Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Nine Months Gone

Today marks nine months along in my quest to bike commute every day for a year. To honor the occasion, Old Man Winter, himself, decided to frost the town with a new couple of inches of snow. While I am not in any way interested in having more snow on the roads, it at least covered the black remnants of last month's snow over so that we no longer have to look at the rotting corpse of a White Christmas.

I left the house, this morning, with the same amount of layers I had on yesterday, with the addition of a short-sleeved bike jersey to give me a little more core protection. As I walked past the thermometer, I realized I was probably overdressed since it was 24 degrees!

Thirty seconds later, as the moisture from my breath froze into a thin layer of frost on my face, I realized that I had mis-read the thermometer. It was, in fact, 2.4 degrees F (11 degrees when I arrived at work).

The snowy streets were pleasant to ride. The snow had come down wet and heavy, and provided great traction for the studded tires.

I made it to the lab in 40 minutes, only to find that the gate on the west end of the parking lot was still closed. Sighing that heavy sigh of the put-upon, I pulled out my keycard and swiped the gate release.


Tried it again.

Still nothing.

So, I rode around to the other (open) gate on the east end of the parking lot. I have to say that the extra half mile of riding was not really what I wanted at that moment. I had, in my mind, arrived at the door and was ready to go inside. Another three or four minutes of riding was not really on my list of things to do.

Needless to say, however, I survived.

The ride home was a breeze. The only slowdown was waiting for a train of empty cattle cars to cross Holly at Smith Road. Once past that impediment, I had smooth sailing to the house.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Chapter 29, In Which I Dispatch Yet Another Deflated Inner Bladder Upon My Velocipede Thus Amazing The Natives And Saving The Day

It is quite amazing how heaven-sent a headwind of some six to seven miles to the hour can seem when compared to one of 30.

This morning, I left the house after noting that the thermometer was reading 18 degrees F, with the aforementioned slight headwind. I wished a "Good morning" to the lady whom I usually meet as she perambulates down my street, and made my way with some dispatch over to and across Evans Avenue. My legs were tired, but I felt good with the wheel under me.

Traffic was in short supply, again, this morning and the snow/ice was almost completely melted away after the last few, warmish, days. In place of glittering ice, though, I noticed a surfeit of glittering glass on the pavement. I did my best to avoid it, as would any gentleman of the bicyclette (or gentlewoman, for, indeed, they do exist) and continued on.

The sound of my steed's studded tires upon the pavement gave me pause to think that I need either to swap tires or, perhaps, even bicycles to better match the conditions. Snow was forecast for the afternoon leg of my journey, so I stayed with the studs for today.

As an aside: I saw, yesterday, that I have lost a small number of studs from the front tire, and the remaining studs on the centerline of both tires are beginning to show some wear. I suppose one should post the funds for the stud tool and a bag of replacements. I know they are listed as available for the Innova tires, if any kind purveyor of such items has them in stock.

I arrived at work after 35 minutes of a most pleasurable spin through the darkened city streets, and I must say I was feeling pleased with my efforts. Even without the leaden feeling in my legs, making my normal time in on the big tires seems like an accomplishment. Just before lunch, however, I lost a little of that convivial feeling when I noticed that the air pressure inside the front tire had seemingly equalled out to that of the surrounding atmosphere.

I did not allow that the barometric pressure had increased that much, so I checked and, sure enough (sir!), the air formerly inside the tube was now somewhere outside of it. It had apparently exited through some breach in the rubber membrane.

My mind immediately turned to the diamond-like glitter of broken glass I had observed on the predawn streets.

Further inspection seemed to clear the glass of any culpability, however. The offending escape route turned out to be a very small, round aperture suspiciously similar in size and shape to the distal end of the infamous "goat-head thorn".

I glued a patch over said portal of deflation, and replaced the tube into the tire. Two hundred twenty five strokes of my frame pump later, the wheel was ready to roll. Start to finish, fewer than fifteen minutes had passed. It is quite amusing how much quicker that seems when sitting in a nicely heated building than when you are crouched on the side of a dark road, brushing the snow off of the patch kit as you work, like an Eskimou of the Frozen North stripping blubber from a seal.

