Mount Everest on My Bike

Wildflowers on the Veloway

Wildflowers on the Veloway now that bluebonnets are gone.

I found a much more interesting route to the Veloway from home today. I take Slaughter to Beckett, turn right on Beckett to whatever the next major street is, take a left and then another left onto Exposition. I then rode Exposition all the way to 45, crossed that and headed north to La Crosse and the Veloway. Ten miles total.

Today, I sped around the 3-mile-long Veloway three times, cutting the last trip around short to take the back route through Bowie High School to home. I can be home in less than 10 minutes that way.

Mount Everest on the Veloway

A view of the Veloway’s Mount Everest from the top: AFTER I successfully climbed it on my bike!

My big accomplishment today was to climb Mount Everest three times. While my picture on the right doesn’t look that steep from the top, it’s a tough climb. You have to make a 90 degree turn first, which means you have to slow down a bit before pushing your way up. I’ve figured out just how fast to go to make the turn and then up the hill.

The last time around I was going to stop at the bottom and photograph it, but at the last minute dropped into low gear and headed up the slope. It felt great! I now feel completely prepared for Saturday’s 26-mile ride.

There’s still time to contribute. Click HERE to go to my personal page and donate to Hill Country Ride for AIDS. I just have $250 to go to meet my fund raising goal. Please help!

© Suzanne Freeman 2012

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Last Official Training Ride: Piece o’ Cake

Bridge over Lady Bird Lake, Austin, Texas, taken from Congress Ave. Bridge

It’s hard to believe, but Saturday’s 12-mile training ride was a piece o’ cake. Yes, I had a few tough hills to pull, but the overall ride was easy and short. I’ve come a long way from 6 weeks ago when I felt overwhelmed by an 8-mile trek on relatively flat roads.

View from the last bit of the last training ride before the big race: a shot of downtown Austin from south of the river.

I showed up late and without a map, because I printed the wrong one and went to the wrong meeting place first. Fortunately I was early, so I made it to the real meet-up just in time. (I love Smart Phones!)

Thanks to Dale, I didn’t need a map. He pretty much stuck with me until I was far enough along to find my way back to the Bike Shop on Lamar and Barton Springs Road.

I was not the slowest one this time either! Thanks, Chelsea, for making me feel like a pro for the first time ever! In Chelsea’s defense, she was riding a rebuilt bike on its first foray since being found rusting in a field. She spent 4 months rebuilding it. It’s a beauty, too, just needs a few more adjustments.

Chelsea and I hung together walking a few really tough hills and taking the short route. I wanted to do the longer one, but had to meet the family at a bridal shop to watch my niece try on gowns. I’ve never seen so much satin and sparkle in my life, but that’s another story and another set of pictures for another time and place. (She is going to be a beautiful bride!)

Lesson learned on this ride: use gloves. I tried out my new gloves and was so much happier at the end of the ride. My hands didn’t fall asleep or get raw and sweaty. Some of that funny equipment bicyclists wear is for good reason. I may end up in spandex yet. NOT!

THIS IS THE LAST WEEK BEFORE THE BIG RIDE ON SATURDAY! Interested in donating a few bucks to the cause? Click HERE to go to my personal page on the Hill Country Ride for AIDS website. I just need another $250 to meet my goal!

© Suzanne Freeman 2012

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My Bike Friendly Neighborhood

Secret passage to the Veloway

Thanks to the wily nature of high school kids, you can get to the Veloway from behind Bowie High School.

Yesterday, I cruised out of my garage on Blue and lit out for a 22-mile ride along Slaughter Lane to South Loop 1. It only takes me 10 minutes to get to the Veloway from home, but this time I went the long 12-mile route. I headed south on 45/South Loop 1 to RR 1626 where I turned around and headed back north. Then I took a few turns on the Veloway before cutting through the back way to Bowie High School and home, which is only 3-miles from the school. According to my speedometer, I rode 22 miles altogether.

Back way to Veloway

To use the secret passage from Bowie HS to the Veloway, you have to ford a wash. Except there is rarely any water in it.

I successfully pulled the hill that gave me trouble on my first ever training ride, which made me feel like I’ve made some tremendous progress! I had only one problem, and that was in my right hand. It feel asleep twice, so I bought a pair of riding gloves last night when I went to the Hill Country Ride orientation. I also bought a flat tire repair kit to hook onto my bike seat, so I’m all ready for the ride on April 28.

Only 8 more days until the big day! If you’d like to donate to the cause, visit my personal page (click on this!) on the Hill Country Ride for AIDS website. I am trying to raise $1,250. Only $245 more to go!

© Suzanne Freeman 2012

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Against the Wind

Hum “Against the Wind” by Bob Seger when you click on the video link above. Then see if you can hear yourself against the wind!

Training Ride, Georgetown

The training gang in Georgetown, Texas.

Saturday’s training ride set two courses: one for 44 miles and one for 29. I was so nervous about this ride (I took the 29-mile option) that I almost didn’t go. Then I read the description. This ride is almost identical to what we will be doing on Ride Day April 28. I loaded up Blue Belle and made the 45-minute drive to Georgetown.

No, I didn’t make it the whole way, but I did do 26.7 miles. Tony the safety driver in the red truck pulled up to me after three and a half hours in 25 miles per hour wind and said, “Get in.” Because there were already three other seasoned riders in the truck, I didn’t feel so bad about it. Without the wind, I would have made those last two miles!

