Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Motivation is Deminishing

Lately my motivation for getting out on the bike has deminished because I feel like I'm starting to come down with a cold. In the mean time I thought I'd share some of my favorite pictures I took while cycling. I'm hoping this will help with my motivation.

Here's a picture of Jenny and I with Greg LeMond. He rode in the 2006 Tour de Cure with us. OK, actually he passed us going really fast. I can still claim that we rode with him though only for a second or tow. He's a super nice guy.

Deserted road near Verlot. One of my favorite rides.

Rest stop at a camp ground near Verlot. We actually laid on the ground to eat some power bars while we looked up through the trees.

Jenny by the red bridge. Descriptive name for a bridge huh?

This is in the same area as the red bridge a couple of months later in the year. Quite a difference.

If you can't tell this is the background picture for my blog. It looks a lot better without the colors faded.

This is on a road outside of Granite Falls. The guard rail looked a lot straighter until I took this picture.

This is a shot from Jenny's handle bars during a pretty good rain storm.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Making my bike happy again

On the last couple of rides that I’ve done I’ve noticed that familiar grinding noise coming from my chain again. That can mean only one thing. My bike is super dirty and the chain is whining to be cleaned up and lubed. My bike can such a whiner some times.

Before I started the clean up I collected all of the necessary tools to do the just right.

Neil Young CDs that just I picked up at the library today
Peach, mango & banana 64 oz Slurpee (they were our of Diet Pepsi)
Chain oil
Old used toothbrush
Super old grungy t-shirt
Shop rag
Baby wipes

As you can tell this list is arranged in order of importance.

As I got down to start the cleaning I saw why my chain was doing all of the whining. Man, it was dirty. Take a look at this.

As I listened to some good tunes I wiped the chain down really good with my rag and t-shirt then worked on it with the toothbrush. Not to worry, I don’t plan on using that toothbrush again even in the case of an emergency.

Once I finished with the chain and derailers I went to work on the rest of the bike with baby wipes. This works great to get the road grime off of the bike and makes your bike smell new diaper fresh at the same time.

I figured if baby wipes are soft enough for a newborn rear end it shouldn’t cause any problems with my bike. Finally, I applied plenty of oil to my chain and pedals.

Here’s the after picture.

It will be nice to have a happy bike again.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Winter Resolve

Last night while I was enduring yet another trainer ride I noticed that I didn’t have a fan in the window blowing cool air on me. Lately I’ve been doing this to prevent a total body meltdown.

This got me to thinking about the impending wet winter riding season and how I’ve avoided winter riding in the past. My resolve this year is to get out in cruddy wet weather and do some riding this winter.

I recently read “There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes or the wrong attitude”. How true is this? This year I’m going to alter my winter riding attitude and hopefully my collection of amphibious riding gear will hold up their end of the bargain as well.

Here’s my list of amphibious winter assault gear.

Waterproof riding pants
When I bought these pants at performance cycle the tag said they were water proof and breathable. Well, they sure are water proof but breathable is definitely not one of their qualities. These babies are like a sauna to wear so your legs end up wet from sweat but hey it’s a warm sweat. I’ll take this over freezing cold rain water soaking through them any day.

Amber colored sunglass lenses
I have an extra lens for my sunglasses that is amber colored. These are great to wear during the winter because it keeps the cold wind out of your eyes. More important than this is it makes the whole world look brighter which gives you the false sense that the weather is really better than you think. I’m good with artificial good weather.

Knit gloves
I own one of those pairs of tiny cheapo knit gloves. OK, actually I stole a pair from the kids. I think these gloves set us back a whole buck. They’re not gortex or anything fancy but they are great for winter riding because they fit my cycling gloves. This is one of the most important pieces of winter riding gear because if my hands are cold the rest of my body follows suit.

Detachable back fender
Last year I invested in a detachable back fender. This is one of those mtn bike models that clips on your seat post. This baby works great at keeping the brown stripes from forming up your back. For some reason people stare and point if you walk into a store with a brown stripe up you back. I guess not everyone sees these as something you have to earn.

