I just watched the 2015 RAGBRAI Route Announcement. I won’t be going this year (again), but it’s always nice to know where the ride will be.

The start town is an ‘oldie but goodie,’ Sioux City. Here’s the description from the RAGBRAI blog entry on the announcement:

SIOUX CITY: This is where it all began in 1973 with Des Moines Register columnist Donald Kaul and Register writer and copy editor John Karras. Of this year’s overnight towns, it’s the one that has been most frequently visited by RAGBRAI over the years — July’s visit to the Missouri River city will be the second in six years.

I haven’t been there (yet). I really do wish I could go this year…but I’ve other plans which I will describe in another post hopefully sooner than later.

The ending town is one I’ve visited, Davenport.

DAVENPORT: RAGBRAI concluded here in 2011, as well. This is where the ceremonial dipping of the front tire in the Mississippi began in 1973. The city has earned its own reputation for impressive outdoor endurance events through the annual Bix 7 race, combined with the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival.

The whole ride is going to be a nice distance, 462 miles with about 16,000 feet of climbing along the way.

RAGBRAI, I wish you the best in 2015!

As for me, no, I won’t be there – maybe next year and for sure I’ll be back sometime. But I’m going to be on another ride this year. It’s going to be a bit shorter, quite a bit, but still it’ll take place over seven days and it should be a lot of fun. As I said, more on that later.

Here’s a hint…

View from Washington Monument facing west

Yes, it’s DC, but what’s the ride?



Back on the Quickbeam…

If you’ve followed this blog this year you know that I ride a bicycle a lot and that I had a hip replacement back in April, six months ago this coming week. I was lucky enough to be able to keep riding up until about a week before my surgery. I couldn’t walk without a lot of pain, but I could and did ride a bicycle. Finally, the week before surgery, I was no longer able to swing my leg up over the bike and that was it for a while.

I was allowed back on a stationary bike right away after surgery, but was asked not to ride a regular bike. The problem wasn’t the movement involved in pedaling as much as the worry that in an accident I could really damage the new hip. At six weeks I was cleared to ride, though I was told no long distances.

I’ve not ridden over twenty-five miles since my surgery. That’s not a long distance.

The other concession I made during this time is that I’ve ridden my Hunqapillar with it’s wide gear range. Before surgery I was having trouble with my Quickbeam as it’s a very tall 66cm bike and because it’s a single-speed. While I was able to spin pretty well with a bad hip, I couldn’t get started from a stop on that bike, just too hard on the hip.

Well this past week, given that it’s almost my six month anniversary, I decided to pull it out and wow! Really. Just WOW! I’m having a great time riding on it with no problems at all. It’s a really sweet bike, my first Rivendell (Hunq is #2), and rides like a dream.

This image shows more or less what it looks like today (having going through a few incarnations), though the saddle is no longer the Brooks Cambium. I’m back to a regular leather Brooks B-17.

Rivendell Quickbeam BIcycle

RIvendell Quickbeam

I haven’t quite done more that 25 miles in a day, but I’m ready. Boy am I ready.




Coming up on six months…(Hip Replacement #19)

At the end of October it will have been six months since my hip replacement. Rather than cover all that time, which I’ve done, perhaps exhaustively, here on Statrix, I’ll just let you know where I stand (ouch) these days.

My hip is fine. Really. Oddly that’s what everyone asks and me, the wise guy, usually replies, “The hip is fine, it’s brand new. The rest of me is the problem.” And you know, that’s not too far from the truth. If only the rest of me were as spiffy and new as my hip. Wishful thinking.

So what’s the deal?

I can walk just fine now. In fact I proved it a few weeks ago when I walked about 85 miles during the week. I’m not doing that again, at least not unless I’m on vacation and hiking (something I haven’t really tried yet). But I am walking several miles a day at an increasing pace.

I’m losing weight because I’ve changed my diet and my exercise patterns. In the past, with the bad hip, I would bike, mostly in the afternoon and sit around the rest of the day because, frankly, it hurt too much to do anything else. Now that I have my freedom back, and I do mean that, I’m walking regularly, moving when i feel like it, and generally have stepped it up a notch or two. In fact I’ve headed back to our gym at work and am working on my upper body. I figure my legs are getting plenty right now. I don’t weigh myself regularly but I’m down about 25 lbs with plenty more to go.

