If you have any questions just ask below!
Keep on rolling,
Big Boned Biker
Sitting by the fire, the smoke is in my eyes. My oldest son is falling asleep in the tent, with the stars above him to watch. I originally left him at home, and that was a big mistake! I told myself, it will be nice to be away, but I missed his company. I don’t know why I can’t express it better, sometimes I just get so fed up with him! As we walked in the moonlight tonight, to go listen to the frogs in he pond, I told him he is my camping buddy, and he said daddy your my camping buddy. I can’t promise I won’t ever camp without him, but I won’t let weather, attitude, or thinking I want solitude, keep me from bringing him with me.
Thinking back when I was a kid, this was always what I wanted, quality one on one time with my dad. Unfortunately, and to no fault to him, that never happened. My dad isn’t the outdoors type, and I don’t fault him for it, when I was younger I was taken away to live with my mom. My mom was bed ridden so the closest we ever got to camping was with my brother in the back yard. That trip ended shortly due to pitching our tents on a red ants nests.
I think it was tv that made me want to go camping, it showed fathers and son bounding in the great outdoors. I wasn’t close to my dad when I was young, and he make role models in my life were abusive. I felt that if we went camping, my world would be better. I remember being very young and at a campmeeting, an SDA church annual event, and we were in a camping tent. Though I don’t thing we had any campfires, and I remember being bit to death by buggies.
It is funny that the person whom I’ve bonded most with over a fire is my stepmom. Though she is just mom to me. I remember after I moved up to Wisconsin, some of my best days were spent in front if a fire, with her reading books to us. Yes I was a teenager, so what? Fires were a bounding time, even to this day, we are twin “pyros” when ever we get the chance.
Now I am thirty, I have two boys of my own, and what better way to bond with my own boys, then through the mystical flames of a campfire?
Lil BBB 1 and lil BBB 2, we are camping buddies for life!
Keep on rolling,
Big boned biker
It was 4:30am and I had only had about 3 hours sleep, but I didn’t have time to worry about that, after all it was THE day! Both boys were asleep so I decided to get everything ready and loaded up before waking them. Here is my packing list:
Cell Phone Cord
Spare Clothes(For my wife’s car)
Water Bottles X 4
A lot to bring, but luckily my Kitty Litter Panniers were up to the task, and with everything loaded up, breakfast eaten(Oatmeal, banana, and yogurt), I roused the troops! I needed to be at the starting point by 6am, and wanted to leave the house by 5:30. The ride there was pretty smooth sailing with a quick stop for an energy drink, we arrived about 6:10. I got a good luck kiss from everyone and rode over to the registration area.
As I looked around I noticed this was NOT the WHAM Ride, everyone had some serious bikes and were dressed in full kits. Check in went smoothly, though I ordered the wrong size shirt, I really should have gone with the 1xl not the 2xl. I was also handed a 10 million page cue sheet with complicated directions that had me going cross-eyed. I tried to talk to some folks around me but wasn’t having much luck, so I pulled out my “can you take a picture” opening line.
That worked and soon I had struck up a conversation with a nice lady from Chicago, she was training for an Iron-Man event and this was simply a training ride for her. I also spoke with a guy who was on a recumbent, but I seemed to be annoying him. Finally I started chatting with 3 older guys, though I was more listening as I didn’t have much to add to the conversation.
Tick Tock, Tick Tock, the time is now 7 o’clock! 15 short and awkward minutes later the briefing started. I was relieved to find out the path was marked with spray paint, and that the cue sheet were for a back up system(or in case you get lost). We were also told about the “sweeper” Beth, who is the last rider and we needed to stay ahead of her if we were going to finish. Suddenly it was over and it was time to ride, the thoughts going through my head ranged from “WOOT!” to “How the HELL am I going to be able to do THIS?!?”. I had decided before hand that I would need to pace myself, despite wanting to go full bore with the rest of them, I held back to a 12mph pace.
ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM, people were passing me quick. I was worried I would be seeing Beth soon, when I looked over and saw a lady next to me about the same pace! I had noticed her reflector on the front, it was huge and she rode a vintage style road bike, so I started talking with her. We will call her Bell, since she was from Belfast, Ireland. She, like myself, was worried about being able to complete the ride. As we rode along together we seemed to be becoming friends, and the talking helped take my mind off the big task ahead.
On our way to the first rest stop, we made our first of many wrong turns, this one under a bridge, luckily we noticed it quickly and were able to get back on track(along with the 3 other riders who were following us). The adventure was only beginning though, as we soon found ourselves near the Shedd Aquarium, and a 10k race being run! It was right in our path, and we didn’t want to try and find a different route(which would have ended poorly). So not only did I do a tri-state ride, I also did a 10k race..it counts right? I tried to shout encouragement to the folks running, but in retrospect I think I came off more as an ass. The one downside to this was that our average speed plummeted down to 9.8 from 12mph! I needed to try and make some time up, or it was going to be a close call for the finish, as I figured my avg would drop more as I got to the end.
This is my riding buddy Bell!
The first rest stop was nice, hit the bathroom and ate PB&J number 1, wish I would have grabbed a picture of the peanut butter gun. My goal was to only spend 15 min per rest stop, and made it out right on schedule. Minus a bit of confusion on where to actual go, it was pretty uneventful, not! It was such an awesome experience riding along the shore through Chicago!! With the beaches full of people, the street musicians and just the scenery, it created the perfect amalgamation. I was a bit sad when we started heading out to the suburban areas, but we had to keep moving forward!
We arrived at the second stop doing well, but ready for a quick stretch, and PB & J 2. So I have a habit of talking peoples ears off, I sometimes come off a bit strong and I was worried about this with Bell. I asked her if she wanted to keep riding with me, and she did, which worked out nicely. It was around this stop we picked up a new friend, “Fixie”, the guy who was ballsy enough to ride a fix gear through 3 states! It was nice to add to the group, and I enjoyed getting to talk to him. It was funny that his bike was green and blue, and my outfit matched it nearly dead on.
As we biked on, I made it a point to drink my fluids, mixed with a Gatorade solution(I went weaker with it as to strong makes me sick when I am riding), and I also tried to eat something every 10 miles or so, doing this kept me feeling fresh for the majority of the day. As we went toward the third rest stop, we hit long stretches of straight roads, it kept making me wonder if we were going the right direction. The nice part of this was, it let us make up a bit of time that Chicago cost us. When we hit the third stop our avg was up around 10.5mph. We did end up on a bike path for awhile and right before the rest stop there was a steep decent, short but like this “ \ “. I almost wiped out at the bottom of it as I turned. I went back up to the top of it to make sure this was the right direction. It turned out we just need to go straight and as I put my foot down to turn my bike around I over stretched and had a sharp pain going up my leg. I was really worried that this might be the end of my ride, it hurt. I kept riding though and was able to stretch it out at the rest stop. The things that sucked about this stop was that not only were the bathrooms locked, they were out of water!! People might make fun of me for carrying 4 bottles of water, but guess who has thumbs and still had 2 fresh bottles left? Yup, this guy! I added some mix to them and ate PB & J , and we headed out after 10 min.
We are over half way at this point, and I am excited for our next stop, this one was only 10 miles away, but would place me at my furthest distance to date! It also was my scheduled 30min lunch break too. I was wondering why it was only 10 miles away, but noticed that the terrain was slowly starting to change. Instead of FLAT were getting some small hills, nothing that really registered as a BBBEH(Big Bad Biker Eating Hill), though it would have in the past. After a few more wrong turns, one down a gravely bike path, and a few right ones, we find ourselves on a nice path. It was here that I noticed something, I am feeling good! I decided to kick things up a notch, and for the next few miles we were hitting speeds up to 19.5 mph! Sadly this was when we lost Fixie, but it is hard to hit speed on a single gear bike. Now he only reason we slowed down was due to the path ending, and needing to go on more winding and involved directions. In short order we arrive at rest stop number 4, this would be the last one till Kenosha. Here they had a hot dog place, ice cream place, and a deli! YUM! I decided though that I would eat PB & J 4 instead, and I am proud of that choice. I had been planing on a nice brat and ice cream cone for weeks, it sounded sooo good, but I knew for myself it was a bad choice. I would be left craving more, and I didn’t want that. I filled up my bottles and was getting ready to leave, when one of the other riders mentioned the lost their water bottle. Again, having 4 bottles comes in handy, and I was happy to loan her one of mine.
