Today On A Bike

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I joined some friends for a night ride at Lake Evergreen yesterday.  My friend Tom took some great pictures during the ride, thanks!  When I saw the one of me by the bridge, I really liked it and asked to share it here.  It captures a lot of what night riding on snow during the winter feels like.

The conditions were great despite it being about 15º F.  Riding in the wind blocking woods coupled with some good layering made it really enjoyable, besides my out of shape legs being slightly angry with me.  The thin layer of snow over hard frozen dirt provided a lot of traction and good times.

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Today On A Bike

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It was so quiet.  It was as if I was the only person on the planet.  For years I’ve looked out on this lake as I rode single track that winds around it, but today I experienced it completely different, and it was made possible by a silly bicycle.

I’ve ridden countless hours at Comlara mountain bike trails since moving to Bloomington in 2007.  It’s been a big part of who I am.  The trails have led me down a path where I’ve met amazing people.  I’ve had life experiences that I may not have had if these trails didn’t exist ten minutes away from town.  I’ve traveled to far away mountain ranges and spent great vacations with amazing people.

For years, I’ve looked out at the lake that lies at the center of the local mountain bike trails.  It was something that always looked back but never really inspired anything from me.  But today, when I was on a ride I noticed that the lake was frozen pretty solid and some tracks were out on it.  Where I’d taken a right hundreds of times I choose to take a left, out onto the ice-covered lake.

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It was a pretty special thing to look in on the single track that’s changed my life in so many ways.  I saw views I’ve never seen.  It was areas that I know very well, but viewed from a perspective I’ve never had the privilege to see before.  I rode around the lake for a little while, enjoying the serenity and looking in at sections of single track that I’ve spent so much time on.  It was like looking in on the setting from a period of my life from a foreign perspective.

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Today I was reminded why these silly fat bikes strike a chord with myself.  They allow me these experiences that are unique and enjoyable.

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Today On A Bike

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After a long while of rain and warmer temperatures, it was nice to get out on frozen dirt today with a bunch of others.  I’ve been riding mainly pathways this winter staying active.  I’ve been mentally somewhere between off-season fun first riding and starting to work towards race season.

I signed up for Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival again.  It’s been a yearly marker for the end of my race season that I really enjoy both for the race but also the environment and hanging out with good people.  If you’re interested, you should check it out.  Registration is still open but the available spots will fill up.  I plan on racing the Illinois Mountain Bike Series and signing up for as many crits as possible.  But for now, it’s just about chasing the person in front of me and smiling, mostly.

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2015 Global Fat Bike Day

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December 5th is a fun little Holliday amongst a group of people who enjoy silly bikes, Global Fat Bike Day.  This year, I joined friends and others at the Peoria Illinois participation of the event.  We rode waterways and double track.  Smiles were had, silly adventures enjoyed.  Riding with a large group of fat bikes is the closest thing to being five with your first bicycle I’ve felt.  Look at that ledge.

I.  Must.  Jump.  It.

The ride was a lot of fun.  We rode the waterways, surrounded by graffiti.  Occasional ice and other slick surfaces made the off camber concrete riding surfaces interesting.

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There were lots of tunnels, some very long.  Long enough to drown out the sunlight, so we brought lights to navigate to more fun.

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It’s nice that even after five or so years of regularly riding, I still find myself in new situations and experience things like this ride.  I’ve ridden a lot of terrain, but never waterways like this before today.  Being a cyclist given me a much wider appreciation of experiences.  Everything from beautiful mountain vistas mid ride at elevation to freezing temperatures in a giant storm water tunnel, it’s all special with the right group of people enjoying the moment.  I’m thankful for these moments.

 

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Introspective – Dealing With Cyber Attacks

When I started my blog, I was inspired. I saw awesome stories in people’s lives and was fascinated with the I thought of sharing it with like-minded people.  People enjoying something, sharing it with the world for others to enjoy as well.  Continued enjoyment and inspiration.  I also thought having a blog would be a neat way to have a time capsule into a section of my life.  I wasn’t thinking about Ukraine hacking me in the middle of the night though, which is now a known part of continuing to blog. Sorry Ukraine, didn’t mean to single you out, there’s other offenders as well. This is me pulling the curtain back again to talk about my thoughts and lessons learned about the blogging process, specifically cyber attacks.

These green countries are awesome, they visit this site and come back regularly.  If you’re in one of those green countries, thank you.  Really.  Some people though, they don’t come here looking for fat bike pictures or my thoughts on biking at beautiful mountain passes though.  Some people like to break things.

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These red countries have hosted attackers of my blog in the last sixty days.  My site’s not abnormal from other sites, I just know a few things, have safeguards, and like metrics.  I know the site next to mine on the web with similar traffic gets hit just as often.  I manage enough online sites to see it consistently.  Bigger sites or more advertised sites get hit more than smaller sites.

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Why do they do it?  Boredom, wanting to attempt some internet hack they read about on a forum, trying to place ads on someone else site for revenue, to be malicious, or a handful of other common reasons.

What do I do about it?  Blogs like mine commonly use a few different frameworks to manage content.  I use one called WordPress because it’s awesome.  Wordpress uses a default login URL at yourSite.com/wp-admin.  A lot of attacker scripts know that fact and target that known login page with predefined login combinations.  So one thing that I’ve done to prevent this is to move my login page to another URL.  Sorry, it’s super secret now, only other soul that knows it is my floppy eared dog (and a handful of trusted people).  With that done, you’d be surprised at the percentage of attacks you can avoid.  Attackers tend to pick the lowest fruit on the tree.  If they can spend a few minutes to get into another site, they tend to look past a more secure site, unless they have reason to single a site out.

I won’t detail all of my security measures, but I’ll outline a condensed list in interest of hopefully helping other blogs or sites stay safe too:

  • Use good passwords, if you can find your password in a dictionary, someone’s name, a date, or all of the other common passwords, it’s no good.  Statistics say most people who read this common tip are offenders but don’t fix it.
  • Backups.  Backups.  Backups.
  • WordPress – Don’t use the default user name of admin.  Also, set up a nickname so readers can’t find your login name.
  • WordPress – Don’t use the default login URL.
  • WordPress – Install some sort of monitoring software.  There are plenty of free options that are awesome.  I like Wordfence for security monitoring and Jetpack for site stats.
  • WordPress – Limit login attempts with automatic IP address bans on repeated failed attempts.

Almost three years into this, attacks are still a thing.  It’s not a concern, I’ll continue to manage.  I think most site owners or blog creators don’t even know the level of attack they receive, at least I know and will continue to place the appropriate safeguards.  I’d like to think this will help someone.  Ideally this falls into the right corner of the internet and onto someones screen so they can enjoy the creative possess more and not have to worry about the bad as much.  If that someone is you and you need a hand, shoot me an email.  I’ll give you some pointers.

EDIT 11-23-2015: 1:42PM
I’ve had a conversation with a fellow site owner and wanted to add a word of caution.  Wordpress plugins are written by individuals and as such they don’t test how they interact with combinations of other plugins.  Sometimes bad things happen with software.  Technology…  I’ve locked myself out of my own site and other bad things in the past and as such, it felt like I needed to add a word of caution.

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