Thursday, December 31, 2009

31 December 2009

Happy New Year!! Maybe not so happy, I have to work tonight and I am feeling like a dog's chew toy. Don't know what's gotten a hold on me, but I feel lousy! Last I remember too, is that I needed ~7 miles to double last year's mileage; BUT, looks like I forgot to add my last ride to it and I am actually DOUBLE last year's mileage, PLUS 10 miles!! I don't know which one makes me happier, my accomplishment or the fact that I don't have to ride today. I love to ride, but not when I've got the old "chew toy" syndrome going on. So, again, I bid you all a Good New Year and wish you all success for 2010. "May the road rise to meet you, may the sun shine warm on your face, may the wind be at your back, and may the rain fall softly upon you." That's an old Irish prayer that I remembered best as I could; If I remembered it wrong, forgive me, that's still my prayer for us all in 2010.
Be blessed, be safe.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

30 December 2009

I have to brag a little about a product I have been using for a week now. I am not receiving anything for my endorsement as a professional amateur overweight wannabe endurance cyclist. But, Hammer Nutrition has a product called "REM" that is amazing. I am a guy that never sleeps more than 5 or 6 hours, and usually that is not quality sleep. Having some time off for the Christmas holidays and not needing an alarm clock, I have been sleeping 8, 9, even 10 hours, and it has been GREAT sleep! I'm not tossing and turning all night, and I wake up feeling rested. My only fear is that I may develop a tolerance to it and need more and more for it to work, or it will quit working altogether. I have, however, had success with the other Hammer products I have used so I'm not too worried. I'll keep you posted.
I wrote earlier about what a nice guy George Hincapie is, and soon after ran across this photo from an upstate SC cycling club. They were doing their "First Fifty" bike ride around New Year's 2009 and bumped into George at a C-store where they all cheesed it up for the camera. What a guy!
Trying to be more "scientific" as I prepare for the 2010 Assault on Mt. Mitchell, so I am scheduling my rides/regimens for different days of the week. I've not been one to schedule rest days and I can see where I have become fatigued for that reason. So, today is a rest day, and, I HATE IT! I want to get on my bike! But, I know that I have been working pretty hard (for me) and my legs need the break. I guess I'll go clean the garage.
Be blessed, be safe.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

29 December 2009

This is actually a NASA photo of Antarctica, but it describes beautifully how I felt tonight on our Tuesday Night Urban Assault! It was 42 degrees when we left and 37 degrees when we got back, man, it was chilly! Add to that the Congaree was a bit over her banks so we had a couple of detours where the water was just too deep to ease through. A great night as always! And a fine bunch of people, though the colder weather is revealing just who the hardcore are.
Last week it was 42 degrees at the end of our ride, so I decided I had to dress a little warmer this week. It's a literal laundry list: thin socks, thick wool socks, and shoe covers; bib shorts, knee warmers, and UnderArmor Coldgear long tights; UnderArmor t-shirt, UnderArmor Coldgear longsleeve turtleneck shirt, Hincapie jersey, longsleeve t-shirt, sweatshirt, and North Face fleece; balaclava, and cap. It was a literal load of laundry afterwards! I hate being cold! I had on about eight pounds of clothing, but I didn't get cold. And, it added to my workout having the extra weight and resistance. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!
Now I have a new PR for coldest ride, and it turns out I am less than 7 miles away from DOUBLING last year's mileage! Now, 43xx miles may not impress you, but it impresses the heck out of this 43 year old fat guy! I don't know if I can double it again next year, but it would be cool to see 6000+ miles. We'll see.
Keep hammering, don't let the air temps get in your way.
Be blessed, be safe.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

27 December 2009

Sat and watched one of my Christmas presents last night and loved it. George Hincapie is a humble but awesome guy who has really gone the distance. This 81-minute video is an interview with George and those who know him, looking at his life and career on a bicycle. He has not been some "shooting star," burning bright but quickly. George has been so successful for so long, and has been the cause of the success of so many others. He's the only cyclist in history to have been on the winning team of EIGHT Tours de France, seven with Lance Armstrong. I think his life coach said something to the effect of, "George is a leader. He creates situations where others can succeed and excell. Isn't that what a leader does?" Well, that's what a leader is SUPPOSED to do, but that's a rant for another day. George is the man, and if I had to pick a favorite, it's George. (I just wish I could get away with eating 7000 calories a day!)
Other than my Tuesday night mountain bike ride with the amazing folks at TriCity, I have been getting my miles on the trainer, in the garage. Finally got outside today for a brisk, two-hour ride through the countryside. Did 34+ miles in 2 hours for a 17mph average, which I was completely happy with. Of course, I'd rather have a 20mph average, but let's keep it real, okay? Just glad to be getting the miles in; I had hoped to hit 5000 miles this year, but won't make it so I adjusted my goal. I can DOUBLE last year's mileage if I try, and I shall! Less than 50 miles to go and four days to do it. I am all over that!
New Year's is just around the corner, and I am quite honestly glad. 2009 has been a tough year and I want 2010 to be a much better year. For ALL of us. That's my wish.
Be blessed, be safe.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

15 December 3009

Other than the fact that I have many serendipitous moments while out riding my bike, this posting has very little to do with cycling. It has to do with this creek down the road from my home. It's on a busy road and I would guess that hundreds, if not thousands, of cars will cross this bridge on which I am standing in a 24-hour period. How many of those drivers will give this creek more than a passing glance, if that much?
We are too busy. This world is filled with awesomeness (is that a word?) and majesty. We, however, are too busy racing from A to B so that we can then hurry to C. Just stop sometime and look. You'll see for yourself.
Be blessed, be safe.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

10 December 2009

The weather's turning cooler and the days have gotten shorter so I am spending more time in the garage, jammin' on the trainer. I'm good with that, though; turn the fan on, fire up a DVD, and roll! Started watching the "Star Wars" movies again, and it doesn't matter how many times I see them, I still love them. My son is about the age I was in 1977 when the first movie came out to theaters and he is a huge fan also! BTW, he just turned 13 yesterday so I am now the parent of a teenager. Yep, I'm scared.

