Saturday, January 31, 2009

January Recap - New Year Resolutions

OK - I started out the year with several New Year resolutions. It's time to update where I stand:

1. Drive my truck to work less than 25% of the time.

Well check out the stats for yourself:
Bike: 14
Bus: 3
Truck: 2

Truck driven to work 11 % of the time!! Oh yea - I'm da man!!!

2. Complete a Triathlon.

Well this one won't happen until sometime this summer. I have been a busy beaver training though, see for yourself:
Swimming: 9900 meters
Running: 29.7 miles
Biking: The only riding I did was commuting 195 miles (That's a shame)

The impact that the other training is having on my cycling is starting to bother me. I am considering throwing out this resolution and getting back to that which I love and makes me who I am (CYCLING).

3. Ride at least 3 centuries.

Well - it's too dang cold to give this one any serious consideration right now.

4. Start blogging and create a web site for "".

Well - I have posted 10 blogs counting this one. The website thing I haven't even begun.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How Many Bikes are too Many?

I'm getting that itch again. The one that can only be scratched by a new bike. I have 4 bikes that I ride regularly, so you would think that would be enough. This delimma begs the philosophical question:

"Is there such a thing as too many bikes?

I was talking with one of my co-workers a while back about the bikes that I own. He concluded that I didn't need all those bikes. "After all" he said, "you can only ride one at a time. " My response too such an unfathomable leap in logic was, "how many golf clubs do you own, you can only swing one at a time."

I have four bikes, but they each serve a unique purpose:
  • I own a hybrid bike (Trek) that is kinda like my pick-up truck. I use this bike for tooling around the neighborhood and various other utility purposes.

  • I own a road bike (Specialized) that is kinda like my sport car. I use this bike for speed, my long rides, training rides, weekend rides, etc.

  • I own a mountain bike (Klein) that is kinda like my 4-wheel drive. I use this bike for off road purposes.

  • I own a fixed gear bike (Paramount), this is kinda like - well I can't think of a good automobile analogy - it is a breed all its own. I use this bike for commuting.

As you peruse my above list you will note that there is one type of bike that is obviously missing.

That's right - a TOURING BIKE. I need - I want - I gotta have a TOURING BIKE.

The question is what kind? After much research - pondering - soul searching - fasting and praying - I think I have the answer. A Bike Friday - Specifically their New World Tourist. Bike Friday's are folding bikes that are made right here in the good ole US of A.

My thought on buying a folding bike is that I can pack it in a regular sized suitcase, avoiding the costly airline fees normally associated with bikes. When I get to my destination, I unpack the suitcase, which transforms into a bike trailer and I am off. This feature will serve me well on future tours and I can also take it with me on business travel. I am really excited.

I have been in regular contact via e-mail with a Bike Friday sales associate "Peter" and I must confess I have been thoroughly impressed. Peter has answered all my questions and sent me loads of info. I plan to order the bike in early March and I will keep you informed as to how the whole process goes.

"Is there such a thing as too many bikes?" WHAT A RIDICULOUS QUESTION!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Frigid Commute

I got up yesterday morning and the frigid temps that had been gripping the rest of the country all week, were now reaching out and touching Southeast VA. It was 17 F and I was seriously considering warming up the truck. Then I remembered a post I read on Commute By Bike highlighting an article in US News and World Report featuring Megan Mason, a bike commuter in Chicago. Megan's commute was summarized as follows:

"On a freezing november morning in Chicago, Megan Mason puts on leggings, several polyester tops and a fleece, a windbreaker, four pairs of gloves, and silk sock liners. She ties a bandana over her head, dons earmuffs, snaps on a helmet, safety-pins a scarf into a cocoon around her head, and gets on her bright green Schwinn for a 6½-mile ride to work."

I figured, if Megan can brave the cold in Chicago, then surely I can in VA. With my new found inspiration I began to dress for success: 2 pair of socks - tights - jeans - t-shirt - button up shirt - long sleeve jersey - wind proof fleece jacket - mittens - balaclava - helmet.

