Thursday, June 11, 2015

Caution is the word of the day.

I have to say that the current rash of cycling accidents has given me pause.  I have been working on riding more consistently but I'm rethinking routes and timing again.  This is after multiple crashes here in the valley just last week.  By my count 3 cyclists were killed and 2 or 3 others seriously injured in less than a week.  and those are just the ones that made the news.

One of those injured was my next door neighbor who was riding his bike about a half mile from the house. I don't have all the details but it appears the car shot across a busy street right in front of him and he hit her car.  He spent a few day in the hospital with a concussion and is fortunately expected to make a full recovery.

All of these crashes once again have me thinking about the safety of riding on the roads in this area.  unfortunately there are not protected bike paths anywhere near my house. I know that if I had a nice path near the house I would definitely be inclined to bike more often as it would feel safer. I am hoping there will be more paths in the area to which we will be moving by the end of summer.

One of the contributing factors that make me less apt to ride with traffic are the speed limits around here. One of the roads I frequent, in fact the one on which my neighbor was hit, has a speed limit of 45 mph.  That means the cars are typically doing 55 to 60 mph.  This just isn't safe with the number of side streets into various subdivisions.  Everyone is in such a hurry and there are multiple crashes on this road each month.

So, my concerns with safety and my trip out of state have curtailed my recent riding adventures.  Next week it may be the heat keeping me to shorter rides as we are heading close to 110 by Monday and staying in the 100+ range for the foreseeable future.  I do want to and plan to ride, but I am being extra cognizant of what is happening all around me.

I still say Get on your bikes and ride, but do it safely!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The wonders of technology

Technology is a wonderful thing. We have so many devices around us that work, essentially, flawlessly that we take them for granted.  Case in point. I have a Garmin Forerunner 305 that I purchased when I was training for my first ever triathlon back in 2010.  It is almost 5 years old at this point. Except for the one or two times I've screwed up hitting buttons incorrectly, it has performed essentially flawlessly for me.



It dutifully records my time, distance and actual track that I take when I do my rides.  I can then, through the wonders of that same technology we take for granted, upload and share that information with the world through sites like Daily Mile, Map My Ride and Strava.  I can also participate in a monumental group ride of sorts like the National Bike Challenge.

Now, like I said, this is something that we take for granted.  I put my Garmin in the cradle, plug it into my computer and magically it uploads the data for me.

This morning it has let me down.  I uploaded the data from my ride and while it does show the time and distance of my ride, that real wonder, the actual track of the ride is blank. No matter what I do it appears that the track file on the device has been corrupted and therefore is unusable for any of the applications that I link it with.

Now, I never believe that something isn't going to work the first time it doesn't.  I've tried deleting and re-importing the data from the device but to no avail.  I've tried loading it directly to various sites, including Garmin Connect, but again no luck.

This leaves me with what feels like an emptiness, a hole in my training.  Up to this point I had this nice, what I felt was essentially complete record of my rides and now it feels like its ruined.

OK, its not that bad.  When put in perspective it means nothing that I don't have the actual track I rode for a training ride around essentially the same course that I've ridden hundreds of time previously.

I do hope that this is but a singular glitch and will reset and clear out the Garmin in preparation for my next ride.

Get on your bike and ride!!!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Rolling right along

Got up at 4:00 am again this morning to get in another ride before work. It was ride number 11 for the National Bike challenge.  I've not gotten in as many rides as I had hoped so far this year, but I have increased the average distance of the rides.  So far this year my average is right at 5 miles per ride.  Not bad and not good.

Well, this morning's ride was challenging as the winds were out of the southwest at 17 gusting to 28 mph.  The direction meant that as I was going up the slight uphill I was not only fighting gravity but the wind too. I'm guessing based on my perceived effort that it cost me about 1 mph on the uphill. Of course you would hope that would mean an increase on the downhill, but it was more of a cross wind and blocked by houses and a wall. Here's the map from strava:



This morning's ride was also challenging due to an idiot in his little white car.  On my first lap, at the end of the block, on the short street (Mercer see the little bump in the lower left on the map above), I noticed a car in the driveway of a house with a woman leaning in through the open passenger door.  The car was running with the lights on.  No big deal.

