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.

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Day 346: “New-car smell” cited in hit-and-run case

15 12 2010
Seriously?! This moron (and his dumb@$$ lawyer) are really using this as a plausible excuse for rear-ending a cyclist in July and leaving the scene of the accident:
 
New Mercedes smell may have contributed to sleep apnea
 
The driver, Martin Erzinger, was driving his new 2010 Mercedes when he either lost consciousness or fell asleep, causing him to rear-end the bicyclist, Dr. Stephen Milo, who suffered a spinal injury and facial cuts in the crash. John Koziol of Koziol Forensic investigated the accident and found that Erzinger’s car was emitting “new car fumes” which may have been a contributing factor in the accident. Riiiight. I’m no lawyer or detective, but I suspect Erzinger’s sleep apnea played more of a part in the crash than the “new-car smell.”

I suppose if the consumption of Twinkies and other junk food was actually used as an argument to support diminished capacity in the 1979 trial of San Francisco supervisor Dan White, why not use a “new-car-smell” defense? Or here’s an idea: how about when you cause an accident and injure someone, you act like an adult and face the consequences rather than trying to place blame on someone (or something) else? Maybe Mr. Erzinger is unaware of the word “karma.”

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.





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 323: Rush hour traffic snarls

22 11 2010

Tonight’s commute home from work involved stop-and-go traffic in all five lanes of I-264. What is normally a 15-minute drive (20 maximum) took close to 50 minutes. I’m not sure what caused the back-up, but it’s amusing (and aggravating) to watch the idiots who insist on weaving in and out of the backed up cars, jockeying for a “better” spot – only to get one car length ahead of where they were before. Morons.

As I sat in my car singing along with my Sirius radio, I wondered: “Why am I sitting here? Why have I not gotten off my lazy butt to commute to work on my bike?” I’m not really sure what my hesitation is. As I’ve mentioned before, my bike route to work would be through two beautiful parks. What better way to go to (and from) work than listening to the birds sing, smelling the fresh air and leaving behind the stress of the day, the traffic snarls and road-rage people while I pedal my way to my destination. I guess the idea of getting up early enough to leave the house by 6 a.m. is the only unappealing aspect of the idea.

Do you commute by bike to work? If so, how long is your commute and how early do you have to leave your house? What is your favorite part of bike commuting?

Today’s food journal:

Breakfast:
— Organic whole wheat english muffin with peanut butter = 3 points

Lunch:
– Jimmy John’s Slim turkey sandwich = 8 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 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.