Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ride It Like You Stole It

Click on photo to enlarge detail

I was stopped at a traffic light on my way home from the bike ride today. While waiting for the light to turn green, on the truck in front of me I stared at this bumper sticker (the upper one). Though it has the logo of Harely Davidson on it and it was surely referring to his motorcycle -- I couldn't help think to myself that I make this a New Year resolution. YES! That's going to be my mantra in 2009!

"Ride It Like You Stole It"

I'm going to get out there and ride this bicycle like I stole it! I'm going to give it my best on all the rides. This doesn't necessarily translate into a huge jump in mph, but just that I'll be laughing at the wind, and sucking the wheel in front of me.

I'm going to make every ride count for something. Perfer that some thing be a trimmer, stronger body. I'm going to strive to put forth more power on the bike. You betcha, I'll have the back of the pack (where I will still be riding) chasing me!! I'll be at least a sixteenth of a mile up ahead and reaching to ride with the MOP -- Middle 'o Pack -- riders. And this bike is going to steal my heart away.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cycled 10,000 Miles This Year

Congratulations to my friend, Toni, for reaching her personal goal of cycling 10,000 miles on her bicycle this year! She did some of the miles with the Stark County Bike Club, a few with Folks On Spokes Club, some week long organized bike tours (Florida, Indiana, and Wisconsin) as well as many times just riding around by herself - until she finally hit this nice even number! This year she turned sixty-five years (young). I greatly admire her energy, her commitment and love of cycling. I hope we can continue to spend many more times riding with each other. She is one special gal!

Don R. showed up for the 9:30 AM Stark County Bike Club ride that started from Lake Avenue parking lot - and he had this great banner of congratulations. Notice it is pink, of course! It was a total surprise to Toni when she arrived for the ride. Such fun.
Here we are posing with Toni just before the ride started. There were a couple more riders who were not in time for the group photo. The temperature was 30 degrees and SUNNY (such a rare occurrence in NE Ohio winter)! Nice ride. Map #182.
L-R: Ed G, Dave McK, Me, Mal J, Bill S., John S, Toni P, Gary F, Bob D, Mike B, Tom K, and Gary H.
Update to this blog entry: The next day the banner appeared at the ride out of Alpine Park. Some riders not present yesterday (and a few from yesterday too) stood in this picture. L-R: Dave McK, Ed G, John S, Larry J, Toni, Dick A, Steve C, Margie B, Judy S, John S (hidden). Another riding buddy, Margie, also is a member of the 10,000 mile club this year - approaching 11,000 miles. She holds the women's 'Most Miles Ridden' with the SCBC club this year.
Don, the instigator of this little surprise. Don too rode his bike 10,000 plus miles this year. He hasn't been on his bike though for the last month as he is recovering from surgery on his shoulder. The pink bike! (She owns two pink bikes) Toni is known and affectionately called "Pinky" by some of her friends. She is rarely seen in any color other than pink. Pink everything. She was in the pink looong before it became the color identified with cancer research.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Totally Addicted to Biking

Over heard while riding at the Back of the Pack on a recent ride:

"I already know that I'm "addicted" to riding. No doubt about that!! In fact, not to be on the dark side of a joke, but if you could get cancer from riding a bike too much, like getting cancer from smoking too many cigarettes, I'm sure I'd be on chemotherapy treatments as we speak!"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Flying Bike and Falling Riders

Click on the photo to see the damage!

What a crummy Scrooge type start to my day. This morning Miss Lady Madone was carried into Ernie's Bike Shop and directly to their ER room. Emergency surgery was performed by Dr. Mechanic, aka Erik, and she was back in the hands of her much relieved Sara in less than an hour. So here's what happened. I got distracted while putting the bike on the car rack as I was leaving for the 9:30 AM club ride. Since it was drizzling a little outside I wanted to cover the saddle with a plastic bag and use a little bungee to hold down the bag. I put the bike on the first hooks on the car --- BIG NO-NO -- and continued to do the baggie on the saddle. But then that distraction caused me to forget to buckle the straps. I should always do what Paul has told me a zillion times to do. Put the bike on the furthest inside hooks, right up next to the car bumper. Then if you forget to strap it. . . But I tend not to do that because it is hard to thread the bike all the way to the back. But I paid for it this time.

