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Monday, December 29, 2008

Missed Opportunities

Missed opportunities or excuses, excuses, excuse! I was going to go with the "excuses x 3" for the title of this post but I'm saving that title for a later date that I know all too well will come. Yes, the long holiday weekend presented several riding opportunities all of which I allowed to pass. Too cold, too wet, too windy...too tired, too lazy, too busy...they all applied over the post-Christmas 3-day weekend. Not even a new Garmin Edge 305 could motivate me. Yup, pretty pathetic!! But on the other hand, I got to spend some quality time with the kids playing with their new toys which includes the family gift of the Wii (Wii Sports, Wii fit, and MarioKarts to start). Other than the kids DS units, we're not really video heads in this family, so it was not just about new video games but also learning the basics of using all the gizmo's that come with a Wii console. We don't have everything mastered quite yet, but we're having lots of fun learning. And so far daddy is the champion of most of the Wii games, but as I learned with the DS, give my son enough time and daddy is no longer good enough to play with him. :-(

I'm heading out of town for a day so I guess my 12/18 ride was in fact the last ride for 2008.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Ho, ho, ho...the snow's a melting!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa Tracking

The children and I were just tracking Santa Claus on the 2008 Norad Tracks Santa website. The problem of course is that at this time on Christmas Eve, he's pretty much over the Atlantic, so there are no live images from any Santa cams. But the previous recorded videos of Santa over the major European cities are pretty cool. Actually, with a little bit of computer technology and know how I was able to capture and blow-up a good image to display here. What's this I see??

Looks like Santa has a new mode of transportation this year!!

Note: Clip Art Courtesy of Pearl Izumi

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Little Christmas Music...

...Bicycle repair style!

Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker Suite" - performed entirely on bicycle parts:

Click on the 10-Speed Cassette to listen. Wait at the end to see the "instruments"

Courtesy of Specialized Bicycle Components.

Happy Holidays

Monday, December 22, 2008

And Snow It Did!

Snow totals in my yard:

Friday - 9"
Saturday - 2"
Sunday - 4" (before brief change to sleet/rain)

I can be a bit of a weather geek with stats and with IMO commentary on weather forecasts. Drives my wife crazy. What can I say, it goes hand in hand with my BS in meteorology.

As expected, I won't be hitting the road on two wheels anytime soon. But I WILL start on the trainer before 2008 is over and do plan a series of mostly bicycle related posts over the holidays. Gotta keep the blogging skills intact too!

Looking over my my blog, I'm mostly pleased with the results so far. One thing I'm not pleased about is the lack of photos will be added soon. Today I've add stock photos of my bikes on the sidebar.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Last Ride This Year??

Had my sights set on two more rides this weekend and at least another two over the long Christmas weekend, but with a double barrel snow threat bearing down on southern New England for Friday and Sunday I decided to vacate the office this afternoon to get in what might be the last ride of 2008. Hope it's not the last ride, but I can't see myself riding in the snow, slush and ice left over from two major winter storms.

Anyway, it was a good ride...the longest ride on the fixie so far. Stayed warm enough except my toes got too cold, which was a first for me on these cold weather rides. Bummer, freezing toes always spoil an otherwise good ride.

Ride Stats

Bike: Fixie
Distance: 19.8 miles
Time: about 78 minutes
Average Speed: approx. 15.2 mph
Next scheduled ride: 12/26 - 12/28...but more likely in 2009
Temperature at start: 37.0 F
Temperature at end: 32.5 F
Gear: base/Summit jersey/InsulaTour jacket/Zephrr vest/Bell Weather winter tights (circa 1988 but they're still the best winter tights I've ever used)

I actually do like the snow...especially around the holidays. So...let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!! (But I'll be hoping the January thaw comes on schedule and lasts the rest of the winter)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Ride - 12/14

Wow! What a difference 10 degrees makes. Today's ride was warmish. I had on a base layer, winter weight jersey (Sporthill Summit top) and the Pearl Izumi InsulaTour jacket...just the right combo for a long ride. Just one little problem. When you leave for the ride at 3:08 pm on a mid-December day, you haven't left yourself enough good daylight for a long ride. Had to settle for a 17.5 mile ride...was hoping to do 25 miles but that ride will have to wait for another December weekend day with temperatures above 40. Perhaps we'll get one soon but times running out I'm afraid.

