Monday, May 17, 2010

Rough Ride

Gotta say, today's commute was far from the best I have ever experienced. Raining the entire way, which wasn't nearly as fun to ride in as I remember from last year. Add to that the fact that it was a bit cold and for some reason my muscles all being in great pain (along with the bits of my that sito n the bike) and I'm just happy I made it at all. The ride home was only very slightly less bad, I took the shorter way because I didn't feel like adding mileage to the commute from hell, I needed to be home to my wife by 8, and I am pretty sure I would get lost without being able to follow the route on my GPS anyway.

I signed up for the 2010 Terratrike Car-Free Challenge. So far only the commute today counts, for the rather simple reason that I haven't been anywhere since it started until today. A month of no driving is definitely going to be a challenge for me--one that my wife is helping enforce with an iron fist. She threatened to take my keys away from me to force me to bike, but I managed to talk her down. For now.

I just wish I knew why today's ride went sop badly for me--way more painful than it was when I started riding that route afer a few months of being completely off the bike. Maybe it was just a fluke, maybe not. Makes me kind of hesitant about riding tomorrow, but ride I shall. Or at least make a noble effort.

I decided to contact Garmin about the broken GPS (shattered screen). It turns out that they will replace it for $80, which is the same price they charge for replacing the unit due to a dead battery. And my battery was dying. So I guess it really doesn't turn out to be so bad, I'll just have to use my phone for ride tracking for a while, though it's not as accurate.

Some time when the weather is good I need to take a camera along with me and snap some pictures of my current commute, which is 100% road and 0% bike path. I liked the path, it was nice and straight and car free, but it also had no curves or hills and that made it boring to ride.

Hopefully soon I'll get my legs back in shape and my belly to retract a bit more and then I'll start loving the ride more.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

100 55 Miles of Nowhere

So yesterday I made my attempt at the 100 Miles of Nowhere. Unfortunately, I had some bike issues at mile 55 or so, so I was not able to complete it. To add insult, my GPS died on me as well, so I wouldn't have been able to track mileage anyway.

It was a .24 mile loop around my office at work.....over and over and over. I lost count of laps at around 105, but I know I did at least twice that many.

Time to give credit where credit is due: My wife is the most awesome person ever. She came out to watch and support me, and made a "Way to Go Tommy" sign to hold up as I went by. She was also in charge of feeding me, refilling my water, and selling water balloons.

Water balloons, you ask? My fundraising idea was to let anyone who made a donation (of any amount) throw a water balloon at me as I went by. I would just like to say that for a fat guy, I am rather hard to hit. Also, it's best to not underfill the balloons, many of them bounced off me instead of properly breaking. Next year if there is a repeat, I will make sure the balloons get thrown while I go UPhill, that way people can be more accurate. Gotta make sure they get their money's worth.

Also, I am incredibly impressed by the generosity of my coworkers. I didn't really expect to get many donations for the ride, and I only told people about it on Thursday, but I managed to raise over $320 for Livestrong. I will have to wait until Monday to get the cash donations in , but $175 was given online. That's pretty awesome.

My wife also took some pics, of which this is one:

And here is what my GPS track looks like:

All told, I'm not happy that I failed to complete the ride....but I am reall impressed with the support I got and highly pleased with the amount of donations my coworkers gave. I can't truly call it a failure when I accomplished this much fundraising. Hopefully my coworkers who donated aren't too disappointed. I need a new bike computer solution. This is especially distressing since I used the one I had for light navigation duties too. Maybe I can find a mount for the phone that I don't think is terrible, but that is not very good for navigating along predetermined paths. Oh well, time for that later.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Well, we can all be reassured that the impostor has been removed and the two posts in a week fiasco won't be happening again. At least, not if I keep missing rides.

I always try to leave the apartment at 9:00....but somehow I never make it out until 9:20, which is pretty much the latest possible time for me to leave and still get changed and clocked in on time at work. I really need to get better about preparing all my clothing and everything the night before. This morning I couldn't find my keys for 15 minutes, and after a long search by my wife and I, I managed to locate them. In the trunk bag on the Long Haul Trucker. Yeah, I had put them there the night before so I didn't forget them. That's just cruel. Go me!

Anyway, I started using an alternate route to get home from work. It has a lot more twists and turns, but it has more climbing and adds about two miles, so it is better for getting me in shape. Plus it removes the absolute worst part of my ride, going up a hill on Feedwire road. It's steep enough that I am geared way down and barely moving forward, while traffic backs up behind me and then zooms by when they get the opportunity (and sometimes when they don't).

