Thursday, December 31, 2009

Windy windy windy windy windy

Another day, another ride. How nice is that?

Before heading out I turned on the TV long enough to check the temperature. It was a balmy 50 degrees out. Not bad. I got kitted out and then headed out to the garage to put air in my tires, got hit by a blast of wind and immediately went back inside to put on more clothes.

It turns out that there is 50 degrees and then there is 50 degrees. I hadn’t checked the wind speed when I had checked the temperature, and, since the wind was blowing at 16 to 24 mph, it made a difference. Change the gloves for heavier ones, change the hat for one with ear flaps, add booties and a vest and then hit the road. It was still cold, but that was okay.

It was one of those days where, in the crosswind, your bike leans heavily to one side, in the headwind you ride like you’re Marley’s ghost wrapped in heavy chains and in the tailwind you fly along at a blistering pace. (There’s my Christmas reference for you.)

(Once, after having ridden in a thirty mile an hour wind – the cables on my bike were singing – I headed to the bike shop and talked about the ride with Steve. It turns out I had averaged nearly 18 mph that day. A customer overheard us talking and expressed amazement. Steve explained that I had probably ridden half the ride at 6 mph and half at 30 mph depending on whether I was headed into the wind or riding with it. That was probably about right, too. Steve knows.)

Most of the cars were really quite polite today. I did see one car – a white sports car begin driven by a young man in an orange hoodie. He was either very short or was slumped down so that nothing below his nose was visible above the steering wheel, and the hood of his sweatshirt was over his head and pulled almost down to his eyes.

That’s not suspicious at all.

I got pursued by a very hopeful brown and white dog, and the dog had reason to be hopeful since the evidence indicates that it could have had me for lunch any time it desired. It bounced at me and ran at me repeatedly, cannily blocking my path as much as possible, undaunted by shouts from me and squirts from my water bottle. I finally got away from it, but I admit to having a handful of rocks as I passed by on my way back home. The dog was chained up at that point. This is more regard than I am used to from dog owners, I have to admit. I can remember one time when a dog owner told him dog, “Get ‘em, boy!”

Here are some ways to tell if it is windy.

If you turn a corner and your speed suddenly drops by eight or ten miles per hour even though the road is still flat, it’s probably windy.

If you coast downhill and find yourself losing speed, it’s probably windy.

If you turn around and suddenly gain five mph with no extra effort, it’s probably windy.

If your vest, which you thought more or less fit you okay, suddenly turns into a drag chute, it’s probably windy.

But, you know what? At least you’re out riding, so good for you.

See you on the road.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas

So, it turns out that I have a blog. Who knew?

Well, if you’ve been reading this blog…or, rather…not reading this blog, you may know that I keep trying to ride my bike and life keeps getting in the way. (Mind you, I don’t like the sound of “life getting out of way” as that sounds uncommonly like something unpleasant. I have been getting outdoors a bit, though, doing some geocaching.

Lately I have been wondering if the name “Lunicycle” suits me. Not, you understand, because there is any doubt about the first half of the name. It’s the second half. Can you call someone who only longs to ride his bike a cyclist?

I finally did get a ride in (and there was much rejoicing). It was a brisk 50 degrees out, but there was very little wind. I figured my legs would be just so much dead wood, but it turns out they were still legs after all, and they were still up to propelling a bicycle around at a reasonable rate of speed. I figured I should enjoy that while it lasted, but it turned out that it lasted for the whole ride.

I rode hard all the way. Too hard, as it turned out, since I had to pull over and hang over the handle bars while I waited to see if my all to hastily eaten lunch was going to pay me a return visit. (It didn’t.)

When I got back home I was tried and quite surprised to find how fast my average pace was.

Well, maybe I can still call myself Lunicycle after all. What do you know.

Now, if I can just make good use of my vacation time by getting some more miles, life will be good, even if it does get in the way sometimes.

See you on the road.

Maybe I'll even have something to post tomorrow. Wouldn't that be a shock?

Friday, December 4, 2009

It Isn't Over Yet

I went to the bike shop today. I like going to the bike shop. I like seeming my friends. I like seeing all those rows and rows of gleaming bikes ready to hit the road. I even like the way a bike shop smells – an amalgam of metal, rubber, lube and who knows what else. Sweat, probably.

Despite my (ahem) limited riding schedule of late, I somehow managed to run out of chamois cream. I figured that, while I was there, I would also pick up some carb-boom (apple cinnamon if you really must know) and ogle all the lovely toys I couldn’t possibly afford to get.

Steve and Dave were both there. “Hey, do you remember this guy? Didn’t he used to ride with the club?”

That would be me. Did I mention my limited riding schedule already? I did, right? I thought so.

Looking at the chamois cream I laid on the counter, Steve asked, “Given how much you’ve been riding lately, does this stuff taste as good as everyone says it does?”

In the course of the conversation, the approaching end of the year came up. People are looking at closing out their mileage logs for the year and people (and, by people I mean me) are looking at their rather dismal mileage totals and vowing to do better next year. (Hey, If I can just get in a couple of thousand miles in the next three weeks, my mileage total for the year will look fine.)

So, what about you?

Do you live in one of those unforgivingly cold places, so your bike is already languishing in the garage? Or do you live in one of those luxuriously warm places that earn you the undying enmity of everyone who lives in one of those unforgivingly cold places, so you’re trying to figure what all the fuss is about? Or do you live in one of this in-between places – sure, it’s cold, but you can still ride.

(While we're on this topic, check out Cyclin' Missy's blog.)

Of course, but you can still ride is rather in the eye (legs?) of the beholder. I know people who will cheerfully (or grimly) ride when the temperature is in the thirties and other people who won’t put on lycra if the temperature dips into the sixties.

As for me, well, I just bought all that chamois cream. I guess I’ll have to use it somehow. (No suggestions, please.) I have two weeks off over Christmas, and I intend to see how many miles I can get before the year is over.

Weather permitting, of course. (Jörg says, “Don’t be a weather weenie.”)

Pretty soon it’ll be time to break out the winter cap with the ear flaps. I may look like a goof (and I was forced by circumstances to stop worrying about that a long time ago) but at least my ears won’t fall off.

See you on the road.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Nice Day

The temperature in Honolulu (motto: Nicer than where ever you are) today is 78 degrees F. I’m not in Honolulu, though. The temperature where I am (motto: We’re not Honolulu) is 61 degrees F with a ten mph wind. Mind you, I’m not complaining. After all, the temperature in Akureyri (motto: We're running short on consonants) is 34 degrees F and the temperature on Pluto (motto: We may not be a planet anymore, but they didn't name Mickey Mouse’s dog after Jupiter, now did they?) is -387 degrees F, so it could be a lot worse.

By the way, and completely off the topic of cycling, is anyone else bothered by the fact that Pluto and Goofy inhabit the same universe? I mean, Goofy is anthropomorphic and (more or less) sapient and Pluto is pretty much just a dog. It’s disturbing, somehow.

Anyway, I got off work a bit early today and had time to squeeze in a ride, so that’s what I did. (I didn’t quite get off early enough to ride with anyone else, unfortunately, but a solo ride is a still a ride.) It was one of those rides that’s great from the start. The first pedal stroke out of the driveway was nice and smooth and my body said, “Oh, I remember this. I like this.” (This was a far cry from my last ride.)

About three miles into the ride, I spotted another cyclist. He was cruising down the hill I was getting ready to climb, but that wasn’t his fault, I guess, so I gave him a wave. (Now, be honest here, do you ever, when you see someone riding toward you, sit up and pedal hard no matter how tired you feel or how windy it is just to make a good impression on a complete stranger? No? Me neither. Really.)

I cruised past a church which I remember well. I paused there once on a blazing hot day to sit in the shade, have a drink, and eat something. I can’t remember what I ate, but I remember that it had more or less melted in my pocket.

A little later I was heard that rustling sound that may indicate a dog on the run. I glanced over, but it was pretty obvious that there was no way a dog that brachycephalic (hey, I’m a biologist. We all talk that way) was going to catch me, so no worries.

This was not the case on my way home, alas. I was riding along and kind of daydreaming when two medium sized dogs came after me shouting threats and indicating a desire to see the color of my insides. I was feeling good, so I hit the gas and then a fist sized knot of pure pain formed in my left gastrocnemius. Okay, calf muscle. Sorry. It’s habit.

In other words, I had a choice between trying to pedal more or less one legged to get away from these dogs or stopping to work out the cramp, thus letting said dogs catch me. I decided to keep pedaling. I may have said one or two things out loud at the time…I don’t quite remember. The dogs gave up and the cramp passed but I could feel little twinges in that muscle all the way home.

