Monthly Archives: May 2018

Saturday cycle

Another Saturday, another cycle.  I took my bike into the bike shop for a tune-up after my issues last weekend, and everything was much better today.  I feel a little guilty shelling out $200 for things I could definitely do myself, but I am earning more thanks to working more, and I have less time, and I don’t really want to take up bike maintenance as a hobby.  (I could have brought it in and just had the specific issue addressed, but I had a full tune-up.)  Today’s cycle was almost identical to last weekend’s in terms of distance and elevation gain.  I went a little slower, which I mostly attribute to the fact that I’ve never ridden this route before and had to stop and check directions and ride slower in places trying to figure out which way I was going.  However, I felt MUCH better at the end.  I rode the last road prior to the big hill back to my house faster than I ever have, per Strava, and I ride that road a lot, so that’s significant.  Equally important, the last hill up to my neighborhood wasn’t so bad.  I was partially fueled by road-rage, though, as a car honked at me, in my opinion 100% completely without justification, just before I cycled up the hill.  I feel like there is a subset of drivers – a small subset – that really have it in for cyclists.

I crossed the new 520 bridge for the first time, and it has a wonderful cycling lane.  On the other cross-lake highway, you practically feel like you’re on the highway with the cars, but the new bridge has a wide cycling and walking lane, and once I’d figured out how to get on it, I really enjoyed cycling across it.

Many major tours are doing away with podium girls, including the Tour de France.  Female models used to present the winners with their awards and pose for photos with them.  To me, this is a great example of a meaningless symbolic gesture that makes people feel warm and fuzzy about being feminist without doing something real.  What would be real, you might ask?  How about having a Tour de France for women?  How about televising women’s performances in any tour, including their most significant race – the Tour de Rosa?  (Currently, the only television coverage for women is in the world championships.  If any women’s tours are televised, the major provider for cycling in the US, NBC, does not cover them.)  It doesn’t really bother me at all if attractive women give stage winners a teddy bear.  The absence of anything remotely resembling equal opportunity in cycling for women, on the other hand, bothers me a great deal.  This, on the other hand, is encouraging.

cyling – 2018

I’m back on the bike.  My cycling enthusiasm seriously waned over the winter.  It’s just hard to get excited about cycling when it’s cold and rainy outside.  With the sun, though, the enthusiasm is definitely back.  I’ve cycled 170 miles in 2108, and a significant percentage of those miles have been over the last couple of weekends.

Week 1:

Cycle 1 was a 30 mile ride around the bottom of Lake Washington.  One thing that is super nice is that I have finally memorized some routes.  When I first started cycling, I was constantly getting lost.  While that still happens, it’s getting a lot less frequent, and I have this route totally memorized.  Or nearly.  30 miles, 1500 feet elevation gain – and it  I was pretty much cooked for the rest of the day.

Isn’t Seattle beautiful?

Week 2:

I decided to add some miles the second week and did a very similar ride, except that I added 8 miles or so and biked around the bottom of Mercer Island.  This also added a little bit of elevation gain.  Anyway, this ride turned out to be more eventful.  My chain came off the chain ring a few miles in, and then it happened again, and I had trouble getting on the lower front chain ring, and yeah.  Not good.  However, it mostly worked, and I tried not to switch chain rings at the front very often and just rely on the gears at the back.  Then, when I was halfway across the bridge between Mercer Island and Bellevue, probably 3 miles from the nearest place I could get picked up by car and with traffic zooming by at 70 mph (separated by a barrier thankfully), the chain came off for at least the third time, but this time it was jammed between the derailleur and the gears.  I turned my hands solid black trying to get it back on and after a lot of cursing and a little bit of panic finally succeeded.  This is the second time I’ve had a problem on that bridge, and it really is just not a good place to have an issue.  I got going again and was really nervous about my bike and in probably the most remote section of the whole ride with nowhere to go ran into this homeless man semi-blocking the path.  I was quite nervous to try and go by / around him, but fortunately, he left me alone.  Then, a few miles from home on a VERY quiet street, I rolled through a stop sign in front of a guy who apparently thought he should have gone first, and he yelled at me and called me a dumb bitch.  I probably shouldn’t roll through stop signs, but I really feel that level of nastiness is unnecessary.

