Sunday, September 26, 2010

Half a Mile

This morning my coffee sipping and watching of the pre-race show for the Singapore Formula One race was interrupted by the sound of police sirens and the ensuing insistent barking of Logan (our newest adoptee, not reported on here - yet). The sirens stopped nearby, Logan quieted down, and, thankful for the quiet, and not really caring what all the ruckus was about, I went back to watching TV. The race was terrific.

Following the race, I went out and rode a quick 24.4 miles, then, around 2:00, left to take Colin to Randleman for his ride back to UNCC. As soon as we turned onto the highway we saw about six police vehicles, plus a firetruck in the other lane.

They were there for this. Less than a half mile from my house.

What can I say?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Did it again.

This evening's weather forecast was the same as yesterday's - 40% chance of thunderstorms. The difference was that, while yesterday it was overcast, spitting rain, looking like storms could break out any moment, the temp was 88 degrees, and the Weather Channel said it felt like 95, today was nearly cloud free, with intense sunshine, temp was actually 95 degrees and felt at least that. Don't know what the air quality was, but it couldn't have been too bad since i didn't really notice any problems. So, I got in another 23 miles. I realize how much I've missed riding frequently, so I have to find the time.

I tried a new route tonight that left out the road where I was attacked by a dog last night, and ridiculed by its owner. I guess I'm going to have to report it to animal control since it cuts out a huge area I normally ride in, and the next person might not be as assertive as me with an attacking dog and could really get hurt.
Here is the dog. I don't know about you, but if someone came to me and told me my dog had chased them and bitten them my reaction wouldn't be to tell that person they should not have been on the public highway.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


As noted in my last post, a variety of things have conspired to give me some excuses for not riding. There have only been 15 rides since the first of June for a total of 479 miles. Foremost among the excuses has been the weather. Well, tonight, the air quality wasn't too bad, temp only about 90, humidity 61, and thunderstorms pretty far away according to the radar. So, no excuses and a ride took place. It was only 23 miles and I averaged 16.7 (it was 17.4 into the last 2 miles, but being attacked by a rather large dog and taking the time to chase it home and speak to it's owner dropped the average, but that's another, still percolating story).

As always, I took the time to weigh myself before the ride. I do this so I can keep up with my hydration needs, and, of course, gloat at how trim and fit bike riding keeps me. Not tonight, though. Tonight I verified that the same diet that lets me lose weight all summer while riding enough to burn about 10,000 calories a week will not keep me "fit and trim" when I am not riding. There was a winter type weight gain.

So, it looks like I have to ride more or eat less. I think ride more is the answer.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


This seems to be happening far too often lately. Of course there are the usual comments of bikes not belonging on roads, and roads are made for things with motors. Well, they are not. Roads are made to facilitate travel. They are a huge network of public transport, open to whatever mode of travel the law allows. Bikes are specifically included in that.

Also troubling is the comment by the Highway Patrol officer. His statement that the bikers were riding "where they should have been, single file and on the right hand side of the road" doesn't accurately reflect the law here in NC and misleads motorists into believing bikes need to be "out of the way". Bikes here are entitled to the whole lane. Always. No exceptions. No vague "ride as far to the right as possible" like so many states. I ride about three feet into the lane because that makes me an obvious obstacle that needs to be dealt with, rather than something that can be squeezed of the road because of oncoming traffic. It doesn't always work.

I have not been riding quite as much this year due to this unbelievable heat and the poor air quality that goes with it, many days with severe thunderstorms, a back injury in June that needed to heal, and also kept me from participating in the NC State Games, so there was no third gold medal third gold medal. This year, though I have noticed far more aggressive and dangerous driving directed at me than ever before, and I am at a loss to explain why. I also see more bikes on the road, which should, in theory, lead to safer cycling as motorists become more accustomed to seeing bikes.

I still believe that some sort of public service campaign, like those that have been so successful for drunk driving and seat belt use needs to be launched, along with real enforcement and penalties for harassing, endangering, injuring, and killing cyclists (and pedestrians). It needs to be nationwide and it needs to be overwhelming in it's visibility. So, how do we do it? Maybe then the roads will become safer for what they are intended for - traveling from one place to another, however you choose to get there.

I've also had writers block, as the lack of updates shows.

Oh, I want Andy to win. Hope he's learned to time trial.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


The DirecTV and Versus (Comcast) truce means that, once again, I get to watch two things I love. Indy Car Racing and Bicycle racing. Watching Fabian Cancellara putting an exqusite smack down to all comers in Flanders and Paris - Roubaix was, as they say, "Must see TV". That smooth, fluid riding off into the sunset, leaving a puzzled, almost incoherent Tom Boonen to wallow in his wake was, simply, beautiful.

