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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Block Island Organics Sunscreen

Being a cyclist that puts in a lot of time on my bike, I am forced to think about sun exposure and the health of my skin.  I make sure to apply sunscreen any time I'm going to be on my bike longer than my 15 minute commute to work.  This also goes for our whole family.  My wife makes sure the kids are well protected every time they are outdoors and she has started trying natural, organic, and non-toxic products for our kids!

Block Island Organics contacted me recently to try their Baby Block SPF 30 sunscreen.  I figured this would be a great product for our children.  I use a much higher SPF when I'm on my bike, although I've read a lot lately stating that anything over SPF 50 may not really provide added protection.



We used the Block Island Organics Baby Block SPF 30 on our sons when we went to the County Fair.  We spent three and a half hours going in and out of buildings and animal barns.  The Baby Block sunscreen did a great job at protecting our kids from sunburn.  My wife mentioned that it was not as thick as other sunscreens we've used in the past, but that it was actually a lot easier to rub into the skin than others.

Block Island Organics Baby Block SPF 30 is a zinc only organic, lightweight, non-nano and mineral based sunscreen safe for over 6 months and for sensitive skin types.  It is a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen, which is something I look for in all sunscreen I use.  Additionally, it is water resistant for 40 minutes.  I was also glad it is paraben free because when I was much younger, I had a mild allergy to products containing parabens.  And for those that watch closely, this is made in the USA.  Block Island Organics also offers adult sunscreens and sunburn relief products, so be sure to check them out!

If you'd like to try Block Island Organics, you can save 20% on any order before 9/5/2014 using my discount code: matts. This discount is not good with any other discounts or offers.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Amishland and Lakes Weekend 2014

Well, it's now Wednesday and I haven't updated you on the Amishland and Lakes event this past weekend.  We headed out Friday morning for Howe, Indiana with plans to make a quick stop at the meat and cheese shop in Shipshewana before checking into our hotel.  We got there and the skies started clouding over and it looked like rain.  We grabbed lunch at The Bread Box and then headed over to Yoder's Meat and Cheese Company to pick up some different burgers to take home with us.  I love all the different kinds of burgers they make including such things as buffalo burgers, bacon burgers, jalapeno and blue cheese burgers, and more.  I was going to be riding all day Saturday and they aren't open on Sunday's, so I knew I had to get it early.

We then drove to our hotel and got checked in, driving through really heavy rain.  I was rather concerned that I wouldn't be able to ride because of all the lightning in the area.  We checked in and hauled all of our stuff to the room, packing all the frozen burgers into the little hotel room freezer/refrigerator.  I checked the radar and saw that there were a few clearings in the rain, so I got changed into my cycling clothes and drove down the the event location.  I got my bike unloaded and headed out, not knowing whether I'd ride the 14 or 32 mile route.  I rode to the first SAG stop, getting very wet about 4 miles in.  I waited for the rain to slow a bit and headed out, settling for the 14 mile route because I wasn't interested in getting any wetter.


I loaded up my bike and headed back to the hotel.  After cleaning up a bit and changing clothes, our family headed out to have dinner at the Essenhaus in Middlebury.  We got to sit inside the buggy booth.  It was pretty cool.  We love their food and especially the buffet.  Knowing I'd be riding 100 miles on Saturday, I loaded up on carbs...and a lot of other food.  After dinner, it was late enough that our youngest was tired.  We headed back to the hotel and all got ready for bed and laid down for the night.  I didn't feel like I slept very well, partially thinking about the long ride ahead of me.


Saturday morning, I woke up around 5:00 A.M. and laid there for about 45 minutes before getting up to get dressed and head out.  In the lobby, Hampton surprised me with an amazing complimentary breakfast that included eggs and potatoes.  I didn't get into the sausage or a lot of the sweet options as to not upset my stomach.  I drove to the event location and got my bike all ready, strapping my rain jacket under my saddle just in case and headed out for a long day of riding.

I felt really good throughout the entire 100 miles except for a couple miles near the halfway point where I experienced some very mild cramping in my thighs.  The SAG stops all offered fresh Michigan blueberries and other great snacks.  One of the highlights of the ride for me were the Amish family that offered Balsam Mint tea and pumpkin bars to riders for a donation.  I looked forward to that stop after stopping there last year.  The Balsam Mint tea is some of the best tea I've ever had and you can't go wrong with pumpkin bars!  I really enjoyed all of the scenery and especially all of the friendly Amish that we passed whether in their buggies or on bikes.

There was one Amish home where the children were out on little two wheel carts behind a miniature horse.  They were racing cyclists along the side of the road until they reached the edge of their property.  Another highlight was stopping at another Amish home that was offering root beer floats and doughnut bars to cyclists for a donation.  I didn't make this stop last year because I was wearing down and the wind was really wearing on me.  I'm really glad I stopped this year.  That root beer float and doughnut bar really hit the spot.  I think the sugar was good for me.

