BAK

Tom Bihn Saved Me Twice In The Same Trip

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I just returned from my trip back to my home State of Kansas. The purpose of that trip...a 500-mile bicycle ride across the State in an event known as Biking Across Kansas (BAK). During this trip my Tom Bihn gear saved me twice. The first time was while boarding my flight from Florida to Kansas. I had my iPad Pro under my arm so I could lift up my carry on bag into the overhead compartment and the iPad slipped out and hit the floor of the plane. It must have hit with considerable force because multiple people on the plane let out a gasp as it hit the floor. Lucky for me my iPad Pro was protected by a Tom Bihn padded sleeve. My iPad was completely unharmed.

Fast forward almost a week. We were going to bed in our tent on the last night of BAK and there is a storm approaching. As many people do, my son, my Dad and I were camping in a tent that night. Given the magnitude of the storm we decided to retreat from the tent into our truck. We grabbed everything we could hold and made a run for the truck. Several hours later after torrential rain, lightning and 70 mph winds...the storm finally broke. My Dad and I waded (yes, it rained that hard) from the truck to our tents only to discover that they had both been blown over. So we were sleeping in the truck for the few hours that remained of the night. When we awoke at dawn we went back to the tent remains to scavenge what what left and under the heap of tent was my Tom Bihn Tri-Star face down in 3 inches of water. Despite soaking in water all night my work iPhone and all of my clothes remained completely dry. I did have to throw out my power cables and adapters that were in the front pouch of the bag but everything else in the bag came through untouched. Thanks to Tom Bihn I didn't have to explain to my employer why a Kansas storm destroyed my iPhone and I was able to make the 3 1/2 hour drive back to Wichita, Kansas in clean dry clothes. Sometime you get what you pay for with a product and Tom Bihn's bags is certainly an example of that. I wrote a review of the Tri-Star on GeekDad.com last year and have been a very happy customer ever since.

Teaching My Teen To Drive With a Bike

I just signed myself, my wife and my 15 yr old daughter up for Bike Across Kansas (BAK). BAK is a 500+ mile bike ride across the state of Kansas that takes place every year over the course of 7-days. Approximately 850 riders participate every year and every type of bicycle rider is represented (roadie, beach cruisers, haven't ridden once all year until now...). Needless to say it is a blast! So what does this have to do with teaching my daughter how to drive?

Like I said, this will be my 3rd time doing BAK. Even with all the riding experience I get from cycling around the area of my home in Florida it pales in comparison to the perspective I gained by riding BAK. Being an extremely vulnerable road user on a 500-mile journey really brings home the trust that must exist between the driver of that 2000 pound missile coming up behind you and the human navigational unit on the 18 pound carbon fiber bike with a styrofoam helmet for "protection." My Driver's Ed teacher from High School once asked us what kept the car on the other side of the dividing line of a 2-lane road from crossing the center-line and crashing into your car head-on. The answer was "trust." Sure, there are other things like laws and insurance liability that certainly deter you from crossing that line, but in the end you have to trust the other road users. As a vulnerable road user not only do you have to trust other road users but you also must learn to take precautions just in case that other road user doesn't do the right thing. My theory (and this is just a theory) is that the perspective you gain by having to not only obey traffic laws while you are on the bike just like you would if you were driving a car but also having to pay extra attention to all the other cyclists and cars on the road because your safety is on the line....will make you a better road user (piloting a bike or a car). I want my daughter to know what it's like when she gets behind the wheel and comes up behind a bike riding on the street. Most driver's are extremely uncomfortable, either because they are concerned about how much this cyclist is slowing them down or they are concerned about how much the car behind them is going to be concerned about having to pass a cyclist. What the driver really needs to be thinking about first and foremost when coming up on a cyclist on the road is keeping both himself/herself and that cyclist safe. After you have done a long bike ride like BAK the safety of the cyclist you pass in a car is the first thing that comes into your mind. If that is the only thing she gains by doing this ride with me and my wife then I've succeeded, but I think she will also come away with a better understanding of the rules of the road (I'll make sure of that). When I ride my bike I follow all the same road rules that I do when I driving my car (no rolling through stop signs for me).

With all of this talk of being such a vulnerable road user on this ride let me be very clear, this is a very safe ride. The ride route is chosen such that we are on well maintained but light traffic roads as we cross the state of Kansas. Our route is patrolled by police and state troopers to ensure both bikes and cars follow the rules and stay safe. The ride organizers also constantly communicate with the riders (every night at our post ride meetings) safety tips and reminders about how we should be riding and following local laws the next day. Sure, there are segments of the ride that can encounter some vehicle traffic or that have little to no shoulder, but that is a small portion of the ride. We typically only encounter traffic as we leave the town we camped at the night before and as we ride into the town we are staying at that end of the current day's ride. When I get back from the ride I'll also be teaching my daughter how to drive using conventional methods...you know, a car. I'm convinced I'll have a safer teen driver as a result. Oh, and did I mention that she doesn't have a choice? Yeah, her Mom and I told her she won't be allowed to get a driver's license until she rides on BAK with us. She doesn't have to ride every mile of it, she only has to ride as much as she is comfortable riding...but she does have to ride.

