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Neanderthals and iPhones!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Covetous....yes, I am covetous. I have suffered much, drowning in a sea of envy, a deep, gaping hole in my soul yearning for.....

....a new iPhone!

It's a long and somewhat complicated story, one that strikes me at the core of my being.....a love of gadgets!

As many of my Spark buds know, I love working out....and I love gadgets & gizmos; Polar heart rate monitors, Bodymedia armbands, Garmin GPS watches, yadd-yadda-yadda.

When I work out, I am instrumented up like shuttle astronaut

I love to get read outs on all sorts of things, then to come back home, slice it, dice it, plot it...and feast my gaze upon endless charts....yeah, I'm a geek and proud of it!

Well I had a smartphone tragedy 2 weeks ago. I'd had an Otterbox, ultra-protective case on my iPhone 4 for about 2 years, and, on a whim, decided to go for a smaller, thinner shell case.

Bad move....4 weeks after the switch, I dropped the damn thing on my concrete driveway during a particularly blustery morning. CRACK!

So I did some research, hearing the rumors about impending iPhone 5S production lines this summer. I've hung out like a pimply teen at the AT&T store playing at their iPhone 5 display, wondering if I should buy one now or wait.

Then I took a spin class today....and determined....I MUST HAVE ONE!

There I was on my usual bike, pedaling away, when I glanced over at the guy on the bike next to me setting up his iPhone on the handlebars. He nonchalantly pulled up an app that started synching with his heart rate monitor, displaying an instantaneous read out of all his vitals.

Imagine my shock, my horror, my utter humiliation as I stared down at my puny, inadequate polar watch display, quickly covering my cracked iPhone with a sweaty towel (I still kicked this guys' ass in class.....he petered out by the third hill climb 20 minutes into class; "Damn your superior technology!"....have I mentioned I'm a little competitive?)

But I couldn't bear having to go through this technological humiliation again, so I buddied up to him afterwards.

"Hey dude, whatchya got going over there with your display?"

"Oh, this is the Digifit app. It synchs up my iPhone with my Polar Bluetooth HRM"

At this point the humiliation is almost total.....I have 4 Heart Rate Monitors, none of them are Bluetooth!

"Really? Bluetooth huh, and it just synchs up with your iPhone? What's that app again, Digi-what?"

"Digifit. It can synch up with all sorts of devices, but the Polar Bluetooth can synch with your iPhone 5 and the displays on most gym equipment"

Now I'm starting to feel physically ill....I thought about kicking his ass for real!

"iPhone 5 huh? Does it synch up with the 4 at all?"......Throw me a lifeline or something here!

"I don't think so, but you can check Polar's website"

"I think I will, thanks!"

I skulked back to the locker room, my head hanging down in shame as I desperately googled Polar's website on my pathetic excuse for a cell phone. Sure as hell, I'm one generation behind....a Neanderthal in a world of racy, hi-tech Cro-Magnon phones!

So that's that....can there really be any question as to what I must do next? Do I sit and suffer, pedaling away like some extinct ape as less physically capable hominids run circles around me with their technology? Remember, Neanderthals were physically much stronger than us, but we used brains and opposable thumbs to build the tools that drove them the way of the Dodo

It's settled next blog gets posted from a 4G LTE, iPhone 5!

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FANGFACEKITTY 2/28/2013 3:37PM

    OK, I will help you feel better. My work cell phone is a Nokia C2. Tiny screen, no internet, no smart screen, no 3G let alone 4G, no e-mail, no apps, no nothin'. It does send & receive texts but you actually have to push real phone buttons repeatedly to get to the correct letter (and no handy complete the word for you feature).

It is so 20th century I am beyond humiliated when anyone sees it.

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HGSGUY 2/23/2013 2:01AM

    What is super cool is you can get the polar app and use your i5 and polar watch!

Have fun with it!

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HANSBRINK 2/22/2013 7:29PM

  Loved the blog. But it reminds me of the saying: The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.

Enjoy the 4G LTE, iPhone 5!

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-DAVE- 2/22/2013 5:43PM

    Awesome narrative - I being a geek as well felt your pain just reading it.

Glad you got (are getting) your fix this weekend?????


