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Monday, August 2, 2010

One Step Back...Two Steps Forward

That is truly the way my summer is going with respect to cycling. Last week was good...74 miles over four days, but more importantly my cycling legs are coming back. Another good thing about last week was that our spell of hot and humid weather was finally broken and that can make a world of difference to someone like myself desperately trying to get into riding shape at mid-season. Unfortunately, my history of nagging injuries leaves me no choice but to gradually build up my miles...otherwise I risk ignoring painful lessons from the past!

My weekly stats are up-to date in the side-bar on the right, including my weight. :)

Thanks to all those who left words of encouragement on my last couple of helps, it really does.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

My goal last week was 72 miles. I accomplished goose eggs.

You don't want to hear the me.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weekly Stats...

...are updated in the right side-bar

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Pathetic Factoid

I worked yesterday...came home late (25 minute delay on train)...and still went out for a 21 mile ride. Woo hoo!! My first after work ride in over 10 months.

I am sure this is my shortest post ever. :-)

Monday, July 12, 2010

5 Out of 9

Over the last 9 days I managed to ride on 5 days, but the thing about the last 9 days is that I was on vacation. Can I maintain a routine riding schedule heading into this first week back from work? That's the question on my mind...the one that will be answered over the next couple of weeks. Obviously I failed to accomplish that during the Spring riding what will I do differently this time? Riding in the early morning will be key I believe...yet that is my biggest hurdle to overcome as I'm simply not a morning person. Can anyone help me with tips for rising early (other than go to bed early...I know that one!)? I'm all ears.

BTW, on the right side bar with my weekly stats, ??? = afraid to step on scale! But I will one of these days.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

He Rides Again...Slowly!

Yup, you read that correctly. I rode my bike this weekend...slowly, but twice!

Saturday I got in 16.5 miles @ 14.2 mph...Sunday I rode 20.9 @ 13.8 mph. Boy was it hot.

It's a fresh start. We'll see what I can do with it.

Friday, May 28, 2010


If I have any followers left, this is just a note to let you know I'm still alive and kicking. I'm not even sure how I got off-track with my riding, but I (life!) got in the way yet again. I know I'm not the only one who suffers from this affliction...if only a day was longer.

Hope to ride this weekend and get back to blogging.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

RoadID Giveaway

Run on over to KC's blog (140 Point 6 Miles). She's running a contest to win a RoadID bracelet. I've been meaning to order one so figured I'd enter the contest. If I don't win one I'll surely order one...and when I get it I'll post about it here!

Road ID gathered its group of brand ambassadors (Levi Leipheimer, Bob Roll, Dean Karnazes, Craig Alexander, Liz Hatch and Scott Nydam) to talk about their individual sports, the inherent dangers of each, and the roll that Road ID plays in being safe.

Here's the video:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Speedplay Pedals

I may have only mentioned it a couple of times if at all here on the blog, but I'm a huge fan of Speedplay pedals. I credit them with saving my knees and allowing me to continue to ride big miles (relative I know, but at least for me).

Bike Noob recently posted a nice piece on Speedplays (Speedplay Pedals - Are They For You) in response to friendly recommendations he received when he was dealing with severe knee pain. Given my view on Speedplay pedals, I left a lengthy comment on his post as a result of reading through the comments and seeing what I thought were a few misconceptions floating around concerning these pedals. I am going to re-post my comments here.

I’ve weighed in before on Speedplay pedals but have no interest in converting others to switch…if you like the pedals you have I’d say stick with them. That being said, Speedplays work for me and I have what I like to call the perfect storm of bad knee conditions: ITB friction syndrome (proper stretching is the key to helping with this one), damage from previously misaligned cleats, a touch of arthritis, and mild chondromalacia (severe if I don’t get my base miles in on the small chainring). I was at my wits end about 10 years ago when the chronic pain became impossible to manage and the only solution outside of possible surgery was to stop riding. Enter Speedplays and result – my knee problems are mostly history. Sure I still deal with aches and pains, but the key is they are now very manageable. So yes, Speedplays work for me and I like to tell others all about them. :-)

