Monday, October 30, 2006

life's balance

today was just an awful day. it started out by me having to get up at 5am to drive my son to the pool. ok, if you must know i was up anyway, and he drove himself to the pool. he only has a permit, so i had to go along to change the songs on the stereo :). i had started a pot of coffee before i left but it was a little too late and wasn't ready before we had to go. i had to sit there in the passenger seat, with nothing to drink and a whole lot of non conversation. i couldn't find anything to play either... none of the songs on my ipod were right for that moment in time. i tried to force the mood by playing some techno [groove armada] but that didn't sit well for a coffee-less forty-something year old. but i played it anyway. which reminds me, i have to get a mega bass for my car, this factory one sucks. anyway, i had to drive back home by myself and just get ready for work. the first stop was the coffee pot... yummy. after one rather large cup, i felt as if my eyes had finally opened up. i could see the rays from the early sun breaking across my neighbors grass [note: my yard is nothing but dirt right now, so i have to use my neighbor's yard for inspiration]. everything seems right for just a moment.

there was nothing really special about the morning, i did everything as usual: played on the computer, took a shower, shaved... bunch of other stuff. packed my cloths in my panniers and i was off.

when i got close to work i rode in front of this elementary school. i was a particularly crowded morning. there were a bunch of parents dropping off their kids and trying to leave the school area. here is a kind of funny thing that happened. i am riding along the road, in the bike lane. right before the intersection, the bike lane ends. i pull out in to traffic [which there is none really]. bear in mind that i am in a school zone so the speed limit is 20 mph. also, the reason the speed limit is so low is so that drivers have time to stop in case a kid doesn't see them... it just keeps everyone honest. i get into a left turn lane behind some five cars or so. the cross traffic is pretty heavy so the line is not moving very fast. in the mean time some cars move in behind me. keep in mind that we are not moving very much at all. when my turn come to turn left i am almost right behind the car in front of me. i know it's kind of illegal, but it keeps me moving through an intersection. so as i am in the middle of my turn... i can hear a woman's voice, "it's not a bike path!" what the heck was that? i looked back and tried to make eye contact of with the idiot who said that. she was a late thirty something year old driving a toyota hybrid. she would not make eye contact. actually another funny thing about this idiot, was that she had to roll down her window to let out this idiopathic spew, . after making her turn she tried to zoom down the street past me, like i was holding her back :) suddenly she realized that the speed limit was still only 20mph. that's when her break lights came on. lol! by the time her car decelerated, the school zone was over. she tried to accelerate again but this time the light ahead, was turning red. that didn't stop her, she just motored right through it. it was pretty funny to see someone so brainless and lost.

work really sucked today. nothing was working, and everything was late. i ended up going home at 10:15PM. around 5 o'clock i was starving. all i had to eat all day was a bowl of top ramen, [does soup really fall under the "eat" catagory?]. around 7 when everyone left, i made another bowl of ramen, and some popcorn. i don't like to make the popcorn when everyone is still around because it just smells up the entire building [that doesn't stop some people]. when i make it after hours, everyone comes in in the morning, and wonders why their office smells like fake butter [maybe it was the cleaning people...i dunno :)]. i was doing ok after all that, but starting to feel kind of gross. a little while later, the family shows up with some food! it was good to have more food, but i think i over did it. i was feeling kind of icky all around. i was actually pretty stuffed but i crammed down the semi-good food on top of the crappy food. i don't think that was a good order, maybe i should have done it the other way around. overall, eating so much turned out to be ok, because i was so stuffed and relaxed that i could only concentrate on the work at hand.

i always hate leaving work so late. it feels weird to be alone in a place that is usually so full of people and noise. it also doesn't help to have the morgue next door. actually it's not the morgue, it's only the coroner office. i heard that they only handle overflow bodies [sorry i don't have any pictures]. if there were ever a major disaster, some 25+ bodies then they will start showing up next door. before i knew that, i used to always try to sneek a peek next door whe they had the shipping doors opened. the only thing i ever saw was a stuffed elk's head..... that's kind of creepy isn't it?!? anyway, i can freak myself out pretty well so i try to not stay past the point when my mind starts to play tricks on me.

i finally got things going after ten, and i started on my late night journey home. the time just changed a couple of days ago, so it would have been dark at 5pm. it felt darker and colder than usual maybe i was still thinking about the morgue :) i was in a little bigger hurry to get home, because i wanted to sleep. i kind of hammered the whole way. all the other cars were pretty polite on the way home, but then again there were only a couple of people out at that time. when i got home i changed, ate again...[my wife made dinner for me, so i wasn't going to pass it up] this just added to the sleepiness.

those of you who commute on bike have experienced the leaving work apprehension. it's that feeling that starts an hour or so before you are about to leave work. it's really dark... cold outside. you know how far it is, you know how cold your going to be, you know how long it's going to take, you know that a warm ride home is just one call away..... but still you do it! i still dont know why i do it other than i some how love suffering. when it is all done, i remember many more rides to work than i do drives to work. and, if you can't remember something then it was wasted time.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

where did you go?

i took my camera out with me today on my adventure. here is my story....

i spent most of the morning cleaning and working on my bike. it has been a very dirty week, full of snow, mud, and heavy last minute chain lubes. note: it is very bad practice to apply lube to a dirty chain, it's kind of like painting a dirty surface. the lube needs to stick to the chain surface, not the dirt chunks. when you are lazy, or can't spare the time to do it right; applying lube to a dirty chain is better than nothing. my bike was so dirty. every part was caked in road grime from the hubs to the break levers.

