Saturday, December 24, 2011
It looks like the weather will hold for the rest of the week. I wish there were some more options for mountain biking, but in the spirit of the season I will be happy with receive.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
I normally try not to do anything that takes effort on Sunday (physically or mentally) but I could not resist. I added some air to the tires of my Anthem X 29er, loaded it into my Trooper and moved out.
When I arrived at Sunderbruch Park the sun was starting to dip a little and the shadows were long. BOB is already riding a little low and I noticed as I rode along a ridge that my shadow was tracing my path on the other side of the draw.
I am not sure how that is comfortable, but he didn't want to get down?
Friday, November 11, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
I get up early and go to work. I usually spend 10+ hours staring at a screen. I work in the middle of the building and some days 4 or more hours go by before I realize I haven't looked outside. I change the font, add a cloud or a gear shaped text box, push print and hope that someone will say "wow that is a really pretty power point slide."
Then I go home. Exhausted! I quickly get ready for the next day and entertain children. About 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. I can squeeze in an hour for myself. But let's face it, by then I can barely get the motivation breath, let alone think about going out and doing something great.
I guess I am like most people, I just want to do something great. Maybe even amazing (at least to my standard as I am not sponsored by RedbulI). I just lack the time thanks to the amount of effort it takes to be mediocre at work.
I have decided that this winter I am going to build a bike that represents my desire to do something great. I want to build a Surly Ogre, a touring bike capable of going places most touring bikes can't go. I will call it the "Dream" or something like that. I will pull out the thesaurus.
At a minimum it will be set up to face the challenge of Davenport and the Government bridge to the island.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Summer has nice long days but it has bugs and heat. When it comes down to it, fall is probably the best season for riding or any activity. I love the sound of the leaves crunching under my feet or tires. I like it when a leaf becomes lodged in bottom bracket region of my bike and rubs on the tire creating a sound that reminds me of using a playing card and clothes pin to make motorcycle sounds on my BMX bike as a kid.
Here are some pictures from Sylvan Island, my new favorite location for Forced Family Outings (FFOs). Though it doesn't provide a ton of mountain biking trails, the random nature of them coupled with the industrial obstacles makes it fun. It is amazing how nature can reclaim itself. While "scars" still exist from a steel mill, Sylvan Island still provides a healthy dose of nature.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
2. Sore muscles: During and after rides. Mainly during the ride.
3. Fatigue: Mainly after riding
4. Sore body: During and after, especially if there is a crash.
5. $$$: I just bent some teeth on what has turned out to be a $100 Shimano XT chain ring trying to clear an old building foundation on Sylvan Island. I think I will just stay with the middle ring for now.
Considering these six conditions, I am not sure why I spend so much time riding or dreaming about riding. Maybe some day I will figure it out. In the mean time, I will take some ibuprofen to get rid of the pain from today's outing.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
All was well until I left my water bottles at the SAG stop. It just so happened that this was the section with no convenient stores for 30 miles. I basically rode on the 8 oz mountain dew I drank at the SAG. At the end of the day, was ready to be done. I am not sure if we got a lot of assistance from the wind. It certainly didn't feel like it.
Notes for the future:
1. Eat breakfast
2. Drink water before the ride (don't leave bottles during the ride)
3. Ride a little before a century.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
Below are some super high quality pics of my ride stats. If you need to, turn your monitor sideways to view the pictures.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
I have done quite a few 30 mile rides during the last few weeks. During that time I have been been making a lot of adjustments that will make longer distances more comfortable.
The Basso is set up for racing and has a stem that drops a little more than I would like. Not that I spend a lot of time in drops but it is nice to have a variety of riding positions, this helps kinks in the back and arms. I moved the stem up a quarter of an inch. We will see if that helps.
I also picked up some Continental Gatorskins in a 25c. I have heard great things about them and the larger size will help reduce some of the road chatter.
The other day I had to pull the bottom bracket and grease it. Apparently the grease had broken down as it sat for 15 years. I couldn't take the creaking anymore. That was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I initially planned on taking into the LBS, however, the guy said it would be cheaper if I did it. So far so good.
I also bought a box of Pearson's Salted Nut Rolls. This is one of the best candy bars ever. They have as many calories as your standard energy bar but better tasting. I plan on loading my jersey pockets with them for the century.
You know what they say, "no pain, no pain."
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
After resisting the urge to shoot the dog, I decided that I am not going to buy another pair. I have no requirement to have a pair. I wear boots to work and I have really shiny shoes to wear with my fancy uniform. I am assuming that God is pleased that I go to church so I am not sure that he is overly concerned with the fact that I am wearing Keen sandals with my khakis, white shirt, and tie.
It then occurred to me that my old mountain bike shoes that I have been using for everything from road, mountain, and commuting have sat within chewing range of a puppy for over a month. Why can't the rest of the shoe industry make shoes like Specialized mountain bike shoes.
I bought them in 2007 on sale for about $75 and they refuse to die. Not that I am looking for a reason to spend $100 on a new pair of MTB shoes when the ones I have are functional, but I would rather spend $100 on a new pair of biking shoes than some cheap feeling/looking dress shoes.
These shoes are well constructed and the weak link is actually the result of pedal design, not shoe design.
I would like to see how long they will go but my fear is that when they do, it will be some catastrophic, Youtube worthy event, in which the shoe breaks where the pedal has worn through to sole. This of course would happen when applying the most cranking power and my body would become a tangled mess with the bike. I would then have to do the walk of shame for many miles.
I just wish I knew how many miles those shoes have seen.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
For this post, I would like to tell you about another Non-Bucket List (NBL) achievement. For those of you not familiar with my Non-Bucket List, select the hypertext above. Basically, it is the list of things I have never wanted to do, but have had the opportunity to partake.
I am currently enjoying a bit of vacation following a long deployment without leave. I decided to run to my local bike shop (LBS) to knock out some of the various bike related tasks on my list. I needed to get some work done on a wheel that was "rubbed" out of true by Father Christmas a while ago. I also needed to get a replacement part for the roof rack on my car (I can only carry one bike right now and that makes it tough to decide what to take). After those tasks had been completed, I decided I would stop at a highly pretentious bike shop and look at stuff that I don't need when I passed a 7-11.
I am a big fan of 7-11, I wish they would resurrect their bike racing team. I needed gas and was thirsty since it was over 100 degrees and I was hot. I pumped gas and as I walked in I noticed that they were giving out free Slurpees in celebration of 7/11/11. The cups for the celebration were tiny and since this is probably one of the busiest 7-11s in the country (based on the following NBL observation), there was only one flavor that was somewhat frozen. I opted for a soda instead.
I pre-paid for my gas and my beverage and went out and watched how quickly $40 in gas was pumped. Here is where the non-bucket list celebration begins. I turned the key and got nothing. I turned the key again…..NBL 7-11-11 Celebration begins. I dug through my glove compartment for my all encompassing insurance/bank/motor club/California Home Psychic club card. Nothing but plastic façades that used to be attached to certain adjustment levers on my car (I have been meaning to put them back on) and about one half of a lifetime worth of napkins. On a side note, I think I have an idea for a new business in which I will repackage and sell napkins to restaurants.
Did I mention that it was 100 degrees with who knows how much humidity?
So I called Emily for some SAG support…..nothing. I tried her cell……nothing. I called every 30 seconds for about 10 minutes. Did I mention it was 100 degrees? Finally Vance answered the phone; clearly the constant ringing interrupted his Wii video game time.
"Hi daddy, where are you?"
"I am in Richmond, where is your mother?"
"Dad, what are you doing?"
"Nothing Vance, where is your mother?"
"When are you going to be home?"
"I don't know big man, where is your mother?"
"She is outside in the yard."
………Did I mention that it was 100 degrees?
"Vance please bring the phone to her!"
"Hey dad, I just beat Darth Maul in a lightsaber duel!"
"Great…just give the phone to your mother!!!"
Emily called the roadside service number and I got an automated message "assistance is expected to arrive at your location in about 40 minutes." Meanwhile I have watched about 50 cars come and go for gas and I feel a little bad that I am occupying a spot in front of the pump. Almost 40 minutes later a car shows up and hooks a battery booster thing to my battery and I crank it…..nothing. He hooks his car up and I crank it…..nothing. Before any words are exchanged he got in his car and drove off.
