Wednesday Jun 29, 2005

I think I've developed a phobia

I've never liked dogs — that's just the way I feel. But I don't have any problem with people who keep their dogs responsibly. If someone keeps their dog leashed when it is off their property, and picks up the poop, then that's fine. I do get cross about dogs which cause a nuisance - ones that roam around the neighborhood pooping on people's front yards, or, to the point of this blog, hassling people going about their legitimate business. There are a number of roads I simply don't ride any more, because people have dogs that like to chase cyclists, and they don't keep them under control. It is not pleasant to have to either outrun a beast, or stop and face it down. I know some methods for dealing with dogs. For instance, saying "bad dog, go home" in a firm voice. I think that only works on dogs that are used to being controlled, but have got out accidentally. It certainly doesn't deter the repeat offenders. Then there is squirting with a water bottle, or a self-defense spray. I used to carry a pepper spray, but I seem to have misplaced it. In my experience water doesn't tend to do much. Finally, there's always stopping and putting the bike between me and the dog. Sometimes the dog only wants to chase, and won't do anything when it catches you — and you can fend it off with the bike if it has other ideas.

Unfortunately, about 18 months ago, I was chased by a dog while out riding, and the wretched thing caught me and bit me. It was more upsetting than actually dangerous - it barely broke the skin, and the bruise faded in a few days. The owners were right there (the dog was being transferred from car to house, and slipped its leash), and they assured me the dog had had all its vaccinations, so I didn't have to worry about rabies in this instance. Since then, I have been extremely cautious about dogs. If I see a large dog loose, I won't even go near it. I turn round and ride slowly away if it hasn't noticed me, or stop well away from it and wait for it to lose interest if it has. This seems to be a perfectly rational response to my experience, and nothing to worry about.

But this morning, I was riding along in our neighborhood, and a small yappy dog, possibly a corgi, jumped out from behind a hedge, and started chasing me. I freaked out, and started yelling at the top of my voice, and performing a Cipollini-like sprint to try to drop the little excresence. And I made a left at the end of the street without even looking. I could have been killed — but at the time it seemed like being hit by a truck was less of a concern than a 14" high dog catching up with me. Now I know the thing startled me, jumping out from under cover. But it seems like my reaction was way out of proportion to the actual threat. Phobic, in fact. Worrying.

Incidentally, according to my gps that corgi can run at 19 mph. Pretty impressive for something with 6" long legs.


Sunday Jun 26, 2005

Half-way through the year

It is the end of week 26, so I thought I'd review my stats for the year to date. I've been back to cycling seriously for three years now. The last two full years, I did 5200 and 5600 miles. I had hoped to do much more this year - maybe 7500 miles. But so far, I've only done 2636 miles. It seems unlikely that I'll make 7500, although not impossible. I should be able to get to 6 213.7 miles - 10000 km - which at least would be a nice round number.

I've spent about 176 hour riding, and climbed about 144000 feet. These figures don't include the first 25 days of the year, since I wasn't recording that data until I got my gps


Tuesday Jun 21, 2005

Son of "Plastic Fantastic"

Earlier this year, I moved the bike Chris blogged about to "hot spare" status, and replaced it with a new bike. What did I get? Since I was so happy with the eight years of faithful service Plastic Fantastic gave me, and so underwhelmed by my previous attempt to replace it (see the banner image at the top of my blog), I went with the equivalent bike from Trek's current lineup. It is a Trek Madone 5.2 SL, with the Ultegra triple group. I did consider getting the 5.9 with the Dura Ace compact drive, but I need that 32" low gear to get up some of my favourite hills. I have about 2000 miles on the bike now, and I'm very happy with it.

Trek Madone 5.2 SL


Sunday Jun 12, 2005

What's the steepest paved public road in Palm Springs?

Since Indian Canyon Rd. (the way out to my 30 and 50 mile loops) was closed again due to sandstorms, I had to take a southerly route today. (Admittedly I could have taken a different road north, but riding in heavy blowing sand is no fun at all. I swear, it's like living in a Frank Herbet novel round here sometimes.) So I decided to string together all the little hills within the city limits of Palm Springs, and see how much climbing I got. While I was out riding, I spotted something I'd never ridden up before, and decided to give it a try. I think that W. Cantina Way has just taken the title of steepest paved public road away from S. Araby Dr.. My gps says that Cantina was about 22%, whereas Araby was only 16%. In fact, that means parts of "the" hill are steeper than Araby, which surprises me slightly.

Anyway, I had a nice couple of hours of ride, with 2300' (700m) of climbing in 28 miles (45 km). Here's the profile:

ride profile

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Thursday Jun 09, 2005

Cycling is my wonder-drug [1]

Hey, spammers — I don't need your snake oil. I've got the real thing! I've got cycling!


  • helped me lose weight fast. 12 hours cycling a week is over 7000 calories burned - that's two pounds of fat.
  • keeps my blood sugar under control. Exercise increases the sensitivity of skeletal muscle to insulin.
  • fixed my insomnia.
  • relieves mild depression. Nothing lifts my mood like the endorphine hit from a good hard hill climb.
  • safely suppresses appetite. I have documentation that shows on average I eat less on days I go cycling
  • makes food taste better!

and no, I don't need any V1GERA or whatever the current deliberate mis-spelling is...


[1] I am not a physician, and this is not medical advice. Consult your primary care doctor before starting or modifying an exercise program.

Monday Jun 06, 2005

"The" hill

After seeing Trevor and Chris talking about hills recently, I thought I'd post the profile of my local training hill. There are plenty of hills here in the Coachella Valley, in fact flat routes are in short supply, but this is what I mean when I say the hill. Since I dropped my parents off at the airport this morning quite early, I had time to go and ride this before work. It is a simple out-and-back route, through housing estates for the first 3.4 miles (5.4 km), and then up to the base station of the Palm Springs Aerial Tram. This part of the ride is 3.6 miles (5.8 km), and goes up the aluvial fan which spreads out from Chino Canyon on the east side of Mt. San Jacinto. There is 1,900' (580m) of climbing total. I usually consider the climb to have two parts. The 3 miles up to the first of the parking lots and the "Welcome" sign forms part one. This averages around 9%, with a total of about 1500' (460m) climbing. The remaining 400' (120m) come in the last 0.6 miles (1 km) for a gradient of 12%, with some spots hitting 20% or so. That's the bit that I find ridiculously steep. In fact, I sometimes turn around at the welcome sign if it is hot or my legs already hurt.

To give an idea of how slowly I ride uphill, I did the climb from the 3.4 mile mark to the welcome sign in 38:36 and the really hard bit in 10:21. Of course it's a bit faster on the way home...

Elevation profile

Tuesday May 17, 2005

Bike to work week

Today, I left my house, rode my bike for an hour, and ended up at my office. I didn't use any other form of transportation. Does that count as biking to work? I'm not sure, since I work from home...

Wednesday May 11, 2005

Hello world!

This is really just a test post. But so that it isn't completely content-free, if you like climbing hills on your bike, and you are in Southern California, try the Breathless Agony ride. I did it this weekend, and it was a lot of fun. Except for the weather, which was rather cold, particularly on the descent. They run it every year.

Here's the elevation profile

Graph of altitude vs distance




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