I'm For Bikes!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Turning 40-something + My Amazing Day

This post is a little bit delayed, but I'm old now so it's okay.

Actually, I was old before but as of Friday I'm a year older (I was born in 1967, you do the math. I'm too old.) so I'm entitled to move a little slower.

Nah, I'm just making up excuses. I found out my duathlon scheduled for July 23rd has been postponed and I'm really bummed. I know I shouldn't let something so trivial take the wind out of my sails, but it has.

Don't worry. I'll get over it.

I'm going out of town this weekend because my niece, who is now a senior (as in high school, not as in old like me), is going on a college visit to my alma mater, Southwestern U.

Can I just say..? I LOVE THIS SCHOOL!!! I got a lot of opportunities there I might not have gotten anywhere else, not to mention meeting and becoming lifelong friends with some of the most amazing people I know. My niece could probably go to any school she wanted (yes, she's just that kind of kid - but in a cool good way, not a nerdy drive-you-crazy way. Not that I know anyone like that.), but I hope SU appeals to her. It's an awesome place to be.
My Amazing Day
The Patriot Guard Riders were asked to provide an escort today for a USMC veteran and former judge who passed away this week. The size of our group varies depending on the day and time we're requested so it's hard to know who is going to be at any particular mission. Most of the guys in the group are veterans and I, as a non-military person - am awed just being in their presence.
Standing in the flag line at the Veterans Cemetery

One of the things I love most about these guys is how humble and unassuming they are. You would never know just by talking to them some of the horrific things they went through and some of the heroic things they did in their respective wars.

One of the men I met on Friday, who was also there today, is a perfect example of this. His name is Robert, but I call him SpyderMan because he rides a Can-Am Spyder (a three-wheeler). We had a little down time today while waiting outside the church so I sat down next to him and we started chatting. He is an INCREDIBLE man. It wasn't until I was able to sit and talk one-on-one with him that I noticed a few things:
  • He did THREE tours in Vietnam
  • He was awarded the Purple Heart
  • He was awarded the Bronze Star
  • He was wounded in battle and lost his left leg above the knee
  • He has two small dogs, one of whom he rescued from a jerk mechanic who neglected her
  • He walks his dogs every night with the help of a small red scooter
Of all the things I learned, what do you think we spent the most time talking about?

That's right - HIS DOGS!!! This man is a decorated war hero, and he spent about 20 minutes showing me pictures of his dogs and telling me stories about them. Most of this other stuff I found out when I looked him up online (in a non-stalkerish kind of way, of course).

It just doesn't get more awesome than that.
Vietnam War Hero

Don't get me wrong - it's not like I think all these guys do is walk around talking about their war experiences or bragging about their medals. I guess my point is, this is typical of the kind of selflessness that permeates the members of this group. They are there to honor a fellow brother (or sister) in arms, to show their respect for his (or her) service, then go quietly home to their every day lives.

Being able to stand with them and show my respect is an honor for me, and I am proud to be a member of this group.
Preparing for the honor escort

Yes, this was an amazing day.

My baby all dressed in PGR gear

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Slapdash Saturday

  •  I spent yesterday morning with a group of some of the most awesome people I know - my fellow Patriot Guard Riders. We got a notification that a local Army veteran who had been in a car accident on Jun. 20th succumbed to his injuries and passed away on July 2 at age 67. His funeral was yesterday and we had a pretty good group of about 15 riders there to provide an honor escort for the  procession from the funeral home to the church, then to the cemetery. I was, as always, humbled to be in the presence of these wonderful people who give up their time willingly to see a fellow brother (or sister) in arms get the honor and respect they deserve. (You can see photos of the PGR on some of our missions here.)
Bikes of the PGR

  • I spent the evening with some of my favorite people, my family, who treated me to a birthday dinner at a WONDERFUL Mexican restaurant called Costa Messa. Fantastic food, fantastic company, fantastic night. 
Nom nom nom
  •  I was supposed to go riding this morning, but a) I overslept due to the food coma I was in after dinner and 2) I'm quite sunburned from the PGR event yesterday. It was 90+ degrees yesterday and we stood in the sun for a while...plus, the ride there and back (the funeral was about 45 minutes from my house). 
The reverse raccoon look is in
  •  I think today would be a good day for me to try out those Specialized shoes on the spinner and see if they feel any better than the Sidis. I probably need to stay out of the sun today.

