31 July 2011

A balmy 75 degrees

Ride #91

Sunday, July 31st
11ish miles around Lake Natoma

You'll see this ride repeated probably once a month. It makes a good ride for beginners and it is pretty, even with the grass turning brown for summer.

We, this was a group ride led by moi (thanks, Miss Piggy), set out at 8am, early enough to beat the heat, and late enough that only one of the signups overslept. We saw circling raptors (hawks, what kind I won't venture to guess) and a few butterflies. I don't normally pay much attention to butterflies, but one of the folks along for the ride does, so I looked for them today. This is why riding with random people can be fun. Never would have occurred to me to scan for butterflies.

There were also lots of folks out using the trail. Some of the groups announce themselves when overtaking, others just fly by in intimidating silence. One lovely pack of four even gave us a count of how many would pass. Thanks, guys!

One other pair made audible comments about there being a center line and traffic should stay on the correct side. C'mon guys! This is a recreational trail. If you are not comfortable (I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt) passing on a blind corner, maybe you could wait? Ok. Now I'm just being sarcastic. Yes, one of our riders was probably wobbling around a bit, but give him a break. In retaliation for the snide-ish-ness (snide-ni-tude?) I busted out one of my patented sarcastic waves (I'm pretty good at nonverbal communication) and got a chuckle from our party.

The Lovely Nimbus Dam

So how does one successfully lead a ride? Here are my thoughts.
Know your riders. Have a vague clue of their abilities and the kind of ride they'd enjoy. This is kind of self-selecting for the rides I lead, which are fairly well described and the riders choose the rides which interest them.
I have had to only once discourage a rider from one section of a two part ride, since I was pretty sure he was not physically fit. He found the second, easier half "just right" so that worked out OK. AND he got to hang out in a coffee place while waiting for the second half to begin.

Mother-hen them just a little bit, but don't get crazy with the rules. I routinely ask folks before we set out if they've locked their cars and if they've got water bottles, since water is a safety issue and worrying about your car sucks all the fun out of a ride.
Helmets are required on our rides, but that's an easy visual check. It is there or it is not.
If there is an epidemic of mal-adjusted helmets, I'll mention briefly how helmets are supposed to fit, and see who wants help fixing theirs. Here's a good resource for that.

Let the group know what's expected of them. Explain the rules of the trail, mention rest stops. Use rest stops to talk about what's coming up, don't try to pile all the information on at the beginning of the ride. Although it can be fun to watch their eyes glaze over.

Check on your riders every once in a while. I like to buzz by up the line of people (I'm usually in the back, sweeping unless there's a tricky-to-follow part coming up) and ask them how they are doing. If someone for instance (as happened today) is stuck in one gear for the whole ride but can handle it, don't worry about it.
If someone is looking like the heat or exertion is getting to be too much, get them to take a break and recover for a while. Make them drink water and eat something (I've had to do this). Sometimes you have to hassle them into taking it a little easy, but it beats calling for the EMTs down the road (which I have not had to do).

Know your route! If you are blazing new trails, make sure the group knows it and are comfortable with it. Many will not be. They want to see the leader as infallible. Where's the fun in that, I ask?!

Be prepared. I carry a first aid kit and I know how to use it. Although I don't have a common tube size, I do carry an assortment of tools with me. I know how to change a tube, remove a broken link, and unjam a chain. I stink at adjusting deraillers.
I have fed people along the trail, loaned out a spare helmet, handed out bandaids, and insisted that a rider borrow a waterbottle.

Have fun. If leading rides becomes a hassle, ask yourself why you are still doing it? If you still want to do it, fix the hassles and carry on.
Fun is contagious, but so is un-fun.

It seems that I'm recovering well from my recent surgery, so I'll be piling on the rides for August. Yay!

