Category Archives: Commute

Popped the Commute Zero

I’d like to claim that I’m way, way, harder core than I am.

But, simple fact of the matter is that I haven’t actually commuted to work since 8 November, and hadn’t ridden the bike outside since my snowy mountain bike epic in December.

Bleh.

There’s excuses – Daylight savings time, sun not rising till after 7 and setting before 430. Whatever. Like other things, everybody’s got ’em.

Today, ran out of excuses. Temp in the morning was mid-20s, sky was light by 630, and forecast to get to the 40’s before the end of the day. Awesome. Good ride in, slow despite a winter’s dedication to spin class, but the bike worked.

Biggest difficulty was in getting started – After over two months off, absolutely nothing was where it was supposed to be. Couldn’t find light batteries, couldn’t find gloves (and the ones I found weren’t thick enough by a long shot). Legs felt like sausages, bike felt heavy, and seemed like a consistent headwind.

Funny thing, though – I haven’t been able to quit smiling since I got to the office, knowing that I get to ride home. Headwinds on the way to work become tailwinds on the way home. Lots of slow tough rides lead to fast legs. Moving legs like sausages makes them legs like pistons.

Other stuff:

    If you haven’t, Mr. Cosmo Catalano has been, singlehandedly, providing the absolute best bike racing compendium weekly with The Week In Bike. Even my kids have started to look forward to this. Poor them.
    No real progress on deciding on an epic for this year. New job is exceptional, but I may be traveling for most of August, which throws a wrench (spanner) in using August for the execution of the Epic.
    In another life, I’m both a Cubmaster and an Assistant Scoutmaster. Still kind of ambivalent about the whole paramilitary structure of scouting, having spent a little bit of time working for the ghost of Hyman Rickover. But! Our troop got picked to go to Philmont in 2015. Which means that I can either grow more muscles to haul my pack at altitude, or I can finally drop the 30 lbs I’ve been meaning to for, well, ever.

So, that’s about it. Miss the dwindling RBF.

Cold Steel

I. Love. Winter.

There, I said it. I love winter.

I love the contrast between inside and outside in the winter. Inside – warm, muted light, fuzzy, close to ones you love. Outside – The winter sun lights up everything without heat, and the snow removes contrast and context from the landscape, emphasizing . The imperative is to keep moving, to balance energy in the tank with work that must be done. Focus. Anything above the snow snaps into sharp contrast.

Today’s ride was everything good about that – teens when I left the house, bright blue, high clouds, and shadows that can slice bread. The bike complained. Last week I’d ridden her hard and put her away wet, so there was some rust flaking off the chain, and some creaking as the bike asked why I’d neglected her. But, she moved.

I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ve been getting slower lately. Just barely managed to get 12 MPH on the ride in. Not sure why so slow. I didn’t particularly try to hammer, but remember being really let down that it took so long, since i’d felt good on the bike, and the day was so beautiful.

Good chance to make it up this evening.

Slush / Splash / Chase

Today’s awesomeness began this morning. The overnight light snows left a little bit of a dusting on the shoulder. Not enough to make it slick, but enough to leave tracks. Pretty cool to roll the front tire through it, see it get shiny on the edges, and then watch a steady stream of dirty snow the texture of an Icee keep growing out of the front of the fender. Got to work with the bottom bracket a sloppy mess. Commuter Details

Swam at lunch, and tried out a new Jlab Go waterproof MP3 player. Dug swimming with tunes; wish I’d known how to make the player shuffle.

Ride home was awesome. The days are getting longer, and it was still twilight leaving the office. Warm (For February) during the day, so the snow was pretty much gone. I had an extra half hour before supper, so I took the long way home, cutting down to Bluff Point and across to Haley Farm as the light faded.

