Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Challenge is going well

So, a couple of weeks ago I set a challenge for myself (here) to ride my bike every day for 180 days.  I'm here to say that the challenge is going well and it is working.  It is getting me on my bike, even for short short rides, on days when I would have passed because of this or that.  I know those this or that's are just excuses, but they would have kept me off the bike.

What's nice about the challenge as well is that it encompasses another challenge: The National Bike Challenge.  I am excited to be part of our work place team, which is part of the local team under the Las Vegas Bicycle Coalition.  Personally I hadn't heard of them until I signed up for the challenge.  Through my efforts I have so far earned the Silver Badge.

The National Bike Challenge runs until September 30.  I hope to keep earning many more points and possible improve my ranking as my mileage goes up throughout the summer.  Currently I am ranked 16th in my company, 41st locally and 9118th nationally.  Not to shabby!

I hope everyone can find an activity they love and stick with long term.  Cycling is my activity.

Get on your bikes and ride!!!!!!!

Monday, May 19, 2014

We need bike routes

Today was day 4 of my six month challenge and I got in my 4th ride.  I am so glad I gave myself this challenge as it has kept me motivated to get on the bike at least once a day. Granted my rides have been short, but they have been rides which is the important part.  I have been staying in the neighborhood partly because its a known territory, but also because I have nowhere close that I need to get to that is accessible via bike route.

Just last week, Lisa over at BikingLasVegas.com posted the fact that there is a new version of the RTC bike map available on their website at http://www.rtcsnv.com/cycling.  Excited to see all of the possible routes I could ride near my home, I went to the site and downloaded the map/brochure.  Here is what the entire Las Vegas area looks like:

As you can see there are many bike lanes, multi use paths and bike routes designated through out Las Vegas and Henderson.  Gray lines are just major roads without bike lanes.  Now I live in the southwest part of the valley.  Here is a closeup of a roughly 3 miles radius from my house:

As you can see the only road with any bicycle route near me is Blue Diamond Road (Hwy 160).  Now this is a 4 lane, divided road at this point, with cars traveling 55 to 65 mph.  While OK for an occasional ride, I don't relish riding there in the dark or near dawn or sunset due to the lack of visibility.

I assert that if there was additional cycling infrastructure I would be even more likely to ride to run errands or head to a store or shop instead of just riding to ride in the neighborhood or for exercise. I've actually tried to figure out a safe route to ride my bike to work, but cannot find one. The first 2 to 3 miles from the house are on roads with no shoulders, no bike lanes and no streetlights making them not safe for morning or evening commutes when its likely to be dark.

With this glaring lack of bike friendly roads in my area, I decided to write to the RTC and see what their plans are for creating bike friendly streets.  The default automatic reply said it would take up to 3 weeks for them to get back to me. I'm not holding my breath but I hope I do get a response.

So, my personal challenge has been a success so far and it will continue.

Are you riding more this month being that it is bike month?

Get on your bike and ride!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bike Challenge Day 1 Ride 1

Today is the first day of my challenge and it was my first ride. I consider the challenge a success already in that it got me out and riding this morning.  Without this challenge I likely wouldn't have ridden today. With the challenge I did get out and ride. It was only a short ride, but it was a ride.

I was happy to get out there.  As I was riding, though, with every turn I was hearing a creaking from the lower part of the bike. It seemed to be coming from the cranks. Looking down I noticed the chain was moving left and right relative to the front derailleur. Something was loose.

I headed back home and took a look to see what the issue was.  I feared it was a bottom bracket issue, but was relieved to see the issue was with the crank itself.  It seems the right crank arm was loose. I found a socket and tightened the nut.  I flipped the bike back over and headed back out on my ride.

Thankfully no more creaking was coming from the crank.

I had no destination nor route in mind.  I rambled around the block and the neighborhood. I simply was riding for the enjoyment of riding.

It was hot and getting hotter so I headed back home after just a short ride.

I hope everyone has a chance to enjoy a day.

