Wednesday, May 30, 2012

chasing mr. broiler

discovered Strava recently.  it's a website that takes your GPS tracks from workouts and allows you to compete against other similarly wired individuals along known courses or segments.  users create the segment, so if you're not KOM (king of the mountain) on any published segments, you can create your own until you're a KOM somewhere.

one thing that's simultaneously good and bad with Strava is that it makes every ride a race.  it's hard to ride through a known segment and not throw down to earn the KOM.  i find myself occasionally rushing in a commute to earn a KOM or at least boot my standing.

there's a fellow by the name of mr. broiler that seems to be the local king of Strava.  if you follow his rides, he appears to do a lot of short rides hitting all the known Strava segment in the area.  he's flying on the mount vernon trail.  have managed to come close a few times, but this bike path hero is moving way too fast for me.

he's one of the few on Strava that rides with a nom de guerre.  i use my real name.  not sure of the rationale for a name like broiler.  is he into chickens? or is he riding so fast that he's broiling hot?  no clue.  all i know is that i have a week to catch the broiler man on a few of these rides.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

lessons learned commuting

i've been commuting to work by bike for 6 years, although the first 3 hardly count, since i rode 1.5 miles to work...and for the next 2 years, i expect to ride 2-4 miles every day.  that really doesn't count.  at 11-13 miles each way, my DC commute is much more respectable.

i've commuted by bicycle for 3 years here in the DC area.  although it's infinitely more enjoyable than the 4.5 years i spent driving across the wilson bridge during my last DC tour, it's not exactly stress free.  there are plenty of challenges associated with bike commuting.  i've done my best to mitigate those challenges, but you can only do so much, like today.  rain and thunderstorms were predicted, so it was an iffy call on whether to take the bike or metro.  decided to go with the bike.  stayed dry in the morning.  in the PM, went out for my commute home to find a flat tire.  did a quick change and discovered a staple was the cause of the flat. put in a new tube quickly, pumped only to find that this tube was bad.  crap.  time for plan for a ride.  only ride to the neighborhood staying late, wouldn't work.  jumped on the metro.  massive downpour, so i guess the bad bike was a blessing.  now what to do with the bike.  for plenty of reasons, needed to get it home tonight.  drive back up 395 to pick it up.  since it rained, traffic sucked.  get home at 8pm.  oh well, in 3 years, this is the third day where i've had a flat.  can't complain about that.

back to the title of the post, here are a few lessons i should remember for the next time i'm a regular bike commuter.

1) Never trust the weather forecast...if it's a 100% chance of rain and you don't ride, it won't rain.  if it's a 20% chance of rain and you do ride, it will rain.

2) If you see a rent-a-bike, give it a wide berth....i'm all for more people riding, and more people commuting. bBut, the rent-a-bikes like Capital Bikeshare and Bike and Roll are dangerous.  Capital Bikeshare riders are usually helmetless hipsters strolling through town in their skilly jeans on their way to some hip new restaurant with a PBR discount.  the only reason they're on a bikeshare is because someone hipper than them tweeted about it.  Bike and Roll riders are gawking tourists that will stop abruptly to see a plane landing at National Airport or is trying to fine the turnoff Memorial Bridge

3) Bike to Work Day is the most dangerous day of the year.  bike paths are insanely crowded.  even saw a penny farthing this year.

4) Cyclists can be their own worst enemy.  sometimes i think it's pointless to follow traffic laws.  i'll be at a light waiting for it to change, and some jackass will pass me and ride through the light, nearly getting hit by a car in the process.  cars honk horns, get pissed and take it out on me later.

5) No matter how fast your ride, how many lights you run, the commute time will never vary by more than +/-  5 minutes from your average.  seriously, almost every ride to and from work has been somewhere between 40 and 50 minutes.  i may have busted my ass and gotten it under 40, but that's rare.

6) During cold weather, comfort level (L) is a function of both clothing (C) and effort (E), where C x E =L, when B (freezing balls off)  

7) You can never have a light too bright

8) As soon as you commend yourself for having no flats, you'll have 2.  pack appropriately.

9) If you're not carrying any tubes, you'll flat.  if you're carrying tubes you most likely will not, but if you do you will have n+1 flats, where n=number of tubes you're carrying.