Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I didn't feel like going fast today.

I had to turn around at the Elaine Hammer bridge this morning. I realized I had left the dog in the backyard. She's a Husky. As a breed, they like to escape. This one likes to dig under the fence. The trip into work was 39 minutes and nearly 9 miles.

It took 33 minutes to get home, roughly 13mph. I used my TT bars as armrests and just relaxed. I never put it in the big ring.

There was a great deal of commuter traffic on the trails this afternoon. Folks with backpacks and panniers and big smiles on their faces. Every one of them enjoying the beautiful 78 degrees, sunshine and nearly calm winds.

I tried to smile.

I think I'm kinda bummed at my performance in this past weekend's Capital City Criterium. I simply didn't feel like trying to go fast. My heart rate never climbed over 145 today.

Maybe that's for the best. Relax. Take it one day at a time. Let my resolve build until I wake up one morning with the urge to push as hard as I can. Hopefully that happens before the Cornhusker State Games TT, roughly a month away.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Capital City Criterium

You never know what kind of shape you're in until you push yourself.

I entered the Capital City Criterium cat5 race. Six left turns and two right turns makes for an interesting mix. Considering it's a Cat5 race (beginners and those who want to test the waters), I thought there might be some crashes.

My last mass start event was in 1994. I've raced the Cornhusker State Games Time Trial for the last three years. I'm a bit green when it comes to these things.

My goal Saturday was simply not to crash. Keep it upright.

I had some nerves going in to Saturday's race. My resting heart rate is 61bpm.
I got my bike down off the j-hook, threw my leg over the bike and synched up my HRM: my heart was pounding at 103. I've seen it as high as 85 before, but that's because I'm running late or because I want to beat the rain clouds. Not on a slightly overcast and windy morning with temps in the upper 60s.

After getting checked in, saying hi to some friends and installing my timing chip, I did some practice laps on the course to find a good groove and rough spots to avoid. My heart rate was at 160, and I was plodding at 15mph.

Not good. That kind of a pace during my commute typically yields a heart rate of 145. Most days I have to be going 20 to get to 170. Yeah, I know I'm not in the best shape, but 160 still high for me at 15mph.

Except that when I commute, I hardly touch my brakes. More on this later.

As soon as the first lap was in, I looked down at my HRM. 185. That's creeping up on "redline".

I backed it off and just "raced the course". I kept one other rider who fell off the back after the first lap in my sights throughout the race. He was my "not going to come in DFL" insurance. I was going to keep a little in the tank and punch it on the final lap and pass that guy.

"The Distance" started playing back in my mind after I got lapped (the first time). Two of the folks I said hi to prior to the race with came up behind me and gave me words of encouragement. You both lapped me. No really, I started behind you guys, you just lapped me...

I opened it up as the bell rang for the final lap. I ignored my HRM, the other riders, and my numb hands. Yes, numb hands. To say the roads in Lincoln's Core neighborhood are rough is to say Charlize Theron is simply not ugly.

Not Ugly

I kept pushing through my distorted vision to the finish.

I finished 3 laps down and managed to come in before 3 others.

I maxed out at 24.5mph during that final lap. My HRM reports that I maxed my heart out at 194. I felt like I was gonna hurl.

And I'm happy to report I rode with 26 other people on an 8 turn, 0.7 mile criterium course without crashing. Mission: Accomplished.

What I learned during this race can be summed up in four words: "Don't Kill Your Momentum".

I rode the first few laps like a "two footed driver": someone who drives an automatic transmission car with one foot on the accelerator and another on the brake.

I had my left finger on the front brake to slow myself down and then played catch-up as I exited the turn. It took me a few laps to learn this is a poor strategy, even on a course with tight turns.

I had started catching up to the other fall-off-guy after I quit using my brakes to enter turns. I took the turns a bit wider (when I had the room) so I wouldn't lose as much momentum that I would ultimately have to replace with pedal power.

Next step is to build confidence in my tires. 

Saturday's Mileage: 23.2. I didn't drive to the race.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day 3 of bike to work week.

Monday night, I entered the Capitol City Criterium and Pioneers Park Grand Prix Cat5 events this weekend. I paid the fees, I no longer have any excuses. (Let's not bring up why I didn't do any of the UNL Cycling events in April.)

