Personal Reasons for Bicycling

I’ve now owned my Trek 1000 road bike for exactly 5 full years. I bought it in early March 2001 at American Cycle and Fitness in Sterling Heights, MI for $650. It was probably one of the best investments in my future that I’ve ever made.

I actually bought the bike for a very specific ride. I had found out about a ride called the “AIDS Vaccine Charity Ride” that was held by Pollatta Teamworks (now gone). It was to take place in Montana, last 5 days, 575 miles from Missoula to Billings. Although I had a full-suspension mountain bike (now in a landfill) at the time, I knew that it wouldn’t be up to the task of a ride of that magnitude. It was slow and heavy. However, much like my Nishiki, I too was slow and heavy.

I had just gone through a bought of severe depression, I was stressed about work, I had just had a year of 3 relationships that were complete letdowns and I weighed 175lbs. I was drinking soda with caffiene and drinking coffee all the time. I couldn’t even get up a single flight of stairs to my apartment without feeling a little out of breath.

The real inspiration to get back on a bike “seriously” was the weird sensation I felt in my chest. It might have been a heart murmur, or irregular heartbeat. I’ll never know. But it kind of scared me.

I bought the bike with the full intent of participating in the ride and losing the excess weight that had grown on my waist-line. I had even bought freeweights, a stationary bicycle and a heart-rate monitor (HRM) that doubled as a bicycle computer with Speed and distance monitoring.

Over the next few months, I had lose 20lbs, gained a lot of muscle and started feeling quite awesome.

I then rode to work regularly, rode through Montana with the Trek 1000, rode some more and continue to ride to work. I’ve been on several other group bike rides since then, put on many miles on some long distance rides around SE Michigan and in 2004, I used my tax refund to buy a Gary Fischer Tassajara Mountain Bike. Now, I’ve completed many more group rides, participated in two time trial events and have filled my calendar with regular rides and races all the way through September.

I went through boughts of weight gain as I like to snack and eat. I’ve been up to 166lbs again at the beginning of this year, but have sinced dropped to 156lbs again.

My goal is to keep riding as much as possible, lose a few more pounds and maybe even get down to my 16-year-old svelt self again of 135lbs. Not likely, but it is possible.

The Jack Frost Time Trial 2006

I look fat in this picture!

February 26, 2006.

It was a chilly morning but the wind couldn’t have been more calm for a brisk 12.4 mile time trial. During my drive to the race in Vancouver, Washington, I flopped between thinking of all the preparation I had done the night before and what lay ahead of me.

Weeks before the race, I had registered with OBRA to be a licensed racer for the year in Road, Track, Cross Country (XC), and Downhill (DH). I have my number plates and number tags, even a card to prove my license!

Saturday afternoon, I started taking all the extras off my Trek 1000 road bike like the OnGuard U-Lock, carrier, bell, fenders, headlight, GPS, reflectors, pump, and under-the-saddle bag. It dropped in weight from a portly 35.5lbs to 25.5lbs. Still kind of heavy as far as road bikes are concerned, but that’s due to my use of a heavy duty cassette (rear cogs) and heavy aluminum wheels with steel spokes for commuting.

I then gave the bike a good washing to get all the sand and road grime off the frame, wheels and brakes and lube-up the drive train and make sure everything was in good working condition.

Then I saw the damage. The front and rear tires have taken one heck of a beating in the past 8 months of heavy use and as a result of rocks being pinched between the tire and the road, large chunck of rubber had been torn off exposing the threaded radial inside. This was not good for racing and most definitely not safe for commuting.

I quickly hopped into my car and drove up to River City Bicycles where I knew from previous visits that they had an excellent choice of tires. After considering three different 700×23 tires, the Continental Ultra Sport, Specialized Armadillo, and Continental Gatorskin, I opted for the Continental Ultra Sport (blue tread) since each tire was only $15 a piece as opposed to the other two models that were $35 a piece.

After returning home I finished wiping down the bike and cleaning the wheels when I noticed another problem: A broken spoke. That’s BAD. Seeing that it was on the drive side of the rear wheel, I wasn’t going to take any chances of riding on it since it could very well cause my wheel to untrue itself and put extra strain on the other spokes, I rushed out with Connie just as she was arriving around 5pm. At this point, I knew all the bike shops were closed and my only option for getting a new spoke to fit was at the downtown Portland REI store. Luckily, Connie noticed the Bike ‘n’ Hike that we were passing was still open. We hopped in and gave the mechanic the story and walked out with a black spoke that works but doesn’t match the rest of the silver spokes. Oh well, it worked just find and is barely noticable.

