Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mission Accomplished (any irony is purely intentional)

Yesterday was the big day. I needed 12 miles, rode for 14. Added another ten today. I think I'll take tomorrow off. We have some running around to do, and there are some calls that I'm expecting, so it's probably best to give the bike a day of rest before the Icycle Bicycle on Thursday.

I have to say that for as much as I complained about the weather in December, these last four days have been really amazing. It's getting colder again, but it is December, after all. So thanks to Mom Nature for giving me exactly what I needed to finish off my 4,000 miles.

Looking ahead to 2009, I really think I can get 6,000 in. In 2008, I didn't hit 1,000 miles until June 2nd, which means it took me better than five months to get to 1,000 miles! When I look at the calendar, I wonder what the heck I was doing in those early months. Like February, where I didn't ride at all. That is just silly.

I realize that the weather in January and February won't necessarily be as rideable. I'd rather ride in snow than rain, though, so who knows. Either way, if I can get between 1,000 and 1,200 by the time the end of March rolls around, I'll feel pretty good about my chances to cram another 5,000 miles into the remaining nine months. We'll see.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

And then there were twelve...

23 miles today. I should pass 4,000 sometime tomorrow morning. I could probably try for 4,100 if I really wanted to. I'm not setting that as a goal or anything, but with the way the weather looks right now, it probably wouldn't be hard to do, as long as Heather doesn't get sick of me spending most of my time off riding a bike. Maybe after tomorrow I should take a couple of days off and wait until the Icycle Bicycle to ride again. I'm not sure I can do that, though...

The knee didn't really bother me too much today. I could definitely feel it in the background after the first few miles, but I took a second to lower my seat post by a few millimeters, and I didn't really notice it after that, aside from a slight dull ache that was already there. Maybe tomorrow I won't even think about it.

One really crazy thing about today's ride was the wind. It was (according to weather.com) blowing anywhere from 20-30mph, with gusts up to 45 or something. I could definitely feel it in my face for most of the ride, and places where I can normally get up to 20-21 mph were slowed down to 13-14mph.

For one small stretch, though, I finally got to know what a good tailwind is like. I was on some mostly flat, straight road behind the waterfront in Homestead. I can normally do low 20s back there, but with almost no effort on my part I was up to 36mph. Just me! Pedaling! On plain old flat road! It was pretty amazing. Like I said, for the rest of my ride, the wind was mostly in my face, but that little section there was pretty cool. I've always said that I don't believe that tailwinds really exist. I can't say that now.

I'm not sure where I'll ride tomorrow. Maybe I'll throw the bike in the car and pick a different place to start. Maybe I'll try a completely different route than what I'm used to. Who knows? Regardless of where I start or where I go, it'll feel good to hit the mark.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

3,965 down, 35 to go.

When Mother Nature gives you 65° (and only a few clouds) on December 27th, you're not supposed to just sit around inside reading books or something. So I didn't. I woke up this morning at 9:30 (because it was still raining into the early morning hours) and started to get ready to ride.

It takes me a long time to get ready. Eat some breakfast (on mornings when I ride, that's usually just a thing of soy yogurt), get dressed (shorts!), make sure I have enough stuff to eat while I'm riding, get the water bottles ready, check the tire pressure, grab my phone and ID, say goodbye to Heather... I think that covers everything. When you throw in the fact that I'm just a slow-mover, you can see how I wouldn't actually get started until 11:00.

So yeah, I pulled out of the driveway at 11:00, and didn't return home until 3:20, with another 55 miles under my belt. The ride was great. Nice and sunny, warm, and even when it was windy, it was mostly a balmy wind. It took me a while to get used to the temperature.

Last Saturday, it was 20° and when I rode. When I went out at lunch on Tuesday it was 27°. You start getting used to that after awhile, and when it's 65° outside, you sort of just expect the temperature to drop 30 or 40 degrees at any time, with no warning. I'm pleased to report that such a drop in temperature did not occur.

I covered my usual spots and crossed all three rivers (multiple times, of course). For the most part, the riding surface was fine, and I was glad to be riding with my road tires (on the new wheelset). The stretch between the Millvale boathouse and the 31st St Bridge was pretty sludgy, but not so much so that I couldn't get through it. Slow going, for sure, but at least it was still passable.

After splashing through some good sized puddles, I was glad I had thrown on the waterproof shoes this morning. As advertised, they did a good job of keeping my feet dry. I thought about going the seven extra miles it would take to make the ride a metric century, but my left knee didn't really like that idea. It was pretty much ready to be done after mile 40.

I have to figure out what's up with that knee. I even did some stretches this morning, but it seems like it can only comfortably go somewhere between thirty and forty miles before it starts to bother me a little. I'm not sure if it's some kind of residual damage from the wreck, or if I'm still just not back in long distance riding shape.

It felt better, and held up longer today than it did last week. Maybe that's a good thing. It doesn't seem to hurt at all just walking around the house and stuff. Last week it was noticeably sore for a day or so.

Maybe I'll go out for a short ride tomorrow and see how it goes. I guess I'll wait to see how it feels in the morning. The weather's supposed to be decent again (down to 45° and pretty windy), so maybe I can get another fifteen or twenty in. I could always just take tomorrow off, but with only 35 miles left until 4,000, I don't want to waste any good weather. The forecast for the rest of the month looks promising, but that can change at any minute.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More boring bike stuff.

I could talk about the weather a little bit more, if you'd like. It was 10°F out there this morning. That's 4°F warmer than it was yesterday morning, but it's still a little cold for an eleven mile commute.

I packed up my gear and threw the bike in the back of the Fit. I'll ride today at lunch. I'm not coming back into the office until I have fifteen miles on the bike. With the studded tires that might take awhile. Oh well.