I passed a jogger on the way. We gave each other a neutral sort of wave. We’re both out exercising, but each one of us was convinced that the other had the wrong idea about how to exercise. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends, right?

I chose a hard road going out – hills and hills, and I rode the same road back home again. Hey, if you’re going to ride, you might as well ride hard. (Steve says, “If you still have breath to talk, you’re not riding hard enough.”)

The ride was short, not much over 20 miles, but it was a lot of fun. Please, sir, I’d like some more.

See you on the road.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

You're Welcome...?

Powering up…zap…crackle…

…all right, Igor…

Throw the Switch!

Sarcasm generator ON

Now, maybe it's the fact that I'm a bit under the weather today (which has nothing to do with the fact that it's very cold and rainy so I won't be riding) or maybe I have just reached my annoyance tolerance level, but...

I have heard from a lot of people who don’t think that bikes should have to share the road with cars. I am beginning to think that this is a good idea. Mind you, my solution and their solution may not be identical.

I remember having a conversation with a woman who said, “I think people should be allowed to ride their bicycles all they want, so long as they don’t do it on the road.”

“Where should they do it, then?” I naively asked.

“I don’t know.” The unspoken finish to that comment was, “And I don’t care.”

Lest you think that I’m being unfair by including an unspoken comment, take my word for it. It was hanging in the air will almost bell-like clarity. Here’s a blog I came across where things are spoken very clearly indeed.

It is often suggested that automobile drivers should learn to share the road with bicyclists. In my opinion, it is foolhardy and dangerous for bicyclists to be on the highways with motorists, period. Bicycles no more belong on roadways than autos belong on bike paths.

Well, you can’t ask for much more clarity than that, can you? So, pray tell, why not? I'm sure the writer will enlighten us.

Bicycles are slow, small and difficult to see; autos may weigh tons, and, with their automatic transmissions, are powerful and fast at a light touch of the foot. There is a question of timing and visibility here; and should a tragedy occur, proof of who is at fault would do nothing to mend bodies.

Now, the interesting thing about this comment is that it shows some understanding of the situation. The last line, especially, is the writer speaking the truth. Good for him. And yet…

Too many cyclists are clueless as to rules of the road — either for automobiles or for bicycles. This complicates matters for motorists, who are required to pass a written examination on rules of the road, and pass a road test to obtain a driver’s license. And young teenagers are required to attend a 30-hour driver-ed course, to boot. This is gross and unfair to motorists, whom we expect to share the road with bicyclists.

Well, hold up there, Tex. Does the guy think that cyclists don’t drive cars? As a matter of fact, nearly every single cyclist that I know has a driver’s license and has thus been through the driver’s ed course and has taken the written exam and road test to get that license. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of cyclist do know the rules of the road.

Mind you, they don’t always obey them, but that isn’t because they don’t know them, but that's a whole other post which I probably won't write.

This unfairness is magnified immensely when contrasting the mandatory costs of having the two types of vehicles use our highways. Registration and license fees, taxes and a sensible insurance package with liability and collision coverage may cost in the thousands of dollars for a responsible car owner but perhaps zero for unwitting cyclists. Should a bicyclist be the cause of an accident, there would be no mandatory liability insurance for any injured parties; in all probability too, in court, the cyclist would walk.

Okay, I was spluttering so hard I had to clean up my keyboard after I read this one. (Don't dwell on that picture for your own sake.) The cyclist would walk???!!!!!!! Everybody has their own opinion…but some of us know the facts.

Even drivers of automobiles say they are afraid to drive on the highways. Yet they have the car’s protection and the stability of four wheels. “Driving is no pleasure,” they say. They will even say, “It’s crazy out there — like a racetrack, a war zone.” No one owns the roads; bicyclists are permitted and certainly welcome on them. Still, it is folly and dangerous for them to be out there.

Bicyclists are certainly welcome on them. Well, isn’t that nice.


Are we, in fact, welcome on those roads?

Well, regardless, I intend to keep riding on them. I hope you do, too.

My solution to all of this is to get more drivers on bikes. After all, the vast majority of us know what the road is like from behind a windshield, but there are a lot of drivers out there who have no idea what it's like over the handlebars. Now that's a situation that needs to be rectified!

See you on the road.

Tomorrow I shall be happy and light :-)

Monday, November 30, 2009


I found this strange device in my garage. It was all chains and wheels. It seemed vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. The wheels made it seem as if was meant to be pushed or ridden, and it was easily narrow enough to straddle. I tried that, and what I originally took for a seat was so darned uncomfortable that, for a moment, I doubted that it was meant to be a seat at all.

It had these two sticky out bits (not that I want to get too technical on you) but they seemed awfully skinny. Then I found these odd shoes in my closet which, believe it or not, had metal sockets on them that the two skinny sticky out things fit neatly into with a satisfying click.
Deciding after all that this odd but strangely familiar device was some sort of vehicle, I decided to go for a ride on it. The temperature was about thirty two degrees out, but I found all of these odd clothes in my closet. Getting dressed was like getting ready for a deep sea diving adventure. I wonder if the knights of old had so many things to put on.

Shorts. Heavy tights. Under armour. Jersey. Vest. Gloves. Toasti Toes. Balaclava. Wool socks. Shoes. Booties. Helmet.


Wait a minute. Tights and booties? Yep, we cyclists are a manly lot.

“Are those your cycling gloves?” my Lovely Lovely asked.

“Nope,” I said. “They’re cross country skier’s gloves, so they don’t have padding everywhere I wish they did, but they’re the warmest gloves I have.”

They are, too.

I thought that it was really cold in the garage. Then I stepped outside and the wind hit me. Oh, my goodness. It was cold with a capital brrrrrrrr.

By the way, I called this bi-sicle because it was like a popsicle. See? It sounds bicycle but it was really cold out and people would get it because they would…um…think of a popsicle…which is…really…cold? No. That didn’t work, did it? Never mind.

I was not the only crazy out on the road in the freezing cold this morning. Quite early on a saw I guy jogging. Now, if I shaved my head totally bald and it was that cold out, I think I would have had a hat on. He obviously disagreed.

What with the heavy clothes and the wind and the cold and my lack of saddle time lately, it was hard going. At one point I started pushing hard and my legs cussed me out and then asked me what on earth I thought I was doing.

Scenes of Star Trek went through my head. The real Star Trek.

“Scotty, give me more power!”

“I canna do it, Captain.”

Then, about twelve miles into the ride, my body suddenly woke up. It was amazing. I could almost hear the click as the machinery kicked in. All of sudden, I was a cyclist again. The pace picked up, I felt my blood pumping. It was great.

There’s a particular stretch of road where I always try to push the pace as hard as I can and maintain it. Today it was a little more difficult, and I had to resort to the “until I reach” trick.
I’m going to keep this pace up until I reach that sign. Okay, now I’m going to keep the pace up until I reach that mail box. No, that mailbox is too far away. I’m going to keep this pace up until I reach that clump of grass. Okay…

I passed a guy riding the wrong way down the road, perilously close to the yellow line. I mentioned him to my Lovely Lovely who asked, “Was it a cyclist of just a bike rider?”

She has learned well.

It was cold and hard and really really fun. I’m still alive after all.

Now all I have to do is get back out for another ride sometime this year. That would be great.

See you on the road.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Science Geekery

Are you as much of a science geek as I am? (If you are, congratulations. If you are more of a science geek than I am, you have my pity.)

If you are, you might enjoy this website that I stumbled across. Have fun.

Yesterday my Lovely Lovely said the sweetest words a woman can say to her husband: I think you should ride more. (Granted, this could mean that she just wants me out from underfoot, but I think it more likely that it means that I get really grumpy when I don't get to ride.)

See you on the road. Maybe even today.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Is there such a thing as good music to ride to?

I ask this question because I have serious doubts about the advisability of having earphones or earbuds on or in whichever particular orifice you choose to use for you listening pleasure while out riding the roads. I have been known to wear an mp3 player while riding around my subdivision, but I don’t ever wear one while riding anywhere else. I like having my ears free to listen for approaching cars, dogs, alien spacecraft, elephants, whatever might happen to wander by, really.

There are, however, many people who disagree with me. They say that having music with you on the ride can be very stimulating. Keith, for example, likes to have some good old fashioned rock and roll, and, if he doesn’t have an mp3 player, is likely to start singing. Lisa says that an mp3 player is great, because that way if Jörg and Dave start talking politics, she can simply reach for the volume control and listen to her music instead.

(Editorial note: having a dyed in the wool republican and a yellow dog democrat on the same ride can make some quite interesting conversation, and other people have been known to toss statements out just to get such conversations started. It can be something of a spectator sport.)

(Editorial note on the editorial note: Jörg and Dave are great friends, so the spectator sport is never in any danger of becoming a contact sport, and I find the conversations they have entertaining to a high degree.)

