Monday, November 30, 2009

What a ride it's been

Well NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month) is coming to a close. It's been a month full of posts, that's for sure. Has it been bad or good? I'd say a little bit of both.

The stats have been good:
Site visitors: 59 in November compared to 19 in October
Number of subscribers: 21 on November 29th, compared to 13 on October 31st
Ad revenue: $0.10 in November! I'll try not to spend it all in one place :)
But I would say overall the content was a bit bland and maybe a little forced. It's been a good experience though. And I will definitely continue, but a bit differently.  I have two other blogs that were neglected this month and I'd really like to get back to writing on those blogs as well. So here is the goal for December:
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I will be writing about Microsoft Excel and other tech subjects at
Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday you can find content here at
Sundays will be my miscellaneous ramblings on miscellaneous topics at
Thanks for having visited over the past month. Training is slow and boring this time of year, so let me know in the comments (here or on the other blogs) what you would like to hear about.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Anatomy of my STP '09 Wreck (and a bit of soapboxing)

I've already mentioned that I crashed and you can see the full ride report here.

At the time of the crash, I was going 27 mph. There was a car on my left. I was in a paceline that was passing another group of cyclists. The white line was also a rumble strip, which made lane changing interesting. As you can see in the diagram below, a cyclist in the line I was passing, decided to jump into my line. He didn't look (or stop afterward, for that matter), just moved abruptly over into me due to the rumble strip.

As there was a car on my left the only option I had was to attempt to brake just enough to open a gap without getting rear ended by the guy behind me. I hit the brakes too hard, and our bikes locked. Justin, the guy following me, hit the road. We were the only two involved in the crash, luckily enough, but both bikes were trashed.

I will fully admit that I am partly at fault here. I was pushing way too hard and didn't have my wits about me. I didn't leave myself a way out in case something like this happened. I hit the brakes too hard. I assumed the leader of the paceline was alerting the folks on our right that we were passing. And the list goes on.

After being picked up, I saw the remains of at least four other accidents on that stretch of road. One of them was being attended to by a fire truck and an ambulance as the rider appeared to have broken a collarbone. 

The Seattle to Portland ride, has had 30 years of history. The Cascade Bicycle Club hosts a great event that both serves a local charity, and gets riders on the road and helps drivers know that cyclists belong on the road as much as cars. But I have to wonder if 10,000 cyclists is too many. I posed this question, along with what happened to me on the ride, on the Cascade Bicycle Club forums. (leave a comment below if you would like a link to the discussion). I received a lot of feedback on what I could have done differently and people's opinions of the event.

I concluded that the STP might not be the best ride for me. I've been thinking about whether it would be more fun to do the ride by myself or with a small group of people. I have family in Portland, and could meet my wife along the way for support. I've also thought about making sure I'm riding with a group of people that I know and have ridden with before so we have certain protocols established going into the ride (i.e. hand signals, pull time, general feel for what people are going to do).

I still don't know if I'll ever do the ride again. I had a blast up to that point. But there is still a bit of bitterness from the crash. I've since searched for and learned a lot about bicycle safety, and group riding as a way to help myself become a better rider. I hope to share some of those items with you all in the coming months. Please leave a comment on any safety related questions, or you thoughts on what I've written here and I'll try to get to them in future posts.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Today found me in the garage for most of the day. It was in desperate need of cleaning and organizing. I wish I could say it looked a lot better, but at least all the sawdust and spider webs are out. Big steps were made towards organization, but there are a number of craigslist postings that need to occur before true organization can happen.

The surprise benefit to cleaning the garage...I ache all over. Standing, sweeping, moving heavy objects, bending, etc. I'm going to call it a workout. Works for me.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving...The Aftermath

First of all, that death cake from came home with us. My mouth is pleased, my gut will surely grow.

We planned a nice relaxing day at home. E and I put up the Christmas lights. Nothing complicated, but a good day-after-Thanksgiving tradition. Then the wife was looking online and noticed that AT&T had and iPhone 3GS refurb for $50. My response: "What?!?" Sure enough, it was real. I was up for a new phone, and have been having issues with my current phone (what do you mean I have 8 voicemails and no missed calls?), and have been wanting an iPhone. Perfect storm, and it's now in the mail.