The return trip, this fine evening, was uneventful. The Gods smiled upon me and provided a gentle push, in the form of a tail-wind, for my entire journey and I arrived some 44 minutes after departing the laboratory.

The temperature was a moderate 32 degrees F (or 0 degrees C as our European brothers would have it), and I encountered only the slightest of a flurry consisting of sand-grain sized snowflakes.

Indeed, a gentleman could not ask for a much nicer ride upon his dandy horse on a January afternoon.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

This Post Blows

I rode to work with a 30 mph headwind, today, which gusted to close to 40 mph according to the TV weather gal. There was one point on the ride where I was giving it all I 6 miles per hour!

At least traffic was not too bad. As a matter of fact, I've noticed that traffic has been lighter than usual, the past couple of days. I don't know why that would be, but the crossings I've made at 17th, 6th, Alameda, and Leetsdale have been pieces of cake, compared to the normal run of things.

I've been leaving work at the same time in the afternoon, when I've noticed this phenomenon, so I don't know what's going on. Not complaining, though; just an observation.

The ride home was a lot less windy than this morning's effort. The wind was mostly from the west, and the houses on the neighborhoods I travel through tend to shelter me a bit from westerly winds. Hopefully, weatherdotcom has it right, and I'll get a tailwind in the morning.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Springlike, Today

I have to admit that I enjoyed the temperatures, today. It was 44 degrees when I left, this morning, and 46 degrees when I got home, this evening. I really didn't enjoy the 22 mph headwind on the way home, though, nor the 30 mph gusts which went along with it.

I guess it's supposed to be cooler, tomorrow, with a slight chance of snow, overnight. That's more like what I'm used to. (Of course, the wind is due to shift around and be in my face again, tomorrow morning.)


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Changes to LeMond

Made some changes to the LeMond, today. I'm not sure why, since I haven't ridden the thing in two years, or so. But, it was once my main bike, and I think I'll put some miles on it, this year.

I had already put On-One Midge bars on it (with my favorite handlebar tape scheme), and bar-end shifters.

Now, it has a more upright stem, to bring the drops of the bars up to where they need to be for optimum use.
I also swapped out the crappy old v-brakes I had put on it "temporarily", 7 years ago. It now sports Avid Shorty cantilevers.

Less knobby, 35c tires will roll better on the pavement, and still work fairly well on dry dirt. I could have used these, today, on the ride that B, Br and I took. We rode an upaved section of the Highline Canal Trail, and it was covered in packed snow and ice for much of the distance we rode.
I was on the orange Peugeot, with 35c slicks on it. The wide tires, at a fairly low air pressure, worked pretty well, but I would have felt a lot more confident on the slick stuff if I had been running a little tread.
Earlier in the ride, as we rode along the South Platte Trail, just south of Dartmouth Avenue, a bald eagle flew over us with a still-wriggling fish in his talons.That would have been an awesome sight out in the wilderness, but I was just gob-smacked to see that in the middle of town!
I totalled up about 23 miles, today, and felt pretty good about it. The old Peugeot has to be the most comfortable bike I have ever ridden, both in ride quality and fit. The wind actually wasn't even noticeable until I was almost home, and the temps were in the low 50's by then. Of course, that's supposed to change for the commute/work week.
But, that's okay. Every day that passes brings us that much closer to Spring and Summer!
(Does anyone know why Blogger will sometimes remove your paragraph breaks when you publish? That's what's up, in the block of text just above this, and it drives me nuts!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Today was my 150th day of commuting. Considering that 268 calendar days have passed, since May 1, I was kinda shocked that I had only worked 150 of them. Weekends, vacation, holidays, sick all adds up, I suppose. One hundred eighteen days off in that span.

Makes me think I should stop complaining about having to work for a living. Still, though, that's 56% of my days at work...

And, Hell's Bells! Here's the mileage I've accumulated on the pink bike since I zeroed the computer, last summer:

That was on my way out the door, at work, this afternoon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bootleg Sessions

Burd Phillips, the man behind the awesome design of, sent me a copy of his new production, Bootleg Sessions, last week. I finally got it into the DVD player, tonight.

