Tag Archives: biking

Bambi’s Revenge

This tale begins in 2009. That was the year I visited the Grand Canyon, and, in addition to clapping my eyes on some of the most majestic vistas ever created by nature, I also had the pleasure of witnessing possibly the best warning sign ever created.

It instructed all park visitors not to attempt to approach deer they might see because—and these words have stuck with me—”Deer hooves are sharp like swords.”

Angry deer

angry deer?” by w3nkman, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I was living in Chicago, where deer were a rare sight, so I have rarely had to apply the information I learned from that sign. But in Ohio, they’re much less so.

I’ve spotted deer three or four times while I’ve been living here. I like seeing deer—they’re pretty animals and all. But every time I’ve seen them, it has been approaching the duck hours and I’ve been on the bike paths.

Now, I’ve waxed rhapsodic about the local bike paths before, and I stand by both the wax and the rhapsody. But there’s one thing I may not have mentioned that has become relevant to the waxody: The paths don’t really occupy much space. They’re a few feet of pavement, with a few feet of grass on either side, and then woods.

So, when there’s a deer on the path, if you want to get past it, you’ve got two options: Either you can approach it or you can wait in a ruminant standoff until the deer scampers off.

Every time this happens, my quasi-rational fear* of samurai deer emerges. I have always chosen the ruminant standoff approach. I’ll attempt to make comforting noises, trying to translate “Hello, Mr. and/or Mrs. Deer, I think you’re a wonderful creature but I need to get to the other side of where you are and I’d appreciate it if you’d step off the path so I could be certain I could do that without being decapitated by your katana hooves, not that you would do that, but I’ve heard that it’s possible” into Cervinae.**

There’s also, of course, the quasi-rational fear that a startled deer might inadvertently—or perhaps advertently—barrel into me, which would hurt a fair amount. But mostly, I’m concerned about the swords.

Is this a concern that I need to have? It’s hard to say.

The internet has reports about moose attacks, killer chickens, vexatious kangaroos, herds of sheep, and Canada geese (which are not a surprise—they’re nasty buggers). Also, this article thinks your bike route is adjacent to a meth lab, because needless fearmongering is a thing our society is good at.

But none of these reports are terribly, how do you say, authoritative, so I’m left wondering about whether Bambi is out there, planning revenge for the money-grubbing Bambi II, and the even worse Bambi on Ice, and for forcing him to make that frankly horrifying turn as Sam Carmichael in the film version of Mamma Mia. And, of course, this:

Some may say, “Be brave.” But I’m a coward. And so, from here on out, whenever I see a deer, I’m going to assume it’s after human blood.

* My quasi-rational fear is rather odd for my new town. Most of the people here are terrified of tornadoes. It kind of makes sense: In 1974, there was a really serious tornado that fairly devastated the town. But what doesn’t make sense is that everything now is a tornado, even if it’s just a light drizzle that is later discovered to be caused by a lawn sprinkler, or a cloud that blocks out the sun for a couple of seconds. I shudder to think how people will feel about the eclipse in August.

** Deer language. Druids can choose it as one of their starting languages, while other classes may learn it by spending twelve months if they have an intelligence of 12 or higher.


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May Goals: What, This Again?

It’s been a while since I’ve set some goals, for reasons that are fairly logical, but now that life is slightly settling it’s time to get back to it. They’re not super-well organized or thought-out, but I’ll use that old “I just moved states and I’m still trying to get everything sorted out” excuse. So with that in mind, here’s my goals for the month:

Weight: 243.428, as a 7-day average. The move, thus far, has been good for this particular metric, due mainly to diet: It takes a bit more of a commitment to eat junk here, and having a traditional office job takes away a fair amount of opportunity. Or maybe, it’s just the novelty of being in a new place that has helped. I hope it’s the former.

Pull-ups: 6. I technically managed this once before—In February, my Chicago gym had a month-long pull-up challenge. I haven’t hit those heights since, but if the weight comes down and I work consistently, I think it’s broadly feasible.

