Thursday, February 28

Monthly Mileage: February Flop

Ah, yes, this month has dragged on. And I haven't been blogging as hot and heavy as in the past. Nor have I been riding as much. In short...I slack.

For February I managed 186.6 miles. My biggest ride was the 70 mile out and back from Stanton to Owingsville. It was surprising and heartening.

Since 2008 I've only had one February with fewer miles. My overall February average is 202. I'm not too much lower than the average.

My overall yearly average so far is 153.6. That could be better.

Hopefully the weather will improve and we can start eating up the miles.

Monday, February 25

Still Biking Past BP

Today begins the civil trial against BP regarding the 2010 gulf disaster. While I don't really believe BP is any more evil than other oil companies, I do feel that what they allowed to happen is unforgiveable.

Right now, this morning, I'm not prepared to churn out a long tirade. Suffice it to say I'll be following the trial eagerly awaiting the outcome.

Sunday, February 24

Reaffirmance - A Metric Century Redemption

Last time I rode more than 50 miles was over Thanksgiving when I tried out the Allez and did the (Red River) Gorge loop for a 60 mile shakedown ride. Since then I've managed a few 30-40 milers, but nothing too long.

I'd been sick all week. I started out last Saturday overly cold and woke up Sunday with a fever. By Monday morning I'd hit 103ยบ with no sign of my fever breaking. It did go down by bedtime, and I went back to work on Tuesday, though I shouldn't have.

I was still weak all week. Thursday I could tell I was on the mend, but still not 100%. Friday I felt significantly better, but still not 100%. I texted Jeff and said I'd ride Saturday, but that I might hold him back. I also suggested a 60 mile ride from Stanton to Owingsville and he was game.

By Saturday morning I was looking forward to the ride, but still not sure how I was going to fare. And I'd also remembered that my 60 mile route was contingent on a seasonal creek crossing short cut. If not for that the shortest possible out and back was closer to 70 miles. That just seemed like a haul in my weakened condition.

Jeff met me in Stanton after a 10 mile approach, and we headed off. I wasn't moving fast, but we kept a steady pace. I lagged up Cane Creek Mountain, but that was the most significant climb on the route. We dropped down into the land of 3G and were soon looking at the creek crossing. No dice!

"Well, we don't have to go all the way to Owingsville," I said. And we pedalled on.

Blevins Grocery, Preston

We traversed Science Ridge, cut over to Stulltown Road and on to Preston. That area is some of my favorite riding anywhere and it was easy to keep going deeper into a bigger and bigger ride. I knew I was writing a huge check that I wasn't sure I could cash. On we went.

The climb into town from the south was a long slog. Its not too long or too steep, but it's still a good haul. We rolled on through town and to the cemetery where we checked out the grave of A.D. Ruff. Then we pedalled back into town and back down the big hill.


Both of us decided it made sense to stop and get some lunch. The choice is Dairy Queen or Subway. Jeff, a vegetarian, suggested we go to DQ for fries. I knew I'd eat something stupid there so I suggested Subway and he finally agreed. It was good to sit down, fill our bellies with something warm, and then head back out on the road somewhat refreshed. It definitely felt colder back out on the bike after being inside, but the sun had finally cracked through the gray shroud of the sky and that helped to lift our spirits.

As we pedalled toward Preston I could tell my legs weren't snapping back. They felt hollow. I wasn't bonking, just losing the ability to fight anaerobically. I didn't think too much about it for awhile, but after it was obvious the sandwich hadn't recharged my guns I decided to stop and eat a Clif Bar and a gel.

On we plodded toward Jeffersonville. Jeff suggested that his wife could come get us there if need be, but by the time we got there we had just enough time to ride back and not enough time to wait for SAG (I had to be back to town by 3:00). We opted to take busier 213 instead of taking the longer Cane Creek route. It was good because that got us back to Stanton with two minutes to spare despite a slog over Morris Creek Mountain. Its still not as steep as Cane Creek. The farther we went the more and more empty my legs felt. No amount of food or water could stave off the fatigue.

I'm stoked I did 70 miles with so little preparation. I did more than a metric century and last evening i felt pretty darn good except for being drained, but I don't think that was necessarily because of the bike ride. I wasn't stiff or sore at least.

