Wednesday, November 12, 2014

t-t-t-too much time on my hands

 I’m not gonna lie, I’ve got a bit of free time on my hands right now…and considering I’ve been off work for about 2 months, I’m trying to keep my cash outlay low. That said, what I’m about to reveal is not for financial gain, but more of trying to keep my community clean and get a bit of exercise at the same time. Here in Maine we have a bizarre littering problem. Every state has litter, but for some reason, my state feels the need to throw all of their recyclable cans and bottles out the car window. I can’t find the logic behind it (and even more disturbing is the fact that 80% of those cans and bottles are alcohol related). This is strange because we have a bottle deposit law here which means, you paid that .05 cent deposit when you bought the beverage so throwing it out the window is literally throwing away a nickel. (I know for a fact my fellow Mainers need those nickels which makes this all even stranger). Even if all those cans were bought down in New Hampshire (which has vehemently opposed a bottle bill for almost 35 years), there are recycling centers that will take them here (as opposed to places like Michigan and California where machines scan the bar code to make sure you bought the beverage in state. So in an effort to clean up my ‘hood, I’ve been taking 30-45 minute walks this week and bringing along a satchel (and my trusty Deluxe Grabber) to see what I could get. And wow. In just 3 days, I picked up the 2 bags in the photo here. I have a redemption center within a mile of my house so I headed over to see just what I’d get…that’s $5 going right into the #mainerscanbeidiots fund.

PPS: I almost forgot that during yesterday's walk, I found a working iPhone on the ground before I could attempt to figure out how I could find out who it belonged to, someone came up and claimed it. A very Maine thing to happen...but still surreal. 

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Today in Training: Why I ride...

As part of the Climate Ride experience, I have signed up for Advocacy Day once we arrive in DC, (they'll set up meetings with my Congressional reps where we can advocate for action in person!) Part of the training for these meetings involves building our "personal stories": the reason why climate change advocacy is so important to us.

My story involves being literally hit over the head by climate change. Back in 2005 (last weekend of August to be exact) I was attending a forum on simple living in Estes Park, Colorado, at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park. As the group was sitting by a river, taking a break from a short hike, I heard a crack and next thing I knew a watched a 40' pine tree come crashing toward me. It hit me on the head, stabbed me in the leg and broke my finger—in short I was extremely fortunate I wasn't more hurt. Someone wisely took a few photos of the offending tree and we knew in an instant that it was the victim of dreaded pine beetles, a critter that has decimated forests throughout the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountains—a critter whose population has exploded due to warming climate trends.  Since I had driven my car to Estes Park, I had to wait all bandaged up in a hotel by the Denver airport for 3 days for a friend to arrive to help drive me back to Los Angeles. As I sat there, I had nothing but time to watch Hurricane Katrina (and it's after effects) demolish New Orleans. I began to realize that climate change was not just a single issue, it is many complex and catastrophic problems that create devastating environmental, health, and social justice issues.

Climate change truly is the most important issue facing humanity. Unlike other causes, you can't buy your way into safety; it is something that affects every single living being. So I ride in hope of bringing awareness to this critical cause!

T-Minus: 12 days  
Fundraising: $2895... thank you all for helping me make my fundraising minimum!

Total training miles ridden: 1669.29
Total books read since started: 31

Friday, September 05, 2014

Today in Training: Staten Island. Why? Because it's there.

Let the river run.
I know what you're thinking... Staten Island, whyfor? Staten Island has that reputation of being NYC's landfill, but actually today's ride was one of the better ones I've had this summer. The ferry is free in both directions, and the riding is smooth and fast (it seemed like I was going down hill for most of the ride). I had originally had a master plan this morning to ferry over, ride around a bit, and then ride back over the Bayonne Bridge through New Jersey... until arriving at the on ramp to find the pedestrian path has been closed for over a year. Instead, I took the ferry back after about a 17 mile loop around the island.
On 2nd thought, the Bayonne Bridge wasn't inspiring much confidence.

