More fun on the Pinellas Trail

9 02 2008

Okay, just so you people won’t think that I’m some sort of sadist, I’ve decided to start training on the Pinellas Trail.  The trail here offers a lot of off-road trails, as well as pavement.  I can easily do 20-25 miles with just a camelback and not be too winded.  But, just to up it a notch,  I started biking with my new camera pack.  Okay, so that equals 2 cameras, 3 lenses, filers, cleaning stuff, Mac laptop, camelback, iPod, plus a small notebook for notes.  Hmmm.  One wonders how much all this weighs.  About 45 pounds.  And just to make it slightly tougher, I’ve deflated my tires just a touch (not enough to ruin the rims), to add some real drag.  The result?  Today I did 15 miles without any wheezing, gasping for air, and feeling pret-ty good.  Granted, I was tired.

I’ve been doing this for some time now, and every 2-3 trips, I lose the gear and go for distance and endurance.  That means nothing more than just me, my water pack and my iPod.  Gotta have the iPod.  Truly needs to go on the 7 modern wonders of the world….  I trekked almost 30 miles two weeks ago with nothing.  After I got back to my car, I was surprised at how far I went, and not end up winded.

Don’t worry, I know some of you think, 45 pound pack and 15 miles without training?  Nope.  I started off with 3-4 miles, in a section that I could handle pretty easily, just to test the weight of the pack, bike and body.  Not any real problems, so I upped the distance.  Next time it was 6-7 miles.  I did that a couple of times, then I went right back out and did 15 miles without the pack on.   So now, after about 3 months, I’m up to 30 miles without the pack, and 15 with.  Doing pretty good considering the problems with my legs in the past.

In 2004 I hit my left knee pretty hard while at work, and then in 2006 I sprained my left ankle really badly.  It should have broken, but since I’m double-jointed, it only sprained it.  So I’ve been looking for ways to improve my health that doesn’t involve going to the gym (I’m truly scared of those places) and that involve some fun and personal challenge.

For today’s ride on the trail, I parked at a nearby disc golf course.  There was another couple there, doing the same things, only they were only carrying water bottles in their harnesses.  I started talking to them, and they’ve been working out at a gym for more than a decade.  Love to ride the bikes in the gym, so they decided to step it up and got some mountain bikes.  Today was the first day on the trail, with their new bikes.  Please keep in mind that these two would make anybody jealous.  Very fit people.  So they asked if they could join me, since I’m very familiar with the trail.

So as we’re traveling along, and keep hearing grunts and wheezing behind me.  We stop for a rest, not 2 miles where we started from, and I ask them what’s wrong.  Turns out, they love the bikes in the gym because they’re stationary.  These two didn’t have to contend with going up and down hills (what we have for them – here in Florida), or having to change gears about every quarter-mile or so.  At that point, we parted.  They headed back to the car, and back to the gym where they belong, and I continued on my trek.

Well, that’s the adventure for today.  Now it’s back to cleaning the house and doing laundry!  Yep.  On a Saturday night.  I truly have no life!  But I do have a great book waiting for me to pick it back up.

Fun on the Pinellas Trail

6 02 2008

Well, many of you know that I live in Pinellas County, Florida. Several years back, the county made a deal with the railroad people to convert unused lines into a trail. So they took out the rails, and a paved trail was born. It cuts through many different areas of Pinellas County. It started with roughly 10 miles, and now stretches from Ft. DeSoto (southernmost tip of the county) to almost the Pasco County line, directly to the north. This past Sunday I took my new camera pack out for a spin on my mountain bike. Loads of pictures to take, as the landscaping is different every few miles. Sometimes the county keeps up part, sometimes local businesses and volunteer groups plant trees and xeriscape. Almost all of the flowers and other flora are natives to Florida, with a few exceptions, of course.

Ream Wilson Trail

It’s a great place to go to relax, ride bikes or rollerblades, listen to music, and get some exercise all at once. There’s so much to see, like this sign that was almost directly under the U.S. highway #19. Busy 6 lane highway that has been under construction for who knows how long (like the span of my entire life…), and yet, the county planners made this stretch of trail go UNDER the highway. Easy access to it, and it makes for an interesting ride.

So, if you ever get the chance to get to Pinellas County, this is definitely a must-see. Take some time out, rent a bike, or just go walking. You never know what you’ll see!