Bike Snob NYC Disclaimer: the DVD contains fixed gear freestylers doing their thing, front Aerospoke wheels, tight jeans, rear Aerospoke wheels, tall bikes, gratuitous skidding and other things which the Snob and his minions find so vexing. That, alone, makes Bootleg Sessions worth the price of admission.

Includes awesome freestyling, cool soundtrack, some humor and great production for a rider-shot feature.

Got to and order your own copy. Tell 'em Jon sent you.


A Slight Chill In The Air, This Fine Morning

The TV weather-girl said it was 1 degree F in Denver, just before I walked out the door. My thermometer on the front porch was reading 2.8, as I left. Yay! I got an extra 1.8 degrees on the rest of the city! Of course, the windchill was still -15, but I had little exposed skin to worry about, so I didn't even factor that in to my "personal comfort perception".

Yesterday's skiff of snow was frozen on the ground, crackling under the tires as I rode across the front yard, to the street. A full moon did more than my two headlights to light the way between streetlamps.

I could feel the moisture from my breath freezing on my face before I got to the stop sign at the end of the street, and I was glad that I had added an extra layer of clothes, up top. I was still a little cool as I began the ride. I knew that I would chill as I crossed the bridge over Cherry Creek, but that I would also slightly overheat as I climbed up out of the drainage via the short, steep hill on Dahlia, two miles from the house.

Sure enough, that came to pass, along with the initial fogging of the glasses/goggles at the top of the hill. I've tried rubbing soap on the lens, using a commercial anti-fog spray, even the old diver's trick of spitting on the lens and polishing it off. Nothing seems to work when the temperatures are below 10 degrees.

So, I pulled the old safety glasses downward on my nose, a little, to let air circulate, and they cleared as I rode over the first patch of glare ice I had encountered. As I was feeling thankful for the studded tires, I swung left to pass by the newspaper carrier who was coming up the wrong side of the street.

I understand that these guys want to drive on the left in order to facilitate throwing the fishwrap into people's bushes, but I wish they would maintain a steady course as I go by. The guy, this morning, did so, and I was glad. Most days, I meet at least one of these guys who feels like he has to get on the right side of the road so that I can go by. Of course, they pull across the street, just as I swing left to go by them, and we end up doing the on-road version of the "hallway dance".

My fingers were beginning to get a bit chilly, so I alternated taking one hand off of the bars and flexing a little warmth into the digits, then repeating with the other, for a few blocks until I got some blood flowing. I still haven't found my misplaced snowboard mitts, and I may just break down and buy some. That's usually the surest way to find the lost items.

Once more money is spent, the fairies return the missing originals so that you have redundant equipment. Of course, then it will be time to lose the right hand mitt from each pair, or something.

Once my hands warmed back up, they stayed fairly comfortable all the way to the lab. My toes never got uncomfortably cool, and the rest of me was just right for the conditions. I rolled into the building 38 minutes after I left, showing a max speed of 21.5 mph (may be why my hands got cold), and feeling good.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Pacing A Ride

Yesterday, when we were through with our coffee, Br and I took a casual ride down the bike path. Br was on his new 29er, and I was on the pink bike. The pace was relaxed, what I call a "conversational Pace", which allowed us to talk as we rode, but still required some effort.
It was nice to get out and just ride.
So many weeks, during the winter, I find myself only riding for utility. In other words, I don't get on the bike unless I have somewhere to go. And, while I enjoy every ride, it's really nice to just amble along, with no particular destination in mind, and let the road pass by under your wheels.
We ended up riding about 15 miles, finishing up at my house (of course, Br continued on to his own house, eventually). Sean, from Rol Wheels, pulled up about two minutes after we got here and dropped off my new Volants for the cross bike.

Fancy-schmancy wheels for a guy like me!

I should say "for the cross bike I will soon be building up", since they won't be going onto the LeMond. It is going to do duty as my long-distance road/tour bike, and I hope to build up a race-worthy crosser as parts fall into my hands. I should be able to do a relatively nice build, inexpensively, by the time Cross season rolls around.

