Doctor thoughts

In the past 24 hours, I have had a deep tissue massage, a teeth cleaning, and an eye exam.

You know the inquisitive yet knowing touch of a doctor which feels so good? The massage was an hour of that. It was painful around my neck and throat, but was otherwise very relaxing and probably loosened up a lot of my muscles. My body had a glowing evenness after the massage, but that faded fairly rapidly afterward and I'm back to feeling like I did beforehand, though the actual hour was amazing. The dude who did it said that he could shift the plates of a person's skull around, which is hard to believe, and after having some difficulty describing an article he was talking about, said "comprehension isn't the best part of my reading" (but you've got a great accent?). Hokey witch-doctorness can be hugely appealing.

Even electric-toothbrushing and twice-daily-flossing won't always quell the buildup of tartar. No matter how well teeth are cleaned, going 9 months without seeing a dentist will lead to a painful cleaning. The hygenist said that the longer you wait to get a check-up, the more the tartar builds up, and the more it will hurt to get removed (just cause there is more). I'll be back in December for sure.

My all time favorite doctor, optometrist Dr. Scott Youn of EyePlace, seems to know everything about vision correction. Today, my eyes were treated to a series of tests during my routine contact fitment exam-

While waiting to see Dr. Youn,

Air puff to check corneal flexibility
100 point test for blindspots
Corneal topography--a topographical map of their curvature (which we compared to a 2 year old map)
Prescription estimation by a handheld eye scanner
I had to look in another machine which I did not understand.

Then the actual eye exam

Prescription was determined and compared to the old one.
Alternate prescription for computer usage also determined
Yellow Floures drops used to check for damage or dryness from wearing contacts
Opticaine (not quite the real name) numbed my eyes for another test
Pupil dilation drops allowed a picture of my retina to be taken (which we compared to a 2-year old picture)

That's a seriously thorough exam. Dr. Youn knew the answer to every question as well (about astigmatism, macular pressure and wearing a suit and tie, and why you can't see very well underwater...). Never have I been so thoroughly pleased by another doctor's exams.


My first triathlon!

CLIFFS: Were the Torn Shirt Triathlon a meal, the appetizer would be fritos and spam washed down with ipecac, a steak and mashed potatoes with wine for the main course, followed by freezer burnt edy's icecream and rootbeer.

Woke up at five, packed the car, and took off (the race started at 8:00 AM!). Listened to Jimi Hendrix the whole way, and the day felt good as I navigated an hour of empty roads to Brighton.

I arrived at 7:15, checked in and got the little electric chip they strap to your leg to record split times as you go through each checkpoint. Then I set up my bike and running shoes in the transition area, put on my cap and goggles, and headed to the swim area, which was full of hundreds of wetsuited supermen, and me.

The race started at exactly 8, and the hundred of us began swimming. They all knew freestyle-Poof! went my hopes for an outright victory. I did backstroke for the entire half-mile (my swim training had consisted of a couple bubble baths and 10 minutes in a pool). I felt like I had been shipwrecked, and just stared into the sun and clouds through my tinted goggles, at one point churning through hundreds of feet of thick seaweed, while my legs sank and water rushed into my nose. Ten minutes after the men left, the women set off. A ton of them caught me. The mens winner in my age division took 10 minutes less than me in the swim--I was the last dude to drag my body onto the beach, but I had a bigger smile at this point than anybody else, the smile of a father who has just had a child. (0.5 miles, 27 mins)

Then it was to T1- I traded my cap for a helmet, covered my hoofs and zipped up my jersey. The bike felt great, but from the waist up my I was (tasty) jelly. The first 2 miles were on dirt roads, and I railed around loose downhill corners eating up lots of slow guys and some of the fast girl swimmers. When it came time to turn into the trail, I came in way too hot and remembered that I had switched the brake levers last night as well (right was now rear). The bike skittered sideways and I disappeared in a cloud of dust--I looked an absolute hoon. After a couple of corners on the trail I got the brakes straight in my head, and got to work on passing more of the dudes, of which there were many. My arms had recovered, my legs were golden, but there were just so many people.

When I really got some rhythm, I came upon a caravan of 5 riders in tight singletrack, and something popped into my head--I imagined that there was a legendary mountain biker who would pass people on the sides of the trail so effortlessly that they didn't even know he went by. Legendary mountain biker would pass these 5 without problem, I thought, and I decided to have a go as well. Rather than saying "passing on your left," I just swerved off the trail and dodged left of a tree and through the foot-high undergrowth, came out of the saddle and alongside the lady. FUKWOP! My face was on the ground before I could get my hands off the handlebars. My helmet cracked in two places (since its a helmet, I guess everything went according to plan!), my lips had been smashed, and my right eye was bruised and cut. What had I hit? an invisible stump.

