Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I Am a Fair Weather Cyclist

So, it's summer, and I have plenty of free time.  I'm thinking that I'm going to be cycling every day and building up endurance and miles.

My daughter was scheduled to hang with a friend for the afternoon.  That meant plenty of time for a good ride.

But, it rained (cats and dogs) before riding time.

Riding through puddles didn't appeal to me.  I don't like getting wet, and I felt too lazy to do the extra bike maintenance after a wet ride.  Plus, I'm not real keen on wet brakes . . .

Right now, I'm kind of regretting my choice.  But, I have another commitment this evening.

There's always tomorrow . . . right?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Stupid Bicycling: Chapter 2

Spotted in West Houston on a glorious May Saturday: Mom and two children decide to take a ride on residential streets.  Mom is rocking a cruiser with short shorts and flip-flops.

And . . . one of the children sitting atop the top tube.

Neither kid is wearing a helmet (which is mandatory for riders under 14 in our fair city).

I really need to start taking a camera out with me . . .

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Stupid Bicycling: Chapter 1

If we cyclists expect motorists to take us seriously, shouldn't we display common sense whenever we ride?

I've decided to chronicle the random acts of stupid bicycling that I witness so that whoever reads this blog (mostly me) will remember to avoid them.

For instance, I definitely won't be like the ninja-salmon cyclist I saw recently on Westheimer while driving home from an extended day at work.

Today, I saw three particularly egregious acts.  One of them potentially put me in danger . . .

While riding on the multi-use path at Barker Reservoir, I saw a paceline of cyclists in full kit cruising at a respectable road speed.  On the road, that would have been great.  On a trail that caters to pedestrians, skaters, and cyclists, it was almost criminal!  What a bunch of pansies!!!  If you're that afraid of cars, take up mountain biking.

Stupid trick two was a a couple of  time-trialers hunkered over their aero-bars.  I believe one can safely ride at higher speeds on the north side of the dam, but having one's hands away from the brakes given the amount of two-way traffic there is strikes me as foolish.  Perhaps a long stretch of country road with a low volume of traffic is a better idea.

The grand finale is a guy that I passed on my return trip.  We were riding into a headwind.  We were both about the same size.  He was riding a skinny tire rig with a nice 52-tooth big ring; I was riding my CrossTrail on the 36-tooth ring.  After a couple of minutes, I notice him drafting me.  That would have been OK except, (a) he didn't ask and (b) I didn't know him.  Fortunately, I had strong legs today.  Otherwise, he might have ridden straight up my butt had I decided to coast a bit.

To add insult to injury, as we round the corner and head south along the dam's eastern side, he pulls out, passes, and says, "Thanks for the pull," without bothering to return the favor.  Of course,  I said nothing, and I probably should have . . .

I wonder: Would I be a bad person if I carried an incredibly loud air horn and sounded it as an "idiot alarm" when I see stuff like this?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Making Peace with the Wind

Hello, blog, you poor, neglected thing!  Have you missed me?

It's Springtime!  Springtime brings a lot of things: Warmer weather, more sun, a return to lawn care, leaves on the trees, blooming wildflowers . . . 

And wind!

Compared to my hometown (Cheyenne, Wyoming), the wind here is nothing (except during a hurricane).  However, being a man broad of shoulders (and waistline) and creating enough rolling resistance for Lance Armstrong and three-quarters, I am the bicycling equivalent of a semi-truck or RV.  It only takes a little wind to slow me down (further).

It seems like every ride I've taken in the last couple of months has provided me with the opportunity to learn to deal with the wind.  And, since my bride and I have picked several breezy locales as possible retirement locales, I need be able to deal with the wind if I intend to keep riding into my senior years.

I don't remember where I read the interview, or who was being interviewed, but I remember that it was a rider who was a big-time cross-country (mountain bike) and cyclocross racer.  He advised novices to familiarize themselves with their gearing and become proficient and frequent, small changes in gearing.  His rationale was that maintaining consistent cadence and perceived exertion would save energy in the long run as opposed to hammering uphill and coasting downhill.

We don't have many hills to speak of in the Houston area, but I think the same principles can apply to dealing with wind and road conditions.

For me, that's only half of the equation, though.

The other half is personal comfort.  I've made some changes to my trusty steed that help in this regard:
  1. I got rid of the gel saddle cover.  I have a Brooks B-17 to put on, but the rails don't fit my clamp exactly, and I haven't been inclined to do anything about that, yet.  However, riding on the "naked" saddle (with padded shorts) has been more comfortable, and I think that I'm finally able to sit in the saddle for a couple of hours without a break.
  2. I did replace my handlebar grips with Ergon grips.  The Ergons distribute the pressure across more of the hand so I don't pinch the ulnar nerves in both hands like I did previously.  Handlebar discomfort doesn't go away immediately, but it does get reduced significantly.
  3. I haven't figured out a pedal solution that will make those more comfortable for long rides.  But, I'm a lot more comfortable with the pedals than I used to be, so I'm in no hurry to work on this one.
Today's ride was a blessing: Headwinds for the first half of the ride; tailwinds for the second half.  Temperatures were cool, traffic was light, coffee was good, and all of my body parts in contact with the bike remained relatively comfortable throughout the ride.

Since I didn't have to take coasting breaks with my butt in the air (trust me, you don't want to see that), or shake out hands and feet to get blood flowing, I was able to maintain a consistent cadence.  I used the whole range of gears on my middle chainring, so my speed varied a good deal.  However, I felt great at the end of the ride, and I'm up for clearing the jungle that is currently my backyard this afternoon (without a nap, even)!

I need to start taking a camera with me.  The Bluebonnets are so-so, but there were some red flowers that looked awesome.  If they're Indian Paintbrush, they're the biggest ones I've ever seen . .  .