Thursday, December 24, 2015

My First Metric Century (over 100K) Ride

I had it in my mind that I really wanted to do a metric century ride before the end of 2015 and in light of having some time on my hands decided to go for it.  Tuesday was supposed to be a nice day and about 55 degrees.  But I should know better - in Kansas that could mean that the nice weather doesn't show up until today for instance.  Regardless I had been doing so much to get ready that I just wanted to get this thing done.  It felt like the universe was conspiring against me, but the reality is that I am often my own worst enemy.

The night before the ride I decided I needed to prep my bike.  Word to the wise, don't wait till the night before to prep.  This needs to be done several days in advance.  I had gotten a flat over the weekend ride and needed to have that addressed so I ran up to my LBS and they got me squared away.  When I got home I decided to switch out my handlebars to something better suited for the long ride.  I've done this a ton of times with no issues but Monday night was the exception.  I was almost done when I noticed a gap in the head tube that needed to be addressed.  As I tore everything back apart I accidentally forgot to hold something in place and POW!  I had pieces everywhere.  I tried for about 10 minutes to fix it but had no idea what order everything went in.  I grabbed a zip-lock and put all the loose parts in it, threw the bike on the carrier and raced to my bike shop. Thankfully the guys put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Somewhere in the craziness of trips to the bike shop and working on my bike I put my wallet in one of my tool box drawers.  Well the morning of the ride I couldn't find my wallet!  Panic city!  I retraced steps, drove to stores I went the night before and just flat out panicked.  Well about 45 minutes later I found the wallet (after looking in the freezer and all kinds of other unlikely places). At this point I was dangerously close to the start time for my ride.  The ride I planned to do was an RUSA ride and is therefore timed.  You have to declare a start time in advance and whether you start on time or not, the clock starts right at your declared start time.  I decided to go for it and try to make it up in the ride.  I started about 20 minutes late, but in the end it wouldn't have mattered if I had started on time as it took me an hour longer than the allotted time to complete the ride.  You get 7 hours and 20 minutes to complete the 68 mile ride and it took me right at 8 hours.  I'm not mad for not finishing in time.  I'm proud of myself for finishing!  It was both a great ride and a grueling ride. I won't bore anyone with to many details.  I'll just give a few highlights and some musings I had along the way.

The ride is called LeLoup de Loop and starts in Olathe and takes you through Gardener, Edgerton, Wellsville, Baldwin City and Vinland before looping back through Gardener and then back to the start in Olathe.  My trip log showed it at 69 miles and I burned over 8,000 calories along the journey. The scenery was spectacular and I wish I could have taken a little more time to stop and take pictures along the way but for so long there was a chance I was going to make it in time so I pushed ahead. The weather never really warmed up to the point I had expected, but it was still decent weather.  The tough part was the WIND!!!  Every time I was going south I was fighting a headwind.  All this wind really got me thinking.

Wind is such a powerful force.  In my case it was trying to work against me to keep me from achieving my goal.  We often have forces that try to keep us from achieving something great.  It could be other people who just don't think a task is worth doing, or maybe they just don't think YOU can do it.  If I had turned around to have the wind at my back it would have been way easier than going on but I would have ended up back where I had started and would not have completed my task. Each uncompleted task makes it easier to give up in the future.  Before you know it, you aren't even trying anymore!

I'd like to drive the route sometime, or leave much earlier and cycle it again at a much slower pace.  I saw some great scenery and really wished I had taken time for pictures.  Maybe the take away is that life doesn't always have to be a race.  Stop and smell the roses.  Take the pictures.  Enjoy the surroundings.  While I plan to do more rides like this I also plan to make more time for all the above.

With all other rides I've done this year, I'm now about 54 miles away from having ridden 1,000 miles in 2015.  I will achieve this goal!  Merry Christmas to all and get out there and do whatever you are being inspired to do!

