Thursday, May 28, 2009

Photo of the Week

This weeks photo is of a ride Jenny and I took on Monday. As I was standing at an intersection waiting for a light to turn green I noticed my reflection in the cross walk button. It actually looked quite slimming so I decided to snap a photo of it. Have a great weekend and enjoy your ride where ever you go!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New Group Ride

A couple of weeks ago when I went on a ride with the Mayor I met a cyclist who invited me out to a weekly Tuesday night group ride that Stanwood Velo Sport bike shop sponsors. I haven’t done many group rides before so I was interested in giving it a shot.

Kicked out of the house
When I got off work on Tuesday afternoon I was having my doubts about going on this ride because I’ve never been comfortable with just showing up to any group function not knowing anyone and trying to somehow fit in. This is where being married for a long time really pays off. When I told Jenny I was having my doubts about going on the ride she told me it wasn’t an option and at 4:45 she was going to kick me out of the house with my bike and lock the doors. There you go, my mind was made up, I was going on the ride after all whether I liked it or not. Jenny even went so far as to sneak out to the garage and put my bike on the back of the car when I wasn’t looking. What a great wife. I bet the rest of you guys out there are jealous now aren’t you?

Kicked to the curb
When I got to the bike shop there were a number of cars already in the parking lot and people were milling around in their spandex. I spotted the cyclist who originally invited me to the ride and reintroduced myself to him. When I asked him how the ride worked he told me there were three groups going out (fast, medium, and slow) and that being that it was my first time I should go with the slow group. I inquired about the medium ride and he asked how much riding I did. I told him that I did a fair amount of riding and I thought I could keep up with the medium group. He then went into an unabridged monologue about how much riding he had done in the last week. It sounded a little something like this “Last Saturday I rode 70 miles and then the next day a buddy called and we rode 80 more and the next day, blah, blah, blah…..”. After a minute of listening to him it started sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher talking to him. At that point I was convinced that I would do the slower ride just because I didn’t want to hear any more of the monologue. I’m still convinced that I could have put the hurt on the medium group or at least hung with them but that will have to wait for another week.

Will someone please be my friend?
Now that I wasn’t riding with the one guy that I sort of knew I was in search of a new set of cycling buddies. I scanned the crowd of cyclists trying to figure out which group was the slow group. After eavesdropping on some conversations I figured it out and made my way over for some introductions. As I wandered up and introduced myself everyone in the group seemed happy to have another rider with them and went out of their way to make me feel welcome. What a relief! There was a definite theme to the group as at least half of the riders were either from England or Scotland. As I was standing there getting to know everyone a neighbor of mine pulled up and got out of his car. I had briefly met him before but he didn’t remember me so this was also going to be a great opportunity to get to know him. He also fit into the group very well because he is from England as well.

Bridging the gap
As we headed out I fit myself in toward the rear of the group because I wasn’t sure what to expect. After a mile or so I could see that there was a group of three riders that had gone off the front quite a ways so I decided to catch up with them. I thought it would easy to bridge the gap between the groups but that proved to be more of a challenge than I expected. It took me a good 5 miles or so of averaging 22 mph before I could catch up with them. So much for them being part of the slow group. Just as I caught up with them 2 of the 3 riders decided to head back to the other group and ride with them. Since I was feeling pretty cooked by then I elected to stay with the lone rider in the front for a while.

Riding with Don

As the two of us rode along we headed into a pretty terrible head wind but I didn’t mind because we were able to ride side by side and visit. We talked about our kids and where each of us worked. It was really nice. After a while we came to a parking lot which was a traditional regrouping spot and Don waited with me until the rest of the group caught up with us. Once they were all there Don headed off to his home and the rest of us finished up the ride. I was able to ride with the shop owner for the remainder of the ride and we swapped stories about our bikes and what we liked and didn’t like.

