My (Almost) First Group Bike Ride

So I was supposed to go on my first group bike ride with the Bicycle Planet cycle group last weekend. The night before, I anxiously prepared like a high school freshman getting ready for her first day of school. Backpack or no backpack? Fanny pack? Heavens, no! That screams, “Tourist!.” How many water bottles? Where will I put them anyway? I only have a cage for one water bottle. Sunglasses? Where’s the holder-thing that attaches the sunglasses around my neck so they won’t fall to the ground? So many things to consider.

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After figuring this all out, I got up at the insane hour of 6:30 a.m.. For someone like me who still sleeps until 10:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning, I may as well have gotten up at 4:00 a.m. At 7:15 a.m., I rode my bike to the Bicycle Planet store and waited. Slowly, I watched as the other riders convened, one by one. I observed how they methodically removed their bikes from the trunks of their cars, put a towel on the ground and reconnected their bike tires. I watched them carefully pump air into their deflated tires. I heard the clacketty-clack noise of their cycling shoes as they made their way to the meeting spot.  Awed at how professional this group looked, I was starting to rethink my decision to partake in this group ride. After all, I had only been on my bike once…. that morning, as I rode around the block, exactly one time before heading over to the store.

Finally, an official-looking cyclist opened up the bike store and said that anyone could come in if they needed anything. I walked in and waited as he dealt with two customers at the desk. He gave them bikes and fitted them for helmets. When he finished with the couple, I asked the man behind the desk if it will be a problem during this morning’s ride that I am a beginner road rider. I explained that this morning’s one mile ride from my house to the store was my first time on the bike. He said that usually, beginner riders do not have a problem because there is generally a slower group. However, this morning, a significant number of experienced riders will be on the ride.  He suggested that I ride instead with the two people who just picked up their bikes. He said that they, too, were beginner cyclists and were going on a less challenging, local ride.

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I was devastated, crushed. I was so psyched for my first group ride. I spoke to Morry Edelstein, the owner of Bicycle Planet, who confirmed that usually, there are a number of beginner riders. He said that when the weather gets warmer, more beginners will show up and I should come back to ride with the group. Enter Shveta and her husband, Raul. Avid spinners, this was their first time on road bikes as well. They welcomed me and together, we rode the paved bike path to Bethpage State Park. Along the way, we wound up getting lost trying to find where the path connects and Raul gave me a quick reminder lesson as to how to properly shift the gears.

As we rode up and down the rolling path, Shveta and I kept assuring each other that we really are in good shape, despite our howling about our searing quads.

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As we rode, Shveta and I talked about my husband, who loves to bike and how his back issue prevented him from participating in this ride. I said that my husband would get along well with Raul who kept pace about 50 feet ahead of us. At the end of an hour and a half, Raul estimated that we rode about 15-20 miles.

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Shveta and I exchanged telephone numbers, expecting to contact each other when we are ready to join the “regular” Sunday morning cycling group. We enjoyed the beautiful weather, got a rigorous workout, became familiar with our bikes and made new friends. Despite my immediate disappointment that I was not part of the Bicycle Planet cycling group, this smaller group proved to be an enjoyable venture. Sometimes things don’t always turn out as we planned….sometimes they are even better.

Hot Food and Nutrition Trends for 2014

What’s hot and trending in the food and nutrition world for 2014? Here are some trends that you won’t want to miss:

1) Clean eating- Clean eating is about eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seeds and nuts and less processed foods, sugar and salt. Whether you follow the Paleo diet, the Zone diet, Gluten-free diet, Weight Watchers or your own combination of what works for you- I am certain everyone can agree that processed foods should be eaten sparingly if not eliminated. Hence the increase in farmer’s markets and farm-to-table restaurants.

2) Cauliflower- This low calorie, vitamin-C rich vegetable is still expected to be popular in 2014. Whether eaten mashed like potatoes or seasoned and burnt in the oven, cauliflower will continue to be enjoyed by many.

3) Kale will continue to be juiced into smoothies, baked into chips or eaten in salads. One cup of chopped Kale has only 33 calories and contains significant amounts of calcium, vitamins A, C and K. Kale is also rich in the types of anti-oxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits.

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4) Coconut oil- rich in plant-based saturated fats will remain wildly popular among dietary fanatics and nutritionists- is used in cooking; slathered on skin and swished in the mouth for “cleansing purposes.” Coconut oil is better than butter and trans fats, however it is not as good as liquid vegetable oils like soybean, canola or olive oil, according to Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, Penn State University cardiovascular nutrition researcher.

5) The low-fat trend is weakening. Finally! Studies have shown that low-fat does not always lead to less body fat. As a result, the low-fat trend is fading as people are consuming more olive oil, avocados and bacon.

What particular superfood (food with supposed health benefits) do I like the best? Honey! Honey contains certain antioxidants which help reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease. Athletes claim that ingesting honey helps to maintain glycogen levels and improve recovery time more than other sweeteners. Honey contains simple sugars, yet it is not the same as white sugar or artificial sweeteners. The combination of fructose and glucose found in honey actually helps the body regulate blood sugar levels.  Additionally, honey helps to alleviate coughs and may help reduce ulcers and other gastrointestinal disorders.

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Simply stated, I love honey because it is sweet. My unparalleled sweet tooth consists of a constant yen for chocolate. As I continue my quest to eat cleaner and healthier, I try to substitute honey as a sweetener whenever possible.

I have included one of my favorite honey recipes. This delicious honey baked chicken recipe has only 6 ingredients and is so easy to make.

Baked Honey Chicken

Ingredients

1 three (3) pound whole chicken cut into pieces or 4-6 thick, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup butter or margarine- melted
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup mustard (I used deli mustard)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken in a shallow baking pan, skin side up if using a whole chicken. In a bowl, combine (with a spoon or whisk) the melted butter or margarine, honey, mustard, salt and cumin and pour the mixture over the chicken. Bake for 65-75 minutes, basting once after 15 minutes with the sauce in the pan. Bake until the chicken is browned on top and tender and the juices run clear when the chicken is cut open.

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Honey Mask for Dry Skin

1 teaspoon raw honey
1 teaspoon mashed avocado
1 teaspoon plain whole milk yogurt

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Spread the mixture on your face and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Wash off, carefully avoiding your eyes. The fats in the avocado and the yogurt will moisturize your skin. The lactic acid in the yogurt smooths your skin, stimulates collagen production and refines the pores.

Honey Mask For Sensitive Skin

2 teaspoons raw honey
1 teaspoon aloe vera gel

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and smooth on your face. Leave on for about 10-20 minutes, then wash off. The aloe soothes inflammation and rejuvenates sensitive skin.

Enjoy! And remember, “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” Translation: You will be more successful in life being sweeter or nice, rather than being mean or hurtful to people.