Get on your bikes and ride!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Personal Biking Challenge

I find I do much better at staying focused and motivated to do what I need to if I have some type of a challenge in which I am participating.  Last year I challenged myself to ride every day in the month of August.  I was successful and met that challenge.  Having done so I rode a total of 220 miles, my highest mileage month last year.  I know it was good for me to be riding that much and I need to do more of it.

I also think back to when I was a young teen/preteen and I rode everyday.  Not only was it my primary mode of transport, but it was fun!  We would ride for the fun of it with no particular destination in mind. Sure there are way more priorities and time is not as free as it was then, but I still think I need that freedom and getting out to just ride. I need it for my physical as well as my mental well being.

To that end I have come up with a personal challenge for the next 6 months - ride my bike at least once a day, every day. I do realize this is a huge commitment and it will be a challenge to accomplish it, but that is my goal.

Now there may be some debate as to what it means to ride my bike every day. As far as I'm concerned throwing my leg over the top tube and pedaling any distance is riding my bike. To record the occurrences I will be relying on my Garmin and uploading the data to the various tracking sites like Map My Ride, Strava and Daily Mile.

I have even created a personal challenge on Map My Ride to track my progress towards this goal.  I'm hoping to be able to add some sort of widget to the right on my blog to help track this as well.  We'll see about that.

The Challenge starts tomorrow and runs until November 14.  I hope to be able to report on that date that I was successful and rode every day between now and then.

What challenge will you give yourself?

Get on your bikes and ride!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Biggest Winner Competition wraps up

You may remember that I wrote about the Biggest Winner Weight Loss competition which is part of the Las Vegas Corporate Challenge.  The initial weigh in was on March 4 and the weigh out was this past Monday, May 12.  I was the captain of our team and recruited 4 other individuals to participate. I had hoped to earn points and possibly a medal for our team.  Unfortunately that was not the case.

As with most weight loss competitions the team started out positive, strong and motivated.  I had the team check in each Monday with their current weight and the first 3 or 4 weeks were great.  Then we hit a couple of snags.  Team members suffered injuries and had to curtail some of their physical activities.  Easter came and went.  There was a reduction of staff at work. Mother's day was the weekend before the final weigh in.  It all added up to our placing 12th in the competition.

I know we all have struggles and challenges we face every day, but I had hoped to keep my team motivated and on track., I obviously did a poor job.  If each member of the team had simply stayed at their lowest reported weight, then we would have placed 4th overall.  That didn't happen.  Over the last 4 weeks, and particularly over the last week, several pounds, once lost, were gained back.

I lost the largest number of pounds on our team for the challenge at 23. I also had the largest percentage at 5.23%.  The total weight lost by the other 4 team members combined was only 18 lbs. which gave us a 41 lb. total loss representing 3.29%.  While I could try to blame my teammates, the failure is mine.  I failed to keep them motivated and on track for the challenge. I need to look at what I did and when, and decide what I could do differently to help them achieve better results.

The fact that we had gained back weight points to a failure on my part. I was supposed to keep them motivated and on point for the challenge and my weekly emails obviously missed the mark.  There has to be more that I could have done.  Right now I'm not sure what that was, but I have reached out to my team mates and asked that very question - what more could I have done to help with the challenge.  I hope to get some usable answers so that in the future I can be a better leader.

So, I am celebrating my 23 lb. loss, but the celebration is short lived as I need to keep myself motivated and moving forward towards a slimmer and healthier version of myself.  I indulged a bit the last couple of days in the food department, but its time to get back to eating better and moving more.

Get on your bikes and ride!

It makes perfect sense

Since May is Bike Month, I've noticed many of the blogs I follow have posted information on how bikes are a great mode of transportation.  They are efficient, good for the environment and have an added benefit of being good for your health. I agree with all of these things.  In my personal experience biking is also much more efficient than walking.

