Pedaling for Peace

On April 15, 2012 I started riding my bicycle cross-country from Jacksonville, Florida in voluntary support of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) and the work of author and Peace Leadership Director for the NAPF, Paul K. Chappell. By July 4th, I had covered over 1300 miles to just west of Luling, Texas where a major mechanical failure brought this first stage of my cross-country journey to an end. After storing my bicycle and trailer with my aunt and uncle in Weatherford, Texas, I flew from Dallas to Santa Barbara, California to attend the NAPF First Annual Peace Leadership Summer Workshop. I then lived and worked in Santa Barbara for several more months before I returned to Jacksonville and sold off the rest of my possessions that I could to help fund a continuation of my journey. Starting June 8, 2013 and ending August 9, 2013, I rode from Weatherford, through 400 miles of the central Texas hill country, including Austin, Texas, back to Luling. It was at this point that a friend of mine invited me to work for a brief period in Pennsylvania before flying me back to Santa Barbara where I continued volunteering for the NAPF as well as for the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition. As of August 9th, 2014 I began"Stage III" of my cross-country adventure, this time heading south from Santa Barbara to San Diego and then east to El Paso, TX. It was there that illness, winter weather, and diminishing resources brought that leg of my journey to an end. After staying with another friend in Columbus, GA for several months, I moved "back home" to Kentucky to stay with my dad for a while and build a better "resource base" for future endeavors including review and further tracking and primitive survival skills training at Tom Brown, Jr's Tracker School , and a possible longer tour of the east coast, northern tier, and north west coast back down to Santa Barbara, CA.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Course Corrections

When I was at Tracker School in New Jersey back in May, Tom Brown, Jr. sent all of us on a few "missions". He would tell us to get a clear idea of what we "wanted" that the natural environment could provide - a track, a straight shaft for an arrow, etc. and then to tune into "Spirit" to let it guide us, asking "Is it this way?"..."Is it that way?"..."Is it 20 feet away?"..."Is it 10 ft away?", etc., etc. and to "listen" carefully and respond to the direction of "Spirit".

For me, the exercise was not very useful at the time, because there really wasn't anything (like what he was suggesting) that I Really Wanted. I was not in "collecting" mode at Tracker School because I was already in the process of Getting Rid of my "stuff" as preparation for going on this trip. I still wandered into the woods to see what was out there, but there was no real "intent" behind my wanderings. Furthermore, there was nothing I felt I needed to "prove" to Tom Brown, Jr. or anyone else about my own abilities to follow "Spirit" or what I would call my "internal compass."

However, there WAS something that I wanted. Something pretty simple really. I just wanted an opportunity to shake Tom Brown's hand, let him know how much reading "The Tracker" impacted me when I was but a young pre-teen girl.

After the last session where Tom spoke, I watched him walk away. Took note of whether or not he was stopping to talk to other students, etc., which he didn't. Instead, he went straight to his vehicle, got in, and left. I was a little disappointed, but I accepted that that was just the way it was going to be.

* * * * *

I was actually pretty sick for a good part of my two weeks at Tracker school, and so that last day, I did not have enough energy to get my debris hut "re-distributed" back into the landscape, nor was I able to get all of my gear dried out and packed up in time to catch one of the staff vehicles, or anyone else's vehicles driving into town to take us back to where we had left our cars. I asked one of the staff members if it was okay for me to stay one more night. I told her that I had food enough to eat and that I could take care of myself. She agreed, and so I went back to my tent and slept - from about 6:00 that evening until the next day. I was really wiped out.

However, by morning of the next day I was ready to pack everything up for the last time, and after stowing my gear under the overhang of one of the storage buildings, I sat down with some of the other campers, those staying for the upcoming classes, and chatted for a while around the fire. I remember becoming hoarse eventually, as my voice had been going that way from a few days before.

Finally, I was able to arrange a ride to the parking lot. My car started up fine and I started to head out of town, and then I realized I missed a critical turn. I spotted a Sunaco gas station and decided to turn around there and stop for gas as well.

While I was parked there a big travel home pulled up along side me. I wasn't really paying that close of attention, but when I looked up and I saw Tom Brown's wife Celeste coming out of the convenience store it hit me: It was actually Tom Brown's travel home that had pulled up beside me.

