Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tank 335 - 30 October 2K12 (Plus an Update on The Resolution to Ride My Bike for More Time Than I Spend Commuting To and From Work In My Car)

So yesterday I put more gas in the Mighty Corolla, from the Sheetz store near my home (not as near as the Fas Mart, but I was near that Sheetz at the time). I had driven 391.4 miles and put in 10.866 gallons, so mileage was an uninspiring 36.02 mpg.

The notable thing about this tank was that it had been 16 days since I last refueled. 16 days is the longest stretch of time between tanks since August of 2008, over four years ago. In fact, there have been three other days where I had gone longer between tanks of gas, and those were back-surgery related or Thanksgiving-holiday-related, so this is quite a compelling statistic.

Or it was probably just because I skipped three days of work, two of which were related to the office being closed due to Hurricane Sandy.

Still...

On a more serious note, I did something I'm not sure I am proud of doing last week. I had read of people doing this before and rolled my eyes at such puerile behavior and wondered why anyone would do such a thing. But clearly time has worn me down and last week I did it. After much consideration, and looking at my work calendar and seeing a half-day full of sexual harassment prevention training and nothing else urgent, I fell and did it.

I called in (well, texted a message in) sick and rode my bike instead. And then I ate lunch by myself and watched The Avengers movie at an unreasonably loud volume. It was great and now that I have experienced such a day I wonder why it took me so long to do such a thing. I was all by myself with the kids at school and my wife at her office. It was super. Three hours and 50 miles of fun bike riding and a movie. Overall a great day.

And then on Sunday, on Hurricane Sandy eve, I had another opportunity for a good ride, and I went out for almost two hours as two kids were at youth group. Thanks to those rides, neither of which was really expected a week before, and thanks to two days off of commuting due to the hurricane, I made some great advancement upon my goal of riding my bike for more time than I spend commuting to and from work in my car.

The chart above included my trip to work today, but not my trip home. However, I plan on a healthy wellness ride of about 50 minutes this afternoon, and my commute home should be less than that, so it's very likely that I'll end Octiber about 18.5 hours short of my goal.

This is good for me, because Entering October I was about 30 hours short and needed to chip away at the gap by about 10 hours a month in order to catch myself. So I got more than 11 hours closer this month as we go into the "holiday season."

So it's looking like I should be able to stick to my resolution and meet this goal. It's a lot of bike riding. I've ridden that bugger almost 4,000 miles so far this year, for almost 11 days straight.

Monday, October 22, 2012

I Donated Blood and Then Rode My Bike - Like the Opposite of Blood Doping!

So on Friday I went to the vampires at the Red Cross and donated a pint of blood. It's a good thing to do, you know, altruism and helping your fellow man and such, but "mainly I do it for the snacks."

And also I like joking about how they instruct me to double up on my drinking.

The average person has, I think, about six pints of blood pumping around in the body, so losing a pint has notable effects right after it's over. If you stand up too fast, you might "swoon" and get dizzy and light headed for longer than you'd expect. Luckily, I have donated blood a number of times (because like I said, I like getting the snacks) so I don't normally experience this any more.

So my body probably went right to work replacing the lost blood, but it must take a while, because the Red Cross will only accept my donations once every 8 weeks. So I supposed there would be some sort of effect on my bicycling the day after. And since I am keeping painstaking track of my bicycle riding this year, on account of my resolution to ride my bike for more time than I spend commuting to and from work in my car, I think I am able to say with some degree of confidence that the loss of one pint of blood had a negative effect on my bicycling ability.

I woke up Saturday morning with a plan to ride for about an hour, since the family had plans to drive to the National Park and do some hiking for the rest of the day. I ended up going on a similar route from my house to the bike path behind the dump to the neighborhood behind the church and back home, close to 17 miles.

My average speed for this trip was 16.6 miles per hour. On other rides of similar distance and routes, my average speeds were in the 17.0 and 17.2 average (about three percent slower). Not that I'm bragging, it's just that this general route isn't very hilly so it's not too rough.

