Monday, January 31, 2011

Nothing to see here. Move along.

I've posted about motorists being too nice before. Today was no exception. I have to blame part of today's overly nice motorist on the weather. Freezing drizzle started falling at about 4am today. The city road crews didn't get started on it until 6am. Everyone in this city was caught off-guard. I really do think they think they were doing me a favor.

I'm standing with my arms crossed at the intersection of the MoPac trail and N33rd street, both feet flat on the ground, patiently waiting for a gap in the cars to open up naturally before crossing the street. The cars are moving at MAYBE 20mph.

And then one stops, backing up the never-ending line of traffic all the way to Vine, two and a half blocks south. I facepalm and wave the driver through. Driver honks at me to "go".

I crossed the street, and every single one of those cars had to spin rubber against
ice to get moving. The line of cars hardly moved as I pedaled away. I can't help but think about what the motorists in back, those who didn't see the first motorist stop and honk me through, must think of me and cyclists in general.

I really wish the motorists would completely ignore me during the winter like they do in spring and summer: they're more predictable when they don't know I'm there. Maybe I should dress in white so I blend into my surroundings.
Maybe like an Imperial Storm Trooper. That might be less weird to see when the weather gets frightful, as opposed to a guy dressed in black with silver ski goggles and a white bike helmet.

At the other end of my commute, I got to the bridges at 27th and Highway 2 and saw an epic line of cars coming from 27th and Old Cheney, a mile or so south. I snapped a pic of them, they were going nowhere as I was able to pedal effortlessly across the bridge.

My true feelings on this matter require photoshop.

Thanks Melissa

33 minutes of seat time on my bike with studded tires. Everyone at work took "an hour" or more to get to work. It was worse for people who don't park in garages, they spent 20 minutes scraping ice off the windows after work, I can assume they took as long in the morning.

Ha Ha!

Friday, January 7, 2011

51 miles for the first week of January

It's January in Nebraska and it's been unseasonably warm.

Up until today the average high temps have been above freezing and I figure that's as good a time as any to keep riding. I put in 20 miles on Sunday and commuted to/from work and to/from the gym a couple of times.

The freeze/thaw cycles melting the little bit of snow we've received make me thankful for my studded Nokian tires. There's a good 1/4 mile section of Lincoln's Rock Island trail that managed to stay icy despite highs in the mid-40s the past couple of days. Today's ride home on this section was a bit dicey with the westerly cross-wind blowing me off balance. Despite the studs on the tires, the need to steer into the wind had my bike moving all over the trail trying to find a place to grab a hold.

The temperatures are finally dipping into "Nebraska Winter" territory with single digit projected highs for the coming week. But before it gets seasonably cold, we're finally getting our seasonable precipitation. The low prediction says 3 inches, some say as much as 8 inches before it's all said and done Monday night.

The last piece of my ice biking ensemble came in the mail today. I now have a set of Smith Cascade ski goggles. No more ice on my eyelashes or frozen tears running out of my eye sockets.

I'll be out on the bike on Sunday. How about you?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I once vowed never to join a Gym.

About this time last year I vowed not to join a gym. Bill Nye said it best when he said "The bicycle is a big part of our future. It has to be: there's something wrong with a society that drives a car to a gym for exercise."

I've decided I won't go faster on my bike without putting more force through the pedals. My local Gold's Gym is ten bucks a month. The fine print says I pay $30 a year in October. Whoopty freaking doo. Gym membership is $150 a year. A bargain compared to the cost of weights needed to achieve suggested "load goals" for specific exercises as spelled out in The Cyclist's Training Bible.

I have been doing some body weight exercises to facilitate my desire to get stronger, but I found those got real easy within 3 weeks. Add more resistance in the form of 20lb dumbbells? Easy again within a week. A $10/mo gym membership is the most economical answer to the question of "How do I make my bicycle's rear tire smoke like those connected to a 1,000hp twin turbo V8 nestled between the fenders of a 1987 Buick?"

My power goals look something like this, only noisier

I haven't set foot in a gym in well over a dozen years. Sure, the cardio machines have televisions and the snack bar offers more than just fruit juices with protein powder, but one thing has not changed: the people.

There's a group who go to the gym with no real plan. They sit at one machine, do 5 or so reps with way too much resistance, huff, puff and sweat all over said machine for 2-3 minutes, do three more reps, huff, puff and sweat some more, and then leave the machine drenched in sweat for the next user. They'll cruise the floor for an hour visiting random machines repeating this behavior. These people are often "in the/my/your way". I call them "randomizers".

There's also a group of "dude-bros", the folks who practically live at the gym with the sole goal of becoming "fit". Not that there's anything wrong with spending all of your spare time exercising with like-minded folks....

I don't understand the cardio-crazed, the people who can't get enough of the treadmill. I don't get how anyone can run in place for an hour or more while staring at a tv screen. I know what you're thinking, and yes, my road bike is currently clamped into my indoor trainer. I use it for spin-up drills and isolated leg work. I wouldn't consider cruising with a steady 135bpm heart rate for two hours while watching TV. That would absolutely kill the joy of cycling for me.

Then there's the geeks. They have a very clear goal in mind when they set foot in the gym. Exercise A leads to result B, which leads to Goal C. They are probably using the gym to supplement progress in another activity like basket weaving or chess. Maybe a sport like cycling. Some might even carry around a pencil and paper to track progress.

While I still consider working out in a gym to be a form of madness, I have a method to it.