Feb 28

Spun Out

Wow… yesterday was a big day for me.  Thanks to all of my amazing friends, family, co-workers and those even more distant, I passed my fundraising goal!  When this was orginally set, I was honestly nervous about raising so much money… I’ve never done anything even remotely close to this level of fundraising.  I’ve been blown away by people’s generousity and support.  Thanks!  Now it’s time to re-evaluate and see what we can do about setting a new goal.

The second big challenge was our spin session.  I pushed it hard this past Sunday and went away truly feeling it.  All I wanted to do when I got home was to grab a nap, but Sunday afternoons is our family swim time so it was off to the pool.  It was not my most vigorous swim ever, but I made it and logged a good 3+ hours of honest physical activity.  I’ve already noticed some improvement on the bike.  Many sessions and miles to go, but it certainly seems like something I can achieve… if I continue to work dilligently.  It’s a powerful motivator when you think about the fact that those fighting cancer are working so much harder… certainly doesn’t make you one to complain.

Feb 06

Spinning Harder

Our training continues… but I still can’t meet my goal without your help.  If you haven’t donated yet, please visit my fundraising page:

http://pages.teamintraining.org/ri/ambbr11/mdieterich

Please donate what you can, every donation helps!

We spun for a bit over an hour today, definitely enough to induce some pain, but nothing compared to what people battling cancer are dealing with every single day.  As I headed into this session, I couldn’t get out of my mind how far reaching cancer is.  Almost everyone who I speak to these days has some connection, I’ve heard from so many people as they donate about their stories and their connections.  I have SO many more reasons to complete this ride than I did just two weeks ago.  Just yesterday, I learned a good friend of mine and a pediatrician has a patient who just came out of remission for Leukemia.  Can you imagine?  I have no idea how young this child is, it doesn’t really matter, clearly they have the vast majority of their life still ahead of them.  Yet, here they are, battling with Leukemia… preparing again for a battle so fierce that many of us, if we are so lucky, will never experience how deep (s)he must dig to pull through.

It’s clear to me that this is my time, my chance to do something to help out kids like this and other people facing cancer.

Jan 30

First Spin Session

We had our first group spin session this morning.  It was a great opportunity to see just how out of shape I am.   We had almost 22 people show up for the session and were told that if everyone who expressed interest in joining the team does so, we will be nearly 40 strong!

This is the first time I’ve ever tried spinning.  I’d heard horror stories from other cyclists about how many spin instructors focused mostly on strength training rather than “spinning”, which could actually lead to knee problems.  Fortunately, our instructor is also the team cycle coach, so his focus was really on building strength needed to ride a bicycle.  The one down side, it was really hot!  I definitely need to bring more water to the next Sunday’s session.

If you are interested in supporting my efforts you can do so online at:

http://pages.teamintraining.org/ri/ambbr11/mdieterich

Jan 29

Riding for a Cure

Dear Family, Friends, and Co-workers,

CANCER… In this day and age, it’s a word that has some connection to almost everyone.  Perhaps a family member, a friend, or co-worker of yours has been diagnosed with cancer and waged war on this horrible disease.

As some of you may have already heard, I will be cycling a century (100 miles) this June as a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program.  I have committed to raising at least $4,250, of which 76.2% goes directly towards research, patient & community service, public health education, and professional education – programs that make a difference in the lives of those fighting cancer.

My commitment involves fundraising, cycling on my own almost every day, and team spinning and rides on the weekends.  Most of these commitments I can handle on my own, but the fundraising involves you!  I have just over four months (18 weeks) to prepare myself and raise these funds.  Can you spare $5/week? $10/month? $25 just to get me off your back?  $100 because your life has been forever changed, in some way, by cancer?  Even more?  Every donation helps! You can support my efforts online at:

http://pages.teamintraining.org/ri/ambbr11/mdieterich

There are two major reasons why I’m taking on this challenge:

The first is a promise I made almost seven years ago to Tom Heft, my boss and friend.  Two days after Tom’s 40th birthday, he learned of his cancer, which was later diagnosed as stage IV Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  Tom fought the disease for almost two full years, spending much of that time sick as a dog, before ultimately passing away in March 2004.  I visited Tom multiple times when he was in hospice and it was during one of these visits where I confessed that I desperately wanted to do something to help him, but what could I do?  At some point in the conversation the topic of Team in Training came up and I left that day having made a promise to Tom that I would ride in his honor.  I had every intention of fulfilling this promise immediately, but my life distracted me.  Yet this promise has been nagging me for many years and, well, this is the year!

