Sunday, September 17, 2017

Objectify


I've recently "downgraded" myself from commuter/weekend adventurer to simply commuter. In a way, that makes me feel...I don't know, less of a cyclist. But in another way, it makes me feel better. Because I never wanted to be a "real" cyclist. And I was well on my way to becoming an object lesson, believing that there were things I had to do to really enjoy cycling, and burning out on cycling as a result.

What did I feel I had to do? I felt I had to ride more and more miles. I felt I had to tackle harder and harder climbs. I felt I had to conform to someone else's idea of what a cyclist should do.
Gratuitous bike porn: the new Salsa Vaya in mint green with a Tiagra drivetrain. It's the same color as my Straggler. Do you think my wife will notice if I buy this and just leave it where the Straggler usually is?


And one day I thought: no, screw this. I'm not going to ride thirty miles today - I'm going to ride until I feel like turning around. I'm not going to work on the difficult climb near my work - I'm going to work on the climb that's on my commute that I still find difficult. Or I'm not going to work on anything -- I don't feel like riding today, so I won't ride today. I'll learn how to work on my bike instead. Or I'll play music. Or I'll hike. Or do the grocery shopping and cook dinner. Or I'll just watch some stupid kung-fu exploitation flick that adds nothing whatsoever of merit to my life.

Have I gotten a result from this yet? I'm not sure. I've been noticing that my commute climb is a little easier, and oddly, a little more fun. I get to spend more time with my family, and my family has expressed their appreciation.  I'm also finding that walking can be enjoyable. In general, I think I enjoy cycling more when I don't feel I have to do it.

My name is Doug, and I am a cycling addict. But I'm in recovery. I still have ambitions to do some long tours. And I'm still going to do at least one charity ride in the coming year. But primarily I'll be looking for fun things to do on the bike; like going to a nearby brewpub or checking out some coffee place I've never been to.

Even though cycling is and is probably going to remain my primary athletic focus, it's not going to be the focus of my life. I can't take it so seriously that it eclipses everything else. And who knows? One of the results might be that my blogging starts being entertaining again.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Part the twelfth, in which I have to acknowledge my age

A friend of mine put it best: "At our age, it takes a short time to lose fitness, and four times as long to gain it back."

Took the road bike for a twenty-four mile ride yesterday. I don't know if it was the temperature, or if I just pushed myself harder than usual, but the ride absolutely wiped me out. It may also have been that I'm breaking in the Brooks saddle, and I used my legs a lot to cushion the impact when going over speed bumps and etc.

On the plus side, I did take the first halfway decent pictures I've taken in a while. And I ended up in my favorite place: lost. It may just be my inexperience with long trips, but when I realize that I don't know where I am: serenity.

I really wish I had a more clever caption than "Bike path near some condos."
If I'd been paying attention when I stopped and took that last picture, I would have smelled German food cooking, which probably would have tipped me off as to where I was. I figured it out shortly after taking the picture below.
Not only beautiful, but just ten minutes away from beer!
In the end, though, I was rewarded twice over: I went back to that location in a car to have dinner there, and I slept like a tired dog.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Ouch. Sort of.

I treated myself. Again.

I've wanted one of these for a while. Partly for style (because at sixty, I can use all the style I can get), partly because I wanted a saddle that would last for a while, and partly because I wanted to experience the break-in process for myself.

First thing, I covered the saddle top and bottom with Proofide™, then waited twenty-four hours. Had the bike store install it to get their take on the right nose angle, etc.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Possibly two thousand words, probably less

Here are a couple of pictures from recent rides. And a picture being worth a thousand words, well...

This first picture came because I deviated from my usual commute route. My usual route doesn't have this many trees, and as a result it's just not as cheerful.
Really, it's the road less travelled...
And this one is right near my favorite local Biergarten.
It's not Venice, but it's not bad. Like Venice, it's a pleasant place to eat on the water.

Finally broke a hundred miles on the new bike with a thirty-two mile ride yesterday. Sadly I did not get one decent picture from the whole ride. I did learn what "natatorium" means -- it's a building containing a swimming pool.  There was a headwind for about fifty percent of the ride, so it was a pretty fair workout. Not one I'm anxious to repeat, but pretty fair.

And now I'm thinking about it...time for another ride. See you later.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Miscellanea, part N+1

I haven't been blogging much. Lot of stuff going on. I've been learning some German (Ich habe ein neue fahrrad gekauft!) Reading when I can.  Mostly working a lot. But there has been some bikey stuff happening.

We'll start with the big stuff. The N+1.

You can't tell that this poor bike has spent all day in a hot bike locker, can you?
It's a Straggler, pretty much stock. I did use a shorter angled stem ("Don't you understand that you're supposed to be more stretched out on a road bike?"),  changed out the Surly Knards (700Cx41) for Panaracer Paselas (700Cx35), and put fenders and a rack ("How could you ruin that beautiful road bike with fenders and a rack?!?!") on it. I'm not sure, but I think there is also a Brooks B17 in this bike's future.

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.