Monday, August 19, 2019

I'm getting behind...

I set a 2000 mile goal for the year, but with 600 to go I think I'm a little behind schedule.

Part if it is spending so much time fiddling around trying to make the hybrid fit. Part of it is too many uber-hot days that I haven't been able to ride in.

I've tried acclimating to warmer rides, but given that I overheat easily, there's a threshold I don't dare cross, and it's right in the 95 degree range.

But, I'm looking at another bike tomorrow, and I've removed most of the extras I added to the hybrid in preparation to sell it. I really hope the bike tomorrow will fit well; it has a moderately crank-forward position--not as much as my Townie, but closer to my Pedego--and it's a 27 speed so hills won't be as much of an issue if I encounter them.

I doubt I'll buy it tomorrow, but I might put some cash down if they don't have the color I want and can get it. It comes in white, and I kinda want that. Other choice is black, and...meh.

I'll take black if it's all I can get and the bike is perfect.

But...I gotta get out more. I don't want to get too far behind.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Frustration

I've got the seat height on the Marin dialed in, I think. The new seat still hurts but it also still has that feeling that once it's broken in, it'll be awesome.

It's still not perfect, and the more I ride, it's nowhere near great. I swapped the bars out initially because I had a lot of shoulder and back pain, and now that I'm not hyper-focusing on my knee, I can feel the same tugging between my shoulders and the same lower back pain.

I took it out for a short ride today, trying to pay close attention to the things that bother me, seeing if I could figure it out without bugging a bunch of other people. If I can get more upright, it eases up. If I lean forward more--as if I were riding with drop bars--it eases up. Yet if I change the bars again, I may be back to square one, dealing with my knees because the overall geometry will change.

I've hit the point where I kinda want to sell this bike, and sell the older Raleigh, keep the Townie, and look for a more upright bike with more than 7 speeds. The downfall of the Townie is the gearing and its weight; 99% of the time it doesn't matter, but if I hit a hill, I'm gonna have a bad time.

After the short ride on the Marin, I grabbed the pink beast and headed back out, and it was nothing but fun. I need that, but without the motor.

I've been eyeing the Electra Townie Commute--upright and 27 speeds--but I have to clear garage space before I can even think about it.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Aces!

My birthday is near the end of the month, but I've already gotten a gift from a couple of my close friends.

Unlike the stock seat, this is female-specific (I bought a men's frame. And as I leaned, the seat kinda matters in terms of gender) and it matches my bike, with extra splashes of pink and blue (if you know me, you know why I dig hot pink.)

It's the 4th seat for the gray hybrid. I tried the stock for a while, a well-reviewed seat off Amazon, a Pedego memory foam, and now this. I thought the Pedego would work; after all, on the ebike it's super comfy. But I didn't account for the wider seat with a standard pedal position. The Pedego has a very mile crank forward position, about an inch to an inch and a half. It makes the wide front portion of the seat a non-issue, but on my hybrid, that tiny bit of extra seat dug into my thighs and was seriously uncomfortable.

So I put this one on this morning, leaving the new Kinekt seat post in place, made some adjustments, and then took off on a short test ride.

Zero knee pain.

That's mostly from the changes in the seat height, I think, but combined with this seat? It works. At least for the time I was on the bike, five miles, it worked.

The seat definitely needs to be broken in, but my gut says once it does it will be terrific. I didn't feel squirmy until mile 4, and most of where it bothered me can be taken care of my pointing the seat down just a tiny, tiny bit. The rest will come from breaking it in.

It was a good test for the seat post, too. I intentionally rode over a street surface so bumpy that it generally makes my teeth rattle, and the vibrations from it render my side mirror useless. I didn't feel a thing going over it today and had a stellar view of the idiot driver of a car coming up behind me at about 25 over the speed limit.

So far with this bike, I've swapped out the flat bar for the Surly Open Bar, lessening my reach, which helps with my back. Added the rear rack and Topeak tail bag. Kinekt seat post. And now the Terry bike seat. Really, I think the only things I now need are splashes of hot pink to make the bike seat look even better with the gray bike.

I also have a bit of a conundrum now: which bike to ride on any given day. This bike is fun. The Townie is fun. The Pedego is seriously fun, though harder to get my HR up now. What do, what do...

Sunday, July 28, 2019

So, maybe...

The joys of the Internet. There are a frakton of knowledgeable people who are willing to let newbies pick their brains, so I did.

What the hell else can I try to make my bike work for me?

They asked all the questions I expected--what have you tried, what's different about the bike since purchasing it, has the pain increased or decreased--but then I got a question that made me go, "Huh."

Is the knee pain in the same place as it was before changing the seat and post and then moving the seat back?

Well, no. Thinking about it, no. The pain was on the front of my knee, which is why others had told me to move the seat back. Now it's on the lower left anterior portion of my knee.

The place where it hurts when I climb stairs. Or ladders.

Yeah, you need to see a doctor about that.