I have always said that I would rather bike seven miles instead of walking one mile.  To me the biking is so much easier. Walking just always seemed to me to take so much more energy than biking.  Well, a stud has confirmed this fact.  Look at the following graphic:

If you look closely at the chart, it shows just how much energy it takes to move a single passenger one kilometer.  The less energy required, the more efficient the mode of transport.  Looking at the top 2 modes of transport, cycling at .06 and walking at .16, we see that cycling is in fact 2.6 times more efficient than walking!

So, why not take a bike to get someplace and save energy, help the planet and improve your health.

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

Monday, May 5, 2014

2014 Tour De Cure Las Vegas

The 2014 Las Vegas Tour De Cure was a success.  Thank you to those who donated to this worthy cause.  The goal for the event was to raise $175,000 and I am happy to report that the event blew that number away, raising over $200,000!  Way to go!

OK, I have to come clean though.  I did not ride all 20 miles in the Tour De Cure. Sure it was a tough day with Temperatures hitting the high so far this year - 97 degrees and winds blowing 25 mph with gusts into the 40's. Sure I hadn't ridden as many miles before the event as I should have, but these were minor factors in my not riding all 20 miles.  The main reason was my back started cramping about 10 miles in. It was between my shoulders and up into my neck.  I suspect the culprit was the camelback I was wearing with the extra water in it in response to the heat plus having had to deal with riding on rumble strips for the first several miles of the ride.

Regardless of the reason, I made a promise to those who donated for my ride that I would ride the entire distance or I would match their donations.  Since I didn't make the whole 20 miles, I am making an additional donation of $121 to the ADA.

Now for the ride.  I woke up early and got everything ready to go.  I had the carrier on the car, bike tires inflated and bike loaded on the carrier, water bottles full, gear in the car, all before 7:30 am.  The 20 mile ride wasn't scheduled to start until 9:30 am which meant I didn't need to leave the house until 8:15 or so to get there, get checked in and ready for the start. So once I had everything ready I sat down and waited to go.  I have to admit I was anxious as I knew the temps were going to be hot and the wind was starting to blow.

Finally at 8:00 I couldn't wait any longer.  I kissed my wife good bye and headed out the door.  As I started towards the M casino I thought it might be a good idea to get some fuel in me before the ride so I stopped to pick up a Sausage McMuffin with egg and a large orange juice which I ate and drank on the way to the start.  Even with the stop and the slow service I was still at the M by 8:40.  I decided to make a trip inside to use the restroom instead of using the port a potties by the starting line. For some reason I got a few strange looks as I walked through the casino to the restroom.

Once I had taken care of business I went back to the car and got my gear together and bike off the car.  I installed my frame bag, put my Fat Cyclist water bottle in the holder (I love this from last year 100 MON - thanks Fatty!!!), strapped on the camelback and rode over to check in.

Check in took all of 2 minutes and I got my ride number - 325.  One of the volunteers helped to pin the number on my camelback.  I took my coupon over to the tent to get my event t-shirt which I then took back to the car.  It was 9:10 by this point.  I had some time to kill so I found our team tent (I was part of the BikingLasVegas.com team) and had a seat.  Seems like the other members of the team were doing longer distances as there was no one else there.

Finally they were calling for all of the riders to line up for the 20 mile ride.  One last trip to the rest room and I got into the queue at the start.  We had a wonderful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner for a student adn the Las Vegas School of the Performing Arts, we said "Stop Diabetes!", we sang happy birthday to Chris who is a red rider and celebrating his 12th birthday by riding in the event.  For those unfamiliar with the Red Riders, they are riders who have diabetes, themselves.

It was then time to go.  9:30 on the dot.  With the band playing we headed out of the start area and into the wind.  It took a while for the group to get themselves sorted out.  For the first mile or so I think we were moving at less than 6 or 7 mph. When we made the turn, heading north on Las Vegas Blvd, the riders started stringing out and the speeds started coming up. There were 2 factors helping out speeds at this point - a tail wind and a slight downhill.  I mostly enjoyed the first 5 miles of the ride, pedaling very little and reaching almost 30 mph at one point!  Due to the gravity assist I was able to actually sail by a number of riders.  This left me away from the back of the pack, which I wasn't used to.

