Monday, March 7, 2011

Getting My Groove Back!

Finally, oh finally! Today I felt like myself on my bike again. Not watching my speed. Not watching for black ice. Not getting off every couple of blocks to drag the poor bike across a snowbank or to cross a tricky intersection in order to make a left turn. While Spring has not fully sprung yet, winter is definitely gone and the roads are clear. So what if it's raining and there isn't a green leaf or flower in sight (other than on my tights)? I got my cycling groove back!

Taking it nice and slow on the Gazelle since the snow began to fall in December, I'd almost forgotten how awesome this bicycle feels to ride when I really push it. Though heavy, it accelerates wonderfully and moves fluidly with my body. It is tremendous fun to cycle 17mph on this gorgeous beast - steering with my hips and leaning into turns with abandon - sometimes to the amazed looks of passers-by and fellow cyclists. Oh my 50lb flying machine, how I've missed these good times!

And if you're wondering how I know that I can go 17mph on the Gazelle, it's thanks to the Co-Habitant's computer on his Pashley. Yes, he has computers both on his roadbike and on his transport bike, and when we ride together he likes to inform me of my speed. Although secretly pleased, I dutifully pretend to be annoyed. I mean, come on - a computer on a Pashley Roadster! What's next, bottle cages? Oh wait...

Well, as you can tell, I am in a fine mood. I had not fully realised until now how much cycling this winter had been stressing me out. While I am always vigilant when riding in traffic, the sort of hyper-vigilance the road conditions commanded over the past two months really did a number on my nerves. I guess for me, cycling is both stressful and tedious if I expect to have to execute emergency maneuvers at any moment. I wouldn't make a good bike messenger for sure.

Of course, one downside to the winter ending is that all the thick wool hats I've been making (that our apartment is now littered with) will soon have to be retired until the next cold season - but that is a small price to pay for getting my cycling groove back. It has been weird to keep up Lovely Bicycle for the past couple of months while doing only a minimal amount of cycling, and I felt almost fraudulent to be waxing lyrical about bicycle design and cycling-related issues while riding hardly 10 miles per week. Hopefully that is all in the past (that is, until next winter) and I will soon once again have the pleasure of boring you with descriptions of 40 mile rides on my roadbikes, trips to distant grocery stores, and discoveries of new-to-me lands.

33 comments:

  1. Is this a new look for the Co-Habitant? The computer note is interesting -
    I have computers on my newer bikes but not on any of the classically built ones.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tis his rain jacket - impressively matched in colour to his cold weather jacket. Will write about his raingear soon.

    The computer is mounted on the stem and is surprisingly unobtrusive. You can sort of see it here.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I got the knog nerd wireless computer, 12 function and is programable for 2 bikes, because it's so easy to remove and switch. I use it on my Hillborne, but have been tempted to try it on my heavy-ass gazelle as well. And all my reservations in purchasing it were washed away the first time I used it. Easy to install and performs seamlessly, much more than I can say for my bf's $200 mavic computer.

    ReplyDelete
  4. While Spring has not fully sprung yet, winter is definitely gone and the roads are clear.

    Forecast calls for snow on Thursday :-).

    ReplyDelete
  5. Congratulations! I know I miss riding even for short periods like a business trip or getting sick, and I'm the same way, having to be hyper-aware all the time really frays my nerves (one of the reasons driving isn't enjoyable to me).

    Have a wonderful week getting back in the normal swing of things!

    ReplyDelete
  6. No bike robots here, but I share your relief at better road conditions. I didn't know how hard I was concentrating until it was possible to relax a bit.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It's good to hear that you got your groove back, Velouria, gives me hope for myself! When I de-raced (for lack of a better word) my road bike last year, I took the computer off. I don't think I'll miss it. It will definitely not go on my new (to me) Riv Bleriot. I know my local routes well enough to have a pretty good idea of how far I've gone. But I have toyed with the idea of getting a wireless comp. and stashing the head unit in the saddle bag, so as to use it for an odometer only. Cheers, Steve in MD

    ReplyDelete
  8. Glad you and the Co-Habitant are finding joy in riding again. Any day now the sun will be shining, birds will be chirping, and flowers will be blooming!

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's minus a billion here with snow everywhere, but I'm so glad spring is on it's way!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have a new set of bottle mounts there, more elegant. Better cages, too. Titanium! I had no idea until B from Royal H told me. :)

    They make my bike fast and justify having the computer. Besides, I need it for time and mileage and trip distance determination. It's not a toy, you know. Is serious bike.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm not a big fan of most bicycle facilities, but I will admit I am jealous when I read about how Copenhagen keeps their side paths plowed and salted all winter. Like you, I find riding on streets with rutted snow and black ice stressful and look forward every year to when temperatures stay above freezing so I no longer have to watch out for these hazards. Of course, this winter has been incredibly hard on streets and now I have to watch out for giant pot holes instead of black ice ...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Well, if the weather becomes to warm for wool caps, why doesn't the cohabitant get a dark gray or black lightweight fedora? It would look stunning on him and would be a terrific match with the bike.

    You could blog about your trip to JP and review Salmagundi and a cafe or two in the area! It would be totally awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  13. somervillain said...
    Forecast calls for snow on Thursday :-).


    You are teasing! The forecast I am seeing says showers and high of 48F.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Steve in MD - I like having a computer on my touring bike, as it allows me to keep track of how endurant I am getting - useful for planning future, longer trips.

    lyen - What is a good route into JP that does not involve the Emerald Necklace?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Don't be fooled by that fickle and cruel New England weather! And don't put away all your warm wooly gear just yet. You've got some cold, gray, and icy days ahead.

