Thursday, November 20, 2008


I detest helmet mirrors. Several friends swear by them, and since they always seem to know when cars are approaching, I guess they work well for them and I appreciate it. I tried several and didn't like it at all. Perhaps having the mirror on the left eye and me being right eye dominant might have something to do with it. I have been using the Rhode Gear mirror that attaches to the hood with a velcro strap. That worked fairly well, but in truth, they seem to break a lot. I have four broken mirrors, that is, mirrors that have become detached from the rest of the assembly. They install in seconds, that's good. My friend Cecil has had some Italian bar end jobs that look cool and he says they work great. So, after the last broken mirror, I went on-line to research a bit. I found SpinTech mirrors, ordered and installed them and took my first ride yesterday. They exceeded expectations with zero movement and since there is one on each side, great visibility. They adjusted easily. The downsides so far: I keep looking at my left hood instead of the bar end, and I pushed the right one out of kilter with my knee when I stopped at a light, not noticing until somewhat later. 1000% better than the Rhode Gear (OK, maybe only three times better). For the record, I went a week without a mirror and managed to strain my neck/back while looking over my shoulder. When I was young, I let drivers worry about not hitting me. It is now a different age and attitude, so I take as many preventive measures as possible.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Several times recently, friends have come to a steep hill that required standing to keep momentum and when they did, their quads cramped. There are different reasons for this happening, one of which is the muscles are stiff from under-utilization. The counteraction I use on long rides is standing to pedal at least every fifteen minutes. Therefore at some inclines, where the group is spinning up seated, I will drop a couple of gears and stand for maybe thirty seconds or five sets of eight or whatever. This way, I am keeping the muscles loose and not calling on them to push hard, just stay flexible. Standing also helps the back, not to mention giving the other muscles a short break. If you aren't doing this now, give it a try, then drop me a line.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


My friend, Grace, at just posted an article about all of the short trips Americans take in their cars and how much we could save in gas, plus become more fit, if we walked or cycled. I commented that I don't use my bike to run errands. But her article got me thinking about the possibility. Result: I still won't. Rather than formulate coherent sentences, I'll just throw out a list as things cross my mind.
  1. I don't live 1.5 miles from anyplace I trade. The closest is three miles.
  2. I don't have a commuter bike, I have a custom titanium with high end components.
  3. Theft is a worry. There are locks for the bike, but the seat and pedals are vunerable; vandalism is a higher worry (big boot into the wheel, bent derailleur).
  4. How to carry whatever I purchase.
  5. I certainly don't need the exercise.
  6. Wearing lycra to shop or conduct business is not me. I see lots of oddly dressed folks, but I don't want to be one of them.
  7. Traffic diversity: some streets are safe, some are death traps for the unwary cyclist.
  8. Weather. Even at commuter speed, cycling in 90 degrees for even ten minutes can make a person socially unwelcome.
  9. What to do with helmet and gloves.
  10. BTW, time is not an issue.

Since I ride 2-700 miles a week, perhaps I can sell my emissions offsets....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I just read the article on Velonews about the Australian study that post-ride caffeine can help speed muscle recovery. They say more study is necessary. It won't be meaningful to me until they do a side-by-side comparison to beer. I can drink more beer post-ride than coffee, plus it will let me take a nap afterward. Golly, it was 30+ years ago that, as a disciple of Dr. George Sheehan, I believed what he wrote about beer being a good carbohydrate-replacement drink and experimented with running 4 three-mile loops and consuming a beer after each loop. To tell the truth, that didn't go too well, but the Aussies will need some powerful statistics to get me to switch.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Apparently, I have not descended from my soapbox. However it sounds, do not consider the following a complaint. It is more of an observation. Yesterday I participated in a 100km charity ride, The Wurst Ride. It gets the name from the beer and bratwurst reward at the end. The charity is the Bob Woodruff Foundation, helping those with serious brain trauma. Generally I avoid charity rides, because I find them dangerous (the object of this post). But, the group I belong to, Austin Flyers, wanted to support this charity and it was not a time to let personal likes or dislikes get in the way. By their nature, charity rides bring out a lot of folks who want to do something to support the charity, and the skill level runs the experience gamut. Don't get me wrong, the Wurst Ride is well run and rates an A and the odds are that I will do it next year. But next year I won't get caught near the back when the ride begins. You would think that if you are fit enough to ride 100km, you could handle your bike reasonably well. For the first five miles folks were wobbling all over the road, thank goodness for two lanes of highway being open for us. If they started the ride at 8mph, Lord knows how long it would take to finish. Why they thought they were the only riders on the road, instead of one in a thousand, is beyond me. There were some walking their bikes up short hills that I didn't even get out of my big ring for. In spite of the harsh words, because I knew what would happen, I have no ill feelings toward the slow wobblers. At least they were out riding on a spectacular, beautiful day. But, you need to be aware and bring your patience and until the groups string out into where everyone is riding with the same experience level, be on high alert for the unexpected. And by all means, continue to support deserving charities.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I am back on my soapbox and really don't know what set me off. Hang with me through the negatives: Not being sick does NOT mean you are healthy! Even the marriage vows imply an "either-or" situation, but really health is more of a continuum with sick being on one end, non-sick in the middle, and really good health on the other end (if I wanted to be precise, death would be on one end, and various degrees of ill-health moving up, but see no reason to be morbid just to make a point). So many people are content to be non-sick and never move up to being healthy. One reason is you have to work at it. When I was younger and working, I would get the question "Why do you exercise (run) so much? It won't make you live longer." (Generally these were 1-pack-a-day smokers and six-pack beer guzzling couch potatoes) I never debated "live longer" because that is so "iffy" but I was on firm ground pointing out that my quality of life would be better, longer. In retirement, my exposure to the general populace is less, and most of my acquaintances have my lifestyle. Anyhow, I felt great when running marathons, feel great now riding 60-80 miles or short races and time trials. I like how it feels being on the high end of the healthy continuum and urge all I can to opt for being healthy rather than being contentedly non-sick.

Monday, November 3, 2008


How chapped do your lips have to get when the weather turns chilly before you remember to put the container in your car (or saddle pack)? Several years ago I switched to a shea butter lip balm to get away from lanolin. Years ago when I ran, I had no problem with Vasoline, and still use it as a back up. However, this summer I forgot to remove the stick from the car, and in the Texas heat, it melted and ran all over the console. Therefore, the replacement remained in the house. Lip protection is the last thing I put on, right after taking a good gulp of liquid. Hence, if it is in the car, it is available whether I leave from the house or drive to the start. But after a ride, my mind is empty, oxygen depleted, running on memory, and wanting only to recuperate in the house, so putting it from the bathroom to the car takes something additional. The first bout of dry lips was the additional memory device I needed this year. I'm getting better, it took several cases a few years ago, deep into January, before it nestled close at hand in the driver-side door. I know, if I had kept with the Vasoline in a tube, none of this might have happened. Sorry, I like the shea butter.