Wednesday, January 22, 2020

January being January

Sunday snowshoe Nike
We’re only three weeks into January and the winter has just been dragging along. It’s been too warm for trail rides, (unless you ignore the damage it does to the trails, which I can’t do), but too cold for running. Sort of. Mike and I still have our weekly run dates and I try to squeeze in a run or two during the week, but haven’t really gotten back to my mileage from the summer. That’s ok, though.  It’s still only January. Still.

Last weekend we actually had snow(!); which has been oddly absent this year, so went snowshoeing in lieu of running. It was fun! We headed over to Lynn Woods, stuck to the main trails, and did not get lost. I’m calling it cross training.

Snowshoe date with my honey

Friday, January 3, 2020

Turning the page on 2019

Keep moving forward
Farewell to 2019. It was a good year but also heartbreaking too. I know many friends are eager to turn the page on the year. I’m only sad to see it end because quite honestly the years are speeding by too quickly and I just want life to slow down. I look at the boys, in a hurry to grow up — Will, turning 21 in a few weeks, (and reminding me he’ll be “legal” soon. Uh huh.) Chip, 18 and ready to fly the coop, awaiting his college decisions. I just want to stop the clock for a while and stay in this moment a little longer.

This year was definitely one of gratitude — especially of  Mike and the boys who I love to pieces, and of the genuine friendships I have. I rode a lot less this year, but I stepped up my running game to train for an event in Alaska that didn’t quite work out. That endeavor ended a friendship, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ no regrets there.

Aside from the drama, I had such an amazing adventure in Alaska amongst the mountains, glaciers and fjords — that little Jeep took me places! And it’s true I was afraid I’d run into a bear on the singletrack in Kincaid, or on my hike out in Hope, but that only added to the exhilaration. I can’t wait to go back!

My friends pick me up emotionally and literally — including Ingrid, out in Hawaii (who came to Boston for a few days before I left for Alaska); Team Horsefish, who call themselves bitches but they’re the best people I know; and Amy and Jennifer, who I found waiting for me at baggage claim, (with coffee), after 20 hours of travel from Anchorage — again, Best. People. I. Know.

Maybe I could have ridden more, or ran more — the back half of the year fell apart on me — but I’m o.k. with that.

Family, friendship, love and laughter. I’m grateful for all I have. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Merry Christmas!

O Christmas Tree, Marblehead style

Friday, December 20, 2019

Busy December

“Art” on the trail.
Since Amy and Jennifer both purchased new mountain bikes recently, they’ve been eager to ride before it gets too cold and the snow arrives. It’s been a busy time of year and I haven’t found time to get out on the trails as often as I’d like — and part of that is due to the early winter transitional period where we’ve had some snow but the local trails aren’t quite frozen enough to ride. A few days ago I got a text from the girls to see if I would meet them out on the rail trail for a quick spin. I had just enough time to meet them for a short out-and-back. Hopefully we’ll be able to ride more often after the holiday season ends.
Cold ride with Amy and Jennifer. Fun!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Running to the end (of 2019)



Hard to believe 2019 is coming to a close. I haven't spent a lot of time on the bike this year, compared to the last two decades, but that's only temporary. I fully intend to get back on the bike this winter and work on strength and conditioning. I haven't chosen any cycling events for 2020 yet, but I have a few in mind.

Mike and I have been chipping away at our C25K program, and I ran the Peabody Law Enforcement's Torch Run 5K for the Special Olympics last weekend with the girls. It was cold! I'm definitely a fair-weather runner.

More to come in 2020!

Last run for 2019

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Coffeeneuring 2019, Control Card


Between my posts on social media (Instagram) and those here on my blog, recording my Coffeeneuring Challenge rides by pen and printed control cards felt redundant. I downloaded the control card file but opted to summarize the basics here in one shot.

Ride Number: 1
Date: 10/16/19
Mileage (total): 8
Location Name: Java Sun Coffee Roasters
Address: Atlantic Ave, Marblehead, Massachusetts
Drink: Tea with almond milk, honey
Ride note: Out before the storm. A nor’easter is approaching.

Ride Number: 2
Date: 10/24/19
Mileage (total): 18
Location Name: Atomic Cafe Coffee Roasters
Address: Cabot Street, Beverly, Massachusetts
Drink: Iced Chai Latte, Italian sugar cookie
Ride note: Single-speed. Beautiful day. Dropped bike off at Centraal Cycle post-ride to get the gears fixed.