We had to choices on this final segment, a gravel bike path which would be a couple of miles shorter, or a road path that while longer, was also smoother. We talked it over briefly but we both agreed that the road would be the best way to go. Shortly after leaving we hit a BBBEH, well really this was a bridge, but it was a big one. I wasn’t 100% sure I was going to make it up, but luckily I packed that last item on my list! The great part though was that right after this was another hill! I ducking love hills! Not really, but that is what I tell myself as I am climbing them. I pushed deep and even passed someone(a stick as my friend “kool-aid” would say), and made it to the top. The guy I passed was part of a group of 3 guys, a father and his 2 grown sons, and we soon were riding with them. They had done this ride before, but had always taken the bike path. It was different riding with them, they called out every car they saw, even when it wasn’t in the way. Nothing wrong with this, just caught me off guard. I also noticed they all had helmet mounted mirrors, I asked them about them and I think it is something I might look into in the future. They really liked the fact that it was ALWAYS in view so no need to strain at funny angles to see it, even when going into the drops.
I took off after awhile, and found myself all alone. I was getting hungry but since I was close to the finish line I decided to not eat. I wanted to save those points for a yummy dinner after all! The more I rode on though, the more the miles kept rolling, the hungry I was getting. I soon found myself rolling to a stop, I was done, I couldn’t go on anymore. I had gotten in my 80 miles, so I felt like it wasn’t a failure. That thought ended quickly though, I pulled out a snack, drank some more water(though I was getting low), and felt refreshed. I pushed on, not as hard or as fast as I was, but still moving! I had finally hit Kenosha! I wasn’t at the end though, I passed a spot I was certain was the end but was wrong…was there an end? At this point I figured it out, I must have taken a wrong turn! Great, how long had I been going in the wrong direction??? I pulled out my cue sheet and found out that I was in fact on course, I just needed to keep going. Isn’t that a lot like life? We think we are going in the wrong direction, things are going horrible, but the reality is we just need to push on a bit further down the the road!
Refreshed, on course, it was time to go into drive mode, I plodded along, not worried about the mileage just enjoying the town. I went through some of the “down town” area, with its shops, and even saw a bride and groom getting photos done( I shouted out a giant CONGRATS, as I went pass them). I soon saw it, the mystical and mysterious ending point! YES!!!! I DID IT!!!!! I survived, and not only that, I had ridden 89 miles(My longest to date!!!)! Later that night my wife asked me if I can believe I started the morning in Indiana and BIKED all the way to Wisconsin? My response was, NOPE! It still is sinking in that I did it, and the best part is I know I can do a century. If I had stopped for a quick rest, another 10 would have been easy to do. I forgot to take note of the time that it was but, it was about 4:30, and an official riding time of 8:11:27. I didn’t get a chance to go in the lake as my oldest boy wasn’t feeling well and we needed to leave. Next year though!
Also, Bell finished as well! She is putting together a video, and I am hoping to be able to share that with you all soon!
Some finish line photos thanks to Mrs. BBB!
I am looking forward to next years already, and even more rides! I am not wasting my 30’s! If you are thinking of doing something like this, I highly recommend you do it! Sign up and force yourself to do it, you might just surprise yourself….
Keep On Rolling,
Big Boned Biker
Almost forgot, here is more information if you are interested.