My second reason is my sister Amanda.  She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the ripe age of 17 on May 16th, 1997. This day will forever be etched in my memory.  The disease itself and the treatment have left her with lasting scars and a multitude of side affects that impact her daily life.  Even though she has been cancer free for 13 years, in the back of my mind there is this nagging fear that some day I will get that dreaded phone call, telling me the cancer has returned.  I ride, so that some day there can be a cure, and no one need live in fear of receiving such a call.

I hope you can help,

Mark

Dec 25

‘Twas the Bike before Christmas

‘Twas the Bike before Christmas

by P. R. Van Buskirk

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through our house
Not a creature was sleeping, not even my spouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with screws.
(If you can’t find the nails, what else do you use?)
The children were restless, awake in their beds,
While visions of spanking them danced in our heads.
I worked in my bathrobe. My husband, in jeans,
Had gone down to the den with directions and dreams
To assemble a bike that came in small pieces
With deflated tires and fenders with creases.
Soon down in the den there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my task to see what was the matter.
Away to my husband I flew like a flash;
He was shuffling through cardboard; his actions were rash.
The bike on the rug by this now flustered Dad
Soon gave me a hint as to why he was mad.
He needed a kickstand. It had to be near.
I shuffled some papers – he saw it appear!
We twisted the screws; we were lively and quick,
And we soon knew assembly would be quite a trick.
Fast as eagles in flight the pieces were found,
And he whistled and shouted for parts all around:
“Now socket! Now pedal! Now tires! Now brakes!
On handles! On kickstand! On horn! … oh… but wait!”
In the top of the toolbox, he fumbled around;
“I need two more screws!” he said with a frown.
And like all good parents determined to please
When they meet with an obstacle late Christmas Eve,
We shouted and yelled some complaints to each other.
There was never more frustrated father and mother!
And then, in a panic, we heard on the stairs
The prancing and hopping of feet… ’bout two pairs!
I opened the door and was turning around,
When kids burst from the hall with a leap and a bound.
They were dressed all in flannel, from their necks to their knees,
And their nightgowns were soiled with sugar and cheese!
Excuses poured forth from each pair of lips;
They stood in defiance with hands on their hips.
Their eyes were wide open, and each little child
Jumped when I yelled with a voice hardly mild.
They were frightened but cute, though much bigger than elves,
And we laughed when we saw them, in spite of ourselves.
A wink of the eye and a pat on the head
Soon let them both know they had nothing to dread.
They saw not a thing but went straight to their beds,
And we finished the bike and put bows on the sleds.
Then wheeling the bike by the tree (out of sight),
My hubby announced we should call it a night.
He sprang to his bed, to the clock gave a whistle,
As the time had flown by like a large Titan missile.
But I heard him exclaim as he turned out the light,
“Merry Christmas, my dear, but next year NO BIKE!”

Jan 14

A New Year

I don’t honestly know how many miles I put on my bike last year, but I do know it was far fewer than in previous years.  This year, however, I’m bound and determine to reverse the trend and get moving again.  I’ve been doing a reasonable job thus far, riding for a good forty minutes three times a week.  I also plan to do a better job posting updates here.

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I’ve finally figured out how to meld my phone and the photo gallery on this site, so I can easily upload photos on the fly 😉  This means, you all will be able to see far more of the photos I capture while out and about.  In fact, here’s one I caught the other day. Go ahead, tell me the people in this fine country aren’t addicted to television!  I’m sure, this is an apartment building, at least I hope it is, but still, I count nine satellite dishes.   A bit over the top?

Jan 14

Haiti

I just don’t know what to say about Haiti…   At one point, I read an estimate that there may be as many as 500,000 40,000 – 50,000 dead!  I can’t fathom that number of casualties and the level of destruction that would cause such a death toll.  All too often, I think we forget how good we have it in America, where for most of us, the dangers we face each day are largely self-induced; take for instance our insistence to drive most places, it’s far more dangerous than riding public transit.  Almost everything I’ve faced in my life pales in comparison to what people in Haiti must be going through now.

