Bicycling in the Time of Coronavirus

“Janet, I just read your latest entry and it made me think. In our conversations we skirted around the afterlife, and spirits, and much more. It makes me think, now more than ever that spirits do exist. Not in the ghostly, rowdy, animated Hollywood way, but truly they do exist. How well you knew him shapes your thought processes. How much you loved him gives you strength and empathy for others. He is always with you. As we spoke, I began to know your Jim. We never met but I began to know him, to hear from him. I began to see you in ways that maybe very few people have seen you, though I am certain Jim did. In some way he guided our conversation. Not as a “medium” casting voices into my head, but with his spirit I felt him come to you through our conversation. You love him deeply and he loves you. There will be many more times he will come to you through others. His generosity may be shown through the acts of others you may not even know yet. His kindness will aid you in your endeavors through the kindness of others. His thoughtfulness will allow others to point the way through conundrums large and small. As we talked I felt something of his love for you and his insistence to be helpful to you. He will continue to do so as long as you are open to him through others. Bless you, Janet, we all love you.” J.P.

The one activity, bicycling, that Jim and I did together, is one I continue to fully embrace and enjoy as a solo. As many of you know about three weeks ago I had my Jamis Road Bike stolen. It was heartbreaking to see that bike disappear from my life. It had been my ride for many years, Jim bought it for me and I had to let it go. It has not been easy.

Carbondale M300 Mountain Bike

Shortly after this event, within two days, I became the owner of a cute blue Carbondale M300 Mountain Bike. A fellow local tour guide, Jay gave me the bike. It has since been cleaned up, had it’s maiden ride and is ready to go. I am cautious about mountain bikes, my history with them has not always been a positive one.

The first time I was on a mountain bike, I was biking to Point Reyes National Seashore, hike, and bike camp with a friend. I met up with a boulder, flipped over the front end of the bike, the bike came over on top of me and as I was laying on the ground trying to figure out where I was wounded, my friend came up to me and said, “Wow, Janet that was really cool”. I couldn’t be angry with him as I bet it was really cool to watch. He made up for it by taking me to Calistoga Hot Springs to recover. I ended up with whiplash to my neck. I have tread carefully around mountain bikes since that experience. Now, several years later I hope that the ride will be smoother and safer.

Even with a new mountain bike, I knew I wanted another road bike. I began the search. I looked at new bikes, fancy, clean, and smart and expensive. I contacted a friend of mine whose husband “does bikes”. He asked me questions:

  • How tall are you? This helps to size a bike.
  • What did I want it for? I wanted it to ride.
  • Did it have to be new? No.
  • Was weight important? Yes, at least a little. I need to lift it on and off my bike rack.
  • How much was I willing to spend? As much as it took to make me happy with my ride.

Don began to look for road bikes. The day after our conversation, he sent me a link to a road bike on Craigslist. It had everything I wanted. It was the right size, it has great components, and is lightweight, weighing in at about 14 lbs. The price was within an acceptable range. My friend Ward and I went to look at the bike. It was in very good condition, the ride was smooth. I needed time to think. Edwin, who was selling it, recommended I take a few days to think it over. That was a very kind thing to do.

I went home and began to consider whether this was the bike for me. I contacted another friend, John, who knows a lot about road bikes and he agreed the bike was a good option. Then I asked Jim, my deceased husband. He loved bikes. I know it sounds odd to ask a person who is no longer here yet I did.

I  met up with my friends, Jim and Rhonda, in the desert this past winter. At the beginning of this post I placed a quote that was the continuation of a conversation Jim, Rhonda, and I had when we met in January. I was struggling to make a decision regarding my treatment for thyroid cancer. The conversation we had helped guide me to make the best right decision to follow through with treatment. The question “What would Jim say to you?” helped me find the answer I needed. I too believe that my Jim continues to help, love, and support me in odd and interesting ways. Remind me sometime to tell you the story of lost items being found when I have asked Jim for help. He does continue to shape who I am. There are many times I am thankful for that invisible support.

