Adventures in bike riding


We’ve reached the part of Seattle summer where the fact that it’s still gray and raining is positively unbearable and I feel like I’m one rainy day away from a total psychotic break. This is what the weather looked like when we set out for our long run on Saturday:

It did end up clearing up about five minutes after we started, but was still gray and cloudy most of the day. (Until about six o clock in the evening when it was inexplicably gorgeous. So weird.) But I wasn’t feeling optimistic that we were going to have great riding weather.

In an effort to shake the “don’t wanna train”-itis that’s been plaguing me lately, (especially with the uncooperative weather), I’d been researching new ride routes and found a really cool one. It was basically a bicycle tour of Seattle, leaving from our house. No driving over to the east-side required. And the best part was that we got to see some parts of Seattle that I’d never been before, even after living here for four years. (Seven, if you count the first time we lived here.)

We started by riding up and over Queen Anne to Discovery Park. The route we were following was a little hard to figure out, so there were a few false starts and u-turns and unnecessary hills climbed. But we got to ride on this cool secret path and I got to practice taking pictures from my bike:

After somehow missing the trail that the route followed for the 47th time, we opted to just go back through Magnolia the way we’d come. We then followed a path that we’ve run on so many times, but had never ridden on. Then after dodging some cruise ship/tourist traffic downtown we were on our way to West Seattle. It wasn’t the prettiest path, but there was hardly any traffic. And look, another picture from the bike! And what’s that? Some blue sky peaking out?

I’d always wondered how you ride to West Seattle, as every time I drive there it’s not exactly bike friendly. But it turns out that there’s a very nice little path. We even stopped to take a picture of the Duwamish river. Pretty, in an industrial kind of way. And I love those big cranes, they remind me of mechanical dinosaurs. (Apparently, the Oakland version is what inspired George Luca’s AT-AT walkers at the beginning of Empire Strikes Back. Wasn’t that a fun fact? Now you’ve learned something other than Seattle’s weather sucks… )

In an effort to keep me from taking pictures of him, the boy took a picture of me:

The route continued around West Seattle to Alki, which is a very cute beachy little town. It reminds me a lot of some of the beach towns in Southern California and the Chrissie Field section of San Francisco. In order to properly train for RSVP, we stopped for fish & chips. (Specificity in training is very important!) After that, the ride got very hilly and less awesome. It was hard to figure out the route, so we’d end up stopping to squint at my phone every ten minutes, which sucked. We had a couple of missed turns, which also sucked. Finally, we found ourselves somewhere in Tukwila at 3:30 with another 20 miles left of their route.

At that point, we opted to take a more direct route home, which unfortunately meant going right through downtown. We got to ride right past the Museum of Flight, which was pretty cool. There were a few more shenanigans trying to figure out how to get on the right street, but we figured it out. Thankfully, Sunday traffic wasn’t too bad and we made it home with little drama.

There was a nice post-ride frozen yogurt stop, to celebrate surviving the crazy ride and we talked about ways we might improve future rides. I really want the training for this to be fun and not the chore that Ironman often training felt like. So far, that hasn’t happened yet. It’s hard to feel excited about spending many hours riding your bike, but after today I feel more optimistic about the possibility. The awesome farmer’s tan that six hours of getting lost in and around Seattle has to be worth something, right?


Check your head


I have this problem. In the spring, I get all gung ho and sign up for races, thinking that somehow I’ll be way more excited and motivated to train for them later on. Apparently, March Michelle is all kinds of ambitious. In addition to a two day bike ride to Vancouver BC (approx. 200 miles), we are also signed up for the Portland Marathon in October. Oh, and just for fun, I’ve got a half-iron distance (more or less, the distances are a little screwy) triathlon in mid-September. Unfortunately, summer Michelle is just not on board.

I’ve been struggling a lot with my training lately. The achilles issue that I’ve been dealing with for over a year invited a new friend to the party: a random hip pain that not only comes and goes randomly, it also likes to move around. It’s made running a real pain in the ass (literally!) Combined with our craptastic weather, it’s made motivation a big problem. I’ve been going to ART (active release therapy) off and on for a while and recently I added acupuncture to the roster, which seems to be helping.

This week has been much better, the hip pain is calming down. I’m way slower than normal, but I’ve managed to run three times this week. I also got out on the bike twice this weekend, despite crappy weather and losing my training partner to the dreaded man-flu. This was the sight as I headed out. I mean, come on, it’s just not fair!

Yesterday, I took Slim out for a nice windy two hour ride. Today, it was the road bike’s turn. (I’m still debating which bike I want to ride for RSVP… )

I haven’t been on this bike in two years (sad) so it felt a little weird at first, especially with the adjustments from Dan’s bike fit, but I soon got the hang of it. I decided to do a favorite old ride of repeats up the hill near my former job. There’s not usually too much traffic and it’s blocked from the crazy amount of wind. The ride went pretty well and aside from a couple of douche Priuses my return home was fairly uneventful. Until I looked ahead at what is officially the Weirdest Thing I’ve Ever Seen in a Bike Lane:

Why yes, that is a family pushing a row boat down Ravenna Avenue’s bike lane. I couldn’t figure out what it was when I was coming up behind them at the stoplight. (And then I couldn’t stop laughing.) I had to turn around and go back so that I could get a picture of this spectacle:

I particularly like that the little girl is wearing her bathing suit and flip flops. So, I just need to keep in mind when I just want to do this…

…that I need to get out on my bike. Because who knows what I might be missing!



