Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Stupid Cold

So, I didn't get to bike in today. I was planning on it, seriously! It's just, when I walked the dogs at 5:00 in the morning, with the ground frozen . . . and when I realized just how cold I was when I got back into the house (even though I was all bundled up), I realized that I don't quite have the gear for truly "cold weather" riding right now.

Tomorrow is supposed to be considerably warmer in the morning . . . can't bike in on Thursday because of choir practice, but I will get in at least one day this week.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Starting to get dark

I think I still have a few weeks of riding left, but I definitely feel the end of the season upon me. Mornings are downright dark -- and while the evenings are generally nice, dusk is usually around the corner by the time I get home. I think the time change (October 19) will be the certain end. I am hoping that I can keep this up until then.

My last ride (Tuesday) was the first ride on the new bike -- today's ride was the first ride without the backpack (I couldn't ride yesterday -- had dinner with the littles). I will admit that the beginning of the ride was really, really weird. It seriously felt like I was missing something. While I have an empty back for many rides -- it's never to work. After today, I really don't know why I waited so long to get a rack -- it's really much easier to ride without a significant weight between your shoulders.

I'll start taking my work clothes home today -- two or three shirts and a pair of pants at a time -- in a week, I should be free from stuff at the office (although I may leave an emergency change of clothes behind). This will be really, really nice when I realize that I need to dress up - but all of my stuff is at the office.

I'll probably finish Slaughterhouse Five on my way home tomorrow night (leaving the office a little early to have dinner with some friends) -- I think Dreams of My Father will be my next one.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

First Day on the New Bike

So, I haven't said much about it, but last Monday I ordered a new bike. I had an hour to kill after meeting Duffy for dinner and symphony rehearsal, so I stopped by the bike shop. I mentioned that I was looking for a "dedicated commuter" that would possibly be able to take me on some medium-sized tours, should I want to go "really, really green" for vacation. They had a Bianchi Volpe from a few seasons ago in a frame my size -- as it was an older model, they had a great deal on it. I bought it.

While my Giant OCR 1 was getting the job done, for the most part, for my daily commute - it was lacking.

  1. First, I'm really, really tired of taking a backpack into the office. After an hour-long ride, my back is disgustingly sweaty.
  2. I have to keep a store of dress clothes at the office - which works most of the time . . . only, should I need a certain shirt or something at home -- well, I'm out of luck. Taking business professional clothes to work in a backpack isn't really going to work.
  3. If I get caught in a sudden rainfall, I end up getting covered in road muck, and the OCR1 does not have enough clearance for fenders.
  4. If I want to go to the grocery store for more than a few items, I have to take a car, because I can only fit what I could fit in the backpack -- and while the OCR1 works for me plus a backpack - I don't know how well that frame would hold up with me, a rack, the backpack, plus a couple of dozen pounds of groceries.

Additionally, even if I did put a rack on the bike - that would make it that much heavier, getting in the way of my long, fun rides. What I was looking for was to make the Giant the "fun" bike, while getting a "utility bike", and that's what the Volpe gives me. The bike is probably between 8 and 12 pounds heavier than the Giant, and it feels like you're riding a two-wheeled tank. But, it is quite responsive, and is actually pretty fast. I miss the carbon-fiber forks absorbing road vibrations -- but, I was looking for utility, and I got it. This bike feels like you can use it for just about anything: from going around the block, to my 20 mile commute to work, to taking it all of the way across the US. Of course, I've only had it for one ride - but it was a fun ride in.

The plan now is to start bringing clothes home from the office. I will always have an "emergency suit" at the office, just in case I should need something at the last minute, but the bulk of my clothes will be home. I'll transport the day's clothing to and from the office in the Two-Wheel Gear Suit Pannier. I found a used one on eBay, and it should arrive tomorrow. I'm looking forward to that. I'll take a couple of shirts a day home -- and I need to see if I pass any dry-cleaners en route.

I am also bidding on a couple of Arkel panniers to allow me greater grocery coverage -- those close in a day, and I think I'm in a pretty good position to win those. In time, I'm going to need a child trailer - which would make grocery shopping really, really easy (heck, you can probably fit more into one of those trailers than you can some car trunks) -- but they're expensive. Of course, the main goal of said trailer would actually be to bring a kid along, but we're not quite there yet.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A "Highly Visible" John

I was going to write about how beautiful it was this morning, but I fear that I'd just sound like a broken record. That said, while it was really, really cold, it was a very, very nice morning.

Duffy wanted to sleep in for a few extra minutes, which meant that I showered first, which also meant that I got an early start to the day. I typically leave the house right around 6:00 in the morning (I get into the office, then, between 7:00 and 7:15 -- depending on how hard I'm pushing myself and how much luck I have with lights), but I started pedaling closer to 5:30 this morning. This is just slightly before sunrise - meaning that I actually had to use my headlamp to aid my visibility (I typically put it on "flash" so that I know people can see me).

A few unexpected things about coming in earlier:

  • the Purina plant hasn't opened yet, meaning that I don't have to smell dog food as I pass
  • all of the breakfast places seem to make super-large quantities of bacon first thing in the morning, so the stomach growls early
  • the big dog who I am convinced can pull free from his chain hasn't been put out in the yard yet

Mmmmmm, bacon.

Anyway -- I am still wearing those silly little tattoo arm warmers (yeah, mom, I'll work on a picture for you), but I also wear a very, very loud orange reflective (and wicking!) shirt. This is on top of the flashing headlamp and blinking rear light. Apparently, drivers can see me as much as half a mile away, if I am to believe the stoplight conversations . . . I actually went so far as to get a lined vest and a bomber jacket made of the same super-reflective material for times when things are even colder than they are these days . . . being seen is important - especially at sunrise.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Stupid Weather

So I had symphony practice last night - which meant that I didn't bike in. However, I did manage to have dinner with my wife - which was a bit of a surprise, so that was nice. Now that my knee is feeling almost completely better, I really thought that I was really going to enjoy a four-day commute.

Whoops.

This morning started out pretty good -- I woke up just after 5:00 with the dogs (well, Snickelfritz decided that 4:30 in the morning was a better time to wake up, but I managed to get myself back to sleep). I knew rain showers were predicted, but I figured if I could get on the road soon enough, I'd avoid them. Well, as I turned the last corner on the walk, the sky lit up with lightning . . . and it's no fun riding in a thunderstorm.

As a plus, when I don't ride in, I do get to get another hour's worth of sleep!

So, I'm hoping to bike in Wednesday through Friday -- let's keep our fingers crossed - the weather looks like it'll cooperate this time round.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Knee Injuries are No Fun

So I hyperextended my knee a little bit on my Monday ride -- it was nothing major, and something I've done before. During one of the climbs, I didn't have good form, was pedaling slowly, and whoops. I didn't think much about it at the time, and I shouldn't be paying much attention to it now.

The injury didn't stop me from biking into work on Tuesday, even though I was very slow coming in. I took pains to ensure that I was always in a low gear, and that my cadence was somewhere between 80 and 90 revolutions per minute the entire time. The ride home was even slower. Yuck. Choir practice meant that I HAD to take the day off, which I think was wise, but then I had to drop my truck off at the shop. Sure, I can carpool with Duffy, but that means breaking up two schedules -- so I biked in yesterday and today.

