My Own Individual Time Trial on Father’s Day

Old Tree along the Old Road
The Old Tree Along the Old Road

Today I went riding on the Old Northern Highway (Lucky Strike Road) again. I really enjoy riding on this road. The surface is smooth and the traffic is light and there are all these curves and rollers that just make it fun to ride. So since I not to participate in the National ITT Masters Championship race today I decided to do my own ITT on the Lucky Strike Road. The Strava Lucky Strike Attack was my target. I was going for a personal record which was not in doubt but I wanted to go as hard as I could to make my next attempt a real challenge.

Super Sunday Morning Run – With a Dolphin ūüź¨ for a Running Partner

Have you ever seen a dolphin run?

Me neither but today I made history by becoming the first runner in the world to have a dolphin for a running partner, even though for only a few seconds. Skip to the shaky dolphin video if you don’t want to read my cringie Lance Armstrong comparison and The Great Conundrum of Truth vs. Lie or ¬†my running vs. cycling analysis.

Why I Am Writing About Running On My Cycling Adventure Blog

Lance Armstrong
Lance Edward Armstrong. Pascal Rondeau/ALLSPORT/Getty Images

Well, if you haven’t noticed, it’s not all about the bike for me. If you are or ever were a Lance Armstrong fan you’ve probably heard a similar phrase used before. It’s the opening phrase in the title of Armstrong’s 2000 autobiographical book “It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life” which was written shortly after he won his first Tour de France in 1999. The book was meant to inspire cycling fans, cancer patients and anyone who wants some reassurance that anything is possible so long as we are deeply passionate about putting in the hard work. Unfortunately, the story didn’t tell the whole truth but nevertheless, it accomplished its goal of inspiring thousands of readers around the world, myself included (I haven’t yet read the book but I am familiar with the story).¬†Never let the truth interfere with a good story¬†was perhaps the guiding principle of his ¬†book and, as it seems, was also the foundation on which he built the most successful cycling career in history. After winning the 1999 Tour de France, Lance went on to win six further times in successive years, establishing a record (later revoked when the truth finally surfaced).

But this is not a blog post about Lance. And unlike his story this one is true and I am not afraid of allowing the truth to intervene. In fact I welcome it and would gladly hand over my keyboard to it to continue telling this story if that was even possible. Truth inspires us into taking action, into taking courage and to be relentless in our pursuits. In truth, Lance could have achieved success without resorting to cheating but only if everyone else was riding clean. Was it wrong for him to omit that tiny detail about his Tour de France preparation? Perhaps not. But I digress. Bare with me for just a couple more lines and I promise will get back to the subject of this blog post. But first…

The Great Conundrum of Truth vs Lie

When is it ok to lie? We lie to our kids when we promise them that Santa Claus will bring them gifts on Christmas eve. Christians bribe their own children with the promise of an imaginary place called heaven and they are staunch believers in telling the truth.

The What vs. The Why

This is a blog post about my own journey and when I say “it’s not ALL about the bike,” I actually mean it but in a different way. You see, I am more than a cyclist. I am also a runner, a swimmer, a blogger, a webmaster, a SEO specialist and a digital marketing expert but none of these things accurately define who I really am. They define what I do for a living or for fun. ¬†I can also say that I am a husband and a father as these roles also require a certain amount of effort, responsibility and dedication but they still don’t tell you who I am as a person. ¬†You see, it’s not the what I do that defines who I am but the why I do it. So in the case of the endurance sports, cycling, running and swimming… I do these things because they make me come alive and also because they help me to really get out there and experience life in a way that I never could while sitting on a couch watching TV or in a hammock reading a book (though the latter is a good way to relax after a long bike ride or run).

Why I Run

As the title of the post reveals, my epic morning run took place on a Sunday, a day often reserved in most western cultures as a day of rest or a day for spiritual rejuvenation.  Today was that kind of a day for me. A day to set out on a great adventure, a day that sets the tone for the rest of my week, a week in which I will meet challenges head on and overcome them with style and grace.

So running for me is a type of meditation. It is a spiritual exercise and today my spirit was properly quenched and I am now ready to take on the rest of the week like a boss! So allow me to continue telling the story of my Super Sunday morning run and my amazing dolphin encounter which I was lucky enough to be able to record with my iPhone.

Running vs. Cycling

Cycling also offers me a similar opportunity to relax my mind and to put my thoughts in order and in preparation for the day which is why I prefer riding in the mornings. However, there are some days‚ÄĒeven weekend days when it would be more ideal to get in a long endurance ride‚ÄĒwhen I want to just go back to the basics and simply go out and run for as long as I could like Forest Gump .

Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoy cycling. Maybe I enjoy it more than I enjoy running but running feels so pure where as cycling involves sitting uncomfortably on a machine (albeit one of the greatest machines ever invented) equipped with two wheels to help you travel with less effort than walking or running and with two cranks and gears to help you magnify the force you apply to the pedals with your legs so you can get the wheels turning even faster.

