Battle of the Bulge

Well, as it always seems to now, summer has arrived in May in the Mid-Atlantic.  We opened the pool last weekend, and the water temperature is already pushing 80°.  By Sunday, it’ll likely be up to 82 or 83.  Amusingly enough, we had the cover off the pool at 9:30am and the kids were in the pool by 1:30pm..  a new record.  They didn’t stay in for too long, as the water was a little cool.  I have a feeling that that will change this weekend.  This year I was a little more proactive about keeping the pool chlorinated during early spring (the salt water generator really helps with that) so I didn’t have to do much cleanup, which helped to get the kids in the pool sooner.  I doubt they would have been as eager to jump into a green swamp.

I’ve had 4 extremely sweaty rides to and from work this week.  That’s par for the course around here in the summer, so I guess the sooner my body gets acclimated to it, the better.

The problems with the rear tire on my single speed bike just keep coming.  I went to ride it last week, and noticed a large bulge in the sidewall.  I deflated and re-inflated the tire, to no avail, so I pulled the tire off to see what was up.  It turns out there was a 1-inch patch where the rubber on the edge of the tire had separated from the wire bead, so the tire would no longer seat properly on the rim.  I’m guessing that I may have damaged the tire in my (fruitless) efforts to reinstall it after fixing a flat.  This weekend I’m going to take the tire back to the LBS and hope they’ll have mercy on me and exchange it, or at least give me a discount on a new one.  I’ve since acquired a “bead jack” tool that will get the tire on the rim without damaging the tire, the rim, my thumbs, or my blood pressure.

Bike to Work Day 2011

Today is “Bike to Work Day” in central Maryland, so I did what I do pretty much every other day:  I biked to work.  Unfortunately there are no BtWD “rallies” anywhere near where I commute, so I didn’t register for the event, nor did I attend a rally.  My hope is that eventually, this will get popular enough that there will be more rallies in convenient spots.

Here’s the route I took:  starting on Montgomery Rd near Elkridge Elementary School, I headed westbound, and turned right to stay on Montgomery at the intersection with Marshallee Dr.  I rode out past Rockburn Elementary and turned right onto Rockburn Dr.  At the end of Rockburn Dr., I took a right back onto Montgomery, right on Kerger, and right on Ilchester.  I passed Ilchester Elementary and OLPH Church, turned left onto Beechwood, right on Bonnie Branch, left on Ilchester, and then hung a right onto the Grist Mill Trail and into Patapsco State Park.  I followed the trail to the end where it turns into Glen Artney Rd, followed that to the end, turned right onto Gun Rd, left onto the park entrance road, exited the park, and turned left onto South St in Relay.  I followed that to South Rolling Rd, turned right on Francis Ave, left on Selford Rd, right on Sulphur Spring Rd, left on Shelbourne Rd, left on Poplar Ave, and into UMBC.  I take this route fairly often, maybe once a week or so.  I saw a grand total of zero other riders until I got into the park.  I saw two people riding through the park, and passed another going the opposite direction on Selford.  Grand total:  3 riders, 1 male, 2 female.   Of those, I knew one, and 2 were obviously commuting, and the third I couldn’t tell.  On a typical (non-Bike-to-work-day) morning, I’ll see one or 2 riders, so today was about par for the course.  Not overwhelming, but not too surprising either, given the lack of events in the area.  Too bad we’re not in Baltimore City, which sounds like it’s going to be bike central today.

Yay.. more crappy weather for Bike to Work Week

Next week is “Bike to Work Week” in Maryland, and the weather looks like a carbon copy of last year’s Bike to Work Week: rain as far as the eye can see.  With any luck, we’ll dry out by Friday, which is “Bike to Work Day.”  But unfortunately, it’s not the kind of weather that is going to inspire first-time bike commuters to hit the streets.

I’m not quite as enthused about “Bike to Work Day” this year as I was last, mainly due to the complete lack of rallies and events anywhere near me.  The Howard County rally is at Columbia Mall again, which is 10 miles in the opposite direction of work.  There’s one at Northrop Grumman, near BWI Airport, which could work for me if it wasn’t for employees only.  All of the Baltimore County events are north of the city, and the only AA County rally is in Annapolis.  I suppose I could organize a rally myself, but event planning is decidedly not my strong suit (although I’d be more than happy to get involved if someone were to step up to the plate).  I think an ideal location for a rally would be the BWI Airport business district (Airport Square), as there are a lot of office parks nearby, and the surrounding area is very bike friendly thanks to the trail that circles the airport.

Time Trial

I found myself in an uncommon situation this morning.  Normally I ride for about an hour to work each morning, taking various routes, and ultimately arriving at work between 8:30am and 9:00am.  It works out great because I typically don’t have meetings before 10am, which allows plenty of time to cool off, freshen up, change clothes, etc. after the ride.  Today, I had an 8:15am meeting at location a few miles from my office.  I had to get to my office by 7:30 to catch a shuttle bus to take me where I needed to go.  I left the house at 7:00am, took the most direct route to work possible, and went as fast as I could.  It ended up taking 27 minutes at an average of 16.6mph.  Not too bad given the hilly terrain, and the fact that I’m not race conditioned (or even anything resembling it).  It was a pretty nice ride, aided by the perfect mid-May weather.  Too bad it can’t be May or October all year long.

The ironic thing is that the site of the meeting was actually closer to my house than my office.  It’s actually right along one of my usual routes to work.  The problem is, I’m not really set up for commuting to anywhere but my office.  I don’t carry a lock regularly, and I store clean clothes and shoes in my office.  If I were to go directly to the meeting site, I’d need to carry a full change of clothes and a pair of shoes, find somewhere to change, and find somewhere safe to leave my bike, helmet, etc.  The logistics would be somewhat easier if I could commute in street clothes, but that’s kind of a non-starter for me because I just sweat too much.  So it ended up being easier to go to the office, change there, leave my bike there, and catch the shuttle bus.  It ended up working out OK, but I’m glad I don’t have to do it every day.

Long Road Home

I changed things up a bit for my ride home yesterday.  I typically mix my routes up on my commute to work in the morning, but for the ride home, I take the same route every day.  It’s relatively fast, traffic is not too bad, and it gets me home right around dinner time, so I’ve never seen much point in messing with it.  However, part of my route home involves crossing a small bridge which is slated for replacement in the near future, which I may need to route around if it’s closed during the construction.  I have 2 options for bypassing this bridge:  the short way, which includes a brief detour on U.S. 1, and the long way, where I ride all the way through Patapsco State Park, up Bonnie Branch Rd, up Beechwood Rd, then down Landing Rd and left on Montgomery Rd.  I tried the long way yesterday, to see how it was.  Beechwood Rd. is a steeper climb than Lawyers Hill Rd., and I was on my single speed bike, which made it quite a workout.  It’s still easier than the alternative of going straight up Ilchester Rd., though.  Landing Rd. in the eastbound direction is not a very pleasant ride.  The pavement condition leaves a lot to be desired, there’s no shoulder at all, and there’s lots of traffic that time of day.  All in all, an OK ride, but wouldn’t be my first choice of routes.  An alternative would be to bypass Beechwood Rd. and take Bonnie Branch all the way up to Montgomery, and ride home on Montgomery.  That adds several left turns to the route, though, and there’s even more traffic on Montgomery than on Landing, although Montgomery likely has better pavement and shoulders in that direction.  I’ll have to try it and see, but I don’t think it’ll be too much of an improvement.