Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Married a Super Hero

So last week I had a cold which totally messed up any plans that I had
to ride. For some reason when I have a cold I don't drink much water.
I know, I know, one of the best ways to get rid of a cold is to drink.
I just have a hard time drinking for some reason when I'm under the
weather. I don't know why, it must be a condition. Anyway, this Friday
the forecast is saying it's supposed to be sunny and 68 degrees. This
very well could be the one day of spring like weather we get around here
until July 5th. That being the case I am most certainly going to

Since my hydration level was next to nothing last week Jenny and I
decided that we would challenge each other to a hydration duel. Here's
the throw down. From Monday morning through Thursday at midnight both
of us would ingest profuse amounts of water all the while keeping track
of our personal intake. The loser would have to pay for the ginormous
ice cream cones that we plan on eating as a recovery meal after our ride
on Friday. For me these bets are all I need for motivation. I love
these kind of throw downs.

So, on Monday morning I started my work day by filling up my 44oz cup
with water with every intention of drinking water until I was silly. By
10am I had consumed 88oz and was stuck in an hour and a half meeting.
I'm telling you that was almost as tough as riding a century. I made it
to the end of my meeting but it took a lot of determination and mind
over matter. By the end of the day I had logged 164 oz of water. I was
fully hydrated and feeling pretty confident about my chances of watching
Jenny pay for the ice cream. When I asked her how she did on the
challenge she told me that her total for the day was 184oz. Ouch, how
could that be? Did I challenge her at one of her super powers? Am I
married to Hydration Woman? Does this super power come with a cape?
How did I miss this super power after all of these years?

On Tuesday I worked in a different building which means I didn't have my
trusty 44oz cup with me. Since Jenny and I were so close in the
hydration challenge I was really motivated to find some water to drink.
After combing the building with a fine tooth comb all I could come up
with was a 12oz cup. I knew this wasn't going to work for me unless I
wanted to make 15 trips to the water fountain so I kept looking.
Finally, I found a 16oz water bottle. Not the optimal solution but it
would have to do. The long and short of it is I had a dismal hydration
day and only logged 86oz of water. I'm not sure what Jenny's total was
but I bet she doubled my intake for the day.

Today I started out the day by filling up my trusty 44oz cup with water
but at the same time I also made a trip to the ATM machine to get money
for Ice Cream on Friday. Yes, I'm admitting defeat to Hydration Woman
which I really hate but I'm also going to be very well hydrated for our
ride on Friday.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cycling Bucket List

The other day I was catching up on my blog reading and ran across a
great post by OhioRider <> in which he
detailed his bucket list of cycling related things he'd like to
accomplish in his life. That got me thinking about what would be on my
cycling bucket list.

So, here is my list of cycling related items I'd like to accomplish
before I hang up the bike for the last time.

Ride with Levi Leipheimer
I've only had one brush with cycling fame in my time as a cyclist. On
my first organized ride I was riding a super heavy mountain bike. Greg
Lemond was also scheduled to ride on the same ride. As I was suffering
up a really long hill probably maintaining blistering speed of at least
8 MPH I turned around and saw Greg pass me like a bolt of lightning. He
was at least nice enough to say "hey, how's it going" as I turned to see
a blur of lycra pass me.

I'm a little faster on a bike now but I'm sure not near fast enough to
keep up with the big boys. I've heard Levi is a real nice guy so I'm
assuming if we ever rode together he'd at least let me hold on to his
wheel for a minute or two before he dropped me.

Be a spectator on a mountain stage of the Tour de France
Every year I watch the enormous crowds on the mountain stages of the
Tour de France and wish I was there. It looks like so much fun to ride
up one of the stages early and camp out waiting for the riders to come
by. Would I dress up with an obnoxious costume and run along side of
the riders as they roll by? No way, but it sure looks like a lot of fun
to be there.

Ride from Seattle down the Pacific Coast to San Francisco
Most people camp on the way down there but if I'm doing this trip I'm
going to sleep in a bed every night. Sleeping bags and I just don't get

Be the oldest rider on an established organized ride
This one won't happen for another 30 years or so but at some point I'd
like to be recognized as the oldest rider on a well established
organized ride and finish at least in the middle of the pack. I'm
really hoping my body holds up long enough to complete this one.

