32-mile ride

Met up with Ken and another Staples guy on Saturday in Woburn, we biked 16 miles to Minuteman Park in Concord, MA, then met up with a bunch of people doing the century (100-mile) ride, and rode the last 16 miles back to Woburn with them.

It was perfect weather, and a really nice ride.

The ride back was a little harder, as it was more uphill – one hill in particular just seemed to go on and on and on.

On the way there, I felt like I was using my brakes a lot to keep from passing our group, but on the way back, riding with the century riders, it took a lot more effort to keep up.

One rider took a spill, as a car passed, he went down. I was a little back, so didn’t see what happened – if the car brushed him, or he brushed the car, or if the wind or distraction of a passing car caused him to swerve. Perhaps it was exhaustion, as he’d been riding for almost 100 miles.

The driver circled around to see if he was ok. He was, no damage to him at all, though the bike needed the handlebars straightened again.

The rest of the ride went smoothly, except at the very end. There were some hills, and I fell behind tyhe group a little (there were two groups at this point, the faster group which I was riding with, and the slower group a couple miles back.

As I fell a block or two behind, I lost sight of the front group just long enough to miss if they had turned or not. I stopped at the intersection, and looked in either direction. No sign of them.

I waited a couple minutes to see if the slower group would catch up, but they must have been further back. I chanced it and went straight.

Which of course, was the wrong way.

And it lead straight up a very long hill.

A long hill that eventually ended in a cul-de-sack.

I stopped and got out my iPhone, and used the GPS. Sure enough, where I had gone straight, I should have gone right. Had I turned, the end was only about a mile away.

So I hopped back on my bike and headed back to the intersection. At least it was downhill.

When I got to the ending point, a crowd of people were there, and cheered me in – both the fast and slow groups had already arrived, and had been contemplating sending out a search car to try and find me. I arrived dead last. Not that it was a race, but still pretty embarrassing.

I stayed long enough to rest, have a beer and a burger, and then headed back home where Adam’s birthday party was already underway.

All in all, it was a fun ride. I’m still not sure I could do a century ride, but I could do a half-century pretty easily. Provided I don’t get lost. =)

A Ride and a Crash

Went for a bike ride on Saturday with Sarah. We stopped at a bike shop on the way to the rail trail and got her tire adjusted and inflated, then found a parking spot at the head of the trail.

It was a perfect day, in the low 80’s but with cool breezes. The rail trail was busy, but not crowded – we would have to pass someone every few minutes, but mostly it was open trail.

On either side of the trail are farms and trees, with occasional views into the surrounding town, flashes of gas stations and restaurants through a break in the trees. There is an ice cream and polish food shop on the side of the trail at one point. We didn’t stop there but we did last time we were on the rail trail. It’s a nice little mom and pop shop with good food and ice cream.

We rode on, through a few intersections, through a couple tunnels, all the way to the other end of the trail, about 9 miles. We rested a bit and then headed back. After only a few feet, we quickly turned around – Sarah had left her camera on one of the picnic tables there. When we got back a nice couple was holding it for us, we retrieved it and headed out again.

We stopped at a beaver dam to look at it and the numerous dragonflies, Sarah managed to get a couple decent shots of a dragonfly, even though they would fly away if you got too close. We wondered about the beavers themselves, I posited they might be nocturnal and all asleep (we looked it up later, I was right).

Then we headed out again and that’s where things got bloody.

We were cruising along, when all of a sudden, Sarah’s bike wobbled, swerved, and she went down. Hard.

My blood ran cold, for two different reasons.

Firstly, it looked like she went down hard enough to have possibly broken something, and could be badly hurt. We were close to a town, but far enough that getting to help might be difficult, especially if she had a broken leg. Luckily, we had brought our cellphones, she had quipped as we headed out “you know, in case we need to dial 911.”

At the same time, I was worried that she would never want to go bike riding again. I flashed to my friend Mike who got into a car accident and basically decided never to drive again.

The rail trail is paved, which makes for a smooth ride, but a very hard and painful landing.

She had pitched off the bike partway sideways, partway over the handlebars. I pulled up and hopped off my bike. There were ragged bloody patches on her knees and arms, and her leg was stuck between the handlebars and the frame. I lifted the handlebars up so she could get her leg out, then I helped her get sitting up.