    I used to live with my brother in your fair city in the '70's. He got married on May 14th, and we had a blizzard on May 8th! It was very difficult getting visitors from Logan Airport to the Cape for the wedding. But the show had to go on.

    Hope "springs" eternal but winter seems to last too long!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Those tights are fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Velouria - I usually take St Paul St to Harvard St to South Huntington Ave to Centre. Unfortunately, this requires a short trip down Route 9, which is scary, but not unsafe.

    Alternatively, you can take the Southwest corridor from Symphony Hall to Green St, but unsafe at intersections.

    Another route is St Paul St to School St to Cypress St to Perkins St, which is not too bad either.

    Anyways, if you've never been to Salmagundi, you're going to love it. And the owner is going to charm you to death.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Call me crazy, but I've also been thinking about putting a cyclometer on my three-speed Raleigh. I like being able to keep track of how far I went, especially if I'm doing a longer ride. And modern cyclometers are so small that I don't think it's going to mess up the aesthetic that much.

    Of course, I've also put a water bottle cage on the bike as well. Yep, I like having easy access to water. Guess I can't become a member of the Aesthete Club! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  19. lyen - Thanks, I will check it out. The Emerald Necklace greenway is beautiful, but the design (mostly the transition from one part to another) drove me nuts the last time I cycled that way.

    adventure - I've seen many original Raleigh 3-speeds and 5-speeds with old school cycling odometers, so it's not that crazy! I think the cycling computer is largely misunderstood nowadays. There are many uses for it other than racing or pretend-racing.

    ReplyDelete
  20. i was curious....in the picture of the co-habitant's bike computer, how did he mount those 3 bottle cages? i really like that look!!!

    ReplyDelete
  21. It's "only" two bottle cages.
    I'll let him answer how : )

    ReplyDelete
  22. Velouria--I've thought about finding one of those old school cycling odometers to make it more "period correct", but it just seems like the new stuff is better--magnets vs mechanical. I had one on the fork the Centurion Le Mans when I bought it and could never get it to work. Maybe someone's making a new version?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Bryman--It was a long process. At first I used the mounts that Menoura (of Japan) makes. I have two of them. They are OK, but bring the bottle out a bit, so I switched to the VO mounts. (There's also a similar OEM version marketed by one of the big component makers, forgot which.) The VO mount needs to be de-rubberized and a properly re-shimmed or it will move. DIY warning.

    Here is the VO version: VO connector

    My new bottle cages (not pictured in the old post from 2010) are similar to VO Moderniste cages.

    It's not perfect. It was hard getting it to work and to stay put. Like I said: You may have to do a bit of DIY. I should photograph the most recent iteration of the system which seems to work for me.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Oh, how I wish winter would end here! It snowed last night, obliterating any hopes of cycling this week and more is forecasted for next week as well. :(

    ReplyDelete
  25. The winter has been long and terrible for all cyclist I fear. I know that I'm well past itching to ride since I have several components to changer/add to my Cruiser.

    There are new handlebars to mount, a computer to install, pedals to change, lights to upgrade, a rack to mount as well as getting my wife's Cruiser ready for her to ride. So much to do.....

    ARGGG!! WILL WINTER NEVER END!! :()

    ReplyDelete
  26. for routes to JP, I'd second Iyen's suggestion about St. Paul, and would say that while Harvard Ave is the most direct route southbound, it's fairly high trafficky and congested. There are also few pleasant ways to get to Harvard Ave. from Cambridge.

    The below is a little quieter, though includes more turns.

    From Inman Square to JP without doing the Necklace (assumes BU bridge southbound is still open):

    Hampshire southeast, R on Columbus
    Follow Columbus into Central Square at Pu Pu Hotpot and continue on to Sidney St. crossing Mass Ave.
    Follow Sidney towards Mem Drive Rotary, continue through Rotary over BU Bridge
    Right on Dummer, left on St. Paul
    Left on Aspinwall, Left on Parkway, Right on Francis
    Follow Francis over. Rt. 9 and becomes Tremont, then right on Perkins into JP.

    If the BU Bridge is under construction, then the Mass Ave. bridge south to Columbus and a right from there to the SW Corridor park is my second option, but if that still counts as "the Necklace" for you, my alternate would be Mass Ave., right on Beacon into Kenmore Square then left turn on Kent Street to Aspinwall and the rest of above.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Glad to hear you're back on the road! I know how it feels to crave the ride.

    ReplyDelete
  28. cris - Very interesting route! Thanks for sharing. That reminds me:

    Velouria - If you're not familiar with the Cottage Farm neighborhood, you must familiarize yourself with it! It's one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Boston and it offers many quiet shortcuts for cyclists!

    ReplyDelete
  29. thanks Velouria, and co-habitant. i actually meant "2" but was trying to type with a Siamese cat pawing at the screen as she saw letters appearing. anyway i like the setup, and yes id love to see the most recent iteration of it, maybe you could email it to me in case i miss it on here?

    on another note, i really enjoy your blog here. i read it every day before i even check in on the news!! i don't post often, BUT i do look in on the page at least 3 times a day.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thanks Bryman : )

    lyen - I am not familiar with the Cottage Farm neighbourhood, though it's possible that I've been there without knowing what it's called. Thanks for the suggestion, I'll check it out.

    Thanks cris also for the alternative JP route.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I know the Co-Hab loves his Pashley, but I think he needs this just to be fair: http://columbus.craigslist.org/bik/2283541644.html I wish I could buy it for my co-hab, but it's too tall.

    ReplyDelete
  32. That is a great deal! Not sure whether the seller really means "fixed gear" though - sounds like he is talking about single speed coaster brake.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Gosh, I didn't even see that. I would imagine you are correct. I think I just saw "Gazelle" and "$450" in the same post and got a little dizzy!

    ReplyDelete