Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Snow Day! Snowshoe Workout


Donna leads the way
We finally have snow during what has been a rather mild winter in New England. I'm not a huge fan of snow, but it hasn't felt like a true New England winter without it. On Friday we received 11" of powdery fluff, and with rain in the forecast for Sunday, Donna and I bundled up to go snowshoeing on Saturday despite temps hovering just above 20 degrees. You gotta pick your days.

The trails were quiet, with only a half dozen or so people hiking through mid-calf-height snow or on cross country skis. We were the only snowshoers out there. We did an out and back hike with a few joggles to give us a little over a mile and a half total distance, (Strava). It was a great workout! Despite the frigid temps, I was quite toasty until I got home. (Then the chills hit. Brrr.)

Tons of fun and hopefully we'll have more opportunities to get out there this winter. (Equipment note: MSR Evo snowshoes for both.)

Donna at trail's end. There were swans in the harbor.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Ready to go, 2022

Coffeeneuring finishers prize has arrived!

Chip and I kept slipping up over the weekend, referring to the new year as "2020", (like the last two years didn't happen), but I'm feeling good about 2022. Getting a fresh start on the new year, and in the process of cleaning out some clutter, I came across my training program from Coach Shayne from winter 2016. Chuckling at the memories of Shayne rolling his eyes over “cookie watts”, I opened it up to see if I should brush off the dust and add his workouts to my comeback strategy.

Dec 20: Find a flat course with little to no stops. Ride for 60 minutes at 7-8 RPE, or 80-85% max HR, or 60-70% FTP. Push into 9-10 RPE, or 90-98% max HR, or 100+ FTP for 1 minute every 10 minutes.
"Uhhhh... coach? What's my FTP again?" Hahaha... I made him nuts. 

Riding for 60 minutes at 80-85% max heart rate isn't happening right now, (honestly, I'd be lucky to eek out 30 minutes), so I'll likely subscribe to Zwift for winter workouts and go from there. Between that, hitting the track with Donna, and the weight training routine Will has programmed, I should be covered. I'm not committing to any races or events until after June. My girl gang may be back to racing, but I'm far from it.

I know baking and cooking and indiscriminate eating has put me into a bit of a hole, but I'm not going to beat myself up over it. Baking pretzels and treats for my family, reading 110 books in 2021, and staying mostly homebound was how I found contentment during an unsettled time. Two years ago, I was at my peak fitness... (sigh), Today? Well let's just say I've got my work cut out for me. I've done it before though, and can do it again.

Ready for 2020 2022!

Monday, December 13, 2021

Old Time Bike Rider Still Going Strong

Friends have asked, "How long have you been riding?"... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  I guess technically 55 years? I had a red Radio Flyer tricycle I rode down a cement walkway and over a few stairs when I was three or four. I actually remember it. Lol. The next bike after that was pink with a banana seat and streamers on the handlebar ends. The seat had silver glitter.

The first "long" ride I took was on an orange Huffy ten-speed given to me by my second-dad Bill. I rode that bike from Swampscott to Marblehead when I was 13 -- ten miles round trip -- to catch the matinee of Star Wars at the Warwick movie theatre. It was a long ride for teenage me.

I'm not sure what the catalyst was towards becoming an endurance cyclist. In 1991, I was given a Bianchi Volpe 21 speed bike, and I just started riding. Then in 1993, I decided to do something a little different. I left my job, gave up my apartment, sold many of my belongings, purchased some bikepacking gear, and headed to Italy. I had no real plan other than to travel around Italy by bike, find a job and live in Italy forever; and despite a few mishaps and falling short of my vision, it was an ADVENTURE in all caps.

From there, my cycling endeavors snowballed into hundreds of thousands of miles; another long bikepacking trip; years of events, races, charity rides, training plans, bikes, coaches, sponsors, and teams. Thirty years of cycling. I've pared back the last few years -- the pandemic combined with injuries has been a drain -- but I still love the bike.

I have no clue where my love for cycling came from -- No one else in my family rides --  but I came across this article recently, (photo above), written in 1928, about my great-great uncle, Clarence Snow. My aunt remembers Clare as an exceptionally athletic man, well known for cycling and swimming. He would have been 62 when this article was written -- still going strong -- and I think that's pretty cool.

