Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hey, everybody. Mud and Manolos is back, but in a new space! Head over to

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Living Strong

It's strange how we prepare for months just to make one day absolutely perfect. To anyone else, it's just an ordinary day. But for me, this Sunday, Aug. 23 is the date of my first century— the culmination of months of training, fundraising, and wishing my toptube was just a few centimeters shorter so my freakin' knee didn't feel like it was being mauled by a rabid bear by mile 30!


Had my luck turned so sour with anything else, I probably would have thrown up my hands and found something else to occupy my time. But cycling is different. I'm like a mouse knowing that once I swipe the cheese, it's lights out, but I do it anyway. All summer I hung on for 60 or 70 mile training rides with a stabbing, Samurai sword-like pain in my leg. It hurt so good, I suppose, as I keep dragging myself back for more.

No one seems to know what's going on with my leg. After describing my pain and enduring a few pokes and prods, I'm always left with a bunch of puzzled looks. "It's probably a poor bike fit," they conclude. This makes sense. A year ago I walked into a bike shop with my bright green cyclocross bike for a proper fitting. Not three pedal strokes in, the bike shop dude declared that "there's all kinds of wrong going on here." I wasn't exactly in the position to drop three grand on a bike, so instead, I moved my saddle forward and bought ibuprofen by the barrel.

I was becoming grumpy-- not quite Cadel Evans grumpy-- but bitter nonetheless. I secretly wished someone would steal my bike or accidentally cause its demise (without me attached of course) so I could collect a nice check. But the fates never smiled down on me... despite leaving the garage door unlocked at night.

Finally, in the process of test riding bikes, the perfect offer came along--a full carbon Cannondale, women specific, that fit perfectly, making me grin from ear to ear just looking at it. That same week, I was miraculously referred to a physical therapist who specializes in cycling.

Sunday may be just another day, but, with taped knee, I'm ready to hop on my new ride and pedal away. Its been a long time coming.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spinning my tires

I have officially thawed out, hidden the trainer, pumped up the road tires, and signed on to something completely and utterly terrifying. If you'd asked me last year about any future goals and plans for my biking life, I would have said, "racing mountain bikes." Suddenly I'm tooling around on skinny tires, counting grams, and following Lance Armstrong on Twitter. But before my knobby tired friends stage an intervention, I promise I haven't hung up the full suspension for good.

And this leads me to the scary part.

I just signed up for the 100 mile, 8,000 feet of climbing, Livestrong ride in August. Perhaps it was the fact that a few spring rides on new roads tempted me with some sweet climbing and screaming fast descents, or that since I started riding seriously, I knew when the time was right, I wanted to honor my father (who died of cancer) by doing a cancer charity ride. No the time is right.

The outside world may be filled with doom and gloom, but that gives me more reason to pedal in a new direction and have an amazing goal to slowly work toward. Over the winter, I nabbed a few "recession specials" on eBay, outfitted my bike with the proper gearing, and found a nice new carbon fork.

Before I start putting in hours of road miles, I think it's time to take the mountain bike out for a spin. It's hard to take life too seriously when you're barreling down a hill, stomach aflutter, grinning like an idiot.

That sounds like a good place to start.

^ shameless plug.....

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jersey girl

I'm running out of closet space. When I finally did a massive overhaul of the contents of my walk-in closet, I discovered that for the dozen or so skirts and dresses, there are nearly 40 bike jerseys, pairs of spandex shorts, and mountain bike baggies. Starting at 60 bucks a pop, it's hard not to imagine the sandy beach my hibernating body could be defrosting on right now or the month closer to my retirement party I could be.

But looking at the looming stacks of spandex and zippers is like enjoying a photo album. Each jersey tells a story. My first jersey, emblazoned with the green Brooklyn Brewery label, came from my first bike show in NYC ("70 bucks for a jersey. That's crazy!"). At the show, I mingled with shop owners and company reps, slid my fingers over all-carbon components, and talked to fellow riders as I was suddenly hooked on bike culture.

