Recent Bike Activity

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spring Underway - April 06

Cabbage planted in January along with the mystery plant I planted in the germination station from an unmarked bag of seeds.

Beautiful poppies planted by Teta

Broccoli planted in January along with zucchini planted today.

Tomatoes grown from seed planted today.

Beets planted in January along with zucchini grown from seed.

Another shot of the tomatoes.

Another shot of the beets.
Germination station...I planted three more tomatoes today.  Remarkable how the large containers grow better tomatoes.


Last shot of baby zucchini.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Winter Gardening 1-7-2012

Back at it...trying to write something every weekend and just use the blog to track initiatives.

Resumed gardening yesterday, fall was so busy with teaching the astronomy class and different weekend commitments that I pretty much abandoned the garden around September 01.  Activities included some new vegetables.

Mysterious Animal Digging

Beets in the East Planter

Cabbage in the West Planter

Broccoli in the Center Planter 

 I also added two loads of our compost to the garden.  One to the tomato area and the other in the box under the pomegranate tree, and purchased and placed a bag of chicken manure in each box.  I probably did not adequately mix the manure into the garden...we'll see.

Other observations include:

1) I have at least three potatoes growing from past potatoes.
2) There are also two or three green onions growing.

Finally, one of my greatest enjoyments is the freshly-squeezed orange juice following our regular Sunday mountain bike ride.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

It's all about the Saddle Time

In the interest of science, I set out to examine the ubiquitous biking guidance that one needs 10 hours of week of riding to really become faster and stronger.  OK, I didn't really set out to prove to prove anything, but in a year of riding I think I have proven that three to four hours per week does not make one either faster or stronger, and when I compare my times to a previous time of relatively intense riding (seven to eight hours per week), I demonstrate that, just as expected, improved times come from more saddle time.

Numerous websites recommend 10 hours per week of training in order for the average individual to improve in fitness.

Using Strava, I recently downloaded the data on two of my most frequent ride over the last few months...an uphill 1.5 mile Cat 3 trail called Space Mountain, and a 1.4 mile descent called Rosewood.  I chart my average miles per hour on each ride below.  I also chart my speeds from rides back in 2008 recorded on my Garmin GPS when I was training for a Century on a road bike.  Those times are shown as the green line, with the dates shown not consistent with the actual dates.

Improving Downhills, but Uphill Speed Stays Stagnant Compared to 2008 Century Training

 In looking at the data, I maintained stagnant times on the uphills on Space Mountain, while improving my downhill times.  Meanwhile, examining the century training times, I made very dramatic improvements in speed over the five month period I was riding with more intensity.

Again, riding time over the past year...3-4 hours per week.  Riding time when preparing for the century...7-8 hours per week.  Obviously, time in the saddle is the difference.

Next blog posting...I change up the goals!


Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Breezer, Copenhagen and n+1



I'll probably ride around 1,700 miles this year, with the miles split evenly between recreational riding and commuting/running errands.

Regarding commuting, I've tried just about everything since I started commuting in 2000.  I've ridden mountain bikes, a road bike, and a single speed.  I commute for five to seven miles, depending on what route I take based upon my level of acceptable risk in getting run over on a particular day.  

In 2008, I had my biggest year ever for biking.  Motivated by my brother-in-law's invitation to bike the Solvang Century that year, I biked nearly 1,000 miles in January and February alone, and continued a pretty rigorous commute and 40 mile weekend ride throughout the year.  

During that year, my commutes were bat-out-of-hell crazy. I had a new carbon fiber road bike, and I'd push as much as I could every time and track every ride for speed.  In the morning, I'd end up at work sweating up a storm and would have to take a shower every day after cooling down for 30 minutes.  Even with stoplights and having to ride cautiously because of road conditions at times, I'd average 18 miles per hour door to door on those commute trips.

Although my daily time-trials felt kind of awesome, I started wondering about my efficiency.  On a good day, although the ride would only take 10 minutes longer by bike than car, the showering at work and packing (and sometimes forgetting) clothes everyday became a burden.  Additionally, I'd occasionally want to stop by a grocery store on the way home, and walking through the store with the clips on would be at best cumbersome.  Finally, I'd often forget to charge my bike-light battery, and either ride home in the dark or hang around work until it charged.

