Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Riding to the Ride

Soma Smoothie Test Rides
Most of the rides I take part in start on the outskirts of Boston, usually about 10 miles from my house. Since I don't have a car, naturally I ride my bike there - which means tacking on 20 miles or so to the mileage of the ride itself. A 30 mile club ride is really a 50 mile ride for me, and so on.

In the beginning I thought this put me at a disadvantage to most of the other cyclists there - who either lived nearby or arrived by car. After all, by the time the ride starts I've already cycled 10 miles, whereas the others are well-rested and full of energy. But as I kept riding and learned more about myself as a cyclist, I realised that it was quite the opposite. I am one of those riders who is slow to warm up - feeling sluggish for quite a while before suddenly waking up and getting that "I have wings!" feeling. How lucky that riding to the ride provides me with a warm up!

I've grown so used to riding my bike straight from home, that doing a couple of rides with remote starts this year was incredibly strange. It felt unnatural to load the bike into a car, and I couldn't shake the feeling I was forgetting something, my standard operating procedure for getting out the door disrupted. The remote start was the one aspect of D2R2 I didn't love, while part of the appeal of the overnight ride to Maine was starting from our neighbourhood and ending up across two state lines. Here in the Northeast we have fantastic regional events, and I am trying to decide how interested I am in those that aren't within reasonable cycling distance. ...Of course the definition of what's reasonable is subjective. Some have been known to ride to D2R2 from Boston. A 100 mile warm-up certainly beats my 10!

33 comments:

  1. Indeed. Those w/o a car live in a different paradigm than those with a car.

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  2. You articulate what thousands before you have felt.

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  3. This has been the case for me. A primary appeal of cycling is that one can simply walk out the door and ride. I always found driving to a ride or race to be conceptually awkward - - as in driving 200 km to ride 100 km. Doesn't sound right somehow.

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    1. My rule is that I should be out (skiing, riding, running, cycling) longer than I am driving. YMMV.

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  4. I seem to stretch out and get going after several miles as well. I would like to figure out how to warm up faster but nothing seems to work for me, especially at 5am in the dark. I was lucky to get out at 10 this morning and the difference was a faster average speed.

    You looked warned up by the time I saw you and the Pixie Fixie this morning - you must have been 20 miles into your ride and deep on conversation

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    1. Yes, it is nice to be able to start a ride from you front door. While visiting my Aunt in Medford last summer I was able to reach the Minuteman in a minutes and then find many bucolic connections from the end of the trail. From my current location in Southern California a two to three hundred mile warm up ride would be required to reach roads such as those found in the outlying areas of Boston. You are blessed with many fine riding opportunities!

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  5. If you do D2R2 next year, you'd be welcome to stay in our guest room. We're about 15 flat miles from the start, and I may do the ride myself if I'm not traveling then. I don't think my wife would do the ride (she's not a hill climber, at least not yet) but she might ride to the start.

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    1. Thant is very kind of you. The 40 mile River Tour route has mostly very gradual climbing, with the short steep stretches being easily walkable. It is such a beautiful route, I'd very much encourage her to give it a try next year.

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  6. There is something that bothers me about the idea of driving to a shop ride. Recently, I finally decided to get myself out of bed at 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday (You've gotta be crazy!) and do a ride with a local bike shop. The ride to the shop was only 6 miles and back, but then I enjoyed myself so much that I ended up doing the 50 miles ride with them. Total miles ... 62. My max had been 30 miles, so the last 15 miles or so under the hot Texas sun were painful. Next time, I'll try to turn around when I reach 15 or 20 miles, but I still won't drive.

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  7. I usually have to drive to our club rides. As a result because my body takes a long time to get loose, I ride with the slower riders for the first 5 miles or so.Of course at 60yo, I can handle the situation.But, it always seems that along the way I start catching and passing many of the members. I wonder if they appreciate the greeting.

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  8. I'm finding that one of the biggest obstacles to bigger miles lately has been the need to drive to rides.

    I'm really fortunate to have a job now where the schedule is flexible and where the boss and most of the other drones are riders and racers(nobody looks at you funny when you walk into the mens room wearing Levi's and 'Chucks and hobble out 5 minutes later in Rubbermaid shoes and Sci-Fi sausagewear), but to make it to the 5:15 rides I have to throw my $2,000 bike into my $500 truck and drive to the start. when it's over and I'm still feeling spinny I don't have the option of riding another 10 or 12 home because I have to get the dang truck back to the house. Ugh.

