Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"Women's Issues" are Everyone's Issues

I am not an outwardly political discussion type person. I tend to hold my beliefs close and share them only with those that are close to me. I sit back and read and research the things that are presented to me. I think about the people and situations surrounding the issues. I try to put myself in their shoes. I try to be empathetic. I don't appreciate the attacks that I witness on both ends of the spectrum. I don't appreciate the hateful posts and outright lies that the internet spreads like wildfire. I don't appreciate that people cannot simply respect the beliefs of others without believing that their rights are violated simply because someone believes differently than they do. I support all women in whatever fight they are fighting. I support young women, old women, single women, married women, impoverished women, transgender women, ALL women. When we live in a world that values and respects women, everyone benefits.

The Women's March was about women-all women everywhere
I am so tired of the rhetoric surrounding this march that the women who participate were whiny, privileged little girls who had nothing to protest. I am tired of people stating that women DO have equal rights (in many areas we do but it's not like we've had them for very long and people are trying to make sure that it stays that way). We live in a country where the wage gap between males and females has been proven time and time again. In our country there are women who are overlooked for employment because they plan to have children. There are people who see no problem with this and yet we are supposed to believe we have equal rights? There are people who talk of women needing to serve their men, stay in the kitchen where they belong, care for the children and provide for the family while also working full time. These same people do not hold men to the same standard. If that isn't gender inequality, I don't know what is. But the thing is...the Women's March was about so much more than that. It was not just about the women in each community, each state, each country where the march took place. It was about women who are oppressed across the globe. It was about women who are forced into abusive relationships. Women who are kept around simply to have children. Women who endure gender mutilation. Women who are silenced. Women who are sold into sex trafficking. Women who are denied an education. Women who are forced into marriages at a young age. Women who are treated like second class citizens. Female children are dying at dramatically higher rates in certain parts of the world because they are denied basic necessities at greater rates than male children. Women are treated as disposable. Women are born into these lives-they don't choose them and many of them die before they are old enough to fight for a change. We are lucky that we were not born into those lives. We owe it to our foreign sisters to be their voice for change. That is what many women were marching about and that is a cause I can stand behind.
I am also sick of hearing people say that they cannot support the march because some of the women were acting out in inappropriate ways. They were vulgar and rude. Here's the thing, I had friends and family participating in the march across the United States in at least 10 different locations and I heard wonderful stories of the support and friendship that they felt together with these other women coming together to globally support women. (I also heard similar things from the men that I know that participated.) People need to stop judging this gigantic march by the actions of a few. I don't judge all men or all presidents by the words and actions of Donald Trump. That would just be absurd. Stop generalizing.

The media does not divide us-we divide ourselves.
People like to make the media the bad guy but forget that we have a choice to research and fact check the information that we are presented with. WE choose how to feel and act based upon this information. So many people think that the freedoms offered to them in our country means that they can simply live in their own little bubble and stand at the edge of it criticizing and putting others down for refusing to be in their bubble of belief. They think they can simply pick and choose what "alternative facts" they think support their beliefs and tell people that they must feel the same way when presented with these facts. Because we have freedom of speech, does not mean that we should use it to spread hate. Freedom of speech does not mean that we can tell others to stay silent as we shout above them our own message from our own bubble. Freedom of speech is not freedom to be a jerk without consequence.

