Riding My Asterisk Off

…one mile at a time…

…and I don’t mean meth.

I’ve been playing around with the bike a bit, trying to make it more comfortable. The aforementioned handlebar went on, a new seat, some adjustments…and it now looks kinda like a Dutch bike.

It’s light and looks good, but it’s still not the degree of comfortable I would like. I’m definitely happy (though slower) being more upright and the bars were a good choice, but the seat, not so much.

I can ride on it longer than I could the stock seat without wearing bike shorts, but after just 5 miles I’m feeling it. Today I did ten, and it feels like I bruised my tailbone. I’m not sure what to do next. I know saddles are a ride-and-test kind of thing, but this could get spendy with no guarantee of finding the right one.

I’m tempted to order a duplicate of the seat on my Pedego–that sucker is comfy–but that doesn’t mean it would work as well with the geometry of this bike.

For now I’ll probably slap the gel cover back on and then wear the damned bike shorts if I have to. But I was really hoping to just be able to slap my helmet on and go, not have to worry about changing before I ride.

Today I moved the front gear shifter about 3/4″ to the right and slapped a mirror on the new bars, and with the Spouse Thingy’s help (ok, I couldn’t get the nuts to turn so he wound up doing it all) the new seat went on. The bike looks spiffy and comfy, and it was close to dinner time, so we decided to take a short ride, around 5 miles, to both test the geometry of the bike and then stop for pizza.

I struggled. Like, seriously struggled. I had a hard time breaking 10mph but my HR was pushing 140, and nothing felt right. I was seriously questioning having changed so many things on the bike–for sure the seat needs a minor adjustment–and hoped I hadn’t just ruined the whole thing.

I caved at 4 miles and headed for the pizza place. And once off the bike I started feel nauseated and not-quite-angry but also not-quite-happy, and wondered how the hell I was going to make it home. It was just not a great ride, and I had visions of barfing pizza up along the way.

But then I ate, felt loads better, and on the ride home my speed shot up, the whole thing felt much better, and now I think just the seat needs a little tweak.

I’d had pasta for lunch, 5 hours earlier. There was just nothing left in my tank.

Lesson learned…for today. It’ll happen again. It’s what I do.

Between the rain, then the heat, injury, and insomnia, my number of rides lately has been pretty low. I don’t mind the idea of riding in the rain, but when it’s torrential and the wind is blowing shit sideways? No, that’s not my thing. Then I threw my back out, which gifted me a couple weeks of doing not much of anything. And insomnia?

That bitch hates me and shows up in my life way too often.

When I did get back to it, I started off with the electric bike, just wanting to see how my legs felt. And they were fine, no issues, my endurance was fine, my heart rate was fine. It was all too fine, so I checked the tire pressure on the other bike and headed out for a Happy Ten Miles.

Marin Larkspur CS2

The miles were happy enough, but a mile in my fingers were going numb. By three miles, my shoulders hurt. By the end of the ride my neck had joined in and my back wasn’t thrilled, either.

I assumed that it was simply because I’d taken a few weeks off, and needed to get back to where I was.

But dozens of miles and several rides later, everything still hurt. I reluctantly came to the conclusion that I don’t, and probably never will have, the core strength to ride in a forward position, which is where the flat bars were placing me. I honestly think it might be easier to ride with drop bars, something I might visit in the future.

For now, though, I needed to do something to make this bike work. I really like it; it’s super light compared to my electric, nimble, and doesn’t hurt my knees very often. The only thing I don’t like is the color, but this time around I specifically went for the right bike and not the pretty one. Except it’s not quite right.

So, enter the Surly Open Bar with a 40 mm rise.

These bars, paired with the adjustable stem on my bike being all the way up, close the reach enough that I’m far more upright. I’ve only put ten miles on them, but in those ten miles the only issue I had was with my fingers going a little numb, but I’m not sure if that didn’t happen due to a death grip on the bar.

My shoulders, neck, and back were fine. Better gloves might help with the fingers. We’ll see.

Tomorrow looks to be a great day to roll around town, if I can get out early enough.

And damn, I hope this works. I really don’t want to buy another bike.

So, raising the handlebars on the indoor bike didn’t work because they were already at max height.



This worked:

I’m not sure why I thought about it, but I checked Amazon for bike risers and this popped up. And damned if it didn’t work. With the bike level, it feels far less cramped and I’ll be able to keep it for indoor cycling for the time being.

Hell, probably for a long time. I’ll still want a smart trainer at some point, but this will do until I’m ready for that.

We live in a fairly small town; if I loop it using the major roads, it’s 5 miles around. But there’s an industrial area across the main street that we’ve never bothered checking out, because why would we? But yesterday we ventured out in that direction just to check out the road…and it’s 3 miles of nice, wide, smooth asphalt. I think next week we’re going to ride it, loop 3 or 4 times, just for the heck of it. Traffic should be minimal, which means fewer morons to dodge. On the downside…what traffic there is might be semi trucks. We’ll see.

= = =

We’ve had more rain than is typical for this time of year. I was mentally set to ride in it anyway, until I went outside and it wasn’t just raining, but pouring. I have the other bike inside on a trainer, but I feel totally cramped on it so I haven’t made as good a use of it as I could.

A random stranger online had a suggestion that I’ll try out: raise the handlebars. With the back end of the bike on the trainer and the front on the floor, the idea was that someone who doesn’t ride with drop bars might feel a bit off, because gravity is just doing its thing. I have to lean forward a tiny bit more to get to the bars, and a tiny bit on a bike can be the difference between enjoying the ride and hating it.

It’s worth a try. I’d like to make it work. There’s nothing wrong with that bike, per se, and if I can make it work as a trainer, all the better.

