KC/DC Cycle

Ride to live... live to ride

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sometimes I have back weakness. It doesn't hurt, but after a long ride I'll be very stiff. If there is a period of time when I don't ride like winter I'll experience it more extremely. To diminish this condition I try to exercise my lower back. Stretching helps as well.

Another related condition to bicycling fever is low bone density. So occasionally I take a long walk or a short run to give some density to the skeleton. Gotta keep the bones dense!

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What amazing weather we've had in DC in January. It couldn't be due to global warming (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Yesterday, January 15th, the high was 68 degrees. I took off at 10am after a medium breakfast. I was not carrying any water because the bike I was riding doesn't have a bottle cage installed yet. It's a 70's Japanese bike built for the Japanese market. It's totally commuter friendly: FULL fenders, front AND rear racks, big comfortable tires and a cute little bell mounted on the stem. I haven't weighed it yet, but it's definitely 25 lbs or more.

I set my pace very easy because I knew it would be a long trek after 2 weeks of not riding. The day was a holiday to most and traffic was on the lighter side. It's normally a very busy road, but I started after the normal rush anyway. I did have one driver squeal to a stop behind me. The rest of the ride down was fairly uneventful. When I shifted the front derailleur to the small chainring it had frequent trouble clicking into gear. I stopped at Performance to have them check it out. They generously squeezed me in and didn't find anything wrong.

I felt very strong. The ride thru the park was very pleasant. During the park ride I came across a guy on a Gunnar road bike. We jockeyed a little. I adjusted to his pace and we began talking. He was heading into Silver Spring like myself. We talked as we climbed out of the park into downtown Silver Spring and I had plenty of wind. I told him the history of my bike. He said he never under estimates a biker with downtube shifters.

I went to the office for a couple of hours. I drank some fresca and chilled for a while. About 2:30 I was on the road back toward home. I took a different route. I spent more time in the park. This meant really slowing down because I had to use some of the trail. By the time I got to the halfway point I bonked. I didn't realize how hungry I was. I went to McD's and spent $8.50. Double-quarter pounder meal with a Filet-o-Fish got my blood sugar/protein level up. I went to adjust my stuff on the rear rack and I noticed the bolts were loose. One had completely come out. I tightened the one that was still there. My energy level was coming up. It didn't happen right away, so conservatively I went back to a Metro station to take the subway a few miles out. I got there and the train was not on a holiday schedule even tho it was MLK day. They wouldn't allow the bike on the train for 3 more hours.

I got on the bike and headed on. My body was feeling stronger and I continued on. The road was fairly level and the weather was spectacular for any time of year, especially January. I wasn't as strong as my trip downtown, but I was gaining steam. I was gaining strength. I knew my muscles wouldn't endure if I pushed it, so I kept a conservative pace going. Occasionally I would need to sprint to merge into traffic. Each time I did I wondered if I'd pushed too hard. I kept most of my riding in the high speed spin range. I made it home with very tired muscles, but no headache like I often have after such a long ride after a 2 week break.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

New years day I went on the "I've done every ride this year" ride. I left Germantown to drive to the ride start which is in Mt. Airy. It was slightly overcast and comfortable (60 degrees maybe). When I arrived in Mt. Airy there was fog and it was cold. There were a couple riders already there and they were prepared for rain. As it approached ride time there were about 20 people there on new years day in the heavy fog. Most people picked up the cue sheet for 19.7 miles. There was one single mother there on a tandem with a add-on bike and a trailer. I was impressed! Everyone was saying they'd never seen that before. The oldest of the 3 kids was probably 8 or 9. Not much force in the power category.

There was a guy who showed up on this ride who had the nose of his seat pointed DOWN! I thought "he doesn't know what the heck he is doing". He had a mountain bike and seemed like a sane person. When the ride started he rode off in a wheelie! He stayed there as long as I saw him. Obviously he wasn't the fastest guy, but he was wheeling...

