Short update to clean the decks of the 3 most recent rides.

#bikehour streak is still alive, going strong after 13 days.

Tuesday (1/27/2015) I rode 18.3 miles, this time here up north on the paved trails with good friend and long-time riding buddy Mr. V. Incredibly, this was the first time I’d ridden with Mr. V in a quarter of a year. We took advantage of the springlike day to get in a nice ride from our office, to the trail, about 9 miles out and back.

Wednesday (1/28/2015) I got in an 11.6 mile morning ride in Ottawa. The same “airport road” route I’ve taken a time or two previously. I want to say it was about 35-40 degrees with a little colder windchill.

Thursday (1/29/2015) I got in a 13 mile evening ride in Ottawa. Around 40 degrees. Rode up to Forest Park, and around the ~1 mile loop there about 3-4 times, then out and some meandering miles up north before heading east on Sand Creek, back to Montana/Davis, then 68 highway and 59/Main back home.

Streak stands strong after 13 days, and we’re not going anywhere. Just getting started. The average daily mileage is still only 13.9, but considering the colder weather and just re-entering “the game” after allowing myself to fall off a cliff, I’m quite content with rate of progress. Soon, the numbers will be coming up.

Next “milestone” will be mid-next week, when I pass the longest consecutive streak that I’ve ever ridden, which is 18 days. In that 18 day streak, there were several longer days (20, 25, 30, I think a 60) although also a few 1, 2, 3 milers. I’m already on my longest personal streak of consecutive 10+ mile days.

Weather this weekend is looking pretty iffy, so I will be keeping a close eye on that and planning accordingly.

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#bikehour – 1/26/2015

January 26, 2015

Nothing overly exciting to report from today’s ride, except that the streak has pushed into double digits, today being day 10.

Started out at 4:45 AM, in Ottawa. Rode the identical route to Saturday – up to Princeton and back. I’d forgotten the other day to mention that the route back included the short diversion upon Labette Rd by Wally World, then down by the graveyard and back. This gets it to 18.3 miles. Straight to Princeton and back would have been ~16 miles.

Temperature was about 28-30 degrees to start. Wore the faux wool top, yellow wind/rain jacket, leggings, and the full winter gloves. Wore the Craft overshoes. No balaclava.

I continue to discern gradual progress. I’m definitely getting back in tune with the bike now, as has been the case for the last 5 or so rides in the series. The first 5, I was still fighting it and trying to get back in the groove. Cardio is coming along, the arm weariness thing is rapidly ebbing away. Now only muscle endurance and cardio remain the major barriers, and I am pushing hard against those with the riding every day, good healthy diet, and gym.

Notable music: Lots of gothy goodness today. First song was one of Gary Numan’s seemingly dozens of versions of “Down in the Park”. Also coming over the airwaves during the ride was Depeche Mode “Suffer Well”, Perfect Circle’s “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums”, and some NIN song I hadn’t previously heard but liked. There was another couple songs I’d not heard before but liked a lot. All wove together to provide a great soundtrack to the very-dark, cold, early morning ride.

Two more successful days logged in the streak, which now stands at 9.

Last few days have been a rollercoaster series of “highs” for the still-very-young streak:

Friday’s ride was the coldest on the streak to date (around 18-20 degrees).

Saturday’s was the longest on the streak to date (18.3 miles).

Sunday’s was the windiest and also rainiest on the streak to date.

The wind Sunday morning was bananas. Having looked ahead at the forecast, I knew it was going to be windy all day, and that the earlier start I could get, the better. Even at 5 AM, wind was already a sustained 15-20 mph with very strong gusts; and later on it was only heavier. I got rolling around 6:20 AM. The plan was to ride north on 59 to Sand Creek, go west a mile or two, double back, cross over 59 on Sand Creek, then south on Montana/Davis and back. Fundamentally the same rectangle I did on, I think, day 1.

With the wind coming strongly from the WNW, I knew that paradoxically, there wasn’t really going to be ANY part of today’s ride where I wouldn’t battle it, and that turned out true.

Immediately on my way north out of town, I felt the wind. The first half mile or so it didn’t seem that awesome, but it soon imposed itself. After probably 1.5 miles, sheets of cold rain were falling nearly horizontally on me from the west (my left) in the dark as I climbed over the overpass north of town. There was NO traffic out, which was a blessing, because tacking against the wind resulted in a jagged course for me.

