Friday, December 26, 2008

Skating away

So I rode the X to the Co-op this afternoon to pick up some groceries and special orders. I hitched up the trailer to carry the two cheesecakes waiting for our extended family gathering tomorrow. Our street and alley were basically solid ice with holes, ruts, and the occasional patch of paving stone or pavement. It was insane to be out on foot, car, or bike. At least I had some traction from the studded tires. Putting my foot down was only for the purpose of sliding/propping the bike from slipping out from under me entirely. Now, if I could only figure a way to have shoes with ice traction so I could be a bit more assured on foot.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

If you think commuting in winter is tough...

From the New York Times

Video Library Player: Riders Through the Snow

During the Iditarod Trail Invitational, racers brave hundreds of miles of frozen Alaskan wilderness on foot, ski or bicycle.

This video focuses on two men training for the race by bike. Talk about tough winter riding!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Study indicates "Active Transportation" = less obesity

This Associated Press article was published a few days ago. I thought this deserved attention, especially given Adam's post on Cycling and Health (Dec. 16).

Study: Leaner nations bike, walk, use mass transit

I posted this to Bike Michiana and RootsRadicals as well.


P.S. Current temp = 0 F with 23 mph winds from the West. That brings windchill to -24 F. Forecast high temp is 5 F.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


As in head cold sick. I've been sick since the weekend. I really haven't ridden since just over a week ago and I can tell my legs are screaming, "Ride! We're atrophying!" Weather doesn't look very nice - very icy and snowy tonight and tomorrow w/just above freezing temps during the day, then dropping into the low teens by Saturday. Yeehah. Slow, cold going. Well, hopefully this head cold will be done soon enough and I'll be able to ride w/out sliming myself or coughing up tons of phlegm.

Time to go charge batteries for lights...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My right pedal broke a couple of weeks ago - at least that's when I became aware of it. The cage around the pedal broke, apparently some time ago, but I hadn't noticed. I only noticed after one of the screws holding the cage in place began working loose. I heard the distinct squeak of metal against metal and traced down the source. I've since replaced the broken set with new Velo-Orange Touring Pedals.

Unlike other pedals I've used in the past, there's no purchase area for a traditional pedal wrench for installation/removal. I was completely clueless about how to securely mount the pedals and sent Chris Kulczycki at Velo-Orange a rather arrogant note informing him of this problem and suggesting he change the design to allow for use of pedal wrenches. His simple, one line response?
Like many modern pedals these are installed with an Allan wrench from the back of the spindle.
Oh..! That solved what was clearly "my problem." Thanks, Chris, for the great pedals. They work wonderfully with Power Grip Straps installed.

Monday, November 3, 2008

KickBack video: using WideLoaders w/KickBack

Here's a video response to recent discussion of the KickBack stand for the Xtracycle FreeRadical and Surly Big Dummy.

Using WideLoaders with KickBack - Xtracycle from Xtracycle on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

KickBack: First Thoughts

I originally posted this in the Roots Radicals Xtracycle discussion group. See the response from Xtracycle folk there.


I've had the new KickBack on my X for a few days. Here are a few thoughts about it.


1) It was easy to install

2) It holds loads solidly. I just got back from the grocery store loaded with 80 to a 100 lbs of grocries (long story). No problems loading or unloading with the KickBack whatsoever. This would've been much more difficult with the Greenfield (?) kickstand.

3) It looks sleek and blends in well.


1) feet and axle ends are plastic plugs with screw-on plastic knobs. The knobs were not really securable by hand - they rattled loose quickly. I used a channel lock wrench to lightly grasp them and torque them down snugly.

2) Spring tension is fine, though the stand "bounces" up and down a bit over significant bumps in the road.

Suggested fixes to the Cons

1) a very thin, flat rubber washer would help secure the feet/ends in place without fear of over-torquing.

2) Would be neat if there was a "latch" of sorts that could be added to the chainstay and "catch" the left side leg just enough to keep the stand from "bouncing." I don't think spring tension alone will do the trick. The latch/catch could be an inverted plastic U shaped fitting with low profile nubs on the inside of the legs of the U (internal serifs??). A bolt could pass through the legs of the U and, with a bushing to protect against scratches, secure the U in place.

These are simply brainstorms and would need much more refining - I have no illusions about convenient quick-fixes to #2.


