Tag Archives: cateye


If your would like to donate to Liz’s Bike to Build at NBSS Fund, click here.

This past Wednesday my bicycle mission began at 9 a.m., a little late as I found out later in the day when I scrambled to get to my evening destination. My focus was clear and my goals included the following:

  1. Go to North Bennet Street School to take some shots of the school for the video I hope to have made for my fundraising ride.
  2. Try out Google Maps to see how well the app works in a pinch to get me from one known destination to another, and evaluate how much iphone juice it drinks in the process.
  3. Purchase a replacement for Miss CatEye (my odometer), and have that installed.
  4. Try out my new wireless  battery charger for my phone to see how long it takes to revive a dying phone and what the life expectancy is once revived.
  5. Use the directions from the first 20 miles of the ALS Ride to travel from Newton to Holliston and see how well I negotiate the roads when looking down at directions frequently.
  6. Test my map reading skills when bicycling home from Holliston to Quincy, using only my bicycle maps…and no electronic devices.
  7. Oh yeah, and bicycle 70 to 80 miles, making sure to be home by 5 so that I can get to my meeting at 6:00 p.m.

I accomplished goal #2 on my ride to North Bennet Street School. I walked out my door, entered my starting point and my destination into the Google Maps app, turned up the volume on my wireless speaker tucked into my small backpack, and let Miss Google direct me through Quincy, Dorchester, South Boston, and into the North End. I must admit it is a lot harder to hear Miss Google’s voice kindly instructing me on which turn to take when she has to compete with the wind vibrating through my ear drums, the symphony of horns blowing in city traffic, sirens bellowing from every direction, and angry Boston drivers greeting each other with their version of Boston Love, “Watch wheeahh ya goin ya mutha f*%#a.” Once I got onto Dorchester Avenue, affectionately known as “Dot Ave” around these parts, I was transported back to my bike messenger days in New York City. Unlike many of my recent distance rides, my forearms were not resting on the pads above my handlebars, and my arms were no longer stretched towards the aerobars in a relaxed manner. Instead, my hands were gripped firmly on the lower bend of the handle bars, ready to grab the brakes at a moment’s notice. My head was on a swivel taking in the cars and trucks on all sides of me, especially those who were driving close behind me and the cars parked on the side of the road whose doors swing open into traffic spontaneously. I wasn’t calmly sitting back in the saddle taking in the picturesque scenery. I was on the edge of my seat dodging pot holes, sucking in the smog, ducking under side view mirrors of commercial vehicles, and avoiding pedestrians who unconsciously walk into traffic while staring mindlessly at their electronic devices. I have to admit I got a little charge from the “riskiness” of the whole experience. This thrill reminded me why I loved being a bike messenger so much; but by the end of the day I was thankful those days have passed after    1) hitting a side mirror with my backpack when squeezing between trucks, 2) going into a store praying my bike remains in its place with all its same parts when I come out, and 3) getting hit by a driver who cut me off because she “didn’t see any cars coming.”

I accomplished goal #1 by way of goal #2, and I arrived safely at North Bennet Street School about 40 minutes after leaving Quincy. Considering this is a fair amount quicker than it takes to travel via the T, I am considering a cycling commute to school while the weather is nice, providing I don’t have to carry a bunch of tools each day. I looked like a cross between a stalker and a tourist outside North Bennet Street taking photographs from multiple vantage points, mostly of the building and surrounding quaint North End neighborhood, but I must admit that I snuck in a few selfies as well. While inside NBSS, I reintroduced myself to the receptionist announcing that I will be returning in the fall. Like everyone I have met at NBSS so far, she seems to love the students and genuinely looks forward to their return come September. While waiting for the ladies room, a much sought after commodity for a cyclist on a long ride, I happened to see NBSS’s President Miguel Gomez-Ibanez, in the waiting room chatting with a visitor. I wanted to introduce myself, since we have communicated via email a couple times and he kindly made a donation to my fundraiser, but he was occupied by another conversation and I conveniently left my courage at home. Oh well, another opportunity will come soon enough because I am starting school in less than two months.

I accomplished objective # 3 at Back Bay Bicycles, which was located conveniently on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. The guys in the shop that day couldn’t have been nicer or more efficient. I walked out with a younger, slimmer, and wireless replacement for Miss CatEye in the form of the Sigma BC 16.12 STS CAD, and they had it on in about 20 minutes. It served me well the rest of the day because I could finally track my mileage, cadence, and speed again.

Because I had Miss Google Maps guiding me to NBSS, and I had taken pictures and video while there, I had used about 70% of my iphone battery by the time I went to Back Bay Bicycles, and I had most of my ride still ahead of me. Thankfully, I had recently bought the Phone Suit Elite Battery and Case in preparation for this exact problem. While waiting for Miss CatEye’s replacement, I hooked up the fully charged virgin battery….and SHAZAM…my iphone was slowly being revived. Goal # 4…CHECK!