My commutes are doubling as training rides. My morning ride was cadence. The antelope creek trail has some gentle ascents and descents as it parallels the creek just east of UNL's campus. In a 39x19 (I think?) gear you can ramp right up to 150rpm on those descents without spooking runners or dog walkers with your speed. My goal was to hold that as long as possible on an ascent. I managed to keep 130 in the same gear.

The path under the zoo bridge is a good place to do a spin-up exercise before you get to A street. Pop into the 39x26 and let it rip. I hit 193rpm at one glance. Speed was 22mph.

Between A and South is another place to do a spin-up, but I use the big ring because of the great visibility on this stretch. I managed to hit 26mph, but had to cut it off because I couldn't pass two walkers moving in opposite directions without hitting one of them or taking my skinny tires into the grass.

The rest of the commute is great for long spins. I keep it at 120rpm and in the small ring. If I go above 125, I upshift. Likewise, if my cadence drops to 115, I downshift.

My ride home is all about power. I keep it in the big ring. If the cadence is over 100, I upshift. Below 85, time to downshift. Grind that shit out!

I get off the rock island at Calvert and take that to 44th. There are some short and steep hills.

44th from Calvert to Van Dorn is probably my favorite stretch of road to ride in Lincoln. It's downhill, goes on for what seems like forever and has only two cross streets. I have encountered 3 moving cars on it during rush hour this year. It's a good respite from climbing over 33rd and 40th streets.

I feel sorry for the folks who live near 44th between A and O streets: winter has got to suck. I wonder how many cars get stuck there? There are three short and very steep hills.

Dobson Construction added another hill for me to climb, but I brought the wrong bike:
44th and K

I've also been tracking my ride times and heart rate monitor data (when I remember to strap it on) for the past several weeks so I can track my fitness progress. 

My heart rate monitor doesn't stop monitoring data when the bike stops. It keeps ticking time away, giving me an accurate representation of how long it takes me to get from point A to point B, instead of "bike is moving, collect data; bike is stopped, stop collecting data" that my bike computer does.

My six mile route (35th to A, A to Rock Island) has a great deal of downtime while waiting for traffic to clear at Vine and O streets. If I take the trails, I get to add another mile and some change because I cross 27th three times, but I have less downtime since those crossings are not "at grade".

I didn't realize how much less downtime until the data for the last couple of weeks were staring me in the face.

My ride times on the short route are anywhere from 19-22 minutes on average, while my heart rate monitor times are anywhere from 28-30 minutes.

My ride times on the longer trail route are 26-28 minutes, while my heart rate monitor times on the longer trail route are anywhere from 28-31 minutes.

I'm not going to waste any more time waiting for motorized cages on Vine and O. Thanks to the Elaine Hammer bridge, I can spend that time riding instead of wishing I was riding.

Today's mixed trail/street mileage was 13.3 miles.

As for the races this weekend? I haven't done a mass start event since the summer after high school, 16 years ago: I'm gonna get my ass kicked up one side Saturday morning and down the other Sunday.

Ride of Silence Tonight

Tonight is the 2010 Ride of Silence.

What is the Ride of Silence?
The Ride of Silence is a free ride that asks its cyclists to ride no faster than 12 mph and remain silent during the ride. There are no sponsors and no registration fees. The ride, which is held during National Bike Month, aims to raise the awareness of motorists, police and city officials that cyclists have a legal right to the public roadways. The ride is also a chance to show respect for those who have been killed or injured.
In Lincoln, meet at Sawyer Snell Park, behind Gooch's Mill at 7pm. Helmets are required.

I would see you there, but I have other obligations.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Loren Mooney at Huffington Post: Bikes are a City's Indicator Species

Loren Mooney, editor-in-chief of Bicycling Magazine makes a compelling argument for bicycle use is a strong indicator of a city's health.

Just as the fate of the seemingly lowly frog serves as a bellwether of the health of an ecosystem, the presence of bikes can tell you a lot about a community. First, a city with more bikes is likely safer, since people are comfortable being out on the streets. Its residents are likely healthier and more active -- even the recent White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity report to the president called for increased biking twice in its recommendations. And it's also a more green-minded metropolis, since people are of a mind to occasionally pedal for short trips instead of driving (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that as many as 40% of car trips are 2 miles or less, a distance my mom could bike -- several times a day).

