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Posts Tagged ‘quincy bicycle club’

This is what spring looks like to me!

This is what spring looks like to me!

Hey there, Adventurers!

Can you feel it?  Spring is in the air and it’s time to ramp up the activity level!   I’m just so excited I can’t hardly take it!

Personally, I’m gearing up for TWO half marathons in the next 3 weeks.   I’m going to Run The Bluegrass in Lexington, Kentucky on Easter weekend and then the Allerton Trails Half Marathon on April 6th in Monticello, IL (near Decatur, IL).  If you’re looking for some last minute running plans, you can still get in on either of these events.  The Allerton event is especially nice because, even at this late date, sign up is only $40 for the half marathon or $30 for the 10K.

CLICK ME!! :)

CLICK ME!! 🙂

How am I going to get through 2 half marathons on back-to-back weekends, you ask?  With help from my Adventure Foot Sponsors, of course!  You have probably heard the news by now that I’m an ambassador for Nuun Hydration, but I’m also adding a second sponsor to the blog roll this week!  I’m pleased to bring you the very best energy gel on the market:  V-Fuel Endurance Gel!

CLICK ME, TOO! :)

CLICK ME, TOO! 🙂

V-Fuel is a Colorado based company, and they’re flipping the script on regular old Gu and have created a true endurance fuel that tastes good and keeps my tummy feeling good too (regular users of Gu will catch my meaning).  I’m going to write a full product review on both Nuun and V-Fuel in the near future- so stay tuned.  Even better: I’m planning a CONTEST for April where you could win product or gear from my sponsors! Woo hoo!

Heartland Road Runners Club is in full swing right now, but there’s still plenty of time to start running for Spring.   Come check out “Road Runners After Dark” if you want a taste of how lovely running with the club can be.  RRAD meets at a restaurant every Tuesday night for a fun, social run.  No runner left behind, we promise!  For the month of March, we will be meeting at Kelly’s Restaurant in Quincy.  Running starts promptly at 6:15.

I simply do not get tired of this photo of Jackie Joyner Kersee  handing me a medal at Bridge The Gap.

I simply do not get tired of this photo of Jackie Joyner Kersee handing me a medal at Bridge The Gap.

And as long as you’re running, you should plan on signing up for Quincy’s biggest running event, Bridge the Gap to Health Race!  This race, now in its 13th year, supports the MedAssist program.  MedAssist helps low income patients afford prescription medications.  The race will once again be marshaled by Olympic Gold Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee.  If you’ve never been handed a medal by an Olympian, now is your chance!  There are a ton of options for this race including a walking or running half marathon, walking or running 10K and a running 5K.  There will also be a 5K Leisure Walk which starts an hour after the other races start.

Best day ever?!! Greg Davis of Madison Davis Bicycles and I pose by my brand new Trek Madone!

Best day ever?!! Greg Davis of Madison Davis Bicycles and I pose by my brand new Trek Madone!

And, saving perhaps the best for last: It’s BIKE SEASON!  I’m so darned excited about starting to really rack up the miles on my bike, I can’t even contain myself.  If you’re new to cycling, I suggest you try out the Quincy Bike Club’s Thursday night group.  This group will start meeting on April 4th.  The park which it meets at is TBD- I’ll keep you posted.   Once again this year I’ll be leading “Wednesday Night B Group.”  B-Group for 2013 will B a medium to medium/fast paced ride and I’m going to work in some training exercises  for all of us.  Maybe one week we’ll work out on some hill repeats. Maybe one week  we’ll do some flat sprints.  I don’t know. We’re going to be better cyclists for our work on Wednesday B Group!   Wednesday A and B group (A Group= really fast and experienced riders) will both leave from Madison Park Shelter House at 6 pm.  The first B group will meet April 3.  I will bring Easter candy as a bribe.

OH! And don’t forget to attend the Grand Opening celebration at Madison Davis Bicycles.  It’s April 11th at 6 pm.  The new shop is absolutely gorgeous and Greg is planning some great sales to kick it off.  You won’t want to miss it.

And Adventure Foot Readers- don’t miss this great spring sale from my blog sponsor, Nuun Hydration! $18 for a 4 pack of Nuun plus a water bottle (most of the 4 packs are normally $24 without a water bottle, so yeah. Stock up now.). It’s a great deal!

Click here for an awesome sale on Nuun!

Click here for an awesome sale on Nuun!

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Best day ever?!! Greg Davis and I pose by my brand new Trek Madone!

Best day ever?!! Greg Davis and I pose by my brand new Trek Madone!

