Tuesday, March 31, 2009


The battle of the pedals.

Alright, so you may have seen in the pictures from the ride last weekend, I'm still rocking Nike's and toe clips on my new bike. I know this must come to an end ASAP, but before it does, I'd love to have your input.

Should I put on SPD pedals or Look pedals. A bike shop here in town said I should go Look, and that's what my older brother uses, but I've also heard that you can't go wrong with SPD's and both my little brother and Todd use them.

Here's what I've done. I ordered 2 pairs of shoes and both SPD and LOOK pedals and will conduct a little test of my own, but I also would love to hear from people that are actually using the technology right now. What would you recommend and why. The most compelling argument gets bolted on first. Keep in mind, I'm new and sure to fall clipped in no matter which brand I use, and that my end goal here is a century ride, so comfort is as important as functionality I assume. I could be wrong here, but that makes sense to me. Can't wait to hear from you.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Project: Lotus Re-Birth

Planning a Farewell Ride

So I'm psyched about the new bike and with a couple rides under my belt, I'm feeling pretty good. The only downer is that it'll soon be time to return the loaner to it's rightful owner, my father-in-law Larry. As you know, the Lotus served me well by getting me into cycling with a healthy appreciation for the sport, it's history and it's technological advances. Mostly the technological advances thing. But all good things must come to an end.

To properly close this chapter I feel like I need to give it a good, long, send-off ride. I'd love to break the 20 mile mark on the Lotus...it just feels like the right thing to do. Yes, you know by now that I'm a little bit of a glutton for punishment, I did sign up for a 100 mile road race without owning a bike after all, but I'm not crazy. Riding 20 miles on the Lotus would be a nightmare unless I fix the shifting. I have to admit, after riding a bike that allows you to shift to any gear, at any time, I've found that it's better. Way better.

So on to the fixing. Yup, I'm taking another crack at this shifting mystery. I'm heading to the garage to fix it. I hear you, I know that my bike mechanic skills left me a little high and dry last time, but I was in a rush, trying to squeeze in a ride so I'm thinking with a little bit of time and with the pressure off, I should be able to figure this out. The Lotus deserves that much at least. I'll keep you posted.

Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy
The blog publisher values the privacy of its clients and Web/blog site viewers. Any of the following personal information that may be made available to the blog publisher when browsing or navigating the site shall be kept confidential:
First and last name
Company, home, postal or other physical address
Other contact information, for example, telephone number, fax number, email address, and other similar information
Title or position in a company or an organization
Personal interests
Any other information needed to provide a service you requested

Examples of scenarios where our visitors provide their personal information include, but may not be limited, to:
Emailing, calling or communicating with the blog publisher.
Posting a question or comment through the site.
Requesting literature.
Registering to attend a seminar or any event.
Participating in an online survey.
Requesting inclusion in an email or other mailing list.
Submitting an entry for a contest or other promotions.
Logging in to the site, thus requiring a user name and/or a password.
Any other business-related reason.

The blog publisher provides you the opportunity to agree or decline to give your personal information via the Internet. The blog publisher will inform you of the purpose for the collection and does not intend to transfer your personal information to third parties without your consent, except under the limited conditions described under the discussion entitled “Information Sharing and Disclosure” below. If you choose to provide us with your personal information, we may transfer that information, within the company or to a third party service provider as necessary.
Domain Information CollectionThe blog publisher may collect domain information to enable us to analyze how our visitors use this site. This data enables us to become more familiar with which people visit our site, how often they visit, and what parts of the site they visit most often. The blog publisher uses this information to improve its Web-based offerings. This information is collected automatically and requires no action on your part.

Use of Cookies and Tracking User TrafficSome pages on this site may use “cookies”—small files that the site places on your hard drive for identification purposes. A cookie file can contain information such as a user ID to track the pages visited, but the only personal information a cookie can contain is information you supply yourself. These files are used for site registration and customization the next time you visit us.

Some parts of the site may also use cookies to track user traffic patterns. The blog publisher does this in order to determine the usefulness of our Web site information to our users and to see how effective our navigational structure is in helping users reach that information. Please note that cookies cannot read data off of your hard drive. Your Web browser may allow you to be notified when you are receiving a cookie, giving you the choice to accept it or not. If you prefer not to receive cookies while browsing our Web site, you can set your browser to warn you before accepting cookies and refuse the cookie when your browser alerts you to its presence. You can also refuse all cookies by turning them off in your browser, By not accepting cookies, some pages may not fully function and you may not be able to access certain information on this site.

Information Sharing and Disclosure
Your personal information is never shared outside the company without your permission, except under conditions listed below:
Consenting to share your information to a third party service provider working on our behalf to serve you.
Requiring us to provide you with a product or service.
The blog publisher will also disclose your personal information, if required to do so by law, or in urgent circumstances, to protect personal safety, the public or our sites.
Internet SecurityThe blog publisher strives to protect your personal information; however, we urge you to take every precaution to protect your personal data when you are on the Internet. Change your passwords often, use a combination of letters

Protecting the Privacy of Children
Children under 13 years old are not the target audience for our Web site. To protect their privacy, the blog publisher prohibits the solicitation of personal information from these children.

Links to Third Party Sites
This site may contain links to other sites. The blog publisher does not share your personal information with those Web sites and is not responsible for their privacy practices. We encourage you to learn about the privacy policies of those companies.

Changes to this Privacy Policy
The blog publisher reserves the right to change, modify or update this policy at any time without notice. Any substantial changes in the way we use your personal information will be posted on this site.
If you have questions or concerns about our Privacy Policy, please email us at the contact information on the site.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Best Ride Ever

For real this time.

