Friday, December 30, 2011
Since I had some time off this week I converted the commuter bike from the single speed to the fixed gear version. It was actually as easy as flipping the real wheel around but I also had to change the tire to have the correct tread direction (I did not think about that earlier). This also gave me a chance to fix my brakes right away.
I have been trying out the fixed gear and it will take some getting used to. Even trying to get on or off the bike is very different without being able to coast. And getting in the toe clips as they continuously move is awkward!
Since I have been trying to work on my track stand abilities I find it harder with the fixed gear since I no longer have the "back-coast" ratchet feature to keep my balance. I should be able to use the fixed gear to get some front / back motion but with a high gear it is very difficult to get the torque. My balance is also not good enough yet to go backwards - my next goal!
Happy New Year!
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
I sometimes forget how quickly the weather can change in Texas. I need to be prepared for changes. I live only 7 miles from home but with a quick stop by a store on the way home, my ride changed drsdtically. When I left work it was 57degress and quite comfortable. When I got out of the store it was feeling chilly and as I rode against the north wind in my shorts and short sleeves, the north wind started making my ears and head quite cold. It was 48degress when I got home but there must have been a decent wind chill because it felt a lot colder! I should have been mre prepared and dressed warmer than needed. I realize that it can never be as hot as in the summer so better to be a little warmer than too cold.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
That means the trails in some areas are all covered in leaves. This is where ‘seeing where you are going’ comes in handy. On the ride home last night I went off the bike path once and came close a few other times. The handlebar mounted light is not enough for seeing everything. But sometimes that is good. I also heard a couple animals in the bushes (bigger than a rabbit but most likely an armadillo; nonetheless the mind always guesses bigger: coyote? bobcat?). Not seeing everything in those situations is good. And the other night the screeching of a rabbit seemed to say it was losing a battle with something much bigger than it was. I was kind of glad I could not see what was going on out there (and glad it was on the other side of the creek).
CRUNCH! Well, I did not clear the branch. It was nothing terrible. I readjusted my helmet and this morning I am stretching my neck a little more than usual. BUT, what if I did not have my helmet on!
Wear your helmet even when you don’t think you need to; you never know!
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Well, my new bike is now in full commute mode. I have the fenders, rear rack, raised handlebars and front and rear flashing light. I think all I need is a bell. Raising the handlebars required new brake cables so I got some nice black ones and cut them to fit. This morning was the first time I realized I put the cables on the worng levers (my right brake lever should be the rear but is now the front). Oh well, I will get to that some other time.
This morning it was 30deg (same coming home this evening). Although it is getting cooler, as long as you dress for it you will be okay. When it is below freezing I actually like to use a Balaclava. It is great to keep warm but when wearing glasses, if you cover your nose you often get the glasses fogging up. I had that problem this morning and had to keep it over my mouth only.
It was a very nice ride. We had a dusting of snow last night so there was some snow on the cold wooden foot bridges. It was really nice to see my tire tracks be the first ones across those bridges.
Happy winter riding!
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
I got a new bike last Thursday and built it up over the Weekend. It was nice to ride to work and not worry about the rim seam crack breaking and have no wobbling in the rear rim. But I still have to be careful of the cars out there. Even with the new bright bike I had someone turn right into my path as I was trying to cross the street at the cross walk.
So, the new single speed commuter is fun, but I still have to be as careful as usual.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Yesterday was a wonderful day. We got some rain (a whopping 0.6inch) that started just as I started the ride home. It was actually a very nice ride home with the rain being very gentle. It has been a long time since we have had the rain here so I enjoyed it even more. As long as I slowed in the corners, started braking early and watched the slippery white lines, all went well. Enjoy your ride no matter what it brings.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Remember about a month ago I posted about being prepared with tools? Well, I do, and I did not listen to my own advice. The commuter bike I have has great big tires that can't go flat - at least I thought. On my way home from work (actually just on the way to the fitness center to change for the ride home) I jumped the curb up to the front entrance to the fitness center like I do every day. But today the rear tire landed right on a sharp edge of the concrete and pinched the tube and leaked quickly.