Tomorrow's supposed to be much warmer. High of 49°F! That would be fantastic, if it wasn't going to be accompanied by 1-2 inches of rain. If I'm to believe anything that the 10-day forecast tells me, I might be able to get some riding in on Christmas morning.

The 26th and 27th look kind of crap, but the 28th through the 31st (if there's any accuracy at all in the forecast, mind you) look to be excellent riding days. If any of this holds true or stays close to what it's saying now, those last 95 miles (assuming I get 15 in at lunch today) should be a piece of cake. We'll see what happens.

Can't wait to ride in the Icycle Bicycle on the 1st of 2009. If I plan on doing 6,000 miles in 2009, the first day of the year will be the best time to start.

In other related news, my new wheels are supposed to show up tomorrow. It would have been nice to have them this morning when I was getting everything ready. I put the studded tires back on the other night, but it's not like I need them right now. Swapping wheels would have been a piece of cake. Changing tires again at 7:30 in the morning isn't an option.

The refund for the (misrepresented) wheels finally cleared this morning, so I can send those back. The refund will cover a fair amount of the new wheelset. Sure would have been nice if he'd actually sent the wheels that he had listed. To be fair, I'm very appreciative of the fact that he actually did the right thing and refunded my money and covered the return shipping.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

WPW's Solstice Century was yesterday. I was hoping to do a metric (100km/62 miles). That didn't quite happen. My left knee really started bothering me at about 30 miles, and the only reason I actually got 42 miles in is that if I hadn't ridden the last twelve, I'd have never made it back to my car. I kinda had no choice.

The only thing that was less than awesome about the ride was that I was completely out of my element. The ride was all over North Park and surrounding areas (we were as far as Warrendale at one point), and I'm basically not familiar with any of those areas at all, at least not in terms of getting around by myself by bike. That meant it was fairly imperative for me to keep up with the rest of the riders.

That was no problem for the first twenty-something miles, but after my knee starting bugging me, it made for a more stressful situation, because the last thing I wanted to do was be stuck in the middle of nowhere (relatively speaking) in the freezing cold.

And freezing cold it was. After the first ten miles or so, the water in my water bottles was getting pretty solid. The mouthpieces were frozen shut, and the only way to get a drink was to unscrew the whole top and suck down whatever wasn't already in an icy state. I'm going to have to pick up a couple of those insulated water bottles if I plan on doing this winter riding thing. And I do plan on doing this winter riding thing.

At least one of things I did right was to swap my studded tires out for my regular road tires the night before the ride. If I'd been riding on the Nokians, I'd have been miles behind everyone from the start. I couldn't believe how heavy those things are as I was pulling them off of the wheels on Friday night.

I threw them in the car, just in case I got out to North Park and everything was icy, but there were only a few spots where there was some ice on the road, and none of it was too terrible. The road tires were fine. But they come back off tonight as I get ready for the last two days of commuting for 2008.

The weather for tomorrow and Tuesday look surprisingly rideable (although the high for tomorrow is only 21 with 20-30 mile winds), so I may as well get out there and get riding. All of this driving to work lately has been making me crazy. Plus, after yesterday, I'm still 110 miles away from 4,000. Riding tomorrow and Tuesday should get me to about 935. 65 more miles somewhere in the last eight days of the year should be pretty achievable, even with the holidays getting in the way.

Won't you be glad when January 1st gets here and I can stop talking about how many miles are left on my quest for 4,000? I'm expecting to ride closer to 5,500 - 6,000 for 2009.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Wheels on the Bike Go Round and Round.

I almost had a new wheelset last night.

"A new wheelset? D00d. Haven't you spent enough money on that bike already?"

Well, yes. But here's the thing: I had been thinking about a new wheelset so that it'd be easier to switch between winter and non-winter tires (or cross and skinny tires when winter isn't even a consideration), but then I did the whole flat-to-road-bar conversion last month and decided to shelf the wheelset idea for the foreseeable future.

That was going just fine until I was looking around on eBay* and saw a set of 700c wheels with six-bolt disc mounts for only $100. I kept my eye on them for the week that they were available, and with less than an hour to go, there were still no bids. Some guy bid on them with like ten minutes left, but I still ended up getting them for only $113, plus $25 for shipping. Great deal, no?

I quickly paid for the wheels and then went about purchasing a new cassette and rotors for them so that I'd have everything ready to go when they showed up. The guy shipped the wheels the next day, and everything seemed to be going well. I got the cassette on Monday, and the rotors and the wheels showed up yesterday.

I got home from work, all excited to open up the nice big box that UPS delivered. I pulled out the wheels and... hey. Wait a second. Where are the disc mounts? These are just standard road wheels. WTF, mate?

Yep. He sent Vuelta XRP Road Pro wheels instead of the CycloCross Disc wheels. I emailed him to let him know, hoping that he hadn't accidentally sent eh Cross wheels to someone who was looking for road wheels. I was a little relieved that he emailed me back less than fifteen minutes later, but his response was pretty funny:

"Sorry. Those are the only wheels I have. There must have been some confusion with the decription (sic)."

Yeah. There must have been some confusion with the description. And the title of the auction. And the picture that was in the listing. Because they all said (or showed, as the case may be) DISC WHEELS. In fact, everything about the auction was ripped straight from Bike Island's listing from a month or so ago (actually, they have them back up on eBay now)

He also said it was his first time selling anything on eBay. I knew that after looking at his feedback, but still, how do you put up a listing for one thing when you're clearly selling something different? Even without knowing anything about the wheels, you should be able to look at them and see that they're different, right?

He's supposedly refunding my money tomorrow. I really hope that happens, and I hope he understands that he needs to send another $25 to cover the return shipping. I mean, I told him these things, but I guess it's possible that there could be confusion with my email. You know.