By that point I had been sitting at the pump for about an hour in the heat. I looked as if I just finished a marathon. I called Emily and told her I needed a tow. She called the roadside service number. About 10 minutes later I got a call "assistance is expected to arrive at your location in about 40 minutes."
I went inside and bought another cold drink and mentioned to the cashier that I was sorry I had been at the pump for over an hour. She said "Oh, I hadn't even noticed you." At that point I realized she was so busy dealing with people who were there for free slurpees that she didn't even care that I was sitting there.
At that point I went over and sat next to the sign that said "No Loitering!!!" and watched people. For those of you that are not familiar with the Carytown area of Richmond, I will do my best to describe it. It is a really trendy area that boarders a not so trendy, poor area of Richmond. Carytown has it all, poor people, rich people, trendy American Apparel wearing people, people who have a lot of money but dress like poor people, and tattoo covered people which fit into all of the previously mentioned categories of people. All of which came out of the woodwork to get a free Slurpee. I am glad to know that all walks of life can unite in a common cause.
I even got to ride in a tow truck for 30 miles. Believe it or not, that is also on my Non-Bucket List!
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
I am back in the saddle again. After a year in Pakistan I am trying to get get my pedaling legs back. It doesn't help that the new wheels came stock with a different and painfully thin saddle. I knew it would take some getting used to and secretly I wanted to get the slightly more plush seat(slightly more comfy still means a lot less comfortable then....sitting on a couch). But I run into one small problem; it matches the bike and looks really great.
That is the problem, bike vanity. A good set of biking shorts took the edge off, but it still took a while before I was walking around like I had not been roping cattle for a week. On another note, it has been challenging for me to get distance in on my road bike (time and effort). I used to be able to ride for hours, it seemed as though anything less than 20 miles was not a challenge. I can get about 10 miles at a time out of the mountain bike and about the same from the road (which is pathetic considering I have already signed up for a century in Iowa this September).
The only thing that saved me from intense pain was the fact that Dan the Goose and I went to the gym just about every morning for a few months before I came home. Full body conditioning is essential and thanks to that time spent cleaning up after others in the embassy weight room I found my neck, back, and arms have not had the same pain as my derriere. While it is true that you never forget how to ride a bike, the body seems to forget how the bike rides.
I brought my Las Cruces to the beach, inspired by the Tour de France, I rode about 5 miles to the Krispy Kreme. I felt great, not fully realizing that it was the nice tailwind helping me cruise down the road. I think I actually burned off the entire donut fighting the head wind and the urge to drop into my granny gear (it is good to know I have a little dignity left).
Friday, February 4, 2011
By the way, a child being a challenge was not the epiphany, that is common knowledge. Before we get to the epiphany, I would like to start with with a caveat. Here is the caveat; my wife does not like it when I write about her however, this post is very complimentary, in fact it is downright impressive. She is an amazing woman who is tough and unforgiving (towards my stupidity). She is really amazing.
It is now for the epiphany. Several years ago while I was in Iraq communication was difficult. I had to wait at the morale center for hours to use the phone and internet. Because it was inconvenient and time consuming coupled with a 12 hour time change, I only called my wife a couple times a week. It worked well and I think my wife enjoyed hearing from me. I was gone for 16 months and everything was fine when I got home, though Vance was not familiar with the term “daddy” and neither he nor Olivia would respect my authority.
Now I have a cell phone that is provided for security reasons. Overseas calls are 2 cents a minute. I also have internet in my room! My wife has a cell phone and internet at the house. So naturally I call my wonderful wife every time I feel sad and lonely, which is most of the time. The dilemma is that she is not sad and lonely. In fact, she will not be lonely for a while with four kids in her face. So one day she answered the phone with a “what! Do you want, I just missed my exit!!!” and hung up. At first I was taken aback by the way she answered so I called another 6 or 7 times when a friend of hers answered the phone. I quickly wiped away the tears and tried to make my voice sound less quivery. It turns out she was making snow cones for about 200 kids. It occurred to me that just because I have nothing to do but work, doesn’t mean she doesn’t have anything to do.