There are some excellent workout apps available for the iPhone and I plan on getting a review of them done in the not too distant future.

Other than that, I got a 2.8 mile run in. Nothing extraordinary. But it felt good to get out and work some of that turkey off!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

This morning's spin session went well. A bit of ab work afterwards. All to get ready to eat!

Thanksgiving was great. Time spent with family and a good meal. Afterwards we went to the wife's parent's house to open birthday presents and eat cake. Not just any cake, but Costco's death cake.
In reference to this cake, I sent a text to my sister earlier today telling her to tell Mom to buy us chocolate cake. I didn’t think she would do it. But she did. This is Costco’s All American Chocolate Cake. And it’s as delicious as it looks for all of $16.99. Just goes to show you that it never hurts to ask.
4 layers of moist chocolate cake with the fudgiest icing you will ever find. Chocolate coma here I come.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


In the last 2 months I've managed to gain 10 pounds. I'm sitting at about 182 right now. The conundrum lies in that tomorrow is Thanksgiving and there will be copious amounts of food. Tasty food. And pie. And another kind of pie. Topped off with whipped cream. And on top of that it is the Wife's birthday. Yep. Early turkey dinner/stuff-your-face-fest, then birthday dinner and cake. 

Don't get me wrong, my mouth is going to be very happy. And to counteract, I plan on going to a spin class in the morning. But tomorrow expect a "In the last 2 months I've managed to gain 20 pounds" post.

But hey, this time of year Ya Gotta Fight for your Right. To Pie.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bicycle beats all

First off... Gym time today. A bit of everything with a 20 min run on the treadmill afterward. I'll report back tomorrow on how I'm feeling.

About 2 months ago I heard about a contest that was held in Sao Paulo Brazil. Premise was simple: bring whatever transportation you choose and try to get from the start to a finish line the fastest way possible. People showed up with motorcycles, cars, helicopters, bikes, running shoes, etc. What won? The bicycle.

[PSFK via bike hugger]

Monday, November 23, 2009

How early to start kids in triathlons

As early as possible?! The bike below is awesome, but really small. I'm all for letting kids try new things, but this is a bit ridiculous.

[via Sergio Marques]

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gold medal taken even after claimed by lick

Remember back to your childhood. You have just been presented a buffet of desserts at a party: cookies, cakes, chocolates, fudge, etc. How can you possibly lay claim on all of them? Eating all of them now is out of the question - too many people to fend off, and it would take too long. You might hide them all in your bedroom, but that would take too many trips. Then you remember the universal rule of the lick. If you lick it, it is yours.

Now, instead of cookies, picture gold medals.

((AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File))

Middle-distance runner Rashid Ramzi was stripped of his gold medal in the 1,500 meter because of doping.

Turns out licking the medal won't keep the Olympic folks away.

[via Mercury News]

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Messing with tradition

A few weeks ago we made rice crispy treats. My daughter, E, had a blast being the marshmallow tosser, tossing them into the pan. A few nights ago, we were at the grocery store and E says we should buy marshmallows to make rice crispy treats again. I'm not about to turn down dessert, so we wandered on over to the cereal isle. They did not have the generic Rice Crispies, and being the cheapskates that we are, we went for generic chocolate rice crispies instead of paying full price for the regular kind. Then we had a choice: regular marshmallows or strawberry flavored. E voted for strawberry, and being 4 she won the vote.

Turns out chocolate/strawberry rice crispy treats are delicious. It only makes me wonder what other combinations could be had!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Exercise as medicine? Riding is My Ritalin by Bruce Barcott

I was planning on writing some deep insightful big words on what I thought about the article linked above. But it turns out I don't know any big words. :)

I think the article puts it very well. Are we, America as a whole, not getting the exercise we need? And if so, have we ourselves created a lot of the health problems we see today? Maybe. The article is long, but well worth the read.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dancepants? You bet!

