Monday, July 18, 2011

Scares the crap out of me!

Some things about being on the road scare the crap out of me!

I wish the possibility of something terrible happening could escape my mind, but it's there whenever I'm on a bicycle. When I am on my own, I always stop at intersections -- even on the most rural streets. I'm a lot more cautious now than I remember being as a kid pedaling all over city streets. Safety wasn't at the forefront of my thoughts back then. I just wanted to get to my destination, and bicycle was how I got there.

Maybe it's that I haven't spent much of my adult life on two wheels -- with the exception of time spent on a designated bicycle path. There, I felt pretty safe, in spite of the numerous walkers with dogs, rollerbladers, and children happily unaware of the rule about staying to the right. It's just that on the bike path, there's the comfort of knowing there wasn't going to be heavy objects on four wheels whizzing by, easily capable of flattening out me and my bicycle like a pancake.

My other fear-factor is revolves around the fact that I am now taking a prescription for a blood thinner. I've seen Facebook photos of cyclists after a fall, and the full length body scrapes I'm sure would be a larger problem for me.

But all-in-all, when I balance the overall health benefits of cycling with the inherent risks, I don't want to give up the riding. I don't want to live in fear.

On the back of our tandem, I place my utmost trust in my Captain. He brought me into the world of serious cycling, and I've hungrily accepted his guidance all along.

However, David is a speed enthusiast by nature. Although I was scared crap on our first few fast and straight downhill descents on the tandem together, I made a promise to him and myself that I would not scream. And I will not ever, ever punch him in the back! I will admit to closing my eyes on occasion. :)

Three years into it now, whenever I am with David, I feel a greater sense of safety than when I am riding alone. But still, we have had a few close calls. In recent weeks, these have been with motorists making a right-hand turn in front of us. I've held my breath while David makes a split second decision on how to react.

Ride safely. Encourage motorists to be aware.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Challenging for sure!

I have a weekly appointment to have my blood checked. A year ago, after considerable weight loss, I experienced severe abdominal pain. Initially, it was assumed to be a gall bladder issue. But a MRI revealed a blood clot in the portal vein of my liver. Eventually, the pain subsided, I was placed on blood thinners to help my body to dissolve the clot.

A year later, I thought I would be over this health crisis. But the clot is still there. Now the blood doctor wants to watch me more carefully to assure that my blood is consistently thin enough. I'm told my gall bladder is sick too. But since it hasn't given me much trouble, they are cautiously waiting before removing it. They want to be sure I have no clotting issue before going ahead with a "routine" surgery.

While I was getting my blood drawn yesterday morning, the lab technician was very interested in my cycling activity. I shared with her how many miles Dave & I ride each week, and our great enthusiasm for tandem riding. She wanted to learn more. I offered her some encouragement to get involved in cycling. I enjoy spreading the word about the sport as a pastime -- it's a way to gain all the benefits of regular physical activity without the drudgery. It's challenging for sure ~ more at some times than others ~ but it's exhilarating and afterward, the feeling of being refreshed and relaxed is so worth the effort!

Last night, we joined in with an after-work group ride of cycling club members. The first part of the ride was a lot more challenging than we anticipated! When it comes to hill climbing, it's a lot tougher on a tandem! Dave & I struggled as our ride leader explained to us that there was approximately 4 miles of uphill facing us... Wow, that was 100% pure effort in our combined output for a prolonged period of time! During those climbs, we find ourselves questioning what we ate that day, was it too much stress, etc. And we feel pressured to keep up with the others, not wanting to hold them back. Dave becomes very verbal. I prefer to quietly focus. We're good together!  : )

The second half of last night's ride was better. The longest stretch of road was rolling with generous ups and downs. On the tandem, we were invited to lead the pack so that we could maximize our momentum on the downs to carry us forward on the ups. It worked out beautifully!

Overall, it was a 34 miles ride with 11 fellow riders, and a 14.4 mph average speed.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Amazing what your mind processes while your body is working

Dave & I have been getting up at the crack of dawn these days. We've been heading out on our tandem at daybreak to assure that we make the time to get in a ride whenever we can -- daily if possible! And since it's mid-July, it's also the coolest part of the day.

Sometimes I feel a little groggy first thing in the morning, but I find that the early morning rides are beneficial in so many ways! Not only does it get me going so that I feel energetic and ready to accomplish a lot throughout the hours ahead, but at the same time, it leaves me feeling relaxed. The quiet of the morning while exercising offers an opportunity to sort out what needs to get done in my own mind, and lets me prioritize. It's a good thing!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Sweet Story of How We Met

David & I met on Halloween night of 2008. We met on Our first date was on November 1st at Riverview Restaurant & Lounge in Moosup, Connecticut. The most memorable thing about our first date was how it was so comfortable and natural to be in each other's company... our first kisses, and oh... how David's teenage son called him around 11:00 p.m. and yelled at him for not being home from his dinner date by then!

Anyway, one of the things I was attracted to in Dave's profile on was that he was into cycling. I lived near a bicycle path at one time in my life, and I rode on it almost daily for exercise. I loved it. But I was still a casual rider. I had never been on a bicycle that hadn't come from a department store or a yard sale. I had never worn spandex. I used to watch the riders in spandex wiz by me when I lived in Rhode Island. I envied them, but I never, ever thought I could imagine myself as being "one of them"!

David and Karen Etchells on their Tandem
Lovin' Life Together!!

Well, now I am "one of them", and I believe it is one of the most positive life changes I have made. The other -- of course -- was becoming David's other half! Without him, it's probable that I'd still be riding on the  bike path only - on my Walmart bicycle.

Fast forward: Dave & I naturally talk a lot while riding our tandem bicycle. It's one of the greatest advantages of riding tandem. We can hear each other and communicate easily. But we also enjoy each other's company while sharing quiet, thinking time too.

Yesterday, while riding on our tandem, I was pedaling along, deep in thought. I've recently been laid-off due to "reorganization" in my workplace. Our wedding date has been set for over a year now, to happen in September. Other financial set-backs have occurred as well, each one contributing to the economical stresses many of us are facing these days.

Our wedding date is September 10, 2011 -- The ceremony will be very intimate, with immediate family in attendance.  It will be held at a local winery, casual and relaxed, yet eclectically elegant! Keeping it small has allowed us to make this affordable. It's all very nice, but we aren't your average, everyday kind of couple. We love cycling and it's part of our lives. In some way, shape or form, it's gotta be incorporated into our special day!

We have discussed various possibilities over the past year... Maybe we can ride into the ceremony on separate bicycles, and depart together on the tandem? That is a good possibility! But, it would also be a joy for us to be able to share our happiness with our cycling friends too!

Then I came up with an idea for establishing a Honeymoon Fund. With the goal of hopefully raising enough money to enable us to travel, I thought about the possibility of organizing a celebratory Wedding Day Group Cycling Ride. I can envision a wonderful route -- like the  everyday rides Dave & I get to enjoy on a routine basis -- with some of the most breathtaking views of old country barns, fishing ponds, and rolling farmland extending out to a vivid blue horizon!

In researching how to do this, I discovered GoFundMe which allows a group or individual a simple way to establish a fund to benefit a good cause. Maybe this could work for us? And maybe we could actually celebrate our happiness with fellow cycling buddies, and maybe we can really make a honeymoon happen for us!