You don't get to decide other people's personal beliefs-they do
You can be pro-choice. You can be pro-life. You cannot tell someone else that they must change their beliefs to match yours. You are welcome to give your reasons for your beliefs just as much as they are welcome to give their reasons for their beliefs (both sides-stay away from fallacies). You cannot, however, decide what they must believe.
For myself, I am pro-life. I could not choose abortion for myself. For others, I respect their right to have a choice. I am thankful that I have never been in a situation where I was scared for my future and the future of my family. I have never been a victim of sexual assault, I have never been raped, I have never been molested, I have never been forced into an incestuous relationship, I have never been forced into sex trafficking. I am fortunate. So many women are not. To tell women in these situations that you get to say what they can and can't do when their bodies have been abused and their mental state is in disarray is pure insanity to me. Women in these situations need our support and our comfort not our judgement and our personal beliefs shoved down their throats. I am against legislation that puts men in suits in control of the bodies of female victims. I am against telling these women that they MUST continue a pregnancy created through a criminal act. I am for giving them options. I am for THEM deciding what happens in these situations because they have already been through more than enough. I am against forcing them to continue a pregnancy that very well could end their life. Roughly every 9.5 days, 21 mothers die in childbirth in the United States (numbers are much higher in other places across the globe). Are the people legislating the victim's uterus willing to accept responsibility for the death of this woman? Is her attacker now going to be charged with murder? I think not. Have you even seen the "consequences" dished out to these men that commit violent crimes against women (if they suffer any consequences at all)? A man can alter a woman's life forever, be found guilty, and get away with as little as a few month in jail.
Now, I also understand that not all women in the situation are victims of sexual crimes. So many people in poverty have trouble getting out of the cycle of poverty for many reasons. One of those reasons is a repetitive cycle of unplanned pregnancies. In the past few years, we have made progress in this area by providing contraception free of charge. Abortion rates have dropped to a lower rate than they were back in 1973 when the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision was made. Unfortunately, some people who are against abortion are also against providing these women in poverty with the birth control that can help lift them out of the cycle. They are against women trying to prevent the very pregnancies that people judge them for in the end. Then, when these women don't prevent the pregnancy (because they cannot afford birth control) and don't get an abortion (because people say the woman does not get to make decisions about her body), and people complain that they "have too many kids that they can't afford" and are "living off OUR tax dollars." They are abusing the system! Wait...what? They aren't abusing anything-they are stuck in a cycle that they can't seem to escape.
We like to pretend that the only reason people engage in sex is to create a child and yet, behind closed doors, we know that this is a lie. People pretend that they do not engage in sexual contact for pleasure but the truth is-sex is good for you. In study after study it has been proven that sex provides stress relief, heart health, hormone regulation, better sleep, and an improved immune system just to name a few things! We tell people in poverty without access to birth control that it is SO simple: don't have sex! Forget the benefits listed above-you know because people living in poverty are never stressed and are incredibly healthy (sarcasm intended). Unless you plan to feed, clothe, and financially support the child that you are forcing a woman to have, you don't get to judge them and tell them what to do. Where are the torches and pitchforks when the men walk away from these women and leave them without support? Why is it not okay for a woman to have an abortion but no one bats an eye at the man who also made the child? Why is the woman the only one called out and criticized? It takes two to tango my friends! Why are men not held to the same standards and criticism for unintended pregnancies? Because this gender inequality exists. As much as children are an amazing and wonderful gift, the truth is that they can be a financial burden-especially to people already in poverty. The average cost of raising a child from birth to 17 is over $200,000. It's no wonder people can't seem to climb out of poverty.

No one HAS to support the person who holds the position of the presidency in our country
I will argue that we should show the president the same respect that he or she shows toward the citizens. I do, personally, have a problem with the things that our current president has said to and about women but that does not mean that I have anything against the people who do choose to support him. No one should be saying that any president should be assassinated. No one should EVER be criticizing the young children of the person holding the office. But people SHOULD be holding our leader accountable for their actions. We live in a country with checks and balances for a reason. Our political leaders should be fact checked. Their interests and motives should be investigated. Critics should not be silenced simply because their ideas are in opposition to the person who holds the office of the presidency. On the other end of the spectrum, those who agree with the president have just as much of a right to voice their support. All parties on both sides need to tone down the hate speech and get rid of the Us vs. Them rhetoric. Quit finger pointing. Quit telling people to "accept it." Quit pretending that every president in the history of our country was always welcomed with open arms. Be open to facts. Don't be a troll. Read the information presented to you before jumping to conclusions or jumping down someone throat. Read more than headlines. Research. Fact check. Don't rely on heavily biased sources for information. Check multiple sources. Don't spread false information. Apologize when you are wrong. Not only will you feel better for being a decent human being, the people around you will appreciate your respect as well.

