New Tire – Hearting REI

I wasn’t expecting my new tire until Monday, but REI in true awesome form got the order in early!  Got a new (well two…) new tubes for my 25 x 700 puncture resistant tire….we shall see how it holds up!  LBS recommended against tire liners here, as we don’t have those nasty goathead thorns.  They also recommended a normal tube, which is nice since my rear wheel is slightly heavier with the new tire.  Front tire and tube is still going strong!

Hopefully I’ll get a good ride in this weekend, in spite of the heat – sadly I’m working next weekend when the temperatures are supposed to be a balmy 80!  Here’s to a break in the heat wave, maybe turning off my AC, and a flat free summer, fall, winter…… 😉

Stay cool.

Caribou out.


Seriously Bike?!

Guess what happened going to work last night…you’ll never guess…I got a flat. Rear tire. >sigh<  Cannot wait for my new tire to get here!  My rear tire is seriously cursed.  I’m too annoyed to even investigate the flat at this point, another slow leaker…these pin prick flats are killing me!!!!  Tomorrow I’ll fill it up, go to my local bike store…invest in more tubes and see if they have any more thoughts on what to do.  I’m contemplating tire liners, although they worry me, since they can actually cause pinch flats if not put in correctly.  With my luck, even with good installation they would cause me flats!

Oh bike, why do you hate me so much??

On a positive note, I have started cooking again and playing my harp.  Slowly but surely I’m coming out of my shell and back to life.  Its hard to get started, but once you get going you just need to have faith in gravity and give yourself little reminders and pushes.  A great visit with the family really helped to get me going again!

On the cooking side, nothing too crazy, just some good old quinoa pasta with cheese pasta sauce and a little bit of broccoli.  Keeping it simple and getting the training wheels back on.

For the harp, I replaced the two strings that popped, courtesy of the humidity, re-tuned, and started playing songs I knew so many years ago…rather than look at where I should be if I didn’t take breaks, I’m focusing on the skill I still have and where I want to go in the future!  It may not be a stage, but its never too late… 🙂

Here’s to dreaming, no more flats, and finding the strength and inspiration to live life to the fullest!

Caribou out.

Its too hot to hike.

After chatting with my mom, I’ve realized part of why I’ve not been so active in posting is…well…I was a little bummed out with some things in life.  But the good news is, recognizing the bummer and then doing something about it.  In addition to my biking, sad attempts at running, and swimming, I enjoy – no – LOVE hiking.  Hiking is simply awesome.

So what do you do when its 95 degrees, sunny, humid, and really really really unpleasant outside?  Treadmill hike.  It is something I learned to do in my Baghdad days.   In the summer temperatures would sore to the 120s and would reach a “chilly” 100 in the evening with lots of crap in the air.  Temperature aside, it was Baghdad.  We lived in a concrete campus and even if there was a place to hike you probably wouldn’t want to go there.  (Maybe Kurdistan, but I never made it out there…)  Anyway, the gist of it is, walk at a reasonable pace and then jack up the incline of the treadmill, change it up throughout the workout and do it for at least an hour but preferably two.  For added “fun” throw on a backpack with weights or weight vest.

In Baghdad, I would put on my weight vest and watch the Biggest Loser for two hours.  I would aim for a 16 minute pace – but varied it so I wouldn’t get bored or burned out – and aimed to stay above a “6” grade incline on the treadmill.  The hardest part was hitting the highest incline and not holding onto the sides!  Dang that brings back some pain 🙂

The last two nights I’ve enjoyed some quality TLC, Bravo, and OWN programming whilst cranking up the ‘mill and donning my weight vest.  Even though I’m a bit tired and my legs are saying, whaaaat?  it is really quite excellent.  Tonight I threw in a little challenge and did .25 mile “sprints” 4 times.  My mom also reminded me that when dad trained for his marathon he found the intervals and speed work to be really helpful.  Thanks mom for the good advice and good reminders 🙂

One day at time getting myself back on track.  But its feeling good.

I also ordered a new tire – hoping to alleviate my curse of the flats.  I’ll be trying out the Serfas Seca Survivor Tire in a 25 x 700 variety.  Fingers crossed the extra 3mm and “puncture resistant” tire will work.  I’ll give updates to let everyone know.  In the mean time, I’ll be using the time tested dollar bill tire patch and a new inner tube, anxiously awaiting my new tire!!

Stay safe on the trails!

Caribou out.

Is it really July?

Wow. I’ve kinda fallen off the earth for a little bit there, huh?  Well… my plague of flats continues…I think it has been 4 or 5 flats in the same tire (ahem *tyre*) now (rear tire)…the good news is I’m getting to be quite proficient in finding leaks and fixing flats.  The bad news is, I keep getting flats!  I thought I was done with flats after I relented and went to the bike shop and had them fix the last one, they replaced my rim tape, although they didn’t think that was the problem, but just in case, gave me a thicker tube, and triple checked my tire.  Tire was fine.  Well, as least I knew it wasn’t something I didn’t spot or did wrong!  1 week after the tire change, bam! another slow leaker.  I likely ran over some glass.  I checked and checked my tire and tube, and only after 2 water submersions did I find the leak in the tube.  Tire still looks great but by comparing the leak in the tube to the tire I found a point of weakness that makes a very teeny part of tire vulnerable to anything rough.  So I’m going to get something to patch my tire and then get some new ones.

