Any Light is a Helmet Light

Here I have my 3-watt LED Mag-Lite Mini mounted on my helmet with a “LiveStrong” band. It doesn’t put out a beam as usable as the Petzl Tikka XP, but it’s good in a pinch. I won’t be using it to replace my Tikka, but if I ever need to use a handheld light, this will come in handy.

Buy why the facination with lights lately? Why, Tomas, why?!
I’ve been doing a lot of running and cycling in the dark lately. It just seems more peaceful and quiet than having to deal with all the traffic on the roads and in the neighborhood. Also, I wish to eventually ride in a couple of 24 hour races and need a good lighting system that doesn’t cost too much. Even if I have to spend billions to find it.

Then I decided to try all my lights at once!

Result? It was very heavy, the lights didn’t all point in the same direction, and it really cut down on my aerodynamics. I think I may have to get rid of some of them in the near future.

  • Maglite 2D
  • Maglite 2C
  • Mini Maglite 3 Watt LED
  • Maglite Solitaire
  • CatEye Opticube
  • Brinkman LED Lamp
  • Energizer Camping Lamp
  • Petzl Tikka XP

Fun was had by all!

I just realized…I now look like the mechanical squid sentinals from “The Matrix”, minus all the killer tentacles and ability to fly.

Perhaps I should contact the peeps at Hollywood and see if I can put together some special effects. I think I would rock.

Love, Luck and Lollipops!


Your Results May Vary

Or: How I Spent my Friday Night. By Tomas, Age 30

After spending most of Friday looking for work, submitting resumes to online sites, scouring Craigslist, and talking to a technical recruiter, I really needed to get out of my apartment for a while and get a good workout.

Around 5pm, I changed into my running clothes, put on my backpack and GPS then trotted downtown. (My Route) I ran to the downtown Portland Borders bookstore, 5 miles away, in 49 minutes 5 seconds. At least half of that run involved being rained on in 38ºF weather. Oh yeah. That was grande! Rewarded myself with a nice, large, soy hot chocolate. Mmmmmmmm…

I then hopped over to the Verizon store to get my phone updated so I can try out some GPS and Mapping applications.

Returning home via a very busy #15 bus trip, I ate some dinner, changed into some more appropriate riding clothes and hopped on the bike.

Nothing gets the heart pumping like cruising down Marine drive with 25 mile an hour cross winds, rain, and sub-freezing temperatures beating down on any exposed facial skin at 12:30 am. Grande! Even the unfortunate flat tire on Marine drive at 1am didn’t dampen my spirits.

Attempting to switch out the rear tube with gale winds blowing, in pitch black darkness, I found out that the two extra tubes I always ride with both had punctures in them. Great. Spending extra time trying to find the pin-hole in a tube is always fun!

45 minutes later, I was thoroughly soaked, freezing hands and getting a bit hungry, I was back on my way. I even stopped at a Walmart to pick up some hand warmers that only worked for about 15 minutes before becoming water-soaked themselves and ceased working.

At some point of my ride, the rain and wind stopped, exposing the mostly full luna in a bright glory to illuminate my way. That made the last 15 miles of my trip a bit more pleasant.

3:55 am, I rolled up to my apartment. My gloves and shoes were completely full of water. I was slightly shivering, hungy, having to pee, and yet after the hardships of this ride, I was happy to complete 40 miles.

Most people are “fair weather riders”. However, since I am trying to physically and mentally preparing myself for some 24 hour races on bicycle and on foot, I need all the conditioning I can get no matter the weather. I can’t wait for the sun to be out, dry, and temperatures at a pleasant 72ºF. What’s my point? I don’t know. I just want to ride.

Right. So…keep on riding…yeah.


Light Up My Life!

Life…ride…whatever…riding is life!

Ever since I’ve started riding my bicycle at night much more often, I’ve been obsessed with trying to find a good bicycle light that doesn’t cost as much as my bicycle and gives plenty of lumens to light the road.

I previously used a Nite-Rider Trail-Rat but I gave it to my friend Matt so that he can join me in my nocternal rides and get home from work after sundown. I then switched to a Blackburn X3 system because it used a never-burn-out LED and gave some pretty long run times and output. It’s a nice light, but the rechargeable battery pack is just HUGE and I can’t seem to find a good spot to mount it on my bike frame. Also, I did have a spell where the light was taking on a mind of its own and flashing through the different brightness modes, turning off and on at completely random times.

That wasn’t going to fly.

So, again I engaged in the search to find a light that had a good beam, rechargeable, and doesn’t weight a quarter metric ton. Behold, the DiNotte 5W LED Ultralight!
As you can see, it uses 4 rechargeable AA NiMH batteries, but the important fact was that it used AA batteries that can be found EVERYWHERE. It is a TINY, yet powerful light.

It fits nicely with the battery pack, perched on my aerobars. The battery and light weights less than the battery pack of the Blackburn x3 and puts out more light. Shweeeet.