Even if you disagree with my beliefs, I hope we can agree on this: 
Your words matter. Your tone matters. Your phrasing matters. Your words are powerful. 
Be kind. Use them for good.
You won't regret it.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Photo Fun

I have been spending the week playing with my new camera. I wish I had taken it on my Tuesday morning ride. I did get some nice photos with my phone though. Yesterday's ride I almost hit 6 1/4 miles. I love when it is a bit cooler out but I wish I had remembered to bring my water bottle. I decided to skip the top of the bridge knowing I didn't have it. This morning I made sure to grab it before heading out the door. I took a different route than usual to completely avoid sprinklers and protect the camera. I went up the South Dakota side of the bridge and there were a few people headed up as well which motivated me to charge up with a but more gusto than usual. I wanted to charge up all the way to the top instead of my usual good effort start and then panting and inching forward after making it half way up. My legs felt like spaghetti when I made it to the top but I was damn proud of myself! Even with the different route, I still rode over 6 miles and distance wasn't even my goal today.
Rain in front of the sun on my way home

Favorite shot from Tuesday morning

Rain in the distance

Here are some random photos from the new camera. I can't wait to take some more time to learn the features and play with different settings. I really like the 50mm lens that I bought, it takes some nice lower light photos.

This is my favorite photo with the new camera so far!

Trying out some flower shots

Morning ride

Top of the bridge facing Nebraska

Discovery Bridge

Monday, June 27, 2016

If You See Something, Say Something

This line was used at the wellness conference attended and it was never more relevant to me than it was yesterday as I drove to Sioux City.
I had an open Sunday so I decided to visit some friends in Sioux City. I also had some Kohl's Cash and a need for some more shorts for myself and a rash guard for Cyver. Cyver and I rolled out of town around 11:45 with a bin of clothes an full water bottles. He was asleep shortly after we hit the road and I had some nice mellow tunes playing from my iPod. As we neared Meckling, I noticed a black compact car in my rear view mirror. As it got closer to me, I saw it travel over the yellow line a couple times. I also realized that it was soon going to be passing me which made me a little uneasy. The car passed me as I slowed down for the change of speed for Meckling and I felt relieved that it was past me. That only lasted a little while as I watched it weave across the opposite yellow line, across the dashed white line, drive down the center of the two lane road for sometimes 20 seconds at a time before weaving back into the other lane. Watching this kind of driving made my heart race. I told myself that I had to do something, but what was I supposed to do? I thought the police should be aware of this reckless driver but I obviously don't have the number for the Vermillion Police Department in my phone. Dialing 911 seemed extreme but, as I watched the car bounce and weave down the road, it seemed like more of an emergency with each passing second. I grabbed my phone and dialed 911 and told myself-if it happens one more time, I'm calling. It did. I repeated-just one more time. It happened again so I hit the green button my phone. I had no idea what to expect but a very kind operator answered and took all the info I could provide. They wanted the plate number but I explained that I didn't feel as if I could safely get close enough to read the plate (I tried and they were weaving too much that I worried they would wreck and I didn't want to be close to that). I continued on my route toward Vermillion constantly updating where I was as they dispatched an  officer to the area. Passing through Vermillion I watched them continue to cross the lines even as traffic grew a but heavier. Finally, they turned off by Walmart which I told the operator. I then saw an officer headed in that direction and hung up with the operator as I had given them all the info that I had. In my head the thoughts of-please don't let them hit someone continued as I drove down the road.
I have to say that I really didn't want to make that call. I could have easily just said-thank goodness they are by me, nothing more to worry about. I tried to tell myself that but it kept coming back-what if they hit someone else, and I could have stopped it with one phone call? How many other drivers saw her behavior and were just happy she didn't hit them? What if she caused an accident that killed someone? Those thoughts are why I called and they are the reason you should call too if you witness something similar. I think we are all guilty of crossing a line at one time or another but this was different and I knew it-you will too. PLEASE don't just let these people continue down the road where they might hit and hurt someone! Make a call-you won't regret it.
About 20 minutes after I hung up, I received a call from the Vermillion Police Department. The very kind officer thanked me for calling and reporting the driver. He told me that he was able to locate the car and stop the woman. She had been on the road for over an hour and saw that she had several text messages so she decided to respond to them while traveling down the highway at over 70 miles per hour. She thought those messages were more important than my life, my son's life, her life, and the lives of all those she was sharing the road with. She more than deserves the $100 ticket she was issued. The officer did say that she was very upfront and honest about what she was doing. He said that he informed her that her driving behavior while she was texting was consistent with that of someone who was driving while intoxicated. He said she seemed pretty surprised by this. This should be no surprise to anyone. The info is out there, we see these accidents in the news. People need to stop thinking it won't happen to them.
Put down your phone and drive to your destination safely. Want to read or respond to a text? PULL OVER. If you have other passengers in the car, have them read and respond to your messages for you. My husband and I do this all the time. I even have my 11 year old read and respond to messages for me. I also have students read and respond to messages while I am on trips for interp. There is NO message worth your life or mine. Period.
I am a person that many people would refer to as a "carseat crazy" because I am passionate about keeping my kids safe while in the car. My 7 year old just graduated to a booster in November. My 3 year old is still rear facing. None of this is because I think I am a bad driver. I do it because there are people like this woman on the road EVERY DAY! Their first line cross or dramatic swerve might be right into your vehicle. I could not live with myself knowing that I could have done something to protect my kids and didn't even if the accident wasn't my fault. If you feel like you could be better informed about carseat safety there are plenty of resources available to you. Here are a couple of the best ones I know:
Carseats For the Littles
The Carseat Lady

