Category Archives: Syracuse

My First Triathlon Bike

The secret’s out:  While home for Thanksgiving, I visited Syracuse Bicycle three times in two days and officially joined the speed club—hello, 2013 Cannondale Slice 5 105!

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Sigh, what a beauty.

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Basically since the start of the season, my coaches have been on me to get a time trial/triathlon bike (TT).  Even though I knew this purchase would be necessary, I waited.  The last thing I wanted to do was learn how to ride a new-to-me bike during the season, and plus, in terms of finances, it was advantageous to hold off until after Kona; that’s when older (2013 and 2014) models go on sale.

Anyway, I didn’t blog about what happened behind the scenes of my bike selection process, so here’s a summary.

Researching, aka envying others’ bikes

Yes, I love my road bike.  Yes, I know it’s about the engine and not the car.  But I experienced some serious bike envy this year—especially at Age Group Nationals.

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Lots of staring occurred, but I didn’t truly start my research until October.  At first, it was informal:  simply talking to teammates and coworkers, asking which bike they ride, and figuring out why they chose it.  From these conversations, I slowly developed a passing knowledge for components and started to read up on a few brands.  By the time I went home for Thanksgiving, I had narrowed down my selection:  I wanted an entry-level ride, preferably a 2013 Trek or Cannondale (but I wouldn’t say no to Felt or Cervelo).

So why entry level?  At this point in my triathlon career, I don’t need the latest and greatest in terms of bike technology; and because I’m relatively inexperienced, the difference between entry-level components (like Shimano 105s, which are perfectly fine) and those that cost more (like Dura-Ace) probably wouldn’t be incredibly noticeable.  Not to mention I have an unexplainable fear of riding a bike that’s too good for me.

With this in mind, I wanted a bike with a baller frame; down the road, I reasoned, upgrades to components could be made.

And why Trek or Cannondale?  I ride a Trek roadie, so trying the brand’s Speed Concept TT made sense.  And my coworkers talked up Cannondale’s Slice big time.  Not that it matters, but four-time Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington rode a Slice.

More researching, aka taking what the defense gave me

With my TT options narrowed down, the next step included calling Syracuse Bicycle, explaining my situation, and seeing which models would be available.  Over the phone, we determined a 54 cm TT frame would most likely fit. (I’m 5’10” and ride a 56 cm road bike.) It’s an odd size to begin with, and since the shop held its annual winter clearance sale, a lot of inventory had been cleared out to make room for 2015 models.  There was one option:  the 2013 women’s Slice 5 105.  Bingo!  I read up more on this bike specifically and knew that barring some sort of catastrophe, this would be my new ride.

Seeing the Slice

On Friday morning, I brought my cycling shoes and shorts to Syracuse Bicycle and hoped to test ride the Slice.  In typical Central New York fashion, we got a ton of snow, so riding around the parking lot wouldn’t work.  Another factor I failed to consider included the seat post; unlike road bikes where you can adjust its height, seat posts need to be cut on TT bikes.  This combination meant it wouldn’t be possible to get a good feel for the bike before buying it.

This made me uneasy at first, but I remembered a handful of my teammates and coworkers bought their bikes without riding them. (Maybe this is normal?) And this would’ve been my first time on a tri bike, so it would’ve felt awkward anyway.

At this point, I relied on my research:  Cannondale makes one of the most versatile, high-quality frames on the market, so getting fitted and dialed in wouldn’t be a problem.  I also heard Cannondale bikes work really well for riders with long legs.  And on a vain note, the red matches my team race kit—and we know it’s all about looking good in race photos.

Fitting

With the bike purchased (a big thank you goes out to Santa for my Christmas present for the next five years!), the next step included getting a general fit.  As cyclists and triathletes know, there are several in-depth fitting processes options (which I eventually plan to do), but a general fit offers a good starting point.

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First, the seat post was cut, and then David, the fitting technician, determined how much the aerobars needed to be cut.  The cockpit area—including the aerobar width—fit perfectly, which David said is very rare.  During this process, I swapped the stock saddle for the Bontrager Hilo RXL, and pedals, a water bottle cage, and mount for my Garmin 310XT were also installed. (Although I’m thinking about getting a straight-up bike computer so I’m not fumbling around in T2.)

Riding

TBD—the Slice still lives in CNY, but my parents plan to bring it down to New York City in a few weeks.  When it arrives, I’ll put on my trainer tire and start riding it during CompuTrainer classes.  The sooner I can become comfortable in this more aggressive position, the better—because my first race of the 2014 season is only four months away!

