Another week down

This week I made it a priority to get some cycling in. I actually did pretty well, surprisingly. A front was in progress of coming in, so the wind was a pretty steady 15-20 mph. Since I have been doing some late night rides, I have very limited roads that I feel comfortable on. Because of the front, that wind just happened to be at my back on the out and in my face on the return.

The ride was 22-miles long. I have been keeping them short so I can get more rides in during the week. Plus, time has been an issue lately, so short rides are better than no rides!

Total Time: 1:33:39
Moving Time: 1:28:37
Avg Speed: 13.8 mph
Avg Moving Spd: 14.6 mph
Max Speed: 19.3 mph
Elevation Gain: 79 ft
Calories: 1,005 C
Avg Temp: 66.5 °F
Avg HR: 156 bpm
Max HR: 178 bpm

This is typical of me while out on the bike:
Avg Bike Cadence: 93 rpm
Max Bike Cadence: 136 rpm

I have been known to crank it up to 140-ish rpm on occasion just for fun. I like to know that I can still crack out some good rpm’s!

It was raining the other day, and I just did not wish to get out in it. It is bad enough riding at night, but with less than ideal conditions on top of it, I decided to pass. I set up the bike on the trainer. I truly have a harder time on the trainer than I do out on the road.

I also get distracted at home much easier. I decided to work on my bar end setup. So I would ride for a mile or two and make a small adjustment. I never stopped the Garmin, so my average speed was incredibly low. I also sweat a ton more. I find it hard to ride and not have wind on me. I overheat easily in those conditions, since my sweat has a hard time evaporating.

Still, it was a good to get on the bike some. I am trying to get back into shape, not only for that MS 150, but to get back into mountain bike racing. I think that will be my only hobby this summer. I hope to do a race or two just to get back into things, but then start training more on the bike. I will have more time on my hands, so I want to make better use of it.

By the way, I am still hovering around the upper 160’s. I hope to hit 160 or below here in two months. I will have to stick to my guns and ride whenever I can.

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Lights, Camera, Action!

Lights. Where would we be without them? We all depend on them to fill our homes with light at night, to illuminate the roadways when driving a car, and to illuminate parking lots. They are very useful.

Even on a bicycle, lights are great for keeping us safe. It helps us see those potholes that are in our path, even debris out on the roadway. If you are a mountain biker, it can make for an interesting ride using lights at night.

 photo cyclingfog_zps85d6f730.jpgThe other day it was rather foggy on my drive home. I was working a night shift, so it was early morning when I was leaving, except the visibility was not as good as in the image to the right. Being a cyclist myself, I am always on the lookout for fellow cyclists. This fog was thick. I do not even think I had 1/8 of a mile’s worth of visibility. Since I was driving in the right hand lane, I pay attention to make sure nobody turns out in front of me, and that no cyclists are in front of me. As I was coming up to a busy intersection, I had to get on the brakes hard to avoid a cyclist. I was going under the speed limit, I was watching for cyclists, yet I still did not see him. Why? Why did I not see him even though I was actively searching for him? Simple, visibility. I do not mean the lack of visibility due to the fog either, though that did play a part in it.

No, he was totally not considering the environment he was in. Many riders assume that people are looking out for them. Actually, most are not. You are hindering their ability to get to a destination in their car in a timely manner, you are an annoying fly that they want to swat away. If a person has to hit their brakes, they get severely annoyed. Why this is, I have no idea. I always smile a little when I see a cyclist. I wish I could ride my bike to work, no can do with my hours.

 photo LEDlightcheap_zpsf22f26b5.jpgYou see, this guy had one of those super fancy road bikes. I slowed down so much I actually made out the SCOTT decal on the side of the downtube. A carbon fiber model. He had a nice under-seat bag, clip-less road pedals, team kit, and a high priced Giro helmet. Now, what I also noticed was his lighting and reflective components on his bike. ZERO reflective components. No ankle strap to help notify drivers, no reflective anything. He had a rear light, sure, but it was a poor light. If you can afford a $2,000+ bike, you can afford a decent light setup.

