Back on the Saddle

Until today, I hadn’t ridden my bike for exactly a month, due to some broken spokes, and a two-week trip to Europe.

I finally got my spokes fixed the other day, and today I made my first lengthy trek on the bike. I set my goal at 20 miles—a little low—since I hadn’t ridden in so long. I made it, and even made pretty good time. It was a bit painful, as expected, though. Here’s my stats:

  • Distance: 20.3 miles
  • Avg. Speed: 10.4 mph
  • Max. Speed: 21.3 mph
  • Time Taken: 1h 57m

I tried some of those energy gels, they’re not bad. It’s hard to tell if they gave me a boost, but I’m leaning towards yes. I’ll try them a few more times and see if it helps at all.

I also acquired a chain cleaner while I was out, and now my chain and everything is spiffy clean!

REI Saratoga Incompetent?

I bought my bike from REI Saratoga about 5 months ago in May, 2005. Within the first two weeks, the left pedal fell off the crank arm, having apparently not been tightened properly. I took it back and they replaced the crank arms and pedals under warranty (since they had been rounded off a bit as well).

A few months later, I had three broken spokes in the back wheel due to mis-tensioning. I brought the bike back to REI again, and they fixed it under warranty again. When I got it back, they had put the back tire on backwards, and didn’t inflate the tires properly. I brought it in at 75psi each, and they inflated to 45psi. The tires are stamped and rated at 65-85psi.

This morning, as I was riding into work, three more spokes in the rear broke. LAME. I’m not riding off road, I’m riding on the road, not hitting potholes, not abusing the bike at all.

I am not taking the bike back to REI for any more repairs. I’ll be visiting a real bike shop to get these spokes repaired, and get a general tune-up. If something actually broke while I was riding in traffic, I’d be screwed. I’m not comfortable putting my life in REI’s hands anymore.

Borregas Bridges Public Meeting

I attended a public meeting in Sunnyvale tonight about the Borregas Avenue Bike and Pedestrian Bridges project. The project involves building two bicycle and pedestrian bridges to connect Borregas Avenue: one over Highway 101, and one over State Route 237. This would provide for a much safer North-South corridor through Sunnyvale for bicycles and pedestrians, and would connect the neighborhoods on the respective sides of each highway with each other.

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Both ways!

I biked to work this morning… not too bad time:

  • Distance: 13.3 miles
  • Avg. Speed: 10.1 mph
  • Max. Speed: 30.4 mph
  • Time Taken: 1h 20m

When I left in the afternoon, I missed the light rail by like 30 seconds… again. I figured.. screw it, I’ll just ride home. I made it! A little slower:

  • Distance: 13.2 miles
  • Avg. Speed: 9.4 mph
  • Max. Speed: 20.6 mph
  • Time Taken: 1h 23m

My totals for today:

  • Distance: 26.5 miles
  • Avg. Speed: 9.7 mph
  • Max. Speed: 30.4 mph
  • Time Taken: 2h 43m

I’ve reached my goal now, though. What should my new goal be?!

Biking with a GPS

When I’m out biking, I almost always bring my GPS. It makes life so much easier… I can always tell where I am, at least relative to home. In addition, one of the best features is that I get real-time statistics about my ride, such as current speed, average speed, maximum speed, and trip odometer. As a bonus, you also get your current position as latitude and longitude (not too useful on a bike), elevation (very useful), sunrise and sunset times relative to your position (don’t stay out too late!), and a “compass”1.

I use the Garmin eTrex Basic with the bicycle mount accessory. Pros: It’s waterproof, has good battery life, plenty of features for biking, and is relatively cheap. Cons: It doesn’t have a pause button2. If you use multi-mode transit (e.g. bike-train-bike) it’s difficult to get statistics for only the bike portion.

1  Not really a compass, it’s not magnetic. You have to be moving for it to be useful.

2  Does any GPS have a pause button? Leave a comment if you know of one…