Thursday, January 29, 2015

Chocolate Mishap

Due to an unforeseen, but entirely preventable, mishap whilst attempting to make home-made macadamia nut dark chocolate last night, The Bikeist has been forced to take a one week hiatus.  He will return some time after he manages to finally clean up the God-forsaken mess that resulted when he allowed the entire tray of molten glop to spill all over the inside of the freezer -- instantly hardening onto everything it touched.

Yeesh .  .  .

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ride Hard My Friends . . .

You know you are hard on bikes when the guys at your local shop always greet you with a wry "what is it this time" type of smile when you appear at the mechanics' entrance.  When you ride every day, and at every opportunity, your bike is going to amass a bit more wear and tear than bikes that are pulled out of the garage more intermittently.  In my case, though, the issues always seem to be more dramatic than mere wear and tear.  Last year, alone, I went through more than a dozen spokes and cracked my frame -- all without even crashing.  After rebuilding my back wheel twice, Holland's finally just gave me a new set of Mavic wheels (which have held up nicely, thank you very much).

I have previously written about my bike's mysterious creaking issue -- originally diagnosed as a saddle problem, but, when a new saddle didn't make the creak go away, a hairline fracture in the frame was found right next to the seatpost (and, thanks to Specialized for replacing the frame for free!)  Despite all the frustration in diagnosing the creak and waiting for a new frame, I was actually pretty happy that the ordeal led me to the new saddle - a Selle Anatomica X:

These leather saddles are actually made by a San Diego company and are so, so comfortable.  I've been riding mine for six months now with ZERO soreness.  The large gap in the center creates a nice hammock-like effect that works like magic.   Plus, it looks SO cool!

Tension is maintained (preventing sag) by tightening the tension-bolt under the nose of the saddle.  Speaking of that bolt, it was the latest subject of amazement for the guys at Holland's, because, simply through road-riding, I managed to crack the steel bracket that surrounds the bolt:

Look at that!  You'd think I was Danny Macaskill dropping off the top of my house onto a boulder garden on my road bike, but this is simply what our lovely San Diego roads can do to sheer metal.  Brian at Holland's said he's never seen anything like it.  The good news was that the housing was replaceable, and Anatomica honored the one year manufacturer's warranty and sent the new part for free (which was easy to install myself).

Waiting for the part gave me and the All-Purpose Do-Anything Urban Assault Bike some quality time together, which is always fun, but it was nice to get back on my road bike again once it arrived and I got the saddle back together again.

Hopefully, this was just a freak occurrence, but I sincerely hope that this bracket makes it longer than six months -- you'll be the first to hear if it doesn't (well, perhaps the first after the folks at Selle Anatomica) --

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


So, I bought this book for family and friends this Christmas, and sent a select few a slab of premium bacon along with their present:

I bought the book for myself right before Christmas simply based upon enjoying Grant Petersen's first book, "Just Ride":

Have to admit that, while I didn't agree with every single thing Grant said in "Just Ride," it was definitely one of the primary sources of motivation for me to do this blog.  His overall premise that bikes and the world of biking should be fun and not, solely, the realm of pretentious wanna-be racers, really resonated with me.

His original book included a few fitness and dietary tips, but the real focus was bikes and biking.  In his more recent effort, he addresses how, after struggling with weight his entire adult life (who hasn't?) despite  hundreds of thousands of miles on bikes, he finally got permanently lean and strong by revamping his diet and approach to exercise.  I read a lot about fitness, diet, exercise, etc., so I wouldn't say that this book was completely revelatory to me.  However, he did an excellent job of succinctly capturing the fruits of science and research that has been emerging in the worlds of diet and exercise in the last few years.  Reviewing them in a fun, easily digestable format reminded me that I had all the information I needed to gain total control over my fitness, but just needed to implement that info -- as Grant had.

Non-revelation #1:  Avoiding ingestion of carbohydrates results in weight loss.  Duh -- Atkins figured this out back in the 70's.  I have dabbled with low-carb at times, losing weight easily whenever I did, but always worried about the health effects of ingesting so much fat.  Hard to totally embrace a high protein/fat diet without hearing the echoes of "experts" touting low-fat diets in your head.  Well, many opf those e"experts"have been issuing apologies of late since studies that have emerged in the last several years have revealed that the fat that clogs the arteries of typical Americans doesn't come from ingested fat - it comes from stored fat.  And what causes us to store fat at greater rates than any other food-stuffs?  Sugar and carbohydrates.  Minimize these in your diet and your body has no choice but to burn up ingested fat as a fuel source.  Pretty simple.  Again, this wasn't completely new to me, but taking a tour through the science with Grant, and reading about how he implemented it himself (including great recipes) sort of gave me permission to go low-carb for good.  And it was SO easy.  Once you do it for a short while, you realize that bread, tortilla, potatoes, rice, pasta, and corn-stuff are all incredibly bland and tasteless.  Any flavor they have, comes from the real food that they serve as a delivery device for.  So, why not just eat that real food and toss the empty, sugar-laden calories?  Best example:  my favorite breakfast burrito in San Diego is the Californian at Cafe 1134 on Coronado:  apple smoked bacon, eggs, avocado, and one of the best salsas on the planet.  Well, it also comes as an omelette!  Scrap the tortilla, and you still have an incredibly delicious breakfast.  Same goes for ditching the bun and going "protein style" at In-n-Out -- just as delicious!

