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Don’t Psych Yourself Out!

The Mountain

Sometimes we focus on the mountain. We become fixated on the seemingly insurmountable obstacle we would never even dream of overcoming. Ironically, it’s the self-defeating language we speak to our inner selves that leads to poor imagination. We predetermine we are not able to do, to conquer, to overcome what is before us then we lay down and play dead… or put our heads in the dirt… or crawl into caves for extended hibernations.

Alternatively, we can choose to simply look at the mountain for what it is: something that has multiple sides and levels. There is always a way up, over, around, under and through it. Be assured, getting to the other side is achievable. Remembering this simple truth about every impossible situation will shift perspective and focus immeasurably. The mountain may not become a molehill, but it will become manageable. It can then be approached as a challenge or trial in need of an action plan.

Mind Shift

When we no longer view our obstacles as insurmountable they stop being the opposition of our life, the limits of creative thought, the borders of vision and the anchors of our energy.

How we react to external problems reflect our internal conflicts. The human condition seems to be a lifelong process of constantly striving to get to the other side of fear, and therefore to the other side ourselves. First, we have to see that it’s possible to do so.

The Process of Change

A few days ago, I resuscitated my bike; it had been sitting on flats in the garage for over a year. One of the things that attracted me to the Sonoran Desert was the thought of cycling with my camera throughout the year. Unfortunately, when I got here, everything about riding in the desert seemed like a death wish. Long expanses of curving road. Impatient drivers. Wild animals. Cactus needles. Dehydration. Sun-burn. Unending upward mountain climbs.

The fear snuck up on me.

I had been riding around New York City and parts of New Jersey since 2011. I had done cycling events – The Five Boro Ride several times, a couple of half centuries, and countless other organized and solo rides. Yet, I when I got to a wide open road in the desert, I believed the limits of my sight. New York City didn’t have mountains! Where’s the shade? Where can I rest? What if I run out of water? What if I get hit and no one sees me in a ditch?

The obstacles I created impaired my ability to actually do one of the things I enjoy most and something I’ve wanted all my life to do around the world. During the two years I’ve had my bike in Arizona, I’ve gotten on it no more than two or three times.

Getting to the Other Side

All this to say, the other day I went out on my bike for the first time in a long while. For two days prior, I had walked a nearly three-mile route. The same route I had tried to ride last year and ended up feeling as if I had outdone myself with. It completely took my breath away, or more aptly, it was so hard to breathe that I turned around and went home. One and half miles did me in. And kept me off my bike for a year. I could have pushed through. I could have tried again that next day. I did neither. I limited myself and refused to even try again.

This time, I did push through. This time I huffed and puffed up this incline and whoo-hooooed all the way down! The downhill return was mind-blowingly-smooth and I basically coasted back to my subdivision gate. The below video was made during this ride. In it I talk about how the payoff is worth the effort.

Remember Who You Are

When I got home, I reviewed my ride stats on my phone and saw old ride stats that sort of blew my mind.

This three-mile roundtrip in my neighborhood had an elevation gain of 269 feet. Isolated, that sounds like a lot. The 269-foot climb must be what took my breath away, or so I thought. But my old stats show rides around Manhattan with 100 to 600 feet of elevation gain. One Staten Island event had a route elevation gain of 3203 feet. Since the highest point I reached was 396 feet above sea level (practically the tallest peak on the island), I believe the gain indicates the combination of hills I went up that day.

While writing this piece, I’ve finally realized I never accounted for the need to acclimate to a higher overall elevation. New York City is 33 feet above sea level. My home address in Marana, Arizona is at 2425 feet above sea level. My lungs are working harder here due to altitude and thinner arid air.

Sometimes we have to give ourselves a break and consider the practical elements of our environment and what adjustments we need to make to adapt better.

I had long proven to myself I’m capable of overcoming physical obstacles. Yet when my new environment proved more of a challenge than I expected, I gave up. I didn’t examine why it was more challenging or how I could adapt to the environmental changes. Focusing on the mountain ranges surrounding me defeated me. I psyched myself out.

Now that I’ve reminded myself that I did more in New York than I’ve even attempted in Arizona, I’m gonna retrieve that fearless, can-do attitude and go ride these desert roads!

Be blessed. Don’t psych yourself out. Keep moving. Keep moving. Keep moving! Amen!

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I used to be an athlete.

Bike the Boros: Staten Island

Morning Stretch and Praise Break

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Bike the Boros: Staten Island

Bike the Boros: Staten Island
First ride event of the 2016 season
April 17, 2016

The primary motivating cycling goal for this year was for me to ride in the 5 Boro Bike Tour on May 1. The 5 Boro is a 40 mile ride that winds through all five boroughs of New York City. That was going to be my kickoff event for the cycling season. Unfortunately, I missed registration. I was a bit bummed, but there was still the opportunity to volunteer for the ride which meant I would still get some mileage in.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I got an email about the approaching registration deadline for the Bike the Boros: Staten Island ride, with 35 and 50 mile routes around Staten Island. It sounded like a great replacement event for the one I missed even though it’s two weeks earlier than I was planning and my cycling training has almost been non-existent.

This is an event journal for my first cycling event of the 2016 season.

7:00-9:00 am

Today is the day. I got up, got prepped and got out.

The ferry ride to Staten Island was uneventful and now I’m just waiting for the day to unfold and see how I handle the 35 mile route.

9:40

Made it to registration before they closed down at 9:30. Hit the road at 9:40.

