Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tomorrow - The Ride!!!

The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley.--Robert Burns from his poem, "To a Mouse".

This quote is often popularly misquoted as: ‘The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray’, or ‘The best laid plans of mice and men go oft astray’.

In any case, it is SO true especially in the past few months!!

I will be starting my 3 day, 250 mile bike ride tomorrow – and the last time my butt was on the seat of my bike; it was my last (and only) training ride on the 26th of July – oh some 8 weeks ago…

Am I worried? Not really, but I am certainly going to be apprehensive tomorrow morning – especially as we head into the murderous hill that everyone who has ridden this route previously has talked about. Shigata ga nai – can’t be helped now.

In the past eight weeks Life has been going full tilt boogie from work to school to home and it will continue on after I return from my ride on this Sunday the 26th.

On Monday the 27th, we close on the sale of our home at 1 Prospect and then after a couple of homeless days at the Marriott; on the 30th of October, we are closing on the purchase of our new home at 102 DeSilvio. The very next day is the annual Hamaty fishing trip and so it goes…

I spent this morning at work, tying up loose ends (as if they will ever get tied up LOL) and now I am drying some clothes, getting the last bit of my homework done and submitted before I head off to Port Jervis, NY for the beginning of my biking adventure.

I am taking a rental car up (cheaper and faster than an NJT ticket) and I have my bike, tire pump, assorted ride gear - my 'anatomically correct' gel seat, my chamois butt'r, water bottle, helmet, blah,blah, blah... 

The rental car has no GPS or XM radio (I know!! right?!) so I have my printed directions and with my iPad and iPhone GPS - it supposed to be about 2 hours and 51 minutes from home to Port Jervis, NY.

I will be updating my facebook status through the ride (if I am able!!) and so until my next status update – à bientôt!!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

First 30 Mile Ride - OMFG!!

Well, I survived my first ‘real’ ride; but it wasn’t all pretty!!

I met up with Rob the training ride coordinator and another rider Patty. Patty is a self-described “stay-at-home mom with three kids” and she (like me) decided one day to start riding and went into a store and bought a bike. Of course, she is an experienced rider these days and her promise to “show us guys how to ride” certainly rang true for me – OMG!!! She was amazing, and her level of endurance and stamina certainly put mine to shame.

I had never been up in the Andover, NJ area and it really is a beautiful part of the garden state for sure. We met at the Aeroflex Andover Airport/Lake Aeroflex boat launch at 265 Limecrest in Andover, NJ and started off the ride well enough at a brisk but manageable pace.

Then a few miles into the ride, we hit the first of a few hills – and they were hills, nothing major – and that is where the men were separated from the boys. Well, in my case, where I was separated from seasoned, conditioned, experienced riders!! I was huffing a bit but was feeling ok and then we hit a major hill where my stubborn streak and the hill did battle.

Unfortunately for me, the hill won and shortly after the steep bit of exertion; the combination of the heat, the effort, my lack of conditioning and experience all culminated in one really ugly bout of a vasovagal response.

For those of you who don’t know what a vasovagal response is; it is a combination of sensations and responses such as lightheadedness, nausea, sweating, ringing in the ears, uncomfortable feeling in the heart, weakness and visual disturbances such as lights seeming too bright, black spots, fuzzy or tunnel vision – in short it feels like your body is short-circuiting and you’re going to throw up, soil yourself and pass out all at the same time – accompanied by an instantly appearing layer of sweat all over your body and feeling like you are about 150 degrees inside and out…not a pleasant experience and one of the few times in my life where I pray for a fast, quick end to my misery.

When I felt the wave of nausea coming on, I got off my bike and found Rob and Patty instantly at my side. We stopped and talked a bit – they more assessing my condition than anything – and as the wave ebbed and flowed; I felt slightly better and got back on my bike. We rode a short bit and then pulled off into a parking lot to rest for a couple minutes and then the wave of nausea hit and the full vasovagal response washed over me.
I think I can count on one hand the number of times I have had the pleasure of experiencing this phenomenon and every episode was always exercise induced and extremely unpleasant. However, even through the fog of nausea and all the other stuff going on; I knew that it would pass as long as I could lie down for about 5 minutes or so… Hell for me, would be to be trapped in that state for eternity…!!!

I had some of my HEED sports drink ( , rested about 10 minutes and I felt pretty normal, so off we went and the rest of the ride went fine.

It really was a beautiful day and I loved riding through the countryside, really awesome!

I did get some great tips from both Rob and Patty on riding form and training – and I also learned the importance of clip-in pedals.

They both were surprised that I made it, I think – and through it all, they were very encouraging and supportive. I am happy that I was able to go the distance and finish the training ride.

Thanks Patty!! Thanks Rob!!

