jayfurr: (Zzyzx)
Tonight was a night that I'll remember for a long time. I worked from home today and didn't get away from my computer until after 6 because of a late meeting, thinking "I wonder if it's even worth it to go for a ride; it's so late already." But I hadn't counted on it being an absolutely perfect evening outside: gentle breeze, temperature around 72, mostly sunny with patchy clouds. And the route I wound up picking is one I definitely will do again: three miles along busy Route 2 to the middle of our little town of Richmond, then up Jericho Road and Browns Trace Road (and by 'up', I mean UP), then a turn east onto mostly dirt Nashville Road through pleasantly bucolic country and the sounds of chirping birds and distant lawnmowers, and finally a steep, steep descent down Stage Road back to Route 2 and home. (You can see my route here -- for fun, click the link at the left that reads "Bolton Loop (End)" and take a gander at the route profile -- which inexplicably shows elevation in meters and distance in kilometers -- especially the bit at the end.)

17 miles, all told, and except for the stretches on Route 2 there were almost no cars out; I had the roads almost to myself. Just the sort of perfect, quiet, lazy evening that one imagines every bike ride potentially being, but few actually turn into. The flowers are all blooming and each time a breeze turned my way the air was full of fragrance. In a Hollywood movie they'd probably have ruined it with a soundtrack made up of merrily uplifting and whimsical strings, but I got by just fine with the call of local songbirds.

I'll admit I made poor time, only averaging nine and a half miles an hour, but I really wasn't in a huge hurry. It was the sort of evening one wants to prolong. I should also mention that stretch at the end, coming down Stage Road, which seemed pretty much vertical at times. I try not to go 90 miles an hour on extremely steep dirt roads with loose dirt and gravel now and then. The rest of the ride was moderately hilly, especially the stretch up from Richmond to Jericho, but on my new bike and my stronger, more-in-shape legs, I had absolutely no trouble with any of it. If it's nice tomorrow evening (and the forecast seems to indicate that it might be), I might just go do it all again.

There are times I feel really, really lucky to live in Vermont.

jayfurr: (Zzyzx)
Tonight was a night that I'll remember for a long time. I worked from home today and didn't get away from my computer until after 6 because of a late meeting, thinking "I wonder if it's even worth it to go for a ride; it's so late already." But I hadn't counted on it being an absolutely perfect evening outside: gentle breeze, temperature around 72, mostly sunny with patchy clouds. And the route I wound up picking is one I definitely will do again: three miles along busy Route 2 to the middle of our little town of Richmond, then up Jericho Road and Browns Trace Road (and by 'up', I mean UP), then a turn east onto mostly dirt Nashville Road through pleasantly bucolic country and the sounds of chirping birds and distant lawnmowers, and finally a steep, steep descent down Stage Road back to Route 2 and home. (You can see my route here -- for fun, click the link at the left that reads "Bolton Loop (End)" and take a gander at the route profile -- which inexplicably shows elevation in meters and distance in kilometers -- especially the bit at the end.)

17 miles, all told, and except for the stretches on Route 2 there were almost no cars out; I had the roads almost to myself. Just the sort of perfect, quiet, lazy evening that one imagines every bike ride potentially being, but few actually turn into. The flowers are all blooming and each time a breeze turned my way the air was full of fragrance. In a Hollywood movie they'd probably have ruined it with a soundtrack made up of merrily uplifting and whimsical strings, but I got by just fine with the call of local songbirds.

I'll admit I made poor time, only averaging nine and a half miles an hour, but I really wasn't in a huge hurry. It was the sort of evening one wants to prolong. I should also mention that stretch at the end, coming down Stage Road, which seemed pretty much vertical at times. I try not to go 90 miles an hour on extremely steep dirt roads with loose dirt and gravel now and then. The rest of the ride was moderately hilly, especially the stretch up from Richmond to Jericho, but on my new bike and my stronger, more-in-shape legs, I had absolutely no trouble with any of it. If it's nice tomorrow evening (and the forecast seems to indicate that it might be), I might just go do it all again.

There are times I feel really, really lucky to live in Vermont.

jayfurr: (Taco)
I has STUPID FITNESS PLAN! Details below! ZOMG!

