Monthly Archives: December 2016

Fall Leaves

This entry was posted in Important Society Issues on by .

Leaves changing and falling from the trees is really what defines fall and signals the coming of winter.  (Is it leaves or leafs?)  But, I have a pet peeve about fall and leaves.

When I was a kid, our whole neighborhood would pretty much get together and rake our yards on the same weekend.  We had huge leaf piles that we’d all jump in. Then we’d burn the leaves in the street gutter and it would be super smokey.  Kind of weird now, but that was the way it was back then.

People used to take care of the gutters in front of their houses.  Not anymore.  At least in Topeka.  I live in a pretty good neighborhood in Topeka and most of the street gutters and nearly all the sewer grates are clogged with leaves.

But when many people rake their leaves, most put them into plastic trash bags and have the trashmen pick them up.  That is wrong is more than one way.

First of all, I read something about leaves in a dump and it is a high percentage, something like 16% of all volume.  I think it said that 125 million tons of leaves are put into landfills in the US.  We’re putting stuff into a landfill that would decompose on its own.  What is up with that?

We have a couple compost places in our backyard.  I can add as many leaves as I want and they are mostly gone by the next spring.  It makes super garden additive.  If you don’t want to rake the leaves and put them in a compost bin, then just mow them and let them help your yard.  Or rake  them and put them around your bushes.

Up in Mount Prospect, a Chicago suburb, where Trudi grew up, all you have to do is rake  your leaves to the curb and every Monday they come by with a special vacuum truck and the suck them up, shred them and then they take them to the vegetation dump.  Every city should do this.  Clogging up our storm sewers with leaves is just dumb.

Anyway other than bagging them up and giving the trash guys more work is okay.  We have enough problems in our society than filling our trash dumps with vegetation.   Someone, maybe our city officials, need to educate us all about what is the right thing to do with leaves.  We’re doing it all wrong now.

One of my neighbors driveway.

One of my neighbors driveway.

Another. This is nearly weekly all fall.

Another. This is nearly weekly all fall.

Nothing like the storm sewers being clogged. If you have a storm sewer in front of your house you need to keep it clear.

Nothing like the storm sewers being clogged. If you have a storm sewer in front of your house you need to keep it clear.

This guy has been coming nightly to the compose pile. I guess he like the fruit peels or something.

This guy has been coming nightly to the compost pile. I guess he likes the fruit peels or something.  I’ve been teaching Tucker to not bark in the yard, but he can’t help himself with an opossum.


Sunflower Party

This entry was posted in Fun Stuff on by .

Last night Sunflower Outdoor and Bike had its annual customer appreciation party.  It is usually the first holiday deal of the year around here.  At least for me.  I was a little apprehensive about going there, thinking that I only have a short amount of time I can keep an energy level up good enough to enjoy a holiday party.  But, I did alright.

Downtown Lawrence Kansas around the holidays is great.  It is really decorated and pretty.  The downtown area is sort of the original downtown from the 1800’s.  Many of the building, including Sunflower, have limestone foundations and walls.  I like that.

Dan Hughes is the proprietor of Sunflower, so the MC.  It is a great shop.  If you ever have a chance to go by, you should.

Dan has won the DK 200 more than a handful of times.  Anyway, Dan is great and keeps a festive atmosphere.  He gives away a ton of stuff and does a raffle that gives away a lot of other stuff too.  A guy I ride with from Lawrence, Marcos,  young daughter won a Rockshoc Sid 29’er fork.  She said that she was giving it to her dad for Christmas, which is sweet.

Everyone there was so nice to me.  Wanting to know how I was doing and saying that I looked so much better than they thought I would.  I guess that is good, I think.

Anyway, I held up okay.  I took a stroll down Mass. St. during the middle to get some fresh air, which really helped.

I slept nearly 8 hours last night, which is a record by miles.  I don’t feel that great, but it has to be a good thing.