Once we reached Pebble and mad the turn to the East, the wind became more of a crosswind and the road leveled out with a few minor ups and down along the way.  My speed slowed down and I started getting passed back, especially since it seemed I ended up stopping at each and every light.  Seems my timing was just off enough to catch every light just as it was turning red.  The other riders then accelerated away from me when we finally got the green light.

It was along here I saw two young women on the sidewalk.  I asked if they needed anything as I approached and they said yes.  I stopped to find they were having issues with a flat tire.  Their CO2 inflator was giving them issues.  I was grateful for my frame bag as I had various items that might come in handy.  One was my own CO2 inflator.  What appeared to be the problem was their inflator was for schraeder valves not the presta valve on the tire. I quickly pulled mine out, put in a cartridge and inflated the tire for them. Unfortunately this was a sort lived solution as the tire immediately started losing air. Apparently there was a sizable puncture in the tube.  She had skinny 26" tires and no other tubes. My spares were entirely the wrong size.

While they thanked me for stopping, I was unable to get them back on the road. Fortunately at that point on of the safety riders rolled up on their motorcycle and called back to the command center to get them assistance. They thanked me and I was back n my way. It was about 2 1/2 miles to the rest stop from this point.  I was now in the position I was used to - basically riding by myself near the back.  I passed 2 more riders, both taking care of flats.  I asked if they needed any help, but they said they didn't.  I kept going.

I was a mile from the rest stop when my back started getting tight.  I had been feeling some extra strain in my arms and neck from the position of the camelback, but didn't think much of it.  Just as I hit the overpass across the 215, my back got really tight and started to hurt.  I stopped and try to stretch it out.  It seemed to help and after a minute or so I started again.

I had no momentum so decided to drop to my small ring on the little climb up to the rest area I could see ahead.  I shifted and immediately dropped my chain.  I stopped and bent down to fix it and my back started cramping again.  I got the chain on and managed to get into the rest stop.  The great volunteers helped me make it with their cheering and enthusiasm. The volunteers were from Target.  Thank you!

They took my bike, offered me cold drinks, fruit, etc.  I grabbed a chair and had a seat, trying to ease my back and neck.  While it did loosen up some, I knew I was done.  I texted my wife that I was at the rest area, but wasn't going to go any further.  She wrote back Good Job - you did what you could.  She is always so supportive of my efforts - thank you dear!!!

As I sat there in the rest area, there were other riders who had arrived before me and they were acknowledging that it was hot and they were done as well. We talked to the volunteers who made a call to the command center requesting a SAG vehicle to pick us up.

One of the riders I had passed who had a flat came in and had to change his tube a second time.  He also needed to adjust his rear brakes as they ended up being too tight after he changed his tire.  Fortunately I was able to oblige with my multi-tool from the frame pack.  He got his brakes adjusted and was ready to go in a few short minutes.

As we waited, a few more stragglers came in that were behind us. One of them was a 6 year old girl who was a Red Rider.  I'm sad to say I cannot remember her name. most of the riders fueled up and took off. There were 5 of us in the rest stop who were looking for a SAG ride back to the start.  3 of the other riders were Red Riders, one being the 6 year old girl and another her older brother.  Eventually the SAG vehicle arrived and the 5 of us loaded up our bikes and 3 riders got in the bed, while myself and the 6 year old got into the cab.  I had tried getting in the bed, but was overruled.  We then headed back towards the starting line.

As we rode the young lady and I got to talking.  It was a 30 minute ride or so and we talked about many things.  I found out she had been diagnosed about a year earlier with diabetes, that she was turning seven in a month and that she had been camping the previous week in California. She said she needed some biking shorts and biking gloves.  I suggested that those might be a good suggestion for her birthday.  She agreed.

We talked about many other things as well on the way back.  In the back were her older broth and her step-dad.  Her older brother at 12 was also a Red Rider.  She said her step-dad rides all the time and he stopped because she did.  I have to say I was very impressed with that young lady.  I wish I could remember her name.