(Editorial note on the editorial note on the editorial note: this post has too many editorial notes.)

But I digress. I was talking about music, and, while a conversation can have its own music, that wasn’t really what I meant.

Music can certainly stimulate you and get your legs pumping, and it just might help you keep the pace high or make your way up that hill, but it can also take your attention away from the ride. I have heard people listening to music say, “I made it up that hill and never even noticed it was there.” They seemed to think that was a good thing, but I disagree. You’re supposed to notice the hill was there, just as you are supposed to noticed the other people on the ride with you, the wind, the deer than just ran across the road in front of you and the SUV that’s coming up from behind. It’s all part of the ride experience, and I generally don’t want that experience to be submerged in music. I can listen to music at home.

If you’re on a ride with your mp3 player and the other people on the road have to repeat what they said to you more than once because you couldn’t hear them over the music, then you aren’t really on the ride with them at all.

However, if I am on a little recovery ride around the neighborhood on the hybrid, I do tend to listen to music. There are only a few miles of road, and I have to go over them again and again. There are also very few cars, and they tend to be moving very slowly.

So, what is the best music for listening to while riding?

I have to give first place to The Tannahill Weavers. If that doesn’t get your legs moving, nothing will.

Beyond that, the Penetrators, the Torquays, the Diamondheads, the Atomic Mosquitos and groups of that ilk are all excellent listening. And, as always, The Ventures.

If you haven’t heard of some (or any) of these groups, then we don't listen to the same kinds of music, I guess.

If you listen to music on a ride, what do you listen to? Speak up. Now’s your chance.

See you on the road.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Group Ride

What about a Saturday 9:00 am ride? You can’t possibly have to work then.

Well, as it turns out, Jörg was right. I didn’t have to work then. I did have to play for a wedding that afternoon, but that was another story, and I was sure I could squeeze in a ride in the morning. (My Lovely Lovely was less certain, mind you, since there were things around the house that needed to be done, but we worked that one out all right. She is, after all, lovely lovely.)

There was a nice group there: Jörg, Bobby, Dr. Bob and Bob, Karen, Lisa, Tom, Mike, Keith and Rick. (Bob, not to be confused with either Dr. Bob or Bobby) and Keith took off to do a mountain bike ride. They planned to swing by Wal-Mart to pick up some other riders (wow, they really do have everything you need at Wal-Mart) but the rest of us planned to hit the road. No one in living memory could recall the last time that Rick, Dr. Bob and I had all been on a ride together.

It was what we call a “social ride”. That is, the pace was easy so everybody could just enjoy the morning and chat. I had a great time. (I don’t know about anybody else. After all, I got to chat with them, but they were reduced to having to chat with me.) We took a route that I hadn’t been on for awhile (mind you, lately it feels like I haven’t been on any route for awhile) but which I remembered well. The temperature was in the mid sixties and the wind was certainly present but not brutal, and I got a chance to catch up with some people. (Socially speaking, that is. Even I didn’t have to catch up physically, since the pace was too gentle for anyone to get dropped.)

The weather prediction had been for no rain, and it was almost wrong. We could see the clouds ahead of us as we came in, and the sky spat a little bit, but nothing major.

As we were riding in over the last mile, I recalled a lesson I had once heard someone given on when it was inappropriate to sprint.

If someone tells you they aren’t going to spring, you shouldn’t necessarily believe it. That might merely be a tactic. But, if you’re attentive, you can tell when a (nonverbal) truce has been called and there won’t be a sprint. It is quite gauche to sprint at such times.

This day, of course, there was no question of a sprint. It simply wasn’t that kind of a ride. So, I waited until we were all of three feet from the finish line and, just as pure silliness, nipped ahead. Mind you, I had to get up to nearly 16 miles an hour to do that. Whew. (This was a really social ride. We came in with an average pace of about 14.3 mph.)

The whole ride was great. I wish you could have been there.

See you on the road.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Two Wheel Trouble?

Two-wheel troublemaking: Have motorists let bicyclist 'rights' go too far?

Everytime this “writer” mentions cyclists rights, the word is always in quotes. I don't think he likes us very much.

For a decade, urban bicyclists have become more brash. In some cities, groups such as Critical Mass organized mass rush-hour bike rides that tied traffic in knots, delaying commuters rides' home by minutes or hours. They are hardly tactics that will win sympathy from drivers.

Well, that’s true. This may be how to influence people, but I don't suppose it's how to win friends.

In the aftermath and as their numbers have increased, cyclists have become emboldened to take over the road. That is, instead of riding to the right or on the shoulder, some are now riding in the center of the lane.

Taking the lane? Horrors!!

Two incidents underscore how they are putting themselves in danger. One incident involved a cyclist hit and killed by accident. The other case is a motorist who is alleged to have tried to make bicyclists crash into his car on purpose:

The writer is very concerned about the poor cyclists. That’s nice, isn’t it?

In the first case, a driver on the way to work struck a St. Mary's County, Md., bicyclist earlier this month and killed him, police told The Washington Post. The driver, a 20-year-old in her Honda Accord, told police she never saw the biker. But the accident might have been prevented if the 47-year-old bicyclist had been riding in the right, not in the dead center, of the lane, a major contributor to the accident.

Or course, the accident might also have been prevented in the 20-year-old driver had been paying attention to what was right in front of her.

In the second case, a Los Angeles doctor is on trial for allegedly slamming the brakes on his car to cause two bikers to run into him. They did, suffering bloody injuries. The doctor, Charles Christopher Thompson, was allegedly peeved over having to slow down for three bikers blocking his path, refusing to pull to the right and flipping him off as he passed. He is on trial for having pulled in front of them and, according to testimony, hitting the brakes so that bikes were sure to hit. One biker needed 90 stitches.

The doctor allegedly slammed on his brakes because he was allegedly peeved, but the cyclists didn’t allegedly refuse to pull to the right and didn’t allegedly flip him off? There’s certainly no bias in this writing, is there? What's the hippocratic oath say? First, do no harm.

By the way, that trial is now over. Thompson was convicted of six felonies: two counts each of assault with a deadly weapon and battery with serious bodily injury as well as reckless driving causing specified injury and mayhem. He was also convicted of misdemeanor reckless driving.

For a little perspective, Drive On sought out Jeff Peel, a program specialist heading the League of American Bicycle's campaign for Bicycle Friendly Communities. His contention is that the road is "not motorist space. It's people space." Bicyclists are road users, too, even if they travel at the fraction of the speed of a car. In fact, he says, that's good.

"The idea is you are slowing traffic, which may be frustrating to some motorists but making the road safer for everyone," Peel says. "Creating safer roadways and right-of-ways for all users sometimes requires taking space away from automobiles."

Taking space away from cars? Ouch.

Allegedly taking space away from cars.

When late to work, it pains a driver to slow down for a bunch of bicyclists hogging the roadway. In the past, you might have tried to steer around them. These days, they are right in front of the car.

Oh, my goodness, the poor driver. And those cyclists are hogging the roadway. Cars would never do that, now would they? Oh, dear, I guess the sarcasm meter is a little high today. Sorry about that.

It will be interesting to see how far this goes, whether bicyclists are allowed to stay in the middle of the highway. As the deaths mount, maybe it will become clear they need ride to the right.

Again, it’s all about the cyclists for this writer.

Okay, so perhaps I’ve been a bit sarcastic here, but is anyone else annoyed by the way this article was written? Or, for that matter, by my comments about this article? Let's be equal opportunity, after all.

You know, most drivers are not cyclists, but most cyclists are drivers. I’ve been in my car and late for work, but that isn’t the fault or the problem of the cyclist out on the road.

Cyclists aren’t always polite to the drivers of cars, which strikes me as unwise. If that driver gets ticked off and buzzes me or hits me, I’m going to feel it more than he will, so I’ll limit myself to a shake of the head at an annoying driver rather than a more emphatic gesture.

Still we can still ride, and that's all to the good.

See you on the road.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Bike Lane is Where?

City puts bicycles directly in the path of motorists

In one of the busiest shopping districts in Long Beach, California, bicyclists are kings of the road in an experiment that turns frustrated motorists into serfs.

Well, I guess we can tell the point of view of this article right from the beginning, can’t we?

The seaside city south of Los Angeles is encouraging bikers to get right in front of cars. It painted a five-foot wide green stripe down the middle of one of the two lanes in either direction of the Belmont Shore section of the city. Even though cars were whizzing by at 30 miles an hour yesterday, bikes were free to ride right in their path.

So, there is a bike lane and it runs right down the middle of the car lane. Interesting. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this as a concept. Let’s see how some other people felt about it, shall we? Somehow, I think the guy who wrote this article will tell us.

