Living Outside The Box Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man


Building A 2-Wheeled Urban Assault Vehicle: Part 1

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

As I've written about many times, cycling is a great way to get fit and be practical at the same time. The toughest part will be getting your human-powered Urban Assault Vehicle ready for action. But fear not! We aren't going into uncharted territory. In fact, I'm going to show you just how easy it can be to build the Ultimate Pavement Bomber, on a budget.

Start With A Bike

Do you already own a bike? Good. You're better off than most people. Chances are you've got one of these three types of bikes:

  • Mountain Bike - fat/knobby tires, flat handlebar, possibly suspension fork and frame
  • Hybrid - skinny tires, flat handlebar, usually a suspension fork
  • Cruiser - fat tires, swept back bars, usually 1 speed (not always)

Any one of them can be pressed into service, with a few tweaks. If you already own a drop-bar road bike, then you're pretty much there. Hybrids are awesome for shorter trips (less than 20 miles) because the upright riding position is good for visibility in traffic, but longer rides can be hard when you've only got one position to put your hands in.

Let's assume the bike is in decent working shape: brakes and gears are adjusted and working, no loose hardware, and the bike is roughly the right size for you. If you have one of these rare unicorns, consider yourself blessed. If your bike needs work, then spend some time on Youtube learning how to adjust it, or bring it to a bike shop and have them do it for you (I recommend learning it yourself, for obvious reasons). Once your bike is in good working condition, it's time to make its conversion to the dark side complete!


Gear Review: Axiom Journey Rack

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

If you've ever tried riding somewhere with a heavy backpack, you can appreciate the practicality of having a rear rack to carry stuff.

When I built my bike years ago, I used cheap second-hand racks made of steel, and all of them broke under regular commuting use. So I went about finding a proper replacement, and stumbled upon the Axiom Journey rear rack.

The rack itself is made of welded aluminum tubing. It's surprisingly light for how strong it is, as it's rated for 150 pounds and only weighs 1.5 pounds! Believe me when I say this thing is beefy. The most I've carried on it is about 80 pounds.... one of my kids rode sitting on it with no problems. I'll just say my rear wheel would probably blow spokes before the rack breaks.


Mental Toughness

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

I just wrote an article for The Badass Forge (excuse the name, wasn't my idea!) about mental toughness and stepping outside your comfort zones.

Check it out here!


30 Days Without Coffee

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Well, that's not entirely true. I did have coffee. It was just decaf.

Yeah, yeah, I know. That's not "real coffee." But when you've been drinking a whole pot of dark roast a day, you kind of get into the habit.

I quit caffeine cold turkey for a few reasons. I wanted to sleep better, and I wanted to feel better when I wasn't sleeping. Excessive amounts of caffeine and sugar can cause what's called Adrenal Fatigue. That's when your adrenal glands are so overworked, you always feel exhausted.

So far, I've slept much better. For a week or so, I'd get a small headache every time I walked by the coffee machine at work! But those are fading, and I find I'm not as awake in the mornings, but also not as tired in the afternoons.

It's also helped lower my blood pressure, which I didn't really think was that high, but for someone of my size (I'm a skinny dude- there, I said it) it was still high.

I'll post updates on how this is going over time. For now, I'm just getting used to sleep working the way it's supposed to.


Geek Fitness Blogs

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

I'm intrigued by so-called "Geek Fitness" blogs. Technically, I guess I'd fit into that category, but not entirely. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least three geek-oriented fitness blogs that have started and failed (gone silent) in the last year or so.

I think the major reason they've failed is that they don't have enough content to really make it as fitness blogs, and not enough geeky stuff to keep people's interests.

As much success as I've had with being a physically fit nerd, there's only so much new information I can post. And I'm also pretty frugal, so I won't be doing tons of reviews on expensive fitness toys. I mean, have you seen the price of cycling power meters?? Yes, I have an exciting weight loss story, but I haven't really needed to start anything new. I'm still just riding my bike, and watching what I eat, like when I started five years ago.

The key to a regular fitness routine is: find something that works for you. Something you enjoy doing. Things like:


Fitness Check Today

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

I'm starving.

Well, I haven't eaten anything since yesterday, and I've been trying to work all day on an empty stomach. I've gotten to the point where I fell pretty bad if I don't eat... which means I don't have a lot of spare energy stored in the form of fat.

In about an hour, I'm going to get my company-provided health screening, and I'll be able to see my BMI and body fat%, plus cholesterol and blood pressure. And of course, I had to fast for the blood tests.

I'm hoping everything comes out well.

UPDATE- The results are in. The numbers look good:


Saturday Shennanigans

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

First off, sorry for not posting this Friday. This is the first time I haven't posted on a weekday in about four weeks.

This morning, I went for a nice, long ride with some friends at the local university. The team coach (also an English professor) invited me to come ride with the college students, to help teach them about group riding, and just general cycling form and etiquette.

It was really fun, though a bunch of people showed up, and I ended up pushing myself pretty hard. My Surly Long Haul Trucker weighs somewhere around 32 pounds, maybe more. All the other riders were rocking sub-twenty-pound bikes. I had to turn up the power to just keep up with them, much less do anything else. I pulled for a while, but as I expected, I ended up dropping off the back (that's cycle-ese for "I couldn't keep up and got left behind"). Even so, I made a personal best record for a ten-mile stretch. At one point, I was averaging 22 MPH, which for me, is huge. I normally can only maintain a 15MPH average, maybe 18 for short bursts.

It was both discouraging, and encouraging. I knew I was going to get dropped, because my bike is just so heavy and bulky. But on the other hand, I didn't expect to last as long as I did. It was kind of cool, and I ended up going back to the group, riding hard for a while, and getting dropped again- a few times, in fact. But once I rested my legs, I was able to crank it up to 20MPH again for a mile or two at a time.

This ride has basically got me thinking about 2 things:

  1. I really need to practice pulling harder efforts, and
  2. I could really use a faster bike when I ride with groups!

Screenshot - 09052015 - 08:28:52 PM


Ulnar Nerve Pain and Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Over the last year or so, I've been fighting a particular problem with my elbows. Mostly my right one.

There are two main nerves that go through your arm: the Radial nerve, and the Ulnar nerve. Your Ulnar nerve is the one that passes across the outside of your elbow and down the outside of your forearm, ending in the hand next to the two smallest fingers. This nerve controls your sense of touch in your pinky and half of your ring finger. It also controls part of the wrist function, and so on.

I first started noticing it when I'd wake up in the middle of the night, and my two smaller fingers were numb. I figured it was just asleep, like when you sleep on your hand and your whole arm goes numb from lack of circulation. But that wasn't it.

I finally connected the dots while attending a Hand Safety class at work, and the presenter mentioned Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, and then said the first symptoms were when your two smallest fingers go numb. I talked with him after the class, and he recommended using elbow braces, put on backwards, to keep me from flexing my elbows in my sleep and putting stress on that nerve.


Friday Commute: Socially Acceptable

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

If you use Endomondo or Strava, there's Bike Commuter Cabal groups there. Get crackin!



Fridays are Hawaiian shirt days! Well, not really, but I always wear one, so for me, it is.




Monday Motivation

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

As of yesterday, I weighed 165 pounds, which means I've lost approximately 10 pounds in the last 6 weeks. I think I'm going to focus on nutrition and building muscle mass at this point. Even though I could probably lose a bit more weight, I think I would be better served by increasing my strength and endurance, now that I'm within a few pounds of my ideal weight.

Here's some music to get you moving on this Monday morning.