Tuesday, September 29, 2009


13 Miles
44 degrees

I wasted too much time getting out the door this morning and was late meeting up with Mike. He had taken off by the time I got there so I took off sprinting in the direction that I thought he would have gone. I never did find him but I pushed myself harder than I
normally would have when riding alone. I gave up trying to catch him after about 20 minutes figuring that he was either long gone or had taken a different route. I was tired from riding so hard so when I got home I rewarded myself to a slice of Sarah's "healthy" cherry cheesecake for breakfast. I probably shouldn't have. It was too rich and heavy for that early in the morning but when the choice is Fruit Loops or cheese cake the decision was not hard to make. Mmmmm!

Monday, September 28, 2009

What are we thinking?

14 miles
38 degrees

This morning was a cold one and I knew it would be. I dressed well so only my hands and feet where cold and Mike shows up again in shorts and a jersey. At one point he told me that his hands and feet stopped hurting and felt fine now. Sounds like frostbite to me. I hope not! Anyway, I think we have both decided that we've had enough cold and dark rides but we are stubborn so we are holding out until the end of the month. Come October we will start riding during lunch, and I can sleep in my warm bed a little longer.

We went for a short ride this morning since lately the sun doesn't rise until we finish. We headed out through Billings on Lewis and cut down 19th down to King and crossed the Freeway to catch Frontage Road to head back. Since I was prepared, I wasn't too cold but my legs sure did not want to work and I had a hard time talking and breathing with that cold air rushing into my lungs. I am not ready for winter!

Grand Teton National Park

Ok, no rides to report on since I've spent the last several days in Grant Teton National Park participating in the Yellowstone Business Partnership Uncommon Sense program. I went with a co-worker and brought my family. I even considered bringing my bike but didn't feel that I'd have much time to actually ride except Friday morning when it was forcasted in the 30's. Not my idea of a fun ride through Teton Nat'l Park.

Anyway, the conference was great. We discussed transportation issues and climate change and I came away from it with some really great information. It was actually a great setting, being in a picturesque place and discussing how to preseve it. There was a forest fire on the other side of Jackson Lake that we observed for the three days that we were there. It was interesting to me that with all the destruction that the fire was creating, it was a natural process that would eventually bring new life to the forest. Much of the harm and destruction to our planet caused by human actions is irreversible (and possibly catostrophic) unless we react now. It was an eye opener for me, even though I was already a believer in the cause.

Anyway, enough of the preaching because that is not what I set up this blog to do. Saturday morning we drove around the park for some field trips of various sites and then headed home. As we drove around we discovered a great bike path that went around Jenny Lake and down quite a ways towards Jackson. I think that Sarah and I will have to ditch the kids and go for a ride down there some day. I wish Yellowstone would provide a similar path. As much as I want to ride Yellowstone, I'm nervous of the narrow roads and the traffic.

More to come on the Grand Teton Trip on Tree Squirrels.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


14 miles
about 45 degrees

As I struggled to wake up this morning between snoozes on the alarm, I had a semi-conscious dream of riding but I could hardly move. It was actually more of a sensation than a dream. It was as if I were riding one of those spin bikes at the gym with the resistance all the way up. I think it was probably because I adjusted the brakes just a hair to tight the other night and at the beginning of yesterday's ride, they rubbed ever so slightly. It seemed to work itself out before I even met up with Mike so I just left it alone but I've been paranoid about the brakes nevertheless. Anyway, I've had similar dreams/sensations before of trying to run and my body just won't move and the classic falling off a cliff dream where you are powerless to do anything about your situation and not awake enough to just snap out of it. This was my first bike dream experience though. At least I wasn't changing flat tires in my dreams.

