Jacque Anquetil's 1962 Tour de France Winning Bike

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sneaking Out and Mucking Around

1. On Thursday, in a throwback event, I went out at 4:35 a.m. to meet Brian and Howie at Solano Peet's.  Mornings have been clear, so I used a helmet light.  Helmet lights work much better for me because I can point the light in the direction I want to go rather than in the direction the bike is pointed at the moment.  Coming around a turn, I can point the light at the turn's arc, rather than have a handlebar-mounted light point at a tangent.  So, a helmet light works better, but not in the fog.  You know how cars' fog lights are mounted really low?  They are there to light up the road.  A light mounted higher -- on a helmet, say -- lights up tiny drops of water around the rider's head, with the drops reflecting the light back at the rider's face and creating a conical halo.  In the fog, a helmet light is remarkably ineffective.

As I said, mornings have been clear.  Not Thursday morning, however.  So, as we rode through the fog, I turned off my light and relied on Brian and Howie's Magicshines.  That was fine.  Then, my glasses started fogging up and I ended up trying to see better by peering over them.  I did see better without looking through the lenses, so I simply took off my PRESCRIPTION glasses.   Luckily, my prescription is quite mild and I coped just fine.  As the sun rose and we turned off our lights, I continued riding without the glasses.  I could see well enough.  I also discovered that I descend better without my glasses.  I can see the white line on the right and the yellow line on the left just fine and simply aim between them.  Without the glasses I can't see rocks, twigs, or potholes, so nothing distracts me and the road looks perfectly safe... at least until I find myself on the ground.

I did not find myself on the ground on my eastbound descent of south Pinehurst and Thornhill/Colton and was quite encouraged by my glasses-free ride.

Also, to save the shin, I pedaled slowly and in the big ring.  The shin liked it.  The knees -- not so much.  But Brian suggested an aggressive course of Advil treatment for the shin, which I undertook.  Coincidentally, Advil helps the knees as well, so things are looking a bit better.

3.  Today, I continued my outdoor big ring riding with a two-and-half-hour ride to Moraga and back, not as the crow flies.  An important development for "the more things change... " file, I went back to 190mm cranks with oval chainrings, which made turning big gears easier.  On today's ride, the shin felt the best it's been in a couple of weeks.

It got damned cold overnight.  Todd and Brian and I rode downhill through the town of Canyon, where it was 36 degrees.  Just east of Moraga it was 35.  I dress for the worst, figuring that I can always remove clothes.  If I'm not wearing enough and am not carrying additional clothes with me and it's colder than I like, I'm screwed.  For weather in the mid-30s, I put on thick wool socks, toe warmers, wool leg warmers, long-sleeve wool base layer, a long-sleeve jersey, a softshell jacket, and a hat under the helmet.  I have a pair of gloves with a finger cover in a pouch.  Pull the cover out of the pouch and over the fingers and, voila, you have mittens.  The covered parts of my body felt fine, the face didn't like it.

On Redwood, on the way back from Moraga, temps were in high 30s.  I was grateful I was riding uphill, generating my own heat and minimizing wind chill thanks to the gravity's effect on my speed.  Downhill came a man, wearing a windbreaker, a balaklava, and shorts.  He had nothing on his legs, which were bright, bright red.  His legs were quite hairy, but inadequately so for the weather.  I think his fashion choices were impractical.

2. In between 1 and 3, I did 15 minutes on the trainer.  Yes, I'm supposed to do 30, but last night I realized I hadn't ridden until quite late in the evening and would much rather have been in bed that on the bike.  I didn't come close to breaking a sweat and managed to maintain the streak.  I viewed this ride grimly.  There was no good reason for it; the only reason for it was maintaining the streak and it's clear that the streak is running my life on some small level.  And this is the mucking around part of this post.

So, I'm doubly glad I rode outside today.  The ride was social and pretty and cold and provided a great mental break.

Waiter, make that 142, please.



  1. Maybe shorts are what work best for the hairy legged guy? Riding a bike can keep your legs warm ... as long as you don't stop. :)

  2. You could well be right. But it was cold enough for him to wear a balaclava. He was riding 20-25 mph, so riding into a 20-25mph head wind in a canyon where temps were in mid-30s. And wiht naked legs -- brrrrr.... No wonder he was pedaling.