Before leaving the bike shop, I made one last purchase, Rubel’s Boston’s Bikemap, which made it so much easier to find a direct path to Newton, as I was previously having difficulty reading the Boston streets on the Eastern Massachusetts Map. The embarrassing irony, is that I only needed to take one road from Back Bay Bicycles to Newton’s Boston College campus…Commonwealth Avenue…shameful to admit I didn’t know this, considering I grew up 30 minutes South of Boston.

Once I got to Newton, I used the step by step directions for the Ride to End ALS, which my partner Justine kindly found for me online. My plan is to use these directions for the bulk of my ride to NYC in August (from Newton, MA to Greenwich, CT), which will just leave me another 50 miles to map out in the beginning and end of my ride. I only used the directions for about 15 miles, but they worked like a charm. Goal # 5 accomplished.

After meeting my lovely fiancee for an impromptu lunch at Whole Foods in Wellesley, I studied my Eastern Massachusetts Road and Bicycle Map to find a route where I could cycle as many miles as possible for the next three hours but still be able to get home in time for my 6:00 meeting. I plotted out a path from Route 16 in Wellesley that took me through the beautiful towns of Natick and Sherborn, and then I turned onto Route 27 where I traveled through Medfield, Walpole, and Sharon; until I picked up Route 138 in Stoughton and cruised into Canton, where I jumped on my familiar Blue Hills path, which took me into Braintree before sliding into my hometown of Quincy. Smashed Goal #6 out of the park, and successfully navigated my way through numerous towns I had never cycled through before…and did it all without electronic devices.

Goal #7 was accomplished in the process of all the others, as I rode about 70 miles…exact amount uncertain because Mr. Sigma wasn’t put on my bike until I had already cycled 15 to 20 miles. I was making great time, the sun was shining brightly, birds were chirping, and the musical cyclist was in her glory…that is, until I was cut off and struck by a woman driving a Mazda sedan. It was startling, to say the least, as she cut a quick left into a driveway right in front of me, completely unaware that I was cruising down a hill and had no choice but to careen into her passenger side door because there was no time to stop. Now, three days later, I am grateful that I have been training so hard over the last few months because I believe it is helping this 40 year old body of mine recover from my abrupt meeting with Ms. Mazda’s right side.

Bad news: Bruised with a few minor scrapes, sprained and sore muscles, and a little frightened by how quickly life can change when drivers aren’t paying attention to what they are doing.

Good news: Alive and grateful that the accident wasn’t a lot worse. Made it to my meeting, albeit a little late, and accomplished all 7 of my goals for today!

Please be careful on the road, and watch out for cyclists!

These are the pics from today’s adventures….wound pictures not included :)

Tea Party boatsBoston Tea PartyNorth EndWater fountainBiking in front of NBSS110111092 094 095 096 097 098  100 102103105106120118      114 115State House    Arm pit shotSwan boats 2Public Gardens 2Swan boatsPublic Gardens waterPaul ReverePlantsCitgoCommonwealth AveWoodland Golf ClubWoodland Club HouseSherbornSherborn farmTractorMedfieldSharon   Canton

If your would like to donate to Liz’s Bike to Build at NBSS Fund, click here.


Picnic with Derek and Move Over Miss CatEye

 If your would like to donate to Liz’s Bike to Build at NBSS Fund, click here.

Dereks grave with me

I had lofty plans for an 80 mile ride Saturday July 5th, which was scheduled to start at 6 a.m. Having recently found an online map and pedal-by-pedal directions from Newton, MA to Greenwich, CT from the Ride to End ALS, I wanted to try out the directions and see whether I could make it to NYC with these directions and map alone. On Saturday I was planning on using my own bicycle maps to get from Quincy to Newton, and then using the ALS Ride directions to travel another 40 miles or so to see how I’d do following their directions. I figured if it worked out okay, this would allow me to save money and avoid buying a fancy shmancy Garmin GPS system. It would also give me the satisfaction of traveling to NYC the old-fashioned way…well sort of…that is, with the assistance of Google Maps when in pinch. Don’t get me wrong, I have applied for a Garmin Edge 1000 through the Garmin website, and am still hoping I can appeal to the sympathies of the corporate Garmin giants and get one donated.