Non-revelation #2:  Short, high-intensity workouts are superior to long low-intensity workouts (e.g. jogging).  Now, this was truly not news to me, because I have already been preaching the value of burpees and other quick, off-the-bike high intensity exercises on this very blog.

The value, for me, of exploring this concept via Grant's book was that he provides lots of ideas for various ways to get these quick, high-intensity work-outs done.  Burpees are great and all that, but so is variety.  The exercises that most intrigued me were kettle-bell swings and presses and a really fun workout he touts that involves taking a medcine ball out to a big field, throwing it as far as you can, running to it, picking it up and repeating for four minutes.  A true caveman-style workout -- just tossing your big rock around a field.  Right up my alley!

So, how does this play into biking?  Well, that's where Petersen connects with his first book.  Don't ride to get lean, fit, fast, etc.  Ride for fun.  Eat right and do 5 - 15 minutes of high intensity strength conditioning a day, and ride whatever way makes you happy.  If climbing mountains or doing centuries makes you happy (as they certainly do for me), then great -- but don't make biking a chore.  Biking should just be gravy on top of the minimum effort it takes to truly get lean and strong.

Down 25 pounds already, and lost weight straight through the holidays, while eating plenty of bacon, eggs, steak, shrimp, cheese, nuts, and other delicious foods I love.  Never hungry . . .

Don't believe me?  Well, read the book!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Once Upon a Time . . .

Once upon a time, there was a not-so-long-suffering wife who liked to ride bikes with her wonderful, Bikeist husband . . .

Fans of the Bikeist's neverending Bikeography are already well aware of the tortured relationship between my long-sufferering-wife and bikes.  In our early days, she used to ride with me all the time.  We took our bikes on our honeymoon to Nantucket, Cape Cod and Vermont, on vacations to Acadia and Block Island and used to do lots of weekend jaunts.  As my wanderlust got stronger and stronger, though, and the jaunts evolved into what she termed "death-marches" she suddenly, and decidedly, retired from biking.  Luckily, she never laid down an "it's me or the bikes" ultimatum, so I was able to continue to chase my obsession -- alone.

Nothing wrong with alone, though -- I'm surrounded by people all day, every day, and am the only male in a house full of women and budding women, so the bike is a great place for me to gather my thoughts and enjoy a little forced solitude.  However, I have missed the jaunts.

I've occasionally tried to lure my long-suffering-wife back onto bikes for short trips over the years, but she has always had an excuse at the ready, the main one being that her one-speed beach cruiser was too clunky and heavy.  Then, out of the blue this Fall, she suggested that she might be more willing to ride if she had a lighter bike with multiple speeds.  She only had to suggest once, because at that moment I determined to get her the perfect bike for Christmas.

But, what bike to get?  It had to be easy to ride, comfortable, have a reasonable range of speeds, and, maybe most importantly, be pretty.  Couldn't be a road bike or mountain bike -- she'd reject either immediately.  She also very quickly fell out of love with the dull, hybrid-style bikes she had ridden in the past.  What we needed was a town bike, something European looking, a bike that begs to be pedaled.  This led me immediately to the classic "mixte" style - a dropped cross-bar bike, that isn't quite a "ladies" bike.  my first thought was to go with one from Public, the company that provides bikes to Kimpton Hotels:

But, at well over $1,000, this beauty was a bit pricey given the risk of my long-suffering-wife not re-embracing the joys of riding.

Next was this version from Linus, that my friend Francine rides on our Thursday night "Circumnavigation" rides:

Great bike, which I was all set to get, until I visited Holland's and saw that Electra had entered the European-style bike game with their "Loft" seven speed.  The price was great, and with some accessorization, I was able to make it a thing of true beauty:

Took this shot right before hiding it in my friends', Gary and Terry's garage until Christmas -- always so exciting to know Christmas will involve a new bike for someone!

I retrieved it from said garage late on Christmas Eve after everyone, including long-suffering, was dead asleep, and then placed it prominently in front of our beautiful, real (of course) tree.  

You should have seen her eyes light up when she saw it -- love at first sight!  She couldn't wait to take it for a spin, which we did in the afternoon, just around the neighborhood.  It fit her like it was custom made for her -- perfection.

We were busy with visiting relatives most of the rest of December, but, once they were gone, she joined me on a cafe ride to Cafe 1134 for breakfast this weekend -- just a little over 2 miles each way, with great coffee and breakfast in the middle.  We were jaunting again!

I remember, way back, before her sudden retirement, that she joked that she would only agree to ride with me on islands, since I could only bike a finite distance.  I guess that makes Coronado (minus the Strand) just about perfect then!  As long as I keep things within the confines of the island, I think we may have an infinite number of rides together ahead of us --

And they biked happily ever after --

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Bike Year!

The Bikeist will be back with full force next week, after a restful, and ride-filled Christmas and New Year's.  May you all have your best years in the saddle yet!