I used to train a lot with music. It's a great way distract your mind while pounding the pavement. For those starting running for the first time, Dancepants is a great idea. While you are moving, the music plays. When stopped, quiet.

So picture it. You're out on a long run, grooving to the music. You stop for a breather, and crash. Start back up again and feeling fine. Have to stop at a red light, no music, so you do some jumping jacks. Anything to keep that music going.

All right. That might be a bit over the top. But seriously, motion powered music. Cool.

DesignBoom [via Gizmodo]

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Running...Outside...During the day...In the sun!

Winter in the Northwest means rain, and darkness. Sun up at 7:30. Sun down at 4:30. Which means I've been either running in the dark and in the rain, or inside at the gym for the last few weeks. Well, yesterday that all changed.

Me and a buddy took off for a 4.3 mile lunch run yesterday under blue skies and a brisk 45 degrees. It was the longest either of us had run for a few months, but it was good to get out and enjoy the weather.

So, wherever you are, if you get a nice day, use it. It could be the last one for a while.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Today I got a flu shot. Not the H1N1, but a normal, run of the mill, flu shot. While reading over the paperwork I came across the word 'Malaise.' As in, 3-5 days after the shot you may experience malaise or flu like symptoms.

I've always known vaguely what the word meant, but I decided to look it up. This is what I found:


[ma-leyz, -muh-; Fr. ma-lez]  Show IPA
1.a condition of general bodily weakness or discomfort, often marking the onset of a disease.
2.a vague or unfocused feeling of mental uneasiness, lethargy, or discomfort.

The second definition describes exactly how I feel for most of tax season. Yikes!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cross fit

Cross Fit training is the new rage in the fitness world. It's been around for a while, but is really getting popular.

Basically, you do a few repetitions of really hard stuff as your training. On their website they have a workout of the day. Today's was:

For time:
100 Pull-ups
100 Push-ups
100 Sit-ups
100 Squats

Do all of that stuff, and time yourself. Piece of cake, right?

It's meant to be scalable to your level. So one could do 10 of each and time yourself. But whatever you do, it should be challenging. I read not too long ago of a woman who used Cross Fit as her main training for a marathon. She would do the daily Cross Fit workouts and then 3 times a week she would run 6-9 miles. She didn't run anything longer than 9 miles in training and ran a personal best marathon time of 3:30 and qualified for Boston. Her previous best? 4:45. A lot of people swear by it.

I can't say that I did any Cross Fit specific training. But I've got an idea for them. We were offered a free organ from one of my wife's piano students. We were glad to take it off their hands, and they were happy to see it go. So myself and one other person lifted and carried a 400+ pound organ 15 yards to deposit it into a truck. Then another 15 or so yards and up a flight of stairs to get it into our house.

I fully intended to go to the gym this morning, but I was incredibly sore (and the move was on Saturday). So I called it good and slept for another hour.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Off topic

For those who don't know me, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or commonly known as the Mormons. Generally, members of the church attend a congregation based on where they live. My family and I have have been asked by the local leaders to attend a Spanish speaking congregation. My wife plays the organ. I work with the youth. Neither one of us speak Spanish, though. I speak Portuguese, which allows me to understand well enough, and my wife took a year of Spanish in high school and is doing a good job understanding what is going on, but neither of us have much of a vocabulary.

As members, we all take turns speaking in front of the congregation on various topics assigned to us. We have no paid clergy. We all have a chance to teach and be taught by one another. It turns out, after 3 months in the Spanish congregation, the leaders thought it should be our turn. Where did we turn?, the church website has a lot of resources that are already translated. So if you can find something on topic in English all you have to do is find the same thing in Spanish. After cobbling together various passages of scripture and other quotes, it was time to write the filler. That's where Google Translate comes in. We'd write out what we wanted to say in English then translate it into Spanish. It works surprisingly well. After a bit of editing (hurrah for Portuguese grammer being very similar to Spanish) we were good to go. All we had to do was show up and read.

