Friday, December 18, 2009

Post Challenge Results

Well the post challenge is finished and we had two entries. Both of them are excellent.

First of all is Jeff from the Road blog. Jeff wrote about day 6 of the 2009 Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour. On this day he rode 70 miles and climbed over 7000 feet on a journey from Durango to Ouray Colorado. He’s got some really nice photos of this ride as always. Sounded like a great day on the bike with some crusher climbing followed by some incredible descending. His post can be found at:

By the way, Jeff rides a sweet looking Madone. You take a look at it if you scroll down to the very bottom of his blog. It’s a work of art. Can you tell I’m a little biased with Madones? Finally, Jeff gets extra credit for working the word interdigitate into his post. He put it into the title which is somewhat cheating but I’ll give him the credit anyhow.

The other post was from Groover. She has a great blog that I love reading called Competitive Cycling – Goals and Dreams and Hard Work.

Her post was about the Tour of Bright race that she recently participated in. She trained really hard for this race so I was happy to see that she had bettered her time by 11 minutes this year. Her description of taking some sprint points on the first day cracked me up because she doesn’t see herself as a sprinter. She said “I guess the one-eyed is king amongst the blind so I can be a sprinter amongst climbers”. What a great saying.

Her post is located at:

She also included a video at the bottom of her post which is fantastic. If I ever get to Australia I’d like to take a crack at climbing Mt. Hotham. It looks like a great climb.

So that’s it for the post challenge. It was kind of fun throwing out a post topic and seeing what others came up with. If you’re interested in throwing out a topic for others let me know. I’d love to participate.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Favorite Ride/Adventure of 2009

Last week I threw down a challenge to write a post on “Your favorite ride/adventure of 2009”. Since I’ve taken up this challenge as well I’ve had to mentally sort through the all of the rides of 2009 and determine which adventure survives while the rest get voted off of the cycling adventure island. The three rides that made the final cut were.

The Alpine Loop. This ride included a leg busting 8 mile ascent at 10% grade and a screaming 10 mile descent.
Tuesday Night Group Ride. This ride included the fastest pacelining I’ve ever experienced while accidentally running over road kill. One for the books.
Day 2 of the STP. This ride didn’t include any incredible descents or major road kill but I was able to celebrate with Jenny and my oldest son their first and second centuries on successive days.

I know that the suspense is building so without any further delay the winner is Day 2 of the STP.

If you’re not familiar with the STP it’s an organized ride from Seattle to Portland which spans 204 miles. We split the ride in half with 102 miles the first day and another 102 miles on the second day. Day one of the trip went amazing well. For my wife and sons first century they had perfect conditions. The weather was warm and as an added bonus we had a tail wind for the last 50 miles. It just couldn’t get much better than that.

Day 2 wasn’t as easy but proved to be more rewarding. Two or three miles into the ride we had to stop because my son was having some knee pain. We offered to let him call his buddies who were driving a support vehicle for us but he decided to stick it out and continue on. A little while latter Jenny started having knee pains as well. We were having a full blown bad knee fest-o-rama. At this point I was seriously wondering if they were going to make it to Portland but they kept on.

At times during the day we would keep a really good pace but at others we slowed down to a crawl but at no time did either one of them quit. Both Jenny and my son showed some true guts.

It was a really long day for both of them but and as they crossed the finish line and enjoyed the celebration in a park in the middle of Portland I could tell they both felt like they had just done something special. I think if the journey had been easy that day they wouldn’t have felt such a sense of accomplishment.

As Jenny and I held hands in an interdigitated manner after the ride I was happy that I was able to share this experience with both of them. I believe you can learn a lot about yourself when you push yourself beyond what you think you can accomplish. Both Jenny and my son did just that. I’m sure we will talk about the 2009 STP for years to come.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Post Challenge

For the past week I’ve wracked my brain for something interesting to write about and the only thing I could come up with was my hatred of little green balls of poison. My lack of writing isn’t due to a lack of riding but I’m guessing that not many people are really interested in my trainer ride monotony. Unless you’ve been out riding in the latest arctic blast you probably don’t have much to write about either.

So here’s my idea. I’m going to throw out a writing topic and ask everyone that is interested to write a post on it sometime in the next week. I’m sure you’re really busy at this time of year but hopefully you’ll be able to find some time in the next week for a post. I will also write a post on the same topic and post it next Friday.

If you choose to participate in this assignment your efforts will not go unnoticed. Nosiree! If you paste a link to your awesome post in a comment to me I will consolidate all of them into one post with a short synopsis and link of your post. That way the 1000’s of people (OK, maybe a little less than that) who read my blog will check out your post and take note of the incredible writer and rider that you are. Also, if you don’t have a blog (I’m not sure how could that be) and still want to participate just email me your post and I’ll post it on my site for all others to check out. My email address is mikeonhisbike1 at gmail dot com.

So without further delay here is your post challenge.

Your favorite ride/adventure of 2009

I added adventure to the topic in case you don’t ride and still want to participate. This topic could be on just about anything you want from a great race, excruciating mountain climb, incredible wreck, interesting tour, brush with fame, trip to the dentist and the list goes on.

I went on a lot of rides in 2009 so I’m not really sure which one I’m going to write about but I’ll have a good post up by next Friday. Don’t be shy about taking up this challenge, I’m excited to hear of your greatest adventure moments of 2009.

As with any good assignment here’s a stretch goal for you. If you work the word interdigitate into your post somewhere I will give you extra credit. So start thinking about what you can write about and get your creativity going on that extra credit word.

Have a great weekend and be sure to make some time for writing.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Little Green Balls of Poison

Kids love sugar! I believe this is pretty much an absolute. They love it in just about any form. Cookies, cake, candy bars, soda, ice cream and the list goes on. How could you not like a food with a name like everlasting gobstopper or super double chocolate chunk fudge? I think if we let them our kids would eat some form of sugar based food for every meal. Of course being the health conscious people that they are I’m sure they would eat ice cream and cake for at least one meal of the day because after all there are flour, eggs, and milk in this meal. That would be their form of kid health food.

The love of sugar is one of the things that make you a kid. There is no way that I could as an “adult” eat like my kids do. It would make me sicker than a dog. So, when does this love of sugar go away? I remember as a kid when the vegetables would show up on my plate the gag reflex would initiate. For the most part gag reflexes are good. After all that is what prevents you from eating or drinking dangerous things like motor oil, paint thinner (I drank that once but that’s another story), battery acid, and poison.

