Category Archives: Cycling

Sunday Self-Care: A virtual ride down Route 66

I have kind of a long-term goal — nothing really pressing, but just something I’ve thought might be cool to do — of pedaling the equivalent of the length of Route 66 on our stationary bike. About a year ago, I got on Google Maps and planned rides in increments of anywhere from 7 to 35 miles, following the road from landmark to landmark. I entered that information into Excel, printed out a chart, and hung it in the basement, where it’s been sitting, mostly ignored, for months. I noticed it a couple of weeks ago when I was testing out the new bike Ron bought after the old one broke down, and I decided to give it another go, just for fun.

I’ve logged over 100 miles in the past couple of weeks. It was easier than I expected, even with the tension turned up on the bike, and it’s a comfortable way to burn a few calories and generate a few much-needed endorphins while I wait for spring.

I don’t have the time, money, or endurance to go out and take a real ride down Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles right now, but this virtual trip is kind of a nice way to revisit favorite attractions in my head and daydream about where I’d like to explore on our next road trip.

By the way, 100 miles puts me somewhere south of the Route 66 Museum in Pontiac. If I were really on Route 66, I’d have started at the “Begin 66” sign in Chicago and passed the Berwyn Route 66 Museum, the site of the late, great Wishing Well Motel, Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket, White Fence Farm, Haunted Trails, Route 66 Raceway, the Gemini Giant (pictured above), the site of the fabulous Riviera Roadhouse, Ambler’s Texaco, Odell Station, and the Pontiac Route 66 Museum.

Emily

Make this your resolution.

I’m not cool with all the body-shaming that Madison Avenue heaps on people (especially women), but eating less junk food and exercising regularly are good for most people regardless of weight or body type, so if you rushed out to buy a gym membership today — congratulations!

That said, if your resolution involves more exercise, please also resolve to be courteous to others who have the same goal.

A few tips for newbies:

1. At the gym, leave the equipment at least as clean as you found it.

2. If you need to take a call or respond to a text message mid-workout, please don’t do it while sitting on a weight bench or standing on a treadmill with the belt stopped. Other people may be waiting to use that equipment. Don’t tie it up while you socialize.

3. Put away equipment when you’re done using it.

4. Before you get on the track, ask a staff member which direction you’re supposed to go, which lane you’re supposed to be in, and whether that changes from day to day. And NEVER walk side-by-side on a narrow track or trail.

5. Cyclists: If you’re approaching someone from behind, please call out, “On your left” or “On your right” before you pass.

6. Pedestrians: On narrow trails, please yield to cyclists, skateboarders and rollerbladers. It’s a lot safer and easier for you to step off the trail than it is for them.

7. Skaters: For safety’s sake, please pick up your board and walk in congested areas.

8. On public streets: Pedestrians should go against the flow of traffic; cyclists should go with it. This reduces the risk of serious injury in the event of a collision.

9. Dog owners: In public spaces, keep your pet on a sturdy, short (six feet or less) leash, and clean up after him/her. If you aren’t willing to pick up poop, you don’t need pets. Oh, and burn that retractable leash. Seriously. They’re useless.

Got any other tips for newbies? Share ’em in the comments!

Emily

PSA: Tracks have rules.

As we approach the new year, with its time-honored tradition of buying gym memberships and abandoning them three weeks later, I’d like to address a point of etiquette too many people ignore:

Track lane usage.

If you join a gym with an indoor track, please take a minute to find out the rules for using that track — and then follow them.

Most gyms ask track users to run clockwise one day and counter-clockwise the next. To avoid head-on collisions, find out the day’s direction before you step onto the track.

Blind curves are an unfortunate reality of most indoor tracks. The shorter the track, the more blind curves per mile — so for safety reasons, gyms with multilane tracks usually designate separate lanes for runners and walkers.

When you run in the walking lane, you risk crashing into an unseen walker as you round a curve. This risk is particularly high at the hospital-owned gym I use, where many walkers are rehabbing from injuries and have limited mobility. They can’t get out of the way if a wrong-lane runner suddenly comes barreling around a curve.

You also risk confusing walkers, who may end up in the running lane in an effort to stay out of your way. This endangers both the walker and any runners who might be cruising along in the correct lane, unaware that a slow-moving obstacle is just around the curve. There is a big difference between a 10:00 mile (my top sustainable speed) and a 20:00 mile, and if I come around the corner at 6 mph to find someone dawdling along at half that speed, I have little time to react.

This is annoying at best — I’ve just been forced to alter my pace for no good reason — and dangerous at worst, as it forces me to risk injury by stopping on a dime or changing directions abruptly to avoid a painful collision.

This scenario is even more dangerous on outdoor trails shared by cyclists and pedestrians, as the speeds are faster, and bikes tend to be harder and have more pointy edges than people. Trust me: You don’t want to be involved in the aftermath of running in the bike lane, or vice versa.