Read the rest at Huffingtonpost

It's bike to work week. Show visitors how healthy your city is.

Day two of Bike to Work Week.

I had to pick up my kids after work. I have a kid trailer for my bike, but didn't feel like bringing that to work with me. It made more sense to drive. That and we're selling the trailer since the kids ride on their own now.

Even though I didn't drive, that shouldn't stop me from doing bike-related tasks. I had won a $25 gift card from Bike Pedalers at the "Bike to Work, Lincoln!" rally at the State Office Building on Friday.

I exchanged that for a portion of some nice Pearl Izumi shorts and socks over my lunch break.

My daughter and I gave my bike a quick cleaning in the front yard while my son crashed out on the couch after dinner. While brushing out the cassette, I busted the "pie plate" between the spokes and large cog. Whoops. The whole thing flaked off into tiny bits and is strewn about my lawn. Meh, it's extra weight. It really doesn't do anything and I look less like a noob.

That round plastic thing next to the spokes is a pie plate. Found at bikesnobnyc's blog

There's a problem with losing the pie plate: I have this "White Men Can't Jump" fantasy where I build up my cardiovascular system to Miguel Indurain levels and a Lance Armstrong pain threshold and show up at a bike race in a strange town while dressed in some plain gym shorts and a "freebie" t-shirt one might find at a tourist trap with a 5 year old entry level bike (complete with the "pie plate") and a helmet of similar age and some black socks.

"You mean race bicycles?"

I guess I could buy a new pie plate or score one from a shop that removes them on general principle. But that won't be sufficiently dirty for the full effect.


I have been sitting on some Dura Ace brake pads for the roadie bike for a couple of weeks now. My daughter looked on as I swapped those out.

Ever since she started riding without training wheels or my hands on her shoulders, she's been a bike fanatic. I may have to find her one of these in five or six years.

It being Bike to Work week, I'm a bit disappointed with my co-workers: none of them rode today, either.

Miles: maybe 0.2 while testing the brakes.

Monday, May 17, 2010

First day of Bike to Work Week

I overslept this morning. I didn't let that stop me.

I took the commuter bike as it was all kinds of splashy this morning from last night's rain. My street was still ground up so I took the sidewalk to the Mopac. I don't need a pinch flat a block from home.

I decided to take trails all the way to work today instead of the faster side streets. I was a little disappointed in Lincoln, I expected to see newbies all over the place. Maybe it was because I was running 15 minutes late. Maybe the overnight rain had folks clamoring for their steel and glass isolation chambers. I don't blame them: if you don't have the gear, taking the car is probably the right decision.

I was stoked to see the new Antelope Creek channel opened up and flowing today. It was open before, it just seemed fitting that they have water flowing through it this week, I guess.

I practically had the trails to myself after I passed the Zoo all the way to Old Cheney. I pushed it into the big ring and let it rip. I also found no cars crossing at South street and an empty Calvert street. That never happens.

I noticed two other bikes at work. yay!

After work, I chatted with a co-worker who had ridden a dual suspension Magna to work. (I know, I know. but if you don't know what you're missing, how can you be missing it? I could let him take my road bike for a spin around the building. I have a feeling that would be like giving a 16 year old the keys to a Corvette after he's only ever driven a 1974 Honda Civic.)

 My ride home was fun, I pedaled the top half of the gear range for most of the ride, moving the heavy beast of a bike at 17+mph most of the way. The chicane from the bridges to the trail as it passes behind Shopko always kills my rhythm. I don't like carving corners with panniers.

We then packed the kids up and headed for the Olive Garden. After sufficient carb-loading we stopped at Anderson Ford to scope out an Edge. We've outgrown our "kid cars", we're going to need at least one grown-up car for the foreseeable future.

While I'm sure they could add it to any car on the lot, a Thule 4-bike hitch-mounted rack is a $229 dealer-installed option.

The panoramic vista roof is sweet. Think retractable moonroof, except it's half of the roof. And the other half of the roof is "fixed" glass.

