xmlns:og>='http://ogp.me/ns#'> Pedals & Pencils: May 2010

May 31, 2010

Cycling in May

Dear friends and family,

May was an incredible month to cycle in Redding.  Cooler temperatures gave us a real Spring this year and on days when the rain let up, I hopped in the saddle and pedaled my heart out.

411 miles

I've never ridden 400 miles in a month before and it was a fun goal to chase after this month.  From riding in my living room to climbing up to Shasta Dam to turning the cranks up to Shingletown, every circle of the pedals inched me closer to my goal.

1 Butterfly Kiss

On the first of May, I found myself riding out in Whitmore, enjoying the cattle ranches and volcanic rock fields that pepper the landscape.  I was riding along, pondering important things like world peace and ice cream, when a butterfly twittered on the breeze in front of me.  You may recall the Kamikaze butterfly that hurled itself into my helmet last month.  This time I was prepared.  I kept a careful eye on this beautiful creature, being careful to give it plenty of space to my right.  Just as I was coming up next to it, this butterfly launched a surprise attack and flew right up between my eye and the lens of my glasses.  Being trapped in between my eyeball and my glasses made this butterfly a bit hostile.  It was flapping and flitting and causing a big commotion.  Meanwhile I was flapping and flitting and causing a big commotion as I tried to rip my glasses off and stay upright at the same time.  As soon as I tore my glasses off, the butterfly winged away, leaving me shaking my head at this aggressive interpretation of a butterfly kiss.

1 Rescue

When my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer my little brother, Pete, felt called to join Team Fat Cyclist and raise money for LiveStrong by riding a century.  His generous friends and family emptied their pockets and Pete started joining me on rides.  His century ride was at the beginning of the month and I simply couldn't let him have all the fun, so I rode with him.

Well, I rode with him until we were climbing up to Shasta Dam he said "Something's wrong with your back tire."  Those are not my favorite words to hear.  Our step-dad, Chris, a remarkable photographer and graphic designer, snapped pictures of us up to the Dam.  Yes, I travel with my own paparazzi because I am a Very Important Cyclist.  Okay, maybe just an Important Cyclist.  Uh, maybe just a Cyclist.  Anyway, back to the story.  It turns out that what Pete meant by "something's wrong" was that my rear tire was so worn it split wide open, making it quite unsafe to ride on.

Enter Chris, my awesome paparazzi.  He popped my bike in the car and hustled me down to my favorite bike shop while Pete continued on.  We got there just before the bike shop opened and Chris plunked down the cash for new tires and then shuttled me out to where Peter was riding.  Chris gets the hero of the day award because Pete and I had a fantastic time together and seeing my brother cross the finish line of his first century made me so very proud.

100 Miles of Nowhere

It's no secret that I feel passionately about raising money for cancer research and so a week after I rode with Pete, I rode  The 100 Miles of Nowhere.  100% of the entry fee went to LiveStrong for Team Fat Cyclist.  All sorts of companies donated cool swag like t-shirts and seat packs and books and water bottles and lions and tigers and bears, oh my.  On a Saturday afternoon, 3 of us gathered in my living room, mounted our bikes on trainers, popped in a movie and went nowhere fast.

Conditions were excellent in my living room.  It turns out my living room is all downhill and the only wind came from the ceiling fan above us.  My mom came and cheered us on and fixed us snacks.  I'm proud to say that my time (3 hours and 6 minutes) made me the clear first place winner of the "32 Year Old Teacher/Writer Cycling In My Living Room In Redding" category.  It matters little to me that I was the only racer in that particular category.

