Two years ago I wrote a post which was titled Anti-Vaxxers are Idiots, in which I explained in great detail how important it is for people to be vaccinated and to vaccinate their children. So it came as something of a depressing surprise for me to witness another needless debate fueled by ceaseless drivel from uninformed conspiracy theorists who still cling to the long-disproved belief that vaccines cause autism and other maladies. I am simply amazed at the level of denial from most of these people; it's like they belong to the "Flat Earth Society." Nevertheless, these fools are most-likely alive and healthy and able to voice their misguided opinions only because previous generations were vaccinated sufficiently enough to halt the spread of diseases which would otherwise have killed the parents or grandparents of these naïve nitwits.
Despite any protestations to the contrary, vaccines stop diseases. Period. If you deny that fact, then there is no other way for me to put this - you're just an idiot. I wish that I could put that nicer way, but that's just the way things are.
However, because someone was positing the theory that vaccines are ineffective since occasionally some people still get sick, I thought that I should point out another point of truth: sometimes a vaccine doesn't just lessen the chances of contracting a disease, sometimes it lessens the severity of the disease.
Here is a true story: during my time in the Army, all of the soldiers were forced to have flu vaccinations every year. This decision was passed down from the Pentagon because diseases run rampant throughout the military, which is due to the deplorable conditions in which we had to live in order to do our jobs. (See the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic for an example.) In any event, there were several years when I was vaccinated and I still got the flu, although I was over it after a day or two. So when I left the military, I decided to stop having my annual flu shot.
However, two years later I contracted the flu during another domestic outbreak. The illness wreaked havoc on my system for several weeks, and my life was spared only because medicine has continued to evolve over the past few decades since the last devastating pandemic. But make no mistake - 20 or 30 years ago I probably would have died from that strain of the flu.
I have learned my lesson, and now I make sure that I get my flu shot every year. Sometimes I still get sick, but never as sick as that year when I skipped my flu shot.
I have recently been unable to read any articles on the www.livestrong.com website, and as a result I sent their customer support staff the following letter:
Despite having been on your mailing list for years and thoroughly enjoying your articles, I am no longer able to use your website because of your poor website design and engineering decisions. Look, I get it - LIVESTRONG needs to make money, and to do so you charge for advertising. And I realize that in order to increase your advertising revenue, most of your "articles" are now "click-bait slideshows" which require your readers to click through multiple pages in order to read a single article.
The problem is, your website designers have built an extremely-fragile house of cards, so more often than not I can only get one or two pages into a "slideshow" before your website ceases to work; e.g. pages hang, display timeout errors, etc. Because I actually WANT to read your content, I will try other browsers and other computers, but the results are the always the same; after a couple of pages I get nothing else.
In some cases I think this is because your website is trying to popup a modal dialog to ask me to sign up for your newsletter, which I already receive, so this is annoying for multiple reasons; I hate being asked to sign up for something to which I am already subscribed, and I hate your website crashing while asking me to do something which I have already done.
As a result, I'll probably stop trying to read your content. Oh sure, I'm just one guy so it's no big deal to you, but here's food for thought: I'm willing to bet that other website users are facing these same frustrations, so you're really losing ALL OUR BUSINESS and not just my business. So please, for my sake and yours, FIX YOUR @#$% WEBSITE.
07/16/2016 - Update: LiveStrong appears to have fixed their problems. Yay! I can read articles again!
Today I completed the Cool Breeze Century in Ventura, CA, which was organized by the Channel Islands Bicycle Club (CIBC). This century ride was billed by the CIBC as: "102 miles with about 4000 feet of climb - moderately challenging, [and] excellent for 1st time centurions." This was my fourth century ride within the past nine months, and despite its advertised status as an excellent ride for "first-time century riders," I think it was one of the more-difficult long distance rides that I have done.
I participated in this century ride with my good friend Kevin, who lives in the Los Angeles area. Kevin told me a few weeks ago that he had signed up for this ride, and at the last minute I invited myself along. Since I live in Arizona, however, this meant that I had to endure a ten-hour drive through the desert to LA on the day before the ride. Nevertheless I met up with Kevin in Ventura on the night before the ride, and we put together our plans for the next day.
We both got up early as planned, and I drove the two of us to the starting point near the Ventura Unified School District offices, where we arrived around 6:15am. (We were one of the last cars to get a great spot in the main parking lot.) We quickly pulled into a parking space, and then Kevin and I put together the last of our things for the day's ride. After a few minutes of deciding what to bring and what to leave, we headed off toward the starting line around 6:30am. In keeping with the spirit of this ride as a "non-race event," there was very little fanfare at the starting line - we simply rode past a set of banners with dozens of other cyclists and we were off.
|Prepping the last of our gear for the day. |
|Last-minute selfie before heading out. |
|Approaching the starting line. |
I should point out before I go any further that I immediately appreciated how well-marked the route was throughout the day; there were route signs everywhere for the duration of the ride. (This was a great improvement over some other rides where you periodically wondered if you had accidentally left the route.) All of the route signs were emblazoned with color-coded arrows which matched the cue sheet that cyclists were given when they registered, so as long as cyclists followed the correctly-colored arrows throughout the day, they were going the right way. One discrepancy that Kevin and I noticed was that the cue sheet which we had been given only listed 97 miles for the length, which was five miles shorter than the 102 miles which was advertised for the ride. I told Kevin not to worry - I had my Garmin GPS with me, and we could use it to verify the ride length when the time came.
|One of the many color-coded route signs |
which were scattered throughout the route.
For the first 2.5 miles our route ran south along highway 33 in Ventura, but soon after that we were riding west along the beach trail by the ocean, which was great; this section of the course was what I thought a ride through California should be.
|Panorama of the ocean as we rode along the beach. |
(Note Rincon Island in the background.)
We were nine miles into the ride and cruising nicely along the beach when I suddenly heard a "Klank! Klank! Klank!" from immediately behind me. My initial thought was that something had fallen off my bicycle, but then I realized that the sound was coming from my rear wheel. I pulled to a stop, and after a quick examination I determined that my bike had broken a spoke. I have no idea how it happened; I didn't ride over anything like a branch which could get tangled up in my spokes - apparently it just snapped. It took me a few minutes of wrangling to bend the broken spoke into a position which would allow me to extricate it from my wheel, but I eventually managed to wrench it out and we quickly got back on the road. (Although I could hear the spoke nipple rattling around inside my rim for the rest of the ride.)
|Kevin and I passing a photographer at 7:30am. |
(Note that this single photo represents the only
time that we saw photographer during the ride.)
We were a little over an hour and 15 miles into the ride when we reached our first stop of the day, which was at Rincon Beach Park. After a quick ten-minute break to refill our water bottles, Kevin and I got back on the road.
|Kevin posing behind my bike. |
|Displaying my usual "hang ten" pose. |
Our route took us north and inland as we left Rincon Beach Park, which kept us away from the water for the next eight miles or so. Over the next mile or so we faced our first climbs of the day, which were relatively short and nothing too difficult to worry about. After a few climbs and descents, we were mostly riding downhill as we rode to the west for the next few miles.
That being said, before the ride I studied the profile on the Ride with GPS website, which the ride organizers were kind enough to share online. With that in mind, I knew that we were rapidly approaching the most-difficult climbs for the day. Apparently I was not the only cyclist to have studied the course in advance, because shortly after we passed the 25-mile mark we faced the first serious climb and several cyclists loudly remarked, "Oh - this is the hill."
|Route Map and Elevation Profile for the Century Ride. |
I'll be honest - this climb was moderately difficult, and thankfully it only lasted for a couple of miles or so. At one point or other, both Kevin's and my bicycles threw their chains when shifting from the large chain ring to the small chain ring, which was exceedingly frustrating. Thankfully each of us was wearing black shorts for the ride, because black shorts always afford a great place to wipe off all the bicycle grease from your hands once you have reseated your chain. (See #14 and #8 and in The Rules.) I should mention that one of the times when Kevin's bike threw its chain during a climb, Kevin did a masterful job of avoiding having to fall down with the bike. Many other people (including me) probably wouldn't have been able to prevent the fall, and several nearby riders remarked, "Nice save!"
After we had reached the summit for this set of climbs, we were treated to three miles or so of downhill riding, which was a great change of pace. Unfortunately, I knew that these few moments of physical respite would be brief; having studied the ride profile, I knew that the next part of the course was going to be the most-difficult segment of the ride.
One we had descended back to sea level and rode west along the ocean for a half-mile or so, we turned inland again and began a one-mile climb to the north and our second stop of the day at the 31-mile point around 9:00am in Manning Park. This stop is actually situated during the difficult part of the ride, so it's well-located for cyclists because it gives them a moment to rest up before tackling the really challenging climbs ahead.
|Scores of cyclists in Manning Park. |
|Resting my bike near the park fence. |
|Refueling and bicycle maintenance stations. |
While Kevin and I were taking a break, we both refilled our water bottles, and I quickly ate a half a banana (for the potassium), a half-sandwich (for the carbs and protein), and a cookie (for the sugar). After a little over a half hour, we were sufficiently rested and refueled, so we climbed back on our bicycles and rode off to the north and into the toughest part of the course.
For the next two miles we faced steep climbs which ascended several hundred feet into the hills above Santa Barbara, where we slogged our way through neighborhoods filled with luxurious mansions overlooking the city. I will freely admit, the climbs were often steep, and they seemed to keep going on forever. We turned west as we continued to climb, and for the next eight miles it seemed that whenever we thought that we were finally beginning our descent we would round a corner and discover another climb was waiting for us.
|This future site of somebody's mansion |
will have an awesome view.
|Posing for a useless photo. |
|Dozens of narrow, hairpin turns during the climbs. |
I wear a heart rate monitor while I ride which is paired with my Garmin GPS, and occasionally it beeps at me when my heart rate is too high; e.g. over 170bpm. Usually I ignore it, because it's generally just a momentary spike in my pulse during a difficult moment or two, so eventually the beeping will go away on its own. But during this part of the ride it began beeping at me, and it wouldn't stop. After a few minutes I decided that it was best not to ignore it, so I told Kevin that I needed to pull over for a couple of minutes. As we pulled to the side of the road, my GPS showed that my hear rate was a little over 170bpm, but after five minutes' rest it came back down to 140bpm and we got back on the road. One other thing, I found it a little difficult to breathe during a few of the climbs, which I attributed to a lack of proper time to acclimate before starting this ride. (I had only arrived the day before, and I'm used to riding at an altitude that is 3,000 feet higher. When I rode in the Seattle to Portland ride a few weeks ago, I had a week to acclimate and enough time to get in a training ride.)
