Boy, I’m sure racking up the mileage on my bike. I realized yesterday that I’ve only had this bicycle since March and now I’m up to over 30 miles a ride. Holy cow–considering I hadn’t ridden a bicycle in decades prior to that, I am impressing the heck out of myself. And for a 49 year old woman, that ain’t too shabby. (I still feel 39.)
Saturday morning was my normal walk with my steady walking buddy. We walked a portion of the Burke-Gilman Trail and I calculated the round trip to be about six miles. We usually can do more, but it was hot out and she’d been doing some gym work the days preceding so was more tired than usual.
After my walk, I came home and rested up, ate, and changed and got ready for my bike ride with my bestest biking friend (BBF). While sitting outside eating my lunch, this is what my backyard thermometer said. Easily 80 degrees. About time! Love it.
Finally we got going and we started in Snohomish at the south end of the Centennial Trail. (Click the link to read more.) This is a trail that is paved and goes along an old rail bed. Don’t let the idea that because it used to be a railway that there aren’t some deceptive hills. Not huge, but steady slight upward grades that for a newbie cyclist like me can be pretty challenging. I made it through them because I kept my head focused on the return downhill part! Woohooo! (Not to mention the steady encouragement and praise from my BBF.)
Here’s an image of the trail map, but you can go here to see the full-size PDF. The trail goes from Snohomish through Lake Stevens to Arlington and is 34 miles round trip. We did the WHOLE trail.
What an amazing day. We couldn’t have had better weather and the trail is absolutely phenomenal. I like this trail better than the Burke-Gilman Trail. It’s less populated, wider, and the views are breathtaking. At one point you are elevated above the Marysville valley farmland area looking westward through forests of cedar trees. Look the other way at times and you see snow capped mountains flanking beautiful lush farmlands sprinkled with horses, livestock, and quaint farm houses. We passed a campsite of bikers (motorcycles) enjoying a summer bike ride. There must have been 75 or 100 bikers. Impressive. And we passed (or were passed by – depending on my stamina level) many families with children out cycling.
Speaking of families, as we hit the Lake Stevens area, who did we spy but my daughter, her hubby, and my two grandsons out for a walk, ride, and skateboard. Cody was on the skateboard, Cindy and Evan were walking – ok, Evan was in the stroller – and Cayden was riding his bicycle. Man does that little guy go fast and love to put on the brakes fast. Then he pops up his front wheel saying, “Look at this!” What a wonderful treat to run into them. And they got to meet my bestest biking friend, so that was cool too.
Here I am at mile marker 12 on the way up to Arlington. (Pictures taken from my cell phone, so, sorry for the poor quality. The black strap around my waist is holding one of my water bottles. Even with two water bottles, it wasn’t enough. Must remedy that.)
The other thing I like about this trail is that there is a long stretch where roads cross the trail but the cars are required to stop for the cyclists, pedestrians, etc. Oh, and there’s even an equestrian trail that runs parallel to the paved trail. Drivers up in that area, when they had the right of way, were so courteous and stopped to let us cross. That was not lost on me. Usually drivers are so rude to cyclists (I’ve been guilty of that at times and now I’m sorry.)
We are definitely going to do this trail again. We’re talking about taking along a lunch next time and parking at the picnic bench that they have that overlooks the valley. It was so quiet along portions of the trail that it is just an ideal place to sit and enjoy a bit of serenity and soak in the gloriousness of life.
Saturday mileage recap:
- Walking – 6 miles
- Bicycling – 34 miles
- Total mileage: 40 miles.
What do I love best about all this activity? That the next day I’m no longer so stiff that it hurts to stand up and walk, and that the tightness that is developing in my muscles feels incredible. My spirit feels rejuvenated and alive, and I feel like I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. My confidence level and outlook on life has been rocketed into a different dimension. It’s just mind blowing, really.
(PS. My cycling buddy has done “Century” rides in the past – 100 mile rides. Guess who will eventually be doing this too? But not alone!)
Check out this review of the Pashley Poppy bicycle by London Cycle Chic. My original wish when I was bicycle shopping was to have a pink bike. Except for the seat, this has the appearance of everything I wanted as far as looks go.
I could so see myself as a Sarah Michelle Gellar lookalike. Heels and all.
Seriously. If I had an extra whatever, I’d order up that bike just to have a second one for funning around down and wandering up to the grocery store or farmers market for fruits and veggies.
Love her top too. How cute is that? (Except it threatens to look a little maternity.)
The bike I did get is very similar, don’t you think?
Saturday I spent the day biking with a friend. To the left is the map of our route. This is the Burke-Gilman Trail that is very popular in the Seattle area. We started up in the top right of the map (Tracy Owen Station Park), and went all the way down to where the blue line ends, past the gap, to where the blue line starts again (Ballard Locks), and then back. Add in a little half mile detour where we thought we lost the trail (that empty part of the mark) and our total mileage was just about 30 miles roundtrip.
