Day 365: Woo hoo! I survived 365 days!

3 01 2011

This time last year I embarked on a project I wasn’t sure I could finish. I started this blog 365 days ago. The original intention of the daily project was to share my thoughts about cycling and my attempts at weight loss. I had success with some things … other things, not so much. I plan to continue the blog posts, although it will probably be on a weekly rather than daily basis.

Looking back over the past year, this blog project has been a learning experience which enabled me to meet quite a few fellow cyclists (both in person and in the online world). While I may not have accomplished everything I originally set out to do, here are some of the things I learned from the project:

  • A 365-day commitment is much more time-consuming than I expected. Silly me. I figured each day’s post would only take a few minutes. Most of them took close to an hour, depending on the post’s topic. Some needed a bit of research, which took more time. Other posts just took a while to write because I’m not terribly comfortable writing. Getting past the initial stage of staring at the blank computer screen took me some getting used to.
  • Carrick has the patience of a saint (see previous item above). I’m not sure which one of us is happier that the daily posts are ending and life will return to normal. She’s been very patient with me through the project and is always very encouraging, which was a huge help. Thank you, Carrick.
  • I lack willpower for dieting. My original intention when I started this blog was to learn better eating habits and lose 20-30 pounds. I enrolled in Weight Watchers in July and have since lost 11 pounds. Not as close to my goal weight as I wanted to be by the end of the year, but I’m trying to not beat myself up about it. I’m learning to view my food choices as a lifestyle change rather than a diet. It’s been a slow and sometimes frustrating process, but I’m getting there. And I’m not giving up.
  • Life sometimes gets in the way of plans. Work, after-work commitments and daily blog posts sucked up much more time than I anticipated, cutting into my cycling time (not to mention my neglect of my photoblog). I’ve now learned I need to allow for time in my schedule to enjoy regular bike outings, whether those are regular rides with Carrick, group rides or solo rides. By not planning in advance, I often let the opportunity slip by.
  • I learned to fix a bike. Not a big deal to most people, but if you knew how mechanically uninclined I really am, you would understand how pleased I am that Carrick and I went a little out of our comfort zone and took the Park Tool School classes to learn maintenance and repairs.
  • Louisville is a pretty awesome bike-friendly city. In fact, it’s #21 on Bicycling Magazine’s list of America’s Top 50 Bike Friendly Cities.
  • My “rides wish list” keeps growing. Each time I hear about an interesting ride, I add it to the list. In 2011, I plan to make a more concerted effort to do some of the rides. I’m particularly interested in trying to do some long-distance overnight touring with panniers, tent, and other necessary equipment. The only thing I lack is a touring bike. Maybe that’s the next big thing to save money for.
  • I had a lot of fun rides. I may not have racked up a few thousand miles on the bike this year, like several commuters I know, but I still had a blast. Some of my favorite rides this year included (in no particular order): The Indy N.I.T.E. Ride; Lexington’s Legacy Trail; Back Bay Nature Preserve in Virginia Beach; McAlpine Locks and Dam; the Louisville Loop; and the annual Hike & Bike event.
  • I can do anything I put my mind to. Actually, I knew this before I started the blog. As I get older, I realize that really the only thing preventing me from achieving my goals is myself and I need to work on that. I intended to ride my first century ride this year, but I didn’t make it. I did, however, ride a half century during our Louisville Loop to Farnsley-Moreman ride this summer (and 50 miles of the 100 Miles of Nowhere ride back in May). Small victories, but ones I’m excited about. I learned how rewarding it can be to push myself past my comfort level at times. The sense of accomplishment inspires me to keep trying and keep pushing myself.

Thank you to everyone who has followed my blog this year and for leaving comments, tips, suggestions and encouragement. I greatly appreciate your support and I hope you’ll continue to follow the blog even though the posts will be weekly instead of daily. Probably a relief to everyone. 🙂

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 364: Bicycle t-shirts, iPhone decal and other cool stuff

2 01 2011

Some of the cool bike swag Carrick got me for Christmas this year!