There is an old adage which states, "All Good Things Must Come to an End," and thankfully the same can be said about bad things. With that in mind, somewhere before we hit the 40-mile mark we had finally made it through the truly-difficult sections of the ride and we began our descent into Goleta. We encountered small climbs here and there over the next ten miles or so, but nothing as difficult as the major climbs which we had just completed. As we passed the 50-mile point of the ride, both Kevin and I had to suffer through some lower leg cramps, but nothing unbearable.
We pulled into our next stop at Stow Grove Park around 11:30am, which represented the mid-way point for the ride at 51-miles. Kevin and I refilled our water bottles, then we headed over to the dining area to grab some lunch. Once again I had a half-sandwich (for carbs and protein), a half a banana (for potassium), and few cookies (for sugar).
|Resting my bike against a railing. |
|Picking up lunch. |
|Simple fare for simple minds. |
|Cookies and fruit!!! |
|More cookies!!! |
During lunch Kevin and I were seated across a table from three ladies, and I made several jokes with everyone about classic songs that I had been rewriting in my head during the day's ride:
- Sung to the tune of "Safety Dance":
"We can pass if you want to,
We can leave your friends behind.
'Cause your friends can't climb, and if they can't climb -
Well they're no friends of mine."
- Sung to the tune of "Hotel California":
"Welcome to the Cool Breeze California,
Such a tiring race, such a grueling pace.
You'll question your mind at the Cool Breeze California:
I'm no competitor; why'd I register?"
- Sung to the tune of "Margaritaville":
"Climbing the hills again in California,
Wondering why I'm still here at all.
Some people say that there's a friend I can blame,
But I know - it's my own dang fault."
My re-written version of "Margaritaville" drew an especially large chuckle from everyone, because I followed that up by mentioning how the pain of endurance riding passes over time, and then next thing you know you're inviting people along with you for your next excursion by saying things like, "Hey - you should sign up for this century ride with me; it's going to be lots of fun." At which point two of the ladies quickly turned and pointed at the other member of their party, who responded, "Yup - I'm the guilty one in our group."
After a 50-minute break Kevin and I headed back to our bicycles. As we prepped our gear for the next half of the ride, I met a cyclist who was wearing a jersey from the Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) randonneuring ride, which is a 1200-kilometer (≈745-mile) endurance ride in France. (Which - by way of coincidence - was starting this same weekend.) The two of us chatted for a couple of minutes, and he admitted that he had ridden the PBP four times, but he was now too old to survive riding 250 miles a day for three days (with only four hours of sleep per day). I admitted that I was probably never young enough to have survived the ride.
As we left Stow Grove Park, our route had us backtrack to the east for three miles or so before zig-zagging for the next few miles in a mostly-southern direction through Hope Ranch towards the ocean.
|The view of the ocean from the southern end of Hope Ranch. |
For the next three or four miles we rode eastward and parallel to the beach, although much of that riding was through residential areas so we only saw the water occasionally. (That being said, a lot of the mansions which we were riding past were pretty amazing; it must be nice to be that rich, but couldn't that opulent wealth be better spent? [Deep sigh.])
As we rode into downtown Santa Barbara, we turned toward the ocean again, and we cycled along the water past a series of beaches, parks, and marinas. As we passed the entrance to Santa Barbara Harbor, Kevin suddenly had a flat. The two of us worked on the flat, and we managed to get it sorted out in a few minutes. (I was obviously taking photos at the time, but I actually helped Kevin fix his flat. Seriously. I really did. I promise.)
|Santa Barbara Harbor was pretty nice. |
|Fixing a flat. No fun. |
|The beach near Santa Barbara Harbor and Stearns Wharf. |
After we got back on the road, we passed the ladies with whom we had met during lunch earlier in the day. As we pulled up to a stoplight, I mentioned that we had stopped to fix a flat, and I asked why they hadn't stopped to help us out; to which one of them replied humorously that it was every man and woman for themselves. As we approached another stoplight a short time later, some @#$% motorist unnecessarily blocked the bicycle lane even though the light was green, thereby causing all of us cyclists to quickly pull to a stop in order to avoid an accident. One of the ladies issued an appropriate expletive at the clueless driver, and I remarked that I completely agreed with her assessment of the situation. She replied by asking if I had a song in mind which expressed that sentiment, and I said that I could put anything to music - even that.
We rode east along the water for another three miles before turning inland to the north. After another two miles of riding and a short climb we arrived back at Manning Park around 2:30pm. This park had been our second stop of the day, and I thought that it was pretty ingenious that the ride's organizers had managed to arrange the ride in order as to recycle some of the stops. (Great logistics.) We refilled our water bottles and ate a few snacks, and then Kevin took advantage of the bicycle repair facilities to make sure that his tube repair was sufficient for continuing the ride. (The guy was able to discover a couple of places where the bead for Kevin's tire had not been seated completely, and he was able to fix that.)
|Back at Manning Park. |
|Pausing to refuel for the next segment of the ride. |
|Kevin having his bike checked out. |
(That's just good sense.)
We got back on the road after the bike technician had signed off on Kevin's bike, where we continued to ride east and parallel to the beach for several miles. We started our final climb somewhere around the 80-mile mark, but to be honest it wasn't much of a climb. That being said, my bicycle decided to throw it's @#$% chain again, so we had to stop for me to fix it again.
|The accumulated filth on my fingers. |
(And this was after wiping them off on my shorts.)
Nevertheless, my chain was an easy fix, and we were quickly back on the road. After a couple of miles we ran into a brief moment of confusion with a small gaggle of cyclists about whether our route really meant to take us onto the highway, which it did. Once we had ridden a few hundred meters, we had arrived back at Rincon Beach Park around 3:50pm, which was our final stop for the day at mile 82. (You may recall that Rincon Beach Park had been our first stop of the day, so once again the ride's organizers had managed to recycle one of the stops.)
|The view from Rincon Beach Park. |
|Good to know. |
The main claim to fame for riders who make it to the final stop at Rincon Beach Park is - popsicles. I had heard about this feature before we started the ride, and I must admit - an ice-cold popsicle tastes pretty good after a long day of cycling.
|Popsicle Power! |
|Posing with our popsicles. |
After a 25-minute stop to rest and recharge, Kevin and I climbed back on our bicycles for the last segment of the ride. The next 12 miles had us riding along the beach again, which was great. At some point about ten miles from the end of the ride I changed cycling techniques so that I was only pulling up on the pedals. I do this occasionally in order to allow some of the muscles in my lower legs a brief respite from my normal riding, but on this occasion my change in technique was met with a sudden and sharp cramp in my inner right thigh. This was painful enough for me to loudly and angrily remark, "Oh crap!", and I drifted off to the right side of the bike lane as I desperately tried to stretch out the affected muscles while still riding. Kevin overhead my exclamation and asked if everything was okay, and I responded that I would be fine in a moment or two. I eventually managed to work my way through the pain, but still... that really hurt.
Shortly after we hit the 94-mile point we turned northward into Ventura as we retraced the 2.5-mile route which had started the day's ride. As we approached the Ventura Unified School District offices where the finish line was located, a cycling couple quickly pulled off the bike path several hundred meters from the end of the route. As Kevin and I rode past I remarked, "You can't quit now!" However, after Kevin and I had ridden few hundred meters further, my Garmin GPS showed that we were going to reach the finish line after having ridden only 97 miles, so I told Kevin that we needed to pull to the side.
I mentioned that if we crossed the finish line, we weren't going to make 100 miles; however, we both wanted to officially claim this as a "Century Ride," which means that we needed to add three miles to the length. I proposed that we create a quick loop through Ventura and Kevin agreed, so we bypassed the finish line and headed off into areas of Ventura which weren't on the scheduled route. After a little over a mile we merged back onto the official course, and as we headed toward the finish line I remarked that we were still going to be short by a little less than half a mile, so we bypassed the finish line and rode off in a different direction. As we approached the point where I wanted us to turn around, we bumped into the cycling couple which we had seen earlier, and I remarked to them, "Oh - now I get it; you two wanted your official century ride, too!" They both laughed and said that yes - that's why they had bypassed the finish line, too.
As Kevin and I rode back toward the finish line, I could see that we were just going to make it, and as we pulled to a stop past the finish line my GPS showed that we had just crossed the century mark.
|One hundred miles! |
Once we had crossed the finish line, we rode over to my car, where we loaded all of our combined gear into the back and locked up our bikes on the bike carrier.
|Post-ride selfie before heading home. |
After we had all of our things stowed in the car, Kevin and I dropped by the registration area to take advantage of the dinner which was provided, then the two of us hopped in the car and drove back to Kevin's house for the night.
- Primary Statistics:
- Start Time: 6:35am
- Distance: 100 miles
- Duration: 7:09:34
- Calories Burned: 3,892 kcal
- Altitude Gain: 4,724 feet
- Average Speed: 14.0 mph
- Peak Speed: 30.3 mph
- Average Cadence: 80.0 rpm
- Average: 73.6 F
- Minimum: 55.4 F
- Maximum: 104.0 F
(This is according to my GPS, but I find that hard to believe.)
- Heart Rate:
- Average: 148 bpm
- Maximum: 181 bpm
Epilogue and Miscellaneous Parting Thoughts
As I had done for my Seattle to Portland ride notes, I had jotted several things down which didn't necessarily apply to any part of the ride, so I thought that I would add a special section to this blog in order to share them.
