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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Looking Back Over 2014

This past Sunday, I was able to get out and ride 18.6 miles, which put me over my latest cycling goal in 2014.  My initial goal this year was 800 miles.  This proved to be rather simple to get.  Once I hit that, I realized I was on track to hit another milestone.  I hit 1000 miles this fall and then noticed another milestone as I looked back over the past three years.  In 2012 and 2013 combined, I completed 1,110.74 miles.  I was really close to going over that, so I set forth to double my pre-2014 mileage.

This became a bit difficult when I cut my thumb on a chainsaw during my time off for Thanksgiving.  The ER told me it was a good chainsaw injury in that it only require 3 stitches and wasn't the loss of a body part or head trauma.  This actually kept me from getting out because of the pain when I'd try to grasp anything like handlebars...or my toothbrush.

This weekend, the temperatures reached the mid-40's and I knew I only needed 17.5 miles to go over my mileage for the past two years combined, so I headed out for a ride between church and the children's program at church that evening.  I was able to complete 18.6 miles, bringing my year total to 1,111.95 miles.  That's crazy to think I rode over 1,110 miles in a single year!  That included two 100 mile rides, with one of those being the same weekend as another ride that I participated in.  That weekend, I completed 164 miles between Saturday and Sunday.  I never thought I'd complete that kind of mileage in a single weekend!

I'm looking forward to more riding next year and am trying to decide what goals to set for myself.  I'm also starting to consider other gear I may need.  Below is a list of items I'm starting to think I may need:

  • Toe covers to help keep the cold off of my toes while riding in cooler weather.
  • Winter long legged bibs for warmth in cooler weather.
  • Long-fingered gloves.
  • Rear rack with pannier bags for longer rides or commuting to work.
  • Professional bike fitting to make sure I'm on the bike right.  My back and shoulders always bother me after a ride, so I think there may be some adjustments needed.
  • RoadID. I have a ID on my shoe that my wife got me, but I really like the design of the RoadID bracelets.
  • CO2 tire inflater.  Had to hand pump up a tire early this year and that was not fun along the side the road.
  • Faster bike?  Or is it that I need to pedal harder or faster?
  • Heart rate monitor bracelet (no chest strap!).
A few products I've come to love this year:

  • NUUN Energy
  • Rip Van Wafel
  • Honey Stinger Waffles
  • Gu Energy Gels (Vanilla and Root Beer)
  • Several different energy bars and protein bars
Well, I guess that's all I really wanted to share.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year if I don't write again before 2015!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Am I Losing My Mind?

I was just looking at my calendar and realized I've registered for two organized cycling events this weekend, both offering a 100 mile option.  In one sense, that means I have two shots at getting my second century ride (goal) in for this yer.  In another sense, I obviously wasn't looking at the calendar when I registered for a second event on the same weekend.  Google Calendar week view goes Sunday to Saturday, so I didn't even notice that Saturday and Sunday are both scheduled rides.

Saturday, I'm registered to ride in the 2014 Black Swamp Bike Tour in Bowling Green, Ohio.  This ride offers routes of 25, 50, 63, 75, & 100 miles.  My goal is to complete the 100 mile route to complete my goal for this year of riding 800 miles and two centuries.  Mind you, I'm only 7 miles away from the 800 mile goal.  If the weather cooperates, I'll to the 100 on Saturday and consider a shorter ride on Sunday.  I don't think my body will recover quick enough to attempt two centuries in one weekend.

Sunday, I'm registered to ride in the Hancock Horizontal Hundred in Findlay, Ohio.  This ride offers routes of 20, 32, 62, and 100 miles.  If the wind on Saturday cooperates and I'm able to complete 100 miles, I will probably attempt the 32 or 62 on Sunday.  This would be the most mileage I've completed in a single weekend no matter which route I choose.  My previous one-weekend total is 114 miles, I think.

Do you ever schedule back to back rides or races?  How did it go?

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.