This light was horrible. A cheap, single LED flasher that had horrible light output. It was so bad that I was not even aware he had a flasher on the bike until I was about 15-feet from him. This is unacceptable. If you desire to be safe, light that sucker up! I run at least one light on the back of my bike, two typically if it is at night. I am also considering running a rear light on my helmet. Heck, on my cargo bike I have two Cateye lights on the rear. One is on the seat post and the other is on the rear rack.

 photo SuperflashTurbo_zpsa7ebdb1f.jpgMy preferred light is the PlanetBike Superflash Turbo. This little booger costs around $35. Sure, not all that cheap, but not the most expensive model on the market. I have seen headlamps go for well over $100. Compared to that, $35 seems like a steal. Still, it is leaps and bounds better than those cheap $7 budget lights that you can hardly see even at night. No, this Superflash Turbo can be seen a long ways away. Now imagine two of those suckers blinking at you at night. There is no way a person could say they did not see you.

Here is a video of it in action:

rapid 5 light
Another taillight I have used, and still use, is the Cateye Rapid 5 Taillight. This little thing puts out decent power for such a slim design. It is not as expensive at the Superflash Turbo, but is a nice alternative.

I also use small lights like the Clean Motion Beam Bug Light on my helmet or bars (usually used with another lamp). If I need a little extra view of the pavement, I strap on an actual beam light to my helmet (like my Blackburn Voyager 3.3 lamp), so I can directly illuminate whatever I point my head at. Another light at my disposal is my Cateye lamp that is bar mounted. It normally stays on my cargo bike, since that is my usual rider. I only swap it over if I know I will be riding at night. Just remember, if you have the light, use it!

Headlamps depend on the person. If you are in an extremely well lit location (like where I live), you may just need a flasher to help be seen and keep people form turning in front of you or hitting you from the front. If it is darker, well just do some research and find a worthy headlamp. A nice and compact flasher is the Blackburn Voyager (sometimes simply called the click). You click the lens itself. It has three modes: on, flashing, and off. It does not get much easier than that! Plus it takes the small button/coin cell batteries (like an CR2032).

Just remember, you do not have many defenses while out on a bicycle. So please be conscious of your safety. I know we do not want to look horrible while out riding our bike. We want to cut through the wind easily on a windy day. Having clothing flapping all around creates drag and makes the ride harder. However, are we not out on training rides to train and push ourselves? So what if we have a little extra weight and a little more drag? That means we are having a better workout! Visibility is one of our only defenses as a rider. We need to be seen. If we go up against a 3,000 pound car, we will lose. So do what you can to minimize the risk. Use lights, use reflective material, and be alert.

Maybe I can post up a review of some of I lamps I have experienced or messed with at the bike shop. That is a thought.

Ride on and ride safe my friends.

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Another week in the bag

This week has not been much for workouts. Life has been crazy this past week and I have had zero time to get a quality workout in. Hopefully things will take a turn for the better next week!

I did get one 20-mile ride in, but that was it. It has been so busy that I have not even had time to get on here and write. Next week things will turn around! I am being optimistic!!

Ride on my friends.

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It is hard to decide

I am having a battle in my head. I am trying to figure out which bike I will take on my MS 150. I know for a fact that I will not be taking my cargo bike. As humorous as that would be, I have no way of getting it back home. It required a tandem mount for the roof, and those things are expensive! I will pass. I wish I could, because the looks I would get would be priceless!

I have three other bikes to choose from. My Gary Fisher HiFi would be nice, due to the full suspension, but I just don’t want to tempt anyone. That is the most expensive bicycle I have, so I will turn my head to that idea. I do plan on training on that bike a lot, since it is harder to maintain speed than the others (not counting the cargo bike). That leaves two bicycles. My Specialized HardRock Sport Disc 29-er and my Trek 1.5 road bike. I have taken the Trek every single year I have been in the MS 150. I am tempted to take the 29-er because of the larger tires and the front suspension. It weighs in about 10-lbs heavier than the Trek, but it would be more comfortable on that pavement. Decisions!