Just before I went out the door, I remembered reading somewhere that vaseline helps to protect the face from the ravaging affects of wind and cold. I searched high and low but couldn't find any in the house. However - I did find a stick of Body Glide, an anti-chafe balm used by athletes. I read on the container that it also "helps protect from drying effects of wind and cold weather". I commenced to smear the balm all over my face. It was at this point that I wondered if my son (an avid runner) had previously used this stick to apply the magical anti-chaffing balm to more strategic locations on his body? There are some questions better left unanswered!!

I rode to work in relative comfort, especially after my appendages froze. Of course upon defrosting, they muttered in protest at their ill treatment. At work, I had to endure my co-workers unsolicited characterization of my state of mind for riding on such a day. The most common ones being - Insane - Crazy - Nuts - Idiot...

Once I got home last evening, with a cold beer in hand, I pondered the days ride with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. I learned two valuable things:

1. Don't spread "Body Glide" on my face, unless I was the one who broke the seal.

2. I don't ever want to meet Megan in a dark alley.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hockey Cyclist

On my ride home today, there was a little bit of daylight left and I had time to burn, so I took the long way home. I noticed a rider pull out ahead of me from a side street. He caught my attention because he was dressed in an unusual attire. He was wearing bike shorts, but had what looked like huge tube socks that went up his entire legs and were tucked underneath his cycling shorts. He was also wearing this humongous hockey jersey and a beanie cap. He literally looked like he had just stepped off the ice. This is an attire you don't see everyday. But it wasn't the first time I had seen it. Over the years, I've crossed paths with this guy numerous times. Up to this point we were always heading in the opposite direction. He is always dressed the same.

I caught up with him and said "hi" as I passed. He returned the greeting. I pulled ahead and as I did so, I began to think about how unusual this guy looked. Mind you, when I don my commuting cycling attire - complete with helmet, mirror, glasses, gloves, florescent orange vest, messenger bag and clips on my pant legs - I'm a bit of a dork. This guy however - well he took dork to a whole new level. I figure anyone who dresses like a hockey player and rides his bike must have a story to tell, so I slowed down.

We rode together for only a couple miles. I learned that he was in his mid 50's, lived in an RV park, had been commuting for 18 years, was a born again Christian and yea, he loved hockey. He ordered his hockey/riding gear from a company out of Canada. He indicated that he realized he looked like a clown, but the hockey jersey was actually very effective in keeping him warm. I told him that he looked fine (a lie). I also told him that I thought it was pretty cool (another lie). I went on to say that every time I saw him, it brought a smile to my face (that part wasn't a lie).

We finally reached the point where our paths diverged. We parted with a mutual God Bless! This brief encounter highlights two lessons:

Lesson # 1: Hockey gear makes for functional winter cycling attire, even though you will look like a clown. Note: This lesson I have no intention of taking to heart as it will most certainly have negative implications on my chick magnet allure.

Lesson #2: When you pass another cyclist, slow down and get to know them.

Warning - Black Ice

Warning - Black Ice. Those were the first words that greeted me as I woke up this morning, poured my first cup of coffee and booted up the computer. Great - something new to dodge on my commute to work.

Turns out I made it to work safely, but not before dodging half a dozen patches of - wheels slip out from under you - bust your fanny - before you can say "ah sugar"- patches of slick blackness. The patches weren't all that large - a car would have zipped across them without even noticing their existence; However - on a bicycle - with 25C wheels - pumped to 100 psi - well that's a different story all together.

Bike commuting - riding in the dark - dodging cars, pot holes, dogs, debris and now black ice - you gotta love it.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Colonial Triangle Ride - Day 3 - Oatmeal = Yuck

I woke well rested and relaxed on the third and final morning of my micro tour. It was chilly, but nothing like the day before. I put some water on to boil in order to enjoy a couple cups of coffee.

As I sat sipping my coffee and watching the sun rise, there were two things that occupied my mind. First - I was hungry. Second - I was tired of oatmeal. This second thought was a bit troublesome. Part of the purpose of this tour was to experiment with foods I would bring along on my Blue Ridge Parkway tour next Summer. My plan was to have oatmeal for breakfast every morning. Yet - here I was tired of oatmeal and this was only my second morning having it. How in the world was I gonna eat it for 7 straight mornings.

There is one important fact about me that my dear readers need to know and tuck away. I am not fond of oatmeal. I refrained from using the word hate - but not by much. For breakfast - I'm an eggs and sausage kinda guy. I don't want no stinking oatmeal. I'll let my food dilemma go for now and pick it up in another post specifically dedicated to discusssing the pros and cons of my food experiments. For nor let it suffice to say that I wasn't in the mood for oatmeal and that was that.

