Adventures in Cycling – Night Riders

I was really excited that the cycling season would start in March this year. It could have begun in February, but my schedule and the weather never quite matched.  In the end, I managed only a single ride in March.  It was a nice “breaking the ice” ride.  Unfortunately, the weather has been a rollercoaster since then.  Since I do not ride below 50 degrees or in the rain or windy conditions, I spent a fair bit of time inside looking out at the world.  The weather and my schedule just wouldn’t cooperate.

April is off to another slow start, although the forecast just got much better.  Let’s hope it stays that way.

So the count for 2018(to date) is 6.62 miles, 38:29 riding time.

Both bike and rider are in need of some repair and polish.  At some point two weeks ago, I did something that resulted in back spasms.  KO-ed me for the entire week of spring break.  My trusty steed, known affectionately as “Barney”, really needs a serious maintenance, but that’s not in the cards at the moment. Gave him the quick once-over before the March ride and he looks fine. A new phone clamp has been added and will be a HUGE improvement over last year.

I’ve been doing more evening driving recently. Richmond is a great cycling city. If I weren’t such a wimp, I could be on the bike almost all year. But I don’t do cold or wet. And only crazy people bicycle in the snow.

What I have noticed has to do with after dark riding. I see a lot of bikers in the evening. Two things jump out at me. First, it is even more important to observe the traffic laws at night. Blowing through stop signs and lights, changing lanes without signaling, and other all too common habits are bad enough in the daylight. I see people doing it at night which is just insane. Bad riding practices make all of us look bad and put us at risk. We need to be smarter.

Which brings me to my second point. Why are our lights so small? Look around at any other vehicle on the road. Well lit with large, obvious lights. Now, look at your average bicycle. If they have lights, they’re usually the size of a single Christmas light. It’s better if they flash, but as a driver (and one attentive to cyclists) they are still easy to overlook.

I’m not sure why we are willing to settle for this. Is it a leftover from racing? Most of us don’t race. Is it just not cool? Cyclists can be prone to this kind of thinking. It’s all silly. There are new technologies like lit helmets and other LED devices that can offer larger, brighter lighting without a significant weight penalty. I’ll take visible and safe over cool and injured any day.

My plan doesn’t include much, if any, after dark riding. But there’s plenty of after dark driving coming. I want to make sure that we all get to where we want to go safely.

I’m hoping for a long season of riding in 2018!


Adventures in Urban Bicycling – Past and Future

Still catching up on the year that was.  While I continue to plan the year to come.

My goal for this year on the bicycle was 1,000 miles.  It was a bet with a friend and an ambitious one.  I don’t think I’ve put half that many miles on the bike in a given year.  The advantage (I thought) was that the biking season here in RVA was much longer than I’m accustomed to, so I had more days to pile on the miles.

I was kind of right.

What I hadn’t anticipated was how the much hotter summer days would effect my riding.  Very quickly through the middle of the summer, the day simply became too hot to ride safely.  Which meant I didn’t ride as much as I had hoped for when I set my goal.

The other thing I learned was that being a Type 2 diabetic changes the equation on the bike as well.  My plan had been to ride the Capitol Trail multiple times.  On my first attempt, I got my snacks wrong which meant my blood sugar did unpleasant things.  Forty miles into the ride I was toast and had to call for a ride.  I think I have a much better grip on the concepts I need now.

So what did I manage?

38 rides

614.95 miles

Two one way trips on the Capitol Trail.

That’s not half bad.  Not half bad at all.

I also did almost all of it on the streets of Richmond.  Urban cycling is a whole different experience than what I did in western New York.  With only a couple of exceptions, the experience was positive.  Drivers were aware and polite. I tried to make sure that I was predictable and obeyed the rules of the road as much as possible and practicable.  As a result, I had nothing worse than a couple of modestly close calls.  The worst was when a door was flung open in front of me from a parked car!

I’m looking forward to riding in 2018.  While I hope I don’t have nearly as much free time to toss the bike on the back of the car, I still should have plenty of time to top the 2017 total.  Add in a couple more Cap2Cap rides and look toward doing a round trip.  That’s 100+ miles, which is pretty daunting. I have been wiped out by the one way rides, so there’s a lot more training to be done for there and back again.  I’d also like to go a little further afield.  Maybe bike along Virginia Beach or on the DelMarVa peninsula.

The other consideration is that not only is the rider getting old, so is the ride.  Barney is going to need some TLC this year.  But I think we’ve both got at least one more hard year of riding in us.