The next training ride is after new rider orientation in Asbury Park on August 8th so I have to ride, ride, ride until then!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

First Training Day - Boston Bike Tour

 Today was DAY ONE of my bike training LOL.  I rode a bike from one end of Boston to the other for about 2.5 – 3.0 hours.  It was great fun, and I had no problems with the flats, hills, streets – it was awesome!!
I stopped at Starbucks for a pre-ride breakfast of oatmeal filled with nuts, dried fruit and brown sugar washed down with a Vivanno strawberry, banana and whey protein smoothie.  It fueled me through the 3 hours perfectly.

I found Urban Adventours ( online and signed up for their “City View Bicycle Tour” which took us through Boston from the Italian North End and historic Beacon Hill, up to Fenway Park, heart of Red Sox Nation, and through modern and dynamic Back Bay.   
Our great tour guide was none other than the Adventours’ Chief Wheel Officer, Andrew Prescott.

A great guide, informative, irreverent and funny and loaded with the sorts of Boston facts that only a native Bostonian might know – except that he is from Morristown, NJ.    Also, lest you think a bike tour guide is most likely a some kind of bikerhead slacker, Andrew was football captain in high school, then he went on to Wesleyan University earning a Psychology/Sociology degree, and then was a recruiter, bartender, world traveler, accountant, marketing manager for Anheuser-Busch, to BioBus ( driving fool, and he claims to have tried it all.; so I could relate very well LOL!
A few of the unknown (to me) facts about Boston on the tour were:

1.       Christopher Columbus Park:  Like Philly, they have a major Christopher Columbus statue and park even though the closest he got to Boston was Cuba (why, people why?! STOP the Columbus madness!!)

2.      The Battle of Bunker Hill:  The actual battle took place on June 17, 1775, mostly on and around Breed's Hill – not Bunker Hill at all - during the Siege of Boston early in the American Revolutionary War. The battle is named after the adjacent Bunker Hill, which was peripherally involved in the battle and was the original objective of both colonial and British troops, and is occasionally referred to as the "Battle of Breed's Hill."

3.      Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919:  We stopped at Copps Hill and looked over the area of the Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919 ( which killed a number of people and caused the equivalent of about $100 million in damages.  At 35 miles per hour, molasses isn’t so slow…

4.      Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride:  Paul Revere’s portion was only 15 minutes before he was captured and he had the shortest ride of all the riders involved; but he is the only one mentioned and immortalized in Longfellow’s famous poem. Another case of right place and time LOL. Longfellow took many liberties with the events of the evening, most especially giving sole credit to Revere for the collective achievements of the three riders (as well as the other riders whose names do not survive to history). Longfellow depicts the lantern signal in the Old North Church as meant for Revere and not from him, as was actually the case. Other inaccuracies include claiming that Revere rode triumphantly into Concord instead of Lexington, and a general lengthening of the time frame of the night's events. For a long time, though, historians of the American Revolution as well as textbook writers relied almost entirely on Longfellow's poem as historical evidence, creating substantial misconceptions in the minds of the American people that persist to today.

5.      The Green Dragon Tavern:  The majority of the Revolution was planned in a bar – as opposed to the famed Old South Meeting House. The Green Dragon Tavern was a public house used as a tavern and meeting place located on Union Street in Boston's North End.  Purchased in 1764 by the St. Andrews Lodge of Freemasons for its 1st floor meeting rooms, the basement tavern was used by several secret groups and became known by historians as the "Headquarters of the Revolution". The Sons of Liberty, Boston Committee of Correspondence and the North End Caucus each met there. The Boston Tea Party was planned there and Paul Revere was sent from there to Lexington on his famous ride. In January 1788, a meeting of the mechanics and artisans of Boston passed a series of resolutions urging the importance of adopting the Federal Constitution pending at the time before a convention of delegates from around Massachusetts. The building was demolished in 1854. (The current Green Dragon Tavern is located on 11 Marshall Street in Boston's North End. Its publicity states that it is the "headquarters of the revolution", though its relationship to the demolished original pub is not immediately apparent.)

6.      Benjamin Franklin’s Birthplace:  Finally, 17 Milk Street, the location of Ben Franklin’s birthplace has not one little historical placard or sign marking its location.  The ground floor of the building that stands in the place of the old Franklin home is a Sir Speedy Print shop with “Ben Franklin was born here” t-shirts in the window.  Interestingly, the "Sir Speedy" store named is apparently taken from one of Benjamin Franklin's nicknames.

