Thursday, March 25, 2010

Still alive and pedalin'

This post will be very short. I just wanted to do a post so that everyone that checks my blog knows that I am alive and pedalin'.

I have been commuting to work (well, to the train station, to catch the train that will take me to work) on bicycle for the past couple of weeks. I have to say that it has been pretty successful so far. I started the week before we moved the clocks ahead, so I was only riding in the dark for a little while before the sun came up. Now, it is dark when I arrive at the train station. It is getting better, as sunrise is occurring earlier now. I enjoy the ride. 95% of the 22 mile ride is on the trails, so I don't have to deal with too much traffic. Coordinating my clothes and food at the office, to be here when I arrive has worked out very well also. Like I said, the whole experience is working just as I planned it.

What I did not plan for, was having the bike in the shop for a week. Last Monday I rode to and from the train station in the rain. Well, I didn't start out in the rain, but it began raining at about the half way point of the rides. I wiped my bike down and lubes the chain, but on Tuesday I was having a hard time pedaling (yes, harder than normal) and I was hearing noise coming from the bottom bracket (that's where all the tubes come together at the bottom of the bike, and where the axle of the cranks goes from one side of the bike to the other.) Knowing that I was not going to be riding on Wednesday or Thursday of next week, due to work commitments, I took the bike into the bike shop on Tuesday evening as soon as I got home. I figured they would be able to have it done by Thursday night so I wouldn't miss any days of commuting. WRONG... I think everybody in Annapolis had their bike in the shop. They said next Tuesday... damn. So, I was dead in the water as far as commuting goes. I have the new Roubaix... but I am not leaving that in the bicycle box while I am at work. So, I have been scrounging parts to put on the Allez frame that I have sitting in the garage. I have had several packages dropped off this week and I have all the parts that I need to get that bike operational. However, just because a cook has all the ingredients to make a wonderful dish, doen't mean he has the know how to make the dish. I have bought a book (with a gift card I got from Emily on father's day last year) about bicycle repair and maintenance. I am extremely hopeful and cautiously optomistic that I will have that bike up and on the trail by April 15th (tax day). I'll keep you posted and maybe even post some pictures. Until then, I will keep riding the white Allez and hope it stays out of the shop.

For those following my weight loss, that train is moving very slowly. I have lost 113 pounds to date, which is still good, but I have not been doing as well as I would like. I have 35 more pounds that I want to lose. I am encouraged though, because through the snow storms, bicycle repairs, birthday celebrations, etc, etc etc I am still losing weight. I will keep you posted.

That's all I got for now. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Come back again. I will be updating more often as The New England Classic ride gets closer. I am also planning to blog each day during that ride. ;-)

Monday, March 8, 2010

One less car...

With the onset of the warmer weather, I have started riding my bike to the BWI rail station to catch the MARC train to work. Don't be alarmed, I am not becoming a full fledge "tree-hugging", card carrying member of PETA and Green peace. My intentions, I shamefully admit, are purely selfish. After 6 weeks of not showing any weight loss (not that I was trying real hard, there was a blizzard or two, travel to NY and Chicago etc etc) I decided that I need to really get focused on riding as much as possible. I also put gas in my 4runner Saturday and noticed that they are creeping the price of gas up AGAIN. It will only get more expensive as the summer gets closer. I am not sure what excuse they will use this year to justify their raping us again. Last year it was because they hadn't upgraded their refineries, and we use too much gas and they can't keep up with the demand. Don't get me started on that. I wish they would just tell us the truth. They need to line their pockets with more money... their 3rd mistress needs a new house on the French Riviera. I work in DC and I see a lot of people asking for money, holding signs that they were homeless vets, etc. If you give these people money, you wonder if they will use it to buy their cigarettes (which are not cheap if you have noticed the prices) or their alcohol etc. I saw one guy, sitting on the sidewalk holding a sign that said "I'm not going to lie to you... I need money to buy more wine." I would MUCH rather give the money to him because he was at least honest about it.

Not sure how I got off on that little tangent. Anyway, I rode to BWI rail station this morning with my ridding buddy Mike, who happens to work at the BWI business park. We left the Severna Park Park and Ride lot at 5:15 a.m. and took the B & A trail up to where it meets the BWI trail, which takes me right to the MARC train station. The ride was very much like the normal 5:45 rides that we do in the mornings, but it was just in the opposite direction. On our way up the trail, we got to the Rusty Bridge around the time that the 5:45 group was starting to gather. We stopped and exchanged pleasantries and then we were on our way.

On the BWI trail, there is a section that over looks the airport, and with the sun just coming up, and all the activity below it was one of those "You never see this from a car." moments.

The ride took 1 hour 13 minutes of ride time, but we did not push the speed too much because riding the new sections of trail, you never know where a pot hole has been created, or a new post has been put up. We averaged just over 13 mph and the total distance was 16.3 miles. The BWI trail is a big loop. If you look at Google maps I think it is on there. The MARC station seems to be about halfway around the loop from where we get off the B & A trail. I am going to ride the opposite way this afternoon and see if it is shorter or not.

Once at BWI, I took the first couple of layers of clothing off, draped them over the bike and put it in my bike box that I have rented for the year. I then put on the sweatshirt and sweatpants that I had previously placed in the bike box so I wouldn't look gay on the train in my bike tights. I caught the train and made it to my office without a hitch, actually earlier than I do when I ride with SPP at 5:45.

