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June 30, 2005

When Pain is good

Tonight after work I went to County Cycles and rode with the Gopher Wheelman. It was hard for me because I've been slacking lately, but it felt really good to inflict some pain on myself (push myself really hard). I couldn't stay with the group for the whole ride so I took a shortcut that cut about 9 miles off my ride. About 5 miles from the shop the lead group of 4 caught up to me. I was really happy to see them because I was already riding by myself dealing with the strong winds and was tired, so I drafted behind them the rest of the way in. When we arrived I used the bathroom and came back out to see the second group come in. After the ride I was at 60 miles and still had another 10 miles to ride home. Now just after 11pm, my legs are stiffening up and I'm tired. I can tell I had a good workout. When I told my wife how good it felt, she told me, "They have medications for that." haha.
I'm really happy Dan asked me to go to this ride with him tonight. He could tell I've been in a little slump lately with my training. But tonight I trained and it was good!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:11 PM

June 28, 2005

Serendipity

Serendipity is the gift of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for. In the book ďThe Road Less Traveled,Ē M. Scott Peck, M.D. says that it happens to everyone, but not everyone recognizes it or takes advantage of it. Either we are not fully aware of itís presence or we donít appreciate the value of it. If these events are happening to us all of the time, how many have we let slip by? There is no way of knowing, but we can learn to watch for these events and learn to see the value in our encounters.
Tonight I had a very good meeting with a couple of friends that helped me clarify my thoughts and set goals for me to work on. Thatís not what we were meeting about at all, but by the time we were done I had an outline of tasks that I had to take care of, which I was planning on doing in the next two weeks anyway. But now I have focus and more concrete ideas. I didnít call the meeting. I didnít expect this outcome. But I appreciated the gift that will help me be more effective.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:39 PM

June 27, 2005

No more Bike Shop Reviews

Recently I wrote about my experience at One-on-one Bike Studio and before that, Freewheel Bikes, and before that Erik's and since then Behind Bars. Several people spoke up in defense of Freewheel and One-On-One bike shops. Some were critical of me and my attributes as an objective first-time visitor to the shop. I really donít have anything against the people at Freewheel or one-on-one and they and their loyal fans are right about one thing: One visit is not enough to really know the people involved. I can tell you about my experience and the condition of the shop and the service I received, but that really is not the whole picture. I really do try to get to know the real person behind the public face, except this time. I didnít give it enough time.
Stacey wrote a really good response in this blog:
http://aflowercallednowhere.blogspot.com/2005/06/in-defense-of-one-on-one-bike-studio.html

Also, One-on-Oneís very own blog linked to this. One June 23 they posted a copy of my blog entry: http://www.oneononebike.com/117.php

You guys at One-on-one are interesting and good people and really I apologize for not approaching my blog entry from a more humanistic approach. I shouldnít have even called it a Ďreviewí because it wasnít an accurate picture of the people involved. I know and understand that everyone is just trying to live life the best they know how. Looking at my own blog entry, I realize that I was accurate in relating my own experience at this bike shop, but if it was me, I would not have liked a review like this. I would also get a little defensive.

Really, on this subject, why am I even writing bike-shop reviews when I really intend on writing about my experience? I do think all of us should treat others like equal human beings and not marginalize each other. If I were a journalist, which Iím not, I would have really talked to the people there and got to know them so I could produce an accurate picture, which I did not do. All I did was produce a snapshot of one experience from the point of view of an outsider. Itís not my place or desire to tell anyone what they should or should not be doing and that was never my intent. Itís also not my intent to convince anyone against patronizing a particular bike shop.
So I will stop doing Ďreviewsí and frame everything differently. From a more human viewpoint. A fellow-human viewpoint.

So, I noticed I have been critical of some of the customer service at the Sibley Bike Depot in St. Paul too, where I have been putting in a lot of volunteer hours fixing bikes and doing other things, like making scrap runs and cleaning out the woods of old discarded bike parts, helping teach kids how to fix their bikes, hauling the trailer to different places to pick up bike donations and so on.
I have been critical of the way the old-time, insider volunteers are critical of the newbies and members who come in to fix their own bikes. Iíve been critical of the parts vultures hanging out looking for the best things to come in so they can snatch them up for their own needs. These are usually the people most critical of other volunteers. Iíve found that people in any organization can create their own little terfdoms and once theyíre established they donít want it to change.
I have also been critical of the mess at Sibley bike depot, but itís a recycling center and used bike shop. There will be broken bikes and parts all over until they are fixed and parts organized. I find it very difficult to find the tools and parts I need, even though we have tons of parts and 4 workbenches full of tools. (Try to find the Cotter Press for cottered-cranks sometime!) I remember when I went into One-on-one bike shop. In the back of the basement, I saw a layer of bike parts on the floor and even tools buried under the layers. I remember thinking, ďAt least Sibley bike depot is not that messy.Ē But it has been at times since then.
I like the model of the Sibley Bike Depot though as a recycling center, community bike shop, self-service center, education center and bicycle advocacy center. It doesnít always live up to those ideals though. As I have been volunteering I have been observing itís impact on the community it is part of. So last week I made the decision to join the board of directors of the Minnesota Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance, which uses the bike shop for itís overall mission of bicycle advocacy. This should also mean a support of the bicycling community throughout the Twin-Cities and greater Minnesota.
All I have proven is that I really donít know the bicycling community out there. Iíve learned to be a good bike mechanic myself, Iíve helped others learn how to fix their bikes, Iíve fixed a lot of bikes for people who couldnít afford a bike in the first place, like the guy from the Dorothy Day Center who pulled his bike from a dumpster. On our group ride his back wheel was rubbing on the frame! He rode that way without complaining all the way to Minnehaha Falls from downtown St. Paul! I took the time to true up his wheel the best I could and adjust his derailers. At the same time I was explaining to him how I was doing it. He was ecstatic about it and enjoyed the ride back much more. But I am far from an expert on the bike business, and have a lot to learn. Itís a start. My new mission at the Minnesota Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance is to bring back a focus on community building through the vehicle of bicycles.

