Friday, September 3, 2010

MTB Bikes and Wicker Baskets

I love the process of buying a bike. I call it a process because you can’t just pop on over to your local bike shop and pick yourself up a bike on a whim like you would buy a pack of gum while standing in a check out line at the grocery store. That just wouldn’t be right. If you did this you would miss out on all of the wonderful agonizing over every minute detail that makes this decision so fun. Here are a few examples that just scratch the surface in a bike buying decision.

What gearing is just right for you, and is it time to step up to the manly mans table and drop the granny gear?
Should your components come from Italy or Japan?
Should the pedals have an acronym like SPD or be named after an amphibious animal such as a frog?
Then there’s the whole cost – weight – benefit analysis that must be done. Is it worth an extra $200 to shave off 155 grams or should you just replace a few double bacon extra deluxe cheeseburgers with single bacon cheeseburgers in your training diet instead.

Oh the agony and the ecstasy all at the same time.

Apparently, this exquisite process doesn’t apply to a girl that is about to turn 11. I know… hard to believe. A couple of weeks ago I took my almost 11 year old daughter bike shopping for her birthday and on the way there I asked her what she had in mind. Of course I was thinking that would start a spontaneous conversation about her decision to be become a mountain biker or a roadie and what her future cycling goals would be. But to my surprise her answer about her cycling aspiration was a pink bike that would be able to fit a cute wicker basket on the front. Oh, the pain!!!! Where have I gone wrong as a parent? I get the whole pink bike thing but a wicker basket? How is that aerodynamic?

After enduring a couple private moments of cycling parent grief we went into the store to find her dream bike. To her horror the bikes that sported the pink motif just didn’t work for her so she settled on a nice mountain bike in a very girly baby blue. Just what she wanted.

On the way home she was super excited to take it out so I took advantage of her excitement to teach her a little about her new steed. By the time we got home she could recite that in addition to being a very pleasing baby blue bike that could sport a front wicker basket it was also a hard tail mountain bike with a triple. I guess we’ll have to take the cycling geek thing in small steps. We did take it out for some sweet mountain biking a couple of days later. I predict some night mountain biking in our future (with a wicker bike basket).

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Pains of Anticipation

Think of waterfalls
Think of waterfalls
Think of waterfalls
Think of waterfalls

That is how the song goes that my kids sing to each other over and over again. This song is only sung when one of the kids mentions that they might need to stop at the next rest stop to use the restroom when we are on the road. “No hurry really just when we see one” is usually the tone of the conversation. Then the waterfalls song begins from all of the other kids which usually insights an immediate fit of bladder rage and panic and the emergency search for a bathroom is on by the driver. Of course all of the kids in the car think this is hilarious except for the bladder victim.

It really is amazing how the thought of running water or actual running water has such power over someone’s bladder. Luckily, this song has never been able to employ its super power over me and honestly I’m hoping that it stays that way. Recently though I’ve discovered a distant relative to the waterfalls song that has total power and control over me.

A planned cycling rest break.

I know what you’re saying, “Mike, how could this be”? I know it’s kind of weird but here’s how it works.

I’m a planner, I love to plan out cycling routes and when I’m in the planning mode I also try to factor in stops for natural breaks along the way. It's all part of the plan.

Last month I was on a training ride which included a stop at Marymoor park in Redmond WA. I chose this as the half way point for my training ride because it’s a really nice park and more importantly it has the nicest restrooms that I’ve ever seen in a park. That’s how good of a planner I am. These restrooms are very clean and most importantly they are designed in such a manner that each patron gets an entire restroom to themselves equipped with a fully locking door. It’s like the Holy Grail of park restrooms. Anyway, I think you get my point. They are nice.

As I got about 5 miles from this rest stop I started thinking about how many snickers bars I was going to eat and how much Gatorade powder I was going to add to my bike bottles. You know cycling geek stuff. I also took a mental note of how my hands and feet were feeling since they had been giving me trouble on earlier rides. Finally, I took a mental note of my need for a natural break which luckily was very low.

As I started thinking about the blessed Marymoor park restrooms and what a great route I had devised it was like my kids had started singing “Think of Waterfalls, Think of Waterfalls” only this time it was working! With each pedal stroke the virtual waterfalls song was getting louder and louder until I was considering if I was going to make it to the Holy Grail of park restrooms at all. I was in some urgent pain.

As I entered the park I spotted a blue port-a-potty over by the remote control airplane field and I did my best impersonation of Mark Cavendish sprinting for a stage win only there would be no talking on the phone at the end of this race. As I neared the blue structure I threw my bike in the grass and entered the port-a-potty as fast as I could. I was both relieved and saddened at the same time because I hadn't made it to my planned destination. Dejected I rode my bike another tenth of a mile to my beloved Marymoor Park restroom equipped with a fully locking door and ate my snickers bar just outside of it in shame.

At that point I decided that I would no longer tell myself (my bladder to be specific) of any upcoming rest stops or include grand rest stops in my route planning ever again. Obviously, my bladder just can’t take the anticipation.

It's the element of surprise from now on!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

2010 STP Ride Report

Rather than bore everyone with a lot of flowery words, excessive adjectives and the overuse of the word pain, I’m going to follow the tradition that I started last year by doing my Seattle to Portland (STP) ride report in short attention span bullet points. If you’re into twitter just think of this post as an over abundance of twitter posts. So here we go.

Pre Ride
  • As I wrote a parting blog post the night before the STP I quoted the mantra that riders recite at the Leadville 100 before the race. “I will commit, I will not quit” This is a great quote but I mistyped it originally as “I will commit, I will NOW quit”. This made me a little nervous.
  • Went out with the family to Pizza Hut for some pre ride guilt free eats. Ahhhhhh
  • Started feeling a little nauseated
  • Started getting a slight headache
  • Started getting a toothache
  • Decided that I had become a mental case and went to bed

