How Much Water Do We Really Need To Drink?

water-drop-with-ripple-in-public-domainSince I live in the land of the free and the home of the lawyers, I want to start out by saying that I am not a health expert and I am just writing down my thoughts, so please don’t take anything I write as fact because suing me won’t get you much.

I have learned much lately about natural health and I have found as many different opinions on the subject as there are people giving opinions. To filter through all these opinions I try to imagine what our prehistoric ancestors would do, and any advice I see that is different than what those ancestors would have done is probably flawed, in my opinion. Of course, since our world is so different, there are some things that we must also do different to stay healthy. It is a very complicated subject.

For years I have been hearing that we should all have at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. I then heard that we should have half of our body weight in ounces. This made a lot more sense to me and for the past five years or so I have been trying to drink six bottles of water every day.

That much water requires some effort and lately I have been trying to imagine our early ancestors drinking that much water and I don’t think it is possible. After all, they didn’t  carry water bottles around with them and I suspect they were too busy foraging or hunting to spend too much time at the local stream or river. So how did they get enough water?

Many shows about early humans that I have seen depict them as hunters. They will show a group of men with spears going after a Wooly Mammoth and then they will show them bringing back the feast to the rest of the tribe. What they don’t show is when they all stop to get a big drink of water. If an anthropologist is reading this perhaps they could shed some light on the subject but I think that  things were a bit different.

I believe we were not hunter-gatherers but rather gatherer-hunters. I believe we primarily forged for food eating whatever was easy, such as fruits, vegetables, berries, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, etc. When those things were scarce, then we turned to hunting to prevent starvation.

It is in these plant based foods that early humans got their water. The amount varies among individuals but in general, adult humans are close to 60% water. Many, if not most, fruits and vegetables contain an even higher percentage of water resulting in a net gain for anyone who eats them.

I am not suggesting that everyone should switch to a 100 percent raw, vegan diet, I certainly haven’t, but including a high percentage of these foods in your diet is, in my opinion, a great way to not only improve your health but also get more fluids in you without having to worry as much about how much water you are drinking.

I typically bring to work a large salad and between four and six fruits. I eat the fruit throughout the morning, have the salad for lunch, and then, if I am hungry later, I will snack on some nuts or trail mix. Later, when I get home, I will have a normal meal with my wife. It is not perfect, but my health has improved quite a bit these last few years. I still try to drink a lot of water but I try not to stress as much about counting the ounces as I did in the past.

As I said, I am not an expert and I welcome any other opinions on the matter.


Injured Reserve

My ankle is still a bit swollen after almost 2 weeks

My ankle is still a bit swollen after almost 2 weeks

I have not been on my bike since my accident the Monday before last. It happened just before I got to work and I was able to ride home with some discomfort but I felt worse the next day and even now, my ankle is still swollen and tender and it hurts to sit. As I mentioned in my last post, I can sit leaning forward but I can’t lean back, which is what I have to do on a recumbent bicycle.

I seriously thought of buying a cheap conventional bike that I could ride until I healed but my wife frowned on that idea. I also thought I would be better by now. Unfortunately it looks like I really did “bust my ass.”

I have a doctor’s appointment on Monday. It was supposed to be just an eleven year check-up (yes, it has been that long since I have been to the doctor) but now I think I will have something else the doctor can do that does not involve rubber gloves and Vasoline. Although, since I am turning 50 this year, I don’t think I can avoid the unpleasentries. Makes me wish I had picked a female doctor.

I guess I will need to find something to do while I am recovering. Perhaps I can do maintenance. Can’t wait.

The Curse of the Clipless Pedals

In spite of the title, I really do like my new clipless pedals but I have come to realize there is an added risk of injury while using them. From the time I bought my recumbent bike until I bought the clipless pedels eight months later, I fell off my bike a total of zero times, although I did have one or two close calls. In the 30 days since putting on the clipless pedals I hit the ground four times, and this was during a month were I had many problems getting out on the bike and only logged about a hundred miles.

To be fair, the first fall was not unexpected as I was trying to get used to unclipping. The second one was when my chain fell off and I lost my balance. The last two happened Monday morning within a block from my work.

I mentioned before that there is a small percentage of my ride where I use the sidewalk instead of the street because, until yesterday, I thought it was safer. I was on the sidewalk, not far from my work when I spotted a kid (I want to say “little bastard” but this is a family blog) coming toward me on his bmx bike like a bat out of hell. He was peddling as fast as he could and he was traveling in anything but a straight line. I slowed way down, expecting him to do the same, but he just kept coming as fast as he could. It was like a game of chicken and I lost.