My theory is little by little as kids are forced to eat vegetables their gag reflexes are dulled with the likes of broccoli, spinach, turnips, green beans, and peas. In fact, if forced to eat enough of these foods over time they actually acquire a taste for them.

Lately, I’ve been trying to eat healthier in addition to my training in hopes to get to an optimal riding weight. I’ve been eating green beans, salad, carrots, corn, and I even tried brussel sprouts for the first time in my life. To be honest they weren’t too bad. Not great but not bad either. I guess you can say that I’ve been eating like an adult. After all of this healthy eating there is one vegetable that I still can’t get myself to eat because the gag reflex still exists. This vegetable is like my form of kryptonite. I can’t conquer it and frankly I don’t really want to. So I’m following the example of Superman and just staying as far away from it as possible.

Today product review is on my vegetable nemesis “Peas”!

In my opinion Peas are little green balls of poison! They are just plain nasty. They top the chart on the gag reflex quotient in the three categories. Texture, smell and taste.

Once you have bitten into them peas have the texture of a nice warm inviting MUD. Right now I’m betting some of you are saying, but Mike, what about fresh peas right out of the garden? They don’t have that texture at all. That’s true fresh peas have escaped the membrane coated mud texture but they still don’t pass the rotten taste test. I think paint thinner might just taste better than peas. I’ve tried them both.

I’ve often said that everything tastes better with bacon. Bacon wrapped shrimp? Better! Bacon wrapped green beans? Better! Macaroni and cheese with bacon? Better. Bacon with peas? Not better.

So, from one friend to another my recommendation to you is to stay as far away from peas as possible.

They are little green balls of poison.

Finally, in the spirit of full disclosure, I have not received compensation from either the peas growers of America or the National Pea Haters Association (NPHA) although I’d like to become a member some day.

My name is Mike J and I approve this message.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Book Review: A Dog in a Hat

Over the Thanksgiving break I read the book A Dog in a Hat: An American Bike Racer's Story of Mud, Drugs, Blood, Betrayal, and Beauty in Belgium by Joe Parkin. If you’re not familiar with Joe Parkin he also has a very entertaining blog where he answers questions that he receives from people on a whole host of subjects related to cycling.

Anyway, back to the book. When Joe was 18 he was living in California and doing a lot of amateur racing when he met up with Bob Roll. Bob in his wisdom convinced Joe that if he really wanted to go where there was some serious bike racing that he should move to Belgium and learn the ropes. With that Joe got multiple jobs and saved up $3000 for his grand adventure. Joe also wrote a letter to Albert Claeys who had taken in some racers in the past and asked for some assistance. He never heard back from Albert but with $3000 in to his name he headed off for Belgium with a goal to make in onto a pro team and support himself.

When Joe arrives he ends up hooking up with Albert who gives him a place to stay and starts entering races. After racing a season as an amateur he lands a contract with a team at which time his eyes are opened to a whole new world of the pro ranks.

I’ve read books before of pro bike racing but never from the perspective of what it’s like to be a pro at the bottom of the ranks. Joe describes season after season of bike crashes, contract negotiations, dealing with the language barrier, training, drug use, and throwing races in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

Years ago Charles Barkley published an autobiography in which he ended up refuting some of the things that were said in “his” book. I wasn’t surprised when this happened because most autobiographies are written by a ghost writer after a series of interviews between the subject and writer.

What I really liked about this book is that is was actually written by Joe himself. This book is all Joe which means it’s a little rough in sections but you know it’s in Joe’s words and what he wanted to say.

For me there are two kinds of books. The ones that I breathe a sign of relief because I finally finished them and the ones that I’m really sad when they are over.

This book fit into the last category for me. It was a really interesting look at the inner workings of European bike racing.

This book gets a thumbs up from Mike J.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Freedom to Roam

The other night Jenny and I watched “The Hunt for Red October” while we were doing some trainer riding. The last time I saw this movie was in a theater in the early 90’s so I didn’t remember much. Loss of memory was good in this case because it was like watching a whole new movie again. Anyway, there is a great scene in the movie after Captain Ramius (Sean Connery) has told his immediate crew that he plans to defect to the United States and he is going to take them with him. After some thought one of his crew explains his plans once he gets to the US. Here’s how it goes.

Capt. Vasili Borodin: I will live in Montana. And I will marry a round American woman and raise rabbits, and she will cook them for me. And I will have a pickup truck... maybe even a "recreational vehicle." And drive from state to state. Do they let you do that?
Captain Ramius: I suppose.
Capt. Vasili Borodin: No papers?
Captain Ramius: No papers, state to state.
Capt. Vasili Borodin: Well then, in winter I will live in... Arizona. Actually, I think I will need two wives.
Captain Ramius: Oh, at least.

This scene reminded me of something that I am very thankful for. I am thankful for the freedom to roam. I have the freedom to go just about where ever I want and no one asks me for papers. What a great thing. I could get on my bike tomorrow and ride all the way across the country and no one would care because I have the freedom to do just that. Granted they might think I’m a little nuts because it is November but I could do it just the same. Don’t worry Jenny, I’m not planning on any cross country trips.

Of course I’m thankful for a lot of other things, but right now I’m thankful for the freedom to roam.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. Remember, you’re going to need those extra calories that you’ll consume tomorrow come springtime when you’re out on an epic ride.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Photos of the Week

Sometimes a series of pictures say it all.

Tomorrow night is our family's 7th annual pie night. Last year we had well over 70 people attend. I'm really looking forward to some serious carbo loading. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Interval Training Part 2

Yesterday I wrote about the love/hate relationship that I have with intervals and promised that I would share with you some of the more scientific information that I found on the subject. I know that you would be really disappointed if I didn’t follow through so here goes.

A majority of the useful information that found was taken from the Cycling Performance Tips website at the following URL This is a great website. There’s nothing flashy about it at all. Just a bunch of information about cycling and the science behind it. If you’ve got a minute you should check it out.

Anyway, back to intervals.

So, why the heck would anyone in their right mind subject themselves to intervals.

Here’s the reason.
When you train to your maximum by doing intervals changes occur which will allow you to push even farther into your anaerobic zone the next time out. This is because:
  • Your muscle metabolism changes to extract more oxygen from every milliliter of blood flowing through the muscle capillaries
  • More capillaries develop in the muscles
  • Your heart adapts to pump more blood for any specific time interval
  • You learn to mentally deal with the pain and exercise through it

How often should you do intervals?

Intervals are most effective when:
  • They are limited to twice a week during the peak training season
  • The interval sessions are separated by at least 48 hours to allow adequate recovery.