Jeff ended up riding back home and ticked a full century. He hadn't planned on going that far, and kudos to him for pulling it off!

Today Mandy and Jeff's wife and Mandy's dad rode the Gorge loop. Mandy had never ridden it before and she enjoyed it. She walked some of Sky Bridge Hill but we all insisted that was okay because not many people ride it all the way the first time.
 
Jeff and I worked on the mountain bike trail on his property while the kids played in the woods. Of course my son was the one to fall off a boulder. He's fine though. Made him walk it off. It felt good to do some work and not sit around and get sore and stiff today. I'm out of shape though. Swinging a rogue hoe for a few hours can really take it out of you if the heaviest thing you're used to lifting on a regular basis are paper maps.

So I struggled to knock out a 70 mile ride. I feel good for having done it, and it's a good confidence boost toward my Mohican and Leadville bids. Still got a lot of work to do, but I'm on my way.

Friday, February 22

Who Wants to Ride Tomorrow?

The plan is to ride from Rosslyn to Owingsville to AD Ruff's grave and back in the morning. Road ride. As fast a pace as I can manage while getting over this funk. Leaving around 9:00am, hoping to get to Owingsville by 11:00 and back by 1:00. It would be a little more than a 15mph pace. If I feel good then maybe faster.

Who's in?



Thursday, February 21

Healing and Ducks

Finding myself in the job I have now is like waking up one morning after a long illness and realizing I’m well and that my head is clear, I have energy, and I feel like going out an conquering the world. If I ever have the audacity to complain about it, please barrage me with tongue lashings in the comments field. Email me hate mail. Pedal past my house and shout obscenities.

I’m learning that I’ve stepped onto a political stage though. I’m just below state level government, so there’s a lot of talk of the specifics of legislature, of legislators in general, and in many of their idiosyncrasies. I must take extreme care to be an observer on the sidelines until I have a much fuller understanding of the playing field. This is new to me. But I think I can swing with the big boys given time. In fact, I know I can.

Not where I work
It’s sort of surreal to have moved so far, to have progressed so far, but to have landed on a stage with the same old background I was used to for so long. And my memories of Colorado float to the top of the chaos sometimes and I can still see it all so clearly. It’s almost like I could get on my bike and ride up North Table Mountain on my way in to work. Except...my prairie bike commute would be considerably longer. Those five years totally reshaped my perspective of the world. That was what I was looking for in making such a big move in the first place, and we accomplished that and then some. All four of us are drastically different people for having made the transitions we made. I hope we can always benefit from the experiences we’ve had.
I apologize for the inconsistencies on the blog. I’m still trying to get settled in. I’m freaking out about the Mohican—ignoring the Leadville elephant in the room for now—and focusing on work, on finding my true place in the machine, and in trying to get my family into a permanent living arrangement.
We’ve made some concessions. It is possible that instead of living close to my job as I’d affirmed originally, we may try to partner up with some friends on a homestead venture in the rural county we came from. Land is just cheaper there than in horse country. Lexington is an oddity in that it is cheaper to live in the city, even in nicer neighborhoods, than it is to live out in the countryside. Horse farms distort property values it seems
We’ve made no firm decisions in this arena just yet. But talks are ongoing.
Like I said, I’ve been sick, so there’s not been much riding going on. And it’s still the season of mud here, so there’s not a lot of viable mountain biking to be had, at least, not of much length. The only endurance activities I’ve been involved in are marathon Duck Dynasty sessions on the couch. Ouch!

Was pleasantly surprised to find this in Frankfort yesterday
 

Wednesday, February 20

Hundreds of Reasons

It's been awhile, I know. I apologize. I was sick all weekend and woke up Monday with an even higher fever of 103. I'm on the mend, but weak as a kitten. And my lovely wife set up a bike ride for me on Saturday. Hope it doesn't kill me.

Weighed myself two nights ago. Well, I had on my cycling bucket list to ride a double century. I've managed a double century, just not on the bike. And that was after a pretty active, if sickly, weekend. Man, that's the kind of combination that just rips the pounds off! And I gained... That is going to change. I'm getting serious about keeping track of my calories and I'm going to stick with it. I've got to.

