Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Need A Road That Goes On and On

Bilbo was a cute character in The Hobbit, but a bit of a bore in The Lord of the Rings. Well, at least he didn’t bring the plot to an irrelevant screeching halt like Tom Bombadil, who was such a nothing that he didn’t make the Hollywood version at all, and who missed him?

Anyway, Bilbo once mused:

"Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar."

Yeah, some photos of the road going ever on. I stopped at a bit over 6 miles north on the Cedar River Trail, Thursday afternoon. I went north for a while to clear my head of some dull reporting task that had made it not such a good day.

But the report is drafted. And I can being riding more in earnest. I want to do a 60-mile ride soon (probably after I buy a spare tube, since I’ve installed a frame pump on my bike, my two recent flats making me slightly paranoid).

Blog fans, any ideas? I’m getting pretty familiar with the trails around Cedar Rapids and feel ready for another adventure. Where should my road go on?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Well, Shucks, 4 Just is Not 5

If I were running for president (and I think I'm at least as qualified as some members of the GOP field this year), the media would jump all over me.

For years, when asked how far I bike to campus, the answer has been "5 miles." See photo. Clearly, almost 4.


In my defense, I always was giving a wild guess based on the idea that the commutes takes 25 to 30 minutes. I neglected to account for the amount of time spent at stoplights--especially at Collins and F, where a car has to come along to trigger the light.

The wait is never huge. I use a "decade" standard for waits. If you can't complete a decade of the Rosary as you wait, the wait does not qualify as a long one, and when I've almost never gotten to a second decade before that light changes.

Still, a full stop isn't just the time spent not moving at all--it's the braking beforehand and the accelerating after. There are, on average, seven full stops on my home-to-work commute. And the commute has more and more distance if I take the trail.

So I do not feel too bad. And as for my biking record keeping, the minor upside is that the commute to the gym in the morning is longer than I thought--about 2.5 miles one way.

More than halfway to MMU...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bike Repairs, Big and Small

Well, folks, I got in 25 miles today, before it happened.

I was crossing the parking lot at Go Daddy in Hiawatha--my usual route from the Cedar River Trail towards my house some 3 miles east of there in north Cedar Rapids--when I felt like the bike did a shimmy. A sidestep, a slide--or some other dance move.

I don't dance, and neither does my bike. I was worried a whole bunch of spokes must have popped at once and the rear wheel was rapidly disintegrating like the old computer on Star Trek that went up in smoke when it was asked to compute pi to the last digit.

The wheel and spokes were fine. But the inner tube was deflating.

Feeling as deflated as my back wheel, I started walking home. As I walked, the back wheel lost it's remaining air, and the tire separated from the wheel wall and began to get in the way of the brake. Every rotation of the wheel it got stuck. Every time--and did I mention I was three miles from home?

I called Audrey for a rescue ride. She was at a park with grandkids and had to take them home to come get me. 5 minutes after I called her, I figured out that if I carefully kept the bike totally upright and walked fairly slowly, I could avoid the brake problem--tried to call her back to cancel the rescue (3 miles is a hike, but doable), but it was too late.

Sigh. So we stopped at the bike shop and got me a new inner tube. Not going to do RAGBRAI on a patched tube that has been flat before!

In the meantime, I found a frame pump to put on my bike--won't work as well as the foot pump, but will certainly be more portable. And I super glued the mirror that you see on today's sports page of The Gazette.

Will have to fix the tube tomorrow, as I have some on-campus commitments. But it should be doable, and I will like having the mirror back (the mirror had snapped off of the other piece). Finally, Audrey got me new lights (I wanted two rear lights and having another front one is fine, too) that I got batteries for today, so I'll install those.

Between those chores and the computer I installed over the weekend, and Blackie has been having a lot of work done. Well, better now than 40 miles outside of Glenwood. And I'm glad the tire went flat in Hiawatha and not Thursday night in Center Point!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

New Computer: Good News and Bad News

The good news is that I actually bike faster than I thought.

Audrey bought me a bike computer, and, assuming I calibrated it correctly (true, a bit of a big assumption--I'm not a mechanical genius) then there is that bit of good news.

