Friday, April 22, 2016

Bike commuting update, April 2016

I often say I ride to work and back two days a week and take the subway three days a week, but I probably really average riding fewer than two days a week. I hope to increase the average, maybe to three, maybe more.

Today, I reached my short term goal, though I've done four rides between work and home over the course of three days. Monday, I rode home on the bike I had left at work last week, my Bianchi Volpe. Wednesday, I rode to work on my Viscount fixed gear bike and rode home on my Raleigh Super Course which had been sitting in my office for months. I left the Viscount at the office because I like to keep a spare bike there. So on four rides, I rode four separate bikes.

This morning (Friday), I rode my Lemond, which I hadn't ridden in months. I've been thinking I ought to sell this bike because I don't ride it often and it's a bit too small for me. This morning's ride changed that thinking. I had a lot of fun and not a whole lot of discomfort. I like to think that the weight of a bike isn't a big factor in the speed at which you travel, but this bike proves that to be wrong. Besides being more energy efficient, some bikes position me in such a way that encourages me to pedal harder. I made it to work in record time, less than an hour. The distance was 13.8 miles, and my average speed was 15.6, which is much higher than normal for me. It helped that there is virtually no wind today. I normally face a stiff headwind in the morning. The wind was so light that I thought I had a tail wind, but actually, there really isn't any wind, which is pretty unusual for the Hudson River.

If you want to see the path I took and an excess of statistics my smartphone app took, see them here.

Anyway, I had a blast. Here are pictures I shot along the way. You can click on them for the full size images.




Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Century ride, 2015-07-12

Carol and I had a graduation party to attend in Yonkers on Sunday evening. Carol had some errands to run in the day, so I thought I would make a long ride out of it. We were at our place in High Falls, NY (near New Paltz), and Google Maps told me it would be an 89-mile ride.

We don't have a printer at the house, so I hand-copied the directions from the computer onto notebook paper. I clipped the directions to my handlebar bag. I also packed a lot of food plus a big external battery for my phone. I figured if I lost my way, I could use the phone to navigate, but I'd need extra charging capacity.

I left a little after 8am. I did get lost a few times, and I used the Google Maps app for a few periods, but I turned it off each time I got back on my course. At one point, I left the course deliberately because a bike trail was paralleling the road, and I used Google Maps to get me back on later. That worked out just fine.

I wore a little bicycle-specific GPS gadget on my wrist. It tracks where I go, how fast, etc. It was useful to count off the distances between turns.

With my several times of getting lost and one time of leaving the route on purpose, my total distance was 96 miles.

Much of the route was on bike trails, which are pretty nice to ride on. Sometimes the surface is rough, which slows me down a little, but the benefits are worth it. There is no motor vehicle traffic to cause stress, and it's much quieter. I have to watch for pedestrians and ride slowly around them, but that's a small price to pay. Most of the trails are old railroad lines with the tracks removed. Some are paved, and some are not.

The cable for my rear derailleur failed at about Mile 35. My front derailleur continued to work, leaving me with a choice of three different gears. I jury-rigged my rear derailleur to stay in a middle gear. In retrospect, I should have chosen a lower gear. The lowest of the three gears I had was still quite high. This made climbing hills very challenging. The biggest hill was Hosner Mountain Rd in Dutchess County, just south of Rt I-84. I challenged myself not to stop on any climbs until I reached the tops. Now that I look at my elevation profile, I can hardly believe I climbed that hill without a low gear.

My back and shoulders are weak and inflexible. I've been meaning to strengthen them for a long time. This makes riding for hours painful. Worse than that, I have a pinched nerve in my back which causes some pretty severe pain in my feet. Each hour gets worse. I think I don't want to take another very long ride until I can alleviate these problems. The second half of the ride was pretty painful.

But the weather was good, and the scenery was inspiring. I don't regret doing it at all.

Here is the log that my GPS unit created. You can zoom in and out on the map. You can also see graphs that show my speed over time and my elevation over time. You can see where I climbed about 250 feet in just about one mile, at Mile 41.

Here are pictures I took along the way. GPS information is embedded in them, so if you want to see the points where I shot the pictures, look at the page for this album.

Click on the images to see them bigger.



