Monthly Archives: October 2012

Maintenance Day

I finally stopped procrastinating and worked on my bike Saturday. My wife and I drove to the beach in the morning and had several things we needed to do before going home. We decided to go to the bike shop first. Normally I like to go to a place in Dunedin called Over The Edge. The guys that run it are friendly, helpful and honest. Best of all, their prices are very reasonable. The drawback is their shop is very small and thus has limited supplies on-hand.

On the way we passed Dunedin Cyclery. This is a place I remember being somewhere else. It is now in a very large building right on the Pinellas Trail. I found out later it had been there for about a year. Anyway, I decided to risk higher prices for convenience. The shop was huge inside with walls full of stuff and many bicycles, including a couple of recumbents, one of which was a newer Sun, similar to my EZ-1. Best of all, the prices were very reasonable.

I told one of the guys that I needed tires and tubes. He offered me two options, a standard tire and a 100 p.s.i. version for the rear tire. I chose the better tire but that same one was not in stock for the front so I settled for the standard front tire. Since more weight is on the rear tire it did not matter too much to me.

While I was there I picked up a bag for the front and I wanted to get some tools also, especially a good tire tool, but I got into a conversation about clip-less pedals and shoes and forgot about the rest of the things I needed.

Old and new tire levers

Old and new tire levers. Not what I wanted but better.

I was already home when I realized I didn’t get everything I needed. What I most wanted was something like a Quik Stik. I had one a few years ago and really liked it but I somehow lost it and never got a replacement. I went to the nearby Wal-Mart and was able to get better tire levers but not what I really wanted. I also got a spare tube for the front and rear tires which I also forgot to do while I was at the bike shop.

I worked on my bike on the patio, which is not the best place, but since I have no garage it is the best place available. My cat Chris (badcatchris.com) was out there helping me which was not a help. My recumbent bike is not as stable as a regular bike when turned upside down and ended up knocking it over a couple of times before I learned to be careful.

My Recumbent Bike

Old rear tire

Old rear tire. Pretty worn.

New rear tire

New rear tire

The tires went on pretty easy but I was not able to pump the rear tire anywhere near 100 p.s.i. The best I could do was around 60 with my little Bell Airstrike Frame Pump, even though it says it will do up to 100 p.s.i. Even at 60, it feels pretty solid and I am looking forward to getting on it this morning and riding to work.

Just to be clear, I am looking forward to the ride, not going to work.

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The Road to a Flat Tire is Paved With Good Intentions

When I bought my bike I wanted to be ready for possible problems on the road. I already had a patch kit so I put that in my bag and I planned on buying a bicycle tool kit and spare tubes to take with me but then reality set in. I had very limited space and my recumbent bike has two different size tires so I would have to carry two tubes with me and just couldn’t justify the room (I’ll bet NASA has the same problem). I did have room for a small tool kit but procrastination got the better part of me.

I noticed a few weeks ago that my tires were looking a bit worn so I planned on buying new tires and tubes and replacing them. This would not only cut the risk of a flat, it would also give me valuable experience if I needed to fix a flat on the road. It has been years since I fixed a flat and never on this particular bike.

I am very busy during the week so I decided to do this on the weekend. The weekend before last, my wife and I were away for our anniversary, and last weekend other circumstances prevented me from replacing my tires. I decided this coming weekend I would do it for sure.

When I got to work Wednesday I noticed my rear tire looked worse than ever. I thought to myself, “Just last one more day. I’ll drive to work on Friday and everything will be right with the world.”

It was not to be. I was two miles from work yesterday when the rear tire went flat. I put air in it but it would not hold it. I thought about patching it on the road but since I am somewhat of a novice on bike repair, I decided to walk the bike to work and fix it on my lunch break. I must say I felt a little silly walking with my bike but I made it to work only ten minutes late.

During lunch I pulled the tire off and put air in the tube. I am glad I did not stop to fix it on the road because I could not find the leak without putting it under water. I got out my patch kit and discovered the tube of rubber cement was empty. Can you tell yet that I was never a Boy Scout?

Fortunately there is an auto parts store near my work so I bought a patch kit there that had enough for about 50 patches. A bit overkill but beggars can’t be choosers.

I patched the tube and made it home with no problem, although I did have to carefully dodge a lot of road debris and I ran over a lug nut as I was racing to get through a green light. That made me nervous but caused no leak.

As we all know, the best way to learn is by making mistakes. If failure is a great teacher, than I am a great student. Tomorrow I am buying new tires, tubes, tools and whatever else I need and I will be better prepared the next time this happens.

My Health Conscious Roots

Today I consider my lifestyle to be in the top 20 percent of Americans when it comes to healthy living. When you consider the way Americans live, that is not a difficult accomplishment and I am working on improving. For now, I would like to reflect on how I got here.

Way back in the mid to late eighties, I took a class in college called Personal Wellness. In that class, the teacher casually mentioned the downside of sugar and instead, focused on the evils of fat. She made it seem like as long as our calories were from less than 30% fat, we were eating a healthy diet. Coke has no fat so it must be healthy. That was message I got, although I never thought Coke was healthy, I just thought it was better than a bacon cheeseburger.

I moved to Florida in 1988 and my son was born in 1989. By the time he was around four years old I noticed he was becoming overweight and I wanted to try to buy healthier food. At the time, my ex did the shopping and was buying tons of crap food like soda and honey buns so I decided to do the shopping myself and I bought what I thought was healthy food. I know now it was really just less unhealthy. It didn’t matter though because my ex put up a big stink about it and the crap food came back into the house.

