Archives for category: Bike to the Beach

I promised myself I wouldn’t plan any new rides until I’d paid the bills for Climate Ride Midwest, but then THIS appeared in my mailbox!

Bike to the Beach Florida! Key Largo to Key West! January!!!

Everything happens for a reason, and I’m thinking this is why the thunderstorm shut down our GCI team just short of the Florida border…


By now, you’ve probably heard about the study that showed that people prefer to make less money, as long as it’s more than others. They’d rather be poorer, as long as they’re relatively richer.

I think that’s how I am as a competitor. As much as I would like to think that I’m only competing with myself, I know that my happiness seems to depend on outdoing others. Recent cases in point: In the last two Bike to the Beach rides, I rode a faster century in DC, but rode faster than all the other women in New England, and was happier about the latter.

Today, I had my best ride ever at Flywheel. Really, here’s the screen shot:


290! I almost made the 300 club. But when the Torqboard (where you see how you performed relative to everyone else) came up at the end of class, I was only at 289. And there was one woman in class who rode 290. For my first time ever, I was the 2nd place woman. Good morning, tailspin.

So, this was how my inner monologue sounded during my yoga class:

You suck. You didn’t try hard enough. No one likes you, that’s why no one is contributing to your causes. You suck as a fundraiser. Everyone that’s your “friend” on Facebook has turned off your feed. Oh, and you suck at yoga, too. Your back hurts, doesn’t it? Wow, did you just see yourself in the mirror? Keep telling yourself that you just look tired. Rationalize that it’s all the sodium from that IKEA double binge yesterday. Truth is, you’re old, but it’s not as if you were ever pretty. You’re certainly not as good at yoga as anyone else here. Oh, and you’re not supposed to be comparing yourself to others, either. Even though your outfit is much worse. Would it really kill you to stop wearing your technical t-shirts that fall in your face and just buy some lululemon so you look like everyone else? And your hair. You need a trim. But it should be longer. Remember how you embarrassed your mom at ballet class when you were in 8th grade? The other moms talked about how you were too old to be in the class, not good, and your hair was always messy. It doesn’t change does it? You’re too old, you suck, and your hair is a disaster. Cheating out of the chaturanga, are we? No wonder you never get better. Oh yay, warrior 2. Half-moon pose, finally some things that make my body feel good. Never mind, standing splits. I’ll never have that flexibility it took five years of ballet to get to again, will I? Head stands, phew, something I can do. Usually. I can get all the way up… For one second… Shit. I really suck today. Hello, child’s pose. Hello, corpse pose. Why can’t I shut up my brain?

I know that I learn more from failure than from success. I understand that it’s better to want to be better than to be smug in my relative success. Second place still sucks.

Rhode Island


New Jersey
New York

in the DONE column


lurks as INCOMPLETE.

Registered for:




And a new family member:


Sometimes you want to be alone.

I have tons of friends in Boston, and yet, I didn’t really put out the word that I was coming. My parents were flying in, I was staying with my aunt and uncle, and sometimes you have to prioritize. I had an entire weekend, proximity to New England, and I didn’t bother to look for other rides, despite my awareness that the window was closing for Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont. I’ve friended the Dartmouth Cycling Team, they’ll help me train in the spring, right?

So, utilizing public transit, I swung by Urban AdvenTours to pick up my sexy Italian rental bike and check in, and the great folks at Bike to the Beach offered to get my bike to the start line for me. Yay!


Another pre-dawn start:


The first part of the course was along an unlit bike path, and I worked my way to the front of the peleton, mostly because I feared the kind of crashes I’d seen at the start of the New York ride. At the first rest stop, there was a really long line for the porta-potty, and while I’ve learned not to skip an opportunity, it wasn’t that far to the next stop…

It was a perfect day to be out riding, supporting
Bike to the Beach and Autism Speaks


It’s just that there wasn’t another stop with facilities in the state of Massachusetts. At every stop, I’d ask, and be assured that there would be one at the next stop. Things weren’t desperate, but one volunteer remarked, “well, you’re only the second woman to ride through.” (Subtext: men will take a nature break anywhere.)

Suddenly, the urgency was related to one thing only: be the first woman across the finish line.

This smile? This is the stop where I caught up to her. No bathrooms yet, but who cares?


Finally, a bike shop and indoor plumbing!


What’s a ride without themed rest stops and doggie love?


So, yes, first woman across the finish line. Family to greet me! Massachusetts, done, Rhode Island, almost complete, and the promise of help to make it so.


If the zombies don’t get us first, that is…


The next day, my aunt drove me over to Little Compton, Rhode Island for me to mop up my missing Rhode Island miles. I wasn’t sure if I should flash gang signals or baby vamp fangs when I finished.

That night, we celebrated with lobster. Well, we celebrated. The lobsters weren’t so lucky, especially the one we picked for movie stardom…

Sometimes, you want to be alone. But not this weekend. I was so happy to be surrounded by family, and family who had travelled thousands of miles so we could all spend some time together.


I had good reason to be thankful for the tailwinds that got me to DC so swiftly – the logistics of arriving in our nation’s capital when the terrorism threat level was high were daunting. Shuttle bus to DC Metro to hotel went smoothly, but tracking down the bike shop I was renting from proved more challenging. By the time I’d sorted out that Big Wheel Bikes, the shop I had reserved my rental from, was in the suburbs, not Georgetown, I was panicking. I rode the metro back out to Arlington, managed to get lost walking to the shop, and when I finally found it, one of the techs was going home early!