Now, the knee isn't hurt too badly -- it's a little swollen and a little sore -- I notice it when I stand up, sit down, or walk down stairs. While on the bike, I really only notice it when I have to pedal hard (either when I did not shift into a low enough gear when starting from a dead stop or during a steep climb where I don't have a low enough gear to "not pedal hard").

I pick the truck up today, and then it's going to rain all weekend, so by Tuesday, I should be good as new (Symphony Rehearsal has me driving in on Monday).


I finished Lamb on the way in today . . . now I need my next book -- not sure if I want to head straight back to Christopher Moore . . . I have the Peter and the Starcatchers saga on the iPhone (Duffy just completed it), or I may go off in some other direction. I think tonight's ride will be a music one.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Today's 50 Mile Ride

I have been doing so much of the commute to work stuff that I haven't actually been out for a "fun" ride in quite some time. I figured this morning, with it being Labor Day & everything, it was time to remedy that.

One of my favorite "guaranteed to make me exhausted" rides is what I have dubbed the "Triple Gap Ride", which starts at my house, goes up and down Waggoner's Gap, up and down Doubling Gap, and finishes by completing King's Gap.

I started at about 7:45 -- well over an hour later than I wanted to (which is a big part of why I did not complete the King's Gap portion of the ride), but damnit, it was Labor Day, and sleeping in is allowed. The weather was beautiful - but cold again, with the starting temperature well south of 60°. I actually broke out my Primal Wear Tattoo Arm Warmers, which are quite silly - but they did their job.

Since I have an iPhone, I figured I'd use on the trip, and first took a picture before the first big climb. The ascent up Waggoner's Gap is a 2.5 mile ride from 600 feet above sea level to just over 1400 feet above sea level. I have done this ride before - but, as I said, it's been awhile since I have actually been out "for fun", and I had to catch my breath about midway up, which greatly disappointed me -- previous attempts have been done with only a break at the top. With the break, though, I convinced myself that I'm becoming a better rider, as I was able to start on an uphill without having to retrace my steps.

Next, we have a couple of pictures from the top:


The tower (that you might only barely be able to make out from the first shot)

A marker of the altitude.

A view of the road I just climbed.

The trip from Waggoner's Gap to Doubling Gap / Colonel Denning State Park is a relatively straight-forward trip . . . a few minor climbs, but pretty straight, and pretty level, again about 600 feet above sea level. Then the Doubling Gap ascent began -- and it sucked. See, when you're climbing Waggoner's Gap, you see exactly where you're going and you know what you're getting yourself into. Doubling Gap isn't quite the same -- even though I've done the ride a few times, you don't see the peak anywhere, and the ride starts out like a little itty-bitty hill that you can just power over, only it never stops -- until you're somewhere between 1300 and 1400 feet above sea level and you start climbing down. As you're making the ascent, there are minor crests in the hills -- you're going along at a 8%, or 10% or 12% climb, and you see the break in the road . . . only it gets down to climb in the neighborhood of 1 to 5% -- not nearly enough to allow you to catch your breath or gain some inertia (even though the looks of it allowed you to convince yourself that such was just ahead). It's evil -- I actually had to stop twice on the way up to catch my breath (and allow my heart rate to slow down from about 190 to 130), but I made it.


One view heading down

Another view heading down

A very poor shot of the view from where I was

Anyway, by the time I completed the descent and made it into Newville, it was nearly 10:30, and Duffy & I had volunteered at the Big Brothers / Big Sisters drink tent at the Kipona Festival at 1:00, so I killed the King's Gap part -- there will be other days and other rides. All told, I did a very hilly 53 miles, and I'm a little bit proud of myself for not being exhausted and looking forward to biking in tomorrow. Yeah, I would have liked to make the climbs without breaks, but I'll get there.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Did Not Ride In Today

Normally, me not riding in isn't that big a deal . . . but today seems like one. I had made it 8 workdays in a row, and I was very, very proud of myself. The weather this morning was cold (see previous posts as to how that really isn't a problem), so that's not why I'm here. I'm not that tired, either. No, I have to head offsite to give a presentation.

I have to be at a hotel about a 25 minute car ride from the office. By every estimate I can muster, I'm looking at a 45 minute bike ride - in hilly terrain to get there. I have a hard time justifying being out of the office for several hours for a 30-45 minute talk (in addition to the 45 minutes there, and the 45 minutes back -- I'd need to give myself ample time to get myself ready, in terms of not looking like a sweat-drowned rat). So, this sucks.

I will ride in tomorrow - and then not on Friday, as I'm looking to get a head start on a weekend in Philadelphia (although I also am thinking about taking a half day on Friday, which means that I would be able to ride in -- we shall see). However, with all of this -- how do commuters deal with offsite requirements?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Things I Will Not Do

Today begins my second week of "bike every day" madness. I don't anticipate anything coming up that will force me to drive. Next week, we have the holiday on Monday - but I'll have to drive on Wednesday due to choir rehearsal. That said, I should be able to manage those three days - and then I should be able to handle Tuesday through Friday for the rest of the month (can't do Mondays because of symphony rehearsal).

But I am writing because of a disturbing bicyclist trend: leg shaving. I understand, if you're racing, that there may be some psychosomatic benefit of shaving your legs . . . you'll feel more aerodynamic. Heck, you probably would be more aerodynamic - I mean, the drag from all that leg hair might add two or three seconds to a century ride - and those last two or three seconds are the worst!

I realize that bicyclists have nice legs, and that most bicyclists are vain at some level. Heck - even before I started biking, I had nice legs (one of the benefits of being overweight, I guess, is that your legs need to work harder to take you from point A to point B than Skinny Jim's do . . . and when you prefer to walk places than to use a telephone, the steps add up), and right now my calves can best be described as "turkey legs". I'm quite proud of the way they look - but I'm not about to shave, just to make them stand out more.

Today's ride was much nicer than any of the rides last week. Even though I got rained on for a little bit (and I'm half-dreading the storms they're calling for tonight), the temperature never dropped below 55°, and that is a lot more bearable. Still, after last week's temperatures (I'm still convincing myself that it's August), I bought myself some knickers (or really long bike shorts), a few head scarves, some arm warmers, a reflective bomber jacket, and a fleece-lined reflective vest. I will deal with the cold -- it's the dark that scares me.

Friday, August 22, 2008

When I Will Not be Riding

This is my first week with five commutes - and I'm feeling great. Sure, my times have gotten progressively worse (ranging from 1:02:00 to 1:11:00), and the soreness in my legs happens to be at a new extreme -- but I'm quite happy with things thus far. Assuming $3.60/gallon gas prices and 15 miles to the gallon, I have saved myself $48.00. I will have burned approximately 7,500 calories, and I will have given myself a good excuse to be smug all weekend.

But I wanted to discuss when I will not be riding. As I see it, there are always going to be situations where I must drive into work. I'm sure some of the more hardcore riders will belittle these reasons, but I find them legitimate.