T-Minus: 14 days
Fundraising to go: $-45... thank you all for helping me make my fundraising minimum!
Total training miles ridden: 1632.24

Total books read since started: 31

Monday, September 01, 2014

Today in Training: 242nd St->Tarrytown->242nd St, 125th->BPC

View from Washington Irving's Sunnyside house
Happy Labor-free Day! Today was an exercise in training in humidity...(even though it says it's only 63% humidity, that is a big ole falsehood. It feels like Miami in August out there today) 1 mile after I got off the train I was questioning my sanity but I managed to make it up through Yonkers, Hastings on the Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington and on to Tarrytown (Sleepy Hollow would have to wait for another day) before finding the North County Trail which brought me back to my old friend Elmsford, NY and the South County Trail. Rain held off through the afternoon, so I was able to make it back home slightly less damp than if it were a torrential downpour. Since returning I have eaten the entire 8 oz bag of Cape Cod potato chips. (Still waiting on that sponsorship deal...)

T-Minus: 18 days!!!!!
Fundraising to go: $365... 10 days til fundraising deadline!
Total training miles ridden: 1557.24

Total books read since started: 31

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Today in Training: Jersey City and Liberty State Park

Not sure why I don't cross the river more often to ride in's a quick 1-stop PATH train ride and there are some nice paths. Today I hit up Liberty State Park, which is flat and uncrowded during the week and you really can't beat the views.
T-Minus: 22 days
Fundraising to go: $365
Total training miles ridden: 1452.87

Total books read since started: 31
Looking toward the Freedom Tower/Manhattan

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Today in Training: 242nd St ->Elmsford (???), NY + 125th St -> BPC

Where on earth is Elmsford, NY? I'm still not entirely sure, but it was the terminus of the South County trail in Westchester County so I decided to turn around and head back to the city. Still my favorite trail of the summer (it's about 15 miles end to end)—still cool and shady, not very crowded and smooth like a baby's bottom (frost heaves are my worst nightmare). Glad to get my numbers back up, considering a week ago I was afraid I might not be able to get back on the bike again at all. Less than a month to go and I can't believe how generous everyone has been supporting me. So close to that fundraising goal! Crazier still is the fact I've ridden over 1400 miles since I started training... (that's like riding to Salem, South Dakota for reference)

T-Minus: 26 days Fundraising to go: $365
Total training miles ridden: 1407.95

Total books read since started: 29

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Today in Training: A bird pooped on me.

That is all.

T-Minus: 29 days
Fundraising to go: $425
Total training miles ridden: 1344.04

Total books read since started: 29

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Today in Training: Low and Slow

They say when you fall off the horse, it's best to get right back on so 2 days after the crash I'm back in the saddle. Fortunately my Citibike membership finally came through so I gave that a try today (with my brand new helmet of course). My theory was to have the Citibike so I could do my daily work commute and then swap out the pedals on my road bike so I could use it for my longer weekend rides. What a difference a bike makes! The Citibikes are BEASTS—heavy, the tires are about 2x as fat as my road bike and they have only 3 speeds. Let's not even get started on braking. (hint: plan ahead when you might want to be stopping. And don't expect to stop on that dime.) But I'm still in love with the concept of being able to pick up one of the bikes on the corner and go for a ride. After 40 trips, the yearly membership fee pays for itself in subway rides.
T-Minus: 31 days
Fundraising to go: $425
Total training miles ridden: 1326.54

Total books read since started: 29

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Today in Training: .85 miles: mildly concussed.

Woohoo! New helmet day!
Took me a while to get up and going this morning (and bizarrely the cat was acting all affectionate like he didn't want me to leave) but I was determined to use this day off to get some miles in. But a few horrible Irish tourists walking in the bike lane had other plans for me. Despite it being a clearly marked bike lane, these 2 do as NY tourist do and ignore all signs and continued strolling. All it took was clipping the woman's arm and I was down for the count. (You do not get 500 points for winging a tourist, instead you get road rash on your hip, a chunk of meat out of your elbow and a mild concussion. Oh and a chunk of foam out of your helmet.) Thank you to the kind stranger who stopped and held my hand and attempted to get the police officer to summon medical help—I don't think I really needed it, but was willing to be safe rather than sorry, but I'm pretty sure that medical help still hasn't shown up. My PSA for the day is ALWAYS wear your helmet... this was slow speed on an uncrowded bike path and now I'm going to (fortunately) be spending the rest of the day not on the bike and not in the hospital.

