Tag Archives: Cycling

Night Riders

Who says you have to stop riding just because the sun has gone down?

Well, that’s what I used to think. Once we reached the point where we didn’t have enough evening daylight for our mid-week afternoon/evening rides they came to an end. Unfortunately so did the fitness until you started hitting the trainer.

This year a club member who grew up in Philly and used to do “night riding” with her club there has organized a night ride with our group.

Last week was the first one but I didn’t go. It was dark and windy. I had gotten home early enough to settle in for the evening and I would be damned if I was going back out on the bike.

This week was different. I had bike commuted to work so my return trip got me home a little later than driving. I was dressed and ready for biking so I didn’t change. The ride departure was also a little earlier, which meant there was less time to settle in. It was also warmer – in the mid 50’s.

I was excited and a little apprehensive, not ridden in the dark much. However, two days earlier I was out on a club ride and heading back when it was getting pretty dark. Surprisingly I felt pretty comfortable with it so I was ready for a full-on night ride.

A small group met at 6:10 to head north to rendezvous with another group 15-20 minutes away and then we headed off as a larger group. There were 11 of us total with a nice mix of men and women. Everyone had at least one head and tail light on. Some of us had two, like me who had a bike mounted front/rear light in addition to a head lamp and rear light on my helmet. Many of us also had reflective clothing on, or additional items for reflection. In short, we were highly visible and I was really surprised at how much we lit up the road.

I found the drivers seemed more courteous as well. I’m sure many of them were more than a little surprised to see a group of hearty, and perhaps a little crazy, cyclists out on an evening ride well after sunset.

We ended up with a 30-mile route and the pace was such that we all stayed together. That’s key so no one gets dropped or left behind in the dark.

Two hours later I arrived back home and thrilled about my first successful night ride and looking forward to next week’s ride with my fellow night riders.

Trek Across Maine – Year 5

This is my fifth year at the Trek Across Maine. In recognition of that I received a hat.

A few years ago I decided to do this for at least five years then figure out where I am and if I wanted to do it again. I’m still undecided.

Today is our first leg – Sunday River in Bethel to UMF in Farmington.

The weather today is supposed to be nice. As I lay in the hotel bed I can see clear skies and sun illuminating the morning. Tomorrow could be a little wet and I’m hoping “showers” avoids us for the most part.

I’m Trekker number 14 this year of approximately 2000 cyclists. The low number is the result of registering early, when it opens in May for the following year. Two years ago I had number 10 for the same reason.

There are so many great things about the Trek and one that’s my favorite is seeing all the people that I usually only see at this event. It really has become near and dear to my heart, as it has for many of the other rides. Each one of us has a story for riding. For me, it’s just fun and i’m happy to be able to be here another year.

As I write this, I wonder if I had already decided to be here again next year.


The 2011 Season in Full Swing

The 2011 cycling season is in full swing. Or at least as much as the weather will allow. A fair bit of rain has prevented a few weekly rides but we are still managing others.

Spring weather in Maine can be hit or miss. I’ve seen 70-80 degree days in early April and also full on snow storms. Such was the case on April first this year with a good 6-inches of heavy wet snow. The up-side, if there is an up-side, to those types of storms is that the snow is virtually gone the following day.

Last week we gathered for a Wednesday night ride. The afternoon was filled with glorious sun and blue sky. By the time we gathered to ride it was overcast, windy, and snow falling from the sky. But that didn’t stop the 16 or so women who showed up to ride. The adage, “If you don’t like the weather in Maine, just wait a minute” held true because about 20 minutes into the ride it was sunny and warm again.

Regardless of the up and down temps and precipitation, we are officially on the road. Most of the roads have seen at least one pass of a street sweeper, so it was time to pull the Aegis off the trainer, swapping out the trainer tire for a road tire, and prepare it for the road.