What’s more important the intensity of the interval or the duration?
The answer is the intensity not the frequency or duration of interval training.
A study of interval training for 10 weeks found the following in a group of cyclists (all groups started off with a base of 40 minutes of intervals 6 times a week):
One group maintained exercise intensity, but decreased the duration of each session by 66%. The second group maintained exercise intensity, but decreased the frequency to 2 times a week. And the third maintained the frequency and duration, but decreased the intensity of the sessions.

The conclusion was the VO2max of the first two groups held constant, while that of the third decreased. So, intensity is more important than either the duration of the intervals or the frequency per week in maximizing the benefit of intervals on performance.

So I think it’s pretty clear that intervals are important but not the only type of training you should do during these horrible winter months.

As I stare out the window while I’m typing I’m really glad that I’m not out in the rain that has been coming down for days. I think I’ll just ride my trainer tonight while watching 24.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Interval Training

A number of years ago we purchased a returned trainer from the basement of REI. When we got it home we noticed that there was a Chris Carmichael DVD included in the box. Well, being the good cyclists that we are after a month or so we pulled the DVD out and watched it while we did a trainer ride.

This was our first introduction to the world of intervals and it wasn’t pretty. Honestly, this was probably the closest I’ve ever come to throwing up while riding but the funny thing is we kept riding to this DVD. Why? Beats me. My dad tells a story of a guy who was hitting himself in the head with a hammer over and over again and when someone approached him to ask why he replied because it feels so good when I quit. I’m thinking we used this same logic for riding to this DVD over and over again.

The thing is once we got used to doing intervals I noticed that I could climb better and ride faster. At that point I realized that the pain and torture of intervals was worth every second.

In my self prescribed training plan I’m planning on incorporating intervals into my rides beginning next month. I have mixed emotions about this. I’m not looking forward to the pain of adapting to them but on the other hand I’m looking forward to riding stronger.

If you’re not familiar with intervals here’s the how my typical interval session works.

20 minutes of warm up riding
5 minutes of the hardest riding I can stand without throwing up
5 minutes of light recovery riding
5 minutes of the hardest riding I can stand without my head exploding
5 minutes of light recovery riding
5 minutes of the hardest riding I can stand without my legs cramping into a giant knot
5 minutes of light recovery riding
5 minutes of the hardest riding I can stand without crying like a little school girl
5 minutes of cool down riding
30 minutes of pass out on the couch and reflection time to wonder what the heck I just did to myself.

Every time I do intervals there is a strange break in the space time continuum that occurs. While I’m doing my 5 minutes of interval torture, time actually slows down to what feels like one hour per 5 minutes. I know this because when I look down at my watch after what feels like 5 minutes only a couple of seconds have expired. Then, when I’m riding my 5 minutes of heavenly light recovery riding, time miraculously speeds up to warp speed of 10 seconds per every 5 minutes. I guess this is one of the benefits of interval training that not everyone gets to experience. This is quite the strange phenomenon.

I did a little research about the scientific benefits of interval training but this post is getting kind of long for my short attention span so I’ll save that for tomorrow.

In the mean time, happy interval training.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Increasing Pedal Cadence without the Heart Rate

This winter I’ve been trying to smooth out my pedal stroke to gain more efficiency and I’m also trying to increase my pedal cadence. Smoothing out my pedal stroke is going really well in fact by spring I may not be pedaling squares anymore. They may be squares with rounded off corners but they won’t be squares. I’m well on my way there.

Increasing my cadence isn’t going so well. Here’s the rub. I can increase my cadence in an easy gear no problem but when I do this my heart rate climbs at least 10 bpm or more. In my mind this seems strange. If I pedal in a tougher gear with lower cadence thus using a lot more leg muscles my heart rate remains fairly low but once I shift into an easier gear taking the load off of my legs my heart rate shoots up. Is my heart confused or something? Come on figure things out heart. Low resistance = beat slow. More resistance = beat faster. Got it?

Since my heart isn’t listening to my logic I did a little research and found:

A lot of people have a lack of neuromuscular coordination when it comes to increasing pedal cadence. So basically my nerves aren’t firing the correct muscles in the correct order to make my legs go around quickly and effortlessly without an increase of heart rate.

Could this be what is happening to me? Am I really that big of a spaz? Really? I’m uncoordinated? I’ve ridden thousands of miles so I’m thinking my legs know what to do by now.

Well, I also found out that if I continue with the high cadence training that my heart rate will eventually come down to a reasonable level.

We’ll see if it works but I’m still a little ticked that my heart isn’t listening to my logic. More to come.

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Trainer Material

The following takes place between X:00 A.M. and X:00 A.M. on the day of the California presidential primary. Events occur in real time.

Do you recognize this opening line?

It’s the opening line for the TV series 24. I’m not much of a TV watcher so the most I knew about it was that it was on Fox. That was until last May. Last May when I rode the 100 miles of Nowhere trainer century I watched the first 6 episodes of the first season in a row. This show is so captivating that it really helped to get my mind off of the fact that I was riding 100 miles on a trainer in my family room at 5am on a Saturday morning.

I ended up never watching the rest of the series that we borrowed because Jenny didn’t like the show. That was until this winter. Over the weekend we found ourselves in Half Price Books and I spotted a used copy of the first season of 24 at a very reasonable price. Well, I own the DVDs now so I’m going to watch the rest of the series but only while doing trainer rides.

Here’s the plan, on the nights that Jenny doesn’t join me for a trainer session I’m planning on watching an episode or two. On the nights where she does join me we’ll watch some of the movies that we picked on VHS tape for .25 a piece.

I’m actually pretty darn excited to get up there and ride which is a good thing because my plan is to integrate intervals into my trainer rides again by the end of the month. Intervals certainly aren’t my favorites but they pay off in the long run.

The following takes place between 8:00PM and 10:00PM in our bike room with multiple fans going in the dead of winter. Events occur in real time (but don’t really feel like it).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Duct Tape Nerd Pack

Our family has a tradition of making one Christmas present for each other in addition to ones that we buy each other. Since we needed to get a package in the mail to our son in Uruguay right away so it would be there in time for Christmas we all sat down and created for him some Duct tape masterpieces. The kids and Jenny made him a glasses case, tie, notebook cover and wallet. All of these items were made entirely out of duct tape. I made him a duct tape pocket protector. I really don't think he'll ever use it unless he's invited to a nerd rodeo. If so he'll be a hit. Here's a picture of my creation. It's amazing what you can make with duct tape.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

6WS - Painting The House Isn't Cross Training

Yesterday was my day off of work. When I get a day off I normally go for a really tough bike ride in celebration but yesterday's weather was horrendous to say the least. It was rainy and the wind was howling so I decided to work on one of my goals for the year.