I’ve been trying to think of a good analogy about buying a bike since last night, and the best I’ve come up with is shoes.  I briefly entertained one based on eating spaghetti at Fazolis versus eating spaghetti in Italy, but it fell apart after I ate dinner and was no longer so fixated on food.  So wait, what was I saying? Oh yeah…

Buying a bike is a lot like buying shoes.  Maybe you stroll past the clearance rack and you see a cute pair of pumps at 80% off and they’re not your size but they’re kinda close so you buy them.  Then you wear them to the wedding reception and you’re miserable all night. By the time the DJ starts playing “Old Time Rock and Roll,” your “great buy” shoes are under the table and you’re wearing a hole in your pantyhose.  And the shoes?  They’re going straight to the back of your closet never to be seen again.

Listen, I understand the temptation to look for a used bike or to go out to Walmart and buy something for $200.   I really do.  My first bike as an adult was bought second hand, but as it happens, I just got extremely lucky and could make it work for a while.  When I bought it though, I didn’t know what a difference the right bike could make.

It's me and my bike again! Notice the matching Bontrager jersey!

It’s me and my bike again! Notice the matching Bontrager jersey!

The past couple of weeks, at least 4 different people have asked me to be on the lookout for used bikes for them.  I’m not saying there might not be a decent used bike out there for all of you, but buying used is much harder than buying new if you really want to get lots of use out of your new bike.  If you don’t want to banish your bike to the back of your garage like a pair of clearance shoes to the back of your closet, you’ve got to find a bike that fits YOU!

Let’s put it in perspective.  I rode my bike 2500 miles last year.  If I average 15 mph, hat’s 166 hours in the saddle.  6.94 DAYS on my bike.  Do you think I could have done that on a bike if it wasn’t super comfortable and built for me?!?!

Even if you don’t plan on riding thousands of miles, it’s easy to see you’ll get more enjoyment and more use out of a bike that works with your body instead of against it.

Your best bet is to go to a bike shop with knowledgeable people and learn about what type of bike you should buy.  There are two shops here in Quincy.  My personal endorsement goes to Madison Davis, a Trek retailer.   Gamemasters also has a nice department though, and carries Specialized bikes.

People can (and have) written whole books on choosing the right bike, but let me give you my two cent guide on what you need to do if you want to start riding road with me this year.

  1. I organized a Bridge to Bridge (Quincy to Hannibal and back) ride for the 4th of July, and despite the high temps, attendance was GREAT!  I'm so happy so many people came out for this and I hope we do it again next year!

    I organized a Bridge to Bridge (Quincy to Hannibal and back) ride for the 4th of July, and despite the high temps, attendance was GREAT! I’m so happy so many people came out for this and I hope we do it again next year!

    Get measured.  DO NOT just go a-Googling and find some height chart on the internet.  Your friendly bike shop will measure you for free and will tell you what size you need.  It’s worth noting that different brands measure bikes in different ways.  For example, I ride a 52 cm Trek or a Medium Women’s Specialized.

  2. Think about your goals.  Are you going to ride some 10-20 mile routes or do you hope to work your way up to riding centuries (100 miles)?  Do you want to be able to tow cargo and camp?  Or do you want to race and try triathlons?  If you’re just club riding and aren’t going super long distances,  things like carbon seat posts (which reduce road noise) might not really be worth the extra cost for you.  Buy the options you need!
  3.  Think about your budget.  Yes, I know. This is the least fun part.  If my budget was unlimited, I’d buy a beautiful Trek Project One Domane and I would customize the paint job myself and have all the bells and whistles.  But alas, my pocketbook has limits.
  4. Are you a lady???  In road bikes, the main differences in a women’s specific bike are the length of the top tube (from your seat post to your handle bars) and the angle at which you sit on the bike.   There are very good graphics on the Trek website that illustrate this. The advantage to a women’s fit bike is that you won’t be reaching as far to the handle bars and therefore will put less strain on your back and shoulders.  If you’ve got a nice long torso, this might not be an issue for you, but for me, the women’s fit really feels nice.  The disadvantages of women’s design are that the women’s bike geometry isn’t as aggressive (which is important to racers) and they tend to feature pastel colors or flower graphics.   The girly color/graphic package is a whole other rant though.
  5. Don’t fear the saddle!  I’ve seen it before.  People take one look at those skinny, rock hard saddles on road bikes and demand that it’s switched out to something with gel in it.  Don’t do it, my friend!  I should probably write a whole other blog post about saddles, but the short story is: they can be measured too.   You sit your cute little bottom on a piece of foam, the foam measures your sit bones, and then you get the right size saddle for you.  Let the bike shop show you how to position your saddle for maximum comfort and in just a few rides, you’ll like a road bike saddle too.
  6. Understand your bike and what it’s made of.  I suggest this blog post which I wrote last year on the subject!
I never get tired of bike pictures.