= = =

When I grow up into a Real Bike Rider, I want a smart trainer. And then a TV on the wall, computer hooked up to it, and a subscription to Zwift.

Maybe this one…maybe not. There are lots of options.

I know I’ll always prefer riding outside, but I get a little twitchy on days I’m stuck inside. I know better than to skip a rest day–I’ve got injuries owed to my fixation on other physical activities (swim shoulder, anyone?)–but there have been days when it’s been raining hard, or the wind is blowing beyond my ability to pedal into it, and going for a walk just doesn’t cut it.

If I can make the Raleigh bike work, I’ll ride the hell out of it on the Kinetic dumb trainer I already have, but if I keep at it? The Spouse Thingy has Christmas laid out for him.

= = =

We need more and better bike paths here. That’s all.

The weekend, at least, was nice. I managed to get in ten miles yesterday and ten today…slow, ugly miles, but I rode them and got the calorie burn I wanted. I can get 500 cals burned in roughly that distance, but if I have to go an extra half mile, I will.

My ass isn’t always happy about it. Neither are my legs. Yesterday I was slow because I suck riding into the wind (even when it’s basically a breeze) and today my legs were just sore. I can damn near feel the fascia covering my quads with every pedal stroke.

I suppose that’s a good thing? Proof I’m actually making headway?

Cripes, I hope so.

5 mile ‘Bucks break…I need my tea.

But…rain is moving in tonight and most of the week it’s supposed to be a sloppy mess. I’ll use that as an excuse to not ride tomorrow and listen to my legs, and on Tuesday if it’s not pouring or windy with the rain, I’ll try to get a minimum of five in.

Damn scale better start moving again, and soon.

The little town we live in is flat. The closest thing to a hill here is a gradual upslope on one of the streets nearby, and it’s not exactly challenging. There might be another similar street, but I haven’t found it yet.

So in the interest of some not-flat and a change of scenery, we tossed the bikes in the back of the truck and headed 10 miles to Davis, where bikes outnumber cars and there are miles of bike paths. Most of it is flat, too, but there are some tiny hills and seemed like a good starting point.

You can find some fun stuff along the bike paths in Davis

Any real rider would probably laugh at using those “hills” as something to tackle, but for me it was An Event. We started at a park that has a nice path winding around and through it, and then headed up the overpass (the biggest of the hills, which are really just some inclines) and ventured onto the longer paths.

I hit that overpass pedaling hard and halfway thought that was super easy, what had I been thinking, but then 3/4 of the way my legs started yelling at me and I slowed way down…but I made it. We hit it a couple more times, as well as some other little inclines, and finished with ten miles.

The bike shorts I had on did their job; it wasn’t my screaming asterisk that made me want to stop. It was lack of food. My breakfast was long gone and I wanted a burger the size of a small child.

I also wanted ice cream, but after the burgers we decided to head home, let lunch settle, and if we still wanted it in an hour or so, we would ride to get it. And it was a chance to compare bike shorts; I wore another pair, and while they were all right, they were not as comfy as the others.

Ninety minutes later, I decided I did want ice cream, so we jumped on the bikes and took the long way. I want to burn as many calories as I was about to ingest, and came close. 250 calories burned riding there and back, 270 calories for a scoop of chocolate chip.

And that’s a huge difference from what we would have done a year ago. I think then we would have had the burgers, gone straight for ice cream–two scoops–and called the 10 miles good. this year…The 10 miles was almost enough to cover lunch–500 calories burned vs 700 eaten–but back then we would have added nearly 600 calories of ice cream to it with no additional effort.

I think the ongoing rule will be that ice cream once in a while is fine, but we have to ride there, no driving. I don’t envision wanting it that often, though, but it’s still a reasonable rule. Hell, I’ve pretty much reached the mindset that if I’m not going to bring home more than I can fit in a backpack, I ride in town. To Starbucks when I want to write there, ride. Grab something from the grocery store, ride. There’s no reason to take the car, other than laziness or pounding wind & rain.

Light rain, I’ll still ride, though I need to some up with something to better protect my computer from moisture. My backpack is fairly water resistant, but it’s not waterproof, and that sucker was pretty spendy.

Tomorrow, though…I’m not sure I’ll be able to walk. After fifteen miles and those tiny hills, my quads are bitching at me. But if it’s not a wet weather mess in the morning, I’ll still try to do a few miles, because why the hell not?

Twelve miles–with a short break at 5 to rehydrate–and my backside was not screaming. Not sure if it was because I had a different pair of bike shorts, if I’m just getting used to the seat, or what, but I’ll take it. The ride felt great, my speed was up a little, and so was my heart rate.

I never thought I’d say it, but I think I prefer the Marin over the Pedego, at least for riding around town.

We’ll see how I feel when I encounter a real hill, which does not exist in this town.

I didn’t make the same mistake today; I had lunch, waited an hour, and then headed out. Instead of dragging my asterisk, I was able to find a groove, got my HR into the high 130s, and pedaled around town for about half an hour.

Time and distance is not my issue; the bike seat is. Even with a gel pad and bike shorts, I was done at 7 miles because it hurt too much. Everything else feels great, I just have a major case of sore ass after 5 miles or so. I presume that’ll get better with time. If not, I’ll order a Pedego seat because that sucker is comfy for hours at a time.

I’m just not sure how well it’ll work with the new bike’s geometry. I mean, I think it’ll be fine, but it depends on where the crank on the different bikes are. If the new one is more under my hips than the Pedego, there might be some chafing. I’m willing to try, though.

I also need something to carry my wallet, keys, and phone. When it’s cooler our, I’m in track pants with pockets. It was warm today so I wore the bike shorts and wound up wearing my cycling jacket just for the pockets…that got a little warm after a while.

I’ll figure it out.

But I really would like to get a solid ten miles in without my ass feeling like its on fire.