Friday, December 17, 2010

Slick times

Faced another delay in riding this week following a back spasm Saturday night. Finally got back on the X this morning. Temp was around 25 F with 10 mph winds from the WSW. About 1" of light, fluffy snow fell during the night, covering everything with a nice blanket of white. The roads, however, were another story. Under the snow was quite a lot of slick patches of packed/frozen snow and melted/refrozen snow. I almost dumped twice in areas I normally have no difficulty negotiating. I am sure I'd have hit hard if not for the studded tires. Thankfully, the afternoon's ride found clear roads.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I managed to ride in yesterday - in snow, ice, 15 degree weather and 3 degree wind chill. Why? Because I pretty much had t0, given one car's in the shop and the other was needed to transport our daughter (still recovering from strep at the time) to care with Grandma. Ride in was a bit anxiety provoking as I hadn't ridden in 2.5 weeks. Ride home was fine. This morning, however, my legs were exhausted and my sense of balance was all off. I'm still pretty tired (lack of sleep doesn't help) and hope to get to sleep early tonight. Won't get to ride again until Saturday or Monday, when lows are to be in the single digits. Hmm....

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Stomach flu Round 2 for our daughter just put biking today on hold. Rats... Hopefully, the rest of the family will stay well.


Just went out and adjusted my Power Grips to allow my new hiking boots to slip in and out during winter commuting. Freshly recharged batteries now in place. Took the X for a spin up and down the alley and everything is in working order. Commuting clothes are ready. All I need now is motivation boost at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow to get out and ride again. Your well wishes and prayers are appreciated!

On cold and snow.

There's an interesting little discussion on winter commuting over at BikeCommuters. I contributed a bit regarding why I use studded tires:
Anthony, I put mine on at the end of October to 1) get used to the extra rolling resistance and 2) be prepared for ice – can happen any time here. Big snow accumulation is not the issue. It’s the packed down light stuff – even small amounts – that turns intersections and blown snow/drifted areas into skating rinks. Then there’s freezing rain to face and, of course, pack melted or rutted and iced over snow. I’ve wiped out in all those circumstances from St. Louis, to Ann Arbor, to our small city in northern Indiana – all without studded tires. Since using studs two years ago I haven’t wiped out – at all. That means no injuries and no damage to my all-around bike. With these tires, I often feel more secure riding my bike in the winter than driving. This gives *me* peace of mind and has saved me $$ and pain (emo and physical). Safe riding to you, no matter what tires you ride on.

I currently am feeling way out of shape due to a challenging case of stomach flu followed by a very intense week of work. Really hoping to get on the bike and ride, despite the cold. Current forecast calls for snow and temps ranging from mid 20's to mid-teens. As I write, we're getting lake effect snow and freezing rain. Should be interesting riding!

On a positive note, I heard from a local recent reader that my post about Cli-Mitts was of use. My thanks him and others who inspired my return to the adventures of bicycle commuting. Now to get back on my bike and ride!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Getting ready for winter

It's fall. Temps are dropping. Had our first frost a few nights ago. Put on the Cli-Mitts am I glad for them! Will swap to snow-tires soon enough, maybe next weekend.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Long wheelbase?

After riding around on our Trek Singletrack this afternoon, I began to wonder if someone made a longish wheelbase frame that's more stable than a "standard" sized frame. I love the stability of my X. The Single track just feels squirrelly to me.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Power grips

Here's a three year old article on Powergrips as published in the Practical Pedal that really nails it. I love these things.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


As I wonder about all the money people spend to shave a few pounds off the elements of their bikes, I wonder how people don't pay much attention to their own body-weight. As the result of a higher than average cholesterol count, I'm taking a statin, watching my portions, cutting way back on snacks, and riding my bike more. I'm not sure of my cholesterol count yet, but over the last month or so I've lost about 6 pounds. That feels like a great start. I'm riding more confidently most days and working on using my upstroke (as well as the downstroke) when pedaling to get more power and greater range of muscle use when pedaling.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Bike To Work Week

Oaklawn participated in this year's Michiana Bike to Work Week. Three of five participants have logged their miles so far for a total of 135 miles. It's been exciting to see folks take the challenge and make the commitment to ride instead of drive. This was the first week in a long time when I had the opportunity and good weather to ride in all five days. I'm so grateful to live close enough to my job that bike commuting is both reasonably easy and practical.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bicycle Manufacturing 1925

Some interesting footage of bike manufacturing from the Netherlands in 1925. Saw this originally on and thought, once again, "Gee, this could be Elkhart County circa 2010" given the right people, resources, and circumstance.