  • Woke up at 3am
  • Got riding gear on
  • Took some precautionary measures by taking some Vitamin I and applying liberal amounts of chamois cream
  • Prayed mightily that I would survive the day
  • Jenny got out of bed so she could drive me to Husky Stadium
  • Got to Husky Stadium at 4am and by 4:05 I was on my bike and riding
  • The official ride didn’t start until 4:45am but there were plenty of other riders just like me who decided to start a little early.
  • Noticed that another rider was following close behind me then he asked me how I was following the route in the dark. I told him that I had the route downloaded to my garmin and he looked at ease.
  • 10 seconds later my Garmin beeped at me because I had gone off of the course.
  • My new buddy and I made a U turn and got back on course
  • Spotted a lot of flashing blinkies up in the distance and eventually caught up to a pack of other riders who had started early too.
  • Felt a lot like a Sooner for taking off 45 minutes early and then riding through the dark with another pack of rebels.
  • Noticed that my head light was by far the brightest in the bunch. Thanks Kanyon Kris
  • Rode along Lake Washington and watched the sun come up
  • Rode through Renton and various over cities with Police stopping traffic at all of the major intersections for us. Kind of felt like a rock star. Kind of.
  • Stopped at the first rest stop at mile 25 and listened to really loud techno music while consuming a clif bar and chocolate milk. I just can’t pass up free food.
  • Felt kind of like throwing up after eating that clif bar.
  • Got passed by a peloton of at least 40 riders taking up an entire lane of traffic.
  • Decided this was my chance to experience what it’s like to cruise along with a peloton so I leaped on the back and worked my way through to the middle of the pack.
  • Hung with the peloton for 30 minutes and all I could hear was the constant whir of tires. It was pretty exhilarating.
  • All of the sudden most of the peloton pulled over to the side of the road and proceeded to engage in a natural break. Some while still straddling their bikes. That’s what I call dedication. Don’t worry Jenny, I just kept riding but couldn’t keep the smirk off of my face.
  • Discovered that my legs were cooked from attempting to hang with the peloton too long. Would pay for that adventure for several more hours.
  • Stopped at rest stop mile 44 and had another Cif bar because it was free.
  • Walked across a huge football field to get to the bank of porta-poties. Had a long discussion with everyone else making the hike about their placement. Still kind confused on that one.
  • Pulled out of the rest stop feeling like I was about to throw up again. Did I eat another Clif bar? Decided that I’m a slow learner.
  • Followed someone with a Mellow Johnny’s jersey on for miles as crazed pacelines passed me filled with tree trunk thigh riders.
  • Pulled into the 100 mile rest stop at 10:45am and declined riding through the misting station and free offers of an ice cream bar because it was still only 55 degrees outside. I could have sworn it was July.
  • Made a mad dash for the porta-potty line and upon finishing up my business had another free chocolate milk given to me by none other than Miss Centrailia Washington. Hard to turn something down like that.
  • Decided to stick with Gatorade, Snickers, and an occasional gel for the rest of the ride. Lucky for me I run a lot better on cheap fuel.
  • At mile 120 got detoured onto a sidewalk because we had ridden up to a small town parade.
  • Finally met up with Jenny on the side of the road. It was really nice to see her.
  • Dumped off my headlight, rain pants, coat and some Clif bars that I had packed in the car and filled up my seat wedge with enough snickers bars to make it to Portland.
  • Put my head down and rode, then rode some more.
  • Was riding in a really long paceline and when a car drove by and honked at us in anger. The first 10 cyclists in line gave the driver the finger. It was a prefect example of a cycling mob mentality. I laughed about that one for at least 10 minutes. (Jenny don’t worry, I didn’t participate in the gesture)
  • Stopped at a convenience store at mile 160 for some Gatorade and stood behind some guy trying to buy a hunting and fishing license. The lady behind the counter wouldn’t sell him one because the computer had him blocked. He finally confessed that he was way behind on his child support and that was why the state of Washington had blocked him. Way to go Washington State.
  • Got an incredible case of “Are we there yet” syndrome for the next 40 miles.
  • Pulled into mile 180 rest stop, bought a 12oz Coke and drank it while sitting in the shade. It tasted great and normally this gives me a huge boost to make it the rest of the way but realized that no amount of sugar was going to do the trick at this point.
  • At mile 189 my Garmin 305 batteries gave up the ghost. This didn’t keep me from looking down at it every minute or so to check my speed though. Some habits are tough to break.
  • At mile 190 I decided that I was done drinking because I was sick of searching for porta-potties.
  • Pulled into Portland and climbed the steepest hill of the entire ride without passing out. At this point I decided that I was really going to make it.
  • Got detoured through the heart of downtown Portland because a bridge was under construction.
  • Rode with 10 or so other riders through at least 20 stop lights. Laughed as most of them were so fatigued that they were having a hard time clipping into their pedals every time we started.
  • Ran a couple of red lights just to keep up with the rest of the pack. There was no way I was going to get lost in downtown Portland after riding 200 miles and add additional miles.
  • Pulled into Holiday Park to a huge finish line celebration where my whole family greeted me equipped with a sign and a stuffed lion. Nice touch.
  • Gave Jenny a big kiss.
  • To their horror I gave both of my daughters a big sweaty hug just for fun. They didn’t think it was so funny.
  • Double Century done!
  • 208 miles, 12.5 hours of riding time, 15 hours total, 4am – 7pm.

  • That was the most focused ride that I’ve ever done.
  • At some point during the ride every muscle hurt in my body but never at the same time. They would each take turns hurting then feel better. I’m really glad that they decided to take turns and not all revolt at the same time.
  • That was the fastest century, followed by another century that I have ever ridden. Pacelines Rock!
  • I thought that I would never want to do another double century after this one but I’m actually considering it if I can talk other people into doing it with me next time.

Special Thanks To
  • First and foremost, I need to thank Jenny for putting up with all of my early morning and late night training and constant talk about cycling. I’d also like to thank her for showing a mean streak when I would call her out in the middle of nowhere standing in the rain. Toward the end I just knew she wouldn’t pick me up. That’s exactly what I needed
  • A big thank you to my kids for suffering through the fact that their father is a cycling geek. Get used to it, it’s not going away.
  • I’d also like to thank the inventors of chamois cream
  • Thanks to my mother in law for virtually riding along with me on her wii fit. I’m not sure how that works but my guess is it doesn’t involve chamois cream, snot rockets, Lycra, or rude drivers.
  • Thanks to Jack Bauer for being tortured and torturing so many people during the 7 seasons of 24 that we watched during the winter months on a trainer. You made trainer rides “almost” enjoyable.
  • Finally, thanks to the Cascade Bike club for putting on the most organized bike ride that I’ve ever been on. I’m not sure how they logistically deal with 10,000 cyclist over 200 miles but year in and year out they do a great job.

Will I be back next year? I’m not sure but I don’t think it would take much persuading if others wanted to join me. Any takers?

Friday, July 16, 2010

2010 STP Predictions and Game Plan

Everything is packed, I'm super hydrated and my STP bib number has been placed on my jersey of choice.

My predictions for tomorrow:
Frantically search for a port-a-potties
Wonder what the heck I'm doing
Ride some more
Repeat until I ride 204 miles.

I'm planning on starting at 4am and finishing sometime before the sun goes down.

My game plan:
Pray for strong tailwinds and do some major wheel sucking

Unless I have a major mechanical problem they are going to have to pry my hands off of the handle bars before I quit.

