Ride #11: This Year It’s All About the Pain

Ride #11: This Year It’s All About the Pain:
It’s going to hurt, but I’m serious about really getting into shape this year.[It’s funny how you posted this today when I also posted although it was more about cycling related stuff than my plans for cycling. So as an update… I’m already riding stronger than I was through most of last year. And I expect that this may well be best year on the bike ever, despite my schedule. I was reminded last year not to set goals because my life finds a way to mock them mercilessly. I also mentioned that my lack of fitness and previous desire to improve became seriously debilitating. I’ve thrown all that away. It may be back one day, but for now, the riding is about fun. The cadence I choose is what feels comfortable. Where and when I ride will be about fun. I will work on technique when I choose so that too will be fun. And while I have issues with goal setting (and Seth disagrees) last year only proved me right for myself anyway. I had goals, I didn’t come close to meeting them because of major course changes, and they demotivated me in a serious way. I’m back to my old ways, making little course corrections, working on the stuff I’m bad at, and inspecting the result fairly often. Then I’ll look back at what I accomplished with, well, a sense of accomplishment. Or I could continue to set a goal of finally meeting Seth, and going for ride, and failing to accomplish that as well. Heh. We’ll see…]
Source: Truer Words – A Journal

Rite of Spring :: Ride in Spring

So rather inevitably there’s a first ride after Spring has sprung. It can go unmarked in the annals of bike riding when you ride year ’round, but I try not to let that happen. I didn’t always ride all year, and warmer spring weather (certainly warmer than today’s start at 30 degrees) marked the start of the season and all the fun to come.

Once riding all year became more common for me it became easier to forget to the mark the occasion, since often it’s just another cold day in a string of cold days. But today it was sunny and eventually warmish and the occasion was marked by the inaugural ride on a new bike frame.

I had a couple of cool winter projects this year. I have a “winter” bike. It can wear wear fairly large tires (up to about 40c I believe) and it’s made of aluminum so it’s able to deal with the salt and junk fairly nicely. It also has middle of the road parts, so the wear of riding through all that salt and sand and goo and yuck is taking place on less expensive parts, wheels, chain etc. I do what I can to keep it clean, but with no indoor facility for cleaning it, it remains a mess for the winter, and then it gets a good cleaning after the last ride of the winter. It may occasionally join the fray when I ride in pouringly wet weather.

As I settled into the winter regime, a friend noted some blow-out frame prices. It’s a sweet little ChroMoly thing, and I built it up over the course of the winter as a single speed/fixie. It’s the least expensive bike I own by far. Some parts were from EBay, some were the closet. The wheels were the most expensive component since I wanted single speed hub that matched the 130 spacing of the frame. Despite the parts sounding like they come from all over the biking universe, the end result looks nice and rides great… my first real bike also had only one gear (but it did have a sparkly purple banana seat and a low sissy bar).

The other project was trading in my road frame and moving almost all the parts over to the new frame. Shifters, drive train, brakes, bars, wheels, everything except for the stem, seat post, and saddle were moved over. The new frame is smooth, and efficient. Light as well, but that wasn’t the real point. I’ve done enough riding to have some sense of where my old bike were letting me down, and yesterday, on the new bike’s inaugural ride, my riding partner noticed the efficiency as we climbed a few miles of grade – that I hadn’t geared down at all, kept the pace up, etc. Now part of me thinks its a crock, and that my screw the cadence riding style this year has more to do with it, but whatever. I enjoyed the ride of it, and this year that’s what matters.

Other years faux training took over various aspects of my biking life. The reach to be faster, climb better, what-have-you drove me to bad training. Soft days not soft enough, hard days not hard enough, not enough rest, not enough base miles, incorrect nutrition – the whole gamut. Last year, my cycling fell apart altogether as life, business, and seemingly everything else came first, and I lacked the will to get up early or stay out late to do the riding. It was always dark, cold, and rainy, and never warm, sunny, and bright. I’d ride once in a while when things worked out, and then be annoyed at my lack of fitness, which naturally grew worse over the course of the year with the breaking point being an almost flat ride that I’ve done many times where I couldn’t keep up with a slow group on a slight rise. That was it, as it were, the weather was getting cooler, I was still crazy busy, and I had just had enough.