Three cheers to Uncle Clare!

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Coffeeneuring 2021, Control Card

Ride Number: 1
Date: 10/18/21
Mileage (total): 20
Location Name: Dunkin'
Address: 40 Beach Street, Harbor Point, Manchester-by-the-Sea
Drink: Iced coffee (with a spider donut)
Bike: Trek Domane road bike
Ride note: Nothing is open on Mondays in Manchester.

Ride Number: 2
Date: 10/24/21
Mileage (total): 8
Location Name: Plus Café
Address: 34 Atlantic Ave, Marblehead
Drink: Pumpkin Spice Latte (and oatmeal cookie)
Bike: Kona Kahuna MTB
Ride note: Rail trail through town and to Riverhead Beach. Glorious day.

Ride Number: 3
Date: 10/30/21 Happy Halloween
Mileage (total): 6
Location Name: Goldthwait Reservation
Address: Marblehead
Drink: Spiced chai tea, butterfly crackers, peach artisan jam
Bike: Kona Kahuna MTB and GT Aggressor
Ride Note: Will joined in, beautiful day for a tea-in-the-wild!

Ride Number: 4
Date: 11/7/21
Mileage (total): 18
Location Name: Gulu Gulu Cafe
Address: 247 Essex St, Salem
Drink: Creme Brûlée Latte and grilled banana bread
Bike: Trek Domane
Ride note: Still many tourists in Salem, but not too bad. Beautiful day. Surprised to see the water breaching the walkway and some coastal erosion down by the wharf. As much as I've loved the weather lately, climate change and rising sea levels are alarming.

Ride Number: 5
Date: 11/10/21
Mileage (total): 14
Location Name: Bagel Bin Deli
Address: 30 Main St, Topsfield
Drink: Iced coffee with milk, no snack
Bike: Kona Kahuna MTB
Ride note: Danvers rail trail to Topsfield and a ride along the Great Wenham Canal. 70 degrees in November!

Ride Number: 6
Date: 11/18/21
Mileage (total): 21
Location Name: Jaho Coffee and Tea
Address: 197 Derby Street, Salem
Drink: Iced coffee (with small biscotti) $11. Not kidding.
Bike: Trek Domane
Ride note: Near 70 degree day! Great time exploring some of the quiet streets and architectural details surrounding the Washington Square-Essex Street-Derby Street area. Stunned to pay $11 for a small cookie and iced coffee at Jaho -- tourist pricing??? I'm not a fan.

Ride Number: 7
Date: 11/28/21
Mileage (total): 10
Location Name: Java Sun Coffee Roasters
Address: 35 Atlantic Ave, Marblehead
Drink: Gourmet Hot Cocoa and 1/4 chocolate croissant, (because I dropped it. Waah.)
Bike: Kona Kahuna MTB
Ride note: Rail trail into town for some Xmas shopping at a few local businesses, and a stop by the harbor. We had a gray day, temps in the mid 30s, but no wind. My last coffeeneuring ride for 2021 and I'm happy I got it done with a few days to spare.

Final Stats
Total Rides: 7
Total Mileage: 95
The Bikes: 1. Kona Kahuna MTB. 2. Trek Domane
Most Common Beverage: Iced Coffee
Total Challenges Completed: 6

(Thank you, Mary G., at ChasingMailboxes.com, for continuing this (now) traditional social coffee ride challenge! xoxo)

Coffeeneuring Ride 7, Finishing up before the snow

Gourmet Hot Cocoa at Java Sun (personal mug)

Coming to the end of the Coffeeneuring Challenge, and looking ahead at the forecast over the next few days, I decided to bundle up and head out today, despite the chilly gray day. I rode the rail trail from home into downtown Marblehead and did a little Christmas shopping, (picked out and ordered a few paint-your-own pottery pieces from Hestia for Kate's kids to paint at home and then return to Hestia for firing), and then headed to the coffee shop for my final coffeeneur coffee -- which was actually cocoa.

I had my own mug with me in my backpack, planning to take my coffee-to-go and head to the waterfront, but took advantage of a (rare) free table at Java Sun Coffee Roasters to sit down, relax, and warm up before the trek home. I stopped by the harbor -- empty except for a few diehard fishing boats and some day sailers sailing in circles near one of the yacht clubs -- and then headed home.