Not pictured, my smashed to shit Blackberry screen and wounded pride.

T-Minus: 33 days
Fundraising to go: $455
Total training miles ridden: 1320.54

Total books read since started: 28

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Today in Training: BPC -> GWB -> FtL,NJ -> JC, NJ = 29.85 miles

Grant's Tomb
One would think that today's excursion would net me more than 30 measly miles, (for those of you who need a decoder: Battery Park City, George Washington Bridge, Fort Lee, NJ and Jersey City, NJ) but I'm holding out the hope that these city miles (in city sneakers) count for something more than a 1:1 ratio... hoping at least a 1:1.25 ratio. God willing. 

Had a quick stop off at Grant's Tomb (because I'm a NPS nerd) on the upper West Side. Today I also learned that I really need protein to fuel this ride. (if Five Guys would like to sponsor me, I would not turn that down.)

Riverside Church, across from Grant's Tomb

When riding across the GWB, the trick is not to look down.

Finally made it to JC! only to find out the PATH trains don't run on weekends. Fortunately the water taxi picks up the slack.

T-Minus: 40 days
Fundraising to go: $455!!
Total training miles ridden: 1234.91

Total books read since started: 28

Friday, August 08, 2014

Today in Training: The King of Queens

Love in Kissena Park

Got up early today and headed over to visit my car which I've parked a good 15-18 mile bike ride from my apartment (depending on how lost one gets, which I'm notorious for in Queens).  All told, I'll end the day at about 43 miles but it was it was tough Queens pot-holed and frost-heaved pavement so I should get extra credit for that.

And how about that fundraising tally!?!? I can't thank my wonderful donors enough, you truly are what get me out of bed in the morning and back in the saddle even though my bunions are getting worse, my shoulder has been strained for over a week and I've got a random case of arthritis in my thumb from shifting gears. Thank you all!

T-Minus: 42 days
Fundraising to go: $555!!
Total training miles ridden: 1204.91

Total books read since started: 27

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Today in Training: Well, yeseterday in training...actually the past 10 days in training if you want to be specific.

My love/hate relationship of NY shows off to my love/hate relationship of NJ.
Still rolling and rolling and rolling... had the weekend off for a quick trip to NH for AMC's wedding but after the 6 hour drive back, I got antsy and hit the streets for a 15 mile loop around the island...up the east side over 72nd through the park and then back down the Hudson River bikeway. The good thing about this training is that though I don't have a lot of free time to ride, when I do have the time, there's always somewhere I can ride to in the city. (See the view over there from the bikeway at when I ride home after work at 12:30a? Can't beat that.)

I've had a love/hate relationship with NYC for the past 20 years. Back in the early days I thought for sure that I wanted to live here, but in a "sliding doors" moment I chose in LA instead. Last summer we were so busy that there wasn't any time to stop and experience the beauty of the city. This year I'm blessed with a nice apartment in a quiet area that is far enough from everything that biking everywhere gives me a good workout and I'm saving money!

Excited for two new additions to my Climate Ride experience: they've asked me to lead one of the roundtable discussions when we're on the ride—I'm going to build a discussion on how simplicity can work to combat climate change and I've also signed up to meet my elected officials on the day after the ride in DC.

T-Minus: 45 days
Fundraising to go: $985
Total training miles ridden: 1135.91

Total books read since started: 26

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Today in Training: Hudson River rollin'

Settling into the 12 mile roundtrip ride to work each day, but when I have a little extra energy at the end of the day, I'm gonna take that ball and run with it. Can't beat the sunset view on the Hudson River though!

