Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tires, bikes and rolling resistance . . .

. . . can make probably one of the single biggest differences for the recreational rider.  Let's say for argument sake that for whatever reasons, you have a fairly standard Mountain bike?  Doesn't matter how old or new it is, or what kind of condition it is in, your ride on pavement can tend to be less enjoyable, and more work, if you are running nice "normal" mountain bike tires.  "Fat" tires as they are also at times called, have much more traction, and a greater amount of surface area that connects you and your bike to the ground.  This of course means MUCH greater "rolling resistance" which in simple terms, means how fast you can go.  It all means that even rolling downhill, you are going to slow down and stop much sooner with a fat tire than a thin one.  That's just simple physics.  Most people who first learn how to ride, do so on fairly normal, pavement oriented bicycle tires, and that is to say, pretty smooth, no real tread to speak of, and they roll really well.  So we get this perception of speed and feel that kinda stays with us.  So much so that our first time on a Mountain Bike with "Fat" tires can seem all wrong.  Like it's slower and harder to ride than what we might be used to.  Honestly, that's because it is.  All that tread, and the greater surface area, increases rolling resistance on smooth, solid, paved surfaces, like streets.  So if you're not soon going to be "getting dirty" as the saying goes for mountain biking, swap those knobby fat boys out for some city slicks.

While there is a big difference in wheel sizes between road and mountain bike wheels, they DO make an assortment of tires that will give you a several mile per hour speed increase, and decrease your rolling resistance significantly on a standard mountain bike wheel.  Just swap out the tire and tubes and off you go.  Something like the Ritchy Tom Slick Mountain Bike Tire (on the left) will do the trick and make for a very different ride on pavement.  The ride will be faster with less noise, and less work for the same speed.  Plus going up and down hills you're not going to have top work as hard.  Plus they are a fairly inexpensive change you can make to a standard mountain bike that will give you a whole lot more pleasure if you're going to run on city streets or paved trails.

Now, if your know what you're doing, all you will need to make this change are new tires, tubes and a pump, no tools required.  Few minutes per wheel with no tools and off you go!  I'm not even kidding.  "No tools?  Is she insane?  It's not possible... " I can almost hear you thinking from here.

But it is, and thanks to Asa Sales at Team Estrogen, it's easy to learn how to do it yourself!  She goes into great deal about how exactly you quickly and easily change your own tires with no tools and no fuss.  So there's really no reason for me to go into how to do it here, especially given what a great job Asa does.  So a heartfelt thanks to Asa for doing a wonderful job of making the whole process simple and easy to understand!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Had to share this here . . .

After waking up from a particularly horrific nightmare this morning the following thought sprang, unbidden from my head:
Why don't Zombies eat Psychopaths?
          For the same reason Sharks 
        generally don't eat Lawyers, 
        Professional Courtesy!

No, you're not seeing things . . .

 . . . I've made some changes to the look of my blog.  Decided it was more than time.  I hope I'm not catching anyone up short?  

So I started the month strong in terms of getting out and riding.  My plan was to cover at least as much ground as last month, if not a bit more.  Each month since I got Serenity I've been increasing the distance I ride and May had me cover 54 miles.  I figured I'd shoot for 60, seemed like a reasonable goal right?

Well I git carried away.  By the end of the second week I was at 49 miles.  Since then I've pushed on further, done longer rides in new places.  26 miles on the Little Miami Trail, 10 at Winton and then another long ride (for me) of 24.2 at Little Miami again.  I've traveled through almost a dozen towns and three counties, on a bike.  I set a new goal of 100 miles and promptly passed that one with time left in the month.  I'm at nearly 120 miles for June and my new goal, since it's so close now, is to burn Ten Thousand Calories (10,000) for the month of June.  As of this note, I'm 205 calories away from that goal and I have six days left in the month.  I think I can manage that.

While so far I've not seen a major change in what the scale says, I am noticing major differences in my life.  I'd not been in the saddle since Sunday and was itching to spent sometime along the river.  I did what I always do and checked the weather before I decided what I was going to do.  The temperature with the high humidity was pegged at 100 degrees and once not so long ago I wouldn't have even vaguely considered leaving the house.  Today I shrugged and figured I'd be sweating because of the riding anyway, so what the heck, I loaded up and made my way over to Dearborn. Eight miles later and I'm not all that sweaty.