Plastic shopping bags
My cycling shoes are anything but waterproof. In fact, a couple of years ago Jenny and I got stuck 15 miles away from home in a good downpour and by the time we got home I was able to literally pour water out of my cycling shoes. This makes for a miserable ride. To combat this I plan on putting plastic shopping bags over my socks and under my shoes. If I feel self conscience I’ll trim the bag that sticks out of my shoes. If I’m in a hurry I guess people can just wonder what’s up with my shoes. They probably wonder anyway.

I’m sure I don’t have all of my bases covered with my gear but I think I’ve got enough for some fun rides this winter. All of this talk of winter riding makes me think that global warming might not be such a bad thing after all.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Lake 22 Hike

Yesterday as an alternative to our normal Friday off cycling adventure Jenny and I decided to go hiking. There is a nice trail about 30 minutes from our house called Lake 22 that we went to. I’m not sure where the name came from but I’m guessing a government accountant named it.

We’ve hiked this trail before but that was about 8 years ago and that trip ended up so bad that we haven’t gone back since. This time things went much better, thank heavens.

The trail up to the lake was very scenic so we stopped to take picture a lot. That’s one of the nice things about hiking as opposed to cycling is I’m not so worried about how fast I’m riding and what kind of time I’m making for training reasons. Since I wasn’t training I didn’t mind stopping for photo opportunities at all. Here are some of the great pictures we were able to snap.

Lake 22 is located at the end of the trail at the top of the hill. When we got there we noticed that there was a wooden walkway around most of the lake. I’m not sure how they got all of the wood all the way up there but it’s really nice not to have to walk through the mud around the lake.

Our original plan was to have lunch by the lake somewhere but when we arrived and saw the walkway we decided to make a loop around the lake first. The lake was covered by a layer of fog so we couldn’t see the other side of it even though it isn’t very big.

After we walked for a while we ran into some snow. I was really surprised that there was still snow up there since the elevation is only 2500 feet. A section of the wooden walkway was covered by what looked like pretty unstable snow so I was thinking about turning back but Jenny being the trailblazer that she is just went through a snow tunnel to the other side of the trail. Reluctantly, I followed her through the tunnel.

After getting lost for a second we were able to make it around the lake. Before we headed down we took a break and had a bite to eat. Meals while you’re hiking taste the best for some reason. Also, it’s a lot easier to carry food in your stomach than in your backpack. Bonus all the way around.

The hike down wasn’t a workout on the lungs like the hike up but it sure was tough on the knees and leg muscles. It felt a lot like I was riding the brakes all the way down the hill. If I had a choice I would rather climb than descend any day. To my surprise it took just about as long to hike down as it took to hike up.

It was really nice to go hiking yesterday at Lake 22 and I’m glad it turned out much better than the fateful trip we made there 8 years ago. If I had my choice I’d choose cycling over hiking any day though.

Distance 5 Miles
Elevation gain 1200 feet

Thursday, September 18, 2008

And Bears Oh My......

Last night I went for another evening ride on the Centennial trail. Because I was riding by myself I brought my iPod along and started the ride out with some Jackson Browne. Ahhh, very relaxing. About 500 feet into the ride I passed some walkers and they started pointing and talking to me. I pulled my headphones out and they told me that they just spotted a black bear in the bushes up the trail between milepost 11 and 12. A rational person would have probably just gone back to the car and gone home but I was out for a ride and DANG IT no bear was going to stop me.

I’ve only seen bears in the zoo so closest thing I have to experience with them is my friend at work who grew up in Alaska. He has told me a lot of stories of how they used to chase black bears away from their work sites so I rationalized my riding safety by telling myself that any bear that I saw on the trail would run the other way if he saw me and I made enough noise. It’s good to have a plan.

Right after I spoke with the walkers I noticed there were some other cyclists just up the trail from me. Not that I was scared or anything but once I saw them I sprinted in their direction and caught up with them. I figured if a bear mauled me it would be good to have some company.

As I rode with them we started talking about the bear sighting. I noted that I had seen posted signs of possible bears in the area but I had never heard of anyone actually seeing one. One of the cyclists told me that was because the cougars usually scared them away. I think his attempt at humor was wasted on me. Lucky for me my new cycling friends had bells on their bikes that they constantly rang. If there was a bear in the area he would definitely know we were there.

