Drive My Bike

24 Miles and 22 Degrees
December 6, 2008, 10:34 pm
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This morning I was scheduled to have breakfast with some guys from church, and I got this crazy idea that I should ride my bike there. What made this seem a bit crazy was that the pancake place was about 12 miles from home, and it was supposed to be in the upper 20’s this morning.


The farthest I had ever ridden before today was to meet a friend for dinner about 10 miles from home, so a 20 mile round trip. The coldest weather I had ever ridden in before today was a morning commute to work in 28 degrees.

I beat both of those today. It was 22 degrees this morning at 6:30 when I hit the road in the dark. I did the 12 miles to the restaurant in a little less than an hour, which I was happy with since I was trying to take it at a reasonable pace, and there are a few hills on the way.

I found it to be a real psychological challenge, as much as anything. Just past the six mile mark I hit “new territory”, where I had driven many times, but had never been there on a bike. The last mile or so I was counting down the blocks remaining. I was pretty tired when I got to the restaurant.

Breakfast and the time with friends was great, and I had several offers of a ride home, but I thanked them and told them I preferred to ride.

The ride home seemed a lot faster and a lot shorter. I guess that just goes to show how much of a mental game this all is. I was tired when I got home, but not nearly as tired as I was on the way there.

What made me decide to do this? Aside from just wanting to ride my bike somewhere, I think the biggest reason was just to test myself to see if I could really do it. I know that 24 miles is not that far for a lot of the bike commuters I read about, but it was a milestone for me. Combine that with the cold weather, and it was a real mental battle. Last night, and this morning, I kept coming up with all kinds of reasons why it was a bad idea and I shouldn’t try it. I’m glad I did.

So that was my morning… 24 miles and 22 degrees.

Friendly Competition?

On the ride home tonight I was surprised how my competitive spirit got the best of me…


The temperature for my ride in this morning was around 38 degrees (F), and my outfit was just about right. I was a bit cold for the first mile or so and then I got warmed up and it was a fairly comfortable ride the rest of the way.

This is the time of year in Utah when the temperature can swing 30 degrees or more in a single day, so when it came time to ride home today the temp was around 68. I had to pack all my cold weather gear in my pannier, which made things feel a little bulkier than normal. In spite of this, it was a very pleasant temperature to ride in, and I was feeling great as I took it easy for the first mile. I hit a stop light at the first busy intersection, and enjoyed the rest while I caught my breath a bit, warming up and anticipating a relaxing ride. The light turned green, and I popped back in the saddle and started rolling…. and all of a sudden a guy on a road bike blew by me on the right!

He had a messenger bag on his back, a nice looking light blue road bike, and a bright green jacket. It’s funny the things you notice in a moment like that. I’m not sure what it was that pushed my button, but I got totally irritated with this guy, and was determined to catch him.

I have been riding the rebuilt Trek lately, so keep in mind that I was on a big chromoly steel mountain bike, with a big fat pannier on one side, normal pedals, and running shoes. Not the most competitive package to race with, but all of a sudden I had a whole lot of determination!

About 3 blocks past the stop light there is a small hill, and I usually hate that part of my ride home, because I’m still not quite warmed up by that point, and I often have to drop a couple of gears and pedal fiercely while I slowly roll up the hill. Well not today! I really surprised myself, because I picked up the pace, and set my sights on that guy. I figured that he would be gone in no time, but amazingly I started gaining on him! As we started up the hill I was probably 75 yards behind him, and was gaining steadily. By the time we crested the hill I was  about 10 feet behind him, and I tucked in the pocket, trying to make the most of his draft. I thought about passing him, but all of a sudden I realized that I was REALLY tired! I figured that it would be better to savor the moment, than to pass him and then have him pass me back as I ran out of gas at the bottom.

Sure enough, as we hit the bottom of the other side of the hill he was able to maintain his pace, but I had to back off a bit and catch my breath. I kept my cadence up, but dropped a gear, and he slowly pulled away.

I thought that was the last I would see of him, but a couple of miles later I saw him stopped at a light up ahead, and I almost caught up with him again. The light turned green as I was about 100 yards away, and I gave it all I had, but he still was able to pull away from me.

I was thoroughly exhausted when I got home, but it was a good kind of tired. I have been taking it easier on my rides lately, trying to focus on the things around me and just enjoy the journey. It was fun to push the limits again and fire up the competitive juices. I also surprised myself how strong I was on that hill! I’ve definitely come a long way since I started my bicycle riding back in May. A little friendly competition can be a good thing.

A Bit Of A Slump
June 13, 2008, 2:13 pm
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Well, today is the first day that I backed out of bicycling to work after I had planned and prepared to ride.  I packed and had everything ready to go last night, but I was really tired when I woke up this morning, and I made the mistake of not getting up right away when the alarm went off.  Instead, I stayed in bed and pondered how tired I was and how tired I had been on my last ride. For me, once I start thinking about getting up, instead of just doing it, I’m pretty much not going to do it.  So, I rolled over and took advantage of an extra hour of sleep since I wasn’t riding.  I will say that the extra sleep was nice, but I think I woke up feeling more tired than when my alarm went off, so I don’t think that extra hour helped much.

I really do want to go riding though, so I will try to get a ride in this weekend.  I was really, really tired after my late night ride on Tuesday, and I think I kind of blew myself out.  It has been good to take a few days off from riding to work, but I need to get back at it.

I assume that most people go through times like this when they struggle with getting back to bike commuting.  Have you had times like this?  How do you deal with them and crawl out of your “slump”?

Late Night Ride
June 11, 2008, 8:44 am
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Yesterday I had some evening obligations so I ended up riding straight to my meetings from work.  My meetings went late, and I ended up riding home around midnight.  I have a cheap head light that I got last week “just in case” I ended up in a situation like this.  I also have LED blinkie lights on the front and back of my bike.  Even so, I have to say that I found my 6.5 mile ride home in the dark a bit creepy. This was on regular suburban streets, and the traffic wasn’t heavy since it was so late, but there are several portions of the road that did not have streetlights, and it was DARK!  It is a new experience to be pedaling along and to have the only area you can really “see” be the little four foot diameter headlight spot about 40 feet in front of you.  I hit a couple of bumps that caught me by suprise, and I was fine, but I realized that I really needed to watch for “unseen” potholes and ruts.  I have ridden this route in the daytime about five times in the last week and a half, so it was familiar to me, which was good, because I can’t imagine covering unknown territory at night under those conditions.

I’m sure my overall experience wasn’t helped by the fact that I was really tired.  Not only was it late, but I think I have overdone my riding a bit this week.  I’ve been so excited about bicycling that I’ve ended up running a few extra errands and things, and the routes I’ve taken have found me riding a good bit uphill most of the way home.  I really didn’t want to get out of bed this morning, but I am able to work from home today, so I can get some needed rest.  I’m still excited to be doing this, but I’m going to take a couple days off from riding.

What about you?  Any night time riding experiences you’d like to share?  How about riding too much?  This blog is so new that I’m not sure there’s anyone out there reading this yet… but I thought I’d ask.  Until next time…