Having checked the forecast numerous times the previous couple days knowing remnants of Hurricane Arthur were heading our way, it was expected that the clouds would clear shortly after sunrise,  just in time for me to hit the roads “OldYeller style.” Although I tucked in a wee bit late for a 5 a.m. rising, I dragged my soon-to-be spandex wearing behind out of bed and sleepily crawled to the front door to get a live weather update.  Much to my dismay, I saw that the clouds had not cleared, the temperature was in the high 50’s, and the rain was still coming down in drizzles. The ambitious part of my brain was urging me to suck it up, put on some warm clothes, bundle the speaker and cell phone up in a ziplock bag, and head out ASAP so I could still get the 80 miles in before I had to be back for my birthday date with my 15 year old niece Haley. The more rational and safety conscious part of my brain cautioned me to wait a couple of hours for the weather to clear because of the danger inherent in slick roads, overflowing street gutters, and big puddles. I’m not sure if it was the safety conscious part of me who won out or just the lazy part of me who wanted to sleep a couple more hours; but either way, I went back to bed for another hour or two. My final decision to go back and slumber was made once I remembered that Miss CatEye (my ailing odometer) still had not been fixed. Miss CatEye was an important part of Saturday’s ride because the directions I was experimenting with were laid out according to mileage, and it would be tough to follow along without Miss CatEye displaying my mileage.

Two hours later, I woke up feeling more refreshed, the clouds had parted ways enough to allow the sun to peak through, and Old Yeller’ and I set out on a 50 to 60 mile “Plan B ride” through lots of towns South of Boston. I didn’t need Miss CatEye because I used Google Maps to estimate how many miles away to my destination. I didn’t need a GPS or directions because I was quite familiar with the South Shore back roads and towns. My plan was to bike from Quincy to my brother Derek’s grave sight in Pembroke, and I did this by traveling through Quincy, Weymouth, Hingham, Norwell, Hanover, and Hanson before entering Pembroke. As I neared Mattakeesett Street in Pembroke, I turned my Spotify application to Lynyrd Skynyrd, Derek’s favorite band, and “Simple Man” began to pipe out of my back pocket through my JBL Wireless Speaker. The closer I got to the cemetery, the more tears started to fall, and the grief weighed me down like a heavy cloak. Although it has been more than 6 years and 7 months since my brother passed unexpectedly at age 37, the heart doesn’t always recognize time when it comes to healing from loss. When I reached my destination of Mount Pleasant Cemetery,  about 25 miles from home, I cycled across the lawn to my brother’s grave. I sat by his grave side, continued to play the songs he loved best, ate some lunch, and had myself a heart to heart with my big brother. I talked to him about all the changes that have taken place in my life since he left us; shared my longing to be able to turn to him with carpentry questions and also to talk with him about what I will learn in school; and I asked him for care, guidance and protection during my bike ride and during my studies at North Bennet Street School.  I left my picnic with Derek feeling grateful for the drizzling rain, the breakdown of Miss CatEye, and for Plan B rides because I was able to spend some quality time in reflection and connection.

After leaving Pembroke, I returned home a different route because I wanted to stop by and see my mom in Abington with some surprise Dairy Queen treats, cycling through Hanson, Whitman, Abington, Holbrook, and Braintree before reentering Quincy. The weather cooperated beautifully, as Arthur was dehydrated after the July 4th deluge.

As far as Miss CatEye, this story may be all too familiar for mature women. Unfortunately when I went to a local Quincy bike shop to assess the problem with Miss CatEye, I was told that her sensors seem to be working okay but the wiring is probably worn out because of age, loosened, and no longer functioning up to par. As a result, she will have to be replaced by a newer, slimmer, and more technologically savvy version of herself…and she will be discarded with no severance, alimony,nor even a warranty. Thank you for helping me through all those miles Miss CatEye. You’ll be missed!

Dereks grave

If your would like to donate to Liz’s Bike to Build at NBSS Fund, click here.




If you would like to donate to Liz’s Bike to Build Fund at NBSS, click here

My one yoga pose Ready Set Go Trying to be Haley Typical smile

Mother Nature could not have cooked up a better offering for the 100 riders and volunteers who participated in the 8th annual Ride for Habitat on June 21st. The weather was absolutely perfect, and the scenery along the coastline towns of Scituate, Cohasset, and Hull was exquisite. The ride started in Wompatuck State Park, and that is where about 25 riders who were doing the 50 mile route began at about 7:30 a.m. Once we exited Wompatuck in Hingham, we biked by the cows at Hornstra Farms and crossed into Norwell passing dozens of “non-affordable” but beautiful houses. Our first pass through Norwell was short because we headed directly towards Hanover, where we stopped to see one of the Habitat for Humanity homes being built. We were greeted by volunteers, some who served us fruit, snacks, and beverages, while others told us a little about their building progress. All in all, it was a poignant moment which captured the spirit of what this ride is all about.

