175 Miles: Reflections About Another Strong Week in My Cycling Journey

Biking 25 miles in one day can be challenging or easy depending on your abilities and how you feel. Then there’s the weather like wind, rain, cold or heat to contend with. Traffic can be very scary even if you’re used to riding in it. Also important are the quintessential questions that come up riding a bike like: what to wear, what to eat, where to go? I must have figured all that out because I managed to make it another seven days in a row for the 10th week. This past week I totaled 175 miles, which is huge – 25 miles a day if you’re counting. Or a mile for every hour of the week (168) plus seven. So what follows are some thoughts on my pretty stupendous week (or stupid, depending how you look at it; maybe it’s a little of both.)

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Photographs and Memories: A Weekend in the Biking Life in Austin, Texas

Like many people in the modern era who are privileged enough to have a smart phone, electricity and mobility, I take a lot of pictures. Some good, some not, a few great. Who’s to say, though? If you like them, great. If not, move along. Trouble is, I don’t use that photo platform named after your grandmother, so when I’m riding my bicycle and take a pic, it goes either here, on my Strava fitness app (follow me there if you’re a bikester) or doesn’t see the light of day. Occasionally I post a blog with a lot of photos and some words to explain them. This is one of those times. Enjoy the whole “picture paints a thousand words” thing, yada yada.

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Slow and Steady: Six Days of Strava Stats in October 2019

Over the last six days I’ve biked 112 miles, including my abbreviated, rainy-cold-windy birthday ride. I haven’t been very fast, but that’s always been true and is to be expected coming off of driving a car for work for the last while. It’s been an adjustment from having the luxury of a automobile to having to make the effort to get the legs going on the bicycle. Being in between jobs makes it far easier to find the time, although I frequently did 100+ miles per week with a full-time job. Cooler temperatures (on some days) have also helped. So if you’ve been in a similar spot, you probably know that it’s not easy. But is possible to get back in the groove. Remember the tortoise and the hare: fast and furious may be fun, but slow and steady wins the day.

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Dreaming in Daylight, Riding on a Rainy Night

“I awoke last night to the sound of thunder

How far off I sat and wondered

Started humming a song from 1962

Ain’t it funny how the night moves

When you just don’t seem to have as much to lose

Strange how the night moves….”

Night Moves by Bob Seger

He awoke this morning from a deep slumber, face down, lines engraved on his face from the pillow. The unemployed, aging cyclist trudged to the bathroom then back to bed for a much-needed snooze after another late night staring at screens. Before the alarm went off, something outside the drafty casita woke him for good this time, and gingerly, he rolled out of bed. Not ready to face the wind and likely rain on his bicycle, he texted a fellow attender of the weekly job club, pleading for a ride. The gangly and kindly grad student (who may or may not have been spying on him for his thesis) agreed.

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Do You Know Sun & Ski Sports Has a Great Bike Shop Inside?

Full service repair shop with well-trained techs.

Sun & Ski Sports has been one of A Dude Abikes’s go-to shops since he participated in the Mamma Jamma Ride to Beat Breast Cancer in 2015. A representative of the store was at a training ride and offered a really generous discount on repairs and parts for participants. I took him up on that and found that my old mechanic from a local shop was now was there.

So it felt like kismet, and they always treat me right, so I keep going back. In this post I’ll have some photos of the shop and let you know a few things about it. By the way, if this sounds like a commercial, it is not a sponsored post — I actually do shop here and believe in the store and everything I’ve written below. But hey, Sun & Ski, if you love this, let A Dude know!

Origins, Selection and Locations

Sun & Ski started in 1980 as Tennis & Ski as mostly a snow sports shop. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, and now with 30 stores from Colorado to Massachusetts, they have a wide selection. From bikes and accessories (sunbelt) and patio furniture (northeast), outdoor clothing, camping gear, swimwear, running apparel, Garmin, Go Pro and other technology, sunglasses, and lots more, you’ll find it. For the full selection, see www.SundandSki.com and here’s a full list of brands.

One of the benefits to shopping at Sun & Ski is that because of their size, they can get good pricing from suppliers. But unlike big box stores, they don’t carry every single sporting item under the sun. This combination of a good selection and good pricing makes them a better option for many items. I got a great pair of Vasquez hiking boots for my big trip up north in 2016. (See my blog post Mountain Time: Biking and Hiking the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming.)