So today I had my first self inflicted "incident" related to riding on a fixed gear bike. The loop I rode yesterday and today has a short downhill section on which I typically attain 33 mph while coasting. Knowing this, I used a little brake action yesterday to make sure I could handle it on the fixie. Today I decided no brakes...oops, little mistake. These old legs couldn't handle the RPMs on this section and my foot slipped off the pedal (yup, no clipless yet on this bike). I also learned that you need absolutely perfect timing to reengage foot to pedal at high speeds (moderate and low speed too) and I have the marks on the back of my legs to prove it. Plus it's hard to keep one foot on while the other is off at this speed, so the cars passing by must have done a double take when they saw me flying down the hill with my legs out straight and the pedals moving. Oh well, I survived that little incident fairly unscathed so I'll just chalk it up as a lesson learned. Thankfully, the rest of the ride went without incident.

Ride Stats

Bike: Fixie
Distance: 17.5 miles
Time: about 70 minutes
Average Speed: approx. 15.0 mph
Next scheduled ride: next weekend
Temperature at start: 42.1 F
Temperature at end: 40.8 F

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Saturday Ride

Made it out today for a slightly longer 16.5 mile ride on the fixie. I was too bored with the 14 mile ride which is a shorter loop I do twice. I get bored easy! We had around 4 inches of rain on Friday so it was no surprise that many roadsides were still wet...even had to do a little ice dodging.

Ride Stats

Bike: Fixie
Distance: 16.5 miles
Time: about 65 minutes
Average Speed: approx. 15.0 mph
Next scheduled ride: tomorrow (suppose to be mid-40s!!)
Temperature at start: 31.5 F
Temperature at end: 28.4 F

Housekeeping notes: I've added some new widgets! Local radar images are at the bottom of the page. A "Latest Ride Widget" courtesy of dailymile is on the right under "About Me." Dailymile is yet another training and social networking web site. It's currently in beta testing. Figured I'd try it out for a while.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Nothing Tastes As Good As Thin Feels

The title of this post is a saying I heard tonight on NBC's The Biggest Loser show. Yes, as much as I hate to admit it, I need to get my motivation to ride from different sources...including a reality TV show. So every Tuesday night I tune in to the Biggest Loser to watch these amazing transformations. They truly are amazing. And believe it or not, I had never heard that saying before...neither had my wife. But we're in agreement that it's a profound statement.

Again, the reason I mention this is, that despite my love for cycling, I still need to be motivated to get out and ride. And riding is my main method for losing weight. What can I say, I enjoy eating...and most often not the right food. Yes, I'm more of a live to eat than eat to live type of guy. But I also know when enough is enough, and that moment came earlier this year when my doctor informed me that I had essential hypertension (high blood pressure runs in the family) and put me on medication. I hate medication! I desperately want to be off of meds! Ha!...more motivation.

At the time of my high blood pressure diagnosis, I was tipping the scales at 226 lb (at 5'-11" I believe that equates to a BMI of around 31...not good). Immediately, I set out with a haphazard bike riding training schedule and I'm happy to report that I lost 25 lbs by mid September. No doubt, eating better was also an essential part of that success. Currently, with the lack of riding miles and the festive season underway, I'm waging a losing battle with maintaining that weight loss. So yes, I need all the motivation I can get.

Nothing tastes as good as thin feels. I should put that on a tee shirt! Darn, someone beat me to it.

Now you know a little more about me and the motivation I need. I went riding in snow showers on Sunday. I never would have done that in the past. Being part of a cycling blog community provided the motivation. Thanks Sarah!!

The weekend weather is looking mighty good at this point, so no excuses for not getting in two more rides this week.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

One Post, Two Rides

Quoting myself, "I might be a little slow getting this blog going but I've got ideas and lofty goals...and it looks like an early winter is setting in here in southern New England, so I might have some extra time too. Stay tuned"

Did I say I might have some extra time? What extra time??

My goal going into this past Friday was to get two rides in over the next three days. I knew it would be tough given the weekend weather forecast of snow on Sunday and our plan to once again find our "perfect" Christmas tree and get the lights on it. For us, buying a tree is not a quick's not even an activity that can be reliably scheduled in a 2-3 hour window, though we do try. In a good (lucky) year, it may take an a bad year it might start on a Saturday afternoon and wrap up the next morning! This was a fairly good year. We left the house around 2:30 pm Saturday afternoon and headed over to a previously unknown (to us) tree farm in Plainville. Traipsed around there for 30 minutes looking at all the half-way decent trees that were already tagged...okay, time to try another place (Sunlight Farms) we recently found in Foxboro. First Saturday in December and their pre-cut Frazer Furs are all picked over...time to move on, until I start talking to a worker about the tree farm we had just visited. He asks if we've been out back to look at their 3 dozen or so uncut trees (they're not really a tree farm, but apparently they planted some a few years back). The moment I saw these trees I had a feeling we would find ours. Bingo! 15 minutes later we're driving away with what I consider to be a great "tree farm" find. Total elapsed time of about 3 hours (after a few more Christmas decoration related errands). Not bad. Unfortunately, with the children's commitments in the morning and the tree adventure in the afternoon, there's no time left to ride the bike. That's the bad bike news.

The good bike news is I left work early on Friday and was able to get a 14 mile ride in and the snowstorm on Sunday was a nuisance event that was over by early another 14 mile ride shoe-horned into an otherwise busy weekend. It actually snowed for a while on the Sunday afternoon that was a first for me.

Ride Stats

Bike: Fixie
Distance: 2 x 14.2 miles
Time: about 60 minutes each day
Average Speed: not worthy of mention
Next scheduled ride: who knows with a week of forecast unsettled weather and no doubt another busy weekend
Temperature: ranged from 33 to 38 F for the 2 rides.

I had most of my new winter riding gear on during these two rides, but the verdict is still out on how much I like this stuff. Need a few more rides to finalize my opinion.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

No Ride - 28Nov08

My "next scheduled" ride for Friday, 11/28, never happened...of course, I did say "maybe".

Simply stated, I know better than to try to fit a ride in on the morning we're packing to go away for the weekend, so I never should have scheduled this ride anyway.

The weekend was fun, but feel like I gained weight over the last four days. :)

Unfortunately, I really have no idea when my next ride will be due to work hours and weather forecasts. We'll see.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Fixie Ride

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I'm thankful that I can spend the next four days with my family.

We're looking forward to the Polar Express in North Conway, NH this weekend.

Ride Stats

Bike: Fixie
Distance: 14.2 miles
Time: about 55 minutes*
Average Speed: approx. 15.0 mph
Next scheduled ride: tomorrow before we leave for New Hampshire...maybe
Temperature at start: 44.6 F
Temperature at end: 45.3 F

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"Scheduling Fluke" Bonus Ride

Well, it was less a fluke and more a decision to simply leave work early so I could shoe horn another ride in. And a shoe-horned ride it was! Working in Boston means a minimum of 2 hours a day is consumed by commuting. Today I took the 1:50 PM train which got me back to Attleboro at 2:50 and to the house at 3:10. Plenty of time for a ride except because I'm home and my son has a late afternoon appt. that my wife will bring him to, we agree that I need to pick my daughter up at her school by 4:30. At least 4:30 is the target. We just don't want her being the last child picked-up on the day before the holiday. So I'm out on the bike by 3:25 (15 min. prep time not too bad IMO with all the winter gear on) and back home at 4:10...45 minutes of riding on a 12 mile loop. By the time I'm showered and out the door again it's 4:35 and I arrive at the school at 4:45...15 minutes late. The good news is there are at least 15 children still there including a couple of her no sad face when I show up. Sadly, this is a typical scenario for me for getting a short weekday ride in at this time of year. Truthfully, in the past I didn't have the motivation to make in happen...rather, it was all too easy to just decide there was no time for a "decent" ride. So far the fixie and the blog reading/writing has changed that dynamic. But how long will it last? I don't know the answer to that question but whatever it is it will be documented on this blog. Stay tuned.