This morning was another cold one although not as cold as yesterday. This time I put on a heavier shirt, wool socks, and booties (covers that go over the shoes to block wind and water) in addition to the leggings, shorts and jacket that I wore yesterday. It was much more tolerable and I was able to enjoy the ride a little more this morning. Mike, however, still showed up with nothing but shorts and a jersey. I feel like a wuss riding with him but I don't like the cold, especially first thing in the morning. I get used to it and can tolerate commuting to work in -20 degree weather with the roads iced over, but I don't enjoy it. I had frost bite on my hands twice last year and don't intend to make a tradition out of it. So I dress for the weather, and if I sweat, so be it. Its better than being cold.

The ride was pretty uneventful this morning. No traffic mishaps, no deer chasing, no flats and no accidents. Just a nice ride through the city streets. We had a good conversation this morning and the ride was over before I knew it. I even got home in time to take the girls to the bus stop. Remember what I was wearing? It gets worse. I was self conscious about the bike shorts and black leggings but didn't have time to change so I threw on a pair of khaki shorts over the bike shorts and put on a pair of white tennis shoes. Classy!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


15.75 miles
about 40 Degrees

So why is it that the Kevlar the troops use in Iraq and Afghanistan can protect them from bullets and shrapnel but the supposed Kevlar lining in my road tires won't even stop a thorn or sharp rock?

Knowing that I was doing a road ride in the morning I ventured out to the garage after watching Heroes last night to fix the flat on my back tire from Saturday's ride. On my way out the door I noticed the three flat tubes from the MS ride and decided to patch them first. About half an hour and four patches later (one patch didn't take so I had to use another one) I'm finally out the door and into the garage. I reach for my bike and set it down on the ground and noticed that it felt funny. What the heck, the front tire is flat as well? Remind me not to by Nashbar cheap-o tires again. I changed out both tubes with the newly patched tubes and kept my fingers crossed that they would hold for the morning ride. I could have put new tubes in, but why, when I'm just going to puncture them in a day or so anyway. I then proceeded to adjust my brakes that are almost worn to nothing after 2000 miles. I just haven't been near a bike shop during business hours for awhile to buy new ones. After adjsuting the brakes, I went back inside to patch two more tubes because I will need them later. Finally I am done fixing up the bike and patching tubes for the night. I head back out to the garage to put things away and notice that it is actually chilly already. I instantly think of my morning ride and how I'm going to freeze my ...toes off so I go back into the house and start rumaging through my gear to find my leggings and a long sleeve shirt for the morning.

This morning I woke up and crawled out of bed and could tell instantly that it was cold outside. I shivered in the house after putting on my gear and I hadn't even stepped outside yet. It was about 40 degrees or less outside and I felt it instantly, even with my long sleeve shirt, leggins, and jacket. I rode over to the Y to meet up with Mike and its still pitch dark when I get there. Mike shows up in shorts and a jersey because he has no sense of cold. I think he felt it this morning though. Upon deciding where to go, I stated "nowhere near water" and not thinking much of it, we headed out to the paved trail that leads into the Heights, you got it, along the Yellowstone River. I forgot about that portion of the trail. It was cold and of course the faster we went, the colder we got. My toes quickly went numb. I guess I should have worn my insulated socks. Poor Mike was freezing. He wouldn't say so but I could tell because I did all of the talking this morning and even I had a hard time with that. We proceeded down the trail, chasing deer as we rode, until the sun finally started to illuminate the tops of the rims with an orangish glow. We decided to turn around and head back, however Mike wanted to look at Bench Blvd. for something dealing with work and told me to head back so I could get home in time.