When it was all said and done I was really glad I chose to ride with the group that I rode with the other night. Cycling isn’t always about how fast or far you can ride because after all the best rider is the one with the biggest smile on their face. I'm really hoping Jenny kicks me out of the house next week too.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Your Very Own Giro D'Italia Celebration

One of the blogs that I regularly read is Dug.  His blog talks about cycling quite a bit but also touches on some strange subjects such as the reason he put candy under his pillow when he was a kid and his opinion of the bathrooms in the office where he works.  One of the things he has talked about on his blog is his love for Gelato.  I had never heard of Gelato before so I had to give it a try.  

For those of you who have never heard of Gelato it's an Italian word which means "frozen", but basically used to indicate an Italian type of ice cream.  I know this because I looked it up in Wikipedia so it must be true.  Gelato isn't as creamy as American ice cream but certainly makes up for it in flavor.  Most of the flavors include fresh fruit or other fresh ingredients which in my opinion is way better than your run of the mill generic vanilla you'll find in your local grocery store.   

I did a little research and found out that you can't get Gelato in our city but there were plenty of Gelato places located in Seattle.  When Jenny and I were in Seattle a couple of weeks ago we decided to do some sampling to see what this Gelato thing was all about.  

All of the Gelato that we tried (and we tried a lot) was really good but varied from store to store.  Here are the samples.  

Raspberry in a waffle bowl

Vanilla Bean and Hazel Nut Chocolate 
Raspberry and Coconut in a super fancy bowl

My favorite by far was the scoop of raspberry and coconut in the same bowl.  If you take a little bit of each scoop in the same spoonful it made the perfect combination.  Yummmmm!  

So in honor of the Giro D'Italia you should find some Gelato in your town and do some celebrating of your own.  Trust me, you'll love it.  

Saturday, May 23, 2009

100 Miles to Nowhere - Live Blog

5:00 am - Jenny and I got up and got ready for the big ride, had to wake my oldest son up who fell asleep on the couch. He eagerly went up stairs for some more sleep.

5:40 - Started the first episode of 24 and climbed on the bikes.

The Ride Begins

6:50 - First hour went well, amazing how just an hour on a trainer seems so short when you know you've got 5 or 6 total.   I tried the powder drink mix that fatty provided.  Didn't like it too much because I'm such a creature of habit.  I'm switching to gatorade.  We're enjoying 24 so far.  Jack is having a really bad day at work!  Logged 18 miles the first hour, trying to take it easy but having a hard time riding slower.  I usually average 20 - 22 when I ride on the trainer.  Tough to pace yourself but giving it a shot.  Gotta climb back on the bike!

8:10 - second hour was a little tougher but rode a little faster.  Gatorade was a lot better.  polished off two bottles last hour no problem.  Of course I threw them across the room like a pro discarding his water bottles would.  Felt kind of good.  Jenny is hanging in there as well.  sitting at 37 miles right now.  
       ~Hi, Jenny here. Shot blocks and gatorade are really sweet this early in the morning. But since my mouth felt so dry even after tons of water I figured it would be good to drink some gatorade and replace some of those electrolytes. I've never ridden two hours on the trainer before, but it must be a mind set because I'm okay. It's possible that I'm also taking it too easy. My cadence is high but the gear isn't too hard. I don't know how those guys do it with no resistance, wouldn't you just feel like you're spinning out of control?

After 2 Hours (Still Smiling)
9:25 - OK, it's getting tougher.  Kept pace at 20 for most of the hour, now at 57 Miles.  Rear end is starting to feel it but other than that feeling OK.  Tried the Pro Bar that was in the fatty package.  It was awesome, the best energy bar I've ever had.  Need to get back at it.  I'm starting to sweat all over the keyboard.  I know TMI....

10:40 - Even tougher yet.  Still have plenty in the tank but the legs and rear end are starting to really feel it.  Every century I've ever ridden at mile 70 it quits being about fitness and turns into a battle of determination.  I'm to that point now.  Determination is going to win.  I'm at mile 77 so after this rest break I'm just going to finish up.  Here we go!

11:58 - Finished!  Now I can say I've ridden a century on a trainer.  Not sure if I ever want to do that again but it's done.  

Mike takes the win in the Marysville Division
My parents bet each other on whether I could actually do this or not.  All I have to say is Dad you owe Mom a big fat dollar.  

Ride Time 5:08.  

