Monday, May 1, 2017

National Bike Challenge Starts Today

The National Bike challenge is a nationwide event uniting thousands of current bicyclists—and encouraging countless new riders.

I've been a Bike Challenge participant for several years now. It's easy for me because my daily commute to work combines riding my bike with our city's public transportation bike-and-ride program, where I can bring my bike along on the bus with me.

I started commuting over a decade ago. Back then, I was an avid runner, and I wanted to find more time to get the miles in. My solution was to give up my downtown parking and take the bus into work so that I could run the five miles home in the evening.

Originally, I had hesitations about giving up my driving. I had this notion that I was giving up my freedom or something. That, and I imagined the city bus (have you seen who rides the bus???) would be a horrible experience. So, for the sake of running, I gave it a try.

It turns out that I couldn't have been more wrong about the bus. The drivers are professional and friendly, the fellow commuters are no hassle, and best of all, I discovered how how great it was to relax while someone else managed the road. All that for a buck twenty-five.

When our local public transportation authority added bike racks to the front of the bus, I pretty much gave up running, which was alright, because that meant I could do what I loved even more: riding my bicycle.

It takes me about 8 minutes to comfortably ride the 1.3 miles from my house to the bus stop. Those eight minutes are enough to put a smile on my face each morning. Who doesn't love riding their bike? It's a fantastic way to start my day.

Financially, commuting makes a lot of sense. For one, parking downtown costs $75 per month pre-tax. I spend about $25 per month to ride the bus. Maintenance aside, quick math shows that I save $600 per year by commuting and not paying for parking.

That's a lot of chains and inner tubes.

Granted, commuting's not for everyone. Dropping kids off at daycare/school can make it difficult. Another hindrance could be time: unless you're living near an express route, or are in the mid-town sweet-spot with a direct connection to your destination, the bus can be slow. Fortunately, my commute from 62nd and Dodge on a local, direct bus only takes 15-20 minutes, which is not much slower than by car.

Still, I'd like to encourage you to give commuting a try. It's easy to find a route, schedule and ETA to final destination through google maps.

Finally, get signed up for the National Bike Challenge already. It's fun, you can win some prizes, and it benefits our community while you walk, run, ride or commute by public transportation.

Keep the rubber side down. Thanks for reading.

Over the years, my #trekbikes 2010 Madone has been raced all over the Midwest, but it now serves as my "B" bike/trainer/daily commuter. Its Bontrager Aeolus race wheels are as comfortably nestled in the wheel wells of  the city bus' bike racks as they are in railing neighborhood corners in super commuter mode throughout Omaha. #RideBontrager  

Friday, April 28, 2017

I just washed my bike


That's the figurative dust being blown off this blog. I said I'd update this from time to time, so why not now?

It's cold and wet outside. At 40F with light rain, you'd have to be either nuts about cycling, or just plain stupid to ride in this stuff. Or both. Hello, let me reacquaint myself with my reader. My name is Brady. I have a passion for riding bikes, no matter the time or place or condition.

Anyway, Shim had asked me through a text if I was riding today.

I told him that I was, and that I had 1.5 hours of hill repeats that weren't going to ride themselves.

Shim replied, "it's all rainy and stuff."

I don't mind the riding in the rain from time to time. If it was everyday, I'd probably have to come up with some sort of coping mechanism besides shrugging my shoulders and acknowledging that it would be an uncomfortable ride. Thankfully, most of my rides aren't.

I answered that I was leaning towards riding in the afternoon when the chances of rain were less, but I'd go over lunch if he wanted to join me. Either way, I was going to ride no matter what.

He declined.

I don't blame him, nor do I hold it against him. Honestly. Riding in the rain, much less a cold rain, isn't very fun. My thoughts are that it's perfectly valid to simply decline the invitation.

"No thanks, have a good ride" is more than sufficient.

Kudos to Shim, because he did just that.

But then he shot me another message: "I don't want to catch a cold."

Now that -- the excuse of not wanting to catch a cold-- is what I have a problem with.

C'mon Shim. You have better excuses than that. Our (as in several of us who know Shim) -- our personal favorite excuse of his is, "I just washed my bike." Yes! We like that one because at least that's acknowledging something truthful: nobody likes a dirty road bike.

Saying, "I don't want to catch a cold" is a bunch of crap. And I told him so.

Being wet and cold doesn't produce a cold. That's been debunked. You have to catch a virus for that.

Shim replied, "Tell that to Bill Winke".

So I said, "Who is Bill Winke? If you give me his contacts, I will."

Bill Winke is apparently a college buddy of Shim's that is an avid outdoors man, and knows a thing or two about being prepared for the elements. In short order, Shim produced Bill Winke's website, which included an, "Ask Bill" feature.

