Sunday, July 1, 2018

almost back to bikes

I've been riding a little, largely commuting, working on getting back the cardiovascular fitness I would swear I had before going on vacation. Vacation was great - walking six hours a day keeps your walking muscles in shape -- but it doesn't do a great deal of good for your biking muscles or your lungs. At least I don't think so, but I'm hardly an expert in these matters.

Outside of work and biking, I've been concentrating on music. I think I've felt guilty for not practicing for quite a while. Then I ran into this quote by American poet Mary Oliver that pushed me back into practicing more than I've done in a while:

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”

But I've been thinking about bikes. Largely negatively, but I am thinking about them. Ok, maybe my negativity is focused on my fitness, which seems to be an up and down thing. But since my fitness is largely dependent on get the idea.

I've also been thinking negative thoughts about the bike industry. Those thoughts center around what I can only think of as poor design decisions. Namely, that all of the higher end (more expensive) bikes come with drop bars.

I am a big fan of riding upright. I never ride in the drops, because...well, because it's uncomfortable.  So, I'm pretty much a fan of flat bar bikes. And I notice that most of the flat bar bikes I see for sale are sort of...well...under-equipped. Excepting the big-ticket mountain bikes, most flat-bar bikes have what I think of as entry-level components. The better grade of components seem to be reserved for drop-bar bikes.

Why is this? I think it's because flat bar bikes are thought of as entry level, while drop bar bikes are for serious riders.

I have an ideal in my mind, and perhaps this is only my ideal. It's a touring-style bike, road frame but with a slightly longer chainstay, flat bar, triple crankset, and trigger shifters. Ideally, the flat bar would be something like a Jones bar (or the Surly Moloko bar), but really any flat bar will do. One bike I've seen that comes close is the VSF Fahrradmanufaktur  T-700. Hey, aktiv Radfahren magazine gives it a "sehr gut" rating.
This bike does look sehr gut to me. (Photo owned by VSF Fahrradmanufaktur.)
But it seems the only option for this kind of bicycle in America is having one custom-built, which I'm not willing to do. Well, I am willing to do it -- but not for the money it would cost.

Time to get ready for today's ride. See you soon.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

back to bikes, but not quite yet

I've just returned from two weeks in Eastern Europe, and I'll be posting a few pictures as I cull out the bad ones.

Here's one from Krakow, Poland.

I didn't eat here, so I can't comment on the quality. But the sign didn't really sell me on trying the cafe.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Age, acceptance, and some other words I can't remember right now

Note: I started writing this post a week or so if you've been following what I write, and it seems a little weird in terms of time...that's why. I also apologize for my excessive use of the ellipse.

A few weeks back...perhaps three...I rode forty-five miles through the California countryside. I did it fairly quickly, cutting two hours off my best time for this route (which I rode last year for the first time.)

And I thought...hey, not bad for a guy in his sixties.

Then I paid for it. I was getting up in the morning two days later and my lower spine did a whipsaw, causing all the muscles around it to tighten up in defense. And that was it for biking for a week or so.

Ok, I don't know if my back pain was directly related to overdoing it on the ride. But it probably didn't help. And...not to belabor a point, but I believe I mentioned earlier that I would have had a better time taking it a little slower and then not writing about it in run-on sentences.

Here's a picture to relieve the tedium of the excess verbiage.
This has nothing to do with bikes, except it's in the same town as Bike Friday and it's epic, just like your favorite ride.
I have to face it. I'm getting older, and I need to watch what I do with my body. I'm not one of those whippet-like riders who you see passing you on hills while you're going slightly faster than walking pace. In fact, when I've seen pictures of myself on a bike, I think I look more like a circus bear than anything else (but with a bit less cruelty involved).

So. I've made several mid-year resolutions, but they all boil down to "Don't go faster than you're comfortable going, don't be intimidated into going faster, and stretch afterwards."

And in the wise words of Ozzy Osbourne, singer and unreal TV star: "Huh? Wha? Uh, Sharon, that's...wha? Mrmbbmblll....."

Ok, not a great quote, but I couldn't remember the one I actually wanted to use.

Monday, April 30, 2018

My big event

It's the night before a forty-five-mile charity ride. I have pre-ride jitters. I have no idea if I'm in good enough shape to do this ride. Last year I went on every training ride; this year, due to sickness and injury, I missed four or five of the training rides. I'm nervous.

