Thursday, February 28, 2008

We did 10 Miles!!!!

As I’ve explained in previous posts, we’ve put together a team for the upcoming 50 mile segment of the Tour de Cure in May and have started our training rides. We have several new riders and last night we did 10 miles.

For many that ride regularly, stating that you rode 10 miles receives the same level of response as “the sun came up today” or “I went to work today”….and to be honest, I actually scheduled a night time mountain bike ride for later the same day just so I could get in enough miles to feel like I did something.

But, as I thought about this last night, it dawned on me just how big an accomplishment this really is for most people. If you really think about it, how many people do you know that do absolutely no exercise whatsoever? How many people do you know that have ridden a bicycle 10 miles in their adult life? How many people do you know that categorize walking through the mall as "exercise"?

According to a Gallup poll, the average American engages in “moderate” exercise 3 times per week…of course they list mowing the lawn as moderate exercise and we all know how people tend to over-exaggerate their exercise levels in a survey....afterall, none of us want to be thought of as lazy.

Here are some other statistics I found interesting:
- A whopping 64 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese
- Our consumption of fruits and vegetables has increased, but only because French fries and potato chips are included as vegetables. Potato products account for almost a third of our "produce" choices
- Among children and teens ages 6-19, 15 percent or almost nine million are overweight...triple the rate in 1980!

So, while it’s no big deal for someone who rides regularly go out and ride 10 miles, for the general majority of the population, and for some of our team, this is a big milestone and they are to be congratulated and encouraged.
As a matter of fact, a couple of the people are doing so well, that we’re probably going to have to split into 2 groups so that they can continue to progress and not be bored on our training rides.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Getting old is painful....

Actually, I'm not so sure that that's true. I think getting old is less painful than trying to stay young.
I've recently had to add going to the gym on a regular basis to my cycling in order to offset the creaking, the groaning and the widening that comes with old age. (I'm sure my love of sweets and beer has nothing to do with this phenomonon)

On your first visit to the gym,(aka the torture pit) you're given a "complimentary" session with a personal trainer. (aka hilda the masochistic man hater)
I have several issues with this....
first....there's nothing "complimentary" about making you stand on a scale in front hundreds of young, healthy, gym rats, then measuring your body fat with calipers that obviously lie since I'm sure it's scientifically impossible for a persons body to be made up of 98.2% fat

Secondly....they say they're glad you're there and they look forward to your coming back regularly....after which they try to kill you! Not in the figurative sense either....literally. I'm sure Hilda would have enjoyed seeing my heart and lungs spontaneously combust leaving me a quivering mass of 98.2% fat lying prone on the floor.

Lastly, who do they think they're fooling with their "motivational" little snippets....good job! you're doing great! only 10,000 more reps!! you're almost done!! And my personal favorite....what doesn't kill you makes you stronger!!! But, what if it DOES kill you?? That would really suck wouldn't it? (unless you're Hilda and that's the highlight of your day...."Ha! I killed another member - that makes 7 this week)

Although, I must say....once I got out of bed 3 days later, I did feel stronger

Monday, February 25, 2008

I'm done with Winter....

Seriously done, completely finished and totally over it! Come on Spring!!!

I did get in a couple of days of skiing this year which were great – both turned out to be perfect days. One day it snowed heavily the entire day so there was nice powder to be found all day long, the other was the day after a storm on a perfectly clear blue sky day….

Both of these were great days and made me thankful for a good winter, but each was only one day out of the week. The rest of those weeks, the rain in the bay area prevented me from getting out and riding and pretty much kept me indoors.

Now, if you ask my wife, she’ll tell you I’m not good at being indoors. (or sitting still for that matter) I like to be outside. I tend to be restless and get bored really easily. Actually, I pretty much go crazy when it rains on the weekend and this weekend was even worse. Not only did it rain all weekend, but poor Deb had the flu… so we stayed indoors most of the weekend.

