Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bloomin' Metric Century

My friend Andrew and I have decided to do the Bloomin' Metric Century on May 20th (100 km or 62 miles).  Registering is the easy part.  Now all we have to do is train for it.

Bike New York has a nice page for training for an (imperial) century.  Andrew and I took their training numbers in miles, took them as kilometers instead of miles, and converted them to miles.

(For the 8th week, the century distance is not included.  As for most big events, the mileage the last week (or so) drops off).

I'm already riding 50+ miles a week (I rode 65 last week).  If I actually manage to ride to work each day (for a total of 32 miles), that plus the long ride means I've pretty much met the mileage goal (Andrew is in a very similar situation with his daily commute about a half mile longer than mine).  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"I'm Biking in the Rain, Just Biking in the Rain..."

The radar looked iffy, but to me it looked like there was a break in the rain, so I took a chance and went out.  I think I would have been fine, but my friend Tom called me back just after I left and told me he didn't want to join me because it was raining at his house.  (I'm sure that if he didn't call, it never would have rained on my route.).  I told him that it wasn't raining where I was and then I kept going.

When I started the ride, I was wearing my Canary Yellow Canary rain jacket.  Errr, my Canary Canary Yellow rain jacket..  (My Canary brand rain jacket that is canary yellow; boy that was harder than it should have been). After about 20 minutes and 3 miles into the ride, it was starting to rain pretty hard, so I pulled over an put on my rain pants.

I probably should have worn my full-finger gloves instead of just regular bike gloves as it was only in the 50s (Fahrenheit; ~ 10 C) when I left.  The cold rain didn't make that any better.  But the rain suit did a good job of keeping me mostly dry.  And I had no problem climbing 10% grades with very wet pavement (I believe that some of the smaller distances had bigger grades, but that's the maximum I see on my route).  This was definitely not the best ride I've ever been on, but given the weather, it actually wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.

Since I bought this bike, I've put on (just under) 290 miles in just over a month and a week.  I'm still very much enjoying this bike (even in the rain).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thought for the Day

I found this on Facebook and thought it set a nice mood for the day.  Hope you are all having a good one!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jumbo Shrimp, Cafeteria Food, and... Clipless Pedals?

Ever since I can remember, I have had toe clips installed on my pedals (since at least before I was a teenager).  The first bike where this wasn't true is my folding bike (and only because it had folding pedals onto which I couldn't install toe clips).  So while I'm not used to having my first firmly attached to the pedals, I am used to a certain amount of control that you don't get on platform pedals with nothing else.

When I installed the new crankset on my Sofrider, I also installed dual-sided pedals.  One side is your standard platform pedal that you can use with any shoes.  The other side are for use with SPD cleats.  Pedals like this are called clipless pedals because they do not have toe clips.  While I completely understand that, I find it one of biking's big ironies that one clips into clipless pedals ("I clipped into my clipless pedals to go down to eat jumbo shrimp and other inedible cafeteria food.").

I've had the pedals, the cleats, and even the special shoes (to which one attaches the cleats) since well before I put the new crank on my bike.  But it wasn't until today that I tried riding a bike using them.  I'm very happy to report that everything went very well and I had no problems!

Somebody on the 'Bent Riders Online forum basically suggested that before riding clipped in, to find a pole to grab onto and practice repeatedly clipping into and out of the pedals (you remove your shoe from the pedal by twisting your heal outwards).  I did that last night.  At first, I had such a hard time clipping into the pedals, I took one of my shoes off and just clipped it into the pedal a few times. After that, I spent about 20 minutes sitting on my bike, holding a pole in my garage repeatedly clipping into and out of the pedals.

The general idea is that before starting, you clip in one foot (always my right foot) before taking the other foot off of the ground.  The hard part is getting the second foot clipped in.  It turns out (as I found out this morning) that it is actually easier to do this pedaling than it is holding a pole in ones garage.

On my way to work, I got a twig stuck in my wheel.  I thought that I might have a flat, so I downshifted, unclipped, and stopped.  After I removed the stick, I even managed to start back up on a hill of about 5% incline without falling over.  Not too shabby.