Here's my route from the GPS.  Funny, I thought I was riding in the same location but I gues the GPS had other ideas.  

Friday, May 22, 2009

Photo of the Week

Note from Mike:  I received my Century to No Where package in the mail yesterday so I'm set to go on Saturday.  My parents have even bet each other $1 dollar on whether I can do it or not.  Now I'm extra motivated to prove that I can do it because I don't think either one of them think I can.

Last Friday I posted a couple of photos with the intent of providing some moments of escapism while people were at work.  I received a number of comments with peoples interpretation of the second photo which was a bike laying on the side of a heavily wooded road.  Most people thought it looked like a bike that had been abandoned by a rider looking for an emergency rest stop (if you know what I mean).  I thought peoples interpretations were great so I named that photo "Unscheduled Emergency"

So for the next couple of Friday's I thought I'd post a "Photo of the Week" and let everyone use their imagination on giving it a title/caption/interpretation.  So this is your chance to dust off your creativity and give a photo the funniest, whackiest, most profound title/caption/interpretation imaginable.  Don't be shy, I won't be offended.

The Weeks Photo

Last week Jenny and I went for a training ride and at the first rest stop I was the first to go into the convenience store to use the restroom.  When I came out Jenny looked pretty relaxed sitting in between the bikes so I took a picture.  I thought it was kind of weird that I was able to walk right up and take it because she didn't even move.  When I started talking to her it startled her because she had fallen into a deep sleep in the 2 minutes while I was in the store.  Now that's what I call a rest stop.  That's what is actually happening in the picture but now it's ready for your caption, title or interpretation.  Go for it and have a great Friday!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

C2NW Update

As many of you know the century to no where is scheduled for this Saturday. When I signed up for this event I had all of the details planned out down to the number of breaks to take but just like everything else a couple of things have changed since then.

Start Time
I had originally planned on sleeping in a little since it is Saturday and starting some time around 8. Last Sunday I was asked to speak at a Baptism for some great kids that I taught a Sunday School class to years ago. This meeting is at 2PM on Saturday. So, my plans of sleeping have been flushed. The new plan is to get up between 5 and 5:30 (depending on my motivation) have a bowl of granola then climb on the bike. I'm hoping to get started no later than 6:00. Getting up at 5 on a Saturday isn't my idea of fun but this will give me enough time to finish up my ride in plenty of time for the Baptism.

I had originally planned on watching a couple of movies and some other DVDs during my ride but now I'm leaning more toward renting a TV series that I've never seen before. Of course this would be after watching the daily stage of the Giro D'Italia (can't miss that). Since I'm not much of a TV watcher there are a lot of TV shows I've never seen that could be interesting. Here are some that I've heard of but never seen: Lost, 24, ER, Band of Brothers and the list goes on. Since I've only heard of these shows I'm not sure which ones are good. This is where you come in. I need a recommendation of a good TV series that would hold my attention while pounding through some major trainer miles. Know of any good ones? No Mr. Ed or the Barnaby Jones won't cut it this time as my sanity could seriously hinge on this.

One of the items that you get for participating in this event is a tube of DZNuts chamois crème. If you've done much cycling you know that chamois crème is one of the essentials to a comfortable ride. As of yesterday I haven't received my ride package in the mail yet which isn't a big deal except for the chamois crème because we are running SERIOUSLY low on our supply. If the DZNuts doesn't come by Friday I'll be making a trip to the LBS for my own supply. Friction really isn't my friend.

Live Blogging
Since I will be doing this ride in the house I plan on setting up my laptop on the table next to the bike. That way I can provide live updates of just how nuts and painful this event turns out to be. I'm thinking that the first couple of hours won't be a problem but after that I'm really not sure what to expect. If you're interested in what it's like to ride a trainer for 100 miles tune in on Saturday morning to live the torture with me. I might even do some typing as I ride along but we'll see. If my updates get really strange and incoherent you'll know that 100 miles on a trainer just isn't healthy.

