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’.

9/4: MS Training Ride #3

It’s been one hell of a week, but was finally ready to jump back on the bike.  Haven’t ridden since the last training ride, and I was looking forward to today’s 50 miler. The temperature was 50° at 7:30 this morning, and I ain’t ashamed to admit my fingers were tingling from the cold as we set out.  But, I felt good, and was ready to put down a solid pace, and rolled out with the front-runners.

8 miles in, and *pop* my rear tire goes flat.  So, I pull off the road, and start fixing.  Tire comes off, pull the tube out, check for anything stuck in the tire (otherwise it may pop the second tube), load the new tube into the tire, and the tire back on the wheel.  My brother Willie gave me a CO2 pump for my birthday, so filling the tire was a breeze.  For those that don’t know – the CO2 pump is a small pump about the length of a fist, that you can put a small cartridge of compressed CO2, which rapidly inflates the tire to near standard inflation.  Takes only seconds. So, everything looks good, and I get back on the road.

Not half a mile down the street, *pop*!  I couldn’t @#$%ing believe it.  I pulled off, and this time turns out the inner-tube must have just been defective, because it split lengthwise along a seem.  At this point, I’m livid.  By the time I get this one replaced (I’m now down to no extra tubes) I’m the last rider out of perhaps 70.  Worse, I don’t really know where I’m going, and the yellow markers on the road aren’t always easy to see.  Funny thing, lats night I was considering lightening my load – removing some of the extra CO2 cartridges, maybe only carrying one spare, etc.  Thankfully, I decided that since I’m already used to the weight, doesn’t make much sense to go without… just in case.

After that was fixed, I started to haul.  Got to the first rest stop, waited a couple of minutes to rest my legs, and took off again.  Some pretty nasty hills on this ride, but handled them just fine (one had a lot of people walking up, so I felt good about that one).  Since I was essentially riding on my own today – given the large gaps in riders this far back, and since most of the riders this far back don’t set as fast of a pace as I do – I just kept pushing myself harder. I’d catch site of a group, and I’d keep pushing until I caught them.  I know it’s not a race, but I had to keep my mind on something and off the two back-to-back flats.

Google Map

At the second rest stop (about 30 miles in), I refilled the Camelbak, grabbed a couple of fig newtons, and kept rolling – maybe stood there for 5 minutes, tops.  By the time I finished the ride, I caught up to perhaps half the riders that were out today, so I felt pretty good, even though I was exhausted.

My father’s flying in from LAX today, so not sure if I’ll do tomorrow morning’s ride.  But if I do, you can bet your ass I’ll be bringing all my usual gear. 🙂

Total Distance: 49.3 mi
Moving Time: 2:56:51
Average Moving Speed: 16.7 mi/h
Max Speed: 28.7 mi/h
Min Elevation: 630 ft
Max Elevation: 935 ft
Elevation Gain: 1812 ft

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…

8/28: MS Training Ride #2

Gorgeous weather for riding!  Was barely 70 when we rolled out at 7:30AM.  The plan was to do about 40 miles, though my track says we only did about 38.5.  My bike said the same, so maybe we took a shortcut somewhere. 😉  At any rate, at first I started out with Tom and his friend Steve, keeping a nice, leisurely pace.  A gap opened up, and I ended up ahead of the group, tailing a larger and much faster group.  When I caught up with them (about 30 riders) their air pocket sucked me right in, and before I knew it we were flying at 22mph and I was barely doing a thing.

As the ride went on, I worked my way up the pack, eventually to the front where I could pull a little more, before we hit the rest stop.  I rested for about 10 minutes, waiting for Tom to arrive, since I heard he had some gearing problems.  Took off again with another group, setting down yet another killer pace.

Google Map

When the ride was done, I wolfed down a couple of hot dogs that the ride sponsor volunteers had cooked, packed up, and drove over to the Tulsa Zoo to meet up with my family and my friend Michael who’s visiting from New York.  Walking around a large zoo for a couple of hours after a 39 mile ride isn’t exactly what I’d call relaxing, but we still had a good time.

More miles on the tires, and four more weeks to go.

Total Distance: 38.5 mi
Moving Time: 2:11:47
Average Moving Speed: 17.5 mi/h
Max Speed: 33.4 mi/h
Min Elevation: 628 ft
Max Elevation: 887 ft
Elevation Gain: 1360 ft

8/26: Solo and Team Superior Ride

Team Superior has a Thursday ride along the Arkansas river, and I thought I’d join them this week for at least one leg of it.  Tom called and said he was going to take off from his house and just head west based on how he felt, but I left earlier, trying to meet up with the team.  The team starting point: 21 miles away.  So I already put in a good ride before I reached them.  Fortunately, I arrived early and was able to rest a bit before the team started.  I thought they’d be headed south along the ride (back the way I cam) but no, they headed north, so the ride was even longer than I thought it’d be.  The also came back down the west bank, which has a massive hill – thank god for very low gears.

