Friday, March 27, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

More Biking and My Goals

Getting pretty boring around here, nothing really going on so let's talk about my weekend biking, again.

If you remember last week was my first time out and I made the foolish mistake of climbing a couple of hills with my new bike. I didn't make that mistake this weekend because I stuck mainly to the bike path that runs by the apartment. The bike path I am talking about is also called The Old Plank Trail. It is 17 miles long, starts in Sheboygan and finishes in Greenbush. Most of the trails I have found in Wisconsin are rated as easy, this trail is rated as intermediate. I am assuming the intermediate rating comes from the fact either you are peddling up hill or downhill the entire length of the trail. This trail isn't built on an old railroad bed like so many others this trail actually follows Highway 23 between the two above mentioned towns.

The surface to the west of where I get on the trail is older pavement and is rough in some areas. The surface to the east was recently repaved and is nice and smooth and I think a little wider than the trail to the west. There are a couple of areas where you need to slow down or it hurts when you hit the bumps. If I were to compare this trail with the rail-trail between Midland and Clare I would pick the Midland-Clare Trail just because the surface is so much better. The one thing I do like with the Old Plank Trail is when you approach a road to cross the trail actually bends away from the road intersection. This make the crossing much safer than the trail being right at the intersection.

I was hoping to ride the trail this weekend to Plymouth and back but when I woke up Saturday morning we had snow covering the ground. I wasn't to worried about the fresh snow because I knew Saturday was suppose to be a nice sunny day with temperatures hitting 50 degrees. I was more worried about the left over snow on the trail from this past winter. Yes we still have snow here in Wisconsin and wherever the trail passes on the north side of a woods the snow has yet to melt. Saturday was such a nice day that when I came up to a snow covered portion of the trail I pushed the bike past it and continued on. I finally got all the way to WI-57, which is on the extreme east end of Plymouth before I got to a patch of snow I didn't feel like pushing through so I turned around.

One of my goals for this trail is to try and average 12 MPH along the trail. I am hoping by later this summer I can get up to 13 and maybe even 14 MPH average. I was averaging 11.8 MPH even after stopping to push my way through the snow covered areas so I think 12 MPH is easily within my grasp. I finally had a chance to get the average up to 12 MPH because I was about to decent a nice long hill. I was hitting 17 to 18 MPH and even got over 20 MPH once. I had the average up to 11.9, ready to break 12 MPH when I looked up and what did I see? A bald eagle soaring overhead, the hell with the 12 MPH average, I hit the brakes and stopped so I could watch the eagle instead. I mean how many chances do you get to watch an eagle glide through the air? I think this eagle was looking for its next meal because he was circling overhead gradually moving towards the east and then the south.

I took off again and eventually made it back to my point of entry to the trail and decided to see how far east I could go on the trail. I made it about 2 miles before I hit more snow than I really wanted to push the bike through so I turned around and headed home.

I ended up riding 21 miles on Saturday and felt pretty good afterward except for my butt. I think I can handle the long rides other than my butt gets pretty sore. When I jumped back on the bike on Sunday everything felt fine except for my butt again. I am hooping with more riding it gets broke in too. Speaking about Sunday because it was cold and windy I only rode for 7 miles. It was just too miserable to go any farther. It is suppose to stay cold and rainy all week but at least it will finally melt the snow.

Since little sis told us all about her goals for the upcoming summer I thought I might share mine with everyone. The one thing about telling people your goals I think you are more apt to accomplish them because it adds a little pressure. Unlike little sis there will be no races for me.

1. I want to be able to average 12 MPH on the Old Plank Trail by this summer.
2. My goal is to ride 1000 miles this summer.
3. I want to ride 51 miles in one day by my 51st birthday in June.
4. I want to ride the Ozaukee-Interbaun Trail here in Wisconsin from one end to the other and back by the end of the summer over one weekend. I am not sure but I think it is about 60 miles one way.
5. Before biking season is done and if I am still here in Wisconsin I want to ride to the Mississippi River. This is about 112 miles one way and you start in central Wisconsin and end at the Mississippi River. You travel over a boat load of bridges and travel through several tunnels cut through hills. My plan is to ride it to the Mississippi and back over a 4 day period. This isn't something I can do alone so if anyone is interested let me know because I am willing.
6. I have an attainable goal to loose 20 pounds this summer and if at all possible I would like to loose 25 pounds. I am well on my way as I have already lost 10 pounds, the easy 10, so all I have to do is loose the other 10-15 pounds. This may not seem like much but these are the hard 10 pounds with the last 5 pounds almost impossible, at least for me.

