Tag Archives: cycling

It Would Have Been Positive

I took the cub scouts on a bike hike on a Midewin prairie trail that was a little overgrown. Four days prior when I confirmed the suitability of the trail for bikers as young as 7 years old, I figured the excessive weeds lining the limestone trail would just enhance the rugged ambiance. I underestimated the weeds or the weather or both.

We received 3.9 inches of rain the night before the hike. I assume the weeds succumbed to the rain because they were bent over the trail. While this may not mean much to you, I’ve neglected to mention that these weeds are actually giant ragweed. I’m not even using ‘giant’ as an exaggeration. That is their actual name. Giant ragweed grows to be 8 + feet tall.

20120905-100311.jpgPhoto from University of Illinois Extension/Lyle Paul show casing 11 feet tall Giant Ragweed

So when I say that weeds were bent over the trail, it was so bad that we really should have used machetes to get through. I went first, forcing myself and my bike to break through the overlapping stalks. I tried to push back the weeds as much as I could.

Fortunately, about 100 yards into the trail the weeds receded allowing the kids to actually ride a couple of miles. Then the giant ragweed was pleasant to have around because it provided endless shade on a treeless trail on a hot August evening. The challenging trail became fun. The kids were excited to ride farther and farther.

20120905-094003.jpgCheck out the shade!

Too soon, I had to turn us back because I had developed massive hives from armpit to wrist, was sneezing endlessly, and was told my face was all blotchy. Luckily, I was still breathing at the end of the ride, and I was the only one in a pack of 14 that reacted so quickly to the giant ragweed.

Every year growing up, my mom would try to convince me to have an allergy scratch test so that we could resolve my itchy eyes and endless sneezes but I stubbornly refused believing that an allergy test would only elevate my sensitivity to 100 million things in my environment? (I started my hypochondriac career at an early age). I’m pretty sure it would have been positive for ragweed.

20120905-094404.jpg Henslow Trail at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Objects are bigger than they appear.


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Filed under cycling, exercise, Lessons learned

Let’s Go Fly A Kite

We’ve been under siege from blustery winds for the last several days. Fortunately, we didn’t fall under tornado like other unfortunate towns. I am thankful for that.

Saturday, I planned to take the Cub Scouts (and willing family members) for a 7 mile bike hike along the Wauponsee Glacial Trail where we would end at the Kankakee River to be picked up by non-riding family members. I once ran a half marathon on this trail. I was very excited about taking the scouts on the trail, but I fretted over the weather for 10 days. When 1 PM rolled around, the winds picked up and the gusts started to blow the boys around. The problem was that these blustery winds were coming from the exact direction we were headed into.

Scratch that plan. The scouts wouldn’t have made it a half mile against that wind let alone 7 miles. We shortened the trip to 5 miles, put the wind at our backs, and headed north on the trail instead. Those kids pedal led their little hearts out. What a great time but all were happy to see the finish line.


Ironically, a month ago, a scout leader planned to fly kites on our regular meeting night this week. Now, we were worried the winds would carry the boys off with the kites. All day the winds were 24 mph with gusts as high as 36 mph. The wind advisory was scheduled to end a half hour before the meeting.

More ironically, as soon as the advisory was over, the wind was so dead it could barely be considered a breeze. We had to run the whole length of the field to get the kites to fly at all.

“Hey, are you supposed to be running in that boot?” I was asked.
“No, but the doc didn’t say anything about flying kites,” I called back.

We sprinted up and down that field for an hour having a complete blast. Two hours earlier, I had to scream at the soccer team just to get them to jog. Now, I was looking at a field full of boys begging for me to untangle their lines so they could run some more. The kites soaring higher and, really, not high at all.


Need a little variety in your runs? Need to do speed intervals. Try flying kites on a zero breeze day. Put play into your run because it’s a super smiley way to run.

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Filed under cycling, injury, running

Open Letter to The Fat Cyclist

Dear Fatty,

As any good fan would do, I must start out by telling you that I love your blog and I have been reading it for years. Today’s post, is, of course, brilliant, and the format is strangely familiar. I am sure as a beloved celebrity ultra-megastar hall-of-fame, social media, and lifetime-achievement, award-winning, cycling comedy, blogging sensation all while being incredibly handsome (Stanley Tucci has nothing on you), you tire of being hounded by the press and in the endless spot light but you’re always generous to your fans and never tire of their adoration or fan mail, right? I agree that you believe you may be the best cyclist in the world. I have learned that not only are you all these things that I (you) said, you are also wise, nay, a genius, or better a wise genius which is significantly better than being a wise guy, such as Stanley Tucci has been.

The point is that I am a Cub Scout leader. I have a responsibilty to teach my cub scouts the proper way to do things so that they can move on to Boy Scouts where they will put in practice their motto “Be Prepared.” Thank you, by the way, for teaching me the true secret motto which explains why my oldest son, who will graduate to a Boy Scout at the end of the month, went to school today sporting singed eyebrows. At first, I thought it was a new fashion trend and then I remembered your post, realizing it must be the result of the secret test to join the Boy Scout troop.

Back to my point, in a couple of weeks, I will be taking my Cub Scouts on a bike hike. But, before we go, I need teach them a few things about preparing for the trip, such as, bicycle maintenance and packing provisions. Although I competed in your 2010 100 Miles of Nowhere and won the Category for Recreational cyclist with 7 year old tag along on a 2 blocks course, I am, unfortunately, a novice cyclist with nary a clue what to do with a bicycle besides pedal.

Would you, please, help me?

I was so delighted to easily recall your post discussing the most important provisions for a bike hike. I understand the need for several of the items such as duct tape (sometimes it is hard to control those boys) and aersol cheese (yum) but why would I need to take a bike tube? My bike already has a tube, in the wheel, all blown up already. What would I do with an extra bike tube with no air on the trail?

Another great lesson for my Cub Scouts stems from the follow up post on proper cycling etiquette. I’m not sure what you mean by letting them catch up. Isn’t it better to get back to the car with enough time to eat that roasted chicken and have a nap?

With all the information you have provided already, it seems ungrateful to ask for more, but, I just couldn’t locate a good post on bicycle maintenance. You do do maintenance, don’t you?

I look forward to learning from you. Again.

Thank you,

edit: if you like this post you really need to read The Fat Cyclist. Fatty perfected the form.


Filed under cycling