Mixed Feelings

I’ve been a little sick for over a week.  I didn’t feel up to riding to work today, so Robin drove me.  I called my doctor and scheduled an appointment for today.  Then I realized I had no bike to get there.

I took a bus from work to the doctor’s office without much problem.  The doctor said I have a minor virus and that it’ll pass.  He sent me on my way.

I didn’t feel like taking another bus.  It would take longer than walking.  It was only two miles from home.  So, I lugged my laptop home in the 94 degree temperatures.  It wasn’t a big deal.

The doctor talked to me about my weight.  I’ve gained since my last visit.  I’ve justified my lifestyle.  I’ve promised to do better.  Months have gone by since I knew this was an issue yet I have yet to actually do anything about it.

My bike miles are way down.  I ride slower when I do ride.  I seldom do long rides.  I’m not in as good of shape as I was.

Some of this was precipitated by my neck issue cutting into the long rides.  I have less fun on the recumbent, but am perfectly comfortable with it.

I bought the new bike two be able to do the gravel rides with friends, but I’m beginning to think that neither I, nor the bike, are prepared for that.  I’m wishing I hadn’t spent the money on it.

I don’t have answers yet.  I don’t know how to motivate myself to get in better shape again. I need to figure it out.

Canoe Comedy

I’m a member of the Louisville Ski Club.  My volleyball league is part of that.  Yesterday was the annual canoe trip.

I had last been in a canoe in April 2010 on my North Carolina vacation.  It was on the New River near Boone, NC, and was pretty sedate.  The biggest hazards were minor rapids over rocky shallow spots.  We kept the canoe upright and it was fun, possibly even a bit boring.

Yesterday’s trip was a 12-mile trip on Elkhorn Creek near Frankfort KY.  This trip has been scheduled for months, and with the drought we were wondering if the creek would be passable.  The recent rains over the last few weeks solved that.  The creek was fairly high and running swiftly.

The trip was from Canoe Kentucky.  They had a macaw with quite a personality.

You lookin’ at me?

I had brought a ziplock bag with me to keep my phone and other stuff in.  It worked well enough last time, and I didn’t plan on getting wet.  The store sold small waterproof boxes.  One that would fit my phone was $12.  That turned out to be a wise investment.

They bused us six miles upstream, so the halfway point would be back at Canoe Kentucky.  This allows a 12-mile ride on Elkhorn Creek without having to worry about the dam in Frankfort, or where the creek ends at the Kentucky River.

Neither Robin or I are expert canoeists.  She’s been out more than me, so she was captain, at the rear of the boat.

Canoes on Elkhorn Creek

There were 22 of us on the trip from the Ski Club.  I think it was ten canoes and two kayaks.

Once the water got rough, my phone was safely locked in the box, and I didn’t take more pictures until after the trip.

This was the couple we car-pooled with.

The water got rough where the creek got very shallow and rocky.  I’m not entirely sure how, but we ended up sideways and I fell out of the canoe.  The safety video tells you to fall upstream so the canoe doesn’t run you over.  I don’t know how they plan such things.  I, of course, was downstream from the canoe.

It was shallow water, but the current was strong.  I was unable to stand, and the canoe (with Robin still in it) was attempting to go over me.  The water was too shallow for that.  I grabbed the canoe, which had the unintended consequence of dumping Robin into the water with me.

The much lighter canoe then passed over us.  It, our paddles, cooler, drinks, snacks, and Robin’s life-vest continued downstream without us.  I was wearing my life vest, but the water was quite shallow.  We were able to stand up in the mid-calf deep water, but walking to shore wasn’t feasible.  I was already hurting from the rocks I had bounced against.

Robin insisted we float downstream.  I balked.  She took off without me and seemed to have no issues catching up with the group ahead that was gathering our stuff.

I allowed myself to float.  The rocks were painful, but only continued for a dozen feet for so before I was in deeper water.