  1. The West Shore Symphony Orchestra
    I am a bassist. While I'm still dealing with the after-affects of an elbow injury, I recently started playing again for the first time in years. The problem with being a bassist and a bicyclist is that it's really, really difficult to carry around a six foot tall instrument while pedaling. It looks like every Monday, during concert seasons -- I will be driving into work.
  2. The Winter
    I am not afraid of the cold (and yes, I know that "cold" cannot be defined by "cold August mornings"). The staff at Ice Bike have more than enough information and reviews to ensure that I would be able to brave about any weather situation comfortably and safely. No - my issue with the winter is the damn dark . . . as it is, I will commonly find myself riding shortly before sunrise or dusk -- dark enough that I wouldn't dream of wearing my sunglasses. At these times, I turn on my flashing head and rear lights -- but that doesn't mean that drivers are paying attention. 5:30 AM in December is practically pitch black . . . as is 5:30 PM (nevermind that I am lucky if I get home by 6:30 PM). I'm fairly confident that I can keep this riding up for MOST of the year -- but I have a feeling that my legs will be dark from mid-November to mid-March. Well, I'll work on the stationary bike, just to keep muscles from atrophying -- but, I probably won't get on the road much. Maybe in time, I'll feel better about riding in the dark. I don't think it will happen this winter.
  3. Choir Rehearsal
    For much the same reason that winters are not going to be good for my riding plans - choir rehearsal is likely going to get in the way, too. I'm the organist at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, which is a 9 month a year gig. It looks like, this season, we're going to rehearse a couple of times a month on Wednesday nights -- which means that I won't be getting on the road until 10. I may ask the choir director (who lives in Carlisle) to take me home (placing my bike in the back of her van) on these days . . . but I'm going to at least let the first rehearsal go by before I really figure out the plans there.
  4. When I need new clothes
    I keep most of my work clothes at the office these days. I have a 20 mile ride, each way. Dress shoes, dress pants, dress shirt, belt, and tie probably weigh four or five pounds all together (this on top of the backpack with the laptop in it). That's weight that I don't need to carry. Keeping everything at the office works really well -- except when it is laundry time. I think I can keep about two weeks worth of business clothes here. Hopefully, I can time the need to pick up/drop off clothes with the times that I have to drive in for bass-related reasons.
  5. Other Appointments
    There aren't too many times when I need to be somewhere "not easily bike accessible" immediately after work -- but these situations come up . . . hopefully, they'll be few & far between.
  6. Injury / General Tiredness
    Fortunately, in the few months that I've been playing around with this bicycle commuting thing, I've been relatively injury free. After some major rides, I've been pretty sore - but never to the point where I dreaded getting on the bike. That said, there have been times when I just told myself that I was "too tired" to bike into work. I think that's why I forced myself to do this all week - just to tell myself that it could be done. Now that I've done it, I'm going to try to do it more & more often. I figure, at some point, the soreness leaves - the problem is that each day I seem a little more sore than the last . . . but after a weekend, I think I'll be able to get right back on the roads next week.
  7. Weather Conditions
    While "winter conditions" aren't really a concern this year, as I'm not planning on riding in the middle of winter, thunderstorms aren't a whole lot of fun to ride in. If they're calling for abnormal amounts of rain, and it's crappy weather in the morning, I won't come in . . . but the weather druids are wrong more often than not -- so it's that morning call that really dictates what I'll do.

So, that leaves selected Mondays for symphony practice, selected Wednesdays for choir practice, and truly crappy weather days. I'm hoping between those, the "injury/tired" days will disappear . . . we shall see.

In other news, I think I'm going to stop by the tattoo place on the way home tonight. :-)

Child John to the Dark Tower Completed

Well, just finished Stephen King's Magnum Opus, and I loved it - even the "not 'Happily Ever After'" ending . . . it just seemed to fit. Ka is a wheel . . . as is the Dark Tower.

I guess I'm left to think what my own dark tower is -- what am I to reach for? I do think I have some great work inside of me -- part of me hates that I've never found the discipline to actually orchestrate the symphony running through my head -- or the novel that I know I can pen out. Of course, with a child coming, is my tower fatherhood? No, I think not -- fatherhood is certainly important - much like the beams. The tower falls without the beams. Fatherhood will shape my great work, but I don't know if it will be my great work.

I think what I find most striking of this entire series is King's just "this is what I'm doing" approach. I mean - it's awesome to create a story based on every story that has crossed through your head, place yourself into the middle of said story, belittle yourself, turn the major events of your own life into key plot points, and not make it ever seem cheap is quite a feat. I really, really enjoyed these books. Even if you haven't liked King's works (and lets face it, I don't think anybody out there has failed to read at least a single King work), this is different. Sure, there are parts horror -- but parts love story, and suspense, and science fiction. All in all, it was just really fun literature.

I will say that getting through several of his other works made my experience different than somebody who might be coming in blindly. In 'Salem's Lot, you know that Father Callahan's story isn't really complete - in fact, you think he's a bit of an asshole for fleeing . . . seeing him again felt good. The eeriness of the post-Captain Trips world of The Stand made you shiver (speaking of The Stand - are all of the survivors those with The Shining, or is it that everybody "Shines" a little?). And tell me - were Pennywise and Dandelo the same . . . or at least of the same species?

Just a great, great read -- now I'm onto Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. An incredible change of pace from where I just was.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Plane! The Plane!

So, I'm thinking about a tattoo.

Specifically, I'm thinking about a bicycle chain tattoo. Riding a couple of hundred miles a week means that I have a constant "rookie tattoo" on the inside of my right calf. Each time I stop my bike, I unclip my left leg, and my right leg ends up resting against the chain. I could stop this, but it's become part of my ride, and by the time I think "damnit, I'm smearing grease all over my calf", it's already too late.

The tattoo I'm contemplating would basically make this truly permanent (right now, I can wash off the "tattoo" if I feel like taking more than 2 or 3 minutes in the shower . . . but that's time that I can be spending on the road). It would start at the back of my calf, twist around the inside, ending right before the calf bone (I should know the actual name of said bone, and I probably do . . . but damn if I can remember). The path would look like a chain that is actively cutting into my leg . . . so we're looking at some blood droplets thrown in for good measure.

I know the anti-tattoo contingent out there are quite vocal:

  1. What about when you get old and wrinkly
  2. What happens when you change your mind
  3. Won't you feel stupid when you stop cycling?
  4. You work in a professional environment - you're going to get laughed at!
. Taking each of these in order:
  1. I don't think my calf skin is ever really going to get wrinkly -- if so, something went wrong with the aging process
  2. The whole point is that I'll be very careful about what is designed and what I put on my body -- I've been thinking about this for MONTHS, and if I do go through with it, it will be because I'm confident that I want it
  3. I don't ever plan to stop cycling -- I really am having that much fun out there, day-in and day-out. Injuries heal -- and if I have something so bad that I can't get on a bike at all . . . well, shoot - I'll always have a reminder of something that I really enjoyed doing
  4. The inside of my calf never-ever presents itself at a business meeting

Of course, Duffy has always harbored the thought of a tattoo for herself . . . and has offered to get one along with me. I pass a pretty highly rated place on the way home - I may stop in one of these days to explain what I want, see what I'm looking at, cost-wise . . . we'll see. I'll keep you all posted.

