Cycling for Dummies (that would be me)

I have finally stopped cycling once every three or four months and started riding a couple times a week. Not seriously, just about 30 minute at a time. When I rode completely randomly I’d ride way too far and then want to die or at least not walk for a few days when I was done. I’m being a bit more reasonable now.

But here’s the thing. I can’t find ANYTHING about how I’m supposed to be doing this. I don’t know how I’m supposed to sit, what to do with the gears, or why so many people have those bikes were they lean forward against the handlebars. Not a clue.

Go Google running and you will find 400,000 plans to follow depending on your goals. You’ll find you should relax your shoulders, not cross your arms in front of your body, and hold your hands relaxed like you’re holding raw eggs. Google barefoot running and you’ll find you should NOT heal strike; you SHOULD run tall and look where you are going (not down) and all kinds of other interesting tips.

Now Google cycling. You can find how to choose a bike. Who cares? I already have a super groovy radio flyer looking bike my mom got me at Walmart for my birthday a few years ago. You can find how to change a tire. OK, that’s good stuff. I watched the videos and poured through the articles a few times. But that’s about it. Is there no particular form you are supposed to strive for when cycling? No tips and tricks, no way to hold your arms, no warnings to relax your shoulders or anything else. Is it really that easy? Just get on your bike and ride?

Somehow I think not. Maybe you have to be in a secret circle to learn this stuff. So my current goal is to figure it out. What DO you do with those gear things? One way and it’s too easy to spin the pedals, the other way it’s too hard, sounds like a losing proposition to me.

But I WILL find out. Stupid secret circles.


Eyes in the Dark

Saturday my sister called to let me know she had rented a camping spot at the lake about 5 minutes up the road and wanted to know if we wanted to go with her. Mind you she didn’t want to SLEEP there, just hang out until we were ready to go home and sleep in our warm beds.

A five minute drive and I get clothes that smell like a camp fire AND s’mores? I’m in!

After s’mores we got bored of course (no food?) and decided to drive over to the very long more-grass-where-there-used-to-be-a-lake-than-lake pier. A fun trick we’ve found since living in Florida is that if you shine a light at an alligator you will see the red reflect off its eyes, it’s an easy way to find them in the dark.

We saw one and were properly awestruck (Arizona-ans never seem to get over Florida stuff). Then it decided to check out the light being shone on it and swam right up to the pier. Very cool! Except that my mom was quite convinced that alligators could jump and tried to convince us it would jump 20 feet straight up to get us on the pier. Sometimes I think she’s crazy gullible, sometimes I think she gets us with more jokes than we will ever know.

Anyway, on the way back we saw more eyes and my dad turned the truck to watch what turned out to be a rabbit in the woods. After being silly amused at watching a rabbit for a while we turned away and saw a bobcat that was also watching the rabbit. I don’t care what state you are from, that’s dang cool. It was looking at us over a little log for a minute or two, probably thinking of how he could repay us for scaring away the rabbit.

Why is it that when I bring my camera I see pretty flowers and when I don’t I see everything else?


Seems I Needed a Schedule

I can't believe I haven't posted in two weeks. Not because I am so consistent in writing here, but because I usually write when I run and stop writing when I stop running. Which I’ve actually been doing consistently!

I have been running ever since I decided to go barefoot, just kind of leaving the house and running till I didn’t feel like it anymore. That was getting me a bit further than a mile, but not much.

I was still more in the reading about running mood than an actually running mood, so I picked up another book, this time Running for Mortals, co written by The Penguin himself. I loved his articles in Running World!

The book is greatly motivating (as expected) and it has the biggest variety of running plans you can imagine. For 5 and 10K it has a walk, a walk/run plan, a run/walk plan, a run plan, and a kick butt run plan. I decided to swallow my shouldn’t-be-existing-anyways pride and start with a walk/run plan. To make myself feel a bit better about it I’m doing the 10K plan instead of the 5K plan. I started on the 12th, and actually haven’t missed a day yet! That’s somewhat miraculous for me.

