Attn Drivers

I follow a blog called "bikeyface" - which is a cartoonish look at what it's like to inhabit bicycling culture. Here's one of her pictures. It's pertinent to the discussion today.

Every time I try to PSA drivers with reminders or perspective, a "#notallmen" kind of phenomenon occurs in which people lament being behind slow cyclists or how dangerous it is when they swerve into oncoming traffic. Anyone who chooses to take their car-keys off their chain and put the key to their bike-lock on there is apparently meant to answer for any poor choices made by anyone else on a bike. It's as frustrating for me to see too. I have yelled at other cyclists, ironically not nearly as much as people in cars yell at each other. I sigh and try to remind them of some of the data and reasons behind certain behaviors, but that's no use. You won't notice me moving along at 25 mph and yielding defensively, you'll notice the dude with headphones that almost gets run-down near a major intersection (the one day I drove!). Incredibly, even with all these awfully dangerous cyclists around, it remains an incredibly safe activity, unless you live in Florida. Not sure what's going on in Florida. Everywhere else, bicycling fatalities are 1 in a million. There's a circular logic here as well, with more cyclists, the safer the roads are.

The CarsVBike phenomenon goes all the way back to the introduction of the car, which used roads that had been laid down for cyclists. The culmination of this was the 60's when car culture peaked and bikes waned. I think bikes are coming back. Cars are expensive and dangerous, and the internet precludes a lot of the kinds of reasons people were so into car culture in the past. So you're going to see more cyclists on the road. Let's declare peace. Here are some whimsical ideas I had for drivers.

1) If you're sporting (oh you watch football?), offer me the opportunity to draft off you. On the rare occasion I've been graced with this, it's been wonderful. See if you can slowly increase your speed without leaving me behind; Mile-a-minute murphy broke the 60mph record by drafting off of a train. Exciting!

2) Keep a spare bottle of water in your car. You can give me "Hand-ups", just like on Le Tour!

3) Yell "woooo!" or "Nice bike!" or "keep it up!" Everyone likes that. Once I caught up with some dudes in a car that had yelled some encouragement; they freaked out. It was great.

4)  Roll down the window and say hello at stop lights. I had a great conversation with a dude from new york about his bike with the graphite forks.

5) Just give a wave... you have no idea how much more human this makes you.

6) "which way are you going.... I'm going the same way, wanna race?" It's fun for everyone.

7) Avoid waving on a cyclist when you have the right of way at a 4 way stop. I've even had drivers stop when I was sitting at a stop sign. This is your indoctrinated car culture at work. I'm not stupid or disabled, I'm just on a bike. You're creating a dangerous situation for everyone by being unpredictably "extra nice".

8) Watch out for common accident scenarios. The most common thing to ask before an accident is "why is that dude stopped" and not "hold my beer" as many believe. Check out the dash cam for examples:

9) Ask your cycling friends to take you on a ride. It's fun. We'll adjust your bike to fit you correctly and show you how to do things that'll save you 60$ on a tune up. You'll realize where the danger really is on the road.

10) Offer rides to your cycling friends.

In return I'll promise to continue doing exactly what I'm doing. Can you really ask for more than that?

Some parting shots. How would you treat a cyclist if they got onto the elevator and pushed the floor just before yours? You probably wouldn't swear at them.

Anecdotaly, drivers are improving around here I think. I haven't seen anyone's middle finger or heard a pointless honk in quite some time now.

A Study in Pink

Time is running out. 

Claire is on her way home from visiting her parents, and I'm frantically trying to clean up the kitchen, put away laundry, and generally make the house look like I haven't been in full-on bachelor mode. Ordinarily that means a pile of beer bottles and pizza boxes, but since I've become a health nut - there's sushi containers and protein powders laying around. I want to greet her at the door so I can show her this blog; today I get to surprise her, and it's a RARE thing to surprise this lady, let me tell you. Her and I have been close for the last 9 years. So close that I've only surprised her with gifts a handful of times, and even then, not really. She's a savvy guesser. 