I have a scheduled ride tomorrow morning, but my track record for following through on rides before family holiday events is best. We'll see how it goes.

Ride Stats

Bike: Fixie
Distance: 11.9 miles
Time: about 45 minutes*
Average Speed: approx. 16.0 mph (that's more like it!)
Next scheduled ride: Thur 11/27 - Thanksgiving morning (got to earn the 2nd helping!) Temperature at start: 42 deg F
Temperature at end: didn't notice, but never got cold on this ride

*Note: a don't intend on tracking time accurately on my fixie (i.e., no cyclometer wanted!!)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pearl Izumi Thanksgiving Weekend Sale

Don't believe my blog viewership has reached the level that will make this a particularly useful post. As a matter of fact, I'd say that as far as views of this blog go, it's stuck deep down in the lower left hand corner of the "views" graph. Be that as it may, this is the type of post that some cycling aficionados may find useful, and it's the type I'd like to post from time to time. So here it is!

Pearl Izumi is having a Thanksgiving weekend blowout sale on previously marked-down items at its Factory Stores. Unfortunately, the factory stores are few and far in between, with the only New England location in North Conway, NH. Nice store. It's a must stop whenever we're in town, which will be the case next weekend when we bring the children to the Polar Express event!!
Here's the deal:
  • 40% off from store opening on 11/28 until 7:59 AM (store openings vary...some are midnight...North Conway is 6 AM)
  • 20% off from 8:00 AM to closing on 11/28
  • 10% off all day on 11/29 and 11/30
Whenever I've been in the North Conway store, most of the major clothing items (jerseys, shorts, tights, jackets) have been marked-down. Accessories such as socks, gloves, and warmers typically are not.
Now here's some good news for those of you not near a store. You can call the stores direct to inquire about specific items and order over the phone. They will ship to you for a nominal shipping fee.
The link above will bring you to a list of their factory stores. Here is the address and contact information for the North Conway location:
North Conway Factory Store
Dunkin Donuts Plaza
1946 White Mountain Highway
PO Box 1517
North Conway, NH 03860
Tel. 603-356-5183
Fax 603-356-5682
Happy shopping!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Darn Cold Fixie Ride!! - 23Nov08


Cleaning the yard of leaves and a final mowing took precedence this weekend (the town compost center closes at the end of November and we're going away for the weekend after Thanksgiving, so...), which means that bike riding time was extra limited. Fortunately, the yard was certified clean by 3:00 PM so after a quick truck run to the compost center there was still enough time to shoe horn in a ride. As usual, I stretched the ride to the longest mileage possible without actually having to arrive back home in the pitch black...just the normal darkness that precedes pitch black! And even then the ride wasn't completely over as I had promised my daughter a short bike ride with her "phonics owl" (Echo) down to see the lake at both ends of our street...okay, now that's the portion of the ride that was darn cold. We were out riding for an additional 10 minutes or so.

Ride Stats

Distance: 14.2 miles
Time: about an hour*
Average Speed: approx. 14.2 mph (sadly)
Next scheduled ride: Thur 11/27 - Thanksgiving morning (got to earn the 2nd helping!)
Temperature at start: 31 deg F
Temperature at end: 28 deg F

*Note: a don't intend on tracking time accurately on my fixie (i.e., no cyclometer wanted!!)

The Bike

Most of my rides during the cold off-season are going to be on my Peugeot fixed gear (fixie). Today's ride was no exception. Truth be told, I'm not even sure I had ever heard of a fixed gear bike before a couple of months ago. In late September I found myself Googling some sort of bike or bike part or something, and as usually is the case, one thing led to another and yet another and then I found myself on the Harris Cyclery web site reading articles written by Sheldon Brown. Sheldon is a guru among bicycle mechanics...sadly, he passed away early in 2008. But his web pages and articles, and quite frankly, an ocean of cycling knowledge live on at the Harris Cyclery web site he developed.