Gazelle 1925 from Gazelle Bicycles Australia on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Making Garden

We spent part of the morning over at our Garden group's greenhouse learning about planting seeds in soil blocks. Carol and I biked over and the kids rode on the back of the X with B wrapping his arms around Alta to grip the stoker bar (We did order the PeaPod LT and look forward to Alta riding more securely!). The morning was very cool, but incredibly sunny - a perfect Spring day. After seeding, we did some birdwatching across the Mill Race. I lucked out and spotted a Baltimore Oriole nest hanging from a low tree branch over the Race. I noticed the brihgt orange flash of a female flitting about in the tree and followed her to the nest with my binoculars. Carol spotted some warblers for her list. Later on while chatting with friends, we were amused by the long-winded "caterwauling" of a catbird. A lovely morning!

You can ride a bike

I rewrote the lyrics to "Drive My Car" by the Beatles to work out some feelings of frustration over the BP Oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. At the time we were contemplating getting the Peapod LT, a good quality child bike seat for the back of our X. Originally posted this in the Yahoo group Roots Radicals for all things Xtracycle, Xtracycle picked it up and posted it on their blog. It's only fitting to post it to my own blog!


Asked my girl what she wanted to be.
She said Daddy, can't you see?
I wanna be healthy,
Have planet that's clean,
But you can do something in between...

Daddy you can ride a bike.
Pedal power's what I like.
Daddy you can ride a bike,
and we can be car free.
Ding ding a ling ling, yeah!

Told my girl that my prospects were good.
She said Daddy, it's understood.
A clean environment is more than just fine,
It gives me a chance to live a long time.

Daddy you can ride a bike.
Pedal power's what I like.
Daddy you can ride a bike,
and we can be car free.
Ding ding a ling ling, yeah!

I told my girl I can start right away
When she said listen Dad I got something to say
Just one less car is a fantastic start,
and lets get our friends to take on their part.

Friends you can ride a bike.
Bad balance? You can get a trike.
Friends you can ride a bike,
and we can be Oil free.
Ding ding a ling ling, yeah!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bike Elkhart

So, where is Elkhart and why do I care? I live in Elkhart County, IN. If you've not yet heard, we were once "the RV capital of the world." RV manufacturers in Elkhart were major employers in this region. As you might imagine, this luxury vehicle industry went belly-up (mostly) with the economic downturn. So, now there are many skilled machinists and plenty of manufacturing experts with little hope of finding work in this region. Gee, doesn't this sound like one heck of a retro-fit: Let's move from producing luxury-oriented, gas-guzzling RVs to economy minded, health minded, green-friendly bicycle production. Could happen!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Peapod order

We've taken the plunge and ordered the Peapod LT. While Alta can hold onto the stoker bar, we simply don't trust her ability to manage staying on the back of the X by herself. As a person with Down Syndrome, she has low muscle tone. Being herself, she's pretty amazing for someone with DS. However, we'd rather play it safe when it comes to being on the back of the bike. She's a small person, weighing just over 30 lbs, standing just about 39 inches, and being all of 6 years old. She should fit for quite a while. The Peapod will make commuting with her much easier. We've used a trailer for a few years and have liked it, but are ready to add more "freedom" more frequently (2 wheels = much more ease of transportation than 4 in a 2 + 2 configuration).

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Doing more

The oil spilling disaster in the Gulf has once again galvanized me to try and do more to bike more and drive less. We're now considering getting a Peapod LT accessory for our Xtracycle that will make carrying Alta around town much easier than hauling the trailer. The trailer may be transformed into something much more utilitarian.

Here's what boot_spurs set-up looks like on Flickr: