Thursday, March 25, 2010


Well, this post will be a bit of explaining about my upcoming year and about the last couple of rides I've done......

Many who read this blog know that I was injured back in December and that injury took me out of cycling till January 20th or so.  I had planned on starting back to riding, training for Mitchell and doing a couple of organized rides prior to AoMM for training rides.  But, even the best laid plans can fail for one reason or another.  My plans fell through when the weather turned cold & nasty the last week of January and didn't let up till sometime this month.

During this time (January, February & part of March), I tried to get on the trainer to ride, but I hate that thing and just ignored it.  I felt discouraged, disappointed, and depressed about cycling.  I even had thoughts of selling every single bike I own and quitting cycling.  But, I knew deep down, that I would regret those sales so, I held on to the bikes.  I hated the fact that I had lost all of my cycling fitness, knowing how strong I was prior to Nov/Dec 2009, and that it was going to be a long hard road to get back to my fitness level of June 2009. 

That road is a discouraging road.  You go out to ride, thinking you can ride 50-60 miles and ride as hard/fast as you could 6 months ago.  Wrong.  I figured that out quickly when I went to G'ville, SC to "try" and do a 40-60 mile ride the first weekend of March.  I even had these grandour thoughts that I could still climb.  I set out to climb up/down/up/down Paris Mtn and then ride elsewhere to get in that mileage.  Uh huh.  I made it to the 0.75mi point on Paris Mtn, where the road takes a left and goes UP.  I couldn't do it.  Not at 3-4 mph.  I turned tail and ended up riding around Paris Mtn area for 2 hours.  A hilly 2 hour ride for my first ride in 2 months.  I had a pathetic 25 miles.  Yes, that's 25 miles in 2 hours.  You can figure out the pace. :(

So discouraged after that - I didn't ride again until March 15 (I think) and I did a quick 16 miles or so after work one day.  I rode again that week on Sunday, March 21 for 2hr.  I did manage to do a little further distance, 30 miles.  But, my butt hurt like the dickens!  And, I had to fight the wind.  Anyhow...My last 2 rides have been of the "It-was-just-tooling/putzing-around" variety.  23 miles last Thursday, the Sunday ride, and a 15mi ride with my buddy Dallas (who hasn't ridden in 2+ months either).  And, you guys know what??  I actually enjoyed those last 2 rides.  You should have heard Dallas moaning & whining about the pace at times, but I had to remind him to forget about it right now.  Time in the saddle is what counts for both of us now.

What's my point to all the above?  I'm taking the season off.  I'm not going to do Assault on Mt Mitchell (sold the pass) nor will I be doing any organized training rides prior to that ride.  I'm going to ride, try to get back on a Tu/Thur schedule with Dallas and some of the other guys, but I'm not going to be concerned with how fast we go (like I was last year) or I'll try not to. :)  I want to finally enjoy cycling after 2.5 hard years of cycling without "seeing the roses or even smelling them".  I'm sure Dallas and I will get back to form and be able go knock out 60mi rides in 3-3.5 hours, but it's not all about that this year.  I think being burnt out and having close to 3000 miles by the end of May the last 2 yrs has taken it's toll on me.  I'm ready for something different with cycling. :)

That's about it.  I do want to do other activities this year, things that I used to enjoy but lost due to cycling every bit of spare time I had.  I'm going to work on getting fit enough to hike the Foothills Trail in SC/NC sometime this summer.  I'd like to take a week off from work and hike the whole thing (77mi).  I think it will be some awesome fun!  Who knows what else I might try....maybe a BRP tour?  We'll see....

Right now, I do feel much better, knowing I'm not doing any rides up to AoMM nor AoMM.  It's like the monkey is off my back now. :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Phone Calls!

w00t!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I got to talk to Kyle this morning for almost 45 minutes! :)  He had tried calling last night, but he had to let some others use his phone and it was going dead.  He said that if one person in the platoon didn't have a phone or was unable to use a phone, the whole platoon lost that privilege, so he let his Battle Buddy (Rivera) and a few others use it.

OK...things are going pretty good for him, now that he's not a squad leader. Still, he said he only has about an hour in the evenings to write & get prepared for the next day, so it's still hard to write to everyone. I guess Sundays are the better days for writing since they don't have to do much.  They will get in trouble right now if they are caught writing after 9pm, so he doesn't want to do that.