I think bicycles as a way of transportation make a lot of sense in many ways. Itís good for the environment, good for our bodies and good for the soul. It is liberation from the expenses, lies and bondage of the Automobile culture.
I still plan on visiting all of the bike shops I can and finding ways to strengthen their communities not weaken them.

This blog entry is an apology to Freewheel bike people and One-On-One bike people, owners, workers and devoted customers (Yah, and even Erik's customers and employees also) I may not shop there for my own reasons, but I've since met some people who are getting a lot out of the group rides they do that are sponsored by them.

Posted by carl1236 at 12:21 PM

June 26, 2005

A bike ride, breakfast, Star Wars, dinner and a bike ride

I want to talk about something that a lot of people call 'coincidence.' Some people call this 'Fate.' Whatever it's called, it happened to me this morning. I am happy that I'm aware of it when it happens. I was in the right place at the right time, when I should have been somewhere else.
This morning I set out at 6:15am to ride to Lake Nokomis to meet with Jim and whoever else showed up for the ride. I was really looking forward to the social ride and breakfast with them. Jim is a great guy that I rode 150 miles with a little while ago. I had never been to Lake Nokomis and I looked on a map to see how to get there, and I ended up getting twisted around on a few streets south of the lake before finally getting onto Minnehaha Parkway and reaching the Community center. I arrived at 7:09. Nine minutes too late. Well, I felt like I just missed missed them and was really dissappointed. So I felt a bit sorry for myself for a few minutes, then looked around at where I was. I was amazed. It's really a beautiful park with nice trails. There were plenty of people out using them and enjoying the morning either walking, running or bicycling. I had never been to Lake Nokomis before so I decided to ride around it. It's not very big but it was really cool. Two people commented on my new yellow flat-bed trailer which I was taking on it's maiden voyage.
After riding around the lake I wasn't prepared to go home yet, and I had forgotten to write down the place they were meeting for breakfast, so I decided to just ride back to Minnehaha Falls and then across the Ford Parkway bridge and see where it took me. I was on an adventure and just soaking in the surroundings and enjoying every minute of it. This is where I entered into the twighlight zone, or in other words, being in the right place at the right time when I should have been riding and eating breakfast with Jim and company. As I was riding across the Ford Parkway bridge, some guy pulled up along side of me and yelled, "Nice trailer!" I waved to him and he pulled off the road up ahead. I pedaled up to him and stopped behind his car. He had a bike partially sticking out of the trunk of his car. He got out and we started talking about the trailer and bikes and he asked me if I knew anyplace to rent 20 bikes for a conference he's organizing. His idea is to put together a hotel/bike package for the conference members. I told him about the Minnesota Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance and he said he had just looked at their website yesterday! He was going to call them tomorrow to see what we could work out. I couldn't believe it. We exchanged information and he was going to send me an email later in the day detailing his proposal. I'm sure we can help him and I look forward to taking on this project. We'll also be leading some rides in the evenings around the lakes in Minneapolis for something to do. Also we are going to provide bike racks and locks for the convention site. We connected and it was good. He didn't know anything about me when he stopped me, except that I had a very interesting looking trailer. And it seems to me that he was a little bold to even stop someone to strike up a conversation. But I liked him instantly and thought he had a great idea.
This is a reinforcement for me of a spiritual idea: If we let disappointment or mishaps destroy our ability to observe and live in the current moment, like me being 9 minutes too late to go on the group ride, then we are too distracted and filled with anger that we miss the opportunities we have in front of us. I could have stormed off back home feeling sorry for myself or do what I did. I aknowledged my disappointment and allowed myself to feel it. Then I turned my attention to my current situation. Look at where I was! It was beautiful and the morning was nice. I decided to check it out. When going home I followed my heart and had a chance encounter that I wouldn't have had if I had ridden home by the most direct route. Instead of regret for missing out, I'm filled with awe and thankfulness for what I did experience.

