Thursday, February 26, 2009

Really, A Dog?

I’m trying to understand how a cycling route twice as long, and with more climbs, can feel better than a route half as long. Today’s route:

All in all, this was a great ride, all things considered. You may notice the red arrow. That was where the a-hoe in the SUV pulled out in front of me while I was doing about 40 MPH. I guess I can’t be too angry with him. After all, he had his dog on his lap to worry about, and couldn’t be bothered with things like cross traffic.

Good legs today though. Sure would like to do that more often.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

...In a Heap of Polyester and Metal

Riding a bike can provide you with many things: fitness, a sanity break, some solitude, a new view of a familiar road, and entertainment. I’ve found much of the entertainment is from those you ride with. Really, when everything is said and done, and everyone is basically OK, is there anything funnier than a good crash? Especially when it’s not you?

One of the funnier crashes I saw was while I was at work. I was on a midnight shift and a cool early summer night with Cabana Boy and Gerber Baby, two co-workers. (Needless to say, Gerber Baby wasn’t very fond of his nickname.) Cabana Boy and I were riding behind some houses when we heard some passionate noises from an open bedroom window. In the true spirit of messing around, Cabana Boy and I found a spot in the shadows and called for Gerber Baby to meet us. Now, what we were expecting was for Gerber Baby to ride to where we were, hear the exchange and become slightly embarrassed. It worked out much better than that.

Gerber Baby’s bike skills weren’t the best and the bikes we rode were a little heavy. When Gerber Baby approached, he tried to hop a curb, and didn’t quite get the front wheel up high enough. I have to say, it was a pretty spectacular crash. Gerber Baby wasn’t going quite fast enough to go over the handle bars, but was going fast enough to get the rear wheel off the ground. He gave his best effort to recover, but it just wasn’t going to happen. Gerber Baby went down. Hard. And he wasn’t very quiet about it.

The tryst in the house stopped immediately, and the participants looked out the window to see a guy in shorts and a dark blue shirt with “Police” written across the back, wrestling with a bike and throwing out the occasional obscene word. Luckily, Cabana Boy and I had chosen a spot where we could quietly slip away…

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Kid Riding His Bike in the Woods

Note from Newt: This post was meant to include some funny moments, but it didn’t turn out that way. I think I’ve been a little too tired while writing. There are a lot of great stories under the surface here and I’ll start posting those soon.

A little while back, Fat Cyclist was hosting guest contributions so Elden could tend to some more pressing issues. This is where I first read the work of Jim, the proprietor of the Unholy Roleur. In this post, Jim describes his foray in to mountain biking, and how he discovered a new, albeit brutal, love. See the post here. I’ve been a fan of Jim’s blog since, and would recommend it to anyone that’s in to cycling, food, and the occasional hilarious rant. Jim’s post made me think about my love for mountain biking and how it was once an obsession for me. (Of course, it probably would be again had I had the time to devote to it.) It also got me thinking about where this love began.

When I was twelve years old, in the early 1980’s, I moved to a new neighborhood, and quickly gravitated to a wooded area down the street. My new friends and I would spend hours exploring the singletrack trails in this undeveloped area. These forays into the patch of wilderness were an escape from an unpleasant and complicated home life, and gave me an opportunity to think about only me, my bike, and the good time I had with my friends. The use of a bike as a means of escape from the trials of life was a valuable lesson. Unfortunately, after another couple of moves and discovering the much different type of freedom afforded by a car, it was one of many that I choose to ignore until later.

I later served in the U. S. Air Force as a Security Policeman, and landed a spot on the bases bike patrol section. I initially joined the bike patrol because it allowed me to go to work in shorts, and kept me out of working at the base’s gates, a mind numbing assignment where you are totally dependent on whoever happens to be on patrol in your area. But mainly it was the ability to work in shorts. I didn’t have to iron my uniform every day and didn’t have to shine my shoes. Did I mention I can be a bit lazy? What I found in this job was much more than a more relaxed wardrobe. I found pleasure in my work. It certainly wasn’t because of the incidents I responded to, or the people I had to deal with day in and day out. I enjoyed my job because of the bike. It gave me a chance to be unnoticed while I was working, and allowed moments of escape after some particular trying times.