The Mohican is 100 days away. I've not been riding enough! I'm so far down in my training it hurts. I did good riding on my lunch breaks until I ended up sick. This week I've not ridden at all. Got to wrassle that horse down, get back on, and kick the spurs to 'er. If I feel better tomorrow I'll ride at lunch. Maybe knock down a moderate ride on Friday, and then really sock the miles out come the weekend. That's the plan.

I was participating in a 100 pushup challenge at work, but that fell apart due to a combination of laziness, sickness, and pathetickness.

There are some exciting developments on the horizon. I'm doing what I can to further the cause of cycling in my home state. And that's just the icing.

Tuesday, February 12

A Cure for What Ails Us

Traffic is a problem. Everywhere you go local officials want to expand existing roads or build new ones. In my new job I’ve seen this first-hand. There is little talk beyond expanding our landscape treatments of more and more concrete and asphalt.
Why is this a big issue? Well, for starters, cost. The more hard travel surface we have on the ground the more of our annual budgets get eroded away to fill potholes, resurface existing roads and study how to decrease what seems like (because it is) insurmountable congestion problems.
Let me drop the curtain by rephrasing my initial statement:
Population is a problem. Traffic is a symptom. In 1974, the year I was born, the US population was 213k. Today there are 315k souls living in the United States and we gain one new person every 15 seconds. Today there are just over 4 million miles of roads in the US. I can't find a hard number for the miles of roads in the US in 1974, but it might be interesting to compare population growth to the growth of our transportation network.
I’m going to run these (very) rough numbers to give you a little perspective. In 1974 there were 56 people per square mile in the US. Imagine the square mile around where you lived in 1974. 56 other people lived there. Now, in today’s world there are 88 people per square mile. If my atrocious math skills have not betrayed me that means that there are 57% more people in my neighborhood than there were when I was born. There are 32 more people sharing the local roads with me just in the square mile adjacent to my home than there were 39 years ago. Almost one new person per year. Maybe.
Anyway, regardless of the validity of my numbers, you get the picture. We can all see that there are just more and more people out there clogging up the arterials of our lives. Road rage is how we react to our transportational agoraphobia. We are being robbed of years of our lives while we sit stuck in traffic on the Man O War Boulevards of our respective home cities.
What are the solutions? Well, we can all see, with painful clarity, that building wider or newer roads does not solve the problem of population. Yes, this post is truly about population and not traffic. Remember, traffic is the symptom. More is not better, but unless we build more there is no room for the growing demand for roads.
There are two options to cure the symptom of traffic. First, we can reduce the demand for space on the roads. We can do this be encouraging walking, biking, carpooling, mass transit, supplying our needs from local sources and by condensing our lives. By condensing our lives I mean choosing to live, work, play and worship in a smaller geographic area. We must stop driving so far for every little need in our lives.
The second option is simple in concept but not so simple in practice: reduce the population.
 I see two possibilities. We can either allow nature to take its course, which means once we critically exceed the Earth’s carry capacity there will be a system (societal, environmental, financial) collapse followed by a massive die-off of the human population, or we can power down—as Richard Heinberg implores us to do in his book of the same name—and save ourselves from catastrophe. I’m not sure we still even have the second option.
No one wants to look at our symptomatic problems through this lens. Traffic could be solved by a die-off? Well, sure. Do we instigate said die-off through transportation planning? Definitely not. But perhaps we should be addressing our illness more holistically and look to the source of our malady instead of always trying to ease the symptoms.
Hubbert’s Curve changes drastically if exponential population growth takes a nose-dive. If the demand drops off to nothing then the graphic showing humanity’s supply of crude oil gets redrawn.
We should NOT hasten a collapse, but we should be cognizant and accepting of the fact that in the shadow of a crisis there can still be a silver lining. If things take a downturn, if nature starts culling the herd…well then, we won’t have as much traffic to deal with on the roads. Bicycle-pedestrian level of service will increase dramatically. At that point we won’t have to dedicate so much of our “budgets” to maintaining roads and aging bridges.
Please don’t take my tone as facetious or tongue-in-cheek more so than necessary. In no way am I suggesting euthanasia as a viable transportation planning tool. But I think in context we should begin coming up with solutions to transportation (population) problems that include reducing the number of people on the roads. If that means giving people reasons and options not to drive then we should strongly pursue those options.
What kinds of solutions would I propose? Truncated work weeks. Incentives and options to live close to places of employment. More options for alternate modes of transportation, especially in rural and suburban areas. More support and encouragement for businesses, schools and services to adopt broad telecommuting programs.
In this day and age of high speed internet and smaller and more powerful mobile devices is there really a deep need for each person to travel singularly in order to participate in the economy? If more of us could work from home then we could reduce a lot of our congestion and traffic symptoms and we could also look to building our own resilience by dedicating more time and money into building up our personal lives and spaces.
 

