Saturday, February 25, 2017

Breathing and Cycling

How do you breathe when cycling? Do you breathe strictly through your nose, your mouth, or a combination of the two?

The question came up one evening, the cold air feeling painful in my throat as I struggled homeward, still reeling from a lengthy bout of sickness. If felt great to be bike commuting again but I realized that my usual mode of breathing - inhaling through my mouth - was uncomfortable. I resorted to 30 second bursts of breathing through my nose, then resorted to gulping air by mouth, repeating the cycle until I made it home.

I compared "breathing" notes with my husband. He only breathes through his nose while cycling and with any intense effort, like struggling up a short hill, might he open his mouth for extra oxygen. Completely opposite of me! I rely on mouth breathing, mostly, but will momentarily close my mouth on summer evenings when pedaling through a cloud of insects.

There are certainly benefits to breathing through the nose: filtering particles like dust, and in the instances of tender throat, pre-warming, pre-moistening the air before it reaches your lungs. I suspect I probably suffer from light nasal congestion, perhaps allergens, etc. so I've never been able to feel like I get enough oxygen strictly inhaling through my nostrils. And when I think about it, even when walking. There must be something about being outdoors that causes me to react this way because when I'm indoors or sleeping I prefer to breath through my nose. Either way, I'm not too bothered by my reaction because I manage cycling just fine!

With a cursory search on the Internet it seems that pro cyclists breathe through their noses and expel breath similar to yoga techniques for optimal efficiency. Not that I hold stock with the pros, but it is interesting, nonetheless.

I'm curious though, for everyday cycling, how do you breathe?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Colchester Streets Challenge - The Beginning

Like two years ago where I completed Burlington's Streets, my challenge in 2017 is to pedal all of neighboring Colchester's public roads. I contemplated cycling South Burlington roads last year, but my heart wasn't in leaving Lake Champlain for trips inland. Most of my weekend rides begin from our family's lakefront camp, so it made sense to add Colchester to the list. Colchester is easily accessed by bike path - a northern continuation of Burlington's waterfront trail - plus Colchester has it's own growing network of trails. Because of it's sprawling land mass (58 square miles, 1/3 water views) I can also set off from home to get to the southern portion of the city.

My husband claims it will be a more daunting challenge without streets in close proximity, but I see the opposite. I see an opportunity to ride to one neighborhood and complete all streets in one trip, whereas Burlington's grid pattern meant I retraced my route numerous times to insure I completed every single street. Whether or not Colchester has more street miles than Burlington is unconfirmed, but I don't have a problem with the miles either way, and neither do I feel the urge to compare the two regions.

Colchester has long suffered from an identity problem. There is no core, but instead there are districts: Mallett's Bay, Airport Park, Porter's Point, Mallet's Bay Avenue, Kellogg/Severance/Blakely Road, Route 2A and 7, and a small northern hamlet that feels more like Milton than Colchester.  In the upper northeast quadrant of the map, there's a segment of Brigham Hill Road I may need to access from my mom's home in Essex to fulfill my quest.

I printed a Colchester street map from the city's website in 8.5 x 11" sections so I can easily read street names, plus I will only need to tote a few sheets at a time on my bike. I'm less inclined to document every street name like I did two years ago. I see this year's challenge as a looser arrangement, perhaps only highlighting each street finished on the map. For me, the framework is more about riding on roads I haven't been on in a long time and discovering new neighborhoods. The task itself should motivate me to see what's around the corner!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Different View of My Regular Route

I watched the bus go by, momentarily mad that it had arrived several minutes early so I regrouped and decided to just start walking the 5 miles homeward. I knew that I wouldn't be able to make it all the way home, considering the two week sinus cold and ear infection that has dragged me down, but rescue was only a phone call away. I have little patience with the bus service as mentioned before and the snow storm was rather lovely.

In spite of slogging the first mile of sidewalk in 6" of mush to cut some distance, I eventually emerged onto the Spear Street bike path and into a quiet wonderland. I smiled. If I can't ride my bike, there's nothing that makes me happier than enough regular snowfall so I can ski. The footing on the path was much better so I continued, chuckling at one point because I noticed a bright bicycle headlight approaching. I stepped aside for the hardy cyclist who barely controlled his bicycle on the slope. But then I was alone again, grinning, marveling at the snow covered trees and fat flakes falling all around me.