Google Map

Ran into Tom just after breaking off from the team ride to head home, so we rode together the rest of the way, which is good because he sets a solid pace and it kept me from slacking on the ride home.

Total Distance: 45.8 mi
Moving Time: 2:54:59
Average Speed: 12.8 mi/h
Average Moving Speed: 15.7 mi/h
Max Speed: 33.0 mi/h
Min Elevation: 620 ft
Max Elevation: 773 ft
Elevation Gain: 1480 ft

8/23: Team Superior Liberty Trail Ride

Another ride with Team Superior – weather was a bit on the brutal side to start, heat index of 105° and sunny.  But as the sun went down, the temperature dropped quickly and the ride would’ve been more enjoyable at that point – had I not already been exhausted. 🙂

Kept a really fast pace (about 17.1 mi/h for the first 15 miles).   Had a bit of knee pain around the MCL, but seems to have faded off.   Next ride is Thursday, most likely.  Also received another donation, and I’m now at 70% of my goal!  Thanks for all those who’ve donated to this cause!

Total Distance: 30.0 mi
Total Time: 2:07:07
Moving Time: 1:48:42
Average Moving Speed: 16.5 mi/h
Max Speed: 28.1 mi/h
Min Elevation: 612 ft
Max Elevation: 826 ft
Elevation Gain: 1023 ft
Max Grade: 15 %
Min Grade: -12 %

Biking Zen – Finding the Middle Path

Zen Temple, Kamakura

Siddhattha Gotama – also known as the Buddha – described the middle path as the moderation between extremes.  Aristotle referred to this as the “golden mean”, the desirable middle between excess and deficiency.  For example, too much courage can lead to recklessness, too little to cowardice.  Finding balance in all things – be it work, play, food, sport, love, etc. – can lead to a very happy and healthy life (of course, I’m ignoring the über-rich folks for whom “balance” refers to splitting their travel time between limos, private jets and their Aston Martins).

When riding, there are many aspects where the middle path will serve you well. The more I focus on centering my state of mind as well as my body, the easier and more enjoyable I’ve found these long endurance rides to be.  Below are a some of the areas where applying the concept of the middle path has worked well. Continue reading Biking Zen – Finding the Middle Path

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.

8/21: MS Training Ride #1

This was my first training ride.  Good weather for it, not hot at all, not very humid (for once), and a decent breeze.  Tom picked me up at 6:40AM and we drove to the River West Festival area for the ride start.  When we got there, we met up with about 10-15 other Team Superior members, and about 10 minutes later, we were off.

Rest stop at Lake Sahoma; riders in black/green jerseys are Team Superior members.

When you ride in a large group, there’s certain dynamics that you don’t experience riding by yourself.  One of those is the envelope of air that comes when 30-odd people are bunched together moving at 20mph.  It feels like you barely need to pedal!  Though etiquette says you should adjust your cadence to match the pace-line.  It’s also a little unnerving not being able to see much of the road ahead of you.  Most of what you see is a wall of jerseys and spandex.  On a bike path it’s not too bad, but on the road, you never know crack might be there to ruin your ride.

Another thing I’ll have to get comfortable with is putting my trust in other riders.  When you’re drafting or in a large pace line, you’re pretty close to the bike(s) in front of you, and the bikes behind you are right there on your tail.  You have to keep a steady line – not weaving left or right – so that you don’t throw off the rider behind you, and my hands were twitchy wanting to be ready in case I had to slow down for the bike ahead of me.  Of course, if you start to slow down, the bike behind you might end up being the bike on top of you. :p  So it’s an interesting balance.

Had a rest stop about 15 miles in to the ride, sponsored by the Cox Cable team, at a place called Lake Sahoma.  Very pretty down there.  The second half of the ride contained some pretty good-sized hills, and I found myself using lower gears I haven’t used in some time.  All told, the ride felt pretty good.  Can’t wait to get out there again.

Click to See Map

Total Distance: 35.3 mi
Total Time: 2:35:29
Moving Time: 2:07:20
Average Moving Speed: 16.6 mi/h
Max Speed: 31.6 mi/h
Min Elevation: 587 ft
Max Elevation: 951 ft
Elevation Gain: 1374 ft
Max Grade: 9 %
Min Grade: -7 %

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.