First Person

September 8, 2008

An account of the Faster Mustache 24 race from the point of view of the male lap leader, Eddie O. He did 371.93 miles in 24 hours. I am in awe of these maniacs.


24 Hours of Cycling Madness

September 7, 2008

So my friend Emily just came tops among female riders in the Faster Mustache 24, completing more laps than any other woman. That’s an insane 24 hours of Atlanta urban cycling. She rode twenty circuits of this route with no sleep, amounting to 240-something miles. Lunacy!

This is what someone looks like after they’ve been riding a bike for 24 hours:

Oddly normal, given the circumstances. Here’s her amazingly glorious bike:

Riders were trackable live on Google Earth, as they carried RFID cards and had to swipe in at a number of locations around town. Here’s a snapshot from this morning:

Now this wasn’t necessarily 24 hours of solid riding. Just a race to complete the most number of laps possible within a 24 hour period. So, if you wanted, you could rest, eat pizza, take a nap, have a beer, etc. But if you’re serious about winning, obviously you want to do as little of that as possible. Hence Emily’s insane 24 hours of riding, with no sleep. Shivering madness, I tell you! But also totally cool and an amazing achievement. Especially four months after back surgery.

The atmosphere at the finishing point today (Johnny’s Pizza) was a glorious mix of exhaustion, drunkenness and bike nerdiness:

And insanity. Did I mention the insanity?

Anyway, congratulations to Emily on a majorly ass-kicking achievement. All due, in her own words, to “pure stubbornness.”

Efficiency, if you don’t get a flat

March 4, 2008

Oh bollocks! My quest for a weekday ten miles was thwarted by another flat. Close inspection led to the inevitable conclusion that something pointy was lodged in my tire. So it’s new tire time tomorrow.

That’s two thwarted rides in three days. However, this quotation makes me feel better:

“A bicyclist is by far the most efficient traveler — three times more than a horse, five times more than a car, ten times more than a sea gull or a dog or a jet plane, and one hundred times more than a blowfly or a bumblebee.” — Bicycling! (1973) (as quoted in David B. Perry’s Bike Cult, p. 189).

Tube Mishaps

March 2, 2008

The tire gods really haven’t been smiling upon Lady MacSquish and I this weekend. Not only have we each had a flat, but we were also semi-stranded yesterday thanks to a weird mutant tube.

The weather has been gorgeous, so we decided to head out to Stone Mountain, Atlanta’s own Confederate Mount Hatemore (except that, thankfully, the town itself is now 70% African-American, despite the not so benevolent granite visages of various Dixie secessionist leaders looming over the municipality). We were having a lovely ride, generally kicking ass, when about a mile out of the town of Stone Mountain LMS got a flat. No problem! We both carry tubes and CO2. Except that her spare tube was comically much larger than her tire. Not through buying the wrong size, but through some sort of strange mutation. It was also freakishly thick on one side when inflated. My spare tube was no good either, as my wheels are thinner.

Luckily our friend N. graciously drove out to rescue us in her tiny Nissan. Which, to my delight, managed to contain our two bikes and all three people. And although she got there as fast as she could, we still ended up feeling pretty forlorn (and chilly) as we sat by the side of the road for 45 minutes. It turns out that wearing lycra sort of sucks when you’re not cycling, it’s windy and the sun is going down.

We did get a chance to observe the camaraderie (or lack thereof) of our fellow cyclists. About 1 in 10 people asked if we were okay or if there’s anything that we needed. But the rest either smiled benignly or averted their eyes. One person in an SUV also asked if we needed help. We did look like we were clearly waiting for someone, but still… I’m a little surprised that more people didn’t ask if we were alright. Those who did tended to be the more serious-looking cyclists, rather than people out for a short spin on their mountain bikes.

And then today, on the way home from a solo ride out almost to Stone Mountain, I got a flat myself. This time, though, my tube was the right size, and I had the tire changed in 15 minutes or so. Which meant that I felt smug. Oily, but smug.

Taking up space

February 3, 2008

So after a brief winter hiatus (where I substituted eating for bicycling as my main form of exercise), I’m getting back into commuting. And I’m realizing that not only have I gotten slower, my instincts have dulled.

Specifically, I’ve regained the urge to ride as close to the curb as possible. It seems like the polite thing to do, and though I generally have the manners of one raised by wolves, I do try to be civil after my own lupine fashion.

But I’m remembering that when I give room to cars, they never return the favor. I actually don’t think this is malicious. I think that yellow line is a serious psychological barrier for drivers – as it should be – and if they can, they’ll try to squeeze between it and me.

So the smart thing to do is ride further out in the road. If drivers have to cross the yellow line to pass, they’ll usually cross well over the line and give you tons of room. Or follow behind you and scream obscenities. But words will never hurt me, my friends. Not like a Camry, anyway.

Facing my Fears

January 23, 2008

6.61 miles! Again, back in the day that would have been nothing. But this was not just my longest ride yet since breaking the wrist. It also took me to the site of my dewristing, the evil train tracks that cross the bike path. I was on the big heavy commuter bike and it wasn’t raining this time, so the odds of coming off were, I know, slim. But still… And to make matters worse, the rail road people had dumped a giant pile of stones across the bike path. Anyway, I got the better of the evil train tracks (twice, as I had to come home), so I feel a minor (if boring for others) milestone has been reached.

Before heading out I sat on the road bike. The various riding positions seem like they’ll be fine on my wrist, but I need to put air in the tires and lubricate the chain before I head out on it.


October 7, 2007

I am, as anyone reading this blog will have gathered by now, a complete novice when it comes to many cycling issues. Especially bike repair, or even basic maintenance. I can change a tube, but still haven’t needed to adjust my dérailleur (thanks, three months of free adjustments!), so don’t yet know how to do that.

My shear incompetence was brought home this morning while putting air in the tires of my road bike, when I noticed a little metal protrusion hanging down from the inner surface of the rim. Hmmm… what the hell is that for? It took me a disturbingly long time to realize that I was missing a spoke.

When Russian Capitalist, with whom I was due to go for a twenty-five mile ride, showed up he suggested that I’d probably be fine. Two miles in we checked and the wheel had a bit too much wobble to it. All was not lost, as we headed back, I switched to the commuter bike, and he, Lady MacSquish and I went for a very pleasant sixteen mile ride (making a total of twenty for me today, with the four abortive miles, and fifty-five for the week).

But I guess I’ll be taking my wheel into the store later today. Spokes are beyond me.