by: Caroline Scales, Guest Blogger and Resident Bike Expert
I just returned from a 7-day bike ride across the state of Iowa – my 4th time biking across that state. I pedaled as part of the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa – affectionately known by its acronym RAGBRAI. Along with 10,000 other cyclists, I logged a total of 460 miles over the course of the week, including one long 85-mile day, and 11,000 cumulative feet of climb. Yes, my neck and shoulders felt sore, my feet felt numb, my quads complained on the hills, I used a lot of Hoo Ha to avoid road rash, the sun beat down overheating me, and I found myself wondering why I decided to subject myself yet again to the rigors of biking across Iowa. But RAGBRAI encompasses far more than just a state bike ride, and the off-bike activities make it worth all the on-bike aches and pains
Every year since 2006, I wake up at 4am on the first Sunday in May to ride 42 miles through New York City as part of the Five Boro Bike Tour. The city has hosted the tour every year but one since 1977; participation steadily increased over the years until organizers capped the number of riders at 32,000. Despite the limit, the tour remains the largest ride in the USA. Bike New York, a non-profit bicycle advocacy group, promotes and supports the Five Boro Ride every year, as well as many other rides in and around the New York City area. New York – with more than 500 miles of bike lanes and paths – actually provides an extremely bike-friendly city in which to cycle.
Line up for the Five Boro starts downtown in and around Battery Park. Riders arrive early and kill time drinking coffee and batting around beach balls. Once the ride starts, bikers follow a route along many roads regularly featured in NYC traffic reports such as the Belt Parkway, FDR Drive, and BQE. Cyclists pass within sight of a myriad of New York landmarks: Ground Zero, Radio City, the New York Public Library in mid-town, Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, John Paul Jones Park, the Roosevelt Island Tram, the United Nations, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, Fort Wadsworth, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Staten Island Ferry, the Statue of Liberty, even the Intrepid one year while it docked in Staten Island for repairs. And the bridges! You cross five famed NYC bridges over the course of the ride: the Madison Avenue bridge into The Bronx, the 3rd Avenue bridge back into Manhattan, the Queensboro Bridge (a.k.a. 59th Street Bridge, idolized in Paul Simon’s baby boomer song Feelin’ Groovy) over the East River into Queens, and the Pulaski Bridge into Brooklyn. Riders leave Brooklyn via the lower level of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to enter Staten Island.
For me, the Verrazano, with its gorgeous views of Lower Bay and the Hudson River, serves as the highlight of the ride. At 6,690 feet including both side spans, and an average 3.9% grade, the bridge presents the most difficult part of the entire route; fairly straightforward for anyone training regularly, but quite difficult for all the weekend warriors. On the Verrazano, many people dismount and start walking. When it opened in 1964, the Verrazano laid claim as the longest suspension bridge in the world. Today it comes in at 7th on the list. The bridge only closes to cars for the Five Boro Bike Ride and the NYC Marathon.
I’ve done this ride many different ways: with one other person, with a team, solo, with an infected toe, in unseasonably warm weather, and in unseasonably chilly weather. I’ve gotten stuck in the pack and walked many miles on the ride. Sometimes I ride straight through, and other times I’ve taken breaks at the rest stops. I’ve started downtown, from Staten Island, and from Brooklyn. I’ve seen some pretty spectacular crashes on this ride. One year, a pedestrian trying to cross 6th avenue in mid-town got upended when neither she nor the cyclist bearing down on her gave way resulting in a barrage of bagels strewn all over the street. Another year, someone had a heart attack on the Madison Avenue bridge. Having grown up about ten miles west of the Lincoln Tunnel, I have visited New York hundreds of times at this point in my life, but biking the five boroughs – no matter how I ride or who I ride with - remains the most unique way to experience the city.
by Caroline Scales, guest blogger/bike expert
The man saying that to me had just pulled up behind me on his bicycle at 9th and 29th street in Manhattan. “You NEVER stop!” he admonished me. But I stopped because a bus had turned left right in front of me cutting me off before I had biked through the intersection. Earlier that morning, I had taken a bus into Port Authority with my bicycle in the luggage compartment. Now I found myself riding in a bike lane south on 9th Avenue trying to make my way over to the west side greenway. I quickly realized I needed an aggressive approach to survive biking in mid-town. The “Never stop!” guy had the correct mantra. So I picked up the pace and rode decisively through any intersections with a green bike traffic light, braking as little as possible. It felt empowering to pass all those cars, especially when they had a red light forcing them to yield to me.
I came to NYC that day to pick up my rider packet for the Five Boro Bike Tour. I zig-zagged my way from Port Authority to Battery Park where throngs of tourists forced me to dismount and walk the bike. Once beyond that congested area, I saddled back up and rode to Pier 36, passing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and pedaling under the Brooklyn Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge on the way. At Pier 36 I valet parked my bike (yes: valet bike parking), and went to the Bike Expo where all Five Boro tour riders must appear in person to pick up their rider packets. With my packet in hand, I then headed back the way I came, once again walking through the throngs of tourists in Battery Park, saddling up as soon as the crowds thinned out and riding north on the Hudson River Greenway up the west side. I heard this path described as a highway for bikes and now, having ridden it, I have to agree. The path runs approximately 13 miles through Riverside Park, and I rode it all the way up to The Cloisters and Fort Tryon (around 200th Street). I had a perfect view of the Hudson River the entire way with the Palisades across the river on the Jersey side. I passed the Intrepid and all the piers, with tall mid-town buildings a few blocks away. The trail became less crowded the further north I went, with only the traffic noise and George Washington Bridge serving as a reminder of my riding in NYC.
