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.

But…

BUT…

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.