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 352: Cyclingforwater.com

21 12 2010

Many people every year ride the TransAmerica Trail and each cyclist has their own specific reason for doing it, whether it’s to fulfill a personal goal, enjoy the scenery or raise money for a charity. California photographer Brittany App and Oregon videographer Garrett Russell are riding the Southern Tier to raise awareness to bring fresh drinking water for those in need.

The 3,159-mile journey from San Diego, California to St. Augustine, Florida is expected to take around three months. Riding 40-70 miles each day, they make stops in cities and towns along the way to raise awareness and money for WaterAid, an international charity working to provide fresh and clean water to people in Africa and Asia. Their fundraising goal is $20,000. Throughout their trip, they are documenting the details on their Web site, cyclingforwater.com.

Ode Magazine had a good article about their ride last month, when they were about half way through their journey. To find out more or to make a donation, visit cyclingforwater.com.

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting





Day 313: Stringbike replaces chain with pulleys and cords

12 11 2010

In Wednesday’s Park Tool School, one of the things we learned was how to do maintenance and repairs on the bike’s chain. We discussed chain sizing, installation, link repair, tension adjustment, cleaning and lubrication. Just think how cool it would be to have a bike without a chain to deal with (and without the greasy mess). Meet the Stringbike: a Hungarian product manufactured and sold by Schwinn-Csepel Zrt. Rather than a traditional chain, the Stringbike uses a pulley system with very strong polyethylene cords which require no lubrication. A friend at work sent me this video today (thanks, Carla!). As described on their Web site:

“The STRINGBIKE® has two identical but oppositely directed driving units at either side of the frame. The rotation of the pedals forces a swinging arm to swing forward and backward around its shaft. The forward segment of this motion pulls a rope wound around a drum on the rear shaft that makes the wheel to rotate. As the two sides move in mirror symmetry, there is always one arm that moves forward, thus the rear wheel is always driven. In this way the task of actual driving is taken unnoticeably from the right to the left side and vice versa.”

Here’s another video from YouTube:

Gears can be changed even with the bike is stationary because the pivoted shafts at both driving units can move easily up or down. Since no lube is required, the Stringbike won’t get you dirty and allows you to store or transport the bike without worrying about making a mess. (Here’s another article from Wired magazine.) I can’t seem to find anything about the cost, but it looks like a great idea. Engineers are pretty smart people! (Isn’t that right, Dad?) 🙂

In other news, I’m looking forward to going for some nice long bike rides with Carrick this weekend. Hopefully the pedals, bottom bracket, cassette or anything else I’ve tinkered with in the Park Tool classes this week won’t fall off.

I did horrible on the diet today. Didn’t even track all the crap I ate. It was one of those days. But I’m back on track tomorrow.

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

         _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( ) 

Thanks for visiting.





Day 270: Alberto Contador’s Tainted Meat and Donuts in Hell

30 09 2010

So it was a big day in the cycling world today! Alberto Contador admitted to testing positive for a steroid called clenbuterol during the Tour de France in July. Obviously this is a huge story and has been covered by many different media outlets today: CNN, USA Today and Sportsscientists.com were just a few that I read today. Here’s a quote from the CNN article:

“It is a food contamination case of which I am the victim.” He [Contador] added that the test result was due to bad meat he and several other riders had eaten the day before the test.

“When they confirmed to me what had happened the first thing I did was ask the UCI which of my fellow riders had passed the test.

“They said the only one who passed the control … was Alexandre Vinokourov. [He was the only one of the riders] who did not eat the meat on that day.”

I also saw on BikePure’s Twitter feed that a RadioShack rider, Fuyu Li, also tested positive for clenbuterol. It was unclear whether or not he also ate the “tainted meat” that the others claim is the reason for the positive sample. In addition, this USA Today article describes the grand jury testimony by physiologist Allen Lim in the Lance Armstrong investigation.

I expect that the professional cyclists in the Tour who participate in doping, far outnumber those who don’t, but does it make it right? No. And it’s sad to think that cheating is so inherent to most sports now that no one seems to really care anymore. Pro baseball players fail a drug test and they get slapped on the wrist. NFL players, same thing. It doesn’t really matter what sport. It’s just disappointing to know that the majority of them cheat.

I’m looking forward to finding out more information on the results of the UCI’s investigation into Contador.

In other news, it was weigh-in day at Weight Watchers today. I lost .8 pounds, which isn’t much, but it’s better than last week’s 2.4-pound gain. The past two weeks I’ve been frustrated and unmotivated. Actually, I’m rather tired of counting points and keeping track of everything I eat. But I’ve done a lot better cutting out candy and sweets. Now I need to work on doing the same with bread and carbs. Mmmm, bread! Reminds me of this scene from the Simpsons:

Who knew they serve donuts in Hell?! 🙂

Today’s food journal:

Breakfast:
— Whole wheat bagel thin = 1 point
— 1 Tbsp peanut butter = 2 points
— 1 banana = 1.5 points

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

Snack:
— Apple = 1.5 points

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

Snack:
— Skinny Cow ice cream bar = 2 points

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( ) 

Thanks for visiting.





