Disabled List

2011 has been a bad year for me in the injury department.  A couple of Saturdays ago, I messed up my ankle during a home improvement project (I should know better by now — it’s physically impossible for me to get through any home improvement project without some kind of injury.  Maybe that’s why I’m doing less and less of it these days).  It’s just a contusion (no sprain or anything), and 20 years or so ago it probably would have been back to 100% after a couple weeks.  But being that I’m 40ish now, everything takes longer to heal.  I hate getting old.  But anyhow, I’m icing it and trying to keep weight off it, which means curtailing my walking for now.  Walking isn’t too bad, but I’m definitely favoring the bad side.  At home, I hobble around on crutches.  Standing is uncomfortable, as is sitting, unless I keep the ankle elevated.  I’ve experimented with an ankle brace, but can’t decide if it’s helping it or irritating it.  Ice and Ibuprofen both provide some relief.

The good news is, I seem to be OK with non-weight-bearing exercise.  I have no discomfort either biking or swimming, so I’m keeping up with both of those activities (though I’ve dialed the biking back — 3 days this week instead of 5 — just to be on the safe side).  I’ve been a little slower than usual on the bike this week, but that’s as much due to this summer’s endless, relentless heat than anything else.

Here’s hoping for an injury-free 2012.  Maybe the daily highs will be out of the 90s by then…

Today’s temperature: 60°F

OK.. Wishful thinking.  This is summer in Maryland, so 60°C is probably more like it.  But I keep a log of all my bike commutes, and as part of that, I always record the ride-time temperature.  After this past Friday’s ride, my average ride-time temperature topped 60°F for the first time in 2011.  It seems surprising that it would take until mid-July for that to happen.  I’m curious to see what the average will be over an entire year.  Both 2009 and 2010 ended up averaging around 58°-59°, but in both cases, I neglected to record the temperature for a significant number of rides, primarily during summer.  That leads me to believe that a typical yearly average is probably somewhere north of 60°.  That’s higher than the climatological average for the area, which makes sense, because overall, I tend to ride more frequently in warmer months than in colder months.

Anyhow, this is going to be a short riding week, because I’m heading to Milwaukee on Wednesday for a well-timed business trip.  I say “well-timed” because we have yet another miserable heat wave headed this way.  It’s going to be hot in Milwaukee too, but not as hot as here.  And I likely won’t miss out on the tail end of the heat wave either, as I’ll be back Friday night.  But, it’ll spare me from a couple of days of biking in likely triple-digit heat indices, almost certainly accompanied by “code orange” air quality, or worse.  Yay summer.  Just 7 weeks ’til Labor Day!

Planet Bike FTW

Well, it happened.  I rode my fender-less road bike to work today, and now it’s raining.  So much for my theory that “30% chance of storms after 3:00” means it isn’t going to rain near Baltimore until evening.

I have a set of Planet Bike “SpeedEZ” fenders for this bike, because full fenders don’t really fit it.  But I don’t like riding around with the fenders all the time, because they rattle, tend to get knocked out of alignment easily, etc. and most of the time I don’t need them, because this is my fair-weather bike.  But, they’d be perfect in a situation like this, where it was bone dry during my morning ride, but figures to be wet for my ride home in a couple hours.  I could keep the fenders in my office, and put them on when I need them.  The problem is, the fenders are missing a couple of parts.  I’ve been meaning to seek out replacements, but didn’t feel like running around to various bike shops trying to track them down, and didn’t feel like paying exorbitant shipping rates to order a couple of small parts off the Internet.  Today’s weather finally inspired me to check out Planet Bike’s web site to look for parts.  To my surprise, replacement parts were available there for cheap, with free shipping to boot!  I ordered what I needed, plus some extras “just in case”, and I am an extremely happy customer now.

This experience inspired me to also contact Topeak customer support, to ask about getting a replacement bungee tie-down cord for my “beam rack” MTX, which I lost a couple months back and have missed ever since.  We’ll see how that endeavor goes.

In any case, it’ll be nice to have those fenders back in service, and available on days like today.

8000 Miles

I hit 8000 miles on my road bike at the beginning of yesterday afternoon’s ride.  I was coasting down through the UMBC campus in the 92-degree heat, on my way to Poplar Ave.  That’s part of my usual strategy for beating the heat on hot summer afternoons.  The two keys are:  take it easy, and drink lots of water.  Coasting down hills is one of the easiest things you can do to stay cool.  In general, it’s best to keep pedaling, but extreme heat is one of the exceptions to that rule.  Coasting gives you a breather, and the air movement helps cool you off.  In the heat, you also want to think holistically; in other words, take the entire ride into consideration when planning how hard to exert.  My ride home consists of rolling hills for most of the way, followed by a 1.5-mile uphill grind.  I have to be careful not to overexert at the beginning of the ride, or I will overheat and run out of gas on the final climb.

I ride like this when it’s 90° or more out, and also during Maryland’s trademark “code orange” bad air quality days, which lately seem to happen almost every day (though we seem to have gotten a reprieve today).  Paradoxically, on really hot days, I often arrive home less sweaty than I would on a slightly cooler day, because I tend to go faster and push harder when it’s below 90 out.

The road bike is still seeing the lion’s share of my riding this summer.  It’s my go-to bike when it’s hot and dry out.  This fall it’ll likely need new tires and maybe a new chain.  Also, I’m starting to see silver peeking through in a couple spots on the handlebars, so I may need to re-wrap them soon.  Tire-wise, I’ve been pretty happy with the Continental GatorSkins I’ve been running on this bike, so I’ll likely go with another pair, though I’ll probably up-size from a 700cx23 to 700cx25.