I know I said I had the best ride ever a few rides ago, but I guess I lied. Again, I'm new, so I didn't really have a good basis for what the best ride ever would be. Now I do and I'm sure it won't ever change again...ever...it certainly won't change tomorrow. We'll see. Anyway, on to the ride.

Friday night I talked to my older brother Chad, and we
decided to meet up on Saturday for a ride. He had yet to see my new bike, and the weather was going to be great so it was on. I called out new partner in crime, Todd and he said he was in as well. He's a champ. He just decided to do the century on Wednesday, he got in 8 miles outside on Thursday, 11 on Friday and he we are trying to con him into a 20 miler on Saturday. Oh, did I mention he's a tad sleep deprived having just come home with a new baby five or so weeks ago. That may be why he decided to join us, either way, he was in, so we headed down to the Mystic, CT area around 10:30 am for the ride.

Chad lives, works, and rides down there so he was our tour guide for the day. When we arrived, he had a nice surprise for me... a pair of bike shorts to borrow for the ride. If you've been following along, you know that up until this point I've been rocking wind pants or my lacrosse shorts from high school as my biking gear. As this was going to be my first legit ride, I guess it was only right that I don some legit gear.

The shorts went on OK, and actually weren't as tight or uhhh, restrictive as I anticipated, however, when I went to walk I noticed an interesting phenomenon. What I call, the diaper effect. Now, I admit, it's been awhile since I wore a diaper, and my memories of them are a bit vague, but it all came back to me when I pulled on these chamois bike shorts. Chad assured me that while yes, they are totally awkward and uncomfortable on land, once you hop on the bike, they are remarkably comfortable and keep things much more padded and protected along the ride. Nothing commits you to cycling like bike shorts. I felt like once I put them on, there was no turning back. So now that we were going for a ride no matter what, we better put some air in the tires.

I finally got to experience the joy of a floor pump. I never thought it would be so easy to get those things up to 100 psi. I loved it so much, I bought one today, very excited about that. Also, I ordered clipless shoes, so keep an eye out for the first clipless ride post coming soon. With everything set, we headed out.
Todd pulling ahead...Pretty good camera work by Chad here. He's taking pictures of me and Todd with his camera phone, while riding.

Now this is the first time that I've ridden with other cyclists, so taking off in a little pack was cool. We tooled through downtown Mystic and then headed up River Road. We were just rolling at this point, warming up and talking a bit. Much better, and more enjoyable than just pushing off by yourself. After a bit, Chad took the lead and started guiding Todd and I through Ledyard and Stonington. Did I mention it was beautiful out. Nice and sunny, about high fifties or low sixties, a perfect day for shorts and fingerless gloves, although I did wear a long sleeve shirt.

For the most part, we weren't really pushing it today but it was a great time. Twice we put the pedal to the medal. I don't yet have my bike computer set up, but Chad's said the we reached just over 30 mph, and this wasn't a downhill mind you. I actually had to start cranking hard to get up to that speed, which I loved by the way. I could really get used to this whole speed thing. It takes a bit out of you, but man is it fun.

Now, I'm sure you're wondering, how long. How long is this perfect ride? Keep in mind that up to this point, the furthest I've gone is 13 miles so I would have been excited about making it to 14. But no, not good enough for this ride. This non cycling novice and his cancer fighting compadres, made it a whopping...

18.4 miles.

OK, OK, still a long way to 100 but we're getting there. That, plus the fact that the route we just did is my brother's "lunch ride" keep me in my place. Still wouldn't consider myself a cyclist, but hey, at least now I own a bike.

We made it back to my brother's house intact and loving life. We wound down with some brats and beers on his deck wondering why we couldn't do this everyday.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

An Uneventful Ride

New Bike, No Problems

Last night I got home, I checked the weather, (54 degrees and sunny thank goodness), and got stoked to get in my first good ride on the new steed. I braved the fingerless gloves again, although I stuffed Becky's teal gloves in my pockets just in case. I gave the new bike the once over. Air in the tires...check. Ok, I guess I didn't really have a long checklist, but hey, its a new bike, everything was looking good.

I pulled out of the garage and headed out, planning to do the "quick" down and back 13.7 mile loop. I'm happy to report that I don't really have anything funny or crazy to write about today. As I pulled out, I passed the UPS man and smiled thinking maybe we would play leap frog again, but alas, it wasn't meant to be, I didn't see him again all ride.

The new bike was serving me well. I could choose any gear I wanted and the bike did what I told it to do, shifting smoothly into the requested gear. I have to say, while this new freedom was great, it posed a whole new challenge for me. How do I know what gear to be in? Do I pick a higher gear and burn my legs pushing hard, or do I choose a lower gear, and get winded spinning the pedals like crazy. I think I'm figuring it out but I'm sure if I had a coach or someone experienced with me, they would have some advice for me.

I'm a little under the weather, so the volume of snot on this ride was particularly high, I definitely broke in my new gloves. Also, my neck is still not used to this road bike position and screams a bit after 7 or 8 miles. Other than that, I just rode down, turned around and rode home. Nothing crazy, no real problems; in other words, it was awesome. Maybe boring to read about, and less things for me to poke fun at, but at this point, an uneventful ride is a good ride. Now I just have to keep upping the mileage. As you may have guessed I still haven't put on the clipless pedals, so when I do, the "uneventful" thing might go out the window for a bit, but for now, things are rolling smooth.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New Rider for the Cause

Team Fatty Keeps on Growing

A warm welcome goes out to my friend and new team mate Todd Guerrette. Todd has joined Team Fat Cyclist: Fighting for Susan and will be riding with my brothers and I, in the 100 mile LiveSTRONG Challenge in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, Todd's sister-in-law Kim is battling breast cancer, so in honor and support of her, Todd will be dusting off the bike (yes, he already owns one) and raising money to support the cause.