i just bought this bio-degreaserthat works great for cleaning bike parts. it also makes everything smell like citrus including my clothes and hands. i really love cleaning my bike with this stuff. all the greasy dirty grim that was keeping my chain from moving freely just falls off. after applying this stuff i have to spray my bike with water to wash off the excess. when i'm done, my bike is clean and shiny. i highly recommend this stuff. my bike was so nice afterward. there are very few things in life more pleasing than a clean bike! i am serious, it makes me so happy to see my bike clean. after cleaning my bike i usually put it up on the stand, and walk around it several times admiring it from all directions. i guess i might be a little demented, if this ranks on my list of favorite things :)

while i was working on my bike, i decided to removed those super heavy studded tires. just so you know, one tire almost weighed as much as the whole front wheel and normal tire. also there is so much rubber on these tires that my room where i keep the tires smells like a tire shop.

as you can guess i was pretty excited to go out for a ride. i actually had other things to do today, but i was able to justify not doing them [i am very good at that]. so i packed a lunch, some supplies, and a credit card, and i was off. i wanted to head down to a place called hall ranch down in lyons. the ride down there is about 25 miles of road just to the hall ranch trail head. the trail itself is about 10 miles of serious mountain biking. i was thinking about doing just the first part of the trail, because i thought the whole trail may be too difficult, for me and my old bianchi. i would play it by ear, in any case.

i started out from my house and i tried to use the farmers trail in back of my house. i got about 100 yards into the trail and everything quickly turned into sticky-grassy-clay-mud. the mud infiltrated every part of my clean happy bike. in fact the mud was so thick and sticky, that it got jambed up behind the breaks, and actually stopped the wheel from turning. so, like any normal person, i stopped trying to go that way, and walked the bike out the same way i came. i was able to pick out most of the mud that was stopping the wheel from spinning, so i could ride again. i got out of the trail and decided to take the highway out to lyons, [this was going to be about 25 miles]. by the way, my clean bike was only clean for about 5 minutes. i apologized to my bike, because i think he was slightly irritated at me for trying to go that way.

before i started out on the highway, i plugged in my ipod and set it to my gomez collection, and started south. i usually don't use music when i go on my adventures, but i had a new gomez album that i hadn't had time to listen to yet, and it was going to be better than listening to cars zooming by. it was an absolutely beautiful fall day. i took so many pictures, including this one of some sun flowers.

when sun flowers are in this stage of their life they give off a little sense of sadness. as i stopped to take this picture, i kind of felt a little like i was looking at a grave yard, or ghost town, or something that was once full of life, and now all life is gone. it was kind of sad yet beautiful at the same time. i can't really explain it, but i guess it's just part of life. i thought it was still just a beautiful thing to see, with all the classic fall colors and the contrasting pale blue sky. i hope my picture give it justice :).

as i was getting closer to lyons, i just couldn't help but stop to enjoy the scenes along the way. it's funny, i've been riding my bikes for years. i really enjoy certain times of the year, but never really talk about the stuff i see and why riding makes me happy. however, since i started my ex-cyclist lifestyle [yes, it's not just a blog], i am able to stop during my rides, and soak in everything around me... good and bad. in the pre-ex-cyclist days, it was all about time and not stopping.

here is another one of the many pictures that i took on this trip:

pretty nice i think. at first i didn't like the power lines in front of the mountains, but then they started to grow on me. we live in a civilization, and power is what keeps us comfortable, it takes power to make the bike and camera that i ride. anyway, think it's a pretty picture. once again, it's just part of life.

when i got to the trail head, there were not too many people there. it looks like the trail wasn't completely dry, and a lot of smart/considerate people decided to not go out and damage the trail today, or else they were out this morning. in any case, i didn't want to do too much damage myself, so i decided that i would just go out and make the call when the trail got too muddy. i unplugged my ear buds and got ready. i actually got pretty far, before i started to feel badly. i did get a few confused looks from people, but it was mostly because i was riding a road bike on this trail. i actually heard one lady tell her partner.."did you see that guy on a road bike?"
most of the mountain bikers that were out today, were pretty lame anyway. only one guy out of twelve actually gave me the right of way when i was going up hill. that is really unacceptable. i am going to start posting signs, or something to explain trail etiquette.

i took a few pictures while on the trail of things that i thought were pretty cool. there was still a bit of snow still on the ground, but mostly in the shady areas. the trail itself was not really covered with snow, but the melted snow was starting to make everything pretty muddy. at first it was just a few small spots, then it became small sections, then it became large sections. before this point, i was doing a pretty good job handling the trail in general. this is a very challenging mountain bike trail even without mud. i can clean it on my mountain bike, but it's usually a good day when that happens. me and my single speed mountain bike have a much harder time cleaning this trail.... but we can do it. so with this bianchi... we could do quite a bit, but still there were sections that i had to put a foot down [completely do able], and there were sections that i didn't want to do, because it may cause too much stress on my rims. then there were sections that my bike geometry just wouldn't allow. these sections were big step-like areas that would catch my chain guard and make an awful sound. on the way down these step-like areas, it just wasn't possible to keep the bike from flipping over. i never flipped it, bat came close a couple of times. all in all i was still pretty impressed with my bianchi.