I am scheduled to fly home tomorrow night from Los Angeles and arrive home around noon on Friday. Assuming nothing untoward comes up, Carole and I will then drive down to Boston for two events: ROFLCon II and the Boston Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure Preview Expo. When the weekend is over, I'll actually be working out of the office for three straight weeks before beginning a few back-to-back-to-back weeks of travel.

So here's my lame-o fitness plan for the month of May and June:

When I'm at home, every non-teaching day that it's not predicted to snow, rain, or be excessively windy I will bicycle to and from work: 18 miles one-way, 36 miles round-trip.

On days I'm teaching or that the weather forecast doesn't look good, I will have Carole drop me at the office and then I will walk home from work: 18 miles.

On May 9 I'll be doing a 30-mile bike ride for the Lund Family Center.

On Friday, June 11 I'll be doing the Chittenden County, Vermont Relay For Life -- and I won't stop walking all night long to take any rest breaks. We'll see how far I can walk in 12 hours strolling around a track with a bunch of other people. I don't expect to be rocketing along at a 4 mile an hour clip, but you never know. This will be my first RFL and I get the impression that it turns into a slow plod in the middle of the night.

I hope to also lead some 3-Day training walks for local 3-Day walkers -- too bad we don't have more of 'em in Vermont but we are sort of the rural back end of the universe and we usually do well to get even a handful of people to join us.

Finally, on either Saturday, June 19, or Sunday, June 20, I will walk 60 miles in one day. I'll have Carole drop me off at midnight at the USA/Canada border (for her sake, I may start the walk at 10 pm so she's not driving all the way back home after midnight) and walk home, Alburgh to North Hero, North Hero to South Hero, South Hero to Grand Isle, Grand Isle to Milton, Milton to Colchester, Colchester to Essex, Essex to Jericho, and Jericho to Richmond. Sixty miles. 24 hours. Should be fun.

jayfurr: (Taco)
I has STUPID FITNESS PLAN! Details below! ZOMG!

I am scheduled to fly home tomorrow night from Los Angeles and arrive home around noon on Friday. Assuming nothing untoward comes up, Carole and I will then drive down to Boston for two events: ROFLCon II and the Boston Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure Preview Expo. When the weekend is over, I'll actually be working out of the office for three straight weeks before beginning a few back-to-back-to-back weeks of travel.

So here's my lame-o fitness plan for the month of May and June:

When I'm at home, every non-teaching day that it's not predicted to snow, rain, or be excessively windy I will bicycle to and from work: 18 miles one-way, 36 miles round-trip.

On days I'm teaching or that the weather forecast doesn't look good, I will have Carole drop me at the office and then I will walk home from work: 18 miles.

On May 9 I'll be doing a 30-mile bike ride for the Lund Family Center.

On Friday, June 11 I'll be doing the Chittenden County, Vermont Relay For Life -- and I won't stop walking all night long to take any rest breaks. We'll see how far I can walk in 12 hours strolling around a track with a bunch of other people. I don't expect to be rocketing along at a 4 mile an hour clip, but you never know. This will be my first RFL and I get the impression that it turns into a slow plod in the middle of the night.

I hope to also lead some 3-Day training walks for local 3-Day walkers -- too bad we don't have more of 'em in Vermont but we are sort of the rural back end of the universe and we usually do well to get even a handful of people to join us.

Finally, on either Saturday, June 19, or Sunday, June 20, I will walk 60 miles in one day. I'll have Carole drop me off at midnight at the USA/Canada border (for her sake, I may start the walk at 10 pm so she's not driving all the way back home after midnight) and walk home, Alburgh to North Hero, North Hero to South Hero, South Hero to Grand Isle, Grand Isle to Milton, Milton to Colchester, Colchester to Essex, Essex to Jericho, and Jericho to Richmond. Sixty miles. 24 hours. Should be fun.

jayfurr: (Cycling 2)
I'm not God's gift to cycling. That being said, I'd like to be in better cardiovascular shape and more fit and strong in general, so I've tried to do a lot more cycling this year, 100 or so miles a week.

However, I started the 2010 cycling season riding a mountain bike on the road, a mountain bike with big wide fat tires for offroading, and eventually people started asking me "why are you doing that?" The day I cycled 25 miles home from work (taking the long scenic route) and got passed by dozens of people on their skinny-tire road bikes convinced me it was time to get a real bike.

So: on Thursday I went to Earl's Cyclery and Fitness in South Burlington and bought a Trek 7.6 fx hybrid bike with skinny tires, a lighter frame, etcetera, etcetera. Didn't get to pick it up until Friday, but I rode it around for a few miles after work and then loaded it into the car and took it on home.

On Saturday Carole and I bicycled 55 miles, starting at Rice High School in Burlington all the way south through South Burlington, Shelburne, Charlotte, and into Ferrisburgh, and back again, following the route that the Lund Family Center's Mother's Day ride will have the 55-mile riders follow. It was a very hilly route but I did absolutely fine on when the time came to climb hills; I powered right up them without difficulty. In that regard, I found myself liking the new bike a great deal. The problem was in the downhills: I don't trust myself on those skinny tires yet and I'm terrified every time I have to go down a steep slope. I honestly don't know how well the brakes will work; will I squeeze 'em too hard, arrest the bike instantly, and be flung over my handlebars at 30 miles an hour? Will I skid and wipe out?

I imagine most people don't worry about things like that, but I had a really bad wreck while bicycling during my senior year in high school, wiping out at the bottom of a steep hill when I'd gotten going far faster than the ability of my bicycle's brakes to smoothly stop me. Emphasis on the word 'smoothly'. I stopped all right, when I exited the bike at high speed and skidded sideways across a patch of gravel and asphalt that took half the skin off my right arm. Ever since then I've spent far too much time fretting "How do I stop this thing" and thinking too much.

Carole, on the other hand, rides a Townie, an old-fashioned-looking but actually pretty modern commuter bike that keeps its rider in an upright forward-facing stance. Not exactly a bike to ride bicycle races on; in fact, it turned out to be as inappropriate for long-distance rides as my old mountain bike had been. Her fatter commuter tires worked fine for her; she's comfortable with them and with her brakes, so when we got to a steep hill she'd zoom down and up the hill on the other side, while I'd be cautiously coasting down riding my brakes the whole damn way out of sheer PTSD-influenced flashback-laden don't-want-to-wreck terror. Then I'd zoom past her on the uphill and wait for her at the top, and so on, and so on. Took us 7 hours to do 55 miles, and that's too long; the Lund ride expects people who do the 55-mile distance to complete the route in at most 5.5 hours. I guess I should call them up and have us switched to the 30-mile distance.

But that being said, I'm sure I'll get more comfortable with my skinny tires and come to learn how much I can trust my brakes. I don't doubt that the brakes will work absolutely fine -- it's a brand new $1,250 bike, after all. The problem is with my head: I don't viscerally, instinctively know that if I'm on a hill of a certain steepness and I'm going a certain speed ... how far from the bottom I should consider applying the brakes and how tightly I should squeeze.

Some of you reading this might say "Why brake at all? Enjoy the speed!"

Well, sure, but I don't trust my balance on those skinny tires well enough to avoid absolutely getting myself killed if I get the bike up to 40 miles an hour, hit a little rock or a bump, and go flying. Even a little destabilizing wobble at high speed could be pretty darn fatal if I'm not accustomed enough to the bike to know how to recover from the wobble in time.

I think too much. That's what caused me to have such trouble getting SCUBA certified the first time. But it is what it is -- all I can do is spend enough time on the bike that the ease and familiarity eventually do come with time.

jayfurr: (Cycling 2)
I'm not God's gift to cycling. That being said, I'd like to be in better cardiovascular shape and more fit and strong in general, so I've tried to do a lot more cycling this year, 100 or so miles a week.

However, I started the 2010 cycling season riding a mountain bike on the road, a mountain bike with big wide fat tires for offroading, and eventually people started asking me "why are you doing that?" The day I cycled 25 miles home from work (taking the long scenic route) and got passed by dozens of people on their skinny-tire road bikes convinced me it was time to get a real bike.

So: on Thursday I went to Earl's Cyclery and Fitness in South Burlington and bought a Trek 7.6 fx hybrid bike with skinny tires, a lighter frame, etcetera, etcetera. Didn't get to pick it up until Friday, but I rode it around for a few miles after work and then loaded it into the car and took it on home.

On Saturday Carole and I bicycled 55 miles, starting at Rice High School in Burlington all the way south through South Burlington, Shelburne, Charlotte, and into Ferrisburgh, and back again, following the route that the Lund Family Center's Mother's Day ride will have the 55-mile riders follow. It was a very hilly route but I did absolutely fine on when the time came to climb hills; I powered right up them without difficulty. In that regard, I found myself liking the new bike a great deal. The problem was in the downhills: I don't trust myself on those skinny tires yet and I'm terrified every time I have to go down a steep slope. I honestly don't know how well the brakes will work; will I squeeze 'em too hard, arrest the bike instantly, and be flung over my handlebars at 30 miles an hour? Will I skid and wipe out?

I imagine most people don't worry about things like that, but I had a really bad wreck while bicycling during my senior year in high school, wiping out at the bottom of a steep hill when I'd gotten going far faster than the ability of my bicycle's brakes to smoothly stop me. Emphasis on the word 'smoothly'. I stopped all right, when I exited the bike at high speed and skidded sideways across a patch of gravel and asphalt that took half the skin off my right arm. Ever since then I've spent far too much time fretting "How do I stop this thing" and thinking too much.

Carole, on the other hand, rides a Townie, an old-fashioned-looking but actually pretty modern commuter bike that keeps its rider in an upright forward-facing stance. Not exactly a bike to ride bicycle races on; in fact, it turned out to be as inappropriate for long-distance rides as my old mountain bike had been. Her fatter commuter tires worked fine for her; she's comfortable with them and with her brakes, so when we got to a steep hill she'd zoom down and up the hill on the other side, while I'd be cautiously coasting down riding my brakes the whole damn way out of sheer PTSD-influenced flashback-laden don't-want-to-wreck terror. Then I'd zoom past her on the uphill and wait for her at the top, and so on, and so on. Took us 7 hours to do 55 miles, and that's too long; the Lund ride expects people who do the 55-mile distance to complete the route in at most 5.5 hours. I guess I should call them up and have us switched to the 30-mile distance.

But that being said, I'm sure I'll get more comfortable with my skinny tires and come to learn how much I can trust my brakes. I don't doubt that the brakes will work absolutely fine -- it's a brand new $1,250 bike, after all. The problem is with my head: I don't viscerally, instinctively know that if I'm on a hill of a certain steepness and I'm going a certain speed ... how far from the bottom I should consider applying the brakes and how tightly I should squeeze.

Some of you reading this might say "Why brake at all? Enjoy the speed!"

Well, sure, but I don't trust my balance on those skinny tires well enough to avoid absolutely getting myself killed if I get the bike up to 40 miles an hour, hit a little rock or a bump, and go flying. Even a little destabilizing wobble at high speed could be pretty darn fatal if I'm not accustomed enough to the bike to know how to recover from the wobble in time.

I think too much. That's what caused me to have such trouble getting SCUBA certified the first time. But it is what it is -- all I can do is spend enough time on the bike that the ease and familiarity eventually do come with time.

jayfurr: (Atop the fire tower)
I, who went vegetarian during Lent a year ago and went vegetarian "for good" in July, just put a giant mess o' corned beef and vegetables in the fridge for my wife to eat tomorrow. Me, I'll be in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, so I won't have to face the stuff, but she wanted some for some reason. No cabbage, though -- she had her fill of purple cabbage slaw tonight while we watched NCIS.

I'm finally feeling mostly better, although not enough to go back to my happy little routine of an hour jogging on a treadmill set to 13 degrees incline. Maybe by this weekend. Saturday is supposed to be mostly sunny, high of 58 -- awesome weather for the first day of Spring 2010. I've talked to Carole about maybe just walking home, 15 miles, from the mall after our four-mile indoor training walk for the 3-Day. Maybe we'll do that, or maybe we'll do a 35-mile bike ride. Either way, what bliss! :)

On another 3-Day note, the video blog entry (http://bit.ly/jf3day) I wrote was posted to the Susan G. Komen For The Cure Facebook and Twitter feeds today by the 3-Day staff, so I got a lot of new friends who saw it and friended or followed me. No donations yet -- the new audience was mostly people who are raising funds for their own 3-Day walks. But I still hope. :) I'm $235 shy of the $2300 I need to raise to get into the Tampa Bay 3-Day, and who knows? Maybe some angel will look down and help me out between now and the weekend. It'd be splendoriffic if I made my minimum by the beginning of Spring. (If anyone wants to help out, my donation URL is http://www.the3day.org/goto/jayfurr. And thanks!)


jayfurr: (Atop the fire tower)
I, who went vegetarian during Lent a year ago and went vegetarian "for good" in July, just put a giant mess o' corned beef and vegetables in the fridge for my wife to eat tomorrow. Me, I'll be in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, so I won't have to face the stuff, but she wanted some for some reason. No cabbage, though -- she had her fill of purple cabbage slaw tonight while we watched NCIS.