For those who are not familiar with the Sheldon Brown bike website, it is amazing.  Seriously. Upon investigating and reading about the pros and cons, I’m considering replacing just my back tire with a slightly wider tire, so it will be a little *hopefully* less vulnerable to flats.  My front tire has been flat free since 2009.  I use a Fuji road bike and have 23 x 700 tires with 120 psi.  I try to get as close to the 120 before each ride/commute to avoid the ever hated pinch or snake-bite flats.  Riding over train tracks doesn’t help my cause too much, which is why I’m thinking of getting a 25 or 26 x 700 tire to give a little added protection to my caboose.

Once I fix my tire and then ultimately replace the tire I’m hopeful my days of flats will be over!  I promise to keep you all more updated and not be so lax in my blogging.  Onwards and upwards!

Stay safe and happy trails.

Caribou out.

Its April what already?!?

Whoa. Where on earth did the time go??  I owe some major postings!!  So as they come out, here are some tid-bits to catch you up.

April 12:  Changed my rear-wheel tire all by myself!! Super excited, a small accomplishment I know, but I feel a lot more self sufficient now.  Time to read more about bike maintenance to learn about the derailleur and brake centering 🙂

April 10:  Finished “Demon in the Freezer” can’t wait to read “Hot Zone”

April 9:  Ran TO work (took lots of advil before hand) and high-fived the runner I see at 0445 each day.

April 4:  Possible stress-fracture in my right foot, 5th metatarsal.  Booh.

April 1:  Finished night shifts coming off vacay. Ran HOME!!  Slept for 2 days straight.

March 18-26:  Traveling!! Paris, France followed by Northern and Central Portugal.  Many tasty foods (and tummy aches – not even I can pass up freshly baked croissant, but so worth it!), minor dental emergency, one missed flight, lots of garmin lady being “douchey” (her words, not mine), and a little bit of french spoken.  Even had time for a Parisian and Portugese run.  Fantastic trip.  Photos to come.

That’s it in a nut shell – seriously though, updates to come!!

Rain vs. Bike

**UPDATE:  Apparently I did something right as it drizzled at best – but read-on as these are the tricks I have used in the past**

Sigh. What every biker hates to hear from…a 70% chance of rain during your commute.  Its one thing to go for a ride in the rain, but quite another when you have a suit, heels, and your lunch in your bag.  As I’ve said, I use light-weight (REI) backpack to haul my work-clothes and if needed an extra layer for work.  I also have not seen any water proof bags that look worthwhile, some definitely will seal out that water, but are uncomfortable, small, and really pricey!  Working with what I already own, I have managed to keep my suits and shoes bone dry, and even my own bones!

Dilemma:  Its raining…and chilly (40-50 F).  I cannot play hookie.

Solution:  Plastic and GoreTex.  Line your backpack, panniers, fanny pack etc. with plastic bags.  If its cold or chilly, GoreTex or eVent fabric is your friend. First things first, if I get wet – no biggie – God gave us terry cloth for a reason.  Keeping your things dry is the bigger concern – thats where the bags come in.

Clothing:  If it is really cold or really pouring out – I highly recommend rain pants and jacket.  Cold and wet is never good – even if you will sweat a bit more.  The sweat can be more easily avoided by dressing much cooler than you would otherwise dress.  For your hands, you *could* spend a lot of money for pricey gloves that claim to be waterproof, but really aren’t….or you could use one of two options.  Deal with wet hands, or buy dishwashing gloves.  Yes, dishwashing gloves.  Its not high-tech nor “cool” but inexpensive and quite effective.

The Gear and Details:

  • Carrying your stuff:  No need to get some pricey-gear specific water-proof something or other, you need a good plastic bag.  A kitchen garbage bag works well, or if you want to recycle those grocery bags, you’ll need to double or triple wrap your things.  You can either line your bag of choice, whether it be a pannier or backpack with a large plastic bag, or bind your belongings in small bags.  If you are obsessive, liner bag + small bags = guaranteed dryness.  Caveat – you need to fold over the lip/closure of your bags to make sure that rain won’t go into the opening.  Roll, fold, whatever you need to do on the liner bag, on small ones, I like to place them “bum” up to keep the rain away.
  • Tops:  Here I definitely recommend a GoreTex or eVent jacket – pit zips preferred on GoreTex.  You’ll want something lighter weight and may only need a t-shirt underneath, even if it is just above freezing.  The one downside with GoreTex is it doesn’t really breathe, that is where eVent technology comes in – eVent is pretty water proof but also decently breathable.  Here is where I do recommend buying something more “gear” specific.  I love my GoreTex jackets (like Mountain Hardwear and Arcteryx) but I wouldn’t trade my eVent jacket for anything – and I’m glad I have both.  I’ve only used the linked eVent jacket so I cannot speak for the other eVent jackets/designs.
  • Bottoms:   I use Marmot’s PreCip rain pants.  The benefit of these pants is they fully open on the sides so if you adjust to your needs/heat level – although you’ll get a little wet if they are open on the hips.  The PreCip’s are also great for skiing and hiking.  If its not pouring out and cold and you don’t mind getting wet – just wear your leggings, shorts, capris.  You’ll be fine.  I find cold, wet legs are far more tolerable than arms and core.
  • Hands:  If its above 40, I’d wear biking gloves and suck it up getting wet, but I wouldn’t go without a glove, the fabric will still protect you from the wind and asphalt.  If its colder and pouring rain, dishwashing gloves.  Just make sure the end of the glove is under your jacket to seal out rain.
  • Feet:  Well, I think this may be a suck it up area or decide you are going to buy those bike specific booties.  Personally, I have just sucked it up and put dry socks in my bag.

