One more on the topic of bikes

velorution caught a sensible bit from a London cyclist about how to make cycling more mainstream. It’s a great read. I’m generally a complete free marketer kind of guy, but this bit and the Morning Edition bit on London’s serious traffic tolls to enter downtown have me wondering if there isn’t more local governments could do…

I’m doubtful that much of this could work in the US – we’ve just accepted huge distances as a fact of life. Much as I’d love to bike to work, it’s not happening at my current job. But there is more I can do to include cycling in non-commuting activities.

Anyway… Here’s my take on a couple salient items:

I am asking you to Embrace the Midstream. We must convince responsible citizens –those with good manners, good grooming, and regular attendance at the polls– that cycling is a civilised mode of transport.

The importance of this can’t be overemphasized. We’ve gone to treating cycling as something that’s exceptionally hazardous, done only by athletes, and requiring huge investments in money to do “right”. It’s not. And it shouldn’t be.

Ban Lycra and DayGlo colours. Convincing people that cycling is civilised is a job that calls for natural fibres and earth tones. Lycra is comfortable, and day glo jackets minimise your chances of being mistaken for a parking space. But Lycra is, with few exceptions–and none of them in my age bracket–unflattering. And day glo colours are equally repellent. You can’t expect to be taken seriously when you’re riding around in the sartorial equivalent of a sausage casing and wailing car alarm.

There’s a couple of corollaries to this, though: First, build roads with adequate shoulders. One of the great things about Connecticut and Rhode Island roads is that most of them have literally feet outside of traffic lanes for cyclists. So it’s not quite as important to be day-glo to avoid being run over. The second is to put the visibility on the bike – cheap lights go a long way to making the cyclist visible.

Case in point – my lovely wife has resisted my pleas to get her on a bike more regularly mostly out of fear of pulling on lycra. Until she saw this skort in the LL Bean catalog. Yep, it’s got supportive lycra. But she also could see herself walking around downtown wearing it.

But as we thrive on our status as victim and underdog we unwittingly intimidate a large number of well-adjusted people who would like to enjoy the advantages of riding. Fake it if you must, but the sooner we start looking and behaving like ordinary commuters, the more we will be accepted as and then joined by ordinary commuters.

This, I think, is just a smart course of action in all areas of life.

The more people we can persuade to identify with cyclists, the more people will become cyclists. Of course there is a need for better, safer facilities, and more government-funded incentives. But we can’t underestimate the cultural obstacles and our singular ability to help others overcome them.

Amen, brothers and sisters.

Splash

Hit the pool this morning! Rock on for actually getting out of bed when the alarm strikes.

1700 yards – 200 warmup, 1000 crawl, 250 bilateral breathing, 50 backstroke, 100 crawl, 100 cooldown. No busted heels.

Yesterday’s ride still has me pumped. Shaving time off of Friday’s time was a boost to the ego, and there were a couple of times when the bike was really singing. Watching cycling on TV has kind of changed my riding style. I used to ride much like I drove; coasting into corners and avoiding use of the brakes as much as possible. Now (traffic permitting), I’m riding a lot more aggressively. If I can see that the corner’s clear, I’ll accelerate into the corner, break as I enter the turn, and then hammer as I come out. All the while with Bob Roll in my head saying “What Billy needs to do now is to ride that thing like he’s stole it to see if he can hold off the sprinter’s trains…”

A further two observations from yesterday’s ride:
– I need to raise my seat about a half inch. Why? ‘Cause there’s a half inch of cushion missing off my rump.
– Cycling does use a totally different set of leg muscles than running.

I’m re-evaluating my interm training plan from now until I kick off serious marathon training, and thinking that I’m probably better off just concentrating on getting in a good 40-60 minutes in every weekday, a long ride/run on Saturday, and rest and yard work on Sunday. My goal at this point still needs to be losing the remaining 15-20 lbs that I need to shed to get into true “fighting” weight, with the secondary goal of making fitness as crucial a part of my personal life as checking e-mail. So expect a lot more riding in the near term – why? ‘Cause it makes me happy…

Spring

Spring seems to have finally sprung…

I put off riding until this afternoon, and almost skipped since I’d promised the boy I was going to take him to story night at his school. But the sunshine and apparent lack of blazing wind through the office windows got me to blow off the last hour of work I had until tonight and strap on the old cleats. Two true confessions:

1. I left most of my cycling kit at the house, so I ended up walking over to the bike shop and buying a new water bottle and gloves. Completely against one of my resolutions which was to stop these kind of stupid impulse purchases.

