Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Armstrong Years

I came across The drugs don't work last month, but never got around to commenting on it.  I think it paints a pretty interesting picture of what was going on in professional cycling during "The Armstrong Years".  Rather sad actually.  And in other regards, rather amazing.
February 13, 2008 @ 12:59 pm | Category:
Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How to Ride Year Round

So I mentioned previously in Riding Year Round that I'd write more about how I ride year round.  The first thing one need is some good luck —at least if you live somewhere like Buffalo, by being snow-free or at least cold and dry.  The problem being it's not fun to ride when it's wet and cold.  One or the other is fine, but not both.  Plus that kind of weather really takes its toll on your bike because of all the grit and grime.  It does a really nice job of wearing out all those lightweight, expensive bits.  The other problem is that wet and cold can also mean ice.  Not a good thing when you're rolling along on two wheels that are only about 3/4 of an inch wide.

So let's assume that it's cold, but not wet.  Yeah, lets go out and play.  But first you need to definitely have the proper clothes.  To call good cycling clothes expensive is a huge understatement.  Thus most people do like I did and buy the affordable stuff and improvise until you splurge once on the good stuff.  Then you learn how much better it really is.  So over the course of years you slowly build up a collection of good stuff and then start replacing it as it wears out.  Oh, if you're looking to save money forget about taking up cycling as a sport.  They are completely incompatible.

Anyhow, like any outdoor activity it's best to dress in layers.  The colder it is, the more layers.  This allows you the ability to regulate your body heat conditions change.  At this point I feel I can ride down to somewhere in the mid-20's although I believe I've only actually done about 30°F…not counting wind chill.  On it's own wind chill is bad enough, but on a bike you're going to generate your own because you're moving.  And if you let yourself get cold the wind will quickly sap your energy…to the point you could be putting yourself at risk.  This is something I'm always very careful to avoid.  You can always unzip or strip off layers if you're too hot.  But if you're bundled up and cold, you're asking for trouble.

So for me I have an inventory of items I typically wear when it's cold:

  • cycling shorts, preferably bibs
  • short-sleeved cycling jersey (with great wicking ability)
  • polypro long-sleeved base layer undershirt
  • long-sleeved polypro turtleneck
  • long-sleeved fleece lined jersey
  • fleece lined tights
  • a second pair of fleece lined tights
  • polypro socks
  • Gor-Tex socks
  • cycling shoes
  • shoe covers
  • neoprene/fleece hat
  • polypro glove liners
  • full-finger medium weight gloves
  • My shiny new Sugoi Invertor jacket
I got the new jacket from my parents for Christmas and have worn it just once.  But I can say I forsee getting lots of use out of this: Sugoi Invertor Jacket - front Sugoi Invertor Jacket - back

It's super warm and uses Sugoi's FireWall Fabric.  Basically it feels sort of like wearing a wetsuit, which was strange at first.  But once I started using it was great.  It's very warm and it stretches with you.  This is a big improvement over my old HellyTech (Gor-Tex knockoff) jacket.  That was cut for cycling, but it wasn't form fitting.  Nor did it insulate at all.

The only real issue I have at this point is I have a hard time keeping my feet warm.  This is problem for me off the bike in the winter, but it's worse on the bike where thin mostly plastic cycling shoes are bolted to the pedals.  Which is great for pedaling efficiency, but it acts as a big heat sink on your feet.  Thus the one item I'd still like to acquire is a pair of winter cycling shoes.  The problem there is that there aren't that many options available and they are expensive.  But it's moving up my "want" list and this might be the year…or at least one can hope.
January 29, 2008 @ 12:57 pm | Category:
Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Riding Year Round

So I've ridden most of the year since I started riding seriously again in 1995.  But I used to take off pretty much all of the winter.  But as time has gone on I've ridden more and more in the winter months.  The bulk of that being indoors as snowy and icy days like today preclude being outdoors.  Thus I've always responded to "Do you ride year round?" with a "mostly".

Well, not anymore!  As of my ride this past Sunday I can say that "Yes, I do ride year round".  As this is the first time I've ever ridden outdoors in January.  And it's certainly something I intend to try to do more of in the future.  Thanks to global warming it seems that it might even get easier to do.

I'm short on time today, but in another post I'll discuss what I've done that allows me to ride year round now.
January 15, 2008 @ 12:55 pm | Category:
Thursday, January 03, 2008

2008 Cycling Goals

So now that we are into 2009 it's time to look back on how we fared in 2008.  There won't be any set goals for this year as I know my riding will be down.  I have lots of work around the house that I've been neglecting and my position change at work has also put a lot more demands on my time.  So let's review…