Then I spent the rest of the day with my wife. It was really good. we went for a very nice bike ride together after the movie and dinner. What a great day! Right where I was meant to be.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:27 PM

June 25, 2005

The Amazing, Incredible Greenway Getaway

Today I went to the Grand Re-Opening of the Greenway Bike and Pedestrian Trail. It was simply amazing. We brought a few artbikes there to donate, listened to the opening speaches, saw the cutting of the ribbon, then rode back and forth on the Greenway a few times. We stopped and looked around at the lake for a little bit and used the restrooms. We would have had a hotdog or something, but they were charging 2.95 for a plain hotdog! Forget it. We went back on the Greenway and had some free cookies. Peace Coffee was there giving out samples and showing off their trailer that they make deliveries in. That was cool. I stopped and talked to a lot of people. They had music there also. One of my favorites was a group playing various home-made instuments. I had met one lady from the group before in the bike shop and she told me about some drums they had made from old bicycle wheels. It was very interesting to me but after that discussion I had not seen or heard anything about them. Then today I saw them in action. Very cool. Today my heart beat in rhythm as they played.
I met another guy who builds wind chimes out of old discarded bicycle frames. He's trying to get that business going but so far no-one is buying. I talked to an old guy with a big white beard riding an ancient JC Higgins single-speed, coaster brake bike. He loves it. I liked him too. He was cool. He said he's going to come and visit me in St. Paul at the bike shop sometime.
I really like the Greenway. I can't wait until they connect it to St. Paul. It will create a great network of trails.

Jim has organized Sunday morning rides so I'm going to head over to Lake Nokomis by 7 to enjoy his company again. But thanks to his great idea, I'm bringing my brand new flat-bed bikego trailer along to do some garage sale bargain shopping. After breakfast that is. I just finished my trailer right before I had to leave for the Greenway grand opening and the bright yellow paint was still wet, so I couldn't bring it along today. I'm excited to try it out for something practical. I'm going to hunt for bicycles and books and if I find something I like, I'll be able to haul it back. This trailer is 2.5 feet wide by 6 feet long and attaches to my seat post. I'ts all made out of lightweight wood, with a couple metal braces and cables and screws. It has 16-inch wheels. The whole thing only cost me about 25 dollars to make. It was worth the time!
Speaking of trailers, I saw someone in my neighborhood twice today hauling around a BOB trailer. Interesting. We had a neighborhood wide garage sale today, so he must have been looking for bargains also.

Sunday is our 22nd Wedding Anniversary so in the afternoon my wife and I are doing something special. We're going to see the new Star Wars movie. We can be pretty romantic huh? At least we didn't have a costumed-Star-Wars wedding like some people we heard about. What geeks! ;-) We have come pretty close to the Dark Side a few times, but never gave in totally to our anger. There was still good in us. We could feel it. The force was strong in this marriage. The phantom menace was exposed and defeated, balance has been restored to the Force and there a New Hope for the future.

Have a great Sunday!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:50 PM

June 24, 2005

The best laid plans...

My fitness plans get put aside when I stay up too late. This morningís ride was a bust because I was up too late last night. But I had a nice morning with a cup of coffee and watched a special on TV about the building of the Queen Mary II Luxury liner cruise ship. Itís the largest cruise ship in the world. This thing has itís own wastewater treatment plant onboard that treats wastewater biologically back to drinking water standards! They then use the treated water to wash the decks and do laundry. This ship is so large and complex that even the best plans had problems. After 5 years of work by thousands of people, it finally went out to sea for itís first tests. Engines failed to start, controls failed and the force of the bow thrusters blew one of the doors completely off. It sunk to the bottom of the ocean. But evidently they learned a lot from the failures of the Queen Elizabeth II because that ship had to limp back into port after major problems.
I found this whole process very interesting but I probably wonít be riding on this cruise ship in my lifetime. At 1500 to 30000 dollars for admission, this floating city isnít on my list of places to visit. It is an amazing engineering feat though.
This morning I was supposed to go pick up a load of bicycles that are being donated to the bike shop but Dave was supposed to call Bill to help me, and then get back to me to see when he could do it. He hasnít called me yet, so my plans are on hold. Today I have to work on my bicycle trailer and try to get it done. Tonight is the second Critical Mass ride in St. Paul. Iím planning on going. Tomorrow is the grand re-opening of the Greenway. Iím planning on being there.
Notice I'm blogging in the morning?

Semper Gumby. Itís a good motto.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:32 AM

June 23, 2005

Are we even remotely alarmed by what we have created?

Shouldn't everyone be alarmed by this situation? Enough to say we are making a mistake in the way we are doing things?

I received this alert in my email today:

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air polution health advisory for high ozone (smog) levels in the Twin Cities that may extend north to the Brainerd area for Thursday June 23. The ozone should be dispersed to much lower levels on Friday due to a cold front which will bring cooler temperatures and rain.

According to the MPCA, sunny skies and very hot weather will combine with lingering ozone from Wednesday and build rapidly. The Air Quality Index (AQI) is predicted to reach 101 which is the threshold level for the category: "Unhealthy for sensitive groups." Sensitive groups include those with heart or lung disease, children, the elderly and those who exercise vigorously outdoors. These groups should postpone or reduce heavy or prolonged exertion (play shorter games, walk instead of run,
and take more breaks).

Ozone is most common in hot summer weather and also requires volatile organic chemcials and exhaust emissions from engines, power plants and other sources to form.

