Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Thursday 10/30 ride or How to Piss off a redneck without even trying

Today's morning ride was rather cold. When I woke up this morning weather underground told me that within a mile of my house it was 56°; however, because I am so close to my goal for the year I toughed it out and I rode. Even though I again blew out an inner tube on my front wheel which put me 15 minutes behind. Luckily it was not too much colder and within 3 miles is actually just right comfort wise; however, once I got to the office I determine that the cold weather didn't enhance my performance much as I averaged 11.8 mph for the morning leg.

The morning leg was pretty routine . I only saw about one other commuter this morning and oddly enough he was westbound going in the direction that I had just come from. As I passed through Memorial Park I recognized an old acquaintance of mine crossing the street and I said hello as I passed by.

The ride home was chock full of commuters I think I saw a total of 10. I also had a verbal altercation with a redneck As I was going down the Alabama St. right around Main. The light had turned red and I carefully worked my way around a white van that had stopped just a little ahead of me. right as I passed the passenger side window the driver yelled "hey;" however, I ignored him as I had begun to pass I sensed that I was going to get some lip from him. At the next light not only did he squeeze past me uncomfortably close, but he also yelled, "get out of traffic" then gunned his engine passing me and getting down the road. It's a real annoyance on how some people become so puffed up with courage from being inside a 3000 pound cage that they feel entitled to share their stupidity with the world.

As I cleared Midtown continuing down on Alabama is where I saw all the other commuters including somebody actually using panniers! The rest of the ride was pretty much routine. I did manage to improve my average speed from 11.8 back up to 12.08 mph by the end of the ride. The afternoon weather was positively delightful and definitely made me glad that I had stuck it out in the morning to ride.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Monday 10/27 ride report.

I almost didn't ride this morning as I had only gone to sleep around 2 a.m. and only two hours of sleep makes for a rough ride and an even rougher day; however, I found myself curious as to what the weather was doing so I got up at four and took a look around. Much to my surprise I found the weather this morning not as cold as I had anticipated from the weather reports. The Weather Channel had said that that the temperature was around 55°; however, when I stuck a leg out the front door it felt more like 60 to 65° not warm but not overly cold either. So I decided to ride.

The morning ride is almost a non-report except that starting out I managed to rip the stem off of the rear tube. So replacing the rear innertube succeeded in making me about 15 minutes late. I also decided to run my tire pressure experiment this morning so I lowered my tire pressure to 115 pounds and headed out the door. The actual ride was a nonevent didn't bump into anybody and passing through Memorial Park I only saw two recreational riders running the picnic loop. It was a dead dead dead morning.

The ride home was also pretty routine up until I got to South Briar Hollow Lane, I use this street as a dog leg over to Post Oak which I use to cross under the 610 loop. as I was pedaling along I felt my cranks and rearwheel lock and then I heard a large "crack" and felt something fall from the bike. I could've sworn I was about to do an endo; however, the rear wheel started turning again and I was rolling along. I stopped to look back to figure out what had fallen from the bike and there in the road was one of my tire fly reflects. I jumped off the bike and leaned against a tree then walked back and picked it up.

Apparently the plastic mounting ears that held the reflects to the spokes had undergone structural fatigue and had let go. As I was standing there studying the broken one I also observed the same problem with the front one and to prevent it from also causing me problems I went ahead and broke it off. I'm feeling pretty fortunate
that the damn things didn't break any of my spokes or caused me to take a header.

The rest of the ride home was routine; however, once I got onto Westview I actually observed other riders. In fact, as soon as I got onto Westview I caught a glance of a roadie on a 47 inch frame; however, I was unable to pursue and get a closer look at his bike as I had not made my turn from off of Chimney rock/Wirt and by the time I did he was long gone. The next rider I came across was on a Wal-Mart wonder and he asked me if I had seen a friend of his on an orange mountain bike; however, I had not. the rest of the ride home was routine.

As for my tire pressure experiment. my average speed was nothing to write home about, and my overall time sucked. The ride on the other hand was a lot more compliant and less harsh than at 130 pounds tire pressure. I'm not so sure if I'm going to keep my tire pressure where it's at as the ride did not feel as fast. In fact, it kind of felt like I was riding through molasses.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ignorance can be irrtating 10/21 commute

I again left out 8 to 15 minutes early this morning. The weather was absolutely delightful it was again around 57 degrees. I took it easy on the way in. In fact the ride in this morning was as routine as routine could be. I didn't see any other cycling traffic on the road; however, the rec riders were hard at work on the picnic loop in Memorial Park as I passed by. In fact the only morning excitement happened AFTER I had been at work for an hour. I heard a sudden rush of air and because it was an abrupt out of the ordinary sound . I jumped out of my skin! It scared the bejeebers out of me.

