Biking in the USA

I have never bicycled overseas.  My friends have.  I have seen the various races on television.

So, in fairness, while I cannot compare the two from personal experience, I can and will extol the riding opportunities in the US.

I have ridden my bicycle in NY, MA, VT, ME, RI, CT, MD, PA, FL, SD, CO and OR.

I have driven my car through the above states as well as much of the Western US.

The variety of cycling opportunities in the US is incredible.

In Oregon we rode in the Columbia River Gorge.  We saw dozens more riders on the Oregon Coast Road.

In South Dakota we rode on the 109 mile long Nickelson Rail Trail (not paved).

In Colorado we rode on the paved trail between Glenwood Springs and Aspen.  We drove on roads that were  incredibly wonderful for cycling.  We saw many people cycling in Rocky Mountain National Park at altitudes over 12,000 feet!

We’ve ridden on pavement, asphalt, dirt and gravel.  Great rides and not so great rides.  Hilly, flat and rolling.

Keep the US in mind as an option for your next cycling vacation.

Smelling the Barn

My wife, Susan, and I tend to ride in the back of the group with a little extra distance between between the riders in front of us.  Too many near miss accidents and a couple of bone breaking accidents have made us more cautious and conservative.

Neither do we try to catch up if the gap widens. Since the peloton seems to dash out then slow down, or get caught at a fair amount of traffic lights, we know we catch up within a few minutes.

As a result of this refusal to dash out, catch up, power to the front and to otherwise expend unnecessary energy, by the end of the ride Susan is not particularly tired.

So, about five to eight miles from the end, she gets the ‘horse smells the barn door’ effect.  Knowing there is no longer a need to conserve strength,  she feels free to ‘go for it’.  This never fails to impress all the tired riders who can no longer dash up  hills or race off the front of the group.

Maybe something for all of us to think about.


My ‘Old’ Bicycle

Some of my bicycling buddies are encouraging me to replace my 2002 titanium Litespeed Tuscany with something new.   My wife says she has no problem if I want a new bike.

So far, however, I cannot get too excited about it.

I am no longer interested in going as fast as a I can, so shaving a few pounds off the bike is not much of a concern.

After seeing a few deaths and several cases of my friends needing their new carbon fiber frames replaced I am not too hot on carbon fiber.  I do hear the mantra that if the frame is made in the US it is more reliable, however.

I have a good titanium frame.  For a lot less that the cost of new bicycle I can replace parts as needed and get another decade from the bike.

So while I can afford a new bicycle and like new ‘toys’ much can also be said for “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”


Why? Do cyclists do these things.

Part 1, Questions

1. Why, in a large group, will the front of the group speed up to get through the Yellow Light, knowing full well they will just have to wait somewhere down the road?

2. Why do we guys, particularly, repeatedly power up from a stop to get to speed as fast as we can, instead of gradually accelerating.

3.  Why is a chill, relaxed ride, still have a goal of X mph for the ride?

4.  Why do we rarely call for an unscheduled pit stop — however, if one person breaks ranks, almost everyone else takes advantage?

5.  Why do we spend oodles of money on a lighter bike instead of losing extra pounds on our body?

6.  Why do we try to get up the hill first, knowing we will die at the top or later on in the ride?

7. Why can’t all bad weather be from 9 pm to 5 am?

8. Why?

Part 2, Answers

1, 2, 3, 6. testosterone  (men), to prove we are as good as the guys (women)

4. Stop! Stop! What planet are you on?

5.  Much much easier.

7.  Because  YOU live on Earth and I live on Planet Glenn.

8.  Because

And the winner is Testosterone !


Get Ready For Spring – Pilates for Bicycling!

By Olivia Lennox, February 24, 2012

Improving Strength and Performance with Pilates

Cycling is a great way to stay fit and healthy, whether you enjoy road racing, mountain biking, cycling with friends or just commuting to and from work. As with many sports, pain and injuries are quite common and should be dealt with immediately. By ignoring a niggling pain, even if it is more irritating than painful, you may risk further injury.

Prevention is of course, better than cure and there are many things that you can do to prevent injuries and improve your cycling experience.

Checks before you start

The first thing to check is that your bike fits properly. Pain and muscle strain can be caused by a poorly fitted bike. Wrist and hand pain is caused by putting too much weight on the handlebars and lower back and neck pain can be caused by wrong positioning of the saddle or handlebars. Having a bike fitting will improve your positioning, and make cycling easier.