The plan is to do this routine 4 days a week, using the 5th day to replenish food supplies and swap out clean clothes for dirty ones. It will be weather dependent a little bit too. I probably won't mind riding in the rain, but if it is 'cold' and 'rainy', I may pass. The BWI railstation has a indoor terminal, which is nice, because it has bathrooms and a place to get a bottle of water or coffee if I need to. I don't plan on using it much because I don't want to spend what I am saving on gas. It is good to know that it is there if I need it.

SO, I am going green, using my bike to commute to the train station. I will keep you posted on how it is going through out the spring and summer. It will be nice to get my heart rate up twice a day as a I prepare for the New England Classic in July. More to come on that soon.

Monday, March 1, 2010

I am delinquent... I apologize!

      It has been TOO long since I have posted a blog entry. For that, I apologize. To be perfectly honest with you, I just didn't feel like doing one. BUT, after surviving a debilitating snow storm, and travel to New York and Chicago... I am back in the routine, and ready for spring.

      Last weekend, members of the Severna Park Peloton set out to do another 200k ride. The original date for the ride had to be scratched, because it was scheduled for February 6, and if you look at the snowfall records, you will find that February 6 was not a good day to be riding a bike. So, the new date was February 21st. This was also the date that we had concert tickets to see Terri Clark in Annapolis. The 7:30 start time that the others wanted to do would not work for me, because it took me just under 12 hours to do the 200k in Ashland, and if I started at 7:30 I would not be able to make the concert which was at 7:30 pm. Fortunately, this ride was what they call a permanent (see RUSA website for an explanation of what a perm. is) which can be started at anytime. I decided that I would ride the perm alone, and start at 4:30 in the morning. That would give me a 3 hour head start on the other 7 riders, so if I wound up in a ditch, I wouldn't be there for more that 3 hours! Once I announced that I would be riding solo at 4:30, my riding buddy Mike asked me if I would like some company at 4:30, that he would start early so we could ride together. Of course I welcomed his offer and we met at the starting point at 4:15 a.m. on Sunday morning.

       This ride from Crofton MD. to Solomons Island MD had a completely different vibe for me as compared to the Ashland ride in January. It was 26 degrees when we started, which made it 11 degrees warmer that Ashland, but I think because the area and the roads were a little more familiar, I felt more confident and comfortable. Because the temps during the days prior to the ride were above freezing, when we set out from the start we had to be cautious of black ice slicks across the road. I know, this sounds ominous and scarey, but the roads that we were on we very dark, so the lights on our bicycles caused an obvious glare on any ice that happened to be on the road. Mike and I were both able to stay upright on the bikes, and by sunrise, we were already had 20 some odd miles behind us. The rest of the ride was uneventful, with the exception of Mike having a flat at about mile 70 something. We changed the flat, but them Mike realized that the tread on the tire was going the wrong way, so we have to basically change the tire again. 20 minutes later, we were back on our way. We rode through Chesapeake Beach and North Beach to a pastry shoppe called Sweet Sue's. They have good coffee, good muffins and a nice outside area to eat. By the last 4 or 5 miles, I was pretty tired and was ready for the ride to be over. Mike and I finished in just over 11.5 hours. Which was about 30 minutes better than the ride in Ashland.

       I made it home, showered and got dressed for the concert. Bev had a salad and pizza ready for me, but I was not feeling like eating. I needed to just sit and relax and let my body settle. So, we put the pizza and salad away and we headed to the concert. Terri Clark is one of my favorite female artists because she has so much personality and she shares it with the crowd. This was the third time that we had seen her, and she has been great each time. She talks and interacts with the crowd, which is what I really like. I don't care how good of a singer you are, if you just get up on stage and sing and not talk us in the audience... I won't enjoy your show.  I would see Terri Clark again tomorrow if she was coming to town. That's how good she is.

       I slept very well that night as you can probably imagine. I got to sleep in a little bit on Monday, because I was off to our Chicago office on Monday afternoon. Travel is something that I enjoy, but hate at the same time. Especially travel to Chicago, because I stayed in a hotel that was in downtown Chicago. I love opening the curtains just before I go to bed and letting the city lights be my night light. I enjoy walking on the streets to work in the morning and on the way home and seeing the different (and I mean different in every sense of the word) people walking here and there. It is a cool city, but it does take me out of my routine. No bike riding (except on a stationary bike, and if you've looked at my Training log you know that I would prefer to chew broken glass than ride a trainer or stationary bike.) Additionally, I don't have the normal food that I eat readily available, like I do at home. No apple just waiting to be eaten, no 100 calorie snacks nearby in case I am in need of a chocolate fix. You get the picture, it just puts me in a funk. I am back now, and looking forward to spring.

      I was fortunate enough to have a bicycle box come open at BWI rail station, which I have rented for the year. This will allow me to ride about 23 miles from home to BWI to catch the train into DC for work. I am hoping to do this 4 days a week, using the 5th day to swap out clothes and necessities at work. I am sure you will hear how that is going in a later blog post. I did ride the route yesterday morning and it is an actually very enjoyable ride. I am hoping that by getting my heart rate up two times a day, I will be able to get the pounds to begin coming off again. With the snow storm and travel I have not lost any weight, but I have not packed on any significant amounts of weight either. I am in a holding pattern, and I am ready to start shedding the last 40 pounds to reach my goal. I am hoping to get that off by the end of May. I need to get peddling. ;-)