Wednesday, March 31

Spring

After getting riled up about Mandy's idea for a bike adventure and the warm weather the last few days I've actually gotten the bug to ride again.

I'm not itching to ride to Avon just yet, but I want to do a longer ride every once in awhile. After all, my big cycling goal for 2010 is riding from our house to the summit of Mt Evans and back. And of course riding at least four days a week to work. Hopefully now that the weather is better and the days are longer I can cultivate the good habit of just riding everywhere.

I keep thinking about riding all over the country in a couple of summers and that is exciting to me. I think we can do it and I think it will be an amazing experience.

Of course doing that will not diminish my desire to ride coast to coast at some point in the future beyond, but it will most definitely give me a good primer and the background to pull that one off.

I should be getting new tires for my road bike any day. I think I'll try to do a long ride this week. At least 30 miles...

Monday, March 29

Scheming...

A sedentary afternoon yesterday spawned an idea. My wife shared an epiphany she had with me as she reclined on the couch and I sat in the recliner reclining. Her idea…the summer when Lily is 5 (and Boone will be 9) we should time our lease to be up at an optimal point, have banked vacation, put everything in storage and strike out on a grand family bike adventure.

Wow! I love her!

Anyway, so the gears in my head have been turning. Two years might just be enough time to plan and prepare. We'll need to be comfortable camping as a family, cooking on the road, sticking together, trusting ourselves and achieving a big goal together.

I think we can do it. It will be the ultimate test of simplicity, boldness and ingenuity. It will be an adventure that my kids will never forget. They won't be too old to outright object…they may even be wholeheartedly for it.

We need to refine our system, plan on changes in our gear and bikes and gain the preliminary experience to be able to pull it off without a hitch…well, with as few hitches as possible.

My initial scheme would be a big loop, Denver to Pueblo to pick up Highway 50 which could possibly take us all the way to Cincinnati. We could detour before Cinci to go right into good ole Powell County for a short visit, then the next leg would take us north up through Western Ohio where we'd pick up the Lincoln Highway which we could follow all the way back to Denver.

By jove! It just might work!

More to come…

LATER

The route I mapped: Golden, CO to Pueblo, then Hwy 50 almost all the way to L'ville, KY. Then to Lexington, minus the side trip to Powell County, then up to the Lincoln Highway via the Great Miami Rec Trail and then the Dixie Highway through Cinci, Dayton and Lima, OH. Then the Lincoln Highway West to Denver and then back to Golden...

2,800 miles.

So it might take more than 30 days for my initial scheme. Or maybe I alter the route...but the route I chose would be significant, riding three historic roads that predate the US Interstate Highway system.

Friday, March 26

Past Few Months

So here is my workout/riding history for the past three months:







February was deplorable. But this month I've actually been consistent for the most part. The two blank weekdates on the March calendar represent big snowstorms. Oddly, I have not lost a single pound.

April is going to be different. I'm on a roll working out, commuting by bike and staying busy. I just need to kick in a healthier diet and try to be MORE consistent with my commuting.

Tuesday, March 23

CST Compressor Tire Review

The week before the Triple Bypass I let the guy at Pedal Power talk me into buying a pair of CST Compressors. I had had Michelin Krylion carbon tires on the bike before that and they had held up under a year of abuse riding on roads between Denver and Golden.

I've put about 600 miles on the CSTs including the 120 miles of the Triple Bypass. I really haven't ridden that much since then, actually most of those 500+ miles since the triple have come in the last few months.

The tires still look good, well, except for the gash I got in my front sidewall last week. And I haven't examined my rear tire yet. It went flat this morning a half mile from work. It might not be the tire, but I'm kinda suspicious of having both tires got flat within a week of each other with no other problems the six months prior...

I think I'll go back to the Michelin's. They held up to some serious abuse as I commuted in nasty conditions, explored the roads and bike paths around Denver and trained for the Triple Bypass. It's with the extra few dollars for the better tires for sure.

Monday, March 22

More Dream Rides

I'd also (in my perfect world) ride what remains of the Lincoln Highway and Highway 50, both coast to coast.

I always liked the idea of saying, "I'm gonna get in my car and drive to ______ today." The blank being "the ocean", "Canada", "the Mountains" or "the state line".

Same with riding, I wish I had the freedom to say: "I'm going to ride my bike to Kentucky and back this summer." Of course Mandy had actually mentioned doing just that, so maybe when the kids are a little older that will be a summer or fall adventure for our whole family.

