Sunday, May 31, 2009

Other ways to get ready

For several reasons, I did not ride today. First, there were lots of things that needed to be done around the house, especially with our upcoming trip to CA to see the grandkids. Second, I needed to rest my strained groin muscle a day, and hope that will do the trick. I think I need to spend more time warming up before I ride, and ride at a pace that will last for a long ride. I can do that. Finally, I went to the REI in Bellingham to attend a Bike Maintenance 201 class. It was really worthwhile, and I learned how to make some adjustments to my 'bent. I also picked up more of the necessary supplies I'll take along. That's it for today, and I'll ride a bit tomorrow.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I finally did a hill!!

My goal today was to ride a 23-mile route that included two hills I thought/hoped I could do. Max did not do this trip. For the first time, I got out to ride in the mid-morning--I started riding before 10 AM. When I'm on the Idaho ride, I'll try to start about 8 each morning so I get the coolest weather possible for both Max and me. Today the wind was blowing about 10 to 15 MPH, and did I mention previously how I dislike riding in the wind--it always seems to blow harder in your face than it does on your back.

I made the full ride, and made it up the second hill--Josh Wilson Road coming out of Bayview. For the first time, I used first gear, and that made a big difference. I had not used it before because I was sure I would go so slowly I'd be a hazard wobbling around. That was not the case, and while I was working hard, it felt great to actually do a hill. I could have made the first hill, too, but got half way up in 2nd gear and figured I could not make it, so I dismounted. If I were to do it again in 1st gear, I'm confident I could do it.

A couple of bike notes. When I shifted into 1st gear to do the hill, the chain jumped off the sprocket. I thought I was sunk, but figured out how to put the chain back on and kept riding. I also had more instances of the gear slippage I described previously, but in talking with another biker about it, I found that I probably was not shifting correctly. I adjusted how I shifted, and it seemed to help. Tomorrow I'm enrolled in a Bike Maintenance 201 course at REI Bellingham, so I'll learn how to make some mechanical adjustments.

I feel really good about my stamina and endurance after today's ride, but I did experience some tenderness in the left groin. I slowed down my pedaling, and that helped. Rather than chance pulling a muscle or some other such injury, I'm going to take tomorrow off to rest my leg. We'll see how it feels on Monday.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Another training ride with Max

I intentionally waited to ride today until about 2 PM, so that we'd have the most heat. I think it got into the low 80's, which is pretty warm for here, but that will be "normal" for most of the ride in ID. I'm trying to get Max acclimated to the heat as he rides along in the trailer. Since he was born in the winter, this is his first experience with heat, and it does seem to bother him.

We rode an 11-mile route on the Skagit Flats, and had the heat and the wind. No hills today, but the wind was a bother again. I intended to do more, but my rear wheel/gears arrangement is still slipping when I'm in 5th, 6th, or 7th gear. It's aggravating. I'm taking my bike to the REI in Bellingham on Sunday afternoon for a maintenance class, so maybe I'll find out what needs to be adjusted. I suspect it goes back to when I had the rear tire off to fix the flat last week.

I also arranged to get my Duff Bikes T-shirts produced, so that is one more detail done. I've been hearing from points of contact with the Idaho Habitat affiliates, so I know the pieces are coming together. I'm sure I've said this already, but I know that this will be a significant physical and mental challenge, but it will be greatly rewarding. I'm eager to get started.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A good ride today

Yesterday we had rain and rain showers, and I had lots of work to do to support my ride and coordinate with the Idaho Habitat affiliates, so I chose to take a day off from riding. I think I had ridden for the past four days, and a day off felt good.

Today my goal was to do 23 miles, and include some hill work. I drove out onto the Skagit flats, parked at the McLean Road Fire Station, and rode my planned route. That included through LaConner, counterclockwise through the Swinomish Reservation back to LaConner, and back to the car. I did the full route OK, and feel pretty good for doing 23 miles. On the other hand, the two long and steeper hills ate my lunch--I wound up walking both of them. While I suppose I could have geared down and kept riding, there was too much traffic at 50 MPH for me to be wobbling around at low speed. I'm not proud and will walk when I need to. I did manage to do all the other hills, and I'm pleased with that. This route has several short spurts of hills to climb--none too long nor too steep, but just enough to provide some challenge. I need to face the fact that I'm not a good hill person. I can live with that.

