Newly Bent is Moving

After more than a year of blogging on Newly Bent, I have decided that I picked the wrong name when I started this blog. I no longer feel “new.” In addition, I wanted to move to a self-hosted site so I thought this would be a good time to change the name as well.

My new blog is at BentForLife.com. Even though I am very busy, I plan on posting more consistently.  I also plan on doing more reviews and posting more photos and videos. My first post is up with a time-lapse video of my ride to work. I hope you will follow me on the new blog and I look forward to seeing you there.

My Fun Ride

I should have written this post last Friday but my free time has been very limited lately. One of the reasons for that is that I turned 50 on Tuesday, but I will talk about than soon.

I was lucky enough to not only get the Fourth of July off from work, but also the fifth. My wife had to work so I decided to take the bike out for a fun ride. I left pretty early, about 7:30 or so. My plan was to ride a little past Downtown Dunedin to Edgewater Park, which is a linear park along the intercostal Waterway. I often pass by in the car and I never think to bring my camera along, which is too bad, because on many mornings the water is like glass and there are some beautiful pictures to be had. This time I put my camera in my seat pack and headed down the Pinellas Trail. The weather was perfect and I was able to choose my destination for the first time in months.

Pinellas Trail, Dunedin Florida

Not far from home on the Pinellas Trail

Pinellas Trail, Dunedin Florida

A view from the Pinellas Trail

Pinellas Trail, Dunedin Florida

Another view from the Pinellas Trail

When we moved to Dunedin in June, it was the third time I moved back to the city after moving away for one reason or another. Something keeps pulling me back and riding down the trail on a lazy Friday morning it is easy to see what it is. It seems peaceful here with great views along the water and a town with a bit of “culture” that caters to cyclists, probably since the trail runs through the middle of downtown.

Dunedin Marina

Dunedin Marina

Edgewater Linier Park in Dunedin

Edgewater Linier Park in Dunedin

Edgewater Linier Park in Dunedin

View from Edgewater Park in Dunedin

Old pier pilings

Old pier pilings

20130705_Dunedin - Edgew_2737I rode through the downtown area, past the marina and to the point that I wanted to photograph. Unfortunately the water was not as smooth as I had hoped for but I was still able to take a few good pictures before my hunger pains intervened. I had not eaten anything that morning so I thought I would stop at The Boxcar before heading home.

The Boxcar Cafe – photo from yelp.com

The Boxcar is a little café and store inside an actual boxcar on the trail in Downtown Dunedin. The Pinellas Trail was created from abandoned railroad tracks so it seems fitting that it is located where it is. I thought I could stop for a while and get a bagel and a cup of coffee. It has been a while since I have been there but I was not expecting to see it closed. There was a sign on the window about some type of organic business coming soon but I don’t remember exactly what it said. I just remember being hungry and having no good option. I didn’t want to go to a restaurant so I just headed home.

View of Downtown Dunedin from the Pinellas Trail

View of Downtown Dunedin from the Pinellas Trail. The Boxcar is just past the stop sign.

I rode about eight miles that morning, less than one way to work, but I loved the fact that I had nowhere that I had to be and I could just ride for the fun of riding. Next time I will eat first so I won’t feel the need to go home as quickly.

Dodging Downpours

Wednesday morning I put the bike in the truck and Rose and I drove to her work where I took the bike out and continued on my way to my job. There was a high probability of thunderstorms that afternoon so we planned for me to ride back if I could or wait for her to pick me up if the weather was very bad.

The weather tends to be unpredictable in the summer because the rain comes in small patches that seem to come out of nowhere. The weather forecasters here even call them “pop-up” showers. It rained for quite a while that afternoon and I was hoping it would be over by quitting time because I get off work an hour before Rose does and since she is the boss, she is rarely able to leave on time. I did not want to be stuck there for almost two hours.

