Practices & Products for Painful Pedaling

I’ve been grousing about a body part that’s been plaguing me for a while. It was an issue in the past, but cropped up recently again toward the end of bicycling 500 days in a row (which I’ve pushed past — for now). Also, I’m no spring chicken anymore, although I often think I am. Most of the points I wanted to mention were already included in my post After the Fall: What to Do When You Come Off Your Bicycle, But that was November of 2019, so some updates are worth noting. Let’s dive right in. There’s water in the pool, so it’ll be painless, I promise!

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Book Review: HEFT ON WHEELS by Mike Magnuson

Courage is a word you could use to describe bicycling, especially the urban kind I do wherein one risks one’s life while several-ton killing machines blow by at high speeds mere inches away. Or bike racing, BMX riding with the ramps and jumps and tricks, or screaming down a mountain on a bike: all take some degree of courage. But writing? It doesn’t take any courage at all to sit down at a laptop and start hammering away, right? Well, that’s easy to say if you haven’t tried to write a book. And when it comes to memoir, laying your soul bare to people you never have, and never will meet, takes a big chunk of gumption.

I should know, because I’ve been writing this blog for over five years, albeit with far less courage since I use a nom de plume / velo. I have also written a book — a memoir. I have yet to find the courage to even show it to others to read. (I’m getting close to sharing with beta readers, once I figure out the details, having finally just found two awesome volunteers.) But in Heft on Wheels: A Field Guide to Doing a 180, his 2005 memoir (I know, I’m very late to the party), author, creative writing professor, magazine article writer, and cyclist Mike Magnuson has courage in spades. (Heft is a follow-up to his previous memoir, Lummox.) As quoted in a speech he gave, I’d even go so far as to say he has “sixteen suitcases full of courage.”

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It’s Tapering Time: Biking Less Means Health Gains

Tapering means resting and recovering by biking less often, less distance, or less intensity. Usually the term is reserved for people are resting up before a big race, and if you’re a purist well, thanks for stopping by to point this out. As Kate McKinnon as Dr. Weknowdis said recently on Saturday Night Live, “We know dis.” I’m claiming the word because I’ve been riding my bike every damn day since October 11, 2019. (Only one of those rides to date was indoors on a trainer, during the pandemic by the way, to which fortunately I have not as yet succumbed.) If you want to read an article with technical information, this is not it. But if you do want something a bit more science-y, go look at Bike Radar for one that is. Anyway, I’m tired. While I’ll never truly get tired of riding a bicycle, there is a time to taper. Call it reducing, resting or whatever you want, but as 2020 ends, that time for me is now. Maybe you too?

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After the Fall: What to Do When You Come Off Your Bicycle

Crash, wreck, accident – these words all conjure up unpleasant images. That’s because falling off your bike can really, Really, REALLY hurt. A saying in bicycling goes “It’s not a matter of if you’re going to fall, it’s when.” I’ve had one fairly serious incident, and a few minor mishaps. I’m thinking about this topic because I experienced one of the latter the other night. It was a relatively minor scrape (yes, a pun) with a weird, free-standing curb the other night. Here’s what happened and what I did that might be entertaining, educational or both. Yes, definitely both.

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Using Setbacks to Keep Moving Forward

Roadblocks happen and make you go in a different direction. Frequently, the efffing Force is just not with you, friend. Sometimes, schtuff simply happens. When life hands you lemonades, you’ve got two choices: Make lemonade or lie down in a corner drinking water. In other words, roll with the changes, or they’ll roll over you. You get the point. My thesis is that there’s only so much time and one person can only do so much, and doing your best sometimes mean stepping back.

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This Blog Post Is Tardy. Because, Fatigue.

I began writing this blog last night. But I just finished working a job that was thoroughly exhausting physically, mentally taxing, and emotionally stressful. I worked 400 hours in 11 weeks, driving over 2,700 miles in the process, enduring the hottest September on record, and numerous other challenges I won’t even get into. So yeah, I’m pretty bushed, and being late on a blog post is ok. Hopefully you’re not too tired to keep reading.

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Getting Back on the Bike After a Break: It’s Like Riding a You Know What

After the last month and more of too much work and especially of driving a car, I finally managed a day off. Fortunately, on Sunday nights there’s a group bike ride called Bike Curious, about which I’ve previously written. The ride itself is usually pretty mellow, but in this case we had a substitute leader who picked some roads that were a little dicey, hilly and sandy. Still, overall the streets flat and familiar and the pace was slow. It was a good way to ease back into biking. Today I’m a little sore and tired, but the hardest part was actually just getting myself out the door. If you’ve ever been in this situation you will relate to this post.

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Bike Curious? Here’s the Perfect Pedal for a Slow Sunday Cycle in Austin

Years ago, I was pedaling past the World War II era airplane hanger at Austin’s former Robert Mueller airport, which I recall flying into right over where I lived. (Not the recent special investigator.) Now, Mueller is the one-word name (like Bono, Prince, or Sting) for the new urban, high-density (and high-cost) neighborhood that now sits on the former airport. Back then, somehow I’d been able to rent a room in pretty new row house owned by a nice gentleman from Ethiopia. That’s another story.

I biked but not much. On that night, I found the ride quite by accident and joined in. It was fun and easy, but soon I went on my way and didn’t go back. Skip ahead many years in time to a couple of weeks ago, and I ran into a fellow rider at the grocery store, Jason. He reminded me about the ride, and since I was on a bike and curious about Bike Curious, I showed up. Needing a recovery ride from Saturday’s hot and tiring 45-mile Mamma Jamma training ride, I went again a second time. Lemme tell ya’ all about it.

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I Didn’t Ride My Bicycle Today, and I’m Okay With That

Returning readers recall relatively recent reflections recommending rest. After five days of riding my bike almost 90 miles, and knowing I would reach 100 miles last week, this weekend I did very little. My body, my left knee and quadricep muscle in particular, were very grateful. As usual I was having trouble getting myself going. So when a friend offered to come by and help with some errands in his car, I jumped, however gently, at the opportunity. Later, we went for a walk, and it got late. I could have forced myself to go put in some miles on the bicycle, but I did not. And it was glorious. Let me tell you.

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Give Yourself Permission to Just Do Nothing!

Thomas Merton was a Catholic monk born in France who moved to Kentucky. He wrote over 60 books, encouraged inter-religious dialog with the likes of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, and others and advocated for pacifism and social justice. He died in 1968 in his early 50’s when he accidentally was electrocuted stepping out of his shower where a running fan had fallen over. (Some say he was assassinated by the CIA.) While I’ve not read his work, I’ve seen this quote below before. And it seems more relevant than ever in 2019.

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