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

June 30, 2010

Cycling In June

Dear friends and family,

June arrived in Redding with showers and then made a scorching retreat with temperatures over 100 degrees.  Summer is here and with it brings the last full month before I ride 204 miles from Seattle to Portland on July 17th-18th.

235 Miles

With travel and other adventures, I didn't get as many miles in this month, but when I did ride, it was beautiful.  Summer has distinct scents and one of the pleasures of cycling is smelling the world around me as I pedal through it.  One particular day I rode just after a summer storm.  The sun eased from behind the clouds causing the rainfall to steam on the asphalt and billow up underneath my tires.  That smell is heavenly.  Another favorite summer scent are the blackberry bushes that tangle along the river trail.  The berries are still hard, green jewels not ready for picking, but in the heat of summer the scent of the bushes is intoxicating.  I ride by them with my mouth open because the air tastes like blackberry jam.

0 Crashes

I haven't crashed at all this season.  Not even once.  Shh, don't tell the crash gods.  You scoff,  You have never been blissfully riding along and then snacking on pavement two seconds later.  I'm telling you, they're real and full of vengeance.  I'm knocking on everything wooden within reach as I type this, which is actually mildly embarrassing because I'm writing this in a cafe.  The waitresses are giving me strange looks.  Anyway, I haven't crashed once this season, but just the other day a friend and I were blissfully riding along (you see where this is going, don't you?) when suddenly she was crashing into me and skidding on the asphalt and tearing holes in her shorts and scraping her forearms and getting a fresh coat of roadrash.  She was pretty banged up and she didn't even cry a single tear.  I wanted to cry looking at her.  I kinda want to cry just thinking about it.  Gimme a moment.  Sniffle, sniffle, ahem.  Anyway, she was super tough and walked away without any stitches or broken bones.  So this is what I'm thinking, my friend's spectacular crash should appease the crash gods, right?  Again I'm knocking on wood.  And again I'm getting strange looks from the waitresses.

1 Tractor Mailbox

There are lots of things to love about cycling, namely Spandex and blinding tan lines, but another thing I love about cycling is seeing the ways people express their creativity.  For example this month I rode by Candy Cane Lane, Frisbie Lane, and Easy Street.  Clever street names, no?  Mailboxes are another place people display their creativity and my favorite mailbox is a tractor.  I've seen this mailbox before.

Many times actually and I always chuckle when I pass by.  Especially if I'm still upright.

1 Happy Mountain Bike

You may recall that I actually own two bikes, The Rocket, my super sleek road bike, and Frank the Tank, my beast of a mountain bike.  Since I've taken up road cycling, Frank has spent most of the time sulking in the garage.  On the off chance that I take him out for a ride, he throws me off because he is bitter.  I don't blame him.  Okay, I do blame him, but that's not the point.  The point is this.  I took Frank over to my brother's house for, um, a vacation-yes, let's call it a vacation.  My brother mounted a kid's seat on the back of Frank so he could take my nephew out for rides.  On Father's Day, Terry and I met up with my brother, my nephew, and my step-dad for a ride.  Riding with my favorite boys was so much fun.  It doesn't seem right that I got the best gift on Father's Day, but I'll take it gladly.

1 Big Hill

This month Terry and I traveled with friends to Cayucos, a lovely beach town.  We brought our bikes with us and rode in the salty air.  This particular ride included a huge hill.  It was long, steep, winding and long.  Yes, I know I said long twice.  Believe me, this hill merits both of them.  People often ask me how my heart is doing and most days it keeps time beautifully as I pedal and sends a flush up my cheeks when I'm really grinding it out on hills.  Most days my heart is strong and happy.  So there I was riding up this huge hill and my heart was working so hard it felt like it was going to leap out of my chest.  My heart began to ache and even squeak and I knew I had to get off and walk my bike.  I was crestfallen.  I was embarrassed.  I was ashamed that I wasn't strong enough to zip up the hill behind my friends.  It's hard for me to admit that my heart can't always do all the things I want it to, to admit that I am weak  when I want to be strong.  As I mentioned earlier there are many things I love about cycling, but this season the thing I've loved most is that it has given me an opportunity to acknowledge that I am weak sometimes.  And that's okay.  I'm trying to give myself the same grace in other areas of my life, which is so much easier said than done.  That day my heart calmed down as I walked miles to the crest of the hill, grinding away the cleats on the bottom of my cycling shoes and trying not to cry.  At the pinnacle of the hill, I threw my leg over my bike and began the sweeping descent.  As the wind pushed me home and I watched the ocean waves roll in, my heart was happy.  And so was I.

$908 donated so far

Thank you Adam & Suzy C., Amy H., Andrea H., Anita J., Betty C., Cheryl P., 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.

$1,092 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.  All donations are tax deductible.  All donations must be received by 7am, July 5th.  I look forward to sharing about my big ride next month!



Support the Lance Armstrong Foundation by making a donation here:http://sanjose2010.livestrong.org/aliciamccauley

June 15, 2010

Letter #4: Dreaming of Whales

Dear Gramma,

Last week we visited the beach.  Not our beach, but still the tang of the salt air made me miss you desperately.  I walked the beach in the mornings, forcing myself out of bed to the yawning mouth of the ocean.  I walked alone with my thoughts.  My heart pounded with the surf.

On the third morning, after an hour with the ocean, I returned to the house and peeled off my shoes and socks.  My foot was covered in blood.  My sock was soaked through.  Even my shoe was filled with blood, so filled that blood had seeped out of the top of my shoe.  The sight of all this blood scared and confused me because I wasn't hurt.  Unbeknownst to me, I'd punctured my toe and it leaked and leaked while I left footsteps in the sand.  In the shower I watched the hot water swirl all that blood down the drain.  I sat under the streams of water and cried, but not for my toe.  I cried for all the bags of blood that could not save you.  I cried for all the times I walk the beach without you.

The night after we returned from the beach I had the most beautiful dream.  In my dream I was crossing the Sundial Bridge, but it arched over an ocean inlet, not a river.  As I crossed over, hundreds of whales swam in the water that rose just inches underneath the bridge.  There were too many species of whales for me to count and they ranged from babies I could have held in my arms to long mothers snaking in the water beneath me.  I remember humpbacks arching in the water, revealing their twin blowholes.  They twisted and danced in the water, lobtailing it's surface.  They slapped their flukes up onto the bridge, leaving their foamy fingerprints for me to walk on.  The water shimmered and bubbled in the presence of all those whales and in my dream I was delighted to witness such a gathering.  I hurried to tell my friend, who was not yet to the bridge, but when my foot hit the pavement, I awoke in the cradle of my bed.  I shut my eyes and tried to return to my dream, tried to return to the whales, but only sleep availed itself to me.

The next day, I couldn't stop thinking about the dream and the thing I couldn't let go of was that the only sound in my dream was the water lapping at the bank.  The whales were silent, not making a sound when they fanned their huge tails on the bridge right in from of me, not singing a single note as they frolicked around me. Male humpbacks are the singers of the species and so I choose to think that the whales in my dream were females.  Mothers and daughters, aunts and nieces, grandmothers and granddaughters, happy in the good company of each other.

The average heart of a humpback weighs 430 pounds and has 4 distinct chambers.  I can't imagine a heart that large in size, but what I can tell you is that in my dream, my heart was coursing with blood and when I woke up each chamber of my heart was filled with joy.

I hope I dream of the whales again.  And I hope that when I do, you'll be walking beside me.