As we passed milepost 11 I figured I was in the clear so I bid my new cycling buddies farewell and took off. As I rode toward Snohomish I started calculating how long I could ride before I would have to turn around to make it back before it got dark. The last thing I wanted to do was to ride on the trail past a bear in the dark. I at least wanted to see the bear before the attack.

I ended up turning around just before I got to Snohomish. On the way back my legs were starting to lag a bit but I did have the motivation of bears in the dark that kept me going. I ended up getting back a little earlier than I expected so I stopped at Lake Cassidy to take some pictures of my bike on the dock. As I was taking pictures I heard something rather large rummaging around in the tall reeds by the dock. I didn’t put two and two together until I got back to the car but that could have been the bear. Probably not though.

It would have been nice to see a bear at a distance just to say I saw one but I think I’m relieved that I didn’t.

Distance 20 miles
Avg MPH 15.8
Bear sightings 0

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Last night I set out to ride for a second consecutive night in a row. Earlier in the day I lifted weights but I thought I could make it through an easy spinning session of an hour if I gave myself enough recovery time. Normally, 3 hours is plenty of time but I guess it wasn’t last night.

As I started to ride I just didn’t have much kick left in my legs. This I understood but after spinning for 25 minutes I really started to get weak and jittery. I’ve felt this before occasionally on rides. It’s like my blood sugar was low or something and as I continued to ride I got weaker and weaker. I told myself that I wasn’t going to keel over or anything but if I could make it a little longer I could quit early. I ended up riding for only 40 minutes which was 20 minutes short of my goal but I think it was justified though.

After my ride I went downstairs and had a banana. That seemed to do the trick and I felt much better. This morning I’m feeling back to my old self again. I’m hoping to sneak a ride in tonight while the weather and sunlight are still lingering around. We’ll see how it goes.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A lot of hard miles on cheap gas

A couple of years ago I worked with an older gentleman who used to tell me his life had been full of a lot of hard miles on cheap gas. Yesterdays ride reminded me a lot of that.

Yesterday afternoon things suddenly got quiet around the house so I was successful in getting clearance from the boss to go on a short bike ride. Since I was only going on a short ride I decided to head over to Smoky Point and back from our house.

While I was climbing up the fist hill to Highway 9 I started thinking about what I had eaten that day. My Saturday diet had consisted of a bowl of granola for breakfast and three cookies and a slice of banana bread for lunch. If I had to categorize this food that I would be using as fuel for riding I would definitely call it some cheap gas. I think it was my version of AM/PM gas. It gets the job done but no one’s car runs very well on it.

The ride down to Smokey Point was pretty fast after the first hill. This is my favorite part of the ride as it’s a gentle descent most of the way there. Since it’s slightly downhill most of the way there I was able to ride around 20 MPH which is pretty fast for me.

The ride back home was kind of a struggle. On previous rides when I’ve pushed myself I’ve found that my legs were the thing that has held me back. This time around it was my lungs. My legs were doing fine but I was panting like a dog in the sun on a super hot day. I pushed my breathing to the edge of a side ache but just under it.

I was shooting for an average of 15 MPH for the ride but I ended up just under my goal. I ended the ride at 14.7 MPH. When I got home I looked at my time for the last time I rode this route and I noticed that I had beaten it by 3 minutes so I must be getting fitter through all of this training.

Yesterday’s ride was a lot of miles on cheap gas but all in all I was faster than before. Maybe I should change my diet. NOT!

Distance: 16.75 miles
Avg MPH: 14.7
Time: 1:08.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Cycling Strike?

A couple of years ago our whole family rode in the Tour de Cure event. It was great fun and we ended up raising some money for a worthy cause. Jenny and the younger kids rode the family friendly 15 mile route. For some reason my oldest daughter announced after that ride that she was retiring from Cycling altogether. It’s wasn’t a tearful Brett Favre type of retirement announcement it was more of a matter of fact statement. She was through. She likes to make these type of retirement announcements.

Last night we were talking about something unrelated to cycling and we agreed that we would do something for my daughter. As part of the negotiations I asked her in return if she would go for a bike ride with me once a month. These wouldn’t be long distance epic rides, just nice leisurely rides. Cycling provides you a great opportunity to talk and spend time together. I also offered that these bike rides would include some type of reward like a chocolate shake. Reluctantly, she announced her return to the sport. It wasn’t as dramatic or well publicized as Lance Armstrong’s announcement this week but it was still an un-retirement announcement. I was pretty happy about that.

