Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category

Would have just been a normal day if not for the rain that started as I got on my bike to go home. Halfway home I was drenched, and when it’s raining that hard, your bike’s brakes don’t work that well. Of course this is the day a driver pulls out in front of me, but I was able to slow down enough that there was no collision. I admit, I gave them the finger.

But I was screaming curses at the rain (“NO! I said fuck YOU!”) on the last northward stretch, because it was nothing but headwind and the rain was stinging my bare arms and getting in my eyes (by the way, that hurts) so I could barely see.

So much for taking the long way home. I’ll have to take a ride in the country tomorrow if we still don’t have our van back (we don’t have time to go to the gym after I get off work when we have to ride; also, it’s hard to ride a road bike after you’ve used up all the muscles in your arms — not impossible, but hard).

My Chrome bag is as waterproof as advertised: my knitting, handbag, portable hard drive, and lock/cable are quite dry, and an hour later most of the outside of the bag is dry also. My clothes are still hanging wetly in the bathroom; even my helmet is wetter than the outer fabric of my bag.

Good deal. Maybe $140 wasn’t completely ridiculous after all.

Note to self: put a baseball cap in the bag.


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Night ride

At night
the streets are mine
empty but for my wheels
all but silent on black pavement.

legs pumping
lungs straining
heart pounding
lights flashing

My town.

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Runner on the MUP (multi-use path) ahead of me, running about as close to the edge of my side as he possibly could. I assumed he was going around the woman walking on the other side and stayed to my right so we wouldn’t collide when he moved back after going around her. Apparently, though, that was not his intention, because he stopped — still on the side of the path that would be his left — and said to me, “the fuck!” as I hit the brakes.

Taken aback, I didn’t get words out till he had already gone around me and was (I think) back to his right side of the path. I located them and spat them out: “You’re on the wrong side, jackass!” and as I turn back to the forward direction I hear his “fuck you!” behind me.

So that’s what happened. The message I probably sent was “I’m staying on my right to make a point because you’re not following the rules and I have a stick up my ass.” The message I intended to send — or would have intended to send if I’d had more time to think about it — was, “I was trying to get out of your way, but you’re a self-important twit who expects everyone else to instantly recognize when he’s not taking part in the social contract.”

Fucking frat boys.

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The co-op should have some whitewall 27″-ers on order if they haven’t arrived already. When they’re there, I’ll be able to finish C’s road bike. Without the tires it weighs in at about 25 pounds.

I spent most of this week with a co-worker in Springfield. I’m only just getting involved with this client but he goes out there all the time and usually stays in the Hilton. This week there was a conference of some sort (I was asked if I was there for the library conference; a quick Google search suggests it was the Sixth Statewide Library Practitioners Conference), so the Hilton was booked. A quick search of hotels.com turned up the Ramada on 6th Street Rd. My coworker said, “oh that’s right there on 6th Street” and booked our rooms. You see where this is going: sure enough, 6th Street Road is not the same as 6th Street. 6th Street Road is a few miles outside of town, on a street where I wouldn’t run or ride a bike unless I absolutely had to, and that goes for most of the streets near it, too.

This meant that I didn’t get to run outside the whole week (though I did go to the gym with my coworker, who goes every day — damn, treadmills are bor-ring), and I was actually kind of glad that I didn’t bring my bike, because I wouldn’t have ridden it. But our next trip out there is a week from Monday, and I’ve already booked the rooms at the Hilton so we’ll be right there in the middle of downtown. I’m definitely bringing my bike then. It’ll be nice to run or ride around a downtown area bigger than three blocks on a side, even if Springfield is not at all made for bicycles.

To illustrate how much Springfield is not made for bicycles, take a look at this street in Google StreetView. This is what the streets look like in Springfield: wide, lots of three-lane one-way streets, no bike lanes, no space for bikes at all, and very little traffic (usually). There seems to be a fair bit of traffic around rush hour, but you don’t sit.

I keep looking around trying to figure out why the town doesn’t look right and then realizing that there are no bike racks and almost no bikes. It’s the weirdest thing. I saw a total of three bikes locked up and two bikes being ridden in four days. But there’s a bike map (.pdf), and I’ve done some poking around in StreetView looking at the streets I haven’t seen in person and they look all right. I’m looking forward to riding around.

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It was a gorgeous 55 degrees on my ride home from work yesterday, so I went for a run as I had previously promised myself I would. I battled the urge to drive this morning, losing and then winning it. I’m glad I rode instead; it wasn’t too cold (as I knew, but the cold always seems worse when you’re warm, even if when you get out in it you barely notice it) and I wasn’t too stiff. And with lunch in the fridge (leftover fajitas from Dos Reales — num), I didn’t have a real reason to drive.

I was pleasantly surprised during my run to find that 1. I was able to vary the foot on which I started a breath enough that I didn’t get a stitch until the very end, and 2. cycling through the winter has kept my lungs enough in shape that it was a fairly comfortable run. (So my car breaking down in November turned out to be a very good thing.) I went easy for the first run in several months, only going about 3 miles, which took me about 45 minutes including my brief walk to warm up in the beginning (I probably didn’t need to walk that long, given that I’d just ridden my bike home 20 minutes before, but better safe than sorry). This is about normal for me. At 30 pounds overweight, I was astounded last September (ish) to find that if I ran slowly, I could just keep running until I got a stitch — probably about 20-30 minutes. And I could run a whole 5 miles (with walking breaks to get rid of said stitch(es)). It would take me an hour and 15 minutes, but I could do it.

