Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Road to El Reno

Today was our first ride to El Reno of the season. The main feature of El Reno that attracts us is its distance from Oklahoma City. From the boathouse at Lake Overholser to the Shell station in town and back is almost exactly 40 miles of back roads in reasonable repair with little traffic. Like our other favorite rides, it's popular with cyclists, so motorists expect to see us and that adds to our feeling of safety. It's a mostly flat ride, with a variety of things to look at. This makes it a very good weekend ride when what we are looking for is mileage and heat. If you are not cycling it is also the Home of the Fried Onion Burger. Every year El Reno has a Fried Onion Burger Festival featuring a burger eating contest , a car show, and the cooking of the World's Largest Fried Onion Burger (weighing in at around 750 pounds) that is great fun. While delicious and well worth the trip, onion burgers are not a great choice if you plan to ride back home on a bicycle in the heat. Outbound we had a little bit more excitement than usual. One of the bridges we usually cross had been destroyed in a flood, and while the bridge has been rebuilt, the roadway on either side is not yet paved. We all carried our bikes for a fair distance over the dirt. It was packed enough not to be too unpleasant, but cycling shoes are not really suitable for walking along in the dirt. It was our taste of cyclocross for the year. I had a half packet of GU energy gel in my bento (a little purse-like thing velcro'd to my top tube) and when I carried my bike across my shoulders it squeezed out onto my handlebars, in the bento, on my camera case - all over. Oh well, you live and learn. The funniest thing about it was when we arrived in El Reno one of the girls discretely told me I might want to wipe off my shirt - I had some globs of GU on my shirt and it looked just like a big drippy snot!

The weather was fine, and as we left the station some of us decided to go on to make up a 60 mile ride. One of our party started back, as 40 miles was as much as she wanted. The rest of us went on. Some 5 miles down the road some turned back, and some of us continued on to 30 miles, planning to follow the same roads back to complete a 60 mile ride. After we had all been back through El Reno we all met up again on the road, and went back by a different route to avoid the dirt road. Instead we had hills. It may have been a superior training choice, but I can tell you our legs were not so happy about it. A late lunch of Mexican food made all well, and we parted tired but happy.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Logan is a Teenager

June 22, 2008, originally uploaded by cinderellenk.

Apparently Logan is now a teenager, or at least he has developed attitude!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Riding with the Orphans

Yesterday's ride was fun, if hillier than I remembered. The day started cool and windless - perfection for a ride. Susi took the fun ride, Sharon and Dee took the 27, I tackled the 44, and Helen and Di went for the 56. We all finished our rides in various stages of exhaustion. I had a momentary Hmmmm, considering taking on the 56 mile course, but immediately came to my senses. This was a good thing, as I don't think I could have gone much farther than my 44 miles. The 44 was billed as "hilly" and the 56 "very hilly". Those who took on that challenge reported back that it was very hilly indeed. One of the nicest parts of the BCH ride is that a nice long stretch of the course runs alongside Draper Lake. The cool temperatures and the light breeze combined with the beautiful quiet lake made for delightful ride. I even heard quail calling near the road. Then came the hills, and the day heated up.

Today Shana and I and a group of friends tried out a new sport - new to us, anyway. We went out mountain biking. There are some nice trails out near Lake Stanley Draper, near where I was riding just yesterday. What a challenge! I must admit my legs were still fatigued from yesterday when I mounted up this morning, but even had I been completely rested it would have kicked my behind all over the state. It was HARD! No action pictures of the ride, because I was struggling with the bike the whole time and could not spare a hand for the camera. I fell off twice (no harm done). I spent the first third of the ride jamming on the brakes trying to avoid running into trees, the second third trying out some of the skills I've been reading up on, and the last third panting and cursing under my breath, being too tired to use anything I was learning. My bike and I had some fundamental differences concerning which direction I thought we should be going. I had started out by reading up on the skills I would need. This is typical for me, being a long-time bookworm. It actually was useful, but I think the second read through with a ride under my belt will be more helpful. There is so much going on I had a hard time focusing. The bike was unfamiliar, the trail was new to me, and I simply do not have the strength or the skills yet. I think they will come, but it's going to take some work. There is also a parallel to trail riding on a horse - when you get done you have to clean up your mount. After I got home I had a bike wash going in the front yard with two mountain bikes and Big Blue all getting a good cleaning. We ended the ride with birthday cake and sandwiches, looking forward to the next outing.

