Drive My Bike


And Now For Something Completely Different…
November 17, 2009, 4:29 pm
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Here’s something you don’t see every day… a peloton of sumo wrestlers!

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My daughter and I were driving around on Halloween day and came upon one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen when it comes to cyclists. There was a whole group of riders dressed in funny sumo suits. We were actually going the other way when we passed them the first time, but it was so cool that I had to get pictures, so we turned around and passed them again, grabbing some pictures out the window as we went by.

SumoPeloton2

There were probably at least twenty riders, and they were creating quite a stir. Folks were honking and cheering, but they seemed oblivious. I have no idea who the group was, and if the traffic hadn’t been so crazy around them I probably would have tried to make conversation out the window to find out.

SumoPeloton3

It made our day!

In other news…  We’ve had some unseasonably cold temperatures the last few days, which means it was 16-18 degrees (F)  when I left the house in the morning, making for a brisk commute! The temperature has climbed to the mid 30s for the ride home in the evening, and that has felt almost tropical compared to the morning.

The bike commuting herd gets pretty thin when it gets this cold, but I’ve seen more riders still out than I saw last year, which is pretty cool. (No pun intended)

I’ve got my cold weather commuting wear figured out pretty well these days, so I was comfortable. Layering and coverage is everything. Maybe I’ll do a post in the near future to review my current outfit choices.

Thanks for stopping by. Ride Safe!

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Need More Space Than A Backpack Or Panniers?

Does it always seem like you need just a little more cargo space on your commute? Well maybe something like this is the answer…

CamperBike

A friend sent me this link to Kevin Cyr’s site, and at first I laughed, but then I realized how serious he is. Go to his site and take a look around. This guy has some interesting ideas on mobility and habitats. He’s also got some nice paintings.

This summer I’ve been using a backpack for my cargo since I’ve been riding Jake’s speedy road bike. The temperatures are starting to drop though, and that means packing a lot more clothing to stay warm, so soon I’ll be going back to my trusty Trek with a rack and panniers.

Yes, the Trek is a lot heavier than Jake’s road bike, and the fully loaded panniers make it even heavier… but I bet it is a lot lighter than Kevin’s camper bike! 🙂



Warmer Weather Means Less Stuff!
May 14, 2009, 8:58 am
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With the warmer weather I recently hit two milestones in my Spring commuting. First, last week I started wearing shorts for the ride to work in the morning. Second, warmer weather means less outerwear needed, so this week I made the transition back to a single pannier. Both of those things sure are nice!

RollingShadow

It sure is nice to be able to leave the cold weather gear at home. I found myself struggling with that a bit, thinking paranoid “what if” thoughts…

“What if it gets really cold and you don’t have a fleece layer?” "What if it rains?” “What if… What if…What if… Oh stop it!”

One of the reasons I started riding my bike was to simplify my life, and now here I was stressing over what I was going to bring with me. I took a look at the weather report, reminded myself how warm it really was, and remembered how cold it was NOT… and decided to relax and leave stuff at home. The only cold weather thing I’ve taken for the last week or so has been my pullover windbreaker that I always bring. I find that it will keep me warm enough down into the low 50’s, especially once I get huffing and puffing a bit. I’ve been plenty warm, and it has been wonderful to enjoy the breeze.

So, in celebration of the warmer weather (and fingerless gloves that I can hold a camera with) I bring you some more riding pictures that I shot on the way home the other day…

Shadow in the crosswalk, stopped at a light

CrosswalkShadow 

Same light, almost green…

FrontWheelCrosswalk

Green… and go… (I was leaning way down, holding the camera to the side of the forks. I think the motorists were probably trying to figure out what I was doing)

ThruFrontSpokes

Just think, I could be waiting in that line of cars.

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There was a bicyclist coming up behind me. If you look in the distance you can see him over my shoulder. I noticed him in my mirror, and decided to put the camera away and get to riding. He didn’t catch me. 🙂

PursuitOverShoulder

I think this is my favorite picture of the set. These are so “accidental” because I can’t see a thing I’m shooting. It’s just “hold the camera in the air and push the button”. I really liked how the shadow fit in the wheel, and the spokes were blurred with motion.