I never get tired of bike pictures.

In conclusion- even if you don’t buy a new bike, start your research by looking at new bikes.  If you know what you want is a Trek 1.2 in 54 cm, you can go look for that bike.  Then you can do your comparison pricing and see if it’s worthwhile to buy used.

If you’re wondering about my bike and the thought process I went through to buy it…

I have a Trek 3.1 WSD Madone.  I bought it because:

  1. It’s an entry level carbon bike.  Carbon is a tough material and it’s good at reducing road noise.  It’s lighter than aluminum and since I knew I’d be a long distance rider, I thought carbon was the right choice for me.
  2. I almost bought a Lexa, which is an aluminum bike with carbon seat posts and forks. I probably would have been happy on this bike too (and would have saved some money) but I knew I loved to cycle by this point because I had already put over 1000 miles on a steel bike.  So, I decided I wanted to get the best I could afford so that I wouldn’t want to upgrade in just a few years.  I wanted something that could grow with me.
  3. My bike has 105 Shimano shifters/derauillers etc.  That’s the middle of the Shimano line.  I don’t feel like I’m a biker who has to count every little ounce yet, so I didn’t want to upgrade to the Ultegra or Dura-Ace level sets, which are extremely light weight but also very pricey.
  4. I’ve got a short torso, so Women’s Specific Design was the right choice for me.  It’s plenty aggressive for the type of riding I do.
  5. The base price of the bike I picked is right around $2000.  After adding pedals, shoes, a helmet, computer, etc, it was more of course, but I didn’t purchase all of the accessories all at once.  It’s worth it in the long run!
  6. Trek and Specialized (and other major brands) often offer financing on bikes, and I took advantage of that.  I believe I had zero interest for 12 months or something.  It was a great deal.
  7. Most importantly: I have never regretted a dime I spent on buying the right bike. I love The Dream Machine! 
This is the 2013 Lexa.  It's a nice bike!

This is the 2013 Lexa. It’s a nice bike!

If I had to make a recommendation for a good all-around bike at a good price for anyone just getting started, I think I would recommend the Trek 1.2 (called a Lexa for women).  It’s their aluminum road bike with carbon fork and seat post and it’s a good compromise between the features of a more expensive full carbon bike and the aluminum frame.  (The Specialized equivalent is called an Allez. Other brands make something similar.  Felt and Giant are good brands to check out but you can’t buy them locally.)  The 1.2 is a great quality bike you can ride in the club rides, take on a triathlon, or commute to work on.  The 1.2 list price is $999 (and the 1.1 is $799.  This is a solid aluminum bike.)

So, there you have it.  Buy a bike! Come ride with me!!  I PROMISE cycling will make you smile.

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Remember these?

Remember these?

My friend Doug calls them my Mad Lib Friends.

“I know a (girl/guy) who lives in (insert a location) who does (insert an unusual hobby or occupation.)

I can’t remember the friend or occupation that I mentioned that started the phenomenon, but I notice myself doing it a lot since he pointed it out.

“I know a guy in Georgia that runs 500 mile foot races and lives on the Appalachian Trail.” 

“I know a couple in Montana who rode their bikes past a herd of Bison while watching a geyser erupt.”

“I know a girl in California who works for the USGS determining worst case scenarios for Cascade volcano eruptions.”

“I know an engineer in Peoria who raises bees and chickens and helped me install my water heater.”   

“I know a dude in Memphis who looks like a friendlier version of Colonel Sanders and makes a living as a horologist.”

It’s not that I feel the need to name drop or anything.  It’s that I’ve been truly blessed to have an eclectic group of friends and acquaintances with incredibly interesting lives.  I love to meet people who are passionate about something- poetry, rafting, knitting, music, cycling… it really doesn’t matter to me.  Any time someone is excited about their hobby and wants to share it with me, I’m just thrilled. I’m curious.  I’m ready for adventure!

It was in the company one of my “Mad Lib Friends” that I found myself this Tuesday evening.

“I know a doctor in Quincy who likes to cycle, jam on his guitar, and who is a pilot with his own plane.”

One of our Second String jam sessions. L-R is Ivan, Justin Sievert, Tim Smith, me and Rodney Hart.

One of our Second String jam sessions. L-R is Ivan, Justin Sievert, Tim Smith, me and Rodney Hart.

