Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Construction at Big Lake

WOW - yesterday was a great day for a bike ride. Sunny, nearly calm winds, temperature in the upper 60s. I headed out from Xtreme Wheels in my hybrid. Goal was to a 30-40 mile ride.

Rode my normal route - Valley View, Lake Manawa, Indian Creek. Veteran's Memorial, and Western Historic Trails to the Trails Center. Made my routine stop there. From there I rode Iowa Riverfront to Big Lake. That made it over 17 miles from the bike shop to Big Lake.

When I got to Big Lake, I was surprised to see all the construction around the lake. The lake is nearly drained, what looks to be is a new ramp to the water, and lots of earth-moving going on.

Visiting with another observer, he suggested I go over the the North parking lot and see what else that is under construction. There, I saw a new drive, parking area, and picnic tables. A paved trail leads to the north lake. There I saw a board walk under construction reaching into the lake.

I understand that Council Bluffs is spending some million dollars on the Big Lake project. Now, if we could get the Iowa Riverfront Trail extended up to Lewis & Clark Monument.

Returned along the river to the Trails Center. After a break there, rode back past the bike shop. As I neared the shop (with 35 miles under the belt), I decided to extend the ride up to Iowa Western CC. With that, I made my goal of over 40 miles for the ride.

It was a good ride. Now while I have ridden more miles in 1 day before, the 40 mile ride was the longest ride without big breaks. This ride was 3 hours and 13 minutes riding time in just over 3.5 hours.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ride at Manawa - Race day plus 1

Sunday turned out to be a sunny, windy day with the temperature in the 80s. A good day to ride in the woods.

The first think I noticed as I rode in the parking lot - some a$$ had dumped a load of trash just where the official's tent was set up. With all the work done, it only an overnight to have the park trashed.

Taking in easy, I rode the sidewinders as a warm-up. From there, I headed out for a lap or two. Started on the West side.

On the way back toward the parking lot in Wood Chopper, someone had constructed a "fence" of sorts, using branches and limbs. The last laps I made here were on Tuesday evening. This structure was not there at that time. Was this "fence" was up for the race? There sure was a lot of work put into this construction.

No other anomalies noted during the ride. Ended up with riding 2 laps plus for 14.8 miles.

The ride was not near one of my best riding efforts. Pace was only 7.4 mph. Even with the pace, I was able to get my heart rate up into the 90s. Anyway, I started another week of riding - see if I can make 100 miles again this week.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Manawa Mountain Bike Mayham

This race was held yesterday (Saturday). After a week of dry conditions, the area received some rain. The trail was slippery in spots for the first part of the race schedule.

I took just short of 450 photos. They are divided up into:

Juniors, Category 3, and start of Marathon
Category 2, Category 1, and rest of Marathon
Kids Race
Misc shots

I have not done any enhancing of the images. Any orders will filled with enhanced photos.

The photos are on Enjoy.

Please note: This web site hosting will be adding a $1.50 per order fee starting October 1st. You might want to order before then. I am not happy with this fee impossed on my customers. Will be spending some time to investigate other options.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lake Manawa Trails are Race Ready

Earlier this week the THOR ( Trail Crew descended on the Lake Manawa mountain bike trails. There were about 8-9 of us Sunday and another 6 in the threatening weather Monday. A good turn out to finish the work Tuesday evening.

Our Trail Leader mowed the trail last week. We had weed whackers running the 3 evenings to trim the edges of the trail. All of the log crossings were stabilized. The trail was lopped to trim branches.

This photo shows the first log crossing in Tony's Playground.

Thanks for all of the volunteers. We had a big turn-out of non-members and first timers.

Heard from my cardiologist's nurse regarding my heart rate. The clinic wants my heart rate low - as long as so low that I pass out or get light headed. Maybe my body is starting to adjusting to the new medication - yesterday I was able to get my heart rate up to 112 bpm riding back from Manawa.

Yesterday I rode from Xtreme Wheels over to Lake Manawa. Rode 2 laps (except No Second Chance) and back to the shop. Was a good 23 mile ride on the Fuel EX7.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Propafenone (Rythmol)

Yesterday I was able to make quantitative assessments of the new medication. And, I am NOT pleased. This riding was done on my hybrid (Trek 7200FX with 28c tires). Walking around the bike shop while getting ready for the ride, my pulse was about 65 bpm (one time my monitor showed 49 bpm, think that was a fluke reading).