The bike made work fun. I don’t think there is a better way to explain it. There were several of us on the bike patrol, and I was again able to ride with my friends and this time, I got paid for it. Sure, we had to deal with the occasional dose of real life and respond to the odd incident, but even that could be made entertaining with an impromptu race.

Riding for work eventually led back to riding for fun, and many of my life’s decisions were made with riding in mind. More on that later…

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Bit of Inner Turmoil

With Friday here, I get to try to figure out how to get some ride time. If I want to. The problem is going to be the weather. After Monday’s ride I don’t think the cold will be much of a problem, as long as I make sure to wash my gloves afterward. My nose tends to run quite a bit when I ride in the cold. Not a pleasant thought, I know, but it’s one of many factors a lazy fat cyclist must consider.

I’ve been trying to figure out how I can get some time on my trainer. It’s not just the schedule. I think if I get up 15 minutes earlier I can get a decent, if short, workout in. The problem is that I hate exercise bikes. Riding a trainer is too much like that. It’s just boring. I’ve tried watching TV and listening to the iPod. Nothing helps.

We’ll see how the weekend goes.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Lot of Work to Do

I have a lot going on. Between work, family, and taking care of the house, I tend to be pretty busy. I also like to sit on my butt and enjoy activities associated with that; mainly watching TV and reading. I also enjoy food. A lot. I’m not a foodie, which is to say I’m not always particular about the food I eat and I am by no means a food snob. If it tastes good to me I’ll eat it. You may be able to see where I’m going with this. Between my schedule, my laziness, and my appetite, I’ve got a lot of riding to do.

I had the day off on Monday and I thought I’d get the road bike out and do a quick run on the eight and a half mile loop from my house. The daughter had been invited to lunch by a very nice friend and her mother and I had a few hours to kill. The temperature was a balmy 38 degrees, and the wind was a little brisk. I have ridden that loop many times and I have to say that Monday was one of the more painful days on the loop. The area where I live isn’t exactly a great place to just get on a bike and spin. We have a terrain that could best be referred to as built in interval training. This is what the route looks like using the path profiler gadget (developed by on Google Maps:

Not very long climbs, but man, there sure are a lot of them.

I didn’t throw up, so I’m calling this one a success.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why, Oh Why, Do I Want to Subject Myself to a Blog?

Why am I doing this? I am not a "public" person. Basically, I like my privacy, I don’t mingle at get-togethers, I am usually described as “kind of quiet, and keeps to himself,” and I think it was a good 3 or 4 months before I learned who all of my neighbors are. So why am I doing this? Well…..

I am overweight. I’m taking a cue from the
Fat Cyclist and posting my desire to lose weight where my friends and family (or any other unfortunate web-surfing soul) will be able to see it. With any luck, I can shame myself out of a few pounds. (Speaking of Fat Cyclist, take a look at his site. He’s going through a very difficult time, but making the most out of it by doing some great stuff with fundraising for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. A very admirable effort from an admirable man.)

I like to ride my bike and I like to talk about it. As I mentioned, I don’t have many people I open up to. I commend my wife for listening to my riding stories for as long as she has. I like road biking and love mountain biking. I don’t have nearly as much time as I would like to ride, and when I do, I try to get as much out of each ride as I can.

I am not good at keeping in touch with family and friends. I’m a really good “Hey, whatever happened to…” candidate. I’m hoping this blog will let those that are interested know what is going on.

The way I see it, is the continued success of this project depends on two things. First is that I keep up with it. No one will read it if there’s nothing to read. Second, people have to read it. I won’t post unless there’s someone out there willing to waste a few minutes of their life listening to me rant. So, if you are out there, let me know how this is going…