Tuesday, July 28, 2009

17-"...I Wouldn't Want to Sit Next to You!"

Success!! Day 17

Weather: 75 deg F. humid, warm, headwind
Time I left my house: 8.07 am.
Time I arrived at work: 8:41 am
Distance: 8.14 miles
Avg. Speed: 14.4
Max Speed: 23.1
Time: 33.54 min.

Pre-game: Had a better day of getting ready, still sort of tired but OK. I looked at the weather and of course, hazy, hot and humid. Already it’s over 70 degrees but the humidity is what gets you. I left again, with my son and wife at the door, waving to me. I really don’t ever want to go to work whenever I see that. I don’t know how people leave, bike or not.

Ride was OK, considering the temps. I hit a lot of greens along the way which explains the shorter trip time. My legs are still sore and I haven’t the strength to go all out on the hills, which makes me think the singlespeed was a bad choice. Maybe good for urban commuting, but out here in the ‘burbs, with hills, I dunno.

Some a__hole commented when I came in (I caught him at a couple lights before the office, and then I saw him in the parking lot, coming in at the same time even with his corvette beating me at the light). “You’re a brave man for riding in today. It's murder out here. I wouldn’t want to sit next to you!” I smiled, took the high road, because I couldn’t be bothered. I guess it’s the way it goes. Looking back, it sort of bothered me for not having a witty retort, I guess I was in the zone from riding or just not on it. I should have said,”Well,you won’t have to, since I’m sitting upstairs in the office and you’re sitting in the basement by the mailroom. BTW, I'm going to be relaxing at home while you're at your second job as security for one of the worst hospitals in Long Island. Take care brotha!” But that would be small and petty.

UPDATE: The ride home.

Weather: 85 deg F. hot, humid, headwind
Distance: 8.40 miles
Avg. Speed: 14.8
Max Speed: 24.4
Time: 34.07 min.

It was an OK ride- even if it was so hot and humid. It’s been bad trying to avoid glass shards on the road, sometimes difficult when you’re going at a steady pace. I found a little piece sticking out of my front tire – took it out so hopefully there were no other pieces in there. I’ll have to inspect the wheels after every ride it’s been that bad. No flats yet (knock wood) but will have to take preventative measures, maybe some ‘tuffy’ in the tires.

Monday, July 27, 2009

16-Tired And Hot is No Way to Start a Monday

Success!! Day 16

Weather: 73 deg F. humid, warm, headwind
Time I left my house: LATE! 8.15 am.
Time I arrived at work: 8:49 am
Distance: 8.16 miles
Avg. Speed: 14.2
Max Speed: 21.0
Time: 34.27 min.

Pre-game: Of course I had a few things to do before leaving, did I wake up early to do so? Nope. Did I go to sleep late again last night because my wife and I were on the internet looking for places to go on vacation (next year mind you, for our 10 year anniversary…) Yes. Was I exhausted this morning and which explains the time and avg. speed? Yes and Yep. I got to get it together. Maybe because I’m out next week I’m slacking.

Ride was OK, my body was aching – which puts me in a quandary with my Bianchi- I’m at no age to be pedaling a singlespeed up a hill I realized. So I’ve decided to try to sell St. Joe and recoup the money to buy a proper bike for the rain/foul-weather. I’m looking at touring bikes (longer chainstay, steel and wide tires to carry a load as well as MTB gearing for my weak legs). I have to find a place to ship the bike today, which I hope they can do at a reasonable price.

Kind of bummed that the Tour is over, but congrats to Lance for making the podium! I can't wait to see the lineup for Team Radio Shack for 2010.

BTW, I hit over 200 miles today for the Sequoia. 264 miles total. Three months and 264 miles of commuting on bike. Unreal.

UPDATE: The ride home.

Weather: 85 deg F. hot, humid and a bit of wind
Distance: 8.41 miles
Avg. Speed: 14.6
Max Speed: 23.8
Time: 34.23 min.

It’s days like these when you wonder why you commute. You push yourself through traffic, through humid, hot air, up a couple of big hills, and you think you’re making some ground. But then you get home, and you realize you’ve done your workout for the day and you haven’t filled up your gas tank in how long and your legs ache (the ‘good’ ache) and you smile.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

15- Sunny and Back on the Specialized Sequioa

Success!! Day 15

Weather: 68 deg F. warm, headwind
Time I left my house: LATE! 8.14 am.
Time I arrived at work: 8:47 am
Distance: 8.15 miles
Avg. Speed: 14.6
Max Speed: 21.8
Time: 33.22 min.