Bicycle Illinois Tri-State Bike Ride: http://www.bicycleillinois.com/tristatetour/tristatetour.htm
Cell Phone Holder Review
Delta Smartphone Caddy
I looked far and wide for a cell phone holder for my bike, I finally settled on one from amazon, only to discover that it would take 1-2 MONTHS to get. Instead, I decided to go to my local bike shop, Bucks Bicycle, and see what they would have. What they showed me was this item, and my first thought was this is junk! It looks like it will send my phone flying over the first bump I hit, but he was willing to open it up and let me put my phone in it.
I slipped my phone in, still in it’s otter box commuter case, and it actually felt secure! It still felt like cheap plastic, so I gave it a good wild shake. I expected my phone to go flying, and of course I was wrong, it stayed put, not moving at all. The price was right on point with Amazon, and I had another item to buy anyways, so I bought it. Instillation was pretty straight forward, and I mounted it right on my stem cap.
My first real test came when I took an off road trail, full of holes, water, brush and just plan nasty. I am happy to report, and you will be happy to hear, it didn’t move! The only things I would change about it are the color and I wish it would enclose for rain.
Quality: I would give it a B, still feels really cheap and I do wonder how it would handle a crash.
Ease of use:Very easy to use, and comes with pads to adjust for the thickness of your phone. They also sell another size for smaller phones
Durability: B so far it has proven it can hold a phone, but long term has yet to be seen.
Value: A, great price for a great phone holder! I highly recommend you pick this up, and if you use the link at the top you would be even more awesome!
WHAM! Not just a cool sound from batman! It is the Whiting-Hammond After Midnight bike ride, and I am proud to say I did it. I signed up last minute for it, but thanks to a new friend it was a blast. Let me set the scene for you, it is dark, lots of bike, and 30 miles of open road!
I am really grateful for my friend inviting me to it, it really showed me how much I can push myself. I typically have been riding at about 12mph, but that night we were coming in close to 15 avg(and up at 18-19mph at times). It was such a unique experience and I hope my story can help others give it a try.
First off, we showed up early, right when registration was starting at about 9:30PM. I had been up since about a bit before 7am and was running on about 5 hours of sleep, always a great combo night and lack of sleep. We get registration out of the way, and look to go around and mingle, the only issue is that everyone is acting like it is high school. Everyone was simply hanging out in their clique and that was a bit disappointing. They had a DJ but the music was way to loud, and while a few good songs played, most of them were crap. Luckily we didn’t come for the music, right?
We had so much time to kill that we decided to go do a warm up ride, nothing crazy just a nice slow pace. I was later to find out that I worried my riding buddy a bit, he was thinking this was going to be high gear for me! We rode down the road trail until it ended in an area that looked kinda “rapey” as my friend put it. We meandered back to the pavilion and I was starting to feel a bit sleepy, though I hoped the excitement of the ride would wake me up a bit. We arrived in time to give us a chance to glo-ify the bikes(next year will be much better)
If I had one suggestion for the ride organizers it would be to figure out starting areas better! They had 3 classes of riders, and they wanted them to start at different times, but they didn’t really have 3 areas. The speedy riders were to go first, the long haulers(30 milers) second, and the short track(10milers) last. We were in the long hauler group, 30 miles of darkness! We were lucky that the weather was so amazing, it made the entire ride more comfortable. As we started out, this being my first organized ride, I realized that it was a bit scary! You have people riding at all different speeds, on many types of bikes, from wal-mart cruisers to high end racers! I even saw a couple of tandem riders to make the mix even more interesting. I followed my friend, who shale here by be referred to as Kool-Aid, and he followed a couple of guys we met in the line up! Sierra Nevada and Red, not their real names of course, but it will make sense at the end. They said they were going to shoot for a 12-13 mph pace, which is close to what we wanted(14ish). I soon found myself not only having to fight through the pack, but also having to deal with everyone’s rear blinker! It was freaking annoying as all get out!