Sunday, February 10

Chainring Family Outing

This afternoon I got a text from Jeff:
Hey chris "chainring", you and mandy riding?
I knew I needed a rest. I'd ridden pretty hard four days in a row. I had no intentions of riding today. Mandy's dad had talked about riding, and I felt bad to have stolen his boyfriend (Jeff).

I replied:
I don't think so today. Toms out somewhere though
I thought maybe Jeff could find Tom and ride with him. I'd make double amends.

He responded:
Caseys going out. Is mandy interested?
Casey is Jeff's wife. I suspect that Casey may not have known she was riding until Jeff invited Mandy to go with her. He seems conniving enough to pull that off.

The wind had been blowing and not 30 seconds before the text exchange started Mandy said she wasn't going to ride. I read her the last text.

"Yeah," she said. I chuckled. Irony gets the best of you every time.

We loaded up the Giant and Dogrunner and drove out to their place. Jeff had offered to let me bring my bike up to his place for a cleaning. We're still packed up and homeless so it's been hard to maintain the bikes.

Mandy and Casey headed out and Jeff and I "watched" the kids and talked shop. We got the Allez all shiny and he showed us his indoor skate park and the MTB trail they're cutting through the woods behind their house.

Jeff and Casey live in an area that has some mandatory climbing. They can't just take off on an easy ride. Mandy's not done much of the local steep climbs. I was sort of concerned on her behalf, but she was game.

They headed out on one of Casey's normal loops, a 25 mile ride that began with some grinding rollers to a long flat section followed by an ascent of High Rock. Mandy kept apologizing--afraid she'd be slowing Casey down--but in the end they did the loop in a respectable time.

I probably shouldn't share this without her okay, but Mandy ended up walking a little on the steepest of the steep, but there's no shame in that. Pedaling around on this Pottsville Escarpment you've got to build up to the climbs. They're short, but they're steep.

Right out of Rogers Chapel there's a mile long climb with a 6.5% average. It has some distinctly steep cruxes. Then High Rock from South Fork is 1.9 miles with 522 feet of gain, an overall lesser grade, but it has some stoutly steep and thankfully short sections.

They'd been out for awhile when the rain began. I wondered if I should go run sweep, but didn't want to presume the girls would want to be bailed out. They came trudging up the drive shortly thereafter with grins on their faces, having only been rained on the last mile or so.

All in all we had a good day hanging out. I'm proud of Mandy for tackling such an ambitious loop. Those ridgetop rollers on Furnace Mountain are deceptive.

After attempting Cobhill yesterday I was in no shape to ride today, so I was content to just hang out with Jeff while Mandy and Casey rode.

Jeff has signed up for the Mohican too, so we've got the same loose screws in common.




Saturday, February 9

Dog Census

I sat in the road at Furnace waiting on Jeff. The sun was nice. I could hear birds chirping in the chill air, and, in the distance, dogs barking. I contemplated doing a census of the dogs in Powell County. I could create a GIS shapefile and populated it with attributes like "Aggressive" or "Vicious", "Fast" or "Slow." My dog census would be beneficial primarily to cyclists. I don't know that there's much the knowledge would help, but I like classifying knowledge and sharing it. It's the GIS geek in me.

I'd climbed up Furnace Mountain and ran the dog gauntlet to meet Jeff to loop out and give Cobhill a go. Go dog go!

Cobhill. Such an innocuous name. I sat on the cold pavement in the sun wondering now many dogs per mile (DPM) live along 213. I didn't think about Cobhill. I was only slightly suffering from PDSD (post-dogmatic stress disorder). I had most recently been welcomed into Estill County by a particularly vicious (aspiring to be anyway) collie. I was so jumpy by the time I reached Furnace I'd jump on the pedals if a bird flitted through my peripheral vision.

