Sunday, June 26, 2016

Tires, tubes, and pumps - oh my!

Everyone who has done any road riding - especially in New Mexico, land of the goat head - has had to change a tire on a ride.  It will happen to everyone, if not you, then you will probably be next.  That shouldn't stop you though, changing tires is pretty easy once you practice a few times.
Goat heads - they are everywhere!
Every Penultimate has some magic combination that makes their tubes stay inflated in the particularly difficult .  What works for them has been honed from a combination of anecdote and data.  I can say that probably most of our riders have a some sort of combination of the following: thorn proof tires, thorn proof tubes, tire liners, and tube sealant.

There are many combinations/brands out there, talk to your local shop to get their recommendations or talk to your fellow riders.  Me personally, I use Orange sealant on my tubeless tires, with a backup tube prepped with Stan's tube sealant.  I have an old fashioned pump (Road Morph G).  On my previous bike, I used a thorn proof tires (Armadillos) with regular tubes prepped with Stan's.  In 6 years of commuting and training I had one flat, and not while I was riding (exploded in the heat while parked in the sun at work).

Another thing to double check, is to make sure that your spare tube that you carry (you all carry one right?) is functional.  Just like the spare in our cars that we all (never) check, we should probably be better at checking our spare tubes too.

Along the same lines, Mr. Miyagi (Jeff) put together a quick list of things to bring on every ride in addition to food and drink.  I think it is a pretty good list:

Seat bag
Pump or CO2
Extra tube
Patch kit
Tire levers
Mini tool
Cell phone

Weekend's Ride: 6/25 - Revenge of the tubes!

Another Saturday, another ride!  Today we headed out for a quick 35 mile loop of the city with a little hill work thrown in (route here).  Most of us met early at O'Neill's in a surprising overcast morning that was lightly sprinkling on everyone at the ride start.  It was a great crew for the morning rides: Andrea, Ashley, Ryan, Alba, Olga, Maria, David B., Snookums, Andrew, John M., Trey, Celeste, and Evil Gary.  We wound our way through the southern edge of the city toward our first rally point at the Smith's at Tramway and Central, where we picked up a few more riders (Jason, Rob, Jason's Friend, Peggy, Greg).

Heading east
So a total of18 riders strong headed north on Tramway uphill all the way.  Somewhere around Tramway and Menaul, the first tube had it's revenge.  Andrew's front tire wasn't holding air.  The main group headed out, as Andrew and I quickly changed the tire a few times.  The first tube had a faulty valve core, the second a tiny hole.  At that point Andrew called it a day and called for a pickup. I then headed onward and caught up with most of the riders heading up toward the base of the tram.

At the top of the Tram!
Just before I got to the top, there was another rider waylaid by a rebelling tube.  An unfortunate stroke of luck for Ashley, but luckily for her, grand master Jeff (Mr. Miyagi) was there to help out. Unfortunately, 3 tubes couldn't get the tire to be okay.  So Ashley called for a backup, and Jeff stayed behind to make sure she was okay before heading off to do some interval training.

So now we were down to 13, after another 2 headed off to different destinations. Comparatively. the rest of the ride was smooth sailing.  First the long 8 mile descent back down to the valley, then a jaunt south to pick up the diversion channel on the way back to Nob Hill.  We pulled into the parking lot at 10 am, just in time for brunch, where 5 of us had a quick breakfast for going home for recovery and naps.  Another great ride!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Weekend's Ride: 6/18 - The chaos that is the first ride

To quote one of the eminent scientists of our times "human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!" pretty much always sums up the first official ride of the season.  This year was no exception.  We had a great turn out - all told 20 riders headed out on the Inner City Loop (route here).  Lots of new faces too!

We left O'Neill's at a very brisk 6 am heading south toward the airport before picking up the Bosque trail (also called the Junkyard ride) looping south before turning north along the Bosque.  We rallied at Tingley Beach, then headed to the top of the Bosque, heading west on Alameda before hitting the Diversion Channel south back to the University and home.  There was all the normal Penultimate shenanigans - camaraderie, pushups, and fig newtons.

We had riders of vastly different skills, so we eventually split the ride at Alameda letting the main group speed toward home getting back to the start around 9:30, with the slower riders following.  But all in all, it bodes well for our year!  Go Domo!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Penultimates Blog: Under the hood!

As we are approached the beginning of our 7th training year, I took a little look through the data of the Penultimate blog (read: navel gazing).  The first post was way back in May of 2011.  Since then we have had just over 150 posts mainly detailing all the many training rides that we have done.

Total visits to our site as a function of time
Above shows our page hits/traffic as a function of time. You can clearly see the peaks in our traffic corresponds directly with our training season.  Our 2012 year was the year we had over 40 riders, and since we have had about 25-30 riders every year.  So why the slow decline of readership?  Perhaps it is the rise of InstaFace or other trendy social networks?  Maybe blogging is so mid 2000?

The most popular posts we have done
Above shows the most popular posts on the blog.  It tickles me to no end that the most popular posts by far are the two nerdy posts about how I suck going up hills (see here and here).  The vast majority of referrals to come here come from Google and Facebook.  But a fair number come here from a very lively Reddit thread about bike weight being irrelevant (here).  Also quite a bit of people looking for Domo Cupcakes (post here).

So life on the weird edges of the internet is still pretty fun!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Weekend's Ride: 6/11 - A leisurely ride with chance of West Nile

This weekend was our warm up the legs starter ride. All fun, no stress social ride from Nob Hill up the Diversion Channel to Paseo, then over to the Bosque trail south to the wonderful Bike in Coffee (route here).  I was expecting maybe 5 riders like last year, but our motley crew ended up being 15 strong!  We had long time Penultimates Laura, Eric, John M., Olga, Evil Gary, Tina, Matt, Ryan, and David.  More excitingly, we had several new (6) riders to the team - Andrea, Liz, John V., Jason, Rob, and Celeste!

