Friday, December 27, 2013

Another Cherry Blossom Run...

T-minus 100 days until the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run...

Tonight I went on my first run in about two years. It was pretty cold, somewhere in the low 30s. My plan was to jog until my heart rate hit 160, walk till it got below 130, rinse and repeat. I also brought "The Stick" in case my legs tightened up -- which they did after the third running session. I spent a couple minutes on my calves, and by then my pulse was down below 130 so I set off again.

I felt good. My calves were feeling better and my form was much better. I found myself picking up the pace. My pulse quickly hit 160, but I didn't care. I was going to push this one. 165, 170, 175, and I showed no signs of stopping. I was breathing hard, sprinting ahead, holding the Stick in my right hand like it was a baton and I was on the last leg of a relay race.

I crossed 180. Usually I'd pull back around now, but tonight I didn't want to. Before the run, I had estimated that my max heart rate was about 186 -- and I wanted to see if that was true. 182, 184, 186... 187! I held it there for a couple more seconds, before I felt my body pulling back. 187 -- the hardest I'd pushed things in years.* I walked the quarter mile back to my apartment, tired yet energized all at once.

100 days to go.

*Even when biking 13 miles to work, I never got my pulse that high; the highest I usually pushed it was into the mid-170s. There was one time a month or two ago, however, when I decided to sprint up the entire Dupont Circle escalator. I wasn't wearing a heart rate monitor, but I probably got very close to 187 that day too.

**If you click through to the web site, you may notice my pace was pitifully slow. This is normal.  Anyway I am just working on conditioning right now. Speed will come...... eventually.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Still Waiting...

Well, one month has come and gone. Actually it's been more like 7 weeks since I ordered the Brompton from BicycleSPACE, and they said it would be here by the end of April, but it is now pretty close to the middle of May and they are just as clueless as I am. "Brompton told us they shipped it... at this point it's probably hung up in Customs... we don't know if it got stuck in Customs though until the boxes arrive and they're covered with stickers..."

The Brompton has been showing up in my dreams. That's how badly my subconscious wants it. In last night's dream, I had just returned from a choir trip and I decided to head by BicycleSPACE to store my regular sized bike there while I walked around. That's when they told me that, as it happened, the Bromptons had just arrived that morning! "ARE YOU F'ING KIDDING ME?" said I. They asked if I wanted to come to the store room and unbox them. YES.

Then, in a bit of dream logic, we ended up playing basketball in an attached gym. I kept slipping on the floor because I was only wearing socks. Then I woke up without seeing my new bike.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

One Month and Counting...

I've ordered a Brompton. It's a folding bicycle, and it's going to change my life. And yes, I am a wee bit obsessed.  But I hear that's what happens to people once they stumble onto these things, realize what they are, and what they can do, and how they can make everything so much easier.

For the uninitiated, Bromptons are full-sized bikes made in the UK that can fold up in about 10-15 seconds to a package a little less than 2 feet by 2 feet by 10 inches. This puts them neatly into the "carry on luggage" category, and as such they are allowed on the Metro during rush hour. I can't tell you how many times I've planned to ride to work in the morning, but when I wake up I'm too tired, so I just Metro in instead. And because my current bike is full-sized, I can't take it onto the Metro with me until after 10 a.m., which is too late. So I'm left for the day without a bike, and thus unable to bike BACK home, and so I have gone the whole day without a nice long bike ride, which is bad for my waistline and my attitude. I need that ride -- it centers me.

After reading a ton about them online, I went to go see them in person at Bicycle Space. I took a few test rides around the block with various models, and found my favorite -- an "H6R," meaning it's a six-speed high handlebar model with a rear rack.

Here, I tried to capture my excitement.

The store let me borrow a demo model and use it for a couple days. It was pretty awesome! I was able to:

Bike to the Silver Spring metro station in 3 minutes -- shaving 7 minutes off my normal walk -- and keep it next to me during rush hour!

Bring it inside and put it under my table at Starbucks!

Ride 13 miles home on the Capital Crescent Trail!

About the only thing I didn't like about it was the stock saddle, which is fine for a couple miles in the city, but frankly is pretty uncomfortable after a 13 mile ride. It was so bad that even with all the Brompton's merits, I wasn't sure if I wanted to go through with it. That is, until I went back to the store and tried one with a different saddle, the Brooks B17. Here's my final test ride:

The B17 rocked. It's a pricy upgrade but it's worth it.

So, I placed my order for the H6R with a Brooks saddle, using the extended seatpost (for taller chaps), and I also picked up a C-Bag which will sit on the front luggage block. Here's a mock-up of my new bike, complete with some Go Blue Cheer!

It's a custom bike, so they have to make it from scratch, and it's scheduled to get here in ONE MONTH. I cannot wait, and every day I notice times when having my Brompton would be so convenient. For instance, I had biked to rehearsal on my full-sized bike, and I was pretty tired and wanted to just metro home. But because it was 5 pm, aka "Peak of the Peak," there was no way a Metro worker would let me take my bike on the train. For that I'd have to wait until 7 pm. So I ended up, in my exhausted state, biking uphill 7 miles to get home. Yeah, it was my exercise for the day, but I'd really rather have had the option to Metro. With my folding bike I'll be able to!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Waiting for Spring

I told myself I would be the kind of bike commuter who rides to work during the winter months. I knew it would be cold, but I prepared with lots of gear. I went on an Amazon shopping spree for gloves and balaclavas and toe warmers and everything. I was ready. Yet I didn't anticipate just how cold it gets, just how dark it would be, just how difficult the weather would be. Snow, I could deal with. But DC hasn't gotten a lot of snow this year; instead we get cold, icy rain. There is NOTHING worse than icy rain -- not only is it super uncomfortable, it's also slippery (as my skinned arm and ripped cycling jacket can attest to). And the wind! It turns out 20 mph steady winds are doable, but those gusts of up to 35 mph are not, especially when it's 30 degrees outside.

I've barely ridden 20 miles this month.

I long for Spring. As the days slowly inch toward warmth, as the sun stays out slightly longer each day, I realize that we're just a few weeks away. Soon temperatures in the morning will be around 50 degrees, which is so comfortable for biking. Anything greater is just icing on the cake. I won't have to wear gloves anymore, and my outer layer can get ever lighter until one day, a few months from now, it will be 90 degrees and the breeze on the bike will provide sweet, sweet relief.