K2 Mod 5 Campagnolo Road Bike

I did ask Jim about this bike. I strongly felt, even though it was the first bike I looked at, it was meant for me. I believe that Jim (my husband) was pushing me towards this bike. It was a clear and insistent message.  A week later I contacted Edwin, we bargained on the price and now I am the proud owner of a carbon and aluminum frame  K2 Mod 5 Campagnolo racing/road bike. I have been riding it and it rides like the wind. It is a beautiful bike, well taken care of, and my new ride. I am definitely happy with my choice.

And….I get to buy new accessories as several of mine disappeared with my Jamis bike. Sigh. Shopping for sporting goods ranks at the top of the list of types of shopping I enjoy doing.

Jim, my husband

It is a good time to bike. Roads that are often filled with cars are free and wide open. The city of San Diego has been repaving so the rides are smooth. I wear my mask and have begun to learn where I really need to wear it. There are certain areas where people tend to congregate. Wearing a mask has been a learning experience when exercising.

I really enjoy the sense of freedom my bikes offer me. I am ready to ride.

Jim will always be with me. I choose to let him continue to be a part of my life. I like that I can reach out to him when I need clarification. I do believe that he reaches me through others. He certainly did that day this winter, speaking through my friend Jim. (Whoa there are just too many Jims) I can keep moving forward and still have him with me. And trust me he is a great finder of lost items.

 

 

Tour Guiding-A Stolen Bike & A New Bike

Guiding at Torrey Pines Golf Course

In 1997 I quit my career as a nurse. After taking a year off, going back to school and having fun,  I began a search for a new career. A small ad in the local newspaper guided me into a career that continued until I retired. For fourteen years I was a Tour Guide in San Diego and a Tour Director, taking seniors and other ages, on tours throughout the United States, Canada, Alaska, Mexico, and South America. It was a great job and one I was well suited for. Often I was the one who stood at the front of the bus with a microphone in hand, giving tours, maintaining a sense of humor, and guiding everyone to have a good time.

What makes up a good tour guide or director:

  • Knowledge. One has to be willing to research often on the places they guide. Guests expect you to know every rock, tree, flower, and more. In San Diego, I took avail of any local tours, refreshing myself on the local facts and lore. I read books and asked lots of questions. When I was planning an outbound tour, I was often busy for up to six weeks before a trip, preparing and refreshing my knowledge.
  • Humor. When all else fails a good sense of humor will push one through the roughest of patches.
  • Kindness and Caring. What made me so well suited for this job was the fact that I really cared about each person, even the difficult ones, on my trips and tours around San Diego. My goal was to make sure everyone had the best experience possible. I always hoped there might be a “wow” moment for each individual.
  • A willingness to lose sleep. Long after my guests were off to dreamland I was up studying for the next day. If someone was ill in the middle of the night, I was up with them.
  • Flexibility and no I don’t mean that I can touch my toes. When things go wrong on a trip or tour, a good tour guide or tour director needs to be able to change things on the fly.
  • Generally, we need to know how everything works. Where do we meet guests at the airport? Where can the motorcoaches pick up and drop off? How do we register these guests for a conference? What roads do I take to get from point A to point B? The list goes on.

What really made this job worthy of my time, especially on a local level was the sense of community among the local tour guides. Part of work, was meeting up with the other tour guides. I looked forward to seeing everyone I worked with. The tour guides in San Diego are a tight-knit group. We all know each other, we lament with each other, share the joys and gossip, and enjoy hanging out with each other. I love the local tour guides.

My sweet red bike

A few days ago my beloved road bike was stolen. Sigh. As with almost everything I own, it carries a story with it. It is a fast little red Jamis road bike.  Jim, my now deceased husband bought it for me. I loved that bike. I loved riding it with him. After he died I found that riding my bike was the type of sport I still loved the most. When my bike disappeared I was heartbroken and at a bit of loss about what to do.

I immediately discovered grief, again. I know I have to grieve for the loss of this precious bike. Life is about impermanence and this is being taught to me again. Sigh.

