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Tag Archive: velorution

A New Year Is New Excitement

2008 is here (I say that as if it were news) and I must say that I am excited about the year ahead. I have never really been one for setting resolutions but that is most likely attributed to my age. There is a certain instability of life that comes with being 24 years old – odds are I will be doing something completely different (career, personal hobbies, etc.) in 6 months from what I do now. However, I see a lot of exciting things ahead of me this year, and bike commuting is at the top of that list.

I have only been bike commuting since August 2007, but have biked an average 4 work days out of 5 for those past 5 months. I have been able to continue riding into winter since I live in Arizona – we’ve had a couple mornings in the upper 30s so far, but it could certainly be much worse.

After reading Jack’s post I set up an account at bikejournal.com; hopefully I can keep up with my mileage numbers. I don’t know the exact breakdown, but the cyclometer on my road bike has 3276 registered miles and it just turned 2 years old – meaning I am averaging ~1600 miles per year. In addition, my mountain bike shows 704 miles on the cyclometer (I have only had it since June), giving me a total of ~4000 miles biked in the past two years. I would say that I rode more miles this past year than the former, and assume the breakdown is more like 1800/2200. Based on how much I have been riding and what I predict to ride this year, I want to shoot for 2500 miles ridden in 2008 (this is a GOAL, not a resolution).

I head back to work tomorrow after being on vacation since Dec. 21. Our forecast for tomorrow shows sun with 46 degrees in the morning and 69 degrees by the afternoon. This has me so excited about getting on the saddle tomorrow morning as I head to the office. And what better way to spend New Years Day than getting my bike ready to go?! It is a bit chilly outside today but the winds are howling around 20 mph sustained, so it just feels right to stay inside, wearing my new fluffy slippers, and wrenching and scrubbing around on my aluminum steed.

After brewing a fresh pot of coffee, I got to work and scrubbed off all the dirt and grime from my wheels, frame, drive-train, etc. I made sure my shift- and brake-cables were properly tightened and adjusted; made sure the chain and derailleurs were grit-free and properly lubed; sipped on my java and rocked out to some Nickel Creek.

The Velorution is coming at you 2008 – I have a feeling it will be a good year! May all of you have a safe and Velo-rific year. Happy Riding!

Tales of Winter Riding in the Desert

I got to ride in the rain yesterday. To some, this might not seem like a big deal, or may even be a daily nuisance; but to me, it IS a big deal. I live in Phoenix. We never get rain. The past two weekends have ushered in some rain as this massive storm system moves across the mid-west and Rockies. When I woke up yesterday morning, I was rather surprised to see moisture on the ground as I stepped outside to check how cold (read: brisk) it was.

At first I had to run through my alternate options of transport, but then I remembered that I have been waiting for this day since I started bike commuting in August. Granted, I yearned for that day in August for completely different reasons, but I still wanted to get some experience riding on wet roads – if for nothing more than my own cycling “continuing education.”

I dressed the same as I have been lately, wearing a compression shirt, half-zip lightweight pullover and my bright yellow windbreaker, which naturally doubles as a rain jacket. It was not actually raining when I left, but the roads were wet, and I got some drizzles along the way.

Rains came and went throughout the day, and I saw a little bit of a heavier downpour on the ride home – but still nothing too crazy. A good introduction to inclimate-weather riding.

The highlight of the day was the surprised look on my co-workers faces when they saw that I rode my bike to work, even though it was raining. Due to the lack of rain in this city, people in Phoenix seem to get thrown off enough by the thought of driving a car in the rain – let alone riding a bike.

In my continuing efforts to make bike commuting look as easy as it really is, I simply commented that riding in this poor weather was not much different than other days. I didn’t dress any differently than I do on a cold day. Naturally, you want to be more aware of your surroundings and more attentive to drivers who might do something stupid, but a little rain is no reason to leave the bike at home.

That’s right, the Velorution is waterproof!

I also broke my shoe yesterday. Bummer.

As I was walking down the steps of my apartment with my bike, the heel of my cycling shoe got stuck on the lip of the previous step. As I continued moving forward, my shoe stayed in place and I ripped the top velcro strap right off of the shoe. Thankfully, my shoes have 3 straps, so even though I ripped off the most important strap, the shoe is still functional. It was looser than normal (obviously) but I was able to ride to and from work without incident. I will reluctantly begin a quest to replace the shoes – but I guess in the grand scheme of things, getting more than 2 years out of a pair of cycling shoes is pretty decent…well at least in the age of the “replace your gear each season” mentality.

While it is not ultimately the shoe manufacturers fault that the velcro strap ripped off my shoe, I am still disappointed that I have to replace the shoes. There is still one perfectly good shoe remaining that will become useless. I will continue to ride with these shoes until I honestly feel that they threaten my safety or ability to ride.

On the bright side, had the strap not ripped off, I most likely would have fallen down the 2 or 3 remaining steps as my heel got jammed in between steps, and would have landed (painfully) on the cement with a bike on top of me, or worse, me on top of the bike.

Every cloud has a silver lining it seems…

On the Anatomy of a Bike Commuter

In my [still] short time being a bike commuter I have been able to notice some significant bodily adaptations, especially with regards to aerobic fitness. During the first weeks/month or two, I was relatively in tune with the what was happening. Even going from a competitive triathlete’s training schedule to biking a [seemingly] mere 17 miles each day produced some significant changes in body composition and metabolic rate. For the first month of daily bike commuting [the ‘August project’] I would wake up with a slight sore-ness throughout my legs, which eventually faded as my legs became used to the constant stress. One of the nice results of this was an exciting amount of increased definition in my leg muscles, particularly my calves muscles. My metabolism seemed to bump up a little – but nothing too exceptional (I was coming off the end of a 6-day a week triathlon training schedule…).

The human body never ceases to amaze me how it can adapt, or even how it functions in general.

Now into my fourth straight month of bike commuting, I am noticing more physical adaptation – but it is different this time. My body has finally realized that it is not being trained for competition. The power of muscular function is being reduced to allow for the extra endurance that is being expected. I tried including some sprints into my ride home yesterday, but I felt sluggish and not as explosive as I used to.

But my running performance has seemed to increase. Since I began bike commuting, the miles I have logged with my running shoes has decreased by nearly 60-70% – YET last night I was able to run a 5k faster than I would when I was training for triathlons, and with an easier effort. A week ago, I went for a run – having not gone running for at least 2 weeks – and was able to maintain a very good pace with no discomfort.

It seems my metabolism has normalized as well, much as my muscles have. My body seems to have become a very efficient calorie burning machine and is able to maintain the functionality that I demand on a lesser diet. This part is actually sad to me in a way, because it means that whenever I eat more than I legitimately need to, I can tell.

While I have been in tune with how my body has responded to the stress I place on it as a bike commuter, I had a ‘duh’ moment today: my body no longer responds and requires the nourishment it did when I was a “competitive athlete.” Bike commuting continues to be a learning experience for me, and I think I have finally shed the mentality that I am training to be a competitive athlete. I will [hopefully] always continue to participate in recreational competitions because I love the experience of being at races: I love the excitement and anticipation, I love the physical challenge of the race itself, and I love the feeling of accomplishment afterwards. The beauty of my situation now is that I am able to maintain a solid and above-average level of fitness without having to spend any time in a weight room or on a treadmill.

That’s right, the Velorution made me a better runner!