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New Bike Day!

New bike day might be even better than Christmas Day.

The shiny beauty of a new bicycle makes it hard to tear my eyes away. Even better, there's the promise of adventures that await.

I haven't owned a lot of bicycles in my life, but I'm making up for lost time now.

I'll never forget my first bike. She was a beauty! I loved cruising around my little hometown.

My first bike was a Schwinn Stingray.

My second bike was a Pepto Bismol-pink ten speed bought secondhand. I delivered newspapers on it for a short time.

I got a bright red Bianchi mountain bike in college, but I didn't ride it much. Those were my seriously lazy years. It got stolen at some point.

My bikes
Dolce Elite and Specialized Hard Rock
When I moved to DC after college, I got a navy blue Specialized Hard Rock. I eventually switched to hybrid tires and rode all over DC, Arlington and the C&O Canal towpath. 

I loved the feel of the heavy steel, though now it seems like a tank at 29.7 pounds! 

On our second real date, Hubz and I went on a bike ride around DC. It was astride my Hard Rock that I realized I was in love with him.

Sadly, in recent years this bike aggravates my bulging disc so I haven't ridden it in awhile.

My most recent ride has been a 2008 Specialized Dolce Elite. She's nimble, and light, being made of aluminum. This was my first bike with clipless pedals. 

I have commuted many miles and rode a half century at The Back Roads on the Dolce Elite. Unfortunately 50 miles is probably my upper limit on her as my back starts to complain after that.

Photo Oct 23, 8 19 01 AM
Specialized Dolce Elite on a Fall morning at the Tidal Basin

I've been stalking the Surly Long Haul Trucker for awhile now. I finally marched into Bicycle Space to see my friend Marko for a test ride.

I was immediately smitten with the comfortable fit and the feel of steel between me and the road. Sometimes you just know.

My Precious
My Precious.
This baby is equipped with everything I need to get me around in style. I finally made the switch from backpack to pannier. I'm getting used to the different gearing. Suddenly no hill seems too steep to climb, and I'm actually enjoying the more leisurely pace of my bike commute.

I'm optimistic that the geometry and fit will keep my back happy on some long rides in the near future. 

And who knows? Maybe one day, I'll use her for her intended purpose: Touring.

Heat, Rocks and Hills

Catherine's Fat Ass 50K is always brutal.

It's in the heat of late July. This year, it hit 93 degrees - with a dew point of 74.

There's lots of climbing.

CatherinesFatAss-2013 elevation
The elevation profile for the 24 miles we did.

Looks like fun bombing those sweet descents, right?

Think again. The rocks demand your full attention.

There are a few rocks
Rocks on the Catherine's course.

stream at Catherine's
On a hot day, there is no better sight on the course! (photo from 2005)

Every year I've run this, I've resisted the temptation to do the entire 50K.

Often it's the prudent choice to cut it short due to the heat, sometimes it's the "I'm not training for anything" caveat.

After all, it's a Fat Ass. In case you don't know, here's why Fat Ass runs are awesome.

2103 Catherine's Start
Some of the gang at the start. Note my pre-run hair. (photo by @iseetrails)

Above all, it's because I don't want to miss a minute of the post-run party.

2103 Catherine's Party
Good friends don't mind crazy post-run hair. (photo by @iseetrails)

Because this run is first and foremost about spending time with friends.

Happy Summer Running!

Vacation, Rejuvenation, Elevation

With rainy, humid DC in my rear view mirror, I headed west to Idaho. 

A week of bliss with my two best friends from college and their families.

The weather couldn't have been better. It was sunny and warm during the day, cool in the evenings, with not even a hint of humidity. Heaven!

The view from our back deck was stunning, and our cabin in the countryside was peaceful and relaxing. When the four children were asleep, that is. I kid, I kid.

McCall, Idaho
View from our back deck

We went whitewater rafting, ate good food, shared too many laughs to count. 

Ice Cream!
At Ice Cream Alley. For maximum fun, just add sugar ...

My girlfriends don't run, but thankfully one of their husbands does, and was willing to let me tag along. Thanks Jeff!

The icing on the cake was a cool morning run on the trails at Ponderosa State Park. And by cool, I mean 47 degrees. What a treat in July!

Lily Marsh Trail, Ponderosa State Park
Lily Marsh Trail

I hadn't thought about elevation. It's a little over 5000 feet there.

My lowlander lungs made even the smallest moehill feel like a mountain. I take some comfort from this Runner's World article which claims "
Anything above 5,000 feet is considered high altitude training by elite athletes' standards." 

Ponderosa State Park trail run elevation
I'm kind of glad I didn't bring my heart rate monitor on this run.

Still, I won't be moving to Colorado anytime soon.

Are you going anywhere interesting for vacation? Have you recently run in a scenic place? Do you do better running in humidity or at altitude?

Happy Summer, wherever you are.