She had held out her hand as she fell, so her wrist took a hard impact, and hurt the most. Her fingers had bent backward when she hit, and her pinky was very tender to the touch and swollen. She tried to move her pinky and wrist, they still had circulation and movement, but she almost passed out when she first tried to move them. I sat with her, trying to think what to do next. She didn’t seem badly injured enough to warrant an ambulance, but she was too injured to ride 8 more miles back to the car. As we were, we were in the woods, but near a road. It seemed like if I got the car we would have a lot more options, we could drive to a hospital to get an x-ray, or if nothing seemed broken, we could go to Sarah’s and get her patched up.

A woman walked up and asked if Sarah was okay, if we wanted her to call an ambulance or anything. Sarah said no thanks, that she was hurt but didn’t think she needed an ambulance.

After a bit, Sarah seemed a little less dazed, and I got on my bike to ride back to the car. I felt bad leaving her alone on the trail. I marked our location on my iPhone’s GPS, and took off down the trail as fast as I could.

I’m no Ben Peck, but I made pretty good time back to the car. I put my bike in the back of the car and gave Sarah a call to let her know I was on my way. I had a little difficulty matching the iPhone location with the map on my Prius, I wish both would just show me the lat and long coords and let me punch them in manually.

After a little trial and error I found Sarah. I strapped her bike to the car, and we went into town to a pharmacy for Sarah-patching supplies. We sat in the park and I acted as nurse’s assistant in washing the wounds with saline and bandaging them up, since Sarah’s right wrist and pinky hurt too badly for her to use them. Then we went to a brewery/pub to get some lunch and get Sarah some much-needed beer.

First ride, first injury

I went for my first bike ride of the year today. This week is “bike to work week” so seemed like a good kickoff.

I met Ben at his house, and we biked from there to Staples, then after work biked back. It was a nice ride, though hilly, which showed me that while I thought I was in decent shape, I’m not when it comes to biking.

The ride went smoothly, but I had a mishap afterwards.

Last year I bought some bike shoes and bike pedals that clip together, but hadn’t been able to put the pedals on because the old pedals were on too tightly. Ben got the old ones off for me, using a vice to hold the crank steady while he used a wrench attached to a long piece of pipe to get the leverage to loosen the pedals.

Once the new pedals were on, and the clips were attached to the bike shoes, it was time for me to try them out.

I found them very, very difficult to use. Getting clipped in is a matter of exactly lining up the clips, and putting all my weight down on it until it snaps into place. And getting out… well, that’s where the mishap occurred.

I was leaning against Ben’s porch railing, practicing getting clipped in and out, and got clipped in, but couldn’t get unclipped. To unclip the pedal, you have to rotate your foot about 60° – which wouldn’t be too bad if it was a pivot from the toe, but the clip is in the middle of the foot.

Try it right now. Put your foot flat on the floor, and try to pivot it somewhere between 45° and 90°, using the arch of your foot as the center of rotation. It’s not easy.

Unable to unclip myself, I fell sideways, crashing into the steps with the bike on top of me. I held out my hand as I fell, so although my leg hurt, it was my hand that took damage.

Ben helped me unclip by grabbing my foot and rotating it. Once free, I noticed the ring finger on my right hand was bleeding, from a couple scrapes on the side, and also I had torn the skin off my fingertip, it hung as a flap.

I mentioned this to Ben, he made an “urk” sound and went to get some bandaids. For some reason Ben’s squeamishness around blood strikes me as out of place, because he’s very matter-of-fact and non-squeamish in all other matters. As a father of two kids, he must have to deal with blood and other bodily fluids all the time…

The mechanical advantage of using clips is pretty big, they make it so that you apply energy to the bike on the upstroke in addition to the downstroke, without a clip you are only applying energy on the downstroke. Clips also make it easier to stand up on the bike, for going up steep hills.

For those reasons, I’ll practice using the clips again until I get it, but right now, I’m not a big fan of them.

I Survived!

I did the 30-mile bike ride Saturday, and I did not die.

The ride was in two parts, 15 miles to the parking lot by a soccer field, where we rested for 45 minutes or so, and then met up with people riding a century (100 mile) ride and rode the last 15 miles along with them.

The first half wasn’t too bad, though the heat was oppressive and inescapable. It was around 90º, with hot breezes. It was kind of tough, but I made it through ok.