On Thursday it happens that I had a doctor visit, so I had driven to work instead of riding my bicycle. It also happens that someone was selling just the 30 year old cruiser that I've wanted to get for Claire. Her and I so rarely get to connect with our hobbies, and we've spoken about getting her a more "exciting" bike. Her mountain bike is ok, just kind of boring. She's never excited to ride it. 

A lady named Cindy happened to be selling this "All Pro" 3 speed just a few minutes from my office. Kmart sold these things by the millions, so they're somewhat common for 70's bikes. After work I headed over, and paid cash. It was cheap. It was dirty. It was rusty. And the brakes shrieked like a banshee.

Now it was a race against time. I had to reorganize my tools and pull out her old bike - and got it listed on Craigslist. It would sell within 24 hours. That meant I could avoid using our credit cards for some of the purchases I would need in order to be really stealthy about this, since I told Claire that I was working on my boat while she was away.

A lot of the components were still in really good shape, just dirty and rusty. The crank cleaned up really nicely with a scouring pad and some turtle wax.

Again fortune smiled upon me, this old style one-piece crank has one of two bearing styles - either loose or caged. As you might guess, loose bearings are incredibly difficult to deal with. These washed off nicely with some soap - no worse for the last 30+ years. This crank style is SUPER durable, they used to make these in 1900, and this could last another 100 years. I also took some extra time with steel wool on the brake calipers to get off the little rust splotches. Very sturdy and reliable brake caliper design. I replaced the pads to negate the screeching. 

Here's a "before" shot of the handlebars and rims as I was starting to work them with steel wool. I love the look of this "dutch" style handlebar.

If there's one thing we'll replace on this bike if she likes it, it's these wheels. The old stainless rim doesn't work so hot in the rain, and the internal hub is probably better off being replaced by something modern. Lighter wheels will make a big difference. They're fine for now though.

I decided to paint the frame white and pink. Bikes with custom paint often include 2 colors, and I decided to use a Lemond inspired theme for the pattern. The two pink bands on the frame would normally have the branding on them, but for now they're solid pink. Eventually, I got the bike stripped down completely of all parts, and sanded the frame. 

While I was working on this, Claire called me and suggested we sell her old bike and get her a vintage bike via the internet. This is not an exaggeration. This happened when I had paint on my hands and sweat beads on my forehead. When I talked to her today, I suggested we go look at an old bike I saw online when she got home. Ha! 

Once I had the first coat of paint on the frame things got pretty labor intensive. I had to mask off the pattern I wanted and try to wait the right amount of time between coats. I also had a deadline so I cut corners here and there. The finish isn't as perfect as I'd hoped, but it looks nice enough.

In the next picture, you can see what I'm getting at with the color scheme. 

I couldn't wait any longer since I needed to sleep, so I took off the masking as early as I could possible get away with and sprayed a clear-coat layer. One is probably enough.

In addition to painting and cleaning the bike, I cleaned the rust off the chain and oiled it. I got to use a special little tool from the bike shop - called a chain puller, oddly enough. Suddenly, this morning, the bike was back together. I put some nicer reflectors on the wheels after getting them cleaned up. I headed out in search of a front-basket to attach to her handlebars, but came up empty. This is apparently kind of hard to find. Probably something we'll have to order online.

Here's a gratuitous his/hers shot of our bikes. They both have paint matched fenders- both are from the 70's, both are pretty cool and pretty cheap.

And here's how Claire will find her new ride when she gets home in the next hour or so. I hope she likes it. But even if she never rides it I wanted her to know she has a truly thankless job in being a wife and mother, and I have more appreciation for what she does than she'll ever know.

Surprise! Any ideas for a head badge? I was going to take the pink theme further and get a vinyl phi-mu sticker from online. 

Updates- Feb 2014

Hello Blog World-
Not much new in the Sax Family, but I'll update you none the less.

Claire: I got a new camera on craigslist for a great price and I love it!  Karl won't let me take his picture, so I only have them of Lucy.  Here are my two favorites:

I also started selling Belly Binding kits for postpartum period on my etsy site! 