I took off alone and decided that the surface streets would get me back faster that taking the trail all of the way back. As I approached the intersection of Main and 6th at Metra Park, I realized that the traffic sensors were not going to pick me up on a bike so I tried to work my way across the street. I found an opening in the North bound traffic and bolted but wasn't quick enough to hit my window through the South bound traffic so I hit the brakes and skidded to a stop in the middle of the road next to the median. I felt like I was playing Frogger on level 100 assuming that anyone has ever had the attention span long enough to make it to that level. Cars had wizzed by on both sides without an opening for about 3 minutes when I looked up and saw Mike flying down Main St. and turn right onto 6th Ave, right where I needed to be. I doubt he saw me since he was focused on not getting clobbered in the traffic. So much for my shortcut. Mike fades off into the distance and I am still sitting there in the intersection. It has now been atleast 5 minutes and there is no sign that the traffic is letting up or that the light will change. Finally, there it is, a small window. I bolt and am now surrounded by cars on 6th Ave. Someone lets me onto the shoulder and I'm off towards home. Of course, I was late getting home so I rode over to the bus stop just in time to say 'hi' to the girls and get them on the bus. I took a long, hot shower when I finally got home. I still feel cold.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Getting cold!

It was in the low to mid 40's this morning and I'm thinking, why do I do this to myself? I enjoy the riding but I have to second guess myself when its cold, windy and dark. To top it off, Mike didn't show this morning for some unknown reason (haven't talked to him yet). After waiting a few minutes I started the ride along the side of 27th Street with blinding headlights from oncoming traffic obstructing my view of the trail. I made it up the trail without incident (I didn't fall off the cliff) and even "cleaned" the loose portion of the trail that was disrupted during the recent road construction. It wasn't the same riding alone since I didn't have anyone to push me or joke around with to keep me awake. The sun came out somewhere near the end of my ride and it became easier to navigate the trail. I missed the trail a couple of times this morning and had to turn around and go back once. Nothing really exciting happened except that I almost experienced a "nut cracker" as I hit a rock that I was trying to climb but the bike stopped instead of climbing and I kept going. I stopped myself just short of smacking the frame. I've discovered that padded shorts don't help in that circumstance. Anyway, I finished the ride just in time to see my girls off to school. I guess they got ready in a hurry this morning so they could watch their boxing video from last night. It's pretty intense and a little terrifying. Check it out at our Tree Squirrels blog.

On a completely unrelated topic, I came across this bizarre tandem bike this morning. Mike and I rode a tandem bike once this summer and it was incredibly awkward and very difficult to climb with. I wasn't terribly impressed although newer models might be easier to use. However, if you've got to ride a tandem, this has got to be the way to go. I imagine the conversation may be a little dry and one sided. I'd hate to pedal that thing if the robot's battery ever died.

Original post at Endless-sphere.com

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A ride and a move

Ok, so I was asked to help move a family into their home this morning. My dilema, I was really lazy this week since Mike was out of town so I didn't ride Thursday or Friday with the exception of the "spin class from hell" as Sarah calls it. Friday was usually an easier class but they switched instructors to the Monday/Wednesday instructor and she kicks our trash in and out of that room. I made a snide comment yesterday and she told me to shut up because if my mouth was still running, I wasn't working hard enough. Back to the dilema, I really wanted to ride this morning and so did Sarah. I compromised and rode to the move and back home which was all together 21 miles. Nothing exciting happened but it was good to help this family out.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Mike called last night and I smugly told him to be ready for hills, his favorite. Since I didn't ride yesterday (drove to Great Falls) I thought I would be fresh and rearing to go. I was wrong. I was so stinkin' tired that I struggled to keep up with Mike. I think he added a couple extra scoops of sugar to his Wheaties this morning. We took off up South Billings Boulevard, turned on Hillcrest and rode out to the end of the pavement. I just wasn't feeling it this morning, plus my bike seemed off and I couldn't figure out what it was. Mike beat me to the end of the pavement and we both turned around. All of the sudden Mike is gone, up ahead of me 1/2 a mile or so. I'm thinking, "Who is this guy? He's not the same guy I've been riding with all summer."

In an attempt to gain back some of the lead, I bolted down the last hill and was ready to blow through the stop sign at South Billings Boulevard when I saw six vehicles flying down the road right where I needed to be. I grabbed my brakes hard and skid to a stop right before the intersection. Well, Mike's gone now. No way I'm catching up.

