2016 Riding Diary

2016 Miles: 877 

February 1, 2017 - I'm ashamed that I let this page go last year. I don't deal well with changes in routine, and losing my job in August was a pretty big change in routine. But enough about that.

In September Mr. M and I drove West to join Snowcatcher and the Lizard for Bike MS Washington, a ride that winds through some of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. We all rode Day 1 (60 miles for me), and Snowcatcher, the Lizard, and I rode Day 2 (27 miles). Then we all went to visit some more blogging friends on the Olympic Peninsula. Best trip ever!

Looking back at my log for last fall, I see mostly weekend rides in October. Things petered out in November, with only 2 rides to my credit.

The last ride of the year was on November 10, when I rode my bike to a dental appointment in a neighbouring town. Apparently they don't get many patients in cycling kit; everyone was very surprised to hear that I'd arrived by bicycle. The days were pretty short by then; when I got out it was too dark to ride home, so I rode my bike to the town library where Mr. M was waiting for me (by arrangement). We loaded Iris into the car, and that was the last time she got out in 2016.

September mileage: 87 miles
October mileage: 62.6
November mileage: 27.2

2016 was a stressful year - two local family members with cancer (one of them needing months of wound care); the death of another family member from cancer; a co-worker's absence on medical leave, resulting in extra stress and pressure on those of us who were left; some health problems ending in minor surgery for me; and after all that, being fired without warning and without recourse. On the good side, we had an awesome vacation and I got a new job that I love, so the year definitely ended better than it began. Here's to a better year - and a better cycling season (with more miles!) - in 2017.

Tuesday, August 30 - Funny that despite having no job I don't seem to have time to ride this week. Squeezed a quick one in today before heading over to Dad's. Sunny, decent temps, mind still spinning around what happened last week instead of enjoying what's going on right now. It will get better.
15.8 miles

Sunday, August 28 - It's time to stop crying and brooding, and get the heck back on my bike. I can't change what's happened; I can't change the minds of whoever made the bizarre decision last week (see below); worst of all, I can't help the patients I've been forced to leave behind. I have to pick up and keep living my life. Thus it is that today I get out the bike and hit the road. I'll admit that despite the blue of the sky and the white of the clouds, the yellow and lilac and white of wildflowers, the cheery red barns and the dusty black, grey, and brown of cows and pigs in their pastures, nearly all my thoughts are spinning round and round what happened last week. It's shouldn't be so, but it is. The day is pleasantly warm and the wind is moderate. My pace is slow. But I'm out there. 21 miles

Monday, August 22 - I and a co-worker are suddenly and without warning fired from our jobs as pharmacy technicians in a local pharmacy. Between us we've put in 28 years there - 11½ years for her, and 16½ for me (8 of them as a very part-time back-office Medicare biller, then when the store was bought out I moved to the pharmacy). We are stunned and shocked and saddened. I hate to think of the patients coming in and not finding anyone they know there to help them (the pharmacist, who'd been there 4 years, was suddenly moved to a different position a few weeks ago, also without warning). It's like being cut off from our family. The rest of the week is a dazed blur of grief mixed with frustration and lack of focus. The last thing I want to do is get on my bike (Mr. M says that's a good sign I should have been riding). I just want to curl up in my pajamas and hide from everything. After all the stress this year of my sister-in-law's death, my sister's fight with cancer and extensive surgery complications, my dad's ongoing health issues and need for care, my own health problems, and the extra stress at work from being short-handed - well, as Rebecca Dew would say, "This IS the last straw."

Sunday, August 21 - After lots of rain and a weekend of storms, the skies finally clear. Temps have dropped quite a bit, and the wind is COOL as I hit the road. See dark-pink flower just out of town; assume it's a milkweed but later on looking at photos am stumped. (Then I see something similar in a friend's garden, but with different colour flowers; her plant is a Sedum, which gives me a jumping-off point. Research suggests my sighting to be Hylotelephium - species unknown.) There are loads of wildflowers along this little stretch of road and I decide to photograph them all, plus each flower I see on this ride. (It's time I had a "wildflower ride"!) A beautiful afternoon for riding and photography; the sun is bright and warm, the breeze extremely cool. Lots of bees amongst the blossoms. Photograph more than 30 varieties, including Rough Blazing Star which I don't think I've photographed before. A certain field on A. road is full of sandhill cranes; the swallows seem to have gone already, and the geese are beginning to gather. Ominous signs of autumn - all we're missing is some late-season aster. And guess what I pass a short time later! A lovely specimen of Flat-Topped Aster. Dang. Even though it happens every year I still get depressed when summer draws to a close.... 18 miles

