Friday, February 27, 2009

Cycling and Bone Density

We've all heard that cyclists are prone to osteoporosis and that cycling weakens bones. Well, to borrow a quote: "I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that." First, although a study in 2000 from the American College of Sports Medicine did find that bicycle riders have bones that are less dense than people who don't exercise at all, bone density tests do not necessarily measure bone strength. Now, a more recent study from Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK compared bone measures of sprint and distance trained cyclists competing at World Master Track Championships along with sedentary controls (30-82 yr) and examined the associations of bone measures with age. The study showed that long distance cyclists have denser bones than sedentary control subjects and that sprint cyclists have denser bones than long distance cyclists (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, March 2009). The abstract of the paper concludes: "This suggests that competition-based cycling and the associated training regime is beneficial in preserving average or above-average bone strength surrogates into old age in men."

So we got that going for us, which is nice...

How the Bank/Wall Street/ AIG Bailout Should Work

Sunday, February 22, 2009

When It's Cold

This is how you dress when it's really cold out.

I remember one winter when I rode my $275.00 Gary Fisher Gitchee Gumee with a set of $400.00 Mavic wheels, slick tires, full fenders and ClimbMitts. This allowed me to keep warm and dry and nearly keep up with my usual road bike group who all rode on skinny tires and bikes that were at least 10 pounds lighter than mine. I'm not sure how I kept up. I think the coldest we rode was 8 degrees (F). On that day, if you include the cost of my light, I was wearing more $$ than I was riding. Now I wimp out if it's less than 20 degrees (F) out.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009

iPass Troubles

I have an iPass transponder. It's the newer kind, the one that does not indicate if the toll was collected successfully. Today, I got a "Notice of Violation" that I owe $83.40, which, I assume, is both the missed toll amount and penalties. I naively believe that I can fix this with a call to their toll free number which is on the letter .

So I call.

And get disconnected.

17 times.

I go to their web site which helpfully explains that I have to call them to resolve this. So I fill out a complaint form to pass the time while redialing. I eventually get through and am told how important my phone call is to them.

So while I'm waiting, I reread the letter. The first thing I notice is that nowhere on the letter is the date and location of the (alleged) violation. There is a nice photo of my car and license plate. There is a issue date which is not the violation date since I know I wasn't on the tollway that day. There is a due date, which is fortunately two weeks hence. There is the amount due, the violation number and a helpful reprinting of the section of the Illinois Toll Highway Act that explains that they can assess mandatory fines. There is a paragraph that says that failure to respond to the notice is my way of admitting guilt. The phone number that they want me to call to contest the notice is helpfully printed five times on the letter.

By they way. I'm still on hold. They said my estimated wait time is 10 minutes. It's been 19 so far.

They keep repeating that my call is important to them. They also say that for faster service I should go to their web site ( . Faster for them, maybe, because I can't resolve this issue on the web site. I know this because the web site says so.

I'm still on hold.

Their phone message also keeps reminding me what their business hours are. They close in about four hours and 15 minutes. I hope I don't have to stay on hold that long.

27 minutes.

I'm going to make dinner. I'll keep them on hold on the speaker phone and see what happens.

A little research turns up that the Tollway Authority has outsourced toll collection to Unisys. That's working well.