"I will commit, I will not quit"

Ride report coming next week.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dress Rehearsals

Wikipedia states that a dress rehearsal is used by professional performers to ensure that all the details of a performance are adequately prepared for and coordinated.

Let’s get things clear here I’m not a professional or performer but I have been on a lot of training rides lately in preparation for my double century and they are starting to feel a lot like dress rehearsals.

My last dress rehearsal was a 140 mile affair where I ended up learning a lot of things that you may or may not find interesting. Here’s what I discovered. .

Sunglasses somehow get crud on the inside of them
After riding 80 miles I noticed that either my eyes were starting to rapidly degenerate or there was a film of crud on my sunglasses. Either way I really couldn’t see much. When I took them off to wipe them down (while riding with no hands – that’s for you LizzyLou) I noticed that the problem wasn’t on the outside of the lenses but the inside. What? On the inside? Honestly, I had no idea that I had the ability to shoot tiny sweat pellets from my face to the inside of my sunglasses. What a skill. After giving them a good wipe down and putting them back on I discovered that all I did was smear a lot of tiny sweat beads around thus making my sunglasses unwearable. Not a good situation. Next time I’m going to pack something small to clean off the inside of my glasses so I can see the road. It’s just healthier that way.

I have an enemy in Snohomish
A month ago as I rode through the hills of Snohomish a rather large gentleman wearing some kind of lumberjack suspenders in a small pickup honked and yelled out his window as he passed me. Well, last Friday the exact same guy passed me again honking his horn and yelling but this time he threw an additional enhancement by giving me the finger as he drove by. What at the chances that of the three times that I’ve ridden through that area in the last month he would be out on the road twice? Somehow and someway I have made a cycling enemy in the hills of Snohomish. Lucky for me I didn’t see any NRA, country music, or NASCAR stickers on his little pickup so I’m probably in the clear for a random firearm showing up in our next encounter.

Plastic bags
On the last two rides over 100 miles that I’ve done it has rained for at least an hour during each of these rides. On both of these rides I haven’t prepared properly for rain which forced me to waddle dripping wet into a convenience store and beg for a small plastic bag so I could put my phone and camera in it. I know what you’re saying right now. Why carry around all of that extra weight of a small zip lock baggie if you don’t need it. I agree but in this case I’m going to throw caution to the wind and carry around a zip lock baggie just in case it rains from now on. My prediction is if I carry around this baggie it won’t ever rain again when I’m riding.

A 12oz can of Coke could be considered as rocket fuel
When I was at mile 110 last week I stopped and bought a can of Coke. In addition to being the one of the best tasting things on the planet after riding a significant number of miles, a can of flat coke in your system could be considered rocket fuel. It’s amazing how a huge blast of sugar in your system completely changes your countenance. After that refreshing beverage was in my system I felt like I could ride another 100 miles. I’m going to use this as my secret weapon in the future. Sort of like Batman’s grappling hook that he occasionally pulls out of his Bat Utility Belt®.

I could really do this thing
After all of these training rides I think that I have actually convinced myself that I can do the double century. Ah, the sweet feeling of denial.

Well, the 17th is the big day. Either way, it will be a long but spectacular ride. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Training for Misery

In the month of June the weather man in Seattle has predicted rain 10 out of the first 13 days and he’s been right. Honestly, I don’t always like what the weather man predicts but when he predicted a day of overcast but DRY skies for last Friday and I had the day off I started planning out a training route with a lot of miles and some great scenery. My plan was to ride from our house up to the Canadian border along the Puget Sound and end up at the new LDS temple in Langley British Columbia. Sometimes I think planning is half of the fun.

On Friday morning I got up a little after 4am and started getting everything ready to roll. At 5am I stepped out the door with my bike in hand only to be greeted by wet roads and that familiar Pacific Northwest consistent drizzle.

That’s when the internal negotiating started between Mike the slacker and Mike the fit cyclist. It was a fierce battle with a lot of passionate pleas, power plays, bargaining, jumping up and down, and whining. In the end the arguments were for:

  1. Crawling back into our warm bed and spending the balance of the day eating assorted deep fried food.
  2. Going on the ride anyway because I really need the training miles.

Amazingly enough I decided to head out in the rain with the hopes that it would stop after a couple of minutes and follow the forecast of overcast but dry skies. It's amazing what denial can do for you sometimes if you use it in your favor.

After 30 minutes of riding I was soaked to the bone but I also had either warmed up or become completely numb because I was finally comfortable. This being the case I decided then and there I was going to just keep going until I couldn’t take it anymore.

Occasionally, the rain would stop and I would somewhat dry out but then the showers would start again then I would think to myself “I hate that weather man”. This is how the entire ride went. I rode through drizzle, rain, downpours, and occasional dry spells.

The overall ride was very beautiful from what I could see through my wet sunglasses. This ride served two purposes. I was able to pound out 113 miles but I was also able to endure some miserable conditions. I think I’ll be able to use both of these things when shooting for the double century. In my own little way by finishing this ride I was giving the rain the finger without actually making an inappropriate gesture. It felt kind of good.

Next time I think I’ll opt to stay in bed and eat the deep fried food.
P.S. Hi Dayleen!

Riding Chuckanut Drive in the Rain (Still fun even with wet roads)

Cows out in the rain. I wonder if they worry about their leather coats shrinking if they get wet.
The Border between the US and Canada (Peace Arch)
Crossing the Boarder. I got in line with all the cars. It was kind of fun.

My wet welcome to Canada

My final destination in Langley, British Columbia

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Monday Cafe

Today I have the privilege of hosting The Blog Café. If you’re not familiar with The Blog Café basically it’s a virtual get together at a favorite cafe of the host’s choice where we sit around and discuss a topic that I throw out to you. Food, fun and conversation even though it’s virtual is kind of a nice place to be for at least a couple of minutes during your Monday

Before we head over to the café I first need to take you on a journey with me. I’m currently training for a one day 204 mile bike ride on July 17th so before we do lunch we need to get some training in first. Seriously, it won’t be as bad as you think. Our day is going to start at 5:00am as we all ride away from my house on our bikes. I know what you’re thinking. Mike, that’s way too early to ride a bike. I know it’s early but if you leave this early there are some benefits.

1. The dogs aren’t awake this early and if they are they are way too tired to chase you down the street.
2. You get to ride into the sunrise and enjoy amazing views like this.

Here are a couple of roads that we’ll be riding through on our tour of the Pacific Northwest.

By noon we’ll be finished up with our required 100 miles of training for the day and even though you and I have already consumed our weight in Cliff bars, Snickers bars, and Gatorade we will still be running a huge calorie deficit which of course we’ll need to take care of.

