Category Archives: General

I’m Not Really A Sprinter

In cycling you have certain body types that are good for certain disciplines. I don’t have the body type for climbing – I’m way too bulky and short. I never considered myself a sprinter, either. I guess I thought that I’d make for a much better lead-out guy. I’d be the type that could to hard and steady for a period of time and then blow up, pulling off to allow a teammate to get a win.

On our fastest ride of the week, the Saturday morning ride, we three sprint lines. The middle one is at the top of a hill – I say hill because it’s not a huge climb but enough to tax you before the sprint. The last is along a short flat stretch, after a series of rolling hills, again enough to tax the legs before the sprint. The first one is at the end of a along a flat stretch of road.

The first flat sprint is the one I sometimes try for. I know there are certain people I need to mark for the sprint – not everyone goes for it but there are a few that do. I often get caught being boxed in with the sprinters making their way up the outside and others in front or to my side sitting in that prevent me from making a move.

Last week I thought I was in a good position with a couple coming around to the left. I jumped to go but one of them pulled in front of me and sat up – she must have realized what was going on then realized she shouldn’t be there in the sprint. I tried going around to the right but was faces with a couple garbage cans in the way on the shoulder of the road. (Who has trash pickup on Saturdays other than Scarborough?)

There have also been times when the legs just haven’t been there. But today I was actually feeling pretty good, even after biking all week.

So I did my usual marking of certain women who would be looking for the sprint. I was behind one girl who always sprints. I lost her wheel to another woman as we got closer to the line but that wasn’t going to deter me.

Linda, the woman I always mark, was feeling a little boxed in herself as the group took up the entire lane (it was much larger this year with 25 women) and crossed the line to go around the front riders and head for the line.

I just accelerated with her and the other woman and then finally jumped when they did. The other woman, Cody, ended up going around Linda for the win and I wasn’t far behind for 3rd. That was the best sprint for me ever!

I chose not to contest for other sprints for the remainder of the ride but did manage to stay up in the front working hard and taking pulls.

With the upcoming long weekend my plan is to get in a couple long rides (50-60 miles) Sunday and Monday then my rest week begins. Taking that last rest period a couple weeks made a HUGE difference so I made sure to plan another one 3-4 weeks later. My rest week will also include a massage and a trip to Canada for the Pro-Tour races in Quebec City and Montreal.

A Man Named George

Sometimes it is well worth the time to slow down on the bike.

As I left my office by bike today I noticed a cyclist in the distance with panniers. This is not uncommon around my office – I often see groups of people riding through (always south) loaded down with gear.

I knew I would catch up to him/her and figured I’d slow down, say hi, and chat for a bit.

After saying hello, it was the usual questions. I asked him where he was heading. He replied in an accent, “Oh, Portland, then Portsmouth, and finally New York.”

So I asked him where he was from, expecting to hear Canada. I was wrong. He was from the Netherlands. Okay, now I needed  to know more!

Where was he coming from? Again, assuming Canada was the correct answer, which it was, but there was more. Turns out he had flown to England on June 21st to bike up to Scotland before flying to Iceland and biking around that country then finally flying into Hallifax, Nova Scotia. He explained he was biking to New York and need to be there by September 1st, which was when his wife was flying there to meet him. He was also making this trip solo.

We hit a hill and he said, “Okay, bye-bye.” He was much slower than me on the little hill, and with 50 kilos of gear and on a mountain bike,  you would be, too! I slowed and he caught up to me at the top. I told him that I wasn’t leaving him because I was enjoying chatting with him and if he didn’t mind, I’d like to ride with him for a while. He was agreeable to the idea so we rode and chatted more.

I asked him what the best part of the trip had been. He told me it was Prince Edward Island. I have heard it’s beautiful there and told him that. Then it occurred to me that he didn’t just land in Hallifax and head south. The guy headed north and rode around Nova Scotia before turning towards New York.

His average day is between 100 – 120 kilometers (60-75 miles) a day. Every day. He typically stays at a campground and sleeps in a tent but a few days ago, when I rained a lot, he told me with a sly grin that he stayed in a motel instead.

Soon I got to the intersection where I would normally turn right. Knowing George was going straight, I decided to go straight and continue to ride with him.

We talked about what we did for a living, how many kids we each had (and how many grandchildren he had), etc.  I’m not sure what it is about being on a bike but I can talk to anyone when I’m out biking. Put me in a room of strangers and expect me to mingle and I struggle. When I’m on the bike I can roll up to anyone and strike up a conversation.

He had ridden all over France and Switzerland in his life. I joked that this route must have seemed pretty flat to him after biking in Europe.This trip had been a dream of his for 10 years and here he was making it happen.

As we neared Portland I was already late getting home but decided a detour was in order to show him an efficient way to get him through the city and towards his destination a bit quicker.

We got to a point where I was going to leave him and wanted to get his picture. He was happy to accommodate my request.