In 1999 I married Rose, my current wife. She was a bit more health conscious and would usually make nice home cooked meals rather that eat something out of a package. The problem was, about eight years after I met her I had gained over 35 pounds.

One day in 2007, I was listening to a radio show in Tampa Bay where the host was skewing a guy named Kevin Trudeau who wrote a book called Natural Cures They Don’t Want You to Know About. He made it sound like the author was crazy nutcase that just escaped from the asylum. The fact that the host had no medical expertise made me think he was just a close-minded jerk. A few weeks later I saw the book and decided that I could read it with an open-mind, so I bought it.

I must say that it was an interesting and informative book that made a lot of sense but it was written in a somewhat arrogant style that put everything in black and white. This side is good, that side is bad and there is no in between. I decided to do research and found many natural health experts that agreed with much of what was in the book.

My research led me to another book by Raymond Frances called Never Be Sick Again. This was the best book on health I have ever read. The basic premise of the book is that all illnesses are caused by malfunctioning cells and cells malfunction for two reasons: lack of proper nutrition and toxins. So the book is about caring for your cells which in turn will lead to better health.

This made perfect because I had already concluded that a lifestyle similar to our early ancestors is how we were meant to live and everything in this book pointed in that direction. It also talked about all the toxins in our environment and how to avoid as many as possible.

From that point time on I was hooked on healthy living. My wife was interested too but not to the extent I was. This made it more of a challenge, and still does, but I still managed to drop from 222 pounds to 189 pounds in about a year or so. I stayed there until we moved to Myrtle Beach in 2009 when everything changed.

After the move I tried to continue my healthy eating habits but the weight started coming back. Even after moving back to Florida, I continued to gain weight. It didn’t come back as fast as I lost it, but after three years I was five pounds heavier than when I started my healthy eating habits. I should note that even though I gained the weight back, I was still much healthier than I was five years before. I had more energy and never got sick, except for what I would consider the beginning of a cold. My immune system always fought it off before it got bad.

The only thing that was different about my life these last three years was that the amount of exercise I was getting dropped to almost nothing. Before moving, I was walking everyday during my lunch time, but I did not take a lunch break at work in Myrtle Beach. I bought a bicycle to compensate but it is not a bike friendly area. As a matter of fact, there was absolutely no safe way to ride to work without adding too many miles to the trip.

Before I bore you with a long story, I just want to say that since buying my recumbent bike and riding the ten miles to work about three times a week, I have even more energy and the weight is slowly starting to come off again. I feel really good about my future and I plan to improve my eating habits even more.

My motivation to write this was because my weight this morning was 221, under the 222 that I was at before starting my new health habits in 2007 and six pounds less than when I bought my bicycle. I know six pound is not much but I also know the cooler, drier weather is coming so I will be riding almost every day. I will keep you posted on my progress.

Bike Wrappers

About six weeks ago I read a a review by David Padfield from All Seasons Cyclist. His is one of two blogs that I read that I find very informative (the other being David Clancy blog College Tri). He posted a review of a safety product for your bicycle called Bike Wrappers. I encourage you to read his article.

When I read it I initially thought that was exactly what I needed because the days were getting shorter and I would soon be riding in the dark. I then realized that they were made for conventional bikes and not my Sun EZ-1 Recumbent. I ended up putting them out of my mind for a few weeks but when I found myself leaving for work before sunrise, I reconsidered.

I asked David if they could be cut and he said they could but they would have to be sewn. I was hoping to avoid doing that so I contacted Brent Thomas from Bike Wrappers who pointed out that the one designed for the down tube was cut out for the water bottle and It might fit my bike. I decided to give it a shot. I knew I would figure something out.

The bike wrappers are reversible. One side is a highly reflective silver for night riding and the other side comes in various colors and designs for daytime. I bought the blue one because my bike is blue but I really don’t anticipate using the blue side.

First, I am not concerned about how pretty my bike is and second, I don’t think they will make me any safer during the day. Sure, I could get the neon orange, but I truly believe if I get hit during the day it is because someone (and I don’t exclude myself) is not paying attention to their driving and I could be riding down the road naked, wearing only a neon orange sombrero, and it wouldn’t make a difference.

When they arrived I was able to put the down tube wrapper on the cross bar (they stick together easily with Velcro). The cross bar wrapper, I wrapped around the brake and gear cables in the front which allowed them to be seen from both the side and front. I then put the smaller seat post wrapper around the crossbar on the handle bars. Later I realized it actually fit under the seat where it belongs so I moved it there.  Since I have a headlight and taillight, it’s main purpose is to prevent side impacts, so I wanted all three to be visible from the side.

As far as night riding goes, these Bike Wrappers seem like they will be very noticeable when hit with a cars headlights. I photographed them early Monday morning and used the flash to simulate a car’s headlight. I was actually surprised by how well they lit up compared to the rest of the bike.

Bike Wrappers at night

Bike Wrappers at  night

I would recommend this product to anyone who rides their bike at night, even recumbent bike owners. I would also like to suggest to the folks at Bike Wrappers to make a couple of smaller, standard size wrappers that could be sold separately. These could be only one sided to cut production costs. I could be wrong but it might be worth testing.

Bike Wrappers

Bike Wrappers around cables and handle bar.

After I changed position and put the small one under the seat.