The Triumphant Return to VNMP

Date: December 22, 2016

Distance: 27 miles

Total 2016 mileage: 2033

Finally I returned to ride VNMP, and it was glorious!

The day was overcast, but not too cold and not too hot.  Alice and I drove together to the park and met up with Marsha for the ride.

It’s hard to explain the loveliness of riding at Vicksburg.  Traffic is restricted to mostly one way streets, and to a very low speed limit, so cars are not too large of a concern.  I think that mostly it’s just so beautiful.  There are lots of steep climbs and descents, but you are also riding through so many majestic old trees and historical monuments that its easy to feel that you are in a different time.  When you get tired, you can rest by historical houses, read explanations of the battles, or see a gunboat!

And you do get tired.  The climb to the Cairo exhibit is very steep, as is Fort Hill.  Fort Hill is deceptive – there’s a hairpin turn in the climb and you think that you are about to get some flat breathing space, but alas – it is a most disappointing false flat, and the steep climb continues.  But I made it up twice!  The most humorous moment of the day: Alice asked me at the top how I liked climbing Fort Hill.  I gasped out, “Is that what I just climbed?”

forthill
I conquered Fort Hill!

After the ride, we went to the Tomato Place to eat.  It’s a combination farmers market and diner, with fantastic fried green tomatoes.  I had to have coffee too, and that was also fantastic!  Off season coffeeneuring!

fattomato
The Tomato Place loves bikes!

This turned out to be my last outdoor ride of 2016, and it was awesome.

Hey! Where did you go?

Oh yes, I have a blog.  I forget about that sometimes.

Remember in an earlier post when I said I was having trouble riding because I felt sick?  Well, it didn’t really get better, so I went back to the doctor where they discovered that I had walking pneumonia(!)

That explains why I had so much trouble breathing while I rode.

So, there was much rest and recovery.  After that, it was time for my last two races of the year – one very hilly half marathon, and one 15k.

The word undertrained would be an understatement here.

But, I managed to finish the half marathon, then after a little more rest, I did quite well at the 15k.

The half marathon was the inaugural year for the Natchez Half.  I love Natchez, and ride there quite frequently.  This would be the first time I ran there, but I pretty much knew what to expect: hills, and more hills.  I was not diasppointed.  I met a lovely lady who ran my pace, and we talked and ran throughout the half.  The conversation helped me keep my mind off of the run, and we hit 10 miles before I realized it.  We had a blast, and ran through some beautiful areas.

The day before, I had gone to the Natchez Brewery, and visited with the owners/brewers there.  They also ran the half, so it was fun to see them race morning.  I sampled some of their beers and was very impressed, so I picked up a few to take home.

natchezhalf
Running and beer is almost as good as cycling and beer

Next up was the St. Louis Hot Chocolate 15k.  This was my first 15k, and I found out that love the distance.  I enjoy half marathons, but around mile 9 I’m really ready to be done.  With a 15k, at the 9 mile point, you ARE done!  Perfect!

I have many coworkers in St. Louis, so we had a lunch gathering, and it was much fun!  St. Louis has really good food and beer, and I ate (and drank) well!

stlarch
The Arch is awesome

Race day dawned cold and windy.  Being from Louisiana, I’m not exactly used to sub-freezing temps, so I brought ALL the layers and used every single one.  Also, I had some daydream that STL was flat.  Man, I was really disappointed to find out that wasn’t the case.  Thankfully I ran Natchez first.  Nothing is as hilly as Natchez.

Cold weather for me = good running times.  I finished the race much faster than I had at the Natchez race two weeks before.  Also, the Hot Chocolate races are FUN.  They served candy at all the aid stations (I didn’t partake, but it was a fun idea).  Also at the end, they give you a neat selection of treats, as well as a cup of hot chocolate.  I was so cold at the race finish that the hot chocolate tasted amazing.  Unfortunately, by the time I found a place to sit, my dipping chocolate was frozen hard.

hot15k
Best medal ever.

And now that I am all healthy again and have finished my yearly race calendar, it’s back to the bike!

Coffeeneuring #7

Date: November 19, 2016

Distance: 3 miles

Drink Description: Drip coffee

Bike Friendly: Yes!

This is it – the final coffeeneuring jaunt of 2016.  Today was easy puttering miles and then a stop at Daily Harvest Bakery in Monroe, LA.  Standard drip coffee, but a delicious egg scramble and cheese danish.

dailyharvest

Coffeeneuring this year was fun!  I rode to a few places I wouldn’t have considered riding to otherwise.  I also roped a few friends into riding with me, which is always a blast.  So, I bid farewell to the challenge, but I suspect that I will continue coffeeneuring.

Coffeeneuring #5

Date: November 6, 2016

Distance: 6.5 miles

Drink Description: Drip coffee

Bike Friendly: Yes!  Finally!

No riding for me over the past week because I have been really sick.  I’ve been wanting to ride the Vicksburg National Military Park though, so Alice and I headed out there on Sunday.

vnmp2

We started riding, and it didn’t take long for me to realize I was too sick to keep going.  I threw in the towel and sipped drip coffee while Alice finished her ride.  An unintentional coffeeneuring without walls.

vnmp1

I will be back VNMP!

cleanbike
I currently have the cleanest bike in town.

October 29 Long Ride

I already hit my coffeeneuring limit for the week, so no coffee today, just riding!  Alice and I hatched a plan to get up early and ride to our favorite group ride, then ride back.  Nothing goes better with riding than more riding!

We left at 7 and planned to complete the 22 mile trek by 8:30, which is when the group ride would depart.  It was an excellent plan, but just a touch too ambitious for us – we didn’t account for the elevation between us and our destination.  Unfortunately also, the group was headed away from us rather than towards us, so we didn’t have an opportunity to catch them after they left.  We texted a bike selfie with our regrets.

cogridecatching
Wish you were here!

We weren’t too sad though.  No day on a bike is a loss!  The weather was great and the ride was entertainingly challenging.

10-29

 

Coffeeneuring trip #4

Date: October 28, 2016

Distance: 2 miles

Drink Description: Cafe au Lait with a side of beignets – a Louisiana tradition!

Bike Friendly: Nope

I took this particular morning to engage in coffeeneuring with a side of early voting.  Nothing like fulfilling your civic duties to work up a coffee thirst!

votebike
Best sticker!

Originally I had planned to make this trip from my house, but I had an unexpected delay, so I opted to ride from the gym, since I needed to swim afterwards anyway.  I rode to the West Monroe Farmer’s Market and prepared to vote, then caffienate.

The early voting line was suprisingly long.  I waited approximately 45 minutes before I could get coffee.  But the coffee was worth the wait!  Caster and Chicory is one of our local food trucks, and they specialize in beignets and Cafe au Lait.  Voting is strenuous and I had worked up an appetite, so this was all quite good.

beignets
I’m about to get fat from riding my bike…

The downside of the two delays came when I tried to ride back to the gym – traffic was thick, and sadly people are not used to seeing bikes in the area around the Farmer’s Market (which makes no sense to me), so it was a nail biter getting back.  The second downside of the delays came when I saw that I was out of time to swim before I had to get to work.  At least there was a bike ride and coffee!