blk: (Default)
Bike log, June 2017: 205 miles

Trips this month included a couple jaunts down to the Three Rivers Arts Festival downtown, a few trips to Iron City Circus Arts's new location on the South Side, a Weekend Hill ride, and a Flock party ride, where some members of the ride successfully harassed an aggressive bus driver.

I also survived my first (I think) instance of being "hit" (physically touched while in motion) by a car; fortunately it was a very light brush at low speeds and not only was nothing hurt, I didn't even fall over. I called 911 to report it after I got into work. Oddly (and annoyingly), talking to the officer was more emotionally wracking than the actual incident was, probably because missing the adrenaline rush.

No bike changes; it's a lazy month.
blk: (Default)
Bike log, May 2017: 195 miles

The biggest thing this month to affect my mileage is that I moved offices at work a few blocks down the street, taking my commute from a range of 2.6-3.7 miles to 2.9-4.0 miles. Although I can do the route into work in about the same time since now I can take the last third of it down Forbes which includes a big hill.

The vaguely-bike-related upgrade I did this month was to get a new phone, which is current enough that it doesn't randomly crash on me nearly as much, and has a much more accurate GPS. So I've been able to track my riding a bit more often, which uploads to the National Bike Challenge. Which, no surprise, still stucks. Well at least I'm not putting effort into it.

I did a few longer rides: one leisurely ride around the river trails, once to Open Streets, and one Weekend Hills ride.

Butt is still kinda sore during rides > an hour or so. Thinking maybe my saddle isn't the right one for me, despite it being a pretty color of blue. Wheels lights also annoyingly go out randomly sometime after I turn them on. Could possibly be low battery but more likely bad wire connection but I haven't figured out where. I will try one more time to debug, then I'm just going to order new ones (since they are super cheap).
blk: (Default)
Bike log, Apr 2017: 190 miles

Apr 1 started off with a trip to the bike shop for a spring cleaning, where I got a new chain and cassette, with about normal wear and tear on it. Nothing else new, although the saddle I installed last month is definitely taking some getting used to. It's comfortable for my daily rides now, although more painful on longer rides, but I think the difference is actually how hard I'm riding (i.e., if my weight is more on my butt or on my legs/arms) and not how far I'm riding. Definitely involves less chafing than the previous one, though.

Bike things! Beer Week happened this month, so I biked from to Hough's twice, one of which involved me trying out the runnel on the Alexis St stairs. While it was an interesting experience, I'm not actually sure that it was significantly less effort than just riding up Greenfield. I guess it used different muscles? It was definitely hard work, although less hard than straight up carrying the bike that same route. Xuth and I also biked to the Science March in Oakland, which happened over Carnival weekend, which made it super convenient to get to alumni events, a BBQ, and back home again. Last week we biked downtown for dinner and Disenchanted with some friends, which was entertaining, although not awesome or even terribly memorable. Then on Saturday I helped bike marshall for the second time for the East End Brewery Keg Ride, which went well and the weather even mostly cooperated and didn't start the downpour until after we finished the ride.

I went ahead and joined the National Bike Challenge, since it uses Strava and I sometimes use Strava (only sometimes because the app crashes or otherwise just fails to record an annoyingly high percentage of the time), although I'm not very enthusiastic about it because the interface is really non-obvious. I can't even figure out how to join a team.

I'm very happy it's nice enough weather that I can just bike around to various things I want to do.
blk: (Default)
Bike log, March 2017: 165 miles

March was a lower mileage month than February, which was pretty completely unsurprising, given that February was basically half springtime and March turned back to winter for half of it. I rode downtown with Xuth for a Brain Candy show, and around town with other women in International Women's Day, but then I went on vacation and it got cold and wet and stayed that way for a while. Finally near the end of the month we got a few nice days and I did an full Friday evening of easy trail riding.

Last month I installed the Oi and was pretty unimpressed. It only fits by moving my shifters and brakes up and out of the way, is hard to ding properly, isn't very loud, and becomes useless if anything is touching it, like my Barmitts, which I had on for the middle half of the month. I was just about ready to take it off on the next bike maint day I got, when I went for a trail ride and actually used it and it actually worked. Like, people heard it and moved out of the way. So I decided to keep it for a while longer, at least until I find another bell that I like more.