A grand day out


T had to go scout a location for a big event he’s planning at work, so we had a little field trip planned to Bainbridge Island. The weather had improved greatly since our ride yesterday. (Who me? Bitter? Not at all, why do you ask?) I mean, why would we want to ride in this?

We had gotten to the ferry early, so we had a prime spot on the boat, right behind a bitchin’ Camaro:

The site was on the far end of Bainbridge and was pretty nice. We toured the space and went and looked at nearby lodging options. Then we headed over to Poulsbo to have some lunch. I’d never been there before. It was a really cute little town.

We had a delicious lunch and picked up dessert at this ridiculous bakery:

It was a very enjoyable day and a much needed dose of sunshine.

Not exactly flying…


In an effort to get us on track with our training, I’d signed us up for the Flying Wheels ride. There were options to ride 25, 45, 65 and 100 miles. We were vacillating between the 45 and the 65, but ultimately decided to go for the 65 and see what happened. It was cold, gray and windy at the start line, which was not putting me in a good mood. After a lengthy porta-potty line, we got the bikes off of the car and headed for check-in. As I wheeled Slim over, something was wrong. The front brake was rubbing the front wheel really badly. I’d been having random issues with that brake before, but nothing this bad. There was no way I was going to make it over all of those hills with this situation.

Luckily, there was a bike mechanics tent to help deal with it. (I’m not sure why this is, but for some reason I won’t believe T’s diagnosis unless someone else backs him up. So, despite him telling me the wheel was out of true, I didn’t really take it seriously until the REI guy confirmed it.) The wheel was part of the problem, but ultimately I’d have to take it to a shop with more tri bike experience to get it fixed. He was able to adjust the brakes so they weren’t rubbing and cautioned me to be careful on the downhills. (Great, that’s what me and my scaredy cat descending need to hear… )

With a heart filled with whining and dread, we headed out. The lovely thing about riding is that it’s hard to stay grumpy for long. Before long, I was passing people and feeling much more cheerful. As out of shape and slow at climbing as I am, there’s nothing like a big organized ride to make you feel better about yourself. I was passing people on all of the climbs, it was awesome! Before long, we made it to the 20 mile mark and a decision, do we go for the 65 or play it safe with the 45? Right or left? We chose the hard road and went for the 65:

With the food stop still 11 miles up, we took a moment to eat a little snack and snap a few more pictures. (I really wish I could take photos while riding, but I’m too afraid of dropping my phone… )

T also managed to get a flat. That boy has skills, I tell you.

The 11 miles to the aid station flew by and it was nice to refill our bottles and get some snacks. We were feeling pretty good, despite the fact that my nose would not stop running. I’m not sure if there was some sort of pollen in the air or what, but it was seriously disgusting. As the ride continued, I started feeling my lack of bike fitness in the form of cramping in my quads and just general fatigue. By the time we got to the next aid station, I was pretty pooped and we still had approximately 25 more miles to ride.

We took a nice long rest and I loaded up on some salty pretzels in the hopes that my leg cramps were electrolyte related. (No such luck.) I knew the last section had a big whopper of a hill and I was not looking forward to it. In addition to my runny nose, I was getting chills and feeling like crap. As we got closer to the big climb, I was feeling worse and worst. Finally, I decided to send the boy ahead of me and head back to Carnation, the town near the last aid station. They had a Starbucks where I could wait for T in relative comfort.

All in all, I managed about 53 miles. Which is twice as long as any rides I’ve done this year, so I should be pleased with that. I’m choosing to blame my weird head cold thing for my lack of perseverance, but I’m also struggling with my mojo right now. Somehow, I need to get back on track…

Vegging out


T and I have a big ride coming up in August. So, what we should have been doing today was riding our bikes. But for whatever reason, neither of us could muster the enthusiasm to make that happen. We were feeding M & J’s cats, so we stopped by the Ballard Farmer’s Market for some veggies. I thought I did pretty well. Here’s what 23 bucks buys you:

Back at home, there was more discussion of whether or not we were going to ride. And we decided we’d really rather spend the day tackling a couple of projects we hadn’t had time for, including making a home for those tomato plants we picked up in Prosser last weekend. So, the ride was called in favor of a raised bed project. After a trip to Lowes and Home Depot (don’t ask) we were off and running. I worked on some cooking projects while T got started on the construction phase. There was a good bit of swearing and grumbling, but before long there was some real progress being made. Of course, he did have lots of assistance:

So much assistance:

Moving the box into position (and don’t think that he doesn’t have a master plan diagram for future boxes, because you’d be way wrong… )

Then the box got loaded with potting soil/compost and tomato plants:

The boy posing with his triumph:

And Wally wandered in to enjoy a few more mouthfuls of potting soil. (Life with labs is so awesome!)

Not to be outdone by T’s awesome project, I threw down a delicious dinner of grilled salmon and a delicious lentil salad with asparagus and arugula pesto. Bam!

While it was a terrible day for bike training, it was a very productive day around the Dragonfire house.