I think a lot will depend on the weather for that weekend. If it will be a spectacular weekend to ride, I will take the 29-er. If I have to deal with headwind or less than ideal riding conditions, I will take the Trek.

Another thing I have to consider is a wonderful thing called time. The ride begins at 7:30am (0730 for you military types). Since we were unable to get a hotel for the overnight stay in the middle of the ride, we are camping. They bring in trucks that supply us with showers. If you do not get there in a reasonable amount of time, the line gets crazy for the showers. I mean crazy as in about 40 yards wide and close to 100 yards long.

In order to get an ideal camping spot and access to the showers without having to wait hours, we must get there early. That means waking up early. I told my buddy that I am riding with that I plan to be at least 1 hour ahead of the main pack. If we make good time, that puts us there before noon. That will give us time to get a quick massage (only $15 + tip), which is great after the ride, and an early shower. I also plan on bringing baby wipes to freshen up later that evening or early the next day.

That following day, I aim to be awake early and tear down the tent early as well. I hope to beat the main field onto the road again. That prevents us from being packed in a tight group of slow riders. We are not fast either, but we are faster than most. Our typical cruising speed is around 16-18-mph. The majority of the riders out there are less than that. By heading out early we accomplish two things. First, we are safer. Less inexperienced traffic is out there. If you are passing us, you know how to ride a bike. Second, we hit the lunch stop and finish line earlier. By getting to lunch early, we avoid the long lines. By eating relatively quickly and able to get out on the road again, we will not need to struggle to get our legs moving again. The more you wait, the harder it is to get going again.

Getting to the finish line early is great because we do not have to hunt for bicycle parking in our team tent. Also, they cater Mexican food (actually, TexMex). Last year we got there an hour before food started running low. Also drinks were slim pickings as well. By showing up early, we make sure we get bike parking, lots of food and some drinks.

On rides like this, I prefer being early than late, more than just for the reasons listed above. If I show up early on day one, I have more time to recover. The more time I have to recover, the better I am on day two.

Most likely, I will be taking the roadie out again this year. I would love to take my mountain bike, but I do not know if I can justify that move. We shall see. I may get both inspected and ready to roll. That way I can decide the week before. I will be doing a lot of training on the mountain bike, so I will be used to it. We shall see!

Ride on my friends.

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Week 3

Week 3 is here!

I did manage to squeeze in some more rides. It does feel good to have the drive to train once again. I feel better not only physically, but mentally as well. My wife even commented that she has noticed a change in my attitude lately. Due to this, she is going to make me continue riding my bike. haha

I am down a couple of pounds. I last weighed in at 171/172. I just weighed myself this morning, 167.5! I still have a few months to hit the high 150’s. Honestly, I am not concerned about the number as much as how I feel overall.

I am also still sticking with the yoga routine. I slept funny not too long ago and my right shoulder has been annoying me since. Hopefully the yoga will slowly dial that out. My posture is gradually coming back to a better state. I could not be happier at this news. That is one thing I love about yoga, self awareness. You notice the tiny things easily. I used to ignore those small things (or just did not care). Now I find myself finding those tension spots so much earlier. I think about my breath constantly as well. Once my breath starts to get shallow, I find myself tensing up. It is almost like an alarm going off in my head, so I instantly start taking nice and long deep breaths.

