Since all my bellyaching after riding the Jay Hoggs trails at Georgetown Lake (okay, maybe it was the all the bean tacos I’ve been eating), I redeemed myself to my bike and again feel worthy of owning such a complex yet simple machine. Evan and I nursed our egos with a short, spry 15 mile road ride around the farm towns just East of Austin.
Lifting Weights at Midnight
Clumsy but ambitious, with vegan recipes, health tips, and tales of mountain bike and hiking trails. I’m not a quitter, I just fall down a lot.
Over the past month, our bike riding had declined as we were fully immersed in closing shop in Pittsburgh and preparing for life on the road. We had been staying with a good friend of ours who lived just a little bit outside of town, so commuting by bicycle wasn’t always an option when we were on such a tight time schedule.
All things considered, I want to live. The pain my loved ones would endure is palpable enough for me to never want to die; although I have no fear of death, the love I have for my family—and, possibly more importantly, that they have for me—gives me a firm sense of self-preservation. While I do have a nagging sense of invincibility (despite having never stepped into oncoming traffic, there have been plenty of other close calls), I know eventually my family and friends will have the option to attend a memorial service of some sort in honor of yours truly. Hopefully not for a very, very long time. Hopefully my parents aren’t here to scatter my ashes.
I skipped boxing last night because there has been a lot of stress in my little family and I thought it would be nice to take a night off from obligations and just ride around the park in the woods at night with my husband. I’m glad I did it, but when I got caught behind a slow truck on my way to boxing this afternoon and knew I was about to be late, I had to fight myself from turning around. I forced myself to keep driving, and when I got to the gym four minutes late, I made myself walk in with my tail between my legs and wrap my hands. Coach Jeff is as kind (to his students anyway) as they come, while still being directive and authoritative. We talk band stuff, because he used to be in the popular PA band Simon Says who played the college circuit in the 90’s. I missed the jumprope warm-up but caught all the important lessons, and then finished with the jumprope at the end. To skip it is to only cheat myself. I deserve it to myself to put in the effort and make the most of my time. We all deserve it.
Yes, I know I have more stories to tell about Race Across the West, but this has been a very eventful summer and the stories are happening faster than I can write them. Last week I returned from hiking a good portion of the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland, Canada. The heroes of St. John’s, for me, are Alison and Geoff, who let me sleep in their guest quarters and leave my things while I was hiking, Bernadette at the tourism department who worked so hard to make our trip memorable and to keep us on track, and Carolyn Cook (there were many Carolyn’s), who worked for the tourism department and also at the Outfitters shop in downtown St. John’s.
Guys. GUYS. I didn’t tell you about Race Across the West.
After working the support crew for Team PHenomenal Hope‘s endlessly impressive duo Ann-Marie Alderson and Patty George as they competed in Race Across the West (RAW), I was inspired to finally start riding my road bike again. Road riding in southwestern PA is certainly different than riding in Southwest US, because the hills are much smaller and punchier, the shoulders are much narrower (or nonexistent), and the road surface varies between relatively paved to hunks of asphalt that have been thrown in a general area together to create a relative illusion of the concept of “road.” Still, watching them pedal, climb, and descend, and feeling their small victories at having crossed mile markers and personal struggles, made me want to go out for a long ride myself. A week or so home and I was finally settled to hit the pavement (the trails are still too muddy to ride, as it’s been raining almost every day for a couple months now). I went to the basement, and found a wonderful science experiment where I though I had left my bike.
I have a medical condition that causes my earbuds to fall apart. Sometimes the speaker detaches from itself, sometimes the chords get all chewed up and I get tiny electric shocks when I run slower than five miles an hour, and sometimes they disintegrate entirely, never to be seen again (or maybe found a couple of months later in a bag I stopped using or tucked in a couch cushion). In truth, I just usually buy crappy headphones that are made for standing at a bus stop or wearing while doing data entry.
As summer begins to crest and Pittsburgh experiences more rainy, 84ºF days rather than 35º and rainy, I’ve been spending my “downtime” (which is time spent on the bicycle or on foot while hanging posters, or while winding down at night) brainstorming ways to make an income during my time on the road. If anyone follows social media accounts, (s)he is likely aware of the fake lives people life: the freedom, endless vacations, and luxury of so many lucky ducks. Instagram is possibly the most guilty, filled with accounts of people living dreamily in their Westfalias, spending nights under starscape to wake beachside and spend the day surfing and mountain biking. But who, or what, pays for van repair? Or gas? Or food? We often joke about our sweet pooch (who at this moment is throwing up in my back yard, in front of me) and his tender tummy. He currently eats a mixture of dry food for small senior dogs with sensitive stomachs as well as added snacks to help his digestion, skin, and happiness (who doesn’t love yogurt and blueberries?). How am I going to pay for his gourmet chow, or for my very necessary occasional chocolate bar? The answer is that many of the inspiring ‘Grammers are techies who have temporarily cut themselves loose from their desk job ties. Many more have trust funds that allow for the luxury of endless summer.
The timing of GoGo Gear‘s email advertising their new kevlar leggings with removable knee pads was just about perfect. I had been taking my scooter back and forth across the bridge to Millvale, where Ed at Goose Farm Motorcycles helped me put on my license plate, then Geoff at Slagheap Cycles in the same space helped me attach my trunk because I was having compatibility issues. In mid-late November, crossing a river at night is a cold journey, and wearing regular tights under my jeans just wasn’t cutting it. After a particularly cold evening, I arrived at the coffee shop where Evan worked to soak up some warm beverage as he prepared to lock the doors. I checked my email and saw these leggings. They seemed perfect, but with a price point well above my budget at the time, having not quite shaken the shock of quitting my job.