Bicycle

Right of Way

Yesterday I rolled down my window to yell at a pedestrian who made a rude gesture towards me after I almost hit her while she jaywalked in front of me.* Normally I just get on with myself, but seriously? SERIOUSLY? I was pulling out of a parking garage where you are forced to turn right or left (you can’t go straight) and as I pulled out, turning, she stepped in front me. I swerved, she stepped back up on the curb and rolled her eyes and gestured rudely towards me. As I rolled down the window she yelled “Oh so you are going to yell at me now?”

“THERE IS A CROSSWALK ON THE CORNER FOR A REASON” is pretty much all I managed to get out, along with something about having a right of way.

If a pedestrian is in a crosswalk, even when I havea  green light, I wait. It is the law, and they have the right of way. But I am sick of people just walking into active roadways and expecting cars, sometimes traveling at a high rate of speed ,to just stop. That isn’t how the world works. Go use a crosswalk, I’ll stop for you every time. You know why there isn’t a crosswalk right where that lady decided to cross the street? Because there is A PARKING GARAGE OF EXITING CARS RIGHT THERE.

Oh and bicycles, I always treat you like a car and am respectful of your space and I check my mirrors before exiting so I don’t door you, but how about you live up to your end of the deal and follow the rules of the road? This means stopping at stop signs and red lights. You don’t get to complain about drivers not treating you like a car (which they are obliged to do) if you don’t follow the same principles of stop/go/right of way.

* I do not condone yelling at strangers.

* * *

Gracie loves the car carts at our local grocery store, and since they keep her happy and occupied (wheel spinning, beep-beeping) I oblige. The problem being the car carts are really hard to steer and wider at the base than a typical grocery cart which means I clip a lot of corners. I’m slowly getting better, but damn if I’m not apologizing for half of my trip. The car carts are also quite heavy so stopping when someone exits an aisle and there is a traffic jam isn’t always feasible. But who has the right of way in the grocery store? The people coming out of the aisles, or the people cruising the main, perpindicular thoroughfares? I always wonder. And try to halt as necessary to prevent cart crashing. And a side note: I love when we pass other kids in car carts and the kids do some sort of secrete handshake headnod thing, like “YEAAAHHHH CAR CART RIDING”. Oh to be a kid again.

(I have a really cute photo of Gracie in the car cart, but I can’t seem to locate it. Blog fail.)

Thus concludes my deep thoughts. As you were.

 

Five on Friday: Cold May Edition

Don’t worry y’all, it is cold and raining in Chicago. There was snow in some suburbs today. It is like my winter coats are putting up one last bloody battle to prevent me from taking them to the cleaners. Anyway, lets get it done, shall we?

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1. At the beginning of every summer (which will get here, come hell or high water)  I always wish I could somehow use all of my PTO to just take every Friday off. I’m sure I *could* do that but it would be a hard way to meet all my deadlines, and a terrible use of my time off (I know I’d regret it come Christmas and what not) but doesn’t that just sound wonderful? Three day weekends all summer long? Yes please.

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2. A Sonic drive-in opened in Chicago right around the same time I decided to get serious about getting fit and losing the last bit of weight that keeps from being a truly happy/healthy place. I’ve been pretty good about avoiding it, but once or twice I’ve found myself ordering a cherry lime-aid without realizing how I’d gotten there. These things….they happen. Speaking of getting fit, I somehow promised Law with Grace that I’d run a 5K and perhaps a half marathon with her, which means I guess it is time to start getting my feet to the pavement. It is also time to get my bike out of storage and drop it off for a quick tune up so I can start riding again.

Cycling shoes

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3. We have succesfully weaned Gracie off of the pacifier! After going about it the wrong way (we made a big deal about it being broken after snipping the bulb off, and throwing it away with much fanfare…we should have just thrown them all out without saying anything) Gracie adapted. We knew she could do it (she was sleeping pacifier-free at nap time) but I’m glad we made it through to the other side. There is no doubt in my mind that if she found a pacifier she’d pop it in happily, but she is a-ok without one as well. One less thing to add to the nighttime routine!

4. This week, after my Monday Night Dinner out, I went to a grown up affair again on Thursday night. B stayed home with Gracie while I did a little networking and then had dinner with my best friend and her Mom. It further reinforced the fact that I still need to have my own time, and that taking it doesn’t make me a terrible monster. Bonus: B sends me lots of cute pictures and videos of the little lady.

5. Anyone out there buy clothes from Everlane? I’m tempted to order a few t-shirts for the summer but I’m curious to hear what people think of their quality/fit. (Not a referrral/affiliate link) The idea is intriguing but I’m wondering if the product lives up to the hype!

So You Want To Try Spinning?

With many people still tackling their New Years Resolution of getting fit (or taking it on for Lent) a lot of my friends have been trying spinning classes at their local gym. Inevitably when they get home they send me an email informing me they don’t know how I can love it so much- their bums are sore and while they got a great workout, they are not sure if they can sit through the agony again.

Luckily for them (and you, if you are so inclined) with a few pieces of gear you too can fall in love with spinning- I often burn upwards of 600 calories a class, so it is one of the most effective cardio workouts I’ve tried, and I love that it is in a group setting, which always makes me push a little further.

First, you need the basics: a towel and a bottle of water. Don’t even consider going to spinning class without them. Ladies will also want some supportive undergarments, so don’t skimp out- you’ll hate yourself on the first set of “jumps” if you don’t wear a good sports bra. If you have one, a heart rate monitor is incredibly helpful so you know when you can keep pushing and when you should dial it back a notch. If you have long hair you’ll want it pulled back – I find a headband is a must for spinning.