With that in mind, there still seems to be a lot of misconceptions concerning Speedplays and I see them right here in the comments. A few need to be addressed:

1. Platform size and stability: the Speedplay platform is about the same size or larger than most other pedals…seriously! The key here is the unique design of the pedal system where the “platform” is designed into the cleat portion of the system. So if you’re looking at the lollipop-shaped pedals and asking how that can be stable, your logic is correct but you’re only considering one part of the pedal system…in this case, the wrong one. I find them to be quite stable and have never experienced the rocking sensation mentioned in Noob’s post (mine are old X/3s…now X/5s…so maybe that’s why). I’m in the market for a new pair…if those have the rocking sensation at least I know there is a solution.

2. Stack height: folks seem to be equating stack height with cornering clearance. It has nothing to do with cornering clearance. Stack height is the distance between the center of the spindle and the top of the cleat, and dictates the amount of distance between the bottom of your foot and the pedal’s spindle. Stack height affects pedaling efficiency, not cornering. Apparently, one can pedal more efficiently the closer their foot is to the spindle…meaning less stack height is better. Speedplays have relatively little stack height. The superior cornering clearance comes from the narrow profile of the pedal compared with others.

3. Additional maintenance: I’ve done nothing, and I mean nothing, to my Speedplays except one exchange of cleats over a 10 year period and they continue to work fine. I admit, I don’t walk around in them a lot. If I planned to, I would buy the cleat covers. Some of my riding buddies have also mentioned additional maintenance as a reason to shy away from Speedplays, but I just don’t find that to be a compelling reason given my experience with them.

4. Dual-sided entry: no misconceptions on this feature, just surprised that no one mentioned it as a benefit. No fumbling around with the pedal to get it on the right side to engage the cleat…just place your foot on the pedal, push and you’re locked in. Very simple in and out.

For those of you not familiar with the Bike Noob blog, I urge you to check it out. He always posts on interesting aspects of the cycling world with well written pieces and always soliciting the views of others. As a result, the comments are also well worth reading. Plus he utilizes a couple of guest bloggers who write about their cycling experiences to keep things even more topical and interesting. Keep up the good work Ray.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sunrise...Sunset, Sunrise...Sunset

Here are some cool geeky sun charts I just found at:

The chart below shows sunrise, sunset, dawn and dusk times for the whole year for Providence, RI. Start of dawn and end of dusk times are based on the definition of "civil twilight".

The next chart is a sun path diagram, which is a visualization of the sun's path through the sky. This path is formed by plotting azimuth (left-right) and elevation (up-down) angles of the sun in a given day to a diagram.

To find out the position azimuth = 60, elevation = 30, for example, imagine standing at the center of the diagram heading to the true north. To find the azimuth angle 60, you must turn 60 degrees to the right. Now the altitude angle 30 can be located by raising your head 30 degrees from the horizon.

It can be seen from the orange line on the diagram (Sun's path today, 3/18/10) that the sun rises from the East (azimuth = 90) in Providence at 06:52. Sunset happens at 18:56 when the sun is in the West (azimuth = 270). The elevation angle is approximately 48 degrees at noon.

Saturday, 3/20 is the Vernal Equinox...better known as the first day of Spring. So what is an equinox? Funny you should ask.

Far from being an arbitrary indicator of the changing seasons, March 20 is significant for astronomical reasons. On March 20, 2010, at precisely 1:32 P.M. EDT , the Sun will cross directly over the Earth's equator. This moment is known as the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. Translated literally, equinox means "equal night." Because the sun is positioned above the equator, day and night are about equal in length all over the world during the equinoxes.

And that is your moment of GEEK, brought to you by TOTW!

Happy Saint Patty Day!!

Celebrated with a 24 mile ride after work (just love that DST!!!) followed by a good dinner of corned beef and cabbage...and a few more veggies to make it a nice hearty meal. Yum

I even wore green today. :-)

Hope everyone had a grand time being Irish for a day...or whooping it up if you happen to be Irish!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Walking the Talk

At least for today that is!

Today was the typical type of day on which I usually have a hard time motivating myself to ride. It was cloudy, cold (48F at ride time) and threatening to rain. Most of the time I find a nice convenient excuse to do something else. But not I rode.

