Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Love/Hate Wind Relationship

Sunday was unusually warm for this time of year, and also unusually windy. The winds were close to 30 for most of the afternoon and never died down much. I finally decided late afternoon to go for a short ride anyway.

Now, understand that we South Dakotans on this side of the state are VERY used to wind. It's a fact of life: If you are going to ride with any frequency, you WILL deal with wind. Usually between 7-15mph on a pretty regular basis. Once it hit's 20mph, it's a pain though.

I mashed the pedals out to Hwy 12 in Nebraska, often cussing my decision to go on this ride in the first place. Then, I turned around. Once I could feel my legs again, how quickly I forgot the pain of climbing into the wind. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee down the hill. There is a short steep drop right before you go across the bridge that says I hit 44.9 on my Garmin (although my bike computer read 46.2...go figure). Below is the graph that shows speed vs. elevation. Kind of a telling story of the wind.

Check out the average wind speeds. It was just plain nasty!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another Saxophone in the Family

Many of you probably didn't know I play Saxophone (unless you remember me from WAY back or come to my church) but I do still play my Alto Sax from time to time. Austin, now in sixth grade, decided to take a shot at playing Tenor Sax. At first I was trying to convince him to try Alto first so he could just use mine, but I gave up quickly as I actually enjoy playing Tenor also (which I have a couple times already since he brought it home). I'm proud that he decided to play without me pushing him to do so. Here is a photo of his first practice in the house.

The Grocery-Getter Report Sept 17-23

This was a fun week for me and the Grocery Getter. It was maybe a little busier than normal, but not much. It was actually fun to keep track of what all was transported by "GG" as I've never done that before. Without further ado, here is the list:

* Backpack containing workout clothes and my USB Flash Drive
* 4 New Gateway m295 Tablet Computers
* 1 Replacement Hard Drive for a m280 Tablet Computer
* 1 Port Replicator for m285 Tablet Computer
* Returned 3 movies back to the video store
* One New Music Stand for Austin
* Two Boxes of Honey Bunches of Oats from the store
* One "Poof" Ball for use with body soap in the shower
* One helmet for Austin whose helmet is falling apart
* 2 Bananas for lunch
* 2 17" CRT monitors (separate trips--poor GG would have a heart attack otherwise)
* keyboard/mouse/Ethernet cables
* 2 New Hard Drives
* 2 Replacement Port Replicators for Tablet Computers
* Load of recycling to the recycling trailer.
* Trip to the Grocery Story ($55.48 worth of groceries)

Grocery-Getter picture of the week: Recycling trip

Even though it's not GG related, we also hung six loads of laundry on the clothes line this week. I thought that deserved mention!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Intramural Team Champions!

One of the fringe benefits of working at the University is the opportunity to participate in the Intramural Bike Race each year. A race I had won for five years in a row until last year an upstart, Alex Baldwin, beat me by seven seconds. So, when you lose to somebody who is in even better shape this year, has completed an Ironman Triathlon, and you know you have no chance to beat, what do you do? That's right, you make him a teammate and recapture the team title at least!

Once we confirmed Alex would be part of our team we started scheming about tactics for the race. Joe Parlett and Craig DeVelder were to round out our team with the top three times counting for the overall team title. The scheme was on. Alex and I were going to break out early and see who was willing to follow. Joe and Craig were going to "suck wheel" of the second place team and pull as little as possible, and when they did pull, they were to even possibly slow the pace down allowing Alex and I break away even further.

The plan worked even better than expected. I sat behind two riders from the other team for about a 1/4 mile and Alex went flying by on the outside. I was somewhat boxed in, but I broke between the two riders and absolutely hammered on the cranks pushing 30mph for about a 1/3 of a mile blowing by Alex and catching him a little off guard. Alex pulled up beside me and told me we had a gap and asked what should we do? I answered with two words "Let's go!" From there on, it was Alex and I pushing a pretty hard pace continuing to open up on the pack of five behind us (which included Joe). I'm sure at any point Alex could have dusted me, but we worked great together taking quick hard pulls out front for each other.

In this 14 mile race, about 6 of it was on a new, slow and thick seal coat. It is a horrible surface and does slow you down considerably (for any of you who rode the 30 mile loop on the Margarita Ride, you know what I'm talking about!). We were still able to hold a great pace to the turnaround point. Once we turned around we were cranking into about a 10mph wind, but we were still hammering away, taking turns pulling. When we went by the group behind us, Alex said it was :38 seconds since we turned around. I was a little concerned since they had more drafting help than we did, but it was time to lay it all on the line as we pushed forward.

As we climbed the last major incline, which was also the end of the nasty section of road, I was starting to feel the pace. Alex cleared me by 4-5 seconds by the top of the hill. He looked back, waited, and we took off hard once I caught up. I knew that I was quickly running out of steam though. The pace we were on was very hard and I wasn't sure about my ability to hold it. I pulled one more time to give Alex a breather and then he took back over. It was all I could do to hug his wheel. Alex actually asked for shelter and I tried to get back up front, but he was faster in front than I was trying to catch him. He asked me what I wanted to do. I told him to get me to the top of the last incline (which would leave a little over a mile to go) and then take off. He led out and I hugged his wheel as tight as I could until the top and then I shouted "Go Alex Go"....and he did. Alex destroyed the last mile beating me by a full :17 seconds.

