Laughing Right Out Loud

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Murphy Visited Me Today

We've all heard the saying, "If something can go wrong, it usually will". Today was that day for me.

Last night, Felicia and I planned to go for an early morning ride today. When the alarm on my BlackBerry went off at 4:45, she told me she wanted to sleep in. I, as a result decided to sleep a little longer and then get up around 5:30 to prepare for my ride alone. When the alarm went off a second time, she asked me to reset the alarm to 6:45 and then leave it on my pillow. I did so, but then before I left I swapped her phone with mine and took mine with me just in case I needed to make an emergency call while out on my ride.

When I left the house, I went out through the garage and did not have a key to get back in. No big deal since everyone would be up when I returned. It was 27-degrees when I hopped on my road bike and departed for my short, but hilly route. About a half mile from the house, my rear shifter went out leaving me stuck in a gear not conducive to a hilly ride. I could downshift, but not upshift, so I left it alone. I turned around and headed back home, but realized I would have to knock on the door or call ahead so someone could let me in to swap bikes. I didn't want to do that, so I turned back around and headed back out planning to change my route to a less hilly alternative.

The new route was one that I had mapped out on but had not driven to check it out. About 2 miles into the route, I realized I made a wrong turn which put me on Lincoln Street with all the traffic coming into Tullahoma from Moore County. No big deal. I mashed through it and got to Turkey Creek Drive and quickly as I could. A couple of turns later, I began looking for a road that the mapmyride site had shown, but not named (that should have been a big clue). Turns out, that "road" was a dirt path through someone's pasture and it was gated closed. At this point I was on State Highway 130 which is ahilly and curvy two-lane. This is not the best place for a cyclist to be competing for road space with people applying makeup, texting, etc on their daily commute. Nevertheless, I continued on for a little bit, still miffed by the fact that my route was not going as planned. After a few more minutes, I decided to just turn around and follow my tracks back home.

Around this time, 6:45 rolled around and the alarm on my BlackBerry started going off. As with most alarms, annoying is what really gets you going in the morning, and this alarm was no exception. Normally, I would just tap the touch screen to turn it off, but with gloves on this wouldn't work. I thought I could wait the alarm out, but it never stopped. I pulled over, removed my glove and liner and found my phone. I tapped the screen (multiple times), but nothing happened. I assume it was too cold to function properly. I removed and replaced the battery and zipped the phone back up in my jacket pocket. Silence, finally. I continued toward home, but apparently after my phone had time to reboot, the alarm started sounding again. With nothing left to try, I just tried to tune it out and eventually made it back home.

The lessons I carry away from this ride are as follows:
  • 27-degrees is cold and I need wool socks.
  • Turn off alarms, obviously.
  • Single-speed riding can be fun and challenging.
  • Carry a house key in my flat kit.
  • When you carry a bike to the shop to fix the shifter, make sure it is fixed before going on a ride.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Notes From a Beginning Cyclist

This has been an incredible week for me. My mother's surgery was successful and was met with a week-long visit from my brother. My brother came to town with two bikes in tow - his 1974 Schwinn Le Tour II single-speed and his gently used Trek 7300. We had discussed this in advance and he offered to gift to me the Trek.

After we unloaded the bikes, we removed various components and cleaned both bikes really well. Once everything was put back together, I hopped on the Trek for a quick ride down the street. My first reaction was how incredibly smooth this bike was. I have never ridden a non-department store discount bike. As such, I always loathed riding. This bike immediately did away with all those ill feelings toward the sport.

After dealing with snow and ice from Sunday to Tuesday, my brother and I set out for a ride on Wednesday. I downloaded a map from the local bicycle club ( and we set out for the 11.4 mile ride. This being my first ride on a bike since the teenage years, I tired easily and had to make a couple of brief stops, but through my dedication we finished the ride in just over an hour. I know 11 miles is not much, but for me it was a huge accomplishment.

Scott lessoned me on cycling ettiquette and rules while letting me lead the ride at my pace. We saw some beautiful countryside, overprotective dogs and bulls, and even a texting driver coming down the middle of a double-lined road (but still missing us by several feet).

