We departed downtown Charleston, with our morning ritual perfected. Drag luggage and bicycle to hotel lobby and park at the first open space making sure the other hotel guests had no access to the exits. Load water-logged (from sweat / humidity) luggage onto the U-Haul truck. Consume a Kind bar for breakfast. The same Kind of bar that will be consumed over the next 7 hours, and wonder if that is really a Kind way to treat your body. Check your bicycle lights, GPS navigation software, pump the tires and spin the wheels listening to the new whirring sounds that weren’t there before. Seek out the ECG bike mechanic and decide he’s too busy helping others. Decide to troubleshoot yourself. Or at least with select members of your riding team, those without advanced bicycle mechanic skills.
The morning ritual begins. Rummage through your bag looking for dry shoes and dry clothes. Wonder why all your clothes are wet, and realize the wet ones fused with the dry collection. Do the sniff test. Everything smells gamey. Open the hotel door to check the outside temperature, and watch the humid steamy air roll in. You feel your body temperature rise, and you instinctively wipe the steam off your forehead. Close the door, fast. Staying dry is out. It’s all about the nose. Choose the least gamey outfit and hope your bike-mates won’t draft too close.
After a long conversation with an Ocean Isle Beach native working the meat department at the town grocery, he assured me that not only are alligators good eating and taste like chicken, but they get ’em fresh from Georgia, which from my calculation was two states away.
Me: Will they chase us on bicycles?
The Butcher: Yes, ma’am.
Me: You, mean, while we’re riding our bikes, they’ll come out and chase us?
The Butcher: No ma’am. Only when you stop.
Whaaat? You’re doing what?
We are East Coast Greenway. Riding our bikes one week a year, to cover a segment of miles from Maine to Key West, FL – and this year, Wilmington NC to Savannah GA. Riding the congested east coast, as pioneers, bringing visibility to what roadways need to be more bike-friendly and tour townships on segments that include bike trails and low volume roads. The East Coast Greenway works with municipalities to form safe bike travels state-by-state – because who wouldn’t want to travel without a car?
Continue reading East Coast Greenway: Wilmington to Ocean Isle Beach NC
A decision to run another marathon might include mulling the details of fitness, nutrition, volume running, long runs, speed-work, hill work, the course layout — is it flat? hilly? urban? oh-natural? — all of which require dedicated planning and training for 16 weeks prior to showing up. Or, the decision might evolve from a chance meet at a running Expo, where two lovely Canadians sitting at a booth in Corning, New York, describe the views along the course, surrounded by the Ottawa River and the Rideau Canal, the friendly spectators that line the course; while speaking with that pleasing French-Fargo twang. The ladies behind the Ottawa Marathon booth multi-tasked, handing out brochures, patiently explaining geography to Americans who were unclear if Ottawa was a city or a province, greeting other runners with more Bon Jour, and then describing croissants at the finish line. I found myself mesmerized by their friendly Canadian vibe, losing all need to weigh the pros and cons of marathon training, and saying ‘why not? sign me up’.
It took one week of Maryland sub-freezing temperatures, an attempt to turn spring into winter, when I surpassed my cold-limit. No desire to step outdoors, no desire to breathe with ice breath, no desire to layer up like the michelin man, no desire to go for a run. Digging though a pile of sports bags tucked into a closet that rarely opened, the trifecta of swim suit, swim cap and goggles appeared, exactly where I left them years ago. Swim gear that would transform to running gear. Indoors. At the deep end of the county public pool. Which required a pool pass. Not for a day, not for a week. An annual commitment. And access to the pool is based on age. I had aged considerably since my last pool appearance. You’ll need a senior pass, ma’am, the grey-haired man behind the desk said, and when I realized that benefit came with a discount, I dropped the age-denier chirade. Continue reading Senior: Certified member
The early hours — of the Women’s March in DC
“Anyone need some coffee?” Doris asked, waving the 10-cup pot high in a general direction to no one in particular, and taking a quick peek at her watch, 5:45AM. The ladies were busy introducing themselves, Tonya from red-state Tennessee, Margaret from Boca Raton, Cathleen from Denver, with connections to the East Coast, specifically Maryland, ranging from loose to long-term friendships with Dawn, Doris and Lois. A hum of simultaneous chatter buzzed — when did you arrive?, what’s the weather like in Denver?, what do you do for a living? — and Doris gently pulled the empty Dunkin Donut cup from Lois — not bothering to wait for a re-fill response. Doris’ home was closest to DC and the final stop for flushed toilets.
Manny looked away from Jo and over toward the runners who had congregated across the street. They moved about effortless, laughing between bagel bites, sipping coffee, standing, looking around, checking the time, bending into the most elongated poses, posturing, preparing for The Wilderness. And the others, relaxed or maybe tired, sitting, taking in more than a sip or two of coffee, drinking the entire cup then buying another, in less of a hurry, sharing the salt and pepper if anyone asked, napkins too, talking philosophically, nodding and tipping their heads to and fro.
Manny and Jo, stood poised, at attention as two of the fittest manikins styled the latest in springtime athletic wear for women in a Treyvor’s Department Store show window on Fifth Avenue in New York City, two blocks west of The Wilderness. Across the street was Hatties Bagels one of the few coffee and bagel stores open at 6AM on a Saturday. It was one of the few times the City slept, with the exception of the early exercisers, the runners of course. And, it was no surprise that runners congregated at Hatties, in eyeshot of the veteran stick figures of sport fashions, sipping coffee and sharing bagels, many not even realizing they stood in the playground of a fitness fashion makeover.
How we traveled and what we were expecting…
Sunday 10/16/2016: We boarded the Adonia in Miami, a 600′ boutique cruise ship that hosts 750 passengers — far less of a behemoth than big sister cruise ships with 3000+ passengers. We were immediately attracted to the Adonia theme — a smaller ship of like-minded passengers visiting Cuba with a purpose. A purpose of having people-to-people encounters, sharing of cultures, one person at a time. The trip wasn’t about politics, a badge in Rosetta Stone Spanish, travel embargoes or governments — but simply meeting the Cuban people, learning more about their culture and sharing some of ours in return. We would have 4 days on land: 2 days at Havana, 1 day in Cienfuegos and the final day in Santiago de Cuba.