When the idea for this post came to me, I was riding against a slight Gulf Breeze on Gulf Boulevard, approximately 100 yards form the Gulf of Mexico.  It was a great day to be on the bike!  I started the ride with a great riding friend, but had to part ways about halfway through 35 miles. I was riding solo, in paradise.  Flat surface, hot sun and not too much interference.  In most situations, I would declare myself beyond board, but not this place, and certainly not while I was on my bike.  I never take for granted a day that I get to ride at the beach.  Or precious water, white sands, cooling breeze and occasional seabird.   Alone with my bike and my thoughts… I needed a focal point to make this ride worthwhile.  Since it felt like I was riding INTO (it was variable) the wind, I switched my bike computer over to the cadence setting.  Everything became zen when I took my focus off of speed, time, distance and just got into my rhythm.

I started to examine my cadence on the bike, I looked at the shadow I cast on the road next to me and thought, “Geez, it looks cooler to be pedaling a little faster”, so I pedaled to 88-90 RPMs.  My heart rate monitor beeped as I went up to zone 3, not quite threshold.  I was testing my fitness limits, by increasing the rate of pedaling.  I held this for a bit, found a way to keep this pace, changed gears and increased it to 95-oops that got a little too fast going into the wind.  I was losing speed.  I had to, at this moment go back to 85, shift up and settle in.  A little beat/cadence pattern got into my head and suddenly, I checked my speed to find that I was going 2.5 mph faster, with the same wind in my face.  My heart rate dropped to Zone 1/2 (the fat burning zone) and I was a happy cat cruising down the equivalent of A1A on the Gulf side of Florida.  No iPod, no paceline, no riding partners… just me, on my bike.  Riding to the beat of my own drummer.

With all of the attention required to safety and riding, I didn’t think much about cadence outside of my current circumstance.  But I Googled the definition and found these:

1. a measure of motion in time

2.  sequence

3. recurrence of sound

4.  a musical chord sequence moving to a harmonic close or point of rest and giving the sense of harmonic completion. merriam-webster

Don’t these people bike?  Music?  Really?  Oh yeah, for most of my life I have run with headphones on.  I can’t wear them on the bike and therefore have had to come up with alternative ways to set a beat.  Climbing up hills, I repeat the phrase coined by Dori in Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming.. Just keep swimming.”  Other times songs pop into my head, or chant the train cadence from the Little Engine That Could.  Rhythm is all around us.  That day, it was about finding my rhythm and becoming more efficient in completing my pedal strokes.  Thereby reducing the rhythm of my heart=less work.

Life is like that.  There are so many outside forces that want us to change our rhythm to accommodate theirs.  Work, shopping, flight schedules, boyfriends/girlfriends, spouses, children, pets.  I think you need to hold onto your beat to the most extent that you can.  If you need to raise your speed, find away to remove friction and get through your day more efficiently.  It is easier to ride a bike in a paceline, but you are at the will of leader for the speed, the cadence is yours.  Oh yeah, the only other word that came to mind that morning was patience.  It takes patience with myself to get the right cadence, it took two weeks of melatonin to reset my sleeping rhythm, but now I thrive on it and I have lost 15 pounds, due in part, to sleep.  I am trying to be more patient with people around me, with business, with life.  Certainly looking for ways to accomplish things more efficiently.  Each day, I try to take time to check my cadence.

Ironically, the definitions came back related to music.  Mom was a music minor, taught piano lessons, played the organ (a big pipe organ with lots of rows of keys), and loved music.  Despite her best efforts, I didn’t master piano or any instrument.  However, I did get the ability to carry a tune and keep a beat. (you should hear me in the shower)  I can usually find harmony to the songs that surround me.  I have the song in my heart to help me set my cadence each day.

My bike shadow at approximately 18 mph (do not attempt this)

Biking in paradise (near Clearwater Beach)


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This One’s For Mike

Building me a substitute Bike 2010

To the Rescue! Out on the route, MS150 2010

I can’t say enough good things about Mike.  He’s a great guy, with a beautiful family.  He is an excellent bike mechanic.  Oh yeah, he has saved my (biking) life several times.  He saved me today and I am grateful.

