Sunday, October 26, 2014

On the Road Again!

Good afternoon!  This is my view, right now, as I sit at the picnic table and write.  It really doesn't get much better than this, does it?  77 degrees with a great cool breeze off the lake really agrees with me.

We finally, after some setbacks, left NJ on Monday.  We got to Roanoke, VA on Wednesday and stayed at a most unusual RV camp, McFarland's Overnite.  It was perfect for what we wanted this time, just a place to park while Jeff got some riding time in and we got to visit with his friend, Carter...sticking our toes back in the waters of travel, so to speak.

It was a trailer park with about  half a dozen RV parks along the outside.  Lots of highway noise, nothing to see scenery-wise but convenient to Carvin's Cove for Jeff to ride.

The day we got there, Jeff took me to Carvin's Cove to walk/hike.  It was a fire road with lots of hills so I felt like it was hiking.  Absolutely beautiful scenery and no one else to be found (on a weekday).  It let me burn off some pent up stress.  Also, I always think it's cool to see some of the places Jeff goes to ride.  This was the easy stuff, so not exactly where he would ride, but close enough.

We had dinner with Jeff's friend, Carter, Thursday night.  He told us we needed to see the Roanoke Star before we left.  100 feet tall, on the top of Mill Mountain, it can be seen for miles.

Overlooking downtown Roanoke

He put in some long rides on Wednesday and Thursday while I took care of some domestic chores and walked around the trailer park.  Friday was another travel day, but a much shorter one.

We are camping at Bandit's Roost on the Kerr Scott Reservoir in Wilkesboro, NC.  This has got to be one of the most beautiful places we have parked!  This is the first time I have wanted to keep all our shades and curtains open all day long!  I love to be near water and the lake is about 100 feet outside our door!  We got the end campsite so only have had one neighbor, everything else is a panoramic view of the lake.

We came here to see two of Jeff's Bulldog teammates do a metric century mountain bike race starting at Warrior Creek.  So we also got to see two of our NJ friends, before we even had time to miss them.  Tom and Ryan arrived here shortly after we did, so Jeff did a quick spin with them.  Jeff has ridden here before so he really enjoyed riding with them on trails that were a bit familiar to him. 

While they did that, I took my bike out on a tour of the campground.  It wasn't a long ride, but it's all rolling hills.  I still have not gotten good at climbing, but it was so fun!  It wasn't a long ride, but I really enjoyed it.  On Friday, the campground was filling up for the weekend.  Tents, RVs, kids and dogs everywhere!

We had a nice pre-race dinner with Tom and Ryan and tucked ourselves into bed pretty early.  We did take the time for an after dinner walk.  There was no moon, but the sky was so clear and the stars so bright.  The air was just a touch crisp!

Saturday was one of the best days ever!

We woke up to a super foggy lake.  Breathtakingly beautiful!  The mountain bike race went directly past our campground twice, in a spot that was easy for me to get to.  It was so fun to be able to cheer the guys on and ring our cowbells so they knew we were there for them.  After watching them come through the first time, I went back to the campsite with the intention of working. 

Hahaha, that didn't happen.  I did a couple things and then just had to go outside and play!!!  I was tooling around on my bike, hoping I could see the racers across the lake.  No such luck, however, I found some playmates.  There were three neighboring campers (children) riding around the loop on their bikes.  I ended up playing bike tag with the 8-year-olds and having the time of my life!  I never did that as a kid, so I was swooping around and giggling and hiding.  They said it wasn't fair because my bike was better and faster.  I pointed out that I was waaaaayyyyy older.  Since I was "Grandma" age, they decided it was OK.  Their grandma won't play bike tag and "she's like 50 or something."

By the time it was time to ride back up to see the guys pass through again, I was wiped out.  I definitely am not 8 years old, although I felt like it for about half an hour!

We drove over to the finish line of the race just in time to see Ryan, then Tom come out of the woods and onto the last stretch of pavement up to the finish.  They are both such strong riders!  Ryan came in 6th in the Open category and Tom made the podium at 3rd in the 40+ age group.  Prizes were great!  You have to check out his video of the race when he puts it up.  It will either be on this blog or

We said goodbye to them as they headed out for the long drive back to NJ and their ever supportive families.

Just the best day ever!!!

Today...I have played procrastinator and had quite a bit of work today.  It's mostly done now, so I can sit at the picnic table and share these thoughts.  There are a few people out on the lake, getting in their last bit of fun for the weekend.  Jeff is off on a ride.  The campground is emptying out of folks heading back to reality.

How grateful I am to be here, to be learning more about myself and to have such a wonderful family and friends.

Tomorrow, we are heading to Brevard, NC for a few weeks.  It is still one of my favorite spots of all that we have been to.  This spot, Bandit's Roost, is more beautiful for camping but a bit impractical for day-to-day life.  But, it's all good.  Isn't it now?


Here are some pictures from a beautiful morning at Bandit's Roost campground on Kerr Scott Lake, near Wilkesboro North Carolina. We were fortunate enough to get the last spot out on the point.
If you ever get out this way, this is definitely a destination location, with boating, biking, Hiking and fishing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What I Did Over Summer Vacation By Jeffrey M. O'Hara

I crashed several weeks ago on a "Bro" ride. Lots of stops and starts and I just lost focus. Well I damaged my left shoulder quite badly. Just short of dislocating it and the humerus could have had a hair line fracture (my 4th worst bike injury).  I had arrived in NJ last April in fairly good shape, which quickly went away. We needed to refill the coffers after some repairs to the motorhome, end of last year.  It was not so much the repairs, as most, but not all, of that was covered by our extended warranty. It was the extra time spent in hotels and eating out that drained the bank account the fastest.  We planned on staying in NJ for five months, which turned to over six.  The plan was also, for me to work part time so I could do some other repairs and bus maintenance. With Cycle Craft opening another store, this quickly became 60 hours a week and did not taper down until John Nicholson came to our Jefferson store to be the Service manager. Ironically, just the week before my crash, John had messed up his right arm somewhat worse than mine.  We both worked through it, though.  As for bus repairs and maintenance, my damage did limit and slow down what I could do.  There were several times that I moved the wrong way or too quickly, that made me want to cry!

Over the summer, I rode when I could, but I soon got tired and slow.  When I was at my most rundown and my race bike was in for major surgery, I bailed on a 50 mile race.  I was just starting to get some good training in the few weeks before I damaged myself.

I was hoping to just be a mechanic for the summer so I could become more efficient, C'est la vie.

While everything did not quite go according to plan, I am happy about many things too.
Tammy has been walking or riding her bike as regularly as life would allow.
Tammy has started to learn to use exercise to help balance stress.
Tammy is proving doctors wrong by still being alive and not in constant pain!
Kim Fury got back on the bike.
Kim let me show her some handling techniques.
I got to ride with many from my Jersey crew, Tom, Rich,Tommy, Jorge, Igor,, Ryan, Kris, George b., Njck, Eric, Dom, Morgan, Blane, DR J, Doug and for the first time in many years Brendan and many others.
We got to see all kinds of our Jersey peeps. (Just wished there was more time)
We put on two really good road cycling events, Hillier than Thou and Tour de Long Valley (Thanks Mark, Chris,Igor and Rob)
I had an awesome trip to Vermont with Rich, Jorge and Tom
We fall but we get back up.

Special thanks to Rich and Cheryl and Tom and JoAnn and Jessi, who helped in too many ways to list!

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014


I love riding my bike.  I'm not sure I always love the after effects of riding, but it is so much more worth it to have pain from having had so much fun, rather than from just existing.

Most of my friends ride...a lot.  Almost all of them have epic rides at one time or another.  Theirs are usually of the 50-150 mile ride epic ride.

I managed to have an 8.5 mile epic ride!

Jeff took me out on the Columbia Trail last Tuesday afternoon.  It was a pretty warm day (mid-80s) when we started.  We decided to go from the Cycle Craft Long Valley shop to the trailhead on Bartley Road.  I had not gone that direction in several years and it has been improved with a trail that goes around the housing development; very nice.

The first thing that let me know it would be a special ride was seeing the Ghostbusters ambulance right before we got on the trail!  Ghostbusters was a great part of my young adulthood.  It was exciting to see the ambulance in Long Valley, of all places.  Hmmm, I wonder about the ghosts along the trail.

Photo: Where you going to call?

A little further in on the ride and it started raining.  I've never really ridden in the rain before and I started feeling a bit nervous.  In no time at all, it was a complete downpour and the trees really didn't seem to be sheltering us from it at all.  I couldn't stop laughing!  Rain was pouring down my helmet and into my mouth (which I never seem to be able to keep shut).  I was so drenched and having so much fun.

I don't see well on a good day.  The rain came down so hard I could barely see the red and blue of Jeff's jersey riding ahead of me.  He very graciously steered me away from the horse poop on the trail and guided me across when we had to cross streets.  Still, I couldn't stop giggling.

We saw a bunny on the way out, ducking for cover as we came barreling along.  We saw another bunny on the way back; in my "magical" mood, I imagined it was the same bunny waiting to make sure we got back.

The rain seemed to draw turtles onto the trail, as well.  We saw two on the way back.  Not big ones, but cute little fellows enjoying their own walk in the rain.


I think that might have been the most fun ride I have ever had!  I felt like I was all of 8 years old and disobeying all those rules I grew up with!  See?  Epic rides don't need to be long.  Epic is a state of mind.  It probably wouldn't have been much fun had it been cold, and that would be a different story.  I finished that ride drenched, covered in grit from the trail and excited for my next ride.

My next ride is noteworthy also; but for a different reason.  On Sunday, I was busy having a stupid, old pity party.  I hate when I get like that.  I am intelligent enough to know that the way I am thinking is only making my mood worse, I just can't seem to help myself sometimes.

Jeff came home from his ride and offered to take me out on a ride.  He doesn't have a lot of free time, so I knew I should take him up on it while the offer was there.

We went down to the High Bridge end of the Columbia Trail and started up.  The last time I started at that end, I got 7.5 miles in and was completely wiped out.  This time, I used my self-pity as a motivation and channeled my inner "Kim Fury".  She is a good friend who rides like she is possessed.  She has always told me a bike ride makes everything better.  Actually, a lot of my friends say that.  On Sunday, I found out what they meant.

I started that ride so mean, evil and bitchy!  By the time we got to the Califon city limits, I checked out of the pity party and into fun mode.  The slow steady climb took all the abuse I could put into my pedals.  With every turn of the crank, the moodiness and bitchiness flew out the back of my tires.  We turned back at 5 miles which meant I had my longest ride since being back in New Jersey.  When I finished, I was content and at peace, the way I like to be.

 Photo: Almost to Califon. And looking better on the climb out of high bridge

So, riding causes me some pretty bad pain the day after.  So what?  The joy that it brings is worth every bit of the pain.  I can deal with some steady chronic pain.  I don't do so well when deprived of the pure pleasure of being on a bike, even for my short, simple rides.

Monday, May 19, 2014

"What Can I Do For You?"

Until very recently, I considered myself a strong, independent woman.  I worked tirelessly both at my job and at home.  I played some, but not as much as I wish I had.

I am still pretty strong, or as Jeff calls it, stubborn.  I don't like to give in to my pain and weakness, however, I am finding if I occasionally give in, I can do more later.

I have never been good at accepting help when offered, nor have I been able to ask for help when I needed it.  I'm getting a little better.  It's even difficult for me to ask Jeff for help; and I know he loves me unconditionally and has seen me at my very worst.

