Nancy Cycles!

Nancy Cycles!
"You got to be careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there." ... Yogi Berra

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Epic Tour Draws Closer!

December 24, 2013 (Christmas Eve)

As the time for my tour nears, my anxiety grows a bit. Will my body hold up to the challenge? Will I make it to the end point before dark each day? Am I strong enough for this? How will I withstand being away from home and everyone for two months? What about packing the right stuff?

Well, it goes on and on but in addition to having the nagging worries, I am also excited about the tour. A major niggling worry however is that I have not been doing any regular exercise -- as in strength training or interval cardio training, nor long rides; AND my eating regimen, well, isn't. Then December came in with frigid weather, precluding riding my bike very much at all.

This all wouldn't be quite so bad if it were not for the fact that I do believe I was born to worry, and this is all fodder for that fire.

Most recent dithering is around the packing. We are limited to two bags that weigh in at a total of 50 pounds, with neither weighing more than 30. We will be carting our own bags from the van to our room, some of which will not be on the first floor, so if I can go a touch lighter that will be to my benefit. I have a list -- oh do I have a list! -- of things to consider taking along. After this holiday is over I will start gathering and putting things out in sight to see just how much I do have on that list. Deciding what to cull from that pile will be the challenge. I love my comforts but am willing to do without some, but which ones? I want to be prepared for all weather, but just how much do I need for potential cold weather? I would like to have enough change of cycling clothing, but perhaps nightly handwashing will suffice? And the gadgets -- I don't dare list them at this point, at least until I get them in sight and see what we are talking about here.

At least I got a bit of riding in during Susan's Thanksgiving Break from school. We went to Jenny and Laurent's home in Indianola, on the Kitsap Peninsula, and enjoyed a delightful Thanksgivng dinner. We spent the night there and drove to Long Beach the next morning.

Morning tea time at Jenny & Laurent's house
The morning view during morning tea

We arrived in Long Beach for a rainy weekend.

Lewis and Clark were here

There is a delightful trail that connects Long Beach to Ilwaco.

Some of the trail -- the part into Ilwaco -- was not paved. And was UPHILL.
Uphill on a gravel trail -- yuck!


Captain Clark with sturgeon

Long Beach was decorated for Christmas.

So was Ilwaco.

Crab Pot Christmas Tree

There was also a long boardwalk in Long Beach - for walking.

Rain or not, we enjoyed a wonderful weekend at the ocean. Fortunately it was not cold so the rain did not deter us from our bike ride.

Back to worrying and dithering -- will keep everyone posted as the time gets even closer!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013 & Pre-Epic Tour thoughts, worries and jitters

November 11, 2013 (Veteran's Day)

In less than four months I will be taking off for my tour across the Southern Tier with Woman Tours. A few friends asked me for an outline of what this tour is about. below is a copy of the email I sent to them.



It is with the company WOMAN TOURS for women only, and mainly those 50 years old and older (but we know that any company will take anyone's money!). At 72 years old I will be either the oldest or near the oldest rider. But others tell me that there are those in their 70s who do this tour. I have one friend (Vickie) who did the tour about 8 or so years ago and she is my biggest cheerleader -- getting my confidence up when it begins to dip! She gave me her journal and photos to peruse and I have just completed doing that. Some of it seems daunting, but I feel pretty good about riding the tour.Their tours are very popular and many of them fill up -- especially the cross country epic tours. I tried to sign up for the 2013 (when I was a year younger) tour, but in September (2012) the tour was full. So I signed up for 2014 that long ago.We meet in San Diego on March 6th, leave on the 7th I think, and arrive in St. Augustine on May 1st. It is about 56-58 days -- in essence, 2 months. We have a rest day about every 7-10 days as I read it in my friend's journal. They say the average is about 55 miles a day, but that is an average, and most days are well over 60 it seems to me. AND there are 5 days that are over 90 one of those being about 110!!!!!! I don't know, they must include rest days in that average they quote. In addition to miles, there are the hills!! And mountain passes, oh my.We are completely supported with a van carrying our gear and a SAG vehicle following us and stopping every 20 miles or so with water and snacks if we need it, and to pick us up if we don't want to or can't ride any further. I may need that at least on the 110 mile day!Woman Tours (you can google it if you want more info) feeds us breakfast, dinner and snacks (we can make pbj sandwiches and grab snacks to take for our lunch if we choose. I can imagine getting pretty tired of peanut butter!) on riding days. We are on our own for meals on rest days. They secure our motel for each night (no camping thank goodness), and generally support us every step of the way. Riding my bike across the country has come and gone as a dream of mine since college. I never totally got caught up in that dream until my friend Vickie did it, and then the seed was planted. It is quite pricey, but what is retirement for? It will basically be my last most expensive gift to me and I plan to enjoy every day and every moment of that day along the way. With that in mind, though I would hope I can bike every mile, I will be smart about it. If the weather, the terrain or my body tell me to take the van, I will do so. I will do my best to not jeopardize my health and body parts!I think I have told you just about everything, and possibly more than you ever wanted to know, but if you have more questions just ask me. I am very into talking and sharing about this experience ;'-) I do plan to keep my blog during the tour -- perhaps you will follow along there and know where I am on any day.