I know that 95% of my goals are cycling related but the one that isn't is to be a better husband by working on home improvement projects. Yesterday the project was to paint the living room with Jenny. I'd like to think that it was some good cross training but after 10 hours of painting the only thing that got worked out were my shoulders and arms. Not really cycling related muscles but they are killing me nonetheless.

Anyhow, the room looks great and in the long run if I get a bunch of home improvement projects finished during the horrible weather when the sun decides to come out I'll be out on the bike tearing things up.

So painting didn't turn out to be very good cross training but it is a very good investment for cycling in the future.

Although if I don't get to training I'm going to end up looking like this.

To see other Six Word Saturday submissions go to

Friday, November 13, 2009

Photo of the Week

A while ago I was out riding and passed this street sign. I would never want to live on Skid Rd but it was nice riding past it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

They Came, They Came!!!

Do you remember in the Movie "The Jerk" when Steve Martin meets the mail delivery guy and realizes that the phone books had just arrived. He dances around the parking lot and sings at the top of his lungs "The phone books are here, the phone books are here". Well, I just had one of those moments.

When I went out to get the mail there was a package addressed to me and I knew what was in it. I refrained from dancing around and singing out loud but in my head all the way to the house I was singing "The Fat Cyclist Jerseys are here, The Fat Cyclist Jerseys are here"!!!!!!

This year Jenny and I are giving each other Fat Cyclist Jerseys for Christmas. I know that my mother is reading this right now and shaking her head in disgust that I even opened the package before Christmas but in this case it's imperative that we check to see if they fit or not. And, of course I needed to check them out. Hey, I'm an adult I'm allowed to peak at Christmas presents aren't I? Here are a couple of shots for your viewing pleasure.

Dang, it looks fast

Here's the saying inside of the collar

Finally, here's the secret "inspirational" inscription inside the middle rear pocket. Since its a secret don't tell anyone else. It will just be our secret.

It's going to be hard to wrap these babies up for the next month and a half but I can do it. After all I wouldn't want to disappoint my mother any more than I already have.

From what I remember of "The Jerk" right after Steve Martin got his beloved phone book someone started shooting at him. In this case I hope no shooting occurs at our house.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cycling Terminology Quiz

For today's post I need for you to do something for me. Please put all of your books under your desk and take out a number two pencil. Does that last statement simultaneously take you back to high school and strike fear in your heart? Pop quizzes were never my favorite but if you're a cyclist I'm thinking that you'll like this quiz. Most cyclists have adopted a vocabulary which allows them to communicate efficiently with other cyclists and baffle eavesdroppers all at the same time. They do this by using strange terms related to their beloved sport which are familiar to other cyclists but mean absolutely nothing to others. So today I've got a quiz to test your cycling speech impediment. Feel free to take your time but please do not look on your neighbors computer during the test. That would be cheating! Ready Begin.

1. Granny Gear

a. Clothes that compliment hair which has a blue tint.

b. The third cog on a front chain ring.

c. A designer cycling clothing line designed for the active retired women.

2. Presta

a. A valve stem designed to fit a narrow wheel.

b. Brand name for bottled spaghetti sauce.

c. A shirt that has recently been ironed.

d. An Italian term meaning to race like your hair is on fire coined by Mario Cipollini.

3. Lactate Threshold

a. The amount of Chocolate milk a cyclist can drink after a tough ride without throwing up.

b. The point at which lactic acid starts to accumulate in the blood stream.

c. The proximity a cyclist can maintain to a cow without being chased.

4. Bonk (American Version)

a. The act of running into another cyclist while gawking at their bike.

b. A condition where depletion of glycogen stores results in sudden and severe fatigue.

c. The sound made by a cyclist falling over while stopped at an intersection and still connected to both pedals.

5. Cadence

a. The number of revolutions of the crankset per minute.

b. A chant sung by cyclists while riding together in a paceline.

c. The invisible zipper found in most cycling jerseys.

6. Blinky

a. The name of a famous cycling clown who frequents mountain stages in the Tour de France.

b. The act of getting a bug out of your eye at high speeds.

c. A small red flashing light attached to the back of a bike to attract the attention of passing cars.

7. Bobke

a. A Dutch term which means to ride in rain storms of biblical proportions.

b. Nickname of cycling and hand talking legend Bob Roll

c. A person who has the latest cycling gear but no cycling skills.

8. Clipless

a. A pedal which connects to a cleat on the sole of a shoe thus holding the shoe firmly to the pedal.

b. The act of wearing a bike helmet without buckling the chin strap.

c. A cyclist with long hair not put into a pony tail

9. VO2Max

a. The maximum amount of money a cyclist is able to spend on cycling equipment without the threat of divorce.

b. The number of days a cyclist can ride in a row without doing yard work.

c. The maximum capacity of an cyclist to transport and utilize oxygen during intense exercise.

10. Chamois Cream

a. A cream used by cyclists to reduce friction in sensitive areas.

b. A favorite cream used to top lattes after a tough ride.

c. Hair gel worn by many flamboyant cyclists.

OK, please put your number 2 pencils down. This test will be self scored so you're on the cyclists honor system. If there is such a thing.


1. B, 2. A, 3. B, 4. A, 5. A, 6. C, 7. B, 8. A, 9. C, 10. A

Here's the grading scale

10 - 9 correct, Excellent work, you've earned yourself an extra ride this week.

8 - 7 correct, You're getting there, spend a couple of hours at your local bike shop to sharpen your skills this week.

6 and below, if you own a bike please return it to the nearest bike shop immediately.

Thanks for taking the quiz. Feel free to report your score in the comments section and forward this test to fellow cyclists to test their knowledge.

New Economic Indicator

When I was in college I had to write a term paper in an Economics class which analyzed all of the current economic indicators. For those of you who aren’t familiar with economic indicators they are things like unemployment rate, housing starts, and the Consumer Price Index. With the stacks of analysis that I typed up I was then required to predict what would happen to the economy in the next year. I remember looking through all of my data that I had assembled and then basically making a wild guess and hoping my professor would buy it. I think I got a B on the paper.

Now that I’m a year or two older I realize the reason I had a hard time making sense of the economic indicators was because I was missing the most critical indicator of all. So, today I’d like to introduce you to the newest economic indicator which will surely be at the top of Timothy Geithner list the next time he briefs the president on the state of the economy.