Well, after a while she came in with some signs and pinned them up on the wall. Here’s a shot of it.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this. Can you go on strike from cycling? I’m still holding her to the bargain.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Race Against the Sun

Last night everyone scattered in different directions after dinner so that left me with an opportunity to go for a ride. With the nice weather we’re having I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I left at 6:45 which got me to thinking about how much sunlight I’d have to ride in. I was thinking I probably had until 8:00 so what I was really faced with a race against the sun. How much riding could I get in before it got dark?

As I started out from our house and headed up the first hill I was really regretting doing squats an hour before I left. My legs were instantly burning. Not a smart move on my part. My legs felt so weak at first all I could do was stand and pedal. After a while the burning went away so I was able to sit and grind away.

At the top of the first hill while I was waiting for the light to change I happened to look down at my Garmin and noticed that I had only gone a mile and a half. I thought for sure it was farther than that. Oh well. At the point I headed down Highway 9 to the trail. It was really nice to head down hill for a while. I did notice that about half of the cars had their headlights on. Not a good sign.

When I got to the trail I looked down at my Garmin again and noticed I was still stuck at a mile and a half. DANG! Even though it was registering MPH the cumulative mileage wasn’t calculating. I put two and two together and figured out that somehow the trip end button had been pressed. Once I pressed trip start it started working again. Crisis solved.

It was nice to be riding on the flat trail now for a change but the big question was just how far should I go before I needed to turn around to make it home before it got dark. I decided that I would ride until 7:15 and then turn around. The race was on! Since the trip was short I really put the hammer down on the trail and increased my speed. It was really fun to be flying on the trail. Per my plan I was able to make it all the way to Lake Stevens by 7:15.

When I turned around I snapped the picture below. As you can see the sun was getting pretty low in the sky. I was feeling pretty good that I could make it home before dark though.

As I headed home my legs were getting pretty tired but I had the motivation of the racing against the sun and I was feeling confident I could win. As I exited the trail I noticed that all of the cars now had their headlights on. Oh no, now I really had to pour it on. Every hill that I came to I tried to stand and pedal to increase my speed. As I arrived home I was happy that I had actually made it before it got dark but I was pretty darn tired. It was good to have a reason to push myself and it was fun to race against the sun.

Distance: 15 Miles (estimated since my Garmin had issues)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Back to Back to Back

In my quest to catch up on my cumulative mileage goal I’ve ridden both Monday and Tuesday of this week so far. Although back to back rides aren’t impossible it tends to make my tired old knees hurt so I try to avoid it. I’m out of control aren’t I? Surprisingly, my knees don’t feel too bad today.

Since everyone is scattering tonight except for me I’m planning on doing a little lifting then heading out for another bike ride. Since the weather continues to be nice I need to take advantage of it. I’ve been kicking around routes in my head all day but I haven’t decided where I’m going to go yet. I’ll post more tomorrow on where I decided to ride. In the mean time here’s a picture from a previous ride outside of Verlot.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Catching Up

Back in mid July I had a goal for myself to ride 3 times a week in order to get ready for the STP next year. This actually equates to 45 miles a week. I was able to get ahead of that goal for a couple of weeks but with a two week vacation and multiple birthdays I’ve managed to fall behind. Two weeks ago I was 100 miles behind my cumulative goal. Not a good way to start out. With the good weather last week and the Labor Day holiday I was able to make my goal for the week and cut into my cumulative mileage goal deficit by 25 miles. I’m only down by 75 miles now.

My plan for this week is to continue to cut into this deficit a little more. I’d ultimately like to ride 4 times but we’ll see if I have time. Also, the last time I rode I noticed that my chain is in need of a major cleaning and lube. So, my stretch goal is to fit in a chain cleaning and lube. I’m always glad when I do that and it’s fun to dirty up some old t-shirts in the process anyway.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Now I Remember

By the middle of winter every year I often wonder why in the heck we live in the Pacific Northwest. Today I remembered one of the reasons I like it so much here. Cycling on back roads in the middle of the forest.