There you have it my goals for this summer, not as ambitious as little sis but they should get me back in shape.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Biking Part 1

I'm not so sure about all this biking anymore. I started off wanting to ride a bike to get in better shape and maybe extend my life by a couple of more minutes but I think the bike might kill me before I get in shape.

Let's roll back to this last Sunday when the weather finally cooperated and the temperature got up to a balmy 50 degrees. We still had plenty of snow blocking the bike paths so I decided to go for a spin on some side streets between Sheboygan Falls and Kohler. It all started off nice and pleasant, I was hitting cruising speeds of 14-15 MPH on nice flat streets. I rolled through an industrial complex peppered with small business (the most noteworthy one was Jiffy, the makers of ice augers for ice fishing) and then I rolled through some residential neighborhoods. It is hard to tell when you actually enter into the village of Kohler because where Falls stops Kohler starts.

Both are nice little towns and both appear to be great places to raise a family. A lot of the houses I cruised by were brick built from 1600 to 2000 square feet in size and well kept. It was hard to tell if the lawns and landscaping are neatly taken care of because snow still covered most of the yards.

I wasn't sure how far I was going to ride on Sunday but I had a goal of 10 miles. One mile rolled by quickly and I was feeling pretty good. After the second mile I was starting to think "Okay this isn't to bad today maybe I will shoot for 15 to 20 miles." The third mile went by and by the fourth mile I found myself parked out in front of the Kohler plant. If you are not familiar with Kohler they make toilets, sinks, generators and small engines. I was still feeling pretty good so I thought I would take a ride down a dead end road that eventually leads to one of the Kohler family's golf courses, they have several and not all in this country. It was a nice ride down a hill and alongside the golf course until you end up at a gate and driveway leading back to a private club. The problem with nice rides down a hill is eventually you have to come back up a hill. This wasn't a real bad hill as hills go but none the less it made me work. Once back on top of the hill I was a little more tired but still ready to ride my 15 miles or so.

At this time I was 6 miles into my ride and like I said still feeling pretty good. I decided to make a left turn and roll on past the Kohler's homes and horse stables. This was my first tactical mistake. I knew from driving in a car there was a hill on this road but in a car it never seemed that big. I took off down the road and once again started down a long hill where I never had to peddle and I could hit speeds up to 24 MPH. I did use my brakes because if I didn't I'm not sure how fast I would have gone. But like I mentioned before if you go down a hill somewhere you got to go back up.

As I was approaching the hill I was thinking this can't be to bad I got 27 gears to choose from and one of them should get me up this hill. I hit the hill doing about 15 MPH as the hill gently starts its assent up. After I get about a 1/4 of the way up I was down to 9 MPH and several gears, my legs are starting to ache, and my lungs were gasping for air, oh the hill is getting steeper too. Up the hill I continue down to 6 MPH and a few more gears. I'm not sure how many more gears I can go down but I hope there are a few left. The burn, the burn in the legs, I can't believe they call this exercise and it is suppose to be good for you. I'm 3/4 of the way up and suddenly the hill turns straight up (at least it seemed like it) I'm huffing and puffing, the legs feel like they fell off 50 yards back but I'm not quitting now, dammit I am going to make it without stopping. Those last 50 yards of that hill were torturous, 4 MPH, down to my lowest gear for hill climbing, legs gone, shot, turned to jello, I'm not sure there is enough oxygen in the world to fill my lungs but I am almost there and I won't quit. Finally I clear the mountain summit, paramedics to the left of me just waiting for me to fall over. But not today boys I came, I saw and I conquered, go find someone else and save their life today.

I can't tell you the relief I felt as I cleared the top of the hill and started coasting towards Sheboygan Falls downtown area picking up speed the entire distance. Picking up speed? But I'm not even peddling, that means......I must be going down another hill! Sh!t. At least it is a long gently hill and I can coast for about 1/2 mile or so. Once I reach the bottom there is a park off to the right where I can stop and catch a breather or two and let my legs catch up to me.