His platoon (3) won the Basic Rifle Marksmanship and the whole company was awarded with a milkshake & pizza party (I think the whole Co because he said even though they won, they were last platoon to get pizza) and he ate 2 WHOLE pizzas! He didn't quite make it to the Expert for marksmanship, he's a Sharpshooter and can re-qualify after 6mo.

He had 2hr to use the phone this morning and next weekend, he thinks they will have the phone from Fri-Sun!!! I hope everyone there does everything they are supposed to do so they all get to use the phones!  They are getting more privileges as they move through Basic.  They now can go to the PX without the whole platoon going with them - just themselves and their Battle Buddy.

Oh yea...his Grandma sent him a box. A box with note pads, pens, envelopes, stamps. But........................underneath all of that was 8 Reese's, 6 Almond Joys, 12 Butterfingers and something else!!! LOL - he said that he opened it and was about to freak out! Fortunately for him, he had opened it not under the DS supervision (he had to tape it all back up and then open again and pretend to be surprised!) so when he finally opened it, he had to take it all to the DS, who said he couldn't have it. He really wanted to have some, but didn't cause he knew he and the rest of the plt would get into trouble. LOL at his Grandma :)

He has been getting lots of mail from family & friends....20 push ups for each pc and 5 extra for each sticker. I think that one letter I sent him had about 10 stickers on it!! He said he had to do around a 100 that day at mail call!! For his birthday (yesterday) all he had to do was 19 push ups. He was lucky too...usually what happens on your birthday is once you do your pu, the DS steps away and says "have at it" or something like that - the platoon then just attacks you and gets to give you a birthday "beating" /eek/ !!! Fortunately for Kyle, the DS needed someone to help him get the cell phones and chose Kyle! :)

That's about all he said or all I can remember right now. :)  If I remember more in a little while, I'll post it up. 

I guess I can go for a ride this afternoon since he's already called me today. :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Adopt a Soldier

Since Kyle is now a Soldier in the Army and I've found that I really enjoy writing to him, I thought that there are probably other Soldiers who are deployed overseas or elsewhere who would also enjoy getting mail and care packages.  I'm sure getting mail & packages during the week can make their lives a little happier.  So, I signed up at the site listed below and should find out information about my Adopted Soldier by the weekend.  I'm really looking forward to this...

This is from one of the discussions on Facebook at the Ft Benning page - a post from another Mom/wife/gf:

I took this from the website ... I thought a mother could really appreciate this and maybe all of us (myself included) feeling left out and forgotten because of letters going elsewhere and ours not getting answered as much as we want them to be might get a bit out of this perspective:

Those of you that share this soldier with me have seen this...It is the most amazing letter that will hopefully put into perspective what our troops go through day in and out and how thankful they are even if you do NOT hear from them!!

I am a soldier deployed to central Afghanistan and I wanted to tell you how very much your support means to all of us fighting over here. I know that you write out of the goodness of your heart, many of you writing countless letters, which often go unanswered. You write and mail packages and pray for these fine young soldiers, the best our country has to offer, often in harm's way each and every day. I know that it might get a bit discouraging sometimes, sending letters and emails and packages into the "big black hole of Afghanistan and Iraq" and you must wonder sometimes if you are making a difference. Well that is why I am writing tell you that you are!

Our soldiers...most importantly, YOUR soldiers, are doing unbelievably stressful and dangerous work. The average soldier in my Brigade lives and works out of a remote Combat Outpost. This can sometimes mean sleeping in the dirt, sleeping when they can in between incoming rocket and mortar attacks. They normally go weeks without a shower (thank goodness for baby wipes!), eat cold chow, with few phones or Internet being available. We are in the midst of the "summer fighting season" which means that we are engaged in numerous firefights and IED strikes every single day. When you go "outside" the wire you are always tense and high-strung, searching for that command wire of an IED, meeting village elders as you immerse yourself in a totally foreign culture that you neither fully understand or are part of, and are often viewed with deep suspicion and frowns. There are indeed rewarding moments where you smile; children in particular have the unique ability to bring a smile to the face of the gruffest soldier, but you never let down your guard. When your armored security vehicle rolls back through the relative safety of the gate after days on patrol where you perhaps carried a 100 pound pack on a mountain at 10,000 feet it is sometimes all you can do to stumble to your sleeping bag for some much-needed rest.

So where do you come in? You, quite simply, are there to greet us with love and support when we stumble back through the gate.