We soon found ourselves pulling away from the pack, but I was very surprised when I noticed we were catching up with the front end of the long haulers! There were “sticks” on nice road bikes that we were leaving behind us, some of them with a shocked look on their face(Kool-Aide and I don’t really look like the type to be passing folks). I would be a lair if I didn’t say I enjoyed that part, just a little bit. There was suppose to be a SAG stop early on, but we never saw it. Our two friends SN and Red soon left us behind, and we settled into a comfortable pace. It was such an amazing experience, and I wish I could have stopped to take some pictures. The world is so different at midnight, ordinary buildings can look nearly magical in the soft glows. My light (http://astore.amazon.com/bigbonbik-20/detail/B00E1NQ3DU) that I brought was working great and ir was kinda neat that Kool-Aide actually had the same one!
We did actually catch up with our ridding buddies at a train crossing, and riding through the streets, owning them as if cars didn’t even exist, was an eye opening experience. How much better would our world be, if we all rode our bikes, or walked, just a little bit more? I want to take a moment and thank the police dept, state troopers, and others, who watched over the roads allowing us to move so freely. It was a comforting feeling knowing that someone had our safety in mind.
Cabela’s was the next scheduled stop and as we saw it up ahead we were ready for a quick break. We get to the corner where we should go straight, only to be met with a guy yelling “TURN RIGHT!”. Turning right, I figure that the SAG stop would be marked up ahead, but as I road further away I noticed that their was no SAG spot. We keep riding, noticing that we are nearly alone on the roads, I think most of the other riders had stopped at the Cabela’s store. Eventually, after about 25 miles we come to a stop! They were handing out water, and we both were getting hungry. Luckily someone had dropped off some food, and we were able to get a quick bite in. Refueled we hit the ground with a nice strong pace. All of a sudden there arose such a clatter, wait wrong story. All of a sudden Red comes up behind us and says “we are on our second lap!”, 12-13 mph my ass! Sierra Nevada soon comes up behind us and they both pass us again. As we roll into the last few turns, I find myself feeling sad that the ride ended so soon. We had only been out for 2 hours and 10 min, and that was including our stop for the train and the break. At least breakfast was waiting for us, hot yummy pancakes and sausage(though some eggs would have been nice).
We meet back up with out new friends and we all sit down to eat, I did find out that they really were NOT on a second lap, they apparently had found the SAG stop at Cabelas. After a few beers, a bit of bike chat and some facebook befriending, we all call it a morning. I slept from 5am till nearly noon, and I have to thank my amazing awesome wife for letting me do this!
I wish I could have written more, but much of that night was a blur. I recommend if you are in the NWI area you try out this ride next year. Event organizers, Beer Tent, Better Starting, and a 50 mile option!
Keep On Rolling,
Big Boned Biker
P.S. Thank you all for staying with me over this long dry spell of blogging.
A bit of a warning, this post may be a trigger for some, and I advise reading at your own risk.
Time for some honesty: I am NOT doing well lately, besides having slow losses, I have been bogged down with depression. I sometimes don’t leave my house for days, and find myself often getting irritated with my kids for no reason. I feel like the worst dad, husband, and just an overall crappy human being. I hate the fact that my meds stop my mood swings, I get stuck in this depressive state and I can’t get out.
I grew up on a roller coaster, never spending to long in one mood. I think it is one of the reasons I have had difficulty making friends, or at least keeping them. I never had to worry about being depressed though, give it a day and I would be right back up. So now, being locked into a dark mood it is getting tiresome. I tried stopping my meds but that wasn’t pretty, and I know if I could just figure out what is going on I would be fine. I keep thinking I found the source of my depression, I fix it, and it doesn’t go away.
I just want to be done with it all…
Here is something I wrote up a few weeks ago, sharing it more for myself than anything. It really describes what I am feeling.
Sometimes our soul ignites with a passion, other times it dwindles to a flame the size of a match head where it goes out in with a wisp of smoke from the once burning light.
I wish I knew the magic words to set my soul alight again, relight it to a conflagration.
Burn away the darkness, the black sooty feelings of remorse, loneliness, and morbidity.
Why? Why? Why?
Do I bother, do I care, do I continue.