Monday, March 26, 2007

Hello again everyone. I'm back with another gripping update about my latest challenge. My biweekly (or is it semi-monthly) update on my training and fundraising. I'm back for another season of fighting cancer while riding of miles on my bike. I'm raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society in honor of my late mother-in-law, my friend Stacy, who both battled Leukemia. If you'd like to support my cause, visit my fundraising site at

Ever so slowly forward
If you've been following this year's update you'll know that I pledged to ride 100 miles for every 100 dollars raised. I've ridden 100 miles each of the last two weekends. That's the good news. You've donated over $1600. That's great news. I've picked up my training pace so I should be able to match the fundraising. Sure I'm 980 miles in debt, but my average continues to increase. Now, of course, you could really put me in my place and make a donation just to make me work harder.

Yelling at cyclists
I've noticed an interesting phenomena this season. For some reason people in cars like to yell at people on bikes. I'm not going to go on another rant about inconsiderate drivers and their vulgar epithets. I could fill pages about the various rude remarks hurled in my direction. I was riding on Saturday and some knucklehead in a pick-up truck yelled an unintelligible remark at us. I asked a teammate what the guy said, he said the guy yelled "I'm a fool". Now I don't think that's exactly what he yelled, but it made me think that whenever someone yells something derogatory at us, we can just think they're advertising how ignorant they are. That yelling happens everytime I go riding. It's the non-derogatory comments that are more interesting. If I'm wearing a jersey with the logo of my favorite team, I always get several supportive shouts. The puzzling ones are those that ask questions from their moving cars. Picture yourself in this situation - a car comes up on you, your focus is on not being hit, as the car passes you hear something, it takes you a second to process what you heard and actually interpret it, then by the time you realize it's a question you're only response is an unintelligible grunt. I personally fret over the fact that they think I must be an idiot. From their perspective they asked a question and all this cyclist could do was manage a grunt. Real smooth.

Usually they're asking if they're on the right road, which way is such and such. If you feel compelled to yell at a cyclist, because obviously so many do, you should yell something that will really make them think. I think it would be amusing if you yelled, "Hey, what's the capital of Montana?"

On Bike Seats
I mentioned last time how you had to have no shame when it comes to wearing bike shorts. To elaborate on the whole bike short phenomenon, there is a good reason to wear bike shorts. Bike shorts are made to protect you from your bike seat. They put padding in the shorts because there isn't any padding on the seat. When most people look at a road bike they think that seat looks uncomfortable. You know what? They're right. Most bike seats are uncomfortable and they get even more uncomfortable after a long day. I believe there's collusion between the bicycle seat makers and the short makers so they don't make one aspect of bike too comfortable. There's even a product called chamois butter that is designed to protect you from your shorts which protect you from your bike seat.

So this product is a cream, with the consistency of soft butter no less, that you rub on the padding of your bike shorts. That would be the inside of your bike shorts. There's one manufacturer that calls its product Chamois Butt'r. I guess that's their way of making sure the chamois butter goes where it's intended to go, i.e. your butt. Do they really think people will put this on toast? Anyway, if you really want to give yourself a treat, and I mean that in the most sarcastic way, you should take some cold sour cream (cold butter won't work since it hardens) rub it in your underwear, then put them on. Do that, and you'll pretty much replicate the experience a cyclist goes through when they put their bike shorts on. At the risk of stating the obvious, you will not like it. Makes you want go out and ride.

That's all for this update. Check out the blog. Next time I'll have some pictures up there so you can see some of the strange discoveries we find on our rides. And no, I'm not going to post pictures of flattened roadkill. Even I have some sense of good taste.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Welcome back to My Latest Challenge 2.0. Things have been progressing very well. I've added a few new people to my mailing list, so if you're seeing this for the first time, check out the rest of the blog at There you will learn that I am, once again, embarking on an unwise challenge in an effort to raise money to fight Leukemia and Lymphoma. And if you feel inclined to make a donation to support my effort, go to my fundraising site at

This May Be Harder than it Looks
I made the bold claim that I would ride 100 miles for every $100 raised. So far I am woefully behind. I have trained 420 miles and I have raised $1,127. I expected to gain some ground, but I think there's a lot of people that want to see me put in the hundreds of miles. That's okay, I'm still confident I'll easily match the donations. That is unless, some overly generous person steps up.

I think there should be a multiplier for particularly grueling rides. Our sadistic coaches took us on a ride on March 3rd that was particularly challenging. Apparently they've discovered roads that don't show up on most maps. There was a particular road, called Morrison Canyon, that is not wider than one car, is really steep, and to top it off just when you think you've reached the top. It actually gets steeper. At the very top of this hill is an area that looks like a scene from the Hills Have Eyes. There were a lot of strange antenna arrays and many keep out signs. Thankfully I made it, eventhough I narrowly missed ending up as a hood ornament for a car that was coming up the road too quickly.

So What is the Hardest Thing about Riding a Bike?
I get a lot of questions about how it feels to sit on bike seat all day, or how my back holds up to climbing hills. The question on everybody's mind but rarely asked is, "How are you able to walk around in bike shorts?"

Let's face it, bike clothes are one step above Speedos when it comes to sporting attire. Since the rider isn't wearing anything under his or her bike shorts, it's equivalent to walking around in fancy underwear. And of course, just like bathing suits, some people look better than others. I fall into the others.

The worst part about wearing bike clothes is that oftentimes, you find that you're in places where everyone else is dressed in normal clothes. Unlike the Speedo folks who generally are going to be around a pool, I've had to endure walking through the office, that's right - my place of work, in my bike clothes. I've heard every kind of comment - from whistles, to "you've got a lot of guts" and one person asked if I was going swimming. I have no idea what they were thinking. I've also gotten a lot of comments when I was out riding. I can always count of some suburban mouth-breather to tell me from his truck window how gay I look. I even had one woman yell, "Hey fella, you've got nothing to be proud of." Sheesh... she doesn't think I won't remember when mother's day comes around.

Here's the trick to wearing bike clothes, you have to just not care. The key is to develop a high tolerance for embarassment. Fortunately I have had many opportunities to embarass myself and have succeeded in building a high tolerance. One memorably embarrassing moment occurred when I was in college. I saw a young lady friend of mine sitting on the lawn by the Campanile. Never missing an opportunity, I decided to sit down next to her and have a pleasant chat. At this point, I should mention that there are a lot of dogs on the Berkeley campus. People thought it was trendy to bring a dog to school and let it run around while the dog's owner attended class. Along with dogs come dog droppings, or as my kids refer to them, dog bombs. So as I sat down, I made the sudden and unpleasant discovery, that something was simply not right. Of course, you're thinking, he sat down on a dog bomb. Well not exactly, as I sat down on the grass I placed my hand down squarely into a fresh dog bomb. All chances of impressing this young lady evaporated like water on a hot pan. I had to make my way into one of the buildings, find a washroom and hope I didn't see anyone or have to touch anything. When I returned, the young lady was still there...laughing of course. Nearby there was freshly imprinted hand sculpture, not unlike the ones that kids do for their moms on mother's day (hey...oh...nevermind), except plaster of Paris it was plaster of Fido.

Now every time I feel embarrassed about wearing bike clothes, I think of that warm spring day, and tell myself, at least I don't have dog doo on my hand.

That's it for this week. More hills and more miles in the weeks ahead. Hopefully the rain is gone for a while.