Sunday, December 27, 2009

I sure am glad we purchased a new snow blower this summer when they were on sale. You might not be able to find one after this latest dumping we've been cleaning up. This was at my parents's house. They got real snow, where as we got a slush/snow mix that laughed at snow blowers. I enjoyed blowing out my folks place, but that word can't describe the job at hand here at the BD hq.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Brooklyn, ready for a cold weather walk.

It's cold, even the dog needs some warm clothing. After a warm fall, this winter is in full deep freeze mode in these parts. You dance, you pay, as I see it. I haven't been in the bike for a while and I'm feeling with-drawls big time. I'm going to set up the trainer in the basement tomorrow and catch up on some on some of the videos I've burned lately. I wish we'd get enough snow to X/C ski on, but the bitter cold won't let that happen.

I'm all registered for school, which starts on Jan. 11th. One class that really has me excited is digital photography. I've always wanted to learn to shoot and edit pictures better, so why not get credits for it? Some of the student that have taken it said it was a very good class and they learned a lot. Can't hurt, that's for sure.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Stuff

I'm still not feeling 100%. The energy levels are low, kind of off on everything I do, slight head ache that comes and goes, my blood glucose level is up for no good reason. Part of the latter is due to less riding and exercise in general, plus when you are sick, your cortisol level runs higher, which drives your blood sugar up. When I feel lousy, I don't eat as well as I should. I think it's natural that we head for the comfort foods when we're sick. I do, but not to the extreme. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

My placement tests are on tap for the 10th of this month. After the beat down I laid on the battery of tests I did for the funding part, I should be OK. I've been doing a keyboarding program at home to sharpen up my typing and 10 key abilities. Also, I'm doing a home course on Microsoft Office. I knew some of the basics, but I needed work on the advanced portions. Who sez ya can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What Ever Will I Wear ?

That's the question that starts every ride for most every cyclist. Every one has a few key pieces that work well for them. Yesterday, it was 35f and sunny when I went for a road ride. Here's the run down on the kit of the day:
That's what keeps me comfortable in these types of temps. Add a layer if it's gets too much colder, and shoes covers for under 20f, since I don't have a pair of Lake or Louis Garneau winter shoes. That's going to happen when they go on sale after the season.

It sure has been great riding this late in the year on clean roads and trails with relative un-bulky comfort. I have a feeling we aren't going to be putting the road bikes away for a while. Enjoy!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Week That Wasn't

Last Sunday, I had planned a 40 mile ride. The weather has been great and I wanted to take advantage of the fact. Sunday morning, I lubed the chain on the Immortal Force, pumped up the tires, and loaded it in the van. Then, i went upstairs to change into my riding gear. Things soon went pear shaped. My stomach, which is usually cast iron, started doing back flips, followed by pain. Some chills and fever set in. No ride for me today, at least not this morning, I thought. Soon, retching and other nasty bodily functions ensued. I crawled back to bed and slept till 6:00 pm. I still felt like crap. At least the next day, I wasn't as bad, but it still comes and goes up to now. I tried a ride this afternoon, but my heart rate stayed elevated and I felt light headed. At least yesterday was OK, but I would really like to get in some more mile tomorrow while this great weather holds out......

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Was that a truck that hit me or life? After last Sunday's love fest with the gravel trail ride, I got into a little painting project. Plus, English, math, and interest inventories for school funding. More of that stuff tomorrow afternoon.

I was absolutely cooked after the ride with Doug and Jeff. It was fun, even though I just ground out the miles with little or no power. Without a lot of riding as of late, I really was prepared for it. And I paid for it for a couple of days after the fact. My bad.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, I spent painting the interior of my parent's house. 9 hours a day of up and down, floor to ceiling, was a lot of work. But it sure looked great when done.

Thursday, I spent the day at city hall testing. To my surprise, and the tester's, I scored very, very high in the English skills, and very high on the math. I'm encouraged for college after putting up some solid results in various tests. I'm not sure what tomorrow's session will involve, but I'm ready. With me going into the medical information field and L in the legal, I think we have the job market covered. I hope....

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Gravel Trail Ride

This morning Doug, Jeff, and I met at the trail head off the Moccasin Mike Road heading out of Superior for a nice gravel trail ride. To get some miles in for winter biking. To start some training for winter racing. 33.489 mile later, I am cooked. I've got cramps in both inner thighs. My legs locked up in the shower. I feel weak. Boy, does it feel good!!!

Here's a link to the festivities.

I really enjoy riding with Doug and Jeff, and I think they enjoy dragging my slow, old, fat butt around. Gotta make 'em feel better about themselves. It would me.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sense Of Direction

Well, it looks like the end of the line for me and the car biz. I won't be returning to the job I had before being laid off, so it's a new plan of action here at the ranch. I'm enrolling in school for the first time since high school graduation, thanks to some of that Obama stimulus plan money. I'm looking at getting into the medical insurance field, so I'm taking some courses on billing, coding, and such. Being that the health insurance industry is getting a revamp, it looks to be a good opportunity for me. L will be done with her legal studies about the time I get ramped up, so she can enter the work force while I learn. At least that's the plan.

I got out for a nice ride on the road bike yesterday. An hour and a half of nice tempo on the Munger Trail. I saw one other cyclist the whole time on a crisp 35 degree morning. A base layer and a long sleeve jersey, along with bib knicks were all I needed for perfect comfort. Oh, and a Sugoi skull cap and Specialized Radiant gloves, too. That reminds me, I need to get some more chemical had warmers before the really cold weather sets in. They sure are handy to have along if things change weather-wise.

I'm also thing about doing the North Shore Ultra this winter. Maybe the half, as Jeff and Doug plan on. That could be some serious motivation to get back training hard. Now that the game plan is in place for everything else, this could happen.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Race Across The Sky

L and I went to the movie "Race Across The Sky " last night at the Harbor theater. It's about this year's Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race in Leadville, Colorado. It's been a cult classic event since 1994, but now guys like Lance Armstrong are riding it and bring more wide spread notariaty to the race. This will probably make it harder to get in in the coming years, seeing that they limit it to @1400 entrants via a lottery system. Too bad for some, but at least being a "name" doesn't mean you will get in. 6 time champ David Wiens, a long time top mtb pro, didn't get i the first couple of years he tried. Only Tour De France winners are automatics.

The movie started with a panel discussion featuring Lance, Travis Brown, David Wiens, Chris Carmicheal, Matt Shriver, Ken Choulber (who organizes the event) and moderator Dave Towle. It did add a little back ground and gave Lance a chance to explain why he was doing the race and what it meant to him. He said he was more nervous at the start of Leadville than at the Tour De France.

The movie itself featured a lot of Lance, some human interest stories, fantastic camera work, and good narration by Bob Roll. With 14,000 feet of climbing, all of it from above 9000 feet of elevation, it's one epic challenge. The biggest challenge Lance faced was a flat tire with about 7 miles to go. He couldn't figure out how to fix it, being a tubeless and all, so he road it to the finish flat. Lucky it was on the back. He held off Wiens and won in record time. He said one of the reasons he rode so hard was to stay warm, as it was very cold. Many of the slower riders had to tough it out in rain and sleet. They were suffering, but all looked to really enjoy the pain. I felt bad for those that missed the first time cut, such as a guy who had 2 new knees and trained very hard, but just missed it. That would suck. One strange thing was Travis Brown's bike - a 26er with drop bars, ala John Tomac.

All and all, I really enjoyed the show, as did L. She just started to ride a bike again, and was fascinated with the movie. It showed the human side of bike racing from all types of riders.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A New Page

A couple of mile stones this weekend. First, L and I decided to get married. Not right now, but probably in a year or so down the line. I sold my spare road bike and used the proceeds to get her a nice ring. Nothing gaudy, just a small diamond in a classy setting. Funny how the economy has even hit the jewelry market. I purchased it at a fraction of what it would have cost a year and a half ago. Funny how things change. A few months ago, I vowed I would never tie the knot again. She said the same. The fact that neither of us is working full time right now has left us a lot of opportunity to get to know each other in a relatively short space of time. It's been great!