28 July 2011

flat, fat, fast, fun

Ride #90
Thursday, July 28th

13 miles on the ARBT

I spent entirely to much time this week moping around the house feeling fat so today I finally pried myself off the big comfy couch and climbed onto my smaller but equally comfy trike. (yes, even I have bad days)

I decided to see what kind of average I could maintain for the six miles from Sunrise to Wm. Pond. I was pleased to see it was just slightly over 13mph. I don't know how long I could maintain that (I suspect less than 15miles, in favorable conditions) but it was sure fun zipping along today.

Once I fixed the flat. Yes, my second flat in over 1000 miles. On the right front (the side that gets all the debris on the side of the trail). I could not detect a leak once I removed the tube (I'll do the water bucket test in a little bit) and I did not feel any sharp things in the tire. So I installed a new tube and went on my merry way.

I also tried messing around with a couple of camera mounts today. One is a handlebar mount and the other is a helmet mount. I need to revert to my old helmet to make the helmet mount work, and I may need a lighter, smaller camera. I think it will wobble around quite a bit.
The handlebar mount was a little too big for the accessory mount on the front of my bike, but some innertube scraps from the last flat helped. However (and I knew this but had to try it anyway) the front of a trike is WAY too bouncy for video.
I am now the proud creator of several minutes of very jittery video. Really unwatchable. I had to shrink it down quite small on the computer to stand to watch it and I think a whole lot of caffeine might have helped. The jitters might cancel each other out. Or not. Where's my coffee!?
But I did get a couple of frames of other recumbents (not very high resolution, but better than nothing). I wonder if I can set that video camera to take frames every few seconds. And if so, what would the resolution be? Have to read the manual, I guess.

This is a fellow who made his own recumbent trike. We had a nice long chat about the geometry of a recumbent trike, the possible benefits of changing to shorter cranks, and the goodness of clips (on the shoes, you know).

He is planning to make a tandem recumbent trike so his wife can ride along with him. Lucky lady!
We also shared war stories about that little short very steep ramp up to the Hazel bridge. He has one bad knee so he made it up by mashing with his good leg, applying the brakes, spinning the cranks around backwards, releasing the brakes and mashing with his good leg. Rinse, repeat, until at the top of the hill.
He definitely needs some bigger gears in back!

And I know I've seen this guy before, and probably ridden with him on the monthly recumbent rides, but I have no idea who he is. But he always sticks out a hand. I try to remember to do so also, but usually forget. But it is a cool kind of laid back thing.
Social graces are not always my strong suit.

I HAVE HAVE HAVE to get that reflector on the left side to quit squeaking. It is going to drive me nuts. I'll just take it off for now, then put it back on for a night ride, then forget to take it off and whine some more when it squeaks. Which is what I did last time, which is why it is still on there and still driving me nuts.

Let's see. What else.
Oh, I saw a deer leap over the trail, and a turkey hen and a half-grown turkey. I clicked at them and they scurried off into the scrub.

I'm contemplating a ride in the Delta this weekend. We'll see. The lure of the couch may be too much.

22 July 2011

Chinese Menu Ride

Ride #89

Friday, July 22nd
Just a shade under 11 miles on bike paths in Folsom

Here's the closest you or I will come to seeing a recumbent on this ride

I saw such a variety of people, bicycles (no recumbents), and so on that I can only illustrate as follows:

Please choose one from each column. Repeat until bored or until the need for coffee becomes overwhelming.

Col. ACol. BCol. C
Hybrid bikeRetireeBike Lane
Road bikeMomBike Path
Cruiser bikeDadTraffic circle
StrollerJersey-cladPedest. push-button crossing
Kid trailerDog walkerWet pavement
Roller bladesBird watcherDry pavement

No I did not see a skateboard-riding jersey-clad farmer sailing over a speedbump while navigating a traffic circle. But I could have.

Some of the intersections used to join up bike-path segments are better than others.

No curb cut. And there is a perfectly good bike lane right on the other side of the drop-off.

Splendid push-button crosswalk.