I steered off the sidewalk to avoid a collision. I probably should have yelled. “Slow down you young wipper snapper,” but I guess I am not ready for that yet. Since I had already slowed down too much, when I hit the grass I was going too slow to keep my balance and I tried to unclip fast enough to catch myself, but the half second delay was too long.

I wasn’t hurt, just a little pissed at the…kid. I got back on the bike and traveled another two or three hundred feet until I was just across the street from my work. I looked behind me and saw there were cars coming but I had plenty of time to cross so I turned to the left and my rear wheel came out from under me and I hit the ground hard.

I was in the middle of the road with cars coming so I quickly got up, even though I was in pain, and limped to the center of the street. By then one car had already stopped and the others were slowing down. I was in too much pain to be embarrassed. I limped across the street, unlocked the door and brought my bike inside. I then had to sit down because the adrenalin had made me nauseous.

At first I attributed the accident to being distracted by what happened three minutes earlier but my co-worker pointed out something that made much more sense. He said the grass I rode onto was probably wet. That would explain everything. The bottom of the wheels had dried from the short ride but the sides were still wet, so when I leaned into the turn, the wet part of the wheels contacted the road and down I went.

It is just another example of how one bad thing can lead to another. I think the next time something happens that is bad enough to speed up my heart rate, I might just stop for a few minutes before resuming.

The ride home was difficult because, besides my leg being cut up, my butt hurt like hell. I pushed my seat forward a little because sitting forward was fine but leaning back was painful and this allowed me to push back farther in the seat so I was less reclined. Unfortunately, as a recumbent rider, less reclined in still reclined. It was the first time since I owned the bike that I would have traded it for a conventional bicycle.

I am still relatively new to the clipless pedals so I am sure I will get better at unclipping but I believe there will always be a slight delay and I will have to accept that risk. I also think it is possible that sitting upright on a conventional bike might be less risky. I don’t know. Perhaps someone with more experience could leave a comment on the subject. For now, I think once my butt heals, I will continue what I was doing but perhaps I will try to anticipate problems a unclip a bit sooner.


Is it Bad to Ride While Sick?

In my last post, I was disappointed that I was unable to ride my bike for a full week. I finally got the parts I needed and repaired the problems and was ready to ride to work on Tuesday, almost two weeks ago. I woke up that morning with a bit of a sore throat and thought, “Great, any heavy breathing I do will make this worse.”

I got up, made coffee, took care of the cats and did my other morning chores and by the time I needed to leave, I felt ninety percent better. That is usually what happens when I start to get sick, it goes away before it gets bad. As a matter of fact, I can’t remember being sick in well over ten years.

It was a chilly morning so I dressed as warm as I could and headed to work. When I got there, I didn’t feel bad but I could tell I was not quite well either. The next morning the sore throat was back and I had developed a cough, congestion and sneezing to go with it. I was finally sick after all these years.  I don’t know if the bike ride helped push me over the edge but I think it is likely to be the case.

I drove the next day and seemed better as the day went on but the next morning I was worse again. I think lying down was bad for me but it just happens to be how I sleep.

That Thursday Rose and I took a two-day trip to the east coast of Florida, New Smyrna Beach, to celebrate her dad’s 80th birthday. I saw the pattern develop that I was sick in the morning and mostly better in the afternoon. That pattern continued all last week, with the worst day being Monday.

By Wednesday I was sick of driving and thought about getting back on the bike. My only fear was that doing so could cause this cold to last even longer. I don’t know it that would have happened. For all I know, the exercise might have done me some good. In the end I chose not to chance it and drove to work the rest of the week.

I now feel the cold breaking up and I am getting better. I am still coughing but if it continues to get better, or at least gets no worse, I should finally get back on two wheels tomorrow. Good thing too because I am one of the few people who puts on weight while sick.


Seven Days, No Bike

Lately I’ve been too busy to write but now I’m bored so I thought I would bore you with my problems. Just kidding, they are not problems, but rather, opportunities for improvement. Believe it or not, I actually welcome a minor issue with my bike every now and then, as long as it does not leave me hurt or stuck somewhere. This is because I need to learn how to repair and maintain my bicycle and if it is not broken, I will not be motivated to work on it.

Last Monday, the shifter knob for the rear gears broke and left me stuck in high gear. This was not a major issue, because Florida is pretty flat and most of my ride is in that gear anyway. One notable exception is a bridge I go over on the Upper Tampa Bay Trail.