Home For The 4th (and 5th) of July

Hiya, friends!  I hope your long holiday weekend is going great so far!  On Wednesday, I hopped on a flight home to Syracuse, and I’ve been fully enjoying Central New York.

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A little different than New York City, right?

My first stop after the airport was Wegmans.  Obviously.

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I have yet to find sushi that even comes close to this in NYC.

While home, I needed to complete a tempo run, so I signed up for my hometown’s 4th of July 5-K.

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I debated whether or not I should write a race recap, but honestly, there isn’t too much to say.  I did a quick warm-up mile on the high school track, and excluding two big hills at mile one and two-ish where my pace creeped up to 8:1X, I hit and held my tempo pace.  Official finishing time was 23:36 (7:36), which I’ll take for not “racing.”  Shortly after, I took Zelda for a “recovery jog.”

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Good news—the Mizuno Wave Sayonaras can withstand both road racing and greyhound walking!

Anyway, later that afternoon, my entire family—aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents—came over for 4th of July festivities.

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My uncle’s girlfriend’s mother made this patriotic fruit salad, and I had to try really, really hard not to put away the entire spread.  The fruit was delicious, but it was the dip that proved to be my demise: fluff and cream cheese.  Yum!

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Other shenanigans ensued.

And yesterday, I completed a five-mile recovery run before hitting the pool.  I mean LAKE!

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Words cannot begin to describe how much I missed open-water swimming here.

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My 20-minute “workout” consisted of a 10-minute warm up and 10-minutes of intervals.  I swam steady to a predetermined point, then swam hard back, and repeated this cycle.  My mom and dad spotted me, and this was the first time since last year they’ve seen me swim, bike, or run—and they were floored.  They said I looked like a completely different swimmer.  Woohoo for progress!

The rest of my day consisted of napping outside and trying not to get sunburned.

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My extended family eventually visited for round two of festivities.  No pictures, but I will say we polished off a bottle of limoncello and citrus-flavored vodka.

How did you celebrate the 4th of July?

Home Sw-EAT Home

Hello, hello from Upstate New York!

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Even though spring has officially arrived, the lake remains frozen.  Before I left practice Wednesday, my teammates said I should drill a hole and hop in for some open-water swimming.  It sounded like a great idea to me, but my mom shot it down—ha!

Anyway, it feels so nice to be home!  My tiny hometown is basically the exact opposite of New York City, and although I love living there, I do like escaping the concrete jungle every now and then.  My train yesterday arrived almost an hour late—you’re killing me, Amtrak!—so lunch was on my mind. (Not that there’s ever a time when I’m not thinking about food, but you get my point.) Luckily, my mom had some Easter grocery shopping to do at Wegmans, so we went there for lunch.

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Holy cow—I’ve missed Weggies so much!  I planned to get the citrus tofu roll, but it wasn’t available, so I went with a spicy tuna roll, plus a side of roasted mushrooms and asparagus.

For dinner, my family went to Circa, our favorite local restaurant.

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Luckily, my sisters and I “like” Circa on Facebook, so we knew there wasn’t wine—and alerted my parents, so we came prepared!  Salad and turkey mole for dinner.

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Mmmm!

Breakfast after my swim this morning was my standard spinach and egg white breakfast sandwich, and I enjoyed a delicious bowl of homemade black bean soup after my tempo run.

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Black bean soup never photographs well, but trust me:  To.  Die.  For.  I also chased it with an orange.

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Speaking of orange, Syracuse beat Indiana last night and advanced to the Elite Eight—woohoo!  I’m so happy the Cuse-Marquette matchup will start at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow afternoon; the past games have tipped off around 9:40 p.m., which is past my bedtime. (Seriously.)

I’m going shopping with my sister now—enjoy your Friday!

Do you certain meals or visit certain restaurants when you’re home?

Six Things Thursday

Hey, hey—happy (throwback) Thursday!

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I’ve been sitting on this high school basketball picture for a while, and I finally uploaded it to Instagram today.  Miss those glory days!

Anyway, this post is all over the place, which makes for a perfect list.

1.  Wednesday’s edition of heat training for Nautica South Beach went pretty well.  During the Full Throttle Endurance indoor cycling workout, I wore three layers (Under Armour, short-sleeved t-shirt, and long-sleeved t-shirt) and noticed a few key things.  Aside from the obvious (warming up quickly, sweating more, etc.), my heart rate rose quicker during power intervals and took longer to drop during recovery efforts.  This was probably due to a combination of rocking the extra layers and pushing myself more—t-minus 16 days, so it’s crunch time!  Honestly, though, the heat didn’t take its toll until mile three of the run off the bike.  I had to work harder to hold my steady pace, and I was so tempted to take off a shirt or two; I was uncomfortably warm for sure.  Stripping won’t be an option in Miami (need to have some decency, right?), so I pushed through. (Side note:  We talked about the run during our bike workout, and Andrew said four miles have never felt so long.  Gulp.)

