It was early January, 2011 and I was 200+ pounds impatiently awaiting the day my daughter thought it would behoove her to make an appearance. To this day she still thinks she's calling the shots. She's rather bull headed. Anyway, I was flipping through a Weight Watchers magazine determined to get myself in the mindset I was not going to let 5 years pass by with this excess weight. I had been down that road before after my son was born. It took me 4 years to put the effort into losing the weight and BOOM, the ride started all over again. My daughter was conceived under the notion she was the one in charge. I was resigned to the fact that I was not meant to have more kids and gave away all my first year baby clothes and had a buyer for the larger baby furniture pieces. She's our Charli Angel (or Devil depending on the day).
While turning the pages of the magazine, an article peaked my attention, Train to Ride a Bike 35 Miles in 6 Weeks or something like that. Then it dawned on me, I had 2-7 speed bikes in the shed. They were a gift from my in-laws the Christmas I found out I was pregnant with my son 5 years earlier. They were never used. BOOYAKASHA! I found my motivation in a magazine and a couple unused bicycles.
Cycling Tidbit #1: When riding, keep your hands loosey goosey. No need to grip the handlebars like you're trying to choke them out. Padded cycling gloves are also helpful in reducing the pressure on your hands.
The weather broke early that year and we had some really nice temperatures in the beginning of March. I was 8 weeks postnatal and hopped on one of the bikes. 30 minutes and 5 miles later, I was home and my goonya was on FIRE! Childbirth was easier, at least there was the epidural. I pushed through the pain and got back on the bike the next day. Advil became my friend for a couple of days while I built up my butt callous. Sexy, right?
Cycling Tidbit #2: There's a lot of force between your rump and the seat. Stand up and readjust yourself occasionally during a ride. Just a short respite from sitting will revitalize you on a long ride.
By June that same year, I was ready to upgrade my bike. I couldn't get passed a 12 mile an hour pace and this bike was not comfortable enough for the kind of riding I was doing. I wanted to leave my flat, sea level neighborhood and climb some hills. So, I bought myself a sweet road bike. I love it, still have it. I Road a century on that bike. For those who are not familiar with the lingo, a century is 100 mile bike ride.
Cycling Tidbit #3: Front and rear lights are very important if you plan to ride where cars are in motion. I like to keep my lights on the flash setting. The more visible you are on the road the safer you will be.
I can't forget to mention I went from weighing over 190+ pounds in March to 140 pounds by November that same year. I could wear a skirt without spandex underneath and nobody claimed to smell bacon when I walked by. Trust me when I say there was some high pressure, friction happening between those inner thighs. Yes, I know what you're thinking, "Yum, Bacon!"
Fast forward 4 years later when I am super strong from weight training, riding, running and I looked better than I did when I was in my 20's. I started getting this intense pressure in my lower back. UGH! I thought I may have pulled a muscle. I took some time off to let myself heal. When I thought I was ready for action, Michael and I had driven to Ocean City for a 50 mile ride in mid April 2015. We had done this ride before and I was looking forward to a weekend away, no kids. We weren't 5 miles into the ride and my back was on fire. My brain wanted to ride, but my back is telling me, "Oh, HELL NO!" I honestly thought I had just pulled a muscle several months earlier. This was a sign that something else was definitely wrong. It was the longest 50 mile ride, EVER! For those who don't know me, you wonder where my daughter gets her headstrong attitude from, ME! I wasn't going to give up on that ride.
It was time to see a doctor and the MRI made it painfully clear that I had a bulging disc. A disc that also affected my hip when I would run. It felt like someone popped my leg from the socket. The doctor told me I had to give up running, cycling and squats. WHAT? Que the depression.
Of course, there was physical therapy, a ton in co-pays, and some steroid injections, but nothing seemed to get me back on the bike. Even walking became annoying with a numbness that would just overcome my right leg and foot.
Just about a year and a half had gone by and I had gone from an active, fit person with a resting heart rate of 56 bpm to sedentary, 25 pounds overweight and a resting heart rate of 64 bpm. I finally had enough and needed to get back to an active lifestyle. I thought I would try to buy a different kind of bike, maybe a beach cruiser. I rode my mother-in-laws cruiser a couple times and the upright position didn't bother my back. I may not ever do another century again or ride at speeds of 17-18 miles per hour, but at least I was going to feel the wind in my face again.
