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3,000 Miles Down

A rare photo of the All Seasons Cyclist without snow on the ground!

A rare photo of the All Seasons Cyclist without snow on the ground!

A few months ago I mentioned that the first 1,000 miles of the year are the hardest—at the time I didn’t know how difficult the second 1,000 miles was going to be! My first 1,000 miles for this year were all in the snow, while the second 1,000 miles seemed to be all going into a strong headwind (I live in the Chicago area). Fortunately, the third 1,000 miles proved to be a lot easier and this morning I passed the 3,000 mile mark for the year. For the past several years I have averaged a little over 6,000 miles of cycling per year. Last year I was just one short bike ride away from 5,000 miles because I had to take some time off the bike due to surgery (and then I was rather slow for a while during recovery). The brutal winter we had this year has put me seriously behind my normal schedule and it is rather doubtful that I will hit 6,000 miles this year.

A visit from the Puncture Fairy

A visit from the Puncture Fairy

This morning I rode with a friend of mine, Anna, and she had a visit from the Puncture Fairy about 50 miles into our ride. I am not sure what Anna did to tick off the Puncture Fairy, but she double-flatted today!

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2014 in Life On Two Wheels

 

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6,444 Miles Of Cycling In 2012

In 2011 my goal was to cycle 5,000 miles during the year, but I ended up with 6,836 miles. Twelve months ago I decided my cycling goal for 2012 was “to have fun” and ended up riding 6,444 miles. Back in 2011 I was trying to rack up as many miles as possible and that meant I got most of my miles while cycling on the road. This past year I spent more time on off-road trails and, thanks to the 4″ wide tires of my Surly Necromancer, I also spent a lot of time riding in snow, mud and on the sandy beaches around Lake Michigan (OK, sometimes I was actually riding in Lake Michigan).

Surly Necromancer Pugsley in the snow

Fun In The Snow With My Surly Necromancer Pugsley

On September 7 of this year I hit the 5,000 mark and thought I would probably pass 7,000 miles before the end of the year. However, that evening I came down with a virus that knocked me off my feet for twelve days! On the thirteenth day I still had a fever, but my legs were hurting so bad I just had to get back on the bike—so I rode 72 miles. While it felt good to get back on the bike, my average speed dropped by over 15% (it might have been because I still had a mild fever). It took me another two weeks to fully recover.

Once I knew I wasn’t going to set a new record I decided to spend more time weightlifting. Though I’ve used resistance training in one form or another for ten years, I’ve never taken it as seriously as I should have—I lift weights to develop core strength, not because I enjoy it. However, a few months ago I bought a set of Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbells and they work far better than I expected and I would highly recommend them to anyone.

I am 53 years old and work full-time. However, I have somewhat flexible hours so if I ride 50 or 60 miles in the morning it means I will be at the office rather late that night. All three of our sons are grown, so Cub Scout meetings and high school football games do not interfere with my cycling—and my wife is a very patient woman.

I often think about some of my friends who are in their 40′s but already taking medication for diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. All I can say is, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” All of those diseases could either be cured or minimized by spending a few hours a week on a bike. How many chronic health problems in America could be cured by just diet and exercise? I’ve had friends die in their 50′s and I know the death certificate listed their cause of death as heart disease, but I have to wonder if it shouldn’t have read “suicide by inactivity.”

We all cycle for different reasons. Some ride for their physical health, others for mental health. Some people ride because they enjoy group rides, while others enjoy a quiet ride on the back-roads so they can work out their problems in solitude. Whatever your motivation for cycling is, I hope you can enjoy this new year on a good bike.

As the new year begins I want to thank God for my good health, Trek for making awesome bikes, and my wife for not looking at the American Express statements. On a related note, I have promised the love of my life that the next time my cycling results in me entering an ambulance I will tell her the same day instead of waiting a week (apparently wives like to know about stuff like that).

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2013 in Life On Two Wheels

 

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The First 3,000 Miles For 2012

A few days ago I passed 3,000 miles of cycling for the year and that puts me about two weeks ahead of where I was last year at this time. Last year my goal was to cycle 5,000 miles in 2011, but ended up with 6,836 miles. This past January several people asked me what my goal for 2012 was going to be and my usual answer was, “To have fun.” Last year I was trying to rack up as many miles as possible and that meant I got most of my miles while cycling on the road.

