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The personal blog of Michael Ashby

Category / bicycling

Dashed Upon The Rocks Of Reality

A painting depicting the fall of Icarus from the sky.After the Natchez Trace Bicycle Tour, I made a vow to try and do two short bicycle tours a year. I didn’t have any clear idea of when or where when I made this vow, but I enjoyed being out on the open road so much that I just knew I had to get back out there as soon as possible. My thought was that I would do one bicycle tour in the Spring and one in the Fall. Money, time and energy permitting, I would try and do an extra tour in the Summer if possible. However much like Icarus, I have soared too high on my dreams of cycling and I’ve been dashed upon the rocks of reality – I’ll be lucky if I can get one tour in this year. 🙁

The first tour I had hoped to make was up to Milwaukee Wisconsin to visit my good friend Mike Rohde during the month of June. He and I planned on doing an extended weekend about like I had done for the Natchez Trace last year. I would fly into Chicago, he’d pick me up and then for the next 4 days, he and I would ride a large loop around his house. If we ran out of time, his wife could rescue us. 🙂 We had the rough outline all planned out, but as is typical in this day and age, we simply didn’t have the time to make it happen. It was nobody’s fault, we just couldn’t get it scheduled.

With my spring tour cancelled, I set my sights on where I would try and go in the fall. “Ok, so I can’t make two tours this year, I can still make one”, I thought to myself. Ideally, I would get a bunch of friends together and we’d all go riding, but I didn’t limit myself to that ideal. I’m just as happy going solo, so I thought about where I could ride close to home.

While standing in my local REI store, I eyed a Hatch Show Print poster hanging on the wall in the bicycle section. It was for a ride called the Bicycle Ride Across Tennessee (BRAT). My interest was instantly piqued and when I got home, I looked it up on the web to learn more about this ride.

Continue Reading LogoMaybe it’s the “yellow fever” of watching the Tour de France and Lance Armstrong win his 6th Tour, but I’ve taken a renewed interest in cycling this summer. I’m on the bike every chance I get, rain or shine, and it’s been an absolute hoot. Having just finished Lance’s second book Every Second Counts, I was intrigued at how Lance uses the data collected while cycling to analyze his performance on the bike. I don’t have any of the fancy gadgets that he does, like a heart monitor, but I do have a little Sigma cycling computer and I do collect basic mileage information. My only dilemma was what to do with the data.

For the past year or so, I’ve been transferring the data by hand into my Palm OS handheld using the handy application DayNotez. I enter all my workout information into it and I can pull it up to see what I’ve done at any time. However, the data is simply a note and there’s not much I can do with it other than refer to an individual ride. Then I stumbled across the web site Bike Journal and expanded my view of how I stack up with other cyclists.

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Confessions Of A TDF Junkie

Lance Armstrong - The Cyclysm!If you’ve read this weblog with any sort of frequency, you know that I love cycling. It’s a fantastic sport and I love taking a nice and relaxing ride down the country roads leading away from my home. As tranquil as this sounds, and the experience truly is, during the month of July, my countenance changes drastically. I transform from a laid back fan of the sport into a rabid, frothing at the mouth, Tour de France junkie.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with “The Tour”, the Tour de France is a 3-week bicycle race throughout the country of France. There are a total of 21 races (one per day), covering a total of 2,109 miles, and the person with the best overall time is declared the winner. For the past five years the winner as been Lance Armstrong. This year, Lance is going for his 6th win, which no other cyclist in the history of the tour (101 years) has ever been able to do. Needless to say, this year is going to be quite the spectacle with a reported 5 million people on the road and around two billion will follow it on TV or in print. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, the Tour de France is a BIG deal. To learn more about this history of the tour and insight into why 2004 could be a landmark Tour, I highly recommend reading the 2004 Preview on Cycle Disciple.

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What The Deuce?!?!

Stewie from the cartoon Family GuyI’ve been without cable for the past few months since Comcast turned it off and I’ve been on the fence regarding paying to have it turned back on. On one hand, I don’t watch as much TV as I used to, mostly because the major networks play nothing but crap. Not watching a lot of TV is a good thing because it means that I’m spending time doing other things. My weekends are much more productive because I’m no longer lured into watching home improvement shows. I’m actually out there improving my home. 🙂 However, last night it came into sudden, sharp, crystal clear focus, that by not having cable, I have been left out of the loop.
As anyone who has read this weblog can attest, I enjoy bicycling a great deal. The super bowl of cycling is the Tour de France and I’m insane about watching any and all coverage concerning the event. As it should be obvious by now, I’m a HUGE Lance Armstrong fan. If I’m crazy about cycling, and crazy about the Tour de France, then 2 + 2 should equal 4 right?

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I Love The Slop

Rain falling amongst the trees.This week has been very humid, wet and rainy. Today it looks like it’s more of the same weather we’ve been having. It’s overcast, humid as all get out and the threat of rain is ever present. Looks like perfect cycling weather to me. 🙂
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been trying to workout at the gym three times a week. When I took up cycling though, I found that I didn’t go to the gym as much because I was riding my bike just about every day. I was still attending my Wednesday yoga class, but I was tending to skip Monday and Friday’s workout. Then it occurred to me, although I’m getting a good cardio workout with my normal 10 mile rides, I’m not doing any weights. So I resolved to make Monday and Friday days that I would work on various muscle groups using the weight machines.

