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.