Rainy weekends makes it hard to get out and train. For one thing, I’m a bit of a baby and I don’t want to ride in the rain if I don’t have to. I’m sure the time will come, probably in the nearer future that I will have to suck it up, but until that time...
So as to not lose a training day, we decided to check out Jalepeño Cycling in Bloomfield. I’ve never taken an indoor cycling class so I didn’t know what to expect. Kate and Andrew the joint owners and a dynamic couple welcomed us enthusiastically at 945 am. Kate and Andrew fitted our bikes on their fancy trainers.
Kate had already created and loaded a course into her system, and into a giant TV which was in front of the bikes. Six of us climbed onto our bikes and began warming up. Kate designed a course based on real life local streets and terrain and it was a doozy. A grueling hour and a half later, I had climbed several steep and low grade hills, practiced sprinting and learned some techniques to help from getting fatigued on longer rides. I’ll admit, before class I worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish the hour and a half without a break. But I succeeded! I made it through the whole time, not the whole course. And then I carb-loaded a delicious careibean french toast and chicken apple sausage brunch.
May 9th is my sober anniversary, this year I am celebrating 14 years. This also happens to be my partner's born day. She asked me to take the day off with her, and being I still have "personal" days left at work, I obliged. (Personal days cannot roll over to the following year and can be used for anything).
At first we planned to head to the Jersey Shore for the day with the puppy. However, as time is running out for us to train for our Cali trip, we decided that a training day would be good for us. I let C do the planning, because she loves doing that sort of stuff. I knew she wanted to go to Harriman State Park. I have not been there in some time, and when I visited, it was only for hiking, never biking. We knew we were ready to bump up our milage, to the 30ish mile mark. C planned a route for us.
Wednesday morning, after coffee, we got ourselves out the door and arrived at Harriman ready to ride by 11 am (a little later than we wanted). With the sun shining bright and beating down on us, we began our ride. Not even half a mile into the ride and we approached our first hill. From there, we faced hill after goddamn grueling hill. On one hill, the climb lasted one bloody mile: my legs burned, my mind burned and I barely kept plugging along to the top.
We picnicked around the lake for lunch and a bit of respite. C hung her hammock and we chilled in it for too short a time. Back on the bikes for a little downhill action, only to head back uphill for some grueling climbs. This is seriously good training for Cali, but I am woefully unprepared for that right now. We will defiantly have to visit this trail again- but dear lawd, not for a few weeks, please!
Well, thank tha goddesses for progress not perfection. I am slow af on the bike right now. We've been out on our new bikes, and I am loving the feel of my Surly Disc Trucker. Did I mention that I named her Florence? She's named after my late great mama, because she is one mother trucker.
I ventured out on my own, two days in a row. On my second day, I decided to practice loading up my panniers... and I experienced a little dismounting mishap. As I slowed down and unclipped my right foot from my pedal, I pulled up next to the curb on my right side and leaned my right foot out. I started to reach the curb- then BLAM. All of a sudden, my bike lay on top of me, my left foot still clipped in. That really sucked, and dang, I felt like a loser. The handlebar really whacked my left boob and ribcage. Plus, my bruised ego something fierce.
I did manage to ride around 10 miles each day, so I thought that was better than nothing.
Miami is huge and spread out... I had no clue just how big. Thankfully, we rented a car during our stay or we would have spend a million on Uber or Lyft. We stayed in an area, or village called El Portal which is located in North Miami. The whole village is a bird sanctuary, primarily for peacocks. Those birds have the right of way- to wander and strut and holler from the rooftops of residential homes.
I decided I was going to try out fasted cardio this week, by going for a morning 20 minute jog. First thing is, I hate jogging and most forms of what we call cardio. Unless I am running from a burning building, I don't particulary want to run anywhere, for any reason. However, this winter is dragging on and I seemed to have developed a sugar addiction over the last six weeks, so I thought maybe a morning jog first thing would kick start my body... So, C and I got our arses out of bed whilst on holiday, and I did my best at dragging my body around for 20 minutes. During the morning torture, the peacocks made their presence known. We crossed paths with several different males, bright gorgeous tail feathers fanned out in all their splendor, shouting to attract a mate. Female peacocks wandered more quietly in groups of three or four. In the evening, as I wandered ready to snap photos, I spotted more than one male peacock on a rooftop, shouting and making noise. The palm trees, humidity and sunshine added to the romance and I felt as if I could have been on a tropical island. (Side note: I have not jogged since my return.)
The food scene has blown up in Miami, there are so many restaurants to choose from I am not sure how they all stay in business. There are super fancy restaurants and small cafes as well as tiny mom and pop places and no shortage of desserts either. We ate well during our stay and one of my favorites was the Pinch Kitchen in El Portal where they know how to make a damned good beet salad and delish salmon. While sitting at a tiny place in South Beach and savouring the best pistachio gelato I have ever eaten, we watched somebody's car get towed. Parking is more expensive in Miami than it is in NYC, we were constantly feeding the meters, thankfully from an app on our phones. Also, a fun gourmet grilled cheese joint called Ms Cheesious is worth a stop if you are in El Portal.