I then finished preparing the bike by changing the tires, replacing the spoke, truing the wheels, lubing the drive train, gathering all my clothes and gear for the next day and making sure it all came together nicely with a quick test ride around the block.

I was ready to race the clock.

We pulled up into Vancouver Lake Park, admiring all the cyclists that were out and about getting warmed up, preparing their bikes, or coming in off the course after riding their race. I was getting quite excited. I was already anxious enough as it was from the emergency part replacement the night before but was getting really nervous about any other parts failing since I still had a few shifting quirks in the rear gears.

We checked the times to see when I was due to start my run only to have me show up a full minute late at the starting line and had to immediately take off before resetting my cyclometer to record ride time and distance.

Away I go!

I wasn’t too far behind the rider ahead of me for the first mile or so, but after we rounded the first two corners and into the long rolling course, he broke away and left me in the dust. After a couple of miles, another rider passed me…then another…then I swear that a couple of motorcycles had passed as well, but they were just some racers that had some high-end bikes with rear disc wheels, aero-helmets, and carbon bike everything. I was already crusing at an average speed of 19mph but felt like these guys were passing me at 29mph. I was feeling like I was keeping quite a good pace for myself but then felt ashamed to think I could compete against the likes of these lightweight racers that could easily out-pace me on the flats and hills. But I pressed on.

The nice 54ºF overcast weather we were having felt pretty good, didn’t get too hot and not too cold, but my head did sweat it up a bit from the fleece cap I wore under my helmet.

After about 6.5 miles, I turned around at the end of the road and was photographed by someone and saw the race official mark my number on the clip-board as I charged off back to the finish line.

I continued to keep my 19mph pace, occassionaly getting up to 22mph but never dipping below 16mph for more than a few seconds. I was breathing hard and my legs were burning, but there wasn’t any pain that kept me from pushing harder, I just couldn’t push any harder without going anarobic.

I hit something. I don’t know what it was, a rock, a piece of wood or roadkill, I don’t know. But it jolted my arms and wrists enough that I had to slow down for a minute to see if there was any damage to my front wheel. I rode on without a flat or bent rim.

After 35 minutes of intense riding, I could see the last corning that led to the finish line off in the distance so I tried to pick up the pace a bit and try to pass the fellow that had been about 150 feet ahead of me for some time but I couldn’t seem to pass. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a closed course and the occassional vehicle did pass on the narrow, two-lane road, but this was a dump-truck. It got right passed me and proceeded to slow down to 15mph before rounding the corner and slowly gaining speed again.

This sucked for two reasons. I had to slow down considerably so I no longer had a chance to overtake the other rider, and I had to put some distance between the truck and myself as to not get penalized by the officials for drafting the truck. This probably hurt my time a bit but I think I was already pretty low in the standings.

I crossed the finish line at a sluggish 17mph but had no idea what my time was going to be. I could only estimate that I had taken about 40 minutes total. I didn’t find out until later that night.

I then rode back to my car, packed up the bike and put one some regular clothes and we started heading home for the day. Then, about 2 miles before the expressway, I ran over a steel bolt that lodged itself in my rear-left tire. Great. There goes another $130 to an unexpected expense. I needed that money to help pay for my first Portland apartment.

We then drove on the flat over to a Burgerville, had a bite to eat while checking the phone book for some kind of tire repair place. I put the “doughnut” spare on the car and then we found a Bridgestone tire shop, but I wasn’t prepared to pay $140 for a single tire. I opted to just ride the spare home to Milwaukie then look for a tire during the week since I rode my bike Monday through Friday rather than drive my car.

I headed home and had a nice and relaxing shower then passed out for about 2 hours with some well earned sleep as I had short-changed myself the night before with race-anxiety.

Shortly after I woke up, they had posted the final times on the site. I placed 80th out of 80 Category 4 & 5 riders. Woohooo! That’s the second time I placed last, but the difference between myself and #79 wasn’t more than 2 minutes. A rather small difference compared to the 12-minute difference from my first mountain bike cross country time trial at Stoney Creek, MI in 2004. I felt this race had gone much better and I had made great strides in my physical performance.

I guess my only big mistake was that I didn’t put my Profile Design clip-on aerobars on the handbars to give me better aerodynamics and possibly improve my time. Oh well, it was a good learning experience.