Then it was an hour of fury though the tight but predictable, heavily wooded rolling singletrack as I overtook 40+ people with the polite "could I please rock by when you get a moment, sir?" It also dawned on me that everyone had their ages written on the back of their calves, so I could be extra happy when I passed other 21-24 year olds. (15 miles, 1:12 min)

T2 - just get rid of the bike and helmet and put on running shoes. Wash down a powerbar with gatorade.

Running will always be running. I held the ground I had made up on the bike, wasn't passed by anyone my age. Probably passed 10 people and got passed by 4. My heart rate was between 170 and 180 the entire time. Lots of loose hills and suffering. By now I was beginning to wear out, had only the water at the helper stations, and choked down little tiny pieces of powerbar every five minutes. I took pride in my downhills, sailing over roots and rocks while flailing my limbs to balance. (5 miles, 50 minutes)

I wound up second out of five in my age group. The dude had beaten me by 6 minutes.


Adventure time

As soon as I woke up I knew it was going to be a good day. Hung over on the wine coolers Ashley and I snuck into the velodrome last night, I coaxed myself out of bed only to find a bear in the mirror.

With the triathlon just a day away, something had to be done or the creatures of the deep would mistake my face for an injured porcupine and attack. I would emerge from the swim portion with an intimidating but slow squid and lobsters wreath face. My tools:

I chose the Mach 1 (thanks Josh) and the shave cream (thanks SW). The shave was about the same speed as with a normal razor, due to the combination of having to use more care and the razor cleaning huge areas of the face per stroke. A great way to reupholster your face with a baby's bottom.

Nobody likes to help when they are in a hurry (fact) but I had all day to scope out the triathlon course for tomorrow, and had so much time that there was no choice but to help everyone in need. The first lucky winner was a tan wife whose car had broken down in the middle of I-75 construction. I looped around and had her put her car in neutral, then pushed it to safety with my bare hands. She wouldn't let me give her a ride, because her husband had been notified and was on his way.

Then it was a guy in an MG on Square Lake, who had run out of gas. I tried to help him too, but his wife was on the way. Then a guy on a Goldwing on Telegraph, whose bike wouldn't start, but who didn't want any help. On the way home, it was a guy in a Dodge who didn't actually need any help at all.

When I was in Pontiac on the way home (from signing up for the triathlon), I saw a pretty (from behind) girl walking under a bridge. She was the only person on foot for miles, so I hollered if she wanted a ride. She gave a real "who, me?" expression, and then was like "you're gonna give me a ride!?!?!" She was so excited (although on a cell phone), and after I told her I was going to Rochester said "that's like halfway home! I'm going to Oxford"

She was on her way home from WHAM! which is a fun sounding alternative to jail (she got picked up for driving on a suspended license - license plate "SMASHED"). Actually, she was on the way home from visiting her boyfriend who was actually in jail. I took her all the way to Oxford, and then we fed the chickens and goats at her house (I actually caught a chicken!).

Here is a creepy telephoto shot I took of her by the goats and chickens right before I left. Told you. On the way home from her Nicole's house, I took a Drainer Rd. (dirt) for about 10 miles. It was the twistiest, most awesome road I have ever been on in Michigan. I plan on crashing my car there in the near future.

Then it was food time (3 eggs cooked in spaghetti, with garlic, cheese, oil and pepper) , and much too much last-minute mods to my dad's bike (tightened pedal tension, lowered handlebars, changed the front tire and grips). I have confidence that every decision was correct.

Fun day, no? Well, what I learned is that cell phones are great for keeping communication lines open, at the expense of potential new connections. Which can be great if you need help, not so great if you want to help. Though I should have known that: "Do you have a 'phone, case something happens?" - Everyone to everyone

Edit: What I realized was that when you see people walking in public, its easy to think they are enjoying the day, or on a jaunt to the store--do not be fooled! they are alcoholics and criminals without licenses who would give anything to be in a car like the rest of the world.


Car Trip Speeds. Can you beat 64 mph avg for any trip?

Trip details - 10:10 minutes, 647 miles

AVG SPEED - 63.64 mph

I rented a car from AVIS JFK yesterday (cost 112.23 with 10% disc. and no young driver fee, thanks USAA). The price was almost the Fibonacci sequence, but the trip got me thinking about average speeds. It took me 10:10 to complete this trip from Manhattan to Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

It was a little Chevy Aveo (with only an AM/FM radio), with an even littler gas tank, so though it was getting right on 30 mpg, It only got 300 miles out of a tank-- two fuel stops hurt average speed.

Other Time wasters:

A traffic jam out of Manhattan across the GW bridge

I carried no cash and had to wait 5 minutes for a toll booth attendant to attend to me.

