Cyclist down…temporarily (I hope)…

So, this past Saturday I had my first major tumble on the bike.  I was winding down a spectacular ride from the city north to Woodacre, CA and back.  I’d had a really good day of climbing (having conquered White’s Hill – between Fairfax and Woodacre – for the first time), felt a lot better about my eating and drinking during the ride, and was enjoying the fantastic weather.  That all changed faster than I could’ve expected.

I wound up going down on the bridge on the way back (yes, if you were on the bridge mid afternoon, that was me that bit the dust spectacularly).  There’s a particularly narrow section of the bridge that seems even more narrow when packed with cyclists traveling both directions.  I wound up too close to the hurricane fence on my side – my handlebars got too close to the fence and caught, which turned my wheel to the right pretty quickly.  The bike stopped, and I wound up going over my handlebars.  I’m pretty sure at least one foot was still clipped in, because my bike was pointed the wrong way once I stood it up.

I was pretty shaken up, and it took me a few minutes to get my bearings (thankfully, one of the AIDS/LifeCycle Training Ride Leaders was not far behind me and stuck with me while I regained my composure.  I was able to get in touch with Allan, and he headed out to pick me up – once we got the bike (and me) loaded into his truck, we headed to CPMC Davies to the ER to get me checked out.

After some time, I was discharged with a severely bruised right hand, and an acute radial head fracture in my left arm.  Also, I’m pretty scraped up and bruised in spots.  My bike didn’t fare much better, it looks like – the front rim was bent, and both it and the bike frame are currently at the Valencia Cyclery repair shop getting inspected for damage.

Ultimately, I’m thankful that the accident wasn’t more severe.  It’s going to take a little time to get back to normal – patience is something I’m going to have to really cultivate in the next few weeks, so that I can heal and get back on the bike soon.  Cycling has become really important to me – not just because of the training I’m doing for the ride in June, but because of the friends I’ve made and the sense of community I feel apart of now.  While I’m recouperating, I’ll try and focus on cycling safety and nutrition in my posts – two things I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about over the past few days…

Here’s a picture from Saturday, pre-incident – a reminder of a fantastic day, and motivation to heal quickly and get back out on the road…

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Random Thoughts on a Wednesday…

I’ll likely post more than a few of these over the lifetime of this blog, so bear with me…

First off, Tour of California.

Looks like they’ve unveiled the routes for all the stages this week.  Bicycling has a good course analysis – each of the stages looks to have its own unique challenges.  Personally, I’m looking forward to the second half of the tour, when the stages move north to the Bay Area.  If I’m lucky, I might be able to catch the start of the Stage 8 (it starts in San Francisco).  If I go, I’ll have camera in tow and will be sure to share pictures!

Second, bonking.

So, yeah, I had my first real brush with the dreaded ‘bonking’ this past weekend.  If you’d asked me on Sunday, I would’ve vehemently denied it.  Me?  Bonk?  Why, that’s just absurd!  I mean, yes, I did make a wrong turn that wound up adding three miles to my route, but that couldn’t have been because I was bonking….no sir…..

For the uninitiated, ‘bonking’ is how cyclists refer to hypoglycemia (medical term for abnormally low levels of glucose).  For a detailed explanation of ‘the bonk’, check out this blog post from the ‘Tuned In To Cycling’ blog.

What I’ve realized over the past few days is that ‘bonking’ is hard to see when it’s happening to you.  I found out that it makes me crabby, and that it lets loose all sorts of loud mouthed naysayers in my head.  It also lowers my route sheet comprehension.  I’ve spent a few evenings so far looking into proper pre and post ride nutrition, and will be approaching my rides this weekend a little differently in hopes of avoiding a repeat.

Third, cycling computers, or Where in the World is Clarke?