Turns out, Sheldon was a strong advocate, a huge fan one could say, of fixed gear single speed bikes...especially fixed gear conversions. Check out these articles by Sheldon if you have some time to kill. Anyway, a fixie is a bike with a single gear ratio and no free wheel. The chain turns the single cog on the back wheel in both directions -- yup, you can pedal the bike forward or backward. What this REALLY means is that you CAN'T coast on a fixie...okay you can if you want but you'll look kind of funny with your legs and feet up in the air and the pedals still moving. Oh, and if you forget what you're riding and try to coast the normal way, the bike will rudely remind you of the primary rule for riding a fixie -- thou shall not stop pedaling the bike.

Okay, so getting back to "the bike", I thought it would be a cool idea to look into riding a fixie over the off-season. I mean, I know all too well the realities of riding beyond least for me. No after work rides...lots of family obligations...the holidays...the cold..the snow. To me, riding a fixie represented the best way to stay on the road and maximize the fitness benefits of riding. Yup, a fixie would allow me to shoe horn in some shorter rides and still get the benefit of longer rides. Sure a trainer might work too, but I'm certainly no fan of trainers even though I own one. So a fixie it would I just needed to get one.

Of course, me being me (impatient and liking new toys), I headed off to a couple of LBS to check out the Surly Steamroller and the Redline 925, both excellent fixed gear bikes according to many online reviews. 925 in stock at East Providence Cycle and the wrong size Surly at Union Cycle in Attleboro. I've lived in North Attleboro for almost 10 years now and I've never stepped foot in Union Cycle until this visit. Turns out, the Service Manager there (Ron) worked for Sheldon Brown a few years back and is himself a fan of the fixie. After tying Ron up in cycling conversation for the better part of an hour, it dawns on him that perhaps one of my old bikes is a candidate for a fixed gear conversion. In order to be a candidate, the frame must have horizontal dropouts. Most modern bikes have vertical dropouts and his guess is my old Trek is most likely one of these. That's when I mention the Peugeot...that's when his eyes light up. My Peugeot is a sports/recreation model circa 1983 that was my first bike for long bike rides and eventually fitness training. For the last 20 years it has been collecting dust, the last ten of those hanging on the wall of my garage. I knew I kept it for a reason. :) The next day I brought it to the shop, signed up for the conversion and three weeks later I was riding my "new" fixie.

The Strange Thing Mentioned Above

We had a guest this weekend -- an acquaintance of my daughters. His name is Echo. He is a stuffed animal -- an owl. A phonics owl to be exact. This will all make sense. My daughter is 6 and in 1st grade, and she is currently Superstar of the week in her class. One of the duties of the Superstar of the week is to take Echo home over the weekend so he can partake in family activities. One of those activities was a bike ride with daddy. I foolishly thought that the ride would be bagged due to the cold and wind...wrong! In any event, the owl ate with us, attended dance class with my daughter, slept near her, watched a movie with the children, etc. I'm sure you get the picture. The "phonics" part came earlier tonight as my daughter had to write a story about Echo's stay with us in her own words and without any spelling help from mom or dad. She did a great job!!

Finally, a promise to readers and myself. I'll try to keep most posts much shorter than this one.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Inaugural Post

I'm a recreational cyclist who rides mainly for fitness. Although I love riding, I always need motivation and a little accountability to keep training and to achieve goals. That is why I've always set goals and maintained a log of cycling miles. Recently I discovered cycling blogs. I REALLY like the concept. A journal of my rides...and thoughts...sharing photos...and whatever else may be fun to write about. I might be a little slow getting this blog going but I've got ideas and lofty goals...and it looks like an early winter is setting in here in southern New England, so I might have some extra time too. Stay tuned.

I mentioned above that I recently discovered cycling blogs. Two great ones that I wish to give a shout out to are:

Martinator's Biking Blog (

Sarah's Cycling Blog (

Martin and Sarah maintain the type of blogs that I will be striving to emulate. I might even steal some of their ideas. Hope they don't mind. But I also want my blog to be unique to reflect my ideas for self-motivation and knowledge sharing. So we'll see where I go with this blogging concept.