Our 4-year-old has spent the last few months getting a lot of coloring time during the services, as she doesn't understand any Spanish at all. And since she never hears my wife and I speak Spanish (usually done after she's in bed), our daughter has no idea that we can.

So during the services, my wife was at the pulpit speaking, and our daughter looks up, realizes it's her mom. Then she realizes that she can't understand her mom. Then points and says, in a not so quiet voice, "SPANISH." Nothing else. No other comments before return calmly to her coloring, while her 1-year-old sister pays no attention and continues her double fisted eating of the raisins.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Seattle to Portland 2009 Ride Report

When I signed up for this ride, I knew it was going to be a challenge. 204 miles of road between the two cities, and only my legs to get me there. I'd trained, but didn't go on enough long rides to truly be prepared for it. My main hope was that if I could keep from bonking, I could make my legs move enough to get there before the 9pm cutoff. Oh yeah, did I mention I was doing it in a day?!

At 3:45 the morning of, my friend Steve showed up, and my very kind wife and I loaded up the car with the bikes, two very sleepy children and clothes for a weekend in Portland, and we headed to the start line. We got there with 15 minutes to spare, and I stretched while Steve picked up his packet. It was kind of cool to be at the start with a couple thousand cyclists ready to take on this journey. Steve had a coworker that was going to join us so we met up with him and a friend of his, and caught the second wave out of the starting line at 5 am.

I didn't really have any expectations going into this event. It's not a race, and our goal was to finish around 7 pm (14 hours total time, 12-13 bike time). That meant keeping a 17.5 mph pace while on the bike, and keeping the stops to a minimum. All I knew was that I was going to hurt at the end.

The first 15 miles wind along Lake Washington and provided excellent views and a great sunrise. Little did I know I wouldn't be able to really enjoy the views as I had to worry about not crashing amidst hundreds of cyclists. I'd ridden a few group rides with 30 or so riders in preparation for this, but in reality there was not preparing for the magnitude of riders on the road. Picture riding in the middle of the 180 person peloton at the Tour de France, except that you are riding with a bunch of people facing their own mid-life crisis and are trying to make a nice ride into a race. Pretty scary. I managed to keep the group in sight as we moved along at a faster than needed clip trying to distance ourselves from a bulk of the pack and find quieter roads ahead. It was during this stretch that I lost the map, but I figured the turns would be well marked so I didn't bother to go back. The dropped item that did make me stop and go back was the Camelbak water bottle that bounce out of the cage at mile 15. Unfortunately, the hard plastic top hit the ground first. At least it didn't suffer.

I'd hoped at that point there was nothing else that would go wrong. Except that 20 miles into the ride the pace was still above 20 mph. I was beginning to think I should just back off, let Steve know I would meet him in Portland and ride my own pace, knowing that there was still a long ways to go. But, ego got the best of me, and I held on with the logic being that I was drafting for most of the time and that would conserve energy, right?

We stopped at the mile 57 food stop at 8:30 and hit the Honey Buckets and the food line. A cookie and banana eaten, and PopTarts in my back pocket I was ready to go. As we rolled out there was talk of easing the pace a bit, but that didn't last long as we found ourselves hovering at about 27mph on a sketchy bit of road not 3 miles from the food stop.

And then it happened.

We were passing a large group of people when one of them decided (without so much as a glance) that right in front of me was where he would like to be. Except that it wasn't right in front of me that he ended up. It was right on top of me. With a car on my left, all I could do was slow a bit and hope for the best. As I was being followed by another in our group (as happens when riding in a paceline) he didn't have enough time to react and his front wheel locked into my back wheel. He hit the ground but only bounced and wasn't hurt that bad. I stayed on my bike (likely because I was using his bike as a kickstand). We managed to get off the road and out of the way of other cyclists. After a quick check of the bikes (yes, I checked them first) there was no way we could continue. Neither bike was shifting, and his front wheel and my rear wheel were sufficiently bent to not be able to spin freely anymore. Mile 60, may the ride RIP.