Earlier in the year, I had hopes of hitting 5000 miles for the year, but I have resigned myself to the fact that that is not going to happen. Resigned, I said, NOT "given up." I will simply adjust my goal to one that is attainable and still an achievement. If I hit, WHEN I hit, 4365 miles, I will have ridden TWICE the mileage I did in 2008! I think I can live with that. Don't think I can double again in 2010 and still remain employed, though.
Be blessed, be safe.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

1 December 2009

I don't know if I have mentioned this, but the Tuesday night group I ride with switched things up a bit right about the time the clocks all fell back an hour. Since it's getting dark sooner, we put the road bikes away and pulled out the mountain bikes with the lights on front, back, and the top of the helmet. We go bombing down along the river and canal, around the state house, through USC (go Cocks!), and back through some neighborhoods to the parking lot. Talk about fun! But, riding at night has a completely different dynamic and feel to it. For one, you had better pay attention. You don't have the sun illuminating all of creation, you only have a couple of decent flashlights showing you the way; and, you can overrun those. So, much caution is required. The night ride is not to be feared though. Because things can change quickly and because you must stay on your toes, the excitement is full tilt! Come join us sometime and experience it for yourself.
I hit a major (to me) milestone in my riding last night: I have put 4000 miles behind me on one bike or another this year. In eleven months!! I didn't ride 4000 miles my first 40 years of life! I had actually hoped to hit 5000 this year, but I don't think I'll make it. Stupid little things like food, clothes, gas, mortgage, all keep me from riding as much as I want to. Oh well, I will still more than DOUBLE my mileage for 2008! Whoo Hoo!! I see an even bigger increase coming in 2010.
I have almost finished my fence I started on two weeks ago, just a little detail work to knock out. I thank God above for the strength to do all I do: fix a fence, ride a bike. I am grateful for my health and strength.
Be blessed, be safe.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

18 November 2009

After not sleeping very well Monday night, I got up Tuesday morning to face this:
When we bought our home four years ago, I paid good money to have a sheister build me a fence which was non-compliant to neighborhood covenant and was not even on my property. Turns out his shovelman dug up the rebar marking the corners of the yard so he could set the posts. It took him two weeks to build the fence (a beautiful fence, I'll give him that much) and two months to make it right. Since then, I have had to disassemble and redo the entire fence and it has taken me this long to get to the last side. Between finishing school and working hard to become efficient/proficient/competent as an ER nurse, I've been a little busy. But things are finally starting to settle down, and it's time to actually do something about landscaping my back yard.
I started about 8:30am and had the whole fence down and all the posts out of the ground in an hour, that was the easy part. Then came the digging, measuring, and replacing the posts. Finished up about 4pm, tired but looking forward to a group ride in the evening. This is what the group ride looked like: That's right, it was a night time, urban-assault on mountain bikes! What a blast! Wasn't really that dark, but it was the first time I had done a night ride that wasn't on a closed course. We started out in West Columbia and rode around and through Columbia, through parks, neighborhoods, and a college campus. Definitely not a high-pressure ride, more fun than anything, but we still got in 17+ miles and I saw heart rates of 170+ on two occasions! Columbia has a couple of really good hills; east on Laurel St. from Gervais (by Cogdill Carpets) is, according to my Garmin, a 10% climb and longer than a quarter mile! Okay, it's not Mt. Mitchell, but still...
So, finished up a great ride with some awesome folks, and loaded the bike. Checked the phone and my wife had called; she knew I was a half-mile from the Krispy Kreme on Knox Abbot and wanted a donut. There went my ride, because I just couldn't make her eat a donut alone. And you know you cannot go to a KK and buy just two donuts, right? And I had to think of the kids too, right?
This has become a rarity, though, as I have nearly eliminated all sweets. I want to lose weight so when I climb Mt. Mitchell next May, I don't have to drag so much butt up those hills. Doing well, if I do say so myself. I'm down 16 pounds in the last 7 weeks, not from "dieting," just from making lifestyle adjustments. I am not a fan of "diets," as every time I have tried one, I lose 10-12 pounds in two weeks then it jumps right back on. I think it's because I make changes too fast and my body/mind can't handle it. Incremental adjustments, I think that's what'll work for me.
I had quite a day yesterday, and now this is what today looks like:I went to bed last night feeling like I was 12 years old again following the urban assault, and awoke this morning feeling like I had been assaulted! Based on my experience, riding a century has NOTHING on rebuilding a fence! I must have used muscles I didn't know I had and this morning they are all angry at me for disturbing them. This Sombra product is some good stuff though. My wife got it from her massage therapist, they have a good website, , if you're interested. I am using the warm therapy; my wife put some on my back nearly an hour ago and I still feel like I am lying in the sun in July.
That was my Tuesday, thanks for allowing me to bore you with the details. Now, go get a donut. And one for a friend so you don't eat alone.
Be blessed, be safe.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