I track my riding using MapMyRide.


Let’s roll.

From the Old Year to the New

This past year did not proceed as I anticipated.  Or hoped. Or wanted.

It did its own thing.  As with any year, I had little choice but to go with what’s given me.

Last year at this time I set out my objectives for the New Year:

No resolutions this year, just simple definable goals.

Health Goals:

Lose the last 20 pounds (be The Guy)
Keep my blood glucose within ADA ranges and work toward the lower ranges
Maintain a minimum of 150 active minutes a week

I managed to drop about half the weight, did OK with the blood levels until late in the year, and probably averaged the active minutes overall, but backslid there at the end of the year as well  Grade – C

Creativity Goals:

Add six more songs to my guitar competence list
Finish a writing project
Create a minimum of one good photo a month

The guitar goal never got off the ground.  I began the year with a shoulder issue that wouldn’t allow me to comfortably hold the neck and it went downhill from there.  I started another major project but nothing got finished.  And the photography was also a non-starter.  So a tough category overall.  Grade – D

Activity Goals:

Bike the Cap2Cap from Richmond to Williamsburg
Explore the parks nearby
Log a minimum of 1000 miles on the bike

I pulled the first off twice this year!  And I logged just over 600 miles.  That’s a personal best.  I got a little bit of park exploration in.  So I’d give myself a B- grade here.

Fun Goals

Visit five more historical sites
Go to the beach at least twice
Visit 20 wineries

Visited one historical site, got to the beach once and I don’t remember visiting any wineries this year.  Sigh.  Grade – F

Real Life Goals:

Find a new job
Find a new church home
Get involved with community group(s)

Thought I’d found a job.  Took a risk on something outside my comfort zone and discovered there was a reason it was outside my comfort zone.  A great company (Aflac) with some great products and people.  I’m just not cut out for that kind of sales work.  We did find a wonderful new church home, which has been an enormous blessing.  Community involvement is tough, did stay involved with the NaNoWriMo local group.  Grade – C

So what do I plan for 2018?  I’m going to take another shot at the same list.  It’s big and challenging.  There’s a LOT on it.  I put in italics the single goal for each category that I really want to cover.  I want to lose the final 10 (actually now 15 pounds), I want to do a roundtrip ride on the Capitol Trail.  Down and back, 100+ miles.  At the least, I want to ride it three times this year.  There are plenty of historical sites nearby, and a good number are free or inexpensive. And last, but absolutely NOT least, is getting full-time employment.  If I pull those off it will be a good year.  Anything beyond that will be gravy.

A Season of Thinking

Been gone for awhile.  Nothing bad has happened but a lot has happened.  It just seemed like a good time to sit back and think about what’s going on and where this blog fits.  So here’s where I found myself when all was said and done.

I still have hopes for this blog that I haven’t achieved.  Part of the problem is that this blog has to juggle several different parts of my personality and life.  I’ve tried to keep them separate with only limited success.  The obvious reason for that is that they are not separate.  All of them are integral pieces of who I am.  So it was necessary to find a better way to put this puzzle together.

Here’s the plan at the moment –

The current “regular” posts will continue but as monthly rather than weekly posts.  Too often I found myself feeling like I had nothing to add and the posts went up because they were scheduled to do so.  That’s a waste of my time to write and your time to read.  So the “Adventures in Urban Cycling” and “Time For A Change” posts will run monthly.  My intent is to make them a little longer so I can explore a little more about what is happening on each of those fronts.

You may note that there is no mention of a regular “Life Among the Unemployed” series.  That’s because I’ve left those ranks.  I am moving into a whole new professional world, health insurance.  It’s exhilarating and terrifying.  I may post about those experiences depending on how it goes.  I’m still pondering that.

Now just those posts would leave this a pretty empty blog.  And that’s never been the goal.  The original purpose, as I mentioned before, was to use this as a creative blog.  So I’ve decided to go all in on that subject.  “From A Craxy, Mized Up World” will become the official blog for my writing website (  That means there will be at least two posts relating to the subject of writing or dealing with my books and stories each month.  I hope to add two other “creative” topics each week.  The plan is that those posts will appear each Thursday.  I am looking at occasionally posting on the subject of faith (which remains an important part of my life), Thankfulness, maybe doing a little more with my explorations of RVA and the surrounding area.  There’s also the possibility of the odd wine/beer post too.  Who knows? Lots of room to explore.  All of this will slowly begin to show up in the next couple months with the final “launch” coming January 1, 2018.

Some of these changes are being made to simplify my life.  I was trying to maintain three different blogs, two Twitter feeds, create radio programs and a podcast.  It was a mess because there had never been a plan.  It had all grown organically.  Just like any weed.

So let’s get our baseline stories caught up.

Weight – 187.5      That’s up just a little bit.  Given how my exercise went in the tank over the last month, I’m very happy with that.

Biking – Mileage YTD – 538.2.  That’s on 24 rides through September 25.  That’s not bad, but still a long way towards my 1,000 mile goal.  September has been a total bomb for the riding.  I hope to take another shot at the Cap2Cap soon.

Active Minutes – Most of the month was fine.  The one week that was so low was also the week I misplaced the Fitbit.  Starting at the beginning of September my weeks went 226, 21, 130 and 138.

Diabetes – I’ll just be honest and acknowledge that I haven’t been testing my blood glucose.  I think I did it twice this month.  Both numbers were fine.  That’s not good enough.

I will probably look at refreshing the look of the blog as well.  So plenty to keep me busy between now and the first of the year.  I hope you will continue to enjoy what I’ve done before, plus what is to come.


Time To Change – Milestones In Sight

When I pulled the last post I noticed that last week’s weight was wrong.  And the goal to lose weight was wrong as well.  Not sure how that happened.  The correct weights are listed below.

I was a little surprised by that newest number.  My exercise has been a fraction below the recent norms.  Meanwhile, my eating has been better, but not particularly spectacular.

I’m back to doing some food logging.  Not every meal every day.  Since I eat the same two or three meals for breakfast, all within the ranges I want, there’s no real need to chart those meals in detail.  Lunch is usually OK, although I had a real stinker this past week.  It’s the kind of meal where I get to the end and look around thinking “Wait, what just happened here?”.  When I log the meal I get a much clearer idea of what happened.  In all it’s discipline busting glory!  One of the things I need to remember is that eating like that every once in a while is fine.  Some studies even suggest that it’s a very good thing to “reward” yourself with a bit of a splurge now and then.

My attitude on what I eat hasn’t changed.  I have “given up” one thing, sugared cola.  And if I need a quick glucose boost and I don’t have anything else, I’ll toss that one out the window too.  My weight loss mantra is: “Less, Better, More”.  Smaller portions of nutritious foods coupled with increased activity.  You can make that as “rocket science” as you want.  But it doesn’t have to be complicated.  The important part is confronting what we do. If you want to BS yourself, fine.  That’s one of the great things about the food logging.  An honest log takes the hammer to BS.

It is really that simple and it works.

On the exercise front, I continue to over perform on active minutes.  The goal number is a minimum of 150 minutes per week.  I’d wager my average over the last several months is close to twice that.  Steps continue to lag behind.  It’s been too hot to walk.  I need to add that in on days I don’t ride.  Riding was a little low this week because the bike went into the shop for a bottom bracket repair.  All is well, and we are back rolling again.  I am two easy rides away from cracking the 500-mile mark!

So that makes TWO milestones that are within reach.  That next weight is a pound away.  As always it’s been a bit of forward and back.  I’m OK with that too.  For the record, of my four guys in the graphic, I am somewhere between 3 and 4 (where #1 is the biggest guy and #4 is “The Guy”).  After that, a mere ten pounds to go.  The hardest ten.


My resolution remains:

want to am going to be The Guy again.  The Guy weighed 175 pounds and looked good and felt good.  And his blood pressure was good and his blood tests were good.

Active Minutes – 232

Steps – 16,590

Watch my activity at my Fitbit page

Biking Mileage – 39.1 miles  (2 rides)

Biking Total to Date – 456.28

I track my mileage with MapMyRide

The next milestone is getting back below 185.  I will get there and go on.

Official Weigh In Weight

186.0 pounds

Weight Change this week: -2.8 pounds

Total Weight Loss To Date: – 18.9 pounds

Goal Weight and Total to Lose – 175/35

Adventures in Urban Bicycling – July

A tough month for bicycling.

On the positive side, I conquered the Cap2Cap trail for the first time.  That is a 52 mile paved path that runs from between the historic first capital of Virginia, Jamestown, and the current one, Richmond.  My first attempt was cut short when I did not balance my blood glucose properly for such a long ride.  Did much better this time.