For safety’s sake, stay in your lane.

Please pass this information along to anyone who might be thinking of joining a gym after the holidays. A little forethought can prevent a lot of pain.

Emily

Calm before the storm

I ran three miles tonight at a way more respectable pace than you’d expect from a girl this out of shape. It wasn’t exactly a PR, but 11-minute miles aren’t too bad, considering. When I finished, I did a mile and a half on a stationary bike.

I also read a good book today: Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot. It was cute.

I was gratified to see a kid reading my copy of Rumble Fish today. I hope he likes it. I’ve loaned out a lot of P.C. Cast novels this year, too, and a kid came and got my copy of The Road to read while he was in TRAICE, which is similar to what we called in-house when I was a kid.

It makes me happy to see my kids enjoying my classroom library.

I’m glad today was quiet, because the weekend is going to be insanely busy.

Emily

Quiet evening

Tonight was homework night, which means I was at school until about 5:45. Five kids showed up for free snacks and help with their make-up work, which I thought was pretty good.

I came home and spent an hour and a half making a to-do list, cleaning up the kitchen, and trying to get a fire going in the woodstove before heading over to the fitness center at TCC, which I can use for free as one of the perks of being a student. It’s a pretty nice gym. I spent almost an hour working out on a spin bike and several weight machines.

I’ve got a few papers to grade — mostly just grammar assignments, which I can finish in less than half an hour — and then I’ll either fix myself a smoothie or nuke a bowl of chili and dive into my math homework.

My instincts were right on the math class and the marathon program: Adding more demands to my plate has made my whole schedule run more smoothly. It seems totally counterintuitive — if not borderline neurotic — but my schedule always seems to work better when it’s filled to the brim. I think it just keeps me honest: It’s hard to procrastinate very much when you don’t have any spare minutes to waste.

Hope your evening is going smoothly, wherever you are.

Emily

Attack of the killer procrastinators

I was supposed to be proofing the Trip Guide, studying, and working on my 101 Things list this evening … so what did I do as soon as I got home from church? Went out for ice cream and then spent an hour and a half watching Attack of the Killer Tomatoes on DVD, of course.

On a completely unrelated note, my bike, which has a grand total of maybe — maybe — 30 miles on it, is in the shop because the chain keeps slipping. I’m supposed to get it back Tuesday.

It’s a cheap bike, but I’d hoped it would at least pretend to work right for a few hundred miles.

I’m kind of sorry I didn’t go with my first instinct, which was to buy a single-gear cruiser with coaster brakes. They’re heavier and harder to ride, but they’re also virtually indestructible. I know somebody is still making them, because one of the local hospitals bought a whole bunch of them for people to use at River Parks. While my Schwinn is in the shop, I might seize the excuse to go down to the trail and try out the Tulsa Townie program. If I like the bikes, I’ll probably try to find out where they got them so I can order one of my own. You know they’re built to last if they’re loaning them out to everybody and their dog.

The good news is that I can now ride all the way up the steep side of the hill on the overpass behind Ollie’s without smacking into The Wall or having to get off and walk … and I don’t feel as exhausted and sore and shaky at the end of my morning commute now that I’ve done it a few times. I still feel too hot and a little wobbly when I get off the bike, but by the time I get into the office and drink a couple of mouthfuls of Gatorade, I’m OK.

It was kind of disheartening to feel so rotten at the end of such a short ride the first few times, but I keep reminding myself that when I started training for my first marathon, a slow half-mile jog around the indoor track at the Y jolly near killed me. Two marathons later, I more or less grasp the concept of building a base and staying focused on the end goal instead of fussing over the progress of my training, so I think a century is not entirely out of reach.

Emily

Egging me on

All of these eggs came from my hens. The quarter gives you a sense of size: The three darker ones are pretty standard-sized. That lighter one, which I found in the nesting box last week, is roughly the size of a duck egg. Not surprisingly, it had two yolks — both of which were larger than average.

Double-yolk eggs are more common than you might imagine, but that one is the biggest I’ve ever seen. Poor hen … laying an egg that big can’t have been a comfortable job.

Incidentally, the girls are doing a magnificent job of smoothing out the garden where Ron spaded this weekend. They’ve broken up all the dirt clods and reduced the soil to fine powder, all while happily consuming all the bugs, grubs, and weed seeds they can find. Fine little gardeners, my girls….

On a totally unrelated note, I rode my bike home from work tonight for the first time in a couple of weeks. Despite the lag between rides, this one was easier than the last, even with the steep hill in the middle. (The train was blocking 33rd West Avenue, so I had to take the overpass behind Ollie’s, which involves a VERY steep grade.) The messenger bag worked out well, especially when Linda asked me to run by the post office for her on the way home.

Emily