Note elevation for both my rides: downhill, flat, then uphill. I really wish I could reverse that.  The uphill at the end is just killer.

After my ride, I was once again totally wrecked.  My question now is whether I can actually build cycling fitness by cycling just once a week, or whether I need to cycle at least twice a week.  I don’t want to subject myself to a weekly torture-fest, and I really do want to go farther and faster, but cycling midweek is no picnic.  Commuting by bike is just difficult and arguably dangerous.  I have a hilly 10-mile loop I do that takes about an hour, but I have mostly 8 am meetings these days, so doing that loop would require a 6 am start.  Definitely doable.  Is the motivation there?  I’m not sure.  I’m toying with the idea of attempting a century this summer, but for now, I’m thinking of a goal of a 50 mile cycle by the end of June.



running or cycling?

Why running is better:

1.) While uphills are tough on foot, they are BRUTAL on the bike.

2.) A light to moderate rain is irritating when running but can be dressed for, but a ride in a cold rain is miserable AND hazardous.

3.) Speaking of hazardous, I’ve been running most of my life, and I’ve never really hurt myself.  It’s quite safe.  Bike riding, however, is quite hazardous.  Death is a realistic possibility, and road rash is downright probable.

4.) Ye Gods, the equipment.  I feel like I’m getting ready to scale Everest when I prepare for a bike ride – bike, helmet, bum bag, spare tub and flat kit, special pedals and matching shoes, padded shorts, gloves, helmet, sunglasses, shoe covers if it’s cold, and on and on.  It’s nuts.  To run, I need shoes, a sports bra, shorts, and a T-shirt.  Add rain jacket or long-sleeve shirt if it’s cold.  NBD.

5.) You can really lose yourself if your thoughts when you’re running.  I zone out to the point that I sometimes get lost.  Just one foot in front of the other.  Easy.

6.) Since you cover much shorter distances, getting lost is much less of a problem.  I’m constantly getting lost on the bike.

7.) No mechanical knowledge necessary.  No need to pump up tires, learn how to change a flat, or deal with chain problems.  No maintenance.

8.) Less chafing when running.  Enough said.

9.) Running is cheaper.

10.) Running is more social.  I admit this one is debatable, but I just do not enjoy trying to converse with someone when cycling.  I’m trying not to crash, and riding side by side just feels hazardous on the roads, and it’s hard to hear someone talking in front of you.  Running, on the other hand, is a great time to chat.

11.) Running is way more efficient.  There is pretty much no reason to train for more than 3 hours at a stretch, ever, unless you’re training for an ultramarathon.  (And why would anyone want to do that?)  Cyclists, on the other hand, habitually head out for 6 hour rides.

Why cycling is better:

1.) You can cover much longer distances and see the world around you.  I’ve cycled all over Seattle and the Eastside and seen so many parts of the city I’d never wandered through before.

2.) Coasting.

3.) Downhills on a bike are thrilling and require zero effort.  Running down a hill is easier than running up, but you’re still pounding.

4.) Running is harder on your body, in my opinion.  That pounding is tough.  There are a lot of overuse injuries in running.

5.) There’s really no such thing as an “easy run.”  An easy running pace is . . . walking.  In cycling, though, you can go slowly and still be cycling.  Cycling on flats is relatively easy and painless if you take your time.  The same cannot necessarily be said for running.

The “why running is better” list far eclipses the cycling list, but still, I’m excited to get back into cycling this summer.  It’s just fun, and all the drawbacks don’t seem to matter.  If I had to give up one or the other, I’d give up cycling in a second, but fortunately, I don’t, and cycling is great cross-training.