First bike in SF

SF Bike Map

Routes with bike lanes in SF

Today, I did my first bike ride in SF since moving here.

The prep

I looked online for a list of good routes. Most pages I found seemed to be about good routes outside of the city, which wasn’t very helpful to me. I live near the center of the city, so I needed to know how to get out there. I found this map showing roads with bike lanes to be very useful, and I’m going to try to explore the main ones in the future to see which ones I like best.

The route

I eventually settled on commuting up and down Polk Street, a main N-S road in the city. The path unfortunately reminded me of Massachusetts Ave a bit — a road somewhat in need of paving with plenty traffic lights and stop-and-go traffic. You could easily spend 45 minutes getting across SF with this route, with a not inconsiderable amount of danger (there is a decent amount of hoping that people won’t open their car doors). However, all in all, things weren’t that bad — there is, in fact, a bike lane through the entire road, which you can’t say about many places.

The bike

Took my Specialized Allez out for the ride. This is my road bike, and the one of my two bikes that has been repaired — my Fuji tri bike needs some serious love, but I still haven’t decided what to do with it (maybe will sell it and get another tri bike that is higher quality/fits me better).

The fit of the bike was noticeably bad — I was putting nearly all my weight on my hands, rather than on the seat. That made it hard to control the bike and also to safely take my hands off the handlebars to signal turns, etc.

Was the fit always this bad? Possibly — during my half ironman, my hands started going numb. And I’ve always found it hard to balance on, and signal from, this bike. Possibly it’s simply too large for me, and so to reach the handlebars I have to move my center of gravity far too forward.

The plan

Biking during the work week is probably going to be too time-consuming, so I’ll keep it as a weekend activity.

I’ll also probably take the bike back to the shop to get it properly fitted, that is, if I can improve the fit much myself fooling around on my trainer.

Bike problems

Took my bike for a spin today. For various reasons, I’m not going to get into what happened to it. I’ve decided to let the matter sit until I move to a new location, as I don’t have time to deal with getting it fixed.2015-08-29 14.00.07

Until then, I have my road bike. That bike needs to be fitted better, as I found my hands going numb during my Ironman. Basically, I just need to have my babies spend a while in the shop.

Timberman Part 2

I recently participated in Ironman Timberman, a half-iron distance event. I didn’t end up finishing, but I exceeded my own expectations. I managed to do the swim in 1:03 and got 53 miles on the bike course before the cutoff time.

What I learned: practice long distance cycling is key, and the good news is that it isn’t terribly hard to train. I felt confident I could have done the run section, if I had managed to finish the bike.

The swim went well, although I was clearly going too slowly. I think it shouldn’t be too hard to fix my swim form. The key, I think, is kicking from the hip — I seem to have problems with my feet dangling. Everything else about my stroke seems much better after taking those swim classes.

Owning a new wetsuit would be nice as well. My old wetsuit just seemed too tight, and I ended swimming without it.

For the rest of the year, I think I’ll focus on running, a sport that doesn’t have as high setup costs. I’m currently looking to do a 5k at the end of October, with a goal race time of 24 minutes. Perhaps I will return to Ironman next year, or the year after (depending on my travel schedule after graduation). I definitely want to do it, and I think I have a much better appreciation of exactly how much I need to train each sport, and what I need to do, to finish.

I’m going to try updating this blog more often as well, to keep myself honest about doing research. I gotta up my productivity. I’m very excited for this fall and hopefully will have more to say soon on both work and running fronts.

The Gran Fondo

At the beginning of this month, I joined a challenge on Strava: do a “Gran Fondo,” or ride 115 km (71.45 miles) in one day.gran-fondo-115-6-v1

At this point, it’s looking like I’ll miss the end of the month by a few days, but my trip is mostly planned out. I’m going to be biking down to Providence using this route; I’ll also have to bike perhaps another 20 miles along the Providence bike trail once I get there. I’m trying to hustle up a friend to come with me, too.

I still need to buy some equipment:

  • Water bottle holders (for both bikes, if my friend comes…)
  • Food
  • Bigger bike bag (or just an extra one)
  • Small first aid stuff (probably already have this)
  • Extra spare tire tube and CO2 canister
  • Jersey
  • Gatorades

I also need to do a few random tasks:

  • Plan out the map/route and commit it to memory. FIND BATHROOMS.
  • Raise my bike seat on my tri bike
  • Swap out the pedals on my road bike

Ironman 70.3: Timberman


Since it’s looking like I won’t make Ironman Mt. Tremblant, my brother convinced me to switch my registration to a Half Ironman, the Ironman 70.3: Timberman race in New Hampshire. I’ll be able to drive to this race much more easily, and it’ll be a better match for my abilities.

The official Athlete Guide is here, and the schedule is here.

Swim: 1.2 miles – Cutoff: 1′ 10″

Bike: 56 miles – Cutoff: 5′ 30″

Run: 13.1 miles – Cutoff: 8′ 30″

To swim 1.2 miles in 1′ 10″ (let’s say 50″ to play it safe) I’ll need to swim 25 meters in 38.76 seconds. My pool has 25 yard laps, so I’ll need to do a lap in 42.2 seconds. I feel like this is fairly within reach.