It was a great finish to Coffeeneuring 2021. I didn't squeeze in a C+1 ride -- and like every year, I took it down to the very end, this year finishing with two days to spare -- but I'm content. 

Snow tomorrow...

Shop local.
How fun are these gurgling cods?

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Coffeeneuring Salem, Architectural Tour

The difference of a day -- it was 45 degrees yesterday, near 70 today! Coffeeneuring ride 6 was an architectural field trip through Salem, with a stop at Jaho Coffee and Tea.

I've been reading a fascinating book on Salem's maritime fortunes titled, Death of an Empire, by Robert Booth. Midway into the book, currently the year 1819, I decided to swing by a few of the homes mentioned in the narrative. I've driven by, rode by, and lived in the general vicinity of many of the homes mentioned in the book without ever really knowing their history. Crazy! I stopped by several of the Federalist style buildings in the Washington Square and Derby Street area, and will revisit others soon!

I planned to stop at a new coffee shop on Derby Street, but after discovering it closed, ended up at Jaho Coffee and Tea where I was grossly overcharged but not willing to cause an issue over it. I just won't go back there again. It was the second time I've had an unpleasant experience at Jaho, and with so many cafes in Salem, there's no reason for me to return.

It was a great day for an architectural field trip! More to come at a later date.

Cool cup, uncool place -- Jaho gets zero stars

Hawkes House, 1780

Silsbee House, 1818

Narbonne House, 1675

Great afternoon in Salem

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Coffeenering-ish Ride: The Great Wenham Canal


Wow. Another amazzzing day. I headed out for a trail ride in 70 degree temps, marveling at the incredible weather we've had. I know the downside is the negative effects of our warming planet, evident in the coastal erosion I witnessed last week in Salem, but it's hard not to enjoy the sunshiney days of a mild autumn. 

I headed to Danvers and the Wenham rail trail, taking a sidetrack route to ride along the Wenham Canal. There were dozens of cyclists, runners, and walkers out on the roads and on the trails, enjoying the spectacular weather. It felt like summer, looked like fall, while on the precipice of winter.

The Great Wenham Canal

I hadn't planned on coffeeneuring today, but midway through my ride I wanted that caffeine fix. I knew of only two places in the general vicinity that might work as a destination -- one being in Topsfield and one a little (a lot*) further in Boxford. -- (*a little on a road bike, *a lot on a mountain bike). 

Not having been to Topsfield in a while, I was sad to discover the Daybreak Cafe was gone and replaced with a new place called the Bagel Bin Deli. There were two tables of cyclists sitting outside, so I decided to stop and say hello and grab a coffee. Inside it was evident the pandemic has affected the business, with only three or four empty tables indoors and a shelving unit holding takeout orders. The menu ordering system was through a QR code. 

I ordered an iced coffee and sat outside, taking a small break before heading back down the trail. It was a glorious day to be outside! I'm not sure my coffee break falls under the spirit of coffeeneuring, so I'll only count it in my seven if I'm coming up short. Otherwise it will become my C+1.

Coffee break! Iced coffee on a hot day
Coffeeneuring Ride C+1

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Coffeeneuring Ride 4: Salem, Relaxed

We've been lucky with the temperatures this fall... sort of? The mild weather has been amazing in many respects, and today's ride through Beverly and Salem was a stellar one. The leaves are just past peak and those that didn't fall during last week's nor'easter are now drifting to the ground like snowflakes. So pretty.

Being the weekend after Halloween, Salem was still quite lively, but far less crowded and frenetic. I had a fun afternoon looping around the small streets by the wharf; stopping into Circle of Stitches where I splurged on some super soft yarn for the loom; and next over to Washington Street for coffee at Gulu Gulu Cafe -- a Creme Brûlée Latte and grilled banana bread. 

It's a day for splurges.

Coffee break outside Gulu Gulu Cafe.
It's a mirrored window.