I know that I will get a new road bike. I love riding too much to be without one. Until then what was I suppose to do? I went on Facebook (yes I know some of you are not fond of social media) posted on my personal page that I had my bike stolen, and was wondering if anyone had a bike I could borrow until I could buy another bike. Within an hour, yes an hour, a fellow tour guide, Jay, posted on my page that he had a bike that was given to him by another tour guide, Bev, and he wanted to give it to me. I went to his house which is very close to where I am staying, took it for a ride, and came home with a Cannondale M300 mountain bike.

My New Ride

How incredibly cool is this? How kind and caring. The tour guide community in San Diego is strong. Even though I have retired from guiding, I still meet up with guides, catch up on all the gossip, and know that if I need anything at all, I can reach out to most of the guides I know and if they can help, they will. I want to thank Jay for stepping forward and being generous and kind and caring to my need. It is not unusual that people will step forward in a crisis (big or small). It brings out the best in most of us. It certainly brought out the best in Jay and I will be forever grateful for to him and to this blue mountain bike, currently getting tuned up.

In a few days’ time, I will be out on my new bike, learning the ins and outs of a completely different style of bike. It will help me gain new knowledge and skills. I am anxiously waiting to ride it around the bay. I am anxiously waiting for my first ride.

Today and each day I ride that blue Mountain Bike I will be grateful for Jay’s gift to me. I will be thankful for a job that gave me the opportunity to meet and know such fine people. Today and as always I am grateful.

Thank you, Jay. You are the best.

 

It Takes Just One Person-It Takes a Village

Today I went on a bike ride. This is my last day in Borrego Springs for a bit and maybe until next year. I decided to bike to Henderson Canyon Road to see what the flowers looked like. Were they there? Were they big? Were they small? And off I went.

When I arrived at Henderson Canyon Road there were paper napkins all over the road. It appeared that a crate had fallen off something and smashed and it’s contents, the napkins were scattered far and wide. The wind was picking them up and blowing them into my desert. How could that happen? I propped my bike on a sign and decided to take action. I was going to collect every single napkin. I didn’t care how long it took. They were not blowing into my beloved desert.

I knew it was going to be a chore, but I got started. A few minutes passed and another bicyclist rode by. He looked back, turned around, got off his bike and started to pick up napkins. Two more saw us, they got off their bikes and joined our effort. Four more came saw all of us, got off their bikes and started picking up napkins. Before I knew it, every single napkin was in someone’s hands.

What to do with those napkins? Someone had a bag and in they went. Others got stuffed into a day pack. The rest got stuffed into pockets. Except for the smashed wood bits no one would have ever known that a few minutes before there were hundreds of napkins on the road, blowing off into the desert. We picked up every single one.

When the first biker stopped, I laughed when I saw him start picking up napkins. When the others stopped my heart glowed. None of us talked very much, we just went to work. What a team. I enjoyed this moment in time. I truly had no idea this would happen.

One person’s action can have a chain effect. And that is why I titled this post “It Takes Just One Person/It Takes a Village. My action triggered everyone else and for those few moments, we became a village. It was companionable and fun. And when it was done, we thanked each other, mounted our bikes and left. I was proud and delighted.

If I hear someone say, “What difference can just one person make? What difference can I make?” I now know it can make a difference. It is a simple lesson with impactful insight.

It was a good day today.

 

 

 

 

 

Separating Ways-Almost

Cat solo

Cat solo

 

Saturday, Cat (cycling the coast with her pups) and I, chose separate paths for the rest of her trip down the 1 and the 101. She is strong and has been cycling on her own for several days in a row for over a month now. Saturday I decided, since I was not needed any more, I would like to venture off in my own direction. I want to explore some of the area around central California on my own time and schedule.

I am still carrying the gear she does not need. She loaded up the rest of the dog food and other essentials and now is totally independent as she finishes her ride down to the Mexico border. I am still there in case of emergency but that is it. We will meet up in San Diego after her ride is complete and sort out the gear.