To help reduce ozone levels it is important for us to reduce additional contributions to the problem by:
* Driving less to reduce vehicle exhaust
* Postponing use of small engines such as lawnmowers
* Postponing projects that inolve painting or the use of solvents and
* Refuel when it's cool (after 8 p.m.).

For additional information about reducing air pollution, visit Clean Air Minnesota at:
http://www.mn-ei.org/air/resources.html#Factsheets

To check hourly updates of the AQI, go to http://aqi.pca.state.mn.us/hourly/

Posted by carl1236 at 12:01 PM

The body and spirit are weak

This morning I got up at 4:30am to ride with a group of guys at 5am. I got to the start point and met 4 other guys. We took off and were going at a pretty good pace and I felt ok. Until about 7 miles into the ride when we hit the first of two big hills in a row. I fell back because I couldn't maintain their pace up the hill and my lungs were working hard and my legs had no energy. Then one guy dropped backed and helped me catch up to the group. Then we hit the second big hill and I looked down at my speedometer. It read 15mph. I was dying. I kept that pace and they still flew up the hill, increasing the gap between us. When I got to the top, my lungs were heaving and my legs were jello. Nine miles into the ride at an average speed of 19.5mph, I called it quits for the morning.
Do you know what was going through my mind? I didn't want to quit. but I didn't want to keep going. Then I wanted to quit but then I told myself, 'no pain no gain.' I didn't feel like a cyclist this morning. I felt like a quitter.
My wife was surprised I was home so soon, and I told her all about the ride. She asked me what I was going to do about it. After thinking about it, my answer wasnt' to quit training, but to do more hill training and throw in more sprinting training, and change my sleep patterns to get up earlier in the morning and go to bed earlier.
I dropped out of the ride this morning feeling a little critical of myself, but for me this doesn't mean give up, it means retreat, regroup and attack at dawn.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:50 AM

June 22, 2005

The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak

My body isn't keeping up with my motivation to do things. Tonight riding home on my bike I felt like I was weaker than when I first started riding last year. I felt like I've been sitting on my butt all year watching tv, eating McDonalds. But maybe my body doesn't recover very quickly. But still, my forward progress seems to have stalled. I know I'm in better shape than I was a year ago, but I'm also not progressing. Or so it feels right now.
Tomorrow morning I'm getting up early to ride with some guys from the SPBRC, just to get my workout in before it gets too hot. I'm a night owl so that will be tough to change. 5am ride start? Ouch. I'll be done riding by 7am. My body might be willing but my spirit is weak.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:56 PM

June 21, 2005

Meeting Mary Behind Bars

Tonight after work I rode with Dan from St. Paul along Shepard Road to 35E, across the bridge, down 13 to 494, across the bridge, past the airport, through Ft. Snelling, up West River Road to Broadway, where I turned and crossed the river again. I was on my way indirectly to Behind Bars Bicycle Shop. By the time I got home tonight I had ridden 42 miles, the last few feeling like I had a pocket full of kryptonite.
It was perfect timing to check out this excellent bike shop. The owner, Chuck Cowan was there working on bikes and helping customers. He's a great guy and very knowledgeable about bikes. The bike shop was clean and organized and had some really cool bikes that were under 1000 dollars. He even sells new single-speed, fixed-gear bikes and builds them up from old frames. Instead of building my own, I might just buy one of his.
While I was there a lady came in to get her bike serviced and asked Chuck if he knew of any bike scrap yards that she could get bikes for free for a float she was making for a parade. She didn't need whole bikes, just parts to use here and there on the float. I happened to be standing right there and he directed her to me. It was an opportune moment that comes along only when all the stars align and we get a crazy idea to go visit a bike shop that we heard about on a message board, all the way across town. I was able to help this woman with her bike scraps. She's even going to bring it all back for recycling when the parade is over.
Before leaving the bike shop I bought a really nice Planet Bike brt-7, 7-LED wide-view tall blinky light for the back of my bike. The face of my old one fell off and broke when I hit a pothole last week. This one is cool! It has two LED's pointed to each side and three up the middle. I like night-time visibility.
Overall I give this bike shop 3 thumbs up. Two thumbs up for Chuck's personable nature and excellent bike shop and one for the magic moment of meeting Mary, the bicycle-float builder.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:55 PM

