Monday, July 17, 2017

Ya got to have friends

Yesterday I road ten miles. Yup, only ten miles. In eighty degree heat.

Why did I do this? Friendship. One of my colleagues who has become a friend is moving out of town, and this was my last chance to see him. So naturally I rode over to see him. Had to ride the bike, almost impossible to find parking in his neighborhood. Yup.

After I got home, I started thinking about friendship. And then about biking friends. I have one biking friend who's pretty good about going anywhere I want. But there's a limit to where I can go. Not quite good enough to tackle some of the difficult hills yet, and that leaves only a couple of choices for long rides.

All I can think of to do is to start riding with a local cycling club. I've gone out with one cycling club, but I found them to be overly competitive and not much fun to be around.

So I'm asking anyone who's reading this: if you have experience with cycling clubs (good or bad) that you'd be willing to share, could you write about it in the comments? I'd especially like to hear what made the experiences either good or bad, and what kind of things to look for (and look out for) in a club.

It's possible that joining a club will expand my horizons. It's possible that riding with a club will challenge me to the point where I can eventually make the difficult climbs that will open up longer and longer rides.

And who knows? It's possible that someday I'll be able to bike the hundreds of miles to see my friend/colleague again.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

bike as mirror

"I'd be lying if I didn't admit that cycling is expensive." - Ayesha McGowan

If you've been riding for more than a year,  you've most likely felt the truth of that quote. Though we're not all racers (as McGowan is), many of us have probably spent more money on our bikes than we ever thought we would.

But if you've met more than a few cyclists, there is something that you've received great quantities of for absolutely nothing: advice.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The internet steers us wrong

Last weekend was beautiful. I rode fifteen easy miles on Sunday, followed by five hard miles. Of course, I rode the hard miles very slowly; I'm no fool.

Speaking of fools (great segue, right?), I've started to read a lot of Internet opinion on biking. Articles with titles like "Why you must ride the Baja Divide (even though you're out of shape and ill-prepared)" and "You don't deserve to own a bicycle unless you race every weekend!"

All right, those aren't real articles; I made the titles up. But I did read something that made me laugh, and though I don't remember the title, it was largely about mistakes (or "faux pas") you could make while cycling. The article enumerated such unforgivable social infractions as wearing the wrong socks or wearing your glasses incorrectly (with the stems inside the helmet straps). This made me wonder: where are the articles that stress the importance of not letting your attention waver when you're cycling? Or not challenging cars to some sort of "who owns the road" duel? Or not acting as if everybody is in your way simply because you're in lycra on a full carbon bike?

My point -- there is a whole industry built around convincing people that the most superficial things about cycling are somehow very important, while ignoring things that are very important. The single most important thing about cycling to my mind is getting where you're going safely. It doesn't matter how good you look. It doesn't matter how cool your bike is. Nothing actually matters more than staying alive through your ride. Even having fun is secondary, if it distracts from the effort needed to keep yourself breathing.

Yeah, I know that most everyone knows the things I've written above. But it feels like very few people keep those things in mind while they're riding.

And that is today's frivolous opinion.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Beautiful in and out of town

Ok, here it is...the obligatory picture. Fortunately, it's not just's also pretty. I saw this biking through downtown Oakland. I often go through this part of town on one of my favorite loops, and it's full of art like this.  I've started to note all of the murals I see; I thought of taking pictures of them all, but that would entail stopping every minute or so.

I don't know what this is, but to me, it has a mystical feel.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Coming soon to a garage near you...

The high temperature yesterday was ninety degrees fahrenheit.  That's thirty-two celsius for you who think in those terms. However you measure temperature, it was hot.

So of course, before it got that hot, I had to go out for a ride. I did get caught in very hot weather, but there was a slight breeze, so it was only hot when I stopped.

I found this body of water in the middle of a city, situated between a residential section and a shopping mall.

I don't know where this water is coming from, but I suspect it's not for swimming.

The fence shown below used to have the outline of a bicycle painted on it. Obviously, the city decided it should be beautified..
Though...what could be more beautiful than a bike?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

And I thought I was done with school

In the last few months, I've become gear-obsessed. Not the expensive Garmin thingies, or more fancy bike clothes, but the type of gear that affects speed and hill climbs.

I've always been mystified by gear ratios. In fact, I've always been mystified by anything that smacks of math. However, the ratio can be expressed as gear inches. The formula for gear inches is actually pretty simple:

drive wheel diameter in inches * (teeth in front chainring/teeth in rear cog)

Note, though, that the drive wheel diameter should take into account the height of the inflated tire. So the diameter can differ depending on the tire used. I think. So figuring out the tire diameter, while not exactly a black art, is of necessity imprecise.

But my understanding of it is also this: gear inches represent a virtual wheel. So if I'm on my granny gear (22) in front and the smallest gear (11) in back, I'm running 54.6 gear inches. I'm also hopelessly cross-chained, but let's ignore that. So I'm running a virtual drive wheel of 54.6 inches.

In a real-world situation, let's say I'm taking a tough climb, or at least as tough a climb as I ever take. The chain would be on the 22-tooth ring in front and most likely the 26-tooth cog in back. That would give me approximately 23 gear inches, roughly equivalent to a single speed folding bike if you want to think of it that way.

While this seems somewhat uninteresting, the upshot is this: if you know how many gear inches you're using on difficult climbs, then you may want to know what kind of gearing you can use to potentially make those climbs easier.

And I bet you thought you were wasting your time.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Breakfast with friends


Yeah, we're cool with scones. We eat them all the time. Hey, don't finish that!