Errands and Bikes DO Mix!

It is damn hard to find time to work out!  Work, commute, errands, chores, house cleaning, doctors, parents, kids, yard work, homework, friends, and any number of other things seem to take priority over any chance at working out.  Not to mention that during the Walking Dead season, I lose another hour of opportunity (LOVE that show).  Finding time to ride the bike is no different.  There are just only SO many hours in the day.  If you are lucky enough to live close enough to work to bike commute you won’t have this issue.  Sadly I am entirely too far away!

Hours in the day also vary throughout the year. Ok, I can hear yall now saying “Uh hey pal; there are always 24 hrs in a day.”  Yep, you are right, but how many daylight hours are there?  Here in Seattle the sun goes down EARLY (before 5) in the winter.  (We do make up for it in the summer when I can bike until almost 10 PM with the sun still up.)  This means not only do you have a bucket load of things to accomplish, but sometimes less than 12 hours of light to do so.  And that doesn’t even factor in the weather!   I know I’ve already pointed out how to ride in the house, but that makes bike riding a chore.  Even with movies it isn’t that much fun.  Biking outside is fun AND good for you.

So here it is finally a nice Saturday, but you’ve got a ton of errands to do.  You’ve got to hit the grocery store, drop off dry cleaning, go to the bank, drug store, mail some bills and maybe even hit the mall for one thing or another.  How the heck do you do this AND get a bike ride in?  Well boys and girls, it’s easy, USE the bike instead of the car.  Crazy I know, but suddenly chores and errands become fun!  Remember to buy a GOOD lock and have it with you and use it.  Even for a short run in and run out of a building.  Otherwise you could be walking home.

My bike has a luggage rack and I have panniers (saddle bags), it makes it easier for me.  However a decent sized backpack can work as well.  Trailers to tow kids also work well for groceries.  To run errands on a bike just requires some prior planning.  Stuff the laundry in the panniers (or backpack) and make it one of your first stops even if it is out of your way or would be a waste of gas to go there first.  Remember, these are bike errands/working out.  Extra unnecessary miles are simply a longer and better work out!

After dropping off the laundry get the smaller errands done.  Mailbox/post office, bank, library, drugstore (yes bikes can go through the drive through just like a car) and maybe even the mall usually won’t take up much room in the bags.  Once these are done, make the grocery store the last stop.  It takes some strategic backing to get it all in the bags or backpacks on the bike, but you will get better at it.  Couple tips: Watch the bumps if you buy eggs.  Also, back all the cold stuff together.  Finally, pedal fast if you buy ice cream on a hot day!

In the long run, you get extra miles in, an extra work out, better parking, save gas, and maybe even save money.  With limited space, you are less likely to over spend at the mall or the grocery store.

Two things that don’t work well:  Watermelons do NOT ride well in a backpack, and I have never figured out how to pick up laundry from the dry cleaners.  Just not sure how to get it home with the shirts still cleaned and pressed!  If any of you figure it out, PLEASE let me know!


Buying Your Bike!

Ok, there are some things that I am picky about.  Mac & Cheese should be Kraft, Cheddar Cheese –Tillamook, Jam – Smuckers, and only creamy peanut butter (either Jif or Skippy is ok), I HATE chunky!  I tell you this to show that on certain things I DO have an opinion.

However, when it comes to a buying a bike, especially for someone just getting into it, I have no preference what-so-ever.  I mean look at the choices.  Trek, Cannondale, Specialized, Giant brands, road, racing, touring, commuting, hybrid bikes.  Two front chain rings or 3?  Steel frame or carbon fiber, regular or disc brakes?  How many total gears, what kind of handlebars do you like?  No choice is incorrect, but all have to be made.

So if I am not going to help you out with recommendations, then what the hell am I writing a post for?  Well I do have some pieces advice that I hope will help!  First off, for most of us, the most important factor in the bike we choose is money.  Face it, they aint cheap!  In fact, my bike is worth more than my current car!  Of course, my current car is a 97 Ford Escort wagon with 300,000 miles, so it isn’t worth much, but the bike is worth almost twice as much!  And if bike is cheap, it could be a BAD thing in the long wrong.  Remember you are trusting this thing with your life!  I once test drove a $6000 bike!  Scared the hell out me. I was afraid of crashing and burning, and having to take a 2nd mortgage to pay for it.  Needless to say, I didn’t buy that one.

This brings me to my first piece of advice:  You get what you pay for, so buy the best quality bike you can afford.  What do I mean by that?  I am not opposed in the least in price shopping! If you find the bike you want in 2 different stores, for the luvagawd buy the cheapest one!  I am just saying that you should figure out your budget, stick to it, then buy the best bike you can for the money.