Jerseys tell everyone on the road or the trail of our loyalties. My jerseys have two distinct themes: Kona bikes and microbreweries. The Kona world champion cyclocross jersey is a brilliant splash of red, white, and blue. I've come to collect three Magic Hat Brewery jerseys, all bearing their odd pastel designs, and causing whoever's drafting me to crave their frosty brews. The few jerseys that are solid colors look so plain next to ones that announce an allegiance to a bike club, races, and coffee companies. Then there are jerseys, like one from a bike shop in Florence, that still bear the original tags. It was a unique find (and the dollar was extremely weak!), and no sweat or mud will ever touch it.

But do I really need a jersey for every day of the month? Hell yes! Every ride commands a unique wear. Dark colors are necessary for rainy, muddy days. Road rides demand tight jerseys, and then there's sleeveless for the blood boiling summer days. The jersey is so simple, yet the perfect riding companion, complete with a zipper for the right amount of ventilation, and back pockets to hide quick snacks and a cell phone. To this rider, they are worth every penny.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A fork in the road

I love puns, and will go out of my way to slip the most groan-inducing ones into everyday conversation. So when our realtor instructed us to turn at the fork in the road, I realized my life was about to become a whole lot punnier.

There it was, a giant piece of silver flatware towering over the intersection. I should have been looking at the house, examining it for flaws and mentally placing furniture, but instead I was conjuring up scenes of a swimming pool-sized bowl of pasta with an accompanying hay bale meatball, speared by four rigid prongs. Of all the things I had feared putting up with as neighbors-- garbage dumps, cemeteries, republicans -- I had never once considered the possibility of soaring silverware. As I examined each lengthy spike, I suddenly understood how ants must feel at a picnic. I imagined peering out at it from our bedroom window late at night, its long handle glowing in the moonlight as the Frankenfork emerged from the dark dungeon of the dishwasher to take over the town.

Luckily the house didn't mirror its neighbor's flare for the offbeat. It was literally everything we'd been searching so long and hard for. For the past month, we had driven on what seemed like every road in the county, our eyes glazing over until we spotted a red and white "for rent" sign. We had seen it all. Stinky Steve's overpriced house of mold was complete with a downed electrical wire and rusted out gas grill in the driveway. A dilapidated duplex bore cigarette stains on the carpet as a gun-toting redneck patrolled the shared driveway. We couldn't run from these places fast enough, and my fiance and I had nearly given up on the hope of ever moving past a long distance relationship and moving in together.

Nearly a month later, we were at our own fork in the road. Prospects of marriage and mortgages tugged at one side of the stale red stoplight. The lost days of college and fleeting commitments stood on the other. The house rested in between.

We eagerly took the house and ironically received flatware as a housewarming present. Now we're free to dream of the future under the glow of tourists' brake lights and camera flashes. We took the fork in the road, and that has made all the difference.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Without further ado...

Time to flip the switch and make this venture go live. What do you think of this work in progress? Leave some feedback and keep riding, or reading, whatever your preference.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Oh the places you'll go....

Looking back, I've put a lot of miles in my legs this year. They pedaled over a thousand miles this summer, trained for a grueling metric century, explored the California coast, and carried me through Italy for two weeks.

This was the year I discovered road biking and all the quirks that go along with donning spandex in public places while battling for a few inches of pavement. I learned the etiquette of riding with a group (and that some people have an extreme lack thereof). I also learned that sometimes you have to dodge objects thrown at you from car windows (a beer bottle chucked from a Central Hudson utility truck to be exact), and to always be on the lookout for ill-placed roadkill, curbs, and faux bike lanes that suddenly turn into a curb.

This year my passion for mountain biking led me back to Vermont for a week of exploring and relaxing in one of my favorite places. This is also where I got engaged (out of the blue!) to my best friend and biking partner, who I love more than anything. Now we're in the process of moving in together and found a house to rent. And yes, I've already checked bikeroutetoaster for nearby riding routes and hills to conquer. Once the snow melts we have a lot of exploring to do. We'll also hit the road for Vermont to check out wedding venues (time to talk Manolos), but we'll no doubt find some mud, too.

Time to stir up some more adventure in 2009. These legs are ready for anything.