The second thing is she decided she wanted to go for a bike ride with me. She hasn't been on a bicycle since the 7th grade and wasn't sure about how she would do. So, she borrowed a bike from her friend and we headed down the Munger Trail out of Carlton this afternoon. We rode 6 miles with no problems. She seemed to really enjoy it and wants to go out again tomorrow. If this keeps up, we'll have to get her her own rig and some clothes. But first, lets see if she continues to enjoy it. More on that after a few more trips.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Training Block

I started a new Polar heart rate based training block yesterday. It's mainly to keep up the off season fitness on the bike. The rides are short enough to do indoors on a trainer if the weather is too nasty for all but the most dedicated year around riders. Folks like Doug, Jeff, Charlie, and rest of you out there know who you are. It will probably take me a few rides to get acclimated and today was a better than yesterday. Nothing got cold or even uncomfortable. Yes, it was a balmy 35 degrees, so one shouldn't get chilled. As they say, "man's game".

Speaking of winter riding, Walmart carries studded MTB tires. First, carbon bottle cages, now studded tires. Who'd a thunk it? BTW, the Bell carbon bottle cages are as good as I've used, and are now under $20.00. What will they off next? A full carbon framed bike? Actually, they do. Special order only, of course. Weird. But, at least they recognize the bike culture and are offering some better products. I doubt that they will rattle up the real bike shops. At least I hope not.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Notes of Disintrest

The weather has just been rotten. No other word for it. A rainy, cold, windy weather pattern has taken over. So, just as Charlie squats in the bush, getting stronger, so must we. Cold weather gear comes out of the closet, drawer. corner, what have you, and the warm weather kit gets washed and put away. Indian summer may make an appearance, but this cannot be relied upon. Let's get ready for the season, what ever it my bring.

What do you use for chamois cream? Assos? DZ Nutz ? There are a ton out there, none cheap. If you don't use one and ride for more than a hour, you really should try it. Chamois cream changes everything. Why do I bring this up, you ask? Well, I've found a great, inexpensive substitute for the expensive, purpose dedicated brands. Udderly Smooth foot cream works just as well and is cheap. Under three bucks a tube. And, it works on feet better than anything else I have tried. L runs around bare footed most of the time, as a result her feet get rough and dry. After nightly massages with Udderly Smooth, they feel like new.

Speaking of chamois', The Castelli bib knicks I've been using have Castelli's KISS padding. If seemed it would be too thin, but after two long rides, not so. No discomfort or pressure spots at all. Chamois' have come along ways over the old leather we used to rock.

The Polar heart rate training block is over. I feel stronger than a few weeks ago, even though the average speeds of rides is down a bit. That's due to the warm up and cool down fazes of the daily program. One thing for sure, I can ride at a higher cadence for longer than ever. Well, in the last few years, not like when I was a lad. Those days are over, never to be recaptured. That's a fact o aging. But, with smarter, no necessarily harder work, we can get some back. That's my goal.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Against The Wind 2

Wow, that cold air mass that swung down from Canada really kicked us into fall in a big hurry. Last week, temps in the 80's, now 40's to 50's are in store. I ended up doing my zone 2 hill work yesterday instead of Sunday. Pure murder is all I can say, into the wind at least. It's hard to dress for this weather, but it comes down to layers. I got a new Pro Bike Kit long sleeve jersey and Castelli bib knicks a couple of weeks back and can put them to use now. I just need to find a good long fingered glove that's not too insulated for this kind of weather. I hate sweaty hands, but not cold hands. Do I ask for too much?

I don't know if you are like me, but this weather kicks in the comfort food cravings. It's fortunate that there is a pasta us diabetics can enjoy without having to take a butt load of insulin. Dreamfields
pasta is a low carb, high fiber product that tastes great and doesn't spike your blood sugar. I took my normal dose of Novolog the first time I ate it, and had a low sugar episode that evening. It is as good as advertised.

Speaking of the wind, I'm hating it a lot less these days. I'm not sure why, maybe it's just an acceptance of something you can't control. Or, maybe it's that I've gotten stronger, my bike is lighter and so am I. My climbing abilities still suck, but you can't have everything. I guess maybe I can, after all Cadel Evans just won a world championship.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday's Plan

Today, I get to ride hill intervals as part of my Polar training plan. After a 20 minute zone 2 warm up, it's 3 minutes at a cadence of 50-60 uphill in zone 3, a six minute cool down in zone 2, then repeat 5 more times. Lester River Road should be perfect for the task. Can you say "flaming quads"? Feel the burn !!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Stuff

Today was supposed to be a 3 hour hill zone 2 ride. How the hell can I stay in zone 2 on a hilly ride ? Walk ? Beats me. I didn't do it because my blood sugar has been all over the map today, the lower part of the map mostly. This causes me to be tired, edgy, lethargic, but mostly, some gastric distress that doesn't go well with a bike ride. It will have to wait until tomorrow.

Yesterday's zone 3 interval session was a true suffer fest. High cadence accelerations for an hour left my quads very sore this morning. First time in a while I've felt this way, and to be honest, it's refreshing knowing the pain means progress for a change. I'm fired up to see how I do on the hilly route I plan on riding tomorrow. Should be fun.

Speaking of fun, my new bike is a gas for intervals. It responds and just accelerates when getting on it out of the saddle and stomping hard. A the while, riding as smooth as can be. That's with 140 psi in the tires.

BTW, my old bike is for sale on Craigslist if you know anyone looking. Great components if some one is looking to upgrade an older frame, or just wants a new ride.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Training Day

Today was a fabulous day to be out on a bike. Perfect temps, sunny, dry, all you could ask for. Now for the million dollar question - when are we going to pay? Knock on wood, hopefully not for a long while. We deserve a little global warming around these parts occasionally.

My 2 week Polar heart rate based training camp called for a 2.5 hour zone 2 high cadence spin. High cadence meaning 90 or above. It's not so easy to keep your heart rate low while spinning that fast, but it does make you aware of what's going on at all times. I can see why the pros can ride all day while turning some serious r's.

I headed down the Munger Trail from Carlton south. After the last 4 sessions, this was an easy day. Sunday was a 20 minute zone 2 warm-up, a 1 hour zone 3 session, low (50-60 rpm) followed by 100 rpm spin, the back to the low, power building grind again. Then a 20 minute zone 2 cool down to end the day. I'm finding that 20 - 30 minute cool down to really be the key to being fresh the next day.

Now that I've figured out the ideal blood sugar readings to start my rides at, and how often to add some fuel, the bonk hasn't reared it's ugly head. My legs just turned the pedals as prescribed and the time flew by. Bucking a head wind on the way back caused me to go out of zone a bit now and then, but the alarm would sound telling me to back off. Also, the new bike rides and handles so well, fatigue doesn't seem to come into play. Tomorrow calls for flat, high speed intervals, then Friday, a long hill zone 2. I can't wait.....

An interesting side note - This month's Road Bike Action magazine reviewed the bike I just acquired, the Motobecane Immortal Force, and gave it a very favorable rating, especially for handling, ride and value. They also reviewed the Ellis custom frames and were very impressed. Doug's custom Ellis looks a lot nicer than the one featured in the article. His has much nicer paint work and a more custom look over all. Cool to see both in the same mag.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday Ride

Sunday, I decided to ride the Gitchie Gammi Trail from Gooseberry Falls on north. It was not what I was expecting. Scenic, yes, a good training trail, well, no. A lot of people have told me what a great ride this is, but none were true cyclists. I guess if you're just trundling along and wathcing the scenery, it would be fine, but if you want to ride hard, no so. Very rolling with no rhythm to it, the pavement is super slow ( I thought I had flatted a couple of times ) and bumpy. The kind of bumps that you don't really see, but makes you feel like your tires have an egg on them. Not to my liking, but it does have a couple of climbs to test your self on. Several people were walking their bikes up them, so I didn't feel so bad in my 34 X 28 gears and heart rate into zone 5.

Speaking of heart rate, I've started a program from Polar's web site designed to increase my climbing abilities, based on heart rate and cadence. This a 2 week training camp style program that gets you used to riding different terrains at different heart rates and cadences, all tailored to your current fitness, age, and weight. After reading up on how H/R training works, it makes sense to me and is worth a try. Staying in the prescribed zones and cadences is was tough the first 2 sessions, but after the 3rd, it's getting easier. Even though I wasn't in the "groove " yesterday, the one longish climb seemed easier than usual. We'll see how it goes. Today's ride calls for a half hour zone 2 warm up, a 1 hour zone 3 mix of high the low cadences, then a half hour zone 2 to cool down. Fun training that hopefully with help with the weight loss, too.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different

That's Spooky The Jungle Cat. If he's not sleeping in a chair on the front porch or back deck, in my van, or in the cool grass along side the garage, he's surveying his domain from the trees in the front yard. He has no fear, jumping from branch to branch like a primate. He also protects the other three felines in the household from the neighborhood stray cats and dogs that threaten the peace. Super cat if there ever was one.