Food stops - 10 minutes at a sub place, 5 minutes at a Burger King, and 5 minutes waiting to have my order taken in a diner before I left indignantly (careful as I am about trip times).

The hitchhiker fiasco - On I-80, a hundred miles into PA, I scooped up a Native American alcoholic who had gotten out of jail (DUI) yesterday morning (I saw the release papers). The guards dropped him off at a hospital 50 miles from his house so he could get a belly operation, but he hitchhiked home instead. He could talk about nothing but how much he wanted to get drunk, and how I had a long way to go until Michigan (through the rest of Penn, Ohio, and Boston...). I had to play off his jail time like it was normal and cool, and planned what to do if he assaulted me. He had no seatbelt on and the passenger airbag was off, so I was going to crash the car into a solid barrier at exactly 30 mph. I'd be fine and he'd be wrecked. Any slower and he'd would be unhurt and furious. I drove him 40 miles, gave him a bottle of water (the sun was blazing) and let him out at the Rte 220 exit to Lock Haven, where he was headed.

And the good...

I covered the 147 mile stretch of the 65 mph Ohio Turnpike in 2:00 exactly, including a stop for gas and a trip to the bathroom. The little Aveo went fast well, carrying on at a fair clip whenever the road was clear.

I know the trip could be done sub-10 hours without much difficulty (if the Aveo had a CD player), but I was fairly hustling and am curious to hear about average speeds of other travellers.


Look at it all!

Once I got to New Haven, I decided to take a picture of every single thing I had taken on the bike with me (except the camera). I even had to wear someone else's trousers when I took this-

On my next trip there will definitely be a compass and some sunglasses as well


Day 8 - Durham to Chapel Hill cont'd

TRIP: 31,000 Calories, 633 miles =

The bike got 633 miles per gallon!

Day 8 - 522 Calories, 10.4 miles = 618 miles per gallon

This was a rather tame day in terms of riding, but I felt incredible excitement at reaching the magic number, and the trip back to New Haven was an adventure as well. I woke up at nine thirty, swam through a heap of Cheerio's, and headed over to Duke to speak with some old friends. Pam Hanson and Connie Simmons work in the Engineering department and we chatted about the trip and marriage. I must have looked crazy to them, dressed as I was and huffing a bit from the ride in, but we quickly settled into our old routine. Could I be more vague?

Then it was off for the final ride, a jaunt west along Old Erwin, which took me all the way to Franklin St. and into Chapel Hill. To my dismay, the 31,000th Calorie was spent right as I got to the corner of the UNC campus. Here's a picture of me after using the whole gallon.

I stopped by Barnes and Noble on the way home, and picked up a Fast Bikes and a copy of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter in anticipation of the long Greyhound ride back to New Haven. Still misty-eyed with Blue Devil pride after the UNC scandal, I commisioned a cameo in Cameron, asked the answer person how many miles per gallon a bike gets, and began preparing for the journey back up North. It was 7 PM, and the bus left at 9:25. In the time between, I bought contact solution, 2 burritos from Cosmic, dragged a huge bike box from The Bicycle Chain to the Greyhound station, and completely dismantled my bike (fenders, rack, seat, handlebars...) and put in in that box. The second-to-last person to get on the bus did so just as I finished taping it all up.

Here is a video from 8:40 PM, blazing to the station while carrying the mammoth box:

After 600+ miles by bike, the Greyhound ride home was unfathomably rapid- There was no wind, just still, dry air, and the idle chitchat of the other passengers. It didn't matter if my eyes were open or closed-even if I slept, the scenery still rushed by. I was free to look at my radio when I changed the station, and I could even go to the bathroom while on the move . The layovers afforded me a nice chance to stretch out, but I just couldn't get a feel for any of the country we covered.


Day 8 - Durham to Chapel Hill

I'm finished! The gallon, which I had hoped would end at Duke, wound up carrying me all the way to Franklin St. in downtown Chapel Hill. This time, and for this Duke patriot, the bicycle was a tad too efficient.

More in 24...

Day 7 - Keysville, VA to Durham, NC

TRIP: 30578 Calories, 623 miles = 632 miles per gallon

Day 7 - 3359 Calories, 99.5 miles = 760 miles per gallon

This was another great day of riding, with bright sun, smooth, empty roads, a slight tailwind and few mechanical problems (though I did have to pump up my tire every two hours). Those factors allowed me to maintain a 15.5 mph average for the day while I was on the bike, while at the same time returning an incredible 760 miles per gallon. Life is good.

I decided to make a stack of sandwiches from the groceries of last night. I put five together, and decided that it would be enough, but by the end of the day I wanted more! See for yourself, it looked ridiculous.