Mail has always been cherished by soldiers in a war zone for as long as there has been the written word. It's hard to describe what it's like when those magical words of, "hey, the mail is in!" is excitedly passed from soldier to soldier. The atmosphere instantly lightens and smiles appear on the tired faces of soldiers who look 10 years older than their age. The closest I can describe it as is that it's akin to Christmas morning. The toughest soldier takes his box or letter from a loved one or a Soldiers' Angel and does his best not to grin like a 10-year-old getting that new bike from Santa, retreating to someplace quiet to open his mail. That's an unspoken rule for soldiers....unless 10,000 Taliban are about to storm the gates or a nuclear bomb is about to vaporize the entire countryside, you DON'T disturb a soldier when he or she is opening up their mail! It may be behind the guard tower or in their sleeping bag by the light of a red-lens flashlight, but a soldier opening his mail is a very intimate and private moment, one to be cherished.

What do you all bring to us over here? A slice of home. You may think that you don't have much to offer in your letters that often go unanswered. You may feel you are rambling on about the weather or about how you find cemeteries a peaceful place or who just won "American Idol." But to a soldier in a combat zone? That is life. That is normalcy. That is what we have to look forward to when our duty here is done. When you write these letters, even though they may go unanswered, you need to know that every letter that you seal and put into the mailbox will cause a tremendous smile on the other end.

On behalf of all of us soldiers over here I want to thank you for what you do. With the lack of Internet access, limited time, and plain old exhaustion, most of your letters and emails often go unanswered. Please know, however, that they are deeply appreciated. You are doing your own part in all of are showing your support. And that is what a soldier needs...knowing that he is not forgotten, that his efforts are appreciated, and that many, many people back home are thinking about and praying for them. Thank you so very much for what you do.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Soldier Update & Other Misc Stuff

So, it has been 5 weeks since Kyle left for Basic training at Ft Benning, GA.  It's been an adjustment for me - living the single life, but, I have adjusted pretty well I think.  It was pretty dang hard the first couple of weeks with an empty house, without his presence here, but as the weeks went by, I found myself not dreading to come home to the empty house anymore.  It's actually quite nice to come home to a clean house, to a kitchen sink that's not full of dirty dishes, to a stove that's clean, to a house full of testosterone filled teenagers. :)

Of course, I do miss Kyle, very much.  But, at some point in our lives, our children have to leave (the nest) and become the young adults which we used to be (I'm almost as old as dirt now).   He's is own man now and will have to make his own decisions pertaining to his future.  I am confident I raised him well and that he will make sound & wise choices throughout this period and in the future.

I didn't get many letters for the first 4 weeks he was gone.  A couple the first week or two letting me know that he'd arrived at Ft Benning safely and some of the stuff that was going on while he was in the 30th AG Reception.  He was there from February 2 through Feb 8.  Mostly, it was a lot of Hurry Up and Wait while there, a bit boring just doing paper work, getting shots & hair cut.  He got to call and talk to me during that time once, basically to let me know he was there and everything was fine.

I heard from him next (letter) a week later on February 16.  I would come home from work and go straight to the mailbox.  No letter.  Next day - check again.  No letter.  It became very discouraging - I had no idea what was going on down there, why he wasn't writing me.  Unbeknown to me, he was selected to serve as a squad leader in his platoon.  Being a squad leader just took up a lot of his time, so much so, that he said he had 10-15min in the evenings of personal time....just not enough to sit down and write everyone.  Every time someone messed up, he had to do push ups.  Now, he's a "nobody" and likes that so much better! :)

He was a pretty good squad leader - of course I knew this because it was the way he was here at home.  At the end of each phase (Red, White, Blue) they have to choose another squad leader so that others get the opportunity for leadership.  His squad didn't want him to not be their leader because he was very good.  Because his squad was ran so well, it earned the squad 20 minute phone calls this past Sunday.  :)  He spread the 20 minutes around to different family members and a few friends.  Now that they have moved on to the White phase, they should be getting more phone time.  *crosses fingers*

What all has he done??  He's received his M16 and initially thought it would be great, but once he realized that he had to take it everywhere with him and if left unsecured they are punished.  Punished by having to hold it by the front sight and charging handle with just his thumb & forefinger, arms outstretched!  I bet it didn't take but once for him to make sure it was always with him & secure!  They've rapelled down a 50-60 tower - loads of fun, but painful due to the rope wrapped super tight on his butt & groin.