The upside is that the frustration at being locked down means that the kitchen is REALLY clean, lots of laundry got done, the bills got paid, all the old mail that’s been piling up on my desk got shredded, I made a new batch of granola, I made (and ate) a batch of brownies, the last of the firewood was split and burned, pictures were ordered from snapfish and sent to my mom, my itunes and ipod were updated with the CD’s I’ve been meaning to load, Deb’s iPod was updated, I started (and finished) a book I’ve wanted to read and all the magazines I’m behind on were finished and Deb and I watched a couple of pretty good movies. Oh, and I watched the Tour of California both days….

So, I guess it wasn’t a total waste but back to my original point, I’m done with winter. I’m ready for Spring. I want to be outside riding my bike and working in the yard. Besides, I now have to burn off an entire platter of brownies that somehow got eaten when I was on lockdown…..

Friday, February 22, 2008

Kid trailers, bike seats and dirty diapers.....

Well, my grandson Caleb is almost a year and half old now and I think that’s plenty old enough to ride with grandpa on the local bike trail. I have a couple of concerns though before I head down that path. (literally and figuratively speaking)

First, how safe are the trailer things? What about the bike seats? Do kids need a helmet when in the trailer like they do on the seat? What separates a $100 trailer from a $400 trailer?
Surprisingly, Google generates very little information on this topic although I did find one site that had some good info.

So, after reading everything I could find, it looks like the trailer is the best bet. Even if only because I can put toys and books back there to keep him occupied. And when he’s not riding I can fill it with beer and chips to survive the longer rides.

The question then becomes, which one? There are at least a dozen brands out there and finding a site with information comparing one to the other was tough. The sites I did find tended to compare them based on the marketing literature put out by the manufacturers.

So, after much digging and reading, I’ve narrowed the search based on a couple of key features (all related to safety obviously)
- The hitch where it attaches to the bike must pivot. This is so that in the rare case where I fall over, the trailer will stay upright
- The cover should allow protection from sun, wind and rain – not that his mom would ever let me actually take the little guy out in the rain, but the wind and sun protection are important
- Roll bar – again, in the case of a tipover
- Harness – it looks like there are various methods offered for containing the kid and since the mom says duct tape isn’t a viable offering, I need to look at those
- Ability to convert to a stroller. Not sure this is important but would be a nice option.

I think that’s it as far as key points. Now it’s a matter of shopping and seeing which one I can get the best deal on.

The second and last issue I have with the whole "take the little guy for a ride" thing is, that as the grandpa, I have resolved to not change diapers.
I know I know…you’re saying but why? Well, cuz I’m the grandpa dammit! I don’t have to.
I explained to the two people that Caleb lives with that I've done the parent thing already and as the grandpa, it was my right to enjoy my grandson, spoil him rotten, feed him stuff that’s bad for him and then give him back when he smells bad or acts fussy.

Obviously, if I have him for any length of time, this is going to come in to play. And, seeing as I don’t have a staff of nannies (or au pairs for the snooty people), I’m going to have to work it out so I leave right after a diaper change and return just before the next one…..these things do come with a schedule right?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Being the leader can suck sometimes.....

Yesterday was Wednesday which means I was supposed to lead the weekly training ride after work.
According to, we were supposed to have mostly cloudy but you wouldn't know it from the heavy rain that was coming down when I woke. Luckily, by the time noon rolled around the sky was blue so I emailed everyone that the ride was on.

We met at the parking lot for the Alameda Creek trail with a goal of 15 miles and headed out. There were 5 of us and for one of the riders this was only the second ride in the last 30 years.

The Alameda Creek trail is the perfect route to take beginners on. Since it’s a multi use trail there are no cars to deal with and it’s almost completely flat except where it goes under the cross streets. If you start at one end and do the entire out and back including the loop around Coyote Hills, you can make a 30 mile ride out of it.
Of course there’s no such thing as a perfect ride which we would find out later.

We had done a nice easy 6 miles on the way out when it started getting cold and dark so we turned around and headed back. Everyone was having a good ride and there weren’t any issues other than the mention of a numb butt. We were actually about 500 yards from the parking lot when navigating the last underpass (which has a pretty sharp turn) one of the rider’s bikes went out from under them and down they went.