My right knee has been getting more and more painful over the course of the trip, and today I decided to do something about it. I think that the pain was a result of the bike's high Q-factor (left-right distance between the pedals) and the fact that my right foot points outward when I ride. I adjusted the cleats for this, moving my shoes closer to the center of the bike and giving my right foot a better angle. The setup felt much better.

I blasted down fast, smooth roads in the blazing, 80 degree heat, which just 24 hours earlier had been a hurricaney mess. There was one bridge crossing where there wasn't enough room for both cars and bikes, but other than that, and the occasional buzz from a semi-truck, the ride went smoothly.

Then it was just piling up the miles to get into Durham. I got a bit lost on the way, and added 10 miles to the planned distance, but I finally got to Durham, I even passed the place where I got hit by a car two years ago while riding the wrong way down a street at night with no brakes, gears, or reflectors. She swerved right at the last second-like this blue van-and BLAMMO! I somehow left the bike and landed on my feet. The bike clattered off but luckily its no brakes, gears, or reflectors weren't damaged.

I got to Duke and took a shower in the gym, then went to the bike shop where I used to work, and weighed the rig. It only weighed 39 pounds-very light to take on a week long trip!

Then I hung out with Jesse, blasted around in his new 1978 Porsche 911, and ate some cosmic cantina.

I must note, that today it still felt like I was the only bike on the road. Here is a typical scene during the day-I blast past cars, but it is sketchy.

Only 422 Calories to go!


Day 6 - Charlottesville to Keysville, VA

TRIP: 26,508 Calories, 524 miles - 613 miles per gallon

Day 5 - 3620 Calories, 83 miles - 712 miles per gallon

Thanks to favorable wind conditions, this was a fairly economical day. Over 700 mpg,--bringing the trip mileage to nearly 10 times the EPA rating of Honda's Insight.

After waking up and driving to Performance bike in C'ville (this one was open) to purchase 2 spare tires, then leaving my phone in Wendy's car and having her to return from work to deliver it to me, I was sent off with good wishes by Wendy and her pup Dusty.

It was pouring with rain--cue garbage bag booties. It was really coming down for the first 40 miles of the day, and the rain jacket I thought I had was actually a wind breaker. I got soaked to the bone immediately, but it was 70 degrees and bearable-even enjoyable. The fenders worked really well and although there was some spray on the drivetrain from the front wheel, no water got on me.

The ride was pretty tame, although there were some very pretty roads along the way. A herd of cows caught my interest, and I snapped off a few pictures. I had to yell and moo in order to get their attention. Here is the best one-

It got sunny and I got hungry. At Tom's General Store at the intersection of Rte. 15 and some other road (483?), I enjoyed a delicious Tom's Super Sub, but when I got back on the bike the speedo wasn't working. No speedo means no odometer. Normally this would hardly matter, but on a ride for fuel economy the speedo is paramount, so my heart sank. I got off the bike and scraped the contacts which connect the speedo and sending unit. No luck. I then realized that water must have gotten into the sending unit (the speedo extrapolates wheel speed from the amount of time between each pass of the spoke magnet). The entire thing is one piece of plastic, so I didn't know how I was going to fix it-thoughts of getting another one fed ex'd to me, or putting the malfunctioning one in an oven to burn off the water raced through my head. But then I realized that I could blow the water out. I looped back to the gas station and blew a shot of compressed air into the sending unit. Voila, a speedo.

I carried on and passed this, which looked unlikely to push the penguins sign off my rack

Then I got to the hotel, and there was a wonderful fog over a field full of cows overlooked by a farmhouse. It was quite beautiful in the dusk, and I stood at the fence looking at it for quite some time.

Soon it was time to go to Food Lion, where I got a whole bunch of food- way too much for me to eat or carry with me. Only used the beer, apple, tomatoes, 10 pieces of bread, half the gatorade, 5 pieces of cheese, a spoonful of mayonaisse, and one of the meat packets. And all the chocolates!

On the way back from the store I passed a forest full of sleepy pirates of varying heights, who had luminous eyelids. They turned out to be lighting bugs. I made it through 7 postcards before falling asleep.


Day 5 - College Park to Charlottesville, VA

TRIP: 22,888 Calories, 441 miles = 597 miles per gallon
Day 5 - 6193 Calories, 128 miles = 641 miles per gallon

Finally a day without a headwind, which is reflected in the great MPG. Maybe the trip will end up over 600!

The longest ride I've ever done began with a relaxing intro to Northwest DC, which is a great place to commute. I left at 6:30 am, and found bike lanes on empty roads - very nice. Once out of DC, there was a bit more interaction with traffic. I youtube'd a wobbly video of the bridge to VA. I was loving it.

