Monday, June 1, 2009

Forgive my Inattentiveness

The volume of e-mail coming from 40 year old cyclists worldwide demanding that I post an update to this blog has been so overwhelming that I can simply no longer continue my laxness.

OK, maybe not.

But I recently finished reading a book from my favorite author and it got me in the mood to sit down and type a few lines again.

The good news is that although I have not been writing, I have been riding.  However, I have to admit that the road bike has not seen nearly as much use as the mountain bike has this season. For a couple of reasons, I just find myself enjoying the mountain bike more than the road bike this year.  I did take the road bike out a couple of days ago for a nice 20 miler.   I had every intention of going twice that distance, but the wind picked up, the temperature began dropping and it began raining ever so slightly. The clouds were ahead of me, and it was sunny back over my shoulder, so I turned the bike astern and headed for home. Aside from that ride and one other of about the same length, the road bike has not seen much use. My farthest ride so far this season has been 28 miles and that was done on the mountain bike with only 8 of those miles being pedaled across tarmac.  The other 20 was ridden in the dirt, which is a bit of a task I must say.

Faithful readers will recall that last season when I was riding to work, I often took the mountain bike because it allowed me to ride along a bike path that follows the Des Plaines river.  This path was quiet, scenic and kept me away from the morning traffic which does tend to be slightly agressive.  Well, I read somewhere on the Internet that if I were to take that trail in the opposite direction, south bound from Irving Park Road rather than north bound, I would find that it becomes a slightly tighter, more technical, honest-to-goodness mountain bike path.  So I started exploring that route awhile back and for awhile I was unable to finish the path due to muddy conditions along the route.   The Des Plaines has a nasty habit of overflowing every spring and covering the bike path.  This does a nice job of cleaning the path and smoothing the previous seasons ruts, but does leave it soggy for quite some time.  But I have since ridden the path to where I think it terminates at North Avenue and what a fun path it is.

The second issue I have been having has been with my neck. I know I probably sound like a creaky, tumble-down pensioner, but back at my old job (Oh yeah, I'm now currently unemployed thanks to the closing of the company that I used to ride my bike to, but that is another story) I spent a good deal of time sitting at a massive old steel desk with my computer monitor, that was too small to begin with, positioned too far from my face.  This caused me to essentially lean in at my monitor all day long which began causing some neck pain over time. Lately, riding the road bike has exacerbated this problem.   Being pitched forward on the bike and having to basically look up while riding has really caused me some neck pain on the last couple of rides. To the point where it is difficult to look back over my shoulders for traffic or other bikes.   On the mountain bike I am positioned slightly more upright and thus, the ol' neck does not get fatigued nearly as much, or as rapidly.

And then there is still the whole aspect of being away from traffic and people and whatever. Especially now that I do most of my riding on the weekdays, it is not unusual for me to not see another soul during my whole ride.   Finally, the sheer quantity of quality dirt paths around here has just drawn my attention away from the roadie this season a bit.

But I am riding and I think that is what really counts here.  I'm still working toward riding a century at some point later this season, but I haven't picked one yet, and I'm not entirely sure which bike I'll ride it on.  It kind of depends on this neck business a bit. I'm hoping now that I'm no longer at that wicked old green desk, it will begin to improve. Stay tuned there.

Oh, I also changed riding shoes recently. My charming and delightful bride and beautiful daughter gave me a nice gift certificate for a local bike shop for my birthday (42!). So I picked up a new computer for the road bike that keeps track of my cadence in addition to the other usual data points, and a new pair of Shimano riding shoes. I switched from the non-recessed, arduous to stroll in style of shoes to an SPD style touring shoe that I can actually walk in when I'm not on the bike. I was digging around in some old boxes in the garage rafters one afternoon and happened upon the pair of 12 year old, unused SPD style pedals that originally came on my mountain bike. So those are now on the road bike and I'm planning to pick up a pair of single sided units for the mountain bike. I've only worn the shoes once, and some adjustments are still needed, but they did not seem any better or worse feeling on the bike.   A little easier to clip out of and much easier to walk in.  Aside from that my toes still fall asleep.  But this phenomena even occurs when I'm riding on the rusty old platform pedals on the mountain bike.   Eh, who needs feeling in their feet anyway.

More to come. But I hope this is enough to becalm the anxious masses who have been filling my inbox to its capacity almost daily.

Or something like that.

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