Ride Number: 3
Date: 10/26/19
Mileage (total): 11.5
Location Name: Lincoln’s Landing
Address: Humphrey Street, Swampscott, Massachusetts
Drink: Hot coffee with several refills, chicken salad wrap
Ride note: Ok.. I slipped on the floor, landed on my ass, and wiped out the table next to me. Quite a scene. I don’t think I can show my face in there for a while.

Ride Number: 4
Date: 11/2/19
Mileage (total): 9
Location Name: Periwinkles Food Shoppe
Address: Loring Ave, Salem, Massachusetts
Drink: Medium hot,  Large iced, with almond milk. And quiche
Ride notes: Salem ride, (trail and Forest River area.) Met my sister at Periwinkles for a coffee chat. I had one too many coffees. #caffeineoverload

Ride Number: 5
Date: 11/7/19
Mileage (total): 14
Location Name: Starbucks-to-go
Address: Pleasant St, Marblehead Massachusetts
Drink: Venti iced, with almond milk.
Ride notes: Too nice to stay inside, I took a coffee to go and headed to the harbor.

Ride Number: 6
Date: 11/15/19
Mileage (total): 16
Location Name: The Blue Canoe Cafe
Address: School Street, Marblehead, Massachusetts
Drink: Almond milk cafe latte with with CINNAMON
Ride notes: Another gorgeous day! Looped out to the beach and lighthouse, met Betty at The Blue Canoe for coffee.

Ride Number: 7
Date: 11/21/19
Mileage (total): 9 MTB Trails
Location Name: In the wild, on a park bench at Bradley Palmer State Park (Willowdale)
Address: Linebrook Rd, Ipswich, Massachusetts
Drink: Coffee with almond milk cream from a Hydro flask at a park bench.
Ride notes: MTB trails with Amy (new bike for her!) before the sun went down. Fun times!

Seven for seven, Coffeeneuring 2019 complete

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Coffeeneuring Ride 7, in the wild

Coffee in the wild. The hot coffee felt good on a cold day.
Coffeeneuring 2019 wrapped up today with Amy R. as we hit the trails at Willowdale State Forest for a late afternoon ride. Amy and Jennifer both picked up new mountain bikes last weekend and today was her second time out. Of course she’s a powerhouse on the trails, so I was happy to just keep up. (It is no secret I’ve let my fitness slide since July and I’m just now starting to get it back. Hills are still a grind for me. Are they ever not?)

Riding with Amy was really fun and I was grateful she knew the trails. I would have been lost for sure — and with the sun sinking fast, we didn’t have a whole lot of time to get lost. It was a fun ride!

An hour and a half later my (tubeless) rear tire completely flatted about 500 yards from the parking lot. (I’ve been needing to replace that tire for a while now, so wasn’t surprised it finally gave out.) We walked it back to the car, grabbed my backpack containing mugs and a hydro flask of hot coffee, and warmed up with a post-ride brew. A perfect ending to a great day.

Coffeeneuring 2019 is complete — I’m now 4 for 6 on this annual coffee ride challenge.

Into the woods we go!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Turkey Chase 5K

22 degrees is too cold for this
Post-run coffee and cool down-warm up
OMG it it took a lot of effort to head to Danvers at 7 a.m. for the Turkey Chase 5k in sub-freezing temps. It’s much too cold. While I should have been able to run the full 5K had I stuck to the original C25K training schedule I’m following,  I’m only now into week 5 (not 8) of my training plan. I’ve repeated a few weeks. It’s been a slow and steady rebuild since October.

The race went well — I followed my scheduled workout (8 min run, 5 min walk, repeat) for the first half+, and then ran with a friend of KHaff’s (Pam M.) for the second half. Pam was also doing run/walk intervals, 90/90, so that worked out well and I enjoyed her company.

Back at the finish, I met up with friends for some coffee and finish line festivities. Judy placed first in her age division and got a medal. Yay! Fun morning and I’m glad I got out of bed.

