Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hills, hills and more hills

If you're following my blog, let me start with the question that I said I'd answer in the last blog and didn't.

Will Debi be able to use clipless pedals? 

I hinted that I had skinned up elbows and lots of bruises on my legs and butt in a previous blog.  So, if you guessed Debi probably won't be using clipless pedals, you are right.  I haven't given up totally, but I know I won't be wearing them on the Ride 2 Recovery (R2R) Golden State Challenge.

On Sunday, the day after my first ride up Tunnel Road, my Trainer and I went out to a baseball field for me to practice with the cleats.  Marc pointed at the home base on the diamond and said that is the stop sign.

I kept running the stop sign while trying to get out of the cleats.  I fell at least six times.  I could see the frustration on Marc's face.  Being the gentleman I know he is, I believe it bothered him when I fell.

On the way back to our neighborhood, I told him I'd practice while he and David were riding the next day.  I didn't want to go with them because I was petrified to be wearing cleats and using clipless pedals on the path they were going to ride with all the bikes and pedestrians.

The next day I fell once, but I kept running the stop sign.   It shook my confidence and fueled my fears of crashing.   Thoughts of crashing through a stop sign on Snake Road or the red light at the end of that road haunted me throughout the day.  I tried again the next day and fell on the sidewalk this time with knee and elbow pads.  I finally made the decision I am not ready to wear them.

I need more experience on my bike and I need to get stronger riding.  Marc offered to loan me pedals he had used for a short time.  One side of the pedal is clipless and the other side is a platform pedal.  I told him I might try them later.

Since that weekend, I've asked 3 of my cycling buddies how many times they fell learning to use clipless pedals?  They all told me once or twice.  Obviously, six times was not good.

I recall David telling me he rode the Tour of the California Alps Death Ride (129 miles) in Markleeville several years ago without clipless pedals, in a T-shirt and regular shorts.  I'm pretty sure he used clipless pedals this year on the same Death Ride.

I think David said clipless pedals are of benefit to competitive racers and it makes it easier for those participating on long, hilly rides, but he doesn't think a cyclist has to wear them.  He believes it's more important to wear sturdy shoes.

David and Marc use both toe clip and clipless pedals.  I've seen David use platform pedals when he's riding with me.  He knows he will be stopping more and it's a pain getting out of toe clip and clipless pedals. ;-)  That I know.  David loves building bikes and he has several beautiful bikes with various pedals.

Update on my training: 

I can't begin to tell you how surprised I am that I'M actually CLIMBING HILLS!  I'm not a fast climber and I've stopped to rest when needed, but I AM riding up and down hills.  :-)

It wasn't until I told a friend I was planning to participate in the Ride 2 Recovery (R2R) Golden State Challenge that I was reminded of all the hills on Highway 1.  Then, I realized I need to learn how to climb hills.  After all, I live in flat Alameda and our biggest hill is Mount Trashmore.

It was too late to back out; I had already told John Wordin, Executive Director, Fitness Challenge Foundation and Ride 2 Recovery, that I was going to participate in the R2R.

I don't know why I was so scared of the hills, but I suspect my fear of having another traumatic brain injury (TBI) and my imagination got away with me.  Cycling is a high risk sport especially when you're sharing the road with vehicles.  I envisioned the Oakland Hills having these steep banks immediately at the edge of the roads.   Silly me.  I've driven through many states and there aren't many areas like that in the United States.

I may have lost count, but I know I've gone up Tunnel Road via Montclair and Lake Temescal, Skyline Road and back down to Montclair via Snake Road at least 4 times, on another trip up Tunnel, I road Skyline to Redwood Road and DOWN the steepest section of Redwood Road.

My friend David, also referred to as the Machine by our cycling buddies because of his strength and stamina for climbing, said he often rides up that stretch of Redwood Road.  I can't imagine riding up that part of Redwood Road and I probably never will, but I can't really say never because . . .

I was certain I'd never like riding in the hills because of my fear of going down, but . . .

To my surprise, I love riding in the hills. Please note that enjoying riding in the hills doesn't mean that it is easy for me.  It's really hard, but I like how I feel after I ride. 

I have over 3,000 training miles on my bike and David suggested I change my tires.  He suggested I change to a bit narrower and a lot lighter tire. What a difference a wheel makes.  Changing the tires took a total of 1 pound and 1 ounce off my tires (8.5 ounces each).  David said the type of tire and weight  makes a big difference in climbing.  Believe me, it did.

On Wednesday of last week, David and I started riding on a relatively new path near the Oakland airport to the San Leandro Marina.  Then we headed for the hills.  Some of the roads I recall being on were Estudilla Ave, Lake Chabot Road, 7 Hills Road and then we went on Redwood Road for 11 - 12 miles.  On one of the roads, David said we are on a part of the route for the annual Grizzly Peak Century Ride he participated in May.  He told me I'd probably want to sign-up for the Grizzly Peak Ride next year.  Yeah, right. He was just kidding.  But, ya' never know.  I'm riding in the hills now! ;-) 

I was exhausted by the time we got to Skyline.  I decided I didn't want to go down that very steep stretch of Redwood Road because I was so tired.  We went back to Alameda via Joaquin Miller Road and back roads David is familiar with.  Most of that was down hill, too, but not as steep as that stretch of Redwood Road.

By the time we got back to Alameda we had ridden 40 miles.  At least 30 of those miles included hills.  I was excited from the accomplishment, but I was soooo physically and mentally exhausted.