I had been estimating my time based on distance traveled over a period of time, and the answer kept coming up around or under 10 mph. But the computer showed that much of time I'm actually biking much faster than that--my cruising on the flat speed is more likely to be 13 or 14 mph. It's just that I slow way up (sometimes to 5 mph) on hills, and, of course, when I stop, my speed is a goose egg.

Still, I averaged over 11 mph on a bike ride of a bit more than than 2 hours, and that 25 mile ride, plus some miles to and from the gym this morning, make it a legit 30 mile day.

The bad news? An 11 mph average still means old ladies were passing me on the trail. Oh well, as the RAGBRAI guide says, it's a tour, not a race.

By the way, one factor in today's ride is that I inflated my tires more. Don't know if that made a real difference, but it felt like I was biking faster.

Anyway, picture shows the computer (and my new backpack water bottle in my front basket with my helmet) during my mid-ride stop at Tait Cummins Park. A lot of people were out on the trails today, which is nice. I had to mow earlier, or I would have taken an even longer ride.

Still, 30 miles is OK, and I topped my weekly goal by 55 miles. Still in the hole, but I've ridden more than 900 miles total since mid April, and the RAGBRAI participant guide emphasizes "ride at least 900 miles." Well, I'm not at 1,500, which is the goal, but I'm over 900!

Thanks, Audrey, for the cool computer.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Two Days of Riding and Tuckered Out

After biking to Kirkwood Community College to commute with a Kirkwood faculty member to the Iowa College Media Association convention Friday, and then biking back home, I must have been pretty tired.

In my defense, I had biked 35 miles Thursday and rode 30 miles on Friday—and I didn’t sleep well Thursday night. My left leg was having some nerve pain, caused by a touchy lower back muscle that, when it acts up, can squeeze that giant leg nerve that God gave use to let us know when we are middle aged.

Luckily, the pain was not serious; I took some ibuprofen and got some rest pretty quickly—and fortunately on Friday morning the leg and back were in OK shape for the Kirkwood ride.

Still, I was tired. I sacked out on a living room chair. The Sebers grandkids had been over, and playing with some toys, and I randomly grabbed one before crashing—only to have someone (Audrey, I suspect) use my camera.

Well, both riding and rest are part of the RAGBRAI prep! Rain today meant a break, and I’ll aim for more miles Sunday. Next step: Screwing my courage to the sticking point and buying (and wearing) bike shorts.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Wildlife of a Biker in Training

I saw lots of critters today.

It started during my morning ride to the gym—a deer was along the trail in Marion. Not an unusual sight, as I’ve posted “deer on the trail in Marion” photos on this blog before, but this particular deer was unusually intent on breakfast and indifferent to a biker passing by. I shot several close photos from maybe 15 yards away, and bid her good morning as I left—as far as I know she’s still there cropping the park lawn.

It was a cool, cloudy day, and I wasn’t free to take a long ride until fairly late. I was waiting for the promised appearance of the sun, but when he hadn’t shown by 5:30, I have up and went riding anyway.

I did the “north” route on the Cedar Valley trail, 12 ½ miles north. I reached the town of Center Point by about 7:15, then turned around and headed home.

It was getting dusky when I rolled into Cedar Rapids, and instead of clearing off, it got drizzly as light faded.

Still, I did not get rained on, just slightly moist.

And I saw lots of critters. A raccoon was moving between piles of brush left by tree cutting. Many red-winged blackbirds disliked my passing and let me know. A group of three squirrels intent on some squirrel quarrel scampered from one stump on the right side to the trail to chase each other around a tree on the left.

A black cat crossed my path. It made me thing of “Good Morning America, which, sadly, recently featured the “psychic twins.” I bet they know I think it’s all nonsense. The black cat caused me no ill luck. I’m sure the psychic twins foretold that.

As I rode, one thought that occurred to me several times is “what would I do if I met a skunk?” There isn’t much to fear from wildlife in Iowa, but I sure don’t want to find a skunk between me and home. Luckily, despite deer, rabbits, cardinals, robins, finches, blackbirds and all of the other creatures—no deer.

I rode 35 miles today. It’s been a good week, and, unlike last week, I’ll probably exceed my training goals. The total goal is 1,500 miles. With a month to go, I closing in on 900 miles—just about 40 short. Not sure if I’ll really do 600 or so in the next few weeks, but I may get close.