I read about a family that rode cross country in Canada. It was a cool story and it was something that theoretically we should be able to do.

Friday, March 19

Ah, to Dream!

If money were no factor in my decision (of course it is) then I would get rid of my Cannonball and my Giant and buy a Rivendell Atlantis set up for touring. I'd say somewhere in the neighborhood of $4,000 would put one in my driveway...

If cost and simplicity were no factor I would also love the Woodrup Giro Touring bike. I haven't even been able to find a price on it and I imagine its not cheap. The frame alone appears to be about $650.

Alas, to dream...

Some great touring images can be found at The Fully Loaded Touring Bike.

And while we're dreaming...how about my dream rides?

I want to ride coast to coast, Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon (and out to Astoria on the coast). I'd love ride cross country in Canada, Nova Scotia to Vancouver. I'd also love to ride the Pacific Coast.

Europe would be fun on a bike especially Italy (Tuscany and the Alps). I can actually think of quite a few places I'd like to ride around.

I want to ride the entire Blue Ridge Parkway some day. And I want to do the Tours of Colorado and Wyoming.

Thursday, March 18

Improv

Day before yesterday on my ride home I had a flat. I pulled off the side of Alameda, yanked the tire and tube off the rim and went on the hunt for the offending goathead or whatever had caused the damage.

Nothing.

So I put the new tube and the tire back on the rim, though poorly. I took it easy the rest of the way home and after putting the bike out on the deck I continued to put off going back and fixing the tube/tire.

At 9pm that night I lamented the sore trials of having to redo everything and my lovely wife offered these kind words of encouragement:

"I'll drive you tomorrow."

So yesterday I got the royal treatment and front door service both in the morning and in the afternoon.

Then last night I decided I'd ride today for sure and then suddenly remembered that my front wheel needed some attention. But the bike also needed to be cleaned off from the past couple of weeks of road grime. So I rode over to the car wash and hosed off the frame and rims and then rode back to the apartment.

I put the dripping bike back on the deck, pulled the wheel off and as I was walking back in to the apartment I saw something odd.

"Ahhh! I need a new tire!"



I had noticed the small gash in the sidewall when I changed the tube on the side of the road, but there was no corresponding gash in the tube, so I assumed that something else had caused the flat. And maybe it did, but the tube poking out was definitely a sign of needing new tires.

I was going to be riding in the morning. Then Mandy interjected: "Guess you'll be riding your mountain bike huh?"

Ugh! The Cannonball! So heavy! So slow!

"Or will one of my tires fit?"

Eureka! She's genius!

"Yeah!" I answered. I ran back to the bedroom to get the wheel to take off the tire but then I had my own stroke of genius. I pulled her wheel off went back out on the deck and dropped my fork onto her wheel. Voila!

I checked the brakes because her rim looks wider than mine, but it was a perfect fit.

And so I rode this morning:



So I've got to get a new tire for my bike. I bought the set I have now right before the Triple Bypass in July. And while I probably rode quite a few more miles on the set I had before my current, they were a little more expensive. I've definitely gotten at least 600 miles out of them before the sidewall gash. And other than the gash the front tire still looks good.

Wednesday, March 17

For Fun

I don't need a jersey to ride a bike. I don't need padded shorts, clipless pedals or a fancy-schmancy helmet. I truly don't need gloves, ray-bans or even (gasp) polypro.

I was the kid that rode up and down my uber-rural cul-de-sac, back and forth, back and forth, patrolling the neighborhood against the communist threat of the Cold War on my Mongoose BMX bike. I wore Chuck Taylors, ripped up jeans and an army surplus shirt or concert tee. I watched the sky for MiG 29s or alien invaders, whichever came first.

Those days have long gone, but I still ride a bike. After I bought my first "real" road bike, a Giant OCR2, I fell into the peer pressure of the bike shop crowd. I bought bike shoes for my clipless pedals for about the same price as I could have paid for standard pedals. I bought the colorful jersey that struck my fancy. I bought padded bike shorts which I had always scoffed at on other people. I bought padded gloves, an underseat utility bag, matching water bottles, ultra light bottle cages and a myriad of similar cycling accessories. Multitool...you could say I was one.

