry Sarah, but that wasn't going to stop me from my plans: the Barack Obama burger AND the Michelle Obama turkey burger from Good Eats, WITH a chocolate shake! I called in my order, swung by and picked it up, and made my way back to Sarah and John's for the night. I had to make my way up to their fourth floor apartment, which sucked, but once I got there, I devoured (most of) my dinner and took a hot shower!

The next day, we did some lobbying on The Hill, which was cool.  But overall, this experience was about the ride, learning what I could do, pushing myself, and doing it all for a great cause! I really hope to be able to do it again next year. There is also a Climate Hike next year (already working on a wait list because of the extreme interest but need to keep the group small) and a few other ideas in the works for the near future.  So, check out www.climateride.org for more info, and let me know if you plan on joining the fun next time!

15 October 2013

Climate Ride Recap - Day 4

When we last met, I was not feeling well and spent a lot of the night tossing and turning and wanting to throw up (sorry for all the details). Day four was going to be our hilliest day by far, and when I woke up in the morning, I realized that the smart thing to do would be to ride in the van until lunch instead of trying to push myself for 44 miles.  

I was really disappointed to have to take this route.  But since I wasn't feeling well, there was no way I was going to be able to properly fuel for a day of hills.  And with the #crazylady plan continuing there was no way I was going to risk getting even more sick or injured and missing out on my other events for the fall.  

I was sad watching everyone roll out of camp that morning, but glad that I wasn't alone in the van with the support team.  There were three other riders who were having to take it easy that morning and we enjoyed being part of the support team, cheering on our fellow riders who were tackling some tough hills. At one point we had to stop for a rider that just wanted some heat on her toes.  Did I mention how cold it was in the morning?!  

I was especially bummed to miss riding over the Susquehanna River and along the Mason-Dixon Line but I did get some great pictures as we drove by!
When we got to the lunch stop, I managed to eat a cheese sandwich and some other food.  It was only 20 miles to camp for the night, and it was kinda fun to get back on the road so early after the lunch stop.  As I was heading out, I told Blake, the ride director, what my plan was and he let me know that if I couldn't make it I may have to wait awhile for a ride.  I was confident I could make it, so I headed out.  

In order to make it to camp, I did have to conquer one major hill.  At the morning talk, Blake warned everyone about the hill, but since I didn't make it to breakfast I just heard about it at lunch.  I knew when I saw this church that the hill was coming up.  It was a TOUGH hill and of course when the official photos come out, I'm sure I'm going to find the one Kip snapped of me walking up the hill. Sometimes it's the only way to make it! But I crested that hill and it was only 6 more miles to camp!!

I kept a pretty good pace and made it to camp around 3pm - the earliest I had arrived at camp all week.  It was so cool to get in early, get settled in my super cool cabin, grab a shower and just relax.  It turned out one of the women that was in the van with me in the morning - turned out it was all ladies - had pneumonia! She said she wasn't contagious, but that the doctor told her she couldn't finish the ride.  She was bummed, but luckily as a Washingtonian, we were close enough that her partner could come pick her up. I was just thankful she really wasn't contagious!!

As this was our last evening together, it was a great time for getting to know people and connecting, so many of us gathered around the campfire until way too late.  Who can say no to s'mores and beer?  It was also amazing to be in a place to see the stars and Blake used his astronomy knowledge to talk to a group of us about the constellations.  

We obviously had a great time considering what the recycling bin looked like as I was on my way back to my cabin to hit the hay for the night!  Oh, I forgot to mention dinner.  This was our third night in a row of chicken and I was OVER it!  When someone came over with a plate of quinoa, I was pumped that there was another source of protein and since everyone had already gone through the line, I was not stealing any of the vegetarians food! It was so tasty.  I was starting to get really excited about my post race meal plan!

It was sad to think it was all coming to an end the next day.  At dinner Blake gave us a heads up about the super important talk in the morning about the day's ride, which included making it to the Thompson Boat Center by 3:30 for the group ride into DC and up to the Capitol.  I was super excited to ride in DC and was really looking forward to the final day of the ride.  

10 October 2013

Climate Ride Recap - Day 3

Day 3!  I can't believe the ride is already almost half-way over.  Miles-wise, we still haven't hit the halfway point, that will happen during today's ride.  But today is the middle of the ride.  It's flown by!  I don't want it to end, even though each morning it gets harder and harder to talk myself into getting on the bike because my legs - and let's be honest, my behind - are exhausted!  But each day is a new adventure I can't wait to conquer, so I am back on the bike again.  

I slept much better last night after having found my money, but I was still in a new sleeping bag, in a cabin in the woods, and had to get up in the middle of the night to pee - but the worry was gone so I slept well.  It was no hotel, but I was warm and cozy and luckily - even though I brought ear plugs, having learned my lesson at Disneyland - no one snored!
Breakfast was another great spread before we hit the road.  This was when I really started debating the wisdom of my brother about not getting cycling pants/capris.  It was COLD first thing in the morning.  I asked some of the girls in my bunk what their plan was, and put my pants on.  But for the next hour as I finished getting packed up and eating breakfast, I made the decision that it would be too hard to ride with pants since once it got warm I wouldn't have any place to stow them.  So right before I took off, I dropped my pants in the sag wagon and jumped on the bike.  This persisted every day - and each day at least until lunch, I was mad at that decision!