So for lunch we’ll be heading over to Everett Washington to hang out at Barney’s Pastrami Dip.

Barney’s Pastrami Dip is a one man show run by the owner Dave Barney that basically offers one item on the menu which is of course The Pastrami Dip.

Dave will make your sandwich on the spot after you place your order so you can watch him pile heaps of pastrami that he seasons himself on a crusty, split baguette with spicy mustard and pickles. I know it doesn’t sound like much but to quote a food critic “Barney’s is the best pastrami I have ever had on either coast.” You just can't go wrong with a Pastrami Dip. Sorry I don't have any pictures of these creations. I went on Friday to partake of this yummy goodness and also take some pictures for you but he wasn't open. Honestly, I almost cried on his door step. So for today you'll just have to use your imagination.

Barney’s isn’t exactly heath food but since you have ridden 100 miles with me today there’s really no need to be a nutritional role model. All you have to do is sit right down and enjoy a great sandwich with me. In fact, you might want to order a second round before we leave without any guilt at all.

While we’re enjoying our Pastrami Dips I’m sure we’ll do some typical cycling chatting about super important things like pedals and saddles of choice. We also might swap some embellished stories about some epic rides of the past. Finally, we’ll get down to the topic of my choice for the day.

“If you could have any super power what would it be and why”?

I love this question and honestly my answer constantly changes.

So for today if I could have any super power it would be to have the ability to time travel and to take others with me. Think of it, wouldn’t it be nice to travel back in time to witness major historical events like the signing of the declaration of independence or more importantly the 2001 Tour de France. I could also travel into the future to figure just how old I’m going to be when I go completely bald. OK, maybe I'll skip that one.

Super heroes only use their powers for good so I would promise to only use this power with good intentions with one exception. Occasionally, I've been known to say things that I wish I could take back. If you’re married you know what I’m talking about. So I would also use this super power to travel back in time by 5 minutes to correct any unlikable statements that I make and replace them with incredibly sensitive lovable statements. Better yet, maybe I'll replace it with nothing at all. So if we're talking to each other and I suddenly don't say anything at all when I should be don't worry it could be that I just used my super power on you.

So, now it’s your turn to chime in. If you could have any super power what would it be and why?

I'm looking forward to your responses. Have a great Monday.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Traveling By Bike vs. Flying

I traveled to Washington DC last week on business and Jenny was able to come along. While we were there we talked a lot about taking some long distance bike trips in the future instead of flying or driving to a destination.

While we were sitting in the airport waiting out a 2+ hour flight delay I came up with the following list of advantages of traveling by bike vs. flying.

  1. No extra charges for bags.
  2. Wearing lycra is acceptable if you're riding a bike
  3. Delays are never caused by weather in a city a 1000 miles away
  4. Fresh air vs. Recycled air. Tough choice
  5. By bike I can eat Snicker bars and drink Gatorade all day long and still lose weight
  6. It's tough to get a tan when you're flying
  7. You never have to remove your shoes, walk through a metal detector or get swabbed for bombs before you depart on a bike trip
  8. They don't sell Velonews in any of the airport book stores
  9. Water bottles aren't prohibited on a bike
  10. Launching snot rockets is NEVER acceptable on an airplane

In flying's defense there were a couple of advantages that I could think for flying
  1. Your bike seat doesn't make a very good flotation device in the case of a water landing
  2. Barf bags are typically not available on a bike ride.
I'm not totally ruling out flying but I'm seriously considering some bike touring in the future.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What To Do When You're Sick

This morning I woke up with a scratchy throat, my ears were hurting and I was starting to lose my voice. By the way when I start to lose my voice I sound a lot like Barry White which isn’t a great thing but it’s a skill none the less.

As I stood in the shower I actually contemplated going to work for at least 5 minutes then called it off and decided to stay home. I sent the “I’m out sick email” to my boss and went back to bed.

When I woke up 3 hours later I still felt pretty bad so I did what all slightly crazy cyclists do when they are feeling a little under the weather. I rode on my trainer for an hour of course! The first time I tried riding while nursing a head cold I thought I’d last for 10 minutes before lapsing into a coma but to my surprise I actually rode strong and felt a lot better after my ride.

So after my ride today I’m feeling a lot better but I still sound like Barry White.

I’m thinking the Barry White thing is kind of a bonus to my sickness.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


A couple of weeks ago the 108th edition of the Paris-Roubaix bike race was held. This is one of the best bike races of the year because of the extreme conditions that the riders have to race through. If you’re into watching bike racers suffer (which I am) this is the race for you. This race is an amazing sight to see.

In the days leading up to this race I was in despair because I knew I was tied up for most the day so I wouldn’t be able to watch it. As I ate breakfast before heading out for the day the thought occurred to me that I might be able to watch 15 minutes of the race on the internet. I quickly sat down at our computer and searched for a live feed of the race. Magically, I found a live feed and I was in business. I could almost hear the hallelujah chorus as I watched Fabian Cancellara punish the rest of the field. After a couple of minutes of sheer joy I noticed something strange. The feed that I was watching was in Italian. The funny thing is it didn’t bother me at all. Was I losing it? Was I the only weird American watching an Italian feed of Paris-Roubaix? No way, in addition to the video feed there was also a chat window to the side of it and everyone who was chatting was speaking English. I joined in on the chat to figure out where big George Hincapie was and sadly he wasn’t in contention.

After my 15 minutes of cycling joy I had to shut the computer down to head out for the day. As I drove down the road heading to my destination I realized I had just added another item to my list of You Know You’re A Cyclist If list.

You know you’re a cyclist if you watch the Paris-Roubaix at 6:45am on a Sunday morning in Italian AND LIKE IT.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Energy Gel Recipe

Have you ever built a huge camp fire while you’re out camping with friends or family and stepped back with an admiring look on your face and exclaimed “Now that’s a fire”? Or upon building what you deem is the world’s best sandwich you say out loud for all to envy “That’s what I call a sandwich”.

Why are we so proud of ourselves when we build, create, develop, or even destroy something? I believe it’s because we did it with our own hands. There’s a sense of pride and satisfaction that we get when we make something on our own as opposed to going down to the store and merely buying it. And as an added bonus 9 times out of 10 it’s a lot cheaper to make something than buy it.

A couple of weeks ago I was thinking about all of the training rides that I have planned in preparation for doing the STP and how I’m going to have to figure out how to eat on the bike if I’m going to do a double century in a reasonable amount of time. In my case if I’m going to eat on the bike it’s going to be in the form of a gel.