Speaking of cats, I had ordered a Cateye Double wireless computer for the new ride. It was back ordered, so I ordered a Polar CS200 wireless with heart rate monitor. My old h/r monitor died a while back, so when this came up for cheap, I bit. If it works as advertised, it will be a great training aid. One can download all the ride info via the microphone built into my lap top. Polar also offers free training plans via their web site. I'm starting a two week plan for improving hill riding this coming Friday. It's based on heart rate, intensity, cadence, etc. I'm really interested to see how much I can improve.

I'm glad to see Jeff from Biking Duluth is back to work and is able to commute again. I would have to bet hernia surgery is no fun, but riding to a new job is. Envious, I am. Good luck at SMDC, Jeff!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Please Read This Dis-Climber

I am not a climber. Now Doug, of MN Bike Commuter fame, is a climber. He and I set out for a little ride this morning from the start of the Munger Trail, but Doug wanted to go to Carlton via Jay Cook Park and take the Munger Trail back instead. I agreed, after all, I've got my sleek, new carbon fiber wonder bike and it needs to do some climbing. But, it's engine needs some work. Said engine is hauling around an extra 40 lbs of ballast to be effective in the hills of Jay Cook State Park. The engine even stalled out a few times due to spending too much time at red line.

Doug's engine, on the other hand, was hitting on all cylinders and cruised up those same hills ala Alberto Contidor. Him and his Ellis custom bike are a thing of beauty in the hills, a well oil climbing machine. I was sorry I held him back, but he put up with the fat man and actually seemed to enjoy our ride. He's a top notched riding partner and I look forward to dropping some more weight as to try to keep up with him in the hills. But, all that said, today's tour was a very nice way to enjoy this fantastic fall weather we're having. I needed a break from all the projects I have going and so did Doug. Now, back to work.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Busy Busy Busy

The back yard was looking like hell. The old deck off of the back of the house was in rough shape, actually it was partial removed, leaving only a 3 foot wide landing. What a mess. I tore it off completely and built a new 8 X 10 deck. I will add another 12 X 12 section as finances permit. At least now the gas grille is off the ground and the back door usable.

Yesterday, I put in another 30 mile ride on the Munger Trail from Duluth to Carlton and back. I was only planning to go for an hour, but I felt really good, so did my new bike. It was one of those days where you just seem to float along, nothing holds you back, and you can put the power down seemingly effortlessly. The stretch along the Thompson Dam was surreal. I'm not sure how fast I was going ( new computer hasn't arrived yet), but it felt much faster than normal. There was a tail wind, that helped, but part of it is the new bike. So smooth and quiet, not to mention light, it seemed to disappear, leaving nothing but the air rushing by to notice.

In fact the ride went by much faster than normal. Over 10 minutes faster over 30 miles. L asked me if the new bike was worth the wait, and I think that proved it. Yes, definitely worth it.

Next up on the list, install the new storm door in the back entrance. I love progress !!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Test Ride

Today, I thought I would take the new bike out for a longer test ride than the 15 minutes I squeezed in yesterday. About an hour would be a good measure of how comfortable a rig this would be. The geometry is a whole lot different than my old bike, much more aggressive than I thought it would be. I road up the Munger Trail for comparison, since I ride that a lot. There are bone rattling bumpy stretches and long grades, with speeds varying for 13 to 30 mph.

The first thing I noticed is how quiet it rides. The Immortal Force frame seems to soak up the bumps in a way my old ride couldn't. No rattling over bumps, the chain doesn't make that metallic noise when hitting bumps like it did on the old bike. None of the road vibration makes it up to your hands and it's not skittish when hitting bumps you didn't see. It tracks much straighter when you take your hands off the bars, not that I do that much, but I thought I would try.

As far as the components go, the new Ultegra 6700 is fantastic. The cable routing is very clean, and shifting is flawless. The FSA carbon seat post is my favorite, very simple to adjust and doesn't slip once set like the Ritchie post on the old bike would. I've got a FSA post on my MTB and for the money, I can't find anything better. Speaking of Ritchie, the bar and stem are Ritchie PRO aluminum series. The bar is the Biomax model and has very nice hand positions. It helps that the new Ultegra hoods are longer and flatter than the older series, making riding the hoods more pleasurable than ever for me. The FSA SL-K compact crank has a different finish and graffics that last years, and is a little lighter. It spins very smoothly.

Now for the brakes. I had Cane Creek SCR-3 braes on my old bike, and was going to replace them with Ultegras. This one came with SCR-6 brakes and work light years better. I may change to Kool-Stop pads, but for now, these are fine. These are a very new model brake and aren't even shown on Cane Creek's web site, so maybe they listened to all the complaints about their older models and did a little more development on the SCR-6 models.

The Vittoria Rubino Pro tires gave me some grief when mounting. The rear didn't seat right and blew out as I was lubing the chain. I put in another tube and carefully pumped it up first to 20 lbs, then 60, then 110 when it let go. The 3rd tube was fine. A couple of miles into my ride today, the front tried to do the same thing, but I saw it start to bulge, stopped and let the air out. after reseating it and reinflating, it was fine. I rode 30 more miles without incident. More care is required with these tires, I guess. As far as performance, they roll smoother and far faster than the Kendas that I had on the American Classic rims before.

All in all, I very happy with the bike. It exceeds my expectations in every way. The finish is gorgeous, a beautiful pearl white. I've always liked the color, especially on a Cadillac DeVille. It seems so many carbon frames are that black weave, so it's a nice contrast. I know 32 miles isn't that much of a test, but it performed far beyond my hopes.

Friday, September 4, 2009

What I Did

This is my solution to my climbing/gearing problem. Carbon fiber with a compact crank and a 11/28 cassette. Shimano's latest Ultegra 6700 group with it's Dura Ace performance at an affordable price. And new cable routing. The crank is FSA's updated mega-exo carbon 50/34 compact. I swapped my the Fizik seat from my old bike, along with the wheel set. The new one came with Mavic Askium Race wheels which are much heavier than my American Classics. Plus, the American Classics are pretty much bomb proof, still being true after a ton of hammering on our rough, Roubaix style roads. Not even a loose spoke. The Vittoria Rubino Pros seem to be a well liked tire on the various chat sites, so I put them on and put my old Kendas on the Mavics.

These changes got the weight under 16 pounds, not the lightest carbon rig around, but I can't complain. The ride is smooth and responsive, it soaks up bumps corners like it's on rails. Plus, it's very sturdy feeling, not fragile at all. I've got a new Cat-eye wireless computer on the way, and a carbon bottle cage. I am one happy guy !!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What To Do ?

I have a dilemma. This bike serves me well, it's got a nice ride, component group, reliability, and all, so what's the problem ? Hills, that's what. I would like to upgrade to a compact crank and a 11-27 cassette. The FSA SL-K compact runs around $400.00 dollars. An Ultegra 6600 cassette, another $100.00 That would make a more climber friendly machine for sure. So what did I do ? Check in tomorrow for the answer.

BTW, the garage is a work in progress. And no, that Harley is not ours. It's hopefully leaving soon so I can arrange everything and still park a car in side.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fully Operational

The cable guy showed up yesterday and hooked up a high speed wi-fi modem so I have high speed Internet at my desk in the new man cave. I'll be doing some more frequent posting now that the frustrations of my old low speed/low data connection has been banished to the emergency back up role it deserves. AT&T 3G may never get here in our life time.

I've been able to get in some nice rides again, now that I'm settled into a new living situation. My fitness had declined a bit, but it came back nicely. A few visits to a chiropractor to work on my tight IT band has netted some good results, but she said the nasty groin strain I suffered in a fall down some stairs a few months back, is going to take a long time to heal. At my age, that's just how it goes. Putting on my left sock is painful, but otherwise it's no real bother.

