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   Comparison between miles ridden this year vs last year (less December).  I've cycled almost 1,000 miles more over the same period this year.  However, my summer miles are not as high as last year.  Seemed I started riding hard in the fall, and the vast majority of those miles were commuting to/from work.  The last 4 months have log over 2,000 miles alone.  I've estimated that in over those 4 months I saved at least 59 gallons of gasoline, or about $140.

December 05, 2017

A day of high wind winter cycling

Wind Gear

Wind Gear

   I knew today's ride was going to be a something and I wasn't let down.  In the morning the temperature was 32°F (0°C) and that would be the highest I would see it.  Winds were already at 23 MPH with gusts of 37 MPH.  I didn't so much bike to work as I did blow to work.  One of the gusts hit me from behind while I was crossing an open parking lot and it was like someone gave me a kick assist.  I made the 14.6 mile ride in 57 minutes which is a time usually reserved for nice summer weather.
   At work I listened as the wind tried to blow the building away.  At the end of the day it was time to take the real challenge and ride home.  Winds were pretty much directly from the west at 26 MPH gusting to 33 MPH.  I decided to try something new.  I wore both my thermal shirt and my cool weather shirt.  I have ridden with my thermal shirt at 25°F (-4°C) in some pretty good wind, but not in wind like this.  So I decided to double up to see how well that would work.
   In the past my only problem with really cold cycling has been my cheeks.  So I would be trying out a new neoprene face mask.  It just covers the front of the face, and ears.  There was just a cutouts for eyes and nose.  The mouth had a mesh like setup but I knew it would restrict my breathing too much.  So I cut out the mouth.  On inspection I could see I cut more than I wanted so I used some heavy black duct tape to build a wind guard.  In really strong winds and deep cold I have problems with my eyes watering.  So in addition to the face mask I put on a pair of goggles.
   Just loading up my bike was enough to freeze my fingers and it was only 27°F (-3°C)—a temperature I would normally be fine at.  Soon I was facing the wind, and it packed every bit the punch I figured it would.  Didn't take long before I was generating a good amount of body heat.  The wind was mostly head-on and even going through town I had a lot of resistance.  My face mask and goggle, however, were doing exactly as I had hopped.  It was cold out but my face was not. 
   There were a couple of problems with my setup though.  The face mask and goggles were too tight which was hurting my neck.  I also couldn't breath out of my nose at all.  That wasn't much of an issue since I breath out of my mouth when cycling.  Still, not the best setup.
   Tonight was sushi with Pokie so we enjoyed that.  Then it was back to riding home.  The temperature had fallen to 25°F (-4°C) but the winds had dropped down to 16 MPH.  My adjustments to my face mask and goggles worked and those were more comfortable.  My heavy thermal pants so far have been too warm for every ride, but I decided to try them with this wind.  Seems I have found a temperature they are functional.  They made a very good wind break.  With the double shirt and face mask my ride home was as comfortable as it can be in those temperatures.  I tried out a thin beanie to keep my head warm but ended up taking it off as it was too hot.
   My average riding speed in the winter is around 13-14 MPH.  On my morning ride I came in at 15.3 MPH.  On the way back my ride was at 10.4 MPH and 11.1 MPH.  Some of the strongest winds I have ever encountered on my work ride, but good to know I can work through them.  There is more cold weather to come and winds to go with it. 
   Pictured is me in my cycling gear after having returned home. My goggles have fogged up because I have stopped, but this is the outfit I successfully used to take on the wind.
  Ridiculously warm today for December.  The forecast had been calling for a very warm day and I really wanted to ride.  However, there was also rain forecast for the entire day.  I decided the temperatures were too nice and I would ride regardless.  When I looked outside about 5:30 am I could see the ground was wet but it wasn't raining.  I put on my rain gear just in case.  As I packed up my bike I heard it start to rain, and then downpour.  But by the time I got to the door with my bike to leave the rain had stopped.  As it turns out I wouldn't have rain the entire ride into work.  A few drops here and there, but not even drizzle.
   Despite being 6:00 am on a December morning the temperature was 50°F (10°C).  There was a 12 MPH wind from the south but still a very comfortable ride.  My thermal pants are too warm for 50°F so I decided to try a new pair of non-thermal spandex pants with my cycling shorts over top.  In my rain gear I was too warm, but I think this setup will be functional.
   When I left work the temperature had climbed to 61°F (16°C).  The wind was still from the south and had increased to 16 MPH with gusts of 21 MPH.  Since I was headed north-west I had a nice tailwind in places.  Haven't had a ride this nice since October and wasn't expecting one until April or March.
   Tomorrow the nice weather is over.  Temperatures will plummet tonight and winds are forecast to be vicious.  I plan to ride as you have to take the good with the bad.
   I have a window to fix in a now vacant bedroom upstairs.  It broke because the counter weights were not attached and the window came crashing down.  I noticed there were two screws and seams and decided to investigate further.  With some work I found there is a pullout one can use to access the counter weights in the windows.  So I took a trip to the hardware store to pick up sash cord.  I learned sash cord is the name of the rope used on window counter weights.  Since I have to fix the glass in this window and it will take some time for the window putty and paint to dry I decided to try fixing another window.  It just took a few minutes but I had the counter weight reattached and the window gently opening and closing.  Worked so well I went downstairs and fixed the counter weights on the window in the living room.
   While I can't be sure I am guessing the counter weight in this picture hasn't seen daylight in many more years than I have been alive.

