Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bookkeeping

Date: Nov. 17 and 18
Mileage: 32.2 and 35.0
November mileage: 510

I felt strong during my two "tempo" rides today and yesterday. My plan has been to ride three or four of these rides every week: two to three hours of semi-uncomfortable effort. But I am almost certainly on a fitness plateau right now, because these rides have become much too easy. I know the obvious answer is "ride harder," but I almost feel like my lungs and heart have outpaced my legs, and I just don't have the muscle power to push the pace much higher. I know I probably do, I just need to find it. And of course there's the short cuts - more intervals, climbing, squats. But there's just so much fun riding out there right now - frozen trails, hardened muskeg, shattery paper ice (see small photo) and dustings of new snow. I keep telling myself I can start building again in December. :-)

I was able to get in plenty of bursts of hard effort today after I snapped the rear shifter cable on my mountain bike. I feel bad for my Karate Monkey; only seven months old, and she's already been through the war. But after riding most of the morning with three speeds (and really only using the middle ring), I have to say, I still don't understand the single-speed thing. It's not a matter of being able to push a high gear up steep hills - that I can do if I have to. But I prefer to have my rotations per minute stay the same no matter how fast I'm going. Single-speeders must have their legs spinning all sorts of different crazy speeds. And once your RPMs drop down to two or three, don't you start questioning the efficiency of your one gear?

Also, I wanted to thank people who have e-mailed me about buying a book. When I made the offer, I didn't really formulate a plan about how I would organize requests and orders and the like. So what I have is an inbox full of e-mails, some of which I have answered, some which I'm not sure, etc. I plan to sit down and organize the whole mess on Thursday or Friday, so if I haven't gotten back to you yet, I apologize. I put in a big order Monday (and I want to thank those who already sent in Paypal payments; it made the prospect of ordering a big box of the exact same book much less painful.) I was told they would take six to eight days to print, so the turnover may be a little longer than I expected. I ordered some extras and can always order more, so if you are still interested in a signed copy or are hesitant to use the direct site, please e-mail at jillhomer66@hotmail.com.

Once I get a chance to really scrutinize and think about it, I may go the route of purchasing a distribution package, getting the book on Amazon and possibly into actual stores (maybe bike shops?). Of course, this would require a ton of marketing on my part, and convincing third parties that it's a worthy product. One of the main benefits of having an outside publisher (besides brutal, thorough editing) is marketing. I'm still not sure whether I want to step outside the safe boundaries of this blog. This was, after all, a personal project and not a commercially-minded venture. More of what I think I might get out of "Ghost Trails" is a learning experience that I can use as a springboard for future projects.

That said, I'm curious if any books have trickled in yet. I'm interested in feedback, any feedback. If you've had a chance to look it over, shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment and let me know what you think. I realize people aren't just going to receive the book and read the whole thing in a day (although it is a pretty quick read), but I just wanted to throw it out there that I'm interested in hearing your thoughts, whatever they may be.

And, just as a friendly reminder, it's still available here. :-)

Finally, I just signed up for Facebook! I still don't know why. Peer pressure, I presume. But that's the whole reason I started a blog, so maybe it will work out for me. My profile.

32 comments:

  1. So -- I am touched by your making me your friend on facebook. It's just a bit strange. Thinking of someone as a friend that you've actually never met.

    And enjoying the thought. As soon as I can get a chance -- I'll be visiting my friend in Juneau.

    You're welcome here anytime.

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  2. Anonymous4:27 AM

    I became a facebook person through peer pressure also. interesting.... I wonder how many of us end up doing it for that reason.

    I liken single speed or fixed gear riding to free heel skiing. maybe even free solo climbing. there is just something very pure about it. The bikes are so simple (particularly fixed gear) just a chain ring and some cranks. it's like taking things back to basics. Though, I don't think I would feel the same way doing it off road. that may boarder on masochism.

    b

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  3. I so don't get the single-speed deal either. I've heard some claim it's a more "pure" riding experience—whatever that means.

    I'm all about switching gears on the fly, not taking 30 minutes to do it pre-ride.

