Saturday, October 27, 2012

Beach ride with Nessie

My friend from Belgium who lives in Hollywood, Nessie, recently purchased a bike.  We did one ride together in West Hollyood, and then she went on vacation.

Today Nessie and I went for our 2nd bike ride together.  She drove her bike to my apartment, and we left about 11:30 for a ride to the beach.  The ride to the beach went very smoothly for me, at least.  I didn't understand her trouble with her bike.  She couldn't figure out the gearing and even on downhills was struggling.  She said it was as if the bike was pulling her backwards.  Still, we trudged on and got to the beach where we began a slow, meandering trek up the bike path.  We stopped at a Perry's for a rest and refreshments.

I asked her how far she wanted to go up the bike path, and she said as long as we went slow, she could handle the bike issue, so we continued on at about 6 mph, going under the Santa Monica Pier and around and up towards the end of the bike path.  When we got to the two huge parking lots at Will Rogers State Beach, Nessie called it quits for riding.  I let her walk my bike and I walked hers for a bit, feeling it drag as I tried to walk it.  The wheels weren't rotating freely.  I spun the front wheel and could feel the brakes rubbing and started to examine the back wheel.  That's when a cyclist angel came up.

His wife patiently waited while he checked the problem.  He loosened the back brakes a little and adjusted them, but he didn't seem concerned about the front wheel.  He was so friendly and helpful.  We didn't get his name.  Note to self:  get those dang business cards made for cycling.

After the adjustment, he and his wife continued down the bike path towards Santa Monica, and I asked Nessie if she wanted to continue to the end of the bike path, but she didn't.  When she got back on her bike, she found the pedalling was much easier, a world of difference, but the trek down and the fight with the bike's resistance had worn her down, and so we came back slowly.

We stopped at Smart & Final by Carrington/Venice, and she watched the bikes while I went in and got us Cokes plus a flat of eggs for me.   She was very surprised that I was carrying a flat of eggs in a bag off of the handlebars, but I said the would be riding in comfort, and they were!

We returned to my neighborhood about 5:30, and I helped her get the bike into her car.  All in all a good day, and her longest ride - 33 miles!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cookies for the bike folks!

Got up and made 3 dozen chocolate chip cookies for the folks at I. Martin and delivered them on the bike on the way to work.  I'd been meaning to do that for a while but just had been putting it off, but after Ryan's help with the tire yesterday, my procrastination had reached its end and I took the cookies in!  I think they like me over there at I. Martin Imports!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Flat #2

So today I was doing my usual route before work, trying to get in 5 miles when about 4 miles in, at the corner of Sherborne and Cadillac, I heard the sound PHSSSSST, and I was immediately unable to pedal.  Darn it, the back tire went flat again.  I walked the bike a block up Cadillac and turned onto Bedford and found a flat sidewalk area where I could flip the bike over and get the tire off.  Well, it was the replacement thick tube from when Gregor was here a couple months ago.  It's been bothering me that the valve stem wasn't sticking up straight anymore but was at an angle, and I kept thinking it was going to tear again, and sure enough that was what happened.  So I installed the spare, but the tire is so big that it was hard for me to keep control of the valve stem and keep it straight while I was trying to pump it up.

I got it pumped up enough to get to work, but afterwards decided to check out Bikeology up on Pico, about 7 blocks north of where I work.  When I got inside the store with my bike, there was just the owner, and a worker, and the owner was fairly uninviting.  I tried to explain my problem to them, hoping for an answer, and they said it was due to lack of air pressure, but I was thinking my tires are pumped up and hard, why would it be that?  They didn't seem welcoming and helpful at all, so I finally asked if I could just get a little squirt of air to make sure I had enough pressure in the tire to get back to I. Martin Imports which was over 2 miles away.  They gave me the squirt and I was on my way, taking the sidewalks back down the 7 blocks.

on the S.W. corner of Beverly Blvd/Sweetzer.
When I got to I. Martin Imports, my favorite mechanic, Ryan, came right out to meet me.  He is so nice and friendly.  I told him my problem and showed him the 2nd ruined thick tube.  He took the bike into the work area and fixed the valve stem angles.  He said it was indeed a pressure issue and that I needed to keep the bigger tires at a higher psi of 60-80, and that I needed to pump them every couple of days to top off the pressure.  He said the tubes can lose 10-20% of air pressure in just 2 days.  He gave me a replacement Bontrager tube, which I was happy to pay for, but he declined to receive payment.

I asked him the question of "is it possible to come here and apprentice for a while on bike maintenance," and he said that over the years many people had asked that but that the company was declining those requests due to workplace liability, but that he would maybe be able to find some time to work with me on specific issues and questions.  We talked also about cycling shoes and he said that when I did finally get them that I should be prepared to fall over several times while getting my brain in gear to unclip.  He also mentioned that there were some instore trainers that I could ride to help me get used to clipping in and unclipping.  This is why I go to this store.... everyone is so helpful.  It's not just Ryan.  They're all like this.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

post trauma loss of courage

Shenandoah St. /Guthrie looking north.
I meant to write this yesterday but will record it today.

I think my accident on Labor Day 2011 may have left me more damaged than I originally thought.  I don't mean physical damage.  It is damage to my courage.  While most of the time I can simply ride my bike around without any problem, I find myself being very timid with rough spots in the road.   Lately it seems to be worse for some reason.  Well, I have nearly lost my balance a couple of times and aggravated an old injury in my foot, so I know I am being cautious because of that.  Any little extra bumpiness in the pavement seems to make me slow down to a crawl, tho.  I don't have the confidence I used to.  My confidence is particularly bad going west on Venice Blvd. between National and the 405.  Going east is not so bad there, but west is fraught with obstacles.  I cannot just comfortably swing out into traffic to move around things in the bike lane despite seeing others do it, and so I am slow in the bike lane.  But it isn't just the bike lane.

Yesterday National just seemed overwhelming to me, so I thought I'd take a back alley to hook up with Regent.  But the moment I hit the back alley, I sort of froze... the road was terribly rough and uneven, and I suddenly lost confidence in my ability to balance... and I froze... unable to move forward for several seconds.  Finally I simply dismounted the bike and walked it to a smoother area.  As it turned out, the alley was a dead end and I had to backtrack to National, but I froze again when I came to that rough part...then I froze again when it was time to move onto National.  I don't know what's wrong with me lately.  Of course I'm terrified of being injured again like I was a year ago.  That pain was so horrific.  I was so happy to get back onto Regent and smoother streets.  I watch those ruts in the street - anything that could catch my tire and flip me off the bike.  And every time I narrowly miss one of those ruts, I feel a surge of adrenelin from fear. 

When I had the crash, I could not get up for several minutes.  I wasn't sure if my kneecap was shattered.  I wasn't sure if my knee would hold my weight.  I didn't know how to get up on one leg, and it wasn't like anyone was helping me up.  When I finally did get up, I had to get back on my bike no matter how severe the injury... I had to pedal, and that was almost impossible.  I gave my left leg all the work and my right leg just was there for the ride, but I was seeing stars as I was riding... so slowly.

I want to ride the PCH, but I keep hearing about cyclists being killed on it, even though cyclists ride it all the time.  But I have a panic when a big city bus goes by me, so how will I ever fair with traffic at 55+ mph?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

new things

So a week ago today I had my 53rd birthday, and my mother, who was visiting and is 82, took me to the local bike shop and for my present got me a rack for the back that will nicely carry the panniers I will need in the future for a trip across the USA.  I got a silver colored one as it matches the bike, and it's a Bontrager.  Now I just need to get it installed, which I hope to make time for in the next few weeks.

I'd really like to get off of my dependence on the car for my Monday cookie deliveries, so I'm looking at buying a set of panniers that I can pad inside to comfortably transport my cookies on a stick over a three-mile ride.  Then of course I have to be able to pick up the panniers by their handles (they need to have handles on the top) so that I can carry them up the flight of stairs to the client.

I will not yet remove my current pannier rack that attaches only to the seatpost, but neither will I carry the other panniers at all times.  The set of panniers I will buy for cookie deliveries will not be the panniers I pack for a trip across the USA.  I may have a few different sets of panniers.

Today I rode about 16 miles.  I am so far behind in my riding this month that I might leave early for work tomorrow just to try to get in 20 miles...