It's worth it. I can feel pretty confident that my X won't fall over as I load and unload as long as I'm not being very foolish. I'd strongly recommend this to anyone with an X or a Big Dummy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Breaking in

I put on my Nokian Hakapeliitta W240's on Tuesday (thanks to Peter White). I'm working on breaking them in before winter hits. We could get ice or snow anytime in the next few weeks.
The rolling resistance is much greater than the smoother, road-friendly tires I use during warm weather. Guess I'll be in even better shape soon!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tow Away Zone

As usual on Mondays, Benjamin and I rode our bikes to Grandma's place after picking up Alta at pre-school. What was unusual was leaving Grandma's early to go to a bike advocacy meeting. This meant leaving both kids at Grandma's with Carol to finish up the evening. But how to get Benjamin's bike home while pulling the trailer? I collapsed the trailer and put the front wheel and fork into the left hand sling/bag of the Xtracycle and secured it with the straps from the FreeRadical and one bungee cord. The rear wheel sat in the middle of the trailer. It worked out quite well!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Definitely a bike geek

Just read about the new Kickback stand from Xtracycle on Commute by Bike. It's great news for Xtracycle owners. I've been so frustrated with the X falling over when parked with heavy loads. This should make things much easier. Nonetheless, it was a bit of a surprise to find myself shouting with glee when I saw the photo and read about it.

Went through bike withdrawal today. I overslept and had to drive to work. My routines are all out of sorts - I'm a creature of habit. My son even said, "Dad, don't drive up to the bike racks, okay?" on our way home to pick up his sister.

Last, just heard that the Bianchi frame and fork were delivered for sandblasting and painting this afternoon. The choice of color? "Safety Yellow." Gee! :-)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Another slight modification

I "built" a mount for a Planet Bike Superflash for the back end of the FreeRadical Snapdeck tonight. This will finally give me a light mount that won't get bashed around on the back end. I took a small chunk of hard wood, about 1" x 1" x 3", and drilled out two screw holes for mounting to the underside of the Snapdeck, then countersank them. I drilled out a hole on the right hand side (port?) and attached the plastic mount/fitting to the butt end of the wood through the machine screw pivot/hole of the mount. Next, I located center of the Snapdeck and pre-drilled the Snapdeck once. After snugly, but not tightly, screwing it into place, I attached the light to the plastic fitting, then sighted along the top of the Snapdeck for focus of the beam. When satisfied, I then pre-drilled the second hole. All is now snugly in place. The light is still removable and the mount is out of the way, so there's no fear of smashing the light or the mount. The light is not very visible directly from the sides, but is clearly visible from at least 140 degrees to the rear.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Calculate this

From the folks at Commute by Bike. The Gas Savings calculator

Saturday, September 20, 2008

BUI? and more Wrenching

So, I stopped by a backyard music festival this evening to catch a couple of tunes and talk to some friends. Really, I went there to talk to musician friends about playing mandolin with them for a wedding in mid-October. After that all happened, I walked back to my X to find a couple of mildly inebriated friends (fathers of kids who attend same school/grade as my son) checking it out. It was rather amusing to tell them about it while they admired it and the Dinotte lights. I offered to let one of them take it for a spin, but he politely declined, inferring he might not the be safest rider in his state of, well, bliss.

Forgot to mention my thanks to Eric for all the help with the Bianchi. I took the frame over to his home shop to try and get the supposedly adjustable (not at all, actually) cup out of the bottom bracket. We banged on it with hammers and chisels, hung on it with wrenches, and attempted to cut through it - all with no progress. He then had the brilliant idea of using a bench vise to clamp down on what little area was available for a purchase, then both of us pulled and pushed on the frame. It worked! The cup finally came out and the frame (and fork) are now ready for sandblasting and painting. The color is yet to be determined.

If we can come close to the bike pictured below, I think we'll be very happy. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Did some "wrenching" this evening and swapped out the quill stems and handlebars on the Trek Singletrack 930 and the Specialized Ground Control. Also swapped out the skewers on so we can us the Singletrack to haul the trailer. The whole purpose is to get the Specialized out of use and eventually strip the main components and use them on the Bianchi after it's painted. I'm hoping most/all the parts will fit. Guess we'll find out soon enough. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Heckled with Jive

Today was the first time I can ever recall being heckled while riding my bike. I couldn't make out what was being yelled the first time, but I clearly heard, "Why don't you ride on the sidewalks!" the second time. Both times I was riding appropriately and legally with traffic. The second time around I wanted to yell back something like, "Cause they're sideWALKS not sideROADS!" Fortunately, I wasn't that miffed at the time - I was, after all, waiting for a green light in the Left turn lane of a busy intersection in Goshen (yes, there are such things here). Other factors: both happened on my way home this afternoon sometime between 4:00 and 4:14 p.m. That means more teen drivers were out, more folks were getting off work, more folks had had daylight hours to get drunk, high, or peeved about other things in their lives, etc. Dunno why, but it did bug me a bit. Nonetheless, I'll keep riding safely and riding on the street when possible and "safe" to do so.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rainy days and Mondays

