Trek Women
October 31, 2007

Hunt for a hunk...

Online_dating_mouse This single’s stuff has homework. I’ve been trying to do one thing a week in my ongoing hunt for a hunk. Hunk, meaning a nice, funny guy who’s happy with what he does in life, bonus points if he likes riding too. Some days, the only way I think I'll find him is if I happen to fall on him on the bike path. I haven't counted that method out yet; but, I'd prefer something a little less painful.

To get back to my original point, I checked out some Internet dating sites this past weekend. Who hasn’t heard stories of the friend of a friend’s cousin’s roommate’s sister who met her soul mate online and now they'll be together forever (they’re registered at Pottery Barn).

Completing your dating profile is like writing the next great American novel. Between taking "personality" "perfect match" quizzes and answering a million essay questions about who you're looking for, I wasn’t even sure who I was by the end. Here’s a sample… Thunderstorms: turn on or turn off? Tattoos: turn on or turn off? Skinny dipping: turn on or turn off? How about, skinny dipping: turn around and get the heck out of here if you think I’m stripping down to my birthday suit in public. Jeez. This is supposed to be fun, right?

P.S. It was pretty incredible on Sunday’s ride when we met up with the other DC cycling club. The whirring noise from our 100+ bikes sounded like a swarm of happy grasshoppers. I was too busy pushing to keep pace with the group to see if any of the guys were worth falling on -- just kidding :) I kept up just fine.

October 29, 2007

Not scary after all...

Group_ride There’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a while; but I’ve been too chicken -– a group ride with a local DC bike club. Club riding is serious business in this town and most clubs describe their rides as moderate to fast on their websites. I’ve been afraid to try for fear that I would be too slow and get dropped (left behind). Would I be able to hang? How fast is moderate to fast? Would I end up in a ditch by the side of the road gasping for my last breath?

Yesterday, I decided to face my fear and do it. If I got dropped, well, at least I’d know and could work on it. I picked the Capitol Hill-based bike club, Route 1 Velo, for my inaugural experience, primarily because the ride started four blocks from my house. About 15 cyclists showed up for the 9 am start -– a smaller group than usual I was told because of the Marine Corps Marathon that took over the city. Three of us were newbies to the club and everyone seemed very friendly.

We set off and by the time we hit Georgetown, about 5 miles in, the pace seriously picked up.  The group started breaking down into fast, faster and fastest. I figured so far, so good (I wasn’t in a ditch); why not see if I could stay with the three at the front of the pack. The fastest of all was Laurel, the ride leader -– a woman and a fierce cyclist!!! I pedaled with the “faster” riders on the climbs; but managed to catch up on the downhills and hold my own on the flats.

About halfway through the route, we briefly joined up with another DC club. Imagine over 100 cyclists whizzing through your neighborhood. Every once in a while, I would glance down at my bike computer; we were steady at 22-25 mph. Daaaaang! I’ve never ridden so fast for so long, EVER. It was an awesome two-hour thrill ride and I’m looking forward to biking with the club again soon.

In honor of Halloween, my fear factor list:

  • Movies about demented clowns = scary.
  • A milipede critter bug scampering in my bathtub = scary.
  • Opening a Tupperware that’s been sitting in my fridge for a month (chili?) = scary.
  • Group rides = not scary after all.
October 26, 2007

Achooo...

Uncao_kitty I got the flu. I hate being sick. Yesterday, I made it to the office then turned around and went back home to bed. The worst part, I didn’t even get the bug that takes away your appetite. I’m dizzy, achy, cranky and hungry. Not fair. Good news is (1) spent some quality time snoozing with our cat, Uncao, see photo; (2) I’m caught up on back episodes of 30 Rock; and (3) had enough lite whole wheat bread and fat-free American slices to make a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch.

Today, I’m back at my desk, trying not to exhale germ bombs on everybody. That’s how it goes when your sick leave and vacation hours come out of the same pot. I can’t spare an hour with all the travels I’ve got coming up. Hopefully, I’ll feel up to riding this weekend –- don’t want to miss out if the weather’s nice. I’ll just take it easy.  And if not, cat naps and comfort food sounds pretty good too.

October 25, 2007

Tried and true...

One of the things that I find so intriguing about my fellow Trek chick, Steph, is that she understands bike tech-y stuff. She knows how to true a wheel, fix flats in her sleep, use a pedal wrench. My bag of fix-it tricks features putting air in my tires and raising my seat.