I started with 4-5 mile warm up. That section of the ride was at about 11-12 mph but my heart rate would only climb into the 80s. At that time, I brought the speed up 13-14 mpg with a heart rate of about 95 bpm. A mile of that and I pushed it on up to see what I could get.

My heart rate topped out at 104. Rode for a mile or two at 100-104 bpm. This is the point that I started getting short of breath. After that, my left leg was losing some strength, almost like a mild cramp. (Lactate build-up in the muscle?). I slowed down the past for the rest of the route to the Trails Center.

For comparison, last week I would start to get short of breath at 130+ bpm! Add to that I was riding about 1.5 mph faster last week.

From the Trails Center, I continued my ride to N 25th St - 15+ miles from the bike shop. Kept my pace in the area of 11-13 mph for that section and the ride back to the bike shop. Stopped both ways at the Western Historic Trails Center to use the restroom, consume a bottle of Gaterade G2 and granola bar.

On the ride, I was wondering if my cardiologist really knows the dose I am on of other blood pressure medications that also slow down the heart rate. When I was on 50 mg of Lopressor twice a day, my max heart rate was 150 to 160. When that dose was increased to 100 mg twice a day, the max dropped to 130-140. Now with Rythmol, my max heart rate is about 105!

When my cardiologist said that the new medication would lower my heart rate, I commented that mine was already very low. His reply was "hydrate". Pretty sure I normally hydrate myself enough, I gave him the benefit of doubt until I could verify.

Will be calling the clinic this morning.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Recalibrating Heart Monitor Readings

Monday afternoon I did not have time to ride my bike. Had trail work that evening. There was threatening rain anyway. I spend the evening running a weed wacker.

Yesterday, it was time to get back on the bike. For several reasons, took the hardtail. Wanted to check out the new tires (the same tires as OEM on the bike). Could be a little windy, and would be using that bike anyway for trail work.

Headed out slowly. Always do that when any change to bike or meds. As I rode the paved trail, I noticed higher rolling resistance. Guess those tires were pretty well worn!

Once I was warmed up, I started pushing it more. On stretches, I got my speed up to 14 mph - couple times up to 15 mph. That was about all I wanted to push then. I started getting a little winded - but my heart rate topped only 105.

I need to read up more about the new medications - Propafenone (AKA Rythmol). It is used to treating irregular heartbeat. My doctor told me that it may also slow down my heart rate.

With the Propafenone and high dosage of Lopressor and other blood pressure meds, soon will need a calendar to check my pulse rather a watch!

Over the next weeks, I will have to keep close tabs on my heart rate and breathing. Should the medications interfere in my riding performance, my ask to try different prescription.

No Restrictions

Monday morning I was able to see my cardiologist. Stopped at Jenny Edmundson Hospital to pick up lab report and copy of the EKG taken on Saturday. Then it was over to UNMC.

After the first consultation I was hook up to an EKG. Of course (Murphy's Law), at the clinic, I was in sinus rhythm. Doctor Sears showed me the EKGs, and the trace that showed the AF.

As we discussed the treatment (medications), I asked it I had any restrictions. He told me there are no restrictions. He wants me to record when and what I was doing when (if) I have another episode. See him again in 3 months. I headed out of the clinic with a prescription for Propafenone.

One of my friends said it best on Facebook. "Yeee HAAAA !"

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Atrial Fibrillation

This morning, I was going to take a bike ride on the Wabash Trace. As I prepared, I checked my heart monitor. Problems getting a reading. When I could get a reading, it was high and erratic.

This has happened before on a ride. I have been just chalking it up to monitor battery, bad connection to the skin, and others. But the batteries have been replaced and reset the chest strap.

Recently, I started checking my heart rate before heading to the trail. Today, with the high, erratic heart rate, I decided to go the the ER. That would show if I have a physical problem or malfunctioning monitor.

The diagnosis - Atrial Fibrillation - Irregular Heart Beat.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (part of the NIH)... "AF occurs when rapid, disorganized electrical signals in the heart’s two upper chambers, called the atria (AY-tree-uh), cause them to contract very fast and irregularly (this is called fibrillation). As a result, blood pools in the atria and isn’t pumped completely into the heart’s two lower chambers, called the ventricles (VEN-trih-kuls). When this happens, the heart’s upper and lower chambers don’t work together as they should." The heart diagram is from the NHLBI web site.