Now I continue down Little Sugarcreek road and take a complex series of turns that I would never be able to follow without my GPS--and I still make wrong turns a lot.

Managed to make pretty good time on the ride home since I was trying to make it by 8:00--my wife and I like to watch Community on Thursdays. Best show ever.

Speaking of my wife, she is quickly becoming a famous internet blogger as well. Check out and say hi.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What I love about riding the road

Two updates in two days? I'd better not make a habit of this. People might start to think I'm an impostor.

Today's ride wasn't too bad--made the morning ride in at an average speed of 14, but I think my ride home averaged closer to 11. It seems hat there was a 30mph headwind the whole way, and that's pretty rough. I know my speed will improve, because as alluded to in the post title, here is What I Love About Riding the Road:

It's easy! Not that it's easy to go out and ride a century when you haven't ridden a bike in three years, but it's this: Keep doing it, and you get better. It's like magic! After years of mountain biking...I still suck. There's a lot of technique to it that I can't figure out how to get right, a lot of balance that I lack, and when I get tired, I tend to ride my bike off the trail and down a cliff.

But on the road? Steering the bike where I want it to go is simple. I have the whole road! ...or at least the bits of the road that aren't full of Car. I don't have to learn to unweight the rear wheel to go smoothly over a log crossing...I just have to keep turning the pedals. It's true that proper gear selection and cadence play a role, but even without those, there are some riders who are pretty amazing on singlespeeds. Turning the pedals magically makes you better.

Keep turning the pedals, people.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Biked in again on Friday. I could definitely feel the exhaustion from the day before though. I left about 10 minutes later than I wanted to, so I had to hurry. I decided to man up and take the road the whole way instead of jumping on the sidewalk to save time (for those in the know, the road in question is Clyo). At 9:20 in the morning there is very little traffic there, so I figured it would be a good move. Seems I was right...I was able to keep the speed up around 17-20 instead of the 10-15 that was manageable on the sidewalk. Overall I made the ride in a good two minutes faster than on Thursday, so we'll count that as a win.

My muscles are not ready for the constant exertion any more legs were killing me all through the wok day, and on the ride home I started to bonk. The last three stops I was sitting at the light, using all my effort to stay upright--arms shaking, hands barely gripping the bar. I may have to start taking it a bit easier on the climbs, though I am really trying to push myself hard to get ready for next month's big ride.

Speaking of pushing myself, I noticed the oddest thing when I started riding again: I began the ride, and I almost immediately felt tired and felt like heading home again. But I decided top keep pushing and see how far I would make it. Oddly, I never started to feel worse. I was feeling bad at .8 miles, but I was not feeling any worse after 8 miles (with large climbs). I guess it's something to do with VO2 max or muscle mass or fast twitch vs slow twitch or whatever the trainers like to go on about. I just know that pushing through pain and discomfort is a vital part of road biking.

More on this topic tomorrow, something I've been thinking about posting for a long time but never remember to. Now I remember, but I want to milk it for another post.

New plan for making sure I bike to work: Run out of money and use all the gas in the car. I think this should tide me over at least until Friday when I get paid again.

Current weight: Uncertain, I haven't been on the scale since Friday. I turned down free ice cream on Sunday though, so I think that's worth spotting myself a couple pounds.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I'm baaaa-aaaack!

Biked in to work today, and it felt great. Painful, but great. The new route consists 80% of 2 lane roads and 20% 4 lane divided road w/sidewalk---so fr now while I am incredibly slow, I am taking the sidewalk, then I can move into the road as I get in better shape (it's not an urban area sidewalk, it's very light suburban-style with almost no people).

The weather was absolutely fantastic today. Around 60 degrees when I left, and around 78 on the ride home. Who would have thoughht that at this time of year my problem would be getting too hot while on the bike? Anyway, the trafic on my route is indeed quite light, as I had predicted, and the hills were....let's call them "manageable". I was absolutely wiped out when I got home, but then I realized that not only am I out of shape from not riding in a while, but this route has 3x the climbing of the old one--around 900 feet round trip. That'll get me in shape faster.

I have to spend all the time I can riding and putting in miles so that I can be sure and complete the 100 Miles of Nowhere. The CEO at work pledged $1/mile, so I have already been able to contribute more than expected. That started me brainstorming ideas for how to raise more money for Livestrong. I decided to do the ride at work during work hours because I thought making a spectacle of myself would improve awareness, but my current thought it to expand on that: For a donation, I allow (and encourage) my coworkers to periodically come outside and throw water balloons at me as I ride by. Should help keep me from overheating as well as raise a decent chunk of change (hopefully).