I'm actually pretty darn excited to do this ride as I'm sure many of you are as well. Bring on the adventure!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Getting Me Cycle Geek On

In the past I've written about my favorite riding shorts and how I'm really attached to them. In fact, I almost always wear them over my cycling shorts because they are just so darn comfortable.  I know, I know, how can you be a true cyclist without proudly wearing geeky cycling shorts?  Here's a shot of me sporting my favorite camo's. Don't they look comfortable?  Do you see the quandary I'm in?

Lately, I've felt the need to get rid of the camo's for rides longer than 15 miles and "get my cycling geek on" by wearing my cycling shorts with pride. I am a cyclist after all. I own 3 bikes, use bike bottles for around the house chores, love cycling jerseys and wish all shirts had pockets in the back, when I'm not cycling, I read about other people cycling, and I write a blog about cycling. OK, I am a cyclist so I should probably look like one right? So last Friday when Jenny and I went for a training ride, I left the camo's at home and sported the full cycling look. For the friends and family who read this blog who aren't into cycling you might want to shield your eyes before you scroll down the page. Here's a picture from Friday.

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I must admit it wasn't that bad at all. In fact, it was actually quite nice to just wear the cycling shorts while we were out. Jenny on the other hand was having a harder time with them than I was. I guess she has stared at the camo shorts for longer than I have. While we were taking turns pulling she commented that she was having a hard time getting used to the idea of me wearing just the cycling shorts, but would eventually get used to it. Wait a minute here, I thought I was the one that had the issues here! I guess Jenny needs some time to get used to them too.

Well, this season one of my goals is to get rid of the camo's and wear cycling shorts. I swear they ought to have some kind of class for letting your inner cyclist out because I could really use some pointers.  I think I can do it, but you can count me out on the whole shave your legs thing.  It's not going to happen!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bike to Work Day with Mayor Kendall

As you know Friday was National Bike to Work day.  I had the day off so I didn't see a need to ride my bike to work.  

The City of Marysville has a small celebration ride every year to commemorate Bike to Work Day which I've never done so I thought I'd give it a try.  I left the house at 7:15 and rode down to the library where the ride was to start.  When I arrived there were 3 police cars and about 20 cyclists in the parking lot.  I thought to myself this must be either the makings of a standoff (Spandex and Lycra Gang vs. The Cops) or the ride must have a police escort.  As I got a little closer I noticed that the Mayor of Marysville was in the parking lot and he was on a bike too. This confirmed my suspicion that we would have a police escort for the ride but didn't erase the vision in my head of the geeky cyclist taking on the police.  I'm kind of thinking that just one of the police officers could have taken all of us while simultaneously eating a donut but we would have certainly out ridden him if he was on a bike.

As I hung out in the parking lot I chit chatted with a few fellow cyclist for a minute or two.  It's really not that hard to start up a conversation with a cyclist, all you have to do is ask them about some aspect of their bike and then just step back.  My tactic this time was "what do you think of your Speedplay pedals"?  That is all I had to say and the conversation took off from there.  After a few minutes of pedal opinions we were interrupted by the Mayor who wandered over to shake some hands.  He introduced himself as Mayor Kendall and we spoke for at least 5 seconds.  I guess he didn't have an opinion about pedals.   

After a few minutes the Mayor gave a short speech, mounted his bike and we were off.  The Mayor was leading the ride and since he didn't want to drop any of his fellow townspeople he really took it easy on us.  I'm thinking the average speed was all of 10 MPH.  At every turn we had police blocking off traffic so we were able to ride like we owned the road.  Here's a shot of the ride after we had abandoned the bike lanes and basically took over the road.

As we neared our final destination the only obstacle left was a 4 way stop.  For some reason we didn't have a police escort at the intersection but not to worry the Mayor blew right through it like it wasn't there.  He didn't even attempt the slow and go technique that I've been working on for years; it was simply the go technique.  I was both impressed and scared all at the same time.

Our final destination was Comford Park where they had a Bike to Work rest station set up stocked with Clif Bars and other goodies to give away.  I ended up coming home with yet another bike bottle for our ever growing collection which I still don't think is big enough.