I have to pick the kids up after work tomorrow and then I have to cart my daughter to tae kwon do after dinner, so that means I have to drive. Too many activities, not enough time.

I'm glad I took the long way to and from work: 14.4 miles.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Baby Steps

I participated in "Bike to Work, Lincoln" this morning.

I saw some folks at Peter Pan Park removing bikes from cars to ride. I presume they pedaled back to Peter Pan Park, returned home to unload their bikes and then drove to work.

At first I thought: why are you folks being such posers?

But later on in the day it hit me: they're addicted to their cars. They don't want other car addicts to know they want to break the habit. 

After all, cars are intoxicating. Remember the first time you got behind the wheel and turned the key to start up mom's Volvo so you could operate the handheld car vac without killing the battery? How about the first time you put dad's Olds in reverse to move it out of the way so you could get the lawn mower out? What about the first night you went cruising with friends the night after you got your license?

You had a big fat smile on your face every time. Operating a powerful car is intoxicating. Your own personal chariot, yours to explore wide open spaces with minimal effort.

You know what I'm talking about. The automobile is a tough habit to break. Been there. I still struggle at times.

So after a day of wondering why folks would waste all that time to fake the funk, I no longer fault those folks.

Why the change of heart? Those folks might have left those bikes in the garage without "Bike to Work, Lincoln".

They just need to take baby steps. Dip a toe in the water before jumping in feet first. Take a "test drive", if you will.

That makes today's event an overwhelming success, in my opinion.

I only hope we didn't scare them away from leaving the car at home come Monday: A pic of me at Trago Park surfaced on Facebook, makes me look like a comic book villain.

I look like a cross between Sling Blade and Solomon Grundy. Pic taken by Shane Harders

On a side note, I met Elaine Hammer today. She is really nice. She told me she doesn't like to be in the middle of groups and would ride behind us from Peter Pan park to Trago Park and on to the State Office Building. I didn't know the 27th street bike bridge was named after her until after the group from Peter Pan Park rode over with her bringing up the rear.

I found out later she has been the driving force behind Lincoln's trail network for the past several years.

And for that, I thank her a great deal.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My car: better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it

I drove to work this morning. We were greeted with temporary no parking signs in our yard Wednesday.

The city is grinding our street up and putting down new asphalt. I shouldn't complain, but there are streets that need far more TLC than mine.

I decided there is a remote chance I might need my car today. Instead of playing "Musical Vehicles", I took the easy way out and drove to work.

I put in the MTV Amp2 Compilation for both legs of the journey. Brain dead repetitive electronic music for a brain dead mode of transportation.

I also put gas in the tank for the first time in two months.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pershing Velodrome

Lincolnites approved the Haymarket Arena.

The looming question: what happens to Pershing Auditorium?

After this epic winter, my vote is Pershing Velodrome. I got really good at Mariokart in January. Just sayin'.

For those who don't know, a velodrome is a high-banked cycling track. You've probably seen one while flipping channels during the Olympic games.

I have a feeling the bicycle will be a big part of the coming decades. Bike lanes are popping up in cities all over the country. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has pledged support for safe cycling initiatives.

People already race bicycles, but as more and more people discover the bicycle as transportation, more and more people are going to seek out racing opportunities. Lincoln has the opportunity to become the midwest's winter cycling destination in the coming decades with Pershing Velodrome.

 There are outdoor velodromes in Colorado Springs, Minneapolis, Chicago, and St. Louis. I like to think people in these cities want to race during the winter.

Having an indoor cycling facility and a weekly "winter racing series" from November through March can draw tourists to Lincoln who would otherwise not have visited. (Gotta get heads on pillows in Lincoln's hotels to pay for the Arena somehow...)

I also envision people from the surrounding office buildings convening at the Velodrome during the week for an "epic lunchtime spinning class".

Seriously: riding a stationary bike is the cycling equivalent of fast food: it takes the edge off and you aren't starving. You just wish it had more flavor.

I've read that Pershing is still a great structure, a testament to those hands that constructed it decades ago, but the inside needs some serious TLC. 

If there's room for a track (both inside Pershing and in Lincoln), this is a great opportunity to move this aging facility into the 21st century.

Why not? Folks are trying to build a horse track.

I bike and I vote.

I planned to stop by my local polling place this morning to vote, but was excited to get on the bike and headed straight to work. Whoops.

So I hit the polls this afternoon. The church that doubles as my polling place lacks a bike rack or a post that looked bike-lock friendly, so I brought my bike in with me.

I a look from a volunteer. She gave me the kind of look that had me thinking my fly was open. One that says "How dare you bring that THING in HERE!" It's not like I brought a dog, gerbil or pot-bellied pig into the polling place, it's a dirty bike I leaned up against a wall, out of harm's way.

Since there's no cycling-related issues on the ballot, I didn't think I was electioneering, but I must have been doing something wrong.

Or not: they let me vote.

15.9 miles today.

Nothin' but time to sit and m-f-in think

I woke up to a nice thunderstorm yesterday morning, so I got dressed in my work clothes, hopped in the car and drove. I need a drying rack in my cubicle for my rain pants and jacket before I ride in a torrent like that.

On a good day, I can commute to work in about 20 minutes by bicycle. It feels like 5 minutes.

It took me 27 minutes to drive that morning, and it felt like an hour.

I put in the Friday Soundtrack and tried to drown my "ugh" feeling with the Isley Brothers's "Tryin' to See Another day". It didn't work.

One couplet from another song on that disc puts things into perspective:

I had my ass in the tank, with nothin but time to sit and mother-f-kin think. ("Blast if I Have To", E-A-Ski)

Fittingly, he's talking about being jailed.

So what do I think about?

Modern cars are designed to isolate the occupants from the outside world and can be operated with minimal input from the driver. It is designed to get people from point A to point B with as little stress as possible. When you're done driving a modern car, you feel like you've been sitting on the couch all day. They're very forgiving compared to cars made even 15 years ago.

The "nicer" modern cars have a multitude of cupholders in convenient locations. My wife's parents and the four of us rented a Toyota Sienna for a family trip a couple years ago. Maybe it's an extreme example, but we counted 18 cupholders. The minivan is designed for eight passengers.

It would seem that vehicles where cupholders are an afterthought (like my Cavalier) are "piles of junk", despite having the same rattles and quirks any other 11 year old car would have.

The resale value of a Cavalier is significantly less than a comparably worn out Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. The cup holders in those cars are designed around two medium sodas from most fast-food drive-throughs. How convenient!

The Cavalier's lone cupholder was designed around a 12oz soda can. What a pile of junk!

The entertainment options on vehicles produced even 10 years ago were an AM/FM radio, cassette and CD. Nowadays you can plug in an iPod into many cars and have every song that ever touched the Billboard Hot 100 at your fingertips. Heck, some are even voice-activated so you don't have to lift a finger to change music.

And then there's the automatic climate controls that ensure it is always 72 degrees in the car, regardless of the conditions outside. Set it and forget it.

All of this helps to further isolate the occupants of a modern car from their surroundings. Everyone wants to be comfortably numb.

And then the occupants of a modern car take vacations: Ski trips. Tubing trips down a river. Camping. All of these diversions from their numb existances to "get back to nature" or "add what's been missing" or even "to feel alive again".

Case in point: I saw a commercial for taking a "South Dakota Adventure" vacation, starting at $122 per night, including bike rental. What's wrong with just getting on the bike and going somewhere?

(Note: I'm not dogging the concept of a bike vacation. I'm just pointing out the inference that cycling is something you do on vacation, not every day in your own neighborhood or town. I would totally take a South Dakota Adventure vacation by bicycle again. I've ridden the roads around Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park and the Needles when I was a teenager and recommend it to anyone looking for an inexpensive and easy vacation. Find a place to camp or rent a cabin and just ride. Don't forget to bring your "climbing lungs".)

And my favorite thing to think about: the insanity of getting in a car, driving to a gym and running/climbing/pedaling nowhere for an hour and then driving back home. (Okay, I laugh to myself about this while I ride my bike, too.)

This leads me to one conclusion: the occupants of a modern car do not care about the journey, they only care about the destination.