Irony is finding wild turkeys roaming near home after
 running the Turkey Chase 5K

Friday, November 15, 2019

Coffeeneuring Ride 6; The Blue Canoe Cafe

Almond milk cafe latte with a cinnamon explosion
The Blue Canoe, Marblehead
After a ridiculous week of cold winter weather, the temps finally crawled out of the twenties and thirties to end the week on a high note. I dug out my cold-weather gear and headed for a ride around Marblehead and met Betty at the Blue Canoe for coffee. We chatted forever, catching up on this month’s news ranging from the serious, (Will’s former football teammate committing suicide), to the mundane, (I need to fill in the holes in our foundation because we have mice). Somehow 90 minutes felt like 30 as the time slipped by.

George patiently waited while we had coffee
Spectacular day, Riverhead Beach
After our lengthy chat fest, I continued on my ride out to Devereux Beach and the lighthouse before heading home. (Roughly 16 miles total — I’m not riding far these days.) The weather was ahhhh-ma-zing and it’s surprising how warm 35 degrees feels once the twenties arrive.

Coffeeneuring Ride 6 is complete... just one to go,

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Coffee-To-Go, Coffeeneuring #5

Harbor view and Starbucks
Temps were in the 50s this afternoon for a loop around Marblehead Neck and Old Town. I originally planned to stop at The Blue Canoe on my Coffeeneuring ride today but, A). it was just too nice outside to stay inside a coffee shop and B). I left my cash at home when I swapped jackets. Fortunately there’s a great Starbucks in town, (with a local vibe), and I was able to run in for an iced coffee, using the Starbucks app on my phone!

With my Grande Iced snuggled nicely into the water bottle cage, I headed down to the Fort Beach area to enjoy coffee al fresco. It was low tide, the rocks were warm to sit on, and I could have stayed there for hours watching the seagulls dropping and eating mussels on the rocks ahead of me. I love the harbor in the fall. Such a perfect day!

Fort Beach, aka Flat Rock Beach, Marblehead Harbor
Crowninshield Island aka Brown’s Island, Little Harbor

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Coffeeneuring Ride 4, Periwinkles Food Shoppe

Hot or iced, I’ll take both today.
Coffeeneuring has kept me on the bike this fall, filling the void that I’ve somehow created for myself. I just haven’t been motivated to ride, and in truth that’s been going on for a while. I know I’ll shake it eventually, but meanwhile there is coffee to be had.

Today’s destination was a quickie spin over to Periwinkles Food Shoppe on the Swampscott-Salem line where I met my sister for coffee. I ended up getting both a hot coffee and an iced coffee since I needed the caffeine boost. Afterwards, I rode to Salem and through the Forest River Conservation area before wending over to take the rail trail home through Marblehead. I love having gravel tires on my road bike. It might make it a little slower on the roads but the ability to hop off-road means every ride has the potential for adventure.

The leaves are falling quickly now. It won’t be long before all the trees are bare. I’m not ready for winter.

Gravel tire for the win
Off-road adventuring

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Lincoln’s Landing for Coffeeneuring #3

Lincoln’s Landing.
Best breakfast and coffee and people in town.
Lincoln’s Landing, Swampscott, Massachusetts.
I picked up my bike from Centraal Cycle yesterday and went for a spin around town today, planning to meet Mike for coffee/lunch at Lincoln’s Landing. It was nice to have gears again — Centraal Cycle did a great job. (I’ll replace the chain in the Spring, again. Sigh.)

I arrived at Lincoln’s Landing before Mike, and walked inside to add my name to the wait list. I walked maybe five feet into the cozy little place when both cleated feet slipped right out from under me. I landed hard on my tail on the slick wooden floor, taking out the table to my right in the process. I mean, take out. A complete wipe-out. Coffee (or was it cocoa?), plates, mugs, cutlery, all went crashing to the floor.

Oh my god. I was so mortified. The women next to me were stunned. Every diner stared at me, asking if I was ok. Kids were wide-eyed horrified. What a mess. I couldn’t even stand up, my shoes kept slipping, until I had the sense to remove them. I apologized profusely. I’m sure my face was beet red. Everyone was really gracious, especially the two women whose table I’d destroyed and the lovely cafe staff who cleaned up the mess. I laughed at myself and begged everyone not to tell my husband what happened when he arrived. 

(Obviously, I paid for the women’s breakfast.)

Mike arrived and I pretended nothing happened, but he knew something was up, so I confessed. We had a nice coffee-lunch date despite my atrocity, and the coffee was really good. (It’s a fabulous place.)

