Pedaling to work

The last time I biked to work, Bush 41 was in the White House. Hillary’s husband, who would come next, was still an obscure governor of a Southern backwater. It was the early 1990s and I was working for a large power company in Brunswick.

From my home in Durham, the ride took just over an hour. Luckily, my employer had a locker room with two showers. I developed a routine of bringing clothes to change into the day before and kept a few other supplies in a locker to dress for work.

Six weeks ago, I accepted a position with a local credit union. They have a branch in Topsham, 12 miles from my house. On my first day, during the tour, I noticed a downstairs locker room and shower. I said to the branch manager, “I’m going to have to bike into work some day.”

Today is finally “bike to work day.” I’m kind of excited. I’ve had to wait ‘til now for a number of reasons, including afternoon and early evening commitments that prevented me from being able to meander back home following work.

I had to do some thinking about it and some pre-planning. A week ago Saturday, I even pre-rode the route, which is a different one than the one I normally take in the car. It’s slightly longer (just over 16 miles). The bike route takes me through Brunswick, a bicycle-friendly community with a designated bike route. In essence, a bike-friendly designation provides a welcoming environment for people on bikes. This is accomplished through providing safe accommodations for bicycling and by encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation. It allows cyclists an environment that’s safe, comfortable, and convenient for all ages and abilities. Bike-friendly, or not, biking in traffic during rush-to-work time requires vigilance and some experience riding in traffic.

Keeping to the bike route.

Keeping to the bike route.

Continue reading

From the Bike Seat

On Sunday, I was out biking around Massachusetts, and even up into New Hampshire, part of the Bicycles Battling Cancer (BBC) ride, which was staged from Hillside School, in Marlborough, Massachusetts. A fun time was had by all, or most of the riders, save for some Monday aches and soreness from riding anywhere from 30 to 100 miles.

Mary and I opted for the 70-mile leg, which today feels just about right. I’m sore, and a bit tired, but am grateful that I was able to help in some small way the battle against the scourge of cancer. I’m also appreciative of those who helped me double my fundraising total of $300. Stay tuned, as I want to give a public shout out to all of you later in this post.

Marlborough is like many places I’ve dropped in on in Massachusetts, always passing through. If all you ever do is drive to Boston, or blow through the state via the many interstates criss-crossing The Commonwealth, then you’d think the state is nothing but one big strip of convenience stores, strip malls, and business parks—and much of Massachusetts consists of these things.

The best part of BBC, save for the underlying purpose, was getting out on my bike and seeing things that you’d never experience from interstates like I-495, or I-290. Even better, biking slows travel down to where you actually notice things on the side of the road and can begin to assemble a different narrative, recognizing that Massachusetts is more than simply Boston, or Worcester, or even Cape Cod. Continue reading

Battling Bicycles

Bicycling is one of the three elements comprising a triathlon. Usually, the bike event follows the swim, and precedes the run.

Travel by bike seems just about the right speed. You can get from A to B in a reasonable amount of time, compared to walking or running. Pedal power only seems subpar because of our addiction to high-powered gasoline engines that allow us to hurry about going nowhere. When you bike somewhere, you actually notice things on the side of the road. Plus, it’s great exercise.

This spring, I’m not doing a triathlon. It’s the first time in three years that I’m not training for a June tri. I’ve decided to ride 70 miles on June 12 instead, taking part in Bicycles Battling Cancer, in Marlborough, Massachusetts. My fundraising goal is $300, with donations supporting the American Cancer Society. I’ve reached the goal and am hoping to push it to $600, which would be double my requirement. Here is my donor page if you’d like to donate.

Spring has been packed with baseball games, and other assorted duties related to “making a living,” whatever the hell that means. I haven’t been able to bike as much as usual and certainly not as much as I like to.

Slowly, but surely, my mileage has been increasing. I rode 30 miles in the rain this morning following an early morning swim. I thought the showers would hold off and to be honest, had hoped to hit the 40-mile mark on my training ride. If you’ve ever been drenched, you know that it’s no fun. I plan to get out this weekend for a couple more rides. Once I’m at 40, I feel confident that 70 won’t be a big deal.

Bicycles love smooth, new blacktop.

