Damn I needed that!

OK, we all know how busy things get around the holidays.  Shopping, people coming over, getting ready for people coming over, kids opening presents, visiting Michelle’s mom.  Yep for 2 people who like to keep it quiet and restful, the last month has been go go go!

Then of course my COUGS were in a bowl game.  We had to watch that!  (I still have nightmares of that game) and our Seahawks will be in the playoffs! Gotta watch them too!  I think I can safely say that there has been something going on at least one if not both days of the most recent weekends.

So imagine my surprise when we had a day with nothing we had to do and no where we had to go!  It was time for a ride! image Continue reading “Damn I needed that!”

Old man noises and a frustrating tire

You know, I can’t remember what show it was that I was watching eons ago.  I just remember a guy, who was worried about getting old, and kept saying he was making “old man noises” whenever he moved.  You know, the groans, creaks, moans you make when you are sore?  Well that is me today, Shoulders, back, neck, chest, legs, I am a hurtin camper!  But then, that shows the work out is doing what it should!  But I sound 85 when I stand uo…

To take my mind off it, I decided it was time to work on replacing the back tire of my bike.  A week ago, while riding in the shed, I noticed the rear tire had a bulge!  This made me doubly mad when I realized the tire had barely 1000 miles on it…  I pick up a new one and figured it would only take 5 minutes to change.  I am GREAT at flat tires….

Yeah 5 minutes. Continue reading “Old man noises and a frustrating tire”

A Good Cycling Day

Today was a good day to be on two wheels.  Don’t get me wrong, any day riding outside beast working out in the gym, riding the bike in the shed or being stuck in a car during rush hour.  Not all days are the same though.

There are some days where you just don’t have the eye of the tiger going.  Riding the bike seems more like exercise than enjoyment on these days.  The uphills feel steeper, head winds stronger, and even the downhill portions don’t seem as fast.  Many times there is no rhyme or reason for this kind of ride, it is just one that has to be endured. Continue reading “A Good Cycling Day”

It Aint Over till Its Over…

Folks, stand by, cuz this ride proves that this is true without a doubt!

But, as always, we should start at the beginning. We drug our butts out of bed at 500 AM. It wasn’t easy after two long days in the car. Damned if I didn’t almost leave my water bottles in the fridge! But, in the end, we were on the road at 530, and at the starting line at 615, plenty of time! Michelle then went back to hotel to rest. (Smart woman!) Continue reading “It Aint Over till Its Over…”

Did I make the Cycling Gods Mad Somehow?

Do you ever get the feeling that the cycling gods are conspiring against you for some reason?  I am almost starting to wonder about that this summer.

First off, I was not chosen for the RAMROD. I was seriously bummed, especially a week ago today when that ride I was hoping to be on was happening.  It was the perfect cycling day, not too warm, morning clouds, I would’ve loved it!

The VERY next day, I came outside to find my bike was gone!  Stolen from some dirtbag who blazed into the garage at work, snipped my lock and flew (ever hear the term ride it like you stole it?  He did) out the downstairs entrance of the garage.  If the cycling gods were happy with me, one of the many dump trucks working the local construction site woulda taken him out clean.  Sadly, no dice.

There is never a good time to have a bike stolen.  But this was particularly bad because my plan B ride, the Crater Lake Century is only 3 weeks away.  This meant I had to not only get the bike, but get it adjusted to me and get used to it in time for a hella hard century ride.

However, this ride is worth it.  I am a nature geek, I love national parks, and I am totally looking forward to getting pictures like this:

image

 

I have never been to this park before.  The lake was formed when Mt Mazama blew its top eons ago, and the top collapsed into a caldera, that filled with water.  It contains some of the purest water in the world.  No motors are allowed on the water.  From everything I have heard, it is truly a spectacular place to be.  And no better way to see it than on a bike.

And here is why I think the cycling gods are NOT happy with me.  Because here is a daytime photo of the lake from earlier this week

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That is NOT darkness, that is smoke!  There are some HUGE forest fires going on in Oregon right now, which is causing the smoke.  The problem is compounded by weather patterns that is holding the smoke at ground level.  Basically its trapped there!

I have wanted to go to this park since hight school, but for some reason it just hasn’t worked out.  This year, it seemed perfect.  I got time off, Michelle and I were going down early to check out the park and the route, and she was going to volunteer on the route during the ride.  It was a perfect plan!

I am not saying it is NOT going to happen.  Lots can happen in 3 weeks.  A good strong breeze can clear things out, and the firefighters we have in the Northwest are the best!  If anyone can do it, they can…

So it’s a wait and see.  My plan is I ride.  Michelle, though, has lungs that can’t handle something like this, so I may be flying solo.

What I need is a way to make offerings to the bike gods?  Do I pour out a bottle of Gatorade in their honor?  Shred an old bike jersey?  Develop a bikers prayer?  I am open to suggestions!  Anyone have any ideas?

Its going to be a nervous 3 weeks….

The Wind Rides Again!

Back in the day, which of course means the college years, the Strohsbros and Fros played each and every intramural sport there was.  Flag football, Softball, Volley Ball, Bowling, Basketball and even inner tube water polo!  When you go to school in a small town, you have to entertain yourself somehow!

Now there were many sports I could NOT play.  For example, the one time I played basketball I shot over the basket and almost fouled out before it was half over.  Truly, a man’s got to know his limitations!

Ahhh, but softball and football now… Those were my games.  I could run the “Pete” play (someday I will explain how it got its name) which is a long bomb to the end zone better than anyone.  And when we yelled snake bite, I could run down any quarterback and sack him!  Running the bases, I could leg out an infield hit, out run a double play, and snag a fly out of the air for an out that would be over other people’s heads easy!  I would tell people I was THE WIND!  (OK, I also had a BAD habit of not waiting long enough to “tag up” so I got out a lot too!) Continue reading “The Wind Rides Again!”

It’s the Simple Things

Hi everyone. Most of you now know that my bike, the source of most of this blog was stolen on Friday. The most important inanimate object in my life is gone.

It’s important to me to clarify it this way. It, without a doubt, sucks-ass to have your bike stolen. This bike and I traveled damned near 13000 miles together. Rain, snow, wind, sun, and even for or hail. There was nothing I could not do, or nowhere I could not get on this bike! Continue reading “It’s the Simple Things”

An Open Letter to Bike Hating Drivers

So, today i had some down time at work.  The trainees are done with the learning the new roles, and they are actively working on claim files.  My role this week has shifted from training to support.  I am there to answer questions as they come up.

This means I had time to actually go to the Seattle Times and check out the news.  Low and behold, on the editorial page, was another rant about bikes on the road and how they do not belong there.  Now the chances of the person writing the letter seeing this blog is slim and none, but what the hell…. Continue reading “An Open Letter to Bike Hating Drivers”

Two-Wheeled Time Machine

Since I have started this blog in January, I watch out for phrases, comments or things I read that  will generate a post.  When I know the source though, I like to give credit where credit is due.  I was reading one of the many excellent stories written by Joe Kurmaskie, the Metal Cowboy, when I read that  a bike is like a time machine.  Once you throw your legs over a bike, you can’t help but remember some of the times you had as a kid riding your first bikes.

I was reminded of this phrase from Joe while commuting home on my bike Friday after work.  It was a great day!  After getting drenched on Thursday with a driving rain, it was warm, sunny and nice.  This means I was feeling good on the bike, pushing it a little, doing a little bike dancing to the music in my head, and having a great time.

During the ride, I saw two different riders that drove the time machine point home to me.

The first was a little kid, maybe 4 or 5.  This kid was pedaling like you would not believe, and had a HUGE smile on his face.  I could tell there were no worries in this kids head.  Mom was behind him jogging, pushing a jogging stroller.  As I passed him I yelled “Cool bike pal!” and his smile got bigger.

I will tell you I have had this smile recently on long down hills, when I have my hands nowhere near the brakes and I am FLYING like the wind!  Its a great feeling!  This is what I hope all of us felt as we were learning to ride or exploring the world on our bikes, and it’s what this little guy has ahead of him!

I said I ran into two people though. The second was an elderly gentleman I’d guess in his 80s, on a 3 wheeler, pedaling down the road to my house.  He was NOT going fast.  In fact, what I assume was his wife was walking next to him and keeping pace.  So in essence, the exact opposite of the little kid I saw.  With one exception: the smile.

It took me a while to figure this out.  I could tell there was something reminding me the kid.  This guy had an ear to ear grin!  Why?  I can only assume it was because he was on his bike, exploring the neighborhood, just like the little guy.  Once he straddled that thing, he went back in time, and he found the little kid that used to ride everywhere.  Who knows how mobile he in on foot, but now on a bike…  I nodded to him, just as I do all riders, and he nodded back, but again his grin got bigger.  I’d like to think it was because I acknowledged him as a peer.

I don’t know if its magic, bike karma, or the greek god of bikes that makes this happen when one rides.. When I ran or hiked, even though I enjoyed it, I didn’t have flashes of being a kid.  When I drive a car, its mundane, I can drive for hours, but it doesn’t transport me back to 16 when I learned how to drive.

Cycling is unique in this way.  And Friday renewed my hope for the future.  Lord knows I will never be a little one learning to ride for the first time ever again.  Hell, my next big milestone is when I get too old to drive safely and I have to give up my license.  These two people showed me (old and young) that no matter what, as long as I can sit and move the bike by pedaling, that I will ALWAYS be known as THE WIND!

Its summer time everybody, get out there and ride, and remember what it feels like to be a kid!

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:

 image

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

 image

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!

 image

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…)