7 November 2009

Loaded the car last night so I could leave early this morning and drive to Orangeburg for the 2nd Annual O'burg Rivers Bridge Ramble, a fundraiser hosted by the O'burg Department of Public Safety to raise awareness of gangs. Their goals include educating the public on recognizing such things as gang presence and recruitment. They (DPS) did a fantastic job of hosting about 100 riders doing several different lengths of rides like 27-, 63-, and 100-miles. We enjoyed breakfast, police escorts, SAG vehicles, and lunch from Subway when we returned. Spoiled, I tell you! This is a picture of the Edisto River which runs through Orangeburg and Edisto Gardens, which was our starting/fin- ishing point. A lovely place, I think the family needs a picnic there in a couple of weeks! We departed the park about 0930 under police escort, with the police chief at the front on a bicycle, no less! We were led out of town to some of the most beautiful countryside I think I have ever seen. There were farms, forest, wildlife, etc. The only part that worried me was about 85 miles out, when I was good and tired, I happened upon a couple of buzzards (or vultures, whichever) which were dining on a raccoon; I must have looked bad, because the began to ignore the raccoon and watch me. Freshness factor, I guess.
Anyway, the weather was incredible, the roads were, for the most part "like buttah!", and the day was a delight. Here is a photo representative of the views I enjoyed today:
Something else I like about these rides is the social aspect. When you do a ride like this in South Carolina (not a large state) you get to see old friends. I ran into (figuratively speaking) folks I have ridden with from the mountains to the sea and in between. This is a pic of me and my friend, Benjamin Buttons. His real name is Loris, but it seems the older Loris gets, the faster he gets on a bicycle. When I was in nursing school down on the coast, I rode with a fantastic group out of Grand Strand Bicycles in Murrells Inlet. That's where Loris and I became friends and I have been trying to catch him ever since.
So, it's been a good day, to say the least. I rode like I have never ridden before, covering 100 miles in 5:47 with an average speed of 17.3mph. I am totally happy with that seeing as it was for such a distance. And, I liked the fact that at 65 miles out, my average speed was 19.0mph! I have NEVER run a metric that fast. I am slowly but surely becoming a better, fitter cyclist. Mt. Mitchell, look out! I am coming for you! But,the best part of all today, was coming home to my family to enjoy a nice dinner, some desert, and to hang out (after some thermal hydrotherapy- a long, hot bath!). There may be things in my life I don't enjoy and wish would go away, but I know that I am blessed. God has been good to me, and I thank Him. Don't be jealous, He's been good to you too.
Be blessed, be safe.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

1 November 2009

I was beginning to think it couldn't happen, but after playing with the calculator a minute, I think it can: I can still hit 5000 miles for the year! And all it will require is an average of just a hair over 21 miles a day, every day until New Year's Eve. I can do this! It will help that I am going to Orangeburg on Saturday for the River's Bridge Ramble, where I'll do a century in a fundraiser for gang prevention. I'll let you know how that goes.

We (my brother and I) did a metric last Saturday in Camden, the Tour de Camden, which was a fundraiser for the local Habitat for Humanity and an organization that cares for retired racehorses. Camden is the Steeplechase Capital of South Carolina, they take their horses pretty seriously!
A couple of weeks ago we were out preparing for this, had some goals such as 1)finish in a timely manner, and 2)not stop at all; well, turns out my brother bumped my back wheel and went down pretty hard. He's been nursing what's probably a broken rib since then and it's had him in no small amount of pain. He's not one to let things slow him down too much, so we rolled!
Because he was injured, he had some difficulty breathing deeply and could not ride his ride. He is significantly lighter and faster than I, though I am working on that, and would probably average 19-20mph on this course. Instead, we rode together and pulled each other through and finished with a 17.3mph average. For me, that is good. Lately, I have been working to improve my average speed and have been seeing 17mph pretty consistently.
I was please with myself, finished a metric in 3:37, only stopping twice, once to shed water and once to take on water. Right now, everything I ride is considered by me to be a training exercise for 2010 Assault on Mt. Mitchell. I want to make it to the top on May 17th, and getting up there is only part of the equation; I have to make the cutoff at the Hwy 80 and Parkway juncture. That means getting the first 86 miles out of the way as quickly as possible. And then still having the legs to finish. God help me.
No matter what though, I want to enjoy my riding. If I can't enjoy it, then to me it is pointless.
Be blessed, be safe.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

21 October 2009

Not much time to ride today, but I did have an hour, so I thought I'd do the Gilbert Loop and blow it out. After Saturday's Tour de Camden ride, I have concluded that I am capable of more than I have been doing. So today I rode the fifteen and a half mile loop at 17mph average, nearly a full mph faster than I have been averaging. It's in me, I've just got to wring it out.
Be blessed, be safe.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

17 October 2009

This is me leaving the 2009 Tour de Camden, a happy man. I rode 62.68 miles in 3:37:31 for an average speed of 17.3 mph. In the greater scheme of things, that's not real fast; a pro-cyclist could do that on a beach cruiser! But for me, that is a solid mph faster than I normally ride! I had set my heart on doing well today, really wanted to make a good time. My brother (more about him in a bit) and I rode together and decided we could do the whole metric without stopping. Almost made it; stopped twice, once to get rid of some water and once to take on water.
I think my brother has a bruised and/or broken rib (or two) from his crash nearly two weeks ago, so he was not on his game today, having a hard time taking deep breaths. So, he rode with me. I had my best ride of the year swapping lead with my injured mentor. I'm not that bad, he's just that good.
It was a great experience. I did this ride two years ago, and according to my journal, did it nearly 0.5mph average faster and two minutes quicker. The thing I like though, is this: two years ago, I stopped at EVERY rest stop. The computer I had then would stop collecting data when the wheels weren't spinning, so I could've taken all day and had a great average speed. I rode this year with two stops for minimal time. Of course, I feel like I have been hit by a truck, too. I am becoming a better cyclist, little by little, and I like it.
Be blessed, be safe.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