The first 3,000 miles on the bike for this year

The first 3,000 miles is the easy part!

When I bought my Surly Pugsley Necromancer Fat Bike last December I intended to use it mainly for rides on the snow, mud and beach (and in my area of the country sometimes all those conditions are present on the same ride). Even though riding on off-road trails is slower, it does have several advantages, i.e, no cars to avoid, no broken glass to dodge, and no teenagers throwing garbage out the window. Off-road trails also allow me more time to think, enjoy nature and meet new people.

I’ve found the people who use the off-road trails are generally more friendly than Roadies. Too often on the road you find some dude with a new set of aerobars who is just certain that if Fabian Cancellara crashes again he is going to get a call from Johan Bruyneel begging him to come save Radioshack Nissan Trek at the Tour de France (that’s probably why they are concentrating so hard they can’t even acknowledge the existence of other cyclists). The funny thing is that I cycled all winter on those same roads and didn’t see any of these dedicated cyclists on the road—I think most of them spent the winter in their basement riding on their training wheels, excuse me, I mean riding on their bicycle trainer stand.

One other change from last year is my training routes. Last year I got into a rut and rode the same handful of routes over and over. My loving wife has spent many hours in the car with me as I drove through the back roads of Illinois and Wisconsin looking for new training routes. I could have searched for these routes while on my bike, but I hate getting caught out in the middle of nowhere without water (yeah, it’s happened).

We all cycle for different reasons. Some ride for their physical health, others for mental health. Some people ride because they enjoy group rides, while others enjoy a quiet ride on the back-roads so they can work out their problems in solitude. Whatever your motivation for cycling is, I hope you can enjoy the rest of this year on a good bike.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Life On Two Wheels

 

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The First 1,000 Miles Of 2012

Five months ago the long-range weather forecast for Chicago predicted that we would have the worst winter in a generation. However, things didn’t turn out as predicted (they seldom do). In fact, this has been the mildest winter we’ve had in over 30 years. While I didn’t get to ride in the snow on my new Surly Necromancer Pugs as much as I had planned, I was able to use it to play in the mud and rack up some (slow) miles at the same time.

The first 1,000 miles on the bike in 2012

The earliest I've ever gotten to the first 1,000 miles!

This morning I went cycling with a friend of mine and about 30 minutes into the ride today I passed the 1,000 mile mark for the year, which is two weeks earlier than I did last year. In 2011 I set of goal of cycling 5,000 miles, but ended up with 6,836 miles.

I’ve had a few people ask me what my goal for 2012 was going to be. It took me a while to figure it out, but I finally decided that my goal for 2012 was to have fun on my bikes. Last year I was so determined to rack up miles that I seldom went on the off-road trails because I could accumulate miles faster on the open roads than on the trails. This year I set my mileage goal at only 5,000 miles (again), but I really don’t plan on worrying about—I want to get re-acquainted with my mountain bikes. Last month I had the local bike shop completely rebuild my Gary Fisher Bug Sur mountain bike, and I am currently in the process of rebuilding one of the other mountain bikes myself.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2012 in Life On Two Wheels

 

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Ghost Trails by Jill Homer

Ghost Trails by Jill Homer

Ghost Trails

When our sons were little we moved to the Chicago area near Six Flags Great America. The good news was that Six Flags had a lot of great roller coasters, the bad news was that our sons were wouldn’t ride them. I finally figured out that a way to get them to ride the roller coasters—I invited a little girl who loved roller coasters to go with us to Six Flags, knowing that our sons would rather face a near-death experience than admit that they were scared of roller coasters in front of a girl. My plan worked and our sons ended up loving roller coasters. I am telling this story for the benefit of those cyclists who spend all winter in the basement riding their trainers because they don’t want to ride their bikes in snow or cold weather. If you are one of those guys it’s time to butch up! If you need some motivation I suggest you read Ghost Trails, Journeys Through A Lifetime.

Ghost Trails is the story of Jill Homer, “a scared little Mormon girl from Salt Lake City,” and her 350 mile race along Alaska’s Iditarod Trail in 2008. Homer is an avid cyclist, trail runner, journalist, winter enthusiast, and endurance junkie. She also writes one of my favorite blogs, Jill Outside.