I wanted to share this with everyone, not because I thought most of you would follow suit but because you can use this basic concept without having to do a long bike ride. Take your soon-to-be teen driver out on bike rides in your neighborhood. Show them how to be safe as a cyclist and how to obey the road rules. It's fun, great exercise and it helps build some extra trust between you and your teenager long before you have to hand-over the car keys and pray for your safety as you sit in the passenger seat as they drive.

2013 Resolutions

I don’t typically do the whole New Year’s resolution thing. Generally, if there is something that I want to do or think I should be doing I make the change and get it done. That being said there are a few things that I am going to do this year to help ensure I stay on track with all of the things that I decided long ago to take on as tasks and a few minor changes I am making. What better way to stay honest than to publicly share what I’m doing.

One of the biggest changes I am making is with my diet. No, I am not GOING on a diet, I am changing my diet. The difference being that this change is more of a lifestyle change instead of something I am just doing to lose weight for a few weeks or a few months. Why? Because my current way of eating is makes it too hard to maintain a healthy weight and enjoy a physical lifestyle. Going to the gym and riding a bike on a regular basis and eating a bunch of processed foods don’t go well together. If last night’s dinner was an indicator, this new way of eating is going to be really tasty! Our family is going to start following the Paleo Diet. This one just makes a lot of sense. The human body doesn’t change overnight, yet the way our food is procossed has changed drastically over the last several decades. These changes and the rise in obesity is no coincidence. So how am I going to keep up a regular cycling training program on the Paleo Diet? Simple...it actually works extreemly well. With just a few tweaks of the paleo diet the very low carbohydrate intake can actually work very well with a heavy physical training routine. The book “The Paleo Diet for Atheletes” by Loren Cordain and Joe Friel explains how the paleo diet can be tweaked slightly for athletes such that the low carb diet can drastically improve recovery times between workouts as compared to a high carb diet.

The next change I am making is with my workout routine and schedule. With my wife in school full-time it is nearly impossible to find time to workout on a regular basis, much less have enough time to make significant progress with increasing my fitness. I did “ok” last year going to the gym and doing indoor bike trainer workouts, but only rode 301 miles outside on my road bike all year. In years past I would generally ride more like 3000+ miles! So this year I am starting off with the Cyclo90 90-day off-season training plan by Graeme Street. I’ve been using Graeme’s CycloClub workouts, especially his 30-minute HIT (High Intensity Training) workouts over the past few years and I never would have made it though some of the toughest days of the Bike Across Kansas segments if it weren’t for his training methods. So this year (starting today) I am going to start and complete the 90-day off-season training program and get back into shape on the bike! The great thing about this program is that you can do it anywhere...outside on the bike, inside on a trainer and at home or a hotel with no bike at all!

Another change I am making is taking back full control of my finances. I’ve always had a budget and stuck to it, but we also use credit cards for all of our purchases and payoff the balance every month in order to take advantage of the points. Not anymore. Credit cards can take 2-3 days before the transactions shows up on my account, so my budget is always several days behind what I have actually spent. How am I supposed to control my spending if I NEVER know how much I have spent so far for the month? So I am moving away from credit cards and moving away from my current bank and moving to Simple. Simple is a tech friendly budgeting solution combined with a banking institution all rolled into one package. I won’t go into a ton of detail, but the main feature for me is that Simple keeps track of everything you spend for you and is always up to date so you know exactly what you have spent. Your budget and savings goals are built right into the banking site and application so you always know how much you have left to spend and how you are doing with respect to your savings goals. It is centered around a debit card instead of the credit cards I have been using, but the way I see it is that I have the potential to save more money every year by making smart and informed decisions then I could ever earn in credit card reward points. So I’m making the switch!

The last change I am making is to make an effort to play piano and guitar EVERY DAY. I’ve been playing the piano since I was a little kid and have been teaching myself slack key guitar for the past couple of years. In fact, I play piano a church every Sunday but most weeks that is the only time all week I play the piano. I have always wanted to start playing more, but something always seems to suck up all my free time. So I am making a goal for myself to pickup the guitar and sitdown at the piano for at least a few minutes everyday. I really enjoy both the piano and guitar, so its not a matter of discipline but rather a matter of getting into the habit of allowing myself to take time everyday to do things I enjoy doing.

The key to keeping myself honest with all of these changes is the last change I am making. A few months ago I bought the Day One journaling app and have used it off an on. It is a great app, but I haven’t been using it nearly as much as I was hoping to. So I am going to start writing in it everyday. I am going to set an alarm for myself that will go off around bedtime to remind me to spend a few minutes writing about my day. When I do this I will also write about what did or didn’t do that day with respect to the changes I just talked about. Nothing will keep you on track more than having to write down every night that you failed to make any progress on your goals once again today. This will do one of two things for me...it will either keep me honest about my goals and make sure I make progress everyday or it will make me realize that possibly one or more of the goals I set for myself isn’t as important to me as I thought they were when I set them. Either way I will make progress and that’s the whole point!

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