Rode to work today and missed the rain after the rain after the rain and then some. Got to ride home in a light mist of a rain with partial blue skies. Nice - until my chain slipped and got jammed between my chainrings. Luckily it happened when pulling up to a stop light. A quick jump onto the curb and a few tweaks and I was back on the road without any problems. Did the Monday afternoon pick-up-son-on-back-of-X-then-get-trailer-and-his-bike-and-go-to-piano-class-then-pick-up-lil'-sis-in-the-trailer-and-off-to-Grandmas routine. The weather has been very cool - in the low 6o's and likely will hit the mid 40's tonight. It's great biking weather with light layers.

Friday, September 12, 2008

In praise of Dinotte lights

I've had a Dinotte 200L light for several months now and love it. I have it mounted on my helmet. It draws odd looks during the day, but in the early morning when I need it, it's fantastic. I recently added another to my handlebars and one of their tail lights as well. I can now see so much better when commuting and know that there's really no excuse to not see me from the rear. I'll edit this later to add either photos or some brief video clips.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Funny thing happened on the way to my blog

A while back, I posted a review of my Dinotte headlight to At least I thought I did. As I was completing it, they offered me the chance to post my review to my blog. I chose to do so, then pushed the "publish" button and, "Presto!" it appeared on my blog, but not on the REI site. Go figure. See my review above for the real deal.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


So, Carol and I are now most of the way through stripping down the Bianchi. I'm stuck with a crank that won't come off - the dustcap threads are slightly stripped on the Left side and I can't get the puller to properly set. Back to work on that tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New from old

We picked up a well used Bianchi mixte style frame today. It's at least 22 years old, but in reasonable shape. This one will be for Carol, who misses her old Miata. I'll strip it down with help from Eric, then have the frame sent out for sandblasting and painting. I'll strip off the components from my several year old Specialized Ground Control and use them for the Bianchi. Most of the current components are rusty. I'll try and bust the rust off what seems reasonable. Whatever, it will be an adventure!

Monday, August 18, 2008


So, I've been busy! There's lots going on over at Goshen Bikes and Bike Michiana these days. I've been fairly active in the Goshen Bikes group and admire the Bike Michiana efforts. We're networking with that group in the effort to work more efficiently

Personally, I'm excited by my new (old) ride: a Trek Singletrack 930. I replaced the super knobby tires with some Bontrager Select Inverts and feel like some kind of sprinter when I'm on this thing. Of course, all the miles on the X pulling loads and commuting probably help a wee bit...

I'm happy to say I'm getting much closer to commuting by bike five days a week. I've got the gear, there's no excuse, it's time to just do it. Some neighbors across the street recently sold their second car and he now rides to work every day. Now that's inspiring! It reminds me of the Xtracycle stickers that reads:

I lost
3500 lbs
in one day.
Ask me how.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Chain Reaction Bicycle Project (Goshen, IN) is holding its first workshop Saturday July 12, 2008. The workshop is titled Road 1: Safe Cycling and will be taught by League of American Bicyclists licensed instructor John Yoder. The Road 1 course is designed for current or prospective bicycle commuters, recreational riders, touring or club cyclists, parents that ride with their family, or people that just want to get around town. Both beginners and more experienced riders will learn how to safely and confidently use their bicycle for transportation in all types of road, traffic and weather conditions. The course includes several hours of on-bike experience, practicing the techniques that are taught.

For more information visit

or contact Eric Saner, director of the Chain Reaction Bicycle Project. 574-903-3056 or .

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Eyes Have It

--- protection that is. A while back, I mentioned wearing eye protection for riding. Here's another example of good reasons to wear such gear.

Sometime last week I was riding home afterwork. I was moving along at an average clip (about 15 mph) on that sunny day when, WHAP! Out of nowhere, a bee suddenly came into view and bounced off my eye wear. I had a split second's awareness that a bee was suddenly in front of me before it hit. There was no time to react, only hindsight (so to speak) to recognize what had just occurred. The bee would've been a direct hit on my right eye ball (bullseye on my eyeball?) with out time to even try and blink. Lord knows how bad that could've been if I'd been stung, too. I'm simply relieved to know I can write about it as a close call, not an accident.