I've been thinking the past few weeks about what I want to accomplish on the bike in 2008.  These are the goals I've set:
  • Ride 4000 miles. That might have happened in 2007, but vacation, back issues and sickness detrailed that in the early fall. - SUCCESS, 4,001.67 miles.  Required a concerted effort in December as I got lazy in November.
  • Ride 10% more miles each month than in 2007.  I probably won't make this goal every month, but if I can do that overall it will put me close to that 4000 mile goal. - PARTIAL, I haven't figure it out exactly, but most months I did do this, but I know there were a couple that I didn't.  But overall I had more than a 10% increase over 2007.
  • Ride 3 century rides.  I did one last year for the first time in 9 years.  The last time I did three was in 1996. - SUCCESS, yes, yes, and yes.  And those last two were on consecutive weekends.
  • Set a new personnel distance record.  This means topping my 153.90 mile ride in August of 1996. - FAIL, This was a pipe dream and never be topped.  But mentally my goal is to someday ride a double century (200 miles).
  • Have an overall average speed outdoors of 18.50mph.  That an small increase over last year's 18.22mph, but still shy of 2004's 18.70mph. - FAIL, I actually slowed down to 18.00, but I did ride faster indoors so my overall average was up about 0.4 mph.
Considering that last year was 400+ miles more than my longest year (1997) and a major jump over the previous past several years.  I believe some if not all of these goals to be fairly lofty.  So if life doesn't conspire against me and I show the same dedication this year as I did last it should be possible to meet these goals.  I guess we shall see.  It's January 3rd and I've yet to start, so I best be getting going now.

You can get a quick overview of my past efforts from my Cycling Yearly Summary page.

SUMMARY: So although I didn't meet all of the goals I consider 2008 a success and I'm quite happy with my achievements.  2009 likely will see less miles, but if I follow though on riding my bike to work, it might go up, but at a slower speed.  We shall see.
January 3, 2008 @ 12:59 pm | Category:
Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2007 Cycling Season Recap

I have to say that 2007 was a tremendous cycling season for me.  I didn't really have any goals in mind other that "I want to ride more".  But thanks to a flexible work schedule and the ability to crawl out of bed at 4am on a regular basis, I was able meet that goal.  In 2006 I rode 2,304.26 miles in 92 rides.  My 2007 season included a century ride for the first time since 1998.  And it ended this past Sunday with a 32 mile jaunt outside.  It's pretty rare that I get to ride outside in December, so this was wonderful.  After cutting down my riding in early December, with a lot of support from my wife and a desire to push my highest ever yearly total even higher, I pushed hard for the last 3 days and finished 2007 with 3608.40 in 135 rides.  Thus I'm a happy camper and I'm inspired to set some goals and do even more in 2008…
January 2, 2008 @ 12:53 pm | Category:
Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mission Bicycle #2 - for Joi Ito

Mission Bicycle #2 - for Joi Ito

I found this bike picture in a "Flickr Interestingness" feed that I follow.  I absolutely love this bike.  A very beautiful, clean and simplistic single-speed road machine built by Mission Bicycles for Joi Ito who also seems to love it.

I so want a single-speed bike, but I really want a new hardcore road bike more, thus I certainly won't be getting something like this anytime soon.  I am considering building one out of an old bike though.  Time will tell.  In any case, I'm now using this photo as my desktop wallpaper, which is a big deal because I don't change is very often.
December 18, 2007 @ 12:47 pm | Category:
Sunday, November 25, 2007

Frisbee Wheels

So I went on a recon Christmas shopping trek today, had some extra time and stopped in at Handlebars Cycle Company.  As anyone that spends much time around me knows, I've been pining for a new bike for quite a while.  So while discussing options in my price range with the guy at the shop, I walked past a cyclo-cross bike.  This wasn't a new bike, but well maintained.  We started talking about it, in particular the carbon fiber wheels.  Apparently they were custom made and there are only two sets in the world -both for this bike.  The shop guy walked around the corner and them came back with the spare front wheel and handed it to me.  Literally it weighed virtually nothing for a fully built wheel.  I just looked at him and said it felt like a Frisbee.  You could easily sail this this through the air a good distance because it was very rigid and lightweight.  Pretty much in the one-of-a-kind realm.  I know these aren't the most expensive wheels one could buy, but well out of my price range at $2000 a pair.  That's about 2/3rds of what I would like to be spending on a new bike.  A dream that appears as though it will continue to remain unfulfilled.
November 25, 2007 @ 12:08 am | Category:
Thursday, October 25, 2007

A New Yearly Record

So with this morning's ride I hit a new personal best yearly mileage total.  As of today I've ridden 3,196.55 miles.  This tops my previous best from 10 years ago in 1997 when I rode 3173.08 miles.  And even more than clipping the mileage mark, I've done it in a lot fewer, but longer rides.  In 1997 I rode 73 indoor and 81 outdoor rides for a total of 154.  So far this year I've "only" ridden 56 indoor and 59 outdoor rides for a total of 115 rides.  And I say only because unless the weather takes a dramatic downturn I plan to keep riding outside which is where I really roll up the miles.

I've got a good season in thus far even with the setbacks I've had the past couple of months with my back.  It's still not 100%, but it's pretty close most of the time.  Now if I can just avoid getting deathly ill in the next month I should wind up with a pretty nice yearly mileage total.  Unfortunately, the setbacks I've already had make it highly unlikely that I will make it to the lofty 4000 miles I mentioned previously.  And I never did get a second century in, nor do I see that happening at this point.  Maybe next year.

All in all I'm still plugging along.  With the days getting shorter and me riding so early in the morning, my 40ish mile rides is about the max I can do.  At that point I've just about out ridden the battery capacity of my lighting system.  Towards the end of my rides I struggling to see as the lamp begins to fade.  I'm contemplating buying some new higher capacity batteries as well as moving up from a 12W to a 20W lamp.  And possibly a 15W lamp for longer rides later in the season.  We'll see come next spring.  :)
October 25, 2007 @ 12:56 pm | Category:
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