June 20, 2005

Finding out if your tent is secured

Today after the storm I saw a couple of those canopy tents that had blown down, along with a few trees in our neighborhood. The first thing I thought of was this:
It's not until a storm comes along that we find out just how secure our tent is. There is an instant meditation on life. Metaphorically these blown over tents are like our lives sometimes. Stuff happens and we see how we handle it. Sometimes we get blown over and hopefully we are not too bent out of shape to get back up.
This weekend I was kind of in a funk and didn't write anything for my blog, mainly because I was too tired and had too much going on. I ended up taking today off work because I was too exhausted from the weekend.
It all started Friday night when I rode up to Blaine to the Velodrome at the National Sports Center to try the track. It was just our Saint Paul Bike Racing Club Beginner's Racing Program students and instructors therel; about 50 of us total. This was a totally awesome experience. Very strange feeling riding on those steep banks. It just made me want to ride faster, since it was easier to control the bike, or at least feel safer the faster I rode. You don't really have to steer these things; It's more like counter steering. And another highlight was the experience of riding a single-speed fixed-gear bike. That was an interesting experience. Now I want to build one just to play around on. You know, for those times when I get bored with riding 27 gear combinations. But like usual, money doesn't grow on trees, so now I'm looking for cheap options. Anyone have an old fixed gear my size?
So, by the time I got home on Friday night I was too tired to sit in front of the computer. My wife was sitting in the neighbor's yard having some wine with the neighbor so they invited me over chat. I changed real quick and had a beer with them. That was fun until my eyelids started closing and I started getting delerious from the night's exhausting activities and fun.
Saturday I worked all day on our wood picket fence, then started building my wooden bicycle trailer. It's going to be awesome when I'm done. I designed and built (am building) this thing. I ended up changing my design a couple of times and had to rip it apart to redo things. It's huge. It's 2 feet, 6 inches wide by 6 feet long and has a flat bed with 16-inch wheels and mounts to the seat post. I can haul lawnmowers and bikes and almost anything else on this thing. Mainly I wanted a serious trailer for bulky but not too heavy of objects. I won't be carrying any refrigerators around on a bike I think, but who knows. I've decided I'm going to learn how to do welding, so I might make a metal trailer frame for objects like that. The design and building process on that trailer took me until 3am, Sunday morning. I set my alarm for 5am to get ready and go for a ride with Jim, but didn't wake up until 6:15am, then started getting ready, eating, etc, and realized that I'd never make it to the rendezvous point so I just called it quits and went back to bed. After that I went to the coffee shop and overdid the caffeine intake. I came home, did a few more things, and then worked on my trailer some more. The tongue is not stable so the trailer wobbles and I was trying to find a solution. It's very difficult out of wood. I think I have a solution now. We'll see. Then we went to my father-in-laws house for Father's Day and had dinner with my wife's family. It was late when we got back home and I worked until 2am on that trailer. I was too tired to go to work today so I called in and told my boss I wasn't coming in. As it turned out, my help at the bike shop was needed teaching a class to about 15 high-school kids, but I didn't know about it until it was over. Too bad, it would have been fun for me. Today I talked to a guy who had a bike sitting upside down outside of his apartment for a few days. It's his son's bike and he was unable to fix it, so I told him I would fix it and bring it back. Well, the tubes were shot and one of the tires was wrecked so I had to make a run to the bike shop to get parts. I did that but haven't fixed it. My daughter recruited me to build a built-in shelf for her TV in her room. So we engineered that and it works great. But I needed anchor bolts for that to hold the braces onto the plaster walls. That trip to the hardware store cost me 75 dollars. I bought other things. I found some nice yellow paint for my trailer and some other hardware and things we needed for the house.
Then I came home, ate dinner and built a shelf. Now it's too late to do anything else and I have to go to work tomorrow, so I'm going to bed. I guess in retrospect I was blown over this weekend by my own storm. I haven't ridden my bike since Friday night, I shorted myself on sleep, stopped exercising, ate like a pig, drank too much caffeine and didn't write my blog entries. After all of this I was feeling kind of cruddy. I think I like my athlete lifestyle better. At least then I feel like I'm functioning within normal parameters.

My storm knocked me down this weekend. Now I hope to get back to something healthier. My fence is all up, my trailer is almost done, both need to be painted but I can see the end. I'm going to ride my bike tomorrow hard and fast. I remember the doctor asking me once, "How many times a week do you break a sweat?" I chuckled and answered, "You mean how many times per day?" Well, in the past few days, the sweating I've been doing is just from the humidity, not from getting my cardio-vascular system cranking.

Sorry Jim for missing your ride. It would have been fun for me and I was looking forward to it. I'll try to catch the next ride you organize. Happy Father's day!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:17 PM

June 16, 2005

Building Fences together

tonight I gave up my bike ride to continue building a fence with my wife. She had started earlier today and made a couple of mistakes putting a few pieces together. When I discovered the mistake she got upset because it meant we would have to undo what she did to start over. She got really down on herself and said something to the effect, "Why do I even try these things!?" But I reassured her that it wasn't that big of a deal and not to worry about it or get down on herself. We could fix it fairly quickly and get it done.
One of my base philosophies is to never be too hard on oneself. We can be our own greatest enemy sometimes.
So then I proceeded to put the fence together with my wife's assistance. I made three big mistakes, each time having to tear apart what I just did. I didn't do it on purpose, but I felt my frustration level rising. Then I realized that I just got to experience the frustration my wife felt. What a gift! This is another good reason to not be too hard on others either. It's better to look for solutions than to find fault. That's how we build fences together.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:43 PM