In Virgina, a sign for the CIA Center for Intelligence caught my eye. I rode past the signs saying "authorized vehicles only" but looped around at the "we heart to confiscate cameras". Well, an agent had seen me taking pictures of the sign outside, and motioned me over to a little guardhouse at the entrance to the compound. He didn't have a sense of humor about anything at first--he ran my ID and generally milled about. He gave me a stern talk, then loosened up and started asking about my trip.

I must have gotten a flat tire two days ago, because I woke up yesterday to find the rear was flat. I changed it (a huge hassle, since it is a tubular). I planned to stop at Performance Bike in Monassas today and pick up another tire. When I got there I found that the store has been shut down. No spare tire for me.

I started "hanging out" on the bike today--trying to find Aaron Schust's pedalling-rhythmed My Savior My God on the armband radio Sarah Wilson so generously loaned me, screwing around with the cyclocomputer and HRM, and of course, drinking tons of Fierce Melon. After 80 miles of these activities, I ran over a tire-popper. To change the tire, I had to scrub the rim with acetone for half an hour and then tape on the new (old and leaking) tire. Back on the road at 4:50. 45 miles to go.

I decided early in the day to eat trash, in order to see how it made me feel. I feel great!


Bowl of granola cereal with strawberry yogurt mixed in - no milk.

Ride (Check out the Tastee Freeze Pic):

3 Taco Bell Chicken Quesadillas
2 Taco Bell Double Decker Tacos

2 Gatorade Fierce Melon drinks

Tastee Freeze Milkshake with Butterfinger chunks
Mush/Sws Burger


2 helpings of home made mac and cheese
2 oranges

I arrived at my cousins' house in Charlottesville 12.5 hours after I started from College Park.


I'm a Champion

This heart rate monitor is sweet. It has worked well so far, and this morning it beeped and rewarded me for this weeks efforts with the same trophy you get for winning motorcycle races on Nintendo. The graphic was a boring swirl before, but I guess if you meet the number of Calories it asks you to burn for the week there's surprise and delight.

A heart rate monitor is a great thing to have even if you aren't doing research about efficiency. It appeals right out of the box, when it asks you to customize it for yourself- After that, you feel as though it knows who you are. You input your:

Weight - 166 lbs
Height - 6' 3"
Birthday - July 23 1982 (I wonder what it will get me)
Sex - male
Activity level - Top (5 days per week)
Sign - Leo
Max HR - 197
Resting HR - 50
V02 Max - 74 (As predicted by Polar's OwnIndex technology)

The cool thing is, it can turn any activity into an effective workout. You say how much you want to exercise, and it calculates a workout routine for you, with, say 4 days a week of exercise. It would then prescribe one short, strenuous workout, two normal workouts, and one long, relaxed workout (and you just keep your heartrate in the correct zone for the right amount of time). Its so cool to ride with, since you can watch your heartrate in real time--rising as you pour on the effort or ride up a hill, and falling when you coast or ease up. It might sound obvious, but its a joy to know what your heart is doing when you ride (especially after being used to tachometers on motorcycles).

I learned that I had been training at much too high a heartrate on "resting" days. This thing is a great training tool.

At the beginning of each day, I reset the trip meter on the cyclocomputer, and put the heart rate monitor on. It measures the calories I burn during the ride. Whenever I stop to eat or ask directions, I pause the heart rate monitor.

Polar vouches for its fitness test here, while cyclists at roadbikereview think the OwnIndex and Calorie counters are pretty accurate in my case.


Day 4 - Baltimore to College Park, MD

Here are the results from the trip after arriving in College Park:

579 Miles Per Gallon!
Calculations: ( 31,000 Calories per gallon of gas / 16695 Calories ) * 312 miles = 579 mpg

never flyfish in a ketchup river:

But there is more news than that from today. I woke up in Baltimore at this morning (ask me for what really woke me up) to 3 dunkin' donuts and a cup of hot coffee. The folks at this hostel really know how to treat a guest. Mary Jane (seen here) took me around and showed me all the renovations they had done, and they let me use their computers to find a route through to College Park. Then they sent me on my way. It was a really nice stay there. The people who worked there were all "old souls" What a find. It was in a great location too, walking distance from the inner harbour, and surrounded by historical monuments and little shops. When they get it done, they will have a great thing on their hands.

Today I found the first useful thing of the trip--a pair of broken sunglasses on the side of the road, which would keep one of my eyes from having to look at much of anything.

However, soon after that I found another piece of art, which I have taken to calling "the appropriately decorated 'Penguins' sign" and, due to the limited storage capacity of my rear rack, was forced to abandon the broken glasses and rescue the sign instead. I wonder what I might find that's good enough to make me abandon the appropriately decorated 'Penguins' sign--The mind boggles!

