Thursday, August 10, 2006

I'm Commuting - I'm offically a FREAK.

I started riding my road bike to work, at least half way to work. There is no way to get to the Park-n-Ride unless I ride the freeway, I'm not going to do that. So I load up my truck, ride 7 miles to the Park-N-Ride on the Parks HWY. Then I ride from there to my office 7.65 miles. It's gots some fairly decent hills up into Wasilla. I'm enjoying it but a few things would make it better. The bike path needs to be swept badly. There are sections where you can't even tell it's a paved path, it's so covered with gravel from 4-wheeler's shooting it all over the place when they spin out. There also is a 90 degree corner, which is actually shared with part of an on-ramp to freeway. The vehicles cut the corner, there is no more "lane" paint, so they just ride right onto the path. On my ride home, I come down a hill, opposite direction of the traffic on this on-ramp. Vehicles can't see me coming at this 90 degree corner, they are concentrating on driving. So I quickly figured out that I have to actually STOP, right at the end of this nice long hill, look for on-coming vehicles before continuing on. I don't blame the drivers, it's a bad design to combine a bike path and 90 degree turn onto an on-ramp. I called the State Dept of Transporation, asking if they will sweep off the bike path. I got a feeble response, I don't think it will happen. I'm going to see if Captain Balance might run his snowplow over the worst area, I think the gravel is too thick, big and heavy for a sweeper. It would fling golf ball size rocks like crazy. We will see. Maybe I will just get out the snow shovel and spend the weekend shoveling gravel.
I also need to figure out a better way to carry my lunch and clothing. I don't like the backpack. It's awkward and heavy, depending of how much food I bring for lunch :)

I have had some interesting comments from my co-workers since I started this. One lady told me I was "inspirational". I said "Really???" I wouldn't have thought of that. Most people come up to me and ask me "WHY??", I just say I'm a freak, willing to give up an hour of sleep so I can ride and they seem satified with that - Ha. Another lady, who's son was a pro-road racer in Europe and a long time road rider regularly asks me where I'm riding. I have discovered a few nice route for lunch-time, weekend long rides and quick hill rides. After hearing about my current commuting route, she thanked me for sharing my routes and said she likes the way I think. She said she never even considered the routes I take and she is going to check out a few more of them. The reality of Alaska, there aren't many routes, you have to look for them. She told me she has started riding more since discovering these routes. Cool!

The weather is really bad tonight and not looking good for tomorrow so I'm not sure if I will ride tomorrow. It was supposed to pour rain today, so I drove to work, it rained for an hour then nothing. I was a bit bothered so I put the bike on the trainer and did an easy short session.

I'm a little concerned with my road bike pounding over the potholes and cracks in the sidewalks/cross walks in Wasilla. I try to "float" my bike over as much as possible but there are still quite a bit of hits. I don't want to damage it. I wish I had a cyclocross or some other commuter type.

I was inspecting my bike a bit today as I was putting it in the trainer. I noticed my rear tire was toward the left chainstay. Turns out my rear tire skewer on the right side was not all the way in the dropout. Now how did that happen?? I haven't taken off my rear tire EVER that I can remember (no flats!!!). So I got it all where it should be, had to then adjust the rear brake so it didn't run on the newly centered rim. I will have to tighten up the quick release, maybe it loosened up with all the riding.

I give my commuting a 4 BUG rating. I need to also figure out a way to keep my hair from getting a terminal case of helmet/helmet liner head. It's tough being a girl sometimes - :)

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