June 15, 2005

Road Art

Over the past year as Iíve been riding my bicycle Iíve seen all kinds of things in the road. My friend Dan calls it ďRoad ArtĒ and has a display shelf at work where he proudly shows off his collection. Iíve added a few pieces to it that Iíve discovered in my path.
Many strange things have been found such as pennies, quarters, forks, spoons, knives, toys, nuts and bolts, car parts, employee ID badges, and various other strange and odd wonders. A few weeks ago I found a book and tonight as I was riding home I found another one. This one is a Childrenís Level 3 Ė Reading Alone Dorling Kindersley Readers book. These books are designed to help kids ďlearn to read then read to learn.Ē This book was titled, ďSpacebusters, the race to the moon,Ē by Philip Wilkinson. It was actually quite informative and interesting. It talked about our first trip to the moon. One thing that struck me was that these astronauts had a 50-50 chance of coming back alive. If anything went wrong during any stage of their mission they might not have come back alive. For instance when they were landing on the moon they couldnít find a clear, safe landing spot so they had to expend a lot more fuel to find and navigate to one. If they spent too much they wouldnít be able to rendezvous with the control module again. But they made it. When they were ready to leave the moon they had to fly up and meet the control module and dock with it. If they didnít fly the craft just right, they could have missed it and be left stranded in space. They were also afraid of the moon dust igniting when it came into contact with the oxygen in the spacecraft. It was all over the astronauts suits from their walk on the planet. They could have exploded in space, but it didnít happen.

Nothing I do during my life carries with it a 50-50 chance of coming back alive. So I have some respect for the people who took that risk and am thankful that Iím not in a position that requires me to do so. Today Iím particularly thrilled to be picking up road art, especially when It makes me think and I learn from it.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:51 PM

June 14, 2005

Banding together

During a crisis people come together and support each other and give each other comfort. Often as the dark times are coming to a close and daylight approaches, people stop coming together and go their own separate ways. But let's not stop talking and meeting together, but let's encourage one another - Even more as we see the day approaching. What gives us comfort during a crisis is also what makes a great community.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:56 PM

June 13, 2005

The bunny hop

Tonight at our make-up training session for the rain days we had in the Beginning Racer's Program we practiced the bunny hop. That was fun. The objective is to "hop" the bike over potholes and other obstacles. It takes a little practice and coordination to pull up with both feet at once while lifting the handlebars and continuing to pedal. But eventually I got it. Maybe if I had practiced this before I might not have broken a spoke when I hit a pot hole on Sunday's ride.

Friday night is the Velodrome - Track Racing! I can't wait to experience it.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:24 PM

June 12, 2005

Interesting day

This morning's 30 or so mile ride turned out to be 61 miles by the time I got home. At 44 miles at a good 19.8mph average speed I called it quits and headed for home by myself. Of course I was way out by Hudson when this happened but I had a nice ride all the way back on 10. It was a good time to think.

After this ride I was really tired. I stopped at the coffee shop and had a smoothy, then came home and showered, then rode away again to go on an organized leisure ride. That was really fun. What a strange contrast to the morning's ride.

Tomorrow night we have our last cycle racing class and then the track racing on Friday night. I'm excited to try that!

Posted by carl1236 at 10:25 PM

June 11, 2005

What I'm reading right now

The mugging of America
by Bill Moyers
AlterNet.org

The edited transcript of Bill Moyer's speech, delivered June 3 at the Take Back America conference in Washington, DC.

http://www.truthout.org/issues_05/printer_060605LA.shtml
http://www.ourfuture.org
http://www.alternet.org

Posted by carl1236 at 10:52 PM

Morning Sprint Ride

This morning I did the Saturday Sprint Ride with SPBRC group. It was fast. I did 49-and-a-half miles at an average speed of 19.9mph. They lost me on one hill. I can't believe the speeds they were taking these hills at! This ride I worked really hard! I eventually caught back up and then toward the end of the ride they lost me again because I had to slow down for a garbage truck that stopped in the road. Once I lost the draft, I was riding at about 23mph and they disappeared ahead sprinting on at about 36mph. I was doing ok until I had to slow down. It took me the whole way back to Grand Performance from Franklin Avenue to catch up to them. Finally myself and another guy caught up a block from the shop so we all finished together. That was a tough ride!
I'm riding with them again at 7am tomorrow, but they promised that ride was at a slower pace and only about 30 miles.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:47 PM

June 10, 2005

A night out

Tonight we went to a dinner and one guy had a few too many drinks. It happens sometimes. The host felt it necessary to apologize for this person's behavior. I told her that it wasn't necessary for her to apologize because she was a perfect host and everything was wonderful. I know how it goes. Sometimes we get over nervous in new situations and over do it. Actually tonight I overdid it too. I ate two large plates of food and drank way too much alcohol. I don't think I made a fool of myself thankfully. I'd hate to have the host make excuses for me. She was a wonderful host and the food was great and it was a fun little party. The guy wasn't really that bad underneath.
I'd better get to bed soon though, because tomorrow I'm doing a hard training ride. Actually I've been getting between eight and nine hours of sleep all week and I can't believe the energy I've had, even when increasing my physical activities. I think the combination of heavy exercise, eating a lot of calories and exercising hard feels really good.
Saturday's ride:
"Time: 7:30 AM
Location: At the Grand Performance shop
Description: A 2.5 hour ride, including several sprints. Generally Summit to the High Bridge, winding south to Cliff Road, back through Eagan to Hwy 13, west over the pedestrian bridge along 494, up 34th in Bloomington to Post Road, through Ft. Snelling State Park to Minnehaha Falls. Up the West River Road to the Franklin Avenue Bridge. Back down the East River Road to Summit and back to the shop.
This is a hard ride, sometimes with up to 40 riders. Occasionally, the ride will break into two groups."