If you haven’t had a gel before you don’t know what you’re missing. Gel comes in a little packet and depending on the flavor that you buy tastes like a couple bites of really delicious pudding. Mmmmmm pudding……… The amazing thing about gel is that it provides immediate energy to your legs. There have been a number of times that I’ve been out for a ride and feel like I’ve completely run out of gas and upon eating a gel I feel like I could ride another 100 miles. They are the cycling equivalent to the illusive elixir of life.

The only downside to gel is the expense. A tiny packet of gel generally cost $1.25 and on a long ride I could consume 4 or more of these life savors. That’s not bad for one ride but it adds up over time and it’s kind of a hassle to have sticky gel packets stuck in your seat bag or other places such as the side of your jersey (without you knowing it).

So, the other day I thought to myself “Mike, you should do some research and start making your own gel”. On this occasion I agreed with myself and decided to do just that. Of course I went straight to the authority on this subject, the internet (Thanks Al Gore). The first couple of searches that I did turned up a mountain of strange recipes that ranged from straight honey to mashed up berries. None of these things sounded anything like the ingredients that I see on the side of a gel packet but then I came across a great article written by someone named Travis. This article talks about some of the science behind what is in gel but in an understandable way and also offers a simple recipe. Here’s a link to this article if you’re interested in further reading which I’m sure you are.

I didn’t follow Travis’s recipe exactly because I wanted to customize it a bit so here is what I came up with.

Brown Rice Syrup (75%)
Agave Nectar (a little less than 25% of the total quantity desired)
Sea Salt (very small amount)
Fruit puree (just enough to add some flavor and color)

I really like this recipe because all of the ingredients are easy to find at the health food section of most grocery stores. Here is how I put it together.

I started by determining how much gel I wanted to make. In my case I own a gel flask which is basically a mini water bottle used to store gel. My gel flask holds ½ of a cup of gel so this is the amount that I wanted to end up with.

Then using the percentages above I filled up a 1 cup measuring cup half way. I know that’s not very technical or exact but for me it was easier just to eyeball a 1 cup measuring cup half way. For the puree I took some frozen blackberries that I picked in the park across the street from our house and put them in a food processor (fake magic bullet) and ground them up.

Since everything in this recipe is fairly thick once I had it all in my measuring cup I put it in the microwave oven for 45 seconds to heat it up. This thinned out the ingredients enough to be able to mix them up with a spoon.

Once everything was mixed up I poured the gel into my flask and put it in the refrigerator for my ride the next morning. That’s all there was too it. The total process took 20 minutes or so and that included the cleanup.

The final test

The next day I completed a 73 mile ride on some Gatorade and my flask of gel and felt great the whole ride. For a source of energy this gel worked most excellent. The only downside was since I used blackberries for flavor there was a high concentration of seeds in it. These seeds loved the nozzle of my flask and clogged it the first time I attempted to consume some gel. I finally I just took the top off of the flask. The flavor was great but I did end up spitting a lot of seeds every time I ate some.

Next time I’m going to definitely to strain the seeds out before I add the blackberries. Better yet I'd like to come up with a chocolate flavored gel. Got any ideas on how to do that? If anyone else tries to make their own gel I’d like to hear how it works for you.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Signs of Spring

Even though the rain is coming down sideways today, yesterday we made it to the tulip festival to check out the signs of spring. Yes, there is still hope!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Flat Tire Grief

The other day while I was out for a ride I was thinking to myself that it had been a long time since I had a flat. What a joyful thought, 3 years without a flat tire. Then as a rode along I felt like I was slowing down which believe it or not happens to me a lot. Normally, when this happens I think to myself “there’s no way I’m dogging it, I must have a flat”. The last 150 times that I’ve looking down to check to see if I indeed had a flat I didn’t. It’s just a case of my whimpiness, but this day as I looked down I noticed that my back tire was looking rather spongy. As I pulled over and felt my back tire my worst fears were confirmed. Arrrrrg, I had a flat.

Not to worry, just the other day I had repacked my seat wedge for the upcoming season with everything I would need to change a flat including one handy dandy latex glove so I could handle the chain/derailleur without getting grease all over the left side of my body. As I dug through my seat wedge I noticed that I had everything that I needed except for one item.

Tire levers!

For the next 30 minutes unbeknownst to myself I systematically made my way through the 5 stages of grief I’m sure this would have been hilarious to someone watching from a distance but to me. Well, not so much. Here’s how it played out.

Stage 1 – Denial
“What? No tire levers? That can’t be, I just repacked this bag. They must be in here somewhere.” Honestly, my bag is really small but you wouldn’t know it by the amount of times that I searched through it for those levers. It was like I was searching for a secret compartment to pop out like it was a Bat Utility Belt® but alas my levers had vanished into thin air.

At this point another cyclist approached me heading in the opposite direction and asked if I needed any help. Being in full denial mode I reassured him that I didn’t need any help and he went on his way. I didn’t need his help because I had talked myself into being strong and nimble enough to manhandle that skinny little tire off of the rim with my bare hands just a like a super hero would. I was wearing spandex shorts after all, so this should qualify me as an super hero able to fix flats with the greatest of ease in a single bound of course.

Stage 2 – Anger
Now that I had convinced myself that I could fix my flat with my bare hands it was time to get into action. I was able to wiggle one of the sidewalls up and off of the rim but the only way I could do this was to turn the tire inside out. Not really how I had planned my super powers to manifest themselves but the tire was off one of the sides of the rim. Then I realized that there was no way possible that I was going to get the tube inserted into my inside out tire and back on the rim. Enter the full blown anger stage. I wasn’t mad enough to jump up and down and hold my breath but I was angry enough to go through my seat bag once again and in the process chuck all of its contents on the ground one by one. Not a pretty sight but I was out in the middle of nowhere so no one else was around to witness my temporary cycling insanity.

Stage 3 – Bargaining
Now that I had to come to the realization that my super power flat fixing skills weren’t what I thought they were I had to do some bargaining with myself. I could wait for another cyclist to come by and beg to use their tire levers or I could make the dreaded phone call to Jenny and have her drive out to Timbuktu to get me with my tail between my legs. I didn’t like either of these options but I decided to hang around for a little while and wait for a fellow cyclist before calling Jenny.

Stage 4 – Depression
So there I stood on the side of the road with my bike turned upside down and the back tire turned completely inside out “lookin like a fool”. I stood there like a cipher in the snow waiting for a kind cyclist with tire levers to ride past. I was deep in cycling depression. Out for a ride on a great day, in nice weather, on one of my favorite routes standing on the side of the road with a flat. It could have been worse though, I could be at home mowing the lawn.