I called out to Celeste and she came over and talked with me. She said she figured I must be a student given all the camping gear packed into my car. I told her that I had just come from two weeks of classes and was headed home. I also told her that my bigger plan was to be on my bike soon, traveling across the country. I told her about this blog, and gave her one of my business cards.

The next thing I know, I saw Tom there, finishing filling the travel home with gas, and as he looked my way and Celeste explained that I was a student - I got my opportunity to shake his hand, and to thank him for "The Tracker" story and for everything else he had done since.

I watched as they both got back in the travel home as we said our good-bye's and then they drove away...or at least I thought they had driven away, until they'd pulled back up along side my bug and Celeste called to me from the window. She said she had told Tom what I was doing and that she wanted me to have their personal e-mail address, so if I ever got stranded on my trip, I could contact them directly and they could probably put me in touch with other tracker students for help.

I thanked both of them again, and then they drove away again, this time for real.

* * * * *

I pulled my car away from the gas pump and parked it next to the store. I just wanted to re-group a little, make sure everything was in order, and make a phone-call to a friend in Maryland to let them know I was on my way back.

And then it hit me: My one "wish" almost from the whole Tracker School experience had been fulfilled. I got my opportunity to shake Tom Brown, Jr.'s hand and to personally thank him for all he had done. There had been many "course corrections" along the way; i.e. my deciding to stay one more night, my "missing" that turn and having to turn-a-round at the gas station where I also decided to stop and get gas before leaving. Even though I did not even know that I was still "on course" to realize my intention, apparently "The Universe" (or "Spirit" as Tom Called it) was still responding to my intention.

* * * * *

I have continued to make the same kinds of "course corrections" throughout my preparations for my journey across the U.S. by bicycle. Most recently I came across a site that let me get a better idea of how to calculate the effort I will have to expend to carry all the equipment I'm trying to carry on my bicycle ( It has made me realize that trying to get through mountain ranges, like the Appalachians or the Rockies is probably out of the question at least for the early stages of my journey. Furthermore, as I have tried to plot my way across the country, I have run into some "gaps" where people and/or other facilities are not as plentiful as I might want or hope for, again, especially during these initial stages.

Consequently, I am starting to consider a different option from a more straight across approach, East to West. I'm thinking given the changing seasons (and in spite of Irene currently bearing down on the East Coast), I may decide to hug the coast lines, traveling South to Florida and then across the Gulf Coast into Texas, etc., etc. There will be higher concentrations of people in these areas, but that also means more options for couch surfing. And, it will all be much more "level" ground, which will make it easier for me to haul all of the stuff I will be hauling.

Also, if I make it to the West Coast this way, I will be in much better shape to start traveling through more "high country" and/or I will have decided more clearly what I should be taking with me, and what I can leave behind. Who knows? I may decide to just keep riding around the "edges" of this country, if that is even possible?

Either way, I know as long as I keep listening to my "internal compass" I will find the right path to my "destination". : ) (And, by the way, there is one underlying "goal" I have in mind right now, but I won't be sharing that until I get to "realize it" just as I did in shaking Tom Brown, Jr's hand. : ))

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Food Basics - Part II - Breakfast

I'm thinking it is "Citibank" that has the commercials that ask "What's in Your Wallet?"

I have decided the more important question these days might be "What's in Your Lunch Bag?" Or are you even carrying one?

If you think you just can't eat healthy food every day because you don't have the time, etc. to prepare food at home, I will be the first to empathize. I have learned from experience that it does take significant time and effort to prepare your own food especially from whole foods and/or minimally processed ingredients. There's time and effort involved in shopping for and buying the food, time to get it all stored away properly once you get home, time to prepare, and to clean up after said preparations, and then it takes some time to pack your lunch bag each day to take to work and then empty it of empty containers and any left-overs when you get home. And, the next morning, it starts all over again. If you're also thinking about growing some of your own food, although it might mean cutting back on some of your shopping time, gardening adds a whole new level of time and effort to the endeavor...but, where your health and the health of those you love are involved - It Is Worth the Effort!