And I think, as long as there are no skunks, I’ll be ready for RAGBRAI

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sac and Fox Trail Fun on 40-mile Day

I don’t have a computer on my bike, so I don’t know for sure if it was a 40-mile day, but I did a substantial amount of riding nonetheless.

Today, after a stormy night was followed by a bright sunny day, I decided to go for a ride and test out the backpack water supply Katy gave me for Father’s Day.

The water thingie worked great.

I didn’t really know where I would go, but headed south on the Cedar River Trail, figuring that the unpaved parts of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail would be too muddy to ride.

But, as I enjoyed the day, I kept thinking how I had missed the south end of the Sac and Fox trail once before, and this was a nice day ….

Totally inconsistent thinking on my part. After all, the Sac and Fox is 99 percent not paved, prone to soft areas in dry weather, and often flooded. So, of course, I went there anyway.

Stopped at Prairie Park Fishery and noted the cones that I thought closed the trail were still in place—but I rode around them and discovered, I think, that the cones are just another warning not to drive a car on the trail—the trail was open and fine. Only 1.8 miles, but still, a nice little side diversion today.

Then, it was east to find the elusive Cole Street. Well, I got lost again for a short time, but did end up finding it—and a short distance along Cole Street, voila, there is was, the Sac and Fox.

It was indeed muddy and the 7.5 mile ride along it took some time. I added to the time by shooting a few photos, and, because I was so excited I had found it, shooting video. The sound quality is terrible, I’m riding while shooting so camera shake is also awful, but here is a link to my movie, if you want to see it.

All in all, a very good riding day. I went up Bowman Woods hill twice this morning going to and from the gym, and survived Cottage Grove hill on the way home from the trail. All in all, a good day’s ride and good RAGBRAI training. Even saw a co-worker from MMU on the trail, maybe getting ready for the college day RAGBRAI ride.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Flat Out Missing Daddy

My father has been gone for several years, and it was a day to remember him. And fix a flat, which is appropriate.

One of my enduring early memories of my dad was not only his love of biking—he owned what was in the early 1960s an exotic English bike but today would look like a common drop handle road 10-speed—but his frequent repair work on the bikes that we had for kid use.

Particularly, patching flats. I recall him with a bucket of water, a piece of chalk and a tube repair kit. He would find and repair the leak in the tube. The chalk and water were for finding difficult-to-detect leaks—he would feed the tube slowly through the bucket and mark with chalk any spot that bubbled. The water also helped check if the patch worked.

I’m 40 miles short on RAGBRAI training this week—have not ridden since Friday when I only put in one mile—sprang a leak. What with one thing an another (such as the fact I was unclear what size tube this bike needs and didn’t own a repair kit until a visit, late in the day Saturday, to Target) it was today before I patched my tube. Took a short ride to check it and it seems OK, but I’ll check it later when I hope to make up a few miles—probably only a few, since a daughter and some grandkids are coming over for a Father’s Day barbecue, so it will be a quick twilight ride.

I’m like my dad in some ways. One of my sisters noted that a photo of me in my gardening outfit on my other blog reminded her of dad.

On the other hand, I think he was better at using his hands—at patching leaks. I am a writer, neither an engineer nor the mechanic wanna be that some engineers are. And I barbecue, and otherwise cook, while his culinary output was limited to scrambled eggs and undrinkable instant coffee.

But, then again, we are pretty close. My coffee is not instant—but it is, in the best male Sheller tradition, virtually undrinkable.

Daddy, I’ll be thinking of you later on today if the patch holds and I can get some biking miles in. And if it’s doesn’t hold, I’ll be thinking of you even more, and wishing you were here with your chalk and your bucket.

Happy Father’s Day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Two Deer on a Confusing Ride Day

Well, I had a navigation failure, today.

Audrey and I last week took our kayaks to the Prairie Fishery lake, a new city park near the southern end of the Sac and Fox trail.

So today, for my morning ride, I decided to ride part of the Sac and Fox from its southern end. The north end involves a ride along Cottage Grove that I would prefer to avoid.

So off I went, down the Cedar River Trail, turned off near the new federal courthouse, headed north to Sixth Street and headed east to Otis Road.

Where I expected to find the Sac and Fox. And where I did not. Hmmm.

A Google search later, I realize the trail terminates on Cole Street near Otis Road, but not on Otis Road. There are no signs directing one from Otis Road, either.

