Monday, October 3, 2011

#seenonmybike - some things I've seen while riding around Sacramento

The #seenonmybike is a derivative of the ahem 'famous' #seenonmyrun tag, and I thought I'd take this moment to share a few sights from my rides around town. I'm not a serious cyclist, I stop, I take pictures, sometimes I will double back when I see things like a giraffe or weird graffiti.
These are things that are interesting to me. Enjoy these images from my world!

This is a homeless camp alongside the Sacramento River.
As the weather gets colder, these tents have become less and less commonplace.


The memorial is heartbreaking but hopeful.


Just a fisherman

Cyclists and vegans take note! You cyclists, they have a pump there and let you bring in your bike!
Useful if you don't have a lock with you! If you are a vegan, they have vegan donuts!.

This is near Miller Park. The sign warns people that killing or injuring cats is a crime.
To the left though you can barely make it out, are ramshackle beds for the strays that live here.
I've often wondered if their namesake, the Sacramento River Cats  help fund spaying  & neutering for these cats.
They are a Sacramento institution!

The fun part of my ride. This is our river walk in West Sacramento. To the left is the bridge leading into Sacramento.
The pyramid building and the new CALSTRS building are on the right.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

#seenonmybike - social media and positivity on the Sacramento Parkway

I had a great ride today and it was made more great by the people and the graffiti I encountered along the Sacramento Parkway. Graffiti? Yes. Graffiti. For though I am not a fan of defacing public or private property, in this case it is a positive thing. Today as I went for a ride and saw a ton of people out on their bikes. Harkening back to my running days (which will return again, I have faith!) I waved at folks and received some back. Every runner I waved to at least waved or smiled, some did both! Waved to a few bigger guys in full on kits and they ignored me. What's up with that? When I came across this spray painted on the road, I stopped, turned around and went back to read it.


#seenonmybike this ode to #4square - I'll tell you the f... on Twitpic 









Yep. It was real alright, and here's when things got really awesome. I stopped to take the photo (and pulled over to the side so as to not block the trail) and not one, not two, but three groups of cyclists tapped their brakes to as ask me "you ok?" warmed my heart! Then an older fellow saw me and this conversation ensued "Yeah, it looks nicer now don't it?"
Err well, I guess? I'd rather no spray paint at all?
"oh, it was uglier before, take a gander at the pedestrian bridge, though some of that's been changed too"
I felt like we weren't really communicating but nodded and looked at the bridge, and then like the sun shining through the clouds it hit me - what was once hateful graffiti was covered over with clever and lighthearted improvisation. I won't even give the hatefulness any more attention, that is what they crave after all, I'll let you dear reader figure out what a square could have been. When I'm on my bike it's a good bet I'm smiling, today I rode home with a permagrin, and am still smiling sharing this with you. Thanks for reading and have a great week!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

California State Fair $100 Challenge

 
$100 dollars to ride a bike a few feet? One try for $3 or three tries for $5? Sounds good to me! I spotted this ride/attraction at the California State Fair on opening day Thursday and wanted to share with my fellow cyclists. Think you can do it? There is a small catch! The handlebars are 'backwards' and work in reverse. If you turn right, the forks turn left, and vice versa. Of course the trained carnie can do it in his sleep, but could you? We've been hardwired from childhood left is left and right is right (well most of us!) Could we unlearn that in a few seconds and walk away with a hundred bucks? Would we need a lot of practice? If you click on the image you'll notice a strange box right above the headset, I suspect it contains a type of differential or gear box.
Could any of you build one of these?
Are you attending the California State Fair in Sacramento?
Let's hear your theories on how you'd win that money!
I'm also going to use this opportunity to shamelessly promote myself on Google Plus ! http://bit.ly/JoseGPlus

Friday, June 24, 2011

First Days Of Bike Commuting!

After commuting via bike,  driving is now a total let down! My inaugural commuting this week was an adventure and I am now hooked! On my first day I saw crop dusters and fields, farms and flattened rabbits, runners and cyclists, angry commuters stuck in traffic and so much more. I experience so much hmm, I want to say more but that's not right either, I experience different things cycling than when driving. While driving I hear music or talk radio, deal with slow drivers, fast drivers, obstacles, brake lights etc. Riding however, I hear the sound of shifting gears, the wind whistling past my ears, the sound of cars speeding past and the sound of train horns startling me. I hear things I'd never hear while ensconced in my truck,  the hum of overhead power lines, generators on the side of a cornfield powering...something? Still not sure what!
Amtrak. Their horns are a terrifying sound if you aren't paying attention.