So, please wear protective eye wear. You don't have to spend lots of cash on brand name eyewear. You can find decent, inexpensive protective eye wear at hardware stores or Big Box staores if it fits your budget.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pumpkin Time

A friend and I rode the 22 mile route of the Pumpkin Vine Bike Ride yesterday. It was a beautiful morning for a ride with clear skies after a rain in the pre-dawn hours. Mist hung in the air as we rode to the starting point in Abshire Park. The night before, I stripped down the X to it's bare frame, leaving looking a bit like a vintage motorcycle. That lopped off several extra pounds and made the ride astoundingly easy for me. Maybe next year I'll try the 42 mile route, but I'm also thinking about helping my son train for the 22 mile route. He's really taken to his "new" Giant MTX 225 (w/rigid fork) and can easily keep up with Carol and I at a moderate pace. If I can find a set of slicks for it, he'll really fly along.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rude Awakening

I biked to work today in the early morning rain. It was a light rain and the air temp was about 67. I consciously worked at enjoying the experience and had prepared for it by wearing light, quick drying clothes and closed toe sandals.

An aside, I've recently realized a nice transition of driving/riding awareness: I sometimes forget I'm in a car and want to go park where I'd normally park my bike. I sometimes forget I'm on my bike and forget I'm exposed to the elements. This last experience leads me to what happened today.

My ride was going very well this morning. I was enjoying the rain, staying safe, and making good time. As I got close to work, I crossed into the left lane on the state route that passes the grounds of my workplace, Oaklawn Hospital. I'd checked behind me and there were no cars coming. I looked ahead and waited for traffic to pass before turning left into the drive. As I waited, a semi-tractor trailer appeared in the oncoming traffic. Remember the rain? I was completely caught off-guard as I caught the full spray from the truck as it passed me by. The spray felt like a blanket of fine water drops drenching the entire front of my body. Luckily, I had my old Oakley Factory Pilots protecting my eyes. I stayed upright and could make the turn safely.

What a rude awakening! I was suddenly shocked by the reminder of just how vulnerable I am to the weather and to cars/trucks. While I can laugh at it now, I will remember this experience for a long time and be better prepared the next time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Two for one or One for Two?

I picked up a used Giant MT 225 for Benjamin yesterday from our local bike shop. It was 1/3 the price of a new bike. We checked out a new bike last Saturday and he absolutely fell in love with it. However, I balked at the price when I found out that a cleaned up and freshly tuned up used bike was available and was actually a better fit for him. So, I made the frugal choice and waited three days for the work to be done. Benjamin loves it and want to go out riding. It's wonderful to see him able to keep up with me at a decent pace. Hooray! We can go riding together!

Rode only 3 miles yesterday and only about 1.5 today. Hope to commute tomorrow.

good night!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Cycling for Everyone

Just got a chance to view a few minutes of this wonderful video. I plan to make time to watch the whole thing:

Cycling for Everyone: Lessons for Vancouver from the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany
John Pucher, professor of planning and public policy, Rutgers University
May 15, 2008, Vancouver

This is long, but may be very useful for bike advocacy. Notice this is by a professor of planning and public policy.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Not just for kids

Saw this on the Surly blog and found it amusing and wise.

Rode about 3 miles yesterday with Benjamin on the X. We spent time at our local bike shop and though we could've spent $300 on a new Trek for him, chose to spend about $90 for a used Giant MTX 225 for him. The shop will tweak it a bit and get it ready for safe riding (new brake cable and new shifter). Looking forward to him being able to keep up with us and ride much longer distances than he has in the past on his much smaller single speed.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Worth it and more

I was riding across town this evening and got stopped by a young man riding a nicely set-up road bike. He mentioned seeing my ride by on my X a few nights ago and was inspired. He's been thinking about buying an X for his mtn bike and hadn't realized there was anyone in our small city that owned one (there are actually three of us). He asked about it and I told about and he salivated about it... and now he's going to buy one. That will make four Xs in our city of 30k that I know of. :-)

Late this afternoon I participated in an organizing meeting to re-energize our nascent bike advocacy/action group. I'm excited! We'll hold at least one more "organizing meeting" before holding more advocacy/action (and socializing) meeting.

Riding home this evening, I kicked into high gear on the major downhill portion of my commute. I managed to hit 33.1 mph. Whew!

Rode about 9.5 total miles today.


I'm finally commuting by bike this week. Will go in this morning. Have done lots of errands by bike and not been accounting for most of them. Used the car Tues and Weds due to chaotic schedules. Picked up the kids by bike both days. Did a big grocery run on Monday. No clue on the mileage - haven't been tracking. Avon broke her knee Thursday and we've been very busy running errands for her. Michael comes today to stay for a few days - that will be wonderful in many ways!

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Please excuse this rambling.