I couldn’t do that in high school when I was in pretty good shape from playing soccer every year. I guess I just pushed myself too hard.

This weekend I go up for my little cousin’s birthday party on Saturday evening. She will be 3, I think, maybe 4. Sunday morning, Dad and I will probably visit the church at which I will be married in May — he’s thinking he might want to get back to a religious tradition and I think the UU church will be good for him. I’m going to try and get him to ride there with me; it’s only 6.2 miles in a car, so with the usual detours through residential areas that make a bike ride in Naperville not be a terrifying experience, it should be about 7 miles or so. Shouldn’t take longer than an hour each way, I think. We’ll see if 30°F is too cold for him 🙂

If he doesn’t want to ride, maybe I’ll go for another run. 🙂

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Finally took the Christmas lights off my road bike. It was raining the other day and the lights say “indoor use only” so I figured I should. Zzzt! No thanks!

Problem with that is, though: Nobody can see me any more! I have a few lights on order at the co-op along with some other things, so hopefully that will help, but what I really need is front and back helmet lights so I can point my lights directly at the cars without nearly falling off my bike. But that’s going to have to wait till we have more money, because wedding and dental expenses (and the new vehicle we’re buying) are coming due and we’re a little uncomfortable. Squeezed somewhat. Not yet making our contributions to savings less generous…but thinking it might be necessary to. Later on.

You know what I really want though? A reflective vest with little LEDs embedded into it and a pocket for the batteries. That would be the shit. Hey, I think I just figured out what to use the remainder of our Amazon gift card on.

Our rings might be ready soon, too. Funny how, now that we’ve put so much money into savings for the wedding, we’re loath to take it out, even for wedding expenses. That tells me that my method of “put it into savings now, you can always take it out later” is a good strategy for hanging on to money if you’re used to spending whatever’s available. You do what you have to do to get the long-term effect you want, using your own particular quirks to your advantage.

Works in other areas too. Our current apartment is about 3 miles from my work, and I’d prefer a longer commute as well as to go through campus, which I don’t now since we live on the same side as my office. I particularly like taking Green Street through campustown — for a few brief moments I can pretend I’m riding in a real city! And it makes me push myself because it’s kind of scary — I can see from the side that there’s enough room for my bike, but when I’m riding, it doesn’t seem like there’s very much room at all, so I go faster so that fewer cars can pass me. So in the interest of lengthening my commute without having to push myself to do it (because I don’t, especially when it’s cold and/or windy), our next apartment will be on the other side of town from work. My commute will be 5 miles at the shortest. We’ll be right near the bike co-op, Starbucks, the grocery store, the farmers’ market, and the only place in town that sells quinoa, but nice and far from work. And when I’m up for the challenge, I can take Green Street all the way from Neil to Vine and scare the shit out of myself by racing the cars. It’s a blast.

The best way to lose weight? Make it a matter of course. Trying to do it before the wedding, but if I have to I’d rather do it after than not at all!

Need to start running again, too. You know what, next time it’s above 50°, I go for a run.

It’s been gorgeous the last week or so and I’ve been reminded that I don’t have to bundle up quite as much as I have been for those 35-40° days. But I did discover this morning that 39-in-the-sun does require one more thin layer in addition to the three I had, or maybe a more wind-resistent jacket. Tonight I’ll probably put on my other additional layer that I brought just in case, because I won’t have the sun to warm me up anymore. If the temperature’s the same, it shouldn’t be too much.

It’s a fine line between wearing enough that I don’t shiver at stop lights and not wearing so much that I sweat more than I have to while moving. Fortunately I only have a few stop lights and if I’m chilly I can take a route where there are always (instead of hopefully) cars to trip the lights.

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Too damn cold!

I need to write a letter to the editor or something explaining to idiot drivers that no, I will not move over for them, because I’m already riding as close to the right as I can — in the tracks made by the cars where the road is mostly visible. I will not ride in the packed snow where my wheels go all over the place just so your self-righteous ass doesn’t have to wait for ten seconds for an opening (which it doesn’t, because there’s nobody coming on the other side of the road). Stop trailing behind me at 7 mph flashing your lights; there’s plenty of room on the other side of the road. You know, the side you use to pass other cars? The side that oncoming traffic would use if it were there, but it’s not, so fucking use it and pass me already!

Boss is letting me work from home tomorrow, thank God. It’s 2°F right now and only going to get colder. My gear is about limited to the 5° that it was for my ride home yesterday, without snow, and with snow I can’t go as fast to keep my cadence up because I’m too afraid of falling, so probably 10 or 15° would be the lower bound. I was too cold tonight.

So, too cold for a bike tomorrow, but we’ll see if we can borrow the future-in-laws’ van and get some food, because we’re about out of groceries and I’m hungry and can’t take my bike to go get food.

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