My morning commute are calming and energizing, and I'm not enough of a wordsmith to convey the feeling. To use a drug addict term and runner vernacular, the 'high' from cycling is a more subdued strain of stoked. It's not the pounding in your chest, sweat flailing, 'chasing the puke' high that you get from running a 5k or longer distance road race. Speaking of sweat, I wasn't as sweaty as I thought I'd be! It's a very mellow workout, I mean, obviously there's exertion but it's not the same as running. I don't mean that in a diss to cyclists, it's just...running miles mean more to me than cycling miles. No way could I run 13-14 miles and sit down to work without needing to shower! Whereas yesterday I was able to clean up just fine at work and changed into my work clothes.
A farm on my way to work. Something about the sun's rays at this time of day make everything glow.
My evening commutes are a different animal, I'm able to sweat it up, BUT I'm also more weary. As an aside, the first day I rode to work, it was the first day of summer and that afternoon the temp rocketed up to 100 degrees, it made for an interesting ride home involving 3 water bottle refills a slower pace, and a post commute jump into the kiddie pool in my back yard. Yesterday's ride home was tough, not as hot, but it was really hard to get motivated and a few times I told myself  "Just take the bus" but am glad that I pushed on. It reminds me of marathon training long runs, that initial feeling of indecision "can I really do this?" eventually being replaced with "Yes! I totally did it!" Comment if you know how this feels, come on! You know you do! A crossover from running - I've been waving to everyone I come in contact with, said hello to some runners yesterday and if I see that someone is cycling towards me, I at least lift up a hand or give a nod. I'm finding that runners are more friendly but this is just a very unscientific observation. I've only commuted twice this week and run into less than a couple dozen riders.
This random haven for skateboarders is awesome.
I love the contrast of concrete and corn
If you are considering bicycle commuting, don't think about it - do it! I'm doing this for many reasons, to heal my knee, to run again, to get some mileage in, and of course to just expend calories, but at the end of the day, I just feel more alive. I hope no matter what you do, whether it's walking, riding or running, you feel the same. Thanks for reading! Now go take on the day!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Odds and Ends

Cycling Update - Hi friends, another cycling update! I'm learning the ins and outs slowly but surely. Shifting isn't as easy as it sounds! Well hitting the lever is easy, but riding so that shifting happens smoothly and effortlessly is another deal. I've been practicing this every time I'm on my bike and at a stop light. If I have advance notice I can slow down ahead of time and shift to an easier gear, so starting up again is quick and easy. If I am not paying attention - then I'm forced to start out in a tough gear which means I'll be standing up on the pedals and grunting it up. These are things that just take practice so I'm glad I'm out there doing it.
Other things I'm practicing and learning include merging with traffic to make turns (terrifying), stopping at stop lights (I hear that the rules of the road apply to cyclists as well),  and yielding to pedestrians. When I was a BMX hellraiser me and my buddies paid no heed to any of these rules and I'm looking back in alarm at how reckless we were. Flying down sidewalks, doing footplants off of cars, bunnyhopping in front of startled pedestrians, darting in and out of traffic, ahh youth. A small part of that "go for it" spirit is still inside of me, but it's tempered now with the fact that I am a father raising children and a husband not wanting to leave behind a widow.  Also, though I'm a snarky, sarcastic, joke making guy, I'm really a fan of polite and civilized behavior so I'm learning how to ride as I'd like others to ride. The golden rule of cycling? Is there a thing? I have no idea.

Somewhat related some friends on a forum I frequent posted these videos, they made me laugh because 1) they are SO New York and 2) the use of the word jerk just cracks me up no matter the context.








Kinesiology/Injury Update  - I met a kinesiologist the other night at a party, she gave me some great tips for knee/quad recovery so I thought I'd post em here:
  • Walk/run backwards up hills. Apparently this helps the muscle development in those hard to reach areas. Who knew?
  • The last 15 degrees of movement are the ones that matter when developing the quads to help pull the knee inline. So even doing small workouts benefit.
  • Swimming helps, as does cycling. (Yes!)
  • She recommended MSM and Glucosamine. I haven't been taking mine - ran out months ago, will try this again.
Right now my right quads are still smaller than my left, there are no shortcuts, this is boring, this is hell, but I must do this in order to return to running.
Hope your week is great folks! Get out there and enjoy spring wherever the heck you are .
Also - here's something going on right now:
http://mayisbikemonth.com - they are also on Facebook!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Riding On The West Sacramento Promenade Trail

West Sacramento River Walk Trail
Hope all of you had a joyous Easter ! After a Sunday of church, food, family and fun, I decided to burn off the excess calories and get out for a ride. A few days earlier we saw a sign announcing the new West Sacramento Promenade Trail so I decided to pedal over and check it out.