The current didn’t quite take me the same direction as Robin.  She ended up on the right bank where others were.  The water wasn’t deep there.  I ended up heading toward the left bank, which was much deeper and had a large bushy tree hanging into the water.  It was dense enough to be impassible, and probably continued to far into the water to go under it.

As I approached the tree, I grabbed for a larger branch to support the force of the current.  I didn’t want to get pushed into the tree.  It was covered in thorns.  I was trying to figure out how to get myself out of the predicament, when a more skilled guy on a kayak made his way over and had me grab the front of his kayak, and he pulled me away from the tree and to shallower water.

Now we re-grouped.  We had retained most of our canned beverages.  The fried chicken was still sealed in it’s container.  Our phones were dry in their boxes.  Nothing was lost other than some of the beverages and all of our ice.  We were both beat up and had sore spots, but nothing major was bleeding.  We continued on.

There were many islands in the creek.  These narrower spots caused greater flow and issues with trees at the edge.  We had a number of close-calls and a few collisions.

We eventually made it to the halfway point, where I ran back to the car to grab our chips that were forgotten the first time.

Some of our crew, back at Canoe Kentucky – the halfway point

We continued on.  I was half tempted to sit out the rest of the trip, but that would have left Robin without a canoe partner.

Some more in our group – turned around backwards – oops

At some point we dumped a second time.  I don’t remember the details.  It was deep enough that I didn’t hit rocks.  We had our cooler bungied in this time, and lost nothing.

We approached a narrow spot.  There were too many canoes bunched up.  We backed off to let the group in front go first.  They had a few issues, but made it through.  We did not.  We ran directly into a tree at the water’s edge.  It was a hard impact and I slid off the seat on to the bottom of the canoe.  The front of the canoe went downward and we took in a bunch of water, swamping us, but we didn’t tip.  We managed to paddle (half sunk) to the other shore to empty out.  Before we got out of the canoe, another group came through and collided.  Multiple canoes hit us, but we were in very shallow water.  Once the group was past, we dumped the water and continued.  Somewhere in that mess I lost my towel, which was already soaking wet.  No big loss.

We came across another rough spot and tangled with a tree.  Me managed to lose one of our paddles.  We didn’t dump however.  Another couple of guys in our group (Dave and Pat) dumped and lost a paddle and a cooler.  We were fighting to regain control at the time, and continued our way downstream a bit.  We eventually got to shore where our paddle was returned to us.  I had Dave and Pat’s lost paddle.  We also grabbed their cooler.

We kept waiting for them to come downstream, but there was no sign of them.  I eventually walked upstream (luckily it was an easy climb up to a road in that spot) and found them.

Pat had lost his glasses.  Their canoe was trapped under a log.  The current was strong and I really didn’t think we’d get the canoe out.  The three of us were able to get the canoe free, which then led to us trying to control a sunken canoe in fast current.  We managed, and I gave them their missing paddle.  I walked back to our landing spot and we continued on.

It was pretty calm after that.  Our take-out spot was right after the US127 bridge.  We stopped just before the bridge where there was a nice place to eat and swim.  We talked with others in the group and enjoyed our snack.

After a bit, it was time to go.  Robin and I got back in the canoe and headed downstream.  The water was deep here.  It seemed the current was faster than it should have been.  We could see the take-out spot.  I complained that “of course the take out is in heavy current”. I had barely gotten that complaint out when, for no apparent reason, the canoe flipped, dumping us both in the water.

Robin wasn’t wearing her life vest (again).  I was wearing mine, but apparently it wasn’t tight enough, as it moved upward on me, cutting of my vision.  She struggled because her footwear – crocs (poor choice) slid up on her ankles, making it difficult to swim.  She was some distance from the canoe.  I was holding on to it.  Her life vest was right there in front of me.  I intended to throw it to her, but she had fastened it to the cooler, and I couldn’t get it free.

I saw one of my sandals floating (also a poor choice of footwear), and I threw it in the half-swamped canoe.  Robin was making progress toward the canoe.  We were both trying to get to the left bank, as that’s where the take-out was.