Aaand ... I've slacked off AGAIN on notating anything more than the mileage of my rides. So here's a bit of a lump sum entry as before:

Sunday, August 14 through Saturday, August 20 - Three rides on the road bike plus a short ride on Daisy the Secondhand Cruiser (those miles count, right? though I usually forget to make a note of them). A busy week, ending in a series of thunderstorms. Had to fit Saturday's short ride between storms, as a matter of fact (see those lovely grey clouds in the photo?). 47.1 miles (over several rides)

Tuesday, August 9 - Beautifully hot afternoon with blue sky and puffy clouds in the east, lowering grey storminess in the west. Wind seems to be coming from all directions at once. Not sure how legs will do (still feeling aftereffects of virus) so keep things down to a steady, slightly plodding pace. See cows and piggies at pasture together in P's field; spot entirely new-to-me flower on R. road that resembles a striped pink lily-of-the-valley in shape but with rather lilac-like foliage - turns out to be Spreading Dogbane. (Always exciting to spot a new flower.) Dark cloudy weather overtakes me on high prairie but drops no rain, and ends up blowing harmlesslly away to the southeast. A good strong ride; legs feel back to normal when I'm done. Wish I had time to go farther. 23.3 miles

Sunday August 7 - Am getting over a virus caught from a co-worker last week - a weird virus that caused extreme dizziness with nausea, chills, and a swollen gland on one side of the face. These symptoms eventually went away, leaving me with horribly shaky legs and a painful hollow cough. Decide I need to ride today despite the shaky legs. First few miles feel awfully wobbly but eventually things steady up a bit. Gorgeous warm afternoon with dramatic streaky clouds. Joe-Pye weed beginning to open; goldenrod now blooming as if it means it; QAL and knapweed continue strong, as do Woodland Sunflower and wild daylilies. Swallows have been gathering on the wires for a couple of weeks now; sandhill cranes also beginning to form small groups. Hope this doesn't mean an early autumn.... Pass a stretch of tall drying mullein and see interesting bird on one of the stalks; carefully circle back with camera in hand and actually get a photo! (I hardly ever get a good bird shot.) Pay for the ride later with a brief return of viral symptoms but feel it was worth it. 19.5 miles

Tuesday, July 26 through Tuesday August 2 - Five rides, very few details. This is what happens when I forget to update the diary right away. Time was I could remember a ride a week or two after the fact, but this year everything is such a blur that I look at the miles logged on my calendar and remember nothing at all about the day, weather, or anything else. Good thing I made a note of the mileage at least. (From my photos it would seem the weather was beautifully clear on at least two of the rides.) I do remember that one evening I saw a skunk rooting along the verge.... tried to take a photo while riding past at a safe distance, but light was too poor so photo very blurry (dang it). 70.7 miles (spread over several rides)