If you happen to be trying to find information about someone in Haiti, it can be particularly frustrating when the infrastructure is so badly damaged.  I want to make sure that every knows about the Salvation Army Team Emergency Network’s (SATERN)  health and welfare information request service.  This is a group of Amateur (HAM) radio operators in contact with other ham radio operators in a disaster zone, who specifically try and locate people in the disaster zone.  While most agencies are focused on the needs of people in the disaster zone, SATERN tries to offer a service for those who are affected by the disaster zone.

A few years back, I packed away much of my radio gear.  A disaster like this is a reminder of why I got into the hobby and has me longing to get everything setup again so I could actually help out.

Jul 22

Monster Ship

26180This past Monday and again today, my commute has taken me past an absolutely monster ship at the Providence docks.  Judging by the name, I can only assume this is a car carrier.  I snapped a few quick pictures with my phone, which really doesn’t do this ship any justice.  In one of the pictures, you can just make out the tug boats, which are only about 1/3 the height of these ships.

As I was riding along, I began to wonder what how large a ship transporting bicycles, capable of carrying the same number of people as those cars, would be?

Feb 10

Going Greener

Today was the first day of the year I managed to ride the full length home from work, boy am I out of shape!  By Rhode Island standards, we’ve had a snowy winter so far.  There has been snow cover on the ground pretty much from Christmas and there are still traces of snow in areas with tree cover.  Unfortunately, this includes the bike trail, so I’ve spent most of the winter months doing a combined bike and bus commute.  This method still let’s me get about 6 miles a day on the bike, but it’s pretty much devoid of hills.  Needless to say, my ride home tonight was both rewarding and humbling.

Towards the end of last year, my 9+ (can’t honestly remember exactly when I got it) front light was starting to become flaky.  I’d done surgery on it a few times.  It was behaving okay, but would occasionally decide to just turn off after going over a bump or need a little encouragement to turn on.  I didn’t fully trust it and, with Christmas coming up and heading into the season where I’d spend a lot of time riding in the dark, I decided to ask a few elves for some help towards the purchase of a new light.  A friend of mine convinced me I should seriously look at hub generators and associated lighting systems.  While they are more expensive up front, the money saved from not needing to charge them and the longevity, he promises me I can get at least twice the life out of one of these, I decided to take the plunge.  I went into my local bike shop in November, after doing my homework, and asked them to gather the various pieces.  I had heard rumors that these new LED lighting systems were hot in Europe and tough to get your hands on, the rumors were true.

Fast forward to a week ago and I now have a working lighting system on my commuter bike.  I ended up going with the Shimano DH-3N70 hub with an IQ Fly Senso.  The light has a standlight function, so it will stay on for a few minutes after you stop moving, it does dim down almost immediately once you stop rolling, but turns back on at full output once your on the move again.

Initial reaction… it’s everything I could hope for.  The hub generator is barely noticeable at speed.  I think the bike does decelerate a bit faster once you stop pedaling, but I can’t notice a difference when I’m on pedaling.  It’s also brings a smile to my face knowing that my already green commute is even greener!

Jan 28

Bristol Bike Plan

I’ve been terribly remiss about writing any cycling related entries on this blog, most of my energy has gone towards Bike Providence and Bike-to-Brown.

As of today, I finally have some bike related news that doesn’t quite mesh with either of these efforts, so I figured I would post it here.  I had a great meeting with Walter Burke, Bristol’s Director of Parks and Recreation, and Susan Klein, Bristol’s Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation.  Independently, they had been thinking about cycling around Bristol and were given my name by the Town Planner.  Perhaps I’ve just bugged her about enough bike related issues that she felt it was time to deflect me to somewhere else, just kidding … I think…

In the meeting today, we decided to work together to create a comprehensive plan for biking in Bristol.  We are going to take an inital pass of this plan with just the three of us and then open it up for public feedback.  Once we go through a round of public feedback, we will work to prioritize the list so that we have a ready to go list of projects as money becomes available.

What a great day.  Someone from the town government is paying attention to the needs of cyclists!