Salem Town Hall

A stop by Derby Wharf and The Friendship

Monday, November 1, 2021

Coffeeneuring Ride 3: Coffee Shop Without Walls

After a week of solid rain, including a powerful nor'easter on Wednesday that wrecked the North Shore, it was so good to see the sun! Temps were fairly mild for this time of year, but with the wind whipping, I opted to ride the mountain bike rather than the road bike on an impromptu coffee ride to the beach. I sent Will a text asking, "You wanna join me on a ride?", and he was totally game. We packed a small backpack with a Hydroflask of sweetened chai tea, found some crackers in the pantry, and grabbed some jam. Perfect!

We took the trail for a great ride to Goldthwait Beach and found an empty picnic table for our coffee (tea) in the wild. The waves were fast and furious, remnant from this week's coastal storms. We had a nice time just chillin' in the sun. Good times!

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Coffeeneuring Ride 2: Make hay while the sun shines

Pumpkin spice latte and oatmeal cookie, Plus Café

Coffeeneuring rules stipulate a maximum of two rides per week -- and as my week began on Monday this year, today's ride fell during week one. Usually I only manage one coffee ride per week during the 7 week coffeeneuring stretch, but with bad weather hitting us for most of the coming week, I headed out today while the sun was shining.

I took the trail downtown and visited a new coffee shop, Plus Café, that opened in January, directly across from the popular Java Sun. It had a sweet patio and plenty of seating, and I loved the European vibe. The coffee was great, too! I will definitely revisit.  

One of four boats I watched haul out for the season

Heading home, I stayed on Atlantic Ave rather than return to the trail, and detoured over to the beach. The sky was brilliant blue and the harbor busy for October! With heavy storms arriving mid week, and the boating season largely over, it was a great day for folks to haul out boats. Busy, busy!

This is the best time of year.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Coffeeneuring 2021 C+1

Coffeeneuring Ride 1, Manchester-by-the-Sea

Coffeeneuring 2021 kicked off today and I'm here for it. 

Today I headed up to Manchester-by-the-Sea with the overly ambitious goal of riding to Gloucester, only to change my mind halfway. It was a beautiful day, and it was great to get out on my road bike for a change, but the wind made the ride a challenge without adding the hills of Gloucester. After rolling into Manchester, I stopped at Beach Street Cafe but they were closed, (open Wednesday)... so headed over to The Laughing Gull but they were closed too, (open Tuesday). Sigh.
Lol. There's always Dunkin'.

So Coffeeneuring Ride #1 was a medium iced coffee to go, a spider donut, and 20 miles. Nice day for it.

Dunks by default, spider donut for the win

The Grand Prize!
(I missed out on the patch in 2016)

Thursday, September 23, 2021


It's the middle of September and I'm still just going through the motions, in a fog of pandemic malaise, inching my way back to normal. Sometimes I feel like I'm almost there, but I still have another hill to climb. Several of my friends have already returned to pre-Covid activities; Amy and Jennifer are competing in Ironman Chattanooga this weekend, and Alison, Lila and Lisa are heading down to Tennessee with them. Me? I'm not quite ready for travel or large gatherings. I'm still keeping life simple. I'll be heading up to Vermont this weekend, and will probably ride solo at Ascutney Trails, and maybe hike the mountain with Mike

Wenham trail at Bradley Palmer State Park

I've been out riding the Kona on easy trails, (my knee still has me skittish on twisty, rooty trails). I've also been riding the rail trail through Marblehead, tooling around town, not venturing too far. I know it will take time to get my strength and fitness back. I just need to be patient.

I have a new weapon in my training arsenal -- with his BS in Kinesiology/Movement Science, and soon to be certified as a strength and conditioning coach, (and gratefully employed at Spectrum Fitness in Beverly), Will has become my in-house personal trainer. We talk about training plans and nutritional goals, and that's been fun. I'm even slowly getting back to running. 

I've yet to commit to any cycling (or running) events. Can Coffeeneurring 2021 count? LOL. Maybe not, but that's my jam these days. 

Friday, August 13, 2021

Best of Summer (So Far)


I finally have sunflowers in my cutting garden

Trail riding

Strawberry picking

Small batch strawberry jam and scones

Cocktail Saturdays

Hike to Cantilever Rock, Mt Mansfield

Wildflowers and monarchs
Stowe, Vermont

Perfectly pillowy cinnamon rolls,
King Arthur Baking Class

Rainy July, Easy riding

Beach finds