Having Todd join up is a great addition and is a good reminder that this isn't just a fun ride or a good excuse to try something new and make fun of myself. While the journey to race day can be fun, and learning a new sport is exciting/humiliating, the entire reason that we're taking on this challenge is to support a critical cause that in some way, effects us all. We appreciate your support, both financially and otherwise, so please visit our fundraising pages and keep the emails and comments coming.

If you live in CT/MA/RI area, keep an eye out for our fundraising events. I'll make sure all the information gets posted to the blog as we finalize things, but we will be throwing an event or two in support of the Philly 09 LiveSTRONG challenge so stay tuned. If you'd like to be kept in touch via email please drop me a note at noncyclist@gmail.com and I'll make sure you get added to the distribution list. To make sure you don't miss a blog, bookmark this page or you can also subscribe to noncyclist.com using the subscription buttons on the right hand side of the blog. Again, thanks for all of the support!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Back to Reality

A bike does not a cyclist make.

So...I got the new bike in the garage and all I can think about all day today is getting home and taking it for a spin. I got home late the day I bought it and surfed all day Sunday, so today was the day. I should mention that along with my bike, I purchased a few accessories as well. I got clip in pedals, an under seat pouch, water bottle cages, a bike computer, and biking gloves. I mention this because the demise of my first ride on the new bike, came from one of these extra purchases.

Clip In Pedals - An obvious newbie disaster waiting to happen. Lucky for me, I have yet to install the pedals as I don't yet have shoes, so the pedals didn't hurt me today.

Under seat pouch - I'm trying to think of ways that an innocent, under the seat pouch could ruin a ride. Maybe if the pouch was filled with some sort of acid that burned through the pouch and then melted my rear tire. Nah, as you may have guessed, no melted tire, this suspect is in the clear.

Water Bottle Cages - I'm not even gonna try to be clever, it wasn't the cages.

Bike Computer - The computer might make a ride less enjoyable by telling you that you haven't really gone that far, or that you're not really going that fast, but that's not the type of ride disaster I'm talking about. Next.

Wait, that only leaves one last suspect...the biking gloves. How could bike gloves ruin a ride you ask? Good question, I'm glad you brought it up. OK, OK, if I'm honest, it wasn't really the gloves' fault. More likely, it was the person wearing the gloves that set the disaster in motion. Yes, that would be me.

My eagerness got the best of me today. I raced home from work, changed and headed to the garage. Yes, it was then that I noticed a chill in the air. But it's not that cold out right? Having ridden a few times in shorts, I find it hard to revert back to my french rolled wind pants, so here I am, in shorts and my new fingerless biking gloves. Now, mind you, I'm still in the garage at this point. Why not run back inside and put some pants on. Why not run back inside and pull on Becky's snowboarding gloves (ah the good ol' days).

No, that would have made too much sense. It's not that cold I tell myself. At this point, my kid with a new toy brain is not being very rational. Instead of doing the old down and back ride that I've done a few times and since I now have a full array of real gears to choose from, I decided to go on a new, hilly route that should be about ten miles. Short yes, but I'm starting at about 6:30 and daylight (and temperature) are fading fast.

Things go really well for about... I dunno... maybe 217 yards. Then I realize I've made a gross miscalculation. Why Clay? Why don't you turn around? You're still so close to home, please turn around.

Unfortunately, I didn't hear you when I was riding and my ignorant self kept cranking. I got about 2 miles from home and then it really started to set in. It's beyond cold at this point. I'm seriously worried that I'm doing real damage to my hands in their stupid, new fingerless gloves. (yes, I know it's me not the gloves) Excruciating pain has suddenly brought clear reason to my stubborn brain and I know turning around is a must. I head for home but the unfortunate fact is that while I want to race home, the faster I go, the worse it gets for my exposed flesh. Luckily, since I've gone on a few rides, I'm now able to take a hand off the handlebars without losing control or doing the "town drunk", wobbly ride. I managed to ride the whole way home with one hand on the bars and the other in a fist, out of the wind, trying to salvage a ounce of feeling...it was a losing battle.

I hope someone out there has been in a similar boat before, not that I enjoy others suffering, but there has to be someone out there, who understands the unbearable pain I was experiencing. I've had cold hands snowboarding before. I've had cold hands surfing in the middle of winter. I've even had my hands get cold washing them in the sink before the water heats up, but nothing has ever been even close to as painful as this. I make it home only to find that I'm now locked out. I have to bang on the door with my handcicles to get Becky to open it up. To her credit, she didn't expect me home from my ride so soon and was upstairs.

Now this part surprised me a bit. I thought I was out of the woods when I finally got in the house, but oh, it got waaaay worse before it got better. As my hands start to warm up, they now feel like they're on fire from the inside out. Crazy. Only time helped. About a half hour later the numbness/burning/cold had worn off and only my pride was left damaged. No frostbite or black fingers thank goodness. Come to find out, it was 28 degrees with 15-20 mile an hour wind. Not a good day to try out new fingerless gloves.