a pretty cool thing happened on the way back to the trail head. i actually ran into a rattle snake! it is so weird to see a snake this time of year. it must have been hibernating, and some how got disturbed and was out soaking up the sun, trying to get some more energy for rehibernation [caution, made up word][another caution, i know nothing about snakes]. it was crossing the trail, and there was a lady stopping people on the trail so they wouldn't run over it. it was really huge [greater than 3 feet] and greenish color. after the initial shock and wonderment, i finally had the wear-with-all to get my stupid camera out and take a picture of it. unfortunately it had already made it way over to the bushes by the time i had it in the field of view. because of my lame picture, you can't tell how big it actually is. i didn't want to put my hand next to it for comparison purposes. so you'll just have to take my word for it. i hope he gets back to sleep in time :) in the mean time, for the rest of us.... keep your eyes open. you never know when you'll run into a rattle snake.

yes these pictures were taken on the same ride, on the same day. even when i look at this post, it doesn't look like the same ride to me. this trail has a lot of open desert like areas, and some wooded areas. it is probably one of the best trails in boulder county.

i made it back to the trail head, even though i was out of water. i had a 32oz nalgine bottle when i started, but that wasn't enough. i didn't want to eat any of my food, because i thought it was going to be difficult to eat with out watter. besides i wasn't too hungry yet. i wasn't suffering too much since the ride was mostly downhill, and i wasn't working too hard at this point.

after safely getting to the trail head, i headed back down to lyons. btw, the picture at the top of this post is from a bike trail that runs through lyons [i put it at the top of the post because i thought it was the prettiest picture i had]. the bike trail in the picture, is mostly gravel, and meanders along the river. it's a pretty nice ride. there are houses along the trail and a few people were out walking their dogs. the trail was very pretty and flat... it was a very nice section of my ride.

out in the river someone made these rock structures, which were not really neat or anything, but they were unquestionably attention getter's. if you are not paying attention, they kind of look like sculptures of people, especially the big one in the center.

i stopped at a gas station in lyons to get something to drink and i actually founds some great bargains. they had power aid on sale two for two dollars. i know that any supermarket in the city, will have a much better deal, even with their regular prices, but for a gas station in a small mountain town... 2 for 2 was a great deal. oh! and i also bought two king sized almond snickers. just in case you haven't tried the almond snickers, they are the best candy bar ever. oops, did i just call it a "candy bar"? i meant, energy bar! i've kind of gotten into a habit of buying one at the end of my adventures, so i was over joyed when i found them one sale, for 2 for 2. good thing i had my panniers, because this would have been difficult to carry with just my jersey pockets.

so i packed up my food and drinks, fired up my ipod, and started heading back home. it''s been a long day and i really wasn't too excited about the long highway ride back home. i had a big shoulder to ride on, so i sat up reached into my panniers and started eating my food i had packed. it was really cool. i just just reach back pull out my burrito and start eating it while i ride. most cyclist will snack on an energy bar or energy goo while they are riding.... an ex-cyclist will snack on a burrito and chips, while he's riding :). i was pretty proud of myself for a while. shortly after i finished my burrito... i developed a really bad side ache :(. it didn't last long, but it made for a pretty uncomfortable few miles.

after the pain went away i was heading back home on the highway, i was still about 8 mile from home when i noticed these stupid birds flying over those dead sunflowers. there were so many of them, and they were flying in this really cool helix formation, it looked so neat, that i stopped to take a picture. right when i got my camera out, they all landed... and there was no picture to take. i waited for a few minutes, but they never flew in formation again. i did take a picture of some of the birds taking off... but it doesn't look impressive [i will send it to you if you ask].

as i was putting away my camera, a super hero flew by on his lightweight, carbon "bike". i tried to not think about it, but couldn't help to get that old feeling that i had to show him... i guess i am kind of like a dog and a stick. i can be all calm and normal, but if you show me a stick my ears will perk up and i suddenly nothing else will matter. i wasn't going to chase him, but he wasn't getting too far away, and with every hill i was getting closer and closer. i ended up chasing him for quite a while. i would get really close on each hill but i would loose distance with the flats and downhills. this went on for about 5 mile until i finally caught him. i really didn't want to catch him, because if you catch someone you either have to pass them, or make friends and ride along side them. it was really awkward, i didn't want to make friends, nor did i want to pass him, because i would have to stay infront of him. frankly i was already on the edge, and couldn't wait to stop. i decided to pass him, but right after i passed him he turned off another direction. it took everything out of me just to catch him. my legs are so sore right now. i'll bet tomorrow, they are even worse. but i beat him!!! [i really have to stop competing].

after he turned off i could rest... and rest i did. i just idled back home.

it was such an awesome day. here is my final picture:

feel free to use it as you desktop :)

ride stats: 50 miles of road. 8 miles of dirt rock and mud. 4-5 hours.

unable to decide

if i should remove my snow tires on my bike or not. it looks like it may snow on tuesday, but probably not enough to warrant me keeping the tires on. i really want to go for a ride today, but those snow tires are just way too heavy, and besides i may wear them out. maybe i'll put them on my old rims... if i can straighten them out.