Which brings me to the biggest change.  I'm no longer so much at the mercy of heat and humidity.  Gotta tell you, I'm really digging it!  Plus the places I've seen are wonderful.  All peaceful, quiet, scenic, and natural.  The flora and fauna I've been seeing, included a baby skunk today.  It was so utterly adorable, but there was NO way I was going to risk getting it annoyed with me.  Dearborn is so quiet and mellow I have been timing things so that my last run through is after sunset. Technically dusk really, and the moon above the river is lovely, and then there are the fireflies.  Thousands of them all along the trail.  It's amazing!  I love it!  Hopefully I'll get a chance to take the big camera down there and share the view with you all.  I know the camera is more than capable of shotting some stunning night pictures, so we'll see what I manage to do.  I can see some pictures in my minds eye that I want to share with you, so hopefully, I'll pull it all together and make it happen.  

Friday, June 18, 2010

26.2 on a bike!

Yesterday was awesome.  It was fun, relaxing and completely amazing.  It was also even more new records for me.  Like 26.2 miles in one day.  2162 Calories burned in a single day.  13 miles one way nonstop.  Set out from the parking area at a distance behind a riding team that was heading up to Loveland and back which was also my goal.   Actually my goal for the day was 21 miles, which would have put me at 70 miles ridden for the moth so far. Anyway I figured I'd next see the riding team as I was still heading to Loveland and they'd already been there and were on the way back.  Well sort of.  I actually made it to Loveland as they were starting back.  They'd stopped for a break and had something to drink and were headed back to the Avoca trailhead and parking area.  We cheered each other on and they mentioned I'd made good time.  They thought I'd still be heading toward Loveland as they were on the way back. Turns out I made better time than any of us expected..

My intention for the day was to make it about distance and endurance.  Staying mounted up continuously and not stopping to sit or walk around briefly.  Plus, this was the first time I was riding with my new water bottles and frame mounted cage for them.  This way I had no reason to have to stop to fish my bottle out of my fanny pack.  I figured I was going to pace myself and stay light and easy, not push for speed.  I didn't keep and eye on my speed, just figured I'd settle int a gentle pace and do 10 miles per hour out and back.  This was after all my first ride on this trail, so I thought I'd take it easy.  Well I missed the 10mph mark.  When all was said and done I was running at 11.2 mph average for the entire trip.  Loveland I stopped in and wandered around briefly to get a feel for it.  It's a common destination for folks riding the trail I'd heard and finally understand why.  Mind you I've lived in Ohio two years now and had never been there by car.

The team of course was riding there, other people I've talked to, including one of the nurses at my doctors office rides to Loveland and back on the weekends with her Daughter.  As she said, "Well we ride to Loveland, have an Ice Cream, and then ride back.  I NEED that ice cream to make the trip work for me, it helps me get back after riding that far."  Well I made it to Loveland, and found the place they get ice cream, and kept going.  I have my ice cold riding tea that was tasty, refreshing, and really good for me.  Was really nice to be able to reach down, grab the bottle and take a drink while I was riding.  Really nice!  Sparkling, tasty, citrus and just a hint of sweet from the honey.  An entire slightly more than half liter bottle of it is only 90 calories, where as the ice cream is probably 90 calories a spoonful!

And then came the trip back.  Pointed Serenity south and lit her up.  Again, 13 miles nonstop of just flowing and enjoying the ride.  Well, almost nonstop.  There are a few road crossings where one needs to stop and check for vehicles coming, but those are just toe down, look, listen, and haul.  So those I don't really count as stops.  Plus cyclists are so common along this route that I was pleased when people in cars were stopping and waving me on.  I really like that.  I really like that a whole lot.

But it was a blessed ride, and the longest single day ride I'd done to date.  26 miles instead of the planned 21 takes me to 75 miles in for the month.  On a bike.  It's also 6268 calories burned this month riding.  Which frankly, makes me a happy girl.  A VERY happy girl.  My first weight loss goal for my new life as a cyclist I set back in March when I got Serenity.  My plan was to lose five pounds by August.  When I stepped on the scale last night it said I've already lost 4.6 pounds.  I still have a month and a half to go!