13 October 2009

Been a full week since I've been on the bike, but I don't think I've suffered for it. Did 34+ miles today at the same speed I've been riding, that's good. However, I have flatted the last two times out. Last Tuesday I picked up a tiny piece of wire that made my back tire squishy about a mile from the finish of the group ride. A shot of CO2 got me back to the car so I could repair the tire in the comfort of my own garage.
Today, not so. I hit something and the air rushed out with a bang, only two miles from the house and the end of my ride. I'd actually been waiting for this moment. I keep everything on my bike to do such a fix. For a fleeting moment I was tempted to call the wife to SAG me out, but stopped myself. "You've got the stuff, now get to it!"
So, on the side of the road, I flipped the bike over and got to it. New tube, check. CO2, check. Dollar bill to boot the hole, check. Five minutes later, I am on my way home. Minimal delay.
I am a nurse and like my environment clean when I do a procedure. I was concerned with doing a tube change roadside (grass, dirt, etc.) but this ain't nursin'. This is cycling, get'er done! I am sure the CO2 didn't get the tire up to the pressure my weight requires, and I felt every bump as I rolled over the dollar bill boot, but I finished my ride, and that's what matters.
Be blessed, be safe.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

6 October 2009

Having missed the last couple of Tuesday night rides in Tri-City due to travel and hunting, I made it back out tonight and had a blast! I always do, they're a great bunch of folks to hang out and hammer with. The ride went well, was very uneventful (thank God!) and I got enough miles to hit over 3500 for the year. I don't think I rode 3500 miles the first 40 years of my life, and now I've done it in just over 10 months; I'm a little proud of me. I am hoping to hit 5000 for the year, we'll see how that goes.
Be blessed, be safe.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

3 October 2009

This is the picture of sadness. It's one of my new Garmin Slipstream water bottles by Camelbak with the "always open, always closed" valves. It's a great product and part of my purchase price helped to support the team. However, the bottle holder behind my seat (holds two extra bottles, for longer rides) is not as great a product. As I ride, and encounter bumps along the way, the bottles have been riding up and falling out. I am now in the habit of reaching back and checking them on occasion to make sure they are seated well; several miles down the road I reached back to re-seat this one and it was gone, and I had no idea when it fell out. I actually found it by accident hours later when driving home from my brother's house. Unfortunately, a motorist found it before I did, and flattened it. Sad, I say. Good thing I have four more.
I went for a ride with my brother today, hoping to get in at least 35 miles, longer if my stomach could take it (was feeling questionable, due to a sleep shortage; worked all night last night, took a nap, and went riding- cycling is more important than sleeping!). We are preparing for the Tour de Camden (yeah, every ride is a "Tour de Something or Other) which is a charity ride in two weeks to raise money for Habitat for Humanity and an organization which cares for retired racehorses (they dress them in plaid slacks and teach them to play golf).
The weather was beautiful and cool as we took off through the country. On a great stretch of road, we were slipstreaming, rotating and drafting, when BAD happened: I was in front and moving over so he could lead awhile, and his front wheel hit my back wheel! I felt the bump of the two and turned to watch my brother, my cycling mentor, slam to the pavement while we were running along about 20mph! Thank Jesus that he was wearing a quality Specialized helmet and some good leather gloves. The helmet is smashed (but his head isn't!) and the palms of the gloves were eaten by the pavement (but his hands are fine). He's got some nasty road rash and some bike repairs to see to, and tomorrow he's gonna be sore, BUT, good safety equipment saved him some real heartache. He'll be fine and I'm glad. My brother is about my best friend, a real encouragement to me, and I enjoy the time we spend together biking.
We called our dad to come pick us up, like a couple of kids. And he came, like a good dad. The older I get, the more I appreciate the family I have left around me. So, tomorrow, it's back on the bike (after I phone my brother and check on him) and keep getting the miles in. Maybe I'll go buy him a new pair of gloves, try to cheer him up about his bike. Life is good in spite of the spills. Keep hammering, and do it with some family!
Be blessed, be safe.