Note:  Resting your gouch on a bike saddle should hardly qualify as sitting but for the purpose of this post I will call it that.

The bicycle is simply one of the most beautifully brilliant machines ever invented. As Chris Woodford¬†so eloquently describes it in his science of bicycles article on¬†, “it’s¬†a perfect example of how pure, scientific ideas can be harnessed in a very practical piece of technology.” I am sure that horses in the 19th century were overjoyed when they heard the news of this great human advancement. It should have meant less work for them but unfortunately, horses around the world are still slaving away for their human masters. It just goes to show that no matter how far we have come with science and technology, some of us still prefer to do things the hard and inhumane way.

Yes, cycling is far more efficient as a means of getting from point A to point B and maybe it was the logical technological replacement for horseback riding.  However, even horseback riding is still a fairly new activity for which the human body is still clearly not naturally adapted to. It may take another 100 thousand years before we become fully adapted to sitting on a horse or bike or maybe we never will.

Running, on the other hand (or on the other foot) is something our hunter/gatherer ancestors were doing for over a hundred thousand years, long before horses were being indoctrinated into the farming/herding lifestyle that began around ten thousand years ago. ¬†So while I enjoy riding because it gets me moving with very little effort and unlike driving a car, it is me doing all the work,¬†I also love running because when I go out for a long run I don’t have to carry a spare tube, a pump and a patch kit. ¬†Besides, there is no purer form of motion than running and so it’s good to put down the bike once in a while and just literally follow in the footsteps of our ancient ancestors. While running, you also get to see and experience nature in ways you can’t from the saddle of a bicycle. Also, to tell you the truth, it is the closest thing to flying since running allows you to cover more distance with your feet off the ground than on the ground.

The Dolphin Who Swam Next To The Runner

Well today while running back home after stopping at the Haulover bridge for a short nature break and to capture the opening photo featured at the top of this post I decided to jump on top of and run the full length of the first stretch of retaining wall that was recently put in place to hold back the Belize River during floods and the inevitable rise in water level due to climate change. I wanted to record my first experience running this wall so I took out my iPhone and started recording.  What happened about forty seconds into the recording was totally unexpected.

Check out the video of my experience below. It’s a little shaky as I was running with iPhone in hand. About forty seconds after I started recording I spot a dolphin swimming and diving alongside the river wall in the direction I was heading. I don’t know who spotted who first but I think I made history today, becoming the first runner to have a dolphin for a running partner. So cool! What a surprise that was! I don’t know if I could describe this as a magical experience or not but it surely felt special. After all, dolphins are special and this particular dolphin really made my day today.

My Epic Ride to San Antonio, Cayo

Today I rode up (literally) to the Maya village of San Antonio in the Cayo District. The road and countryside is very beautiful in Cayo and San Antonio is one of the villages just outside the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve where the terrain gets a little closer to the sky so it was really beautiful. I enjoyed this ride a lot, a really sufferfest it was with all those hills.

Belize Coconut Sunrise

sunrise coconut farm
A view of the Sunrise from in front of a coconut farm along the Hattieville road

It was a beautiful Wednesday morning in the Belize district today, more specifically in the vicinity of Ladyville, Burrell Boom and Hattieville¬†where I rode. Again, I decided to postpone my ride to Lucky Strike so I could join my friend Kenny on another ride to Hattieville and back, which can be a¬†boring ride if you are riding alone without music. So I put my speaker on pause and rode with Kenny¬†to Hattieville and back and got the scoop on the recent Weekend Warriors race and the current team situation. I’ve been out of competition and out of the loop for a while so it was good to get updated.

Hattieville Road
The road that Connects George Price Highway to the Philip Goldson Highways from Hattieville and through Burrell Boom Village, Belize District.

The Burrell Boom Road or Burrell Boom Cut Off as it is labeled in the Strava map is approximately 12 miles long and connects the two major highways that connect Belize City to the rest of the country. It is a popular Belize City bypass for people traveling from the northern districts to the Western or Southern districts and vice versa.

Trek Speed Concept - Triathlon Bike
Trek Speed Concept – Triathlon Bike

When¬†I take out my tri bike it’s because I intend to go fast¬†and¬†furious, which I enjoy doing by myself. It’s really hard to ride slow on a bike that is built for speed but that’s what usually happens when I ride with others, especially others who prefer an easy ride.¬†While¬†I prefer riding and training by myself most of the time, I do also¬†enjoy¬†riding, racing and interacting¬†with other humans¬†on bikes. After all I am doing this for my health and wellness and a little human interaction is healthy. It’s also good to learn from the experiences of others.

Returning to Form

Tom Dumoulin crushing the Individual Time Trial on Stage 10 of the Giro d'Itallia 2017
The Flying Dutchman – Tom Dumoulin crushing the Individual Time Trial on Stage 10 of the 2017 Giro d’Itallia

I’m not quite there yet but I felt much stronger on this morning’s ride.

In anticipation of today’s 40km Individual Time Trial, stage 10 of the Giro d’Itallia I decided to take out my Trek Speed Concept triathlon/time trial bike.