Some locals are livid about the experiment, which began in June.

That’s how.

"It's stupid. I can't even believe it," said John Cameron, who has lived in the area for 50 years. "To put them out in traffic is just stupid." It's slowing down traffic and putting bikers in harm's way, Cameron said

And it’s all about taking care of the cyclists, right?

adding that he rides a bike himself, but he says he always stays to the right.

Well, of course he does. That makes his opinion unbiased against cyclists, and that’s why he got interviewed for this article.

Long Beach is leading the pack as bikers assert more "rights" around the country:

“Rights?” In quotes? Really? Is that like saying cyclists are “smart” or “courteous” or “really good looking in those funny clothes”?

Drive On came to Long Beach to check out the bike vs. car feud after we reported last week how
more bicyclists are riding directly in the path of cars, instead of on the shoulder or to the right of the road. Bikers say it's sometimes unsafe to ride at the far right side of the road. But it in Maryland recently, center-of-the-road biking led to a death, a bicyclist killed by the car of a driver on the way to work one morning.

Which obviously proves that cyclists should never take the lane. After all, you only need one data point to extrapolate a theory from, right?

By installing the lane and other bike lanes around the city, Long Beach is trying to become a
bike-friendly city. The Press-Telegram, the leading newspaper in the city, reported that the city has won $11 million in federal funds to create bike lanes and other improvements. It has the nation's first Bike Station downtown, where commuters leave their bikes to take public transportation.

Nice. Bike friendly is good in my book. And in my blog, apparently.

One of the city's leading bike advocates, John Case, stands behind the experiment. "The green bike lane basically makes a statement to all car drivers in Long Beach that (the) vision embraced by the city council to be the most bike friendliest urban city in the USA means there will be changes in the urban street scheme to accommodate and encourage urban bike commuting," Case says.

“most bike friendliest?”

But the green stripe through Belmont Shore rankles many. Barber Mike Schafer, whose shop gives him a front-row seat to the bike action in Second Street outside, says the green lane is causing a lot of trouble. Bikers on beach cruisers are meandering along in the center of the lane, disregarding honking horns of the drivers being held up for blocks behind them, he says. One of them "just gave us 'the bird.'" For the bikers, "there should be signs saying 'Keep up with traffic.'"

Sigh. The driver who just got ticked off by another cyclist may be the driver who encounters you while you’re out riding.

Bicycle advocates say bikers in the center of the lane helps slow down traffic. But cars vastly outnumber bikes. Second Street can get 40,000 cars a day, compared to an average of 400 bikes a day when traffic was checked earlier this year, the Press-Telegram reported. About a dozen stoplights are only about 500 feet apart in the area, filled with bars and restaurants that make bikes convenient for getting around. Jeweler Dave Mancia says his customers are divided -- bikers like it and motorists hate it. And for him? "It's good but it can be dangerous," he says. He says he sticks to riding his bike in the alleys that parallel the thoroughfare.

Let's be careful out there, shall we? Bike lanes or not, a 2000 lb beast is an uncomfortable bedfellow.

See you on the road.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Well, life is getting in the way of cycling lately, but I wanted to report some good news. Check out Dave's website at to check out another stage of his recovery after being hit by a car while out for a ride.

You go, Dave. You're my hero.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Do you want to know why I'm not out riding today?

You don't?

Oh. Short post.

Well, what the heck, I'll tell you anyhow, because that's the kind of giving person I am. I give people stuff they don't want.

My Lovely Lovely made me go and get a physical, the results of which demonstrate that riding a bicycle is a good thing, but I got a flu shot and a tetanus booster, one in each arm, and now the idea of supporting any of my weight with those arms on a bike is not one that appeals to me, which is a longwinded way of saying that my arms hurt.

No ride for me just yet.

But, since none of that was very funny and since my physical (don't start singing that Olivia Newton John song or you won't get it out of your head for hours. Ooh. Shouldn't have mentioned it, right? Sorry.) turned out well, here's a nice link for you to click on:

Funny cycling comics here. Check it out.

See you on the road.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Slow and Easy

Today was supposed to be a day off, which would mean a long ride, but I had a sick sixth grader to deal with. She had what I think of as Student’s Disease. The progression of symptoms runs something like this:

Sunday 8:00 pm: The child does not feel well. The symptoms are vague and could indicate not enough sleep in the last 48 hours, an allergy, a cold, influenza (choose the strain you like best), mononucleosis or possible bubonic plague. Announcement of the symptoms is usually followed by, “Mommy, if I feel this bad in the morning, can I stay home?”

Monday 6:30 am: Symptoms are markedly worse.

Monday 12:00 pm: Symptoms are largely gone and the child is exhibiting symptoms of boredom and the beginnings of cabin fever.

Monday 3:30 pm: Child wants to go to a friend’s house and play

Early Monday afternoon, with symptoms progressing as expected, I decided I could sneak in a short ride. With the temperature at 57 degrees and the wind blowing 10 mph, I decided tights and long sleeves were called for. This was one of those days when I was properly dressed as long as I was in motion and too hot whenever I had to stop.

The cars were generally not bad, except for that guy behind me who suddenly realized that, if he didn’t pass me right now he would have to wait an additional twenty seconds or so for that oncoming car to go by. (Needless to say, the road was empty all the way to the horizon after the oncoming car.) He slammed the accelerator to the floor and roared past me in a whirl of noise, passing me way to close for my comfort but, presumably, not for his.

I reached an intersection and thought about turning to make a big loop, but the cars kept on coming and kept on coming and kept on coming and I finally decided to just turn around and go back the way I had come, which was when I noticed an odd (and annoying) thing about the wind.

Has this ever happened to you?

The wind is at your back, but it is a gentle zephyr which might be adding a tenth of a mile per hour to your speed, then you turn around, and the windspeed picks up until it resembled a force 3 hurricane which is literally blowing you backwards as you try to pedal into it. I don’t know how the wind knows that I have turned around, but it does.

The ride was quite nice.

As I was spinning, I thought of the book French Revolutions by Tim Moore which I mentioned last week. Well, I’m afraid that I’m going to score a DNF on this one. I have abandoned the book because the author annoyed me. (I am sure that, even if he were aware of this, Mr. Moore would be largely untroubled by it, which is as it should be.)

You see, he dedicates the book to Tom Simpson, about whom he natters on almost endlessly. Now, Tom Simpson’s end was probably tragic. Some people find it heroic as well. Read up on it and make up your own mind.

The author, after talking about how much he admires Simpson, decides that he will dope to make sure he can get up Mont Ventoux. He indicates that, if he’d been able to get EPO (and could be certain of living through the experience of using it) or HGH he would have used that, but, since he can’t, he makes do with more easily obtained and less effective means. I’m not interested in reading about this.

His justification is that every successful pro in the history of cycling except Gino Bartali has been a doper, so, even though he is simply riding (part of) the Tour de France route on his own as an amateur, he might as well dope, too. All of this annoyed me sufficiently to make me put the book down with no intention of picking it back up again. It can go back to the library and broom wagon can sweep me up. I’ll find a new book.

Tomorrow, with Student’s Disease well on it’s way to being cured, I’m looking for a nice long ride. I hope it’s as nice as today’s ride was.

See you on the road.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How Not to Go Crazy

Cyclin’ Missy recently wrote:

It's a long time before spring. It'll be easy to get lazy when I don't want to go outside, let alone drive to the gym. But I'm kind of excited right now to find creative ways to keep myself motivated to exercise over the winter months - spin class, weight lifting, indoor mini-tris...attempts to manufacture variety with the same old gym equipment. Maybe even going outside to ski. I'd love to hear about other people's techniques for keeping yourself moving in the winter.

Now, I don’t have quite the same problem that Missy does, because she lives in a colder place than I do with a lot more snow. (Which makes more sense than if she lived in a warmer place with a lot more snow, I guess.) Where I live, it seldom actually gets too cold to ride (if you’re something of a masochist, that is). You might think it’s too cold to ride, but it almost never really is.

After all, if these people can ride, what do I have to complain about?

The question where I live is not “what do I do to keep myself occupied and in shape indoors?” but “How can I convince myself to go out and ride when the temperature is in the low thirties.” This is not a bad conundrum to have, because I really can ride when the temperature is that low, as long as I have the right clothes, the intestinal fortitude, and some Toasti Toes.

Yes, it’s true, I am, like many cyclists, a fashion plate, obsessing about what I wear.

You see, my problem is, I can’t stand to work out indoors. I don’t care if I’m listening to music, watching a video, listening to an audio book, it doesn’t matter. After about fifteen minutes of indoor riding, I am bored out of my skull.

