Five days of cycling!

Today is the forty-fifth anniversary of my birth.  To celebrate, I took some time off work and arranged two days before and two days after my actual birthday, for a total of five work-less days to enjoy as I see fit.  Which, of course, means cycling and cycling-related activities.  I decided that I would ride every day, giving me five straight days of cycling, which is something I’ve not yet done.

Today is day 3 and I just finished a 15.8 mile ride with a whopping 541 feet of elevation gain.  Day 1 – Thursday – consisted of 20.6 miles with a massive 301 feet of climbing (I rode down to Cypress College to see my awesome GF).  Day 2 – Friday, yesterday – was a different story altogether.

On day 2 I only put in 12.6 miles.  But in that 12.6 miles was 1,356 feet of elevation gain including the mile long, near 400 foot climb at an average of 7% grade, sufferfest known as Ardsheal Drive (you may remember Ardsheal Drive from blog posts such as this one.)  That’s right, after years and several attempts at success, on the eve of my 45th birthday, I finally achieved that which I had not yet been able to achieve.

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Yeah, I’m not proud or anything.  :)

They can’t all be zingers…

Ye gads, not a good cycling weekend for me.

A couple of weeks back I replaced my Dura-Ace 12-23 cassette with an Ultegra 12-27.  Doing so, I noticed my chain was missing a quick-release master link, so I rummaged through my parts bin, found one, and slapped it on the chain.  I’ll be damned if I could get the derailleur properly adjusted on the new cassette, and it was super noisy even when it looked to be perfectly aligned.

This weekend, I decided to pull the chain, clean it, re-adjust all the cables, and get the damned thing running smoothly.  I spent, like, 4 hours working on it, eventually going link-by-link through the derailleur and the cassette, until I discovered that I’d put an 8-speed master link on my 9-speed chain.  Ugh.

Once I got the derailleur “good enough” on the stand I took off for a ride.  I was sore from being hunched over the bike, I was pissed off that I’d done something so stupid, once I started riding all the noise was back, and I’d been eating bad food since my last ride last Sunday.  It was… not a good ride, which culminated with a quick stop by my local bike shop to have them adjust my rear derailleur and tell me that I need a new chain.  Ugh.

Today’s ride was better.  I started off sore, but started feeling better as I got on.  After about an hour or so I was feeling much better and decided to try besting the one climb I’ve never been able to complete: Ardsheal Drive in La Habra Heights.

I couldn’t do it.  It beat me again.  I rode home with my proverbial tail between my legs.  Although I did climb the shit out of a few lesser hills because I was pissed off.

One day, Ardsheal, you will be my bitch.

Debating The Rules

So, rule #29, rule #30, and rule #31 collectively state that saddlebags should never appear on a road bike, and that everything you’d put into a saddlebag should go into a jersey pocket instead.

Have you ever tried riding with a spare tube, a CO2 canister, a CO2 dispenser, a multi-tool, and a tire lever in a jersey pocket alongside of everything else you normally put in a jersey pocket (say, for instance, ID, a few dollars cash, maybe a credit card, a smartphone, etc.)?

I have, specifically because of The Rules, on my ride up and down the Santa Ana River Trail last weekend.  Yes, I know the rules are largely tongue-in-cheek, but that’s my reason and I’m sticking to it.

It was not fun.  My jersey kept pulling down my backside because of the extra weight, and I felt like I had some bulbous, tumorous growth protruding from my lower back.  In my mind’s eye I was the cycling equivalent of Quasimodo, long deaf from the cries of “ON  YOUR LEFT”, hurrying to ring the Strava KOM bell.

So yeah.  I put all my accessories back into my saddlebag and put it back on my bike.  Damn The Rules.  :D

 

On the dumb decisions of younger days…

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Disclaimer: sadly, this is not my bike. This picture was found via Bing image search.

I grew up racing BMX; I stopped when I graduated high school.  At that point, I purchased my first ever road bike: a 1987 Bianchi Brava, very similar to what’s pictured above.  In fact, that picture is the closest I could find on many, many, many pages of image search results.

It was a very nice bike. I don’t remember too many details of the build, other than it had Shimano hubs, brakes, and cranks (including Biopace chain rings), Araya rims, and Suntour shifters and derailleurs.  It single-handedly set off a near life-long love affair with Bianchi road bikes that haunts me to this very day… I cannot look at one without being momentarily stunned.  Especially those which are black in color with celeste highlights.