I started pedaling again and noticed that my bike is really responding differently now so I give it good bounce and feel my rim hit the ground. Yep, the tire is flat. I'd checked it before I left and tested the tires a few times as I rode but I couldn't tell if it was flat or not but I knew something was off. So much for my new Kevlar lined tires. I think I had great visions of riding over thumb tacks and broken glass without incident when I bought these things. Looks like its going to be the same routine. I've got it down though. I can change a tire in my sleep now. I hope they finish the road construction by my house soon. I'm sure its to blame for most of my flats.

Now I could say that Mike cleaned my clock only because I had a flat this morning but I am just spent today, no energy left at all after trying to keep up with him. I'm going to count it up to that nitrous-oxide he added to his cereal before the ride. That and the free ride up the hill he got from grabbing hold of my jersey!

Monday, September 14, 2009

More deer

Mike and I did a quick morning ride on the Heritage Trail from Metra Park to Mary Street in the Heights this morning, as well as the sprint with traffic to Metra Park from downtown. It wasn't too bad today. All along the trail in the Heights deer jumped out in front of us. I had to brake once for three deer crossing too close for comfort. We must have encountered at least 20-30 deer on that narrow corridor of the trail. I keep telling Mike and Sarah, I am going to hit one someday and it won't be pretty. Hopefully it won't be a big buck! I can't say I won't deserve it when it comes though since we take any oportunity we can to race the deer. I'm sure they don't see it that way.

Anyway, we got to the end of the trail and turned right onto Mary and headed out a couple miles towards Shepard (via back roads) and turned around and came back. We cranked it all the way back along the river down to Colson Park and back to my house for a total of 17 1/2 miles this morning. Not bad for just goofing around on a Monday morning.

I added a few extra miles during lunch to run some errands downtown. I'm a little hot and sweaty now but actually awake after lunch. Maybe I should try that more often.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I went for an early Saturday morning ride with a few buddies this morning up on the rims. Mike, Nathan, Spence, and Ed came along. Nothing too exciting happened this morning. I chickened out and didn't drop off the rock this time. I watched Nathan do it again and he looked a little shaky and almost got bucked off the bike. This was Ed's first time riding that trail and first time on a mountain bike in several years. We told him about this rock but he got ahead of us at one point and was first to the rock. Not knowing that it was there, he took it and went right off the face of it. He "cleaned" it. However he did take a few spills at other points in the ride.
It was fun to ride with a bigger group although Mike, Nathan and I can really fly through the trail in no time. We might try it again next week. Hopefully we'll have more time and try the trail on the other side of Zimmerman.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I hate traffic!

I know. Everyone hates traffic but its especially difficult on a bike. This morning Mike and I ventured over to beautiful Lockwood (sarcasm) via Highway 87. That's right. I said highway. It usually isn't a big deal since there is a wide shoulder, but to get onto the highway we had to take a left hand turn in one of the two turning lanes provided. Of course, to avoid getting run over, we opted for the furthest left lane which puts us in the center of the highway when we turn. The tricky part is getting back to the shoulder. So we are stopped at the red light and Mike yells "I'm taking it" and he's gone. Before I can react, my window has closed and the light turns green. The Ford Expedition to my right, which I was hoping to cut out in front of, hits the gas and flies out in front of me. Now I'm surrounded by cars in the center of a busy highway. I finally found my window and cut hard to the shoulder. I hate traffic!

We proceeded to do our Lockwood loop, which is actually to the North of Lockwood and much more scenic until with exception to the Exxon Mobile refinery, trailer parks, and livestock auction yard. The rest of it is actually pretty nice. As we come back, a truck with a water tank in the back turns into me forcing be to hit the brakes. I catch up again and he swerves into the shoulder in front of me again. I drop back, catch him at the intersection and make a right hand turn and he tries to turn into me again. I don't think this guy was being aggressive but rather was totally oblivious to my presence. I hate traffic!