Friday, December 11, 2015


Inspiration is so important in everyday life.  It takes something to get you up each morning to make the slog to work.  Something that makes the efforts of doing things you kinda don’t really want to do (if we are being perfectly honest) so you can do what you want to do with your own time.  I’ve had jobs I truly loved.  I hope to have another one of those in the near future.  But in the meantime I want to do something special with some of the time I have been given by way of this lay off.  The first thing that comes to mind is to bike as much as possible.  I had already committed to riding my bike every single day for the next year.  Come rain or shine, sleet or snow I plan to ride.  Then I started watching some cycling movies.  I’ve recently watched Inspired to Ride, Ride the Divide and Reveal the Path.  All are cycling movies that emphasize long distance cycling and for the budding cyclist in me they are dangerously infectious. 

A friend that also rides has convinced me to explore Randonneuring.  Randonneuring is long-distance unsupported endurance cycling.  I looked into it and am totally on board with it.  I plan to ride my first randonneuring route early in the new year.  The one I selected is a 110k loop in North East Kansas.

Another ride I’ve been inspired to do is the Rocheport Roubaix which is a bike trail race on January 31st.  You heard that right, January 31st, otherwise known as the dead of winter.  I am still trying to decide between the 30, 50 or 67 mile options, but regardless this is something I really want to do and am currently training as if I am already registered. 

I've got at least one more very lofty goal but want to keep that one a secret for now. But I promise it is a big one!

I ride to get physically fit, but I also need to stay physically fit to ride.  These things go hand in hand. It kind of reminds me of when I got my first job and my first car.  I would drive to work, and I had to work to drive.  

So I will continue to look for inspiration to ride and I will continue to ride to inspire.  

I’ve got some work to do, both on and off my bike.  But I’ve found my inspiration through the movies I’ve been watching, the love I’ve gained for cycling, my classic love of adventure and the outdoors and just my sheer optimism that I can do what many would deem impossible.  The inspiration to do these rides is also helping me to stay motivated in areas related to my physical health (diabetic health and weight loss).  Wish me luck and watch for me as I get to work to achieve these goals.   

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


Sometimes you need to take the detour, sometimes you have no choice.

Today life presented a detour to me.  I received the news that I was let go from Sprint (again).  My last day is next Friday and it is a bittersweet moment for me.  I have struggled to know my place here ever since they laid off my entire team last year.  I came back after about 5 months as they needed someone to work through some of the transition that was incomplete when they let my team go.  It was easy to come back to Sprint.  I love so many of my coworkers and after 23 years here things got pretty comfortable.  I’ve been pondering a whole career change ever since I came back and it looks as if I get to give that idea a try.

Once they told me about my being let go, they said I could go home early and take some time to think about things.  Well of course to me that meant only one thing, bike riding time.  I got home and ate a quick lunch and started preparing to ride.  I thought a few times about loading the bike on the Jeep so I could go do a different trail and almost talked myself out of it.  I knew riding from home could add an hour of precious bike riding time, but I felt drawn to ride the Gary Haller Trail rather than the tried and true Indian Creek Trail.  Finally I decided I must follow the urging and packed the bike to the Gary Haller Trail. 

I started riding and it’s amazing what riding can do for me.  It really clears my head and gets my mind working in a higher level kind of way.  I was clipping along nicely when I came to this:

Talk about a detour!

I immediately thought about how this forced detour paralleled my current situation.  The detour was not optional.  To continue going forward without paying heed to the detour would mean destruction (or at least a great deal of pain).  As I rode past this obstacle on the detour path I noticed that the path was not all smooth and comfortable (as the bike trail was).  It was on gravel and was bumpy and filled with potholes.  But in a matter of feet I was back on the path and moving quickly and comfortably again.  Another parallel struck me.  Detours are sometimes bumpy and not as comfortable.  They can be tough and painful, but in the end they can also be lifesaving.  And once you get past them you can start moving again.