 Photo: Hardrock Sport I am looking forward to getting out on the bike this week, if the weather permits. I am still getting my hard tail mountain bike set up. I hope to start riding this one to train on. It is not as comfortable as my full suspension rig, but it is more comfortable than my roadie. The road bike is fast, no doubt, I just want an edge taken off that rough pavement. The mountain bike will help due to the front suspension, and the fact that it is running 700x42c tires instead of the narrow 700x23c’s on my roadie. Do not pay too much attention to the picture of it I posted. That picture was when I first purchased the bike. Some things have changed since. The larger road tires will give me extra float over those imperfections on the back country roads. It also should reduce the vibrations felt in my hands. Okay, okay, I will admit it, I am not totally sure which tire is on the Hardrock Sport. I think it is 42’s. It is either that or 37’s. I will double check on that this week.

A manual fork lockout is a wonderful thing to have. Once those hills hit, I can lock out the fork so more power goes to the pedals. I do not want my effort cushioned by the front fork, making me work harder. I will be honest though, this is a trial. I have taken the road bike every year I have made the MS 150 ride. I know I can make it with no problems on the roadie.

Now the mountain bike needs some fine tuning before the ride. I still have to dial in the saddle (verify proper angle, front/back positioning and maybe even put my spare road saddle on it…or my Brooks), possibly tweak the rotation on the bars, and set up my MTB shoe cleats to the clipless SPD pedals I am installing. I think my cleat is positioned too far back, causing my feet to go slightly numb. The ball of the foot should be over the axle of the pedal, and I do believe I am slightly in front of it. If I am in front of it, it would explain the numbness. That will put pressure on the soft tissue, thus causing discomfort and reduction of circulation. This is where a mirror comes in handy. I can put the bike on the trainer and use a mirror to see how my foot sits over the axle. If I am correct, I will need to move the cleat towards the toe of my shoes. No worries, one of many things to check out before the ride!

 Photo: barend.jpg
I did install some bar ends that I had sitting around (not the exact style in the picture, but it was the closest I could find at UniversalCycles). This should help me get extra torque down when I am grinding up the hills. It also helps in that it gives me some extra hand positions than a typical riser bar has. I do not like numb hands, so changing positions is great. Keeps the blood flowing! Once I get the bike setup, I will take pictures so you all can see what I have done to it.

 photo BontragerSatelliteSideswipeCage.jpgI also got a nifty bottle cage for my full suspension bike. Due to the rear shock mounting location, I am limited in water bottle space. I found that a Bontrager Satellite Sideswipe cage is perfect for it. I can pull the bottle out of the side of the cage, instead of the top. Due to my ability to tilt and then pull the bottle out, I can run a larger bottle. I usually had issues and fought to get a small bottle out of the cage. NO MORE! Now on the Hardrock Sport, I can use a typical cage for the down tube. However, I think I will upgrade the seat tube to this Bontrager cage, so I do not hit the top tube when pulling out the bottle. They make a carbon version, which is very nice. However, I cannot justify spending an extra $50 to save a few grams, so I will stick with the cheap $10 aluminum model, which really is not heavy at all. I like it when things truly do make life more simplistic!

Anyway, I just wanted to give you all an update. Feel free to comment and recommend suggestions to remove the numbness out of my feet!

Ride on my friends.

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The Purchasing High

It is so nice to have that nice new thing to bring home. Like a new car. The paint is flawless, the interior smells “new”, and everything in the car is in tip top working order. You feel proud knowing that you finally got the “car of your dreams”. You have enough in your budget to cover the payments, insurance, etc. No worries, right?

Well….

handingmoney_derp photo handingmoney_derp_zpsab346b43.jpg

I found an article by 4therapy.com that explains this in a clear manner:

There are chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters that carry communication from your brain to throughout your body. When you’re anxious, nervous, or feeling worried (like when self-critical thoughts start creeping in), you get a flood of panic-inducing epinephrine that can feel like pure jet fuel. When something happens that makes you feel especially good (like when you buy something!), you get a rush of incredibly satisfying neurotransmitters called serotonins that feels GREAT.

Once you realize that it is only a temporary “high” you get when you purchase something, you quickly learn that you can do without quite a bit. New things are indeed nice, but take a step back and think. Would the items usefulness outweigh its addition to clutter in your house? I do this quite a bit these days. You really find that you want more than you need.