In summary, the ride was all of 1 mile but it was kind of fun getting out and riding with the community and running stop signs with the Mayor.  Not everyone can say they've done that before.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Photo(s) of the Day

Wade at Cycletips posted a simple picture on his blog one day this week to provide a nice couple of minutes of escapism for his readers. I thought this was a great concept. He was nice enough to post one of my pictures later in the week. I thought I'd follow up by posting a simple picture (OK maybe two) for some Friday escapism for your day at work. Happy Bike to Work Day!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

36 Miles in One Day!

The other day I was thinking about one of my first "long distance rides"
years ago and how things have changed since then. I thought I'd share
it with you because it still kind of cracks me up.

Back in 2003 Jenny's sister was in town and they decided to spend the
day in Seattle with the kids doing the tourist thing. Since Jenny
wanted to hang out with her sister I got the pass not to go with them.
With everyone gone I packed up my Costco mountain bike complete with
full knobby tires on the bike rack and headed to the centennial trail.
I think this bike weighed 3 times what my current bike weighs but it
sure was steady in wind storms. In the past I had ridden this trail on
family bike rides but the farthest we ever got was 3 or 4 miles up the
trail before heading back to the car. Of course back then I would pull
a bike trailer full of kids who didn't know how to ride a bike.

This time was going to be different though. There were no kids to pull
and no time constraints so I was going to find out just how long this
trail really was and where it ended up. I was totally prepared for
whatever would came my way because I packed a fanny pack chalk full of
one entire water bottle! Yep, that was it and away I went no spare
tube, pump, or food, I was ready to go.

As I rode along I was having a heck of a good time because I was heading
into the great unknown. This trail could have gone all the way to
Oregon for all I knew. As I was riding along I could see in my mirror
(it was a big fat bulky one) another rider who was slowly approaching
me. We were heading up a slight incline and no matter how hard I
pedaled he kept gaining on me. Eventually, he passed me and I shook my
head in disgust. How could a road bike pass me going up a hill? I was
on a mountain bike for heaven sakes shouldn't I be faster on hills? I'm
normally not much of a competitive guy but that day I found out that
getting passed brings out the competition in me. It was like someone
was challenging me to a dual or something.

I ended up making it to the end of the trail which happened to be in
Snohomish. As I looked at my speedometer it said 18 miles which was a
personal best and I still had to ride back to the car. I celebrated by
sitting down on a bench, digging in my fanny pack and drinking my one
bottle of water which of course I hadn't touched yet. After I polished
off the bottle of water I headed back feeling fully hydrated. On the
way back I spotted another cyclist up ahead of me and I was bound and
determined that I was going to pass him. I put my legs in overdrive and
spun those knobby tires as fast as they would go until I crept up and
slowly passed him. I have to admit I felt quite a sense of satisfaction
to have passed him even if it was really slow. What I didn't realize is
he would be following me for the rest of the way so if I didn't want him
passing me back I would have to maintain the same blazing speed. I'm
sure my blazing speed was all of 14 MPH but having never ridden that far
before and lugging a heavy mountain bike equipped with knobby tires I
was really hitting my personal red line for cycling.

There was no way I was going to be passed though so I pushed it for the
rest of the trip back to the car. As I arrived I couldn't believe I had
just ridden 36 miles. At the time it seemed like I had ridden the
equivalent of a marathon and as I hopped in the car I wondered what all
of the white powdery crystals were that were all over my face. They
even had a salty taste to them.

On the way home I picked up a salad at the store to eat for lunch
because since I had ridden so far I must have turned over a new healthy
guy leaf. When I got home I polished off the salad in no time flat and
then began to eat everything else in site that I could get my hands on.
I had a hunger that just wouldn't quit and to make matters worse I was
super thirsty. Wasn't one water bottle good enough for a 36 mile ride?

Over the years I've learned a lot about cycling that I didn't know then.
I still occasionally ride the centennial trail but that 36 miles doesn't
seem nearly long enough these days. I bring a lot more things with me
like a spare tube and I actually drink which I'm riding. I even
occasionally let people pass without it bothering me (occasionally).
Even though things are a little different today it's hard to match the
feeling of accomplishment I felt that day. 36 miles in one day!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Giro d'Italia

Last week when I heard that the Giro d'Italia wasn't going to be televised I was severely disappointed.  I had figured that there is so much cycling on TV these days that Versus or another network would surely pick it up.  Since I didn't have enough time to get a good ride in on Saturday I opted for a trainer ride instead.  As I flipped through the channels while I was riding I noticed that there was a cycling event televised.  Bonus!  It's always easier to ride on the trainer when cycling is on.  For some reason I'm motivated to push harder on the trainer when I watch others REALLY beat themselves up on the bike.  

