SF Cyclotouring

Ride reports and other ramblings from a San Francisco cyclist.


Getting Dropped

Getting Dropped
Originally uploaded by jimgskoop
Rode to work this past Wednesday with the SF2G crew. I was on my fixed-gear commuter, the other five guys were on geared go-fast bikes. And fast they went! Here is me, getting dropped just before San Mateo.

I like to think I'm in reasonably good cycling shape -- not especially strong but able to hold my own. I can do a 200k brevet in around ten hours fairly reliably, which isn't fast but is probably about average. However, over the past few months, I've participated in some group rides where I've suffered a bit more than expected, and have been totally non-competitive overall. I've been playing the age card (I'm probably ten years older than the average age of the rest of the group), but that's really a weak excuse.

I'm wondering whether my Eddy Merckx training regimen ("Ride lots") is sufficient. With a full time job and family commitments, "riding lots" is somewhat difficult. I usually do a day-long ride on the weekend, and manage a couple of days of bike commuting during the week (14 miles round trip). With SF2G, I've started riding all the way to work one day per week (45-50 miles on the fixed gear), which leaves me completely burnt and unable to focus on the rest of my work day.

So what's the best way to get stronger on the bike? Hill workouts? Interval training? Tell me what time-efficient methods work for you...


It's Better to Have Loved and Lost, than to have Never Loved at All...

Dammit. I'm kinda missing this bike these days...


In which we commence the tightening of the belt...

Dear World:

Due to the recent economic climate, and the fact that I might not have a job next month, I won't be buying any more bike stuff for a while. Like probably a couple of years. Got mortgages to pay, and all that...GULP!

Best Regards,
-Jim G


Straight Bar Bliss

Bontrager Pilot's View
Originally uploaded by jimgskoop
This weekend, I rode my MTB for the first time since March 2008. I've been riding my cyclocross bike off-road since then. I'd really forgotten how much more comfortable straight bars with bar ends (and good v-brake levers!) are...admittedly they don't feel as efficient on-road, but they are SO much more confidence-boosting when the going gets sketchy! The fact that the brake levers are mounted on the rear-most part of the control-interface greatly facilitates shifting your weight back behind the saddle during tricky technical descents.

Now I'm thinking I might convert my CX bike to the same flat-bar + bar-end setup...sort of like a "lightweight" 29er, or an "aggro" hybrid! I've got a spare flat handlebar, but I'd need to get the bar ends, grips, v-brake levers, and some 8spd shifters (Gripshift, preferably!). Hmm...I wonder if I'd need a different stem as well? At the least, maybe I'll try out a set of in-line levers on the tops of the drop bars, although it seems to me that strong braking from the tops of drop bars might feel too "narrow" to be stable during the sketchy stuff.

At any rate, food for thought, and another bike-project to add to the (ever-growing) list!


Taking Chances...

Today I bike-commuted to work, and I had two close calls with cars that were mostly due to me needlessly taking chances.

In the morning, I was in SF, headed uptown on Mission Street at 14th, waiting in the left-hand lane (two lanes in either direction) at a red light, intending to turn left onto 14th. 14th is a one way street, with two lanes of traffic. When I'm waiting to make this left turn at this intersection, I always feel vulnerable -- I figure it's only a matter of time before some motorist comes barreling down Mission, blathering on his cellphone or whatever, and plows right into that cyclist he didn't even see (that'd be me). So I always try to expedite the process of making this left turn. Today, as I was waiting at the light, I saw a huge line of cars stack up in the opposite direction, so I knew that I was going to have to sit at the intersection for several minutes more and wait for oncoming traffic to clear before I could make that left-hander, even though the light had turned green (refer to previous fear of getting smushed). So, I took a risk: when the light turned yellow and then red, but before traffic from 14th started moving, I slipped in a quick left-hand turn. Technically not a correct thing to do, but I really wanted/needed to get the heck out of the middle of traffic. Unfortunately, the SUV behind me also decided to try to jump the light, and came perilously close to grunching my rear wheel. I zigged and he zagged and we missed each other fortunately, but it reinforced the fact that I definitely need to be smarter about my tactics for that particular intersection. Sometimes when traffic (read: MUNI busses) won't let me get into the left-hand lane to properly make a normal left-hand turn, I execute a box or "two-point" turn which involves cutting across 14th Street and then turning to parallel the traffic flow in that direction and waiting at the light. Maybe I need to make this standard procedure?

Then in the evening, I was in Mountain View, exiting the Stevens Creek Trail where it intersects with Evelyn Ave. This path annoyingly exits onto a street on the opposite side of the direction I need to go, so I'm forced to somehow cut across 4 lanes of traffic to get to the other side where it's "safe" to ride. I was running late for my train and there was traffic on the road, so I hopped down off the curb and started riding the wrong way on the wrong side of the street. Bad, I know. A car was pulling out of a driveway just up ahead of me, and I incorrectly assumed that they'd seen me (I did have a strong headlamp on my bike, as well as a flashing helmet-mounted strobe). Apparently the driver was only looking for oncoming traffic and of course, just as I was in front of that car, he started going and so had to slam on the brakes at the last minute, stopping his bumper just inches from my left ankle. Of course I had no business riding as I was, but this car was also blocking the sidewalk, so what if there had been pedestrians trying to walk in front of that car?

At any rate, I need to be more attentive and follow my instincts better. In both of these situations my spidy-sense was tingling, telling me what I already knew -- that I was making risky choices.

Let's all be safe out there!