Lesson learned; no matter how excited I am, check the weather and plan accordingly. Also, just because it's "spring" and the sun is shining, doesn't mean that it ain't bitterly cold out. The good news is that for a brief time, the new bike performed well. A more thorough report to come, once I get it out on a respectable ride. Stay turned.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


The New Bike is Finally in my Garage.
Sorry to have left you hanging until now about the bike purchase. It took all day on Saturday, then we had plans Saturday night, and then Sunday I had plans to go surfing all day. So not only have I not had time to blog about the bike purchase. I haven't had time to even ride it since I got it home. Anyway, here's the story.

After much shopping and deliberating, the purchase was made and I'm now the proud owner of my first road bike. The lucky cycle is a 2009 GT Series 4. A nice entry level bike with a carbon fork and Shimano Sora component group. I have to hand it to GT for making an entry level bike that doesn't scream "I'm a slow, newbie!". Certainly that's true, and people are going to find out soon enough, but I'd like to be the bearer of that news, not the look of my bike.

So, Saturday morning, Becky and I headed up to Simple Living Cycles up in Boston. I decided to check this place out was because my brother Clint had a good experience there and got a great deal on his road bike. I had talked to the owner Phil, on the phone a few times, he was sure that he had a couple bikes that would fit me and would be in my price range so the trip seemed worth it. When we got there it was pretty much as I expected. A hole in the wall bike shop, packed to the gills with bikes, parts and who knows what else that had accumulated over years of Phil's unique organizational style. Luckily, I'm not OCD in the slightest so it didn't bother me, I was here for a bike not a lesson on clean living so he put some pedals on a few and I started the test driving.

First up was the GT series 4. Immediately I loved it, but I didn't want to make any rash decisions as my comparison point at this time was a 30 year old Lotus. I moved onto a Jamis, nice but I wasn't in love. Next, I tried a GT series 3, a step up components wise from the series 4 and it was good but I couldn't really tell a difference. One nice thing about being new is that I haven't yet developed that curse of only loving the most expensive, highest end stuff. I'm sure that'll come, as it seems to with any hobby, but for now, I'm enjoying the bliss of being happy with almost anything produced in this decade.

The Series 4 is a sweet matte black with bright green accents, while the Series 3 is royal blue. I know having Tiagra parts versus Sora is a step up, but I couldn't tell the difference, plus Phil was telling me why spend the extra money. Hilarious. The owner of the shop telling me that for an entry level bike, because it isn't my dream bike and it will be upgraded from eventually no matter what parts it's got, I might as well save the money and go with the cheaper bike. Who does that in retail? I'm not complaining, just a funny observation. At the end of the day, I went with his advice and got the Series 4. Now it was on to finding the perfect size. I went back and forth riding the large then the XL, trying to determine which would be a better fit. It was very hard to tell the difference. Again, being new to cycling, finding the tiny nuances between sizes was tough. The good news, was that I wasn't uncomfortable on either, and eventually settled on the larger frame. I'm six feet tall, and the XL I was told is equivalent to a 58cm bike, and it felt comfortable, end of story. Oh, did I mention that this happens to be the exact same bike that my little brother bought about a month ago. He's about my size (yes, a smidge taller) and is loving the XL, has put a few hundred miles on it, and had no complaints. I'd be lying if I didn't say that made the purchase a lot easier. So to be fair, if you see us riding together, yes, he had it first, I'm the copy cat.

About to leave with the new purchase.

Here are some more pictures to enjoy. I hope to get in a "sizable" ride after work today, so I can give you a good review of the new whip. So excited...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tomorrow, tomorrow...

The Big Day is Finally Here

Tomorrow, I'm heading up to Boston to my brother's local bike shop and I'm praying that the bike shopping will end there. I'm so excited, yet at the same time, it'll be hard to move on from the Lotus. We have a bond now, I feel a little guilty; like I'm trading her in for a younger, hotter model. Which I clearly am, but she knew this day would come, so we'll all move on, even if it ain't easy. Stay tuned for the celebration, pictures and stuff. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Best Ride Ever

I know that's not saying much, but oh well.

I'll be honest, I had my doubts as I'm sure you did, but good prevailed, and I broke into double digits today. Wait for it...

13.81 miles!

I know, I know, hold your applause. Seriously though, it was fun and I'm glad that things are moving along. It started a bit rough. I was getting the Lotus ready for the ride and decided to try and "fix" the mystery, automatic shifting. Long story short, I got rid of the annoying unexpected shifting, and the only side effect to my fiddling, was that I could now only use 2 gears. On top of that, I was a bit worried that what I had just done, would come violently undone mid-ride. So I did what any true cyclist would do, I found a jacket with zipper pockets, stuffed in the socket wrench and pliers and zipped up. Out of the flame, into the fire, oh well. Mental note, work on bike mechanic skills.

Also, as I was about to take off, I thought to put a little air in the tires. I wanted everything to be perfect for this ride, so a few pumps of the hand pump couldn't hurt right? Wrong. I went to put the pump on the front tire and you know how when you put on a pump, it starts to hiss a bit, then you clamp it on, the hissing stops and you start pumping. Well, it was like a slow motion bad dream; the hissing started, I tried to clamp the pump on, hissing still continuing, now it's clamped on but still letting out air. Now I'm freaking out 'cause I know all the hard fought air is spewing out of these stupid, skinny tires and I'm struggling to get the pump un-clamped. I finally do, but the damage was done. In a matter of seconds my front tire was flat as a pancake. You'd think I would've made buying a floor pump a priority after last time I had to pump these dang things with the hand pump, but I didn't. It wasn't pretty, but I got air back in the tires and off I went.