I had figured that this event was a replay of the Tour of the Basque Country that was on last month but to my surprise it was the Giro d'Italia.  I could almost hear the halleluiah chorus singing in the background as I watched.  So, for those of you in the US the Giro is
televised on Universal Sports.    If you're into watching cycling on TV (which you really should be) you should check to see if Universal Sports is available in your area.  

There are some advantages and disadvantages to the coverage.  The major advantage that I noticed is that Craig Hummer isn't one of the announcers.  I know you're probably breathing a sigh of relief too.  The disadvantages are no Paul Sherwin, Phil Ligget, or Bob Roll.  These days cycling just isn't the same without English accents and a goofy guy who can only talk with his hands.  I've also noticed that Universal Sports is doing their coverage on the cheap because there are no background segments during riding lulls and the interviews after each stage are done by Italian reporters with thick accents.  This really leads me to believe that the announcing is done here in the States in a studio while they watch the same video feed that is broadcast.  

I'm not really worried about any of that because for the next 18 days or so the Giro will be televised which will the perfect addition to the Century to No Where.  I had specific plans of which DVDs to watch during this century but I'm thinking that at least 2 hours of those DVDs will now be replaced by the Giro.  By the way, I'm pulling for Levi in the Giro.  He's been relatively quiet so far but they haven't hit the mountains or time trials yet.  So go to your TV right now and figure out what channel Universal Sports is on.  Go Levi!!!    

Monday, May 11, 2009

Youth Night Cycling Topics

For some reason the people at the church where I attend found out that I know a thing or two about cycling. I’m not really sure how they found out because I’m pretty sure I haven’t worn my cycling cap to church. That might be a good idea though, think of the embarrassment I could inflict on my kids if I were to do that.

Anyway, since I know some things about cycling I was asked to talk to the 10 – 13 year old boys this Wednesday night about cycling at our church. Today I sat down and developed an outline of what I wanted to talk about.

I seriously considered devoting some time to the importance and advantages of Snot Rockets. Just think of the debate I could have with this group of boys on the form and delivery of a proper snot rocket launch. Of course the activity at the end of the night would include a snot rocket launching contest. I’m thinking it would be the funnest and grossest youth night activity of the year. After thinking about this a little longer I decided to scratch the idea from the agenda for the night due to the number of phone calls I’d get from irate parents after the event. I guess I’ll just let them find out about the wonders of a good snot rocket delivery all on their own.

So here’s my agenda for the night.
- The importance of wearing a helmet
- Proper hand signals
- How to fix a flat
- Brake adjustments
- Gear adjustments
- Importance of keeping your chain lubed
- Proper seat height
- Passing etiquette (the use of onyerleft)
- Proper gear selection

OK, now that I look at my list of things to talk about I’m going to have a bunch of bored boys on my hands. I obviously need to spice things up a bit. This is where you come in. Got any ideas of how I could talk to 10 to 13 year old boys about cycling without putting them to sleep and without getting any phone calls from parents?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Famous Seattle Landmark

.Today was our anniversary so I took the day off so I could spend the day with Jenny. I swear it's only been 5 years but Jenny informed me that we have actually been married for 21 years. Who knew. Anyway, Jenny had done a usability study for Microsoft a while back so we took a trip to Redmond to pick up the software that she had earned. Since we were in Redmond we also stopped by the Performance Bike Shop to take a look around. I just can’t be that close to a bike shop without stopping. My mother in law seems to think I have a one track mind. She’s probably right I do have a one track mind and it’s on two wheels.

Anyway, since we were already in the area we drove into Seattle to hang out.