Well need I say it: I drove off and the bike was not secured with the buckles around the top tube. Drove the one mile down the street, stopped before turning on to Hwy 21 going south. I was just beginning to accelerate and I don't know what made me look into my rear-view mirror -- HORRORS! What I saw was all happening in slow motion. My Madone was flipping off the bike rack. I could see it take a bounce to the pavement and flip over to the side of the road. Thank you all you bicycle angels - there were no cars coming up behind me. I stopped and ran down the road to pick up my bike. SOB, sob, Sob! The wheels wouldn't move and the handle bar was all screwed up! All I kept thinking was, how much is this going to cost. Maybe only needs a new handle bar I thought. I drove to the ride start and three riders were getting ready for the ride. Thank goodness the ride started from the lot at Lake Avenue where Ernie's Bike Shop is. And it was open, even earlier than usual this Christmas Eve morn. Everyone looked over my bike and the consensus was it was fixable. I took it into the shop and they got to working on it. I left and ran an errand at the grocery store. On my return to the shop -- a Christmas miracle awaited me. My bike was back together. The wheels were true, the chain back on, the shifters, hoods and handlebar was all back in order. What a relief!

This little misfortune was, I hate to say it, a bit of a blessing in disguise. Not so good for the others. Peg called a few hours later to say it was a good thing I wasn't able to start out on the ride with them. All three were riding just out of Canal Fulton, coming up near NWHS, on a bit of a rise and BLAM!!! All three riders went down. Chuck K hit the black ice first and his bike went right out from under him. Then Peg, then Margie. All three hit that ice at the same time. Enough to ruin the ride for sure. They headed on back to Ernie's where Peg had to leave her bike to have the derailleur adjusted. No one expected that ice. For heaven's sake who would have thought when the temp was 40+ and light rain -- you'd think the ice would have melted. First report is everyone is OK. If I'd been on the ride I too would have been right there in the road sprawled out with them. My bike was fixed and I was spared, this time, the excitement on that ride.

Bike fixed. I put it on the safest spot on the rack!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Blue Blobs Result in This

I'm going to look reeeally close at the Accuweather local radar before the bike rides these days. Dakers told me to watch out for green, pink, and blue blobs covering Stark/Summit Counties. Or else I would be tooling along in this . . .

This photo was taken by a Portland, OR bike rider on his way to work today, viewed on Flickr. http://www.flickr.com/photos/bikeportland/

Top 10 Reasons to Ride in Winter

Al got it right when he came up with this list of Ten Reasons to Ride in Winter published in the January issue of SCBC Spokn' Word - club newsletter!

1. Polar Bears are cute
2. Santa's elves wear tights
3. Road salt is an acquired taste
4. Snow fills the Stark County potholes
5. The tingly feeling at the end of the ride
6. Mike Jones in shorts and short sleeves
7. Hot coffee, hot showers and saunas
8. I look good in a ski mask
9. Spandex and layers have a slimming effect
10. HotHands (tm) down the tights

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Clean Your Bike Garden Variety

Handy dandy tip here to clean your bike that I heard from someone while riding along in the 'back of the pack' one day. Using one of those garden sprayers (like mine pictured here), filled with water and a few drops of all-purpose cleaner, just pump the handle up and down to add some air pressure in the tank. Take the wand, pull the trigger and spritz off your bike. Gone is the road grime! And oh so handy to have along in the car for after the bike ride. Get back to your car take this sprayer and clean off the bike before putting it in your van/SUV/car-trunk/back-seat, or the bike-rack. Have a dry rag close by and just wipe it down after your bike's been sprayed off. No mud/snow/slush or gunk dripping off the bike all the way home. And your bike is clean for tomorrow's club ride! Isn't this just the neatest thing? I have gotten in the habit of bringing this out as soon as I get home and pull in the garage. Before I remove my bike from the car bike rack I wash the bike right away this fast and simple 2 minute way. A clean bike drives so much better.

You can get these at the hardware store or any big-box store. They are about fifteen bucks for a 2 gallon size. Less for a smaller one. Bring it out, go over to your riding buddy and offer to give his bike a little shower too before he puts his bike away. You'll be on his good buddy list for sure. And if you were to do this for Bob B - no telling he just may put you on his Candy List. Maybe.