Friday, October 27, 2006

it's ok to post comments again :)

i accidentally had it so only blogspot members could post comments..... now that isn't fair is it?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

one headlight

this morning when i woke up i had no idea what the weather was going to be like. i've been really uninformed since i started boycotting all major networks for their heavy bias towards all things i hate. i just can't stand them. fortunantly i am very resourceful and i've been getting my weather reports from coworkers and eves dropping on idle super market conversations.... i usually over hear crap like, "it's going to snow tomorrow"... then the other person usually says, "really?" [because it's september, or something], and then the other guys says, "well... up on the mountains". so back to my story, for this morning, i didn't any warnings and i was completely surprised... but completely happy.

if i was more observant i would have noticed that list night the wind was blowing from the north... in fact it provided me with a very awesome tail wind. some might argue with me, but it doesn't really do much good to know the weather ahead of time. at least when you don't care, it doesn't matter:) what would i have done anyway? lay out my clothes the night before? actually ... never mind, i've done that before, it kind of worked out pretty nicely :).

too bad i didn't get my new studded tires yet. i was a little disappointed but it wasn't going to ruin my day. alex had just left the house when i opened the front door to wish him well at school... when i looked down i saw a package from peter white cycles! i was so excited i don't think i even finished my good by to alex. it was something like.. "have a n...." poor kid, i think he'll get over it. my new tires were here and it was snowing!
i picked up the box [in retrospect, that box was pretty heavy] and ran over to the tire assembly room. i brought my wheels in, and changed the tires over. it didn't take long even though i was super careful to not pinch the tube. these tires were tough, i had to use my best tire iron to put them over the rim. these tires were huge. i'll bet that with a little work, i could fit them over the other tires. for now i just put them on. i spent the next couple of hours getting all of my clothes together.

the clothing i chose was all wrong. i kind of dressed for skiing. i wore my ski jacket and my lobster claws, and for the legs and feet, i wore shorts with .... lycra tights underneath... yep, back to lycra :( you'll be happy to know that i was really sorry i wore them because they didn't help very much. my legs were freezing. my shoes were these old shimano bike shoes.... oops!

i had to run out and get my shoes from the garage and put them next to the heater vent. that would have really sucked tomorrow, putting on icy cold shoes

i thought i was pretty well dressed, when i left the house. it felt like the snow was pretty dry and the ground was pretty nice for my studded tires. i had my wife take a picture of me riding down the street. that's the picture at the top of the post.

speaking of my wife, she is usually pretty quiet about my adventures. she never tries to stop me or anything... until this morning. she said, "i really don't think it;s a good idea". i didn't know what to say, because i know i was going to do it no matter what. i guess i have a lot of juvenile tendencies, i'm not really a "risk taker" but sometimes i have a different perspective than most people, on what is sensible. i think that i am just about ready to out grow that :)

as soon as i left out development, and got out on the main road, it was so wet! someone, put all these chemical out on the road and the snow was just a continuous melted puddle of dirty water. my new tires were splashing so much water on me, but tit was nothing compared to the water that the cars were splashing on me. it was crazy, every car was throwing these huge rooster tails of dirty water from their tires to :( dirty old me. my shoes and chins were getting wet from me, the upper half of me was getting dirty and wet from the cars, and the inside was getting wet from me pedalling so damn hard, because these tires weighed more than my bike!

so what is wet on the bottom, muddy on the outside, and stinky on the inside? me at work this morning. when i got to work, my cube looked like a low income yard sale. dirty wet clothes hanging over the garbage can, and chair backs, cube walls and spare computers. nothing was overlooked as a potential drying rack. unfortunantly, everything didn't perform the same, and at the end of the day i was stuck with wet socks, wet shoes, and wet lycra tights. i don't know if you have ever wore wet lycra tights, but it feels like wet refrigerated metal wraps! it was so amazing. these stupid things felt exactly as they did this morning when i was out in the cold. there didn't seem to be any temperature change in these even though they spent the whole day in the warm office... freaking amazing.

to be continued....

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

on the way....

i don't have much to say tonight. the night was beautiful, once again. this is kind of what it looks like only my camera is making things a little darker than it was.

Monday, October 23, 2006

here is a picture from my ride home today.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

man makes fire!

when i got back from my little adventure today, i really felt like a fire. that's all i could think about when i got home. after dinner, the boys and i gathered up all this firewood that i bought years ago, but somehow it got scattered all over the yard, and garage, and used of various bike ramps, and box stands.. etc. we got all the wood together, and i tried to show the kids how to start a fire... the trouble is, that i was never very good at starting fires. luckily, i had been watching survivor man and had some new skills to try, i made all these little wood shavings and small kindling wood pieces with increasing sizes. i stacked them all together in this little wood tee pee, ready for the match. just before i lit the match i remembered to open the damper, when i opened it a bunch of soot fell down on top of my little stack of super cool wood burning structure. i kind of just moved the soot off of the top but all the shavings were covered. i went ahead and tried to start the fire that way but it wasn't working even after fifteen matches. i gave up and decided to just let alex and dominic try it while i ate my dinner. they couldn't do it either until i told them to use a little bit of news paper. that worked and we had pseudo fire warmth. we really didn't feel warm from the fire because we had the glass "screen" that kind of blocks the heat from entering the room. we cracked them open just a little and helped ... just a little.

since we haven't had a fire going for about five years now, we were all really excited. it's pretty funny how such a little thing gets us all going. let's have s'mores! dang it! no marshmallows ....or gram crackers... or chocolate. well, it would be such a waste to not have s'mores with the five year fire. off to the store i went. when i got back, it tried to show everyone how to make them... but as usual, i never had s'mores in my life, but having heard so many people talk about it, i felt like i had had them before for some reason. so i put a couple of marshmallows at the end of my stick and kept them just far enough away from the flame so that they would turn a golden brown. things were going pretty well, until i started to notice the mess that we had made while trying to start the fire. with my free hand i started to pick up some of the wood pieces and put them into our wood box. i started to get into it a little, then briefly glanced over at my marshmallow. and it was right next to the biggest flame .... and on fire! i pulled it out and had to blow out the flames, but it was no use, it was complete charcoal [i ate it anyway, the chocolate covered up the burn taste] and for the kids and wife ... well they weren't too impressed. i believe that my apparent ineptness gave the kids confidence to do new things :)

a nice sunday

here is a picture of the road that i went on to get out to carter lake:

i had a pretty cool adventure today. it was a fairly mild temperature [maybe about 50F]. i rode up to carter lake agian, this time i only had one pannier. i tried to limit the amount of stuff that i carry because it has benn quite the issue lately. so i packed very lightly, very very lightly.

