Wednesday, July 10, 2013

2 Personal Bests and A Crazy Lady Eco Tip

The stars have aligned recently to allow me to spend more time on my bike. It's been really wonderful actually, and sorta makes me feel like I'm really on eternal vacation. It's also allowed me to set two new bike records in the past few days.


First record: I've ridden over 125 miles in the past week! 

I kinda sorta can't believe it. I guess the combination of a better bike and a more physically fit me has translated into longer rides. We're now averaging about 40 miles per ride and it doesn't actually seem that long anymore.



I am learning, however, that one really needs to work to stay hydrated on long hot summer rides.

Yesterday the official high was 97 degrees, though CatMan and I both saw temps pushing the triple digits at our homes. Any way you slice it, it was hot!



So, what did CatMan and I decide to do? In our infinite wisdom, we went for a 45 mile bike ride! Oy!

OK, perhaps it wasn't our best decision ever. This particular ride is one that seemed almost impossible to me just last year, but now it's one of our regular routes. It takes us up and over two of Denver's flood protection dams (think big, steep hills,) with a long, hot, shadeless stretch in between.

View from the top of Bear Creek Dam

I drank a total of 4 bottles full of water... that's 12 cups, or 3/4 of a gallon! Still, by mile 35 my head was pounding and I started to feel a bit like a wilted piece of lettuce.



We decided to stop and take a break, which we don't usually do, at a little cafe along the bike path. It was closed, but the drinking fountain and restrooms were open, so we sat down in the shade to catch our breaths and guzzle some water while we waited for a few blessed clouds to blow their way our direction.

Funky Flowers at the Bike Cafe

Anyhow, we made it home unscathed, but I think I probably drank a whole other gallon of water after I got home! Sorta remarkable but true. I think perhaps I should try to do a better job of hydration before the next ride rather than trying to replenish fluids once I'm already dehydrated.



So..... record number 2: I set a new personal best speed record of 38 miles per hour! (That's 61.1 kilometers per hour for those of you who speak metric.)



Riding fast is not necessarily a goal for me, but my little bike computer keeps track of speed so it's sorta fun to look down and see how fast you're going, especially when you're screaming down a big hill.

This was on the 4th of July. It was a bit hot so we decided to ride west to Morrison, which is near Red Rocks park. It's all uphill, but the temperature cools off as you gain elevation, so the extra work is totally worth it.

Anyhow, we got just about to the hogback, which is the first major ridge west of Denver, when a big, dark thundercloud blew in from the west. Not really wanting to get hit by lightning or caught in a hail storm, we decided that discretion was the better part of valor and high tailed it outta there.



So we were headed eastward on Morrison Road, which is one of the few busy streets that I actually enjoy riding on. It has a shoulder that's wider than a lane of traffic, and there's a state park all along the side of it so there are no side streets to contend with. Plus, it's nice, smooth pavement.

We were pedaling for all we were worth, trying to outrun the storm. It was right behind us though with fierce winds blowing us along and raindrops pelting us from behind. Then we hit "the hill" which is a stretch about the length of a football field with a very steep grade, probably around 10% or so.



The wind was whipping and I was riding the breaks the entire way down, so imagine my shock when I glanced at my bike computer and it said 38mph! I was sure I'd misread it, and that I was really only going 28mph, but when we finally screeched to a halt at the bottom of the hill I checked my maximum trip speed and sure enough it confirmed the amazing number.

Look, I have proof! OK... I know you can't really read that, but trust me, it says my maximum speed was 38mph.

Lordy! I'm sure glad I didn't crash, 'cause that definitely would have hurt!



OK, enough bike ride blathering... I promised you a Crazy Lady Eco Tip. I've sorta been thinking of starting a series of these. They're not gonna save the planet or anything, they're just funny quirky things I do to make my life a little easier, save a few pennies, and be a smidge nicer to the big blue marble that we call home.

So here's my first one: Bathe with your workout clothes.




I realize this is a little bit nuts, but when I come home from a long bike ride, I've gotten in the habit of just tossing my bike clothes into the tub with me. They're generally just sweaty, not really dirty, and they last much longer if you hand wash them rather than putting them through the machine.


