Labor Day weekend is looming, the kids are back in school, the traffic is back in the mornings, and multiple tropical systems are swirling around the Atlantic. Must be the end of August. This time last year, we had just survived Hurricane Irene, and were bracing for Tropical Storm Lee. Hopefully, September 2012 will be less exciting.
The dog days of summer weren’t particularly kind to my riding this year, as they have been in years past; but I did manage to finish August up with 14 rides. If the weather cooperates, September can be a pretty good riding month, so we’ll see how that works out. I’ve got a couple of business trips coming up in October that will likely cut into my ride totals that month. My original goal of 180 rides this year is looking less likely, but that’s OK. I am trying to get a little less goal-oriented about my riding, particularly as I’m cutting back on it a bit (at least distance, if not frequency) to do some running and other cross-training.
With all the extra school traffic now, I’m once again steering clear of Montgomery Road in the mornings. Today, I cut through CCBC Catonsville again, the same route I took on April 20 and one or two other times since then. It’s still a good route, but boy is it hilly. Actually, most of my rides that avoid Montgomery Rd seem to be hilly. It’s just the price you pay to stay out of traffic, I guess.
You’d think after 4 years of bike commuting, I’d have seen every bike malfunction possible. But today on the way in to work, my chain snapped. That was a first. As Murphy’s Law would dictate, it happened while I was crossing an intersection in traffic, going uphill, trying to make a left turn. At first I thought the chain had just fallen off the small chainring, but upon stopping, I found that one of the links had broken in half. Only one side of the link broke, and the other side was a little bent from being pulled apart, so I’m wondering if it actually broke earlier, held together for awhile, and just decided to pull apart the first time I pedaled hard on it. I’ll never know. Fortunately, the multi-tool I carry with me includes a chain tool, so I was able to take out the bad link, put the chain back together, and ride the rest of the way to work. The bike doesn’t shift as well with the shortened chain, though. I’ll be hitting the bike shop soon, hopefully tonight, to pick up a new chain. The funny thing is, earlier in the ride, I was thinking about how it was about time to replace the chain anyhow. It had over 1000 miles on it and had started to stretch out a bit. Well, I guess today kind of seals that deal.
I’m easing back into biking regularly after taking most of July off to rest my hip. It’s still not 100%, but it’s manageable. I honestly don’t think the time off the bike made much of a difference. The soreness is in the front part of my left hip, and it happens on downward pedal strokes, as the hip is extending. Lowering my seat a bit made a huge difference with this. If the seat is too high, I get discomfort almost immediately. With the seat lower, it seems to put less stress on the hip joint. Occasionally it will bother me when I’m at rest, i.e. sitting at my desk or lying in bed; when this happens, a heating pad helps to relieve it. I’m pretty sure I caused the injury riding fixed gear with my saddle too high. It’s looking like my fixed gear riding days may be over. All you 20-something hipsters out there, enjoy it while it lasts. 🙂
On a positive note, the downtime from biking has allowed me to rediscover running. After about 6 weeks, I’m to the point where I can run around 2 miles, barefoot or with minimalist running shoes, 2 to 3 times a week. I’m hoping to be up to around a 5K distance by the end of the year. This time of year, I have to run in the morning, so on days I plan to run, I’ve cut back on my morning biking mileage so I can get to work earlier and run. This has worked out really well. The reduced biking has helped with my hip, and the running works different leg muscles (calves in particular) that don’t see much action on the bike. I’m hoping I can keep it up over the long term.