My boss decided to get an early start on the holiday and we closed at 4:15. It was still raining at that time and the skies were very dark so I decided to stay and wait for a break in the weather. I waited about 25 minutes before I noticed the rain slow down, so I checked the radar on the internet. There is a nice feature that lets you zoom in on any area and then click the future button to see where the rain will be during the next four hours.

The radar showed my entire trip home free from rain for the full four hours except for a small amount of rain at the end of my route. Even that was not supposed to happen for ninety minutes.

I decided to leave while I had the chance. There was still a very light drizzle that actually felt good. When I got to the trail a mile away, I took my phone out of my pocket and dialed Rose to let her know I was riding home. As soon as I finished dialing the rain started coming down harder so I hung up, put my phone back in my pocket, and got my rain jacket out. By the time I put it on it was a torrential downpour.

I got on the bike and quickly peddled down the trail, hoping I could catch the end of the rain cloud. I know that sounds silly but here in Florida it could be raining on your front yard but not on your back yard.

While I was riding it occurred to me that my phone was in my pocket and my pants were soaked. I have a zippered pouch for my phone but I did not know if it was water-resistant. I didn’t want to stop because I was still hoping to find the edge soon so I pushed my jacket over my front pocket to protect it somewhat.

When I reached the next street, I was about to continue across, which is what I usually do, but I noticed the covered walkways crossing a small bridge to my left. I headed for the bridge and as soon as I was out of the rain I took out my phone to see if it had survived: It did.

Shelter from rainAs I got to the bridge the downpour had suddenly slowed to a light shower but I stayed there for a few minutes so I could call Rose and let her know what I was doing. I then continued on in a rain that never stopped. I am just glad I learned my lesson the last time this happened and started washing my helmet on a regular basis.

Another lesson I learned a long time ago but had forgotten was never trust a meteorologist.

 

One Year Later

It has been just over a year ago that I bought my recumbent bicycle and started this blog to record my progress. Yesterday marked one year since my first trip to work. I recorded my weight as 227 pounds that day and, while I was hoping to be under 200 pounds by now, I can report that I have lost fourteen pounds and am now at 213.

It is somewhat disappointing, considering how many more calories I am burning now compared to what I was burning before cycling to work, but I am healthy and my weight has gone in the right direction so I have nothing to complain about.

One of the reasons for starting this blog was to help keep me motivated to continue riding. Since I am still at it I would say it worked but it also may not have been necessary since I enjoy my trips on the bike when I can ride. I would not change anything though because I am very glad I was able to get to know so many other great people out there with interesting stories to tell. I hope I will still be doing this for many years to come.

Longest Commute Yet

Yesterday morning I put my bike in the truck and rode with Rose to her work and then continued on my bike the rest of the way to work. As I mentioned in a earlier post, my commute went from ten miles to over seventeen and I normally don’t have enough hours in the day to make the commute. Yesterday was an exception because Rose wanted to go to her aerobics class after work so I was on my own to get home. I talked to my boss and arranged to come in early and take a short lunch so I could leave a little earlier.

When I was leaving that morning I talked to my neighbor and mentioned what I was doing and he thought I was crazy. “It’s supposed to be 95 degrees today.” he said. He even offered to give me his number if I got into trouble but I really didn’t think my bike was going to fit in his Corvette.

I was out of work and on the road just after 4:15. The weather was hot but after being cooped up inside all day I was happy to be out. I rode the familiar route home and stopped at Rose’s office for a few minutes to stretch my legs and then I headed home. This time I was riding a new route and didn’t know what to expect.

From Rose’s office I had a few routes to choose from and I chose the most direct. It is seven miles west on a very busy road. The first few miles have no bike lane so, for safety, I chose to ride on the sidewalk. At least I thought it was safe but not long after getting on the sidewalk I was again struck by the curse of the clipless pedals. My front tire went off the edge of the sidewalk and the lip was to big to steer it back on so I tipped to the left. It was no big deal and putting my left foot out would have prevented a fall but I couldn’t unclip fast enough and down I went.

My bike after fall.

My bike after fall.