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PMRUNNER 2/22/2013 9:43AM

    Still stuck with a dumb phone... Someday I will upgrade perhaps... Enjoy your new gadgetry!

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PLMITCH 2/22/2013 9:16AM

    I made the switch from Android (a Motorola Droid 2) to iPhone5 last month, and I am SOOOO glad I did. Obviously more up to date technology (4G LTE, etc), but I love how it works so seamlessly with my Mac and iPad! I have one of those sleek cases, though, which I like b/c I can just slide it into my front pocket, but wondering if I need to go to the Otterbox? Thankfully I do have an insurance plan in case of a drop...

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WOUBBIE 2/22/2013 9:12AM

    LOL! Great blog, but I just can't relate at all. I use a Tracfone. It makes phone calls and sends texts. I don't even have the number memorized. When I want my heart rate I press two fingers to the side of my neck.


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JECKIE 2/22/2013 8:36AM

    *snicker* I so know what you mean! I've been coveting the 5 since the day it came out... my 4 is in such great shape, though (despite having been dropped not once but TWICE off the treadmill) that it seems wrong to replace her.

I love gadgets, though! My new favorite is my Nike+ FuelBand. :)

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BILL60 2/22/2013 8:23AM

    Mine will be coming in December. BTW, have you checked out Training Peaks?? It contains oodles of data. I've been a member for 2+ years.

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BERGBA7 2/22/2013 3:17AM

    oh my God... this blog is hilarious and you make a great case for your new iPhone! No one can refuse you your new tool after such a blog. You are definitely a gifted story teller and advertiser...
I wish you a great, hopefully casual, Friday!

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    ...and then someone else will have phone envy when they look over and see yours (your new iPhone). emoticon emoticon

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BEATLETOT 2/21/2013 10:31PM

    You crack me up. I love this blog! Enjoy your new toy!

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BOBF15 2/21/2013 9:47PM

    How many Spark Points for envy?

Can you get an app for logging in the calories burned salivating over an iPhone?

You may be all set on those two.

Go get 'em tiger. emoticon

Great blog, loved it. emoticon

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    Awesome blog - I could sooooooo relate! And now ..... Oh, I just gotta get a 5 or I will die!!!

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Never take counsel of your fears!

Monday, February 18, 2013

So last week was a tough week....nothing really bad, but I was under the weather with some crazy rhino-virus that messed with my head. It wasn't enough to knock me out, but it slowed me down just enough to make simple things difficult. That and I just kept sneezing and blowing my nose all week.

I felt OK doing cardio, but skipped 2 days of ST mostly because my brain wasn't in it. I relaxed most of this weekend and took a leisurely bike ride Sunday.

Skipping 2 days of ST last week made going in to today's heavy legs & back day even tougher. I knew it was going to be a struggle....and I didn't feel like struggling....I was looking for a reason not to go, looking for reasons to ease up and not make it so tough. I wasn't sure I could push through it.

Well push I did and let me tell you....I probably had the best heavy legs & back day I have had in a long, long time!

I set a couple of PRs on squats & deadlifts (300 lbs on the deads!) and as for my arch-nemesis, pullups & chinups, I did 3 sets of 4 pullups (overhand grip), followed by 3 sets of 5 chin-ups (underhand grip)!

At the end of the day, I was still going pretty strong, but petering out a little. My Stasi trained trainer decided to end the day with bicep curls, but instead of going with heavy weights, he took a plate off for the last 2 sets and said, "just keep going to failure"

I really, really hate this guy when he says "just keep going to failure". When he says "just keep going to failure", there is no numerical goal to shoot for, there's no relief thinking that just one or 2 more reps will end the agony. No, there is just white hot pain as I pull and tighten and keep going until he says, "that's good you're done"

Yeah, he'll assist with the bar, providing some leverage to help me get past a stall, but I'll be damned if I'll stop before he makes the "that's good you're done" call. He's good, he knows his business. He'll provide just the bare minimum of assistance to keep the bar moving, but he won't let me slack off either. And somehow, his definition of muscle failure is always just 1 or 2 levels of pain higher than I think I can withstand.

