28 August 2011

Rollin' with the Roadies

Ride #102

Sunday, August 28th
39 miles on the American River Bike Trail

A lovely group ride today with the 'big boys' - the Hammerin' Wheels bicycle group. Nearly all of their rides are outside my personal limits, usually for both speed and distance, but this one was just right. It pushed me but didn't kill me. And I'll bet I'm a little stronger for being pushed. Thank you, Herr Nietzsche.

Since I slow significantly on hills (not that I mind, since I get to see squirrels and turkeys up close) I would drop behind sometimes, and when we reached the flats I took off as fast as I could go since I was getting tired of the view of 27" wheels and logo-bedecked spandex rumps. I got to the turnaround point (yet another cafe - what would these places do without cyclists?) just a few minutes behind the group.

Finding a place to stash my trike within sight of the group was easy, and I sat on the outskirts of the table and listened in to the conversations. I had a huge cup of ice tea and a nice berry scone. I decided to take it easy on the way back, and told the leader not to wait for me. I cruised back at a 'tourist's pace' of 10mph - something I now feel like I could do all day. I'm glad I slowed down since my legs are pretty tired now.

I did not have any flat tires, but several folks in the group did, so I was passed repeatedly by folks catching up or turning back to assist. I've made it a policy to wave and say "Hey!" whenever anyone calls my name, since I have no hope of recognizing a road bike whipping past 15mph faster than I'm going, and my bike is the memorable one.
The 15mph is a lame excuse, I'm memorably (har har) bad with names and faces.

The first part of the ride was the climb up to Beals Point. I'm glad I did it (it was actually easy, but I am slow). The last time I tried it from the bottom was years ago, too soon after getting my hybrid Trek. Totally not ready for it.
I don't care for hills, but it sure is fun screaming down them. I need to do more hills.
AND I do think that the hills in my neighborhood are steeper than anything going up to Beals. I know what I'm going to be doing on quiet dry winter weekday mornings: orbiting the subdivision until I can't orbit no more.

I tried out some new shorts I got from Aero Tech Designs. They are very well made (as always) but the material is slippery! And the trail down from Beals is curvy and bumpy. Every time I'd hit a bump, I'd slide down the seat. And the sitting part of my seat is pretty small. (Let me clarify. My butt is plenty big, but the target on the bike's seat is fairly small, as recumbent seats go).
And cornering! On tight curves going fast, I tend to hook my shoulderblade over the seat's edge when cornering. Imagine my distress when my butt started sliding the other way. So these shorts will go in the 'hiking' bucket. They'll be great for that.

These are the "Fitness Compression Shorts" made of "tricot knit microfiber". I have a pair of their "Men's Unpadded Cycling Skin Shorts" made from "7 1/2 oz, nylon/lycra, tricot knit" which is grippier than the super smooth shorts I wore today. The men's shorts have a longer leg then I'd like, but they are OK. I wonder what other shorts (unpadded) they make from that second fabric?

Things I forgot today.
  • Drink enough water, darn it! Despite 3 bike bottles of water and 1 large ice tea, I came home and drank 64 ounces of electrolyte water. NOW I feel like I drank enough.
  • Re-sunscreen after 2 hours. I was out for four and a half, and had gutted my bike bag to lighten my load for climbing a 7% grade, removing the bottle of sunscreen that is usually in there.
  • Lip balm with sunscreen. I have it in my bike bag and I failed to put it on at the beginning of the ride. Forgot yesterday too. I put some on at our break, and then again later on.
  • Stop and eat when you are hungry. Don't get all angsty about keeping up. Stop and take care of yourself.
  • Lube your chain when you think about it. I had not done it as I said I would so my shifting was clunky and noisy. 

I'm not stuffing food in my face! (medium length gray hair, glasses, red shirt)

I'm probably taking the week off since I have big Labor Day stuff going on. But the houseguests will be mostly gone by Monday, so I'll ride then.

Not my map, but a good one anyway.

27 August 2011

That's Ms Mama Duck, thank you

Ride #101

11 miles around Lake Natoma
Saturday August 27th

It is supposed to get mighty hot today, so for some reason that now escapes me I scheduled this ride to start at 9am instead of 8. What was I thinking!