Stage 5 – Acceptance
I stood on the side of the road wallowing in my cycling depression for what seemed like an eternity when another cyclist came up the road and magically asked if I needed any help. Like Napoleon Dynamite I thought to myself “Heck yes I do”. I explained all I needed was to borrow his tire levers for a couple of minutes. He dug them out of his bag (because he was smart enough to pack them) and before he knew it I popped my tire completely on my rim so I could start over again mounting everything. I set a speed record getting that tire off of the rim while distracting him with cycling conversation so he wouldn’t notice what I mess I had made in my attempt to fix my flat. I was like a one man cycling master of illusion. Before he knew it I had completely put everything together and handed his levers back. I thanked him profusely for his help and he was on his way while I pumped my tire up.

As I rode home I decided a couple of things.

1. I would never go for a ride without tire levers
2. Cycling shorts do not qualify you as a super hero with bare hand flat fixing skills.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Two Great Videos

I came across a couple of great videos.

It looks like this one was filmed in Portland. One of my favorite places to ride.

This one is of Jens Voigt and someone is asking him what he says to his legs when they are hurting. I think I'll be saying this to my legs a lot this year.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

It's All Relative

When I was in college I had a roommate who was a philosophy major. I don’t remember too many things about him but I do remember that he had two favorite sayings. The first one was “When I graduate I’m going to get paid to think”. On a good day he would utter this over-confident phrase 6 or 7 times in an attempt to convince himself that his major was legitimate. I’m not saying that majoring in philosophy isn’t legitimate but honestly he was pretty darn annoying about his major selection.

The other thing he used to say was “It’s all relative”. This is a very normal thing to say when it’s used in the right context but he used to drop this line as a “I have something profound to say” statement whether it made sense or not.

Here are some examples:
Me: I think I’ll make some Raman for dinner before I go to study.
Philosophy Man: It’s all relative.
Me: What?

Me: I’m going on a date with Jenny this Friday night.
Philosophy Man: It’s all relative.
Me: Huh?

Me: Did you know that you can get 32 oz of Diet Coke for .25?
Philosophy Man: It’s all relative.
Me: You keep using that line. I do not think it means what you think it means.

As you can see this phrase would immediately kill any conversation dead in its tracks because everyone would stare at him like a dog watches TV. You know, your dog knows there’s something there but he can’t quite make it out so he stares for a while then walks away.

Jenny knew this roommate so sometimes I will randomly drop this line into a conversation when she’s around and she will start to laugh. It’s like the inside joke that never gets old.

The other day I was in the car with my 14 year old son and we were listening to a pop station that he loves. Trying to get teenagers to talk to you can be a challenge sometimes so I was asking him about different songs that I knew nothing about. We were having a great conversation when out the blue a song came on the radio and he blurted out “This song is soooooo old”!!!! When I asked him how old the song was he said “it’s like 3 or 4 months old”. Really? 3 or 4 MONTHS?

To me an old song came out in the late 1960’s which would make it 40 years old not 4 months. I guess our concepts of what old is are totally different.

I was kind of embarrassed but all I could think was “It’s all relative” and in this case it actually made sense for once.

Philosophy Man I hope you’re getting paid to think somewhere in the world.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What's Tough For You?

Have you ever done anything that is excruciating hard for you? I’m not talking about things that are tough for everyone but things that are your own personal challenges that could possibly be incredibly easy for someone else. For example, most of the time I don’t mind doing the dishes if of course I get to choose the music that is playing. For others doing the dishes is possibly one of the most mundane excruciatingly hard things to get yourself to do.

There are a lot of items that make my personal list of things that I find tough to do. In college it was any class on economics. I could pass the class but there’s absolutely no fun to be had in an economics class. Changing diapers and doing yard work are other items at the top of my list. Some people find it therapeutic to work out in the yard. Me? Well, not so much.

The other day I found something that could possibly be at the top of my list of hard things to do for the rest of my life. Seriously, it was that bad.

Riding on a bike trainer for an hour while watching Men's Figure Skating!

For the past week I’ve really enjoyed watching the winter Olympics. I love the strange sports that you only see once every 4 years. I also love the intensity that ALL of the competitors have for their sport. On Monday night I rode my trainer while watching a smorgasbord of different sports and they were distracting enough that my hour ride went by fairly quick.

Then on Tuesday night I got everything set up, started riding and turned the TV on to find that Men’s Figure Skating was on. I’ve got to be honest I’m not a fan of the sport AT ALL. I tried to remain positive, thinking that the network would cut away to another sport and eventually bounce between multiple sports like they had every other night. After every skater I would chant in my head “Go to another sport, Go to another sport, Go to another sport” but miraculously this did not work. NBC stayed with Men’s Figure Skating for an entire hour in all of its flamboyant sequined glory.

Looking back on the evening I should have flipped my bike off of the trainer and “accidentally” run into the wall putting myself on the disabled list for the rest of the evening. That would have been a lot easier than riding for the entire hour. Honestly, completing the 100 miles of nowhere ride on my trainer was a lot easier than this ride. Is it possible that time could have stood still during Men’s Figure Skating? I believe it did for at least 4 or 5 hours.

There might be someone out there that would have found this to be an easy thing to do but riding a bike trainer for an hour while watching Men’s Figure Skating has topped my list of tough things.

This single event could possibly be at the top of my tough things to do for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Confessions of a Data-aholic

Shortly after I started training for my first long distance bike ride I read somewhere that it’s a good thing to keep a training journal. Not that I do everything that I read but on this occasion I built a spreadsheet to track how many miles I rode each day. Over the years this spreadsheet has morphed into quite the prodigious work of bike nerd art. This spreadsheet has got sections for weekly goals, notes on how each ride went, drop down menus for each type of workout and it even turns different colors when I achieve a goal all on its own. In some strange way it gives me a sense of satisfaction to fill out my training spreadsheet the morning after I ride. It’s like a nice pat on the back if I’m doing well or a kick in the rear if I’m slacking off.

Occasionally I’ve also tracked my weight on this spreadsheet when I’ve gone on one too many donut benders to give myself a little accountability. You would think that this would be simple since all you have to do is weigh yourself once a week and enter a number but it’s not so easy at our house. You see, until a couple of weeks ago we had an ultra low tech scale that we got on sale at a grocery store. You know, the kind that you had as a kid with the spinning dial. This scale was great. If you weighed yourself first thing in the morning and you didn’t like your weight all you had to do was get back on again. Chances are your weight would be different every time you weighed yourself. If you have weight integrity (which I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone like this) you would average your weight over 5 or 6 weighings before claming your weight for the week. On the other hand if you didn’t like your weight, all you had to do is keep weighing yourself until you get to the number that you like. Of course there was only about 3 pounds of variation but hey, 3 pounds is 3 pounds.