I finally lost the truck without any real incidents. As we came back into Billings, we jumped back on the highway again. No problems this time but still not fun. I peeled off and went home fighting traffic the whole way. At one point I had to turn in front of a back hoe on the cross street with a tractor trailer on my tail and a sedan quickly approaching in the opposite direction. I made it home alive and my ride to work was much less eventful besides the two cars that rode my tail all the way down Montana Avenue even though there were two open lanes. I hate traffic!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Riverfront Park

We are quickly running out of daylight in the mornings. I've had a lot of fun riding this summer so its frustrating to think its coming to an end. But hey, I'll be able to sleep a little longer.

Anyway, after the MS ride, Mike and I have been riding more for pleasure rather than training. We decided to go for another mountain bike ride this morning. When I told Sarah, she asked "mountain biking? Two days in a row?" and I just responded "We are riding for fun now." And it has been. Today we rode the trails at Riverfront Park. We tried to ride East along the river but we kept running out of trail. At some points the trail was so overgrown that we had to plow our way through the grass and brush. At other points the trail was so sandy we just couldn't ride anymore. We turned around several times and found more trails to ride. There are trails all over the park.

As we rode down one of the trails, I came to a screeching halt as the trail disappeared in a small clearing. I looked up to see a deer about 15 feet away from me. It quickly scurried off into the thicket. Another trail ended at the river bank where we saw 6 deer swim across the river to the other side. They probably didn't like us disturbing their peaceful morning graze in the park.

As time ran out, we rode back towards some familiar trails. We had a blast as we flew down the trail, ducking for limbs and sliding through turns. One day we are going to hit a deer sitting on the trail, or worse, another group of riders coming from the opposite direction. There's not much visibility on some of these trails with all of the trees and turns.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"Triple Crown"

Got up this morning at oh dark 30 and tried to open my eyes. I really enjoy my morning rides, but anyone that knows me know that I am NOT a morning person. Anyway, I finally convinced myself to get ready and get out the door. Since I had stalled, I had to crank to get up to Rimrock Road by 6:10 to meet up with Mike and Nathan. I hate this part of the ride since its all uphill, first thing in the morning, with no warm up. Anyway, I'm cranking and finally get up to Rimrock when I see Mike and Nathan turn up Yucca to the entrance of the trail. They had been cruising down Rimrock (downhill) so they slowed down to go up Yucca but I was already geared down and warmed up so I flew past them up the hill. Of course, I got the usual "Your feet don't see hills!" And I responded with the usual "This isn't a hill." Oh, but it was. And it wasn't over yet. We got up on the trail and crawled up the rest of the climb to the top of the rims. I was glad to have my headlight today since it was still somewhat dark halfway into our ride.

I rode sloppy today. I think that as I become a stronger road rider, I'm becoming a worse mountain biker. That was evident today as I failed to "clean" fairly simple obstacles. Nathan put both me and Mike to shame this morning. The last time we rode the rims as a group, Chris "cleaned" a rock that Mike and I have both done but our experiences have lead us to dismiss the possibility of trying it again. Mike hit hard and couldn't sit for days and I hit hard and broke my seat and stripped the pedal right out of the crank arm. I hear that Sarah "cleaned" the rock fairly effortlessly although she won't tell me how hard she hit. So Chris, on our last ride, rolls right off the side of the rock onto some smaller rocks all the way down and makes it look easy. Nathan saw this too and even though Mike and I have reconsidered trying it again, Nathan was the only one that took the courage to do so today. Not only that, but Mike dared him to drop off the rock, then climb the rock face on the other side and finally climb the steep hill at the end without dipping for the "triple crown." Chris hasn't even done that yet. Nathan pulled it off and made it look easy. I didn't even try the first and third obstacle and couldn't even "clean" the second today. However, after seeing Chris and Nathan, I'm reconsidering and will probably try again. The rock is calling to me. I'll probably end up landing in the bushes when I try but it will make a good blog entry.
Anyway, we finished the ride and I booked it back home in time to take the girls to the bus stop. Then I sat in the shower for twenty minutes trying to thaw out. I think summer is finally over. Bummer!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