Another cause of pain is sitting incorrectly on the bike, bad posture can cause repetitive strain syndrome, pins and needles in your hands, neck strain and backache.

Benefits of Pilates

Pilates is an exercise which focuses on stability and postural alignment, strengthening muscles around your abdomen and spine to give both support to your back and freedom of movement. The gentle stretching exercises can loosen tight, overworked muscles in your neck, back and limbs.

It is essential to ensure that your riding posture is good and your muscles are strong enough to support your riding position. This may not be the case if you are new to the sport or have not cycled for a while. Even those who ride regularly may benefit from working on their upper body strength.

The seated position of a bicycle means that, even during an intense cycle ride, you are not working the muscles of your upper body.

Those who cycle regularly usually have well developed muscles in their legs and buttocks but without sufficient upper body strength you are likely to develop pain in your back, neck, arms and wrists. This is due to most of your weight being supported by your lower back and on your hands while holding the handlebars, rather than being supported by your back muscles and spine.

What Pilates does for your body

During a Pilates workout you will focus on your body’s core muscles, which are the chest, back, abdomen and buttocks. The stretching and breathing exercises will strengthen your body and improve your flexibility and fitness levels.

Neck and shoulder pain can be caused by riding with your head too far forward, it can also cause pain, or a tingling feeling in the hands. By strengthening your upper back your muscles will naturally pull your head into correct postural alignment.

Poor posture or misaligned joints can cause lower back pain by pinching the sciatic nerve, this can create intense pain in the back and thighs. By strengthening the muscles and improving joint mobility the pressure, and the pain, can be released.

During a cycle ride, the cyclist spends a long time seated in the same position, this can create back pain or repetitive strain syndrome in the hands and wrists. When cycling, consider your posture and reposition your hands on the handlebars to release pressure on your wrists.  Pilates stretches are a great way to warm up before a bike ride, injuries commonly occur through not warming up properly, such as strained or pulled muscles. Cooling down stretches will ensure that you don’t suffer from leg pain and ease the damage caused by over working certain muscles.

When fatigue begins to set in during a cycle ride it is easy to slip back into poor posture habits. By using Pilates you can improve your core body strength and posture so that your body is perfectly aligned. Using these stretching exercises you can improve your strength, speed and endurance.

Certain areas of the body can be targeted during a Pilates workout and they can be tailored to your own specific needs. Whether you choose to join a group Pilates session or have one to one tuition, your Pilates instructor will be able to give advice on the best exercises for you.

Many things to keep you safe while cycling focus on external elements such as wearing a bike helmet, high visibility clothes and ensuring your bike is safe and covered against damage by bike insurance. However ensuring that your body is strong enough to endure training without injury is just as important.

Road Trip – West Coast of Florida – Final

Sometimes it works out that the best is saved for last.

Wednesday 12/28/2011 –  We rode the southern part of the Withalacoochee Rail Trail.  Started in Ridge Manor, which, in itself is an ideal location. The trail head is one mile from I 75 and only six miles north of the southern end of the trail.  This means you could ride 39 miles to the northern end and back for a 78 mile ride. There are also many roads that parallel and cross the trail, which would allow you to extend or alter your ride to suit. A nice picnic area and restrooms are next to the parking lot. The best thing we found was, that riding north from here was about the best scenery/riding distance combination of the trip.  The photos, at the end of the post, do not give the trail justice. Susan and I rode to Floral City, which has rest rooms, a gazebo, a quick mart type food store and a bike shop.  Great place for a snack and turnaround for 35 miles.  Or proceed to Inverness and return for 45-50 miles. A great ride.

Thursday 12/29/2011 – We went touring this morning and did not get back to our hotel until mid afternoon.  Although I had mapped out a road route to Jay B. Starkey park, it was too late in the day to be sure to get back before sundown.  So, we got in the car and drove to the park (SEE PART 1).   Got in a short 20 mile round trip through the park and part of the Sun Coast Trail, returning just before sunset.

SUMMARY We rode five out of six days.   By keeping the rides in the 30+/- range (except today) we were able to thoroughly enjoy each ride without wearing ourselves out. All the rides were worthwhile, as well as the drives to the starts.

