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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Pure insanity

The last two weeks have been Crazy. Yes, that's Crazy with a capital C. The last three weeks of class before finals week is nuts anyway, but throw a load of family and other obligations in the middle and things have to give. I've been riding to work except two days which required large loads of stuff for back-to-back-to-back meetings and appointments.

I did no riding over Memorial Day weekend. The weather was lousy and my entire family save my grandma who is in nursing care was at my parents' place. We had a great time with the sibs and significant others. The second meeting of the cousins was a barrel of fun, too. We barbecued and generally ate enough to feed a small country, which definitely doesn't help the training any.

My colleague with breast cancer just started chemotherapy. She's fighting through and still coming to work, but you can see how much of a toll it's taking on her already. She's got a great support network and we've got her back if she needs us at work.

I did manage to drum up a few donations in the last couple of weeks - thanks everybody, you all rock. I think I'll be eligible to ride with the $250 minimum but I'd really appreciate a few more of you out there to help a few more folks with cancer. Drop by the fundraising site anytime (linked at right :-) ).

Monday, May 19, 2008

Out of the mouths of babes

Today I rode the now fixed gear to work. I had IM soccer after school (one more day!) and came home right away.

The girls were on fire. Big daughter had no nap and was still (miraculously) going strong. Little daughter was moving and shaking. She should be crawling any day - or so the phrase has been for the last I don't know how long. I grabbed a snack and played with big daughter before getting ready for the Monday group ride.

I told big daughter I was going for a bike ride and she immediately asked to go, too. I told her I was sorry but this was a Dadda only bike ride and we would ride together on Thursday. She repeated her request and I had to restate our deal for Thursday. After I got dressed and went to say goodbye to the girls, I walked into the kitchen and said, "All right." Big daughter looked up from her playing long enough to say, "Bye", and that's all there was. I admit I was a bit afraid of a meltdown on departure.

The ride today was a fairly flat 28 miles, giving me 30 miles with the trip to and from the gathering place. I felt lousy after all the riding yesterday but I got going pretty quickly today. It was so different riding the geared bike after spending so much time on the fixed gear yesterday. I'm not used to riding fixed, yet, but I already feel a difference in my pedal stroke. We started pretty fast and one guy and I kept the pace high all the way back into town. He headed home at the city limits and I had a few miles home by myself.

I pulled in a little before 8:00 and big daughter was still up and reading stories. I walked into her room and asked her how dinner was. Instead of replying, she said, "How was your ride, Daddy?" I love that kid. I can't wait to get her pedaling on her own soon.

Don't forget to drop a donation in the bucket for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I'm working on the shirt design and I will include names of friends and family of donors on the back.

Monday's ride stats:
29.69 mi - 32.3 max - 17.9 avg - 1:39:27 rolling time

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Time flies when you're having fun

I rode to work four of five days the last week. The weather helped and I pulled out the single speed to celebrate. It doesn't have fender mounts so I leave it hanging up for most of the winter.

Jana and I hit the local evening family ride for the first time this season on Thursday. We cranked through the 12 miles in about 45 minutes. Not too bad for my being a little out of shape and the weather being a lot hot.

Yesterday was spent busting my hump around the house to welcome spring. I did some repairs on the sprinklers and the gazebo cover. I put up the cover and the shade tarp (thanks, Gramps!) so our outdoor living room was ready to enjoy with the nice spring weather. The girls love being outside so that was a bit of an essential thing to do. I put together the micro-drip sprinkler system in the garden. I needed a few things to complete those tasks so I rode to Lowe's, the long way, of course, to pick up the needed supplies. It wasn't a terribly long ride, but I did get in about 7 or 8 miles in spite of all the work around the house.

Today I rode 33 miles as the trailer for the Iris Festival Half Marathon. It was fun seeing and making friends. I found it to be a challenging ride since I flipped my rear wheel so it was a fixed-gear. I have muscles angry with me right now I'm not sure I knew I had. Even though it was not a huge number of miles, being on the bike for three and a half hours was a good test for putting in some serious distance.

The intramural soccer program draws to a close this Wednesday and I am looking forward to having my afternoons back. My students are getting the warm-weather fidgets and the end-of-the-year uh-ohs. I really need to help some of them after school or they won't make it.

This week I talked with my wife and we decided to pay forward some of my mad money for the month. I've mentioned the Fat Cyclist before and his wife was recently diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Their family is going to have some real needs in the immediate future so we contributed a little to the WIN Susan Nelson Fund. Read a little of his blog. If the spirit moves you, I encourage you to do the same.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It's Bike to Work Week

In all the hubbub leading to LIVESTRONG Day, it escaped me that it's the League of American Bicyclists' annual Bike to Work Week this week. I was a bad commuter today, but I had to drop off my front wheel from my favorite bike for a little work and go to my barber.

