Friday, August 27, 2010

The school of hard knocks

From my reading, I knew that I would have to take corners slower on my fixed gear. This is to prevent the pedal from hitting the ground and causing a crash. Unfortunately, I did not slow down enough on on turn this morning and I crashed. I got some road rash on my elbow and shoulder, and pretty much just banged up the left side of my body. Fortunately there were no serious injuries. I got back on the bike and rode the rest of the way to work. I felt OK while I was riding, but once I got to work and stopped, everything started to stiffen up. I'll take it easy this weekend and I probably feel better in a couple of days.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Backpack, Backpack

Since my regular commuter bike is in the shop being converted to a fixed gear, I riding my Litespeed to work. It doesn't have a rack so I needed another way to carry my clothes and computer. I decided that buying a camelback backpack would be the best way to go. That lets me carry my stuff and I can also use it to carry water on my longer rides.
I used it for the first time on Monday. It is going to take a little getting used to. Weight on your back feels heavier the weight in panniers. Also, my back was a little sore after I got to work.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Converting to a fixed gear

On Thursday, my rear shifter stopped working on the way to work. I thought it was a broken cable since I've had that happen several times on this bike. I rode the rest of the way to work and rode home in a single gear. I dropped the bike off at Maplewood Bicycle to have them take a look at it.

Josh called me on Friday to let me know that the shifter was broken. It was going to be rather expensive to replace so I told him that I was thinking about converting it to a fixed gear. I thought about it for a while and decided to do it.

There are a few reasons for riding a fixed gear. Since I ride in bad weather, there are fewer parts to wear out. Some people say it gives you better control on the bike in bad conditions. Since there is only one gear you have to work harder up the hills, but that makes you stronger.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

This week

On Sunday, I went on my first long ride on the new bike. It was a social ride with four other people: Jeff, Theresa, Pam, and George. The plan was to ride to Fast Eddie's in Alton, have something to eat, and then ride back. This was not a hammer fest and we averaged about 14 mph.

We got to Fast Eddie's around 1:30 at it was packed. We would have had to wait an hour to get anything to eat. Since we were too hungry to wait, so we went to McDonald's instead.

The ride back was at about the same pace, but George and I sprinted ahead for a little bit and then waited for everyone to catch up. After we had cross back over the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, Theresa was ready to pack it in. She had already almost doubled her previous longest ride and she was done. Pam decided to wait with her while Jeff went back to the start to get his car to pick them up. George and I rode with him.

We decided to hammer it pretty hard at this point to get Jeff to his car as quickly as possible. We had a slight tailwind so that helped our speed, but I was impressed that we were able to maintain 23 mph for several miles. In my head I was imagining myself as Jeff's lead-out man on a sprint to the finish. At one point we dropped George.

After leaving the Riverfront Trail, George caught up to us. Then it was my turn to get dropped when my rear light fell off crossing some railroad tracks. I stopped to get it and then got caught at an intersection. Now I had a new mental picture, I was a lone rider trying to bridge up to a breakaway. I did finally manage to catch them.

I ended up turning for home before we got back to the start. Jeff and George made it back to the start and everyone made it home safely. I had a good time hope to do some more group rides this summer.

I was a little tired the next day riding to work, but nothing too bad. Tuesday evening, I was extra slow on the ride home. There were three reasons for this: One, I had given blood on the way to work that morning. Two, I was still a little tired from Sunday. And three , the temperature was 100° and the heat index was somewhere between stun and kill.

Wednesday was just as hot. When I left work, it felt like I was riding across a cast iron pan. Things aren't as bad once I get moving, and a get a little shade later in the ride. At least it's only about 8 miles.

The heat also cause a problem with my helmet mirror. The double sided tape that held it on had been weakening for a while and the heat finally did it in. I rode without it on Wednesday. This was the first time I had ridden without a mirror for quite a while and I really missed it. It just makes it so much easier to keep an eye on what's going on behind me. Especially when merging into traffic from the incredible disappearing bike lanes.