Pre-game: Had a few things to take care of before I left, w/r/t the kids, my laundry from yesterday (dang you rain!), and inflating my tires on the Sequoia, which explains the late departure. It was so crazy yesterday coming in from the rain and having to pick up my wife’s car in Bayside (don’t ask) and then driving home and taking care of the kids.

Great ride- except for the fact of leaving late, it was OK.

UPDATE: The ride home.

Weather: 80 deg F. hot, humid and a bit of wind
Distance: 8.38 miles
Avg. Speed: 15.0 (whoa!)
Max Speed: 24.0
Time: 33.32 min.

I left late from work due to an unscheduled/informal/after-hours meeting on our website, so I was hammering it to get home. I broke 15 mph avg.!! Crazy. I’m still trying to get home sub-30 minutes. That would be nice. Although, if I do leave late again, reminder to self: CALL THE WIFE. She got into a little fender-bender today and was worried that I got home after 6pm. She didn’t know I left late—speaking of cars and fender benders- damn near dropping a grand for scratch!! I hate autos- pieces of metal that depreciate and have no value. Of course, I’m going to drive tomorrow.

PS- Congrats to the Schleck Bros. today- W for Specialized! (and WTF Contador???!)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 14- Bring on the Rain! (Another Day with St. Joe)

Success!! Day 14

Weather: 64 deg F. humid, drizzle to light rain
Time I left my house: late-ish 8.09 am.
Time I arrived at work: 8:42 am
Distance: 8.19 miles
Avg. Speed: 14.6
Max Speed: 21.2
Time: 33.47 min.

Pre-game: After flip-flopping my decision (my wife offer to give me a ride) I decided to go out. It wasn’t thunderstorming, which I think will be the deal-breaker for future go-outs, so I just got an extra set of riding clothes in case I got drenched. What kind of bike-commuter would I be if I didn’t go out in the drizzle? Besides, I spent all that money on equipment for this kind of weather.

Good ride-luckily it only started raining once I got within 2 miles of my office. I’m amazed that I increased my average speed on the St. Joe. I wonder if it’s because I wanted to beat the rain??

Like boys scouts’ motto “Be Prepared” everything I bought (equipment-wise) held true: the Planet Bike Cascadia Fenders kept me dry; my Banjo Bros. Panniers kept my work clothes dry; my Performance Bike yellow neon rain jacket did its job as well. My only pet-peeve about the jacket was its lack of breathability, but I guess you lose that if you want to keep from getting wet from the rain. I wonder what it will be like once the temps drop and the wind gets involved?

UPDATE: The ride home

Weather: 69 deg F. raining steadily
Distance: 8.44 miles
Avg. Speed: 13.6
Max Speed: 21.7
Time: 37.26 min.

The rain was coming down- I have to say it's my first trip with this much rain- luckily it wasn't that cold.

Equipment thoughts:

Waterproof vs. Water-resistant Panniers: My Banjo Bros. Panniers had either a leak- which I sort of expected as they are not waterproof-so I'm maybe going to get waterproof panniers for such a ride. I know I should've gotten them to begin with, but then I thought I would never ride in so much rain. Luckily, it was worse riding back than going to work- imagine taking our my wet, work clothes!

Clear Lenses: I saw those the other day when the stage was set in the mountains and it was raining- good idea to have since I was squinting or looking down the whole ride when it was coming down.

Waterproof Helmet cap- for obvious reasons

Shoe covers-My shimano MT shoes were pretty dry considering (compared to my running shoes, that absorb rain like a sponge, and you hear the squish/squish when you're running). But probably something to consider for future rides.

I really hate to say it, but I admit I was missing a geared bike for obvious reasons in that rain- I don't know if I made the right choice (I know, I know!) to go with a singlespeed as my foul-weather bike. I know it's easier to maintain, but after Monday's horrible ride and today's rain, I may have to rethink this as a rain bike and look for some gears. We'll see.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Day 13-Why You Always Pay in Dividends After a Day of BBQ and Drinking

Success!! Day 13

Weather: 69 deg F. humid, warm,
Time I left my house: late-ish 8.10 am.
Time I arrived at work: 8:45 am
Distance: 8.19 miles
Avg. Speed: 13.9
Max Speed: 23.7
Time: 35.10 min.