As that vigilant teenager, cruising the fallow fields of rural Southwestern Ohio in search of both the Red and Green threats I never felt pain in my rear, even after hours of sitting on that hard plastic bike seat (not saddle, never saddle). I had no ulnar nerve pain and my feet rarely left the pedals despite not being clipped to them.Helmet? Those were for fighter pilots. Gloves? My hand weren't cold in the bright sunlight of the Midwest. Shades? Never...

If my bike were to have broken down, or if I had been afflicted by a flat tire I would have walked stoically alongside the bike for however many miles it would have taken to return to my father's garage where the bike would have rested for months until he decided to fix it.

So with my boom box lashed to my handlebars I cruised for hours. If I needed a break, to give my eyes and my attention span reprieve I would cruise on up the road past the house of a certain young lady I shared a few classes with. Back and forth, back and forth...glutes of steel, ulnar nerves like twisted cables. Of course my vigilance against commies and aliens was even more devout in regards to my crush's safety. They never had a chance of harming or abducting her. I would have stopped them. Or ridden for help.

As an adult my vigilance lapsed. Years have passed, but now I am back on the bike, riding to and fro about the land. I feel encumbered now by the accessories I just had to have. I want to throw off the tight stretchy clothing, I want to be free from the anxious feeling that comes when I can't find my padded gloves or both of my cycling shoes...when my padded shorts have began to reek of a week's riding. I want to go back to the simplicity of riding like a kid rides a bike.

Convention be damned. Who cares what I look like on the bike? Not I, said the mouse. I am a community of one, a guardian against the Red and Green. I will pedal on no matter what kind of clothing I am wearing.

You can keep your jerseys. You can keep your clipless pedals and padded shorts. My feet, my glutes, my ulnar nerves are STRONG! I'll sweat into cotton. If God had meant for us to wear polypro it would grow on plants.

Tuesday, March 16

March Madness

So far in March I've ridden 3 days a week to work. I need to step it up. I'm gonna do my best to ride all four days this week. Thursday I'll have to leave early, but I know I can do it.

I was thinking this morning, if I am truly a proponent of human powered transportation I should forego elevators too. I can use the stairs (like a surprising number of my co-workers here on the third floor) and not let the box wench me up the short distance to work.

I have also been wondering of late if I could sell both of my bikes and buy a decent touring bike with the money. I doubt it, touring bikes are expensive! It would make more sense as a second vehicle than either my aging MTB or my squirrelly road bike.

Unless I could find a good used one...

Monday, March 15

Friday, March 12

Yes, I Want a Cookie!

Getting to work on my bike today was an accomplishment. For 7.6 miles I rode into a wicked headwind. Its funny, my ride used to be a straight line along the compass, back when I rode from Denver to Golden, but now its a sort of winding West to North and a few degrees toward NE and NW. But I had a headwind the entire ride.

I guess the prevailing winds must have been from the north. As I rode around the south slopes of Green Mountain I was probably in a huge eddy of air behind the massive dirt pile. Then I turned north headed toward the mouth of Mount Vernon Canyon. I expected the wind to bend in a Z from Mt Vernon down Thunder Valley (for lack of a better name) and out around Green Mountain to continue on toward the plains.

What I didn't expect was the continued assault by the wind after I passed the mouth of Mount Vernon Canyon at the I-70 overpass. Looking down on Golden at that point I realized that the winds were coming from Boulder. Evil Boulder winds!

At one point on the last leg of the ride, as I struggled to maintain 25 mph down Rooney Rd where I can usually hit 30-35 mph I was leaning a few degrees off vertical into a sidewind coming at me from the NW. It buffeted me and the bike twisted in my grasp. I was pretty sure it was going to throw me, but I managed to hold on until the worst of the gust had passed.

I made it, having gone much slower than usual and having fought the Devil Wind the entire way. But I prevailed! I won through so I could work inside on a beautiful Friday, if a windy one. I'd rather be climbing.

Wednesday, March 10

Double Whammy!

Being both a geographer and a cyclist THIS article made me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Of course I already use MapMyRide and I have mapped hikes, climbs and bike rides in Google Earth for years.

But its cool to see that a big site like GM is catering to cyclists.

I'm also working on a Winter Commuting Guide. I need to do a little more research. The hole in my experience is how road treatments affect bike parts and what is the best way to clean and maintain a bike in these conditions. I know a bit, but I want a little more definitive information.

Tuesday, March 9

The Cusp of Spring

I've been more consistent. I've been riding. I've been working out. I will be eating better. Soon the daylight will change and though it will be dark on my ride into to work for awhile the bright afternoons will stretch toward bright evenings.