I wondered over to the falls area of the river and watched hundreds or thousands of gallons water go over the falls. Water falls always amaze me, the sound, the sight of rainbows, and the power they generate. I don't know what it is about water falls but I can watch water flow over them for hours.

By this time I am about 10 miles into my ride, tired and ready to go home, the hell with 15-20 miles. I knew I had one more hill to conquer and it is a long hill but I knew it wouldn't be near as steep as the last one I just went up. None the less I wasn't looking forward to it but what choice did I have?

It wasn't long and I started up the hill. I took my time not because I wanted too but because the hill made me. My legs were still aching from the last hill climb but once again I was not stopping until I was in front of my garage or I fell off my bike. I finally made it over the top of that hill, barely moving, but still it qualifies because I never stopped. From here it is about a one mile ride to home so I took my time for the rest of the ride.

Once I arrived back at home I put the bike in the garage and started the long, long walk to my apartment. My legs were tired and I wasn't sure I would make it. Once inside I poured myself a cold glass of water and immediately got on Craigslist and put my bike up for sale. Just kidding.

Well there you have it my first time out on my new bike, 11.8 miles, 9.8 MPH average, 2 long hills with one being very steep, and two very tired legs. From what I understand biking 4 miles is equivalent to running 1 mile so that means I ran the equivalent of 3 miles, not to bad for an old man.

Monday I rode another 6 miles and my legs still were pretty tired so I skipped Tuesday night. I rode last night just over 11 miles with a couple of hills thrown in there and my legs felt a lot better, I think I might be making progress.

That's how I'm rolling this spring and I will be sure to keep everybody up to date as the year goes on.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dinner or Disaster?

Dinner or disaster? What a great idea and I have been waiting for a couple of weeks to do my first one. Why was I waiting? I was waiting for peej to come over spring break so he could either enjoy it with me or watch me throw it into the trash. What will it be? Let's find out.

This months recipe was Rigatoni with Spicy Sausage-Tomato Sauce, Arugula and Parmesan. And just in case you forgot the ingredients they are as follows:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 pounds fresh hot Italian sausages, casings removed
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree
8 ounces rigatoni
2 cups (packed) fresh arugula, stemmed
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

I won't go into all the details of the hows and whys but if you want them you can hop on over to either Dirt Road Girl or Don't Blink blog read all about the recipe there.

We, I am talking about myself and peej, followed the recipe pretty much as is except we used Rotoni pasta (because I already had it)and we added 2 tablespoons of butter in the end to cut the acidity from the tomatoes. Unlike big sis I was able to fine fresh arugula, thank you Whole Foods.


I also used hot italian sausage and I even found a dry red wine to use again thank you Whole Foods.

It sure did smell good while it was cooking but will it taste as good as it smells? It certainly was a colorful recipe.


Big sis didn't give this a very good rating but I got to tell you I gave is a 4 out of 5 forks. Peej is giving it a 3.75 forks out of 5 after the initial cooking and a 4 out of 5 as leftovers. I think the difference was in the arugula, it definitely gave it a different flavor.


Overall I have to call it a dinner and yes I would make it again. I think I might change a couple of things with it but overall I was pleased.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Time to Get Back At It

It's about time I get back at this posting stuff again. I'm not sure what I have been doing for the last month but I have been busy. It seems by the time I get done with whatever I am doing for the night it is 9:00 to 9:30PM and by that time I really don't feel like posting.

I have a few post I need to catch up on like one about stem cells. I have been doing a lot of research regarding stem cells and I will post my thoughts and what I have learned in the near future, besides I promised little sis I would do so. I have another post about caring for cast iron pans I want to do. I even have the pictures taken already, all I need to do is write the damn thing. If you follow my simple directions for caring for cast iron you will never go back to anything remotely resembling teflon. The other upside is you will never have to buy another set of cookware ever again and neither will your children or grandchildren.

I also have several meals to post for my Jocks Good Grub blog. Even though I haven't been posting I haven't stopped cooking.