The difference today was the fact that I was working from home and HAD a decent window of opportunity to ride. With rain on the horizon for the next 4 days it wasn't a difficult decision to make. I didn't want goose-eggs as my entry for Week 2 of my base log. It's going to be hard enough hitting targets this month with the always potentially crappy New England weather in play.

Next week we'll be on DST, which should give me more flexibility to ride and make after work rides doable with a little planning (i.e., getting out of the office early :)).

Anyway, today it was 25.6 miles at a sickening 14.4 mph pace...argh! Thirty minutes after I got home it was raining...a cold, nasty type of rain.

Base Training Plan

In my last post I mentioned my new base training plan, so here it is.
I said it was a 12 week plan, but it's really 16 weeks and will take me well into June. That's a long time for building a base but that's by design. It's basically my adaptation of a block training plan modified to address my time-crunched lifestyle and need for lots of recovery.

Key elements of the plan consist of:
  • Four 4-week blocks each peaking in the 3rd week followed by a recovery week.
  • Only 3 rides per week...meaning plenty of recovery time (down time or time for other activities)
  • Longer rides (for me at least...particularly for the Spring season)
  • More flexibility for scheduling rides
If I follow this plan, I'll end up with close to my total mileage for all of last year by the end of June. So no doubt, there is a lot of cycling involved. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

An Offer Too Good To Refuse...

...So I didn't.

I'm talking about this past weekend's weather of course. Full sunshine with temperatures in the mid-50s...10-15 degrees above normal for this time of year. The only blemish was a persistent northwesterly wind, but who's looking for perfection this time of year.

With these great conditions, my 2010 riding season has commenced.

On Saturday, I logged an easy 21 miles for my 1st complete ride of the year. Easy that is until I inadvertently picked-up a pair of lovely lead weights. You know, the kind you wear around your legs! I have to presume they were lost and looking for a new home. So if you missing some lead weights, I have them. I'll carry them around for a few more rides before I shed them…hopefully, someone else will claim them first. Twenty-one miles was most likely the max I had in me given my long 6 months out of the saddle. I know this because my quads started cramping at mile 20 when I stood on the pedals…I can't remember the last time I had any leg cramps while riding.

Sunday brought another beautiful day and a leisurely ride of 17 miles...lead weights and all. No one claimed them…bummer.

I'll be recording my basic weekly ride stats over on the right sidebar again. So a quick check there will tell if I'm riding or not.

As a time-crunched cyclist, I'm changing my plan of attack for this riding season. While many have completed or are nearing completion of their base miles, I'm just starting mine. My base plan is to ride fewer but longer rides this Spring. So for the next 12 weeks I'll generally be riding 3 times per week while working my way up to 50 mile rides. There will be little focus on speed during this period, while a lot of attention will be placed on proper recovery. One thing that happened last year, among a few that I would rather not repeat, was chronically sore quadriceps. I'm hoping I can manage that with fewer riding days and more rest days. Once my base miles are complete I hope to transition from rest days to active recovery days to get more rides in.

We'll see how it goes. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Most Famous Weather Prognosticator

Punxsutawney Phil has predicted 6 more weeks of winter!

Not the news this cyclist wanted to hear today...bummer. :)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Registration for 2010 Harpoon B2B

I admit it...the last two weeks have been depressing for me.

After my accident, I had a feeling that by the time I was all healed a second wave of bitterly cold winter would have its grip on New England. So here I sit today...about 90% healed...and the temperature outside is barely in the 20s with the 5-day forecast showing daily high temperatures barley in the 30s. Bummer, I just knew that would happen.

But what really is a bummer was trying to register for the extremely popular 2010 Harpoon B2B bike ride. I posted about this event last year (didn't ride it...just wrote about wanting to). The open registration was on Tuesday, 1/19, and the word on the street is that the open slots filled up in 3 minutes. Yes, I wrote that correctly...3 freakin minutes! Needless to say, I was not able to register.

The main problem with registering for this ride is that alumni get to register first for a whole week leading up to the start of the open registration. So basically, if you haven't participated in the ride in the past, you're pretty much locked out (although I do understand that registrations are transferable). Seems to me that this event is truly an exclusive club.

