Category Archives: General Updates

Weather the Weather

Lightning - another reason to have a carbon composite bike.

Living in Tulsa, I’ve discovered a simple truth about outdoor sports: there’s no avoiding the weather. Heat, humidity, random winds, unpredictable rain, freezing cold, and any combination thereof. When I first started to ride, if I saw it was going to be a 20 mph windy day, I’d stay inside. When the heat went above 100°, I’d stay inside. When the rain was threatening, I’d stay inside. I found that I was spending more time inside on my trainer and my weight bench than on the road. From reading online, I found this is a common mistake.

For a novice like myself, the weather seemed like a deal-breaker, something that should be avoided. Just wait for the nice, clear days with good temperatures and not too breezy… tomorrow will be better, or maybe the day after that. But if you do that – especially out here where 9 times out of 10 you’re dealing with at least one element of insane weather – you might as well give up going outside. Like most things in life, weather is a matter of perspective – how you view an issue will ultimately determine how you handle it. And so, I set about changing my view on the weather so that it became part of my training. Continue reading Weather the Weather

A New Bike State of Mind

After 1,400 miles in 5 months, I’ve discovered quite a bit about cycling, about myself, and about my bike.  Schools of thought range from thoroughly detailed scientific analysis, all the way down to the SUAR method – Shut Up And Ride.  I’m a detail oriented kinda guy, so I like to know as much about an activity as possible.  When I decided I’m getting serious with this cycling stuff, I knew that my trusty 2001 OCR3 just wasn’t gonna cut it.

It was time for a new bike.

My old bike: Giant 2001 OCR3

The OCR was – and still is – a great bike.  Solid, tough, relatively light for an aluminum frame, with Shimano Sora components that – though aged and sometimes finicky – still get the job done.  However, compared to what’s available today, it’s heavy, doesn’t shift smoothly, and transfers a lot of the bumps and ruts right into your arms and spine.  And it’s a medium-sized frame, which was always slightly small on me.  So I thought I’d just find a bike store, test ride some bikes, and go from there.  Little did I know that bikes are as complicated as computers – and often have far more parts.  Derailluers, shifters, brakes, cabling, frame, rims, tires, hubs, bottom brackets, crank sets, cassettes, handle bars, seat posts, saddles, spokes… the list goes on and on.  I couldn’t believe how many variables there were!  Worse, since I wasn’t really part of the bike scene until recently, I had zero clue about what components were good/bad, what made them good/bad, how they compared relative to other component manufacturers, etc.  But as I said, I’m detail oriented, so I busted out my computer and started digging for info.

Now, I’ll share my process for buying a road bike in the hope that this may help someone else considering moving out of the entry-level sets and into the mid-range systems.  But note: I’m not an expert, so take it as you will. Continue reading A New Bike State of Mind

9/25-26: The Mother Road Ride!

Me and my humble steed, morning of the ride.

We did it!  About 750 riders made the trek from Tulsa to Oklahoma city.  It’s hard to know where to begin this post – partly because there’s so much that happened, and partly because my brain is still a little fried from two days of riding. But I guess I’ll begin by saying thanks to all those that supported me and the cause, and to all those wonderful riders and volunteers who had the same goal this weekend – to fight MS! Continue reading 9/25-26: The Mother Road Ride!

9/6: Riding with my Father

On Friday (9/3) I found out my father, Bill, had some vacation time.  He would be off from Saturday through Wednesday.  I got to thinking that it would be nice to have the girls see their grandpa, so I worked a little magic, and found a cheap round trip flight leaving the next morning, and flying back Tuesday.  I’d say the timing worked out well since I was able to do the 50 mile MS Training Ride on Saturday morning, but if you read that post and saw how it went, it’s more likely the fates were simply setting me up and having a pretty good laugh. :-p

In any case, he arrived on time, with a decent flight out (minus the horrid, 2-hour security line at LAX).  Since the girls didn’t know he was coming, I left the house to “pick up dinner” (which I also did) and brought him home as well.  It was great watching how the kids flocked to him and hung all over him, especially after having not seen him in over 10 months.  Nice to know some bonds can’t be broken, even with a relatively long passage of time.