The story of Homer’s epic ride across the brutal Alaska wilderness starts in Knik, Alaska on February 24, 2008 and ends in McGrath, Alaska on March 1, 2008. During that time Homer rode her bike across frozen rivers, through unbelievable snow drifts and over several hundred miles of snowmobile trails. She spent nights outside when the temperature was -35 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind was blowing at 50 MPH. If you rode your trainer in the basement this week because “it was cold outside,” aren’t you a bit embarrassed right now?

Ghost Trails is only 181 pages long so you can probably finish it in one evening. Once I started reading it I just couldn’t stop! The book has 24 chapters, but only half of them deal with the 2008 Iditarod Trail Invitational, the other chapters contain flashbacks of events that shaped Homer’s life and honed her determination. I do have one small confession to make: when I read the book I skipped the “flashback” chapters at first and just read about the Iditarod Trail Invitational, then I went back and read the other chapters.

I highly recommend this to anyone, especially cyclists or endurance athletes who need a bit of motivation. Ghost Trails is available in paperback for $16, but you can also buy a Kindle Edition for only $3 from Amazon.com.

 

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6,836 Miles Of Cycling In 2011

Yesterday I took my last bike ride for 2011 and ended the year having cycled 6,836 miles. Twelve months ago I set of goal of 5,000 miles for the year and I passed the target by such a wide margin that I am now qualified to run the Congressional Budget Office.

The All Seasons Cyclist (near Lake Michigan)

The All Seasons Cyclist (near Lake Michigan)

When I set my cycling goal for 2011 I had no idea that the worst blizzard in over 30 years would hit Chicago in February, followed by the one of the wettest springs in recorded history. I also didn’t plan on being knocked off of my bike for twelve days in June due to food poisoning. This past July was one of the five hottest months in Chicago history, but I was still able to cycle over 850 miles that month anyway.

When the temperature is hovering around zero or the wind is gusting at over 30 MPH it is very easy to tell yourself, “I’ll skip riding today and make it up later.” However, big goals are only reached by passing a lot of smaller goals along the way.

I am 52 years old and work full-time (about 50 hours a week). However, I have somewhat flexible hours so when I ride 50 or 60 miles in the morning it means I will be at the office rather late that night. All three of our sons are grown, so Cub Scout meetings and high school football games do not interfere with my cycling.

While there are many reasons to cycle I suppose most of us do it to improve our “quality of life.” That is, we want to live longer and healthier lives. Obesity is a national crisis in America and our health care system is overburdened as a result of people overeating and failing to exercise. I ought to know—I used to be one of those people who was committing suicide one meal at a time.

Since I am in a contemplative mood I want to add one more thing. Some cyclists pretty much ignore their families just to rack up the miles. If you are one of those people let me kindly inform you that you are an idiot. Your children are only young once so spend as much time with them as you can. It doesn’t take any extra time to eat healthy food, nor does it take all that many miles on a bike to keep your circulatory system in great shape. When your children are big enough you can have them join you for a ride. If you still need more miles, wait till they are asleep and ride at night (but don’t neglect your spouse either).

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2012 in Life On Two Wheels

 

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6,000 Miles Down And Seven Weeks To Go

Yesterday I passed the 6,000 mile mark for the year. Last December when I set a goal to cycle 5,000 miles before the end of 2011 I never dreamed that I would hit that goal before the end of September. In my area of the country even dedicated cyclists usually hang up their bikes by Thanksgiving, but I ride all year long. Two days ago I spent two hours riding in light snow and I can honestly say that I am looking forward to winter.

The All Seasons Cyclist passed the 6,000 mile mark this week

The All Seasons Cyclist passed the 6,000 mile mark this week

I have ordered a new Surly Black Ops Pug (now called the Necromancer)and the local bike shop I use said it should be in around Thanksgiving. After all the time I’ve spent making fun of “Bike Ninjas” I decided to go over to the Dark Side—the Surly Black Ops Pug is only available in solid black (they call it Necromancer). Not only is the frame black, but so are the spokes, rims and components. However, since this bike will be used to ride in the snow I should still be easy to see (plus I use reflective gear in the winter). The Black Ops Pug has Rolling Darryl rims, 3.8″ wide tires, a Shimano drivetrain and Mr. Whirly offset double crankset. This bike is incredibly heavy, but no one is really expecting you to set any speed records while riding in several inches of fresh snow.