I've not come up with a good nickname for the Allez before today. Sitting in the sun at Furnace I looked at the bike where it leaned against a road sign and said: "I dub thee 'Dogrunner.'"

Jeff showed and we headed out toward our destiny...ation for the day.

Cobhill is 0.8 miles with 560 ft of gain. It has an average of 13+%. I'm pretty sure there are sections that exceed 20%.

At the bottom I stopped to knead some warm(er) blood into my toes. Then we headed into the sky.
I rode more than halfway before I blew up. Jeff went on. I rode for a bit and then got off the bike a second time. Then I got back on and cranked ever so slowly to the top where I collapsed in the driveway of an abandoned old ridgetop homestead.

As we rode out toward Cobhill Jeff said all you want to do after riding it is "puppy pedal" home. Yeah, at the top of the climb I knew exactly what he meant. I was ready to be done, but I had about 15 miles to go to return to my car.

Back through the dog gauntlet, back down Furnace (might not have been the smartest thing to warm up for Cobhill on the 0.75 mile, 600 foot Furnace climb) and back to the car.

In the end of the morning I'd ridden 31 miles and had wracked my quads into submission. I'd already planned an even more heinous training riding involving two more steep climbs. But that's a story for another day.

Looking down Cobhill


Friday, February 8

I Can't Drive 55

My regular readers should remember that not so long ago I commuted by bike about 20 miles a day five days a week. Oh boy, have things changed! Now I commute by car about 90 miles a day five days a week.

Time, expense, environmental impact...I've taken a 180 degree turn. Oh, we bought a second car. We had to. I hate to say it, but you can't be idealistic when the landscape is turned against you. Just ask my wife.

I've been spending around $100 a week on gas. That hurts. To offset the impact I've been sticking to 65mph on the highway. Gump just guzzles the dinosaur juice above 65. I'd go slower, but with a 70 mph speed limit I'd get run over on the four lane roads.

The new car is a 2001 Camry. It gets better mpg than Gump. And Mandy will have her beloved Forester back. This morning's commute went much faster, as Gump hits 3,000 rpms at just under 65 mph and the Camry at 75 mph. Not sure why Gump is geared so low. He's a good little mule though. Dependable and tough.

Anyway, I've been consistently driving 65 in a 70 mph zone. I'll probably up it to 70 (the posted speed limit). I've found it's easier to go slow than I'd previously thought, but lets be realistic.

The bane of my commute is Man O War Blvd. My morning commute goes like this: 18 miles on the four lane Mountain Parkway. Then I drive about 20 miles on six lane I-64/75. Then I get on Man O War. It's maybe 5 miles from the interstate to my office. It takes about the same time to drive those last five miles as it does to drive the previous twenty.

Man O War is an order of magnitude worse in the afternoons. I can't begin to express how ridiculously low the level of service is (LOS) on MOW at the evening rush.

My overall perspective has changed significantly though. Traffic is less personal and more cultural, more dependent on planning and engineering. I didn't see that when we left Kentucky five years ago. Traffic was the other punk drivers on the road. Now I see it differently.

Got to run to the bike shop for Tom. He's having a rear MTB wheel worked on. Man, that thing is heavy! Like a wooden wagon wheel heavy. Got to see about getting him some lighter wheels!

Thursday, February 7

Friends Don't Let Friends...

Something had to be done. I've been getting fat. With this five-o'clock-dark stupidity I haven't been able to squeeze in many workouts. I've managed to run a little--quick aside, last week my nearly ten year old son ran his first non-stop mile and loved it--and I joined a 100 push-up challenge at work. But I've not managed to curb my eating and I'm getting little significant exercise.

So I took Minus to work. Instead of eating lunch I'll be riding my lunches. The only way I can focus my diet on performance is if I'm riding. The only way I can be riding is if I'm taking advantage of my hour long lunches.

For whatever reason I can only tame my wretched diet is to be actively "training." I'm not at a level now where running really feels like training. I'm doing two miles at a jog. I want to be doing more, but I'm also cognizant of the potential for bodily harm if I push it too fast.

It's too muddy right now, but once it dries out (or freezes hard again) I'll subject The One to the indignity of being hauled on Gump and I'll ply Veteran's Park. (In Lexington, if you mention being a cyclist, the first thing people ask is either "Have you ridden the Legacy Trail?" or "Have you been to Veteran's Park?" Legacy is a new MUP and Veteran's has professionally designed mountain bike trails.)

