Friday, April 27, 2007

Saw it was...

...time for a change. Blogger has some cool features that let you toy with the look of your blog, so I thought I'd "explore the space" a little. Indulge me, if you will...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Local Bike Shop

If you cycle, and you have a local bike shop that you love, then stories like this are well known to you. I dropped my bike today at World Cup Ski and Cycle for a tuneup (front derailleur isn't as crisp as i want it and overshifts in the big gear), new bar tape, a computer wiring and a new seatpost (set back farther because I have a longer femur and it postions me in the saddle better). In dropping the bike off, I said to the guy that I had a triathlon coming up, so if he could possibly get it done by Saturday, that would be great. He replied that they were backed up, and it might take as long as until Sunday or Monday.

I just got a call and the bike is going to be ready to go at 8.15. The shop closes at 8.00. They jumped me into the line, and are going to work a little later to get me done and back on the bike. now THAT is service, and it's why i shop there, and send people who are looking to buy bikes there.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Swim Night...

I went over to the local middle school for a swim on community night. It was most definitely community pool night. There were loud, screaming kids as far as the eye could see/ear could hear. I could not believe how LOUD it was

They had one lane of the pool set aside for lap swimmers. When I got there, there was one other woman in the swim lane. As I walked over there, three kids from a local Boy Scout Troop hopped in. This, I was sure, was going to be "the suxxor." The kids kept swimming into me and the other woman, until I figured out a way to go around them. At first, I was pretty annoyed, but then I thought about how tough it was to keep focused; and how I hated getting bumped into while swimming, and how I had to keep my head up occasionally to look for other swimmers. It occurred to me that this was actually going to be a better practice for a triathlon than I had originally thought. I considered swimming on top of them or kicking them, just to make it thoroughly authentic, but decided against it.

It was good to get in the pool. I feel like I am not going to die, now. My goal for this triathlon has changed from surviving the swim to not embarrassing myself on the swim. Noble, I know.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Notes from the Road

I FINALLY got to spend some time in the saddle, riding my bike in warm weather and sunshine. I went out for an hour and a half on Saturday and another hour and ten today. All in all, I covered a little over 44 miles with 1700 feet of climbing. Fol owing, some observations:

It might be tempting when you come up to a station wagon and there is a kid in the back to wave or make a goofy face. But then you realize his parents are listening to Slayer...backwards...and you think better of it.

If you're a nurses with a shock of bright red curly hair, you should not wear polka dotted tunics...unless you work for Ringling Brothers.

I can deal with a headwind. But, when you deal with a headwind for half a ride, it is patently unfair for said wind to reverse direction at about the same time you do. It just is.

If the Spanish Inquisition had wanted to be successful, they would have given the Infidels bicycles and sent them out to attack hills. Think about it: you think it's pleasure, but it quickly turns to pain, you start talking to God, and if the hill is big enough, eventually you see Him.

In all honesty, I spent some good time with Him on these rides. On god rides, there comes a point where everything is clicking and your mind is free. I often turn my mind in those moments to God.

I saw a guy riding a Victory today. I caught up with him at the light (I'm not sure he was that happy about it) and told him I liked his bike. We chit-chatted for a bit and then he said he didn't think his bike was heavy enough to trip the light sensor. I showed him where to stop his light, on the sensors, and explained that they are magnetic. I don't think he got it. I wished him well and we went our separate ways.

I saw a guy with a Got the Nerve? t-shirt and told him I was going again this year. He said he hoped to seem me there.

The Susquehanna River is really quite beautiful. It's a little high and muddy right now, but it's a nice place to ride.

It's a bad idea to forget a water bottle. ALWAYS.

I still love my Cannondale!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

VT Friday

For my brother, proud Virginia Tech graduate, and for Hokies everywhere....

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I am sick and tired...

...of riding on a trainer...

...of being cooped up inside...

...of running in near-freezing temperatures in APRIL...

...of cycling in 35 mph winds.

Today I declared war on Mother nature, grabbed my hybrid and headed out. It started to sleet a little, along with the aforementioned 35+ mph winds. I decided to take a detour and LENGTHEN the ride. It ended up being a little over 6 miles, paltry by my usual standards, but much longer than I anticipated when i went out. I'm done with it!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Trainer Time...

I have decided there is very little that is as nind numbing in the world as time spent on a bicycle trainer. That having been said, it was an hour and fifteen minutes of saddle time that I would not have had yesterday, and at this point, in my shape, everything helps.

