Category Archives: Bike


So the end of last week turned out to be a bust (sort of). No running, no cycling – Honest to God good excuses for all days, so I’m not going to get all weepy and introspective on you, at least not today. Saturday I’m not going to be defensive about blowing off, though right now for the life of me I can’t figure out why not. Sunday I probably should have run, but (1) We made it to church, early actually, and (2) I laid down lime and grass seed. Oh, yeah – my lovely wife took Saturday as a well-deserved Mental Health day, so I got to play daddy all day.

Sunday was a milestone in my oldest boy’s life. He turned 5 about a month ago, and for over a year, I’ve been pulling f’n teeth trying to get him to ride a sweet little BMX bike we picked up for him. He’s an overly cautious child (unlike the Baby, who is likely to end up stuck in a tree by the end of the summer – kid likes to climb and can already climb the slide, though he ends up going down headfirst unless someone’s there to set him straight) – takes after his Mother, which is not necessarily a bad thing considering my track record – and the little bit of wobbliness in a bike with training wheels scared the crap out of him.

Anyhow, I coaxed him onto the bike Sunday afternoon, dropped his brother in the jogging stroller, and headed up the street hoping to make something click. And click it did – Once we made it over a little hill by our house, I saw the light that sprockets and chains can bring, and the big anklebiter stopped riding the coaster break, and started to coast. Once I had to start jogging to keep up with him, the kid turned into a sadist, realizing “Hey, I can make daddy run!”. So the next half hour was intervals – he’d sprint on the flats and downhill, and I’d catch him and help him up the next hill. He was even starting to get into trying to grind up hills to keep me running, but he hasn’t figured out the whole standing on the pedals thing. Good times. Nate (the year old) got a kick out of it, too – not sure if it was the speed while the stroller was really cooking, or if it was just picking up on his big bro’s happiness, but he was giggling manically. Hmmm, possibly I should be scared of the baby. I should go ahead and log Sunday – it was a mile and a half, which is something.

We got the boy (Jake) some new sneaks, too, but he doesn’t need much encouragement to run.

Today was running with the “real” runners at the lab. 5 miles for me in about 41 minutes (not shabby for an overweight white boy), 5.4 for them in 40. The guys are great to run with – they’ll push, but would hang back if I asked. Instead, I pace with them until we approach the half-way point, then I drop off and head back to the beginning, trying to see if I can hold them off until we get back. Not sure what kind of run it is – I spend the first half at or above LT, and the second half slightly slower than “race pace”. It’s not quite a stress/recovery cycle like true intervals, it’s not entirely LSD (Long Slow Distance). But it’s good, since I get off my rump and push.

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.


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.

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.

Sound of Silence

Thanks for all the great wishes for the boy’s birthday, and good words on training. Bouncing back seems to be kind of a trend; all well and good, but it’d be nicer to to just keep meeting goals.

Deciding to take a mulligan for this week was good for the psyche. Probably should have scheduled last week as a recovery week in any case; kind of funny how things work out that way. Next week is going to be busy, but I think I’ve got most things worked out.

My Cannondale, my 19 lbs of aluminum and carbon sweetness, got put back together on Friday. All degreased, all re-greased (very, very thin), new tubes and a new tire on my backup wheels, and the primary set of wheels at the bike shop for a little bit of truing. I’m comfortable working on pretty much anything on the bike (the secret is good grease, and not much of it) except for the spokes. I ran into my pastor while dropping them off – he’s in great shape, though, and his riding brings him closer to God in pretty much opposite the way that mine does. Though at the end of this season, hopefully I’ll be feeling God’s presence on the bike in the good way. Shaping the temple and all that.

Saturday was, quite possibly, the best day I’ve had in a long while. Woke up, just plain woke up not tired, not due to an alarm, not due to a screaming kid, not due to my wife kicking me since I was snoring, but just plain woke up at 6 AM. Kind of pinched myself. Luckily, I’d stashed my cycling gear in the kitchen the night before. Tiptoed out, dressed, carried the bike down the back stairs, and clipped in.

Darn it was cold.

And I’d forgotten my hat.

Screw it, I’m out for a while anyway.

Headed down the hill towards River Road. Darn, it’s cold. And now I can’t feel my ears. Hmm. Scratch the easy/fast ride along Route 1.

So, I climbed. Turned around and headed up the hill down which I’d came. Climbed up to the top, realized I could feel my cheeks and ears again, then gritted my teeth heading downhill. Turned around as soon as the ground leveled out and started up a different hill. Kept it up for an hour (computer magnet’s on the spokes of the wheels in the shop).

Man, I love the bike.

The sound of silence came in about halfway up the second hill – I clicked into a bigger cog, and suddenly realized that it was the first sound I’d heard from the bike in about a mile. Was a moment of serenity, as all the time and skinned knuckles of the last week or so paid off in a finely tuned machine.