Does this stuff happen to other people?

The other day I was riding to work. Pumping along. Nice and fast. I needed extra cooling, so I was riding with my mouth open. And then it happened.

This post is aiming to be a rant you see, and I feel that I need to write it in my best ranty style. It seems to me that rants should be a little disjointed, have short sentences, and beat on one or two points for no apparent reason. Anyway, back to the rantage…

So, I’m doing the right thing. The right thing! Riding to work! Exercise! Oh, did I mention the bad thing that happened yet? I guess not. A flying insect of some form (I’m not sure if it was a bee, wasp, or some strange American killer flying monster) flew into my mouth. My mouth! That thing I had open for extra cooling! Oh the humanity! Then, not surprisingly, it found that being in my mouth scared the shit out of it. I could have told it that would happen if it had asked, but no it didn’t. My mouth!

And then it stung me on the inside of my upper lip.

I figure that sentence deserves a paragraph to itself, it’s kind of the punch line after all.

I’ve never been stung before. Let alone in my mouth. My mouth! I was at the top of a hill, leading into a tunnel. I had to keep riding for a minute or so until it was safe to stop. Did I mention that this was after I had been stung. In the mouth? By a flying insect? My mouth! Anyway, I ended up pulling over at the Microsoft car park, and pulling the stinger out of the inside of my lip (that’s part of my mouth by the way). No help from any Microsoft employees of course. They were busy all planning the destruction of Google, and throwing chairs or something. I walked my bike to somewhere more obvious from the road, rang Catherine, and asked for rescue.

All the time I was thinking: my mouth! My mouth!

I’m running out of rant here. Sorry. I got to work in the end, having been rescued by Catherine and the boys. It took a few hours for the pain to mostly stop. Ice and anti-hystamines seemed to help. I was swollen for a day or so afterwards, and Matthew was convinced I was going to die. All the time I thought to myself: my mouth!

Oh, a little more rant. And then one of the guys from work has the hide to send me this cartoon this morning:

So, to summarise. I was riding to work, and got stung for the first time every by an insect. It was in my mouth and hurt a lot. Does this crap happen to other people, or just me?

Bike maintenance

I’ve been noticing that the ride to and from work has been becoming more and more effort. At first I thought it was just that I am getting slacker in my old age or something, but tonight on the way home I noticed that the rear tire was looking a little squooshed when I sat on the bike. I therefore gave in and performed some basic bike maintenance tonight — removed the 5mm of mud from the frame (pretty good given it hasn’t rained here in months), the general layer of dirt and grime on everything, and the grease buildup I get on the rear wheel which I assume is caused by the grease from the rear hub). I checked the tire pressure as well… It was a third of what it should have been, so hopefully I am staring down the barrel of a much lower rolling resistance.

Dirty wheel rims

It turns out that it basically doesn’t rain in California in the summer (or so I am assured by the people at work), so now that the weather is nice again I have been riding to work at lot more. I am suffering from a problem I hadn’t considered though, mainly because I normally only ride on paved surfaces.

About 10% of my work commute is across a car park with dirt roads, and they are producing a lot of dust. Apart from making the bike dirty (which isn’t so bad), the wheel rims are being coated in enough dust for there to be noticeable abrasion noises when I brake after the dirt road stretch of my ride.

This must be a common problem for mountain bikes, so, what should I do about it? I imagine that at worst it’s shortening the life of my rims marginally, but I’m not massively concerned as my current rims are cheap ones anyway. Apart from wiping the rims down each evening, is there anything else I can and should be doing?

Modified bike commute down L’avineda Street

I tweaked the bike commute this morning, and in return for spending the same amount of time on roads as before (but much busier roads), I pretty much cut the commute in half. It’s a bit of a shame really, because it no longer feels like a real ride because it’s too short. Now I need to decide if I go the long way or the short way.

Rode to work, and lived

It’s been a couple of weeks since I have ridden to work. First I had a sore back, then the bike needed a service, and then it rained a lot. This was also my first ride with cleated pedals, which was very exciting.

These two factors resulted in my slowest ride to work yet, but I didn’t crash and am a little more confident with the cleats now, which has to be a good thing.

My first commuting crash

And gosh it was stupid. I was riding home last night, and suddenly I notice my shoe lace on the left hand side getting tighter, and tighter. I stop the bike ok, because if figure the shoe lace is trapped in some of the twirly bits of the bike (it was wrapped around the crank in fact, caught in between the pedal and the crank). How do you get off a bike though when one foot is stuck to the pedal? Well, my answer was to fall over.

So, I’m not hurt, but I guess that counts as a crash. I suspect it’s time for bike shoes without laces.

New tyres

I ended up getting new tyres for the bike… I thought about getting airless tyres, but in the end just got random tyres from Mike’s Bikes who came highly recommended on a mailing list at work, and seemed really nice.

I got Specialised tyres randomly, and they’re really good. I can’t remember their name now (I’ll look it up later), but they have a tall center section which makes them look and act like road tyres on hard surfaces, and a knobbly bit on the outer edges for loose surfaces. Overall, lower rolling resistance on the hard stuff, and they gripped really well on the soft.

I like them a lot.

Update: So, the tyres are Specialized 06 Crossroads, or at least that’s what the packaging says.

Water, wheels, tyres (tires?) and computers

Random updates on cycling…

Water: apparently water is wet. Specifically, I hadn’t realised how wet fog was until I rode to work yesterday… Visibility was down to about 150 meters, and I ended up having to take my glasses off to ride so that I could see where I was going. When I got to work there was water beading on my eyelashes. Today it rained just before I rode to work (but not during the ride thankfully), which was more the water I am used to.

Wheels and tyres: which brings me onto wheels and tyres. I have basically bald tyres on the mountain bike. I suspect that the current tyres, which came with the bike, are very soft rubber. They only lasted about 1,500 km which I suspect is a bit low. I’m thinking that it’s time to get new tyres so I can actually stop in the wet, but I need some advice… Here’s what I need in tyres:

  • Good wet weather performance on hard surfaces like concrete
  • Ok performance on sand / very fine gravel (10% of my commute is on such a surface)
  • Not too knobbly, as I am riding mainly on those hard surfaces
  • Cheapish, around the $30 USD per tyre point?

Any recommendations people? I also suspect my front wheel is slightly out of true. Is that the sort of thing I should do before getting new tyres fitted?

Computers: finally, I think I want a computer which doesn’t need adjustment every time I put my front wheel on (once a day basically) so that it lines up properly. Backlight would also be ok. I can get a “wireless” computer with backlight from Amazon for about $30 USD… Is the wirelessness of it going to suck? I assume it means a lot more batteries to change.

Do I look sexy in these?

After years of resisting Lycra, I’ve given in and bought my first pair of bike shorts. I know I can get pairs that look like real shorts, but I figured that given the reason that I wanted to change was because of fabric rubbing, I should go with something which isn’t likely to move around on me when I ride.

I’ve now done the morning commute, and they were certainly more comfortable than normal shorts… Although the padding does take a little bit of getting used to. No rubbing though, which was nice.

The big question though — do I look sexy in these? Oh, and how come bike clothing is all so expensive?