Moreover, the other day I convinced her that we should skype again soon. She reluctantly agreed. Technology is amazing, however, what I realized was that just because I have the free time to concentrate on skyping, doesn’t mean she does. In fact every time I call whether it is skype or on the phone, she cannot devote the proper amount of time to the kids; which is to say that when she is on the phone the monkeys are running to zoo.
This is where the epiphany plays in. I have been here for about 8 months and it occurred to me that Emily has more than demonstrated that I am not needed accept for early in the tax season to provide a W-2 that she cannot access online (strangely that is the only e-mail I have received from her that was not a reply to one I sent her). In fact, I think that I may actually be a distraction when I am home because I rile the kids. Furthermore, when I do get home after 11 months of being away, the kids won’t listen to me anyway. One of them will not even be able to say “daddy” let alone recognize who I am and none of them will respect what little authority I do have (I realized a while ago that mom rules the roost). The flash of genius was bright, almost blinding. If I can leave a year at a time, why can’t I ride my bike or go fishing every day after work, Emily does just fine.
Additionally, since calling her several times a day is a major distraction we could casually talk for a few minutes in the evening after I clean up from my bike ride and before bed. I could help microwave French toast sticks in the morning and I will have contributed more than I am when overseas and I am not getting in the way or getting on her nerves like I normally do. As long as I remember to print my W-2 during tax season we would have the perfect relationship and I could ride bikes every day!
I am a genius!
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Using the same logic, some days end early when I say “to heck with it” and throw in the towel. But that only works if I am not stuck at the office because I cannot actually go home at 10:15 a.m. when the towel is thrown. The best solution I have is an excel worksheet someone created titled “the Circle of Freedom.” This is an up to the day, second by second tracking device. If there is any question as to how long I have been here, I press F9. While it may seem that looking at time served by seconds may not seem like the best way to see time go by it is better than trying to decide when the day ends, especially this week, it could be just one long day.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
A group of my friends and I were eating lunch on a mid-October day when I mentioned that we were rapidly approaching “Movember.” I have a reputation of being a prankster and making up random facts about history, so everyone quickly wrote me off. Later that day I sent them a link to the Movember website. The only problem is that mustaches are not held in high regard in the Air Force or Army; I am not sure about the Navy, but I don’t think anyone really is sure about the Navy. We agreed that we would all grow mustaches even if it meant dealing with prejudice in the form of supervisors harasing us about being out of regulation.
It was an instant success, with local Pakistanis and throughout the U.S. Embassy (at least at our level). In fact I think it actually boosted productivity. One of the participants G-Money (not his real name) stated that he actually looked forward to coming to work for once so he could see the progress. He then stated “Movember is the best idea we have had.” He even mentioned the utility of the mustache; it is something to fiddle with during long meetings. People I barely knew would say things like “hey, nice Movember” or “You are very handsome” (which was definitely due to the mustache, since I am not normally handsome).
I finally got my computer back from HP and went online to skype. Vance could hardly contain himself, he laughed and asked if I bought my "mushmash" or if I grew it. Which is a legitimate question in the region of the world where the fake mustache is an integral part of Bollywood.
One of the best highlights of Movember was the day that Billy (not his real name) was walking through the security check point. It is manned by Pakistani guards, many of who speak broken English. “Billy” was walking through the checkpoint when he noticed an article of interest in a newspaper sitting on a counter top. He stopped briefly to read it. He was suddenly drawn out of the article; he thought he heard someone say “Movember.” It was early in the morning and he knew he was the only American in the room. He turned around and the guard, who could barely speak English, was smiling and others were laughing at the new addition to his vocabulary. “Billy” even kept his through the middle of December so he could show his wife during Rest and Recuperation leave. Though I believe he had to dry shave in the airport as soon as she saw it.
The best thing about being in an organization that frowns upon facial hair is that it is obvious and leads to a very important question, “WHY?” Especially when we are clearly in violation of grooming standards (a mustache cannot extend past the corners of the mouth). This no doubt opened the door for the real message, cancer awareness. Many of the local Pakistanis we interact with regularly took notice and always commented on our mustaches (it is a cultural thing) and frequently would ask the question, which got the same explanation, awareness.
Although we had to keep them as close to tolerance as possible, in the end it boosted moral and awareness as we slug away through a year of monotony and frustration.