There were lots more bits of Boston lore, architecture and famous spots in the tour and I thought it was a great way to get an overview of the city’s geography and history.  Amazingly enough, Bicycling Magazine has rated Boston as the WORST biking city three times – I found it to be a great city with plenty of bike lanes throughout the city, so go figure…
After my bike tour, I walked the 1.6 miles back to the Seaport Hotel and stopped off at an Irish Pub called The Whiskey Priest

I had a glass of cold creamy Guinness with:
·        Black and Tan Fried Calamari with Black Olive Aioli and Tangy Cocktail Sauce
·        The Irish Fries, crispy fries topped with bacon, sausage, green onions, Boursin and white cheddar cheeses
·        Murphy’s Chili, a beef and lamb chili with chipotle and Irish cheddar

A great way to spend the morning and a great lunch as well!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bike Drag

'Kayso...Picture This:

A store full of racks of silky, shimmery, slimming and eye catching, airy tops, padded slinky form fitting bottoms that hug and streamline every nook and cranny...matching shoes and accessories, head wear and designer sunglasses from every corner of Europe.

A guaranteed credit card workout shopping trip every time you step foot in the place and where is this place you ask?

Perhaps an upscale boutique patronized by Paris and the Olsen twins or an expensive playground for the likes of RuPaul or Priscilla, Queen of the Desert?

No, not quite - actually couldn't be further from that kind of wonderland, so wipe the drool off your lips and put your quivering AMEX Blue or Platinum whatever card away is just a typical cycling store full of cycling drag.  Yes - pure and simple - it is cycling drag, thousands of square feet of everything under one roof to look as authentic as Lance Armstrong at the start of Le Tour de France even if you have not a clue about how to ride a bike.

The Tour de France, incidentally, kicks off tomorrow at 4:00 PM Rotterdam time in case you are interested in seeing a professional drag race (^_^).

Anyhoo - I have been in this store about three times to date and I am still dazed and amazed at how much stuff there is to buy in this store - and I haven't a single clue what most of it is or what it does! 
Luckily, there is a lot of sales help stationed throughout the store.
Like I said, there are SO MANY accessories and such in cycling so I will just cover the basics that I felt were necessary for me to do this ride.  To be honest, the basic necessities for cycling are just you, a bike and a helmet to protect your noggin. You don't need fancy-schmancy biking gear to ride a bike. Of course, the gear is nice to have, but that can come later. Just get on a bike and go – unless you’re me.  I want a couple of the other bits too, so here is what I picked up prior to my first actual ride:

1.      Helmet.  Very important and I am not crazy about them, but it is the law so I got a Giro Indicator Sport in black.  A highly rated, decently priced all-around nice helmet.

2.      Bike shorts, padded.  Also very important from what the nice bike geek tells me – is a padded bike short.  It seems that without a good padded bike short to wick away moisture and pad ones nether bones and area cycling may not be a very pleasant pastime.  From the nicer, more helpful bike geek:  " seems that how well a bike short fits is determined by a person’s anatomy, their riding style and the type and set up of the bike saddle used. Just as there are no two individuals the same, neither are there two butts that perfectly fit the same chamois. Chamois is what they call the padded panel in the bike short.  What is comfortable for one person may not be for another and that said, bike geek suggested that I consider these key elements to determine whether a short will be comfortable or not...":
·  Number of panels. Cheaper "touring" shorts tend to have 2-4 panels whilst more expensive "sports" shorts will generally have between 4 and 8 panels. A greater number of panels are supposed to offer a better fit but with modern stretchy fabrics, the need for extra flexibility through additional panels is supposedly largely negated.
·  Fabric weight. Most biking shorts are made of a spandex material weighing between 6 and 8 ounces. The heavier the fabric, the greater the cost but lighter fabrics may be more comfortable.
·  Chamois design. A good chamois insert should be micro-bacterially treated and provide enough padding for comfort without feeling like the rider is wearing a diaper. Some inserts are an integral part of the short whilst others have seams of their own which may themselves cause chafing.
I tried on three different pairs of shorts in different styles and price range and settled upon the Pearl Izumi  Select, another medium range item.
A  padded gel bike seat is also recommended, but more on that topic in another post.

3.      Bike gloves – fingerless with gel and synthetic over real leather.  Simply, bike gloves absorb vibration, keep your fingers warm and a host of other benefits can be found here:

5.       I also wanted a bike jersey.  It supposedly helps keep you dry and regulate body temperature while riding and make you a bit more visible.  I think it makes you look great – so my main reason was for the look of it as opposed to other concerns.  Indeed, Ed suggested that I get the bright yellow jersey but it just was not a good color on me.  Being Japanese, the clash between the different shaded of yellow jersey and yellow Asian skin make for a sickly looking cyclist.  I settled for a much more attractive red, white and black trimmed jersey from Gore.  I liked it AND black and red were my high school colors - Go Lincoln High Links!!

6.        Finally, I needed to get some eye protection and shade so I picked up the best fitting (and best looking) sunglasses I could find.  The Oakley Flak Jacket in black with black iridium lenses.  They fit great and I didn’t even need the special Oakley ‘Asian Fit’ made for the flat planes of the Asian face…
So now with all my latest bike drag – I am FINALLY READY TO RIDE!!!  