This Saturday I went for a relaxing ride to Pictograph Caves State Park. I say relaxing because, even though it's a dang hard climb, I geared way down and took it easy. I was in no rush. I just took in the scenery and the fresh air. After climbing out of the park, I decided I wasn't done yet and went through Lockwood for several more miles totaling 33 miles for the day. I had plenty of energy to install a closet door when I got back home. We went to Chuck-E-Cheese's afterwords with the girls. I don't think I'll ever have enough energy for that place. I'm tired just thinking about it.
Pictograph Caves State Park

I took Monday, Labor Day, off from riding and the family
and I drove out to Yellowstone by means of the Beartooth Highway. I'm sure Sarah will post more about that on our blog with pictures and such so I won't expound much on that. However, I will say that it was quite the experience to change a tire at 10,000 ft on top of the Beartooth Pass. I mean, if trees can't grow there, should I really be there in a front wheel drive sedan? It was an amazing drive though.

Today Mike and I went out for a cold, early morning ride after the long Labor Day weekend. As you can tell from my tone, I just wasn't feeling it this morning. We got back late from Yellowstone last night and it was overcast this morning so the sun never came out on our ride. We took it easy, I think he was feeling the same except he's never cold. We just did flats in town and if it weren't for our conversation while riding, I'd swear I was sleep pedaling. Anyway, I got to try out my new tires today and I really like them. The old tires were making me nervous. I haven't really tested them out with any real speed, hills, or corners yet. I'll just ease into it. We ended the ride at my house and Mike pedaled on to his car. As I pulled into the alley and looked down at my computer. It read 1999.6 miles. I couldn't leave it at that so I pedaled around the block to hit 2,000 miles. That's 2,000 miles on my road bike in a year and 3 months, about 1200 of that I put on this year, plus about 600 miles on my mountain bike. I never thought I'd enjoy riding this much.
2,000 miles

New Blog

While training this year for the MS ride, I have been blogging about my routine bike rides on my MS page but I think that will end as the MS ride has come to a close and the fundraising deadline is quickly approaching. I'm sure I'll be locked out of the site until I register for next year's ride so I thought I'd start up a new blog to share my experiences.

I have really enjoyed logging my bike rides. Sometimes nothing special happens. Sometimes I see extraordinary things. Sometimes I have find a new and exciting route. Sometimes I have an extreme or exhilarating experience. Sometimes I have a near miss where I think I'm going to die. Sometimes I just do something really stupid that makes me laugh and want to share with others.

My Mom asked the other day, after I did a 33 mile bike ride, "I thought you were done with the MS ride. Why are you still riding?" My answer, I guess its part of me now. As a kid and even in college I rollerbladed everywhere. If the destination was close enough, I would rather have bladed than drive. I enjoy the thrill of being able to go places by my own strength and will. I long dreamed about blading across the state of Idaho. I went out once and bladed up the front of the Shelley Butte and came down the side road. By the time I finished the hill I had thrown off so much rubber off my wheels that I could hardly skate anymore and had to struggle to get back into town where I could take my parents' car and drive home. Hence, I discovered that my passion of rollerblading had become hindered by the size and nature of the hard preformed rollerblade wheels. Moving on to New Jersey and then Montana, I found other obstacles preventing me from my favorite pastime.

It wasn't until my sister, Ashley, and wife, Sarah, convinced me to ride the MS ride in Utah that I discovered that I could realize my passion for hitting the open road with two inflatable tires rather that 8 hard rubber wheels. Between the road bike and the mountain bike, my options are almost limitless as I explore the country, going miles and miles powered only by my legs and drive (and sometimes gravity.)

So that is why I ride. I'll never be a great rider. I don't have the dedication to push myself beyond my limits to become faster and stronger. But I do have the desire to get out and go. For me its the experience that matters.