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.