Do I need that new car? Do I need that new bicycle (oh and I TRY to come up with reasons for this one!)? Do I need that new shirt, jeans, and/or shoes? I am not saying to never purchase anything, not at all! All I am saying is to step back and think about the purchase before you make it.
Thinker photo Thinker_zps2735c315.jpg
Ask yourself questions like these, and be honest with yourself:
– Would I really use this?
– Do I have the room for this?
– If I do not have the room for this, what am I willing to part with in order to make room for this?
– Do I have the money to make this purchase?
– Do I have anything else already that can do the job of this new item just as well, if not almost as well?
– How often would I use it?
– Do I need it?
– Can I wait? Maybe it will go on sale!
– If I do want/need it, can I obtain it used (like Craigslist or ebay)?

For instance, I really like to cook. I have been wanting a KitchenAid stand mixer for ages now. The problem is they run about $400. Would I love to have it? Of course I would! However, due to the fact that I would not use it all that often, I have not purchased one. As of now, a simple hand mixer is more than enough for what I do. Most of the time I just manually mix. You see, I cannot justify the cost of the item because I would not use it often. Now if I was making bread once a week at home, then I would possibly consider it. I do not do that, so I put off the purchase. Do I still drool over them when I hit the culinary store? You bet I do! However, I remind myself of why I have not purchased one as of yet, and I just walk away.

The more you do it, the easier it gets. Home Depot, my true weakness….next to the hardware/tool section of Sears. I see all these nifty gadgets and I want them all, badly! Then I start running through those questions, and I walk away. It is just a knee jerk reaction half the time. Nice shiny new thing, that you may use 5 times….I MUST HAVE IT! No, you do not need it.

I am not saying to be ultra frugal, I am just saying to think before you purchase. Do not go to the store and buy something you just noticed. Always walk away, make a mental note, and think about it. Even if you simply just walk around the store, think if you really need it. Often that slight delay in putting the item into your cart is all the delay you need to make an educated decision.

That is why I have 4 bikes and I do not plan to purchase any more. I have all I need, maybe one bike too many, but they all get used. That is also why I do not get as many little bicycle gadgets anymore. I really think about what I want and what I truly need. I see those new lights for the bike and I want one, but I do not need one. My current lights work just fine!

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Week 2

Week 2 is upon us! I do not expect any huge gains in weight at all for a while. I have been eating horribly, but working on making better decisions. I did pizza and wings one night. I am sure that was at least 750 calories for one meal. UGH.

I did manage to squeeze in a bicycle ride. 22-miles on my mountain bike. Those huge, knobby, 29-er wheels sure take some power to keep the speed above 16-mph. Considering that my last long training ride was in October, and I only squeezed out one ride since (that was 20-miles), this is an excellent start. I burned over 1,000 calories in that workout. I also am working at eating better too. I have not had any pizza at all since that meal I spoke of above. I like making better decisions!

Man StretchingWhen you work out, especially focusing inward like with yoga, your eyes open up to new things. You start to focus on your breath. You also notice those nagging points of tension in your body. What you were oblivious to all of a sudden smacks you right in your face. Just after this short time working out, I am already feeling a bit better. I noticed I was much more relaxed on the drive to work. I also noticed that I sensed my tension quite easily compared to 2-weeks ago. Usually shallow breathing brings on tension. I detected that shallow/short breathing pattern quite easily. Once I was aware of it, I took several slow and deep breaths to relax me some more. Normally I am annoyed when a train comes and messes up the lights on my way to work. This time, I was not annoyed in the least. I am not sure why, maybe it has something to do with a chemical balance inside the body. I do recall reading part of a book by Tara Stiles; she quoted a study that said something like people who took part in a 6-week yoga session at work reported an easier time dealing with stress and improved sleeping. It is believed that the deep breathing, the focus of the breath, is what aids in this.