I just got back from volunteering time at Community CycleWorks, where I allowed some well-heeled folks to take test rides on my X. That was fun and I'm glad others got to have that experience. Then came reality of helping folks with their bikes. I'm not much of a mechanic yet, but I have a good sense of how things work and can do some basic maintenance. I ended up spending 2 hours there. While there I helped do such simple repairs as properly setting a kickstand and feeding a chain through a derailleure. I also worked on diagnosing some derailleure problems, doing a complicated repair on a tandem's rear wheel (flat tire, messy cable ends, poor wheel alignment) owned by some developmentally disabled friends, and more. At one point, a person helping out came up to me and started talking about volunteering as a way to stay clean and sober. He was spending time there to be of service until he can find work and reasonable housing for his family. When he found out I was a social worker he asked me for a referral to a mental health program. Later, I walked out of the shop in time to overhear a well-heeled couple walking by and snickering to themselves about the used bikes and the concept of such an effort. I kept my mouth shut, though I had a few choice thoughts.

So, right here and right now I'm grateful for all the resources I've had in my life that allow me to compose this message on a state-of-the-art home computer and have the perspective to recognize socioeconomic disparities as something very real - not something that happens "out there," but right here in front of my eyes. I'm grateful for my X and grateful I have a choice of whether to ride it or drive my pretty well functioning car down pretty well maintained roads.

More power to all of you who spend time volunteering in places where many need help with their bicycles, where ever you may be.


Awareness Test

For your attention.

Rode about 8 miles yesterday commuting and doing chores.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


I have not ridden as much this week. Hardly rode Monday or Tuesday. Did ride yesterday to work and after work to pick up the kids. Got the correct mileage now: it is 5 miles round trip for my work commute. Round trip to grandma's, childcare, and home is 3 miles. So, I rode 8 miles for usual riding plus one mile round trip to the Electric Brew and back to talk about some bicycle safety class planning for later in June. Check out SafeCycling, John Yoder's website, for a sense of the content he'll be presenting.

Didn't ride today and it's a good thing. Grandma (mother-in-law) fell over the lunch hour and is in the hospital with a broken knee cap, broken ankle, and a big contusion over her left eye. Hopefully, the eye socket is intact, but there is some bleeding below and behind the eye. I was able to drive home quickly and care for Alta while Carol went to the hospital to helpe her mother.  Prayers please for her well being as physicians attend to her needs and make decisions about how/when to proceed with interventions.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Catching up

Friday: Rode to work - 2.5 miles. Rode to Bag Factory from work, then home - 3.9 miles. Rode to the Chief and back with Benjamin on board - 2.5 miles. Total for the day: 8.9 miles.

Spent time on the Bongo board in the evening. Attempted juggling while on the board. Needs more work...

Saturday: Rode to church house and back - about .5 miles - BUT, rode with an extension ladder strapped to the X - Fun! Rode to Farmer's Market and back - about 1.75 miles. Rode to pick up dinner for the family at El Camino Real - 2.5 to 3 miles round trip. Total miles: 4.75.

Saturday was incredible weather - 72 degrees, light winds, clear skies... glorious!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tail Wind

Yesterday I had the luxury of tail winds on the way in to work and on the way home from work. The morning ride was very humid, cool, and windy. I couldn't believe how the tail wind helped on my ride to work. While the big climb was still big, it was easier. I usually stick to sidewalk along the last section of major roadway, but chose to ride in the street instead. Acceleration was very quick and I wound up accelerating in my top gear while going ascending the last rise. I could almost keep pace with traffic for the last 100 yards or so.

Riding home was not so wild, but was a very nice change, since I've often had head winds and lose the benefit of descending into town. I later picked up the kids and took both home. That was more challenging as I was carrying/pulling both while heading into the wind.

Mileage: 5 miles commuting. 1.25 to pick up the kids. 1.25 with the kids. Total of about 7.5.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ask for the sky

Yesterday I asked if someone in housekeeping could sweep out the bike shed or point me to a broom I could use to do the task. This afternoon I found the shed well swept out. Wow... that's a great response time. I'm glad to be working in such a place. I also asked if someone could put in a plexiglass window to allow for more light into the space, thus leaving the bikes less vulnerable to someone pilfering/stealing from property in the shed. I'll be astounded if that actually happens. 

Rode to and from work today with a small side detour to pick up son at afterschool childcare. Total riding, maybe 3.25 miles.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Of Bikes and Balloons

Did absolutely no riding yesterday - felt strange. It was a very wet and chilly day.