Gas chamber - in with masks on, take them off, recite last name & last 4 SS, put mask back on, take back off, put helmet on and then outside.  Lots of coughing and tons of snot! :D  They've done confidence/obsticle courses, land navigation, spent the night outside a couple times.  Plenty of time at the range zeroing/sighting their weapons, live fire practice, learning how to clear rooms, how to identify IED's, and combative fighting techniques.  With the identification of IED's (claymores), if they failed to find one & let the instructor know (i.e. someone stepped on one) - it went off and that person was covered with a coating of baby powder!

I knew he would be hungry between meals too!!  He ate a lot here while at home and now, it's just 3 meals a day.  He gets 7 minutes to shovel the food in, but says that he's still hungry.  He's missing Bojangle's and candy.  Sounds like they're feeding the guys well too.  I'm sure if there is something on his tray that he hasn't tried before or didn't really like before, that he will eat it now!!!  I think we will be taking him somewhere to eat where he can just pig out!  He'll probably be sick afterwards cause he won't be used to eating such a large amount of food, nor will he be used to the spices/seasonings that will come on the food.  Oh well, he deserves it!

Wow...there is just so much in these last couple of letters...5 pages (front/back) to me, 3 to his Dad & ex-stepDad....and each one talks about different things!  He's done pretty good with the PT stuff, but has to work on the sit ups he says.  He was doing them differently here and they are harder in Basic.  He works on those every night before going to bed, doing anywhere from 25 to 40 sit ups.  He also did well at the 2 mile run - 14:18min and was 20/240 guys!

That's about all - he talks about the weather down there - how one day it can be really nice and the next it just sucks.  He's very tired of the cold, having numb hands/fingers & feet.  They were out one night and when they went to sleep it was nice, but by 2am, it was cold/pouring rain, 40mph winds and the DSs got everyone up and sent them back to the barracks.

Things Kyle misses right now: Bojangle's Biscuits & Gravy, Fried Chicken & french fries; a medium steak and candy (as far as food).  The thing he misses the most is sleeping in on Saturdays.  He has to be up at 4:15am every day and then in bed by 9pm.  They get 6-9pm as personal time too.  This next one is just too damn funny!!!!  He misses the WOMEN!!!!  He says he really misses looking and checking out all the hot girls!  All he has to look at are the lunch ladies and the ocassional DS's wife.  He said that he's already looking at women that a year ago he would've never even looked at!  OMG...I think it's just so funny to hear my son talking that way. :)  "In a couple more weeks, if things don't change, I'm going to be turned on by ugly lunch ladies".  LOL.

That's pretty much it for now.  Hopefully, I'll get another letter in the mail for me this week.  I've been mailing Kyle pretty regularly, at least every other day.  He has to do 20 push ups for each piece of mail he gets.  I wonder if he has to do extra push ups for the stickers I've been putting on the outside of the envelopes??  :D  Oh yea, his birthday is this coming Saturday and I just could not resist getting a musical card for him.  Two cards actually.  /evil grin/  (don't worry - Kyle has always been the clown & can take it as well as dish it out, so he'll be ok with the cards).  He will have to get up in front of the platoon and do the Chicken Dance and sing That Smell (Lynyrd Skynyrd).  I'll try to keep this Soldier-In-Training updated as I receive letters.  This one is so long because I've received 4 or 5 letters of length the past couple of days....


Now for me....since getting injured in December, the sucky weather in January & February, I have not ridden but 3 or 4 times.  Totally have lost all fitness in my legs/butt/lungs for cycling and I'm trying to build it back up slowly.  I have a ride coming up April 10 and possibly one April 11 (not sure if I'll attempt both) and both are climbing rides.  I have to get my ass in gear & train for not only those, but the main one - Assault on Mt Mitchell.  So, while visiting the bf in Greenville, SC this past weekend, I thought I would attempt a 60 mile ride with a climb up/down/up/down Paris Mountain.  Boy, was I stupid!

60 miles my ass.  That's legs are in no shape for climbing, so I abandoned that idea and instead opted for a plain ole 2hr ride.  My butt and legs were so sore afterwards and the following day, it was hard to sit, get up, and even walk!  But, I rode on Tuesday for an hour and will hit the trainer shortly tonight.  I'm hoping that a week or two of easy riding then start on the intervals towards the last of March.  I think I can be ready for AoMM.  I sure as hell hope so.

Pretty much it for this post..........:)