Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Might Have to Start Watching The Voice Now

I've only ever seen bits and pieces of a few episodes of The Voice ever, but when I heard Cassadee Pope was on last night I thought I should change my ways. For those who don't know, Cassadee was the lead singer of a band called Hey Monday. Now I'm not here to go on and on about how I was her biggest fan way before I ever heard her name on the Voice; I definitely wasn't that dedicated to the band or her music, but I knew I liked her voice. And man, when I saw her audition video there were instant goose bumps.

I was kind of surprised she didn't pick Adam (well in my mind if he was an option I don't know why anyone wouldn't pick Adam, but that's just me). I'm not really a Blake Shelton fan, but he's lucky to have Cassadee on his team.

I don't really know how the show works but hopefully she stays on and we can see lots more from this talented girl in the future.

Also side note, her boyfriend, Rian Dawson (the one in the beanie), was super adorable when they showed him backstage. They make for a super cute couple. Plus I love All Time Low.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Big Bike Trip Day 4

Here we are, the last day of the trip.

The home stretch felt equally good and bad. My body was hurting and I was getting weird tan lines. It was definitely time to be done. Oh and day 4 included an extra challenge for us... wind.

 This is a picture of me smiling pretending like I'm still having a ton of fun.

Luckily day 4 ended up being a shorter day... I think it was 60 miles (I probably should have written this stuff down sooner before I forgot... whoops). Anyway, we rode 25ish miles then stopped for lunch at McDonalds (we're super healthy lol). From there it was a rather interesting ride along Route 66.

Our original plan was to hop right on the old highway (right next to the new Route 66) and take it all the way into Normal, IL. Unfortunately for us, the historical highway went about a mile then was covered in grass. After our nice photo excursion (seen below), we made the executive decision to just stay on the new highway (with barely any shoulder) until we could find a good road to get off on.

 I really don't know why I look super awkward in all these pictures, but they're good ones of my dad and brother

The highway was definitely a challenge with the head-wind and cracked, pretty much non-existant shoulder. We had to go further than expected before getting off; all the side roads ended up being dirt, but we finally made it to a restored part of the old highway that went on for two miles. After the restored section there was a perfectly paved road that was quiet and slightly sheltered from the wind by trees. It started sprinkling while we were on 66 but luckily it was light and didn't last long.

After all our riding the end came sooner than I imagined. My dad kept pushing me to kick up the speed and I was totally not feeling it until he said "hey look there's aunt Pam and Eric." My aunt and cousin had rode out a bit to find us and bring us in to the subdivision. At the end all I cared about was not stopping until we made it to their house for fear my legs would refuse to pedal any further (this is most definitely an over exaggeration I would have made it further if I had to and it wasn't that bad).

Our "we finally made it, now lets jump in the pool" picture

And that's exactly what we did, went straight for the pool. Water is a wonderful thing. 

So that's it, we had a great weekend in IL with the family and now it's all just good memories. This trip had it's challenges but it was totally worth it. Now it's on to planning the next adventure. I'm thinking coastal tour (on bike of course).

Thanks for listening.

P.S. I think I might post a separate entry about what kept me motivated during the trip so look out for that. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Big Bike Trip Part 3

So here we are at day three.

My first priority of the day was to come up with an attack plan for the eye allergies. My dad suggested bringing a wet wash cloth and my eye drops along for the ride. The idea was a definite success and my eyes stayed painless (although still itchy) for the rest of the trip.

On day one my mom had bought a lime slushie for lunch and that spawned the slushie obsession. I don't know what it was about those drinks, but they were a perfect way to get cool and refreshed. In fact, the only way I kept going on day three was because my dad suggested stopping and getting slushies at Dairy Queen for lunch. I also shamelessly broke down in a mini fit when my parents suggested we keep going and eat outside in a park instead of actually stopping for lunch. Hot days on the bike deserve cool drinks in an air conditioned building.

The rest of the day included more of the same.... corn and soy beans. Oh and more getting lost. We had to reroute a few times because we got trapped in a maze of corn.

this went on for miles

I kept a slower pace on the third day until we passed the town we were supposed to end up in. We decided to get a head start on the next day instead of having to do so many more miles on our last day. I was also able to beat my mile 69 curse. My dad and I battled it out at the end until his computer said 70, and I happily avoided any upsets to the day. It felt good to finally accomplish a successful day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Big Bike Trip Part 2

So, I was just about to get to day two.

We left the campground around 10:30 and decided to ride 20 miles to the next town in order to stop for breakfast. I think we all had a moment of panic when we first got on our bikes and our butts were already sore from day one, but luckily the pain went away after a few minutes. It was also replaced with the surge of adrenaline which came from riding alongside a busy highway for the first mile or so. That's pretty much how we started off every morning of our trip, getting our blood pumping as semi's went whizzing past threatening to knock you over or suck you up. I learned quickly to follow close and keep your eyes focused on a straight line in front of you. Also pay attention to cues (my dad typically rode in front of me and would point out pot holes or rocks).

The second day was all through Indiana and more corn mazes. I liked how peaceful it was back through all the corn. It may not have been quite as exciting as riding next to a busy highway, but I enjoyed the times we all got to ride side by side. There weren't many cars around for the majority of the day. After breakfast at Bob Evans and a nice rest, we got back on the bikes and kept on riding.

I noticed when I'd do longer (30- 40 mile) rides in TC that my fingers would go numb after a bit. Mostly my left pinky finger. That started happening after my first day and just continued for the rest of the trip. Although other parts of my body, like my butt or my quads, were sore from time to time nothing hurt, or was more annoying, than having a tingly finger the whole trip. I tried moving my hands around or shaking out my arms from time to time throughout the day, but nothing seemed to work. I would be interested in knowing if it was a common thing or if there's anything I could do to prevent that from happening. My brother said his did the same thing, but my dad's fingers all seemed to remain normal. I'm assuming it's some sort of pinched nerve or something.