From the root beer float stop, there was only about 11 miles left to make the full 100 miles.  I made one more SAG stop to use the bathroom.  I think I used the port-a-potties more this ride than I ever have on any other ride.  We rode through Shipshewana and then back to Howe.  I've gotta say those last 8-10 miles were really difficult for me for some reason.  I ended up stopping and eating a NuGo Stronger bar and a Vanilla Bean Gu Energy Gel to get the boost I needed to finish.  I had been texting my wife over the past several miles to let her know when I'd be at the finish.



At just barely over 7 hours (on the bike), I completed my 100 mile ride just as my wife was getting out of the car.  My father-in-law and our 8 year old were right there waiting on me.  Climbing off the bike, I was feeling way better than I did when I completed the same ride last year.  I will admit my backside was very tender.  I went in to get water and ice cream and then we headed back to the hotel.  The family went to the pool while I showered and laid down for a bit before dinner.

We went to Iannarelli's for dinner after having great food last year.  We were not disappointed.  The food was wonderful again this year.  I had jumbo stuffed shells with garlic bread.  We headed back to the hotel and I was definitely ready for an early bed time.  My wife and boys headed down to her parents room to play for a while and I laid down, falling asleep quickly.

I woke up around 5:30 A.M. and considered whether I'd ride any of the Sunday ride options, deciding that my backside was way to tender to spend another day on the bike saddle.  I went back to sleep and woke back up a couple hours later.  I stood out of bed and just about fell over because my Achilles tendon in my left leg was very painful.  I took it pretty easy Sunday until I could purchase an ankle brace to support it.  Then late in the afternoon, I noticed my knee started hurting, so I put on my knee brace too.


Thankfully, by the next morning, my knee was feeling better.  By today, my ankle is feeling a lot better, although I still wore the ankle brace to support it.  Now, I'm on to preparing for 65 miles this coming weekend at the Rally Point River Ride in Lima, Ohio.  I'm looking forward to this ride because it has a different starting point than previous years I've ridden it and because it has been a few years since I've been able to ride it.

Goal Update

My goals for this year were to ride at least 800 miles and two centuries.  I have ridden 700 of the 800 miles so far this year (87.5%) and just completed my first century.  I think I have two more organized events that give me the opportunity to complete a century, so I still could make that goal too.  I had hoped to ride the Ohio to Erie trail this year, but it doesn't look like I'll be able to squeeze that in with school starting back up for our son.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Amishland and Lakes 2014

This coming weekend is Amishland and Lakes 2014.  I rode this event last year and completed my first century ride on Saturday of the three day ride.  I decided Saturday night that I wasn't going to attempt a ride on Sunday and then regretted that I made that decision.  I was feeling pretty good when I woke up Sunday morning.  I'm excited to attempt another century this year on Saturday.  My family is going along to do some shopping and see what other activities they can find.  My wife's parents are going to be there too to help with our kids and to just get away for a couple days.

Me after the 2013 Amishland and Lakes ride (my first century).

This year, registration and the ride starts at 3:00 P.M. on Friday.  Friday offers routes of 14 and 32 miles.  Being that I plan to ride 100 miles on Saturday, I'll most likely ride 14 Friday night so as to not wear out my body.  Saturday, they offer routes of 25, 36, 50, 63, and 100 miles.  Like I said, the goal is to complete 100 miles, which would be my first century this year.  My goal for the year is to complete two centuries, so that'll leave me with one more to complete.  Sunday, they offer rides of 22, 33, 46, and 62 miles.  Depending how I feel after Saturday, I plan to ride either 22 or 33 miles on Sunday.  Even if I ride the shortest ride on Friday and Sunday, that's still 136 miles in three days.  I'm pretty happy with that.

So, you may be asking if I have a plan to complete my second century that I set as a goal for 2014.  Well, I have three more organized rides planned, but only two offer a 100 mile option.  I may attempt to add some extra mileage to the third ride if the weather is good so that I can get my goal.  Two of the rides are in September, which most likely means cooler weather, but my history on those rides says it'll be pretty windy, so 100 miles isn't always an option.  I have yet to figure out a good way to pedal through wind.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Busy Weekend and Week

It's been a really busy week and a half here.  Last Thursday, I left work early and we drove to my in-laws' house.  Their family does a big camping event at their house over the 4th of July weekend.  My son and I slept in the tent the first night and I finished the final two nights in the tent by myself.  My wife and youngest son slept in the house the whole weekend.  I rode my bike 28 miles on Friday morning and 31 miles on Saturday morning, followed by a family softball game.