The tape holding the vinyl on my bike saddle together held up for a few weeks but was really irritating my thighs by the end. I ended up deciding on a slightly older model of the fi'z:k Vesta saddle that I found at a good price and most importantly, in a grey and blue color scheme that matches the rest of the blue on my bike. Yea, color coordination. It's MUCH firmer of a saddle than anything I've had for the past 6 years, so much so that I had to raise up my seat post by an inch to account for the lack of padding. The first couple days were slightly uncomfortable, but I think it's something I will acclimate for. I haven't done any longer rides with it so I'll reserve full judgement until then.

Ended the month by riding down to ProBikes to get some basic spring maintenance done.
blk: (Default)
Bike log, Feb 2017: 220 miles

This is my second highest month mileage yet (beaten by 5 miles last August), and probably the most I'll ever get in a typical February. Well, but we might be out of typical Februaries.

But as luck had it, three of the four weekends had at least one really nice spring weather day, so I ended up getting out of a lot of longer rides. First was the 4th Annual Frigid Bitch, which I'm gonna say is the first bike race I've ever done (I did another alley cat previously but time wasn't a factor there). It was really fun! For a variety of reasons (there weren't too many optimal path options; a lot of people riding; and groups are better at riding in traffic), people ended up riding in clumps, and a couple friends an a couple new friends and I solidified into a group of 5 after the 2nd checkpoint. I am NOT a bike racer, and it felt like I was barely keeping up with them for much of the ride, but I managed it, and our group arrived back and tied for 14th place! So I got some cool swag out of it, too, because the swag tables were literally overflowing with stuff. My legs were in soooooo much pain afterwards but it was worth it. Imma doing it again next year. That was 26+ miles of race (in about 2:15), with 12+ miles of traveling to/from.

The next weekend was also amazing, so there was an impromptu Weekend Hills ride, which was a lot hillier than the race but also a lot more leisurely. Saw a lovely fixer-upper house for sale out in Sheraden, ate cookies and donuts and a fabulous pasty, and had got a light sunburn. wtf, Feb. Last weekend brought a beautiful summer day on Friday, so I meandered around the South Side a bit, rode downtown to march for trans rights then rode around trails with some friends, failed to get into a club, and settled for dinner and beers.

Bike changes: I finally installed the OI bike bell that I received last month, and I'm... unimpressed. First off, the only place it actually fits on my handlebars is right next to my grips, which meant moving my shifters a half inch left, which means they don't work quite as smoothly. Also, I ordered this thing like 6 months ago, paid a lot more than current costs, and didn't get it until it was available to the public. And finally, it's pretty and sounds nice, but it's not that loud. It also occasionally resonates quietly while I'm riding. I'm not sure what to do about it. I could replace it with the larger version and put it closer in to my stem, but that would make it a lot harder to thumb on demand. I'm going to ride like this for a while and see if I keep disliking it.

My super-cheap-but-functional bike seat is wearing out to the point that the vinyl (?) covering is cracking and irritates my thighs. I intend to get a new saddle, but I have decision paralysis on what I actually need. On one hand, I'm lusting after the Terry Butterly Galactic, as I know I like Terry and that one's preeeeeetty. On the other hand, I'm fairly certain I would be perfectly content with something basic that's 1/5 of that price, as long as it's a women's fit saddle. There are plenty of other nice saddles that get great reviews that I can find for sale prices online, but I'm leery of getting something that doesn't work for the type of riding I do. (I ride middling-upright on a hybrid, not "racing," commute 150+ miles a month (but (so far) not more than 50 in a day (and that's rare)), and it will have to sit outside in whatever weather on a regular basis). I suppose I should probably visit a LBS but then I anticipate feeling obligated to buy one of theirs. For now I'm putting off the decision, so instead I just put some duck tape over the cracks in my current seat to smooth it out, and will keep thinking about it.
blk: (Default)
Bike log, Jan 2017: 140 miles

I started off the new year by finally making the Icycle Bicycle ride with the Western PA Wheelmen group on Jan 1, as it was nice and sunny and not snowy. About 100 cyclists showed, all in tights and neon, mostly people I didn't know. It was a fairly fast-paced ride, but it was also only about a 15 mile ride, and on mostly flats, so I didn't have too much trouble keeping in a group (although I'd dropped to a later group by the end).

