Monthly Archives: June 2012

heavy breathing

This Monday, I had the day off from school, although we had a take-home midterm exam to complete, so it wasn’t really a day of rest. My plan was to complete the take home exam… until my bike shop called and said that my bike was back and ready for me to pick up.


I was so excited to have my working bike back in my little apartment, that I immediately mapped out my first “real ride” to conquer Tuesday after work. I was aiming for 10 miles, but settled for this almost- 8 mile route through Chapel Hill neighborhoods. I got the route sent to my phone, started my timer, and was off.

Below is the elevation graph. I had seen this before the ride, and knew it would be hilly, but I live in Chapel Hill, so I wasn’t too concerned. After all, isn’t that what having a bike with 24 gears is for?


Yeah… see that this route ranged from gradients of –4% to +5%? Do you know what they means? Let me tell you…

It means that the first 2 miles of your ride is really nice. Flat greenways through neighborhoods, riding past families out with their dogs, feeling happy with the breeze blowing in your face.

THEN you hit mile 2.5 and it the road becomes a flipping cliff straight up into the air. Of course, I changed into a lower gear, but didn’t make it very far at all. Even my quick stops for water and checking the map wouldn’t help restore my legs. I ended up walking up most of that hill, and even walking was a struggle because my poor quads were screaming for pain. I don’t remember ever breathing that hard in my life!

The next few miles had some ups and downs, but it wasn’t too bad overall (until I forgot to continue my timer on my iPhone during one of my many water breaks that I take because I’m not coordinated enough yet to drink water while riding) . And then you hit mile 5.5 going downhill. I never realized how scary downhill can be! Granted, I was also on the very narrow sidewalk of a really major road, and the sidewalk was bumpy and not fun, but I was having to completely ride my brakes the whole way down to control my speed. It was potentially more terrifying than the uphill. At least I could stop going up a hill (and lay down and cry). If something happened flying down this hill, I’d most likely fly off the bike and die seriously injure myself.

And then the last 2 miles were perfectly fun and flat. Why can’t it all be like that??!!?

It ended up taking me a full hour to do this 7.8 mile ride, which is pathetic, but certainly a humbling experience. And amazingly, I haven’t been sore at all in the following days. Maybe I should go out and try this ‘bike’ thing again…

However, my next route (9 miles tonight!) will have a beautiful elevation graph like this:


Much better Smile


My cluttered brain

I am realizing the importance of more regular blog posts. Otherwise, I tend to have these long brain-dump posts, where I have about 85 things I want to / think I should post about.

It’s a nice Sunday morning here in North Carolina. I’m over at Matt’s place, enjoying Dunkin Donuts coffee + glazed donut while watching Nadal and Djokovic battle it out for the French Open final. While I’m disappointed that Federer didn’t make the final, it’s not a huge surprise anymore, and I’m not even sure who I should be cheering for right now. They’re both good awesome players.

Matt is currently out on the Raleigh Greenways for a 25 mile ride on his new road bike. I would be accompanying him (not for 25 miles though) except that my bike died 😦

But wait – you didn’t even know that I had a bike!!

Yes, last week I finally finished my bike shopping/comparing and all the accompanying neurosis. I settled on a lovely Carolina Blue womens bike by Trek, and have mastered the art of carrying it up my apartment stairs, and packing it up in my car.

I went on a quick 2-3 mile ride around Matt’s neighborhood the night I bought it, and we noticed that the front brake was rubbing the front wheel and making an annoying noise. After a few adjustments, Matt got it settled. The next night, after work internship, I took it out for ~5 miles on a local greenway trail in Chapel Hill, and enjoyed myself. Then for the weekend, I packed her up and headed to Raleigh. Matt and I planned for 10 miles on the Raleigh greenways yesterday morning. Unpacking both bikes from my car (reason #85890 that I love Matrix) we had a lot of trouble getting my front wheel back on straight, without the brake rubbing. And then Matt’s mountain bike gave him trouble with the chain (although that was actually Matt’s fault because he recently oiled it but didn’t wipe it off, so it was slipping all over the place).

ANYWAY, we started out on the greenway, but stopped after less than a mile, because the brake rubbing was getting annoying. A group of cyclists eventually stopped and helped us, with one guy whipping out his tools and loosening my brake. We got back on the trail and rode about 6 miles, but my wheel/brake issue didn’t ever really go away.

After a shower and lunch, we went back to the bike shop and had them look at the bike. At first, the guy thought it would just be a quick adjustment, but he had my bike back there for a quite a while. Every time I looked back there, he’d either be on the phone, or having another mechanic look at my bike. I knew something was up – how could I have messed up my bike after only 3 days?!

Finally he came back and told me that the bike was defective, that the fork was somehow not properly centered/aligned, and the wheel was never going to sit straight on the bike.

End of story – a new bike is being shipped down from Wisconsin as we speak, and I will pick it up sometime this week. I’m slightly relieved that it wasn’t something I was doing to the bike, but disappointed with my short-lived bike career. Oh well, this time next week I can go ride a (hopefully) wonderfully-working bike!


In other news, Matt and I enjoyed a fun evening out in Durham for the “Best of the Triangle” party. We sample lots of food and drinks (chocolate habanero iced coffee, anyone?) and then enjoyed some great live music. Jack the Radio is a pretty great local band!

always good people watching in Durham 🙂

Happy 1st of June!

Greetings to you all. I am blogging during my lunch work at my internship. So I’ll keep it brief and bulleted.

  • Matt and I had an awesome time in DC last weekend. I definitely wish we had closer to a week than just the weekend, as we wanted to see all the museums, shops, restaurants and try out the DC bikeshare program!
  • I have a new roommate for the summer, who is interning here in Chapel Hill, from Ithaca NY. I am looking forward to introducing her to southern weather, culture, and food. Her first day here, some NC native warned her about the “Chapel Hill liberals”. Luckily, she shares our left-leaning views, so I think she’ll fit right in.
  • I discovered that by grocery shopping on Sunday evenings, you can hit all the clearance food. A few weeks ago I found a grocery cart full to the top of baked goods (88 cent loaves of bread!), and this week I found the freezer chest of clearance food. Stocked up on some Smart Ones for work lunches for just $1!
  • I’m interning at a very health and wellness-focused nonprofit. They give all employees a 30 minute paid break for physical activity every day. How awesome is that!? So far, I’ve been mostly using my 30 minutes to get outside and take a walk, although we also have a room here with exercise DVDs and free weights.
  • Harley is still hanging out at the farm with my Mom. From all the iPhone pictures I have received, it seems like he spends 99% of his days either on the couch or the bed. I predict he’s going to have gained some serious weight when I bring him back!

Alright, time to get back to work! I have created a makeshift “standing desk” here in my cubicle – will have to try and take a picture for you all to see!