Upper Tampa Bay Trail

Upper Tampa Bay Trail

It’s hard to tell from the angle of the above picture but the bridge gets somewhat steep and I usually shift to an easy gear while I go over the bridge. This time, I changed the front gear, which I usually leave on the center sprocket, and the chain fell off. This caused me to lose my balance and, since I have not fully adjusted to the clipless peddles, could not unclip my right foot in time and fell over. Another cyclist saw this happen and asked if I was okay. I told him I was more embarrassed than hurt. Fortunately the rest of the ride home went fine.

When I got home I was tired and did not feel like working on the bike so I decided to drive to work on Tuesday and fix it that evening. I picked a good day to drive because it was a rainy day.

I had a new shifter knob that I bought months ago as a set when the other one broke. I thought about changing them both at once but then got lazy. So after work on Tuesday I took the broken knob off and put the new one on. It came with a cable so I threw the old cable away and snaked the new cable through the old sheaths, or whatever the official name is for the cable covers.

When I got them all the way through I discovered the cable was too short. I suppose it was designed for a standard bicycle, which my recumbent bike is not. I ended up pulling the short wire out of the shifter knob and fished the old wire out of the trash. I thought I could just thread it back through the knob but I needed to take it apart. When I did a small plastic piece popped out. I wasn’t expecting that and had no Idea where it went back in.

It took awhile but I finally figured out how to get the wire in and put the two pieces back together, minus the little plastic piece. Leftover parts are common, right? I then had to thread the old wire back through the covers but the end was frayed so I had to cut the last inch off. This worked almost good enough except there was always one strand that stayed out while the others went in. I kept cutting the wire shorter and the same thing kept happening until finally I got it to work, except now it was also too short.

I was determined to ride my bike on Wednesday so I decided to make sure my front shifter was properly adjusted, which I did, but noticed another problem while I was doing that. The adjustment on my rear brake was broken and one pad was rubbing against the tire. It must have happened when I fell over. I thought it seemed a bit harder to pedal but I did not consider that I had another problem. I guess I wasn’t going to ride to work Wednesday after all.

I ordered the parts I needed from Amazon on Wednesday and since I have the Amazon Prime, I got free two-day shipping, so they arrived on Friday. I put them on Saturday with few problems and I am ready to ride to work on Monday. The only problem is that Monday morning is going to be around 40 degrees and since I am a cold wimp and since I have not yet bought good cold weather cycling clothes, I think I will wait until Tuesday.

Five Things Drivers Should Know About Cyclists

The other day I had to cross a busy road at a point where there was no light. I needed to turn left but there was a median so I could only go right. I crossed into the left turn lane and stopped to wait for oncoming traffic. Meanwhile, a van pulled up behind me and yelled that I should be using the sidewalk. Sidewalk? I wanted to ask him where this magical sidewalk was that crossed over all this traffic so cars wouldn’t be inconvenienced. I also wanted to ask why he was upset with me when it was oncoming traffic that was stopping both of us. I wrote of a similar incidence in my post, The Ignorant motorist. In that post, a women went out of her way to tell me I should be riding on the sidewalk.

I thought I would come up with a list of five things drivers should know about cyclists. So here it is:

  1. Bike Allowed Use of Full Lane CVC 21202, San F...We own the road – You own the road too. With a few exceptions, we all pay taxes that build and maintain our roads and nobody has an exclusive right to use them based on what type of vehicle they drive.
  2. We help improve your life – For every cyclist on the road, there is one less person that is contributing to environmental pollution. We also help keep gas prices lower by reducing demand. In addition, we are reducing the number of cars on the road, which reduces gridlock. If enough people were encouraged to cycle rather than drive, these benefits would be increased. You would also see the cost of maintaining and building roads come down.
  3. Honking your horn at us does nothing useful – Some people have noble intentions and will honk to let a cyclist know that they are behind them. This won’t change the cyclist behavior except to possibly startle them and cause an accident. Others honk because they are mad about being delayed ten seconds. This just makes the driver look like a jerk.
  4. We don’t want to delay you – Yes, riding a bike is slower than driving. We all know that some drivers are being slightly inconvenienced. Unfortunately, until more cities start putting bike lanes on their streets, that is always going to be a problem.
  5. We are just regular people – Sure, some cyclists are super athletes, but I think most just want to get in shape and enjoy the great outdoors.

