Thursday, February 21, 2013

FAQ's for 4Bad2Good

An image I randomly found on the Google, which somehow manages to sum up the title of this blog perfectly.

Some Questions You May or May Not be Asking About this Blog: 

 Why is this blog called "4 Wheels Bad, 2 Wheels Good?"
  • With this being a bike blog, it's probably not terribly hard to make the connection between the inference that four wheels, i.e. cars, are "bad" and two wheels, i.e. bikes, are "good." There are many obvious reasons for that.
  • Bikes are less expensive to own, maintain, and operate. In addition, bikes are much healthier, both from an environmental standpoint and a biological standpoint. I personally lost about 40 lbs. within the space of about 8 months when I first resumed riding bikes.
  • It's also a much more enjoyable way to travel and, once you figure traffic into the equation, it's often not that much slower to get somewhere than driving is within the city.
  • Often I refer to the title simply as 4Bad2Good just because that has a nice ring to it and I think it kinda sounds cool. The short version is also the blog URL.
  • Finally, the name is a homage to one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors. Although it is transposed to reflect the relationship of car wheels to bike wheels, the title is a reference to the revolutionary rallying cry of the animals in George Orwell's story "Animal Farm."
Why do your bikes have names and why are they such weird, foreign sounding names?
  • A lot of cyclists name their bikes usually for whimsical reasons. I don't actually use the names much in the real world and they rarely come when I call them by their names, but it's kinda fun to refer to them by names on the internets.
  • My original road bike, a used Schwinn Prelude that some douche stole, was named the "Blue Bomber." Mostly that's because it was blue and I didn't put a lot of thought into it. But I did bomb down the road on it on a daily basis.
  • The Specialized Allez that I got to replace the Blue Bomber is named "Nicola Bartolomeo." This is a name that I have used in the past and on rare occasions still do as a pen name. It consists of the first names of Sacco and Vanzetti, two immigrant laborers that were murdered by the government because they were Anarchists.
  • "Kropotkin" is my Tommaso Augusta Ninja (that's right a ninja!), that I use for commuting. It's an all black, stripped down fixie that lives to do the hard work. So it's only appropriate that it should be named after Petr Kropotkin, who Emma Goldman referred to as the "Godfather of Anarchism."
What's the deal with all the Anarchist references in this FAQ:
  • Well this doesn't really have a whole lot do with cycling, but I am in fact an Anarchist. If you're interested you can read some of my political musings on my personal blog: EYEAM4ANARCHY. If not, that's cool too, I pretty much intend to stick to cycling for the most part in this blog. So political references should be few and far between and should be bike related in the few instances when they do appear.
Why are you planning to ride 100 miles in one day during the "Tour de Cure" on April 27th?
  • I'm riding in the Tour de Cure both for the personal challenge of completing a "century," which is essentially the cycling equivalent of a marathon, and because of the importance of finding a cure for diabetes. Diabetes is a terrible disease that doesn't often get the attention that other deadly diseases do even though it ranks right up there with the worst of them.
  • My mom had diabetes and died earlier than she normally would have due to the complications associated with it. I very much miss her and want to help the American Diabetes Association raise funds for research toward a cure so that other people, their friends, and families won't have to suffer its effects.
How can I donate to your "Tour de Cure" fundraising total?
  • You can go to my personal fundraising profile page at this link to make a direct donation to the American Diabetes Association: My Donation Page
  • If you live in Las Vegas, you can contact me and make arrangements to give me a check or even cash (I would much prefer you use the online link above, if at all possible).
  • I'm trying to set up some other fundraising options such as the ones where you go to a certain restaurant and they donate a portion of the total amount people eating there within a designated time spent. The obvious advantage to this is that the only money coming out of your pocket is what you would pay for the meal anyway. Stay tuned for future announcements regarding this option.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why I Will Be Riding 100 Miles at the Tour de Cure

I am riding because the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure is so much more than a cycling event to me. My mother had diabetes and was taken away from us earlier than she should have been, as a result of diabetes related health issues. I miss her very much and would love to see a cure for diabetes happen soon so that other people and their family and friends don't have to suffer from its effects. It is my opportunity to change the future and make a positive impact in the lives of those who are affected by diabetes.

I am committed to ride in the 100 mile ride and raise money in this inspirational event not only because 26 million people in the United States have diabetes, but because I personally know some of them, and I want to do something about it. Won’t you help me start a chain reaction?

