Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Why We Ride

Doug, over at A Year of Living…humm…dangerous? published a post this morning with the same title (here) and it got me thinking about this topic. He was pointing out that it is too easy to get caught up in comparing our performance on the bike against those around us and in doing so, we may have a tendency to lose sight of our reasons for being on the bike to begin with.  I totally agree.

I try not to compare myself to others in terms of speed and/or distance, but when I read of other's exploits on the bike, riding in races, completing epic tours or even earning KOM's I start to think about how slow I am or how little I've ridden or how I have yet to actually complete a century since I've started riding again. I start to focus on what I'm not, rather than what I am and what I am is having fun.

Sure I'm riding to better my health, to lose weight and to get in shape, but the real reason I ride is that I enjoy it. It's just plain fun to ride my bike!  I have to constantly remind myself of this otherwise I lose motivation because I see the ride more as a chore rather than the enjoyable experience it truly is.

So, go, Have fun.

Get on your bikes and ride!!!!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Motivation is the key

I have a ride coming up on Saturday.  Its the Tour De Cure here in Las Vegas and I am planning on doing the 20 mile route.  With that in mind I know I need to get in more rides to have a better day on the bike.  I have increased my number of rides significantly this month over last month and I have the impending ride to thank for that increase.  It has been the motivation I needed to actually get on my bike and ride.

It wasn't, however, motivation enough to get me to ride this past weekend.  The temperatures weren't bad, nor was there any significant precipitation to limit my riding.  What my limited motivation had to overcome was wind.  Specifically wind that was in the 25 to 25 mph range with gusts into the 40's or even 50's.  Sure, the added wind gives a harder workout, but it also sucks.  I can't get myself motivated to strain against the wind, pedaling for all I'm worth to eek out a mere 5 or maybe 6 mph on my bike. Part of that is becasue my motivation doesn't involve needing to ride to get anywhere.

If I was on a bike tour, or my bike was my primary means of transportation, then my motivation level to get somewhere would probably have been able to overcome the wind, but when I am riding for fun and exercise, primarily for fun, then the wind wins as it just isn't fun to me to struggle like that at this time. I imagine a day, in the not too distant future where I would take the wind as a personal challenge and relish pitting myself against natures fury to prove my supremacy, but frankly I'm not that cyclist, yet. I hope to get there in the future, though.

That is why I sign myself up for these events like this coming weekend's Tour De Cure.  It gives me the motivational nudge to overcome my basic inertia and get off the couch and on my bike.

What is your motivation to ride?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What should we do?

I was reading Chris' post this morning over at The Chainring Report in which he talks about Earth Day and how he had planned to honor it, but changed his plans due to the weather.  he also mentions how his planting of food crops felt right.  It certainly got me thinking about Earth Day and our existence on this planet.

I know we are currently living in a way that is unsustainable long term.  Our decisions and lifestyles are such that we are spending our children's futures and this cannot continue. there was even a report published recently that says the main source of water for the Las Vegas valley, Lake Mead, will only last 22 more years. The continued drought and changing weather patterns are causing the main source of water for this city of more than 2 million people to dry up.

One of our main problems here in the USA is that we are a very car-centric culture and we live with the idea that we need cars to survive.  Long term this is going to be our demise.  We are already past what has been termed Peak Oil which means we are now experiencing declining petroleum availability.  This will increase prices and decrease our standard of living. Not only that but the exploration for and retrieval of petroleum is causing more and more environmental devastation. We've gotten most of the easy to get oil, now it becomes more and more difficult to get the remaining oil, like from tar sands, and the environmental impact is ever increasing.

Do I have a sure-fire quick solution to the issues?  Nope, unfortunately not.  Do I enjoy many of the benefits of relatively cheap petroleum in terms of being able to move about freely, enjoy A/C in the summer, Heat in the winter and water in the desert? Of course, but I also recognize that change is coming and we need to look hard at how we are using these precious, dwindling resources.

I have said before that if we had a better cycling infrastructure here in the valley, I would start cycling to work. Sure we have areas where they have embraced cycling by building interconnected bike paths and bike lanes, but unfortunately where I live in the valley there is no good route to get to where these exist. I have been driving one or more of my grand kids to or from school as well lately. I also sweat a LOT when I ride in warmer weather and have concerns about no shower facilities at work when I arrive. I need to look neat, clean and professional while in my cubicle and in front of employees. I realize there are solutions to these issues, but right now those are not acceptable alternatives.