The fall riding season is rapidly approaching. Shorter days and warmer clothes, but it's still my favorite time of the year. Fall riding and golfing are just great around here, so are drives up the shore and hiking on our many trails over looking the big lake. I can't wait to do some cross country skiing this winter, since my knee feels good and my fitness level is pretty good. L and I are heading to Las Vegas in mid September with a group of friends for a few days. I'm going to hit Red Rock for a day of mountain biking. Hopefully, I can find some folks to ride with, since I don't know the area all that well. But, with a GPS, I shouldn't get too lost. I'm looking forward to that adventure in a big way !!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Out Of Town Exploring

L and I headed back to Alexandria last weekend to give her daughter a break from her kids and go on a short vacation with friends. Cute kids, but a handful. We spent Friday lounging in the small pool in the back yard, grilled chicken for dinner, and watched a DVD ( Firehouse Dog ) before hitting the sheets. The next morning, I set out a mountain bike ride to explore some trails in the area. I figured a four hours of on and off effort, get some photos, recon the area etc.

Then the skies opened. Heavy rain. Four and a half miles from home base. To add insult to injury, my old buddy the wind reared it's ugly head. Riding into driving rain was not the ride I had planned, but it was what I was dealt. We've all been there, caught in the weather unprepared. No rain gear or shelter nearby, just a light jersey and glasses. Fortunately, I had put the yellow lens' in my PBK glasses to brighten up the overcast conditions. I was cold and soaked when I got back to the ranch. The coffee was hot and fresh, though, and the shower was great.

L took a couple of pictures on me in my mtb kit, much to my annoyance. I've looked like a land whale in most photos, but the ones she took make me look a bit thinner. Scratch that, you would have to be thin to look thinner, so let's say "less fat". That's better.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Misc Stuff

Well, I'm almost all moved in to my new digs. Merging two households is not an easy task, to say the least. I was smart and got rid of a lot of excess clutter in my last incarnation, so the things I have brought are the quality items that you can't get just get rid of. I have high end cook ware, tools, art work, etc. that are a needed part of me and my life style. My new partner and I have spent many hours sorting and re-evaluating what we have versus what we need. It's gone pretty well and you get to really learn a lot about someone by what they value. And question what you yourself really needs and values.

On the riding front, I've gotten some quality mile in lately. A fairly flat 40k time trial netted a 16.1 mph average, my best effort this year, but down from what I could do back in the day. Proper pre-ride and during ride fueling has contributed to better results and I haven't bonked at all. In fact, I seem to finish a two hour ride stronger than the first hour. It seems like back in the days when I was a runner. The better shape I was in, the longer it took to get in the groove. The first mile or so was very "disjointed" and slow, then I would get in that flow where you can just run with little effort. In the last 10k of the 40k ride, I don't even remember breathing. Weird how the body works.

On the diabetes front, my morning glucose readings have been rock solid, between 90 and 115. I'm not sure what to say is the main contributor, but I think much of it has to do with a inner calm that has set over me lately. It's hard to describe, but there doesn't seem to be that stress that comes with marital strife and uncertainty of the future. I have been kicking around the idea of changing careers, which would mean going to school and being a student for the first time since high school. There is money available for people's educational costs like never before, and I may take advantage of some of it. I'm just not sure what I want to be if I ever grow up!!

Monday, July 27, 2009


No posts lately due to lack of time, riding, and changes. My divorce will be final shortly, I've been spending more time in the big city, and am now moving to said big city. Well, it's just back into Duluth proper and not the outskirts where I was hanging out. A real home again. Strange how quickly life can change. For the better at last.

Now, my riding habits will change again. Hills everywhere. I am only a few blocks from the Monday night group ride from a local LBS. I haven't ridden it before, but I'm going to give it a go next week. My fitness is down due to only a couple of rides in the last 2 weeks, so I have to get on the stick. My blood sugar is up a bit due to lack of riding. It will be back in line after a couple of good efforts in the saddle. New routines are in order as soon as the moving gets done and the house reorganized.

It sure is nice to have high speed internet again. Having it is has removed the restricter plate from my computer. I don't have to go to the coffee shop to get things done in a timely manner any more, saving money and time. Being central to all the things I need and do is great. Simple things like that make such a difference. It's like being able to breath again.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I had never ordered anything from Pro Bike Kit before. They always have some sort of special in there e-mail flyer. So, this last week, I bit. I wanted a cheaper pair of sun glasses for spares, and PBK featured there house brand for $19.99 plus shipping. I ordered them a week ago Wednesday, expecting a 2-3 week arrival time. After all, they ship from England. An e-mail the next day announced they had been shipped. The following Tuesday, an air pack arrived for me, and it felt awfully heavy for sun glasses. It turns out they had thrown in a package of High5 energy products at no charge. 7 different gels and drinks for different application, plus an interesting guide for usage. I've never heard of this company before, but I will give them a try since they were free. Most of the time, free is fine with me. Also, the glasses came with 5 differnet lens' for varied lighting conditions. This wasn't mentioned in the ad, either. Plus, PBK didn't charge shipping costs. So for 20 bones, I came away with more than I expected. With that kind of service, I watch their ads more closely. They have a cool jersey, I wonder what else they would throw in if I ordered it ? Nod, Nod, Wink, Wink.......

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

This Is Bonkers !!

Yesterday morning, I had a routine yearly eye exam. My left eye seemed to be "spotty", like some of the info transfer was missing. The doctor found some macular edema and have referred me to the specialist I'd seen in the past for a retinal bleed. This condition causes swelling in the eye which distorts the images transmitted to the optic nerve. Not a serious condition, but another pain in the butt to contend with. Repairable with laser surgery. The hits just keep coming.

Later in the afternoon, after my eyes un-dilated, I took a nice long bike ride from Carlton to Barnum and back. 37 miles on a beautiful 81 degree day. I took my blood glucose level reading when I got to the parking lot at Carlton. It was 119. A little low for the start of a ride, it should be closer to 150. A pack of Cliff blocks was in order, which I consumed, then got my gear together and set off South on the Munger Trail. About a half hour into the ride, I thought I should have a gel to keep the BG up. I was right to do so, because I was on the rivets and only going 11 mph. Then I realized I couldn't feel my legs, my tounge was numb, and I couldn't decide to stop, though I knew I should.

Well, I finally did stop, has a gel, a Cliff bar, and half of a bottle of Hammer Heed. Ten minutes later, good as new. It was a nice ride otherwise on a perfect day. What was even better was finishing the ride stronger than starting it. I've been mixing in some intervals instead of just riding at a time trial pace or just grinding out the miles. The snap is finally coming back along with the endurance. It's about time.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th

It's the 4th of July already. So, happy 4th, one and all.

Have you ever heard of an IT band injury. Well, it's just my luck to have that strange thing occur. You see, my bum left knee started to hurt again, but in a different area. I talked to the ortho doctor, who knew what was up right away after asking a series of rather intelligent questions. Have you changed position on the bike? Yes new cleats and pedals, raised seat height a bit. Is one leg shorter than the other? Yes, the right is 3/4 inch shorter (up to a 1/2 inch is normal) . I had just recently found my heal shims for my everyday shoes and started using them again. Have you been riding longer and harder lately? Yes, I had doubled my rides and had been ramping up the intensity.

OK, rest and special stretches were prescribed for 5 days. The stretches worked well, the pain is pretty much gone. I took a short spin Thursday before golf league, no problem. Yesterday, a 26 mile ride with some intervals mixed in went off without a hitch. This morning, the knee feels fine, in fact I feel great all around. And, my average speed was up compared to the same ride several times this year. Probably due to the intervals, I would think.

Looks like it's going to be nice weather around these parts for the weekend. It's just too bad the local roads turn into a speedway on the holidays. Maybe I'll ride the MungerTrail, even though I'll have to put up with all the knuckle heads walking 3 wide with a dog on a long leash. People just don't think. Also, I picked up Tony Bourdain's "No Reservations", collection 3 to watch. 9 episodes of my favorite series of all time. Tony leads quite the life, one which I truly envy. Maybe once life settles down again, I could do some traveling, No Reservations style. Only, I would bring a bike.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Stimulus Money Needed

Our local roads need a healthy dose of the Obama stimulus money soon. Some of my favorite roads are in as poor of a condition as is our economy. Friday, I headed north on the Lavaque Road to do the 29 mile loop past Bergan lake, then Pike Lake via the Munger Shaw Road. As soon as you cross the Cloquet River heading west, the pavement turns to crap. Broken up, slow, surface worn, generally garbage all the way to Pike Lake. It feels like you're pedaling in quick sand. Stretches of the Martin Road are nearly as bad, As is the Rice Lake Road heading north from the Martin.