Ride safe and happy trails!

Caribou out.

24 Degrees and Biking

Post One:  The Inspiration.

First things first, my commute is approximately 7 miles one-way with some minor ups and downs.  Second, my goal is not to arrive at work drenched in sweat as the hot water isn’t so hot.  Third, I bike with a pack on back, its light, but its there.

Dilemma:  It is officially cold outside.  February aka Winter have finally hit the city.  What does the car-free dieter do with these freezing temperatures?  If you guessed master the art of layering, you have won a gold star!  If you are an aspiring bike commuter, like cycling but not the cold, and don’t like spending money for new gear (as much as we all love new gear)…you should read on.

Solution:  It was 24 degrees at 0415 when I left my house, expecting to freeze I layered up.  My legs were covered (in order) light-weight wool capri-length long johns, knee-high ski socks, and my running fall tights.  I don’t own heavy running tights because it never gets that cold in D.C.  On top, sports bra, medium-weight wicking long sleeve shirt, wicking t-shirt, the sleeves from my REI primaloft jacket (but not the vest portion), and my lightweight reflective jacket.  The paws had biking gloves with ski mitts over.  A buff doubled over on my ears and Smart-wool gater on my neck.

Ups:  My hands were toasty hot. I mean they sweated a little.  I have Raynauds aka horrid circulation and my fingers turn white and numb quickly when cold. Hot hands are a blessing.

Downs:  My core was warm! I was expecting to be a little chilly on the commute, but nope. I was warm…dare I say, hot?

Lessons Learned:  I could have done without the t-shirt, and possibly without the sleeves.  Leg layering was a perfect ten as were all the digits!  Gaiter and buff kept me warm and protected.

Summary:  A great commute that was warmer than anticipated.  The great thing with layering is when its 34 degrees for your commute home you simply don’t wear the long-johns, t-shirt, sleeves, and open the reflective jacket a little bit.

Details:  I am a huge fan of REI. I could blog all day about them, but I won’t…yet.

  1. Jacket with removable sleeves and/or hood:  This is an essential for any cold-weather adventurer.  Primaloft aka synthetic down, is durable, keeps you warm when wet, and is a good price alternative to down.  I love this jacket because you can remove the sleeves and have a great vest.  Or, as I learned, wear the sleeves without the vest to keep your arms cold when biking or running.  Yes it sounds odd, but trust me it works.
  2. Running Tights – Use what you have rather than buy 3 kinds of running tights:  My running tights have a sheer spot behind the knee, great for keeping me cool in the 40’s and 50’s, but not so great for freezing weather. Solution? pair them with light-weight wool long-johns, or actual tights.  Personally, wool just keeps me warmer/cooler than silk or synthetic. Do what works best for you. If it was below 0, I would have worn mid-weight full length long-johns.
  3. Ski-socks:  Wool again is ideal for the wicking.  I am using socks that no longer work for skiing, they are just too old to keep my toes warm for 8+ hours, but now have a new lease on life.
  4. Gloves:  Again, ski mitts that were going into retirement as technology got better and I got new ski mitts.  Mine are DaKine, insulated, and fit over my full-finger biking gloves.  25-40 degrees I use ski mitts or gloves, over 40 I can typically get away with my bike gloves, but occasionally my hands will go numb.  I’m guessing 0-25 the dual glove will do wonders.
  5. Reflective Jacket:  I will look up the name of this thing, it is awesome as the ENTIRE jacket is reflective and its not obnoxiously yellow.  Actually its a nice blue although with a somewhat 80s retro feel to it.  It is very light weight and has some wind-breaking power.  When its in the 60s I sweat wearing this half-way open and a t-shirt.  It is a great running jacket too. Since I commute when its dark, reflection and safety are my priorities.
  6. Eye-Pro:  Since its really cold, its dark, and in the evenings there are headlights to deal with, I bike with plastic yellow-lenses.  You can buy range/shooting lenses that come in oranges, yellows, and clear.  I’m sure cycle shops have something similar.  The yellow makes it easy to see in the dark while still muting a little bit of those harsh headlights.  If you don’t deal with headlights you could go with clear, but having some eye pro is nice and helps eliminate the “damn its cold” eye tears.

Happy Trails and ride safe!

Caribou out.