A New Age for Old!

Funny thing about blogging, and I am still very new at it, I never know where my next post will come from.  I have the classic spiral notebook I carry with me, and I jot down ideas from time to time that pop into my head, and I have used this list more than once.

Frequently my wife will say “You should Blog about that!” when something comes up while we are talking.  Other times though, I am either on the bike, or reading something, or talking with my wife when something happens and I say either alout or to myself “HEY, there’s my next post!”  This is what happened to me this morning.

I took off early, as usual, to avoid bad traffic, so I had my chance to hang at Starbucks.  I caught up on my Facebook, email and blog correspondence, and had my green tea (still sticking to the no coffee plan in 2013), then headed off to work.

I listen to NPR in the morning since I hate morning talk radio, and commercials.  Plus it gets the brain thinking and informed on the way to work.

NPR was doing a story on a state Senator from Wisconsin.  Discussing how he never used an elevator, even though he lives in a multi-story building, and he rides his bike 2000 miles a year.  I was instantly impressed a little, since the weather in Wisconsin is not conducive to riding all year round.

Then they added the piece that made me sit in the car and finish the story.  The State Senator they were discussing is Fred Risser.  The cowboy is 85 years old!!!  I did not transpose the numbers, and I double checked when I got home, the man is 5 years away from 90!

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The reporter was huffing and puffing as they climbed stairs, while Fred (as a fellow bike rider I think he’d be ok with me calling him Fred) was chatting away and sounded like a guy in his 40s.

This man regularly jumps on his bike at lunch and cranks out a 25 mile loop around the city.  OK I don’t care what party this guy represents, if he were here in Seattle Washington State, I’d vote for him in a heartbeat!

My recent post about Pushing 50, explained how my personal measurement of when someone is “old” has changed as I have gotten older.  However, I would bet MOST of us would call an 85-year-old, an elderly man, or even an old-timer (My dad would’ve said “Old Fart”).

This man impresses the hell out of me and I can only hope to be doing a fraction of what he is doing, as well as working full-time, when I am even within spittin distance of 85!  I have always been afaid of being too old to do what I want to do, maybe it doesn’t have to be!  This guy may keep it up unitl he is over 100!

Ride it like you stole it Senator!

Keeping the Little Ones Happy!

Last week I passed a dad towing a bike trailer, and in it was a little girl and her younger sister.  I could hear the older girl talking, to the younger one, so when I went by them I looked behind me, and I saw the big sister was reading the little one a book.  I could see they had quite a few in there and I thought to myself “Now THERE’s a way to keep the kids happy while getting in some miles!  Wish I had thought of that back in the day!

I then thought, “Hey I know 2 books that might work if parents want to use this trick to get in the miles.”  Shoot, if there is only one kid, maybe he or she can read to dad.

Now in the interest of full disclosure, the books i am going to list here were written and illustrated by a good friend of mine, Renee Hazen.  However, I have a firm rule, I only recommend bike gear, wine, beer and books that I deem worthy.  I don’t care WHO wrote them.  So here it is I hope you enjoy!

The first book is Mr. Bunnyman:  http://www.amazon.com/Mr-Bunnyman-Renee-Hazen/dp/1461005329/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361856451&sr=8-1&keywords=Mr+Bunnyman

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Renee wrote this book after her son was born, inspired by a stuffed rabbit she was given prior to his birth.  You can’t help but feel the love she has for her son while reading the pages.  Just as importantly, the colors and pictures would have made my 2 sons want to read this over and over again!

Her second book is:  26 Wishes: http://www.amazon.com/26-Wishes-Renee-Hazen/dp/0615650368/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y

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This is an Alphabet book in which each letter is a wish for the future of her son.  For example, A is for Art, Beauty alive in activity, may your life be full of color and creativity.  It’s a way to learn the alphabet, and feel the love for a child 26 times over.  I personally think the illustrations in this book are even better than the first.

I still own both these books, and trust me, being the cold and callous person I am, if they truly weren’t great, I would’ve given them away long ago.

However, to be a fair review, I have always been told to give a balanced review!  I do have a pet peeve.  When she was writing this one, she let me know what the format was.  Since she has a son, I still believe the letter “T” should have been “T is for Tailgating before the big game!  If you keep this tradition, if the team loses you won’t get the blame!”  Poetry in motion!

Ok, maybe not, if you want to know what “T” really is, get the book!

Both of these are perfect for your own kids, grandkids, or someone baby shower.  And, and I said earlier, you might get another 5 miles out of the kid in the trailer if you have them both!

Pushin 50! But Riding Like the Wind!

I remember back in high school and even college thinking that be 30 was beyond OLD.  Shoot, but then I’d be falling apart, and ready for a rocking chair,

A Farmer Reading His Paper. Photographed by Ge...
A Farmer Reading His Paper. Photographed by George W. Ackerman, Coryell County, Texas, September 1931. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

talking like an old man, saying things like “Yep, I remember back in the winter of 80, or was it 81, yep got so cold my ol pappy had to thaw out his words to before I could hear him a yellin at me!”

Funny thing, as I got older, the “age” of old got older.  As hit 30 I thought, yep, it’s all over when I hit 40! Shoot I bet things will start falling off!

Then I hit 40, and I knew it was all down hill at 45!  Turn out the lights and break out the walker.  You know the one, with the tennis balls on the feet so it doesn’t scuff the floor.  Time to sit around the wood burning stove and complain about that “rap music and those damn kids with metal in their faces and skinny jeans!”

Now, 50, the big half century, is the scary number.  I have a hard time not thinking that 50 is beyond old, and one day I will wake up and look like Grandpa from the Simpsons!  I mean I already have found gray chest hairs!

Funny thing happened Sunday, though, riding the Chilly Hilly.  I hit the last hill and felt GOOD, so I HIT the last hill.  I was passing people half my age.  I passed some in full matching spandex on a bikes worth 5 of mine.  While doing it, I wasn’t hurting or breathing to hard at all.  I thought to myself, “HA! Not bad for a guy who is almost 48!”  Then it hit me.  I did some quick math “ok borrow a 10, 2103 – 1964 is  HOLY CRAP! I am 48, I am about a year and half from the big 50.

I just rode a very hilly and windy cold route much better than I did the first time 14 years ago, and the fastest of all my times.  I woke up the next day feeling great and rode 14 miles on the rollers that night!  No pain at all!

I am honestly right now in better shape than any other time I can remember with the possible exception of the Mt Rainier years.  I have never been feeling this good this early in the year.

My gorgeous wife Michelle keeps telling me I am nuts, that age is just a number.  She makes sure to tell me how proud she is of me, and that there is nothing I can’t do!

Then i look around at the office and see what kind of shape others are in.  I see the look of “Are you flippin (ok maybe not flipping) crazy” in their eyes (Or they say it out loud) when I tell them what I rode for the fun of it, or what I am going to sign up for.

One of my best friends tells me every year, “I’ll ride right along with you, on the motorcycle!” I know down deep, somewhere, he is proud of me, but I also know he also thinks I am nuts!  He told me once, “Dude you only have so many pedal revolutions in your life, and you are using your’s up way too fast!”  I always tell him “Well worst case, I will look GOOD at the funeral!”

Here’s the deal.  I am deathly afraid of being old and decrepit, and of being an out of shape couch potato.  Always have been, probably always will be.  However, maybe it is finally sinking into this thick skull of mine that I do have control over what happens.  If I keep up what I am doing, look for the challenges each year, keep the workouts consistent and safe, and have fun doing it, I may be one of the 80 year olds riding the Seattle to Portland.

I may be pushin 50, but I am still THE WIND!  I feel like John Belushi in “Animal House” here, but what the hell!  I am signing up for R A M R O D 2013!  “WHO’S WITH ME??”

Bikers and Drivers

I don’t know how things are where you live, but around here bikers deal with drivers who aren’t entirely partial to cyclist.  In fact, there are some drivers of cars who adamantly despise bikes and feel they have no place on the road at all!  I have a friend like that who tells me, “Aside from being a bike rider and the fact you went to WSU, I like you!”

My first introduction to people like this came in high school. I was cruising down a road near where i lived. I looked behind me to see a pick up, with a baseball bat stuck out the passenger, window coming up on me fast! I put it the bike in the ditch fast, only to have to listen to the driver and passenger laugh as they drove by.

Since then, i have had fast food soft drinks thrown at me, people flipping me off and cussing at me, and drivers passing me telling me to “GET THE F OFF THE ROAD!”

Now, as a cyclist, it would be easy for my to blame the jerks in the cars! I mean come on, we can’t be in the wrong! Here we are being healthy, saving gas, reducing the obesity in America and generally halo wearing, spandex clad. 2 wheeled angels!

Ah, but then, I watch those I call (and forgive the language) “Biker Pricks” or BPs for short. BPs give the rest of us a bad name. In my first organized ride. I saw a pack come up to a stop sign, where 5 cars were in line. The front car had waited its turn, and started to turn right as this pack of BPs flew up on his right. There is no way he could’ve seen them! He must’ve seen motion at the last-minute, and stopped in time. But I am telling you, had there been an accident, I would’ve been a witness for the car.

Even the Chilly Hilly yesterday had its share of BPs. In my experience, the drivers of Bainbridge Island are very tolerant about 5000 bikers taking over their roads. They pass carefully, and do their best to make everyone safe.

Well we were climbing a hill in a pack. A call of “CAR BACK” came up. Telling us there was a car coming up and passing us. One of the faster riders caught the pack, saw the car coming, but said “I am NOT going to go this slow, I have to get around this!” He pulled out in front of the car and made him wait while he inched past the group.

My own personal theory is that there are bad drivers and bad cyclists, and in many cases they are the same people! I will admit I do not stop on the bike at every stop sign. I also, while driving a car, regularly get mad at people in the fast lane that won’t move to the right. Overall, though, I think I am a pretty courteous driver/cyclist.

Bikes have every right to be on the road, but with a little common sense and teamwork, we can make it easier on vehicles. I have one route where the shoulder narrows a lot. If I see a semi coming behind me, i will pull into a driveway till he passes. It adds minutes to my ride, but its safer for everyone.

What it comes down to is there are some good reasons why drivers get mad at us, but we have good reasons to get mad at drivers as well. The cars do have the advantage of size and speed though. I always remember my dad telling me that “Cemeteries are full of tombstones with the inscription ‘He had the right-away!'”

I’m just lucky that, so far, the people who throw softdrinks have terrible aim! Can’t we all just get along?

I Love it When Ride Comes Together

Around here, (Seattle area, Washington State) 4-5000 riders start watching the forecasts about a week before Cascade Bicycle Clubs Chilly Hilly.  We all know its going to be cold, its February for Bikes Sake!  However, repeat riders know just how bad it can be….

Friday we had a huge storm come through, high winds, heavy rain, biking woulda sucked big time.  To me this was a closer near miss than the giant meteor that skimmed us a week or so ago.  Then yesterday was gorgeous and almost warm, but the day before weather does me no go at all!

I woke up today at 545 AM (Got VERY lucky as the alarm I set did not go off.) I made a quick Starbucks run and I was happy to see it was no rain, I was NOT happy to see it was blowing pretty hard.

I made it to the Seattle waterfront, scored free parking and headed for the holding area of the ferrys.  I was far from the first one there! But I was there in plenty of time to make the 7:55 ferry.

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Its fun running walking around waiting for the ferry.  You get a chance to walk around looking at all the bikes.  I can tell you, I was WAY down at the bottom of the pecking list in the bike comparison.  There were bikes cost more than I my loan qualification amount!  I’d have to put both my kids up as collateral!  Luckily I love my bike, so no envy, but its fun to look.

Aside from spendy, you find different bikes waiting in the holding pen.  Sometimes, ones like this are most different.

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At least this one has pedals!  This year I found something I had NEVER seen before!  I have no idea why someone would want this one, and it CAN’T be easy up hill, and it would be kinda scary going downhill, but each to his own!

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Well after about a very cold and breezy half hour, our ride showed up!

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It was time tp take over the boat.  As you can see the cardeck is covered in bikes, but some people were NOT smart enough to keep the bikes away from the emergency equipment.  Those bikes were moved by the crew, and some people were still looking for their bikes when the ferry landed.  I wonder if they went overboard?

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and the upper decks were taken over by riders!

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Now I’d like to digress for a second, did you notice how all the bikes are laying down?  Well look at this:

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Notice the one bike in the middle, that’s mine, a simple kickstand keeps my bike off the ground!  Not sure why more don’t use them.

When we got to the other side, the sun was trying to come out, and it was NICE!  The only time we had headwinds was when the route took us to the water (we were on an island after all).  I hit this route hard! I have been working out hard this year, putting the miles under my butt and it helped!  I cut 30 minutes off my best time!  And that included:

Stopping to take a picture like a tourist:

Frog Rock Bainbridge
Frog Rock Bainbridge

I also helped a dad fix the gears (translate that to I held the bike while he worked on it) on his tandem

All Ages ride this one
All Ages ride this one

After that, it was go like the wind!  I did stop for a cookie and brownie at the food stop halfway, I needed it before the Mother Bear of a climb, Baker Hill Road! (Ok its also a charity for the Bainbridge Island Rope Skippers, now THEY are in shape!)  I didn’t hammer up it, but I did pass more than passed me!  And I hit 37 MPH on the way down!

The first time I rode this was 1999, and I walked the bike up most of the hills,  At the end I was done!  It was not a pretty sight!

This time I ended feeling like I could do another 20 miles, and looked like this!

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More importantly, I finally get to wear the commemorative jersey!  I bought it when I registered, but superstition prevents me from wearing it till I finish the ride! (Sill? Yes, but it’s what I do!)

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This is a classic ride!  It’s the only one I do EVERY year, it is ridden by all ages!

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I love it when a ride comes together and I do even better than I could have hoped!  Its going to be a good year!  Next month, the McClinchy Mile!