It would be nice if the roads got the treatment the Lavaque got a few years back. A rebuild with wide, smooth shoulders makes it perfect for bike riding. The shoulders on the Rice Lake and Martin roads are getting very rough, and the Munger Shaw's are none existent. This makes for some really nasty riding when the traffic is heavy. But, you have to make due with what you have, so this is where I ride. And people wonder why I ride down in the Moose Lake area. Smooth, low traffic roads, slightly better weather, all a short drive away. I might just relocate......

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In A Fog....

What a view of the big lake this morning. 74 and sunny at my house, 58 and dense fog along the North Shore Drive. It's kind of cool riding in the dense fog, in that those variations in the terrain just seem to disappear. Only you legs can tell if you are going up hill or down. And eerily quiet. I actually rode with music today. I keep the volume down and ride the shoulder just to be safe. The shoulder is wide, smooth, and clean up the shore for the most part, but I don't push my luck. My BlackBerry has a shuffle mode in it's media player, so it's a great way to listen to an eclectic verity of tunes.

The fog lifted about a half hour into my ride, and warmed up a bit. This was indeed an almost perfect ride. The wind was very light, as was the traffic. Plenty of other cyclists were enjoying it, too. I saw maybe 15 others out riding, but didn't hook up with any. I passed a few and wasn't passed by anyone.

Speaking of the BlackBerry, this has real turned out to be an almost ideal riding companion. The I-Phone and some of the other smart phones have similar features and capabilities. The GPS, the ride data collection via Allsport GPS service, the media player, Google maps, a decent camera, and some others I haven't explored really make for a nice package. No need to haul around a bunch of separate gadgets when this current generation of phones does them all well.

I'm looking to do 150 miles this week, so I hope the rain holds off. I don't mind the heat and humidity, I just don't like lightning. Being fried on the bike would just absolutely ruin my day.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Week In Review

Well, my week anyway.

I lost another 1.5 lbs. A nice pace for long lasting weight reduction.

On the bike, I rode 126 miles. One of the best weeks in a long time. 85 miles the week before.

Made some progress on the job front. A couple of definite maybes. Better than all the "we're not hiring at this time" I've been hearing.

I took a day off the bike on Thursday. I rode stronger on Friday and Saturday. Coincidence ? I think not.

I sub in a golf league for the first time in years. We pay Thursday nights at Nemadji in Superior. I won my match, that's 4 out of 4 this year. After knocking off the rust from not playing for a couple of years, I'm hitting the ball pretty well. Putting, which used to be my strong suite, is not coming around like my iron play has. I need to practice more, but I have other priorities that take up my time.

I had another strange flat on the road bike. I have a habit of checking my tires for cuts and garbage after each ride and all was OK. The next day, the front tire was flat. There was a fairly large hole on the inner side of the tube. There was no debris or anything to account for the puncture. No loose spokes to poke through, no nothing. It looked almost like a pinch flat, but it would have gone flat immediately if it was. I installed a new rim strip and patched the tube. Knock on wood, it's been fine since.

Lastly, happy Father's Day to all of you dads out there. Take an easy spin with your family if you can. Share the day with your kids. They'll appreciate it, even if they don't say it out loud.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Day At The Races

Today was a perfect day to be absorbed in bike culture. I spent the morning and afternoon at Mont Du Lac for the Dirt Spanker mountain bike race, part of the Mn MTB series. Brendon Moore and Jenna Reinhart won the men and women's expert races respectively. They really fly up and down the slopes, with Jenna having very little competition. Sarah Kylander Johnson isn't back to form after having a baby, but you can bet she will be soon. I had a nice day hanging with Whitey and Corey from the Ski Hut, who put a lot of support into the race. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the course. There was quite a few single speeds in the expert and comp classes. Too steep for these old knees to ride a single speed, I think.

After dinner, I took a nice 18.6 mile ride from my house and back. An 14.9 mile per hour averge is a full 1.6 mile per hour faster than a month ago. Lots of riding, eating right, and weight loss real have really paid off this spring. My blood sugar is staying steady with less effort than ever. I like it !

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Thursday Group Ride

The Continental Ski & Bike starts here at the Coffee Cabin on Rice Lake Road every other Thursday at 6:00 pm. I joined the bunch this last Thursday and had a good time to be sure. Earlier in the day, I gad ridden 41 miles down in the Moose lake/Sturgeon Lake area solo and decided to join this ride at the last minute after dinner. It's a no drop ride and does about a 25 mile loop north of the start on roads I know well, seeing that the ride goes right past my current residence. I started the ride strong at the front, but after about 8 miles, my legs said enough was enough. I was going to cut it short by taking the Schultz road back to the Rice Lake Road, but was talked out of it. My left knee has acted up again and was getting sore, but I eased off the gas and took it easy for the later part of the ride. I would catch up on the downhills and fall back on the climbs. I'm a rouleur, after all. That's how we roll. A nice group of people to ride with and I'll be a regular on this ride all summer.

So what's with the knee? A biff on the MTB, a kind of slow motion twister tenderized it, then a trip on the stairs over bent it. 66 miles in a day kind of put the hurt on it, so I rested up yesterday and skipped Heidi Jo's planned 50 miler today. Finishing a long ride by climbing Lester River Road would have been a slow torture, so I passed. I'm going to ride some flat stuff this afternoon, and next week, too, until the knee quits swelling.

Here's a link to the ride data and map:

Friday, June 5, 2009

It's About Time. Literally.

I've been the walking black cloud lately. I'm tired of it, but there are signs of the opposite trend blowing in on this incessant northwest wind.

Example : The Blackburn computer was in at the local LBS. They installed it a no charge. Turns out, Blackburn computers have a life time warranty. The guys, or might have been a gal, in the Ski Hut's shop did a very PRO looking install. My original was more creative, but I like how the spiral down the shift cable for the cadence pickup wire looks. Very tidy indeed. And, it works better than the old one. I think it didn't work right in the first place.

Example: I say the doctor for my semi-annual check over. Things looked down. As in my weight, blood sugar, and best of all, blood pressure. Dropping 26 lbs over the last couple of months is a big deal on the diabetes front. All the important numbers prove that out.

Example : No flats on the new tubes I installed last week. I road 30 miles this afternoon, some through some nasty gravel and rocks on the Munger Trail from the ATVs crossing it at speed. I detoured through town on the way back south to avoid that mess and had to ride some gravel sections to get back on the trail. The only minor annoyance on an otherwise perfect ride. Even that pesky wind didn't damper my mood.

I know those are just minor victories and I have some major battles on the horizon, but things are looking up!! ( knock on wood )

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Meat Grinder

How do things go in your life, how do they work out? Does everything seem to come easy, fall into place, come off as planned? Oh, sure, dinner is done on time, the car starts, you get to work on time, the payments are on time, the check book balances. You sleep well living a low stress, high success life, at least to the standards you are striving for. You planned your work and worked your plan. Now you get to reap the benefits.

But one day, that little bump in the road turns into a cliff and your ACME parachute won't open. You hit the bottom like Wile E Coyote. It's happened to me a couple of times and I lay awake wondering why. In a marriage, it take two to work the plan. But first, you have to agree to a solid plan. If not, life disappears in the distance like the Road Runner after evading one of those ACME traps. That's what happened to me. A lot of people, pretty much everyone I know, plus several fellow bloggers I never met, ask how I handling this hand off from Job.

Well, my head is in a good place, I have supportive friends, and my bikes. Nothing has ever come easy to me, except for the jobs I have had. I think sometimes I made them look so easy due to being very efficient and working a tight plan. I'm a work starter, not harder type of guy. That said,I can grind when it's called for. But not like the guy pictured above.

I was watching the DVD of this year's Criterium International. Jens won again for the 5th time. He summed up his style in one of the short, personal head shot interviews the pepper though out the broadcast. I went something like this:
When I win races, I have to put everybody, including myself, through the meat grinder. Everybody has to, like, suffer, suffer, suffer till they all had enough. That's how I win my races. I just can't jump away in the final kilo and say "thanks for coming".
The guy knows his strengths and how to use them. We can all learn a lot from his racing style and apply it to our lives. Maximize your gains, limit your losses. WWJC. What would Jens Do?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I've never had back pain in my life. Though I've done plenty of hard, manual labor, lifted very heavy things incorrectly, played tough sports, and had many nasty crashes and accidents, I had never hurt my back. This being said, of course I finally did it. This past Saturday, I hauled a very heavy tube-type television out of the basement and back to my estranged wife's house. Awkwardly lifting and carrying this outdated behemoth up a steep set of stairs, I felt it happen. That twinge of pain I had never had before. But, I didn't stop because I couldn't at that point. Out the door, into the van, and off to deliver it. Then out of the van, into her house, and set it down on the living room floor. I figured the pain would go away, but that was not to be. I rested the last couple of days, hoping it would just go away. It didn't.

