Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ouch, my pride hurts!

Oh, why is it that stupid stuff keeps happening to me? Or is it that I keep happening into stupid stuff?

I've had my share of spills since I started cycling. There's the inevitable trail crashes while mountain biking, and the falling at intersections while learning to ride clipless pedals...c'mon, I'm not the only one, right?

Well, Friday morning I had a fall during my bike commute. Yes, a fall. I didn't crash into anything. I just...fell down. I was not seriously injured, thank goodness. But I feel really stupid about the whole thing. So embarrassed that I am writing about it for the whole internets to read. Luckily, only a few people read this blog.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ride to Nowhere in Particular

We went to Disneyland on President's Day. I rode Mr. Toad's Wild Ride twice with my son. You know, it's the journey to "nowhere in particular." Tuesday I took an additional day off to spend with the family since the kids are off all week and my wife's staying at home with them. But in the morning I made sure to get a bike ride nowhere in particular.

Actually, I knew where I was going. There's a loop to do near my house of about 11.5 miles. I start in 4S Ranch, go through Del Sur and Santaluz and back around to 4S Ranch.  I am working my way up to longer bike rides. This is less than the mileage I do on a round trip bike commute, but it is the longest single, non-bike commute I have done so far, I think.

The route alternates downhill and uphill sections with few flats to be had. I thought it would also be good training for the Black Mountain 15k trail run I signed up for in March. I want to preview the course before the actual race. The question is whether I should run it or do it by bike. Maybe both.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

That's more like it

Thankfully the rain from last night had moved on by early morning, so the sky was dry and the roads were, too. I shuttled the kids off to school and scrambled to get my gear together.

I started off slow, befitting of the colder weather, and tried to ease into the ride. First bike I spotted was going the opposite way. I glanced over not sure if the guy saw me. Sure enough, he looked up and gave me a wave. I waved back. See now? That was nice. I immediately felt like this was going to be a good ride.

Half-way point and I could see someone in the distance ahead of me. I could tell I was going to catch time. I could see this rider was in plain clothes, jeans and a coat, and he was wrestling with keeping his messenger bag in place on his back. As I approached, a few feet away now, I cupped one hand toward my mouth and yelled out, "On your left!" I then extended a "Good morning!" as I passed next to the other rider. He provided an appropriate response - I can't remember exactly what he said. After what happened last week, I told myself I should take no satisfaction in passing up that guy.

And it was good that I didn't because just a bit later, someone alerted me to their presence behind me. They also greeted me as they passed, so I couldn't be mad at that. And wouldn't you know, I think it was the same guy that I had first spotted earlier in my ride. He had turned around and passed me on the way back! He was riding a nice CervĂ©lo bike that probably costs three or four times my bike, so I really shouldn't feel too bad.

On the way home, I passed the same gentleman that I saw last week. I greeted him again and went on with my ride. Overall, I'm happy with the commute today because of the brief interactions I shared.

I'll probably stop ranting about whether people say hi to me or not.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pass-Fail (Bike Commute #9, Part 2)

About 2 miles into my ride home last Wednesday I spotted another bicycle up ahead. I locked in with the mission of passing said bike. It was a guy just cruising along; he was making no effort to be in any hurry. From what I could tell this man was riding his bike out of necessity, not any particular passion for bikes or desire to reduce his carbon footprint. He probably didn't have a car. Of course, I'm purely speculating based on appearances. At any rate, I made sure not to pass too close, and there was plenty of room to do so. As I rode by I shouted a pleasantry and the man quickly responded in kind.

Now, I fully realized this man was in no rush, but I was so filled with elation that I finally was able to pass somebody. So many times have I been passed on my cycling travels and not once until this moment had I overtaken another bicycle. Settling into a comfortable cadence, I began to compose a blog post in my head, already recounting the achievement. Not a moment later, the cycling gods woke me from my daydream in the visage of another cyclist mashing away and leaving me in the dust, my small victory now but a fleeting memory.

