Tuesday, August 22, 2006


So a few friends and I were talking about riding next years STP (Seattle to Portland) Bicycle Classic. Of course we always talk about this and then blow it off but I think we may actually do it this time. So I dug out my copy of the Lance Armstrong Performance Program by Lance Armstrong and his old coach, Chris Carmichael. Before starting the program you determine your level of fitness with what is basically a 3 mile time trial. I headed out to Alki. Alki has a stretch of 3 + miles, today was cloudy so there weren't that many people and it is mostly level. I had a slight tailwind for about half way but as I rounded Duwamish head it was in my face. I feel my intensity could have been more. Maybe a 3-4 on a scale of 1-5.
  • Distance - 3.01
  • Max mph - 25
  • Time - 9:04
  • Average mph - 19.9
Nine minutes puts me in the Intermediate fitness category.
On a side note I saw a pod of orcas in the bay.

Commute Stats 3

Maybe it was having almost a week off to rest my legs, but more likely it was the dead calm wind that gave me this great commute time to work.

  • Distance - 7.05 Miles
  • Max Speed - 30 mph
  • Time - 25:30
  • Average - 16.4 mph

Work to Eat,
Eat to Live,
Live to Ride,
Ride to Work.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Commute Stats 2

Record time heading home.
  • Distance - 7.06 miles
  • Max speed - 21.5
  • Time - 33:48
  • Average speed - 12.4

My Planet Bike head light flew off my handlebars right in the middle of 1st and Madison. I must not have clipped it on all the way. Busted into a bunch of pieces. I picked them up, put it all back together and you know what? It works!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Commuting Statistics

I have a Cat Eye Enduro 8 cycle computer which I love. It cost me only about 30 bucks and features - Current speed, Maximum speed, Average speed, Total Distance (Odometer), Trip distance, 2nd trip distance, Elapsed time, 12/24hr clock. It's been on the battery that it came with for almost 2000 miles and about 4 years.

Here are my best statistics for commuting to and from work since I've been back.

To work-

  • Distance - 7.04 miles
  • Max speed - 30.5 mph
  • Time - 27:45
  • Average speed - 15.1 mph
The timer on the computer can be set to run from the beginning to the end of the ride, non stop or to run only when the wheel is spinning (while the bike is actually moving). I choose the second setting since then if I get stopped at a bunch of stoplights on the way it won't totally ruin my time. Although, in a way, it's still a luck of the draw since you still have to slow down and speed up from a stop, even though the timer is stopped when you are. My actual time getting to work is probably closer to 30-35 minutes when you take in to account the time spent sitting at stoplights. I will have to try the timer the other way someday and see.
My average speed is closer to 17-18 mph up until I turn into Pioneer Square and ride on First Avenue up hill to Pike Street.
There is a really bad section of road on Delridge way, just past Oregon Street, going north, under the foot bridge, where I could keep up some good speed if the road was in good condition. This particular day I had a slight tailwind.
From work-
  • Distance - 7.15 miles
  • Max speed - 22 mph
  • Time - 36:36
  • Average speed - 11.6 mph
Coming home from work always produces worse stats because of the gradual rise up Delridge Way.
After my ride to and from work tomorrow I will have surpassed 2000 miles on this bike. I will probably only post my commute times again if and when I surpass these or if I change my place of residence.

Friday, August 11, 2006

West Seattle Tour

It was a lazy morning yesterday. I woke up late, sometime around 10, read a book, fell back asleep. At about noon I decided I had to get out. So I hopped on the bike and took a little West Seattle tour. It was a slow ride, like my morning, but a pleasant one. I woke up to rain but now the air was crisp, fresh with a few sun breaks.

A mile and a half took me to the local smoothie shop for some energy.

At about 3 miles I stopped at a little park outside the Fauntleroy, Vashon, Southworth ferry terminal and watched disgruntled drivers sit in their cars waiting for the ferry. Poor souls. They probably had to work today too.

3.85 miles and I was riding through the heart of Lincoln Park. This is a great wooded park, right on the water with a few baseball diamonds, bbq's, a salt water pool and plenty of trails for walking, or in this case riding.

8.95 miles and I was at Alki beach for my usual latte (today a mocha) and biscotti. And no I'm not sharing any on it with that seagull. I watched some little kids (kids are crazy!) swim in the 50 degree water and use sea weed for necklaces.