It sounds like I have addressed the problems with the bike fit. Now my problem is a decades-old issue that's been getting worse over the last couple of years. It just hadn't really occurred to me. All I thought on the bike yesterday was that my knee still farking hurt, and I want that bike to work. I like that bike. A lot.

So now I need to suck it up and go see my doc, and hope he doesn't dismiss it as the aches of a fat older woman. The last time I had it looked at, that's exactly what happened, though I was much younger and the doc was mostly, yeah, lose weight you fucking cow, of course your knee hurts.

It was the attitude, not the actual words.

My current physician has been pretty decent and very supportive when I've mentioned the things I do to stay active, and he took me seriously when I had shoulder issues related to over-swimming.

Maybe that's why I'm reluctant. He'll take it seriously and I'll end up in an MRI machine, and I am a wee bit claustrophobic, especially when I have to take my glasses off.

Until then...I have the townie. I have the pink beast. And it occurred to me today that I have a lovely little stationary bike that I can plop in front of the TV; outside it's hotter than Satan's left testicle, and I didn't want to brave the heat, so I did an easy 10 miles on it.

Despite the photo, it's not great for putting a computer on (though that's why I bought it and was annoyed when I realized it's hard to type while you pedal) but it's excellent for reading or watching TV. And I wore a HR monitor while I was on it, and the calorie burn over 10 miles on it was only slightly lower than 10 on the Townie. So it was good enough for today, and I might get back on this evening just for the hell of it.

But yeah...my knee. At least now I know the hybrid could still be a keeper. Unless something better comes along. Something shiny and bright. I like shiny and bright.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Well, dangit...

Kinekt seat post, super comfy
I swapped out the seat post and saddle on the gray bike (I'm not really sure I can call it a hybrid anymore, I've changed enough that it's more like a city bike) and adjusted the post height, hoping that would ease the knee pain, but... nope. I did two miles and it hurt from start to finish. I went home and grabbed the Townie, and did another 10 with zero pain.

So, I dunno.

I'm going to put the old seat post and stock saddle back on, wear some bike shorts, and then see what happens. I'm struggling to remember if I had as much pain before I changed the seat; I only remember that I changed it because my asterisk hated it and I'm not thrilled with having to change into bike shorts before a ride.

Cripes, I've only had it for three or four months. I should remember.

It shouldn't matter, really. I like the Townie, but it is slower. I don't really care about that if I'm just headed out for groceries and the like, but for a dedicated fitness ride, I'd like to be faster. Yesterday's 12.5 miles took an hour and fifteen minutes, which is only about 10 minutes longer, but still. I felt slow, and I struggled to get my heart rate up. I averaged 122bpm; on the hybrid I average 10-12 higher.

I shoot for a 500 calorie burn. If I'm going to spend an extra fifteen minutes in the saddle, I kind of want an extra fifteen minutes worth of burn.

Logically, I'm not sure why I want to be faster. I'm having fun, I enjoy the ride, and that's the important thing. But I'm four months into a plateau, I don't think I can cut my calories any further--I'm already at 1200-1300--but I also don't think I can spend that much more time on the bike every day.

This would be nice...
A friend advised I get back in the pool to mix things up, but the only pools are a town away and historically, after a few weeks, I start loathing the drive out there. And I have a perfectly good treadmill at home, and a killer rowing machine...I should make better use of those before joining another gym.

Now, ideally, a pool in the back yard would be nice, but I don't see that happening for a while.

Soon, probably next week or the week after, we're moving stuff around the house so that the treadmill and rowing machine are in the otherwise unused living room, or even where my office currently is. The problem with those being in the spare bedroom is that it's easy to forget that they're even in the house, and it doesn't help that the room is hot and gets hotter when someone is working out.

But damn. I have to figure out something to break this plateau. I honestly thought that by now I would be very close to my goal weight, but I'm so far off it's discouraging.

And I know, this is about being healthy and not focusing so much on my weight. I'm doing pretty freaking good at the eating better and exercising well, but I'm not happy with my weight still. I'm not comfortable. Were I comfortable, I think I'd be happy with it.

And fuck it, I just want to wear a tight t-shirt and not feel all self-conscious about it.

 And apropos to nothing...I was going to take that cup holder off because none of the lidded cups I had fit it well enough. Then yesterday as I locked up at Starbucks, one of the regulars was getting out of her car and stopped to ask about the new bike and was geeking over it. She's quite a bit older and loved the crank forward position, the idea of being able to get her feet down at a stop.

In talking I mentioned taking the cup holder off, and why, and she told me to wait. She was inside the store for a couple of minutes and came out with this cup and told me to try that out. And it fit perfectly. And damned if she hadn't bought it for me, and had the barista rinse it out so that I could pour my tea into it.

So I'm keeping the holder for now, because I seriously enjoyed the ride home having the cup right there.

It's the little things...

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

...and now I need to go shopping...

The new bike arrived a week ago--just in time for me to leave to go watch the Boy's pets for a day--and by the time I got home the temps were an unpleasant Nope and I was already dead tired, so I didn't get any riding done beyond an inaugural 3 miles to see how it rode.