I was going to ride to a meeting I had up in Allen after work but the flat changed all my plans. Why? Because I have no tools on this bike. I had planned well for the ride home from my meeting with lights and everything but all that was for nothing. My wife came and graciously bailed me out of the situation and gave me a ride home. I then drove to the meeting and became like every other commuter in a car. I want to avoid the car so next time I will have a spare tire and tools and avoid the car ride.
After all that, I did not even have a spare tube at home for this size tire. So I prepped up my old old bike for tomorrow's ride (I don't want to miss the chance to ride in another 109 degree day!).
Lesson learned: Carry tools and be safe and cool.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
My ride in to work Friday started the same way as most days. Warm air hitting my face and start to feel the humidity quickly. And then, I start to think about the work To Do list. My ride is becoming a ride to work. Then I have to decide to relax and put those thoughts out of my mind for the moment - I am just Riding - my destination may be Work, but I don't have to think about that for now. I am just enjoying a ride that is relaxing and enjoyable as usual. I begin to notice people walking, running, enjoying the morning. And I am doing the same - something that is not as easy to do in my car. I like to ride to work.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
When I rode in to work Monday I saw a dog heading down the sidewalk along McDermott. I soon realized nobody was with the dog. I changed course from the bike trail and rode up the embankment to the sidewalk and followed him for a while. He went past Twin Creeks and then toward Tatum. I called the Animal Shelter and left a message and then caught up with the dog again close to Erikson middle school. I tried to call to him and then went ahead of him and got off the bike, took the helmet off but he was still too scared. So, at the end of it all I could not help the dog, but I found that the bike mobility and the capability to ride up / down embankments and turn around on streets and sidewalks so easily made it much easier to follow the dog than if I had been in a car.
Another positive reason for commuting - go anywhere anytime!
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
The past few nights I have been leaving work a little later than usual. That usually does not seem like a nice thing, but, with the temperatures hitting above 100, leaving as the sun gets lower in the sky has been a nice change.
As long as you take a water bottle along for the ride, you should not have a problem in this weather. But remember that you have to stay hydrated during the day so you start off with enough liquids. Drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
It has actually been nice because it has been a little drier these past few evenings.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Cell phones sure are convenient to have. They help us stay connected to everything that is going on everywhere else. But sometimes I think we need to know what is going on around us; what is important to me right here and now?
Whether riding to work or just out on a fun W/E ride, I typically see an instance of a motorist not paying as much attention to their surroundings as they could had they not been on their cell phone while driving. Why isn't their driving and cutting me off at the turn more important than that call?
I used to think of a cell phone as a nice emergency tool - something to have with me in case I have trouble on my bike while out on a ride. But now I am concerned that a cell phone will be the reason that I will have trouble on my bike!
On a recent trip to California I thought they had the answer; a law that prohibits driving while using a cell phone unless it is hands free. But I was reminded that the law is only a law. It does not mean it is followed. So what would make cell phone usage safe?
Maybe we go back to our kindergarten training; don't do things that hurt others. There are many times that the use of a cell phone and driving are not a problem at all. But please, pause that call for a few seconds while you are passing me on my bike in busy traffic. Now that wasn't that difficult was it?
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
Friday, June 24, 2011
As I ride my bike in traffic, I tend to forget I am on a bike. I merge in with cars, turn across lanes to make a left turn, and in general move around like a car would. Sometimes I take it for granted that the car drivers see me. I also may cut in behind cars closer than cars may think is a good idea.
As I thought about this the other day I realized that the cars have no idea what I am doing unless I signal well (which I usually do - but not always - making a sharp cut across traffic to fit between cars is not always a good idea with only one hand on the bars!).
