Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ride the wind

Yesterday was a windy ride home. Wind Speeds and Gusts:WNW at 22 mph gusting to 33 mph.  I was struggling along at 17 KMPH at some points.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Into Mud

I have not been riding my bike so much this week. My hammies were getting sore and i decided to back off for a few days. I have a history of doing things until I am exhausted so I do not want to burn out on biking. I have had a crazy project load and I was car pooling with a co-worker.

Sometimes it is nice to take a break and rest up the legs so they can be ready for the long riding season.  I have been thinking about riding off road all week so when I got home I finally decided to go for a fun ride.

Tonight after work I decided to test my Jekyll on some of the open spaces near my home.  Albany Georgia was built on swamp land.  It is so flat that developers dug deep holes and the low water table fills them up and they call them lakes.  Most neighborhoods have drainage channels running behind houses and some dump into large "retention ponds" or lakes.

The ground here is so saturated with the recent rains that there are plenty of soft spots and large muddy puddles to ride through on these back maintenance roads. When I was walking regularly every morning early last year I had wanted to walk down these areas, but I feared the mosquitoes, snakes and deer tics (Lime Disease) so I stayed away. On a mountain bike I feel like I can get through high grass quickly especially if I keep my legs covered.

It felt nice to ride a full suspension bike over soft dirt and grass.  I got to get my heart rate up and spin through some muddy areas and I did not get stuck.  Nothing like the adrenalin and peddling real fast through soft mud to get some thrills in a short ride.  When I had to be on a road I rode on the grass and in the bar ditches   There are no sidewalks in my part of town.  Some folks maybe thought i was crazy as I did zig zags up and down the ditches trying to get some air between the earth and my tires.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tonight's ride

Temperature is 52 degrees. ODO is 2379 KM. Sweating in cold air with a headwind makes me really cold.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The long way home

 Tonight I took the long way home (#ttlwh). The Mud Creek Road and the segment on Tallahassee Road have the highest elevation gain of all of the bike commute routes in my arsenal thus far.  Compared to Portland or even Austin it is still basically flat, but I love finding any bump in the road that goes up for more than a few hundred feet.

This evening it was really windy with strong gusts in all directions. There were big steady winds from the west and I rode for a good while directly into the wind. I did not care about it as I was just happy to be out in the sun relaxing on my bike as I rode home with no worries. 

It is hard to capture the beauty that I see during the photographer's period of golden light. I took this video and you can not see the vivid green grass and ground cover that was so bright against the barren trees.  I may start hauling my big Canon 10D to chronicle the changing seasons as I ride through pecan groves and cotton fields.  I do decide to stop on my rides and yank out my phone to take snapshots so I can remember the moment.  If you do not stop and smell the chicken coops or watch the black Angus cattle butting heads in the pasture then you miss the whole point of a bike commute.  For me it is all about the ride, not about how fast you get there.  I always get to where I am going, but I always want my goal to be to get there with a story to tell or a memory about how I got to my destination.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Senior Special

WARNING: do not try this if you have dependents.  Thirty somethings with a life of responsibilities should stop reading right now.

You know you are getting old when you have to use a calculator to figure out how old you are.  Although I am young in my mind I pretend to say that the Senior Specials on the IHOP menu are for old folks.  I am not afraid to admit that that I'm sixty one at the time of this blog post.  As a life long bike commuter I have a memory full of adventures on my bikes.  Tonight was one of those adventures and I decided to write about this one.

I have been getting bored riding the same routes to work and back home.  Granted I am whining about some of the best bike commuting routes that I have had in all of the states that I have lived in.  You know the saying "The grass is always greener in the pasture that you just left", well sometimes at my age the memory of past rides get better the longer it is since I had the ride.  Well today I decided to mix it up and put my Ortlieb bags on my bike.  I knew it would slow me down, but I also knew the extra weight would break the monotony of my morning commute.  I checked the Weather Channel before my morning commute and there were head winds coming in from the east.  Great I thought, I'll have extra weight and I will have a good 6 miles of riding dead into the wind.

Well on my way home it got even better.  This is my version of the Senior Special and I broke my bike commute rule, do not ride when there is thunder storms on the way.  I looked at the map and at 5 PM and the yellow and red storm indicators were not due over Albany until 7 PM.  My bike commute down Leary road is about one hour and thirty minutes.  I knew if i hustled I could make it home before the storm hit.

The wind had picked up since the morning and it was blowing from the south.  I love riding in a warm rain so the winds from the south were a welcome break from the cold winter winds of last week. This was going to be fun as my route home would hit all of the directions of the compass starting with a ride directly into 15 to 20 MPH winds.  I decided to let the Cycle Thunder out of the barn and just open them up and hammered into the wind.  My adrenaline kicked in when it started to rain and I thought that the storm was coming in faster than the Weather channel prediction had led me to believe.  This is when the Senior Special came to bear fruit as I threw caution to the wind and kept riding into the wind as fast as I could.  The joy of making up games is what I love.  So tonight the Senior Special was to ride as fast as I could with my Ortliebs and not get hit by lightning.

