Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year Resolutions - 2010 Review

Well - here we are on the final day of 2010. Time to look back and see how I did regarding my resolutions for the year.

Car Free for One Month (Grade = F) - While I did a pretty good job of riding my bike more for utility purposes, I never did attempt to go car free for a deliberate period of time. Life just got in the way - I'm gonna try this one again next year.

Build a City Bike (Grade = A) - I was able to convert my Light Roadster to a fully functional city/commuter bike. I know I haven't told you about it on this blog, but that post is coming, I promise.

Post at Least Once a Week (Grade = A+) - This year I posted 85 times. That's better than 1-1/2 times per week. It may be time to stretch myself and shoot for twice a week next year.

Lose Weight (Grade = D) - Well, at several points throughout the year I was able to focus my exercise and eating habits such that I brought my weight down to within single digits of my 155 lb. goal, then I would backslide. I was kind to myself and gave myself a D because at least I don't weigh any more than I did a year ago.

Ride the Blue Ridge Parkway (Grade = F) - What can I say, not only did I not ride the Parkway, but I did not take a week long tour PERIOD! That is totally unacceptable and I can assure you, this is a wrong that will be righted next year.

Increase Practical Bike Use (Grade = A+) - I rode to work everyday this year with the exception of 6 days due to icy conditions. On those days I took the bus. Not only did I ride to work, but I expanded my bike use for other errands as well. I rode it to church, the grocery store, the drug store, the gym, the barber, restaurants, the hardware store, the coffee shop and the like.

There you have it. My GPA isn't anything to brag about, but overall I'm pretty satisfied with the year. Stay tuned tomorrow and I'll roll out my resolutions for 2011.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bike and a Movie

For anyone who has ever trained on a stationary trainer, you don't need me to tell you how time comes to a veritable stand still. You can be riding along thinking that you've spun enough to circumnavigate the globe, only to look at your watch and realize that you've been riding a grand total of 10 minutes.

Over the years, I've employed numerous strategies in an effort to make the time fly by. I've tried riding with music. I've tried riding in complete darkness. I've tried do specific, intense workouts. While all have helped minimally to some extent, in the end, I find myself putting my head down and forcing myself, against my will, to keep spinning.

The only technique that I've discovered to make stationary training somewhat bearable is watching a movie. I have some great riding films from Epic Planet that give me a good work out and help pass the time. However, if I just want to spin at a leisurely pace, watching any regular movie will do.

All I need now is some popcorn and soda!!! Come on now, let's not get carried away, we are training after all.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

The last few weeks I've had to work late quite often and consequently, my rides home were in complete darkness. One of those evenings, as I slowly pedaled through the neighborhoods and enjoyed the array of Christmas lights and decorations, I realized it was time for me to decorate the bike and spread my own bit of Christmas cheer.
Riding around on this bike has become a bit of a tradition for me over the last 2 or 3 years. As I commute back and forth on this "Blinking Christmas Tree on Two Wheels", I can't tell you how many people stop what they're doing, smile and bade me a Merry Christmas. I know I look like a dork, but considering the little bit of joy it brings to people, it is a small price to pay.

Today is Christmas day. I'm done with work for the year. Instead of donning my riding gear and braving the cold and traffic, my mornings for the next week will be spent pretty much like this...
Its a rough life I know. Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

12 MPH

Today is my last day of work for 2010. This morning when I climb on my bike it will mark the 205th day that I've ridden to work. Considering the fact that I worked a total of 211 days, that equates to riding to work 97% of the time. The other 6 days or 3%, I took the bus. I am quite proud of the fact that I did not use my truck a single time in the past year to get to work.

As I look back on this accomplishment, I realize that it was not without some degree of sacrifice. I rode through heat, freezing cold, rain, snow, ice and heavy winds. I rode early in the morning and late into the evening. There was more than one day that if that bike were a horse, I'd a shot it. I've had cars run through red lights, cut me off, buzz by me too close for comfort, honk at me, yell at me and run me off the road.

Sure, this year has not been without it's trials and tribulations. Yet, I rode on days when the temperature was absolutely perfect and the breezes gentle. I rode on days when there was not a cloud in the sky and nights when the stars were so numerous that if you could but reach the first one, you could spend an eternity hopping from one to to another. I saw majestic sunrises and breathtaking sunsets.

Commuting to work is healthy for the environment and for me. Commuting to work reduces congestion on our roads and our dependence on foreign oil. Those are good, noble reasons, but they're not what keeps me climbing on that bike day after day.

Everyday that I ride gives me a chance to slow my life down a bit and that's the primary reason I do it. 12 MPH - that's just about the right speed for me. At 12 MPH, I'm not gonna break any records or win any races. At 12 MPH, I won't be out of breath or tax my cardiovascular system. At 12 MPH, it's gonna take me a little longer to get to where I'm going.