Those Cold August Mornings?

So, I've been ignoring things here . . . and I feel like kicking myself. I haven't given up biking in the least -- just haven't been posting anything about it. To date, I have put 1,596 miles on the bike (those little bicycle computers are really neat), and I'm averaging somewhere between two and three commutes into the office.

This week, however, I have vowed to bike in every day. I didn't have any big nighttime commitments (and the one that popped up -- dinner with family -- was right smack on my way home), and Duffy is about to start school (meaning that my mornings might get a little more hectic with puppy duty). With it being August and everything, this seemed like the perfect time of year to do it -- I am generally on the road early enough so that things aren't too hot, and then I can just take my time getting home, dealing with the heat.

At least, that was what I told myself when this all started. The weather has been beautiful this week -- highs in the low-to-mid 80's, and barely a cloud in the sky. The only issue is that temperatures, prior to 7:00, barely register above 50°. This morning, my little bicycle computer claimed that things dropped to 42° on the way in (as I was biking alongside a swiftly running stream). That is cold - very cold. Heck, it is the middle of August, in Pennsylvania, and I wore a freaking sweatshirt into the office!

Still, though - I'm enjoying the biking . . . a lot. With gas prices pulling back, it isn't quite as painful to drive into the office - but the economics of the situation were never the primary factor. I just like being on a bike and love being able to squeeze a workout into the day without having to find time to work out.

I'm nearly complete with The Dark Tower by Stephen King. I am completely addicted to the story at this point. I've actually been listening to the seven books, on and off, since I started this little escapade, so it is going to be sad to move onto something else. Roland, Susannah, Eddie, Jake, and Oy all feel like friends to me. Oh, well -- I think Christopher Moore is up next, just for a change of pace. I have yet to meet somebody who claims to have disliked any of his books.

For anybody who checks in often - I promise I will get better about posting.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Song of Susannah

I know I've said this before, but one of the great side-benefits of biking into work is that I get to listen to audiobooks -- and I do this for hours a day, each day that I ride (a typical day, with the current route that I'm taking, has me on the road for about 2.5 hours). I just completed Stephen King's Song of Susannah from The Dark Tower. A lot of people said that they started to get tired of the story right around here, but I'm completely hooked -- well, the beginning of the book was maybe a little difficult to get through, but I'm fully into it now. The pieces have just been set up so wonderfully.

I have my average speed coming into the office up to about 18.5 miles per hour -- on the straightaways, I'm keeping things well over 20, so I think all is good. I have gotten a lot of questions about weight loss while I ride (see previous posts about how I'm trying really, really hard to avoid even looking at my weight), and I can say that there is certainly less fat on my body these days. However, my skin isn't quite elastic, so I have a bunch of loose skin - it's incredibly sexy.

Anyway, it's a beautiful day today, so the riding was wonderful (would have been great yesterday, too -- but I'll gladly sacrifice a day of riding to play with a symphony.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

1,000 Miles

Well, my bike has passed the one-thousand mile mark. Three tubes, a replaced rear tire (because of the damn tube problem), a few nicks, a few very low-speed crashes (only thing ever hurt was my own dignity . . . I think I'm finally used to the damn clipless pedals), and a whole lot of fun.

This is the week for milestones, though -- yesterday morning, I finally made it to the office in under an hour. I swear, I hit my stopwatch and it was at 00:59:58.14. That wasn't much under that milestone, but it was what I was aiming for. Of course, I changed up my route this morning -- only added a half mile, but it was a pretty hilly half mile, and consequently, I added twelve minutes to my commute this morning. That said, with the construction on Trindle Road, and the reduced traffic on Schoolhouse Road, I think this may be a permanent change.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

When Ignoring One's Weight

Those of you who know me know that I've had some weight issues through my life. See, ever since I was a little kid, "eating" was one of my favorite activities (in fact, I remember going through a scrapbook from a young age -- soon after I had learned to write (and therefore, when I had good handwriting), "eating" was listed as one of the things I liked best). My highest recorded weight was 287 pounds -- although I probably broke 300 at one point. My lowest recorded weight since I've been 18 was 174. I know that I weighed somewhere north of 260 a few months ago, as I was at a doctor's appointment. But, I'm trying to completely ignore my own weight.

Reading Junkfood Science has really put a new spin on things for me. I mean, I've always known that BMI was bullshit - but just reading about how much of the "obesity crisis" is a media creation is quite scary. I mean, it is illegal to be fat in Japan! And, that 33.5 guideline -- even at my lightest, I wouldn't have passed that test. Mind you, I don't know how many Japanese males are 6'3" (now I have "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" running through my head), but I'm not reading anywhere that height is taken into consideration.

So, where was I going with this? Oh, yeah -- I'm biking into work. Now, I've been on the Wii Fit lately, because it's damn fun. The only thing is that it measures your BMI - and I'm considering just skipping the daily body test, so that my BMI is never calculated. After the issues I've had with weight, I really don't care what I weigh anymore. My goals are:

  • Exercise when I can
  • When exercising, push myself within my means, but never to the point where I may get burnt out or injured
  • Try to eat more fiber than saturated fat
  • Eat less meat
  • Limit salt intake
  • Limit my alcohol intake

Each of those goals has an ulterior motive, though:

  • Working out: look good on the beach, feel better about myself when I have to run up flights of stairs for an urgent meeting, be better in bed
  • Avoiding injury: seems self explanatory
  • Lower saturated fat/salt intake: I have a history of heart problems from both sides of the family tree -- no need to tempt fate
  • Eat less meat: feel less guilty about eating meat
  • Lower alcohol consumption: lower tolerance so that I get drunk faster

Right now, a lot of my friends & coworkers are commenting that I'm getting "skinny", but I don't know . . . although I feel like a schmuck when I'm asked how much weight I've lost and I have to answer that I haven't a clue. I'm going to try to stick with these goals for awhile -- while enjoying my favorite activity of "eating", and just see where things take me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Didn't Bike In

The disaster recovery was a disaster -- but we finally got everything working at the very end . . . meaning that we didn't leave the site until nearly 7:00. This meant that I got home a little past midnight.

I slept in. I did not feel guilty about it. However, I'll probably be leaving work early and getting a nice afternoon ride in. Or a nap. I haven't figured that part out yet.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

When trapped without a bike

I'm in the middle of the woods right at the NJ/NY border near the Tappan-Zee bridge. Here, I'm in the middle of a disaster recovery drill. The area is absolutely beautiful and it stormed last night, meaning that today was clear, cool, and non-humid. I miss my bike.

Of course, at a disaster recovery drill, especially when things aren't exactly going well, I find myself eating a ton of crap, drinking about 10 times as much as usual, and not working out. I miss my bike.

We should get back into PA tonight, and I will bike into work Wednesday/Thursday -- and I might try to get Friday in, too. I miss my bike.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bicyling Pictures

I'm hesitant to post these just because I think I've lost about twenty pounds since they've been taken, but here is a photo of me at the finish line from the Tour de Cure and here I am on the course.