The biggest problem is that I still don't have a wheelset, and now I have the cassette and the rotors that would go with one. I might just buy the wheels that Bike Island has listed (although I'll probably buy them from their site, as they'd be $10 cheaper, and Bike Island would save money on eBay fees), since I've had a chance to see a set of Vuelta XRPs in person, and they do seem like pretty nice wheels. Certainly strong enough to hold a little guy like me. It would have been nice to get them for $100, though.

If I don't go with those wheels, there aren't too many other choices. Mavic makes a disc-ready road wheelset, but $450 is way out of my price range. I could get another set of the Bontragers that came with my bike, but I'm looking at paying at least $266 for those (not including local sales tax, since most out of state bike shops won't ship Bontrager wheelsets). And that's about it, as far as I can tell.

I'm leaning toward the Vueltas, as they're the least expensive, and they seem to be nice wheels. I just wish there were more reviews of them online. Although it's not like there are a ton of reviews for the Bontragers, either. I probably just feel more comfortable with them because they're what came with my bike. And Bontrager is basically a household name.

*Never a good idea when you're trying to not buy something. In fact, if you're not looking to buy a specific thing, don't go searching for that specific thing on the internets. Not on eBay, not on Craigslist, not anywhere. If you can keep yourself from looking for it, your chances of actually buying it shrink pretty quickly. I should take my own advice one of these days.

Monday, December 15, 2008

152 to go.

Well, if I don't hit 4,000 for the year I'll be able to lay at least some of the blame on December's weather. This entire week looks like crap, and the weather for the 20th, which was supposed to be the Solstice Century, is in doubt, too. Don't get my wrong. Saturday and Sunday were great days for riding, and I was able crank out about 45 miles. Not too bad.

Even Friday went pretty well. It was all snowy and icy - a perfect first ride for the new studded tires. They did what they were supposed to, although I did wipe out on the switchback at the end of the Hot Metal Bridge. The whole thing was just a sheet of ice, and I turned my front tire a little further than I should have, at a speed that was slightly faster than it should have been. Now I have a nice reminder in the form of a beautiful bruise on my left hip.

Beyond that, though, the commute in was fine. Riding home was a little bit more precarious.

As I went from the Eliza Furnace Trail back over to the Southside Trail (via the same ice-encrusted Hot Metal Bridge), the snow really started coming down. Seriously. It was blizzard-esque. I stayed off of most of the roads that I usually take in order to keep from being killed by some sliding car or something. That seemed to work out and I made it home without any other issues. And of course the snow stopped as soon as I pulled into the driveway.

If it's going to rain all week, I'll probably stick to driving in. I hate doing it, but getting rained on when it's only 35° isn't especially appealing. Maybe next week will be nicer.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The weather outside is... No. I am not going to start quoting lines from Christmas songs.

It is cold out there. When I left the house this morning, it was about 18°. Still, no big deal once you're pedaling for a few minutes. I was a little surprised about all of the snow on the Southside and Eliza Furnace trails, and even more surprised by all of the ice.

I have some knobbier tires on my bike right now, and I was pretty much okay. At the same time, it was light out, and I could see exactly where I should be going. This evening I'm going to go home through Bloomfield/Shadyside, because I don't feel like wiping out on ice that I can't see.

I'll be a lot happier when my Nokian Hakkapeliitta W106s show up. I ordered them on Friday from Peter White, so I'm hoping they'll be here before the end of this week. I'm just excited to have a tire that's called Hakkapeliitta.

At this point I'm 232 miles away from 4,000. I'm still hopeful that I'll make it. If I'm able to ride Western Pennsylvania Wheelmen's Solstice Century on the 20th, that'll knock off 62 or more of those (that's a metric century, mind you). We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holy cow. It's not Monday, it's Tuesday.

Rode in today. For the first time since November 14th. Which sounds like a long time, but really it's only eight working days that I missed. It could be worse, I guess. I just hope that this is the first in a decent string of days.

Well, actually I won't be able to ride in on Thursday because I have a dentist appointment in the morning and I can't afford to get to work any later by adding bike commute time. I'll already have to skip lunch and stay late to make up for getting in later. So much for that decent string of days. Oh well. It's supposed to be crappy on Thursday anyway, so at least I have a good excuse for not riding.

After I get home tonight, I'll need about 310 miles to reach 4,000 for the year. I'd really love to do that, but getting in 310 miles in December might not be the easiest thing to do. I guess it all depends on the commuting.

Really, I can pile up 310 miles in 12 days of commuting, and I have 13 commutable days left in December. If I throw in some weekend rides, 4,000 might not be that hard at all. If I hadn't wrecked in September, I'd probably be trying to hit 4,500, but what can you do?

I was able to get some riding in over the Thanksgiving break. Fifty miles over three days. I probably could have done more, but I wanted to take it fairly easy. I installed some fenders on the bike last week, and they worked fairly well, although the fit is a little funny on my bike.

Right now they can't be used at all with 35mm tires (although Planet Bike doesn't claim that you should be able to use them with 35s, so I can't complain about it), but with some tweaking, I might be able to get them to work. I put my 35mm tires on last night because we were supposed to get snow (we didn't), which meant I had to take off the fenders. And really, that's silly, because you want the fenders when the weather gets worse, so stuff isn't flying up into your face and all over your bike.

If the adjustments that BruceW suggested don't work, I'll just get a set of the 45mm fenders and keep the 35mm fenders for non-winter weather and skinnier tires. Or something. Regardless, I wasn't overly excited about the quality of the hardware that Planet Bike ships with its fenders. The faces on two of the screws got stripped without me even trying to do it, which meant I had to get a wrench out to adjust/remove them. Kind of annoying.