The rest of the ride was uneventful except for a hill that seemed to never end. I kept thinking, “This is Florida, it’s supposed to be flat.” It really showed how spoiled I have been and how I really needed this challenge. Of course, the greatest part about a hill is that there is always a downside, and by that I mean an upside.

I made it home just after 6:30. As I was turning into my driveway I waved to my neighbor who was pulling out in his Corvette. What a great ride. I want to do it again but I don’t want to push my luck and try to leave early too often.

A Great Counterpart to Cycling

Long before I started cycling regularly I walked during my lunch break. I enjoyed getting out but it was not the ideal way for me to get exercise. It was only 30 minutes a day and I had to stop for a while during the hottest days of summer. In addition, I was not able to relax during my lunch break.

Cycling solved those problems. I quadrupled my exercise time and I was able to do it without sacrificing my lunch break. I was also able to ride during the hot summer months because instead of being out at mid-day, I was riding in the morning and late afternoon. I also get more breeze while riding than I did while walking.

It is not perfect, however, because I am not getting an upper body workout. My wife goes to an aerobics class a few times a week where they get a more complete workout. That is not for me but I do need to supplement my bike riding with something different from time to time. This weekend I found a great counterpart to my cycling routine: kayaking.

Since we live on the water again we thought kayaks would be fun to have, so Saturday morning we bought a couple of kayaks and as soon as we got them home we put our swimsuits on and put the kayaks in the water.

20130615_kayaking to Cal_2700

Me stuck on a sand bar.

Sitting in the kayak was somewhat like riding my recumbent bike but instead of using my legs I was using my arms to propel myself forward. I am embarrassed to say this but Rose blew me away on paddling. My arms were tired after five minutes but I pushed on. Fortunately we hit a sandbar halfway to Caladesi Island and I was able to get out and walk for a while while my arms rested.

The best part about kayaking is, besides the exercise, it is fun, so I believe I will stick with it like I have with my bicycle. Hopefully, at least once a week, we will actually put them in the water. I know that once a week is not consistent enough to develop a strong upper body but it is one more time a week than I was doing it.

My only other problem is replacing my alternative exercise with another alternative when winter arrives, but I am not going to concern myself with that now.

Our Big Move

It has been an entire month since my last post. Where does the time go? Rose and I have been busy with a move. First it was searching for a new place, then , since what we found is smaller, we had to spend time weeding out stuff to be donated. After that it was two weeks of packing and another week of unpacking and we still aren’t done.

We moved back to Dunedin. For me, it is the fourth time I have moved to this small city. Every time I leave, something keeps pulling me back. It is a great place to live, especially where we are, just a half mile from the Pinellas Trail, which is a 47 mile linear park built on an abandoned railroad corridor. It runs mostly north and south throughout the entire county. My path to work is east to west so I will use it for weekend rides with my wife if we can ever find her a bike that she is happy with.

Map to Pinellas County Trail

Another benefit of the new place is that I can keep my bike on the screened patio. Our last place had a screened patio that was too small and had no extra room for a bicycle. Consequently, I had to maneuver it through the front door to the right and then immediately to the left and into a long, narrow closet. It was difficult to do without scratching the door frame. I also got a lot of static from Rose about getting the carpet dirty. Now I just need to find a cover for it.

My bike on our patio

The problem I face now is that we moved seven miles in the opposite direction from my work, which takes my ride from 10 miles to 17 miles. I am up to the challenge and would welcome a longer ride but the problem is time. My wife, as a manager, works many hours more than I do so I have many responsibilities at home that include taking care of the cats, making coffee, breakfast, etc. An extra 14 miles a day would take away another 90 minutes from an already cramped schedule.

Fortunately, we traded our car in for a truck the same day that we moved (It was a busy day). For now, I plan on putting the bike in the truck and driving to Rose’s work and then I will ride to my job from there. I will reverse the process on the way home. This leaves me dependent on Rose being ready for work early enough. Not an ideal situation but it is the best I can do for now. I welcome any other ideas.