Monday, September 28, 2009

28 September 2009

I can't believe it's been 12 days since I last posted, but a lot has happened, so I'll try to get things caught up.
In my last post, I mentioned some drama on my last Tri-City ride; I'm not going to discuss this to discourage anyone from riding, but to encourage everyone to be careful. Anyway, near the end of our ride I was third in a group of six riders heading back to the cars, with lights and flashers on, and a pickup truck came into the MARKED bike lane and struck me on the left arm with his passenger-side mirror. It took me a quick minute to realize what had just happened (fortunately, I did not go down!) and I shouted for those in front of me to get a tag number. They sprinted to catch the guy because he didn't stop while I called police. About a half-mile up the road, they caught the guy and stopped him until the police could get there. No one was injured in all this, but the potential was there for this to be a bad situation. After he hit me and nearly hit the two riders in front of me, he completely crossed the bike lane and hit the curb. When being interviewed by the cop, the culprit admitted to having a few beers earlier in the day and cataract surgery in the days prior. He should not have been driving so late in the day (it was not dark yet, but got dark while we stood there), and told the cop he did not see us! I am 270 pounds, wearing a white jersey, with five others all with lights and flashers, and he did not see us! An incident report was filed, and a copy was mailed to me; I have attempted to contact the police to follow this up and my calls have not been returned. What else can I say?
Not one to be easily deterred, I would have gone right back the next week to ride, but went instead to Alabama to attend a training class for responding to WMD attacks. I don't give a rat's patootie what the liberal media says about WMDs not existing (they've all got brown eyes; guess why?!?); they do exist and are a real and present danger. Fortunately, there are people we may never meet dealing with issues we are happily ignorant of, all in the name of protecting the American people, and they deserve our gratitude. I had a blast (figuratively speaking) and learned so much. We learned how to identify several substances based on signs present and how to respond to them in lifesaving ways. We were taught to suit up in the best way to protect ourselves (and NOT adding to the body count!) and evacuate and decontaminate victims. It is a very satisfying feeling to know I can be part of the solution and not the problem.
The facility was located on a closed Army base that was first started in 1917. It's history includes years as a Basic Training Camp, home to the Women's Army Corps (WACs), and several years as an internment camp for prisoners taken in WWII. It was sad and haunting to see decay taking over and to think about all those brave people that passed through there in their course of defending our freedoms. Many of the older buildings were literally falling to the ground and being swallowed up by vegetation. But, in my minds eye, I saw all the soldiers from recent history marching around and training to face the enemy in Europe, Japan, Korea, and VietNam. We are a blessed nation because of the sacrifices of so many.
Another wonderful part of the week was the group of people I was privileged to train with. The facility was with the Department of Homeland Security so folks came from all over the country to attend training. We came from all of our corners and worked together, just as we would need to in a real situation, and made good things happen. Of course we had to laugh and play a little bit, so the night we finished we all went out to dinner and our great time together continued an evening longer.(Too busy eating to smile for the camera!)
In spite of having a great, mind-expanding week, I was ready to get home on Saturday afternoon. I missed my family and my Roubaix! I didn't ride during what was left of my weekend, but once I got the kids off to school this morning, I came home and jumped on my bike and rode like a beginner! I hadn't ridden for a week and felt fast as a brick! I left the house and rode the first 15 miles or so into the wind, but finally made that turn that put the wind behind me and ROLLED! Ended up doing 26+ miles at 16.2mph and was very happy with that. I have the Tour de Camden next month and the River Ramble in Orangeburg in November and want to do well. I don't have to be first, I just don't want to be last. Also, I am on track (with some work, of course) to do 5000 miles this year; this would be quite an accomplishment for me.
Like I said, it's been a busy 12 days and I don't see it slowing down anytime soon. I'll just keep hammering and try not to get dropped.
Be blessed, be safe.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

16 September 2009

It took me a couple of days to get over the all-nighter I did on Friday/Saturday, had to get some rest and recovery. Also, had to have the cable replaced which shifts my rear derailleur. Took it over to Outspokin' and they hooked me up, thanks guys! They were a major player in the planning/executing of the Kickin Cancer Night Owl Ride. That was Monday, and I was still sore, literally, two of them on the ole sitter!
All better Tuesday though, time to hit the road! Left home about 9am and headed out toward Gilbert where I would take a right and head toward the Lake. Little bit of a head wind, but temps were great and I felt good! I enjoy going to the end of a certain island, I won't name it out of respect for those that live there, but here's a picture of the view one has when one runs out of land.
Now me, if I had a bottomless cup of coffee (and a Port-O-John!), I could sit there all day and just look at the Lake. Something magical about water. While I was sitting there, however, I sighted the rumored Lake Murray Monster, shown in this grainy, black and white photograph:
Critics and skeptics denounce this and say it's just an otter or some other creature, but I have other ideas that involve some of the bombing practice done in the area around WWII. Just sayin'.
Even scarier than a monster is this image taken at the same location, probably to be feared more than any monster:
After playing around with my phone camera, I left the island and decided to point it toward home, after stopping to bring my sugar back up. I was rolling down the highway at 18-20mph (yeah, okay, it was slightly downhill) and a large truck rolls up beside me and slows to my speed. I immediately thought the worst, I was about to get screamed at for riding my bike on someone's road (how much have I paid in taxes?); ah, not so! It was my good friend Rob, in a company truck. I guess he saw me coming from the other direction and turned around to encourage me, and I appreciated every word of it. That's what I like about cycling: there are those who are overly competitive, but they are the exception. Most of the people I encounter on bikes are super-nice and very encouraging. Rob's wife is doing a two-day ride in NC this weekend to raise money for United Cerebral Palsy; GO APRIL!!
That was just my first ride of the day. It was Tuesday and that meant Tri-City ride in the late afternoon. There were about 40 riders yesterday that met for the Tuesday night ride, and headed out toward Dixiana. Had a good ride, for the most part, a fairly fast 19 miles. Enjoy riding with this group, see my earlier comments about encouragement. It was not without its drama, but I'll have to write more about that later. Just be careful out there and be ready for anything.
Be blessed, be safe.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