Pre-game: Had a little BBQ yesterday-coupled with the cleaning, de-cluttering, hosting, BBQ’ing and drinking, I’m worn out to ride. But I got out earlier than I was expecting which was good.

Good ride-no headwind but I was just tired. It was still a nice ride in…I don’t consider it one of my best times, but I’m amazed I got in like I did. I assume I'll be dragging my tuches around all day- what's worse, I have to walk to the bank to deposit a check in this nice humid, 80 degree day. Yess!

UPDATE: The ride home.

Weather: 79 deg F. warm
Distance: 8.39 miles
Avg. Speed: 14.1
Max Speed: 24.3
Time: 35.45 min.

Nice ride back-still don't hurtin' and don't have the legs to do the Service Road hills at the end, but I have to say I tried to get back in a good time. Never ever ever again...(well, yes, we know!)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day 12 - Thought it would rain...took St. Joe out and all I got was hot, humid and headwind

Success!! Day 12

Weather: 69 deg F. humid, warm, headwind!
Time I left my house: LATE 8.12 am.
Time I arrived at work: 8:50 am
Distance: 8.16 miles
Avg. Speed: 13.4
Max Speed: 19.4
Time: 36.31 min.

Pre-game: I got out a little earlier than yesterday, but not much. Since it’s going to rain today, I took out St. Joe, but with that, I had a hard time setting my Banjo Brothers panniers on the rack. The challenge is fastening the straps on the sides to the bottom. I wasted a few minutes of that- coupled with a 4 year old wanting to play bubbles-I hate to say no to him.

Not a bad ride- a lot of headwind, and since I’ve got the singlespeed today, it was painful trying to keep up my avg. speed (which apparently went lower as well as the Max and Trip time.

UPDATE: The ride home.

Weather: 79 deg F. muggy, headwind and hot
Distance: 8.42 miles
Avg. Speed: 13.7
Max Speed: 21.2
Time: 36.59 min.

It was an OK ride- so dang hot and humid and on a singlespeed … painful. I’m going to need to re-think this singlespeed thing since on that final hill is inevitable, but I don’t want to spend any more money on bike stuff. At one point in the ride, a car off the shoulder was pulling away and I yelled” Hey!” luckily her window was open.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day 11 Commute

Success!! Day 11

Weather: 65 deg F. cool, clear not much humidity and sunny
Time I left my house: really, really LATE 8.17 am.
Time I arrived at work: 8:50 am
Distance: 8.13 miles
Avg. Speed: 14.5
Max Speed: 21.2
Time: 33.36 min.

Pre-game: I really need to get ready earlier- it’s hard when the kids are up and you need to take care of them before you push off. And I forgot the bowls that I was supposed to bring to work- but everything else was packed, so not a big loss. I just had to go across the street to Target and buy some bowls in the morning for my boss’ birthday party. But this much is true, I have to get ready earlier. I sat at my desk and the computer read 9:08 am which is technically LATE, but it's pretty casual work environment here- although I don't want to make it a habit.

Nice ride in – except since I left later, the traffic at the lights piled up, so it was more waiting. I’m not sure how I improved my trip time, which I think today is an all time high, but my legs are still hot from last week’s riding and yesterday’s workout of squats and calve raises (yes, I’m trying to get back to the gym, which is proving to be beneficial).

I have yet another cycling purchase being delivered today- the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine- which I will have a review forthcoming (along with others). I got a demo off eBay at a good price with its lifetime, unconditional warranty (that’s right, you read correctly). Bought it because, yes, I need more miles for me to do a century coming up (if I do decide to do one...) and my wife would like something to do cardio on. I will see how it goes.

UPDATE: The ride home.

Weather: 75 deg F. sunny and pleasant
Distance: 8.37 miles
Avg. Speed: 14.5
Max Speed: 24.7
Time: 34.39 min.

It was a nice ride home nothing to really report, except that last climb was a killer today, maybe because my legs need to rest from the previous day’s workout, but I made pretty good time. Which was important, since I needed to drop off my wife’s car to get inspected (get the bike on the car rack- then back on the bike)- so my riding wasn’t over just yet.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Day 10 Commute

Success!! Day 10

Weather: 60 deg F. cool, clear not much humidity and sunny
Time I left my house: really late again! 8.11 am.
Time I arrived at work: 8:45 am
Distance: 8.15 miles
Avg. Speed: 14.3
Max Speed: 24.0
Time: 34.06 min.

