Monday, April 18, 2011

Back on the Bike

It is now T-minus 13 days until the Five Boro Bike Tour! Less than two weeks?! Ack!

This Saturday was ruined by some utterly terrible weather - rain, thunder, lightning, and gusts of wind so strong that trying to use an umbrella was simply pointless. Eric and I tried to salvage the day by hitting a museum, but after walking two blocks and nearly getting blown over by wind and pelted by rain we were all, "not worth it." Back home we went.

Thankfully, the rain cleared out on Sunday, so we were able to fit in another training ride. This time we decided to take our bikes into the city via PATH train to Christopher Street (where we quickly learned there is no handicap access - so no large turnstiles to fit your bike through, and no elevator), then we rode north to 90th Street via the bike path along West Side Highway, then over into Central Park to ride the 6.2 mile park loop, then back out to the west and home again along the West Side Highway. Total planned distance: about 18 miles. Quite a leap from our 10 miles last week!

So, we got ourselves ready and off we went. I bought a new handlebar bag for my bike this week, so we were able to take the camera and some snacks along with us, which was very nice. And now you get to see some pictures!

The path along the West Side Highway is just lovely. Eric has run that path many times, but it was my first time seeing much of it. Of course I am familiar with the portion in our old neighborhood, and when we passed the Intrepid, our former local riverside park, and the spot where we watched the Fourth of July fireworks I caught myself still thinking, "ah, home sweet home!" I wonder how long that will take to wear off?

North of our former neighborhood, however, was also very nice. There is really some fabulous park space along the water and it's so scenic. We could see the George Washington Bridge in the distance ahead of us, trees were blooming, there were boats on the water, and it was all just so pretty.

View along the bike path

Yay, bike riders!

We even found a new landmark along the way: the Soldiers' and Sailor's Memorial Monument at 89th Street and Riverside Drive. We spent some time checking that out, and were treated to some live "theater" by an acting group rehearsing at the base of the monument.

Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument

Looking up at the monument

Pretty scenic, yes?

Actors at the base of the monument

We then made our way over to Central Park, where we set off on the 6.2 mile loop. Did you know that now Eric has walked, ran, roller-bladed and biked that loop? I'll bet he thinks he's fancy.

He probably thinks he's fancy for all his Central Park experience, but he also thinks he's too cool for school when it comes to wearing a helmet while bike riding.
People, help me peer pressure him! Leave a comment and tell him to WEAR HIS HELMET!

Enjoying my ride in Central Park (WITH helmet, mind you!)

Also, did you know that Central Park is full of stupid hills? Eric knew of a couple big hills from his regular runs along that path, but let me tell you, you notice hills a lot more on a bike. It was a pretty consistent up-and-down ride, and it was brutal. I started off feeling strong, like my daily trips to the gym were really paying off, and I ended the loop cursing at every slight incline. It was rough. Also, I nearly got side-swiped by a horse. So that was fun.

We did make a couple of stops to take pictures of lovely park scenery, mainly along the Lake and the Reservoir. The trees and flowers are really starting to bloom, so it's a wonderful time of year to spend some time in the park.

Scenery along the Lake

There were lots of boats on the Lake! Everyone was enjoying the nice(-ish) weather.

Tulips by the Reservoir

Blossoms along the Reservoir

So pretty! It reminds me of the cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin in D.C., which I miss terribly.

Taking a snack/picture break!

Needless to say, by the time we finished the Central Park loop, I was pretty exhausted. No rest for the weary, however, since we still had the last stretch of our trip to go - our return along the West Side Highway. We rode back towards the river along 77th Street, which to our surprise, was also uphill. The street we took over to the park had also been uphill, so we anticipated an easy downhill ride when it was time to leave the park. Not so. It was literally uphill both ways. Did you know that uphill both ways actually does exist? I just thought it was something parents made up to make kids feel guilty and lazy ("When I was your age, I walked 50 miles a day, in a blizzard, uphill both ways!"). But hey, guess what? It does exist. I HAVE LIVED IT.

Things did not get easier when we finally made it to the riverside bike path. Our storms from Saturday had cleared out, yes - but they forgot to take the wind. The wind on the way home was just relentless, ridiculously strong, and right in our faces. It was like the entire ride home was another hill to climb. Thankfully, I got Eric to agree that we should NOT ride the entire way back to Christopher Street to battle with the inaccessible PATH station again, but rather, we should take the ferry from 39th Street. More expensive, sure, but soooo much easier. So, we battled on to the ferry terminal then took our (rough, choppy) ferry ride back to Hoboken.

When we got back to our side of the river we stopped for a few more pictures at the ferry pier. Hey, it was a beautiful, clear day (windiness aside), so we couldn't help ourselves.

My artsy shot!


Exhausted, but almost done for the day!

We then knocked out the last mile of our trip along the riverside in Hoboken, back to our part of town. We did it!

Let me tell you, I was SPENT at the end of this ride. Absolutely exhausted. But, there were definitely some positivies! First of all, padded bike shorts ROCK MY SOCKS. Guess who has been able to sit totally normally after this bike ride, something not at all possible last week? That's right, I have virtually no pain! A little soreness, sure, but not like the torture I felt last week. Also, my shoulders are sore and my thighs feel a bit tired today, but all in all, waking up today was significantly less painful than waking up last week, and I nearly doubled the length of my ride. Maybe this training is paying off!

So in some respects, yesterday's ride gave me confidence, but it also made me very nervous. Yes, I'm getting better, but I just don't know if I'll get to where I need to be by race day. By the end of our ride yesterday, I was so exhausted. I could not have powered through another 20 miles on top of what I already did. So how am I going to ride 42 miles on race day in 13 days? To be honest, I'm not really sure I can do it.

But, I'll just keep on training and hopefully I'll keep making good progress. Hopefully the weather will cooperate so we can get in another good ride next weekend that will really boost my confidence for May 1. I hope, I hope!


Becky said...

Eric, WEAR YOUR HELMET!!!!!!! My daughter does not need to be a widow at such a young age. This is your mother-in-law speaking, and you don't want to make me mad!!

KSK said...

YAY for padded bike shorts!!! You're doing great!!! My husband's name is Eric, So I'm used to yelling at them :) Eric! Wear a helmet! Nobody wants to clean up your brains splattered all over a sidewalk! ..And your MIL said so! :)

Anonymous said...

Meg, I am sorry to say that I am on Eric's side. I don't wear a helmet so I will not tell anyone else to. On another note I love to ride my bike but never really do because I know my butt will hurt the next day, so I think I may invest in those bike shorts you speak of!
Love you guys!

Anonymous said...

Eric, wear a helmet! You are not invinvible! Plus, it will greatly please your wonderful wife!
Love, Aunt Rachel

Sara said...

Awesome!! The race sounds like so much fun, good for you!! You will be fine, you'll be so excited on race day and there will be so many people doing it with you that it will go so fast. (Not that I've ever ridden 42 miles but I know you can:)
And Eric, wear your helmet. I crashed yesterday (albeit from a complete stop, thanks to my new "eggbeater" pedals that I forgot to clip out of before trying to put my foot on the ground) and even though it was funny at the tiem, I am sooo sore today. Luckily I had my helmet on when my head hit the pavement! Just do it :)