December 01, 2017

Happy December

Pokie and Que

Pokie and Que

   There is no snow on the ground but it is December.  This morning's ride was rather chilly at 23°F (-5°C).  I wore my new thermal pants and again found them too warm even for this temperature.  Luckily the morning's ride just took me downtown for breakfast after which I changed into my normal thermal pants.  By this time the temperature had risen to 27°F (-3°C).  By noon when it was time to go home the temperature climbed to 50°F (10°C) and I rode in a light shirt. 
   The last couple of days I've been working on a new route home.  Stopping on State Street causes problems of cool down.  When it is cold once I stop I don't want to start again.  So I have been bypassing my normal pizza stop and riding directly home after work.  There are a couple of problems with this ride.  One is the large hill by Vilas Park.  When it is cold the climb causes me to sweat a lot which then becomes cold during the remaining ride.  Another is the intersection of Edgewood Avenue and Monroe Street.  Monroe is busy around 5:00 pm and there is no light at this intersection.  There is never a great time to cross as traffic is continuous and cars line up trying to cross themselves.  So I decided to see about another route.
   Online mapping software plotted a course home using Drake Street.  I tried this ride on Wednesday with two issues.  First was crossing John Nolen Drive.  At 5:00 pm this road is very busy.  I crossed at the intersection of East Lake Side Street which does have a light, but the light is quite long and fairly busy with traffic itself.  The second problem was crossing Park Street.  I turned on Drake from Shore Drive and there is no light at this intersection.  Park is also quite busy in the evening, especially at this point shortly after it has merged with Fish Hatchery Road.  The remainder of the ride was the good new, however.  Drake Street has a light to cross Monroe.  At this intersection Drake ends and the road curves to the left and right.  On the left is West Lawn and the following block after the Monroe intersection is Harrison.  That leads to a bridge over the southwest commuter bike path and shortly after that Rowley Road.  Rowley takes me to South Allen which is part of my normal ride to work.  There I can cross Regent Street at the light, take Kendell (which is a bike boulevard) to Highland Avenue.  Highland crosses University Drive with a light, and continues under Campus Drive.  Directly after the Campus Drive ramps is the bike trail that leads most of the way home.
   Yesterday I found the solution to both of my problems with the ride.  I can cross under John Nolen Drive using the Wingra Creek Bike Path using the north side of the creek (I usually come in on the south side).  There is an immediate right after John Nolen that leads to Sayle Street, and this street runs a block to East Lakeshore from yesterday's route.  Then on Shore Drive I can on Erin Street which is two blocks before Drake.  Erin has a stoplight and being by the hospital the light is fairly quick.  After crossing I can take Brooks to Drake and finish the rest of the ride.
   The new route is almost exactly 14 miles from work to home which is shorter than my ride in. 
   Although it was initially forecast earlier in the week to rain today the forecast gradually moved the rain to just the early morning hours.  This morning the roads were damp from the evening's rain but there was no precipitation.  I picked up a new pair of thermal cycling pants I figured I could couple with the other ones for really cold weather and decided to try them out in this ride.  The temperature this morning was 39°F (4°C) and a strong tailwind of 13 MPH (22.5 kph).  It was insane how much heat they held in and was baking in those pants within minutes of departure.  These will clearly work in cold weather and today obviously wasn't cold enough.
   It was important I rode today after missing Monday.  The ride home this afternoon completed 508.1 miles for the month of November making this the second highest month of cycling in my history.  It comes just after last month in which I logged 605.3 and beat September's 497.8 and Augusts 471.4.  Although there were some unseasonably warms days this month there were also some fairly cold days as well.  The fact I was able to log this many miles means my efforts to dress effectively for cold weather have been paying off.  I've ridden 2,082.6 miles over the last 4 months which is a little more than half of the 4,119.5 miles I've ridden so far this year.
   December begins tomorrow and the temperatures will continue to drop.  I didn't expect to see as many miles in November as I got, but they were lower than October.  In December it should be harder to ride as much.  However, I see that I need 380 miles in order to finish the year with 4,500 miles and I think this is a goal.  That means I need to commute 3 to 4 times a week for the month to make this goal, and I think that is functional.  Tomorrow is forecast to hit an unseasonable 50°F (10°C) and that is easy cycling weather.  So I think I will ride and give December a good start and finish another 4 of 5 ride day week.