Over the years, I’ve kept my eye out for an ’87 Brava I could restore but I have been unsuccessful.  I came close once with a Strada LX from the same era which I setup as a fixed-gear bike, but it was just not the same.  It was blue, first off, and part of the magic for me is the black and celeste combination.  (It’s here, if you want to see it.)

The dumb decision to which I referred in the subject of this post?  After owning and riding the bike for some time, having invested in all the cycling accoutrements, I sold it for pennies on the dollar so that I could take a girl to Disneyland.

And we didn’t even have fun.

Work-time Levity

A buddy of mine walked up to my cube, looked at my desktop, and said, “most guys would have a nice picture of their wife or girlfriend on the beach.  Not you.”  I laughed.

Here’s my desktop:

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On bicycle safety…

…this is something I’ve had percolating in my head for years, I’ve just never bothered to put it into words.

The California Vehicle Code states that anyone riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle.  It also states that a rider should ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, subject to a collection of exceptions (for things like passing slower traffic, making a left turn, where conditions make it unsafe, and so on).  Further, it states that riders are required to ride in bicycle lanes where they exist, but that a rider can leave the bicycle lane for almost the exact same collection of exceptions.

Given that debris often collects in the gutter next to the bike lane (which includes parked cars, heh) many bicyclists advocate “taking the lane”, which means to ride in the center of the lane as if they were driving an automobile.  The thought being that because of the debris (again, including parked cars), it is never safe to ride in the bike lane or along the shoulder, so the center of the lane is as close as practicable as one should ride.

I see two problems with this which are so very often overlooked by advocates:

  • First, CVC 21202 states that when not riding as close to the right as practicable the rider is subject to the provisions of CVC 21656.  CVC 21656 states that when slower moving traffic has a line of five of more vehicles behind it, the slower moving vehicle must pull off of the road and allow traffic to pass.
  • Second, a car is a 2000 pound hunk-of-hurt usually driven by a seething conglomeration of anger personified, focused on the slow-moving bicyclist in front of it.

From my experience, bicyclists tend to pick and choose which parts of the law they are going to follow; I’ve neither heard of nor seen bicyclists pull over if they’ve “taken the lane” and are causing traffic to bunch up behind them (in fact, I can’t count the number of social media posts from non-cyclists I’ve read complaining about bicyclists who “took the lane” and didn’t pull over to let a long line of traffic pass.  Truth be told, I suspect it’s a competition thing; pulling over would be akin to admitting you’re losing the race against traffic, and what self-respecting road cyclist would ever admit that they lost?)

So while the law may state (granted, if I may quote Obi-Wan, “from a certain point of view”) that “taking the lane” is acceptable, it also states that the rider should pull over to let faster-moving traffic pass.  Doing the former without the latter is, in fact, unsafe and can often land a bicyclist right in the sights of a seething conglomeration of anger personified.  Which is never good and happens quite frequently enough without cause or provocation.

I was once the victim of a seething conglomeration of anger personified.  I was stopped at a red light in the center of the right-hand lane of a three-lane highway, next to a marked right-hand turn lane.  The lady who pulled up behind me was angry that I dared to be in the lane even stopped to let the people turning right do so.  After the light turned green, she sped up and slid by me so close that her passenger mirror clipped my shoulder and sent me sprawling to the ground.  She later admitted that she did it to teach me a lesson because I shouldn’t have been in the street even after the police had relayed to her the relevant laws.  So it happens; I wasn’t even riding or holding up traffic, I was just sitting there.

The bottom line?  Don’t let entitlement get in the way of your safety; just because the law may say you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something.  Follow the laws while you’re cycling, but follow ALL of the laws and remember that a 2000 pound hunk-of-hurt driven by a seething conglomeration of anger personified can turn your 200 pound, lycra-clad, carbon-fiber riding self into a squishy smear on the ground in the blink of an eye.  Is it really worth it to prove a point about “cyclists rights to the road”?

 

After Work Riding

With my work scheduled and commute, I do not have time to ride during the week.  By the time I get home, I have fleeting minutes of sunlight left and unless I’m in a group, I won’t ride at night.  I have lights and all, but I believe a lone rider at night is taking more risks than a lone rider during the day, and I don’t need to take those risks.

Today I tried something different.  I trunked my bike and gear and took them to work with me.  At the end of my shift, I changed into my riding gear, pulled the bike out of the trunk, slapped on the wheels, and took off for a quick jaunt around Irvine and Lake Forest, CA.  Here’s the ride on Strava: http://www.strava.com/activities/111227646

It’s not my greatest ride, performance-wise; I consider it an exploratory ride and I came in at just about an hour which is more than do-able for me on a regular basis.

So, yay.  More riding during the week for me.  :)