I borrowed my brother’s bike, and on Monday morning Bill and I took off on a short ride.  Minus the wind (which was blowing at a steady 15mph) it was a nice day out – only 85°, and humidity was below 40% for once – so I thought the temp was perfect for riding. Bill thought otherwise.  Turns out hot weather conditioning is a relative thing, as in my idea of hot is 100°+.  But my father and mother live in Ventura County, CA, where it rarely reaches the mid-70’s let alone 100.  He was suckin’ down water like an undergrad attacking beer at a kegger. Add to that the hills (we have some decent hills on the trails here, and Ventura is mostly flat along the shoreline), and an unfamiliar bike, and I believe the 18 miles we rode was more than enough to convince him that next time we ride together, I’ll need to fly out to Cali.

But, I was definitely glad to have him with me, and for my part – again, minus the wind – it was a nice relaxing ride.  Something my body needed after the beating I gave it on Saturday’s training. There was something else that was really great about this ride: I busted 1,000 miles for this year! With that ride, my total distance since May 4th, 2010 is 1,009.5 miles, a total of 66.3 hours, at an average of 15.2mph.

My father flew home today, and the rain’s rolling in, so I probably won’t get much riding in until the next MS training ride on Sunday. That’ll be a 60-miler.

As always, gotta’ keep on rollin’.

Camping Prep

And yes, the kids' toys are required tools for hard-core, long-distance cycling.

This won’t just be the first time I’ve done a charity event, it’ll also be the first time I’ve ever been camping.  Before we moved to Oklahoma, my parents gave us this six person tent my dad used for photography events (a portable changing room).  As it’s the only tent I have, it’ll no doubt look like a mansion compared to some of the one- and two-person tents I’ve seen.  From corner to corner it’s about 11′ 6″, dome shaped, about 6′ 6″ high in the middle.  The first time I set it up earlier in the summer, took me about an hour, and that was with Cam’s help.  A couple weeks ago I tried setting it up by myself for the first time, and I did it in about 35 minutes.  Today, it took me just over 20 minutes.  I’m hoping by next week I’ll have it down to about 10 minutes… this way, when I’ve come off the first day of riding it’ll only take me about an hour. :p

I’ve also purchased an ALPS Mountaineering Comfort Series Air Pad, and a Kelty Lunar 20 Degree CloudLoft Rectangular Sleeping Bag (thanks to Bill Cossaboom for the recommendations).  Throw in my small folding camp chair and table (also from the padres), a small lantern, pillow, my COWON S9, and my Droid X, and I’ve got all the comforts of home (minus late-night fridge access).

Two training rides this weekend, and I’m going to hit them both – 50 miles each.   Gotta keep rolling…

Info on Multiple Sclerosis

Some data and statistics about multiple sclerosis:

· First described in 1868 by Jean-Martin Charcot.

· Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision.

· The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another.

· MS is the most common progressive and disabling neurological condition in young adults.

· Approximately 2.5 milling people worldwide have MS.

· Approximately 400,000 people in the United States have MS.

· There are approximately 200 new cases diagnosed each week.

· The average age of onset is 30-33 years, but can occur in the early 20’s to late 50’s.

· Because of the varied symptoms of MS, the average time between clinical onset and diagnosis is 4-5 years.

· MS affects women much more frequently than men:  approximately 1.7-2 to 1 in the US.

· Multiple Sclerosis is five times more prevalent in temperate climates than in tropical climates.

· The risk of contracting Multiple Sclerosis if a first-degree relative (father, mother, sibling) has the disease, is approx 1% – 3% overall.

· The risk of contracting Multiple Sclerosis if your mother has the disease is approx. 1 in 50.

· The risk of contracting Multiple Sclerosis if your father has the disease is approx. 1 in 100.

· The risk among the general population of contracting Multiple Sclerosis is approx. 1 in 800.

If you would like to share your stories/experiences with MS, please e-mail me at xjiard@gmail.com.

The Story So Far…

I’ve always liked riding bikes, and I liked riding road bikes because of the speed and freedom they offered.  But I didn’t really get into it until my older brother, Willie, rode in the San Francisco to Los Angeles ride way back in 2001, I think (maybe 2000).  When he visited me after that ride, he was RIPPED!  Seven consecutive days and 600 miles of riding will do that to ya, I guess.  So, I went down to LA with my bro and bought a bike.

Since it was my first – and since I was still in college and semi-broke – I didn’t want to spend too much.  I ended up buying a 2001 Giant OCR3.  With bike, helmet, upgraded seat, gloves, water cages, and portable pump, I spent maybe $550.  Talk about your entry-level. 🙂  To those unfamiliar with the bike-world, you can easily spend $4-5k on a nice high-end bike.  In fact, I know people who have spent more money on their bikes than their cars.