When last Monday rolled around, I decided to “kick it up a notch” and ride my bike to and from the gym. That would give me a 24 mile ride in addition to the workout at the gym. The fact that it was raining just added to the incentive, because I love the slop. There’s just something refreshing about riding in the rain. Maybe it’s my psyche having flashbacks to jumping in puddles on the way home, I don’t know, but when it rains, I’m ready to ride.

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Your Comfort Zone Is Cramping My Style

Share The Road SignI love bicycling. It’s one of the few places where I can get away from the stress of the day and just enjoy the outdoors and view things from a more relaxed perspective. Everything just slows down a notch and I find I’m able to see things a little more clearly. Even cycling in city traffic is fun, albeit a little more adrenaline pumping than riding an old country road. There’s just about no style of cycling that I don’t enjoy and I try to remain positive about all aspects of the sport. Since I enjoy it so much, I almost always have a positive attitude concerning everything related to cycling, however after a series of rides yesterday I have to say I do have one pet peeve.

If there’s one thing that many cyclist’s consistently tend to steer clear of, it’s traffic. It’s not that I love traffic, but it doesn’t bother me all that much. I actually enjoy the excitement of riding in traffic. It keeps you on your toes and usually pumping your legs like mad to make the next light, or dodge the next car. I’ve ridden my bicycle in Paris, London and Manhattan, just to name a few cities, and these are some of the busiest roads in the world, so you’d think that riding in Nashville would be a piece of cake, right? Well, it is and it isn’t. The traffic may be lighter, but the skill of the local drivers is definitely diminished as well. They simply don’t know how to pass.

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The First Ride Of The Season

Cycling on a pretty spring dayI’m no different than anyone else. We’re all busy and have more to do than we have time to do it, so it was a somewhat unexpected surprise when I discovered that there was a window of opportunity to go on a bike ride. Holly had to sing in all the Masses, so I was left to my own devices for most of the morning. I had to mow the grass and a few other things that morning, but like a bright sunbeam parting the clouds, it dawned on me that if I woke up early enough, I could get in a bike ride. 🙂

Daylight savings time went into effect that morning, so I was losing an hour, but I didn’t let that stand in my way. I had worked hard on the pool and yard the day before, but I didn’t let that stand in my way either. I dragged my tired butt out of bed by 7am, pryed my eyes open and made ready. I found some cycling shorts (which were much looser) and my cycling shoes and suited up. Once in the garage, I did a once over to make sure that Juliet was ready to ride. Although I hadn’t been on her since November, she looked like a prize stallion ready to sprint if given half the chance.

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Tips For Happy Riding

The Rivendell Catalog - Spring/Summer '04I haven’t had much motivation to write this week for some reason. I probably should have taken a week off like my buddy Mike Rohde does from time to time, but I didn’t know that I would go without writing for this long. 🙂
As I sipped my morning coffee and ate my breakfast, I was happily reading the new Rivendell Bicycle Works catalog, I came across an entry that I just had to share with you. I’ve talked about the Rivendell Reader before, which is still in my book the best bicycle periodical around, but the Rivendell Catalog ranks up there pretty high as well. Part catalog, part weblogish magazine, the Rivendell Catalog is a true cyclist’s catalog. There are as many stories as there are products and I read each and every one cover-to-cover. The catalog reminds me of why I got into cycling in the first place – because it is fun.
I could go on and on about how great this catalog is, but the entry I just read sums it up much better than I could. The following has been reprinted without permission and appears on page 68 of the Spring/Summer ’04 Rivendell Bicycle Works Catalog. It is entitled “Tips For Happy Riding.” It was written as one long paragraph, so I’ve kept it in it’s original format. I know it’s hard to read, but what can you do. 😛

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The Rumor In Nashville Is…

Lance Armstrong with his wife Kristin and his son LucAlthough this story has appeared in a few small publications here and there, it was a complete shock to me when I heard the rumor from my wife. According to people we know that were there, it seems that Lance Armstrong is hooking up with Sheryl Crow. They were spotted together at the Country Music Awards last week and were seen being quite affectionate and kissing in their seats.

I didn’t even know that Lance and his wife Kristin were planning on getting a divorce, but after a Google search, I found this quote from Kristin Armstrong, “[our marriage problems] were brought on gradually by a number of pressures, rather than one big blow-up. We’ve been together 4 1/2 years, and we’ve had six homes, three languages, three countries, one cancer comeback, three children, four Tour de France wins and one rise to celebrity. You’re not supposed to cram such a huge amount of events into such a small period of time.”

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Time To Put The Tire On The Trail

Tomorrow I begin a short 4-day tour of the Natchez Trace by bicycle. I’ve been planning on this trip for quite some time and I’m anxious to begin the ride. Since I don’t know what kind of Internet connections I’ll have while I’m on the road, I don’t know that I’ll be able to make any posts until Monday. I’m traveling solo and I anticipate that I’ll have plenty of time to type on my Dana, but with a 4k limit, the Palm operating system doesn’t make it all that easy to cut and paste entries into a browser or web log client. I’ll do what I can, but I won’t make any promises.

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