I know that in the end this detour will be a good thing.  It gives me a chance to think about what I want to do for the next 20 years or so.  It gives me a chance to take care of things that I always say I would do if I had more time to do them.  It gives me time to take care of myself and my family. 

Last year when I got laid off I commemorated the occasion with this tattoo:

The translation  for this is – Never look back, continue going forward on your journey.  I need to remember why I got this tattoo as I move forward. 

In the meantime, I foresee even more riding as I will have some free time on my hands.  Hopefully I will be able to share more thoughts that come to me on my rides.  One thing that helps me is that I am a positive thinker.  I'm always looking for the silver lining.  I know I can and will find it!

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Fall

The last few rides I've taken I've been noticing the beauty of Fall.  The leaves are almost done falling and the colors they have provided are one of the many things I love about cycling the trails around my house.

As I was riding this weekend I was struck with a parallel of Fall the season and what it is like for someone to fall because of something happening to them in their life.

Towards the end of Fall the leaves are gone from the trees.  One thing I noticed is that because of Fall I can see through the trees.  I can see things that are 15 feet off the trail that I did not notice all Summer long.  I can also often see further up the trail and even see around corners better.  It gives me more time to react to oncoming obstacles.

Compare that to someone having fallen in some way in their life.  Maybe because of a family crisis or a job related problem.  Something that causes one to really feel down and defeated.  Depressed and beaten.  When I've been in those places I've noticed that my outlook on things shifts or changes.  In some cases I become more careful, in other ways more free spirited.  Usually the opposite of however I acted before the fall.  After I've fallen I've noticed that I see things I did not see previously.  So many times I suddenly see the bigger picture.  I get meaning out of the sadness or pain.  I can see further down the road to where I am going and I make corrections to ensure I don't fall again, or least I don't fall as hard.

One thing I truly love is the fact that after the Fall there will eventually be another Spring.  A reminder that whatever I'm going through now will not last forever.  New life and renewal is just around the corner.  Using the learning of a fall will better prepare me for a new start.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thankful for my LBS

If you've been riding for any amount of time you've probably heard the term "LBS".  I had no idea what this meant at first, but soon learned it referred to my Local Bike Shop.  Just like McDonald's, Subway or even gas stations there are bike shops and/or bike departments at larger chain stores all over.  But there is a vast difference in hitting the bike department at Walmart vs. your trusty LBS.

First off - most people working in a department store are hardly qualified to advise on bike parts and these same people are the ones who probably assembled the bikes for sale there.  And then there is just such a limited selection of parts available.  In a pinch you might get a new tube or a bike lock or something else fairly common, but that is about the limit of usefulness a department bike store offers. I've even found that sports and fitness stores have limits when it comes to the cycling departments they contain.

Then there is the LBS.  My LBS is Bike America at 95th and Nall in Overland Park, Kansas.  I bought my Cannondale there and I can't say enough about how awesome these guys are!  They offer great and knowledgeable sales support and as far as bike mechanics go they are tops!  I pop in there frequently and have gotten to know several of the mechanics pretty well.  They are always ready to help me out with any problem.  Often times they teach me how to do something for myself in the future, and they always let me hang out while they work on my bike.

Well the other day was another day for my LBS to shine.  I was planning to ride and went to reach down my 29er and found a totally flat rear tire.  I kinda thought it was going soft on my ride the day before so I wasn't completely surprised, but it changed my plans.  I jumped on the fat bike for a quick 3 mile ride, but it is just not ready for much longer riding yet.

When I got back I thought about tackling the flat so I'd be ready for a longer ride the next day.  I kinda started at it half-assed and then decided to just run it to my LBS.  They would fix it in a quarter of the time so the repair fee was worth it.  Well I got there and sure enough they fixed it lickity split! It turned out that as I had installed flat prevention strips earlier in the year, the repair was free of charge!  My long Thanksgiving Day ride was back on schedule thanks to my LBS!