The wheel is out of true and is giving me a little feedback on rides along with nicking the sensor causing quiet clicking from the front fork on rides. I'm hoping the guys at the local shop can work their magic and get me rolling again because if they can't, it'll be another one in the books for expensive stupid mistakes. You see, like almost every wheelset I have ever had, this one had at least one wheel munched by my own stupidity.

Let's begin with my first geared bike, an old Trek 820 mountain bike. I bought it cheap from a friend in high school who was run over by a van and couldn't ride for quite a while. It served me well though an STP and many, many miles around the Willamette Valley. I rode that thing all over until I finally got a job in college and could afford a new, better-fitting mountain bike. After a training ride for the STP, I park my bike along a curb in the church parking lot, only to have the support van driver back over it, folding the rear wheel. Probably should have pulled it into the grass.

My second mountain bike, a Barracuda A2B, was a fun ride. It was small and agile, handled trails well and served as my first commuter. Problem with it was it stunk to ride it for long distances. It was just a bit small along the top tube for any kind of distance on the road. I used it to go back and forth to my old high school to borrow my parents' car for my part time job in college. (Thanks for loaning me the car!) I upgraded that bike as often as I could, putting v-brakes on it in one upgrade. I touched the brakes on the wet track at the school and folded the rear wheel like a cheap tent. Tacos are great for dinner, bad for bike wheels. I had to carry the bike the rest of the way to pick up the car and all the back to my dorm that day. My next paycheck went to a new upgrade - double-wall rims.

My first road bike, a '98 Klein Stage, was a used purchase shortly after I got married. (Thanks, honey!) I bought it used and rode it all over, rejuvenating my joy in the long distance ride. It carried me through the first LIVESTRONG Ride in 2005, almost took me through the first LIVESTRONG Challenge in 2006 save for a broken screw two days before the ride and is now a converted single speed. One trip to the in-laws' house, I put the front wheel in a fork mount on the car rack. Apparently, I didn't tighten the quick release well enough and their are no lawyer tabs on the old Yakima fork mounts. Somewhere between Salem and Portland, my front wheel left the rack. I had to buy a new front wheel in Olympia so I could ride. I started to have a bit of trouble with the rear wheel staying true after a couple of years. In 2005, I got a new Bontrager wheelset to replace the rear wheel and match it to the front.

I had upgraded the Stage a little, of course, and pulled its parts for the new-to-me Klein Aura XV. I got a the frame last Christmas off eBay along with a new crank. I built the bike up, rebuilding the bearings and filling in parts I didn't have. I love the ride, probably in part because I built it myself. On occasion I ride across the ferry and through the west hills to my parents' house and meet the girls over there for a little grandparent time. One time, I showered up over there and was going to toss the bike on the rack for the trip home. Learning from the previous lesson, I put the front wheel in the car. Only it didn't make it into the car before I got caught up getting the girls into their car seats. As the car rolled down the hill the front wheel got the business end of the car's rear wheel. Fortunately, it was only a small section caught under the wheel, but I think I'll be fighting with it to keep it true for the rest of its life.

Here's to hoping we can get a true front wheel tomorrow.

50% Off LIVESTRONG Challenge Registration Today

Go to the LIVESTRONG Challenge website and use the discount code LSDAY08.

Remember to join the Celtic Connection!

Monday, May 12, 2008

LIVESTRONG Day is tomorrow!

The weekend was devoted to Mom(s) so riding didn't happen.

Friday after school, I rented a tiller to get our little garden plot ready and spent a couple of hours getting everything ground up.

Saturday was spent adding soil to our garden, carting and spreading 2 yards of bark, and framing the now raised garden bed to keep our two-legged and four-legged cohabitants out. Graciously, Grandpa and Grandma provided assistance in the process and allowed me to work pretty solid all day while Mom got to go to a bridal shower and work out.

Sunday morning, we hosted breakfast for my two favorite Moms in the whole world and had my sister join us. She's getting married in August and has loads to do, so she, my wife and my mom went to get them registered and discuss plans, leaving Grandpa and I with the squirts. They got back late so I wasn't able to pull the quick afternoon ride.

With no long ride over the weekend, I made a commitment to hit the local Monday group ride after school and refereeing soccer. This meant little time with the girls this evening, but I've got to get some miles in. The Challenge is less than two months aways.

The ride was a quick, 28-mile loop in the opposite direction I normally go. I grabbed on to the two fast guys and hung on the whole way. I'm nowhere near as fit as I was last summer, but I hung in. It felt good to go fast.

In honor of LIVESTRONG Day tomorrow, I wore my Challenge jersey and carried my newly arrived bright pink FatCyclist.com water bottle from TwinSix. If you haven't heard, Susan, Fatty's wife, has taken a turn for the worst. The eloquence Fatty has in sharing his family's trials through cancer treatment is a must read. I certainly can't do his writing justice. It's time to find a way to eliminate cancer so no family has to go through what the Nelson family is experience.