I'm finally feeling mostly better, although not enough to go back to my happy little routine of an hour jogging on a treadmill set to 13 degrees incline. Maybe by this weekend. Saturday is supposed to be mostly sunny, high of 58 -- awesome weather for the first day of Spring 2010. I've talked to Carole about maybe just walking home, 15 miles, from the mall after our four-mile indoor training walk for the 3-Day. Maybe we'll do that, or maybe we'll do a 35-mile bike ride. Either way, what bliss! :)

On another 3-Day note, the video blog entry (http://bit.ly/jf3day) I wrote was posted to the Susan G. Komen For The Cure Facebook and Twitter feeds today by the 3-Day staff, so I got a lot of new friends who saw it and friended or followed me. No donations yet -- the new audience was mostly people who are raising funds for their own 3-Day walks. But I still hope. :) I'm $235 shy of the $2300 I need to raise to get into the Tampa Bay 3-Day, and who knows? Maybe some angel will look down and help me out between now and the weekend. It'd be splendoriffic if I made my minimum by the beginning of Spring. (If anyone wants to help out, my donation URL is http://www.the3day.org/goto/jayfurr. And thanks!)


jayfurr: (Cycling)
Carole and I don't get out on our bicycles as much as we'd like. The main reason is that our house sits just off a busy two-lane state route where the locals tend to exceed the speed limit to a dangerous degree. It's a twisty, occasionally steep road where you'd have to pedal at least three miles to get to much of anything and where you'd have to pedal more like ten miles before you'd actually have gotten somewhere. Nonetheless, each year we show a great deal of enthusiasm at the start of the warm-weather season and then we become more slothful as the summer goes by.

Saturday was our second bicycle ride of this year's warm-weather season. We parked at Oakledge Park in Burlington and followed the Burlington bike path 9.5 miles north to the very beginning of the Colchester causeway, the rail trail that leads out across an arm of Lake Champlain. I was game to keep going north but Carole was tired and wanted to turn around. So we did, ending up with a 19-mile ride. The bike path is never very hilly but it has long continuous slopes in a few places and in previous years we've found them tough going at the start of the year.

This year, oddly enough, we both felt much stronger. Perhaps (for my part) that's because of the walking I've been doing for the Breast Cancer 3-day but part of it may be because we'd done more to stay hydrated with lots and lots of water and stay powered up by eating things like Clif Shot Bloks. I've always felt a little silly about eating GU energy gels and Hammer Shots and Clif Shot Bloks; I'm no marathoner who has to eat those or pass out from enervation halfway through the event. But they do seem to make a difference. Perhaps using them will help us with longer and longer kayak trips and bicycle trips and so forth.

Anyway, it was a nice little ride. We need to do a lot more.

Our route (Oakledge Park is at the southern end):



Me and Carole at the Winooski River bridge between Burlington and Colchester:



Carole at North Beach in Burlington:



jayfurr: (Cycling)
We did our first bicycle ride of the year today; it was finally warm enough, not raining, AND neither Carole nor I had to put in hours at work on the weekend.

We drove in to Carole's office in Williston, left the car there, and biked six miles to our dive shop on the Burlington waterfront -- which, if you know the area, means going down one heck of a steep hill toward the end. Since every fifty yards there was another cross street, we did a lot of "accelerate downhill, WHOA STOP, accelerate downhill, WHOA STOP" until we were finally there. Once there we bought a new pair of dive boots to replace the ones Carole somehow managed to return from Florida without, then poked around the waterfront for a while before retracing our path back up the hill. Carole insisted she be rewarded with a stop at Al's French Frys in South Burlington; she got the strawberry shortcake and I had a cone of their orange soft serve ("creemee", in Vermont parlance) dipped in their butterscotch dip. Then we went on back to the office and put our bikes back on the car and so to home. Round trip, 13.6 miles. Not much in serious biking terms but it was a nice little ride anyway. Hopefully it'll be the first of many more.



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