After a couple cups of coffee, I broke down camp, loaded the bike and rode out in search of more substantial food.

I rode 8 miles to the Jamestown Settlement visitor center.One of the exhibits that always captures my attention here is the 50 flags poles proudly flying the flags of all the states. At the base of each is a plague detailing when that particular state became a part of the US. As I pulled into the parking lot this day, those flags particularly caught my attention in that they were all at half staff. I was reminded that this was the weekend immediately following the Fort Hood Shooting.

I paused!I prayed!

Then I went inside the visitor center and straight to the deli. I grabbed a sausage and egg biscuit and corn pops. Ah - now that's what I call breakfast.

Fixed Gears Can't Bunny Hop

One of my New Year's Resolutions involved combining cycling and public transportation to limit driving my truck to work. The score so far:

Bike - 2
Bus - 0
Truck - 2
Road - 1

Road - 1???? What's that about? Well - I'm glad you asked.

Yesterday morning I was happy to be riding after the torrential downpours of the previous 2 days. I even took the longer route to work to get in some extra miles. It's been quite a while since I took that route. There was a new addition to the route - a pot hole - that I didn't see until it was too late. Mind you - this was no ordinary pot hole - it was big and deep. In the split second I had to register this impending doom - I came to the realization that if my front tire went in that hole - I was gonna tear something up.

Now I've been commuting to work for the better part of 15 years. I've had my fair share of run ins with pot holes. I instinctively pulled up on the front wheel and pedals so as to bunny hop the pot hole. I was semi-successful in that endeavor but overlooked one minor detail. I was riding my fixed gear bike. As I tried to execute a text book bunny hop, my feet kept going round and round. This caused the bike lean too much toward the right. When the wheels finally hit the pavement, they were far from perpendicular with the ground causing them to slide out from under me. I didn't even have time to say "ah sugar".

I went down hard on my right side. I have always worn my normal street clothes while commuting. The right leg of my dockers were shredded. My head hit the ground hard enough to put a dent in the side of my helmet. (I DON"T KNOW WHY ANYONE RIDES WITHOUT A HELMET) Luckily the only physical injury I suffered was a bruise and road rash on my right hip. The bike suffered no ill effects.

The year is off to a bang of a start. It's 30 degrees out right now and no rain. Hopefully the score by the end of the day will be:
Bike - 3
Bus - 0
Truck - 2
Road - 1 (Wish me luck:-)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


My goal to bike more and drive less to work is off to a shaky start. I rode Monday, but since then there's been a frontal system sitting over the top of us dumping rain. This really sucks.

Up to this point, I have refrained from riding in the rain. I think it's a Cajun thing - though we are surrounded by water - we hate to get wet.

I do not own any rain gear for cycling. I think I will start shopping for some.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year Resolutions

I'm big on New Year Resolutions. The New Year brings new beginnings. No more dwelling on my failures of the past or resting on my laurels of success. Time to set our sights on new goals. I have more resolutions than are penned here, but since this blog is about cycling - I figured I would stick to the cycling specific ones:

2009 Cycling Related Resolutions:
1. Drive my truck to work less than 25% of the time - I already commute by bicycle and have been doing so for more than 15 years. However, due to inclement weather coupled with commitments at work and home, I still drive to work 40% - 50% of the time. Coupling cycling and public transportation, I want to trim those numbers in half.

2. Complete a triathlon (international or olympic distance) - I know this isn't entirely cycling - some may argue it isn't cycling at all. Well - I can assure you, I am not a triathlete. I am a cyclist wanting to do a triathlon.

3. Ride at least 3 centuries - riding 100 miles is not all that big a deal physically. However, finding the time is another question all together. That's why I'm limiting myself to 3.

4. Start blogging and create a web site for '". As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I am new to this thing and have a lot to learn.

Well there you go. My 2009 resolutions. They are out there for the world to see. Hold me accountable.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

No Ride Yet

I've been out of town visiting family since the 1st so I haven't been able to ride or run or swim. I am going crazy!! Will be heading home this afternoon - maybe I can get some exercise in this evening.