Bicycles love smooth, new blacktop.

Continue reading

Put It in the Books

I have continued setting goals that stretch, and force me outside of my comfort zone. This is all part of continuing down the road that runs through reinvention and beyond. Some of these recent goals have really pushed me physically. Others involve continuing growing as a writer, another goal I set for myself a decade ago.

On Sunday, I completed my first Olympic triathlon. That’s something I had planned to accomplish last year, but a bike accident in early August derailed my plans. My wife, Mary, was even more amazing—she rocked her first half Rev—doubling my distances on the bike and in the run, and going .3 miles further on the swim.

The number tattoos have been applied--Rev3 2014.

The number tattoos have been applied–Rev3 2014.

Training began for me back in February. I remember my first tentative run at the Bath Y. I was happy that I ran 21 minutes on the indoor track without pain, as I was trying to push beyond a time in the fall when I couldn’t run at all due to excruciating left hip pain. Continue reading

Slowing Down the Aging Process

Becoming a triathlete was a positive step for me. I was simply following my wife’s lead. Mary launched a brand new fitness/exercise chapter in her own life, five years ago, when a group of co-workers competed in the Pirate Tri that year at Point Sebago.

Two years ago, she began training with a group of women called sheJAMs. I can say that this has changed her life in a positive way.

Last year, because I decided to stop making excuses, I became a swimmer, long after old dogs learn new tricks. Swimming is something I have come to appreciate and even enjoy. It’s a fitness activity I should be able do for the rest of my life that’s also good for me.

My first Pirate Tri in 2013 was just about finishing. This year, I was hoping to improve on my time. Continue reading

Back from Collapse

It felt good to run this morning. Yes, it was cold and I didn’t wear gloves. The cold, crisp October air, rushing into my lungs reminded me again that the road back from my accident in August has been slower than I anticipated. That’s when I tumbled off my bike and all the training that commenced back in January got put on hold.

I didn’t think it would take nearly three months to get back to where I was before I cracked a rib and punctured my lung on August 5th. It’s been a slow, uphill climb, but I’m really close to being able to do everything that I had been doing prior to crashing my bike that Monday night after work. Continue reading

Revving It Up

After crashing my bike and getting knocked down a peg, I’m back on “the horse” and I’ll be riding the bicycle leg for Team Baumer in this morning’s REV3 Maine Triathlon 2013.

My wife, Mary, completed all three events last year. I was totally impressed at the way REV3 puts on a triathlon party. I caught the fever last August, and wanted to join my lovely wife in doing a tri. There was just one problem—I couldn’t swim. Not a problem. If you’re willing to humble yourself and believe that old dogs can learn new tricks, you can do amazing things. Continue reading

Reggie Black Rehab

My sister is a blogging machine. At some point during the time that the two of us went through a rough patch and didn’t speak for a period of time (I’m sure the reasons were stupid, at least on my side of the ledger), she decided to become a blogger and she’s been blogging with gusto ever since.

Julie-Ann’s a terrific writer and I enjoy reading her posts about her life, her love of gardening and growing things, as well as local matters. Occasionally, we write parallel posts, usually by accident, although now that we communicate regularly and ruminate on the ways of the world, there are certain themes that are apt to cycle through our posts. Continue reading

Maybe I’ll Get Training Wheels

Four years ago, I had a nasty bike accident. I went over the handlebars on a road with broken pavement and I now have a scar on my chin that I cover with a goatee.

What mitigated the damage of that crash was being properly outfitted; the gloves I was wearing saved severe hand abrasions when I planted before hitting my chin. I was wearing a helmet that day and I always do when cycling/biking.

Hundreds of miles later and a few minor mishaps, I had another accident last night. Continue reading

Beyond Barriers

Learning to swim like a fish.

Learning to swim like a fish.

In February, I decided to become a swimmer. My goal was a simple one, really—to swim well enough to complete the swim portion of a sprint triathlon in June.  While the goal was simple in the setting of it, the mechanics in reaching it were more complex.

If you’ve been following my quest, you know that I was successful. I completed the Pirate Tri on June 9, at Point Sebego. The swim portion was actually easier than I imagined that it would be. Continue reading