If you have strategies for not going crazy indoors, head on over to Missy’s site and give them to her, but I’m afraid I don’t have any. I’d rather go out and freeze than try to ride my bike indoors or use gym equipment. I have no objection to being indoors. Give me a book to read and then leave me alone and I’m content, but the indoors was never meant for people who were riding a bike. (And why on earth did I decide in that previous sentence that indoors was plural?)

Yes, I know, that’s easy for me to say because it doesn’t snow much and the temperature doesn’t get much below freezing here most of the time. I’d be singing a different song if I lived in North Dakota or Finland (and then my song would even have to be in Finnish, and then where would we be?) but I’m not.

In fact, just a few days after Missy posted on this topic, the weather around these parts was a balmy 76 degrees. I suppose I should have felt bad for everyone who lives in colder climes, but I have to admit that I was too busy riding to think about it at the time.

So, did Missy ever find any really good tips to keep herself motivated? Don’t let me spoil it for you. Go on over to her site and check it out for yourself.

See you on the road.
Remember: if it's too cold outside, ride harder. That'll warm you up.

See you on the road.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

We're Not in Kansas Anymore...

Having finally taken the time to measure the setback on my saddle and (hopefully) get it put back where it belongs, I clearly had to go for a quick ride to check things out. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to wash my kits…uh-oh

I am not going to wear dirty shorts. Aside from the fact that it’s simply disgusting, it’s also a great way to get saddle sores, so I dug around and came up with an old pair of shorts that had long been retired for having been worn too thin for comfort. (Not for my comfort, you understand, but for the comfort of anyone who happens to be riding behind me. Well, there wouldn’t be anybody riding behind me today, so that was all right.)

Once again the temperature was nice – a balmy 73 degrees, and once again the wind was not so nice – 18 mph. Hooray. When I clipped in and hit the road, my body said, “Ah….” as I settled into the saddle, because it finally felt right again. That was nice.

Almost the first thing I saw was two hawks riding thermals maybe thirty feet up, wings spread, looking all majestic. (This made a nice contrast with me, clad in lycra, not looking majestic at all.)
I was really feeling kind of lazy today, so I kept my pace gentle. (It was just because I was feeling lazy. That screaming wind had nothing to do with it. Really.) I also decided, on a whim, to do some exploring today (because that sounds a lot better than saying I got lost).

Early on I passed another cyclist going in the opposite direction. I always like seeing other cyclists on the road. It gives me hope for the world.

I turned down a road at random and then down several other roads at random. I have a pretty good sense of direction (possibly the only kind of sense I have), so I always knew which direction home was, but I wasn’t quite sure how to get back there for awhile. I cruised past fields of dead corn, fields of cotton, and leaves of tobacco lying along the side of the road (as if Hansel and Gretel had been smokers and had used tobacco leaves instead of bread crumbs to mark their path) and, as the sound of banjos seemed to hang in the air, it occurred to me that it was a good thing that I had a cell phone with me. Then it occurred to me that I wasn’t sure I could tell whoever I called where I was or how to get there, so maybe the cell phone wasn’t so much use after all.

Only a few seconds after that, an old pickup truck passed me going the opposite direction, and they apparently tossed a firecracker at me. I heard the bang very close to me and smelled the powder. For a split second I thought someone might have fired a gun. Good thing I wasn’t wearing a heart rate monitor.

Did the banjos just get louder?

I wandered down several roads while the prospect got more and more rural, and then, suddenly and unexpectedly, I found myself on a road I was familiar with. I was pretty sure I knew which direction to turn, and that got me to a road I knew very well indeed. Well, I wasn’t lost anymore, and that was a good thing in my book.

That left me with about six miles to get home and a headwind all the way. Well, I wasn’t in a hurry, so that was okay.

I think maybe I finally got that saddle right, and that’s more than okay.

See you on the road.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


You can pay a lot of money to get someone to scientifically fit your bike to your body. I have not done this. But, I hear you ask, you have clearly established yourself as a science nerd of the first water, so why have you not done this? I’m glad you asked. Well, I’m glad I asked for you. The answer is, because I don’t want to. Now that we have that settled…

Some years ago when I moved from the trusty Trek 1000 to a new bike, I suffered what could be called some “discomfort.” I realize that this is a vague word which can be used to describe many things, and I have chosen it for that very reason. When I went from toe clips to clipless pedals, I experienced some “discomfort” that I wouldn’t try to describe in a family blog. When I switched bikes, the “discomfort” was a pain in my…um…legs.

So what do you do in such a situation? You ask somebody who knows. I asked several people, and, when I indicated the area of my legs that was trouble me, Jörg asked, “In the adductors?”

Well, now is the time to admit that I am a biologist with a woeful lack of knowledge of the musculature of the human frame. I am not necessarily proud of this lack, but the fact is that I am a molecular biologist by training (which isn’t anywhere near as glamorous as it sounds), and structures much bigger than a cell don’t really interest me that much, so my response was pretty much just to point.

Then Jörg, who was apparently making a habit that day out of asking questions that I had no idea how to answer, asked, “What’s your setback?”

Huh? (Actually, I don’t think my response was actually as coherent as that.)

Jörg kindly explained what “setback” was (and in case your ignorance is as vast as my own, it’s the horizontal distance between the bottom bracket and the front tip of the saddle) and how to measure it. This involved getting a plumb bob (the fact that I actually knew what that was did make me feel a bit better about myself) and a tape measure and getting to work.

Fortunately, the trust Trek was set up correctly for me (not that I had anything to do with that, you understand) so I could simply measure the setback of that saddle and then use that same measurement on the new bike. Simple. Well, it should be simple. For me, nothing like ever is simple, but I got it done in the end.

I mention all of this now because recently I’ve been back on the Trek while my other bike waited for tires. I got the new tires on and discovered that the saddle was waaaaaaaaaaay out of place. I put it back more or less where I thought it should be and went for a ride.

Apparently, more or less where I thought it should be wasn’t quite right, so I finally broke down today and remeasured the setback on the two bikes. It was wrong. (Yes, I know that a smart man would have written the numbers down the first time he measured the setback, but there you are. I didn’t do it. Draw your own conclusions.) I moved the saddle some more, and, pretty soon, I’ll go on a ride to see how it feels.

Wish me luck.

I’ll need it in the end.

See you on the road.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Warm and Windy

As I took the dogs out this morning, I was troubled by the weather. I was troubled because it was comfortably warm and dead calm. This may sound a little peculiar, but the radio had warned of an approaching cold front this weekend, and, somehow, I felt that good weather was a bad sign. I checked the computer: 76 degrees (yahoo) with winds of 13 to 18 mph (boo!). Oh, well. I got kitted out and hit the road.

If you figure you’ll just find a comfortable pace, get into a rhythm and ride, the wind isn’t such a bad thing. I ended up riding the same route as my last longer ride and once again ended up in the tiny town of Fremont. There is a sign that proudly proclaims Fremont to be “The Daffodil Town.”

The streets of Fremont are, inexplicably, lined with spaces for parallel parking. Inexplicably because there just aren’t that many people there. Even if everybody there own three cars they wouldn’t need that many parking spaces. I like it, though, because it’s like a bike lane. Nice. Of course, since there were pretty much no cars on the streets, I didn’t need a bike lane, but let’s not be picky.

As I was riding through the town, it occurred to me that daffodil’s are seasonal. How, I wondered, is everyone supposed to know that Fremont is the daffodil town? I mean, aside from the big sign that says “Fremont: The Daffodil Town” how is everyone supposed to know that Fremont is the daffodil town?

I got the answer to that one a few minutes later. I was riding at random around the town and turned onto a road because it’s named after the place I live, and then I saw three giant metal daffodil’s each, one five or six feet high. Well, I guess that lets you know where you are, doesn’t it?

I also participated in a tractor race. I saw very few people out on the roads, but at least two of those people were driving tractors. I found myself behind one of them going 18 mph. (I don’t know why tractor’s go 18 mph, but that’s what they do around these parts, anyway). The wind wasn’t being particularly nasty at that point – kind of a head-crosswind, so I decided to go around the tractor and see if I could leave it behind. I like passing a motorized vehicle and leaving it in my dust (turnabout is fair play after all), so I dig in and took off. After several minutes I finally looked behind me, and it was a delight to see how far back the tractor was.

I also discovered a plethora of home-based businesses. Do you need a mason? Some landscaping done? Your dog groomed? Your lawnmower fixed? Your hair done? Some tools sharpened? To buy a dog? I passed houses with signs out front for all of these things and more. (The kennel selling dogs markets poodles and great Danes. This seems like an odd combination to me, even assuming that they mean two different breeds and not some very peculiar hybrid.)