Chose not to bike commute this morning due to a variety of afternoon errands. Did bike to pick up my daughter from childcare and took her to Monday night at Grandma's. My wife also rode over. Going home, we swapped the trailer from the X to the "red bike" and my son rode home on the back of the X. Earlier, we bought and delivered balloons for a birthday gathering, not thinking that my wife would also be biking. So, we simply put the balloon weight in the trailer and had the balloons bounce around behind. So, we had a small, two person bike parade on the way home. :-)

Total riding today: maybe 3 miles.

Off to bed!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Social biking

I hitched up the child trailer to the back of the X this morning and took both kids to the birthday party for a now 3 year old friend. It's a nice feeling to not feel winded or overly hot after about a mile. I did not bring enough layers for after I arrived - the party was outside - and was getting a bit chilly until I put on my biking vest and a borrowed hat.

Another discovery, I can flatten our child trailer quite easily while still leaving it very roadworthy. This makes it a lot easier to pull when our daughter is not riding in the back. When she is in the trailer, her weight adds momentum which helps push the trailer through headwind. When she's not in it, it sometimes feels like I'm pulling a parachute. I guess that could be useful for strength training, but it's really not helpful when I'm simply going to pick her up or after I drop her off. I did this trick for the second time this afternoon after my wife took our daughter home by car after she returned from a bird count this morning.

Last, my wife and I went out for dinner after dropping off our kids. It was really quite pleasant to bike together on a date without the kids literally in tow. 

Total riding today: about 3 to 4 miles.

Friday, May 9, 2008

sticky fingers

Someone walked off with my Planet Bike SuperFlash yesterday after I parked the X out on Main Street. I didn't discover it was missing until this morning as I prepared to commute. That's a small, not inexpensive lesson learned: take it off the bike and pack it along when the bike is parked in public.

Rode about 6.5 to 7 miles today. About one (+) mile was with son on the back of the X.

I heard there was a Critical Mass ride in our small town earlier this evening. Chose not to go and take it very easy instead.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

keeping it simple

Didn't ride into work. Too tired after being up too late working on getting our new iMac all in sync. 

Rode to the LBS for a bike flag for my son's bike. Talked shop/gear. Got to ride my first fixie and almost got thrown off the bike! Total riding today pretty low: about 2 miles. 

more tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Someday I may be motivated enough to get a Big Dummy, Yuba Mundo, or something akin to either. Right now, I'm working on finding ways of stretching dollars. Someday, I'll transform our child trailer into something more capable of carrying large loads as well. Between the X and the trailer, we'll probably be set. Do we NEED to have two utility bikes? No. Do we want two, yes. Can we work around "just" having one? Absolutely. Am I tempted to buy another long-tail, absolutely. Will we ever be car-free? Probably not, given our particular set of life circumstances.

Rode about 6 to 7 miles, including commuting and going to vote today.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

In search of...

Recycling bins. Where did the bins go? I loaded up the X with two large loads of flattened cardboard to haul to the recycling bins at a park near the local grocery store. When I got there this afternoon, they were simply gone. All 10+ of them. Were they moved around the time of the local flood two months ago? Probably. Was there any notice about where they'd been moved? No. Did anyone at a nearby store have a clue about where they might have been relocated? No.

I wound up going home, off-loading the cardboard, then returning to get groceries. Wasted (?) about 40 minutes of time in the process. I was sorely tempted to toss the cardboard in a dumpster, but chose to wait it out and drop it off elsewhere sometime later this week. At least the weather was beautiful and the wind light. The ride was easy.

Total riding today: about 5 miles. Two trips to the area grocery store, a bit of riding about in search of bins, and round trip to church. 1 mile with son on board.

Interesting development

Yesterday was spent, in part, at a pig roast, where I got to help de-bone the meat after roasting. I enjoyed the company of friends as we prepared to celebrate one friend's 40th birthday and graduation from college. It's always inspiring to me when folks go back to school and further themselves. This friend dropped out of high school and never thought he'd amount to much in his life. He was inspired by service with Mennonite Voluntary Service and eventually went to college. He was voted student of the year in his discipline this year and his field instructor patiently waited for him to make other job decisions before hiring him with a few years experience credits and multilingual capacity. What a great story! Did I mention he's the first person in his family of origin to graduate from college?

What was amusing/interesting to me: I took my bongo board along to the roast. I've been using a homemade bongo board (1" x 12" x 30" shelf quality board with grip tape and a 4" OD PVC pipe about 18" long) to work on my balance and core strength. I also bought a wobble and balance board for use inside with my kids a couple of months ago. Along with all the biking I've been doing, my legs are getting pretty strong and my sense of balance is getting pretty good.