The other day Jenny came home from the store and she had a new weight scale in her possession. I’m pretty sure this is the same scale that Bill Gates uses because the amount of data that it spits back to you is out of control. Not only does it give you a consistent weight reading (every time) but it also tells you how many pounds of fat your carting around, your body fat %, your BMI (I think this stands for Bike Muscle Index), and your hydration %. Aside from not being able to get the scale to lie anymore this scale is super cool.

This has left me wondering what the heck I’m going to do with all of this data. Do I really need to keep track of all of this data? I’m really trying hard to not add all of it to my training spreadsheet but this is like putting a beer in front of an alcoholic. As of right now it’s not on my spreadsheet but I don’t know how long that will last. Someone talk me off of the ledge.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sore, But in a Good Way

When I was younger I don’t remember the sensation of having sore muscles unless I did something out of control and kind of dangerous. I would ask myself “why is my leg sore” then I would remember that the previous day I had played tackle football in the mud with my buddies for hours and got repeatedly slammed into the ground by a much larger “friend” of mine. So in essence to be sore when I was younger I really had to earn it.

Now that I’m a couple of years older I can be sore for no reason at all. Absolutely none! I’ll crawl out of bed and on my way to the shower wonder why my shoulder or some other random muscle is killing me. I’ll replay the events of the past couple days in my head and find no evidence of where the pain is coming from. Then, I’ll chalk the pain up to sleeping in a weird position. Sore from sleeping in a weird position? That would have never happened when I was a kid. When did this spontaneous indiscriminate sore (place your favorite body part here) transformation occur? Beats me but I really wish it would go away.

Lately I’ve been pushing myself pretty hard in my cycling training. In fact, I don’t ever remember training like this in January but to be honest I’m happy with my fitness level for this time of the year. Sometimes at work when I get up from desk my legs will be a sore from the ride the night before. This kind of sore I really like. In fact, it puts a smile on my face. Not because I’m into pain but because I know exactly where it came from and to quote a old Smith Barney commercial “I earrrrrrrrrned it”

I’ll take self inflicted sore muscles over random old guy aches and pains any day. So here’s to another day of soreness. Sore but in a good way.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Ultimate Be Prepared Tip

The Boy Scout Motto is “Be Prepared”. A long time ago when I was a Boy Scout I could have sworn that the motto was “Burn Stuff”. Believe me, as a 12 year old boy on a camp out with a bunch of other 12 year olds there’s nothing better than sitting around a camp fire and throwing things in to see if they would burn. Ahhhh, good times.

Now that I’m older and more “Mature” (Jenny might disagree with that statement) I see the wisdom in the Scout motto of “Be Prepared”. Although I still like to burn things now and then too.

So today I’ve got a handy dandy “Be Prepared” tip that is the best of both worlds.

I present to you Mike’s Ultimate Be Prepared Tip…..

On your next hiking or mountain biking adventure along with some emergency matches pack a small bag of Fritos corn chips. That’s not a typo! Pack a bag of Fritos. So here’s the thing, along with being amazingly tasty Fritos are the ultimate kindling when trying to start a fire in an emergency situation.

What’s that? You say I’m full if it? Here’s a video that we shot the other night lighting a bag of Fritos on fire. As you can see it produces a pretty good flame for a long time. In fact, the Fritos were flaming long after we stopped shooting the video and the family had gone back in the house due to boredom. I ended up picking up the pile of flaming Fritos and throwing them in the BBQ before our dog tried to eat some of them. All in all I think they stayed lit for 10 minutes. Who knew Fritos would be so flammable?

So even though your cardiologist will disagree with you a bag of Fritos could one day save your life. And as an added benefit if you don’t end up needing them while you’re out in the wilderness you can eat them on the way home. Yummmmm……… You can’t do that with other fire starters.

Finally, a word of caution. If you choose to amaze your friends by lighting a bag of Fritos on fire which I’m sure you’re secretly contemplating right now make sure it’s in the street or somewhere discrete because it left a large burned grease mark on our back step.

Sorry Jenny!

Be Prepared, that's what I always say..... or was it Burn Stuff....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Signs That The Training Season has Started

This morning as our family sat down to eat some of my famous whole wheat pancakes there were some obvious signs that Jenny and I have entered the training season.

Here's a picture of my breakfast. Whole wheat pancakes topped with apple sauce. A prefect training breakfast.

Here's a picture of my daughters breakfast. Whole wheat pancake smothered in hot fudge sauce. As you can see there's almost more hot fudge than pancake.

I'm going to have one of those next August!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Level of Cycling Insanity

The first time I completed a century the last 30 miles were excruciating. It felt like I was dragging a 1000 pound weight behind my bike and someone had lit my shorts on fire. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. I remember estimating down to the second how much time I had left in the saddle. My rear end was killing me, my hands and feet hurt, and my legs were just plain sick of spinning around in circles. Would I ever subject myself to doing that again?

Heck yeah!

I’ve completed 4 since then and I believe I’m ready to step up the insanity to an entirely new level. Why, I’m not really sure. Maybe it’s to sweep the last vestige of cycling sanity out of my mind, or it’s to see if I can really do it, or it’s because secretly I love all of the training and planning that goes into the preparation. OK, it’s all of the above.

On July 17th (exactly 7 months from toady) I’m going to ride the Seattle to Portland (STP) in one day. For those of you scoring at home that’s a total of 204 miles. When I completed the 2007 STP in 2 days I wondered to myself “how could someone ever do this ride in a day”? In 2009 I also completed it in two days but this time I thought to myself that a double century could really be doable. Of course that would be after I acquired a heck of a lot of training miles, a severe dose of insanity, one tough rear end, and Energizer Bunny legs. I guess I’ve got some work to do.

The other day I was putting together a training plan and the harsh reality of all of the weekly miles really hit me. ¡Ay, caramba! that’s a lot of miles! My plan is do 3 shorter training rides during the week with one very long ride on the weekend. This weekend ride will increase in distance by 10% a week until I get to a 150 mile ride. This ride will be two weeks before the STP then I will either taper for the next two weeks or rent a wheel chair for the balance of the summer. I haven’t scheduled any off weeks because I’m sure my schedule will cancel rides all on their own.

I’m pulling this 150 mile training ride out of the air as a good training max but I’m really not sure if it’s too much or too little. I guess we’ll see come July. Either way the end result will either be a spectacular failure or a spectacular success. I’m pulling for a spectacular success.

I’ve asked someone if they want to do this ride with me and he is seriously thinking about it. That doesn't mean there can't be more coming along. There are 10,000 spots available. Anyone out there interested?

