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!

SumoPeloton1

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!



Hot Weather, But Good Company
June 29, 2009, 4:51 pm
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I left the office a little earlier than usual today, and as I was about merge from the parking ramp onto the main road another cyclist came pedaling by. I decided I would try to catch up and say hello.

CSP093

The days are getting hotter and it was in the low 90’s when I headed home today. In spite of the heat, I decided that I was going to relax and enjoy my ride home, so when I saw this other bicyclist I figured I would see if he was up for some friendly conversation. I caught up with this fellow, and he had headphones on, but when I said hello he greeted my back. I commented on the heat, and a few other things, and we eventually struck up a good conversation. I asked where he was headed, and he said he was in college and heading to some night classes at an extension campus that was not too far from where I live. He asked what I did, and then we talked about my work and his schooling, and what he wanted to do in life. We talked about bikes, and he admired Jake’s bike that I was riding. I explained that I was just babysitting it for a friend who was in Africa for a year. This intrigued him so he asked a bit more about Jake and how that worked.

Our conversation continued, and it made the time pass quickly. Before I knew it we were at the place where I would go left and he would go right. He still didn’t know exactly where he was going, so I told him I would ride there with him. I figured it was no too far out of my way, I could use the extra miles, and I was actually really enjoying the company.

Soon, he got to his school, and I doubled back and went home. It was a nice ride, and I sure noticed the heat once he was gone and I didn’t have the conversation to distract me.

The timing of this is funny because just this afternoon I was emailing with a regular reader, Bobby D, and was telling him how I never get to ride with anyone else. Little did I know that just an hour or so later I was going to meet Jason, and we were going to have a nice ride together.

if you read this Jason, then know that I really enjoyed the ride with you, and it certainly made my ride go faster. Thanks and I hope we meet up again some time!



Strong Headwinds, Angry Clouds, Raindrops
May 19, 2009, 3:05 pm
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The ride in to work this morning was beautiful, however, the ride home was a bit more of an adventure…

WindyFlags

Those flags in the picture above are huge, and you can see how the wind was blowing them. Well, I was pedaling home against that wind. It is surprising to me how much a strong headwind can sap my energy. In the past I’ve even found it very discouraging psychologically. I’m not sure why exactly, but maybe it is just that feeling of having to work so hard to get forward momentum going. It feels like all of nature has conspired against you to keep you from reaching your destination.

Today though, I was determined to make the best of it, so I just dropped my gears a bit, and tried to enjoy the cooling effect of the breeze. As I looked around though, I noticed the reason for the strong winds. Angry clouds heading my way indicated that a storm front was moving into the valley.

AngryClouds

I was about a mile from home when I started feeling raindrops. I was worried for a moment, because it was so warm this morning that I didn’t even pack my windbreaker, which meant that if it really rained I was going to get soaked. Then I thought about things a bit more, and decided to just relax, since it was warm enough that it would probably be refreshing. I have a rain cover for my pannier, so all of my gear would stay dry even if I got wet.

Well, I felt a few more sprinkles before I got home, but the rain never really came. Now that I’m home the winds have picked up as the storm has moved in, and we’ve had some huge gusts, but it looks like we won’t be getting much rain out of this storm.

Oh well, some wind, some dark clouds, and some raindrops make for a bit of variety in my normal bike ride home.



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.

LineOfCars

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.



Spring Springeth!

Our Utah weather is always a bit crazy this time of year. We had a few days of warmth, and then we got almost record amounts of snow this April, and Spring seemed like it was never going to show up. Based on my ride home today I am thinking it might finally be here!

TrekSpring3 

It was 38 degrees (F) when I left this morning. But it was sunny, and I really wanted it to be warm. I had my shorts on, and I really didn’t want to add any extra layers. Alas, sanity finally took hold as I stepped out the door, and I decided that I really needed a bit more of the uniform. So I put my Novara rain pants on, and added a microfleece pullover under my windbreaker.

The ride in was nice, and before long things had warmed up to the mid 60’s. I made it outside several times during the day, and each time I was thinking that the ride home sure was going to be nice.

I was right.

It was about 67 degrees (F) when I left the office. For the first time in a long time there was no headwind going home, and I was loving it. I felt really strong and it was the best ride home I’ve had in a long time. The hardest part of the trip was packing all my morning cold weather gear into my pannier… squish! 🙂

A couple of months ago I picked up a small rectangular pouch that fits under the front of my seat, just the perfect size for my camera. It has a wide mouth and Velcro flap that I can easily get into and out of while I’m riding. It has been too cold to use the camera since I’ve had full finger gloves on, but today I figured I’d try to take some riding pictures. A few turned out alright, so I’ll share them with you…

TrekSpring2

In this picture you can see my clipless setup that I mentioned in my last post

TrekSpring1

Hmm… probably need to clean that fender off under there…

TrekSpring4

Doing the picture taking thing, whilst pedaling mightily in rush hour traffic, whilst not crashing, seems to be an art form. I’ve seen some great bike photo blogs out there, and I’ve got a ways to go, but I’ll get it figured out.

I hope your rides are getting warmer too. Stay safe. (Even if you are a bit crazy and decide to try to take pictures while you’re riding) 🙂



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…

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.