A couple of months go by and the fall weather has passed and winter has set in. I break out the rollers deciding that it was time to break the downward fitness spiral. Did that for a while, bored to tears, and decided that I needed to find the “ride outside” thing that I love. I sorted through the winter clothes, found the right stuff, and started out just doing simple laps around a nearby lake, slowly reminding my body what riding was all about. Soon enough the miles had piled up, and I was beginning to feel a little more like a cyclist. Shortly thereafter was a group ride, on that same flat course that had beaten me down at the end of the summer. With some trepidation we rolled along, I was talking with a friend, and realized that we were off the front. She dropped back to talk to some one else, so I figured I’d just keep turning the cranks and they’d catch up soon enough. Pretty soon I realized that I had remained alone, and all but stopped moving. A few minutes later the group caught up, someone jokingly accused me of doping, and we rolled on. But it felt really good to be that comfortable.

Part of what I found this winter was the simple joy of cycling. The year “off” had broken the cycle of improvement, got me out of a “training” mentality and returned me to the fun of riding. Nothing’s been more fun than doing part of my commute by bike. Wearing street clothes, platform pedals, etc. Just throwing a leg over and going. One gear. Just like was I was a kid. And now, when I do dress up and go out for twenty or more miles on the high tech, 20 gear, incredible lightness of being device, it feels right, and fun, and happy.

The last question I was asked recently was what happened to the mountain bike I built last year? Sold. My vision for that bike never worked out because I wound up being so busy. The trails aren’t close and the roads start right outside my door. I decided that there was no point in storing it in the garage just for the sake of it, I didn’t see anything changing anytime soon.

Go Easy…

Go Easy…: 3.  To the family in the silver Camry: it’s not cool, nor funny, to drive beside me and my daughter-matching our speed-for 6 blocks while you and your wife snap cell phone pics and point at us.

4.   To the two police officers who turned on your lights and siren, and then pulled over the car that was going thru the intersection of Grand Ave. & 36th St. at 4mph while they pointed at Chloe & me and took photos, Thank You. [Heh.]
Source: Large Fella on a Bike

Camcorder Brings Zen to the Shoot

Camcorder Brings Zen to the Shoot – New York Times: Careful, though; even these enhancements are complications: more moving parts, more things to learn, more elements to track. Each additional feature nibbles away at that sense of mastery, that mental comfort zone. Same with digital cameras, whose movie modes also take good video: anything with modes is necessarily more complicated. [Simplicity rules. I have to sell that in the next week or so.]

The Great Mojo Bar Taste Test – Gerry rides, eats, and…

So the Great Mojo Bar Taste Test has been progressing, bars are being consumed and now Gerry, who rode over 22,000 miles last year (um, no, that’s not a typo. He’s a bit of whack job…) weighs in with the following notes. I’ve taken a liberty here or there which Gerry may deign to correct. Or not. He’s got a lot of riding to do after all…

He paused in his pedaling just long enough to jot down these notes:

All were good. My favorites were the Fruit Nut Crunch, Peanut Butter and Jelly (dipped) and the Chocolate Peanut. (dipped)

  • Mixed Nuts: Very nutty taste. Sweet. Good texture and flavor.
  • Fruit Nut Crunch: Fruity and nutty taste. Sweet, good texture.
  • Mountain Mix: Very good.
  • Chocolate Peanut: Excellent.
  • Honey Roasted Peanut: A little sweet for me. Good but not my favorite.
  • Peanut Butter Pretzel: Good but again not my favorite, Not much taste. A little chewy.
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly: Really good!

So there you have it. Gerry liked them all, but clearly went for the Peanut Butter and Jelly. He’s really just a big kid at heart. There was an article in the local Gannet paper about his riding (and another club member), but they suck and have a “pay for” archive and they kill the URL on top of that. Sad.