Yup, it’s officially spring and the biking season is upon us. We’ll still be faced with cool weather wardrobe decisions for a few weeks yet. You’ll hear no complaints from me – I’ll be outside on my bike.

Vehicular Cycling

Today was another spectacular day to velo-commute. However, an interesting thing happened to me on the way home tonight. Let’s start with a little background.

I leave my house by 6:45 am. At that time there is little traffic. Still, as a commuter I follow the rules of the road. That said, I do take a few liberties when needed.

For example, I know the cycle of the lights pretty well. I know that if I’m at a light and there is no traffic moving in my direction at the light then it’s not going to change to let me through. So if I’m there through at least one cycle and still no traffic I’ll sneak through on someone else’s green light but only when it’s safe and when I know I won’t impede traffic or disrupt the flow of the intersection.

I will sometimes roll slowly through a stop sign after a car has passed and no one is waiting to get through.

However, during the afternoon commute, when there is much more traffic to contend with, I follow the rules implicitly. I stop at stop lights, behind traffic as if I am also a vehicle. I stop at stop signs and wait until it’s my turn, just like any other car.

So now I get to the interesting part of my story. I’m at an intersection where there are about 10 cars waiting to go through. It’s the less busy way through the intersection so the light isn’t as long as it is for cross traffic.

At this point I have two choices. 1.) Ride up along side of traffic to the light so I move in front of everyone or 2.) stay behind the last car and wait as a car would do. I chose the latter because it’s the right thing to do.

As the traffic in my lane starts to flow I get on and pedal easy, though I move to the right as I’m trained to do on a bike. Herein lies my mistake.

The car behind me sees an opportunity to move up past me, even though we are both moving slowly to the next light cycle. I really couldn’t believe this was happening though I shouldn’t have been surprised.

So as she slowed (yes, it was a woman) I kept moving and pulled in front of her and centered myself in the lane so she couldn’t do that again.

Here I was trying to do the right thing, acting as a vehicle, and she was going to crowd me out for it. Sheesh!

I know it seems like I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth with the two scenarios for vehicular cycling. But they are indeed very different. If I thought that I could move through the intersections normally, as a car would, on my commute to work I absolutely would. With the lack of traffic it would be almost impossible to arrive at work within a reasonable time.

So what would you do in both of these situations? Do you encounter these same issues on your commute, or on your training rides when getting through intersections?

Today’s Commute

This was how I got to work today. It’s really the first time I’ve been on a MTB. I usually ride my road bike and use a messenger bag for all my “stuff”.

Using a MTB might be easier for a commute because it’s a little more solid especially when using panniers. (It also might give me a way out, into the shoulder, if I’m run off the road by a motorist.)

Last night I decided to take some time to put on the Quattro pedals we bought for it a while back, put the cleats on a spare set of shoes, and also put on the quick release rack. I pumped up the tires so it would be ready to roll.

I think I was a little excited about riding a different bike for my commute because I was up before my alarm. Instead of dawdling, I got up and ready to leave a little earlier, knowing the bike would probably be a bit slower. Also I wanted to stop off at the store on my way to pick up some fruit for snacks. I knew I would be able to manage it easily with the panniers on the bike.

Today was really a test for me in that I want to commute more by bike. Sometimes an errand or the amount of things I need to transport is a limiting factor. If I can manage ways around that with a different bike then there are fewer excuses not to velo-commute.

Spring Riding

How does life get to be so busy that I just can’t find the time to blog?

Fortunately my busy life has included some incredible outdoor riding in some unseasonably warm spring temperatures.

Normal temperatures for Maine this time of year is in the 40-degree range. Lately many days have been in the mid 50’s. We even had several days this past week in the 60’s.

Several Portland Velo Club women joined me on rides this week. We even joined another women’s ride Wednesday for a total of 17 riders that night.

This has been a long drought of snow. I think our last significant snow storm was in December or January. But it’s been fine by me because I’ve been able to be outside biking a fair bit this winter. Now the weather has been unseasonably warm, driving more of us out on our bikes.