By today's standards - 12 MPH ain't fast - but it gives me time look around, listen, breathe, think, relax and unwind. That makes 12 MPH fast enough for me.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

To Ride or Not to Ride?

Life is indeed a series of choices.

Like much of the country - Winter storms and frigid temperatures have gripped Southeast Virginia as well. My normal commuting route takes me through Huntington Park where there is a foot bridge that I cross to get into an adjoining neighborhood. Due to the snow flurries that had been falling all day while I was at work, this is what that foot bridge looked like as I made my way home that evening.

"Bridges Freeze Before Road" This was the thought that came immediately to mind as I applied the brake and came to a stop at the foot of the bridge. It was there - in the quiet cold - that I pondered my choices:

Do I ride across and risk the bike slipping out from under me where upon I crash down hard on the frozen planks and bust my head open on the steel hand rails?
Do I wimp out and safely push the bike across and remount on the other side?

My final decision...Well, I'll let you be the judge of that!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Red Sky - Oh Oh

"Red sky in morning - bike commuter take warning." I modified this phrase after my ride to work yesterday morning looked like this...

and my ride home that afternoon looked like this...

I did learn one thing though, 2" of slush really cushions your fall!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bike Snow Drift

Where's an ice scraper when you need it? That's what crossed my mind as I approached my bike and this is what I beheld...

It took me 10 minutes to brush off the snow and scrape off enough ice to get underway. Even then, I heard the tell-tale signs of ice scraping against fender and brake shoes for nigh on a mile of riding.

When I got home, the bike nestled near the kerosene heater to thaw out. In a matter of 30 minutes there was naught but a puddle of water as a distant reminder of the frozen grip that had cruelly grasped my beloved Commuter.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My New Mantra

I proudly display my new mantra on the downtube of my Commuting Bike...


I have gone many places, rode many miles and done many things on a bike; However, I must confess, the above is a feat I have yet to experience. While I tremble at the potentially damaging anatomical effects that such an experience may impart on my "manhood", I am determined to give it a whirl. When I do, you, my faithful readers will be the first to know. Heck, I may even capture this "sensitive" moment in pictures!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Heaven's Length

I have it on good authority (mine), that Heaven is at least 42 miles in length. Trust me - I know - I've ridden it.

It was the last day of a recent weekend mini-tour. Two days earlier, I rode from my home and had been riding and camping since.

My final night was spent at Chickahominy Riverfront Park. It was a beautiful camp sight overlooking the river

I was treated to a marvelous sunset.

The evening proved to be quite windy and cold. After burning what little firewood I had, I crawled in my tent and slept in relative (I use this term loosely) comfort. I awoke the next morning to nature's call, which I ignored for as long as I dared and then crawled out of my sleeping bag cocoon to face the raw cold.

For cooking on this trip, I chose to take along my Trangia alcohol burning stove.

I bought this stove late last Spring and used it to great effect several times this summer. I fell in love with it's simplicity and functionality. This was the first time I used it on a freezing, gusty, winter morning. The wind and cold combined to dampen my enthusiasm for it's functionality. I arranged my panniers as a make shift wind break and still had to fill the bowl twice in order to boil a single kettle of water. It was a frigid, if not thoroughly frustrating exercise.

After finally warming up with several cups of coffee, I decided to skip trying to cook breakfast. So I packed up and got an early start.

For the last day and a half, I had been heading predominantly North the entire time and, seeing how I chose to start my final bike tour of the year just as the first cold front of the season blew through the area, had a stiff headwind the whole time.

Since I was taking a circuitous route, it was only a matter of time before I would head South. The final day of my mini-tour was that time. I rode to Jamestown, crossed the ferry and then traversed the counties of Surry and Isle if Wight to Smithfield.

The skies were clear...

The sun shone bright...

The traffic was next to non-existence...

The country roads were peaceful and pristine...

The fields were freshly harvested and settling down for a long winters nap...

Does it get any better than that? You bet it does. I rode a total of 42 Miles that day and had the pleasure of a stiff TAILWIND the entire time. Pedaling was almost effortless. With such a tailwind I could have flown down the road, but instead chose to use it to maintain my normal speed with less effort. I was in Heaven and not knowing it's width or breadth, I was in no hurry to happen upon it's boundary.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Changing Conditions

My ride to work yesterday morning was warm and rainy.

My ride home yesterday evening was cold and clear.

The weather conditions could not have been any different, with the exception of one minor detail. I had a 25 to 30 mph headwind - get this - BOTH WAYS!!!