Now the waiting game to see how everybody else would come in. As they rounded the last curve, the five were now three and I didn't see Joe in the pack and I was worried. Then, out of nowhere, a biker swerved to the left and started hammering. It was Joe! One of the other team darted in front of him to block, which actually allowed Joe to draft to the finish. At that point Joe didn't really care as the difference between 3rd and 4th meant nothing because we had the team title wrapped up at that point. It was definitely one of the most competitive races that we have ran and it was a good feeling for the "old guys" (and Alex...our resident youngin') to pull off.

The Stats for the top three teammates on the 14 mile course:
Alex Baldwin 34:09 24.597mph average - 1st Place
Kevin Brady 34:26 24.395mph average - 2nd Place
Joe Parlett 37:15 22.550mph average - 4th Place (1 second off third)

Average Team Times:
Us: 35:17
Them: 37:40
Them #2: 40:14

Mile by mile stats from my Garmin Forerunner 301:

MileMile SplitAve. SpeedMax Speed

It should also be mentioned that there are no real "bad guys" in this race. For the most part we all ride together at different rides throughout the year, with most of us all on the same MS150 team. It was a friendly least I think so. We lost to them last year and there were no hard feelings. It may have made us work harder for it this year, but that's about it.

Some of our Lanehogs/Team Road Kill Women rode the race and handily took the team title with Kirsten G. finishing 8th overall (out of 16 in the race). Congrats to Cathy L., Kirsten G., Barbara Y., and Erin S. on the victory on the Women's race!

On a personal note, this is probably the only time in my life I'll get to race with Alex as a teammate, but I'll be surprised if we don't see his name atop the leader board at many Ironman's to come. I know that I'll be watching for him and saying, "I lost to him twice proudly in an Intramural Bike Race". The cool thing is, he's not just a great racer, but a great guy too. I'll miss seeing you around Alex, but I'll be following your career in racing!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Happy 15,000+ TCR0

Sunday,as I was approaching Elk Point (the first time), the computer on my Giant TCR0 read 15,000 miles at or near where the arrow is pointing in the picture above. That is actually probably low as my computer has been cutting out a little more lately. Luckily I always have the Garmin as my backup trip mileage. Either the battery is going dead, which I'm surprised hasn't happened yet, or my computer figures that it's already screwed up because it's reading 15,000 miles.

I love my Cateye Astrale, but it may be time to move on when it dies. I no longer pay attention to cadence as I pretty much know the general ballpark that I'm pedaling, and with my Garmin, it really only serves as a backup device anyway. BUT, when you are obsessed with logging mileage, a backup is never a bad idea I guess.

While the Astrale may get retired, there is no thought of retiring the Giant TCR0 yet. It has served me quite well and hopefully will for awhile yet. 15,000 bike miles...I wonder how many that is in "cager" miles? Is it like dog years to people years? Has my bike rolled the equivalent of 105,000 car miles? more?

Monday, September 17, 2007

New Thoughts on Posting

While I will still post some ride information and keep you up to date with monthly totals, I don't think many are interested in reading about my Weekly Activity (unless something spectacular happens). I think what I will focus on more in my posts are things I see differently while biking versus driving, trips I make with the Grocery Getter including a new feature, "What has been hauled by the grocery getter this week".

As much as I love to ride my road bike for miles on end, I think the thing I'm proudest of are my in town commuting/errand miles. Vermillion is a relatively small town (a little over 10,000) and from where I live, literally nothing is over three miles away, and most things are less than 2 miles. So while I may not have near the commuting miles as some, I'm proud to say that I drive very very little in town. I take the Grocery Getter with me quite often now. As an example, here are some of the things it did in the last couple weeks for me:

* Hauled many computers and monitors from various places on campus due to a bunch of new faculty computers that came in and carried the old ones back to my office.
* Hauled a few smaller printers back that were replaced.
* A few trips to the grocery store for groceries. I have figured out that I can completely fill a small shopping cart at Hy-Vee along with a couple gallons of milk underneath and it will all fit in the Grocery Getter.
* Trips to Walmart for things
* Trips to the Dakota Dome with my backpack full of workout clothes inside
* Recyclables to the the recycling center/recycling trailers (no curbside pickup yet!)
* Hauled my wife's massage table to and from her office. I know, it's hard to get a mental image of this, so I'll work on taking a picture for you on this one!

You get the general picture. I use the Grocery Getter like most people use a car. I'm sure many people in town think I am the strangest thing ever with that cart on back. Do I care? Are you kidding? I could care less. Okay, I might feel bad if the kids get crap in school about their weird Dad, but many of the kids think that my obsessive bike riding is actually cool (The kid who delivers the local shopper newspaper LOVES my cart!).