I might actually just take them back to REI and try a pair of SKS P35s. I really like that Planet Bike gives money back to Bike Advocacy groups, though. Such a conundrum for something as simple as fenders!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A few more things about me and my bike.

Speaking of bikes, I've hardly been riding. Since October 24th, when I was officially cleared to go back to doing things that normal human beings do, I've only put about 220 miles on the bike. Of the 23 days that I've been back at work, I've only biked in for six of them.

The first week back I tried to do too much too soon and had to take a few days off. The second week back, I had some other problems. The last two weeks I've had this really nasty head cold that refuses to go away once and for all. It's really annoying. I think the cold is mostly gone now, though.

I'm planning to celebrate Thanksgiving by waking up early and going out for a ride of some decent length. I hope to do the same thing on Black Friday while most people are out shopping. To that end, I'm going to have to be careful not to get run over by any crazed bargain hunters. I'm also going to have to be careful to not overdo it and get myself all screwed up again. I really want to get back into the routine of riding to work every day.

Driving is annoying.

I've got a bike, you can ride it if you like.

Dear Diary,

It's been a long time since I've written. I can only offer heartfelt apologies and try to assure you that a delay such as this won't occur again. Anytime in the near future. Maybe. It's tougher to write on a regular basis when you're not just sitting at home recovering from a bike wreck. Although when I look back at October, it does seem like I did a fair amount of posting the first week that I was back at work. So I guess I don't really have any excuses. I'm just lazy. I think of things all the time, I just never actually end up getting them down.

Since I only ever talk about my bike, that seems like a good place to start. It's a road bike again. If you recall, I switched out the drop bars for flats when I bought it back at the end of April.

Well, Chainlove kept putting up Ultegra triple brifters (along with all of the cables and everything) for only $145 (retail is like $400 or so), and I couldn't hold back any longer. I bought them. Which meant that I had to get a road bar. Two days later, Chainlove conveniently provided an Easton EC90 Equipe Pro for a very good price. I found the front derailleur I needed on eBay, also for much lower than retail and took the whole box of junk over to Pro Bikes (Honestly, when are these guys going to update their website? Maybe I should offer to do it for them in exchange for a nice new mountain bike) to have them install all of it. All I had to buy from them was the bar tape and a set of Salsa Cross brake levers.

So why did I get it converted from road bars to flat bars and then back to road bars again? Well, I initially went from road to flats because that was what my first bike was, and I wasn't sure I'd like road bars. I didn't think I'd be into the narrower steering surface. But I had these Ergon grips with nice magnesium bar ends, and I found myself wanting to use the bar ends almost all the time because it was just more comfortable. Not coincidentally, this would be essentially the same hand position as if I was riding with a road bar/shifter setup. I figured if I wanted to have my hands like that for the majority of the time, it would probably make sense for my fingers to be in close reach of my brakes, as opposed to having to shift position to get back to them like I had to do with the flat bar setup. When Chainlove started putting up those Ultegras at that price, I decided to just go for it.

Did I spend more money doing it this way? Of course! That seems to be what I do best. Back in April, I had to pay for the labor to switch from road to flat. Now I had to pay for all of the new components. Then I had to pay for the labor to switch from flat to road again. On the plus side, the Portland originally came with 105s for the shifters and front derailleur and now I'm rocking Ultegras, so at least I have that going for me. And... the stock road bar on the Portland was a $50 Bontrager Race which pales in comparison to the glorious carbon fiber of the Equipe Pro. Would I have ever considered upgrading if I had kept the road setup to begin with? Probably not. But I really shouldn't be thinking about that, right?

One other thing to note is that the majority of this upgrade was subsidized by me selling a bunch of CDs on eBay. I have more at home that have to go up, and those should cover the balance. I also have all of the parts from the flat bar setup that I need to try to sell. Probably also on eBay. So it's not like this upgrade put any sort of dent in our finances. It's just that if I had been smarter, it never would have had to occur in the first place. Oh well.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I apologize in advance for only ever talking about my bike.

The ride home last night went really well. No complaints from the left knee, although the right quad was a little noisy, but nothing like the knee had been earlier in the week. The quad provides a teeny bit of pain, the knee made it hard to even keep pedaling. I'll take the quad over the knee any day.

My friend Chris met me, and in a pleasant turn of events, he didn't have to call an ambulance or anything to pick me up on the way home. It was pretty nice. The hills through Schenley didn't feel anywhere near as bad as I thought they would. It's so good to start getting back into the swing of things.

I've been riding with some 700x23 tires this week, which I thought would feel faster since I've been riding 700x28s since I started riding a year and a half ago. The thing is, the 23s have a recommended pressure of 100 with a max of 110, whereas the 28s were 120. I've been keeping the 23s at about 105, and I just feel slower. I'm sure most of that is due to me not riding for a month and just generally getting out of shape, but I'm going to throw the 28s back on tonight and see if they feel faster/slower/any different at all.

No problems on the ride in this morning, either, except for one minor technical issue. I bought a new light the other day since it'll be dark on my way home starting next week, and I'd like to have a better view on dimly lit trails. Anyway, it seems that when I have the light in the blink mode, it interrupts the (wireless) signal from my computer down to the magnet on my fork. When the light is off, or on a steady beam, it seems fine.

I have a few options. I can try moving the light a little to the left to see if it's a proximity thing. Maybe I can move the computer a bit to the right, as well. I could also switch the data transmitter from the wireless thing to a wired setup. I already have the stuff at home, so that wouldn't be a big deal, but I really do like having fewer wires/cables.

Some would say I could just deal with the fact that I won't get data while I'm running the light on blink, but those people wouldn't know me very well. I'm pretty obsessive about knowing how long it took me to get somewhere and how fast I was going in the process.