The next organized ride will be the Tour of Payne in Stillwater Oklahoma. It's a good ride, fairly hilly, with great stops. Its the only ride I know where most of the rest stops are indoors with air conditioning and flush toilets! It's a tough ride in the heat, and my Goldilocks' choice of distances will be between a (too short) 36 miles and a (too long) 62 miles. It will be a tough choice.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Now With No Backsides

Looking back through the last few entries that featured cycling, I apparently am posting lots of pictures of anonymous backsides. I had a few more pictures of that sort from the most recent addition of the Wednesday Night Hills, which I thought would illustrate how many of us had come out, but in light of the fact that one set of buttocks on a bicycle looks much like another I will instead post a picture of some of the local folk we see on our weekly ride and a couple of pictures of riders from the front. I was surprised to note that while this group of cows sees a large number of cyclists at regular intervals, the sight of one actually stopping on the side of the road is alarming. Several shied away as though I was going to stick my barbecue fork right through the fence and poke them in the face. On the other side of the road a group of people were sitting around watching a fire consisting of a lot of pecan branches that had come down during the various storms we've had in the last year. Shana would have been terribly sad to see it, because she would have liked to have some of that wood to smoke briskets. They probably thought I was barking mad to be stopping at the side of the road to take a snap of cows.

I've got an event tomorrow : the Baptist Children's Home Ride. We generally call it the "Damned Orphan Ride" after my first experience with the event. The first time I went, Shana and I arrived a bit late. It was one of the first events we had ever gone to, and we were not as organized about preparing for the day or getting ourselves ready to go once we got to the venue. We typically made it to the starting line late, or nearly so, stressed out and cranky. Our group had already left, so we ended up having to leave with the orphans (yes, it's a real children's home), who go slow, stop suddenly, and weave all over the road. In addition to being late, I was also new to clipless pedals and prone to falling over while still attached to the bike. Needless to say, I fell over in an attempt not to run over any children. Later in the day Shana caught me complaining about the "Damned Orphans", quite possibly to one of the organizers of the ride.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Corporate Challenge Proceeds Without Me

This year my company did not field a team for the Corporate Challenge. Mainly this was because the individual responsible for organizing our participation took another job this spring. Her replacement for the effort had little interest in it, and it did not happen. I was disappointed (not enough to offer to take over for next year, of course) but since some of my friends would be competing for another company I got to cheer anyway. This was Shana's year to participate for her company. She's signed up for the Time Trial (my event!) early on and volunteered to take over a leg in a swimming relay when a team member dropped out. I thought that was plain heroic - mainly because the idea of swimming in ANY kind of a race is inconceivable for me, but also taking the spot on a team at the last minute seems very bold. For Corporate Challenge it (almost) doesn't matter how your event goes. Your team gets points just for participation in each event. While a team who does not win any events won't win anything, a team can still get points just for getting as many people as possible involved. It can encourage corporate teamwork as well as get people thinking about trying fitness activities for fun. The participants on Shana's team also score "wellness" points that can reduce their health insurance cost. By her willingness to jump in and swim on the team the other members didn't miss out on their points.

Saturday Miss Vivian came to spend the afternoon with me. Not only is she walking, but she's on the verge of running. Both hands are always at the ready in case something, anything, comes in reach. I bought her that ultimate of grandma gifts: the rhythm band. It was too cute to resist, and she's all about making things happen. This toy had the instant gratification she likes, and the noise factor so appealing to little people. Of course nothing holds her attention like forward motion. Mainly she just walked around as fast as possible poking her little nose into everything she could find. I hustled after her making sure she didn't get into too much mischief. Rita was visiting for the weekend, and although Vivian was a little wary of her, it was still great to have an extra pair of eyes. More pictures as always, over at Flickr.