I have two doctor’s appointments today.  This will be the last ones for a couple weeks.  I’m sort of tired of the whole routine, even though I understand that it is important.  The deal is I’ve learned just about everything I’m going to know about what is the matter with me. And that seeing a doctor isn’t really going to help much in the near term.  At least if it stays status quo, which is good.

Okay, tomorrow is the Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade in downtown Lawrence. Over a 100 horse-drawn carriages.   I usually ride there, but not this year.  But it will be great getting out of the house for sure.  Hope you have a good weekend.

Dan talking to the masses.

Dan talking to the masses.

Upstairs at Sunflower.

Upstairs at Sunflower.

The parade a couple years ago.

The parade a couple years ago.

Massachusetts Street is all like this.  Very festive.

Massachusetts Street is all like this. Very festive.




Airplane Flights

This entry was posted in Important Society Issues on by .

I woke up early this morning and was listening to the BBC.  They had a pretty good segment on airplane flights and greenhouse gases.  Man, there is a lot of information to digest on this subject.

They said something like there are 100,000 flights per day currently.  And that 3.5 billion passengers per year currently fly.  That number is nearly 1/2 the population of the planet now.

Obviously jet planes use fuel, which causes warming.  The fuel a flight uses, per person, is quite a bit more than an automobile, considering how much distance a flight covers.

Burning the fuel also cause clouds.  They are addressing that there are so many flights and the flights obviously make contrails, which affects the greenhouse gas problem.  The contrails create clouds and these clouds are high clouds that are complicated.

The high clouds contain warmth for the planet, that has a next warming effect. But these clouds also reflect the sunlight, which has a net cooling effect on the planet.  So the problem is to figure out which is stronger.

They tried to compare the amount of sun reflected from volcanoes, even 9/11, which grounded nearly all aircraft for 72 hours.  There was a study during 9/11, when the flights were grounded, that showed that with no planes in the sky, the nights were cooler and the days were warmer. This gap was over 1 degree, which seems extreme for only 3 days of no airplane flights.

Anyway, it is complicated and, I’m sure, won’t really be addressed until it is too late to correct. I’m pretty sure that the US is going to be contributing way more to the heating of our planet the next four years.  At least if the president elect keeps his campaign promises.   Funny that the rest of the world is intent on addressing this and, currently, we’re dragging our feet.  Go figure.

Contrails are pretty, but maybe not so good for the planet.

Contrails are pretty, but maybe not so good for the planet.

On a happier note, a hunter's trail camera filmed a mountain lion in Shawnee County, where I live. This is the first photoed mountain lion near Topeka. They are very stealthy and shy.

On a happier note, a hunter’s trail camera filmed a mountain lion in Shawnee County, where I live. This is the first photoed mountain lion near Topeka. They are very stealthy and shy.



Lawrence Christmas Horse Parade

This entry was posted in Fun Stuff on by .

Yesterday I went over to Lawrence and watched the annual Christmas Parade.  I normally ride the 30 miles over there, but that wasn’t an option this year, but it was still super fun.  I think they have over 120 different groups of horses that come to downtown to celebrate the holidays.  Anyway, here are some photos from yesterday.





Cleaning up the poop at the end.

Cleaning up the poop at the end.

Phil Gaimon’s Strava KOM Cleansing

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

I saw a few days ago, on multiple internet sites, articles about Phil Gaimon riding around LA and taking Strava KOM’s from Nick Brandt-Sorenson, aka, Thorfinn-Sassquatch.   Nick had a doping sanction issue and has a time-out from racing for the rest of his life.  That didn’t stop Nick from setting Strava KOM’s all over Los Angeles.

So Phil, who lives in the area, decided to allocate a month of his soon-to-be retirement and take most, if not all of Thorfinn’s records.  I got a lot of emails, and comments here, about this.  I was going to post on it when I first saw it last week, but didn’t have the energy.  Maybe still don’t.

Although, I think it was my original idea, which was a April Fools post this year, I applaud Phil for doing this.  I wish I hadn’t been out of commission for the full month of November and I would have ridden a few of those climbs with Phil.  I was heading out to LA to ride the Mike Nosco Memorial Ride in early November and was hoping to do Phil’s Grand Fondo a couple days later. (He has lots of cookies for rest stops.)  Maybe he’ll leave a couple for the rest of us.

