Posts from the ‘bicycle’ Category
Everyone is going separate ways today, but my beloved and I managed to take a little time out to ride for coffee before he heads out of town later today. Utilitaire checkpoint #2: coffeeneuring. Once again a traverse through town on the Greenway, and for whatever reason, I am always compelled to stop on this bridge. I want to start keeping a tally. There are other bridges, other underpasses, other places I ride through and across as often, or more frequently, than this bridge… but I always consciously think about this location, this bridge, whenever I cross it. I have no idea why.
As for coffee – I know that Starbucks often gets a bad rap. Yeah, it’s not some trendy local roaster, I can’t get a latte with a picture created in the froth, but it’s really about the only game in town. I tend to avoid the Inman Street Coffee House run by the Salvation Army, because I have a personal aversion to the big screen tv’s they have hanging on the walls playing Fox News, and I take issue with some of the national organization’s position statements. Sorry, Tim (and the other kids who work there). At Starbucks, I am always greeted with a smile and treated very well by the barristas I have come to know, I’d rather listen to music than blaring tv’s, I’ve made a few friends here (both cyclists and non-) and truthfully, they manage to make the best skinny vanilla latte in the neighborhood. Not to mention, it’s a convenient ride off of the Greenway.
Rode back, no time for trip-chaining today unfortunately. Time to get on with the other stuff. Sigh.
coffee on the go
A couple of weeks ago, I spent several hours working with a bike fitter – something I never would have envisioned myself doing. I am certainly no speed-racer type, I’m not an uber high-mileage junkie, nor did I ever feel like I was having problems (discomfort, pain, whatever) with any of my bikes. As I have written before, I’m probably considered by most as not being one of those serious cyclist types. Dedicated, enthusiastic … yes. “Serious“, skilled, fast … not so much.
So what was I doing? For one thing, I am a proponent of efficiency and ergonomics and, I suppose, conservation of energy. If I can find an easier way to do something, do it more efficiently and with less effort, you can bet I am signing on.
Several years ago I worked with a couple of swimming coaches for similar reasons. It’s not that I had any intention of competing, or swimming the English Channel, but I was interested in becoming more efficient in the water, more streamlined (or “slippery” in the water, as they liked to say), along with wanting to minimize wear-and-tear to my rotator cuffs. It was amazing what a few adjustments to body alignment, rotation and sweet-spot drills did for me; I cut my stroke count down by 8-10 strokes/50 yds, I am preserving my shoulders, I love the nearly “effortless” feeling, and I am faster. (OK, maybe just a little less slow.) For me it simply means I can swim farther in less time and with less wear-and-tear, which is about all I’m after.
Back to bikes – and the bike fitting. It was a pretty fascinating experience. My fitter, Eddie from Cycology Bicycles, was a really wonderful guy – very patient, extremely detail-oriented and knowledgeable, and great about explaining the significance of all of the measurements, angles and adjustments he was measuring and making changes to – not to mention he had a very impressive curriculum vitae (along with some amazing photos) of “serious” professional cyclists who come to him for fittings. (Yeah, next to them, I did feel like a bit of a doofus, I will admit.)
I was measured from top to bottom and sideways and back. Height, weight, femur length, inseam, wingspan, my level of flexibility, you name it. Eddie also had an interesting self-engineered set of electronic scales he could use to measure weight distribution while I was on my bike – it’s an interesting ratio to look at, as he adjusts saddle height and other positioning. He took a look (and more measurements) at my position on my Dolce, which ended up being a remarkably near-perfect fit for me with only a couple of areas that could be changed – handlebar width (narrower), possibly my crank length (shorter), and some tweaking to my cleats.
Finally, he moved me onto the Serotta fitting bike – an amazing little bike-like device enabling multiple adjustments with countless combinations for riding styles. Basically, he sets it up with his calculated settings for ultimate bike fit for the rider, and then can tweak it from there. It was really remarkable to feel the difference a slight adjustment of angle/height/length could make. But now I know what my ideal “numbers” are, because I was able to feel them.
So where is all of this leading? Well, for one thing, the adjustments made to my Dolce have made it even more comfortable and efficient for me to ride. After my experience, I fully endorse a bike fitting session by a qualified fitter – it’s not only an education, but you will be amazed by the changes that small adjustments will make, regardless of your riding style and level of cycling seriousness. Do it.
But there was another motive for my fitting, and you may have already guessed. After years of lusting after her Sweetpea bikes, and having some great phone conversations with Natalie Ramsland over the past few weeks, she is now building a custom bike for me. The frame geometry is custom, designed for my optimum set of measurements; she and Eddie have nailed down the perfect fit. And beyond the frame, this bike will be fabulous in every aspect … Natalie has an uncanny sense for knowing my aim, mechanically and aesthetically. The build list reads like a perfect dessert menu: Brooks, Chris King, Sugar Wheel Works…
Most of all, I love that my bike is being built by an incredibly inspiring and talented woman framebuilder – a rare thing in the predominantly male bicycle-building world . Watch her video, read her blog; her bicycles are stunning, and her thoughts are insightful and meaningful. I feel we are on the same page, in so many ways, philosophically.
Another bike? Do I need it? I am not sure … What I do know is that I will love this bike, it will fit me in every way, it will be beautiful, it will make me happy to ride it, and I will cherish it and everything that went into making it become uniquely and specially mine. The tentative plan is to make a trip to Portland to have Natalie do the final fit once the build is complete, and to hopefully have a chance to explore the amazing world of Portland bicycle culture for a few days. Fingers crossed.
And so, this is how it begins.
The weather continues to mystify me. Heavy rains and severe storms have rolled through the area, and to see tornado destruction in AL and AR in January is mind boggling. I cannot bear the thought of a repeat of last spring – and we’re still in the middle of what is supposed to be winter.
Rain or not, I needed to get out today. It was gusty but warm, and I revisited a road I hadn’t ridden in quite a while. Cows, barns, creeks (overflowing) and plenty of mud. But I still have fun riding through puddles…
It was lovely to spend the week in Chicago, altho sadly without any snow this year. I love the city during the holidays – the lights, the decorations, the window displays. While it is a heavy dose of opulence and extravagance, it feels somehow acceptable in is own way – at least on a temporary basis during the holidays.
We walked and walked, took in a movie and a play, shopped and ate … the foods I remember from my childhood, growing up near the city. It brought back dear memories of Christmastimes past, and it is sweet to be able to share it and make new memories with my own boys who have come to love this city.
We saw plenty of bikes, a number of cyclists, but once again, my attempt to capture a bike messenger in flight never happened. One of these days …
Tonight we will ring in the New Year at home with friends, and look forward to adventures on the road ahead in 2012 – and wish you all the same. Cheers!
I tend to fall behind, as you know by now … On my bicycle, as well as in posting to this blog in a timely manner. I try and tell myself that I should just try to make a habit of “quick and simple” – make it brief – rather than trying to wait for a time when I feel I really have something to say, something to write. I should possibly (probably?) treat this more like my messy disjointed journal and be more spontaneous, simple, and concise.
So I tell myself. And of course I never listen.
This time of year tends to be slightly less than crazy with the holidays just around the corner. My boys have all come home (smiles), the music has returned, the boys and their friends gather around the table for epic games of Risk late into the night, the shopping and the wrapping are in progress, and the baking will hopefully begin soon. (And to my friend Myrna, I am sorry but I have yet to try the macaron recipes… sorry.)
Rather than try to write anything more, I’ll leave it to the iPhone pics to tell the story of recent ridings and other sights. Brief. I’m trying to be brief.