Beauty and the Beast

This is Beauty:


She is stunning. And fast and most of all, comfortable. I cannot believe how comfortable she is. She is the kind of comfortable that makes her feel like an extension of me while I am riding her, rather than feeling like I am fighting against her. I’ve thought about getting a road bike for about 2 yrs now, but this year I’ve actually been quite committed to cycling and it was a better time than any other.

Of course, there were many things that I said I’d never do. Like worry about cadence. Or use clipless pedals. I never even wanted to hear about them. But, while I still want to stick my fingers in my ears and holler “LALALALALAH” every time I hear the word “cadence,” The merits of clipless pedals seemed a bit more logical to me at this time. I figured if I was going to have the fancy road bike, I’d better learn how to ride it properly. So I got myself some shoes and clipless pedals as well. Of course, that means the first long ride on my new bike will also be a ride in which I attempt to stay upright while connected to my bike. I mean, these shoes, will be connected to these pedals:


And I was convinced that this would make me fall. Honestly, I managed to get all clipped in without even knowing it. At some point, before I wanted to, it happened. And it really wasn’t a big deal. The thing about clipless pedals is instead of feeling like you are pedaling seperate from the bike, it sorta feels like you are one with the bike. Amazing.

I didn’t fall. Not even close. I know it will probably happen at some point, but it didn’t happen today.

Sunday I’ll be taking a much longer and hillier ride. I am not sure exactly how long it will be, but I am eager to give a road cyclist ride a try!

Cycling and other stuff

Wow, it has been a full week since I got a ride in. Funny how getting back into a routine with Bug causes my own routines to languish. We had a taco ride planned on Thursday, but we had very severe storms and had to stay home. Turned out that was the best idea ever, as the trail and the town we stop in were hit the hardest from those storms. Tons of damage pictures coming out of that area.

Today was the corporate cycling challenge, and I had signed up for the 42 mile route. I was assuming I’d be basically doing this on my own, but my friend Grant, an up and coming new cyclist in our group, did decide he could give the 42 miler a shot. He wasn’t convinced he could do 42 miles or hills, but I was convinced he could. We set out early this morning. First big hill gave Grant a run for his money, but by the halfway point he had become one with his shifting and was able to toast me on some of those hills from then on out. It is nice to have yet another cycling partner who seems to enjoy some hilly riding. I can use all the company I can get!  We did the entire ride, with stops, within 4 hours which is an excellent first long ride!

When I got home, I was a little bit jello like, so I sat on the couch and knit on some socks I’ve been working on for over 2 months now. They are for Nick, and he’s been eager to receive them as he has seen the in progress pictures and loves the color. These are malabrigo sock yarn socks, done in my own pattern, toe up, with afterthought heel. Feels great to have them done. I still need to work on my commission knit, but I am at a stopping point on the sleeve as it seems too wide. I’ll check with the recipient tomorrow and then take it from there.

Hopefully I can get a better picture of these once Nick receives them!  Boy, I could really go for a burger about now!

The Players. Part 2

Of course Bug would be a major player in my new endeavor! This is Bug with her tug a bug. Notice her awesome bike shorts and jersey, her jersey is decorated most appropriately. With lady bugs. Sarah, Grant, Bug, and I set out for a ride yesterday evening. We had it in mind to do about 12 miles. This was farther than Bug had ever pedaled before. Prior to this, she had pedaled 8 miles with my mom.


At about 7 miles, we stopped for dinner. Bug pedals for ice cream!


In the end, we completed 15 miles of biking, this is Bug feeling triumphant. She did a great job, and didn’t complain about speed or about being sore. Sarah watched her carefully, she was a good help for about 10 of those 15 miles, and then I had to do all the rest of the work.


I knew that towing the bug would probably continue to help me build muscle during this training process, but I had no idea just how much. Today is the first day this year that I have been sore after a ride. Even after the first day of Ragbrai, my legs were sore but not tired. Now, my legs and arms hurt. It takes concentration and endurance just to keep us both upright and adjust to the constantly moving bike. Then there is the power needed to pedal an additional 60 pounds, sometimes without help. Training with Bug is going to be serious business! Thankfully it seems that it will be serious business that Bug will enjoy. Hoping to get her out on the bike again on Tuesday.