T-Minus: 59 days
Fundraising to go: $1185
Total training miles ridden: 1034.8

Total books read since started: 26

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Today in Training: BPC to Yonkers

Bit disheartened now, after calculating my route today... and only hitting 47 miles. One of those days when you think "this HAS to be close to 60" (the number of miles I'll be riding each day for 5 days in a row) I mean before I got that number, I felt it was a great day. I rode for about 5 hours and most of that was the Hudson River Greenway. The best part of the day was coming across the South County Trail system, which is BLISS. It's flat, it's shaded, there are no frost heaves (every part of my ass is appreciative of that), it's so out of the way that it's not crowded and there are no tourists on Citi Bikes wobbling in and out of your lane...just miles and miles and miles of perfect training conditions. The only downside is that you've got to get yourself to Yonkers to get on it (and that involves riding on Broadway through the Bronx as the most direct route). I actually stopped at an arbitrary point to turn around today, so in theory I could have pushed myself to 60 miles (sooner or later I'll get a working odometer). I am getting a little stronger though, last year I remember feeling like 20 miles was an unattainable goal, so at least there's that. Time to get my fundraising back into gear so if there's anyone out there who hasn't donated yet, what are you waiting for!
125th St/West Side Highway

South County Trail, Yonkers. Smooth like butter.

Kept expecting to see John Travolta strutting down the sidewalk with paint cans.

T-Minus: 61 days
Fundraising to go: $1215
Total training miles ridden: 1002.3
5 (woo hoo! over 1000 miles finally!)

Total books read since started: 25

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Today in Training: Battery Park to Red Hook

How'd this T car end up in Red Hook?!
Slowly settling into my summer home here in Battery Park City... I love that it's so quiet and there are tree-lined bike paths everywhere... not so thrilled about the glut of wandering tourists that straggle in and out of those bike paths, but I'm working with what I've got here. Training is not going to be easy this summer: case in point, I was out for about 4 hours today and only netted about 20 miles. Took the Manhattan Bridge over to Brooklyn and headed over to Red Hook, then rode back over the Brooklyn Bridge (which I never learn, the BB bike path is never a good idea). Perfect day for a ride today—overcast but not too cool.
Taking a bite out of the Big Apple
Ain't 'fraid of no ghosts. Stumbled across the Ghostbusters Fire house today.
Back in Red Hook

I might as well get this tattooed on my leg. It ends up there after every ride anyway.
BPC is this quiet and beautiful.

T-Minus: 62 days
Fundraising to go: $1215
Total training miles ridden: 955.2
5 Total books read since started: 25

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Today in Training: Wormtown Tour

I want it known, I had nothing to do with the missing half of this sign.
Had another day to kill in the 'Burn/The Woo, so I did as much of a tour of the Paris of the 80s as I could without hitting one of those famous 7 Hills of Worcester. (which is not easy, let me tell you)
Pride o' the Woo: Miss Worcester diner

T-Minus: 66 days
Fundraising to go: $1215
Total training miles ridden: 909.85
Total books read since started: 25 (Read quite possibly the worst book I've ever read before. Click here to find out what I thought of Miranda Beverly-Whittemore's "Bittersweet")

Monday, July 14, 2014

Today in Training: My Own Private Velodrome

Final Score: Rockets: 5, Sense of Self-Worth: 0
Back in my hometown for a few days and it is muggy as all get out here, which is the worst weather to try to ride in. Managed a few miles before I latched onto the idea of just taking it easy and riding around in circles for a while up at Rocketland...'scuse me, Lemansky park. I wonder if it looked this depressing in my formative years?