I actually don’t expect any non-cyclists to read this but you never know.

My First Cycling Shoes and Clipless Pedals

Back in october I was at Dunedin Cyclery buying tires and I talked to one of the guys about clipless pedals. I had never used them before so I wanted to learn more. I spoke with Dave, who told me that once I tried them I would never go back. That intrigued me and I wanted to order them right away but Christmas was coming up and I couldn’t be thinking of myself.

The next time we were there my wife bought me a $50 gift card that she gave me for Christmas. Of course, I wanted to apply that toward the shoes and pedals so shortly after Christmas we went back and I tried shoes on but, as usual, it is very difficult to find shoes in my size. I usually wear a size 14 but sometimes I can fit into a 13 if it is very wide, which they never are. This time the largest they had was a size 47, which equals “a little small” in American size. This time I worked with Jim and he told me that a 48 was as big as he could get without having them custom-made, so we ordered that and I hoped they would fit.

I waited weeks for them to arrive and I was starting to think they forgot about me but they finally came in after more than three weeks, perhaps four. To be fair, I was told that they needed to wait for a bigger order to get a better price. I understood and was in no hurry, but I was hoping it was sooner rather than later. I got a call the Monday before last that they were in and I had to wait until that Saturday to pick them up.

This time I saw Dave again and he found the size 48 among all the shoes and to my surprise, they fit. Also to my surprise, they were not the shoes I ordered. I wanted the Diadora Escape 2 because I needed a shoe I could walk in and they seemed like the best choice. I don’t need to walk far but I typically stop at the supermarket on the way to work to get something for lunch and again on the way back to use the washroom (I drink a lot of water at work) and to pick up anything we need at home that will fit in my bag. The shoes I just tried on were definitely not good for walking.

Cycling Shoes

I was starting to worry that I would have to wait another three or four weeks but it turned out there was another pair of size 48 shoes that were overlooked. Fortunately they were mine. Those fit too, which I was very happy about. I then needed to get pedals.

I decided to pay the extra $25 for the Shimano PD-M324  pedals. They are two-way pedals that allow me to ride with my regular shoes if I need to. I paid $85 for the set and just noticed they are $49 at Amazon. Damn. Oh well, that’s what happens when you are learning. I don’t feel too bad though because good customer service has a value of its own. I also got a good deal on the shoes.

Shimano PD-M324

I went for a short ride that Sunday and was amazed at how much easier it was to pedal. I felt like I had been riding with one muscle group tied behind my back all this time. The next day was the real test when I rode to work.  I noticed my cadence was faster than usual with little or no more effort. Everything went very well with a few minor exceptions.

There is a stoplight that I go through that is sensitive to the weight of a car, so naturally when I get to it, my bike does not trip the sensor and I am stuck waiting for a car to come by and turn the light green. Sometimes it is a long wait, so when I turned the corner and saw it was green, I peddled as fast as I could to get through the light but it turned yellow and I had to break quickly. When I did that I nearly fell over because I couldn’t disengage my left foot fast enough. The bike fell over but I was able to get my foot out just in time to save myself. That happened, to a lesser degree, a couple more times before I got used to it.

All in all, I am very happy with my purchase. Now I need to get some cold weather clothing before winter is over.

Bad Tire Plus No Time Equalls No Bike

During my ride home on Monday I noticed a very slight “thumping” coming from my back tire. I stopped and looked at it but it seemed fine except that about an inch of the outer layer was peeling away from the point of contact with the rim. I felt around the entire tire trying to find the bulge but it seemed fine so I just continued my ride home.

Once home I deflated the tire and took it partially off the rim and felt around to make sure the tube didn’t have a kink in it. I then re-inflated it and checked it very close for anything unusual. Again, it seemed fine until I put my weight on it, then it seemed to bump slightly at the same spot where the outer layer was peeling.

Bad Tire

This tear is worse than when I first noticed it.

I replaced that tire three months ago (read here) with a good quality tire that I thought would last longer. I did get about 600 miles out of it or more so I can’t complain too much but it does not seem very worn. It is especially nowhere near as bad as the last tire I had on there.

The real problem is not the tire at all. It is the weather. It is absolutely perfect right now. It is slightly cool on the way to work and just perfect on the way home. I need to be riding while it lasts but I can’t get the tire until this weekend. There is only one bike shop that is close enough to go to during my lunch break and they don’t sell 20 inch tires.

I thought about risking it and riding with the bump but ten miles is too far to push my bike home. I guess I will just have to wait until next week. Hopefully the weather holds out.