The weather has been killing me. You too? Here's a 20 minute, no-equipement-necessary, workout that you can do on a track or treadmill, at home or in the gym.
This is a great boredom buster that provides a full body workout in a short amount of time. It's fast paced. Don't stop for breaks. In just 20 minutes, you can burn up to 250 calories.* Do the routine twice, and you're looking at 500 calories! I've been loving this workout versus mindless laps around or track or on a treadmill.
~ 5 minute run on a track or treadmill
~ 1 minute squats
~ 1 minute run
~ 1 minute jacks
~ 1 minute run
~1 minute mountain climbers
~1 minute run
~1 minute alternating leg lunges
~1 minute run
~1 minute kickbacks
~1 minute run
~1 minute push-ups
~4 minute run
*calorie estimate is based on intensity
If you have dedicated yourself towards getting fit and healthy and you're ready to help others do the same, The Aerobics & Fitness Association of America (AFAA) makes it very easy to get certified.
Now offering affordable online courses, you can quickly obtain your Group Fitness Instructor Certification and get started teaching your own classes. In January, I registered for the online course. I studied for about a month and was certified by March, just in time to teach Cardio Bootcamp at my local community center. Here's what you need to know:
Last night, I hosted my first doTERRA essential oils workshop. The turnout was amazing! So many friends and family were interested in learning about the goodness of essential oils and how to use them.
I have to admit, I learned a TON from leaders, Amanda Olsen and Elisa Haggerty. Their knowledge about how the oils work, the uses for each and recommendations for naturally boosting your immune system, assisting with colds, stress and anxiety was invaluable. I'd like to share with you what I learned.
My niece recently shared this recipe with me that she found in a Stop and Shop flyer. She raved about how good it was. I really like Qunioa, but usually eat it for breakfast with blueberries and a drizzle of honey. I decided to give it a try and it was delicious. It's extremely easy and quick to make. I have a feeling this will be a staple.
In a separate pan, heat olive oil and saute garlic and onion. Add Spinach and continue to saute until wilted.
Stir in the quinoa, parmesan cheese and lemon. Serves 4.
Per serving: 320 calories (3/4 cup), 15g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 4g fiber, 14g protein, 1g sugar
Are your hands dry and chapped from this crazy Winter weather? If the answer is yes... and I know for many it is, then you'll want to give this simple doTERRA essential oils Hand/Foot Scrub recipe a try.
I found the recipe on the doTERRA blog, where you can go to learn your own tips and tricks. This one, I just had to try because my hands are awful in the Winter and it seemed so easy.
It took less than 5 minutes to whip it together and guess what? The effects were amazingly luxurious!
I was not expecting the results that I got and it lasted all day long. Even through all the dish washing that we all do. If you're hands and feet feel dry and cracked, you should give this a try.
Medicine Cabinet Makeover
Learn how to use doTerra Essential Oils in your cooking and personal care products to enhance your health & vitality!
When: February 11th
Where: My house
Join us as Elisa Haggarty, CHHC and Natural Foods Chef Amanda Olsen explore the healing benefits of
Essential Oils. They will share insight on how pure essential oils can be used for physical ailments, injuries and stress management. dōTERRA Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils represent the safest, purest, and most beneficial essential oils available today.
About Amanda Olsen
Amanda Olsen is an international speaker and certified health coach with GreenSmoothieGirl.com. Former diet coke addict turned green juice fanatic, she is the mother of 3 and founder of Idaho Holistic Moms, a group dedicated to teaching families about today’s natural medicine, and creator and leader of the Whole Body Health Group.
Amanda has journeyed great distances to study alternative methods of detoxification and sought personal healing through whole foods, cleansing, mindfulness, and doTERRA essential oils, with incredible results. Amanda shares her knowledge and personal experience to educate and empower
families and individuals to achieve healing and happiness. You can reach her firstname.lastname@example.org to ask how you can receive a personal wellness consultation at no charge.
About Elisa Haggery
Elisa Haggarty is the founder of Culinary Farmacy is a global nutrition/culinary consulting company that helps women who are fed up with chronic disease overcome their symptoms & thrive through dietary and lifestyle upgrades. As a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant and Natural Foods Chef, she inspires people to transform their lives with powerful dietary & lifestyle upgrades. Her custom
health programs and workshops are informative, empowering and life changing. Elisa is also an
Independent Product Consultant for doTerra and is based out of Brooklyn, NY. Her favorite essential oils are Lemon and Balance!
Guest Blogger: Caroline Scales (aka resident bike expert)
I never complain when it snows for one simple reason: it gives me a chance to cross country ski. The Winter Weather Gods have provided me with more opportunities than usual to strap on my skis this season here in New Jersey. So I have sneaked off to ski several times with just the dog, and once with the dog and my husband.
I have yet to find a better way to enjoy the cold weather. I set off each time with temps in the teens, and never felt the cold. I stick to the trails in a small wildlife management area at the end of my development. Three main highways border it, and I always hear the traffic noise, yet it feels so far away. I only see the trees, the snow, the streams and the dog. The dog must run two miles for every mile I ski. She catches a scent and follows her nose meandering off the trail until she runs full tilt to catch up with me again. She repeats this cycle endlessly until we finally return to the car to head home.
Sometimes the neighborhood teens ride their quads in the woods after a storm, and the snow gets tamped down perfectly for skiing. Sometimes I find a trail with no tracks and break my own. We saw chickadees flying out from hollowed stumps as we skied by one evening, and we heard an owl. If I look closely enough, I always find animal tracks too – deer, rabbit, small ridges where mice have burrowed under the snow.
I clear my head out there in the woods in all that cold air and it always feels good. I hope the forecast calls for more snow.