And that is the biggest realization I have made about strength training.....yeah it can be tough, but our bodies are capable of much, much more than our minds can tolerate. It is a challenging exercise regimen, but the rewards are commensurate with the work. Today, I like what I see in the mirror before I get in the shower. I like walking by a mirror and realizing that I've got a flat belly without having to suck it in.

I am constantly amazed at the improvements I have made by not giving in just because I am tired or under strain. I realized again today to not fear the struggle, to accept it, to just keep going, and to trust that muscle pain is temporary even when my brain just wants it all to stop.

And I like to be able to end night's like tonight saying, "Man, that wasn't easy, but man was that worth it!"

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EGALITAIRE 2/22/2013 3:15PM

    When I am in a regular lifting routine - meaning same pattern for a number of weeks I have found I set new PR's when I take a week off about every 6 weeks. I come back stronger and with more energy.

Stay strong

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HANSBRINK 2/19/2013 9:09PM

  Nice blog! I'm a numerical person and usually stop when I reach my number. I'll have to keep the "Go Until Failure" thought in my mind during my next ST session.

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    wowsers.. way to push through a tough mental block. I am finding that my head will say "NO" but my body continues to say "YES" and get it done - as long as I don't let my head get in the way!


Wish I could find a way to turn off the head at times... maybe install an on/off switch? LOL

Great Job!


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VEEJAY3 2/19/2013 12:47PM

    So true that the brain gives up before the muscle does! I have a lazy lazy brain! haha
I love to come to your page and get a blast of sinew-y motivation. Love your attitude.

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BEATLETOT 2/19/2013 11:27AM

    You are awesome and always such an inspiration. Thanks for posting this!

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BILL60 2/19/2013 7:39AM

    Way to go. Now, if you could only lose weight like I, you would be a stud. Not to worry cause there's nothing wrong with second place. Hang tough, my friend.

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TRIANGLE-WOMAN 2/19/2013 4:36AM


I always tell myself "Go to the gym, you can leave after 10 minutes if you want to."

Takes all the pressure off and I have never taken myself up on the offer!

.*) ✫ .*)
(. . .`.✫
.*) ✫ .*)✫ Spread the Spark
(. . (..`.✫

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BERGBA7 2/19/2013 3:01AM

    Yep! This is true for many things is life, not only heavy lifting. A tasks that one does not want to start but finishes off against all inner turmoil will be the most rewarding!
Hope you will feel better soon, though!

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HEALTHIERKEN 2/19/2013 12:16AM

    "And I like to be able to end night's like tonight saying, "Man, that wasn't easy, but man was that worth it!" "

Man, I gotta get me some of that attitude and then make sure I provide opportunity to use it. Slacker that I am, I talked myself out of exercise *again* today : (

I'm glad I read your blog, there's a couple of motivating quotes that I need to put on my wall.

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    Sounds like a great workout! I always find that the ones I go into kicking and screaming are the best ones. :)

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Humbled at the Valentine's Day Spin Class!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Well today I was humbled....then I got over it!

I've been fighting some cruddy rhino-virus since Monday night; it's been kicking my ass. Well today I decided to just go sweat it all off at the gym in one of my favorite lunchtime spin classes.

Our local gym is still suffering from the January effect....tons of people still packing in every class, packing the weight room, packing it in on the cardio machines. Yes I am happy so many want to be so just means I need to get there early for class and ask to work in a lot in the weight's a good thing, I get it.

Luckily, a buddy saved me a bike 'cause I was running late. I love the spin bikes in our gym, they are these very cool looking Keisers. They synch up to a heart rate monitor, they have great digital readouts of cadence and gear settings, and the fit on the bike is great.

I am used to specific gear settings for most of the workouts that curvilicious instructor gal puts us through, usually in the high double digit settings.

Well imagine my surprise when I start warming up to find that I'm struggling on settings of 5, 6, & 7! I am working like a dog to keep a 70-80 cadence at a setting of 10! I am normally cooling down on a 10!

I figure this friggin rhino-virus has stolen all my mojo, because my heart rate is up at normal 80-95% levels at these settings.

I feel like a wuss!

But I plod along, hoping none of the regulars steal glances at my girly-man settings, because I am giving it all I've got at settings I think should be for used for first time spinners.

