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Riding And Smoke

Old 08-30-20, 11:57 AM
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Riding And Smoke

The past two weeks, I've been trying to work in rides whenever the air gets better. Some days, it clears up starting at about noon in SF and working down the Peninsula, so by 3 or 4 it will be obvious it's safe to ride. Thursday, it was clear all day until about 3, then started getting worse again. I was planning to ride after work, which means suiting up at work in Brisbane and driving down to Canada and 92. By the time I reached the Doran Bridge, it was obviously getting worse FAST, so I ditched that.

I decided to ride Friday instead, and it seemed to be clearing, but it never got really clear enough for me to feel comfortable, so I ended up riding in the garage.

This morning, PurpleAir shows the air where I'd be riding between 70 and 110 (with LRAPA conversion), and not much of any trend. So, do I ride? Do I ride now, or wait till a trend emerges? Do I give up and just ride in the garage?

What have y'all been doing? Have you been risking it? Or playing it safe? Anyone else getting real antsy from not having a good ride in a while?

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Old 08-30-20, 02:24 PM
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I've been playing it safe, not going out much and wearing an N95 when biking errands. But I was still antsy, so in the interest of getting a brief workout, went out for a 5 mile run today. AQI was around 50-60 and I was planning on wearing my N95 again, but it didn't smell smoky, so I just carried instead. I probably could still go on a ride without it today.
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Old 08-30-20, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Geekage View Post
I've been playing it safe, not going out much and wearing an N95 when biking errands. But I was still antsy, so in the interest of getting a brief workout, went out for a 5 mile run today. AQI was around 50-60 and I was planning on wearing my N95 again, but it didn't smell smoky, so I just carried instead. I probably could still go on a ride without it today.
I have been waiting for at least SOME part of my normal Sunday route to go below 50, but it ain't happening. So I took my dog for a walk, and while we were out, the AQI went from 76 to 154. I THOUGHT it was getting worse, and it was!
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Old 08-30-20, 03:58 PM
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I rode today and yesterday. AQI yesterday was in the 70-120 range, depending on your conversion, but unfortunately, there aren't any sensors on Diablo. I rode up to the junction, and at about 1500' the smoke started getting really bad. By the time I reached the junction, I could tell my breathing was restricted, labored, and I was breathing in ash. Descending SG, I spent the entire time coughing up phlegm and gunk from my lungs. And the rest of the ride and afternoon my lungs were hurting when I took a deep breath. It's no joke when you get into unhealthy, smoky air just how much it can mess you up! Today was much better, both in terms of AQI and practically speaking. Still a slight haze, but the air didn't smell smoky and I had no ill effects.

If the AQI was 150 or up, I definitely would not be riding, probably even with N95, the stuff I dealt with yesterday on Diablo for only about 15 minutes of riding was awful.
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Old 08-30-20, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by cthenn View Post
I rode today and yesterday. AQI yesterday was in the 70-120 range, depending on your conversion, but unfortunately, there aren't any sensors on Diablo. I rode up to the junction, and at about 1500' the smoke started getting really bad. By the time I reached the junction, I could tell my breathing was restricted, labored, and I was breathing in ash. Descending SG, I spent the entire time coughing up phlegm and gunk from my lungs. And the rest of the ride and afternoon my lungs were hurting when I took a deep breath. It's no joke when you get into unhealthy, smoky air just how much it can mess you up! Today was much better, both in terms of AQI and practically speaking. Still a slight haze, but the air didn't smell smoky and I had no ill effects.

If the AQI was 150 or up, I definitely would not be riding, probably even with N95, the stuff I dealt with yesterday on Diablo for only about 15 minutes of riding was awful.
Just that walk with the dog, and I could feel some effect in my lungs. Not much, nothing like a wheeze or anything like what you experienced, but definitely something.

For today, I decided that if the AQI (LRAPA converted) didn't fall below 50 for at least most of my route, and below 100 for all of it by 2 PM, that would be it - no outdoor ride and I'd just ride in the garage. So, I ended up clipping in for 90 minutes of lonely suffering. When I finished up - OF COURSE - everything had cleared up and it would have met my criteria.
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Old 08-31-20, 10:41 AM
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Smoke..... still !

Yesterday I took the opportunity to bike with my wife.
Flat ground, low watts, 25 miles.
AQI stayed in the green for most of the ride. I still have a tickle.

When will this sh stuff blow out of the bay !