Although the DiNotte does have one heck of a spread beam, I needed some kind of spot light to focus on signs or where ever I needed a bit of light without turning my handlebars.

Behold, a Petzl Tikka XP headlamp mounted onto my helmet. The reflective taped-up helmet.
Then as a safety precaution, I have a blinking LED light mounted with a rubber band on the back of my helmet.

I’m still looking for lighting options. The DiNotte’s battery pack isn’t water proof, and the Tikka XP is only a 1-watt LED. A better spotlight would be great for riding faster as well as mountain biking on some single-track. For now, this combo will have to do.

I’d light to thank the CandlePower Forums for their lighting obsessive behavior and all the ideas it gives me for making my own system or purchasing more lights.

I would post pictures of the beam patterns and how well they work at night, but my camera takes TERRIBLE night photos.

Next up: Trying to find a GOOD flashlight for running.

First Things First

Happy 2007! May this year be better than 2006!

I’ve been trying to get myself back on track with my fitness training. Running around Portland, riding my bicycle everywhere and piling on the miles, pull-ups and hand exercises to get ready for rock climbing.

So, I started the year at a party at the Portland World Trade Center and running 3 miles with a thousand other runners. I met two new friends and ran the entire course with them and then went out for an after-run breakfast then walked up to a local park for a late night toast with a bottle of champagne.

I didn’t bring my camera but there were photographers there taking pics of people as they crossed part of the course. I should have a picture of myself and my two new pals running with are arms together. It was grande!

Good times.

Then, later that day I was getting restless and decided to go for a training ride since my miles have been short as of the last 4 months. I did a long tour around Portland and completely a brisk 35.5 miles by the time I got home.

Good times.

What do I have for new years resolutions?

  • At least one 24-hour bicycle race.
  • Running at least one Marathon.
  • Seattle to Portland in one day (200 miles).
  • Summitting at least one of the cascades mountains.
  • 10,000 miles via bicycle (trying again).

Aim big, or don’t aim at all.


Running with Red Lizards

I finally started running again since my little break. I had a bit of a rough time back in October and November that I had to work through and now I feel like I can start doing the activities I enjoy once again.

Tonight, I ran with a local group that call themselves “Team Red Lizard“.

We started at the Fremont Street “Foot Traffic” running store around 6:30pm, ran down to “Peacock Lane” to see a display of Christmas lights then turned around, trotted through Laurelhurst Park and back up to the store for a potluck feast, which I had no idea was going on till we started back home.

5.4 Miles

It was a good run. I didn’t feel too bad and my knees didn’t start bothering me until the last third of the run that involved going uphill. Everyone was very nice, there were cute girls and I got some free munchies and socializing.

Keep trotting,

Running with Insomnia

My sleep habits have been all over the place over the last month or so. I’ve had nights where I would sleep for 13 to 14 hour straight or in 15 minute chunks over 12 hours, waking, checking time, and falling asleep again with no REM time at all. Lately, I’ve been getting about 2 hours per night.

Unable to sleep the night away and only able to sit in front of my computer for so long, I’ve been going for these late-night runs as I had mentioned in previous blog entries.

Last night was probably my hardest and longest run to date. I started just after midnight with an enthusiasm of running a marathon. It was already a Portland Autum rain this evening but I started off in just my running shorts, sneakers, long sleeve top, raincoat and wool cap. Of course, I also had my hip pack of two waterbottles, powerbar, MP3 player, cell-phone, wallet and some energy gels. I finished around 3am.

Here’s the route I took:

My runs are getting longer but last nights was a killer. It’s not the cardio challenge, it’s the wear on my legs that’s really tough. I’m just not used to this yet! Out of the 10.5 miles, I walked maybe 2 of those, one of which was the last mile since I was thoroughly soaked and legs were freezing. I guess I need to read up on running in the rain.

The hardest part of this run was Rocky Butte. It’s a steep climb and long descent.


I’m OK

I’m OK, really. I may be currently jobless, broke and maybe even a little depressed and desperate…I’m actually OK.

I have the drive to learn something new and go after what I want. I also have the friends to support me and help me in any way they can. For them, I am happy.

I have everything here that I NEED. Things could be better, but it could be a lot worse.

My troublesome dental problems are far from gone, but being managed. Finances are weak but not to the point of desperation. I’m not really interest in a relationship at all right now.

I might lose my car in the near future, but I’m OK with that. Really!

I’m pursuing interests now that have been on my mind for many years and have been something I’ve always kept in the back of my mind (sometimes up front) since I graduated high, and this is the perfect time for me to pursue.

I have a plan.

I have some technical reading to do. I’m learning some new things, but just polishing and updating knowledge I already have somewhere in my spaghetti psyche.

This post is aimed mostly at the people that I have neglected to keep updated with my life, but time is changing for me and the things that are important are being re-prioritized.

In my studies, I’m learning to abide by the pricinple of K.I.S.S.:

Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Keep It Simply Simple
Keep It Stupidly Simple

You get the idea. Less is more.

