Sunday, November 21, 2010

5 Reasons you should ride your bike

I ran across an article at Yahoo entitled Five Reasons Electric Cars Will Disappoint.

Meh. Electric cars are for Hollywood types. Tom Hanks has a Scion EV conversion. He's got the money to spend. Good for him.

The Nissan Leaf retails for as much as a Nissan Altima (equipped with Nav and Leather, no less), and you get half the car with 1/4 the range with the Leaf. I'm not quite sold on the Leaf being a better car in any way, shape, or form. (Let's not talk about how the batteries are disposed of/recycled.)

To each his own.

Here's five reasons you should ride a bike:
  1. The bicycle runs on fat and saves you money.
  2. The bicycle cleans the environment... between your ears.
  3. The bicycle is simple to operate.
  4. The bicycle is simple to maintain.
  5. The bicycle is widely available and cities are catching on, with businesses providing racks to two-wheeled customers and employees.
Most of us have the tools to save gas money hanging in our garage or packed away in a shed someplace. Do you "need" an electric car if the price of oil should spike? Probably not. I generally will choose a bicycle for transportation if the following criteria are met:
  1. It's a solo trip.
  2. I'm not hauling furniture.
  3. I'm feeling healthy enough for the conditions and distance.
Regarding #3 above, I am prone to tendinitis in my ankles. My left ankle flared up Friday morning, kept me off my bike for the weekend.

I'll be driving to work tomorrow at least. (Yeah, that sucks.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

It's time to light the lights.

Today was my first commute after the daylight savings time shift. I've discovered Lincolnites enjoy living dangerously. A number don't wear helmets, and even fewer have lights on their bike.

Seriously, it's getting dark before 5pm. I don't want to run into you, you don't want to run into me: I weigh 185lbs, I'm on a 20lb bike and moving at ~17mph. If you are of similar mass traveling at similar speed, we might as well drive cars into one another. It's going to hurt that bad if we collide.

I didn't have any close calls tonight (I did last year), it was just unnerving to see a cyclist travelling the opposite direction 20 feet away, come from "nowhere". Imagine if I were a car: I wouldn't have time to stop.

I would also like it if pedestrians carried some kind of light when out in the dark, but I'm not holding my breath for that. Many don't see it as necessary.

Equipping your bike with appropriate lighting is the law, by the way:

10.48.110 Equipment on Bicycles; Brakes and Lights.

(b) Light, Front. Every bicycle operated on the streets of Lincoln, paved walkways through city parks or on Lincoln's designated pedestrian-bicycle trails between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise shall be equipped with a white light that is visible from a distance of at least 500 feet from the front on a clear night. The light shall be directly attached to the bicycle or worn by the bicycle’s operator.

(c) Light, Rear. Every bicycle operated on the streets of Lincoln between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise shall be equipped with a red light that is visible for a distance of at least 500 feet from the rear on a clear night. The light may be directly attached to the bicycle or worn by the bicycle's operator.

One can equip their bike with the appropriate lights for under $50 at any bike shop in town. It's a small price to pay for your personal safety.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Joe Friel's Training Bible

I read some of my older blog posts about my attempts at racing this year and decided I needed to do something about it before I pin numbers to my jersey again next year.

I bought Joe Friel's Training Bible at my local Barnes and Noble back in late September and tore through it like Johnny Five seeking input: I read it cover to cover in under 36 hours.

Then I read it again.

I set up a google calendar for the upcoming 2011 season and approximated local race dates based on the 2010 races, and then set up weekly workouts based on the information in the book (how/when to time peaks and when to recover) and my goals.

Well, goal (singular): I want a sub 1:05 time at the 22 mile Yutan TT course this year. That means taking 9 minutes off my fastest time. I generally have two chances each year between the Nebraska State TT championships and the Cornhusker State Games.

Right now I'm doing what I did since the 2010 Cornhusker State Games: I ride to work and back. I might go for a leisurely road ride this weekend. I might go exploring down a gravel road. I might stay home.

Well, that's not 100% true: I started my "Anatomical Adaptation" weight training phase Monday night. I'm going to stretch that out to six weeks instead of two since I haven't done any serious resistance training since February 1995.