2. I broke the PC cycling code and rode without a helmet. The whole time I was riding I was afraid I was going to crash and die and be an outcast from the cycling community for being an idiot. But the wind in the hair and all felt GREAT.

Stats: 14 miles, 52 minutes. Which is an improvement over Friday’s ride, but still not what I’m used to averaging. I think that part of the issue may be that I’ve switched over to using my Forerunner for tracking rides instead of the bike’s computer. The Forerunner keeps timing and averaging speed even when I’m stopped, whereas computer ride time only “counts” while the bike’s in motion.

Great ride; the legs were good, and the course was great. One minor mistake, though. Do not ever try to adjust your glasses with one hand while trying to climb out of the saddle. I ended up jerking the handlebar, having a knee buckle, and running off the asphalt. I ended up being impressed with my bike handling on mushy grass; somehow I avoided going ass over teakettle or jerking back into traffic and ending up as someone’s hood ornament, but I did end up drawing blood when my knee hit one of the zip ties strapping the computer wire to my front fork. Not to worry, though, it’s only a flesh wound.

And I did make it home in time for Story Time.

I think the heel’s better; it didn’t hurt on my way home this evening, and has turned a lovely shade of blue.

Dean Karzanes was on NPR this morning in an odd bit of syncronicity.

Night y’all.

Wow

You’ve got to check out Sean Lloyd’s post today – it’s about Dean Karzanes, an ultra-runner. Great post; hits the nail on the head with the eternal struggle between work/family/self.

In other news, my heel is really throbbing. I think my ankle is fine, but I don’t think I’ll push things. Probably go sit on one of the bikes at the gym this afternoon for a while.

Good News!

I’ve learned to walk naked on stilts! – Homer Simpson

The good news is only sort of …

I hit the pool this afternoon. The Y pool, mostly out of guilt of using the base pool last week. 1700 yards, mostly good. I wasn’t quite into it, but I was making do. The pool was kind of crowded, but I figure that’s just good practice if I ever do actually do a race…

Anyhow, things were going well until I hurt myself.

Yep, I hurt myself swimming.

Really.

Dig this – I was doing a flip turn, all good and proper – tucked my head into my chest, pulled my legs up and over, and BANG! clocked my ankle on the edge of the pool. Then, I clocked my head on the bottom. Ouch.

Popped up out of the water with my ankle throbbing. Wiggled it for a while, and decided that I was done swimming for the day. Sat on the edge of the pool ’til I thought I could put weight on it without falling, and then limped to the locker room. I think it’s going to be all right for running tomorrow, but if it hadn’t been raining all day, I’d shift cycling/running days to keep the weight off.

Random Monday Bits

Weigh in: 169 this morning! First time I’ve seen the light side of 170 since 1998, I believe. Though I may have been 165 during my last attempt at marathon workups, before adding about 30 lbs during a sympathy pregnancy.

Pro Cycling: Bobby Julich won the Criterium International over the weekend. I don’t have much cogent to say, other than to point out that he won Paris-Nice this year, and is having a bang-up year after having a lot of folks say he should have quit after last year. Bobby Julich is rapidly becoming to American cycling fans this year what Tyler Hamilton was last year – the cool, indie alternative to fealty to Lance Armstrong. Plus, he rides a cool Canadian bike.

Haven’t watched the entire tape yet, but the final climb on Sunday (before the time trial – these guys are nuts; a mountain stage and a time trial on the same day) was a thing of beauty. A 4 man break featuring CSC’s Julich and Ivan Basso (a stud in his own right; remember the Pyranees last July?), Jorge Jasche; and Thomas (Don’t call me Eric – stole that from the TDF Blog) Dekker on the final climb. Each rider was at redline, each attempted several escapes, and Dekker finally was able to chase down Jasche and cross the line in first. Huge effort, tactically beautiful, great racing.