I am blessed with wonderful friends.  For the most part, they seem to understand that too much activity wears me down and I have to spend a couple quiet days after "excitement".  I am frequently asked, "What can I do for you?"  This shows me the heart of my friends and they all have HUGE hearts!  Unfortunately, I usually don't know how to answer the question.  Too often, I feel as if I am imposing (even though the offer has been made).  I worry that people will find me weak or needy.  I worry that they won't like me any more if they see me in my weakness.

So, I'm dumping it all out right here.  I can't see out of my right eye, so I don't drive any more.  I can barely hear out of my left ear, so try to stay to my right.  I frequently lose my balance and stumble.  More often than not, I catch myself but some of my falls are pretty rough.  The shortest, easiest walks and bike rides tire me out to the point I need a nap.  I used to have the best memory of anyone I knew.  Now, sometimes, I can't remember what we were talking about while we are still talking about it.  Despite all this, I still need to feel  useful.  I love that Brendan keeps letting me work. 

So, when you ask what you can do for me, and I reply "nothing, I am good", I am lying about half the time.  I am working on asking for what I need, but I still have a long way to go.  Our very good friends, the Kruse family, pick me up once a week to just hang out with them.  They let me do laundry at their house and just chill as if I were one of the family.  It gets me out of here and I get to see people I really love.  They also take me grocery shopping whenever I need to go.  It was very difficult at first, but the idea came from them and was offered with such kindness and love, that it hardly hurt at all to accept.

My other good friend, George, frequently takes me out to lunch.  I love to cook, but it's nice to get out, let someone else cook and just chat.

I know that there are others with the same problem.  New mothers, shut-ins, caretakers of the ill or elderly.  They don't know how to reply to the "what can I do for you?" question.  I can't speak specifically for them, but offer to cook a meal, do their shopping, do their laundry, watch the child/parent/spouse.  It's much easier to have the conversation if you ask specifics. 

So, please don't ask me what you can do for me.  Please ask me if you can take me for a short, easy bike ride.  Ask me if you can come over and visit.  Ask me if I will bake you cookies or make you dinner.  Ask me if I want to go shopping, out for coffee or lunch.  I'm pretty good at answering the specific questions, just not the general ones.   

And sometimes, all I need is a phone call and to know that my friends are still out there.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Year in the Making...or thereabouts

We have been traveling in the RV for a little over a year now.  It truly is home now.  We traveled by car for about three months before buying the RV, and enjoyed that almost as much.  That could never be home for us though.  We like to have our "stuff" around us, and I like to cook waaaayyy  too much to stay in hotels.  Even when they have kitchenettes, it's just not the same.

While our goal is to see all 50 states, so far we have only been in 24 with the RV.  There are other states that we have traveled to previously, so they have kind of fallen to the bottom of the list
Unfortunately, I wish we had started this a couple years earlier.  I'm not quite feeling as well as I was when we first started.  For every good day, I seem to have 2-4 bad days; depends on how I spend the good day.  Believe me, I am trying to make the most out of each day that I feel good enough, but I end up paying for it with the bad days.  Financially, the money has gone a bit quicker than expected.  For these reasons, we have returned to New Jersey where Jeff will work at the bike shop for the summer and I will try to rest and relax and prepare to travel again in the fall.  I guess we truly have become snowbirds, because the thought of a northern winter makes me very, very sad.

We traveled along the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas, with stops in Gulf Shores, Alabama, Biloxi, Mississippi and New Orleans.  We spent 10 days between Galveston and Houston before moving up to Austin for a week.  Water fascinates me.  Jeff has always been more of a mountain person, but I love the peace and serenity of the sea, as well as the fury and anger during a storm.