Today I managed to get out for an early morning group ride with the PVC Women followed by 90-minutes of yoga. I left the house at 6:30 am and managed to return at noon. Two things I love to do but took up half my day. Now, that doesn’t mean that it always take up half my day, it just worked out that way.

The weather is turning cooler next week but with Daylight Savings Time I’ll still be able to be out on the road after work for some training rides as long as we don’t see any snow.

My New Toy

This post has been a while in the making. Unfortunately I’ve just been too busy to get to it.

Several weeks ago, for Valentine’s Day, my Valentine gave me a power tap for my bike, which I have been wanting for a long time.

So I’ve had the device installed on my bike for a couple weeks now. I’ve used it outside and inside. It’s actually kinda cool. And as we all know, it’s the best way to measure performance and thus progress in training and fitness.

Since it’s only been a couple weeks I can’t actually say much about it. It’s going to take some time to learn more about it and how to get the most out of it. It will probably require me to purchase a book on how to train with a power meter. At the cost of <$20.00 that’s a pretty inexpensive must have.

For the time I have spent using the power meter and getting used to the software it’s been great. The software is super easy to use, read and gather data.

Luckily the weather here on the coast of Maine continues to be really nice with now snow in weeks and what precipitation we did have fell in the form of rain. And with temperatures predicted to be in the upper 40’s and low 50’s it’s going to be a great weekend to get out and use the power meter on the road.

Back to Work

Last week was a very enjoyable rest week. I spent too much time off the bike, that’s for sure. I rode Monday during lunch and then nothing for the remainder of the week. I missed my normal Wednesday night spin class because I got held up at work. Thursday and Friday I was experiencing some muscle spasms in my back.

Now that the week is over it’s time to get back to work on the bike and I did just that Saturday. Temperatures were in the mid 40’s so riding outside was my best option. It was a bit windy but still managed to ride 30 miles.

Today was even windier, making my interval work daunting. Still, it was nicer to ride outside than inside on the trainer.

As is typical after a rest week, and time off, it’s taking me a while to get my legs back under me. I was pedaling squares over the past couple days but should smooth that out by the end of the week.

Tomorrow is an easy day. However, temps are predicted to be in the upper 40’s so I will take advantage of a little sun and warmth to ride easy outside. My plan is to spin early Tuesday and Thursday with yoga in the evenings. Wednesday I’ll be spinning at night with my spin class.

I have my fingers crossed that we’ll dodge some snow later this week to manage to ride outside next weekend again.

Outside Riding

The weather has been a bit warmer than normal here in southern Maine recently. Temperatures have been in the mid-30’s. With a significant high pressure system over our region we’ve been spared all the snow that the mid-Atlantic states have received over the past few weeks. In fact, most of our front and back yards are snow free.

I took advantage of the warm weather to get in a few lunch time rides this week, the first on Wednesday and the other Friday. The rides were short – only about 30 minutes each. However, it was a nice way to spend a portion of my lunch and re-energize my training and give me a reason for spending so much time on the bike inside.

Of course that weather continues into the weekend so I rounded up a couple friends for a nice 30+ mile. It was a bit windy but manageable. I’ve ridden in much windier conditions but this time of year, with the wind out of the northwest, it can be quite brisk.

This week starts another rest period. Even though I felt like last week was after no real intense workouts since Monday’s spin class. (Normally on Wednesdays but was moved this week.) Still, I’ll stick to the schedule this week but I won’t take the week off completely. There will be spin class Wednesday and I anticipate some intervals during that session. I’ll also be on the bike to do some active recovery.

If our luck holds out with the lack of snow then I’ll try to get back out on the bike again next weekend.

Indoor Trainers or Rollers?

My friend, Bike Noob, has posted the pros and cons about using trainers vs rollers in the off season. Some good information here if you are unsure about which one you should buy.