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!


Time To Change – Setting The Starting Parameters

Some people are not going to like this post.

I understand that.  There are lots of ways to approach the process of losing weight and getting into better physical shape.  If a certain way works for you, I would expect that you will have an emotional attachment to that system.  There is a lot of passion that is generated by discussions of this sort.  It’s all good.  Remember that my criticism is of the system and not of the people who use it.  My approach is very simple.

Did it work for you?  Great.

Here’s what works for me.

You will never find a popular/fad diet here.  You will never find a diet that requires you to completely eliminate any particular food group.  You will never find a diet that requires unusual eating patterns (I’m thinking of regular fasting here).  You will never find a diet where you buy pre-packaged food.   The reason is simple.

I don’t believe in them.  I don’t believe they are based on good science that will help people in the long run.  I do believe that most of them can help you lose weight in the short term.  Possibly a lot of weight, possibly in a short period of time.

That’s not the answer I’m looking for on this journey.  I’m less than 20 pounds away from my goal.  I could jump on one of these quickie diets, drop those pounds in a couple weeks, get my “Damn, don’t I look good” photos taken and then begin the inevitable slide back up the weight chart.

Just. Not. Interested.

Here’s what my “program” is based on.  The sure knowledge that I eat too much, often of the wrong food and I sit on my butt for too much of each day.  I don’t need someone to prepare my meals for me.  I’m a grownup, I ought to be able to feed myself.  I don’t need someone to tell me I need to go outside and play.  I’m a grownup, I ought to be able to maintain the base level of activity to keep my body healthy.

I just bent some people’s noses out of shape.  That’s fine.  Remember, I’m describing my process.  The only one I’m responsible for on a daily basis.  That means learning what my body needs.  A body in late middle age.  A body with T2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • It’s really not that complicated
  • But it’s still hard
  • People who want to sell me something should be treated with a LARGE dose of skepticism
  • It’s about a balanced diet
  • It’s about regular exercise
  • As long as you’re willing to put in the work, it doesn’t require anything fancy or expensive
  • If you’re not willing to put in the work, it doesn’t matter how much you spend
  • Success or failure is mine.

Your journey is different.  Even if you’re a late middle-aged, T2 diabetic with high blood pressure.  My way will almost surely work for you.  But I’m not offering a guarantee.

My job is to succeed on my journey.

My hope is to share what works and to inspire you on your journey.



(Some folks face different issues than I do.  It is possible to have additional medical conditions that make weight loss more difficult.  Their journies will be very different and more difficult.  My belief is that the majority of us don’t fall into that category.)

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 – Goal is 150/week

Steps – Goal is 10,000/day

Watch my activity on my Fitbit page

Biking Mileage – Winter Break

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

192 pounds

Weight Change this week: -1.0 pounds

Total Weight Loss To Date: 1.0 pounds– Goal is 17  pounds

Goal Weight and Total to Lose – 175/35

Life Among the Underemployed – Milestone?

(These posts will appear when there is something to report)

I am comfortably in excess of 400 days without full-time employment.

need-a-jobAnd that sucks.

In the course of that time I have been:

  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Depressed
  • Inspired
  • Hopeful
  • Defeated
  • Tired
  • Scared
  • Scared
  • Scared

I hate writing these damn posts.  I hate that I have anything to add to this series.  I hate that I feel like I am not pulling my weight in my family.  Everyone else has steady, full-time jobs.  I’ve applied for over 150 job openings.  In as many different industries as I can think I might qualify.  I’ve gotten two interviews.  I didn’t get the nod at one and did at the other.  I tried the work with Aflac (great company and products) but the work just wasn’t for me.  It made me dread getting up and going to work each day.  Nausea, anxiety, you name it.  So I told them that it just wasn’t working out.

As it turns out, looking for a full-time job is almost a full-time job in and of itself.  Which is hard when you are trying to staunch the bleeding from our financial reserves doing multiple part-time jobs.  There’s never enough time and that adds to the stress.

I don’t know what to do.  I know that I can’t quit.  Quitting sounds really inviting some days.  Roll up into a ball and quit.  Pull the blankets over my head and quit.  Dive to the bottom of a bottle and quit.

Just effing quit.

But that’s not who I am.

Maybe things will change before I hit 500, or 200, or 600, or 300…

So I will keep my head up, my eyes open, my heart strong.

Waiting to see the next chapter in my life.

Whatever it turns out to be.

And I’ll keep you up to date on how that goes.


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.

Time To Change – Moving Towards A Little Less

I  am making some changes.  Again.

At the end of last year, things did not go the way I had hoped or planned.  Having been working on my health and diet for several years, that didn’t really surprise me.  There are just more balls in the air at the moment.

For the folks who have followed the posts regularly, you will have noticed that they disappeared.  There were two reasons for that.  First, I lost my motivation once the fall rolled around.  More on that in a moment.  Second, I was depressing myself with weekly updates and I was pretty sure that it wasn’t pleasant reading for you.

So change number one is that these posts will go to a once a month schedule.  That way I know I will something to say other than “Another week when nothing much happened”.  I will also try to add something of interest to the updates of weight and exercise.  As with most subjects, I have some opinions on a lot of what goes on around weight loss, diet, exercise and diabetes.

As to the first point, the fall of 2016 was not a moment in my life of warm memories and fond remembrances.  I was diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic, after years of lurking in the “pre-diabetic” category.  Plus in November, I lost my job.  I hadn’t lost the weight I’d wanted to lose, and I hadn’t found (still haven’t) a new full-time job.  I was feeling depressed and not really into sharing that.

But things need to change.  So we’re back.  There is some backsliding that needs to be fixed.  Then it’s forward to my goal.  Period.  Not open for discussion.

I’m back over 190 again, my A1C bumped up by 0.2 to 6.4.  Not a terrible increase but the wrong direction.  It will be checked again in June, so I have till then to turn things around.

Exercise is a challenge because it’s not cycling weather, by my standards.  So I need to walk.  30 minutes a day of active minutes.  I will be at the local mall during cold, snowy, windy or rainy weather.  I will walk in my neighborhood, at the local park or anywhere I can when the weather is good.  My doctor says that he sees the best results from the folks who walk regularly.  Works for me.

On the diet front, I remain convinced that the fancy diets, the ones that require you give up some kind of food, or eat certain exotic foods are garbage science and nutrition.  As a T2 there are things I need to control.  But there’s nothing I have to give up entirely.  Smaller portions of smarter choices and the weight will fall.  And the numbers will go with it.  Later this year, I will go into my thoughts on packaged diet plans.

I have one really great inspiration for losing weight.  One of my other projects this year involves videos.  Just did the test shoot last week.  And did not like what I saw from certain angles.  Talk about not having a place to hide!  I’m really excited about the project and vain enough to want to look good.  I’ll take whatever push I can get.


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 – Goal is 150/week

Steps – Goal is 10,000/day

Watch my activity on my Fitbit page

Biking Mileage – Winter Break

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

193 pounds

Weight Change this week: -0.0 pounds

Total Weight Loss To Date: – Goal is 17  pounds

Goal Weight and Total to Lose – 175/35

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.