After the Time Trial Shana went to take her dad out for a Fathers' Day lunch at a local Moroccan restaurant. He's always interested in trying something new, and this is a family restaurant just around the corner from our home. I took off to go for a ride with friends. We were lucky in the weather - although rain was threatened we only got a little sprinkle just as we were finishing our ride. One of the party had a brand new beautiful bike which got a flat after its first five miles of use. It provided an opportunity for a flat fixing clinic, and a reminder that you shouldn't leave home without a spare tube. In this case the "victim" did not have a spare, but the rest of us did and now she will too!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wednesday Night Hills

Every Wednesday night during "the season" some portion of our cycling group goes out to ride some challenging hills. It was Kim's idea (yes it was) that we needed to add a challenging ride to our training routine, and preferably one with hills (and lots of them). We had been logging training miles by going west of the city over flattish routes, mainly I think because the event we look forward to most during the year is the Hotter N Hell 100 ; we have tended to do a lot of training with that in mind. That event has a very flat course, but lots of wind and typically (big surprise) HEAT. However, most of the other cycling events we do have a generous number of hills. Although parts of Oklahoma are very flat it's rare to see a cycling course of thirty miles or more that does not include a variety of hills, and most of them brag about how hilly and punishing the course is. Besides the increase in our climbing skills, the Wednesday Night Hills have made us all a lot stronger - if you don't have time for a long ride you should make it a hilly one. We take pretty much the same route every time, so what keeps us at it?

Taking the same route lets you compare "apples to apples". Riding the same hills you can easily gauge your progress. Also, the route is scenic with a lot of different things to look at (and not too many dogs). We ride out into the country to Jones. A lot of cyclists are taking the same route, so we all have the benefit of riding where cyclists are often seen and anticipated - safety in numbers. We don't have to check in and plan every week because we already know where we will meet. Anyway, the same route is not the same every week in the country. We see the progression of the season week by week - the calves grow up, the crops mature, the vegetable garden on the corner in Jones springs up, with something different ready to eat as the weeks go by. We see the kittens on people's porches grow into cats, the river is low or high, the sound most heard is frogs or cicadas, we are pleasantly cool or boiling hot. Last year we were often hurrying to beat the rain. This year every time we go out we are fighting 30 mph winds. We start the ride energized or exausted, happy to be there or cranky. The ride may be over the same route, but it's different every time. Of course after blabbing on about our hills I post only flat road pictures - Obviously I am still struggling with some of them and only have the energy for the camera on the flat stretches!

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Today a few of us took part in the 15th Annual Red River Roadkill Rally leaving out of Ardmore, Oklahoma. We were planning on completing the 40 mile ride, which goes around Lake Murray. It's a beautiful ride, passing through the rolling countryside and Lake Murray State Park. After a start signalled by a shotgun blast, 500 cyclists rode through downtown Ardmore and out into the countryside. We were nearly fortunate in the weather, as during almost all of our ride the sky was overcast. On the other hand, we enjoyed very warm temperatures, 84% humidity, and high winds. After a struggle up Tater Hill Shana and Sharon began to think about "sagging in". We ran into two more of our party at the next rest stop, and we all proceeded down the road, but a few more hills convinced Shana and Sharon that it was time to stop. They asked me if I wanted a ride as they cruised by in the bed of a pickup with their bikes as I continued on. The relief that there were no more hills on the scale of Tater Hill on the course was tempered by the knowledge that my legs were so tired that the smaller hills were still challenging. Coming up on the forty mile mark my back hurt (meaning I must get back to my yoga practice) and my feet started to complain. The ride was soon over and once I got a meal and a nap the feeling of accomplishment was mine. Three of us finished our ride today, swearing that beginning next week we step up our training to include longer and tougher rides than we have been selecting lately. Our Wednesday Night Hills had been pared to 20 miles to accommodate repairs to a sinkhole on our route and the shorter days of spring. Those two excuses no longer apply, so it's back up to a 30 mile ride for us on Wednesday nights, with a longer ride on the weekend. I'll be back in yoga class with the weak muscles of my torso howling in pain.

When I got home and checked out Tater Hill on the Internet, I found that it has a claim to fame other than killing cyclists dead every year. Apparently Tater Hill was the site of a massive UFO sighting in 1965. I did not see any UFO's today, but next time I'm down that way I'll sure be looking for them.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Grumpy Goodness

According to Science Daily, in my age group there is an inverse relationship between cognitive ability and pleasing personality. So HAHA! my grouchy personality is actually a marker for superior cognitive ability!

On a separate, but tangentially related topic: if you feel the need to show off your unpleasant personality by stomping off in a huff, try to do it on a cool day with low humidity, and try to be wearing comfortable shoes.