The River Walk is on the right hand side of this (now outdated) satellite photo.
The trail begins near River Cats stadium, on the south side of the bridge. There's construction going on right now at River Cats stadium so to get to it from Sacramento you'll have to cross over on the left hand side and from the Davis, West Sac side, you'll have to loop around the front of the stadium (Ball Park Drive) as the old 3rd street underpass has been crushed to make way for a hyperspace bypass.

The River Walk Trail as seen from the West Sac side.
On this trail I saw no less than four rabbits, ears perked as they hopped away from me and my bike. I also saw folks fishing, hostile geese (are there any other kind?!) and a homeless guy reading a library book. It's only a short distance but once completed will be a beautiful way for folks in South West Sac (ie Southport etc) to get downtown and vice versa.  I was lucky to see orange flowers along the side of the trail but you can't really see them in these shots.

facing north on the trail
This is the end of the trail near the freeway overpass. Eventually it will connect to paved roads.
There's also another river walk on the other side of the river, I took the bridge over and ventured down that one.That river walk also connects to a bike trail hitherto unknown to me which leads all the way down to Miller Park. Both of these trails are great for cycling or running, though there isn't very much shade on the West Sac side. The ride took me about  50 minutes and was a little over 8 miles. Not bad for a n00b! I'm hoping to ramp that mileage up as I get closer to commuting to work. In the meantime I am just thankful that I have another avenue to get my endorphin fix and another way of being outdoors and active. Thanks for reading and have a good week folks!
Confusing ideologies and lack of manners.
PS The only eyesore I encountered was this confusing piece of  'street art' from a Crowley fan with anti-Juggalo national socialist tendencies, or a drywall installer from Rio Linda. Perhaps, perhaps one and the same?

Monday, April 11, 2011

I Am Now A Road Bike Owner!

Welcome home!
So Friday night I went and met a man off of craigslist (sounds so sleazy!) and came home with a 2010 Trek 1.5 in excellent condition! I'm  excited to take a step forward in my journey back to running. Also, with gas currently at over $4.00 a gallon it's nice to know that eventually my commutes will be less expensive ! Sunday I rode 4 miles, it was fun but terrifying. Bike likely needs a small tuneup, brakes need to be tightened up and bike needs to 'fitted' for me.
Jr. tries to climb on board. Just a few more years son!
I haggled my guy down and got my bike for less than I would a new Trek 1.1 with better components!
You can do this too, but first I recommend learning everything you can about bikes so you aren't a total ignoramus like I was, and a great start for me was this awesome blog post entitled "how to buy a bike" from http://www.healthytippingpoint.com Here's some things I would add:

You can find a good deal on Craigslist, but it does involve some work. I used the site http://www.searchtempest.com and checked it every day with different search terms. In my case I used different combinations of 54, road bike, drop down bars, etc. I also tried the app "Craigspro" on my iphone but it only gave me a headache. As time went by and I learned more about components I put those terms in as well. As a newbie, I wanted an aluminum frame + carbon forks, and my shifting goals changed from "don't care" to "would prefer not to have thumb shifters". In the HTP blog and in your journeys, you will hear people discuss better components and think "what's exactly does better mean?"
Here's the run down! With road bikes, it all depends on what you are going to do. If you are just starting out racing or commuting a tiny bit of weight isn't a big deal. You don't need a 100% carbon frame and fork.
Most manufacturers (Trek, Specialized, Raleigh etc) all have aluminum frames and carbon forks. Some have fancier types of aluminum tubing, but by and large the sub 1000 dollar bikes are about the same.
Shifting systems/derailleurs etc go from worst to best in this order 2300, Sora, Tiagra, 105, Ultegra and Dura-Ace.  There are levels above that even but again if you are starting out they don't matter! For me, Tiagra was a great choice - it works as well as the 105 (I can shift from in the drops or on top) and still is better than the 2300 (baseline) components or Sora thumb shifters. If you really want to nerd out on shifters, here's a link to the wikipedia on Shimano. Other than that, haggling wise my best advice is to set limits for yourself on how much you are willing to spend before you go to meet your (potential) new bike and old owner.