But, it was a start.  I rode on occasion with my brother, and did some commuting and such – 5 miles here, 10 miles there, maybe 15-20 with Willie.  But nothing consistent, and nothing very far.  California has a massive biking community, but not a lot of dedicated trails.  And the drivers out there do not for a second believe you belong on the same road as they do.  How DARE we sully their asphalt with our eco-friendly obscenities?

In any case, it was a nice hobby, but not one I partook in often.  Sometimes I’d drive down to LA and me and Will would ride from his house in Culver to Venice, then play handball at the one wall in all of California, and bike back when done.  Great weekends.  Other times he’d drive up and bring his bike, and make me suffer as he flew up the Santa Barbara foothills.   But, I had other things that kept me busy – I was an avid computer gamer back then, and if I wasn’t gaming, I was working 100 hours a week at my programming job.  Biking – as with most sporting activities – is rough if you don’t do it consistently.

Fast forward about 10 years, and I find myself in Tulsa, OK (don’t ask; long story, semi-short post), still riding the same bike I started with.  It just so happened that my neighbor was coming home from a bike ride while we were playing with the kids in the vastness that we were learning to call the backyard.  NOTE:  a LOT of homes out here don’t have fences (as ours did not) and so our backyard faced the side of our neighbor Bruce’s house.  He waved hello, and we came across to talk for a bit.  Turns out he’s a cyclist with a local crew called Team Crude, and tells me there’s a whole bunch of bike paths to ride on.  Sounds great, but this is October, and we had just moved half-way across the country, so I file it under my “Someday” category.

Fast forward another 6 months (past the freezing rains, blizzards, microbursts, mesocyclones, ice storms, gail-force winds, etc.) to May, 2010.  Bruce has a flex schedule, where he sometimes works from home, allowing him the flexibility of fitting in a ride sometimes during the day.  It just so happened that my May schedule was wide open, so on May 4th, he introduced me to the local network of trails.  We did about 18 miles at a leisurely 12mph pace.  I couldn’t believe how close these trails were, and how excellently maintained!  Almost 100 miles of dedicated biking/jogging trails, with more planned.  I guess when you have enough land to build 4 Super-Walmarts and 2 Super-Targets in a 5 mile radius, you have a little extra room to build bike paths.  I couldn’t wait to get back out there after the first ride.

The next week and a half rained every day.  Ridiculous.  But, that’s Tulsa weather for you.  My next ride was on 5/15, just thought I’d ride out on a Saturday.  Right when I left I ran into a man named Tom, a neighbor in the development just south of ours.  He rides with a group called Team Superior, and told me about their Monday afternoon group rides.  So I said I’d meet him on Monday.  Did 25 miles on that Saturday, but I didn’t really feel it until I met up with Tom and neighbor of his named Mike.  These two have been riding a long time – to the point their calves look like braided steel cords.   But they were nice and didn’t leave me too far behind.  Met up with the rest of Team Superior, and did another 22 miles.  Man oh man was I feeling it after that ride.  The sedentary life of a programmer was seriously disagreeing with what I was telling my body to do.

After that, I continued riding with Bruce on the occasional Tuesdays/Thursdays and with Tom and Team Superior on their Monday rides.  Distances started to add up, and my pace got faster (Team Superior keeps a wicked-fast pace).  But then, summer hit in earnest.  Heat indices were pushing 100° daily, temps rarely dropping below high-80’s/low-90’s, and humidity that left concrete feeling soggy.  But, I slogged through it.  Got myself a 70oz Camelbak, two new water bottles, and kept pushing through.

It’s now been over three and a half months since I started riding again, and I’ve done 792 miles.  I’ve ridden a total of 53 hours, and my overall average speed is up to 15mph.  I recently hit a new high average speed at 17mph over 25 miles (and note:  I was STILL only in the middle-group with Team Superior).  And after lots of convincing from both Bruce and Tom, I decided it’s time to put all these miles to good use.

I read up on the 2010 Bike MS Ride that they were convincing me to do, and started to read more and more about Multiple Sclerosis.  The more I read, the more I felt this wasn’t just something I wanted to do, it’s something I have to do.  So, I signed up, and with the generous support of my family, friends, and clients, I’m almost 2/3rds of the way to my fundraising goal.

Tomorrow morning, I’m riding my first official MS Training Ride with Tom, which is slated for about 35 miles.

See ya on the other side.