Now supposing something goes wrong and I take the full 1′ 10″ for the swim, that gives me 4′ 20″ remaining for the bike, or 12.9 mph average pace. I’d probably want to target around 16-17 mph in order to hit this. (26 kph, from my bike computer’s point of view).

Then I have 3 hours left for the run. I’d actually have to run here… if I walk at a 15″/mile pace, I’ll only complete 12 miles, but I need to do 13.1. So I’ll have to do something like run the first hour at a 10 minute mile pace, get 6 miles under my belt that way, then spend the next two hours doing 8 more (with some room to spare since 6+8 = 14). I don’t particularly want to run, since I haven’t trained for this distance and there’s a decent chance of getting injured.

Over the next few days, I’ll try to get in the pool and on the bike to see how feasible they are.

New run and bike

I was down in Annapolis this weekend, but managed to get in a nice quick run outdoors with a friend.

Yesterday, I biked over to Bentley and back. Coming back was kind of a nightmare — traffic was awful. With Beaver St. closed, you have to take Route 20 for bit to get on campus. In the future I might try to find another way to campus, even if it’s longer.

I got lost for a bit, but luckily most of my route was along a path I had used for marathon training, so I was able to more or less get back that way.

Both activities are on Strava.

A week of workouts

Tuesday, Apr 21st:

Did some cycling intervals at home.

Wednesday, Apr 22nd:


7.5 mile bike ride up to the beginnings of the Minuteman Trail.

Actually, I accidentally started on the wrong trail, but it didn’t matter because a minute later, my chain popped off!bg

At first, I was trying to open the chain and put it back on, but I couldn’t figure out how. By shifting gears I managed to get it around my smaller gear in the front. I think the problem may have been an “in-between” front derailleur setting that I find useful when using my hardest back gear.

Just in case, I set the bike to a middle-of-the-road gear and kept it there on the ride back home.

Thursday, Apr 23:

I usually take Wednesday off, but since I rode then, I used Thursday to take my bike into the shop.

Friday, April 24th:

Went to the pool around 10pm and did some “intervals.” I use quotes since I only lasted for about three of them… I then filled out the rest of a 20min workout with continuous swimming at a slow pace.

Saturday, April 25th:

Off day

Sunday, April 26th:

Did a 2.6 mile run at a relatively easy pace. By my calculations (my Garmin wasn’t working again…) it was 8:30 miles. I can tell that I’m in better shape now, actually, the only problem is that I need to pace myself with these runs so I don’t exacerbate my shin splints.

First bike ride of the season

Did my first bike ride of the season today. I rode over to the stadium area and practiced a bit to make sure my bike was in working order, then rode up to Alewife via Mass. Ave., which I’ve never done before. It was much more of a straight shot up to Alewife than the way I had gone before, which was designed to go by Fresh Pond and avoid traffic.

I ended up doing 6.4 miles, although it was actually a bit longer as I didn’t record some segments where I had to walk the bike due to the road being one way.

Surprisingly, I found that my average speed was only 10 mi/h… barely any faster than running! (That’s a 6 minute mile.) Yeah, I’m sure this had something to do with the large number of traffic lights, and the fact that I tend to obey road laws unlike most bikers, and actually stop for lights.

But when I put the run up on Strava, I saw that I was coming close to last place on most of the segments… like around 1,800/2,000. It’s somewhat discouraging to see that, since it feels like I’m just “negatively talented” and won’t get any better despite practice. Or that I have something completely wrong with my bike like my seat position. I’m starting to think the negative reinforcement of knowing just how un-fit I am is something that discourages me from continuing to exercise, but I keep doing it because I know it’s good for me.

Ultimately, another reason I’m terrible at cardio stuff is that I don’t necessarily work out consistently. I’m constantly making exceptions or excuses not to work out — and I don’t really regret them (I have to prioritize other things in my life, especially work), but it’s still a bit frustrating. Especially to finish every workout feeling like I’m doomed to never improve.

[In retrospect, the last bit of this post was super melodramatic and needlessly negative… I’m leaving it up, though, to give some insight into how my workouts and emotional state are related.]

Ride is on Strava.

Back on schedule

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve been sleeping a great deal over the past few days. Indeed, sometimes I get so tired that I can barely read my computer screen.  Generally procrastination has won out, which keeps me up late and, as a result, forces me to sleep in late.  But last night I managed to fall asleep around 11, and I got up today at 6:30 (or more like 6:50 if you count the time I actually got out of bed).

I’m still not sure whether this fatigue is exercise-related, but I’m somehow hoping it might be, since I would like my workouts to be having some effect. I’ve noticed a steep drop-off on my resting heart rate recently, which I also can’t really explain. It may simply be related to getting more sleep rather than being more fit.  (My blood pressure doesn’t seem to have changed and is a flat 120/80 — I would like to get it slightly lower.)

I’m getting back on the bike again this morning and will try turning it around to face the window so I can enjoy the snow. I’ve also experimented with listening to music while I ride and that seems to have worked well.

Another idea is to brush my teeth before getting on the bike. I find brushing my teeth to be really unpleasant (boring), so I often procrastinate it for 10 minutes or more. But I like exercise even less, so I can procrastinate working out by brushing my teeth. So far, it seems to be working.