The rainy front passed by yesterday, leaving this morning cool and crisp. And windy. Winds are forecast to get up around 30 mph in gusts as the day goes on, so I opted for the 30 mile route today instead of the original 100 KM plan. Afterwards, I knew that was the better choice for me today. despite being shorter, the ride was not lacking in new people to meet and pedal with, beautiful scenes to go by and generally quiet roads. Today was the annual workers ride for next weekend's club century (I will volunteer at the P.A.C.E. rest stop) and we opened it up to anyone in the area who wanted to test ride the routes of 16, 30, 55, 62 and 100 miles. A nice crowd came out and we had folks on each of the routes at various paces. It was nice for the few miles that we experienced a tail wind, but the last 15, coming back with winds and rollers was WORK!
Within 3 miles of start, I saw a bike on the side of the road and Karen Stankard was lying on her back with bloodied face. I stopped to see what was up, and helped her to her feet after checking for reasons not to. Other riders stopped too and made phone calls for help. A Pintlala water dept truck stopped to help as well. Phil and Anita Jones stayed waiting for "Medevac", as did Mary Ashley, while the rest of us went on. Karen said she was handling some items on the bike and lost sight of where her front wheel was. It seems to have slipped off the pavement into the sloped grass shoulder and control of the bike disappeared. Hopefully, she'll clean up okay and be none the worse for wear. I rechained her bike and got the rear wheel on straight before we departed.
This is the second rider to go down in the past two weeks due to an unexpected front wheel mishap. Last week, Kathy Thornton had a run in with a railroad track (it was a shabby crossing in need of repair) and now the grass got Karen. The take away here is that just like driving a car or motorcycle, trouble can happen in a split second and we have to always be aware of the road in front of us, the location of other drivers, etc.
There are a number of newer cyclists in the club and it will be a few months before our club cycling guru, Mike Munk has the next basic cycling class. In the meanwhile, here are a few things to consider:
1.) You are a driver and your bike is a vehicle. Act that way at all times on the roadways. Same rules, same responsibilities. Same safe driving practices. Just slower than your car. For most of us. Louis Schwartzman goes as fast on his bike as the rest of us go in the car.
2.) It is worth the time to practice bike handling skills. Stops, turns, shifting, drinking. Find somewhere easy to ride in, like a parking lot for this.If your bike doesn't shift easily (Kaitlin!) take it in to the shop. Get used to how the different gear combinations feel so you can pick what you want as you ride. Corner with the outside pedal down. Always have a bail out in mind in case you need to ditch. Green (Grass) is better than black (asphalt) and out of traffic is better than in traffic for starters. If you find yourself off the pavement, don't panic. shift to an easy gear (your small front ring for example) so you can control your pedaling and remember when you were a kid and rode your bike on grass without thinking about it. Maintain your handlebar grip and stay calm and in the moment. if you like it, consider Cyclocross!
3.) It is VERY worth the time and cost to have a comfortable set up on the bike. Get the right position and the right saddle. Bell Road Cycles does bike fits and Darren there is excellent at listening to find out what a rider needs. I don't know if MMS does bike fits also. I have some ideas too, from an "Unracer's" perspective. No one saddle or set up will work for all riders although I have a few favorites. Feel free to ask me anytime. On rough roads, a fatter tire at lower air pressure is much more comfortable. Even if you can't change the tires, you can let some air out. If your tires show 100 psi, try 80 in front and 85 in back. Etc. Email me if you want the Excel spreadsheet and article reprint by Berto and Heine on tire pressure. There is a Berto Tire Pressure Android app avail too.
4.) As colder air comes into play, your clothing will change. Air is your best insulator. A tight wind jacket that doesn't breathe will make you sweat. Wet clothes get cold fast. The key is layering. Wicking materials, and winter weight. Wool or microfiber are your best bets. Wool hiking socks in loose fitting shoes will keep your feet very comfy on a cold day. Rule of thumb is, if you are comfortable standing around in the parking lot before the ride, you are wearing too much. You need to be able to evaporate the sweat the work produces. Don't forget your head and hands as well. Wind vests are good to keep your core protected while letting excess heat escape. Gloves that don't breathe will make your hands soak in sweat. Don't laugh, but the wool gloves you wore as a kid work great on a cold biking day. Cheap too.
5.) You still need to drink when it is cold. And eat. I'm guilty of this too. I drank less than a bottle today in over 30 miles with hills and wind. I then I wondered why I feel lethargic.
Mostly recaps of two wheeled rambles through the countryside, but sometimes thoughts on other things.
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