On Thursday I had to go to Nashville for a conference, but was itching to get back out there on the bike. As Scott and I were having dinner with the family, we made plans to go out for a 5:45 a.m. ride on Friday morning. When 5:45 rolled around it was 21-degrees out. Nonetheless, we bundled up and hit the road. This time around, we reversed the route due to traffic flow expectations (turned out to be the right decision) and we made the ride with no stops AND trimmed a couple minutes off our time from Wednesday. After the ride, Scott showered and departed on his return to Omaha.
I am immensely thankful to Scott for pulling me into cycling and for being so very generous and encouraging.
So where do I go from here? I have definitely been bitten by the cycling bug. I joined today and have found around 30 routes in my immediate area. I have also created a couple of routes that I intend to try as soon as possible. I am going out in the morning for a 15-mile ride and then planning to hit the gym right after I finish the ride. I have reached out to a local cyclist in hopes of striking up a friendship and finding a partner for those early morning rides. Both my rides so far have been on the Trek 7300, but I recently also purchased a used Fuji Finest AL (in excellent condition) and I am planning to ride it on my rides this weekend. I am also searching for a bike for Felicia. I am hopeful that she will find as much fun in the sport as I have found.

Some of my goals include: completing a 30-mile ride by the end of March, a 50-mile ride by the end of June, and preparing for a duathlon that occurs in August. I have never done anything of the sort, but I know that I can do it as long as I stay focused.

In the meantime, I look forward to posting more about my personal successes for anyone who would like to share them with me.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

New Years Resolution Update!

Every noble work is at first impossible. – Thomas Carlyle

Today marks the one-month mark of my commitment to become healthier. Here are my results:

Pounds lost: 29
Decrease in BMI: 3.9

I have decided to do this, not only to improve my personal health and self-esteem, but also to enable me to become more actively involved in the family. I figure that the healthier I am, the longer I will be around, and the more energetic I will be to enjoy activities with the family.

For years I have added weight. I have gone through diets in the past and dropped some weight, only to gain it back (and then some) after it was all over with. With my 40th birthday coming up, I took stock of where I was and where I was headed. Quite honestly, I didn’t like it. This time, I got completely committed to doing something about it.

Immediately, I decided to cut out fatty foods and soda. I had given up soda several years ago for Lent and ultimately began to drink non-caffeinated sodas again. Now, I have gotten to where I purchase a single 2-Liter of Diet Sierra Mist once a week and I usually end up pouring out at least a fourth of it at the end of the week. My usual breakfast of a sausage, egg, and cheese McGriddle has been replaced with oatmeal or Special K cereal. For other meals, I am eating fish, chicken, or turkey. I have eaten very little red meat. This is a far cry from the pizza, burgers, barbeque, etc that dominated my selections just over a month ago.

After 2 weeks of adjusting to my diet, I began to perform cardio exercise every day. I decided that I would start walking home from work. I did this once, but found out that the 2.2 mile walk did not feel like I was doing enough. So I planned a different 3.6 mile route. I would run some and walk some. I got tired of the route and dodging cars, so I ended up planning a 4-mile route up and down the Rock Creek Greenway. It is much safer and keeps me surrounded by nature and the sounds of a running stream. I would like to say it gives me time to meditate, but mostly it has given me an opportunity to think about how cold it is. On the upside, I seem to be the only person out there each evening.

Earlier this week, I purchased a used road bike. The bike, a Giant Kronos, is solid, but needs a little maintenance. I will ride it and fix it up, with the goal of selling it down the road a few months to upgrade. I will now be able to add some variety to my cardio routine and explore more of our town in the process.

While the 30 pound loss has been a huge wind in my sail, I am aggressively pursuing my goal of losing 33 more. That will get me down to the size I like to be. Once there, I will evaluate if I want to continue working toward additional loss or if I want to work toward maintaining.

My family has been immensely supportive of this endeavor and I truly feel that I could not achieve these results without them. In addition, Felicia is working hard on her goals as well and I am very proud of her success.

I look forward to updating you again soon!