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 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 320: Lexington’s Legacy Trail

19 11 2010

Next Thursday before we stuff ourselves silly with Thanksgiving dinner, we’re planning to ride the newly-opened Legacy Trail in Lexington. The 12-mile multi-use trail starts in downtown Lexington at the Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden and ends at the Kentucky Horse Park. More than 8.5 miles of the trail are paved and off-street so traffic shouldn’t be a concern.

Our plan is to do the 24-mile out-and-back round trip, then head back to the house for big food. I hope to burn enough calories to help offset Thanksgiving dinner. This will be my first holiday meal since I’ve started Weight Watchers, so I’m trying to plan ahead so I don’t undo what good I’ve done so far. I’m looking forward to checking out the trail. Hopefully I’ll have some video and photos to share after the ride.

Breakfast:
– Organic LF yogurt with granola = 5 points

Lunch:
– 2 pieces Papa John’s cheese pizza (original crust) = 9 points
– Diet Root Beer = 0 points

Dinner:
– White bean chicken chili = 6 points (est.)
– Iced tea = 0 points

Snack:
– Skinny Cow ice cream = 2 points

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

         _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 290: Local cycling advocate ticketed for taking the lane

20 10 2010

David Morse, a local cyclist (and Vice President of the Coalition for the Advancent of Regional Transportation (CART) received a traffic citation today for failing to use a provided bike lane. David is one of the instructors of the Bicycle Safety class for new riders (sponsored by Louisville Bicycle Club and the League of American Bicyclists). I took the class last year when I first started riding. David and the other instructors (Tom and Katie) are some of the most knowledgeable people about cycling that I’ve met. 

Here is David’s summary of the event today (copied and posted here with his permission. Thanks, David!):

It’s hard to tell from the citation, but it looks like I’ll be cited under 601 KAR 14:020, Section 9(2): “If a highway lane is marked for the exclusive use of bicycles, the operator of a bicycle shall use the lane whenever feasible”, or perhaps KRS 189.300 “The operator of any vehicle moving slowly upon a highway shall keep his vehicle as closely as practicable to the right-hand boundary of the highway, allowing more swiftly moving vehicles reasonably free passage to the left.”

The officer and I disagreed on what constituted “feasible” and “practicable”. It was a 7′ (update: 8′) parking lane with 5′ bike lane, then a ~10′ vehicular lane (update: 11′) and yet another 10′ vehicular lane, all going south on 3rd street heading for University of Louisville. On-street parking was packed, and next to it was the skimpiest bike lane in the Chicago Bike Lane Standards, but stuck onto a heavier traffic street by our resourceful local engineers.

I had a dilemma (actually a trilemma):

  1. Ride fully in the bike lane, and hope no doors opened into my path.
  2. Ride partially in the bike lane, as far to the right while being safe from doorings, but in a position that would surely cause motorists to pass me without sufficient safety margin.
  3. Ride fully in the vehicular lane, forcing motorists in the same lane to change lanes in order to pass.

I opted for 3, but there really was no good solution.

David chose to take the right-hand lane, as he is allowed to do. This street does have two traffic lanes, giving plenty of room for vehicles to pass cyclists in the left lane. As he points out, the problem is the bike lane, which is clearly within range of a cyclist getting “doored” by drivers exiting parked cars. Herein lies the problem with bike lanes. Shown below is a diagram (David’s creation) of the street:

I ride this street from downtown to the U of L area quite often. When I feel it’s safe, I use the bike lane. However, after a couple close calls with car doors (on this street in addition to others), I prefer to take the lane when it’s safe for me to do so. Particularly since cars have another lane in which to pass me. I talked about this recently here.

I think the question here is who makes the decision on when it’s safe to use the bike lane versus taking the lane? It would seem that it should be the cyclist’s decision. For example, if I’m riding in a bike lane but encounter road debris or potholes, then I’m going to move into the traffic lane instead. Legally though, I wonder whose decision is it? The cyclist’s? The cop’s? The judge’s? I don’t know the answer. I’m looking forward to hearing what happens with David’s case. I’ll keep you posted.

Today’s food journal:

Breakfast:
— Strawberry banana smoothie = 4.5 points

Lunch:
— Homemade chicken salad = 5 points
— Pita pocket = 2 points
— Weight Watchers brownie = 2 points

Snack:
— Apple = 1.5 points

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

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 282: Louisville Loop community meeting, Oct. 19 @ 5:30

12 10 2010

Louisville area residents will have an opportunity to give their opinion on the next phase of the Louisville Loop. A community meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 5:30 p.m. at Farnsley-Moreman Landing (7410 Moorman Road). The meeting will start with an open house at 5:30, showing maps and information about the southwest phase of the Loop: the Pond Creek corridor and potential ecological restoration areas. This area is bounded by the Jefferson Memorial Forest on the south, the Ohio River Levee Trail on the west, Third Street Road on the north, and National Turnpike on the east. (I previously talked about the northeast section of the loop in a post back in May.)

At 7 p.m., the meeting will include mapping and details of the entire Louisville Loop, an overview of the Pond Creek watershed, an overview of related Metro Parks projects and more. I’m not sure I can get off work in time to make it to the meeting, but I’m going to try.

Today’s food journal:

Breakfast:
— Strawberry, banana smoothie with LF organic yogurt = 4.5 points

Lunch:
— PB&J on whole wheat = 3 points
— 1/4 cantaloupe = 1 point
— Diet root beer = 0 points

Snack:
— Power Bar = 3 points

Dinner:
— Club sandwich on wheat = 8.5 points
— Potato chips (about 6) = 3 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 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.