Friday, July 31, 2009

Runaway Inflation

One of my favorite things to do when I'm not out riding my bike is make a trip to Mecca for an ultra cheap Coke. I stop by for a ice cold refreshing beverage a couple of times a week and usually take at least one member of the family. It's become a father and kid bonding event all for the low low price of 50 cents. Well, the other day as we approached our favorite Coke machines I saw a sign that rocked my world.

That's right, the price of a Coke is going up from .25 to .40. For those of you scoring at home that's a 60% increase. Could this be an early indicator of run away inflation? Probably not but gone are the days of searching through the car or couch for a simple quarter. Now I've got to also look for a dime and a nickel in addition to the quarter. What's the world coming to? Well, the price change doesn't take effect until Monday so you can bet I'm planning on making a couple of last minute trips to Mecca this weekend.

Oh the humanity!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cycling in Hot Weather?

This week a heat wave has landed in the Seattle area.  Probably not a heat wave in terms of where you live but it's a heat wave for Seattle.  The weather forecast is calling for highs in the mid to upper 90's which is fairly comfortable unless you don't have air conditioning then it's just downright unbearable.  Where we live NO ONE has air conditioning including me.  As I write this post it's almost 10 at night and it's still 88 degrees in our house.  Well, enough whining I'm sure it's hotter where you live unless you're in Australia. 


This heat wave has thrown me out of my cycling comfort zone.  I've got the temperate cycling adventure down to a science where you start with a light jacket then shed it half way through your ride tucking it neatly in your middle jersey pocket.  I've actually employed this technique in the month of July already.  I'm also equipped for rainy bike rides in all seasons because that could happen any day of the year here.  My problem stems from the hot weather cycling.  I think I'm in need of a hot weather remedial cycling class or something.  


So here's the dilemma.  Tomorrow night I'm planning on going on a great group ride that I'm really excited about but the temperature will be hovering around 90 when the ride starts.  My fear is as I ride I could actually melt like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz.  Of course, I would call out "I'm melting, I'm melting" before I expire and drop off the back of the pace line.  Being that I don't have much hot weather cycling experience I've hatched a pretty lame plan to deal with the heat but it's a plan none the less.  Here's how it goes:


  1. Frozen Water Bottles - Last night I put two water bottles in the freezer with the hopes that this would provide me with some cold water to drink on my ride.
  2. Dump Ice On My Head - Once while I was volunteering on the Tour de Cure I saw Greg LeMond pull into the rest stop and dump a huge pile of ice over his head with his helmet on.  If I we stop anywhere where there is ice I plan on trying this technique out.  I don't plan on accusing anyone in our group of doping like Greg has been prone to do though.
  3. Wear my Canada Jersey – although I'm not Canadian I do own a Canada Jersey (I like Canada).  Surely a jersey from the great white north would be cooler on a hot day.  I might even hum "Oh Canada" as I ride if I determine that would help as well.
  4. Drink like a Fish – I also plan on doing a lot of hydrating while I ride.


So there's my hot weather cycling plan.  People from Seattle have always been accused of being water logged from the incredibly long rainy season's they have to endure but maybe I'll be completely dried out by the end of the ride.  We'll see……

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cycling Air Freshener

Have you ever seen something when you’re out for a ride that causes you to slip deep into cycling thought for the rest of your journey? The other day when I went for a ride with my youngest daughter I glanced over at her bike and I noticed something dangling from her headset that I couldn’t make out at first. Here’s a shot of what I saw.

As I stared at it a little longer I figured out that she had attached a vanilla air freshener to her bike. At this point I slipped into some momentary cycling thought.

  • Why would she attach an air freshener to her bike?
  • Did her bike smell?
  • Does she have an aversion to the smell of chain oil?
  • Did "I" smell and she couldn’t face me with the honest truth so she resorted to an air freshener?
  • Do air fresheners secretly increase the aerodynamic qualities of cycling?
  • Would having an air freshener attached to your bike make pace lining a pleasant smelling and refreshing experience?

After a couple of seconds I snapped out of my cycling thought enough to simply ask her about her air freshener cycling accessory.

She told me in a very matter of fact tone “Dad I have it on my bike because my friend gave it to me”

Duh, why didn’t I think of that?

I guess I should just go back to my usual deep cycling thought topics such as:
Why isn’t funner a word?
If I could choose one super power what would it be?

These topics are a lot safer.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Merit Badge Ride

Last Saturday I went on a ride with a local scout troop as they finished up their cycling merit badge. The epic ride of the cycling merit badge is to complete a 50 mile ride within 8 hours. As we started the ride I had my doubts that we would be make it within the 8 hour window because the first 10 miles included 4 rest breaks for both mechanical and non-mechanical issues. By the time that we stopped for lunch our actual ride time was equal to the time we were off of the bike.