I think I'll run over to REI at lunch today. I need a pair of liner gloves to go with the windstoppers I wear when it gets cold. The windstoppers are good, but even in the low 30s my fingers start getting numb. I'm going to need more once things start getting a little colder than that.

It looks like I'm going to be able to get 100 miles in for October by the end of today. I'm pretty happy about that since I wasn't allowed on a bike for the first 24 days and it rained all day on the 25th. It'll be interesting to see how November goes.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Okay, let's talk about magic.

The two day break seems to have helped. While having to drive to and from work kinda sucked, my left knee was pretty happy about it. I rode in this morning and received no complaints from anyone. My face was a little cold, but when it's 29 degrees outside and you go down a hill at close to 30mph, that's going to happen. The good thing is that the hill isn't unbearably long or anything like that.

I need to give a shout out to my physical therapist Jon Conley Dr. Ricoh Aficio 3260C, who was able to give me some stretches to try out before riding today that should have also helped. I didn't get to do all of them, because I just didn't have enough time, but I was able to try some of them.

I really need to get an earlier start when I'm riding in. I didn't actually pull out of the driveway today until 7:45, which is about thirty minutes later than I should have left, especially since I'm still a little slower than I was pre-concussion. It'll probably take a few weeks until I'm all back in the swing of things. Either way, I need to be out of bed earlier, and on the road earlier.

It's great to be able to ride in again. The sun came out in full force this morning, and everything was so gorgeous and bright that I just wanted to keep pedaling past my building.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Drove in this morning. It wasn't completely terrible. Could have been a lot worse. I hope my knee appreciates it, although it was still busy working the clutch. There's no such thing as a free lunch, you know.

The good thing about driving today is that I need to run to some sort of office supply place at lunch to buy some padded CD envelopes so that I can then go to a post office and use them to ship stuff that people bought on eBay last night. It's nice to see some things go out the door. Nicer still to get a few dollars for them. Too bad there's still a lot of stuff that didn't sell.

Man, this whole being back at work thing is a drag.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Such a letdown.

As much as I hate to do it, as much as I feel like I'm failing my country when it needs me the most, I think I'm going to have to break the streak tomorrow. The number of consecutive days that I've ridden my bike to work will stop at 65.

My left knee is just too unhappy with the way things are going right now, and it's going to need at least a day of rest, maybe two or three. I rode in today, and it wasn't so bad on the way in, because that's mostly flat or downhill, but there was steady pain on the way home, and climbs were pretty unpleasant. I tried lowering the saddle a little, but that just changed the focus of the pain from the back of the knee to the sides of the knee, which actually felt worse.

I was really hoping that I was going to be able to get 100 miles in for October, but I'm not sure if that's going to be a possibility at this point. I'm at 46 right now, which means I'd need another 54 by the end of Friday. I suppose if I take tomorrow and Wednesday off and everything feels better, I might be able to ride on Thursday and Friday, and then I'd hit 100 without too much trouble. We'll see.

Having to take a month off to recover from major head trauma was a real bummer.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My legs still work!

I rode 23.5 miles this morning. It went pretty well, but the back of my left knee was pretty annoyed with me about the last ten or eleven miles. I hope it's feeling better by tomorrow morning, because I'm planning to ride into work.

Weather's supposed to get crappy as tomorrow goes on. Oh well. Guess that's why I bought waterproof shoes. And why I already have a helmet cover, rain pants, and a water/windproof windbreaker. Should be a blast.

Wow. Tomorrow will be my first day of work in over a month. It's going to be weird. And I'm going to have a lot of stuff to catch up on. Fast.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

You may now return to your job.

Well, the follow-up appointment on Friday was fine. I'm free to do whatever, like riding my bike, driving, and going back to work. The latter is going to be rough. You get used to sitting around the house and not really having to do anything after a few weeks. I can't believe it's been over a month (only by a day, but still).

I told my doctor about the smell/taste thing, and he showed me a little plastic model of the brain, pointing out where the cranial nerve that controls my smell is located, and how it's pretty commonly damaged in these types of situations.

He also said that it could take up to a year, maybe two before my sense of smell comes back, if it comes back at all. See, depending on how bad stuff got smashed up at the front of my brain, my sense of smell might never come back. That is pretty crazy. I kinda hope it does. I'll keep you posted.

Back to riding my bike tomorrow, though.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


With all this concussion stuff in mind, I really hope I get the green light on Friday. All I want to do is go ride my bike. What's so hilarious is that the weather's been gorgeous for the past four weeks while I haven't been allowed to ride, and it's supposed to start getting crappy on Saturday.

Hey wait. That's not hilarious. That sucks. Seriously.

These days are coming to an end. I hope.

With any luck, my involuntary freedom from work will be ending on Friday afternoon, when I go in for my post-concussion follow-up appointment. Today I went in for a follow-up CT Scan, so that my doctor will have something to look at and talk about on Friday. I hope the CT Scan looks as well as I've been feeling for the past two and a half weeks or so.

The loss of smell/taste is still going strong. And I've been told it's definitely more a loss of smell than taste, which makes sense, since I can (mostly) taste things that don't require that you be able to smell them first, like pudding or (non-dairy) ice cream. It's funny, because Heather and I were cooking tonight, and my eyes started to water because we were doing some stuff with onions, but I couldn't smell them at all. At this point, I just eat whatever we make and ask her if it tasted good.

Heather's been telling me since we got home that I had a pretty serious concussion, although I thought I had heard them say mild to moderate. Turns out she was right. I was talking to my mom again this evening, and she's friends with the one neurologist who came in to see me the morning after the accident, and he told her that it was pretty severe. I can't even imagine what would have happened if I hadn't been wearing a helmet. I'd probably still be unconscious or worse. It's really crazy to think about. That whole mortality thing.