Gas Prices

Gas prices reached $4.049 / gallon in Pennsylvania today . . . meaning that I'm saving $10.75 in gas today. In actuality, though, money savings might actually be significantly bit higher when I bike in. Sure, there's stuff like automotive maintenance, but I'm talking about lunch here -- when I bike in, I really force myself to keep to whatever food I can bring with me and/or keep at the office (and, because food is relatively heavy, I typically try to keep fruit, granola bars, oatmeal, and the like at the office at all times). Those of you how know me know that I have a healthy appetite -- and I wouldn't be surprised if I save an additional $6/day in food alone when I bike in.

Of course, today is different, as my wonderful wife drove in with Wyatt to have lunch with me. See, we participate in a veggie box, and they included strawberries in this week's package. Being me, I left them at home, so she offered to bring them to me, and we had lunch while she was here. I'm still not sure if the following counts as a "salad", but it was good, and biking 20 miles in 90° heat will undo most of the damage:

  • salad greens
  • carrots
  • tomato
  • steak
  • bacon
  • bleu cheese crumbles
  • onion rings
  • bleu cheese dressing
  • honey oat roll with butter
It was yummy, if not exactly "healthy" like a salad is supposed to be.

Another real benefit of the ride is the audiobooks that I'm listening to -- mind you, I typically am listening to some sort of audiobook whenever I'm in the car, but spending two hours listening really makes for good progress. Right now, I'm about midway through Wolves of the Calla, book five of Stephen King's Dark Tower series. It's the best of the books thus far - I absolutely love how he intertwines characters and plots from his other stories without ever making the stories actually reliant on those other items. I mean, so far, there have been clear references to The Stand and 'Salem's Lot, and I'm sure there have been a bunch more. King just brings back memories of these stories, but never forgets that he's telling his own, new story. Anyway, the books are fun. Now, I need George R. R. Martin to finish up A Dance with Dragons from his Song of Ice and Fire series.

Beautiful Mornings & Wii Fit

I know I've said this before, but there really isn't anything that beats collecting your thoughts to a gorgeous sunrise while working out. Even if you're doing so on the way to work. Today, I nearly broke that one hour barrier that I've been gunning for. Well, that's not accurate, I do not push myself on the way into work. My goal is to come into the office relaxed and not drenched in sweat (as it is, I'll generally get in and sit in the A/C for a good 10 minutes before I even think about changing into my work clothes). Still, though, making the commute in an even hour is a goal I'd like to attain.

It's funny, though -- on the way back home, when I will push myself as hard as I can, breaking the hour barrier is near impossible. First off, the weather is much hotter, so I need to watch myself. Second, there is about a 400 foot difference between the office and home -- meaning that the entire path is just slightly uphill for most of the way. But, the biggest issue is that I am in rush-hour traffic (well, not in it, but alongside it). The roads I ride have very cozy shoulders, but that doesn't start / stop the traffic lights. I'd say that on my typical ride home, I spend 15-20 minutes just stopped, waiting for the light to change. Of course, I also take an alternate, less-direct, much less trafficked, and hillier path home. It might be awhile before I manage to break the one hour mark there -- still haven't broken 1:15.

I also love the Wii Fit. Nintendo has really figured out how to make something fun, addictive, and good for you -- it's really spectacular. Of course, there is some level of Japanese bluntness (the damn thing no longer calls me "obese", just "overweight), and I get yelled at if I don't log in every day. Due to my arm issues, I can't quite do the pushups that it asks me to -- so I'm called "weak", but still - the thing is a blast. In fact, depending on what you're doing, working up a sweat is quite easy, even if you don't realize that you're doing it. Anyway, my current "Wii Fit Age" is 43, which makes me sad -- but I'll get that down . . . I think it's so high because I am as unbalanced as a one-legged piano.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Week After the Tour

Actually been meaning to post for the past couple of days, and just never got around to it. The day after the Tour, I took myself on a 30 mile bike ride -- this started as something where I just wanted to get my legs moving, and ended up with me just "going". I even biked to work on Monday -- then I hurt my knee. I'm still not sure what I did, but somewhere along the way to the office, my knee started aching. Then, it ached all day and I biked home slowly. Since it still ached a little the next day, and I figured it might be best to take a day off. The thing is, the weather was absolutely beautiful on Monday and on Tuesday. I remember sitting in my office all day Tuesday calling myself a wuss.

Wednesday was threatening to rain all day, so driving in was a little easier to explain in my head (especially through the downpour from about 11 through 2). The thing that sucked, however, was that things were actually quite pleasant while I would have been on the road.

While it is very humid today, and is threatening to rain, I still biked in, as I won't be able to tomorrow. I'm noticing that my average and maximum heart rates during the journey are declining, the number of calories I'm burning is declining, while my time stays about the same -- this leads me to think that I'm just getting into better shape - which I certainly can't complain about.

Comparing myself at this point last year, I think I was still catching my breath by this point a year ago. In fact, I recall heading out to dinner with my father in law a day or two after the Tour and him commenting about a bike ride that his brother wanted to take him on -- I believe it was "Across Wisconsin in 6 days" or something like that. At the time, I agreed with my father in law. A 60 mile ride in one day seemed like enough for a month. After last year's ride, I didn't get on my bike again until at least two weeks later. After this year's ride, though, I couldn't wait to get back on the road, though. Funny how a little bit of discipline will change you.


For anybody who might be interested, my playlist from the Tour de Cure
ArtistTrack
AerosmithBack In The Saddle
AerosmithDude (Looks Like A Lady)
AerosmithEat The Rich
AerosmithLivin' on The Edge
AerosmithLove In An Elevator
AerosmithPink
AerosmithRag Doll
AerosmithSweet Emotion
AerosmithWhat it takes
Alice CooperPoison
Alien Ant FarmSmooth Criminal
Beastie BoysFight For Your Right (To Party)
Beastie BoysIntergalactic
Beastie BoysSabotage
BeatlesA Day in the Life
BeatlesAll Together Now
BeatlesCome Together
BeatlesHey Jude
BeatlesI Am The Walrus
BeatlesIn My Life
BeatlesI've Just Seen A Face
BeatlesLucy in the Sky with Diamonds
BeatlesRevolution
Black CrowesShe Talks to Angels
Bon JoviLivin' On A Prayer
Bon JoviWanted Dead Or Alive
Charlie Daniels BandThe Devil Went Down to Georgia
Def LeppardPour Some Sugar On Me
DMXParty Up (Up In Here)
Dr. Dre (feat. Eminem)Forgot About Dre
Elvis PresleyA Little Less Conversation (JXL Remix)
EminemLose Yourself
EminemSquare Dance
EminemWithout Me
EverlastBlack Jesus
EverlastWhat It's Like
Faith No MoreEpic
Frankie Goes to HollywoodRelax
FugeesThe Score
George ThoroughgoodOne Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer
Geto BoysDamn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta
GorillazClint Eastwood
Guns N' RosesLive and Let Die
Guns N' RosesParadise City
Guns N' RosesSweet Child O' Mine
Guns N' RosesWelcome To The Jungle
Guns N' RosesYou Could Be Mine
Ice CubeIt Was a Good Day
James BrownLiving In America
Jay ZCan I Get A...
Jay Z Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)
Juelz SantanaThe Second Coming
Kanye WestJesus Walks
Kid RockBawitaba
Kid RockCowboy
Living ColourCult of Personality
Men At WorkDown Under
Midnight OilBeds Are Burning
NWABoyz in the Hood
NWAStraight Outta Compton
OasisChampagne Supernova
OutkastMs. Jackson
OutkastThe Whole World
PixiesWhere Is My Mind
Public EnemyFight the Power
Puff DaddyCome With Me
QueenAnother One Bites the Dust
QueenI Want It All
QueenUnder Pressure
QueenWe Are the Champions
QueenWe Will Rock You
Quiet RiotCum On Feel The Noise
Red Hot Chili PeppersAeroplane
Red Hot Chili PeppersBlood Sugar Sex Magik
Red Hot Chili PeppersBreaking The Girl
Red Hot Chili PeppersCalifornication
Red Hot Chili PeppersCan't Stop
Red Hot Chili PeppersGive It Away
Red Hot Chili PeppersScar Tissue
Red Hot Chili PeppersSuck My Kiss
Rolling StonesPaint It Black
Rolling StonesStart Me Up
Run D.M.C. (feat. Aerosmith)Walk This Way
Sam KinisonWild Thing
Skid Row18 and Life
Snoop DoggGin and Juice (featuring Dr. Dre)
t.A.T.u.All The Things She Said
Tom PettyLast Dance With Mary Jane
TotoAfrica
U2Sunday Bloody Sunday
Van HalenJump
Warren G (feat. Nate Dogg)Regulate
ZZ TopLegs

