Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Summer Days Come to a Close

Had to break out a jacket today!

I'm always sad to see summer come to an end. Sunshine and warm days, gardening chores and fresh veggies, walks to the beach, and trail rides to town... this has been an easy, breezy summer.

Mini harvest after the summer drought

The drought that hit New England this summer, hitting especially hard in Eastern Massachusetts, was particularly hard on my vegetable haul this year. Garlic did great, and my potato haul was an improvement from last year, but the tomatoes and peppers, and pretty much everything else, were weak. I still have some fall veggies coming in, so we'll see if carrots and brussels come through.

I've been riding and getting in regular workouts during the week -- and my nutrition is on track -- so I'm finishing this non-event summer on a high note. I feel 100% better than I did last year, (and the year before), at this time. Hopefully I can ride this wave of momentum through the winter, and start participating in some events and races next Spring/Summer. That's the plan, anyway.

Mike and I are still C25K-ing. It's been slow and steady. Run dates are fun dates.

Coffeeneuring 2022 is coming up in a few weeks! Hahaha... gotta love these social challenges.

Coffeeneuring practice ride. Plus Cafe

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Hot, Hot, August

40 feet above the forest floor. Trail hike and
canopy walk with Will in Quechee, Vermont

The summer went crazy fast -- wow, September already?! I had a fitness goal this summer that I'm thisclose to reaching, which makes me happy. It feels good to be back on track after what has essentially been three summers of pandemic stress. For the most part, our daily lives have returned to normal, but a wave of Covid in our house in mid July (that befell our extended house guests, but not us), was a reminder that the virus has not got away. 

Garlic success! 

Summer 2022 will be remembered for the HEAT and DROUGHT. My gardens, which started off well in May, have been decimated by lack of rain. The garlic planted last November, harvested in July, was a great success. Tomatoes have been fair, and green beans prolific, but everything else... peas, cucumbers, zucchini, onions, peppers, brussels, broccoli... struggled this summer. There's still hope for the carrots and potatoes.

Mike and I are lacing up our running shoes once again and have resumed our weekly C25K run dates. I've gone back to wearing ASICS Gel Cumulus, which has a slightly wider toe box to accommodate my malformed foot than the Hoka Clifton. (My foot never really healed right after the fracture in 2020.) It feels good to be running again and I'm looking to add an event to the calendar, maybe a turkey trot or Halloween 5k. Ashley just posted a run in New Hampshire that might fit the bill.

The girls are moving along with their IM training with a little more than one month to go. I haven't spent a lot of time with them -- or on the bike recently -- but I'm heading out on the bike today. September is the best.

Farewell August

Monday, July 25, 2022

Hot Summer, Easy Days

Adams Pond, Bridgton, Maine
Summer is well underway and I’m ready to toss my training plans aside for lack of a true goal. There just isn't anything on the horizon right now that's of interest to me. Flow State Mountain Biking Festival and NEMBAfest are coming up over the next two weekends, but I'm skipping both this year. King Challenge is scheduled for October 15th, but it's less than a week before Alison, Jennifer, and Amy head out to California for IM Sacramento, so that's out as well. (It will be Alison's final Ironman, maybe.)
Views from Mt Ascutney
I’m taking a break from our Saturday rides for a few weeks, and will get back to it in the fall. Mike and I spent some time up in the lakes region of Maine last week, and then headed over to Vermont for a couple of days. We did a few hikes while we were away -- mostly easy to moderate trails -- it was hot up north! We cut our hike up Mt Ascutney short of the summit, with a plan to revisit on a cooler day. It's been a scorcher of a July!
But all in all, it's been an easy summer with family, friends, low key hikes and bike rides and time spent in the garden. (Zero training.) Maybe by September I'll feel more motivated to kick something into gear. For now, I'm just enjoying these dog days of summer.
Summer in Marblehead 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Happy Summer!

The summer is flying quickly as we careen towards July. Weekend rides with Alison, Lisa and Lila , (Alison training for IM Sacramento) have been fun! It’s been good to be back on the road bike after spending the last few years primarily mountain biking. I've missed the road! (I haven't missed the mechanicals, however, which I rarely encounter on the mountain bike.) A few weeks ago, my chain jumped over the cassette and jammed hard between the cassette and frame. Fortunately, we were finishing up our ride when it happened, less than a mile from the finish, and didn’t spoil the day. I dropped the bike off at Centraal Cycle in Beverly for repair -- one of the few remaining local bike shops. They dislodged the chain fairly quickly with a chain break tool, but kept the bike for spoke and derailleur repair. (Apparently the derailleur was “wicked bent”.) 
Sadly, that left me without the road bike for a week as the shop is short staffed, (like everyone else), and they just couldn't get to it. I had the bike back in time to take it out to the Berkshires for a training weekend retreat with some of the girls, (minus KHaff and Cate, who are in Croatia). Lila arranged a lake house getaway, with plans for us to ride, swim, kayak, and run — but the weather didn’t cooperate. On a cold, windy, overcast Saturday, several of us decided to forgo the bikes and went hiking instead; while Amy and Jennifer, with IM Mt Tremblant 70.3 coming up the following weekend, gutted out the elements and rode to Great Barrington. The rest of us enjoyed a short hike before meeting them in Great Barrington for lunch. It was a fun getaway despite our change in plans. 

