Friday, March 29, 2019

The answer to indoor riding...

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.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Oddz & Endz

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.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Here comes the rain again...

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.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Tiny hills, major effort

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?

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


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.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Okay, so food helps

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.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Well, that sucked

Major mistake on my part: heading out at 2 pm without having had lunch. It never even crossed my mind. I’d spent the morning getting some work done, and when the chance presented itself, I grabbed my bike and started off on what I intended to be a 10 mile ride.

At two miles, I felt like utter crap.

At 2.5, I realized what the problem was. Between that and fighting a breeze that had aspirations of becoming wind, I headed home. All I managed was three miles, and it wasn’t even a fun three miles.
And it’s stupid, but I wanted those 10 miles for no reason other than I’m up a pound and the ride would have burned up a good 500 calories.

Who the hell gains a pound when they top out at 1200 calories a day?


Friday, March 15, 2019

I know it's stupid...

I’ve always had a nasty habit of finding one mostly-comfortable gear on my bike and sticking to it. From my first 10 speed in the 70s (Schwinn Continental, I still miss that bike) to the electric, I’ve spent a few minutes finding the gear that doesn’t hurt, and I leave it. Uphill, downhill, flat ground…didn’t matter.

But, with the new bike, I figured I’d be better off if I played with it. So, the day before yesterday, after 6-7 miles, pedaling comfortably, I changed gears. It’s a stupid thing to be proud of, but hey, I’ll take my victories where I can find them. I wound up pedaling a little harder, my heart rate went up, and I went faster.

All good things.

So today I took the Pedego out. It was windy and I didn’t want to fight it, and it needs to be ridden every now and then.

And I changed gears. And my heart rate went up. It was harder, even with pedal assist. But, I did not go faster, because the bike is farkton heavy and there was no need to up the assist to get more speed.
Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and warm, not too windy, so once I get a few things done work-wise, I’m going outside to play.

Who knows, maybe I’ll try another gear or two.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


I think this thing is coming off the trainer and going into the shed.

Excuse the clutter…the Room of Pain is a work in progress
 Riding that bike is just not comfortable. I can’t figure out if it’s the frame, the handlebar, or the overall geometry, but I feel cramped as hell on it and I get mentally itchy after just 5 minutes. At some point I might replace the bar and see if that does anything, or I’ll save the money (it was not a spendy bike…like $300) and get a used bike that fits to put on the trainer.

The weather is turning favorable, more spring days than rainy, so I expect I’ll spend more time outside riding than inside pretending. That means I won’t really need to think about it until next winter, if even then. Face it, even when it’s cold here, it’s not cold, and as delicate as I am, I can deal with cold.

I think.

We’ll see.

Now, the treadmill behind it, that’ll get used. It gets used. The cats totally love to lounge on it…hell, I bet Max could legit brag that he spends an hour a day on the treadmill.

It’s a decent treadmill and comfortable to use (even when it’s turned on) and we have a 15K to get ready for…so, yes, it’ll get used by the humans in the house, too. Because there is no way I’m going outside to run when it’s 90 degrees outside. I might bike…but not run.


Saturday, March 09, 2019


Seriously. Ow.

I wasn’t sore this morning, which surprised me, so I headed out for another non-powered ride. I took a 4 mile route to Starbucks, sat there for about 45 minutes while I poked through a chapter on my manuscript, then headed home. I intended to do 6 miles on the way back, but at mile 5 I was waffling and at mile 5.25 I was sure I needed to just get my ass home.

So, 9.5 miles and the only real issue was how much my butt hurt.

I dug around in the closet where my old gear went to die, because I had a pair of bike shorts I liked…but they’re gone. All of it is gone. I have a nasty feeling that it all went out when I cleared stuff out to donate. I hadn’t intended to donate those, but they’re gone, so there’s a good chance I scooped them up by accident.

So, I ordered an inexpensive pair and they should be here by Monday.
I also might venture toward the next town over and see if I can get another pair…though I don’t know how many opportunities I’ll have for riding over the weekend. It’s supposed to rain; if it’s not pounding rain with wind, I’ll likely go out for a bit, but if it’s a real soaker or high winds, I’ll find other things to do.

Like…shop for shorts.

Monday looks to be a good riding day, but I have a commitment in the afternoon, so we’ll see.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Well, that didn't take long...

