Weekend Plans

Went to McCurdy’s Comedy Club last night and saw The midnight Swinger and he was awesome! Celebrating a friend’s birthday, so it was a great night (except my sweetie was gone for the night so I was stag). Came into the office today because we are having the lobby painted and I needed to let the painter in. Managed to get a 5.3 mile run in between the thunderstorms, so I am happy about that.

Planning on a kayak outing with the same friends tomorrow…more birthday celebrations! Mike went to Tallahassee yesterday to look at an Epic touring kayak and he bought it and is bringing it home today. Hoping to borrow a single kayak from a friend so we can paddle individually and Mike can try out his new toy. The kayaking seems to be great exercise for his shoulder, he is increasing his range of motion and getting stronger with each paddle.

I had to kill a HUGE spider last night by myself. It was a wolf spider and I suppose they are “good” but it was a massive beast and I just couldn’t let it live in my house.

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Heading to Iowa

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Packed up and hitting the road.

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July 13, 2012 · 4:19 pm

Getting ready for RAGBRAI

Packing and planning the logistics is a big deal for a 16 day driving trip that includes 12 days of riding. There are bike clothes, camping gear, and other odds and ends all over the house. Only 9 days til we hop in the truck and head up north for this next adventure. I just signed up for Twitter, so make sure you follow me there. I am hoping to tweet frequently while on the trip (although not while actually riding my bike). I think I can make it post directly to Facebook, so I should have everyone covered who is interested in following the adventure.

Mike and I had a great ride Saturday with friends.It was fast and smooth on the Legacy Trail, then dinner at Gecko’s. Did a shorter ride on Sunday morning where we literally almost ran into a 6 foot alligator hanging out in the bike lane on Lorraine Road. Too cool, it was my first alligator sighting while on the bike.

I’ll keep these posts short so I can stay current better.

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First real RAGBRAI training weekend

I haven’t slept in a tent in nearly 20 years and yet on Friday May 14th I find myself at the KOA St. Petersburg preparing to spend the next two nights roughing it. By preparing, I mean helping set up a very nice, large tent that even has a screen porch. This appears to be much better accommodations than the old, used canvas tent I used in my early camping days.

After setting up camp, we decided to go to the Green Iguana for dinner, we knew we wouldn’t have the time or energy to cook our own food over an open flame the first night. Dinner was good and we took advantage of sitting in air conditioning since we would be spending the next couple of days in the great outdoor heat of Florida.

Saturday morning we awaken to a beautiful sunrise and chirping birds and are ready to embark on our first day of riding…but not before our morning coffee. My first time trying to light the camp stove failed, but I redeemed myself the next day. Mike quickly got the flame going and the coffee percolating on the propane powered stove. Now, consider this, I have all but kicked the caffeine habit this year and haven’t had a single cup of regular coffee in 5 months. I figured one cup wouldn’t kill me, so I helped myself to the freshly brewed java. I don’t recall if I ever drank percolated coffee so you can imagine my surprise when I took the last drink and the cup and found myself chewing on coffee grounds. Probably not the best way to reintroduce my body to caffeine, but I think it might have propelled me a little bit on the bike once we got started.

The KOA campground is located directly on the Pinellas Trail, a 34-mile rails-to-trails path that starts in south Pinellas County and goes north the the Greek sponging village of Tarpon Springs. Our plan was to ride from the campsite up to Tarpon Springs for lunch at one the wonderful eating establishments, many of which feature greek specialities and/or fresh seafood. The trail is alot of stop and go because it crosses over side streets, but it is a beautiful ride. Some areas have overpasses to cross over busy streets and that gives us our much-needed hill work.

We rode north passing by walkers, joggers, roller bladers, and other cyclists; everyone was friendly and smiling on this lovely day. After we passed through Clearwater, we were heading over one of the longest overpasses on the trail and a woman came up behind us on her bicycle and commented on Mike’s sandals. As she was passing me, she also mentioned my sandals. I told her I love my Keen’s and she responded by saying that she was thinking about purchasing a pair for RAGBRAI. My ears perked up like a dog who just heard the word “treat”! “RAGBRAI, are going to RAGBRAI? We’re going to RAGBRAI!”, I said, excited to meet someone else as crazy as we are. She said it would be her first time and a friend was urging her to be a part of her team. I told her to go back and talk to Mike about it because he was the expert. The next few miles we spent with Mike giving her loads of advice on logistics, food, weather, and all the other things that go along with a week long ride across the state of Iowa.

She said she was riding up to Tarpon and wold be happy to show us how to get into town a little safer than on the trail. She also mentioned a little chapel she would like to show us, if we had time. Since the chapel was called the Shrine of St. Michael, we certainly couldn’t resist. As we wound our way through an area of Tarpon neither of us had ever seen, she lead us to a little chapel at the corner of Grand and Hope. It was a beautiful little place with stained glass windows, candles, icons and other religious artifacts.