Potential 10 Mile Ride Executioners:
  1. My "fixing" of the gears
  2. Crazy wind
  3. A ridiculous amount of glass on the side of the road (who knew)
  4. The UPS man
  5. My parachute like jacket full of tools
  6. The whole 'not a cyclist' thing
Things Going Way
  1. Plenty of time before dark
  2. Fairly warm
  3. Pure, dumb, stubbornness
As I got under way, I was punched in the face with pure evil known as wind. I didn't realize how much wind could make me hurt. It made the flats seem like a hill and with my new limited choice of gears, that was not cool. A little pain, OK, we'll manage and keep moving. At about this point, I have to make a diversion into the middle of the road to get around a UPS truck, parked, making a delivery. No sooner am I past it, it pulls back out and passes me. No problem. However, about 5 houses down, you guessed it. He pulls over, parks to deliver another package and forces me into the middle of the road again. Now, this wouldn't be worth mentioning unless, oh ya, I get around him again, he passes me again, and this time, about 10 houses down, he pulls over for another delivery. Leap frog with a UPS truck...awesome. At this point, although it was annoying/dangerous wobbling into the middle of the road every few houses on this busy, main road, I kinda wanted to keep this thing going. It didn't. We parted ways, and the ride continued.

Now, my jacket was great for holding tools, the pockets zippered shut, thus being a reliable way to carry my stuff without fear of losing it, plus it wasn't black like last night, so I was feeling good about that too. The only thing I failed to take into account, was how much material this particular jacket was made out of. I was basically wearing a weighed down sail which the wind loved to whip around. Mental note, don't wear ill fitting garb while trying to ride a bike.

I was past the point where I turned around yesterday and felt like I was finally warming up. The rest of the ride continued uneventfully, sans a few spastic attempts to avoid broken glass and the ensuing stressful, hesitant, doubt filled wondering if you popped a tire or if things were still good. No flats today, made it back home, no problem.

Unlike yesterday, today, google pedometer made me swell with pride when I mapped out the ride and found that I had made it to the ten mile mark and in fact almost went 14 miles. I know, no cyclist would be proud of a 13 mile ride but you're at noncyclist.com so you gotta deal with it.

Ahhh, to be a novice. Everything is fun and new and different, gotta love it.

Double Digits today I promise.

Leaving the house now.

Plenty of daylight, warm enough for shorts... it's gonna happen. I know what you're thinking, "Does he realize double digits is a really, really, really long way from triple digits?". The answer unfortunately is yes.

Baby steps, my friends, baby steps.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mission (almost) Accomplished

Double Digit Ride Eludes Me

Totally bummed. I did get a ride in but the world conspired against me breaking into the double digits. Unfortunately, I didn't get home from work until 6:41. I knew that I was running out of daylight quick, so I planned my pit stop as I drove home. I would run upstairs, change into my "biking" clothes, pull hamburgers out of the freezer for dinner, tie on my Nike's, check over the Lotus and hit the road. All went according to plan. Also, it was warm enough today to forgo the french rolled wind pants and replace them with some comfy gym shorts. Also, I haven't gotten around to cleaning Becky's snowboarding gloves, plus it was a bit warm for them so, I grabbed a pair of her teal stretchy under gloves, yes teal, and off I went.

About a mile in, the sun had already disappeared beyond the horizon but things were actually going pretty good. I was getting used to dealing with the Herbie the Love bug unexpected gear shifts, I wasn't freezing and besides the teal gloves, I thought I was looking the part much more, having ditched the wind pants.

Today felt like I was actually riding a bike. I'm not in shape yet, my legs are weak and my lungs not where they need to be, but I felt faster, if only in my mind. I continued past my normal turn around points, so I knew no matter what, this would be my longest ride to date.

Dusk was not my friend at this point. I should have turned around but I found myself on a downhill. Turns out, going fast is fun. I couldn't force myself to turn around although, I keep thinking that when I do finally turn around, all this downhill will devilishly change into a long gradual uphill. Oh well, I'm free as a bird, the wind is flowing through my hair, well my helmet I guess, but you get the point, I was having a moment.

All good things come to an end, and soon the downhill ended and I turned around.


I'm an idiot. My temporary high was obviously and unsurprisingly shattered as I looked up the hill and the road home. No point in dilly dallying, lets get on with it. I messed with the gears enough to find one that didn't shift up on it's own immediately, and started cranking. It was decidedly not as fun as coming down the hill but in the end, I'd say it was worth it. I made it back up to the flats and continued home. It was waaaaaaay darker than I would've liked by the time I got home and I was seriously doubting my choice of black jacket and grey shorts, but there I was, safe and sound.

You probably guessed that I don't yet have a bike computer. Not surprising as I don't yet have a bike, but I mention it because at this point I was really hoping that I made ten miles. I knew that I went longer than the six mile ride and the glorious downhill followed by the tedious uphill, felt like it took awhile. Alas, Google Pedometer doesn't lie. When I got home and checked, it turns out that I only went a measly 7.85 miles. Further than 6 but way short of 10. Oh well, there's always tomorrow and I least I got out for a ride.

On a side note, do the ridiculously weak, post ride legs, improve with training? Stepping off the bike when I was done, it was like I had never walked before. If I had to bend over to pick up a quarter, I'm not sure if I could've gotten back up. As I walked up the two stairs in my garage to get into my house, I had to steady myself. I hope this 'little old lady, post ride leg syndrome' doesn't happen after every ride. We'll see.