I am the only girl I know, who can screw up her bike while cleaning it. I managed to do just that yesterday.  The bike was filthy from the MS150, I’m poor, so I got to work on a little DIY cleaning.  I know what to do, maybe not how to do it the best way.  Somehow, I slipped the front derailleur out of position so I couldn’t shift my front gears very well.  (The big ones by the pedals).  This morning I did a 25 mile ride in the same gear the whole trip because I was scared to shift.  It was a great ride and taught me to shift my body’s gears instead of my bike’s gears.  I stopped by to ask HOW to fix it.  After a couple of spins, a screw and some maneuver, it was magically all better for my big training ride tomorrow.  He’s not giving up his Mike’s Magic secrets.  That is the VALUE of having a bike from a reputable bike shop.  They have people who are experts in bikes.  Bike repair and assembly is a fine art.  There are several artists at my shop, Chainwheel Drive.  They are worth their weight in gold.  I couldn’t (no would’t have a bike to) ride without them.  Thanks Mike! (Bruce, your turn will come-don’t be jealous)

There was a mechanic in my Mom’s life too.  Dr. Jones just kept patching her up and getting her through the disease.  Dr. Mark Jones, our family doctor, delivered my brother and sister, saved my Mom again and again, and he is our dear friend.  He hates MS too.

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Long Range Plans

Our long range plan, make it to Bok Tower. Short term plan, survive this hill(into the wind)!

Yesterday ( I wrote this Monday, but didn’t finish it until Tuesday), I learned how bike trails get their names in Pinellas County, how the actions of this county are intertwined with the eight counties that surround our peninsula and how the actions of a few, when led by a long range plan… can make a difference.  We had a great meeting (at least, I thought we did) about bicycling today.  I am on a task force for revising and modernizing a map/guide that is nearly 20 years old.  The first person I want to talk to is Bert Valery, who has been biking for well over 20 years.  He had a goal 20 years ago to build the trail, and now it is nationally recognized.  Talk about long range planning and continued support!   What our task force will rely on are the long range plans of the county and this region to guide us and work with other groups.

I call my personal long range plans goals.  I have short term goals such as losing 10 pounds at a time.  I have long term goals for 10 years from now.  They are written.  They are meaningful.  They help me get back to True North if I need to.  They involve more than the current emotion.  They are are based on values, not trends.

Multiple Sclerosis.  What a long range plan wrecker!  What a short term goal wrecker!  This disease is a b* when it comes to making plans.  Like every Christmas that we spent visiting our Mom in the hospital.  There have been significant advances in managing the symptoms and providing a better long-term outlook to patients diagnosed with MS.  The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has goals, dream and objectives.  They are trying to create a world free of MS.  Zero tolerance for this dream killer.  It will take the long range plans, the short-term efforts and collective group of people who care as much about preventing and curing this disease to beat it.  What can you contribute?  What are your long range plans?  When it comes to any situation like a disease, I think it is still important to have long range plans, and perhaps be more inspired to achieve them.


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Bok Tower Reflection

It takes a conscious effort to self-evaluate.  Honesty.  Dedication.  It means physically stopping.  Mentally stopping, taking a deep breath, and opening up to the details that surround you.  Looking in the mirror of truth.  Reality.  It’s not always easy.  However, to have that concrete information.  Knowing exactly where you stand, even though you are standing right there, is priceless.  Looking back on old reflections, journals, photographs is even more rewarding.  Maybe it’s chance to check yourself before you wreck yourself.  Or it is a reminder of how far you have come, how much you have grown and it’s the momentum to carry you to the next big challenge.  The wisdom to take on the challenge with confidence and grace.

I keep a bike journal.  Not perfectly, but I have kept one since Gasparilla 2009 when Publix gave away an exercise log in the packet.  I have a new journal.  It’s got a fancy cover with a picture of a bike.  It’s a mess, and there are plenty of places to catch up on the log.  I said I would write about the ride after reflecting.  So here is my reflection… looking back three years:

First year, first day- half way and I was struggling a little.

Struggled up the hills and bridges on my lil blue bike

2009:  Plus- I finished all 150, no bike/body problems, met so many new people, surprised my Mom and Dad

Delta- Forgot to eat first two hours of ride, didn’t hydrate enough, tried to take too much stuff, didn’t know how to shift, struggled in climbs, didn’t have a strong core at all, didn’t have lip protection/lip gloss (thanks Karen, for sharing)

Dad and me at the Finish Line 2010

The B-train 2010 at the finish

My "new" bike for 2010

2010  Plus- Trained at altitude in Colorado, got better at climbing, inspired by Mom, riding with familiar people, better nutrition and hydration, rode a great (borrowed) bike, rode with more experienced riders

Delta- Drove from CO to FL a week before ride, rode a borrowed, Men’s bike, overweight and climbs were hard, stopped too long at rest stops, rode above my pace too much, forgot my cell phone at hotel on Sunday, finished later than I wanted, too much salt

I was able to "give" a pull instead of riding caboose

Riding 13 pounds light helped a LOT! (Bike clothes do not flatter)

2011 Plus- Lost 13 pounds, trained wisely, worked on core on days off of the bike, climbed well, gave pulls, rode at MY pace when needed, not others, short rest stops, good nutrition and hydration, minimized distractions, didn’t have to drive :), new bike that FIT WELL

Delta-Lose 13 more pounds for next year, ride the 100 first day, better fundraising, don’t eat too much Saturday night, better pace line skills, new shorts.