Back to the roast: I broke out the bongo board and invited some friends to try it out. I demonstrated for a while, not realizing I was keeping the board off the ground for an extended period of time. I also shuffled my feet in to center myself while I had my hands in my pockets (I was a bit chilly). My friends joked I was making it look easy. I wasn't trying to - I was simply doing what I do. Well, just about everyone else wound up see-sawing side-to-side, banging the board hard on the sidewalk. One friend took quite a flyer and, thankfully, didn't get hurt. I had no idea I'd gained that strength/capacity. I later took the bongo board to the real party (many guests and lots of great food). The board was great entertainment for kids and a few adults.

Total mileage yesterday: maybe 2 miles. The weather was very blustery and colder later in the afternoon. We would up using the cars in the evening.

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Blustery Day

The day started off much warmer than two days before, when I felt like the ice man by the time I got to work. Temps were in the upper 50's to low 60's. To top it off, the contractors building a car wash near my work finally got around to repairing the sidewalk they tore up to allow construction equipment access from the state route. I've been riding against traffic for about 100 yards along a somewhat perilous strip of that route - in the dark - and it's been rather anxiety provoking. The other side of the route is broken up somewhat due to water seeping onto/under the road - from what source I don't know. So, I choose to ride the sidewalks along that stretch - but couldn't do so much of the winter due to the missing sidewalk. I'm relieved it's finally in place and pedestrians as well as bicyclists can travel safely and without need to walk/ride through mud.

The blustery part: We once again had very strong southerly winds this afternoon - 25 mph average with stronger gusts. I was lucky enough to miss out on the thunderstorms from earlier in the day. After my last battle against the wind, I decided to simply go slow and steady and not exhaust myself trying to maintain any kind of speed. It was a much nicer ride home and I was able to enjoy the sensation of the wind this time around.

This evening, we rode over to our local ice cream shop and enjoyed some delicious cones. We decided to simply park out bikes and trailer in one car's space. Amusingly, we got lots of stares. Not amusingly, it amazed me how many people left their cars running while waiting for family members to pick up their orders. So many youth are still pouring tons of cash into tricked-out cars. Then again, my nehru-style "bike jacket" may have drawn a bit of attention, too... We bought this a few weeks ago at a boutique having a great sale. It's reversable, with the other side black with white bikes. Of course, I'm not going to wear something black while riding about, so the white side gets preferential treatment.

Total riding today: about 7 miles. 5 on the X with my typical workbag full of clothing and 2 toting my 50 lb son.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


I'm lucky enough to work at a facility that's 2.5 miles from my home. Our region has a large population of Amish. The Amish often ride their bikes and/or drive horse drawn buggies. A bike and buggy shed was built on the north end of the main parking lot a few years ago. If you look carefully at the photo to the left, you can just see inside the shed. Take a look at the overexposed photo of the shed to the right and you'll get a better idea of the interior (That's not a pile of mud on the right hand side...). It's wonderful to have such a blend of cultures here. As for the bike side of things, there are a number of junker bikes in the rack right now I'm working on getting cleared out. I hope to make the shed more easily accessible for others who commute for work or business.

No entry from yesterday due to illness. I rode to work and felt horribly cold when I arrived. I managed to make it through the day, then spent hours in bed after work. A belly bug and low grade temp knocked me out most of the evening. 5 miles total biking for the commute. I'm giving myself a break physically today and not riding at all or very little to allow my body to rest.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A forkful of haulers

So here's a photo of the X with the RST suspension swapped out for the Surly 1x1. The ride is much more stable than with the suspension fork. I can ride no-handed easily. Accelerating feels confident and strong. I'm very glad I made the switch. I rode by myself and with my son on the back today for a total of about 5 miles. We rode from his school to home, home to grandmother's, grandmother's to home, home to Krogers, Krogers to the Credit Union, then CU to home.

I skipped biking in to work today after waking up feeling like a truck ran over me. I'll bike commute tomorrow morning, despite the just at or below freezing temperatures forecast.

Here's another angle of the X.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Fork on the road

The new fork is now on the X. I hope to get some photos of it up later. I've only had time to ride it home from the LBS in the rain, but already notice some differences. The 1x1 is about 20 mm shorter from crown to axle than the RST suspension forks, so it lowers everything. The pedals are suddenly noticeably closer to the ground, the ride seems more stable, and I feel much more confident somehow. Is that just new gear thrill? More after commuting tomorrow.

And speaking of tomorrow, the temps are to drop into the mid to lower 30's tonight. It's already about 39. Back to chilly morning rides for the next couple of days at least.

If NYC has plans...