I can’t wait to do another race. The “Mudslinger MTB”

Anyone care to help pitch in $1,100 for a new Trek 1500 road bike (20lbs) so I can have a race bike and keep my Trek 1000 as a commuter bike?

The 10,000 Mile Challenge

I found myself in need of a personal challenge that will push me further. I want to improve my dedication, self-discipline, endurance, physique, and focus. I’ve discovered that riding 25 miles or more per day really helps me in all these areas as well as clears my mind and keeps me in a really good mood.

If I reflect on my accomplishments of 2005, I’ve done the following rides:

  • Ride to work at least 75% of the time (22 miles per day)
  • The Torture 10,000 (78 miles, 8,000ft elevation of it)
  • The Providence Bridge Pedal (35 Miles)
  • 100-mile training ride
  • The Numb-Nuts 150 (150 miles)

I don’t really have a solid number of the miles I pedaled last year, but I would estimate about 4,000 total.

Matt P. and I did some math that showed that if we rode to work 5 days a week, we would have well over 6,000 miles. Then I started thinking and factoring in all the training rides, fun rides, and races that I wanted to do this year and I started to get about 7,500 miles. I figure that with a bit more effort per week, I could top 10,000 miles! That would definitely be more mileage on bicycle than in my car for the year.

I’ve made a rough schedule in a spreadsheet to track and plan my rides all the way to December 31, 2006. It’s going to take some LONG weekends to do this, but I’m certain I have the physique to make it.

However, the question remains…what is my motivation? I lack sponsorship, reward, and recognition. Why should I put myself under such pressure?

I suppose I felt the need to accomplish something outstanding this year and this just seemed like something that wasn’t going to cost me anything more than some extra food, water and a lot of personal discipline.

I’m open to suggestions for motivation and sponsorship…new bike? Cash? PS3? If I don’t do it…then I get nothing. But as of right now, the only thing I get is healthier.

Here is a glimpse of my spreadsheet:
Insane Schedule.  I'm already running behind!

The (Not-So) Worst Day of the Year Ride

Sunday, February 12, 2006. Matt and I woke up and donned our cold-weather bicycling gear, preparing for some cold and wet weather. We had multiple warm layers, rain gear and head-lamps in case it got dark during or after the ride.

I even got Godzilla (circa 1995) strapped to one of my “CityBike Buckets” to act as my bicycle security. (see pic)

Godzilla's got my back!

We then met up with 1,500 other riders at the “Lucky Lab Pub” near downtown Portland.

1,500 riders!
We lucked out and had 50º+ weather and sun for the entire day and even had to remove some of our warm layers to keep from over-heating.

It was just a fun ride to raise money for the Community Cycling Center in North Portland that has a lot of great volunteer programs to get people to commute, kids to ride and people to learn to fix their own bikes. I like them!

I like the CCC!

At the end of the ride of 18 miles, we had to wait in line for about 15 minutes for some chicken soup and bread-rolls that tasted AWESOME. We would have ridden the 40-mile challenge loop, but we already rode 10 miles to get to the ride then had another 10 to get back.

Despite having an Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and possibly a kidney stone lodged somewhere in my guts, I felt pretty good during the ride and had an enjoyable time.

Death of an Anonymous Feline

On the night of January 9, 2006, while I was riding my bicycle home from work, passing through downtown Milwaukie, Oregon, I saw a cat lying in the middle of the road. At first pass, I thought it was already dead, huddled over it’s feet, eyes closed like it was trying to keep itself warm from the 50º rain. My heartstrings tugged at my conscience…I couldn’t leave an injured cat in the middle of the road to be flattened by another vehicle.

I quickly pedalled back to the cat to get a better look and as I approached it had started opening it’s eyes and meowing at me very loudly. Not hissing or baring it’s teeth, but pleading for help. It started limping towards me as I got off bike. It’s right hind leg wasn’t working too well at all. A rather large pickup started heading towards us and I saw the cat flatten itself on the ground and close it’s eyes in a vain attempt to hide from its inevitable doom. However, since I was dressed in a bright yellow raincoat and had lights on my bike, I was able to flag the pickup to go around us.

I parked my bike on the sidewalk, slid off my backpack and took out my fleece sweater to wrap up the poor cat, which had started making its pitiful self to my side, meowing again for help and in pain.