Erik: Registered for a half IronMan in June!  We are very excited and if my end of May client has her baby by the race, then we hope to stay a night or two at the beach nearby.  Erik can now do push ups with both Lucy & Karl on his back.  

Karl: Our little guy is an extrovert.  He says hello to almost everyone he sees (yells it out of his open window to pedestrians).  He told me recently "I wish we could stay at someone's house all night so we could play".  If Lucy is an extrovert, I'm not sure how Erik will deal!  

His most recent obsession is: RescueBots tv show.  He and Erik watch 15 minutes every night.  They are a take off of Transformers, but is suitable for preschoolers.  Rescue vehicles like firetrucks, police cars and helicopters transform into robots.  

Lucy:  Started crawling on hands and knees (i.e. Mom and Dad have to pay more attention now). On our way out the door yesterday, I took Charlie out and came back to discover Lucy was half way up the stairs!  Gates will be up soon.  Lucy also has two words- legitimately.  She says "mama" when she sees me or when I'm not paying attention to her and she wants to nurse.  She also pats Erik and says "pa pa pa" (pat, pat, pat).  Brilliant, I know ;) 

Fall Update

I'm writing this mostly because my father continues to bug me about updating our blog. So, Dad, this is for you!


My husband is looking GREAT these days.  We are closing in on 60 lbs of fat lost!  Doesn't that seem impossible?  He's been such an inspiration to me and some other people as well.  The past few months Erik has accomplished:  Riding 100 miles in a bike race for charity, cutting his 5k time down significantly, and run the farthest he has even run (10 miles).

I've jumped on the weight loss bandwagon and have lost 17 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight!  My results don't look very dramatic when compared with Erik, but I'm really glad to be back in all my old clothes from when I worked on the hill. 

I'm back in my doula business and just attended my first birth, since my Lucy, and you won't believe what they named their new daughter!  LUCY!! 

I've been doing lots of crafting and just started making terrariums.

Our big boy is FOUR! It seems like he was just Lucy's size, but here he is big, stinky and chatty! He has opinions on everything and asks so many questions that sometimes I think I'm going to go crazy.  He's turning into a sweet and nice boy. 

This fall we went to Cox farms, visited with animals, played on slides and got hatched from giant eggs with our friends!

Sadly, for me, Karl was determined that he was going to be an astronaut IN a rocket ship for Halloween.  Lord, was that a trial to make.  His space suit is just pants and a shirt (cut) covered in white duct tape. 

Here we are ready for take off...3...2...1...Trick or Treat!

Karl also was a conscientious citizen and helped me vote in our local election.  He told me that he likes blue much better than red. ha!

For Karl's birthday, his Aunt Lele sent us an awesome book that she wrote called "Karlasaurus".  In it, Karl wakes up every morning and puts on his dinosaur hat and pretends to be a big blue dinosaur.  We love the book and Karl likes me to read it most nights.  The hat is pretty awesome, too.

Karl is starting to love spending time with Lucy.  She laughs the most for him and he's such a ham in order to get the giggles.  I love that they look so much alike.
Our girl is 6 months old!  She loves to smile, to sit up, and to stand.  Lucy can pull her self up already and shows no interest in crawling.  We will see if she skips that stage!  She has been teething for the past few weeks now, and I am sure getting tired of waking up so often at night.  Fingers crossed this passes soon! 

She is generally a very happy baby and has a smile ready for most people.

Wearing the hats made by Aunt Lele.

Lucy really wants to be on the move.  Whenever I put her down she immediately starts looking around to see how she can get where she wants.  She's also figured out that Mama is the one that she wants holding her at all times (rather, she wants to have milk at the ready whenever she demands). Lucy has a particular scream/cry that she uses when she wants me, specifically, to come and pick her up.  It's pretty hilarious that she has already figured out how to train me.

We look forward to Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas!! Karl is very excited and already asks for Jingle Bells to be played in the car. 

Before and After

It hasn't quite yet been a year since this picture was taken (I think by my sweet aunt Cindy) for our 6th wedding anniversary. 