I will be riding my Bike Friday. She just had her doctor's check up, a good overhaul, and a few new components.

Bike Friday is a compartively heavy bike and I use (what others call) slow tires. These tires are very flat resistent, and the last pair I had refused flats for 5000+ miles. I got new tires simply because the others were showing their wear. "Slow" is relative in my case. I am much slower in changing a flat tire than these slow (heavy) tires cause me to be on the road. Also - I HATE changing a flat tire.

OK so... Many of the women who are signed up for this tour have started emailing to the group. There is talk of carbon (extremey light) bikes, riding 50, 60, 70 miles a day, and weather (in CA and HI) being 70, 75, 80 degees. All so very opposite of my profie -- heavy bike, heavy tires, rides of 35 miles, and temps 40 - 50 degrees and rain.

I MUST keep in mind what Dan (our Utah tour leader) said to me: 'You are a strong rider, have good form, keep a good steady pace, refuel rehydrate and rest regularly. You will have no problem doing the southern tier tour."

Thank you Dan.

A couple of photos of recent rides to break up this long and wordy post:

Fall color


Seattle skyline from Gas Works Park

As my time for the tour nears, I will probably have the urge to post more thoughts and feelings about it all. It will be, after all, a trip of a lifetime ;'-)


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Last Day -- Killer Hill!

Saturday 10/5/2013

Yet another Plan B took us to another part of the Park on State and County roads. Our leaders are working hard for us on this trip. They would have had some time off as they could direct us to be on our own wandering around Zion -- had it been open! Instead they had to scout out options for us and continually follow us as our support.

Today's option -- hmmmmmm. We drove to a spot to unload the bikes, and our leader Dan said we would ride a mere 6 miles up the "hill" to a turn around. Then down the hill and ride all the way back to our hotel. Sounds simple enough. And I guess it was pretty simple. BUT THE HILLS WERE MINI MOUNTAIN PASSES, and there were tons of them. Not everyone made it up and I was determined to keep going until I saw the whites of Dan's eyes. The first time I stopped was to breathe -- and had a hard time at that. The next two stops were to walk up hills. I do not recall the last time I needed to walk a hill -- today I walked two. Even Dan said he was gasping for breath (and he is in fantastic shape) and that these were KILLER HILLS even for him. He hadn't time to ride it prior to taking us on it -- only did it in a car, and we know how that is!

We start out with my bike having a flat tire -- at least it was on the front
Three chose to do a hike -- here is David and Jude -- I think they were the smart ones. (Peter is the other hiker but not in the photo)
Six of us start up this gentle grade as if we know what we are doing


I stopped once before the hills really started to try to capture the striations in the rock

After this photo I was becoming very miserable and grumpy! Going through my mind were thoughts like... I don't want to take one more photo; when we get to the top and someone says wasn't it worth it I will say NO; what are these guys thinking of -- we are ELDERS! I made it til I saw Dan who was now on this way down and said no need to go further even though George was up there -- either resting or waiting for an Aid Car, I thought -- I was within a mile but it was ALL THE WAY UP some more, and my legs and lungs could not be forced to go up there. Especially since Dan said -- turn around here.

Coming down was a screamer and Mary, the other of us who got as far as I did, does not like fast downhills so she opted to get into the van for that part. To me, that was the pay off for making it UP there.

Coming down I stopped for a photo


I reached the State Road and this is the scenery

Finally back at the hotel I dropped off the bike to be stripped of my gear (saddle & pedals), took my extraneous gear off the bike, and headed directly to the hot tub. Well -- after putting on my swim suit.

The hills directly across from our hotel

Then it was relaxing time, a little (very little) walk around, and preparation for dinner. After breakfast tomorrow we head for Cedar City our departure location. We are done.