Here's an uplifting thought...a seed of an idea perhaps. Why not start another brewery to brewery (B2B) ride right here in Southeastern Massachusetts area. A friend of a friend of a blogger type ride! After all, there are three fine craft breweries all within a day's ride of each other in this area. I'm sure they wouldn't mind the publicity...and we all like good beer, right?

For reference purposes, the 3 micro-breweries are:

Coastal Extreme Brewing Company - Middletown, RI
Just Beer Brewing Company (formerly Buzzard's Bay Brewing Co.) - Westport, MA
Mayflower Brewing Company - Plymouth, MA

Hmm, a Mayflower Porter sounds good right about now!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bad Karma?

Saturday was a beautiful mid-winter day...temps in the wind. Perfect day for my first ride of 2010, so I set out on my fixie for what would be about an 18 mile ride. Oh how I wish the ride had been as perfect as the day!

What happened? No more than 2.5 miles into this ride I had words with a motorist as I carefully (I thought) entered a T intersection to make a left hand turn. I had come to a complete stop and proceeded when I thought it was safe to go. Apparently I did not see an oncoming car to the right who came to a stop despite my avoidance maneuver and felt the need to call me out. The incident did not escalate beyond the initial exchange of words, but as I pedaled away I couldn't help but think that the whole incident could have been avoided if I had been more careful. It really bothered me that I had allowed myself to lose my temper on this very first ride of 2010. Did I give myself bad karma? You tell me.

A few miles later I'm on a slight downhill stretch of road trying to keep my cadence under control and then, crack...thunk!! My natural inclination was to stop pedaling but on a fixed gear bike that means you get lifted off the seat. Guess what? No seat! The saddle had snapped off the seat post!!!!! Luckily for me there was no traffic passing by when this occurred and I was able to ditch my bike into the snow on a nearby front lawn.

I feel real lucky to walk away from this accident mostly unscathed except for a deep contusion on my inner thigh where I initially landed on the broken seat post. It could have been a LOT less than an inch if you know what I mean!

Now I have a new cycling goal for 2010...try to maximize good karma! I want to have a large reservoir of good karma in reserve for the rest of my cycling days!!

The bike, post accident:

The saddle with broken post:

The bib knickers with punture hole:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Looking Back on 2009

In thinking about 2009 only one word comes to mind - DISAPPOINTING.

First, the the cycling season started off slow given a combination of bad weather, work commitments involving travel away from the area, and of course my darn daily commute into Boston. Heading into summer things started turning around as I got into a nice training groove. Then a minor bump in the road - I started a home improvement project that evolved (don't they always?). That ate into my riding time...especially on Saturday mornings, which was the only time my expert help (FIL) was available to assist! Finally, my cycling for the year came to a screeching halt around Labor Day as I fought through a couple of health issues that conspired to keep me off the saddle. And off the saddle I needed to be as, shall I say, saddle interface issues seemed the likely cause of the health problems. Despite all this, I still wanted to ride in the NBW's TFCE century ride on September 13 and had my doctor's clearance to do so. Unfortunately, with a minor flare-up of symptoms the day before the ride I couldn't face 100 miles in the saddle and decided it was simply time to heal. So essentially just as I was peaking, I stopped riding! Very disappointing to say the least!

As far a specific goals I set, another word comes to mind concerning my ability to attain these goals - PATHETIC! Not being able to double my 2008 miles does not bother me terribly as this was a lofty and probably unwise goal to set. The same thing can be said about trying to double my number of riding days. More bothersome to me was my continuing inability to establish an early morning riding routine, not being able to lose weight, not finding time to ride with friends, and not joining the NBW. The only goal I met was to increase the average length of my rides. On this goal I was able to increase my average ride distance from 21 miles in 2008 to 25 miles in 2009. This of course is a direct reflection of riding slightly more miles in 2009 in slightly LESS days (71 in 2009 vs. 78 in 2008).

The following are tabular and graphical depictions of my 2009 riding season.

Ride days and miles summary table:

Missed days are based on a "loose" training schedule, NOT all days that are available to ride. Clearly, doubling the number of days I ride appears to be an attainable goal.