I am off the bicycle until I can see my cardiologist. :-(

Now - here is the important part. Had I not been using a heart monitor I would not know I have Atrial Fibrillation!. My problem is asymptomatic - I have no symptoms. No dizziness, short of breath, fainting, weakness, or chest pains.

Sure, a couple times I felt a little "out of sorts" riding up to Dumfries on the Trace when the monitor was not reading right. I thought it was because I did not eat right that evening. Most times all I did was take it easy a little when riding.

Now I know what caused the erratic readings - and a strong proponent of heart monitors. Trust your instruments - that's what they are there for. My monitor may have saved my life!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Letters to Senators Harkin and Grassley

From Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Transportation Enhancements (TE), the nation’s largest funding source for trails, walking and bicycling, have frequently come under attack, but Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) and our supporters have consistently risen to the challenge of defending this popular and important program.

Such was the case this week when U.S. Senators Tom Coburn (Okla.) and John McCain (Ariz.) submitted two amendments to the FY10 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. If these amendments had passed, they would have eliminated TE, which provides the majority of available federal funds for trails, walking and bicycling. In response to this attack, RTC issued an e-mail alert on Tuesday, September 15, asking supporters to call their U.S. Senators and ask them to vote against the two amendments. Given less than 24 hours’ notice before the vote on September 16, hundreds of you acted and helped sway this crucial vote.

Amendment 2370 would have prohibited the use of federal funds for pedestrian or bicycle facilities, efforts to reduce vehicle collisions with wildlife, and other specified TE projects if the Highway Trust Fund cannot cover unfunded highway authorizations. Sensing minimal support, Senator Coburn withdrew Amendment 2370 on the floor of the Senate.

Amendment 2371 would have eliminated the current set-aside that ensures funding for TE in all states. Responding to your calls to their offices, the Senate defeated Amendment 2371 by a margin of 59-39.

This is an important victory. But the fact that 39 senators—including both Democrats and Republicans—voted in favor of the amendment indicates that many senators do not fully realize the value such assets provide our communities. Please communicate this value to them now.


Sep 17, 2009

Senator Tom Harkin
Hart Senate Office Building, Room 731
Constitution Avenue and 2nd Street, NE
Washington, DC 20510-1502

Dear Senator Harkin,

Thank you for voting against Amendment 2371 on H.R. 3288, the
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill.

Four and a half years ago I suffered a stroke caused by a failed heart
valve. After my cardiac rehab I took up bicycling to continue my
recovery. Bicycling and walking trails in our area have been a key for
my remarkable recovery.

We need to encourage more people to take to the walkways and trails.
Because I have taking up riding bicycles, my doctors say I am in better
physical health than I have been years. Besides, I have been able to
stop taking anti-depressants.

Thanks again for your vote. You are doing a great job.


Tom Winfield


Sep 17, 2009

Senator Charles Grassley
Hart Senate Office Building, Room 135
Constitution Avenue and 2nd Street, NE
Washington, DC 20510-1501

Dear Senator Grassley,

I am concerned that you voted for Amendment 2371 on H.R. 3288, the
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill.

Four and a half years ago I suffered a stroke caused by a failed heart
valve. After my cardiac rehab I took up bicycling to continue my
recovery. Bicycling and walking trails in our area have been a key for
my remarkable recovery.

We need to encourage more people to take to the walkways and trails.
Because I have taking up riding bicycles, my doctors say I am in better
physical health than I have been years. Besides, I have been able to
stop taking anti-depressants.

Senator, I am very concerned with your vote. We need trails and
walkways as a part of a national wellness program. Your vote and your
negative attitude toward the President's health plan makes me wonder if
you are promoting higher health costs.


Mr. Tom Winfield

Another Road Ride

Yesterday I took the hybrid out for a road ride from Xtreme Wheels to US 34. That was a 32 mile ride.

Non-stop ride on the way South. When I hit the 1 hour mark I had 15.4 miles! In sections of L31 on the flats, I was mostly riding at about 17 mph. Granted, what there wind was was from my back.

Now, I was not pushing it because I knew I would have to ride into the wind on the way back. Also, I needed to reserve some energy for the ride on US 275.

On the way back, I stopped at West Oak Forest (Photo) for a break. At the junction of L31 and Hwy 370, I grabbed a shot-blok for the ride on 257.