Anyway, this day after donating a pint of blood, I found myself breathing extra heavy, extra early in my ride. About 1 mile and a half into the route, there's a gentle incline that's normally no trouble. But on this day, I was sucking wind and I could feel my heart beating extra hard and extra fast. As I was huffing and puffing, I was also happy to be experiencing this interesting feeling of weak feebleness. In my mind, I knew I shouldn't have been feeling so tired and worn out so early in a ride, and that this experinece was probably due to my body running on about 5/6 of the normal load of red blood cells.

So my perceived effort to maintain any speed was quite high as I continued on my ride. And 64 minutes later I got back home and went on with the day.

Too bad I didn't go on a bike ride on Friday afternoon, right after I donated that pint of blood. I wonder how I would have done. Maybe next time...

Interestingly, I also went for a long ride yesterday afternoon, which would be two days after donating the blood. I mowed the lawn (which took an hour walking behind the self-propelled mower) and then rode for about two and a quarter hours, and that ride was more than 36 miles and the average speed was 17.3. So I tentatively am concluding that losing a pint of blood has a short term negative effect on exercise ability for about a day. Although, looking back at my previous recent rides of around 36 miles, my average speeds have been 16.6,17.7, and 18.0 average speeds, and under various weather and road conditions.

And finally, on the Resolution Front, you can see from my graphic here that I am just about 23 and a half hours behind on my goal. I think I gained about two hours over the weekend, keeping pace on my plan and I hope to end the month with a deficit of around 20 hours. November and December will see fewer commuting days, so that and the anticipated more bike riding as a result ought to keep me on track to achieve my goal.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Interesting Fact: I Left for Work at the Same Time Each Day This Week

So far this week, I have gotten into my car and turned it on to get to work at 6:02 a.m. each day. And on at least two of these days, the clock in the car has turned to 6:03 a.m. before I got out of reverse to move forward on my street, which is notable because my driveway is only about 2.5 cars long.

Commute times to work so far this week: 28 minutes, 27 minutes, 28 minutes. In fact, the last eight trips to the office have been either 27 or 28 minutes. So that's consistent...

I've also made an appointment to donate blood on Friday morning just before lunch.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tank 334 - 14 October 2K12 (Plus an Update on Keeping My 2012 New Year's resolution)

I knew I was going to fill up the gas tank this morning, and also knew I'd probably feel pinched for time this morning on my way to work, so I refueled last night on my way home from "church meeting" instead.

The mighty Corolla had gone 404.4 miles and I put in 10.803 gallons, making for mileage of 37.43 miles per gallon. I thought I would have use more gas, but the pump at the Fas Mart shut off the second time at just 10.803 gallons.

It was eleven days between tanks. Six of the last eight tanks have had at least ten days between them. There has not been another period of time with such a length of time between so many tanks. One day in 2008 there was 26 days between tanks, but I suspect that was when I had my back surgery and didn't go anywhere for a couple three weeks.

I was happily able to ride my bike for three days in a row from Friday through Sunday, for a total of about 82.5 miles in a little under 5 hours. Currently, in my quest to ride my bike for more time than I spend commuting to and from work in my car, I am about 25 and a quarter hours short. I don't recall (because I haven't kept the data, although I should) what the magic number was last week, but I think it was like 28 hours or so. So progress is being made.

25 hours to catch up and 11 weekends left in the year, so quick math seems to indicate I need to catch up a little more than two hours every week inorder to achieve this goal. Of those 11 weeks, only four of them are currently scheduled for a full five-day workweek. This bodes well for my chances and ease of which to the extent of my ease and ability to achieve my goal, just as I anticipated back when I crafted this resolution and plan last year. "Achievable but difficult," I believe I assessed last year at this time.

Over the last couple of weeks, my lovely wife had shown irritation at my continued dedication to riding my bike in order to stay on track with this plan. But after a few talks, she is resolved (get it? She's resolved because I'm working towards achieving my resolution!) and resigned herself that I am determined to not be denied success.

To that end, she suggested that I drop the kids off at yourh group yesterday afternoon, and ride my bike for that two hour window of time. That was really a sweet deal for me, because I didn't wake up early to ride before church, and my ride was longer than it would have been had I done that. So I got to "sleep in" and also "ride longer." A couple more weekends of that and it'll be a landslide victory for the bike riding.

This week I have a four-day workweek and am off Friday. My wife made lunch plans with a friend on Friday, so you know what I'll be doing...

Yes, I hope to make an appointment to donate blood. After a good bike ride, of course!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Four Day Weekend = Lots Of Bike Riding!