Alki Beach park is a good 2 mile stretch of beach, benches, vollyball courts, cyclists, inline skaters, sunbathers, coffee shops, resturants, and fantastic views. On a summer saturday it is also packed with bumper to bumper traffic. When we first moved to Seattle, about 7 years ago, Christine bought me some inline skates which I used, on Alki, at least 3 days a week. You never know what to you are going to see there. Weightlifters, martial arts, artists, car shows, food and the general whacky public.

At the northern most part of Alki beach (Duwamish Head I guess they call it) is a little park that juts out into the water (at high tide) where you can see all the way down Alki, to the west and Elliott bay/downtown Seattle to the east. This is 10.63 miles into my ride by the way. It was here, about 4 - 5 years ago, on a windy April day, that I proposed to Christine. At low tide, about 100 feet out from the seawall I buried the ring in a treasure chest, called Christine, told her to meet me there and gave her a treasure map.

About 1/2 mile more down the road I chatted it up with a local SCUBA diver. The vis in the water was about 30 feet which is actually really good for the Puget sound. I can't wait to dive again.

From here I rode up California Way/California Ave to Hamilton Viewpoint park. 12.16 miles now. A great place for views of the city. Then about 6 more miles back to my home. About the only 6 miles where I put any effort into it. 18 miles all in all.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bicycle Banter

For those of you who joined us from the Neutral Buoyancy blog I apologize for the reprint of this post. It is here for people solely interested in hearing my bicycle tales . . . which is probably no one.

Originally posted 08 August 2006 on Neutral Buoyancy.

So it's been a while and nothing really of interest has happened. I've just been working, drinking lattes, talking to Christine on the phone, ruffing up the cats and cycling. So I'll bore you with a lot of mundane cycling chatter.
Probably about 4 years ago, the last time we lived up here in Seattle, I decided I would start riding my bike to work. It worked out fairly well. It's only about 7 miles, most of it on nice bike trails or smaller streets with less traffic. It took me about the same amount of time as waiting for and riding the bus.
I had a "mountain" bike at the time that I purchased sometime around 1993, so it was about 10 years old. Well it wasn't long before I was set on buying a new improved mountain bike with shock absorbers, more gears and even fatter knobbier (heavier) tires then the ones I had. Although like so many 4x4's and SUV's I would probably never take it off road on a trail. Once I had the money I started looking around the local bike shops and my quest took me to Recycled Cycles.
Now I had an old beat up 10 speed when I was in high school (this was in the 80's) that I got at a garage sale somewhere for 50 bucks. Skinny tires. Electric tape on the handlebars. Wheels all out of true. Shifters that barely worked. One brake. The front one. But I took that bike all over the neighborhood. In the desert, through sand, cactus. (Why did I never get a flat?) Over small jumps that my friends little brother had set up. (How come I never broke a spoke?) So anyway, the "road" bike wasn't unheard of to me.
So when shopping around I decided to test ride a few. GAWD! It was so fast! So light! So easy to ride! And this is on a bicycle that still has a steel frame. What I was looking for all this time and I didn't even know it. This whole mountain bike craze that came up through the 80's and 90's was just foolishness for us city dweller/commuters. I had found my way back to what cycling should be like. (Flash forward 4 years. Eventually I settled on a touring bike but that is another story in the not to distant future.) After test riding a few, I settled on one that was in my price range. Although the shop is called Recycled Cycles, I purchased a new bike from them. A Fuji Ace.  I think it was around 400 bucks. Cheap for a road bike. And it is sort of cheap as far as road bikes go. But it's the best bike I've ever had and what's low end today was high end at one time right?
I have a bicycle computer and when the odometer read something like 800 miles one of my spokes broke. My neighborhood bike shop replaced my spoke and trued my wheel while I waited. A few weeks later another spoke broke. Same wheel. The back wheel. The one that most of the weight is on. This is where low end (cheap) comes in on the bike. Aluminum spokes. Oh yes they say they are lighter and faster. Folks . . . if you are buying a road bike for commuting or any sort of long term riding on bumpy, pot hole infested city streets, don't get cought up in these racing wheels with the new fangled, light weight spokes. Get yourself a good, strong, handbuilt wheel appropriate for the amount of weight you will be loading on it. You won't regret it. There's a reason you still see them on touring bikes. They last.  OK, where were we? Ah yes, the second spoke broke. Needless to say I had the shop build me a new wheel which, at almost 2000 miles now, I am still happily riding on. You can't complain with that. 
Recently I stopped back by the shop to have the wheel trued and a strange noise down in my crank looked at. (Which they did again, while I waited.) They noticed 2 other safety issues with the bike that had to be addressed first before they would do the other work. First was a brake cable housing that was to short. Second was a hole in the front tire that the tube was pushing through. They said a blowout in the front and you're gonna crash. I don't want to crash so I got 2 new tires. Schwalbe, Marathon Plus. They got a rubber layer built in the tire (shown at right) that you can't push a thumb tack through. This seems to be true as I rode 30 miles yesterday and at the end of the day I pulled a 1/4 inch piece of glass out of the tire (hole at left) without a problem.My next and latest dilemma involved a pannier pack and rear rack I purchased. The rear rack (at right) was allow-ing the pack to hit the spokes. But I exchanged the rack for another (left, mounted on bike) and now there are no problems. Note how the second racks bars extend farther to the rear on the bottom. This keeps the packs clear away from the spokes. This last picture shows the reflective pannier packs mounted on the rack.  No more hot sweat soaked shirts from wearing a backpack.