So there you have it. My cycling bucket list. I don't think I'll be
checking any of these off of my list any time soon but they'll be there
when I get to them. Got anything on your list?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Turkey and Gravy Soda?!

As you know yesterday was Earth Day.  On the way home from work I heard a segment on the radio talking about The Jones Soda company and how they took themselves off of the power grid yesterday by powering themselves via bike trainers hooked up to power generators.  Had I known that I would have stopped by during the day to donate some of my spinning power to their cause.  I guess it was just a bad case of timing on my part because they had invited the public to come down and ride with them in order to power their company for the day.  Here were the details.

If you've ever had a Jones Soda before you know they make some pretty odd flavors but most of them are really good.  In fact, during Thanksgiving they put out a turkey and gravy flavored soda.  I haven't been brave enough to try it but I understand it tastes just like the real thing.  

Next Earth Day I'm heading down to Jones Soda to offer up my spinning power for a couple of hours.  I still don't think I'll be participating in the turkey and gravy soda drinking though.  

Even though I missed the Jones Soda spinning challenge I'm determined to not miss out on the century to nowhere ride that is coming up.  I'm even planning on posting a Dan Henry course marker in front of my bike so I don't get lost along the 100 mile course.  If you're participating too feel free to download this picture and place it in front of you.  That is if you're worried about getting lost.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Reconnaissance Trip

I had the day off last Friday so Jenny and I planned a ride in Mt. Vernon because this time of year the tulips fields “should be” in full bloom. For years one of Jenny’s dream rides has been to ride from tulip field to tulip field taking pictures as we rode. We had never done this ride before so this was going to be the year. That is until Friday morning arrived. On Friday morning we awoke to a very steady rain and our youngest child had come down with a cold.

As we weighed our options we decided to drive out to Mt. Vernon anyway to snap some photos. Of course our daughter assured us that she was well enough to go with us but not well enough to go to school. I’m not really sure how that could be but we gave in to her flawed logic.

When we got to Mt. Vernon we realized that the tulips were just starting to bloom so we were a couple of weeks too early if we wanted to get some good photos. Lucky for us the daffodils were in full bloom so we were able to snap some photos. Here are some of my favorites.

Doesn't look very sick does she?
On our way out of town Jenny spotted a road side produce stand she had heard about that also served amazing ice cream cones. Of course we stopped to sample their products. I swear, these cones were at least 2000 calories a piece but very tasty.

While we sat in the parking lot eating our ice cream we discussed some ride possibilities. I guess I've got a one track mind. Here’s the plan.

Drive to Mt Vernon and park at the produce stand parking lot. Ride through the tulip fields heading north up to Bellingham (which is very close to the Canadian border) then head south on Chuckanut drive down the coast. Finally, end the ride at the produce stand and have an ice cream cone as a recovery meal. I’m guessing this route will would be 60 – 70 miles long so the recovery ice cream will be very well deserved by then.

Even though we weren’t able to ride on Friday it was still a great reconnaissance trip for a future ride. We are planning on taking our oldest son with us when we do this route. I’m already looking forward to it.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Yesterday was one of the warmest days of the year so far.  As I sat at my desk at work I notice a cycling buddy of mine heading for the door with a familiar grin on his face.  He stopped to talk to me before he left and rather than ask him where he was going I asked him where he was going to ride.  He told me he was headed up to Bellingham to mountain bike some of his favorite trails.  He also mentioned that he had been watching the weather forecasts all week and planning out just the right time when his favorite trail would be dry enough to ride.  That’s an all too familiar tradition for cyclists around here.  I too had been watching the weather forecasts all week trying to decipher a good riding window.  Yesterday afternoon was the window that we had all been waiting for.  I followed my buddy’s example and also headed for the door.

The temperature yesterday was in the low 60s so I was able to wear my favorite camouflage shorts over my cycling shorts for the first time this year.  Yep, no rain pants for me.  It felt sooooo good to be riding in shorts again.  Although, my legs don’t have the cyclist tan yet they were in heaven.  My calf even got christened with the first chain marking of the year.  I’m not quite sure why I can’t seem to avoid that but yesterday I just didn’t care.  

The local bugs must have been following the weather forecasts too because they were out in droves.  At times it felt like I was being shot by bugs in the face.  Wearing sunglasses on days like this provide protection for your eyes in more ways than one.  A couple even flew into my ear which is quite the weird sensation to say the least.  