This morning was the same temperature as yesterday morning, but the air had that bite of dampness that gets under your clothes. It has seemed a rare affliction here in the arid West, but a commonplace occurrence in the sultry Southeast. It rained last night, though it had also rained the night before. But for some reason it seemed colder today.

Friday, March 5

First Week of March

I rode three days, not the four I had planned.

Monday the roads were nasty so I opted not to ride and Mandy took me to work. She picked me up in the afternoon and we all went to the Rec Center, so it was only the morning trip wasted.


Tuesday I learned to luge with my bike and Wednesday I rode again anyway. Yesterday was really nice and today is supposed to be nice too, but when the alarm went off this morning I was tired. My bones felt weary. If it had been a shorter ride it wouldn't have been a problem, but the rolling south slopes of Green Mountain are not fun to traverse when you're lagging...

So next week I make up for it...I ride every day. We'll see...

Wednesday, March 3

The Day After

I rode again. And I took the same route as yesterday. Of course I walked through the Ice Cave this morning.

I did take my camera and got a few pics. The ice has partially melted since yesterday and if I had repeated yesterday's stupidity today it would have hurt a lot more. I've included some pics below.













Tuesday, March 2

The Luge Incident

Most often when I make a mistake, a mis-judgment, I have time to reflect afterward and ponder the causes, effects and consequences of my choices. This morning I got the rare opportunity to reflect during my mistake.

Last night as we drove home from the rec center I decided I'd ride to work today. The roads are in good shape, dry, free of snowy rubble and I was determined (and still am) to go back to riding four or five days a week.

I got everything ready last night and just before the crack of dawn this morning I set out from home toward Golden. Now, sitting in my cubicle I have a bruised elbow and some scuffed clothing to show for it.

The ride went smoothly, if a little slow, all the way to the C470 bike path. Usually by then I feel pretty good. I'm warmed up and the heavy traffic is behind me (or rather along side of me on the highway).

My thoughts had wandered to some random thought flittering around in my head. I was chasing tangents in my mind again.

I stood up on the pedals on the rolling hills of the bike path. Standing to climb hills is rare for me. I'm a sitter. As I crested the high point and started to drift over and into the curve that would take me down into the tunnel under C470 I saw shiny stuff on the bike path in the tunnel. So much for staying dry I thought.

A split second before my front wheel touched I realized I wasn't going to get wet at all. Once I could see the entire length of the tunnel it hit me full in the face...actually, in the backside. From one end to the other, side to side the tunnel was a sheet of ice. According to the measuring tool in Google Earth the tunnel is about 260' long.

I was probably going 12-15 miles and hour. That's a conservative estimate.

For a good, solid, eternal two seconds I was upright and in control. And then I decided to pump my brakes to bleed off some speed. And that's about all I managed to do.

After the third pump my rear wheel got out from under me and I went down. I probably should have laid off the front brake, or the brakes altogether, but I was worried about the sharp curve at the end of the tunnel, which I found myself hurtling toward at 12-15 miles an hour. That's a conservative estimate.

While careening toward dry pavement I had time to switch sides (my right elbow was getting sore) and I could look around, see the bike sliding behind me, lights flashing still, even in disaster.

I had pretty good momentum right up to the second when the back of my helmet made contact with the wall at 12-15 miles an hour (conservative estimate). A couple of head bumps (with enough time to acknowledge that wearing a helmet IS a good thing) and the effects of my brake pumping are finally realized. Too little, too late...

Or was it too much?

I'm pretty sure if I had tried to ride it out without touching my brakes I might have ended up in the prairie grass in a heap. At least I slowed a little bit.

I slowly picked myself up and did a quick once over to make sure I was ok. I picked up the bike and wrestled it back into shape to finish my commute. I was ok, a bit shaken, a bit dazed. The terminus of my luge attempt put me about 15' from the end of the tunnel. A conservative estimate would have seen my skidding at least 100'. It seemed like it anyway...

Rolling into work with 47:00 on my computer didn't even make me feel bad. That included my luge run.

My right elbow is a bit sore. My clothes are a bit roughed up. The bike is ok, but leans against my cube behind me and I am fairly certain it is glaring, glaring at the point between my shoulder blades.

Ironically I'm not trying to decide if I'll take that route tomorrow, but whether I'll take my camera and leave early so I can document the conditions...


Aerial of the tunnel. The red arrow shows my direction of travel.