As I was heading back home, with about 15 miles left to go, the sky began to darken precipitously, and the wind picked up. Ahead of me, the sky was blue. Behind me, it was black, adn the darkening clouds seemed to be chasing after me. I got hit with occasional spats of rain. It was actually kind of creepy being chased by the bad weather. I made it back unscatched, if a bit tired.

My saddle still isn't quite right, but it's close. If I ever find out who moved it in the first place, I shall find some suitable way to express my annoyance.

Still, I had a great ride in spite of the weather. Life should always be so good.

See you on the road.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Okay, so, to put it technically, I faw down go boom.

Actually, that isn’t the beginning, that’s the end. As Dr. Who once said, “First things first, but not necessarily in that order.”

First of all, someone moved my saddle. This is extremely annoying. I spent I don’t know how long tweaking the saddle position to get it right. As we all know, when someone moves your saddle it’s a real pain in the posterior. Literally and figuratively. I still don’t have it quite right, but that will come eventually.

Now let me go back in time.

I was once knocked down by a beagle while it was on the way somewhere else. A group of us were riding, and Jörg was riding beside me. (Clearly an unwise thing to do.) A beagle decided to go after Jörg and, to do so, had to pass in front of me. My wheel took it right in the short ribs. The dogs was fine. I was a victim of physics.

My bike stopped, I did not. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. As I started to roll irretrievably over the handlebars, I jostled Jörg and actually had the presence of mind (or the absurdity) to apologize. Then I continued my flip, hit the road and did a series of truly acrobatic somersaults down it. The road curved, but I continued on straight and remember thinking “Ah, grass,” as the world continued to rotate around me and then I eventually came to a halt on my back and the world mercifully ceased to spin.

I climbed to my feet to find that my bike was okay and I had acquired some road rash and lost some blood. I took that opportunity to express my dismay to the dog’s owner in tones rather fueled by anger and pain.

After we remounted and road on, Jörg asked, “Haven’t you ever fallen off before?”

“Yes,” I said, still fuming.

“Then, what’s the problem?”

And, there you have it. What was the problem? My bike was fine, I would heal, what was I getting so worked up about?

I tell you this story to explain why, after hitting the deck today, I just don’t feel like it’s that big a deal. Yes, I have some road rash, and, yes, I left some blood on the road, but I’m okay. My body hurts, but it will heal, and no serious damage was done, except perhaps to my self-esteem, but I would hardly be writing this blog is my self-esteem didn’t have a certain flexibility about it.

I had a hard ride, my bike didn’t quite fit, I fell down, it was really windy…and I will hope back in the saddle the first chance I get, so what is there to complain about?

I can still ride. Life is good.

See you on the road.

The way I fall off, maybe I mean that literally.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I've been waiting for a tire to arrive.

My number one bike has been laid up with an injury for several weeks. I got a flat and, while changing it out on the road, realized that both of my tires needed to be changed. The problem was that the bike shop only had one, and I've been waiting for the second one to arrive. It turned out that there were problems beyond the bike shop's control, but it finally arrived, and this morning I set out to put the new tires on my bike.

Those of you who have read this blog for awhile (with one post a day being the recommended dosage for a healthy adult - don't try more than that unless you've become hardened to it over time) you may know that, mechanically speaking, I am what is technically known as a clutz. Just ask Steve. He is not likely to ever forget the time he saw me spray myself in the face with degreaser. (Try Lunicycle's new acne cure...) When it comes to using tools, I am good for a laugh, if nothing else.

But I can change a tire. I've done it sitting in my living room, and I've done it out on the road. And, if I can change a tire, I can certainly change two, which is what putting new tires on your bike amounts to, after all. With the rear wheel off, I figured I needed to clean the cassette which naturally led to cleaning and lubing the chain which naturally led to cleaning and polishing the whole bike. (Everyone knows that a clean bike goes faster. If you didn't know that, well, now you do, and I can use anything I can get to help me go faster.)

I did manage to make the bike cleaner than it had been when I started, but I seem to have done this by the simple expedient of transferring most of the great and grime from the bike to me. I walked into the house and my Lovely Lovely laughed and asked, "What have you been doing? You look kind of wild." Well, I was a mess, but at least the degreaser had done where it was supposed to instead of in my face, so I counted that as a victory.

Of course, I rode the bike around a bit to make sure that everything was working right. Seemingly it was, but I can't shake the feeling that, when I go out for a real ride, both of the wheels are going to fall off.

Wish me luck.

See you on the road.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Finally, a longer ride

Thanks to an early morning appointment, I had to hit the road early. It was 63 degrees, so I broke out the arm warmers, but I put them in my pocket instead of putting them on because I’m clever that way. Within two minutes of hitting the road, I stopped and put the arm warmers on.

It was chilly and foggy. The fog, even though it was only present in low lying areas, was decidedly spooky and made me wish that my rear light (affectionately known as the disco inferno) was working. At the moment it isn’t so much a light as a piece of uninspired art that I could have dangling from the back of my bike if I wanted just for the beauty of it.

I decided to keep my pace high for the entire ride, and I did manage to do that, so I’m feeling pretty good about that, but it was a bit lonely out there today. At one point I kept a tally of what I saw:

Trucks – yes
Cars – of course
Motorcycles – yep
Dogs – sure
Large funny looking chicken – check
Possum – uh-huh
Cyclists – no

That turned out to be a bad list.

The route I had taken took me near the school where the group rides start. Because of the aforementioned early morning appointment (look back at the first line if you’ve forgotten) I couldn’t go on the group ride, but I saw people headed that way.

The first cyclist I saw pulled up next to me, looked at me carefully and said, “Hi.”

I didn’t realize it was a cyclist at first, as he was driving a truck. As he pulled past me, I saw his bike in the back. Well, that’s one way of taking your bike for a ride.

I later passed a few people I recognized, and we exchanged waves. Mind you, it’s been so long since I’ve been on a group ride that I’m not prepared to state that they recognized me.

Nothing really peculiar happened today, unless you want to count seeing a large funny looking chicken at the side of the road as being peculiar.

Actually, I guess that is kind of peculiar. It was black and white and foraging at the side of the road. I don’t know where it came from or where it went after I passed. I'm not even entirely certain that it was a chicken, but "chicken" is so much more concise than "domesticated fowl of some sort". We were like ships passing in the night.

Well, not very much like ships passing in the night. After all, I was a cyclist and it was a chicken. Now, if it had been broiled and my ride had been over we might have made a closer acquantaince.

The last ten miles were hard, largely because I made them hard by choosing to keep my pace up as high as I could (and sometimes higher than I thought I could). Chuck says, “Cycling brings character out in you or, if there isn’t any there, it puts it there.”

You don’t know Chuck…well, actually, depending on who you are, maybe you do know Chuck.
The downside of today was that I had to miss out on the group ride. The upside was that I had a good hard ride and pushed myself beyond what my body thought it was capable of today. I’m not sure why that’s a good feeling, but it is. If you’ve done it, you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve never done it, try it. You’ll like it.

Well, maybe you’ll like it. After it’s done. While you’re doing it, it’s kind of tough.

This has been a very good cycling week. Now let’s make next week even better. The cold is coming.

See you on the road.

Friday, October 2, 2009


It was windy and my legs felt heavy and lethargic. So why would I go for a ride when I’m not sure that I feel like going for a ride? Because I’d regret it later if I passed up the opportunity, so I got kitted out in a very snazzy Yellow Submarine jersey and hit the road.

I followed the same route as my last ride except that I went farther. Early on, the wind was trying it’s best to push me backward (and very nearly succeeding) and I could see a flag hanging downward from a bar that was parallel to the ground. I could have sworn the wind was blowing something fierce, but the flag was utterly motionless. I was starting to winder if I was crazy until I got close enough to see that the bottom of the flag was attached to the ground so it couldn’t move.

I am aware, by the way, that this doesn’t prove that I’m not crazy. It just means that this particular incident made sense.

I passed a point where the speed limit went from 45 to 55, and I considered raising my own speed 10 mph to match the signs, but two things stopped me: my legs.

I passed my daughter’s school, and I was keenly aware of the possibilities for embarrassment in this.

Me: “I rode by your school today.”

Her: (horrified) “You what?!”

Me: “There were a bunch of people outside watching a soccer game. I looked for you.”

Her: (even more horrified) “Oh, no! Were you wearing your cycling clothes?!”

Me: “Well, sure. I waved and called your name just in case you were there.”

This would surely be followed by a cry of anguish, don’t you think?

Actually, it’ll be pretty funny is she really was there and saw me ride by.

I passed a building that looked like it was constructed out of several truck trailers. I had seen it before and wondered what it was, but today there were several fans going, and I could smell what was going on – tobacco was being dried or cured or something inside those things. This creates a rather pungent aroma that isn’t good breathing for a guy who’s trying as hard as he can to push into a headwind.