I have had a commitment to preparing my food for myself for a long time now. Since 2004 (when I began my last tour on shore duty with the U.S. Navy), I have had to manage a work commute of two to four hours round trip every day - sometimes while also taking college classes. Between 2008 and 2011, I started really going "above and beyond" by baking regularly for my co-workers - sometimes as regularly as every week, but usually more like once or twice a month (such are the demands of "Amish Friendship Bread" which by nature "expands" itself and must be used regularly to keep it to a manageable size : )). During most of this time, I have done this (more often than not) as a "single" person; i.e. I haven't been preparing food for a husband or children...but that means I have also not had any assistance in all the tasks involved from said husband or children! My point is...If anyone can learn to do this for themselves without the help of others, they can certainly learn to do it as well, and maybe even more efficiently, when there are others to help - with the work and with the eating!

For the record, I have fluctuated between making more cooked meals and eating more raw foods. Cooked "main course" meals included: lasagna, beef and broccoli stir-fry, egg-rolls, chicken pot pie, chili, lentil soup, etc.; i.e. things that could be made in fairly large quantities and then divided up and frozen in plastic containers. I usually used the Rubbermaid Take-A-Long containers with the one large and one small compartment and I made sure my lunch bag was large enough to allow them to fit flat. (Ever seen those Nascar, 10 can bags from Wal-Mart? That's what I've used and they were Quite the Fashion Statement! : )).

Unfortunately, taking those frozen meals to work also meant having to re-heat them in a microwave and although I accepted the necessity of that for a long time, after one friend of mine made a pretty adamant comment about how microwaving really, Really "kills" the food, I decided my cooking food that way really, Really had to come to an end. And so, from that point on, I stopped all that - dare I say - "cold turkey"! I knew I needed to limit the amount of cooked food and meat I was eating anyway, it was just that, up to that point, it was the best way I knew to be efficient with my daily food preparation.

Apart from that, and since reading Fit for Life in 1990, I have always tried to adhere to the one "rule" the authors encouraged their readers to adhere to; basically they said "If you don't do anything else we recommend in this book, just eat fresh fruit, or drink fresh fruit juices until noon." In other words, fresh fruit or fruit juices should be your "break fast"; i.e. the first thing you eat when you start eating in the course of your morning to noon routine - not coffee, not tea - just fresh fruit and/or fruit juices.

As I learned from my study of "Natural Hygiene" fruits do not need "stomach digestion." Masticated properly (including "swishing" juices around in your mouth a bit before swallowing them), fruits will go right through your stomach and into your small intestines where their nutrients will start being assimilated into your system almost immediately. What my 20+ years of experience have taught me is that this practice is like starting your car in first gear: It allows the body to shift into its "appropriation cycle" (i.e. taking food into the system)...g-r-a-d-u-a-l-l-y. And then, once it has picked up some speed, it can handle heavier or denser foods; i.e. foods that require stomach digestion, and it can do so more efficiently.

So that has been, and remains, one of my top priorities as far as my daily intake of food. In addition, there has been an "evolution" of this practice over time. Initially, I would simply eat fresh fruits, usually starting with the easiest to digest like melons, and then including other acid or sub-acid fruits, like oranges, strawberries, or apples, and then, I might move on to sweet fruits like bananas or even some dried fruits through the course of the morning. When I found out the value of a sea vegetable called "Dulse" as a top source of plant-based, organic iron, and that iron was more readily absorbed in the presence of Vitamin C, I started eating oranges, and then slicing my apples and dipping them in dulse flakes before eating them, so I could get everything into my system all mixed together. Oranges and Granny Smith apples became my main breakfast when I lived on the ship (i.e. while in the Navy aboard the USS George Washington) - and, yes, after two six-month tours of the Mediterranean, I was getting kind of tired of oranges and Granny Smith apples!