At 2 hours, I was at 29.85 miles. Just under 15 mph. As I got to Wabash Trace Trailhead Park, I slowed down for a cool down. Ended the ride pace as 14.62 mph. That was the fastest pace for me. And I think pretty good for 32 miles!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

2500+ Mile

Back pedaling Monday. Had a SWINT (Wabash Trace) board meeting that evening so decided to ride Malvern to Imogene (or as far as I have time for).

Just as I left Malvern I met Randy - a Silver City residence. We were both stopping to clear a branch on the trail. We rode together to White Cloud. Nice to have someone to ride with.

Previously, I had ridden from the south to Strahan and out of Imogene perhaps again to Strahan. But This was the first time I attempted the Malvern to Imogene ride. That 13.6 miles section of the Wabash Trace is a roller coaster. Seem like always climbing or descending.

Today's photo -- believe it or not, THIS is 370th St in Mills County, Iowa! The Wabash Trace is to the left at the street sign. There are still dirt streets/roads in Iowa in the 21st century.

Didn't quite make it to Imogene when I had to turn back for the meeting. Think I was about 1.5 miles short (turned around at 390th St.) Back in Malverm, as I loaded the bike on the car, I see I got a flat - what great timing. That bike needs new tires anyway and are on order.

Yesterday was a "touring" relaxing pace ride on the hybrid. A ride to post miles, not training. Rode from the bike shop to S. Omaha Bridge, to Trails Center. Stopped for break and on up to the Bob Bridge. Then rode non-stop (except for lights) to the bike shop.

Blew past the 2500 mileage mark for the year. My 30 mile ride on paved trails put me at 2520 miles for 2009. That's over 300 miles over last year's total.

This was the first relaxing ride on the hybrid since the new tires. Really enjoyed the ride. Averaged just under 13 mph over the ride.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Trail Bike Tires

My Trek Fuel EX7 also got new shoes. After 2100 miles, the OEM tires were too worn - basically, no tread left. The bike shop had a pair of Continental Vapor 26 x 2.1 tires. They were mounted yesterday.

This morning, I had other things to do -- Trail work day signs to post, and a fraternity alumni luncheon -- so had to wait to ride until this afternoon. Headed out from Xtreme Wheels to Manawa.

As I started riding the path to Manawa, I could feel that this was not going to be a fast ride. My legs were just not ready for a hard hitting ride after the ride yesterday. As I turned into the singletrack at Lake Manawa, I sure felt the effect of riding on new tires.

When I started to wander out of the track and made a correction, I found I was over correcting. Like it was one of my first rides in singletrack! Was my riding getting sooooo sloppy that I could get away with that in worn tires? Am I too tired from the ride yesterday that I am riding so poorly? I think it was a little bit of both.

I almost stopped riding in the dirt after the West loop but trudged on. My riding was improving, but I could feel that my brain was being overtaxed, and a bit too tired. Finished a lap (ex No Second Chance) and headed back to the bike shop.

A proper test and report of the new tires will have to wait.

With the crazy weather we had this summer, the weeds grew to huge proportions. Add in lower volunteer attendance, some sections of the trail are overgrown. I hope we get a good turn-out for the Trail Work Days the week of September 20th.

We need lots of help with trail maintenance for the fall riding season and preparations for the Psycowpath Race scheduled for September 26th. If are in the area, please lend a hand.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tires Did Wonders

This afternoon I took a ride on the hybrid to check out the new tires. Blaine had selected Serfas Seca 700x28c tires. (The bike had OEM Bontrager 700x35c Select Invert B tires.) Did a quick ride to see how they rode. I could feel that I was riding much faster.

After re-setting of the computer, I headed out for a pavement ride. Rode from the bike shop to Trails Center, on to the "Bob Bridge", and back. That ride was 26.38 miles in 1 hour and 49 minutes - 14.52 mph.

My previous fastest ride (regardless of bike) was 14.33 mph on the Trek 4300. On the hybrid my fastest ride was at 12.94 mph. Today's ride was about 12% faster with the new tires.

I could feel some difference in bike handling. The response is faster. This may be the thinner tires and/or the higher pressure. That change I can get used to - is not objectionable. Hell, may be an advantage as I ride the bike more!

Regarding "comfort". There, once again I could feel the higher tire pressure. I could feel the bumps, road/trail surface stronger. That said, it did not make a big change and not objectionable - for the 26 miles. The Ergo grips I have been using helped lots. With the dirt riding I have done, my hand grip is looser - which I think helps the comfort. Will have to see as I do longer rides.