Nevertheless, it was OK since the group today was speedy. Speedy like roadrunners, or fire-tailed cats, or greased lightning (wouldn't that just ignite? Nevermind). So we beat the heat.

I had 9 people on 8 bikes (a tandem was along for the ride - cool!) behind me from Folsom onto the American River Bike Trail, and then over to Hazel Bridge, a stop at the state park there, and back to Folsom along the 'south' side of the lake. No mishaps, no mechanicals, no stupid freaking thorns, no heat problems. Just a great ride with fun people.

There was some kind of low-key running event on the ARBT side of the bridge, but since it was not signed 'trail closed' we decided to just use the trail anyway. We soon ran out of runners (ha ha) and had only the usual bikers and hikers along the path.

I did scare one beautiful golden retriever nearly to death. His owner was not controlling him very well and he was tending to wander onto the trail (she was also walking with traffic, not against it, so the dog would have wandered right into my trike). As I came up behind them, dinging my bell like a nut, the dog suddenly noticed me and teleported himself from the path to the ditch, cowering and flinching from the terrible machine that was going to EAT him. Or something. I am sad that I scared a dog (I like dogs and hate to see them scared) but I'm still a little irritated at the in-need-of-a-clue owner. I sure hope she had water for herself and the dog.

Some of the group stopped after the ride at Karen's Bakery Cafe (yummy yummy, good neither for my pocketbook nor my waistline but how could I resist the lure of fresh orange juice and an avocado/bacon/chicken sandwich). Half the sandwich is waiting in the refrigerator for my dinner.

I got to chat about my trike with a couple of people, always fun. One fellow had a scrumptious orange Catrike (another recumbent brand), one of the super speedy ones. After food, conversation and bike-chat I spiraled my way up to the top of the parking structure and loaded my trike.

I don't think I've really talked about that so here goes. When I'm driving the SUV, I just roll the trike up a pet ramp and into the truck.

I have to lift the front end of the trike since the bumper is high enough that the front of the trike would dig into the concrete. With the rear wheel supported, it is easy enough to move.

My flags, and their multitude of pole-pieces, tend to become scattered around the car, so I've taken to bundling them together with rubber bands.

Then tucking the whole mess behind an unused seatbelt along the side of the car.
The red thing is a shop rag and the white things are my sun sleeves. There are these nifty little plastic hooks along the sides of the car good for tucking random stuff into. The floor pump (blue) is usually piled on top of the flags out of the way.

The 'light bar' from the last post is coming along, just waiting for a few more lights. And I've decided that it is time to modify my front chainrings to a smaller 'big' and a slightly smaller 'middle' and a smaller granny.
Time to go count teeth and reading up on the procedure. I'm pretty sure I still want three rings, even with the duplication that can occur.

A longer ride tomorrow, and then probably a week off while I get ready for a weekend of house-partying.

23 August 2011

How oncoming flu adds a 20lb brick

Ride #100

11 or so miles around Lake Natoma
Tuesday, August 23rd

I picked this route since I would be able to go faster than my other idea of Folsom bicycle paths. I ended up loafing around the lake anyway. Who put that 20lb brick on the back of my trike, anyway!?

I got a late start so it was hotter weather than I usually chose to ride in. I tried out an UnderArmor shirt. Supposed to be for hot weather: wicking and all that. Not too bad. I have worn other wicking shirts with a cooler smoother feel (my favorite golf shirt) but this is long sleeved and in a screaming bright blue. I also have a yellow one. Not high-viz but pretty bright anyway.

I went counter clock wise since that's how I'll be leading Saturday's ride. I'm not sure that is the BEST direction to go in, since the little rolling hills are at the end of the ride, but I'm tired of always going clockwise.

I stopped and watched some happy water folks from the bridge.

You can see the reflection of the older bridge in the water.

Then set off into the dry countryside, brown hillsides dotted with dark green oaks.

My shifting seemed a bit noisy today, so I think I'll lube the chain and check for lumps of crud in the works before the next ride on Thursday.

I have been contemplating adding a light bar to my trike (not one with turn-signals and all, just several red flashers) so overtaking nighttime traffic will have a better idea of how wide I am. I think I'll start with a PVC tube painted black with red blinkers attached.
It needs to be (in my opinion) about as high as a sedan's taillights, and my headrest is just about as high as the lights on our Prius. So I'll ziptie the bar to the headrest supports. If I can figure out a stable velcro strap method, I'll do that later. The next thing to add will be white flashing lights pointing forward.

