Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pink Rocks @ Hy-Vee!

I loved the experience of training and competing...beat my goal on time for cycling so I was thrilled. And talk about FUN with a capital F. Loved the pink, it was sure easy to spot teammates! - Beth S.

Friday, July 3, 2009

All9Yards Women's Cycling Flys To England!!!

Two years ago when I met the Mable's and decided to try out this new "women's cycling thing", I never thought it would also give me the courage to someday rent a bike while traveling abroad and tour the countryside. Well, I had the opportunity to put my skills and courage to work this past June, when my husband and I decided to take two weeks off and travel to England to watch him play in the British Amateur Golf Tournament.

For the first three days we were there, he was going to be busy practicing, so I decided to do some exploring of my own...on the bike! I did a little research about hiring a bike (that's what they call it over there) and thought I had found a place to get a bike and all the fixins. When I arrived to pick up my bike, I realized that it only had three gears and looked like something to tool around the beach on. This was not good and I didn't bring any equipment, except for my awesome All9Yards kit to ride in, so I could travel light. I ended up taking Gene to the golf club for his first practice round and asked the club pro where he might suggest I go to rent a bike for the week. They were not very optimistic that I would find a place, but the stars were in alignment for me that day and I was in luck and someone suggested this little bike shop just ahead in the next town, Birkdale. So I kissed my hubby good day and set out on my adventure.I didn't realize how difficult driving on the opposite side of the road AND car could be, but I finally made it to Birkdale Cycles. Dave White, owner and bike maker, said he didn't typically hire out bikes, but said he would be happy to help me out and grab a brand new bike off the showroom floor, put on a water bottle cage, paddle lock, tire repair kit and I was set! It wasn't the new Trek Project One machine i have back home, but was perfect for the different terrains I would be traveling on. He also printed off a cool map of a few trails to try and said it would be ten pounds or about $20 us dollars per day to rent. I was so excited to start my journey. I was only able to fit in two long rides and see about 80 miles of beautiful and very old England Country side. I also got to experience an interesting cemetery and before leaving had to use their very old toilet! It actually flushed and yes I had had to hover! EEK!

I met a few people along the way and was even invited by one lady to come over to her home for dinner one night if we had time. She is the one who directed me to the old toilet at the cemetery. She was visiting her husband for his birthday. It was like going back in time and everybody was so friendly and the trails were amazing. It makes me want to explore our own beautiful countryside here in the USA!

There were all makes and models of bikes and cyclists. Many of them didn't have fancy kits or helmets, but just out enjoying the beautiful outdoors. There were also many groups of walkers out exploring the trails with a guide. I did make sure to wear my helmet, because the bike shop owner said you don't get paid as much for insurance, if you get hit and wasn't wearing one. He also said that it is almost like murder if a motorist hits a cyclist. I never heard one honk of a horn or any obscenities while riding either. They have bike lanes and motorist seem to actually respect bikers. I understand why so many enjoy taking bike tours over a vacation, in a bike friendly world. I saw more on my bike, then I ever would in my car and the interaction and friendliness of the people of England was amazing. There are a few things I would do differently the next time I travel abroad and looking to do some cycling, but wouldn't change anything about my first experience, expect for not being so close to an upcoming triathlon like Hy-Vee...smile.