Score! Looks like I saved more money than this guy.

Not sure how much your used bike from a year or two or three is worth? Try checking craigslist listings in other cities to find a general idea of how much my bike was going for. You can also check Ebay's ended auctions. Most good road bikes are like Hondas and retain their value after a year or two. That said, don't forget that you can always haggle down!
Yay! I paid less than this one as well!
My next goal is to sell a used bike, so if anyone wants to buy a PRISTINE Mosh Worm BMX bike, let me know! Good luck if you are also looking for a used road bike, comment and I'll be glad to share whatever I've learned with you. Don't give up! Your bargain is out there. Speaking of - the final tally on my bike? He was asking $750 - bargained down to $675 - the most expensive bike I've purchased, but I'm ok with this!

PS I'd also like to thank my man Patrick Piccolo. He not only got me the 'road bike bug' but also invited me down to ride some bikes and patiently explained a lot to me. Thanks again !

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Test Riding Road Bikes - Specialized, Raleigh, Masi

I rode three bikes this weekend and had a blast doing so, a Specialized Allez, a Raleigh Revenio 2.0 and a Masi. Each rode a bit differently, and even though I am a 100% n00b when it comes to these bikes, I'm excited that I'm actually getting to spot differences in the way they ride! I've been experimenting with shifting, speeding up, slowing down, riding in the drops, etc. I've noticed that riding in the drops is a great way to tell if a bike is ok, or really comfortable. I've also noticed that every bike shop, EVERY bike shop tells me that it's
"it's cheaper to buy upgraded components on the bikes than to upgrade later" - and I think they are correct. On to the bikes!


The specialized Allez is gorgeous! This one is a 54 and fit me just right. Though I felt a TINY bit stretched out when I got into the drops. It has 105s and was dialed in perfectly. I rode this and the Raleigh at a shop in a part of Sacramento that is a bit sketchy. How sketchy? I saw an impala jam packed with guys all wearing sunglasses and blue ball caps (and no, they weren't baseball fans) then a few minutes later a guy calling his associate and loudly proclaiming his displeasure at a financial transaction involving a medically legal plant here in California. Visions of me being mugged for a bike I don't even own and getting stuck with the tab played out in my head as I pedaled around the shopping center and out onto a bike trail.

This bike, the Raleigh Revenio wasn't as dialed in as the Specialized, thumb shifters were a bit lacking and the pedals had me paranoid, but the way this bike felt was AWESOME. Next to the Trek 1.1 - this bike rocketed to my top 3 bikes. It felt so nice in the drops, and the prices on these are not bad! $819 for an aluminum frame and carbon fork. If only it had nicer shifters/cassette etc. I'm a fan of these bikes. If any Raleigh folks are reading this and want to give me a coupon for a few hundred dollars off? I will represent your bikes to the fullest on my humble blog!

This Masi was the most solid, dialed in machine I've ever ridden on. Not a single thing was loose, everything was set up great, this felt a lot like the Specialized in the drops - very 'racy' and I felt like I was stretching a bit but goodness was this thing fast. I zipped up and down a street and got up close to catching up with cars. So much fun!  This one was a bit pricier (I think in the $800 range) but I can see why.

So there you have it, aside from these bikes I've also ridden a few more Trek's and Canondales but those bikes I almost want to ride again because it's only till now that I feel like I understand really what I am looking for. Every step, err pedal I take gets me one step closer to running again and gets me my much needed endorphin fix! I'm also having a hard time figuring out how much to offer or look for in used bikes. There's so much more risk, potential broken stuff, fixing up, adjusting etc. with a used bike.
Thanks for reading! Also, if you are into cycling at all and are on twitter - check out the hashtag #bikeschool, lots of cycling talk!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Knee Update Remix - B Side - Quest For A Road Bike

I hate writing about my knee, I hate talking about it, and it's one of the things that puts me in a foul mood. That said, knee recap is as follows: my right leg is still weak, and even though I am doing my PT exercises and have been going to the gym I still haven't recovered 100%. Even if I didn't have DailyMile taunting me with the zero on Monday, I'd still feel bad because of the lack of endorphins and the lack of exercise. I rarely gripe, but maybe someone else feels the way I do. Enough whining.
I'm on a new mission right now, spurred on by necessity and curiosity.