I thought about this more after a friend sent me this link. And it made me think: What does my riding look like to the cars out there? What do the car drivers think? See this link below - I can definitely see how cars can come to hate cyclists after viewing this.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
It was a nice Saturday morning ride today because any ride I am on is a good ride (isn't the worst ride still better than the best day at work?). Maybe not, but ... okay, back on topic:
At mile 27 I noticed some rubber squeaking as I rounded a corner. Already suspecting the outcome I looked down at my rear tire and sure enough it was very low. No problem though - any good commuter or cyclist carries the essentials: a spare tube, a way to pump it up, tire tools to get the tire off the rim, (tools to get the tire off the bike if not using quick release wheels), and extra water and snacks for the job (okay, I guess these are optional). A rag to clean up is also optional but that is the nice thing about black bike shorts - grease hides well.
I like to change a flat on the sidewalk if possible versus on the grass. And it paid off today as I saw a lot of ants around when I stepped into the grass (ant bites will sort of ruin a bike ride for me).
It was an easy task: pull the quick release, remove one side of the tire, pull the tube out, new tube in and I have the CO2 to do a quick pump up.... But all I head was a swooshing sound; it was the release of air from my spare that was too old! Okay, please add either two tubes to the list OR check your spare and replace it every few months.
Being 15+ miles from home I did not want to walk, I prefer not to call home and they were out anyway, I had already flagged on a few groups of cyclists since I thought I had what I needed, ... But, gratefully, another cyclist came by and asked if I needed anything. Yes a cold drink and .... Okay off topic again, he had a spare tube for me, I DID have a space CO2 cartridge and all was well. Thanks you sooo much to all the cyclists who offer help to other cyclists in need!
Well, on the way home I stopped where the Saturday ride starts - Richardson Bike Mart in Frisco (Frisco RBM). I bought TWO new tubes and TWO new CO2 cartridges. Thank You RBM for having all the good stuff!
Now I quess I need to get all these tools for my commuting bike. :)
Friday, June 17, 2011
When I got in to work this morning it was already hot and very humid - not the best biking weather. But then as I walked in to the fitness center to shower up, I saw the room where the summer campers meet. And I thought, ... Wouldn't it be nice just to spend the day in 'camp' rather than go in to work?
Okay, back to reality - I will get a vacation break soon.
Back on topic... The ride home in 100deg was better - less humid.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
Thursday, June 16, 2011
I discovered the secret to bike commuting in summer temperatures in Texas. When you ride home at 5:30pm, it is 100deg and the sun still too bright. But, if you go home at 8:30pm, and only 92deg when I got home, no bright sun - Very nice!
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
As I rode in to work the other morning I was coming up to a stop light. An SUV was in a hurry and swerved around me to get to the light first and came right back into my lane. If they could have turned right away that would have been fine but this corner is a 'No right on red' intersection so they ended up stopping hard right in front of me. That's okay, I just stuck my hand out and rested on their car waiting on the light (it was their choice to get in that close to me). Is that bad of me?
I don't mean to be annoying, but cars can give some room to bikes. I realize most of these drivers drive around other cars the same way so they think nothing of it.
Normally if an intersection allows right on red I stay a ways back so cars can get around me and make the turn. If cars don;t signal I assume they don't want to turn and so I will stay out in front of them.
I know we can all get along if we respect each others space. We all need to work on that.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Well, I enjoy riding to work as often as possible but sometimes other things take priority. Today it was donut day and it is hard to deliver the donuts on my bike. So i had to drive instead (my favorite spot - Big 'D' Donuts is close to our house). Sometimes I will use the donut shop close to work and just walk over there after riding in to work.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Another Tuesday and I made it out to the Tuesday Night Criterium race. Yes, I had to drive to make that work but I still got my exercise in. The guys were not pushing as hard as a couple weeks ago so I was able to stay with some of them most the way. Got about 10th place (takes a few days for the official word) which is good enough for me. I get a great workout with 22.8mph for 12 miles and some warm-up / cool down miles added in. Lots of fun! Speed is king! Okay, maybe not for commuting but....
Good cyclists are supposed to get used to drinking from a water bottle while riding - even riding no hands and pull stuff out of jersey pockets while riding in traffic. And although I am comfortable doing this, I guess it is not always safe.