After I made the 2 turns and headed up Quarterhorse towards Pebble, I heard an engine racing and the whit car came flying by doing about 60 in the 35 mph zone.  He passed me with a good bit of room so it was no big deal.  he got to the stop sign and merely slow as he took the corner.  When I finally made the corner and looked he was already approaching Durango (about 3/4 of a mile away) with his right signal on.  He must have been flying down Pebble which has a 45 mph speed limit.  I thought little more about it as I made my way around the rest of my loop.

As I got to the end of the block again, I saw the woman standing in the street looking away from me in the direction the car had traveled.  As I didn't want to startle her, I moved towards the center of the street. As I was passing her, I heard an engine and saw headlights turning onto Westchester and come flying around the corner.  I moved to the left side of the street, next to the parked cars and the car passed about a foot to my right.  He probably wasn't even paying attention to what was in front of him. I'm glad I was defensive and had moved to the right or he would have run me down.

I shouted that people shouldn't drive if they were idiots, or something to that effect and kept going on my way.  I had thought about stopping and letting the driver know just what an idiot he was, but figured he was likely drunk, it seeming like they were coming home from a late night since it was 4:20 in the morning. My common sense and discretion prevailed and I just kept riding, thinking to myself lots of nasty things I would like to say to the driver.

It figures that there were only 2 cars that passed me this morning on my ride and one of the two was a total idiot.  Anyway, when I next passed the house the car was gone and there was no one outside.  My guess was that they were dropping the woman off and needed to run to the store to get her something. Th irony is that I ride in the early morning to try and avoid the idiots on the road but it seems they still find a way to find me. :)

Other than that it was a good ride and I enjoyed myself.

So, get on your bike and ride!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Tires make a difference

Got my new tires in the other day and finally have the rear changed and it made a very noticeable difference.  Gone was the very pronounced wobble with every rotation of my rear wheel.  The ride was nice and smooth.  One other difference was an increase in rolling resistance. For most cyclists the increase would be minimal, but since I am well above average in the stress on the bike department due to my size, it was definitely noticeable to me.

My normal training route takes me around the same roughly one mile loop several times, so I've gotten to know the route quite well and the amount of effort it takes to ride it.  I can usually predict within a few seconds what my lap times will be based upon how it feels that morning.  this morning, with the new tire installed I felt significantly slower and my times bear this out.

A week ago, I completed 3 loops of my "one block" segment with times ranging from 4:16 to 4:23. My top speed was 20.6 mph.  This morning, on the same segment, in very similar conditions, my times were 4:45 to 4:54 and a top speed of 19.7 mph. I felt the increased work I had to do and my times proved me out.

The increased resistance is likely due to the fact that the new tires have a max. pressure of 75 PSI as opposed to the max of 84 PSI on the old Michelin tire.  9 PSI may not sound like a lot, but it definitely gives a smoother, softer ride. The trade off it it takes more work to get the tire rolling.

Now, it may sound like I'm complaining, but I'm not.  I'm just noticing that I won't be setting any KOM's any time soon.  I need to work harder, to get faster and lose some of this weight before the KOM's once again fall. :)

Get on your bikes and ride!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

User Error

Got up at 4:00 am again this morning to go for my ride.  I had checked out my rear tire again last night and it needs replacing.  There is a pronounced wiggle to it.  It appears to be "throwing a belt" in one spot where it is off center about 1/8".  Not a huge amount but very noticeable and I believe indicative off an impending total failure if I put too much stress on it, like cornering at speed.

I didn't want to not ride this morning as I wait for a new tire to arrive, so I decided to do some easy laps around the block.  I grabbed my Garmin, headed out and got ready to ride.  Once the Garmin had acquired the satellite signal, I hit the start button and heard a peculiar beep.  It was a combination of the high and the low beep the Garmin makes when it starts and stops recording the ride.

I headed out and started making some gentle laps around the block.  About 6 laps in, I decided to check my time as I was curious what my pace was taking it easy.  I was dismayed to see 00:00:00 on it.  It seems the peculiar beep was because I had double tapped the button when I started it, thereby immediately turning it off.  I hit the button to start it and verified it was, in fact, running.