Pre-game: I love summer when it’s a good, cool, sunny morning and you know you’re going to have a great ride. No incidents with the kids, and my 4 year old kept asking when he could ride with me…stuff like that breaks my heart and I tell him I can’t wait until he’s older to ride with me, but for now we can ride around the block when I get back. Sometimes you wonder why you’re a parent and it’s these little moments that resets your whole perspective. Anyway, I had checked my tires, pumped some air and lubed the chain last night so I would have no worries.

Nice ride in – less traffic since it’s Friday and I have to admit, my legs are feeling it since it’s my 3rd day this week on the bike. I love it. Watching the Tour last night always gives me some motivation like a kid, and yes my wife thinks I’m nuts too.

I realize now that I’m riding in more frequently this summer that I need more cycling clothes. I still don the old running/coolmax/drifit shirts and cargo shorts, but I have to admit, wearing the bike shorts my wife got me for Father’s Day underneath have definitely made a difference in comfort. I can’t imagine NOT riding in on these for more than 10 miles at a clip. Imagine doing a century in regular knickers and underwear. I’m starting to understand all the funny accoutrements that comes along with this sport- possibly even delving into that Butt’r stuff.

UPDATE: The ride home.

Weather: 75 deg F. sunny and pleasant
Distance: 8.42 miles
Avg. Speed: 14.2
Max Speed: 23.9
Time: 35.35 min.

It was a nice ride home, good to have off on Monday as I need to recuperate from this week. There was a point where on my last climb on the North Service Rd. close to my house, I was of the saddle and Jeep honked and scared the bejeesus out of me. I was angry at first and then I thought of the TDF of people cheering and all the noise, so maybe give the driver the benefit of the doubt and maybe they were cheering me on… I’m cynical by nature (and by way of being close to 40) so I thought it was some idiot driver telling me to beware even though I was well within the shoulder.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day 9 on the Specialized Sequioa

Success!! Day 9

Weather: 63 deg F. cool, clear not much humidity and sunny
Time I left my house: really late again! 8.11 am.
Time I arrived at work: 8:45 am
Distance: 8.15 miles
Avg. Speed: 14.1
Max Speed: 23.1
Time: 34.37 min.

Pre-game: My wife commandeered the bathroom since she was taking my 4 year old to camp early, so I got to shower later than usual. Checked the SPD cleats and now a pro at packing. I’ve got to find a way to lighten the pack, since I do bring my lunch and bananas on the pannier with all my tools. So my panniers look a bit lob-sided.

Since it is July, the Tour de France is on and Lance is back- yesterday Astana owned the team time trials and LA almost got the yellow but was short a hundredth of a second! He’s 2nd overall and it’s looking pretty good so far. And of course, gives me some motivation to make it to work in record time. Unfortunately, there are cars, traffic lights and pot holes to deal with…

It was nice and cool today. As I left, my 4 year old waved as I went off and I was a bit sad- that kid is the best despite his constant rebelling, meltdowns and yelling that 4 year olds are prone to get.

There’s a bit more traffic now that everyone’s back to work. I’m still a bit apprehensive on some spots by the LIE service road, but I believe it’s better to be careful and safe than bold and hurt. Either way, I’m just happy I’m keeping my avg. speed up at 14 mph.

I’ve realized there is a big hill on the start of my ride and two smaller hills on the end. I found it funny today.

UPDATE: The ride home.

Weather: 75 deg F. sunny and pleasant but a little headwind
Distance: 8.39 miles
Avg. Speed: 14.0
Max Speed: 24.5
Time: 35.55 min.

It was a nice ride home, not as much traffic as before but some headwind as I headed back east. My legs are feeling it as this is actually my 2nd time on the bike in the same week for a while. I’m pretty excited that my time is becoming faster and avg. speed is consistently going up to 14mph.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Day 8- First 100 Miles on the Specialized Sequioa!

Success!! Day 8! Hit 100 miles today!!

Weather: 68 deg F. beautaceous not much humidity and sunny
Time I left my house: late again! 8.07 am.
Time I arrived at work: 8:42 am
Distance: 8.15 miles
Avg. Speed: 13.9
Max Speed: 23.6
Time: 35.13 min.

Pre-game: Summer is here! Just had to get my 4-year old ready for summer camp today- his first day- and then I had to pack up. There’s got to be a faster way to put on my panniers.