- Based on advertising, I thought this ride was going to be peaceful cruise along the water with the cool breeze at our backs, but it was seldom like that. I realized from looking at the ride profile that the climbs were going to take us inland for several miles so I expected that, but what was unexpected (and somewhat disappointing) was that we sometimes rode parallel to the ocean for several miles without actually being able to see the water.
- We rode through Santa Barbara for quite a while, yet I never saw Gus or Shawn. But then again, I guess that they live in San Francisco now. (Inside joke.)
- It was rather warm during parts of the ride; as a result, several of the locals and some others complained, but the temperature was not bad for me.
- We completed this ride at a considerably slower pace than my normal rides, and somewhat slower than my previous century rides. But Kevin and I had agreed to take this ride at a comfortable pace; I specifically did not want to feel like I was racing a clock (which I normally do), and as a result the ride was more enjoyable [sic] than normal.
- Despite the advertised length of 102 miles with 4,000 feet of climb, the Ride with GPS website lists the length of this ride at 97 miles with a little over 5,000 feet of climb. That being said, my GPS agreed that the length of the ride was 97 miles, although my GPS said that the final altitude gain was closer to 4,700 feet. In either case, I think the CIBC guys were pretty far off.
- The fact that almost all of the difficult climbs were relegated to one segment of the course was a mixed blessing; it was nice to ride for dozens of miles over long, flat stretches of road, but the hours of actual climbing were exceptionally arduous since the bulk of the elevation gains were all in one small segment.
- As I mentioned in the notes, my bike threw its chain a few times during this ride. However, I managed to catch it quickly each time, so I avoided wiping out. After some experimentation, I determined that the problem seems to be when I am shifting chain rings at a high RPM; when I consciously slowed my cadence I was able to avoid throwing my chain. (But still - my bicycle should not be throwing the chain like that.)
- I had overlooked one unfortunate side effect of driving ten hours on the day before the ride: I had predominately used my right arm while driving cross country, and it was hurting by the time that I arrived in Ventura. Even though I took some Advil and tried to relax my arm during the night before the ride, I could still feel my right arm hurting during the ride as a direct result of the previous day's drive.
- I purchased a new saddle a couple of weeks before this ride, and I had not completely broken it in; so my derriere was understandably a little sore by the end of the ride. It was fine by the next day as I drove home, but still - I can honestly say that this ride was literally a pain in the... butt.
This past weekend I completed the two-day, 206-mile Seattle to Portland (STP) ride with my brother-in-law, Mike. This event is hosted annually by the Cascade Bicycle Club (CBC), and despite its daunting length, the ride sells out with 10,000 registered riders. Just to clarify, you read that correctly: every year ten thousand cyclists are willing to endure almost two-dozen hours of self-inflicted physical abuse for little more than bragging rights.
And this year, I was one of those masochists.
I do not recall whether it was Mike or me who first suggested participating in this year's STP ride, but I am pretty sure that it quickly evolved into one of those "I'll do it if you'll do it" kind of conversations which guys often find themselves in. (And once the gauntlet has been thrown, you have to accept the challenge.) In any event, at some point back in 2014 we decided that riding in the STP seemed like a good [sic] idea, so I did some preliminary research about the ride on the CBC website. Once I had put together some rough details about the event, (e.g. when to register, where to stay, etc.), I sent everything to Mike. I let him know that the STP sells out quickly, so we both set calendar reminders to register on the day that registration opened.
When the starting day for STP registration arrived, Mike and I were both able to register for the event. Although in keeping with tradition, the STP was quickly sold out at 10,000 cyclists.
I received my official packet in the mail a few weeks before the ride, which brought a sense of reality the whole affair. My bib number for the ride was 8564, which was easy to remember, but it wasn't one of the numbers that I'd like to have. (e.g. I'd prefer to have something like 1024, 2112, 2600, 4096, 6502, 8088, etc. And no - I will not explain any of those numbers to you.)
| || |
|My STP Packet! ||Bib Number 8564! |
Once all of the event registration details were in place, I booked a hotel in Seattle for my stay before the ride, and Mike booked us a hotel in Centralia for the mid-point of the ride. After that, all that was left to do was buy a travel case for my bicycle, fly to Seattle to meet with Mike and his wife, Tesa, and prep our gear for the big day.
|Packing my gear into our car for the ride to the airport. |
|Prepping my gear in my hotel room on the night before the ride. |
Day One - Saturday
Mike and Tesa picked me up from my hotel shortly before 5:00am, and we headed across the 520 bridge in Seattle to the University of Washington where the ride was scheduled to begin. As we neared the parking lot for Husky Stadium, we could see that there was a long line to get to the drop-off location, so I suggested that we pull into the parking lot across the street in University Village; this turned out to be the best idea and saved us lots of time. Mike and I got the last of our things ready for the ride, said our goodbyes to Tesa, and we rode to the start line.
We dropped off our bags with one of the trucks that was headed to Centralia, and then we got in line for the next wave of cyclists. Note: In order to keep the hordes of cyclists from bunching up at the start, the event organizers combine riders into large groups and release them every few minutes; it was a very organized and efficient system. (One-day riders were allowed to start 30 minutes before two-day riders; this was also a great idea, because at a 16 mph pace that means that you could be eight miles away from the first wave two-day riders.) As we waited in the chilly morning air for our wave to start, Mike grabbed a quick cup of coffee, and we chatted for a few minutes until they announced that our group was ready to go.
|Queuing at the Start Line. |
|Mike's last cup of coffee before the ride. |
When they pulled back the tape around 6:00am, I made sure to start both my Garmin GPS and the GPS app which I had written for my Windows Phone that allows family members to track our progress, and then we took off amidst a sea of exuberant riders.
|Waiting to start. |
The first leg of our journey took us through a series of neighborhoods and parks which line the western shore of Lake Washington. The day was overcast, so we couldn't see any volcanoes, but it made the day cooler overall. There were a few small hills here and there as we started out, but nothing of significant difficulty.
|Mike and I riding along Lake Washington. |
Mike and I had set our goal for the morning to ride straight through to the 40-mile stop in Puyallup, so we quickly bypassed the first official stop at Seward Park around the 10-mile mark. (Actually, I couldn't believe that anyone was bothering to stop there; we were barely a half-hour into the ride.) I should mention that I pushed Mike's and my pace pretty hard at the beginning of the day for the first hour or so; I wanted to get past several groups of slow-moving cyclists, and that way we would be riding with more of the serious cyclists who would keep a better pace.
|Route map for the first half of Day 1. |
Shortly after we passed the 24-mile stop in Kent, Mike and I pulled up to a stoplight with a hundred or so riders. I unclipped my left foot so I could stand on it while waiting for the light to change. But as I came to a stop, I suddenly lost my balance to the right, and I couldn't unclip my right foot before I fell over. (Thankfully I was wearing a helmet when I hit the ground.) There were a half-dozen or so concerned cyclists surrounding me and asking if I was okay, but I chose to reply by jumping up and addressing the entire crowd of cyclists by exclaiming, "Nothing wounded but my pride, folks! Did anyone get that on video? I'd like to post it online later." This had the desired effect of assuring everyone that I was all right while allowing everyone the opportunity to laugh along with me at my own expense. However, this little mishap left a lovely, little series of gashes on the back of my left leg, and I got lots of comments about it for the rest of the day. (e.g. "Nice tattoo!", "Blood and grease make great lubricants!", etc.)
|My first War Wound of the day. |
A couple of hours into the ride we had passed the one-third point for the day, and I tried something kind of stupid: I pulled out my camera and held it backwards over my shoulder in order to snap a few photos of Mike. All of the photos came out pretty well, but just the same - I resolved not to try that again.
|Mike looks pretty good after two hours of riding. |
We arrived at the 40-mile stop in Puyallup around 8:30am, and it was nice to get off the bike for a few minutes and walk around. Mike and I refilled our water bottles, ate some chocolate cookies which were for sale, and we split a banana. (Bananas are a good source of potassium, which helps cut down on muscle cramps.) After a quick 10-minute break, we hopped back on our bikes and headed south towards Portland.
|Taking a quick break in Puyallup. |
|Back on the road. |
I knew from looking at the elevation profile before the ride that the largest hill climbs of the day were immediately ahead of us, and we hit the base of the first hill somewhere around the 44-mile point. As Mike and I made our way up the hill, Mike found a great opening amidst the mass of cyclists and attacked the hill with some serious gusto. Unfortunately for me, however, I managed to get myself boxed in by a group slow-moving cyclists. By the time that I managed to maneuver my way past them around the mid-point of the first hill it was too late; I had lost all of my initial momentum to launch a proper attack, so I was forced to slog my way up the first hill. I was still passing scores of cyclists, but I should have been moving a lot faster. (Darn. Darn. Darn.)