By the time we were done with softball, I realized that my Achilles Tendon was really irritated.  I've been taking it pretty easy ever since to try to let it heal.  I think I irritated it on my bike first and then softball made it worse.  From what I was able to find on Dr. Google, it's a common injury if a cyclist points his / her toes in the pedal stroke.  Additional information pointed to my bike seat being too high.  That's when I realized that about 3 weeks ago, I raised the seat about half an inch because I felt like I was sitting too low.  I've probably been over stretching that tendon ever since.  It's time to drop it back down a little and see if it helps.

This week has been crazy busy at work and my youngest son has been sick most of the week.  Last night, my oldest son and I decided to go to the Lima Loco's baseball game.  I found out it was a double header and at $6 for the two of us to get in, it was a fun night.  The first game was 7 innings with Lima winning after a grand slam home run.  The second game was 9 innings with a 3 run homer close to the end with Lima pulling out a second win!


My garden is still doing pretty well, although bugs have destroyed my cabbage and brussel sprout plants.  I've got a mystery squash plant that has some really large squash of some sort on it.  This was not something I planted, so I'm excited to see what it is.  The plant has vines that are probably close to 50 feet in length.  I also have another squash plant that I did not plant.  I can tell that it's a yellow summer squash plant.  I'm excited for picking that and grilling it.

Today, I took my lunch walk down to the hospital and back, stopping at the local produce stand that is set up near the hospital.  They had a lot more vegetables than they did the last time I was there.  I came home with sweet peppers, hot peppers, zucchini, and cucumbers.  I found a recipe on Pinterest for refrigerator dill pickles and I'm going to try that with the cucumbers.  I've got fresh dill in the garden too.  Oh, and I have a sunflower that I didn't plant.  It is currently about 2 feet taller than me.  Anyone have a guess what my mystery squash is?  It's fairly round and bigger than my fist.



Sunday, June 29, 2014

Buckeye Bridge Ride

Yesterday was the Buckeye Bridge Ride in Preble County, Ohio.  This was my third year riding this organized ride supporting Preble County 4-H.  It's one of my favorite rides because they put a lot of effort into effectively marking the entire route so that it is easy to follow.  They also provide a perfect number of SAG stops with food and water refills.

I camped at the Preble County Fairgrounds Friday night so that I wouldn't have to get up too early on Saturday morning.  I was up and registered by 6:30 AM and on the road by 6:45 AM.  The weather was cool with extremely high humidity, which made it sticky right from the start and more sticky as it warmed up.  There was practically no wind, so that was one less challenge for the ride.  With all the humidity, I found myself drinking almost 48 ounces of water every 15-20 miles.

We passed the first two bridges before the first SAG stop.  I love seeing all the bridges and especially all the countryside down there.



The first SAG stop offered water, Gatorade, several kinds of granola and cereal bars, and fruit.  I ate my first NuGo Stronger bar to keep me properly fueled.  Last weekend, I hit about 50-55 miles and ran out of energy.  I didn't want to do that again this week.  Shortly after the SAG stop, we arrived at the third bridge.


Somewhere around mile 21-23, we had a fairly long downhill and after reaching almost 30 miles per hour on the way down, I heard a strange sound that I hadn't heard before on my bike.  I looked down between my legs and saw that my rear tire had gone flat.  I'm thankful that I was able to make it down the hill safely.  I have no idea at what point going down the hill that the tire went flat.  I stopped and flipped the bike over checking for punctures.  I didn't find any punctures, so I decided to try re-inflating the tire.  I've never tried CO2 cartridges for inflating a tire, so all I had was a hand pump mounted on my frame.  I was able to get the tire up to about 90PSI and decided to ride for a bit and see how it went.  

By the time I arrived at the next SAG stop, around mile 27-28, the tire was very low again.  I decided I would be better to change the tube rather than trying to inflate the old one again.  Thankfully, I had seen a tire changed once and changed one myself in the kitchen one time before.  It took me about 10 minutes to get everything changed and at least 10 minutes to inflate the new tube as much as I could using my hand pump.  I think it's time to get a CO2 cartridge and learn how to use it.


That SAG stop is at the bottom of the hill at Hueston Woods State Park.  The bad thing is that after entering the park downhill, you have to climb that hill back out.  Thankfully, the tire and tube held out for the remainder of the ride.  About another 20 miles in and I started feeling light rain.  I checked the radar on my phone and decided it would be best at my pace to complete the shorter route rather than attempt the 89 mile route.  I didn't want to get soaked if it started raining harder.  There were and additional two bridges and two SAG stops and the rest of the ride was rather uneventful, thankfully.  



I completed the 64 mile route in just over 4 hours (plus stops, including replacing a tube).  My average speed was 15 miles per hour and I was pretty pleased with that considering all the climbing I did.  There are considerably more hills in Southwestern Ohio compared to Northwest Ohio where I do a majority of my riding.  I look forward to riding this ride again next year.  In the meantime, I'm trying to figure out if there is a way to squeeze in the Ohio to Erie trail by bike in July.  Then, at the beginning of August, I'm registered to ride the Amishland and Lakes ride in Northern Indiana.