Sunday, January 17, 2010

Get on the Bike

It's been over a week since I last rode my bike. I have been trying to designate Wednesdays to be my official "bike commute" day. I needed to stay home this past Wednessday so I missed my opportunity. Riding once a week sounds like a realistic goal, but there always seems to be something that comes up, legitimate or not.  I had ridden two weeks in a row (I think a first for me), until this week, that is.

I'd been thinking that maybe I should change the tag line of my blog from "Developing a bike commute habit" to "The diary of an aspiring bike commuter" or "21 and more excuses not to ride" or "The sometimes bike commuter" or "How to blog about bike commuting without really riding." Please suggest others in comments if you've got any good ones I can use.

It can be tough finding time to ride when you're trying to balance family and work and whatever else. I've been thinking I should bring my bike in on days I don't ride to work and take some lunch rides. We'll see if that ever happens... Even if I can't ride to work, I think I just need to find a way to get out on the bike a little more and log some miles.

So, having said that I snuck out for a quick ride as the sun was setting this Saturday afternoon. I've been wanting to tackle this hill nearby my house. It is probably not much of a climb for most cyclists, but I figured it would be a bit of a litmus test to gauge my current riding fitness. The main climb is about 1.7 miles and about 330 feet in elevation. That's a 3.6% overall grade - like I said, probably nothing to a lot of people. I don't really know.

I've seen plenty of people climb this road. Several of those people, by appearances, were in much worse physical shape than I. I figured that I could probably make it up OK on my mountain bike with the luxury of spinning the granny gear on the front triple crank (of course I never tried), but since I got my new bike I've been a bit worried about my gear range on the low end. I've got a 50-11 combo on the high end and a 34-28 combo on the low end, which my co-worker kindly pointed out is a wider range on both ends than what his more traditional cyclocross 48/36 double crankset gives him.

As Miley Cyrus says, "It's all about the climb." (Hey, I've got a young daughter who incessantly watches the Disney Channel.) It turns out the climb was not so bad after all. It is broken into two sections with a nice flat in the middle that afforded me the chance to catch my breath. I was still straining a bit at the crest, but I was doing everything to stay out of that bottom combo, for nothing more than the illusion that I've got some minor semblance of strength in my legs.

Here's the route plotted with elevation. The ride took me about 38 minutes and covered over 8.6 miles. I hit about 34 mph on the way down the hill. I also made a few poor choices in the way I handled the bike on the road in relation to cars on the way home. (Incidentally, I'm currently listening to the audio version of Tom Vanderbilt's Traffic.) I'll be more careful in the future.


  1. I guess the key word is "developing." Hang in there and try again this week!

  2. Just keep riding. Family and work deserve your attention, of course (as they do mine), but the commute and a couple of well-placed long rides (ie. therapy) during the week can really keep you in shape. I try to do one 100 mile ride once a month. That doesn't cut into to family time much, and gives me a whole day on the bike at least once in a while.

    Climbing is the most fun part of a ride. The more you do it, the easier it gets. I like to ride to Torrey Pines, and do my San Diego version of "Three Bears" - Torrey Pines St. Park, Villa Capri up Mt. Soledad, and Naragansett in OB. Fun stuff.