One solution to the bike commute dilemma is to move closer to my work and take advantage of those areas that have cycling infrastructure. My issue there is that affordable houses in desirable areas with this infrastructure are hard to find. I am ever looking a the available housing options and may, one day, fond an acceptable alternative.

The other thing I look at is how we are generating power for our various electric and electronic devices, One resource we have in abundance here in the desert is sunlight and solar energy is a very viable player in power generation. There are a few smaller solar power plants which have recently come on line, but this only represents a small percentage of the total power picture. These are expensive to build and maintain and therefore are still not cost-effective when compared to fossil fuel generation options. One technology I love is called a Solar Updraft Tower or a Solar Chimney.  I've actually written a blog post here about it.

Its a passive system that harnesses the convective forces inside a greenhouse and chimney to produce electricity using wind turbines.  The one big drawback is the cost of construction, but once built the cost to maintain and operate the plant is minimal.

While I don't have many answers, I do believe change is needed and we have to be the instruments of that change or our children and our children's children will be paying the price for our current lifestyle. So on reflection we need to extend many of the ideals of Earth Day beyond just one day and make them a year round focus.

Eat Better.

Get on your bike and ride!

Save the earth!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Riding weather is here

Saturday was a sunny day, with highs around 82 degrees and almost no wind.  Not a bad day at all to get out on the bike.  So as I was sitting in the house thinking about riding, I got up, changed and headed out on my bike.  I thoroughly enjoyed my ride.  It wasn't far, only 8.3 miles, nor was it fast, but I got out there and I enjoyed it!

This morning I got out again before work.  The weather was again wonderful - temperature around 70 degrees, almost no wind.  I had my alarm set for 4:00 am as usual when I get out before work.  It went off and I didn't even hesitate, I got right up and started getting ready.  Shorts, jersey, socks and headed downstairs and grabbed my Garmin.  I have a Forerunner 305 which I've had for 3 1/2 years now.  I love it, but the last couple of times I've used it, I had to wait almost 5 minutes for it to acquire the satellites and be ready to go. I'm wondering if it might be time to start looking at a new device.

After getting a stick of gum, I headed out to the garage and put on my shoes.  I then topped off my tires.  It amazes me how the low volume of air, losses pressure so fast.  They were up to 84 psi on Saturday.  This morning I had to pump them up from about 72 psi.  Once I had them up to pressure, I grabbed my helmet and gloves, hit the opener and headed out to get ready to ride.  I started my Garmin, put on my gear, turned on my lights and waited for the Garmin to be ready.

And waited. And waited.  It was almost 6 minutes before the Garmin finally showed that it was ready to go.  I had debated just using my phone and Strava, DailyMile or MapMyRide to record the details of this morning's efforts, but decided to wait it out since i wanted to update all 3 sites with the data.

Yes, I am on all 3 sites, plus a fourth called Plus 3 where logging my rides earns money for charities.

Fortunately once it found the satellites, it performed flawlessly and recorded my ride.

The ride itself was uneventful.  I was feeling it a bit after 5 laps and had to push through to make the 8 I completed.  The interesting part was that it wasn't my legs so much that felt it, but my arms and hands.  I guess I'm just not used to riding as much as I should be.  That will change as I am riding the next 3 mornings as well as at least one day over the weekend.  I plan to repeat the morning rides next week in preparation for the Tour De Cure on May 3rd.

I hope the weather is improving in your area and that you were able to get out and ride as well.

Remember, eat better and get on your bike and ride!

Monday, April 14, 2014

A good weekend of competition

This was a good weekend for 2 teams I am captain of in the Las Vegas Corporate Challenge.  Our Tug O War team took 3rd place, winning bronze medals and our Laser Tag team tied for 2nd which won us Silver.  I am so proud of my teammates and all the work they did to achieve these results!

I wish I was in a better position to pull for the tug o war but replacing myself as a puller with 2 strong people worked well.

It was a double elimination tournament.  We won our first pull, lost our second, won the third and fourth, but lost the 5th.  The only 2 teams to beat us were the 2 teams in the finals for the top 2 spots so it all worked out.

Sunday at Laser tag we were in the arena with 5 other teams for 2 games.  We dominated the 2 games to be among the top 6 teams overall who advanced into the finals.  The finals were a tough game against the other top teams.  we held our own and ended up tied with the another team, team NNSS for second place.  The winners were team Zappos.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Strava and KOM's

Chris Chainring over at From the Pavement's Edge wrote a couple of posts recently that talk about Strava and King of the Mountain honors.  Bike Noob has also recently become a Strava convert as he mentions here.  Both of these got me thinking about the whole idea of an application that tracks various segments of roads and trails and allows riders to measure their riding of these segments not only against themselves but against others who have ridden and tracked their cycling along the same segments.