this trip was going to be a nice little road ride followed by a pretty tough trail run [yes, i said run! ], followed by a nice road ride, followed by a trip to the grocery store.

the first two parts went really well. i rode up to the trail head and parked my bike. as you can see from the picture... maybe i shouldn't have parked my bike there. anyway the run was a 6 mile run through some really rough rock gardens. it was the same trail i rode my bike on a couple of weeks ago. running seems more difficult for some reason... it might have been because i was going a lot faster running.

when i got back from the run i was so sweaty. i didn't have anything to change into except for my cycling shorts and my wind breaker. the wind breaker helped a little...oh i also had a beanie which helped a ton. at least for my head. after all you know what they say... "on a really cold day, you can be completely naked, and only have a warm hat and gloves and you will be warm" i may have paraphrased that a little too much, so much that it it is no longer true :) but you know what i mean. anyway my head was warm... but the rest of me was freezing. i had a pretty big descent ahead of me an i wasn't looking forward to being cold. it was very cold!

after the descent i rode into a patch of sunlight and it felt really nice. i called home to see if my wife needed some things from the store while i was out here. she did.... so i was off to the store. it was pretty cool to be able to run errands out on my bike. too bad i had remove the other pannier before i left, i could have used it after the store. i would have loved to bring home some milk.... just to say i brought home some milk on my bike :)

i made it home pretty tired... but feeling really good.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

bring on the night

it felt good to get out of the city for a moment. especially after a few interactions with some cars. nothing serious just some "" type exchanges, and one zoom-ahead-and-turn-right, ordeal...

i finally got to the bike path which takes me away from the streets for about a mile and a half. the path was completely dark this night, and i could see it lingering at the end of the street. the evening was itself pretty dark, but not as dark as it should have been. the clouds were covering the moon and stars for the most part, but the light pollution was reflecting off the lower clouds to make the air feel somewhat luminescent. it was already this way when i left work, so it was already as dark as it was going to be. it didn't seem very dark until i got out of the local light pollution of yellows and turned off onto the path.

the bike path turns off into basically nothing, at least it feels that way. there are no lights no cars no bikes, just a dark entry through a chain linked fence. as soon as i turn off into the abyss the trail goes down hill in a very long straight line with a couple of bumps that kind of break things up a bit. towards the bottom of the hill lies a bridge that kicks off the first turn. the cool part about the bridge is that the shadows from the bridge change the color of the path to look like a bottomless gap breaking through the concrete. as i approach the "gap" i get this mild sensation that i am going to ride off the edge into the nothing .... but just as i get closer and realize it's just a shadow i suddenly notice that the color of the bridge itself, is making it look like there is another gap to fall into. that part is really cool... so much cooler than riding it in the day light.

a little while later, the bike path meanders along the river. now it's even darker, because the trees along the river are blocking any remaining lights from the moon or the pollution. as soon as the trail gets close to the river it turns really sharply. so sharp that the head light doesn't give me enough look-ahead distance because it's pointing off to the tangent of the curve. as i look ahead, all i can see is the leaf covered ground that kind of goes through the trees. it's really difficult to tell the exact curve of the trail, with or with out proper lighting. luckily i have some beta from past rides and i kind of know where the trail goes, but it just a hint. i try to do it faster and faster each day, but just as i get to the third s-turn i get really nervous and squeeze the breaks as much as i can without locking the wheels. it was really exciting when the trail had a little bit of snow on it, and the tires would lock pretty easily.

everyday it's been like this and everyday, i look forward to riding home.

this is why i ride

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

another day.

i decided to ride my bike to work again today. things were a little more icy than they were last night, but nothing to worry about. if i sound a little less happy than usual, it's because i'm getting a little irritated with myself. i can not seem to pick the correct clothes to wear for riding to and from work.

this morning i was a little on the cold side, but not too bad. my feet and fingers took the brunt of it. i wore this stupid fleece balaclava (thank you cabela's for having a misspelled keyword that allowed me to hit your page and get the correct spelling... otherwise i was looking at some city in the ukraine, i don't think i'll ever be able to spell it again, oh i know, i'll just use my website to see how i spelled it once. feel free to do the same... if you need the correct spelling of balaclava (man that was hard.. i even had to look back a few line to see how i spelled it a couple of seconds ago)) where the hell was i? hold on while i reread some stuff..... ok i'm back.

that stupid fleece thing wasn't too bad alone, but since i have to wear my helmet no matter what. [i just had a big discussion with my 12 year old about how not wearing a helmet will kill you.] so i wasn't about to skip it for just a "little" ride. the strap from the helmet bunched up all the loose fleece until it was all around my throat. i sometimes have a problem with things hanging around down there... i can make myself gag most of the time... but this morning i could only do it for a mile :)

finally when i started getting cold, i stopped thinking about this thing around my throat. i began to think about my poor little fingers, and how they used to feel very warm in these exact same gloves [two years ago]. i think by washing them too many times i washed out most of the r-value. i tried to do some of my finger exercises but i just wasn't in the mood. i tried the o' blow into them trick... but it seems that this material only lets cold air through :( while i was going through this, my feet suddenly pop into my priority list. they were pretty cold, but what could i do? no feet exercises... can't blow into them... hmmm. in a weird way, it kind of worked out, because they were just painful enough that they took my mind off of the fleece choker and the digit-sicles, at least until i got to work.