The ride was a total of four hours and two minutes of saddle time with two breaks.  I took a quick one at roughly ten miles.  The biggest hills are in those first dozen miles, so I gave myself a break.  Then another twenty miles along for lunch.  May have stayed off the bike a little longer than I should have there (45-50 minutes), but warmed up nicely in short order.  Which is good for two reasons.  About fourteen miles after lunch you hit the Chickahominy River bridge, which is a high arch bridge.  One that never seems to end when you’ve pedaled that far!  The other issue had to do with heat.  I had left early to try and avoid the heat of the day.  It still caught me and the last ten miles were tough and the final five were very difficult.  But I made it.

Week three was a very light week for riding.  Weather again was the issue.  The Heat Index that week hit triple digits several times and I chose discretion.  I did get in a couple of rides as I continue to work towards my goal of 1,000 miles this year.

Otherwise, I’ve been exploring new places in Richmond to ride.  I rode out Monument (which is a major thoroughfare here in Richmond) to the Willow Lawn area.  Not a long ride, about 3 miles, but new experiences.  More riding with higher traffic.

Also enjoyed watching the Tour de France.  Amazing to watch those incredible athletes perform.  Hour after hour at 20+ miles per hour.  And simply riding for 100-200 kilometers.  Crashes barely seem to phase them.  I would be whimpering for months afterwards and they jump up, grab their bike, and take off once again.  Several of them crashed, re-started, and ended up winning the stage.  Awesome athletes.  And inspirations to those of us trying to crank along. Three cheers for team Cannondale/Drapac and Rigoberto Uran.  With determination and grit, Rigo finished second overall.  It was great to have a team to root for (all three American riders were on this team, so that made it easy).  All the riders continue to inspire me.  When it starts to feel tough, I think of what they go through and I push on.

The last full week of the month turned into a pretty good riding week.  Got a break in the weather, so I got to rack up several more rides.  Even set a personal best, approaching a 12 mph average for 90 minutes!  17.6 miles in 1:31.

Equipment is becoming an issue.  I’ve developed a wobble in the crank, the straps are breaking on my bike rack and my tire pump bit the dust.  Not the problems to be faced without steady income.  Sigh.  I shall soldier on.

Much to my great surprise, I’m almost half way to my goal for the summer with at least two more months of riding ahead.

I track my riding using MapMyRide.

Ride Total – 25 (through 7/26)

Mileage Total – 415.14

Let’s roll.

Time To Change – Little Things

And now we’re back.

Getting out of the eating routine means some slight variation, but only a small one.  I do need to get re-focused.  I am falling into the trap of “Oh, just a little bit extra won’t hurt!”.  Except when it’s a little extra over and over and over.  Suddenly it’s a serious amount of calories, and the number begins to creep upward.  With all of that, plus the wedding weekend (which was wonderful!), the change is only a pound.  I think that’s pretty impressive.

Just had a nice visit with my Diabetes Educator.  Part of the coverage with my health insurance is a series of educational meetings about diabetes and how to live with it.  Being who I am, I walked in having already learned a lot of the basics.  This made some of the meetings a little tedious.  I tried to be a good sport about it.  Particularly once I realized that not everyone in the room had bought into the idea that change was coming.  And staying.

At this final meeting, I stayed a little later to ask some questions specifically about diabetes and high-intensity exercise.  Imagine my delight when I discovered that our educator was a former long distance runner!  The good news is that she supported the ideas I have working with about fueling myself during long rides.  She even said the circus peanuts were fine for that purpose!

Exercise has been better, but still not quite up to where I’d like it.  Active minutes were down because biking was down.  Steps were up by 10,000.  My total riding miles for the year have been adjusted.  To the surprise of no one who knows me, my addition was off.  I am very close to half way to my goal for this year.  It’s also one of the highest mileage totals ever for me, so it’s been a very good year with several more months of riding still to come!

Other than that, just gotta keep rolling.


My resolution remains:

want to am going to be The Guy again.  The Guy weighed 175 pounds and looked good and felt good.  And his blood pressure was good and his blood tests were good.

Active Minutes – 249

Steps – 25,543

Watch my activity at my Fitbit page

Biking Mileage – 29.0 miles  (2 rides)

Biking Total to Date – 417.09

I track my mileage with MapMyRide

The next milestone is getting back below 185.  I will get there and go on.

Official Weigh In Weight

181.8 pounds

Weight Change this week: +1.0 pounds

Total Weight Loss To Date: – 16.1 pounds

Goal Weight and Total to Lose – 175/25