My friend Tim is a physical therapist by trade and a downright interesting guy by nature. I think we first met in the Quincy Bicycle Club on one of the larger group rides, but lately he’s been hanging out with my husband and I at our local music store’s jam sessions.   The loose jam sessions include musicians of all skill-levels.  We gather and the Second String Music store comes alive with classic rock, oldies, country and contemporary music.  Everyone plays and sings and has a great time.

Sometime during one of the great conversations that a pause in a jam session tends to facilitate, Tim and I got talking about ourselves and he told me he was a pilot and he’d recently gone in with some other friends and bought a plane.  I lit up with interest and explained that during college, I’d had the opportunity to ride with the Civil Air Patrol and learn a little about flying.  I’d always wanted to complete more formal training and get a license.

That’s why, late Tuesday afternoon when Tim sent me a message that said, “I’m taking the plane up- feel like going for a flight?” I nearly fell out of my work chair trying to type, “yessssssss!”

Tim and I stand next to his Cherokee

Tim and I stand next to his Cherokee

We met out at the airport after work in the cold, crisp early evening and I watched with interest as Tim went through the preflight checklist.  It’s been since 2002 that I flew with the CAP, but each time he’d mention a term, a little bell would go off in my head signaling, “Oh yeah, I remember that!”  VORs and headings, air speed indicators, trim, run-up… the words swam around my head and tried to reassemble themselves after a decade of rust.

(On a related note… can it really have been ten years since 2002?)

Pretty soon the preflight checklist was done, the propeller was cycled and we were headed down runway 3-1.

I was likely grinning like an idiot (as I’m apt to do) but I could tell Tim was just as excited to break the bonds of earth for a moment and get out of town.  Once he leveled the plane off around 3,000 feet, he said, “Okay, take her where you want to go!”

Quincy Regional Airport

Quincy Regional Airport

At first, I was uncharacteristically nervous and I daintily turned the plane towards the river.  It was a windy night and the plane danced around a little when the wind caught it right and I kept searching my mind for the things I used to know.

I asked lots of questions about what we were seeing on the dials and Tim was happy to explain.  He especially enjoyed showing me all the awesome tricks his Garmin could do- like bringing up nearest airfields, pointing us directly to where we wanted to go, and even showing glide plains for landings with poor visibility.

(Another aside: in 2002, the Cessna that I flew in had a GPS unit but it was nowhere near as cool as this Garmin.  Back then, the GPS pretty just displayed point A to point B.  Isn’t technology grand?!)

In no time at all, Tim and I had arrived somewhere over Hannibal, MO and he challenged me to spot the airfield.  Once the beacon was in sight, he pressed the call button on the steering yolk and “lit the runway.”  Evidently at uncontrolled airports, the major runway lights don’t stay on all the time, and a pilot can turn them on from the air.  It was like the coolest version ever of The Clapper!

(ooooh… another dated reference. Remember? “Clap on! Clap off! Clap on, clap off- the clapper!”  *sigh* This blog is making me feel old.)

We left Hannibal airspace and decided our next destination would be Pittsfield, IL.  Tim deftly turned the little craft to the northeast and we rolled through the crystal sky right facing the constellations of Orion and Gemini.

Orion the Hunter

Orion the Hunter

I pointed out the constellations, the Andromeda galaxy and Jupiter and after a while Tim asked how I knew all of these things.  And I replied simply, “Well, I love science!”

The rest of the flight continued on like that. Tim taught me more about flying, I taught him more about astronomy, and we soon were headed home.  As he circled around the airport, my mind circled around an idea I’d always known but had never really fleshed out.  By the time he called out, “Quincy traffic, Cherokee 16253 headed on final approach runway 3-1 (?) Full stop, Quincy,” I had it figured out.  It’s the whole key to my Adventure Foot.

People are really interesting!

I know that doesn’t sound like a groundbreaking idea, but let me explain.

Whether it’s Tim and his plane, David and his bees, Clint and Ryan taking me rappelling, my friend Cindy and yoga (blog coming soon…), or any other of the many people who I’ve had the pleasure of sharing an activity with, they all have one thing in common: they are passionate about something.  And passionate people are always passionate about sharing their favorite adventure with anyone who wants to learn.

Which brings me to my last point before this rambling gets out of hand: if there’s just one purpose to this blog it’s to show you how much fun it can be to take your Adventure Foot out the door and try something new.  Don’t let excuses or fear stop you from going. 

People, for example, will say to me that all of the cycling looks really fun but they know that I cycle hundreds of miles sometimes, so they don’t want to go out and try it with me for fear that they’ll be no good.  Don’t be silly!  It wasn’t that long ago that I got my first bike as an adult.  And I’d love to show you why cycling is the best thing that ever happened to wheels! Just because I can ride a long way doesn’t mean I can’t go for a leisurely ride with you sometime.  And maybe you’ll love it as much as I do and you’ll get great and someday you’ll take a beginner out and… well, you see where this is going.

So make it a New Year’s resolution! Try new things! Have an adventure!  And talk to people… because they’re all interesting and have a lot to teach you!

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Justin, Jim and I will all be doing RAGBRAI this year. This will be Jim’s 5th RAGBRAI- he’s 73. Also: he’s awesome.

So it’s the Friday before RAGBRAI- The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa- the weeklong trip now in its 40th year, and all week I’ve been trying to think of what to say on my blog as I embark on the journey.

Most of the last week has been spent trying to figure out how to deal with the heat on this ride.  My hopes were for mid-eighties during the ride and sixties at night, but that’s not going to be the case.  The 10 day forecast now includes the entirety of the ride and every single day’s high temp starts with a 9 and ends with a heat advisory.  I’ve ridden in high temps before and survived; in fact, one of our training rides had a heat index of 115.  That’s not the problem.  The problem is sleeping at night in a stifling hot tent when it’s still 90 at 10 pm and then getting up the next day to do it all over again.  I’d say in order to perform my best, I really need to recover with a good night’s sleep.  We’re doing everything we can to prepare, including bringing fans for the tent, but I have the feeling sleep is going to be tough at times.

RAGBRAI Map 2012

The route itself is going to be a challenge of course.  The quick overview is:

Sunday: Sioux Center to Cherokee, 54 miles, 1675 ft of climb

Monday: Cherokee to Lake view, 62 miles, 2173 ft of climb

Tuesday: Lake View to Webster City: 81.2 miles, 1657ft of climb

Wednesday: Webster City to Marshalltown: 77 miles 1,997 ft of climb

Thursday: Marshalltown to Cedar Rapids: 84.5 miles 3576 ft of climb

Friday: Cedar Rapids to Anamosa: 42.2 miles 1907 ft of climb

Saturday: Anamosa to Clinton 69.4 miles 2,811 ft of climb

The standout as “Toughest Day” is already looking like the stretch from Marshalltown to Cedar Rapids.  Besides having the longest mileage and far and away the most climbing, it looks to be the day with the highest predicted temperatures. At least at the end of this day I can look forward to the Party on the Island; Cedar Rapids is throwing a big celebration for RAGBRAI’s 40th Anniversary and is featuring the band Counting Crows on the main stage!

The stretch from Lakeview to Webster City also is making a good case for possible “Toughest Day” contention.  This day is the one where you have the option to do the Karras Loop.  Karras is a tack on loop that adds enough mileage to give you a full century (100 mile) day.  This particular loop features 2 enormous climbs out of the Des Moines River Valley and is billed as the toughest Karras ever.  Riders who take on the loop and succeed earn a patch and a lot of pride.  We’ll just have to see how we’re doing when we get there.

It’s not all worry for me though.  I’m very much looking forward to getting out of the office, unplugging, and seeing Iowa again.  My friends Jim Cate, Jeff Spencer and David Mochnig are joining myself and my husband for the trip.  We’re going with the Keokuk, Iowa Bike Club- which has been organizing this group for many, many years now and seem to really know how to plan for every eventuality.   I’m also looking forward to seeing friends on the road including Marinan, Scott, and Jen, who all cycled the Tour of the Mississippi River Valley event with me this year.

One of the things I’m really looking forward to is the food.  There’s no excuse like riding 500 miles to eat… well … pretty much whatever you want.  What do I want? Pie, mostly.  Lots of pie.

Photo Credit Christopher Gannon/The Des Moines Register

My hopes for the trip are kind of simple.  I hope everyone, first and foremost, rides safe.  There will be a ton of riders and a lot of hazards, and I wish for a RAGBRAI free of injury and flat tires.  I hope that the sun is tempered with clouds and a beautiful tailwind to push us across the Hawkeye state.  I hope the food is as good as I’ve heard, and I hope that we take the time to stop and enjoy it.  I am confident I’ll have fun with my friends and that I’ll make some new ones.  I hope that when pedaling gets hard friends will lift me up, and I hope I can do the same for them. I also hope I don’t get to cranky about camping and I apologize in advance if I do.

I was just commenting to a friend today about the interesting nature of club sports like running or cycling.  You train with friends, you ride with friends and there is always someone experienced to learn from close at hand, but when the rubber meets the road, every pedal stroke or footfall belongs to you.  Nobody is getting my bike across Iowa but me.  But at the end, if I can do this, it’s going to be a goal that was 20 years in the making and one I can really be proud of.

Now listen, I’m not making any promises, but since we should be hitting the road early and arriving midday at our destination most days, I am planning on doing some mini-blogging from my iphone in my spare time.  Conditions, charging my phone, and distractions like pie may change that, but I’d really love it if you guys followed along next week for updates.  And I always appreciate comments on my blog, but I would especially like them while we’re out on the road.

Only one way to end this blog:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4ANP8g8wrE

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The sky didn’t look bad behind us at the beginning of the ride.

Here’s an adventure blog about what *not* to do.

A few weeks ago, the Quincy Bicycle Club put together a little ride from Hull, IL to Payson, IL and back.  It wasn’t a big deal- just a 35 mile loop (or something like that) was planned.  Anyway, we packed up the car, headed to the starting point, and got on the road with about 25 other riders.  The forecast called for wind and a 20% chance of scattered thunderstorms, but that left an 80% chance that we’d have no problem.

You can see where this story is going.

The ride to Payson was windy but uneventful, and I enjoyed hitting the road with my friends Karen, Jim, Rich, Ann and more.  We did our usual thing, chatting and knocking out miles, and we were in Payson in no time.  I went into the little café where we stopped to get some ice for my water bottles and to use the restroom, and that’s when the mistake was made.

You see, off to the north, the sky had turned that foreboding shade of grey that we Midwesterners know well; a little squall was blowing in.  We were going to be heading south though, and we decide if we hightailed it, we could beat the thing to our cars.  I actually wasn’t part of the conversation about getting on the road (since I’d been in the bathroom at the time) but 7 people or so were taking off when I came out and I hurried onto my bike and followed them, as I also wanted to outrun the rain.

Jim and Rich at a brief stop on the first half of the ride.

We should have known immediately to head back to Payson and wait the thing out.  The wind was ferocious and we were making decidedly little progress toward our cars.  All the while, we watched a wall of dark grey slide alarmingly fast over the cornfields.   The skies that were blue just moments before were closing in, and it was clear we weren’t going to avoid this thing.

I dropped back to get with Ann and Rich Lentz so they wouldn’t get too far behind and I sent my husband ahead to tell the front fast riders to slow up a bit because we didn’t know the way back to the car through these country roads.   And then the rain started.

It was just a sprinkle at first, but pretty soon it was a full-on downpour.  The rain was coming down so hard that it was tough to see the rider in front of you.  We were riding as fast as we could, but it couldn’t have been more than 11-12 mph due to the crazy wind.

The rain wasn’t the worst of it, because a mile down the road the skies lit up with lightning.  One bolt exploded so close to us that, at first, I was terrified that the front riders had been hit.  It was the kind of thunder that shakes everything and makes all your hair stand on end.

First Annual QBC Wet Jersey Contest?? After the storm.

We regrouped for a moment at a turn on the route and I realized Ann and Rich weren’t behind us anymore.  I didn’t know at the time, but they’d turned off the road to an abandoned barn to seek shelter.  I couldn’t believe they weren’t there though and I screamed through the storm, “Oh my god I lost the Lentzes!”  I still didn’t know the way back and we assumed they were not far behind us, so one of the other riders who was familiar with the area said she’d stay at the intersection and wait so they didn’t get lost.

The rest of us went on through the driving rain.  The 90 degree day had quickly become cold, water was sloshing around in my shoes, and the rain (and possibly small hail) hit us so hard that it stung.  The ten miles to the car took far too long and it was miserable.  And, because it’s how these things go, as soon as the cars were in sight, the storm dissipated and we were bathed in mocking golden sunshine that always follows a summer storm.

Storm in the distance, sun in the photo. *figures…

About this time I checked the radar on my iPhone (er… probably should have done that before we left Payson) and noted the pencil-thin bow-shaped thunderstorm line we had just ridden through.  Our route basically maximized the amount of time we spent in the storm by riding south and west into the thing.  If we had just waited a half hour and had some breakfast (like the rest of the group did) we’d have been high and dry and not have had had our close brushes with being barbequed by the lightning.

Everyone who was on this little ride was a-okay at the end, but it taught me some important lessons about cycling, namely: you probably can’t outrun the weather and lightning is serious business.  Living here, in the storm-prone heart of tornado alley, it’s good for we cyclists to take a moment and think about how we should react when (not if) a storm blows in and we are miles from home.   I consulted some web sources including the League of American Cyclists, Traveling Two, Think Bikes, The American Red Cross and the National Weather Service and synthesized this list of storm safety tips for cyclists!

Riders on the Storm: Safety Tips for Cyclists

  1. Whenever possible, wait out storms in good shelter.
  2. Check the weather and radar before you hit the road.
  3. If you get caught in a lightning storm: stay away from trees and tall objects, avoid ridgelines, high hills or open fields.  Basically, don’t be the tallest object around and don’t be near the tallest object around.  Find the lowest elevation you can.
  4. Seek shelter when possible.  Overpasses can be handy on a bike ride, but don’t be scared to ask a farmer/homeowner if you can wait the storm out in a barn/garage/shed.  They don’t want to see you get hit by lightning either.  THE EXEPTIONS to using highway overpasses for shelter would be if the overpass is made of steel (duh) or if you are sheltering from a tornado.  Overpasses have been known to amplify wind effects of tornados and even stream debris faster.  You’re better off in a ditch in this case.
  5. The websites I visited suggest getting in a low ditch, standing on the balls of your feet, putting your head between your legs… (and kissing your *** goodbye??)  The scientific reason for this has to do with the lighting moving along the ground.   Many times people who are struck by lightning are not actually touched by the main channel of the lighting, rather are zapped by the lightning traveling along the ground or through water.  The fewer points of contact you have with the ground channeled lighting, the better.
  6. If you’re still riding to find shelter stay together, but not too close together.  In the worst case scenario, if someone gets hit by lightning but you’re spread out on the road, not everyone will be hurt.  If everyone is in a small group, they present a bigger target, a strike-prone high point, and everybody gets fried at once.  Not good.
  7. Regarding getting to low spots: watch for areas prone to flash flooding.  That’s not the low spot you’re looking for.
  8. Tornados: get low! Most injuries in tornados are due to projectile debris.  Get in a ditch and stay there… and thank yourself for being smart and wearing a helmet every time you ride.

After the storm has passed, use your common sense. Check for injuries, stay away from downed power lines, phone your family and let them know you’re okay.   To determine if it’s safe to continue onward to your car or destination, the websites I looked at suggested the “Flash/Bang Method.”   This method time can tell you the approximate distance you are from a storm by counting the time between the flash of lightning and the sound of thunder.  You simply count the seconds and divide by 5.  If you can count 10 seconds before you hear the thunder, the lightning was 2 miles away.  2 miles is the absolute minimum distance when you should consider hitting the road again, and the National Weather Service suggests a higher threshold of 5 miles or 30 seconds from the Flash/Bang Method.

To wrap it up, we were all smiles after our brush with our thunderstorm this spring, but things could have easily been very different because we made some bad choices.  Given a do-over, I would have stayed in Payson, had some breakfast, and been grateful to watch the storm through café windows instead of struggling through dangerous conditions.   It really was a Hull of a storm. (hahahhaha… get it? ‘cause we were in Hull, IL??  Aww…Nevermind.  This is why I don’t write a comedy blog.)

PS:  Like I said, this list of safety tips was synthesized from the websites I listed and is neither complete nor definitive.  It’s just a list of friendly suggestions from a fellow cyclist… not an expert.  Please don’t sue me. 

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Thanks to KHQA TV 7 for featuring Adeventure Foot on the Morning Show!

The Adventure Foot Blog was featured this morning on the KHQA Morning Show at 6:45 am, so I’m posting this blog today as a big WELCOME to those checking out Adventure Foot for the first time!

My bike and I at the Capital City Century- a 100 mile ride.

You can read the whole history of Adventure Foot by clicking here, but if there’s one thing I could tell you about why this blog exists- it’s to help you have an adventure!  There are so many ways to get active in the Tri-State area, and this blog is dedicated to helping to shine a light on events, clubs and games that you can get involved in.

The best way to navigate my blog is to click on the Category link in the right hand side of the page.  Click on your favorite topic and find all the blogs I’ve written related to it!  Also, you can see a listing for “Recent Posts” there on the right hand side of the page, so you can catch up on what’s been going on lately.  Don’t miss the Adventure Foot Photo Gallery, Guest Blogger page or the Events Calendar which are all listed at the top of your screen.  If you’re looking for a specific topic, you can also go to the search bar and enter terms you’d like to read about.

To keep in touch with Adventure Foot, to share your own pictures, or to add events to my calendar listing, please visit the Adventure Foot Facebook page and click Like!  Also, I love to read your comments, and there is a section below every article for you to share your thoughts.  There are also convenient buttons for Facebook, Twitter and Google+ below the article, which makes sharing stories with your friends super easy.

Without further ado, I want to give you my

Top 5 Ways to Follow Your ADVENTURE FOOT in Quincy this Spring and Summer!