when i arrived at work and took off my shoes, my feet really started to sting. i guess the blood finally had a chance to go down to my feet and my feet kind of went into shock, or something. they were in so much pain. that was a really painful moment in my life, but it only lasted for a few minutes:)

my comfort on the ride home was completely opposite. i was so hot! [literally]. my jacket was working way too well, and even the gloves started working.... too bad it was about 30 degrees warmer than it was this morning. by the way, this morning it was 22F. hmmm...hold on!... ok, i just did the math [and looked up the current temp]: it was only 16 degrees warmer this evening. sorry for the inaccuracies. i know how people rely on me for factual information... and as spelling resource of course.

it's getting late, i've got things to do....

day after first snow

i'm not sure if i want to go outside today. it looks cold and icy out there. too bad i didn't order my studded tires last week. i'm going to order them today, but with my luck, we probably won't get any more snow.

it's still a couple of hours before i have to leave home, so maybe i'll feel a little better about thing at that time.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

first snow of the year

and i was out in it! there was a light dusting on the pavement, and the outside temperature was about about 30 F. i was a bit under dressed but for the most part it was quite a fun ride. i tried to take a few pictures along the way, but they came out pretty badly. i tried to do some of my self photos but the camera was way too close... i won't post it because it is a little too embarrassing.
i'll just describe it to you:
half of may face is taking up about half of the view, and unfortunately the red half is still there. i kind of look drunk... but i also look like i'm crying. i don't even remember being sad, in fact i was quite happy. the picture shown was taken by my coworker, so the face is proportional.

as i was riding down hill i tried to stop kind of suddenly, so i could test the brakes. but as i squeezed the breaks i noticed that i was hardly even slowing down. i kind of started to panic and moved my hands down into the drops, so i can squeeze harder. that helped a little but still i could not even lock up the wheels. not that i wanted them to lock up or anything, i just needed them to slow down the wheel. i guess the panniers were a bit too heavy. note to self: eliminate some stuff from the panniers. i was able to slow down enough to a safe speed, but it took a lot of effort. at least my hands were not cold any more :)

the snow was a little bit sticky and started to gather around my drive train. i had a difficult time keeping the gears quite... it seemed that the snow had packed itself into the cluster and made it so the chain did not settle into the teeth... and they just kept skipping. you can't really tell from the picture but if you use your imagination you can imagine what it looks like :)

when i was riding the final stretch home, i was kind of gripped out on this one section of road that doesn't have a shoulder. i was intensely focused on the edge of the road hoping that the cars n the rear would see me.... suddenly someone going the other way yelled, "hey!!!" i was really surprised for a moment, then i looked up and it was my wife.

so i haven't decided if i want to ride to work tomorrow, i have some school function to do after work, and i don't know if i want to ride there or not.

until next time.

oh, and i'm going to need this...

yesterday was my first day of commuting with my panniers. i decided that i didn't need the backpack any more, because it was way too much weight for my back. also, when it rained the backpack wouldn't fit under my rain coat and would get wet. my panniers came with these rain covers that look like a radio active shower-cap [that doesn't sound right]. they have an elastic rim and they pull completely over one side of the pannier, locking out any rain, snow, or mud that i come across. the panniers themselves, have a pretty elaborate closing system. first there is a drawstring that kind of keeps things contained, then there is a flap that closes over everything and buckles tightly over one side. also, my panniers have a few hooks that keep it attached to the rack on the bike [this is all very important information for the later part of my story].

so yesterday i was all excited to have finally rid myself of the sweat-generator, and ride freely into work with a dry unstrained back. with the backpack, i was always forgetting stuff. i had the stuff i needed to change into at work, the stuff i needed to get "clean", the stuff i needed to fix my bike, the stuff i needed in case the weather got rough, lights and batteries, and the misc stuff i needed just to function, like wallet, cell phone [s] etc. with the backpack, i had just a couple of pockets and most things would have to commingle at the bottom. where i packed everything played a huge roll in how comfortable i was going to be on my ride. if i put a book, or battery too close to the front, it would touch my back, and i usually had to stop and reorganize out on the road. which was not fun with screaming cars, and unfavorable weather conditions. with the small pack, things would get full in a hurry. i had to be a master packer to fit all the stuff i "needed." for years i have been stuffing it to the max, until the pack was so dense that one of the zippers gave out. now i have to ride with an open pocket, hoping that it doesn't rain, and that i don't turn upside down spilling all my misc stuff.. because that was the pocket for the misc stuff.