Then the rest of the month was just basic commuting, with a week off to drive up to Boston for a convention. There was a lot of cold and wet riding, which was not terribly pleasant for either me or the bike, although at least I have the gear to make it only mildly annoying instead of really dreadful. One ride home left enough snow packed up in my fenders that getting into work the next morning was particularly difficult. I made good use of the large exhaust pipe near the bike racks for drying it off that day.

I ended the month at a women's winter bike workshop, where I learned that I was not lubing my chain anywhere near as often or as thoroughly as I should be doing for the weather I'm riding in. Lucky for me, I was the only one who rode my bike to the workshop, so I got to have my bike used as the demo bike, and got a freshly lubed chain out of the night. More than worth the cost of admission.
blk: (bike)
Dec bike log: 80 miles

A minimal month, but not at all bad considering we had our first real snowfall (that affected roads) and then I took the final two weeks off for vacation. On the upside, I commuted in <10F weather for a day or two and survived it just fine, although I did accept a ride home from the company xmas party from a coworker who had a bike rack.

Bike updates: because of the excessively cold mornings, I installed my BarMitts early (last year they didn't go on until January). I'll keep them there through spring, even though I don't really need them when it's above 40F. I remembered to grease my chain after riding in the snow, but my front wheel has picked up another annoying squeak or two. Part of it is related to my brake but I'm not sure that's all of it. And of course it comes and goes so it's harder to debug. I also received a new bike bell but it arrived after the Mitts were on, so I haven't actually installed it yet.

I'm on the lookout for new goggles for when it's super cold and/or actively snowing. I have a really cheap pair which would probably work fine if I had a lot of constant wind or less variable temps, but for what I use them for they fog badly every time, despite a variety of anti-fog attempts, so I'm giving up on them. I do have an actual ski mask which works fine, but it's bigger and less compact than my ideal thing would be.

I broke my bike fast with a lovely New Year's Day ride yesterday, but technically that should be in next month's post.
blk: (bike)
Nov bike log: 200

Nov was a month minus four work days of riding. I got in a few longer rides on some nice weather days, once up to Riverview Park, once wandering around Duck Hollow and then across to the trails and around, and once with Flock to downtown for Light Up Night, where I by chance caught up with a small Major Taylor contingent and rode with them for a bit.

Now that daylight saving has ended and half of my riding every day is in the dark, I'm getting a lot of use out of my wheel lights, and a lot of attention. On one hand, it's fun to get so many compliments yelled at me (counted up to a dozen on light up night); on the other hand, I wish more bikes lit up so that mine weren't so unique.

For new gear: I picked up a pair of Endura Strike II gloves, which are not only flexible, waterproof, cold weather gloves, but they fit me super well and are very comfortable. They seem to work for cold about as well as my other cold gloves, but are less bulky. My first ride with them I was disappointed, as it was supposedly 28F out and I still ended up at work with frozen fingers, but then I checked teh intarnets and it said windchill was more like 12F. The next day, also reading 28F, I was reasonably comfortable. So maybe they aren't awesome with wind, but they should work well under my BarMitts. I tried them out in rain yesterday, and although the gloves got wet (and felt damp externally 8 hours later) my hands definitely stayed dry. So that's good.
blk: (bike)
Oct bike log: 175 miles

Biked to work every day of work, with a couple days missing for travel and sick. The sick part also made me cancel out of a couple group rides, and another one because of rain. I made time for a couple fun rides around the South Side, though. One day of rain riding; a couple days of cold (30s) weather riding. Nothing extreme.

For bike upgrades, I decided that my helmet either needed new padding or needed to be replaced, so I went with the replace option. I visited the local Trek store because I liked one of their helmets that wasn't in the WSD category, and wanted to know if there was any difference in fit. No, the local employee said, it's just color scheme. I find that really annoying. But useful for my purposes, as I was able to get a blue and black helmet, completing the color scheme for the rest of my bike, instead of the purple/pink/turquoise ones in the WSD line. Sigh. I also redid my helmet braids with fresh yarn, as the old ones were getting kind of ratty. Then I added in a pair of cat ears I picked up recently from a LBS sale rack. I angsted briefly about spending a lot of money on bike accessories, then realized that a single maintenance visit for our car cost me more than my frivolous bike spending for the last ~6 months. And people say biking is a luxury hobby.

For Halloween I carved a very nice bike-o-lantern that I'm pretty proud of. I also managed to get in some minor maintenance during the slow trick-or-treating time, namely tightening up the fenders, replacing padding on the back fender so it stops rattling, and greasing the chain.

Only slightly biking related: Last week Xuth and I saw Pedal Punk (teaser video), a mostly-rolling-things-based circus show, that was really well done and enjoyable. We biked downtown for it, got dinner at Proper, and then had our server trick-or-treat at our house a week later and recognize us.
blk: (bike)
Bike log for Sept: 150 miles

Not a whole lot happened this month, bike-wise. I biked to work almost every day i had work, except for the day I went directly to the airport. I went on one long ride (memorial/protest ride for Dennis Flanagan). I helped out with a bike/ped data collection count for CMU, which is a super boring job, but I appreciate that the numbers exist and someone has to do the tedious work of collecting it.

For bike parts, my taillight stopped working again, so I gave up fixing it and got a new one that will attach securely to my rack and won't run into my rack bag or my rear fender. And is a reasonable brightness, and USB rechargeable. I basically just walked into a LBS and said "give me something that works" for these requirements and walked out with a decent Serfas (UTL-60 I think). What I like best is that it has two lights that alternate, as I prefer some kind of moving lights (not just on/off blinking). Good basic lights plus the blue rim lights mean I think I'm about ready for nighttime/winter riding.
blk: (bike)
Bike log for August: 225 miles

August felt like a big bike month for me, so this is probably the high end of my regular mileage for a while. I commuted to work almost every weekday; I made it a point to run errands on bike when I could; I went on a few group rides, and I participated in a long ride for Pedal Pittsburgh and set a new PR for most miles in a day (48). I got some bike gear and did some minor bike improvements. Gave out three sets of bike lights.

Xuth helped me repair my wheel lights so I could ride to BikeFest, because they are made from cheap plastic parts and had attempted to self-destruct a while back, but now they are secured well and taped neatly around my rims, and I feel way more comfortable riding at night with them. The BikeFest party was somewhat anticlimactic compared to parties of the past, alas. The Try-a-Bike jamboree was a lot of fun as usual. I rode a tall bike for the first time and didn't fall off! Also a hoverboard. Maybe one of these years I'll eventually try a unicycle.

I bought new bike shoes which I felt oddly about, because my old bike shoes are still in fine condition, but the new ones have insoles I can replace with my new orthotics, which makes them feel really nice. The cleats are also just a tiny bit more recessed, so walking around is more comfortable with them.

I acquired a new bike lock, the Altor 560G. I was really excited for it as it promised to be less than half the weight of my current big U-lock AND allow for more flexible locking. Well, it is a nice lock but it is actually slightly more than 560g, and although the flexibility does allow for more configuring, the fact that it connects basically right at the joint with the same length of main arms means the triangle shape has less area than the U, and locking is actually slightly more difficult, rather than less. I'm additionally disappointed because I cannot lock it while it is fully compacted (for carrying) and also the locking head sticks at on a different plane than it folds up, so it can't lay flat - both things I hadn't thought about when ordering but realized I wanted once I put it into practice. Overall I still prefer it for the lighter weight, but I think it could have been nicer.

I started using a newer smartphone. The big effect here is the GPS in the newer phone is really quite good, and I can play with tracking apps. I've been using Strava for my daily rides, and the "segments" feature is pretty good motivation to practice my sprinting, although it's also demotivation if I look too closely at how I place compared to all other riders. It's not bad if I just look at the "today" stats. :-P

The good month was marred by the death of local cyclist Dennis Flanagan on a poorly designed roadway that encourages speeding and non-road sharing. That happened only a day before a PennDOT gave a presentation about a Forbes Ave redesign and "bettering" project. Unfortunately, it really didn't seem like PennDOT had given cyclist and pedestrian traffic much more than an afterthought, and there were 200 active community cyclists who showed up and objected to a lot of the proposed plans. I really hope something good came from that meeting other than reminding me that I really really don't like meetings that involve yelling, even when I totally empathize with the emotion behind it.

September is bringing nice weather already. Maybe I will try to get out on more actual leisurely rides (what are those again?)
blk: (bike)
Today I rode Pedal Pittsburgh's city tour. My goal was to ride the 100km (62mi) route for the first time ever. My second goal was to finish in time to hang out and get some beer at the finish line festival. My tertiary goal was to fail competently, with a smart bail plan. I succeeded at one of these!