Once we found some parking we walked over to Pike Place Market. If you haven’t been there it’s a very old farmers market with every type of produce imaginable. There’s also a lot of sea food available there as well. Basically, it’s Seattle’s version of Fisherman’s wharf complete with street performers and strange sights.

After wandering around for awhile Jenny took me down a set of stairs to show me something amazing that I had never seen before. Honestly, she was surprised that I had never seen it because it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Seattle. As I got to the bottom of the stairs and rounded the corner the sight took my breath away. What an amazing sight. How could I have lived by Seattle for so long and not seen this? But, wait this attraction could be in any city and I’m thinking should be in every city. Here is a shot of what I saw.

At first glance it looks like an incredible piece of popular art that could only be seen in a funky metropolitan art gallery. If this were the case misunderstood artists would probably gather around to analyze the meaning of the different color patterns. Yep, it’s that cool and hip. But….. if you stand back from it becomes abundantly clear what it really is.

It’s the Famous Seattle Gum wall! So here’s the scoop. The gum wall is located next to a theater. One of the policies of the theater is that no gum is allowed to be chewed by their patrons so people while standing in line to enter the theater would have to find a place to put their gum. Naturally, some teenagers started putting their gum on the wall before entering. The theater cleaned the wall repeatedly but at some point they just gave up and thus it became the famous Seattle Gum Wall. I wasn’t chewing gum at the time but if I had been I certainly would have added to the art. From what I understand this wall has been in existence for many years and people from all over the world have added gum to it. They say one man’s trash is another man’s art. I think this is really taking it to the extreme. Welcome to Seattle.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Now that cycling season is in full swing my rides are starting to get
longer and longer which has me grinning from ear to ear. Honestly, I've
been waiting for these rides for the last 6 months. These longer rides
require the intake of calories in order maintain your energy. As I was
packing my bike with goodies for my last ride I noticed that I had quite
the assortment of food in my bag. Some of them I really like and other
items we have just acquired one way or another but they aren't my
favorites. Here's my take on some of the cycling food that I've packed
with me over the years.  

One of the big advantages of these bars are they are moldable into just
about any shape. Only have room for a powerbar in between your spare
tube and tire levers? Simply wrap your power bar around your tire
levers and your good to go. I seriously think Stretch Armstrong's were
filled with this substance in the late 70s. Yep, they are that
moldable. Have you ever worked out and woke up the next day swearing
that you have sore muscles you didn't even know you had. When I eat
powerbars muscles ache in my head I didn't even know I had. It's quite
the workout just get one of these down. On the bright side the cookies
and cream, chocolate, and peanut butter bars are pretty darn tasty and
if you're strong enough to get one down they will keep you going for a
couple hours. Warning, stay away from the vanilla flavored powerbars.
I'm not quite sure what the flavor of the vanilla bars are but they
certainly aren't vanilla.

These are as essential to pack on a long trip as a spare tube. I try to
keep a gel in my seat bag at all times just in case I run out of gas.
I'm not sure what is in a gel but they are the elixir of cycling life.
I've been out in the middle of nowhere on a ride feeling really run down
and once I power one of these gels down I feel good as new. They are a
great emergency energy boost. The only disadvantage to gels are the
mess. For some reason I just can't eat one without getting stickiness
on my fingers. Maybe it's something I never got over as a kid. Also,
if you put the empty wrapper in your bag it tends to make other things
sticky. The good thing about a gel is they taste like pudding in a
small pouch. You just can't go wrong there. I could eat these things
by the handful but I limit myself to one because they are expensive.

Shot blocks
My first couple of attempts at eating shot blocks were not a good
experience. We had received some free shot blocks at a bike expo but
the flavors were lemon lime and orange. Now I know why they were free
because both of these flavors were nasty. I had a hard time even
getting down one block of each of these flavors. That was last year and
I swore that shot blocks weren't for me. Last week I tried strawberry
shot blocks fully expecting to have a hard time getting through one
block but to my surprise they were really good. In fact, strawberry
shot blocks taste just like a big bite of jam. Bonus! I liked them so
much I polished off the entire bag at one rest stop. I would have eaten
more if I had packed more. I did resist digging into Jenny's shot
blocks but it was a struggle.