These guys -- Dan, Steven, Kirk and Bill -- have been fantastic and have taken exceptional care of each and all of us. I hope to do another trip with them, but their trips are hard! I doubt I will do the Rolling the Rockies trip that has a mountain pass, but will consider Bikes and Brew out of Fort Collins, even if I don't drink. The riding will be good and I love these guys.

This will be the last post for this trip -- it has been a doozie!


Friday, October 4, 2013

Parks still closed ;'-(

Thursday and Friday 10/3 & 10/4/2013

I did not post on Thursday because there were no photos. We climbed 20 miles into a fierce headwind and each of us had our head down fighting into the wind. The other side of the hill we had climbed was downhill for 25 more miles and IT presented us with even stronger headwinds. A difficult day.

It was not the best of cyclilng for any of us. We were on a high speed highway, little shoulder, and sometimes NO shoulder, with rumble strips directly next to us, and high speed trucks, tractor trailers, RVs often pulling something behind them, and huge tour buses passing us. And they were all in a hurry and not liking us being in their road. They had a perfect right going the speed they were as this was a HIGHWAY -- HIGH SPEED HIGHWAY. A few of our riders got quite rattled with the conditions, but we all got in safely to Mt. Carmel Junction, our stop for the night.

In addtion, there was not much in scenery on this route. I was grateful for the challenge in miles and hills as a test of how I will do on my upcoming southern tier tour, but would not choose to do this route again.

The nice part about the day was a soothing hot tub, nice swimming pool, and a pitch & putt golf course for the duffer. The hot tub was a remedy for my sore and tired back.

Friday morning started out cold! 43 degrees cold. Though we would have a later start for this day the temps did not warm up much by our 10:00 departure.

Again, in the wisdom of our government, Zion National Park is closed. We rode to the entrance gate thinking we may be able to ride through the park (as long as we did not stop and look!) like the cars and motorcycles could do. But -- bikes were not allowed today as they always are at any other time.


Our first and only look at the beginning of Zion by bike
To prove I was actually at Zion


Frank and Mary ride down the red road to the gate


We pack up our bikes for yet another Plan B


Mary, Frank, Jude, David, Janet, Peter, Nancy, George and Jerry waiting for bikes to get loaded into trailer

Plan B meant a drive to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park to have our lunch and a ride back out to the main road for the next leg. The ride was ----- windy and lots of uphill. More character building.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes

The Dunes are nothing like the ones in Michigan. These are interesting because they are formed by high winds funneling through a notch between two mountains that carry grains of sand from the eroding Navaho sandstone. This phenomenon is known as the Venturi Effect.

The vans once again picked up riders and bikes to now drive through Zion. It is rather laughable that cars and RVs can drive through on the state road that runs to the next town, but are not (supposedly) allowed to stop, get out of their vehicle to look and photograph anything. We saw a lot of felons on this day -- oggling and photographing.

Of course photos do not capture the vastness and beauty


The mountain goats were doing a "stand-in" protest.



The colors and size of these canyons and rock formations are incredible. I am so glad to have at least seen Zion. We will miss riding through what many think is one of the grandest bicycle rides in the world, by not being able to ride through the Park, or along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive where the only motorized vehicles allowed are the Park Service shuttle buses. But our leaders have done an impressive and outstanding job of coming up with alternative riding and experiences. Tomorrow is another one of those Plan B days.


Thursday, October 3, 2013


Wednesday 10/3/2013

Bryce Canyon being closed, our leaders had a plan B for today and it was terrific. The first half of the day we biked from Ruby's Inn to Kodachrome State Park along a fairly light traffic highway. Weather was again gorgeous and we had more scenic views of the geological beauty.


Museum must be the building as there is nothing inside


Well tended farmland at the foot of the mountains


This is for Ed Baker


The road we traveled


Mama don't take my kodachrome away


Entering the Basin


These wall surrounded us at our lunch spot


After lunvch at Kodachrome we loaded bikes into the trailer and drove to a bumpy, five mile dirt road that would take us to the Slot Canyons. I had seen slot canyons only in photos and documentaries, so hiking through them was an exciting experience for me.

We head down to the slots


We had all brought our hiking boots, but remained in our cycling clothes!



At the end of our hike I told Bill (who pulled this plan B out of his hat) that he had made sweet lemonade out of lemons. Janet said yes, we should write a thank you note to the government!!

By the end of this day we were all bushed and dinner would be our only activity before each of us would hit the bed for longed for rest and sleep! A day of wonder.