Dear reader, as you have gathered, today's ride was a rather uneventful one, however, its destination was fantastic. I arrived at an old high school friend's (Kirsten) house, to be greeted by a fine bunch. I convinced Kirsten and her gorge boyf to take the train into DC with me, and we wandered around looking at monuments and generally having a good laugh.

Might as well throw a video in here-

Inside the Air and Space we saw the Gossamer Condor, an enormous and (presumably) record-setting pedaled powered bike. Lemme have a go on that!

Then we came home and ate dinner, basically, while I worked on the computer like a "professional" from "DC"

(Yes, this is quite a picture post. I have been working on this blog for ages tonight, on a mac no less, and am looking forward to getting into new discussions about energy on this blog tomorrow, and maybe a technological discussion as well)

Day 3 - Philadelphia to Baltimore

TRIP: 15158 Calories, 281.1 miles --> 574 miles per gallon

Day 3 - 5283 Calories, 100.1 miles -> 587 miles per gallon

Woke up in the hostel, after a long night with the snorer, and knowing I would have to slip into a dried-sweat-y outfit for another 100 mile day. I put on my civilian outfit (goonies T-shirt from Sarah Wilson, sandals and trousers), drank a bottle of emergen-C (also from SW) and walked around the corner to a coffee shop called Doubleshot where I enjoyed a blueberry muffin and a coffee, wrote some emails at the terminals for patrons, and went back to the Hostel where Pete (seen here--might not be his real name) helped me find a route to Baltimore. He just used mapquest, avoided highways and looking for the shortest route. It worked out such a wonderful route. Great for pounding pavement, not great for understanding where you are (I can lead you along all the routes from the previous days, but have no idea how I got to Baltimore!).

After suiting up and packing everything onto the bike, I headed to the nearest bakery, where I purchased a huge, calorie-rich and day old loaf of wheat bread for just $2. I planned to munch on it all day. I figured that something which wasn't too flavorful would taste better later in the day, but for now I was running just fine on my blueberry burps.

About 5 miles into my ride, I got to this HUGE bridge over the Schuylkill river, the beginning of which, to my delight, was right next to a car crushery. Here is the video of the lanky monsters lazily tossing car parts onto an enormous mess of twisted metal. Watching them was quite relaxing, unlike the actual bridge crossing. there was a lot of glass on the pedestrian path, so I took donned sandals and walked until I got to the metal part of the bridge, where I was just riding on a see-thru grating, down over a hundred feet to concrete or water. It was really scary, but quite beautiful, so I found my self staring down as I rode along. I realized with a heart stopping horror that I hadn't been looking ahead where I was going, and that if a section of the grating had been missing, I would have just ridden off the bridge and into the water. Unlikely, yes, but an awful thought? Well, also yes.

The end of that bridge meant finding Pulaski Highway (25 miles away) and riding it 60 miles into Baltimore. It was like any other 4 lane highway in the US, with strip malls and car dealerships. The ride on Pulaski was notable for its length, the headwind (I was riding "against the flags" all day. they were blowing straight out) and this AMAZING submarine sandwich I got from Roma Pizza at 883 Pulaski Hwy in Bear, DE. An amazing Italian sub, all oily and with a ton of mayonnaise, and meat, well, just take a look! All for $4.99. Okay, looking at the picture, it doesn't look that good. It was GREAT. It tasted like heaven. Unbelievably fulfilling.

And I rode on, and on, and on. It was a boring, endless road. I had half the sandwich in my jersey pocket, so life was good, but the scenery was like anywhere else, I ended up having to take a picture of an busted up truck.

Then, finally, another rider passed me. What luck! It was the first time on the trip I have ridden with anyone else. His name was Jude, and he was in college, doing work at the nearby military proving grounds (I forget which ones) anyway, we talked for a bit and then I drafted him for a couple of miles. We rode together for between 5 and ten miles. I know drafting might be considered cheating, but there was such a headwind I have no choice but to consider it fair game.

When I was finally just 10 miles outside of Baltimore, I decided to call the hostel in Baltimore at which I planned to stay. They said two things.

A) They are closed for renovations
B) There is a 20 mile bike ride starting in 3 hours (9 pm)

So I call and they say: "You say you've ridden over 100 miles to get here? Well, we don't have anywhere you can stay, but can we interest you in a bike ride?"

I rode into Baltimore's inner harbor. It was a crowded, trendy little part of town, and I was sunburned, hungry, tired, dirty, and unsure of where I was going to spend the night. I had an hour left before the bike ride, and washed up in the food court bathroom and had a cup of crab soup (and 3 glasses of water) at a restaurant on the dock.