During the past few weeks I have run a lot of reviews for winter bike products and I still have many more cold-weather cycling products to tell you about. The National Weather Service claims the Chicago area is supposed to have the worst winter we’ve had in over 30 years, so it looks like I’ll have a lot of opportunities to try out the new winter gear I’ve bought.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2011 in Life On Two Wheels

 

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5,000 Miles Down With Three Months To Spare

My physical fitness goal for this year was to ride 5,000 miles by December 31. I am happy to report that I reached my goal yesterday, which means I still have three more months of cycling so it is possible I will pass 6,000 miles before the year is over.

Reaching the goal of 5,000 miles in 2011

The All Seasons Cyclist passed the 5,000 mile mark this week

Last December I wrote out a plan on how to reach my goal. This plan involved monthly goals, and that filtered down into weekly goals. Having a mileage goal in front of you is a great motivator. I’ve found that posting your goal on a social networking site like Facebook will make you work harder because of the feedback you get from friends along the way.

I have also found that there is a downside to setting a mileage goal for the year. Because I was focusing on mileage this year I haven’t spent nearly as much time on the off-road trails as I used to. Riding off-road is fun, but three hours on the trails will not rack up as many miles as three hours on the road. I love riding on off-road trails, especially in the fall of the year. Whatever goals I set for next year are going to have to include a way to incorporate more time on the bike trails.

Most of the time when people reach some milestone in life they like to thank those who made it possible. I give thanks to God for the good health I have experienced this year and I also want to thank my wife for not looking at the American Express bills every month (distance cycling can be a fairly expensive sport).

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2011 in Life On Two Wheels

 

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4,000 Miles Down And 1,000 To Go

Yesterday I passed the 4,000 mile mark for the year. Since my goal for this year is to ride 5,000 miles it means I only have 1,000 miles to go and almost 5 months to do it in. At the moment I am over 600 miles ahead of the training schedule I set up last December.

4,000 Miles So Far For The All Seasons Cyclist

4,000 Miles So Far For The All Seasons Cyclist

Last year I rode 4,650 miles, but I was out of the country for several weeks during the summer and not able to ride. Since I planned on being at home most of this year I thought 5,000 miles was a reasonable goal. I hate to complain, but I had no idea that Mother Nature would be so difficult to deal with this year. In February we had the worst blizzard in 30 years, followed by the wettest spring in history. In June I was off the bike for 12 days due to food poisoning. July turned out to be the wettest in history and one of the five hottest, but I was able to ride over 850 miles that month anyway!

I love cycling in all sorts of weather and the past few weeks I’ve ridden a lot at night. This week I started taking a serious look at the Surly Pugsley as my next (winter) bike purchase. I am going to wait a few weeks to see what the new Surly Moonlander looks like. The Moonlander (according to their blog) has 4.5 inch wide tires, which ought to make for an incredible time on the snow this winter!

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2011 in Life On Two Wheels

 

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3,000 Miles Down And 2,000 Miles To Go

All Seasons Cyclist

All Seasons Cyclist

Today I passed the 3,000 mile mark on my bike for this year, which means I still have 2,000 more miles to ride before I reach my goal of 5,000. In case you are wondering, I do have a full-time job and I work about 50 hours a week. However, I have somewhat flexible hours so when I ride 70 miles one morning it means I will be at the office rather late that night. I am also aided by the fact that all three of our sons are grown, so Cub Scout meetings and high school football games no longer interfere with my cycling.

Most of the year I ride by myself, by for the past couple of weeks I’ve tagged along with a young woman who is getting ready to bike across Iowa again (this year’s RAGBRAI route is 454-miles). Talking to fellow-cyclists really does help you increase your knowledge of the sport. I love picking up tips about nutrition, endurance or even bicycle maintenance from people who know what they are talking about!

I was off my bike during the first half of June due to food poisoning, but once I got back on the bike I was able to ride well over 500 miles in just 16 days. I live in the Upper Midwest, so we don’t really have to worry about excessive heat too often. At the moment I am still about 350 miles ahead of where I had planned to be by now, and I am looking forward to the next 2,000 miles (even though the last 500 will probably be in the snow).

 
 

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