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Day 2 we planned to be one of our longer days – about 65 miles from Pismo State Beach to Gaviota State Park:

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Day 2 ride – Pismo Beach to Gaviota State Park

We figured that with how nice and easy our warm up day was, and how we’re in much better shape now than during our last trip, a 65 mile day should be a picnic. Well….we were mildly mistaken. We got started quite late – in spite of waking up at roughly 6:30, we didn’t actually hit the road until 9:45. Don’t ask me what we were dillydallying with for three hours, but that’s just how long it took that day. We had a good start, easily making the first 20 or so miles into Guadalupe. We got lunch there, and after again dillydallying for over an hour, we headed back on the road. Biking after a heavy delicious lunch is SO DANG HARD. I’m one of those people that apparently requires all of my body’s attention to digest food, so after a meal I always feel incredibly lethargic and sleepy. Nevertheless, on we went. It was a beautiful day in beautiful countryside.

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fields outside Guadalupe

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california fields

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full and content

One of my favorite things about day 2 was when we stopped by a fruit stand and bought 2lbs of strawberries. We enjoyed those suckers for days.

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getting strawberries

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strawberries strapped to the front of my bike :0)

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grapes ripening on the vine – fall in California

About halfway through the day we started getting into some hills. Now, mind you, these were not exceptionally big hills – less than 1000 feet, for sure. Still, they were the only real hills we had during this trip, and they happened to fall on our long day. It was beautiful up in the hills, and we figured we were only a couple of hours away from being done for the day. Based on our elevation map, it looked like just two slow and easy hills, and we’d be hitting camp by 6pm.

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seany’s silly face

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going down!

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you can’t tell, but I’m actually somewhat terrified of going down this hill

….well, we went up. And up, and up. And then down a little…..and then back up. The fog rolled in and the landscape took on a quiet, mystical air. The sun started to set. And still, there was no sign of civilization, campsite or park.

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fog sets in

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fog sets in

The supposed short hill turned into miles of slow uphill peddling. It got dark and cold, and the thing just kept going and going. I have to say, that it wasn’t a particularly steep hill. Once it got dark, I could barely even tell I was going uphill at all. All things considered, it wasn’t a difficult ride. But this taught me a real lesson about the importance of your state of mind. I was languishing – getting anxious and tired and overwhelmed. And most of this wasn’t due to the physical strain on my body (though, certainly, physical exhaustion was also setting in) but emotional strain on my morale. That feeling of “we must almost be there” and “I bet that’s the downhill right over that ridge”, and having that expectation shattered again and again is so disheartening. Additionally, the growing dark, the isolation, the chill of the fog seeping in – it all adds up to a feeling of extreme desolation. We started too late, we took too many breaks, and by this point it felt like we would never get there.

But, of course, we did. After biking up and up and a little down and more up up up that infernal hill for 3 hours, we finally hit the top. This was particularly exciting not only because the top of the hill meant we were a mere couple of miles from camp, but because it meant a steep downhill. I had taken my glasses off because the mist made them useless, and by this point it was completely pitch black. My bike light was partially blocked by the sleeping bag strapped to my front rack. The cherry on the sundae of this insane descent was that it was at this precise moment that the bike lane disappeared and the road we were on joined up with highway 101. So picture this – you’re on a bike weighing roughly 80 lbs. You’re partially blind because it’s dark and you can’t wear your glasses. You’re on the shoulder of a freeway speeding downhill at roughly 30mph, while your husband rides next to you so his bike light can illuminate your path.

What can I say, it was an adventure.
We arrived at camp at about 8:30, after what turned into 72 miles of biking, completely drained both physically and emotionally. Thankfully, there were hot showers and quick meals to be had. We made an instant freeze-dried dinner (which, incidentally, was delicious) which included a Shepard’s stew and chocolate cheesecake. A quick game of cards later, and we passed out at about 9:30.

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Sean, planing the next day’s route

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A few weeks ago (yes, I’m quite behind on blogging about it…) Sean and I completed another section of the West Coast on bike: San Luis Obispo to the Mexican border.