Plus, it takes soooooo long to dirty enough clothes to fill my huge washing machine, that I'd need a ridiculous number of them if I was gonna wait until I had enough stuff to make a load.

So I just decided that it would be easier and quicker to wash them at the same time as I wash myself. It saves water and energy, and this way I always have clean clothes for my next ride.


It's sorta like rinsing your swimsuit in the shower or something, but I do give the dirty spots a good scrub with soap. Then I just let them drip dry.

Yes, that is the lovely carpeting in my bedroom. Hey! It's RETRO!

I told you it was crazy. :-) So that's about all the news from the funny farm.



How about you? Got any personal Bests or crazy eco tips to share?

36 comments :

  1. Sounds like some fantastic, if hot, cycle rides. I turned down the opportunity for a really long ride with hubby and kids on Sunday - too hot, too long and too hayfevery for me. They got through gallons of fluid too. Your eco tip makes a lot of sense, although I did think you were going to say you got into the bath tub wearing your cycling gear to wash it and you at the same time...

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    1. Ha! Well, I had considered bathing in them as opposed to just with them... but truth be told it's hard enough to peel those suckers off when they're hot and sweaty. I think they might permanently weld to my body if I got in the tub with them on! :-)

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  2. I thought she was wearing her clothes too. Either way, it works. I'm impressed that you can do those big hills in that kind of heat. You really are in shape. And that is some interesting carpet in your bedroom.

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    1. Isn't the orange floral carpeting lovely? It goes so nicely with the avocado green shag in the living room. There's actually oak hardwood underneath, and I keep thinking I should pull up the carpet and finish the floors, but then the reality of how much work it would be starts to sink in, and I decide I can live with the horrific carpeting for a few more years... Let's hope I'm not saying the same thing 40 years from now! :-)

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  3. Actually, this week I ran the farthest I've run so far this year. That's not saying much since I only recently recovered from a year-long ankle injury, but hey, you have to start where you are.

    I also drank a lot of water yesterday (12 glasses), what with the jog, the walk to pick up a CD rack left out for bulk trash pick-up after confirming that the boyfriend wanted it, and walking all around campus doing errands.

    I can do a load of laundry just about every day, so I probably won't be going for your tip--except maybe I should. I should check if any of my clothes smell bad and maybe bring the smelly ones in with me.

    My crazy eco tip is to walk for short errands like picking up a CD stand left out for bulk pick-up. The reason that's crazy is because it's so hot. So I will also recommend wearing a hat. At summer camp we had a rule that you had to wear a hat while canoeing (the only time besides at the swimming pool where we didn't have shade). One day I forgot mine but because I was a counselor, I was allowed to break the rule. I got a gigantic headache. So I highly recommend hat wearing in the heat to minimize the frying of your brain. (In addition to all the water, of course.)

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    1. Congratulations on the run! It's really hard to work back after an injury. I blew my knee out about 5 years ago and it took a LOOOOOONNG time to get back to where I felt like I could do things again.

      The hat thing is such good advice. I have a big straw hat that I got in Mexico with my Ex eons ago and I love it - except that it's a tad bit too big so it tends to blow off my head if a breeze comes up. Maybe I need to see if I can put a band inside it or attach a string or something so I can keep it on my head better. Any ideas?

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    2. I use a baseball cap with a hole in the back which I stick my ponytail through. The wind still sometimes grabs the front and yanks it off, but then usually my hair is still hanging onto it (ah, one of the advantages of big, frizzy wicked-witch hair). However, I'm not on a bike or on a mountain, so the mild freak-out when my hat almost comes off is not a danger to me.

      So for you, I recommend a bandana. This is what most of the kids wore at camp. It doesn't have the advantage of shading your eyes, but it does have the advantage that you can also wear a sweatband (made out of another bandana).

      The first time I wore a bandana tied around my forehead as a sweatband was when I was playing ultimate frisbee against an unknown team. I wore this to disguise myself as a good player, though I did not have the knee brace and they would quickly discover that I did not even have cleats. But I learned that it kept sweat from dripping into my eyes! Who knew it was practical?

      I don't have experience with straw hats and when biking I wear a helmet, so I don't have experience with anything else when biking.