It it Really Safer to Wear a Bike Helmet?

I read an article recently that said one of the arguments against wearing a helmet was that drivers are less cautious around cyclists who wear them. This reminded me of a Freakanomics podcast I once listened to where Steven D. Levit and Stephen J. Dubner argue that modern football helmets can be more dangerous, in some ways than the old leather helmets because (and I am going by memory here) the players will lead with their head in tackles thinking they are safe. They also argue that people wearing seat belts will drive more aggressively for the same reason.

This makes sense and I don’t dispute it but I also don’t think it applies to bicycle helmets. When I am riding my bike, I don’t take risks because I am wearing a helmet. Lets be honest, a helmet won’t make a bit of difference if a truck runs over you. But the real argument is weather drivers will take more risks around. I find that hard to believe. Drivers are basically good people and they don’t want to hit you weather you are wearing a helmet or not.

My real concern with drivers is that they don’t pay attention. That is why you, as a cyclist, must pay double the attention. This alone is worth more than a hundred helmets. I mentioned in my last post that I had four close calls on my way to work. The worst was when the Orkin Man ran me off the road while turning left onto the street I was riding on. None of those four people ever saw me. Monday morning, on the same street and in almost the same spot, a box truck turned left and ran me off the road. This time, even though the sun was up, I had my flashing headlamp on and he still didn’t see me.

The point is, none of these people were driving like idiots because I was wearing a helmet. They were driving like idiots because…well…that is how they drive, and while a helmet won’t save me from a major collision, it may be just enough when I are forced off the road and hit the ground hard.

With that in mind, I would say wear your helmet but remember that is secondary to caution and good riding skills.



Cycling Safety and Etiquette

On my way to work yesterday I was either forced to stop or move off the road by four different motorists who were not paying attention. In every case, I was watching the driver and expected them to see me after the incident and at least give me a wave as an apology. I was expecting too much. Not one driver ever knew I was there.

This brought to the forefront of my mind something I already knew. We cyclists are like ants on a sidewalk and if we are not careful we could get squashed.  We need to assume that our safety is one hundred percent our responsibility. I know there are laws protecting our rights on the roads, but as I mentioned my last post, The Ignorant Motorist, some people don’t know that.

There are two types of drivers that concern me most:

  • The distracted driver – This is the most dangerous person on the road. These are people who have other things on their mind and do not look both ways as they come to an intersection. Some people will drive over a sidewalk and then look to see who is coming. Every driver is a potential threat. Never assume someone will see you or obey the traffic laws.
  • The stressed-out driver – This person is wound very tight and the smallest thing will set them off. I recently  had someone lay on their horn because I caused them to slow one or two seconds early before their turn. Most of these people won’t try to run you down but they will try to squeeze past you when it is not safe to do so. This type of driver is more of a challenge.

My first suggestion is to carefully plan your route if you can. I use Google Maps or Google Earth. These programs can give you a street level view so you know what the roads are like. I try to keep my ride to trails, back roads and streets with bike lanes as much as possible.

My other suggestion is to consider the driver. Help them out as much as possible. If you are courteous to drivers, you not only keep them from snapping, you might even help other cyclists by giving that driver a more positive image of all cyclists.

If you are riding for time or trying to push your limits, you may not be able to do everything I suggest here, but do what you can. I always use hand signals when I ride so that drivers know what my intentions are. This helps both them and me. I also try to keep from slowing them down as much as possible. I have a mirror on my helmet so I can see when someone is behind me and I try to make it easy for them to pass. If they can’t pass because of traffic, I speed up. If they can pass, I might slow down so they can pass quicker. Sometimes if cars back up behind me, I will move to the sidewalk until the road is clear and then move back.

One word of caution. I sometimes tend to ride as far over as possible but have found this to be a bad idea for two reasons. When there is heavy traffic, drivers tend to try to squeeze past you without moving into the other lane, and there is a risk that you will hit the edge of the road and lose control just as a car is passing you.

I had a hard time finding specific data on how safe cycling was compared to driving but I did find this report  from the Department of Transportation. It reports that cyclists accounted for 1 percent of the traffic but 1.9 percent of fatalities were cyclists. This seems high but it also shows the District of Columbia as being the hardest hit. This indicates to me that urban cycling is much more dangerous.

This post is not ment to be pessimistic. I believe cycling can be very safe, even safer than driving, but only if you take responsibility and always pay attention to what is going on around you.