I squished and modified the first few weeks into two, and will be starting week 5 next Sunday. No further modifications though, I want to be sure not to overdo it and not to hurt myself. I keep reading that a relatively lot of people get stress fractures in their feet barefoot running and though I don’t know exactly what that is I DO know exactly that I don’t want to find out personally.

There are a few things that are making this work and helping me stay consistent when I usually wouldn’t.

• Running barefoot is new to me and just fun
• All but one night of my no-run nights I bicycle
• I’ve never ridden steadily so it’s double the fun and double the I’m actually getting better at something
• It’s written down on a paper calendar, so I get to cross each day off. I love to cross things off a list!
• The running days go back and forth between harder and easier days, so I’m not ALWAYS trying to do better than the day before, some days are just easy-breezy
• The plan calls for running 4 days a week starting this week, which I’ve never done before!

Long story short, I’m easy to amuse and always have been. But also, it’s nice to have a running plan to follow. I haven’t done that since starting running with the Couch to 5K program.

This is a (squished) 10 week plan, I’m hoping I can last the whole thing, and then move on to something a lot more running and a lot less walking. Every time I look at the plan my mind wants to start cutting out weeks, but I am going to try and follow it pretty close so I don’t end up hurting something.

Did I say I was going to keep that short?


Good Samaritans

I hate to admit it, but I am not generally a people person. People are just so mean and rude; it makes me crazy and a bit ashamed to be one of us sometimes. But as great as I can be (being human and all) at having a negative attitude someone always has to come around and change it.

Tonight I was heading out to the dentist’s at the last minute, of course. I have to drive quite a ways down a narrow, one lane in each direction road to get there and not far down it there was a car parked funny almost in the trees off the side of the road and a guy standing in the road, waving his arms.

My bad karma thought process… car jackers? An accident? Why are they making us stop when I have somewhere to be in 20 minutes and I see someone with a cell phone?

As it turned out there was an electric wire down, right across the road from windshield height to the ground as it crossed, completely blocking the road and strategically placed to cause a horrible accident. These people had seen it about a minute before we came up the road and stopped what they were doing to direct traffic in both directions around the wire. We could only pass on one side of the road so the 2 directions had to take turns to get by.

I find it amazing that there were about 10 strangers there working together to make sure everyone else was safe. After all, they too were driving somewhere and they could have just driven around it and went on.

I don’t know if I am just easy to impress or not, but it seemed like a really big deal to me.

I see people go out of their way for others fairly often here, though usually it’s for animals. There’s a lot of opportunity for that in Florida! I’ve seen a semi pulled over while the rough and tough looking driver carried a big turtle to the side of the road, people stop for ducks, deer too close to the edge of the road, even a big alligator once.

My favorite was a red corvette that whipped past me on that same narrow road. He was in such a hurry I jumped when he went by because he wasn’t even in my rear view mirror a minute before. Then I came around a corner and he was just stopped. Why? We waited about 5 minutes while a couple of sand cranes walked slowly across the road.

I saw these cranes at the lake, not crossing the road (insert joke here) but still. Kind of makes you all warm and fuzzy doesn’t it?



I've found two very strange things about this barefoot running bug I seem to have picked up. More than two if I really wanted to get into it.

The first is that a person really can have muscles they never knew existed. I could feel the muscles on TOP of my feet after my first couple of runs. Seriously, what do muscles up there even do? After walking barefoot on the trails for almost an hour Saturday and then running a mile on the blacktop Sunday my entire feet and legs up to about 3 inches above my ankles felt like your arms should after a good workout. Not aching, but certainly there. It was pretty funny actually because the rest of me didn't feel a thing. I can't say I ever experienced that before.

The other really strange phenomenon I've found is 'phantom pebbles' or sticks, whatever the case may be. It happens every single run, trail or street. I feel something stuck to my foot and when I go to brush it away there's nothing there. But I still feel it when I start running again. Makes me feel a wee bit neurotic to tell the truth.

I ran a mile and a half tonight, which is a quarter mile longer than my last run so I’m pretty happy with it.

I did brush the same non-existing stick off my foot like three times. My goal for my next run is to only stop and brush off things that aren’t actually there once per item. Neurotic much?