I hope Cat can appreciate what we have done for each other. At the beginning of this trip we had several long conversations about the “what ifs” of this journey. I asked her if she would have pursued this trip without me and she said, she did not think so. I am honored to have been a part of this adventure. I am glad I could more than, get her on her way and help out when I was needed. I imagine that many of the through bikers would have appreciated the support that I was able to give to her. It is a hard journey, physically, emotionally and more. Now it is time for Cat to fly solo and for me to figure out what is next.

This has been an interesting two plus months on the road. I have learned a lot about myself. I have learned what I can tolerate and not tolerate. Whoa, I am only 64 years old and I am just now figuring this out. Mostly what I have learned is that I want to be appreciated, not more than necessary yet appreciated none the less. I guess I really want to appreciate myself and I am getting there. I didn’t always feel this appreciation on this journey of two. Because of the long days, Cat did not always have any more to give at the end of her day. This trip truly tested us both in many different ways.

I was the one who instigated our separation. I felt like a mother who was seeing her sidekick fly the coop. I am glad to know she is strong and continuing her journey down the coast. I am proud of what she has accomplished and what she will accomplish still. It will be good to meet at the end of her trip.

img_6158 img_6167Meanwhile I am in the town of Atascadero this morning in a sweet little coffee house, typing like crazy. I spent last night at a Harvest Host site near Paso Robles. The Rio Seco Winery is a small family operation with an interesting history. It was used as a film set for the 1987 movie “The Junkman.” The barn, where the tasting room is today was also part of a major drug bust. It was used as a growing house for marijuana. Today it is a lovely small winery specializing in red wines. The sunset was gorgeous from my small house on wheels.

Today I am not sure where I am wandering off to. Wander I shall. I think I am going off to look for those twisty little back roads that I love so much.

Please continue to follow Cat’s trip. After more than two thirds of her trip was over, her bike is now in good shape. She is riding strong.

Elsie, the Roadtrek and Me are riding strong, too.

RT in the Redwoods

RT in the Redwoods

Janet in the Redwoods

Janet in the Redwoods

Elsie the rave

Elsie the Brave

Changing the Situation

imagesSometimes travel is easy. At those times I sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. There are moments in travel that are hard, things don’t go right and the trip becomes a struggle. I believe the term is “Roadblock”.

Riding down the coast with Cat has had moments of each. The ride itself has been comfortable and the sights have been rewarding and awe inspiring. Cat’s days are long and often she is tired when arriving at camp. It is hard for her to want to interact and be social. Sometime I have been lonely on this trip and I long for the socialization at the end of the day. These two separate daily events have made it hard for both of us.

About 2 weeks ago we decided that staying together each day might not be the healthiest thing for us. A friend of mine reminded me, it is important to remember that this is a situation that Cat and I have chosen to take on. We can change the situation anytime we want. We decided to try a different approach to our current situation. After a few different experiments on how we could make things work smoother, Cat is now riding unassisted. That means she is carrying her tent, sleeping bag and all her gear with her on her bike. I am there if she needs me and I am somewhat paralleling her ride down the coast. We touch base by text every few days to make sure this is working for her and myself. So far, it is working well. As Cat has gotten stronger and increased her mileage, she has become more independent. It feels, to me, like a natural progression.

49167

Paralleling each other has given me the time to explore more at my leisure. I can pick my campsites and stay a few days or more. This has allowed me to relax more and not feel like I always need to be on top of where we stay the next night. It has given Miss Elsie the Cat a few dog free nights in a row. I think that is a good thing for her.

Friendships are fragile. They need to be taken care of on a daily basis or even more frequently. The hardest thing to do sometimes is to communicate with others. I have found on this trip that often when things have gotten stressful between the two of us, it is a result of miscommunication. Our friendship is new, we have not known each other long. It takes practice and time with other human beings to learn how to communicate well. We are a work in progress.

I travel alone, now that Jim has died. He and I traveled together, frequently. We had our moments of miscommunication. It wasn’t always stress free. Most of the time, though, we did communicate well. It was usually smooth and easy and supportive. The longer we were together the easier and smoother it became.

