August 24, 2010

Saddle Sore

The Bontrager stock saddle that was on my used Trek Pilot 1.2 WSD (aka “Pilot”—yes, I named the Townie “Big Blue” so why not the Trek?) when I bought it a year ago was just fine for almost nine months. Then it started getting uncomfortable on rides longer than about 20 miles, which is almost every training ride I do, and forget about doing hills. Thus began my latest quest for the mythical perfect fitting saddle. I Know every cyclist has undergone this quest at some point in his or her riding career, most settling for “comfortable with a few issues,” but a stalwart few never losing hope that the absolutely 100% perfect saddle is out there. Somewhere. Even if it hasn’t been invented yet.

My first candidate was the WTB Speed She Comp saddle, a general use recreational saddle. It’s narrower than my Bontrager, which you would think with my generous fundament would be a disadvantage, but I actually preferred the narrower width and shorter nose on the WTB. Alas, the “love groove” in the WTB was not sufficient. After three off and on painful weeks, I gave up to go back to a saddle with a cutout.

I next tried the Forte women’s road saddle I had ridden on while I rode the borrowed Bianchi (thus far unnamed). The Forte was adequate enough, but I was convinced that something better was out there, so I hit the internet, checking reviews and comparison shopping. The Brooks B17 got very good reviews, but I was leary of trying another saddle with no cutout. The other strong candidates were the Selle Italia Diva, Fi’zik Vitesse, and Terry Butterfly and Liberator saddles. Then I received an email from Performance Bike about a tent sale they were having on the same weekend I received a 10% discount card in the mail for Performance. It was a clear omen, so I went a-shopping.

The Howe Ave store only carried the Terry Fly, a racing saddle too insubstantial for this fat-bottomed girl. In desperation, I called the Sunrise Blvd store and they had a Terry Butterfly in stock. When I got there, they also had a Terry Liberator in stock, but it was $44 more than the Butterfly, so I reluctantly passed on it. I’ve been riding on the Butterfly for about a month. Unfortunately, it is yet another “not too bad” saddle, but I’m holding out hope for it. Now I’ve entered the weeks-long phase of trying to tweak the saddle for optimum comfort by adjusting saddle height, tilt, etc. And there’s that squeak I haven’t been able to solve even after tightening my cleats and lubing the pedals and seat rails…

July 18, 2010

I Should Have Just Stayed in Bed

Do you ever have days where you feel like you should never have gotten out of bed? That the universe is just having a laugh at your expense? That was my day Saturday 7/10/10.

Things started off innocuously enough. I actually got up when my alarm went off (8 am) and then reset it for 9 am so I wouldn’t wake up an hour early on Sunday. Luckily, as I later found out, the on/off switch has to be purposely pushed all the way to the “on” position. I didn’t pay attention to this at the time, and I realized as I was biking up the Hazel Ave overpass that my alarm had been going off for over 15 minutes after I reset it, so I called my landlord (also my neighbor) to tell her she could shut off the alarm clock if it was going off.

That was warning #1 from the universe. The second came when I unloaded my bike at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery and saw that I had no water bottles on my bike. I left them at the house, full of nice cold ice cubes and sitting on the kitchen counter. It was going to be 97 that day; not a good day to be biking uphill without water. The week before, I had an asthma (or panic) attack on the last hill to Beals Point. Now I had the threat of being dehydrated and out of wind hanging over my pessimistic head.

So, I made it to Beals Point with only taking a drink at the midway drinking fountain. No hyperventilating, no dehydration. For once, I had cash with me and I made a beeline for the soda machine because, as always, the snack bar was closed. I mean, why would you be open on a summer day at a popular local destination? The universe laughed at me for the third time when I found that the soda machine was unplugged. Exploring the options of a waterless return trip or bothering some poor picnicking family, I clip-clopped over to the family and begged a water or soda from them. They were so nice, they refused the $1 I tried to give them for a bottle of water.

The ride back to the hatchery was uneventful except for the escape attempt of the 6 oz water bottle from the down tube bottle cage. After all I’d gone through to obtain it, I turned around to pick up the water and put it in the seat tube bottle cage where its escape attempts were unsuccessful.

Hoping the universe was done with fun at my expense, I dared to ride again on Sunday 7/11/10. I remembered my water bottles. That day’s little giggle came when I had one of those space out moments and didn’t really calculate that I was on my bike and not driving a car and really didn’t have a right to be trying to squeeze through the intersection at 59th St & Folsom Blvd on a yellow light, but I did anyway. And so now there are several more Sacramento drivers that are convinced cyclists are self-entitled traffic law-ignoring hedonists. I’ve done my part.

April 6, 2010

A Futile Effort to Catch Up

So, I have clearly been remiss in my bloggerly duties, which are largely self-imposed based on my readership of one. Rather than try to recreate the last few weeks’ ride reports, let me summarize by saying I have been as lax in my riding as I have been in my blogging. Which is why I have not lost a single pound, and I now have to try a combination of riding and restricting calories (as opposed to just thinking, “well, that sounds healthy” or “I can eat what I want today because I burned 1000 calories riding”).

As much as I take anything associated with Lance Armstrong with a grain of salt, Chris Carmichael has clearly made a success of his training regimen. On the advice of T, I have started slowing my base mile rides (basically all of them) to keep my heart rate at 70% of my maximum heart rate. In my current out of shape, overweight state, this has me pootling along the trail at 12mph, but I don’t feel the effects much at al, which is of course the point. It also allows me to have more energy for those rides when I do expend more effort. Ah, science, where would we be without you?