SpinningSpokesShadow 

I hope that you’re able to enjoy this warmer weather and have some great rides!

Note: In case any of you care, I’m working on that next post about shoes for clipless pedals, and I’ll probably be putting it up in the next couple of days.



Snow Ride…
March 9, 2009, 4:16 pm
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“Snow ride… Take it easy…”, with props to Foghat.

(For the uninformed, a Foghat is not a helmet with a yellow light mounted on top… go here if you’re confused.)

SnowHelmet

Yes, it snowed today. Yes, I rode home in it. Yes, it was probably the most fun I’ve had on my commute… ever.

Why?

I don’t know. Maybe it’s that little kid playing in the rain kind of thing where you are just out there in the elements and it’s crazy fun. Maybe it’s the awesome looks you get from people as you ride by… with the snow caking on your bike, legs, and helmet. Maybe it’s the feeling of the cold wind and snow on your face… similar to the rush you get when you’re flying down a mountain on a snowboard.

Either way… it was fun!

Here’s what the Trek 830 looked like when I got home…

SnowyTrek830

It was caked with all kinds of snowy stuff, and so was I. My cold weather wet gear did the trick though, because I was warm and dry underneath.

It was great. I highly recommend it!



Some Days Are Fast, Some Days Are Slow
February 23, 2009, 3:13 pm
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This morning I believe I had the fastest ride to the office that I’ve ever done, and it wasn’t like I set out to break any speed records…

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I had a very active weekend. I did a full day of snowboarding on Saturday, and played an hour of racquetball yesterday. I was really tired yesterday, and I was still feeling a bit tired and stiff this morning.

But someone forgot to tell my legs they were tired when I started my ride this morning.

Lately, after a half mile or so of warming up at a medium pace, I settle into a “slightly above medium” pace, and that is where I stay. There are only a few spots where I can get to my highest gear without overly straining, and even then I can only keep that up for a block or so before I have to downshift a couple of gears to find the normal pace.

But today the bike just wanted to go fast.

Same rider, same payload, same bike. The only difference was that it was about ten degrees warmer this morning… in the upper forties (F) when I left. I got to the place where I usually have to downshift, and decided that I didn’t need to yet, so I kept going. I kept telling myself “hold this pace until you get to the next corner”. I kept doing that, until the next corner, and the next corner, and the next. Then came the biggest hill that I face, where I always have to drop a gear or two to maintain my cadence. Today I got a little crazy and decided to try to do the whole hill in my top gear, and it worked. I maintained my highest gear, and dropped my cadence a good bit by the time I reached to top, but picked up the pace again right away on the downhill side. I don’t have a cycle computer on my “winter” bike (the Trek Antelope 830 that I rebuilt in the fall), so I have no idea how fast this ride really was. I had to stop for a couple of red lights, so I’m not even sure about my overall time. However, I’m sure that I’ve never been able to maintain that pace for the majority of the distance.

The funny thing is that I have no idea why it was like this today. It was great to feel strong for a change, because ever since my Christmas break I have felt like I was crawling back to the fitness level I had in early December. My strength and stamina seem to ebb and flow very unpredictably, and I’m not interested in charting things out… so I’ll just enjoy days like this and celebrate the small victories.

As to what I’ve been up to while I’ve been so quiet the last few weeks…

  • I’ve continued to ride to work on a regular basis. We’ve had quite a few “snow days” lately where my team has decided to work from home, so riding to the office hasn’t been as consistent, but I’ve ridden my bike every time I’ve gone into the office.
  • To make up for the lack of rides to the office I’ve supplemented with riding for other errands when possible. Some of the nicest rides I’ve had recently have been when I’ve taken a break mid-day and met friends for lunch.
  • I’ve had some cold rides, around 9 degrees a couple of times. I’ve got a pretty good cold weather outfit now. From the top down: Helmet, Novara beanie, 360s ear warmers, Fleece facemask, Cheap gloves of a wool/thinsulate blend, Glove liners, Pullover windbreaker, Fleece pullover, Novara water/wind proof pants, Fleece sweats, Wicking base layer top and bottom, Neos Overshoes, Running shoes, Wool blend socks. This mix works pretty well. On the coldest days I start chilled but by mile three I am unzipping a bit to get some ventilation due to overheating.
  • I’ve had some beautiful rides on several days when the temps have climbed into the upper 40’s and lower 50’s. Nice to put away the colder weather gear and relax the dress code a bit.
  • I’ve had up days and down days. On one of the bad days my wife asked me “So are you still enjoying this?” I answered “No, but I’m going to keep going because I kind of made a commitment to myself to do this.” On the good days I remember why I made that commitment.