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kickstands, bike racks, helmets and accoutrements galore...

I picked up my bike today and unlike the days of my youth where you bought a bike and then jumped on it and rode; I am finding that today things are slightly more complicated.

First of all, none of these bikes have a kickstand - and bike purists sniff and look down their noses at bikes (and bike owners) with a kickstand on their bikes.  It took me a minute to wrap my head around this because none of these bikes are self-standing nor do I have an innate ability to leave a bike so perfectly balanced that it doesn't fall over.

The 'real' reason most commonly given is that:  "...a kickstand just adds extra weight to the bike and its also dangerous to ride with a kickstand because they can get knocked down over bumps and get loose and hurt you, and other than reasons like weight and the risk of having a faulty kick stand, some bikes just don't have the space to accommodate for a kick stand due to their super short chainstay. The wheels on these bikes will be so close to the seat tube that it will be quite hard to get a kick stand in between cause an issue for the tires..."

Ok, I guess I can buy that but it does seem a bit silly NOT to have a kickstand.  However, so as not to be THAT newbie cycling guy with the great bike and totally lame-o kickstand; I compromised and ordered myself a 'click-stand'  ( which is a compromise I can live with.

So - now I have a bike, a way to prop it up without looking like a total bike newbie and I also needed a way to transport the bike from the bike shop to my house.  Taking my new bike out of the bike shop parking lot onto Route 70 and then onto I-295 South for several exits and then home was not quite the maiden voyage I wanted to make - besides; I don't have enough of the required stuff now to ride the bike yet.

So I picked up a bike rack that would attach temporarily (and without harm to my car's body or paint) and allow me to mount the bike on the rack to transport it from place to place.  It is an ingenious little portable bike rack by Thule called the 961XT Speedway 2 Bike Trunk Rack.  It was easy to set up and attach/detach to my trunk and it made it a snap to transport my bike home from the bike shop.

So - I have my bike, a kickstand on the way in the mail and a bike rack - and yes, even a bike lock.

However, I still can't really ride my bike because I have to get the rest of the required gear to get up and moving on my two new wheels.  Some of the items on my shopping list for tomorrow morning are:

padded bike shorts
bike jersey
bike shoes
gel-seat upgrade (a highly recommended option)
water bottle and holder
basic cyclist tool kit
bicycle computer (preferably with GPS)
ReuniteIt Bicycle Security by Lojack (

Amazing isn't it?  A simple, innocent childhood past time is now a major production - and major outlay of cash.

However, if this was JUST about raising the money for the charitable organization(s); it would have been much cheaper and easier to give them hard cold cash - but isn't that always the case?


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The 2010 NJ Ride Against AIDS - September 24 - 26, 2010

I have just registered for the 2010 NJ Ride Against AIDS bike ride which is a three-day bicycling event towards the end of September 2010 that benefits New Jersey AIDS charities.

The ride begins at High Point State Park in beautiful northwest New Jersey and concludes in the charming, Victorian town of Cape May at the southernmost point of the state. The length of the ride is approximately 250 miles. 100% of pledge donations raised by riders and crew go directly to the charities and each rider must raise a minimum of $1500.00 to ride.

The NJ Ride Against AIDS website is at:

Promo Video:

I have been thinking for some time about how to incorporate some more exercise into my life - while I truly love my current job, it doesn't give me the same level of activity that running after bad guys in West Philly did in my years as a cop. 

In the past 10 years since I have hung up my badge and cuffs, I had gone through some intermittent back issues and managed to gain about 40 pounds or so - from 185 to 225 at my heaviest.  Having never had all that extra weight in my life; I was uncomfortable and unhappy in my own skin - so I decided at New Year's that it was time for all the extra weight to come off - and stay off.  I wasn't sure how I was going to do it and it certainly seemed impossible but when I set my mind to doing something, I rarely get sidetracked until I achieve my goal.

On February 28, 2010, I started Weight Watchers for Men via the website  I was about 205 pounds. I just used their point tracker application via the web and on my iPhone to monitor my food intake and I basically ate what I wanted as long as it was within my allotted points. 

The program is simple, I was given 33 daily points and an additional 35 weekly points to use based on my height, weight age and gender and I found that once I adjusted to the WW way of thinking and eating; I lost about 1.5 pounds a week on average.

Today is June 29, 2010 - pretty much 4 months to the day that I started the WW program and I am happily at 190 pounds.  I have lost 15 pounds in 4 months so, about 4 pounds a month.  I have 5 more pounds to go to get to my goal weight and so I think with some exercise worked into my life; the goal is within reach.

I have done my research on the bike I want (Trek FX 7.3  and plan to get it this Friday, and once that is done; I just need to get up to speed on the maintenance and care and then start my training for the bike ride.

I am psyched!!  (^_^)