She reached the canoe, and we both swam toward shore, speeding up our glacial progress.  Amazingly, we made it to the take-out before getting carried downstream.

Robin lost her towel and a visor she had been wearing.  I (amazingly) still had both sandals.  We still had our phones and keys, and they were dry.

We were both grumpy and glad to be done with the trip.  Canoeing with someone can be stressful, much like tandem bike riding.

It also turned out to be more dangerous than I thought it would be.  On an average bike ride, I don’t crash, fall over, or collide with stationary objects.  We flipped three times and swamped the canoe once.  We collided with trees, other canoes, and one kayak (but the kayak wasn’t stationary, and it was her fault).

The two guys with the stuck canoe really scared me.  If that had been a person rather than a canoe, they would have died.  There really was no way out.

As far as the flip right at the end… The other canoeists complained about the current there, and one even said they almost flipped.  It looked calm, but there must be monsters (trolls?) under that bridge the get enjoyment from rolling canoes over.

I think my future paddling adventures will be on calmer water until I learn more.

We survived it – bus ride back

Once I was home, I went to bed early and slept for 13 hours.  Canoeing didn’t seem strenuous.  I think the stress did me in as much as anything else.

This morning I woke up quite sore.  I have a banged and scraped knee.  My right hand at the base of the thumb has a deep, painful bruise.  I have a scraped ankle, sore spots on my feet, and a scrape on my ass.

I’m still better off than Robin.  She has at least as many bumps and scrapes as I do.  She also hurt her finger.  It may be broken.  It was quite swollen today.  I helped her cut a ring off that was constricting the swollen finger.  She hated to lose the ring, but it’s better than losing a finger.

I think Robin and I learned things about each other too.  Neither of us behaved that well to each other under stress.  Does that mean we avoid canoeing together?  Do we work on technique?  I don’t know.  I’ll have to discuss it with her once she’s willing.

Strange Driver Interaction

Strange Driver Interaction
Shit People Say

I had a strange driver interaction downtown Monday.  I was northbound on 5th street.  It’s a one-way three-lane road.  There are lights every block.  The right lane is parking and right turn lanes.  I ride the middle lane.  I do this regularly with no issues.

Monday, while I’m riding my new bike, an older woman very politely asked if I had the right to “ride in the road like that?“.
Yes, ma’am” was my reply.
… but without a license plate?” she mumbled.
I told her she should “look up the Kentucky State Statutes” for herself.
“I will.” she replied and drove on.

I’m glad the conversation was civil.  There were no threats.  She didn’t tell me I wasn’t allowed to do something, she asked.  I’m frustrated that road users don’t understand the laws governing them.

It’s not just drivers that are like this.  There are hundreds (thousands?) of people in Louisville who ride bikes on the sidewalks or the wrong way, through red lights.  I honestly think that at least half of them don’t know that the laws apply to them too.


Michael got me started on Google+ so a group of us could talk about RCCS plans.  I quickly learned that G+ was about circles, which can be based on interests.

So, yes, I have an RCCS circle, but it’s just a few people.  My largest circle is Cyclists.  I’ve met them (online) and a few I knew IRL (in real life).  G+ has a feature (that I’ve never used) called Hangouts.  My understanding is that it’s just a video chat of a number of people.  I won’t do this at work, and I’m often not dressed at home, so I’ll just have to miss out.  🙂

However, some in my cycling circle are trying out HIRLs.  This is a Hangout In Real Life.  John from Elizabethtown Kentucky visited Ben in Virginia.  Asher from here in Louisville also visited Ben.  A woman from New Jersey is traveling to Oregon for work, and will HIRL with some others in her circles.

Scott is coming through Louisville on his way to northern Indiana on Thursday.  I going to meet up with him for lunch across the river in Jeffersonville.  Matt, from here in Louisville, was going to join us, but turns out he’ll be busy.  Too bad.  He lives here, but I have yet to meet him IRL.