I completed another 6 laps and called it a morning.  Looking at my Strava, it shows that I started the ride at 4:10 but only had moving time of 14:28 and a distance of 2.84 miles. The elapsed time, however, was 29:35. It was obviously user error.


Oh well.  I know I went the distance and my health will benefit from it, even if there is no record of the true distance. :)

As for the tire, while the tread is not overly worn, you have to figure I have stressed the tire much more than a normal rider would due to my weight.  Looking at the rides I've done since I put those tires on the bike in 2013, I've got over 1200 miles on the tires and I figure that's worth about twice that for an average rider. The other thing I noticed on close inspection of the tire, is that the ride half is noticeable worn more than the left half. The reason for this is that the vast majority of the turns I make on the bike, especially at speed, are right turns so it makes sense.

I hope you can get on your bike and ride!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Issue Not Solved

As I mentioned yesterday I had an issue developing with my bike which I attempted to rectify last night.  I needed to do a bit of maintenance anyway, so I changed my clothes and headed to the garage after dinner.

My first order of business was to replace the front tube.  Fortunately I have a couple of tubes here that I purchased as back-ups so I wouldn't have to run to the store if I was ever in need.  Unfortunately the valve length on the one I choose was a bit shorter than what I had on the bike.  My wheels are very deep V in order to provide more strength and shorter valves just don't work. I believe I had 75 mm valves on the bike and the one I was replacing it with was only 45 mm. It was barely long enough.

I installed the new tube and paid particular attention to how true the tire was within in the wheel.  I've had issues before where I've not seated the tire properly and had the tube blow out on me.  Once I was assured it was evenly mounted, I inflated it to the recommended max of 84 psi and put it back on my bike.

Next I wanted to make sure it was true so I gave it a few fast spins and the front tire looked great.  I checked all of the spokes to make sure none were loose and it was good.

Then I turned my attention to my rear wheel.  I gave the pedals a few spins and notice a slight imperfection in the tire as it went around.  It wasn't much but I could see it.  I slowly applied the brakes to see if I could isolate the spot. the wasn't any real high spot as the distance from the pads to the wheel never varied.  I was able to find the spot and it appears to be a slight imperfection in the rear tire itself.  It wasn't seated quite right in that spot.

I let out some air and tried to make sure the tire was seated properly on the rim.  There is a reflective whitewall on my tires that I tried to make sure was evenly spaced around the rim.  I seemed to have taken care of the issue, but checked the spokes, just to make sure and one seemed slightly loose to me in the same area of the wheel. I tightened it up a bit and gave it a spin. Things seemed to be better so I cleaned up and went in.

This morning I went for another 4:00 am ride and it seemed that the bike was indeed better, at least at first.  As the ride progressed, however the thumping and slight wobble came back and seemed to get worse the farther I rode. It became very noticeable by the time I headed back in after 6 miles.  So, tonight I need to look at the rear wheel again and I think I may need to change the rear tire.

Get on your bike and ride!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Biking is cool

And I don't mean just cool as in way cool, but cool as in temperature.  This morning I got up again at 4:00 am to get out for my ride.  I noticed it was a bit cool in the house so I opted for my long sleeve jersey instead of my t-shirt that I have been riding in. I got to the garage and checked my tire pressure to find my front tire down to less than 20 lbs.  That is not a good thing when yesterday I had topped it off at 84 lbs.

I managed to pump it back up and close the valve with no audible hissing so it seemed good to go. The inner part of the valve appears to be bent but it looks like it holds the air in.  I'll need to replace the tube, though, as I don't trust it.

I opened the garage and immediately felt the temperature difference. It rained here in Las Vegas yesterday and there was actually humidity in the air, which combined with the cool 51 degree temperature made it feel almost cold. OK, I don't want to hear about true cold from you northerners, I know how cold it can get, but for here, it was cold. Add to that riding at up to 21 mph this morning and my fingers were quite cold!

As I worked out the stiffness in my legs and got to the faster portion of my morning route, I noticed that the bike just didn't feel right.  I didn't trust it going into the turn so I did something I almost never do and that is hit the brakes to slow for the corner.  The second lap felt wrong as well.