Rondout Creek



Rondout Creek




Walkill Valley Rail Trail



Walkill Valley Rail Trail



Walkill River (a redundant name)



Rt 299 going from New Paltz to Lloyd, one of the few non-gorgeous portions of my ride.



Ah, that's better. Town of Lloyd.



About to enter Hudson Valley Rail Trail in Lloyd



Hudson Valley Rail Trail. Notice the glacial rock on the right side. It's 20 or 30 feet tall.




An old station reused somehow, but I didn't investigate.



Highland Station, now closed, of course, since the rail line is gone.



About to cross the Walkway Over the Hudson, opened to pedestrians and cyclists in 2014.



Walkway Over the Hudson



Hudson River as viewed from Walkway Over the Hudson. That bridge you see is the Mid-Hudson Bridge. Both of these bridges span the Hudson between Highland and Poughkeepsie.



Hudson River as viewed from Walkway Over the Hudson.



Hudson River as viewed from Walkway Over the Hudson.



Hosner Mountain, whose switchback road doesn't switch back enough. The climb was very difficult, especially with a failed derailleur and resulting lack of low gears.



Hosner Mountain.



Hosner Mountain.



Now I can catch my breath a bit.



Crossing the West Branch Reservoir.



West Branch Reservoir.



Lake Gleneida in Carmel, NY.



An accidental selfie. Now you've seen my left knee.



Yorktown Heights, I think.



Hudson River, viewed from Yonkers.



Hudson River, viewed from Yonkers.



The Hudson River rail line, viewed from a pedestrian bridge. The rail line is a gorgeous ride, every inch of the way.



Sunset over the Palisades in New Jersey, across the Hudson.



Sunset over the Palisades in New Jersey, across the Hudson.



A view of the Hudson from the Yonkers Yacht Club.




Sunday, September 7, 2014

Ride to Bushwick and back

Back in July, I had to do some bike and home repairs at Julia's place in Brooklyn, so here are a few pictures of the ride. I think this might be the first time I was on the Williamsburg bridge, which I really enjoyed. The Williamsburg bridge makes me want to yell "HAWD CAW!" So much fun. Lots of young people looking so hip and beautiful and smart.

I had to go slowly because I was carrying about 25 pounds of tools and supplies. No matter. The weather was fine, and I enjoyed it as much as I would have if I were going fast.

This is my ride route from home to her Julia's.










This is my route route back home.





Thursday, August 7, 2014

Busy day!

I walked the dog three times and did some errands on foot. I used two bikes, my Volpe for going to the doctor and my Raleigh track bike for going to the races, racing, and getting home from the races. I got on the bike -- or a bike -- a total of eight times.


  1. To the doctor, on my "SUV" through streets.
  2. To the races
  3. Race 1
  4. Race 2
  5. Race 3
  6. Race 4
  7. From the races to the subway.
  8. From the subway to home.

I was very tired and sore by the 7th ride and even more so on the 8th. I rolled home very slowly and could barely move by the time I got home.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

First training ride

I never rode to train before. It sounded so boring and painful. I started yesterday. Here is the route.

Here is a more extensive description of what I'm up to: Track racing, part zero

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Terrible conditions, great ride

I haven't ridden much lately. I've taken some errands but not logged them.

I lost my computer for a month and a half. My wife found them in the pocket of a jacket that was in the donation pile. Whoops. Well, I have it back, and that's good.

It's been two weeks, maybe more for me. Felt great.

TL;DR: conditions were awful. Great ride anyway.


Boring details:

It was 23ºF, not 27º which is what Garmin claims. Also, it was snowing. I rode almost to the top of Mohonk. Visibility was poor, but the scenery was gorgeous anyway. Traffic was light and courteous. My pump is leaking like crazy, so I was only able to go to about 40 psi, but that was OK.

I wore enough clothes. On top: Wool sweater-vest, then cotton T-shirt, then sweater then rain jacket. On legs: cycling tights, then wool trousers. On feet: two pairs of wool socks, one of them up to the knee. Cycling shoes which are really running shoes with SPD cleats. On face: olive oil, then carpenter's goggles, rear view mirror, scarf around neck, another scarf around head, helmet. On hands: giant winter mittens stuffed with down.