      So, my only other advice is that lighter colors are more reflective and that the salt of my sweat leaves a mark, so ideally the hat will be washable. I now prefer the white baseball caps (or what my boyfriend calls "prole caps") that Target sells. I always thought the brim was made of cardboard, but maybe it's made of plastic because washing one a few times has not ruined it.

      Thanks for the congrats, but it's no harder than all the other times I started up jogging again after being lazy for no reason. Well, except for a tiny bit of added paranoia--ahem, caution--about really listening to my body.

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    3. Guess I didn't explain that very well. I wear a helmet with a visor when I cycle, the straw hat is for gardening and other outdoor stuff. I've tried the baseball cap thing, but that leaves the back of my neck exposed, which can be bad.

      But you've given me an interesting idea. Perhaps a bandana under the straw hat would help to keep it on. I'll have to experiment with that and see how it works! :-)

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    4. Somehow Harrison Ford's hat always stayed on in "Raiders of the Lost Ark." But I do better with a strap. Actually, my boyfriend does. I usually use the baseball cap (and sunscreen). Long hair, even in a ponytail, also helps protect the back of my neck.

      But if a bandana works (and also stops sweat!), that would be awesome. Good luck!

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    5. Thanks! Of course, since the monsoon arrived this week, I'm now much more worried about rain than sun! :-)

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  4. 38 mph?!! and I get freaked out at 22mph! Congrats!

    I'm definitely a fan of hand-washing clothes. I seem to run out of panties long before I run out of outfits and naturally only discover this at 10pm on worknights. In the sink they go. The only way I wash my swimsuit anymore is by wearing in my post-pool shower.

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    1. I'm slowly getting more comfortable with faster speeds. I'm glad that I eased into the road bike thing slowly, and didn't try to do the clipless pedals until I felt comfortable on the bike itself because it's sorta scary. Although the ride over the dams is one that we did shortly after I first got my road bike and I remember being totally freaked out on the backside of Bear Creek dam that time, and this time it was no big deal. So progress is being made! I don't think I'll be repeating that 38mph thing any time soon though! :-)

      Your comment about the panties made me laugh. I think I own about 50 pairs for that very reason! :-)

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  5. You are not crazy! Well, at least not in the conventional sense.... When I was a runner, I always brought my running clothes into the shower and washed them right then and there. I wash out my bathing suit in the shower after each swim too. Actually, I have an anti-chlorine obsession which means I take my goggles, cap, iPod, flip-flops, etc. to the sink and wash them before I pack my knapsack to head home. I coat my flippies and the bottom of my knapsack with anti-bacterial foam too! I fear athletes foot too.

    Do you freeze your water bottles before you ride? My husband does that. He also feels that you can't over hydrate. When he rides with his bike mate, he constantly stops to make sure she drinks water. You are right about wanting to stay hydrated. It is always nice when you can find spots along the way to refill your bottles. I am guessing you have two holders on your bike? If not, get a second one installed.

    You're ride sounds fun and the speed freaks me out too -- but you'll get used to it since you're riding a lot.

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    1. Well, at least I'm not the only "crazy lady" out there!

      At the moment I only have one bottle holder. I've been thinking of adding a second one, but it's a trade off. I don't really want to carry the extra weight, and since we generally stick to the greenway, there are plenty of places to fill up along the way. Freezing the bottle is a great idea though.

      I think for the moment we've decided that we should probably just not ride on really hot days, and go for evening rides instead or just wait until it cools off a bit.

      Hope The Big Guy is doing well with his recovery. :-)

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  6. Impressive (your bike speed, not your carpet)!

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    1. I think my carpet might actually qualify as "antique" at this point! What is it, 50 years to officially qualify? I'm sure if I wait long enough it will come back in style... maybe? At any rate, it does an excellent job of hiding cat barf (which, I suppose, is a double edged sword!) :-)

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    2. Oh, cat barf ... mine did it TWICE this morning. Fortunately it was on the steps to the basement which have crappy carpeting that I don't care about. A couple of years ago when I got my new car I had complimentary Sirius radio and I tuned into the children's station. There was a song--I don't remember who sang it--with the lyrics, "Did ya see, did ya see where the cat threw up? You know the cat threw up again! Did ya see, did ya see where the cat threw up? You'd better watch what you're stepping in!" Too stinkin' funny!

