Tuesday, April 28, 2009


For those of you in New England, I have been wanting to mention, and keep forgetting to, that it gets dark almost an hour later here than up there. Makes after work rides wonderful.

How many days do we get like this? It was 76 degrees with not much humidity, and bright sunshine at 5:15 when I left for my ride. There was a fair amount of wind coming from the south, and to be honest, if it was ten degrees colder I'd be whining about the wind, but for some reason, the warmer it gets, the less I mind it. Sure, I was riding straight into it when I was doing my intervals, so there was no speed to go with the effort, but I really didn't mind. I was smart enough to just run the intervals up to my lactate threshold instead of going full anaerobic like the last time, so it wasn't so bad. I did five one minute drills with one minute recovery in between. It felt pretty good, so maybe it's time to increase the time.

I rode 33.22 miles in at 17.3 mph. Not bad, and pretty close to what I was doing last year. Thirty three miles after work seems like about the right distance since it leaves some time for supper and maybe doing something in the garden.

I finally updated the yearly mileage over there on the right.

I could use more days like this.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Pollen Forecast...

That is the roof of my car. Believe it or not, I washed it yesterday. That gives you some idea of what the Weather Channel means when they say the pollen level in your area is high. Ya think? No wonder I have to keep stocked up on allergy medicine. Even had to use my inhaler today.

Even with a head start on the weekend's chores by mowing the lawn Friday evening, Saturday's ride ended up being a short one crammed between lots of other stuff. By the time I had gotten a haircut, washed the car, changed the tire from the mismatched spare to the repaired flat of last Sunday morning, and spent all my money (and the kid's inheritance) on food at Walmart and Sam's Club, it was after 12:00. I also had to be home by 3:00 because it was prom night. There were pictures to be taken, and Colin had to be with his friends by 4:00 to go out to eat (The Black Pearl in Greensboro - looks like a neat place, but he said I couldn't go. Go figure....). I got out about 12:30. It was a gorgeous day, about 90 degrees, some wind, full sun. Traffic around Liberty wasn't too bad for the Antique Festival, and bazillion yard sales and flea markets that take place on the two Festival weekends every year. It looked like the turnout was huge, given the number of cars I saw parked in the fields at the Festival site.

I rode 36.2 miles at 16.5 mph.

Today was a little warmer, about 92, and I got out a little earlier, about 10:30. The plan was to go for a longer ride, but not really push too hard. It was a success on both those counts. 50.93 miles @ 16.4 mph, with fairly low heart rates throughout. You know, sometimes it is nice to just slow down, putter along, and enjoy the ride and scenery. But it also helps to be in something resembling good shape, so you can.

I managed to stay reasonably hydrated, losing about four pounds on each ride. That is about the max I can lose and still feel ok, and it seems to be taking a bit more to stay at that level. Is that an age thing, I wonder?

Next ride - Interval Tuesday.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fastest / Not Fastest

Riding, if nothing else, is a decent stress reliever. Another round of "cost cutting" today, unemploying 5 people and gutting our infrastructure doesn't make for a very pleasant day. We still have to get through tomorrow. I feel sorry for those who are gone, and, of course, worried about what my fate is to be. With that kind of day, getting on the bike was badly needed. The fact that it was sunny, about 80 degrees with light breezes made it even better. I just put my head down and rode. Not really pushing, but not taking it easy, either. It was mindless, relaxing and stress relieving. It ended up being 32.86 miles with an average of 18 mph. Or, maybe, 33.17 miles at 18.2 mph, which would make it equal to my fastest ride, ever. You see, the thing is, there is this little discrepancy between the Garmin and the Cateye I had used up until last Christmas. The Cateye reads .2 mph higher all the time, and it is getting it's readings off a meticulously measured rear wheel. The Garmin gets its readings from satellites several thousand miles away. Which is right? It only matters for consistency, I guess.

In the end, it was a good ride, and plenty fast enough, either way, and I got to forget about things for a while.

Anyone need an Engineer/It manager/ welder / draftsman/etc?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Ride

Sunday didn't start the way I thought it would. This was the day the kids from Eastern Randolph and Providence Grove left on their trip to Washington DC, Gettysburg, and Philadelphia. My son ("the boy" according to his sister") was going. That meant we had to get up at 3:30 so he could get ready and make it to the school in time to make the bus, it was leaving at 5:00. We left about 4:40 for the ten minute ride to E.R. About 100 yards into the trip I decided the car did not feel right, so I stopped, got out and looked at the tires. The left rear was flat. Back to the house and a quick swap to Sam's car. We made it in time.

My legs still hurt from yesterday, but I wanted to ride, so I resolved to actually do what made sense - a nice slow recovery ride. My normal Sunday route sort of lends itself to that kind of ride - it is the most flat of all the routes. It actually worked out, for once. I rode 35.5 miles and averaged 16.7 mph. Best, though, my heart rate never got above 159 and mostly hovered around 140 to 145. I think that counts as a real recovery ride.