I was planning to do my own individual time trial on the Lucky Strike road but I met a couple of my cycling buddies at our usual starting point near the Boom cut off and decided to ride with them instead. We started off at a moderate pace averaging just over 16mph going but on the way back from Hattieville I decided to turn it up. Three of us were rotating at the front of the pace line with a couple other riders just hanging on. We ended up averaging about 22.4mph on the return and I finished off by lifting the pace up to near 31mph.  That felt good!

And it seems that Major Tom (Tom Dumoulin) is on his way to making this year’s Giro mightily interesting. He could certainly win. I had favored Nairo Quintana to win¬†but after seeing how well Tom was climbing on the Blockhaus stage and after today’s time trial performance I think he has a good chance of keeping the lead all the way to the finish. Will be interesting to see what Movistar and Nairo will do to try and take back some time on the Dutchman.

Discovering Lemonal Village

Lemonal is a friendly little Creole village in the Belize District. ¬†Now accessible by a brand new beautifully paved road from Bermudian Landing, it’s just one more beautiful place in Belize for cyclists¬†to visit. ¬†What I liked most¬†about riding this road was the light vehicular traffic flow. I’m surprised that more cyclists were not using it but evidence of its use for a recent bike race was clearly visible. Continue reading “Discovering Lemonal Village”

Discovering Lemonal

Lemonal is a friendly little Creole village in the Belize District. ¬†Now accessible by a brand new beautifully paved road from Bermudian Landing, it’s just one more beautiful place in Belize for cyclists¬†to visit. ¬†What I liked most¬†about riding this road was the light vehicular traffic flow. I’m surprised that more cyclists were not using it but evidence of its use for a recent bike race was clearly visible.

Horses in pond Belize roadside
Horses cooling off in one of the ponds that was likely leftover from a sand mining operation.

Paved with¬†hotmix asphalt similar to the Lucky Strike road¬†it winds through a combination of pine savanna, mixed broad leaf forests, farm lands and sand minds. There was no doubt in my mind that a bike race had recently taken place on this road since¬†the white painted makings indicating start/finish line, turn-around point and miles to go markers were still¬†clearly visible on the road surface. ¬†Maybe I’ll get to race on it myself in the near future.

As I approached the Lemonal bridge I had to stop and take a picture. ¬†With a big old tree spreading it’s lovely green branches over the ramp up to the¬†entrance of¬†the bridge, it¬†helped to create the ambiance of what seemed like a grand¬†old entrance to a 19th century community. In the left frame of my picture were people leaving their home near the bridge foot and walking on to the¬†bridge. They seemed like a¬†family on their way to church. Seventh Day Adventists perhaps?¬†Or perhaps they were on their way to a community meeting or event of some kind. I hurriedly snapped my picture and rode up to meet them.

Lemonal Road
The run up to the Lemonal Bridge

My first question to anyone who could answer me was why the village was called Lemonal. “That’s a good question,” replied the middle-aged gentleman walking with the group, which I assumed was his family. The lady walking alongside him said she heard it was because of a lemon tree that was… and she pointed in the direction of where the lemon tree was said to have been.¬†She wasn’t sure if it was an accurate account but she told me the name of a village elder who knows a lot about the village’s history¬†and gave me directions to his home. Maybe one day I will visit him to get more information and update¬†this post.

Lemonal Village, Belize District

Anyway, I soon discovered what event was taking place in the village‚ÄĒa Cricket match. As I rode through the village, pass the cricket field I saw more people including a few young men dressed in a Cricket team uniform. I was told by one of them that¬†it is the most popular sport in the community.

I also had the honor of being joined by a¬†little boy on a bike who seemed to get a kick from riding up beside me and passing me so maybe with the new road passing through and connecting the ¬†village with¬†Bermudian Landing and with competitive cyclists using it as a new race route, who knows… maybe there is a possibility of a new crop of cyclists emerging from Lemonal in the near future.

Entrance to Ayinha Adventures
End of the road near the entrance to Ayinha Adventures

Morning Ride to Lucky Strike

Lucky Strike is the name of a quaint little village in Belize. It is located at mile 30¬Ĺ in the Belize district on the Old Northern Highway, about 2 miles from the Maya Site of Altun Ha and approximately 11¬Ĺ miles through the Old Northern Highway from it’s junction with the Philip Goldson Highway at Sand Hill. The first 12 miles of the Old Northern Highway from its junction with the Philip Goldson Highway at Sand Hill was recently paved with hot mix asphalt, which gives the road a smooth surface that is perfect for roadies. While there are no major hills to climb, the road is not pancake flat either as it snakes and waves through the country side for an enjoyable ride. The rest of the road from Lucky Strike to Maskall village and onward to Maruba Resort Jungle Spa and to where it eventually re-connects with the Phillip Goldson Highway further north in Carmelita Village in the Orange Walk district, narrows to the original old patched-up asphalt pavement with several unpaved breaks that is not suited for road bikes or bikes with skinny wheels and tires.