The Masked Bicycle Bandit

Cold weather riding? Not a problem this year. Hey I found a couple of perfect solutions.
I wear my Scott Storm OTG goggles and my wonderful Gore Bike Wear Windstopper balacava. This face mask fits over my eye glasses, against the face very softly and is helmet compatible. Has nice ventilation holes around the face too. While on a trip in early November I went into my favorite store, REI (Recreational Equipment Inc). They had a huge selection of ski/face goggles. A very helpful sales clerk was very knowledgeable about which one would be ideal for using while bicycle riding. From his own experience, he said it would definitely keep the face much warmer. Those Minnesota bike riders surely know about riding in the cold - I lived in North Dakota right next door to Minnesota long enough to know what cold is! I had two criteria:
1. Had to fit over my eye glasses - comfortable and roomy
2. Had to be suitable to wear with a bicycle helmet. Be adjustable.
This goggle was designed with this in mind. It is high quality lens material, with anti-fog coating that prevents fogging up and quality construction so that one has good side vision while riding.
I look a little scary though, no? But when my eye area is getting hit with cold wind while flying down the roads the eyes can start to tear and the face feel so much colder. I will deteriorate into miserableness. This has been the greatest in those head winds and general cold weather riding.

Next best purchase was the Gore Bike Wear Windstopper Balaclava. It is a very light weight fabric, but don't let that Windstopper material fool you. It may feel thin and light, but it STOPS the wind all around the face, neck, ears and top of head. This one covers the top of the nose, yet is open for air, and over the mouth area it has a mesh pattern of small holes. These two things, my goggles and my balaclava all add up to a much more enjoyable ride in the wintertime.

Oh and I bought the face warmer, which is half the size of the full balaclava. Same material/brand. It's right here on Colorado Cyclist. It covers just the lower part of the face/nose/mouth and up on to the ears -- without covering the top of the head. I have used this a few times, but I like the full top of the head covered right now. I could though, wear this with a skull cap. Click on the highlighted words to view these items on the web.
Warning: It may be a good idea not to stop at the bank while out on your bike ride dressed in this garb. Could send the tellers into a frenzied panic mode : - )

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Gore-Tex vs Poor-Tex

(Click on photo to enlarge details)
When the weather turned cold I was wearing on all my rides full-cover Descente Neoprene Shoe Covers over my bike shoes . But I found Neoprene doesn't breathe very well. After a ride I would remove them from my shoes and they would be quite wet from sweat. This makes your feet colder. (See this blogger's comments on using Neoprene for the cold weather)

It seemed when I would ride in the cold and into the wind I could still feel some air coming through these booties. I noticed Dick A. duct-tapes his helmet holes shut with duct-tape. A permanent way to keep the wind out and his head warmer. I heard from the Back of the Pack, that back when Gore-Tex first came out everyone was rushing out to buy all sorts of bike clothing and accessories made with this waterproof, breathable, windproof miracle stuff. Gore-Tex this, Gore-Tex that. It is a bit pricey that's for sure. Thrifty Dick came out with his Poor-Tex! That is, duct-tape was just as good for him as the expensive Gore-Tex.

I had read in Runners World Magazine a couple of years ago that some runners in (frigid cold winters) Minneapolis would wrap their running shoes in duct-tape to close the mesh vents and to keep their feet warm. One morning a few weeks ago I was getting ready for a bike ride and I brought out a roll of sunny yellow colored duct-tape and decided to cover all the vents and holes on my road bike shoes. I wanted to see what it would do for the warmth rating. I was amazed! This trick really works!! I have found this to be another one of the best things I have done for comfort during this winter riding.

The bad thing is -- I'm afraid to find out what this duct-tape is doing to these $$$ Specialized Road Bike shoes. (Note to husband: Do not click on that link, or you will find out how much I spent on these bike shoes). I fear when I peel it off this Spring I will be stuck (literally) with adhesive all over the leather on the shoes. But notice, I have a spare pair just like the taped ones! Maybe I'll just leave the tape on for good -- and not have to find out what it has done to the shoes. I'll report the damage, if any, should I decide to peek under the tape. Hey, give this a try -- if you feel you need just a little something more to keep those tootsies warm when it is 19 degrees out and you are on a bike ride with me . . . and the other few crazies that are on a club ride in the winter here in Northeast Ohio.

Bicycle Lunch Box

(Click on photo for detail)
I love my Bento Box on my bicycle. It is the most handy thing. I first saw one of these in 2004 while on the tour of Ride The Rockies in Colorado. I searched for this and found two sizes. I bought both the large size and the smaller size. I sometimes put the smaller one right under the tip of the saddle -- on the top tube. The smaller one will hold gels, keys, or my cell phone. But I really like the one up front. I can carry my Fuji Finepix E900 Digital Camera in the Bento. Handy to whip open the velcro lid and access the camera quickly. It is great too for the cell phone. In the summer I always put my 'treats' in the Bento box. I carry dried dates and pop one of those in my mouth about every 45 minutes of continuous riding for a little 'fuel'.