Lastly, thanks for the interest. I don't know how you all are finding me, but I'm flattered that you're checking out the blog. Bookmark it and keep checking back. As the rides get longer, I'm sure the shenanigans will ensure.

Double Digits?

Me? More than 10 miles? Good Luck.

I'm planning on getting in a double digit ride when I get home from work today. It's sunny and beautiful and the Lotus is dying to go further than a couple of miles. I'll keep you posted... assuming I survive.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Twin Six Rules

If you haven't bought anything from them, DO IT...do it NOW!

Twin Six is a small cycling wear design company and they are awesome. They're a four man operation on the cutting edge of good design not to mention they are extremely generous. Check out FatCyclist.com or TwinSix.com and you'll start to get an understanding of their level of greatness. They are constantly giving away their profits in the name of charity. They design cycling clothes that actually look good. Plus, they provide ridiculously good customer service, which isn't easy to do when you only have four people taking care of everything, i.e. designing, dealing with vendors, dealing with customers, answering the phones/email and all the other stuff you have to do to keep a business running. I just bought the Team Fatty Jersey Bundle and I can't wait till it comes in. Like I said, they are awesome, so check out their site. You'll be sure to find something you like whether you're a cyclist or not, so buy it!

I know what you're thinking, "Did he really just buy cycling clothes before he bought a bicycle?" and the answer is, Yes. Crazy? Maybe, but like I said, these guys design really good stuff, plus 40% of my order gets donated to the LiveSTRONG foundation, PLUS, it's a pre-order, so this stuff won't be shipped until June. I promise I'll own a bike by then.

159 days to go and still no bike

But the Big Purchase might be next Sat.

So my quest for a road bike is (hopefully) coming to an end soon. I took two bikes for test drives this weekend, a Trek 2.1 and a Felt F85 and they are both great bikes. I like the braking power of the Felt a little more, but besides that they were both leaps and bounds better than the classic loaner I'm riding right now. Before I make my purchase however, I've got to check out my younger brother's bike shop up in Boston. Supposedly they have good bikes and great deals so next Saturday I'm going to check it out. I've talked to the owner and he has a GT road bike for me to check out and also a Jamis, so we'll see. Very exciting.

I'm thinking that with only 159 days until race day, it's probably pretty important to buy a bike sooner, rather than later. The test drives this weekend really wet my appetite. I was amazed at how well these new bikes perform compared to the old Lotus. I mean I knew that it would be a significant improvement but it was literally like driving a Ferrari vs. a Kia. I can't wait to get on a real steed and step up the training. Last night, over cigars and bourbon (like I said, I'm not in training mode quite yet), my friend Todd and I were planning a 60 mile training ride from our houses to the shore to be completed this summer, should be fun, I'll keep you posted.

Also, a big shout out to Fatty at Fat Cylist. He is one of the reasons that I'm doing this undertaking and today is the day he finds out if he won a Bloggie Award for his website. Keep your fingers crossed and check out his site. The latest I heard is that Team Fatty has raised over $140,000 and still going strong...simply impressive. Also, our Fatty team in Philly was the first of the four Fatty teams to hit our goal of 125 team members, so way to go, fellow Fatty Philly fanatics. It's for a great cause that affects us all so donate if you can, it's much appreciated. I received my shipment of LiveSTRONG bracelets today, so anyone who donates gets a bracelet. Once you have confirmation of your donation, just shoot me an email and I'll get a bracelet out to you ASAP.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

94 Miles to Go

The longest six miles ever.

Got home from work tonight determined to get the bike on the road. Now that's its light out until 7pm or so, the whole 'can't bike cause it's dark' excuse is gone, so I got home, changed and headed out. When I say changed, yes, I'm still french rolling my wind pants however, I did upgrade from gardening gloves to snowboarding gloves hoping that my hands would thank me later.

The bike seemed in good shape even though the last time I had it out we were drudging through snow. Still no floor pump so I was glad that the tires hadn't lost any pressure. I threw on my helmet and hit the road. I was planning just a short little down and back on a route I normally run in the summer. I admit I picked this particular route because it has two distinct turn around points. If I was really dying there is a place to turn around that would complete a 3 mile loop, if I was feeling OK, I'd continue on to the other turn around point, which would make it a 6 mile loop. I can hear you...yes, 3 or 6 miles it doesn't matter, they are both embarrassingly pathetic distances. Well, I don't care, leave me alone, I'm new.

As I was pulling out of our neighborhood, I could see Becky's car coming down the hill. She slowed and rolled down the window as I was about to pass. "You look good." she said. Ya right, but isn't she sweet. I told her the plan and took off.

A few notes about biking in 33 degree weather...NOT FUN. Matter of fact I was miserable in a matter of moments. The gloves were better for now, but I haven't been training outside (OK I haven't been training inside either) so my lungs were pretty pissed at me for inhaling this frigid air in mass quantities. Also, my nose was apparently pretty PO'ed as well, evidenced by the unbelievable amount of snot it started spewing out. Really, who knew you could produce soooo much snot in such a short period of time. I guess it's time to admit that I was actually wearing Becky's snowboarding gloves and yes, after today, they definitely need to be washed, a.k.a. de-snotted (sorry Beck, I'll clean 'em don't worry).

At this point I'm at the first turnaround point, and as you may have guessed by the title of this post, I manned up and didn't turn around. Not sure you can call 6 miles versus 3 miles "manning up" but again, leave me alone.