The ultimate in annoying lighting would be 12v battery powered LED strips. Might be too geeky, even for me.

Be Seen
Be Safe

19 August 2011

Will ride for ice cream


Friday, August 19th

A largish group of casual bikers headed out late this afternoon on the American River Trail with the promise of smoothies, ice cream, or coffee at the end of the ride. We had people on road bikes with those bars you might remember from your 1970's 10 speed, upright-posture comfort bikes, a splendid white cruiser, a mountain bike, my friend with the trailer-full of kids, and me on my recumbent trike.

I had the singular honor of leading the parade down to the riverside trail (the fellow on the white cruiser was the actual leader of the ride) and I even managed to keep my speed down to a casual-friendly 10mph. I did a lot of coasting.

We did not see any deer or coyote, but there were a lot of turkeys around. Including some humanoid turkeys on motorized skateboards. Grrrr. Not supposed to be on the trail! Oh well. They buzzed off up the Fair Oaks bridge and out of earshot.

I eventually caved in to my need for speed and took off down the trail like my tail was on fire. I managed 19.4 as my top speed and I know I did not hold it for long since I distinctly remember some gasping going on. I cruised on at about 13mph after that.

We hung out at the pond at our turnaround point, carefully avoiding many fine deposits of duck-shit. Ick. Green and squashy.

As we made our way back to our starting point, dusk happened, so I turned on my lights, the Cateye Opticube in flash mode on the front and the Cherry Bomb in the rear. It was nearly dark when we got back to the Sunrise bicycle path, so I stopped to add the high-viz sleeves from my old windbreaker and some flashing bands that I picked up at REI. I think they are supposed to go on your arms, but I find I can wiggle them over my shoes and wear them on my ankles. I also had two flags with reflective patches on them and a rear reflector. There are also some reflective patches on my trunk bag and the edges of my seat.

I felt highly invisible even with all that. So I need to figure out how to add more lights and reflective stuff to my ride, especially stuff that will be visible from the sides. Must ponder this.

I know I turned off the bike path onto the correct street, but I somehow was unable to find the smoothie place. Hrmph. I suck at nighttime navigation. Heck, I can hardly find the place in broad daylight. My GPS enabled phone helped, since I could remember the name of another business in the same building as the smoothie place (which I already knew was not in Google Maps). So I got there eventually and had a lovely pomegranate something with bananas and granola on it. Yum!

While I was sitting in the store waiting for my order, the two kids decided that the flashing bands on my ankles were too cool! They lay on the floor at my feet (I felt like a disco demi-god for a while, with two devoted worshipers) happily poking the buttons to turn the flashing on and off.

I am just as smitten with my trike as I was the day I brought it home, but my appreciation of its capabilities has grown as my ability to take advantage of those capabilities has grown.

What will the next year bring?
More long organized rides (I'm registered for Foxy's in October and a friend reminded me of a ride in Lodi's wine area also this fall), and hills. Hills since I want to tour.

Speaking of touring, here's a sketch of possible art for a recumbent cycle touring business card.
The ancient Egyptians got nothin' on me.

16 August 2011

done, well done, over done

Ride #98
20 miles on the American River Bike Trail
Tuesday, August 16th

How do you know when you've done too much? I think I can't tell until after I'm smack dab in the middle of over done.

Too bad there is not a turkey timer for cyclists that would pop out when you are done. Or a warning light like on a car's gas gauge. Because today was just a bit too much. Two 20 mile rides and two 30 mile rides in six days is too much. That's 100 miles.

Would five 20 mile rides in 6 days have been as tiring? What about two 50 mile rides 5 days apart. Or two trips of 9 miles each day for 6 days at a 'sniff the flowers' pace?


Today's ride had my friend with the trailer full of kids and my stepson on his dad's bike and his (the stepson's) girlfriend on my old bike. Neither of them was very comfortable, but they are young and strong and survived. I kept up with the friend and the trailer. When she stopped to deal with a cranky child, I kept going, but even slower. Oh yeah. So done.

I'm taking the next few days off the bike, with a short fun ice cream ride on Friday.

