It's a new year and time once again to give a new look to this blog. New graphics and colors. Same bike writer!

This blog is created not only to track my own progress on my biking journey but it is intended to also assist others who have either osteo or rheumatoid arthritis or both like I do. I hope as you read about the progress I have made that it gives you inspiration and hope that you can overcome the dibilitating effects of these conditions.

If your doctor agrees that you should be capable of expanding your limits read on and don't be afraid, just listen to your body and give it challenges. Biking is a great non-impact form of exercise and greatly enhances flexibility and range of motion.

It's not a substitute for Doctor visits, taking your meds or otherwise getting off your health plan but it auguments what your Doctor does for you and can give you a better quality of life. Go for it!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Puerto Rico On My Bike - Next, The World

The DVD arrived this morning so I popped it in for today's trainer session.  I like it.  I was only into the DVD for 25 minutes, so I was able to review just a portion of it.  I enjoyed what I saw.  The run time on this is 116 minutes so it's a bit longer than the Pacific Coast California DVD.  The scenery is interesting, the music is ok, it was appropriate for the venue and had a salsa flair so the tempo was quicker and I noticed that my cadence was stepped up so that's a good thing.  I don't have a cadence meter on either of my bikes,. nor a heart rate monitor, but I can see where I'm going with all of this, one thing sorta leads to another.  Still considering an iPod too.  I've never had one or the desire to have one before but I can see where music plays a role in exercise.  Years ago I used to work out to Donna Summers and Carly Simon and the "I Am Woman"  and "Last Dance" songs were powerful motivators to step up the intensity of my workout.  These videos are filmed with a dash mounted camera in a car and the driving was a tad bit faster than the other video.

Still, it is realistic enough to get caught up in and lose yourself in the experience.  With temperatures hovering in the single digits for the last few days, wandering through the streets and narrow cobblestone paths through Old San Juan, forests and along the beach in a tropical climate is a good thing.  I've never really visited Puerto Rico before, I've flown in and made a stop at the airport terminal, loaded onto a bus and was whisked to the seaside terminal to board a cruise ship and followed that routine in reverse to get home.  Spending a brief hour ferrying back and forth for travel is hardly a vacation to  some place and with this video it makes me want to spend a few days there exploring.

I think we all suffer from the same "build-on" syndrome where we get interested in one new thing and it spurs us onto delving deeper into what we find is a whole new sub-culture.  One video leads to another for variety sake, of course, then that leads to more research on the subject and a whole new world opens up.  Spinnervels, hard core workouts, EpicRides Virtual Cycling, journeys across the globe, and working yourself into a quivering mass of jello, it's endless.  Or so it seems.  So I've succumbed and order two more videos, one more from Bike O Vision, for a sampler of Europe and that should satisfy the explorer in me whilst spinning in my living room vicariously.  Maybe.  They have a whole library of videos of all the popular tourist destinations in the USA, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, California Wine Country, Sequoia National Park and I could go on an on, I believe their full complement is more than two dozen videos.

The other is an introduction to indoor spinning in a group setting with a coach from the Spinnervals series.    That one satisfies the devil in me that wants to be surrounded by other sufferers while I sweat away on my bike on a trainer spinning to nowhere in the comfort of my living room.  Again here is a whole new set of dozens of videos they offer.  Oh yes, then there is the EpicRides series which is similar to the training theme of the Spinnvervals in intensity, but it takes place outdoors (in equally epic and highly desirable tourist locals) and there are also on screen displays of cadence (which you should be striving to match), power output, an insert display of the course map you are following and more.  The thing I like about the Spinnervals and the EpicRides is that you are with other cyclists.  That's one thing I miss with the Bike-O-Vision tourist type of videos.  In those you see other cars and an occasional person but I've yet to come cross another bicyclist.  

A plan is beginning coalesce and I'm approaching this with a strategy somewhat similar to my outdoor riding.  Some rides are for exploring new places, some rides are for enjoying the sport with other people and some rides are for all-out-flat-out work-outs.  I first approached this to use my winter season on the trainer to keep up my fitness level, keep up on my legs and keep my butt accustomed to the saddle.  That was my primary purpose of using one, but now I want more.  I want to be able to work on endurance and climbing during the winter season and hopefully make an impact on my riding next year.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Quick Video Update

I've been through the entire video and one of the sections a second time.  So far so good, I am looking forward to the one taken in Puerto Rico for some change up and considering that I do enjoy them so far I plan to order one or two more to mix it up.  I find I have been day dreaming of the one trip I took to California and the video makes me want to go back.  The Pacific is gorgeous.  I live in the Great Lakes State surrounded by mini fresh water oceans and the views are dynamic, beautiful and mesmerizing, however the call to the Pacific Coast is strong right now. Considering the light snowfall we had overnight and it's white covering, that call is sounding pretty nice right now.  