Walburg, Texas

Walburg, Texas, is where the wind turned against us on this 29 mile training ride.

I loved this ride, despite the wind. I seriously felt the power of my legs for the first time since my training began six weeks ago. I didn’t have to walk any hills until our route turned into the wind and then I only walked two. I was using gears 5, 6 and 7 like I used to use 1, 2, and 3. It is now easier for me to use gears 3 and 4 to go up a hill than 1 and 2.

A ride of that distance along country roads can be both breathtakingly beautiful and somewhat sorrowful. Dead things found along the road: snake, possum, armadillo, donkey, and orange house cat.

Best part of the ride came between miles 15 and 20. The road was fairly flat and though windy I hit some kind of zen oneness with the bike and the road that was exhilarating and joyful. Just thinking about getting back on Blue and reliving that feeling of the open road makes me giddy.

Next week is a short training ride, although I’ll do a several  by myself before the big Day April 28. Time is running out to give! Go for it by clicking on my personal page.

© Suzanne Freeman 2012

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Roy Guerrero Park: 9 Miles

Roy Guerrero Park

Downtown Austin as viewed from Roy Guerrero Park south of the river.

Getting 9 miles out of Roy Guerrero Parktook some strategic riding. I spent about an hour and a half in the southeast Austin park on Monday, which can at times be beautiful, practical and a bit rugged. Above is a view of downtown Austin from one of the many great picnic gazebos along the waterfront.

No Trespassing Bridge

Do Not Enter didn’t stop me at Roy Guerrero Park. Nice ride.

The inconsistent trail keeps you alert. You’re gliding along one minute on red gravel, the next on pavement, then suddenly it all gives way to rough, rocky mountain-biking terrain. Blue Belle’s got the fat tires for it, but I prefer to sail along if I can.

A few good hills got my blood and legs pumping along the gravel trail by the Austin Hostel. I peddled past empty baseball fields, people fishing, picnicking, spooning, and just relaxing. I also took a side trip across the bridge pictured just to the right, which is actually behind a gate and a “Closed Trail” sign. I did not let that stop me and I’m glad. It was about a mile long and through some beautiful landscape. I ran into some urban campers, but we didn’t bother each other beyond a wave and smile.

My favorite part of the ride was the flowers. Not a lot, but the ones there were beautiful. I spotted my first poppies, growing along the trail around the outfield of the ball park.

Poppies at Roy Guerrero Park

A poppy along the ball field’s edge at Roy Guerrero Park.

Although I enjoyed the ride, I won’t be returning. The “Austin, Texas, Bicycle Map” does not accurately represent the park’s trails, which is what drew me to it in the first place. Final assessment: Nice park, not a good place for a bike ride.

17 Days until the Hill Country Ride for AIDS. Donate to the cause on my personal page: Freeman Rider!

© Suzanne Freeman 2012

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Can’t Catch Me, I’m Too Slow!

On West 6th Street, ready to roll on a short but hilly training ride.

This Saturday’s training ride was a bit shorter than usual, but much more hilly! I rode 11 miles through Austin neighborhoods, starting at 5th and West Lynn, all along Balcones (VERY hilly), some Enfield and Lake Austin Blvd. where there was too much traffic for me! I am making the hills better, but that one you see to the right I definitely walked. Also, a biggie on Balcones.

A hill over Mopac

This hill is a LOT steeper than it looks. Believe me. It’s one of those central Austin bridges over MoPac.

A special treat along the way was passing by a friend’s house on Niles Road. She came out to wave me on! Of course, our leader lost track of me when I stopped to chat. He was surprised to see me when I finally pulled into the parking garage at Live Oak Pharmacy.

“I thought I lost you!” he said. “I kept thinking I’d catch up to you.”

“You can’t catch me!” I told him. “I’m much too slow!”

I learned at ride’s end that the fundraising is at least $200,000 behind where they were last year at this time. I’ve met my goal of $1,000, but would like to raise more. Don’t be afraid to log onto my personal page and pledge:

Next Saturday, I am going to attempt 30 miles!

© Suzanne Freeman 2012

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23 Miles Through Leander!

The countryside in Leander, Texas

Remember that song, “The Bear Went Over the Mountain”? Well, I felt just like that bear as I struggled through 23 miles of ever rising hill county roads in Leander Saturday. This training trip for the Hill Country Ride for AIDS was by far the hardest bike ride I’ve ever embarked upon. I got over the hill and what do you think I saw? I saw another you know what….

Getting to roll on the Leander training ride. (No, I don’t know who that is next to me.)

I walked only three of the many, many hills I faced, and of course the safety monitor dude on the Harley always checked on me when I was walking. Really, I rode most of the way! Is it possible that ride was ALL uphill!

It took me three hours and I was lapped by the show offs going around twice. I took advantage of my little ol’ lady status to get out of traffic toward the end. The last two miles were smooth sidewalk sailing!

My lesson on this ride: TAKE MORE WATER!

The ride was beautiful, the day just moderately warm, and the feeling when I was done FANTASTIC!

NEXT WEEK:  An 11-mile trip through Austin neighborhoods. The actual fund raising ride is April 28.

I’m only $250 away from my $1,000 goal, so don’t be afraid to click on the following link and add your support!

© Suzanne Freeman 2012

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