I got up godawful early and started the route just after 7am with two friends who had promised to go slowly with me. The first 20 miles went without much incident, except that we dropped one of our three on the second big hill, because they weren't able to keep moving. Unfortunately, those first 20 miles took a good three hours, which put us on track to finish in... 9 hours. That length of a trip was not really in the plans, so we opted to skip the third big hill climb, and at 35 miles we ran back into our third (who had also skipped a big section) as well as a fourth who had been busy volunteering earlier. We set out to finish the 62, but within about 2 miles we collectively decided to switch over to the 25 mile route, which would save us about 10 miles on the rest of the route. Another ~7 miles and a hill later, it was getting late and we were all super tired and everything hurt, so we decided to ditch the rest of the planned route and just head straight to the finish line.

Total distance ended up being just about 48 miles. Alas, there was no free beer this year, and if I'm going to pay for beer, it has to be something that I actually like, and this wasn't it. But I failed at my goal very well! I didn't disappoint myself, I didn't try to push myself too hard, I didn't injure myself, I didn't get grumpy or cry, I didn't end up having to hop on a bus and take myself home, and I'm pretty satisfied at all of that. 48 miles is definitely further than I've ever biked in a day, and it included several thousand feet of climbing. I think I probably could do the full 62 if I was prepared in different ways: if I'd planned for a full day of riding (instead of a half day), if the weather wasn't quite so awfully hot and humid (it was above 90 by noon), and maybe a few other ifs. So maybe it can be a goal for next year.

I did a lot of things right on this one, though, including remembering to eat and drink regularly, even though I wasn't hungry, which is a very odd feeling for me, because I am constantly trying to stay in the habit of only eating when hungry (because overeating makes me feel physically not good). But I don't get hungry when I exercise, and while I can easily go for a 60 minute workout without any interim sustenance, that doesn't work for multi-hour workouts. I packed good snacks and made use of the rest stops and kept my energy up until the end. I wore clothes that were comfy, and sunscreened sufficiently such that the only places where I got burned were a little bit on the backs of my hands, because I forgot my gloves and didn't realize until I was about to start (I got a few weird blotchy red spots on my thighs, but I don't think those are sunburn).

Eventually I came home, had a wonderful shower, ate all the things, and got a beer. Now fall over.
blk: (bike)
Bike log for July: 125 miles.

I guess this is pretty minimal, representing a bike ride to work most (but not all) days, and basically no lunch or weekend trips. The only distinctive extra riding was one trip across the river to get custom orthotics made, which will hopefully help keep my foot from hurting with basically everything I do (except when it doesn't). Sigh.

I would like to bike more, but what I find myself wanting most often is just to take a slightly longer, more leisurely route on my way home. Except every single other route I can think of would involve more hills, more angry traffic, less quiet park, and definitely less leisurely. And then once I'm home I lose interest in going anywhere else. Hmph.

August I'm intending to at least make it to one of the bike parties, and hopefully to Bike Week, after I move the kid out.
blk: (bike)
Bike log for June (first entry): 202 miles

In June I biked just over 200 miles (it might be 205, as I vaguely recall not setting my counter early enough in the day on June 1, but I don't remember clearly now, so I'll call it 202). This is my base for comparison, I guess. It didn't include much other than work commuting, a few trips downtown, and a couple appointments just across the river on the South Side. All of it in Pittsburgh, all on my bike.

No incidents, although I did watch a cop run a stop sign in front of me while he was talking on his cell phone (he slowed, but didn't give me my right of way). Plenty of deer, rabbits, and groundhogs spotted in Schenley Park.

Many compliments on my helmet, most of them while I was biking at Open Streets.

Got a minor brake tuneup from Kindred on a whim. Accidentally acquired the mechanic's greaserag in return. Oops? I suspect they don't need it back.

The hills on my now-regular commute route are no longer horrible (although they are still a good workout). In exchange, my growing thigh muscles are once again starting to stretch some of my pants. This is annoying. At least I started with super skinny legs, and so more muscular legs means they're only slightly more bulky than normal. I can still find clothes that fit; it's just a little harder. OTOH, I've started appreciating tights and skirts more.
blk: (bike)
It's spring now, and that means that I can say that I succeeded in riding my bike through all of winter for the first time. Yay me!