I like this one from Lululemon, because it keeps sweat from dripping in my eyes and has gripper material to keep it from sliding off mid class. Win!

Now, onto your bottom half, which lets face it, is the half that takes a beating on the horrible cheap seat. If you want to take spinning seriously you want to wear chamois bottoms with padding, but no gym cycler wants to wear the ABSURD looking gear road cyclists wear. You have two options: mountain biking shorts (I recommend these) or cycling capris. I like cycling capris at the gym since they look the most like running tights or “typical” gym gear. Because cyclists like to be special, we call them cycling knickers.

This is my favorite pair of cycling knickers, and the best part is you don’t have to break the bank for them:

These will save your bum from the horrible post-spin-class-bruised-feeling. Promise. Gentlemen, I recommend you also go the mountain biking shorts route:

 

Cycling shorts and knickers have a special set of rules regarding how you wear them. First up: no undies. Yup, you go commando. Second, you always want to put them on when you are clean so you don’t get any funky bacteria in the chamois. A super quick rinse in the shower does the trick nicely. Before you slide the shorts/pants on, you want to put a thin thin coat of chamois cream on the chamois pad and on your bum cheeks and upper thighs. Just…trust me. This is what prevents chaffing, blisters and a variety of sore skin spots. A lot of chamois creams also contain natural antibacterial agents to keep you from getting gross and funky down there. Toss a tube of this (or travel pack) into your gym bag:

Cycling shorts/knickers should be washed within 24 hours of wearing them and hung dry to ensure the life of the chamois and to keep it bacteria free.

Once you get into spinning you might decide to invest in a pair of clip in shoes. Using clip in shoes makes you work more effectively in class, burning more calories and utilizing your leg on both the downward push and the upward pull, which is more energy efficient and comfortable. You don’t need (or want) to invest in pricey carbon road shoes, with the clip sticking out and making walking hard. Leave that to the road dorks. You want to have an SPD clip installed (ask the bike store when you buy them) and don’t spend more than $100- I’d recommend something like this pair.

Another popular pair of shoes for men and women are these slightly pricer Keen shoes. If you buy your cycling shoes online make sure the SPD clip is already installed, and if it is not (i.e. there is just a hole in the bottom of the shoe with spots to screw the clip into) take them to a local bike shop and purchase and install the clips, typically less than $10. As for cycling socks, sure they are nice, but definitely not necessary. Just don’t wear pure cotton socks (they don’t breathe!) and make sure they fit nicely so you don’t get any blisters. If you find, after a class or two, that one leg is perpetually sore in a particular spot, flip your shoes over and make sure the clips are installed in exactly the same spot on both shoes- if one seems uneven, take them to a bike store for a quick adjustment. It should help with the sore spot on your leg. If you don’t want to wear clip in shoes, pick a pair of gym shoes with the stiffest sole you can- no dance shoes or flimsy Pumas in spinning class!

Finally, unless you are very modern or what not, you’ll probably want a top to wear to spinning. You don’t need to spend the money on a fancy cycling shirt with pockets (since you are not carrying protein bars or flat tire kits) so just make sure the shirt you wear is both wicking and long enough – shirts tend to ride up during class and it is so annoying to keep reaching back to yank it back down. An old cotton t-shirt from college isn’t a great choice either since you’ll end up sopping wet in heavy cotton- yuck. One of these GAPFit shirts would do the trick nicely.

The final piece of the puzzle is knowing how to set up your spin bike so you get a great workout without hurting yourself or over exerting yourself. This short video shows you exacty how to set your seat and handlebars up:

And there you have it- the components to an awesome spin class. Cycle on! I know you can believe in yourself!

 (No sponsored brands in this post- none of these companies know who I am!)
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106 Miles Coming to You in 2012

Today I was supposed to be hobbling and whining and telling you that although it was really hard and it rained can you believe it seriously, not fair I made it 100 miles on my bike. 106 after the apparent construction sent the riders for a funny loop, which, you know, SUCKERS.

But I didn’t ride 100 miles on my bike, inside or out in the horrible, awful, slightly too cold misting rain. Instead I waited for my padded base layer tape to come so I an use stronger (skin ripping off tape without the base layer) tape to keep my knee cap in place and tentatively ride 5 miles, total. Which by my very complex calculations is 101 miles shorter than 106 I should have ridden.

Instead of riding 106 miles I had a few girlfriends over to watch Bridesmaids (more on that tomorrow) on Friday, had a lazy day with my husband on Saturday, watched a lot of football and made a big Sunday supper of grilled pork chops with a balsamic vinegar, apple juice and brown sugar gravy, roasted apples and sweet potatoes with orange zest and roasted brussel sprouts and green beans with garlic and salt and pepper. It was delicious. But it wasn’t the victory meal I’d envisioned (a juicy cheeseburger and an ice cream sundae at a nearby diner). I don’t have a stupid cheap medal and I don’t have bruises, blisters or soggy cycling clothes to show for the weekend.

And while I’m glad I haven’t done my knee any further damage, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t extremely disappointed. I suppose this means that I put it in that column of “things to do next year” along with planning another trip to Europe and finally getting a king sized bed in the master bedroom (SPACE OMFG, SPACE TO TURN OVER WITHOUT SQUISHING THE DOG) and drapes in the guest bedroom. Our guests are so *polite* about the streetlight that shines in that room, only to have it go out when the sun rises and illuminates the room with blinding rays of heat and melting, but I know that I should *probably* do something about that situation.

Next year.

I have a lot to do next year, don’t I?

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