Sunday, November 29, 2009

Where to??

I am trying to figure out the details of a newly thought up trip this Spring, and would like to propose a question:

If you had a week (maybe a little longer) of time around March-ish this coming Spring and wanted to plan a bicycle tour (probably in the U.S.), where would you go??

Keep in mind that I am ok with some pain and suffering. :) Suggest away!

Thanksgiving ride.

I decided to earn my Thanksgiving dinner this year by biking to it. I wasn't interested in the standard guilt of having over-indulged in food on a day spent on sedentary activities. And since the weather has been incredible for November in MN (payback for a horrible October filled with cold and rain and gloom), biking to dinner seemed like an idea that would be silly to pass up.
Coon Rapids was the destination this year (yes I know my bike ride would have been way more epic if I was traveling home to ND :) ). My route took me down Summit Ave in STP, then pretty much followed the Mississippi River the entire way to the Hovde home. It passed through the U of M area, industrial gross-ness by I-94, then through a few suburban river park areas, finishing by crossing the Coon Rapids Dam and rolling into my in-laws place just in time for a shower, then dinner. Alison met me there with our pickup for the return home. If I had packed my bike light, I would have actually considered riding home at night fall too. Next year I guess. All in all it came out to be just over 25 miles; considerable less than I'd estimated, but still a haul considering I was riding the fat-tired Karate Monkey into a northern headwind the entire time. I really need to invest in a pair of cross tires to make that bike more commute-friendly and efficient. I tend to ride bikes that weigh a million pounds. I guess we'll call it training.
We'll see if I ride to Christmas Dinner too. Don't know where it's gonna be yet.

Leaving STP...

Passing through MPLS...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wet cold monkey.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I really haven't commuting to work via bicycle like "normal" for a while. I've been tied up with after work climbing, running, late work, or being hurt from running. I also mentioned that my coworkers had been razzing me for riding through the butt of last winter and then taken off a good deal of the nicer part of the year from commuting. So I decided today's forecast in STP was fitting to return to it. It was 38 degrees, windy, and the ride home included a steady soaking rainfall. And it was dark, cuz it's MN in November. Why not right? It's actually quite comfortable in the right clothing, as I've always said. People are just to close minded to try it. I rode in a lightweight longsleeve wool shirt over another lightweight shortsleeve wool shirt, with a Marmot Precip jacket over it all. Not much, but when you're riding you actually get pretty warm. And since nothing (yes nothing) on the market is truly waterproof and breathable, you get condensation inside. So thus the wool that insulates when wet. It didn't get very wet, just a few drops here and there...very comfortable. More people should ride when it sucks out. They think they would be worse off but I think they would be happier for it if they could just shake their preconceived ideas.

Arriving home.....

Dry enough, and plenty warm the whole trip home. I definitely advocate biking in garbage-y weather.

On another note...running has slowed down for the last week. I didn't follow the advice I blogged last entry, and I went to far to soon with the barefoot style running and ended up with a very sore right achilles tendon that got all swollen. It's starting to feel better again, but I'm going to wait a bit longer before easing back into it. I'd rather miss a few days than get hurt. Listen to the barefoot gurus, they advocate starting very very slowly. Guess I better take the hint.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Changing up my running.

Frustrated with the pain and suffering I described a couple posts ago regarding the running I've been doing, I read Born to Run, a book recommended by several friends of mine. Great read; I'm now also recommending it. One of the things the book highlights is a hotly debated topic of whether or not modern running shoes have done anything to actually help runners avoid injury. It suggests that they have instead caused more injuries than prevented them. This is supposedly because our feet are not able to react and function in the way they do naturally when not encased in a "protective" shoe. Instead of landing softly on the forefoot with a short stride when barefoot, the running-shoe-shod foot lands hard on the heel are rotates forward to the forefoot after a long high impact stride. And while the cushioning in a running shoe is designed to absorb some of this impact, it cannot possibly protect our bodies from the force generated by that kind of impact. Think about how much you weigh, then factor in the force of your foot's acceleration and landing, and it is rather silly to think an inch of rubber/cushioning will dissipate it all when landing directly on the heel. That's supposedly why we get injured more often now that running shoes have become so prevalent in the past 30-some years. Running barefoot, or close to it, allows the body to react correctly, and we run like we evolved to do. I won't regurgitate the book to you, but I'd totally recommend it. And don't think it's a boring comparative article either, it's actually a very entertaining true story of the author's seeking out of the Taramuhara Indians of Mexico's Copper Canyons to learn how they run into old age in sandles over harsh terrain injury free while dining on corn mush. :) In they end they even put on a 50 mile foot race between the Taramuhara and a few very tough American ultra marathon runners- I won't tell you who wins. :)
By reading this book and several other accounts of barefoot-style running, I decided to try a pair of Vibram Fivefingers footwear, which leave you feeling barefoot, but provide protection against cuts and nicks and small stuff you run into while truly barefoot. It takes some time for your muscles to get used to them, as we've spent our whole lives in shoes, but I love them so far. I haven't felt any of the knee and hip pain that was experiencing while running in the expensive running shoes I got fitted for and started out in. The only thing I've dealt with is an expected soreness in certain muscles, such as my calves, as they are worked harder barefoot, but that's just the body getting stronger, not injured. Sweet. If you try them, follow the Vibram link above to several tips in their barefoot running section so as to not go overboard with it at the beggining. As mentioned, your body needs to adjust, and it might not be for everyone. So far I dig it. I'll keep you posted.

Hiking around Makapuu Point in Oahu in my new Vibram Fivefingers KSOs:


Flight benefits have been good to the Jensen's for the past couple years. The latest trip happened last weekend: a quick getaway to the Island of Oahu in HI. It was our first time to Hawaii, and I can tell it wont be the last. November is supposedly a cold month in MN, so we thought we'd get out and enjoy some sun. In actuality, it ended up being 60 degrees and folks were climbing outside here, but I'm still glad we went. :) The weekend was spent hiking, eating, chilling on endless beaches, shopping (yeah, I actually did a little of that), and touring the island via a rented car. Two and a half days isn't anywhere enough time to see Oahu, but it was a start. It also got us riled up to see the other islands too. Oahu is pretty populated, so it would be great to put on a pack and hike around the other less inhabited islands sometime. We'll be going back.

Up above the Makapuu Point Light, where the Island of Molokai can be seen across the ocean (but not in this picture):

Somewhere on the North Shore of Oahu:

Near where Jurassic Park was filmed (and parts of Lost):

Waikiki as seen from the top of Diamond Head:

At Waikiki's Central Beach: