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First Time on Bike in a While - RonO's Ramblings — LiveJournal

Sep. 19th, 2010 06:05 pm First Time on Bike in a While

This afternoon, I needed to run over to CVS to pick up a prescription and a couple of other small things (one of which I just now realized I forgot).  Because it wasn’t too hot, nor too late, I decided that this would be a good opportunity to get onto my bike for the first time in way too long (probably 8 months to a year).

So I located the bike lock and my “sling” pack, filled my SIGG water bottle and went into the garage to pull down my bike (which is the only one hanging on the hooks).  As I was taking the bike down I noticed that both tires were flat, so before heading out I had to inflate them.  And, it wasn’t until I’d finished – or so I thought – with the first tire that I found the pressure recommendations.  Of course, the minimum was lower than what I’d guessed.  More for time than any other reason, I filled up to enough above the minimum.  Once I’d put away the pump (which lives in my car) I headed out.

The first two short blocks weren’t bad.  But when I turned onto the access road for out neighborhood (Mantinal Road) I started heading up a steep hill.  Before I made it all the way to the top I was on the largest gear in the back (I was still on the middle gear in front so I did have one better gear ratio, but I can never map the numbers on the shifter to bigger and smaller gears in the front) and was still not making it up the hill.  So I gave up and walked the last quarter block or so.

Once I got to the top, I rested a bit and then turned onto Rancho Bernardo Road (heading west).  The hill continued for another few blocks, but not quite a steep.  But by the time I reached the peak, I was quite tired.  I had been able to shift into faster ratios.  But then it started a long slow drop.

This drop felt pretty good, except for the realization that I’d have to come back up it on the way home.  Most of the way to the bottom I reached the road I’d have to make a left turn onto to get to the CVS, only to discover that the only cross walk was on the near side.  Given that RB Road is a 50 MPH 4 lane road, I figured I’d be better off walking the bike across at the cross walk, so I waited twice for the light.  I then headed less than a full block to the center entrance and to CVS.

The next discovery is that CVS (nor anywhere else in the quite large “town plaza” shopping center that I could see) had any bike racks.  And I was far from the only bicyclist shopping – even if I was the oldest by 30 or so years.  So I chained the bike to a handicapped parking sign and when in and got my prescription.  I then went back out, drank about half of my water and headed back out.

I decided to walk my bike out to the corner rather than making a left turn across a somewhat less major road with no light, or ride the wrong direction along a fairly busy parking lot.  Since the center has a sidewalk that leads directly to the corner – even if I had to walk between a couple of restaurants – this was not too difficult.

The ride home started with the return trip up the long, but less steep hill.  I didn’t do quite as badly as I did on the way to the store, but worse than I might have if I wasn’t already tired   from the trip out.  I did get a couple of breaks for red lights (yes, when I’m on a bike I stop for red lights – I know not all cyclists do).  These were kind of mixed blessings.  I got to rest, but then lost any momentum  I had.

Once I reached the top, the downhill was a nice relief.  The only major problem was that I had to stop part way down where I was going to have to turn (left again).  First, I had to stop for the light when it changed for unnecessary traffic calming (I was about the only vehicle stopped by this red).  Then I had to wait for the light a second time so I could cross since by the time it turned green there were cars waiting.

Once I got onto the access road, I hardly had to peddle until I was nearly to my first turn.  On the other hand I think a malicious cop could have given me a speeding ticket for exceeding the 25 mph limit – as opposed to when I was doing 5 or less along a 50 mph road, at least with a bike lane.

Once I got home, I realized how tired I was, and collapsed on the bed with the fan running while I drank the rest of my water and tried to warn the cat that I wasn’t anyone he wanted to snuggle with at the moment.

I enjoyed the ride, but again was reminded how badly out of shape I am – or at least how out of shape I am with regards to the muscles used extensively in biking.  I also was reminded that I’ve never really learned how to climb hills effectively, something that was rarely a problem in Bartlett, but is a major issue in Rancho Bernardo – and most of San Diego except for the downtown areas 30 or more miles away.

One thing I do need to do to help with this is get out on my bike more.  Given our weather around here, the only excuses I have for not riding most days are time and lighting, and lighting could be solved by applying money to acquire technology.

3 comments - Leave a commentPrevious Entry Share Next Entry


Date:September 20th, 2010 03:06 am (UTC)
Good for you for getting on the bike! I admire your stamina on all those hills! Not something we have to worry about here in the flatlands :-) Try something a little less hilly next time!
Date:September 20th, 2010 04:38 am (UTC)
Unfortunately, from the house there is no "less hilly," at least not if I want to go any further than about three very short blocks.

Although looking at the terrain (a.k.a topo) map available through Google Maps, it does look like there may be a route from my house that would have a drop of between 240' and 260' (from about 640' at the house to below 400' along Lake Hodges) and then a mostly level run. This would be a bit more gentle of a climb back, with a couple of ups and downs in between, but would still be a drop down and a climb back up. And it involves a really oddly placed bike path - both directions along one side of a two-line, not too slow, road with no barrier. I may give it a try next weekend.
Date:September 20th, 2010 01:59 pm (UTC)
For most non-daily bike usage, if you need to use the light to see by, the best front light is actually a flashlight. The people making inexpensive bike-specific lighting have not kept up with technology that well. www.shiningbeam.com is a US distributor with bike mounts and AA powered flashlights in the $25 to $30 range that will fry any bike-specific light.

Some people prefer to mount their headlight on their helmet, some on the bars. Your choice. Head mounting means you can point it where you want easily; around corners or into the eyes of some idiot who's about to left-cross you.

If you "just" need the light to be seen, one of the flashing bike-specific lights can be a good choice. The Planet Bike Blaze, either 1 or 2 watt version is one that people seem to like. Personally, in an urban area I think you need a fair amount of light to stand out from the noise and I'd go for a brighter light but the flashing does seem to make up for a lack of horsepower, and the Blaze does seem to be well built and is the end result of several generations of design updates.

On the back, I'd really recommend going with one of the many lights with a 1/2 watt or higher main LED. The Planet Bike Superflash is the perennial favorite here and you should be able to find it at a bike shop for $20 or so. My personal favorite right now is the Radbot 1000 which has a 1 watt LED, and is about $30.

Planet Bike has a Blaze + Superflash combo that seems a good deal. They're both perfectly acceptable lights.

If anyone reading this is (or is planning to be) a regular night-time commuter, then I really, really recommend just biting the bullet and going to geomangear.com and buying the MagicShine headlight AND taillight. For a combined $115 or so you simply can't beat them. I have had cars pass me with less light than my Magicshine. And they both run off a single LiIon pack so you only have one thing to remember to charge.

$115 seems like a lot, but it's a fraction of what this much lighting cost just 3 or 4 years ago. And trust me, I've spent more than that buying $30 or $40 "good enough" lights that weren't. One $35 bike-specific light that I bought was so bad I got 1/2 mile from home, turned around and came back and never used it again.