I got word earlier this week that my Garmin Edge 510 bundle was finally in stock and being shipped from SlipStreamSports.  It should be delivered in time for me to use it this coming weekend.  Totally excited to see how I can use it to tweak my performance – I wound up getting the bundle that includes the heart monitor strap and speed/cadence sensor, so I should be good to go.  The 510 also integrates with the Garmin Connect app on my iPhone – it allows me to update my location in realtime, and lets others see my progress.  Not sure who will want to watch me training rides, but you never know.

Fourth, the rides ahead…

This weekend will include our first team fundraiser (on Friday night at the Lookout in SF from 5pm – 9pm, come by!).  Saturday, I’ll be joining some teammates for a ride (it sounds like the Tiburon Loop, but I think there’s still some debate), and then Sunday I’ll be headed south to ride with the Awesome Ahead gang.  Not sure what my mileage will be, but I’m planning on having a great time.

Hope you all have a fantastic rest of your week, and weekend!

Amazing Weekend of training rides!

This weekend was full of bike riding.  After a low key Friday night that included baking cookies to hand out to fellow riders, I prepped my gear and headed to bed early.  Saturday morning, I headed down to Mountain View to meet up for the ride led by Chris Thomas.  Our route included one big climb, up Parrot Dr.  The climb was really three separate climbs, each challenging in it’s own way.  The view from the top was pretty amazing (see below):

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This ride is the longest I’ve done so far, Strava logged it at 58.5 miles – you can check out my ride stats here.

Sunday, I headed back down south, this time to Sunnyvale to ride with Bob McDiarmid and the Awesome Ahead crew on their ‘Red Dress Day in February’ ride.  The route today was 40 miles, and included even more climbing.  The pic below is from the top of Elena Rd (or, at least the end of the big climb up Elena, there were still a few rollers to get through after this).  That’s a riding buddy, Gary, who was keeping pace with me for the first half of the ride, but totally dropped me after the second rest stop…

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Today’s ride, even though it was shorter and not as difficult, was even more challenging – mainly because I wasn’t fully recovered from Saturday.  I realized early on that I wasn’t going to set any speed records today, and settled into a mindset to not quit on any hills and finish the ride.  I succeeded on both points, but did have a slight navigation error at the end, which resulted in about 3 extra miles.  You can check out my Strava data for today’s ride here.

Now, I’m crashed out on the couch, thinking back on the rides and the amazing people I’ve become friends with because of these weekends spent training.  Hope that you all have a great week – check back next weekend to see where my bike takes me!

Time to start a new adventure…

A little over four months ago, I did something that has changed my life.

Well, two things.

I signed up for AIDS LifeCycle 12, and then I went out and bought a bike.  I’d been contemplating participating in the LifeCycle for a few years – I’ve known more than a few people that have participated in the ride (both as riders and as roadies) and have felt like it would be an amazing experience.  Back in September, over coffee with a good friend, I realized that I was holding myself back.  I headed home from that conversation and signed up immediately – the next weekend, I spent two days test riding bicycles in an effort to find ‘the one’.  In a lot of ways, it felt like selecting a wand for Hogwarts (pardon the Harry Potter reference, but it’s true – in a lot of ways, the bike picks the rider as much as the rider picks the bike).  I added all the options I would need to start training and bought some basic gear, and signed up for my first training ride.  There really was no looking back at that point.

Since then, I’ve logged well over 500 miles riding all over the Bay Area.  I’ve gained a few scars on my knees, and shed more than a few pounds.  I’ve met all sorts of people – each one amazing and wonderful – and in some cases, great friends as of this blog post.  I’ve learned the joys of chamois butt’r (butt butter to those in the know), lost my fear of wearing spandex, become better at ‘clipping in’ (I hesitate to say I’ve mastered it, because…well…pride goeth and all that), and learned how to change a tire.  I still have lots to learn, and many more roads to travel.  I’ll be updating here pretty regularly with ride recaps, thoughts about pro cycling, and more than a few political posts.  Come back and follow my progress as I work to become a better cyclist and learn a thing or two about life, hopefully.