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