Justin, the other cyclist had a brother that lived not too far from where we wrecked. We had thought we would be able to get a ride with ride support to the next food stop closer to his brothers house, but it never came. So his brother came to where we were. By this time, my wife had just pulled into my Aunt's driveway in Portland at the same time that I called saying I needed a ride. My aunt took the two girls and my wife, who had already driven 4 hours that morning, turned around and made the 2 hour drive to Justin's brother's house. We made it to his house about 15 minutes before my wife made it (traffic is slightly insane on back roads when there are 10,000 cyclists on the road) and she and I drove back to Portland to enjoy the rest of the weekend.

To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I'd been training for months only to end up not finishing because of something that could have been prevented. That's hard to swallow. But overall, I was glad that I didn't get hurt.

[*I'm going to spend more time in a future post hashing out more of the details of the accident and what I could have done differently during the ride, and the merits (or problems) of having 10,000 cyclists on the road at once*]

[**This ride was back on July 11th. Yeah, I'm 4 months late.**]

Friday, November 13, 2009

Issaquah Tri Race Report Preview

My first tri ever, and it was great. But as a teaser, I ran the race with this guy...

Don't recognize him yet? How about now?...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure the Edge was there. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How much time do you spend eating?

I saw this article a while back, but I think it's still quite relevant. It seems like eating has become a side note in our day to day lives. We only eat things that can be prepared in 5 minutes or less (and preferably prepared by someone else). Drive thru burgers, donuts, coffee, ice cream... You get the picture.

The amount of time we spend eating appears to be at least correlated with how fat we are.


So, what is it about longer mealtimes that would make people not overeat? Is it that we think about the food more? Is it that more time is spent conversing then eating?

My wife talks about food a lot. Where it comes from. How healthy certain items are (or aren't). How to prepare it. How to store it. How to get it cheaper. All of this time and effort, instead of leading to our family overeating has lead to us all eating very healthy and very well.

I can't help but think that snap decisions made on food are more likely to result in a meal that is not good for you.

What can we do today to spend more time eating?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bike design gone wrong

I'm all for taking design to the next level. Invent a new car that doesn't use gas and looks a bit futuristic: Awesome. Electronic shifting for bikes: Even better. But sometimes messing with the design doesn't achieve the desired results.

This picture doesn't look all that bad. In fact, the design is intriguing. Generally a bike has 2 triangles in the frame design to provide strength and stability, and the rigidness needed while pedaling. For a city bike I could see how this wouldn't be necessary. The design is simple, clean, futuristic.
super minimal city bike_01

Now picture trying to ride it.
super minimal city bike_04
How could everything about the ridability be so wrong? No extension in the legs, short cranks. The pedals are behind the body which means little to no power transfer.

Why can't it be more like this... It's just awesome...
london garden bicycle

If you could design a bike, what features would you want?

[via TheDesignBlog and Tuvie]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Finding my rhythm

I feel like I'm getting more comfortable at the gym. No more wandering around aimlessly. I seem to be settling into a routine. Today was all legs. Extensions, Curls, Press (sounds like hair styling!). Abductors/Reductors. Then 22 minutes on the bike.

I managed to stop by the library and to my surprise found 15 Spinervals videos waiting for me. I've been meaning to try. Turns out the library only lets you keep DVDs for a week. Anyone out there used Spinervals before? Any suggestions as to which ones I should try first?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

And now, the rest of the story

Yesterday, I left you hanging (got to get that daily post in), today...the rest of the story.

My dad and I left the house at 4:45 to meet up with Mark (one of my dad's buddies) for a hike up in the mountains. After meeting Mark and picking up Dave, one of Mark's friends, we headed up to the trail head for Snow Lake.

The night before it snowed 12-18 inches, the first of the year. The first 30 minutes it was still dark and we hiked by lamp light. As it got lighter, we started to see how spectacular the views were.

Before long the terrain started heading up (the beginning of our 1000 feet of elevation gain).

As the switchbacks increased, so did the rests, and the stories!