Then I turned a corner and shortly after that found myself in the town of Fremont. Fremont is not a busy town, so I had a lovely stretch of smooth open road. Then I reached what appeared to be the downtown area where, judging by the looks I got, they aren’t too used to seeing guys on bikes.) Mind you, I am keenly aware of the possibility that it was just the way I looked that was garnering all of those bizarre looks. You have to consider all the possibilities.) At one point I heard a very loud laugh: "Ha ha!" I didn't know people actually said "Ha ha" but this person did. I also distinctly smelled something that greatly resembled marijuana. I point no fingers, I make no accusations, I merely report the fact.

I was also reflecting on the fact that I know how to tell if you have a great wife or husband. I know I have a great wife because of this brief conversation:

Me: “There’s a group having a 100K ride next month.”

My Lovely Lovely: “Are you gonna go?”

Yes, I am lucky. Thanks for noticing.

I saw a fellow cyclist on the road (always nice) and I saw a guy on a bike who is probably lucky to be upright. I pulled up to an intersection. Across from me were a bike and two cars. They guy on the bike wanted to turn right, but he was having trouble getting in motion. The reason for this is that, instead of pushing down on a pedal, he had one foot on the ground and was trying to use it to paddle his bike forward. Then, when he got to what he considered a good speed he would pick his foot up and only then would he start to pedal. The car behind him waited very patiently.

I went through the intersection and the wind changed direction. How is this possible? There are nothing but fields all around, nothing to channel the wind, but it’s a crosswind and then, continuing in a straight line, I go through the intersection and it’s a headwind. This does not seem right to me.

(I once rode an out and back route that was uphill both ways. That also does not seem right to me, but I had another rider with me, and he swears the same thing. The world is a strange place.)

Hopefully on Saturday I’ll make it out for a longer ride, bright and early. My daughter is having a birthday sleepover Saturday night with numerous participants, so I’m sure to need a ride in order to de-stress.

Wish me luck.

See you on the road.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


This is not a cycling related post. Why would I put a noncycling post in a cycling blog? Because I am a well rounded person. (Actually, if I don’t get some more miles in, I will be a well rounded person, but that’s another post entirely.) This post is about flyball.

Not, by the way, fly ball as in a ball hit up into the air to be fielded but flyball as in a sport for dogs – kind of like doggie drag racing (without the cars, of course – that would just be silly.) If you have six minutes and 24 seconds to spare, this video does a good job of explaining it:

(Actually, even if you don't have six minutes and 24 seconds to spare, this video still does a good job of explaining it:)

I had the chance to watch flyball live recently, and it was a blast. There were several events going on at the fairgrounds, and the flyball tournament was waaaaaaaay away from everything else. I don’t know if that was for the benefit of everyone else there or for the benefit of the dogs.

We walked in, and it was loud. Imagine fifty dogs all happily barking away. There were also whistles from referees and people talking and other people shouting encouragement, all in a building with a concrete floor and walls and a ceiling that might have been designed to magnify noise.

But I forgot all about the noise as I watched the dogs. That was a treat.

I had wondered if it would be boring, watching race after race, but they were all different, thanks to the dogs, each with his or her own personality.

There was the large Jack Russell Terrier who didn’t want to play. He ran last on his team…well, he was supposed to run last on his team, but he simply wasn’t interested. In his first heat he jumped over two hurdles and then wandered off. In his second heat he jumped over four hurdles and then wandered off. They didn’t let him compete in the third heat.

There was a sheltie named Rachel. She got the ball but, as she started back, she dropped it right before jumping over the first hurdle, and then she froze. She simply stood there like a statue. You could almost hear her mind working. “Let’s see…I was supposed to get the ball and run back over the hurdles. I got the ball, but now I don’t have the ball. Where’s the ball? And what am I supposed to do now that I don’t have the ball? If I had the ball I would run back over the hurdles, but without the ball…hm…”

She did finally hear a voice behind her telling her to get the ball. She turned around, saw it, picked up and finished her run.

Rachel’s team lost that heat.

Most of the members on every team were excited. When a team's start dog came in and got ready to go, the other dogs on the team would look at him and then start barking at him, for all the world as if they were encouraging him. Go, dog, go. (I think there might be a children's book in there somewhere.)

It's a pretty high speed sport. Most of the runs took about twenty seconds or a little more, although one team was always under eighteen and usually under seventeen.

There were yorkies, shelties, poodles, boston terriers, German shepherds, labs, feists, salukis, and, of course, Australian shepherds and border collies galore, and every single one of them was friendly and happy. You’d see them between matches, and they were always ready to be petted or to lick someone. They were clearly having a great time.

I have to admit that I most enjoyed the border collies. They were ready to go, and they have a fluidty when they are in motion that is a joy to see. One team had both a border collie, who was a paragon of intense focus, and a springer spaniel who looked about as happy go lucky as a dog could look, leaping over the jumps with his ears flying foolishly about his head and a big grin on his face. They both seemed to have a good time, though perhaps in slightly different ways, and I couldn't help but imagine the conversation they might have had.

Collie: You need to be more focused.

Spaniel: Huh?

Collie: I said, You need to be more focused.

Spaniel: Okey-dokey. Do you think that guy over there will pet me?

Collie: Focus. You're here to get the ball.

Spaniel: Flyball. Yep. Yep. Yep. What's a ball?

I want to play flyball.

Well, I want to have a dog to play flyball. I'd look rather ridiculous doing it myself.

Of course, I'm used to looking ridiculous. You should see me on the bike, after all.

See you on the road.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Windy Windy Windy Windy Windy Windy Windy

First and foremost, congratulations to Cyclin’ Missy for not only completing a duathlon but for doing well in it. I told her that in honor of her success I would take some time off this afternoon and go for a bike ride, so I did.

When I got kitted out I pulled on my replica of Paolo Bettini’s Italian National Champion jersey, presumably in the hope that someone would actually mistake me for Paolo Bettini. There are several reasons why this did not happen.

1. The odds are pretty good that no one I passed on the road today knows who Paolo Bettini is.

2. Unless someone is Italian, they probably wouldn’t recognize the Italian National Champion's cycling jersey.

(Oddly enough, shortly after leaving home I passed a guy who apparently was Italian. I base this not only on his appearance but on the fact that he was having a cell phone conversation in Italian. He didn’t give me a second glance.)

3. No one in their right mind would mistake me for a champion cyclist.

(The only person verifiably not in their right mind on the road today was me. After all, if I were in my right mind, would I have gone for a bike ride in a twenty mile per hour wind just for fun? I don’t think so.)

The wind was fierce today. Within a couple of miles after leaving home and right after turning into a screaming headwind I came across a mail car. I will confess that, for an instant, the thought of trying to draft crossed my mind, but drafting off of a strange car is, to the least, unwise. Don’t believe me? Read “Heft on Wheels” by Mike Magnusson. You’ll find out. (Actually, drafting off a car supposedly driven by someone who knows what they’re doing can also be dangerous. Just ask Jan Ullrich.

I wandered down some roads that I had never been on before, including one called Forehand Road. I don’t know if that’s someone’s last name or they just really liked tennis. I later wandered into someplace called Pleasant Grove, and I remember thinking that Pleasant Grove isn’t really all that pleasant, what with that wind blowing in my face and all.

Most of the cars were nice, until one of the guys from Deliverance passed me. He was wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap done in camo colors. He had a toothpick hanging from his mouth and was driving a bright red pickup truck with a lot of ground clearance, and he laid on his horn and glared at me as he passed me. I have no idea why he did this, because we were on opposite sides of the road going in opposite directions, so I certainly wasn’t in his way at all. Apparently the fact that I was using his road vexed him rather more than a bit. Y'all.

I remember at one point thinks, “This is fun?” as I pushed my way into the wind as hard as I could go. Well, some parts of the ride were definitely fun, but even the hard parts were at least satisfying. I don’t know how to explain that. I guess you either get it or you don’t.

Steve says: You go out for a ride on a really cold winter morning – your face is numb and everything’s freezing, and you get passed by a guy driving a big car. He’s got his heater going and has a coat on and a cup of coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other, and he looks at you like you’re the crazy one, and you know that you know something he never will and that you’re alive.

Steve gets it.

I have to stay late tonight, because I have a meeting that doesn’t even start until 5:30, but while I’m sitting there, I’ll be able to think back on today’s hard, windy ride and that’ll get me through the meeting.

Life is good when you ride a bike.

See you on the road.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pump Action

My trusty Wrench Force pump died recently. We will now have a moment of silence. (Of course, this is a blog, so unless you’re reading aloud, you’re already silent, so never mind.)

Of course, I had that pump for six years, and it certainly pumped up a lot of tires, so I shouldn’t complain.