Fortunately, they hooked me up with the best bike I’ve ever ridden, an Orbea Orca. I also learned why the techs keep trying to put the seat up too high for me: I show up at the shop in jeans, not my riding shorts. Specifically, I show up in a pair that’s a little baggy at the knees. Not only is that a fashion faux pas, it makes the tech guys think your leg isn’t fully extended.

Finally kitted out, I rode back to headquarters in DC for a pasta dinner and check-in.


Start line in DC at Gonzaga College High School


Our route to Annapolis, plus the Strava link so you can see all my QOMs! (Downhill course + awesome bike = impressive stats!)

At Annapolis, we loaded our bikes onto trucks and were bussed over a bridge:


Leaving Maryland (state #11 complete)


Entering Delaware

Almost there… (loved the slightly melted Butterfingers at this stop)

Delaware, state #12 done

Fast, fast, fast, thanks to this bike:

You can still support me until September 30 at this link!


I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so nervous as I did when I woke at 3, unless it was when I left the apartment where I was staying on the upper east side at 3:45. It was pouring rain, the doorman doubted he could find me a cab, but he could and he did. I gingerly tiptoed across the street in my bike shoes… In full gear, carrying my helmet, gloves, and pedals in a plastic bag.

Maybe I got more nervous when we arrived at the cross streets I had for the Irish Hunger Memorial and I saw no one, nothing.

But we went around a corner, and I saw tents, vans, eager volunteers in their Deloitte t-shirts. My name was on the list at the registration table, and there was a jersey for me. I found the row of pristine citibikes reassuring, as if I’d be able to ride one of them 100 miles in the rain. My rental bike arrived, and a wonderful mechanic affixed my pedals for me.


The rain would clear, I knew it. My rain jacket would prevail. I wouldn’t bemoan my inability to find my poncho while I packed.

Look at this optimism:

Autism doesn’t get called for rain, and neither does our ride!

Look at this cue sheet:

We rode around the southern tip of Manhattan – a lot of it familiar turf – and over the Williamsburg Bridge, which wasn’t quite the biggest climb of the day… but it was pretty close.

For me, the biggest challenge of the route was all the stopping and starting. We were on city streets – lots of traffic lights, lots of stop signs. Lots of waiting for lights to change while shaking out the rain jacket.

I still look pretty happy at mile 20, don’t I?


Here’s some video of how Jacob Riis Park looks at the onset of another tropical storm…

Hello headwinds! Hello Hurricane Sandy devastation and construction. I was hoping it would be hello, bike paths, goodbye traffic. Not so much.

Rest stop 2: You know you’re on Long Island when you have three bagel shops next to each other in one block.

Rest stop 3: The very kind woman behind the counter at the World Gym let me charge my phone in her car!


The real Strava challenge: finishing the ride before my phone battery dies!

Rest stop 4: Leis, but no restrooms.

Rest stop 5: 8 hours and 68 miles in, shaking uncontrollably, making bad decisions, time to get off the bike. The volunteers there were so kind. One got me a blanket out of his car. Another ran to Dunkin’ Donuts to get a big container of coffee. Three more riders – all young guys – decided to call it quits after I did. We rode to the finish line together, carpooling from rest stop to rest stop with volunteers.

The last thirty miles looked beautiful through the fogged windows of the jeep… Less traffic, fewer stops. Another day, perhaps.

At our final destination, because I didn’t know we could check bags, I had no warm clothes. Because it was the middle of nowhere, there was nothing to purchase. I changed into a dry t-shirt in the ourdoor restrooms – which I’m sure would be fine on a hot day. The whole place would have been perfect on a hot sunny day. Just not during Tropical Storm Andrea.

I will never ever ever be dry again.

Seriously, I was almost a little dry and got drenched running to the bus.

On the bus ride back, I learned that I didn’t get any of the rider e-mails (bag check, buses back, etc.) because I was signed up for all three rides. Made a new friend who I’ll see in DC and Boston!

Almost dry… drenched again exiting bus at train station.

Changing trains in Babylon, I slipped and fell. At least I wasn’t on the bike when the inevitable happened.

Not quite dry at Penn Station, but back to fully soaked waiting in the line for a taxi.

Successes? 50+ miles in New York, and the triumph of good judgment over ego.
Failures? Not finding the poncho, not riding harder, not finishing.

If my first fifty miles in May were for the home team (how else to describe the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, an organization that lobbies and advocates for safer cycling on the street where I live?), my June rides are for the close-to-home teams.

Friday, June 7: Bike to the Beach. I’ll be riding 100 miles from lower Manhattan to the Hamptons to benefit Autism Speaks. My nephew Andrew is one of many children diagnosed with this condition. Thanks to early detection and intervention, he’s doing well, but he’s been fortunate to have my sister as his mother. She has been a tireless advocate on his behalf. Not everyone is so fortunate, and not every child has fared as well as Andrew. I hope that my participation in the event will help raise awareness, and help more children get the help they need to achieve their potential.

You can support Team Andrew by clicking here. Thanks!

Saturday, June 8: Ride 4 Autism. I’ll be riding 50+ miles in New Jersey for Autism New Jersey. As much good as the large national charities do, I really like riding for a local organization and giving back to the people whose turf I’m on. If you’re interested in supporting this ride, please click here.

Sunday, June 9: Cyclefest. I’ll be riding 50+ miles in Connecticut to support Danbury Youth Services’ Earn a Bike program. They’re helping at-risk youth build their own bikes. I think I’ll shut up and let the video tell the story:

Bikes! At risk youth! Local impact!

I’m hoping for sunny skies, and looking forward to all the new friends I’ll make out there on the road!