Add to that, curvilicious instructor is hitting my all time favorite tunes and I'm keeping up, but wondering if I've lost all my credibility with my peers.

Anyway, I had a great workout. And that's why I like wearing a HRM because my heart rate was up exactly where I wanted it the whole time, even approaching my max.

So I finish up, shoot the breeze with a few folks, shower, change, and go back to the office. My twenty-something front office assistant, who was also in the class, is chowing down a big salad. As I walk by him I say, "Well that was a pretty good class, glad I went. I'm finally getting over this dumb cold, but I think I sweated off the worst of it."

"Yeah," he says. "It was great and I was working my ass off....and I got stuck with one of those cruddy bikes, the ones that have the readings all jacked up. I was on settings of 4, 5, & 6 almost the whole time"

"You're shi**ing me! There are broken bikes in there?!?! I was kicking my own ass for being a wuss. I barely moved the dial above 8!"

"Yeah," he says. "Some of the bikes are notoriously bad on the calibration. You didn't know that?"

"Listen to my voice, monkey boy, does it sound like I knew that?!"

He looked down and just stared at his salad.

"It's all good'" I told him. "Thanks for saving me the bike"

So yet another reason not to get too hung up on numbers....which for me is a tough thing because I am a numbers geek. I say I don't care about the numbers on the scale, but I sort of do. I say it's not important how much weight I can squat, but it's really pretty cool to see the numbers go up. I say I don't care about the settings on the bike.....wait a minute, I never said that, HELL YES I CARE.

So next time I go into class with a big red permanent marker.....and put a big X on any bike that's badly calibrated!

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VEEJAY3 2/16/2013 1:37PM

    What a great writer you are! I'm gonna have to go back now and read your past blogs, and probably add you as a friend so I'm prompted whenever you write something new.

This reminded me of going to spin class with my daughter, years ago, when she'd returned to Denver from college in California. She was struggling, and winded, and kept looking over at me to see if I was suffering like she was. "I don't know what's the matter!" she lamented. "I usually KILL spin class!" Well, it wasn't until a few hours later that we realized .... ALTITUDE! She had grown used to living at sea level, and here at a Mile High, it's a whole different lung game. haha She's a Type-A high achiever (as it sounds you are), and it killed her not to meet her usual high standards.

You overachievers! haha

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BERGBA7 2/15/2013 3:01AM

Great, real life story! And great story telling!
Get well soon and good luck getting a good bike next time!

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PINKNFITCARLA 2/14/2013 11:22PM

    Well, at least you found out it was the bike and not you! I hope you get well and feel better soon.

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WOUBBIE 2/14/2013 10:36PM

    In World of Warcraft and other online games you would be such an Achievement Junkie. "I KNOW it's not really important to gain reputation with the Timbermaw Clan but there's this Achievement....!!!!"

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    LOL! You're making me laugh because I'm exactly like that too! If I forget my Fitbit, I'm like a lost puppy. How do I know how many steps I did today? How am I supposed to know how many floors I climbed today? I'm not getting credit for this! Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone!

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Valentine's date, women, and song!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Soon after we moved to Florida, SWMBO and I "adopted" a nearby Assisted Living Facility. The place is chock fill of mostly widows (a few guys live there too) and we decided long ago that we would do our part for the local community by volunteering to help out this outfit.

So for the last few years we, and a few of our close friends, go there on Christmas, New Years, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, etc to help out. For Valentine's Day, us guys put on ours tuxes and we wine, dine, & dance with the ladies for a couple of hours.

The cool part is that they start around 5:00 PM and by 7:00, they're done, tuckered out and going back to their rooms! And I get date night credit with SWMBO!

It's actually pretty cool. The ladies get all fancied up, putting on their brightest, reddest outfits, do up their hair, and get out their best dancing shoes. They've got a DJ that plays everything from Maurice Chevalier ("Thank Heaven for Little Girls") to Dean Martin ("That's Amore") to Lou Bega ("Mambo #5").

The problem is, I'm not much of a a matter of fact, I suck.

That's where SWMBO comes in. She's the diva of the dance floor in the family and is perfectly happy getting out there and sashaying herself around with whatever retiree is out there. While she dances for the two of us on the dance floor, I work the tables, sitting and chatting up the ones that can't walk or get around.