As it it turns out, prior to departure from home I had had a bit of a problem getting the pump chuck off of the valve stem of my front tire . Apparently I had been a little rough and unbeknown to me the stem had been damaged. Luckily fate had it fail there in the office as opposed to somewhere on the road in the early morning dark.

The only downside to having a flat in the office is having to use my frame pump to get anything close to reasonable pressure. Again I got lucky as I later found out. I manged to get 100 lbs and I actually felt the ride quality was better. I might consider a pressure reduction as I usually run my tire pressures between 125 and 130lbs which according to my Planet bike dial gauge is in track tire pressure territory. One thing I had going for me is the Alex R500 rims that come stock on the Sirrus are an absolute joy to dismount. If it were any easier there would be a zipper along the edges. I had the side of the tire open and the new tube in it within one minute. I then spent the next 45 minutes painfully pumping up that tire.

I actually left work a little early this afternoon as I had to stop at Daniel Boone's cycles so I wound up leaving right at 4 p.m. Earlier in the week I had managed to crack the chain ring guard on my '07 Sirrus. I still have no idea how I pulled it off I'm guessing I may have brushed it against my desk as I was extracting the bike from my office. I know the chain ring guard is usually something "purists" scorn and remove from their bikes as soon as they're able (along with the "dork disk"/pie tin from behind the cassette). I've chosen to keep it on the bike. The reason being is I had a friend back in college who experienced the classic "sawmill" laceration and pulling out of his clipless pedal and planting his foot on the ground solidly in front of the chain wheel which proceeded to tear a 3 inch flap of skin off his ankle. With all the up and down action while riding in traffic I go through on this particular bike I rather keep all the original guards. It also makes the bike look more finished as without it looks like it's missing something. Boones was able to accommodate me as they are Specialized dealers and although they didn't have any loose they pulled one off of a Sirrus from the showroom floor.

Once my business at Boones was completed I turned myself towards Alabama Street and the way home. The first leg of the trip was uneventful pretty much like the morning. The ride began to get interesting once I got to the Westview/Pech intersection there I bumped into some bumpkin on a motorized mountain bike. He looked at me and I looked at him and it was on like Donkey Kong! I was determined not to have him pass me (I'm not overly warm on electric assist especially when the rider can't make up his mind either stay on the street and be a vehicle or ride on the sidewalk like some kind of four-year-old. to my thinking if you have a motor on it then you belong in the street and have no claim on the sidewalk) So for about a quarter mile I was slogging it out in the street while he was on the sidewalk and I was able to stay ahead of him for a while until traffic bottlenecked and I was forced to jump on the sidewalk to stay up with him. Unfortunately, this was just after he had passed me so by the time I got to the Bingle intersection the light had already cycled. (I also distinctly could hear him engage that electric motor) So unfortunately I lost the "race"

Just after crossing Bingle I noticed a brand-new white colored Mustang coming up behind me. I knew it couldn't have been more than a few months old there is just something about the clear coat that screamed "brand-new car" it was being driven by the typical young blond cheerleader type that Spring branch/Memorial is famous for. The sort of person lives a chronically sheltered life and while growing up may have rode a bike and never took it out of their neighborhood and pretty much gave it up the minute they got their learners permit. They also got the typical Spring branch/Memorial drivers Ed training where they completely gloss over the fact that bicycles are vehicles. The reason being is in this small part of suburbia the kids are raised with the expectation that they will drive forever. What most of this generation has failed to realize is that they will be one of the last generations where the privilege of driving is certain.

As the car passed me, yes you guessed it! I got hit with, "Why don't you ride on the sidewalk!" in that shrill young girl voice. I found it rather irritating in light of the fact that this stretch of road may be a single lane in either direction, but they are very wide lanes to the point where you could probably drive two cars abreast and certainly pass a bicycle with a wide margin. Also, what I found so irritating was the brazen exhibition of stupidity. Not only did this chick yell this, but she did so just before she turned into her neighborhood!

It's one thing to yell at a bicyclist when you're rolling in 3000 pounds of steel and nowhere near where you're residing, but do so outside your own neighborhood takes it down to a whole other level of stupidity. I gave real consideration and I was sorely tempted to go after her as it would've been fairly easy to catch her in an area where she was forced to slow down to 15 miles an hour to navigate Road construction; however, I figured it was a lost cause. Most people who yell things out the window are pretty ignorant and mostly unreachable. One that is so stupid to yell something at someone right in front of their neighborhood where they can be found is a whole new level. I also happen to know from growing up in this area that most of the young women are very self-righteous and not strategic thinkers. So I pressed onwards and rode home.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Breezed in.

It's amazing how 15 minutes can change the nature of a early morning commute. I managed to get out of the house about eight minutes before 5 a.m.; consequently, there was no traffic at all. I basically owned the roads between Conrad Sauer and Texas Southern and it was reflected in the total time of the ride as I made it to work in an hour and 16 minutes and averaged 12.31 miles an hour. Weatherwise it was a beautiful morning it was 58° which was a touch chilly, but not unbearably so. After about 3 miles the temperature was ideal because it kept perspiration to a minimum. I did keep my leg warmers handy to either use as they are intended or as makeshift arm warmers, but they were unneeded.

Quite surprisingly there was a lot of cycling activity this morning. As I made my turn onto Memorial Drive I observed a westbound recreational rider who was using excellent lighting. As I proceeded down Memorial Drive I was buzzed by yet another recreational rider who rapidly took the lead down Shepherd. oddly enough the only thing I remember of him is his tail lights I don't remember seeing if he had a headlight or not. The last cyclist I saw crossed my path as a going down West Alabama. Cyclist was a female and she was riding a mountain bike and she is wearing a backpack. my guess is she was headed towards the medical center.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Friday 10/17 Report

Unfortunately, I did no long distance cyclecommuting this week. Houston has been getting the very beginnings of winter weather where it rains in some fashion in the morning and to top it off I have yet to accumulate good wet weather gear. The few times I have commuted in the rain it was a happy occasion during, but I didn't enjoy the extra maintainence afterward and the wear on my Brooks either.

This morning I had the intention of commuting, but I only fell asleep somewhere around 3am so I only got around an hour of sleep. I woke with the 4am alarm but I laid there thinking "15 minutes more" and that 15 grew to an hour and a half which made it far too late. If I'm not on the road by 5am and through Memorial Park by 6am life gets just a little too exciting. So I copped out and drove. I did see a lot of cycling activity including someone on a Rivendell as I drove down Elgin and passed the Yokum intersection. I was inclined to believe it was Dennis/D2Create from bike forums as there aren't very many Rivendells around; however, if it was him he was along way from his work but it could be as he was pointed in the right general diriection to head back towards W. Dallas. When I got to work I had to sponge up the drool as I do catorgorize Rivnedells as the ultimate in bike candy. I just have never seen any in my size and if I did I would have to declare bankrupcy to afford one.

I saw at least 4 small Vespa type scooters on my way as well. Although my focus here is on cycle commuting I believe small displacment motorized two wheeled cycle devices like Vespas and mopeds are an indicator of the evolution of Houston into a more bi/motor-cycle aware and friendly city. The more you see means there are that many less cars on the road at that momment.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Friday 10/3 Report.

Things are much improved since Monday and Wednesday. The lights in Memorial Park (both street and traffic) are now working. There are still dark sections within Spring Branch. On Westview three blocks west of Bunker Hill are still dark as is the section between Campbell and Bingle. Also, Antione from Westview to I-10 is patchy with sections of two or three street lights are still out. The net effect is a DARK street.

I also discovered on the run in much to my chagirn tham my saddle had come loose so it was very subtly shimmying fore and aft. I'm guessing it was a combination of the rough morning ride Wednesday up San Felipe saddled (no pun intended) with multiple mounts and dismounts for traffic which vibrated the front bolt loose.

On the run in I bumped into two female Cyclecommuters. I got a chance to talk to one and found out she's been commuting by bike for ten years. I felt like a lightweight. The second one crossed my path headed south so no communication was possible. I was just able to make out that the bike was Celeste Green had lights, Celeste colored fenders and had panniers A Bianchi Milano Perhaps? From a distance it sure looked like one.

I made it to work without further incident; however, before I come home I'm going to have to find an Allen wrench to tighten up my saddle. I manged to leave my "Y" Wrench at home so I'm going to have to go make friends with Campus Maintenance or stop by The Third Ward Bike Shop on my way out.

Waiting for early morning carpool pick-up

NW Corner of State Highway 6 and FM529,
near Bike Barn Copperfield. Waiting for my
carpool. I ride 3 miles to the pick-up point,
then we drive 17 more miles into work. I don't
get a full workout, but it's fast. Some days I
ride back home all the way on the bike, which
is a Dahon Speed 7 folder.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008