Friday, December 23, 2016

Riding my bike in 2016

I was having a pretty good year of cycling this year and in September I thought I may ride 5,000 miles this year, if nothing changes.  I was commuting regularly and getting in a lot of rides, if not long rides, every week.  Then this happened.  I'm better now and the bike was replaced with a slightly nicer one and I while I didn't make it to 5,000, I rode over 3,832 miles this year, which is more miles more than I rode any other year except for last year.  So this is how the year went:

Road rides

I rode almost 1,500 miles on my road bike this year.  And I hardly rode in September before the crash, what with a wedding that we traveled for and conference in Canada that didn't involve bikes.  And I haven't been on my road bike since the collision.  So I must have been getting out regularly.  I did ride 200 miles over the two weeks we spent in Chatham.  But the rides weren't special, at least any more special than just getting on a bike and riding it is special.  And riding on Ocean View Road in Wellfleet is pretty special, especially heading south.  Besides those Cape rides, I can't say that I did any spectacular rides on the IF this year but any ride on the IF is fun.  The bike is 9 years old and it still feels new and crisp whenever I get on it.


This year I commuted mostly on my old Surly Cross Check until it was no more, a total of 1768 miles.  I rode 230 commuting miles on my Swobo 3 speed, either in the snow or when I was between my Surly Cross Checks or when I was leaving a bike near Harvard Square for the day.  And I commuted 215 miles on the new Surly this year.  I'm not especially spoked commuting (which I was doing when I was involved in that collision) but I did change the roads that I used.  A major change was trying to avoid the Porter Square intersection and trying to stay over Mass Ave as much as possible.

Anything else?

The rest of the miles where short trips with the boys and/or my wife, including some fun rides on the Reformatory Branch Trail and one in Estabrook Woods with one son on a third wheel or trail-a-bike.  I enjoyed what I think is my fourth Diverged Ride from Ride Studio Cafe.  I missed both the D2R2 and Honey Hundred because of scheduling issues.

I wasn't an active coffeeneur this year, mostly because I couldn't ride for the first part of the challenge and later deciding to ride was challenging for a while.  If you have been in a collision you may understand that sentiment.  I did make maps for the challenge this year and I hope to ride and drink coffee for the challenge next year.

Bike changes:

Well, I have a new Surly Cross Check, this one built up by Ride Studio Cafe.  It's largely the same bike with some nice changes:

  • A Chris King headset replaced the Cane Creek S3.
  • The front dynamo hub is a Som 28, an upgrade from the Shimano 3N80.
  • A set of Paul Components Neo Retro brakes replace Tektro (rear) and Avid Shorty 4 (front).
  • Velo Orange fenders replace the Portland Design Works city fender but that's because I wanted to run wider tires than the PDW fenders could accomodate.
  • 38 mm Compass tires vs the 35 mm Compass tires.
  • A narrow Tubus rear rack, replacing the Blackburn rack
While it's not that different from the old one, it feels like a much nicer bike and it is fun to ride.  The build by the Studio is pretty nice.

My 2007 Somerville Independent Fabrication Club Racer is largely unchanged.  I just replaced the tires, going from Clement LGG Strada 25 mm to the 28 mm Continental Grand Prix tires.  I would have tried the Clement in 28 but I couldn't find them locally.  In going to 28 mm, I had to drop the fenders.  Now that the Surly seems faster (and probably is as fast as I want to/can go), I felt that I didn't need fenders on my road bike.  If it's going to rain and I'm still riding then I'll take the new Surly.

My 3 speed Swobo Novak now has a front dynamo wheel, the relatively inexpensive one that Harris Cyclery sells, along with the Busch and Mueller EYC headlight and Toplight taillight.  I needed that after I was well enough to commute and my new bike wasn't yet built up.  I've enjoyed commuting all of the way to work and sometimes just to Alewife on the Swobo.  I already put the 35 mm Schwalbe Marathon Winter studded tires on it for an early December snow commute.  I'm surprised that I can make the 15 mile round trip commute on the very heavy Schwalbe tires without too much effort.  I've been through a couple of light snow events and am pretty happy that I bought these before last winter.

Next year?

All I can hope for is staying healthy and out of the way of cars.  I still dream of long rides on quiet roads in Western Massachusetts.  For those from Boston, or somewhere else, Western Massachusetts ends somewhere close to the east side of the Quabbin Reservoir.  Maybe I will get to go on a short tour or even a S24O,  Don't worry if you don't know what that means since I may not get the chance to ride one so we'll be about even.  I will continue to commute on my bicycle because it's fun and saves time.  It's not faster for me to ride but at least I get some exercise rather than sitting in a car for about 10 or 15 hours a week,

It's been a hard year in the world and getting some exercise and getting outside is an important strategy for me in coping with stress and uncertainty.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Riding in the snow

I went out for a ride in the snow this morning, just to get outside and play.  I didn't go far, just a couple of miles that brought me up the hill to nearby woods and a quiet neighborhood.  It was great fun and included a short bicycling history lesson.

I'm not sure if I have been on this street before.  Just down the hill is Pleasant Street.
The road surfaces were perfect for my tires, which are studded but not meant for deep snow (the 35 mm Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires with about 240 studs).  I felt pretty safe out there.  I also went through Menotomy Rocks Park, which was both a winter wonderland and a safe haven for dog walkers who are friendly and talkative.

The snow was deeper by the time I got to the park but still easily passable for me.
I met several people in the park.  One woman was impressed that I was riding and and though the studded tires were a great idea.  It turns out she is very closely connected to cycling.  She asked me if I knew about this race, really a ride that a few people did called "Boston Montreal Boston" (yes, I've heard about it although I never even thought of trying it!) that she finished and talked about riding with John Allison and knew Pamela Blalock. Her love of bicyling was passed down to her son: he rides a lot and lives near and climbs Mount Tam frequently.  She said he owns a Firefly and a Moots.  She didn't want the notoriety of having her picture on the web but did want a picture of me to share with her son.

I also met a guy who said he was a racer by telling me that he shaved his legs until he was forty.  That allusion may not have been clear to everyone.  He told me that he was a cat 4 racer and not very fast and that if I looked him up by his last name that I would find his cousin.  She was the real racer in his family.

And, finally, I met a group of women who were interested in how I could ride in the snow.  After checking out my tires they told me stories of cyclists in the neighborhood including a 78 year old guy who rides 300 miles a week.  And they told me about another neighbor, Bob Selker, who worked at the MIT Media Lab and commuted to work in a French speedo bathing suit so people would notice him.

Not bad for a short time on my 3 speed.