Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Yellow Jersey

For safety, I usually wear brightly colored tops on my daily commute so that I will stand out to cars. I have a particular yellow jersey that I occasionally wear that seems to repel cars, but also apparently helps me attract wasps. Today, for the second time this summer, I was riding along and felt a “crawling” feeling under my shirt. I actually chuckled to myself thinking of the last time I felt that and got stung a half a dozen times on the chest before I was able to unzip to see a wasp flying away. That was at the beginning of a twenty mile ride. Instead of stopping, I decided to focus the pain for a good workout. And it worked; I did that 20 mile trip in about 54 minutes. 

Wearing that same yellow jersey today, I thought I had imagined the crawling because the feeling quickly went away.

Just after laughing at the memory, I felt the crawling again on my shoulder and instinctively slapped at it. I felt a bug with my fingers, under the loose fitting jersey, and then a rush of pain. Fortunately, I was stopped at a light so could quickly unzip and watched as another yellow jacket flew out of my yellow jersey.

It must have been a deeper sting because my shoulder swelled up a bit larger than the last time. If never reacted much to wasp stings, but I still remember slapping a yellow jacket on my knee when I was about six years old, and the wallop it packed in retaliation. I suppose that is what started my lifelong fight with the buggers. As a kid, I remember during spring and fall we often had wasps wander into our classrooms at school.

Most kids screamed and ran away, creating chaos for teachers. To many of my teachers’ dismay, I learned to slap them out of the air to the floor, where I would crush them as payback for that early childhood sting. The other kids thought I was crazy. 

I have mellowed a bit, and realize that they won’t bother you if you don’t react to them. They are just fellow sugar junkies, after all. That doesn’t stop me from chiding my wife when she reacts to them, like she did the other day when one wandered into our car uninvited. My wife, bless her, was reacting in defense of our two babies strapped into the back seat. It’s no joke when you are allergic to bee stings, so I am grateful to her for her loving response in defense of our twin boys. 

Now, after all of this tough talk, I am going to pop some pills to ease this throbbing.

Friday, August 16, 2013

End of Summer

I find it hard to believe that its half way through August. I got an email today from one of the cycling lists that I subscribe to letting me know that Summer is half over. The email obviously didn't originate from Minnesota, where the State Fair, which starts next week, marks the "end of summer".  On my ride yesterday past the fairgrounds, I saw trailers pulling carnival rides in to set up the Midway.

I really hope it is not the end of summer, and that we still have half of it to go with lots more time for spinning. It has been fantastic so far on the bike. I tracked all of my rides while working to complete my goal to ride 500 miles during the Tour de France. I was thinking of switching to Strava to keep up with some of my cycling friends that use it, but MapMyRide was sponsoring a Tour de France challenge and it seemed like fun and a good way to live the Tour a little. They also had a pretty cool tracking interface to motivate you with some intermediate goals, and rank your daily progress compared to others.

With all of the extra Burley rides with the twins and a couple of longer ones thrown in for good measure, I was able to just make it. I guess the habit of tracking all of my rides spilled over past that, and I got an email from MapMyRide informing me that I logged over 700 miles for July. It was a fantastic month!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Biking Makes People Smile

After we finished our first ride on the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis, my wife turns to me and says, "biking makes people smile." We saw lots of folks from all walks biking the Greenway tonight. We saw some things we liked (like the light reflecting off the downtown buildings as we stood on the bridge crossing over the light-rail tracks, and the soft glow of the sun, about-to-set, on our boys faces). And we saw some things we didn't like (like the dude in drag showing off his bra as he biked). But still, like all of those we observed around us, we smiled.

Recently, we have been looking at our bike map, picking out trails around town that we haven't seen. I am surprised it took so long for me to get to the Greenway. It is on the other side of Minneapolis from us (we live in Nordeast), and I have heard so many stories of people throwing things down on cyclists below, which has made me steer clear. But I'm glad Sarah suggested it for tonight. It was busy with lots of riders, full spandex team kit types, to kids on BMX bikes, Nice Rides, and the occasional Burley (including us). They have done some fantastic things to revitalize the old rail-bed... Enough so that I couldn't count the number of new condo buildings going up next to it. I took some pictures with my iPhone to post. We will definitely be going back.