Cycling Tidbit #4: Cycling is great cardio. Increase your heart rate by riding uphill or add in some interval training during shorter rides.
Up to the Bike Doctor in Annapolis I went. This is where I met Matthew, my cycling saveur. After a few minutes of talking with him, he told me not to give up just yet and there may be a solution. WAIT, pump the breaks....WHAT? Que excitement!
He told me not to buy a new bike yet, but bring my current bike and he would take a look. So I schedule an appointment and brought good ole red up to meet Matthew. He took one look at the bike and then started doing all kinds of measurements and adjustments. Come to find out, the bike that I've been riding was not a proper fit for me.
Cycling Tidbit #5: Get properly fitted for a bike.
Matthew informed me of all the new bike technology that's come to light since I purchased ole red and particularly the changes made to properly fit a woman for a bike. He spent a solid hour+ fitting me for my own bike. Believe it or not, I've not had any major issues since Matthew changed my seat height, slightly decreased my reach for my handle bars and adjusted the clips on my shoes. I am still not using the right size bike and I am hyper aware that I am reaching too far over. This can put strain on my back if I don't change position when I come across headwind or plow up hill. However, I am back riding again.
Cycling Tidbit #6: Engage your stomach muscles and sit back in your seat when going up hill. I've also found that if I imagine the motion of scraping dog sh*t from the bottom of my shoe off the side of a curb and push through my heels as I pedal up hill, this engages my booty muscles and gives me more power to move.
As we all know the weather has not exactly been cooperative this year. April feels like February and March can't decide if it wants to be April or June. Although, I am determined to get into the habit of riding like I used to. It's been several weeks and already I have built up strength. I am not quite climbing hills like I was a few years ago, but I have hopes of returning to my full riding glory. If this year goes well, I think I might ask Santa for a new bike, one that fits.
Cycling Tidbit #7: If you have seasonal allergies and aren't a fan of snot rockets or hocking loogies, bring a paper towel with you. They are much more absorbent than a tissue. A tissue will just disintegrate. Hungry? Time for the recipe for this post.....
1 cup of granulated sugar
1/4 cup of corn syrup
2 tablespoons of honey
1/2 cup of water
2 teaspoons of baking soda
11 ounces of Ghirdelli Dark Chocolate
Line an 8 x 8 inch baking sheet with aluminum foil. Coat with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large saucepan carefully pour in sugar, corn syrup, honey and water. DO NOT STIR! Place the saucepan over medium-high heat. Set a candy thermometer into the mixture. Bring the mixture up to 300 degrees.
PREPARATION TIP: Make sure your thermometer is calibrated. If the temperature gauge is off, the candy will become too sticky and could break a tooth. The honeycomb should be soft and flaky.
Meanwhile, add 2 teaspoons of baking soda to a small bowl and set next to the simmering pot of sugar. Also, have a whisk and the prepared baking sheet on deck. Once the temperature reaches 300 degrees you have to move fast.
When the temperature reaches 300 degrees, add the baking soda and whisk vigorously for 5 seconds. The mixture will bubble up considerably, so be careful.
Once the five seconds are up, add the mixture to the prepared baking sheet and immediately fill your saucepan with water. This step will help make clean up a breeze.
Allow the candy to cool for at least an hour. At first the candy will look puffy like it does in the picture above. This will settle slightly. When the hour is up, remove the candy from the pan and peel off the foil.
Take a knife and carefully poke the candy. Pieces will start to break off. Careful not to damage the tip of your knife blade.
In a double boiler over 1 inch of simmering water, melt the chocolate until smooth. Remove from heat and start dipping your candy.
Twirl the candy around to get full chocolate coverage. Place each piece of the coated candy onto a sheet of parchment paper.
Let the candies harden completely.
Once the candy has hardened, drizzle a little extra chocolate over the top for a little design. Store the chocolate covered honeycomb for up to 4 days in a tightly sealed container.
Here's a shout out to the girl that brings me snuggles, smooches, the ability to complete any project unless it's to put her clothes in the dirty laundry, keen observation, and wicked humor. Even if she does HULK OUT!