*** The Mecca Price Index ***

A little under a year ago I wrote a post about the making trips to Mecca in our town. For those of you who haven’t been to Marysville, WA Mecca is the nickname of the local Coke bottling plant. In the parking lot there are 4 coke machines and last December a 12oz can of coke could be purchased for 25 cents. Times were good back then and everyone enjoyed social trips to Mecca for a refreshing beverage. Then in August of this year the Coke bottling plant placed signs on the Mecca machines stating that the price of soda would be increasing to 40 cents. I remember at the time thinking that the economy had really taken a turn for the worst and it would be a while before we bounced back. Since then the unemployment rate has gone above 10% for the first time since 1983. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Last night we heard a rumor that the price of a Mecca soda had dropped back down to 25 cents again. Could it be true? Could the economy be on it’s way up again? We made a family outing out of the rumor and confirmed that indeed the price of a 12 oz Coke is once again a mere 25 cents. Halleluiah!!!

So my report to Timothy Geithner is that the Mecca Price Index is down. Thus, by year end the economy will start its grand recovery.

I think I’ll enjoy a Coke right now in celebration. Now, if I just had an opportunity to do that term paper again maybe I would get an A this time.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cycling in the Rain

On Saturday morning I got up early and decided to go for a ride. After all it was early November in the Pacific Northwest so it should be a great day for riding. The one thing I forgot was that most of the rides in November where I live contain plenty of "Liquid Sunshine". I still wanted to ride so I gathered up my rain gear and headed out. Normally, the Centennial trail is incredibly crowded when the weather is good but on a rainy early Saturday morning this is what the trail looked like.

I had the trail pretty much all to myself. I only saw 2 other cyclists out and they were really pounding away and looking like they were having a great time sprinting for fictitious sprint points.

Once I got used to the rain and my body acclimated to the colder weather the ride was great. I'm looking forward to some more early morning liquid sunshine rides in the future.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

No Shave November Update

Last week I divulged that I was going to participate in the No Shave November ritual by growing a soul patch. Well after a week of not shaving below my bottom lip not a soul has even asked me if I quit shaving there. How's that for not being able to grow facial hair? Lets face it, I'm just not much of a facial hair growing person. That's OK with me. I also noticed there are a few whiskers that aren't brown. No way they could be grey, I'm making a judgement call and calling them "blonde". I'll update you next week on the growth. I'm looking for some big progress next week.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

6WS - Going Riding In the Rain Today

I've had enough inside bike riding for the week. I think I'll do some riding in the rain today. Not too bad if you wear the right gear and don't think about it too much.

To see more six word Saturday's click here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

How to Buy a Bike Trainer (Part 2)

Part 2 of How to Buy a Bike Trainer

Once you have made your decision on what type of trainer to buy here are some other things to look for in a trainer
  • Make sure it’s sturdy and stable. The last thing in the world you want to do is lean over while riding and fall to the ground causing untold injury. You would never want to tell your cycling buddies that the gnarly gash on your leg was caused while riding on a bike trainer. That’s where unforgiving nicknames come from.
  • Make sure it’s easy to install and remove your bike on the trainer. Since no one is ever motivated to ride on their trainer if it’s a long or tough process to put your bike on your trainer there’s a good chance you’ll find a lame excuse not to ride. Most trainers are designed to quickly install your bike. If it takes longer than a minute to install your bike flunk the trainer.
Where to buy your trainer
  • Most bike shops carry really nice bike trainers and they will help you find one that will work for you. New trainers also come with a warranty. The only downside to this is you’re going to pay full price for a trainer. Unless you’ve got piles of extra cash laying around that you are dieing to get rid of this isn’t the best place to go.

  • There are literally thousands of bike trainers that have been ridden only a couple of times if at all and then tucked away in a closet for a couple of years that are on the market at incredibly reduced prices. These are the ones to look for

  • You can also find trainers on huge sales that have been returned. We picked one up at REI in Seattle that someone returned because they couldn’t figure out how to assemble it. We assembled it at the store, made sure it worked then bought it before someone else picked it up. We got it for half price.

So there you have it. Now you have no excuse for sitting around this winter. And if you get started training now you’ll be ready for the 3rd annual 100 Miles of Nowhere. Happy training.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

How to Buy a Bike Trainer

Every now and then I come across someone on a forum asking about bike trainers and what they should buy. This can be a daunting purchase so I thought I’d give you my two cents worth of advice about what I know about trainers and how to purchase them. First of all let me say that I’m not totally fond of trainer rides but were I live they are a necessary evil in the winter if you want to do some serious riding in the spring and summer. I look at each trainer ride as an investment toward some epic summer adventures.

Wind Trainer
This was the first trainer that I ever owned and I completely wore it out after a couple of seasons. The advantages of a wind trainer are they are the cheapest of all trainers and the faster you ride the more resistance you get so I guess you could say it replicates real riding situations. Now for the disadvantages. Wind trainers are incredibly NOISEY! If you plan on riding while you watch TV don’t plan on listening to any sound unless you have a huge surround sound system and your neighbors don’t mind 120 decibels of Phil Liggett pumping out of your house. When I had a wind trainer I would turn on the closed caption while I rode. It wasn’t an optimal solution but it increased my speed reading skills. My advice: if you can afford a more expensive trainer bypass a wind trainer because of the sound and they normally aren’t built very well.

Fluid Trainer
We own one of these trainers and it works really well. The advantages are they are really quiet so you’ll be able to watch TV or talk to others without the being required to know sign language. Fluid trainers also give you a smooth ride that is the most comparable to real live outside riding. One the downside, fluid trainers are incredibly expensive ranging into the $300 arena. They are also prone to spring leaks which could make a huge permanent mess all over your carpet. If your significant other isn’t a cyclist this could get you a lifetime banishment to the garage for trainer rides. Not a good thing.

I don’t have much experience with rollers because I’m just not coordinated enough to stay up on them. I borrowed a set once and after a couple of attempts that was all for me. Every time I got on I envisioned myself sliding off of the rollers while still on my bike and hurling helplessly into the wall. Not my cup of tea but a lot of people say once you get the hang of rollers they are great for increasing your balancing skills. I also hear that rollers don’t provide much resistance so if you’re looking for some good resistance training rollers probably aren’t for you.