This was greatly aided by primarily three factors that I can think of:

1. Acquiring Bar Mitts for my bike. My biggest problem in years past is frozen fingers below about 30F, despite trying many, many options of gloves and layers. Although the mitts weren't as magical as my high hopes had initially wanted, overall they were a success. They dropped the temperature I could be comfortable in by about 15 degF, when combined with my winter lobster gloves.

I suspect they would work even better if they started off inside, but our bike shed isn't heated. I tried disposable hand warmers in them to zero effect (too much empty space); reusable warmers seemed like they might possibly help (but not enough experimentation). But the overall effect was that I had no worries about any temps above 15F (and could ignore wind-chill differentials), which was most of the winter (see #3)

2. My route to work, which I modified last fall. The big cold-weather pluses are that the majority of it is very lightly trafficked (part of it closed to cars), and it is a longer, hillier route, with fewer stops.

Fewer cars (and cars at lower speeds) mean that if the road is slippery, I am MUCH less concerned about having to share the road with other traffic (both for my own possible loss of control, and even more for theirs). Fortunately, the Schenley Parks road crew did an EXCELLENT job at keeping the non-car sections clear of snow, and I only had to go through snow a couple times. (I sent them a Thank You note via 311 incident form, and got back an acknowledgement)

It being a slightly more challenging route meant that it warmed me up more. 10 minutes into my old route, when my hands start really freezing on a cold day, meant that I'd paused/stopped at 5-6 intersections, had mostly only downhill to go, and by the time I rolled into campus my hands would be in a lot of pain. 10 minutes into the new route puts me at the bottom of the second noticeable hill, with another to go, so by the time I rolled into campus, I'd had just enough workout to start thawing the extremities out.

3. Having an overall very mild winter. Not that I'm complaining, but there were only a handful of days where the morning was below 15F, only one vaguely heavy snowfall, and no real majorly ugly weather on workdays (like where it would rain, then freeze, then snow, so that plows wouldn't be able to get streets clear). I rode through snow a few times, but it was only an inch or so. I did WFH and take the bus a couple times, but I'm pretty sure those were pre-decided based on other life events, not by weather.

There are definitely still conditions I would be uncertain on - specifically when roads are icy. But I've conquered nearly all my major problems now, and just need to work on minor improvements. For example my ski goggles, which are great for when it's snowing, are >10 years old and have disintegrating foam, not to mention are tinted, which is suboptimal in the dark. And the hat I have which goes under my helmet smoothly and covers my ears well is kind of uncomfortable across my forehead and I want a new one (but it has to cover my ears). But the clothing layers were fine; my shoe covers are great; my hands are now sufficiently warmed; and I have bright, pretty blue lights on my wheels. This is good.
blk: (braids)
This week, having finished projects, costumes, college application, and the time of daylight saving, I briefly reached a point of feeling Caught Up On Life. It was glorious. Ways I used up my fleeting free time included:

- braiding my hair! I've been craving yarn braids for several months now, but I wanted to wait until after the super sweaty season and also until I had a full day or two to spare, as although I've gotten the process fairly efficient through practice, it was still about 8-9 hours of work. But I love having them, it's so much fun. I have so much hair! Well, "hair." I used the variegated color "Artist Print" and I like how the colors look. I suppose it's more spring than autumn, but oh well. I did have the very odd experience of going into work with it newly braided and getting zero reactions on it. None. No comments, no raised eyebrows, no nods of acknowledgement that something was different, nothing. I guess I have enough of a reputation of doing weird hair stuff that nobody thinks it's anything out of the ordinary now?

- biking! Beyond my enjoyable expanded daily commute, I also went on my first Weekend Hills ride since, oh, sometime last year when I almost swore off it forever because I was so frustrated. Specifically, since before I made some big diet improvements, so this was a reasonable comparison. Biiiiig difference. I could actually mostly keep up with the group, which meant it was finally the socially enjoyable experience I kept hoping for instead of just an exercise in managing anxiety (along with being a tiring workout). I also ran errands on bike yesterday, which made it really easy to stop by a bike shop and see if the techs could figure out an annoying tinking noise that just started (probably bad wheel bearings. grn).

- cooking! My officemate gifted me with a few frozen deer shoulders that he didn't want, so I put in my first attempt at making venison stew. Turned out very nice, got compliments from guests, leftovers are still tasty. Will make again.