Phil only went up Latigo around 9 minutes faster than me.  I’ve only ridden it a few times, and have always stopped before the top to eat some watermelon, so he probably only beat me by 4 minutes or so.   I think I need a shorter, steeper climb anyway.

Here is the link to Cyclingtips for Phil’s own description of his quest.  It isn’t a bad way to get the lay of the land out in LA, huh?

Phil and my buddy, Brad Huff, showing off the guns.

Phil and my buddy, Brad Huff, showing off the guns.



Racing Dehydrated/Lighter

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

I am finally reading my emails and got one last night from my friend, Jimmy Mac, that had a link to a Cyclingnews article.  The article was on “functional dehydration” relating to Chris Froome’s ability to climb faster at the Tour de France.  Jimmy Mac said I did an interview with him at Mountain Bike Action, over 10 years ago, with me saying the same thing.  I don’t remember that interview, but I’ve always had that view.

I think it is a personal thing how much water you need to consume while riding, or racing. Some guys need to drink constantly, others hardly at all.   I’ve read a bunch of articles stating how quickly an athlete’s performance declines with a small amount of dehydration.  I don’t have that problem.

Here is my example.  I raced the Pro Road Championships in Philadelphia multiple times.   The race was always in June and many times the temperature and humidity were close to awful.

One year, we were staying at a nice hotel, pretty much on the course.  The hotel had a scale in the bathroom.  I weighed myself right before I got dressed to ride to the start.  The race was hot, in the lower 90’s, with the humidity close to matching.  I took a bottle nearly time I went by the feed zone, but that was over 10 miles I think.

As usual, the race got faster at the end and I was feeling better and better.  There was a big split on the Manayunk Wall, which I made easily.  The finish laps were faster than any other time of the race, and I was riding faster, I felt better.  I don’t remember how I finished, but good.  I probably drank a beer and then rode back to the hotel.

When I got to the hotel, I striped down to shower and saw the scale.  I weighed myself and was 13 lbs. lighter than when I left.  That surprised me.  That was after drinking close to 15 bottles and a beer the previous 7 hours.  I was riding much better than last hour of a 6 hour race, having lost over 13 lbs, mainly through water loss.  That would have been close to a gallon and a half of water, by weight.

I started thinking about this for MTB racing.  I had heard that a few guys, had been taking diuretics before the races, which was completely illegal.  That they were shedding 8 lbs or so before the start.  We were talking about it and most the guys thought that it would be insane to be that dehydrated that much before a race.   I think that is wrong.  Here is a link to a abstract that says 3% weight loss through dehydration doesn’t affect performance.

I disagreed.  We’d done a study with the USOC, Olympic Training Center, getting weighed and hematocrit tested, before and after the races.  In a 2 1/2 race, most the guys lost somewhere around 6 pounds, which was on par with what I lost in Philadelphia, considering the time. Here’s a link to an abstract that says that being 3% light, through dehydration, doesn’t affect performance.

If I would have started the race 6 pounds lighter, because of dehydration, then I would have lost the 6 pounds and been close to the weight I finished Pro Nationals.  And I had ridden good at that weight, that dehydrated, on the road.

If I was climbing on a MTB that light, over 10 lbs., it is nearly a chainring difference, half the weight of my bike.  I’ve done this through dieting, but it only works for one race.  I have tried staying that light and always got sick after a couple weeks.

I typically don’t drink much training.  I think this season, early, I didn’t touch a water bottle the first couple months I rode.  Kansas isn’t that hot, but can be pretty hot sometimes.  I’ve ridden, many times, where I drink as much water as I can on a ride.  I fill up my bottles a couple times on a 5 hour ride.  Usually stopping and buying something ice cold about 1/2 way in.  Even so, I can come back 8-12 pounds lighter after a 5-6 hour ride.  (I’m really don’t sweat that much, like I don’t drip sweat all the time.) That is with consuming as much liquid I can find.  (I don’t use a Camelback.)