The trip I took was in the late 80's and I visited San Francisco, Napa Valley, Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur. The trip was part of the Monterey Wine Festival and was sponsored in part by the National Restaurant Association.  This was during my days of owning the restaurant and going on that trip was an incredible treat.  It was a memorable and one of a kind vacation.  While there I had a flight in a hot air balloon over Napa Valley.  That was AMAZING.  California is a great place to vacation, along with the usual tourist must see spots I also spent time exploring the coast and really enjoyed stopping on the roadside to explore tide pools and all the varied creatures found in them.  I'm going to see if I can dig up some photos of that balloon flight.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

Riding To A Video - A Review

Fresh off the trainer having viewed my new video "California's Pacific Coast Highway" by Bike O Vision Cycling Journey's series here are my impressions and thoughts.

I liked it.  I rode the trainer for 20 minutes and it's the first time I didn't reach inside my bike basket for the timer to see how much time was left until I only had 5 minutes left.  That's a record.  Really the only reason I looked was to determine if there was enough time remaining to bother getting off and turning on the fan because I forgot to before I got on the trainer and I was working up a little sweat.  Even while watching something on TV I usually go to the timer several times in a session to see how much time is left.

The video - the first section was flatter scenery than what I experienced when I drove a portion of the coast. After I finished my session I flipped through the chapters and saw that indeed much of the rest of it was viewing the high cliffs I remembered along the Pacific coast.  The part I recall most about my drive was the section between Carmel and Big Sur and also north from San Francisco to Napa  The quality of the video was good, the music was ho-hum and if it really mattered or I felt like I needed more motivation I would mute the sound and kick out my own tunes.  However I don't have an iPod or other such device and I'm not sure I'd want to blast out tunes that would be motivating through the stereo which isn't close enough to plug in headphones.

The experience - that pleasantly surprised me the most.  I wasn't expecting a lot, after all it is an indoor trainer and it is a DVD on TV.  Neither of which gets me excited.  I found that the speed of the video was  faster than what I ride, however it was realistic enough.  Just into the video a bit there was a section where sand had blown across the road and I'm not sure if it was me, the DVD player, the video or what, but I felt it slip a bit.  It sounds silly, it was almost imperceptible but I felt it none the less, or I have a vivid imagination.  That imagination is so vivid that when I saw sections of the road in subsequent minutes that were sand covered most sections of the road, I got apprehensive and gripped the hand grips tighter.  Again, not sure if it's just me but it felt like the video slowed a bit on inclines and gained speed on descents   I know I pedaled like made during the flat straight stretches. The video is 90 minutes and with my normal sessions being either 20 or 30 minutes it's going to take a few rides to explore it all and I really look forward to it.

All in all, I'd recommend this to others.  It is relatively inexpensive at Amazon or other places on the web and it makes a torturous exercise a bit more pleasant.  I also ordered another one from them on Pureto Rico, however that was on back-order and just shipped a day ago.  I'll post a review of that one when I get to try it out.

Click here for a link to view it at Amazon (full disclosure, I am in no way affiliated with the creators of this video or Amazon)

Have you had any experience with training DVD's and what did and didn't you like about them?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Guest Post by Rachel Ruhlen "My Early Days of Bicycling"

Today I am bringing a guest poster to this blog.  I know Rachel from a biking forum that I frequent for all things bicycle related from a woman's perspective known as Team Estrogen.  A link to that site is on the right hand navigation bar of this site under Bicycling Links of Interest.  I found my way to an article that she wrote for the Kirksville Daily Express via that forum and wanted to share this with my readers.  The article is about the joys of biking for a beginner and the use of a bicycle as a means of transportation.

Background information about Rachel is that she uses her bicycle for transportation to her job at A.T. Still University as a Research Assistant Professor   She does biomedical research and her current research program is the prevention of osteoarthritis.  In her spare time, in addition to enjoying cycling she writes a blog for the Kirksville Daily Express' online publication and occasionally in their print edition also.

Here is a transcript of the article from the Kirksville Daily Express and a link to this article;

  My early days of bicycling
by Rachel Ruhlen

In 2005, the first year I almost exclusively bicycled for transportation, I found myself riding home in the dark more than once. That didn't bother me, except for one street that was narrow, bordered on both sides by steep drop-offs of 100 feet or more with intermittent guard rails, and completely unlit.

In those early days, I biked on the sidewalk because I thought that’s where you were supposed to ride a bike. It snowed the week of Thanksgiving and I navigated the slushy roads and sidewalks until I got to that very dark stretch. I was scared that I might slip on the slush and fall off the precipice into the creek far below, so I took to the street.

