Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bike Around the Bay 2009

Turn out was disappointing this year. When I rode this ride in 2007 (the 2008 ride was cancelled by Hurricane Ike) I thought it was the best ride of the year. According to my notes about 450 people showed up back then. The crowd was smaller this year. Perhaps it was the overcast skies threatening rain on Saturday morning. A ride official said that a hundred people or so had registered but had not shown up. I would guess that maybe two hundred people showed up this time.

Aimee and I had mechanical problems right of the bat. That was my fault, not the bike's. In any case, two nice guys from Bike Barn helped us out and we were back on the road in about 40 minutes. Unfortunately, that put us at the very back of the pack.

A ride marshall informed us that we'd be followed by the "Turtle" SAG truck. This honor is given to the very last rider in the ride. I don't like being last at anything and I certainly don't like being followed by a truck 100' behind us for the whole ride. Aimee and I pedaled a little harder hoping to catch someone and drop the Turtle. With a 40 minute delay at the start, that wasn't going to be easy. Nevertheless, we pushed hard for the first 10 miles or so and finally drew up to rider who had pulled over to the side of the road with a motorcycle ride marshall. Aimee and I were jubilant since this was our chance to shake the Turtle. Our smile faded when we saw that it was none other than Jim with a flat on his Bachetta. We stopped and loaned him some air before pushing off again. Since he is faster than we are, we had no intention of rejoining the Turtle posse. By the first rest stop we were out of danger. There were 10-15 riders there and we left ahead of all of them.
The route for Day One is unchanged from the original ride, but Day Two had an alteration at the end to avoid the horrible traffic and narrow winding road on the last 10 miles. As it turned out, we were not to see the new route.

In spite of the overcast and threat of rain, Day One was a pleasant ride. The only climb on this leg is the High Island Bridge. The Seavo handled it easily.

Lunch was a variety of sandwiches and several different kinds of chips served buffet style int he back room at the "Big Kahuna." Not bad, but not as good as Chick Filet last year.

The route on Galveston Island was the same as last year, but this time we got our own lane, cordoned off with red cones, all the way to Moody gardens. Nice.

We were fortunate enough to spend Saturday night at David's beach house on Galveston and to have a private SAG wagon. Aimee and I took a dip in the Gulf and went to bed early.

I rose early on Day Two and checked the weather. The forecast was for 12mph headwinds and 70% chance of rain. I love this ride and I love spending the day on the bike, but since I broke my femur last year on a wet road, I'm a bit more conservative about inclement weather. No more wet roads for me. David, Jim, Aimee and I conferenced over coffee and breakfast and all decided to skip Day Two. Judging from comments made by friends who rode Day Two, alot of other riders decided to skip it as well. Perhaps the weather will cooperate next year.

The only minor peeve I have about the ride is this: when ride marshalls on motorcycles pull up to assist a rider who has stopped on the side of the road, they pull their hog up alongside the ride, thus taking up the entire shoulder and forcing other riders into the traffic lane. More than once we had to stop behind the them because of traffic. Why not just pull up behind them instead of blocking the whole shoulder?

My gastric sleeve keeps working as intended. This morning I am down 43 pounds. That's 5 pounds in just the last 2 weeks.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Progress Report

It's been two months now since my gastric sleeve surgery and I am down 38 pounds and two pants sizes as of this morning. The weight is just melting away. I've had immediate benefits in my cycling as well. Aimee and I took the Seavo out a week or so ago. We hadn't ridden it since my surgery. When we rode it this spring I actually thought about selling it because it just wasn't comfortable any more. Although I was loath to admit it, the trouble was that my stomach had grown so big that my thighs were hitting it when I pedalled. Riding the bike since my weight loss was a revelation. With my stomach gone (literally) pedalling the Seavo was the way it used to be: easy and comfortable. Our speed picked up as well. I'm glad I didn't sell the Seavo. Aimee and I will be using it for the Bike Around the Bay this coming weekend.

This morning I met Jim and David for the maiden run of my new Mocon low racer. I spent last night with the final details of getting it set up and practising getting on and off. This another example of the benefits of my weight loss. Frankly, I doubt I would have been able to mount and dismount this bike, much less ride it.

We found a quiet country road for this test. I didn't want to have to worry about traffic as well as trying to ride this beautiful bike. My first challenge was starting the bike. The machine gun handle bars make for poor handling at low speeds so it's fairly important to get up some speed right off the bat. While puzzling how I was going to get both feet up on the pedals as I pushed off, I realized that I could put both feet on the pedals with the bike standing still. All I had to do was steady the bike with my hand on the pavement (yes, the bike is that low). After 5 or 6 tries I did get the bike started. It accelerates quickly and handling improves with speed. Nevertheless, it took 15-20 miles before I could take turns with confidence. I easily moved up to 20 mph with a couple of gears left unused. I decided, though, to save a speed run for another day when I had a little more experience on the bike.

By the end of today's 30 mile ride I felt at home on the bike. I have a little tinkering to do before the next time I ride it. I couldn't get my computer to work properly. It's new and suspect it may be batteries. I might get a new seat pad and perhaps trim the chain stays a bit to fit my shoulders. I'd also like to mount a red light on the back of the bike since it's ultra-low and easy for drivers to miss.

Fortunately, I am exactly the same height as John, who made the bike for himself, so no BB adjustment was needed. The bike is very comfortable and after 30 miles I had no recumbent butt or foot numbness. I can't wait for the next ride.