On the ride back in the SAG vehicle we passed several other riders who were stopped at the side of the road.  We stopped and talked to some of them.  All were waiting on a SAG ride.  Unfortunately we had no more room in the vehicle.  Finally we determined that we needed to get back and not keep stopping unless the riders looked hurt or in need of emergency aid.   We passed several more riders, but none seemed to need emergency assistance.

The driver said that they were down a couple of vehicles this year because there were a couple of other events going on this weekend, the biggest of which was the Susan G Komen walk for the cure. There were also fewer radios.  We called the base on his cell to let them know there were other riders in need of assistance, but the connection kept cutting out. We eventually got the message through.

Finally we were back near the finish line.  We unloaded the bikes and all 5 of use rode over the line to the finish area while the driver headed back out to get more riders.

There was cheering and clapping as I rode in, but I felt like a bit of a fraud.  Sure I was successful in raising awareness and money for the cause, but I hadn't accomplished my goals.

I met my wife and daughter in the finish area and they congratulated me on doing what I did.  Thank you!  I love you!

Part of what made the ride more significant for me this year is that my wife was just diagnosed with diabetes on Friday. Right now she is at the lowest reading to be diagnosed with this disease and we know that through diet and weight loss we can beat it, but this added one more reason to why I ride.  I also ride for my mother, my Aunts, and friends who have this disease.

So I didn't make the distance, but I did have a great experience and will be back again next year and hopefully my wife and daughter and maybe my grand kids, will be joining us.

Eat better.

Move more.

Get on your bikes and RIDE!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Early morning ride

Got up at 3:35 this morning to get in a nice longer ride.  In fact this was my longest ride so far this year.  That's not saying a lot, except that I am starting to increase my mileage. I needed a longer ride to make sure I will be ready for Saturday's 20 mile Tour De Cure (Hey, if you haven't donated, how about slipping them $10 or more HERE?).  Its too bad I couldn't start when I want to, which would be about 5:00 am to try and stay out of the heat.

OK, anyone familiar with the schedule for Saturday will say I could, in fact start early.  As early as 5:30 am, but only if I'm doing one of the longer distances.  I'm not, so my start time will be 8:30.  That's still significantly earlier than last year.

This morning I knew i had to go at least 10 miles which represented half the stated distance for Saturday's ride. So I set the alarm to get up at 3:55 so I would have to ride, cool down and post the ride to my various websites (Daily Mile, Strava, Plus3, Map My Ride) and then get showered an to work at a reasonable time.  Now, astute readers will note the difference between my alarm and the time I actually got up.  I knew that if I tried to get that last 20 minutes of sleep, I was putting the morning's ride in jeopardy.  So, when I woke up 20 minutes early, I just got up and started getting ready.

For some reason knowing that I was up early had me taking my time to get ready and out the door.  I ended up on the bike about the same time as it would have been if I had gotten up at 3:55.  Funny how that works.  Anyway, by 4:08 according to my Garmin, I started pedaling.  The temperature was in the low 60's with a NNE wind of 10 gusting to 18 mph.  Not too bad, except the direction.

I felt good as I got into my rhythm and completed the first lap around my usual morning training loop.  On the second lap I decided I needed to change things up a little and did my longer loop.  I was still feeling good and looking at my Strava report of the ride I see I actually did my third fastest time on the long loop. Not too bad.  I continued mixing it up between the 2 loops trying to take my mind off the fact that my arms and shoulders were feeling it this morning for some reason.  By the 8 mile mark I was also starting to feel it in my saddle area.  I know its from a lack of saddle time.  I wanted to stop at this point, but knew I needed to keep going to put in the distance.

I did push through 3 more laps and ended with a total of 11.67 miles this morning and an average speed of 12.9 mph.  Not too bad at all.  Have I ridden faster and farther?  Sure I have, but this tells me I can manage to get through the ride on Saturday.

Have any big rides planned for your weekend?

Get on your bikes and ride!!!!