12 September 2009

In case you don't know, this little guy is Wakko Warner, one of Spielberg's "Animaniacs". My cycling motto is a quote from Wakko: "My bottom hurts!" (in a somewhat British accent). Went out last night to participate in an all-night fundraiser for Children's Chance and the LiveStrong Foundation called "Kickin' Cancer Night Owl Ride. A 1.4 mile loop crossing the Congaree River on the Gervais Street bridge was blocked off and riders were free to go for it from 8pm Friday night until 8am this morning. But, alas, my bottom could only take so much. I did not make it till sunup, but I am very happy to say I have a new personal best for distance, 105.1 miles in a single event!! Paying for it today though; now, where was that ibuprofen?!
Even though this is the first year for this ride, it was extremely well organized and had something for everyone. My family came with me for the pre-ride goings-on and had a ball. There was food, games, music, and some local celebrities such as Cocky, the USC mascot, and Zig the Pig!
This is my son, a fan of Carolina football and Cocky.
While I realize he is a chicken, Cocky is still somewhat of a ham. Very gracious to pose for lots of photos, he even decided he would try to participate in the bike ride. In the interest of safety, I tried to loan him my helmet, but the rooster has a big head!
He makes a valiant attempt but cannot get them big ole chicken feet to clip in. Cocky is relegated to spectator status, but makes one heck of a cheerleader. Thanks for hanging with us, Cocky!
This is my little girl with Zig the Pig. She is not a Cocky fan, and especially chapped the chicken when she had a Clemson Tiger paw painted on her face.
As I said, I was unable to ride the whole night, bailed out about 5am, but had to at least hang around till sunrise. Out of the 70 that started, only 9 finished, but finished strong! The guy who won the prize for most miles did it with a whopping 184.2 miles! WOW, gotta admire that endurance! And I cannot fail to mention George, a 77-year-old gentleman who rode all night and finished showing 102 miles, but... after stopping for a break at some point during the night, he forgot to re-start his computer for 20-30 minutes, quite possibly giving him 108-110 miles! At 77 years YOUNG!! I actually met George two years ago training in the Greenville Watershed; we stopped on the state line for a break and I was impressed with his age. We got back on the bikes and that was the last I saw of him, he was GONE.
It was a great night, but a long night. I let the organizers know that if they didn't change a thing, I would still come back and do it again next year. An awesome time was had by all, even though multiple parts of my body are in pain today.
Get yourself out and have some fun for a good cause sometime. And what could be better than helping kids with cancer?
Be blessed, be safe.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

8 September 2009

Went out again tonight for the Tuesday night ride in Triangle City; once again, had a blast! There are riders on every level so one is never alone. I can blow it out and there are always the fast guys to hang with. When I blow up, there are fine folks there with whom I can recover. I am getting to know some of them and find them to be excellent people even off the bicycle. I will definitely make this a regular event. I can see myself becoming a MUCH better rider keeping company like this!
Be blessed, be safe!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

2 September 2009

When all else around me is madness, I am glad I can outrun it for a little while on a bicycle.
Did some cleaning in the garage yesterday, and some re-arranging. Had to put my trainer back into a good position to see the television. While I am happy as can be to see some cooler weather, that tells me soon it will be getting to temperatures cooler than I care to ride in. I'll hit the road every chance I get, but the wise man always has a backup plan. Cold and nasty? I don't care, I'll pop in a DVD or CD. All good.
I am not really gaining any ground right now, weight-wise, but I do feel like I am showing improvement performance-wise. Some of the hills I used to fear, I now flatten. And there is one hill out there, looming like a specter that haunts my every pedal stroke; Mt. Mitchell. For the last two years, Mt. Mitchell has beaten me. Oh, I am proud of how much better I did this year than last, for sure. But I have yet to finish. In 2008, I made it to Marion, and was pleased. In 2009, I made it to the Parkway, and was disappointed that I just barely missed it. In 2010, I hope to make it all the way to the top. So, I can't just sit around waiting for fair weather to go out riding, can I?
I spent the money last year and bought a CycleOps fluid trainer. If you're looking for a good one, I recommend this one. It does a great job of simulating an actual road ride. You can take it easy and get a good spin in, or you can throw it into a hard gear and feel as if you are slogging it up your favorite mountain to hate. Great trainer, well worth the expense.
Went out on a group ride last night, one I'd never been on before. Had a blast! Could not believe there were at least 50 people in the area that wanted to get together for a bike ride on a Tuesday evening. Some hammers in the crowd, too. They would re-group on occasion, and at the first re-group I was showing an average speed of over 20 mph! I don't/can't ride like that when I am out by myself. This is one I'll repeat.
Keep riding, and love it like I do.
Be blessed, be safe.

Friday, August 28, 2009

28 August 2009

Pulled a no-no, a major one: I went a solid week without riding my bike. So, I went for a ride today, 47.65 miles, and I am now officially in pain. I have been home for hours, even took a nap, and I can barely stand. Nah, it's not really that bad, I actually got out and dug up a few stumps before dinner, but I really shouldn't stay off the bike that long. Muscles go flabby and skin gets soft again. I'll try to get a good night's sleep and go out again in the morning. Got to stay regular. Riding, I mean.
Encountered an elderly gentleman on a bike this morning, not a Townie, but a similar bike. Spoke to him as I passed him and he informed me he was working his way back from a hip replacement. That might be too much information for some of you, coming from a total stranger, but let's look at this a minute. We're talking about an elderly man, could be late 60's, maybe even 70ish. I, myself, am a 43-year-old ER nurse, and I spend much of my time at work caring for patients MUCH younger than myself with MUCH less severe complaints. Yet this older gentleman, who, let's face it has most of his life behind him, REFUSES to give up! This man doesn't even know it, but he is my hero.
Be blessed, be safe.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

15 August 2009

I was getting close to hitting 3000 miles year-to-date, so I wanted to be somewhere cool when I did hit it; so, I called my brother and said to him, "Let's go climb White Oak Mountain on Saturday." He was game, so this morning we hit the road. White Oak is cool, not only because it is tough to climb, but because it's only two or so hours from home. We parked in Tryon, NC (a beautiful NC mountain town!) and rolled out toward the mountain. This is at the bottom of the climb; they've been doing road repair and haven't taken this sign down. I think it is a very appropriate sign that should stay as long as bikes are climbing White Oak.

I had planned my rides at home earlier in the week to set me up so I would hit 3000 miles at the top and got pretty close; when I reached the summit, I had racked up 3001 miles in 2009! I didn't ride 3000 miles the first 40 years of my life! I'm no rock star on a bicycle, but when I got to the top I was as happy as Alberto Contador on Mont Ventoux!

It's a bit of a hazy day, but behind me is a big, beautiful valley. Here's a shot of it without me polluting the landscape!