Nevertheless, at my next training command in Biloxi, Mississippi I bought a small citrus juicer and started juicing four to six oranges every morning into which I simply added the dulse flakes directly (skipping the apple dipping part). That habit continued up until the time I bought my Vitamix. (Oddly, anyone who saw me drinking that dulse infused orange juice imagined it was salad dressing or something, so I was always having to explain myself! : ))

Somewhere along the way, I started including soaked almonds with my fruit meals. I had come to understand that even though almonds would take a little more stomach digestion, once soaked and essentially "sprouting" they would still digest with relative ease, even more so when thoroughly chewed. In addition, the usually more "acid" fruit smoothies would not throw off the "acid" pH needed to support the enzymes digesting the protein-filled nuts. After reading Sugar Busters I began to appreciate that even my healthy fruits, with their relatively high sugar content, could throw off my insulin balance, so I figured eating the almonds would be a good way to slow the sugar up-take just a little, in addition to the fact that almonds are an excellent source of Calcium and all 8 essential amino acids.

Purchase of my Vitamix allowed me to take another step forward in this evolutionary process, in part by increasing my efficiency, at least where my "fruit breakfasts" were concerned. I could use it to blend several fruits together - and - after acquiring a sufficient number of bottles from other juice producing companies like Odawala and Welches, I could distribute a full container of smoothie mix into those individual plastic bottles and then store all the bottles in the freezer. All I had to do then was pull out a bottle at night, store it in the refrigerator, and it would thaw to just the right smoothie consistency by morning. Again, I always added in the dulse, usually just before drinking so it didn't start to overwhelm the flavor too much.

Aside from that, and "for the record," the bit of saltiness in dulse simply "mellows" the natural sweetness of my smoothies. Too much dulse can be a bit overwhelming for some people, especially if they are not used to it, but otherwise gradually increasing to say a teaspoon or so per 8 oz serving, for me, has added more to the flavor than it has taken away as salt generally does that for foods - i.e. it enhances the flavor. Also, the saltiness in dulse is due to the sodium (Na), i.e. natural, plant-based, sodium - NOT "sodium chloride" or "sodium iodide" which is what you get from table salt. Not sure if it is a direct effect of this "natural/plant-based sodium," but I have for years (as my Navy medical records will show) had (naturally) "below average" blood pressure. So clearly my very regular intake of dulse, with its high concentration of sodium, as well as iron, has not had a negative, i.e. blood-pressure elevating effect on my body. Just saying... : )

In the current phase of evolution relative to my Fruit and Nut Breakfasts, I have started adding green, leafy vegetables. Maybe it was because I was already used to the dulse in my smoothies, adding some other vegetables in there didn't really change them that much for me. Yes, with an older bunch of kale or chard you might taste the vegetable flavor a little more, but again, you can start with smaller amounts at first and then increase to your level of taste tolerance from there. In addition, should I forget to soak my almonds at night, my fall-back is to a combination of raw Brazil nuts and cashews, which I do not try to sprout because they just get soggy, and which I have learned in combination effectively balance out their individual compliments of amino acids.

When it comes to smoothie ingredients, wherever available, I have relied heavily on what I could get at Trader Joe's; i.e. Frozen Fruit - Pineapple and Mango, Peach Juice, Pineapple Juice, and Organic Spinach. If you have the option to use fresh organic fruit (especially locally grown), that's fine. (You can freeze berries, etc. spread out on cookie sheets in the freezer and then store them in bags like ice cubes. That makes it easier to use just a small portion at a time.)I get the frozen fruit from the store for convenience and because I believe at least some fruits retain more of their nutritional value by being frozen at the peak of ripeness rather than being trucked for hundreds of miles across the country in their fresh form.

With regards to fruit juice - I buy organic whenever I can, but barring that, I generally won't buy fruit juice from a fruit whose skin I would not eat; i.e. oranges, mangoes, etc. because...generally speaking, when the fruits are juiced, the machines pulp the Whole Fruit including the skin and it tends to leave a bitter taste in the juice I just don't like. Some people think it adds more nutrition, but I have my doubts about that. If it is that bitter, there is probably a reason we should not be eating it. Also, I realize I am kind of going against that "number one rule" to just use fresh fruit and fresh fruit juices; but, again, I had to go with the convenience. I figured by using fresh frozen fruits that would still have some of their enzymes left, I would make up a little for the loss of nutritional value and enzymes from the pasteurized juices. There is a broad continuum of options here, and this is where I found my balance point.