Once Mike and I were past the big hills for the day, (which comprised about four miles of the day's riding), it was fairly easy cycling for the next ten miles to the 57-mile stop at Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM), where lunch awaited us. (Note: There were some serious winds as we rode around the base's airfield; that was no fun.) We arrived around 10:00am, and we were pleased to discover that there was a fairly decent spread of food at this stop; I had a turkey sandwich, a Rice Krispy Treat, some fruit, another cookie, etc. But to be perfectly honest, by this point I was so ravenously hungry I could have eaten just about anything. After resting for 20 minutes, Mike and I refilled our water bottles and we got back on the road.
|Hundreds of cyclists taking a lunch beak on JBLM. |
|Mike and I taking a quick photo before heading out. |
As we weaved our way through the base housing, that brought back memories of being raised as a kid on various military bases, and also of my own years serving in the military and living on base. (Note: Those nostalgic reminiscences weren't necessarily happy memories for me, because base housing usually leaves a lot to be desired.) Anyway, many of the cyclists were giving high-fives to the MPs and other military personnel who were directing traffic for us. They were all enlisted personnel, so I'm sure that most of them were ordered to guard the roads for the cyclists, but nevertheless their efforts were greatly appreciated by all of the riders.
|Route map for the second half of Day 1. |
The route took us through some of the back woods on the base, and eventually we exited the base near the town of Roy, WA. Mike and I pressed on to McKenna, which was the next official stop at mile 72 for the day. We arrived around 11:40am, and we took a break to rest our weary legs for about 20 minutes. After we refilled our water bottles, it was time to head out.
|Stopping briefly in McKenna |
Shortly after we left the stop at McKenna, we faced a steep hill climb. Mike was ahead of me, so he didn't notice the following incident: I attempted to shift from my top chain ring to my small chain ring in order to climb a little easier, but my bicycle threw its chain off the small chain ring. I tried to backpedal out of the situation, but my chain became completely lodged and it wouldn't move. This predicament caused me to quickly lose all of my forward momentum in the middle of the hill, and in one of those moments which seems like an eternity at the time (but was really just milliseconds) I weighed my options. There was obviously nothing that I could do to dislodge my chain, but if I unclipped my left foot (which I always unclip) I would be leaning (or falling) into traffic. This risk was unacceptable, so with no other options available to me, I threw all of my weight to the right side of the road, where my bicycle and I tumbled over the concrete curb and into the grass and dirt which lined the road. This undoubtedly looked much worse than it felt; several approaching cyclists called out to me to see if I was okay. I assured everyone that I was fine, (although my fall had bruised my right arm and torn up my right knee a little). I explained that my bicycle had simply thrown its chain, and I encouraged everyone to continue pedaling uphill. After that, I spent the next 10 to 15 minutes attempting to untangle my bicycle chain. This proved to be a very difficult task; my chain was stuck fast, but I eventually succeeded - although my hands were filthy by the end. (It's a good thing that I had packed hand wipes with me.) Mike eventually noticed that I was nowhere to be seen, so he pulled off the road into an unofficial stop at mile 81 and sent me a text message to let me know that he was waiting for me. When I caught up with Mike, I explained what had happened, then we quickly got back on the road.
|My second War Wound of the day. |
The next segment of the ride Mike and I both agreed was the best part of the day's ride; we rode along the well-paved Yelm-Tenino Trail for 14 miles or so. First and foremost - there were no cars on the trail, which was a pleasant change. In addition, the trail was wide enough for Mike and I to ride together, and yet there was still enough room for other cyclists room to pass when necessary. This trail was also the smoothest part of the day's ride, which was greatly appreciated.
|Riding along the Yelm-Tenino Trail. |
Note: As we were riding along the trail, Mike and I saw the aftermath of a female cyclist who had suffered some sort of major catastrophe; medical personnel were treating her myriad of injuries, and I make no exaggeration by stating that she was covered in blood.
Mike and I stopped in Tenino at the 89-mile point around 1:25pm, which was the last official stop before our destination for the day in Centralia. Our decision to stop in Tenino was mainly due to my earlier accident; I wanted to have some bicycle repair technicians check out my bike to see if they could determine why it threw its chain. The technician ran my bike through all of its gears but couldn't reproduce the problem, so he commented that it must have been a fluke. His diagnosis put my mind at ease, although that later proved untrue. (But I'm getting ahead of myself.)
|Taking a break at the Tenino stop. |
When Mike and I left Tenino, we had only 14 miles to go for the day, and the miles passed pretty quickly as we rode for the next hour or so. (To be perfectly honest, I can't recall anything of importance from that hour's worth of riding.)
|Finishing up the day's ride. |
We crossed the Day 1 finish line at Centralia College shortly before 3:00pm, so we made pretty good time for the day. My wife, Kathleen, had been tracking our progress throughout the day via the GPS app that I had written, and she sent me a text message to congratulate Mike and me for completing the first day's ride.
|Mike crossing the Day 1 finish line. |
As various cyclists made their way across the finish line, an announcer was having fun calling out the various jerseys and costumes worn by the participants. Mike and I pushed our bicycles out of the way to allow arriving cyclists more room to exit the course, and as we did we were met by volunteers who were handing out orange-flavored popsicles. Mike and I both gladly accepted the proffered popsicles, although at that point the volunteers could have frozen just about anything and I would have eaten it. (e.g. "Here's your frozen kale!", "Get your frozen lutefisk here!")
|Mike enjoying some well-earned reclination. |
After a little rest and relaxation, we decided that we should either find something to eat for dinner, or we should depart for our hotel. We looked at our dining choices, and we chose to order a pizza at the hotel later. Our next step was to retrieve our backpacks, and it took us a few minutes to discover where the pickup point was located. (This was due to a misunderstanding of what the announcer said.) Once we found the right place, it was well-organized and we quickly found our things.
Our hotel was a little less than two miles from the college, and once we got settled into our room we both took long showers to wash off the grime from the day's activities. We ordered a pizza to be delivered to our hotel room - which was fantastic. We ate most of the pizza, but we set aside two pieces for breakfast the following morning. (For some people, cold pizza in the morning is the breakfast of champions.)
After dinner we put together our riding plan for the next day, and I wrote up a cheat sheet with the distances for all of the stops. The pickup up time for our backpacks at Centralia College wasn't until 6:00am the following morning, so we both set our alarms for 5:00am, and we headed off to sleep by 8:00pm.
|Putting together my cheat sheet for the next day. |
We had averaged a little over 15 mph for the day, which wasn't bad. Here are some quick stats for the first day's ride:
- Total Distance: 102.1 miles
- Riding Time: 6 hours, 39 minutes
- Total Time: 9 hours, 4 minutes
- Elevation Gain: 3,290 feet
- Average Speed: 15.4 mph
- Calories Burned: 3,444 kcal
Day Two - Sunday
Mike and I both woke up shortly before our alarms, and since neither of us could sleep, we got up and started to put our things together for the day. We pulled the pizza out of the mini-fridge from the night before, although by now neither of us wanted to touch it. (It's funny how appetites can change overnight.)
|Mike and I preparing to start our Day 2 ride. |
We got on the road by 5:40am, which was close to our goal. As we pulled up to a stoplight near the hotel, I pulled my bicycle onto the sidewalk in order to push the button to change the traffic signal. Unfortunately I decelerated too quickly and - surprise, surprise - I lost my balance and fell over. Seriously - one minute into the day's ride and I had already fallen over. Who DOES that? (Apparently I do. And just to clarify, my count for falling over during this trip was now at three. Darn.)
|Route map for the first half of Day 2. |
Mike and I arrived at Centralia College within ten minutes of leaving our hotel, and we quickly dropped off our backpacks. Once that task was taken care of, we got on the road shortly before 6:00am. Even though my muscles were a little sore when we got up and headed out from our hotel, much of that soreness quickly passed as we started the actual ride.
|Dropping our backpacks off at Centralia College. |
We skipped the first stop in Chehalis at the 7-mile point, but as we rode through town we realized why some of the more experienced STP riders push on to Chehalis or some other town during the first day; it diminishes the length that you need to ride on the second day, and it probably helps psychologically to know that your ride will be shorter. You would miss out on all the half-way point festivities in Centralia, of course, although you could hang out there for a half-hour or so before riding on to your ultimate destination.
|Riding through Chehalis in the early morning. |
Our plan for the day was to ride a little slower than the previous day and to hit all of the stops. We had made good time the day before, but we didn't want to kill ourselves during the second day's ride. With that in mind, Mike and I started off together, and the road was wide enough for us to carry on a conversation as we rode. Sometime later I started to break away on the hill climbs, and at the next stop Mike suggested that I ride at my own pace and simply wait for him at each successive stop. With that in mind, I routinely sped off after each stop, but I only arrived at each stop about two or three minutes before Mike, so he was riding at pretty much the same level as me. What's more, Mike passed me during a couple of the hill climbs and I somehow didn't notice, so I was perplexed when I found myself passing him later. ("Hey, how did you get here?") Once I discovered to my amusement that Mike was waiting at the next stop for me, and I queried when he had managed to pass me; Mike replied that he had passed me following a climb, and he had arrived at the stop just 30 seconds before me.
At one point I was passing a bunch of cyclists and I kept hollering "On your left" to announce my intention to pass each cyclist. I started hearing a woman behind me announcing the same as we passed several cyclists, so I thought she was drafting behind me. But as I was passing another cyclist the woman behind me exclaimed, "I'm not kidding; ON YOUR LEFT!" This meant that she wanted me to get out of her way, but I need to point out that there was no shoulder on the right, so the cyclist to my right had nowhere to go. I was in the middle of our lane passing that cyclist with only inches to spare between our bicycles, whereas the woman behind me had the rest of our lane and the entire oncoming traffic lane (with no traffic visible for at least a mile) with which to pass me. As I couldn't get out of the way without pushing the cyclist to my right off the road, I ignored the woman behind me. When she eventually pulled alongside I remarked, "In case it wasn't obvious, I was passing someone, too. Just a thought." (I got no reply as she sped off.)
I knew from studying the ride profile the day before that we had a big hill awaiting us near the start of the day, and sure enough we hit the base of the hill around the 14-mile point. However, this hill was a little different than the big hill on the previous day, because it was more like a series of hills which seemed to go on and on for five or six miles, and for a little while it became kind of annoying. (Well, it was annoying for me, anyway.) But I was really glad that I train on the Pistol Hill Loop back in Tucson, which has a long, uphill climb for seven miles or so. As I was riding I kept thinking about Rule #10 from The Rules: "It never gets easier, you just go faster." (Of course, Rule #5 always applies, too.)
That being said, as I attempted to shift my bike onto the smaller chain ring, my bike threw its chain again. But since I had a sneaky suspicion that it might do so, I chose a time to shift when few people were near me, and when my chain was thrown I was able to quickly pull to a stop and get off the road in a controlled manner. A few of the passing cyclists asked if everything was okay, and I replied, "Yup - I just threw my chain." They just nodded sympathetically and rode on. It took me about five minutes to fix my chain, and once I had done so I wondered what to do with all the oil on my hands. I decided that my cycling shorts were black for a reason, and I just wiped my hands off on them.