Saturday, on a partnered ride, T actually hit one of the suicidal ground squirrels that pause when they notice oncoming bicycles and then promptly run across the bike path rather than running to safety away from the bike path. When we turned around to see if the squirrel was all right, it was thrashing in the middle of the bike path. I was wondering how one puts a dying squirrel out of its misery and imagined having to stomp on its head with my biking shoes. Luckily, the thrashing turned out to be the squirrel’s death throes, so all we had to do was drag it to the side of the path. As ground squirrel deaths go, that was pretty smooth compared to the horror stories I’ve been told about squirrels getting caught in front wheels and breaking the fork or stopping the front wheel and pitching off the rider. Naturally, T had to tell me the story about a friend of his who got a squirrel caught in his rear wheel. They had to pull the mauled squirrel out of the bike and finish it off with a river rock.

On a happier note, yesterday I went exploring the bike path on the south side of the river to see where it went. Turns out it only runs between H St and Watt Ave and has two really wicked hills at the Watt Ave access. On my way back to the Guy West Bridge, I made the acquaintance of a very friendly tuxedo kitty that jogged along with me for several yards until a bird or a squirrel distracted it.

The weather has not been cooperating with my brief spurts of good intentions to ride daily. No big deal to get motivated to ride this morning when it’s in the mid-60s and breezy. Very hard when it’s in the 50s, overcast and foggy. Earlier this week I had to dig out my shoe covers, balaclava, and long-fingered gloves. This would have to be one of the few years we have a real spring rather than a couple of weeks of nice weather then summer. At least the cool weather has meant I get to keep my unacceptably short hair hidden under my balaclava or a do-rag.

March 6, 2010

A Visit to the Allergist

The weather is not cooperating with riding this weekend. Unfortunately, I have not found the motivation to set the trainer back up. I bought a commuter bike, a Trek 7700, and will hopefully start commuting in a couple of weeks when the weather settles down.

Today, I have my referral visit with an allergist. She goes over my medical history with me, concentrating on October 2009 and the tentative exercise-induced asthma. When she reviews my pulmonary function test results, she agrees that I did not improve as dramatically as they like to see after I was given albuterol, my lung volume improved enough to qualify me as asthmatic. It's still a tentative diagnosis, and the allergist prescribes me a peak flow meter to monitor for several days and get a baseline measurement for my normal value. Apparently, that will be the deciding factor for an asthma diagnosis.

I tell the allergist that I have not been taking the albuterol because of the side effects, but that my biking seems to improve as the weather dries out/warms up. She is not happy about me skipping medications and prescribes a different bronchodilator that will hopefully have the benefits but not the side effects of the albuterol.

I ask about allergy injections, but the allergist tells me she doesn't like to do them with asthmatics. She prescribes a new nasal spray that will hopefully work better than the Flonase, and I get my blood drawn for allergy sensitivity evaluation. I'm pretty sure it will tell me I'm allergic to Northern California.

Ride Report 2/28

23.4mi in 1:43, Home to Guy West Bridge-Hagan Park & back

Apparently an upset stomach from last night is not the best biking companion. The weather is pretty nice; a little too overcast to consider a truly pretty day. The trail headed east is more crowded than toward Discovery Park, and pretty much everyone is passing me. I have my lowest moment when I am passed by a couple, the male half on a Roadmaster mountain bike. To make up for it, I pass a few recreational cyclist uphill, but overall I'm slow today. I pause at Hagan Park to try not to lose my breakfast. On the way back, the hills have thoroughly kicked my ass, but my time is good so I'll take the beating.

February 17, 2010

Ride Report 2/17/10

23.3 mi in 1:46, Guy West-Discovery Park & back

I'm beginning to doubt the veracity of the El Dorado Savings time/temperature sign, which says 77 degrees today. It is absolutely gorgeous out, but doesn't feel like it's almost 80. I have to wear my tights today due to wardrobe failure, but it ends up working out fine. I try not to lose my patience with the students that seem to drift aimlessly in the roads at Sac State. I know I was that young and self-absorbed once, but I didn't have the additional distraction of a cell phone or headphones.

A bit of a stiff breeze, but perfect biking weather. On the way back from Discovery Park, I try to catch up with a rider a bit ahead of me. I'm gaining ground until the rider ditches the bike path for Northgate Blvd. I check my speed and find that I am going 15.5-16mph. I keep it up until Northgate, then I slack off to my comfortable cruising speed of 14mph.

Ride Report 2/16/10

23.3 mi in 1:48, Guy West Bridge-Discovery Park & back

Another gorgeous day, if slightly overcast. It's 76 according to El Dorado Savings. On the Guy West Bridge, a pedestrian gives me a thumbs up, then turns his hand sideways. I can't tell if he is assessing my mood, passing judgment, or hitch hiking. As I'm leaving the bridge, I get a "go blue!" (due to my blue jersey, shoes, bike & helmet) from a Rex Cycles rider as he passes me.

Since I'm not wearing my balaclava, I can listen to music in both ears once I'm on the bike path. (I use the ones that hook over the ear and allow for ambient sound to be heard.) I think this has something to do with my improved time, along with the nicer weather.

The sloughs out toward Northgate Blvd are drying up by several inches a day, and I miss seeing the blue heron that hung out at one of them. In consolation, today I get to see a greater egret. Between Northgate and Sac State, I see my first quail of the season. As always, they make me laugh as they run across the trail and into the ivy. And then the strangest sighting of the day: at Discovery Park I see the tatooed shirtless man (still shirtless and jogging today) who yodeled at us yesterday.