Autumn doldrums

Yeah, I know, the doldrums are associated with hot weather, and it’s actually starting to get a bit cool around here now. But given the way my biking has been going over the last few weeks, I think I qualify for being in at least the biking doldrums.

I’ll blame it on my century ride. Leading up to that ride, I worked hard to put in the mileage that would allow me to finish it without struggling. I got stronger on hills, my endurance improved, my weight dropped (a little bit). It was fun to see how many miles I rode in a given month. I was in the mid-300s in July and August.

After the century, I no longer felt the urgency to get out and ride. I still tried to ride often, but found it easy to make excuses: Since the crash in October, I haven’t been motivated to go out on the Sunday morning rides with the club, Daylight Saving Time is ending, it’s getting chillier during the times I prefer to ride, I’m just not up for it today, etc. That’s really had an impact on my riding in November. My weight, too. I’m up about seven pounds.

After a 12-mile ride today, I made my usual visit to Bike Journal, where I entered my mileage figures. No 300 miles this month. My whopping total for November is 132. (At least I got out today. On Thanksgiving, we went to the fitness club where Mrs. Noob belongs, and I “rode” a stationary bike. Whoopee.)

Hey, I’m not Mr. Hardcore. I’ll get out there as the spirit moves me. I bundled up today to deal with a stiff wind. But I think I’m in the maintenance mode for awhile. Around February, I expect to step it up as I start getting ready for the MS 150 in April.  On the plus side, Austin’s winters are mild enough that we can get out on the bike all year around.

Be the first one to wave

While out for a quick morning ride, I noticed a lot of other cyclists trying to get some miles in themselves. But I also noticed something I’ve heard others mention recently — not a lot of them acknowledge other cyclists.

I get a kick out of it when I meet another rider, and we exchange a wave an a smile. In most cases, I’ve never seen the other person before, and probably won’t again. That makes it just that much more pleasant.

Back in my jogging days, I’d always wave and say “hi” to other runners. Just by being out there, pounding the pavement, they had a connection to you.

Biking seems to be that way more often than not, but lately, there are a lot of nots.

Today I wore my cheapest, plainest jersey and shorts. Maybe other riders thought I was too unsophisticated to waste a wave on. But whatever the reason, I got fewer waves today than usual.

And it’s not just the guys done up in the pro kits. Guys in cargo shorts and t-shirts can ignore you just as easily.

Come on, folks. Help build the biking community. When you pass someone headed in the opposite direction, be the first to wave. It’ll make them feel good, and you’ll have done your good deed for the day. If they’re grumpy, or shy, and don’t wave back — so what? Just keep waving.

Man, am I tired after a long ride

I don’t know if it’s the reduced amount of time I spend on the bike, now that training for the century is over, or if it’s inhaling cool air in our autumn weather, or if I’m just starting to put on my few extra wintertime pounds, but I’ve noticed that what used to be a routine ride really takes it out of me these days.

Sunday morning, I went out for about 20 miles.  Nothing special, although I did step it up several times to try to cover some sections at a good clip.  But at the end of the ride, I felt good.  Exhilarated, but not wiped out.

Then, after grabbing a quick lunch and sitting down to catch a little pro football, it felt like a wave of tiredness swept over me.  I went into the bedroom, flopped on the bed, and the next thing I knew, my wife was waking  me up.  It was 5 o’clock.

“I didn’t think I slept that much,” I told her.

“You were sawing logs,” she said.

During August and September, that never happened.  More often than not, I’d finish a longish weekend ride, say 35-50 miles, have lunch, and then do some yard work.  Even after I finished my century, I didn’t crash on the couch.  I took it easy, but I didn’t fall asleep.

I’ve noticed my tired spells have started over the last four weeks or so.  I’m not much for naps usually, so when I conk out in the middle of the day, it’s noticeable.  Not that I mind a good nap.  It just surprises me that after all the effort I went through to condition myself, that a lesser amount of activity should leave me tuckered out.

Does this happen to you?

Bikely –> Bike Radar

picture-1Way back last spring, I posted about ride mapping sites that let bikers trace favorite routes on a map and post them online. One of the featured sites was

Today I learn that Bikely is being merged into the web site Bike Radar is a British site, connected with Cycling Plus and other biking magazines. It turns out that the company that owns these magazines also owns Bikely.

It looks like an obvious move. Bikely members who log onto Bikely will be automatically redirected to Bike Radar. “We want you to enjoy all the brilliant content that has to offer,” their email said. “Which is why we’re integrating Bikely into”

picture-3I guess I’m surprised only that it took this long. The inclusion of Bikely turns into a one-stop site for biking info. Now, along with bike news, training and nutrition info, product reviews, and forums, the visitor can also check out bike routes in his or her area and elsewhere. It’s a good traffic builder for Bike Radar, which in turn can lead to more advertising sales on their site.