Now that I am alone again I have to learn how to communicate with others again. It is not an easy process. We as humans are fragile and can be broken pretty easily, at times. We are also resilient and can pick up the pieces and move on again. This combination of fragility and resilience is what makes friendships worth the effort. This is why Cat and I keep adjusting our situation as we move down the 101. We are not ready to give up on the trip or our friendship.

Sometimes it is worth the effort one puts into a situation. This whole adventure with Cat continues to allow me to grow and define who I am as a human being on this planet. It is giving me the opportunity to find my strength to learn how to communicate freely and openly with another human being and hold my ground. And, if this situation doesn’t work then it is OK to change it again.

images-1

 

 

 

 

Dreaming

images

Everyone has dreams, big or small. Dreams are important to the dreamer.

 

My dream was to trek in Nepal. Back in the late 80’s that dream came true as I hiked for 19 days in the Solu-Khumbu region of Mount Everest. It was a life changing experience for me. For many years after that trek I spoke of events before Nepal and after Nepal.

Riding the River

Riding the River

About ten years ago Jim and I did a 15 day river raft down the Grand Canyon. It too was a life altering experience and really fun. It certainly was another dream that found fruition. We often spoke of events before Grand Canyon and after Grand Canyon.

Cat & her Canine Companions

Cat & her Canine Companions

I would like to introduce you to my friend and fellow adventurer, Cat. I first met Cat when she was biking across the United States. She was towing her dogs and all her gear and was hoping to make it to the east coast. Unfortunately the trip ended in New Mexico. Not one to be defeated, she bought a travel trailer and now she and her pups call it home.

Cat is about to begin one of her dreams. She is bicycling, with her two dogs, the Pacific Coast Route from Vancouver, BC to Mexico. You can follow her blog by clicking the link below.

The Silver Hooligan and Her Hounds

Cat is not without some physical issues, yet she is determined to complete this route. Because she was concerned about riding the route alone, she asked if Miss Elsie the cat and I could be her “sag wagon”. The timing was perfect as I really wasn’t sure what to do after the house sold.

I met up with Cat a couple of weeks ago. We camped for four nights in Crescent City, CA. A day later we met up in Medford, Oregon. She joined the adventures of Mary and me, exploring the Medford and Ashland area.

Two days ago we left Mary and Medford behind and began the journey north to Vancouver. It was a long drive through some beautiful country. We crossed the border last night and after a drive through the city of Vancouver, camped outside the city. Today the adventure began. While Cat biked the 10 miles to the port, Elsie and I moved the Roadtrek to the Ferry.

The Team

The Team

What is my part of this adventure? I am not entirely sure. Here is what I consider to be the many facets of my part in this epic adventure.

  • Make sure that Cat and her dogs stay safe while out there riding.
  • I am carrying  her tent and other supplies. She will be hauling a lighter load.
  • Making sure that she is hydrated and that we both eat healthy.
  • I have medical supplies on board if she needs them.
  • Create a place to rest, when she needs a break.
  • Elsie and I are her cheering section, routing her on. “Go Cat, Go!”
  • I have my bike with me. I plan to ride and meet her some days. We can then ride in to our camp for the night, together. That will be really fun.
  • Enjoying each other’s company on her rest days.
  • I am sure this will be a continuing role of discovery as we develop a routine.

While she is bicycling I will have the opportunity to discover new places. My camera will not be far behind. I will share highlights of this epic adventure as it unfolds. Our goal is to be at the Mexican border by late October.

IMG_3660

Crossing on the Ferry.

Today we traveled by ferry to Vancouver Island. Cat covered about 16 miles today. We are staying in a lovely campground right on Nanaimo Bay (Horseshoe Bay). it is a beautiful site. Tomorrow while Cat rides I will have the chance to explore the area between our camp tonight and the camp tomorrow night.

It is an honor and a privilege to be invited to share someone else’s dream. I love the fact that I can meander along short stretches for a whole day. It makes it fun to come into the campground and share experiences with Cat at the end of the day.

Tonight I am grateful for Cat. Her adventure is giving me direction. I felt a little loss after the house sold. Now I have a purpose and it is fun to watch someone else dream unfold.