And did I mention I still get credit for date night....and dancing....and Valentine's Day all in one!

Actually we both have a blast. She got a pair of 90 year olds out there dancing tonight who were just as lively as anyone could hope to be in their 90s! I floated between a few tables where some of the ladies had had some recent operations (hips replaced, knees replaced, etc), patted their hands, asked about their grandchildren (one had grandchildren older than me!), brought them some red velvet cake and chocolate-covered strawberries and made a festive night of it.

Overall we all had a good time and as SWMBO and I drove back, we both realized that no matter how rough we might ever think we have it, life is actually pretty darn good and we're in pretty good shape (although I did tell her that she's just building up some goodwill and karma, waiting to knock me off so she can go live there herself.....that got me an elbow in ribs!)

So a good reminder for me....this living healthy thing isn't just a temporary to do it for the long haul....I'd like to think I can make it to my 90s and be just as fun, lucid, and active as some of the ladies I saw tonight!

Have a great night Spark friends

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VEEJAY3 2/16/2013 2:04PM

    ooops! double post

Comment edited on: 2/16/2013 2:05:07 PM

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VEEJAY3 2/16/2013 1:40PM

    OK. Seals the deal. I'd threatened to add you as a friend when I read your spin class blog. Now this? C'mon. You're all kinds of adorable.

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GREENGENES 2/14/2013 1:03PM

    Way to go!

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MNABOY 2/13/2013 11:22PM

    Jewels in your crown.

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HANSBRINK 2/13/2013 11:42AM

  This is hilarious! And a very sweet Valentine's Day story. You've earned triple Heaven Points for doing this.

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BILL60 2/13/2013 7:46AM

    Way to go!! Didn't think you had it in you. There is hope for you after all. A super nice gesture by your SWMBO and yourself.

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BERGBA7 2/13/2013 2:53AM

    Great that you are doing this!
Did SWMBO try to get a dance with you? I would only give you "date night credit" if you would dance a dance with me!
Yes, let's do our best to stay healthy and fit until we die!

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    I love this -what a wonderful gift you are giving to some very deserving people.


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PINKNFITCARLA 2/12/2013 11:27PM

    Love it!

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WOUBBIE 2/12/2013 10:50PM

    That is the sweetest Valentine story I've ever heard! I like you even more now!!

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DRB13_1 2/12/2013 9:59PM

    you both are angels, and I love this post!
Bet you can learn a lot from those retirees. They've lived through some of the most important history in the world.
You both have emoticon hearts of gold! emoticon

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Florida, the Wind Always Blows in your Face State!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

So I must confess; I haven't ridden my bike since September.

No it wasn't the weather (winter is always like a perpetual spring here in the Florida panhandle), it's not like I was too busy (I am, but I've never let that keep me from working out), and it's not that I don't like cycling, I love it.

But I hate flats....with a passion, I...hate....getting....flats!

Last fall, I averaged 1 to 2 flats per ride! It sucked big time. They've got these stupid prickle bushes that bloom around August and they just attacked my tires with a vengeance.

So I sat out these last few months, lifting weights at the gym and doing my cardio in spin classes and on stationary bikes. But I've been itching to get going again....and besides SWMBO gave me a kick in the pants.

Here's how my brain tackled the problem.

"Hmmm, it's a pain in the ass to get the road bike out there, I keep getting flats and it's ruining my mojo. Hey, I like spinning on some of these stationary bikes at the gym, maybe I'll buy me one. Hmmmm, the one I like is about $1800.....sure I can get that. No, SWMBO will kill me, it's more than the love seat she bought that I gave her a hard time about"

"Hey maybe, I can get that trainer I researched a while back! I can put it on the back patio and spin like crazy watching the dolphins and pelicans!"

Here's how my conversation with SWMBO went last weekend:

ME: Hey I'm going to get this really cool magnetic trainer so I can get back into riding

SWMBO: Magnetic what? Why?

ME: It's pretty cool....AND MUCH CHEAPER THAN THAT SPIN BIKE I WANTED (wink, wink!)

SWMBO: Why do you need this again?