On a lighter note, Happy Monday:

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Super Sprinkler Sunday

I rode on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday this past week even though I haven't been blogging. I was completely exhausted on Monday from being in the heat all weekend working at the local swim meet. Consequently, I had major trouble getting my butt out of bed! I felt guilty for missing my morning ride, so I rode bikes with Camden in the evening to get him to baseball practice. For part of the time that he was practicing, I rode my bike around the park and on the streets around the park. It may not have been much (only 2.32 miles), but it was certainly better than nothing! I skipped the top of the bridge on Thursday and Friday because my knee was hurting, and climbing to the top deck of the bridge puts a lot of pressure on my knees.  I skipped Saturday because I already had to get up at 5:30 to get everyone up and ready to go to a swim meet in South Sioux City. This morning the cool air was amazing; I'm so glad I didn't skip my ride! The only down side was that I was a bit of a slow mover and didn't get out the door until 5:45. As a result, I hit sprinkler city at the park. I ended up riding through 8 sprinklers! That doesn't count the ones that just showered my shoes. I was happy that my knee was feeling better so I figured that I could tackle the top of the bridge which I did with ease. I rode a total of 6.18 miles which is my longest ride so far. I continue to average right around 10 miles per hour. I snapped some pretty nice pics over the past week. Enjoy:

I like to call this one "Moon Over the Meridian"

While this has nothing to do with fitness, I am super excited to be getting a new camera on Monday! We ordered the Canon 70D which should be the last camera we need to buy. I am so excited to get it and play around with taking some shots on my bike rides. I will just have to make sure I go early enough that the sprinklers aren't on ;) I am excited to see what types of pictures I can get with something other than my phone!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Adopting a Healthy View

I had a lovely ride this morning (other than getting doused by several sprinklers). My ride was just over 5 1/2 miles long, and I completed it in about the same amount of time as yesterday's ride. It was nice and cool and the sunrise was beautiful.

Today I figured I would write a little about something that a lot of people notice about me but few people understand. If you know me, you know I am not miss fashionista. In fact, I am very far from it. Do I like to dress up on occasion? Sure. Do I do it on a daily basis? Nope! I was thinking about this the other day and kind of contemplating why I have never cared much about appearances. I really think it is connected to three things: 1. I have always been a bit of a tomboy, 2. I grew up around someone who dressed up primarily to attract men's attention, 3. I am comfortable in my own skin.

Tomboyish Ways
I grew up fighting against dressing up with kicks and screams. I wanted my overalls and T-shirts. Period. As a kid growing up on a small farm, I loved getting dirty-I lived for it. Sliding down ivy covered hills, wading through the creek, chasing animals, climbing trees-all of these things were much better in jeans than in a dress. I was the last girl my age interested in shaving my legs or putting on makeup. I only did both of these things because other girls pointed them out to me-not because I felt like I really needed to. Now, I am a momma to three crazy boys, and it is a dirty job! I do love a good comfy dress, but Cyver also likes to wipe his messy face on me or pull on dresses to climb into my lap. T-shirts and jeans just hold up to the abuse of three boys better! I was born to be a boy mom.