  • Fourteen days until the duathlon my Marine and I will be racing!! We're both excited!!
My Marine in training. Hopefully he'll leave the gun behind during the race...
  • TOTALLY bummed about Team RadioShack's ultra bad luck during the Tour de France. WOW. I know a lot of people don't like them [insert reason here] but I do. I like the rivalry between the US teams (HTC, Garmin, BMC, RS) and am a little bit fascinated by Lay-oh-pard Trek, but RS is by far my favorite. I even got these nifty little bar-end plugs to show my support:
If only I had the Madone to go with these!

I got a shot of Riley doing her penguin-pup impression (I love it when she sits like this. So cute!):

Bailey is looking better every day:

Casey is being camera shy lately so here's one of my favorite pics of her from the archives:

My TdF fantasy team isn't doing so hot:

I dropped =/- 4000 places after yesterday's stage. Ouch.
Neither is this one:

Had to make some transfers after yesterday's disaster

I got some goodies the other day:

Excited to try the Honey Stinger waffles!
Planning a longer ride for tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Today's Ride + A Couple Of Product Reviews

Ride Stats:
Distance: 18.09 miles
Time: 1:30:00 (approx.)

MAN was I tired today! I got up plenty early and got the dogs taken care of, but for some unknown reason took my time getting ready, ate a PB&J, folded some laundry, watched a little bit of the Tour...next thing I knew it was way after 7, getting hotter, and the wind was picking up.

Oh, well. My own damn fault.Suck it up.

I took it easy and headed west for about a half mile, getting my legs warmed up before turning south into the wind. It was pushing against me pretty hard but I decided to push back and not give in to it. I was actually impressed - my avg. speed was about 15.8! Maybe having that PB&J and some cold water before the ride gave me a little extra oomph. 

When I turned due east the wind was still pretty strong but I kept on pushing. I don't like wind, but I know I have to deal with it - it's either that or spend time on the spinner and right now I'd rather be outside.

I turned south again and hit the Bicentennial St. overpass (a whopping height of 143 ft) for my first "real climb" of the day. After punishing myself with that brutal climb - against the wind, mind you - I headed out to the "Hill from Hell", the gradual slope that is my nemesis. When I've been riding a lot and am in better shape, I totally rule that thing.

Today, not so much. I managed to get to the top without stopping, but it was close. Always a good indicator of how much work I need to do.

I don't know if I bonked or what, but after my second "climb" (2nd St. overpass at a whopping 139 ft.) I just flat ran out of energy. I even stopped and had some Cherry Blossom Honey Stingers (part 1 of upcoming product review) but I was wiped. Funny, because the wind was once again my friend and helping push me home, but I had no desire to take advantage of it and power on. I cruised along the bike trail and took it easy. Guess it was just one of those days.

Lots of green after our recent rain

City crews out mowing

I really like this bike path

I'm wondering if maybe my legs were tired out from last night's C25K workout, and that concerns me. Am I really that much of a wimp?? Right now I'm alternating rides and runs, but I would like to be able to do both on the same day. Is this the part where I'm supposed to be patient and not get discouraged?

Bottom line: a so-so ride, but I got it done.

No thumbs up today.

Now, to the fun stuff - product reviews. 
(Disclaimer - I am doing these reviews on my own, with products I bought with my own money. The companies involved have NOT contacted me or asked me in any way to review their products. I'm just naturally generous that way.)

Product #1 - Honey Stingers Cherry Blossom Chews

OMG!!! LOVE these! I found some in my goodie jar among the SportBeans and ShotBloks so I decided to try them today on my ride. Holy crap, I wanted to eat them all at once. These things are seriously good. They didn't upset my stomach (big plus) and I felt they actually gave me a little extra kick during a difficult part of my ride. The only complaint I have is that they were kinda slimy coming out of the bag - not sure if that was due to the heat or if they're naturally that way, but it made me not want to touch them. Instead I squeezed them out of the package one at a time so my hands wouldn't get all sticky. I really liked the consistency of them (aside from the slime) as I was chewing, and the flavor was AWESOME. I will definitely be trying other flavors and Honey Stinger products. I've heard people swear by the waffles, so those are next if I can find them. 

Product #2 - Gomadic Handlebar Holder for HTC Evo

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a gadget freak. I've been trying to figure out a way to carry my phone (Evo 4g) with me on rides and be able to access it easily, mainly because I use the iMapMyRide app to track my rides via the phone's GPS. I've been carrying the phone in a stem bag, but the bag I use is very floppy and won't stay in place - plus, it's really hard (and dangerous) for me to get the phone out to stop and start the  app if I need to. I searched for something I could mount to my handlebars and found the Gomadic on Amazon for $29.75 (total incl. tax).