So here's is what I submitted to Bill Winke:

Hi Bill,

My good buddy Greg Shimonek says that cold, wet weather can make one sick. I think that he's using that as an excuse to not join me on a one hour bike ride in the cold (40F) light rain. When he said, "I don't want to get sick," I countered that his thinking has been debunked, that one must get a virus to get sick. He replied, "tell that to Bill Winke".

So Bill, per Greg's request, I'm telling you that cold, wet weather doesn't make a person sick.

Brady Murphy

PS: I like what you've done here. Nice website!
PPS: could you copy your reply to Thanks!


If Bill should reply, I may post it here.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Monkey On My Back

Yes, I raced with a little monkey in my speedsuit's back pocket this past Tuesday night. Thanks for noticing, Bryan Redemske.

The monkey was there to cheer me up. Not that I really needed cheering up, because bikes are fun. But I've been feeling off my game lately: fatigued, turning squares on a weary crank, and having very low motivation. I'm at a loss for an explanation for my general malaise. I've stayed very consistent in my training this year, and my ride log suggests that I should be on form right now. Yet this is hardly the case. Even worse is that there has been several times where I did not feel like riding recently. Last Saturday's pre ride pep talk included convincing myself that I'd feel better afterwards having completed the workout than blowing it off altogether. This is not a good place to be in.

I suppose I'm feeling this way because the end of the road season is upon me. I hit it hard for several months this spring and summer, and the miles have finally caught up to my legs and my mind. I'm simply tired. As Forrest Gump said after the end of his long run, "I'm pretty tired. I think I'll go home now." I'm not quite there, but something like that. Anyway, it's August.

So the monkey. Yeah. I can't recall exactly when or where, but I think I found that chimp abandoned along the roadside during a winter ride years ago. For the rest of the season, I had that little feller dangling from one hand from the back of my saddle. I even made him a winter weather outfit for him out of an old glove, complete with pants, a skull cap and even a little scarf. And I do say, that scarf completed the ensemble for my little simbian. He was a happy monkey. You want your monkey happy.

Since then, the monkey's mostly been hanging around our home. Every so often, he migrates from place to place, like our own version of elf on shelf. He's randomly appeared on window sills, on book shelves, dangling from a lamp, and on night stands. Every now and then, he still accompanies me on a bike ride. It's usually reserved for a special occasion, like the first Spring ride when it's warm enough for short sleeves, or the first WNW or cyclocross group ride of the year.

Last Tuesday, it was to remind me to have fun. I did have a good time despite not racing well. Thank you monkey.

He's off my back now and currently sitting on a shelf in the laundry room, probably dreaming about his next bike riding adventure.

A video posted by Brady Murphy (@brady.murphy) on

Friday, July 1, 2016

Messin Around

We ride for all kinds of reasons, but it mostly comes down to transportation or recreation/racing. You could probably guess that I prefer the latter, but someday when I don't (can't) race my bike anymore, I sure hope that I'll be able to ride for transportation and just riding around (JRA), you know, for tacos and stuff.

Yesterday, I was riding for racing. I was doing a hot and spicy anaerobic workout that Mark Savery gave me. Anaerobic repeats are not fun, but they are mercifully short due totally blowing up while doing each effort. Short bursts are important in racing. A good example is when one needs to bridge to a breakaway, like when Lee Bumgarner attacks so hard that when he achieves escape velocity, and he has entered into a super-aero tucked position, his bike continues to accelerate. Meanwhile, those left in his wake are throwing down copious amounts of wattage trying to catch back on his wheel. I'm one of those guys, and I'll only catch him if I'm prepared to do so. This is why I was doing anaerobic repeats yesterday. Honestly, it was because of Lee Bumgarner. Thank you Lee, and Mark Savery, for making me faster.

My buddy Fred Hinsley happened to be riding nearby when I was doing these repeats. Having spotted the familiar high-vis green kit and red Bontrager XXX shoes of Harvest Racing, Fred paid me a visit. I had just completed my sixth of nine anaerobic efforts, and I was a little breathy when he wheeled up next to me.

Huff huff huff huff...

I saw the Harvest kit and thought to myself, 'whatever Shim is doing over there looks crazy'.

Huff huff -- Un huh, yeah -- huff-huff -- what are you -- huff-huff -- up to?

Messing around.

Huff huff huff huff. Yeah, me too. I'm just -- huff-huff -- messin' around.

Ha! I can see that.

It turns out that Fred was on a recovery day, spending some time working on turning skills in the parking lot. I liked the idea and made a mental note of using my next recovery ride to also do some turning skills. We talked a little more, then I completed my workout as he did his turns. Since we're neighbors, we  rode home afterwards, just shooting the breeze.

We ride bikes for all kinds of reasons, whether it's for transportation or recreation/racing.

But really, it all comes down to just messin' around.

Monday, June 20, 2016