A lot has changed since then.

The team got a little bigger.

And our little guy got a whole lot bigger, if not physically, certainly in maturity. I gave anchovies a try..

And I started "clipping in" with Look-keos, just like this guy:  very much worth the read...

In March, I visited the doctor and weighed in at 232 pounds. I'd already made some changes, and lost a few pounds, and I was wearing clothes, so this is a good approximate starting point. At 6', my BMI at the time was over 30..

Today I weighed in at 181 pounds, here's the most recent "after" I have, wearing size 32 waist pants (instead of the 38's in the before pics).

Unbelievably, this is the 50lb milestone; a goal I set for my anniversary in October. So what did I do? It all started with some math, 31+20 = 51; the realization that I'd be in my 50's when our second child hit 20. I've been talking myself into being healthier for several years now, and part of the problem I faced was a sudden change in work adding 2 hours of driving a day. Over the course of 2 years, I slowly gained back the 15 lbs I'd lost. I decided to switch projects earlier this year and made health a bigger priority. 

I realized a couple of other things that helped me to find my own motivation to make a change. Firstly, the #1 killer out there is the myocardial infarction, AKA the heart attack. Since March my resting heart rate has gone from the high 60's to the low 40's. Another thing I realized is that there's a lot of interesting stuff that's yet to happen in my lifetime, including the important milestones in my children's lives. 

Some interesting numbers:
  • I ate an average of 1600 calories per day since March
  • 50 pounds of fat represents a deficit of 175,000 calories. That's more than 1,200 cans of coke. I could have had 6 cans of coke a day and lost no weight. I could also have eaten just an extra 2 scones at starbucks a day, and lost nothing.
  • I've put about 1500 miles on my bike, at an average of 14mph, probably 100 hours of biking since March. You burn more than 800 calories an hour biking at that speed, so that's about 80,000 calories just in biking.
  • After some math, this puts my average basal rate about about 2000 calories per day over these months.
So what tips could I provide to anyone else? I found that small goals 2 months at a time are the best way to go. I got an app called "my diet diary" on my android phone, and it lets you put in a goal along with all your food and exercise. I did this religiously until I had a better understanding of calories from food and calories I was burning. I haven't needed it lately, but when I get to my 'healthy' weight I'll probably start using it again to help maintain.

I decided to be a vegetarian (and some fish once every week or 2), which is working out far better than I ever thought. It's easier to limit calories this way, and the food is good. Oddly, I find meat much less appealing now that it's been a month since I had meat - 2-3 months since I had it on a regular basis. I also stopped drinking milk - and instead of 1 gallon a week, I take an extra vitamin D suppliment. I made these changes to my diet slowly, and found it was easy that way.

I've learned about metabolism and carbon input-output. I research nutrition, and try to build muscle. Have you ever heard of glycogen? Understanding how the liver and pancreas manage blood sugar as you take in and use food is as important as anything else you do. 

I've taken green-coffee bean extract, finished the bottle off today. I've drank 1 tbsp of Bragg's apple cider vinegar in 8-16 ounces of water as often as every day. Have either of these helped? Maybe, maybe not. 

Probably lunches of Kale sandwiches are the biggest contributors to weight loss aside from commuting on a bicycle. It's easy to get 1000+ calories when you go out to lunch, heck, your average salad bar tub will get you at or near 500 calories depending on what you put on it. 16 grain bread, some mustard and 2 cups of kale is under 250 calories. With a 200 calorie breakfast like oatmeal, you can get home and have 1000 calories left for dinner before hitting 1500. That might not be restricted enough for everyone to lose weight, that's why you also need exercise. Your body will just chill you out and consume fewer calories if you don't exercise. I think this is why a lot of "diets" are a flop long term.

There were a few things I was surprised by when getting healthy aside from a significantly slower resting heart rate. 

I burned only about 4500 calories riding from Monterey VA to Green Bank WV and back - a trip of about 70 miles. This is LESS than the calories I burned in a 50 mile cycling challenge in June, which I tallied as almost 5000 calories - being 30 pounds lighter means you burn a lot less calories.