Luckily, after lunch the mechanical issues were solved and we kicked it in gear to have some longer ride times in between rest stops. As we rode past the University of Washington we came across one of the stranger works of art that I've seen before. Below is a picture of our group by the "Wall of Death" art exhibit. A good title for how most of the boys were feeling at the time.

The last 15 miles of the ride were slow but steady and as everyone funneled into the finish area there was a lot of exhaustion but joy that the ride had been accomplished. 4 out of the 5 boys who rode surpassed their personal records for distance by more than 100%.

Even though the ride took 7 hours to complete it was a huge accomplishment for the boys and all of them finished. My congratulations go out to them.

Monday, July 20, 2009

As Heard on the STP

When you spend the better part of a weekend hanging out with cyclists riding the STP you're bound to hear some funny things. Here are some gems that I heard in my STP travels.

- Guy coming out of shower truck passing sweaty cyclists standing in line – "clean guy coming through don't touch me"

- Climbing really steep hill into Portland with 2 miles left after riding 200 miles – "Is this some kind of sick joke?"

- After Mike accidentally ran a red light – "Honest I didn't see it until I was half way through the intersection. I was deep in cycling thought thinking about things like why isn't funner a word and why does chocolate taste so good".

- Two guys talking to each other at finish line party – "last year I got a huge cheer from hundreds of people when I crossed the finish line. I thought I was pretty special until I got my finish line photo back and noticed that I had a huge snot bubble hanging out of my nose at the time."

- Guy pouring red bull into water bottles after crossing over into Oregon with 40 miles left to go – "The next fill up it could be beer. You never know."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Photo of the Week

Now that the hard training for the year is over and the STP is finished it's time for some leisure rides. Today I went for a 10 mile ride with my youngest daughter.

No Lycra
No pockets on the back of my shirt
No socks
No cycling shoes

It was a warm afternoon so I rode in a pair of sandals. Kind of weird but nice all at the same time. I'm sure I'll get the training bug again in a week or two but for now I'm diggin the sandal rides.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Seattle to Portland (STP) Ride Report

Day 1
  • Got up at 3:45am and put on gear: jersey, shorts, DZ Nuts, Jolly Rogers socks, and shoes.
  • Woke up oldest son and his friends who would be driving support vehicle for us
  • Packed last minute things in the car
  • Put address in the GPS (Renamed to Pam during the trip by son’s friends)
  • Drove to University of Washington Husky Stadium
  • Got out of car – felt kind of cold so put on jackets

  • Shoved off and took our first pedal strokes
  • Rode through Seattle and only missed one turn (good thing I was riding with others) not sure how I missed it with such good Dan Henry's.
  • Rode along Lake Washington and checked out rowers and fisherman as the sun came up

  • Climbed first hill and took jackets off
  • Tried to figure out where to put jackets. Ended up tying them to bikes. Shouldn't have brought them in hindsight.
  • 1st rest stop at convenience store – asked clerk with nose ring if we could fill up water bottles (Answer was yes)
  • Sat on curb in parking lot and ate baggies of trail mix
  • Pace lined, pace lined, pace lined
  • Watched squirrel attempt to run across the road only to run back and forth 4 or 5 times before he finally made it.
  • Climbed big hill outside of Puyallup
  • Stopped at convenience store at top of hill – asked grouchy guy behind counter if we could fill up water bottles and he said “Today, yes but tomorrow no way” I don’t think he liked STP riders but he didn’t realize we were STP cyclist riding a day early.
  • Took care of business, washed face, applied chamois butter
  • Fresh as a daisy
  • Last 40 miles of day had a great tail wind so rode very fast and made incredible time
Mt. Ranier in the background
  • Stopped at side of road with 10 miles left and Jenny almost sat in the lane – amazing what you will do when you’re tired
  • Rolled into Centrailia @ 100 miles for the day

Jenny celebrating the completion of her first century by laying on the ground
  • Took some photos in the front of the college

  • Rode around town looking for our motel
  • Took shower, took nap, ate pizza, tried to stay awake while watching a cheesy 90’s movie and nodded off for the night.