I changed it up and went around the block instead of the longer loop and there was a distinct, almost thumping when I was going faster.  It felt like a tire was out of round.  I stopped after the second lap and tried to see what was up but I couldn't see anything obvious.  I actually suspect a loose spoke or two.  I'll need to get out there and take a look at it this evening.

Many people aren't as tuned into the performance of their bike as I am, but I need to be.  At 425 lbs. I'm putting a great deal of stress on the components and if one starts to fail, it can quickly become catastrophic. So, when I feel the bike is off I normally stop riding until I have a chance to check it out.

The good news is that was ride number 5 for the National Bike Challenge and I am slowly accumulating points. It also feels good to be getting back out there on a much more consistent basis.

I hope you get on your bike and ride!!!!



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

We took the Bronze Medal

In Monday's post I mentioned that I was proud of my team and that I had lost 28 lbs. as part of the Corporate Challenge's Biggest Winner Competition.  Well I'm happy to say that as a team we lost a total of 85 lbs. which equates to 6.16% of our initial body weight.  This was good enough to earn us 3rd place and a bronze medal in the competition. YAY TEAM!

Subsequent to that I got on my bike and rode on Monday. I rode 2.7 miles.  Not bad for my 5th ride of the year. Yesterday I got up at 4:00 am and rode another 4.1 miles.  Increased the distance nicely. This morning I got up once again at 4:00 am and rode 5.4 miles.  Again a healthy increase in distance.



I think I've started a trend here I hope to carry on through out the rest of the National Bike Challenge. So far I've gotten in 3 rides for a total of 72 points.  I feel like I'm well on my way towards my goal of eclipsing last year's mark. I plan on keeping up daily riding and have a good average so far.

So, I hope you too can get on your bike and ride!

Monday, May 11, 2015

And here we go again...FINALLY!

OK, I have to come clean. I have been planning on riding my bike for many many weeks now.  My last ride was the 13th of March. I would make all these plans to get out and ride, but for some reason when it came right down to it, the motivation just wasn't there.

Today, it finally was and I got out for a ride. OK, it was a short one, under 3 miles, but this is a positive step. Part of my trepidation was reading about several people who have been hit by cars in the last few months.  I definitely didn't and don't, want to become someone's hood ornament.

Finally today I felt that I just had to go for it and I did and I enjoyed it.

I think it's time to start getting up at 4:00 am and riding while its cool and the traffic is light. Hopefully in the near future, after we move, I can find some decent bike paths that get me away from traffic where I will feel a whole lot safer.

In other news, today was also the weigh out for the Biggest Winner competition in the corporate challenge and I am proud to say that the scale showed a 28 lb. loss for me. I'll certainly take it and now its all about continuing the journey.

So, now that I did it, its your turn to...

GET ON YOUR BIKE AND RIDE!!!!!!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Are you willing?

As part of my job, we are learning a new way of doing things. In order to learn this new philosophy we are becoming educated in a new way of approaching problems and part of that education is through some online videos which are on YouTube.  Now, these videos are fairly mundane and a bit on the boring side at times. As I was watching one of the videos, however, there appeared a link on to the right for another video that caught my attention.

The video was a compilation of motivational speeches from various movies, ads and tv shows and it was powerful. It reminded me that if you want something, truly want it you are willing to do what it takes to achieve it.  It doesn't matter what it is that you want. Sure most of the examples are sports related, but that's because they are easy to show and measure.  Truthfully anything that is worth going for and achieving will take sacrifice.

The question came up over and over as the video played - are you willing?  Are you willing to endure the pain to reap the reward?  Are you willing to put forth the effort and do the work you have to do in order to achieve your dream? Are you willing to fail? When you do fail are you willing to get back up and try again?

As I watched this video I realized that we all have to answer this one simple question - is our dream something we are willing to work for? If its worth it then the answer is yes.  Its that simple.  If you have a dream and are willing to do the work, to strive to attain it, then you will succeed.

I had a powerful revelation while I watched the video.  I haven't been willing to do the work, I haven't been willing to try and fail in pursuit of my dreams, I haven't been willing to do what it takes.  That changes now.  I am willing.  I will achieve.  It will take time and effort.  I will fail, but I will get back up and keep moving forward towards my dream.

So, now I ask you... are you willing?