Saddle time & why I love biking

Hello! What’s up, buttercups?!

It’s Friday. Or, should I say FriYAY. I prefer the latter.

I hope you’ve all had a great week and that it isn’t the arctic where you live. New Hampshire has seen some sunshine and 50+ degree days this week which I’m uber digging after an October which felt like November and a few weeks of clouds and rain. Pretty sure my seasonal funk that tends to rears its ugly head mid to late January was fast approaching, but this week has surely helped me put the spice back in life.

Earlier this week, I wrote about taking some lull time. I’m happy to report that while I’ve definitely rode my bikes more than would be typically considered “lull”, my brain space has stayed rather mellow and generally in a good place.

I couldn’t help myself with all the nice weather Wednesday and yesterday – saddle time was very welcomed. I figured they would be some of the final rides for the next 6 months not requiring either hand and/or toe warmers. Wednesday I was even able to wear shorts and let me tell you I was beyond ecstatic. Bizarre side note: for all my fellow lady friends out there who have given up on the whole leg shaving bandwagon…. biking feels really weird when your leg hair is flopping around in the wind. Like it tickles. I now understand why some male cyclists shave their legs and will most def hop back on that bandwagon in the Spring.

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Shorts: exhibit A

I was also happy to utilize my phone mount (seen on handlebar above) to play music whilst riding! If you’re interested in my “saddle time” playlist and seeing what type of jams I’m into I’ll link it here:

With all the recent free time, aka “lull time”, I’ve been thinking a lot about the activities which bring me joy. Biking is surely one of them along with hiking, trail running, snowboarding, climbing, snowshoeing. I’m purely focusing on physical activities here as this list doesn’t encompass other things in life which make me smile. The common denominator if you will with these activities is that when I’m partaking in them my mind doesn’t get stuck in the past or future. Sure, I may think about something that happened that week or day, or what I need to accomplish later – but the thoughts come and go, they don’t stick, they don’t fester, they don’t even stress me out in that moment. These activities all serve a common role in my life: self-care. I’m not going to delve into this “can of worms” in this post, but rather save it for a future post topic!

But, short story, biking is one of the best ways to get me out of my head, smiling, and feeling like the weight of the world isn’t as heavy. It helps me process. It’s something which I genuinely love and also equally enjoy the positive feels I experience during/afterwards. It’s such a lift up. And, what’s really neat which I’ll talk about more in aforementioned future post is that while biking/hiking/running/ect. all help with self-care, the way in which this occurs is different for each. It’s almost as if I have a tool-box of activities to pick from depending on what my needs are, what I feel like doing, and what my body needs.

My ride Wednesday, besides being in shorts, was on my road bike… aka the “roadie”, or Tessa. Yes, my bikes have names. I set out with the intention to ride until the sun began setting, so about 2 hours. I usually just wing it and go based on how my body feels. I’ve gotten into a rhythm of setting an idea of ride time versus ride distance so that my pace and therefore exertion can reflect what I need that day. This has taken some time and I still have days where I’m like “ugh, Sarah, you only rode 10 miles in the hour and you usually do 14+, what gives”. Progress is a process.

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Ride views

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Headed home

Today I took out my gravel bike, the second child. I’m still in the naming process on this one and am between Tatum, Claire, Carmen, and Charlotte. It’s a Trek Checkpoint, so I naturally want the name to begin with a T or a C. I rode along a local rail trail for most of the ride and got in my dose of forest therapy and leaf peepin’.

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Expensive child

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The trees are becoming bare in NH 😦

It’s fun, riding my bikes, but saddle time is so much more than fun for me. It’s an activity I enjoy that fulfills me. It doesn’t take away any of my feelings, it doesn’t numb them, it helps me work through them and it helps me feel a deeper connection with my being – and that’s the core of why I ride.

“I understood myself only after I destroyed myself. And only in the process of fixing myself, did I know who I really was.” ― Sade Andria Zabala

Being intentional & exploring boundaries

Hey folks!

I hope you’re all having a stellar week so far. Mine has actually been rather low key, which, if you know me in real life, this is typically far from my M.O. To be honest, while it feels completely out of my element and I keep having moments of “I must be missing something” or “what did I forget to do”, it’s been very much welcomed.

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I’m not the person who is “good” at enjoying a mellow day, relaxing, spending ample hours at home with nothing on my to-do list. I’m go go go, always looking ahead at the next thing on my agenda or preparing myself for something. I’ve purposefully avoided many lull moments out of fear of not being able to handle them. For me, sitting around all day with nothing to do is EXTREMELY stressful. My brain just bounces around, thinking it needs to be doing something when in reality I’d like it to just shut up. I feel edgy, antsy, uncertain. I try to find things to do, but then realize that nothing actually needs to be done, I’m caught up, everything is under control. It’s weird.