There’s a mile-long stretch between Haley Farm and Bluff Point that’s on the ballast for the Acela track. I’m kind of surprised there’s not a Strava segment on it, but also kind of don’t want to make one. It’s flat, flat, and a great stretch for group rides and runs – 5-10 minutes of plenty of room to stretch and talk. By the time I got there, it was actual no-lie dark, and I was enjoying the cold and silence and the tunnel of lights coming off of my handlebars and helmet.

The first part of the trail is an abandoned rail bed. Flew around the corner, and almost biffed – caught the front tire in a frozen rut from the ranger’s pickup – three oscillations, and saved it. The cross bike is awesome, but the drop bars aren’t the greatest for manhandling the front wheel around ruts. Plenty of light, but no contrast on the frozen mud. I was happier than a pig in poop.

The mud trail comes out onto the ballasted shoulder of the track. Cut the corner and managed not to clip the gate, and briefly sat up to enjoy the spin. About a quarter mile ahead, there was a group of three mountain bikers, so I dropped the hammer and chased until they went up the grade to the pedestrian bridge. Almost caught ’em, ‘cept they could make the sharp turn and rough cutoff. I had to continue on about another 100 feet, slow uturn, and crank up the grade.

One little patch of mud on a south facing grade, and I found myself wishing for knobbies instead of the reflective slicks. Kept it upright, cranked over the bridge, and chased the flickering lights through Haley Farm. In hindsight, I think I caught the tail end of the Mystic Cycle Wednesday Ride – bunch of folks with nice bikes putting them up on the cars in the parking lot.

Rest of the ride was uneventful – Thought I was going to die going up Fort Hill, but that’s pretty standard. Flanders headed north is the most awesome false flat for about 30 miles around. Flew down the Gold Star Highway, and kind of freaked out when a driver actually slowed up behind me for about 100 yards ’cause they were turning right behind me. Thanks Driver!

Longsuffering wife had green beans and fish ready when I got home, and it was still warm…

Somedays, I just love my life.

Bike To Work Month Day 3

Three days into May and I’m still biking to work. Not dead yet.

Commuting shadows

No great insights yet. But I’m loving something to be relentlessly positive about for 31 days. Easy to do that with bikes, spring, and New England. Winter appears to be defeated for another six months.

I’ve also developed a new Internet crush – BikeyFace. Boston based, funny, bikes. Awesome.

Road Hazard

Road Hazard

Georgeous day to ride in this morning, despite temps starting at about 30 F (-1 C). My only regret was not putting on a wind-proof layer on my torso – any speed over 15 mph was painful regardless of the amount of work I was putting into it. No sweat at all, though.

December is shaping up to be a great month – four days commuting on the bike last week, two days this week (with Friday as a rotating day off on which I’ll get bonus ride), and a week of vacation at the end of the month.

I think I’ve licked the cold weather thing. The toughest part of the challenge is in preventing sweating – nothing worse than putting on wet clothes for the ride home and not warming up at all. But wind-proof gloves and a balaclava seem to do well enough on keeping frostbite off the ears and fingertips. My feet, I think, will just be cold. For half an hour it’s survivable in coastal Connecticut.

The rack is worth its weight in gold – so nice not to have to have weight on my back. Nicer is not having an excuse to drive just in case I need to stop by the store to pick up milk (or wine!) on my way home.

Lights for my use aren’t a problem – I’ve got two NiteRider Minewt USB sets, one on the handlebars / stem, and one on my helmet.

Visibility to drivers is still my main concern. I’ve got reflectors and a couple of LED blinky lights on my bike, but still feel relatively invisible. I’m adding a reflective vest, but would love suggestions. Vittoria Randonneur tires with the reflective stripes leap out at me, but I’m less than 500 miles into wearing out the tires that came on the bike, and am trying (really) to be cheap about the commuter bike. The good folks at Mystic Cycle Center sent me off to the hardware store for reflective tape to wrap around the frame. But it’s good to be thinking ahead.

Snow hasn’t fallen yet – we’ll see how that changes my attitude.