I am tired, though. I still have not recovered from last week's 2,000 miles in a Toyota Camry, and today's escapades didn't help. I did not take a nap, but I should have.

Isn't that a neat house? I have ridden past it several times, and never seen it until today. You can't accuse me of being observant. I only noticed it because I stopped to take that new picture up there in the header, and I only noticed that because I switched my normal direction on that road. I was going downhill instead of concentrating on getting up the hill. Maybe I need to look around?

I should have napped....

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Now, THAT Hurt

Since there was only one ride in the past week, and my legs felt a little achy and tired I figured today would be a good day to add more miles and more hills. That probably was not the smartest choice, but smart choices are not what I am known for. The first 18 miles went well, so I took the left turn off the Julian - Ramsuer road onto Old Liberty Road and headed for Gray's Chapel. There is a lot of uphill involved, but the only way to get better climbing is to climb. At some point my heart rate went way over max, to 180 bpm, and never really went down to "taking it easy" zone again. I was determined, though to get the most out of the ride, and I was comfortable with the higher than anticipated heart rates - I ended up with a162 average for the ride - but my legs were not happy at all. In true biker fashion, I pressed on regardless.

So, how did I fare? Well, 49.13 miles at an average of 16.8 mph. Not too bad if you consider that a lot of the last 20 miles was spent not only battling tired legs, but also attempting and failing, to bring the HR down to a reasonable number. I am SO out of shape.

Since I am planning on doing the annual Tour De Lions charity ride about mid May, and, of course, I want to do the 75 mile route, which just happens to have some steep climbs right at the end, so, there is a lot of work to do. Maybe I can get there.

Today's weather? Absolutely perfect NC spring. Eighty one degrees, full sun, not much wind. Does it get any better than that?

Tomorrow probably should be a recovery ride, but....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Poor Pitiful Me

Well, I didn't forget how to ride during my week off. When I left for my ride it was a sunny, slightly breezy 68 degrees. I dressed in my summer stuff, left, and after about half a mile thought maybe I should go back and put on the tights and long sleeve jersey. That is pitiful for a transplanted New Englander. I didn't go back, though, and I warmed up nicely. I ended up with 33.16 miles and my highest average speed of the year - 17.8. I intended to just take it easy, and mostly I did, but towards the end when it looked like I might get an 18 mph average, I pushed a bit. Didn't quite make it, this time.

The weekend is supposed to be warmer, and we have now gone a whole day without rain. Hope I can get some miles in.

That GPS Thing

Let me begin by assuring you that, since I am a male, I am my own GPS unit. I always know where I am going, never need to ask directions, and, of course, have never been lost. Just ask CJ.

Sam has a Garmin Nuvi she got for Christmas, though, and since I had never used one and already knew where I was going, I thought we'd use it on the trip, you know, see how the machine compared to me. I was shocked when Sam plugged in our destination address and a pleasant female voice (from this point on she will be known as Betty) informed me that our destination was 640 miles away. Six hundred and forty. That's two hundred less MY ROUTE. Now, saving the time it takes to drive 200 miles seemed like it might be a good idea, given that we were starting kind of late and it was going to be a quick trip. So lead on, Betty.

Within the first mile it was obvious that she intended to take us up Interstate 95. I had never gone that way since it goes through all the major east coast cities, Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, but that 200 miles was so tempting. Things went well until we got to the north side of Richmond, where the speed of traffic varied from stopped to 45 mph. This was the pattern from Richmond all the way to the north side of Baltimore. That wasn't Betty's fault though. As we went through Washington, however, I had the first little pang of doubt. It was when we saw the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial and the Capitol Dome. Then , when she told me to exit onto Pennsylvania Ave., I lost faith. I was also stopped in traffic. Now, I am sure that may have been the shortest distance, and maybe under some circumstances it might be the fastest, but not that day. Not having a map, though, left me with no choice but to follow Betty's directions, vowing that if she ever got me back on 95, I would stay there. Eventually we did get back on 95 and there I stayed. It was fun to ignore the "reconfiguring" and "go .2 miles and make a u-turn" she kept insisting on at each missed exit.

At 2:00 AM, 15 hours into the trip, we were in Rock Hill CT so we stopped there. The next morning we drove another hour and a half and Betty proudly announced that we had arrived at our destination. Oh, it turned out to be 840 miles. Exactly the same as the route I always take. Just to top it off, there are no tolls on my normal route, but we paid $27 to come up 95. Thanks, Betty.

The return trip on Monday was down Interstate 81. Betty was silenced, and relegated to map only mode. It took 13. 5 hours to get home. Same 840 miles, included stops for lunch, and a couple of side trips to Walmart (OK, we let Betty find those for us, and she did a good job). Best of all, not much traffic.