I have a minor problem with my rear wheel, and suspect I did not completely get the wheel back on in the correct position when I previously fixed my flat. I have slippage when I'm in 5th, 6th, and sometimes 7th gear, and when I was coming down a hill, I noticed some noise in the rear disc brake. That makes me think the wheel is not correctly aligned. I'll check it out tomorrow, and I'll have a pro look at it next week when I take it back to the dealer for a final checkup before I depart for ID.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I didn't hit my goal today

My goal for today's ride was to do about 17 miles and include a hill climb.  I did pull Max in his trailer for about 95 minutes, so that was progress for both of us.  However, I underestimated the steepness of the hill, and had to quit riding part way up.  Maybe without the trailer and Max I might have made it, but I doubt it.  The shortened distance was 16 miles, and once again I was riding in wind.  Did I mention how I dislike riding in the wind?

Because of today's experience and the greater eventual weight I'll be pulling, I suspect on the ID ride I will wind up walking up the more significant hills.  For example, Whitebird Hill and Lewiston Hill will probably get walked.  I've always figured that may be the case, and while I'll give them a good shot, they hills will probably win.  I least I can coast down the back sides--I sure could not do that on my hike three years ago.

Max seemed to do OK today, so I'm encouraged he will be able to handle the duration of the ID ride.  I'm most concerned about the heat.  I waited today to ride in the afternoon heat, but it was only in the 70's, so that probably did not provide much of a heat test.  We'll see.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My apologies to all wise guys

OK, I need to apologize to wise guys everywhere. The problem with my bike tire was a real leak, and no one let out the air while I was at lunch yesterday. After sleeping on the problem, I tackled the tire and tube again today, and found a small leak. I successfully patched said leak, and reassembled the tire, and mounted it on the bike. After giving the patch a while to show its effectiveness, I was satisfied it would hold.

I did a 17-mile route today that was basically flat. While I was not trying to ride at any set pace, I did take my GPS today, and saw that I averaged about 12 MPH. Again, I'm satisfied with that. I felt good at the end of the route, except that the bottom of my feet felt numb from the pressure on the pedals. I'll get the new Shimano pedals and clips on later this week and see if that helps some. Tomorrow I intend to take Max in the trailer to see how he does on a longer ride of about 2 hours. I'll need to give him a break halfway through, and I may need to give him more protection from the sun, but we'll see how he does.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My first flat--sort of

Linda and I arranged to meet her sister and brother-in-law today at the end of my ride. I left the car at the restaurant north of Burlington, and planned to ride a 15-mile loop route with a gradual hill in the middle. I had done the similar route with the hill two days ago in the opposite direction. The wind was blowing, and unless it's a tail wind, I don't like riding in the wind. I did the hill OK, and that pleasantly surprised me. I chose to shorten the route to make it back to lunch on time, but still wound up doing 13 miles.

While we were enjoying lunch in the beautiful weather, I left my bike on the rack and locked up. Linda took that car home and I drove the other car to the recycle center to drop off some stuff. When I got home and began to take the bike off the rack to store it for the night, I noticed that the rear tire was flat. I looked it over and could find no exterior damage. So, I got my goodies together and set about to change my first flat with this bike. I got the tire broken down, but could find no leak in the tube nor any nail or anything sharp sticking into the tire. I put the tire back together and pumped it up. I'm going to let it sit in the garage tonight and see if it is still holding pressure in the AM. I'm now suspecting that some wise guy let the air out of the tire while we were in the restaurant. What I've learned from this is 1. sit where I can keep an eye on my bike and trailer, and 2. pump up an unexpected flat first to see if the air was just let out. While I would rather have not had to break down the tire, the experience was good. I just hope I don't have to repeat it too often.

More training rides done

I just noticed it has been six days since my last posting. I have been training and getting some logistics accomplished. With better weather here at home now, I'm three days into an "every day" riding schedule. Wednesday I did a 12-mile loop, and was pleasantly surprised that I averaged a bit over 12 MPH. Thursday I did a 14.5-mile ride that included a steady hill on an old railroad grade, so it was about 3 miles long, but not too steep. I also dealt with some headwinds blowing up the valley, and that was no fun. My average speed was about 11.5 MPH--again, I'm pleasantly surprised. Yesterday I did the same 12-mile loop, but this time I pulled Max in his trailer so I could see how he and I did on a longer ride. He did not fuss, but he does get hot in the open sun, so I'll be working on a way to keep him cooler--maybe an additional sun screen inside the trailer, or maybe a damp towel for him to lie on. The wind was swirling on the route but not strong, but it always felt like I had a headwind. What took me 56 minutes without Max took me 63 minutes with him, so I need to expect a drop off in my average speed. I still did the 12 miles in about 11 MPH.

