The Annoying Friend That Always Rides With Me

friends-argueIt was impossible to be anything less than giddy about riding through Sonoma wine country on a sunny day, and when one is giddy, one tends to ignore one’s limitations. Here’s mine.

A little over 12 years ago, I made a bad jump from a sailboat onto a dock and sheared off the plateau of my right tibia – doc-speak for totally messing up my right knee. By anyone’s measure, I’ve recovered very well from it. I’m a little knock-kneed, as the surgeons had a hell of a time trying to get everything back in place and aligned properly, but I can do just about anything with that leg except run for any distance. I’m also beating the doctor’s forecast; he told me to expect that I’d require a knee replacement after 8-10 years, and happily I haven’t gotten there yet, nor do I hope to for another few years.

One of my sons asked, shortly after the accident, whether I was going to give up sailing. “No,” I said, “I’m going to give up jumping.” But I wouldn’t trust that leg on a pitching foredeck anymore, so I did give up crewing in competitive sailing.

I bicycle partly because this is the only form of sustained, intense exercise that the bum knee will tolerate. Most of the time. I rationalize that bicycling is excellent for the knee, to keep it mobilized and more arthritis-free than it would be otherwise. Even bicycling can test it at times, though – such as when I’m racing giddily up and down hills and around vineyards in Sonoma County, outdoors for the first time since early December. Climbing is especially stressful on it, of course, or rising from the saddle to accelerate or to relieve the sit-bones for a couple of minutes. There were some steep hills in Sonoma.

April 3 ride

One of my favorite outdoor routes. It *can* be easy, except when I annoy my friend.

After our return, the weather and roads around Rochester were favorable enough that I worked in two more outdoor rides before cold winds and rain drove me back inside, and by then my knock-knee friend was thoroughly pissed at me. He told me I should have taken it easier on those first couple of outdoor rides back here in Rochester. He bitched with every step up or down a stair and nagged me whenever I’d rise from a chair or climb out of bed in the morning. I tried plying him with ibuprofen, thinking that he’d quiet down a little if he were stoned, but the only way I finally shut him up was just to stay off the bike for a few days and let him lay around like the fatass he is.

There's nothing like a pleasant ride along an icy Erie Canal to irritate my friend

There’s nothing like a pleasant ride along an icy Erie Canal to irritate my friend

Clearly, I need to be more considerate of him if I’m going to fool him into riding 100 kilometers with me in the Rochester Tour de Cure coming up on June 13. This week, he let me climb back on the trainer downstairs for a couple of decent spins, and so far, no complaints.

Today and tomorrow, I’m going to bundle up and sneak out for more outdoor riding, hoping he won’t notice, if I keep him warm enough. Stay tuned.

Oh, and there’s one other thing that makes him happier: when a friend donates money to the American Diabetes Association in support of our ride in the Tour de Cure. If you click here and make a donation, he’ll be ever so much happier…. Thank you!

This Way to The 2015 Rochester Tour de Cure

Just a quick post here, inviting you to read more on my personal Tour de Cure page about why I ride in support of the American Diabetes Association and its important work – and to make a donation, of course.  Then, if you wish, you can follow my bicycling blog, Wheels on The White Line, for updates on my progress toward riding my age in years at the Rochester Tour de Cure on June 13.

Better yet, you can join me on the ride to stop diabetes, whether here in Rochester or at a Tour de Cure closer to you.  If you’re in Rochester and would like to ride (the distances start at a very doable 3.5 miles, so you needn’t be a cycling jock!), you may click on “Join My Team” on my Tour de Cure page.  If you live anywhere else in the United States, just go here on the ADA’s site to locate a Tour de Cure near you.

See you along the white line!

No Fatbikes For Me: Meet The Bike Desk

After finishing the 2014 Tour de Cure last June and notching a few 40-45 mile rides later in the year, I signed up early for the 2015 Tour and vowed to ride my age in miles – the tour’s 62.5 mile route, also known as a “metric century” because it’s 100 kilometers. But during a bitterly cold and long Western New York winter, how would I continue conditioning for longer rides or even maintain the conditioning I worked so hard to develop last year? I’m neither wealthy nor crazy enough to buy a “fat bike” and continue riding outdoors in sub-freezing temperatures.

IMG_3608-EditMeet my bike desk. You may have heard of the treadmill desks that are somewhat in vogue these days. In vogue, that is, if you have $2,000-4,000 available to buy one and a work environment (including your boss) that permits you to use it. It’s a simple premise: take a desk that can raise or lower to a height that fits you, and place a treadmill where your chair would go, then proceed to do your work while walking at a pace that suits you – phone calls, reading, computer work or most any other desk work. After all, sitting is the new smoking.

I’m fortunate, in more ways than one, that my job allows me to work from home, and the treadmill desk mini-wave set me thinking about bicycling indoors, but I’ve not discovered anything similar done with bikes, and I wouldn’t spend that kind of money on such a device anyway. So I mounted my Trex FX 7.2 bike on a CycleOps fluid trainer in our basement, placed a music stand in front of it and, after some shopping around, acquired a mobile laptop cart that raises its work surface to 47” – just about the right height to place my laptop at hand while sitting on the Trek and large enough to hold my portable extension phone. Voila: a bike desk.IMG_3617-Edit

Sounds great, right? And it is, but the trainer makes a very audible, whirring white noise when I’m pedaling at speed (frankly so do I – and no one likes talking to a “breather”), so I have to slow down considerably when I’m on the phone. Handling email is fine, or reviewing documents, but it’s not a very effective mode for anything that requires profound thought.

You’d think, then, that I’d be logging some long miles in the basement.  Since January 1, I’ve pedaled 350 miles down there, and that’s not bad, but I’m behind on my own goal for the year. As a baseline, my odometers tell me I rode 2,400 miles in 2014, and I resolved to boost that to 3,600 this year. Crunch all of this, and with 25 percent of 2015 behind us, I’ve ridden only 10 percent of my goal. Ugh.

One challenge, of course, is that cycling indoors can be deadly boring, but there are iPads and e-readers, music and televisions to fight the boredom. The real problem is that cycling on a trainer is more physically and mentally grueling, mile-for-mile, than riding outdoors. Out on the roads and trails, there are hills and valleys and corners to negotiate, which means changes of pace and posture that provide physical relief. On the trainer, there is nothing but resistance, and sitting on a stationary bicycle seat (even a well-fitting one) for even an hour is literally a pain in the ass. That’s the physical part – and the mental part is the voice of your body demanding that you get off and take a damned break.

But, I soldier on. Countless bicyclists have gone this way before me, so I know to vary the pace on the trainer, kicking up the resistance and rising off the saddle periodically to provide my sit bones some relief. An interesting soundtrack helps. And – bike desk or not – I can’t really get a good workout and do my job at the same time.

Thankfully, spring is coming to Rochester. Soon. I know it is. I just know it is, and when it arrives, I look forward to boosting the weekly mileage up over 100 and getting on track against the goal. The Rochester Tour de Cure, on June 13, will be just the first waypoint on the journey.