    And don't even get me started on the fixies. That's one step away from a unicycle. Clowns.

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  4. singlespeeds are just fun. that's all. no pressure. not too fast. just fun. i have actually put more miles on my surly 1x1 than any of my other bikes. i bought it as a training tool to force me to spin but i fell in love with it. just me. :) low maintenance, no cables to adjust, easy to clean. throw the studs on it and ride it all winter.

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  5. Anonymous5:13 AM

    "I'm still not sure whether I want to step outside the safe boundaries of this blog. This was, after all, a personal project and not a commercially-minded venture."


    Stepping outside of safe boundaries is the only time you get anywhere in life. You went to all the trouble of writing the book so why not put a little extra work into it to see if it could become successfull. A good analogy to your book project would be racing....you did all the hard work putting your training miles in, but now you're afraid to enter the real race.

    Who knows, maybe the book (and a calendar) could take off and lead to bigger things, or it might give you a Plan B incase things go bad at the newspaper. You'll never know unless you try. It's better to reach for a goal and fail, then it is to have never tried at all and have regrets about it later. You just need a good swift kick in the ass to get you motivated. Maybe the newspaper going bankrupt and you losing your job would get you motivated.

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  6. Jill I'm with you regarding single speed and RPM's. I'm an 85 to 95 rpm kind of guy. I don't like getting out of that range much or being all over the spectrum like a single speed would cause. I can do It, I just don't like or want to.

    47 and sunny, Austin Tx.

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  7. Anonymous5:42 AM

    As far as single speed bikes goes there's a fair amount of yuppie douchebaggery involved in owning one. I mean seriously, outside of yuppie douchebag posers who the hell owns a single speed ADULT bicycle ?!. Notice I said adult, because little kids' bikes and BMX bikes don't count. Cruiser style bikes don't count either because they're usually owned by old geezers either too stupid to know how to work gears, or too slow to even need them.

    There's a good reason why gears were invented, because only having one speed SUCKS. Try driving a car with only one speed. Single speed riders just do it because they like the attention it gives them by being different from everyone else. Either that or they have some weird fantasies about being bicycle messengers, track racers, or some turn of the century circa early 1900's bicycle rider. These are the same kind of guys that spend big bucks on retro wool racing jerseys. Ride your single speed in your retro jersey down to Starbucks to look pretentious yuppie douchebags !.

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  8. Rich Sulley6:35 AM

    Jill,

    Just to let you know I ordered your book last Thursday and it arrived today (Wednesday). Pretty good service as it's printed to order.

    I'm in the UK and I think the book was printed and delivered from here also.

    £13 inc. delivery (about $21).

    Can't wait to read it!!

    Rich

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  9. Hey Circa42 and Anonymous@4:42 AM: Thanks for letting me in on what a yuppie douchebag clown I am. While I didn't realize that enjoying somethinf that you don't relegated me to that status, now that i do know I will be sure to make a maximum effort to conform to your sensibilities and gain your respect.

    More yuppie douchebag clownery can be found here: www.grinderswheels.blogspot.com

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  10. Anonymous9:26 AM

    OK, I'll bite. I have a Pugsley and it is a SS. I ride it mostly on the beach in Socal--it's flat (obviously) and gears, cables and sand are a bad mix. (I came to your blog because I enjoy your suffering and I like looking at pictures of your Pugsley in its natural habitat.)

    More generally, I have an armada of bikes (really, how many people with Pugsley's don't?) and usually pick out the single speeds and fixies when I have time to ride (small kids, job, yadayada).

    I get the constant cadence bit, but I find that with my shifty bikes I was using a lot of my mental energy paying attention to gears and shifting rather than just twisting the cranks about, which is why I left the house in the first place.

    Maybe sometimes adults like to remember what it was like to ride a bike as a kid, I guess. Also, I hate dealing with adjusting this and that, and simple means less to fix (or break on the road/trail).

    My two cents--you all should ride what you like.

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  11. Anonymous10:11 AM

    Jon,

    I shouldn't have pigeonholed singlespeed bike users as mainly douchebag yuppies....there are also retro-nerds, geeks, freaks, and hippies that ride them too. Stereotypically mostly left-leaning folks from larger cities or college towns. People who like to think of themselves as cool, hip, or trendy but are anything but.

