KC/DC Cycle

Ride to live... live to ride

Monday, July 22, 2019

Riding on the road - early horror

One of my early memories of riding on the road was riding with my father. We took a few rides with a group of neighborhood guys. There was a moment in that ride where I was next to dad while we traveled downhill increasing in speed. As I rode beside him I saw the front brake dislodge from it's position on the front fork. BOOM! He sailed through the air and landed flat on his back... I helped him to the side of the road and he laid there. I don't remember more of the details. We went to a house nearby where we called mom to pick us up. I don't know if dad went to the doctor or hospital. This was the days before helmets. He was lucky to not have hurt his head.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

I think what I discovered in dealing with my Facebook bicycling group is that my bicycle group is very conservative. It is an international group of cyclists over 60. Someone had complained about the US flag being in the cover photo. The comments supporting the flag included that "it's not political", that they "love their country". I said of course it's political. There are people in our group that may hate our American flag. I said every flag is political. I posted the ISIS flag. I talked about free speech to post everything we are thinking about. That was it. In one of the trainings we had on racism the trainers said one of the signs of gentrification was bike shops. I was kind of shocked. I'm a bicyclist, but not the casual yuppie kind of cyclist. I go places. I do errands. I get exercise. I don't spend a lot of time cleaning it. I don't go out and buy the latest trendy thing. In light of my experience with this bike group I'm considering that the anti racism trainers were right. Bicyclists tend to be elitist.

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Friday, July 12, 2019

Gear: water bottle

One decision I made decades ago but didn't explicitly share here was how much plastic tasting water is nasty. Plastic water bottles were one of the first bicycle specific accessories I bought as a young rider. I was not a big drinker of the water but I liked to make sure I had it out on the road. I was a minimalist in gear on the road until I needed something and got stuck. Warm plastic tasting water and a tube repair kit were essentials even before I got a helmet.

After getting the water bottle I got a frame holder for it. Before the frame holder I carried the water bottle in a bag on my back. I tried putting ice in the bottle but the water turned warm pretty quickly. I stopped using the water bottle because it just tasted nasty, especially when warm. I did shorter rides. Eventually I got enough regular income that I upgraded to an insulated plastic water bottle. I bought a few of these and spent time adding ice to cold water but it still didn't last too long. I found a solution to the bad taste of plastic bottles finally about 10 years ago. I now use stainless steel water bottles.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

A novice on the roads in Kathu?

If I had not been a skilled cycling enthusiast prior to Thailand would I enjoy riding here? After each ride I am drenched in sweat. I carry two sweat rags, one in each hand. Both are soaked when I return home. Another method I use is to dip in the pool before my ride. The heat is oppressive. The humidity is high. The sun is brutal. Then there's the traffic with its noise, the lack of route options. This is extreme cycling. A novice cyclist would not do the route that I enjoy. I enjoy it because I have good shade probably half the route. There is an excellent section of flat wide pavement and a decent section of perfect country road with shoulders. To connect to the various perfect sections of road you have to run the gauntlet. I hate the noise of traffic. I hate cars whizzing by too close. I was warned early in my riding here by a motorbike who actually hit me. They pass too close.

A novice would have to contend with the noise. A novice would have to deal with the crowded streets and be prepared to get up before dawn and possibly ride in the dark to avoid the challenges of the climate here. A short ride would be enjoyable. If you have a car and transported the bike you could have some alternatives. There are ways to manage cycling here to make it enjoyable. There are some serious local road bike riders who take on the challenge.

Check out my route and pictures of my usual ride on my website linked below:View site