11:00-11:25

Rest area 1 @ 12miles Already exceeded my expectations!! I was ready to exit the route by mile 3. Staten Island is hilly! Who knew?!?!?

I am super proud of myself for pushing through the hills and making it to the first rest stop. Making it to the first rest stop usually means you can make it to the second. And once you make it to the second rest stop you’re pretty much done. #crossingmyfingers

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My mapping software is off by about 8 miles. It looks like it didn’t catch all of the mileage of the first leg of my route.

12:30-1:00

Second rest stop @ mile 24. Made it. I was seriously looking for the exit 4 miles back. This hill was literally the last straw. Then I looked at my route sheet and saw that I was only 4 miles away from the rest stop. I sat on a retaining wall for a while catching my breath and gathering my strength to tackle this steep hill. Ended up walking my bike up the hill. Then got back on. It’s important to always get back on.

The downhill on the other side of this hill was a mix of reward and terror, like: a lil’ bit of “Oh yay! Downhill!” with a lot of “Oh shit! This is treacherous!” It was a steep, winding downhill road with no shoulder to speak of, two-way traffic with a lot of pot holes, a couple of stop signs peppering the decline and a couple of hairpin sharp turns coming off the hill thrown in for good measure. Not for the faint of heart. But who knew that was coming?

2:23

Finish line!

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I did it.

Pretty much from the beginning of this ride, I was ready to give up. Even before the ride. I had to talk myself into showing up. I didn’t prep the night before as I should have. Prepping in the morning delayed my departure, so much so that I thought I would miss registration and riding with any group of riders. Getting to the start line required a forty minute subway ride, a mile and half of cycling and a half hour ferry ride.

The commitment is certainly in the start. Perhaps that’s why starting is so hard. So I am most proud that I started. By starting and not giving up when the course proved to be harder than I expected, I achieved my first goal of the ride: making it to the first rest stop. Achieving that first goal propelled me to achieving the ultimate goal for the day: finishing the course.

At no point before I started, did I plan on or expect that I would finish the 35 miles I signed up for. Even at the first rest stop, I was telling myself I could stop at 20 miles and I would be okay with that. I was about to throw my hat in when I saw the crazy hill. When I looked at my cue sheet I realized I was only four of miles away from the second rest stop. I knew I could do four more miles. The rest stops are where cyclists are able to get off their bikes, use the restroom, refill on water, eat (usually fresh fruit, bagels, and granola; sometimes PBJ sandwiches and other goodies; or bagged lunches). And of course, take a breather. The rest stops are crucial for all the refueling you need. When you get back on, you’re better than fresh – you have the second wind that isn’t hindered by heart palpitations and your movement is more fluid from the prior “warm-up” round(s).

As I got up from my breather at the bottom of that hill I was ready to call a taxi from, I knew if I made the second rest stop, I could finish the course. I didn’t see the end until I was close to it. Focusing on the step in front of me is what got me through the whole challenge. I think this is true for most things in life.

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“I rode the Staten Island Half Century” Not quite half, but I’m keeping the t-shirt!

 

 

 

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Nothing says love like a home-cooked meal – so I cooked for myself instead of going to Chipotle for a chicken burrito! A lot of veggies, some baked chicken and bit of guacamole. 😉 #lightsout

 

 

 

 

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First ride of the season & Tour de Cure ATL

In 2011, I decided to start cycling. I connected with someone who was an avid cyclist and very knowledge about the cycling community in New York City. She introduced me to her bike shop and I got fitted for my first serious bike. I went with a hybrid. In May 2012, I rode in my first event, the Five Boro Bike Tour in NYC. I was off to a strong start… and very enjoyable. I don’t think I thought seriously about racing, but it turned out that I thoroughly enjoyed the touring events through the City and countryside. During the last ride of the 2012 season, I got hit by a SUV during my 11th mile. I’ve tried getting back on my bike a few times since, but it’s been hard. I was more traumatized by being hit than I was willing to admit to myself.

I had many false starts trying to return to cycling. There were several occasions when I got dressed and prepped my bike for a ride and just sat on my sofa and stared at it. There were other times when I paid for cycling events and didn’t even show up. A year or two ago, I got as far as 26 miles into a 40 mile ride before giving up – mostly from lack of preparation and practice beforehand; it was the first long ride I had attempted since being hit a couple of years prior.

Last year, I decided 2016 would be a year of cycling for me. I determined that I would set aside the fear and anxiety of sharing the road with motorists and put myself back into the flow of traffic. I did a commute to/from work and a group ride during the fall. The commute was devastating and traumatic because of traffic, construction detours and the absence of a dedicated bike lane on the route and detours I took. The group ride was amazing, invigorating and freeing! It took place on a crisp, clear day in early December with the NYC chapter of Black Girls Do Bike, an organization of women cyclists who ride at the pace of their slowest rider (i.e. no one is left behind). We rode from Midtown Manhattan to Brooklyn for a book event. From that ride I signed up for my first event for the 2016 season: the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure Atlanta. This is my first fund-raising biking event. **I would be very grateful for your contribution towards my $200 fundraising goal.**

My goal is to get in 2-3 commutes per week plus a weekend ride. To this end, I got out for my first conditioning ride/commute last week. It was a beautiful day that called for the wind blowing through my hair.

 

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October in Westchester County

Autumn escape from skyscrapers! Took a bike ride along the North County Trail in Westchester County, NY. Here are photos from the beautiful trail.