People who ride bikes are all about the journey. People who ride bikes hear birds chirp. People who ride bikes feel the wind. People who ride bikes observe the trailside mulberry bush go from flower to fruit as the days pass by. People who ride bikes get some free Vitamin D from the giant unlicensed fusion reactor in the sky. People who ride bikes make eye-contact with other human beings, even those who aren't handing them food and beverages through a drive-up window. People who ride bikes get 30+ minutes of aerobic exercise each day.

Most importantly, people who ride bikes desensitize themselves to the dangers of the outside world so they can enjoy the outside world.

Modern cars are sensory deprivation chambers that can drive a person who rides a bike insane with their thoughts.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dairy Queen is now Bossy's.

The plan for Saturday was to ride with the kids to Dairy Queen right off the MoPac and back home, but there is no more Dairy Queen. In its place is "Bossy's".

So we rode to Bossy's, enjoyed some chocolate soft serve ice cream cones, and rode back instead.

Obligatory "bikes leaning against the wall" blog post pic:

The pricing and selection at Bossy's seems to be on par with Dairy Queen, the logo and colors are all that's changed. We'll probably do this again.

My daughter likes to go fast. She is also becoming a bit of a show-off. How fast can we go up this hill? How fast can I go DOWN this hill?

On the other hand: my six year old daughter learned an important lesson about trail etiquette: always make sure you have enough room to pass, always pass on the left and always announce you're "on your left".

Long story short: she passed her little brother on the right and bumped handlebars. He faceplanted after trying to regain control of his high-centered-on-a-training-wheel bike.

Good thing he landed in the grass, though he still got a nosebleed from it. A few minutes of hugs and wiping blood and tears and he was back in business. He rode the last half mile like nothing had happened.

My daughter now understands that there really are consequences for ignoring the safety of others: she spent the rest of the ride passing walkers with a wide berth and announcing "on your left".

I breathed a little easier every time.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Trail-Street intersection etiquette

I ride like nobody else is paying attention, because they aren't. I have to pay attention to motorists or I become street pizza.

It happens every single day: I pull up to the intersection of Essex Road and the Rock Island Trail, put a foot down and take a hand off the handlebar and maybe take a swig from my bottle if I have it with me, all as subtle ways of showing motorists that I am stopped and that they can proceed.

I do so because I have a stop sign and I've seen motorists within a block of the intersection. (If I see no motorists, I will only slow down.)

It never fails: one of the motorists stops and waves me through.

When you're driving on a busy street and you see another car waiting at a stop sign to cross or enter the busy street, you don't stop to let them through, do you?

So why do you do it when there's a cyclist on the bike path who should be obeying the stop sign?

I appreciate the courtesy, but I'm not going to accept it.

I love the dumbfounded looks these folks have on their faces when I wave back. When they wave me through again, I reach over and grab the stop sign, maybe give it a little shake.

There's the what. Here's the why:
  1. First and foremost, if there's a motorist coming from the other direction, chances are they are not interested in stopping to let me through. KER SPLAT!
  2. You're emboldening newbies to completely ignore the trail stop signs. That doesn't bother you? Okay: your children are newbies, sitting in the back seat watching you and learning that "this is how drivers act". The second they get on a bike, they expect all drivers to act like you at the intersection. KER SPLAT!
  3. I have the stop sign. Not you. KER SPLAT!

I live near a street level crossing of the MoPac trail, which also has stop signs for trail users. Twice in the last eight years I have witnessed ambulances at this intersection. I don't need to guess what happened, I know before I even see the twisted bike frame and tacoed wheels: a cyclist ran the stop sign. I hear the screeching tires of a car suddenly stopping at least 4 times every summer.

Cyclists: ride like motorists don't see you. Half of them don't. If you need to stop, stop. Maintaining your momentum is not as important as maintaining your life. Two tons of Taurus hurts when it hits you at 25mph.

Motorists: please don't completely ignore the street-trail intersection, but don't encourage bad cyclist behavior, either.

We both have rules to follow.

11.7 miles today.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Contrary to the uninformed, I do pay taxes to use the roads.

Today I pedaled to the DMV. As the days progress, I find myself becoming a bit more ironic, being a bit more playful with life. I think it comes with riding a bike instead of driving a car.

Did you know the DMV has bike racks out front? Neither did I. They're on the far side of the building, over by where the Sheriff parks cars up for Title Inspection. True story.