But what have I been up to? Well as most of you know the wife recently moved back to Virgina and I have been looking in that area for a new job or possibly go back to the old job I had there a year ago. The only problem is the economy isn't cooperating right now so things are a little slow. For now I will be staying in Wisconsin until something opens up. My guess it will be anywhere from 6 months to a year before I will move back to Arlington but with the stock market going downhill by the day I might take a bit longer.

With the wife out of my hair, opps I mean gone, I am living in the big farm house all by myself now so I decided to do a Shae and move to a new 2 bedroom apartment. For the last 2 weeks I have been busy driving around, calling and looking at apartments. Peej doesn't know it yet but "we" are moving next week while he is here. The new apartment is located in Sheboygan Falls and about a 10 mile drive to work. The reason I picked this apartment is easy drive to work (all x-way), located on the first floor so I can grill out on the lawn, garage, washer and dryer, and the heat is included in the rent. Its got one of those new fancy names, Parc Falls, the apartment manager seems pretty nice, and it's an end apartment closest to the woods. The last reason I picked it was it is located about a 1/4 of a mile from the local bike trail. This bike trail is paved, rated as moderate (because it is fairly hilly from beginning to end) and runs for 21 miles. I think it starts at Lake Michigan (I will find out for sure in a couple of weeks when the snow is gone) and ends in Glennbulah which is west of Plymouth 5 miles or so.

The astute observer might be thinking right now "If he lives 1/4 mile from a bike trail and talking about a bike trail he must of broke down and bought a bike." Well if that is what you are thinking, and even if you're not, that is exactly what I did. I have been researching bikes and looking at bikes since last year. This winter I finally decided it was time and I was going to buy a bike and get back into shape. While you can get into shape by walking I prefer the bike because you can go so much further and see so much more. I bought a Trek Hybrid after much research and bike reviews. I looked at some others like a Felt bike and Specialize bikes. I read a lot of good things about the Felt bikes but there aren't near as many dealerships as Trek bikes. I would have really like to buy the Specialize bike but I could not find many reviews on their bikes and the ones I did find only gave mixed reviews. I was surprised to find just about as many dealerships for Specialize bikes as Trek but in the end the Trek bike won out.

Most of you are probably familiar with hybrid style of bikes but if you're not just think of a road bike and a mountain bike cross. The frame and gearing is more like a road bike while the handle bars are more like a mountain bike. The tires while fatter than a road bike still have tread like a road bike. They are built to roll down the road with less effort than a mountain bike but still are able to go off road as long as the surface is somewhat hard pack. They are not built for soft dirt or sand but let's not forget I am 50 years old and I have no use for that kind of riding anyway.

My goal for now is to ride the trail by my new apartment from beginning to end and back, a total of 42 miles, by the end of May. I realize for some of you this might not seem much but for me sitting around here all winter doing just about nothing I have to start small. Once I conquer that there are several bike trails located throughout Wisconsin I want to give a try. One trail runs from Green Bay to Wausau, about 60 miles one way, and I want to conquer it this summer. There is another one that starts in Fond Du Lac and runs about 25 to 30 miles mainly through a swamp. And the last one I want to ride starts in western Wisconsin and finishes up on the Mississippi River.

It's also time to "FIRE UP THE GRILL!!!!" Yes I have been grilling, I got tired of waiting for warm weather so I said the heck with it and started grilling. I have already burned through more than 30 pounds of charcoal this year. Grilled bbq chicken, ribs, and steaks have all been on the menu so far. I think I finally figured out my bbq sauce and all the credit goes to my 3rd grade teacher. I have tried and tried to make an apple flavored bbq sauce for the last couple of years with little or no success. Last fall when ma and her friend, who just happens to be my third grade teacher, visited for some strange reason I was talking to her about making bbq sauce. I told her I read somewhere if you use apple butter to make the sauce it will come out much better than trying apple juice or cider. Well believe it or not she just happens to make apple butter every year so guess what I got around Christmas time? Yep, apple butter, homemade apple butter and believe me it makes great bbq sauce. Once I learn how to can I am going to make a large batch and then I can share it with everyone else.

Well there you have it, it might not seem like much but it has kept me busy for the last month or so.

If anyone thinks they might want to visit Wisconsin this summer bring your bike and bring an appetite. I'll guarantee you will get your exercise and you will leave with your bellies full.

And I will try to keep this up to date a little more in the future.