So, yesterday, after twelve miles of commuting, I came home, changed into the cycling clothes, pulled out the "fast" bike, and went for a ride. There wasn't any real goal, except to ride, but, as these things tend to go for me, it ended up a bit different. For some reason, about 8.5 miles in I discovered an average speed of 18.6. I don't go that fast anymore, do I? No, I NEVER went that fast! Yeah, it was with the wind, and I'd be coming back, but still, it wasn't much of a wind. I went another 21 miles. I did almost the entire thing in the drops, in my most aerodynamic position (at 6'2" and 190 lbs, airflow is more brick like than I want to admit) and pushed, pushed, pushed. My reward? Twenty nine and a half miles with an average speed of 18 mph! Sure, I lost a bit, but most of the ride from the 18.6 point was either into the wind, or up hills. Sometimes you just have to remember how to go fast. It's hard.

There are times I wonder - if I were 30 years younger..... But I'm having fun.

Thanks. Fabian, for reminding me how to go fast.

Friday, April 09, 2010

A Dilemma and Paradox

Since I live out here in the middle of nowhere - or, to be fair, about 25 miles in any direction from almost everything - it isn't a surprise when I come across rural type things in the road. Goats, and cows are not all that unusual, horses are pretty common - and require great care in passing, as bicycles tend to spook them, giving their riders an unanticipated thrill, an occasional chicken, some guinea hens (my encounter with those is documented here ). Last summer I came across a trail of really nice looking tobacco leaves and contemplated picking them up, taking them home, and trying my hand at homemade cigars, but then I'd have to smoke them, and I don't want to go through that whole quitting thing again. Anyway, on my way home for lunch today I caught up to a farm tractor. This happens two or three times a year, and seems to present me with a dilemma. To pass or not to pass. Now, since I caught up to it, clearly I am going faster, but, at the same time, there is something to be said for just sitting in the draft and enjoying the tow. Tractors push a lot of air out of the way, plus, if the catching was done going up hill, I wonder if I'll really be able to pull out of the draft and into the opposing lane and make the pass safely. So far, as today, I go by. As nice as it is to sit in that still air, going fast is nicer.

The paradox though. I have watched people in cars follow a tractor for miles waiting for a safe place to pass, but on every single ride I go on several drivers will go by me in places where they cannot possibly see oncoming traffic. There are many who pass me, going into the other lane, even when they can see cars coming toward them, nearly causing head on collisions. Like I said - I see this on every ride. So, why will people follow a tractor without much in the way of complaint, but are bothered by a bicycle, especially when the bike is always going faster - usually ten to fifteen mph faster - than the tractor?

Monday, April 05, 2010

Going Retro

One of the biggest drawbacks to commuting, at least with my bike selection, has been shoes. Sometime, way back when I started thinking I'd like to ride "seriously" (whatever that means) I shelled out some outrageous amount of money for Look pedals, shoes, and cleats. I put in the requisite falls, but finally learned how to use them, and never Looked back. Clipless pedals are the only way to go. Except...

Except if you ride to work. That means keeping another pair of shoes to change into when you get there. That's not too bad, but what if you want to stop off at, say, Food Lion on the way home and pick something up? Food, or maybe even PBR when it's on sale (like this week). That means traipsing about the slick floors on even slicker cycling shoes with cleats sticking out of them and trying to stay upright, plus, there really isn't any graceful way to wander around a store with the clomp - clomp of those cleats announcing your every move. Thus, I have relented. I rummaged around the shed and found an ancient pair of platform pedals, stripped the modern Looks off and now, I can wear whatever shoes I please. I think this will work out just fine. Besides, it's only on the commuter.

But wait, that's not all! Sometime, just before getting the Robauix I found a set of aluminum wheels for the Sports 12 (aka Old Blue, aka commuter) and mounted them to save maybe half a pound. Ever since I did that I have been keeping tube manufacturers rolling in money. My money. I have no idea why, but, after only a few hundred miles the tubes fail at the valve stems. The wheels don't have any obvious flaws, but something has to be wrong with them. Today the steel wheels went back on.

So except for the FSA Stronglight compact crank, plenty of rust, and the rear rack (from the Rhode Gear baby seat Sam used to ride into town in for a bottle of apple juice at Quik Chek - "faster Daddy") the bike is pretty much back to it's 1980 roots.

Ought to make a much better commuter - are fenders next?

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Almost took the day off from riding.

A couple of days with temperatures in the mid 70's is all it takes to spoil me. Today's high of 55 seemed almost cold, but that wasn't why I almost didn't ride. It was considered as an excuse, though.

First we went to Sam's Club in the morning and spent a large amount of money on luxury items, otherwise known as groceries. By the time we got home it was like 1:30, and I just didn't feel like going. But I decided to make myself go: I could always do a short ride and come home. Didn't quite work out that way.