Chances are, you also know someone who has been affected by diabetes and you already know how important it is to stop this disease. By making a donation on my behalf or by joining my team, you will be helping the Association provide community-based education programs, protect the rights of people with diabetes and fund critical research for a cure.

With your help, we will fight for a future where a parent does not have to hear that their child has diabetes. A future where an adult does not have to face the uncertain times ahead after receiving a diabetes diagnosis. A future where you and I will know that we had a part in making this possible.

I truly appreciate your support. Together we can Stop Diabetes!

About Me

Currently, I'm training to ride the 2013 "century" at the Tour de Cure - click this image to see my personal donation page.

Me on my fixie "Kroptkin"
 I'm Kelly and, although I've traveled pretty much everywhere throughout the United States and to lesser extent all over the world, officially I'm a lifelong resident of Las Vegas. I did most of my international travel during four years I spent in the Marines. I also traveled around the country for a little over five years as an over the road truck driver.

Like a lot of kids I grew up riding bikes throughout my childhood, although it was basically just for transportation and not any sort of competition or as a sport. Back in those days in Vegas there wasn't a lot to do though, so my brothers, our friends, and I pretty much rode everywhere around town.

We were also kinda poor and so we didn't have the fancy multi-gear road bikes in those days. Basically, it was always a BMX bike with the big tires, single gear, and no brakes. One of the inevitable side effects of that which I remember from my high school days was that my thigh muscles were disproportionately large to the point that when I bought jeans I always had to make a choice between having them fit my thighs, but be really loose in the waist, or fit my waist, but be skin tight on my thighs.
Me on my fancy road bike "Nicola Bartolomeo"

But also like a lot of kids, once I was able to get a car I stopped riding bikes. Over the next few decades, I pretty much never even thought about cycling (something that seems to be a pretty common theme among cyclists I meet during rides). However, eventually a number of different things brought me back to cycling during the time that I was working as a truck driver.

Shortly after I began driving, I got rid of my car since I was on the road three weeks out of the month or more and it just wasn't worth paying the car payments for something I never really had a chance to drive anyway. As a result, I soon realized all the money that I could save without the car payment, insurance payment, registration fees, gas and maintenance costs.

In 2008,  as the economy went south and fuel prices skyrocketed, I left trucking behind. Not being in a big hurry to resume all those expenses involved with owning a car, I went out and bought a cheap mountain bike.

Although it weighed a ton and was so cheap that it began falling apart inside of about six months, I soon began to reconnect with my childhood days spent racing around the neighborhood on a bike. It wasn't much longer before I upgraded to a Schwinn Prelude that I bought used and began riding almost exclusively.

Soon I was riding the "Blue Bomber" everywhere including 20 miles a day to work and back and had lost 40 pounds (most of which was due to the lack of exercise and decent food that comes with being an OTR truck driver) within the space of about nine months.

That bike served me very well up until early in 2012 when I locked it to a pole outside a grocery store as I had done hundreds of times before, went inside to pick up a few things, and came back out to find the pole very empty. My old reliable workhorse had been stolen by some heartless bastard!

My next bike, "Nicola Bartolomeo," is a Specialized Allez, which is a little fancier than the Blue Bomber. and a good deal lighter at 20 pounds. Now that I had a proper (albeit "entry level") racing bike,I started getting interested in doing some big miles. While I had routinely done 30 miles or more in a day and more often than not loaded down with a back pack full of stuff, those miles were usually split up between multiple short trips of 10 miles or less stretched out throughout the day.

After finding some cycling groups through, I set about making the transition to long distance riding. I was pretty pleasantly surprised to find that the transition was fairly actually easy. Between the somewhat slower pace ( I tend to ride as fast as I can on short rides) and lack of the weighted down backpack, it wasn't very long before I progressed to the point where I could easily ride 50 miles or more at least a couple times a week in addition to the typical daily mileage that I still put in while commuting around town.

In September of 2012, I accomplished a personal milestone by completing the 102 mile "century" course at the RTC Viva Bike Vegas ride. This marked the first time I had ridden more than 65 miles at any singular continuous ride. Not only did I finish what essentially amounts to the cycling equivalent of a marathon, but at the end I actually knew that I could have done a lot better if I hadn't paced myself so conservatively out of a concern that I would burn myself out early.

A Recent Training Ride for the Tour de Cure - If you look closely you can see me in a yellow jersey by the guy in dark blue.