Will I race Cross, this year? Maybe, maybe not. But, I want to have a bike available, just in case. More on that as parts/frames come to hand.

In the meantime, I need to start doing some faster-paced rides. Hopefully, the snow will melt, soon, and I will be able to get out on some preparation for training rides. Then, when the weather and daylight allow, I can actually do some hard-effort, long-distance mountain bike rides to start preparing for Moab (and, maybe, Cross season).


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Civil Discourse

As I was shoveling snow, this morning, I decided to clear the snow off of the Nissan. When I did, I found the note I had left on the Pontiac which was parked across the end of my drive, the other day.

I thought the guy had probably just thrown it away, but he wrote a reply on it and stuck it on my car.

It's hard to see in a scan (apparently his pen was short on ink), but at the bottom it says,

"I apologize 4 the inconvenience."

Quite all right, old chap. Just don't let it happen, again.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cold, But Dry

I put my studded tires on in anticipation of the snow which never arrived. But, we at least got some cool temps.

It was 4.8 degrees F on the digital thermometer, when I left the house, this morning. It had warmed up to 6 by the time I got to work. Heat wave.

I couldn't find the overmitts for my snowboard gloves, so my fingers got a bit chilly for a while. They warmed up, though, about the time I started overheating because I had added one extra layer of clothes on my torso. It was one of those odd rides where I alternated from just a little too cool to just a little too warm.

The ride home, however, was about as good as it gets, this time of year. I was comfortable, temperature-wise, and I accidentally made good time. I got home in 42 minutes, without ever feeling like I was pushing particularly hard.

At work, three different people remarked to me that they were impressed that I had ridden in throughout the cold and snowy weather. I told each of them that it was probably a good thing I had started the daily riding during good weather. By the time the weather turned cold, riding was part of my morning routine, and it really didn't seem like such a big thing.

If I had to start a new routine, and ride in the cold, I would have had a much harder time of it. As is, it's just a different set of conditions that I encounter in the normal course of the day.

Oh, well. Time to go to bed, so that I can get up and ride through the cold again, tomorrow morning.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Derriere Chapeau

Katina uses a slightly more earthy, Anglo-Saxon form of the phrase for people like this.

I came home from work, today to find a Pontiac G6 parked in front of my house. It is my belief that the businesses across Iliff Avenue should provide their employees with either adequate parking facilities, or a bus pass, rather than having them park up and down my street.

However, they don't, so I usually have a car or two in front of the house when I get home. No big deal; I have a driveway to park in, so they don't really inconvenience me.

Unless they do this:

I could get my truck out (and, yes, I do occasionally drive the thing), but it would require squeezing up against the neighbor's fence and driving over the curb.

I left a note stuck in the driver's side door which reads, "Please don't block my drive or I will have you towed."

I hope that is plain enough.

Temp Tag #239045F, Expires January 25, 2008, Purchased at Alpine Pontiac, Buick, GMC


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Milestone Time

I passed the 2500 commuter-miles mark on the way home, today. It was a beautiful evening, temps in the mid 40s with only a slight headwind.

Eight and a half months have gone by since I decided to ride to work every day for a year, and I've ridden 145 round trips. Some days have been easier than others, but they have all been good.

We are supposed to get a blast of arctic air (lows around zero F) and 2 or 3 inches of snow, tonight. So, tomorrow, I will try out the new studded tires on the SnowCat rims. Hopefully, the wider profile will help in the snow, as the studs help on the ice.

It's pretty easy to find a setup which works in deep snow (chains) or packed snow (SnowCats), or dry roads (duh!). But the days when the snow is intermittent, and icy patches cover stretches of road, are hard to deal with. We'll see how this works, over the next couple of days.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Intolerable Rudeness

I had a big, long diatribe written out in my head about something that happened on the bike trail, today. But, upon further reflection, I have decided to not post it. Rudeness does not need to be answered with further rudeness.

Still, it sometimes amazes me how self-centered people can be.


