July 02, 2010

Beneficial Crack

Along my commute there are variable pavement conditions.  I'll spare the detailed distress report, but this morning I was reminded why I like longitudinal cracks (those that run in the direction of travel).  Longitudinal cracks are great after a light rain. 

You see (indication I will now talk as an enginerd), roads are generally crowned at the centerline, forcing water to flow from the centerline to the gutter.  That means that half of the storm water falling on the road 'theoretically' flows across my wheel path to get to the gutter. 

Why do I care?  This means I get wet even though the rain stopped an hour ago.  (I'll now resist the temptation to discuss water surface friction, angular momentum, and projectile motion.)

Except...EXCEPT, when the water that is supposed to flow from the centerline is intercepted by longitudinal canyons cracks.  I think it is awesome to benefit from what I normally (during the day job) consider a detriment. 

Because on the curb-side of those cracks the water has already flowed toward the curb, and is thus dry enough for me to travel at regular speed without fear of road-grime attacking my feet and legs and bike and back.

In short:  Longitudinal Crack = No Racing Stripe

July 01, 2010

Weighty Matter

Commuting home last night:

I had just checked my power output (Am I pushing hard?  Yup.  Could I push harder?  Definately.  Am I going to push harder?  Nah, 23 MPH is sufficient today.), when I heard another chain slinging through a derailer on my left.
"Hey man!", said a tall, long-haired hippy as he passed by me.
"Hey there."  I responded, quickly checking the composure of my competitor.  (He qualified as a competitor the moment he chose to pass.)  Short sleeve button-down shirt, khaki shorts, and sandals(?).  The cuff-saver on his bike indicated 'old-school' and it appeared to be a sturdy steel frame, but I didn't catch the brand - distracted by the fact that such an individual would actually be wearing a helmet.  Involuntarily my mind thought 'Rabit!', and I increased my efforts to match his speed.
This guy was focused ahead and intent on burning me.  Here I was dressed to the hilt in performance clothing, attached to the pedals of my shiny carbon fiber road bike, gleaning info from my gps computer - by appearance, a true-blue cyclist.  The hippy knew his advantage, and played it well.  Immediately pulling a gap between us, he pedaled seemingly effortlessly forward, dodging a slowing car without being phased.  Within 2 short blocks, he was far enough ahead to catch a yellow light that I missed.  I was appropriately put in my place! 
On the green light I decided to push it because I really wanted to see this guy race up Nemesis hill (a 1/4-mile slog between 8% and 10%).  As I approached the toe of the hill he was already cresting it, standing up with good form.

When I recently picked up my new bike I conceded that it was officially above my abilities.  Now I know it's true.  I've got some work to do.