I quickly fished my cell phone out of my backpack and called Connie for assistance as to what to do and where to take this cat. I was starting to feel frantic. I had no idea where this cat had previously lived in the neighborhood, or how long it had been shivering in the rain. As I spoke to Connie, it put its paw on my foot. I could feel it’s shivering through my shoe like it was a cell phone vibrating with a call. This poor thing was shivering uncontrollably. I carefully wrapped it up in my fleece to warm and immobilize it, and walked it a couple of blocks to sit on a bench across from Dark Horse Comics to wait for Connie.

After a 30 minute wait, the cats shivering had been reduced, it’s face started to dry and it periodically looked at me and rubbed it’s face against my hand in appreciation. Connie, the calvery, had arrived. She quickly opened the trunk for my bike and brought out a cat carrier, opened the top of the carrier so we could keep the cat wrapped up. We then put the carrier in the car, I loaded up my bike into the trunk and we started making out way to an emergency vet near Mall 205. At this point, having become soaked in my own sweat during my ride, I started getting cold and shivering.

As we arrived at the vet, the cat had been rubbing its face against my fingers through the carrier door. This thing had been domesticated, I was certain of it. Unfortunately, it didn’t have a collar with a license tag. We had no way to quickly contact it’s owner.

The vet tech took a look at our injured stray and had confirmed out suspicions. Broken pelvis and broken leg. This thing was going probably going to need surgery. Unfortunately, Connie nor I were financially capable of paying for this care. As it was brought in as a stray, it was euthanized at no cost to us. I cried as I signed the paperwork releasing any responsibility of the cat, I was signing its death orders.

Connie got me some dinner and a hot chocolate and took me back home to get some warm clothes. I had a really difficult time getting to sleep that night. I really wish I could have contacted it’s owner or at least made sure it lived.

Although I may only have known you for 2 short hours…

My heart goes out to you, Anonymous Feline: ???? to January 9, 2006.

Bicycling Thoughts – Winter Commute

People are still riding bikes

Portland and surrounding area has been receiving a lot of rain all winter. There are areas all along the coast that are flooded, the Willamette River was quite high and any non-paved surface is very mushy.

Back in December, we did have a day and a half of ice and a bit of snow, mostly ice. Despite this inclimate weather, people were still riding bikes. Not the casual riders, but the people that rely on their bikes as their sole transportation. Hardcore cyclists, commuters, homeless with a trailer filled with all their possessions.

We’re still getting quite a bit of rain in the city, but for some reason…people are still riding bikes. Raincoats, waterproof panniers, headlights, flashing tailights and reflective tape are quite the norm for these cyclists.

Although the number of commuters seems to have decreased, there are still 4 bikes in the Port of Portland bike locker-room. I salute these hardcore riders.

Today was the first time in almost 2 months that I finally rode the entire distance from home to work in this wintery 40ºF rain. Over the last 2 months I’ve had to fight a nasty head cold, sore throat, and a dizzying sinus infection that kept me from doing anything that involved moving more than a slow walk. After sleeping some extra hours and a protocol of antibiotics from my doctor, I am fit to ride again.

As I’m getting ready to head home, I see that it’s still raining quite a bit. Should be nice to see how the new fenders on my mountain bike work to keep the mud off of my face and back.

It’s nice to be back in the soggy saddle again.

-Tomas “It’s Not Cold!” Quinones

Black Friday: Report

Black Friday Report

This is probably the first “Black Friday” that I’ve willingly and purposely drove to Best Buy, CompUSA and Walmart, all in the same day.

In contrast to driving around the Detroit Metropolitan Way, I hit the strip of 82nd Avenue of SE Portlandia in rather quick time.

7am, I called Derek for some recon as to what was on sale.

8am, Dropped off Connie at Joanne Fabrics while I skipped over to Jack in the Box for some breakfast burritos.

8:15am, Connie calls me to say that she’s going to be waiting in line to get her fabric cut for quite some time and that I should just head over to Best Buy ASAP.

8:35am, Fairy-tale parking at the nearest Best Buy right in front of the entrance.

9:30am, After wondering the store for a while, I bought “Destroy All Humans” for $20, and a PNY 1GB Flash Drive for $40 but it also has a $20 mail-in rebate. Text message from Connie, “Still waiting in line…”

9:45am, Sorely disappointed at the utter lack of any decent sales that didn’t involve a huge rebate from AOL’s desperate attempts to get more subscribers. “Sure, we’re losing money on EVERY subscriber, but we’ll make it up in volume!”

