Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ales & Trails @ China Camp State Park

What a day. We attended the International Mountain Bicycling Association's Ales & Trails event yesterday at China Camp State Park. I noticed on the Ales & Trails website that the organized rides were limited to groups of 10, including leaders. I wanted to arrive early so we could be sure to get on one of the rides. We got there at 9am. Look at our bikes parked bright and early in the bike pen, patiently waiting for their fun! It wasn't immediately clear how to sign up for the rides but I soon figured out that the different rides were being done by various vendors and you signed up at their booths. The REI folks were doing a Beginning/Intermediate ride and clinic. That sounds right up my alley so I signed us up.

They were also doing free bike checks at a lot of the booths and we took advantage of that. The guy that worked on my bike said the cranks (those little arms the pedals are attached to) were loose and that I need to keep an eye on that. He tightened things up and oiled the chain and otherwise gave my mountain bike some love and attention. I need to name my mountain bike. I'm pretty sure it's a boy so that needs to be considered. Maybe an androgynous name in case I'm wrong about that. Wouldn't want to hurt his (or her?) feelings. Aaaanyway...

After some wandering around and checking out all the booths, including the bagels and cream cheese booth (I couldn't resist but at least I only ate a 1/2 of one with a light layer of cream cheese) it was time for our clinic and ride. Like I said, this was sponsored by the REI Outdoor School. The clinic portion consisted of some basics about making sure your bike is trail ready, shifting, breaking, weight distribution, etc. Then we rode around in circles practicing turning, keeping our pedals in the right spot, shifting our weight, etc.

After the clinic we got to take off on our ride. We rode the Shoreline Trail, a trail we've been on before. I was a little worried about keeping up because, well, it's what I do, but the pace was fine for me, even a little slow at times. There was a boy scout group hiking the trail and passing them was interesting. So we get to the switchbacks and our leader stops and we learn we're going to be practicing on them. Perfect! The last time I was out there I only made one of the switchbacks without having to put my feet down. We went one at a time with a leader at each switchback. I followed all their tips - take it wide, inside pedal up, brake gently, etc. By far and away the best tip was to look where I wanted to go. They said if we look where we want to go our bodies (and the bikes) will follow. It worked! I made 7 out of 8 attempts. The funny thing is the one I didn't make was while going uphill, which should have been easier than going down. Learning how to deal with switchbacks alone made the whole day worth it! Yay!

We took it a little faster on the way back because we were running late. The ride was supposed to be 45 minutes but we were out there for 1.5 hours. Didn't hear me complaining :) When we got back around 12:30 we learned lunch wouldn't be served until 1pm. We got a swag bag that included free water bottles so we used those to get some beer. Yummmmmmy. I was getting hunnnngry too though. 1pm rolled around and I asked about lunch and was told that it'd be after the kids race. When the kids race was starting I decided I needed to get in line for lunch. There was no line so I started one :) To tell you the truth this would have embarrassed the crap out of me before. "Oh, there's the chubby girl first in line for food." I didn't feel embarrassed at all. I worked hard today and I have a right to be hungry. Amazing all the ways being fat affected me. Funny thing, a line formed behind us almost immediately. I was glad I did this too because the line turned out to be loooooonnnng. Here I am...first in line!

The food was good. Lots of salads, roasted chicken, they roasted a pig!, gumbo (which was not that good so I only ate a little), cookies, biscotti. I think I did okay in my portion sizes. I gave that bread away to the guy sitting next to me. I knew I shouldn't have taken it. Anyone want to take a guess at the number of Points in this meal?

Yeah, me neither. I wore my heart rate monitor on the ride and only burned about 400 calories and I'm sure this meal is more than that. Oh well. After lunch we decided to ride some of the little wood things they had set up. I didn't do too bad. Not too great either though :) Here are some pictures.

Honestly, how cool are those pictures? I actually fell twice! Strange enough, I felt good about falling, like it meant I was pushing myself. Or I drank too much. Nah, I only had one beer so let's go with pushing myself :) I have to post a picture of Miguel too. If we go to Ales & Trails next year I'm going to enter this picture of him in the photo contest. Yep, my photo taking skills are that good :)

So, during lunch I commented to him how our lives have changed so much. He said, "Yeah, before our lives were me going out to play pool and you sitting on the couch." Sad, but true. But not true anymore. We had a great day!

We had to run home and get to a friend's house for dinner. We were pretty tired but hung in like the troopers we've become. I never really got hungry again but that didn't stop me from eating dinner :) I had Maduros (fried, ripe plaintains) for an appetizer and a shrimp salad with lots of spring greens for dinner. I also munched on way too many chips and crackers when we got there. Ah, food. Apparently the great challenge of my life. I feel okay about my evening choices. Not great, but okay. I'm just going to wipe out my daily Points (24) and throw in another 20 WPAs, plus the 4 APs I earned and call it a 48 Point day. I don't know if that's anywhere near accurate but that's usually how I handle these sorts of things. That leaves me with 10 WPAs for the week. I can live with that.