T-shirts. (The green one is from Carrick's parents)

L-R: Spinervals Lean & Mean DVD; Backroad Bicycling in Kentucky's Bluegrass; bumper sticker; Bicycle pasta (tiny litte noodles shaped like bikes!)

Decal for my iPhone.

And some of the money I received for Christmas from my parents is going towards buying the ContourHD helmet cam, which I plan to order this week. Stay tuned for a review!

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 359: Patoka Lake hiking trip

28 12 2010

We’re back from our trip to Patoka Lake for Carrick’s birthday. It’s always nice to explore new areas and get away from the usual routine for a few days. We didn’t take our bikes this trip, but we did get to do a good bit of hiking which was nice for a change. I really enjoy hiking, but in the past year or so we got out of our regular weekend habit of hiking in the local parks.

Patoka Lake

Patoka Lake - view from near the Newton Stewart recreation area

The property manager of the Patoka Lake Cabins where we stayed told us about Newton Stewart State Recreation Area in nearby Celestine, IN. We bundled up the dog in her jacket and snow boots (she loved those) and set out for a hike on one of the trails today before we headed back home. The inch or so of snow on the ground provided a nice relaxing hike and made for some nice photos. The park has some nice paved bike trails that looked well-maintained so we decided it’s probably worth visiting again in the summer with the bikes.

Cabins at Patoka Lake Village

One of the trails near our cabin.

Roxy enjoying the snow. Or maybe pitching a fit because she hates her boots. Hard to tell.

We drove over to French Lick, IN and took some photos at the West Baden Hotel and at a nearby railroad museum. Something about old rail cars I always find appealing. Overall, the whole weekend was a great trip. We didn’t see as much wildlife as we’d hoped to find, but we did spot a bald eagle soaring over the frozen lake. He was gone before I could get my camera ready though. Figures. Still, it was beautiful to see.

West Baden Hotel

A luggage cart at the railroad museum.

The Pennsylvania railroad car.

Old railcars.

Pluto Water - America's Physic.

Perspective.

Swim at your own risk.

Patoka Lake - just before we spotted the bald eagle.

We wondered what the Zinger was. Must have been fun.

An abandoned wagon trail from 1900.

Snowy steps leading to the trail we hiked at the Newton Stewart recreation area.

I love to photograph old stores like this one. They were closed until March.

I've no idea what these are, but I thought they were worth shooting.

Snowy moss.

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 338: Exploring the city by bike

7 12 2010

I’ve noticed lately that most of the time when I head out for a bike ride, I tend to ride in the same areas. There are several routes I enjoy for various reasons. Some have less traffic. Some are longer routes which have more sight-seeing and photography options. Some have hills. Some are flat, but have more traffic (good for raising the heart rate a little). When Carrick and I go on a ride together, we tend to do more exploring, heading off in a random direction to “see what’s there.” Last night, Carrick had a good idea. She suggested I get our bike map and highlight the streets we’ve ridden together on our numerous rides to see where we’ve been. Here’s what it looks like:

Our rides mapped out.

Our most common route of course is from our neighborhood to downtown. We’ve been out to Shawnee Park, Iroquois Park and Waterfront Park many times and this summer we rode the entire Louisville Loop (the 25 or so miles that are finished anyway. From home and back that day ended up being around 52 miles, I think). We need to explore some of the other parks. Obviously, we haven’t spent much time riding out to the east end or the southwest end of town — mainly because we aren’t that familiar with those parts of town and we’re unsure of good routes to get us out to those areas from our neighborhood. It looks like we need to do some research and see if we can’t remedy that.

Bicycling is a great way to explore the city and see sights (and photo opportunities!) that we probably wouldn’t have noticed when we whiz by at 30+ mph in the car. And by the looks of it, we’ve got a LOT more to explore. I’m even looking forward to getting out my mountain bike after it snows and continue exploring. I don’t normally ride in the snow, but I think it’s time I give it a try.