Trek_rider2_024Now that I have my gorgeous Trek WSD road bike, I really want to be more mechanically minded and learn how to properly care for her. I e-mailed my friend, Jamie “JD” Dalecki, the Sports and Fitness Director at the Marine Barracks Washington at 8th & I who maintains about 30 bikes for the troops to use with a plea for help, “Teach me what ‘truing’ means!” He said come on over and bring your bike.

I rode the few blocks from my house to the Barracks Annex building, also home to the U.S. Marine Band, for my lesson. When you’ve got a wobble in your wheel -- your wheel rim is rubbing the brake pads -- it’s probably time for a true. My Trek was good so JD showed me how it works on one of the Marine bikes by alternately tightening and loosening spokes with a spoke wrench to adjust the tension.

You’ve almost got to become one with the wheel to feel the balance, sense the yin and the yang of the spokes to the whole, and find the patience to go slowly. I totally understand why Steph says she gets a Zen feeling from it. Here’s what I discovered, the Tao of Truing may be a little too advanced for me and it probably isn’t an easy task for a rider starting out. However, if you’re really interested in the steps, I found this how-to article from Bicycling magazine. My advice, go to your local shop or take a class first. That's my plan for now anyway while I get up to speed and unearth my inner tech.

Stay tuned… JD gives me the down and dirty on chain cleaning.

October 22, 2007

Cleaning my closet...

009_9For some reason on Saturday, I was up at the crack of dawn and chocked full of energy. The sun was streaming in my bedroom window and I wanted to get outside and ride. So that’s what I did for about 3 hours, at times going for speed then slowing my pace to simply take in the spectacular fall foliage. I enjoyed every minute of it.

On Sunday morning, I woke up, saw the sun streaming in and realized my bedroom was a disaster. It was time for a big clean. So, after taking a step class at the gym and meeting up with friends for coffee at our local Starbucks, I stopped procrastinating and got to scrubbing –- starting with my closet. I pulled everything out, looked at it, and then placed it in either a keep, donate or dump pile.

I thought about thoughts and that maybe I needed to do some mental cleaning too. I’ll catch myself thinking negative stuff (like you’re fat, no one will ever love you, you’re not smart enough, you’re boring. Blah, blah, blah). Why oh why do I still mentally beat myself up when I know it’s not true. I feel the best that I’ve ever felt in my life. So from now on, these bad thoughts will immediately go in the dump pile and I’ll only keep the good ones. My closet looks pretty fabulous now and my mind is a thing of beauty.

P.S. Please be kind to yourself, recognize and believe all the good things about you.

P.P.S. I really did paint my bedroom coral -- that's my clean closet thru the french doors on the left.

October 19, 2007

Goldilocks in dating hell...

Man_roses First off, I owe you all an apology for so blithely exclaiming in an earlier blog that I will now paraphrase -– hey everybody, I am now “putting myself out there” and of course eligible bachelors will flock to me like blue hairs to an early bird special… like seagulls to a boardwalk french fry… like ants to a disco picnic*…

Proclaiming that I’m in the dating market is not the same thing as actually getting dates. There has been no flocking, no flirting, no nothing. So, I decided to take action by signing up for “An Evening of Four Minute Dating for Travel Lovers.” Perfect, right –- already a shared interest.

I felt like Goldilocks in dating hell. A couple were too old, some way too young, a few were dripping with crazy, and one was afraid to fly. I never knew four minutes could last so long. In truth, there were guys there that I thought, hmmm, maybe. But alas, no date connections were made that night. It was good practice though and I give myself points for doing it.

Some day, I believe it, this Goldilocks will find her just right.

*I don’t know what a disco picnic is, but it sounded funny to me. Also, no offense if you have blue hair and like early bird specials.

October 18, 2007

What you eat in Europe, stays in Europe…

Pylsur1 Russ and I have this pact -– as soon as the airplane leaves the ground for another country, we can eat whatever we want guilt-free. That doesn’t mean we stuff our pockets with peanut M&Ms and commence a non-stop pig-out during the “your seat can be used as a flotation device” spiel. Nope, what it means is that we acknowledge the consequences of our actions up front and accept that we may have to wear our fat pants for a few days.

Now, when we were in Iceland, we ate a lot of hot dogs –- a twice-a-day amount of them. (A) they’re tasty; (B) they’re the cheapest grub in town; and (C) they’re even tastier at 1 a.m. I travel to experience new cultures and cuisines, not spend my time hunting down fat-free yogurt and baby carrots. If I want an afternoon gelato in Florence or a chocolate-covered waffle in Belgium, I savor it.  It’s not processed junk and we walk everywhere to help balance things out. But, when the wheels touch down in the old US of A, we go right back to our usual healthy eating and exercise habits. Pronto. Then we put away the fat pants until the next trip.