At times the wind felt like a physical force pressing against my entire body like a giant hand. But that wasn’t as unpleasant as the huge gusts that would rise up and attempt to push me over. At least half a dozen times on the ride (no exaggeration) I said “good God” out loud in response to these blasts.

I reached Sand Creek, gradually, the rain still coming down, occasionally stinging my leg or face. As planned, I turned west, but this leg of the trip was even harder than the difficulty I knew awaited me. I was going *mostly* directly into the wind, and from time to time huge gusts would attempt to either undercut my bike, taking the tires out from below me, or else push me directly over. It was anything but pleasant and yet still, a spark of joy remained 🙂 I was proud that I was sticking it out in these conditions and going through the streak. One thought ran through my head that on future rando days, I may well have to battle dozens of miles of this. Another thought, very early on in the ride was that if I didn’t have this streak going, no way in HELL would I have gotten out at 6 AM on a morning like this to ride (and later would have been even worse, from a wind perspective, although not rain).

So after only a short distance (maybe a mile, or less) on Sand Creek, I doubled back to take it east to Montana. This was the most “wind-friendly” part of the ride (also the rain had let up around halfway to Montana), but as mentioned above, it wasn’t carefree. Owing to the direction and intensity of wind, even on this portion the wind occasionally tried to push me over or take out my tires. I made it with relatively good time (sometimes simply coasting and concentrating on keeping the bike upright instead of introducing instability with pedaling) to Montana, and turned down.

Realizing I would arrive home with a shade under 10, I turned off of 68 highway about halfway to 59, for another little loop north and then back east. Repeat in microcosm form the earlier part of the ride. Battle hard northward; when finally turn east, get pushed along like a locomotive albeit one that tries to knock you over with the occasional blast from the side; then turn south.

I did make it home without incident, though not without a few jolts of adrenaline, ending with 12 miles and an average speed of 12 mph in these crazy conditions.

What a contrast had been Saturday evening’s ride. I’d set out at 4:30 PM into what literally was like a spring day. Shorts, my red T-shirt (!) and fingerless (!) gloves. It was niiiice – like an early preview of spring. I opted for a straightforward ride to Princeton and back, totaling 18.3 miles. Wind was pretty strong, from the SSW, so I was pushing into a decent headwind at first but then had a decent tailwind to end. Upon reaching my familiar haunt of Subway at ride’s end I found myself wanting to ride a lot more, but a) I’d not brought the headlights, knowing that I would finish before dark, and b) I knew that I had this beastly Sunday morning windy ride to contend with and wanted to keep my legs fresh. Again, I’m in this for the long haul and am not overly concerned about turning in “short” (air quotes because it’s all relative) rides for a little while as I lose weight, gain fitness and the body gets the full message about what it’s in for.

With 9 straight days of 10+ mile rides in the bank, I think I’ve either equalled, beaten or am about to beat 🙂 my all-time best. After another few days I know I’ll be there. For total mileage, the current streak can’t compete with past efforts, not yet. I’ve got 120 miles in 9 days, an average of only 13.3 per day. However, over time, the average will most certainly expand… 🙂

So, two lessons were learned today, and fortunately neither one carried major ramifications.

The first was experienced shortly after leaving the house. Somehow – and still not real sure what occurred here – I misread or misunderstood the hourly forecast on my phone. I thought I would be riding in roughly 26-28 degrees. Therefore I dressed accordingly. Similar to yesterday, but with the thicker wool socks, and also with the heavier winter gloves. Sadly, almost immediately I realized “hey, this feels colder than 26.” I passed a bank clock in town that said 20. I thought “nahhh, must be wrong.” A mile or so later, a second bank clock. This one said, I think, 18 or 19. Ok…..and on the return trip to the house, the first clock actually had dropped by a degree, and my weather app was now informing me it was 20 degrees. My water bottle (from which I didn’t drink on the ride) was very icy – a first for me on this streak. I’m surprised to report that, even on short bike rides, the difference between 18-20 degrees and 26-28 degrees is quite noticeable.

Definitely the coldest ride for me on this current streak.

