Drive My Bike


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…

j0438890

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.

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Snow Yesterday, 18 Degrees And Ice This Morning
December 9, 2008, 4:53 pm
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I didn’t check the weather report before I road in yesterday, so I didn’t know there was a nice snow storm in the forecast until a local reader commented that he chose not to ride that morning because of the storm. Maybe that was a good thing since I didn’t know what was coming…

SnowOnBushes

Actually, as snow storms go around here, this storm was fairly mild, mainly because the ground was warm enough that there wasn’t much accumulation on the roads. Even though it snowed for several hours, the roads were fairly clear when I got ready to head home. Here’s a picture in front of the office before I left…

SnowAtOffice

By now I’ve done enough tweaking in my riding gear that it seems I’ve got an outfit for every occasion, so the ride home in the snow and wet was actually fun. The roads were very wet and the snow was melting quickly, so the spray off the roads was a lot like a good rain storm. I was actually excited about this, because it gave me a chance to try my Neos Overshoes that I bought last month when I had my miserable ride in the rain with soaking wet feet. I have one word to describe these overshoes… AWESOME! I’m planning to do a special post on these overshoes because they work so well, and I think they are pretty much the ultimate solution for keeping your feet dry on a rainy or snowy ride. My feet stayed completely dry, and since they also block the wind, my feet stayed nice and warm. The only downside to these overshoes is that they don’t breathe at all, so when I get to my destination there is a lot of condensation on the inside of the shoe. I’ll take some warm condensation over soaking wet and cold anytime.

Things stayed cold through the night so I was expecting that the ride in this morning might be extra chilly, and I was right. It was 18 degrees when I left the house, and the remnants of the snow had frozen, so there was plenty of ice all over the place. Not only was that the coldest temperature I’ve commuted in, but I’ve also never had to really worry about icy roads before. I have thought about getting some studded snow tires, but I haven’t yet, so it was just my normal nobby tires and the icy road. I couldn’t see my knuckles because of my gloves, but I’m sure they were white, and I was probably more focused on the road than I have ever been. I took things slowly, especially trying to slow down early at stop lights and corners. I’m happy to say that everything was fine, and it added a new bit of adventure to my commute today. The most dangerous part of the ride was probably the parking lot at the office, which was basically just a sheet of ice. Thankfully they had salted the ramp at the door, so I had a place to stop and get off my bike without crashing.

When you get your outfit figured out so that you are ready for the elements this winter commuting thing actually ends up being a lot of fun. The looks you get are priceless. I would encourage you to give it a shot.