Saturday, July 23 - Last night the air turned horribly thick and soupy, and we wake this morning to dense fog. By the time I reach the staging ground for the local MS ride, the fog has thinned a bit but things are still pretty damp. Once out of town the mist is thicker; by the time I've gone a mile my glasses are dripping wet. Have to pull them down my nose and look over them in order to see anything at all. Set myself an easy pace so as to conserve energy for a Really Nasty Hill later on. Am passed by dozens of people in the first 10 miles, but as soon as the road starts to climb I pass many of them in my turn (try not to feel smug about this). Shifters aren't working well in this extreme dampness; rear cable keeps sticking and front cable keeps going slack. Several riders' chains come off, including mine at one point. Ah well. At the first rest stop everyone is simply bathed in sweat as we stand in line for breakfast burritos. I grab a bit of pickle juice to go with mine, which makes me think of Snowcatcher. :) Break over; it feels great to get back on the bike and get moving again. The Really Nasty Hill - my bête noire - comes about halfway through the ride, and includes a stretch (about 2/10 mile) of 9-12% grade. Though I've ridden it several times over the last month, I've never yet reached the top without either tacking or becoming lightheaded and gasping like a stranded fish. Today I hope for better things. My legs are in good shape; I've been keeping a moderate pace; I've planned a workable sequence of out-of-saddle and in-saddle climbing that I hope will get me to the top without undue stress. I set up for it carefully, making sure I'm in bottom gear well before the climb starts. Things are going well when about halfway up I hear a quiet "tck-tck-tck ... click". The damn shifter cable has slipped the chain into second gear. I'm not about to stop and mess with it in the middle of a hill this steep, so I toil up the rest of the way in the wrong gear, sweating and puffing and thinking dark thoughts about vintage bikes with down-tube shifters. (Sorry, Iris.) Finally reach the top, with less panache than I'd hoped. (Someday I will conquer this hill.) After this the rest of the ride is a breeze, psychologically at least. Last 7 or 8 miles feel great and I pass all kinds of people. I do like to open up and really push the pace at the end of a ride. Home, shower, then over to the excellent lunch provided for the riders. Weather is even stickier and it begins to rain. Shortly after I get back from lunch, thunderstorms start rolling through. I'm glad they waited until the ride was done! A good ride, and I'm glad to have finally broken the 40-mile mark this year. (Took me long enough.) 41.2 miles

Friday, July 22 - Hot hot hot! 88 with a heat index of 99, mild wind S and SW, just enough to keep the sweat out of my eyes. The sun sends down waves of heat that beat back from the road and burn on the back of my black shorts. Easy spinner today, no hard climbing, no big gears. Have to save energy for local MS ride tomorrow. Am really starting to enjoy riding in hot weather - feels great to get sweaty. I must be getting old. :)
15.8 miles

Tuesday, July 19 - Another short-ish ride. Hot afternoon, moderate wind. Legs feel much better today. Definitely saw a goldenrod blossom. Darn. 13.8 miles

Monday, July 18 - Quick leg-loosener before work. Sunny, warm, windy, and beautiful. Flowers seen today (and left off yesterday's list) include: mullein, white campion, spiderwort (not a good year for this flower - they all seem to be going to seed as soon as they blossom), hairy vetch, catnip, crown vetch, hare's foot clover, bindweed, last of the Dame's Rocket. And I think I saw the first goldenrod blossom (nooooooooooo!). Good pace today - legs feel better than yesterday. 9.0 miles

Sunday, July 17 - It's high time I started this thing! The cycling season is half over already. Why did I wait so long? Many reasons. This year has been super stressful, with multiple family medical crises, work/schedule problems, and personal health problems all making it hard - sometimes mentally and sometimes physically - to ride. I haven't put in nearly as many miles as I would have liked by now (year to date is about 376), but I'm grateful to be able to ride at all. So here goes with the 2016 riding diary. Better late than never.
Hot and windy today, wind SW 10-12, gusting to 21. We had a massive thunderstorm early this morning with more forecast for tonight. Skies overcast when I left but cleared during the ride. Last week's minor surgery has really knocked the strength out of my legs; took about 18 miles to feel fully warmed-up. Climbing not strong today. Route included S. road with a stretch of 9-12% grade - builds character! (Or so I tell myself.) Made it up without tacking, but have to admit got slightly light-headed before the top. (Should have eaten a proper lunch.) Tons of wildflowers out right now. Seen today include: white - white sweet clover, Queen Anne's Lace, hedge-parsley (T. japonica), hoary alyssum, fleabane. Yellow - wild parsnip, rudbeckia, last of the buttercups, woodland sunflower, heliopsis, birdsfoot trefoil, yellow sweet clover, black medick, Canada hawkweed (or possibly Canada lettuce), St. John's Wort. Pink/lavender - fireweed, desmodium, red clover, wild bergamot, knapweed, swamp milkweed, common milkweed, field thistle (mostly gone to seed), Bouncing Bet. Orange - Turk's cap lily, orange daylily. (I'm sure I've forgotten several flowers.) Honeysuckle bushes all covered with berries, mostly bright red but some peach-colour. Good ride, but I felt the lack of lunch by the time I was done. Bring on the pasta! 28.9 miles

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