Finally moving to clipless pedals

After years of resistance, I finally decided this week to move from platform to clipless bicycle pedals.

After doing some research on the web and asking some friends for opinions, I ended up picking up a Speedplay Zero System which I have mated with some Shimano SPD-SL shoes.

As an added bonus, it turns out my Lifecycle E3600-HRT can accommodate *real* pedals so I’ll be able to practice with the new system a fair amount where I *can’t* fall over before hitting the real world!

I elected to go for a road system (stiffer shoe and exposed cleat) rather than one that would be a bit more forgiving should I need to walk a lot by evaluating how often I’ve ever needed to walk when out for a ride over the past 15 years which has been seldom).

I also had some concerns for whether or not my knees would be happy with the potentially limited range of motion that a clipless system offers. The Speedplay system has tremendous float (0-15 degrees adjustable) and has the added advantage of allowing you to clip in to either side of the pedal.

I’ll be very interested to see if I garner an appreciable performance boost from this upgrade. The last real boost was when I upgraded from my trusty Bianca Alaska commuter bike (awesome for commuting to work on glass-strewn city streets) to an actual racing bike (Giant two TCR composite frame).

I’m not intending to do any racing – but I do want to go as fast as I can for the effort I’m putting out, it’s just so satisfying…

Back on the Grid – Post Bike Accident

PICT6710Sorry to have dropped of the grid like that for a few days.

I took this past Friday off for a “me” day and went cycling along the Silver Comet Trail near Hiram, Georgia.

Around 23 miles into a 31 mile cycle something, I have no idea what, happened and I found myself dazedly staggering around the trail with a couple of very nice ladies offering me antiseptic wipes. I have no idea what exchange occurred between us because when I had finally achieved some degree of coherence, I was alone on the trail. I assume I must have switched to automatic “guy mode” along the lines of “No problem.. I’m fine… Thanks for stopping but I’m OK”..

I got back on the bike to finish the last 8 or so miles of the cycle, fortunately it did not seem damaged at all except for some scrapes on the top of the aero bars. My bike was off to the side of the trail facing as if I was cycling AWAY from Hiram. Somehow I managed to figure out that this was incorrect.

I gave Michelle a call and told her to expect that I would not be looking too great.

After getting cleaned up and bandaged from my newly replenished medical kit (literally I’d refreshed all the old supplies in that kit a month prior) we then sat back for a while to make sure that there were no neurological issues (uneven pupils, slurred speech, that kind of thing).

The next morning I awoke to bed spins so we headed off to the Northside Urgent Care facility to get things checked out.

After a couple of mis-steps with the X-Rays (got a lot more than I wanted) it turned out that my concussion was not neurologically worrying. And my ribs appeared only to be bruised (no punctured lungs or any of that kind of excitement) and nothing broken in my hand (I was thinking that was only a mild sprain anyway).

But I’ve been out of it for several days now, mostly sleeping and staring vacantly at the TV (which is probably the normal way of watching it anyway, so no harm no foul :)).

Just yesterday (3 days after) I started feeling like my old self but I was tiring very easily. Today, very groggy but can still sense improvement and am remoting in to work to try to get back on top of things.

You can see my mildly cracked helmet (thank you helmet!!) and my “battle wounds” here. If you do not like the sight of blood, please don’t click through.

Bicycling – Martin Goodman Trail / Silver Comet Trail

I really enjoy bicycling. Not epic 100+ mile cycles but more modest cycles. Lately on the order of around 30 miles or so.

Martin Goodman Commute to Work
Martin Goodman Commute to Work

I *used* to commute into work, back when I lived in Toronto. My house was located just four houses up from lake Ontario on Sixth street. I was able to cycle along Lakeshore Blvd for about 3 miles until I picked up the Martin Goodman Trail.  I was then able to follow the Lake Ontario shoreline until just South of where I worked downtown. A quick jaunt through city rush hour traffic and I was there. My company offered convenient  bicycle parking.  I would work out at the company gym and shower to get to work for about 8:30 every morning. It was about a 9 mile commute each way and it was glorious from about April through October.

Unfortunately, the prospect of commuting in and around Atlanta seems pretty laughable between the rather narrower roads and complete lack of awareness or care on the part of car drivers for anything smaller than another SUV on the road. So I cycle on weekends or early evening on very sparsely populated roads or – my favorite – Rails to Trails paths.

I’ve only explored a small part of the Silver Comet Trail (SCT) so far. I used to always begin at mile-marker zero (near Nickjack Elementary school) but have recently been making my way out to Hiram, GA to cycle the portion between there (mile marker 14.7) and the Historic Brushy Mountain Tunnel (mile marker 30.9). This trip *seems* to me to be just mildly uphill all the way out and mildly downhill all the way back with the tunnel representing some kind of watershed. It may just be my perception but I really do look forward to the return cycle.

There are multiple trailheads along the the SCT. The one at the zero mile marker is pretty good. It’s got a good bathroom facility and overflow parking at the elementary school if necessary. The downside is that it’s usually VERY busy and you’ll find yourself dodging pedestrians and other trail traffic for the first couple of miles of your trip.