For all my whining would I do it again?
Of course! 'Cause that's what I do.


15 August 2011

Bridge, anyone?

Ride #97
The Usual 30 miles with One Usual Suspect
on the American River Bike Trail

For once, I got to show my triking friend a new thing:. that handsome bicycle overpass thingy at Hazel that I wrote about yesterday.

Here're the pictures I promised.

Ped-Bike sidewalk down Hazel. Soooo much better than the old one.

Quick steep ramp in foreground, long ramp in background

A better view of the beautiful long ramp. Summer-brown hills this time of year.
Today's ride was unremarkable, except that I need to figure out how to build up to consecutive long rides. Like I'll do when I'm touring.
I'm going to go 20 tomorrow, and I expect I'll be slow like a turtle since I was slow like a turtle at the end of today's ride.
I believe I'll do a short sweet ride on Folsom's bike paths on Friday, picking up a picnic brunch at the Farmer's market. And that will be ride #100! And almost a year of riding.

I tried wearing my old Ex-Officio button down style 'wicking' shirt. OK on the bike, except the long sleeves catch the air, puffing out enough I can't see my mirror, and off the bike just not nice. Felt like a big blue plastic bag. Back to the closet with you! Here's a link to a picture of the shirt.
I've ordered some long sleeved Under Armour shirts in screamingly bright colors. Hope they are satisfactory. I like the red golf shirt I usually wear, but it is short sleeved, and not a terribly visible color.

Speaking of visible, these folks were not on the trail yet, thankfully.

I'm still not sure what would happen with multiple horses and multiple trikes. Probably not pretty.

13 August 2011

Know your limits!

Ride #96 (four to go to the Big One Hundred!)

30 miles on the ARBT
Saturday, August 13th 

Oh my goodness! I got to ride with the other group I belong to! These folks are the Hammerin' Wheels and they generally go quite fast and often on super steep hills. It is a busy friendly large group and it was so fun to finally have a ride I could manage. (There have been others, but sometimes the schedules conflict.)

Our Fearless Leader who runs the group as a whole knows there is a gap between the casual rides offered by the casual riding group and the hammerfests of the larger group. He's been encouraging ride leaders to do fill-in-the-gap rides, so I've been running some rides (Speeding on the ARBT) and some other ride leaders have stepped up to offer some also. Did I say this was a great group?

The ride today started from a shopping center near Wm Pond. I decided I would rather ride up to meet them from Folsom than to drive out there when I had the possibility of extra exercise. My plan was to ride from Folsom to Wm Pond, back to Folsom, then around Lake Natoma for a total of 41 miles.

Alas, my neck and shoulder are quite stiff today. Sometimes riding loosens them up, but sometimes it does not. Today was a 'not' day. So I got to spend 15 miles with the bike trail largely to myself (that's what starting at dawn does for you) and 15 miles with the group followed by a wonderful brunch at Karen's Bakery Cafe. Then they went back to Wm Pond and I went home.

The new construction on the bicycle interchange at Hazel seems to be done. I call it an interchange because it really is. I tried to get some good pictures of it but this is the best I could do.

The overcrossing is the Hazel Bridge, ahead is a beautiful swoopy ramp up to the bridge

Optional quick descent instead of the probably ADA compliant ramp

Handsome faux rock walls beside the ramp

I should have some time on Monday to ride around playing architectural photographer.

Hazel bridge is sooooooo much better than it used to be. Almost every time I've ridden it in the last few months it's been different as the construction progressed, leading to some sudden stops and changes of directions when you realize "Oh, Darn. I should have turned sooner." The "Oh, Darn" moments can be exacerbated in a group of riders.
Yes yes, you who know me in the real world know it is not really Darn but some other four letter word.

We had a little 'darn' moment today, when I just did not have enough room to move forward to finish changing the gears due to suddenly stopped bicycles in the way. I managed to (for once) to hoist myself out of the seat, but I had to get one of the guys to turn the cranks for me while I hoisted the back of the bike to finish changing the rear derailleur up to the lowest gear.  I could have probably done it by myself, by pushing down on the boom and skidding the back wheel around. But if there's a reasonably scenic gentleman around, why not ask for some help?

A couple of rides next week, then a weekend off from bicycling.
I say that like it's a good thing.

