Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Record your rides

I've been using Mapmytracks.com to record my cycling to and from work for the past year now. And if I were to offer any advice to aspiring cyclists who wish they could ride more, it would be to get a gps and record all of you rides. I found gps to be the best motivational tool available. Mapmytracks.com has multiple ways of analyzing your ride and comparing it to other similar rides in the past. You can figure out where you have gained speed and where you need to work on your riding.

The program can be combined with more serious training tools, which I do not use. However, it is possible to measure cadence and heart rate, and sync this data to your gps data to get a complete picture of your ride and the amount of exertion you are putting into your workout.

At any rate, today is the end of my first year recording my rides. My total mileage on my bike came out to 5059 miles. Not bad for a year of commuting to work on my bicycle. Assuming I drove those miles in our Prius, which gets 45mpg, and $3.50/gallon of gas that's 112 gallons of gas saved, and $433. Nice.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Five Thousand Miles

On June 21st, 2010 I started recording my daily rides to work at mapmytracks.com. Today, June 17th, 2011 I approach one year of recording my rides on my GPS.
 Tomorrow I will ride in a charity event that will take me 62 miles if all goes as planned. That will put me over 5000 miles for the year on my bikes, Ralph and No-name. Something about that nice round number feels good. But what really impresses me about the distance is when I map it using GPS visualizer, I realize all the places I could have made it to if there were a direct bike route between us.

Places such as Timboktu, Mali. I could have traveled to Santiago, Chile. Most of Siberia is covered by my range. Granted most of my travels were to and from work, but imagining all the places that a year of part-time biking could deliver me is pretty impressive when you consider how massive the earth is.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Amharic and Riding

In the past couple of days all of my blog traffic seems to be coming from wife's blog set up to discuss our ongoing adoption from Ethiopia.
All of my traffic!

First rule of any type of presentation: Know your audience. I figure since you're coming here from Agnostic Adoption maybe I should post something relevant. Of course I have to maintain some order here on my blog, which is about cycling in the Triangle area of North Carolina. So this post is my attempt to speak both about cycling and international adoption.

As you know, if you're arriving from Kyra's blog, we are learning Amharic this summer. Learning any language is a huge undertaking. Learning a language that is in an entirely different family from your first language is even harder. Amharic has several things going for it that make it very difficult. It has its own alphabet, Amharic Fidel (see below), that has no connection to the english alphabet. There are several sounds (The ejectives) that don't occur in English or any European language for that matter. Ejectives are harsh version of some good ol' consonants. Imagine a very hard k, t, or ch. Verb conjugation appears to involve modifying the beginning middle and sometimes end of the verb stem.

Amharic Fidel

Taken together, it looks like Kyra and I have bitten of quite a large bit to chew.

In comes the bike part of this post.

I learned in my high school theater experience, the best way to learn lines is to keep your body in motion while you do it. There is something about kinetic activity that helps my brain work. So I have been using my daily bike commute, that's two hours each day, to work on my Amharic.

I can't read while I ride my bike, I have to concentrate on the road and the traffic around me. However, if I go out with a plan in mind, e.g. recite my body part vocabulary, or practice those sounds that I've never made before, I can make my hour long bike ride a productive learning experience.

I look like a crazy person!

The guy on the bike repeating the sound for the letter K. I've spent several bike rides working on my ejectives, and it has paid off. I'm getting close to being able to reproduce the sounds and put them in words. Getting them into words turns out is the hardest part, so my new exercise is repeating words with multiple ejectives.

Some of my favorites:
Leaf- 'q'tel (That's an ejective k and t right in a row)
Cold- 'qeze'qaza (two ejective k's)
Delicious- 'tafa'ch (Ejective t and ch)

Anyway, the practicing on the bike has been a great addition to my daily commute. We are now working on "simple" verb conjugation. I hope the bike practice will help with this task.

Friday, June 10, 2011

NYC, where cops park in bike lanes, then ticket you for not riding in said lanes.

I'm gonna jump on the bike blogger bandwagon (BBB) here and post this because it is amusing. I especially like municipalities that think a good bike lane is one between moving traffic and parked cars.

The only issue I take with this video is the guy says to the cop, "I'm doing the world a favor by riding my bike". While I think it is good to ride your bike, you don't make any friends or converts by riding on your high horse all the time. Give me a break, you're riding your bike, probably instead of walking and taking the subway, you're not walking on water here. Plus most people who ride their bike all the time love it, so it's not like he's making a sacrifice.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Travels with Ralph

I've decided to name my bike. I didn't think long or hard about the name. I knew one thing I wanted to avoid the cliché treatment of vehicles as female. Plus the placement of his frame pump is decidedly not female:


That's right, his name is Ralph. It's simple. It's easy to remember. It's synonymous with vomiting.

My wife asked me, "Why Ralph"? My answer, "Why not"?

I've had Ralph since January, and we've traveled over 2600 miles together. A major chunk of that (1087 miles) was when I was competing in the MarchMiles competition over at mapmytracks.com. A competition I came very close to winning if it hadn't been for the sneaky exploits of my closest rival in the competition, Roystein

While Ralph and I did not emerge from that competition at the top of the podium, we did emerge very familiar with each other. And we had some serious fun along the way.