Unfortunately, there was one complication that quickly arose. Basically, I started feeling paranoid about the possibility that someone would steal my new bike and that I might not be able to afford to replace it with a quality bike this time around. To a certain extent I solved that problem by buying some "Street Cuffs" a pretty much indestructible motorcycle lock, which looks like giant handcuffs.

However, this created a new problem because, while these locks are both intimidating and virtually impossible to cut off, they weigh 3.5 lbs. each and because the bike has quick release on both tires I bought two pairs. So, between them they weigh 7 lbs. and, between their size and my reluctance to scratch up my pretty new bike, it was complicated to carry them around. So I decided to shop around for a cheaper used bike that was already scratched up and wouldn't be quite as much of a tragedy if it went missing one day.

Ultimately, I decided that I should get a "fixie" partly because I wanted to have a change of pace and build up my legs a little on short rides and partly because I knew that I could get a fairly decent used one without spending a whole lot of money. "Kropotkin," a Tommaso Augusta Ninja track bike, soon became my bike for running around town. Some people refer to it as a "decoy bike" because it's less likely to be targeted by thieves, although it's actually a pretty nice bike in it's own right. (In case you didn't notice it's a ninja!) Also without all the extra gears and associated equipment, Kropotkin actually weighs only 15 lbs. (five lbs. lighter than my "racing" bike), although when you add in the weight of the chains and that 20 lb. backpack, makes up for that and then some most of the time.

Right now, between commuting on the fixie and those longer rides on the racer, I generally average between 150 and 200 miles a week. One of my goals is eventually to do a triathlon, although I'm not a big fan of the running part of it, which is a big part of why I haven't "dove into" that yet (I do swim like a fish, though). I'm also really interested in doing some bike tours at some point in the near future.

Currently, I am in the process of training for the American Diabetes Association's annual "Tour de Cure" ride to benefit diabetes research on April 27th. this will consist of my second century ride and I'm looking forward to this both as an opportunity to challenge myself and improve on my rookie effort at Viva Bike Vegas, as well as an opportunity to raise funds for a great cause. The latter reason is very personal for me because my mother suffer from and ultimately died earlier than she should have as a result of the complications from diabetes. I miss her very much and would very much like to see a cure soon so that other people and their families and friends don't have to suffer through its effects.

If you would like to donate to my fundraising goal (I've committed to raising $150), you can get to my profile page by clicking on either of the banners located at the top or bottom of this page. You can also use this direct link: My Fundraising Donation Page. In addition, if you are a cyclist yourself you can join the team I'm riding with ( or enter a TDC ride in your area if you live outside Las Vegas. There are several distances for different experience levels. So you don't have to do the century distance if you aren't ready for it yet.
Currently, I'm training to ride the 2013 "century" at the Tour de Cure - click this image to see my personal donation page.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing - How my fixie and I accidently ended up part of an organized bike ride

In full disguise and passing on the left.
One day back in November 2012, I packed up all my camera equipment, threw a loaf of vegan banana bread into the backpack with them, and jumped on "Kropotkin," my fixie that I use for everyday trips.

I was headed for the weekly Food Not Bombs Las Vegas picnic to share the banana bread with hungry people and I had the t-shirt to prove it. Plus, since it was winter at the time, I had a stuffed sheep on my head, and my fake "tattoo" sleeves to keep me warm as I roared down Boulder Hwy. toward Baker Park, where the picnic is held.

A funny thing happened on the way to the picnic, though.

Food Not Bombs Las Vegas takes the lead.

I began to pass other cyclists, even more so than I usually do. At first, it was one or two at a time then they started appearing in groups. It didn't take long before I noticed that most of them were wearing numbers on their back and it became obvious that I had inadvertently become part of an organized ride, namely the MS "Bike-a-thon."

The part that makes this even cooler than the simple fact that I accidentally stumbled into a bike ride is that, in spite of carrying at least 20 lbs. worth of camera equipment and food inside my backpack, wearing jeans and regular clothing, having a fake animal strapped to my head, and riding on a fixie uphill with 7 lbs worth of bike locks hanging off, i was actually doing pretty well.
All in all, I think I passed about twenty riders that were actually in the ride and I even have the pictures to prove it, thanks to one of the official photographers stopping to take pictures of the crazy looking guy with a fake lamb on his head. Which, I of course later tracked down on and included in this post.

So, the moral to this story is: always ride hard because you never know when you might suddenly find yourself in the middle of a race.

BTW, speaking of organized bike rides, I'll be doing the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure ride to fund diabetes research. You can help me by donating towards my fundraising goal through this link: My Fundraising Donation Page. I thank you very much!