Mag Trainer
This is what I currently use and I like it a lot. Mag trainers are quiet and are in the mid range of the price spectrum. Most of them have a control which allows you to adjust the resistance which comes in really handy if you want to do some really hard interval type training. The only disadvantage of the mag trainer is that the resistance is constant no matter what speed you’re riding at. Personally, this isn’t a big deal to me so for my training purposes and budget a mag trainer suits me just fine.

In tomorrows post I’ll share some thoughts that I have about what to look for in a trainer once you’ve made up your mind on what type to buy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tour de Flu

For the last week the kids have been battling the flu off and on at our house. They all looked like they were finally getting over it but last night they took a turn for the worst. When I got home from work all of the kids were still looking pretty miserable and Jenny wasn’t looking very good either. Needless to say, things were grim at our house. I'm really hoping everyone will snap out of it soon. It's just no fun being sick. While I was in the kitchen I heard a comedian on the radio who told the most fitting joke I’ve heard in a long time.

When is the only time it’s appropriate to yell "I’ve got diarrhea" in public?
When you’re playing scrabble!

That joke really cracked me up but only got courtesy laughs from the rest of the family. I wonder why? By 6:30 pm I was the only one who was still awake in the house. For some reason I didn’t get the flu like the rest of the family. So, in celebration I brought my bike downstairs and rode on my trainer for an hour. It was like my own private Tour de Flu stage.

I recently checked out the documentary on the Civil War by Ken Burns from the library. I watched one of these DVDs while I rode. It was fascinating. I wish someone would do an in depth documentary on the Tour de France like Ken Burns has done on the Civil War or Baseball. I would buy that in a second.

I’m continuing to wash my hands whenever I think about it in an attempt to bypass this bug. Wish me luck. If I’m lucky stage 2 of the Tour de Flu could be tomorrow night.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Counting Calories

When I was a kid I wasn’t much of an eater. In fact, my parents tell me that they used to routinely find candy bars in the back seat of our car with a single bite taken out of them that I had left behind.

Well, all of that has changed these days because now I really, really, really like food. I’m not quite sure when the transformation happened but it probably had something to do with marrying a great cook. I’ve been a “Good Eater” ever since.

My eating habits aren’t a problem when I’m in full out cycle training mode but we I hit the off season the “reserves” start to build up. Out of curiosity I decided to document what I ate yesterday and I’ve made a couple of conclusions about it. First of all here is my consumption list.

5 am
1 cup of homemade Granola
1 cup of skim milk
Eating pretty darn healthy so far – this could be a great eating day.

9:30am – really hungry but I don’t want to break into my lunch yet so I dig through my wallet to look for money to feed the candy machine. No money in my wallet so I dig through my pockets only to find one penny, seriously, ONE PENNY! I go back to work and count down the minutes until lunch time. I can feel the good eating habits slipping away.

10:45am – I can’t stand it anymore and head to the break room early to heat up my meatloaf sandwich in the microwave. Oh yeah, it was good. That hit the spot but I also remember that my coworkers have a cabinet full of chips that are free for the taking so I grab a bag of Fritos.

3pm - Leave work and drive home. Grab a hand full of Smarties on the way out the door to keep me awake on the way home. That works and I survive the drive.

4pm – walk in the door and have a couple fun size candy bars from the left over Halloween candy jar. Then I eat two pieces of cream cheese frosting covered pumpkin bars. I told you it was dangerous to have a good cook for a wife.

5:30pm – eat two Navajo tacos which if you haven’t had them before they are deep fried yummy goodness. I’m done eating for the day and feeling very satisfied.

I originally started counting calories for the day but by the time I got to the bag of Fritos I decided ignorance was bliss and stopped the counting madness.

Now there are a couple alternatives I could take here to stop the eating madness.

1. If you notice, my vegetable intake was next to nothing unless you count corn chips, pumpkin bars and salsa as a healthy dose of vegetables. Maybe I should replace some of the garbage that I eat with low calorie vegetables. Not really an option unless someone were to stage some kind of vegetable intervention on me.

2. I could eat smaller portions of sensible food more often during the day so I don’t get as hungry. Probably a good idea but I just don’t see that happening.

3. I could kick my cycling training back into gear and burn up most of the junk calories that I eat.

Looks like I’m going to hit the cycling training again real soon. But first I think I’ll have some pie.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Bike Room

A couple of days after my son moved out of the house the vultures (our kids) swept in to scavenge through his remaining movie posters (he used to work at a movie theater) and clothes that he didn't pack away. My youngest daughter also moved into his room. I have to say that everyone was pretty sad to see him go but the kids loved the additions to their rooms and wardrobes. He is doing really well by the way.

Once the dust had settled we ended up with an empty bedroom right next to ours. It was empty for at least 15 minutes before all of the bikes moved in and made themselves comfortable. We also moved in a drum set, couch and a 13 inch TV/VCR combo. This is now one of my favorite rooms in the whole house.

Cable isn't connected to that room so we've been watching old movies that we have on VHS while we do trainer rides. Since it's been raining enough lately for us to consider building an ark we've had a lot of opportunities to do trainer rides. I love this room and have been enjoying watching movies that we haven't seen in years. Here is a list of some we've recently watched.

Return to me
The Italian Job
Tommy Boy
Finding Forester (My favorite so far, I love that movie)

I'm thinking about hitting the local thrift store to look for some cheap VHS movies. I bet I'll be able to pick up some classics for next to nothing.

We are calling our new room "The Bike Room" but I think we could do better. Got any ideas for a room name? I'm open for suggestions.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Plans for November

I came downstairs this afternoon to the sounds of Mmmmmmm....... and Ohhhhhhhhhh......
This is the sight of a very successful Halloween. My son went trick or treating last night dressed up as an M&M and carried a pillowcase. This afternoon he celebrated his successful evening by almost suffocating himself with his pillowcase over his head while eating as much candy as possible at one time. Good Times!!!

Now that we have made it to November it's time to unveil my plans for the month.

1. I'm going to participate in the NaBloWriMo. In a nutshell it's a challenge to write a blog post every day of the month. This could be a rough challenge because my blog posts haven't been very frequent lately. That will change this month!

NaBloWriMo - National Blog Writing Month

2. I'm going to participate in No Shave November. Last year my kids heard that the Oregon State Football team held a No Shave November challenge. Ever since then they have asked me if I was going to participate this year. Well, I'm going to give this a try but I'm only going to "attempt" to grow a soul patch. Jenny isn't very excited with this idea so we'll so how it goes. As for day one it's going strong.

3. I'm going to eat massive quantities of Pie culminating in the 7th Annual Pie Night toward the end of the month. In years past we've hosted this event at our house but it's grown so large that this year we rented a hall for the event. If you live in the area come on down because we've got room.