Those 3 miles were pleasant enough, but not any real test of how my giant asterisk was going to like it, nor how my knees would hold up. But I was happy enough and looked forward to the next ride.

Friday I ordered a couple of nifty pannier baskets that slip right over the rear rack, and a basket that apparently doesn't play nice with the baskets but will otherwise be great for carting small stuff. I also grabbed a phone holder, bottle cage, and cup holder for the handlebar, and when it all arrived on Monday--direct from Trek, I am impressed--I pulled the bike into the house and started putting things on.

Today I took it out for what I hoped would be 10 miles, but the heat got to me and I was home at 8. Still not too bad, and if it cools down a little this evening I can go back out.

The good: it's an easy bike to ride. I felt comfortable the whole time today, with zero knee pain and I didn't hit 5 miles and wish for a better seat and tougher backside. Shifting was smooth (and I didn't expect that given that this is a kind cheap group set) and the rim brakes are solid. I had a ton of fun and for hauling stuff around, I think this will be a winner.

The cup holder will be removed; it won't hold any of the bottles or cups I carry, but the spiffy kitty-bottle-cage will.

The not as good: it's slow. I mean, I'm slow as it is, but a little slower on this. I was warned it was a slower bike because of the weight (doesn't really feel heavy to me) and geometry, but when you ride at a solid 11-12 mph, how much slower can it be?

2-3 miles slower, it seems.

Still, I'm not at all unhappy about that. If I'd done the full 10 I'd planned on, I think the calorie burn would have been right where I wanted it, 500 or so.

I also need to find a better way to secure the side baskets. They're made for this bike and hook right onto the rack, but without anything in them, the left one lifted a little bit, even with a bungee wrapped around it. I'll figure it out.

All in all, for the 11 miles I've been on it, it's fun and will work for me.

Next up, though, is changing the seat post and seat on the gray hybrid, then rechecking my leg extension. I'm pretty sure I can address the knee pain this way, and I still want to use this bike for rides where I don't intend to stop for anything more than a drink at Starbucks. It's lighter and with the new seat, I think it'll be comfy.

My pink beast is probably going to be the least ridden of the bikes, even though it's still my favorite. And I feel kind of bad about that, like the bike is even going to care.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Soon...

Electra Townie 7D in Icy Blue
Sometime this week, this shall be mine. I ordered it today through a local bike shop--they had one on the floor but I didn't like the color--and it should be here on Wednesday. It's pretty basic as far as bikes go, but it's comfortable and fun, and as long as I don't need to tackle any big hills, it's as much bike as I need.

The screaming neon pink bike isn't going anywhere--I love that thing. The gray hybrid isn't going anywhere either--I have an emotional attachment to it and still want to play with it. But the dark red Raleigh that I have on a trainer inside might be re-homed. I don't use it enough and I don't need four bikes. Not that I don't want four bikes, but if I have a fourth I'd rather it were something else.

This gives me room to play with stuff. Like adding baskets to the pink bike and turning it into a grocery hauler, maybe even a trailer if I decide it works for that. Or using the hybrid to learn to do some work on a bike myself. We'll see.

I'm just absurdly excited to get a new bike, no matter how many are already in the garage.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Ow

I gave the new setup a good workout yesterday, with about 18 miles in 90 minutes (slow, yes, but I am slow even when I feel like I'm going fast). I had to take an early break because my HR went higher than I would like, but also because that seat was killing my poor asterisk.

Took another break after another 3 miles because of my backside, and yet another 4 miles later. I normally don't mind a break at 5 miles unless I've hit my stride and just need to keep going, but at 3? Too soon.

All in all, though, it didn't matter, because my knee was killing me either way. This isn't even my usual pain from going up stairs or ladders; it's specific to riding and I suspect has everything to do with the fit of the bike. In changing the bars, I changed the geometry of the bike, which I wanted in order to avoid back and shoulder pain that had not let up after 150-200 miles.

I think I gave getting used to the flat bars a good try; I'm not sure I can give this setup that much time without incurring an injury.

Now, I can ride the Pedego with nearly zero knee pain. It only hurts once in a while, when I push off from a stop, and it's not the same pain I'm getting with the Marin. That pain is the same kind and location I get when going up ladders and stairs.

So...I'm kinda looking at crank forward bikes, hoping to approximate the geometry of the Pedego, but without the weight of that particular frame. I tried the Spouse Thingy's semi-recumbent Day 6 Patriot, but I can't even sit all the way on the seat and still reach the peddles, even though it's a small frame. I only know of a couple more options, one of the Electra Townie line, either the Path or Commuter.

I'm not even sure I can find one of those locally and that's not something I would buy online.

So, we'll see. I'm not giving up on this. Riding has become way too important to me, but I don't want to do it all on an electric.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Tweaking...

…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.

New bars, mirror, tail bag, seat
Splash of color on the seat
The bars. More swept back than the original flat bar, with a bit of a rise

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.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Huh

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.