Then I rode back up to the hostel, and to my mild surprise, there was in fact a bike ride going on. A crowd of appropriately attired people had gathered inside the hostel and were discussing the historic sites which were to be visited along the ride. The atmosphere was terrific--everybody was calm yet enthusiastic, and very warm--offering me water, vegetables, and eventually, a shower, detergent with which to wash my clothes, a bike map of Maryland, some Guinness, and a sandwich including no less than ham, mustard, mayo, lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes. I had chips too.

Chris (in black) is a volunteer who lives at the hostel and is helping to renovate it, was nice enough to let me stay there. He and a girl named Vatu chilled out in the hostel while everyone else went on the bike ride, and we had some good conversation. Chris and Vatu were very mature, with well thought out opinions on whatever we talked about. I felt a little young around them, to be honest.

I slept on a couch in the main hostel hang out room / office, and drifted into a deep sleep until the next morning.


Day 2 - NYC to Philadelphia

TRIP: 9875 Calories, 181 miles --> 568 miles per gallon

Day 2 - 5417 Calories, 106 miles --> 606 miles per gallon

This was a very sketchy day. I started out going through Central Park, which is a beautiful place to ride, with full sized roads but no cars. I left the park at its northern border and took St. Nicholas Ave to the George Washington Bridge, where I saw the tiny red lighthouse Sarah Wilson had spoken so fondly of.

The bridge crossing was great, but once I got into New Jersey everything fell apart. I went south down JFK Blvd, a nice road where I saw this (presumably) energy efficient little thing, then tried out Rte. 1, which was a freaking 2 lane highway enclosed by curbs with no shoulder. I got back on JFK and finally took the Lincoln Highway bridge into Newark, which looked like a navigable enough thin orange line on the map, but was a hellish, mind-hammeringly loud mile of broken glass. At this point, I felt very alone and wanted to be back at home.

It sucked. I rode along a 25 mph trucking route for a while, and saw about two hundred hummers at a GM plant marked "for export." I continued riding, rode on the side of Highway 58 past Newark Airport. I got shockingly scared and got off at the first exit I came to, the first step of getting severely lost in south Newark (Hillside and Rosedale), riding through really poor neighborhoods and feeling out of place looking well European.

So finally I found some people who knew how to get me out, and they put me on Rte. 27 (with a full waterbottle and the juiciest orange ever), the PERFECT route to take me down to Penna. It was kind of a parkway, much nicer to ride on than the terrifying highways and glassy ghetto streets of the early afternoon. From then on, I just hammered down 27 through Princeton New Jersey, refueling at a gas station with a fish filet sandwich I bought from a rolling sandwich shop on that trucking route I mentioned earlier. Then I hopped on 583, which was often the deserted two-laner through forests about which roadies dream. 583 took me all the way to Trenton, where I crossed a river into PA. After that, there were a few high tension moments on the narrow shoulders of Route 1 but I took 213 to 532, where I got in the zone for the first time on the trip, and felt like I could ride forever. I rode about 20 miles that way, with my heart rate up around 140, just hammering through the dark. Maybe it was because there was no longer any hope of making it to the hostel before dark, and it had turned into an enjoyable night ride.

I rallied past traffic, cruising at what seemed to be 22 mph the whole way. It was so fast and great. I could have ridden forever, past a ton of sucky traffic and stuff. I blazed past a million cars, and it seemed empty. But then the road was churned up for miles for repaving, and i had to ride on sidewalks. Whatever. After that, I rode into a dairy queen, where two cops and two people informed me that I was in the sketchiest neighborhood ever and the people gave me a ride 8 miles to the hostel. It was 10:40 PM. the hostel was really nice, and I took a shower, and got some falafel and a milkshake in town before going to bed. There were pretty girls and Bentleys all over the streets. (I think it was in Upper Darby)

The Hostel was in a great location, with an Internet cafes, bakeries, nightclubs, and little shops all around. (this picture was taken the next morning.

There was a severe snoring issue with one of the guys in the hostel, and I woke him up to tell him how bad it was. He got right back on task 90 seconds later, and I just suffered through it.

Tomorrow I will wear an unwashed version of the jersey, shorts and socks I wore today.

Day 1 - New Haven to NYC

Apologies for the lack of pictures in this post. They will come soon.

TRIP: 4,458 Calories, 75.2 miles --> 522 miles per gallon
Day 1 - 4,458 Calories, 75.2 miles --> 522 miles per gallon

The real inaugural day of the ride! Lucy sent me off from New Haven at noon, and I began the journey down to Manhattan. After some adjustments to the baggage net at the first few stoplights, I was sailing down Route 1.

