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Archive for April, 2007

Cycling karma; soaring with turkey vultures

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Jett has a post on his Atlanta Intown Cycling blog entitled “Cycling Karma,” where he posted a serene photo of Winn Park he hopes will make others feel good as well. I’m going to do the same thing here with a few photos; I hope he doesn’t mind my appropriating his term.

Monday night, I rode a modified version of the Water Works ride, adding a jaunt down Shady Side Drive and the Moore’s Creek Road section. There were strong winds, giving me a tailwind on my way out, making the rolling hills a lot of fun — I rode most of the way out in the big chain ring. When I got to the water works plant, I checked my bike computer and saw that I had averaged 18.2 mph to that point … Woah! That’s unheard of, for me.

I took a brief break and rode down Shady Side Drive, where Sarah and I had gone on a drive. It was better than going down the adjacent road to the recreation area, as it doesn’t involve going down a huge hill, turning around, and climbing back up that huge hill. Instead, there are several more gentle hills. It didn’t add a lot of mileage to the ride, but it was a fun extension. I took a few photos of some of the great views.

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View of Lake Monroe from Shady Side Drive

Of course, on my way home, that tailwind became a headwind, and it was quite a struggle at times. It was a great workout, though, which I badly needed. Riding the Moore’s Creek Road section was fantastic. I accelerated as I approached the hill, and picked up more and more speed. I did a little braking that I probably didn’t need to do, but I’m still gaining confidence. As I coasted downhill, my eyes watered, and tears started streaming from my eyes. Tears weren’t streaming down my face so much as straight back due to the wind at high speed. I even experienced that weightless-stomach feeling that you get sometimes in a car, almost as if I was about to take off in flight. It felt like I was no longer riding on the road — I was floating above it. I stopped by the lake to rest again and take a few more photos.

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A great place to rest before a big climb.

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Another part of the view, without the bike

What comes down must go up (right?) so I had a climb ahead of me. I took it slow and steady and made it all the way up without stopping. It’s a long climb, with a pretty long steep section, so it felt great to make it all the way up. The rest of my ride was still tough, due to the wind, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Last night, I rode Mount Gilead Road, and as I came around a turn, I saw two turkey vultures feeding on some roadkill. I kept my speed, and they let me get a lot closer than I expected before they took off. They flew into the air, and I stood up out of the saddle and was able to stay with them for a couple hundred yards, until they turned around and went back to finish their meal. Turkey vultures may be ugly up close, but the way they soar can be awesome — especially when you get to soar with them from only 20 feet away.

I got a photo of the old couple I routinely see walking during my commute yesterday morning. It’s not the greatest photo, but you can see her smiling and him waving (sort of).

Something to aspire to
Something to aspire to

I was running a little late this morning and didn’t see them. I guess they’re more consistent with their walking time than I am getting to work.

Commutes

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

Yesterday’s commutes were pretty uneventful, but great. On my way to work, I saw an old couple walking in the opposite direction and realized I see them almost every morning. They don’t move very fast, but they still walk together every morning, and they really seemed to enjoy it. I am not really a “good morning” kind of guy; I’m not a morning person in the least, and I always dread getting up. Mornings are almost inherently not good, to me. However, riding to work on a beautiful morning and seeing that old couple, arm in arm, I couldn’t help myself. I said “good morning” to them as I rode by. They reminded me a bit of my grandparents, who took walks together for as long as they could, and I certainly hope that someday Sarah and I will walk together like that. I arrived at work with a dumb grin on my face.

My commute this morning was good, too, pretty similar to yesterday’s. I saw the same old couple again, and once again wished them a good morning. I could see them smile back at me. I had tried to get a photo of the old couple yesterday morning, but it didn’t turn out too well. I tried again this morning, but I think I missed again. I might have to stop and take their photo sometime if they’ll let me, but I feel a candid shot would be better, if I can get one.

I had one incident with a motorist this morning. I was riding on 7th Street, which goes through campus and is a two-lane, fairly low-traffic street with several stop signs. There was a pickup truck behind me that tried to pass me a couple of times, but there wasn’t room to pass. I was riding outside the “door zone” in case someone in a parked car opened their door. The guy in the truck behind me was clearly getting impatient, even trying to pass me within about 10 feet of a stop sign.

When he failed to pass me at that stop sign, the guy in the truck laid on his horn and yelled something at me that I couldn’t understand.  I had had enough;I wasn’t about to ride in the door zone, especially since there still wouldn’t have been enough room for him to pass me. So instead, I took the lane. It felt great to show this truck driver I wasn’t going to take his crap, and simultaneously assert my right to ride on the road and look out for my safety (and really, the safety of others; if the guy had tried to pass me with oncoming traffic, an accident surely would have resulted). When I reached the stoplight at Walnut Street, the light was red, and I turned around and stared down the truck driver. I wish I could have explained to him the safety reasons behind the way I was riding, but there wouldn’t have been time, and I don’t think he would have cared anyway.

Our Food Plan

Friday, April 13th, 2007

Sarah and I have started a diet … or, as we call it, a “food plan” or simply “plan.” We feel that calling it a diet would doom it to failure, so we don’t use that word. We don’t believe in fad diets or those that involve systematically depriving your body of nutrients, so we’re doing this the old-fashioned way: eating less, eating healthier food, and hopefully, burning more calories than we consume. We’re also not interested in losing a bunch of weight quickly, only to gain it back immediately — so we are going a slow and steady route, and hopefully we can make this sustainable.

Unfortunately, it’s been another low-cycling-mileage week for me due to the weather, so I’m not burning as many calories. Hopefully, it’ll be nicer next week and I can ride more.

Anyway, I attended another Microsoft workshop yesterday in Indianapolis, this one about ASP.NET AJAX and SQL Server 2005. There was a keynote, then two of the three sessions, then lunch. When they started bringing in lunch, I almost died. They hauled in probably 20 pizzas and put them in stacks on a table. Talk about cruel! I ate only salad, and was thankful they had that option, but watching them bring in 20 pizzas and then watching others eat platefuls of pizza, then cookies, was really tough. But I stuck with it.

By the time I got home, I felt horrible. I had a terrible headache, and my stomach was upset. I thought about going to bed immediately, but I knew I needed to eat something. In a strange sequence of events, we ended up ordering pizza, but only getting one thin-crust veggie pizza, which was probably a bit more than we should’ve eaten, but still, we ate a lot less than we normally would have. I still felt terrible, and took a nap. A few hours later, I felt better. I’m hoping it was a lack of sleep that made me feel so terrible, and not having less to eat.

This is the first time I’ve attempted a diet, so I’m not sure how this is going to go. I haven’t even tracked my weight so far, which I should probably do. I do know that small snacks throughout the day seem to help, and I forgot to bring something like that for today. If anyone has any tips, they’d be appreciated.

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