hello, this is Joyce. Carrie is demanding me to write in her blog after a night of drinking and then attempting to look up directions for richmond battlefield cruise bike trail. Hopefully we'll make it there in the morning. RAGBRAI Training = drinking till 2 am then sleeping 6 hrs to then get up early and bike all day.
Happy Birthday Bike Ride to Me. . hope we survive!
Tonight on my way home from work, I was about halfway home and riding on the sidewalk, when I got something in my eye. It was so bad that I couldn't open my eye and had to swerve over into the grass, come to a stop, and un-clip from my pedals all with my eyes closed. I'm really lucky that I was where I was, that there was grass next to me and no other people walking or biking on that sidewalk. Once stopped, I blinked a bunch, rubbed my eye and let tears fall until I couldn't feel anything in it. This would be completely insignificant if not for memory it inspired...
On a Thursday evening in March, my freshman year of college, I was riding my trusty Pink Panther Panasonic down a steep hill in Gainesville to Cold Stone creamery. I was participating in a FAB (Florida Alternative Breaks-- spring break service projects) trip that was leaving 36 hours later. We were hosting a fundraiser at Cold Stone that night in preparation for the trip. Anyway, I was biking on the road sans helmet when some dirt and gravel sprayed up from a car and got in my eye. I pulled over and rubbed it out and felt completely fine. About 5 hours later, though, right before bed, my eye went bat shit crazy, spasming and watering with no end. I went to bed hoping it would water itself out overnight. I kept waking up in the middle of the night feeling swollen. I thought that my brain was swelling up and bumping into my eye. I'm kind of a hypochondreac and it was actually the skin around my eye swelling up. Hypochondreac or not, something was not right. I went to the infirmary to learn that I had conjuctivitis. For those who haven't had this, it is NOT fun. You feel like you have something in your eye constantly, your eyes water, and you look like a cyclops. I had to rub globs of clear neosporin-like goo in my eye twice a day, something I was not at all comfortable with. After the initial two days, conjuctivitis wasn't that bad. It just came at the worst possible time. I was with all these people, practically strangers, self conscious about what a freak I looked like. Looking back, though, it is an amusing memory. Despite the annoyance of getting some mystery dust in my eye tonight, it is nice to reminisce about my FAB days on the pink panther and the conjuctivitis I endured during these days.
I failed at my challenge. I did not play tennis or go running in the past seven days. I did, however, go for 6 bike rides, play a hot and hard game of soccer, and play frisbee. I am satisfied with that.
On Saturday morning, I took the best of these five bike rides. I rode downtown to Freedom Plaza with Ingrid and Brendon to volunteer for DC's first annual 5k Pancreatic Cancer Walk. I became involved in this through my friend Kathy, one of Ingrid's best friends. Her dad, Daniel Rocha, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the spring of 2009 and passed away this past April. The walk was a huge success, there was a great turnout. This event was interesting in comparison to other, more popular, cancer events such as the Susan G. Komen race for the cure. Fewer people have suffered from Pancreatic Cancer than breast cancer but the ones that have have been less likely to survive. The survival rate of pancreatic cancer is right around 5%. While people rally around breast cancer and other, more common, diseases because nearly everyone knows at least someone who has been affected by it, it was apparent that most of the people at Freedom Plaza Saturday morning were there because they had lost a loved one to pancreatic cancer. Not to say that either diagnosis is any easier to cope with, I have no place to say such a thing, nor do I think it. I am simply commenting on how this group seemed to be more close-knit based on the sense of loss that nearly everyone there shared. I am also suggesting that, despite it's being less common, pancreatic cancer awareness needs to be raised because it is so incredibly hard to beat and, therefore, needs to be better researched and funded. Bringing this walk to DC was a step in the right direction!
That aside, it was just really nice to be on a bike at 6:30 am before the sun, and most human beings, had fully risen. It was so cool out. We had a pretty brutal ride because some of us (MYSELF NOT INCLUDED!) were in bed until ten minutes before we were supposed to leave and we left about 30 minutes before we were supposed to be downtown... for a ride that usually takes closer to 50 minutes. We were unprepared and were pumping tires and adjusting handlebars up to the minute we left. Brendon rode Josh's bike which was about 4 inches too short, which led the seat to drop back and nearly fall off halfway through the ride. Ingrid and I were pushing it like never before only to turn around every few minutes to find that Brendon was nowhere in sight. Ingrid and Brendon traded bikes along the way, I'm not sure what this solved but gave us an excuse to rightly yell at Brendon for being too slow. Despite the complications, we made it to Georgetown in record time. While cruising along Constitution Ave's many potholes, my bike water bottle from Gainesville flew out of Ingrid's water bottle holder onto the street and cracked in several pieces. This could have been way worse, we're lucky that no cars hit it.. or us. We ended up being only 5 minutes late and still had plenty of time to get all the set up done we needed to.