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Old 08-31-20, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by cthenn View Post
I rode today and yesterday. AQI yesterday was in the 70-120 range, depending on your conversion, but unfortunately, there aren't any sensors on Diablo. I rode up to the junction, and at about 1500' the smoke started getting really bad. By the time I reached the junction, I could tell my breathing was restricted, labored, and I was breathing in ash. Descending SG, I spent the entire time coughing up phlegm and gunk from my lungs. And the rest of the ride and afternoon my lungs were hurting when I took a deep breath. It's no joke when you get into unhealthy, smoky air just how much it can mess you up! Today was much better, both in terms of AQI and practically speaking. Still a slight haze, but the air didn't smell smoky and I had no ill effects.

If the AQI was 150 or up, I definitely would not be riding, probably even with N95, the stuff I dealt with yesterday on Diablo for only about 15 minutes of riding was awful.
Yea I rode yesterday and I typically am on Iron Horse and go though Arbolado park. I was coughing and had flem and I didnt even climb lol. Today I did Zwift inside. Hoping to do my loop in the morning tomorrow.
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Old 09-01-20, 08:57 AM
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I'm basically playing it the same way you are, genejockey . I watch purple air (set to LRAPA and excluding indoor sensors,) and if the route looks like it will be generally green or in the low yellows (around 50,) I'll go for it. Otherwise, I've been firing up Zwift in the garage, or skipping the ride all together (boooo!) Yesterday I did a hard HIIT ride on Zwift that I wouldn't normally get into the mix of my summertime riding, so at least maybe that's a bit of a positive. But in general my ride volume has suffered a ton these last couple weeks, which sucks.

I also do wonder... a few times when the AQI has been particularly gnarly, I can definitely smell smoke in my garage. I'm assuming that it's okay for me to ride the indoor trainer in these conditions, but I wouldn't be too surprised to learn that I'm breathing garbage air in there too. I've got towels sealing the one big gap between the base of the garage side door and the open air outside, but the room is obviously not smoke proof. And using the indoor trainer in the summertime without cracking the doors for good ventilation brings its own challenges in terms of temperature control, which is part of the reason I've had to skip riding all together on hotter days.

I can also echo your experience with rapid changes to the air quality. Last Thursday was the first time that the conditions and my schedule lined up so that I could extend a little further from home and ride out to Woodside and up kings mountain. Never have I appreciated those beautiful redwood forests more... but by the time I was on my way home, the AQI was basically nosediving along the reservoir and it was pretty unpleasant to play the "smoke or fog?" game the whole way home.
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Old 09-01-20, 11:24 AM
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Get an air purifier and ride in the garage with the door closed. It'll be better than nothing, if you open it up all the way it's basically the same as the outside (I usually leave it open when I'm on the trainer, mostly when it's raining...it's kind of nice TBH)
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Old 09-01-20, 12:01 PM
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Yeah I'm going to start looking into air purifiers today. Even if this current issue resolves soon (and that's a big "if,") I'm sure I'll be glad to have it the next time we get hit by wildfire smoke. And the time after that, and the time after that...
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Old 09-01-20, 01:16 PM
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I have a PM 2.5 sensor (likely same sensor as PurpleAir uses from the pics I've seen -- it tracks the same for "Raw PM2.5 in microgram/meter**3" as the PA sensors in the neighborhood) that I move around the house and garage.

While the house stays in the green zone (Rabbit Air filter upstairs and down, always on), our three car garage is usually one bracket lower on the scales as the outdoor numbers if the garage doors aren't opened during the day. Our garage is not well sealed (open vent to the outside at floor and ceiling level, then plenty of gaps around each of the three garage doors) and it will take several hours of continuous running of a large HEPA filter to get the numbers down to where I'd even consider exercising out there.

I don't think the smell is any indication of how polluted the air is. During the fall of 2018 (?), when it was dense fog-like visibility in Sacramento, I exercised in the garage on the days that didn't seem too bad outside (w/o any idea what the numbers in the garage were) and had no problem doing FTP intervals. After reading more about the effects of PM 2.5, and then having a sensor to measure the numbers, I think even exercising in the garage was a terrible idea.

So I'm just waiting it out. If it hasn't improved by this weekend I'll look at bringing the trainer back into the house and re-activating my Zwift account.
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Old 09-01-20, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by anotherbrian View Post
While the house stays in the green zone (Rabbit Air filter upstairs and down, always on), our three car garage is usually one bracket lower on the scales as the outdoor numbers if the garage doors aren't opened during the day. Our garage is not well sealed (open vent to the outside at floor and ceiling level, then plenty of gaps around each of the three garage doors) and it will take several hours of continuous running of a large HEPA filter to get the numbers down to where I'd even consider exercising out there.
Ugh, thanks for sharing this. I hate it.