Here is a typical view of what I saw all day. Its taken in Connecticut (Photos to be added later)

Stamford was the most ghetto city ever, and at one point I rode alongside a golden focus which had a fully smashed windshield, no side windows, and four flat tires. They had the hazard lights on and were bumping down the road at 10mph.

I also saw a dealership in Connecticut selling the least fuel efficient cars they could think up- Phantoms, Flying Spurs, and this quad turbo, 16-cylinder Bugatti Veyron.

A tenth of a gallon! A picture of the moment when I had burned 0.1 gallons, or 3,100 calories. While fumbling to put the camera back in my pocket, a lady turned across my path, and I crashed into her Lexus. I needed to re-aim my front wheel afterwards.

This Bronx White Castle on Boston Park road is where I stopped to figure out the route into NYC. I ended up taking Fordham all the way west, then going south on the Major Deegan Expressway, (I thought there was going to be a bike route alongside it) The road surface was perfect and sloped gently downhill. The stop and go traffic was not at all intimidating, and it turned out to be the most relaxing section of the whole ride (it would count as HWY miles per gallon!). I was finally waved off by a sheriff who demanded to see ID and told me to exit the highway immediately and take the Washington Bridge.

After that, it was just a shot down the bike route on St. Nicholas avenue (it's a sign!) to the top of Central Park and on to Sarah Wilson's apt.

At night, I went to a comedy club with Merritt.

My legs felt great right after the ride, although they are beginning to feel a little achy the morning after. The bike has performed well, although a corncob freewheel means that I'm out of the saddle on anything more than a gentle climb. My heart rate soars to 160, and my legs wear out. Also, there is a weird speed wobble in the bike. I meant to check for a crack in the frame or a damaged lug. I think the wobble is from a slight oscillation of the bag strapped onto the rack.

Honestly, gas mileage was a bit of a disappointment. A slight headwind for most of the ride, as well as a ton of stoplights scuppured any chance of a 700+ mpg day. I will have to do some research on more flowing routes for upcoming days, but I fear that the cities though which I have chosen to ride will keep me from country roads. However, I don't think anybody is going to complain about 500+ miles per gallon while toting 20 lbs of gear. I have heard that heart rates drift up during the course of a workout, which would suggest that I'm burning more calories per mile at a given speed later in the day than I am early in the day. Does anybody know?

I have heard that heart rates drift up during the course of a workout, which would suggest that I'm burning more calories per mile at a given speed later in the day than I am early in the day. Does anybody know?


The bike fiasco

The chosen iron horse is a 70's Austro-Daimler rich with patina--deep burgundy with golden accented lugs.

The rains came today, and though I had wanted to be in NYC by tonight, the bike needed so much setup this morning. It started the day as an unadorned road bike (no picture, but you may use your imagination), but I went to a bike shop and bought a spare tubular tire and tape, a pump, chain oil, a rack, fenders, 3 spokes, a front light, and a net to strap on all the stuff I will carry.

Actually, the enthusiastic and helpful Matt Feiner of The Devil's Gear bike shop in New Haven kindly threw in the spokes and the light after I told him about my trip, and gave me a discount on the rest of the stuff. Finally, a sponsor!

I got it all back to Lucy's (my sister) apartment and started putting everything together. The fenders were very difficult to install, but it turned out that I didn't have half the mounting hardware. Until then I had been very excited to test out the fenders in the rain, but this setback meant that I would have to return to the bike shop, and ultimately delayed any possible departure from New Haven until 3:45, which would have me arriving in Manhattan in the dark.

So I cooked a loaf of bread for my ride tomorrow, and will set off in the morning.


Thirty-Onedurful Thousand Calories

An idea, long in the making, will finally begin tomorrow. After researching alternative fuels at Winding Road magazine, a way to compare the energy consumption between cars and bicycles burst into my head. Read on for the story behind my ride.

There are 31,000 Calories in a gallon of gasoline, which is a heck of a lot of energy. It is enough to push a car between 10 and 60 miles, but while the most efficient cars sip gas, they still guzzle energy.

Calories are not just for food--they are a unit of energy. One Calorie is enough energy to heat up one liter of water by 1 degree Celsius. I'm not going to drink a gallon of gasoline, but I will show just how far that much energy can take me.

My ride, from New Haven, Connecticut to Augusta, Georgia, will burn up 31,000 calories in a quest to find out exactly what real-world "miles per gallon" a bicycle can achieve. I think it should get between 700 and 900 mpg, which is pretty good, don't you think?

The ride will cover around 80 miles each day--the exact distance will be measured by the cyclocomputer shown on the left. The energy consumption will be measured by the Polar heart rate monitor on the right, which is calculates energy consumption with an acccuracy better than 97%.

The bike is set up, just needs to be pedaled.