I've walked in to larger bike shops - like Bike USA and I've found them very impersonal and in fact I recall twice shopping there only to find myself completely ignored.  I since decided to avoid them all together.  (I apologize if anyone reading this is a Bike USA fan - this is just my experience with them).

So here I am the day after, the day after Thanksgiving finally getting around to finishing this post and come to find that this is "Shop Small" day.  So this is a fitting day to say Thanks to my LBS and remind people to shop small and support local shops vs. big chain stores as much as possible.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

First thoughts about the Mongoose Dolomite

I recently acquired a Mongoose Dolomite Fat Bike.

This is a cheap way to try out Fat Biking as they are very affordable.  I have found very quickly that in the biking world affordable means HEAVY! This bike weighs in at 50 pounds.

I haven't done much to upgrade it yet.  The previous owner converted the grip shifter to a trigger shifter which was a nice upgrade.  I added a few bags I had laying around, changed out the handlebars to something that helps bring them up higher, added a headlamp and brake lamp, added a bell and of course added a QuadLock mount for my cell phone.  Oh and I changed out the pedals to something bigger for my size 13 feet.  The original seat post is too short and so I opted to get a shim so I could use my nice saddle and Thomson seat post from my Cannondale.  

Up to last night I had not ridden more than a few miles.  I decided to try it out on a 6 mile trip yesterday and I think it did pretty good.  I'll try not to compare it too much to my Cannondale (as that would not be fair).  This bike is super fun to ride!  You definitely get noticed as in my neighborhood I don't think I've ever seen another Fat Bike.  One thing to get used to (until I upgrade it) is that it only has 7 speeds.  This really gives you very little range for steep hills as I found out as I tried to traverse the big hill on the Indian Creek Trail that goes up behind Shawnee Mission South High School.  I struggle up this hill on my Cannondale and knew this would be a tough climb.  I made it up about 80% of the way before I had to hop off and push to the summit.


The downhill side was fun though!  I did notice that the rear brakes need serious attention before I do anything that needs fast stopping power is attempted again.  I also noticed that the seat post kept dropping on me.  I tried to tighten it at the halfway point, but it still needs attention before another ride.  Lastly somehow the chain jumped off the front chain ring mid ride.  It was weird as there are chain stays on both sides of the front chain ring so it only jumped just slightly to the right so I was free wheeling.  I was worried something bigger happened on the rear cassette so was glad it was nothing serious and I could ride vs. walking home once I reset the chain.

First Impressions:

  • This thing is heavy!  I felt like I was dragging a cinder block behind me.  I need to put it on a diet and see if I can lighten it up.  It did come with a set of Rolling Darryl Surly Rims so maybe soon I could get those set up tubeless and see if that helps at all on the weight. 
  • It is fun to ride and I can't wait to try it off road in some dirt or sand.  Or snow would be fun too!  
  • I think a different crank with multiple chain rings is in it's future.  I need more gear options for the hilly trails I tend to ride.  
  • I gotta work out the brakes and the seat post slippage.  
In time though I think this will be a fun ride to have in my stable.  

Monday, November 23, 2015

So why do I call this blog the Fat Biking Biker?

Well there would be several reasons for this name.  First off I am a big guy.  I currently weigh over 300 pounds (just barely).  I fell in love with cycling as a means to exercise and lose weight, and have done both over the past year.  Being a big guy means I've had to do some upgrades to my bike so it can handle my bulkiness, but it has been worth it.  

My main ride is a Cannondale Trail 7 29er and it feels like a HUGE bike!  

Secondly I recently acquired a Mongoose Dolomite Fat Bike that I plan to modify and just ride the heck out of this winter.  A dream of mine would be to use one or the other of my bikes to bikepack the Katy Trail from one end to the other.  

So I am the Fat Biking Biker no matter what wheels are underneath me!

If for some reason I lose enough weight to no longer be "fat" I will leave this blog's name alone cuz I will always have a fat heart!