It’s a good change of pace for myself, and it surely is testing me in ways I’m not used to. I’ve been almost craving some mellow time for a while even though I knew it would make me angsty. I think I knew the benefits would outweigh potential risks and as a psych person I’m all about that risk benefit analysis. Insert nerd emoji.

What do I mean by the benefits outweighing the risks as they pertain to me giving myself and my brain some time to simply chill? I’m becoming quite a fan of challenging myself these days, but not in ways I’m used to or even comfortable with for that matter. For me, physically challenging myself is normal. Taking an extra class or taking on another project is normal. Working multiple jobs during school is normal. Saying yes is normal. Opting out of sleep for the sake of having higher productivity and work completion or waking up at 3am to hike is normal. I’m good with these forms of challenge. But, challenging myself to take a step back and allow my being a break is not a normal form of challenge – which is exactly why I’m doing it.

Historically when I’ve taking a “break”, it was faaaaaaar from what most of society would consider a break. And, you know what, that’s okay. It worked for me. That said, I’m at a place in my life where I want to keep testing my comfort zones because many of them have been set in place as protective measures and I realize that for personal development and self-growth to occur, I need to explore these boundary zones if you will.

For a while now I’ve felt this internal nudge to just do something radical in my life. Something different than my usual M.O. Now, I’m not calling a mellow weekend and half of a week radical, but it’s a beginning. Progress is a process my friends, and the journey is often what counts the most. For the time being, I’m testing a lot of my current life, trying to find my edges and sharp spots… the things which make me push back and crawl into the safety of things which I have defined to be okay.

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In a way, I’m letting go of the power that I’ve felt I needed to have for so long. I’m letting go of the control, or trying to. I’m a work in progress as we all are – constantly evolving and figuring out where I’m headed. In a bizarre way, it’s actually super cool. I feel like I have a better grasp on things right now even though I feel rather uneasy about a handful of life things. Almost as if by letting go, I’m giving myself permission to go and do whatever makes my soul happy versus what makes my ego and comfort zone happy.

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Cheesin’ because… see next picture

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#teamnopants strikes again. Also note the solid (very blonde) leg hair… haven’t shaved in 8 weeks. Don’t give AF.

So, what I have been up to since Friday (when this entire fiasco began): ample mental journaling and buying a new notebook because I want to start writing my thoughts down again and see where it takes me, two trail runs, a walk around a local park (which I opted to do instead of my pre-planned bike… *pats self on shoulder*), skipped class to sleep (don’t worry I have a 98 the world won’t end), listened to a handful of personal development podcasts, worked a chunk of hours with a space-heater next to me the entire time (hello winter in New Hampshire), posted things on Poshmark because minimizing, taken a handful of naps, and have tried to give my brain space to process some big decisions.

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Trail time always helps

And you know what, I haven’t spontaneously combusted… yet 😉

“If you want your life to be a magnificent story Then begin by realizing that you are the author…” ― Mark Houlahan

 

Navigating cold weather biking

Hey frands!

TGIF. Am I right or am I right? You pick.

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Scenes from the bike

I talk a lot about hiking on my blog, any long-term or even recent reader/follower will know this to be true. Heck, I even have a page about hiking gear and what to bring, wear, and pack. What I don’t post much about is another love of mine, biking. Mainly because it isn’t nearly as eventful as hiking… I mean I’m sitting on my saddle for an hour or more just pedaling away. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah.

On one of my rides this week I was thinking about how I road bike year round, and how much of a factor the right layering plays into being able to maintain this. It’s actually much more complicated than hiking because with hiking I have a 33L pack on my back with extra layers, and it’s also space I can take layers off and shove into. This luxury doesn’t exist per se on a bike. Surely there are bags you could get to store things, or even wear a hydration vest which would fit water and a layer or two.

With getting more “seriously” into riding this past summer and fall, my mileage and saddle time has doubled with I was doing on average last year. As we head into the colder season, and quickly head into it here in NH, I found myself challenged to find a system which works for me.

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My first child

I have a journal in which I log most of my bikes, hikes, trail runs by hand. I’ll write the typical “stats”, but then add things like temperature, what I wore, how I felt. I like to keep track of these details because they are useful to resort back to when I don’t feel like thinking about it. I got this idea from my friend Blaire, and have found it be super useful. I can visually see what worked well, could use some improvement, or to never ever do again. It provides solid insight into what my body needs and how it tends to function in certain temperatures and weather conditions.

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You know it’s nippy outside when I resort to riding in tights

While I could most definitely purchase an indoor trainer to set up my road bike inside, and will likely do this just to have on days where it’s 1. pouring, 2. dumping a foot of snow, or 3. 5 degrees outside, I plan to continue some longer rides outside throughout the winter. WHY?! Because, for me, being outside provides benefits much beyond the “exercise”. Sure, I like the endorphins and feels I get from the endurance part of riding, but it’s so much more than that.

