Monday, January 18, 2010

Bike ridin'

With the idea of taking it too lightly, I turned out to be right.

So, first off, as you may have noticed, there was no live gps tracking. I tried out a few different programs for the phone to upload my position, but all required a constant data link. I don't have an unlimited data plan, and was hoping / assuming the programs uploaded positional information intermittently via SMS. Ahhh.. I was wrong. It is intermittently, but via the internet, not via the 'this totally makes more sense' SMS route. As a side note, for the upcoming south-western trip, I'm hoping to have an unlimited data plan down there (with a pay-as-you-go US plan), so that should be up and running, assuming my phone doesn't flake out. Anyway...

The plan last week was to cover the TTC streetcar tracks by bike, approximately 104 kms. I changed up the route originally suggested there, cutting out some of the overlap and accounting for wind, trying to not cross the city twice.

I had three bucks in my pocket and took the subway to St. Clair station; that really does seem to be the most logical starting point as there aren't any connecting streetcar points around there and it's north of the city (the city gets (up)hilly north of Dupont - also, Long Branch was the second option, but I really didn't want to take the streetcar to start trip). I then went west (with the wind) across, and down back into the hood. I took a bit of a detour as I grabbed the camera I forgot at home, along with an extra pair of gloves. First part, pretty easy... biking with the wind, and although St. Clair feels like a back alley wide, single lane hell for cyclists, all went swimmingly. Next step, getting out to the east end.

The day was not as nice as originally predicted. Not sunny, windier than anticipated, and a bit colder. I apparently started noticing all this going against the wind.

What most people don't notice is that experiencing any wind, while on a bike, is a MAJOR factor, SIGNIFICANTLY changing your experience. On a flat road, aerodynamic drag is by far the greatest barrier to a cyclist's speed, accounting for 70 to 90 percent of the resistance felt when pedaling (read this).

From the site linked above (ok, don't link over, I'll try to explain), here's the take home message.

Let's say you're biking on flat land, and you weigh and are shaped about (+/- 10%) the same as me. Now, you're traveling at a very comfortable* 20 kms/hour on the bike. There is a wind of 10 kms/hr. This is not a very strong wind at all. Most days have at least a 10 km directional wind (in fact, looking at it, all next week has a 10km/hr predicted wind velocity - check it out yourself).

So, let's say the wind is with you, at your back. Looking at the calculations, you are burning approximately 0.05 calories a minute (over your resting calorie consumption), or, about 15 extra calories PER HOUR. Sometimes biking is FUCKING GREAT.

However, if that slight wind is against you, you are burning approximately 1.25 calories per minute, or 375 calories PER HOUR.

That's almost 15 TIMES THE EFFORT! (*hence the * on 'comfortable'). It's really insane how much wind drag matters on a bike. And, it's exponential. The faster you go, the more calories you have to burn per km pre hour. Wind resistance is a bitch.

As a reference, biking with no wind at 20 km/hr will burn about 111 calories per hour over resting. Approximately 3500 calories is equal to a pound of your weight.

Anyway, back to riding!

As a pedestrian, wind like this isn't as big a factor... Tonnes of people were out, at least in the west end.

The end of the line.. First real break time.

I decided to check out the R.C. Harris Treatment Plant at the end of the road. Despite its age, the plant is still fully functional, providing approximately 45% of the water supply for Toronto and the Region of York (wiki)!

And then that's when it happened. Taking the picture above, with the wind, the dirt, my eyelashes, my face pressed up against the back of the camera, I lost my left contact lens. Damn.

Fuck, actually. That never happens. Daily disposables, but no backups in pockets. Ok... after looking around, I had lost it. So, now what?

Well, I had to abort and go home. Admitting defeat, reaching for my wallet to take out three bones for the streetcar, I just realized I didn't bring that either. hahaha/.. Traveling light - well done, sir.

So, my expertise on monocular biking is this:

It's not so bad... The only really tough parts come when there are bumps - waves - in the road. While biking, you'll notice that at busy intersections there are 'waves' in the pavement, presumably made by the constant beating the road takes from the cars almost constantly along the same path (particularly bad at the Bloor-Dundas intersection, for example). They're not major bumps, but they are there, and normally one kinda naturally let's off the pedals, rides these waves, and just coasts. Well, apparently depth perception is preettyyyy important to notice these waves... and going full throttle over them is not fun.

Other than that, I wasn't expecting wet roads. Granted they were all day, but with one eye, those wet streetcar tracks are hazardous. I've wiped out on them before, two-three winters ago... those things are kinda scary when wet. I really couldn't afford wiping out now, and took my sweet-ass time through and around them. Still, damn you, streetcar tracks.

So, feeling slightly defeated, kinda cold, but glad to be home. One hot toddy later and it's into the shower.

Oh, and look who's waiting for me! Already undressed, ready for a good scrubbing!

What, you've never showered with your bike? I mean, I've probably been on it more than anything else in my life... oh.. or wait. That's probably not true...

After a great scrub down, some cheesy pasta. Oh. so. fucking. good.

Anyway, I tried to follow those damn streetcar tracks, and failed. I don't feel so bad about it though... (liberal mush coming... ) I tried! I think that's why there is more than 1 day in the week. Next time, I'll be better prepared. Practice! Oh, and maybe wait until it gets a bit warmer.

Streetcars, you take this round, but not really ;)


Oh, and I wore with my skiing helmet for the ride. It's a lot warmer, easier to work with than a hat and a regular helmet, and, it has built-in headphones. Music along the ride was great. And no, it wasn't played loud, so I could still hear, even conversations along the sidewalk.

The first song that came on after I lost my contact lens? Perfect.

Goodness gracious me, I'm sure
It's raining harder than it ever has before
I can feel it coming down so hard
Can't help but think somebody's got my calling card
I'm waiting on admission into heaven
So wake me up at 7:00
I'll go out and find something to do
And one of these days, when I have my vision
I'm gonna make a speech and I'm gonna charge admission

We're gonna have a big parade
To celebrate all the money that we made
I wanna ride on the top of the float
And stare at all the people and gloat
I don't like sleepin' in late
So wake me up at 8:00
I'll go out and find something to do
And one of these days, when I have my vision
There's gonna be no reason for this ugly indecision

Well here we are, and I'm shit outta luck
So I feel it's time for me to pass the buck
If I'm in the car when it crashes
Miss me most and you can kiss my ashes
Things seem to be comin' up all the time
So wake me up at 9:00
I'll go out and find something to do
And one of these days, when I have my vision
I'll let'em lay me on the table and make the first incision

I heard once that it don't make sense
To build a wall where you should have put a fence
I heard twice you should not put me
Where you put a fridge, a couch and a TV
The world needs a few good men
So wake me up at 10:00
I'll go out and find something to do
And one of these days, when I have my vision…
I'm still waiting on admission into heaven
So wake me up at quarter past eleven
I'll go out and find something to do
And one of these days, when I have my vision
I will gather my disciples for the final expedition

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