Because there were not a lot of riders, I tried to stay close to a few that looked like they were riding at a good clip, but weren’t training for Tour de France trials. Overall, I was able to stay close to the lead pack of six or seven riders during the first couple of hours, that is, until my bike started getting a little attitude. Having one or more beacons ahead is very helpful during long rides like this because they serve as pace setters and they provide you with the inspiration to keep pedaling.  My beacon was in a yellow, orange and red Pan Mass Challenge shirt (pictured below). I figured I was doing okay if I was trailing close behind Mr. Yellow, Orange, and Red (YOR) because his shirt demonstrated his cycling stamina and prowess, having ridden the Pan Mass Challenge before. I kept within eye shot of Mr. YOR and crew for the first 30 miles or so, until my wheel decided it was time to negotiate the roads alone somewhere in Scituate. This is where the lessons from the road began…

My guide

My CATEYE Astrale 8 was doing its job for the last thousand miles or so before this ride, tracking my speed, cadence, miles per hour, etc. However, somewhere in my drive over to Wampatuck, the bike got shuffled around in the car and MISS CATEYE would only tell me the time. I could do without knowing my distance and speed, (even though I would miss the cheap thrill I get from seeing how fast I can go on the downhills), but I could not overcome MISS CATEYE’s wheel interference without an intervention. I noticed at the first pit stop that my wheel was rubbing against something, so I did a quick wheel adjustment and went on my way, still holding pace with others. Now, in a thickly settled area of Scituate with nobody around, my chain came off when down shifting too quickly; and when I put my wheel back on, it was chafing against the rubber barrier underneath one of MISS CATEYE’S SENSORS. In the fundraising rides I have done in the past, I was accustomed to a steady pack of volunteers driving in vans by the cyclists, catering to our every need. If we needed medical, sagging, or bike repair assistance, they would stop and help. As I looked at MISS CATEYE and my chain hanging off, I realized I was on my own. After getting my hands very greasy, the chain was back in business; and after using a sharp tool from my seatbag to cut away the rubber barrier, the wheel stopped rubbing and I was back on the road again…with Mr. YOR now hidden by the miles in between us.

In hindsight, I am very grateful for this first lesson from the road, which was: Have a basic toolkit to repair minor bicycle problems. It was no accident that I was separated from Mr. YOR and pack because these are exactly the situations I need to be prepared for when riding solo to NYC. I need to be able to handle quick bike emergencies (flat tires, fallen chains, rubbing break pads) like the wanna-be-bike tech that I am.

After jumping back on my bike, lesson #2 smacked me in the face because there were no beacons ahead to mindlessly follow while I took in the lovely scenic route. LESSON 2…Don’t rely on GPS technology because you may have no signal in rural areas, so use your Girls Scouts 101 map reading skillsI actually wasn’t a Girls Scout, but I can read maps. It became abundantly clear to me at this point that I have my work cut out for me in terms of mapping my route to New York City, especially because there will be no signs like these to follow:


As an adult who possesses a fair percentage of ADHD symptoms, I tend to love big challenges, I overestimate my ability to do tasks and underestimate the time the tasks will take, and I have “minor difficulty” with prioritizing tasks. So when the bolt of insight struck me three months ago, telling me to ride my bike 300 miles from Quincy to NYC as a fundraiser, I committed to this without hesitation…as easily as I would agree to taking my dog on a mile walk to Wollaston Beach. I didn’t think about the hundreds of hours I would need to train (cycling and weight lifting); how hard it would be to teach myself how to administer a blog or learn the ins and outs of Twitter; the time it would take to write dozens of fundraising letters, follow-up emails, Facebook status updates, thank you notes, blog posts, and tweets, and take way too many selfies; and/or exactly how I was going to safely map out every twist and turn along the 300 mile route through hundreds of New England cities and towns. I did not think about the supplies I would need, where I would stay, where I would stop for nourishment if needed, where the public restrooms are located, where the closest bike shops are if repairs are called for, and God forbid…where the nearest hospitals are located should injuries occur. No, when the bolt came, I welcomed it with open arms and thought only of the remarkable feelings of freedom, accomplishment, and connection with nature and with my bicycle, which I had felt many years ago when doing interstate bike rides.

Thankfully though, Miss CATEYE gave me problems and I was separated from Mr. YOR at about mile 30 because I had 20 more miles to think about all the lessons from the road, which had not been so glaringly obvious before. Now I am much better prepared for my ride…or at least I know how to prepare for my ride over the next 42 days. Happy Prioritizing!

And most thankfully, I have the best athletic supporter that anyone could ask for, who will be my volunteer crew in a Honda Accord…Thank you Justine!

Support team

More shots from the Ride for Habitat 2014:Helmet is on

Lovely poseHingham farmNorwell pond

Hanover house


tree farm too    tree farmCoastal Riding Scituate harbor Glorious day    Hull harbor boats Hull   Sailboats    Carnival in HullFishing at end of peninsulaSelfie

If you would like to donate to Liz’s Bike to Build Fund at NBSS, click here