- yardwork! In the last few weekends I've managed to collect 10 bags worth of (mostly) dead leaves. The city yard waste pickup is next Saturday, and thanks to the end of DST no more after work yardwork is happening so I'm considering myself done. Of course next week when the other half of the leaves fall everything will be covered again, but maybe slightly less so. And I can put the family to work clearing off more in a few weeks.

- reading! I've started a habit that whenever I see someone whose opinions I respect recommend a book, I check the library to see if it's available in ebook format, then check it out (or put myself on the hold list). Eventually I read it. This year, I've finished Lilith's Brood (trilogy) by Octavia Butler, The Inheritance (trilogy) by N. K. Jemisin, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and am currently working on Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. (I also reread the three main B5 trilogies, just because.) I thoroughly enjoyed all of the above. I have another dozen books in my queue, which should keep me busy for quite a while (since I sometimes go for weeks without picking up my book). I plan to get to several over the next few months of darkness.

My week of peace and quiet ended tonight when younger kid showed me an infected abscess on his leg, so I elected to have it seen at the just-opened, conveniently-located emergency clinic down the road. Sigh. Seems like it should be fine in a few days, at least. And the front counter staff person had a nice sense of humor and agreed that I could sell them my kid in lieu of payment for services.

Then for the next couple weeks I get to bear down and attempt to do some serious house cleaning and meal planning in preparation for at invasion of thanksgiving week turkeys, ah, I mean visitors, as well as replace our apparently missing car registration. But first, a bit more reading.
blk: (fall)

It's definitely fall. Leaves are turning, rain is more frequent, temperatures are dropping, days are dimming, college applications are starting to be due.

I'm extremely happy to be finished with the Sidewalk Project; I have plenty of other things to spend my time on.  I did the first apple sweep in a long time, after ignoring them for about a month, and got another 10 lbs to turn into sauce.  I'm pretty sure this is the latest in the season I've gottten good apples.  I'm starting to fill leaf bags in preparation for the almost useless single fall yard waste pickup. I may as well get what I can out there.   After the sun sets, I've been reading, prepping my halloween (and later, arisia) costume(s), helping out the kid with his first college application, and trying to use up my farm share.

My foot, which got irritated (probably re-fractured) by the Great Race, has been hurting minorly all month, despite me not doing any running at all.  I suspect that the work of digging and walking around uneven ground of the Sidewalk Project stressed it out and delayed healing, as since I've been done with that, it's been finally starting to feel better.  Which is good, because I really miss running.  I also miss not wanting to kill people.  I don't really have a good substitute for a long slow run.  Although I have been biking a little more, as my new peaceful route into work is a little longer and hillier.  So my legs are still getting some workout at least.

Unfortunately, my legs are also annoying me, mostly at night, with a frustrating indescribable soreness that makes me wiggle and need to stretch out.  I.e., Restless Leg Syndrome, I'm pretty sure.  I've had periods of it off and on all my life, but it hasn't been major enough to be  a problem, or interrupt my sleep, until recently.  I'm currently loosely experimenting with some variables, such as making sure I eat well, take a multivit, less alcohol, more hydration before bed, etc, but  not having much luck finding definitive correlations yet.  It doesn't seem to be genetic for me, and I haven't ruled out low iron, although I haven't had other symptoms of that in many years.  Normally I would go run more to wear myself (and my legs) out more, but, well, still waiting for the foot to finish healing.  I suppose a doctor visit will happen if this doesn't resolve soon. 

Starting real soon now I'll be working to prep the house for omg thanksgiving visitors.  Goal is to (finally) get my bedroom into something more liveable.  Wish me luck.

blk: (bike)
The closing of the Greenfield Bridge has pushed all the traffic that used to go that way onto the streets that I usually commute on, making my commute much more annoying. My route only has a few blocks of bike lane, and drivers have started using it like an extra car lane during rush hour. For the rest of it, since I'm not fond of filtering past moving cars or in situations where I have to annoy people when I merge back in, I have to sit in traffic.

A couple days ago I started thinking about how to use this to my advantage. Closing the bridge means that Greenfield Rd is now a dead end to cars, which means that road leading directly up to it (Serpentine to Bartlett) is also less trafficked, although it still connects to a short bike/ped stretch of road. In addition, the Westinghouse Memorial restoration currently has the end of Circuit Rd blocked off, making the rest of Circuit mostly useless (expect to people who park on it).

