Friday, February 13, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day & A Bicycle Goal

First, and perhaps most importantly, a very happy Valentine's Day to all! I hope you have plans to spend it pedaling, but I know that many areas are currently experiencing deep snow and cold temperatures, so regardless I hope you'll spend it with one or many individuals you love.
*Image from Loveland Chamber of Commerce & found here
As mentioned recently, both riding a bike and kickboxing have taken a hit with our current house project. Only in the last week or so have things begun to get back to something that resembles a normal schedule. Oh, there is still much to be done, but both Sam and I have realized that we won't survive this renovation if we don't allow ourselves some time to do the things that we enjoy and/or simply need to do.

With that, I recently returned to kickboxing to discover that the owner-instructors have implemented some new things in the hope of helping their students achieve personal goals.
*Image found here
I have stated in the past that I am not a New Year's resolution sort of person, and I stand by that statement. I know that goals and having specific, attainable steps of a goal are important in order for growth to take place, but I don't find the new year to be a particularly good time to set these up for myself. Really, I find that I struggle with setting goals at many points throughout the year because I often am not entirely sure of what it is that I actually want to achieve. Then, frustration follows, so it's often much easier to simply move on to other projects and not bother with such things.

Imagine my dismay (horror?) when approached by one of the kickboxing instructors who wanted me to define a goal (or goals) for 2015. More accurately, he stated that he wanted to meet with me outside of class to discuss these goals. Ugh. I was definitely not looking forward to this meeting. In fact, I pretty well had myself worked up into a tizzy about all of it because I honestly didn't even know where to begin or what would seem a reasonable goal.

I am not a racer, and I'm not going to ever in my life come close to a winning time at any sort of race - be that on foot, bicycle, or otherwise. So, what sort of goal does one set? I've attempted these sort of goals in the past, but rarely do they end well.

As the two owner-instructors and I sat staring at each other, they tried desperately to pull anything out of me. They know I ride a bike, but they also know that I have no desire to enter races. One asked if I'd have interest in doing "mud runs," to which I responded that I don't run (As a side note, I do run, but again, it's very slow and I have no real desire to be a part of any sort of race of this sort. I ran a marathon once and have no desire to do it again, so my running is limited to around the neighborhood and possibly a few miles on a treadmill in the winter when I can't do the things I'd rather be doing).

I have toyed with the idea of doing my own version of a half Ironman triathlon, but the reality is that my body is not well-suited for running, so I don't know that it would be the best choice for me.

After several minutes of successfully avoiding the topic, one of the instructors said, "What if you rode every street in the city on your bike." I couldn't help but giggle a bit as I had planned already to do this. In fact, I'd wanted to do it last year, but it just never happened. "Okay," I agreed. After which they proceeded to tell me that I'd need to map out my plan and figure out a deadline. Argh. It's as if they don't know me at all. G.E. doesn't plan things - she just does (or doesn't, as is more often the case).

Not wanting to actually have to calculate how many road miles there are in our city, I called up the Public Works office and was directed to a gentleman who informed me that there are approximately 334 "center line" miles in our incorporated city.

Fair enough. The problem is in the details, however.

There are several unincorporated areas for which he was unable to provide an exact number of miles. These roads are also spread all over the city, so, would I want to include these areas in a bike riding goal or not? I had a good starting point as far as mileage, but I knew the plan would have to be sketched in some other manner. Perhaps, by neighborhood.
*Image found here
I happened to come across the interactive neighborhood map pictured above online and thought perhaps that would be a better way to map out the intended rides. The problem is not the 334 miles - I can definitely cover that distance over a number of rides without issue. My biggest concern was exactly where to start and stop the overall big picture ride, and secondly, realizing how slow the riding is going to be because the majority of it will be in neighborhoods.

Additionally, I'd need to find something of interest in each ride, otherwise, it will feel pointless and as though I was merely spinning in circles without end. After my experiment last year with riding a few neighborhoods, I know precisely how nauseating it can become to ride around endless neighborhoods without purpose.

There are also details in regard to how long this sort of adventure could take. I was informed that there is a man who walked all of the city streets in the past, but it should be a bit faster on wheels, I'm thinking. I also don't know if it would make more sense to block out a chunk of time daily over a period of time to ride, or if it is more logical to do longer rides once a week over a stretch of time.

Knowing that I can become distracted once I lose interest, my suspicion is that I need to complete the goal as quickly as possible from start to finish, so whether that means shorter rides every day or longer rides spread out with a bit more gap, I'm not entirely sure, but your thoughts are always welcome.

Pretty much to sum this all up, I haven't come up with an exact plan yet for the rides, but I did want to share that there will more than likely be reports coming (I'm just not sure how soon they'll come) as I move forward with this plan as a way to document what is taking place. If you have any ideas on how to keep myself excited about this project or things to look for along the way, I'd be happy to hear about that as well.

In the meantime, I hope you're able to enjoy a bit of time riding, and again, a very Happy Valentine's Day to all!


  1. This made me giggle: "G.E. doesn't plan things - she just does (or doesn't, as is more often the case)."
    There is a lesson in there, methinks.... ;)

    I'm spending tomorrow with my nose deep in my textbooks but hope to get out on Sunday with my sweetie.

    Enjoy your day, whatever you and Sam decide to do.

    1. :O) Definitely a lesson. I think the problem is that I often live in what is far ahead of me and not in the moment, so if something is happening soon, I tend not to really plan for it, but then it's easy to just let the moment go and not do anything at all.