We sat in silence for a few minutes and then went back out into the Florida heat and sunshine. I asked her about the little pressed metal ornaments hanging on a string, but she wasn’t quite sure what they were, just some sort of icons. Mike ended up asking a gentleman who was in the chapel what they were and he learned they are pressed tins with images of people, body parts, and other symbols. For just $3 each you can buy one, rub it with blessed oil and hang it under a picture of St. Michael to ask for help in healing. When Mike saw the images of arms, he just had to buy a left one, and a right one for good luck. He also bought an extra left one and carried it in his jersey pocket. What a serendipitous find! It was almost like we were meant to meet this woman and she was meant to lead us to a healing chapel, all while Mike is doing everything possible to heal his broken shoulder.

The chance meeting of this woman who is also doing RAGBRAI was a happy accident also. As we were talking outside of The Shrine of St. Michael, she mentioned that she is a motivational speaker and author specializing in women’s leadership subjects. I felt like I was destined to meet her and that somehow, sometime, this chance meeting will bring a new and exciting opportunity into my life. Her name is Fawn Germer and I have already purchased and started reading three of her books. Her blog is wonderful, and I feel very fortunate to have met her and hope to continue to stay in touch. In the little time we spent with her I could tell she has a positive attitude and sees the value in many things. She seems to be a very real person who embraces her flaws and has the determination to do anything in her life. I admire her and look forward to learning from her as I continue to explore what to do with the rest of my life.

After leaving the Chapel, Fawn rode us into Tarpon Springs and recommended Rusty Bellie’s for lunch (where we parted ways with her, but hopefully only temporarily). The restaurant was great, we enjoyed the delicious food and the view of the water. We were able to lock our bikes very close to where we were sitting so we didn’t have to worry about their safety.

After lunch we took a side trip (Fawn’s suggestion) to Howard Park and added about 9 miles to our ride. The streets weren’t terribly bike friendly, but we managed to arrive safe and sound to a causeway and beach brimming with people enjoying the weather.  We stopped briefly to chat with a guy who sells Akwakats – a kit to convert your bike frame into a pedal-powered boat. It looked like a lot of fun, the kit itself is manufactured in New Zealand and can be purchased in the U.S. for about $1500. I would like to try one, but probably wouldn’t invest the money as I am perfectly happy riding my bicycle on land.

Back on the Trail we headed to Dunedin where we knew we would stop for some much needed refreshments. In the past we have stopped at a Jamaican restaurant/bar that is fabulous, but this time we decided to try something different. Earlier in the day we had stopped at the farmers market in Dunedin and noticed a little bar on the corner called Skips. It had a fairly bland outside, but the bicycle protruding from the front of the building over the door had intrigued us, so we planned on stopping. Inside was dark and an extremely contrast from the brightness out in the sun. The air conditioning was working very well and we were thankful for that. We bellied up to the bar and I ordered a Strongbow cider and Mike asked for a Yuengling draft. Once served, he said it was the coldest beer he had ever tasted, almost too cold to drink, yet a welcome refreshment. We sipped our drinks and chatted with the bar tender who gave us several recommendations for additional stops on our ride.

We managed to ride the remaining 15 miles without stopping for refreshments. I know, hard to believe. Back at the campsite we cracked open a couple of beers and headed to the pool and hot tub. After a refreshing swim, we prepared our dinner over an open fire and scarfed down the delicious food. A couple of drinks later and we were turning in for the night, tired, but feeling good about our 67 miles.

Waking up to a gorgeous sunrise over the water, we made coffee again (I managed to light the stove correctly this time), and then packed up our camping gear before embarking on the day’s ride. We started a little later than we planned and had to rush to get to the breakfast stop before 11am. On the recommendation of Karen at Skip’s, we stopped at the Dunedin American Legion for their $5 breakfast and $1 bloody marys. From 9-11am on Sunday mornings, the Legion serves 2 eggs cooked to order, toast, hashbrowns, biscuit and sausage gravy, bacon, fresh fruit, coffee and juice for $5. It was quite possibly the best breakfast either one of us had ever eaten. The bacon was thin and super crisp and I was thankful Mike doesn’t eat bacon so I could have his 2 slices. Even the bloody mary was delicious and I have never been able to drink one since I don’t really like tomato juice. We are now completely enamored by this breakfast and are both sad and grateful that we live a distance away from the Legion.

With full bellies we proceeded north on the trail to Ozona, another recommendation from Karen at Skip’s. We stopped at Molly Goodhead’s where the air conditioning was a welcome respite and the ice cold beer was served in frosted mugs. A couple of beers there and we were back on the bikes and heading south toward St. Pete.  A few more stops on the way and soon we were back at the KOA enjoying the pool.

