Teaser / New energy source

I’ve had the greatest 18 hours of workouts in probably a couple of years. I’ll write more later, but… Man.

Yesterday on the way home, I finally found a pond in which to swim. About a half mile long, clean, deep-ish water, no motors. So, I started with a lap in the wetsuit. Proved to myself that, while fine for sprints, a surfing wetsuit kind of stinks for swimming more than a couple hundred yards. (Fortunately, there’s a new one on the way).

Then – a 5 miler. Wicked, wicked tough – straight up hill to start, and then down the steep to finish. But, absolutely beautiful. At the end of the run, there were a couple of guys fishing in the Pond – will have to bring the kids back.

This morning, I woke up early to ride. Was on the road well before 7, rode ‘cross the state line out to Watch Hill through some Scooby-Doo type fog (So thick you could cut it with a knife). Watched next to no rollers come crashing in – wind was still. Then, rode uphill, out of the fog through Westerly. I’d seen a sign that Boombridge Road had a bridge closed, but kind of banking on its being closed to automobiles due to being decrepit, and knowing that I, while not the picture of svelteness, do not weigh nearly as much as a car, headed down the road. Worst case, I’d turn around and get an extra 4 miles.

The bridge was open, and the view over the Pawckatuck river was extraordinary. Brilliant blue sky, deep green grass and trees, dark tannic water – ought to be a postcard for New England. (I took pictures; will post later). Stopped briefly for a bocadillo* and to call the fam to let them know I was still alive.

Back to Mystic, a bit later than I’d planned. And back into the fog as soon as I hit River Road – man, that was cool, both figuratively and literally – I had to pull my armwarmers back on. Stopped, got some coffee, and rode up to Butler Elementary for Nate’s t-ball game. Missy had brought some pants to fend off the cold.

After the game, I took the kind of long way home, up Noank-Fishtown road instead of over Cow Hill, just so I could come down the hill on Yetter and see how close to 45 MPH I could get (Haven’t dumped the Garmin yet to see what it was). Man, what an 18 hours.

Best part, I feel great – even less sore than when I started.

* Bocadillos may be my new during run/ride energy food. I got introduced to them as dessert when I was riding a Colombian submarine. They’re nothing but guava pulp and sugar, dried and wrapped in a banana leaf (or a bit of sugar cane leaf – not sure what). Each brick of bocadillo is:

  • 200 Calories
  • 38 grams of sugar
  • 15 mg of sodium
  • 6 g of fiber

I suppose they could use a little bit of protein to make them all hip and with it, but as far as I can tell, they’re functionally identical to Missy’s SportBeans, ‘cept instead of being $1/pouch, it was $3 for 12 bricks. And, the wrappers are biodegradable – no goopy packages to carry home in a pocket or hand.

I think that in the future I’m going to cut each bocadillo in two (to get 100 cal/serving, same as a pack of SportBeans) – 200 cal at a pop seems to be a bit excessive.

The last problem, though, was that I got them at a Fiesta Market when we were down in Houston. As far as I can tell, none of the groceries in Connecticut carry them.

Oh, and I’ve got pictures, too. Will post probably tomorrow with run report.

Poking the Helmet Debate

I’ll be up front – I usually wear a helmet while riding the bike. Both of my kids have bike helmets, and are pretty religious about wearing them, even to the point of telling their friends “Hey, wait – I’ve got to get my helmet” when they go to ride bikes. Helmets are good, m’kay?

But bikes are better.

The couple of times I’ve caught the kids without helmets, I’ve just handed them to them, and a couple of times when we’ve been out as a family in the evening, Missy and I walking and the kids riding, I’d just told them to keep going, ’cause in my mind building kids who love cycling is going to make them healthy years later. I’d rather treat the helmet as a “nice to have” instead of an all-or-nothing, making riding the bike sometimes a negative experience.

I’m not arguing that helmets don’t work – they do, even in high speed situations. But making them completely mandatory with punitive makes people not ride bikes, or so sez some Commonwealth medical researchers via BikeRadar:

For example, a 1989 case-controlled study (i.e. directly comparing helmet wearers with non-helmet wearers) published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 85 per cent.

Writing in the British Medical Journal in 2006, Dorothy Robinson, a statistician at the Department of Primary Industries in Armidale, Australia, claimed that helmet laws caused cycling levels to drop by 20 to 40 percent in several Australian cities and states.

Robinson’s point seems to have been backed up by evidence from 1990 – Victoria, Australia, introduced an all-ages cycle helmet law in that year and helmet use rose from 31 percent to 75 percent, with the number of head injuries dropping by 40 percent.

However, cycle counts in Melbourne showed drops of between 33 percent and 46 percent. Injuries dropped roughly in proportion to the decline in cycling. The proportion of serious head injuries compared to overall injuries fell only slightly.

I’ll be clear again: I think if you’re going to ride and have a helmet, you ought to wear it. However, if you’ve got a bike and a car and decide to go somewhere on the bike instead of in the car, do it. If you want to go cruise the rail-trail in a straw bowler, feel free. And if you really, really want to go climb wearing a USPS cap and pretend you’re Lance back in 1999, knock yourself out, helmet or not.

Bikes rule. Go ride.


I’m a bit behind on the blog. But, I’ve been riding a bunch.

Somehow, I think I ended up with a little bit of a cold last week – not quite the swine flu, but, man, I felt like dogmeat. I swam one day at lunch, but only made about 1000 yards ’cause it’s hard to rotary breathe and cough at the same time.

Transcendence hit, though – Wednesday night I did a short mountain bike ride – house to Pequot Woods to River Road and back. Thursday was hill repeats on the road bike at lunch. Saturday was blown off.

Sunday, though. Drilled, but was determined to get the ride in. I stopped by Arcadia State park, figuring I need hills before MooseMan in June. And hills I got.

I spent two hours going up hill and down dale in the mizzle (more than a mist but less than a drizzle), cold spray heading up my back. I finally get the idea of overshoes – my feet were frozen until about 90 minutes after I got done with the ride.

But, man, was I sad I had to finish the ride. It was the first time in a long time I’d really, really loved riding again. The bike is a beautiful thing.

One last thing: I’ve been rocking (rubbing/running/palping – please read BikeSnobNYC if you’re not) a ForeRunner 305 for a while with the speed/cadence sensor. And, unlike Lance, I’m a grinder, not a spinner. Turns out my average cadence is about 80, not 100. On hills, it even drops to about 70 or 65.

So, I’m not quite sure what to do about it. I suppose I’ve got to work on it, but I feel like a pansy when I’m in the granny gear. Thoughts?