I was SUPER excited when I pulled it out of the box, because although it's not heavy, it feels solid. I went to install it on my bike and...


The mount was not wide enough to fit my 31.8mm handlebars. My fault for not paying close enough attention to the description, which clearly states it fits 13-28mm bars.


HOWEVER, not to be deterred, I took the entire gadget to Home Depot with Sig, and she helped me find a longer screw for it. Got it home and woooooo! It works! If you have 31.8mm handlebars and want to get one of these, go to your local hardware store and find a screw that is .4mm diameter and 50mm long and it will work just fine. The side clamps are adjustable so this can be used for iPhones and others as well. The description says it will also work on a motorcycle...not sure I'd want to use this at highway speeds, but it might be useful if I ever need a GPS on a trip.

I played around with it, making sure it was nice and tight, then took it on my ride today. One thing for sure, the convenience of having my phone so accessible scores MAJOR points for this thing. No, it's not the most aerodynamic thing around, but it's not like I'm looking to break any speed records here. I was able to check my ride details very easily and didn't have to worry about fumbling and dropping my expensive phone on the road.

A couple of things I noticed that weren't so great:
  1. There are 4 little arms on this thing, 2 on the top and 2 on the bottom, that are supposed to help keep the phone secure. The ones on the top are useless for me, since my Evo is quite a bit taller than the back of the unit. The bottom ones worked as long as I didn't go over any bumps, but when I did, the phone would pop up a little bit and no longer was sitting on the arms (this might be because I have the Evo in a very slim protective case). Luckily, the side clamps are very strong and helped keep the phone from slipping down and out of the holder. Next ride, I'm going to put a strong rubber band around the phone to keep it more secure. I would like to see slightly longer arms on the bottom to keep things secure even when using a protective case with the phone.
  2. It rattles around a little bit when going over bumps. I have it as tight as I can and still get some noise. It's not that big of a deal to me as long as nothing vibrates off.
All in all, I am very pleased with this little gadget after one ride. The other cool thing is, Gomadic also offers a lifetime warranty. I hope I don't need it, but I'm glad to know it's there. I also love that no tools are necessary to install/uninstall it, so I can move it from bike to bike if I want to.

So there you go - a bike ride and two product reviews in one post. Can you say "overachiever"?  :-)

Pics of the Gomadic on my bike

Side view

Top view - facing the front of the bike. Note the little arms, which are useless

Bottom view - those little arms just aren't long enough

Rider's POV

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

50% Good, 50% Not So Much

Good: Went to Olive Garden for lunch and ate more salad than fettucine Alfredo. Brought the other 1/2 of the portion home for lunch tomorrow (NOT easy for me to do!)

Not so much: REALLY want to eat that portion now. It's 10:00p.m.

Good: Did the Couch to 5K workout tonight as planned. Didn't bail.

Not so much: Couldn't take the dogs for their usual walk after the run. Why? Wait for it...

Good: Bailey had her last mange treatment today and was pronounced cured...BUT...

Not so much: Discovered when we got home that Bailey is in heat again. WTF?? It's only been 4 months!!

Good: We have a local low-cost spay/neuter clinic that will do the operation.

Not so much: Usual cost is $75 but will be $10 extra because she's in heat. Still better than having puppies we can't afford, though.

Good (?): Trying to get her an appointment for next week.

Not so much: Dog walks will be limited until this is taken care of. Too many loose male dogs in the neighborhood.

Good: Spoke with my Marine to make sure he was still available for the team duathlon (17 DAYS!!!!) and we're still on.

Not so much: He is being deployed on January 1. I know it's what he wants, but it's still scary.

Good: Found a duathlon scheduled for Oct. 2nd and my Marine said he's very interested in teaming up with me again. 

Not so much: I was thinking I might do this one on my own, but it's a 5K/15/5K and I'm not sure I'll be at that level by then. So...I'm excited Marine Mark will be racing with me; I hope to one day be able to do one of these on my own.

Two thoughts fighting for dominance in my head tonight.
  1. How on EARTH do people run miles and miles? I can't even run ONE!
  2. Well, they had to start somewhere. KEEP GOING!!! 
Things I need to make myself do:
  1. Be more consistent - Bike, run, and core training
  2. Stop coming up with excuses NOT to do the above
Simple enough, right?

It's amazing how my own head gets in my way sometimes.