    I'm riding more group rides for various reasons and really enjoying the company and new routes but it does seem unfair that it makes me DRIVE MORE and ride less even though I'm getting out more regularly.

    The couple who lead a bunch of these things total about 30,000 miles a year between them(really), ride in all weathers and commute as far as 40 miles round trip for him. They roll up Minty fresh and smiling and I just want to be them. I love bikes and drive a truck.

    Although, a couple of years ago when I got talked into doing a Century on my fixedgear with a (bad)crowd of local guys(punks) half my age, I would have been pretty glad for the truck. After riding the 9 miles to the start and then blowing up 35 miles into the hundred(downhills on a fixie are fun for a while but it begins to feel like clinging to the top of a runaway threshing machine after a while)I had to limp miles back to the next checkpoint to "Officially" bail and then ride almost 20 miles home. A long horrible day when a little internal combustion would have been nice at the end.

    Riding to rides certainly increases your commitment and the universe rewards nothing quite as much as commitment.

    Spindizzy

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  9. The biggest problem riding one's bike to the start is allowing time for the detour to a leisurely coffee stop and the associated potty break.

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    1. We are lucky here to have a bicycle club with an actual club house (coffee, bathrooms, mechanical support) open at ungodly hours and located close to so many ride starts. But otherwise, yes that could be tough!

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  10. It takes me about 10 miles to really get warmed up too. But any ride within 10 miles of me is made up of folks who ride faster than I can ride. All the charity rides are 20-30 miles or more away. And I'd have to travel crappy non-bike-friendly streets to get to them.

    :(

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    1. This was the case for me, but I found it's actually not so bad to ride with the fast folks. They tend to have great bike handling skills and are safer to ride with than the charity ride crowds. Are there any non-drop club rides in your area?

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    2. Speaking of riding with the fast folks ... On this last shop ride I did there were these guys who belong to a cycling team. I was impressed by how fast they were on their carbon bikes, but the shoulder we rode on was covered with debris. I kept catching up with them and having to stop because they got several flats during the ride. I may ride a little bit slower on my heavy 25c Gatorback Hardshells (about 330g each), but at least I don't have to stop unless I hit a real nail.

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  11. I am fortunate to live in a place with bicycle friendly public transit. At first, I rode until I was tired, and then hopped on a train or a ferry or light rail or even a bus. Every long ride I took when I first (re)started riding was supported: my transit card was my sag wagon! I remember how risky the first longish ride I did with no easy transit bailout mid-ride felt.

    Now, I use public transit to extend my range: I can start 40 miles from home, and do a round trip somewhere new, then roll onto transit to come home. I own a car, but driving to a ride feels like cheating, while taking BART or a ferry to a ride feels very natural.

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    1. Commenters all seem to find the concept of driving to a ride unnatural; some are fortunately able to avoid it because of geography and/or public transit.

      Like Anon 2:25 AM, here in Boston we have a transit system that will get one out to the countryside without using a car when riding to the ride is too far. Local readers should study the commuter rail lines (which always take bikes in the off-peak direction, unlike the subway which has flat weekday 7-10 am/4-7 pm prohibitions).

      For example, Middleborough line takes one w/in 25 miles of Bourne Bridge to Cape Cod; Newburyport and Rockport lines bring one to exquisite North Shore destinations and within striking distance of NH and Maine coasts; and the other lines go to nice ex-urban places. I teach a course in Weston that I get to and then to my Boston office on a weekday partly by commuter rail - it's a delight NOT to use a car for this.

      Also, there are ferries from Boston to Salem, Hingham and Provincetown that will take bikes at any time.

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    2. When I wrote about it feeling unnatural to take the bike in a car, I did not mean it in an anti-car way; I am just literally not used to it. Instead of wearing everything I need and shoving things in my jersey pockets, with remote starts you need to pack a bag. I need a new SOP is all.

      Commuter Rail offers the best options around here for points North, I think. My dream would be to do a long CC tour all the way up the East Coast toward Canada. I would start by taking the commuter rail to the North Shore and go from there.