26.2 on a bike, that's the equivalent of a full marathon in terms of distance.  I done good!  And for those who might like to see where in the world I did this, you can just click and Google Maps will bring up all the details.  Probably the most fun was to again catch up with the whole biking crew as I rolled back into the parking lot.  They had just finished mounting up their bikes and getting ready to head out.  All in all, a most amazing and freeing day.  I also find it slightly ironic now that I've seen more of Ohio from the saddle of a bike than any other way, and that I've been to towns on a bike that I've not yet been to in a car.  I've been to Loveland Ohio now, window shopped, got to see some of the town and I've never been there with my car.  I have no doubt I'll be there again, in fact there's a restaurant that smelled good that I want to try.  And I'll probably get there on my bike.   And it will no doubt be another day of 26 (or more) miles on a bike.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mountain biking suddenly makes sense . . .

. . . or why some girls get dirty.

For years Mountain Biking never made much sense to me.  That girls, women of otherwise sound mind would?  Well that was a puzzlement.  Not because we are any less than guys in any way, just that well, I don't know, it meant getting dirty.  And not just take a quick shower dirty, but I mean really dirty, even, the horror, coming off a bike and getting beat up kind of dirty.  Why would someone want to do that?

I bought a mountain bike figuring I'd work my way up to it.  Suddenly getting dirty isn't such a bad thing, then again there if the fact that some people I know, respect, and admire do it and hey, they enjoy it.  Dirt and all.  The other thing that really helped it click?  Memories of being on a horse years ago, flying through meadows, woods, along the river, around the lake.   Deep, powerful memories that were awakened in me, and the feelings of freedom and flight, that so speak to my love of cycling.

I have enough trouble affording me, keeping a roof over my head and food in me.  No way that I can afford a horse, or a roof over it's head, and food to feed it, or a pasture to run around in.  I'd love to have a horse and be able to go riding again, but that's not going to happen anytime soon.

Which is when it hit me.  I own a mountain bike.  A Mountain bike WILL take me through meadows, woods, along the rive and around the lakes all I want.  I can afford her, care for her, house her, and I don't need to give her a piece of land to run around in when we are not riding.  Instead she sits here in the living room waiting for me to take her out.

I can take her on mountain bike trails, flowing through the terrain, enjoying the sounds and sights of nature.  Together we can and do fly.  I really get mountain biking now.  "Smooth and flowing singletrack" now really means something to me, and one day soon, I'm going to get me some of that.  I'm going to get dirty!  Mountain biking now makes sense to me!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Change when you least expect it, and good things . . .

. . . that happen when you don't expect it.

After the personal victory of my last post, I decided that I wanted some more of Dearborn Trail.  If fact I wanted much more.  So on Thursday the 10th I was back over there, this time looking to increase my distance and pace myself a bit.

I really, really, enjoyed myself, and a place that I at first thought was going to be a terrible place to ride has quickly become one of my favorites.  My first time there I complained about all the spots that are marked "Cyclists Dismount" or something along those lines.  Like the four tunnels and one railroad crossing.  My first time there I did exactly that at every crossing on the trip out, but cheated and rode through on the way back.  Turns out that one time, was probably the ONLY time, anyone really followed the signs.  Everyone rides through, as now I do.  Makes for a much better ride.

Which is when it dawned on me, Dearborn has quickly become on of my favorite places to ride.  It has also become the longest distance single session ride I've done.  Thursday it was 16.64 miles.  Me in my cute little riding shorts and tank top, just flying through the woods, along and over the rivers (creeks really) to the other trail head and back I'd go.  It's not as busy as Winton Woods, and people seem to pay way more attention and listen when I intone "Passing on your left."  SO I don't have to stop as often for the utterly clueless who meander along a trail taking up both sides, ignoring other people who are there.  The folks at dearborn, actually listen and make room for me to come by.  It's refreshing, courteous and makes for a much better trip and time on the trail for everyone.

