This section of my website used to be dedicated to triathlon training, personal race results and certification reviews, like Turbo Kick. I am expanding it to include more generic health & fitness topics. Also, I talk a lot about "D" -- he's my husband (Dave Liu)!

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Sunday Ride in Light Rain

Margaret & I were rained out of the Sunday Ride last week, so we were praying for good weather today. To my dismay, the weather report anticipated "Showers in the AM". We drove down the Burlingame anyway.

There were six ladies brave enough to venture the ride: Holly (ride leader), Yvonne, Winnifred, Susan (with her snazzy "Pocket Rocket" fold-up bike), Margeret & I (sweep). It was only drizzling, so Lorri suggested that we go out and give it a try, and then turn back if it got ugly. As usual, I was planning on doing the 30 mile ride, but there was a 36-mile option today (30 mile ride + 6 mile loop around Woodside). Lorri said it was a good time to try a farther ride since it was the beginning of the month. I laughed but she was serious. Since the additional loop had no climbs plus Holly was the one leading the 36-mile ride, Margaret & I decided to give it a try.

Lorri gave us some tips on riding in the rain:

  • The painted stripes in the road would be more slippery than regular pavement
  • Watch out for leaves (slippery)
  • Leave more time/distance for braking
  • Turn on blinking rear lights -- Holly's idea to make us more visible

Off we went. Wouldn't you know, it started raining as we headed down Crystal Springs but it was only light rain.

I cycled much faster than my last Sunday Ride although I still have trouble with one particular descent: the downhill portion leading up to the 92/Ralston intersection. I think I've figured out what it is: it's the cornering. Since I can't see what's around the corner, I'm worried that if I zoom down, I may suddenly encounter [insert something scary here] around the corner and may not be able to brake in time. As I'm typing this, it just occurred to me that if there were some obstacle up ahead, somebody would call out so I shouldn't worry about this.

Lorri's Response: The safest position for you on a fast descent is in the lane (not on the shoulder). The shoulder is frequently filled with debris, can be off-cambre, and the pavement may not be as smooth as the lane. By positioning yourself in the lane on a descent, you let cars know that you're part of the flow of traffic (and they won't try to pass you too closely). Typically, on a descent like Skyline to 92, the cars will be travelling at a pace faster than you. If you need to control your speed, feather your brakes lightly and sit up slightly. Also remember to always look ahead on the road 20-30 feet. This will help stabilize your bike and will also give you time to anticipate the need to slow.

Surprisingly, Canada Road was closed to cars even though there was light rain. As we regrouped, a few cyclists said, "Hello Velo Girls!" as they went by. I can't get wait to get my VG jersey. If you haven't done so, be sure to to preorder one for next April 2004!

We regrouped at Woodside Bakery and Holly suggested that we do the 6-mile loop before stopping for coffee & snacks. The loop was really cool. It was mostly flat and had lots of shade/trees. There were only two tricky parts: turning left onto Portola Road at the flashing yellow, and then another left at a stop sign. Holly had warned us how to tackle both in advance, but she stuck around at each turn to make sure everybody was able to navigate them safely.

Back at Woodside Bakery, we sat in the sun (yes! The sun came out!) and rested for a while. I noticed that the back of my jacket was caked with mud while everybody else looked pretty clean. I thought it was because my wider mtb tires were kicking up more dirt, but Margaret didn't have the same problem. That was when she said I must have cycled through puddles and reminded me not to do that since you can't see how deep they are. Good point.

The ride back was harder than I expected. I was cranking in my biggest ring but I wasn't able to gain any speed, even on the declines. That's when it hit me (pardon the pun): HEADWIND. As it is, most of the effort going into peddling is used to overcome air resistance (hence the usefulness of drafting). But it's a complete haul when the wind is slamming full force into you. Tip: Having wind blowing into your ears can cause ear aches, so a couple of the ladies either wore ear plugs or covered their ears with ear warmers/headbands.

On the way back, we took the pedestrian path to avoid the Ralston traffic. I felt really good executing the left turn at the top of the path this time because (1) I knew what to expect, (2) there was a group of us going simultaneously (3) I can mount/dismount my bike quite well now.

Everything was tickety-boo until we were about 4 miles from Summit. I was sweeping so I saw that Susan suddenly stopped, then Winnifred braked hard, and since Margaret was right behind Winnifred, she came to a screeching halt as well (good thing we learned emergency braking at the VG basic bike clinic!) Turned out that Susan got a flat. After the necessary repairs, Holly led us through well-maintained roads for the rest of the way back so we avoided El Cerrito.

Lorri's Response: Remember that in a group ride, your actions affect everyone around you. Try never to stop suddenly. If you get a flat or have another reason to stop, communicate this verbally ("stopping"), slow your pace gradually, make sure no one is directly behind you, and move as far to the right of the road as possible to allow others in the group to go around you. If you're in a large group where others may not hear you, raise one arm to indicate that you're the rider who's stopping. You can ride on a flat tire for a short distance without damaging your rim. No need to stop immediately. Sudden movements cause accidents.

I had a great time on this ride. I went pleased to be able to go farther than usual, and have noticed that my biking skills have improved quite a bit. Not only can I start/stop more confidently, but I've been able to stick out my hand to make turn signals. It was also beneficial to get some experience riding in the rain.

Unfortunately, this will be my last Sunday Ride for the year since I have family coming in from out of town, wedding, etc. but I'll be back January 2004. Safe riding everybody!

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