But that's minor.  Today was a beautiful day through Amish country.  I ate basically the same thing for breakfast, but I started to feel a little off.  Our first water stop was a brutal 3.8 miles from camp.  That is NOT a typo - we rode less than 4 miles before breaking.  This was because there was a bakery we were told we couldn't miss.  Well, they must have missed the memo about 200 riders coming through, because by the time I made it through the line, there weren't any good breakfast pastries left.  All they needed to make were chocolate croissants.  I shouldn't have spent the time waiting to order, and I definitely didn't need the coffee.  Today was a difficult day because of the stomach issues.  At first I really thought I had eaten something bad.  My stomach started feeling better around lunch.  But then after dinner I started feeling bad again, so in reflecting on things, I think I was actually dehydrated.  This was something I had not properly trained for - nutrition and hydration for 300 miles over 5 days.  I'm not sure exactly how to train for that, but in general I need to figure this out for my activity levels.

But I digress.  After the morning bakery stop, we had 25 miles to lunch.  Today, we packed our lunch before we headed out, and then the support team brought it to the lunch stop for us.  Today was also a HILLY day, and the day I finally met my little ring!  Thankfully, as I started to tackle my first major hill for the day - right after coffee BTW - Josh was there to help talk me through getting up the hill.  He kept showing up on those big hills over the next few days and each time I was thankful.  For some reason, climbing those hills with Josh was easier than trying to go it alone.  Who knows?!  Oh - and Josh was the crazy Climate Rider/Board Member who had just finished riding cross-country only a few weeks earlier.  This guy was pretty amazing!  So many cool people on this ride!

So, today I finally took the time to stop and take some photos.  After all, today was a "light" day compared to yesterday - only 56.6 miles to conquer ;)  So, I present you with those photos of beautiful farmland and my favorite renewable accessory to distract you for a moment. 

After lunch, I felt a little better and hit the road again.  As I mentioned in my day 1 recap, there were fuchsia 28 (pink) signs directing us, as well as the cue sheets for directions each and every day.  Well, I took off from lunch and found myself very quickly behind the classic Amish horse-drawn buggy.  I had been wondering who would be faster, and it was apparent, unless that horse started galloping, I was faster.  He indicated a turn and I was grateful to not be continuing behind him.  Or so I thought.  I got about 3/4 a mi down the road and started to realize I had missed a turn.  I rounded a bend, and pulled to the side to check my cue sheet.  Sure enough, the name of the road I noticed the Amish "driver" turning on to was the road I wanted.  So I turned around - and noticed a few more riders heading my way.  So I motioned as well as yelled to them that we missed a turn, and we all headed back.  Turns out our trusty fuchsia 28 sign had fallen off the post, which was the reason so many of us missed the turn.  Luckily, we hadn't gone too far out of the way - and this was the ONLY time I got lost on the entire ride!

Once back on track, it was another 12 miles or so to our third stop of the day - the Strasburg Creamery. This place is apparently another staple stop, and it did not disappoint.  I grabbed an ice cream cone - mint chocolate chip, of course - with my friend from lunch yesterday, and was back on the road.  Oh wait, I missed something.  My first fall of the ride.  The was a wonky intersection that Blake warned us of during the morning talk, and was on a map inset on our cue sheet.  As I came up to the intersection, I unclipped to make the stop and wait for traffic to clear.  Somehow - just as before - I ended up falling to the other side.  No one was around when I fell, but very soon a couple other riders showed up as I was dusting myself off.  No major scrapes on this one - on me.  The bike was beat up (again) with a crooked handlebar.  Thankfully, it was only a few more miles to the stop at the Creamery, where the mechanics were waiting and able to adjust the bike for the rest of the day.  And the folks that rode up behind me rode with me to the stop so I felt protected.  Falling is just part of riding, you just gotta get back up and go forward.

After the creamery, it was another 15 miles to camp.  Tonight's camp was a Mennonite camp - Camp Andrews.  We had a sweet conference-center like dorm room for the evening, and my favorite part of the night was hearing the Mennonite women sing in the kitchen as they were doing the dishes.

Unfortunately, right after dinner I started feeling sick again.  I missed out on the lobbying meeting (which I wasn't really planning on going to anyway because I know my way around a lobby visit) and the bonfire.  But I needed to lay down.  I showered, ate dinner, and then hit the sack.  I was in bed by 9:29.  In the middle of the night, I really thought I was going to be sick, and spent about half an hour really wanting to throw up.  It was not the way to prepare for the hilliest day of the ride...