Jay B Starkey and Sun Coast is what I would call…pretty warm up and cool down (in the park), with the exercise part on the Sun Coast Trail.  It is by no means not pretty or interesting, just less so than the other rides.   A six man pace line actually passed us today.

Pinellas Trail is varied, interesting and slow, with at least three nice turn outs to water views and a causeway/beach, all within 30 miles. Start in Tarpon Springs and ride to Clearwater…where you need to turn left onto the side walk or street to pick up the remainder of the trail.

Withalacoochee Trail is the one for scenery and distance.  It is also the one for combining rail trail with road riding.


Road Trip – West Coast of Florida – Part 3

The Pinellas Rail Trail runs from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg.  It is an urban trail, so unlike the trails further north (see Parts 1 and 2), the ONLY  way to ride was to ride this trail is in relaxed mode. Our ride today went from Tarpon Springs to Clearwater.  We road on a dedicated lane down the middle of the road in Tarpon Springs.  There were sections of trees on both sides, but this was not forest. At times the trail ran between houses and yards to the left and the right. It ran along Alternate Route 19 and through the downtowns of cities.  We crossed many roads, some quite some busy.  There was a constant, but light flow, of riders, walkers and skaters. It was fascinating because everything kept changing and for the reasons below: 1. In Dunedin there were eateries and bicycle rental/repair adjacent to the trail.

2. Webster Park had a pier we rode on that went well out into the bay. 3. There was Well Springs Park with paved trails that let you ride through palm trees, conservation areas and out to the bay.  4. Honeymoon Beach is a five mile side round trip over a beach causeway.  You can also ride through the park at the end, or stop to rent a catamaran along the way.  The ride was just about 30 miles, but with all the side trips and views it took a lot of extra time. Tomorrow is a day off from riding. Glenn

Road Trip – West Coast of Florida – Part 2

Today, Susan and I rode the north part of the Withlacoochee State Rail Trail.  It is, at 45 miles, the longest trail in Florida.

We started at the Inverness Trailhead (all the trail heads have parking and rest rooms) and rode to the northern terminus and back, around 32 miles.


The Withlacoochee has scenery that constantly changes, from woods, to water, to semi rural housing and a a few short stretches along road ways.

The further north we went the less we saw other riders.  On our way back, around noon, however, there was very light bicycle traffic and rare walkers.  The trail is in very good condition and wide.


As a measure of how quiet the trail was, Susan decided she did not need her mirror, because there would not be any significant number of riders coming up behind her.  It turned out that no one passed us and we passed less than a dozen people.

View from rest stop
View from rest stop

Since the trail does cross the roadway in several places, it would probably be easy to create a route of 50 miles or more by looping off and on the trail several times.


There were ample rest rooms and places to get food, all visible from the trail.

Look for the cormorant drying its wings

This ride is highly recommended.

Road Trip – West Coast of Florida – Part 1

Susan and I are on a road trip.  While we have taken many road trips by flying to a location and renting a car . . . this one is a first.

We left from home in NY with our bicycles in the car. We took several days to get down to Florida, visiting various cities along the way.

In the next week we hope to ride the three big rail trails in the central western part of the state.

Today we started in Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park, just east of Port Richey.  There are six to seven miles of bicycle trail in the park.  The surface in the park and on the rail trail is asphalt with crushed stones embedded. The riding is flat and smooth, though not quite as smooth as 100% asphalt.

The first and last 6.5 miles of our ride, where on this trail.
The first and last 6.5 miles of our ride, where on this trail.

In the park, the scenery is nothing short of WOW!.  It is not spectacular, but there is a strong urge to slow down and just soak in the atmosphere.

The riding is flat with mostly semi open vistas, like the one in the photo.

THE SUNCOAST TRAIL starts where the park trail ends.  It runs six miles to the southor 33+ miles to the north.

The trail does run along the Sun Ccoast Toll Road…but sometimes swings off the highway for awhile.  For most of this ride there was close up forest on one side and landscape (across the highway) forest on the other.

There are good stretches were you could even pace line if you wished.

We did a leisurely 30 miles along the two trails.  However, you could do close to 100miles   if you did the whole thing.

Sun Coast Trail – about 42 miles one way.

Suncoast Rail Trail

Bird Viewing area along the rail trail.

More tomorrow.