Thursday, February 24, 2011

There's good days and then...- February 24, 2011

What a fun and varied week.  I’ve had beautiful rides and wrecked bikes.
Sunday, in an attempt to help Cameron burn off some of his energy; we decided to ride and meet Trisha.  It wasn’t a long ride, about 8 miles, and was a nice day, if a bit windy and cool.  We got the bike ready, layered the boy in clothes, gloves and a hat before hitting the trail.  Even though we were riding into the wind, we made good time and from past experience I kept checking to make sure Cameron was ok.  He assured me that he was in between a steady stream of 5 year old monologue.
About three-fourths of the way there he asked if we could turn around because he was cold.  He wasn’t chilled so much as popsicle like.  With only a couple of miles to go and most of it downhill I made the decision to get to our destination instead.  Ten minutes later, I lifted a shivering boy into a cozy warm van, that immediately launched into 5 year old monologue of being cold and riding a bike.  No more rides for young boys until it’s at least 65 out.
Monday was a holiday and I had much fun fixing house items.  Tuesday was GREAT!  It was one of those days when you appreciate riding even more than normal.  I had clear skies, light winds and well behaving traffic.  I took a short cut on a pedestrian only bridge that crosses at the top of the lake.  I saw some bird with a giant wing span; closer up I realized it was a big bald eagle, coasting on the updrafts.  As I was watching him/her, they dove towards the lake and came away with a fish in their talons, all 50 feet from where I was riding.  AWESOME!
My ride home was great as well, a nice tailwind, not overly cold, light snow falling but not sticking.  The air was crisp without stinging.  The traffic was light.  Basically a perfect winter ride, a Norman Rockwell picture.  Then came Wednesday.
It was raining/sleeting, which in of itself isn’t a huge issue, but a headwind at 10-15mph that is cold and driving the rain/sleet sucks in ways I cannot begin to describe.  That plus the wind was cold and oh did I mention, the wind was cold…and it was a headwind.  I have mentioned my hatred of riding into headwinds, especially on a fixed gear, where every flat feels like it’s uphill and uphill is worse: but I thought I would mention it again, I hate headwinds.  That was the good part of my ride.
On the way home, I expected to have another nice ride in the snow like the day before.  Riding past long lines of cars in the quiet that snow can bring.  And I did.  For about ten minutes.  As I was dropping down one of the first hills on my way home, with a nice tailwind and no snow sticking on the ground yet, I heard/felt a *crack* somewhere on my bike about the same time that my front wheel and handlebars seemed to want to move independent of each other.  After an exhilarating moment while figured out how to stop without having something else break and before I hit any big ruts (really trying to avoid hitting the pavement at 25+mph).
Once stopped, the giant gaping crack on the head tube indicated what the problem might be.  What a weird place to break.  It wasn’t a chainstay, or fork or at the bottom bracket, it was at a point that is heavily reinforced with very little strain.  Anyhow, long story short, Trisha fought traffic, picked me and after a quick check with my LBS, I determined that it isn’t worth fixing. *sniff*
Goodbye Master Fixed.  Your parts will be transferred to Little Red for the remainder of the winter.
Of course on the upside of things, I picked up the Ibis on my way home last night.  I will be curious to see how Little Red like being a fixed gear.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Holidy is Over - February 14, 2011