I read an article that gushed about how attractive the segment of the SCT is between Hiram and Rockmart. I tried it several months back and I have to admit that it *is* a super attractive and pleasant ride. There is a great little cycling support place just off the Hiram trailhead (beyond the Sheriff’s caboose) that has washrooms big enough to just bring your bike in with you so you don’t need to worry about it. Also, it’s MUCH less crowded, even during peak times. Also, there are far fewer street crossings here than at the Zero mile marker trailhead. There are about 3 that you hit in fairly short order and then only the occasional slow-down-and-whiz-across one from then on.

Going beyond the Brushy Mountain Tunnel the trail starts to get much more hilly, especially for a rails-to-trails ride. I’ve been told that after Rockmart the trail really can be challenging (especially if you’re already bonking :)).

iGolf neo – My latest gadget for Golf

iGolf neo package contentsIn a word – Great!

The iGolf neo is a compact GPS unit you can use while golfing to let you know how far away you are from the front, back and center of the green. The maps are downloaded from their website to which you subscribe for a modest fee. Once you’ve downloaded a map it’s yours, so if you don’t get around much you may not need to renew your subscription.

You can also map your own courses if you choose.

This is an image showing all the stuff that comes out of the box when you purchase an iGolf neo.

The little booklet is actually pretty useful. It answered nearly every question I had about the gadget as I was walking myself through its features.

I already had some experience with this little gadget, my friend David D. picked one up earlier this year and was finding it very useful. The accuracy of my unit matched his in being within about a yard or two of the markers in the tee box.

I don’t have too much trouble judging distance when I’m playing the short part of my game, maybe within about 90 yards. But that oddball area between about 120 to 160 yards I seem to have trouble gauging and find the neo a valuable aid. I’m pretty consistent with which clubs hit which distances. It’s guessing the distance that was somewhat of an achilles heel.

Also handy is the neo’s shot ability. When at the tee I just click the “Shot” button twice and, when I am at the ball for my next hit I can see how many yards I was actually able to achieve. Great for refining my opinion of how far I hit which club.

It’s supposed to last about 16 hours on a charge and uses the same technology as my bluetooth puck GPS which seems to never run out of steam so I anticipate never running out of power as long as I charge it at least once every couple of games.

Volley Soccer

Wow! Talk about a “Young person’s sport” . I suppose it’s safe to say that the golf set is unlikely to adopt this as their winter sport…

I used to play some volleyball after work and I think that, in a week, I could have got off maybe one of the shots these guys are doing each time the ball comes to their side (I would have needed the week to recover after smashing into the floor…).

Adventures in Golfing

I went golfing at River Pines golf course on Friday with Glenn, David and Shuo. It turns out that River Pines’ championship course is still a fair bit above my skill level so my game was not what you might call “spectacular”. 🙂

Two items of note, however. Shuo and I were sitting in our cart at the 2nd hole when I happened to look up and saw a badly sliced ball curving gently towards us. I managed to get out a short warning before the ball whizzed between the two of us through the open front window and hit the back of the cart. That definitely gets the adrenaline flowing.

Then later, while hitting on the fairway of the 8th hole I struck the ball with my 3 iron and saw a curious flash while simultaneously feeling the club lighten dramatically.

It turns out that the iron had not simply separated from the shaft but the iron had actually broken off the shaft.


Here’s a closer look at the actual head


These are Prestwick px-7 clubs that I bought as a package a few years ago when I decided to become at least passable at the game. I figured I could invest in some nicer clubs when I had decided what I did and didn’t like with the current set.

Definitely in the “don’t like” column would be “falling apart”. 🙂

David has an eclectic collection of clubs that he’s assembled over the past few years that serve him very well, I’ll need to pick his brain for ideas for some new clubs. After watching his wonder clubs in action and Shuo’s new driver (easily the largest head I’ve ever seen used on a driver) I’m definitely convinced that the right clubs will help make the game that much more enjoyable.

Healthier Lifestyle – Milestone achieved

Continuing with my “Healthier Lifestyle” posting, today I weighed in at 169 lbs. As it happened, today is also a running day so I upped my distance from 2.5 to 3 miles and ran at a faster average pace.

I want to build up my speed so that I average 7.5 mph at that distance and then I’ll kick in the hill profile. As it is I’m currently running with a consistent grade of 3%. I’ve found about 2.5% on a treadmill to most closely approximate running on level ground so 3%, to me, is the equivalent of doing my entire run on a mild upward slope.

I don’t see myself doing much beyond 3.1 miles consistently. This approximates 5 kilometers and is ample for my goals. If I start feeling the need for a harder workout, I can always start running faster or augmenting the workout with another activity, perhaps a short cycle so that I can transition from the run to cycling. Maybe someday I’ll even consider doing triathlons again. Believe it or not, the main reason I lost interest in them was that I really don’t like waking up so early in the morning on weekends. It sounds trite, but as a night person, mornings have never really been my forte.

For a little stroll down memory lane, here are some pictures from a couple of triathlons that I did a long time ago…


Swingless Golf Club

I had a hearty laugh when I read about this Swingless Golf Club. I have to admit I am still not sure that it’s not just a joke but I thought I’d share it with you.

I do enjoy a good round of golf, but even I have to say that it’s not exactly the most taxing activity in the world. Add a golf cart to remove the walking and now this tool to remove the actual swinging and I’m not quite sure how to classify this activity at all! 🙂