The biggest advantage of clipping into pedals (and some extent, toe clips) is that in addition to propelling the bicycle by pushing on the pedals, you can now also propel the bike by pulling on the pedals.  One thing I learned today (and, well, this is pretty obvious), after spending years of pedaling without being firmly attached to the pedals, I'm very used to pushing on the pedals and not at all used to pulling on them.  I can do it, and it helps me pick up speed a lot, but it doesn't yet feel very natural and I can't do it for very long.

The other big difference is that now that my feet are attached to the pedals, I feel much more in control when I'm spinning - pedaling at a high cadence or RPM.  Without clipping in, I find that I feel like the bike gets out of control at a high spinning rate.  With the pedals, everything is much smoother.  Very nice.  This is probably obvious and I was hoping that something like this would happen, but I was very pleasantly surprised at how big an effect it is.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

More Miles, More Smiles

I rode six out of the last seven days; I took Wednesday off to give my legs a rest.  The weather here has been very good (if not a bit cold some of the mornings), so I haven't yet had to ride in the rain.

I put on just over 57 miles this last week (almost exactly split between commuting and pleasure riding).  About a third of the way into my ride today, I saw two fully spandexed riders in my mirror as I was on a long, shallow climb.  I managed to keep them behind me for five minutes as I kicked it up a notch, but they did eventually overtake me (they of course were very friendly and probably didn't even realize that I was a huffin' and puffin' to keep them from passing me).  After making it up this hill and weaving around a bit, the route today had over a solid mile with a nice decent on a very smooth mode without a lot of traffic.  Since I mostly paid for that decent up front, it was quite a bit of fun and it's a route I'll ride again.

I'm very happy with both the Sofrider bike and the modifications I've made to it (the triple crank and adjustable stem).  The front wheel developed a pinging sound this week that I eventually traced down to two loose spokes today. I'm still working out the kinks of attaching the pannier securely, but hopefully I'll have an update soon as to how I solved that issue.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Two Commutes, Two Rides, Two Flats

I ridden my bike in twice since Monday.  Tuesday went pretty much like Monday.  On Friday, I took a lap around work so that my distance home was 6 miles instead of 3.  The pannier likes to try and fall off sometimes, but I think I have a fix for that (more on that in a future post).

On Saturday, I went for a 17 mile ride.  My garmin claims I had a moving average of 13.3 mph, but I'm not sure I believe it was that high. My ride length is starting to progress nicely.

Today, I put my two little monkeys in the trailer and went for a ride.

The trailer is a little bit too small for the two of them which can lead to some, errr..., arguments between the two, but they usually have a good time.  Giving them snacks and water bottles can help a lot.

About half way into the ride (4 miles out of 8.5), I notice my bike wasn't riding well at all.  I stopped and looked at the trailer wheels which were both fine.  I then notice my rear tire was completely flat.  Since I had a spare tube, I didn't bother looking for the leak and just put in a new tube (it probably took 20 minutes total - maybe a little less).

When I was pulling into my driveway, I realized my front wheel was flat as well.  I went to REI and bought two new tubes as well as Slime tire liners.  I've heard mixed things about these, but I thought I'd give them a try. I've got the liner installed on the front wheel, two spare tubes in my trunk back, and I'm ready to ride to work tomorrow.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

New Crankset Installed!

I received the larger bottom bracket today and was able to install it using a hair dryer!  (And a bottom bracket socket.)  With the new, wider bottom bracket, it was easy to put on the new triple crankset adjust the front derailleur so it can shift for all three rings.  

For those wondering, the hair dryer was for warming the frame around the bottom bracket.  They first recommended a heat gun, but then pointed out that a hair dryer works as well.  I also installed an adjustable stem.  Pictures coming soon.

For those fellow Sofriders out there, I used Alivio M411 Hybrid Crankset (Black 170mm X 48/38/28) with BB-UN26 cartridge BB, JIS - 68x123mm bottom bracket.