Then at one o'clock I'm doing a group ride from the Sibley Bike Depot to Minnehaha falls. That will be a fun, pleasant social ride. No stress. I'm looking forward to chatting with everyone and hanging out.

My brother is here from Albuquerque, NM, so we are spending about 5 hours at my Aunt's house visiting with relatives. I'm really looking forward to seeing all of them again!

It's going to be a full day tomorrow so now I'm off to bed.
Sweet dreams!

Posted by carl1236 at 9:53 PM

June 9, 2005

more riding

I'm still riding. And eating more, and sleeping more, and feeling great and tired all at the same time. I went for a group ride at GP tonight and by the time I got home I had ridden 30 miles for the night. That was fun. Now I'm going to bed early again! haha. It might be a trend.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:08 PM

June 8, 2005

Victory!

Tonight I rode in the Great River Energy St. Paul Time Trial. It was painful but good. I didn't reach my goal, but did about the same as the Lilllydale Time Trial. But I already knew that I've been slacking for the past month on training. This ride was a victory for me because I got in that zone where I was at my maximum performance. I was breathing hard and my legs hurt and kept going. I love time trials now because of the nature of the race. It's all individual. Each person is out there by themselves with no team tactics, no drafting, no breakaways. Just the body, the bike, the road, the mental games. One of the mental games I faced in this time trial was, "you don't have to push harder, it's just for fun anyway, you don't have anything to prove." Well, those thoughts are true, but don't help me push my limits. I responded by pushing harder, because I knew those thoughts were a sign that I was not at my limit yet.

Tonight I was really happy to see that almost the entire tear-down/cleanup crew were guys from the Sibley Bike Depot. There were about ten or so volunteers tearing down metal fences, podiums, starting ramp, tents and street baricades. It was fun work with a good crew of people to work with. And the cleanup didn't take too long so I was home before it got dark.

Another exhausting day in my training plan. Tomorrow I will be going for a long bike ride with the SPBRC after work. That means I get to eat a lot of food and drink a lot of water tomorrow also.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:21 PM

June 7, 2005

Anticipation

Last night I slept nine and a half hours! I felt so good today that getting motivated for a run wasnít even a problem. And I had a great 3-mile run! Tonight is a rest night and tomorrow Iíll be riding a 4.5 mile time trial at : http://www.minnbikefestival.com

Tomorrow at lunch Iíll be walking down there to watch the pros do their time trials. The winners of this initial stage of the five-stage Nature Valley Grand Prix race will probably be riding about an average speed of 30 miles per hour. My goal is 23mph, which would be one mph faster than my first time trial. Iím not doing the rest of the series because I donít qualify, not being a professional or elite amateur. My first ever road race is in a few weeks at Dakota Technical College.

Tonight then will be quiet around my house. Iím planning on going to bed early, reading until I fall asleep, getting up at a normal time, riding to work and eating enough food to fuel me on to a faster time. Thatís my plan and Iím sticking to it! ;-)

Posted by carl1236 at 4:41 PM

June 6, 2005

Energy and Motivation

Today I was a little tired. It clouded my mind and left me a little less than motivated to do even the simple tasks at work. In my quest to understand how motivation is effected by various events and conditions, I have been using my bike racing, running and other training as tools in that process. Tonight I have more examples for how my energy levels effect motivation.
My low energy levels today were caused by a lack of sleep on Saturday night. In fact I didnít go to bed at all Saturday night because I was having too much fun researching something about bicycles online. Sunday morning I felt ok, but after the parade, until about 4pm while hanging out and talking with the others, I was falling asleep in my chair. After I got home Sunday night, I couldnít take a nap so when I went to bed later I was exhausted.
I got a full-nights rest, but I was still very tired this morning. As a result I had a hard time focusing at work and my motivation was low. Even talking with my friend on the phone I was feeling a little blah and unresponsive. I was trying to talk myself into going for a run at lunch, but nope. By the time lunch came around I was too hungry and tired to do it. I decided to go eat lunch in the park by the stream. That was really nice. Then I walked over to the bike shop to chat with the guys there, helped a couple of customers and then went back to work. It was a strange day. At the end of the day, about 4:30pm I ate a Cliff Bar to give me an energy boost before my bike racing class. It sure didnít seem to help while riding there. I felt weak and sluggish. And I had a headache. And guess what we were doing in class tonight! We were doing hill climbing all night!
At class they handed out a Cliff bar to everyone, but since I had just eaten one about an hour before, I decided to hold on to it for later. After about a half hour into our training we had a break and I ate the Cliff Bar. That seemed to help. Another thing that helped was pushing past my tired, weak feeling and exerting myself. I donít know what to call this phenomenon, but Iíve experienced it a few times before. After really heavy exertion and breathing, my blood must be flowing better, and the tired, weak feeling in my muscles goes away.
Of course I think this boost in energy is also tied to having enough fuel. On previous occasions that I knew I was going to have a heavy workout, I ate more food, more frequently. During tonightís hill-climbing adventures, I actually felt more motivated than I did all day and the tiredness was gone. On the ride home after class I went up a couple of big hills and I felt great. Now Iím tired again so Iím off to bed. Itís been a long day.
Tomorrow Iím going to try to motivate myself into doing a short run, then on Wednesday Iím riding in the Time Trial in St. Paul. I canít wait. Itís 4.5 miles and Iím going to try to improve my time from the last Time Trial I did.