Besides giving me a healthy respect for the sport, riding a vintage cycle has also taught me to pay attention to what I'm doing. I'm starting to find out that the Lotus likes to keep me on my toes by shifting gears whenever it feels like. It's a bit like Herbie the Love bug, right when everything seems to be going fine as I'm "climbing" up a very small hill, the bike shifts into the lowest gear. And by lowest gear, I mean the one that is hardest to pedal, if I got that backwards please correct me. The longer I rode, I started to discover that the bike would give me one or two warning "pings" before it actually clanked into a different gear, so if I was quick enough I could catch it.

Now I've made it to the halfway point, I've turned and headed for home. Down and back rides are like down and back runs, I love knowing that I'm on my way home and that every step or crank gets me closer to done.

By now, the snot is out of control, my left thumb is refusing to feel anything, and I'm starting to feel like I just devoured a huge milkshake in 30 seconds. I was getting an ice-cream head ache like never before. The wind was whipping through my obnoxiously vented helmet, and was freezing my noggin. Mental note, wear a hat under the helmet in such conditions. I'm sure you already knew that, and no, I didn't figure that one out without experiencing it. Oh well.

I made it the rest of the way home and was happy to seek refuge in the warmth of the garage. All in all though, not a bad ride. I breathed hard, my heart rate was up, (albeit for a short time), and I used my legs, so it's a (small) win in my book. Like I said, 94 miles to go, but I'll keep cranking.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More about Me.

Not that you wanted more, but you got it.

So it occurred to me that at some point, it's possible that more than just my two brothers (and my wife when forced) will read this blog. Sooooo, if you are interested enough to read some posts, than you may be interested enough to want to know a little bit more about me. Very egotistical I know, but I'm already writing about myself to no one in particular, so I figure you might as well go all out.

First things first, I'm Clay. Nice to meet you. While I now reside in Connecticut and have for some time now, I was actually born in Iowa. Loved Iowa, still have family there and love to visit, but the East Coast is now home for sure. My parents were great about getting us out to do "New Englandy" stuff when we were kids so living near NYC, Boston, the beach (RI not CT), etc is now a must for me.

As you already have figured out, I have 2 brothers, one older, Chad, and one younger, Clint. Contrary to common beliefs, I liked being the middle child and we get along great. After this century ride experiment I may harbor some ill will towards those who conned me(not really) into this, but I'll take it like a man and bury it somewhere deep down inside(also, not really).

I got married last summer, and yes, married life is good, thanks for asking. My wife Becky, is a 3rd grade teacher God bless her, and she loves it. She's wanted to be a teacher her whole life. My 3rd grade teacher was the semi-terrifying Ms. Atkins, who always lost her glasses on her own head and had leather-esk skin due to decades of waaay too much sun, so the kids that get Becky don't know how good they got it. (Sorry if you ever read this Ms. Atkins, but you know it's true)

For some reason I am very prone to trying new things and having a ton of hobbies. I played soccer, lacrosse and swam until college when I finally settled on just swimming. I love to surf, snowboard, run, and it's been a while but I was very passionate about rock climbing for years. While I love to do stuff, it is sometimes hard to get my butt off the couch so I've found that I need an event sometimes to get me motivated. This century ride isn't the first time that I've agreed to do something I really have no business agreeing to. A couple years ago a friend signed up to run a half marathon and I agreed to run it as well. I hoped that with the race looming at the end of the summer maybe I would get out and exercise once and a while. I didn't train quite enough and I struggled a bit in the Virginia sun, but I finished and a new hobby was born. Now I do the VA Beach Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon and the ING Greater Hartford Half marathon every year. This year I entered the lottery for the NYC marathon but I'm not sure if I am dying to get picked or terrified of getting picked.

Cycling is obviously new for me, but I like the challenge that it presents. Learning a whole new way to train, getting to know a whole different group of good people, and riding with my brothers, all in the name of a good cause is very cool to me. Being brand new/terrible at something is humbling, kinda fun, and exciting because the potential to improve is so great. I'm open to any and all help, tips or tricks that would make me into a better cyclist. I know that now and until I really know what I'm doing, I'll be "that guy" while cycling, but I hope to learn the right way to ride, i.e. etiquette, form, rules of the road etc., so I'm not "that guy" forever.

That's enough for now, if I'm tired of writing about myself, you are definitely tired of reading about me. Thanks for the interest and I hope you follow along,. If you can donate in the name of cancer research and survivorship please do.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spinning the aftermath

My butt hurts.

I know, I know, what a wimp, but seriously, as I plopped my behind in my car this morning I was a little surprised at how...ahem, tender my derriere was. I'm not a frat pledge, and it's not rush, so I know I didn't get the paddle last night. It had to be that damn stand up, sit down hour of spinning last night. I know what your thinking, a real bike saddle is about 10 times smaller and harder than a plush spinning seat, so yes, I know how much trouble I'm in when I finally get a real bike and start loggin some real miles. My only excuse/justification is that up to this point I've never spend any real time on a bike. I've been told that the more time I spend on the bike the more caloused my butt cheeks will get, so that's something to look forward to. I guess I'll spring for the bike shorts with chamois.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Spinning is not Cycling

I know it doesn't count, but I did break a sweat.

Since I still don't own a bike, and the last two outdoor excursions on my loaner were less than impressive, it didn't take much persuading to get me to try a spinning class. If you've been following along, you know that I have no shame and I clearly understand that I'm in no way a real cyclist at this point. Hence, noncyclist.com. All of you $2000+ bike riding, leg shaving, chamois wearing riders out there would never be caught dead in a spinning class I'm sure, but in the vain of working out, and in making a little progress everyday, I met my wife Becky at the gym today after work to get our spin on.