Day 2
  • Woke up at 6:30am with plans to leave at 8:00
  • Called son’s room to wake him up
  • Jenny drove to drug store to get a bandage for knee and got pulled over, she talked her way out of ticket and drove back to motel
  • Called son’s room again to hurry things along. Pretty sure he was still asleep
  • Went downstairs and gorged on free continental breakfast
  • Packed car and waited for son to get ready. Grrrrr......
  • Left at 8:30
  • Within the first 3 miles both Jenny and oldest son complained of knee pain but decided to push on
  • Rode side by side on some rural roads for a while. Very nice.
  • Someone set up a garden hose from their house to spray out on the road for all of the cyclist that would be passing on the day. Rode through it and it felt great. Probably 8,000 of the 10,000 cyclists would ride through that over the next two days. Very thoughtful!
  • Stopped and took a picture of Rush road. Couldn’t pass that one up. Rush has some great cycling music. Geddy Lee would be proud of this picture.
  • Climbed the first really good hill of the day. Sweat poured in eyes. That didn’t used to happen when I had more hair. Some days I miss it.
  • Stopped at organized rest stop to top off bottles and snapped picture by the worlds largest egg. Kind of weird
  • Rode through 30 miles of rolling hills
  • Challenged son to king of the mountains contest. He beat me to the top of more hills over all of the rollers. ;(
Oldest Son pointing out obstacle in road
  • Jenny and oldest son were in a lot of pain and out of gas but they kept plugging away
  • Stopped at midway rest stop. Had a wrap, PB&J, banana and some heed. Jenny iced her knee and got her cleats adjusted
  • Rode through Longview and approached Longview bridge which crosses over into Oregon.
  • Motioned to another rider at the bottom of the bridge climb to pass me. As he passed he asked if I wanted to race to be the first one into Oregon. I laughed a little and let him go. As I ground up the bridge which turned out to be pretty steep I decided to take him up on his offer. I stood up and pounded pedals until he was pretty far behind me. Lucky for me I was only at mile 55 for the day but he was on mile 155. I guess I had a pretty huge advantage.
  • The 2nd half of the bridge was a huge downhill section. There were expansion joints all over the place so the ride down was really bumpy. My blinky ended up flying off of my bike on the way down but I didn’t realize it until I was a couple of miles away. That’s my donation to the state of Oregon.
Oldest Son and Jenny riding into Oregon
  • The last 45 miles of the ride were on Highway 30 which is fairly busy.
  • We pace lined for a while but we were really riding slow
  • After a while another rider joined into our pace line and agreed to take some pulls
  • That increased our pace a little and it was really nice to have another person to help with the work
  • With 30 miles left we decided to take another break so we pulled into the parking lot of a dry ice factory. Jenny curled up into an exhausted ball and oldest son hung onto his handle bars. They were spent but after 10 minutes they got back on and plugged away
Oldest Son was ticked at me for taking this picture but I knew you would appreciate it.

  • With 25 miles left John met us to ride into Portland. I don’t have a picture of John but this is what he looked and rode like.
  • John pulled most of the way into Portland for us. What a masher and lifesaver.
  • With 15 miles left we pulled over and bought some cokes at a roadside stand to put on our water bottles.
  • I don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything better than that. Holy cow they hit the spot. While we were enjoying our cokes I noticed some riders laying down in the dirt. Exhaustion was hitting everyone.
  • With the city of Portland off in the visible distance and sugar our system we all picked up the pace and actually started passing people. It was great.
  • The last stretch into Portland was really fun
Crossing a bridge into downtown Portland

  • As we pulled into the finish line party people were lining the streets cheering for all of the riders coming in.
  • When we arrived we met Jenny’s former roommate which we hadn’t seen in 7 or 8 years. It was great to see her.
  • As a finishing reward I presented Jenny with a stuffed loin and flowers because she was my maillot jaune winner of the STP

After it was all said and done with it was a great two days. Jenny and oldest son notched their first two centuries in consecutive days. The second day was a sufferfest for both of them but they showed incredible determination to stick it out and finish. They were amazing.

I'm seriously considering doing the STP in one day next year (all 204 miles of it). I'm either going to need some serious counseling or coaching to make the decision. I'll let you know what I decide after more thought.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Signs of Overtraining

This weekend is the Seattle to Portland ride which I'm really looking forward to.  Because I've got this big ride coming up I did a lot of training rides last week.  It reminded me a lot of cramming for finals in college or doing a dress rehearsal before the opening night of the big play.  Anyway, since I did so much training last week I'm starting to see signs of overtraining this week.  Typically, signs of overtraining are things like an elevated resting heart rate which is well documented but my signs are not quite so obvious.  The following are my signs of overtraining which I'm sure you'll agree should be included in the New England Journal of Medicine.


Scab on calf

When I ride I always come home with a grease mark on the inside of my calf.  I know this is a rookie move but I always end up touching my calf on the chain for some reason.  I'm thinking that my chain is somehow magnetized to calf muscles.  After a long training ride on Friday Jenny told me that she used the Mister Clean Magic Eraser to get the grease off of her leg and it worked like a champ.  With an endorsement like that I decided to give it a try.  As I started rubbing the eraser on the grease mark I noticed that it was certainly taking the grease off but that there was a degree of pain involved.  Because cycling has taught me to ignore pain to a certain degree I ignore the pain and just kept cleaning until the grease was gone.  I'm happy to report that the Magic Eraser got the grease off but in the process of getting rid of the grease it also took off all of the leg hair I had in that spot and a couple layers of skin.  So, I'm now sporting a really nice scab on my calf all from the Magic Eraser.  I guess when it says on the side of the box do not use on skin they mean business.