It was a great camping test for me, I hope I can do it in Iowa.

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Lovely biking weather

Yesterday was a glorious day in southwest Florida. A bit on the windy side, but not too bad, low humidity and bright sunshine. I have taken the advice of something I read somewhere (can’t remember where) and am trying a new method of commuting to work. For example, I drive to work on Tuesday with my bike in the car. Tuesday evening I leave my car at work and I bike home. Wednesday morning I bike back to work, and then Wednesday evening I have my car and my bike at work so that I can drive out to my normal bike ride on Longboat Key. It worked really well on my first try and I even had a bonus of Mike meeting me at the Old Packinghouse Cafe on the way home last night. We then rode home together. He would have ridden with me to work this morning, but he had an appointment.

Splitting up the commute between two days reduces the amount of time I need every day to bike but still allows me the commute. I am lucky that I have a safe place to park my car at night in the work parking lot, not everyone may have that luxury.

Last weekend we didn’t get a bike ride in, but had a great time at Tropical Heatwave instead. We listened to about 15 of the 57 bands at the numerous venues in Ybor City. The music was great, the crowds were fun and we were enlightened to hear some new music. The weather almost didn’t cooperate – there was a violent storm that came through Florida on Saturday afternoon. We were tucked in at Carmine’s eating deviled crab, caprese salad, raw oysters (huge!), and salads. Of course, there were some Peroni’s and Ybor Gold beers to wash it all down. We were more concerned about how the weather affected the MS bike ride in Central Florida. We had several friends riding in the charity event. It was the first time in four years I didn’t participate in the event, but I will continue to support the cause in other ways.

Happy trails!

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Saved some gas money today

In honor of National Bike Month, I have a goal to ride my bike to work once a week every week in May. I am hoping it will get me in the habit of commuting more often. There always seems to be an excuse to not ride to work…takes longer than driving, might rain, need my car to run errands at lunch, need to stop somewhere on my way home…and the list goes on. I was running out of options as it is already Friday and I hadn’t yet ridden to work on this first week of May. So, in spite of the fact that there was rain in the forecast, I set off this morning on my commuter bike and it was a beautiful ride. I had originally intended to ride my new road bike, but with the threat of rain, I was nervous about riding on wet roads. I opted instead for my also new Specialized Globe Vienna Deluxe 3 which is an awesome city bike with rack, built-in lights, internal hub, chain guard, and fenders.

It takes me about 45 minutes to ride the 10 miles to work, so I am not setting any speed records, but it is a comfortable ride and I can carry my lunch and extra gear on the back. I am looking forward to the ride home this afternoon provided the light rain and heavy thunder stops before 5pm.

Riding a bike to work is a bit schizophrenic…on one hand I feel free and on my own, but on the other hand I feel trapped…able to only get home by the use of leg power and in nearly triple the time it normally takes by car. I guess that is the key to kicking the car habit, you mush learn to take life a little slower, not be in such a hurry. Next week I think I will push myself a little harder and ride to work the same day as the Surface Design Guild meeting. It means I will need to carry a little extra bit of gear in the form of artwork, and I’ll be riding a little farther from work to the firestation where we meet. Then I will need to ride home from the firestation, preferably before dark as I hope to take the road bike. THe weather forecast looks good for next week, so I think this is a plan. If I speak my plan out loud, I am much more motivated to follow-through with it.

Looking forward to the weekend…Kentucky Derby party at friend’s house and hopefully a nice bike ride with my boyfriend, I’m so glad he is back on the bike!

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Well, here goes…

I have decided to join the ranks of many others in cyberspace and start blogging. Not that I have a lot to say (those of you who know me can stop laughing), but I want to share some of my adventures with the rest of the world. Lately my biggest adventure is to do what I can to help my boyfriend, Mike, get back on his bike after a freak bicycle accident in February. Be careful when riding in the rain/drizzle, you never know the amount of damage a simple fall can cause. A stainless steel plate and 13 pins later and he is on the mend and on the bike. He’s trying to ride every day and as my schedule permits, I like to accompany him. My rides the last couple of months have been solitary without him, I miss our chatting and just knowing that my special someone is right there with me. Enough about the bike mishap and on to more exciting things…

If you stick with my blog, you will most likely be reading about my preparation for RAGRAI in July. RAGBRAI is an acronym for Register’s Annual Great Ride Across Iowa. Why would anyone want to ride across Iowa? Ask the 20,000 people who do it every year…yes, 20,000 people ride from town to town taking in the scenery, the comaraderie, and from what I hear, the sometimes unique food. So stay tuned as I let the adventure begin!

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