I have a conference to attend in San Diego next month, but I don’t have anyone from San Diego in my circles.  Oh well.

The bad part about G+?  I’ve almost entirely quit posting here.  I’m trying to rectify that now.  I’m not going to quit using G+ and there really is a high-level of discussion on a variety of topics, from bicycles and traffic, to Roger and his Macaw.  My posts get many more comments there than here.

My G+ profile is here.

Change in Plans and Volleyball

I mentioned before that I signed up for volleyball.  I’ve played the last two Mondays.  It’s fun, tiring, and leaves me covered in sand.  I ride my bike there after work.  Sometimes I come directly from work, other times I have time to ride home first.  Robin and I usually go across the street for dinner after the games.

I’m not good at volleyball.  Luckily the league I’m playing with isn’t great either, but I’ve got plenty of room for improvement before I can give any of them grief.  🙂  After only two days (six games), I feel I’ve learned a few things.  The hardest part is coordination.

Yesterday I decided at the last minute to ride the new bike to work.  It doesn’t have a rear rack, so I had to hang my laptop bag over my shoulder.  It wasn’t very comfortable, but it worked.  I’ve said I’m not going to put a rack or fenders on the bike.  I’ve changed my mind.

The new bike will get a rear rack for panniers – whether for commuting or camping.  It’ll also get one of the small front racks, like I put on Robin’s bike.  I won’t be adding fenders, as I want room for bigger tires.  Tim has offered to let me try out some monster 47mm tires.  I’ll try them out for fit soon.

Robin took me to work today.  I seem to have pulled a muscle during volleyball last night.

I’ve put a whole 14 miles on the new bike so far.  I won’t ride it tomorrow, because I don’t like carrying the laptop on my shoulder.  I’m probably going to ride the Big Dummy.

Now I need to get the money together for the racks, tires, seatpost, clamp, etc…

Goals, Shmoals

I had intended to not drink for 30 days.  That didn’t happen.  I did cut down a bit though.

I had intended to ride 500 miles (or 700) in July.  500 is unlikely.  700 won’t happen.

I had started to weigh myself again, but that habit never “set”.

I had started to track my food consumption again, but quickly lost interest.

That said, I feel that I’m on the right track.  I’m riding more.  My neck is better (other than some stiffness from Saturday’s foolishness).  I’m cooking more.  I’m happier most of the time.

Maybe it’s time to forget the numbers for a while and enjoy life.

What Was Old Is Now New Again

Back in April of 2008, I bought a bike.  This started the crazy/wonderful/bizarre/car-free lifestyle I have now.  I put over 3000 miles on that old bike before breaking it.  It went through everything.  I did off-road riding, commuting, gravel rides, hilly rides, coffee rides, and everything else on that bike.  I think this one sums it up the best.

I had named that bike Nermal.  Nermal was a cheap ($225) hybrid bike.  I bought one for my daughter also.  My daughter’s was stolen last year.  Although I had upgraded mine quite a bit, it was comfortable and versatile.  It was not a lightweight bike though.  It was comfortable.  The handlebars were up high enough.  I started riding drop bars with my Surly LHT that has since been sold.

Although my neck flared up for the first time in June last year, and again in December, I think it’s been a long term problem going back eight or so years.  I remember periods with a very bad stiff neck long before I rode a bike.

I think I’m done with drop-bar bikes.  I’m not happy with the city bars I put on the single-speed, and I don’t know what I’m going to do there.  The recumbent will remain my touring and distance bike.  The Big Dummy will continue cargo duty.  The single speed will probably be my commuter again, once I figure out the bars, and replace the damaged crankset.

How do I do gravel rides?  How do I have a bike that’s easy to haul on or in a car?

That was settled today.  Rather than spend $1000+ on another bike that may not work, I spent $350 on a (relatively) cheap Giant Cypress ST – the same model as Nermal, the bike that got me started in 2008.

