Personal Connections

I started thinking about the different ways I interact with people during my morning commute, after passing a school crossing guard.  The same guy is at this particular school crossing, pretty much every morning.  As I pass, we briefly greet each other.  I'm sure that the kids and parents going into the school talk to this man, but I highly doubt anyone in a car ever says anything to him.  If I ride on the bike-trail, there are regular people that I say good morning to, most of whom I don't have a clue what their name is, but certainly recognize from our many encounters.  I'm sure none of these encounters will blossom into a friendship, but it's a nice way to start the day.

I also meet up with other bike commuters, which frequently gives us an opportunity to spend more time talking.  Some of these, I've run into multiple times and can actually follow up on previous conversations, most I'll probably never see again.  Still, it helps the time pass and I have an opportunity to chat about the world as we are pedaling our way to work.   A number of the people I've met multiple times, have even pointed out where they live, just in case I ever have a problem and need some help on my ride to and from work.

These two examples of "relationships" got me wondering whether this wasn't a solution for road rage.  A car is such a good insulator from the world around you, that it's easy for people to forget there is another person in that metal bubble next to you on the road.  Do people drive differently around a convertible or a topless jeep, where you can easily see the person?  If everyone were to drive such a vehicle, or something else that allows you to easily interact with the people around you as you sit in traffic, would road rage be a thing of the past?  Would it just get worse?

Finally Nice

I consider the weather today to be just about perfect for cycling, it was in the low sixties and absolutely calm.  By the time I got to work, I had to work really hard to convince myself to actually enter the building and stay.  Fortunately, the decision was really easy to make as I ran into my boss on the way in and I'm sure he would have grumbled a little bit had I just turned around and gone for another ride!

I've been seeing many more bike messengers lately.  I'm not sure if there are just more of them about, I'm getting better at spotting them, or I just "think" I'm seeing more.  I actually had an interesting conversation with one on the way in this morning and was surprised by how little distance they typically cover in an average work day, about 30 miles.  Of course, this guy then went on to say that he normally goes out for an evening ride after dinner, no wonder they are all so skinny!  I learned that a bunch of the messengers are banning together to form a bike taxi service as well.  Soon you will be able to get rides around downtown Providence behind a bike.  I wonder how the fares will compare?

Back on the bike

My first commute after three weeks basically off the bike.  It's amazing how much your legs forget!  The weather was great, but the headwind on the way into work wasn't; 15mph steady, with 30+ mph gusts, at the top of the bay.  At least the wind didn't change direction during the day, so I got to enjoy a nice tailwind on the way home.  One of these days, I'll drag a camera along and get some pictures of the commute.

Bike to Work Week

The annual bike-to-work week is just around the corner, May 15th – 19th. If you can’t make it out for the entire week, then join us for the bike-to-work day on May 18th. The League of American Bicycles has more information and actually promotes the entire month of May as a bike-to-work month. So pump up those tires and enjoy the fresh air as you pedal your way to and from work.

Where’s My Tax Writeoff?

As gas prices continue to rise, I’m hearing more and more talk about tax writeoffs for hybrid vehicles. So what about a tax writeoff for those who commute by bicycle? What about those people who religiously ride the bus? Personally, I think gas prices still have a long way to go before they stabalize again. While I’m glad to see hybrids getting some attention, I think the country needs to wake up and realize some changes need to happen in our car-centric lifestyle.

Oddly enough, our weekly paper happened to have this cartoon about bikes and gas prices. I’ve gotten to the point where I chuckle to myself as I ride past gas stations on my way to work. I needed to drive to work this past Friday and realized it had been just over two weeks since I last drove the car to work. It’s been well over a month since I last filled it up.

I’ve recently helped two different people at work get their bikes back into working order, so at least some people’s mindsets are beginning to change. I was originally predicting $4/gal prices before people really started changing their ways, perhaps it will actually happen sooner. Prices around us are now approaching $3/gal for regular, pretty much all special and super are over $3/gal at this point.  I almost feel sorry for all those people driving Excursions or other huge vehicles, I can’t imagine how much it costs to fill one of those up these days.  Has anyone else noticed a surplus of SUVs for sale on the side of the road?