Which makes you think about everything else. For example, my job is okay. I like my coworkers, but the work itself doesn't get me all excited or anything. Is that something I should be worried about? Or should I just continue to treat it as just my job and make sure that I'm happy with the way things are going when I'm not in the office.

Switching into something that I really like (graphic design) would be a huge financial setback right now. I don't think we could afford it. But of course, the longer I keep doing what I'm doing and keep getting annual increases, the farther away I get from a starting salary in something like design. I guess I should be trying to get more in the way of freelance. Maybe it's time to start trying to get back in touch with former teachers from AIP.

The other thing I've been thinking about lately is all of the stuff I have. Like all of the CDs that I have. I mean, I look at some of them and I couldn't tell you the first thing about what they sound like. I have absolutely no idea. And I just wish I didn't have all of them. I'm sort of working on that, wherein I'm trying to put up a bunch of stuff on eBay, but that's slow and it's a pain, and people aren't buying stuff.

It's just amazing how much stuff I have that holds no meaning for me, and in the case of the music, it's to the point where it's basically like too much. I don't see how I could ever get around to giving some of these albums the attention they'd require to be able to form any sort of judgment about them. How ridiculous is that? It's just stupid. Argh.

Oh well.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Oh my stupid head.

On September 24th, I was in a bike wreck. I don't really have any recollection of any of it, and after the impact, I guess I was unconscious for ten minutes or so. I'm lucky that my friend was riding home from work with me that afternoon, and he was able to call the ambulance, and Heather, and all that stuff.

I ended up at Mercy, which is good, since that's where my mom works. I was there for less than 24 hours, with time split between the ER and I guess a neurology department. I had two CAT scans. I had a small hematoma on my front left lobe. I suffered a moderate concussion.

So they sent me home. Said no driving, no contact sports for the next three to four weeks. Didn't say anything about work. But since I missed more than three days of work in a row, I had to have the neurologist's office contact my work and let them know when I could come back to work.

Now, I can't go back to work until at least October 24th, since that's the earliest that I was able to schedule a follow-up with the neurologist. That means that I have to sign up for Short-Term Disability, which means I can't do any work, and I only get paid a percentage of my regular salary.

It pretty much sucks, as I pretty much feel fine now. Maybe not 100%, but at least 90%, I'd say. I'm sure I could put in work days without issue. The other suck is that I can't ride my bike until the checkup, most likely. It's going to be an entire month until I can ride my bike.

Don't get me wrong, not being able to drive hella sucks, and getting paid less and not being able to go into work when I know there's valid stuff that I can contribute also sucks. But all I can really think about is how I can't ride my bike.

The good thing is that it's at the shop at least until Thursday for a scheduled tune-up (with some extra attention since they know it was in a wreck). That means I can't even be tempted to hop on, which is probably a good thing.

The other weird thing about this whole deal is that my sense of taste seems to have taken a vacation. Seriously. I can't taste much of what I eat these days. I had cinammon wheat things for breakfast this morning. Couldn't taste the cinammon at all. We had spicy basil fried rice this evening. Couldn't really taste it at all. Crazy. I hope that comes back sometime soon. On the other hand, I guess I can be more adventurous with stuff.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Wheels on the Bike Go Round and Round

It's been a pretty good summer for riding.

On June 1, I did a metric century at the 65 Roses Ride for Cystic Fibrosis. The next weekend, my friend Chris and I did the MS-150 (Cranberry, PA to Conneaut, OH). In August, I logged 755 miles, most of it just by commuting every day, and this past Sunday, my friend Jon and I rode an imperial century for the Western Pennsylvania Wheelmen's Fall Rally. All told, since I bought my new bike in May, I've put on 2643 miles, almost as much as I rode all of last year.

The best thing about last Sunday's ride is that even after 100 miles, my ass didn't hurt at all. That's a huge improvement over the MS-150, where I wanted to die every time I got back on my bike on the second day. So what changed? After I got back from the MS-150, I bought a new saddle. I also got some shorts that actually fit me. Man, what a difference.

I'm just sayin'.

Friday, August 22, 2008

How come there's peackocks in the front yard?

I haven't driven to work since June 11th. I'm pretty happy about that. In the time since, I've logged about 1,050 commuting miles on my bike over the course of 43 work days. I might have to break the streak on Monday, which really sucks.

I'm going to the Pirates game after work (most likely to watch them lose to the Cubs), and I'm thinking that driving to work would probably be the smartest thing to do. I'm not sure if riding my bike home at 10:30 at night is the best idea. I don't know. Heather might not be too keen on me riding home that late, either. I just hate driving to work. Seriously.

Don't get me wrong; I love my car, but I really hate rush hour. I hate traffic. I hate construction. I hate the idiots in front of me, behind me, and beside me. I love riding my bike. I love seeing all of the cars that are stuck on the parkway. I love deciding how fast I want to go. I love having all kinds of room around me. I love that I can get from here to there under my own power.

Friday, August 8, 2008

I'm going to pay for this.

I think I took a little too much batting practice tonight on Wii Sports. I hope I can use my right arm tomorrow. And still, I was only able to get eight homers. Although I found that I do better if I actually face the TV instead of standing sideways as you would expect to as the batter. Maybe my swing gets across the plate faster or something.

The only reason I stopped was because Heather finally got home from her friends place. She probably saved me from permanent debilitation.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Living in the 1980s

No phone. No internet. Maybe not until Saturday. Saturday! No Internet!

No Internet!

Story here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The MS-150 in Review.

First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who sponsored me for this year's MS-150. I had a goal of raising $250, and I surpassed that easily with $465. I thank you, the National MS Society thanks you, and most importantly, those diagnosed with MS thank you. Next year, I'm going to try to raise my goal to at least $600.