    As far as singlespeeds and fixies go, either the hills they're riding on aren't steep enough or they're pedalling too fast.

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  12. Anonymous10:18 AM

    Singlespeeds and fixies, because shifting is soooooo hard.....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxn567bHny8

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  13. Anon's comments on singlespeeds are funny, because I don't ride a singlespeed. Jons comeback makes me want to look at his site. My chilhood memories of zig zagging up steep hills are not good.

    However, here in WV we have only hills and many often exceed 20%. There are plenty of guys, and gals, who will kick your geared ass with thier singlespeeds (although even they have the sense to use a freewheel). In fact in MTB and cross races, they will often kick the competition's collective rear sans gears.

    But, they never road race with a single-speed. Bottom line, on a clear day on a clear road, shifting is better. Unless,that is, you want to feel like a kid again- That can't be bad... or can it?

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  14. nothing has ever made me want to get a singlespeed as much as these anon. comments. i mean if someone as arrogant and pathetic as this anonymous @$&! is so against singlespeeding than it must be pretty damn cool :)

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  15. geoff....
    someone peed on his cheerios. too bad. :)

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  16. Anonymity breeds unaccountability.

    I have multiple bikes. Some geared, some single.

    This past year most of my riding has been on singlespeeds. A road single and a 29'er mtb single.

    Where I live (Minneapolis, MN) a single can get me anywhere I need to go at a decent rate of speed.

    38x18 with knobbies works on all the metro trails I ride most.

    Could I go faster with gears. Possibly. Which is another way of saying maybe.

    But I don't really care about going faster. I'm not racing. I'm just out riding.

    There are times when it is tough to turn the pedals, and there are times when it is a bit too easy. And there are of course times when the porridge is just right!

    Both the easy and the difficult times make you find ways to overcome it. Sometimes even making you stronger. Or making you pick a better line.

    In the end it is just a choice based on what I'm hoping to get out of my ride. Nothing to do with how others see and perceive me, whether I'm right wing, left wing, middle of the road, etc.

    It is nothing more than a fun choice of bikes. And that is something that I hope is only ever thought of as a good thing.

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  17. Sorry, I didn't mean to ignite any vitrol about single speeds. I have friends who ride a single speed, some exclusively, and I really respect them (Especially Jenn who finished the Great Divide Race on a single speed, which is so amazing and cool.) I'm just saying that I don't think it's for me. Maybe because I'm a wimp. That is all. :-)

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  18. Ordered your book last Thursday and it's scheduled for delivery tomorrow in New Orleans.

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  19. Teebone12:40 PM

    I thought SSing was for douche bags too... then I rode one. Now I own one.

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  20. I am on Facebook too for some reason. I will add you when I get home!

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  21. jill, you "ain't no wimp, baby"

    it's all good! :)

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  22. Anonymous2:32 PM

    Jill: Are you SURE it's not for you? You're hardly a wimp. Pugsley has a freewheel or (more likely) a fixed cog on the "front" rear wheel already (you can see it in all its glory in one of the Ididabike pix).

    Pick a snow ride with rolling hills, drop your way-too-long chain, replace it with a shorter one and give Pugsley a chance at simplicity and SS love.

    My guess is that you'll end up writing a new letter to her (him?).

    It's not for everyone nor every ride. But maybe it's a way to enjoy all that snow and break your workouts out of the rut they appear to be in. And it's OK to walk sometimes(remember?).

    Or, maybe I'm just a douchebag hipppie yuppie freak who wants to fit in with the latest trend. In that case just take more pix of Pugsley. Everyone likes that, right?

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  23. Regarding SS: It's a bike. It has two wheels, two pedals, something to steer with and something to sit upon. Personally, I don't own one, but I'm not gonna trash anyone who does. At least they are out there pedalling, right?

    Jill: I'm about halfway through the ebook. GREAT read! I'm not going to say anything else about it cus some anonymous person would probably accuse me of giving away spoilers.