I shouldn’t complain, but I still do, because, in expiring, the pump left my rear tire completely deflated.

A few days later I managed to get a new pump from a large chain department store that is famous primarily for being a large chain department store. They only had one pump that could be of any use to me – it had an air gauge and an adapter that would make it work on a presta valve, so I got it.

Here is how it works: first, you take the adapter and you screw it into the hole where the valve goes, making sure it’s a nice tight fit. Then you fit the nozzle over the valve on your tire and lock it into place. Then you start pumping, at which point that nozzle flies off of the tire leaving the adapter attached to your valve.

Repeat until you are certain that the pump is going to do this every time and your tire is completely defalted.

After you’ve repeated this enough times to realize that this is, in fact, all that this particular pump does, you take it back to large chain department store and get your money back.
This is very useful as an exercise in frustration, but when it comes to going for a ride, it isn’t much help.

After this experience, I waited until I could go to the bike shop and get a good pump.

Me on Friday as I watch sheets of rain falling outside the window: “If I get a pump today, I’m going for a ride tomorrow morning whether it rains or not!”

Me on Saturday morning: “Aw, man, it’s supposed to rain this morning!”

I am nothing if not inconsistent.

But, sitting up before sunrise, I decided to go for a ride anyway. I just made sure my cell phone was in a plastic bag and hit the road.

It was so windy I kept my eyes peeled for Dorothy. I didn’t see her or her little dog, too, flying past, but I did see a couple of friends go by in the opposite direction. (Just to make things clear, they were riding bikes, not being blown by the wind). I thought for a moment about turning around and joining them, but I already had a route mapped out in my head and decided to stick with it.

Since I set out just after sunrise (which isn’t as early as it sounds this time of year) I didn’t see many people on the road other than joggers and cyclists. It was peaceful. Or, it would have been peaceful if I hadn’t decided to go as hard as I could go for the whole ride.

There were some odd little moments. There usually are.

I passed through some cigarette smoke when there were no cars on the road and no people visible at all. I still don’t know where it came from.

I passed a field full of dead corn, the stalks withered and brown with white ears hanging from them. I’m sure there was a good reason for letting it die in the field, but I don’t know what it was.

I had a moment when I recalled what Jörg said about the difference between riding with the guys and riding with the ladies. The ladies notice all the scenery and the guys don’t. I don’t know what made me think of that, as I wasn’t noticing the scenery at the time.

The wind was pretty much a misery, but there isn’t much you can do about that except for keep pushing your way into it and suffer, and I did both of those things, but it was great to be on the bike even so.

As I neared home, I passed the same two riders I had passed on my way out (Hey, Scott!) and then the wind kicked up and I was not aware of much aside from the pain of trying to keep my pace up despite the wind. Who would have guessed that a few air molecules could have so much effect. I mean, they’re so light, right?

As I got back into my subdivision, I passed an elderly lady riding a bike with a basket on the front and what appeared to be a blanket in the basket. I have no idea where she was headed or what the blanket was for.

I made it back home to find that everyone was still asleep and my legs were toast.

It was a great ride, though. Here's hoping I get the next one soon.

See you on the road.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Fabian Cancellara fulfilled everyone’s expectations by winning the world time trial championship in fine form. Nobody else was even close to him. The man who came in second has this to say:

“Cancellara’s still from earth, but he was the best today. I tried what I could, I really happy with my performance.”

I like this quote, and it made me think of some of my other favorite quotes relating to bicycles:

"I thought of that while riding my bike."Albert Einstein, on the theory of relativity

As a cyclist and confirmed science nerd, I like that one a lot.

" I've read that I flew up the hills and mountains of France. But you don't fly up a hill. You struggle slowly and painfully up a hill, and maybe, if you work very hard, you get to the top ahead of everybody else." — Lance Armstrong

It’s kind of nice to know that it isn’t effortless for anyone. I can remember those days struggling along, gasping for air, sweating and being happy to hear the guy next me start gasping too. It made me feel like I wasn’t doing so hopelessly badly after all.

"I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty—five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailleur? We are getting soft... As for me, give me a fixed gear!" — Henri Desgrange

Said the man who came up with the Tour de France. Ouch.

If you brake, you don't win." Mario Cipollini

Ride lots." — Eddy Merckx

Good advice from two of the greatest ever.

Get a bicycle. You will certainly not regret it, if you live. -Mark Twain

That one just makes me laugh.

Here are quotes from two people I don’t know (of course, they don’t know me, either) who’ve really got something.

The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew--and live through it. -Doug Bradbury

Predawn ride, I pass my neighbor on a run. "Why are you riding a bike?" he asks. "Running gets you in shape faster." It's not about that. It's about how riding makes me feel. The speed. Leaning into gentle curves. Charging up hills. How strong my legs feel. Riding gets me fit. But thats just luck. I don't ride to get fit.-R. Todd Barker

Every time I see an adult on a bicycle I no longer despair for the future of the human race.-H.G. Wells

Same here.

Never use your face as a brake pad.-Jake Watson

Sound advice.

"Finishing a ride is mandatory. Finishing a ride fast is optional."- Anonymous

Been there. Done that. That was me at the end of the club’s double century ride. I didn’t finish pretty or strong, but I did finish.

And let’s not forget everybody’s friend, the wind. "

Wind is just a hill in gaseous form."-- Barry McCarty

"You never have the wind with you. It is either against you or you are having a good day."-- Daniel Behrman, The Man Who Loved Bicycles

"Friends Don't Let Friends Drive"

I don’t recall where I got this one, but I have to admit that I like it. I wish I had a T-shirt with that quote and a picture of a bicycle on it.

“Cycling has encountered more enemies than any other form of exercise.”-- 19th-century author Louis Baudry de Saunier

So it’s not just a modern phenomenon!

Well, my Lovely Lovely gets off work early today, and I believe that she’s going to swing by the bike shop and pick up a pump for me. I had a chance to go a nonbike shop and buy a pump that turned out to be a useless piece of junk, so I returned it, crestfallen, to wait out my long period of no air in the tire, but soon I’ll be on two wheels again, and then I’ll be a better person.

See you on the road.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Say What?

Okay, I know I've shared some crazy stories with you instead of my own experiences lately, but I think this one takes the cake and I just had to share it:

Naked Woman Carjacks Van After Hitting Bicyclist, Say Florida Police

Bicyclist Not Seriously Hurt

Well, at least they thought enough of the cyclst to put that at the top of the story.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Police arrested a woman in Jacksonville, Fla. they said deliberately hit a bike rider and crashed two separate cars, and then ran off naked.

We have seen a few examples lately of first sentences of stories meant to grab the reader. This is a strange one. It pays to know your audience, I guess.

Police said the incident occurred Sunday evening while Holly Highfield, 34, was driving three children, ages 10 to 14.

And let us remember that all persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Yeah. One wonders if they were her own children or if she was babysitting someone else’s.

Just after 8 p.m., officers were called to a report of an accident involving a pedestrian and a naked woman in east Jacksonville.

I bet they don’t have one of those numerical codes for that particular type of incident.

The children in Highfield's car told police that she was driving north when she turned to them and said: "Do you think this biker is going to get hit? Do you have faith? Are you afraid?" They said she then steered her SUV across the road and struck 55-year-old Cathy Giury riding a bicycle.

When a couple in a van stopped to see if the bicyclist needed help, Highfield allegedly got out of her vehicle, jumped into the van yelling that she was going to jail, ordering the man behind the wheel to drive her away.

Did she want the guy to driver her to jail or was she trying to get away?

Police were told than when the driver refused, she got out, took off her clothes and began running around.

Well, she was stressed and didn't have any worry beads with her.

According to the police report, when the bystander got out to help the bicyclist, Highfield yelled at the passenger in the van to get out, then attempted to drive off, rammed her own vehicle and struck a fence.

You have to admit that she’s an equal opportunity collider.

When police arrived, Highfield was placed in the back of the patrol car. Officers said she became increasingly violent. When a female officer attempted to cover Highfield with a sheet, she was kicked.

The arrest report indicates Highfield "appeared to be under the influence of some type of drug."

No. Really?

It said she also urinated in the back of the patrol car.

I should have something to say about that, I suppose, but I think some incidents just speak for themselves.

Highfield was arrested and charged with battery, carjacking, DUI while accompanied by a minor and DUI while causing damage to property. She was transported to Shands-Jacksonville Medical Center for observation.

The bicyclist was transported to Beaches Baptist Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries, where she remained in stable condition.

I'm glad to hear that the cyclist is okay, and, since they aren't mentioned again, one assumes that the kids are okay.

Well, I guess you can see why I had to share this one. It was too peculiar to pass up, even though bicycles weren't exactly the main focus.

See you on the road.