I went into this just simply to improve my strength in my core and my back. All of this OTHER improvement I feel is a wonderful side effect. Yoga is great for strength since it uses body weight to build muscle. It is great for flexibility because it puts you in positions that require it. However, one cannot overlook the psychological effects related to the practice. It makes you aware of the small things that normally go overlooked in your life. Morning StretchYour breath, that nagging pain in your back or shoulders, tension, lack of flexibility, all of that starts to move to the front of your mind and make itself noticed. For instance, my legs have been known to go nuts sometimes (RLS). They do not like it when they are not worked out. However, after some yoga sessions, I now feel the need to stretch out my legs. It is like they are craving something they have not received in ages. My hip flexors are what I notice the most. I wake up, and they want to be stretched so badly. Of course, I stretch them. Then the rest of my body desires to be stretched. So I do that. Honestly, that is an insanely great way to wake up. The alarm goes off, lay there for a bit, and then stretch. By stretching, you also get your blood pressure up to normal levels in an easy and low impact manner. It also helps to just get the blood flowing, waking you up in a good way.

Yoga TwistEven the twists feel great. Okay, I will be honest. They do not feel all that great while you are doing them. You are struggling to twist as much as you can, yet maintain the ability to take in deep breaths. However, the twists are supposed to aid in digestion and improve blood flow to the internal organs. Still, it really feels great after you do them. That aids your mood as well. Controlling the breath, stretching, exercising, and focusing on things that are not stressful (like your breath, your pose, staying relaxed while in a challenging pose, etc), help take your mind off those nagging negative thoughts. This helps you relax.

MeditationEven before bed, a simple 5-minute meditation helps. By simply focusing on your breath, it works wonders. Every time you mind start to run off on a thought, the second you become aware of it, go back to the breath. It helps clear your mind. It puts your mind at ease. My nights of insomnia are caused by my mind not shutting down. It has got worse in the past year or two. I have finally figured it out. It is nothing more than my inability to wind down. Breathing techniques can help slow the body. By focusing on one thing, whether an object, sound, the breath, or the heartbeat, it helps calm the mind. This is not some religious thing; it is simply a proven way to calm a racing mind. You have to be active in it. The breathing alone will not slow your mind. The attention moved towards the breath, chant, or whatever, that is what helps.

Some poses are challenging, even for me. Most of my strength is in my legs. So when I do some poses that require more arm strength, I get shaky really quickly. Even with my back and abs, same thing. I used to be able to rattle off 100 crunches with no problems. Now, ummm, well, not so much. I do a few and I am burnt out.

Work on those weak parts of your body to stay balanced. If your chest is stronger than your back, you will develop shoulder problems. Your shoulders will roll forward, putting pressure on the front end of the ball joint, resulting in shoulder problems if it goes unnoticed for an extended period of time. Balance is the word of the year for me.

Ride on my friends!

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Winter Cycling – Clothing

Commuting by bike is great, even in the winter. Especially in the winter! You can always layer up to stay warm. Remember the summer? To battle those scorching temperatures, you can only remove so much clothing before you are arrested. That is why I like winter so much.

WinterBiking photo WinterBiking_zpsd1ca7df7.jpg

The biggest problem I have with winter is choosing layers. I own no wool pants. Wool is one of the best things to have when it gets cold out. Guys, you ever priced those wool pants? I have yet to find a well made pair for under $150! Two pairs of those equal the price of my wife’s bicycle. I would rather have another bicycle, thank you very much.

So what is a guy supposed to do? The only viable option would be to simply layer. If you have jeans, just use them. Maybe adding in some extra layers under the jeans would help, or maybe a layer over them. We all know it, jeans are not great at blocking out the wind. Some rain pants would easily cut the wind from your legs. Sure it would not breathe much, but you would not suffer from the wind!