On the return trip, Brendon opted for the metro and Ingrid and I had a quick uphill ride home. We ran into two friends riding the opposite direction on the trail, one of whom, Ben, is joining on Ragbrai! Good old Ragbrai, only four and a half weeks away!
For those who don't know, I played a lot of soccer growing up. I didn't just play soccer but soccer was my life. From first to twelfth grade. When I got to college, I tried out for the club team at first but decided that I wanted to put my serious, committed soccer days behind me. I wanted to have the opportunity to do other things and not have it be my identity. I played intramural soccer for fun all four years and continue to brag about how my awesome team won four of seven championships. We were good and we definitely cared about winning but we always played for fun. And, it turned out, I looked forward to some of these games more and had more good fun playing in them than I did in some of the high-stress, high-stakes games in high school. Last fall and spring I played in some games with Ingrid's company soccer team. We were never outstanding but it was always fun to play. This spring we played on the mall so we would bike down there, play, and bike back and think we were so hardcore for doing it. The point of all this is that today, I played in my first full field, 11 v. 11, 80 minute soccer game since high school. It felt so much more real and committed. The experience of it taught me a lot about myself.
I have been talking to Ingrid about playing for this team, on which I know nobody but her, for a few weeks but have been on the fence throughout. For one thing, I was scared to play with so many new people. When I play with new people, I tend to be very nervous and un-confident and when I lack confidence I tend to play down. I was also scared of being out of shape. I was scared of the commitment, of paying the $70 then feeling obligated to play when there may be something else I'd rather do. I was worried about getting into a situation where soccer becomes more scary and stressful than fun. I was scared of saying no to Ingrid because I knew how badly she wanted me to play with her. I can be a pushover because I like to please people as much as possible and was using this as an excuse when I think I should have been taking more of the blame for my fear and lack of confidence and not accusing her of pressuring me to do this. This morning, I had my calendar down off the wall marking off how many games I could play in and reasoning whether or not my money would be well spent. It wasn't until an hour and a half before the game when Ingrid told me she was biking to it that I came down off the fence. It made me think about the spring games we would bike to that were always so much fun. These games may be 20 minutes longer but they are 7 miles closer and the bike ride is a third shorter than my ride to work. I realized I needed to get over myself and do this because I knew going into it that I would likely be glad I had done it once it was over. Of course, I was right. It felt so good to play real, full soccer again. I was challenged by these people, who weren't afraid to yell and coach. But I was also complimented by many of them after the game. And I really value these compliments from good players, male and female, that I knew were good critics who weren't just trying to be nice. It was a good feeling and Ingrid and I were both happy.
At the end of the day, I want to make people happy and I can't help that. I may feel like I'm being pushed around sometimes but I need to realize that when this pushing comes from the people that care about me most, like Ingrid, it is because she may know me better than I know myself and know that I need to get over myself and do something that will be good for me in the end, no matter how scared I am. However, I also need to grow the balls to stand up for myself and be honest when I am feeling pressured into something. I need to learn to make decisions better and earlier instead of waiting until the last minute and potentially letting people down. And now that I'm on this team, I need to just let it be fun and embrace this part of my past in a more scary, challenging way than I have the past four years. As I get more and more excited about Ragbrai, I am focusing so much of my energy on biking that I have barely run or played tennis in months, two things that I used to do often. I am realizing that, while I love biking and am beginning to actually see myself as a biker (yes, I now have actual clip in shoes!), I don't want to lose touch with all the other fun ways that I used to get exercise. So I am challenging myself to play soccer, run, bike, and play tennis at least once in the next week. I know this is supposed to be my blog about biking, but it is nice to write about life in general and I will certainly share my experiences in rekindling these activities.