I will admit, though, that seeing those monuments in DC, and seeing all those cities lit up at night was kind of cool, and I never would have without Betty's optimistic mileage calculation, and it all worked out. But I won't go that way again.

I almost took my bike, but there wasn't time to ride it, and the weather wasn't really all that great, temps in the 30's and lots of wind, but maybe next time. I'd kind of like to ride up Mt. Wachusett just to see if I can.

It was nice to see New England again.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

You Might Think

You might think that someone who can get on a bike and ride fifty miles or so without ever once stopping would be in pretty good shape. Well, maybe you wouldn't, but, I did. Tonight I found I wasn't. It was time to do a little speed work. You know, start getting the average speed up. That requires, uh, intervals! I don't dislike intervals, but, they can be rough, especially at first, and tonight was definitely "at first". I did five of them, maximum effort, one minute each, with a minute recovery in between. My legs were willing, but my lungs objected in no uncertain terms - burning and hurting, which I ignored. I am stubborn that way. Ok, I'm just stubborn, as some people will attest. When I really am in shape I can maintain that effort for about twenty minutes, so one minute may seem short, and is, but ya gotta start someplace, and I have.

But, did it work, you ask? As in did I go faster? Well, yeah, I did. At the end of the five intervals, about ten miles in, my average was 18.3 mph. At the end of the ride, 32.72 miles, the average was 17.7. That's the fastest since August 21 of last year. Not bad, and it can only get better, right?

I hope to ride tomorrow, I have the day off, but intervals two days in a row are not a good idea.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Last Week and...

I got in all four rides last week, finally. Weather cooperated, as did the motivation, and I ended up with 136.51 miles. I think that's the most for a week this year. I got in Sunday too, so this week has a good start, but that won't last (more on that later). Saturday's ride turned out to be 44.68 miles at 16.7 mph. The wind wasn't in my favor and I set out thinking it would be a short ride and I'd just take it easy. Taking it easy worked well, and the ride ended up longer and faster than it should have. Funny how that works. When I don't push, I go just as fast as when I do, but I feel better at the end.

The rest of Saturday was spent on long neglected yard work. I cut down several trees near the house that I didn't want to get any bigger. The 20 mph wind was blowing directly toward the house, so, things got really interesting. The trees were just big enough to hit the house, and. well, they tried, but I got it figured out and they all missed. It was close, though.

Sunday, another great, bright, sunny, windy and warm day (77 degrees) was great for another easy ride. About 10 miles in I saw another biker coming toward me. As we passed, I waved, and also noticed that the bike was loaded. I mean really, loaded. It had four saddle bags on the back that were the size of the biggest suitcases I had ever seen, another one on top of the luggage rack, and a big stick with a red flag fluttering behind it. I turned around and caught up to him. When I asked him where he was headed, he told me he had just left Carboro that morning and was going to the west coast. Pretty cool. His name is John, and He looked to be about 22 or 23 years old. Hopes he makes it. I chatted with him a while then turned back around and finished my ride. 36.62 miles at, you guessed it, 16.7 mph.

As for the rest of the week, well tomorrow's high is supposed to be 50 with 30 mph winds, so I doubt I will go out. It improves a bit as the week goes on, so we shall see.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Spring is really here.

Lots of flowers are blooming and everything is turning green. We've had plenty of rain so far, and today was no exception. Since I have taken vacation days today and tomorrow, and today was a "scheduled ride" day (I use that term very loosely), I decided to get my ride in early. Most of the reason for that was that, although it was dreary and raining in the morning, the forecast for the afternoon was for thunderstorms. Ride in a thunderstorm? Thanks, but, no thanks. They still haven't come, though, and it's 4:00 in the afternoon.

Given the visibility out there I finally relented and attached my five LED Cateye tail light to the left side seat stay. It is not aesthetically pleasing, but, there are times when it might make a difference. Besides, it unclips and goes in the seat bag when it isn't needed. Since it had been stored in the seat bag of the other, old Fuji for the past year, the batteries weren't up for much, and went dead within the first three miles. Since I go through town in the first three miles I stopped at Family Dollar and got some more. Wow, that thing is bright when it has a fresh power source.

With the temp at 58 and the rain, I wasn't sure what to wear, so I overdressed and was a bit too warm, but that is always better than being too cold. I got in 32.87 miles and averaged 16.7 mph and got very wet.

Tomorrow we are supposed to have more thunderstorms and winds up to 40 mph, so I don't anticipate a ride.

This afternoon I got to take CJ to Greensboro to shop for yarn. She shopped, I sat in the car with a laptop and tried to find a wireless network I could connect to in the downtown. I found two that were open but I couldn't get on the Internet with them.

I might have to wash the bike tomorrow, though. I am always amazed at how dirty it gets on a wet road.