Cliff Bars
For some reason I haven't had many of these bars before but the ones
that I've had are really good. They are like eating a healthy cookie if
there is such a thing. I really need to get more of these.

Homemade Energy Bars
I've seen recipes for these floating around but I've never tried one
out. I'm kind of intrigued by them just because I don't like paying for
energy bars. If you know of a recipe that is the best thing since
integrated shifters I'd love to try it out. Please share.

Vitamin I
I know this isn't an energy bar but a couple of Ibuprofen have really
saved me from a painful ride home in the past. I always carry them in
my bag. Vitamin I, don't leave home without them.

Over the next couple of months I plan on consuming "in moderation" a lot
of the items above. If you see me on the side of the road munching away
be sure to stop. I'll dig through my bag and find something for you.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Training Ride Lessons Learned

Last Friday I had the day off and the weather was great so Jenny, my oldest son and I went for a ride. Since we have a big ride coming up and we are in dire need of some training miles we offered to let out oldest son take the day off of school. He thought about the option for at least half a second before he agreed. As with most training rides I learned some things that I can use one future rides. Here are the things and I learned.

If you map out a 62 mile route make sure you follow your plan.
Before our ride I mapped out the route and downloaded it to my Garmin. A couple of miles into the ride I took a wrong turn and we ended up following the route backwards. About 20 miles into the ride I realized the error of my ways so we had to make a course correction which ended up adding some miles onto the route. By the end of the ride my 62 mile route turned into a 70 mile route. Not a really big deal but something to learn for next time.

If you feel something moving in you helmet take your helmet off immediately. 
At our first rest stop I was filling up my water bottles in a sink at a convenience store and I felt something moving inside my helmet. I dug around in my helmet with my finger and I couldn’t find anything so I wrote it off as maybe some sweat rolling down my forehead. I finished up filling my bottles and walked out of the store. When we got out of the store I still felt something moving around in my helmet again. When I took it off this is what I found.

Personally, I don’t like freeloading bees. I think they should fly on their own power so I gave him a good flick and off he went. OK not really, he made me mad so I squashed the little bugger. Don’t tell my youngest daughter though because this could traumatize her.

If Jenny has a camera in her jersey and starts riding slower than every one else it doesn’t mean that she’s getting tired.
On more than a couple of occasions I looked over my shoulder as we were flying down the road and Jenny was lagging really far behind my son and I. It wasn’t until we got home and I looked at the scads of pictures she had taken that I realized she was riding at the back snapping tons of pictures of everything in sight. I like taking pictures when I ride but I think she took this to a new level. I’m thinking the term training ride means something completely different to Jenny and I. Another good lesson learned.

Not all dogs bite
At the last convenience store we stopped at there were 5 or 6 other cyclists hanging out in the parking lot. As I went into the store and asked the clerk if I could fill up my water bottles the guy behind the counter told me that I could fill up my bottles in the hose outside of the store but to beware of the Chow Dog laying by the hose. He told me this without even looking up from his newspaper. I think his exact words were “he doesn’t look like he’s a biter but I would be careful if I were you”. Dogs and I don’t exactly get along so I decided to forgo filling up my bottles. When I told Jenny about this cautionary tale of woe she being the brave one in the family walked right up the hose and filled up all of our bottles. The dog looked up at Jenny but other than that didn’t even move a muscle. I guess that dog knew that he was no match for the likes of Jenny. I don’t blame him.

Ice cream is my new recovery meal of choice
At the end of our 70 mile adventure we stood in line at Snowgoose Produce to get one of their ginormous waffle cone ice cream scoops. Seriously, ice cream has never tasted so good before. I got the fudgy wudgy which was a little uncomfortable to say when I placed my order but it was like a trip to heaven after 70 miles in the saddle. I’m thinking ice cream is now my favorite recovery meal.

I wonder what I’ll discover on our next training ride. You just never know.

Total Mileage = 70
Wrong turns made = 1
Miles added to original route = 8
Animals spotted = bald eagles, cows, buffalos, dogs, coyotes, sheep, and one vicious Chow Dog who was scared of Jenny.
School days skipped = 1