My commuting companion, George from The Netherlands

I called my husband to report that I was late, had a good reason for it, and would explain when I arrived home soon. He informed me that he still wasn’t home and would be in about 30 minutes. I made the decision to ride a little further with George to make sure he made his way okay.

Then I realized it would be really nice to take a photo of him in Portland and email it to his family. He also thought this would be a great idea. So we did!

"Greetings from George in Portland, Maine"

It was finally time to say goodbye to George. I wished him well and told him it was a pleasure to join him on part of his journey. I will be thinking of him often over the next few weeks as he continues on his trip and especially on September 1st when his wife arrives to meet him.

Tonight I got home an hour later than normal, took a route I wouldn’t normally take, all because of a man named George. And I was happier for it.

Living in Vacationland – Part 3B – Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

During my father-in-law’s visit to Maine, and after out Whale Watching excursion, we grabbed some lunch then headed to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens nearby. I had heard this was a great place and it didn’t disappoint. If you have and opportunity to visit, I highly recommend it.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, below you’ll find several thousand words. Enjoy!

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One of the coolest parts of the garden was this moving sculpture. It mesmerized us all.

Living in Vacationland – Part 3A – Whale Watching

It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a whale watching trip. We thought it would be fun to do with my visiting father-in-law. We drove to Boothbay Harbor for an excursion on Captain Fish’s Whale Watching Trips.

Unfortunately we didn’t see any whales but we did see some dolphins.

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A video of the dolphins – the loved surfing in the wake of the boat.

Living in Vacationland – Part 2 – The Coast

As I mentioned in my previous post, my father-in-law came to visit recently. The first day he was here we spent the afternoon on Peaks Island with a picnic lunch.

The next two days, after all that walking, we thought it might make sense to take it easy. We drove to Kennebunkport the day after Peaks Island and then meandered our way back along the coast, which includes views of Walker Point (the Bush residence) and Ferry Beach.

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Walker Point, Kennebunkport, ME

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Dad and Don at Ferry Beach

The next day we made our way around closer to Portland with a trip the the Observatory, Two Lights, including lunch at The Lobster Shack, and Fort Williams/Portland Head Light.

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View of the Portland Observatory

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View of Portland Harbor from the Observatory

My lunch of fried clams at The Lobster Shack

The last stop of the day was to the iconic Portland Head Light.

The most photographed lighthouse in Maine, Portland Head Light.

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The best part of the week’s events planned was still yet to come. Stay tuned for that post!

Living in Vacationland – Part 1 – Peaks Island

If you live in Maine, chances are you have people that visit from other parts of the country in the summer. It’s usually family but sometimes it’s friends, too.

A couple weeks ago my father-in-law came to visit. He had a break during classes (he just graduated from Eastern Kentucky University this spring and has started classes for his masters in History) so we had him fly up for a week’s visit.

He’s 76-years-old and spry! So we had a lot planned for the week.

One of the first things we did was go to Peaks Island by ferry. It’s approximately 4-5 miles if you walk all the way around, which we did and it was hot! We packed a picnic lunch and found a shady spot on the rocks under a piece of ledge.

A view from Peaks Island

Our lunch spot - a respite from the sun.

A healthy lunch for all of us consisting of fruit, veggies, humus and sweet potato chips.

Me & Dad

One of my favorite photos of the day was this one – I took it of both Don and his Dad taking photos of flowers. It made me chuckle.

Photographing flowers.

Stay tuned. I’ll wright more about the other adventures during Dad’s recent visit to Vacationland.

 

Winding Down from Crazy

Well, I’m back from the Trek and this week has been crazy!

First I’ll start with the Trek. It was AWESOME!

As I posted earlier, I was undecided about signing up again. But I have. How can I not? It’s just so damn fun!

Me and my friend Jen, her first Trek.

The weather was pretty good this year, too. Hot Friday, cloudy Saturday, and sunny, breezy Sunday.

With a small team this year, I ended up riding a fair bit by myself. We just ride at our own pace and no necessarily with our teammates so I just did my own ride. Typically we’d all catch up at the rest stops.

I had a friend that lent me a helmet camera for the Trek.

Helmet cam. I am a geek.

Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to test it out before leaving. Without a computer to download the footage it was so hard to know where the camera was pointing so I had to hope for the best. I’m happy to say that I got some really great footage of the pavement between Bethel and Belfast. I wonder if the Maine Department of Transportation can use any of it?

Since I returned it’s been a crazy week. Crazy at work and also busy after work with social commitments. One of those commitments was attending a fundraiser for the Bicycle Coalition of Maine at Flatbread Pizza. I had heard they had a decent gluten free crust and after checking out the ingredients, finding that they were satisfactory, I ordered a pizza. That was a highlight of me week – real pizza that I haven’t had in a very long time!

Now the week is winding down and the weather a little dreary. No matter. I’m just enjoying a little downtime with my husband before things get crazy again. They always do.

At the finish in Belfast, Maine.