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Oh so happy 🙂

What have the temperatures and conditions been like lately here in New Hampshire? 40’s-50’s with some random mid-upper 30’s. Late fall/winter has come a smidgen early this year.

My go to for layers which seems to be working well have been as follows:

Under 40: cycling shoes, wool socks, toe warmers, thermal cycling tights, wool shirt, ventrix jacket, vest, wind-resistant glove, skida hat under helmet. I’ll then pack a set of hand warmers in case but am typically good if I wiggle my digits now and again.

Between 40-50: cycling shoes, wool socks, thermal cycling tights, long sleeve shirt, ventrix jacket, vest, fleece glove, skida hat under helmet. Similar, but slightly less aggressive insulation needed and therefore less human marshmallow status.

I need to figure out the under 30 game plan… I guess we will wait and see what happens.

“I see myself forever and ever as the ridiculous [person], the lonely soul, the wanderer, the restless frustrated artist, the [person] in love with love, always in search of the absolute, always seeking the unattainable.” ― Henry Miller

Mt. Carrigain – 10/26/18

Hey folks!

It’s the weekend. You know what this means – I’m off to the mountains… except I’m totally not because it’s raining/sleeting/snowing up there. As I’m writing this, it’s down-pouring outside – sad face. But, I have some echinacea tea from Traditional Medicinals with a half of a lemon (10/10 recommend), so I feel nice and cozy.

Knowing the forcasted weather, I obviously went hiking yesterday 🙂

The hike: Mt. Carrigain (4,700 ft). 10.6 miles RT via Signal Ridge Trail.

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That’s the summit up there!

Needless to say by that picture – it’s full on winter conditions in the White Mountains, above 2500/3000 feet or so that is! It’s a great time to hike because you get two seasons in one, fall at the trailhead, and winter on most of the hike! Just be sure to not let the trailhead fool you into not taking enough or the right gear and layers!

I actually hiked Carrigain back on August 16th, and let me tell you that it was MUCH warmer two and a half months ago! This was my 44th peak for the NH 48 round 1, is my 29th for round 2, and I think my 96th 4K summit overall (I need to double check this, so close to 100 and don’t want to miss it!!). Also super happy to tag the summit in another season – FALL! Not very fall-esque, but I digress.

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Signal Ridge Trail, NH

My first go at this hike I was quite apprehensive about. Not out of fear, but just because only one of my friends gave it two thumbs up! Others commented that it was “boring”, “you needed good views at the top as otherwise no views”, “the 3 mile uphill drags on”, ect. I just kept putting it off and putting it off.

But, I loved it in August! We even added 4 miles to the August hike because the access road was closed due to storm damage and I still enjoyed it! Yes, those comments are true – there aren’t many views until the summit and it surely is a consistent uphill for about 3 miles, but I honestly don’t mind these factors one bit. I think this speaks to how much I enjoy hiking for what it is, not only for the views. If I only wanted views I’d be one of those leaf peeing people slamming on their brakes on the highway to take foliage pictures.

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Looking down at Signal Ridge Trail from the summit tower on Carrigain

This time, the access road was open – but this will very soon change as Sawyer River Rd. is seasonally open and with the early snowfall and fast accumulation this year, I would give it another week or two at best unless it’s suddenly 75 degrees again outside which who knows, never say never.

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Candid. Sipping turmeric ginger tea, pointing at a snowy Mt. Washington, & very happy as I just put toe warmers in my boots!

Carrigain is one of my faves now – road open or closed. Signal Ridge Trail starts off flat with a few rolling hills sparsely placed throughout the first section. Once hitting the junction with Carrigain Notch Trail, we continued on Signal Ridge which begins to slowly start gaining elevation for about a half mile. After this point, it’s a consistent climb with some switchbacks up to the first open area where it then levels off for a short distance before the final push to the summit!

My favorite section both times hands down is the open area along the ridge before the summit. It’s absolutely gorgeous. This time, it also was absolutely covered in snow drifts.

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Making my way through snow taller than me!

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Whoops, I sunk! This was the only section we had issues with sinking!

I really needed this hike yesterday. Safe to say even more than I usually do when I “need to hike”. Between a few back to back hike plans that just didn’t work out, and not feeling like soloing right now, I was very happy to get out. It was kind of spur of the moment as I asked my friend Lawn’s (my friend group has stellar nicknames for each other!) dad who regularly hikes if I could tag along this week and he said yes! So I got my hiking fix, played around in the fluffy snow, and enjoyed the day with two new hiking buddies (Hiker Dad – yep, this is his nickname from Lawn, and Bob)!

At the most basic level, what I needed was to spend a day outside without real life distractions, and some socialization. I’ve had a lot of alone time lately, which while I enjoy it, too much of anything can be a problem. I’m happy to have turned that page a little bit yesterday.

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” ― Rumi

XO, S

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