The cottage is ready for summer
Gas prices have reached $5.20/gallon locally this summer, which has limited my trips to Vermont. I drove up last week to do some cleaning at the cottage to get it ready for the summer, but I’m not sure how often we’ll get up there this year. There are a few events coming up over at the mountain — Gnar Weasels and Flow State — that I may volunteer for, but I’m still not riding. It’s been a slow grind, but it's all good.

(Still no events on my calendar this summer — my focus just isn’t there. Maybe something will pop up for the Fall.)

Friday, June 3, 2022

Wow, June!

Quiet roads in Concord with the girls
May brought fewer days on the bike and more days in the garden. Friends are gearing up for summer events, (Jennifer and Amy are already underway with a swim event in Majorca), but I'm still dragging my feet a bit, (although on a good track for a return). I've settled on a good nutrition and workout routine that has shown slow progress but moving in the right direction, so I'm happy with that.

Lila is planning a weekend for all of us to get together in Western Massachusetts for some riding and running this month. I'm looking forward to that! Meanwhile, a few of us are low-key training with Alison as she preps for her Ironman in October. I'm not joining in on the Tuesday night swims, but I'm down for riding on Saturdays. It almost feels like a return to my Saturday morning breakfast rides with the Cyclopaths.

Running is on hold for a while, but hopefully by July/August I'll be back at it.

I installed a drip irrigation system in my raised bed garden this year, and have most of my vegetables planted for the summer, (still looking for tomatillos). In the garden this year: Tomatoes, cucumbers, bush zucchini, snap beans, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, spring peas, onions, garlic, carrots, caribou potatoes, russet potatoes, carola potatoes, celery, and several varieties of peppers. The herbs: basil, cilantro, mint, rosemary, thyme, dill, and sage. 

We'll have a healthy harvest this summer!

Excited for the summer!

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Thirty Days of Biking: And that's a wrap

Day 29: Home Sweet Home
After driving 8 hours from Ann Arbor, Chip and I got off the road in Rome, New York for food and a driving plan assessment. I was tired, (he slept for three hours), and I wasn't keen on driving through the night. We decided to book a hotel in Utica and hit the road in the morning.

From Utica, we had less than a five hour drive home. After checking out of our hotel, we stopped at a local bagel shop, filled the tank with gas ($4.30/gallon. Yikes.) and then hit the road -- arriving home at 12:30 pm. (Welcome home, Chip!) An hour later, I changed into something I could ride in, and headed out for Day 29.

I kept my ride local and stopped to check out a new cafĂ©/bar on Humphrey Street oddly named Zestfriendz. It was very quiet inside -- only one couple having lunch -- but maybe I was there at the wrong time. I hope they're doing a good business. I had an iced latte and oatmeal cookie and then headed down to the pier. Such a gorgeous sunny day -- it was good to be home.

Swampscott dory at Fisherman's Beach

Latte and cookie at Zestfriendz

Day 30: Happy Trails
And here we are... Day 30, 30 Days of Biking, Year 9, and I'm glad to be done. Gosh, I'm exhausted! The roadtrip to Ann Arbor (and back) really knocked me out this year. I've been so sore and tired I've been walking into walls.

On Saturday, another gorgeous day, I decided to check out Salem Woods (also called Highland Park) behind the golf course on Wilson Street. Apparently there is a new trail in Swampscott that hooks up with the woods, but I didn't come across it. The trial wasn't difficult for riding but there were several areas I had to walk -- just too tired to deal.

It was a perfect ending to this year's challenge. (Despite the tree pollen... ah-choo!) I was very fortunate to have had such good weather on my rides this year. We've had very little rain (and no snow) this Spring, which likely doesn't bode well for the environment. (Based on April's weather, we could see drought conditions this summer). Still, we had decent riding weather. No complaints.

And that's a wrap on this year's annual challenge -- now some sleep.