Time to go prompt some of the other taste testers… including myself.

On Potato Omelets and Winter Cycling

On Potato Omelets and Winter Cycling: What these actions of mine and others lead me to conclude is that culture matters. I’m not shirking the fact of my own laziness; it’s a real observation about how the world works. If my friends and family members were riding off to work in the cold, I likely would to, without complaint. But alone, when few other people are, it’s easy to decline the invitation my bicycle offers me, or not even see it.

As we head into spring and the warmer months, this point will become moot. I’m sure I will once again start riding regularly. But maybe next winter, or the one after, I may make different choices. Cycling as transportation is increasingly popular in New York, and as this popularity grows, I suspect we will reach a tipping point, to use Malcom Gladwell’s famous phrase. I look forward to a future, perhaps not so long away, when even the fairest-weather riders like me venture out in even the worst of weather, doing so as easily as taking a bite of an easily-made potato omelet. [So yesterday I joined the bike commuter ranks. In my case it is a “multi-mode” affair, because I’d spend way too much time commuting the 36 or so miles form home to work entirely by bike. I biked in my “street” clothes adding only a bike helmet and a bit of cover for my head (it’s still a bit cold in the mornings for me). Nothing more seemed necessary, even though I do not have a “commuter” bike per se.

And the cultural stuff starts at home. My wife is trying very hard to be supportive, but would really rather not think about my riding in the City. Of course, there’s no way to make it clear that riding the route I do is actually safer feeling than a lot of the riding I do in the suburbs because I’m not mixed with car traffic as much. The west side greenway provides a good chunk of the trip.

Naturally, today rain is expected this afternoon, and while it wouldn’t stop me from a biking in the rain standpoint, the bike does have to survive the rest of the trip on top of the car in the rain. Not so much goodly as they say.

Which brings me to my point. The multi-mode, or park and ride, or plane, train, and automobile, or whatever combo of your choice infrastructure is very, poor, both public and private. It needs some attention if people are serious about changing how they commute. It’s easy to say I will do something, and far more difficult to just do it when the facilities aren’t there to enable it. I’d love to lengthen the bike portion of commute, but I need to find parking in NJ that makes sense. And more parking in NY that makes sense. And if the trains allowed bikes (or there was secure, out of the weather bike parking) I would have more choices.

One can argue about where I live, choices, etc. all one wants, but I live where I live and do what I do, and just trying to make the best decisions I can for a healthier life, commute, world etc.]

Chicago passes bicycle safety ordinance

Chicago passes bicycle safety ordinance: The City of Chicago passed the Bicycle Safety Ordinance this afternoon. The new law now establishes fines for turning left or right in front of a bicyclist, passing a bicyclist with less than three feet of space, and opening a vehicle door into the path of a bicyclist. Fines range from $150 to $500 and go up to $500 if the violation results in a bicycle crash.

It also establishes a fine for double-parking in a marked shared lane, and increases the fine for driving, standing or parking in a bicycle lane.

“We are committed to making Chicago the most bicycle friendly city in the country, and safety is a very critical part of the plan,” Daley said after the measure passed. “More than 6,000 crashes between bicycles and motor vehicles were reported in Chicago between 2001 and 2005. Unfortunately, 30 bicyclists were killed. These new laws will help prevent injuries and save lives.” [Boy, do we need stuff like this ’round here.]
Source: Cyclelicious

Deep Survival: Brain Vs. Gadget

Deep Survival: Brain Vs. Gadget: You were rehearsing in your mind what you were going to do. You were creating what I call a mental model of your expected world and a behavioral script for what you were going to do in it. I would imagine that you unconsciously had all your moves planned before you ever got on the mountain, including the joy of reaching the summit. This is good. This is how dreams become reality. But these mental models and behavioral scripts can set traps for us and must always be viewed with caution. [Laurence Gonzales really gets this stuff. I should get in touch.]