Now that I’ve told you about my goal I’m hoping that you’ll keep me honest here. Feel free to hassle me if I start to slack off in my training or call the whole thing off. Think of it as your assignment.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Survival Guide to the 2010 Winter Olympics

On Friday Jenny and I went to Canada (Vancouver BC Area) for the day while the kids were in school. While we were there it occurred to me that the 2010 Winter Olympics are only a month away and it may be helpful for others if they had a quick survival guide for the Vancouver BC Canada area from a visiting American’s perspective.

Speeding on Highway 99
Before entering Canada you drive on I-5 with a speed limit of 70mph. Once you cross the boarder into Canada the road changes to Highway 99 and the speed limit also changes to 100kpm (62mph). Not wanting to cause an international incident I kept my speed just a smidge above that. Holy Cow, it felt like I was driving 5mph with the speeds that people were passing me at. I can only think of two possible explanations for this.
1. Canada’s speed limits aren’t really laws but merely guidelines sort of like the code of the pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean.
2. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), still ride horses and therefore can’t catch speeders.

Shopping carts
We stopped at a grocery store and since we had a lot of items on our list we started looking for carts once we got into the store. To our surprise there wasn’t a stack of carts inside the front door. We peeked outside the front door to see of there were any stray carts in the parking lot but didn’t see any there either. Do Canadians use shopping carts? We were wondering. Well, after we carried our bags of catsup potato chips, dill pickle potato chips, and caffeine free Mountain Dew to the check out stand and made our purchase we spotted a safely secured line of shopping carts all equipped with locks and they were locked to each other. We looked at them further and found that they charge 25 cents to use a cart. Once you’re finished with your cart you can return it to the shopping cart quarantine area and after you have safely locked it to the other carts you get your quarter back. So, if you’re traveling to Canada keep a quarter in your pocket for shopping locking and unlocking.

Chinese food
It’s been said that the best Chinese food in Seattle is in Richmond BC which is a suburb of Vancouver and I agree. While we were in Canada we stopped at a Chinese restaurant and were the only people of non Asian decent there. It was quite the weird but fun experience and the food was excellent. There wasn’t a single fork in the entire place either. There’s so much to say about our experience that I’m planning on writing a separate post about it. I’m still laughing about it. So, if you get to Richmond you’ve got to try out some Chinese food. You won’t regret it. That is unless you have a history of poking your eyes out with chop sticks.

In Canada it is legal to sell Codeine over the counter in pharmacies if it’s combined with two other ingredients. So, they sell it with Aspirin or Acetaminophen and Caffeine. It’s like the perfect trifecta of headache killers. It’s sold in low doses but it really does the trick on just about any headache. So if you’re in Canada go to a pharmacist and ask if you can get some AC&Cs or 222’s (Those are the secret code words). They will then pull out a couple of bottles and ask you if you would like 100 or 200 in a bottle. It’s like magic.

Grocery Store Doors
Normally in the US if there are in and out doors heading inside and outside of a store side by side the in door is on the right and the out door is on the left. This makes perfect sense because this is how are roads are routed. In Canada not so much. For some reason they are located on opposite sides. To get into a store the in door is located on the left side. I must be a really slow learner because I always headed for the out door when attempting to enter a grocery store. I’m not quite sure why they have their doors this way but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the metric system.

Bathrooms are called washrooms

If you ever see this sign trust me don’t bring your laundry into this room. You won't be doing any clothes washing in there. That’s right washrooms are to Canadians what bathrooms are to Americans. I think both of these terms are quite misleading but it’s what we are used to.

So there you have it. Canada isn’t very different from the US but there are subtle differences. You just can’t find a friendlier group of people either. I’m really looking forward to the winter Olympics next month. If it were the summer Olympics you can bet that I would be camping out for all of the road races.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fastest of Them All

For Christmas my youngest daughter got a card making paper embossing machine thingy. Being the articulate guy that I am, I’m sure there’s an actual name for this contraption but the long and short of it is she can emboss paper and make greeting cards with it. Because she is an Über crafty person she loved this gift. In the days following Christmas she made cards of every shape, size and color. She got so good at making cards that she even started making pop up cards. This is way beyond any skill I would ever hope to have.

I really loved one of the cards that she made for me so I had to share.

Here is the front of the card.

As you can see she cut holes in the front of the card to expose some words. Pretty darn cool.

Here’s the inside of the card in all of its spectacular embossed splendor.

There you go, this card vouches for my veracity in three categories.

Coolest – Notice the argyle to the left. I currently don’t own anything with an argyle on it except for a Garmin water bottle. Maybe that’s a hint that if I get some Argyle I will be the style king.

Nicest – Obviously my smile is a lot larger than anything else on my face. I’ll take that.

Fastest – I loved this one the most including a bike equipped with aero bars.

I’m honored to be the coolest, nicest, and fastest Dad of them all. I know there are a lot of fast cyclists out there that are fathers but according to this card I’m the FASTEST. I'm relieved Mark Cavendish isn't a father. Sorry Lance! Better luck next time.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Christmas Vacation Report

When I was in grade school every time we returned from a major vacation I had to write a paper detailing something that I did during my time off. Well, here’s my “What I Did on Christmas Vacation” report but this time I promise not to include a hand drawn crayon picture at the bottom just to take up space. Come on, you can admit you used that trick too.

This year I took two weeks off during the holidays and since the company I work for shuts down between Christmas Eve and New Years day it only required burning up 3 days of vacation. Not a tough decision.

In the past when I’ve taken this time off I end up sleeping in every day and eating massive quantities of food with the thought that come January I’d start riding again.

This year was different! OK, not about the food or sleeping in part but I did manage to ride A LOT. Here was my typical schedule for the break.

  • Wake up (no alarm clocks)
  • Have a bowl of cereal which usually started with the word frosted and if I was lucky it also included the word cocoa.
  • Ride like a madman on the bike trainer for at least an hour. A couple of times we lengthened our rides to an hour and a half.
  • Check on the kids who were now awake and hanging out.
  • Take a shower
  • Play cards, eat, watch movies, eat, take a nap, eat, repeat…..

Even though I was not a nutritional role model during my vacation I ended up losing a pound over the break. I know, kind of weird. Must have been all of the riding.

Some things I learned while on vacation:
  • It’s easy to make cheese cake and even easier to eat mass quantities of it.
  • I can make decent bagels (raisin cinnamon, cheese, and jalapeño)
  • Jalapeno bagels make great sandwiches
  • Avatar was a great movie
  • Trainer rides while watching 24 are almost addictive

I’m really happy with my fitness level going into the month of January. I think I’ve talked myself into doing a one day double century (321 km) this summer. I think!