Highland Park, Salem Woods
Year Nine, Done

Friday, April 29, 2022

30 Days of Biking: Roadtrip Ann Arbor

Day 26: Sandusky, Ohio
Each year for the past five, Mike and I have taken turns getting the boys to/from the University of Michigan. Mike heads out at the start of each year and gets them set up, while I head out at the end of April to bring them (and their belonging home). Since it often coincides with 30 Days of Biking, I bring along the bikes and hope there's room for their stuff. Ha.

It's a looong drive from Massachusetts. I left at 5:30 a.m. and arrived in Westlake, Ohio too early to call it a day, so continued on to Sandusky, which promised a nice ride for Day 26 on the shores of Lake Erie. It didn't disappoint. I had a chance to bike several miles along the bay pathway and quiet streets of Sandusky, stretching my legs after a long day on the road. That area of Ohio is really beautiful, with conservation land and parks, gorgeous views of Lake Erie, and the bucolic scenery of pastoral farm land. I saw a gazillion egrets as well.

I felt reenergized after my ride and continued driving another hour and forty-five minutes to Ann Arbor. It was a good decision,

Sandusky Bay Bike Pathway

Lake Erie

Day 27 was a blast from the past with an adventure with Chip! We haven't ridden together in while and I had fun following him around on the mountain bikes. He's grown significantly since I bought him the GT mountain bike, and since the Kona is a larger bike, he rode mine and I rode his, (since that bike actually fits me better anyway.) We explored  a few small trails at Gallup Park (which connects to Nichols Arboretum), but kept our ride short. He still had packing to do, furniture to move into storage, a paper due the next day, and an exam in the morning. He had it all under control, but didn't have a whole lot of extra time to spare. I'm glad we got a chance to ride together.

Day 27: Exploring Ann Arbor parks with Chip

Pedal boats, pedal bikes

The next morning, while Chip took his biomechanics exam, I rode around central campus for Day 28, taking photos to send back to Will, and then biked down to the Kerrytown neighborhood for coffee at Zingerman's Bakehouse. (Zingerman's Deli didn't open until 11). I chilled out at the bakehouse with a latte and scone, and then returned to central campus and headed back to the hotel to change. Chip finished his exam at ten, and we hit the road after grabbing lunch at one of his regular haunts -- No Thai.

Goodbye Ann Arbor. Until next year... 

Day 28: Campus and coffee ride
Nichols Arcade

On the Diag
The bell tower. Will used to live next door and
heard it ring on the hour, every day
Central Campul, University of Michigan
Zingerman's Bakehouse Cafe
So many choices
Latte and lemon scone
The beautiful Kerrytown neighborhood, Ann Arbor

Monday, April 25, 2022

Thirty Days of Biking: Riding Local

Day 23: Errands in town. A stop at Arbor MHD
Saturday, April 23rd, was an errands day. I rode the trail into Marblehead to pick up some inner tubes for the road bike at Marblehead Cycle, met Will for lunch at Minos, and stopped at a garden shop where we found a fun little fish statue for my garden. Will drove and parked his car nearby, so brought my backpack of my purchases home. Yay.

Heading back down the trail, I stopped and took a photo of the 2 large construction/drainage tubes that have been on the side of the trail since (at least) 2014, now overgrown with vines. I smile every time I see them, remembering the time Caro V-G attempted to bike through them on her cross bike. So funny. Forever remembered as Caro's tunnel.

Caro's tunnel

Day 24: Sunrise coffee date
We had an early rise and shine on April 24. I googled "Salem sunrise" to get the time and convinced Mike to join me at the beach for a coffee ride. (He chose to walk down and meet me instead.) I biked down to the beach ahead of him to set up our coffee, missing the sunrise by ten minutes. We enjoyed our coffee by the beach and watched the sun rise and slip behind the clouds, becoming a mostly gray day. How lucky that we caught the sun! (I later checked my phone and saw that googling "Salem sunrise" actually brings up the time for Salem, Oregon. Seriously, Google? Salem, Massachusetts supersedes Oregon.) 

On Monday, I headed over the bridge for coffee at Atomic Cafe, with a stop by Artists Row in Salem on the way home. Sadly, most of the small artist shops are closed for the season, although I noted  that Beverly Bees is open Thursday-Sunday this Spring. I'll have to go back soon. I'm heading out of town for a few days, (for the annual trek to Ann Arbor, with bikes in tow), so it was good to get in a decent ride before the long drive. Next up: Roadtrip.

Day 25: Coffee Ride, mural in Beverly
Atomic Cafe, iced coffee and pizelle

Artists Row, Salem