Seeing What It Gets
I grew up with a negative parental influence. I didn't have a motherly mother. I think that has a lot to do with my attitude toward most things "girly." It's something about my life that I cannot change. It is certainly something that changed me. I sat by and watched day after day of make up and "dressing up," and I saw who it brought in the door. I never wanted that for myself. I feel like that influence is always in the back of my mind. Dressing up everyday feels fake to me. Does that mean I think everyone who dresses up is fake? Heck no! There are tons of people who love to dress up and fix their makeup and hair daily. It makes them happy and makes them feel good. Who am I to judge them for that? What I am saying is that it feels fake for me. My looks and my clothes are not who I am. They are just the things that people immediately see when they look at me. Is it fun to get gussied up to go out with my husband or have a night out with my friends? Sure-but my goal in life is not to attract the attention of others. I do my best to look professional for my job, and that's enough for me.

Happy Being Me
I feel as if I am a very content person. I also possess a decent amount of self-confidence. Both of these things helped my avoid possible negative body image issues growing up. I tend to believe the good things that people say to me and ignore the mean/rude/demeaning. When I was called fat as a teenager (who weighed 98 pounds at the same height that I currently am), I simply ignored the message. I knew I wasn't fat-I was confident about that fact (truth be told I was underweight from lack of available food). I also felt no desire to "prove" that I wasn't fat by wearing skimpy clothes that showed off my figure. What did it really matter to me if someone else thought I was fat? The answer was that it did not matter to me. Their idea of who I was simply wasn't who I knew I was, so I didn't listen to it. Currently, while I am not content with being overweight, I am content with the actions that I am taking to lose the weight. I am content with my progress. I don't feel the need to start taking some pill, to buy a bunch of fake food, to start some extreme fitness routine that makes me want to die, or to slather "all natural" products on my body and saran wrap myself. I'm good-I've got this healthier eating choices and more exercise plan that works just fine. It takes time and that's ok. I didn't gain the weight in a day, I shouldn't expect it to fall off that quickly. I don't need gimmicks, I need self-confidence.
I guess in my mind there are so many other things that are important to me and there just isn't room for fashion on that list. I like comfort and functionality-If I can affordably find those things in a fashionable outfit-great! If not-all well-I opt for comfort. I relish summer when I can wear sports bras, shorts, and t-shirts daily. These are the clothes that I feel most comfortable in and do not hesitate to be active in. Let's face it, if I really want to get fit, I need to be in the clothes that I feel comfortable going for an impromptu walk or bike ride with the kids. Things I am much less likely to do if it requires an outfit change.
One of the best things I have going for me is a healthy attitude. This is something that a lot of people seem to be lacking. I don't look in the mirror and shame myself-I don't tell myself that I am fat or disgusting. I tell myself that I gave birth to three awesome little boys and I have some work to do but that work does not make me less of a person. It doesn't mean that I have to hate myself or my body. How my body looks does not define who I am.  Our bodies are like fingerprints-no two are exactly alike. This isn't something we should put each other down for. We should embrace the diversity. Be ok with who you are, with your body, with what you wear. If you aren't ok with yourself you are more likely to treat others poorly. If shaming other people for their weight is something that makes you feel better about yourself, you need to take a step back and ask yourself why. There are things that ALL of us need to do better. Who are you to judge someone else for their weight just because the thing they need to work on happens to be visible to the whole world? We need to love and support one another. We need to be confident in ourselves. We need to embrace the diversity of our world. We need to think positively and know that we can make the changes in our life that need to be made.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Rumbling Monday and App-y Wednesday

I was able to go for my ride on Monday, but I was unable to blog because I had to get ready for my second class of the summer. After a very lazy weekend, it was nice to get on the bike. I was worried that predicted storms would prevent me from going, but I awoke to lightning far off in the distance. It was sprinkling lightly and a check of the radar showed there wasn't much more headed my way in the near future. I enjoyed the cooler temperatures compared to my last ride on Friday. I was also able to get some pretty amazing photographs of the storm front that moved through before my ride.