This is going to be a great month. Let the writing, growing, eating and occasional bike riding begin!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Burke-Gilman Hall of Fame

Last weekend I rode with a group of local Boy Scouts to finish up their Cycling merit badge. The final step of their merit badge was to complete a 50 mile ride. This group of 12 and 13 year old kids did a great job of sticking it out and made a great day of the trip. Surprisingly enough I never heard any complaining from any of them even though I know the last 15 miles were pretty tough on them.

We rode along the Sammamish River trail and then connected into the Burke-Gilman trail. The fall colors were out and at some points there were so many damp multi colored leaves on the ground that it was tough to keep your bike upright. I was cursing the fact that I couldn't find my camera all day because the picture opportunities were out of control. Turns out my camera was stuck between one of the kids beds and their wall. Why was it there? Some things I just don't want to know.

Anyway, as I was riding along I spotted a number of signs that said that the Burke-Gilman trail had been inducted into the Rails to Trails Hall of Fame. Rails to Trails Hall of Fame? Really? How does a trail get inducted into such a hall? Does a trail have to have a career that spans at least 10 years and then 5 years after retirement if it gets 75% of the votes from the Rails to Trails writers association it get this coveted election? What happens if the trail pulls a Brett Favre and decides to come out of retirement (over and over again)? How do you count the 5 years of retirement? Hmmmm..... Makes me wonder.

Well, I did a little research on the rails to trails website and found that:

"Beginning 2007, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy began nationally recognizing exemplary rail-trails around the country for induction into the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is selecting inductees on merits such as scenic value, high use, trail and trailside amenities, historical significance, excellence in management and maintenance of facility, community connections and geographic distribution."

After riding the Burke-Gilman I can truly say that it passes all of these stringent qualifications so I guess they earned their hall of fame signs.

Congratulations Burke-Gilman on your Hall of Fame induction. I hope to see you soon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Race Across The Sky

Two of the things that I really enjoy are cycling and movies so when both of these are mixed together I just can’t stay away. I even liked Breaking Away with all of its cheesiness. Last Thursday Jenny and I attended a one night showing of Race Across the Sky which is a documentary of the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race which was held last August.

If you’ve never heard of the Leadville 100 it’s a mountain bike race starting in Leadville Colorado. It’s a 100 mile race with an out and back format boasting elevations of over 12,000 feet. If that isn’t lung busting enough there are 14,000 feet of climbing in this race.

The movie starts out with a brief background on the history of the race then immediately takes you to the pre race meeting held at the local high school gym. There are so many people packed into this gym I’m sure they were breaking every fire code in the county but all of the racers seem to be enjoying themselves. The race organizer was dressed in full spandex racing gear and was also wearing a huge cowboy belt buckle. It was certainly a look all his own but he actually had some really good words of wisdom for the racers. He told them that they were tougher than they thought they were. He also told them that no one had ever died racing the Leadville 100 so they should give it more than they think they could give.

During this meeting they also introduced some of the pro riders who would also be racing. When they introduced 6 time winner Dave Weins the entire crowd gave him a standing ovation. It was pretty obvious they he had gained the respect of most of the other racers through the years. Oh yeah, there was also another well known rider that you’ve probably heard of but he didn’t come to the meeting. Lance Armstrong.

As the race started it was obvious that Lance Armstrong had someone setting the pace for him because the lead group was riding at a blistering speed. Later Dave Weins would say that the pace was so fast that after the first mountain climb his legs were cooked. Tactically, Lance had sized up his competition very well and exploited Dave Weins weaknesses.

By the 50 mile turn around point Lance had a solid 10 minute lead on Dave and had the Lance Armstrong stare of concentration going on. The 50 mile turn around point is at the top of a huge climb that most riders walk up. Watching Dave Weins pound up this ascent it was evident that he was riding to his limits trying to catch up with Lance. When he got to the turn around point he proved why he got the huge ovation at the pre race meeting. Even though he was riding to his limit and losing the race that he had owned for the past 6 years he paused for a brief second as he rode past a group of volunteers at the top of the mountain and thanked them for coming out and supporting the riders. That was really a classy move.

Lance held the lead for the rest of the race and easily beat Dave even after a scare where Lance got a flat. It was kind of funny, Lance looked around like “Hey, where’s the team car, who’s going to fix this flat?” Eventually, he pulled out a CO2 cartridge and filled his tire up and rode a mushy tire across the finish line.

Take aways from the Movie:
  • In cycling it’s always important to remember that you’re a lot tougher than you think you are. Those are some words to live by.
  • No matter how tired or in a hurry you are it’s important to take the time to thank people for their efforts
  • I am now a huge fan of Dave Weins. He’s the man!
  • I never want to race the Leadville 100. Hike-a-bike just isn't my thing.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Night Mountain Biking

Is it possible to do something on a bike that rivals the thrill and terror of a riding a roller coaster or gives you the feeling of putting yourself right in the middle of a really intense video game? Normally I would answer no but I think I’ve found the one thing bike related that could possibly top both of these feelings.

Night Mountain Biking.

In the last year I’ve read a couple of blog posts about how fun night mountain biking is so I decided that this was one cycling adventure that I needed to add to my cycling bucket list. In order make this a reality I had to do two things.

1. Make my Costco mountain bike dirt worthy again by putting the knobbies back on.
2. Convince Jenny that this wasn’t a totally insane idea and that she should try it with me.

Changing the tires on my mountain bike turned out to be fairly easy but when I approached Jenny with the idea of night mountain biking I was initially met with some crunched up eye brows. Over time she came around and was willing to give it a try but I could tell she still had some reservations.

A couple of weeks ago we waited for it to get dark, strapped some headlamps on to our helmets and headed across the street to the trail that circles our neighborhood. Based upon Jenny’s general lack of excitement about this outing I was thinking we would make it once around the half mile trail and call it a night. Boy was I wrong. After at least 20 feet of riding I felt a smile come across my face that I just couldn’t get off which was quickly followed by uncontrollable giggling. Jenny was following close behind me and I could hear the same uncontrollable giggling coming from her as well.

When we completed the loop I looked at Jenny and she said “That was a blast, let’s do it again”. That, was the sound of success!!!!

Night Mountain Biking is a really interesting sensation, you can’t ride as fast as you could in daylight but by having a light strapped to your helmet and only being able to see 10 feet in front of you I felt like I was absolutely flying down the twisted single track trail around our neighborhood. At one point I almost rode into a small ditch but at the last second I was able to stay on the trail.