T-Minus: 67 days
Fundraising to go: $1215
Total training miles ridden: 890.85
Total books read since started: 24

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Today in Training: Wolfe's Neck State Park

I woke up today in a bit of a funk... I *should* be leaving the house because I just had it deep cleaned [thank you Aaron & Ariel @ Bone Dry Cleaners!] for renters yesterday, but I'm not quite ready to make that commitment (I mean, c'mon, there's a lake outside the door and it's July and sunny...) Adding to my ennui was the fact that I've done all the projects I needed to do and packed away everything that was going with me to NY and everything that wasn't into the loft. So I gave a stab at riding at the gym, hoping that the new shoe insoles I got would make my feet feel better (they didn't...if anything they made it worse). I managed to scrape out 13 miles (which felt like no workout at all) and then promptly pulled a muscle in my back doing an easy stretch. *grumble* I threw a lobster roll at my general malaise and then just headed out in the car to see where the day would take me, and as it happened I was nearby Wolfe's Neck State Park in Freeport, which my good friend Becky recommended I visit. A cute little surprise, just what I needed to get me out of my funk. I took a leisurely 4 mile stroll around the park and reminded myself that it's not always about the bike.

"I eated the purple berries!" "How'd they taste, Ralph?...Good?"

The Harraseeket Trail leads to this magical view of Freeport

Whoopie Pies do make it all better.

T-Minus: 69 days
Fundraising to go: $1215
Total training miles ridden: 875.85
Total books read since started: 24 (finished Terry Tempest Williams "Refuge" yesterday...a writer I thought sure I'd fall in love with, but after reading 2 of her books on nature and health, I'm pushing her down my list of 'gotta read' authors.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Today in Training: Working out the kinks

mmmm strawberries...
Looks like I've got another batch of metatarsalgia in my foot which for those of you without WebMD, means it's a big ball of nerves that feels like you're stepping on a marble...every time you take a step. The good news is that it doesn't hurt so much when I'm riding, the bad news is the only way it clears up is if I stop riding for a few days. This is the 2nd batch I've had in a month or so, but I'm noticing the pattern that it happens when I'm in a string of days when I'm riding in sneakers (and not hard soled bike shoes). Gonna have to solve this one soon or else it's gonna be a long painful summer.

Not wanting to overdo it, I stuck to my new favorite loop: Gray->New Gloucester via Mayall Rd which takes you by one of the farms Pineland Farms uses for their produce (they also have pick-your-own strawberries and if you stop and stand on the bridge the air smells like Strawberry Shortcake ...mmmm) It's a nice easy 12 mile loop—FLAT! which I need every once in a while.

T-Minus: 71 days
Fundraising to go: $1215
Total training miles ridden: 862.35
Total books read since started: 23 (finished Walker Percy's "The Moviegoer" today. Didn't love.)

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Today in Training: still hot, still too lazy to ride outside

Oh good, 27.56 miles to go.
Another gorgeous 80º+  day, another day when I'm too lazy to saddle up and hit the backroads for my mileage. But I'm still at the gym, pushing pushing pushing to get myself...somewhere.
On the plus side, I FINALLY finished John Irving's "A Prayer for Owen Meany" which I started when I began this training madness (at 640 pages PAPERBACK...  I read on that tiny little iPod that's featured in the photo, well let's just say that's a shitton of swiping.

Picked the Cannondale up at Rainbow today and I should give it a whirl but I'd so just rather be on the dock with a beer. It's 5 o'clock somewhere... thank god it's here.

T-Minus: 72 days
Fundraising to go: $1215
Total training miles ridden: 850.15
Total books read since started: 22

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Today In Training: It's too damn hot to be outside.

Okay, it's not *that* hot, but hopefully it won't be 85º with 75% humidity in September when I'm doing this ride. But then again climate-wise all bets are off so I guess I should be preparing for the worst. Instead I opted for another indoor ride while the bike I'm going to be riding for the summer (the trusty old Cannondale) was being tuned up. (turns out, you actually need to service the chain every once in awhile. Duly noted.) It also meant taking my Speedplay pedals off the bike I've been using for training (the perfunctory Marin) but not re-attaching them to the Cannondale, because I can't imagine riding in NYC clipped in. I was really hoping Speedplay was going to come through with the pedal covers I ordered 3 months ago, but alas, they seem eternally on back order.) It means that I can either ride my bike outside and inside with standard pedals or I can can ride it only indoors with the Speedplays. (or I can get a hernia every time I try change the pedals out.) So we'll see.