I do run 3 or 4 times a week during the summer but I like to call the winter my "off season". It hearkens back to my glory days of competitive sports and helps me mentally justify not working out for a few months. The only downside to that wonderfully relaxing time off, is that getting back into workout mode come spring time can be a bit of a bear. This spinning class is the first real workout I've done since Thanksgiving time last year, and may not have been a good choice for my triumphant return to the land of heart pounding, lung burning and lactic acid.

I was surrounded by women who Becky described as "regulars" and from the moment we started "spinning" our wheels I was living to regret my hasty agreement to this torture. Some of these girls had clip-in pedals just for this class. I was out of shape, new to the "sport" but full of stubborn male pride and idiot ego. My first mistake was not understanding the resistance knob. If you've never spun before, (and if you're a real cyclist reading this blog to quietly laugh at me while feeling better about yourself, you probably haven't) there is a little knob that gets twisted to either increase or decrease resistance at the dictator's, uhh... I mean instructors, demand. Apparently, I started class without zeroing out my resistance, meaning turning it all the way counterclockwise till it stops, to properly set it to no resistance. Because of this minor oversight, about 5 minutes into the "warm-up" my legs were burning and I was huffing, while all the chicks around me were chatting it up and laughing about their day. Not sure how I was going to make it through an hour of this sweaty hell, I swallowed some pride and tried to casually say to my wife without anyone hearing, that she was right and this was a legit work out, tougher than I thought. She looked at me a little confused and I knew I must be doing something wrong. She politely laughed and told me about the zeroing resistance business. With my "bike" not working against me anymore, things got better but not for long.

The instructor clearly relished in distributing pain. He was yelling, sprint, increase resistance, stand up, sit down, increase cadence, blah blah blah, for an hour. I was pouring sweat, my legs turned to jello filled with lava, and I think my lungs forgot how to process oxygen. I did, however, manage to keep up (for the most part) with the regulars. I doubt I looked good doing it but that's neither here nor there. After a proper cool down my legs pretty much worked again and I was able to shuffle to the locker room. After all of this, my beautiful, bubbling wife said how disappointed she was that I came to that particular class 'cause it was soooooo easy, the music sucked and the instructor wasn't that good.

I think I'll leave the spinning to her and just get my butt out on the road.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

"Ride" Number Two

You can't call it a training ride.

Well, as expected the weather made a turn towards warmth and I decided it was a good day to get back on the horse. Having made it three miles once before, my confidence was high, and along with my wife, we headed out to the Cheshire bike path for a nice Saturday ride.

Now, I suspect that no real cyclist would be caught dead on a bike path but the wife wanted to come along and I'm admittedly a noncyclist so I figure the bike path stigma is the least of my worries at this point. After some minor frustration I figured out how the trunk bike rack was supposed to attach to the car and started loading up the bikes. My loaner's tires were a bit low so I grabbed my pump and got to work. All of you real cyclists already know what I learned today...hand pumps are for emergency use only. Pumping up those skinny little tires up to 65 psi with that stupid little pump was ridiculous. My arms were on fire, sweat was beading on my forehead, and the whole time I'm thinking how nice it would be to own a floor pump right about now. Finally, I had enough air in the tires to get by, so I finished putting them on the car and Becky and I took off.

As mentioned before in this blog, I don't yet own any proper biking gear, so I'm decked out again in my wind pants and under armour jacket but today I didn't tuck in my pant leg. Instead I decided to try french rolling the leg of my wind pants. Anyone born after 1975 should know what I mean when I say french rolling your pants, and if you don't, rent Ferris Bueller's Day Off and you'll know. I thought it would look a little less ridiculous than tucking in my pant leg, but at the end of the day I don't think it worked. Anyway, we get rolling and things are going well. I'm feeling a little less like the town drunk on wheels and I'm even getting the shifting thing down. The sun is shining, it's warm, I look outrageous, but I'm having a blast.

Besides learning about the benefits of a floor pump, I also learned that your hands need to be in shape to ride a road bike. We were probably about 4 or 5 miles into our little ride when I noticed that my hands were a little crampy. The way you have to grip the handlebar is a little awkward and different and now the palms of my hands are starting to burn a little. I'm assuming that the more I ride, the more my hands will get used to this kind of abuse. So now as I'm shaking my hands out, I notice that the crowd has thinned a lot and up ahead I no longer see the nice black asphalt. For some reason, the black path gives way to a sea of white. It turns out they only plow a portion of this lovely bike path. There were footprints and a few bike tracks, but for the most part, the once clear and dry path was now covered with about 1-3 inches of melting slushy snow. Now granted I'm new to this whole road bike thing, but even I know that these little half inch wide tires are not meant to navigate through inches of melting snow. Luckily, Becky was on her mountain bike and had a little easier time driving through the snow, but it wasn't helping her stay dry. We were both now soaked where the sun don't shine by our icy cold rooster tails yet we plowed, literally, forward. We made it another few miles until the misery really started to sink in. At this point the only thing to do was laugh. I didn't have it in me to give up, but thankfully Becky did. At the next intersection we got off of the "path" and on the town roads back to the car.

We were pruned in places that I didn't know could get pruned, but we made it back to the car unscathed and headed home. On a bike shopping note, we stopped at Cheshire Cycle on the way home and found those guys to be very helpful. I'm getting closer to making a purchase so that's exciting.

I know this excursion still doesn't even resemble a real training ride, but at this point everything is a step in the right direction so I'm on my way.
Custom Search
Nitro-Pak Preparedness Center