The second lesson was shortly to come. And that is: when riding in pre-dawn darkness, on dark country roads, make *sure* your headlights are good & charged up. I run 2 rechargeable Li-ion headlights. One has a shorter, 2ish hour life at max brightness, the other about 4 or so. I charged these (probably not 100%) a couple days ago and assumed I still had enough juice. I was wrong. Light #1 died on me probably 2 miles into the ride, leaving only the one (less bright although longer-lived) light. From the gauge on THAT one, though, I could see it was quite low. During the darkest stretch of the ride (very little ambient light), when I had the light on high, it switched itself to low and stayed there – a sure sign it didn’t have a lot of life left. Not a great feeling when it’s so dark your visibility is much shorter than your reaction time.

The one good thing is that I wasn’t intending to do much more than the 10 mile minimum, anyway. I am in this for the very long haul and want to build up gradually, making sure the body is getting the message that this every-day riding thing is the norm and especially that it must do this along with regular gym sessions, which I attended again today. So I planned the “airport road” route that I did a couple days ago, which would get about 10.5 miles. With the headlight situation though, I decided to cut it somewhat short and, only several seconds past the 5-mile point in the ride, turned back for home. I ended with 10.2 miles.

In all, not the most enjoyable ride ever, primarily a combination of a) being colder than I thought I’d be (I would have worn a balaclava had I known the actual temp, plus I just would have been mentally more prepared and b) the dread of my lights dying while I was out on dark roads, including a couple of highway-shoulder miles. The ride was ok – and as a friend once remarked, the worst day on the bike beats the best day at work – but, certainly not my finest hour.

But, it all works for the better. I learned two important lessons, extended the streak to 7 days, and got to ride my bike for a while. Who can complain.

I’m not 100% sure but I think my personal best for consecutive 10+ mile days is around 8. So with rides on Saturday and Sunday, I will probably be at a new best streak for me. If not, then certainly early next week.

Notable music: u2 “Sometimes You Can’t Make it on Your Own” was first song up. This one has always reminded me of my dad. A Geoff Tate-sang version of Welcome to the Machine followed that, which I’d never heard before. “No More Lies” by Iron Maiden was playing during the darkest stretch of the ride, which with a little smile I thought would be more appropriate as “No More Light”. “One” by u2 (a live version) was playing as I returned home.

Also, just clarifying my intentions RE: #bikehour – it’s not necessarily the plan to log a writeup about every single ride in the streak. I’m hoping to do that for as many of them as time allows, because most bike rides bring about a thought, an idea, or a development that I find worthwhile, but I don’t necessarily mean to do one every day.

Extended the streak to 6 days today, although I still cannot claim it’s real easy for me, yet.

Got in 10.7 miles.

Start time and conditions were pretty much identical to yesterday. Around 4:30-5 AM, in Ottawa, and start temp roughly 26-28 degrees. Wore same outfit but this time forgot lip balm, and felt its absence pretty early on the ride.  Otherwise, generally pretty comfy.  Feet *slightly* chilly but not bad.  I recently bought a much thicker pair of wool socks which I will employ on colder rides (or same temp + longer mileage).

The route was a somewhat disjointed one. South a few blocks to 15th street, east on that, past the graveyard and over some rollers. This road has some rollers and some gradients, but alas only goes for a few miles before the pavement turns to hard rocky gravel. I’m not enthused to take my current bike over that, so the planned route was to approach this border, then turn back, then down the road by the graveyard, which loops up and around, by Wal Mart, and then Main St (59) back home. That’s what I did.

Only 10.7 miles but it wasn’t the easiest. For one, the rollers at the start took some out of me. For two, probably more significantly, went to gym yesterday for first time in some weeks. Differently from my customary routine, I went in the EVENING, after work. I was blown away by how much harder the workout felt ( = unpleasant) after a hard day’s work, contrasted with pre-work morning workout. I got through it fine, but was tired after, and then this morning, having only 12 or so hours elapsed versus 24 hours had to have an effect.

Again, as with the bike aspect itself, easier times are coming, and the body is just going through an adapting period.

A good segue to inventory the challenges I recognized in returning to fitness from the condition I was in, and where I am now with those.

Following my descent into depression, horrible eating, and just general disinterest following my mom’s passing, I reached a pretty sorry state fitness-wise. Among the challenges I knew faced me were overcoming the apathy and finding the enthusiasm again; finding the “courage” or confidence to ride again in public while feeling like I probably look out there like I am working as hard as I am; muscular endurance and cardio; the sheer weight itself; and, one which I didn’t realize was specifically how weary my arms would be in supporting my heavier frame on the bike which it was unaccustomed to doing.