Went into a bike shop in nearby Davis to look at bikes, told the kid there what kind of riding I do, the distances I shoot for, and that I need to be upright because this old body is not leaning over drop bars. He immediately thought of several possibilities and we took a couple of bikes outside to test ride, one by one.

The first one I tested felt so much better than my old Raleigh, but the bars were a bit far forward and I was on my hands harder than I’m comfortable with. But, bonus, the bars and stem are quite easily adjustable, and with a few tweaks, that bike felt amazing.

The next one I tried was a Specialized step-thru, the color was spiffy, and the grips felt good. All in all, it was a close match to the first bike, but there was something about the first that edge it out a bit. The ease of adjusting the bars is part of it, I think, and the bars are also a little bit wider (men’s frame versus women’s, maybe) which worked better for my broader shoulders.

There were variations on the theme–lots of bikes that fit the parameters of what I was looking for, but the price point on these two bikes was what I was willing to spend on what I hope is just a starter bike. For just under $500 I got a bike almost as comfy as the Pedego (and with bike shorts I think it will be equitable) and that I can really work with.

Marin Larkspur CS2

As soon as we got it home, we slapped a bottle cage on it and a Garmin mount, and headed out for a shake-down ride. I honestly thought I would struggle, that my heart rate would skyrocket and a couple miles in I would have to stop, but we did five and I could have done more if not for my achign asterisk and sore hands.

The seat is not as cushy as the one on my ebike, but it’s not a torture device, either. I’ll get used to it. The bars might need to come up a half inch still, or moved toward me a touch more, but I’ll adjust to that, too. It felt a lot like going from a cruiser motorcycle to a semi-sportsbike–hurts at first, but you adapt.

And here’s where getting someone who really knows what they’re doing fit a bike to you: my knees didn’t hurt at all during that five miles. Not to say they won’t, but I really expected that starting from a stop would bring about quite a bit of pain, but it didn’t.

The plan from here is to start every bike ride on this one, get a minimum of five miles in (that will go up) and when I’m done, go home and get the Pedego for the rest of the miles. It’s too much fun to not ride.

And oh man, I was so slow on the Marin…slower than I used to be on a road bike. I think I averaged about 9mph when I used to do around 12 (which was still slow) and I only topped 10 when going down an incline. There was a subtle difference in my heart rate; today I averaged about 125 on the Marin, 120 on the Pedego afterward. The main thing is I hit the 120s much sooner on the Marin and kept it there; it took me a good 3-4 minutes longer to get into the 120s on the Pedego. Over 5 miles I burned 300 calories on the Marin, and only 150 in the next 5 on the Pedego.

That takes nothing away from the progress I made on the Pedego; I lost 30 pounds riding it. But I might burn more now, which is what I really want.

So, we’ll see.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

ISO the right road bike...

…and I use “road” to mean a non-electric. I know that a road bike is not a catch-all term for hard core riders, but I am not hard-core and I just want something to ride that I’m comfortable on.

Raleigh Venture, probably from 2010 or so. I really don’t remember.
This is the current non-electric that I have up on a trainer in the room of pain. I feel horribly cramped on it, which, until last night, made no sense to me. It’s a women’s bike, the large sized frame, and I’m not tiny, so it should work.

But then I talked to a few people who know bikes better than I ever will, and one pointed out something that was obvious to him but not to me: women’s bikes tend to have narrower bars and a slightly shorter distance from stem to seat post. I am a bit taller than a lot of women, and I have broader shoulders and a longer torso. The average women’s bike might not be what works for me.

A lot of the bikes I’ve been looking at online are women’s bikes, but I may need to switch gears and pay attention to men’s bikes.

And either way, there’s a shop near here that does bike fitting, even using lasers to measure a rider. So I think I’ll see if I can get a fitting appointment next week, and see what they come up with.

I’m kinda chomping at the bit with this, just because I want to see how well I can ride without the motor. And I’m pretty sure I’ll get my heart rate a little higher now with a road bike; I’ve kind of tapped out HR-wise on the electric. I’m struggling to hit 130bpm, where before I reached it easily.

Maybe a change up will help get the scale moving again.

Mostly, though, I want the challenge. And before you laugh, yeah, it will be a bit of a challenge. I need to get over the idea that I’ll pass out on the bike, and over the idea that I can get into trouble.

Those things might happen, but…chances must be taken.