Day 268: Athlete’s HoneyMilk

28 09 2010

Athlete's HoneyMilk

 

Did you know that yesterday was National Chocolate Milk Day? Yeah, me neither. I saw it mentioned online yesterday after I published last night’s post. There seems to be a national holiday for almost everything. Much the same as there seems to be a patron saint for just about everything (even one for cyclists, as I mentioned here and here.) 

I couldn’t let National Chocolate Milk Day pass by without participating by drinking a big glass of ice cold milk. My favorite is Horizon Organic low fat chocolate milk. When I’ve had a good bike ride and come home hot and tired, I pour a glass of chocolate milk as a recovery drink. It’s probably my imagination, but it seems to help me feel less tired and I rarely experience sore muscles after a ride. Oddly, though, I hate regular white milk. 

The link from Women’s Running magazine mentions a product called Athlete’s HoneyMilk, a high-protein drink which is made from real milk and honey. It seems to be marketed as a lactose-free alternative to milk, but I’m a little confused how it’s lactose-free if it’s made from real milk. Maybe I just missed something in the description of the product. I’d like to try it, but I’m not sure it’s available in stores. (You can order it online on their Web site.) 

What’s your favorite recovery drink or snack? If any of you have tried HoneyMilk, let me know. I’m curious to know what you think. 

Today’s food journal (I completely blew it at dinner tonight, but I’m back on track tomorrow): 

Breakfast:
— Whole wheat bagel thin = 1 point
— 1 Tbsp peanut butter = 2 points
— 1 small banana = 1.5 points 

Lunch:
— Spinach salad = 0 points
— Light Lime salad dressing = 2 points
— 1 apple = 1 point
— Weight Watchers chocolate brownie = 1 point 

Snack:
— 1 sugar-free jello cup = 0 points 

Dinner:
— 8″ pepperoni pizza (thin crust) = 18 points (HOLY CRAP! Guess I’m fasting tomorrow.)
— 1 breadstick = 2 points
— Iced tea = 0 points 

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride! 

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( ) 

Thanks for visiting.





Day 257: Louisville makes list of “America’s Foodiest Towns” in Bon Appetit magazine

17 09 2010

The other day, I noticed a link to an article in Bon Appétit magazine for “America’s Foodiest Towns.” As the sub-heading explained: “Restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton tries to balance exercise with excessive eating in this year’s Bon Appétit award-winning town—where residents enjoy great food as much the great outdoors.” The city taking the #1 spot of course is Boulder, CO. The article explained their judging criteria as, “small towns (fewer than 250,000 people) or with a small-town feel, quality farmers’ markets, concerned farmers, dedicated food media, first-rate restaurants, talented food artisans, and a community of food lovers.”

Louisville was listed as a runner-up: “For three years this bourbon-producing city with a soft spot for Community Supported Agriculture has made our runners-up list–no small feat. And the scene just keeps getting better: The restaurant lineup continues to mature, and there’s a new generation producing artisanal foods.” While Louisville is much larger than 250,000 people, it does have a small-town feel. And yes, there a TON of great restaurants here, many of which have great patios with outdoor seating – perfect for people watching while enjoying a nice meal. Maybe that explains why I’m in Weight Watchers. Too much eating and people-watching and not enough exercise.

Today’s food journal:

Breakfast:
— Chocolate, peanut butter, banana smoothie = 6.5 points

Lunch:
— Jimmy John’s Slim turkey sandwich = 8 points
— Iced tea = 0 points

Dinner:
— Club sandwich on whole wheat = 8.5 points (est.)
— Potato chips = 7 points (est.)
— Iced tea = 0 points

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

          _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( ) 

Thanks for visiting.





Day 254: Cycler’s Cafe named one of Bicycling Magazine’s “America’s Best Shop Rides”

14 09 2010

I received the new October issue of Bicycling Magazine in the mail yesterday. Pretty cool to notice that one of our local bike shops, Cycler’s Cafe, was named in the magazine’s “America’s Best Shop Rides” article, along with a full-page photo (pages 42-43). The shop rides at Cycler’s Cafe are more serious than I’m interested in (30 mph and hills in the parks), but it’s nice to see a local shop get some props in a national magazine. Here’s the information from the magazine:

The ride: Speeds often top 30 mph in the first section of this blistering Tuesday-night ride. The pace dips through Cherokee and Seneca Parks, but heading home it turns into an all-out drag race among 50-plus riders.

The scene: Why the crit-level pace? Because the ride lures the occasional pro, and multi-time road and track national champion Curtis Tolson often shows up. Afterward, the cafe side of the shop serves cold beverages and food.

In addition to being a great magazine, Bicycling always does a great job providing interactive features on their website.  Visit bicycling.com/shoprides to read about 50 more shop rides, download maps* and upload your own rides to share with the magazine’s readers. (*Requires login. And also perhaps a Garmin. I had no way to open the .gpx file.)

Today’s food journal:

Breakfast:
— 1 cup organic low-fat yogurt = 3 points
— 1/2 cup organic granola = 2 points

Lunch:
— Jimmy John’s Slim Turkey sandwich = 8 points
— Diet Coke = 0 points

Dinner:
— Soft pretzel = 7.5 points
— Iced tea = 0 points

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

         _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( ) 

Thanks for visiting.