I’m currently staring out the window watching it rain again but I have hope that there will be a lot more day like yesterday in the near future.  I have cycling hope!

Ride Stats
Mileage = 31.5 
Elevation Gain = 1154 ft.
Smiles on my face = Countless 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

One Tough Kid

A couple of years ago our family rode in the Seattle Tour de Cure ride
for Diabetes. The ride started out in a pretty good downpour so we
ended up getting sprayed in the face with water from fellow riders for a
good hour. After a while the rain lifted so we were still riding on
damp roads but the road spray declined. About 30 miles into the ride my
oldest son and I were riding alone having a great time when we crested a
hill. On the other side of the hill was a steep descent which ended
abruptly at a T in the road. This T in the road really snuck up on us
and since the roads were still wet we had to hit our brakes hard so as
to not roll into on coming traffic. Since I was in the front I hit my
brakes first and was struggling to come to a stop but was able to make
it. As I was coming to a stop I heard what sounded like metal scraping
on asphalt come up quickly behind me. I turned around to see what it
was and saw my oldest son sliding on the ground heading right for me
still holding onto his bike. Apparently, he had lost control of his
bike on the wet pavement and went down hard. He came to a stop right in
front of me but didn't end up hitting me.

Because this was such a dangerous turn the ride coordinators had placed
a couple of volunteers at the bottom of the hill to advise riders to
slow down. This didn't help my son's cause but did provide an audience
for his grand wipe out. The volunteers quickly ran over and all of us
tried to help him up. At this point I figured that the ride was over
with such an impressive crash but with all of the attention he got up
really quick, dusted himself off and reassured everyone that he was all

We rode out of the sight of the volunteers then pulled over to assess
the damage. He ended up breaking a pedal but not totally off and had a
really good size raspberry on the side of his calf. As he picked the
gravel out of his wound I told him that it was okay if he wanted to
quit. He wasn't having any of that at all. As we rode off he turned to
me and said "THAT WAS AWESOME!!!!" We talked about the awesomeness of
his crash for a long time. I think it the story got better as the ride

He ended up completing the 72 mile ride with a broken pedal and a really
good size scrape on his leg. I think he was hoping for a large bruise
to appear the next day but nothing showed up.

I think back about that ride and am amazed that we could have such a
spectacular crash and still finish with a broken pedal. He's one tough
kid. When I grow up I want to be more like him.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Now That's What I Call a Clean Bike

Last week we had a couple of afternoons that were dry. Honestly, it was hard not to get out for some short rides but instead I opted to wash the cars and mow the lawn. Mowing the lawn was a couple of day process because it was the first mow of the year and the grass was incredibly long. Before you get the impression that I prefer yard work over cycling let me explain. My theory was if I got all of the work I normally try to fit in on Saturday done during the week I would be free to get some serious miles in instead of slaving around the yard.

My plan was going just as planned in fact Jenny and I actually mopped the kitchen together on Friday night to get that out of the way too. As luck would have it on Saturday morning it was rainy so our ride was scrubbed.

Since I had some extra time on my hands I opted to do some much needed bike maintenance instead. Buttsy left me a comment a couple of weeks ago telling me that she cleaned her bike drive train with some kerosene and a paint brush and then followed up by cleaning the rest of her bike with cheap baby wipes. I’ve always just given the chain an occasional wipe down so I was curious to see just how well this would work.

Buttsy was right, the kerosene and paint brush trick cleaned the chain surprising well. In fact, I’m surprised Billy Mays doesn’t try to sell this technique on late night infomercial TV. I think he could be successful with it.

After I cleaned up the drive train I hit the rest of the bike with baby wipes. Again, I was surprised at how well it worked. I was able to get all of the road grime off of the bike very easily and then toss the used wipes in the garbage. Way better than using one of my old t-shirts for bike cleaning. What a genius idea. I only had time to do Jenny’s bike but I don’t think it has been this clean since the day we bought it.