We started 25 minutes late after a group photo. This was my first ride with this group and my first ride after my bonk on Saturday. I knew I could do 20 miles standing on my head. The group took off very slowly and that was fine with me. There were a lot of young people 25-35 years old. They were impressed that I was out on my OLD '91 Paramount with fenders. One older guy commented that he couldn't believe the Paramount was my "beater" bike. He said that he would have been pissed off if I hadn't handled it so non-chalantly. I wasn't trying to impress anybody. I like to ride and this is one of my 3 bikes.

The small group I stayed with went at a very good pace. I'd say we were in the 16-19 mph pace. I followed cause I didn't know the route. About 5 miles into the ride a woman had a flat. I stopped to help and the rest of the guys waited ahead. My pump needs to be converted to presta and needed a wrench to do that, so we had to find another pump. (note to self - fix pump). I lent her my tire irons and another guy had a pump. She had previously worked as a mechanic so she could work quicker than I. She did fine. She couldn't get the pressure up in the tire tho. Finally it was sufficient.

We proceeded on and rode with a group of about 8 people that knew one another. Somewhere down the line someone realized that the cue sheet was incorrect and we had to backtrack to get on the right route. It was a good overall route and the heavy fog didn't create any problem. There weren't a lot of hills.

When we got back to the bike shop there were delicious fudge, cookies, pretzels and almonds to gorge on. Again I hadn't had breakfast and I paid the price. I need to remember to plan ahead in the morning.

About 2 weeks after my accident I did a 45 mile ride and it went well. No pain in the shoulder. We gathered in Germantown where I live. The group that organized the ride is Potomac Pedalers. There were about 30 people that showed up. It was a beautiful clear, warm late December day. I brought my nice racing road bike: no fenders or rack. I wear a fanny pack for the extras. I had an extra windbreaker jacket in the pack. It turned out a lot chillier than I expected that morning. The daytime highs were approaching 70, but early in the morning it was quite nippy. I really didn't know what to expect. I'd been off the bike completely for 2 weeks. Prior to that I hadn't ridden a lot because of my busy schedule. Would I even be able to complete the 45 miles? The pace was to be A to BB which is 16-20mph. That would be easy 2 weeks ago. How hilly would it be? I knew we were in the vicinity of Sugarloaf mountain and near Frederick, MD. That could be pretty challenging. Everyone had the really fancy expensive bikes and high tech clothing.

It's always fun on these group rides to see the bikes and special gear. Someone asked about my generator light and they thought it was cool, so I was among tech junkies. I belonged.

The ride started at a very easy pace and I saved my energy. I had gotten a cue sheet cause I didn't know this ride at all. When I realized the pace was too fast I knew I shouldn't be in the lead group so I dropped back a little. Then about 15 miles out I dropped the cue sheet and someone pointed it out. So I went and picked it up. NO MERCY! The group was GONE! I found my place on the cue sheet and proceeded, seeing them always cresting the next hill ahead of me. I got to a point where I wasn't sure the direction and had someone standing nearby point the way. Then I thought I'd made a wrong turn later on and a guy on a fixxie straightened me out. I was further behind. The fixxie friend rode with me till we reached the rest stop/turnaround at a little mom n pop convenience store.

It was still quite chilly, but I was very warm with my multiple layers. I was almost too warm but when I unzipped the jacket my injured shoulder tensed up. So I decided to continue on with the jacket on and zipped up. If my shoulder had been okay I would have put the jacket away. Imagine that in late December!

For the return ride I was back with the group. There were about 6 of us. We were moving along at a comfortable pace. As time went on and we would approach minor hills I found myself in the back of the group. I didn't want to push myself too hard but I just didn't have it in me. The two weeks away had sapped my stamina. My legs felt good, my cardio was good, but I was petering out on energy. I also hadn't had any breakfast.

It was a beautiful route and the day was bright and sunny. If this had been mid-summer there were plenty of shady areas to find relief from the heat. I can't wait for this ride in the summer. As it was, about 5 miles from the end, I bonked. My legs gave out. I had a minor spasm in my thigh. I was wasted. It could have been the "no breakfast" mistake or the two weeks off. I did well to finish, but I was well behind the pace of the other riders in my group.