Friday, December 30, 2011

Winter Training

Well, I'm up to 60 trainer miles this winter.  Not too bad, considering I sprained my ankle not too long ago.  Today was 14 miles at 19.5 mph on the rollers.  Paired with a workout of 60 push-ups, 100 abdominal reps (three types), and 18 pull-ups, I think I just about burned off last night's dessert.

To that end, I've been pretty bad this holiday, with the eating.  Lots of chocolate.  Need to get back on the wagon and set that stuff aside.  And back on the trainer to burn what I ate off.

Three plus months left indoors.  By mid-April I want to be back outside logging miles.

All for now,


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pending Ears

If you were to spend time in my company, either conversing with me or observing me in conversation, you would soon notice that my hearing isn't great.  I often ask someone to repeat him/herself, because I've missed a word or phrase.  I've become reasonably adept at filling the gaps where a spoken word has eluded me, but that's a guessing game and I don't always guess correctly -- not by a long shot.

It's long since time to do something about that, so in January, I'm getting hearing aids.  I've avoided this mostly because of a perceived stigma (perceived by me, which may say more about my own biases than anyone else's), but things have reached a point where I believe not hearing well is hurting me socially and professionally more than any perceived handicap might. So I'm biting the bullet and will let perceptions fall where they may.

I'll have more to say about them when they arrive, and even more once I've had some experience with them in the real world.  But the truth is I'm kind of excited to get them at this point.  Almost hungry for them, even.  I've sampled what the world can be like with full hearing (briefly, in the office of an audiologist who I think was screwing with me perhaps more than just a little), and I was pretty close to overwhelmed by what I heard.  Heard!  In all seriousness, I was a little choked up.

I'm also not going to try to hide them.  They'll be metallic titanium gray, not putty-colored, and they'll be no more hidden than any other piece of enabling technology in my life, whether my glasses or my Jawbone or my iPhone.  And if they work as well for me as I experienced in that office, I'll talk them up to anyone who'll listen.  Already, two of my friends (both women), have acknowledged that they should do the same thing, and there are doubtless countless others in my world who have some sort of hearing loss.

I don't have the specs handy, but the Siemens units I'm getting are technical powerhouses, and are very, very cool.  The electronics package is housed in little lozenge shapes that will fit up behind the tops of my ears, with a little clear tube that runs down into my ears to a speaker and receiver placed into my ear canal.

They're programmable, and will be configured to offset my specific hearing loss (per ear), which looks like an inverted bell curve (I can hear just fine at the upper and lower ranges of human hearing, but not as well in the middle).  They're networked with each other, and will compare inputs and make sure they're amplifying in such a way as to not confuse the source of sound for me.  They'll also allow me to stream music from my iPhone via a Bluetooth adapter (!), as well as to use them as a handsfree setup.  They're rechargeable via a little USB-powered case that will also dry them out electronically while they charge.  No fumbling with batteries, once a week.  I've no idea whether I'll be able to use them when I ride, but I use my eyes (with a mirror on my glasses lens) much more than my ears on the bike, anyway (wind noise blots out a lot of what I might want to listen to anyway).

We'll see how they work in practice in the real world, and I'll share more when I have more to share.  I'm expecting them to be life-changing.  And I'm hoping not to be disappointed.

All for now,


Picking Up

It's only natural that as we are consumed with one set of things in the course of our lives, other things are set aside.  We are finite beings, with insufficient ability or capacity to address everything we might wish to, and our priorities are often defined for us by the circumstances surrounding us at any given point in our lives.

We've all set aside hobbies or projects as our capacity to engage in them has changed.  We've set aside dreams and ideas and relationships.  And we've been set aside, as well.  At least that's all true of my own path.  Capacity is certainly not the only driver -- our interests and desires shift as we make our way.  We don't always want tomorrow what we wanted yesterday.

Lately, though, I've come to realize that it isn't always hard to pick up again something that was once set aside. I've been able to re-establish connections, rethink ideas and priorities, and reconsider the level of commitment I can make to one thing or another.  And it's been refreshing to realize that these need not be thought of as lost.  To realize how much I can influence my own perspective about them, and their role in my life.

All for now,


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Winter Projects

Well, that's the second unseasonably nice weekend that's passed without being able to get out on a bike.  It's not unusual to leave the bikes alone after Thanksgiving, of course, so there's no real regret mixed in with that statement, but it'd have been nice to log a few miles outside!

As it was, though, I managed to log a few trainer miles (rollers) today, for my first winter project -- staying somewhat trim and fit!  I did a little more adjusting and dialing-in of the Colnago in the process, and it's just a wee bit more ready for me now than it was two days ago, so that's good.  And I found the right place in the apartment, here, for the trainer -- in my bathroom.  Easy to mop up the floor, narrow enough that I won't kill myself or break anything, and the dog can't sneak up on my from behind and stick his nose or tail in a spinning wheel.  Plus the fan keeps it from getting stuffy.

I also managed to pick up a new winter project.  The family homestead in Connecticut was cleaned out on Saturday, in preparation for the buyer who will be taking it out of Ellsworth hands for the first time since the house was built, 223 years ago.  The house was about the same age as the constitution of the United States, and I understand it sat on a parcel of land not far from the original land grant to the family, dating back to the mid-1600's.  The farm was largely just a place for holidays for me, so this wasn't a personal milestone for me.  But it was certainly one for many of my relatives, and it was certainly a family milestone.

Anyway, while we were cleaning out the garage, I snagged my great aunt's old Puch 10-speed mixte.  My older sister has been casually looking for a bike out in Chicago, and this one would fit her just fine.  It's not a great bike, as far as components and materials go, but it's not half bad.  The tubeset is Tange Champion, and the only real lapse in the frameset is the matching set of stamped steel rear dropouts, complete with derailleur claw and bolt-on rear wheel.  But my sister is a causal cyclist, and this thing is only a few upgrades away from being a perfectly nice bike for her to use with her kids around the neighborhood.  Plus there's some history there.

It needs tires, a chain, new brake pads, tubes, new cables, a full repack of all bearings, and it'd work as intended.  It could stand an aluminum handlebar and seatpost, a better saddle, better grips, better derailleurs, better pedals, a cartridge bottom bracket and an alloy headset.  The Taiwanese clone of a Pletscher CS needs the struts to be shortened, as well, just as I did with the two Pletschers gracing my daughter's bikes.  Maybe a bit of polishing of the rack and kickstand, too.  It would be hard to spend less than $100 to get it rolling, and easy to spend $500 to make it fancy.  But I have lots of parts on-hand that would constitute upgrades, and I'm going to see what I can do with this puppy.  Alison hasn't yet told me whether she wants it, but if she does, I'll tear into it sometime over the winter.

First, though, I need to get Ava's Fuji apart and then back together in a configuration matching her desires.  I have a set of stem shifters to use for the time being, new cables and housings, as well as a drop bar to put on there.  But I need to find an appropriate stem, with very short reach,  or those drop bars will need a set of interruptor/cross levers thrown on as well.  Maybe we'll kick things off during our down time between Christmas and the new year.

Both projects are great examples of the durability of older steel bikes.  Neither is especially fancy or light, but both framesets are perfectly serviceable 20 or maybe even 30 years after they were made.  And they are both poised to help promote cycling within different parts of my family.  I love this kind of stuff!

All for now,