Rejoining a hill climb in the middle is tricky; you have to find a good gear to get started, and you have to find a good interval between cyclists to get back on the road. Nevertheless, I managed to get back on the road pretty quickly.
As we neared the summit of a really tough climb, I loudly asked everyone around me, "Why are we doing this? Is ANYONE having fun?" Most people just laughed, but the woman riding next to me said this was the best thing that had happened to her all year. I replied, "Really? This climb is the best thing that's happened to you this year?" She responded, "Yeah, I've had a really awful year." (I said I was so sorry for her; and I really meant it.)
Our first official stop of the day was in Winlock around 7:15am. Mike and I both bought a small cup of coffee, and we split a simple breakfast sandwich. (Which at the time tasted better than filet mignon.) As we arrived, medical personnel were loading an injured cyclist into an ambulance, which was yet another reminder that I was fortunate that my previous day's injuries had been pretty minor.
|Arriving in Winlock. |
|Thankfully the ambulances were not there for us. |
|This may not have been the breakfast |
of champions, but it was fantastic.
|Mike insisted on this photo. I kind of regret it now. |
The next official stop was in Vader (no relation to Darth) at 8:20am, but Mike and I were both feeling pretty strong so we decided to bypass this stop and we hopped back on the road in order to push on to the next stop.
|Bypassing the mini-stop in Vader. |
The sun broke out, which made it much warmer, and I finally had a need for my sunglasses. Some of the cyclists complained about the heat, but it was cooler than my usual riding temperatures in Arizona so I didn't mind. (Although I did increase my water intake.) Unfortunately, since the first day had been overcast, Mike had packed his nice sunglasses for this trip, so he only had his normal glasses with him. (Even though his normal glasses automatically tint in sunlight, it's just not the same.)
We pulled into Castle Rock around 9:00am, which was the 38-mile stop for Day 2. I think Mike may have refilled his water bottles, but I was doing fine for supplies so I just stretched my legs for a few minutes before we got back on the road.
|The stop at Castle Rock. |
|Mike expressing his elation upon our arrival. |
|My bike leaning against a rock in Castle Rock. |
It might have been the actual "Castle Rock," but I couldn't be sure.
(Note: That was meant as a joke, of course.)
The next stop was in Lexington at the 45-mile point, which was the first major food stop of the day. We arrived at 10:00am, so we were a little behind a timeline that I would have liked. But we had kept our pace pretty well; we had simply been following our plan to hit more of the stops along the way, which slowed us down a little. However, this approach was arguably worth the sacrifice from a psychological perspective; it was nice to know that our next stop was never more than 10 to 15 miles away, even if we decided to skip it. In any event, Mike and I ate a leisurely lunch in Lexington and we relaxed for a while before getting back on the road.
|The Lexington stop had a much larger crowd |
than normal, but that was to be expected.
|Mike enjoying lunch. |
Unfortunately we discovered as we got ready to leave the Lexington stop that there was a really long line to refill our water bottles, so that set our departure time back a little. Apparently there was a problem with the water pressure, so they only had a single tap working for hundreds of cyclists. (If we had known that fact a little sooner, we could have got in line when we arrived. But in the grand scheme of things it wasn't that much of an imposition; and we were glad to have enough water to depart safely.)
|Sorting through the food that I picked up and choosing what |
comes with me on the road and what gets eaten immediately.
Mike and I got on the road around 11:00am, and about a half-hour later I arrived at the Lewis and Clark Bridge over the Columbia River, which signified the border with Oregon. The ride organizers and police were corralling cyclists onto a frontage road while allowing southbound road traffic to continue over the bridge unabated, with the intention of stopping traffic at some point and allowing the mass of cyclists to make their way across the bridge. Mike arrived about ten minutes after me, so he was further back in the mob of bicyclists than me. About ten minutes after Mike arrived the police finally blocked off the traffic and allowed the cyclists to cross the bridge; this action was greeted by a number of cheers from the assembled throng of cyclists.
|The hundred or so riders who had |
arrived at the bridge before me.
As we approached the bridge, several of the ride organizers called out to the crowd to say that the descent on the opposite side of the bridge was going to be very bumpy. With this in mind, they were recommending that everyone should make sure that all of their gear was securely fastened to their bikes, and to watch out for lost gear as they descended. I reached down and made sure that my water bottles were snugly fastened into their cages, and I made my way up the bridge climb.
I have to admit, when I first saw the bridge from a distance, I thought that the climb would be exceptionally terrible. But as it turns out, the climb wasn't that bad. However, what was bad was that there was a large number of cyclists who were riding very slowly, but we had been grouped into such a thick horde of cyclists that it was difficult to maneuver around the slow-moving riders. Meanwhile, we had fast-moving traffic approaching in the opposite direction. As a result, the ride across the bridge was often terrifying - just for fear of accidents. (PS - some people simply gave up and walked their bikes across the bridge.)
|The Lewis and Clark Bridge from a distance. |
As I approached the mid-point of the bridge, the crowd around me had thinned out considerably. A group of cyclists (including me) had broken away from the main group, and as a result I had enough of a buffer behind me that I felt comfortable enough to pull out my camera and snap a couple of photos before starting my descent. As I coasted down the far side of the bridge, I put on a lot of speed due to the steep decline, so I was braking constantly as I hit the series of bumps about which we had been warned. True to the predictions, there was somewhere between 50 and 100 water bottles lying beside the road. I guess some people failed to heed the warnings. Once we were past the bridge, we were back to road riding - only now we were in Oregon.
|Entering Oregon! |
Sometime later my bike threw its chain again, and this happened a few more times. However, each time I was able to catch the problem before I wiped out, and I pulled to the side to fix the problem. (I waved Mike on whenever this happened.) But I decided that I no longer trusted my bicycle to shift to the small chain ring, so I chose to ride for the rest of the day on my small chain ring in order to avoid throwing my chain again. (This is, of course, unacceptable for a bicycle, so I resolved to have to have that looked at when I got home.) However, this also meant that I forfeited my highest gears, and therefore I lost my top speeds.
After a while I had so much oil and grease on my fingers due to resetting my chain that it was kind of gross to eat. That being said, there simply wasn't a place to properly wash off all of the fifth, so I was forced to make do. (In my military days I called this condition "perma-grime," and I learned to live with it or starve.)
|Route map for the second half of Day 2. |
At some point during the day I started to ride with a group of women with Skull/Butterfly gear. We rode together for quite awhile because we seemed to ride at the same pace for the flat sections; I would climb hills faster than them, but they were willing to take the downhills faster than me. I can't remember when we started riding together, and I can't remember when we stopped. It was probably at one of the stops, but I don't recall.
Mike and I stopped in Goble at the 62-mile point around 12:30pm, although we didn't stay long. We refilled our water bottles, and I had a couple snacks which I had saved from an earlier stop that day. After 10 minutes or so we were back on the road.
|Stopping for water in Goble. |
The next big stop of the day was in St. Helens, which was shortly before the 75-mile point. We arrived around 1:50pm, and we found a good place to ground our bikes while we wandered off in search of food. The sandwiches and snacks were largely the same as other stops, except that they had watermelon, which was fantastic. They also had a water mister operating, and it was fun to see people walk through it again and again.
|Mike pulling into St. Helens. |
|Navigating through the sea of |
cyclists to find our lunch.
Mike needed to pick up something from the medical tent, and one of the volunteers asked if I wanted her to wrap my knee from the previous day's accident. I replied, "No, I earned that." (She laughed and walked away.) After an hour's rest, we packed our things and got back on the road.
|Visiting the medical tent. |
|Mike leaning back, kicking his shoes off, catching some shade... |
Somewhere after we left St. Helens, I realized that I had not been pulling up on my legs during the climbs; I had just been pushing down. So I decided to change pedaling techniques, and I discovered that I had so much power in reserve that I found myself climbing a few of the difficult hills at 18 to 20 mph. That being said, I realized that this was going to be a short-lived discovery; after a few hills I recognized that I was quickly burning up that reserve, and all of it was gone by the time I hit the uphill climb to St. John's bridge an hour or so later.
Our last stop of the day was in Scappoose at mile 87, and we arrived around 3:30pm. This stop was pretty small; it was really just the last chance to fill up on water before starting the final 17-mile stretch to Portland. Kathleen sent me a text message that my GPS app which I had written had stopped uploading data at Goble, so I quickly reset it and it started transmitting again. (If Kathleen hadn't sent me that message I would never have known, and Kathleen would have thought that something had gone wrong in Goble.) After Mike and I topped off our water bottles, we got back on the road.
|My bike was helping to point the way to water. |
|Taking stock of my snacks for the final push. |
Mike later remarked that he started to listen to music through his iPhone about three or four hours from the end of the ride, although I didn't turn on my music until the last hour or so before the St. John's bridge. (Then I turned off my music for the ride through Portland.)
Mike and I had agreed to meet up at St. John's bridge, which crossed the Willamette River into Portland, in order to finish the ride together. The distance from Scappoose to the finish line was roughly 16 miles, and the bridge was about midway between the two locations, so from a psychological perspective it helped to subdivide the last of the ride into two shorter segments. (At this point in the ride, it's all about the mind games.)
I arrived at the bridge less than a minute before Mike, who pulled along side as I took a photo of the bridge. We had to wait for a stoplight to change, and then we made our way across the bridge with a small group of cyclists.
|Crossing the St. John's bridge into Portland. |
The ride through Portland was predominantly a nice respite from all of the up and down hill riding over the past several days, except that there was one small hill near the finish line that was a brief moment of difficulty, for which I loudly remarked, "Okay, who added THIS hill to the ride?" That being said, we were forced to stop for a large number of stoplights as we rode through Portland, which probably added at least a half-hour to our ride time.