   At work I have been working with the Atmel Xmega E series microcontroller.  I really like that device.  The the microcontroller's Analog to Digital Converter (ADC) has build-in averaging for up to 1024 samples.  On this project the analog data is very slow moving, so I don't need samples all that quickly.  Thus I can use the averaging fetcher as a low-pass filter without having to do anything in software.  In addition the ADC can also be setup to use averaging to extend the 12-bit range to 16-bits if 4 or more samples are averaged.  So I get a more accurate ADC reading and hardware low-pass filtering.  Nice Atmel.

   Yesterday I took a 26 mile ride because I found that I had just 105 miles to end November with 500 miles cycled.  My commutes to and from work give me 29 miles, and 3 days of commuting would take care of 87 of those miles.  It was forecast to rain on Thursday, the last day of the month, but today, tomorrow and Wednesday all look clear.  In fact, unseasonably warm weather means the afternoon is forecast to be in the 50s.  So my ride yesterday meant I only need 79 miles for the week.  Should have been no problem.  Except this Monday lived up to its ignominy trope.
   The night before I had packed my cycling bag, and prepped the kitchen so I didn't have as much cleanup.  I had my bike packed up and ready to ride on schedule after a fairly efficient morning routine.  As I started rolling my bike back I felt a lot of resistance.  When I looked the I saw the front tire was completely flat.  There was noting I could do.  I didn't have time to change the inner-tube and I since I had ridden on a perfectly inflated tire yesterday I wasn't willing to risk pumping it up and giving it a shot.  I had to change into work clothing, put the tire in my car and drive to work.  The day was as beautiful as forecast and when I left the building I was again peeved I wasn't riding.  I drove home and just down the street to my normal bike shop.  When I got there I discovered they had closed their doors.  The shop was empty.  Latter I read the owner had closed the doors on the yesterday (!) after 15 years of operation.  As I went home without a repaired tire I could see an amazing sunset taking place. 
   I tried searching for the leak by submersing the inner tube in water but found nothing.  I also found no signs of any damage to the tire or anything sticking through.  This matter required an expert.  So I found another bike shop and had them take a look.  They found a small leak and tinny piece of glass embedded in the tire.  By the time I had a repaired tire it was dark and I had other things to do.  No cycling for me. 
   The only positive thing was the forecast for Thursday had reduced the likelihood of rain.