After a little over 2 miles and around an hour and a half we reached the ridge and the view of Snow Lake.

Until the night before this hike, I didn't have any waterproof hiking boots. My dad insisted I get some. I was glad I did. There were about a dozen creek crossings on the hike, and of course all of that snow. My feet were happy and dry the whole way.

The pictures only begin to show how grand the view was. The valley was at least 10 miles across, and the year's first snow made it seem even bigger.

And if you want to see some real pictures (that is, pics that weren't taken by my awesome 2mp camera phone) visit Mark's Flickr page.

I managed to get a little more than half of the voyaged mapped out using my phone. This is a great hike, although it probably shouldn't be attempted until next Spring. Mark said there are frequently avalanches when the snow gets any deeper than 18 inches.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hiking in the snow

This will have to be a teaser. Awesome hike this morning. 6:00 am at the trailhead to Snow Lake, hiking on the first snow of the year.  Pics and details tomorrow. Right now, I'm going to sleep.

Friday, November 6, 2009


My parents are in town for the weekend, so I decided to drag my dad along to the gym.  Good session. Cardio first. For Dad, 10 minutes on the stair machine, then 10 on the treadmill. For me, 20 minutes on the treadmill and 2.45 miles covered.

Next weights. No plan really. Just wandered around and lifted things. And grunted. You know, guy stuff.

Tomorrow we will be hiking (very likely in snow) with one of Dad's friends. I'll see if I can get some pictures and a GPS map of it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Training wheel (yes just 1!)

To this day I remember* riding my bike with my dad along a busy road and my training wheel fell off, and I fell in to the street. No damage was done, but we had to ride the rest of the way home with my dad holding on to one of my handlebars so I didn't fall over.

Now, if I only had this wheel. It's a replacement front wheel with a built-in gyroscope that keeps the wheel stable and upright. Awesome...

*At least I think I remember. I was 4. :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gym day 3...not

Yeah, so that goal of going to the gym every weekday this month... that didn't last long. This morning I was really tired. Add to that a bit of overzealousness the previous 2 days at the gym, and everything just hurt. I figured I deserved a rest. Back at it tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Day 2 at the gym

I felt pretty good after yesterday's gym session. There was a little fatigue settling in the muscles, but pretty good overall. Today I did a little of everything in a circuit that was maybe too big and covered too many muscle groups. That compounded on yesterday's training. My shoulders hurt. It's a good hurt. And it sure is going to make painting tonight really fun. :)

Finished up with 20 minutes on the treadmill at 2% incline and a total of 2.25 miles covered.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Session 1 at the gym

I was hoping to have more time to wrap up a event report, but it was not in the cards.

I did, however, make it to the gym this morning for some weight lifting and cardio. Nothing special, just 3 sets of 15 for biceps, triceps, shoulders and back. All of that was followed by 20 mins on the stationary bike.

I don't really have a plan with the weights, I'm just trying to get a balanced strength regimen going. So tomorrow, I'll do whatever strikes my fancy, then follow that up with 20 minutes on the treadmill.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Resurrecting my training (and the blog)

Training for this year's events, coupled with studying for the CPA, painting the interior of the house, being Wonder Daddy, and general stressful stuff at work, led to getting a bit burned out. So i took some much needed time off from training, and have just recently gotten back to finding out where my fitness is after the hiatus.

All in all, I'm feeling pretty good. The cardiovascular fitness is way down, but i'm was faster than I was at this point last year. Tomorrow morning I'm heading to the gym for the first of (hopefully) daily weekday sessions for all of November, which will hopefully lead to swimming starting up again in December. I have no race plans yet for 2010, but I will let you know when I do.

As for the laziness in the blog... I had planned for 3 events in 2009. I ran 2 and the only race report I have posted about was the race I didn't even run! This week I'll get those posted, followed by a safety series that I've been pondering about for quite a while. After that we'll see where things lead. To get myself motivated again I've also signed up for NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). 1 post a day for the month of November is the goal.

Here's to November, and let the training begin so I can eat more pie this holiday season!