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Tour de Cure

I made it -- 62.5 miles in four hours & 20 minutes, and that included all of the rest stops. I'm quite proud of myself. The only thing that really don't work out was the weather. I spent the most scenic portion of the ride biking through a torrential thunderstorm. I was waterlogged. As a plus, the weather was so miserable that I held a significantly faster pace than I thought I was capable of holding.

Last year's tour really kicked my butt. But, rather than blame the after-affects on the fact that my training regimen consisted of following a 12 mile ride every-other week with a six pack of beer, I blamed the bicycle I was riding and King's Gap. I have upgraded my bicycle from a Cannondale Hybrid to a Giant Road Bike (that certainly makes the goings easier), but being out of shape is being out of shape - there is no way around it. I found this to be especially true as I went up King's Gap. This is an approximate 1,200 foot climb over 4 miles - daunting if you're not used to it, but not "difficult" to most bicycle riders. I got to the top of the mountain and stopped only because I felt like I should - but I was ready for a lot more. This was a "regular old ride", nothing that required the psychological prep work that I had gone through. It was a beautiful ride, true - but nothing to write home about.

Last year, though, geez -- I was having issues keeping any sort of cadence going (the only one that I was able to get to work for me was about 30 RPM -- I see now how people were able to fly right past me), it felt like my balls had been permanently relocated to a space 6 inches inside my lower intestine, and my heart was just about done with me. This year, it was just a fun little climb.

It was on the way down the mountain, though, that it started raining. I knew I was in trouble about 12 miles into the ride (well before the King's Gap climb) when I was coasting along and then really had to start pedaling just to keep straight - the wind had gone into "fierce" mode. That died down after a few minutes, so I figured the worst had past. I was wrong. As I started down King's Gap, little droplets started falling . . . nothing major, just a reminder that rain was called for that day. About 10 minutes past the entrance to the mountain, though, I stopped at the rest station and the rain started falling a little bit harder. I kept cover until things appeared to be lightening up, got back on the road, and then the thunder started. I know people who are diehard bicycle commuters, and they're prepared for any sort of weather, but I don't see how you plan for this. I was having difficulty seeing much beyond 20 feet in front of me, the raindrops were cold and they stung. By this point, I had met up with a few other riders, and we kept with each other for awhile. My original intent was to keep my speed around 16-18 mi/hr while riding . . . when you add in the rest stops, the entire loop would have taken me anywhere between 4:45 and 5:00 to complete at that pace. The last 35 miles of the ride, however, had me biking anywhere between 19 and 24 mi/hr -- I just wanted out of that weather. Braking distances went up significantly, drivers were being crazy -- I turned on every light that I had (just because a 250 pound rider with a bright orange bicycling jersey wasn't enough in these conditions). After about two hours of the downpour, the skies did lighten up, and the last half hour was actually a pleasant commute -- although kicking up water & road dirt with your wheels doesn't make for cleanliness at the end of the day.

I completed everything in 4:20, burned somewhere north of 3,300 calories, and I'd say that I finally felt "clean" after the fourth time I scrubbed my body in the shower. I was just covered in road grime.

Still, though, I had a blast, and I managed to raise more than $600 for diabetes research. The only thing is that I really wonder what happened in the organizational aspect of this year's Tour. The only truly "helpful" person was just some asshole at the beginning of the ride telling everybody to grab a cue sheet at the top of his lungs. Nobody else seemed to know anything about what was going on. When I stopped at the rest stations, they were all horribly unprepared (no buckets to dispense water with, no cups, in one case, the rest area was completely empty). Two turns had very misleading cue marks. When I got back to the end of the ride (the 25k scheduled for 10:00 was canceled due the weather and the fact that there were tornado warnings), there was no area for check in (so I can't be certain that they're not out there looking for me right now), and I found out that riders were told to "take more direct routes back to the school" on account of the weather. First of all - I wasn't told that, even though I stopped at each of the very under-prepared rest stops, and I wouldn't have had a clue as to how to get from point X (being anywhere along the tour) back to Yellow Breaches Middle School in the most direct route.

Still, though, I had a blast -- even had enough in me to bike to the grocery store that afternoon to pick up lunch supplies, and I'm just dying to get back out on the road again.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Need to Bike in more Often

On a morning like this morning, I really wonder why I don't bike in more often. It was beautiful. There was a little chill to the air, but just enough to keep you from getting too hot while biking -- this morning was great.

I would have biked in yesterday, but I was having tire issues. On Wednesday evening, I checked my pressure, and I was a little low on the rear tire - so I added some air. On Thursday morning, my rear tire was f-l-a-t. Ok, no problem -- walked the bike back to the house, called out Jeremy (who has a little more experience working with bikes) and we changed the tire after a few minutes. I start on my way again, and over the first hill I hear a *poof* and nearly fall off . . . ah, a blowout. I walk the bike back home, throw it on the truck, and make my way into work.

Over lunch, I go over to the bike shop, where they fix me up and get me a spare tube (didn't charge me for the original tube, as they believe that it may have been defective from the start), but by the time I've driven back to the office, my rear wheel is flat again. I drive back to the bike shop (coming back late from lunch be damned) and they replace the rim liner from a plastic one to a cloth one. I'm not entirely sure how that was the issue, but things went really well on a test ride last night and then this beautiful morning.