2.  My appetite and grocery bills have increased exponentially this week.  Case in point:  My supply of roasted sweet potatoes that normally lasts five days disappeared last night. (Who could’ve eaten them all?) This warranted a trip to Whole Foods, and I also picked up more spinach, almond milk, and protein powder.  Seriously, where is all my food going?!

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Can’t wait to have this fresh batch tonight!

3.  This afternoon’s swim workout wiped me out. (I tagged along with another FTE training group this morning for a 40-minute tempo run and waited until the afternoon to hit the pool.) My training plan called for an endurance swim with longer intervals, so I wrote this down beforehand:

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Swimmers, would you call the main set an endurance swim?  The 30 seconds of rest was too ambitious, though.  After the first and second 500s, I bumped it up to one minute.

4.  I’m so excited to go home for Easter!  This will be my first trip back to Central New York since January, and I can’t wait to see a certain greyhound.

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Let’s hope Zelda will pull me through a tempo run or two.

5.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year: March Madness has begun!

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Syracuse plays Montana tonight, but I’m not a fan of the 9:57 p.m. tipoff—that’s way past my bedtime! (But really.)

6.  For my fellow Downton Abbey fanatics, have you seen Dan Stevens’ new look?

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I definitely don’t hate it!

Did you fill out a bracket for March Madness?  What are your plans for Easter?

Syracuse Basketball at Madison Square Garden

As I’ve alluded to on the blog, I’m obsessed with collegiate basketball and basically live for March Madness.  I played quite a bit back in the day—from third grade through sophomore year of college, so 12 years—but what else was I supposed to do growing up in Central New York?  Well, I could’ve taken up cross-country skiing because it snows basically six months out of the year, but I digress.

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Friday flashback–why not?

Even though I retired about three years ago (no regrets!), I still love watching the game, especially when my boys at Syracuse University take the court.  I’ve been bleeding Orange for as long as I can remember, and my devotion to the team truly solidified when my immediate family lived with my grandparents during our house renovation project.  As a seventh grader, I would watch each game with my grandparents:  my grandma would braid my hair, and my grandpa would yell at Craig Forth.  Good times!

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I got his autograph at Chili’s!

Over the years, I’ve attended lots of Orange games, including a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sit courtside in the Carrier Dome.

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Courtside seats granted us access to the hospitality suite, aka unlimited sangria.  Oh, and Chris Joseph talked to me.  I almost died.

So really, it should come as no surprise that when I faced the choice of cleaning, doing laundry, and working on a freelance assignment or going to the Syracuse game at Madison Square Garden (MSG), I chose the latter.

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You need to take what the defense gives you, right? (One-hundred percent intended basketball pun.)

My uncle Jim and a few of his friends came to New York City for the Big East Tournament, and we went out to dinner Wednesday night after Syracuse put away Seton Hall. (Hey, an outing I didn’t blog about—shocker!) Anyway, the group had an extra ticket to Thursday’s showdown against Pittsburgh, so when uncle Jim offered me the seat, I took him up on the offer.  Obviously, I will never say no to watching a Syracuse game, and plus, I’d never been to the Garden.  This series would also be the last time SU plays in the Big East Tournament. (The team moves to the ACC conference next year, and since this isn’t a basketball blog, I’ll refrain from sharing my two cents.)

Anyway, I spent the bulk of the day spectating games—first Cincinnati-Georgetown, then Syracuse-Pittsburgh—and “broing out.”

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Hanging out with the boys and analyzing the game is good for the soul!  My friends in real life can attest to the fact that my inner jock comes out when I watch games, and I’ve been known to yell at the TV and get into heated debates with fellow spectators. (That’s why scheduling my indoor trainer bike rides has worked so well–it keeps me under control and takes the edge off my anxiousness!)  I also tend to ignore everything that isn’t game-related, so if Syracuse is playing, then I won’t respond to your question, tweet, etc.

It was so cool watching the game at MSG!  Situated at center court, our seats gave us great views (not that there’s a bad seat in the Garden), and the crowd’s energy was contagious.

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I like to think the Orange needed our support because they almost threw away the game, but ultimately won 62-59.  The team faces Georgetown tonight, and even though I won’t be at the game, you’ll probably be able to hear me cheering—ha!

