Monday, January 30, 2006

8.5 miles to the southern tip of Manhattan

A couple hours after an unseasonably warm lunch, I set out in shorts. Very silly -- it had become windy and chilly! But bearable, and several other bicyclists and runners had shorts on too. (Most didn't though.)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

67 miles in Austin, Texas

K and I visited Austin this weekend where we had dinner and lunch with her very cool blog friends and where I got in some nice warm-weather biking.

I rented a Trek Madone 5.2 road bike from Bicycle Sport Shop South, and brought my own saddle. An impressive shop with great bikes and great people. I hate the name "Trek" - it sounds slow and burdensome - but this bike was not slow. In fact, I got nervous at times when I'd be going too fast down the side of an Interstate - I think the handlebars were further apart than I'm used to.

Austin bicycling has its pluses and minuses. The pluses:
  • Wonderful warm weather in January! I'm told the nice weather lasts from mid-October to March;
  • Very friendly and social - around 70% of Austinites, at least. Though a noticeable minority stare at you like you're from outer space;
  • A couple of captivating views near a dam or aqueduct;
  • Lots of bicyclists and joggers;
  • Easy to find long rides.
The minuses:
  • Few beautiful areas to ride in. The Town Lake trail is gorgeous, but longer routes are basically rides on various freeways. There was no foliage either, though maybe that's seasonal;
  • Shoulders vary; some areas had none and weren't the safest. They weren't bad though, and usually didn't last too long.
The verdict: nice bicycling for visits - I'm sure we'll return.

The route: The "Dam Loop" (48 miles), riding to and from there, and exploration/getting lost time. Austinites call everything a loop, regardless of whether they are actually loops.

The Dam Loop route is (let's see how well my memory's working) Bee Caves -> Interstate 71 -> FN2277 -> FN2222 -> Loop 360 (not really a loop) -> back to the Bee Caves junction.

But to get off, instead of exiting onto Bee Caves again, one continues a few more miles on Loop 360, takes a freaky left at a huge intersection onto Loop 1 (the "MoPac", a bustling highway that is also not really a loop), then continues on its side until it becomes Barton Springs Road, and somehow gets to Congress Avenue to get back to the downtown.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

12.2 mile night ride to 125th Street

Another nice ride, in tonight's 28 degree weather. Tomorrow we're travelling to Austin for the weekend - hoping for some nice biking weather!

This will be my first trip to Texas, though I gather Austin's not representative. We'll go to a nice vegetarian restaurant that has a spinach lasagna that sounds tasty. We'll meet K's blog friends.

This is the Austin bike path. Paul Klee painted it on his first trip there, in 1923. Notice the purple hues which are a result of global warming: because Austin is farther south, non-purple colors bounce off the ozone layer and only the purple (and some yellows) get through.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

12.2 mile night ride to Fairway

K inspired me to take a nighttime ride, and it was a fun one! Mondays and Fridays are my off days, so my legs were somewhat rested and took to the high cadence riding nicely. I will share four secrets with you tonight:

1. High cadence riding is more fun.

Why? At high RPMs, it feels like you're going fast even at ordinary speeds.

2. Night time riding is also fun.

The same speed feels faster at night. It is beautiful and you often have the path to yourself.

3. iPods give you energy.

And music with a fast beat helps you pedal faster. Tonight was Madonna's Confessions on a Dance Floor.

4. The secret to winter riding is layering.

It isn't cold if you're properly dressed. Here's what I wore tonight:
  • Two layers of pants: sweatpants underneath, and the WindStopper overalls on top of that
  • Three layers up top: a t-shirt, then a sweatshirt, then a Land's End ThermoLite jacket
  • Three layers of socks: the bottom layer was a warmer bike sock. (Couldn't find my other warmer bike socks.)
  • A Drytex hat beneath my helmet: it covers your ears
And I forgot the gloves. The verdict? No problems, except for my feet which got a little cold, and my gloveless hands at the beginning before my body temperature started to rise. On the way back I had to remove the jacket because I had worked up a sweat!

Lastly: How can the same ride be 12.2 miles according to the Polar gizmo, and 12.8 miles according to Cateye? I'm going with Cateye because the Polar is wireless.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

28.4 miles to lunch in Englewood Cliffs, NJ

and back. I went to Panera and had a portobello and mozzarella panini, with a red apple, and caffeine- free diet soda. Mmm.

Then it was off to the Englewood Starbucks that's two blocks away for some Chamomile tea, where at the neighboring table a 40-something white woman was interviewing a black teen, for what I'm not sure. She had come from Brooklyn, and he played a lot of sports and said he was taking a math elective because he was good at it, even though he didn't enjoy math. He is interested in marketing, and participates in a student leadership organization that shows them how to be men, focusing first on their families.

