Monday, July 18, 2011

SMART PHONES MAKE ME NERVOUS

Given the headline I’ve chosen, you may have jumped to a conclusion that this post is going to be a rant about drivers and cell phone use. I can understand why you would think that and, a minor element of today’s post just might go somewhere along those lines of thought. But, I think I’m mostly going in a different direction…

But first a little context is in order. I haven’t ridden since June 30th. That is not acceptable. I’ve barely written and that, too, is not particularly acceptable. As noted in my last post, I have stayed busy in my cycling endeavors but it has been energy spent in talking to groups and attending meetings about our bike plan that is in development.

I’ve also been experiencing what I like to call “Le Tour Fatigue". Since July 3rd, I’ve had minimal sleep due to staying up WAAAY too late watching the day’s happenings in France and catching the commentary of THE finest commentating team in any sport in any country. Yes, I do mean Phil and Paul with a fine, fine side dish of the Bobke. I’ve been somewhat confused by Craig Hummer being in the field and Ian McHugh being “in studio.” I’ve been pleased with McHugh’s comportment thus far.

With an unusual heat wave, “honey do” chores, a camping trip, and blah blah blah, I’ve been slack in my exercise. Interestingly, it comes at a time when I’ve been told by my doctor that I’m one of 34 million Americans who are pre-diabetic. But, hey, that’s a post for another day…

I’ve been getting internet alerts that Bro Dave has been out and about riding in sunny Southern Cal although I don’t think any of it was on the shut down 405 and I’m sure he wasn’t in the cycling group that outraced Jet Blue from Burbank to Long Beach. (Thanks to BikingInLa for the great links to this story!)

So, today, a rest day at Le Tour, found me reading up on some of my favorite blogs including Russ and Laura Roca’s great adventure “The Path Less Pedaled.” I managed to get caught up to date on their wanderings and found myself inspired to get out and ride on this Tour rest day. Odd, the way my brain works sometimes…

I knew it wouldn’t be a hard ride and that was o.k. I was just looking for a nice easy spin to get the blood flowing in my legs again. I also have been wanting to try out a new mount for my HTC Thunderbolt and give MapMyRide a trial run using their Android App.

I purchased the mount from a company called Gomadic via Amazon. Below are images of the mount on my bike.

July11_PhoneMount01

(Top view sans phone)

July11_PhoneMount02

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Right side view sans phone)

July11_PhoneMount03

(Seated view of Thunderbolt in Gomadic mount)

As you can see, the real estate of the handlebars is pretty well taken up between my heart monitor (left side) and my bike computer (stem mounted). I’ve had a Pedco camera mount off and on where the phone mount is currently situated. But, hey, I’m getting ahead of myself… Remember – smart phones make me nervous!

My ride started out nice enough after I set MapMyRide to record the workout. I first noticed I couldn’t see the screen in the bright sunlight but I could still tell it was recording as I made my way to NC 215 toward Canton. Things were going quite well, until I noticed an oncoming car edging across the center line toward me. Fortunately, the driver corrected before hitting me and I didn’t have to take any evasive action. In case you were wondering, yes, the driver was talking on a cell phone. There you have it! The expected mini-rant about distracted drivers. But, WAIT, there’s more! … as the commercial would say!

My ongoing nervousness was related to the constant fear that my HTC Thunderbolt was going to pop out of its holder and hit the ground. I pretty quickly discovered that the Gomadic mount doesn’t hold the phone securely enough to compensate for the jarring of the road bike on rough roads. I was spending more time relocating the phone into the holder than I was enjoying the ride. This meant dealing with oncoming and passing traffic while taking one hand off the handlebar to hold the phone down.

Between cars drifting over at me and holding the phone down with one hand,  my sense of anxiety increased while continuing to pedal down the road. (Yes, I could have taken the phone off the mount and stored it in my back pocket as usual but I wanted to give it a fair trial under real riding conditions.) I was already attuned to oncoming traffic so when the red pickup coming toward me approached, I took particular attention to see if the driver was on a phone. He was not. Rather, he was making a pistol gesture with his left hand and pointing it at me as if to shoot me and smiling as he went by. Somehow I don’t think he was mimicking Alberto Contador’s personalized victory salute. 

Somewhere near the 2 mile mark of my ride, I noticed that my HTC Thunderbolt was rebooting. My guess is that the jostling of the ride caused it to reset. I let it reboot, which doesn’t happen quickly, as I made my way to Canton. Upon rebooting, I discovered the obvious – the recording of my route by MapMyRide did not resume so the track was lost. Shortly thereafter, I pocketed the phone and gave up on the mount having proven to myself that this particular mount is unacceptable for meeting my needs.

I took a brief break in the parking lot of the Black Bear CafĂ© before resuming my trek for the day. I was heading south on NC 110 and hoping to enjoy the remaining few miles of my short Monday spin. After about a mile riding on the shoulder, I hit something hard that gave me quite a jolt. I didn’t see it but I sure felt it. Shortly - very shortly - thereafter, I was running on my front rim. I had flatted.

Fortunately, I was near a road intersection and it even had some shade granting me a respite from the late afternoon sun. I started breaking down my front wheel whilst slapping away at insects alighting on my legs. The bugs kept growing in their intensity until I finally stopped working on the wheel long enough to discover that I had stopped at and was standing right on an ant hill! The little critters were exploring new territory by climbing up my legs. I gladly stepped aside and resumed replacing my tube.

Now, this is when the good stuff about today’s ride starts. Had I not flatted, I would not have encountered three separate very nice folk all of whom stopped to see if I was o.k. A young man and two women of differing ages all stopped to be sure I was alright and didn’t need help. I assured them I was fine and thanked them for their concern.

After remounting my front tire, I rode on home in the setting sun with a lot less smartphone nervousness on my mind!

(Just a note: the folks at Gomadic did not solicit my review of their product and probably have no idea that I wrote it. I received no remuneration for this impromptu review.)

Until later,

- Zeke

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