Bento is a Japanese word meaning lunch box. These little bike Bento Boxes are used by triathletes too as they can quickly open it for their fuel, like GU Energy Gel while on the race. I purchased mine at http://www.trisports.com/. I've given a few of these away, and everyone loves them. And no, these little boxes do not interfere with your riding. Your legs don't touch it as you ride along.
See Toni's pink one on her bike. (scroll down to last photo) It is a FuelBelt brand. It has a zippered top closure. She says it keeps everything dry inside in a light rain. Of course hers is pink and you know she has to have it in pink! But this zippered one comes in black and red too. Can see these zip close ones here: Zippered Bento Box.
**Click on the photo to enlarge detail**

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Nifty Bike Fender

(Click on image to view close-up)
It is really irritating when I would like to draft the wheel in front of me when the roads are sloppy wet and/or it is raining and the spray flies right up in my face onto my eye glasses. It's cold and yukky and before long I can barely see. And not only that, my tush and all the way up the back of my jacket, clear up to the neck begins to look like, well, Sh** has been thrown at it. This disgusting brown slop (winter is especially the brown variety) sprays up from my own rear wheel.

Everyone in front of me needs a fender. If I ease up on my pace to avoid the spray from the bike in front of me, forget it, I lose my momentum and I'm sure to be dropped. On a recent ride the other day I saw Peg had outfitted one of her (many) bikes - a 'beater bike' - with a fender she had just bought in Ernie's Bike Shop. It was a seat post fender that telescoped to different lengths. She said it was very light weight too. Heaven forbid I add a gram of weight to my bike! So I tested it and ride behind her and it does a pretty descent job of keeping the crud off my face. Never seemed to make it in to the bike shop to buy one, so used the computer to look for them. REI has two pages of bike fenders, but couldn't find the one that was hers. I asked her what the brand was but I keep forgetting what she told me. But I saw this SKS Race Blade XL road bike fender set. It is a German company that makes these. I ordered it from Colorado Cyclist for $39.99. And free shipping for me too. Can't beat that . . .

What I like about it is that it took all of about 3 minutes to attach it to the bike. I was in a hurry the morning I put it on ready to go out on a club ride in heavy rain. I am glad it was so easy to attach. And it will be just a 2 second removal job too. It is very light weight too. Notice in the photo that the wires that come down from the fender have a piece of plastic that rests on the seat stays of the bike and two strips of rubber with holes (that can be cut to shorten to look better if you like) come around it and hooks it securely. It is light weight too. Another BIG plus with this one that I really like is it comes down a good way on the tire -- meaning it has great coverage and good shielding from keeping the rider behind me from the road spray. It past the test -- no one got any spray from my wheel. AND my jacket was perfectly clean - a little wet, but clean wet! I did not attach the front wheel fender. I need to fiddle with it some as the clearance between the tire and the down tube of the bike is narrow and I need to bend the wires I think. So there ya go -- another fine accessory for riding in the inclement weather.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

27 Miles of Gas in The Veins

I like this t-shirt. On most every ride it does feel like heaven to be out there riding like hell. But some rides . . . well they're just hell from start to finish.
*Rant On*
"In their veins gas flowed, but in mine only blood flowed."
I burst my lungs and crushed my legs while I busted (hoping it trimmed?) my butt this morning giving it my all to catch up with the Wolf Pack. Right from the get-go I was BOP (Back Of Pack). Didn't even make the turn onto Greensburg Road a mere four tenths of a mile from the starting gate and I knew it was going to be a struggle of a cold weather ride. The group dropped me like I was something that had fallen off a tall building. What gives? Just yesterday I was riding in a driving rain for twenty three miles and I was right there hanging in and even taking turns with the pull. The three of us were not going a snail's pace either, we were moving. The brisk 12 mph headwind didn't really slow us one bit. The chilly rain was only a minor distraction. I was dressed for the wet and was warm. Even with all the extra clothes which surely sets up more resistance, I was keeping up.

This morning Accuweather showed it was going to be warmer at the start; 31 degrees, no rain, no snow, and half the wind of yesterday blowing in at about 6 mph. So I dressed a tad lighter today. Only three layers on top - my Craft zip-T, a short sleeve Smartwool zip-T, and my windproof Gore Wear Phantom jacket. For the first time in cold weather season even skipped the packs of Toastie's hand warmers in my gloves. I wore two layers of gloves. First few miles I had the usual numbness/cold in the fingers, but by four miles the blood was into the fingers and that was no longer a distraction. As I drove to the ride start I was thinking I had a fighting chance to get to ride with a little group.