I also began to shop around for a shop to produce a few T-shirts for my ride. I'm going to use ones, too, from my Hike three years ago--it's magic what you can do with a marker pen to change an "H" into a "B". I have emailed all the ID affiliates with my one-page press release for the ride, and I'll be writing them all this weekend to share specific details that apply to each site.

Thursday I drove up to REI in Bellingham and bought some "performance" gear for the ride. I bought a pair of bike shoes for SPD clips, and the Shimano pedals to match. Everyone tells me to expect to fall a lot as I learn to use them, but I'm hoping to shorten that learning curve by using them on my stationary bike in the basement first. The shoes alone do help some, as the sole is quite rigid, but I really do need the clips to get the full benefit. Yes, I'll let you all know when I fall off the bike as I'm learning.

I'm really pleased with the performance of the Burley Tail Wagon trailer. It pulls smoothly and is simple to break down and set up moving from home to the ride start point. Of course, once I'm on the ID ride, I'll keep it intact until I'm done. It is a good product. I'm also pleased with my bike, and am beginning to get used to it more. I've signed up for a Bike Maintenance 201 course at REI Bellingham, so I'll be able to make small, simple fixes and adjustments to the bike.

Today I'm going to do a 15-mile ride and meet Linda for a late lunch at the end of the ride. I'll be riding every day--weather and schedule permitting--from here on out, and will work to get up my mileage as I go. I'm confident that I'll work into the daily distances on my actual ride, since I have virtually no schedule and can take as much time each day to cover my planned distance. I suspect that once the ride begins on 25 June, I'll probably average between 8 and 10 MPH, and will likely stop every hour to take a break, and let Max have a break, too.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Good day today

Since I did not ride yesterday (lots of Habitat stuff going on), I decided to do a longer ride today. I chose to do some flat riding, plus some fairly minor hills. I drove to Allen northwest of home, and began there. I rode to Edison, and then out to Samish Island, and back to the car. Most of the ride was flat, with hills on Samish Island. I could not do all the hills--or at least, I chose not to do them--but I did make it around the approximately 22-mile route. I felt better on my 'bent ( I think that is bike speak for a recumbent) and felt more stable. On the return leg, I chose a definite point I could find on a map and timed myself to see about how fast I was riding. That section was about six miles, and I did it in 34 minutes, which should be a little more than 10 MPH. I was using the upper range of the gears, so I feel pretty good about the ride.

When I got home and cooled off, I took Max for a short ride in the neighborhood to get him acclimated to more time in the trailer. We did about 2 miles, and he did fine--barked at other dogs so I think he is comfortable. The ride included two short but steep hills in the neighborhood, and I managed to do both of them with the trailer attached. So far I'm using my mountain bike to tow the trailer, and will switch over to the 'bent later this month.

Tomorrow I plan to take the recumbent back to Angle Lake Cyclery to get a different set of handlebars--ones with a wider gap between handles so my legs don't rub my hands when I'm pedaling. I'll also check on bike shoes and clip pedals, since I feel like my feet are slowing slipping off the pedals when I ride. It puts more strain on my legs and my softer shoes make my feet tingle after riding a while. Hopefully, stiffer soles and clips will make it easier.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More training notes

The weather and my schedule have not been favorable for riding a lot, and I'm definitely a fair-weather rider until I'm actually started on my Idaho ride. Since the last posting, I've ridden a bit to get more comfortable with my recumbent, and found out from the cycle shop that I'm "over controlling" the steering and that is why I feel "shaky" while riding. I'll correct that on the next ride. I've also learned that when I make a sharp turn, I need to get my feet in the proper position, or my outside foot rubs on the turning front wheel. I understand that is the "heel over" position that I'm seeking. Now I understand. With better weather in the forecast, I'll plan to do a 22 mile ride on Saturday to and from a Habitat meeting.

My business cards supporting the ride are back from the printer and look really good. The front is an ad for the ride, and the back describes how a supporter can help Habitat, wherever they are. I'll share that info in a later posting.

