Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The best things in life are silly. (Scott Adams)

Back at the beginning of summer, I began taking pictures of some of the fountains we spotted while riding our bikes. The series even got a fanciful name: The Search for the Fountain of Youth.

It turned out there are a lot of fountains out there. Way more than I remembered seeing before starting this series of photos.

I decided I wanted them all in one place, like a little gallery. One blog post just for the ones from this summer. So here (tah-dah!) is the 2017 series, presented in reverse order from the last one taken at end of August, then going backwards to the beginning of May.


Key Biscayne
Hollywood (Diplomat Resort)
Palatka (Putnam County, St. Johns River Park)
Brickell (Miami, traffic circle fountain)
Coral Gables
Jupiter
Sewalls Point (gated community entrance)
Miami (Metrorail station)
Mt. Airy, North Carolina
Brickell (Miami traffic circle)
Key Biscayne (gated community entrance)
Miami (Metrorail station)
Bonita Springs
Miami 
Miami
Key Biscayne (Village Green Park)



I'm thinking this could be a regular summar thing. Silly and fun.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

When nothing is going right, go left. (Anonymous)

We couldn't ride our bikes all week. It rained. When it wasn't raining, we had workmen at our place. Yeah, we had the gym, yoga, and stuff like that. But, darn it, we need our bike rides to keep grumpiness and insanity at bay.

I'm working on something new. Al is helping me with pacing. While I have tenacity, I lack focus when I'm riding. I should just wear a jersey that says Easily Distracted

Using my power meter info, I simply have to stay in my target power zone. Which is easy for those who don't daydream, or get interested in a conversation, or see a charming garden, or, well, you get the idea. As I said, easily distracted. But Al is patient and I have tenacity, so we are making progress.

Learning to be good with pacing is a very useful skill. When it is just Al, pacing is the skill that will get me to the end of the ride regardless of the length of the ride, the terrain, or the weather conditions. (It becomes even more useful when, in a few weeks, we start doing more long day-after-day rides again.) When the ride is with friends, pacing lets me adjust my pace to make certain everyone on the ride stays together. Stronger riders do this for me all the time. I need to learn the skill so I can pay back the courtesy when the opportunity arises. 

Today the rain chances were low. Time for a bike ride. I might even show a little is focus.

(Don't snicker. It could happen.)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Believe you can and you're halfway there. (Theodore Roosevelt)


Today (August 8) is, on average, the hottest day of the summer in Miami. Doing anything physical outside in the heat and humidity saps your energy and leaves you seeking a quiet spot for a nap.

Some people hide in air conditioning. Some jump in their swimming pool. We're like most of our bikey friends. We just go out and ride our bikes. But Al and I have some hot weather adaptations that make riding in heat and humidity more enjoyable for us.

  1. We don't hesitate to slow down a bit. Instead of using speed as a guide, we use effort. Use your power meter if you have one. It makes it easy to be consistent on rides regardless of conditions.
  2. Our Miami riding friends taught us a wonderful hot weather treat: buying a bag of ice part-way through a long ride. While ice won't last long in the heat, filling water bottles with ice mid-ride is truly wonderful. I have no idea if it actually cools down the core of your body, but, trust me, it sure feels like it does. Talk about cheap thrills.
  3. We take breaks in the shade. Someone once told me that being in full sun feels 15 degrees hotter than standing in the shade. I believe it. Breaks in the shade can be the difference between a successful hot weather ride and the ugly experience of bonking from the heat.
  4. We monitor the amount of fluids we are drinking. We don't skimp. Our "summer mix" for our water bottles starts with powdered Gatorade, adds water, a dash of salt, and coffee. The coffee is mainly for flavor, but the caffeine is always nice, too. Also, we carry electrolyte tablets so we can fill up bottles with plain water when Gatorade isn't available.
  5. Last, but not least, we laugh a lot. About anything and everything. Trust me, it helps. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

In times like these it is good to remember that there have always been times like these. (Paul Harvey)

I figured out at an early age that excitement and thrills, like ice cream and cake, are fun in small doses. Large doses were unpleasant.

I spend a lot of time online. It keeps me in touch with family and friends in far away places. Usually I enjoy it. However, this summer I've discovered myself suffering from an overload of drama caused by the constant and unending churning of news and politics. It's everywhere. Even a "safe" group that normally does nothing more dramatic than share their favorite dessert recipes and adorable pictures of the family children and pets, can, out of the blue, start a thread about the political soap opera of the day. There is simply no safe haven.

Al and I are trying to make some changes to our little home. Nothing exciting, but changes which involve shopping, workmen, noise, and messes. We are trying to make these changes while continuing our regular and very pleasant little life. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. We've done this before. Many times before. In many homes, in other places. We understand the ebb and flow of the disruption to our lives that it causes.

So four times a week we roll our bicycles to the elevator, wave to the lobby staff as we leave our building, and pedal off for a long bike ride. It's good to have one constant in life that satisfies and leaves you feeling happy and content.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. (Dave Barry)

Status report:

It has been six months since I started back riding after a serious accident. Things are going well. And as anyone who has come back after an accident or surgery knows, the mental things are more challenging than the physical ones.

