Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bike safety innovations [Gear Wednesdays]

Safety is hard to come by on a bike. You're moving fast, and you're moving next to 4,000 pound hunks of metal. Even if all cautions are heeded, trouble can happen. A few new products in development/concept stages have caught my eye recently that seem like they could greatly improve bike/car relations.

Item 1: the Contrail

The concept is simple: wherever you ride you draw a line of chalk with your rear wheel. This has multiple benefits. Cyclists that follow behind you can see the safest path to follow. Also cars can see where bicyclist are riding to keep safe.

I can see this could be an interesting device, but I'm not conviced it would increase a rider's safety. If anything it seems to lend to kids drawing their names on the road, which doesn't seem safe at all. Not to mention that in the Pacific Northwest we tend to get a fair amount of rain and that would put quite a damper on all fun.

Item 2: the SpeedVest

This highly reflective vest displays your speed on you back. It'll read kilometers or miles per hour and reads a max speed of 79 of your favorite speed indicator. This looks cool. If there is one thing that I think helps cylclists stay safe is being annoyingly visible. Having you speed lit up with bright neon lights is unique enough to get any driver's attention. One vest has been made, but they are not available for purchase yet.

Item 3: LightLane

This one is my personal favorite of the bunch. Flashing lights are great and all, but being able to project your perimeter onto the road is just flat out genious. We have a lot of bike lanes around here, but drivers don't pay attention. It's hard to fault them when for so long this country hasn't had to share the road. I can't wait until this thing hits the market.

What do you do to stay safe on your rides?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I got kicked out of the pool today

Alright, they asked me nicely to leave.

The pool at the gym has been closed for maintenance. So I was pleased today when they said it was again ready for use. They had just kicked on the heaters so it would be a little cold, but usable.

The cold didn't bother me, in fact, I preferred the colder temp once I got going. After stretching a bit I started with 150m freestyle. I did use a few rest strokes here are there to catch my breath, but it was mostly freestyle. After a minute or so of rest I embarked on the long swim for the day. After 225m, the pool tech informed me I needed to leave. I guess they had a few more chemicals to dump in the pool to help the new parts. I don't really know.

Hopefully Thursday it'll be ready to go.

Oxymoron of the day: Healthy fast-food

I recently saw an article that listed the Top 10 Healthies Fast Food Restaurants. I don't know about anyone else, but if I ever head to a fast food joint, I'm not looking for healthy. I want a greasy burger and a 10,000 calorie shake thank you very much.

Some of the contenders (a.k.a. the ones I've heard of): McDonalds, Chipotle, and Taco Del Mar.

Other ironic bit about the article - related news article "Should Fast Food Be Banned From High-Fat Neighborhoods?"

Mike put it best in his comment on the article:
I’m 62 years old, 5′8″ and 152 lbs. I eat at Micky D’s, Noodle Co, Panera as well a Ruby Tuesday’s, Big Boy, frozen meals from the grocery and occasional home cooking.

Where you eat is not important. It is only about what you eat. Good and bad choices are up to the individual, not the restaurant. None of these purveyors are inherently healthy or un. IMO at least.
So what do you think? Is it the restaurant's problem for people eating poorly, or the individual who ordered?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Running with a group [or - the only way to run long distances]

I've done a few long distance runs by myself in the not too distant past. They were enjoyable, I guess. But the distance is hard to cover, and the speed is hard to keep up. Your mind starts to mess with your body, convincing your legs that they don't need to keep moving. Each step is a struggle, and small inclines are torture. There is nothing to occupy your mind but the beating of your feet on the pavement and the fact you have not reached your destination yet.

I have to say that running by myself is often quite enjoyable and a great time for self-reflection, but the long runs start to wear on me.

The last two Saturdays were long runs, but this time with a small group. What a difference it makes. There is conversation. There is always someone to push the pace. There is trash talking. And when the going gets tough, there is distraction and usually at least one other person willing to drop back for a while.

I've mentioned in a post or two that I've been on these runs with Dan, a coworker of mine. His dad, Cliff, the self proclaimed non-runner, and Dan's buddies Tim and Jared also join in the mix. Dan and Jared have both done half Ironmans and are in way better shape than I, which keeps the pace moving. Both runs we stayed right around 9 min/mile pace, but last Saturday we ran the last 2 miles (of 8+) in 16:30.

What makes running with someone so much different? I'm not sure I could explain why. Is it the knowledge that there are others suffering? Camaraderie? Competition? I'm sure it is a hybrid of those and more. 

This week we are heading out for 9+ miles, which will be my longest run ever. Hopefully that group mentality keeps me moving.

Issaquah Tri - May 30, 2009 [Update]

Registration is open for the Issaquah sprint tri on May 30, 2009.  I'm signed up.

Is anyone else going to be there?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I'm back....

It's been a while since my last post. I kind of shut down a lot of activities as I was in final cramming mode for the latest CPA test I took (fingers are crossed that I passed this one). That, of course, also explains why I haven't posted since the test. Brain recovery after these things is a serious ordeal. All that matters is I'm back to functioning like a normal person and taking a few days off from studying (one more to go - hopefully).

I've been thinking about what I would do during my week off from studying and thought that I would bike into work a few times.  So Wednesday night I mentally prepared myself for the commute (not very far, but this sort of thing requires a heads-up) and woke up to this...

I'm not above riding my bike in poor weather (growing up in the Midwest I had a paper route and road my bike all but two days that year through rain, snow, etc - but I digress), but I would hate to put drivers through the trouble of trying not to hit me on already hard to drive on roads.

Defeated, I didn't even try on Friday.  That means no workouts all week. Yesterday I changed that. I biked into work (7.7 miles). Then after a few hours at my desk I ran 8.1 miles with a co-worker, his dad, and a friend of his. I polished off the day with a 25.8 mile ride home. I'm pretty sore today, but ready for this week's workouts.

Turns out this is the end of the month. Totals for this month:
Swim: 1.52 miles - 4 workouts
Bike: 113.57 miles - 10 workouts
Run: 30.07 miles - 7 workouts
Total: 145.16 miles - 21 workouts

That was the most miles I've covered in a month. Ever. The disheartening part is that I have to cover more distance than that in one day in July.  I've got work to do, but things are going well.