I am pretty surprised at how comfortable I was. I put duct tape over the toes of my shoes to prevent cold toes. It worked, or at least it didn't make me cold. I was not cold at all. My hands were hot and sweaty. I couldn't find a hat to wear under my helmet, so I tied a scarf around my head, with the knot in the back. I looked like I had a big braid in back.

As you can see, I didn't go far, but it was good to pedal hard on the bike for a short while. The climbing was what you might call tough, and the grade might have been 6% at its worst, but I felt like I could go on for hours.



Thursday, November 21, 2013

Picked up my car in Mt Vernon

My friend Michael, whom I know from the bike world, owns a car repair shop called Euromeccanica in Mt Vernon, NY. I left my car with him last week for some repairs. Since I'm unemployed (though not for much longer), I had the time to ride bike home from his shop after leaving the car there Thursday. On Tuesday, I rode back to his shop to pick my car up, and I drove my car home. I had just received my new bike GPS, which I discussed in my previous post (here). So I find that it is easy to use.

The ride was quite an adventure of sorts. The weather was fairly cold and extremely windy. I didn't know the route well, since I had never ridden along the East River bike route. Google Maps told me to enter at 60th St, which was easy enough. Somewhere along the route was a closure, forcing me to take the stairs over the East River Highway and back down. I had to hunt to find the next entrance to the bike route.

I had printed out a cue sheet of my route from Google Maps before leaving home. It led me to the Willis Ave bridge to cross into the Bronx, but it didn't explicitly say so. I wasn't sure, but I followed the route and then realized that that's what it meant. It would have been nice if the route had named the bridge rather than just giving turn-by-turn directions.

I don't know the Bronx very well, so I needed the cue sheet even more. The wind was extremely shifty, and a few times, the headwind or a sidewind required some stiff pedaling just to stay upright. I'm making adjustments to my McLean bike, and I'm lowering the saddle bit by bit. I think it's still a bit too high, and that makes me unconsciously choose gears that are too high. This isn't good for my long term health and stamina. I'll lower it further and see how that goes. I spin nicely when I'm riding my Bianchi Volpe, and I suspect saddle height is at least one reason for that.

Once I got onto the Grand Concourse, I knew I had to turn right once I hit 199th St. By the time I got there, I saw that my cue sheet had fallen out of my pocket.

(I should note here that the Garmin is not a navigator, like the kind that tells you when and how to turn to get to your destination. The purpose of this gadget is to record your travels. I don't want to use my smartphone for navigation more than necessary, because it drains the battery and is also a distraction. I'd rather use cue sheets or my wits or both to find my way. Maps are nice, but they are becoming a rarity.)

I followed my nose for a while until I knew I was close but didn't know the rest of the way. I pulled out my phone and asked the Google Maps app how to get to the garage. It turns out that I hadn't made many bad turns and I was only a mile away, so I made the last mile easily.

Because of the weather and my unfamiliarity with the route, I had to stop a lot and take my bearings. I also stopped a couple of times to adjust my saddle and my gear. As a result, my average speed was only 8.1 mph, but that does represent a more vigorous ride than it appears. If I had been riding in the summer and if I had known the route, I'm sure my average would have been much higher. I'm happy with how I did. Here is the page that shows more data about this ride than anyone should crave. I am interested to know:

total miles: 19.7
time: 2 hours, 26 minutes
elevation gain: 744 feet
overall average speed: 8.1 mph
average moving speed: 9.6 mph

And the map is very nice, and it is interactive. Aren't the graphs pretty? You mean you didn't look at the page? Well, go ahead, click to see it.

There are some anomalies which must be GPS errors. I'm sure I didn't hit 31 mph in the first few minutes. I know a GPS receiver can get deceived by reflecting signals from nearby buildings, and I think that's what happened. I saw that it thought I was moving when I was stopped at a light. But overall, the statistics are very much close enough to be useful.

I could designate this as a route in my Garmin log so I can compare how I do on it if I should take this route again. I don't expect to take this route again in the foreseeable future, so I won't be doing that, at least not yet.

Sorry, no pictures from the ride. I'll soon have pictures of the bikes on the blog.