      I live in an older house and I totally get it about updating things--I know we need to paint our bedroom closet doors something other than the orangey wood color they currently are, but what a hassle. And I would have the same debate about wood floors--they are beautiful but my friends who have them don't like them (cold in the winter, less sound insulation, and my friends with pets say that carpeting hides a lot more pet hair than wood floors). Good luck figuring it out.

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    3. Oh my... I think I'm glad I've never heard that song. I fear it might get hopelessly stuck in my little brain. It sorta reminds me of the girl from friends singing the Smelly Cat song. "Smelly cat, smelly cat - what are they feeding you?"

      It will be interesting to see where I land in terms of the floors. Of course, the lazy option is to simply do nothing and hope that hideous orange floral prints and avocado green shag come back in style some day! :-)

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  7. Awh Cat, think of how lovely your floors will look when they're finished! Not to mention cleaner. I'm not a fan of carpet every since we took one up in our sitting room and the dirt that was compacted in it and underneath it was absolutely disgusting, even though it was hoovered at least twice a week! It'd make your life so much easier when all you have to do is give it a quick sweep!

    Congrats on the bike speed. What kind of bike are you using may I ask? I have this beautifully vintage bike that is most definitely not designed for anything except leisurely rides on a smooth, flat surface, which rules out my city since it's all hills! Also my fitness (or lack thereof) does not allow for me to go very far. Alas one day I will be a proper cyclist... :)

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    1. I have mixed feelings about carpets. On the one hand I totally agree that they're dirty and I'm afraid to even think what might be lurking beneath mine. On the other hand, I grew up in a home with hardwood floors, and in the winter time my feet really suffered with the cold.

      Originally, my plan was to make rag rugs to cover the entire house, but, ahem, that could take a half century at the rate I'm going. So I dunno... at this point it would be ridiculous to do anything since I've got a cat with a urinary "issue." I guess I'll just have to see how I feel about it once this episode is over.

      Anyhow, I have a carbon fiber road bike, it's a Ruby model made by Specialized. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-thbL_SQD3Q4/UEenfF3T-8I/AAAAAAAACmw/GbYK3mvc8x0/s400/ruby.jpg

      It wasn't cheap, but it's really the only thing I've spent any meaningful amount of money on over the past few years and I get soooo much enjoyment out of it that it was totally worth it.

      That being said, it's definitely not a bike that I'd want to use for everyday riding - I certainly wouldn't leave it locked up anywhere because it would be attractive for a thief to steal. It's designed for riding long distances, and riding fast - you have to wear special bike shoes and shorts.

      Anyhow, I think what's important is to have the right type of bike for the type of riding that you want to do. If hills are the main issue, they make all sorts of light weight aluminum mountain bikes, hybrids, and cruisers with very low gears that make the hills easier without breaking the bank, and without all the rigmarole of a full on road bike. Some even have shock absorbers in the seat post to smooth out the bumps!

      My advice is to find a bike that you feel comfortable riding, and that works for you in the here and now. You can always upgrade later if you outgrow it.

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    2. I understand where you're coming from. It's not nice getting out of bed onto a wood floor when you see snow outside. Although currently Ireland is experiencing some unnaturally hot weather, about 29C, so I'm loving the cool floors! As far as I'm concerned though, the good far outweighs the bad. But it's personal preference.

      I also hope your kitty cat is getting better. :)

      That's a gorgeous bike. Tbh I think I'd be far too terrified to cycle in my city. People just aren't nice to cyclists here and it's a terrifying position to be in! But I will cycle someday! I'll move somewhere more bike friendly and then I'll be one happy camper!

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    3. I totally understand fear of cars when you're on a bike! I'm slowly learning how to navigate it more safely, but it still frightens me.

      I'm really torn about the wood floors thing. I love the way the look, and being able to sweep instead of vacuum would be great. It's just the cold. Well, that plus CatMan HATES wood floors. Well... I guess I'll just continue to postpone the decision. My neighbor did get cool carpeting that's all made from recycled materials though, and it has no off-gassing, so that's a plus. Anyhow, we'll see how the stars align.

