Monday, March 7, 2011

Problem Solved: Riding in the drops, reach remedied

On Saturday, March 5th, my cycling buddies, Marc and Jim, and I went the same route Marc and I rode the day before Christmas when I had the scare of my life.

There was a 100% chance of rain on Sunday and I figured the Grizzly Peak Century Prep Series would be canceled. I decided I better get some riding in the hills with Marc and Jim. 

The following includes the good and the bad about Saturday's ride.

The Good:  *I slept better that night than I have in the past two months.  Cycling is good medicine!  I enjoy how I feel after a good ride and I usually sleep better.  Saturday I slept great.  I was much more tired and sore than usual because I had been off my bike too much the past two months.  Last night I was asleep no later than 8:30 PM and I was up around 1:00 AM fighting to go back to sleep.  I gave up around 2:30 AM.

*Being off my bike a lot due to inclement weather and the flu has affected my ability to sleep through the night.  At least, I'm not waking up with nightmares and fears of hitting my head again.  Thanks to Cathy Dana, a specialist in touch hypnotherapy, hypnomassage and trauma, I have worked through that fear for now.

I should tell the Veterans Administration about Cathy's work with trauma patients and see if this could be helpful to the men and women coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Bad:  I lost the stamina I gained training last summer and riding the Ride 2 Recovery (R2R) Golden State Challenge and Florida Challenge. It was so much harder climbing Broadway and Tunnel Saturday than in December.  Getting to Montclair wasn't a picnic either.  

I walked part of Broadway.  I've NEVER had to do that before.  Stopped - yes.  Walked - NEVER.  I was embarrassed.  I'm relieved that the second Sunday warm-up ride was canceled due to the rain.  I would be trying to ride all of Broadway, not just from Lake Temescal, and we were going up Tunnel and across Skyline, too.  Everyone I know, including me, dreads Broadway more than Tunnel. 

I'm quite certain I stopped more yesterday than the first time I climbed Tunnel and my heart was racing faster than it has ever on any ride.  Marc told me not to worry because I would get my stamina back.  He also thought I might be working too hard because I may not be riding in the right gears. 

This compact double gear is gonna take some time to get used to.  Hum, I wonder if the only reason I was able to get up Big Sur on the R2R Golden State Challenge was because I had the triple (granny) gears and, of course, a lot of will power.

What am I thinking, I trained hard, too!  I road at least 9 times in the Oakland Hills by myself.  I know a few people who would never have thought Debi would ride in the hills by herself.  That's OK though, she didn't think she would do that either! :-)  

Unfortunately, I was desperate. I needed to train.  I had no plans to SAG on the R2R Golden State Challenge.  I had no choice because my Trainer, Marc, didn't schedule his leave (vacation for civilians) or his temporary duty assignments (TDY) through me.  I'll have to talk to him about that.  I keep forgetting.  Yeah, right.  I bet he'll roll his eyes and then he'll thump me upside the head and let me know he doesn't answer to me.  Therefore, I don't think I'll even mention it. ;-)    

I'm concerned I may have bit off more than I can chew.  I am registered to participate in the Grizzly Peak Century on May 1st. The Grizzly Peak Cyclists donate funds they raise through this century to organizations that advocate for cycling, organizations involved in bicycle safety, education, and awareness, or the bicycling environment.  I have plans to do the 101 mile route, however, now I'm concerned as to whether I'd even be able to complete the entire metric century plus 10 - 11 miles = 73 miles. 

I was 5 miles short of a century on the 3rd day of the R2R Golden State Challenge.  The Carmel to San Simeon route via Big Sur was over 7,000 feet of climbing and if it wasn't raining and I could have found my homie, Anthony D., I would have asked him to ride with me so we could get in a century on the approximately 460 mile ride from San Francisco to the Santa Monica Pier.

OK, I'm stretching that a bit.  :-)  I actually didn't think about that until later on the ride.  Probably when I was jesting with Wayne Stetina, the professional cyclist who also works for Shimano.  It could have been during the Florida Challenge, too.

Unfortunately, I was really challenged on Saturday's ride of just 28 miles.  I sure hope I can find some of that stamina in the next 7 weeks or I'm in trouble.  I need to EARN my jersey.

I'm riding with the Grizzly Peak Cyclists who have set up rides to warm up and train for the metric century.  I enjoyed their first ride last Sunday and I didn't do too bad.  I was near the front until the first climb and then I caught up on the flats.  The ride leader said she thought I did fine.  I'm just slower climbing and I came up to Inspiration Point about the middle of the pack of riders.

Yesterday, when we finally arrived at Sibley for that much needed break, Marc, Jim and I voted where we wanted to go down.  The ayes had it for Joaquin Miller Road.  I discussed with Marc about going back via Montclair by taking a right after the overpass.

Marc and Jim were at the stop sign to let cars know if I couldn't stop, but we were all pretty sure that I wouldn't have that problem because I was able to stop easily at the yield sign where you turn right off Skyline on to Joaquin Miller.

By the time I got to the end of Joaquin Miller Road and confident I wasn't having any problems stopping my bike because my reach had been adjusted for my hands and I was riding in the drops giving me more control over my bike while descending, I changed my mind.  I told Marc and Jim I wanted to take my fear head on and we went down Lincoln.  No problems stopping.  Hum, as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivor I've got to find a better choice of words than "take my fear head on."  Ya' think!? 