Day two also had some bad moments for me. Actually day two may have been the most disappointing day on the trip. I knew my allergies would get really bad, like they did last year when we visited my cousins in IL so I tried to come prepared this time. I was supplied with medicines and all sorts of eye drops. Unfortunately though, the pollen and sweat must have built up in my eye and after about 50 miles it became a real problem. I tried pouring water in my eye, but every time I would look up at the road my right eye would blink and blink and it became painful to move my eye at all. At mile 53 I was desperate and that's when I cracked. I couldn't see and because the pain was so severe I was worried something serious may have happened to my eye. I didn't want to stop. I knew 53 miles wasn't even close to the end for us that day, but I had no choice. My mom came and picked me up and we drove on to find a motel. I think at this point I was crying more because I felt like I gave up that day than the pain I felt from my eye.

I can't say it was all bad though. Being able to finally take a nice shower and just sit and relax felt pretty good. By the time I got out of the shower my mom had to go back to pick up my dad and brother, so I was left alone in the hotel room to eat my Jimmy John's and watch the Hangover 2.

My dad and brother went on to ride 85 miles on day two. I was also grateful when my dad said my brother kept him at a 18 mph pace from a long ways. We averaged about 12mph for the whole trip.
No way I'd be able to do 18mph unless we were going downhill. They also had to ride for a few miles on a dirt road. We hit a dirt road earlier in the day that we ended up having to ride, but it was just a mile and I was really glad when it was over. I can't imagine how uncomfortable that'd be for a longer stretch.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Big Bike Trip Part 1

Finally. I found some time to actually sit down and write about the experience.

You may not care, but I'm kind of proud of myself for completing those four days. I knew biking four days straight for such great length would be a challenge... especially with the lack of training I managed to do. I do have Shawn T and Insanity to thank for helping me build up my cardio though (and for reminding me to "dig deeper" when I didn't think I could ride another mile).

The story really begins in high school when I met a guy (roommates of a friend's cousin who was attending U of M) who was telling us about how he was training to ride across the country. And then a year later when I ran across a blog about a group of friends about to do just that. Being the dreamer (and obviously delusional) person that I am, I went straight to my parents and declared that I wanted nothing more than to ride across the country on my bicycle. Originally I set my sights on that summer (I think it was '09), but that came and passed and so did the next summer and the next. I had put my dream on the back burner, but I refused to say it would never happen (well still refusing). This may not have been a bike trip across the country but it was a bike trip through three states and miles of corn mazes with allergies and busy highways and crazy dogs and two great companions (well really three counting my mom who we could have never done it without).

It started out on Tuesday morning, not as bright and early as we would have liked (but it wasn't a total disaster), around 11:30 from the KVCC parking lot in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Here's us at the start. Brother, Dad, and Me smiling like we have nothing to worry about

My dad had gotten what he perceived to be a good route down, which was good until we started hitting dirt roads and having to reroute. Thank God for gps and smart phones. The first day also consisted of many hills, some bad Michigan roads, and some unfortunate road kill ride-bys. On the good side though, the first day consisted of some gorgeous scenery, mostly secluded roads covered by trees, downhills (big smile for this one), and the nice smell of Concord grapes.

Me and the brother by some grapes

At the Michigan/Indiana

We met my mother for lunch in the middle of no where and then kept on riding. I wasn't feeling too bad until we got around mile 60. Before this trip I hadn't ridden longer than 40 miles, and my energy was in short supply. With that and a clumsy mistake on my part, disaster struck at mile 69. I was attempting to put my water bottle back into place when it almost slipped from my hand. My dad and brother were not far ahead waiting for me at a stop sign, which was located at the end of a small decline. In my attempted to put back the water bottle and slow myself down I managed to slam my hand on the left brake and went head first toward the pavement. At first, nothing hurt (well not too bad) but when I got up everything was in pain. I had somehow managed to save my face, arms, helmet, and sunglasses from any damage (I'm giving the thanks for this one to all those falling forward squat pushup things I had to do the day before in Insanity); but I did get a good blow to the ribs from my handlebars, a bunch of random scrapes all over my legs from various things (ground, gravel, bike, chain) and one massive bruise (that still has a hint of color to it) on my right inside part of my leg just above my knee.

 This was the big bruise after a day or so.... the picture really doesn't do it justice

I couldn't believe I had been so stupid and I was so worried about the fate of the rest of the trip. All I could focus on was how disappointing this was (and how bad my ribs hurt and how the worst pain was coming from that tiny scratch on my ankle). But after getting the blood cleaned up, covering myself in bandaids, and wiping away my tears I got back on my bike and rode another mile to where my mom picked us up. At this point I knew I could would be able to finish this. If I could crash and get back up, I could manage the next three days. Although I was pretty thankful to be done after all those miles.

The first day ended in a camp ground in the middle of Amish country, Indiana. My mom and I slept in a tent, until half way through the night when I realized I couldn't breathe because my allergies had become so bad. That's when I moved to the upright position in the front seat of my Dad's truck my mom was driving for the trip. Needless to say it wasn't the best night's rest.

- - -

I'll finish the rest of the story tomorrow but this has already become the longest blog post.
Till next time


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Came and Went

I went on the big bike trip a few weeks ago with my dad and brother and then school happened. Time has been moving so fast with the beginning of the semester and there's been so much to prepare for I haven't had any time to write about my amazing end of summer adventure. I promise I'll come back soon with pics and stories.