So, I started thinking about what it would take to have a regular Copenhagen-type bike...a bike that I'd really be using instead of a car to do some shopping and go to work.

Copenhagen
I decided on the Breezer Uptown 8, after a bit of serious research.  The Breezer has a built-in generator for the light, an internal hub, and a cheesy chain guard that really does keep my pant legs out of the chain.  I paid about $1,300 for the bike back in 2008, although I understand the bikes can now be had for about $900 now.

Breezer Uptown 8
Quite frankly, I love the Breezer.  In addition to improving my commute in the ways listed above, I have realized that the upright position of the commuter bike really does feel safer, anyway, when commuting, and it seems that the car drivers are a little more accepting of me when I'm upright and in work clothes than when I'm in spandex and in the road bike posture.

Bike Headquarters
I'll conclude with http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/

Rule #
12
 // The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.
While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.

Indeed, I still love my other bikes, and I'm working towards s-1.

The Correct Number of Bikes?

Breezer at the Office after Lunch Shopping at Trader Joes

There's a 1/2 Gallon of Milk in There

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Consequences of our Actions

Today's harvest, but potatoes were planted last spring

I posted in the past about my delightful winter potatoes.  I last planted potatoes in the spring, but apparently missed a few when harvesting, which then generated more potatoes in a fantastic perpetual potato cycle.  Seems as if the consequence of being a poorly-skilled potato harvester leads to nice consequences of new potatoes.

As I performed my other Saturday chores today, however, I thought about how my big project of the day resulted from a different set of consequences, which can also be tracked back to my actions.

About four years ago, we drove to a shelter with the intention of bringing home a kitten, only to find out on arrival that there were no kittens.  Apparently, kittens follow some kind of a semiannual birthing cycle, and we were off cycle.  In a cage, however, there was a friendly cat, estimated to be less than a year old, with big eyes and a hopeful look who was, according to a tag on her cage, on some kind of medical hold.

We asked the shelter personnel about her, and learned that she was found abandoned with a broken pelvis, probably a victim of a car accident.  The shelter personnel were pleased that we were interested in her, and offered her for immediate release if we wanted her.  We, of course, took her home.

Top 'O the morning to ya
The first few months were great.  Tansy adapted to our house quickly, and won favor in my wife's heart as her amenable disposition permitted such awesome things as donning leprechaun hats at St. Patrick's Day (Wife's unmarried name is Murphy, incidentally.)

Maybe 18 months after the adoption, however, trouble struck.  Our house needed some painting and some other improvements, and we connected with another soul with a friendly disposition and a hopeful look.  A man named Jose Morales was doing some other work in the neighborhood.  We were quickly won over by his confidence and willingness to please, and struck a deal for painting the house, and then laying flooring, and then redoing the stair treads and landing (shown below).

Working with Jose was a bit trying.  His "crew" consisting of himself and two others would regularly not show up for work, his workmanship was a little off, and he'd often have to borrow a tool from me.  Jose's charm, honesty, and passion to please made up for his organizational shortcomings, however, and the work did managed to progress on a good although unsteady pace.

Jose also tended to underbid all of the work.  As we progressed into different phases of the project, he'd provide a quotation, I'd say I need competing quote, and he'd steadily knock his price down until I'd just give up and let him do the work.  He'd conclude these sessions with, "I'll make you very happy, Mr. Ryan", and he'd really mean it.

One of these pricing sessions included the baseboard, and as it turns out he bid the cheapest baseboard type, which is prefinished pressboard.  I wasn't all that happy with the choice, and could have renegotiated, but in the end, I agreed to go with the pressboard even though it is cheap and definitely not intended for areas that can get wet.  "How could it get wet?", I thought.

Well, guess what...the disturbance in the household set off some psychotic reaction in the cat, and, next thing you know (as the house is finished and looking brand-new), she's peeing on the baseboards.