We left Nob Hill later than normal and encountered a huge group of runners stretching over a mile heading north on the Diversion Channel, which I am accustomed to being very empty.  After a relatively quick ride down Paseo, we played our typical Saturday morning game of Bosque Frogger, weaving around and past runners, riders, skaters, walkers to finally make it to Bike in Coffee.  We relaxed on the beautiful grounds enjoying the morning and the conversation, while a swarm of hungry mosquitos enjoyed our tender skin.  After many hot coffees, iced coffees, iced chai, and the odd scookie (scone cookie - delish!) were consumed, we then rode back toward Nob Hill along Mountain, back to the Diversion Channel.  We finished the ride at Nob Hill just as the Pride Parade was gearing up!

Advice for new riders

Here are some pointers for new riders, in totally random order.  Always feel free to ask if you have any questions.
  • Hand signals - we will show you.  Here is a nice video if you want to get a head start.
  • Headphones - it's your call on what you want to wear.  I argue that situational awareness is more important that your favorite tunes at full volume.  The compromise that I follow is listening to podcasts with a bud only in the right ear when things are quiet, nothing when near traffic.
  • Breakfast - I know, its really early when you head out to the ride start.  But try to get some food in you.  A mix of carbs and fats.  Suggestions: bagels with nutella and banana.  A smoothie with protein powder + toast and jam.  Bowl of cereal with fruit.
  • Hydration - Make sure you carry at least 2 bottles for any rides greater than about 30 miles.  Drink often, even if you are not thirsty.  If you are thirsty, it is too late.
  • Food - Pack some food too - something you will eat, something easy. Power bars, fig newtons, et...  It's never fun to "bonk" or to deplete your glycogen stores. It will manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy.  Don't think you can ride another foot?  Try eating some food and drinking water and resting for a bit.  You will feel better.  And same with drinking, if you are hungry, it is too late.  Eat a little bit often.
  • Tires/tubes/pump - make sure you pack at least a spare tube and perhaps a way to inflate it.  Other riders will be carrying spares too, but make sure you have the size that matches your bike.
  • Sunscreen - You all like skin right?  Wear sunblock. Make sure to slather on in the morning, and bring a small tube to reapply as things get hot.  Don't for the love of Pete put sunblock on your forehead.
  • Know where you are going - I'll send out details of the ride the week before we ride.  Please familiarize yourself just so you can keep yourself for getting totally lost.
  • Bring some cash/credit card -  just for emergencies, also a way to fill up the bottles on long rides.  Good if you bonk.
  • Charge your phone - self explanatory - important in an emergency
  • Bike tights/chamois/chamois butter - ever wonder why long distance cyclists always seem to be sporting padded tights?  Well, it is for the preservation of your keister.  Trust me, if you are uncomfortable after a ride, this is the best thing you can get to increase your post ride feeling.
  • Clips?  Cages?  Flats?   Well, clips will make you a more efficient rider.  But plan on some low speed crashes until it becomes second nature.  In the long run, you will be happy!
  • Helmets - absolutely necessary.  All helmets offer the same level of basic protection.  A more expensive the helmet might be more comfortable, cooler, maybe some additional safety features, but any helmet will give you the same baseline safety.
  • Know your limits - only ride in the fashion you are comfortable doing.  This is especially true going down hill!  Go as slow as you need to go to keep yourself safe.
  • Bike selection - The point of the Bike MS is to get out on a bike and ride.  You will see all kinds at the ride, from mountain bikes, to cruisers, to even a unicycle.  As long as what you are riding has wheels and pedals, you will be okay.  Some bikes are better for long distance riding (that super heavy mountain bike with knobby tires might not be able to go all 100 miles on Saturday), but remember there are many different lengths to chose from.
  • Biking clothes - biking jerseys are very practical choices.  All are made of wicking breathable fabric with sun protection.  Most have pockets at the back for stashing phones, food, etc.
Any other suggestions?

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Domo Rules

Rule #1: Leave no one behind

We are a friendly team.  We pride ourselves on our fun, encouraging team rides.  We are all out there for many different reasons: to enjoy the ride, get some exercise, improve our fitness, meet our training goals, and so on.  The one thing that we all share is that we are riding with the Penultimates!  If we wanted to ride solo we would.

We always make sure that our riders make it.  We are strictly a no drop team!  If you are faster than everyone - great!  We will see you at the rally point (see rule #4).  If you are the slowest - great! We will see you at the rally point.  Also, would you like some company while you ride?

Rule #2:  It is not a race!

A slight variation of Rule #1, but important to say.  We are doing training rides, not racing.  We are happy you are super fast, but remember we are a team of individuals of all skills.  Ideally on rides we should organize ourselves in sub groups (A team, B team, etc...) so that everyone is riding with a buddy.

Rule #3:  Introduce yourself

If your new to the team, introduce yourself!  If you a rider for many years, introduce yourself!

Rule #4:  See you at the rally point!

Regardless of your skill, we will meet you at the rally point.  We try to wait there until everyone is in if the ride allows.  We are a no drop team, but if you don't rally we can't figure out where everyone is.

Rule #5: All are welcome

All rider levels welcome!  Seriously.  All types of bikes, all skill levels.   We all love riding (or we wouldn't be waking up at butt-dark early in the morning to ride countless miles right?) and we want you to love it too.  Learn from those around you.  Generally, most people ride road bikes, but we have had riders ride commuters and mountain bikes too.