So here's what I start with to make my green smoothies using the Vitamix.*

This is the process for making green smoothies:

Step One: Add the fruit juice to the blender

In this case I'm using pineapple juice...

and peach juice, filling the container to roughly the 3 cup mark.

Step Two: Add the frozen fruit

In this case I'm using Mango and Pineapple, but you can use whatever you want.

This is going to bring the container up to about 3/4 full.

Step Three: Add the greens, in this case organic spinach straight from the bag. It's been washed three times and it's all going to get pulverized in the blender so a few blemishes here and there are not going to make that much difference.

This is what the container looks like before blending:

Step Four:  Blend...

Given this is a Really Full container, some stopping to shake down air bubbles, or push down ingredients may be necessary. I have found that there is a "just right speed" where you are blending quickly enough to keep things moving, but not so fast as to have too much air being drawn into the bottom. If the mixture is too thick, you should keep some juice set aside to thin it out a little. Or, you may want to do about half as much as I am here to start out, until you get the hang of it.

Step Five: Pour into juice bottles

As you can see, I'm using a cut-out top from another bottle as a funnel. It works with these Welches Grape Juice bottles, but I know they've changed there bottles since I got these and so now they have a narrower mouth. In that case, you'll just have to look for a funnel that will work.

I fill these 10 oz bottles to the bottom of where the bottle starts to curve up, about 8 oz worth. This leaves room for expansion due to freezing, and it also allows for a little more shaking room once I've added my dulse.

Step Six: Dribble water around the sides of the blender pitcher to rinse down the last bits of greens and fruit mixture.

Slosh the water around a little...

And then distributed this slightly diluted mixture, topping off each bottle, just a little.

This way None of that Yummy Green Smoothie Goes to Waste! : ))

Step Seven: Put the lids on all of the bottles and shake well (to incorporate the diluted mixture).

(Note mesh lemon bag used for storing lids. I have found this to be the best way to keep them so they always dry out thoroughly. Otherwise, they tend to get moldy.)

Step Eight: Store smoothies in the freezer.

(This is what they looked like in the sub-compact refrigerator I used to have in my basement apartment.)

Step Nine (VERY IMPORTANT! : )): Remember to take a bottle out at night and put it in the refrigerator so it is ready for you the next morning. (And, if you happen to forget, these bottles can be "quick thawed" by placing them in a sink full of hot tap water. You may have to change the water a couple of times to get them to thaw out enough, but you can do all of that while you are getting everything else ready for you to go to work...or whatever. : ))

There are actually lots of videos on-line now for making green smoothies, so feel free to browse for more ideas. As I have suggested here, I'm keeping things as simple and efficient as I can - given my history of working full-time, etc., etc.

In "Food Basics - Part III" I will be showing you how to make my simple "Finger Salads", that can also be easily prepared in advance, and taken as part of your daily "Lunch Bag."

*During the first leg of my cross-country bike trek I did take my "Fender Blender" along for the ride. However, when it did not work very well for me in Tallahassee, FL, I decided to ship it home as it just was not worth the weight. In addition, most of the people I stayed with along the way ("Couch Surfing") had blenders that I could use instead. The frozen smoothies worked as ice packs in my food bags and I would take them from one house to another and thaw (to drink) or refreeze them as necessary. I still think the Fender Blenders from Rock-the-Bike are cool, and great for demonstrations at Farmer's Markets, etc. (I used mine that way while I was still in Maryland.) I'd like to see them have a better/sturdier container/blade though, as I think that would help with their use for "Green Smoothies" with lots of fibrous greens in them.

Legs Sore - Taking a Couple Days Off to Attend to "Administrative Details" : )

When I got on my bicycle yesterday, I realized my 35 mile trek the day before had been a little more stressful than I had thought at first. I was definitely feeling some soreness and tiredness in my legs. Nevertheless, I was determined to do some "errands" on my bicycle including finding the local library and then making a few stops on my way back, one for more fabric to make a "rain fly" for my tent, and then grocery shopping at Trader Joe's and Martin's so I'd have everything I needed to make some more green smoothies (this time frozen mango, peach juice, and kale). I've decided to take the next couple days off, to give my body some more time to recover, before heading out for another long ride.