Nevertheless, before we realized it, Mike and I were crossing the finish line at Holladay Park, and our second century ride of the STP was over. (Note: I should have taken off my sunglasses as I crossed the finish line, because you probably can't see my face in official ride photos. But perhaps that's a good thing.) Mike and I were handed our "STP Finisher" patches, and then we pulled our bikes off to the side to allow room for arriving cyclists who were completing the ride.
|Approaching the last few meters to the finish line! |
|Mike's opinion of what it feels like to finish. |
|Proudly displaying my hard-earned "Finisher" patch! |
We walked our bikes through the crowds, and we found a tree off to the side of the park on which to lean them. Mike watched our bikes while I picked up our backpacks.
|My bike finally earned its own rest. |
Shortly thereafter we were met by Tesa and her sister, Mary, who showed up to congratulate us. After a few minutes of visiting with Mary and Tesa, Mike and I ventured off in search of something to replace the thousands of calories which we had just burned.
We decided on Greek Gyros, (which were amazing), and we picked up some free souvenir STP cups from the Cascade Bicycle Club. After that, Mike and I ordered our 2015 STP jerseys. (Note: I don't pre-buy my jersey before a ride, which is kind of like a minor superstition for me; I don't want to jinx the ride by buying the jersey and then failing to complete the ride.)
|What this year's jersey looks like. |
We were informed that we won't receive our jerseys until October, which was unfortunate, but what choice did we have? Once we were done eating and buying our jerseys, we packed up our bikes and headed off to spend the evening with family.
Mike and I had averaged just under 15 mph for the day, which once again was pretty good. Here are some quick stats for the second day's ride:
- Total Distance: 106.2 miles
- Riding Time: 7 hours, 8 minutes
- Total Time: 11 hours, 39 minutes
- Elevation Gain: 3,809 feet
- Average Speed: 14.9 mph
- Calories Burned: 3,954 kcal
Epilogue and Random Thoughts
I had jotted several things down in my notes which didn't apply to either day in particular, so I thought that I would add a special section to this blog in order to share them.
- Ford Prefect described Earth as "Mostly Harmless." If I was following his lead, I would label STP Day 1 as "Mostly Flat," and STP Day 2 as "Mostly Hills."
- Mike and I saw several bad accidents during the ride, with several people being whisked away in ambulances. So in the grand scheme of things, my minor injuries were nothing. (Although it should be noted that Mike had no injuries; only I did.)
- Throughout the ride, most cyclists did their best to thank the volunteer staff and police officers who provided food, drinks, directed traffic, etc.
- Two words: Honey Buckets. Enough said.
- On Day 1, Mike and I both wore our El Tour de Tucson jerseys, and Mike got lots of comments about his jersey. It was from the 2012 El Tour, and I have to admit, that year had my favorite artwork; it appears that everyone else agrees with me.
- On Day, 2 Mike wore a plain jersey while I wore a Microsoft jersey. At some point another cyclist from Microsoft noticed my jersey, and we started a small conversation as we rode. The guy asked me if I work on Visual Studio, since that logo was on my jersey, and I replied, "More or less." (I work in the division which creates Visual Studio, and I designed the development web server which ships with Visual Studio.) I asked where he works, and he replied, "I work on HoloLens." I said, "Dude, you work on the cool stuff." To which he responded, "Yeah, and I use your stuff to make my stuff."
- I had several groups of cyclists touch on one of my pet peeves: they failed to queue properly at a stoplight. In several specific instances, a group of cyclists was already queued at a stoplight, when an approaching group of cyclists would glide past the whole queue in order to take the best position for when the light changes. This was especially frustrating to me when it was a group of cyclists which I had already passed, which meant that I would have to pass them again! (If I recall correctly, I politely chastised a couple of groups of cyclists for failure to queue properly. After all, we were in it together, right? Weren't we supposed to cooperate? Sheesh.)
- Unlike the El Tour which has thousands of people cheering cyclists on, most of the course was devoid of anyone other than angry motorists who appeared to hate the inconvenience of cyclists taking up their precious roadways.
- Some groups of fast-moving cyclists speed up on your left side unannounced and it scares the poop out of you. (I did my best to announce all of my passes.)
- We saw some interesting bicycles on this ride. For example, one group of cyclists riding for charity were doing the entire ride on vintage, single-speed bicycles. (That's either gutsy or foolish - but either way I admired their bravery.) I saw two cyclists on commuter bikes which resemble a Brompton Folding Bike, which was even more insane that riding a single speed bike. There were also a few recumbent bikes completing the ride, several tandem bicycles, a Penny-farthing, and one hand-pedaled cyclist who was making pretty good time.
- At most of the stops (full and mini) they had water, Clif bars, and sometimes fruit, while at the full stops they also had sandwiches a greater selection of snack foods. The full stops also had lots of vendors selling their wares or offering free samples.
- I over-packed for my supplies, but that's actually a good thing; I would rather have something with me and not need it than to need something and not have it.
- There is an old adage which says, "If you ain't the lead dog, the view never changes." This applies to cyclists as well.
- I made good time for a lot of the ride; I was able to keep a pretty good pace even climbing the moderate hills, and I found myself climbing with a good deal of power. (I was nowhere near competitive, of course, but I was really glad that I always train with hills.)
- After the ride was over I did the math, and I could have done the ride in a single day if I started at 4:45am with the rest of the single-day riders. Now I am not suggesting that I wouldn't have been in a great deal of pain after the ride, and during the ride I would have been psychologically punishing myself for being stupid enough to attempt a 206-mile ride in one day, but the math definitely proved to me that it could be done by me. (I should point out that I am not suggesting that I ever intend to do such a thing, but it is possible.)
- Throughout the ride I tried to joke around with other cyclists; I complimented people on their jerseys, silly things they attached to their bicycles or helmets, funny costumes, etc. I tried anything to take people's minds off the immediate suffering that we were all experiencing. I used to do the same thing in my Army days; I am not trying to be a "comedian" and make people laugh; I am just trying to spread a little joy and alleviate a little pain when it's needed most.
- Mike later made fun of me for a few of my verbalizations to other cyclists during the ride. For example, I chastised one guy for tossing a plastic wrapper to the ground: "Dude, you should pack out your own garbage." (Note: I always do.) And I chastised someone else for cutting me off with an abrupt lane change: "A little warning next time would be great. Thanks."
- I alluded to this earlier, but several of The Rules applied during this ride; I mentioned Rules #5 and #10 earlier, but the more you ride, you start to realize how many of those rules are apropos for any big riding event.
At the end of the event, Mike and I averaged just over 15 mph for the entire ride, which was better than I had anticipated during our planning. Here are some quick stats from both days:
- Total Calories Burned: 7,398 kcal
- Total Elevation Gained: 7,099 feet
- Final Average Speed: 15.1 mph
- Total Cycling Time: 13 hours, 48 minutes
- Total Participation Time: 20 hours, 43 minutes
The day after the ride was over I told Mike that 7,400 calories seemed too low, and he agreed: "That seemed a lot more like 10,000 calories."
As a parting thought, there are five stages to dealing with grief - Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance - and I've learned that it's much like that for distance rides:
- Denial: "Hey, a 206-mile ride won't be that bad..."
- Anger: "Why am I doing this ride? I am such an idiot!"
- Bargaining: "Dear God, if you help me to survive this ride, I promise that I will be nicer to all of humanity."
- Depression: "Oh my gosh, I still have another 20 miles to go. I could just die right now."
- Acceptance: "Well, that ride is over. I will never do that again."
The problem is, within a few weeks the vicious cycle will begin again. Immediately after a long ride like the STP is over you think, "I will never ride my bicycle again, so I'm going to sell it and take up an indoor hobby." On the day after the ride you think, "Well, maybe I'll keep my bicycle as a souvenir." One month later you start to think, "Hmm. I might ride the STP again." After another month passes you think, "Hey, I wonder when I can register for next year's STP?" And then in another month or so you find yourself telling your friends, "Hey! Do you guys want to ride the STP with me? It's LOTS of fun!" When that happens, denial has set in, and that's pretty much how it starts.
Warning: I will be a little more... um, blunt.. than usual in this blog. I make no apologies, because this is a very serious topic.
Someone I know posted the following article to Facebook with the caption, "When you don't vaccinate your kids, you contribute to this:"
Disneyland Measles Outbreak Hits 59 Cases And Counting
But what was the most-troubling about his post was an anti-vaxxer who responded to it; this anti-vaxxer was suggesting that: 1) measles isn't a deadly disease, 2) it can be treated by homeopathic herbs and essential oils, 3) contracting the disease will build natural immunities, and 4) we should be more concerned about the amount of sugar in our food than the measles. Unfortunately, this person was being serious. Adding insult to injury, when she was corrected with information from the World Health Organization (WHO) which pointed out that hundreds of thousands of people die each year from the measles, this anti-vaxxer changed her story and claimed that since only 145,700 people died from the measles in 2013, that's only 0.000024% of the world's 6 billion people, so measles isn't that big of a deal. This anti-vaxxer was completely blind to the fact that we were discussing 145,700 people who didn't need to die because the cause of their deaths was easily-preventable. In other words, what she really meant was - since the people who are dying from the measles aren't people that she knows personally, their lives obviously don't matter.
Before I continue, I need to state that I passionately agree with my friend's original statement: if you do not vaccinate your kids, you are contributing to potentially lethal outbreaks. Let me put this another way, and let me be very clear as to how I feel about vaccinations: if you are part of the current crowd of crazy people who oppose vaccinations for easily-preventable diseases - you are an idiot. Period. End-of-story. And if you are a parent who refuses to vaccinate your children, and your children contract an easily-preventable disease - you are a terrible, wicked, stupid, horrible, despicable person. Child Protective Services should take your children away from you because you are endangering your children, and you are obviously too inept to be a parent.
Let me dispel some of the anti-vaxxer's arguments with actual facts about the measles from the WHO at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs286/en/, (note that the added emphasis is mine):
- Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.
