Monday, September 8, 2014

East Vilas County Solo Ride

9-7-2014. I always think I should haul my bike to work with me so I can ride other places when I'm done seeing patients. On this particular Sunday afternoon, with a perfect 70 degrees and a hearty wind, I finished work in Land O' Lakes and had mapped out about 36 miles of sweet county roads. I parked just off of Highway B at the Black Oak Lake boat launch and town park. A couple of gentlemen were minding the boat landing; likely volunteers trying to prevent the spread of invasive species. As I walked towards the pit toilets to change from scrubs into bike clothes, we chatted for a couple of minutes. Apparently they were "waiting for something to happen" which made me laugh. I guess after Labor Day, there isn't much happening up here. To my delight, there was a paved path to start on towards Highway 45. I rolled through little Land O' Lakes. I like that town. Turning onto 45 South I glanced to the left to see the Welcome to Pure Michigan sign. Hello, Michigan!

My intent for riding alone today is to moderate my speed with no pressure to keep up. I also wanted to see where my thoughts would take me. No music, no company; just the beauty of the Northwoods. For a moment while riding on Highway 45, I felt rather vulnerable. I don't tend to think about the safety of road biking very often, but for a moment the fear welled up within me each time I heard a vehicle approaching from behind.

Awhile back I was on County E for work. I decided E is for Excellent. Exceptional. Enjoyable. It's really a nice piece of road, leading to another small but cute town (Phelps). Although it starts out kind of straight and flat, it soon enters the Nicolet National Forest and begins to curve, twist, rise and fall with beautiful forest lining either side.

Here is a lame picture of County E. Nice climbs, twists, turns and an incredible descent into Phelps. So incredible, in fact that I was all "woohoo!!!" going down the final hill, reaching 32.9mph. We'll come back to why that was a problem in a minute. Check out the picture below.... see the Eagle on the left? Pretty cool. Also, see the flag and the whitecaps on the lake? Yeah. I was about to ride into the wind for a nice long time.

The reason my woohoo-down-the-hill was a problem became apparent when I rolled out of Phelps and realized I was on Highway 17. Not County K, which runs along the north side of Twin Lake. Apparently I blew right past it whilst descending. Never even noticed the sign. Oops! I added a couple of miles on to my route, consulted my paper map, and went most of the way up that steep fun downhill to reach County K. Another beautiful road! It had a very nice shoulder, until it didn't. But, I enjoyed it while it lasted. There really isn't much traffic up here at this time, so I guess the odds are in my favor. As I said, I was feeling vulnerable at times. I dove into this feeling to work through it. I thought about my mom on her Harley, riding thousands of miles every year. Sometimes I worry about her. But, would I want her to stop if I had any say in it? Hell no! It would crush her soul! She loves it! 

County K scenery
I love riding bikes. So, would I like to stick to trails? My legs say no. I would have to stick with 15-20 minutes of trail. That's all my legs will allow in their state of chronic injury at this time. Besides.... I *love* seeing the countryside and going new places. I love just stopping in somewhere for an espresso or to take pictures. I love the rhythm and the sound of tires on tarmac. Birds chirping in trees, random insect noises, waving to passersby, the rush of wind, the sun on my shoulders.... so ditching my road bike isn't really an option. I considered the opportunity t pursue other passions, but I just don't find another activity that brings me such enthusiasm. It's a risk I will continue to take.

Speaking of which, my legs do still really bother me. I thought more about that. It's been going on since 2009 which was the first time I went to a doctor about it. I'll chronicle that in another post. They hurt going into this ride. When I push too hard I can feel the IT bands tightening up, my calves twisting themselves into bigger knots and thus my Achilles' feeling like they're being pinched with something sharp. 
County S. Look out!! Cyclists!!

I decided if I'm going to enjoy the rest of this riding season, I will have to go my own pace. Even if that means more solo riding, or when I ride with other people just letting go of my ego and keeping it around 15mph. So what? I'm not training to race right now. My intention is simply to enjoy a bike ride. Biking is more for my mind than body composition or anything, so what is there to gain by pushing beyond my current limit? I love these disciplines of biking most:
1. 30-100 mile 15-16mph average rides, especially with camping gear and a destination.
2. Riding a time trial bike, which feels better on my legs and also faster with less effort.
3. Mountain biking. I love moving through the woods. Especially on flowy trails!

Sweet! Back on the pike path along County B
I also thought about other things. Specifically, relationships. I'm in a place for the first time in my life where I have an amazing partner. I'm happy to be sharing my life with him. My relationship with self is up and down, as it always has been. I tried some extremes recently to lose weight, which resulted in zero net loss and the gain of rashes & headaches. I thought about what I see when I look in the mirror. I'm sick of my self-talk. I look straight at my abdomen, and that is the tool I use to judge myself. But, who am I, really? I am a strong woman. Inside and out. My legs carry me over miles, up hills, to different cities. They're short but they are strong. I am kindness and caring. Prior to this ride, a grown man was able to shed some tears while we talked about his mother who has dementia and how she may be feeling depressed. I am compassion. I am happiest when I'm in service to others. I am authentic. I am open. I am connected to spirit. I love life and humanity. That's who I am.

Not bad for a Sunday afternoon!
Physically, I feel best when I follow a primal lifestyle. No sugars, no grains, plenty of sleep, plenty of movement. My body composition is best when I lift weights, which I enjoy but neglect.

I am passionate about health and well-being. I spend hours every week listening to health and wellness podcasts and audio books. I love helping patients incorporate healthier food choices and seeing the difference it can make. Recently I've had some positive feedback from patients. I want to make a difference in this life, so perhaps I should pursue the further education I've been thinking of for the past couple of years. I love blogging and sharing photos.

I have decided to enroll in Primal Blueprint Certification as soon as financially possible. I also started a new blog, on the Wordpress format, which will be much easier to organize. The focus is health and well-being. I will have food ideas, what I'm up to for exercise/play, health rants and ideas, and of course adventure stories. It's just a baby blog now but I'll focus on having content up by October 2014.

Yum! Nice ingredients list, too! One of these and spring water fueled the ride.