After the cleaning I made some adjustments to Jenny’s brakes and reapplied some oil to her chain. I’m thinking she is good to go at least for a while. Thanks for sharing your bike maintenance tricks with me Buttsy. Anyone else got any great tips you’d like to share? I’m always game for some new tricks.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Great Plan Wasted

Years ago I saw a pair of cycling socks in a bike shop for the first time and thought to myself “that’s got to be just about the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen”. I still think that cycling socks are a huge marketing gimmick but now that I own a bunch of them I have to admit I love them. They are super comfortable and somehow they keep your feet dry while you ride. OK, maybe they aren't as dumb as I thought they were. In my defense, I’ve never paid more than $2 for a pair. In fact, I’ve received most of my cycling socks for free through promos and volunteering at events so that’s how I justify having so many pairs.

Anyway, along the way I’ve acquired at least 4 pairs of Jolley Roger cycling socks. They are just about my favorites. They are grey and black and have a white skull and crossbones on the top of them. They look both intimidating and fast all at the same time. You just can’t go wrong there. Well, one Sunday morning while I was cooking up a batch of The Worlds Best Pancakes I devised the greatest freak out Jenny plan known to man involving these very cycling socks.

Here was the diabolical plan. Right before we left for church the boys and I would all put on a pair of Jolley Roger socks with our regular church clothes. Since these socks are grey and black they would blend right in with our nice clothes and no one would notice. When we got to church the boys and I would sit with our feet on the floor so the skull and crossbones wouldn’t show and Jenny wouldn’t see them. Then at an opportune moment in the meeting I would give a sign to the boys and we would all cross our legs thus showing off our Jolley Rogers socks at the same time.

My thought was that once Jenny saw that all of us were wearing them her eyes would grow to the size of garbage can lids and her face would turn bright red with embarrassment. I was super excited about this plan because I was sure that this stunt would become famous in our family as the day that Jenny passed out at Church.

As I told the boys about my grand plans they both shook their heads in disgust. Both of them said “Dad, you want to do that in Church? Are you sure that’s OK?” It was like they were trying to talk me down from the ledge or something and they are both teenagers!

After making another failed attempt at talking them into my grand plan I scrubbed the launch of my devious plot. I guess this plan goes on the pile of great ideas never executed. I still think it would have been great though. I think Jenny is grateful for rational kids.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Book Review - Inside the Postal Bus by Michael Barry

A couple of weeks ago I checked out "Inside the Postal bus" written by
Michael Barry from the library before my trip to California. Michael
Barry is a professional cyclist who was a team member on the 2004 US
Postal Service team with George Hincappe, Floyd Landis and some guy with
the last name of Armstrong. His first name escapes me for some reason.

Being a big fan of professional cycling this book really held my
attention. Basically, it chronicled the 2004 cycling season from the
first team meetings through the season finale and everything in between.
Here are some things that I learned while reading this book that I
thought were interesting.

If you have team mates from Europe it's not uncommon for them to answer
the door to their hotel in their underwear or nothing at all. This was
quite a surprise for Michael Barry's wife on occasion.

Because every team is comprised of riders from all over the world,
communication is often a problem. The US Postal team mainly
communicated in English. There were a few riders that didn't know
English at all so they had to pick it up from their teammates. The
order they learned English was 1. Swear words 2. Racing terms 3.
Everything else.

The US Postal team hated staying in France during races. This is
because the hotels were typically very small. In a couple of the rooms
Michael Barry could actually touch both walls of his room by holding out
his arms. They also didn't like the food because the restaurants they
ate in were typically unsanitary. Whenever possible they would stay in
Spain because the accommodations were better and the restaurants were
much cleaner.

Leading up to the Tour de France there is intense competition among the
team to make the squad selected for the Tour. The only consolation for
not making the TdF squad is getting 3 weeks off because there aren't any
other races scheduled during this time.

Floyd Landis has an incredible knowledge of pop culture if it's after
1998. He doesn't know about much pop culture before then because he
grew up in a Mennonite household.

I thought this book was very well written and I highly recommend it if
you're interested in cycling. It was written in 2005 so you might not
be able to find it at your local book store but chances are it will be
available at your local library. Honestly, I don't know much about the
Dewey Decimal System but I found this book at our library under (796.62
BARRY). Maybe LizzyLou could school us on if this number would be
consistent with your library.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Friday Ride

Last week it rained consistently from Sunday through Thursday. But on Friday the rain let up so after the roads had some time to dry out I made a break for it to take a solo ride. I live on a small hill so when I start rides from my house I get to descend a great hill for a quarter mile which is really nice. Then I immediately start climbing a mile long hill to get to where I’m going. Climbing this hill without any sort of a warm up always induces the “I’m going to throw up” feeling by the time I get to the top. It doesn’t matter what my fitness level is I always get it. Luckily, it’s never come to fruition.