Seattle Cycling

Originally posted 25 July 2006 on Neutral Buoyancy.

During the short time that I've been back to Seattle I've rediscovered my passion for cycling. With the cooler climate, scenic beauty, slower traffic and greater number of bike trails, why shouldn't I? Watching Le Tour de France everyday (Good job Landis!) and not having a car right now has helped to encourage me. To me, the bicycle is a romantic piece of machinery. A wonderful transference of energy from the body through the pedals, cogs, chain, wheels down to the pavement. It's beauty in motion. When I lived here in Seattle before I would frequently go on 10 - 60 mile rides, and commute 7 miles to and from work. This I intend to do again.

The other day I was actually pulled over, by a cop, on my bike! I had come to a stop at a redlight. A neighborhood stoplight at an intersection that didn't have that much traffic. All the cross traffic had gone by. All clear. I decided to go. I know it was against the light, but hey some people walk against the light, some people ride. Just as I start I look up and sitting directly across from me was a cop. I don't know how I didn't see him. Well I was already starting to cross. He knew I was crossing. I knew he knew I was crossing. To late now. He gave a little chirp on the sirien. Great. Fraking great. I nodded to him and rode on. Then he actually turned around and pulled me over. I stopped and he got out of the car.
Cop- "Could you step off of the bicycle?"
Me- (((((Thinking))))) (((((This guy can't be serious?!? Like I'm going to try to make a get-a-way on my bike something.)))))I step off.
Cop- "My name is Sargeant A**hole. Do you know why I pulled you over?"
Me- (((((Ah I guess because you are a big, fat jerk!!!))))) "Ah because I rode through that red light."
This is the point where Sargeant A**hole asks me why I would do such a thing and I try to explain that some how I didn't think it really mattered on a bike and the how intersection looked perfectly safe, there were no cars, etc, etc, without looking like a complete moron. When in realty Sargeant a**hole, I and the rest of the world know that I just didn't want to sit at that stoplight and it was perfectly safe to cross.
Sargeant 'A' (This is how we will refer to the role of 'Cop' from now on.)- How is your driving record?"
Me- "Excellent!"
Sargeant 'A'- "Can I see your drivers license or ID card please?"
Me- (((((Are you from another planet?!?))))) "Sure." (((((I bet he didn't even think I had one on me.)))))
Sargeant 'A' takes my drivers license to his car, and procedes to run it through his computer showing him that indeed I do have an excellent driving record and no warrents out for my arrest unlike most of the other people I see around me. I pretend to look at the flowers and landscape at the house I'm next to when in reality I'm looking at all the hoodlums and gangster wannabe's driving by that live in this neighborhood and still thinking "You pulled me, on my bike, over?" Sargeant 'A' comes back.
Sargeant 'A'- "Do you know that it's an 81 dollar fine for running a red light on a bicycle?"
Me- (((((Now why would I know such a thing?))))) (((((I DO NOW))))) "No."
Sargeant 'A'- "Don't ride through any redlights again."
Me- (((((What? He's actually not going to give me a ticket? I guess we can change his name from capital 'A' to small 'a'.))))) "I WON'T."I ride away on my bike. Scene fades out.

Then, about 2 days ago, after passing 1700 miles on my bike computer odometer, I came as close to falling while riding as I ever have. I know it's just a matter of time. It scared the hell out of me. The culprit was a crummy section of roadway that I hit while trying to avoid another crummy section of roadway. And I must admit it has been hard for me to get used to the old saddle again, but it's only a matter of time. I'll stick with 14 to 20 mile bike rides to work or Alki beach for now.

Rest . . .

"Rest. Sleep is good for the Blood"