So I had four consecutive days off work in a row, back to back. And the kids were in school on Friday, and my lovely wife wanted to "gym it up," so I had a glorious window of opportunity for a long ride on Friday.

I went like 52 miles in like 3 hours and 20 minutes. It was totally fun and fantastic, and the weather cooperated and I felt totally triumphant when I was done. I saw Belvedere Plantation, the Courthouse, and lots of back roads in the area to complete my route. And I ate a large barbecue sandwich for lunch that day.

I also managed two other good rides over the weekend, too, which helped chip away at my deficit and now as of this moment I'm less than 27 hours away from meeting my goal of riding my bike for longer than I spend commuting to and from work in my car this year.

Of course, not every weekend can have a three-hour ride, so I happily share this story.

Also of course, my wife reminded me that she can spend lots of time in the gym, too, but that doesn't count. I can't see how a hot, muggy, stinky gym can be anywhere near a fun as riding a bike out in the fresh air and scenery.

The leaves are starting to turn, so I hope to bring along my camera one day snd snap a picture of a great fall tree for RANTWICK in the hopes of winning his throwdown. But as with most things, participating is enough.

Looking forward to a good week at work- 4 days, hopefully 2 days with "healthy wellness rides" to balance those days commutes, so a weekend with a couple/three hours ought to at least maintain pace with the resolution goal, and probably chip away a little more.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Exchange I Had With Menu-Delivering Guy As He Tried To Stick A Menu On My Mailbox At My Home Yesterday

Me: Thank you for this menu. Mama's Restaurant, I will never give you my business.

Guy: Huh? What do you mean?

Me: I mean, I hate people like you who stick menus on mailboxes. I'm pretty sure it's illegal...

Guy: I was going to put it in your newspaperbox.

Me (looking up and down the street at all the menus he put on mailboxes): Yeah, if you'd actually mailed it, I might have looked at it. People like you have run into my mailbox before while trying to put menus and crap illegally on it.

Guy: I've never hit your mailbox.

Me: No, but people like you have done it before. I've had to replace this mailbox because of people like you who have hit it. So I promise you I'll never go to Mama's restaurant, ever.

Guy: You keep a list or something?

Me: Yes, I do. I also will never go to Pho Saigon, either.

Guy: What's your problem?

Me: My problem is people like you who do crap like this. I don't like it and I want you to tell your boss that he has lost a customer forever because of this unwanted solicitation.

Guy (starting to drive off): Whatever, man.... KISS MY ASS!

Me: YOU'D LIKE THAT, I BET!

Guy: YOU'RE PROBABLY VOTING FOR OBAMA, TOO!



And that is how I was defeated by menu guy's superior wit and intellect.

Tank 333 - 2 October 2K12 (CaROLLin'!)

This morning I strapped the bike rack to the trunk of the mighty Corolla and strapped two bicycles onto it. Then I drove to work. But first, I got more gasoline at the Fas Mart near my home. The low fuel light turned on yesterday at 373.3 miles, I refueled at 396.3 miles with 11.222 gallons, making for a fuel economy number of 35.31 mpg. Not too good, really, but in my defense, I had a lot of little around-town trips over the last ten days.

Yes, I went ten days between fill-ups, this was the second tank in a row with ten days between them, and I've averaged 9.6 days between tanks since the office move in August (and that included several days where I drove back to the old building for shutdown activities, so it was like driving there for the day). For comparison, all this year at the old building, I refueled on average every 8.6 days, so in the last six weeks I've added a day to that line. So that's pretty good.

Last year at this time, I had spent $1,183 on gas. This year, it's $1,253, but I've driven about 500 more miles. Gas has averaged about fifteen cents more per gallon this year than last year...

So today I arrived at the new office with two biked on the back of my car. One of them I will ride for my healthy wellness exercise time this aftgernoon. The other I will lend to my friend (and coworker) Ed who lives about three miles away from the new office. He has a mountain bike and has ridden it to the office a few times, and has decided that it's just too slow. And since he knows I have an extra bike, he asked to borrow it to see if it'd be much faster.

So I was enthusiastic to assist in this manner. The old Yellow Bike is a little small for me, but should be fine for Ed, and I am looking forward to his report after riding it for a bit.