- In 2013, there were 145,700 measles deaths globally – about 400 deaths every day or 16 deaths every hour.
- Measles vaccination resulted in a 75% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2013 worldwide.
- In 2013, about 84% of the world's children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 73% in 2000.
- During 2000-2013, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 15.6 million deaths making measles vaccine one of the best buys in public health.
Measles is a highly contagious, serious disease caused by a virus. In 1980, before widespread vaccination, measles caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year.
The disease remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. Approximately 145,700 people died from measles in 2013 – mostly children under the age of 5.
Measles is caused by a virus in the paramyxovirus family and it is normally passed through direct contact and through the air. The virus infects the mucous membranes, then spreads throughout the body. Measles is a human disease and is not known to occur in animals.
Accelerated immunization activities have had a major impact on reducing measles deaths. During 2000-2013, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 15.6 million deaths. Global measles deaths have decreased by 75% from an estimated 544 200 in 2000 to 145 700 in 2013.
Let me reiterate some of those facts: immunizations have reduced the number of deaths by 95% in just the past 35 years (from 2,600,000 fatalities to 145,700 fatalities). When we discuss childhood immunizations for diseases like the measles, we are not discussing whether your child will stay home from school for a couple of days with a temperature - we are talking about preventing your child's death. Your child could die because of your parental incompetence, and all it takes is a simple vaccine to remove the possibility.
This anti-vaxxer also suggested that natural medicine was sufficient for the measles, which is a ludicrous proposal; if natural medicine was sufficient, then we would not have had millions of people dying each year throughout the history of humanity. I have met several people in my life who have grown up under the mistaken premise that centuries of naturalistic alchemy was more effective than present-day medicine. I would love to point out that for the thousands of years that homo-sapiens have walked the face of the planet, the life-expectancy of the average human was ½ or ¼ of what it is now. During that time, thousands of pseudo-doctors prescribed any number of naturally-based remedies, yet the majority of people could still expect to die before the age of 30 or 40, and millions upon millions of children died before they left infancy due to disease. In contrast, modern medical science has introduced thousands of real cures based on real science which have produced real results in terms of preventing disease and improving the quality of life. Natural medicine may make your feel better about yourself in an isolated, narrow-minded, yuppie universe, but a host of readily-available facts tell a decidedly different story: science actually works, whereas visiting a modern-day witch doctor does not.
I grew up in a time where contracting a large number of easily-contractible diseases was still a frightening fact of life, when millions of lives were seriously impacted by global diseases like measles, polio, etc. In the decades that preceded my childhood, a plethora of deadly diseases ravaged our society; diseases like smallpox, cholera, diphtheria, typhoid, etc. Times are vastly different now; in today's United States we are blessed with a society where decades of successful vaccination programs have reduced these diseases to the point where apathy and complacency have set in, and as a result we are forced to endure the idiocy of anti-vaxxers who think that vaccines are no longer necessary.
However, vaccines are still just as necessary as they were in the past. An essential part of our country's life-blood is immigration; millions of new immigrants settle within our borders each year, and most of these people are coming from countries which have no regular vaccination program. If your unvaccinated children go to school with children who have inadvertently brought diseases to the United States - your child will likely become infected. And as our world becomes increasingly more global, your child's chances of travelling outside the United States increases, and immunizations are necessary to prevent overseas exposure to diseases that we no longer worry about domestically. For example, thanks to a successful vaccination program, the United States hasn't seen a case of polio since 1979; however, when I was in India a few years ago, I met someone whose brother was recently paralyzed by polio.
If there was no measles vaccine and people were still dying to the left and to the right, people like this anti-vaxxer and everyone like her would be clamoring for a measles vaccine. You might recall the recent Ebola panic; suddenly everyone was screaming for a vaccine. I am completely confident that science will eventually come up with a vaccine for Ebola, and I am just as certain that 100 years after its debut the world will have anti-vaxxers who think that they just need to apply a homeopathic salve until they build up their immunity to Ebola. (There should be a special category in the Darwin Awards for anti-vaxxers.) Just because we don't see a specific disease in our day-to-day lives, that doesn't mean that it isn't a threat to the rest of the world.
I understand that some parents were unnecessarily frightened by a popular myth that was floating around which suggested that the MMR (Measles/Mumps/Rubella) vaccine could cause autism. That theory has long-since been debunked, but a few ill-educated people are unwilling to let it go. However, even if the infinitesimally-small chance of autism was remotely true, the theoretical number of people actually affected by the risk of autism would still be staggeringly-less than the number of lives that are actually saved by vaccinations. Penn and Teller put together a presentation which beautifully illustrates this point (Warning: Foul Language):
I have wasted enough time and effort on this subject, so I will leave you with a final parting thought: vaccinations have a proven track record of saving lives. If you are an anti-vaxxer, I do not care which stupid theory you are adhering to - you are just wrong. If you believe that natural medicine is the cure for everything - you are just wrong. Or if you believe that vaccines were designed by evil pharmaceutical companies to get rich - you are just wrong. Or if you believe that the side-effects from vaccines are worse than the disease - you are just wrong.
The simple fact is - vaccines save millions of lives each year. If you are too foolish to be immunized, perhaps you are doing the world a favor if you die from an easily-preventable disease and your genes are removed from the global gene pool so humanity can evolve past your demonstrably-lower level of intelligence. However, if you are a parent and you refuse to immunize your children, I will state once more - for the record - that you are a terrible, wicked, stupid, horrible, despicable person.
Since the time that I published this blog, several relevant articles have been published on this topic, so I have decided to periodically update this blog with pointers to articles that I think will add to this discussion.
And even though this subject isn't funny, there are a few humorous posts on the subject:
Once again, I was a weather wimp today. The nice folks at Sabino Cycles had organized an 8am ride for the Northeast side of town, (even going downhill on Freeman Road!). That being said, I looked at the weather forecast last night and saw that the temperature was going to be around 45 degrees at that time, but if I waited a few hours the temperature would be in the 70s. With that in mind, I didn't bother to set my alarm last night and I woke up sometime around 8:30am. Kathleen and I had a bunch of various chores to do around the house, and I wanted to do a small bit of bicycling maintenance before I hit the road, so I made plans to head out sometime in the afternoon.
After taking care of our assorted domestic activities around the house, I managed to get on the road shortly before 3pm. My plan was to ride around Pistol Hill Loop, which is decent metric half-century ride (50K or 31 miles). The weather was gorgeous – 65 degrees, blue skies, and nary a cloud in sight. The first four miles of the ride were fairly routine – it's the same path that I take whether I'm riding to Saguaro National Park or the Pistol Hill Loop.
As I hit the bottom of Jeremy Wash and rode past the Rincon Valley Market, I had been riding for almost a half-hour, and I could tell that my pace felt just slightly behind normal. (Looking at my ride statistics later in the day showed that I was 1.5 minutes behind my normal pace for the 15-mile loop from the Rincon Valley Market around the Pistol Hill Loop and back. Hmm… I can tell when I'm going to be a minute off for a whole hour?) With that in mind, I decided that I should hit some of my energy snacks. I usually use the Gu gels, but Kathleen had picked up some of the Gu Chomps energy chews for me, which are somewhat like Gummi Bears:
They were pretty good, but eating something solid like an energy chew while riding uphill is a little more difficult than ingesting a gel; I had to be extra careful not to inhale something by accident while I rode (and thereby I avoided choking to death).
There's not much to say about my ride around the Pistol Hill Loop; it's much easier for me than it used to be, but that doesn't mean that it still doesn't suck. Nevertheless, I saw lots of other cyclists on the road, and we all waved cordially to each other as we passed on opposite sides of the road.
I had been riding for 1.5 hours by the time I completed my way around the loop past the Rincon Valley Market and started my way up the steep hills on the north side of Jeremy Wash. The next few miles were pretty much all uphill, and I could really feel the impact of not having ridden earlier in the week. (By way of explanation, I was slammed at work this week, so I was forced to skip my normal Tuesday and Thursday rides.)
Needless to say, I was pretty tired by the time that I was approaching Saguaro National Park. And even though it wasn't on my original plan, I decided to turn into the park and add its 8-mile loop to my ride. (Although the whole time my brain was screaming, "I don't want to do this! I don't want to do this!")
Unfortunately I entered the park behind a very slow-moving vehicle that wanted to negotiate all of the initial hills around 5mph, and the road was too narrow so there was no way for me to pass. I was really frustrated by this predicament – not just because I was forced to ride 20 mph slower than normal, but also because it meant that I couldn't pick up any speed during my descents to use when ascending the next hill. After an extremely slow first mile or so, I was finally able to pass the slowpoke, who never pulled to the side of the road despite clearly seeing me in their driver-side mirror. (Grr.) Needless to say, this really hurt my ride time around the park.
On the straightaway between the 2nd and 3rd miles, I was hitting my energy snacks again as another cyclist passed by me. That probably wouldn't have happened on a normal day, but I was riding a few mph slower at that precise moment while I was consuming a few more Gu chews. Once I was done, I resumed my normal pace, and I stayed a couple of hundred yards behind the other cyclist for the next mile or so as we approached the steepest part of the climb up Riparian Ridge.
As we both climbed the ridge for the next half-mile or so, I was steadily gaining on the other cyclist, but he crested each hill before me (since he was a hundred yards ahead of me by this point), and he took better advantage of his descents to widen the gap between us. (You may remember from previous blogs that my overwhelming Fear of Mortality on a bicycle kicks in around the 30 mph mark, and the other guy obviously does not suffer from a similar sense of fear.)
Anyway, the gap between us grew to a sufficient-enough distance that I would not be able to catch up, but I tried my best to keep a decent pace for the rest of the ride through the park and all the way home. I arrived at our house right around 5:30pm, with just a tenth of a mile under 40-miles for the total distance. That's not too bad for my only ride this week.