Biking is more fun than ever. With a bit less weight to carry around I’m a lot lighter on my pedals. That doesn’t necessarily translate into speed, I still like a nice steady pace, but I’m more comfortable and hills are getting a lot easier. I can tell because I’m taking them in gears I couldn’t before.

My incision is completely healed and I could go swimming if I wanted. I just haven’t wanted to as yet. Though now that I’ve mention it, it does sound pretty good. I’ll have to look into that. Hmmm…

I’m just might impressed with my recovery. Of course I owe most of it to the great medical team including my PT guy, but I’ll cough up that I had at least something to do with it – I cooperated.

That’s it for now…time for a walk.



Too much competition…

There is such a thing as too much walking, at least for me. I’ve been using the Garmin Vivofit for over a month now and have been learning a lot about my body, my energy, my ability and even, yes, my competitiveness.

During the last four weeks I participated in the Garmin Connect challenge for walking which paired me each week with eight other users. During the first two weeks I was in the 55K Challenge based on 55,000 or more steps, then the 90K Challenge, and finally, last week, the 100K Challenge. I came in first in all three. The last one was too much. 

Garmin Challenge


As you can see I managed to walk 180,000+ steps. At a stride of 2.5 feet that works out to about 85 miles. 85 miles!

Okay, so I’m not going to be walking around the island in short order, but still 85 miles is a chunk of change.

Here’s the problem…it just took too much time. I didn’t have any real problems with the walking itself, though I have to admit that after about 2 miles it does become a bit troublesome in my right knee, though not enough to keep me from continuing at the same pace.

No, the problem is that pretty much all my time between things was eaten up by walking. For instance on Monday I walked home after work, dropped my stuff and changed clothes, then had to leave almost immediately to walk to a volunteer gig. On my moped I could have hung out another hour and fifteen minutes, on my bike I’d have had at least an hour. 

I like a little down time.

What about the positives? Well I got to see parts of the city I wouldn’t normally see, not even on my bicycle. I also felt pretty good about myself, after all, 85 miles in a week on a new hip shows I’ve recovered pretty well. Further, even though walking isn’t hugely calorie burning, it still does an excellent job and I could eat a bit more than otherwise.

And finally, the real downside was my reaction to competition. I didn’t realize how competitive I can be. Basically I tried to walk enough to win before the end of the week. I wanted the other folks to give up after a few days. It seemed, at least with the limited feedback available, that they did. Mostly I’d be just a few steps ahead till around Thursday or Friday and then the other participants would pull back, perhaps sense I was simply a bit obsessive. A bit?

In any case, after four weeks of wins I pulled out this week and decided I didn’t want to participate at that level any more. Instead of 25,000 steps a day I’m back down to about 14,000. That’s a reasonable investment in time. In addition I can bicycle again. Yeah!

On the whole it was a good experience, one I’ll probably repeat next year for a month, just to see what’s what, but something I can live without for now.



More on walking…

I came across this today while taking a break (and just before I took a walk). It’s from the New Yorker magazine and while I didn’t see extensive citations it does make sense. You can read the whole article on the New Yorker site.

The way we move our bodies further changes the nature of our thoughts, and vice versa. Psychologists who specialize in exercise music have quantified what many of us already know: listening to songs with high tempos motivates us to run faster, and the swifter we move, the quicker we prefer our music. Likewise, when drivers hear loud, fast music, they unconsciously step a bit harder on the gas pedal. Walking at our own pace creates an unadulterated feedback loop between the rhythm of our bodies and our mental state that we cannot experience as easily when we’re jogging at the gym, steering a car, biking, or during any other kind of locomotion. When we stroll, the pace of our feet naturally vacillates with our moods and the cadence of our inner speech; at the same time, we can actively change the pace of our thoughts by deliberately walking more briskly or by slowing down.

The article talks about the writers Joyce and Woolf and while I doubt I’ll be writing any major fiction anytime soon, I do feel pretty good about my neighborhood walks.