I am looking forward to make some longer rides on the FX next week. Did not ride the Fuel EX with the new tires. Will check that out within the next few days (trail conditions allowing). Watch for details.

OH, BTW - today made another 100+ mile week. Nearly 1000 miles since the 4th of July.

New Tires

Yesterday I stopped by the bike shop. Several things on my mind. The Fuel EX7 needs new tires, the hardtail is soon needing tires, looking way to ride faster on one bike, and considering a road bike.

I was armed with information and questions from my cycling books and

Should I look at purchasing a cross bike, a road bike, or modify an existing bike? Which bike and what components? What is a "plush" road bike? That and look a new tires.

Regarding a "plush" road bike - that is a less aggressive, more upright bike, like the TREK Pilot (see photo).

To get some more speed on my pavement rides, the hybrid is getting 28c road tires. Thought about 25c tires, but I want to be able to ride on the Trace once in awhile with that bike. Zack and Blaine agree the 28c tires is the ticket.

Zack has a pair of tires that will fit my Fuel. They came off from a customer's new bike. Getting them at a friendly price.

When counting teeth on chainrings and cassettes, I noticed that the tires on the 4300 are really getting in bad shape. Very concerned about riding it until it gets new tires. Was hoping to stall that purchase until next year (as it will get the studded tires this winter).

So, today starts testing for modifications and perhaps a new bike. And for my dirt riding friends, I am not turning to a "roadie", just looking for more variety.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Variety in Riding

I have commented before - variety in riding is a key for my riding. Here in the Omaha/Council Bluffs metro we are fortunate. We have very good paved trails, 5 dirt trails, and the Wabash Trace.

Today's photo is on River Front Real Estate at Lake Manawa SP.

Because of the relatively wet summer we have had, I have ridden more on the Wabash Trace. I have been amassing a large collection of photos of the Wabash Trace.

Back to variety - another secret of my riding this year has been in the variety of bikes I ride and own. At this time, my bikes are a hybrid (Trek 7200FX), a hardtail mountain bike (Trek 4300), and a full suspension trail bike (Trek Fuel EX7).

For the Wabash Trace - the best bike is the hardtail. Its just awesome for climbing and soft trail conditions. I often use the hybrid on the trace when I ride as a photo shoot, That's because the hybrid has a rear rack and bag. The trail bike does not respond well on crushed limestone.

In the dirt - its really a toss-up. Lake Manawa, where I ride most, a full suspension bike is overkill. I can ride well there on either the hardtail or the Fuel EX7. I like the comfort of the full suspension. So far, the hardtail has better handling. Recently I have started experiencing riding with the suspension locked -- that gives me some rear suspension.

On pavement - any bike is good. The surprising thing is that the hardtail is the fastest bike for me. You would think that the hybrid, with thinner tires, would be faster. Recent test rides, on my hardtail, I average about 1 mph faster than the hybrid.

This year I have been doing longer rides. Right now averaging about 25 miles per ride. Starting to look at a "faster" bike. Cyclocross bike? Road bike? With my experience with the hybrid vs hardtail, will either increase my speed?

BTW - for those interested - yesterday I topped 2400 miles for the year. Over 200 miles over last year's total. Have been riding about 100 miles a week since July 4th.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Xtreme Century Photos

My photos of Xtreme Century are posted on

Some of my photos at the Malvern stop did not turn out -- settings got changed on the camera. One of the things I do not like about the new (Canon Rebel T1i) camera - easy to change setting just with handling.

Anyway - hope you enjoy them.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dirt Rides

earlier this week, I rode dirt twice at Lake Manawa. The trail conditions have been good.

A couple problem areas are where folks rode when wet. This photo shows one such area in Fast Track. Ride that wet, muddy section ended up carving some deep ruts that keep filling up with rainwater. You can see that riders now have a re-route around the muddy part. The trail is now over 6ft wide! Our trail crew will have to do repairs during the next trail day.

Please - Do No Ride Wet Trails!

Monday, i rode from Xtreme Wheels, over to Manawa and did 2 laps of Manawa. Had a good ride. I was in my groove. Checked my pace on the 2nd lap - 40 minutes, 6 miles, 9 mph. Think I even overdid it. Really tired that night.

Yesterday was a "recovery" ride. Parked at Manawa and rode 2 slow laps (7.5 mph). Just what I needed. Feeling much better this morning.

Rain forecast for tonight. Looks like riding pavement and/or Wabash Trace again for a few days.