Fast forward 6 daily rides now. The arm weariness thing is MUCH better. Certainly the apathy has been put to pasture and the enthusiasm is back. Similarly I no longer have the same dread of riding in public that I felt (progressively more strongly) during my descent. Together, those were THE biggest hurdle, actually. The weight itself – well, it’s coming around, of course, and will be gradual. I can feel the last several days that I am moving in the right direction.

Now we’re mostly down to cardio and muscular endurance – the legs being willing to keep working consistently over the course of steadily longer rides and day after day, and the cardio/stamina to improve apace so that the energy is there. Right now this represents the biggest limitation. But like the others, I’ll get there! Easier days are coming. The magic of being able to hop on the bike and ride X miles over more/less any terrain is not terribly far away. Maybe weeks, maybe even a couple months – but I’m reeling it back.

Notable music: “Control” by VNV Nation was the first song Pandora gave me. Probably my least favorite song on my most favorite album of theirs, so, there ya go. Some hitherto unknown, very cool song that mixed drum and bass with choir-style vocals came on and was awesome. Another Nephilim song, this one slower and quieter, provided the wind-down soundtrack to my return to the house. Musically the highlight was undoubtedly “The Scientist” by Coldplay, which came on roughly midway. “Nobody said it was easy / No one ever said it would be this hard / Oh take me back to the start.” Perfectly appropriate for this rebuilding era I’m working hard to graduate from.

#bikehour for 1/20 and 1/21 are in the books. Up to five days now of minimum-10-mile rides.

Tuesday 1/20: day 4 of streak.

Got in 10.6 miles. Started out around 4:30-5 AM, in Ottawa. Rode a simple southerly route that I refer to as “airport road”. 59 south to an east turn on Rock Creek Road, one mile there and then a southerly turn onto Montana road, which here acts as a frontage road running beside a small, private-plane airport. Just over a mile to the airport, and return.

Legs felt pretty heavy and leaden, and yet, paradoxically, empty, to start and really for most of ride. That hilly 16.8 mile ride the prior day pushed me. Again, keep in mind the context here. I have in the past, and will once again, be able to ride a hilly 60-70 miles without much issue, but right now, after a *long* fall from those good habits, I am in rebuilding mode.

Gear note to self: Temperature was 32 degrees at start. Wardrobe was the faux-wool top, over which the light rain/wind jacket. Shorts (no leggings), faux-wool socks, and the black full fingered gloves. I felt quite comfortable and never got cold or hot.

I also wore, for the first time, my newest purchase – a pair of Craft brand cycling shoe-cover booties. In a future blog post I will share a picture or two and a small writeup. These certainly helped to keep my feet pretty comfortable. Granted that at 10.6 miles it was a shorter ride.

Notable music: I am writing this 36 hours later and honestly cannot recall exactly what came onto my Pandora mix station on this ride. I do recall exactly one song, which I like a lot, but I don’t know its title…not exactly helpful 🙂

Wednesday 1/21: day 5 of streak.

12.4 mile ride. Noteworthy is that this is the first one of the streak in which I began once again to feel in tune with the bike, versus fighting it. This is a feeling (a wonderful one) that I was familiar with prior to my long hiatus, and which I’ve not felt in several weeks, probably closing in on 3 months. Great feeling, like wearing an old comfortable pair of jeans once again.

I traced a route fairly similar to the one from, I think it was, #bikehour day 1. More or less reversed course, plus an extra mile or two. Up north to 68 Highway, east a few miles to the Wal Mart distribution center, one small loop in their parking lot and then back; then up Montana/Davis, to Sand Creek, back to 59 Highway and back.

I started at same time as yesterday – roughly 4:30-5 AM. This time, at about 28 degrees versus 32 yesterday, it *felt* noticeably colder. Gear note to self – I wore the exact same outfit today as yesterday (plus remembered to apply lip balm!) and it worked fine – but if the temp were maybe 4-5 degrees colder, OR if wind were a little more forthright, OR if the ride were perhaps 5+ miles longer, specifically the hands might have been getting chilly. Now I find myself wanting yet a third pair of winter riding gloves, in between the full-fingered black ones (which I wore here) and the full-on winter gloves (which I’ve worn in 20-degree weather with single-digit windchills and felt comfortable). This “middle pair”, if I can find & acquire the right ones, will add a new layer of flexibility in terms of outside temp, wind chill and ride length.