Yesterday, I was going to go for a quick ride around the block. My block is about 12 miles. I suited up and tried to clip in. The twinges in my lower back dashed my plans. I figured a little more rest may help. This morning, nothing changed. Like Einstein alluded to, doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition on insanity. What to do ? I figured a good core workout might help. But would it ?

Yes it did. After some back stretch, I did a couple of sets of long, slow crunches, then some bridges, slow twisting crunches and then my regular whole body routine. I feel like a new man. I've been neglecting the exercise ball in favor of the bike, but this back pain forced me to revisit this vital component of my health routine. I won't let it happen again. It makes me feel so good after a short 30 minutes of work. Get one, there cheap and so effective, it's a no brainer.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Dentist

That's Joe the Cat helping with the laundry this morning. I think he does more damage than good, but he works cheap.

This morning, it was off to the dentist for some routine cleaning and a check over. I knew I needed to have some root planing done, along with a crown, but that will be done in 5 stages, starting this Wednesday. I just can't wait for all that fun to begin. The good news is that nothing has gotten any worse than a year and a half ago. The lovely Laura the hygienist said my gums look great, the pockets hadn't gotten any worse, in fact better on the right lower side. A testimony to eating better, brushing, and flossing more diligently, but mostly due to better blood glucose control. She commented that there was very little blood and that nasty smell associated with diabetic patients having their teeth cleaned. Next Holly gets to do her root planing thing on me. That's cleaning below the gum line and then treating with antibiotics. This will be done in four phases, worst to best. Will the fun never end? I had to ask Dr. Todd if he rode a Cervelo, but he didn't get the joke.

This weekend, the brakes on my van went to metal, I couldn't get the scooter to run right, my cell phone software smoked, my Backburn bike computer died ( no, a new battery didn't fix it ), and my first flat on the bike since I started riding again. That was weird, since it went flat overnight after a forty plus mile ride. To make matters worse, the small hole in the side of the tube would not seal after 2 different patch jobs. And I've patched a zillion tires in my time. So, I threw in a new tube, but the stem was too short to air up. I'm sure glad I wasn't riding when it went flat. Funny thing is, there was nothing in the tire, no mark, or anything. Strange.

At least the cell phone was under warranty. The folks at Blackberry sent a new one priority mail, so it should be here tomorrow. The bike computer wasn't, so I'll have to pony up for a new one. I put new front pads on the van, lifetime warranty ceramic top end ones at that. They sure have gotten inexpensive lately. The same pads four years ago were over a hundred dollars a set. Now they were twenty five dollars with my professional discount. The scooter, I'm not going to worry about at this time. Not my dog anymore.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Sign Sez It All

There I was, riding along minding my own business, when it struck. Legs felt like concrete, my tongue felt fuzzy, no power too the pedals, and I didn't really know where I was. I was on the Last Train To Bonksville. But there was no one to meet me at the station. Now, I just said I was minding my own business, but I clearly wasn't. Being diabetic, the bonk, or hunger knock, is to be avoided at all costs. But, I wasn't paying attention.
To make a short story long, let's start at the beginning. Thursday morning, I planned a 40 mile ride down highway 61 from Barnum on South. My new pedals were begging for some real miles to real prove they were worth the money. And, speaking of money, the guys at the Ski Hut called and said the new nose pieces came in for my Tifosi sun glasses. The are 4 years old and the stem rubber had fallen apart, which Tifosi replaced free of charge. Then, one of the nose pads had fallen of. Again, a gratis repair. Top notch service from both parties. While I was there, I inquired about bib shorts. It just so happens that their Specialized line is on sale for 20% off. This brought the Pro bibs down about 30 bucks. That was my price point, so I got them. Now, I have been crushing the Pearl Izumi Attack shorts for the last few years and had good luck with them. The Specialized Pro line has a quite different chamois than the Attack line has, thicker and more defined is all I can say. These too, wanted a test ride to see if they were worth the scratch I doled out. Aside note: I think that the Specialized "S" logo is one of the coolest brand connotations in the world. But that's just me.
Back to the ride. 78f and sunny, wind from the west. Not a bad day to ride at all. Traffic was light, which was nice, because the side wind was trying to push me into the road and kind of backwards. I was glad I started into this wind, as on the turn around, I would be able to fly back.
As Lee Corso would say, "not so fast my wind hating friend" At mile 25, the wind changed, coming out of the north west. It would be a 15 mile grind back to the start of the ride. That's when it hit me, I was weakening and hadn't eaten anything yet. Duh! I pulled over and had a Honey Stinger gel, along with some Hammer Heed. I looked over at the Bonk sign and thought how ironic it was to be sitting there trying to recover. I've ridden by that sign many time and had never even thought about it. Strange.
After about 10 minutes, I got back on the bike and road back, having another gel on the way. My mind registered and filed this ride under lesson learned. You see, these days hunger and thirst doesn't register at the time they happen. I can go most of a day without food and not be hungry. The endocrinologist I see says it may be due to neuropathic nerve damage interrupting the normal flow of information to the brain. That does make sense, since many diabetics have mild heart attacks and don't even know it. So from now on, I'll set my watch alarm to 45 minutes during rides to remind me to eat and drink.
As far as the shorts and pedals, high marks for both. The fit and padding are perfect on the Pros, and no hot spots on the bottoms of my feet after 40 miles with the new pedals. But, I do lay awake at night with the vision of that Bonk sign in my head!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Sorry about the lack of posts lately. I've been doing a big project that has taken all my available time. Well, almost all of it. I had planned on being done yesterday, but the fickle finger of fate had other ideas. Old plaster house hold many surprises when you open them up. Enough said.

I did get an hour of saddle time in a couple of days ago. The new Shimano SPD-SL pedals I installed on the road bike begged to be tested. I've been riding road SPD pedals up to now, but were a pain to clip into, being such a small cleat to catch a one sided clip surface. Plus, they never felt secure. Don't get me wrong, SPD is a great system on a mountain bike or touring bike with two sided clip-in, what with being easy get in and out, and walk-ability with the recessed cleat. But SPD-SL with the wide platform feel much better in that it spreads the pressure surface out and the same wideness makes it easier to catch the cleat on the clip in. I like the feel on the foot a lot, especially with my big feet. That positive click in sound is cool, too. I was looking at the Speedplay line-up, but if you walk in sand or gravel, you could get that in the cleat, which is also the clip-in mechanism. So, I went with the Shimano and am very happy.

On the health front, my knee is holding up well, considering I'm up and down stairs all day, up ladders, down on the floor etc. The very things it didn't like aren't bothering it much. Could be the cycling and weight loss (20+ lbs) have made a big difference. The weight loss plus diet changes have also contributed to improved blood sugar control. I've had to back off on the insulin quite a bit with meals, or I go low. Eventually, I want to get off insulin all together. That would be a major improvement in my life style, not having to haul a pen and needles everywhere I go. It doesn't seem like a big deal until you have to do it. This disease is on your mind 24/7, and that is the worse thing. It lives in your mind rent free. Not fair, but what in life is?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What The !!

Carbon, 28 gram bottle cage at Walmart for under $30.00. Part of Bell's platinum series. Bolt one of those on your Magna. You know, you have to save weight somewhere!

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Tale Of Two Rides

This last Sunday, I met up with Jeff, Doug, Dave, and Dave T. It was Dave T's ride, starting at Starvin' Marvins and heading up Hwy 2 to the Canosia Road, then north. I was a mess the first half of the ride, which was mostly uphill. Into a head wind. Need I say more? I suffered untill we hit Twig, where the ride went east, and featured a nice tail wind. Just what my dead legs needed. I felt great all the way around Pike Lake and back to the start point. 22.8 miles at a 13.2 mph average. Not tip top by any means. But, Doug was riding his gorgeous, classy, new Ellis custom frame. The paint and details are very well done. He said it was a super smooth, comfortable ride. He just seemed to be floating along on his dream machine. These guys were great to ride with and I look forward to another meet up with them.