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    4. http://lamofootwear.com/index.php/women/bags-purses/lady-s-scuff.html <--- That'll solve your cold feet issue ;)

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    5. Ooooo... those look lovely. Unfortunately they also look like they'd make my feet sweat, and they they'd get cold again. It's a very tricky situation with me and feet! :-)

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    1. I know! I'm starting to see how bike racers get killed when they crash on a fast descent!

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  9. Wow, that is fast! I've only just started riding my bike again so have been riding slowly on the footpath (sidewalk). I used to have one of those speedos though, and I think my fastest speed was about 38km a hour!

    I like your eco tip. I wash things that can't be machine washed in the shower with me. It makes sense because then I can just hang them up in the shower to dry.

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    1. Ahhh... you're making me feel less crazy about the washing thing.

      Anyhow, I don't think there's anything wrong with riding slowly on the sidewalk. It's all a matter of perspective and what you're trying to accomplish! :-)

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  10. I think I've mentioned before that my favorite part of any bike ride is going downhill. :) They used to scare me when I was younger because everything seemed to be happening so quickly (and a fair number of falls), but it's fine now.

    Just like the other commenters, I thought you meant wearing your clothes in the shower until I read further, haha. I used to be the queen of handwashing in college just to avoid those awful coin operated machines in the dorm basement. But nowadays I only hand wash the essentials - my bathing suit and my sports bra (I only have one of each). Good tip!

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    1. Ooooo... I hated those awful coin-op machines in college. Plus, people would do terrible things like open the machine and pour beer on your laundry. At one point a friend and I decided that it was just hopeless, and started hauling our laundry to the next town over once every few weeks. It was SOOOOOO much nicer! There was a nice, CLEAN laundromat with hardly anybody in it! And no drunk frat boys either! :-)

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  11. Those are some pretty amazing personal records! I can't say I've broken any of mine lately. Workout clothes and bathing suits are all washed in the shower and hung up to dry here too. Our personal pool towels are just hung to dry for the week as well - I mean how dirty can you be after being in chlorinated water for hours? I throw everything in the washing machine once a week, otherwise I'd be doing at least one full load of laundry every single day - that's just a waste.

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    1. Oh, you're making me feel less crazy! And I totally agree about the towels. I've never understood the obsession with having to immediately wash everything that has touched human skin for a few minutes. :-)

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  12. I too thought you were going to say you showered with your clothes on, :-) Congrats on your new records. I don't think I would go any where on a bike in that heat and not as far as you did. I noticed your carpet, I would have ripped it out before I moved my stuff in to the house. You have much more patience (or is it tolerance?) than I do.

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    1. Ha! I think I'm just lazier than your average bear! Actually, when I first moved into the house I had much more pressing things to worry about than the ugly carpeting. There were places where the drywall had been ripped out and never replaced, there was a barely functional furnace that needed repairs, there was a deck that had fallen down leaving a sliding glass door that opened onto a 10 foot drop, and an old attached garage with a door that didn't shut fully so the cold air just blew straight into the house. Given all that, I decided I could live with the ugly carpets. And now, the prospect of draining the waterbed, moving the furniture and all the disruptions that would cause seems rather daunting. Maybe someday...

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  13. Nice job on the bike ride! I used to be into that more when I was dating my ex and he was really into riding his bike (mountain and road), but it turned out it really wasn't my thing. I have friends who when they get back from the beach, shower with their bikinis on. I just don't feel like it gets clean enough because I sweat a lot and it also has a lot of sand and sunscreen, but it seems to work well for them. I don't have any personal bests this month...more like a slow and steady workout program.

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    1. Well slow and steady is good! Personally, I can't fathom the whole concept of beach volleyball. I am SOOOOO not comfortable with the whole world seeing me in a bikini! Perhaps having never lived anywhere near a beach colors my view on this subject...

      And I can totally see where the sand would be an issue. The other day we got caught in a HUGE downpour and I was soaked to the skin and covered with a fair amount of dirt and mud by the time I got home. The water from that bath was practically black and it took a good while to clean the gunk out of the bottom of the tub after that little adventure! Thankfully I have a very fine strainer on the drain because I hate to think what that would have done to the pipes!

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