I was planning to do a round-trip ride to Young's Dairy (about 60 miles) in preparation, but that won't be able to happen for a couple of weeks. Someone has a route up on Bikely that starts relatively close to where I live now, so hopefully he chooses good routes.

If anyone in the Dayton area happens to glance at this and wants to meet up for a ride, let me know. I plan to do the Young's ride April 24th. Assuming nothing goes horribly wrong.

Current weight: 280. Sigh. It's not as high as it was, but it's still up there. Sad irony of the day: My Fat Cyclist jersey is now too small. If that's not motivation I don't know what is.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A failure is me?

OK, once again the exercise plan hasn't been working out exactly as planned. Haven't been biking much either....but I got married! That's something. Rather happy about that part.

We have been very busy lately moving into a new apartment--my tiny one bedroom was way too small for two people, two cats, and four bikes (three of which are mine).

I won't be using the separated bike path to get to work any more--the new apartment is far away from it. I have, however, scouted out a new bike route that seems like it will be pretty good. It's also been my preferred driving route to get to work every day since I like driving back roads and hate driving on the interstate.

In order to test the bike route before actually having to use it to get to work, I biked to work on Sunday. The going was pretty slow on the way there, and I was pretty worn out when I arrived, but I made it. The mileage is about the same as what I'm used to, but there are a lot more hills. That's OK, it will help me drop weight. I rested a bit and started to ride back when I noticed a noise from the rear wheel. A noise much like a flat tire is known to make.


Apparently my tire had a slow leak in it and had been losing air throughout the ride--no wonder it was harder than expected! I opened my trunk bag to grab my spare tube....and found a small road tube (700x23) with a presta valve and a large road tube (700x28-35) with a schrader valve. My tires are 700x32 and my rims are drilled for presta--the schrader tube is one I carried for when I ride with my wife. I decided to just stretch the small tube, since that's OK in a pinch.

Turns out a small rock had punched through the center of the rear tire--it's tiue to replace them, they have around 6,000 miles on them. I'll have to shop around and see what the local shops have in the way of good and affordable commuting tires.

Anyway, back to the story: I then discovered that I had no tire levers with me. I am not very god at mounting tires, so I always end up using levers, at least to get them off the rim. I dug around in my trunk bag and came up with a Brooke saddle tension wrench. Slipped the non-wrench end under the bead and levered it back, but I couldn't slide it around the edge of the rim like a regular lever. Too much friction and the bead was too tight. I remembered something I saw in Mountain Bike Action about using a quick release as a tire lever in an emergency, so I removed the rear skewer, slipped the QR lever under the bead, and had two functional tire levers. Then I was able to remove the tire without much issue and change the tube after removing the rock). The tire luckily remounted without the need for improvised levers.

The ride back was going much more easily and smoothly than the ride to work, proobably because bikes are meant to have air in both tires. Unfortunately when I got to a downhill and shifted from the middle ring to the big ring, I instead hear a loud pop and the front derailleur dumped me into the granny ring. Turns out my cables also had about 6,000 miles worth of riding on them over about three years, and one of them decided to break. I ended up riding much more slowly for the next four miles, since I couldn't go much faster than 9mph without being in a gear high enough to severely rub the derailleur cage and I didn't want that to be damaged.

I'm prety happy with the route though, minus the disasters. Unfortunately it will be another week before I get to use it to ride to work, because I took the bike to a shop to be fixed during the busiest time of the year. I should have kept it to change the cables myself, but here's a secret: I hate cables. I will do any maintenance on a bike except tuning cantilever brakes, trimming derailleurs, and putting n bar tape.I'll put on a crankset, change a bottom bracket, replace a cassette, or build a freakin' wheel, but those cables are my sworn enemies.

So next week I will have my beloved Long Haul Trucker back, with new cables and new rubber, and I will begin commuting in earnest. I have to step up the riding bigtime since today I registered for the Fat Cyclist's "100 Miles of Nowhere". I am thinking about doing the ride at work, circling around the building. As far as I can tell, 435 laps should put me just over the hundred miles. That's a lot of laps. I might take a ay off work and do it on a Friday so everyone can watch and cheer me on/make fun of me. Heck, maybe I'll set up something so they can donate. Sounds like a good plan to me.