Now the crash wasn’t all that serious. There was some road rash, and they’re definitely sore today but nothing life threatening and there don’t appear to be any broken bones. And, luckily one of the other riders had his first aid kit in his truck. Still, I was the ride leader and someone crashed which triggers a lot of thought and reflection. (along with a certain amount of guilt)

Things I learned from last night’s incident. (You’ll notice I refrain from calling it a crash. This is my way of minimizing the situation and avoiding additional guilt.)
- I should always have a first aid kit in the truck
- No matter how easy a ride seems, things can go wrong
- There’s no such thing as a perfect route
- The minute and a half between when someone goes down and that person gets back up can be the longest 90 seconds ever

All in all it was a good ride for 11.9 of the 12 miles out and back. The person that went down said they’ll definitely be back next week and lesson were learned so I guess some good came out of it and it could have been much worse.

The other bad part is that the person involved in “the incident” is our safety manager at work and I’ll probably get written up for not having my first aid kit with me in the truck…..

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Why so competitive?????

I was talking to a buddy the other day and he mentioned a neighbor of his that is going to be joining our Tour de Cure team and is ultra competitive. He then said, “you and she will probably get along fine since you’re both the same…”

While I acknowledge that there’s a slim chance, that I might possibly be, just a little bit, competitive, I am baffled as to what may have caused this. Growing up, I played sports of all types, but not competitively and not very well. As an adult I’ve played softball, skied and run the occasional 10K. Again, none of these were competitive and being only moderately athletic and partially coordinated, I was never in it to win. Only to have fun.

At some point though, things must have changed. I don’t want to just have fun when we get together for a pickup game of basketball, I don’t want to be the last one down the mountain when skiing, and, I don’t want people to pass me when we’re riding bikes. As a matter of fact, just putting someone on a bike out in the distance is enough motivation to get me to practically cough up a lung and drive myself way into the red zone in an attempt to catch them. I’m not sure at what point this change took place, but it definitely did.

Of course, it also has a lot to do with the people I ride with. On our weekly training ride, where there are a few beginners, I’m perfectly content to just cruise along and have fun. We conversate (yes, I realize that’s not even a word) we joke and laugh and generally have a nice time. Afterwards we hang out in the parking lot and have a beverage and talk about how much fun we just had.

On other rides though, with other riders, the goal seems to be to try to kill each other or push each other to the point that you’re left looking like a Jello shaped mass barely able to lean up against the truck while you gasp painfully for air. As a matter of fact there’s even a t-shirt awarded if you can make someone hurl.
Now, some of my buddies will say that I am the sole instigator of this behavior and that they’d be perfectly happy just pedaling along while chatting, but that’s just not true. They always start it. (usually, by passing me)
And, while I have been known to laugh at fellow riders when they’ve experienced an especially good faceplant or unplanned dismount, I always wait to make sure they’re relatively ok, before laughing at them and mocking them till they cry.

So, back to my original question, at what point did this begin? I’ve thought about this quite a bit and I think it all started when I got married and only intensified when my daughters became old enough to talk.
I’m convinced that losing every argument for the last 25 years and always being the cause for everything that goes wrong in the entire teenage world, has left me with a severe need to punish anyone and everyone that I come up against in a competitive situation.

Unfortunately, I’m not at the level that my skills can actually keep up with my attitude, so what it ends up looking like is me pushing myself to the brink of death trying to keep up with every 65 year old guy that passes me on the bike path while riding his 1970 Schwinn varsity.

Oh well, as long as more of my friends have the team hurl t-shirt than I do, I'm content. (and thereby the winner)

Long weekends are the best!

I love 3 day weekends! Usually my weekends are an exercise in compromise. I try to juggle time with the family, getting the chores and yardwork done and getting some time in the saddle. What usually happens is my rides are shorter than they need to be, my yardwork and chores get a quick once over with the promise that I'll do a thorough job the next time and my family time ends up being shorter than I'd like and never quite as relaxing as I want since I'm always thinking of everything that isn't getting done. Bigger projects...well, they never even get started since I know I won't have time to finish them.

3 day weekends are much better. This weekend, I got a nice 40 mile ride (3000 ft of climbing) ride in on Saturday morning, then got some chores done later in the day. Sunday was church, then we went to a party for a friend and yesterday I was able to actually start and finish installing a flagstone patio and pathway in the backyard.