Just saw this in the online New York Times:

It’s All About the Bike

and there's a link to the NYC DOT Strategic Plan (also has graphics with LOTS of bike/biking photos)

Looks like there may be some great content!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sabbath and surprises

Spent an hour with my son out at a playground, shooting Arrowcopters and Flywheels up into the brisk wind. We rode to the playground and back - maybe 3/4 mile round trip. Spent more time lubing bike chains and tweaking kids bikes this afternoon. Bought a toolbox and compiled tools from various places in the house. Discovered we now have three chain tools and a variety of spoke adjusting tools. We have more bike stuff than I realized. Guess we're just getting back to where we "should be."

Hope to pick up the X tomorrow afternoon. Weather is supposed to be cool and rainy. Daughter was ill much of the day today and Carol and I will trade time at work and childcare tomorrow . I'll be cutting it close to the shop's closing time. Could be a cold, wet time riding home.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Changes and tweaks

The X is in the shop for a fork transplant. I'm swapping out the original RST suspension fork for a Surly 1x1. The suspension was simply too "squishy" a feel for me when I was pumping hard. Since I don't have the know-how to do major surgery like that, I'm leaving it in the hand of my LBS. I may have a bit of withdrawal the next couple of days without the X (a Trek 4300 with Xtracycle extension).

I am so glad to have this stand - it makes working so much easier, then folds up and sits patiently in a corner. I used the workstand to tweak the rear brakes of the Specialized Ground Control (1998?) and make a few other adjustments. After riding the X for so long, riding "the red bike" is like riding on a cloud. Nice to have the new pads adjusted well so this can stop on a dime. Also adjusted my son's brakes and replaced(!) the cheap pedals after one broke in a "traffic accident" with a neighbor's son. Another neighbor joked, "Are you setting up a bike shop?" No, but it's nice to not have to take our bikes in for simple maintenance and quick repairs.

Total riding today: about 3 to 4 miles over 30 minutes for local errands. Once again had stiff headwinds.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Head wind

We had very warm, humid temperatures of just over 80 degrees Fahrenheit this afternoon with SSW winds frequently hitting 25 mph or better. It was crazy hard to ride all the way home into that wind this afternoon. When I stopped at the co-op for some groceries, I couldn't believe how hot I felt out of the wind.

Off to the local bike shop tomorrow for some chain degreaser and lube. Time to learn how to clean my chain, gears, and derailleurs.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

good excuse

Spent little time on the bike today - needed to drive in so I could do a 20 mile round trip mid-day. Rode into town to pick up some tamales at Universal Tamale. Yum! Having folks over for daughter's belated birthday gathering, so don't expect any more biking/maintenance tonight.

Hope to bike commute tomorrow, though the forecast looks bleak/dreary. May be my first commute in the rain, who knows?

I had two co-workers ask me about bike commuting today. One noticed my high-visibility jerseys and another mentioned how she asked others "who is that person riding their bike to work?" This is good news, from a bike advocacy perspective. I hope this inspires others to bike to work as well. I've asked a co-worker to clean out a bunch of old/kids bikes that were left locked up in the bike rack all winter long. They're a mess and take up lots of usable space for other bike commuters to park in. The bike rack is located in a covered shed by the parking lot. It also serves as a horse and buggy shelter for Amish clients. There's a wall separating the two areas. It's fun to see the buggies and bikes side by side. I'll work on getting some photos of those to post later on.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


This blog will be a way of tracking my bike related activities. I don't really anticipate a lot of traffic here, but if so, you're welcome.

Today, I commuted by bike to work. It's a 5 mile round trip. There's one big hill on the way in and a few scary spots along the way (rural highway with little or no shoulder).

There was heavy dew and mist at times. It was hard to stay comfortable in that cool super humid weather.

Rode home with a nice tail wind and really flew along, kept pace with some traffic. Fun to do on my X.

Got home, attached the child trailer, then went to pick up my kids. Daughter rode in the trailer and son rode on the back of the X. That was another 2.5 or so miles. Rode back later to help my mother-in-law - another 2.5 miles. Picked up my son after kid's group at church - another mile.

Got to play with the new Ultimate Sport Mechanic workstand that arrived today. Great tool! (thanks for the referral, Devian). Figuring out how to use it with the X is fun. So much easier to work on the X. Also learning to use a few other tools. Scraping the rust off old memories of bike maintenance. How satisfying to easily adjust brake cables and derailleure and immediately feel the improvement. Hooray!

So, a total of about 11 miles riding today - and that's all for work and chores. Nice to know that saved about a third of a gallon of gas or so. Fantastic weather, too.