There's some steep downhill riding into downtown Englewood, but that means there's some steep uphill riding on the way back. Not too much, but my legs were pretty depleted! Nonetheless, it was a nice trip! Here's a photo of the Hudson River bike path, just south of the GWB.

For some reason, bicycling triggers my craving for Diet Sunkist, so afterward I headed to the supermarket and got these three bottles:
  • Diet Sunkist (has lots of caffeine)
  • 7-Up Mixed Berry (10 calories, no caffeine)
  • 7-Up Tropical Something (10 calories, no caffeine)
The Sunkist tastes a bit off - I suppose we'll find out tomorrow whether it's that or just my after-bicycling taste buds - but the 7-UP Tropical Something hit the spot.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

47 mile ride to 9W mini-golf

and back ... A nice Saturday ride - first picked up the new Giro Atmos helmet and some more winter biking socks. The helmet is comfortable!

Despite warnings of rain I set off, crossed the GWB and went up the Palisades bike path. It was chained off with a sign that said "rock slide" but two bicyclists who were returning from the path said they hadn't seen anything dangerous, so I shimmied around the chain and continued onward.

I didn't see anything dangerous either, until fairly close to Alpine when 1/4 of the road basically wasn't - it apparently fell the hundred or so feet over the cliff! A Caterpillar vehicle was parked nearby. Losing my nerve, I walked across the rock-strewn area away from the edge, then hopped back on and rode the rest of the way.

It wasn't long before I reached 9W mini-golf, but they were closed! And their soda machines were unplugged. So no mini-golf or Diet Coke for me :-).

I headed back; it had gotten dark and very windy. Sometimes I needed to raise the gear to control the bike. After a while, I stopped trying the high cadence riding - I was more interested in getting home.

It felt great to take a long ride after all this time, and two hours later the endorphins are still endorphing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

12.8 mile night ride to Fairway

Bundled up and went riding again tonight - warm enough, though windy! I tried a 90rpm cadence again and was surprised to be whizzing by on a higher gear (around mid-way) ... til I turned back and had to fight the wind which had apparently helped me! Fun bicycling though.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

15 miles of dark, drizzly winter ecstasy

Thanks, K, for encouraging me to go bicycling tonight! With my new winter gear, the weather wasn't a problem at all.

I took the advice of the Slender Volume and upped my cadence to 90 rpm for virtually the entire ride. Sure I was in the smallest few gears, but it's a process -- and it felt fast. Heart rate ranged from 160-172 most of the time -- yay!

It's thrilling to be bicycling again. Go, endorphins, go!

Monday, January 16, 2006

6 miles to lunch and Toga Bikes

... where I went a little overboard with the winter riding purchases. It's a battle between endorphins versus miserable winter weather, and winter just suffered a body blow:
  • Bike Computer/HRM: Polar CS200cad "computer" that tracks heart rate and cadence, plus the usual speed-distance-time. Very cool, though I need to figure out how to turn off the incessant beeping.
  • Trainer: CycleOps Fluid 2 Trainer with stand, for indoor biking - supposedly much smoother than my older Blackburn magTrakstand
  • Pants: WindStopper Gore Classic Action BibTrouser - silly looking overalls that supposedly keep you warm on cold winter days ... they say it'll be fine for 45 minutes, or a couple hours if you layer with sweatpants or the like. Wear those bike shorts underneath!
  • Socks: Craft felted mid-weight racing socks - warm the feet in cold weather
  • Hat: Louis Garneau Drytex hat to keep one's head and ears warm
  • Book: Bicycling Magazine's Training Techniques for Cyclists, a slender guide that came well recommended
Let's see whether this inspires some winter riding!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

17 wet miles - Central Park

Pools of water in my shoes but warm enough for a super bike ride with A. (The Thermolite jacket worked! Thanks, Land's End.) Those biking endorphins are great!

K and I are planning a little trip to Austin TX shortly ... hoping for some warm-weather biking. Route suggestions are welcome!

My Cateye "computer" is on the fritz - it measured most of the trip at 0 mph. This time around, I'd like something that also tracks cadence and heart rate. Thinking of the Polar CS200cad ... I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

12 miles to Fairway and back

I'm no fan of winter, so now that we're having some unseasonably warm weather, it was time for a bike ride!

It's always a treat to ride again, though 49 degrees isn't quite toasty! Next time I'll wear gloves. It was the first outdoor ride since the transit strike, when Mike and I took a cold evening ride.

K and I will visit South Beach toward the end of February, so I've been looking into ways to bring the bike. Airlines make you 'box' it, which involves partially disassembling it, and they charge through the nose, but there's something infinitely better about having your own bike which has been tailored over the years to give you a great ride ... the size, the seat, the bulletproof tires ...

That said, it might be easier to bring the seat, bring the tires, but rent the bike! We'll see ...