ME: It's pretty cool, I can put it on the back patio, mount the rear wheel of my bike on it, and I can spin like crazy on my own bike! AND ITS MUCH CHEAPER THAN THAT SPIN BIKE I WANTED (wink, wink!)

SWMBO: How much is this thing again?

ME: It's pretty cool.....about $340 on delivery!

SWMBO: 340 buck so you can ride your bike on the patio? Why don't you just get new tires and ride your bike on the road......LIKE YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO!

ME: Ummm.....well.....yeah but this way I could ride even if it's raining out.

SWMBO: How much are new tires?

ME: About $80....for a pair of good ones.

At this point SWMBO goes silent and just gives me that look signifying, "Do we really need to be having this conversation?"

So I ordered me up a pair of Kevlar reinforced Continental Gatorskins, hardened with a synthetic diamond coating (not really, I made that up). I had a pair of these before, but I've ridden them hard for about 3 years, so yeah, it was time to replace them. They came in last Thursday, I put them on yesterday, then cleaned and tightened up my sweet, sweet Trek 2200

I decided to test out how my spin playlist translates onto a real ride on a real bike.....not so good, it's about fifty/fifty. The fast songs are good on the flats, but I can't always time the hill climbs to real hills here....besides, this is Ft Walton Beach, FL....I am at sea level on the sea.....hardly a hill to be had for miles.

I have noticed, however, that 6 months of squats & deadlifts have done wonders for my riding. I'm trying to find my new sweet spot between cadence vs speed. I had some very good stretches where I was able to sustain 18-20 MPH at 90 RPM on a flat road for a good long while. My goal is to be able to sustain that pace and cadence for about an hour comfortably.

The only bad thing was the was blowing up a storm here today. And I'm pretty convinced that, contrary to popular Spanish folklore, the name Florida is not derived from Juan Ponce de Leon's exclamation of how "Flowery" this land was. No, I'm pretty convinced that Florida is an old Indian Seminole word for "Wind Always Blows in your Face!"

It didn't matter what direction I was going in, I had a headwind at every turn!

But, it's February, and while my mom is snowed in in Boston, I have an opportunity to ride my bike outdoors.....can't be all that bad! And besides, I rode for 90 minutes without a flat!

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DDOORN 2/11/2013 9:47PM

    I think you'll be in pretty good shape with those tires. I'll be curious to hear how you make out. I'm no fan of flats either and have had my share of learning from mistakes when changing them. One of my biggest shortcomings as a cyclist is my mechanically-impaired nature...ugh!


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ATTACKFATCAT 2/11/2013 11:18AM

    I'm glad you were finally able to get back out, and really happy you didn't get blown off the road!

I've been using stationary bikes for the past month, but will probably go out and get my own bike in April, once the weather decides to cooperate (I live in TN). It's going to be interesting...I haven't had my own bike since I was a kid, and things like flats, new tires, etc. are going to be all new to me.

I had another SP friend comment that extra ST really improved his swim time, so it seems that squats and such will also impact my biking in a good way too!

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BILL60 2/11/2013 8:33AM

    How to Avoid Flats 101: Stay on the roads; Inflate tires at the proper PSI; Buy good quality tires; and replace tires sooner than 3 years. Good luck!!

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BERGBA7 2/11/2013 2:46AM

    Wow... you basically live in paradise, if it wasn't for the prickle bushes! Good for you to have fixed your bike and exercised outdoors. It surely makes you feel alive to ride a bike through nature and feel the wind in your face. Love it! I am going out now for my run - felt temperature: 12 Fahrenheit. But I know coming back I will feel soooo good.
Have a good week - hopefully not as busy as last one.

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    Great job! I'm jealous! It snowed 6 inches on Thursday and today it was 40 and raining. Ugh!

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IMSMILEY88 2/10/2013 6:47PM

    How wonderful not to have a flat!!! I sure saw a lot of people dealing with flats yesterday. And, I love that I can ride here in Texas basically year-round, too! What a great feeling! And, we don't have any prickle bushes. emoticon

P.S. Thanks for the tip on squats and dead lifts! I really need to strengthen my legs to handle those hills & the wind better!

Comment edited on: 2/10/2013 6:47:56 PM

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WOUBBIE 2/10/2013 6:11PM

    SWMBO is very wise. *wink*

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