Today we rode from Machias over to Granite Falls and back again. The roads on this route are some of the greatest cycling roads I’ve ever ridden on. The ride actually seems to fly by because I spend most of my time looking around at all of the sights.

This ride is filled with small to medium hills but they aren’t too bad to ride because they seem like a series of small battles that are rewarded by a series of downhill sections where you can recover. It’s actually quite the fun challenge.

The midway point of the route is Granite Falls. If you remember the TV show Northern Exposure from the early 90s, Granite Falls looks a lot like the fictitious town of Cecily Alaska. Check out this picture. Doesn’t it look like the Brick?

Once we arrived in Granite Falls we stopped at a diner named Ike’s. They serve great breakfasts. I had two eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage links, and toast. So much for cycling to lose weight. It was really good though. Here’s a shot of our meals.

The rest of the route heads up some more hills then all of the sudden you get to reap the rewards of all of your climbing by coasting down some long down hill sections.

The ride today was one of my all time favorites because of the scenery, the challenge, and no dogs chased after us. Good times.

Jenny pulling out the pepper spray just in case

Distance: 29.5 Miles
Ascent: 1428 feet
Avg MPH: 13.1
Dogs chased by: 0

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Best Ride Ever

I’ve got a brain teaser for you. What is the best time you’ve ever had on a bike ride? Was it your first century, an epic mountain bike trek, or maybe a great ride on a deserted trail with your buddies?

I’ve been on a lot of rides that could qualify as my favorite but there is one that stands above the rest.

My all time favorite ride occurred a couple of months ago on a milestone wedding anniversary. I’m fortunate enough to have a wife that likes to ride with me and as icing on the cake she actually wanted to go on a bike ride for our wedding anniversary. Oh yeah how rare is that!

For our Anniversary, once we got the kids off to school we headed over to Anacortes and took a ferry to Lopez Island. This is one of my favorite places to ride, I’m not really sure why but it is. There’s just something cool about riding your bike onto a ferry and tying it up to the side of the boat. Once our bikes were secured we went upstairs and rode in the warm comfort of the ferry cabin.

Yummy Goodness
The first destination we headed to when we landed on Lopez was Holly B’s Bakery. It’s only a couple of miles down the road but worth it. I’ve talked about this place before but if you haven’t been there it’s a must. Lots of yummy pastries and all natural ingredients. Jenny and I both had a cinnamon roll. Now there’s some good cycling fuel. We sat on the benches outside for a while just relaxing and taking in the sights.

Deserted Roads
Once we finished our goodies we headed out to do some exploring. We were there on a Wednesday before the summer rush so the traffic was at a minimum. We rode out past the golf course and airport to a hiking trail. When we got there we pulled out the map that we had and chose where we would go next. We decided to head over the other end of the island to a beach. Since there wasn’t any traffic we were able to ride in the middle of the road side by side for miles on end. This was great.

Eagle sighting
While we were riding to the other side of the island we rode past a pond on someone’s farm. As I looked over I noticed that there were 6 or 7 bald eagles sitting on the edge of the pond. As we rode by most of them took off and flew up to some trees on the other side of the farm. It was quite the site. We stood in the road for a while waiting for them to fly back so we could get some pictures but they were smarter than that. Finally we snapped what pictures we could and head on. That’s definitely something you don’t see every day.

If you look closely you can see a female bald eagle sitting on the pond.

Nude beach
We continued on our way to the other side of the island to what they call a beach. In Washington what they call beaches aren’t what you would normally see in Hawaii but I guess it still qualifies as a beach. As we rode down the hill I saw a sign that said “Lycra Free Zone”. What the heck was that all about. Then I saw the following sight. The locals must have a good sense of humor. Look at this beach, I think this sign was just wishful thinking by some guy living across the street. While we were at the beach we saw some more bald eagles. There was a steady wind so some of them were trying to float in the air without flapping their wings. They could do it for a second or two but not for too long.

Gourmet Lunch
Since it was getting toward lunch time we headed back toward the village for a bite to eat before we got back on the ferry. There’s a great natural food grocery store in the village so we decided to see what we could find there. We ended up getting a small homemade loaf of wheat, oat, and nut bread and a container of chipotle cheese curd. It probably doesn’t sound very good but as we sat out on a picnic table outside the store and ate it tasted delicious. Who would have thought it?