I pretty much knew who would be showing up. It's very cold these days, and I thought it would be just like yesterday, and we would stay together. Things just looked better overall from yesterday. No rain, tad warmer, decent route over-all. - meaning not too many climbs for long stretches.

When I didn't make the turn onto Mayfair Road the last rider in the pack was holding up. The other four in the lead were like shots out of rockets. I just don't get it. How come these people are riding even FASTER in this cold weather? I said something about that to one of these riders a few weeks ago. Said something like, "Seems like a lot of you are riding really fast in this cold weather." The response was, "We all ride slower this time of year." Well you cannot prove that by me! No, honestly they are riding faster than ever!

I'm coming around the turn onto Mayfair and my fingers are frickn' cold. This is a distraction for me. Instead of being able to fully concentrate on moving forward my mind is on these freezing digits. At this point I was sorry I didn't wear mitts with a HotHands pack dropped in. My only hope was that soon there would be some blood getting to the fingers and they would warm up. Thank God that happened about four miles into the route.

The rider who saw me falling back pulled in to a drive-way, stopped, and was fending a clothing adjustment. Yeah, right. He would have been able to start up again, ride off in a flash, and catch right back up with the Wolf Pack. I pedal on past him and he slips in behind me. Now I'm really nervous. This rider was just doing this so I wouldn't be by myself. I should appreciate that, but it made me nervous because now I feel I have to push harder than ever, not let up my pace one iota. I don't want him to feel he is enduring a boring ride with this slow rider. I did not slow up to do a little chit-chatting, because then that would really slow everything down. I start talking, and the pace just naturally eases up. From somewhere I had a surge of energy - my legs were about this time getting loosened up so I could pick up the tempo. How come the Wolf Pack's legs were warmed up and turning the cranks like they were jet-fueled the minute they got on their bikes? It's not fair. I'm going to blame it on my age, too much clothing, exercised induced asthma, and closed restrooms. Huge distractions and discomfort to be riding with the bladder not completely empty! The restrooms are closed there this time of year.

So here I am a little ways in front of him and he lets me kind of pull for the next 25 miles. Every downhill I would push and pull on those cranks with everything I had, never letting up. And coming up some of the hills I was for most of them holding a satisfying clip. Still, the Wolf Pack was out of sight. I was hoping that we wouldn't get caught at any traffic lights, or delayed at any cross streets at the stop signs to wait for traffic. I was hoping that the Wolf Pack hit every traffic light and got slowed up by traffic at every stop sign! All of us must have hit those obstacles in sync, because I never approached a signal and saw them - until - mile nineteen. They were pulling away from a traffic light. The competitive juices were ignited and started to flow and I tried so hard to try and reach their tails. I just wanted to be part of their group, to ride with them, to draft along with them. I wonder if they saw me back there? Did it occur to slow up just a wee little bit so I could catch up? No, because I know what it is like to be riding 'up ahead'. When was the last time anyway? And here's the thing. You have this nice momentum going, you are rolling along and your speed is constant, you are in this neat, exhilarating groove and it takes a lot to give that up, even for three or four minutes that it would mean for the one within sight behind you to catch up. I admit it is hard to give that momentum up when I'm riding in a little group.

But I was closing in. Dang! The hill on Cottage Grove bent skyward and my automatic transmission dropped down a gear. I saw them rounding on to Christman. My riding buddy who was still sheparding me close behind makes the turn with me. I slow up and say, "I give up!" " I thought I had a good chance of catching them." He came out in front of me and hammered it -- it was hard to keep up, I'd spent so much of myself trying to reach the lead group, that now I was ready to just give up the whole idea. But I gave what I could to stick in behind him as close as I could. It was hard. He really pulled us both in close to the flyers. Finally after the hills on Main street and left onto Mt Pleasant the leaders were pausing at the stop sign at Arlington. I do believe they saw us coming up and actually decided to take mercy and wait for us.
Twenty seven miles, that's all it took. I was there at the stop sign and ready to roll. Though I fell back once again, I was by this time tired. They sure weren't tired though. Up and down the hills they flew. I rolled into the parking lot of the starting location and thanked the nice club member who stayed with me the whole time. Why was I near tears? It was just so hard today. I just want so much to be able to ride with a group in this cold weather and not see the Wolf Pack up there within sight and have to struggle like he** to reach them. But I would never want them to have to sacrifice their fun to slow down for me either.
*Rant Off*