Today I'm going to head to the pool to swim and lounge. I'm thinking about riding my bike there to burn a few extra calories and to try out my Garmin. I hope everyone in the blogosphere is having a great weekend! See you all next week.


  1. It really sounds like you had a great time. Almost makes me want to go dig my bike out of the garage! Haha. My brother works for REI - he's always going on adventures with them, and will soon be leading them (he hopes!)

    Oh, and I loved your last post on "the rules." I never get my oil either.

    Have a great day!

  2. Sounds like a completely Rockin' Day. I don't think I could have stayed upright on those boards, even without the beer!

  3. Michelle: I have been following your blog since you left your message on WW about completing your first triathlon. I have been planning on doing one next summer and your experience was very encouraging. Your life has changed so much in the past year and a half! You are a real inspiration to those of us trying to make a lasting change. You have inspired me to join our local adventure club and get out there.

  4. nice pics! and I loved the rules post too. Regarding Garmin, I personally think new toys keep us motivated. ;-)

  5. Another great day near the bay. Please tell me about it being cold once in a while, though. Just so I don't do anything rash like put my house up for sale, okay? Looks like it was so much fun and educational too. Good to learn something new everyday, yeah? Your new sense of self shines through in every post, Michelle. You rock big time!
    Love you

  6. That sounds like and awesome day...what a fun event to go to!

    Loved your comments about how much life has changed now that you have lost weight. I'm constantly amazed at how differently I react to things (like being the person to form the food line) or just comparing my 'old life' to my new life.

  7. Wow. You do the coolest things! Maybe I do need to move out there!

    Surprisingly - yes, the salad was enough. I find that in the summer I CAN'T eat as much. Although recently I haven't even been hungry - but the last few days I have (a good thing). Thanks for checking up on me. I am going to try to better about writing regularly AND reading other blogs (yours mainly) =)

  8. It looks like a great time was had by all. I LOVE that Miguel helped you to see how much you have changed in the last year or so. You need to bask in that.'re inspiring other people the way others inspire you. :-)

  9. Ok, the photo of hunky bike man next to the van rendered me unable to concentrate.

    Also...LOL, I totally misread your blog title. I'm sitting here thinking, "Hmmm WTH is an asprin gloser?" (see...hunky bike man, I told you).


  10. I don't think you look chubby, I think you look strong! You are a brick house, Woman!!! Glad you had fun and participated in the adventure. I think you are underestimating your AP's.....

  11. this line?
    To tell you the truth this would have embarrassed the crap out of me before. "Oh, there's the chubby girl first in line for food." I didn't feel embarrassed at all. I worked hard today and I have a right to be hungry.
    totally choked me up.

    that's such a powerfully big step.


  12. I loved reading about your journey! Wonderful inpsiration as I pedal along on mine.

  13. Michelle - THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR RUNNING TIPS!!! OMG, Friday's run was SO much better!! I ran 25 mins like a champ, and MIGHT have experienced that running being SLIGHTLY easy feeling. I could have done 30 mins no problem. So THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! I did warm up for 15 mins on the eliptical and I brought it back to 4.0, and those two things together totally made all the difference. I almost wanted to go home and run it again just cause I knew I could! :)

    You should quit your job as a SW'er, and become a personal trainer! :P No, JK, I'm a CD Counselor in a hospital and work very closely with the SW'ers and know how valuable they are! :)

  14. looks like a ton of fun! What is a switchback?

    I have frequently been first in line for food and first back in line for seconds... what can I say?

  15. Sounds like a great experience. I'm not at all very good at technical riding. I should look for an opportunity like that sometime.

  16. Thanks Michelle for the nice comment on my blog!! You have made such a transformation!! Your so lean now and an athlete to boot. Man I look at you and you definately give me a ton of inspiration!!
    Thanks and I hope your week is great!!

  17. I love the picture of you and the beer in the waterbottle! You both look so happy :-) (OK, I'm just imagining how the beer felt...but you look fab).

  18. Hi Michelle,
    thanks so much for your comments on my blog... it gets a little lonely on there sometimes, :-)

    The bike riding sounded awesome, I cannot wait until my fitness is at a level where I could attempt it.

    I will have to go through your archieves... did I see a mention about a triathlon in there? :-)


  19. Wow, what fun! I need to find a triathlon bike course just like that! heh heh heh

    Seriously, though, it looks like a total blast and you are doing great.

    Everyone was just waiting for someone else to take the initiative on the food line. It's funny though how you do feel now even though you're so tiny now.

    My vote for a bike name: Everest!


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