How the heck will you know which bikes are the best?  Well this takes me to my next piece of advice.  Go to 3 or 4 different bike stores, not a Big 5, or Costco, but actual bike stores.  Grab a sales person and tell them what you want.  They may ask how much do you want to ride, what kind of riding, what kinds of roads, what experience do you have, and who knows what else.  Then sit back and let them bring the bikes to you!  Ask them why they selected the ones they show you, which they like the best and why?  Test ride as many as you can, working the gears and brakes.  Then repeat the process with the other shops.

Narrow it down to your favorite bike in each store.  Then ride them all again, find which one you are the most comfortable on, which is the most intuitive for you, and you’ve made your choice.  If you are REALLY lucky, after you’ve made your choice, you will find the same bike on Craigslist!  Don’t feel bad not buying the bike at the shop. I will guarantee they will make money on you with all the extras that you will buy! (We will discuss this later)

Two last things, EVERY bike from a shop comes with an instrument of torture they call a bike seat, plan to replace it first thing!  Second, consider buying the bike at REI even if it’s a bit more expensive.  This is the only place I know that will let you return it even months later.

No go forth and purchase!  It’s hard to benefit from bike rides when you don’t own a bike!

Riding Inside when the Weather is BAD!

As we know, I live near Seattle WA.  During the winter, the weather is not ALWAYS conducive to riding outside.  Add to that, during the weekdays I leave before the sun comes up and frequently don’t get home until it after it goes down.  If I wait to ride on the weekends I frequently get rained out, or the roads are too icy!

But I need to train more regularly than the weekends I despise the gym and exercise Cycles. (Though when traveling for work I force myself to ride one before I get the free wine at the hotel!) I needed a way to train indoors.  Then I remembered a buddy in college who had dreams of riding professionally.  He had this contraption that looked like the rollers you would see in an assembly line, and he would ride his bike on top of it.  The only thing holding him up was the pedaling he did, just like on the road.  However there is no coasting or downhill.  If you ride for an hour you pedal for an hour!  I love it.  AND since I am riding the whole time, I count it in my official miles total.

I went in search of, and finally, at REI I found one!  The CycleOps aluminum rollers.


The back tires go on the back two rollers and the front on the front.  It folds in half for storage!  I ride it in the shed while watching DVDs on the portable player!  Warm, dry, no wind, lights!  Perfect!

WARNING!  This one is dangerous though.  My worst wrecks at not on the road, but indoors.  I have cut my hand on a saw hanging on the wall close to the ride (the saw is moved now) and I have assorted scars on other parts of the body from hitting different garden utensils.  The directions recommend you start using this while in a doorway, and I wish I had!  (but I am stubborn and didn’t read these directions until after the fall!)

There are other trainers that support the bikes for you and all you have to do it pedal, but my preference is for this one.  Its pedal or fall!  It helps on road riding when you have a narrow shoulder, and it just feels like you are riding.  DON’T get too engrossed in the movie though!  I fell off twice while watching the Avengers because I forgot to keep track of the front tire!  Rode 10 miles on this last night and will do the same tomorrow! (Gave blood today so it’s not a good idea to ride tonight!)

Chilly Hilly 2013

Chilly Hilly

With Chilly February weather and 2,675 feet of Hilly climbing, the name says it all!

Chilly Hilly has been kicking off the cycling season in the Northwest on the last Sunday in February for the past 40 years. The 33-mile route around Bainbridge Island starts with an early morning ferry ride across Puget Sound from Seattle, or you can join the crowd directly on Bainbridge Island.
Join us on Sunday, Feb. 24, for the ride Bicycling Magazine named “One of Four Classic Rides” in the nation! Guaranteed to be hilly, probably chilly and always a heck of a lot of fun.
Course is open from 8 a.m to 3 p.m. If you are taking the ferry over from Seattle, the ride starts when you get off the ferry. If you are starting on Bainbridge Island, the ride starts at the top of the ferry off-ramp on Winslow Way. Get registered! 
  • A scenic cruise on a Washington State Ferry
  • Free baked goods & hot cider at the American Legion Hall Hot Cider Food Stop
  • Supporting 10 local Bainbridge Island charities
  • Finish Line Festival with fantastic chili feed that is a fundraiser for the Squeaky Wheels Bicycling Club.

Ride the Chilly Hilly

Chilly Hilly reminds you that winter is no excuse to stop riding because spring is just around the corner.

Who rides Chilly Hilly?

  • Chilly Hilly record number of riders is 6,029 (set in 2010)
  • Riders have come from far and wide including Alaska, Iowa, Nevada and New York – plus British Columbia and France.
  • Typically 25% of riders were female; 75% were male
  • The oldest registered rider was 78 years old. The youngest was one and a half years old. (We’re not sure, however, how old the youngest rider who actually rode on his or her own was.)

So why should you ride a bike for exercise?

I was wondering where I should go and what I should talk about first on here.  As I said this is entirely new to me, so I am making it up as I go along.  Luckily, this early on, only my gorgeous wife is following me, so if I look silly, she is used to it.

I finally decided the best place to start is to talk about WHY someone should choose to start biking.  I won’t go into the benefits of exercising in general, since anyone who is at the point of reading these posts knows it’s important to get the body up and moving.

I want to explain why one should choose the bike over of running, swimming, race walking or even Zumba!

First let’s cover the boring parts.  This is VERY low impact.  I have seen people well into their 70s and 80s riding on the routes I go.  Sadly, some of them pass my butt.  Some of these older folks are NOT slow!  Luckily I have no self esteem issues!  For those with a long flat biking/walking trail nearby, it is a great way to start getting the heart moving.  In addition, most of us, at one time or another when we were kids, had a bike and enjoyed it.  The phrase “It’s like riding a bike” is true.  It comes back quick and soon you will be as comfortable as you ever were!

Now for things that are more fun.  The part I like the best is my work out starts the minute I leave my house and does not end until I am back putting the bike in the shed.  This maximizes the exercise time.  Add to this, you can combine exercise with errands!  I have used the bike to drop off the dry cleaning (though I haven’t figured out how to do the pick up yet!), gone grocery shopping, doctor appointments, commuted home from work, Christmas shopping and even better yet Christmas returns.

The day after Christmas I bypassed gridlock in the mall parking lot, biked right up to the entrance, returned the items and was on my way home before some cars were anywhere near getting a space!

My favorite errand is a run to our favorite winery.  Woodinville, the wine Mecca of Western Washington is not too far away.  A trip to Dusted Valley tasting room and back is a 25 mile round trip.  A perfect training run for my longer rides and a reward for when I was done.

Now seriously, have you ever seen someone Zumba their way to the store?  Jog to the mall for shopping?  Racewalk home with groceries?  AND it saves you money in gas!

With the purchase of bike trainers (which are MUCH less than treadmills) it can be a year round activity.

Add to it, again with the right equipment, you can pull along your kids or even your dogs in a pull behind trailer!

Now the best part.  You can even rest while working out!  What other exercise allows you to use gravity in your favor.  Drag your bottom to the top of a hill, and you FLY down the other side without moving your legs once.  This is no exaggeration, I once had a 20 mile down hill run!  LOVED IT!

As you get more proficient, there is even the option of bike touring.  On a bike you can pull over for a view SO much easier than in a car, but we’ll talk about that later.

So in short, biking isn’t just a drudgery, it’s fun and can make your life easier in the long run!  Welcome to the land of two wheels!

1/27/13 Workout

I have been struggling to get to ride outside lately.  I get home after dark and the roads have been too icy.  Today however, I got up early!  The rain hadn’t hit yet, so I jumped in the saddle and headed out. Today’s ride took me south from MLT along Meridian heading to Seattle.  I intersected with Roosevelt which took me to the U District.  NOT my favorite place being a WSU Coug.  I picked up the Burke Gilman to Lake Forest park, then my uphill slog to home.  26 miles.  DAMN it felt good to be outside!

Lance Armstrong

So we all know what has happened with Lance.  Here is Facebook post I made right after the announcement.

So, I find myself a bit torn.  Lance cheating with doping and ARod (or any baseball player for that matter) I consider ARod and company the scum of the Earth, while I think Lance is still a stud.  Why I ask myself. I think it’s the sport and purpose behind it.  ARod did it so he could get a quarter billion dollar contract, for himself. and ditch Seattle.  I grew up thinking, and still think (thou…gh I may be wrong) that the majority of baseball players are drug free.  ARod and company joined a sport that is a clean sport in my mind. Lance joined a sport where people are surprised when a winner isn’t doping.  A sport where other teams will do anything to keep an American from winning the Tour.  A sport where millions are spent to get the bike your rider has to be the tiniest fraction better than any other.  And they do the same for the riders.  He played the same game the others did, and kicked their asses 7 times.  He then took the money (though he himself prospered, no question) and started a foundation to help others with cancer.  No one made him do it, it was the right thing to do.  Finally, give me a glove, and I could play outfield for a baseball team, and we could potentially win, and I might even be a contributor with catching a flyball or two.  Given a bike, no matter how much I “dope” and y’all know I bike more than almost any of my friends on here, there is NO way I would even be able to keep sight of the rest of my team, let alone win. So did he cheat, yep, did he lie, yep, but I just have to accept that even though ARod is scum in my mind, Lance is still a biking stud that beat the Euro elite 7 times! Stepping off my soap box.