Well, better luck next time. I did attempt to ride the trail at Prairie Park--but it was closed for reasons unknown (high water maybe?).

This morning, on the way to they gym, I was thinking how nice but how dull the little connector trail is that I use when I went around a bend, and there she was--a young deer, totally not afraid, shown in the first three photos. My Kodak does zoom well, so I wasn't THAT close to her, but probably no more than 15 yards away. Pretty close for deer.

Later, as I was biking out of the Prairie Fishery Park, I spotted the second deer munching grass across a fence and railroad track from me. Not quite as close an encounter, but still. Final two photos.

It's not odd to see 2 deer in Cedar Rapids in one day, but two calm deer who wait to be photographed? I'll interpret that as some sort of good omen ...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Sun Came Up

And dried up all the rain and the teensy weensy biker went on the trail again.

Well, not so teensy. An eight of a ton is not teensy.

Still, the day turned out much better than my earlier blog post could have suggested. Before noon, it wasn’t really raining but was too damp for riding, and Audrey gave me a ride to my office.

Where I worked until close to 3, and it was slowly getting less cloudy and more beautiful out. So, mid-afternoon I gave in to temptation and hit the trail.

I’ve been thinking of doing the Sac and Fox again, but not as wet as it is right now—probably part of the trail is flooded, since I get Indian Creek is a bit high right now. So the Cedar River Trail it was.

Rode all the way to Ely, then turned north and rode to the end of the pavement. I considered going further, as I was tempted to aim for 55 miles today, but a few yards on the mushy trail convinced me that 45 would be manly enough.

As I rode, I met a recently retired MMU professor, Dr. Will. He passed me going the other way, and when I had ridden back as far as Cedar Lake, was ready to pass me again. That’s right, retired professors pass me. Still, endurance and miles are the goals, not speed, so I’ll be content.

I hope sometime next week to do the first 60-mile ride. But for a day that started damp and cool, some warm late afternoon sunshine was a nice chance, and even if I got a bit damp passing through some puddles (yes, I will lube my chain before tomorrow’s ride), it was definitely worth it.

Photos show the kinds of day it was. The trail near Quaker Oats is kind of interesting, an idyllic polluted lake next to hissing steam lines, blooming green trees with a backdrop of 20th century monuments to man’s ability to process grain. Nice sky, too.

And a few photos from the Ely end, just to show I was there. I hope they put a drinking fountain in the park…bikers would like it.

Finally, a few flower photos from today’s ride are on my other blog.

Soggy Day Blues

Biked to the gym this morning, figuring that the rain had ended, but the counterclockwise swing of rain behind a low caught me.

I had a very wet ride home. But, to be optimistic, when Audrey gave me a ride to campus, we brought my poor soggy bike along. Only 3 miles so far today--hope for some dryer and warmer weather his afternoon!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

On the Trail With New Gloves

Did a plant swap with my sister Cate Saturday—she and Paulette had some Irises that apparently were sad in a shady spot, so I took over two ferns.

But, before I dug up the Irises, Cate and I went on a bike ride with Cate to Ely via the Hoover Trail. I think I over-estimated the length of the trip last time—Cate had a trail map, and we figured she could claim 35 miles and I could claim 40 (due to the ride to and from her house) for the day.

Well, 40 is 40 and I’m over goal this week, and there’s a good chance I get at least some riding in today.

Saturday‘s ride proved the value of gloves, which Audrey kindly picked up for me. It’s easier on the hands to go over 40 miles with some palm padding (plus, the RAGBRAI site points out, they are handy to protect your hands in a fall).

Today also proved the wisdom of remembering your water bottle, as a some CR park drinking fountains, as well as an energy bar Cate gave me, helped me get through the ride.

Well, it was a good day for a ride, and it’s good to have gloves.

Somehow, RAGBRAI feels very close.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Only 16 Miles--But I Did the Hill Twice

I had a meeting with a student at a local coffee shop--she's doing a promotional video as a class project and it was a meet and greet with the subjects.

We had a bit of a brief break mid-day from the monsoons, so I rode to campus, rode to the meeting and then intended to go on a 20-mile ride.

Plans changed. As you can see, early into the ride on the Boyson Road trail in Marion, I encountered a closure due to high water. While teen boys are willing to wet their sneakers and bikes walking across, I was not.

