Safer cycling

I’ve mentioned before that I work at a university.  One of the things I’ve noticed as I hit town during my daily commute is an increasing number of cyclists on the road, biking to and from campus.  I think we’re all noticing more cyclists lately, because of high gas prices, but the ones I’ve been seeing are worth a comment.

More and more cyclists seem to be practicing what is called “vehicular cycling,” where bikes take their place among other traffic on the road, and cyclists follow the same rules cars must follow.  This morning, one fellow waited in a left turn lane about four cars back from the stoplight.  When the light changed, he pedaled hard to stay with the flow of cars around the corner, then reached the bike lane on the road he was turning on to, and settled in.  The cars behind him were not delayed by following a bike.

A four-lane road leads from the interstate highway toward campus.  This morning, a cyclist rode “as far to the right as practicable” and moved at a pretty good clip.  Cars passed him closely, because there’s no room for a bike lane on this road, but there is enough room for two cars and a bike — if everybody pays attention.

I’m also seeing more riders stop at stop signs and signal their turns.

Of course, there are always some jerks, but that’s not what this post is about.

As a larger number of cyclists ride according to the rules of the road, that boosts the chances that motorists will be more likely to accept their presence, and perhaps ease the antagonism between cyclists and drivers.

And before you ask — no, I’m not one of the bike commuters.  Unfortunately, I live 30 miles from work, and riding there is not a realistic choice — for me.

Songs in my head

Nothing unusual to report from this evening’s ride — so maybe I’ll report something usual.

When riding, I often get a song in my head — one that I can’t get out.

This evening, it was the harpsichord bridge from the Beatles’ “In My Life.” It’s just a short passage, and sounds out of place in the song. But it’s one of those things that sticks with you. Perhaps because it’s a rather short passage, it didn’t stick in my head for too long. Instead, it morphed into Pachelbel’s Canon, which seems to have roughly the same chord structure.

Normally, I’d get irritated when a song sticks in my head and I can’t shake it. But I can put up with Pachelbel. What really bugs me is when it’s a bad song. Then, you try to fight it, and it usually wins the fight. Luckily, I don’t get stuck with the really bad songs too often. Mostly, they’re ordinary pop music dreck.

This phenomenon has happened to me while golfing, too — and is particularly troublesome when I’m trying to line up a putt. You try to stand still over a three-footer when the Four Tops are singing, “Sugar Pie Honeybunch.” Some part of me will move in time with the beat, and then — here comes a bogey.

The trouble with the song in the head is that it never ends. If I get the song early in the ride, 15 miles later it’s still riffing along.

Oh, well. I guess I’ll just continue to live with it — and hope the next time I’m out, the song will be by Amy Winehouse, and not Wayne Newton.

How long should gloves last?

Got out for a nice 15-mile ride today — first time I’ve been on the bike in a week.  Felt great.  In fact, I think the ride was just what I needed to chase the last vestiges of my cold away.

Man, you can sure tell when you’ve been off the bike for several days.  I didn’t really feel like my old self until I had put down about eight miles.  But then, the legs seemed to loosen up and everything was all right.  I even chased down a rider some distance ahead of me, caught him and smoked him!  Nice to be the smoker for a change.  (Once again, he had no idea we were in a race.  But he was wearing a cycling jersey and shorts, and rode a pretty nice Specialized Roubaix.)

Today I wore the gloves that have been relegated to back-up status for the past few weeks.  They’d been showing signs of wear, so I got new gloves to wear on the century.  In fact, the new gloves were the ones I was wearing when I fell, and they did a great job of protecting my hands from the pavement.

Today’s ride reminded me why the previous pair is just used for back-up.  They’ve really deteriorated.  I bought them when I bought the bike, back in February — so that means I’ve had them for eight months.  And they’re shot.

The left one is in about the same condition.

Now, these are Pearl Izumi gloves.  I think PI makes good quality stuff, and I own a number of different items of theirs.  But eight months?  I’d a thunk these would last longer.  As I said, they’re still  good enoughfor back-up, or for short rides like today’s, but probably won’t be for much longer. Their replacements are also by Pearl Izumi, but a higher-priced model, with thicker padding, especially around the heel of the hand.

I wash my gloves about every two weeks, maybe more often in the summer when my hands get so sweaty they soak right through the synthetic leather palm .  I wonder if the washings contribute to their shorter life span?

What’s your experience with glove wear?