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 362: Time to get back in shape

31 12 2010

Having moved here to Louisville from Texas almost 10 years ago, I’m still not a fan of winter. I remember many Christmases in Texas when my parents and I cooked steaks or burgers outside on the grill in 70 or 80+ degree weather. In fact, their temperatures were in the 80s last week, while we were dealing with temps in the 30s here.

Once winter arrived in Louisville a few weeks ago, I figured it’s time to make some new playlists on my iPod and get out the indoor bike trainer or the rollers. (Perfect for trying out the new Spinervals DVD Carrick bought me for Christmas.) Today though, it was 64 degrees! I’ve not been on my bike for about a month. As my friend Tom said recently, sometimes “life gets in the way of cycling.” I had some house cleaning to do this afternoon to get ready for friends coming over tonight, but I decided that could wait. A nice leisurely bike ride outside during a perfect sunny warm day was the first priority on my list.

I changed into my cycling clothes, did a quick bike check of the brakes, tires and chain, checked the air in the tires, grabbed the house key and off I went. It felt good to be back on the bike, but it was windy today and I think the past few weeks sitting around on my lazy butt made for a bit of a struggle today. I never felt like I got into the groove of the ride. My shoulder was bothering me after starting physical therapy again last week. (Yesterday’s MRI should tell whether or not it’s a rotator cuff tear, which is what the therapist is betting on.) The wind made my breathing a bit difficult since I’ve not been training in a few weeks. Maybe having something to do with being diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma a couple months ago. Crap, I’m falling apart! I expected to be a lot older than 41 before having to deal with arthritis, rotator cuff problems and asthma. But things could also be a lot worse, so I hesitate to complain.

So despite an abbreviated ride today, it was still a pretty great day. And the house cleaning is finished. I wish all of you a Happy New Year! Be safe out there.

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 353: Louisville’s Red Zone Cycling wins USA Cycling’s Club of the Year award

22 12 2010

USA Cycling recently announced the awards for the 2010 Club of the Year – clubs recognized for outstanding programs throughout the season. The winners receive complimentary renewal fees for 2011. According to USA Cycling’s Web site, “Clubs were judged on several key areas including race promotion, membership composition, instructional clinics and seminars, club activities, charitable contributions, and racing performance.”

Louisville’s Red Zone Cycling won the Junior division for the third year in a row. Red Zone Cycling is designed for ages 6-16 of all cycling abilities and provides increased challenges to enable riders to move to higher levels of racing. The club hosts various mountain bike, cyclocross and road biking events throughout the season. It’s nice to see a great organization recognized for their hard work. Congratulations to Red Zone Cycling!

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 351: Don’t drink the water

20 12 2010

I know this isn’t cycling related, but an article I read today on CNN was disturbing. According to a report released by the Environmental Working Group, a dangerous carcinogen called hexavalent chromium (or chromium-6) has been found in the drinking water of at least 31 U.S. cities. Normally, I’m not surprised when I hear about various hazardous substances showing up in our food or water. Disturbed, but not surprised. I think the U.S. government could do a lot more to regulate the safety of our food supply, but that’s a post for another time. I’m sure there are other substances more toxic than chromium-6. In fact, I had no idea what chromium-6 is, but this helped explain it:

“After chromium-6 was discovered in the water supply of Hinkley, California, [Erin] Brockovich helped bring about a lawsuit that ultimately ended in 1996 with the utility company, Pacific Gas & Electric, paying more than $330 million in damages.”

Apparently, exposure to chromium-6 results in an increased risk of stomach cancer and switching to bottled water isn’t the magic fix, since there’s no guarantee that chromium-6 isn’t in that water also. The article suggested buying an effective water filter. We always use one of the Brita filters, but who knows whether or not that gets rid of the substance.

Even more disturbing: Louisville ranked at #22 on the list of 35 cities studied in the report. Is your city on the list? Find out here. And if you want to watch an excellent documentary on how a small handful of major corporations are involved in the control of our nation’s food industry, be sure to watch Food, Inc.

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 343: Metro Parks seeks input on Louisville Loop

12 12 2010

A public meeting at the Shawnee Park Clubhouse will be held Monday, Dec. 13 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss signage and wayfinding for the Louisville Loop. Metro Parks’ staff is developing the plan to help improve access, safety, education and the overall experience of the 23 miles of existing section of the Loop. “Public input is critical throughout the entire process of the development of the Loop, especially as we enter this new phase of sign and wayfinding,” Metro Parks Director Mike Heitz said. “We’re hoping residents continue to show their interest in this project on Dec. 13.”

Future segments of the Loop include:

  • paths along the Olmsted Parkways
  • a route along the Ohio River, leading from the northeast suburbs to Waterfront Park
  • the Floyds Fork Greenway, from Bardstown Road to Shelbyville Road
  • a southwest route from the Ohio River Levee Trail and Riverwalk extending through McNeely Lake Park to Bardstown Road
  • a northeast route, from Shelbyville Road to River Road

Come out Monday night to give your input during the public meeting.

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 339: Bike camera lottery idea

8 12 2010

Last year, Volkswagen held a contest called “The Fun Theory.” The idea behind the “Fun Theory” was that people’s behavior can change for the better even by doing something simple. While poking around online today, I ran across the “Speed Camera Lottery” which was the winning contest entry.  I remember seeing one of the other contest entries (the piano stairs), but somehow I haven’t heard about the speed camera until now.

The Speed Camera Lottery works like this: rather than ticketing speeders, this camera would enter law-abiding drivers into a lottery. Randomly selected winners would win a portion of the tickets paid by the speeding drivers. Kevin Richardson, who submitted the idea for the camera, worked with The Swedish National Society for Road Safety and Volkswagen to put the camera into reality in Stockholm, Sweden. Before the camera was installed, the average speed was 32 km/h. After installation, speed was reduced 22 percent to 25 km/h.

I think it’s a great idea that has a lot of potential. Here’s my idea for Louisville: try something similar with drivers who are kind to cyclists. Drivers who buzz cyclists, honk, flip them off or otherwise act like an @$$hole receive a fine in the mail. Drivers who are kind, patient and courteous to cyclists are entered into a lottery where selected winners receive a payout of the money paid into the “lottery” by the angry drivers.

Okay, so maybe it’s a silly idea, but there’s got to be some way to help drivers learn to share the road.

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.