We started on Thursday October 18th. Early in the morning we backed all of our bikes and camping gear into our car and drove from San Jose to San Luis Obispo (a 3 hour trip). Sean’s sister Mariah studies there, so we planned the beginning of the trip in such a way that we would be able to hang out with her for a few hours that first day.  When she headed to class in the afternoon, we attached all of our gear to our bikes, slathered on sun screen, and headed out.

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Sean and I, about to head out of San Luis Obispo

That first day we had only planned for a brief ride, knowing we wouldn’t hit the road until 3pm. The ride was from the Cal Poly campus to Pismo Beach – roughly 16 miles. We figured it would be nice to start the trip with a warm up day to make sure everything on the bikes was fine and we were set to go.

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riding route – day 1

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lovely spot near first camp at pismo beach

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the bikes, fully-laden

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lovely spot near first camp at pismo beach

The ride out of SLO was great – beautiful, easy and short. A perfect warm up. We arrived at our camp for the night at about 5pm – with plenty of time to set up camp, make dinner, and even wash our clothes. These sorts of trips we usually bring two sets of biking clothes (shorts+top) and dry the previous day’s washed clothes on our bikes as we ride. That’s why in a lot of our pictures our bikes are covered in socks and shorts and shirts – it’s an effective way to air-dry laundry, especially if it’s warm out.

In the evening, Mariah drove out to the camp to join us for dinner and hang out with us some more (we left our car with her for the week).  We had a great time just relaxing and eating copious amounts of roasted marshmallows. Camping as it should be :0).

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I’ve never thought of myself as an athlete. I’ve always been a slow, somewhat sluggish, full-figured sort of gal. But I started doing triathlons a couple years ago and I suppose that means I’m an athlete now, no matter how slow, sluggish, or full-figured I may be. I’m not one of those triathletes who eats healthy and is all fit and fast and never gets out of breath. I’m one of those barely-walk-across-the-finish-line-but-feel-triumphant-anyway sorts of triathletes. And I love it.

I stopped biking and swimming right after the last tri in Sept, while continuing an occasional running schedule (in fact, getting worse and worse with each occasional run). We’ve been to Hawaii, Ethiopia, St. Louis, Chicago, San Diego and Las Vegas. Needless to say, I’ve fallen a little behind with my training, and I’ve eaten everything I could get my grubby little hands on. And can I tell you, it is more than a little depressing when you go from being able to run 5 miles to being able to barely run two. Ok, I said I was an athlete, not that I was a good one.

The the fun thing about triathlons is that you work, and sweat and strive and succeed… and then the tri happens and it’s like hitting the restart button. And if you try harder, maybe you can do better next time. The next tri I’m planning on is the Morgan Hill Sprint Triathlon at the end of May. It’s a great course that Sean and I have done before, and I am aiming to kick my previous time’s ass. Which shouldn’t be too hard, considering I came in dead last in my age group.

Well, this week was a good start to my journey to the next tri – 3 runs, a bike and a swim. The runs were short intervals : 2min walk (4mph)/2min run( 6mph). Times 5. Which is a lot worse than I used to do, but you gotta (re)start somewhere. For the bike (my first time in the saddle since October!) Sean and I biked to his work – a nice, slow 25 miles in the frosty morning. Then I topped the week off with an easy 30 laps in the pool, just trying to get the feel for it again.

Feels pretty good to be moving again. AND!

I’ve been having the worst lower back and hip pain. For weeks. Which didn’t help my running progress at all. I would have to take pain killers just to make it through my days of sitting at the computer (sitting with a bum hip = no fun) and my short runs. And sleeping? Forget about it. And then – a miracle.

There I was, stretching my hip after a long shower, trying to get the ache to mellow out and I hear a quiet “click” as something pops into place in my hip. Now, I don’t want to jinx it or anything, but I think it’s healed! NO PAIN for the first time in two months! I feel reborn.

Hallelujah!

Now I’m ready :0) Lemme at that treadmill!

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