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  24. Anonymous3:48 PM

    I think Jill should skip the singlespeed idea and go straight to a fixie. Afterall, nothing says blown out knees and surgery better than trying to push too big of a gear uphill.


    Here's your typical fixie rider without brakes trying to go downhill:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdQf0K4AjWc&feature=related

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  25. Anonymous commenters are douchbags.

    Yo.

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  26. wow what a wonderful blog! i'd love to visit Alaska... you pictures are making me dream!

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  27. A big factor is riding at night with leaves, sticks, mud and other crap you deal with in the east. I have, and ride both. From a cost perspective much cheaper build, longer wear and lower replacement.
    How many people out there have broken a derailiuer or hanger? What about shifting problems when the cables get junked or frozen. Or cogs get messed. Well you don't have those worries with one. I could see ice and snow really jamming cables and gears. And for the most part riding uphill with a bike on difficult terrian usually becomes a hike. It is funny watching people try and spin so low of a gear that walking is faster.

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  28. Heidi3:56 PM

    Ordered your book from Lulu on 11/13, shipped on 11/14 and received in Juneau on 11/17. Pretty good service, I'd say1

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  29. Anonymous10:50 PM

    As far as bikes goe there's a fair amount of yuppie douchebaggery involved in owning one. I mean seriously, outside of yuppie douchebag posers who the hell owns an ADULT bicycle ?!. Notice I said adult, because little kids' bikes and BMX bikes don't count. Cruiser style bikes don't count either because they're usually owned by old geezers either too stupid to know how to work cars, or too slow to even need them.

    There's a good reason why cars were invented, because only having a bike SUCKS. Try driving a car with only two wheels. Bike riders just do it because they like the attention it gives them by being different from everyone else. Either that or they have some weird fantasies about being bicycle messengers, track racers, or some turn of the century circa early 1900's bicycle rider. These are the same kind of guys that spend big bucks on retro wool racing jerseys. Ride your bike in your retro jersey down to Starbucks to look pretentious yuppie douchebags !.

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  30. Anon @9:50 --

    I feel sorry for you. You obviously have never had any fun on a bike. You've obviously never had any fun exercising either. You probably never use your body to accomplish anything at all except to type this dribble. You might even use some sad voice recognition software, so you don't even have to bother to type.

    There's nothing as fulfilling as passing a douchebag like you stuck in traffic in a car, while just tooling along gracefully on an adult bicycle, reducing an ugly commute from an hour an a half to just 15 minutes.

    The most gorgeous part of the commute though is when the exercise causes the endorfins to kick in, causing the "rider" to be so high, so delighted, to feel so good, that there no longer remains any reason whatsoever to bother justifying exercise, fitness, or even something as simple as riding a single speed bike, to douchebags like you.

    Get a bike, please. And ride it. Do everyone a favor.

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  31. Anonymous1:23 PM

    Shawnkielty,

    Sorry, cut and paste, not voice recognition.

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  32. Wow, so much drama stirred up about one little comment about singlespeeds. Heres the straight dope.

    Please don't judge, hate, playa hate, stereotype, or criticize others for their preferred means of enjoying life on a bike. In the end, its all about the passion.

    Until you have ridden a real singlespeed (not just ridden for an hour without shifting), you don't know what the experience is like. Your whole mindset changes and brings a fresh new perspective to cycling.

    I also said I would never ever ride a singlespeed, now 2 years later I have SS mtbs and 2 fixed gear road bikes in addition to my geared bikes. I love all of them, and ride each as needed. They all let me enjoy the awesomeness of nature, the sity, and cycling in general in different ways. It keeps it fresh, keeps me from getting burnt out. (It also gets me to work...)

    SS is great for building strength when you don't have time to hit the gym, or would rather be riding in the beautiful outdoors than stuck in a sweaty gym with all the jockstrap man-boys.

    We ss'ers all have our different reasons. But we all have one thing in common too: a love and passion for biking, on or off road.

    Ill say it again. Please don't judge, hate, playa hate, stereotype, or criticize others for their preferred means of enjoying life on a bike. In the end, its all about the passion.

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