Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Road Conditions

I live in the East Bay.  Due to work demands, on weekdays I ride stupid early from 4:30 a.m to 7:30 a.m.  This time of the year Oakland and Berkeley hills are completely enveloped in fog.  The fog is so dense that it takes the form of drizzle and trees overhanging roads also drip-drip water, leaving roads completely wet.  Often, visibility is minimal.  Fog is so dense that I take off my prescription glasses and ride bare-eyed.  My prescription is fairly light, so what I lack in visual acuity, I more than make up in not having to look through lenses fogged up inside and out.  Having ridden in the fog on wet roads almost daily for years I've become pretty good at it.  I'm now ready to try riding on dry roads that I can see well.

The other day, I had my bike in my office in San Francisco and decided to take a lunchtime ride.  I rode from Financial District along the Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf toward the Presidio, then to Sea Cliff.  Turned east in Golden Gate Park, rode through the park, then went north back toward Presidio and retraced my steps.  Riding through Presidio, Sea Cliff, and GG Park was magical.  Especially the park.  On weekdays it's completely empty.  Main roads are newly paved and the tail wind makes up for the gradual uphill grade from the ocean to the Haight.  Went past the bison, Conservatory of Flowers, and the new DeYoung Museum.  Beautiful and peaceful. 

I had two close encounters with cars:  one made a right turn in front of me without signalling near the Fisherman's Wharf; the other pulled out of a parking space as I was passing by on Battery, half a mile from my office.  I had anticipated the latter more than the former, but had enough room to avoid the right turner.  Neither appeared to be a tourist -- the first was a Saab, the second a Toyota Highlander, not your typical rental vehicles -- so I can't blame gawking out of towners for not paying attention.  I'd been thinking about keeping a bike in my office and riding at lunch a couple of times a week, but these incidents and the overall lunchtime volume of traffic made me reconsider riding in the City altogether.  Perhaps I can find a different route.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Breakfast Cereal

Oatmeal is the only food that leaves you feeling emptier after you finish eating than when you started.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Bikes and Legs

It occurred to me how much I blame equipment for lack of conditioning.  This is common, I suppose, as tennis players complain about rackets when they fail to get into position and mis-hit the ball, runners moaning about their shoes, and cyclists (moi) whining when they climb slower than expected.  What's going on, the bike is slow and unresponsive, I thought.

The next day, several things happened: I looked at my riding position, which for a couple of years has been based on shoving the saddle as far back as its rails allow and pushing big gears.  Reluctantly coming to the realization that I'm better off spinning, I decided to move the saddle forward and up.  Swapped a 12cm stem for a 13cm to preserve the old bar reach.  Took a day off and slept a little longer than usual.  On Saturday, I was flying around the roads uphill and on flats.  The bike was fast and fun again.  So, when we are going well the opposite happens -- it's always the rider who's responsible for strong riding, not the bike.  Funny that.

Monday, July 12, 2010

More Ribs

This is my first rib injury, so I'm going to dwell on it.

One of the worst things with injured ribs is a sneeze.  Worse than a sneeze is the second sneeze.  When ribs hurt, you realize that a sneeze is a deep and sharp inhalation followed by a sharp exhalation.  The first sneeze sucks because ribs hurt like hell both on the inhalation and the exhalation.  The second sneeze sucks worse because you know that the upcoming sneeze is going to hurt like hell.  That second sneeze is coming.  And you try to stifle it, which doesn't work, so you produce a lame sneeze, which still hurts like hell when you inhale and when you exhale, plus, because you tried to stifle the sneeze, you wind up with a stuffed, itchy nose.  Driving hurts too -- turning the wheel is painful, turning to look before changing lanes is painful, reaching for the door to shut it is painful -- anything but freeway driving on straight roads.  I chose sitting in traffic on straight Highway 24 over getting off the freeway and driving up traffic-free but winding Wildcat or Pinehurst that would have required turning the wheel.

Saturday was a bad day.  I think sitting at my desk and turning and reaching very little was good for the injury.  Weekends are not like that.  They're full of activity, so lots of painful moments.  Sunday was much better, with pains not so sharp and less frequent, so I'm optimistic about full recovery by the end of the week.  Still gonna ride all week.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ribs, my ribs!

Yesterday, I rode to West Oakland BART and took the train to the City.  That was grand.  On the way back, riding through traffic to transbay bus terminal, I saw a guy on a bike juking and dodging and diving around cars.  That was impressive and aggressive, I thought.  Suddenly, I found him ahead of me at the curb cutout to the bus station.  Any self-respecting cycling bus rider just rides onto the sidewalk, then up the ramp into the bus terminal; certainly, that's what I was about to do.  Not him.  He stopped right in front of me.  I tried going around him, but going around him involved jumping a curb at nearly zero miles an hour, which didn't end well, as one might have expected.  I fell heavily onto my left arm, and the arm left a nice dent in my rib cage.

This morning ribs felt pretty good if I didn't turn suddenly to the left, reach with my left arm, spit, blow my nose, or breathe heavily.  That was good enough to get out for a morning ride with my 5:00 a.m. group.  I figured Brian rode with broken ribs and guys are racing the Tour right now, injured worse than I.  So, I rode.  After a while I got to the point of pain equilibrium -- the pain was tolerable and almost negligible if I didn't try to blow my nose, spit, or breathe heavily.  Climbing standing up was quite painful, so I didn't stand up.  My nethers didn't like that, so I had to stand up once in a while for relief.  But, all things considered, it was a good 41 miles.  So good that I reprised yesterday's commute.  Hopefully, the ride to the bus will be less eventful, and I'll make sure not to get close to any bicycle outside the terminal.

P.S. The right knee that bugged me since before AA8 is much better today.  I raised my saddle about 3mm last night and after today's ride the knee feels as good as new.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Double Musings

It occurred to me that it would be a fun writing (not riding) exercise to ride all the California Triple Crown double centuries in a year and to blog about it.  Obstacles lie both in riding and writing.  First problem is scheduling: This year, six weekends between April 10 to May 15 had seven doubles, with two rides on May 1.  Then, there are five rides between May 29 and June 26, all on consecutive weekends.  The schedule relents thereafter, with a six week break until August 7.  There are six rides between August 7 and October 30.  So, in my opinion, undertaking this task will leave one with sore legs, sore tuchis, high hotel and gas bills, unhappy family, and neglected work.  And who has the time to write so many reports in a timely manner?  A very fit and family-free retired person may wish to undertake this, but not I.

On the other hand, there are 10, by my count, Northern and Central California doubles, spread throughout the year with the toughest stretch of Eastern Sierra, Alta Alpina 8 and Terrible Two on consecutive weekends in June.  Family issues aside, that may be doable.  Though not by me.  Not now anyway.


Mamma Mia! Update

My mom has finished reading the AA8 post; however, she prefers I rode centuries rather than doubles.