The things you see on a bike…

Thought I’d give some of you out there (all 3 of you) a picture of what you see while out on a bike ride. Or at least what I’ve seen.

Animals: Cats, dogs, dogs that chase you (big and small), squirrels, lots of birds (hawks and owls are cool), turkeys, quail, raccoons (in the city), cows (dairy and otherwise), horses, etc.  The strangest was the racoon that I saw early one morning crossing Franklin Blvd. in South Sac.  Big guy, ran from left to right and climbed a fence as well as any cat. And just the other day I was out by the Stone Lake Wildlife area taking a break and watching ducks fly around when a goose came by and the size difference was similar to a big 747 landing alongside a Cessna.  These are BIG birds.

Dead things: mostly road kill of the rabbit, bird, skunk, dog, cat, rat, possum, snake, variety.  I think I saw a muskrat the other day too. Fortunately none of the human variety.

People:  all kinds, shapes, sizes.  Homeless guy at 5:45am walking around in the street with a cart piled high with cans; people holding signs; moms walking kids; kids walking to/from school (love this actually, better than getting picked up all the time); farmers running cattle through pens; UPS/FedEx guy; runners/walkers/bike riders; gym members getting a very early workout; coffee drinkers.  Lots and lots to see on a bike, as long as you’re paying attention to the road and cars too.

Smells: hmmm.  Let’s start with dairy smells.  When you’re in a car, it goes by fast.  On a bike, not so much.  And normally you have to go by twice, coming and going.  Campbells Soup has a plant in South Sac (closing soon) that would stink with tomato soup, which I can’t stand. Last week I’m pretty sure I got a contact high from all of the folks smoking pot in their cars on my way home. More than usual it seemed.  Fresh cut grass/hay/crops are great, the pollen in them not so much.

And the best:  Sunrise/sunsets if you’re so lucky to see them on a bike.  Add in a moon rise/set and it’s really pretty cool.

Have a great weekend ya’ll.

1st Bike Commute of the Year- An Essay…

Well, that was quite the eventful first ride to work of the year yesterday.  Last year I bought this road bike so that I could save some money and ride to work, getting exercise, save gas and produce less CO2.  Or, if you are this guy, perhaps you think I’m actually hurting the environment by breathing too much.  Whatever.

So, hopped on the bike around 5:20, trying to get out in front of the 5:45 rush down Franklin Blvd. through South Sac.  And I didn’t feel like rushing on the first run of the year.  It’s dark, I’ve got a head lamp on my helmet, a flashing light on the bike pointed forward and then also a red light on the back of the bike.  Whatever it takes to make sure people in cars, and the occasional homeless guy walking in the street with his cart, can see me.  I’ve also purchased a bright yellow vest this year, keeps the wind off my chest and makes me even more visible, day and night.  Safety first, you know.

That being said, over the past year, I’ve ridden close to 1500 miles, about 45 days of riding to work @22 miles round trip.  I’ve been close to cars in the past but nobody has really almost hit me.  Until this morning.  In a residential area, cruising along with all of my bright shiny lightness and yellow clothing, some bozo rolls up to a stop on my right (I’ve got no stop sign here, it’s a T intersection).  Dude slows, stops and while I’m coasting and watching him, it looks like he’s going to stay put.  I keep going and he pulls out.  This is the exciting part, dontcha know.  I’m braking, trying to pick a good spot on his front left fender to hit and starting to skid when he finally stops.  Fortunately, I was able to stay upright and not have to click out of my pedals, rode around in front of him and kept on going.  Needless to say, I was fully awake at that point.

So, lesson is, assume that they don’t see you unless you can look right at them in the eye.  Which I knew already but it really looked like this guy was stopped completely and letting me go by.  It was good to know that I can still handle a bike like when I was a kid, rather than just riding straight down the street.

More to come.  Feels really good to get back on the bike and ride to work, even at 40 degrees. And the contact high I got on the way home from all of the dudes smoking Skunk in their cars helped I’m sure.

Next post should probably be about all of the strange stuff I’ve seen in the morning/afternoon riding along….

My Triathlon training update

So, still need to sign up for it but I’m going to do the Fathers Day Sprint.  Kinda short but that’s fine.  400 yard swim, 8 mile bike and 2 mile run and then I’ll know if I want to do the longer one a month later.  But that might be the max because as I’ve been doing some training, I’m learning that my body is not really happy about this running stuff.  The swimming has been easier so far, what little I’ve done.

Which leads me to a discussion on newbie swimming.  Knowing that I have zero real experience in swimming over distance and that, compared to running (been doing that a while) and riding a bike (same), swimming has some techniques that can make you more efficient.  I’ve checked out the internets to learn more, as I’m that kind of guy, but now I kinda wished I would have done some competitive swimming.  Because…

When you show up at the gym at 5 freakin’ AM hoping that you’ll be the only person wanting to use one of the 3 (3!) lanes at the gym closest to my house and find all 3 lanes full, you’re not sure what to do.  Do I jump in and just follow along, knowing that I can’t do more than about 50m before I need to take a break?  Where does one take a break if stuck against the wall while the other dude in the same lane bears down on you?  And the dudes in the lane next to you are faster.

So I turned around and went home, got some coffee and went to work.  Came back that afternoon and got my swim on.

As for running, my IT bands got wacked pretty badly back in ’04 when I did the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon to raise money for Stroke victims.  And they still don’t like me for it.  Very, very tight legs, even after stretching.  But if one is intelligent (sometimes), one will listen to one’s body and take a day off.  Ta Da!  Much better.

Best part is I got about a 3 week jump on the training schedule so a day off here or there right now is ok.  Basically, I have an 11 week “Newbie Triathlete Training Plan” that the internets gave me and it really starts in 2 more weeks.

So, get off your butt and go tri (see that, right there?) something new.  Your body will thank you for it later.