- Primary Statistics:
- Start Time: 2:57pm
- Distance: 39.9 miles
- Duration: 2:33:18
- Calories Burned: 1708 kcal
- Altitude Gain: 1808 feet
- Average Speed: 15.6 mph
- Peak Speed: 31.2 mph
- Average Cadence: 77.0 rpm
- Average: 63.7 F
- Minimum: 59.0 F
- Maximum: 66.2 F
- Heart Rate:
- Average: 158 bpm
- Maximum: 174 bpm
I seldom talk about this, but it was on this day three years ago that our family lost my father-in-law, Terry Wetmore, to Alzheimer's Disease. My father-in-law was truly a second father to me; after my wife and I were married, Terry quickly became one of my closest friends. No matter the situation, the two of us would trade jokes back and forth - perhaps a little too often - and often to the chagrin of everyone else around us. Terry was a successful businessman in his younger days, and in his latter years Terry and my mother-in-law were part of a clown ministry that performed around the world.
The first indication of Terry's battle with Alzheimer's Disease was forgetfulness, and as his symptoms gradually progressed over several years, we found ourselves trying to help him process his fears and frustrations as he fully realized what was happening to him. I cannot imagine how terrifying that must have been for Terry, and it was extremely painful to watch his slow descent from a successful and self-determined businessman and loving grandfather into a growing fog of confusion.
As the months slipped by, Terry became progressively disorientated; for example, on more than one occasion he would plead with me to take him home, and I would have to gently remind him that he was already there. Eventually he could do little more than sit and stare at the world around him with an empty gaze from eyes that could not process his surrounding environment. One of the worst parts about Alzheimer's Disease is that each day passes and you are gradually robbed of your loved ones in spirit, even though you still have them physically.
I have a cousin who is living through similar circumstances, and during one of our conversations I mentioned that I am certainly no expert on how someone should go through this type of situation with a loved one. But I told her that I learned to appreciate the good days that we had near the end, and one particular event came to mind. My wife and I were visiting with my in-laws at a time when Terry's existence was rarely more than sitting in his favorite chair and watching television during his conscious hours. My mother-in-law invited my dad over to join us for dinner, and as the five of us relaxed around the dinner table, Terry miraculously emerged from his usual lethargy and became fully-engaged in the conversation. Terry was behaving more like his old self – he was joking with everyone, he was firing back at my dad’s ubiquitous one-liners, and he was referring to me by an old nickname which he had fashioned for me during all the years that we had known each other.
This was a wonderful moment in time; but it was all-too-brief, and sadly it was the last of its kind. Terry’s return to normalcy lasted for just that evening, and even though the weeks ahead had periodic episodes of lucidity, we soon had to put my father-in-law in a nursing home because his day-to-day needs were too much for my mother-in-law to take care of on her own. Terry’s health declined rapidly over the next several months, and he passed away within the year.
There is hardly a day that goes by where I do not think about how much I miss Terry. Brief moments like the dinner that I described were unexpected blessings, and they are wonderful memories that I will treasure for the rest of my days. Events like that are the way that I choose to remember Terry's latter years, and I am so thankful that I have a lifetime's worth of deeply-cherished reminiscences of him from our younger years.
Today was a fairly easy ride, although I had planned to ride more. The folks from Sabino Cycles had a ride scheduled for 8am this morning, but I had stayed up way too late the night before and decided against going out that early. I got up around 9am, but I had a lot of household work items to do, and as you may recall from earlier blog posts I needed to change out my flat tire.
I tried an experiment for my new inner tube: I bought a Slime Smart Tube, which is touted as a "self-healing tube," meaning that it contains a compound that should automatically plug small holes when they occur. (And Arizona is a state with no shortage of sharp, pointy things that try to kill your tires.) Reviews for Slime tubes are mixed, but I have known some people who love them. I knew that they would weigh more than a normal tube, so I decided to weigh a tube before installing it on my bicycle. A normal tube that I use weighed 84 grams (2.96 ounces), whereas the Slime tube weighed 176 grams (6.21 ounces). That shouldn't be enough of a difference to weigh me down all that much; and it's much better than a solid tube.
After finishing some routine maintenance on my bicycle, I was able to get on the road shortly after 4pm. I made good time to Saguaro National Park, where I got into a conversation about Fat Bikes with another cyclist who was leaving the park and one of the Park Rangers. I had been researching that style of bike earlier in the week, so I was able to discuss the merits of owning one. (I'm still not sure if I would get one, though.)
There were a few cars in the park, but for the most part the traffic wasn't too bad. I felt like I was making good time for the entire ride, and I completed the full distance from my house through Saguaro National Park and home again in a few seconds over an hour, so I was incredibly close to my one-hour goal. That being said, my time around the park loop was a little over two minutes slower than my best time, so had I completed the loop around the park a little closer to my 30-minute goal for that course, I would have beat my one-hour goal for the total distance.
There's always next time.
- Primary Statistics:
- Start Time: 4:14am
- Distance: 16.8 miles
- Duration: 1:00:16
- Calories Burned: 745 kcal
- Altitude Gain: 3173 feet
- Average Speed: 16.7 mph
- Peak Speed: 32.3 mph
- Average Cadence: 71.0 rpm
- Average: 58.0 F
- Minimum: 55.4 F
- Maximum: 69.8 F
- Heart Rate:
- Average: 162 bpm
- Maximum: 175 bpm
Well, today's ride didn't start as planned, and as a result, the rest of the ride didn't go as planned, either. If you read my last blog post, you would remember that my rear tire was flat from the other day. I had a spare inner tube, so I budgeted time to replace the tube before heading out for a ride. It took a while to remove the old tube, and after I had the new tube in place, I started to pump up the new tire. I had barely got the air pressure up to 40 PSI when the tube exploded – quite loudly. (It really scared our puppy who was resting nearby.)
This left me with two options: 1) ride my hybrid bicycle, or 2) don't ride. The second option was totally undesirable, so I decided to ride my hybrid. I hadn't ridden that bicycle to Saguaro National Park in a few months, so I was slightly curious how badly that would impact my ride. (Not too much, as it turns out.)
My cadence meter is mounted on my road bike, so I wasn't able to track my cadence; that meant that I simply judged my speed based on miles-per-hour. There were a couple of other things that impacted my ride time: 1) my hybrid is about 15 pounds heavier than my road bike, and 2) the pedals on my hybrid bike are not configured for cleats, so I lost a great deal of pedaling power. Nevertheless, I completed the whole ride around four minutes slower than normal.
There isn't much else to say about the ride; my attempts at repairing my flat tire meant that I left home later than I intended, so the sun was setting as completed my loop around Saguaro National Park. With that in mind, I was extremely happy that I had re-attached my good riding light to my hybrid.
- Primary Statistics:
- Start Time: 4:44pm
- Distance: 16.9 miles
- Duration: 1:06:39
- Calories Burned: 727 kcal
- Altitude Gain: 823 feet
- Average Speed: 15.2 mph
- Peak Speed: 31.4 mph
- Average Cadence: n/a
- Average: 63.9 F
- Minimum: 60.8 F
- Maximum: 71.6 F
- Heart Rate:
- Average: 160 bpm
- Maximum: 177 bpm
It has been a couple of weeks since my last ride; I had been out of town, and then we had a spate of really, really cold weather. (Below freezing at night, and in the low-40s during the day.) With all of these factors in mind, I hadn't ridden in a while. Sunday isn't my normal day, but I decided that I really needed to get back on the bike.
The temperature was pretty good considering the time of year; the rest of the country is embroiled in the throes of winter storms, and I was treated to sunny, 60-degree riding weather. (Times like this remind me of why I like Arizona.)
For the most part the ride was going well; my pace was around normal, and what little traffic was driving around the loop was easily passed. That being said, I had a couple of little mishaps as I was exiting the park: 1) I was pulled over by the park rangers, and 2) my bicycle got a flat tire.
Here's the story:
As everyone completes the loop, there is a posted stop sign for both cars and bicycles, although I usually treat it as yield sign. My reasoning is simple: I can easily see when there are no cars in the area, so I'm well-aware when there are no safety issues, and it's easier to ride through the stop sign rather than come to a complete stop. (Plus I'm riding for time.) But today I saw a park vehicle near the end of the loop with flashing lights, and as I rode by it, one of the park rangers gestured for me to stop. He asked if I had come to a complete stop at the sign. I replied honestly and said that I had not, so he mentioned that they were writing tickets for cyclists who weren't stopping. He took my driver's license and called that in, and we continued to talk. He explained why they were giving tickets, which was to increase safety near the park entrance, and I explained that I usually treat it as a yield sign. (I'm an honest guy, even when faced with a possible ticket.) For some reason the ranger decided to let me go with a verbal warning, but after he had done so, we got into a discussion about our respective military careers. We chatted for ten minutes or so, and then we both needed to head off to our respective destinations.
As I got back on my bicycle, I had ridden perhaps 100 yards or so when I noticed that the ride was quite bumpy. By the time I had ridden another 100 yards I realized that my rear tire was completely flat. I hopped off the bike, and I tried to call Kathleen. She didn't answer her phone, so I walked my bicycle back to the shack near the park entrance where I re-inflated my rear tire with my pump. I climbed back on the bike and started to ride toward home, but I barely made it 100 yards before the tire was flat again. At that point, my only choice was to try and call Kathleen again. This time she answered, and we arranged for her to come pick me up.
In the end, I lost a little over four miles for today's ride because of the flat. Just the same, I was very glad that Kathleen was available to pick me up. If this had been a weekday and she was working… I would have had a long walk home.
- Primary Statistics:
- Start Time: 3:32pm
- Distance: 12.6 miles
- Duration: 0:50:45
- Calories Burned: 595 kcal
- Altitude Gain: 819 feet
- Average Speed: 14.9 mph
- Peak Speed: 31.4 mph
- Average Cadence: 72.0 rpm
- Average: 60.1 F
- Minimum: 59.0 F
- Maximum: 62.6 F
- Heart Rate:
- Average: 165 bpm
- Maximum: 176 bpm