Good Customer Service Really Is Important

Trent packing his pricing pistol… and his perpertually pleasant smile.

On top of selection and price is customer service. I’ve never had a bad experience at this store, at least not one I can remember. A few times when it was really busy, I’ve waited longer than I wanted, but that’s life. All the workers there are friendly and knowledgable. Nobody’s perfect, but they do their best to do a good job and often go above and beyond.

Mike the bike shop manager takes time to explain any issues. He’ll make suggestions on what my options are for either parts, repairs or accessories knowing that I’m on a low budget. If he thinks I can save money by buying the part and fixing something myself, he’ll tell me. And sometimes I do go to Austin Yellow Bike Project. But usually I’d rather have a pro do it. This is not always the case at some other bike shops, I’ve noticed. I’ve given shout outs to other great local shops before, though.

Another perk is is the return policy. They will work with you to come up with a good solution if you buy something that doesn’t work. Of course, save that receipt and don’t wait too long!

Repair is Top Notch

Services list gives several options for tune-ups.

The shop has a variety of service levels for different needs. They won’t overcharge you for a full tune-up if you just need a new tire. I’ve had wheels rebuilt, drive train overhauled, wheels trued, brake and shifter cables replaced, and plenty of other work done to the old Fuji Silhouette. I ended up putting alot more miles on it than anyone expected, but they were still happy to work on the bike.

So they are definitely NOT “bike snobs” who will only talk to you if you have a really expensive bike. Because of their good work, buying a new bike has not been needed. Of course I want a way fancier bike than my budget allows. They do have a layaway and credit programs if that interests you.

In Summation (Or Sunnation, if You Prefer)

Matias works on a Fuji mountain bike.

There’s alot more to say about the store, like the other departments, directions, hours, and so on. Alot of that you can find on their website. But I mostly just know about the bike shop, so I’ve limited my comments to that. Overall, it’s a great place that I enjoy visiting when I’m cycling by on my way to Shoal Creek as I was tonight or to other parts west, even when I don’t need to buy something.

If you’re near a Sun & Ski and haven’t checked one out before, you might want to go on by. If not, you can look at their website and see if they have anything you want. Tell ’em A Dude sent ya! Of course if it’s not in Austin they’re going to say who?

Handy list of everything you might need to get or fix.

A large selection of all kinds of bikes.

Kids bikes are available too.

The back of my Pro shirt logo; I love the slogan.

You can sign up for the Pro program too!

032318 Sun and Ski Sports ride
Today’s ride was longer than anticipated, not too fast, but the weather was pleasant and I found some legs so stretched it out a bit after a few days of not feeling great. More soon!

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The outside sign in the sun.

27-Mile Brushy Creek Trail Ride + Peddler Bike Shop Stop

Sunday Started Without Any Sun

On a balmy, grey, at first foggy, then later somewhat sunny Sunday, A Dude rousted himself from his slumber and busted out a decent distance of a bicycle ride.  It was the first longer ride in a while, and it was done because that’s what he does, for fitness, fun and so on.  But also it was in order to make his 50-mile goal for the week and to have something to blog about.  So in a way, if you’re reading this, you’re partially responsible for making it happen! How is that for participation? And you didn’t even have to get up off your couch and bike 27 miles.  Here’s the quick map / video from Relive. Continue reading

To (Vitamin) B, or Not to B: A Cautionary Tale + Fat-Burning with a Home Trainer

Hey, I Thought This Was a Blog About Bicycling!

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A week as a vegan dangerously depleted my B vitamin levels.

After still feeling exhausted, groggy and not coordinated enough to bike safely, I took action and called my doctor. He ordered B6, B12 and iron tests. Then I went to get a Vitamin B complex injection. Soon after, my headache, brain fog and some fatigue lifted. I felt ok enough to see the hilarious new movie Jumanji:  Welcome to the Jungle with occasional riding partner Saurabh, and going home I had the occasion to run to catch a bus. A Dude Abikes does not run (maybe some day), so this was a significant sign that I had more energy from the shot. Even though I was drinking fresh organic fruit and vegetable juice and eating soups that I or a health food restaurant made, it was imbalanced and I paid the price. Hard. It will be interesting to see the lab results.

The lesson for me, and maybe for you, Dear Reader, is while something may seem healthy and doable, it may not work for you individually. Buyer beware!

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