Yesterday on the way home I dropped my water bottle as I was putting it back in the holder. This was on McDermott in three lanes of traffic. I quickly pulled off the road to the sidewalk and watched as the cars all drove by and none hit the bottle sitting right in between two lanes of traffic. Once the cars passed I quickly darted out on my bike, grabbed the bottle and back on my way (in 98deg humid weather I will not let the water bottle leave me).
Saturday, June 4, 2011
During the week I ride to work - on weekends I like to ride for fun.
This morning I finished a 65mile ride with the Frisco Bike Mart group and I am exhausted. They are a great group and ride a good pace. My legs were cramping the last half. It is hot and humid - I need to work out the electrolyte deal - evidently I am not getting enough. When I get back to the Bike Mart store it is usually water and a Pickle Juice Sport that I enjoy to recover (and some great Honey Stinger Waffles - addicting treats - I mean energy bars).
Stopped at Family Health Market in Frisco on the way home and stuffed my cycling jersey with a bottle of Electrolyte Stamina pills and took a few before heading home in the hopes of recovering faster. The store has a lot of great stuff and the staff is so helpful. I buy the ACE Bees raw honey there (it is from a local Bee keeper). Very good stuff!
I got home and had some leftover Outback ribs and things are much better now :)
Life is Good.
I was reminded today by a family member that bikes need to follow all the rules of the road that cars do (becuase we have all the same rights that cars do).
I was asked whether I would drive through a stop sign in my car if no one was around. I would not. "So, why would you do that on your bike?" was the question posed to me. A very good question indeed.
It is very understandable that cars get irritated at bikes that roll on through stop signs and stop lights.
We cyclists need to make a good impression out there and follow the rules of the road.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
As I rode my bike in to work yesterday I realized earphones are not a great idea if you want to know when someone is coming up on you from behind. When I ride my bike I slow down, ring my bell and say 'on your left'. But that still is not enough when someone is listening to music turned up and both ears having ear buds. Sorry to those I startle as I pass but, I did try to warn you. I recommend to at least keep one ear open - the left ear on the passing side so you can hear when a cyclist or runner is approaching from behind.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Well it was a great W/E with Family in town for my son's birthday and graduation that fell on the same day. With all the get-to-gethers I was pushing it but still snuck out Friday afternoon for the 'Bike The Bricks II' race up in McKinney. What a great race and festival environment. I just did my Cat4/5 race and left quickly to get back to the family festivities but it was still great. I actually finished a little early because I fell off the pace and 4 or 5 of us were working together to keep up before getting lapped. They pulled us before the humilitiating 'lap' by the leaders. I am still waiting for the official results but I know I did not do well. But I sure get a workout in these races and it teaches you great handling skills (75 guys racing through corners very fast and very close to each other - yet I only saw one spill in our race).
See http://www.bikethebricks.com/ for more information and try to plan on attending next year. It is a great local race and great fun to watch the pros race at night under the lights.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Well, the weather is turning nice but the bike must take a break. Lots of activities coming up leading to AHS graduation so that means the car will get used to make sure I get home in time for many differnt activities. But I encourage you to get out and enjoy the weather no matter how you do it.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Another weekend bike ride with BikeMart in Frisco. Only did 50 this Saturday but it felt like more. It was a good workout with two of the Windhaven hill loops. I did feel better after the ride than last week's north ride that really wore me out (and better than the Tuesday night crit where we lost contact with the front group - whoops, they always tell me to stay to the front of the group! I will listen next time).
Yesterday was not the eve of the end of the World, it was... "Bike To Work Day".
Unfortunately it was not the best of days to ride to work. It started with a very Humid ride in to work under ominous clouds which kept many from enjoying the day on their bikes. But the ride in was rain free and then the rain came after most had safely ridden their bike to work.
It cleared out as fast as it rolled in and for most it meant a dry ride home. As I said, for most. I waited a little too long and the afternoon rain caught me by surprise as I headed out at 5pm. So it ended up being a very wet ride home but not terrible. Again, any day on the bike is a good day.