Behind me is a traffic circle. In front is an intersection with a single stop sign. Away over there, to the right of the pretty iron fence, is the rest of the bike path.
As long as there are no leaf blowers running, it is possible to safely navigate this intersection, just listen for the cars and pedal like mad.

Then there are these old speedbumps in the parking lot on the way to the farmer's market.

If I aim just right I can make it over without bottoming out. I aim right about 1/2 the time.

Where I got fab food and loaded up my bag.

From left to right: Lamb pie from Z-pies, scrumptious strawberries, and tantalizing tomatoes.

The approach to my favorite bridge. Gives you an idea of the beautiful sunny weather this morning.

I've been meaning for a while to get new gel inserts for my shoes, instead of the make-do women's high heel forefoot cushions I've been, um. making do with.

So I picked up these on Amazon and so far, so good. I spent some time muttering on the couch, determining the exact right place for them in my shoe. I seem to have guessed right, since I had very little feeling of undue pressure on the balls of my feet. Normally about 6 miles into any ride I get uncomfortable.

My shifting was a little weird today, so I think I need to take a look at the rear derailluer wheel thingies and see if there is stuff stuck in there again.


Maybe it is time for coffee after all

Heading toward the Bidwell Street overcrossing. This may have been where I exceed 20mph.

This map does not include the side trip to the farmer's market.

16 July 2011

Riding like my head's on fire

Ride #88

Saturday, July 16th
13 miles on the American River Parkway

Although I am still recovering from minor shoulder surgery, I dragged my sweetheart and his college-aged son out on the bike trail today.
First ride since surgery!
They had some fresh air and sunshine, and I had minions to unload my beautiful orange beast. Even with the ramp, it is still more than I should lift right now. AND someone else got to pump up 7 tires, which I usually do.

There were a lot of people out today, all enjoying the clear, warm, but not blazingly hot weather.

Since this is the American RIVER parkway, we got to hear (and catch glimpses) of dozens and dozens of happy people in various bright-colored watercraft floating down the river. We could have even stopped for fresh produce along the way!

High racer recumbents, several trikes (hand and foot powered), folks with cruisers with baskets (one with a dog, a-la Toto in the Wizard of Oz), fast-moving skinny racer types, kids on little bikes, pedestrians, lots of equestrians.
I saw one sulky, but it was not hitched up. I'm not sure a sulky is suited to off-roading on dirt (which is where most of the horses are) and I know of no horse (not even a heavily sedated one) that would be OK traveling on the paved trail surrounded by hordes of bright fast-moving scary predators.

There were a group of about 8 bicycle tourists traveling from somewhere over to the group camping at Negro Bar. I'm going to say they were coming up from Davis, since they had sort of a laid-back college-town DIY vibe. I saw one enterprising person who had sewn pieces of bandanna to the back of a shirt for improvised jersey pockets.

I finally dug out my little Kodak Playsport video camera as well as my trusty digital point and shoot. Since I spent more time with the video running than taking stills, I needed to clip scenes with which to decorate this fascinating post.

So that meant I needed to load the video editor on my newish computer, and then remember how to use it. And you, the reader, can't tell, but there was a significant gap between this paragraph and the rest of the post.

I had cleaned up my bike, wiped down and re-lubed the chain, and sorted through my bike bags before I headed off for shoulder surgery.
It took me a while to get back in the groove of what stuff I wanted with me, but I eventually figured it out.
However, there was a lot of standing near the car, pondering, remembering some missing item, going inside to look for it, coming back out, going back in for something else. And it took about 5 minutes of hunting to find the sunscreen. Don't you keep your sunscreen on the kitchen counter?

And I finally have a new helmet, one of the Nutcase ones. In orange, remarkably close to my trike's color, and with FLAMES. Which I suppose ought to make me faster. Or at least odder. And the gray flames match my gray hair.
Does it get any better than this?

No, it does not.

(Today's route was from Sunrise boat launch to William Pond and back)