Before you get any funny ideas, I haven’t “found” religion or anything like that. I’ve just come to the realization that most of the things I sold or left behind in Michigan when I moved to Oregon, I don’t actually miss.

Sure, really miss my friends and family, but I don’t miss having to manage the hundred or so DVDs, games and books that I had.

I had a good job. Some people would argue that it had a good future…but not a good future for me. It was something I could do, but as my interest wained, so did my performance. Why force myself to do something day in and day out that I have no interest in at all? Many people could easily do a job like Garbage Collector or Phone Solicitor, but we don’t do those things if we have other choices, do we?

Despite some challenges, I’m doing alright.

Midnight Run

It’s 2am, and I just finished a run. I think I did about 5 or 6 miles running from my apartment down to Martin Luther King Bulevard and back. It was the stroke of midnight when I started my trot into night. I don’t know what came over me. I suppose I just felt really restless since I’ve been sitting in front of my computer all day long and really felt the need to stretch my legs.

I have had some strange sleep patterns ever since I had my two teeth pulled. Some nights I might sleep only 2 or 3 hours then it’s up and at them for the rest of the day, or I might sleep a very sound 12 hours but wake up feeling like I have a hang-over. I suppose last night’s run helped me sleep a solid 8 hours and not feel too crappy today.

There is something very nice about running or more often for me, biking at night. There is so little traffic in this area after midnight that it becomes quiet and peaceful save for the hum of I-84 just slightly North of me. But no loud buses or cars zooming by all the time, no annoying motorcycles revving their needlessly loud engines, and no excessively bassed stereos from “pimped” cars trying to be “cool”.

It’s just me on the pavement with two waterbottles, headlamp, and running shoes. Oh, and of course the mandatory shorts, wallet, cell phone and keys.

Running through the darkness with the only sound being your feet is very Zen-like. It was a good time to just kind of zone and meditate on the task at hand but then let my mind wander as the foot-falls become automatic.

I don’t particularly like running during the day. There is more smog in the air, people looking at you weird like you’re running from the law or just dressed differently, but it’s also just noisey and seemingly a bit more dangerous having to dodge traffic, cyclists, or people on the sidewalk with their toy dogs that will try to nip at you with the ferioucity of a penguin.

Providing I can make a living for myself as a self-employed web developer, I might just make my nightly runs a regular thing.

A Change in the Wind

I no longer work for the Port of Portland.

I care not to discuss the details of my departure, but in short, it didn’t work out.

I’m not freaked out like when I lost my job with Event Solutions Inc. back in 2002. No sir, I feel like this is a perfect oppurtunity to find a job that I really like and that I can put my backbone into it.

However, I am a little freaked out that I do have a chance to switch careers from being a fixer of problems to being creative.

I’m taking the plunge.

I’m going where the Winds of Change take me.

Not Fast Enough

100 Miles – 8 Hours

Saturday was a training day. I was hoping to ride 100 miles in 6 hours, but ended up riding it in 8 hours on the nose. Actual riding time was probably close to 7 hours since I had a number of potty breaks, buying food & drink, traffic stops, and checking a map to see where I should go.

I need to go FASTER.

Get Running

Today, I started running as part of my regular training regime. Ok, my training is actually all over the place. I usually do aerobic work in the morning and right after work with bicycling then strength training shortly after dinner.

I did three short runs to get an idea of what some distances around my neighborhood would be and to start off a bit light so I don’t strain anything before my body adjusts to the change in motion. I ran a .4, .5, and .6 mile interval for a total of 1.5 miles.

I can tell I could probably run over one consecutive mile but the side cramp, tight groin, and burning calves told me I should ease into running lest I pull something and need to take a couple of weeks off.

What makes me happy about today’s running is that I no longer have the same cardio limit as I did when I first tried running two years ago. Now, it’s just a matter of getting my legs built up.

Why have I started pounding the pavement? Well, for a few years now I’ve been wanting to race in a triathlon but I could never seem to get into a consistant training state of mind. I’ve always had some kind of distraction with work, relationships, personal projects, games and movies. However, the past few months I’ve been exercising pretty regularly and have made great improvements in my phsique and fitness level.

Riding the StP and previous training rides have made me tired, they really don’t feel like they’ve pushed me to the limit. So, I can ride all day, I just need to work on speed.

Now that I feel like exercise is routine, I decided to add running to it and get the cross training effect.

My goal for running? First I’ll start training for a 5-mile trail run and MTB race in September then start working my way to a Half-Marathon then up to a full marathon.

After I get to a half marathon, I’ll incorporate swimming into my routine. .
Maybe I’ll swim sooner than that.

Another reason to start running is so that I can enjoy some of the more demanding hikes that Oregon has to offer. It was quite challenging for me when I tried hiking several miles with a 30-pound pack on my back.

Friday morning, I run again.

What are YOU doing?