I warmed up, even if the weather didn't, and the further I went, the more it looked like a 100k ride might actually be possible, even this early in the year. I stopped once at about 38 miles, for about a minute, to refill a water bottle, but that was the only time I spent off the bike. So I went from not going to ride to doing my firs 100k of the year, without any real planning. My legs are a little tired, but I noticed that they felt stronger on the hills the further into the ride I got. Must have been flushing the rust out. Average speed was 16.5.

Supposed to have some t'storms tomorrow, so any ride will depend on their timing.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

So Close

I skipped the usual Tuesday evening ride. There was something so demotivating about the 26 mph winds and the knowledge that Wednesday would bring even warmer temps, and no wind, that not even my desire to ride could overcome it.

The anticipated weather change actually happened. Seventy-five degrees and light winds prevailed when I got out of work, and not a cloud in the sky. I set out thinking I ought to push a little and see if maybe I could bring my average speed up, but there wasn't any real goal. Three miles in I noticed my average was 16 mph. Not bad. Six miles in it was 17.2. Not bad, again, especially since it was all into what little wind there was. So, I started thinking - how fast can I go? I started pushing. Did a few intervals, pushed hard up the hills, and by 16 miles I was averaging 18.2. Not too bad for this level of fitness, and the extra ten pounds I'm carrying at the moment (gained since about December, and not leaving without a struggle). I actually managed to hold that average up and down some of the hilliest parts of my ride. Right up to mile 26.3. Then there was the 160 feet of climbing over the next 3.3 miles to home, and that drug the average down. I actually was still at 17.9 at the top of the driveway, but it dropped to 17.8 by the time I got to the shed where I store my bikes (and everything else). I wanted that 18 mph average so much. So close. I think if those 10 extra pounds go away it'll make enough of a difference up the hills to let me get there.

There was also 12 miles of commuting, so it's 42 miles for a week day. Not too bad.
The Thursday ride may get postponed too. My legs are a bit tired and a recovery day might be a good idea.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Are They Serious This Time?

According to this report the federal government's new policies for getting highway funds must put the needs of cyclists and pedestrians in the same category as motorists. I hope they really do. How about putting some funds toward educating people that bikes and pedestrians really do belong.

Friday, March 19, 2010


There were no plans for a Friday ride. I almost never ride on Friday. I subscribe to the theories of all the cycling books that you've got to have ride days and recovery days, and it seems to work pretty well. How commuting will work into this remains to be seen, but it is a different type of riding, so I'll just call it recovery riding for now. Right now it's sort of intermittent, any way. So ride days are Saturday and Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. But when I left work this afternoon (a half hour early, shhh, don't tell) it was 75 degrees, no wind, and not a cloud in the sky. What, exactly, was I supposed to do? Stick to my training plan? I didn't think so. As an added incentive to ignore my usual training regimen, I won't be riding tomorrow. We are going to visit UNC Charlotte. It's open house day and it's one of several places my son's been accepted, so it's a road trip starting at 6:30 in the morning, getting home, who knows when.

It was a beautiful ride. The weather was perfect. Thirty miles with an average of 17.1. It was the first time in I can't possibly remember how long that I got to wear shorts and short sleeves and sunscreen.

The ten day forecast looks pretty similar. Looks like I can do a little more work on the cyclist's tan I started today.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Ok, so I did the math. If I commute the three miles to work I actually save about $3.00 a day. That may seem like a lot, but if you take into account that it's four three mile trips ( I come home for lunch - don't you?) for a total of twelve miles, the commuter car is a 1989 Ford Taurus (V6 with bad bearings and 170,000 miles) and the trip is worst case -cold engine, stop and go through town - well, poor gas mileage is a given. But I don't just save money, according to Mr. Garmin I burn a few (well, several) calories. About 700, in fact. Those calories need replacing. Not all of them at the moment since I've got this extra layer of winter blubber to drag up hills (slowly, painfully), so I need to burn a couple more than I put back. What better way to both get rid of my savings and refuel than to buy some beer. Seems like a win to me, especially when I strap it on the commuter bike rack and burn even more calories hauling it home.
I not only got the commute in today, but a quick 13.6 mile ride after work too. While riding to work goes by at a sedate 14.2 mph, the quickie was a bit better at 17.1. Different bikes and different goals, but still riding.
Excuse me while I replenish....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Good News!

Well, good news for those of us whose only alternative to free, over the air TV, is DirecTV, anyway. Versus is back! Channel 603 has two things I tend to watch to the exclusion of anything else. Bicycle racing, and Indycar racing. It's about time they came to their senses. Judging from this list of wholesale prices for cable channels, there ought to be enough profits out there for everyone without resorting to games of chicken. I mean, it looks like, to me, anyway, about five bucks of my $85 dollar DirecTV bill is going for content. Talk about overhead! Yeah, I know, satellites are expensive - it's rocket science after all, but still....