The Start Of Something Good

So I decided once and for all to start a ride streak. A ride streak is where you intend to ride your bike every single day. I have set the following rules for my streak:

I intend to do the majority of the riding on a real bike with 2 wheels on an actual road or trail.

I will allow that if for some reason beyond my control (business travel/extreme illness) that I can substitute a real ride for one on a trainer or exercise bike. But this will be the exception - not the rule. I hate trainers and exercise bikes so this rule should be easy to enforce.

My rides must be at least 1 mile each day. Most weekend days this will be easy as I tend to go for longer rides then, but I know workdays will be the challenge. I know though that once I get on my bike I will most likely ride at least a mile.

If I have to use the trainer or exercise bike I must go at least 2 miles to have those rides count.

The streak started on November 21st of 2015.

Thoughts on Control

This could just be a rambling train of thought but when you are riding for 18+ miles your mind tends to wander.  One of the things I really love about riding is that it is great mental therapy as well as getting physical exercise.  

I started off my ride with no expectations of anything good happening other than riding for the sake of riding.  Normally I listen to a book on my iPod, but yesterday I was inspired to listen to some music.  I think this allowed my mind to think about things instead of being forced to focus on the book.  

As I was riding I was reflecting on life and the role "control" plays in it.  We'd had a trying week and I needed some therapy on the bike to sort out things.  One thing that came to mind was some parallels of cycling compared to life.  I try to control so many things in my life.  I have a binge eating disorder so I am constantly trying to control my urges to take my problems to the refrigerator.  My wife has been having some depression and anxiety issues and I've been trying to help her get better.  I need to continue to lose weight and control my diabetes so I am constantly trying to control my eating through using My Fitness Pal to monitor portion sizes and carbs and calories.  

Anyway, as I rode I was comparing riding to life and found some parallels between the two. The trails I ride on are covered in leaves at the moment as well as sticks as it is Fall.  I was using my handlebars to control the bike and using it to avoid the sticks, bumps and the occasional pothole.  It dawned on me that we do have some control over things we see in our paths.  We use our "handlebars" to maneuver carefully around as much as possible to avoid an accident, but even with our best intentions sometime we still crash.  The important thing about a crash (whether it be on our bikes or some event in our non-riding lives) is that we have to get up and get moving again.  

An example of this happened to me a month or two ago.  I was riding on the Lawrence River Trail.  This is a single track dirt/sand trail that is sort of like a mountain bike trail.  I say sort of because it is fairly easy compared to really technical trails.  I was out riding this trail and was having a great time.  It was a perfect day to be riding and like I said - this is a fairly easy trail.  I run the Road ID application on my phone when I am riding somewhere new so my wife has an extra level of security.  The Road ID gives my wife real time info on where I am, and if for some reason I stop moving for 5 minutes, it sends her an alert.  If she can't get a hold of me she most likely will call the police and give them my GPS coordinates so they can rescue me.  Well I had already accidentally put my wife into a panic with the use of this application so I knew not to do so again - not if I valued my life!

Anyway - I was riding along and just as I went over a rise the front wheel hit some deep sand and my handlebars cranked hard to the right and I had no choice but to keep going straight over the handlebars.  I hit pretty hard face down (thank goodness it was sand and not pavement) and the wind was partially knocked out of me.  Well the first thing that ran through my mind was that I needed to get back up and moving pretty quickly.  I knew that my wife would panic as I mentioned above, but also I was on the other side of the rise and there was a good chance someone else would come right over the rise and smash me.  I might add it was very difficult to get up and get moving.  I was stunned and trying to catch my breath.  But again - there was an urgency to get up quickly.  

If you really want to see the wreck and hear my moaning's and wailing's feel free to watch the video:

So I liken the handlebars to my way of controlling things.  Every once in a while "life" happens and we lose control.  But if we don't quickly pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get moving again we risk being run over by other problems.  

It is time to pick myself up from the wreckage of things that have happened lately and get moving again.  No matter how hard it might be.