And, with a Nor'easter on its way in, the trainer may be an even bigger part of this week. ****sigh****

Friday, April 13, 2007

Group Ride

I went for a group ride on Tuesday, my first long ride on the new bike. It occurred to me how out of shape I am as I rode with a group of three B riders. The last time I rode with a B group, I actually led sections of the ride, pulling at the front for others. Not today. Not only was I barely able to keep up with them, but I was constantly getting shelled out the back on the hills. They were a good bunch of guys and took it easy on the downhills, allowing me to catch up, and even waited for me on a couple of occasions. Fortunately, I wasn't the only one who struggled that day. There was another guy who had a bit of a harder time too...but he is 66. Still, being on a bicycle is a good time to think about things.

Last year, the Harrisburg Bicycle Club lost a good guy when Steve passed away from a heart attack, coming back from a ride to Cape May. When I first made the jump up to riding with the B level riders, Steve was the first person to approach me. He made me feel comfortable about making the jump and riding with them, which I will always remember and appreciate. I rode with Steve a lot in the last two years. He was always quick witted, funny, self-deprecating in the way that cyclists often are. Steve had the most unorthodox pedaling motion, hammering the poor things like Jan Ullrich in a fit of anger, pounding the pedals, the pavement into submission.

The four of us spent some time on the ride talking about Steve, reminiscing. I didn't know him well, didn't know him at all outside of cycling circles. But, what I did know was that he loved to ride, was always quick to help someone out, and never had anything bad to say about anyone. He always seemed to have a smile, enjoyed a cold beer at the end of a hard ride, and really loved to take his turn at the front and hammer all of us. I'll miss him.

It was also my first long ride since losing "Lefty" to testicular cancer last August. At one point in my riding career, I wanted to be like Lance, but this is not exactly what I had in mind. Toward the end of the ride it was hard to get comfortable on the saddle. It's strange to think about a "lost boy" on my ride, but I did. I can still ride; I am blessed.

And, to hit the trifecta, it was also the first long ride since being run over by a truck last September. Again, the long layoff took my fitness on the bike down to zero. More than that, I spent a lot of time looking over my shoulder. One of the things that has happened since the accident is that I relive it. Not a lot, but I do. I see it all in my head, and it's hard to chase away. I've long since stopped trying, and now I just try to roll with it, going back through it like a moviegoer, except that at the crucial parts, I am in the movie. Sometimes it's a total reenactment, which isn't that bad. Other times it ends differently. Worse.

I liked being back out there. Having three other riders gave me some cushion, as people give a wide berth to packs of cyclists. Still, I spent a lot of time thinking about the accident. I watched cars and trucks coming up behind me, and I watched them pass me. I made sure they saw us, moved over a bit as they did so.

So, all in all, it was a bittersweet ride. I loved being out there, on my bike, riding again. It was a good way to say goodbye to Steve, to Lefty, and to hopefully begin to exorcise some monsters. I can't wait to get out again.

Monday, April 09, 2007

New Kicks

I haven't bought new running shoes in ages (read as 4+ years…yikes!). After my recent groin injury, it seemed like a logical first step. The logical second step will be increasing mobility and range of motion.

Anyway, I went to the local running store because it has been so long since I’ve bought shoes. The guy looked at my shoes then asked, “So, what are you running in now.”

“Ummmm…these,” I replied, indicating my Adidas runners from the 1940s. I could see he wanted to say, “No. really.” But he stopped himself.

“You know you should replace your shoes every 400-500 miles?” he asked.


Well, let’s get those off and we’ll see what’s going on. After some discussion and observation, we determined that I was a little flat footed. This was news to me, because tradionally I have had a medium to high arch. I guess with age my arch has fallen. This was in keeping with what I believed. The higher arch-support on my shoes, coupled with my flatter arch was rolling my foot outward too far. I tried on five or six different shoes. The Aasics had a larger heel box that kept slipping (I was surprised by this), the Adidas had a small toe box (not good) and the Nikes were too narrow overall. I narrowed it down to the Brooks and the Reeboks, took both out for spins around the shopping center (at one point, one on each foot) and ended up choosing the Brooks GTS.

It’s a lot lighter than my old shoe, and the cushioning, while not as thick as the Adidas, was every bit as comfortable. Furthermore, I felt like my foot was striking more on the flat of the foot than the heel, and rebounding with a cleaner, softer roll of the foot.

Later that evening I went out and went for what I thought was a light run. My groin was feeling a little better, and I thought a gentle run might help stretch things out in a good way. Sure enough, things started to loosen up, and I felt the mobility returning to my hip. The tightness dissipated quickly as I continued forward. The hills were harder as it’s been a while since I hit them, but cruising on the flats seemed much easier. I came around the last turn for home and stretched out a little. No problems.

When I hit my watch at the end of the run, I could not believe what I saw. I had run my neighborhood route, covering 2.27 miles, in less than 20 minutes. I had to look twice. That's an 8.8 pace!!! That’s one of the fastest times I have posted on that route.