After a lazy weekend, the top of that bridge was a tough one! I didn't want to do it but I knew that I could if I just pushed myself a little harder.
I didn't end up riding my bike on Tuesday, and I realized that it contributed to me feeling more stressed and overwhelmed by the day ahead. My early morning rides really do relax me (which sounds strange because I am working out LOL), and they give me a chance to have some quiet time for myself. This is even more important on days when I am lucky if I spend more than a couple of my awake hours at home. Monday and Tuesday were both very similar in terms of how much time I got to spend at home and how much running around I had to do, but Monday was much less stressful for me because I got to go for my morning ride. If I run into a morning where my bed feels just too comfortable to leave, I am going to try to remember that!
All this time I have simply been estimating the total distance of my ride. My husband has a little computer on his bike that tells him his speed and distance. I did not get this same computer for my bike so I just figured-it's six blocks from my house to the trail-take that times two and that is about one mile. I know the total distance across the top and bottom of the bridge is one mile and everything in between I figured to be about three miles total. On Monday I had a wonderful thought...I bet there is an app for that! I always take my phone with me on my ride for snapping pictures, so why not use it to record my distance? After my ride on Monday, I sat down and browsed the Google Play store. I found an app called MapMyRide. I installed it and tried it out this morning (a few blocks into my ride because I forgot about it!). It uses GPS to track my distance and it records the total time of my ride and uses these two pieces of information to calculate an average speed. The speed calculations don't take my stops to take pictures into consideration, but it could if I just paused it while I took photos (I just don't care enough to take the time to do it). I will run the app again tomorrow morning so I can get a completely accurate distance BUT I am happy to say that I am pretty good at estimating because my ride this morning was about 5 1/4 miles long.

I am really happy with the app-it audibly updates me every mile-telling me the distance I am at and what my average speed is. When I am done, it gives me this little screen with a summary of my ride. This did make me laugh a bit...anyone want to guess what mile I hit my challenging ride to the top of the bridge? All in all, it was a nice morning ride with another beautiful sunrise :o)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Self-Confident Friday

The past couple of days have been very busy! I attended the Yankton Area Mental Wellness Conference at Mount Marty on Wednesday and Thursday, and my husband was out of town for work. Because it was just me and the littles (Cohan is working with Grandpa), I had to skip my ride yesterday morning. I was right back at it this morning-although I was a bit slow to get going because I didn't set my stuff out before I went to bed last night!
A big difference from my prior two rides to today-heat! Both Tuesday and Wednesday were nice and cool-I wore sweatpants and a hoodie-today was 80 degrees when I set out to hit the trail at 5:40! This prompted a quick change of clothes before I headed out the door. Thankfully, once the breeze hit my face, I didn't think about the temperature for the rest of the ride.
One of the lovely parts of my early ride that I had forgotten about was waiting for me when I got to the park this morning:

I don't think I would have minded the sprinklers except for the fact that I had my phone and I would prefer not to get it wet-my old bike had a zippered bag on the front so it was a bit more protected than it is in my basket.
When I started my ride this morning, I was tired and it was 80 degrees so I gave myself permission to only ride on the lower part of the bridge (I did the same thing on Wednesday). I think I once said this in an earlier post, but I am going to say it again-always give yourself permission to shorten the END of your workout but not the beginning. If I cut or shorten the beginning of my ride, I can't go back in time and change my mind, but, if I tell myself I can shorten the END of my ride, I give myself time to change my mind. I was SURE I was going to cut the end of my ride short this morning until I crossed the bottom of the bridge. I convinced myself that I still had plenty in my tank and I could push myself to get up that long hill to get to the top. Actually, I did one better-I stopped half way up that slope to snap a picture that I wanted to take Tuesday and Wednesday. Both days I told myself that if I stopped I wouldn't be able to make it all the way up the slope. Today, I told myself that I could do it, and I did. This shot was totally worth the extra burn in my legs that it took for me to get going again:
I love the contrast of the dead tree silhouettes with the leafy living ones. I'm glad I finally stopped and got the shot. 
I have also been working on eating better and snacking less. I took some tomatoes and pea pods as snacks to the conference so I wouldn't eat as much junk. I did better on Wednesday than on Thursday but one day of better eating is better than no days. I'm just really trying to make myself more aware of what I am eating and how much. Small changes can gradually lead to big results!
Some other pics from my morning ride:

Camden had his first outdoor swim practice this morning so I took it as an opportunity to get another work out in. His practice was only supposed to be 45 minutes long and that seemed like a silly amount of time to drive home and come back. I took my water bottle and walked roughly 2 1/4 miles. Add that to my approximately 5 mile bike ride and I'd say my day is off to a very nice start!