Which, I suppose, is for the best. It was an odd ride for two reasons. For one thing, I wasn't sure where I was going to go to get the miles in, because this is a fairly short trail. For another, for some odd reason, I had forgotten my helmet after stopping at home for lunch, and I interpreted this as the universe telling me to get home and get my headgear before riding any more.

To be clear, most of my miles today were with helmet--it was only the final few miles on the closed trail (I stopped for lunch after my meeting) that was without helmet.

Yes, blog readers, I know. Bad idea. I would never drive without a seat belt and I ought not ride sans helmet.

Well, bike and headwear have been reunited, so I'm good to go next time. And despite the shorter ride, I did do the Brentwood Drive hill twice today, and that's something.

The helmet is normally in my bike basket. I forget it because I locked my bike out front and brought the helmet into the house with me during my lunch break, and simply forgot to grab it before leaving again. The real question is how did I get 1/2 mile down the road before I realized I was not wearing it?

Well, how does a middle-aged person wander the house searching for glasses before he realizes he's wearing them? Never happens to me.

And it's raining. Again. Well, more miles tomorrow!

Rain Delay on Training Thursday

I suppose on RAGBRAI I'll have no choice but to bike when it rains.

Memo to self: Take chain lube.

But there was no biking Thursday, partly due to rain, partly due to a downed Mulberry tree.

We had a big storm rumble through Wednesday evening, and sticks are all over the place--including a big old Mulberry tree that fell into my yard.

I got out the electric chain saw and started working on it, but the saw got off track. I was trying to fix it when it started to sprinkle, so I put it away and got out my limb saw.

Well, it was time-consuming, hard work by hand, but I go the tree all carved up, and I also got thoroughly wet in the rain.

No biking. It rained again overnight and this morning, but the radar looks better, so there will be some miles today.

Shown is puddle on my driveway Thursday, with sticks--see my other blog for more storm photos. This, by the way, is the second photo on this blog from my new Nikon, but most future photos will be from the Kodak since I don't take the Nikon biking with me. The first Nikon photo was the table-shot of the RAGBRAI packet.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wow—On a Slow Joe Day, It’s More Official!

What moves slowly:

1) Joe on a bike. I’ve been estimating my speed due to distance traveled and time spent, and it keeps coming up too close to 10 mph. That, my friends, is glacial pace on a bicycle. Old ladies pass me. Young kids pass me. My own baby sister has to slow down to ride with me. No, really, it doesn’t bother me that much. The tortoise won the race—although the hare had to go off and get drunk and Twitter bad photos to inappropriate young women in order to give the tortoise time—and the name of the game is endurance. Still, I’m rethinking my smug assumption that every morning I’ll hit the road at 6:05 and be done by 11 a.m. It’s more likely that I’ll hit the road at 7 and be done by 3 p.m. Sigh. Lucky the heat doesn’t really seem to bother me.

2) The Czech Museum. They started driving it along today. I took a diversion down to Mt. Trashmore so I could get 25 miles in today before the rain came (I made it) and saw the museum. Not sure (since it was late in the afternoon) if it was still moving or not. It’s pretty impressive to see it on its wheels. For those Croatian blog fans who don’t know, the Czech & Slovak Museum was flooded in 2008 and is being moved to a higher foundation. A huge brick building inching it’s way a few hundred yards is impressive to see, but slow. Sort of like me on a bike. Am I claiming to be built like a brick house (earwormed you!)? Nah, but I move like a brick museum.

Final note: As you can see by photo, my RAGBRAI “Participant Guide” came today. Audrey bought me bike gloves yesterday. I have to spend hours cleaning my office at MMU, which is being moved (offices at MMU do NOT move slowly). Suddenly, summer 2011 feels shorter and more exciting!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Being Lonely or Being Alone

I’ve always been a bit of a loner personality—not an easy joiner, not a good schmoozer.

Of course, when I was young that tendency added to a sense of isolation and loneliness. I think I’m long past that life stage, and often find myself pleasantly alone.

There’s a big distinction between being lonely and being alone, and my “alone” time today was nice. For my bike training today, I headed north on the Cedar Valley Trail, wondering where it would be closed (it periodically has been lately as they prepare for paving work n a stretch of the trail).