That weekend a drunk driver lost control, drove over the sidewalk, crashed through the flimsy rail, flew over the precipice, and collided with a tree. Between the broken rail and the memorial flowers stapled to the tree I was even more scared to bike that segment in the dark. So I got my first set of bike lights.
I thought the lights were entirely inadequate because they failed to light up the street sufficiently for me to see. That’s when I learned that the most important purpose of bike lights is not for me to see the street, but to make me visible to other vehicles.

It’s hard to believe now that I was once so stupid as to ride in the dark without lights, and that I thought lights were only necessary if I couldn't see my path. It’s good to tell this story, and remind everyone that when it comes to bicycles, nearly everyone is inexperienced. We make mistakes. Bicyclists ride on sidewalks and without lights because they don’t know better. Motorists make mistakes like right hooks and left hooks and insufficient passing distance because they don’t know better. We become experienced, and we learn how to bike with traffic and how to drive around bicycles.

With experience, I learned about bike lights and sidewalks and assertive lane position, and then I took Traffic Skills 101 which confirmed what I’d learned and taught me much more. As more people bicycle, motorists and bicyclists will gain experience. I was lucky, and learned my lessons without injury. I hope my articles will help many bicyclists and motorists learn these same lessons without injury.

"My bicycle is our second car. I love to bicycle in all weather, for all distances, and on all routes. Bicycling has brought so much joy to my life, and I want to share it with anyone who is interested. I will use my soapbox to tell you about the joys, the freedom, the benefits, and, yes, the challenges of bicycling and walking for transportation." Rachel Ruhlen


I'm inviting readers to share their first experiences and being new to bicycling.  What was it like for you?
For me I learned right off that yes you never forget how to ride a bike but after years of absence it doesn't mean that you pick right back up from where you left off.  Years of being away affected my balance and handling skills.  It came back quickly but not before a few tumbles and close encounters.  What came back immediately was the joy and freedom that riding a bike gives you.  That and an ear to ear grin.  The way I help to keep it fresh is by always looking for new trails and places to explore.

Whether you have just recently learned to ride a bike or if you made your way back to bicycling after and absence, what was it like for you? What things did you learn right off? What do you do to capture that feeling of exhilaration that we all get from our fist encounters with bicycling?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 12 and it's 58 F

 Another spring like day drove me out to Island Lake State Park, along with dozens of bike riders and outdoor enthusiasts.  I rode today from Dodge Park Unit #1 to the trail head via the roads in the park and hopped on the trail at the trail head parking lot, the photo to the right in the pines is in a section that I have dubbed "The Cathederal" and it ends at the Riverbend site where I joined back up for my return ride.  The site is aptly named for a big bend in the river, pictured above.

All in all it was a great day to be outdoors and I passed and was passed by scores of happy cyclists.  After the ride I loaded up my bike and took a cruise through Kensington across the freeway and there were scores of more bikers and walkers.

It's a rare treat this time of year and from the looks of the thermometer forecast I'll be back to the trainer next week.  I ordered a video to view while riding the trainer and will post a critique when it arrives, it should be some time next week.  I spent an hour in the saddle and covered a bit over 8 and a half miles.  In total I was outdoors for far longer than that, however with stops for photography and just plain horsing around it was closer to two hours.  Whereas yesterday I felt fatigued quickly, today I found that I was good to go.  From just a day of outdoor riding yesterday I could already feel more stamina today and hills were not as hard to conquer.

Just a couple of weeks ago the park entrance looked like this after we had our first big snowfall of the year!

My next post on this blog won't be from me but I have a Guest Poster who wrote a blog post on the subject of "What it was like to be new to riding."  Stay tuned!

Friday, January 11, 2013

First Outdoor Ride of the New Year - 2013

Unseasonable warm weather had me put aside the trainer today to take advantage of an opportunity for an outdoor ride.  Sporting my new helmet, which was a Christmas gift, I took to the roads at Kensington Metropark.  I caught a late day lighting up of some oaks with their remnants of leaves near the end of my ride.

Even though I've been using the trainer, it's amazing how out of shape a person gets without riding on the roads.  Nothing like a little wind and hills to slow a person down.  It took me over a half hour of riding time to make it just over 4 and a quarter miles.  Of course I did pick the most horrendous hilly section with THAT HILL in it.  I felt like a sloth!  I normally don't ride the roads at Kensington, preferring the bike path, but the path was snow/ice covered in spots.

Having toured through the park after our first big snowfall I saw that the path was cleared, it looked as though it had been plowed so I assumed that the whole path would be open and free of snow or ice.  That is not the case.  I would expect that after today's temps in the 50's and our overnight lows in the 40's and tomorrow's mid 60's temps that the path may just be completely cleared.  I guess I'll find out because with weather like that in January in Michigan you can be sure to find me outdoors riding tomorrow.  I bet the park will be packed.  We've got a real January thaw going.