      Glad you will have a little bit of time with your Valentine, even if it's another day. No big plans for us (other than working on the house), but at least we'll be together.

  2. Oh GE, I like this idea. I think I could do this also. It suits how I approach cycling on weekends in general: tootle around neighborhoods. Dividing into quadrants makes sense. As an incentive you could stop at a coffee shop, convenience store, complete an errand, visit the library, etc. as part of every outing. Another thought: how to map this? Google maps. List of streets. Wow, GE, you got my cycling brain in an excited tizzy...

    1. I think I definitely need some sort of reason to do it, so I think finding something within each area makes sense. Sort of a this-is-my-reward sort of thing with each ride.

      You'll have to let me know if you do end up riding all the streets at home, Annie. Would love to know how it's going/does go for you. :O)

  3. This is such an awesome goal! I wish I could do this in Memphis, but there are simply too many dangerous neighborhoods here for that. Still, you've got me daydreaming. One thing I've started doing more of lately is trying to figure out how to go by bike to all the places I normally visit using the car. Just today I discovered that the absolutely miserable stretch of road that is Poplar Avenue, which also connects to a lot of the shops and restaurants I want to go to, has wonderful residential streets that run parallel to it. How did I not discover this before? A whole new quadrant of the city is suddenly open to me.

    Your post also made me laugh out loud because you and I are so very different. I am a neurotic planner. I absolutely relish in the opportunity to plot out the course to a goal. In some ways this is a virtue because it means I can be very productive. But in lots of other ways, it can become a problem. Not everything can be planned out, and I want to get better and learning to dive into the moment and to take delight in just letting things happen. One of the things I love about your blog is seeing how naturally good you are at taking life as it comes. I know you've had stress associated with some unpleasant surprises (who hasn't?), but you also show me incredible strength and joy in being open to going wherever the road takes you. Enjoy making your plans to ride every road, but be sure you don't undervalue your wonderful spontaneity.

    1. I understand. I've lived in cities that there was just no way I'd have done this, but I feel pretty fortunate that there aren't really any areas I'd need to avoid. It helps to live in a smaller city too.

      How great to discover a new area that is more accessible by bike! I've done that even living in a small city. Suddenly I realize that there was a much easier way I could have gone or that there are far less busy streets that get me where I need to go with far less motorized traffic. Always a good day to make those discoveries! I hope it will serve you well to have found a new path.

      For the record, I do enjoy enjoy "neurotic planners" as you put it. Your response actually made me think about a time many years ago. It was just after high school ended and my best friend and I were talking early in the morning on the phone. I lived in a small farm city about half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco so it was easy (relatively) to get either direction within a few hours. As my friend and I were chatting on this particular morning, I asked her if she had anything going on that day or if she was busy. She said that she wasn't and so I said, "I really want to go to L.A. to check out a couple of places." She said, "Okay, let me check the calendar." I responded with, "No, I meant today. We could just leave in an hour or so, check the places out and be home before it's too late." There was a long pause on her end followed by, "You want to go today??" She was in such shock that I wouldn't give her weeks, or at least days to plan it out, even though she had nothing else going on. I managed to talk her into the trip, but boy, that was a definite feat! I always remember it though because it was the first time I was acutely aware of the reality that not everyone thinks the same way or has the same ideas when it comes to doing anything.

      You are so right... not everything can be planned out, just as not everything can be taken on with spontaneity either. It's good to have differences so that we are able to balance each other out. If I had it my way I'd be flying all over the place on a whim (obviously life and money don't allow for that, but it's probably the way I'd live if nothing else came into the picture). I have to say, it's easy to get better at letting life just happen when lots of crappy things start happening too. If I allowed every little moment to get to me, I'd likely have imploded by now. Which is not to say that nothing ever gets to me, but I try to pick my moments (sometimes it's perhaps the wrong moment to choose, but hey, I am human). :O)

      I've been described by friends in the past as the character "Phoebe" from the sitcom Friends. I used to take offense to it because I'd always thought her character was so dingy and I've never felt that airhead-ish, but watching episodes every now and again, I start to see the parallels. She wants people to get along but she'll fight for what she believes in, she's laid back but fiesty when she needs to be, she's not as "dumb" as she appears on the surface, she definitely has moments of not always immediately understanding a situation but it's usually because she's caught up in her own head, etc.

      Anyway... I've severely digressed (a la Phoebe, perhaps).

      I will attempt to enjoy the planning process of this; though I have to admit I probably won't do much planning as I tend to just wake up on a given day and move forward. I tend to just prefer to figure it out on the fly. :O)

      Anyway, I want to thank you for reminding me that I can't always just run off and do something without a bit of planning. As Rebecca pointed out as well, sometimes I have to put aside my natural tendencies in favor of the more realistic and simply make a plan.

    2. Ha! I never would have imagined you as Phoebe. At least on the blog you seem much more grounded than that character. In any case, I am way, way more Monica than Phoebe! Riding a bike, though, pulls me closer to spontaneity. Sometimes when I'm out for a ride, I find that I simply can't resist the urge to find out where that road goes....

    3. I wouldn't describe myself as an exact Phoebe-duplicate, but I can see some similarities, for sure. I think I'm probably a little more harsh (at times) and a little more grounded (and less of a space-case - usually).

      It's nice when an activity can take us a little outside of ourselves, and I think riding a bike is a great opportunity for just that.


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