Today, I took a solo 40 mile cruise on the Munger Trail. I started at Barnum and headed south 20 miles, turning around a little past Rutledge. Saw some deer, enjoyed the near 70 degree weather and loved the lack of wind. Since I felt strong, I mixed in some intervals which I have been neglecting lately. I averaged 14.4 mph for 40 miles. That's more like it. Tomorrow, some rest and core work. Then back to it. I have to stay on track to loose more weight. I hate being slow on hills and holding up the group.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Against The Wind

30 mile in 2 hours and 14 minutes. The last 12 miles grinding it out at 8-15 miles per hour. The first part of today's ride featured a top speed of 42 miles per hour. Yes, you guessed it : my nemesis, THE WIND!!

42 degrees, winds to 30+, not the ideal riding conditions. But, if fitness and blood sugar controls are your goals, then kit up and get going. I've had to cut back on the insulin due to dropping weight and adding fitness. Example: This morning's reading when I got up was 112. Toast and scrambled eggs with the boys at 6:30am, used 8 units of insulin. 2 hours later, pre-ride, 118. Perfect. After ride including cool down, 80. Just what it should be. And, for me at least, the harder the effort, the longer the effects last.

I really had planned an hour and a half of zone 2, fat burning spinning. Mother nature had other plans. The quote Mr. T in one of the Rocky movies when asked for a prediction on the fight "Pain". You just can't spin into that 25-35 mph wind. You just sit back and make like Stuart O'Grady and Jens Voight when they're trying to pace Cadel Evans to the front. Mash, apply the power, no dancing on the pedals. And riding alone makes it worse, what with no one to share pulls with.

On the flip side of this coin, is the fact you really appreciate the warm, calm days when riding just seems effortless, like you always have a slight tail wind. Plus, it builds strength and character, that you didn't turn around and head back home. Gutting it out just seems to make you a better person in the long run.

I haven't been riding with head phone lately, no music or pod casts, just me and my thoughts. I usual don't on the road, just on the bike trails. That's just me, self preservation when the traffic is so heavy around here. I've got a lot of things to sort out, such as my possible divorce, possible relocation for a job, a permanent home, relationships, and so on. When everything you thought was real, wasn't, when it looks like your life has been dashed on the rocks, you've got plenty to occupy your mind. You can turn all that energy and time into something positive. And the bike gives me just that.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Holy Leaping Technology !!

The five speed cluster, the standard for many a year, is now up to eleven speeds. Why? Because it can be done. Steel, aluminum, titanium, now carbon, or a mix, for frames. I suppose I should mention bamboo. Gilligan should have patented some of his bamboo technology. He'd be rich, if only he could get off the island.

Why bring this up? Well, it's really hit me lately, how things get better in such a short period of time. Product developers seem to have it in over drive to improve everything we use. Take home electronics for example. You barely get the new flat screen TV out of the box, and it's replacement on the shelf at the store is better. 480, 720, 1080 in all it's different formats, all snuffed out the previous incarnation.

I just got a new, latest and greatest (for it's price) laptop, and I'm sure in a couple of months one will be able to get more bang for the buck for it's replacement. 320 gig hard drive, 3 gigs of ram will be 500/6 for the same money. One draw back was I had to buy a new printer. I had a barely 3 year old HP all in one photo series printer. We paid nearly $300.00 for it. It was the best consumer model at the time. But, just my luck, it wouldn't work with Windows Vista. Today, I picked up another HP with similar specs for $64.00 including tax. It runs better software, is more ink efficient, and the print quality is the same at the same speed. Three years, a fifth of the price. Wow.

So why can't our major drug companies come up with improved diabetes drugs at an advanced rate? Insulin has improved very slowly since it's introduction as a diabetes treatment for dogs. Sure, delivery systems and dosage unit understandings are much better. Pens and pumps make it much easier and more accurate to dose, but how about a breakthrough that would make all of that obsolete? I know that researchers feel the big new thing is just around the corner, but at this stage of the game, it seems like time is moving backward. If this was the bicycle, we would still be getting off the change move the chain to another sprocket by hand !!

Oh, and while I'm on the subject of improvement, will AT&T please turn on the 3G network for these parts. This dial up speed wireless I'm paying a premium price for is killin' me, for crying out loud. Thank you.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Exploring My Back Yard

I set out this morning for a short, hour or so ride to do a little exploring on some of the trails into the local woodsy areas. What I found was a great trail that runs right behind the place I'm staying. The Canosia Wildlife Management area has a trail running though it from the end of the Lismore Road, off the Lavaque, to the north end of the Ugstad road. It make a nice thirteen mile loop. Moose, deer, fox, beaver, and plenty of small game and birds populate the area. It was wet to the point of having to carry the bike in spots, but the mixed surface ride was worth it. Beaver dam, moose tracks, steep climbs, mud, water - you name it. When it dries a little more, it will be a gas to ride.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Too Much Monkey Business

That black cloud hovered over this frustrated blogger the last few days. Case in point - I've been using the Wi-Fi at various coffee establishments lately, much to the detriment of my wallet. Lattes aren't cheap and neither is gas. Worse, the other day I was rummaging in my lap top case for something and forgot to zip it back up. So, when I pulled the case out of my car, the computer slid out onto the ground. Not a hard hit, no marks or anything. I fired it up and it worked fine. Until last week. It wouldn't do anything, no power light, no sound. A fruitless trip to a couple of computer shops all netted the same answer. The power supply is fried. The new one came in this morning. Pulled her in, no juice. I took a test light to the old one and it was fine. I took to case off the computer, only to find a crack and short in the mother board. She's toast.

I spent part of today looking at various new ones and settled on a HP G60-235DX running a Pentium Duo-Core at 4200. Window Vista Premium OS. Sure, a Mac would have been nice, but three times the money. I stopped at the soon to be defunct Coffee Cabin and used their Wi-Fi to download AVG anti-virus and Firefox, both of which I've had excellent luck using. The Norton anti-virus got un-installed at the same time. Some computer techs I've talked to had told me that they were having nothing but problems with the Norton 2009 version. Well, I'm now back in business with a very fast and capable machine.

I sure wish I was as fast and capable on the bike. But, I am making progress at a pretty good clip. Three inches off the waist, fourteen pounds lost, and an almost two mile per hour increase in the 28.9 mile loop I've been riding lately. The last three days, though, the wind has been brutal, so much so riding into the wind has been almost dangerous. My eyes water so bad and I can't hear traffic at all. This has been no fun and I've cut the rides short, instead working on core and leg strength. It's been a nice break for a change. Tomorrow is a planned 40 miler on the Munger Trail.

As far as the diabetes goes, my blood sugar has been great, thanks to losing some gut and lot's of miles in the saddle. Eating the best I have in years hasn't hurt either. Being in total control of what I stuff in the old pie hole is a major improvement. No fast food, no processed garbage, very little alcohol to boot. A guy could get healthy living this way. Hmmm.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Effective Exercise

As I reported in my last post, I installed the Allsport GPS training program in my Black Berry. One thing it has is a calories used log as part of the program. Many people think they can get into shape by walking. Me, it just doesn't seem to do anything. Maybe I'm just not a fast walker. That could be because I'm not really interested in walking much. Hey, I have bikes. Much more efficient than walking to me.

My point? Last week, I walked 2.111 miles in 44:00 and burned 310 calories. Yesterday, I took a semi-hilly ride around the Fish Lake area at a moderate pace on my MTB,what I call the North Loop ride. It was 12.721 mile in 1:08:47 for a 11 mph average. Calories spent? 1147. quite a difference, I'd say. And I enjoyed much more country side than a walk of similar time. Don't get me wrong, walking is great for a lot of people, just not me. Plus, the blood sugar lowering effect seems to last so much longer after riding than walking.

As you can see, the ice is still covering some of the inland lakes. I'm surprised that there was nobody ice fishing. Just kidding. But, I have seen it in the past.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Long Rider

Yesterday afternoon as I was heading up the Rice Lake road, I spotted this gentleman churning up a grade pulling a trailer. I figured he was a out of towner traveling though, but that was the case. Paul Halvorson of Duluth's Hunter's park neighborhood, was actually out on a training ride. He was packing what he would be pulling on a long trip from Washington state to Vermont.

Paul is doing the ride to benefit the Disabled American Veteran's, a privately funded foundation. He's taking a train to the west coast and pedaling east around May 10th. That's a big chunk of country to take on and we wish him well.