Crow pose: 20 seconds. I haven’t worked on the crow pose consistently in several months, ever since I figured out how to kick-up into a wall handstand. But the crow pose was something that really helped me to do that, so I’m hoping it will also help me to do an unsupported handstand. My previous best was about 15 seconds.

Dips: 8. My new gym does have a quasi-dedicated set of bars for dips. OK, not really; it’s one of those angled things with a foot rest and a cushion for back extensions, but it’s got parallel bars sticking out of it. I’ve only done 4 so far, but it’s early days.

Biking: Bike the county. As I’ve noted, the county that I now live in is criss-crossed by bike paths. Next month, I want to do the whole county: basically, biking to Jamestown, Spring Valley, Fairborn, Yellow Springs, and Cedarville. (And Beavercreek, but as I can’t really get to Fairborn without passing through, we can take that as read.) That may be slightly over-ambitious, as it’s five rides and I’m only in town for three and a half weekends this month. We’ll see.

Running: Two goals here: First off, build up to an 8K long run. I really only started running for the year in April, but I’m doing 5Ks consistently, so I’m ready to build. The second is an 8-minute mile. I have no idea how that will go: I haven’t done a timed mile since about junior high. I have no idea how a mile pace would be different for me from a 5K pace.

Writing: I need to write (outside of my job) daily. I may make an exception for the travel weekend (especially the day when I’ll be driving from Long Island to southwest Ohio) and the other race day I have.

Transition from transitioning to living: Basically, this entails starting to build the connections that humans have when they live in a place. (It’s also been strongly encouraged by my employer, which should help.) I’ve actually started the process of volunteering at a place, although that hasn’t yet gone well; their website has a volunteer application form, but no information about how to turn it in. We shall see how that goes.



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Biking in Ohio

When I was doing my final interview for my new job, one of the things the employer highlighted was the extensive bike paths. Apparently there are more cubic feet per capita than any place in the history of time or something. (That’s not a real statistic, because I don’t remember the exact details.)

I may not know the exact details of Ohio’s bike path network, but I’ve had the chance to ride it a lot (for having been here only five days) and I can say: It’s cool.

It started the day I moved. For some reason it was a hundred bucks cheaper to return the U-Haul to Dayton, rather than Xenia (which is where I now live). It’s only about 10 miles, so I figured it wouldn’t be too tough to bike back (even after doing the ‘hauling heavy shit’ part of the move that day). But, as it turned out, there was a bike path that went almost directly from the U-Haul store to my new place.

I don’t think I’ve ever done a 10-mile ride that quick.

The path is paved and smooth, a lovely ride through woods near a creek, and there were only a handful of roads that it crossed where bikers even had to slow down to check for cars—which there rarely were.

Even better: Xenia is the county seat and located geographically in roughly the center of the county. So there are several of these paths that head to the other cities in the county (and in some cases beyond; I think it’s possible to bike to both Columbus and Cincinnati on them, although don’t hold me to that), and they all intersect here. So, in addition to using the bike to get around for errands and getting the stuff I need post-move (which has also been really easy; the paths have taken me close to where I need to go, and on-street biking in other places has been perfectly fine), I took a bike trip out to Yellow Springs this weekend.

Yellow Springs is a little town with a bit of a hippy vibe and a nice downtown with bunches of cafes and little artistic shops. Also, here’s the view on the way:

OK, that’s not the only view, it’s only one of the views on the way, but still: pretty cool.

One drawback to biking in Ohio: While the bike path game is on point—I’d even say
“on fleek” if I were confident what that means and that it were still a term—the bike rack game is less so. In Chicago, racks are everywhere. In fact, they’re almost a nuisance: marauding packs of feral bike racks roam the streets, jumping out in front of traffic, pooping everywhere, and rebending their pipes to form rude gestures. In Ohio, the concept of attaching a bent steel pipe to the ground where bikes can be securely locked is completely foreign.

OK, I exaggerate for comic effect; there are some bike racks. But I have also been to largish commercial centers—like the strip mall with one of the big supermarkets—that don’t have any, so I’ve had to lock my bike to a fence or a shopping cart corral or a sleeping Weimaraner. And that doesn’t include the rack that I saw that existed (Yay!) but was built so that the rack supported the tire but kept the bike so far from any metal that my U-lock was useless (Boo!). Unless I locked my bike on the side of it rather than in one of the bike slots, which I did.

So the lack of bike racks hasn’t been a real impediment to biking, but it’s a bit of culture shock.

In general, biking feels very different here than in Chicago. Chicago has done right by bikers: There are plenty of bike lanes and other facilities to make biking possible, which is a minor miracle. But like other forms of transportation, biking in Chicago is stressful: There are almost always lots of other bikes, cars, and pedestrians, all of which could move randomly at any time, that you have to worry about. It was still my first choice of transportation, but it was transportation, rather than recreation. Here, it’s much easier to relax and enjoy the ride.


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Let’s Get Ironic with Running!

So, yesterday was Global Running Day.

Now, I don’t particularly care about such things. It’s a made-up event (although, as British comedian David Mitchell once noted, all events are made-up) that doesn’t actually have any meaning to meaning. Whoever made it up (which, as it turns out, is New York Road Runners) do it for their cause, or attention, or to give themselves and others something to talk about (a legitimate concern for publications that have to constantly be talking, regardless of whether they have anything to say, and yes I’m resembling that remark there) but that’s fine. Lots of people say and do things that I don’t pay attention to.

But I did happen to notice Global Running Day, and yes I took part.

Not because it was Global Running Day; just because Wednesday is my normal long run. (10K in 53:50, which is certainly the fastest I’ve done that length, although I’ve not done that length all that often.

The ironicy bit goes to a similar, equally made-up event: Bike-to-Work Day. Which isn’t exactly a day, but one of several depending on where you live, and more recently I think it’s been a full week (at least in Chicago) but that’s not the point.

I don’t currently bike to work, since it’s literally impossible. (Not in the sense that I can’t bike; in the sense that I work in my living room, and my bike lives in my apartment complex’s laundry room, so it’s impossible for me to ride my bike and get any closer to my office than I already am.) But, when I worked outside of my home, I was a bike commuter, on a schedule that ranged from a couple times a year (when I lived 30 miles from my company) to nearly daily (when I lived 3-5 miles away from the office.) I was at least an occasional bike commuter for about 12 years.

And yet, I managed to never ever bike to work on bike-to-work day.

Again, not intentionally; either I had a repair to make that I didn’t get to in time, or the weather was bad, or I was tired and chose not to. Whatever.

So despite genuinely liking biking and regularly performing the activity that inspired a dedicated day for it over more than a decade, I never participated in its dedicated day, but having only been running for three years, and only tolerating the activity, I’ve managed to participate in its dedicated day the first time I heard about it.

Tie me up and call me Dave Coulier, because Alanis Morrisette wrote a song about me.


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Monthly Goals: January (with a chance of sexy naked pictures if you read to the end)

Happy new year.

Today’s post is going to be part of the most exciting series of posts imaginable, because in it I’m going to take a long, in-depth look at myself and my goals and analyze both with the intensity of an editor I used to work with when he was hunting for commas that didn’t fit the magazine’s style (we used the Oxford comma, if you care) while declaring that catching things like the fact that the article he was editing had been written based on data from a year prior rather than the brand-new, newsworthy data, was “not his job.”

That may not sound as exciting as I intended it. Would it help if I used some exclamation points? !!!!!! Exclamation points mean fun and excitement, right?

Okay, let’s cut that crap. I’m going to publish my monthly goals and progress toward them, and they’re more to hold myself accountable than to provide insight readers. So if you want to skip this bit, no hard feelings. If you do want to read on, well, there is a chance that I’m going to post some sexy naked pictures of myself at the end as a reward for slogging through. (That chance happens to be zero, but zero’s kind of a chance. Right?) In any event, I’ll also try to be intermittently amusing throughout.

Whiteboard showing goals for January

My goals for January, as recorded by a professional scribe who has no hands.

To the right, you’ll see the whiteboard that hangs in my living room/office/whatever that room is where I neither cook, sleep, or poop much should be called, and which holds the readily visible reminder of my goals in glorious “handwriting.” It’s a shame it erases, because if it didn’t I could really mess with the minds of 3010s archeologists.

January’s big goals are:

  • 5 consecutive pull-ups. I’m pleasantly surprised that I can do two or three, depending on the day and how I’m feeling on it, which is no real step back from my best of last year despite ending the year with a pair of bad months diet-wise. I don’t have a great plan for achieving this one, apart from careful diet to lose weight, regular workouts, and regular practice—more to get over the mental hump than the physical.
  • Weight of 255. Today’s reading was 263. I know that the scale isn’t a perfect arbiter of fitness, and that lots of people advise chucking it altogether, but for me it’s easily trackable and workable—I obsess over the number, but at least I know that I obsess over the number in a kind of irrational way, and I’ve figured out how not to let that obsession over the number get in my way. One thing I do is use a 7-day average to (sort of) iron out the noise in the readings, although I only re-started weighing myself a couple days ago so I don’t have that data yet.
  • Fewer than 20 meals out. Yeah, I know. In a way I’m horrified by how much I go to Subway or Chipotle. On the other hand, I’m also horrified by how much time I spend alone. (I work at home.) Apart from my workouts, getting food not at home is one of my primary bits of human contact. I’ll be working to develop some other not-at-home activities, which will hopefully make my urge to go out just to do something other than sitting at my computer a bit less intense.
  • 12 job applications. I don’t just complain about working at home; I also am trying to rectify it.

Longer-term goals include:

  • 50 consecutive push-ups. A previous goal got me to 35 consecutive, although I’m pretty sure I’ve fallen back from that. Although a lot of it is mental; a week of practicing increased my numbers way more than could be explained by any improvement in strength. Likely my main goal for February.
  • Handstand. I’ve been working on this for a while now. I can do a decent handstand against the wall, facing it and walking my feet up, but I can’t come close to getting into one by kicking my legs up.
  • 24-inch box jumps. We often do box jumps at my gym, and the boxes can be turned to be 20 inches, 24 inches, or 30 inches tall. I can do the 24 inches, but not any kind of a full set. There’s definitely some mental issues at play here, though, since the idea of me trying the taller jump, missing by just a bit, falling over, and breaking my face is a lot less funny than the idea of Adam Sandler doing that. (I watched part of That’s My Boy. It was the third movie at a Brew & View, so I was pretty lit—but not nearly lit enough to get through it.)
  • Muscle-up from the 24-inch box. Really, I want to eventually do full-on regular muscle-ups, but they’re a long way away. At the gym, we occasionally use the boxes as support, and I can do one from 30 inches—so I’d like to get closer to the ground on that one.
  • 25-minute 5K. That’s about 90 seconds faster than my current best, but as it’s winter I’m not thinking about that one too much.
  • Lakefront-arboretum bike trip. That’s shorthand for a trip down to the end of Chicago’s Lakefront path, and then back up to the Chicago Arboretum, and home. It’s about 50 miles in total, and really shouldn’t be much of a problem once it gets not cold enough to make you forget which genitals you have.
  • Monkey bars down-and-back. My gym has a 25-rung monkey bar rig. I’ve made it one way; I’d like to make it both. This is one where I have lost a lot of ability—grip strength and hand pain from grabbing the bars and ripping bits of skin off on them are big issues. Kids make it look too easy, which just proves that children are evil.
  • Size 38 and 36 pants. I have two pairs of goal pants. I didn’t purchase them with my own money, I promise. I bought a pair of suits last year for job interviews, which led me to join the retailer’s loyalty club, and the suits were enough to get me some gift certificates, and when I went to redeem them they were having a sale, which led me to be able to get two absurdly expensive pairs of jeans at no additional cost to me. So I got smaller sizes than I currently wear, in hopes that I’d be able to eventually wear them. It made sense at the time.
  • OCR-related: Longer term weight goals and a goal for a burpee-free run at the Indianapolis Sprint.


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