With the price for a gallon of regular unleaded hitting $3.966 in Pennsylvania, and with my truck getting 15 miles to the gallon, and with a 40 mile round trip to work, I am saving $10.50 / day that I commute. I really need to do this more than once a week. I think it's plausible to get in four days next week. Especially if I start sleeping in another 15 minutes so that I can trick my body into wanting to get up, I think this plan can work.

Today's Riding Stats
Today's Pre-Blog Mileage:
Anticipated Post-Blog Mileage:
Listening to: by

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Ride

So, I did manage to get out on Memorial Day and at least start the ride that I wanted. I made it up Waggoner's Gap then up Doubling Gap (taking my first rest stop on that path). However, as I went down 233 toward Newville, the road was detoured. By the time the roads resolved themselves, I was actually in Carlisle, with little desire to bike an additional 25 miles. So, I stopped it there. At the end of the day, here is the path I took. I had no idea that the area around Colonel Denning State Park was as beautiful as it was -- the ride really was something, even as I sucked wind.

Saturday was fun, too -- Duffy & I hopped over to the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail. This is an old railway that has been converted into a very nice & peaceful packed-stone trail. After eating something that didn't agree with me on Friday night (and dealing with a stressful office situation all day Saturday), I wasn't much up for a super workout, so Duffy & I had an actual "date" (normally when we look at riding together, I get in trouble because my legs allow me to pedal much faster than my wife). This was a well-shaded trail without any hills, and was just a very pleasant 18.5 mile ride (although Duffy was complaining about a sore butt at the end of it). I have a feeling we'll be visiting often when we finally have some children of our own.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I hate the wind, sometimes

Didn't bike in today, because I'm picking up the littles after work -- and trying to get a 7th grader & a 9th grader into one of those little pull-behind carts so that I can bike them home seems impractical. Still, though, I had to buy gas today $80.00 . . . we'll see if I can bike in more often.

Yesterday, though, sucked coming home from work. First, my chain slipped heading up the hill immediately outside of the office. I got things back on, but due to my inability to begin pedaling while heading uphill, I had to walk to the top of the hill. Then, I was afraid to shift at all, so I went straight to the bike shop. After an hour's worth of adjustments (having me try things immediately after each), we think things are better - and I can say that I biked home without incident. Well, it was windy.

I swear, the wind was mocking me.

It just seemed that, no matter which direction I was heading, the wind shifted to be blowing directly at me -- and there was a true correlation between how hard I was pedaling (e.g. during a climb) and how hard the wind was blowing (the news listed gusts at 35mph, and I'd believe it, as there were times that I really had to concentrate on just keeping a straight ride). I will admit that I never really care much about speed - but I always track it. A relaxed ride will have me traveling between 14 and 16 miles per hour. If I push myself a little, that number gets pretty close to 18. If I'm pedaling all out on a flat surface, I'll see 22-28 mi/hr. I tried pedaling as hard as I could, on flat surfaces yesterday, and I couldn't get above 15 mi/hr. Yuck.

Still, though - $80 for a fill-up. I hope to bike in three days next week (plus a 100km ride on the holiday).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Not liking cold mornings

Biked in this morning -- 20 miles in just over an hour, so my pace is certainly improving. Not taking a super-hilly course helps with that, too. :-)

My big complaint, though is the temperature at that time (well, the waking up before 5:00 is a complaint in itself). 40-45° Fahrenheit is just a difficult temperature to deal with. It's cold enough that your fingers/toes really don't like it, and you can see your breath, and it's generally yucky. However, it's just warm enough that extra pairs of socks, or full-coverage gloves are too much. Actually, I might have to look into full-coverage cycling gloves, rather than the open-fingered cycling gloves + full glove contraption that I'm currently using.

Breaking new speeds was great, but I lost my sunglasses somewhere on the journey. That said, I need to head back to the bike shop on my way home (second gear still is not my friend), so I should be able to pick up cycling-specific glasses . . . anything to keep the damn road dirt out of my eyes.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Weekend Route

Been playing around with Google Maps and have come up with what I think will be a neat little warmup for the Tour de Cure. Considering that I haven't gotten on the road since a quick ride on Sunday, doing this loop should help my confidence. Here, we have about 60 miles with three significant climbs, two state parks (Colonel Denning and King's Gap), and some awesome scenery. With that under my belt, I should be able to keep up a minimal training schedule through the week (maybe bike in 2 or 3 days of the four day work week) and still get through the 100km tour without any problems. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bike Shop

So, they managed to fix my bike over lunch . . . I'm skeptical. The bike involuntarily shifted between the medium and small (easy) gear on the front. This is doubly bad. When it does it, the bike goes through a very jerky movement, and since I'm usually climbing a rough hill when this occurs, I lose momentum (and, considering my size, momentum is the only thing "helping" me as I climb a hill). Next, this also happens from the small gear -- but there is no smaller gear to go to, so I lose the chain when it happens. Because of this, I've been avoiding shifting into front first gear (putting a chain back on is a pain in the butt). We'll see if things are any better. This was "fixed" by adjusting the tension on front cables, we'll see. Hopefully, this will also fix the slipping problem I've been having with the middle-front gear.

If nothing else, though, this issue has forced me into the big gear on front, which means heavier pedaling, which means more leg work.


It's raining pretty good today, but it should stop sometime overnight -- I'm hoping to bike into work tomorrow and Thursday -- then we're having our "Littles" overnight on Friday. I'm actually hoping to do a metric century with some monster hills on Saturday, just to get my legs in shape a week before the Tour de Cure. I'd start at the house, head up and over Waggoner's Gap, head down 233 through and past Newville, finally turning onto Pine, going up (and down) King's Gap before returning home. This is a hillier version of the tour, but should give me a good bit of confidence heading into the 31st.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Junkfood Science

I stumbled upon a blog titled Junkfood Science. This is a well-written, well-researched blog that essentially claims that

  1. The "obesity epidemic" is a drug company & media created monster (can certainly agree with that)
  2. Any study that claims the benefit of a certain diet or eating pattern or body image was probably funded by a company with a vested interest in a certain skew of the findings (again, no real argument from me)
  3. Any study that fails to show a connection between one's weight and overall health is swept under the carpet (due to issue #1, and, again, I do not disagree)
  4. That each person has their own body type, and that your body will work to get itself to this weight if given its own choices (umm, not so fast . . . )

What Sandy Szwarc is claiming is that "fatness" is not an indicator of overall health. Going on a diet, trying to lose weight for the sake of losing weight (or to fit a particular body image), or avoiding certain foods is actually bad for you. I can agree with much of that (I think it's always better to eat an apple than French Fries). I do believe that pre-occupation with one's body image is much more destructive than being overweight. And, as somebody who's weight has yo-yo'd a sizable amount (287 to 179 back to 264, and I have no idea what I'm at right now), it probably healthier to be at a consistent weight than to be in a state of weight fluctuation (caveat being that you're a grownup).

Szwarc claims that there "overeating" is really a myth - but I can tell you that I can put down fast food meal after fast food meal and still go for more -- and that is certainly overeating. She may not recommend such diet behavior, but the thought that me eating 12 Big Macs and a case of beer is just what my body needs is a little hard to stomach.

What I'm getting to is my own weight, body fat, and exercise. In this little game I'm playing where I bike all over the place, I'm burning at least 2000 calories on the bike for each day I ride into and from work. As a 30 year old male who stands 6'3" and weighs 240lbs., my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is roughly 2,300 calories. That means that it takes that much just keep John's heart pumping, eyes functioning, liver hardening from last night's drinking binge, etc. While one of Szwarc's main points is that there is much more to the equation than "calories in / calories out", I have to imagine that with a significant calorie deficit, I'm going to lose weight (if I eat what I consider to be "healthy" throughout the day, I consume somewhere in the vicinity of 2,800 to 3,200 calories before you factor beer into the equation, at which point all bets are off -- if I drop my weight to 190lbs., my BMR becomes 1,900 and the calorie expenditure on the bike will be reduced -- an intake of 3500 calories/day that I'm biking the 40 miles round seems reasonable).

Nowhere on Junkfood Science does Szwarc claim that exercise is bad for you (although she prefers the term Physical Activity, and I have no beef with that). I guess my disconnect is that I simply do not see any people who I would consider "very physically active" who happen to be "fat" (I'm not using "obese" here because that is simply measured by BMI, and every body builder is listed as obese, which is just silly). I can see "diet" as we've gotten to know it as being a media-driven monster that is actually doing more harm than good. But, I think exercise is quite important to one's well-being, and I just don't see how amount of exercise doesn't affect one's body type. Is she claiming that my 40 mile expeditions are too much? I don't know.

Anyway, onto today's riding -- slowed down coming in. I'll admit that it was a little harder to get up this morning than it was yesterday, but I'm still looking forward to the ride home (because it is beautiful outside right now). Due to a PLS commitment, I can't bike in tomorrow - and then I have something after work on Friday, so this will be it for the bicycle commuting this week (still hoping to get some good riding in during the next few days, however -- just around the neighborhood & stuff). I'm going to get rid of the silly little log that I've been putting at the bottom of my posts, as I've started tracking it all in a database -- I'll figure out some way to share the data (that is, if there's anybody actually reading this thing).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Commuting: Day 1

I made it in!

It took approximately one hour and 20 minutes to head the 20 miles into work, and I did it. Average speed was just under 16 miles per hour, and I burned 1,126 calories during the trip. Only real complaints were that it was COLD (42° Fahrenheit) and the road traffic was loud enough that I couldn't listen to my audiobook -- I'll have to switch to music for these journeys.

Today's Riding Stats
Today's Pre-Blog Mileage: 21.4
Anticipated Post-Blog Mileage: 21.4

Monday, May 12, 2008

Rain, Rain Go Away

So - I was all prepared for a ride into work today . . . and then it spent all night raining. It's still raining now. While I'm not opposed to biking in through the rain, I do not have the appropriate gear to fend off a constant downpour. I may have such gear in time, but for right now, I'm just not going to be biking out when more than a drizzle is anticipated. This way, I have less to worry about cleaning up when I get to work (where I have a "business professional" dress code).

On top of all of this, something bit me yesterday while I was doing my annual Mother's Day duty of gardening. Apparently I have some hives on my back, and they're very, very itchy. I'm not sure if it was the volume of the rain last night that woke me up (or my back), but I know it was the itchy back that kept me awake. No sleep = no exercise bike in the morning.

Tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful, though, so I should have happier things to post then.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Did It!

Ok, so I did it. While I didn't make the 42 miles, that was more an issue of the temperature (55° Fahrenheit) than the actual distance. The big thing is that I made it up the mountain at Waggoner's Gap without incident -- and, I mean, I made it up pretty easily . . . speeds ranged from 5.5 to 8.1 miles per hour on the climb . . . then they hit 44 miles per hour on the descent. :-)

Today's Riding Stats
Today's Pre-Blog Mileage: 36.4
Listening to: The Dark Tower, Book III: The Wastelands by Stephen King

Friday, May 9, 2008

I'll get out on the road - sometime!

So the best intentions don't always turn out. We picked out flooring yesterday, and then we had Thai takeout -- and after that, it was work for me. So no cycling, even on the stationary bike. Then I slept like crap, so no biking for me in the morning. Tonight, Duffy's drama club has its performance -- so, instead of 20 miles a day, I'll have a total of 0 in the last 2 days.

But, not all is lost. With nothing big planned for Saturday, I think I'm going to finally get up Waggoner's Gap road. From the best I can tell, the climb is approximately 1,000 feet (500 at the start of the incline, and then finally leveling off at 1,500 feet) over approximately 2 miles (11,000 feet). Or an average 9% incline - but that is misleading, as this is a concave hill (gets steeper as you climb).

Ken Kifer has done the math, but I ride, on flat ground, somewhere between 14 and 21 miles/hour. I can really push myself and get things up to about 25, but I can't sustain that. In fact, I can't really sustain anything more than 17.5 (on flat ground) for much beyond 10-15 minutes. Now, if you scroll midway down Ken's page, you'll see the speed change and appropriate gear for a 200 lb. ride (which means rider, gear, and bike -- I'm much closer to 300 lbs. when you put everything together, but we'll keep his numbers going). At the top of this hill, if we assume that the climb gets to a steady 12% (as high as he goes, but I know I've hit moments of 18% grade in climbing the "baby hill" that I will need to climb on the return of the loop), I'll be lucky to maintain 2.5m/h in my lowest gear. In other words, after doing the math, I'm not feeling so bad about not making the whole climb yet.

I've NEARLY done the first climb, so I think tomorrow will complete it. Heck, just to loop around from this climb means that I'll be on the bike for 42 miles.

But I'm not writing today because I wish I was on the road more, or to try to talk myself into the damn hills around me. No - I finally have everything in place to start biking to work. I have three changes of clothes, a pair of shoes, a few pairs of socks, and some stuff to clean myself up here at the office (nevermind breakfast foods and fruit). If the weather plays nicely, Monday will be my first day (I know many hardcore bicycle commuters say that there isn't any weather that should be avoided, but I don't want my first ride to be a miserable one. Hopefully the weather will be pleasant enough for the trip over, and for the trip back. It's ONLY twenty miles, which I've been doing without a second thought for quite some time, but the roads are hilly, there are cars everywhere, and I don't get a chance to lie down and take a nap if I'm tired at the end of things. Still, though, I'm finding myself looking forward to a Monday morning for the first time in recent memory.

Today's Riding Stats
Today's Pre-Blog Mileage: 0
Anticipated Post-Blog Mileage: 0

Thursday, May 8, 2008

And here we go!

So, I'm starting this thing. I need SOMETHING to keep me motivated as I ride. I've actually been quite pleased with my own ability to get out on the road, but I think if I have this, my number-crunching OCD side will be more eager to ride.

So, on here, look for my daily ride progress - in all honesty, I don't know if I will keep this up, but it can't hurt. My goal is to ride at least 20 miles a day on every day I ride (and I plan to ride most, but not all, days). When I'm commuting to work, that's 20 miles each way, so the goal should be easy.


Today's Riding Stats
Today's Pre-Blog Mileage: 0
Anticipated Post-Blog Mileage: 20 (stationary bike)
Listening to: The Dark Tower, Book III: The Wastelands by Stephen King