The pact works. Though one time Russ was on a road trip and called me from a Golden Corral Restaurant to ask if West Virginia was considered another country. I told him the last time I checked it hadn’t ceded from the Union and to back away from the buffet.

October 16, 2007

So worth some frost bite...

Trek_bc_aware_ride_1_2It was about 6:00 am on Saturday as I was getting set to head up I-95 to Levittown, PA for the Trek WSD Breast Cancer Awareness Ride hosted by Bucks County Bicycle Company when I realized that I had left my bike rack at Russ’ house. For a second, I toyed with slipping back under the covers and calling it a day. But for me, this was more than a ride for a great cause; I was doing it in honor of my Aunt Beth, a breast cancer survivor and cyclist too.

Plan B – open the lid on my wee convertible and maneuver my bike into the passenger seat. I layered up in fleece, cranked the heat and hit the road for the 3-hour drive north. It was teeth-chatteringly cold; Trek_bc_aware_ridebut this was important and worth some frost bite.

I met up with my fellow Trek chick, Jen, and her lovely friends, Carla and Suzanne, at the bike shop. Scott, the owner, is awesome. He opened his store 18 months ago and it’s this friendly, lounge-y hang out for folks who love biking. And he’s only 26! You must stop by if you’re in the Philly area.

It was the perfect Fall day for a ride and extra-special to do it with others who have been touched by cancer. As I rode, I thought of my Aunt and the month I spent with her while she was receiving chemo. Aunt_beth_on_bike1aToday, she’s a survivor and did two 25-mile rides of her own this summer. She puts about 60 miles a week on her leisure bike and is thinking about changing to a lighter, faster hybrid.

I’m so proud that I was one of the thousands of cyclists nationwide who participated in a Trek Ride this weekend. By supporting research, we can find a cure for this devastating disease in our lifetime.

P.S. 100% of the ride registration fees are being donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.   

October 14, 2007

The numbers add up...

Laura_in_germany When people find out that I've lost over 100 pounds, they usually say something like "oh, you must be so proud." And, though I absolutely 100% appreciate the compliment, internally I must confess that I'm not proud of losing the weight, the same as I'm not proud that I gained it in the first place. Taking off pounds was the easy part for me. It's math afterall... eat better + exercise more = weight loss. I'm not a numbers gal and I figured out that equation. What's calculus to me is adding in the emotional factor –- and that, my friends, is chaos theory.

This past January, Russ asked me a tough question. I'd been on a plateau with the scale for a few months, just 5 or so pounds away from my target. I was practically there. But, he asked me if I was afraid of reaching my goal weight. Wow, I chewed on that for a while. I told him that I wasn’t afraid of hitting some arbitrary number. Rather, I was terrified of NOT achieving the goal that I had set for myself. The number on the scale was only one small quantifiable accomplishment in my greater scheme of things. 

Ask me what I’m proud of and I’ll tell you. It wasn’t some logical or even magical solution for weight loss, it was finding the courage within to become the person I had always imagined myself to be. No math required.

October 12, 2007

xxxooo Mom...

Mom_and_paddy_3"We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give."     Sir Winston Churchill

The person I admire the most in this whole world is my Mom, Dr. Susan MacLean, and today she’s retiring.  Not only has she given so much to the field of emergency nursing over the past 40 years as a nurse, educator and researcher; she gave my sisters and me important life lessons in how to be strong, honest, patient, hardworking, caring and kind women.

As a single mother of three, making a living was always a priority. But she wanted more than just a full-time job for her and her girls, she dreamed of a bigger life. Somehow, she managed to work, go to school, and be an incredible Mom. I’ve always been a night owl, so our paths would cross around 3 am as I was going to bed and she was getting up to write her papers at our kitchen table, a coffee mug holding freshly sharpened pencils within reach.

My Mom finished her bachelor’s degree, completed her master’s degree, and then earned her doctor of philosophy degree in research days after I finished high school. For the last 13 years, she’s been at the Emergency Nurses Association and was its first Nursing Officer, leading the research to help define the future of emergency nursing and emergency care.

Today, she starts a new life and I couldn’t be happier for her. You more than earned it. Here’s to health, joy, adventure and sloppy kisses from Paddy. Mom, thank you for everything. You’re the reason why I am a Woman Who Rides. I love you.

xxxooo
Laura