11 August 2011

The Usual Suspects

Ride #95
Thursday, August 11th
The Usual Place for the Usual Distance (20 on the ARBT)

My friend with the trailer full of kids was along for the ride, without the trailer or the kids. She's pretty fast without that extra 100 pounds. I'm a bit faster, but I have an aero advantage. We took it easy for the first 4 miles, then I put on the speed and pulled away, but I barely had time to get out of my seat at Wm Pond (our turnaround) before she came rolling up.

Ok, ok. I could barely get out of my seat by the time she came rolling up, my glutes were that tired. Which is, I suppose, the point of this ride. Our averages were between 13 and 14 miles an hour on the way out, and only a little less on the way back.

We took turns leading on the way back and chatted about all kinds of things. Fun fun fun morning!

I hope more folks can show up for this ride, I have one more who will probably ride on Tuesdays. I'm thinking of trying some weekend versions of this ride, but the trail is quite busy. Maybe in September.

About the only mechanical thing I did between rides this time was tighten up my waterbottle cages; the bolts holding them on were loose enough I was surprised. But I suppose I should not have been, since the cages get a lot of jostling every ride from road vibration and my fumbling around retrieving and replacing the bottles.

I watched the Amelia Erhart movie the other day, and in the past I've read Beryl Markham's West with the Night (she was another early aviatrix). Both women expressed almost transcendental feelings of joy when flying, and seemed to feel flying was necessary, that life was not complete with out it.

That's how I feel about bicycling. Now if only I could write like Beryl did.

CU, keep those wheels rollin'

A link to the map with a larger version of this.

08 August 2011

When a bike gets fresh

Ride #94
9ish miles on the cool El Dorado Trail
Monday, August 8th

Although this is a cool August, it still gets warm enough midday to make cycling unpleasant. So we hit the trail at 6:30am, just when the sun was coming over the hills. We also did not want to take a super long time on the ride, but we wanted a workout, so we started at the Mosquito Rd. section of the trail and took it up to the end of the paved section and back down again.

It was pretty slow on the way up, and pretty fast on the way down. These pedestrians were moving along at a good clip, so I had the chance to take several pictures of them, several minutes apart.

Eventually, they left the trail so we were spared the humiliation of not catching up. Ever.

I did a bunch of checking and tightening and generally playing with my bike between Saturday's ride and today's. I lubed the chain, checked for gobs of stuff in the rear derailluer (none, T-9 lube working great), tightened up my bell's mount, tightened up the front reflector screw, checked the tires for stuff stuck to them, pinged each spoke to see if any were excessively loose, and other such-like geeky things.

I had been noticing for the last couple hundred miles that certain front/rear chainring combinations gave me a little tap on my butt when shifting. It finally occurred to me to try tightening up the seat mesh. Actually, I first thought of the area where my shoulders rest, since I noticed that that area was quite looser than the rest and the ride was not as splendid as it used to be.

While applying vise grips (tm) to the ends of the straps (I'm apparently losing my grip, so I rely on mechanical advantage sometimes) I thought I'd just do all the straps.
I'd go out to the garage and count the straps for you but there are at least 6 that I can think of.
What a difference that made! No more love taps, and my neck felt better after this ride than it has in a while since it was obvious my shoulders were being better supported.

I used the GPS Tracks app on my phone again. Worked OK this time. 

I also found out I can produce an image of the elevation profile from ridewithgps (I hope it is not slopping over too much on to the sidebar of my blog in your browser).

The wiggly line is the speed, and the red blob is the shallow but unending hill. You can see a peak about mile 3 where we sped down the other side of the freeway overpass, and after our turn around point, those dips in our speed were from braking to check for cross traffic at intersections. Just after mile 7 was a stop for some not too awful port-a-potties.
If you choose to use the playback on the map link, I'd set the speed at about 150% or you'll fall asleep watching us climb the grade. Here's the map.

Riding again on Thursday, then a looooong Saturday ride. Stay tuned!

06 August 2011

Your Title Here

Ride #93
Saturday, August 6th
30 miles on the American River Bike Trail

with the Recumbent Riders of Sacramento.

Yes. It is good to be back. And yes, I was mostly in back of the pack also. Back. Heh heh. Get it?