In the mean time...

Since my host does not have a computer set-up with a printer here, I need to spend some time at the library as I have a few letters to prepare (especially for my creditors, to let them know "what's up"). I am also thinking about contacting certain companies for sponsorship, like Clif for Luna Bars and Shot electrolyte powder, and Maine Coast Sea Vegetables for Dulse. In addition, there are the companies whose products I already have that I will be "advertising" as I use them, like Apple for the iPad, GoalZero for my solar energy system, Gore for my cycling clothes, and Home Depot, Jo-Ann's Fabrics, and Hancock's Fabrics as I have used quite a few materials from all of these places to outfit my rig. Furthermore, I have received gear and services from places like City Bikes, Revolution Cycles, and REI in Maryland, and I will probably be adding one or two other bike shops to that list from here in Williamsburg, Va. (For the record, I already have a "deal" arranged with Rock-the-Bike should I manage to sell any of their Fender Blenders or other products during my trip.)

(Another reason for spending time at the library is because I want to see if I can use a public PC to down-load pictures directly to this blog. I'll admit, I still need to contact the Apple Store to see if there are applications that will allow me to do that, but for now, I'm kind of looking forward to using the library's facilities. : ))

More with regards to "sponsorship": There are at least two levels: the more public companies and private individuals. However, I really want that support to come because others recognize some VALUE in what I am doing: entertainment value, inspirational value, instructional value, advertising value, human value, etc. and they want to show their recognition of that "value" by offering their financial support. Furthermore, I realize I haven't actually started my trip yet. I haven't actually gotten on my bike and ridden it with all of my gear on it, so the journey hasn't "officially" begun, and I'm sure there are some people out there doubting as to whether or not I will actually get to that point. So, if they withhold support for that reason, I completely understand.

However, I am doing everything right now that I know how to do to actually get me, my bike, and all my gear, on the road. And although I still have a lot to do before that day arrives, and even though I'm not exactly certain when that day is going to arrive, I do feel it is coming, if for no other reason it will be the natural outcome of all of the effort, all of the other smaller goals that I have accomplished thus far.

If I were a betting person, I'd be betting in my favor, respecting the fact that I am, after all, a "turtle" and though I may not be doing this as quickly as others would, or as others might expect (even myself), I will "win" this "race" (i.e. accomplish my objectives), slowly but surely (with more emphasis on the "surely" part rather than the "slowly" part! : ))

So, for now, it's off to the library I go... : ))

Monday, August 22, 2011

Out and Back On John Tyler Memorial Parkway

For today's training ride I rode west on the John Tyler Memorial Parkway. I had planned to do a loop back north, but I missed a turn somewhere so just kept heading west. It was actually a very beautiful stretch of road, pine and diciduous forests on both sides. Not a lot of traffic (and basically no shoulder either, but that wasn't really an issue), and it was Very Flat!

My intentions right now are to slowly increase the amount of time I spend on my bike, as well as the amount of weight I am carryig with me. In considering time - since I have trained for and completed both a marathon, and several half marathons, I know that my body can keep going pretty well for at least three hours (my time for a half marathon) and it might be able to work back up to six hours (my time for a marathon). However, at six (more or less) continuous hours of exertion, it's easy to start losing too much weight, as you simply burn more calories than you can consume later. (Of course, that's a good thing if you WANT to lose weight. :)) I don't mind losing a little, but I'm not planning on losing a lot. Therefore, I'm looking at riding on average about four hours per day - or less.

In my mind, I'm thinking about this like a "job"; i.e. it is going to be my "job" to get on my bike and ride for three or four hours/day. I know the real "professional" riders do A LOT more than that, and I may do more as my body gets used to it as well. In the other hours of my "work day" I will be managing my gear, food, clothing, etc., setting up and tearing down, preparing, and cleaning. I also have plans to be taking pictures and videotaping and then, of course, there is writing on this blog and on Facebook.