At the rest stop, there was not really any cool place. There was some shade, but the breeze was still hot. There was a soccer field, where you could lie in the hot grass.

Bill’s family drove to the soccer field and brought snacks and water. I refilled my camelpack and ate chips to replenish salt and grapes because they were cool and sweet.

While we were waiting, a van pulled into the parking lot. It was marked as a Microsoft Live Local truck, and had an array of cameras on the roof. Microsoft and Google are both driving vehicles like this around, competing to make street-level panoramas. This bearded guy hops out of the van, goes around to the back, and thumps around for a while. Then after a while, he gets back in the driver’s seat and does donuts for a while. Then he tinkers some more and does some more donuts. Finally as we are getting ready to head out, he drives off.

Maybe he was calibrating the GPS, or maybe he was rebooting because his van had the blue screen of death.

Ben, who had done a few miles prior to the century, and thus was hitting 100 miles as he pulled into the parking lot, proceeded to set up a bike with a half-bike strapped to it for his daughter Lily to ride, and an enclosed carrier strapped to that for his son Matthew to ride in.

So not only did he ride 115 miles, he did the last 15 with 100 pounds of kids strapped to him. I mentioned Harrison Bergeron, but no one else had read it.

The second half of the ride was much harder. Although it had cooled down a few degrees and the breeze was no longer hotter than the rest of the air, the terrain was hillier. Also, the cool breeze, while nice, meant we were biking into the wind, making it that much harder. There were two spots where the hill was so steep I had to walk to bike a bit. I didn’t feel too bad, since a couple other people did the same. Had I known the second hill I walked up was only a few hundred feet from the end, I might have used the last of my energy and powered up it.

But I made it to the end, where there was a BBQ and I had a veggie burger, a hotdog, and a couple beers.

Next time, it better be a shorter ride, or a cooler day, I barely made it through this one. During the last half I had serious doubts about finishing, and considered giving up. Especially since it seemed to be uphill most of the way.

But I made it through, and seem none the worse for wear, though my ass is a little sore. I can see the benefits of padded bike shorts, but I’m not into the whole “spandex super-hero biker” look.

30-Mile Ride

I’m kinda nervous, I’m doing a 30-mile bike ride tomorrow, the most I’ve done before is around 10 or 12 miles.

Ben was reminding me today that I’m going to be at a disadvantage, since everyone else is in better shape and rides regularly.

I’m pretty sure I can handle 30 miles, but it’s not going to be any fun if I’m struggling to keep up the whole time.

It’s too bad I don’t have any friends who are casual bikers… seems they are either hardcore, or don’t ride at all. Every once and a while Ben does an easy ride with his family, and those are fun, but even then it’s hard to get anyone to go with me.

Oh, well. I guess I’ll see how it goes tomorrow.

Worst case, I guess I give up halfway, and have someone come pick me up on the side of the road. That would suck, though.


The ups and downs of biking to work

Today was “bike to work” day at Staples. I didn’t bike all the way from home, which would be around 25 miles, but instead drove to the Staples Data Center in Marlboro, where I met up with some friends to bike the more manageable 6 or so miles from there.

The ride in was nice. The weather was nice, it was sunny, but misty and pretty cool. The route we took was mostly flat, with a big hill at the end, which was easier than I remembered. When we arrived the event sponsors gave us a goodies bag (tshirt, travel mug, pen, “I’m here to save the planet” pins, bike safety booklet) and a voucher for a free breakfast (up to $5) in the cafeteria. I took a shower (being naked at work… feels so wrong, yet so right), changed into work clothes, then grabbed my free breakfast.

I got the Heart Healthy Start Special (egg beaters, whole wheat toast, turkey sausages, and a slice of melon) and a Nantucket Nectars Blueberry and Apple juice. Normally I don’t get those juices because despite being 100% juice, they are high in calories, sugar, and price, but I had my magic voucher so I figured why not. It all came to $4.45. Damn, shoulda got one more thing, Staples got out of paying 55 cents (you get no change from a voucher). Oh well.

Then it was off to meetings and coding and whatnot, the usual day at Staples.

The ride back… woo.