Previously I've mentioned looking for local segments and riding them just to see how I could do against other riders.  In this post I talk about a quick ride and looking for local segments. I'm not obsessed with the segments, primarily because I know I am not fast, but it is fun to compare myself to others and watch my progress as I set new PRs (Personal Records) on the various segments as my cycling ability improves.

One thing that annoyed me, however, was that some other local cyclist seemed to be segment hunting to see if they could achieve KOMs (King Of The Mountain) on those segments.  I had created a personal segment which I had unfortunately made public. My purpose for this was simply to measure my own progress by letting Strava tell me when I had improved on my previous best time.  All was well and good until these faster cyclists saw it and decided to do their thing, completely destroying my time!  Here is the current leaderboard from that segment:

As you can see, Joe Lindner was the first to beat my time back in 2012, then a year ago Jason and Terra apparently rode the segment together cementing their KOM and QOM titles.  Quite a difference between what they did and what I did, but the important thing is that my PR on 8/1/13 is over 2 mph faster than my first try after creating the segment back in April of 2012.  Progress has been made.  My goal is to increase my PR on this segment this year by at least 1 mph.  We'll see if I can do it.

This is what Strava is for, measuring oneself against previous accomplishments and against others. The key is to not get obsessed with the numbers and comparisons to the point where the riding is work and no longer fun.  Its the fun that keeps me riding and really nothing else.

Eat well and Get On Your Bike And Ride!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

It helps to do the right things

I had a pretty good, active weekend.  My weight doesn't show it though because I ate some of the wrong foods and not in moderation.  I wasn't extreme by any means, but I didn't stick to my limits. In the activity department, I walked a bunch, rode my bike twice, played some Laser Tag which was a blast and didn't sit as much as usual.

The problem is my weight is up today and significantly and I can only attribute that to what I ate.  I need to re-evaluate my eating plan and make adjustments.

I am increasing my physical activity leading up to the Tour De Cure on May 3rd.  I got in a couple of rides over the weekend and am increasing my distance and duration.  I'm also walking more at work to help with the weight loss.  I have a couple of competitions coming up this weekend, the Tug O War and Laser Tag.  I am going to be leading my team, but not pulling at the tug o war due to some back strain.  I will be participating in the Laser Tag competition, though.  Both of these will help increase my physical activity levels.

Salty foods seem to be the culprit in the large weight gain over the last week. Some Sushi with soy sauce, Chinese Curry Chicken, pepperoni, bacon and pizza all were on the menu over the weekend.  This will stop.. Back to healthy salads, fruits and veggies.  Back to oatmeal for breakfast and not bacon and eggs or processed meat breakfast sandwiches.  My sodium intake was much too high.

There has been some added stress lately as well and that is always an inhibiting factor when you are trying to lose weight.  Changes are occurring at home with our daughter and grand-kids moving back in so there needs to be some adjustment time as well.  I know I am a stress eater on top of stress hormones blocking weight loss. This will change as the routines are worked out.  I love having them at home, but there is always a period of adjustment.

So, eat well and get on your bikes and ride!

I just have to follow my own advice. :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fools Prank - NOT!

I had considered writing a post in honor of the April Fool's Day prank tradition that other bloggers have followed but I find I'm just not that clever or witty.  I can't come up with something that is believable enough so as to not be a transparent ruse. With that in mind I offer a link to Fatty's post for today which is well done.  He has a tradition of these posts going back several years.

With that said I want to talk about my lack of motivation for riding of late and my upcoming Tour De Cure.  I have been slacking in my preparation and this is unacceptable to me.  There is a general lack of motivation at the moment and I fear part of it is the fact that I have very little support for my ride in terms of donations.  In fact, besides myself I have had only one other person make a donation.

I will do the ride.  In fact I will make a pledge that if I do not finish the 20 miles ride on May 3rd, I will personally match any donations made.  I was going to honor a money back guarantee, but the logistics would be a nightmare.  This is a better option as it will force me to put my money where my mouth is for this worthy cause.

Please help me to get motivated and support my training efforts by making a donation here.

I think you and the American Diabetes Association thanks you.

Get on your bikes and ride!