Anyway,  a Sky doctor saying that Froome being 2 kgs. lighter, through water loss, would aid in his ability to climb, wouldn’t surprise me at all.

I've done a fair amount of testing, most times, sweating a ton. My wattage historically has stayed constant.

I’ve done a fair amount of testing, most times, sweating a ton. My wattage historically has stayed constant.


Shipping Stuff is Fickle

This entry was posted in Just Life on by .

One thing that has really changed in my lifetime is the cost and speediness of shipping stuff.  And I don’t really understand it very well.

I remember one of the first times I was in Europe, I sent a lot of letters to friends and family.  My grandmother got the letter more than a month after I was home.  I shipped a box of extra stuff home from an Italian post office.  It took something like 3 months.

Then a couple years ago, I bought some VIttoria tubular tires from eBay.   They were from Italy. I emailed the seller and he said it would be $50 to ship them to me.  There were 25 tires and they were super cheap, so I figured $2 a tire was okay.  That was on a Monday, late.  Wednesday morning there was a box sitting on my front porch with the tires.   The tires got there nearly faster than I could have gotten home.

Now, if you buy a bike part from one of those British bike shops, the shipping is free and the stuff gets to your house super fast, like less than a week.  I have no idea how much it would cost me to ship a box to England, but I’d think it would seem like a lot.  And they include free shipping on bike parts that are less than 50% the cost here in the US.  Strange.

Getting you bike around is crazy now too.  For the first 15 years I raced, bike flew free, just counted as luggage.  Then they went up to $25.  Now, it is nuts.  Some airlines charge $200 each way.  I try to fly Southwest as often as possible because it is “only” $75 each way.  That, and that you can cancel your flight and still have use of the money you paid to fly later.

I’d heard a ton of good things about BikeFlights.  I just used it a couple days ago, but not for a bike.  I shipped a box of stuff to LA.  It was super reasonable and really easy to navigate.   I think a bike usually costs less than $40, at least that is what I’ve heard.  Pretty good deal if you’re flying on one of those airlines that make you bend over if you happen to be travelling with a bike.  They use FedEx.

So, stuff costs a lot to ship around the country.  I say that, but online shopping is at an all time record.  Two day shipping with Amazon is “free” if you belong to Prime.  But, Amazon Prime costs $99 a year,  so you have to add that in.

It seems like businesses and people that ship a ton get a better deal than us that just take our stuff to UPS or the post office.  I remember Keith Walberg used to be able to ship a bike from where he worked for about 1/2 the price than what it would cost me to take it directly to UPS.

What got me thinking about this is yesterday I received a ton of boxes from Amazon.  I’d ordered some Nite Ize dog lights and they were back ordered or something.  They were on sale for $1.56 when they normally are $5-8.  Yesterday, something like 8 boxes showed up. Each one, other than one, had one light in it.  These lights are miniature and weigh nothing. I didn’t get it.  They all came from the same place and all were shipped at the same time.  It had to have cost more for the boxes and shipping than it did for the lights.

And the batteries for the lights.  I can order them on eBay from China for $5 for 100 when they cost $3.95 each here.  That includes shipping, which is sometimes pretty quick.  I don’t understand how they can even ship them here for that price?

Maybe I just need to learn more about the cost to ship packages.  I use USPS, UPS and Fed Ex. Like I said above, BikeFlights ships all size packages.  RIght now, I might just use them a few more times and compare costs.

Each box had one light ,except one, with 6. Weird.

Each box had one light ,except one, with 6. Weird.

 A pile of Nite Ize lights. The pink ones were the cheapest, but they really aren't that pink. Tucker can somehow chew them off his collar when he is bored. He goes through a lot of them if I am forgetful and don't take them off after he walks.

A pile of Nite Ize lights. The pink ones were the cheapest, but they really aren’t that pink. Tucker can somehow chew them off his collar when he is bored. He goes through a lot of them if I am forgetful and don’t take them off after he walks.