New Wheels

I ended up totallying my Cannondale frame in the crash just under two weeks ago. On the suggestion of a friend, I stopped in to a local bike shop called The Hub to see what they recommended. It’s a different type of store, much more geared towards your “working class” type of bikes. They quickly recomended a Surly frame and after some research, I decided this was a good path to follow. It’s a no frills bike frame, built by a subsidiary of a company that is behind many of the components you find on bikes these days. I think they actually outsource the production of their frames, but they are designed in Bloomington, MN. I might just have to convince everyone to go on a visit next time we are out in MN. Okay, perhaps I’ll have to by myself… The fortunate thing about all of this is that I could reuse all of my other components, so I only ended up needing to purchase a new frame.

Today was my first chance to commute on the rebuilt bike and it seems like a good choice. Being a steel frame, the ride is definitely less harsh than the aluminum Cannondale I had been riding; this particular Cannondale was a pretty plush frame actually. We bumped up the frame size a couple of notches and it’s made a world of difference, much closer to a “correct” fit. I’m definitely starting to believe in steel frames and just plain enjoy riding them more than the stiffer, newer products on the market these days.

I’ll get some photos of the new bike posted to the website when I get a chance. Actually, I should post pictures of the bikes while I’m at it.

Happy peddling and don’t forget to wear your helmet!

Back on the Bike

I got back on the bike today, first time in ten days.  I felt okay, just enough pain to remind me to take it nice and slow and just enjoy the scenery.  I’m predicting that another week of recovery and I’ll be in good shape.

I had lunch with a friend today and the topic of crashing came up.  He remembers having read somewhere that on average, a person who rides alot, will have some sort of injury roughly every 11,000 miles.  Looks like I was pretty much on track.  The good news he read in this article was that the injuries rarely involved anyone other than the rider, including cars, etc.  I think I’ll still try and do my best to just avoid sand in the future!

Wear a Helmet!

I had my first serious bike crash today.  I’m fine, just a little sore.  Rounding a corner, my front tired skidded out on some sand, sending me down.  After getting myself brushed off and taking a few minutes to let my body do a self assessment, I started to survey the damage.  A few rips in clothing here and there, a broken mount for a light and, yikes, a huge split in my helmet!  I knew my head hit the ground, but it must have hit harder than I had realized.  It got me wondering whether I would have been headed off to a hospital had I not been wearing a helmet, fortunately, I can ask this question and will never know the answer.  So, for those who go out on a bike without a helmet, think again.  Mine certainly helped to keep my injuries to a minimum today and ready to ride another day, okay, so perhaps it won’t be tomorrow 😉

I plan on holding onto the helmet, just in case I ever get questions about why helmets are important.

Silencing clicks, squeaks…

For those of you, like myself, that are driven crazy by creaks, clicks, squeaks, etc. originating from your bicycle, I happened upon this helpful site It seemed like he had a good coverage of the various trouble spots on bikes.

An Interesting Commute

My commute this past Thursday is one I will probably remember for a while.  The weatherguessers were predicting some snow, but I decided to go ahead and ride anyways, figuring I could always catch the bus home if things got too nasty.

Even before the weather played a part, the ride in proved to be interesting.  I flatted about half way and while pumping away on the patched tube, I looked up to see this man running down the biketrail towards me with a stick.  I’m just about to pull my pump and use it as a defensive weapon when he stops, looks at me, and says “your not a dog”.  I didn’t really know what to say, but I quickly decided that my tire had enough air and it was time to hit the road again.  It was just more confusing than anything else.

Starting about noon, the snow was flying.  By the time I left work, there were about 5 inches of snow on the ground.  The roads were actually pretty good, so I decided to head towards the bike trail.  It was actually a great ride home and I posted some of the bike at the end of the ride.  A couple of fun observations about riding through this much powder…  Full fenders are not necessarily helpful, at least those that are wider than the tires.  Mine were acting like a snow scoop and generating an impressive cloud of snow.  Looking back over where I came through was fun as well.  The snow was deep enough that my foot was sinking in at the bottom of my pedal strokes, the result was something that looked like a person with a really long stride, straddling over a bike and walking down the bike trail.  Too bad I didn’t have a camera for the actual ride.