It tasted better than it looked

Ride home
We rode back to the ferry the way we came enjoying all of the sights. After we got off the ferry in Anacortes we really didn’t want the trip to end so we stopped off for some ice cream. On the drive home on I-5 it started to rain really hard. We really timed that trip well.

Although this doesn’t sound like much of a bike ride it was perfect in my mind. We got some bike riding in, got to see some incredible sights, had some good food and I got to celebrate many great years with my favorite cycling buddy.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Intervals and Beavers

Well, last night I bit the bullet and introduced intervals to my trainer ride. I must admit that I’ve really been putting this off because to me it’s the equivalent to eating vegetables. In the past, I’ve ridden along with a Chris Carmichael DVD which walks you through the interval routine. After riding along with this DVD 5 or 6 times you start to memorize all of the dialog. This isn’t a good thing. For some reason this really grates on me when I’m suffering to make it through an interval and Chris is telling me to just push through it because it hurts for everyone.

Rather than tolerating the DVD once again I just watched TV while I did intervals. This turned out to be much more enjoyable. Especially when I found OSU Beaver All Access on Fox Sports Northwest. It’s hard to not enjoy what you’re doing if you’re watching anything about the Beavers!

Intervals are a pain but they sure do produce results once you’re out on the road.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Brisk Labor Day Ride

Mind over mattress
Yesterday morning we had planned on going for a ride before any of the kids got up. We talked about getting up and going around 7:00 AM but when the time came I was really enjoying the feel and warmth of our bed. I really had to have a good pep talk with myself on the benefits of a ride as opposed to laying in bed for another hour. To make matters worse I looked over at my clock which has an outside thermometer and it was 50 degrees outside (yikes!). That little bit if data didn’t assist my self pep talk. Lucky for me, Jenny was awake and was giving me the look of “well, are we getting up”? This pushed my decision over the edge and it was mind over mattress at this point. Both of us rolled out of bed.

Prep Work
So up we got and the prep work started. Tires were pumped, water bottles were filled, warm riding gear was put on, and the bikes were put on the bike rack. Jenny also surprised me by making some PB&Js for the road. Sounds like a little much for that early in the morning but believe me a good PB&J before a ride sure hits the spot and it also provides you with the energy that you need. Plenty of carbs, protein and it gives you a good case of PB&J breath. Can’t go wrong there.

On Your Left
We rode the Centennial trail again from 84th to Snohomish and back. We decided on this route because Jenny needed to get back to help Barry with his room. When we took off at the 84th Street entrance the wind was really cold and it took a good 15 minutes to warm up. In fact, Jenny ended up wearing her knit gloves the whole time. I guess summer is really gone for good now. It was nice while it lasted. The ride over to Snohomish went well. There were a lot of walkers on the trail and a couple of families out on their bikes. When we got to Snohomish we rested on a park bench at the end of the trail. While we were sitting there an older gentleman gave us a lecture while he walked by about the proper etiquette of saying “on your left” as you pass walkers. He was obviously pretty hacked off at us. This is an on going debate I have with myself a lot when riding the centennial trail. Most of the time when I say “on your left” when I pass walkers they practically jump out of the skins because they had no idea anyone was behind them. On the other hand if I don’t say anything and just give them a lot of room as I pass them they don’t hardly notice. I’m not quite sure what the right thing to do is. Please feel free to leave me a comment on this subject if you have an opinion.

The ride back to our car was nice. We decided to say the “on your left” thing and we got mixed results. We scared some people and other people thanked us. I’m still in a quandary.

Labor Day Celebration
The rest of the day we spent with the kids. After rooms were cleaned and I did some blackberry picking we did what we’ve done on Labor Day for the last couple of years. Went to the store to get some ice cream and everyone got to choose a topping. Then, we brought them home and had an ice cream feast while we watched a couple of movies. We watched Adventures in Babysitting and Sidney White. They are a couple of classic movies.

Ride Stats for the Day
Distance: 24.5 Miles
Avg Speed: 14.1
Avg Cadence: 78