I hooked up the pet trailer--the Burley Tail Wagon--to my old mountain bike, loaded Max with his blanket for security, and took him on his first trailer ride around the neighborhood. He seemed to do fine on this first ride and I'll take him on longer rides each week. I was favorably impressed with how the trailer pulls, and it did not seem to pull "heavy." I'm sure I'll feel it most of all on the uphills, but it should be fine on the flats and downhill. So far I'm pleased with it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

To all the mothers out there, I hope you've had a relaxing and enjoyable day.

Lots has happened regarding my ride since my first posting. Normally, there won't be such long gaps in postings, but this has been a busy week. On Wednesday, the 6th of May, I drove to Sea-Tac to pick up my new recumbent bike and the pet trailer. By the time we got everything added onto the bike, it took about two hours. Then, the bike got its first "bath" on the way home to Mount Vernon--it poured down rain.

The bike is very nice--a Bacchetta Giro 26. It has 27 gears, two mirrors, a front light that strobes, a back light that flashes and strobes to catch attention, and best of all, a comfy seat. It is a bright yellow. The trailer is a Burley Tail Wagon, and should work great to haul my gear and give Max, our wirehaired dachshund puppy, a safe place to ride. It too has a rear light and a flag on a tall stick. I'm confident it will work.

We had really ugly, rainy weather Thursday so I did not ride. Friday, I was in Leadership Skagit class all day. Saturday, I was putting on a class for Skagit Habitat for Humanity (SHFH), so I did not train that day. Finally, today, I got the bike out and wanted to begin to get used to it and do a shakedown ride.

Riding a recumbent is certainly more comfortable for this old body, but it does take some getting used to. I've ridden an upright bike since I was 10, and that feels natural. Not yet so with the recumbent. I set out to do a 12-mile route, but only got about half of that done. I had a minor mechanical problem that I'll fix Monday. My goal starting tomorrow is to try to ride everyday from now until I leave, so that I can get comfortable with the way the bike handles. Right now I'm kind of wobbly and uncertain, but that will be resolved.

I did work on some of the logistics for the ride. My business cards for the ride will be ready next Wednesday, and I created a press release about the ride I can send out to Idaho affiliates and other media contacts. REI is having a big sale, so I bought the meals and some other goodies I'll need for the ride. Also, Friday night was a tough night for Max to get to sleep, so I wound up working around midnight doing my typed routing. That was good to do, and pointed out some adjustments I need to make. All in all, I'm comfortable that the plan is coming together.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Welcome to my blog--Duff Bikes for Habitat!

My goal for the blog is to document my preparation and experiences with my bike ride of the state of Idaho--from south to north--this summer. I'll start at the ID-UT border on the 25th of June, and expect to be at the Canadian border by July 23rd. Along the way, I'll transit ten Habitat affiliates in ID. While I'm in each affiliate's area, I'll work with them to tell their story and advance their goals to build houses for low-income families. I expect to do interviews with the press, radio, and TV, and just talk with as many people as possible. I'm excited to be getting close to my start date.

I'll be asking people to support my ride by donating to either Skagit Habitat, Habitat International, or the Habitat affiliate in your local area. While money donations give an affiliate the greatest flexibility to take action, you can also help by volunteering at a construction site, or serving on a committee, or donating materials, especially if your affiliate has a ReStore. More on that in a later blog.

My bike ride of Idaho should be about 1100 miles. People have been asking me if I'm riding alone or have a support vehicle along. No, no one else is making the whole ride with me, except my wirehaired dachshund puppy, Max. You may be able to see him in the photo on the blog--I'll post more of him along the way.

I'm excited to finally be getting my new bike tomorrow from Angle Lake Cycle. I'll be riding a Bacchetta Giro 26--that's a recumbent bike and far more comfortable for this old body to ride 5o miles a day. I'll also be pulling a Burley Tail Wagon trailer with my gear in it, plus Max. If the hills get too tough, I may have to hitch him in front to pull for a while. Max will be great company as he loves to be around new people, especially kids. He will increase the "ahh" factor at each visit.

I've been training for the ride since the first of April, and will be ready for the kickoff in late June. I've been on my stationary bike while the weather in Skagit County is iffy, but I've been getting out on my mountain bike, too. I'm up to 22 miles so far, and I'll be adding to that training distance each week.

That's enough for tonight. I'll try to write each day and let you know how things are going. The affiliates in ID have been super supportive, and I'm looking forward to visiting each one. I'll publish here on the blog how you can support Skagit Habitat, your local affiliate, or HFHI--watch for that in the next couple of days. If you do donate $$ or time, please let them know you are supporting Duff Bikes for Habitat. Thanks.