I took my time heading home, stopping by Muskrat Pond on the way. The fall colors are still quite spectacular. It was a beautiful day for a ride — although I’m sure I will be quite sore later today. Ouch.


Oh! I love bittersweet! So pretty!
Muskrat Pond.
Home to ducks, opossums, foxes, and coyotes.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Coffeeneuring Ride 2, Atomic Cafe

Iced Chai and a cookie at Atomic Cafe, Beverly
Coffeeneuring ride #2 was a bit of an Errandoneur. I wanted to get my bike fixed before it became a nagging issue, but wasn’t sure where to take it in my quest to find a solid bike shop. I decided to head over the bridge to Centraal Cycle in Beverly to give them a shot.

Now, honestly, I’m not a difficult customer but I do get tired of being dismissed as a recreational cyclist. Granted, my rides these days are coffee rides and off-road adventure rides, but damn, I’ve paid my dues. In 30+ years of riding throughout the country and in Europe, from bikepacking, to endurance rides, to racing; from road to gravel to MTB, I’ve been at this for a while. It never fails, however, that when I bring my bike to a shop mechanic I’ll also get a dose of mansplaining along the way.

Yesterday, I learned that “a chain needs to be replaced because it stretches out over time”. I’m. Not. Kidding.

I was glad I took a quickie spin up to Beverly Farms and a detour over to Lynch Park to visit the gardens, before stopping at Atomic Cafe for an iced chai and a sugar cookie. The gorgeous weather and spicy, snuggly chai had me in a good mood when I brought the bike in to Centraal. I didn’t argue (much) when the mechanic insisted that my Wahoo trainer ”eats up my chain and cassette”. (I acknowledged the chain in this scenario, but not the cassette. The rear wheel (and attached cassette) sit idle in the corner when the bike is on the trainer. But whatev. I was feeling the chai.

Gardens at Lynch Park
Riley’s Rocks. A community remembrance for young
Riley Fessenden of Beverly
There’s still a lot of color left after last week’s nor’easter

Monday, October 21, 2019

King Challenge, 25 of 30

Roads like these
I had a late night on Friday, attending The Lion King on Broadway at the Boston Opera House with Mike and Chip, so getting up early Saturday morning to drive to New Hampshire was a challenge within a challenge. Still, I didn’t want to bail on the King Challenge Ride, (a charity ride for brain injury recovery), so I dragged myself out of bed at 6:30 to hit the road.

I chose to ride the 30 mile route, (60 is well beyond my endurance level at this point), and planned to ride alone. The only other riders I knew, Vanderkitten Jen M. and Suzanne D., were positioned up front with the lead pack while I settled in comfortably near the rear. It was a lovely ride on country roads, passing farms and orchards, stables and barns, sparkling streams and brilliant foliage. It’s truly a gorgeous ride.

Around mile 12-14 I lost my ability to change gears. Either one of my inner cables broke or my derailleur was damaged. I’m leaning towards the former. I tried to manually move the chain to an easier gear to help with the hilly terrain, with no luck — I was permanently stuck in high gear. After two miles of riding single-speed, I checked the gps map of the route and decided to cut my ride short by taking a right on Exeter Road at mile 15.5 instead of a left, essentially trimming five miles off my ride. That’s ok. I was happy with 25.

Back at the start and the post-ride after-party, I ran into Jen and chatted with her briefly, (Suzanne was out on the 60 mile route), but I felt a little awkward hanging around and decided to just head out. I grabbed a veggie burger, changed out of my cycling clothes, and left to find coffee.

It was a lovely day and a great ride for a great cause. I’m tired, though.

Foliage along the Exeter River

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Coffeeneuring 2019 Begins! Ride #1, Java Sun

Coffeeneuring 2109! Ride #1 to Java Sun
I’m not sure I’ll have the mental stamina to complete the Coffeeneuring Challenge this year, but I’ve at least given it a start. I’m trying to recharge my run game, and this week started Week 4 of the C25K run program with Kristen (and Mike). I’m not always successful managing two challenges simultaneously, so we’ll see how it goes.

Ride #1 was a six mile round trip trail ride to Java Sun Coffee Roasters on the Kona. The sun was out when I left, but apparently I lingered too long over my tea and clouds rolled in while I was warm and comfy inside. It was a chilly ride home, with a nor’easter expected to hit tonight.

Sunny start, cloudy finish.