We rested at the top for a bit, then rolled through the switches down the other side. That's an experience! Got to the bottom and the wheels were too hot to touch from braking! Some people might think going down the hill is better, but the pucker factor can go through the roof!
We headed north, then turned west to go through the Green River Cove, a heavenly valley with the road running along the Green River. Lots of folks out there today having a great time rafting and tubing down the river. Got a little jealous, wanted to trade the bike for a kayak!
At the upper end of the valley, there is a series of 4.5 million switchbacks to take one up from the valley floor into Saluda, NC. Okay, so I exaggerated just a little. There are MANY switches to take you up, inclines up to 15%! It was on one of these switchbacks that my heart rate hit 175 beats a minute, and I thought it best that I should get off the bike and walk a bit until I recovered and my heart slowed some. It soon did, so I jumped aboard and finished climbing out of the valley to Saluda, another picturesque NC mountain town with several fine restaurants.
The ride from Saluda back to Tryon is a total GAS! About 7 miles of road here, four of which are DOWNHILL!! It was on this stretch of tarmac I hit a max speed of 37.5mph! Talk about FUN! This four miles made the two heart-, mind-, and gut-wrenching climbs worth it all. We finished our ride having gone 38.23 miles and climbing over 4200 feet, cumulative. What a great day it has been!
Be blessed, be safe.
p.s. No one should ever ride in the mountains alone. A rider could accidentally go over the side and be very difficult to locate and provide aid to. Always take a partner, besides, the conversation is always good when you're not hacking up a lung!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

6 August 2009

Went out for a ride this morning, a beautiful morning; until the "stinging insect!" I have never been shot, hope to never be shot, but it has to feel something like this: riding along in the cool air at about 17mph, with my jersey open because I'd been out long enough to warm up, when a stinging insect (I don't know what kind, I lacked the time for formal introductions) hits me full force about dead-center to my chest. I started beating on my chest, trying to get rid of this thing (I know the cars coming at me probably thought I was some overweight, middle-aged biker doing some kind of macho Tarzan thing, but that wasn't it!), but to no avail, the damage was done. All I could do now was get this thing out of my shirt. It has happened before, I had a bee of some variety fly headlong into the vents of my helmet and start slapping me. Not a pleasant experience. What can you do, though? I kept riding and had one of the best rides I'd had in a while.

I love to ride in the morning this time of year. It gets too hot to ride if you wait, so I get started early. All the cows are in a good mood and speak to you as you roll by. When the sun gets high enough to warm the dew on a field, a mist kind of hangs there just being beautiful. On the ponds there is that same mist, sitting on the suface of the water like ghosty ice-skaters suspended in time. This world has plenty of negatives: Fatty's wife died yesterday, my friend in Tennessee lost his home to fire, and our government wants to control everything. But if I can get out and see the world as I saw it this morning, it is still a wonderful place.

To all those folks in your cars this morning who saw me as a nuisance slowing you down by a second or two, you have no idea what you are missing out on. Like the mists on the field and pond, which is probably burned away by now, so is a man's life: fleeting. "Let your years be full of life, rather than your life just full of years."

Be blessed, be safe.

6 August 2009

I was greatly saddened to fire up my computer this morning and learn that Susan Nelson, wife of the Fat Cyclist, had passed away after her long battle with cancer. I don't personally know either of these people, but Fatty has for a long time inspired me with his blogging about her brave fight. May God bless and comfort the Nelson family at this time, my heart and prayers are with you and your family Eldon.

Monday, August 3, 2009

3 August 2009

Another good ride today, did 54+ miles without dismounting! I did stop a couple of times, had to pick up my water bottles! I don't know what the deal is, something involving strange physics, but the combination of hard bumps in the road and my spare bottle holder mounted behind the seat post, throws one of the two bottles off. I have some of the new Camelbak bottles I bought from the Garmin-Slipstream website (love'em!) so I won't just leave them lying there by the road. Besides, that's littering, and there's too much of that already.
I stopped to pick up some litter today. I often see change lying in or beside the road, but it's not worth stopping for. However, today I was working my way up a long grade (not an easy task for this Clydesdale!) and saw a dollar lying next to the road. Okay, I'll stop for paper money. Had to turn around, but when I went back, ole George had company! Found four dollars lying beside a country road! Felt pity for the rightful owner but had no way to find who it was. So, I will contribute it to a small local endurance team. What that really means is, I am going to Taco Bell! Just another of the many benefits of cycling!

Something else that encourages me is other cyclist/bloggers. For instance, the Fat Cyclist always makes me smile. (He's more than just a torso, though!)Check him out at My heart breaks for him right now though. His wife Susan has cancer and has not been doing so well lately. But Fatty has stayed by her side and taken care of her, and has lived out "for better or worse, till death do us part." Pray for Fatty, it's time for some of the encouragement he has sent out to go back to him and lift him up. God bless Fatty and Susan!
Someone else that encourages me is Charisa Wernick.
I have never had the good fortune to meet her, she lives on the other side of our great nation, but she is a triathlete that blogs. Somehow she has found my little corner of the interweb and on occasion will drop me a note that helps me keep pedaling. Thanks Charisa! She does a great job on her blog keeping us up to speed on her training (this girl does Ironman competitions!) and her life. You can, and should, look for her at
So, my life is good, but it's not my doing. It's due to God who loves me, and loves me enough to cause my life to overlap with the lives of wonderful people, some of whom I may never meet in this lifetime. I am grateful.
Be blessed, be safe.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