I laid down for a nap, but woke up within 20 minutes because my buns were burning and I'm not talking about cinnamon buns in the oven.  My butt, the back of my legs and my calves were experiencing the worst exercise burn I've ever felt.   I took analgesics to help with the pain and inflammation the rest of the day and throughout the night and the next day.   I also made the mistake of wearing my tennis shoes because I forgot to change in to my cycling shoes after walking the dog.  I'm a supinator and my ankles really hurt after that ride, too.

David took my bike home that day to do some major maintenance on it.  The next day was going to be a recovery day.  I hurt, but it hurt so good.

I can understand why the military wants to get America's injured military in to cycling.   I'm so happy I heard John Wordin speak and I'm grateful he invited the brain injury community to participate.

Many of us who have experienced a TBI suffer from depression due to changes in the brain and our lives.  Cycling is such a feel good sport.  It has made a difference in how I feel and it's much easier on my knees than walking or jogging.

Last Saturday was my most recent hill ride and it was a milestone. 

David, Marc and I headed to Tunnel via Montclair and Lake Temescal.  Keep in mind, I have a finely tuned bicycle with new and lighter tires.

On the way to Montclair I usually have to stop once or twice for a few minutes.  The only stops I made that day were at red lights and stop signs.  We spent an extra minute or two at a stop sign for Marc to turn off my back light.  I must have accidentally turned it on or I just forgot to turn it off.

We stopped at the Montclair Playground to rest, fuel ourselves with food and water, and refill our water bottles.  Then we headed for the Fire Memorial Platform.

I didn't stop until I got to the platform.  Other times, I stopped once or twice and even walked a few steps on Broadway. We hydrated and refilled our water bottles and then we were off to Sibley.

I rode all the way to Sibley without stopping once!  That was a personal best.  I'm sure I was grinning ear to ear when I got to the top.

While I was basking in my glory ;-), and we were resting and hydrating our bodies, we discussed where we were going next.  I wanted to go all the way to Golf Links on Skyline and Marc wanted to go up Grizzly Peak.  David has ridden all over these hills for years and he didn't care where we rode.

Grizzly Peak it was!  Marc only has the weekends to ride. I am so grateful for his time and support that it was more important we go where he wanted to go.  Furthermore, I wanted to be able to say I'd ridden Grizzly Peak, too. ;-)

I am the luckiest gal in the world to have these awesome cycling buddies.  They are gentleman.  There are times they want to ride a little harder and faster than I can and I love to watch them, but when they do that, someone always circles back to check on me.  They don't let me out of their site for very long.

We went to some beautiful area with an awesome view.  I forgot what it was called.  When we finally headed back home we came down at UC Berkeley and stopped to have a slice of pizza.  I had a great tasting vegetarian pizza with all kinds of veggies on a wheat crust and Energy, my favorite flavor of Vitamin Water.

I wish I would have known Marc hadn't eaten breakfast before we left and I hope I would have remembered about the Alameda Firefighters fundraiser breakfast.  We could have gone there first for a great breakfast to benefit the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation.  I hope I don't forget it again next year.

I had a great day and a great ride with my cycling buddies.  Grizzly Peak is beautiful.  There were a lot more cars than I thought there would be.

I'm hoping my friends are available this weekend and we'll be able to do a 3 Bears Ride before it gets too hot.

Update on Fundraising: 

To have the honor of riding with America's injured military, Matthew and I need to raise $3,200 each.  So far, we only have $830.00. Can you help us by making a donation?  You can sponsor Deborah Palmer here?  If you send a check, please don't forget to add my name in the Memo.  I am acknowledging donors here.  I am notified by the R2R when anyone sponsors me.  Please let me know if you would prefer anonymity.

I'm going to close asking you if you've signed Oprah's No Phone Zone Pledge? 

Since I added Oprah's widget to my last post, the number of people who have signed the pledge has gone from 372, 000 or so to 380,542 the last time I looked.  I assure you it's not because of my blog.  ;-)  Nonetheless, I hope you will link others to my blog titled, Have you signed Oprah's No Phone Zone Pledge? 

I linked to 4 videos from Oprah's shows about two cyclists, a child and an adult, one was killed because one driver was talking on a cell phone and the other driver was texting.  Two young ladies are now living with physical injuries and/or cognitive deficits from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) because someone was texting and driving ~ totally preventable injuries and senseless deaths.

I'm one of many cyclists probably blogging about distracted driving and the No Phone Zone Pledge, but well known and respected cycling organizations like the League of American Bicylists have blogged about distracted driving and Oprah's Campaign, too.

I don't want people texting and driving or using a cell phone without a hands free apparatus because my life could depend on it.  I prefer no one drive and use a phone, but the hands free apparatus is acceptable with me provided both hands are on the wheel, eyes are on the road and you're not trying to do something else while driving, i.e., putting on makeup, shaving, etc.

A distracted driver is dangerous enough to other vehicles, but pedestrians and cyclists are no match with a vehicle.

Please make your car a No Phone Zone and "don't tempt fate, [because] that text or call can wait!"Lives depend on us being responsible drivers.  Spread the word about Oprah's No Phone Zone Pledge to every driver and cell phone user you know.

Until next time, I'll be TREKkin', training and fundraising for the R2R Golden State Challenge.

Maybe, we'll cross paths in the hills. :-)


AKA Deborah Palmer 


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