now, however, i have panniers. these things have enough space and enough pockets to hold just about anything i need.... and i need a lot! of course i need to carry around my bike lock, because i may have to stop at the store on the way home, and i really hate leaving my bike outside unlocked. i need my rain coat because it looks like it may rain sometime... actually in colorado, it can rain any day, really hard... for about ten minutes... then it's sunny again. so i definitely need a rain coat. also i'm going to need a tire pump, and tire changing tools.... wrenches, etc. i need my work clothes, which include a light coat in case i get cold at work. oh... lunch, i now have room to carry lunch. my cell phones, ipod, extra gloves. i guess that's about it! i have everything i think i need... and then some :)

as i rolled down the street the bike felt really smooth. the extra weight made everything very stable. i could ride with no hands and move all over without altering the direction at all. i had never ridden with panniers, and it was kind of a neat feeling at first. then there was the up hill. oh my god! i had to work like crazy just to get up this little bump in the road [there goes my sweat free back :(] too bad my bianchi doesn't have a granny gear. the best it has is about a 1:1 [i think, i'll have to check]. it really is a weird feeling to climb with heavy panniers. the weight is in a weird spot, and i guess i have to get used to it. when i had the backpack on the weight was reversed, i was the heavy one and the bike was really light. i'm thinking that i like the pannier way better....

the next issue came when i got to work. i tried to park my bike outside my cube like usual. however my stupid panniers were so wide i was blocking the entrance to the cube next to me. i didn't think the guy would have minded too much, but i'm sure he would have joked about it till something gave. i parked my bike in the next building somewhere out of the way.

hmm.... how am i going to get my clothes to the restroom so i can change? i couldn't just detach the pannier. this thing was on for the long haul. i had to carry my stack of clothes back over to my building and change in the restroom. then i had to carry my cycling clothes [which were not lycra!] ... ok i confess i had been wearing lycra leg warmers. i didn't want to wear my wind pants today, because they just are not warm enough. [i hope this confession doesn't ruin the llm.] so it wasn't a big deal really, to have to carry around my cloths, but in general it is not very professional to carry around underwear and socks in an office setting.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

it had to happen

after about nine hours of riding my old bike in the past few days, through all sorts of terrain, i finally got a flat. it was a pretty nice ride home up until then. it was very dark and the stars were out. one weird thing was going on under me, for the last 1000 yards i could feel the back end of my bike slipping around the turns. at first i kind of played dumb..."i wonder what's going on?".... then it was too dark to see the ground, so i could not verify that it was flat. then it was very obvious that i was loosing air. i had actually lost a bunch of air at this point but i wasn't going to stop riding, i was too close to home. i could see the lights of our neighborhood off into the far night. finally i stopped and checked to see if this tire was what it felt like. just as i thought, but tried to ignore, the tire was completely flat! there was no way i was going to try and ride it any more, but i was still too close to home to stop and fix it.

i knew that a nice bright warm comfortable garage was waiting for me. it wouldn't seem right to be just outside my neighborhood scrambling around in the dark, trying to pull off a tire. i don't know why it wouldn't seem right, but it wouldn't take my word for it.

if it weren't for pulling off the tire, flats would not be problem at all :)

i decided to just walk it home. it turned out to be a good choice. walking has a quality about it which relaxes people like me. you know, the feeling that there is no way you can do something fast... so just sit back and enjoy the ride. it was really neat to be walking home in the dark... before i knew it [about 20 minutes later] i was home. a little later than i expected, but at least i was very relaxed :)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Monday, October 9, 2006

Sunday, October 8, 2006

fat tires...skinny bike

this actually took place from oct 7- 8. i am only just now writing about it. i usually don't like writing about old things, but i really don't want to leave anything out.

so on saturday i drug my kids out to the bike shop, so i can see what's on sale. my poor kids, used to really enjoy going there, but it seems recently some of their passion for going to the bike shop has worn off. although i didn't buy any at the time, i was mostly looking to buy some panniers so i can start adventure riding. since it is currently fall season, and in cycling that translates into cyclocross season, the bike shop had a few things on display for the cyclocross racer. since i am an ex-cyclist, i was kind of drawn over to one cross bike that they had on display. wow.... fat tires on a road bike. recently i have been wanting to do put fat tires on my road bike, since my friend rob let me ride his cross bike . when he let me ride his bike i was really impressed with how smooth everything was. but now looking at this cyclocross racing bike on display, i was really excited about throwing fat tires on my road bike.

let me back up for a second. my "road bike" that i am talking about is not really my real road bike. my real road bike does not have room for fat tires, nor does it have holes for racks and stuff. the "road bike" i am talking about is a twenty five year old bianchi san remo. i've had it since i was a teenager, and stopped riding it sometime back in college. a few years back i restored it a little so i could commute to work. at the time i really wanted a rode bike, and this bike was too slow and heavy. i ended up not riding it very much, and back to the garage ceiling it went. now however, i want a well made bike that is really simple, solid, and classic. the fact that it's an old friend helps a lot too!

i bought a set of fat tires and put them on that evening. i rode around and could just tell that something magical was happening. i was so happy that my old bike was rolling again, and i could sense that my old bike was over joyed and ready to take me where ever i wanted. it was really cool. that night i started planning my sunday. i wasn't sure where i wanted to go, but i kind of had a direction in mind.

i ended up going out to the near by lake. i really liked not having a solid plan, it was very different than my usual bike rides where i know where and how far i will ride and what road or trail i will be taking. this time i just headed out in a direction.....

i went through mostly gravel road (which was really cool) to get to the lake. i ran across a few super hero's along the way, and i could tell they didn't really want to wave "hi" to me... retro man. that was really ok with me however. it just proves my point. most people are not out have fun on their bikes, they are out for either exercise, training, or so they can go to work the next day and tell everyone how far they rode. i guess my current high horse is not too much better, because i couldn't wait to get back to work and tell everyone "where" i went...but more importantly "how" i went.

when i got to the lake i saw a map that showed a trail that went around the side of the lake. hmmm.... i wonder how rough this trail will be...