My single-car garage is probably better sealed than what you're describing of yours, but it's not the same as an enclosed room by a long shot. I don't know how people do strenuous riding inside the finished part of a house... no matter how many fans I point at myself, I always leave a truly disgusting amount of sweat in my wake. I see photos of people's zwift setup in the living room with a modest-sized mat under them and I can't even imagine how disastrously that would go down for me.
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Old 09-01-20, 02:41 PM
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Indoor-Indoor trainer

I use a single Wahoo Headwind fan indoors.
Don't forget human cooling will depend on ambient indoor humidity and temp.

With all the smoke, the house has been shut up and A/C'ed for days.
I find it quite comfortable indoors at 72F and <55% on a trainer


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Old 09-01-20, 03:21 PM
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My garage is mostly a finished room, no direct ventilation from the outside, and in fact the door was carefully weatherstripped. I've been using it. It's probably got better air than my house. So that's where I've been riding when it's too smokey out. BUT today looks to be clearing, and if this holds I'll be hitting the road later. I really don't like riding the trainer.

I did find some videos that worked to motivate me on YouTube. "Shadow Cyclist" has a 33 minute ride down Canada from 92, and a climb of Old La Honda. I did those on Friday and Sunday. He also has a descent of West Old La Honda (one of my favorite rides) that I used for cooling down. I tried his ride from San Gregorio to Pescadero on Rt 1, but it's 40 minutes of long boring climb and too-short descent, which is probably what riding the actual road is like. No wonder people take Stage Road instead!

EDIT: Having climbed OLH dozens of times, I adjusted the gears to what I remember the steepness to be in various places, like the right hand turn where the grade goes REAL steep, and you have to stand on the pedals all the way to the telephone pole with the 3 stripes.
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Old 09-01-20, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
I did find some videos that worked to motivate me on YouTube. "Shadow Cyclist" has a 33 minute ride down Canada from 92, and a climb of Old La Honda. I did those on Friday and Sunday. .
If you're on a Smart Trainer give FulGaz a look.
The TV shows the rides in 4K video, and the App controls the trainer. The 4K video goes up hill and you have to produce the watts to climb the hill. You ride faster, the video speeds up.
The website has some lower resolution demo rides that you can just play (no account required) and a trial (account required) of the full app.

I tried zwift twice, went to FulGaz and never looked back.

Barry

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Old 09-01-20, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Barry2 View Post
If you're on a Smart Trainer give FulGaz a look.
The TV shows the rides in 4K video, and the App controls the trainer. The 4K video goes up hill and you have to produce the watts to climb the hill. You ride faster, the video speeds up.
The website has some lower resolution demo rides that you can just play (no account required) and a trial (account required) of the full app.

I tried zwift twice, went to FulGaz and never looked back.

Barry
No, my trainer's strictly dumb.

I watched a GCN video on Zwift, showing both cheap and probably ungodly expensive ways of doing it. The cheap one, I can manage, I think - I just need an ant+ dongle and a USB extension cable. The expensive one had not only a smart, wheel-off trainer, but also had a device for the FRONT that would raise or lower it to match the grade you're riding in the video. If I had extra money and extra room, I could see doing that.
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Old 09-01-20, 07:52 PM
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This morning did not look promising. But by 4, it looked good enough to risk it. Under 50 (LRAPA adjusted) from San Mateo to Woodside, and nothing scary upwind. Rode from home to the peak of Canada and back, about 26 miles. Exactly the same ride I did last Tuesday. Nearly the same time, too - only 6 seconds difference! It was chilly, it was windy, it was foggy - it was wonderful!!! WAY better than sweating in the garage!
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Old 09-06-20, 08:44 PM
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It can get really frustrating and discouraging. These fires and the heat are really wearing me out. The air quality was great yesterday and now today it was back up to 180. Im thinking buying a trainer for days when I just cant get outside. Not nearly as enjoyable as riding outside, but I want to stay as consistent as I can.
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Old 09-06-20, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Ridetolive707 View Post
It can get really frustrating and discouraging. These fires and the heat are really wearing me out. The air quality was great yesterday and now today it was back up to 180. Im thinking buying a trainer for days when I just cant get outside. Not nearly as enjoyable as riding outside, but I want to stay as consistent as I can.
I have a trainer I bought for winters, and haven't used that much. I thought I'd give Zwift a try, so I bought myself the ANT dongle and an extension cord, but fortunately it hasn't been smokey enough to skip riding IRL. So I'll end up wasting my 7 day free trial.
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