I continued to discern notable progress on this ride. My legs were quite a bit livelier than yesterday, I felt less like stopping to take a break, arms were a lot less weary, etc. Things are moving exactly in the direction they need to be.

I can’t wait to ride again tomorrow.

Notable music: “Walls” by Tom Petty started the show. This song’s lyrics has always reminded me of my mom. An EPICLY long song by Fields of the Nephilim (I think it is “For Her Light”) carried me through a huge portion of the ride. It literally felt like this song was playing for half of the ride. Pictures of You by the Cure, another longtime favorite, came on in the last minute or so and was still playing when I reached home.

#bikehour – 1/19/2015

January 20, 2015

Marginal, gradual progress, and improvement. That’s what we’re after. And that’s what I discerned on today’s ride.

Chose a route that I’ve done only one or MAYBE two other times ever. The first (possibly only) time accounted for what is to this day the most unpleasant ride I’ve ever had. This was early in my bike “career”, when my style was still nascent and when I had yet to learn a LOT of things I know now. Among them, nutrition and hydration, and the proper (for me) method of ascending hills. I still vividly remember just absolutely suffering over the last few miles of the return, having burned out all my energy aggressively attacking the hills, probably in way too high a gear, and running out of my energy reserves, with no snack or anything with me to help. To this day I remember how savage and sadistic that was, and how I never wanted to experience that again.

The route is very simple. North out of town on 59 highway – same start as Saturday evening’s ride – but instead of turning east on Sand Creek, turn west. You encounter a mile or two of flats and then the rollers start. At some point, double back and retrace the route back home.

Again, dear reader, keep in mind the context. As I’ve previously observed on this blog, the concept of “hills” or “climbs” is very relative to the rider. What is a challenging climb to you may be a footnote to me. Or, what is a challenging series of hills to me, you may go up and over like speedbumps. I’ve lost a lot of my bike fitness and put on a LOT of weight since my last serious riding era, and boy do you feel that on hills. Especially rollers that don’t want to allow you to fully recover.

I went over maybe 5-6 rollers of varying length, grade and steepness, and then, after a short break at what I designated the midway point, turned back. When I set out I wanted to get in 15-16 miles along this route, and I ended with 16.8, so I was content.

I definitely won’t claim it was easy. I was working fairly hard and forcing myself to breathe “the right way” – very important for cycling in general and climbing in particular. My stamina, still some weeks or a couple months away from returning to what it was in September, burns more quickly now and the body tires out. Accordingly, the last couple miles back to the barn I was pretty whipped. But very satisfied.

Arms are still pretty weary on the bike. Especially the triceps. Arms just aren’t accustomed to holding up this heavier frame while riding on the bike, something they’ve not really been much called to do for weeks. But hang in there, fellas. Easier times are coming. Keep the faith.

This road is just a beautiful, beautiful cycling road. Seems relatively long (I haven’t looked it up to see how far), quite isolated (I only saw a couple cars the entire time; they give you a good berth), and, as already stated, lots of rolling action. I really look forward to the future when my strength, cycling endurance and body weight are closer to ideal and I can really enjoy and relish this ride for a while.

Randy, if you’re reading this, I have no doubt you’ve taken this road all the way to California, so feel free to weigh in with any notes about how far it goes, etc 🙂 I’ve just not looked it up yet, but at some point I will.

Notable music: Pandora mix station again today. My 2nd-favorite Clan of Xymox song came on early in the ride; I looove this song and yet don’t know its name 🙂 u2, Gary Numan, Dead Can Dance, I THINK Tom Petty, and some others all came in for some airtime too, along with one droning kind of instrumental song I’d not heard before but liked very much. Right at the very end of the ride another (title unknown) song I’m very fond of, having heard on Pandora a few times, came on. I listened to a minute or so of it and then came in for lunch.

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A look back after the first respectable climb on Sand Creek road. The telltale disjoin between the pavement on “this side” and the pavement on “that side” stretching to the horizon.

When I paused here to take the above picture, these 20ish cows in a nearby field, who were dispersed and grazing when I got there, ALL came over to mass at the fence and look at me.

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A few minutes later, I paused atop another climb to take this picture looking at the road ahead.

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Roller city. Rolling-road vistas like this are really yummy to a cyclist. Sadly, in my current fitness, I was only able to take a few bites and then send it back to the kitchen. But it won’t be long before I am able to feast.

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Storm leaned up against a hill at the turnaround. It felt REALLY good to rest a moment here and drink some water, and I seriously contemplated leaning against the hill myself, maybe even catching a small nap 🙂 Just enjoying the day. But I ended up back on the bike and headed back for home.

#bikehour – 1/18/2015

January 20, 2015

Today’s ride – also on a weekend – saw unusually nice weather for January in KC, and especially relative to the single-digit temperatures we’ve battled recently.

I chose to head out around 10 AM – start temp about 44 degrees – and ride south on Highway 59 to Princeton and back. 17.5 miles round trip. This is a simple out-and-back that I have done many, many times, and it has served varying functions over the years. When I’m IN shape, this serves as a “small ride” on a day when time or other situations don’t allow for more. When I’ve been way OUT of shape – such as lately – this ride always serves as a measuring stick to tell me exactly where I am.

Coming back from an exile into “terrible eating and no exercise land”, where I’ve resided with minimal punctuations of sanity since my mom’s passing, one has to make up one’s mind to just put away the past. Quite often on today’s ride, I experienced regret at making such stupid mistakes and allowing myself to fall so far down the hole once again. When in good shape, a ride like this would be only a couple notches above effortless for me; yet, here I was, working hard. But, you HAVE to put that away. I found that, if you allow past accomplishments to enter your mind at all, then allow it to enter only to ENCOURAGE you – “This, and more, is what you have to look forward to with hard work.” That is constructive and positive. Do not, alternately, allow it to enter to taunt you with a fall from performances of the past. That serves no useful purpose.

Wind was pretty respectable, and growing, from the south/southwest, on today’s ride. This meant fairly hard work on the first half – in which you are generally ascending (gradually – there aren’t any real hills to speak of) – and a much easier time on the second half, descending gradually and with a tailwind.

I’m just now feeling my way around a reasonable winter wardrobe for riding in various ranges of conditions and ride length. To that end, I take mental notes as to what I liked and didn’t like about a given day’s choice. For today, about 44 degrees to start, I rocked the bike shorts and overshorts, pair of 3/4-length white tube socks, with my faux-wool top and yellow reflective “construction worker’s vest”, and my black full-fingered gloves. This outfit worked well for the conditions. When I stopped at the turnaround, I actually felt very slightly warm, but then once I got going again, even with tailwind vs. headwind, it was just right.

After making the final little climb up into Princeton, I turned west onto John Brown Highway to go to the Prairie Spirit trailhead. I knew, of course, that the trailhead is closed for winter; I just chose to take a short break there versus my other usual haunt, the C-store on the east side of the highway. After pausing at the trailhead for a short break, a good drink of water and a couple pictures, it was back on the road for the blistering tailwind return. Knocking down a few miles at 20 mph pace and a few others at 18ish mph, I was back in Ottawa in no time at all. Feeling good to be back on the bike once again.

I stopped again at Subway for lunch. The full sunlight outside felt so good that I decided to take the sandwich to the nearby Kanza Park, where I ate at a bench. Sitting there, the wind still carried a sufficient chill that my hands were getting a little chilly as I ate. Halfway through, I packed it up and headed for home to finish there.

Notable music: Pandora mix station today. Most notable song was GY!BE’s “Gathering Storm” – the song which inspired my custom-made green “Gathering Storm” t-shirts – which was the 2nd song to play after Metallica’s “No Leaf Clover”. Gathering Storm is a monster-length track, so I was well over halfway to Princeton before the next played. I remember Master of Puppets starting as I left Princeton, and Tom Petty’s Learning to Fly coming on near the end of the ride.

It’s pretty awesome how quickly you start to look forward to something like continuing a ride streak. I find myself really looking forward to tomorrow’s outing.

Obligatory selfie at trailhead.

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Many, many times my bike has been propped in exactly this spot, faithfully awaiting its master’s rejuvenation and resumption of some adventure or other.

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The intersection of many memories and motivations in the form of tire tracks traced in gravel.