I rode from Castro Valley out to the Orinda BART station to meet up with some friends. I was feeling really good going up Redwood. Pretty sure I was on pace to break some local records or at least place well in the Tour de least until I heard "on your left" and 3 guys practically flew by me. Ok, so maybe not quite as fast up that hill as I thought I was.

From the Orinda BART station we rode out past San Pablo Dam and then around to Briones where we did the 3 Bears and then headed back to the BART station. It was a perfect Spring-like day with sunny but cool weather. We saw tons of other riders out there.

We also saw a lady try to drive away from a gas pump without removing the nozzle from her tank. The quick release did it's job and the only damage was to her pride.

Looks like it's supposed to rain the rest of the week, so I'm not sure how many miles I'll get in this week. Solvang is 3 weeks and counting so I'm hoping this weather pattern doesn't last too long.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Thank goodness it's Friday!

I am SO glad it's Friday!!! For the past 2 days I've been playing IT guy here at work. Now real IT guys, or even those with at least some knowledge, would have thought relocating a couple of workstations and upgrading 4 others from desktops to laptops is no big deal.
But, the advantage they have is, they would actually have a clue as to what they were doing.

Actually, it really wasn't that big a deal. The company that sells us our equipment sent out a guy to do the real work. All I had to do was move stuff around, update some poeple's files and listen to all the whining from the poor poor people that are being forced to switch from old slow desktops to brand new, really fast, nice laptops.....oh, those poor souls....isnt' it horrible how we force them to use the latest and greatest equipment?
"Office 07 doesn't look like the old one, my desktop shortcuts are all gone, you messed up my papers when you took away the old CRT and gave me this new flat panel monitor...." fer cryin out loud ya bunch whiners, there are sales people everywhere that would love to get new laptops!!!! Besides, you need to clean your desks once in a while. After moving all your equipment I'm disgusted at how you keep your cubes....filthy I tell you filthy!!!

oh well, the good news is it IS Friday and that and a video tonight!!! Yeah, I know you're thinking "wow, that guy is a party animal" Sorry, but I'm old and by the time Friday rolls around I'm wiped and that is the highlight of my week. besides, tomorrow is supposed to be another gorgeous California day and I've got a nice 45 mile ride planned with a few thousand feet of climbing so I need my rest. (Note - for those of you doing the Tour de Cure, I hope you're riding this weekend know who you are)

On a completely different note, if you live in Hayward and are a voter (and you should be) make sure you check out the website on the proposed bond measure for our schools. The site is still in the works, but you should bookmark it and check back regularly. This is a very important issue for those of you that are concerned about our kids and our property values.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

ok, so maybe this isn't as easy as it looks

This is nuts!, I'll stick with water aerobics, I was afraid if I went any further I wouldn't make it back, my whole left side is numb. you guys are a bunch of liars......

We heard these comments and many others as we took our second "team ride" last night.
Last week we did a nice, flat, 10 miles with everyone. My thought was that we'd take it easy and see where everyone was as far as fitness. The following day the comments were, that was easy, I'm not tired at all, this is no big deal....

Well, this week we planned a 12 mile route that involved some hills and the responses were a little different.....

The route is a 6 mile out and back and for the most part, it's uphill on the way out and downhill on the way back. It's a regular training ride for some of us and my best time is 45 minutes. Last night it took us a little longer. An hour and 45 minutes.

We had a couple of new riders join us this week. Both have been exercising regularly(although, I'm not really sure using a beer bong is considered exercise) but haven't been on a bicycle in years. (30 years for one of them) The first made it a mile before she turned back the next turned around at the 1 1/4 mile mark.

The rest of the group made it all the way although they all agreed that the ride out (downhill with a tailwind) was way more fun than the ride in.

All in all, a great night on the bike.... (although, there are still several members of the team that have yet to actually get on the bike)

more photos:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Some days we're just not meant to ride.....

Ever have one of those days? It seems like the entire world is conspiring against you.
I’ve got the Solvang Century coming up in about 3 weeks and I’m nowhere near where I need to be in terms of fitness. For some people this is no big deal, but I'm one of those guys that tends to stress about things like that. I don't want to die on a ride, I don't even want to be miserable on a ride. I want to be in shape, comfortable and have fun on these types of rides.