Overloaded Dishwasher

At the end of last week I opened up the dishwasher to empty it out and was amazed at the sight.  The bottom rack of the dishwasher contained 8 bike bottles.  I actually think the water bottles outnumbered the plates in our dishwasher. 


Involuntary Pointing

The other day as I was driving home from work I was in deep thought as I traveled down I-5.  Before I knew it I spotted the bottom of a safety cone in the middle of my lane.  As I swerved to miss this obstacle I also pointed at it so all of the drivers in my pace line would also see it and avoid hitting it.  Luckily, I was the only one in the car at the time or I would have had to explain my involuntary pointing antic and the etiquette of riding in a pace line.  


So there are my newly found signs of overtraining.  I'm really hoping that these signs go away this week because my training has dropped way off.  If you are a medical professional and would like to write an article on these newly found conditions feel free to contact me.  You could be called Mikeonhisbikeitus. 

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tour de France Wish List

Last Saturday the Tour de France kicked off and by now it's well underway with most of the cyclists in the groove.  This is by far my favorite sporting event of the year and lucky for me it lasts for 3 weeks as opposed to one Sunday afternoon.  There are many things I'm really looking forward to this year as the race unfolds.  Here is my list:


  • No organized cheerleaders with cheesy choreographed half time programs.  I had to get that one out of the way first.  It's really nice to know that there are only true crazed fans lining the streets and mountains dawning their devil and Elvis costumes holding their cow bells waiting for the riders to pass.  It's also nice to know that I won't spot Mick Jagger out on the route waving his flabby arms around.  What a relief.
  • Epic crashes.  I'm not really into watching people getting hurt but the TdF really does showcase some spectacular bike crashes.  I still remember the rider last year who whipped everyone to top of a major mountain pass only to ride off of the road and over the barrier on one of the first downhill turns.  He ended up sliding 50 or so feet down a hill and his bike kept going.  As he scurried back to the road he was left standing there with no bike to ride.  You just can't script drama like this.
  • Speculation on who is doping.  It's actually been quite fun in years past to speculate who is doping and who is going to get kicked out first.  Can you say Ricardo Ricco?  You could see that one coming from a mile away last year.
  • Bob Roll talking with his hands.  Even though he has vowed not to pronounce it the Tour "Day" France this year I still get a kick out of watching him talk with his hands.  I'm not sure how he ever communicated with anyone while he was a racer but I bet he has some really good no hands riding skills.
  • Lightning fast tire changes.  The Indy 500 has nothing on the a TdF team mechanic who can chase down a bike with a flat, change the tire and give the rider a push away in 2 seconds flat.  Amazing.
  • Sprint Finishes.  It's mind boggling to me that the sprinters can generate that much power after riding 115 miles and they do it all while banging into each other going 40 MPH.  I was really hoping to see Robbie McEwen pull one last victory out this year but he's not racing.  So I guess I'm pulling for Thor now.
  • Natural breaks on the fly.  I thought I had good bike handling skills but these guys put me to shame.  No way I'll ever attempt that.
  • Rule bending.  I know it's against the rules to draft off of cars or hang on to them but you see it every year.  I still laugh every time I see a domestique drop back to the team car to fill up with water bottles and every time he takes one from the team director he holds on to it for 5 seconds and then gets a really good shove off with the last bottle taken.  I guess if I were riding that far every day I'd do the same thing. 


So there you have it.  You can be sure that I'll be tuning in every night to watch the best sporting event on earth. 



  1. Contadore
  2. Evans
  3. Menchov


Lance Amrstrong 10th place.



Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pace Line Moral

Last night I went on the Tuesday night group ride and took my chances on
riding with the medium speed group. It turned out to be quite the blast
and not as much of a challenge as I thought it would be. We started
with 10 riders but after a couple of miles the lead group was down to 5.
Luckily, I was able to hang on with this lead group and took my fair
share of pulls on the front of the pace line. During the ride everyone
was very good at pointing out road hazards and obstacles and announcing
approaching cars. The last 10 miles of the ride our pace wound up to 25
MPH. At that point people stopped pointing out road hazards because I
think the reaction time necessary to see them just wasn't there. As we
rode along I started noticing that I was running over things in the road
because I just couldn't see them before they were beneath my wheels.
After a couple of these occurrences I realized that some of these
hazards were actually road kill. Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuccccccccckkkkk!!!!
After I made this realization I started riding a bit more carefully
which really paid off when I was able to dodge a flattened skunk.

Moral of the story: If you're in a fast pace line follow someone with
quick reflexes.