The Garmin Game

I'm still not sure how usable the Garmin is going to be for me. I don't care for the lack of an "auto-on" function. In the old days, only the high-end cyclometers had that function, and I was always forgetting to turn my CatEye off, or on. I was very happy when that became a standard feature on cyclometers.

The Garmin will tell you your speed, regardless of whether the timer is going, but it won't track mileage or elevation changes.

Also, the battery life seems to be quite a bit less than the 12 hours promised in the owner's manual. I used it for 2 - 1/2 hours, today, and the battery display is showing a half-charge.

Ah, well. I'll give it some more use before I make my mind up about it.


Friday, January 11, 2008

I Am Truly a Gadget Geek

Case in point, my new Garmin bicycle-GPS. I haven't used it yet, but I'm going on a ride with RV and some guys tomorrow. So, we'll see just how cool it is, then.
Film at eleven.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Speedy Gonzales, Yup, That's Me

For the first time in about 3 weeks I actually made it to work and back home within my normal time.

The snow was pretty much gone, this morning, but I knew it was supposed to snow in the afternoon. So, I aired the tires on the pink bike up to 50 psi, and took off. Thirty three minutes later, and I was at the lab.

Ten minutes before I left to come home, I looked outside and saw the snow coming down sideways. It was beginning to stick on the road, but traction was still good. I left the higher air pressure in the tires and hauled butt for the house.

Forty six minutes of headwind, wet snow and little to no visibility later, I was back at the house.

Every time I write one of these, "it's so snowy" entries, I think of Jill Up In Alaska. She makes me feel like a sissy to even mention the weather here in Denver!


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Saturday Morning Coffee Shop Ride

It's so nice to ride on streets that aren't covered in ice, with normal tires and standard gearing! The past couple of days, with temps in the 40s and 50s have done wonders for the road, and my mood!

I know we are supposed to get another couple of inches of the white stuff within the next 48 hours, or so. But, for now, I am enjoying the near 60 degree temps (54F when I left for Kaladi Bros., this morning). I plan on catching up on my backlog of bike work, now that it's warm enough to stay in the shop for a while.

Of course, the roads are wet, and none of my fendered bikes have fenders on them, right now. Maybe I should install some while I'm working on other people's bikes today.

Even the rear rack on the Miami Vice bike is without the deck on top which acts as an anti-skunk-stripe feature on some racks. So, I put together a ghetto fender on the way out the door:

It consists of a plastic bag (Performance Bicycles), with some crappy down-tube splash-guard (from a random bike I picked up somewhere) to hold it down, attached to the rack with a toe strap (handiest item this side of duct tape).

It's not pretty, but it gets the job done. Just like the Head Mechanic here at Grinder Bikes!


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Friday, January 04, 2008

Phone woes

I sent out a mass email about this; but if you were accidently left off and want me to have your number, please email it to me or give me a call and leave a message.

My phone died a sudden, horrible, tragic and unexplained death, today. I turned it off and back on, and got the blue screen of death.


But, through the magic of warranty service, I was able to get a new phone. My call data, numbers, etc., alas, died along with the old phone.

So, give me a jingle and drop me your digits!


Anarchy on the Streets

I love riding my bike, in general. More so, I love commuting by bike; it is gratifying on many levels (most of which I have touched on here, before, so I won't rehash all that). That said, I sometimes dislike the fact that commuting on city streets puts me in contact with a lot of Less-Than-Courteous drivers.

Today, I had two experiences with such drivers in a four mile span. LTC Driver #1 was a lady in an Acura of some sort who, apparently, is the most important person in Denver. As I rode down the street, in a residential neighborhood with a posted speed limit of 25, I was doing 15 mph on the snow. Since I was obviously holding her up, this "lady" passed me...on the ice and snow...between two rows of parked cars.

Problem was, we were approaching the intersection with Montview Ave, a fairly major street, and she didn't have room to actually pass me before we reached the stop sign. So, she simply drove beside me, in the wrong lane, and stopped at the sign, still in the wrong lane!

This is not the first time I have had someone do this. And, every time it happens, I wonder what's going to happen if someone on the cross-street wants to turn, and there is a car in their lane, and me in mine. I was not happy with that, to begin with.

