Last week I took my bike to the shop to get a tune-up and some repairs done. I wrote about that on my earlier post where I outlined the various things I’m going to need to buy and do to start commuting to work using my bike. Today was finally the day to take on the 7-8 mile trek to work, let’s see how I did.
I had a planOk, I sorta had a plan, the night before I went to bed before midnight (that's early for me) I woke up at 6am and got ready, I ended up wearing my typical work gear: shorts, t-shirt (WordPress themed, of course) and standard issue socks and shoes. A few days ago I had a discussion with my friend Wes and he talked about getting all of this wicking clothing and hanging it up to dry once I got to work, that didn't happen.
So it beginsI headed out the door and started up my RunKeeper app (despite the name it does plenty of other activity tracking too). I got going at a good pace, the morning was cool but not cold and it was nowhere near getting into the 90's that we were expecting today. I got down to an intersection which would be my first left turn and proceeded to "take the lane". When you take the lane you make sure no one is behind you and creep your way over to the right side of the right most left turn lane. This left turn didn't have a protected left so I just got in the front of the line hugging the right side of the lane. A few cars got behind me and I noticed I was still in high gear so my initial push-off was VERY SLOW.I'll do better the next turn I thought. The street I was going down is called Lambert, in a car this street seems pretty flat, maybe a few little hills here and there but nothing really, right? I approached the first hill with a bit of speed and had no problems making it up the hill, my decent went pretty quick and the approaching light was still green, I must have been about 50 feet from it and then disappointment, it turned red. With my momentum extinguished I took my first drink and waited.
Flat land huh? Much hillsI learned to negotiate the hills a bit and reminded myself to gear down as I approached the signals. At one point a bus was in my lane and there was plenty of traffic, he had his emergency lights blinking waiting for one of his customers to board the bus, I had no clue if this guy was going to hop on and the bus was going to try to make a right or change lanes on top of me and get out of the right turn lane. I chickened out and just slowed behind him and got on the sidewalk. It ended up he did go and change lanes and went straight, I'm kinda glad I didn't sneak in-between him and the cars to his left. After the bus there were about 6 more hills each with its own challenges. Once I approached Brea the bike lane ended and I had to think fast. I was about 30 minutes into my commute and I planned on to an hour I was thinking at that point it's going to end up being an hour by the time I get to work. Not having a bike lane meant I needed to go at the speed the cars were going at or risk getting ran over or passed. I hung a right and made my way down to a more major street called Imperial. I ended up right smack at the base of the biggest hill yet. To my right was a park and I could see a bridge, I've never been near this area but I took note of this in hopes I could use this shortcut later.
Smooth sailing to the endI went up the hill and finished the rest of the trip, total time, 55mins. The last 1.5 miles was pretty much down hill to my work, very little cars and no issues. Here is a link to my trip: [rnkpr.com/a6rifxf](http://rnkpr.com/a6rifxf)
What I learned during my trip to workTaking the lane isn't that big of a deal you just need to do it was authority and not be scared of the cars around you. The issue with the bus I'm not sure what I would have changed, I guess I could have jumped into the lane next to the right lane but I would have had to make sure I was in a lower gear so I could get up and go and not feel like I'm slowing down traffic. With the vast amount of texters, people curling their hair and making breakfast while driving I didn't want to take any major risks during my first ride.
What I changed on my trip homeI took a few mental notes during my ride out to work with the notion that I'd try to correct them on my trip back.
Ask a local - While at work I asked a coworker who lives in the area if there were in easier route to take on my way back, it ends up there was. Something called The Fullerton Loop Bike Path has this small section that crosses the local golf course but somewhat has a gnarly hill to climb but it shaved off 0.8miles from my trip.
Fullerton Loop Bike Trail looks like a pretty large trail around fullerton, the part I took was small as you can see above, it connects the north part of Puente to the South part. Oddly enough there is a Yelp page for it.
What else did I learn?Backpacks - Never wear a backpack, the heat your body makes (at the time of this writing I'm at 270 lbs) just makes your back hot. I'll be switching to a bike rack with panniers to hold my macbook air and change of clothes and such. The extra weigh just costs too much energy.
Wicking is the way to go - No joke, Wes was right, wearing wicking clothing is a must. Back to the body heat, with that heat comes sweat and… yeah. Wicking material (head to toe) would help with this and make it easier to keep cool. I’m looking for the best stuff to wear without breaking the bank.
Bike routes - Look folks, bike routes are your friend. No one needs to die trying to ride somewhere and if you aren’t experienced take the routes that have marked bike lanes.
Tire pressure - At the weight I am currently at every pound of air pressure in the tire is critical for me to keep going with ease, I going to need to play with finding the sweet spot, not too much air where it will pop but not so little where I’m riding a flat tire. With more trips like this I hope to shed those lbs and make this a moot point entirely. I may very well have picked the wrong tires to begin with, is high pressure yet thinner better? Should I look into those at a later date?