Keep riding, enjoy the fast days when you can ride like the wind, and stay safe.



Great Weather, Not So Great Shape

The last couple of days brought some nice weather to ride in, at least compared to the very cold weather last week. When I rode to work last Monday it was 9 degrees. Monday and Tuesday of this week the temps were in the mid to upper 30s, which is still a bit cold, but that is almost 30 degrees warmer. For the ride home yesterday I had temps around 47 degrees, and it was beautiful.

The challenging part of the last couple of rides is that I notice that after not riding for almost a month I’m definitely not in the shape I was in before.

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It’s amazing how fast one’s fitness level can decrease. I was only away from riding for a few weeks, but I can definitely notice a difference. I can feel myself getting some strength back over the last couple of rides, but I have been very tired and my joints and muscles have been complaining a bit.

I did see another bike commuter yesterday morning, which is the first one I’ve seen since things started to get really cold. He was friendly, and had a very nice bike. He came up behind me near the start of my route, and then left me in the dust at the first stoplight, but then I was able to catch up with him while he was waiting for the last stoplight on my route. I was proud of this accomplishment, since he had a super light Specialized road bike, and I had my chromoly Trek mountain bike with probably twenty or thirty pounds of stuff in my panniers. We had some friendly conversation when I caught up with him, and then I wished him a good ride as I turned off for my office.

That little bit of friendly competition got my blood pumping, and showed me that I still had a good bit of strength and energy left, it just needed some strong coaxing to show itself.

What’s the best part about realizing that I’m not as fit as I was before vacation?

Knowing that to get back to where I was I really don’t have to do anything different. I got to that fitness level by riding my bike to work, so if I keep riding my bike to work again I should get back there soon.

I think that is one of the best perks of bike commuting on a regular basis… accidental fitness.



Back Again And Long Overdue
January 11, 2009, 7:54 pm
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Well, I’m clearly past due on another post. I have been home from Christmas vacation for over a week now, but it has taken me a while to get back in the groove of day to day life.

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I was in Florida while on vacation, and it was interesting to see the differences in the biking environment compared to my home in Utah. Here are some things I noticed:

  • The roads are a lot less bike friendly. Lots of high traffic roads with no bike lanes and small shoulders.
  • The drivers seemed less bike friendly as well. I didn’t ride at all while I was there, so this is kind of an assumption based on my observations, and some conversation with a Florida bicyclist.
  • In spite of the above, I saw a lot of bicyclists. Large, small, old, young, rich, poor… bicyclists of all types were everywhere.
  • A lot of the bicyclists I saw were riding on the sidewalk, often going against traffic. Maybe this was a response to the less than optimal riding space on the roads.

So I have to give props to all you Florida bicyclists, but I’m glad I get to ride in Utah.

It was good to get home after being gone for over two weeks, but it has been a struggle to get back in the saddle on a regular basis.

It was 9 degrees last Monday when I ventured out for my first ride of the new year. Wow, that was my coldest ride yet, and yes… that was COLD! I got creative with my clothing and added a couple of extra layers. Some parts of me were too warm, some parts were just right, and some parts were numb. Add that to the fact that I felt pretty tired after not riding for a couple of weeks, and Monday’s ride was not very enjoyable.

I ended up working from home the rest of the week due to weather, so I haven’t ridden since then, but I’m planning on riding tomorrow morning. Temps are supposed to be in the high 20s. Hmmm… maybe bicycling in Florida wouldn’t be so bad after all. 🙂

Happy New Year, and thanks for reading.