I was down on OLN after they essentially dropped cycling from their lineup after the 2004 tour. But I’ll go ahead and say that their hour and a half show every Sunday rocks. Much as I’d like live coverage of everything, Bob Roll and the Brits doing kind of a weekly “CyclingCenter” is working out pretty well. If they’d add live coverage of the Giro and the Vuelta, I’d be completely satiated.

Random Bike Bits: I started stripping the paint off of my old Trek frame this weekend. It doesn’t want to come off easily at all. Part of the problem could be the cold – I was doing it outside with the temps in the 40’s, but I think the biggest contributor is the generally fine paint job that was on the bike. But it’s exciting to watch the steel emerge from under the yellow. The biggest lesson learned, though, is that the chainstay protector should come off before you start the stripping process…

Good Friday

Great Friday, actually, after my earlier rant…

I’m doing taxes this week, so will not be commenting much. I will still be reading y’all’s stuff – it keeps me going.

Anyhoo, after griping here Friday morning, and raining on Chris’ parade, I got off my butt and decided to talke a long lunch Friday, said “Snot be darned”, and hied hither to the pool. 1700 meters, felt great.

Then, I drove over to the Copp Family Property town park, parked the car, and hopped on the bike. 14 miles @ 15 MPH average, 56 minutes. THEN I strapped on the sneakers and ran a quick three miles. OK, ran a quick first mile, then slogged through two more.

I dunno, I guess spring was in the air…

The swim was great. I have no idea what my swimming pace is. As far as how have I been working on form – I’ve been using two guiding principles: First, if you look at critters that swim, usually they do it without making much of a rucus at the air-water interface. I suppose there’s some stealth involved, but my biggest guess is that splashing is pretty darn inefficient. Some energy that could go to pushing a body through water must go to making sound and displacing water vigorously enough to break surface tension and arc the water through the air. The second is that the motion needs to feel, well, fluid. I’ve scanned a couple books on swimming, and those two principles seem to bear out.

The bike ride: 15 MPH – Honestly, I’m a little disappointed. I thought I could push out at least a 16 MPH ride. BUT, I was holding back a bit since I wanted to at least run a little bit, and I intentionally hit a couple of pretty long climbs. For a first real ride of the season, I’m not entirely upset.

The run was much better than I’d expected after swimming and cycling. Other than your core, the three sports do work drastically different muscle groups. First mile was in the 7:30 range, second in the 8:30, and last in the 9:30 range, so I was clearly fading fast.

Saturday and Sunday were both yard work and family days. I’d been late at the office a couple of nights last week, so rather than carving time for working out, the boys and I spent a bunch of time in the yard, on the swingset, laying down lime and fertilizer, and clearing brush.

Appropriate Word of the Day

pestiferous \pes-TIF-uh-ruhs\, adjective:
1. Bearing or bringing disease.
2. Infected with or contaminated by a pestilential disease.
4. Bothersome; troublesome; annoying.

(More here)
Grrr… Still sniffiling; but it’s a beautiful day today, so I will get out.

Stupid Flu

OK, probably not actual flu, but some terrible head cold anyway.

The bike ride didn’t happen on Wednesday, and the dual day didn’t happen today. The bike ride was called off on account of freakish late season snow – it was cold and wet most of Wednesday.

Wednesday night I went to sleep about 8:30, right after the kids were in bed. And woke up at about 6:45, running late.

Today was a pretty busy day at work, trying to tie up what I’ve been doing enough that it’s useful. So I blew off swimming, figuring I’d run on the way home. Ah, but then I remembered that there were a couple of errands to run, so that was shot. Fortunately one involved an appliance that had been delivered without the appropriate cables hoses and doo-dads necessary to hook it up and that, after a month of waiting for it to be delivered, was going to be at least another week to get the proper gear brought out …. In any case, I called the store, made sure they had the parts, and told them I’d hook it up myself provided they’d give me the parts for free. Sure ’nuff, when I get to the store, I’m told “You spoke to who? That’s impossible since I’ve been answering the phone all day.” Grrr… I’m logging it as Cardio.

Tomorrow will be better.