Are you a sports fan?  What’s your favorite sport to watch?  Do you enjoy “broing out”?

Two Things

Happy Saturday, friends!  How’s your weekend going so far?  Other than cleaning and doing laundry, I have only two noteworthy things to report today.  First, I completed an indoor bike trainer ride this afternoon, my first with aerobars.

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Hello, hot mess!  I obviously rocked my neon orange CNY Triathlon Club t-shirt because the Syracuse Orange played beat the Villanova Wildcats 72-61.  Anyway, the training schedule Andrew sent last Sunday called for a 60-90-minute ride in steady zone 2, but I cut my ride short at the 40-minute mark because my left knee felt off; not too painful, but noticeably not right.  It’s probably due to my saddle adjustment—coupled with being in aero and riding on the trainer for the first time since before the holidays—so I’m not concerned, but better safe than sorry, right?  Aside from my knee, the ride felt surprisingly good.  It’s probably in my head, but I feel much more powerful, and surprisingly, my back didn’t hurt at all.  It’s all about finding the positives!

Second, while flipping through the February issue of Runner’s World, I loved seeing Syracuse’s Lake Effect Half-Marathon featured as the race of the month.

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Woohoo for hometown publicity!

Has your hometown or current city been featured in a publication?

Bring Lady Gaga to Syracuse for a Revolution Ride with SoulCycle

Anyone else guilty of keeping tabs on celebrities? (Especially Ryan Gosling in my case.) Even though I don’t read Perez Hilton’s blog on a regular basis anymore, I still enjoy knowing what’s going on in the lives of some starlets.  Case in point:  Lady Gaga.  Sure, I need to be working out or drinking an adult beverage or two to appreciate her music, but even so, when I heard the media slammed her for gaining 25 pounds, I became pretty peeved.

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Weight, sizes, and numbers shouldn’t matter, but they unfortunately do in our culture.  However, in true Gaga fashion, the eccentric recording artist isn’t hiding the extra pounds; rather, she’s using it to highlight an important issue.  Earlier this year, Gaga launched her charity, the Born This Way Foundation, which aims to empower children and stop bullying, and now, in conjunction with this organization, she’s joined forces with SoulCycle to launch a Body Revolution campaign/charity ride. (Proceeds will benefit her charity.)

This initiative hopes to help raise awareness of body image problems.  With the event in its planning stages, Gaga has asked fans for input, and a group of Syracuse-based female triathletes have invited her to come to Upstate New York and host her charity ride.

What’s the connection between body image and the sport of triathlon?  At every swim start, there are all types of bodies present.  Sure the professionals and elite age-groupers boast nearly perfect physiques, and “normal” people with “normal” bodies also compete.  In an effort to bring Gaga to Syracuse, Lisa Dolbear posted an open letter on her blog, and here are some powerful sentiments:

“The way you [Lady Gaga] tackle a piano with emotion, technique, and hunger is the same way we tackle each workout.  The way you own the stage for hours on end is the same way we’ve taken to the roads for hours on end (Ironman can last for 17 hours…ride, ride pony!).

“Girls need to know that this kind of strength and fire doesn’t come from conforming to society’s idea of what they should be doing.  It doesn’t come from throwing up, cutting, abusive relationships, or drugs.  It doesn’t come from those short-term vices we find and rely on in our darkest moments.

“It comes from accepting yourself and your flaws and being brave enough to feed your passions despite the obstacles that are in your path.  It comes from feeling good enough about yourself that you can rise above the pressures from society to look and be a certain way—as a superstar, as an athlete…

“As a woman.

“In that spirit, I would like to invite you to lead a #RevolutionRide spin class with me to support the next generation of girls who are fighting against society every day—from the people in their day-to-day lives who judge and bully them, to the strangers at large who stereotype the way women should look and behave.”

Attending a SoulCycle charity ride with Lady Gaga—which, if held in Syracuse, is rumored to take place at the Carrier Dome—would be amazing.  Hopefully, she makes the trip to Central New York!

Have you met a celebrity?  What were they like in person?  Have you struggled with body-image issues?

Last Bike Ride in Central New York

Good afternoon, everyone!  How’s your Thursday so far?  I kicked off my morning with a 2.5-hour bike ride with Laura and MaryBeth around my tiny town.

Our leisurely ride gave us plenty of time to tri talk.  MB is such a great resource, so it was beneficial to pick her brain and discuss things like nutrition and off-season training.  Plus, I really valued talking through my long-term running and triathloning goals with a knowledgeable source.  Even though the ride was a blast, I couldn’t ignore the fact that it will be my last Central New York bike outing for quite some time.