BUT this month I could see most of them most of the time, I think my average for the first 1/2 of the ride was 12-13 mph. So now I know I can do that for about 15 miles.
My view for most of the ride.

I don't know what my average for the second half was, but I'm betting my over all average was less than 10. 'Cause I was one tired puppy at the end of the ride.

So, why DON'T I know my average?

Because my speedometer sensor was knocked askew.

Why askew?

Because of removing and replacing my rear wheel, of course. (This is starting to sound like a conversation with a 5 year old).

Why mess with the rear wheel?

Because of this!

The Goathead thorn I found sticking out of my poor abused tire.
These little buggers are EVERYWHERE this year since we had such a wet spring. They are like caltrops: no matter how they land, there is always a point sticking up.

Here is an extremely amusing video about this horrid little scrap of vegetation. I had nothing to do with this video but I find it hilarious. No really. I do.

I had no problem removing the rear tire and getting a new tube in and inflated. I had a little trouble getting the wheel back in the dropouts while managing the chain. So a kind passerby held the back of the trike up while I cut loose with some language and got the wheel all settled in place.
I love my RoadMorph pump. It was easy to use and the trick a friend of mine discovered of unscrewing the collar on the business end of the pump a little bit prior to attaching the pump to a Schrader valve made it much easier than the first time I tried the pump.

I was remarkably nervous riding the last 10 of the 30 mile ride, knowing that I had only ONE spare tube and no patch kit.

Why no patch kit?
(Oh, for crying out loud! Not the five year old again!)

I probably picked up the goathead when I pulled over earlier to give a pack of cyclists my patch kit. Which I had never used. So much for the Good Samaritan act.
Who am I fooling, I'd do it again in an instant, but I might check my tires before scooting off.

I tried using the Tracks app on my phone (android). It did not seem to record anything ridewithgps can use, so I'll try again another day. The app ran for 5 hours and ran my battery down almost to nothing. So I think it might be a fun thing to play with, but only good for recording short routes.

The To Do List:
  • I really really need to see if I can tighten up the seat mesh where my pokey shoulderblades have caused it to sag. 
  • I also want to fix up my speedometer and make sure my pepperspray is attached to the bike securely.
Yes I have a little can of Fox strapped to my bike. There have recently been some unsavory characters (gang members, so I've heard) hanging out at the Sacramento end of the bike trail, attempting to separate people from their stuff. So I figured the spray is better kept where I can reach it rather than buried in the depths of my bag. And yes, I've practiced getting it in my hand and facing the right direction (easy with the type I bought).
  • And it might be time to check the rear derailler for lumps of crud and maybe to lube and wipe down the chain.
  • Oh. and check various bolt for tightness, since I'll have the seat off anyway.

Out for an early ride on Monday: Up up and away!

02 August 2011

The Ladies who Launch

Ride #92
20 heart-pumping miles on the American River Bike Trail
Tuesday, August 2nd

We launched ourselves from the parking lot and sped down the trail to William Pond, turned around and found ourselves out of steam, so we loafed on the way back.

My intention with this ride was to push myself to go faster and put more effort into moving along. The trike is a seductive creature: lulling you into pedaling along at a comfortable pace, lazily shifting down on a hill, coasting down the other side, waiting to pass a string of other riders.


I almost never pass other riders.

But today I did.
I maintained an average of 14mph on the six miles from Sunrise to William Pond. So I got to pass some folks (even slowmoving roadies. Wow.)
My friend, who was again towing 100 pounds of kids + trailer was not as fast, but we both got an equally splendid workout. My lungs feel a little cleaner then they did this morning.
We started at the Hatchery parking lot but used the first four miles to warm up.

When I was moving fast, I felt the need to imitate a low-class llama and spit repeatedly. I always made sure the target area was clear.
My trike is also resting, under my favorite tree at Wm. Pond.

I tried out an new Android app called Tracks, based on Google Maps. I ran the app on the way over to Wm. Pond, and it seemed to do an OK job of recording my route and speed.
If you'd like to play with it the results (you can invoke a speed graph as part of the elevation information bar, and you can play the route back) click here. The pause at about mile 1 is us futzing around with my little pump to get my buddy's tires inflated a bit more.

I'm taking it easy until Saturday, when I get to roll with the Sacramento Recumbent Riders again.