Friday, October 30, 2009
You go, Dave. You're my hero.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.