Car ferry across Mobile Bay

Mobile Bay

Blue Angels Museum, Pensacola, Florida

Sunset on Perdido Bay

Gulf Coast from Biloxi MS
A few years ago, we took a Caribbean cruise and opted for the shore excursion that took us parasailing.  I fell in love with flying.  I used the experience in my visualization exercises for months afterward.  We knew that we wanted to do it one more time and I thought the Gulf of Mexico would be a cool place to fly again.  We did it back on March through Caribbean Breeze out of Galveston.  It was just as great as last time.  I have to say the Caribbean was more beautiful but the experience was still amazing...and this time I wasn't nervous about it.  Did I mention I have a HUGE fear of heights and I don't know how to swim?  It looks like it should be harder than it is, but despite all my physical issues, I can still fly pretty easily.  The staff at Caribbean Breeze was awesome and accommodating.  We shared the boat with a newlywed couple that had never flown before.  They were nice yet not intrusively friendly.

You can see our para-sailing trip through this link, or the posting from 3/21.

I'm hoping I can visualize off that for several months.

We spent 8 days in Austin.  Although we have encountered friends on our travels, this was the first time we actually visited friends in their "new" home town.  Steve and Amy have  a wonderful family and they made us feel so welcome.  Steve is an avid mountain biker and was happy to show Jeff his favorite Austin trails.  Amy and I went to the Zilker Park Garden Festival with the two girls, Abigail and Madeleine.  Poor Riley was ill that day; I really missed him.  Austin is an amazing city.  So much music and the growth of the arts in the city is spectacular.  But it's fairly new growth, so there is a definite lack of "urban jerks".  I have to admit, we totally hated the  traffic.  Almost any time of day it was far too reminiscent of Route 80 at rush hour.

Fairy House at Zilker Park

Steve and Amy also made sure we experienced epic Texas BBQ by taking us out to Salt Lick BBQ, a family style BBQ place.  The food kept coming, and coming, and coming.   We also each took a huge to-go container home with us which made for another entire 

The first round of epic Texas BBQ at Salt Link

The next day, after the men went riding and the women went to the Garden Festival, Steven treated us to a grilled pork loin.  They truly are Texans now, because they absolutely differentiate between BBQ and grilling.

Our two other major treats in Austin were Amy's Ice Creams and Mellow Johnny's Bike shop.  I am not much of an ice cream fan, but Amy's had the best I have ever had.  I would definitely go again.

Jeff in line for his second serving at Amy"s Ice Creams.  And he ate the whole thing!!!

Mellow Johnny's is a very cool bike shop.  To be honest, though, I did expect a bit more.  It made me more proud to come from the Cycle Craft shops.  Brendan has done such a great job with his focus at Cycle Craft and I am grateful to have seen the progression and growth throughout the last 20 years.

Jeff and I took a quick day trip to San Antonio to visit the Riverwalk and the Alamo.  Our room overlooked the Tower of Life.  What a cool city!

60 ounce margarita on the Riverwalk.

The Alamo shrine.

Tower of Life.

We spent our last couple nights in Texas near Dallas with Jeff's aunt and uncle, John and Jen.  Once again, Southern hospitality was laid at our feet.  We have not seen these O'Haras in more than 20 years and need to return to spend more time.  We took the train into Dallas for lunch and rode the free trolley around to see some of the area.

Uncle John and Aunt Jenn with Jeff on the trolley.  So good to see family.

So now it was time to head back to New Jersey.  I was exhausted from the flurry of Texas activity so we stopped for a few days near Nashville.  Jeff got a good ride in, I got a bit of rest and we saw the Johnny Cash museum.

Now it was seriously time to head back.  Jeff made the drive from Nashville to Chester in 2 days, long days.  The bus is pretty big and I can't help drive, so driving more than 5 hours in a day can get pretty tough on him.

As of Saturday, April 19,  we were back in Dirty Jerzey, as I have heard it called.  Time for me to rest and for us to put some money away to try and travel again in the fall.

I will try to post more over the summer.  Hopefully, with some rest I will feel better and more able to be upbeat and positive.