Jenny and I took turns switching bikes as hers was a full suspension bike she borrowed from one of our kids and mine was fully ridged. We rode a bunch of laps around our neighborhood until our brakes were so wet that they were useless.

Since then we had dragged our kids out to try our latest adventure and they loved it too. I still prefer a nice long ride on a deserted road on a road bike but this winter I plan on doing a lot of Night Mountain Biking for cross training and the sheer entertainment of it. I’m hooked.

. . . . .

Friday, October 16, 2009

Photo of the Week

You have probably noticed that I haven't posted anything for a couple of weeks. I really have been meaning to but my attention has been turned to other things lately. You see this week my oldest son left to serve a 2 year Mormon mission in Uruguay where he will among other things be getting a very large dose of Spanish. I'm sure when he gets back we will have no problem ordering tacos at the local taco truck I frequent.

Now I have a favor to ask. If you ever see some missionaries out riding their bikes or they knock on your door will you be nice to them for a least a minute or two? You could even offer them a glass of water. You don't have to agree with their beliefs but I'm sure you could strike up a good conversation with them about bikes because most of them have been chased by dogs while riding at some point.

It won't be my son you're talking to unless you live in Uruguay but maybe someone will in turn offer him a glass of water on a hot day where he's at. You'll know what they look like because they will be wearing a name tag that looks like this. OK, this one is in spanish so the one you might see will look a little different. Anyway, thanks for helping me out.

On another note, I've recently given night mountain biking a try and it's a total blast. I'll do a write up about it next week. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Photo of the Week

This photo was taken by Jenny on Orcas Island while I was riding up Mt. Constitution. By far this is one of my favorite photos of the year and has been a productivity killer at work. Now how that be you say, well when I got to work on Monday I made this my wallpaper picture on the desktop of my computer. I can't tell you how many times I've found myself staring at this picture and riding up this road in my mind. It's been a great little escape from the grind of work.

By the way, this bridge was constructed by the CCC in the 1930's as part of an economic stimulas program. Back then the CCC workers made $30 a month of which $25 when back home to their families. I'd say they did a great job with this bridge.

Looking at this picture I wish I was there right now on my bike.

The forecast is calling for rain this weekend. Hopefully, the weather will be better where you live and you'll be able to get out for a ride.

Have a great weekend.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stay Puff Marshmallow Man

One of my favorite places to ride are deserted farm roads. If you can get past the aromatic smell of the farm animals these roads are a treat because they rarely have any car traffic on them. If you are riding with someone else farm roads are also fair game to ride next to each other because of the lack of traffic. When I ride these roads I usually have a very consistent idea running through my head which reminds me of the movie Ghost Busters. You know the 80’s classic staring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, and my personal favorite Rick Moranis.

What does Ghost Busters have to do with riding on farm roads? Well, here goes, as I rode along these roads I usually come across fields that have bales of hay laying in them. These aren’t your normal rectangular bales of hay though but rather they are of the gynormous round plastic covered variety. Here’s of shot of what I’m talking about.

As soon as I spot one of these fields I can’t help but to think about the scene in Ghost Busters where the evil Gozer threatens to turn into whatever the stars of the movie think about and then destroy the rest of New York City. All of the stars clear their heads of any thoughts except for Dan Aykroyd who thinks of none other than the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man. So the evil Gozer transforms himself into the lovable Stay Puff Marshmallow Man and start trashing the city.

After running through this scene in my head I can’t help but to wonder if the pile of oversized marshmallows on the farm fields are the remains of the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man after the Ghost Busters took care of him.

Probably not but you never know.

Tandem Review

One of Jenny’s cycling dreams has always been to rent a tandem and go for a ride. So after we rode Mt. Constitution we stopped by a bike shop on Orcas Island and rented a tandem to ride around for awhile.

Having never ridden a tandem before I must say it was quite the interesting experience. The following are my thoughts on tandems. In case you’re curious Jenny also wrote a post on her tandem thoughts. I haven’t read her post yet but I’m guessing she has a completely different slant on our tandem experience.

No spitting or any other bodily functions allowed

About 30 seconds after we took off Jenny leaned up and laid down the law regarding bodily functions. I think it went a little like this “hey buddy, no spitting or rockets while I’m back here.” I’m really not much for these things anyway but having my spitting rights revoked felt a little like having an itch and not being able to scratch it.

No standing and mashing

Orcas Island goes in two directions, up or down. The descents were in a word “awesome”. I always love descents no matter what but when it came to hill climbing the tandem was a challenge. Jenny and I were both huffing and puffing on any hill of substance and being total novices there was no way that we could have successfully orchestrated a stand and pedal mash session. It would have been more like a stand, pedal half a revolution and fall over session. I really missed the standing aspect of hill climbing.

Had to think about someone else when making gear selections

Since I was in the front I was the one making the gear selections. Normally, this is just an automatic thing that I don’t give much thought to when I’m riding alone. When your soul mate is also affected by your gear selection you have to think twice before shifting gears. This wasn’t a bad thing it was just a little weird.

Easy to talk to each other

Jenny and I always talk to each other when we ride but sometimes we end up doing some screaming just so we can hear each other. On a tandem there is no need to scream because you’re really close. That part was really nice. On another note, at one point Jenny needed to give her hands a rest from the bars so she grabbed a hold of my ever growing “love handles”. For those of you taking notes at home, this isn’t a good idea. Just don’t try it. Love handles aren’t a good substitute for handlebars.

Handled like a truck

I had never thought about this before but the wheel base of a tandem is super long. That being the case the handling capabilities of a tandem are very similar to a school bus (no, not a short bus). So, as we descended down some pretty steep winding roads I really had to concentrate as to not weave into the other lane. I think I’d rather keep the epic crashes to myself.

Could cruise on the flats

When we did find some flat sections riding the tandem was a blast. We could really cruise without a ton of effort. I could see how people could really get into tandem riding on flat surfaces.

I was done after an hour

I’ve heard tandems called Divorcycles before and I can see why. All in all our tandem ride was really fun but after an hour I was done. Just the simple act of deciding to coast was a chore. We ended up settling on the voice command of “coasting in 3, 2, 1”. I just can’t imagine how couples can ride tandems for 100 miles while pedaling, coasting, stopping, and starting all in sync. Jenny and I are decent at communicating but this takes communication to a whole new level.

In conclusion, it was fun to ride a tandem together and I think I’d rent one again if the terrain were flatter. I’m not ready to do a tandem century any time soon though.