In terms of cycling performance, I'm right on track. I was expecting my comeback to take a full year, and that estimate looks to be spot on.

Here's the deal. You ride a lot. You get better. You work at keeping those gains while you ride more and wait for some stubborn areas to catch up. Then one day you go out, one of the stubborn areas gets a tiny bit better, and wow! with seemingly no effort, you make a big jump forward in performance.

Then you ride more and wait for the next jump forward to happen.

I've talked to a bunch of people who have gone through this same thing. They all agree: the mental part is the hard part. You get impatient. You get stupid and think you'll never get any better. That's when you need to remember: You only lose if you quit.

Actually, it's hard to complain when I get to ride with Al and great friends, on a great bike, and get to ride pretty much anywhere and as much as I want. All I have to do is follow our house rules.

And our house rules are simple:
  • No whining, no bitching, no belly-aching, no quitting. 
  • You ride; I ride.
  • Do what you can; do your best. 
  • ENJOY THE RIDE.
Just get up and dance...

Friday, June 23, 2017

Cleanliness becomes more important when godliness is unlikely. (P. J. O'Rourke)

It is summer in Miami. Hot and humid. Al and I have a system for summer cycling here: start rides early, drink lots of fluids with added electrolytes, and take a lot of breaks in the shade.

There is something else, something very important: Laundry. If you ride a lot of miles in the summer heat and don't want to become a smelly outcast, you need to follow some simple but important laundry rules.

In Miami's summer weather, you need to step up your game for cycling wear laundry techniques. Cycling clothing is made of fabrics with lots of elastic polyurethane fiber (Lycra). These fabrics handle water differently than other fabrics. Products like laundry detergent or fabric softener can remain in the fabric after washing. These residues provide a cozy home for microbes. Sweat and microbes can quickly give your favorite kit a pungent, rank smell that is not easy to get out.

Here are the laundry rules for cycling clothing we've put together after doing some research and home testing:
  • Right after your ride, remove the sweaty cycling gear from your sweaty body. Do NOT put it into the hamper. Do NOT put it in a pile on the floor. Immediately put it into a washing machine. Use the gentle fabric and cold water settings.
  • Go easy on the laundry detergent. It seems counter intuitive, but use less detergent than recommended for regular clothes.
  • NEVER use fabric softener. NEVER. It forms a residue, and stuff starts to grow in the residue. (We're talking ugly, unpleasant things here. Science experiment things.)
  • If you feel compelled to go beyond a simple wash with laundry detergent, add a dash of baking soda, lemon juice, or white vinegar to the wash. (I personally have not found this to be helpful, but it didn't hurt anything and made me feel virtuous.)
  • Always hang dry cycling clothing. Never dry them in a clothes dryer. We live in a high rise, so I hang our gear up in our bathroom. 
  • Hang dry cycling wear outside in the sunshine if you can. In my experience, it is the most effective way to keep cycling clothes smelling good. 
There is always the hand wash vs. machine wash debate as well. I personally haven't voluntarily hand washed anything since Ronald Reagan was president, but if you want to, more power to you. The important thing is that you wash cycling clothes immediately, wash them thoroughly, and make sure there is no residue (laundry detergent or the like) in them when they are hung up to dry.

So there you have it. Now go out and enjoy those hot and sweaty summer bike rides.




Friday, June 16, 2017

Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things. (Frank A. Clark)

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a study in climbs and descents. The road tips up and down; it is virtually never flat.

We needed a plan for our bike rides here. We wanted to ride six consecutive days. Normally we decide how far to ride each day. On the Blue Ridge Parkway we decided to focus on how much climbing to do each day. We decided on daily rides with between 2000 to 2600 feet of climbing. We weren't out to meet any big personal goals. We just wanted a scenic, fun ride every day. No losing time to rest days. No overworked muscles.

We quickly slipped into our regular climbing riding style. We each found our own climbing rhythm and pace. On every climb Al quickly disappeared from my view as he pedaled ahead of me down the road. Which wasn't a problem since I knew he'd be waiting for me somewhere ahead.

We stopped a lot, sometimes for pictures, sometimes just to enjoy a cascade of water or a stunning view. Overlooks are a must as are creeks, bridges, and big displays of blooming anything. Why visit and ride an area if you don't take the time to see it?

We did two rides twice. My favorite I called the Almost Three Gap ride. The total climbing was about 2600 feet with about three quarters of the climbing being on the first half of the ride. Along the route we passed three signs for different gaps, the last being a sign that announced the gap ahead. (We didn't go all the way to that gap as we turned around at a scenic picnic area just short of it. Hence the Almost Three Gap ride.) The first half of the ride was a never-ending 7-8 percent grade climb, mile after mile, with false flats of 4-5 percent grades sprinkled along the way. (Find your rhythm, chugga-chugga-chugga.) The way back? An awesome series of long, fast descents. (Wheeeeee!!!) And the scenery? Hazy mountain vistas, heavily forested mountain slopes, wildflowers, mountain laurel, rock walls, split rail fences, and narrow strips of high meadow.

Riding a bicycle on the Blue Ridge Parkway reminds you of a simple life lesson. Every big climb is actually a series of smaller climbs. Achievable climbs.

Baby steps.