Knitting and Spinning updates

I know there hasn’t been much lately, but I have been working on a few things in a limited manner.

The other night, instead of riding, Sarah decided it would be a night to have pizza and watch a show. And I obliged. While there, I did a little spinning on the Sepia fleece. I now have one full bobbin!

While at work, I’ve been working on the Rick socks from Sock Innovation. These are truly beautiful socks and I am loving knitting them. Excellent pattern!

I’ve cast on the second sock and will continue working on it at work.

Then, in commission knitting news, I’ve been commissioned to knit a plain, natural color sweater. It may be boring work and slow going, but the results look awfully nice!

Tonight is a bike ride night. Tomorrow is a bike ride day. I doubt there will be much to show you in the crafting department for quite a while!

Obstacle Course

Last Sunday, during a lovely 28 mile ride on the Wabash Trace to Silver City, Mary, Stella, and I decided to plan a 44 mile ride the next week. We decided to go all the way to Malvern on the Trace. Stella had said there were some fun things to see, and I was eager to see them. Saturday night we had some major storms roll through, but Sunday dawned cool and beautiful and we started our ride at 7a.m. Mary and I got on the trail, but to our surprise, there were trees to portage!


The storm had knocked 7 trees right over the trail, so there was a lot of stopping and starting in those initial miles. A lot of our ride was cooperation that looked like below. Stella and Mary lifting Mary’s bike over a dead tree.



The ride was wonderful even so. The day couldn’t have been more beautiful, the company fantastic, and 44 miles while long, felt really really good. We saw all manner of fun things. Deer, a baby coyote laying on the trail, lots of other cyclists and runners, and I have one picture I am saving for another day. We had lunch at a sub and ice cream shop in Silver City. We met a lovely older gentleman there and we talked to him during our time there. We also have ice cream sundaes. Well deserved on such a lengthy ride!


A Ride With a View



Today’s ladies ride was the long version. So worth it for the view of the Missouri River we got!  Lots of hills which I love, and lots of lovely women riding.

After I got home I was able to get the lawn trimmed before the second planned ride. Then I met up with OrangeKathy in order to do a little more road bike test riding. I tried out some women specific frames as well as some men’s frames. Since I am tall, I thought this would be a wise thing to do. The reach is far too long for me to be riding a men’s bike, so I took a women’s specific bike out for a longer ride. It was a bit….disappointing. There were issues with the size of the handlebars and this created pain in my neck, back, shoulders, wrists, hands, even down into my knuckles. Yep, it was fast. But that doesn’t mean I liked it!

Tomorrow we have a 7 a.m. 44 mile ride on the Wabash Trace planned. Last week we made it down to Silver City. This week we fly on by to Malvern. I am really really looking forward to hanging out with the girls and getting my miles in.

Knitterly Update

As I have mentioned, I have not been knitting much at all. In fact, I do believe the projects I am about to show  you were completed last weekend, I just didn’t have time to photograph them once they were done. And no, I have no finished objects for you.

The first is the front of my Starmore sweater in progress. The yarn is blackwater abbey which I picked up at stitches midwest on my first trip there. Long ago now. Maybe 2009? This has been on the needles since November last year, so it is fantastic to see any little progress on it.  The front is done, but I have not cast on the back.

The second project is Tsock Tsarina’s oddly constructed Fronkenshteek sock. I started it last weekend because I knew it would bug me until I gave it a try. The parts I have completed are the cuffs, and the upper intertubez. Yarn is Rio de la Plata sock yarn. I was hoping for longer color stripes like handspun, but I didn’t get that, and had no interest in ripping and balling up my handspun, so there you have it.

Lesson Learned

When our friendly neighborhood meteorologist decides not to ride on a particular night due to potential rain, rather than tease him about being a wimp, I should listen. Lesson learned.