For a couple of years now, we're in another perpetual cycle like the potato cycle, but it's perpetual pee.  Cat's favorite place is the corner of the landing below.

Landing after baseboard was removed


What happens when pressboard sits in a pool of cat pee and cleaner

After just two years of this, I have to replace the molding, and do so today, and I think about consequences.  We brought a traumatized cat home, then remodeled the house while including cheap baseboard, which traumatized the cat, which ruined the baseboards, wrapping up everything in a neat little cat-bow (of a pet costume).  Even though she really doesn't look traumatized.

She's really not that fat!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Look Ma, No Shifters

New-ish mountain bike is in the shop having the front shock rebuilt, so wife and I did an easy ride to the beach.

Artsy Photo 
With Sun at my Back

Easy, except I had converted my old mountain bike to a single speed (using the existing big front gear), and the ride to the beach involves a one mile, 800 ft. decent and then ascent, with stretches regularly exceeding 15%.


I converted the bike in a bit of new-bike delirium, not even considering that I'd want the bike as a potential spare.  I do like the set-up (single-speed + panniers) for quick trips to the store, but it's obviously no longer suited to make steep climbs.

I barely had the strength to make the climb, as I not only had to be out of the saddle, but also had to force the pedal down while using the handlebars as leverage as there was not enough mechanical advantage to pedal up the hill with my weight only.  Yet, I made the climb without putting a foot down.

Success!
In the end, the experience was exhilarating.  I'm definitely looking forward to having the new bike back, but I also proved to myself that I don't need an expensive bike to get out and pedal 20 miles and even do some serious climbing.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Six Things I Think I Think about Gardening (in January)

With apologies to Sports Illustrated writer Peter King for stealing his format (and stealing his format without being all that insightful)

Bright Sunshiny Day


1) I despise my neighbor's trees -- I live in Ventura County, where millions of dollars of produce is grown during the winter supplying groceries to families all across the nation.  And guess what...you never see a row of cypress trees next to the farm land.  Imagine the great winter veggies I would have without those cursed trees!

I Can Get a Lunch out of This


2) Winter gardening is better than no gardening, however -- Even with the neighbor's trees, I'm still able to pick a few things about every other week.  That's swiss chard, green onions, potatoes, and some tiny broccoli.

One Just Never Knows
3) The surprises can be delightful in the winter -- Tough to see everything here, but I'm showing a potato plant in the nearer box, and some green onions in the farther box.  The potatoes were planted in the spring, and harvested, but I apparently left a few potatoes, which, guess what, turned into more potatoes in a wonderful cycle of infinite potato production.  Regarding the green onions, those were also planted in the spring, but were overtaken and forgotten by my zucchini growing zeal.  Once the zucchini vine died off...voila!...green onions!

Hmmmm
4) The anticipation (and planning) in winter is intoxicating -- I have been digging lilies out of this side bed for months now.  Although there are some sunshine issues on top of what I note above, I'm still thinking I could get another productive bed in there.

How Much is THIS Worth?

5) Veggie growing doesn't save me money, but it does -- Although I don't keep meticulous records...OK, so I don't keep any records at all, I cannot imagine that my total harvest in groceries per year equals what I end up spending in soil amendments, tools, flats of plants (when my seeds are not working out), and raised bed materials.  However, my hobby results in food that I really enjoy eating, and that eating supplants some of my indulgences like going out for lunch too often or eating Trader Joe's Mac and Cheese.  I would imagine that it will also save me some cholesterol medication in the future, also.

Mom with Cake Balls
6)  Shared Experiences with Mom -- I think that most guys, when they get to their late 40's, kind of run out of things to discuss with their mom, unless they are either into water aerobics or quilting.  Imagine my surprise and delight, to find out that mom knows  gardening.  I guess I should have known, as mom grew up on a farm that supplemented their diet with fresh-grown veggies, and as we were always rototilling up lawn for gardens as a child, but still, when mom pointed out what was eating my broccoli (cabbage moths) and that I didn't have enough corn planted (four stalks) to effectively grow corn, it was like I had a whole world of discussion topics open to me.  Thanks to the garden for opening a line of great conversations with mom!