Do you have favorite routes that you ride regularly? If so, what makes them favorites?

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 337: Summary of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Public Forum

6 12 2010

As I mentioned the other day, tonight was the first of three Pedestrian and Bicycle Public Forums which focus on the reviewing the 20-year master plan for the future of biking and walking in Louisville. I attended the event after work tonight and was pleased to see a great turnout and some familiar faces. The self-guided walk-through tour was a good way to learn what the city is working on, what costs are associated with various projects (and which agencies are responsible for them) in addition to learning about what is planned for the city’s future. Representatives were available to answer visitor’s questions on topics such as:

— The future of the Louisville Loop (signage, routing, safety issues, etc.)
— Future bike projects (low-cost versus high-cost projects)
— High-cost projects and their priority ranking and estimated costs 
— Kentucky Mountain Bike Association’s 100-mile single-track master plan
— Design standards for signage and trail access

Bike Louisville and the Mayor's Healthy Hometown Bike and Pedestrian Public Forum

Visitors to the event.

Louisville Loop options for the Northeast corridor.

KYMBA singletrack plan.

Louisville Metro Public Health & Wellness also had several displays showing a breakdown by zip codes of obesity rates, weekly moderate activity, heart disease death rates and other statistics.

Obesity rates by zip code.

Heart disease death rates.

Weekly moderate activity. "How many days per week do you do 10 minutes of exercise?" (dark red = 1; light yellow = 5)

Overall, it was a great event. I always enjoy learning something new. I spoke with a few people about some issues I was curious about. One was the pedestrian/bike bridge over into Indiana. If I understand correctly, Kentucky has the funds to complete our part of the project, but Indiana was unable to secure funding to complete their side. It’s expected they will be able to find funding soon, but unfortunately not as soon as we had anticipated. I also talked with someone from the Parks department about the new bike lane on Poplar Level. I expressed concern that it seems very narrow and there is no bike symbol to indicate to drivers that it’s a bike lane. Don’t get me wrong — I’m glad the city included a bike lane, but it seems like it could be a more comfortable size for cyclists (and therefore safer). The woman I spoke with said the city is planning to include a bike symbol once the warmer weather comes in the spring and they can repaint. She told me to include my comment on the survey about decreasing the size of the medians and making the bike lane wider, so I was sure to include that before I left tonight.

Next Monday, Dec. 13 at is a public meeting to discuss signage for the Louisville Loop. I think it’s at the Shawnee Park Clubhouse at 6:30, but I’ll post more information as I find out. I hope to be able to attend that meeting also.

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 330: Raleigh Pursuit 502 conversion

29 11 2010

The project from Hell is about to begin! Now that we’ve recently completed the Park Tool School bike maintenance and repair class (which I talked about here), we’re excited about trying to rebuild Carrick’s old 12-speed Raleigh Pursuit 502 Chrome Moly she had in high school. We have no idea what size the frame is, nor what model year it is. (I think it’s a 1987, but I plan to dig around on the web for more information once I get the bike on the workstand to find more identifying information.) For the past year or two, she’s wanted to have the bike converted to a single-speed (or a fixed-speed — we’re not sure which yet.) Since the bike is sitting in the shed collecting dust and rust, we figured we can’t really screw it up too badly, so why not try, right?

Headbadge

Carrick's Raleigh Pursuit 502

Rusty chain, cassette and derailleur.

Rusty spokes, brake. I think we're going to have our work cut out for us.

Shifters and headset.

We talked with our Tom, the Park Tool instructor at Bluegrass Bicycle about the plan for our project. He helped us choose a starter Tool Kit, which he said should include the essentials of what we would need to get started. He also suggested a cable cutter and a bottom bracket tool, so we added those also. Here’s what’s in the toolbox:

  • Wrench set (2mm to 6mm)
  • Chain tool
  • Cassette lockring remover
  • Double ended cone wrenches (13mm to 18mm)
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • 3mm flathead screwdriver
  • Pedal wrench
  • Three-way spoke wrench
  • GearClean brush
  • Chain whip
  • Patch kit
  • Hex wrench
  • Tire levers

Park Tool SK-1

Now we’re set with the tools, the bike and hopefully the knowledge to get started on what we hope will be a fun project to work on during the cold, dreary winter months. I’ll post updates as we make progress.