Furthermore, I'm considering how many days I want to ride in a row, and if I want to alternate between longer days and shorter days as well as full rest days. Right now I have enough gear that I can ride three days without doing any wash. To do four days, I will need another set of shorts - and as much as I am liking these Gore "bib" shorts, I may just have to get another pair of these (although they are Really expensive). But, you know, the folks at Revolution Cycles in Rockville warned me - once I tried these, I wouldn't want to use anything else! : )

And for my 34 miles today, in 3 hours and 45 minutes, I'd have to say, I was really comfortable. Furthermore, I fell into more of a "meditation mode" as I was just pedaling along that very long, flat road. Some people might be frustrated by the monotony of a circumstance like that, but I realized it was a wonderful opportunity to just practice Being Happy and Feeling Without Limitation. And besides, it was really beautiful out there in the fresh air and bright sunshine filtering through the cooling shade of the trees.

To think - I have much more of this to look forward to. : ))

If you would like to add your support to my journey (let's say, in this particular case, helping me buy another pair of Gore Bib Shorts) please feel free to use the PayPal "Donate" button below, and "Thanks" in advance for your contribution. : ))

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Being on the Bike is Good!

In the past week I have had three major outings on my bicycle. The first took me through relatively familiar territory; i.e. places I had driven before - Monticello Avenue to The College of William and Mary, and then through parts of Colonial Williamsburg. It was the first time I've been on my bicycle since this past winter. It was about 13 miles for that trip, in about an hour and fifteen minutes. The second trip was down south to the Colonial National Historic Parkway. I didn't know until I got there that it would be a concrete and river rock road surface, which was a little rough, but not as bad as it might have been since my bicycle is set-up with "cross" tires; i.e. usable for rougher terrain, but smooth enough for the road as well. I think if I had been on a skinny-tired road bike it would have been much more difficult riding. That second trip ended up being a little over 20 miles. I took lots of breaks along the way, as I was traveling through several historical sites in and around Jamestown. Altogether that was a little over two hours of riding. For these two rides I carried very little with me, just trying to get used to being on the bicycle again.

For today's ride, I took a west and then northern route along News Road and then Centerville Road to Richmond Road. This is a nice area to ride as they have quite a few bike lanes and there was one along Centerville Road. I still need to do some research on which roads I am officially allowed to be on. I'm thinking the shape of the numbered sign is an indicator, but I haven't pinned anything down yet.

For the record, I've always been a street rider, so even if there is a "path" off the road, or a side-walk, I stay on the road. I actually feel safer there as it is more consistent and people can see you better there then they will when you are crossing their path 10 feet from the road (as with a sidewalk crossing an intersection). On sidewalks, you also have to worry about traffic approaching the main road from the right and intersecting the crosswalk area without even realizing it, thus blocking any traffic headed down the path. Apart from that, I also whistle in high, short bursts whenever I see a vehicle approaching from the right, and I keep whistling until I make eye contact with the driver so I know for sure that they have seen (and heard) me coming. This usually keeps them from "sticking their nose" (i.e. the "nose" of their car) into my "riding zone" - i.e. the "white line" right on the edge of the road.

The benefit of being on my bicycle right now, and still having a "home to go home to", is that I have lots of time to continue to think through everything that I need to be considering as I work my way closer to "take off." As I said in my previous blog, my intention is to add weight to my bicycle gradually. As I have tested myself just with the bicycle on some of the relatively modest hills around here, I am thinking it may not be a bad idea to go ahead and get new gearing; i.e. gearing the bike as low as possible, because if it is hard at all right now, it is going to be much, much, harder when I get all my gear loaded. My whole approach right now is to keep my cadence, i.e. my "revolutions per minute" as high as possible because this is the most efficient use of my energy and it will protect my knees and other joints which could be harmed if I were straining too much. That kind of peddaling means lower gears. I may be peddaling really fast and barely moving forward, but the point is I will still be Moving Forward (or upward in the case of hills).