Coming down Montview, from our left, was a kid, 11 or 12 years old, on a 24"-wheeled mountain bike. He was in the bike lane, and just riding along. When he got about 15 feet from the intersection where I and the Most Important Person In Town were sitting, MIPIT decided to cross the road in front of him, causing him to have to hit the brakes and swerve to his right to avoid being run over. Luckily, he just fishtailed around a little and didn't fall.

He looked at me, as I flipped the bird to MIPIT, with an expression that said, basically, "What the hell was that all about?"

"You can flip her off, too, if you want," I told him. "She deserves it." So, he smiled at me, hoisted a finger at the back of MIPIT's car, and continued on. As did I.

Four miles further along, as I was crossing over Cherry Creek on the Holly Street bridge, I encountered LTC Driver #2. The Holly Street bridge is new, and is the first of two new spans going across the creek to replace the old span which had structural issues. Currently, it has one lane eastbound, and two lanes westbound (the direction I was heading). The center lane is the through lane, and the outside lane, against the rail of the bridge, is a right-turn only lane.

As I crossed the bridge, there were four vehicles in the right-turn lane, and the through-lane was empty. I pulled up to the "wait here" stripe on the raod, next to a an older Chevy S-10 pickup, and went straight, when the light turned green. I always go across the intersection, angling toward the curb at this point, so that I can get into a small park and use the bike path to enter the neighborhood through which I ride to Evans Avenue.

Usually, no big deal.

This time through, I heard a horn blow. As I usually do when I hear a horn, I ignored it and just kept pedalling. But, the horn sounded again, unceasing.

You know the drill...lean on the button and hold it down. So, I turned and looked. The sound was coming from the S-10, which was proceeding straight through the intersection from the right turn lane. Apparently, I was slowing him down.

So, I did what I normally do, again, and stopped in the middle of the road. I think it's good for people like that to be able to compare a temporary slowing-down with actually coming to a halt. I should have been a teacher, as I truly love the concept of learning through interactive experience.

More horn-blowing ensued, so I turned around and rode up the driver's side window to see if the button was malfunctioning. The old codger in the truck looked like Ted Kaczynski, on his way back to the Unabomber Shack after a hard day of manifestoing.

The old guy, let's call him the Unadriver, cracks the door open as I ride up, rather than rolling the window down. Pretty smart of him to keep the glass between him and me, I suppose.

"You're in the right-turn lane," I say to him, amazingly enough in a conversational tone. No yelling, cursing or name-calling at all, I want to point out, as I was trying to actually let this guy know he was being kinda rude.

"NOI'MNOTI'MINTHELEFTTURNLANE!" he literally screamed at me, with spit spraying on the window glass (I'm glad he left the window up!). "

No," I said, still in that conversational tone, "you aren't. There is no left-turn lane." And, if there was, I thought later, why would you be going straight?

"I'MINTHELEFTTURNLANE!" again, spit flying. I had a sudden vision of the Crazy Cat Lady from the Simpsons. I was just glad he didn't hurl any tabbies at me!

At this point, I was weary of the Socratic dialogue we were having, and turned my bike around to continue on. Unidriver took the opportunity to peel out through the intersection in front of me. I'm sure he saw this as some kind of victory, though it probably never will occur to him that if I had been in any kind of hurry, I wouldn't have stopped to talk to him.

I then crossed the intersection, again, and rode into the park, chuckling at the absurdity of the whole thing, but tense from the encounter. By the time I got home, I was in a pretty black mood. I emptied my panniers and went to the grocery store to pick up some dog food, and other little things I was short on.

On the way back, every driver I saw made me think, "What a moron!" So, I recognized that I was not really in my happy place (although, unlike Steve S., I don't think mine has been nuked).

I went home, made dinner and had a couple of G&Ts for dessert. By morning, I was happy, again. The temps were relatively warm (34 degrees F), and every driver I encountered on the way to work seemed to give me extra room on the road. As usual, my self-medication of sleeping on it then taking a bike ride has pulled me out of my funk. Still, I needed to share. Venting is good for the soul.

