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.


I'm 52 years old. If I work out a bit harder than I currently do, I can get stronger. One day, I will reach an age where working out does not strengthen me. Instead, it will slow down the natural weakening that happens when we're old. So I want to get as strong as possible for when that day arrives.

My uncle Dave is 87 years old and has a tough life. I talked to him a few months ago. He doesn't have enough money for complete retirement, so he has to work. His body is tired. His mind is tired, too, because his wife of many years is in advanced Alzheimers, and she needs a lot of care. He says he looks at himself in the mirror and can see himself shrinking and getting weaker. To fight that, he works out every day. The result is that his body's decay is slower than it would be without working out. He says lifting weights is very important. "Tommy (that's what he calls me), you have to lift weights. I'm lifting weights. You have to lift weights. Tommy, are you lifting weights?!" So I promised to him and myself that I would lift weights and work out. He and my other uncle Abe are all I have left of my father, who died four years ago. He didn't take as good care of himself as my uncles take of themselves, and I think that's why he died sooner. He was younger than Dave and older than Abe.

This week, I got a Garmin Edge 200 bike computer. Rather than measuring speed and distance from the bike, it measures these things using GPS. It stores a lot of data, and I can upload the data after I ride.

The setup was extremely easy. The ongoing maintenance required from now on is brilliant. Every so often -- not even every ride -- I will connect my gadget to my computer and go to the dashboard web page. That will let me upload my data. It will give a readout like this for all the rides I've uploaded. I can share it, and if I want to go crazy, I could do deep analysis of the data. I can also make goals, and it can track and tell me how I'm doing at reaching those goals.