My hope was that I would feel that good in the morning. I finished with active stretching and a hot tub. I did feel better the next day.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Propel is doing some funny ads right now. I'm not a fan of the product (just me) but these are really cool. CHECK THEM OUT HERE. I like the Stress Monster best, but maybe it's just because I love Pressure from Queen and David Bowie.

This one makes me smile...

And this one still makes me laugh...

Happy Easter!

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"

Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Matthew 22:35-40

Friday, April 06, 2007


My friend Alwyn Cosgrove is one of the top fitness minds in the country, having written for men's Health and Men's Fitness magazine, as well as contributing to books, touring on the lecture circuit, coaching and running his own gym. In short, the man has probably forgotten more about fitness than you and I will ever learn...if he forgets anything he has learned.

On top of that, Alwyn has beaten cancer...twice! Because the man never rests on his laurels (or elsewhere, it seems) he brought to together the top names in the fitness, sports, and health professions to create an amazing resource of health, fitness, and training information. If you are into health, lifting, nutrition, fitness, or just about anything that touches these fields (or you want to be), this is a must-have resource. At over 800 pages, it will be an essential component to anyone's fitness and training library.

ALL of the proceeds from the LiftSTRONG project will go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In typical Alwyn fashion, he is picking up the tab for all of the production costs.

For more information, including a list of the authors and to order your copy go to LiftSTRONG.

Maiden Voyage

It was a beautiful spring evening, the kind that makes you glad you're alive, and that you own a bicycle. I snapped my helmet on(!!!) and clipped into the pedals. I took a quick spin up to talk to my daughter, who was playing with her friends on the swingset up the road. Then I turned around, hit my watch, and started pedaling.

It amazes me how well this bike responds. The transfer of power from thought to legs to pedals to bicyle is near-instantaneous. I rode down to the bottom of the street and hung a right turn, up the hill my daughter had successfully climbed several days earlier for the very first time. I switched into a lower gear and just rose up the hill. I was huffing a little at the top, (and I know this is a cliche') but this bike climbs like a...

I made the left, then the two rights that take me down by the local supermarket (Quality. Selection. Savings. Every Day.).

This is a flat stretch and the road just unwound in front of me. Cars passed me, giving me a wide berth; I have to admit I was pretty nervous, being out there for the first time since the hit and run. I spent a lot of time looking over my shoulder. There are some pretty bumpy stretches through there, but the bike just glided over them.

I came upon some road debris as I went down past the Highmark building; the Cannondale went everywhere I wanted it to go. As I hit the rolling hills, followed by a long climb to Holy Spirit Hospital (where I said a silent thanks to the doctors, nurses and king's horses and king's men who put me back together again) the bike just kept rising. Again, I realized how out of cycling shape I am, but the bike was way more than my equal. I was almost ashamed at how much I was holding it back.

I made the turn and went down some back roads into Lemoyne, then back into Camp Hill, made the loop on 21st Street, back past the hospital and headed for home. This gave me the opportunity to test the descending capabilities down some of these hills. It was like gliding on a razor blade. Everywhere I wanted to go, the bike just went. It's much "twitchier" than my old bike though not in a bad way. Perhaps "responsive" would be a better way to describe it. My turns were so much tighter on the C-dale.

I cruised into the driveway as the sun was dipping below the horizon. It was a twelve mile ride, over some fairly hilly terrain, that I (in spite of my out of cycling-shape self) managed to cover in 46 minutes. I was a little more than surprised when I calculated out a 15.7 mph average. It's not going to win me any races, but for where I was, I was more than just a little pleased.

I REALLY liked my old bike: Fievel was a steel Raleigh Professional with Shimano Ultegra compnents and he was smooth and sure as the day is long. But the Cannondale (as yet unnamed) is more than his equal in every category except components. The Raleigh was Ultegra, this is 105: the shifting isn't quite as crisp and exacting in the C-dale. The Cannondale climbs amazingly well with no shaking, torsion or waste of movement/power. It descends just as well, equally comfortable with wide sweeping arcs or quick adjustments to avoid junk on the road. The bike is stiff where you want it, with absolutely nothing lost in the translation of power to the pedals. This was especially true when I got up out of the saddle to make a light. In the saddle, the carbon fiber took over, evening out the road and giving me just enough feedback to let me know what was going on in the road (this is where the Look 555 lost me), but not so much that I felt like I had to pull over and readjust the fillings in my teeth (the Orbea Onix I tested made me feel like that).

So, all of that to say I LOVE MY CANNONDALE! Now, if I could shake this nagging groin injury, I would be really stoked to be back up in the saddle again....cold weather and all.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007