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#bikehour – 1/17/2015

January 20, 2015

So what, you might ask, is “#bikehour”?

#bikehour is the foundation for the healthy lifestyle change I’ve been fervently seeking since the untimely passing of Mama P on October 5th.

Note – not at all associated with the Twitter handle of the same name.  Completely different concept. I do like their logo, though 🙂

The concept is simple. And yes it’s one I’ve tried before, with very truncated success. The idea is that I will ride the bike a *minimum* of 10 miles, every single day, and build as long a streak as I can.

Many days of course, more than 10. But never less. Only weather considerations will relegate the daily ride to the indoor trainer or stationary-bike variety (primarily if there is ice, or a good probability of it, on the ground).

Longer term readers may recall that I’ve tried this in the past. I had a rather short-lived effort previously to ride at least 3 miles every day. That only lasted several days – both incarnations of it. Why, then, do I have the audacity to expect to succeed at 10 miles per day? Well, I don’t have a good answer. I only know that I am going to do it.

It doesn’t take me an hour to ride 10 miles. But by the time you get stuff ready, get dressed for the ride, finish it, and return to your “other” life, you’re pretty well talking a daily hour commitment. Add to that that “#bikehour” has much more elegance than “#40minutesofbike” or any similarly tortured construction and, well, there you go.

So the initial ride for this “daily sacrament”, if you please, was Saturday, Jan 17th, 2015.

Headed out about 6 PM here in Ottawa, Kansas. It was already essentially after dark – only the last fading hints of light could be seen in the western sky. It was perhaps 35ish degrees at the start. Wind was crazy – initially seeming to come from the north, it resolved itself to be more from the west-northwest. It was unusual in that it wasn’t much sustained, but would periodically arise in massive gusts, some of which tried to blow me off the bike, such was their power.

I chose a little “rectangle loop” that I’ve done previously – heading north out of town, over the railroad tracks (where once I suffered a terrible fall, on my first or second real ride on Storm, my bike), east on Sand Creek, back to Montana/Davis and back south to 68 highway and back home. This route, with no additional flourish, would be roughly 8.5 miles, so I added a couple of additional miles when back in Ottawa, riding around Forest Park.

This was my first ride in 4 days, and I’d only done 3 rides TOTALING less than 16 miles since December 30th, all while living a positively hedonistic lifestyle culinarily speaking; so, this initial ride was primarily to get the streak started and to see exactly what my current power-to-weight ratio was like. To my pleasant surprise, it wasn’t God-awful. Legs and especially arms were a little weary – keep in mind that the last time I was riding regularly was pre-Mom’s death and I was a good 20 POUNDS lighter then, so my arms aren’t accustomed to supporting my currently-heavier frame on the bike – but I could see the outlines of being able to whip myself back into shape over time. That’s really what it’s all about.

Corresponding to the crazy gusts of wind, the sky – barely lit off to the west – was similarly dramatic, as I could discern huge gray-and-black shelves of clouds. I hadn’t checked the forecast before heading out, and the thought occurred that I could get caught in a wide-open rain shower. Not that I would have objections.

As it turned out, rain wasn’t a factor. I got hit with a few spitting drops of rain for about a minute at the midpoint of the ride, and that was it.

With the shorter route, the only other thing interesting was being stopped by a slow-moving train as I was headed south back toward home. As I turned my bike parallel with the train (perpendicular to the road) to send my headlight beams down-track to try to make out how long the train was, my bike-and-rider silhouette projected like a movie onto the passing train by the headlights of a similarly-stopped car behind me, painting a very cool image suggestive of permanence among transition and change, and I regret now not snapping a picture of it or even a short clip. I’m sure I will get a chance again in the future.

Notable music: I made a deliberate choice to listen to my “Dead Can Dance” Pandora station versus the usual mix station. The full reasoning would take longer than I care to type right now; but short version is that I find Dead Can Dance, on the bike, at night, and especially in winter, to strike quite a “sacred” sort of tone. Seemed very appropriate for this ride and my mindset going in. So, a few DCD songs came onto the station, and a few others that weren’t DCD (and most of which I didn’t recognize) but which were appropriately good.

Below is a flashless selfie I snapped back at Subway in town, where I grabbed a sandwich at ride’s end. It looks uncomfortably like a mugshot, but, I figured – this being the first day in the streak, let’s document it 🙂

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