I tried to make an attempt to chase but reached the red light at the intersection with my assailant nowhere to be seen. I soon began to see the irony of the situation (Isn't it ironic? Maybe not in the literary sense, but at least in the Alanis Morissette-sense) and find the humor in it. Clearly, it wasn't funny enough, yet.

I waited for the green light patiently. It was at least a minute or three that I stood there. As the signal changed I slowly remounted to cross the intersection. As I did so, another cyclist, who apparently was standing right behind me, sprinted to overtake me. So not cool!

Next was a short downhill section. I could see it was an older gentleman who had just dropped me. He coasted down the hill. I closed a bit, but didn't want to ride him, after all, this was not really a race (right!). Another red light appeared ahead. I braked a bit hoping to time the light change. The man was already standing at the light as I cruised to a stop and propped myself up against the curb. "Where the hell are your manners?!" I blurted out. No not really. That's what I should have said. I stood there for a moment, slightly at his flank, looking at the man. He failed to turn and acknowledge my presence. I said hello. He turned, responded (somewhat reluctantly I felt), and returned to his forward gaze.

I don't know what it is. I am not normally one to greet and strike up conversation with random strangers. I guess I am just looking for a little camaraderie from my fellow cyclists. It's not like there are that many of us out there in San Diego. Maybe I'm being delusional about this??

1 Less Car

Cole from was giving away some t-shirts on Twitter a little while back and I was lucky enough to be picked as one of the winners. I got my shirt in the mail today, and I gotta say it is one of my favorites of their designs. Go check out his web site for more shirts and the blog with a lot of useful reviews of bike related products. You also have to see the wood "porter crates" that he makes. The crate is featured in the 2010 Trek Lifestyle/Urban bikes printed catalog on the new Belleville. If I had the money right now, I would seriously get another bike just so I could put this crate on it.

photo: Trek Bikes

Speaking of bike t-shirts, my collection has quickly grown in the past few months. My ratio of bicycle-related t-shirts to actual number of miles cycled is a bit disproportionate. I'm working on that. On the actual cycling I mean. I'm not getting rid of any of my shirts.

Disclaimer: I really did win the shirt for free. There was no expressed or implied agreement to mention the website on this blog.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Almost Doored, Almost Ignored (Commute #9, Part 1)

I came across a lot of bike commuters this Wednesday.

I left home in my car on the first half of my multi-modal bike commute. In a 2 to 3 mile stretch toward the freeway, I saw 3 people cycling uphill on Rancho Bernardo Road headed toward 4S Ranch, presumably destined for the offices nearby. I was quite encouraged to witness this as I was soon to be on my own bike.

I was perturbed to find that the park & ride lot was completely full. Fortunately I knew that there is an overflow park & ride lot roughly a quarter mile away, so I drove over posthaste and grabbed the closest open spot. The first parking lot is right on the corner of Black Mountain Road.  I usually wait for the pedestrian crosswalk signal (red arrow below) and then once I'm across the street I get into the bike lane and head down the road. Since I started off further back I had room to ride up to the front of the left turn lane queue of cars and waited for the traffic signal (blue arrow below).

Then I had a semi-almost close call with a car door just as I was getting going. Since this is near Miramar College, there's a lot of people parking along the street. I've been anticipating a car door flinging open toward me since I began riding here, so I ride the left side of the bike lane, but it still startled me.

Approaching the next intersection I could already see another cyclist waiting at the red light. I pulled up against the curb and offered a "How's it going?" He had earbuds in and didn't hear me or see me, yet. Crap. Should've waited until he noticed me. I fidgeted a bit and then he finally noticed me and shot a greeting. I reciprocated, waved, but felt a little dumb. He probably thinks he said hello first and now I look like the unfriendly jerk. The light turned green and the guy does a full-on sprint to get away. Geez, I guess he's in a hurry. I scrambled to give chase in an attempt to fine tune my slowness gauge (you know, how slow I am compared to all the cyclists I encounter), but he's created quite a gap, crosses another signaled intersection and I catch the red light. Oh, well.

I don't recall much else from the rest of the ride in to work. I made it in pretty good time: 25:22 "door to door", about 22:30 cycle time. The return ride after work I will recount in my next post: Bike Commute #9, Part 2.