Last week was a little cool (upper 20’s in the morning), but clear and calm.  Apparently the holiday is over the PNW as this morning it was pouring rain with a 10 mph wind.  This afternoon: raining with a 20 mph wind.  The rest of this week: raining and windy.  Should be like this through April!
The riding last week was good for the most part.  My new/old inserts work great and the irritation in my knees has subsided.  It was nice to see a few more people out commuting or casually riding and I even saw a team out running around.  Traffic was weird though…
Over the course of a month, I might get a single “honker” (pretty much what is sounds like, these are often combined with the next group) and/or a “yeller” and/or a “crowder” (they get beside you and start trying to force you off the road).  Generally it is on a day where there has been heavier traffic, normally towards the end of the week and end of the month.  That generalization went out the window this week.
I think I picked up at least seven horns, (three from the same person, but that is a different story) about half of them were also yellers and I had a crowder as well.  WOW!  Apparently I wasn’t alone; a couple of the message boards I follow in this area saw an uptick in the number of people having issues with aggressive/loud drivers last week.  I have no idea why.  For the most part it didn’t make sense for the times that it happened; traffic was light and there wasn’t a need to even slow down to get around me.
One was kind of amusing.  I’ve trained myself to smile and wave for every honk/yell/swerve.  It’s not always easy, but I think that it takes away a lot of the reaction a motorist might be looking for and isn’t antagonizing, which considering I will be on the road consistently with the same people, leaves me safer.  This gentleman followed along behind me for a couple of hundred yards (the other lane was devoid of traffic) before finally honking and pulling beside me at which point he rolled down his window and instructed me to get off the F-ing road on the sidewalk where I belong.
I didn’t discuss the finer points of what I was allowed to do or that even with people like him on the road I was safer there than on any sidewalk or the fact that there wasn’t a sidewalk available on this particular section of road; instead I smiled, waved, said thank you and held my line.  He caught himself responding with “you’re welcome” before he caught himself, mumbled something and continued to pass me with great care.
While I don’t like the yellers, honkers or crowders; I don’t dislike them either.  I know that they are paying attention to the road, at least in that moment and with the exception of crowders almost always give me lots of room.  I would prefer that to the person who missed my bright flashing lights or any of the traffic signals or other cars for that matter, because they are too busy to put down their book/phone whatever and drive.
The other thing of note last week is that I had a lot of vehicles in the opposite range of being very courteous, more so than normal.  Maybe there is a balance there somewhere.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Knees - February 8, 2011

I have noticed my knees aching a bit in the course of a couple of rides lately.  I gave it over to the cold, the damp, old age and figured that it would get better or it wouldn't.  It always seemed to clear up right away, so I didn't think much of it.  This morning one knee seem to continue to be irritated longer than normal.  I really need my knees!

It finally occurred to me that my summer road shoes have inserts that were put in when I had my bike fit.  Because I supinate, I have shims in my shoes to keep my knee straight when I pedal.  I have been riding all winter at high cadence and high pressure without them.  It's probably because I have such good knees to start with that I hadn't had problems up to this point.  I have almost a 3 degree change in my foot angle.  At least it is an easy fix.

I "stole" the shims from my summer shoes and put them in my commuter shoes.  That should be it.  No more aching knees.  I also verified that my LBS stocks them, so I can outfit both pairs of shoes.  My LBS is still in possession of my bike right now.  *sigh*  I can't wait until it's done.  Not that I will ride it right now but there is an empty place where it hangs.  It looks like I will be around the same mileage  as last month.  It's a little low but still more than some people drive in a month.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Training Issues - February 5, 2011

The first three days of the month started off well; mostly.  With slightly nicer weather (dry but a little cooler) and maybe the turning of a new month, I saw a lot more riders out.  Not approaching the summer volume, but more then none.   The upside to this is, they add to my safety; more bikes, better driver awareness.  The downside is they are taking me off of my pace.

Apparently my competitive streak overrides my training wants.  I have to catch them.

Tuesday, I caught two out of three (the third one turned before I could pass them, but I would have caught them within the mile), including one on a multi-geared road bike that was moving along pretty well.  I had to wait until a long uphill to draw down on them.  And after a little burn and going a little anaerobic, add in a little nausea I made sure that I was sitting and could breath before I passed.  It's important to make sure that you didn't "look" like you had worked to catch them.

Wednesday, I caught all four, although one was a long chase.  He had passed two of others before I did and was catching the same traffic lights I did.  I finally caught him on a longer railway grade only to find that he had seen me coming and tried to stay ahead, but burned out going up the false incline (we both caught the next light red).  Even Thursday I caught a couple.

About half of these are either on fixed gears like I am or on road-converted-mountain bikes.  The other half are on road or cross bikes, so there is a range of speeds and abilities that I'm passing.  The downside to all of them is that I moderately to greatly increase my pace to catch them.  This is taking me off my new pacing that I have set for myself.

Of course the worst part of whole week is I ended sick.  I couldn't breath and couldn't do anything without coughing so there wasn't any riding for me on Friday or this weekend.  I hope to be back at it Monday.