Like I said, it was the “Best Ride of My Life… So Far.”  I hope that next year is better.  I hope my next ride is better.  If there was one thing I could go back in time and do-over, it would be to have been a better mirror for my Mom to reflect in.  I think I tried to help her, but my feedback was too harsh when she was beaten down by an illness.  I wanted the best for her, we all did.  I am still working to be a kinder mirror; to friends, to family, to coworkers.  Honesty is a gift, but wrapping it the right way makes it more of a present.

Just for fun:  “Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why they call it the present.” -Kung Fu Panda and Joe Madden (Tampa Bay Rays Coach)

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I Woke Up Smiling

Having a ball after the ride

Boji's walk

I’m going to start with the morning after the ride, Monday morning and update the details of the ride as I get the pictures uploaded and have time to reflect on the totality of the weekend. Here is a picture from Monday and some highlights of the week, now that words are beginning to make sense again.

If you read Food Power, the statement about making Oscar the Grouch seem sweet in the morning is still true. Give me my coffee. There has been plenty of that this week. HUGE thanks to my friend Annie who knew what the greatest gift of all for my ride would be, a Starbucks card!! Boji let me sleep in Monday until 8:15, there was a cool breeze out of the West as we walked and enjoyed the early morning light. I saw someone who told me I was glowing. Windburn? Sunburn? No, I think I was just smiling. I felt great! I was still on the high that being a part of a team, part of a greater good and surrounded by good friends gives you. I was proud of my ride, not specifically the time, the speed, the distance-but the ride. I felt great! I had one tendon, behind my right knee that was sore, but not painful. The “hot spots” (feet, hands butt) weren’t sore at all, they were just “hot” on the ride (90 degree??). It wasn’t that $1,000,000 had been accidentally deposited in my bank account.  Maybe it was the quick look that I took at my email, facebook, twitter, etc. Overflowing with messages from supporters.  It was Denny B’s (and five good friends) birthday!! Yes, I was happy about that, called my Dad later to say Happy Birthday and tell him about the ride. I stopped by the bike shop to tell a few folks thank you for their help and support.

I know, I put my little medal from the ride on Mom’s shelf Sunday night.  I think I woke up knowing she was whispering, “You did good, Court”.

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Best ride of my life… so far.

Training partner, riding partner, teacher (of bike knowledge) and accomplice-Christine

Lookin' good halfway with J.T. Nutrition guru, bike genius and just all around fun to ride with!

Although tired, I really wasn't too scared of Sunday

Finish line with my new buddy Matt

Here are a few preview pics from the ride.  The best ride of my life … so far.  There is so much to reflect on and share with you all.  Let’s just say, the third year is a charm.  I enjoyed every minute from almost forgetting my bike leaving home, to feeling great waking up on Monday morning.  My body feels great, my mind is still pretty mushy.  So for now, I made it home safely.  I will be writing more about what was so great about riding my bike last weekend.  Good night!  (James, I’m sorry I haven’t downloaded the 149 cell phone pics yet)


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Wuv my wegs

Yep, there's a picture of my butt and the back of those wegs.

(This is a 2nd attempt post from Friday night.   My phone wouldn’t cooperate with wordpress)

I have always struggled to wuv my wegs.  I can distinctly remember a fight with my mom as teenager about them.  We were in Michigan and she made a comment about them being thick or something???  As you can imagine, that made for some pleasant moments in the car.  Later, I think she realized that it hurt my feelings and self-esteem and tried to apologize.  The truth is, I have my Dad’s frame and my Mom’s musculature.  My quads are just ridiculously huge like my Mom’s were.  My Dad (and my Brother) have chicken legs.

I finally have a place to appreciate my legs-on the bike.  These stems are like a turbo-charged Vette.  Well, sometimes.  It goes back to the Food Power and how my fuel source is maintained.  I can be riding at 18 miles per hour (depending on conditions) and not get out of Zone 1 of my heart rate zones. It seems they should power me up hills, and they do… but, there is a little too much junk in the trunk to enjoy the haul sometimes.  They were definitely built for speed.  But on the bike, I have learned they are built for endurance and I get my second wind after mile 25.

I have been taking care of the wegs this week.  A self pedicure, a calf massage(gift), the good lotion, foam rolling, stretching and rest.  I hope you wascally wegs are weady!

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