(I want to be the guy that makes my friends suffer when we ride - not the other way around)

So, with the gorgeous weather and a meeting I have to attend at 7:30 for the Yes for Kids bond planning (, I figure I’ll go in to work even earlier so I can sneak out by 3:00.
I call my buddy Jerry and tell him to meet me at the lake at 4:00. We can do Sunnyslope and then the canyon which should give us some climbing and about 20 miles.(sunnyslope sounds like such a pleasant place and I'm sure it is, unless you're pedaling up it on a single speed bike)

Well, 2:45 rolls around and I start trying to wrap things up. Of course, about the same time, people start coming in to my office with things that have to be addressed. 3:00 comes and goes, 3:15 comes and goes and finally at about 3:30 I just up and leave.

Ok, so I’m not that far off schedule, I can still run home, change and get rolling. I’m driving home and notice the sticky note on my dash reminding me to pick up my father in law’s medicine. (argh!) Ok, so I’ll run by the pharmacy then get on the bike. That will probably add a half hour. That’s ok, as long as I’m pedaling by 4:30 I can still get a good ride in before dark. Besides this will make us kick up the pace a bit. Call Jerry, "hey I'm running a little late - see ya at 4:30"

I make it to the pharmacy in record time with no speeding tickets, run inside and get in a line that resembles the line from the Indiana Jones ride in Disneyland (aarrghh!) Waiting, waiting, waiting…..then Deb calls.
“hey did you pick up dad’s medicine?”
“um…no, I’m actually in line now”
“oh well, never mind, the doctor called and said for him to stop taking that one” (AAAARRRGGGHHH!!!! - of course that’s only in my head. I’ve found if you scream at the top of your lungs in public, people tend to look at you strangely)
“ok, honey no problem”.
Jump back in the truck, race home, change clothes, fill the water bottles, load the bike, drive like a madman (actually I obeyed every traffic law and never exceeded the speed limit. I would never condone breaking the law – ok, chris?), and screech into the parking lot at the lake at 4:29!
Jerry’s obviously been there a while since he’s all ready and waiting patiently. I get out of the truck, put on the shoes, helmet, gloves, grab the bike outta the back and …………

It’s then I realize I left the front wheel sitting in the garage....

As I watch Jerry get on his bike it’s obvious to me that I wasn’t meant to ride today. I don’t know why I wasn’t meant to ride. Or who decided I shouldn’t ride, but there’s no denying it. I’m am NOT riding today.

The evening wasn’t a total bust though. I stopped at Safeway and picked up a couple of steaks, went home fired up the bbq, spent some time with my daughter and grandson and relaxed for a bit before the meeting.

Tonight will be better...I just know it

Monday, February 11, 2008

Training and cross training

Well, we had a gorgeous weekend with weather in the bay area hitting the high 60's. Saturday I did 32 miles with almost exactly 2000ft of climbing. There's a pretty cool website - that allows you to map out and track your rides. It includes some nice features and will give elevations as well.
There were a lot of riders out on Foothill and I'm guessing they were training rides for the upcoming Cinderella Classic since it seemed like almost every rider we saw was a woman.

Sunday, I decided to do a little cross training and drove to Dodge Ridge to ski for the day. What a perfect day! Sunny and warm.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Tour de Cure

So, we had our first "official" training ride for this year's Tour de Cure in May.
Last year we had 10 riders, did 50 miles and raised almost 11,000.00 for the diabetes foundation.

This year, we're still trying to finalize the team, but should have even more riders and hopefully raise even more money for this cause.

Here's our team so far....

Here we go....

So, last year I attempted and didn't finish the Markleeville Death Ride. (too long a story to even tell) This year, I've committed to trying it again, assuming I get chosen of course, and thought that this blog would be a good way to track and share my progress.I've actually ridden through most of the winter, but mainly on my SS mt bike, so although I feel like I'm not totally Slug-like (capitalized since my daughter is at UCSC) coming in to the Spring season, I'm nowhere near where I need to be.I'm also putting a team together for another Tour de Cure so I'll use this to keep those people on track as well.