Been a week of limited training, with the holiday and the heat, but I managed an indoor 30 miles today. Long way to go...but rewarding myself with a Fluffernutter and a dip in the lake. Ahhhhh.....

T-Minus: 73 days
Fundraising to go: $1215 (The see me rollin', they hatin'!)
Total training miles ridden: 820.15
Total books read since started: 21


Friday, June 27, 2014

Today in Training: Portland to Cape E

After a few days inside on the bike, it was time to get back out in the sunshine and hit the pavement. A spur of the moment pop-in to see my bestie Annemarie down in Cape Elizabeth (plus lunch and a beer) was just what I needed to distract myself from a paltry 17 mile day before heading back to work.
T-Minus: 84 days
Fundraising to go: $1265 (I love my friends! You keep me rollin'!)
Total training miles ridden: 602.85
Total books read since started: 18

View from the Casco Bay Bridge today. Not a bad day to be in Maine at all.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Today in Training: ACADIA!!

I actually tried to enhance the colors on this and it looked worse. #nofilterf'reals Sand Beach, Acadia, NP  
I have never been to Acadia National Park and figured I’d probably run out of time (and weather) if I actually sat down and planned a real trip, so I just set the alarm for 6a, threw the old Terra Linda on the back of the car and headed north. It was a GAH-HOAR-JESS day—sunny, light breeze, about 68º—and perfect for riding the 20 mile Park Loop. The park is amazing and I’m definitely coming back when I have more time to take a few days.

T-Minus: 88 days
Fundraising to go: $1365 (over the halfway mark! big props from the Climate Ride rider support crew!)
Total training miles ridden: 621.51
Total books read since started: 16
From the top of Cadillac Mtn—I didn't ride up the road, but some other suckers did!

Another view from Cadillac Mtn, looking out at the Porcupine Islands and Bar Harbor (aka BAH HAHBA)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Today in Training: Gray->Raymond->Frye Island and back

Cheap thrills of Raymond, ME. Nathaniel Hawthorne's boyhood home.
Back in the (sore, sore) saddle for another 33.6 after a day off celebrating the longest day yesterday. Hopped on the bike for a trip to the ferry to visit some old friends on Frye Island.

Nice and sunny on the way there, but it became overcast on the way back. These Maine hills are good for training but killing my butt!
I may need to keep the speed boat on retainer for more quick getaways.

T-Minus: 89 days
Fundraising to go: $1365 (over the halfway mark!!! thanks everyone!)
Total training miles ridden: 602.01
Total books read since started: 15

And I mean if you haven't donated yet, what are ya waiting for, ya mug!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Today in Training: Inaugural blog post!

I figured I'd dust off the old (very old, very dusty) blog to document my journey in training for my 300 mile Climate Ride in September (for those of you unaware here's my story! and you can donate here too!) I'm getting some fairly high mileage this week but it's only because I'm back in the gym. 

Indoor training has definitely got its perks:
• I can only wear so much sunscreen—I'm turning darker than my old Finnish grandmother, I'm starting to loop around to purple.
• 2 1/2 hours on the bike is spent always in motion, as opposed to outside where you're stopping for traffic lights and fighting the wind and hills
• distraction... indoors, I can check emails, surf the web and I've also set a goal for myself to read 100 books while I'm training which makes the time go by that much faster. Today on the bike, I finished "The Cheapskate Next Door: The Surprising Secrets ofAmericans Living Happily Below Their Means" by Jeff Yeager—a fitting inspiration, because Yeager did his entire book tour by bike! This one's classified as "humor" but he really has truly practical advice for anyone who wants to easily save money. Gotta love a guy who tells everyone to go check his book out at the library. 

Miles to go before I sleep, but check back for daily updates here! 

T-Minus: 91 days
Fundraising to go: $1515
Total training miles ridden: 568.41
Total books read since started: 15