Random Thoughts from the Life of a Car-Free Bicyclist in Austin, Texas

Sometimes there’s no one unifying theme to a blog post, but even then, there is still a framework. Today, it’s that many factors affect my cycling, and also that there’s more to life than cycling. (Impossible, I can hear some of you saying!) Here are a few of those thoughts. As to whether they’re Deep Thoughts, you’d have to ask Jack Handy, which is an old Saturday Night Live skit. Basically he had short quotes that were inane, so I’m not claiming any wisdom. I am just sharing my experience in hopes it educates, inspires or at least amuses you as one of my millions of followers (any day now). Read on, it’ll be good, you’ll see. After all, I’m not The Dude, I’m just A Dude. And A Dude would never steer you wrong. That would be very un-Dude-like.

Old Advice from a Newtritionist

A nutritionist, who is a nice guy I have met with only once, called. He agreed I didn’t need a second appointment, so he emailed me an 1,800 calorie one-day menu. It has margarine, and flour, and some other stuff that doesn’t improve my diet. Not very helpful. In response, I emailed him a screen shot of my Sunday ride of 33 miles in which I burned 1,410 calories. Also I mentioned I biked 405 miles in three weeks, including that amount.

If my math is right, that is 824 calories a day, not including normal metabolism, walking around, plus my 30′ walk and my 30′ of yoga. Because the body needs energy to survive, following his plan, I would not have enough energy and be very hungry. Basically, his math literally does not compute. I told him as much and doubt we’ll continue working together. Any dietitian worth her/his salt (pun intended) would allow for adjusting upwards on heavy activity days. He claimed to be limited by the clinic.

I need to find someone with more advanced knowledge that is more tailored to my specific health issues, age, metabolism, exercise amounts, avoidance of flour, and so on. Plus I just have to keep trying to do better. Oh yeah, he’s overweight too, but nowhere near the fathlete I am. Weight is just one number. Blood sugar, resting heart rate, and so on are also important digits.

Biking is Part of My Life, but Not All of It

People who make money off bloggers by charging them for courses on how to be a better blogger and make money say you have to have very good content that people want and then stick to one main subject area. I’m sure that’s mostly true. And maybe someday I’ll be that person. One thing I like about my blog is that it is not so laser-focused that it’s only for one small population. I write about four main things:

  1. Biking – my personal journey and the people, places and ideas it brings me into contact with (e.g. bike activism, education, policy, etc.)
  2. Writing – my book I’m doing — a memoir of two years biking 10,000 miles — and this blog and the occasional author or writing event
  3. Health – including daily practices of walking and yoga as well as food
  4. Everything else – sometimes movies, music, or other popular culture, politics, racism, humor, things about Austin and more
Source: IMDB

For example, tonight I went to dinner and movie with a friend. It was The Hustle, if you’re curious — a retelling of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway in the lead roles originally played by Michael Caine and Steve Martin. (Although the first movie was itself a remake.) I enjoyed both, and yet in the back of my mind was the question, “How does this effect my biking”?

Well, eating lots of food before a big ride was maybe good in the sense of carbo-loading, which is a real science-y thing (look it up). I also got to rest up some since I only did about 8 miles this morning going on errands. Yet it took me away from watching the Tour de France, in whose story I tend to get very wrapped up and takes a long time. I’m behind already but hope to catch up and hope for no spoilers, but I’ll watch anyway. Socializing and getting away from biking is very important for sports psychology and physical longevity, actually.

Tour de France Is Not a Substitute for Biking

The Tour grinds on, and yet I can only watch so much before I have to go ride. But as I mentioned above, I still find it fascinating. The stories, strategies, personalities, countryside, and more are just like a Netflix sports show I binge-watch every July. There’s not much else to say about that, and if you enjoy it you know what I mean, and if you don’t get it, that’s OK. Only about 100 million people watch it around the world. Nothing like soccer.

I used to play soccer, and found myself glancing over my friend’s shoulder while at the restaurant with my friend. It was older games condensed and had many Spanish stars from the last World Cup. With the US Women’s Team winning the whole tournament recently, I was reminded that I bike and don’t run. I used to enjoy it but at some point stopped due to foot issues. I keep thinking the walking will turn into running, but it’s just too much pounding on my feet and old bones. Maybe someday if I drop some major weight first.

I’d love to swim but don’t have access to a free pool anymore. I also am not a big fan of being shirtless in public due to my shape (“Round is a shape,” said George Carlin). Certainly my dermatologist would agree to stay out of the sun and reduce my skin cancer exposure. But then my primary doctor would say get Vitamin D. That now is in the news as maybe you shouldn’t take supplements if you’ve been low in it. Back to that contradictory nutrition information. For now, I’m sticking with my regimen.

Lean Non-Mean Vegan Green Machine Gave Me Wings

I was on my way to the Thursday Night Social Ride, which I find somewhat irritating due to people riding recklessly. So it worked out that I didn’t go, because I met this rider whose name I’d seen in Strava. We were at a light and started chatting. I sort of interviewed him on the bike. And even mentioned my halting efforts to do profiles, and maybe he could be one. I won’t share his story now in case that ever happens, but it was interesting for sure.

During the 10 or so miles we rode together, my speed was up several miles per hour over my usual rate. That was pretty cool, but the fact that he was willing to ride slower than his usual rate to talk was even cooler. He called me brother as we parted, too. Maybe we’ll meet again. I hope so because many fast guys won’t give you the time of day unless you’re skinny and on a racing bike and neat kit them they are.

My Strava screen capture of a ride where I went faster when with another rider

Sleep, the Final Frontier

My Achilles heel is sufficient and good quality sleep, or the lack thereof. My Garmin vivoactiv HR (for heart rate) measures light and deep sleep. Some days I do better than others, but most days I require a nap. (If I lived in Spain, where I traveled one summer, it wouldn’t be so big a deal, because siesta is part of the culture.) A lot of why is scheduling and habit, but much is not under my control. Mostly it’s noise from neighbors, traffic and roommate. Sometimes ambulances, fireworks, even gun shots. There go several police sirens just now, right on cue.

Also health, bed quality, temperature, waiting for the hot part of the day to ride which moves dinner back and creates a second wind at the time I want to be winding down. Yeah, Austin, Texas heat has a lot to do with it. And in bike-related news, I should be sleeping now because I want to go on a group ride tomorrow. It’s earlier by an hour than the last one and I don’t know if I’ll have a ride there or will have to bike the six miles.

Commitment to write this blog doesn’t help, since I usually wait until after the activities of the day to have something to blog about, and it’s a quieter time to write. I do like mornings, just not getting up for them. So I have to figure it out. None of the natural supplements I’ve tried work well without a groggy hangover-type feeling. The stronger stuff has warnings like “YOU COULD DIE FROM COOKING IN YOUR SLEEP.” I don’t know the answer except to make a lot of money and buy a sound-proof house in the country. (which has its own noises.)

There could be a lot more thoughts but it’s time to put them to bed so this can be read. And maybe not even any photos until later Saturday. Happy reading, cycling, walking, yoga-ing, eating, sleeping, writing, or whatever voodoo that you do so well.

Town Lake bridge with sunset reflection in downtown Austin, Texas on a 26-mile ride

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11 thoughts on “Random Thoughts from the Life of a Car-Free Bicyclist in Austin, Texas

    1. That’s great, so jealous! Hope the weather stays good. Maybe in another life I’ll have better genes and someone will tell me I don’t have to give up the bike for a car. Texas. Watching the tour and doing a
      the miles I can in the heat. Thanks for reading while on your ride. Say hi to B. Did you see my email about his typo in a Strava note?


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