Yup. Thirty miles. Just last week we did fifteen and today we doubled that. When we got to the Ballard Locks we stopped and had some lunch on the grass at the botanical gardens and listened to a band play. At one point, I caught the tune of what they were playing and it was “What a wonderful life". I sort of choked up a bit at the serendipity of that song playing just then and where my life has taken me over the last year or so. I am so incredibly grateful for everything – and everyone – in my life. I couldn’t be more blessed right now.
Here are some pictures for you of the day.
Remind you a bit of Sleepless in Seattle?
Me in Fremont, near the Lake Washington Rowing Club. The view is looking east up toward Portage Bay and the University of Washington.
Another gorgeous houseboat near the Fremont Bridge.
Where we had lunch. Yum. (Didn’t worry about my points, since I had my weekly allowance still, and I calculated that I earned about 24 activity points over the course of the ride!)
Waiting for lunch.
I had to capture this. Do you think they also sell ice cold fake sodas?
Me at the Ballard Locks
Clearly the photographer is making me laugh.
Looking down through the locks that lead out to the Sound.
After we got back to our starting point, we rested and walked out along a dock. Pretty willow tree.
I just love shots of lakes through the trees.
Some of the local residents along the lakefront.
So after thirty miles and five hours out and about (about 4 of those actually riding), I’m feeling almost capable of doing just about anything!
It’s not all that bad. I think I made it harder than it had to be. That’s because I’m overly analytical and spending more than $50 on anything is difficult for me. I have to study, compare, analyze things to death before I can make a purchase.
For me, a newbie bicyclist, in my late 40s, and somewhat self-conscious still because of my recent weight loss, I think it was even harder. I want to be comfortable, but at the same time, I don’t want to look ridiculous. I don’t need an invisible sign that says “She’s new, look at her” or “Whatever was she thinking wearing THOSE?”. I also didn’t want to go out on my bike feeling like all I wanted to really do was go home and change clothes. Bicycling for me is fun and I don’t want anything to spoil that excitement.
So, to reduce the chances of those things happening, I studied and studied bike shorts. I’m not sure I still know all the ins and outs, but here’s what I did.
Filter out the noise. There are a million brands out there. Figure out what the top three brands are and choose from among those. Or, figure out your budget and choose what fits there. I had a starting budget of up to $100 for a pair of shorts.
The long or the short of it. Decide if you want long or short bike pants. It’s summer here so my first purchase for me was going to be short. I wanted them above the knee so I could get a tan on my legs. Vain, yes. I might regret not having moisture wicking fabric behind my knees. I’ll get a long pair toward the fall when the temperatures change.
Seams right. How many seams do you need? Some shorts have four seams, six, eight, or more. I’m not sure what the ideal choice is, but the important factor is, I’m told, that the seams are stitched flat, and not going along parts of body where they’d rub. Apparently, the more panels, the better. Although I was told at one bike shop that Specialized shorts are the exception to this rule.
Waist not. The waistband is important. You want to be comfortable. I purchased a version that has yoga-like crossover band at the front, and dips down a bit in the front for comfort. I certainly don’t want elastic digging into my waist as I ride along.
Padding the truth. The important part, so I’m told, is the padding. For comfort, for moisture control, and for longer rides. Never, ever terry cloth, I’m told. Always chamois or microfiber. And you don’t wear underwear with them.
Shape and size. Seriously. How on earth do you know what the right chamois shape is? There are so many variances in design. Some have grooves, some don’t. Some are gel-filled, some aren’t. Some are wider at the rear, some not. Some feel like you have cardboard stuck between your legs, some feel just fine. Sort of like Goldilocks testing porridge, you have to just buckle down and try them all on. I sat in them in the dressing room, stretched my legs up and down as if I would be pedaling to see if there was pull or strain on my thighs, waist, other important parts.
As I was trying on numerous pairs, this thought crossed my mind: “Claire, you’re going to end up buying another pair anyway, so just make a decision. Buy a pair if they feel reasonably comfortable and give them a try. This won’t be the ONLY pair you ever buy.”
So what did I choose? I chose the pair in the picture above: Novara (an REI Brand) Carema Bike Shorts. Novara is the REI brand and they were about $44.50. They were actually more comfortable on than the more expensive Pearl Izumi and Shebeest ones. At least in the fitting room.
I’m taking these shorts out in public today for a longer bike ride. I’ll report back on how they do, how I do, so stay tuned!
I’m starting this website as a place to gather and write topics that relate to health and wellness, including, but not limited to, weight loss, bicycling, nutrition, cooking, recipes, and any other number of topics that inspire people to live a positive life with a positive attitude.
Stay tuned as I’ll start by interviewing some great friends who have wonderful tips for beginning cyclists and thrifty outdoor gardening.