Racking up the Miles: August 2014

it is really hard to believe we are in September!  But sure enough, last night it was dark by 8:30, tomorrow they are calling for some rain.  The tomatoes are ripening, the firewood will be delivered tomorrow and it just feels more refreshing out there!

It’s also time to recap the month of miles for August… Continue reading “Racking up the Miles: August 2014”

It aint cold!

Anyone who’s read the blog lately knows its been cold up here in Seattle.  Teens and 20s cold.  For us, that’s almost as cold as it ever gets around here.  People far and wide are complaining about it.  The good thing is that the sun is shining.  These have been some of the brightest and clearest days of the year.  Though it makes you think you are in the refrigerator and someone left the light on!

Yesterday in Starbucks I heard someone ask a guy if he was cold.  The man had a very interesting reply.  He said, “Cold is only felt by those that just don’t dress for the weather.”  And he’s right.  In the summer, when it’s at its hottest, you can only take of SO much in the way of clothing.  Shoot, there are days you could be walking around stark naked, and you’d still be sweltering!

Cold, you can always put on another layer, or a hat, or warmer gloves or….  And then it hit me.  I was using the cold as an excuse to not ride….   Continue reading “It aint cold!”

Racking up the miles: November 2013

Anyone who remembers last month will remember I was NOT a very happy person at the end of the October.  Between being away from home due to work and being sicker than a dog, my cycling suffered something fierce in October, I barely reached triple digits.  This, combined with fact that I was eating restaurant food for most of the month, was NOT making me happy.

I had concerns whether November would be any better.  Around here, November is one of our worst weather months of the year.  In the past, November has thrown major floods, bad wind storms, and heavy snow

imageAny one of these would hurt my overall miles.  And I was correct, the weather did cause me issues…  Continue reading “Racking up the miles: November 2013”

Wow it got dark quick!

There is a rule I try to stick to this time of year:  If the weather cooperates, get your butt outside on the bike.  There will soon be days on end where it will be entirely too miserable to ride and I will be stuck in the shed on the rollers.  Well yesterday, the weather gods predicted no rain in the afternoon, so I decided to start my 8th month of cycle commuting!

I am not sure if it was the fact I was out of practice or that it was the first real day standard time, but yesterday’s ride was just plain different!

Continue reading “Wow it got dark quick!”

Racking up the Miles: September 2013

September is always an interesting month in Washington state.  Labor day weekend is sure to be wet.  The first few days of school for the kids are usually hotter than hell.  The rains can come back any time, and the grass has an annoying habit of turning green again, and I have to mow.

This year, September was a bit stranger than most.   Continue reading “Racking up the Miles: September 2013”

Those Damn Cyclists!

I have this friend at work, Jill.  Cute as a button, but she and I disagree on two very important things.  First she is a diehard UW Husky fan.  That in itself is just wrong.  You’d think someone as smart as she is would know better and would route for a real team, the WSU COUGS!  But try as I might, she just won’t come over from the dark side…

The other area we will never agree on is cyclists.  She dislikes them from the bottom of her heart.  She does not believe they belong on the road, and anytime a car lane is given up to make bike lanes (which, as I remind her, gets us out of her way) she gets mad all over again. She likes me as a person and co-worker, but tells me often she is glad my bike commute does NOT get in her way.

So, imagine my surprise when I found myself sounding just like her today… Continue reading “Those Damn Cyclists!”

The Energy Boosting Commute

Since April I have regularly commuted home from work on the bike at least 3 times a week.  I am very lucky that my wife and I work at the same place, so we can simply throw the bike on the rack and carpool in, and I bike home when I get off work.  This keeps me from having to wake up at 4 AM and cycle in, which isn’t meant to happen to anyone!

On days I drive, I find, even on those rare days that traffic is good, that the commute leaves me tired.  It is worse on those days that I’ve worked hard all day, and I’m simply just beat before leaving the office.   Continue reading “The Energy Boosting Commute”

A Tale of Two Bike Racks

Those who have followed my blog for a while know that I like to walk at lunch time.  I eat my lunch quickly at my desk or in the lunchroom, then rain or shine I head outside.

Now in my previous job at the, Holy P, I would walk to the wetlands park near my office and commune with nature.  It was nice to get away from the office and hear the birds sing.

Well now I am at the Mighty P, right in downtown Seattle.  Nope no wetland park here, but I still get outside, let the wind blow in my face, and see what there is to see! 

Now instead of nature, I was erratic drivers dodge thrill seeking jay walkers.  I watch helmetless bike riders bobbing and weaving through traffic as if they are bullet proof.  There are panhandlers, and fashionistas, smilers and scowlers, brand new high rises and an old Greyhound bus station.  All of this makes walking fun.

Also, being one of the best biking cities in America, there are bikes locked up everywhere.  Bike racks, street signs, trees, fences, you name it, there is a bike locked to it.  It’s great to see, as it means there are a lot of people, like me, using two wheels to travel all over.

HOWEVER, all is not roses and gumdrops.

A few days ago I was walking, and stumbled over this:

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Yep, that person will not be happy.  I rounded the corner and found this:

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Now I am thinking one of two things here.  1) The person is being ultra-safe and took the wheel with him/her while the bike was locked , or 2) The person who took the rest of the bike in the first pic wanted the wheel to complete his newly stolen one.   You know, back in the old west they use to hang horse thieves, how’s come we can’t do the same with bike thieves?  (Git a rope!)

This had made me give serious thought to where I leave my bike.  I have been known in the past to (ok this morning even) to leave the key to my bike lock IN the lock itself.  Other times, I have even just left it thinking “Oh I will be RIGHT out.” I am very lucky that my work bike rack is in a garage, with cameras and security on site!   

Shoot, in the organized rides, bikes are just left on their own everywhere!

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Now I am planning to be much more careful.  I have a pretty long cable lock that I always run thorough the frame, and back wheel.  Granted, I could come out with the front one missing like the second picture, but at least it would be cheaper than a whole new frame, back wheel and cassette.

I am also going to look for places to lock up AWAY from the road.  It would have been easy for a pick up or van to pull up next to either of these bikes, grab what was loose and be gone in nuthin flat.  REI, for example, has indoor racks.  MUCH safer.  Shoot, I would even lock up there if I needed to and walk to the place I needed to be.

Or maybe I keep the bike with me.  My bank (US BANK, they are great!) allows me to bring the bike in the lobby.  No one can steal it that way.

Regardless, if you are going to ride TO somewhere and be off the bike (even if it’s to use the restroom) you need a lock.  Don’t be cheap on this.  Talk to your bike shop about what they recommend.  Two things are key to me.  It has to be: 

1) Strong enough to protect your bike from a quick snatch and grab (no lock will stand up to someone determined to steal a bike, but if its not easy, most will move on to easier pickins)

2) Easy to carry with you.  A lock does no good at all sitting at home.  I have a pretty big bag on mine, so its easy for me.  Some attach to the frame.  The bike shop can help a lot here.

When I was younger, my kid brother didn’t lock my bike and it was stolen.  I was mad then.  Now I would be devastated.  I am very attached to my bike (almost 12000 miles will do that).  So I will do everything I can to make sure I keep it!  I also need to record the serial number just in case the worst happens!

Either that or rig a remote control self-destruct switch!  Now THAT would ruin a thief’s day!  (Hmm maybe I can market that…)

Dumb Ass!

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Yep, this kinda sums it up for me!  But luckily things worked out.

So, you may or may not know, I work in the training department of an insurance company, and if I do say so myself, I am a damn good classroom trainer.  I have conducted more than my share of multi-day classes that last all day long.  And, while no one wants to be in class while at work, many times I am complimented on how much the participants enjoyed my classes.

However, just like doctors make the worst patients, trainers are the worst students.  I was stuck all day long in a customer service class, and worse yet, it went till 5, I am normally off at 4!  Day two is today.  I truly hate sitting on my butt for that long!!

So, I will blame being distracted by classes for my dumb-assedness.  Class ended at 445, I was dogass tired.  But I made a beeline  down to the changing room to change into the bike close.  Yep a bike commute home was the perfect remedy for being trapped.

First thing I noticed, UGH, once again I sent my sunglasses home with my wife!  Dammit!!  OH, but wait, the emergency glasses are in my desk!  WHEW!!

But then the biggie, I emptied my pannier to get my riding gear and there were no shoes!!!  You dumb ass! Now what are you going to do!! By now it’s 5.  I could go to REI and buy a new pair, but after Walla Walla, the checkbook is a bit low, plus I’d also have to buy clips, put it all together correctly, it would be 545 before I’d even get started!

I could call Michelle and have her come get me, or take metro home, but:

  1. I needed more bike commute miles for commute month
  2. I can’t commute tomorrow
  3. Traffic sucked and would take forever for either plan to work

So there was only one plan left.  Luckily the pedals I bought for my bike (Shimano M324 SPD)

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were selected by me for a reason.  NO, not because I can be a dumbass, though it is true, but because they allow you to clip in on one side, or ride with a regular shoe on the other.  Yep, planning ahead came in handy.  Ride home without clips it was!  Catastrophe averted!

Outside I went, and low and behold it was raining!  (Did I do something to piss off the bike gods?)  Well, I had remembered my rain shell and helmet cover so I was ready for anything!  Off I went.  OK 9000 of my almost 12000 miles were ridden without clips.  Including many centuries and my first STP.  But now it just feels weird!  Add to it wet roads and more traffic than normal, and I was a bit concerned!  But hell, who wants to live forever?  Onward and upward!

So I am getting rained on, heading down the road, and suddenly, everyone is stopped dead.  The University bridge is up.  At least it was for something cool, one of the giant pontoons for the new 520 floating bridge was going through.  Seems really strange that a giant concrete structure can float, but I saw it.  Sorry, I didn’t have a camera.

Well I thought the rest of the ride was going to suck but, it didn’t.  The rain wasn’t cold, I had a tail wind, and I quickly got used to riding without clips!  It honestly DID help my mental fatigue.  It was a great stretch of the legs getting me ready for the century ride Saturday in Oregon.  So I am glad I sucked it up and went for it.

One of these days SOON I have to put together a check list so I will stop forgetting stuff!  One of these days I’ll forget the whole bike if I don’t!

Its been a good week!

Ya know, I don’t normally do posts like this, but I was sitting here, drinking some Powerade, and thinking, this has been a pretty damn good week.  I’ve already posted about the Century ride on Sunday.  I consider that a complete success for many reasons!  Not the least of which was the free piece of apply pie afterwards!  Mmmmmmm  love apple pie!

An apple pie made from scratch, showing both t...
An apple pie made from scratch, showing both the crust and the filling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now in the past, I have given myself a few days off after a hard century.  However, I firmly believe I am in better shape at this point in the year, than any other year I have been cycling.  So, since I am on the bike commute team at work (this is Bicycle commuter month in Washington state) I decided ta hell with a break!   I commuted home Monday, to work Wednesday and did a round trip yesterday.  Add it all up, that’s 168 miles since I woke up Sunday.  The best part was I felt GREAT during the ride home yesterday.  No pain!  The training rides are finally paying off.

 

Now I did pull one bonehead move.  I sent my backpack with my iPad home with my wife today.  I didn’t need the iPad, but I DID need the sunglasses that were in the bag!  CRAP!!  Well, as I always say, in the event of an emergency, hit up REI.  I got the “cheapest” pair they had, which aint that cheap.  These will reside in my desk at work from now in just in case of brain farts in the future.

 

The weather has been GREAT! Blue sky, no head winds, not too cold in the morning, the perfect early May bike weather in the Northwest.

 

Now lets add some family items.  The manchild (as we affectionately call the 15 year old) has pulled all of his grades out of the basement.  He even has a B in AP human geography!  Unheard of!!  We also went to Lunchbox Laboratory Sunday after the ride, and had HUGE burgers!  Damn those were good!  Maybe it is a good thing I haven’t sold him on Craigslists.  (but lord I have considered it!)

 

And my gorgeous wife has been named the adult honoree for the Arthritis Foundation Seattle Jingle Bell Run in December.   This is a huge honor, and is a reflection of the woman’s huge heart and perseverance. She is a tougher person than I will ever be, and I am lucky to be her husband!

 

I’ve also rejoined Toastmasters, and yesterday was my first speech!  I based it on my post “A Question I have Never Been Asked Before”  and I received rave reviews.  Some even said I inspired them to make some changes in the way they perceive themselves!  Made me feel VERY good.

 

Toastmasters International
Toastmasters International (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Finally, Michelle and I fly out this afternoon for a weekend away.  We are going to the Wine capital of the Northwest, Walla Walla.  Neither of us has been there before.  We’ve rented a one bedroom house, and we plan to hit up  some Wineries, I am going to get a National Park stamp, and we are going to have some good food.  Just the two of us, no kids, work or anyone else!

 

I am not sure if I will be able to post before Sunday night, but I will make sure to take a lot of pictures and fill everyone in then.

 

I hope y’all had a good week as well, it was nice working today and realizing “Hell, I am in a pretty damn good mood!”  Here’s hoping this weekend and next week is the same!