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 363: 10 Steps for Better Cycling Performance

1 01 2011

As we start the new year, I’m making preparations for getting in better shape. This “10 Steps for Better Cycling Performance” article from training4cyclists.com seemed a perfect place to start.

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

_O
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…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 335: Powder coating an old bicycle frame

4 12 2010

During dinner tonight, Carrick and I were discussing what color to paint her old bike once we start the fixie conversion project. This site seemed to have good instructions on a do-it-yourself method, but if we’re going to go to the trouble to rebuild the bike ourselves, then we would hate to do a half-assed paint job on it. We figure that taking the frame to a bike shop for proper powder-coating is the best way to do it.

I’ve talked to a couple people who have recommended Vic’s Classic Bikes here in town. They apparently do powder coating and have many different colors to choose from. We’re going check it out tomorrow. I’m guessing other bike shops in town probably also do powder coating, so we’ll be calling around. If you have suggestions, please let me know.

Have you rebuilt a bicycle? If so, did you paint it yourself or get it powder coated?

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 318: Park Tool School – Day 4 of 4

17 11 2010

Tonight was the last of the four Park Tool School classes we took at Bluegrass Bicycle. (Summaries of the previous three classes are available here, here and here.) For the final class tonight we discussed brake systems:

  • Types of caliper brakes: rotors; hydraulic brakes; linear V-brakes; disc brakes (how they work and the different brands, such as Shimano, Tektro and Hayes)
  • Caliper rim brake systems: brake levers; cable systems and cable housing; brake pads and alignment; and brake pad toeing.

Much like the “ah-ha” moment I had Monday night when replacing the shifter cable, tonight I realized how simple it is to replace brake cables. Before tonight, I was never quite sure how the brake cables were repaired or replaced (and was a bit intimidated by them). Now I know they’re actually pretty easy to do. I cut the rear brake cable on my bike and within just a few minutes had removed the old cable and installed the new one and I’m ready to roll. Or stop, as the case may be.

We’re really glad we took the class. Tom at Bluegrass Bicycle was a great instructor and our “classmates” were all very nice. Now I feel much more comfortable about working on our bikes. If you want to learn basic (but very detailed) repairs and maintenance, I highly recommend the Park Tool School. It’s definitely money well spent.

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

         _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( ) 

Thanks for visiting.





Day 316: Park Tool School – Day 3 of 4

15 11 2010

Here’s what we covered in tonight’s Park Tool School class:

  • Derailleur systems: cable attachment; height and rotation adjustment; limit screws; chainline; hanger alignment and repair; troubleshooting; cable systems; and shifters
  • Internal gear systems: SRAM and Shimano
  • Handlebars, stems, seatposts and saddles
  • Headsets: replacement and installation; stack height; threaded and unthreaded steering columns; and headset types and service.

After cutting, removing and replacing the rear shifter cable on my bike tonight, I feel much more comfortable with how the cables and derailleurs work. I’ve always been a bit hesitant to mess with my derailleurs for fear I’d screw up something important. Replacing the cables seemed very simple and the adjustments to the front and rear derailleurs seem much less intimidating now.

I found a couple YouTube videos that explained the two “ah-ha!” moments I had tonight:

Carrick has an old 10-speed bike she had back in high school that she’s been wanting to convert to a single-speed. We’re thinking that might be a good “first” project for us to try. It would be a good way for us to have a chance to put all this new information to good use. Tinkering with an old (currently unused) bike will help us get used to doing various maintenance and repairs, which will hopefully make us more comfortable doing them on our good road bikes when the need arises. If we screw up something on the “project” bike, then we’ll take it to someone who really knows what they’re doing.

Today’s food journal

Breakfast:
— Strawberry, banana, peach smoothie = 6 points

Lunch:
– Spinach salad with apple and veggie chicken patty = 6 points

Snack:
— Multigrain Sun Chips = 4 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 315: Wind chill calculator

14 11 2010

Despite the fact that it’s mid-November, it’s been surprisingly warm the past few weeks with temperatures in the 60s and 70s. I’ve found that once temps get in the low 60s I have to start layering my clothing when I go out for a ride. (Recently I discussed my lack of motivation for riding in cold weather.) Today, I enjoyed a nice 15 mile ride with temperatures in the low 50s. I know the good-weather days are going to end soon as Winter moves in. While I was riding today, I wondered what exactly the wind chill was. My math skills leave a lot to be desired, so I turned to Google to search for a good explanation on wind chill and how it’s calculated. This chart from the National Weather Service was pretty helpful:

National Weather Service wind chill chart

Apparently, this is the formula the U.S. National Weather Service uses to calculate wind chill:

T(wc) = 0.0817(3.71V**0.5 + 5.81 -0.25V)(T – 91.4) + 91.4
T(wc) is the wind chill, V is wind speed in miles per hour and T is the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. 

I have no idea what this means, nor how to calculate the numbers. (I was an English major – math frustrates me.) Maybe some of you can make more sense of it. Or perhaps I can just use a calculator like this one or this one. I found some good information at IceBike.org. I wondered how wind speed differed from cycling into the wind. According to IceBike, cycling into still air is the same as wind speed. Okay, I guess that makes sense. But does the wind chill factor change if a cyclist rides at 15-mph into a 10-mph headwind on a 40-degree day? Or is that the same as what’s stated on the chart? I’m still confused.

Today’s food journal:

Lunch:
— Organic LF yogurt with granola = 5 points

Snack:
— Power Bar = 3 points
— 1 cup LF chocolate milk = 3 points

Dinner: (at restaurant, so I’m estimating points as best I can)
— Black bean lasagna = 13 points
— Iced tea = 0 points

Snack:
— Skinny Cow ice cream = 2 points

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

         _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( ) 

Thanks for visiting.