At the trail head it was sprinkling but barely. The trail was dry and it was cooler than it had been in a long time, so we decided to ride. We were all there, why not?

A little over halfway through, we began to see the error of our ways. It was raining harder, the trail was muddy and mushy, and we spent the last portion of the trail just trying to keep our bikes upright through the slop. At some point we just had to let go of the fact that we were getting dirty and go with it. Otherwise it was just too annoying. There was no way to make it better. So, of course, pictures had to be taken!


As you can see, I am muddy right up my back, into my hair, and even my helmet is muddy. I figure some people pay good money for mud treatments, mine was free. Mud was Iowa White courtesy of the Wabash Trace.

In the end we only got 10 miles of riding done. We managed to organize a bikeflight back to the trail head. I was feeling fortunate because I keep an old blanket in the car, so I didn’t destroy my seats.

Once I got home, I had to empty my bike bag, and then use the outside hose to wash off the bag, water bottles, shoes, socks, then take an outdoor shower before I got inside to take an indoor shower. What a mess! What a good little adventure!

Test Riding


I’ve been considering a road bike for a couple of years now. The Beast is fine for an all around bike, but with its issues, I thought that supplimenting it with a road bike would be a perfect compliment. So, I am in the process of test riding some bikes. I’ve been out test riding, but really felt the need to get a longer ride under my belt to make sure my hands and wrists are not bothered by the road bike positioning.

So, yesterday evening I had OrangeKathy meet me at our favorite bike shop so we could take a road bike out for a longer spin. It took a little while to realize that every move I made on the bike made me unstable. I will also have a lot to learn about shifting. But it also became very very clear that all I’ve been doing on my Beast is building muscles….just for this moment! In fact, the difference was so striking that I began to understand why everyone told me I could not take the Beast on the first day of RAGBRAI, a warning I ignored. On this type of bike….I am zippy!

The Players, part 1


Let me introduce you to player #1 in my journey to cyclist. This is The Beast. It is a GT Slipstream from 1999ish? I think? They stopped making them soon after. This is purely a comfort bike, a cruiser. Best suited for riding the boardwalk on the beach. Why do I have it? Because when I purchased it, I had a terrible time with my hands and wrists. tendonitis made my hands ache, hurt, or fall asleep on a mountain or road bike. Even a hybrid put too much pressure on my hands at that time. So I spent what was a goodly amount of money for a young woman newly out in the workforce for this bike. Consequently, The Beast has a ton of wonderful memories attached to it. Many of them with my Mom, who is the person who gave me the love of biking in the first place. But that is a post for another day.

The Beast is old. Heavy. Not built for the type of biking I am currently doing. But I do it anyhow. The major problem is that the upright positioning of this bike puts all the pressure on my lower back, and then I end up with a very sore back. I then start to compensate by pulling myself off the bike seat, and end up with sore wrists for overcompensating. She has 21 gears, but I never use the bottom 7 anymore. Ever. Even on day 1 of RAGBRAI and all those hills. She is geared low, and so once I hit 18 mph, I am just spinning for no reason. She has her frustrations. But, The Beast will continue to be a major player because she is my bike. She is the tool that I have for the job. And, she may be a Beast, but she is a trusty Beast.

Tonight we took a 15 mile bike ride on the Keystone at 8:30 pm. This helped with the oppressive heat, even though we were in the dark for half of it. It is ok, the Beast is fully decked out with lights of various sorts, so riding in the dark is no problem at all for her!


OK friends. You can clearly see I am not posting much in the way of crafts. The honest truth is I don’t seem to have much in me at the moment. I want to bike. I am motivated to bike. I want to be outdoors even in the oppressive heat and humidity. The first day of RAGBRAI changed everything for me, even my attitude toward myself.

So…rather than a complete failure to post, I’d like to take you on a journey. A journey of the transition of Shells  from “fat asthmatic who likes to ride a bike sometimes” to cyclist.

I have 6 consecutive days of biking planned from tonight on as long as the weather holds. I will blog about it. I might even throw in a couple pictures of knitting, but I will make no assurances of such.

I, too, can become a cyclist.