Saturday, February 28, 2009

My derailleur is frozen!

So, it was cold out today, but the sun was out, so I took off for a ride on the trails. Yah!

I rode a trail that has a bunch of short but steep hills. After about 15 miles, I'd been riding on a flat portion for a while and had turned around to go back over the hilly area. I was just starting to truck up a steep one when I tried to shift my front gear down. But nothing happened! I thought, "Oh no! What broke?!"

I got off the bike and took a look. It turns out that the whole front derailleur was caked in ice and wouldn't move. How funny is that?!

So I rode the rest of the hills with the ability to change only the rear gears (the front was on the largest, of course). I did finish 21.5 miles before it started getting dark (I had wanted to do 29 today, but oh well.)

Frozen bike parts is a peril of winter riding that I have never encountered before. Note to self: When it's cold and you go through puddles, shift often - even if you don't need to - just to keep the moving parts from freezing solid!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Did you see that?!?

Of course not! It was a bike ninja!

What's a bike ninja, you ask? I'll let Urban Dictionary tell you.

You've probably seen these yourself...or rather, not seen them. I glimpsed a couple this winter driving to work, when I turned off of Kalamazoo Ave. onto 32nd Street. My windshield was fogged and these two different bikers on two different days were wearing all black at 7:00 in the dark and dreary morning! I almost committed involuntary vehicular manslaughter. Twice. Yikes! Yehuda Moon has had several run-ins with bike ninjas, too - like this one. And this one.

Bike ninjas should try only to take to the roads for parades. Like the one reported on by the reputable news organization, the Onion News Network.

I'm having too much fun reading about ninjas!
Added March 11, 2009: This one might be my favorite yet!

Some things never change

It was somewhere around 40 degrees F by the time I got out of work yesterday. I had been staring out the window all day planning to hit a trail. But as the afternoon rolled along, the sun disappeared. It got grayer and darker and eventually started to rain. At first, I thought I would ride outside anyway. I've run many times in the rain, and liked it. (I ran cross country and track in high school and have kept up running to a lesser degree to the present day. I even did a half marathon during my senior year of college.) But the drizzle turned to more of a pour, and I pictured the cold wet backside I would have riding my bike without fenders, and I gave up on the idea. I've ridden with soggy padded bike shorts before. I wouldn't recommend it. I did go to the gym and ride 30 minutes on the stationary bike (6.75 miles) and run 2 miles on the treadmill. It felt good, but it wasn't under a sunny sky.

My mom showed me my baby book a few years ago, and one of the first things written in it was that I loved to be outside. I enjoyed doing anything out there! I can imagine my parents and grandparents floating me in the pool and sitting me down in the grass to play. That love has never died in me! If I have a choice between doing something outside and something inside, I'll almost always pick the outdoor activity. Except for in the winter, that is. I do like sledding and skiing, and I've run a large number of miles out in the winter cold. But when it warms I come!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

If my blog bores you...

...check out Lunicycle's blog! Never a boring post! Luni is a cyclist in North Carolina who writes about his zany experiences in road biking. He's got some fantastic stories that are told in a real, eloquent, down-to-earth way.

Check out the one about the "tasty" spring water...or the hydration challenged spin class teacher. Classic!

Oh, and he quoted me! How cool is that?

Shoveling snow is a workout, right?

It's been snowing again the past few days. Arg. On the upside, I've started to count shoveling snow as part of my workout! LOL

I also rode 16 miles at the gym and did a few light lifts today.

Bowling was on TV at the gym. I've always considered golf and bowling to be fun sports to play but horrendously boring sports to watch. Strangely, I kind of enjoyed watching bowling today. It reminded me of my childhood when I had to suffer through the hours of my dad watching bowling and golf. It's kind of nostalgic fun when I recognize the old players' names...Walter Ray Williams Jr., Norm Duke, Pete Weber.

I promise when it warms up outside you won't have to read about what I watch on TV anymore! Then it will be harrowing stories of dodging squirrels and swallowing insects whole. Yum!

(Fortunately, this isn't a picture of my bike. I hope I never have to report that this happened to me!)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I just rode zero miles...

...and boy, are my legs tired! (Hardee har, huh?)

I rode 26 miles today at the gym. As the length of my long ride increases each week, I'm wondering if I should be putting more base miles in. But I also don't want to burn out early. How to strike the balance?

The cardio room at my gym only has four TVs, so my distraction choices were limited. I don't have TV at home, and I don't miss it. (I do own a television, but I only use it for movies and video games.) I haven't had cable, bunny ears or satellite for about 5 years now, and there is nothing that I really want to watch on a regular basis anymore. Nonetheless, whenever I sit in front of the tube, I'm engrossed and don't want to look away. I feel my brain melting and oozing out my right ear...was that sweat that just dripped on my leg or a bit of my cerebral cortex? I guess it's still better than staring at a wall for 26 miles.

(This little guy brought to you by this guy.)

I can't wait for spring, where the scenery is not just a distraction but part of the joy of riding!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The trail melted!

It actually got above freezing today...39 degrees F! I saw that the roads were melting off throughout the day at work, and I couldn't wait to finally get out on the bike trails. Woo hoo!