Since it’s summer and holiday weekend, the roads were pretty empty as far as cars go, so I can deal. I put one of my Planet Bike rack bolts onto my cleat to secure it- not perfect but good enough until I find SPD bolts at an LBS. I see them on line for 6 bucks. I could tell you what a pain it was to take my cleat out of my Shimano 520 pedals, but then it would sound like whining.

Regardless, it was another good ride in. My legs are feeling sore, so not the best avg. time, but should get better once I’m back in routine. The Tour on Versus is getting me motivated. Alright, it sounds too cliché, but seeing the peloton and watching these guys fly through France’s countryside’s got to have an effect on you- even if you’re not a professional.

Since the temps are getting higher, apparently I’m starting to sweat a bit once I get in and even after my good baby-wipe sponge bath, I still have a trickle on my forehead. So I splash some cold water which helps a lot. The A/C kicks ass in the building so after 20 minutes, I’m good to go. For those of you with showers at your office, I’m insanely jealous. Here's a nice article from Louis Jones from Kiplinger's about Bike Commuting.

UPDATE: The ride home.

Weather: 79 deg F. sunny and very muggy
Distance: 8.52 miles
Avg. Speed: 14.6
Max Speed: 24
Time: 37.13 min.

It was a nice ride home, however, I got out a little later, and there were a ton of cars in this one intersection near my office, so it was kind of scary to maneuver with all those cars waiting for the light. It cold be easy for a seasoned rider, but I was a little off- saw my boss in her Infiniti at a light and waved to her- sitting inside her nice A/C’d luxury vehicle. I’m happy I’m getting the avg. speed up there- hopefully make it to 16 mph.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Day 7- Back on the Specialized Sequoia and Losing a Cleat!

Success!! Day 7

Weather: 68 deg F. muggy, sunshine
Time I left my house:  Late! 8.07 am.
Time I arrived at work: 8:41 am
Distance: 8.34 miles
Avg. Speed: 14.2
Max Speed: 21.1
Time: 34 min.

Pre-game: Wife and kids are off for the summer (yes!) but still had some distractions. They woke up right when I was getting ready. So I had to entertain them, tell my 4-year old to get out of my 13-month old’s crib. Also, the panniers were set to go on the San Jose and I had trouble adjusting them to fit my Specialized Sequoia rack. After a few minutes of that and good-byes to my son, I was late but I was finally off. 

No traffic due to the holiday (yes, we had to come in today… and no, our company doesn’t give us a floating holiday. So we’re all sitting here bitter as hell.) No traffic explains the faster time in. I saw a lot of club riders along the way- since it was such a nice day for a long ride. Nice to have a day off, yeah??

My first equipment failures- I should’ve been on top of them. My cleats on the right shoe wouldn’t clip in for the life of me the first mile- The Shimano 520 pedal was good on my left foot, but the foot I usually clip in and out of most—my right foot--- was not happening. After mile 3 I was getting concerned, but then it finally clipped. Of course, I hit a huge pothole which through my panniers completely off (apparently, one wasn’t clipped in) and I had to stop. I realized, I couldn’t clip out my right foot. I was circling a parking lot trying to throw my foot off of it. It was quite a scene.  After some force, I did, but then I realized, one of the bolts came out and it was done. It’s sitting there on my right pedal right now—the cleat and its one bolt.

I still kept up a good average time, but man, it totally threw me off. 

Two lessons to learn- always check your cleat bolts pre-game, especially the one you use the most. I was remiss, now I need another bolt. Hopefully, it didn’t strip the shoe attachment.


Give time to adjust your panniers.  One bump can throw it off the rack, especially since you’re hauling 20 lbs of stuff.

It could’ve been a lot worse, I know. So I’ll take it.

UPDATE: The ride home.

Weather: 79 deg F. sunny and very muggy
Distance: 8.52 miles
Avg. Speed: 13.7
Max Speed: 23.4
Time: 37.13 min.

It was a nicer ride home from the lack of traffic. If only it was like this all the time. I did hit a huge pot hole coming down a hill on Ellison (one of the side streets) which knocked my Gatorade out of my drink cage and onto the street. Luckily the wheels and tires were OK and my full bottle of Gatorade was intact (wheels may need some truing, but I’m not sure I can assess that yet or have the eyes for it- fortunately I have free tune-ups for a year at the LBS.) It was a nice (and fast) ride home, albeit on one cleat. My wife was again surprised of the time I made coming home.