There will be some differences.  I’m not going to put a rack and fenders on this bike.  It won’t be for riding to work.  This will be my gravel bike and my travel bike.  I may also use it for around town rides and pub crawl rides.  It’s cheap enough that I won’t have a heart attack if it’s stolen.

Behold: The New Bike

It’s not a pretty or elegant bike.  It’s functional and comfortable.  I’m sure I’ll have to make changes to it to ride it regularly.  The wheels may not hold up to the abuse that I’m going to dish out.  The drivetrain is low-end and will get replaced once worn.  I never thought I’d buy a bike like this for myself again.  It may be just what I need to get back into the fun rides that I did in 2009 and 2010.

Back to June:  I mentioned I wanted 500 miles for June.  I managed 504.8, so goal accomplished.  I did have a 230-mile tour in June.  I also wanted a 500-mile month in July (actually hoped for 700 miles).  I’m currently at 326 miles, so 700 is a no-go.  500 is possible, but not probable.  I’m hoping having a new bike to ride will help.


Tim had an errand to run in Ohio and wanted to ride the Little Miami Trail while he was there.  He invited me, but the only bike I have that fits on a bike rack is my single-speed, and it needs a crankset before I can ride it again.

He agreed to loan me his single-speed Rivendell Quickbeam.  It’s a beautiful bike, and the only one of his that fits me decently.  It’s a drop-bar road bike, so I was a bit worried about my neck – even with the handlebars raised as far as they go.

Tim’s Quickbeam

After a two-hour drive (and sitting in the parking lot known as I-71) we made it.  After finding a suitable parking place we headed out.

The Little Miami Trail is a rail-trail.  That means there’s no serious hills.  I’ve heard the 3% is the maximum grade, but that number seems to vary.  For the part of the trail we rode, It was probably no more that 0.5%.  That is so flat I never noticed a rise.  Tim thought we were going uphill both ways.

Rail Trail!

The weather was beautiful and the trail traffic was heavy.  We saw a ton of bikes, trikes, tandems, runners, walkers, dogs, and “leftovers” from horses (but never the horses).

The problem with completely flat rides is that you don’t shift your position on the saddle much.  This leads to discomfort.  I was on a low-geared single-speed, so standing and pedaling wasn’t an option.  I could sprint for a bit, then stand and coast, but otherwise, I was sitting and spinning.

The first half of the ride (north to Xenia) was pleasant.  We kept a fairly consistent 12-13mph pace (consistent with the gearing of the bike I was on).  Tim was on a geared bike, but chose a similar gear, and (mostly) stayed in that gear.

Bicycle variety

Once in Xenia, we wanted food.  Local places seemed to not exist.  We chose a Wendy’s.  I put extra salt on my fries to make up for what was coating my skin.  There was a neat little bike shop in Xenia that carried a number of ‘bents.  We didn’t stop to check it out unfortunately.  I did see a Tour Easy parked outside.

Xenia was the turnaround spot.  We headed back south toward Tim’s car.  We were both hurting at this point.  Tim had saddle issues because his Brooks was sagging.  He also had some hand pain.  I was having trouble with my neck, hands, ass, and feet.  The drop-bar road bike thing isn’t working for me anymore.  I wore horrible shoes for cycling.  The constant sit and spin was taking it’s toll.

The last 20 miles was pretty bad for me.  This wasn’t a hard ride.  It was so flat, and leisurely paced that it should have been easy.  I was riding a bike that didn’t quite fit.  Tim was riding a bike with a saggy saddle.  We were both sitting too much.  Tim mitigated this toward the end by shifting to a higher gear and standing.  He could only do it for a while.

I didn’t take many pictures.  I only brought my phone, not a real camera.

We did end up with a 77-mile ride.  I learned about what I need in a bike.  Drop bars are out.  I need a recumbent for most rides or a comfort bike when I can’t use the recumbent.  You’ll hear more about that soon.