Quincy Bicycle Club, Labor Day 2011

#1 Quincy Bicycle Club

It’s no secret that I am always on my bicycle these days, but if it weren’t for the QBC, my bike might still be sitting in my garage gathering dust.  The QBC offers scheduled rides almost every day of the week.   Each different ride is targeted for different levels of experience and ability.  If you’re looking to try out a ride for the first time, I suggest joining in with the Pedal Pushers group on Thursday nights.  The group leaves Reservoir Park at 6 pm, and the pace is nice and slow so that everyone can participate.  Yearly membership to the QBC is only $10 per year for an individual or $17 for a family.

The Heartland Road Runners Club at the Little Rock Half Marathon, 2012

#2 Heartland Road Runners and Walkers Club

Whether you want to walk to increase your fitness or train for a 26.2 mile marathon (or more!), the HRRWC is one club you have to experience.  It’s full of some of the most positive and upbeat people I’ve ever met, and you’ll find that any walking or running regimen is much more fun with a group like this.  I trained with HRRWC all winter and successfully completed my first half marathon last month, and I can tell you first hand that the support of the group made all the difference.  My first day, I couldn’t run two blocks but 6 months later, I ran 13.1 miles.  ‘Nuff said!  Membership is $15 per person for a year or $25 for a family.

Quincy Ultimate Frisbee League

#3 Quincy Ultimate Frisbee League

The Quincy Ultimate Frisbee League meets at the field next to Flinn Stadium (4400 Maine) on Wednesdays at 5 pm and at South Park (12th and Harrison) on Sundays at 2 pm throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall.  Ultimate Frisbee is kind of a cross between soccer and football, and is played by moving a Frisbee down a field into an endzone.  Read more about Ultimate here and here and here, but don’t feel like you need to know all the rules to come down to the park and try this out.  The League welcomes new players every week, they’re happy to teach you how to play the game, and there are no fees at all.  Just bring some good running shoes and a big bottle of water and get ready for some of the most exciting games you’ll ever play in Quincy.   (Special note: The location of QUFL may change to another field later this year. For the most up-to-date information, check out their Facebook page.)

Legacy Martial Arts

#4 Check Out a Local Fitness Class

Quincy has no shortage of places to get a great work out.  My favorite 3 are:

Legacy Martial Arts– Read about FIT Class at Legacy here.  Also, mention that you read about Legacy on the Adventure Foot blog, and receive 1 FREE week to try out FIT, Mixed Martial Arts, Zumba or Traditional Martial Arts classes (new clients only).  You’ll love the facility and the infectious high-energy workouts that Robert Bentley and his staff provide!

The Kroc Center- The Kroc has got all your fitness classes in one place, but the adventure that my foot likes the very best has to be the kRock Wall.  Read more here! Ladies- make sure you ask about “Ladies Night Up,” where ladies can try out the wall for free!

NuFit For You– I absolutely love the classes offered by NuFit for You, which has facilities on 48th and Broadway and at Quincy University and will soon be opening a facility in downtown  Quincy near the Quincy Medical Group.   My favorite NuFit Classes include CycleLates, IndoRow, and Power Cycle.  Don’t be intimdated to go and try any of these classes out.  The staff at NuFit is well-trained and will help you get started no matter what your beginning fitness level is.

With Jackie Joyner Kersee at Bridge The Gap 2011

#5 Register for an Event

Nothing puts fitness front of mind better than having a goal!  Check out the Events Calendar for a list of upcoming events in the area that you can register for.  For beginners, I highly recommend the HOPE 5K in Palmyra, MO on April 14th (you can run or walk this event) and the Bridge the Gap to Health race on May 12th, which has walking or running 5K or 10Ks, and a Half Marathon, as well as a new rowing event this year.  Read about my experience with my very first 5K at Bridge the Gap 2011 by clicking here!

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Adventure Foot is pleased to welcome Jamie Green as a guest blogger!  Jamie is a member of the Quincy Bicycle Club and founding member of Quincy Sketch Group, and he draws a funny comic strip called “Slipped Gears.”   I’ll have his bio up on the Guest Blogger page soon, but if you want to read more about Jamie, please check out this link!  This comic is inspired by a real-life dog on a route that’s regularly ridden by the Quincy Bicycle Club.  Eddy has always loved chasing the cyclists- but as you can see- he’s a little slower as he’s gotten long in the tooth 🙂

And if you are both an Adventure Foot reader and an early bird, I’ve got big news:  I’m going to be on KHQA TV’s Morning Show tomorrow morning- Wednesday, April 4th- at 6:45 AM to talk about my blog, activities that people can get involved in in the Tri-State Area, and what all this Adventure Foot business means to me. Please tune in… or DVR it and watch it later.  Thanks!

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