10:15am, Decided not to hit Wal-mart but instead to puruse the local Gamestop. Metal Gear Solid 3 for $10. Woo! Text message from Connie: “Still waiting…ugh…”

11:00am, Returned to Joanne Fabrics to check on Connie’s progress and see how she’s feeling since she didn’t have anything to eat yet. I brought her the breakfast burrito just as she was about to have her fabric cut to size. After scarfing down her very late breakfast, we proceeded to wait in yet another line just to pay for her items.

11:15am, Decided to head to Walmart to look for any TV’s on sale.

11:50am, arrived at the Vancouver, Washington Walmart to a some-what busy parking lot but no more than a regular Saturday.

I then found out we had missed out on some good deals on a VERY cheap laptop that made the news of people having fist-fights over them, as well as some cheap DVDs that were just sold out. I then got a decent little 20” Flat-screen TV for my bedroom that has a nice picture quality for my needs.

Overall, I was AMAZED at the lack of frustrations I normally feel when driving around these stores on the blackest Friday of the year, but happy with the few items I had managed to snag at very good prices.

Hurrah!

-Tomas

I am a KILLING MACHINE, one view

According to some people , I’m a thoroughly trained killing machine because I have the played some video games and have become highly proficient in all manner of weapons and crime. Below is a list of all the games I’ve played that have trained my killing and other non-violent skills.

Skill: MASTER-SNIPER and SUPER-SOLDIER
Halo 1 & 2
Max Payne
L.A. Crime
Doom 1, 2, 3
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter
Starseige: Tribes
Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando
SOCOM
Jedi Knight 2
America’s Army
Halflife 1, 2
Counter-Strike
Quake 1, 2, 3
Rainbow Six 3
Robotron 2084 (arcade)
Silent-Scope: Dark Silhoette
House of the Dead 1, 2
Point Blank 1, 2, 3
Unreal Tournament 2004
Operation: Wolf
Heavy Barrel

Skill: ESPIONAGE, NINJA, SPY
Splinter Cell
Metal Gear Solid 2
Shinobi
Ninja Gaiden
Syphon Filter

Skill: MASTER SWORDSMAN
Rune
Legend of Zelda (NES, N64)
Death Sword (C64)
Gauntlet
Mark of the Kri

Skill: EXPERT DRIVER
Gran Turismo
Top Gear
WipeOut XL
RC Pro Am
Pole Position

Skill: TACTICS & WARFARE
Full Spectrum Warrior
Command & Conquer
Red Alert
Warcraft 1, 2 & 3
Total Annihilation
Dark Reign
WarHammer 40,000: Dawn of War
Syndicate Wars
Chessmaster 9,000
WarZone 2100
StarCraft

Skill: FIGHTER PILOT
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004
Falcon 2.0
Ace Combat
Descent: Freespace
Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando
Time Pilot
Afterburner
Wing Commander 2
PlanetSide

Skill: MARTIAL ARTIST
Street Fighter 2: Turbo Edition
Dead or Alive
Tekken
Streets of Rage
Bad Dudes

Excluding video games the following books alone have increased other skills:
Zero-G combat: Ender’s Game,
Computer Hacking: Neuromancer,
Witchcraft: Harry Potter,
Anti-Terrorist Tactics: RainBow Six, Tom Clancy

Skill: MUSICAL PRODIGY
Guitar Freaks
BeatMania
Parrapa the Rapper

Skill: BARTENDER
Tapper

My point? Reading or playing games concerning skills that take very specific motor skills just isn’t possible without real-world training and direction.

BK Says “Hello”

This is my first flash animation to incorporate sound and lip-syncing.

This project took me about 6 hours or so with some trial and error as well as some research into shapes that our mouths make when saying certain sounds.

Using the knowledge I’ve gained from this experiment, I can make more animations in less time.

Make sure your speakers are turned on. BK says “Hello”

Feedback on this would be appreciated.

Enjoy!

-Tomas

Serenity Movie

I saw ‘Serenity’ with Matt this past Saturday. Wow. Go see it now!

Even Orson Scott Card, author of the Ender’s Game series, loved the movie.

And I’ll tell you this right now: If Ender’s Game can’t be this kind of movie, and this good a movie, then I want it never to be made.

I’d rather just watch Serenity again.

I think that speaks volumes. His Words

Enjoy!

Animation Fun

Behold, my first experiment with Flash. A bouncing Ballistic Kitty.

I know it’s not much, but it’s a start.

In fact, I mean to do a lot more with my good friend BK and Macromedia Flash. I’m working on becoming a “Certified Flash Designer” and eventually a “Certified Flash Developer”. But first things first…need to do more animation!