The only problem I had going down Joaquin Miller Road on Saturday was that I'm back to descending really, really slow like I did in the beginning on my TREK.  I was comfortable going down on the hoods of my road bike between 27 - 30 mph in December; it's when I couldn't stop at the stop sign and I went through it at 18 mph that I wasn't comfortable.  I believe it's a matter of getting more confident riding in clipless pedals and the drops at the same time.

I was frustrated I couldn't get past 18 - 20 mph going down Joaquin Miller Road and most of the time it was closer to 14 - 16 mph.  It's probably just a matter of getting more confident on my beautiful R2R Stealth just like I am on my beloved TREK hybrid now.  I'm pretty sure with time and training I'll become more confident on my road bike and I'll move up to a faster, but comfortable speed for me.  I've proved to myself I can do it before.

I've had two more falls. Grrrrr.  I wonder what John (R2R's Executive Director) will think if he reads about my 5th and 6th fall.  After the first two he told me:  "keep off the ground already...."  I'm really trying John.

Anyway . . .

Last Sunday, I left the rest stop at Inspiration Point with the ride leaders for the century prep ride and, of course, being the slow descender I am I didn't see them take a right.  They yelled out to me and I looked towards them and then down looking for a shoulder to pull over.  There wasn't a shoulder.  I wasn't looking ahead when I'm starting to ascend a hill.  I found out quickly I'm in the wrong gear.   Down I go because I'm going too slow.   The young men who got out of the car to help me up asked me if I was OK.  I told him the only thing I hurt was my feelings.  When I got home I found some new bruises on my elbow, knee, and butt; they'll heal with time.

Saturday, I accidentally clipped back in as I was rolling up on Marc and Jim at a red light. I couldn't get out before I ran in to Jim's back tire.  I was actually trying to fall before I hit him, but I was too close when clipped back in to get out again.  How embarrassing.  Jim was standing firmly and wasn't affected.   I learned from one of the professionals on the R2R that it's always the cyclist who hits the back wheel from behind that falls.  I'm so glad I didn't hurt Jim.  He's retiring from the Coast Guard next week and I don't think his wife would be happy with me, if I hurt him.  Whew, I was lucky. 

I landed in flowers under the 580 overpass and hurt my feelings again.   I rarely accidentally clip back in with my road pedals, but for some reason I did it twice on Saturday.  The second time I accidentally clipped back in I had plenty of time to get out again due to the circumstances.

I hope the weather will improve.  I want to be able to get some more riding in so I will sleep better.  Something has been bothering me for a few months and it has me a bit angry and hurt.  Pounding the asphalt with my bike helps me deal with it.  Although, I have to work really hard when I'm riding by myself not to let my thoughts get me too distracted.  

Sometimes I have to say over and over "Forward and Right, Forward and Right, . . ." to make sure that I stay focused on my riding when I'm alone.  I'm looking for potholes, cracked asphalt, debris and glass in the road when I'm looking forward and I'm looking to the right for cars coming out of driveways, parking spaces and determining that I'm as far right as possible without a car door opening on me.  Yep, I've had a driver open his car door and the door missed my handlebar by about an inch.  His apologetic "Oh, my God" told me he had no idea I was riding up on him.  We were both lucky.  

[After having my flat fixed, while out riding in the 19 mph winds on Monday and knowing I had already posted this blog earlier, I was thinking about what I said about saying over and over forward and right to focus me on my riding and helping me from being distracted by my thoughts.  I hope no one interprets that I just look forward and right.   I assure you I don't.  I drive my bike like I drive a car.  I use my mirrors and I also look front and left.  I'm often more fatigued from using my brain staying focused on my cycling (mental fatigue) than I am physically from riding.  Well, that is until my last ride in the hills. :-(]   

I recall when I took Bike Alameda's bike safety class a couple years ago, they answered a question I've always wanted to ask.  Why do I see bicyclists riding outside the bike lane?

The instructor informed us that when a cyclist is doored, they are usually thrown to the left and on busy streets that could be in the path of a vehicle.  

In California, cyclists are not required by law to ride in bike lanes where cars are parked. "Because of the hazard always present in door zones, bicyclists are never required by CVC 21202 or any other law to ride so far right that they could be hit by, or forced to swerve into the adjacent lane, potentially in front of overtaking traffic, by a suddenly opened door of a vehicle."  

The responsibility of any person opening and closing the doors of a vehicle in the state of California is depicted in CA Vehicle Code  22517.  If you're not in California, check with your state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to learn the laws for cyclists in your state and consider taking a smart cycling class in your community.

Why do I remember this?  Even people who have had a brain injury remember matters that invoke an emotion and the thought of being doored (driver opens car door in the path of cyclist) evokes the emotion of  "fear" in  me.  I assure you I won't forget that rule.  I know it can happen and it can kill.

I don't want to give details because it might make this special person I know uncomfortable.  Someone I know was doored when a driver didn't see her and she didn't see the person in the car who opened the door.  I understand she's recovering well, but I'm sure that experience was scary and painful.

In May of 2010, a young man was doored and he was thrown in the path of a bus.  He died shortly thereafter. You can access the article here.

OK, I've digressed several times in this blog.  Time to sign off. 

Until next time.



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