This is what I thought I wanted, a nice bike to be sure! It's just not me right now.

A dear friend of mine races road bikes and invited me to visit him at his shop to discuss bikes. I went in fully expecting to want a hybrid bicycle to work out on and get some commute miles in. I left wanting a road bike more than anything!
Something about the lightness, the swiftness, the relative effortlessness of riding those bikes got me hooked and now I am ruined... I've always loved bikes,I was immersed in bmx freestyle culture in the 80s to early 90s, but road bikes were always goofy to me. Which makes perfect sense! Growing up I thought runners were goofy and for years I worked near Fleet Feet downtown shaking my head at runners and thinking "what's the point?"
Now this is more like it! Sleek, smooth, oh darn I'm going to have to wear those silly shorts now right?

I now see my road bike as part of my step back - to running. Yes, even though I can go further with the same caloric expenditure, I love running and miss it. My dream, silly as it sounds, is to strengthen my legs using this biking thing, commute to work here and there and save some money on gas, and at the same time get some mileage down. Not so much for DailyMile, but just for ME!

me in 1986 or so. Note the SOD shirt, painters cap and ridiculous shorts.
That's a Mongoose Decade there underneath me.

Right now I'm in the research phases, I resisted the urge to walk out of the first bike shop with a Trek 1.1 and still want to test ride more bikes. I've visited about a half dozen shops just to ask people different things and here is what I've found.

- Bikes are expensive. I mean, there's no middle ground! You go from cheapo dept store bikes to 'good' bikes with no 'average' bike. So there's that crappy steel bike and then there's a $700 investment. Just like that!
- Most every bike shop I've been into has been helpful and friendly. I've done some mild social engineering, feigning ignorance at some shops, admitting what I do know at others, just to see if I get different reactions. By and large bike people are pretty much like runners: obsessive geeks that will talk about the minutiae of their sport till your ear bleeds or you look at your watch and tell them you are on your lunch break.
- There's a whole bike culture that goes along with these bikes that I'm trying to avoid if at all possible. I have no intention of racing! I just want to get better and get some sun while I'm at it.
- Most manufacturers have entry level bikes that have "entry level" components. I still don't understand the whole better components thing. My mountain bike is over a decade old so to me, any change is like me hopping onto Lance Armstrong's bike.

- When I tell people I am a runner primarily, they actually get stoked because they know I'm actually going to ride and not just buying a bike because it's "cool". Seriously! I had two guys tell me "Oh you wouldn't believe how many people buy bikes but then don't actually ride" - I do believe him. After all haven't we all joined the gym only to never go work out? Sometimes it takes an attempt or two.
So that's what I've been up to. Bookmarking sites, reading blogs, asking questions and trying to learn. Before I plunk down a bunch of money I want to be sure I'm getting the right product.
If you have any links or advice, I'm all ears! Thanks for reading, and go out there and run a few steps for me!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson - Leading By Example



I'm giving Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson props not because I voted for him (I didn't, I live across the river!) but because I enjoy seeing leaders lead by example. The mayor and Capitol Road Race Management's program "Miles With The Mayor" encourages runners to get off the couch and onto the streets with the promise of cool prizes for participating, and even more prizes for more participation. In addition, KJ has committed to running one race a month. How many civic leaders do you know that put their money where there mouth is when it comes to fitness?

Though I haven't been at a race in a while, I do remember seeing the mayor at other racing events, and even saw KJ out with his folks during my long runs leading up to CIM 2009. Yes, he was running, yes it was early! The extent of our interactions was a wave, but I digress.

My support for the mayor's running promotion isn't 100% about him as an individual per se, it's also me cheering on someone making an effort to do better. After all, isn't that what we runners are trying to do at least part of the time?

With video games, obesity, processed foods and so many more things standing in the way of health and happiness, it's refreshing to see strides being made towards true change. I salute you Mr. Mayor and wish you and the Miles With The Mayor program a success!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The SeenOnMyRun Story

Hi all! I haven't been updating much due to my injury and what not.
I've also become obsessed with getting a road bike so if any of you have any advice, let's hear it!
I will however return to blogging regularly if I can pull off this tale here using Storify.
Recently on Twitter Runner's World magazine has been awesome at promoting the #SeenOnMyRun Hashtag so I went ahead and slapped together a little background info on it.
I might edit this again so thanks for reading and hope your runs are long, healthy and awesome!