The summed up version of Miami: We hit the beautiful beaches on Key Biscayne which had plenty of trees and thus much shade to offer. Another day, we drove down to the Everglades so C could experience an airboat and alligators. We wandered up and down South Beach, which is just as cheesy as the Jersey Shore, but throw a lot more money into the mix. I met up with a former Jersey AA pal and we hit a fantastic women's meeting in Brickel. Since I am the queen of meeting up with old friends on vacay, on our last night, we enjoyed our second dessert with an old NYC friend, Andrea. Sunshine and 80 degree weather warmed my heart just enough to send me back North. Today I heard rumors of snow, again. Say it ain't so.
Another amazing zinefest in the books. I look forward to this festival of zines each year. It is the only fest I actually go to each year. Although later this year I am breaking out and heading down to Asheville to check out the scene. The NYC FzF is filled with amazing humans who all create zines. I want to trade zines with every single person there. This year I sat next Pirate Sarah and her pals and got to know them a bit. The energy at the fest is always incredible and I love meeting new peeps. Check out pix below from my zine haul this year! I was also excited to spread the word about the new zine venture I am putting together: stories of recovery and sobriety. (Below: Billie Holiday sniffed the zines and wondered why her couch was covered in paper.)
My first ever zine reading happened. Finally! I may not come off this way, but I am a ball of nerves when it comes to performing. I also have terrific amounts of social anxiety, and I constantly worry that I sound like a boob, and not a funny one. You can ask the glitterati, my performing pals, because they have witnesses my pre-stage antics, self-doubt and bathroom issues. Thankfully, my girls Tess and Audrey were always there to help my in or out of a costume and talk me off a ledge. Despite my stomach problems, I really do love connecting with an audience.
Saturday evening, I joined six others at a zine reading for the Feminist Zinefest at Bluestockings Bookstore on the Lower East Side of NYC. My lovely friend Sarah and her babe surprised me and showed for support. Even though my nerves had me slightly tongue-tied, once I heard llittle Mauve making fart sounds, I looked up and chuckled, and eased into reading my essay, "On Traveling Sober."
Here is our first reference, starting our cycling adventures in San Francisco and ending in San Diego.
Two Saturdays in a row, we drove the 1.5 hours down to Trophy Bikes in Philadelphia. Why would we do such a thing? Basically, Trophy was the closet place that had a 42cm frame built, which meant that Cristina could take a bike for a spin. One ride on a 46cm framed Surly Disc Trucker hooked me. I put my down payment on the bike and C ordered a different colored frame than mine, so we wouldn't be *extra* gay. However, this meant we would have to return the following week, when C's bike was built and both of our bikes would be ready for the road.
I woke up Saturday with my crabby pants on, for no discernible reason. I hate it when that happens. On Saturdays, I have a standing commitment, my AA meeting Homegroup at high noon. I left my meeting 20 minutes early so that we could get on the road to Philly. Still in a grumpy mood, I wasn't the best co-passenger. Everything changed after walking into Trophy. My sexy new bike was waiting for me. I started riding her around the store and then around the block. Hip hip hooray for bike day.
My current bicycle is a cheap road hybrid, called a GT Vantera that I bought at Dick's. For bicycle touring trips, many folx opt for legit touring bicycles for loads of reasons. One main reason is that you want to be comfortable sitting on said bike for eight hours. Another reason is low gears- you want a bike that can haul ass and haul a load uphill. The bike should be sturdy and able to carry packs and move well with weight. That said, there are TONS of options out in the world.
C and I visited three bike shops to check out and size out touring bikes that would fit us. We are both petite people so it was super important for us to be able to test ride. I rode a Kona Sutra that was perhaps a size too big for me, and it did not make for a fun ride. I rode a Surly Disc Trucker, 46 cm frame, that felt like it was made for me. And just like that... I put half down on a touring bike last weekend. Holy crapola! Since C had to order her bike and we added bits and bobs, we will pick up our bikes this weekend. Pictures to come soon.
Decisions, decisions. I live a humble life so that I might spend a few weeks traveling during the summer. The best perk of being a public school teacher is my summer vacation! The problem is, that I am not paid during the summer months. However, I live in a modest apartment, drive a ten year old car and and make many environmental as well economic choices to ensure I will be able to travel during the summertime.
I have traveled through Central America, making my way country by country each consecutive summer. One of the reasons I chose to travel abroad is because it is cheaper than traversing the wide U S of A. This year, I decided to tour California. About 20 years ago, I drove up the coast of California. This was in my "gigging it" up days, when I partied like a rockstar without the band. I recall parts of the trip but I am ready for an experience I will surely remember.
To make things even more interesting, I suggested the idea of cycling the coast to my partner, Cristina. Lucky for me, she is game. So, now we are in the planning process. If you read my last blog post toying with the 'how much planning should I do?' question, then you will see this goes against my main principles. This trip requires some major planning. I hope you will follow along as we prepare for this exciting journey.
Hi, I'm Reverend J, a queer+ sober wanderer, activist, writer and ordained minister.