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Monday, July 08, 2019


As I struggled to recover from minor injuries I considered options for recovery and enhancing performance. I can barely keep hydrated so anything including getting enough fluids is an enhancement. I have not been disciplined about stretching either but I don't see this as a deal to help this situation. Hydration and electrolytes are definitely options that could help me. Here in the tropics I pour sweat like never before. For over a year it didn't impede my riding performance. I always avoided the hottest, sunniest part of the day. That seemed to work, but in combination with injury recovery I felt I needed to try some of the options I knew were low hanging fruit. So I tried electrolytes and hydrated a little better than I have in the past. Since the injuries have ceased to hinder me the only things holding me back were bad habits and the need for electrolytes since I sweat so much here. This improvement in my strategy seems to be making a difference. Two days ago I struggled and napped after the same bike ride. Today I feel stronger afterwards. I really sprinted a few times during my 22 mile bike ride. Another statistic was my elevation climb of 1890 feet for the ride. There's one stretch where the climb is 11%! Down that slope I reached 42 mph even without pedaling. I'm using a couple of phone apps to add some dimension to my portrayal of my experience. I have an app that measures my distance, elevation and various speed parameters called Runtastic. The slope measurement is done with Angle meter app. I've just begun using them and it's great to have. No need to buy a GPS or speedometer. I hope to use the history feature on the Runtastic app to see my cumulative progress.

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Sunday, July 07, 2019

Communication, Translation, Transliteration and Diplomacy

Living in Thailand we are often learning new vocabulary or names. We make notes of the names of foods we like so we can order them again. We're always struggling with writing down words in our best effort to remember something. We also read menus and signs that attempt to represent Thai words and names. We also laugh when we English words spelled differently on different signs. It's not that they're spelled wrong, the issue is that you can't write it accurately in English. We don't have the same sounds in our language. We don't have the letters to accurately represent alternative sounds. Is there a difference between nuang and nueng? What about tun and tan? What we try to do is subject to constant mistakes. The notes we make are only rough equivalents. Even translating English to American we need a dictionary. We were talking to a British friend today and she was describing a baby shower. They decided to give the young mother nappies. "You can always use nappies", she said. I translated for Karen: diapers. That's just English to American. Imagine the challenges of entirely different languages. The Thai language has its' own alphabet, grammar and speaking practice. A letter can have different meaning when pronounced with different tones. It's like a long O versus a short O or a hard G and a soft G. In Thai, every syllable is pronounced in one of five tones: low, mid, high, falling, or rising. The tone must be spoken correctly for the intended meaning of a word to be understood. Since every word has a particular mandatory tone, we say that the Thai language has obligatory lexical tone.

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Friday, July 05, 2019

Recovery complete

I had a great bike ride. Recovery has been really slow at my age. I had two injuries and it's really kept me out of my groove for almost 6 months. In my life of riding this is unique. I've never been off the bike a week except on a very few vacations to China, Morocco, Yellowstone, Key West and Grand Canyon. Many vacations I've brought my bicycle. So this period of recovery has been excruciating and scary. The pain from the injuries was negligible. The fear in my mind is daunting. As I age, how will my body rebound from future injuries? My bicycling as exercise keeps me young. Injuries accelerate deteriorate my body.

Today, though, was amazing. I did my BIS ride in full all the way to the airport road and back. I realize from this recovery experience that my fitness was very high indeed prior to the injuries. Climbing these 10-11 degree slopes on the back of sustained 7 degree slopes really takes a lot out of me. It's a grueling feat to achieve. But I'm back. In this assessment I also came to realize that the sun takes a lot out of me. I do not consume enough water as a bad habit, but I may want to add electrolyte supplements to the 'good idea' list. I had been really discouraged by my slow rate of recovery and was doubting my ability to even recover fully. Now I just need to learn from my experience of recovering as an older person. I know it will take longer than when I was 10 years younger.

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Thursday, July 04, 2019

Using slope app and bike ride data from phone

I had been wondering about the steep slope on my Thai standard bike ride for a while. I had struggled with the idea of getting a carpenters level and measuring distances and calculating to arrive at a slope number. The slope on my bike ride is the steepest I can remember. The climb is not long but it is steep. I had looked around unsuccessfully at GPS apps that require subscriptions or that cost money. I would probably use this one time. It's mostly flat here but I wanted some record of the slope of part of my normal route. When I do the out part of the out and back route I do the big downhill portion. I can easily pass cars on the section of road without pedaling. The steepest downhill is maybe 1/8 mile ending in a hairpin curve.

I found that brief downhill to be 11% grade. That's about what I thought, but it's nice to know. On the other side going up it only registered 10% grade for the return portion. The return is part of a 617 foot climb in elevation. So the length and slope are somewhat significant for an 8 mile route one way.

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