My feet get cold easily. I have the southern mindset in that you only wear one pair of socks. Well, I need to throw the switch for my northern mindset. Back when I lived up north, two pairs of socks were the minimum when it was below freezing and you were exposed to the elements. I think I need to make sure I have enough wool socks. They are relatively cheap, especially when compared to wool pants! My last pair ran me around $15. A few pairs of those and I will be set.

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If your hands get cold easily while commuting by bike, invest in a pair of gloves. Now on my road bike, it is nice having the dexterity that full fingered gloves provide. However, on my cargo bike and mountain bike, dexterity is not crucial. I can operate the controls in mitts. Full finger gloves must fit just right in order to be useful. Yet, even if they do fit right, they only protect to a given temperature. Mitts hold in the heat from the entire hand. It reduces the surface area that is exposed to the elements, thus making them more efficient than gloves; less stylish, but more efficient. I can shift my rapid fire MTB shifters with mitts no problem. You could get those liners that hook to your bike and you slide you hands into. It takes practice to use them, but they do work well. That is what I hear from those who have used them.

A scarf is also a wonderful tool. Most people view a scarf as a tool to only keep your neck warm. Not true. The scarf is a wonderful winter riding tool. Wrap it around your neck to keep your neck warm, and to prevent wind from blowing down the neckline of your jacket. This helps reduce the amount of layers needed for a given temperature. It helps hold heat in, preventing it from escaping out the opening around your neck. Also, you can wrap it around your face to help keep your ears, cheeks, nose and lips warm. Just make sure it is wool! I have seen some decent looking ones for only $40. If you take care of it, it should last you for years.

 photo SnowboardHelmet_zpsee07877a.jpgAnother thing that some people may not think of is the helmet. Those wonderfully expensive helmets, that work great during the warm summer months, are absolutely horrible during the winter. They are designed to be light weight and let in a lot of air to keep your head cool. During the winter, you do not want cool, you want warm. I have looked into several options. Some simply have a similar lightweight helmet and cover the vent holes with packing tape. That cuts the wind out quite well. The problem is it looks bad. If you are not concerned about that, go for it! I have looked into alternative options. Some of the cheaper helmets work great. Skateboarding helmets have good protection and small vents. You get some air flow, but not much. If it is really cold out, you could always go with a snowboarding helmet. These helmets often come with flaps that cover your ears as well! I have REALLY been looking at those. Hopefully one will go on sale once it starts to warm up some. I would love to have one for those cold evenings.

One other thing. I almost forgot this. The cold air can have a negative impact on your eyes. When that cold air hits them, it is not fun. Some may be okay with it; as for me, I would rather avoid it. Make sure you have some good glasses to help cut through that wind. Another option could be goggles. You know the kind, like what you see on the ski slope. Those can really help keep your eyes nice and toasty warm. Worth the investment, so I am told. So far, I have zero need for such an item. Maybe one day will come where I feel I need it. As for now, I am fine without it.

 photo winterbicyclisturban_zps7b3fdc2a.jpgI could really use that helmet with the ear covers. My ears get cold very quickly. Time to watch the sales ads!

Just keep an eye out for anything that will help keep you warm. Also analyze your gear. When you go out for a ride, if one section of your body is chilled, then think up a solution to the problem. I plan on expanding my winter attire so I can ride year round with zero issues.

If I get any gear soon, I will be sure to post up a review! Ride on my friends.

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Week 1

This is what I am planning on doing with my blog. I will try to simply document my changes I am making every week. I will talk about the changes I am making, the improvements I feel, and I will also try to throw in some other information here and there. Let it begin!

Bicycle TrainerThis is the week I have decided to truly start doing yoga. I also started working on getting my cycling back in gear. It is amazing how much you can lose in a couple of months. Of course, riding a bicycle dehydrated is not a highly recommended practice. Long story short, I did 10-miles on my fluid trainer. That 14-15 mph speed I maintained felt more like 18-20mph or 15mph in a heavy headwind. It is somewhat skewed, but it was a workout regardless. My heart rate was good, and my legs needed a slow introduction back into cycling after 2+ months away. Lesson learned, concentrate less on the mileage and more on the workout itself!