As it turned out, none of it was closed, at least not as far as I rode. Without planning to go that far, I ended up in Center Point.

Although it was hot today, I was riding in the late afternoon. Took water with me, which I had consumed by the time I got to Center Point, but they have a convenient drinking fountain at the old depot.

I anticipated a tough ride back—the wind was my friend on the way up. But the trail gods smiled, and the wind on my return had shifted so it was more of a cross breeze than a headwind. Any biker can tell you wind is either your friend or your enemy, and a cross breeze is not your friend—but I’ll take it over a headwind when I’m 12 ½ miles north of Hiawatha trying to get back to a home 15 miles away.

A 30 mile ride!

About 10 miles north of Hiawatha, the trail became woody, almost “lions and tigers and bears oh my” woody, but I didn’t mind. The trees increased my sense of isolation, but it was of the pleasant “alone” variety, not the lonely kind.

And I wasn’t as alone as I thought. I paused to shoot the tree-trail photo shown on this post, and noticed, after I had stopped, a house off through the trees to the right with two people enjoying the warm, shady late afternoon. Besides the pair, there were a couple of dogs, too—mean looking brutes (not bikers’ friends). As they ran at me barking, I heard a woman’s yell.

“Oscar!” Oscar? I was almost chomped like a hotdog by a dog named Oscar? Well, not really, the dogs clearly ran at me, the woman clearly yelled to stop Oscar (the other apparently either had a name too embarrassing to yell or she knew if Oscar stopped, so would Persephone), but they were rather far off. Not what I would call a close call at all, really, and not much of an intrusion into my delicious alone ride.

Monday, June 6, 2011

How to Ride in the Heat

Not that I’m an expert, but I do have some experience—especially today.

I rode on the Cedar River Trail t work, making my morning commute more on the order of 7 or 8 miles rather than 5. I started coming home around 1, and took the trail again—but added the loop around Cedar Lake, as a well as a 1 ½ mile trek north on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, to make sure that I got at least 20 miles in today, since I was too busy to ride Saturday or Sunday.

So I rode 20 miles, 15 of them in the afternoon, when the area was under a “heat” advisory. The Banker’s Trust sign at Blairs Ferry and C Avenue said “100,” but I know from my winter rides that the bank’s thermometer is off by 5 to 10 degrees to the warm. The computer says it’s 92, and was 96 at the hottest point of the afternoon, and I suppose I should go with that.

How do I feel? Well, fine, but a little foolhardy. I was for sure “stretching it,” but being used to the heat is part of RAGBRAI prep, too, and that’s my story. Beats brain malfunction due to hot weather, right?

So, how did I ride in the heat? What are CR Biker’s rules for those fools—mad dogs and Englishmen—who will bake their behinds on a bike seat at 92 or 96 degrees?

1) Take water. Drink water. My rule was that every time I came to a stop, for any reason, I took a drink from the water bottle I was carrying. I also used every water fountain I passed that was working, although the only one working was at the Hiawatha trail head. But, I refilled my bottle, there, too, and had plenty to drink at MMU.

2) Stop and rest every once in a while. I shot some photos for my crgardenjoe blog along the way, of graffiti along the trail. Of course, I don’t need much of an excuse to stop and snap a photo anyway—but this little art interlude was partly deliberate, just to get off the bike, take some drinks and cool off. When I got 1 ½ miles out of town, I also stopped and sat for a few and drank most of the water I had gathered at the Hiawatha trail head.

3) Don’t forget to sunscreen. It’s the sunny part of the year and I was out in the sunny part of the day. My dad tanned fairly easily, but my mom was fair skinned. I’m in between—not as unlucky as some of my sisters who burn very easily, but I will certainly burn without sunscreen. I don’t think I burned today—because, yes, I remembered and used my sun screen.

4) Be an easy rider. No, don’t take off on a motorcycle. I mean where you might shift into “4,” it’s OK to use “2.” Take your time. No racing on a hot day—I was happy to “amble” on my bike. One advantage to biking is that, while you can pump hard and be Lance Armstrong, you can also pump lightly and be old Joe on a hot day. Take it from old Joe—today was a “and there’s Uncle Joe, he’s a moving kind of slow” day. And yes, a free earworm for those who remember 1960s sitcoms.