Today, instead of biking home after work, I went to Cleveland Park to go to Vace's Italian market with Nikki and then happy hour with Inna. We went to Ireland's 4 p's then walked back to Van Ness. I parted ways with Inna and began my normal ride home from Van Ness just after 7. This is two hours later than I normally bike home. I very quickly noticed the difference in traffic. It is crazy what a difference two hours can make. The main roads were much less busy and daunting to cross. I was rarely passed by a car on the neighborhood roads. Call me crazy, but I even felt like I was breathing cleaner air, noticing the smell of exhaust far less than I usually do on that ride. The most noticeable difference in traffic flow was in Tenleytown right by Wilson HS. At 5 or 5:30, this area is chaos, with kids leaving school and after school activities. It is very crowded with buses and shuttles that carry AU students around the area. Tonight at 7:15 pm, these roads were so peaceful and pleasant to ride.
What I find most interesting about this is how different it is from rush hour on the metro. Of course, rush hour officially ends on the metro at 7pm but the difference in traffic patterns isn't half as noticeable on the trains as on the streets. This is something I likely wouldn't have noticed if not for the several "after rush hour" occasions on which I have brought my bike on the metro. This has been challenging as late as 9 pm, when I'd have expected the trains to have cleared way more than they had.
Bringing my bike on the metro is not easy when there are so many people on the trains. But neither is biking to work when there are so many cars on the roads. I have a vision of what this city would be like if all the drivers in those cars were on bikes. Packs of bikers just like Ragbrai. It seems a bit ridiculous but I like to think that it might actually be more efficient overall. It would be more peaceful and pleasant, that's for sure.
June 4 is my dad's and my best friend's birthday! It is always kind of a conflict of interests but is always one of the most special days. I would like to send wonderful birthday wishes their way. For Ingrid's birthday she is getting a hand-me down Schwinn Le Tour (one of the afore-mentioned bikes that is too big for me). It is blue and will soon be rocking yellow seat and handlebar tape to suit her sexy Swedish self. My Dad is getting two books about which I won't get specific in case he reads this. I also got him this awesome copper measuring pot from Eastern Market on Sunday only to walk in his kitchen Monday evening to see the same EXACT one hanging above the stove. He recently inherited it from his mother so now I get to inherit this one that would have been his.
Festivities are planned, the details of which I will tell later!
It's about time I write about the wonders of Ragbrai. As the name implies, Ragbrai is a great, seven day ride across the state of Iowa. It is, in every sense, a "party on wheels". Every year, on the second to last or last Sunday in July, the party begins at the crack of dawn in a city on the West side of Iowa. Actually, the party begins Friday night when people begin camping in preparation for the ride. The tradition is to dip the back wheel of your bike in the Missouri River at the start of the ride and to dip the front one in the Mississippi at the end. The days can be anywhere between 50 and 80 miles long and the entire week usually comes to about 450 miles. There are a few stopover towns along each day's route where ample amounts of food and beer are served. The overnight towns are equipped with ample tent space, food vendors, live music, and beer gardens. The route changes every year so that different towns get the privilage of hosting the ten thousand riders for a night. To put it simply, this is an exciting but simple week of strenuous outdoor activity, outrageously rigged cycling contraptions, shocking outfits, rolling hills, cornfields, and fun times with really friendly, laid back mid-westerners.
I became privy to this great ride a few years ago when my mom and her brothers decided to revisit their youth by participating in Ragbrai again. They grew up in Iowa and rode in the first few rides in the seventies. In July of 2007, we all rode the last four days of Ragbrai to test the waters. By "we all" I mean me and 6 or 8 adults over the age of 45. We had a great time and were excited at the prospect of returning. My parents and aunt and uncle have been back the last two years but I have been busy and waiting for a friend my age to join me and make the week all the more exciting. For this summer, it wasn't looking like I could recruit anyone.
Luckily, I can always count on Joyce. She is my best friend from college and, simply put, wifey. We were random roommates freshman year and were quickly married. If there is anyone I can spend seven days in a tent with without wanting to kill, it's her. We are different in a lot of ways but we compliment each other well and we always have fun. We have done a good amount of biking together and words can't even express how excited I am to be doing this with her!! She has been living in Newport News, VA since January so I have had the privelage of seeing her often but she is moving to Boulder, CO in August so we will consider this our last hoorah for a while. What better way to hoorah than with strenuous outdoor activity, outrageously rigged cycling contraptions, shocking outfits, rolling hills, cornfields, and fun times with friendly, laid back mid-westerners?