I decided to vary my usual route a little so I added a section of a longer route that I haven’t ridden for a while. Even though it was cold enough that I had to wear a jacket, rain pants and warm gloves it felt great to be outside riding again. When you ride inside on a trainer without doing many real outside rides it gives you a false sense that you are doing some good training. It’s always interesting to go for a real ride to see what you’ve got to work on. I’ve definitely increased my aerobic ability through doing my trainer rides but my legs just weren’t where I wanted them to be.

So the long and short of it is I need to add squats back to my training routine. I’m not a big fan of squats but they seem to give me the strength to master those hills. If you’ve got some good leg strength exercises that don’t include squats I’d love to hear them.

There were a lot of signs of mother natures rain wrath as I rode along. Most of the yards had water still pouring off of them down the street because at this time of the year the ground just can’t handle any more water. As I approached one street I encountered a small river that had formed across a street. The newly formed street river was only a couple of inches deep but as I pulled up a four wheel drive drove through it at full speed thus spraying a wave of water at least 4 feet high. Did I mention this was on a very rural road which was mainly driven by 4 wheel drive trucks with the number 3 painted on the back of them? Lucky for me I hadn't crossed the river yet. I decided I would have to tactically time my crossing when I was sure there wouldn’t be any 4X4's crossing at the same time. I’m sure I would have been a dream water target if I hadn’t timed my water crossing just right.

Ride Summary:
Had a great ride with plenty of energy left in the tank at the end.
Need to work on leg strength because some hills were harder than I wanted them to be.
Worked on fine tuning the fit of my bike while I was out and finally got the seat height and position right.
Still messing around with the barrel adjusters because my bike seems to have a mind of it’s own in some gears. Very frustrating.
Mileage - 51 Miles
Elevation Gain – 2348 feet

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I'm All In

After a couple of days of debating whether to do the Century to Nowhere I’ve decided that I’m all in.  This week it has rained so long and hard that I think some of my neighbors have seriously contemplated building arcs in their yards.  Lucky for me our homeowners association would freak out if anyone started boat construction.  I think that would be the one and only time I’ve ever appreciated our homeowners association.  My point is since I’ve decided to do this trainer torture ride I’ve had a new motivation to train harder on the trainer even though it’s raining outside and generally very gloomy.  So, I’m really liking this new sense of motivation.  

As part of the plans that I laid out for this ride I included a trip to the local taco truck as a recovery meal.  These tacos are the perfect recovery food because the taco truck in our fair city has the best tacos that I’ve ever eaten.    

Today we made a trip to the taco truck for lunch it was delicious and cultural all at the same time.  

Here’s a shot of the back of the truck.  All of the cooking is done right on the truck.  

As you walk around to the side of the truck to order the following menu is there to greet you.  As you can see the menu is in Spanish but lucky for me it’s also in English.  I always order the Asada (Beef) tacos but there are also a variety of other options which include Beef Tongue, Beef Head, Goat, and the others that I’m a little too scared to ask what they are.  If you can make them out I’d love some help in the translation.  I actually tried Tongue one day.  It wasn’t too bad but not really my speed.  

As you approach the window to order they mainly speak Spanish but they are nice enough to speak English with us without even rolling their eyes.  Our usual order is 3 beef tacos.  You can also choose a Mexican soda from the cooler bin.  Here’s a shot of the selection.  They have the weirdest selection of sodas that I’ve ever seen.  Some are pretty good but some not so much.

Finally, our order was ready so we headed into the fine dining area which consists of a Plexiglas shed that is filled with park benches and for extra comfort has some propane heaters on either side of the shed.  Oh the amenities!  Here’s a shot of the tacos.  As you can see three fit perfectly on a plate.  They come cooked in onions and are topped with cilantro, radishes and a jalapeƱo.  

If this doesn’t put the energy back in your legs after a long ride I don’t know what will.  I’ll be thinking about these tacos for the entire 6 hours of trainer torture.  Motivation comes in all sizes and shapes.