Thank you for your time.


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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

First Tracks 2008

That's what Noah called his challenge to all of us to commute to work on our first day of the new year. Of course, as part of my own challenge to myself to bike commute every work day from May 1, 2007 to May 1, 2008, I would have ridden anyway. Still, it's nice to participate.

I left the house at 6 degrees F, which wasn't too bad in itself. I added an additional fleece layer, up top, and wore my ear protector thingy along with my little thin beanie and the hood on my LeMond winter jersey. Otherwise, I dressed in my normal "chilly morning" attire.

I once again rode the pink bike, with the SnowCats. I'd rather be riding the fixed gear, but the weather we've had lately makes it hard to deal with my tire choices on that bike. On the Miami Vice fixie, I am limited to choosing between the snow chains, or my standard tires. With long stretches of dry pavement interspersed with long stretches of packed snow, the wide soft tires on the pink bike work better than either of those choices, overall, though not as well as one or the other in the extremes.

This morning, however, I found myself wishing for studded tires. The weather we have had, lately, has produced a cyclist's nightmare on my commuter route. The sun has shone just enough to melt the very top layer of snow, in many places, but not enough to evaporate the moisture. So, in the afternoons, you end up with water sitting on top of ice.

In the mornings, as I found out, today, that water has refrozen into a glassy, polished sheen with a coefficient of friction closely approximating zero. Twice, on the way to work, I was cruising right along when, without warning, the front wheel decided to simply slip to the right and throw me to the ground. Both times, I got up and just continued on, with no apparent damage, but it was annoying, to say the least. I was riding so slowly that my normal 35 minute commute (40 in the snow, lately) took me 48 minutes.

I got to work and noticed that the hook which holds one of my panniers to the bottom of the rack had broken off during a crash. So, alittle damage. Then a couple of hours later, I noticed my left knee was tender and swollen. A little more damage.

I got the bag secured, with no problem. The knee was no big deal. But, all day long, I wondered what was going to confront me on the way home. The weather forecast called for temps in the upper thirties and sunshine. Would that improve the road conditions, or further degrade them?

The ride home was slow; slushy in places, snowy in others, with very little dry pavement on my homeward route. It took me an hour, exactly, to ride the 8.9 miles to the house. It's pretty simple math to figure out my average speed...

Tough ride, but, as always, fun and satisfying. I tell you, the ride back and forth is the only reason I even go to work, some days!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

24 Hours of Moab

One last post for the day...

I just pulled the trigger and signed up as a solo rider in the 24 Hours of Moab, which takes place October 11 and 12.

Wish me luck...I'll need it!

A Small Improvement

I turned off the Word Verification thingy on the Comments, because it annoys me. I'll only turn it back on if I start getting a bunch of Spam comments.

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Mileage Blather

Now, I need to zero out all of my cyclometers. Apertome and Noah keep detailed records of their mileage, even down to the miles per type of riding they do. I did the same thing years ago, but stopped some time back. Blogger peer pressure is forcing me to resume.

I think I will keep a record, this year (but I will only bother to divide it into commuting and non-commuting miles) and see how many miles I pile up.

I have a spreadsheet at work which keeps a running total of my commute, so I can handily subtract that from my monthly total to get those two values.

I will have to estimate the mileage on the orange Peugeot. It seems somehow sacriligeous to put a cyclometer on that bike.

I hope to accomplish four things, this year (and they all involve my mountain bike). To wit:

1. To put 1,000 offroad miles on the mtb. I guess I have to keep a separate total of that too.
2. Ride in Crested Butte. 15 years in Colorado and I've never been there!
3. Ride the White Rim Trail in a day.
4. Race the 24 Hours of Moab, again.

Wish me luck.


NYD Ride

By the time I left the house, the temperature on the front porch had risen to a balmy 6.3 degrees F, and the sun was peeking over the horizon. I made my way to Kaladi Brothers, taking my time and enjoying the morning, but still managed to get there 15 minutes before they opened. Luckily, they took pity on me, as I stood outside waiting, and let me in early.