08 October 2013

Climate Ride Recap - Day 2

Repping for my Alma Mater today
So, when I last left you, I had gotten a poor night's sleep because I thought I had lost over $100 cash.  My plan on Sunday morning was to head back to camp (feel sorry for all those people who had braved the weather and camped in the rain while I "princessed" it up at the hotel) and ask the ride director Andrew if he found any money the day before at the last place I remembered seeing it.  I found Andrew before even eating breakfast, and sadly he had no exciting news about having found money.  So my saga continued, stressed out over this, and how I was going to pay Gal back for the hotel as well as all the other incidentals I had planned to pay for with my cash.  But it was time to fuel up and get ready for the LONG day!  I had a nice hot breakfast, handed off my stuff to the support vans, and hopped on my bike for the greatest adventure of my life.

Today, it was a 19.3 mile ride through New Jersey to the Inn at Lambertville Station, right across the river from Pennsylvania, for our first leg.  This little town of Lambertville is ADORABLE!!  A small group of us ended up riding into town together and it was fun to feel the camaraderie of riding together, as well as enjoying this quaint little town together.  The Inn was a great little place to stop, but it was our first port-o-potty of the ride.  Thanks to all my running adventures, I'm no longer scared of these pit stops. And as Annie said, "when you gotta go, you gotta go."  I snacked up, filled up my water and Nuun, and headed out.  No time to dilly-dally when you've got 74.3 miles on the agenda for the day.
The bridge we had to WALK across!
As we crossed the Delaware River, we made our way into our third state of the trip and on through some amazing countryside. It was another 12 miles or so to our lunch stop in Doylestown.
This was another great little town, with a designated "lunch on your own stop."  I felt like I lost some ground between the water stop and lunch - there were some serious hill climbs that segment, and I still hadn't met my little ring yet - that would come tomorrow.  I continue to want to take pictures, but don't end up taking as many because my phone is still tucked away in it's super protective case.  For some reason, I noticed the cute little Presbyterian churches along the way and took photos.  Today's church was just before the lunch stop at Doylestown PC.

Lunch was a welcome stop.  There was a spread laid out for sandwiches, if you just wanted to grab something quick and move on (which in hindsight maybe I should have done).  I did make a quick PB&J - the rider's staple lunch - but still wanted to enjoy something else.  Another rider came in behind me and we decided to walk over to a recommended restaurant together and get lunch.  Hickory was a great spot;  I ordered a burger with AVOCADO, potato chips (HELLO, SALT), and the rare real Coke!  Unfortunately it took longer than we anticipated, so we were one of the last people back on the road.  It was 16 miles to the next water stop and I did my best to move quickly.  The last water stop of the day was at Merrymead Farm which apparently is a fun little place to stop, but I was moving quick to get through the rest of the day.  As I was riding up to the stop, in my mind I was making a checklist: (1) use the restroom, (2) fill up water bottle and Nuun, (3) eat a protein bar, (4) get back on the road.  I sadly lost a nuun in my hurry to fill up - it blew off the table and fell out of the bottle before I had a chance to fill it with water :(  whomp, whomp. But I had plenty to sustain me throughout the day, for the last 26 miles of the day!

Being able to mentally break the day up into segments that I was comfortable riding, made this daunting day totally doable.  In the end, my watch says I rode 76.52 miles in 7:33.13.

Our camp for tonight was at Camp Innabah (pronounce like Carrie Ann Inaba - DWTS) - a Methodist camp.  It reminded me a lot like Camp Calvin.  It was fairly rustic, with cabins and a bath house.  Luckily our cabin was fairly close to the bath house, but it was a trek up the hill with my rolling bag to the cabin.  Good thing L.L.Bean is so tough!  Dinner tonight started the chicken trend... but it was good to get a hearty meal in my belly.

We heard at dinner the story of a rider who had an incident with a car during the day.  She happened to be sitting right next to me at dinner, and I didn't even realize it until they said something.  Luckily she came away fairly unscathed, and persevered through the rest of the ride.  But it's yet another reminder of the dangers of riding - it's so important as drivers that we are conscious of who else is on the road and give cyclists the appropriate space when passing!  Here's her recap of the ride, including her incident.

The night before, I had made an appointment with the massage team to get some of my kinks worked out and the best part about it was that they were set up outside, and as I laid face up on the table, I got to enjoy the beauty of the night sky, complete with multiple shooting stars!

Oh - and the best news of the day?  I found my cash!  It turns out I had moved it into my bag, instead of leaving it in my backpack.  Somehow I had missed it when tearing through my bag the night before, but tonight as I got out clothes for after my shower, I found the money!  I jumped up and down like a kid, screaming at my roommates - whom I had JUST met - that I had found it!  They were excited for me and luckily it was still before dinner so they weren't mad at me for keeping them awake!  (can you see how excited I still am that I found it - all those exclamation points?)

It was an amazing day and one where I learned that I really can do anything I put my mind to - with hard work and determination.  From this point on, it was all going to be easy, even with all the killer hills yet to come!