biking


Given my (increasingly distant) past of pedaling 6,000 miles-plus a year, I  had a totally doable resolution for 2015 last January: bike 2,015 miles. As of today I’ve logged… 38.39 miles. To put that in perspective, the last time I placed ass to saddle was January 6.

That few number of miles and that amount of time between rides is essentially criminal to me. To call it embarrassing is an understatement, but it’s not without a reason.

Fast-backward with me to December 2012. I was hip deep in my academy training Rio Hondo College. Lean and mean. Under 200 pounds. Going on four mile runs like they were walks around the block. At the same time the Glendale Trail Patrol for which I’d volunteered was about to have its official debut so I added in mountain biking to the physical activity equation via a series of practice rides in the Verdugos. I was thrilling myself making it all the way up the Brand Motorway from Brand Park without stopping.

SciaticaIt was at some point then that I tweaked my sciatic nerve, and I’m guessing it was from the sudden uptick of hard trail riding I was doing on a bike I hadn’t been on in awhile and whose geometry was far different from my street bike — and maybe aided by all the running, too. At least that’s the best explanation I could come up with.

Here’s the thing though, I didn’t notice the tweak until returning to the academy after a holiday break and getting back into physical training. There wasn’t actual pain so much as a deadness to my left leg. Running around the track it was like the foot was asleep and it took a concerted effort to minimize the amount of flopping around the foot would do as I’d run.

Quite disconcerting, to say the least.

I remember breaking off from a run and reporting the weird sensation to my training officer and he very gruffly thought I was using it as an excuse. “You either get it examined by a doctor and bring a medical diagnosis or you get your ass back on the track,” was the gist of his response.

Sir, yes sir. I got my ass back on the track.

Long story short, it got worse before it got better, leaving me fearing for a brief spell that I might have to withdraw from the academy. Not that such a thing was going to happen even if my leg fell off, but thankfully the numbness plateaued and was manageable going forward (and yes, that’s my excuse as to why I’ve never sought actual treatment for it from on o’ them medical perfeshunalz).

But a side effect was that I reeeeeeally minimized the mountain biking — and the road riding, too, to the point of quitting by attrition the Glendale Trail Patrol. I did jumpstart things by embarking on a “50 rides in 50 Days” crusade in the summer of 2014, but roughly six rides in that horrid dead-foot/leg sensation returned and I jumped off the bikes as quickly as I jumped on them. It didn’t help that I was no longer sub-200 pounds and/or not in the best condition of my life.

Then at the close of 2014, itching to ride and my leg feeling better I decided I could no longer stay away from my favorite way of commuting and exploring the city, and made that resolution.

Two commutes in, 38.39 total miles, it came back. Ultimately manageable as ever, but also as maddening as hell.

This past weekend I decided that maybe my 15-year-old 24-speed road bike might be the solution. Perhaps it was time to quit single-speed biking all over town as I’d proudly done these last nine years and instead retire to enjoy the luxury of being able to downshift on uphills rather than just grrrrrrrind it out and thus potentially anger the nerve. So Sunday I pulled my dust-covered  Giant OCR-3 roadster off the garage rack where it’s hung untouched for at least three years thinking I’d dust her off, tune her up and ride her to work Monday… only to find the front derailleur hanger that attaches to the seat tube had inexplicably cracked in half leaving the derailleur dangling and the bike unrideable.

Fortunately I found a bike website that sells replacement hangers and it’s been ordered, hopefully to arrive this weekend wherein I can install it and go for a test run around the neighborhood making sure everything is in working order — both bike and nerve. Fingers crossed.

 

 

I’m digging this hyper realtime alternative to timelapsing. My third and fourth rides of 2015 — the morning commute to work of approximately 8.5 miles and the dusk-to-dark ride home of 10.6 miles– seen at approximately ten times normal speed.

Agggh, my tiring old GoPro. It’s got a mind of its own. Instead of timelapsing my January 2, 2015, bike commute home it video’d it in real time. But rather than find away to bore everyone entirely to death with an upload of the entire uneventful 54-minute journey across town, I found a way to show you something a little different by speeding the clip up ten times faster from start to finish — a true hyperlapse. It still might bore you to tears, but at 5:45 in length, at least it will do so in a tenth of the time the original would.

Be it hereby resolved I will ride 2,015 miles in 2015 and it began with this standard south-and-west bike commute of 8.43 miles primarily on Hoover Street and Jefferson Boulevard from home to work.

I typically resolve not to do anything on New Year’s Day except eat, drink and watch some college football bowl games. I was successful in all three endeavors yesterday (though left despondent in defeat with the latter, watching them northern boys from up there in O-Hai-uh beat up on my beloved Crimson Tide in last night’s national championship semifinal (Good luck with Oregon, ya Buckeyes).

But as usual, I digress. My point was supposed to be that I’m not beyond the reach of resolutioning, I’m just predisposed to waiting a day to get that party started. Or nine.

This year it was a day. My resolution? To log a total of 2,015 miles on my bike this year, part of a grand fitness scheme to reverse the silly amount of weight I’ve gained in roughly the year-and-a-half since I graduated Rio Hondo Academy (I still haven’t gotten on a scale because I haven’t steeled myself for whatever that reality is; but I don’t really need a specific number to know it’s long past the time to reverse that course). Almost two years ago going into the last module of that training, at 198 pounds I was at the best fitness level I’d been ever. I could go into the backyard and do 10 sets of circuit training (20 push-ups, 30 sit-ups, 100-revs jump rope, 10-band-assisted pull-ups, 15 TRX strap body-lifts) in 45 minutes. I would go for four-mile runs around the Silver Lake Reservoir because anything less would be uncivilized. I would bike to Whittier on Saturdays, put in a full strenuous stress-laden day at the academy and then bike home.

Those days are gone my friends and I’m now – unofficially – waaaaaay greater a shadow of that former fit and trim self.

But enough of the pity party and back to the biking. In the past, I’ve made vows to “ride every day” or for a consecutive number of days, but I always fail at that. Because inevitably one night early on I’d grumble procrastinatorily and end up doing some meaningless half-mile ride around the block at 9 p.m. just to keep the streak alive. Afterward I’d be all: Enough. It’s bull taking something as fun as riding a bike and turning it into an obligatory chore.

So this year, it’s simply a totally doable milestone of 2,015 miles pedaled over the course of 2015. And it started this morning. I woke up still heartbroken over last night’s Alabama loss and I felt that lingering depression working its way up to being an excuse to drive to work rather than get out and roll through the cold morning, but I shut that devil down and rode my standard south-and-west morning commute, which according to my Cyclometer app is 8.43 miles.

Only 2,006.57 to go.

Bonus:  Since I’ll be documenting each and every ride with my handlebar cam I’m also aiming to showcase something interesting that it captures along the way, “interesting” being relative and subjective, of course. Here’s today’s snap shot at Jefferson Boulevard and Western Avenue. The guy leaning against the post at right caught my eye, especially that he’s not focused on a smartphone but rather old schooling his intent on what he’s writing with a pen upon paper. You don’t see much of that anymore (click to enlargify):

Word

And the streak of consecutive days riding my bike endeth at 5 — faaaaar short of the 50 I’d hoped for. The following reasons are ALL excuses why I didn’t ride yesterday: a super early start to the day (had to be at the office at 6AM); driving (more like crawling) to Santa Monica’s REI and home after work to pick up the kayaks; voting; two glasses of wine with dinner.

Oh well, let’s try for 49 out of 50.

One/tenth down, 9/10ths to go! Getting a lowly tenth of the way toward my goal of 50 rides in 50 days was achieved with these commutes to and from work:

Next Page »