as you can see it was pretty rocky and technical. it's kind of funny, i would have never thought to bring anything but a mountain bike out on this trail... but since the trail was just a small part of a journey, i was really excited to see if my touring bike could make it. i actually didn't care too much about "making it", i was prepared to walk the bike whenever i needed to... i wouldn't have been a big deal. it turned out that i didn't need to walk it very much anyway. i was really surprised to find out how much of the technical stuff i could actually do. my wheels stayed straight, i stayed on the bike and everything couldn't have gone better. i did have a small pedal problem.. i left the toe clips on and they were difficult to get into. i took them off out on the trail, but that only helped a little bit, since these were road pedals only one side had grip and the other was a smooth rod, which wasn't very easy to keep my feet on. i also had to adjust the seat height, and the brake pads(since i had put them on backward, by mistake). other than that it was a mechanical problem-free trip.

after i got around the lake i stopped at a small store. i bought some food and ate it outside the store. that's not really a very exciting part of the trip, nor was the food choice all that good. however, i mention this because there was one really cool part that i am pretty excited about... i stepped off my bike and walked into the store. no unclipping.. no clicking... no revealing lycra suit! just me my regular shoes, regular clothes, and a regular attitude.

the weather was just starting to sprinkle and get a little cold, when i left the store. i had a big descent to do next an it was going to be really chilly. it was in fact very chilly, but it didn't last too long and right after the descent i had a pretty big climb which made things seem a bit warm. it was a pretty big climb, and i was a bit worried to do it on my old bike, for some reason. i used to do workouts on this hill with my rode bike, and it was a pretty tough climb, from what i can remember. now, however, i wasn't in a big hurry so i just slowly climbed this thing with no problem at all.

when i got to the top there was a lake called pinewood reservoir. there i also found a pretty sweet single track trail, that went around that lake. here is apicture of part of the trail. you can kind of tell how cloudy things were getting from the mountain in the background.

it seemed like it was getting colder every minute. since this trail was much more friendly that the first trail, so i could ride more of it. and since i was riding i didn't think too much about how cold it was getting.

when i finished the trail i just headed back home. i had been out for more that 6 hours. if it weren't for my sore butt, it would have felt like two hours. theride back home was very cold, and i could feel my body temperature dropping. i was shivering quite a bit as i rode down the mountain. i don't think i was going very fast, because i was trying to keep the wind chill down. when i got back to town, it was not nearly as cold there, and my attitude when back into thinking that i had nothing but fun.

i actually did have a ton of fun. i don't know how much of it was new bike experience fun, and how much of it was fun, because i was exploring places i hadn't been. i think it was a little bit of both, but i also think they are kind of the same thing. the fun part of an adventure is not knowing what to expect....

Thursday, October 5, 2006

llm (lycra liberation movement)

when i got back from my big unicycling adventure, i thought i was going to be a changed man. i did have a pretty good size beard going on, and i did smell a bit more than usual, but those were both kind of temporary (notice i said "kind of"?). that's another blog.... probably "" or "". i think i am back to normal now...and i think the vacation actually helped.

so what is with the llm? for the past three years or so i haven't had much fun on my bike. i would put on my super hero outfit and put all of my gear together in the car and drive out to my favorite trail and ride. i would ride for a couple of hours or so (sometimes more, sometimes less) and then drive back home and unload my stuff, and go on with my day. about three years ago when i was racing, i used to do this all of the time. before work after work, during work :). most of the time however, to increase my miles i would ride in to work on my rode bike. i used to have a speed and cadence meter on my bike and a heart rate monitor on me, so i could tell just how hard i was working... i was so hooked up (literally). i just had a great thought. it would be pretty cool if one's boss could tell how hard someone is working by checking his heart rate monitor, and keyboard cadence. ... well maybe that's not such a good idea after all. most of my work would be "asdfjl;k" ..etc.

back to my story. can you imagine how much technology was being used on me, just so i can get into shape? i am sure this goes on in lots of sports and i bet it's just as silly. my kids have these bikes that cost me, maybe 200 dollars. they ride them all the time. they would just go outside, hop on their bikes and ride around the neighborhood or stay in the drive way doing tricks. they don't wear lycra, they don't have heart rate monitors, and they are having fun. maybe they aren't in as good as shape as me.... wait a minute, none of them have a gut. what the heck is going on?

let me recap here:

1. it takes me a long time to prepare for a bike ride.

2. i require a lot of side-band technologies to "help" me ride better.

3. i look like an idiot in my tight fitting super colorful jersey with sponsor names on it (by the way i spent 70 dollars for this jersey, and the sponsors didn't pay me a cent to wear their name on my torso).

4. i have to drive to most places to ride.

5. i still have a gut :(

6. i can only ride my bike when i am in biking clothes. i can't go into stores, because, one i don't like to leave my bike outside unlocked (locks are too heavy), and two, my friend steve has a pretty good rule: your bike clothes become less cool, the further away from your bike you get. we've all seen these people that don't know this rule, clicking around the super market, still wearing their helmets, looking for "energy bars".

somewhere we [or maybe it's just me] crossed the line. i'll bet the national football league is crying every night, that they can't make dads suit up in full pads, shoes, helmets and jerseys of their favorite team, just so they can play catch with their kids. i'll bet they're loosing billions of dollars, for this failure.

it took me about three years, to realize this, but i do not enjoy my form of bike riding any more. something has to change.

and that's what this blog is about :)

note: i don't know how i kept referring to the movement as llb... it should have been llm! sorry.