A good week riding (bicycle commuting days 16-18)
Monday, July 04, 2011
After a good start on Monday (see previous blog), I continued through the rest of the week, giving myself planned breaks on Tuesday afternoon, and all day Wednesday. I did this partly because of errands, and partly because my rational mind told me that I'm not quite ready to do this 5 days a week yet.
It turned out to be a good thing I didn't plan on riding home all the way on Tuesday afternoon. The only thing I did was ride 1 mile from the nearest subway stop back to my car. It was a good thing too, because in that short time, I got another flat tire, this time in the front wheel. (I replaced the whole back tire Memorial Day weekend.) Because of time pressures, I dropped the bike off at the shop on route to getting my driver's license replaced, and I picked the bike up on the way back. They replaced the tube, but not the tire itself.
The next day was my chosen rest day, so I didn't use the bike or notice anything wrong with it. Thursday morning, I started noticing that the front wheel wasn't moving freely. After panicking because the weather was gorgeous and no bike shops were open at that hour, I started staring at the front wheel and noticed that the tire appeared to bulge out of the rim in one area. A few seconds later (thinking, thinking), I decided to relieve some of the air pressure in the tire and try pushing it back into the rim. It worked well enough to make me think I could get to work and back on it. I felt a sense of accomplishment because I have never worked on my bike and wouldn't necessarily have known where to start. The weather was great, and I really didn't want to face the alternative: riding Metro.
The trip to work was uneventful. On the trip back, I made it all the way to a point about 1 mile from my car (are we starting to see a pattern here?). Suddenly I looked down, and there was my front tire: flat again!! My legs were aching because I had just made it over the last hill (a tough one for me), and I was walking really stiffly, but I was grateful it hadn't happened any farther away. Have you noticed that (so far) all my flats have happened within easy walking distance of one end or the other of my ride? Am I lucky, or what?
So I walked back, drove straight to the bike shop, and told them it was time for a new tire. With two flats in two days on the same tire, I really didn't want to be told that I had enough tread left to keep that tire a little longer. It was one of the two that came with the bike when I bought it in early 2009, and as far as I am concerned, it has given me enough service and enough surprises. If I were merely a leisure time rider, I might have tried, but as a commuter, I need more reliability.
So now I have two new tires and I hope this is the end of the serial flats for a while. The road I ride on really isn't all that rough!
Friday I tried pacing myself to see if it made the ride home a little easier (my muscles usually ache even before I get to the uphill part). I usually try to push myself a little harder in areas where the ride is level, especially on the ride in to work. Instead, I deliberately held myself to an easier pace, hoping to save some muscle power for the ride home. I think it worked.
I also treated myself to a short break that day, since it was my last ride of the week. I have to remind myself that the most important thing is riding a sufficient number of miles consistently, not how many miles I ride without a break.
In spite of the flats, it was a good week because my systems worked well, and everything is starting to become routine.
One last thing before I sign off. There is some great information for bikers at www.livestrong.com. It is not limited to just bikers. It promotes fitness in general, but it certainly has a lot of resources for bikers. Some of its features overlap with those of sparkpeople.com, but it also has some unique, high quality resources that are not found here or elsewhere on the net, such as the following video on how to remove the back wheel of a bicycle: http://www.livestrong.com/vide
oad-bike/. Besides this one, there is a whole series on bicycle maintenance that I should probably spend more time watching.
FYI, I am also signed up for an 8-hr class on bike maintenance in August, at REI.
P.S. Bad news in the paper this morning. A cyclist on the C&O Canal trail was killed by a falling tree during a thunderstorm yesterday. It was in a different section from the one I sometimes ride, but the trails and their trees are similar, and there have already been downed trees on the trail I regularly ride (see earlier blog). It was a useful reminder that I need to continue to be mindful of the weather, especially thunderstorms.