From here on out, there will be biking stories, grocery getter updates, and monthly mileage updates along with the usual family happenings. Part of the purpose of my blog is to encourage people to drive less. Now I need to SHOW people how I do so much with my bike and without my car!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Margarita Ride VI

Saturday was the Sixth Annual Margarita Ride here in Vermillion. I'm not sure I have ever truly blogged about the Margarita Ride in detail so I'll give you a little background. Our first two rides started out from Holly S's house with mainly area cyclist/people on our listserv riding and I think the first year we had about 15 riders and the second year we had about 25. From there we moved out to the Winery for the next two years and that is where the ride really started to grow. By the time we left the Winery we had around 75 rollers. Year five (last year) seen us hit about 100 riders on the nose which was a major accomplishment for us, considering our "marketing" of the ride was pretty much exclusively word of mouth. You are now caught upon the "History of the Margarita Ride". I'm thinking that it should be a Wikipedia entry..hmm..might have to work on that.

Nine days before the ride, we ordered our shirts. At that point there were 92 riders signed up. We guaranteed a t-shirt if you signed up two weeks before the ride and we even gave five extra days on that since we didn't order until nine days before. We ordered 135 shirts to have a cushion for "day of" registrations. Well, after The Owner of Spoke-N-Sport pushed the Margarita Ride out to his list of email-ees, our numbers, our 135 shirts ran out about about 3 days prior to the ride. Since we didn't order them local, we were pretty much out of luck. There was no way to get more shirts in. Another 45 or so rollers pulled in on Saturday morning pushing our numbers over 180 for the ride. It was almost overwhelming as we really didn't plan for that many nor did we probably have adequate help. EVERYBODY who was helping did an incredible job and for the casual observer, we probably looked like we had it all together!

My 9 year old daughter Marissa rode on the Tandem with me and we did the 30 mile loop. We even rode for a bit with a lady who went to med school at USD a few years back, read about our ride and came all the way out JUST FOR OUR RIDE from Rapid City. It pays to get free pub! It was the first time Marissa has ridden 30 miles (32.01 to be exact) and now she has her sites set on riding the MS Bike Tour next summer. I think that she will be fine too!

Most people rode the 30 or 50 mile loops with a few riding the 15 mile option. Some even did the 30 and the 15 together to create their own ride. Whatever tripped their trigger, everybody seemed to have a good time, followed by margaritas and a Mexican buffet! It was a great ride for a great cause (The MS Society). As soon as I get over my "organizing the ride" hangover, I'll get the accounting side of this down. Quick math in my head tells me that we should be handing over about $1000 to the MS Society which is pretty awesome!

Mark your calendars now from now until I can't pedal a bike anymore. The Margarita Ride will ALWAYS BE THE 2nd Saturday of September. Make a recurring appointment and be there. Sign up early, you'll want this shirt too! This year's shirt had an upside down bicyclist still clipped in with the bike above them and a margarita glass to the side. The caption (of course) was: "I've fallen and I can't clip out...or reach the Margarita".

Monday, September 03, 2007

Blog It and They Will Come (Maybe)

So, I've been doing the "blogging thing" for almost 2 years now. Mind you, for the most part, my blog has been pretty boring unless you LOVE biking or my family. That is pretty much all I do besides work and various church activities. Nothing too exciting to most people, but exciting enough for me. I don't blog about work. I love my job, and I'm sure I could squeeze out some great "duh" stories working for ITS at the University, but I'm really good at leaving work behind once 5:00 hits.

Anyhow, I used to rarely post unless something moderately exciting happened. Great for me, but not so great for friends and family who always want to see what is going on in my life, which is why I started a blog in the first place, so I wouldn't have to email them all the time. NOW, I feel the need to blog even when I am not sure I want to or really have anything of importance to say. Why? Because...apparently...people actually want to know what is going on more often than once a week!

Bloggers are a strange breed. I never fathomed that I'd have regular visitors from Alaska, Washington, Arizona, Kentucky, Georgia, and Minnesota. I take hits from other states, but these people are the ones I seem to take hits from over and over. I think it's cool, and I've made some great friends through "blogging", but once in awhile I sit back and kind of chuckle as to why a posting such as this would actually draw a reader in (HEY..GET BACK HERE...I DIDN'T TELL YOU THAT YOU COULD LEAVE YET!).

Once I actually started blogging more often, the strangest thing happened: PEOPLE CAME BACK! Back in the day of one to four posts a month, I wasn't taking many hits at all. In August I took over 1200 unique hits to my blog due in most part to everybody's curiosity over the Gut Check. One of my friends pointed out that doesn't include RSS readers who keep up that way. It kind of boggled my poor little mind, but it was cool.

Here is my plea to y'all. Some of you lurk around and just read my blog. Now, I want you to post something. Tell me what makes you keep coming back. Tell me what you want to hear more of or less of. It doesn't mean I'll comply, I'm just curious.

Below are the stats for the last 20 months. Not too hard to figure out when I actually started to become a more faithful blogger, is it?!?!?!?!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Monthly Mileage Update

The mileage will probably taper somewhat from here on out. I want to focus a little bit on getting the tandem out with the kids and my wife. I still have that "selfish" goal of wanting to hit 10,000 miles as well, so I will have to plan rides carefully!