The cross winds were so strong that I found myself leaning into the wind.  The Ortliebs kept me hugging the fog line.  When I got to Eight Mile road all of the hard work paid off as I could enjoy a good strong tail wind home.  Even though this part of the ride has a slight climb it was so inspiring to still ride like crazy with the wind and rain at by back.  I have never reached a speed of 39 KM on almost flat road with so much weight on my bike before.  This was my fastest time riding home on this route.

So my lesson learned is that it pays to break up the routing and do things different.  The excitement of riding to beat a storm was the E-ticket for me. This is the Senior Special.

My Ortliebs weigh more than most carbon fiber bikes

One of my favorite commercials is the Buick ad with Shaq.  He says his shoes are bigger than most hybrid automobiles.  This got me thinking of all of these expensive carbon fiber bikes that folks ride so they can get there faster.  Today I dug out my Ortlieb bags, yeah these bags cost me more than most bikes in Walmart 10 years ago.

I needed to take my laptop back to work as I bought it home in my truck on Friday. I decided to ride it to work on my bike.  I have not hauled gear in the Ortliebs in a long time, but it was time for a change in my training so I went for it.  When my ego thinks I am riding too fast I need to weigh my bike down so that I can come back to reality.

I still made a pretty decent time to work even with a slight headwind.  Nothing rides smoother than a carbon steel bike with 20 pounds holding the rear tire on the ground.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spring forward

Well I have 2,049 Kilometers (1273.19 miles) under my belt this year.  I started bike commuting on a regular basis last September.  I am glad that it is finally daylight savings time because I was getting tired of riding in the dark during the week.  I have not been able to ride my bike on the weekends because of home projects and other family activities that do not involve cycling.  I am glad that I rode during the cold dark days of winter.  Now I  can start to ride longer after work and still have some daylight to enjoy.  I really like riding down the country roads around Albany, GA.

My personality is one that I get bored doing the same thing over and over.  When I am doing something that is routine like a bike commute I try to make it interesting by taking different routes or by noticing how the seasons change as i ride the same route.  When it is dark i can not see anything so I get lost in my thoughts.  getting lost in thought is OK for me most of the time, but on my bike I really want to forget my thoughts and just relax and enjoy the ride.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of times when I love getting lost in thought on my bike.  When I am on long rides I need to get lost in thought so I can forget that I am riding my bike and I will not freak out and stop riding because I'm tired.  Sometimes I'll have an amazing break through in solving a problem on my bike.

I am just glad to mark the start of the spring riding season.  as the days get warmer I will forget the cold of winter and look forward to complaining about the mosquitoes and the heat of summer.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Is it ever going to get warm?

Today was another ride in the bitter cold, at least it was for me down here in SW Georgia.  Another dark ride in 32 degrees, but as I say my worst bike commute is better than my best commute in my truck.

Last night was a commute against a cold 15 to 20 MPH head wind.  I took my short route.  When folks ask why I bike commute I site a situation like I had last night.  At five PM I was staring at my computer trying to decide if I was going to call my wife, Sylvia, to come and get me.  I did not feel like riding home in a cold head wind.  In my game of bike commuting if you ride to work you have to ride home, unless there is the threat of death due to lightning strikes.   It is easy to commute by auto and then decide to drive past the gym on the way home.  When you bike commute there is no option to get your exercise. If you want to get to work your ride and if you want to get home you ride.  So at 5:25 I walked to my bike barn on campus and then rode home.

Today I decided that I was tired of being just barley warm enough to ride in the cold so I put on an extra shirt.  I was layering with two smart fabric long sleeve shirts, my short sleeve summer jersey  a light wind breaker and now adding my Burley rain jacket.  The Burley jacket is my ultimate wind breaker.  It has a long zipper underneath each arm so you can vent out the heat from your body.  I like this jacket as it allows me to stay warm and sweat, but the zippers allow me to regulate how mush heat stays in the jacket as I ride.  The ride today was slower than normal, but I was warm.

I made some modifications to my new Harley Davidson goggles.  I miss having my mirror on during my rides.  When I am hugging the fog lane on the roads when semi trucks traveling at 65 MPH I want to know when I need to hang tight on my bars and be ready for the wind draft that could easily blow me off the road.  My comfort level always improves when I can see and hear everything possible while I am riding.  Being bundled up for the cold my ears are covered so my hearing is slightly impaired and I want to have visual confirmation of what is coming up behind me.  The construction is made up of card board and clear packing tape.  not sure if I will keep it but it was a last minute thing that I did while i was eating my bowl of oatmeal.

So despite my whining about riding my bike which is usually what is going on no matter what the weather is once I get on my bike and start riding all the fear uncertainty and doubt go away  and I usually enjoy my ride.

Monday, March 4, 2013

New Goggles

Last Friday I got some goggles. Today I rode to work using them. They worked OK, but I am going to have to get use to riding without my Look mirror or devise a way to get it to work with the goggles.

My first ride impression is that I like them.  I purchased them so that my eyes would not be subjected to the wind driven dust and pollen in the air.  I will have to get use to the small blind spots that are present around the soft foam lining of the goggles that protect where they contact my skin.  I really like the fact that on my ride today I started in utter darkness and ended up in bright sunshine and my goggles transitioned from yellow to shaded so I did not have to change lenses.