Last week I did a yoga session or two at work, maybe 15 minutes total each. I was using those three Tara Stiles videos I posted in my last blog. I did feel the burn. However, our mind is often our limitation. We think we can only do so much, therefore we stop. Mental barriers stink. It is like riding a bicycle. You hit a point where you just think you cannot go any faster or further. Your legs are on fire. Even though you still have fuel in the tank, you think to yourself, “This is as fast as I can go.” However, if you just put that aside, you got a little more in you. All the muscle groups associated with cycling are pretty strong. Sure, they are a little weak right now, but they are still quite strong. Anything not associated with cycling is junk. So that is where the yoga comes in.

Seane CornOut of 4 days, I did yoga on 3 of those days. The last session involved a video by Seane Corn. Now Seane has a different way of doing yoga. Her style is Vinyasa Flow. She is quite fond of the spiritual aspects of yoga as well. I am with her on a lot of her topics, but not all. One thing I agree with is that yoga is individual, every person has his or her own practice. Nobody else will 100% follow your practice. When you ride your bike, you may prefer a cadence between 95-100 rpm, yet your best friend may prefer 90-95 or 100-105. I have seen some people who prefer 75-80 rpm (or even lower). Even though individual practices of yoga are different, Seane’s style of yoga is nice because it “flows”. You repeat several of the positions over and over again; timing it with the breath. I hope to get to a point where I can do the routine without even thinking about it. I believe the whole DVD routine was just under an hour long.

At the end of it, I felt great. I had a little sweat going as well. It is a work in progress I suppose. If I do it enough times and pay attention to the flow, I am sure I can modify it to suit me. I know where I am weak, so I can use more of those poses, and less of the poses I am strong in. If we focus on our strengths, we make our weaknesses that much more weak. Focus on the weaknesses to make yourself better all around. Using a bike reference, I have an issue on climbing. So, on some rides I will crank up the gearing to pretend I am climbing a hill. This simulation helps my climbing ability without needing to drive out to where the hills are. It is a weakness; therefore I practice it to turn it into a strength of mine. If I only practiced flat riding, I would be destroyed when I hit the hills. It is like in baseball. You can 100% concentrate on batting and become a stellar hitter. However, if you cannot run bases well or field the ball at all, then how will you ever make a team or go pro? You cannot.

How can we grow as a person if we only focus on what we are good at? Sure, you will become better at what you are already good at, but I do not feel you will appreciate it. Like music. I was able to pick up on it very easily. It almost seemed effortless. I do not feel that I truly appreciated the gift I had. I could pick up a tuba, trombone, baritone, trumpet, or whatever, and I could learn it pretty quickly. I was playing songs on a saxophone after only playing it for 3-days. I do not mean those beginner songs. No, I was listening to Kenny G. and playing along by ear. Piano…well that is my kryptonite for sure. I want to learn, I just do not have the time.

Where was I? Yes, weaknesses. Focus on your weaknesses to help make you a well rounded person. My weaknesses are in my arms and core. My back, stomach, shoulders, abs, neck and arms are all weak. Due to this, my posture is shot and I hurt on the bicycle. I hope to get everything proper by the time my MS 150 comes around so I can last those 180-miles with no trouble at all.

I look forward to posting another blog post next week. Ride on my friends!

My weight this week: 171 lbs. I will try to keep track of my progress with this as well. Though it is the least important part of my goal. My main goal is to relieve tension, battle stress, get in shape for my charity ride, and hopefully lose a little weight.

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UGH

So, that makes two days in a row with yoga sessions of over 40-minutes each.

Am I dying? My back sure feels like it. I AM SORE. Excellent news! I am rather sick, am I not? hahahahahaha

Soreness in my back and not really anywhere else means that is my weakest link. Well on my way to having a strong back once again!

Ok, that is the end of my update. Still, *twist right* it is *twist left* quite sore….

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