Drive My Bike


Some Days Are Fast, Some Days Are Slow
February 23, 2009, 3:13 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Advertisements


Make Your Bike Commuting 800% Faster!

Sam Whittingham recently set a new world speed record for a bicycle at the World Human Powered Speed Challenge, with a speed of 82.3 miles per hour!. If you haven’t seen this video, it is only 8 seconds long, so take 8 seconds and watch as Sam goes by doing 82mph on the custom built Varna Diablo III bicycle!

Wow, that is fast! You can read more about this record setting project on Wired.com.

So, I was thinking that if I could do that I could cut my commute time from 18 minutes down to less than 4 minutes. Shazam!

But I see a few problems with that:

  • I didn’t see a rack anywhere on that bike, so I’m not sure where I would put my panniers
  • It would be a bit difficult to obey posted speed limits, and would probably lead to some speeding tickets.
  • It would be hard not to fall over while stopping for red lights, and motorists would probably be so offended at my passing them that none of them would be willing to help right me.
  • Where do you park a bike like that? How do you lock it up?

Bummer, because it sure would be fun!

Thanks to my friend Matthias for sharing this story with me.



New Cycle Computer
August 31, 2008, 7:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

I mentioned last week that I got a new cycle computer, so I figured that I’d put up a couple of pictures and show how I installed it. This is not a fancy cycle computer, it is just an inexpensive one that I found for under $10, but it performs all the basic functions that I wanted, basically speed, distance, and trip time.Cycle Computer Display It also has a clock, maximum speed, average speed, a trip odometer, and a lifetime odometer.

Installation is fairly straightforward, involving mounting the display on the handlebars, and then mounting the sensor on the fork and spokes.Cycle Computer Sensor

The device uses a magnetic sensor on the forks that tracks a magnetic screw on the spokes. After installation you have to enter a calibration number from the instructions that tells the computer how big your wheels are, so that it can figure out how far the bike has traveled for each wheel revolution. Each time the wheel goes around the magnet on the spokes registers a single revolution of the front wheel, then the computer does some math, and bingo… it knows your speed and how far you have traveled.

In case you are interested in the details of how this thing works, I found a person who has posted the manual on their website… and I thank them!

I have to say that it is fun to know how fast I am going, and how far I have gone. If you don’t have one of these I would recommend considering one.



Permission To Slow Down, Captain?
July 25, 2008, 5:58 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When I started bike commuting I had no idea that it would put me on such interesting psychological journeys. Allow me to explain… I’m a pretty driven individual, and I push myself a lot. I push myself to grow. I push myself to succeed. I push myself to learn. I guess that is not all bad, except that I am learning that there is a dark side to all of that. I have discovered that when I am not pushing myself I begin to feel like a slacker. In fact, I think I actually have a fear of not pushing myself. The result of this is that I don’t think I ever really relax and enjoy the now. I’m so busy worrying about “the next thing” that the present goes right by and I miss it. The cool part of this is that my bike riding has helped me see this about myself.Stopwatch

Several times recently I have felt kind of burned out with my riding, and I have really had to force myself to go for that next ride. I have also started to notice some mild discomfort in my knees after some of my rides, usually when I have pushed myself harder up a hill, or tried to better my route times. In response to these problems I decided that I was probably pushing myself too hard, and I needed to slow down and let my body catch up a bit. I also began to realize that even though I had ridden my daily route quite a few times now, I had barely noticed the surroundings on the way. I was always so focused on getting to my destination, and pushing harder and faster, that I didn’t really enjoy the ride.

So… I have officially given myself permission to slow down, and I have really been working on focusing on enjoying the ride, rather than how fast I was getting there. I have to say that it has been difficult! I have started out a ride at a slower pace… but then… within a mile or so I convinced myself that I was fine… and was back to pushing myself as usual, often ending with the “burned out, sore knee” feeling from before. It also seems like every time I commit to slowing down I encounter another biker on the road, usually on a speedy road bike, and I am compelled to try to keep up with that person, even though their bike is geared faster and weighs less than a third of what I am riding! But, all is not lost, as I have had several rides recently where I was able to really let go and just enjoy the ride, and it was great. Ironically, most of them have been my night rides, which is kind of funny because my first night ride was probably one of the most difficult rides I’ve had since I started bike commuting. But my last couple of night rides have been a bit cooler, and yes, I was tired when I got finished, but it was a good kind of tired, and my knees were stressed, but not really painful. Best of all, I actually took the time on the ride to notice things around me. I remember now, I really like riding my bike!

So, I’m still pushing myself, only now I’m pushing myself to not push myself.

Permission to slow down, Captain? Aye, that’s an order!

Do any of you relate to this? If so, leave a comment and let me know.