Cyclometer stats: 29.77 mi -33.5 max - 18.9 avg - 1:34:24 rolling time

Friday, May 9, 2008

Another week in the books

The last five days have been hectic.

Monday was a no-ride day because I was running (yes, literally) from my classroom to the gym for intramural soccer then to my alma mater for a meeting. Unfortunately, sometimes a car is faster.

Tuesday was a track meet after school and it was long. Sprinters can be so slow sometimes. We had ten heats of the short sprints and they all took their sweet time between heats getting their blocks set.

Wednesday and Thursday afternoons were occupied with more IM soccer. It's great to get kids involved in activities when they wouldn't normally connect with the greater school community. I was really missing our third ref those two days.

Friday brought a beautiful day and the sudden inspiration to rent a tiller and get the garden ready for planting. My shoulders and hands are still vibrating.

I rode to work Tuesday through Friday. My wife and the girls surprised me on Thursday at the soccer games so I went home with them after the game. I was happy I chose to ride when the car parked in the space next to mine was stolen during school and a car parked a little further down the row was broken into this week.

I've got my first two donations for this year's Challenge and I'm hoping to bring in donations and team members on LIVESTRONG Day.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Quick out and back

With two little girls, ages 2 and almost 1, time is at a premium and it was never more evident than today. My wife took our youngest to church while big girl and I played at home. We played on the slide. We played with the dog. We played in little sister's room. We played in the garage. And we missed lunch. Mom was not pleased.

I prepped the bike to while soccer balls were holding big girl's attention and ran to get changed before Mom got home. As soon as Mom and little sis got home, I left. The highwheeler ride left from an elementary school about 3 miles from home today at 1:30. It was a simple straight shot to Silverton and back, out one road, in on the next road north. I tried to make short work of it as Mom wanted to go run then go to a class at the gym.

I rolled into the driveway, tagged Mom and off she went. The girls and I had snack and played until Mom came home. Little one was running snotty and warm while big one is just running snotty, so it may be a little interesting this week.

I will say, for not getting near enough ride time, today's ride felt great. I won't be riding tomorrow due to the insane schedule that will have me hopping all over town. It's probably good to have a forced rest day.

Cyclometer stats: 30.93 mi - 30.7 Max - 16.9 avg - 1:49:20 rolling time

Never ride with a wet chamois...

I left the house a little late yesterday and watched the thunderheads rolling east. My target was to go north then east to Mt. Angel and Scotts Mills to put in some hill work. As I got to the end of my usual road out of town, the drops started. I threw on my vest and knee warmers and kept on going, thinking to myself I may have to adjust the plan a little. I turned onto the east-running road and the sporadic drops became a little stronger until I rolled right under the cell. I got soaked at about mile 18 into a 51-mile ride.

I adjusted my route, watching the cells above and veered south and east until I got to the old familiar territory east of our old house and knew I could get some hills. I hit one more cell rolling toward the county jail and found nothing but dry pavement back in the neighborhood. It was a good, clear-the-head ride.

As soon as I got into the driveway, I turned on the faucet and washed off the grit accumulated from the country roads, figuring I'm already soaked, why not? I pulled off my shoes to reveal the classic road grit line on the socks, scrubbed the bike and went in for a warm shower. As the warm water trickled down my back I couldn't help but wonder what that burning sensation on the hindquarters was. Needless to say I figured it out. Yeah, next time there is a chance of rain, I'm putting on the fenders.

HR Monitor of questionable accuracy: 3:16:55 - 2541 Cal - 35% Fat - Max 216 - Avg 150 -2:39:34 In Zone

Cyclometer stats: 51.46 mi - 37.8 max - 16.9 avg - 3:02:36 rolling time

Friday, May 2, 2008

Good news and sad news

I rode to work twice this week and carpooled with my wife the other three days. She subbed in the building and it was fun to go to work with her every morning - even if we're so busy during the day we don't see each other.

The week seemed long and I was happy to go two wheels today. After school, some of my colleagues met up at a local brewpub for a little happy hour social hour. The brewpub is a few miles from school so I ended up riding about 13 miles today, all in khakis and an aloha shirt.

One of the teachers at my school has a daughter in-law who had surgery to remove an operable portion of a brain tumor and do some work in her skull to allow the removal of a shunt for cerebrospinal fluid. She came out of anesthesia fine and completed a complex math problem to demonstrate to her husband her cognitive abilities are still intact. The road is long for her family and every victory, no matter how small, brings hope.

I read several blogs and news feeds every morning over a bowl of Special K Red Berries and milk. I dropped the spoon and read. And read. And read. I'll let you read for yourself. I've read the Fat Cyclist blog for a few months now and his post last night really got me. Based on the comments, it got quite a few others as well.

Cancer is such a cruel and indiscriminate attacker. I truly hope the work of all of us can help put an end to cancer's killer reign.