Saturday, January 27, 2007

A rainy Saturday...

I rode to work only twice this week, Tuesday and Wednesday. Monday had ice and snow on the roads, but although there was still ice over the Bird Creek bridge those days I commuted, it was still passable. The bridge is one lane and probably close to a quarter of a mile across. There were two tire tracks and I rode in them. Trust me, skinny tires do not like to encounter deep snow or ice!

But I felt puny Thursday and Friday. I've been getting leg cramps at night and it's difficult to sleep. Experience has taught me that the cramps come from dehydration and fatigue, so I'm trying to stay hydrated. That means drinking a tall glass of water before bed, and that means another sleep interruption in the middle of the night. I can't win.

The other thing that helps to avoid cramping is keeping my legs warm, so I'm sleeping in sweatpants. Actually, even on a warm day, my legs will cramp if they're subjected to a sudden temperature change. So I pay attention to wind speed and direction. I can be nicely warmed up, turn into the wind, and the muscles cramp.

Usually, it's the left one that cramps. It was broken in a car crash back in 1983. The tibia was held together by a stainless steel plate that ran from just below the knee to just above the ankle. The center section was a bone graft. It was broken again in another crash about 10 years ago. The leg works well as a barometer, and I can predict the weather with fair accuracy.

So that brings us to this rainy Saturday. What to do? What to do? I awoke early, partly due to the aching, and partly due to one of the elderly cats who decided she'd gone without attention for too long. She sat in the bathroom howling until I got up. We are not on good terms just now.

The house is cold, so I'm having another cup of coffee. It's my inspiration. The Wally Crankset stories come from an over-indulgence in caffeine, as my feverish imagination spins along on a tidal wave of coffee. Fritz gave me an idea for a story, but it may be a while before I get around to writing it.

Meanwhile, here's a piece from the Red Dirt Pedalers newsletter:

Stoopid advice for cyclists.

We’ve all encountered well meaning but uninformed people who, when they discover we’re cyclists, suddenly become wellsprings of ‘advice’ about road riding. Now, many of these folks haven’t been on a bicycle since their grade school days and their learning curve flat lined back then. In fact, most of the advice I’ve received this way came from various elderly relatives. It’s respectful to listen carefully, nod sagely now and then, and wait for them to tire out and take a nap.

Come to think of it, that’s the strategy my own kids employ these days.

“Ride facing traffic.” I’ve read of an alleged bicycle ‘safety’ movie from the 50s or 60s that preached this dubious advice. But I’ve never seen it or even seen a title for it. Yet many people claimed they were exposed to this in school, along with duck and cover drills, and the CONELRAD system. If you don’t know what these are, you’re just too young.

I broke this rule once, riding against traffic for miles as I searched in vain for my lost wallet. Eventually, the wallet returned in the mail, sans cash and credit cards. Some of my jerseys now have Velcro tabs to keep the pockets closed. Sure, there used to be some elastic there, but it’s long gone. Elastic and I fight an on-going battle. The elastic always loses. This is why I prefer shorts with drawstrings. It prevents surprises for motorists and confrontations with the local constabulary.

“Ride on the sidewalk/on the trail/in the bike lane.” The unstated corollary is, “Don’t ride on MY road!” For cyclists themselves, this is often coupled with the you-can’t-get-there-from-here mentality, as in, “You can’t get there from here ‘cause there’s no bike lane!” If I’d followed this ‘advice’, I wouldn’t have been able to reach my grandmother’s house with all those cookies, pies, and fresh-baked bread. And she would have been deprived of another chance to tell me about the dangers of riding a bicycle on the road. I couldn’t deny her – or the cookies – that opportunity.

“Ride like you’re invisible.” This is the worst of the lot! Imagine telling a motorist to drive like he’s invisible. He’d yield to any traffic that could pose a conflict. He’d slow and stop unpredictably in response. He’d be a nuisance and a danger to those around him. So why advise a cyclist to do so?

Instead, tell him to ride like a big, pudgy guy with baggy shorts and change falling from his jersey pockets. Motorists notice people like that. Maybe they just notice the money. My own daughter, for instance, could spot a loose quarter falling from my pocket nearly a hundred yards away, and I think she’s fairly typical. A twenty-dollar bill would show up on her radar screen at over a mile.

But those sagging, just-about-to-fall-off shorts are the real attention getters. Motorists want to look away. They really do! But they simply can’t tear their eyes away from what could be a major catastrophe. It’s like watching a really bad horror movie, simultaneously hoping it will get better and fearing it won’t. It’s an experience both fascinating and painful, like watching Paris Hilton try to act. And the best part is when it’s over.