I will strike a deal with cars - when it is raining out, I will ride slowly on the sidewalk rather than in the street if you do not drive right next to the curb and splash water all over me. Deal?
Really though, it is something to watch for both cyclists and pedestrians. That flood water on the side of the road gets bad.
Overall the week was good with rides to work 4 of the 5 days.
Have a great W/E.
I still try to get out on the W/E and put in a good 55 to 65 mile ride when possible. Those rides tend to get out a little further and we ride on some farm roads. It is tough with no shoulder since it makes it hard for cars to pass. Be careful when passing – we see a lot of cars passing even when they see oncoming cars.
I continue to realize that bicyclists need to pretend they are invisible but it is not always easy. When I see a car I assume they see me; that is not the case! Cars turning right do not always look for sidewalk pedestrians. I still feel better on the street where I am more visible and less likely to hit anyone.
I would love to hear from motorists that are not cyclists and better understand issues that are out there.
– What are your concerns about driving around cyclists?
- What do cyclists do that bug you?
- What suggestions do you have for cyclists?
Until next month,
From the surface it has been a good month considering what Spring time in north Texas can be like. Yes, the ride home today was tough with wind gusts up to 40 mph. Both riding in to work and coming home I saw trees that had broken in the wind. I preferred riding home in the open and not under those trees.
But overall, it has been drier than normal this past month (too dry in fact and we see that drought planning is starting already). Anyway, because of the lack of rain I was able to ride to work 19 of the possible 25 work days since Desiree first wrote the bike commuting article on March 14th. That is a 76% commute average compared to my yearly 60+%. And believe it or not, one of the days I drove because I needed to get to a bike club meeting in time after work – doesn’t make sense but that is how it goes.
The time change left the mornings darker and cooler but still very nice. The colors of the sky coming through trees and clouds are amazingly vivid even for a color blind person. The fog on the pond with geese and ducks landing leaves a very peaceful mindset which is in direct opposition to the chaotic stress that surrounds me on the streets.
The warmer weather also brings other things out – like gnats and other bugs in the air. I hate those swarms that fill my face and ears but it is part of the deal. Wear glasses and keep your mouth closed!
The past month also gave me some more learning and information to share with the cars I share the road with every day.
1) Why don’t bikes ride on the sidewalk instead of the streets?
Well, I thought I would try and see why. I usually come up the bike path from the twin creeks golf course area to the stoplight at Twin Creeks and McDermott and then get in the street lane to cross McDermott. Instead, I thought I would stay out of the cars way and I tried to cross in the crosswalk a few times. I soon found that cars turning right are not looking for me. They are looking for a gap in traffic and turn right whether I have a green walk sign or not. One morning I almost got hit as I tried to cross on a green walk sign and a car turned right in my path. I stopped to avoid getting hit and then the car behind him kept honking at me for stopping and being in his way.
I have talked to the city already about the quick ‘walk’ sign that turns red so fast. They say it is fine that way. I think otherwise.
Okay, I will stay in the street – a little safer for me. Yes, lots of people are in a hurry and turning right without watching for bikes or pedestrians. Oh, and hello to the guy in the black BMW that is in such a hurry every morning that he turns right then does a U-turn at Suncreek church to get through the intersection without having to wait at the light. No, he is not looking to slow down for bikes.
It is also a pain to ride on sidewalks and try to stop at every street crossing. You have to be very careful for cars turning in front of you. When I am in the street cars can see me easier.
And when people are walking dogs or have small kids with them, it is not safe to ride fast past them. The street is a better place for direct ‘location to location’ bike commuting.
2) Why don’t bikes stay way to the right of the lane?
The more space I give cars, the more space they take in the lane and the closer they get to me. I opt to take the whole lane if I can so the cars can go by in the lane next to me. I realize this is not always a good thing so when I see a bunch of cars coming I often hop on the sidewalk to let them go by easier and then come back to the labne. I think we can co-exist out there.
So, has it been a nice and easy month of commuting? Not always.
Has it been more enjoyable and cheaper than driving? Definitely!
For me, it has been the right thing to do and I am looking forward to another great month ahead.