Sleep + Fuel + physical exertion = motivation

Posted by carl1236 at 10:01 PM

June 5, 2005

Grand Old Days Parade

I was there. In the parade! Haha. It's so wierd. I and a few other people from Sibley Bike Depot were there riding our bikes. We had three small kids trailers with us that were using to carry a few little kids bikes. We gave the kids bikes away. On the other 'truss' trailer we had an old light-blue 3 Speed bike standing up. I was riding my red Armstrong 3 speed. We zig-zagged and rode around each other throughout the parade. It was fun. We handed out a lot of brochures and talked to people along the way.
One guy stopped me and told me about his wife's Armstrong bike. That was fun.
There were several great moments during this parade. The first one came when I took a photo of Maria with the vulcan "V" smudge on her face. She was a good sport and laughing. All of the volunteers did a great job there today and we had a good time. The second highlight came when I invited a man on a very distinctive Trike with canopy to ride with us. I just saw him sitting there by the side watching the parade, and knew I had to go over to him. I asked him if he wanted to ride in the parade with our group. He grinned from ear to ear and said yes. To my surprise, no less than 10 or so people yelled out at him from the crowd as we passed. All up and down Grand Avenue, these people knew this man. After the parade I thanked him again for riding with us. then he went on his way. Also it was unbelievable that I ran into Mike Hazzard, who produces some really awesome documentary videos. He was there taking photos of my new friend for a video about "Mr. Positive."
The last highlight was hanging out at the coffee shop next to the bike shop with 4 homeless people chatting and sipping on an iced mocha.

So now I'm exhausted and going to bed. Time flies when you are having fun, huh?

Posted by carl1236 at 9:20 PM

Busy Weekend

Yesterday I participated in the Art in the Park Parade at Rice Park. I helped fix problems with kid's bikes and rode along with them in their art-bike parade.
Today I'm going to be in the Grand Ol Days parade riding my 3-speed bike! That should be fun. It's a bicycle PR weekend.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:55 AM

June 3, 2005

Learning a lesson

The process of troubleshooting a bike is no different than troubleshooting software. When you really understand how something is supposed to work, it's easier to diagnose why it's not working. Today I was working on a customer's bike while he was waiting so there might have been just a little pressure to get it fixed quickly. first I had to fix both flat tires. That was easy. then I had to adjust the brakes. That was easy. Then I had to adjust the Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub. That was not going so well. Just when I thought I had It started acting up again, missing a gear. I tried backing it off, I tried tightening it, I tried readjusting the indicator chain. Nothing worked, until I discovered my shifter lever was sliding up and down the handlebar. After I tightened that I tried to get it to shift but it was not shifting into first gear. Dave looked at it and backed off the adjustment screw and it started working. I started with the screw all the way off, so my methods were correct, but I failed to start back at the beginning after I secured the shifting lever. So now I should not have to make that mistake again. When troubleshooting anything, we can only do one fix at a time and there is a reason for sequences. I am so happy that I am able to learn lessons.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:36 PM

June 2, 2005

46 Miles and the Break is over

Including my ride from work to Grand Performance and my ride home afterward, I rode 46 miles tonight at an average speed of 17.7 mph. I was so happy I was finally able to get a good workout in. I've had so many interuptions and lack of motivation given the huge amounts of rain we've had in the past month. So now my break is over and I have to start working hard again at training. I hope to actually do a real bike race soon so here we go...

Posted by carl1236 at 10:19 PM

June 1, 2005

Peace

What brings us peace inside? Sometimes we are in a very agitated state and nothing seems to help. We fly around like a tornado, trying to occupy ourselves so we don't have time to think too deeply. On Monday night my neighbor and I rode our bikes around the neighborhood and talked. Before that he was going a little bonkers. After taking a break and chatting together for a half hour while riding around, he felt at peace and could rest. I think just having someone to talk to can alleviate a lot of the agitation in our minds. This is getting it off our chest, and not letting it eat us up inside.
Unfinished business can cause a lot of stress for us also and peace inside comes when we finish it with a job well done. Tonight at the bike shop I was working on an old 3-Speed bike for sale, cleaning it up and adjusting the gears. At the end of the evening all I had left to do was put a couple of cable clips on the frame to hold the cables in place. The other people in the shop wanted to close down and go for a bike ride, but I wanted to finish this bike before leaving. If I didn't, who knows when I would have gotten in there to do it. I was not at peace while looking for the cable clips and thinking about what would happen to this bike the next day if it wasn't done. So I made them wait for me while I finished the bike. It brought me great peace knowing that it was done. I put a price tag on it and walked out the door. The ride was peaceful and I didn't think about that 3-Speed bike I was working on. Getting that ONE job done was enough to bring me peace.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:27 PM