2 August 2009

Went for a ride today and saw this cool cactus growing wild beside the road. It reminded me of ribbon candy, something always around our house at Christmas. I have the great pleasure of seeing many interesting things as I pedal through the Good Country that is the midlands of South Carolina. A lot of folks want to complain about my home state for different reasons: education, Confederate flag, etc. If this place doesn't suit you, just keep looking. Every interstate highway that will bring you to SC will take you right back out of it. If you want to come here and live your life this is a great place. Here in the midlands, we have much history as well as plenty of other things to offer; three hours west- mountains! Three hours east- beautiful beaches. We have got it going on! Still not as biker friendly as I'd like, but some hard working people are making a lot of progress.
This is a photo of just an ordinary swamp, nothing special. I ride past it on occasion, it's near a small farm full of smells that might turn some off, but tell me I am in the country! I love getting out here and seeing what I can see as I work to improve my physical condition. I think an interesting side-effect of my self-prescribed therapy is a boost to my mental health. I hope I am still doing this forty years from now. 'Course, I hope all this farm land is not developed forty years from now.
Be blessed, be safe.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

15 July 2009

Left home at sunup this morning to ride around Lake Murray; made 70 miles of it before bonking hard and calling the wife to SAG me out. Still a beautiful day and a great ride. I'm happy!
Be blessed, be safe.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

14 July 2009

Been awhile since I've blogged because I have been on vacation with my family. We were blessed to be able to spend two weeks at the beach, but after an extended stay the return to reality was difficult. Between flat tires and coming home to a 90-degree house (AC quit while we were gone)and having to return to work, I was ready to go back to the beach, and fast! It's all good though; on a bad day I am still blessed.
Had a great time at the coast, lots of early morning rides with my friends from Grand Strand Bicycles around the Murrells Inlet area. The whole time I was there something was nagging me to check the mileage on my tires and I never did. The last day as I was loading everything to come home, this is what I discovered:It is (was) a Michelin Lithion 700-25 and it carried my big behind 1079.3 miles WITHOUT incident! Never flatted for any reason whatsoever. I am so pleased with these tires that it will really take something special to convince me to use another brand/type of tire.
Heading to the garage to replace my tire a little later, hopefully I'll get to ride tomorrow. A South Carolina summer can be pretty hot, so I like to get out early before it gets too hot. Also, while at the beach I bought some new bartape (white!) and I am excited to see how that looks. (Like a kid at Christmas, I am!) Got some new cleats too, the others were worn pretty well. My mechanic/coach/encourager/all-around good guy and friend Tim at Grand Strand Bicycles set me up and made some adjustments to widen the stance (I am a big guy) to help me not pedal bowlegged. Looking forward to some improvement there, we'll see how it goes.
Life is good. I am blessed to be able to get out and ride, enjoying decent health and God's creation. I think everyone should ride a bike, just to slow down and take life a little easier. There's enough stress in this world, why not throw on a helmet and chill for a little while?
Be blessed and be safe.

Friday, July 3, 2009

3 July 2009

I have not taken the time I need to catch my blog up to date; I am on the coast, vacationing with my family. They like to sleep in, so I am up with the chickens so I can suit up and ride. In the first week here I was able to put down over 140 miles, and at a good pace, too. I love the flat land of the beach as much as I love grunting up a mountain. I just love being on a bike. Period. I did a 43 mile ride through VERY rural Georgetown county with an older gentleman I met at the Starbucks on Monday. I had to work to ride with him and toward the end of the ride, he informed me that he had turned 70 this year! Amazing! That's how I want to live the rest of my life, in the peloton, NOT the doctor's waiting room!
Be blessed, be safe!

Monday, June 15, 2009

15 June 2009

Wow, the 2009 Tour de Cure this past Saturday went great! Didn't quite meet my goal for fundraising, but did better than last year AND rode 101 miles! It was hot, but I stayed hydrated and fueled up, and I never cramped thanks to some of the Hammer products I use when I am riding. This old, heavy Clydesdale passed a number of younger, faster riders that had to bail out because of muscle cramps and dehydration. Nutrition and hydration are too important to neglect when you're wanting to go the distance. I thank God for the strength to spin that long, it was a wonderful feeling to ride beneath that banner at the end to where my family was waiting to cheer me in. For me, victories are hollow without someone to share them with.
Someone else I shared a victory with was my friend, April. She rode her first TdC this year and did the 25 mile ride in an hour and a half; that's around 16mph average! And get this, she was on a rented bike, not one she was used to! She is shopping for a bike and this was in a sense a test ride for her. Very impressive! I am very proud of her and look forward to seeing her do the metric or even the century next year with her husband, Rob (hint, hint!).

So, I have sort of been recovering since then (had to work a 12 hour shift Sunday night, no rest there), and tomorrow it's time to get back on the bike. I'll head out at sunup and ride for an hour as hard as I can. I like to do the Gilbert loop once a week to try to pick up my speed. I can go the distance, now I want to go fast! Come go with me!

Be blessed, be safe!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

9 June 2009

Wow, hard to believe we're already more than a week into June. The older I get, the faster time flies, it seems.
May recap: 2009 AOMM behind me; DNF, but did WAY better than last year. But, in spite of getting all those miles in one day, I was unable to outdo last May's mileage. I think it's because I backed off the training the week leading up to it and then didn't feel like riding much the week after. Gotta do better this month.
I have managed to get in over 100 miles this month already, thanks in a large part to another 80-miler around Lake Murray. I enjoy this ride and want to do it weekly, but will not this week because of the Tour de Cure fundraiser on Saturday. I hope to make it my second century since I have taken up cycling. It is a fundraiser for the American Diabete Association to help fund research to prevent and cure diabetes, a very present malady in our world. If anyone would like to help, you may go to the following link and make a donation: (just copy and paste to your browser), and thank you very much!
Be blessed, be safe.