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.