I exchanged $85.50 for my car to legally rot in my driveway. No big loss really. It's an 11 year old Cavalier. I drive it only when needed. It has less than 60k on the odometer. It really has no major mechanical malfunctions. The car has been good. I shouldn't badmouth it at all.

I paid for my stickers and left on the bike to work.

I paid taxes on a car I seldom drive, which applies little wear and tear to the roads. I now understand how Republicans feel about healthcare "reform" and taxes. I am required to pay for services I never use. Hmm.

I could start listening to Glenn Beck, but I'd get all stressed out and angry. I think I'll just be smug in my positive life choices instead. Smiles!

On the ride home, I bumped into a neighbor who also commutes by bicycle. He rides a mountain bike fitted with skinny tires and is stupid fast on the trails. We had a bit of a race after A street. I won but only because of traffic on O street. (I never catch a break on O. EVER. I sit there for 3-4 minutes most days, but not today. The neighbor caught the traffic instead.)

After dinner, the family went for a short ride to a park. It turned out to be too long for our little one. He was done. The little trooper rode home for the last mile, owning it.

Today's mileage: 14.8

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Proud Dad, Bike Dad

Last summer, my daughter just straight up told me she could ride without training wheels. And don't touch the bike, daddy. She can ride without any help.

To this day, I have no idea what triggered this in her.

I obliged.

Predictably, she fell.


I tried to help, she refused.

She ultimately decided that biking was "too hard".

She was scared of (falling off of) her bike for a year.

I tried to help her overcome her fear of the bicycle. She was inconsolable.

Today, she conquered that fear. I put my hands on her shoulders, I told her to "mash that pedal down, then put your foot on the other pedal, and then mash it down too!"

Once she got some speed up, I took my hands off her shoulders. When she realized I wasn't holding her up, she would stop and look back.

I explained she rode all that distance by herself.

I told her she can start without my hands on her shoulders.

This time, she believed me.

To this moment, I have no idea what triggered that in her.

She pedaled her bike all by herself. She declared "The bike is so easy!" so many times this afternoon, it makes a bike dad's heart a-flutter!

She is already making plans to go on a "long ride" to Dairy Queen.

4 miles is a "long ride" when you're six years old. It'll be broken in half by ice cream, so it won't be that bad.

The Italian Tune-Up

At times, I pride myself in being a contrarian when it comes to my health. When I get a chest cold, I like to give myself an "Italian Tune Up".

A what? Well, Wikipedia defines an Italian Tune up as:

... a process whereby the operator of a motor vehicle runs the engine at full load for extended periods in order to burn carbon buildup from the combustion chambers and exhaust system.

A normal person would have climbed into bed. I did that later. Heck, I thought about doing it all afternoon. I went for a ride to the park with my son instead. He's three. He likes his bike with the training wheels. He likes the park.

After dinner, I couldn't shake the feeling of getting out on the bike. I had to do something.

I have been suffering from a chest cold the past few days. At first I thought it was allergies. Meh. This is a cold. I dislike colds.

In order to alleviate some of the symptoms Saturday night, I strapped on the heart rate monitor and pedaled with my heart rate above 150 beats per minute for an hour, I bumped it up above 165 for the last 15 minutes while breathing deeply, blowing out all kinds of phlegm and gunk.

I covered 20 miles on Lincoln's trail network in that hour and scared a group of kids and a guy in a motorized wheelchair in the process. (I ran up on the kids approaching 30mph and then almost ran into the guy on the chair while trying to pass the kids. Sorry about that.)

I felt great for the first half hour after the ride, like my old self. Once my heart rated dropped down to a normal level, I started to cough like I did before the ride, but with more phlegm. I had some 'tussin in an effort to get some sleep.

Yeah, it was sleep, but haphazard at best. I should have crashed the marathon, since I was probably awake from all the coughing.

On the bright side, my throat didn't "itch" today. My nasal passages have cleared up. Did the ride help? I like to think so.

On the other hand: this anecdote is probably the cycling equivalent of "bro-science": my relief is probably due to the cold running its course.

Doesn't mean it didn't feel good pushing myself when I was under the weather.