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Blogger Paul Tay said...

I read somewhere caffiene improves IQ. Maybe that's why Santa's been rolling. I drink lotsa green tea.

Santa cramped up big time, while stalking Biker-Chicken all over town and right up to his house. Most of the roads near his house are two-laners.

I can understand why he rides against traffic, gutter trolling. Cagers in the area are vicious, unwilling to just enjoy the show, while Santa trudges up yet ANOTHER hill.

Santa learned quickly to roll in the DRIVER side of the lane, allowing the vicious cager to pass on the right, with part of their vehicles rolling on the grassy shoulder.

If they have to pass viciously, might as well make it easier for them judge distance on the LEFT, next to the driver.

After debriefing Santa about his interaction with B-Chicken, I believe B-Chicken is suffering from a mild post traumatic. He seems to have a HUGE phobia of being hit from behind, and don't much like anything close to his six, even a bicycle.

Whenever the dynamic duo rolled vehicular-style, Santa ran interference for him from the cagers. Kinda like the B-Chicken bodyguard.

If Potter knew, he wouldn't be such a mean stick-in-the-mud about B-Chicken. We should take care of our own, NOT marginalize them, because we ourselves are marginalized.

Back in my USCF days, I've rolled with the big boyz, cruising at 50kph, just a quick spit away from all the other Speedy Gonzalez in the peloton. Santa and B-Chicken was rolling at all of maybe 25kph, probably less than that, and, B-Chicken was like freaking out that Santa was right next to his hip.

You are invited to roll with Santa tommorrow after church. Forecast says sunny skies, and very light NW winds. Should be another great day for stalking B-Chicken on Memorial.

He HATES Santa stalking. What can he do about it? Could always call the cops. If Santa didn't like B-Chicken, Santa wouldn't bother to give B-Chicken a HARD time.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Shawn Kielty said...

My aged mother says that if you have cramps then you need more calcium. ... she claims, that if you look at your fingernails and they have white spots in them -- then you need more calcium.

My advice to road riders is always the same: be safe (meaning -- try not to die).

2:11 AM  
Blogger Shawn Kielty said...

PS -- your onion soup recipe looks good -- I just need to go out and shoot a buffalo, I mean deer, to test it out --

I am going to try it. Can I post it on my site?

2:15 AM  
Blogger Ed W said...

Shawn - my fingernails do have white spots, but they come from small accidents involving tools. When you work with your hands, you're bound to get banged up now and then. Mary's noticed various cuts and bruises, and asked me how it happened. Honestly, many times I just don't know. When I'm concentrating on a job, the minor cuts and scrapes go unnoticed until I clean up afterward and they start to hurt.

Now, as for the onion soup recipe - feel free to use it. It's hardly anything special, but it does taste good!

10:04 AM  
Blogger thethinker said...

Haha, ride like you're invisible? That makes lots of sense. It'll work well once the cars start believing you're invisible.

By the way, it's amazing that you still ride your bike in all kinds of weather. Do you ever get tired of it and just take the bus?

10:33 AM  
Blogger Ed W said...

In the 2005-2006 academic year, I rode more because we had only one car and my daughter used it for school. This year we have two cars (actually 3, but one is not running), tempting me to drive to work more often. And I will drive if the weather is rotten, as witnessed by the ice storm that covered most of NE Oklahoma for over a week.

As for public transit - there isn't any from this suburb into Tulsa. I've heard that Tulsa Transit was studying the idea of service between Owasso, the airport, and the huge industrial park to our west, but it hasn't moved past the study stage. The city buses have bike racks on the front, so multi-mode travel is possible.

Finally, when I lived in Pittsburgh, there was streetcar service from downtown into the south hills. I loved riding the streetcars. But the cost of obtaining right-of-way and constructing a similar system here would be prohibitive.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Paul Tay said...

I have been checking out my fingernails and they do have white spots on them. So, yes, I'm gonna upgrade my Ca intake.

Santa rolled to 71st/Memorial this afternoon. Didn't find B-Chicken to stalk. But, the Santa Task Force did issue two tickets: "ride right," and unsafe lane change.

As usual, I will be Santa's pro se counsel, defending against the charges to the FULLEST.

If Santa don't get a ticket on a ride through UDE territory, he WOULDN'T be doing his JOB.

If you've ever been asked by your USMC platoon to draw enemy fire, you'd get the idea of what Santa's doin'.

C-Dog, how come you were NO show? Cramps or are ya just CHICKEN?

3:10 PM  

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