I have already learned something about myself in my two workouts: I pedal one-legged. My right leg is incredibly strong compared to my left: it's entirely possible that I could cut off the 25lbs of moving dead weight that is my left leg and shave 6 minutes off my TT time.

No, I really can't do that. I need that leg. Not to mention all the blood I'd have to clean up. And the pain. Ugh, the pain. Instead, I'll probably do one legged pedal drills at least once a week while my road bike is clamped in the trainer. A little hard work isn't going to kill me, but hacking off a limb might.

If you want a copy of the book, you can buy it for $16 and some change at Amazon:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Oh what a night, late October back in twenty-ten...

I was just out for a bike ride the night of Friday October 29th, 2010. I wasn't racing.  Nobody else was racing either.

I was just out for a ride with a bunch of other people dressed in costume riding bikes with lights in the night. I was also in costume:

Me on the left. Chris on the right. Photo stolen from Shane Harders's Facebook page.

I felt strange explaining my 1980s reference. I don't feel like explaining it again, so here's a video:

The ride started at Robber's Cave, then on to Wilderness Park.

At Wilderness, we were greeted by a guy in costume dragging a hammer (or axe?) across a chain which "blocked" access to the park after hours. He said nothing. Good thing he was there, I would have endo'd entering the park.

Riding a road bike on super rough gravel walking trails is not my idea of fun. I took it at 5mph with my left leg out, just in case. I had to find a piece of candy in a covered bridge before I could get my stamp that gave me a clue to my next stop: the tunnel at 4th and F.

Then I followed a group of folks north to the F street tunnel at 4th street. We took a pea gravel bike trail. I thought about my skinny tires, 30lbs excess weight and pea gravel: 15mph is my limit here.

Hindsight being 20/20, I should have taken 8th street, I could have made up some time: no pea gravel for my front wheel to slip on, no "traffic" to get stuck behind, meth-tweeker zombies with rabid, underfed pit bulls to sprint away from, etc.

When we got to 4th and F, we were informed we had to enter from the other side. That means we had to cross four train tracks. At the other end of the tunnel we were digging among spaghetti for squishy eyeballs in a kiddie pool set up by Girl Bike Night. Mmmm. When you found the eyeball, you were given a stamp with your next location and given another piece of candy.

One dude in the tunnel reached in and grabbed a handful of spaghetti and ATE IT. While I can't speak for the 20 or so folks that came before us, I know how gross my handlebars are and I'm pretty sure my gloves aren't exactly sanitary.

The next location was State Fair Park horse stables. You found the No Coast Derby Girls dressed as zombies and had to answer three state capitol questions before getting your card stamped with a new location (27th and Capitol Parkway Underpass) and another piece of candy.

There are two street crossings from State Fair Park to the 27th and Capitol Parkway underpass. That means almost no interference from cars (yay!). That didn't matter because the wind was horrible (boo!).

I was greeted by a cycling ninja at the north entrance to the underpass. At the south end of the underpass, I had to toss a "severed head" to a ring on the other side of the "River of Blood". I needed six (twelve? twenty-four?) tries, twice the head fell into the river and got all slippery.

My next stop was the YWCA, which I got lost trying to locate. I had it in my head that it was on 13th street, when in reality it was on 15th.

My challenge there involved getting blindfolded and following spoken instructions to find my way through an obstacle course.

After that I high tailed it to the finish line at Buzzard Billy's. Whoops. It was not a race (remember, I was just out for a ride), which means there is no finish line. I made it to the end of the ride. We left at 8:00 and I arrived at the finish at about 9:40. I was the 36th overall arrival.

This ride was a fund/awareness-raiser for Sheclismo, Lincoln's first all-women's cycling team. (One of these days I'm going to ask how one pronounces "Sheclismo".)

There were raffles and prizes at the finish, including a Globe Daily 1 commuter bike. I came home with a new water bottle from Joyride Bicycles and five pieces of candy. (You can never have too many water bottles this time of year: they come in handy during the winter to hold soapy water for washing grit off your bike after a romp through the snow. Keep a thermos of near-boiling water nearby to thaw/rinse it off.)

The "not-race" was fun. I want to "hustle" again sometime soon.