I rode about 10 miles exploring the trail system around my new house. There's a couple other routes that I can't wait to try, and plenty of miles of trails for when I start doing those long distance training rides.

I felt pretty out of shape when I first got's definitely more physically challenging to face the rolling hills and changing winds of the outdoors than it is to ride a stupid stationary bike (hear my disdain?). But by the end, I was huffing along comfortably again. It comes back quickly...just like (dare I say it) riding a bike?!?

It's going to be cold and snowy for the next couple weeks, so I don't know when I'll be able to get outside again. But it was well worth it to ride outside even just today!

Light Lane Concept Design

I read about this Light Lane concept design by Altitude's Alex Tee and Evan Gant a few weeks ago. I think it's pretty cool, and I plan to follow it to see when it comes out on the market. If you email these guys, they'll give you more details about their design process and some of the feedback they've been getting from cyclists on the internet.

I think it's sad that one of the biggest turnoffs to bike commuting is fear of the roads. We all seem to have our horror stories. It frustrates me that motorists don't seem to know the traffic laws concerning bicycles. I advocate awareness and education, building bike lanes and trails, etc. But while we wait for that, one of our best defenses as cyclists is increasing our visibility. I'd love to have my own little laser bike lane projected around me!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cruisin' in Florida

My training plan pretty much fell to the wayside during my vacation to Florida this week. Josh and I spent seven days in Stuart, where my in-laws own a vacation home. They actually have some bike lanes in Stuart! I was impressed.

I spent the first few days of the vacation fighting off the plague that went around my entire office. But Josh and I still got a couple rides to the grocery store in. They were only about 3 miles each, but the weather was so awesome that I thoroughly enjoyed it! I'm lucky that my in-laws are into cycling, because they keep two comfy cruisers at their house. Here's me returning from Publix with some food!

I had hoped it would be warm enough to start riding outside when I returned to Michigan. I missed a 60 degree day while I was gone. But alas, the snow and ice are back, and I have to keep waiting. Sigh.

(Check out Yehuda Moon & the Kickstand Cyclery!)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

My new toy

Nope. Not my road bike. Yet.

But something else that's cool! I got a new digital camera, so now I can show you what I'm talking about instead of just writing about it! Yah!

So here's me with my mountain bike decked out with saddle bag, lock and front and rear lights for commuting. It's a Specialized Rockhopper from about 3 years ago.

And that is snow flying around. It was about 12 degrees when I took this, and my fingers were freezing! I wanted to ride outside today, but I changed my mind after taking just two pictures. I went to the gym and road 22 miles on the stationary bike instead.

Here's one more for the road...

Guilty pleasure

Riding the bikes and running at the gym have introduced me to a guilty pleasure - reality TV.

My husband and I own a TV, but we only use it for movies and video games. No cable, no satellite, no bunny ears. So seeing TV at the gym while I work out has kind of sucked me in. And it's not just any TV...I'm not watching quality programming like CSI or The Venture Brothers. This is reality TV. I'm talking The Bachelor and American Idol!

Who will get the next one-on-one date? Will the super happy singer girl make it to the next round? I have to know!

I cringe at admitting this, but the pointless drama gets me through the painful miles!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Shhh...don't tell my husband!

Sometimes when it's really cold and icy out, and I particularly miss riding outside, I sneak out into the garage and whisper sweet nothings to my bike.

"Hey, baby! It's OK. I still love you. I'll take you out again soon. You look so clean and shiny! That's right. It's OK, baby."

Wow. That sounds creepy.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Getting started

Hello online world! This is my first blog post ever. Woo hoo!

I've just begun training for my first century - the 100 Grand in Grand Rapids, MI on June 6, 2009. I'm pretty excited about it!

I've been getting really into biking the past couple summers. In September I did a two-day trip from Grand Rapids to Big Rapids (about 55 miles each way), and it inspired me to try a real long distance bike race.

I've been riding a mountain bike like it's a road bike. It's great exercise and super for commuting to work, but it's not exactly fast. So one of my plans is to get a road bike by March or April so I can get used to riding it and practice pedalling with a group. That'll be different! I've only really ridden alone up to this point. My wonderful hubby, Josh, says that he'll find a good bike deal for me. I am soooo geaked to take off on a skinny-tired speed machine!

As for training, I've worked out what I think will be an adequate but doable training plan, increasing my distance by about 10% per week. I've worked in a little running and some weight lifting. To be totally realistic, I doubt I'll train more than three days a week, so I hope it'll be enough!

My goal for the race is to finish it without feeling like I want to die. I want to enjoy the race and feel proud of the accomplishment. Time doesn't matter so much to me...I'm not going to do an Iron Man (like one of my amazing, super cool, but crazy friends, Cat)!

So my short term goals are:
  • Start getting those miles in! Build my fitness.
  • Warm up the weather so I can ride outside instead of in the gym.
  • When it's warm enough, commute to work by bike.
  • Find a road bike.
  • Find a riding group - probably a relatively slower paced group, or even better, a women's group in the Grand Rapids area.
  • Be smart about when I need a break.
  • Continue to have a life - like seeing my husband and friends, doing fun stuff and working on our new house!

Thanks for reading and joining me on this adventure!