Thanks also to Mike and Jenny for putting me up at their place on Saturday night.

A quick recap:

Heather and I left our place at about 6:05 on Saturday morning, stopping at Chris's house to pick up him and his bike. Then we headed up to Cranberry...

The ride started at 7:30, but we didn't actually get going until about 8:20. There are a few reasons for this. Reason No.1: We got there at about 7:15. I still had to get checked in, and Chris still had to get registered. I picked up my stuff and walked back to the car, but then I decided that I should use the bathroom before we left. A lot of other people decided the same thing. Unfortunately, there were only four porta-potties available. I stood in line for about twenty minutes. At least. When I finally got done, we still had to get everything out of the car, get our numbers pinned on, etc... Heather pulled away at 8:00.

Now for Reason No.2: As Heather pulled away, we hopped on our bikes and started making our way out of the parking area. And then Chris realized that his rear tire was flat. It would seem like a flat right at the beginning of the ride would be a bad omen or something, but it actually was pretty great timing, as far as something like that could go. We went back to the registration area, and the bike shops that had brought trucks full of stuff were still there. Chris was able to get a new tube and use a stand pump to get filled up to the right pressure.

If we had gone a few miles down the road before he got the flat, it would have sucked because the hole in the tube ended up being right at the valve stem, so a patch kit wouldn't have been any good. I had a spare tube, but even then, we'd have had to use my hand pump to get it inflated, and my pump can only get up to about 100 psi before forcibly popping itself off of the valve stem. By the time we did end up leaving there were only eight other stragglers.

The rest of the day went well, although we did come across two ambulances attending to cyclists. Hopefully both are doing okay by now. Cars didn't appear to be involved in either crash, so that's good, at least. We just pedaled on and pedaled on, passing people as we went. Especially on the ascents, some of which were pretty crazy. I swear that the last ten or fifteen miles before we finished for the day were all uphill. We arrived in Meadville at 3:30pm. Our ride time was exactly five hours, for an average speed of 16 mph. Not too shabby.

Chris said he felt pretty wrecked, but I felt great, aside from some noticeable soreness, uh, down there. That was to be a harbinger of things to come for Sunday's ride. Rachel (Chris's girlfriend) came and picked Chris up and they headed to her grandma's house in Jamestown for the night. I wandered around Allegheny College for a little bit after they left before calling Mike. He walked down to meet me, I walked up to meet him, we met halfway, we headed back to his place.

I was able to get a nice shower and finally eat some real food after a day of Clif Bars, Clif Shot, and Clif Shot Bloks (along with plenty of water and electrolytes). Jenny made some great pasta salad and Mike's mom brought some awesome bean soup. We went and fired off some rockets with Mike's dad and the kids, and I also got to play Wii for the first time ever. My shoulder is still sore. And my Wii Fit age is 42. What's up with that?

Chris and I got off to a better start on Sunday. No flat tires, no bathroom lines to worry about. I even ran into my good friend/ex-coworker Jon before things got underway. Pretty amazing considering all of the people running around.

We actually left somewhere in the middle of the pack. It's funny, because we didn't really get a sense as to how many people were riding when we left the day before because we were already so far behind the group when we got started. As I mentioned before, I was pretty sore, and getting back on the saddle wasn't too awesome. Still, once I settled in, I was mostly okay.

Chris, on the other hand, maybe because it was his birthday, had received a second wind. He was pretty much in front of me for most of the day, which is the opposite of the first day. The terrain for the second day was a lot more even, and through the 40 mile mark, which took us to the lunch rest stop, we were averaging 18.7 mph, with high 20s on the flats.

After that rest stop, though, we hit this span of twelve miles or so that was just hell. The worst stretch of either day, as far as I was concerned. It was all constant ups and downs (more ups than downs), and a headwind that kept our speed at about 12 mph even when we were on flats. And I was still in some serious pain. If I wasn't riding with someone, I might have just wussed out and taken the sag wagon for awhile.

We finally got to the last rest stop at about 52 miles and just sat in the shade for awhile. After that, the last 13 miles were much better, and I was glad that I stayed in it. I would have hated for Chris to have to finish on his own, and really, I would have felt like a big jerk. When we got to Conneaut, there were lots of people waiting at the finish line, clapping for everyone as they passed. It really felt great to finish.

Rachel drove up to get us, and the three of us walked around Lake Erie for a bit before heading back to Pittsburgh. They dropped me off at home, I got a shower, and then the four of us met up again at P.F. Chang's at the Waterfront for dinner. It was a pretty great day, all things considered, and an awesome weekend.

In the aftermath, I've already picked up a new saddle that will hopefully prevent the issues I had over the weekend. I rode it to work yesterday, and it felt pretty good, but then the saddle that came with my bike was also fine for commuting distances.

I'm going to have to take this one out for a fifty or sixty mile ride sometime soon and see how it feels. It's nice that Trek/Bontrager gives you 90 days to try it out and make sure it works for you. I really hope it works out. I can't wait to do the ride again next year, but I'd like to cut out some of the pain and suffering of the second day if at all possible.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

La la la.

The ride in this morning was chilly. Windy, too. Quite a change from yesterday, when it was 66° and humid. I kinda liked yesterday. I don't mind the humidity so much, and it was nice to be able to ride in with just a short sleeve shirt. This morning I was back to a long sleeve with the windbreaker on top.

Still, I'm not going to actually complain about it. Sure it was 42°, but at least it wasn't raining. It was actually quite sunny, and the ride home tonight looks to be more sun, and probably cool. And most likely windy. It seems like it's been really windy this spring.