Paul will be riding a Gary Fisher Tiburon bike that he has fitted for his purpose. He added a front disc brake for better stopping in the mountains, SPD pedals, a trip computer, Ergon grips/bar ends, and fenders. He seems very happy with the set up and is riding alot to get ready for his epic ride.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Wanderer

In the last six months, I've lost my job, my wife and family, my home, and probably some self esteem, too. The result of all this is that I'm now kind of a wanderer. No set purpose to the day, nothing urgent to get to, no real direction. So, I pack up the lap top and head for the various free internet connections, have some coffee, see what's going on in the world. Total freedom can make a guy complacent, if you're not careful. I've done a few bike rides I had planned, but never did.

I also signed up for the Allsport GPS ride tracking system. I tracks where you went, speed, elevation, calories expended, and charts it all. For six bucks a month, I think it's a good investment. If you have a data plan and compatible phone, it's a fun tool or toy, depending on your point of view. I'll see if I can post the ride data in the near future. It will also track walks, MTB rides, trail runs, road runs, and skiing. Pretty much anything you do actively, it can handle. Yes, I'm a tech geek. I just wish I had a bigger budget.

On the diabetes front, I'm holding my own. The stress induced weight gain has stopped and is reversing itself. My daily glucose readings are up a bit, but not alarmingly so. Since I have my own stove and fridge in the basement I currently reside in, I have pretty good control of what I stuff in my pie hole. Lean and green are much easier to stick to when you don't have several people with bad eating habits around. But I do miss my cats.

Monday, April 6, 2009


It's that time of year, no quite winter, not really spring. I plan on getting out for a ride this afternoon, but the way things are going lately, one can never be sure. I've move out of my former home and away from that life. It feels like I've gone to my own little Alba for committing no crime. Confusing, befuddling, bewildering, and so on and so forth.

At my old digs, I had to ride up hill both ways when going out to ride. I've always liked to have a nice twenty minute warm up spin before any hard effort. But, being a Clydesdale, climbing is always an effort. Where I live now, I can ride several miles before I hit any sort of grade. Just like the old days. That's very motivating to me. It's also out in the country, where most of us prefer to ride. And the roads are in pretty good shape.

I ordered a plug in wireless adapter for my lap top, which will be here in a couple of days. That will make it possible to write a little more often. I've been following things on my Black Berry, but it's tough to do a whole lot on a pda.

Stijn Devolder won Flanders this weekend, his second win in that race in a row. Seems the field marked Tom Boonen again, allowing his team mates to control the race with various breaks, which worked in Quick Step's favor again this year. My fave, Fabian Cancellera, broke his chain while applying massive power to the pedals. He hasn't had a lot of good luck this early season.

The eagles are out in force this spring, feasting on deer carcass' along the roads. The snow melt has exposed plenty of bodies along the Lavaque Road up toward Fish Lake. They have been hard to get pictures of, but I think I can get close on my bike. As in the photo I posted, they get away pretty quickly if you stop your auto, but a bike can be stealthy. Eagle are just so cool to watch.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Other Shoe

Yes, the other shoe has dropped. Or, kicked me in the butt. I've been through a lot of crap lately, you know, job loss, bad knee, the on going diabetes battle, financial stress, but this is the worst of all. My wife of barely three years wants a divorce. She's not happy and says she doesn't love me any more. She wants to move on. So be it. I'm moving out on the first of the month. I'll move into my parent's basement until I can find a decent place. At least I'm not living in a van down by the river.

If it's some consolation, I'm not the only one around this is happening to. I stopped at the bank to close my part of our accounts and the bank officer said the economy has caused plenty of these types of thing happen. Financial stress just finishes off marriages quicker than most any cause now. At least we weren't fighting, which is good for her kid's sake. We are parting civilly and I will take the high road and not throw too many stones. It's a tough row to hoe, but I've been through it before and came out stronger. Maybe this time a bit wiser.

On the bright side, I'll have more time to train....

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I had to go to Cloquet Tuesday for a job look-see. Fix some dry wall, paint, change some fixtures etc. for a friend of a friend. About three days work, not bad for the pay day. I took my mtb along and planned on riding the Munger Trail south from Carlton. Turning onto the trail from the Carlton rest stop, I ran into dirt. Dirt with rocks on both sides of the bridge. Who and why did they haul in this crap? I'm glad I didn't have the road bike, but it was fine on the mtb. After this ended, it was bare pavement, then hard packed snow and ice, with the occasional soft, slushy wheel snagger mixed in. I road about five miles and turned back. With the 50 degree weather, I figured the river rapids would be raging, so I headed back towards Duluth. As you can see, not much rapids, more ice. I guess it was a bit early to expect the trail to be clear. Probably another two weeks.

Being diabetic and a food fanatic, I'm always o the look out for recipes that agree with my system, ie don't spike my blood sugar. I always DVR Alton Brown on the Food channel, and yesterday, he had a whole wheat waffle recipe. I whipped up a batch this morning for me and the kids, and I think they were the best I've made at home. The kids didn't even realize they were whole wheat. They'd be better if I had a better waffle iron as mine is a dual purpose waffle iron/mini-griddle that's about 20 years old. Alton says round is a better type of iron, and I think he's right. Mine doesn't brown the outer edges very well. I'll have to look around for a better one that will fit the budget.

Today, I'm going to do some stretching and strength work on the ball, plus an hour of hill repeats this afternoon. The core work I did this winter has sure paid off, no back, shoulder, anything type of discomfort, even after a couple of hours. Hitting it a couple of times a week during the season should keep me there, I hope.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sunny and 52

Yes, sunny and 52. A perfect day for a spring ride. After washing the van, a trip to Sam's Club, and various other duties, I set out for a quick spin. Two hours later, I swung back in the driveway. Where did the time go? Hill repeats. Standing sprints. Intervals. Why? Well, I wanted to see how my knee would hold up. It did OK, a little tender, but serviceable. Plus, I really needed to see where my fitness level is. Not bad, considering how much mass I am hauling around. Next will be more of the same, plus some steady zone 2, three hour + efforts, you know, to burn the fat.

Funny, the eco-stimulus package tricked down quickly to help the unemployment payments. An additional $25.00 has been added weekly. Now I've got some real buying power!

I've been contacted by a couple of local companies after seeing my resume on line. Something may come of these leads. I sure miss working, but how would all the stuff I do daily get done? The cats and dogs would be lost without me.

Our daughter is back in school and off the lovenox injections. She'll be on coumadin for @ 6 months, then do a study to see what the actual case of the blood clots is. Let's hope it isn't naturally occurring, because if it is, she'll be on the coumadin possibly for life. That would suck. She doesn't need or deserve more challenges at her age.

Luis Leon Sanchez won Paris-Nice Sunday, supposedly due to Alberto Contador's bonking and not tracking Sanchez. This according to Lance Armstrong, Contador's team mate. Look Lance, the spot light does NOT have to be shining on you all the time. That said, I'm glad Armstrong has come back to racing. We need more big time talent to keep the press interested, which in turn keeps the sponsorship money interested. And his cancer fighting leadership earns him a pass in my book. But don't expose a team mate as being not to bright. The egos at the top are sometimes fragile. Besides, shouldn't someone in the team car have told Alberto what was up and reminded him to eat? It is a TEAM effort, after all.

Jens Voigt. Enough said.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Good Things

The front page of yesterday's paper featured a picture of our daughter and the nice young man that helped her when she couldn't breathe at school last weak. Lots of kid just walked by as she was gasping for air, but the point guard on the basketball team, Carl Bowman, led the offense to get her help. The nurses evaluated the situation, got an ambulance, which rushed her to the hospital. Numerous blood clots were found in her lungs, and treatment has been successful to this point. Carl, who didn't know our daughter prior to this , even came to the hospital to see how she was doing. This kid is pure class and all heart. He plans on being a special ed teacher, and I fell he will be a great one. We need more people like Carl in this world. We really do.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in water, it looks like winter is going to smack us with another storm. I'll have to get a short ride in today, since I have a long list of things to take care of.

Looks like my boy Fabian Cancellara is going to be laid up for the spring classic campaign due to injuries from a training ride fall. happens to the best of us. I guess I'll be pulling for Gerts Stegman and Stuart O'Grady in the mean time. Paris-Nice is underway, so the real fun is just starting.