The ebike will still be my favorite toy, regardless. I just have stupid amounts of fun on it.

The Sound of Silence

There’s a Pedego Facebook page, one meant for owners to connect and not just the company pimping their wares for the masses. They moderate the page, but rarely interfere, even when there are complaints.

I appreciate this, I really do. It leaves the members open to discuss the bad along with the good, and one of the things most complained about is the brakes. For a spendy bike, the brakes are annoyingly squeaky; you’d think a company making a bike this expensive would figure out how to put brakes on it that you can’t hear from 5 blocks away.

I’ve put up with the squeal since I bought the bike in August 2017. It’s annoying, yes, but the brakes always stopped the bike and felt solid.

But this week it felt like I was pulling the rear brake lever further to the grip than usual, and I assumed it meant it was time for new brake pads. The dealer is an hour away and I really didn’t want to haul the bike there, leave it for who knows how long, and then make the drive back to get it. So we took it to a local bike shop; really local–as small as this place is, there’s a shop that sells and repairs bicycles, and the owner was willing to take a look.

Initially, he didn’t think I’d worn the brakes down,so he did a few adjustments and I took it for a test ride…and it still squealed horribly.

I admit, I would have left it like that. He’d done more than adjust the brakes; he tightened some loose parts on the front end, reattached the wires on my headlamp, and taken some slack out of the brake cables. But he wanted to figure out the squeal, so we left again so he could figure it out.

He wound up changing the pads and discovered that they’d not only worn unevenly, one of them and a weird little lip on it. The brake was engaging, but was off alignment so part of it never touched the disk. New pads, more tightening of things, truing the disks…and the squeak is pretty much gone. The front has a tiny squeal to it, but given how bad it was before, I can live with that.

It feels like a new bike now. I didn’t realize there was anything amiss up front, though now I can feel the difference. I’ll be able to brake more efficiently; I’ve been letting up at the first squeals and riding the back brake since it wasn’t quite as noisy.

Finger crossed it doesn’t start up again.

And I discovered I won’t melt while riding. It was raining on the way there, and it was raining on the way back, but other than my glasses getting wet and it’s annoying to try to see through droplet-covered lenses, the bike still felt solid on the street surface.

I’d almost be willing to do it again.

I also started researching road bikes online. I don’t think I can do the same 20-30 miles I do now on one, but I’d like an entry level hybrid to ride around the neighborhood, and build on that. I don’t want to spend a lot, but damn, some of the prettiest bikes out there are $10-13K.

Yeah, no.

I can’t imagine ever getting to point where a $13,000 bicycle would be optimal for me, not at my age.
But, we’ll see what I eventually wind up with…as long as it’s under $600 or so. And spiffy looking. And fast.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Rainy Day Riding

Raleigh Venture on a Kinetic trainer
The start to Thumper’s Room of Pain.

The treadmill has been in the room for a while, though it was moved to free up floor space for the bike and a rowing machine…the latter of which is not set up at the moment because one of the wardrobes on that wall needs to be removed first. It’s about nine feet long and the room is only 10 x 10; the wardrobe takes up a good 2 feet of the floor.

It’s empty and can be used in the garage, so the rowing machine should be up soon.

The main thing for me right now is the bike. The problem for me is that I feel super cramped on it, but I’m not sure if it’s the frame or that I’m so used to the cruiser bars on my Pedego that leaning just a tiny bit forward throws me off.

I’ll still use it, but it takes a good 5 minutes of pedaling before I feel like I can keep going.

At some point, I’ll want to ride something that an electric bike outside. The plan was to take the Raleigh off the trainer but I’m now leaning toward looking for a good used bike to ride, and just leave this one where it is. It works, and that’s all I need right now.

And today, I’m going to need it. We’d planned on taking a long ride this morning, but it’s raining and frankly, we’re not that dedicated.

I got 20 miles in yesterday and 10 the day before, so I’m not, like, ohmygod I need to ride, but I would like to get a few miles in and then take tomorrow as a rest day.

Yeah, I’m learning. I need rest days. My knees are too old now not to.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

(not)Cheating 101

We ride together…a lot

I often ride to Starbucks; if I have a choice, I take the bike. I take the long way and get there at right about 5 miles, and then take the longer way home. It’s a heck of a lot more fun than driving, in spite of the idiots driving around here who seem to think bike lanes are a suggestion and have no clue that bicycles are allowed to use the roads.

My favorite toy has an electric motor; I have another bike, a standard step-through 8 speed road bike, but because of reasons, I’m not comfortable taking it far from home. Hence, it lives in the spare bedroom on top of an indoor trainer and I always take the pretty pink bike. A while back, I got to Starbucks and started to lock it up, but when I went to turn the controller off, it was flashing an error code.

Because the Internet is a thing, after I got online and whined about it, and then posted to a Pedego FB group, I got the answer I needed and was not stuck there all day waiting for the Spouse Thingy to come pick me up. But I did whine about it BECAUSE OF COURSE I DID THAT’S WHAT I DO, which set off a IM conversation that would have pissed me off if I hadn’t known it was tongue in cheek.

Dood: Electric. That’s cheating.
Me: Electric. That’s fricking FUN.
Dood: Cheat, cheat cheat, cheat, cheat.
Me: Says the guy with an electric skateboard. And an electric wheel.
Dood: That’s different. Those are for fun.

Here’s the thing… a lot of people–a lot of a lot–think riding an electric bike is somehow cheating. A “real” cyclist pedals using nothing but body power and sweats like a whore in July, developing massive quads that can crush small children and delicate women with zero effort. He was teasing me because he knows I’ve heard that grunted in my direction: “yeah, it’s a nice looking bike, but she’s cheating

If you ride a regular bike, more power to you. The Spouse Thingy does; he likes his bike. I like mine. He uses his gears to adapt to changes in the road grade and surface. I use different levels of pedal assist. It’s basically like using the gears, which I have but have never changed, but I save a lot of wear and tear on my knees. And I’m not young anymore. I like the idea of saving that wear and tear.

The motor isn’t a heart-rate curbing device, either. If I take the road bike a mile, I get my HR up to about 130. If I take the electric, I get my HR up to about 130. The difference is I get there faster…so I go further. If I take the road bike, I might ride 3-4 miles. If I take the electric, I might stop at 10 but I’m just as likely to go 15, and often 20. My longest ride is 30, and I only went home because I was hungry and had to pee.

Road bike = 20ish minutes at 130
Electric bike = 60-120 minutes at 130

For what I want…it’s not cheating.

But here’s the kicker. I don’t only ride the electric because it’s more fun for me. I ride it because a couple of years ago (hell, maybe 5-7 at this point) I was pedaling my merry way home, and a quarter mile short I started feeling super nauseated and light headed. And then I passed out. I was damned lucky to not be going at speed when that happened; I was able to get off the bike. The only thing that saved my asterisk was recognizing the symptoms of over-heating combined with a blood sugar crash.

I don’t always recognize it when it happens. Most of the time I do (ask the Spouse Thingy how many times I’ve just stopped and told him I need to eat. Like RIGHT NOW) and deal with it. But afterward it feels like a ton of ick, and getting back on a bike I’d have to pedal very slowly is not the best idea in the world.

Because the bike has a throttle, if I get into trouble, I can get my asterisk home without having to pedal. I can get to food, or sugar, or a/c (and seriously, I now know the distances between just about everything in this little town, at least the places I would need to reach quickly. All hail 3 Day training.) Riding an electric gives me freedom I don’t have otherwise.

So no, it’s not cheating. I get more exercise, and I feel a hell of a lot safer on it.

It doesn’t even matter if that safety is my own perception. I FEEL safer. Thusly, I get out and ride when I can. And isn’t that the point? Ride safe, ride over drive, have some fraking FUN.

And older folks…this is an awesome way to get back into activity. If you can’t ride anymore, an electric might make it possible. If you can’t balance, there are electric trikes. Pedego has some seriously great options.

So, yeah. I don’t wanna pass out on a bike.

I want to have fun.

So I do.

A matching water bottle was necessary...right?

Saturday, March 02, 2019


It's a nonscale victory that I'll totally take. On a whim, I bought a pair of pants at Walmart--only $15, so why not--and I picked a size smaller than I've been in.

They're a tiny bit snug in the waist but fit perfectly everywhere else. Three to five pounds and the waist will be perfect, too.

Scale victory: it finally moved today. I am just .75 pounds from being at my lowest weight in 20 years. That's still well into the realm of overweight, but fuckitall, I'll take it.

It's raining AGAIN today, but once my lunch settles, I'm totally getting on the indoor bike to nowhere.