Suddenly I realize that I have to meet a bus that will take us to to start of the ride (sixty miles from the meet-up point) and I have no idea what time I have to be there.  I look at the website for the event. There is no mention of a time anywhere. Frantically I search all the emails I've gotten from the ride organizers. It takes me ten minutes to find the pertinent information. It's buried somewhere in the fine print of one of the very early emails.

And this is one of the best-organized rides I go on.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

What's that I said?

Today was the last training ride before next Saturday's forty-five mile training ride. The ride leader decided that today was the day to hammer, and though that's not my ride, I did my best to keep up.

Below is a picture of almost everyone who turned up. You can pick me out easily; I'm the one in jeans. The others range in age from fifteen to forty, and there's not one of them who can't ride far faster than me.
This picture was taken by the helicopter pilot.
The Coast Guard helicopter was there because there was a boat show at the nearby marina (I didn't buy one) and they were going to do a rescue demonstration. The copter pilot gave me a mini-lecture on how this particular helicopter works; all I remember is that it's more complex than I thought it would be.

What else? Well, my legs continue to improve as far as stamina, though they're nowhere near where I want them to be. Also, if I had previously entertained any hopes that I could be a competitive racer (I hadn't), today would have dashed those hopes.

But as I think I've said somewhere: distance, not speed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

much less than 1000 words

Another Sunday, another training ride. Counting the miles to the ride meetup, thirty-two miles.

And again I didn't take a single picture. But it was a good ride. My legs are getting stronger after having lost stamina during a protracted cold. Last year, when I did this same route, I had trouble with certain sections. This year, I just cruised through them. It did help that I was following an enthusiastic group as well. I didn't even have too much trouble with the headwind that featured on about half of the route.

In addition to everything else, I had an epiphany. It wasn't a Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus moment, but it felt important anyway.

For years now, many people have been telling me "pedal in circles. No, really, circles." My initial response was "What the heck does that mean?"
A circle. Just in case this needed illustration.
Finally I got it, and I realized why people couldn't describe what they meant. It's not really a circle; it's more of an ovoid shape. At least for me it is. When I figured it out, two things occurred to me. One was the realization that I could put out half to two-thirds the effort for the same amount of progress. The other was a palm-to-forehead feeling because I hadn't understood the concept of pedaling in circles before.

So...thanks to our ride leader Jen who made the concept understandable. I'm still not going to clip in even though she said it would be more effective. I mean, really: I'm not crazy enough to attach myself to something that might fall over at any moment.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Crank redux

Hasn't been a great year for riding. I was getting in shape for a long ride when I got sidelined by the flu.

This morning I was supposed to go on my longest training ride of the year: 30+ miles. Last Friday I slipped and fell in the train station, landing on my arm and hip and tweaking a couple of muscles. So no riding for a few days. Or until I get bored with not riding...say, tomorrow.

Update: rode to work and back, no pain...or should I say no additional pain. In fact, my hip stopped hurting. All hail the great bicycle.

A few months back...or more, maybe...I changed out the crankset on my grocery bike (Kona Big Rove AL) for something that would give me a tiny bit more power. I went from 40/30/22 to 42/32/24. At that time, I thought I might do my first serious review of a bicycle component. I am, of course, unable to be serious about it. The new crankset is a Shimano Deore (XT?). The guy at the LBS thinks that most of the perceived increase in efficiency is also attributable to the change in crank arm length; I now have about 5 mm longer crank arms. Does that contribute to increased efficiency/power? I don't know enough to say, and I'm too lazy to do any research on it.

I do know one thing hasn't changed. Sometimes when I'm riding the grocery bike, I go "Wheeeeee!" like an utter dork.

I feel like I should have a picture of the new crankset, but my laziness extends to not feeling like taking a picture. Instead, here's a bunch of colorful bike share bikes I came upon on my last longish ride.
Lime Bikes congregating
I really like bike sharing. Or at least I like the idea of it. I have an account for our local bike share program just in case I ever need a bike quickly. I'm not sure if I'll ever need one, but the availability is comforting.

Other news: the people who have run my LBS for the past eleven years have decided to retire to spend more time with their child. While the new owner is a decent guy, it's just not the same. However, the old owners have said that they'll now have more time to ride with their daughter, and I should expect a call once they get into their new routine, so...woo hoo! I have never been on a group ride with a five year old, and I look forward to it. I would expect lots of stops to look at stuff. Or maybe the five year old will be really competitive and just drop us slower riders early into the ride.