To start with, it was 93ºF (the F stands for “Fucking Hot”) out. We were also riding into a pretty strong wind. And not a cool, refreshing wind. A convection oven wind. It was also just me and Ben riding back. Ben is an expert biker, and though he was holding back and waiting up for me, the pace felt faster than in the morning. Also, we took a different route back, which is somehow uphill all the way, with only one or two brief spots of downhill. By the time we reached the Data Center and my car, I was soaked with sweat, and reaching the last of my CamelPack of water (thank god for that, though, or I wouldn’t have made it).

Once at my car, I hastily shoved my stuff and my bike in the car (fold-down seats are nice), Ben continued his ride home, and I started my drive home. I barely cared which direction I was going on the highway, all that mattered was that I was in the car, with sweet, sweet AC. I really, really, really loved my car at that moment. I kept the AC cranked and pointed directly at my head until I started to get an ice cream headache.

I saw two interesting things on the way home.

First was a white minivan, adorned with the diamond-shaped signs you see on semi trucks. They read “Radioactive” and had the radiation symbol. There was a company sign on the side, I’m guessing maybe stuff for medical use. Either that or a really poorly disguised super-villain.

The other interesting thing I saw was very sad. I saw a mother duck leading her ducklings across 290. 290 at around 6pm is very busy, and everyone’s going around 70 miles an hour. She strode forward, defiant in the face of speeding cars. She did not flinch or hesitate, but moved forcefully ahead at a brisk pace. As I passed, they were in the breakdown lane, I was in the middle lane. I watched in the rear-view mirror, as they reached the first of three lanes, a car swerved into the breakdown lane around them to avoid hitting them. After that, they were too far back to see, but they had two more lanes to go, and it didn’t look like traffic slowed down. I have a sinking feeling they didn’t make it.

I got home and took a nice lukewarm shower. Ahh, clean and cool again.


I got back from Sarah’s and decided to get Parallels 3.0 installed on my now wiped-clean mac before going to bed.

I downloaded it, installed it…la la la… put in my serial number… and it wants my previous serial number as well, since I have an upgrade license.

No problem. I seach my gmail… nothing. I bought it before I switched to using gmail, so it’s not in there.
I search the backup I made of my mac hard drive before I wiped it… nothing.
I check the plist files from the backup, in case the serial is stored there… nothing.

I must have a email reciept from the purchase, so I look at my old copy of Thunderbird on my Windows machine… nothing.

There is still some old email on psouth, before I used to have the “leave on server” option checked for email.
I check that… and there are 3,000 emails to download, which are going one at a time as they get scanned by my virus checker.

I lie down to take a little rest while it downloads, it’s 2am at this point, and I’m a little drowsy.
Surprise, surprise, I fall asleep. Side note: those memory foam pillows are pretty comfy. I’m still getting used to it, since it’s extra-firm, but seems to be good on my spine.

I wake up at 6:30am, still in my clothes, mouth feeling pungent since I hadn’t brushed my teeth. I also realize I left Trouble out all night. She hates daylight, I think she feels exposed, or just dislikes all the people and cars. After calling her a few time she darts into view from the side of the house, covered in cobwebs. She must have been hiding under a bush or a neighbor’s porch.

So still no luck on the serial number. I suppose I could remove the new hard drive, put the old one back in, boot up, run Parallels and write down the serial number (if it shows it), then put the new HD back in again, but seems like a lot of trouble when I should have it around someplace.

Tomorrow is “Bike to Work Day”. Weather.com says scattered showers tomorrow morning, hopefully not on me as I ride. I’m not riding all the way from home, that would be 25 miles or so, instead I’m meeting people at the Staples Data Center in Marlboro and biking from there, only 6 miles.

Rail Trail

I went with Ben and his family on a rail trail ride this morning. I overslept and almost missed it, but got up just in time to scramble out the door and get there 10 minutes late.

It was really sunny when I left, so I only wore a t-shirt… it got overcast after that, and was slightly chilly, but not bad, still pretty nice weather.

The ride was nice and easy, since it was a family ride – slow, and only 10.5 miles – the perfect first ride of the year. Ben’s also doing another ride tomorrow, but that one’s more hardcore, and at 7am. Even if I were in shape for that, which I’m not sure of, I had enough trouble getting to the 10am ride this morning.

rail trail

I took a bunch of pictures, mostly while riding, so they’re probably a bit blurry and badly composed.

Now I’m taking a little break, having a cup of coffee, and then I think I’ll go over to That’s Entertainment and check out Free Comic Book Day.