Monthly Archives: September 2012

Crunchy Leaves: A Time To Walk

Truthfully, I haven’t been exercising. My reasons would only make everyone this side of the Mississippi rub their fingers together for a ensemble of the World’s smallest violins to play Cry Me A River.

So, I stepped on the scale…yeah, I’ll just say there is some work to be done. I will resist free cookies as though they were free salad! I know, I’ll go for a walk!

Today was the kind of fall day all outdoor exercisers hope greats them as they crack open the door. I let the bright sunshine squint my eyes. I let the cool breeze dry my armpit sweat. I took advantage of a barely deserved hour long lunch. I’m walking my walk.

I don’t find things much more satisfying than hearing the crunch of dried leaves under my feet. I suppose that is why I choose to walk through the narrow strip of first fallen leaves laying in the gutter even though the level road was clear and open. I have a crunchy walk today.


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No Heat / Less Heat Challenge

While today might not be representative of the challenges one will face in the 2012/2013 No Heat / Less Heat challenge, it is time to start keeping track and talking smack.

I grew up in a comfortable middle class home that sported 72 deg F rooms. If I visited a home that was anything less than 71 degs F, I was solid as iceberg floating toward the Titanic. I never would have allowed my parents to participate in a No Heat challenge much like I never allowed a fake Christmas tree. However, I was shocked last year when I read 64 deg F on my own thermostat because I felt like I was having a hot flash. (Note to self: check perimenopause symptoms)

Once the wood stove was fired up on October 19th, I encouraged the family to try the Less Heat challenge. We didn’t use the furnace unless absolutely necessary, like arriving home at bedtime on Sunday night to a 57 deg F house. We actually went for two weeks in February where my husband and I hid the fact that the furnace wasn’t working from each other. (How cleaver we are!)

Last weekend was our first freezing outdoor temp. If the peppers can make it through with No Heat. So can I.

No Heat / Less Heat Challenge on Facebook. Come Like this page


“We need No Heat!” The Red Bell Peppers

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Yeti Beti

Yeti Beti is a women’s professional mountain bike team. I live in the prairie so, it’s not like I go mountain biking. I’ve never been biking in Coloradoi and haven’t even watched the Yeti Betis race. However, I do own their T-shirt.

There are days when I think I own that shirt even though there it’s hard to find a hill in Illinois let alone a mountain.

Like, one Friday when K-man and I zig-zag across town with friends on bikes looking for some din din. Who closes on a Friday night?

Or, the next day, when I took K-man out for a trail ride to ease the Saturday afternoon blues. We rolled out to Forsythe woods. If it weren’t for river valleys, Illinois wouldn’t have any change in elevation.

Do you recall that my mountain bike only has two gears on a good day. Fortunately, I only fell over twice trying to climb the Forsythe Woods trail in my two gears which neither seemed suitable for the conditions.

Next stop, ice cream. No falling here, although, I may have skipped to the door.

A few days later we needed to stop by our friends’ house to pick up something. Why would we take the car? We just need to avoid the gnat festival next time because there wasn’t a foot of road that was gnat free.

In my little world, I’m a Yeti Beti.

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It Would Have Been Positive

I took the cub scouts on a bike hike on a Midewin prairie trail that was a little overgrown. Four days prior when I confirmed the suitability of the trail for bikers as young as 7 years old, I figured the excessive weeds lining the limestone trail would just enhance the rugged ambiance. I underestimated the weeds or the weather or both.

We received 3.9 inches of rain the night before the hike. I assume the weeds succumbed to the rain because they were bent over the trail. While this may not mean much to you, I’ve neglected to mention that these weeds are actually giant ragweed. I’m not even using ‘giant’ as an exaggeration. That is their actual name. Giant ragweed grows to be 8 + feet tall.

20120905-100311.jpgPhoto from University of Illinois Extension/Lyle Paul show casing 11 feet tall Giant Ragweed

So when I say that weeds were bent over the trail, it was so bad that we really should have used machetes to get through. I went first, forcing myself and my bike to break through the overlapping stalks. I tried to push back the weeds as much as I could.

Fortunately, about 100 yards into the trail the weeds receded allowing the kids to actually ride a couple of miles. Then the giant ragweed was pleasant to have around because it provided endless shade on a treeless trail on a hot August evening. The challenging trail became fun. The kids were excited to ride farther and farther.

20120905-094003.jpgCheck out the shade!

Too soon, I had to turn us back because I had developed massive hives from armpit to wrist, was sneezing endlessly, and was told my face was all blotchy. Luckily, I was still breathing at the end of the ride, and I was the only one in a pack of 14 that reacted so quickly to the giant ragweed.

Every year growing up, my mom would try to convince me to have an allergy scratch test so that we could resolve my itchy eyes and endless sneezes but I stubbornly refused believing that an allergy test would only elevate my sensitivity to 100 million things in my environment? (I started my hypochondriac career at an early age). I’m pretty sure it would have been positive for ragweed.

20120905-094404.jpg Henslow Trail at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Objects are bigger than they appear.

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Filed under cycling, exercise, Lessons learned