I’m bringing my bike to the city, and once it’s there, it won’t be easy to take it home for the holidays. (Does anyone know if Amtrak allows bikes on trains?) Speaking of CNY, I have to take a moment to brag about my homestead:  Active.com named Syracuse as one of its 10 Best Triathlon Cities in the U.S.

And the article mentioned CNY Tri.  Hollerrr!

Dinner

Let’s backtrack to last night’s dinner:  I heated up a piece of leftover almond crusted tilapia and roasted some veggies.

Even though the tilapia exploded somewhat in the microwave, it was still delicious.  I kept dinner on the light-ish side because I had some baking planned—more pumpkin crunch granola to be exact.

Before letting my family have some, I had to taste it myself.  You know, for quality control purposes.  Big mistake.  Friends, I literally cannot stop eating this stuff.  It’s addicting.  I’ll share the recipe tomorrow!

Breakfast

Before this morning’s ride, I ate two Kashi waffles with almond butter and banana slices.

Sprinkled with chia seeds for good measure.

Post-Workout Snack

Once I got home, I inhaled a slice of protein-packed pumpkin bread.

And the loaf is officially gone.

All right, it’s time to face my organized piles of chaos and start packing for NYC—ahhh!  Have a great afternoon!

Seven Things

Hey, everyone—Happy Thursday!  I have a ton of information to share today, so I figured a list would keep everything clear and concise. (More for my benefit, really!)  Here we go!

1.  My mom and I went to Cantina Laredo for lunch yesterday.

I hoped our journey to the mall would lead us there!  Chips and salsa to start.

I ordered the vegetarian and gluten-free avocado enchiladas.

They were just OK; nothing to write home about.

2.  I purchased my blog domain:  Fitnessandfrozengrapes.com.

 

For $18, plus an additional $8 for “private registration,” it’s well worth the price tag.

3.  I have a big-girl interview in New York City next week for a paid editorial internship at a diet and fitness publication—woohoo!

Gerard Butler, feel free to crash on my couch anytime.

4.  Today’s tempo run kicked my booty.

 

On the bright side, I definitely earned tomorrow’s rest day.

5.  A cool bowl of overnight 60-plus-minute oats made it better.

I let the mixture—half of a banana (ate the first half before running), strawberries, Greek yogurt, 1/3 cup old fashioned oats, 1/3 cup almond milk, cinnamon, and chia seeds—sit in the fridge while I trudged along on the dreadmill.

6.  My bike underwent its first tune-up, and I picked it up at Syracuse Bicycle.

Don’t let the empty-looking parking lot fool you; I strategically planned my visit to avoid both the morning and lunchtime rushes, so I arrived at 11:40 a.m.  In addition to the tune-up, I also asked if the guys could install a second water bottle cage and a wireless computer, the Bontrager Trip 5W.

Because I’m trying to be as legit as possible; fake it ‘til you make it, right?

Plus a pleasant surprise—regripped handlebars!

So long, dirty and sweaty bike handlebar tape!

7.  When in doubt, make a salad.

Today’s blend included spinach, celery, carrots, apple slices, red pepper, and a homemade black bean burger.

Yummy!

Your turn:  Share seven things!

Local Cyclist, Triathlete, and Teacher Killed in Penfield Crash

As a budding triathlete, new cyclist, and William Smith College alumna, I want to shed light on this tragic story.  At 7:45 a.m. on Sunday, Fairport High School biology teacher Heather Boyum was killed while biking in Penfield.

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A 1993 graduate of WS, she was training for a triathlon and riding with a friend from the Moms in Motion organization when the accident occurred.

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“Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies say the crash happened when Megan Merkel, 23, of Ontario was driving northbound on Route 250.  Her boyfriend, Mark Scerbo, 22, of Penfield, was riding his motorcycle in the same direction, speeding up and passing Merkel’s car, then slowing down to do ‘wheelies.’  Police say Scerbo started to pass Merkel’s car on the right shoulder when he struck 40-year-old Boyum, of Perinton, who was riding her bicycle northbound on the right shoulder.  Boyum was thrown off of her bike.  Witnesses say Merkel ran over Boyum and kept going.  Webster police later charged her with drunken driving.” MPN.com

Because Heather and I share an alma mater, plus an interest in cycling and triathloning, I find this news especially tragic; I can’t imagine what her friends, family, and students are going through.  Please keep everyone in your thoughts.