DST is a pretty nice thing too. Got in a nice 27.4 mile ride after work today. it was cloudy, so it was getting a little dim by the time I got home, but I turned on the Planet Bike blinkey, so I felt sort of safe. Still wasn't all that warm, though, just 55 degrees, and with no sun that feels cool. The rest of the week is supposed to be about 70. It's about time.

One of the things that surprises me about this past winter is the over all brownness of everything. This winter everything went dormant. So much of the foliage here stays green and alive, but not this year. I can see through the stands of trees now and through fences that have always been covered with some sort of growth. It's almost like riding in a new area. I see views and fields I've never seen before. There are even houses I never knew existed along my usual routes. Things are beginning to green up and blossom, though, so this new world will vanish once again.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Begin Again

I am slowly shaking off the shackles of seasonal lethargy and beginning to transition back to some level of fitness. This winter's been, well, wintry. We have lived in North Carolina for almost twenty one years and this is the first real winter we've had. Sure there's been cold and even snow, but that was for short periods with mostly lots of warmth in between. This year it turned cold early and stayed cold. It snowed, what, three, four, times in three or four consecutive weeks and, being cold, the snow was in no hurry to melt. So there's been a lot of doing nothing. Through last weekend I'd managed twelve rides this year, and three of those were on the trainer. Last weekend, though, the long awaited warm up began, so Saturday I managed 42.3 miles and Sunday, 34.2. Both were a slow 15.8 mph average and it was really all my legs could take.

The weather cooperated during the week, too, so there were four days of commuting, plus a quick little after work jaunt Tuesday of 13.2 miles. That evening ride was a more reasonable 17.2 average, so, if I can get my endurance back, maybe there will still be some speed. I topped the week off with a 50.3 mile ride today and averaged 16.5 mph. Not too bad given my lack of fitness. Finished the week with 127 miles, the most since the first week of last November.

Clocks get set ahead tomorrow, so longer after work rides are on!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

What would Lance do?

Not what I've been up to, I'll bet. A whole lot of nothing. I hadn't been on a bike since January 19th, and that was riding to work in the afternoon or a total of 6 miles. Snow storms and exceptionally cold weather have made perfect excuses for not riding outside. Setting up the bike on the trainer, well, I'd have to go out to the shed and get the bike, and it's cold out there. There's snow on the ground, and that makes it slippery and I don't want to fall down and hurt myself, now, do I? Ok, maybe it's because I'm lazy, unmotivated and riding inside just isn't any fun.

Yesterday, though, I shamed myself into dragging the bike in and setting it up. Eighteen days without a ride is a long time. I managed a slow (15.5mph) 20 miles, and no, it wasn't any fun, and yes, I am out of shape. So today I decided I'd better do it again. I actually brought the bike in, but before I got a chance to set it up I looked at the thermometer. Forty five degrees, bright sunshine, and a little windy, and I'm setting up the bike to ride indoors? I don't think so. I took the bike back out, put my warm stuff on and set out on a 21 mile ride. My average for this one was 16.4, better than yesterday, but still rough.

I am getting ready to watch the Super Bowl and eat a lot of junk food. I'll need some long rides to burn the calories.

Maybe that is what Lance would do - today, anyway.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Wrap ups and updates

Seems like five days into the new year might be a good time to tally up last years numbers and see where I went. Thanks to the magic of Excel, I don't really have to know what I'm doing. As you can see from the yearly mileage over there, my total was 4877.63 with 213.95 on the trainer. Since my only goal this year was a vague "ride as much as last year" it was surpassed. I'm a little disappointed not to have made 5000, but given the way I've been feeling and the demotivating weather pattern, I suppose not making it is understandable. Either one of those excuses by themselves would not have stopped me. Both of them together ended up being insurmountable. Oh well, there's always next, errr, THIS year. A few other stats:
Number of rides: 164
Average speed for the 4877 miles: 16.48
Highest speed: 39.7 mph
Total time on the bike: 280 hours 13 minutes,
Average ride length: 1.707 hours.
Total calories burned:288805.

Oh, and one race win and gold medal.

I don't know what all that means other than I spent a lot of time on my bike, and I enjoyed every second of it. If I didn't, I'd not have done it.

As for the update, I am now at a whopping 47 miles for the year. Twenty seven on the road and 20 on the trainer. The heartbeat thing is still being evaluated and I get to wear a monitor until January 19. Amazing thing - it comes with a cell phone and is constantly sending my info someplace where someone is keeping an eye on it (or so I was told). I wonder what they think when they see the traces from those two bike rides and heart rates of 170 bpm. One thing is for sure; they'll have some full out exercise data to play with.

Goals for '10? None, really. Same as last year. Except maybe another race win. I'd like that.

Now, if this cold weather ever breaks....