So yesterday and today I tried out a new route of Frew -> (L) Schenley -> Circuit -> Serpentine -> (R) Bartlett -> Greenfield -> Pocusset (and the reverse). It added a little less than a mile to my route home for approximately the same travel time. And most importantly, I only have to deal with cars for approximately 1/4 mile on either end. Even though I've been doing this commuting thing for almost 5 years and am mostly used to it, it's amazing how much of a difference that tiny lessening of stress makes. Safe spaces ARE important.

This route also adds another 100 ft of climbing, but I can do hills a lot better now, especially when I can do that at my own comfortable pace and not think about whether anybody is waiting for me. Plus I'm sure I can use the extra exercise given that I'm currently in a high anxiety / somewhat depressed / low motivation phase right now and don't want to do anything that isn't mentally easy.

Gotta go share this with some friends.
blk: (sandwich)
"It doesn't get any easier, you just get faster" (Greg LeMond)

So what happens when it doesn't get any easier AND I don't get faster? Massive frustration is one. Along with a long search for different answers.

I started my current job 5 years ago this month, and started bike commuting (and running more) regularly about 6 months after that. That year, I made painful but positive physical progress, growing my leg muscles so that I outgrew all my pants in the quad, and getting better at the things I wanted to do.

The next 3 years felt like one big plateau. My commute was doable, but every day was still a big effort. Every hills ride pushed me to my absolute limit, behind everybody else. All my friends outpaced me. When I griped about it, the things people said boiled down to "just keep working at it and you'll get better!" and I hated that because I WAS working and I was NOT getting better. It wasn't just cycling, either. I had days I could run and days that I just slogged. Sometimes I could do a couple pullups and sometimes none at all. I tried working harder, more often, less often, eating more, eating less, and nothing much changed.

About 6 months ago something poked my brain with the idea that "can't put on muscle" is often a symptom of "not enough protein." I've always thought I've had a reasonably good and varied diet, but I HATE counting numbers so I never have. I decided to try a change that I could continue, which basically consisted of giving in to my love for eggs, snacking on nuts, and eating as much meat as I wanted instead of feeling guilty and stopping after a "serving" (i.e., 3oz). Then, since I don't actually need additional calories, finding other high calorie areas to cut back a little, which usually ends up being carbs and high-fat processed foods. My fruit/veg intake stays the same, which is "I seek them out fairly regularly" and my dairy is erratic but not heavy (some cheese, not much milk).

(Wait - lots of meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and veggies? Minimal pasta, potatoes, sugary snacks, and dairy? Oh crap, I've accidentally gone paleo! Haha, not really. I still eat whatever I want, just in slightly different proportions.)

But back to the biking. Holy shit is there a difference. The changes weren't exactly like a light switch but it was really obvious within a month or two that I found the bugfix for this particular problem for me. 6 months later, my average commute speed is much faster. I started being able to do real hills without feeling like my legs would fall off, and faster than I ever could before. I hit more PRs in my running. I went from being able to do 3 pullups at a time (on a good day) to doing 8 at a time (and repeat it). But the biggest change is not even in what I can do but what it feels like to do it. It's the difference between "this thing is so hard; I cannot push harder yet I feel like I get very low output for high effort, and I can't sustain it beyond a few more seconds" and "this thing is hard; I'm pushing really hard but the output feels appropriate to effort, and I can sustain it and even have energy for a little more." It makes working out -fun- again.

Although I kinda hope I don't change shape too much again. I just finished stocking up my wardrobe with a nice selection of pants.
blk: (bike)
The other day I had a car dropoff in the morning and planned to go directly into work. When I've done this in the past, I often put my bike in the car, then ride it from where I drop the car off. This time, the dropoff was a little closer to work, and I didn't feel like dealing with the bike, so I decided to walk it.

Less than a mile of walking later, I decided I wanted to be on a bike instead. It was muggy and my walking muscles were all out of practice. Ugh! Then a bike share bike passed me, and I realized there was a way I could bike back in the afternoon, after all! And in addition, then I could compare my DC bikeshare experience to my Pgh bikeshare experience.

dc bikeshare )

pgh bikeshare )

Overall I liked it. I'm still pretty sure I'm not the target market for these, since I do have my own bike and would take that most places where I'm going to ride. But in the event that I find myself in a part of the city that has bikes, without my bike, and I want to get a few miles down the road, I'd take it again.


blk: (Default)

July 2017

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