I made it about 3.5 miles in one hour - the most exercise I'd had in 10 days - then I called for a ride. The unexpected journey homeward had filled me with hope. Hope for skiing this weekend. Hope for eventually a dry bike path for cycling. Hope that this sickness passes very soon. In the meantime I enjoyed a unique journey on a path that had become second nature on two wheels.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Goals and Thoughts on 2017 Adventures

As has been customary in the past, when the New Year comes, I plan a few trips, especially if they included plane flights and planned vacation time. When my father died a couple years ago the emotional uncertainty left me feeling lost.  I wasn't ready to tackle another bucket list goal, but time passes, and this year I'm ready and excited for a 2017 overseas hiking adventure. Depending upon how it all works out, there could be a cycling component. More to come on that trip.

Since pedaling thoughout many cold winter days in the past two years, I am less anxious and focused on making local cycling plans months in advance. It's as if my cycling equilibrium has been restored. I am content to have general ideas centered around weekends, perhaps another Canadian sojourn with Adele, an overnight using the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, perhaps one in upstate New York via ferry.

I will continue making Miss Clementine tour ready, which includes adding a simple front rack (possibly Nitto, Soma Lucas, or Sunlite version?), repurpose a bag for handle bars, and test hers (and my!) ability to haul camping gear on hilly terrain.

Always in the back of my mind is finding a 20" replacement for my steadfast Ross commuter. If I find myself in Manchester, NH soon (and who knows, our son has been accepted at SNHU which may necessitate  a springtime visit) I will contact a person selling a 20" step-through GT Outpost, that has lingered on Craigslist for several months.

This year will be busy in other ways also: our oldest son goes off to college and we are looking for a new house. The plan is to stay local, but find a place with less maintenance, easier one floor living. It must have a two car garage so we can store our skis, my husband's sports car, and of course our myriad of bicycles.

What's on your agenda this year?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

I'm a Tom Hanks Fan

I love the simple red panniers! Photo credit:
I had the opportunity to see The Man with One Red Shoe recently, a 1985 movie starring Tom Hanks and Jim Belushi. It's a fun flick and if you're a Tom Hanks fan, a cyclist, and lover of older bicycles, it's worth a look. The pair get around Georgetown, D.C. on bikes so there are several scenes involving Hanks's red ten speed (referred to as a "Peugeot Grand Prix") while Jim Belushi rides an old mountain bike, the type that's near and dear to my heart.

Photo credit: Georgetown Metropolitan
I am home today with a stuffy head cold. It's beautiful outside. Fresh snow has fallen with more in the forecast for today. Perhaps I'll discover more Tom Hanks movies on Netflix that I haven't seen!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Another Look at the Selle Royal Brand

Old, beautiful, Selle Royal seat on the left.

I've used a Selle Royal seat on my Miyata for many years - it came stock on the bike - and has held up well. It might even be leather. And considering it is a little wider than a normal men's seat, I wonder whether in today's terms it would be classified as a women's saddle. Back then the style was pretty standard on touring bikes. In the 1980's I covered the saddle with a gel cover, desiring more comfort when pedaling across country. Since then the seat is supportive "au natural" and I've come to measure all new seat purchases against this particular brand.

Fast forward to 2014. I was renovating a Peugeot UO 14 and discovered cork and gel ergonomic grips online by Selle Royal. Those grips turned out to be a wonderful, classy, and functional addition - so comfortable that I switched the grips over to my Clementine. Tested on a 3 day tour, the grips are keepers on this bicycle.

I'm trying out the Becoz saddle on Miss Clementine.

In 2016 I found a discounted Becoz saddle, attracted by the cork and gel style. Later I discovered it's parent company guessed it, Selle Royal! After all these years the company has survived, providing inexpensive saddles, venturing into the grip market, even innovative replaceable "tattoo" style saddle tops. It's too soon to tell whether the Becoz saddle will provide the comfort I need long term on Clementine, but I'm happy to see the Selle Royal brand has survived.

Do you have any experience with Selle Royal accessories?