I claimed the prized corner table, and waited to see who would show. B, D and T had all left me regrets, so I knew they wouldn't be showing.

Danny Mc showed up first, all the way from the Republic of Boulder, and Brian showed soon after. Rich came in just before the 9:00 departure time and made it a foursome.

As we took off, threading our way through the neighborhood toward Wash Park, and thence to the Cherry Creek Bike Path, I noted the eclectic nature of our bikes. In chronological order: Dan was on his 1984 Specialized Stumpjumper fixed gear, Rich had his 1993 Yeti with drop bars, I was on the pink Gary Fisher with the SnowCat rims, and Brian was taking the inaugural ride on his Niner brand 29" mountain bike.

Our first stop was at Metropolis, a coffee shop off of Speer Blvd. , where we sat in comfy chairs and enjoyed some hot beverages. While we were there, a lady told us that she was impressed that we were out on bikes.

I told her that she should probably be more concerned with our intelligence, rather than be impressed, but we knew she meant it as a compliment and took it as such.

From there, we hopped back on the trail and carefully made our way across the snowy and icy patches, interspersed with some bare pavement, toward Confluence Park and the Starbuck's at the REI flagship store. There, we ran into Dave Nice, who was meeting some friends for his own NYD ride over to Green Mountain. He invited us along, but we were a little short on time and told him we would just be making our way back down to Kaladi's.

As we left, Dan parted company with us to catch the bus back up to Boulder, and Brian, Rich and I took the South Platte Trail south to Florida Avenue. From there, we headed east, toward the DU neighborhood. (The hardest part of the ride was the 100 yards, or so, from Florida to the pedestrian crossing at Santa Fe. The snowplows had buried the sidewalk/bike trail and we had to bust crust to the light.)

From there, we weaved our way through the side streets to Asbury, then straight east to Franklin where we crossed Evans and were back at Kaladi Brothers. Ride distance was about 16 miles at an average speed of 10.3 mph (I had guessed 9.3 as we were riding and talking).

When I got home, the thermometer was showing 43.2 degrees F, in the sun (the official high was 23). And, it felt like 42 degrees as we were riding, toward the end of the loop. I had to remove my glove liners and take one layer off of my head, and I know Brian was peeling a layer or two off, as well.

With the added distance from here to the coffee shop and back, I totalled 20.0 miles at an average of 10.6 mph. Not too shabby for a snowy/icy New Year's Day Ride.


Happy New Year!

Well, I am eight months into my year of everyday bike commuting to work. Yesterday's commute put me at 2340 miles of commuting, and produced my first crash on the ride home.

I was riding down Keaton Street, through a residential neighborhood, about a mile and a half from the lab, thinking about how speed on a bike is relative. Specifically, I was thinking of how much more effort was required to cruise along at 16 mph on the wide wheels and tires I have on the pink bike, as compared to the orange Peugeot.

This had me thinking about how much slower the Surly Pugsley might feel. "Of course," I thought, "in conditions which require a Pugsley, you probably wouldn't be too concerned with speed, anyway."

Just then, I hit a stretch of road which, due to freezing, thawing, and repeating over the last few days had turned into a 50 yard long Slip-n-Slide (except the water was sitting on top of a sheet of ice rather than a sheet of plastic). The front tire slipped sideways, and I abandoned ship.

Luckily, I saw what was happening, and wasn't taken by surprise. I basically just pushed the bike away, and hit the deck spread-eagled and slid to a halt. I was kinda embarassed, so I just picked the bike up, and took off again.

Other than a bruise on the inside of my right thigh, from the top tube, and a slightly stiff wrist, I was unhurt.

I actually had to get off the bike and push in a couple of spots where I ride on bike path through city parks. The high winds we have had these past few days had drifted snow across the trail, 2 feet deep and too loose to support the bike. My normal 40 minute ride took 57 minutes. But, it was a good ride, overall.

I'm about to get everything ready to head over to Kaladi Brothers for the NYD ride. It's currently 1.5 degrees F on my front porch (according to my digital thermometer), so I am hoping it will warm up a bit once the sun comes up. At least I'm not in Alamosa, where the current temp is minus 22F!