1 Big Climb


I love riding around Redding because there are roads I know like the back of my hand, roads that are filled with history, and the Anderson metric century is a ride filled with these kinds of places.  It has the stretch of road where I tried a new sports drink and had a reversal of fortune in front of hordes of itty bitty soccer players.  It has the road wherein I discovered Creamsicle scented sunscreen attracts scads of flies.  It also has an incredibly steep climb.  I have faced this climb before.  And lost.  The last time I attempted this climb, I had pneumonia and a broken toe and I alternated between walking and riding, depending on which hurt my toe less at that particular moment.  This year I was determined to beat that climb, to take down Goliath.  Everything was working in my favor that day.  I'd applied regular smelling sunscreen, filled my bottles with water, and I wasn't fighting any illnesses.  Even the weather was a surprisingly cool 80 degrees.  I was having the ride of my life when I turned the corner, dropped into my lowest gear and started to climb.  I pedaled and breathed regularly all the way to the top of the hill.  I grinned as I rode through the pine trees and into the rest area to wait for a friend.  Several minutes passed and she did not show up.  Many more minutes passed and she did not arrive.  She was out of water and in need of a little help.  I filled my bottles with cold water and turned around, riding back down the hill until I found her.  After a lot of water and a banana, she was good to go.  We saddled up and then I faced the steep hill for the second time, a little unsure if I could do it twice in a row.  I tucked my head down and my strong legs and steady heart carried me to the crest again, and let me tell you, my teeth hurt from smiling so much.  Twice!  I'd ridden the hill twice!  As I coasted through the pine trees I thought about how blessed I am to be healthy, to have a heart that keeps time as I pedal through the beauty that rises up to meet me on each every ride.  Some days are perfect and I will always remember this as one of those days.

$828 donated so far

Thank you Amy H., Andrea H., Anita J., Betty C., Chris F., Christine W., Dale M., Diana P., Hayley L., Heather F., Jill S., John, P., Katie G., Katie L., MaryKay S., Patti L., Sallie C., Sara S., Stacey R., and Tracy H.  I appreciate your support and generosity.

$1,172 until I reach my goal

If you'd like to make a donation to the Lance Armstrong Foundation on my behalf, please go to: http://sanjose2010.livestrong.org/aliciamccauley.  You can donate in memory of a loved one's life cut short by cancer or in support of a loved one who is battling cancer now.  I look forward to sharing my June cycling adventures with you soon!



May 5, 2010

Letter #3: Happy Birthday, Gramma!

Dear Gramma,

Tomorrow would have been your birthday.  I had a dream of your birthday or maybe it was a memory of your last birthday.  I saw you blowing out the candles and laughing.  If only it were that easy to wish you back.  I'm afraid I'm going to forget your laugh, your scent, the particular bend of your fingers.

In the hospital, you were so sure you'd be home for your birthday.  I remember my eyes welling, threatening to spill over onto your bed.  I didn't know how to tell you I didn't think you'd be going home again.  Instead I swallowed the lump in my throat and kissed your hand, telling you I hoped you'd be home for your birthday, too.

And you are home.  Home among hosts of angels and saints.  Home with Grandpa.  Home with your mother who gets to be with you on your birthday for the first time in stacks of decades.

Yesterday I was deleting numbers from my phone.  Numbers no longer in service.  Numbers of friends who have faded into people I once knew.  I came to your number, my finger hovering above the red delete button.  I couldn't press the button.  Silly, I know, but I couldn't.

I'd like to call and wish you happy birthday tomorrow.  I'd tell you about riding my bike with Pete and how proud I was when he crossed the finish line.  I'd tell you how well Terry is doing.  You'd no doubt tell me that he just gets better and better looking.  I'd agree, smiling at your love for him.  I'd tell you crazy stories from this wild year of teaching and we'd laugh.

But tomorrow my finger will just hover over your phone number.  Tomorrow I will cry and plumb my memories for happy times, like when I sat on your lap on our trip together, my arms and legs sticking out all over.  You said I was never too big to sit on your lap.  Not to point out the obvious, Gramma, but I was too big, way too big for your small lap.  But I didn't care.  And neither did you.  You always had room for me and for that I'm grateful.

Happy birthday, Gramma.  I wish we were celebrating together.  I miss you terribly and I love you.  I love you so much.