I said goodbye to an old (well, only a year old) friend yesterday. I dropped off my Sirrus at my friend Chris's house last night. He bought it from me to give to another friend of his as a housewarming/here's a bike now you can ride it kind of present. I felt a little bit bad about selling it. I put 3,000 miles on that bike in just over a year. It certainly did what it was supposed to do, and it did it well.

That said, I'm loving the Portland. I've put close to 400 miles on it already, and I've only had it since the beginning of the month. On Sunday (June 1) I'm doing the 62 mile Ride for 65 Roses at Settler's Cabin Park, and then the following weekend is the MS-150.

Speaking of the MS-150, if you haven't donated to someone else already, would you mind sponsoring me? Click Here. Many thanks!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Some things about the new bike.

Picked up the new bike on Thursday, and I've managed to put over 100 miles on it, thanks to round trips to work on Friday and today, as well as two rides over the weekend. Not bad. I rode it around Thursday night when I got home, too, but didn't have the computer set up yet, so I can't provide data for that ride. I'm really surprised that I went out without getting that in order first. That's not really like me.

So far it's doing really well, although there's a little clackity noise when I'm in the middle chain ring on the front. Some sort of chain tension issue? I'm wondering if the rear derailer needs to be adjusted or something. I'm going to stop at Pro Bike tomorrow on the way home from work and see what they think. I don't have a repair stand at home, so it's not really easy to try to reproduce and get an idea of what's happening.

It's definitely quicker on flats, and it climbs really well, too. I find I'm able to stay up in the third ring a lot more than I could on my Sirrus, and my average speed on flats is probably 1-1.5mph faster, which is pretty awesome. I've already taken three minutes off of my commute into work, which is mostly flat to gentle ascent (with a real nice downhill for the first few miles).

Anyway, yeah. I love it. I have no regrets about shelling out for it, and it looks like I have a buyer for the Sirrus, too, so I'll even get to recoup some of the cost pretty quickly. I still need to get my butt in gear and start listing some CDs on eBay to further offset the cost. I mean, it's not like it's unaffordable or anything. But those CDs have been sitting in a box in the basement for a long time, and this would be a really good excuse to actually try to get them out of the house in exchange for some cash.

Oh. Another thing about the bike: shifting is ridiculously smooth. And easy. Doesn't bother my thumb at all, which seems to be pretty much all healed anyway at this point.

np:NOFX:Bleeding Heart Disease

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Okay, I lied.

Umm... so yeah. In that last post I said something about me not buying a new bike this year. Tell that to the guy who bought a 2007 Trek Portland this evening.

I had been looking pretty hard at the 7.7 FX, but the guys at Pittsburgh Pro Bikes showed me the Portland, and explained how awesome disc brakes would be for a commuter bike. I rode a couple different sizes around, and the 52cm was a good fit. I rode the 7.6 FX, too (they didn't have any 7.7s in stock), and I was happier with the ride on the Portland.

I really lucked out in that they had one 2007 still in stock and it was a 52cm. The burnt orange looks waaaaay better than the pearl ecru of the 2008. Since the 2007 was $175 less, I'm getting the drop bars swapped out for a straight bar and changing out the aluminum seatpost for carbon and it'll still cost me less than a 2008 would have cost.

With any luck they'll have it built before the weekend. Of course, the weather looks crappy for the weekend anyway, but things can change pretty quick around here.

Also: Go Pens! Up 3-0 on the Rangers. I don't think that was expected.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Mailed our PA and Federal tax returns last week. Did our local taxes this afternoon. We didn't owe Munhall anything, so that's good. Too bad we owed the Feds so much this year.

I had had dreams of using our Federal return to maybe upgrade my bike (i.e. get a new one), but then we ended up owing about twice what we got back last year, because we both screwed up when we filled out our W-4s after switching to new jobs. That's been rectified. We might not get much of a refund next year, but we shouldn't owe, either. I'm going to have to keep track of things as the year goes on to make sure we don't need to have more withheld, or set some extra cash aside somewhere or something like that.

We got kind of lucky this year, because we owed all that money, but Heather also got reimbursed for a class she took last fall, so that all went to help pay the taxes. We still had to shell out a lot when we weren't expecting to, but it didn't hurt as bad as it could have.

The end result is that no return = no new bike. And that's fine. My Sirrus has over 3,000 miles on it, and it's had relatively few issues to speak of. I just bought some new pedals on eBay for half of the MSRP on the Crank site.

I've been using the Candy C's for almost a year now, and I like them and all, but I had initially bought them with this crazy idea that sometimes I might want to ride without bike shoes, and as such the platforms would come in handy. I have found that I've never really wanted to ride without bike shoes, and even if I did, the Candys came with these cool little plastic platforms that you can clip onto the the pedals, for regular, non-cleat riding, so I'll always have those. I might see if I can get $20 or something for the old pedals on eBay. Hell. Even $10 would be fine.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

First Post!

I was sort of getting sick of my LiveJournal. I never read any of my friends posts, and most of the people who ended up commenting on my stuff weren't LJ users anyway. And I didn't feel like paying to renew my membership benefits.

So. New place.

After a week, I think I am almost over my cold/flu/bronchitis/etc... I went to the doctor today. He gave me a prescription for Albuterol (a.k.a. Ventolin to help with my chest congestion. He also said the thumb thing is most likely tendonitis. He gave me a prescription for Motrin to help with that.

I also have to get my cholesterol checked again, because it was high when I had it checked last January. I'll be interested to see if it's gone down much since switching to the vegan diet. I would hope so, anyway. I mean, I've probably cut about 600 pounds of cheese out of my diet. That has to count for something.

Skipping hockey tonight so as to aid my continued recovery. That basically sucks because I missed last week, too. Now I only have four classes left. I need to sign up for a league soon. Or something.