Miles by month:

Miles by week:

I need to think more about specific "training" goals for 2010, but at a minimum, I consider all of my goals for 2009 to be the general goals I'll be shooting for again this year. However, losing weight needs to be my top priority.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bike Noob had an interesting post on Tuesday: Bikewise – A Potentially Valuable Resource

This morning, thanks to a link from An Old Guy on Two Wheels, I came across a web site called Bikewise. This isn’t your usual biking advocacy, biking avocation site. It’s all about cataloging bike crashes, hazards, and thefts to make biking safer. According to the site, “It’s estimated that 75% or more of all crashes go unreported. We believe that by gathering detailed information on how and why crashes happen, we’ll be able to ride smarter.”

Bikewise is based in the Seattle area, but accepts crash reports from all over the country. The biker submitting the report is asked to include information about the circumstances of the crash, road and weather conditions, and perhaps most importantly, lessons learned from the crash.

I agree that collecting data on how and why crashes happen will lead to smarter riding.

I work for a large A&E firm with a large construction division. In my own work over half my projects are related to hazardous waste sites while the remainder are typically in an industrial setting. Several years ago our CEO decided to make safety the company's top priority. The goal: to lead our industry in safety. They implemented a series of mandatory training programs and required monthly safety reporting along with project financials. An expansive incident reporting system was rolled out, and quite frankly, they beat us over the head with safety information on almost a daily basis. At the time, many of us were non-believers. We had to be brought along kicking and dragging our feet. But you know what? The collection of data on safety incidents and near misses, and the formal development of lessons learned, has lead to a safety ethic that I do believe is tops in our industry. The last few years we have ranked higher in safety than most of our has saved us money by driving our insurance rates down...and it has DIRECTLY resulted in the company winning several major new corporate contracts. Most of all, we now work smarter and safer than we ever have before. The KEY to making this happen, beyond the CEO's mandate, was the collection and analysis of data on all the types of incidents that were occurring. It worked!

Folks can see an example of how the site works by reading Bike Noob's post. Or you can go directly to the Bikewise website.

One more thought. The safety program and reporting of incidents where I work was not voluntary...the Bikewise approach obviously is. Our own personal cycling crash incidents do not occur frequently so participating on Bikewise is not a time-consuming endeavor. But it's a smart one that could pay dividends in the future once enough data is collected.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Casualties of the Economy?

Recently I was surprised to learn of two local bicycling-related establishments that went out of business presumably due to bad economic times. Well, one is loosely cycling-related and still has its doors open but DID stop making its namesake product.

Buzzard’s Bay Brewing Company – Westport, MA

I wanted to pick-up some of their excellent craft-brewed lager beer to bring to my brother-in-law in NJ in a couple of weeks, and when I went to their website to refresh my memory on where the beer is sold I learned they stopped brewing the beers under the Buzzard’s Bay label! That really shocked me…their brews were award winning. Apparently they slipped from brewing 5,000 barrels a year in 2002 to ONLY 100 barrels in 2009. That’s the bad news. The good news is the brewery is still open with a shift in approach to being a contract brewer plus focusing on a new line of small batch American inspired ales made with all domestic ingredients. The new brew will be sold under the label Just Beer. Moby D and John Beere are their first two offerings. I might have to post a review after I try them.

Village Bicycle – Westport, MA

Although I did not frequent this bike shop, this was another shocker for me. Jim Lebelle seemed to have his finger on the pulse of current cycling and lifestyle trends. In addition to the standard bike shop fare, he was offering nutritional products along with diet/fitness plans and last winter had started-up an indoor cycling training center. He ran what I call a progressive bike shop… listening to his customers …bringing in new products...renting bikes…organizing routine shop rides and special events. I have no details on what factors conspired to do him in…presumably it was related to the recession. I only saw online that he posted a closure notice on the store website on Christmas Eve.

That’s the second LBS that I know of in as many years to close its doors. The other one was Epicycle here in North Attleboro (former sister store to East Providence Cycle). Sad.

My blog postings should increase now that I’ve healed and have my mind set on an early start to the 2010 cycling season.