Today’s food journal:

Breakfast:
— Strawberry, banana, peach smoothie = 5.5 points

Lunch:
— Grilled cheese sandwich on whole wheat = 7.5 points
— Iced tea = 0 points

Dinner:
— Soft pretzel = 10 points
— Iced tea = 0 points

Snack:
— Skinny Cow ice cream = 2 points

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 327: The Thanksgiving Day ride on Lexington’s Legacy Trail

26 11 2010

Never go on a bike ride in the rain with a photographer. Thanksgiving Day morning, Carrick and I rode part of Lexington’s Legacy Trail. We knew rain was in the forecast, but we figured it would be just a cloudy ride with the rain holding off until later in the day. We were wrong. By the time we got the bikes off the car, the rain started. We decided to do the ride anyway. Because of the rain, I tried to just ride — to not bother with taking photos. But I couldn’t do it. Barns, geese, ducks, horse farms — all asking to be photographed. Of  course many of the shots didn’t turn out well due to the rain, but at least I got a few.

We were the only ones in the parking lot.

A small church we passed as we pulled into the parking lot.

Barely a mile into the ride and we were already soaked.

The beginning of the trail.

I had waterproof bags in my jersey for our phones and my camera in case the rain got worse. Did I mention the rain got worse? Yep. Within the first mile into the ride it dumped on us. And with 16 mph winds, it made for a tough ride. But once we were wet and soggy we figured it was pointless to give up that early into the ride. A couple miles later we were soaked and my shoes were full of water. My cycling jacket was waterproof (and windproof) so at least my upper body was dry and relatively warm. But once my feet get cold the rest of me does too.

I decided to turn back, but Carrick did an extra couple miles while I waited inside a tunnel (seemed like a good place to stop). As I took a few photos in the tunnel, a police officer drove slowly toward me. I expected it would be another instance of being asked what (or why) I was photographing. The officer didn’t ask about that, but it turned out to be a pretty brief conversation:

Cop: “Have you heard any gunshots?”
Me: “Gunshots. Seriously?” (I know – dumb question. But I thought maybe she was pulling my leg since I was dumb enough to be out on a bike in a heavy rainstorm.)
Cop: “We had a report of gunshots so I’m checking it out.”
Me: “I’ve not heard anything, but it’s so windy I probably wouldn’t have heard it anyway.”
Cop: “Ok. Well, enjoy your ride.”
And she was off. We were in town, near many of the horse farms so it’s not like we were riding a remote backwoods trail out in the boonies. Still, it was slightly unnerving to wonder if we might be an accidental target for a nearsighted hunter.

The tunnel where I waited for Carrick. I considered asking the cop if I could take her photo, but she didn't seem to be in cheery mood.

One of several barns we passed.

Kentucky farmland.

Geese crossing the path.

A few minutes later Carrick and I headed back to the car before someone decided to shoot at the two turkeys on bikes. So despite the rain, despite the wind, despite the report of gunshots in the area, we still had a fun ride. The Legacy Trail was a great place to ride. Smooth pavement, no potholes, very little debris on the trail (even with the rainstorm) and pretty scenery. We’re already planning to go back to ride the entire trail (but in better weather). Thank you, Carrick for always being ready for an adventure.

Wet, but we survived.

Today’s food journal:

Lunch:
— Organic whole wheat english muffin with peanut butter = 3 points
— LF chocolate milk = 3 points

Dinner:
— Turkey sub sandwich = 9 points
— Baked Lays chips = 1.5 points
— Iced tea = 0 points

Snack:
— Skinny Cow ice cream = 2 points

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

         _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.