5) Dress like it’s hot. No, not shirtless—Arabs cover up for a reason. But light shirt and shorts. Saw some old people out today who seemed wildly overdressed. I suppose that’s more pleasant to see than old people wildly underdressed, but today was not a day for blue jeans or flannel, regardless of your age. I felt I was “hot appropriate” in my attire—modest (and I always try to be as a favor to the world), but shorts and a white cotton T shirt.

There you have, 5 rules that I hope will help you on your hot summer rides! As for me, I think I might actually be able to face the heat of RAGBRAI. It certainly felt like the last week of July in Iowa today!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Windy Ride to Noelridge Park

CR wants to be a biker friendly town, and I want it to be, too. Here's a minor problem to work on--why are some CR parks so isolated form a biking point of view?

Met my grandkids Friday for a fun dip at Noelridge Park Pool, but getting there was a minor pain. Once I cross Collins at F, there is no route to the park without going on some busy CR street--Old Marion Road is not my ideal riding place.

I used to cheat by cutting through a parking lot at Summit School, but there's a nearby CR middle school and Summit got wise to that shortcut and cut it off with a fence--I assume they were more concerned with middle school traffic than an occasional old biker, but who knows?

Anyway, CR--think about creating a crossing light east of Noelridge (and across Center Point Road) to lead from the Cedar River trail to the park. The park is in a concrete island, hard to access by bike, and it's a nice place that should be bike friendly.

Despite the relative isolation of the park, there are lots of kids' bikes at the pool--which is a bit worrisome. How are they getting there? And how safe it that?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hot Time on the Old Trail Today!

I made a little headway today on my "deficit." After the 55 mile ride Wednesday, it rained Thursday and I didn't bike. Today is very hot and humid, but I did two short rides--once to the gym in the morning, the second time to get a haircut and then up and down the Boyson Road trail.

That gave me about 10 miles today, for 115 this week--5 miles over the official RAGBRAI goal. I am still in the hole, but only by 93 miles, and may be caught up by the end of next week if I keep on pace. May not ride tomorrow due to family plans, but will probably ride Sunday, further adding to this week's extra miles.

MMU plans to have a group ride one day of RAGBRAI. I hope to see them, but am not sure if I will be "in the pack." For one thing, I didn't buy the team jersey (it cost $40 and I don't care for biking jersey's anyway), for another, they plan to start the ride at 8 a.m. I'm usually an early riser anyway, and my strategy for RAGBRAI is to get an early start, so I'm always done by the hot part of the day--my starting time on the 75-mile day may be closer to 6 a.m., or so I hope.

Anyway, my MMU colleague Jenifer describes her training experience. Like me, she rode the Hoover trail, but apparently suffered a little more. Well, hope she keeps at it and I hope to see her July 29!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

RAGBRAI Simulation—Hoover Hits My Butt

I did it!

One of my goals was to start catching up on “lost” miles by riding more once summer was here—and another was to, early in June, do what I think of as a “long” ride, a ride of something like RAGBRAI distance.

Well, I think I did it. I rode about 5 miles this morning (up the Bowman Woods hill twice), and then, starting in mid-morning, too, the Cedar River trail south to the Hoover trail until it petered out in Ely. That’s around 50 miles—shorter than any one day on RAGBRAI, but closer to RAGBRAI length then my usual short rides.

55 in one day! And I found the Hoover trail, too, which I’ve never been on before.

I’ll post some photos—showing the lions on the bridge where the Cedar River Trail crosses the Cedar River, the “real” angry birds—geese near Cedar Lake who yell at passing bikers—and some shots of what the Hoover Trail looks like.

It was very warm, in the upper 80s, but not too hot. In fact, it was the kind of gorgeous Iowa early summer day that makes you forget what August will be like or what January is like, for that matter. A bit buggy out there, but a great day to tackle a new trail and take on a new distance.

My butt feels a bit sore, but my legs took it well. I was a little worried about this ride because my knee was bothering me yesterday after 30 miles. However, when my morning workout went well (did weights, including leg weights, and the knee was being calm), I decided, meh, all my life I’ve been good but now, I figure what the hell. Naa na nananana—and you’re welcome for the ear worm.

Must be a bit giddy. Must have been the heat. Very glad I took water and a snack.

All in all, the first RAGBRAI simulation was a smashing success.