And Dearborn Trail?  Oh baby I love it!  There's peace and quiet there, and while it's a shortish trail, by making multiple laps I can run the distance up easily.  16.64 miles worth today.  Such a pleasure!  Plus because I tend to prefer afternoon rides, when the sun is going down, and the air is getting cooler I get to see the light show on the last lap.  Fireflies!  Tens of thousands of them along the miles of riverfront I'm running!  And all those tunnels that bothered me so much on the first trip?  I now shoot right through them as long as I can do so safely without risking anyone's health or mine.  So change can be good.  And good changes, bring good things, like a simply lovely ride through the countryside.  I see rabbits, deer, gophers, ducks, geese, birds galore, and it's so peaceful and quiet there.  Except of course when I shoot over the one bridge at highspeed.   Now that, well it sounds like rolling thunder.

If you'd like to see where it is I'm talking about, thanks to my clever phone and the wonders of Google Maps, you can see on lap from end to end I recorded back in May.  In fact you'll see thumbnails of pictures along the route too, most of which where shot be me on my first trip. The joys and wonders of tools that actually work correctly and are simple and easy to use.  It's wonderful!  And me, I'm growing, changing and exploring new places all the time.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Flying in style a long way from where I was . . .

. . . a few short years ago.

Monday I pulled just over 13 miles on a trail in Indiana.  I was thinking that I really enjoy it because it was relatively flat so I could really haul.  Then I looked at the data from my cycling computer.  You see I use my smart phone as a combination workout/cycling computer.  Because it's GPS based, it also shows my the elevation changes in the course of my work out as well.  So here I am flying back and forth over a course that is just about 4 miles end to end.  Imagine my surprise to see that in that four miles there's some pretty decent elevation changes.  640 feet worth of climbing in fact.  Which struck me as funny given that I was thinking of it as fairly flat.  I broke some of my existing records in this session.  Like a top speed of 18.95 miles per hour and 1092 calories burned in a single work out.  Like maintaining an average speed of 12 miles per hour overall.  And my personal favorite, the sound of rolling thunder the one bridge makes as I fly over it.  It's a large steel bridge, with the travel surface being made up of wood slates that have a certain amount of give to them to account for heating and cooling.  So the tires flying over them cause the boards to flex and slap.  Makes the coolest noise.

By far the best part was the fifteen minutes I took to sit there soaking up the place, the sounds, smells, sights, and the sunset.  The peace and quiet I could and did let soak into and through me.  Grounding and centering.  Which is when it struck me.  I've come a long way in a short period of time.  I've done a great deal of healing in a short period of time.  I mean it's not just the almost thousand plus miles of distance between me and most of the madness, but it's how much I've grown and changed.

Three years ago I hardly ever left the house.  When/if I did, it was usually with someone else.  Rarely I'd go to one of two parks I felt safe in, and even then, I didn't talk to anyone and avoided folks like the plague.   I didn't go far, or fast, and I was constantly wound up tighter than the tightest spring, waiting for the next shoe to drop.  I was a complete and total basket case.  Five years ago this month I'd only just had a nervous breakdown the month before, was still being stalked and terrorized by Earl and his folks.  My lawyer was dragging his ass on everything because he just had no clue what it was like to be a battered woman.  Plus I was living with my sister-in-law if you could call that living right up until two years ago.  She was (and is) in her own way as much a mess as I, and wasn't taking her own life seriously.  Often because of proximity I got dragged into her mess because I was hiding out in a room in her house.   I'd have to step up with money I didn't have to keep the lights, gas, and water on because she was, is, incapable of balancing a budget or paying the bills.  The house was in foreclosure, so I'm panicking to try and avoid winding up living in my car, while trying to save enough money to escape.  Not a good combination as it was.  I was heading to another nervous breakdown or worse.

So Monday?  Soaking up the place and time I was, taking a short break from a ride that turned out to be 13 miles?  Back on a bike doing some really serious cycling?  Not for that moment worried about anything or anyone.  Just being in the moment.  An endless string of moments of that wonderful day when I was busting my tail and burning calories, but having so much fun doing it.  Flying on this rail trail along the Ohio river  worrying about nothing for a change an letting myself enjoy the flight.  And at speeds up to almost 19 miles per hour, I was indeed flying!  Flying a long way from where I was . . .