Another surprise was that you don't actually lose any weight when you're in a major endurance event. Since you struggle to keep yourself fed and watered, you really can't afford to miss out on the nutrition you need to make it through. Weight loss happens during all the other days.

I was surprised that I don't really feel like such a zombie after work. Coming home from work before and I'd just want to go to bed. Now I don't have to force myself to play with Karl if he wants to go to the playground.

BTW, here's a picture of the cleats of my bike shoes after about 150 miles.

That's the one I "plant" with at stop lights and such, but for all the scratches, they aren't performing any worse and replacing the cleat is a cheap proposition. I have nothing else to compare them to, and so far, so good. Pedal straps, track stands and falls on my fixie prepared me well for this, so I haven't had nearly the problems adjusting as the "fall guy" did.

Here she is incredulous that I would purposely attach my shoes to my pedals. Lucy is so smiley these days, and so smart too!

One last thought to leave you with, hypothetical second person. I am a road cyclist. I spend a lot of time thinking about road safety. I've had people comment "biking in this area? You're really taking your life into your hands!" Aside from the fact that this is a really flip thing to say, and you are an asshole if you say this to people, it's absolutely true. I am keenly aware of the risk posed by cars, so I operate my bike in such a way to minimize that risk. In the end, I'm healthier, and likely to live much longer. I would also make the case that I'm safer on my bike route than I would be in a car, because I am on slower roads, pay a lot closer attention, and get a lot of deferential treatment from drivers - sometimes too much! I'm more likely to feel good enough to walk to the store in the evening, and avoid roads entirely when normally I'd be driving around. The most dangerous roads and intersections I can avoid altogether. A bicycle is much more flexible than a car when it comes to choosing your route!

Watch out for me out there. I'm the guy riding in traffic, allowing you space to pass when it's safe, and yielding to you at the appropriate moments. All I ask is that you give me a few feet as you pass, and obey the rules of the road. If we're at a stop sign, and you have the right of way, take it. Treat me like I was in a car. Yes, I have broken the speed limit too, although I'm not sure what would happen if I was stopped by police. I'd probably throw a party.

Cars are almost never delayed by my presence, and I pride myself on that. I get along at a pretty good clip now too. Please read and do your part to watch out for these situations whether you're on 2 wheels or 4. And yes, I think people on recumbent bikes are dumb.

August 2013

We've had a busy August so far.  Here are a few highlights. 

Wishing Aunt Lee a happy birthday (almost in August)

We went with our friends Marina (a doula in training) and her daughter Dexee to Frying Pan Farm for their 4H Carnival.  Karl asks every day if we are going back to do the rides and see the animals. I've tried to explain that it costs money, but he doesn't quite get it.  

Karl was a little terrified at the beginning of this ride. 

Marina was a good sport and went on the rides with our two kids. This picture doesn't accurately portray how excited she was to be riding the fire truck. 
 Expert spinner.

 Fun on the swings!

The next weekend, Sheila's Community had a "grandparents weekend" and the family went for a day of fun.  Karl golfed, got a batman painted on his hand, played with water guns, and tried to catch water balloons.  
He also got to meet some real firefighters!  He was thrilled. 

Karl was even invited to try and catch a fish.  Our boy did us proud and pulled up a bunch of seaweed and a little fish on the end of his line!  Karl was a little skittish of the fish and prefers to talk about how he caught seaweed. 

Karl was pretty exhausted at the end of the day...

Erik and I have been working on home projects.  I recovered our piano bench that was chewed (thanks Charlie 3 years ago) and Erik cleaned off our siding.  

Erik also moved the bikes downstairs, so my living room looks nice!

Lucy girl is getting bigger every day and has really started interacting with us.  She follows us around the room, looks for Karl when she hears his voice, and laughs when we amuse her.  It's hard to get a giggle out of her, but we don't mind making fools of ourselves trying!

 Fat Baby is not amused. 

Lastly, because I think they look wonderful, a picture of my three favorite people.