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  12. If you are riding to the ride, here is a way to carry your race wheels on the bike.
    http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/components/sprint-wheel-carriers.html

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  13. I'm finding that as I become capable of riding longer and longer distances, my warmup distances are also increasing. When I used to think that a 30 mile ride was long, it would take me 10 miles before I felt warmed up. Now, as I have started doing centuries, the warmup distance has increased almost proportionally to about 25 miles.

    I also define "warmed up" as that misleading feeling that your riding is effortless and you can keep going forever, the feeling that you're "in the zone" (of course it never lasts!).

    I too am thankful that we have that easy (if boring) direct conduit to the western 'burbs as a sort of warmup to longer rides, and for how it makes my rides feel more "grounded" to my home that I don't have to drive to the start.

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    1. For me the warm up mileage does not seem to change with longer rides. It remains about 10-20 miles and depends more on the weather and time of day than anything else it seems. What's changed for me is the "peak riding" window - getting longer over time.

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    2. Warmup time and distance gets longer with age. Then it gets to where you never know if you will get warmed up. However when you finally do get warm all of a sudden it feels like being young again. At age 60 warmup for me can be anywhere from 10 to 50 miles. The open window just as variable. The only trick is to go riding and see what happens and enjoy the ride regardless of outcome.

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    3. @Anon -- yes, exactly. At 55 years old, it takes me an hour to start to feel good, and at 60 miles I'm just hitting my stride.

      I have similarly become a happier climber, if not a better one, as I now have patience and craft which get me to the top, and which previously were lacking.

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  14. I too can't shake the feeling I've forgotten something when I put the bike in the car.

    This year I've converted from mountain biking to road, and I've found a great feeling of freedom just to set off from home and explore instead of loading the bike in the car first.

    My main challenge this year was to ride my first metric century. I found a local club event advertised as such but the map showed 59 miles, just short. So I rode to the start line to hit my target. I got a real feeling of satisfaction from doing it that way.

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  15. I think 10 miles would be the limit for me, for cycling to a ride start. Luckily I live just down the road in Arlington.

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  16. Reading these replies is kind of funny to me and strange but I guess the decision to drive or not drive is dependent on your region, I guess?

    Where I live, there really is no choice but to drive to these events as most, if not all, are much too far for me to ride to.

    I think that those who choose not to drive to an event are missing out and the whole point of the event.

    The point is to ride....and mingle....associate...network even? But the main point is to ride your bike.

    To me, letting a drive deter (dictate?) you from riding your bike in a place that you normally wouldn't or couldn't unless it was an organized event is well, disappointing really.

    Now if you live where events are close by; By all means then, ride.
    But for those who live in places where these events and rides are not close by, the choice is simple; Drive there and enjoy the ride, or stay home.

    I choose to ride.

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  17. I would definitely ride my bike to some of the group rides that happen here. There are usually at least 2 per week day! BUT all of them seem to start at either the same time I have to open the shop, or start half an hour before I close. And all of them are at least a 30-45 minute bike ride just to get there. :/ There is one ride that I can sometimes make it to, and only due to the generosity of a couple of friends who drive there that are willing to pick me and my bike up and haul us both to the ride. So not all hope is lost! :)

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  18. I stumbled across your blog while researching bullhorn handlebars. I'm liking it quite a bit. Cheers and keep riding!

    Noah
    Founder
    http://thepeopleofdetroit.com

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  19. May your bicycle always be loved, May your saddle caress you,May your brakes never fail you and may you stay forever young ! Apologys to Mr. Zimmerman.Back in the day ,riders used to carry a set of racing wheels , and changed at the race, the ride was a warm-up.Nice blog !

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  20. Get four or five cyclists together, rent a minivan or find one who has a minivan. Bring cyclists and bikes to start point. Unload and ride. Spread the costs.

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  21. I used to drive to club rides until it dawned on me that cycling was faster! It's only 5 miles and a great way to extend my workout.

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  22. This post reminded me of a ride I used to do. Half-mile to meet the guys, eleven miles to join up with the RRB Sunday ride, 60 miles with them, total 82 or 83 miles. Except for one guy in our club who rode 18 miles from the Southwest Side to join up with us, did all of the above, then rode home for a total of 118 miles. All on a Miyata One Ten. And he was fourteen years old. Needless to say Chris Washkevich went on to be a pro. Some in Boston may remember him as super-domestique to Roberto Gaggioli.

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