I've ridden my bike to his house (well, NEAR his house, I don't want to be "crazy stalker guy" who rides up and down his street waiting for a glimpse of him peeping out the window checking for me...) on a road bike, and some sections of the paved road shoulder have areas of rocks and gravel, which are a little challenging for skinny tires, so I'm interested to see what Ed says.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I'm Not Sure If I'm Going to Make It (I also stole this picture from io9.com) (Call me "Leathertaint!")

So over the last couple of weeks I've been noticing strange feelings in my upper back, arms and legs. I think this all goes back to my back surgery I had about 4 years ago, where the doctor showed me an x-ray of my back (or more likely it was MRI images) and said "see those discs there at the bottom? How they're all grey and crackled looking? And see those discs there in your neck that look like that, too? Yeah, those are all bad. They'll be causing you problems in about 15 years, so I'll see you back here when they go. And also, your spinal cord is about a third of the width of a normal person's spine, so good luck with that, too."

After my surgery was all healed, I felt great! I had no pain or discomfort in my legs or back, and I walked without a limp for the first time in years. Now here we are today, and I am noticing that when I lie down flat on my back on the sofa or a bed, both my feet feel like they're just waking up from "being asleep." Not the pins and needle feelings, but the fuzziness, like a small buzz or a little tiny massage all over the soles of my feet and up my right calf a little.

And my upper right shoulder blade sometimes feels like a pinch is going on that needs to be stretched out.

So I'm thinking, is it my discs getting all broken down again? Am I freaking out because of the seed of uncertainty the doctor planted those years ago?

Now, when I 'm riding my bike, I generally don't feel any of this discomfort. Indeed, the only discomfort I feel is in my crotchal region because I sometimes don't have my shorts adjusted properly, or maybe it's my saddle is too high/not adjusted properly/not right for me, but I can manage that sort of affliction with various creams and lotions and such. But more likely I'll tough it out and let the blisters scab over and become tough, and thus earn myself the nickname "Leathertaint." But I digress...

So when I ride, I feel good. When I stop, my feet and lower legs have this odd but not painful buzzy feeling, and sometimes my shoulders feel pinches and minor spurts of momentary irritation. Is it because my riding makes these things happen later on, or is it my deteriorating back region is starting to flare up again? Because this is sort of how it felt when it all started-- in 1997 I was a runner. I ran and ran. Then I ran a marathon, and from that day forward my hamstring always felt tight.

The tightness remained until the fateful day when I went to bend over to pick up the hose in the yard (I made a post about it but probably won't ever link back to it) and blew out the disc. Then I limped, literally, everywhere and just kind of managed with the inconvenience for a long time before I couldn't take it and got the surgery. And all was well. But now I'm feeling these things again and I fear it's just like the years after I ran the marathon: will this weekend be the time when I move that bag of mulch and blow out another disc?

And the biggest fear I have is not that it's going to happen, it's that it might happen before the end of this year and I won't be able to complete my goal/resolution to ride my bike for longer than I commute in my car, because I'm still 31 hours behind (as of today)!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Chipping Away at Destiny (or the less dramatic: Getting closer to meeting my New year's Resolution)

The attached chart is current as of today. Prior to driving to work, I ended the third quarter of the year 29.68 hours short of my goal of riding my bicycle for more time than I spend commuting to and from work in my car.

Although it seems like a lot to make up, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to average ten hours more on the bike than commuting in the car for each of the next three months, because of I'll tell you why: LONG WEEKENDS AND HOLIDAYS.

Oh, and also because apparently I've done it before. But there's a caveat, or a reservation if you will, because in September I spent about seven and a half hours riding in a century ride, and it's probable that I won't be lucky enough to do that again before the end of the year.

Still, on September 1 I was 43 hours short, and here on October 1 I'm less than 30 hours short. Taking out the 7.5 hours of century ride, I made up only about 6 hours against the deficit. September was 17 working days, and October will be 16 working days, November will be 15 working days, and December will be about 14 or 15 days as well. So it'll be a close challenge to meet, and I think I'll make it.

Plus, the parks & rec soccer season is finishing up in the next week, so I'll be able to go out Saturday mornings again for more than just a couple of hours. All signs are pointing in a positive direction, I hope I just didn't jinx it!