In the meantime I'll start getting to know (again) the mean streets of Lexington. It's a bronze level bicycle friendly city (LAB) but it believe me, it's got a long way to go to be a truly bicycle friendly city.

Yesterday I did a 13 mile ride scouting my way over to Veteran's. I made it in 20 minutes and round trip was 56 minutes with a couple of misdirected detours. It felt good. Managed a 15 mph average through suburbia.


Today I bettered my standings on the squire bike path segment:



Leadville is in August, but the Mohican is screaming up fast. That bike ain't gonna pedal itself.

Wednesday, February 6

Your Friendly Neighborhood Transportation Planner

First off, I guess I should share that I received an email from the folks in Leadville letting me know its official. I'm in for 2013. But we knew that. After I raced Lance I got that gold coin that let me know I was in. Solid.

I'm an honest-to-dawg transportation planner these days. What began with an interview where I felt I was sacrificing my own freedom of mode choice to help others have more of that freedom has resolved into a position where my initiative and creativity is encouraged and supported.

I'm going to be working on Bike Month, Bike-to-Work Week/Day activities and events and I've been admonished by our executive director to work on a regional bike map after I shared some city bike maps with my coworkers. Where my interviewers were skeptical that I could practically commute by bike I've opened up some dialogue toward getting more corporate bike/ped amenities. And realistically I can bike commute many days once we actually live in Lexington.

There is also talk of a collaboration with other local transportation professionals to draft a regional bike/ped plan. And I've discovered that part of my position's scope of work includes bike/ped planning services to the local governments in our district not covered by the Lexington Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (LAMPO).

Truth is there is a lot of focus on the SOV in this state. Dang near a cult of the car. Worshipping the Baals of trucking and happy motoring. That's got to change. And I think it is changing. Slowly. I'm in the perfect position to work the scene, play the game, learn the ropes, and rub the right elbows.

For the past three years this is exactly where I wanted to be, professionally speaking. I worried that I was getting in over my head, but I've found I don't mind swimming in deep water quite so much


Tuesday, February 5

Back in Black Hawk

In this day and age of technological fantastica news travels fast. Yesterday the Colorado Supreme Court overturned the Black Hawk Bicycle Ban!

You’ll remember that at the request of a legislator friend the Cannonball and I (and some others) stormed the state capitol and testified before a committee regarding a bill to prevent any future repeats of said ban. That proposed bill died in committee, but though the battle was lost, the war has been won (for now).

It’s good. I’m glad the ban was overturned. Of course these days mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Kentucky Century Challenge, so I’m not so concerned about where you can and cannot ride your bike in Colorado.

What is this challenge you may ask? Well, it’s simple.

The Redbud Ride in London, Kentucky. The Horsey Hundred in Georgetown. The Preservation Pedal in Frankfort. The Old Kentucky Home Tour in Louisville (Loo-uh-vul for my Colorado friends). These are four organized rides around the state each with a 100 mile option. The Kentucky Century Challenge is met if you ride three of the four 100 mile rides. If you meet said throw down you receive a jersey. Pretty sweet.

Okay, I’m not so good at math, but let’s tally this up:

​0 miles Can’t make the Redbud Ride

​100 miles Horsey Hundred

100 miles Mohican​

100 miles Preservation Pedal ​

100 miles Leadville​

100 miles Old Kentucky Home Tour​
___________________________________

​500 miles


Previously in life I’ve ridden two centuries: Triple Bypass Tour and my Corona Pass ride. I think five centuries in one calendar year is significant. Can I do it? Well, if my friend Matt can pull off three in a week after recovering from his injuries (before relapsing) then I can spread out five over five months. We're not even counting training rides at this point either...hmmm.

Anyway, the ban has been overturned and that was a good thing. Black Hawk’s ban had nothing to do with safety or concern for cyclists and everything to do with discrimination and hatred. I can’t prove that, but it’s not so hard to figure out.

Both the news of the ban and the info on the Kentucky Century Challenge come to you via my lovely SAG captain and touring partner, Mandy. 

One last thing of note, for my Kentucky friends, is the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) Transportation Survey. If you have a minute please take the time to complete the survey:

yourturn.transportation.ky.gov