The transition won’t take place until the end of November. Until then, you can log onto Bikely and it will look as it always has. A check of the Bike Radar site shows it to be its familiar old self, too.

By the way, I still use Map My Ride for my ride mapping needs.

Shaving legs

The idea that shaving your legs can make bicyclists faster always struck me as silly. What will it gain you — three-tenths of a second over 100 miles?

Besides the increased speed, doubtful except at the highest levels of biking, there’s another reason to do it. Road Bike Rider says shaving our legs makes it less painful to remove the bandages that you’ll have all over them after a crash. We all know how much it hurts to rip a piece of adhesive tape off a hairy leg or arm. But even so, to shave your legs so you won’t appear to be a wuss also strikes me as — well, silly.

Until this week. After my fall last Friday, I wound up with a badly skinned leg. It’s not a deep wound, but it’s enough that it must be bandaged. The open sore doesn’t seem to want to scab over, so I change the adhesive bandage pad on it every day — and it’s no fun. In fact, it’s probably the most pain I’ve had from cycling. Just the act of removing the bandages gets me hyped up and nervous.

This morning, I was able to cut back from two bandages to one. One almost covers the expanse of the wound, and maybe by Sunday, I’ll be able to cut back to regular Band-Aids instead of the larger pads. I can’t wait for this thing to heal, if for no other reason than I’ll be able to avoid my daily painful bandage removal.

So maybe shaving legs does make sense. But I’m still not going to do it.

If the cleat is rockin’…

…at my bike shop’s door I’ll be knockin’.

All right, there’s a reason I’m not a poet. Or a lyricist. But it was a little disconcerting to me during my ride the other afternoon to feel my right cleat rock in the pedal. Side to side. I use Shimano SPD-SL pedals, and the cleats that have zero degrees of float.

The cleat is not clipping into the pedal solidly any longer. When I fell last week, it popped out of the pedal on an upstroke, which was the cause of the crash. This time, I was applying some pressure to ride a slight grade on a residential street, and the cleat just came out. Not good. It’s one thing when it happens on a steep hill, but on a one or two percent grade? Corrective action must be taken.

It’s my own fault. I’ve posted before about the sorry condition I’ve allowed my cleats to slip into. At the time, I said I was going to replace them, but I never did.

So tonight, on my way home, I thought I’d stop at a brand new bike shop just a mile and a half from my house. I hadn’t been in there yet, and they’ve been open only a month or so, so it was a good excuse to check out the new place.

The door was locked. A sign on the door said the owner (and apparently the sole proprietor) had stepped out for lunch, and would be back within the hour. The time was 5 p.m. Uh oh.

There’s no rush. I’ll work late the next two nights, and then on Friday I’ll leave for a weekend out of town. So I don’t know when I’ll get in my next ride. But before I do ride, this time I’ll make good on my intention to get some new cleats. Somewhere.

Long shadows

After making a deal with Mrs. Noob that I take care of some things around the house, I got out for a nice 17-mile ride this afternoon. It’s a ride I haven’t done for some months now, although I did it at least once every couple of weeks during the summer.

The difference in today’s ride was that I started at about 3 p.m. During the summer, I rode the route closer to 9 or 10 a.m. Man, do things look different in late afternoon!

Those long shadows look cool, but they can cause problems.

Those long shadows look cool, but they can cause problems.

The shadows are so much longer. That’s not news to riders who do a lot of commuting, but this is not a typical time for me to ride. And once you get past the novelty of the long shadows, you see some of the trouble they hide.

One of the attractions of today’s route is its hills. They’re nothing like the ones my friend Mike tackles, when he rides Austin’s Tour Das Hugel, but they’re a good workout for me. I like the downhill part best. I was moving along at a pretty good clip, about 33 mph, when some of those long shadows darkened the road ahead of me. The next thing I knew, I was fast approaching a raised manhole cover. Lucky for me, it was built up around its edges with blacktop, so it didn’t abruptly stick up out of the asphalt. But I didn’t see it until I was upon it, and when my front tire hit it, I had the sickening feeling that here we go again, I’m going to lose control and fall. But I didn’t.

For the rest of the ride, I tried to really concentrate on what was under those shadows. Sometimes, it was a layer of acorns, fallen from the live oaks that line the road. Other times, it was broken glass. The shadows kept the glass from glinting in the sun to warn you of its presence. Most of the time, though, it was just irregularities in the road surface. I could feel them under my tires, but I couldn’t see them in time to dodge them or brace for them.

So the ride was a mixed bag. On the one hand, it was great to get out in cool but not chilly weather and ride. On the other hand, all things being equal — I think I’ll go back to my morning rides as often as I can.