Back to today's ride. I have decided to stop at a local "Food For Thought" restaurant in the middle of my ride. And, as I have been thinking (but failed to act on today), I suspect the guests might have appreciated not having to look at my lycra clad hips and somewhat scraggly legs, and therefore I probably "should" have brought along a pair of "Bell's Baggy Bottoms" to cover-up a little before going in. I will be sure and do that next time! : )

Otherwise, I'm trying out my Really Fancy riding kit today from Revolution Cycles: Gore Bib shorts (i.e. with shoulder straps and no waistband), my Gore undershirt that is especially designed for high performance "wicking" of perspiration, under a regular Revolution Cycles logo adorned riding jersey. I'm also trying out my "DZ Nuts Bliss" chamois cream...and, I have to say, I think I Like It! : )) (Also of note: The tank shorts have zippers along the sides that allow me to drop the shorts without having to pull of the should straps. : ))

Finally, I am writing to you having linked up with the free WiFi and Food for Thought (the service at the house has not been working so well this morning). All-in-all, I'm kind of doing what I had in mind to do, in terms of riding my bicycle and using WiFi where available. I may even try to find the Williamsburg Library this coming week and see what they have to offer. For now's time to eat! : ))

(Oh, and one other observation of note: There are Pancake Houses ALL OVER Williamsburg. I guess, between the college students and the retirees, the economy can support a whole bunch of them. It really is pretty funny though, to see one every few blocks! Makes me think they should call this the "Pancake Belt"! : ))

Friday, August 12, 2011

Lots of Pictures Up On Facebook

The URL above should take you to my photo album on Facebook where I have posted lots of pictures of my gear that I have been working on the last several weeks. I am getting Really, Really, close now to being done with everything.

I think I will definitely need to take some time to train (a week or so), to get used to being on the bike again, while also adding weight gradually. Otherwise, I'm feeling pretty good about what I've managed to actually get loaded on the bicycle at this point.

Also,I want to give special thanks to Andre' from the Home Depot. He helped me out A LOT with technical skill and taking many of the photos. : )) I've been wanting to do all of this (get loaded/unloaded/set-up the tent, take pictures, etc.) for a long time now and his willingness and interest gave me just the extra motivation I needed to follow-through.

I know I don't have all the computer savvy yet to make this page fully functional (for instance, I could not just get the "link" function to work with this post), but I'm going to keep at it and I hope I do get more of it figured out as I go along.

I guess you could say: "I'll get by with a little help from my friends, Gonna try with a little help from my friends..." and FOR my friends!... Peace!

Monday, August 8, 2011

"Is It Time to Go Yet?" : )

Well, actually, no, and I suspect it is getting as frustrating for anyone else reading this blog as it is for me. However, I have thought to tack a sign to my trailer with a picture of a turtle on a bicycle (like me) with the caption "Can't Rush This!" (And if the music from M.C. Hammer's "Cant' Touch This!" has come to your mind, the association would be correct. :))

I am much closer now, of course, to starting my journey, but that means my brain is also kicking into overdrive (as it did last night until 4:00 this morning) to make sure I have thought of everything I can think of that I can do to better insure the success of my journey. In addition, it is reminding me of ideas for things to do that I've actually had all along, and now I am at the point of following through on those ideas as well.

In addition, I am having to be sensitive to the patterns of the changing seasons. With my original plan, I was going to head West and then North West, assuming I would be better off traveling away from the summer heat. Now, as I am seeing myself moving more into the middle of August, with September, and "fall" not far behind, I may decide to take my route more directly West instead.

Either way, the first few weeks of my journey are going to be HOT, which ultimately means I will not be able to spend as much time each day riding, so as not to get heat exhaustion, although I'm thinking I can accommodate that some by traveling more during the early morning or late evening hours. However, cycling in the evening is more hazardous and may require using more lighting/battery/solar power as well. In general, traveling in the heat means I have to be more sure of water sources and making sure my electrolyte intake is sufficient.

All these things I have to take into consideration, and better to imagine in as much detail as possible now, and plan accordingly, than to approach this in a haphazard way without really "thinking it through" first. I have a good brain, and it is quite good at "visualization" so I am using that capacity fully. And now that I am out of my house, but have a comfortable place to do this important part of my preparation, I want to be sure I do the mental as well as practical work that needs to be done.

As I mentioned above "Can't Rush This!"...(duh, duh, duh, dunt, duh, dunt, duh, dunt...Can't Rush This!...) (Imagine a Blue Turtle Dancing in Baggy Pants!)

: ))