Friday, December 30, 2011

I am ready for a New Year and a New Commute


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

Stats for the year


Well, I have completed another year of commuting to work and it feels good. My stats for the year show a 58.5% commute rate just short of my goal of >60% (3 days a week average). This was a little down from last year that was ~62.5%. I look forward to trying to improve on that this coming year (maybe with the help of my fixie bike)!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Being prepared for the weather


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

Things that “Bump in the night” or “Wear a Helmet”


It has been pretty nice out recently. Yes, some rain and that has been GREAT for us draught stricken areas. But the commute to work has been very nice. It is dark of course so I need all the lights and always a helmet. Why are these two things so important?

Lights: My concentration has been on being visible; flashing lights are a key item. The headlight and rear lights are nice and bright and their flashing drives me crazy. And that is good because that is what gets the attention of drivers. I found out lights are good for seeing where you are going too (more on that under helmets). While my flashing headlight is good for getting a drivers attention, it is not the brightest tool in the shed. Here in Texas, although winter is close, we are actually more in a fall condition. The leaves are falling heavily and covering everything.
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).

Helmet: Yes this is important even on short rides. Last night was again another reminder of this. On the bike path part of my ride we have a tree that came down in the rain and wind the other day. No big deal; on one side of the path I can still get by and that worked well yesterday morning. But last night my great headlight did not seem to tell me the whole picture. Assured I was seeing it all I just moved to the edge of the trail, ducked low with my head to the handlebars and elbows bent way out, closed my eyes, and cruised on by.
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

It was even colder this week


This past week we saw a cold snap come through the area. I know there are many MUCH colder places in the US, but we live down in Texas because it is supposed to be warmer! Tuesday the thermometer showed 20 degrees when I left for work. Luckily my ride is short because although I warmed up well, my fingers were quite cold!

The colder temperatures also mean shorter days and the need for visibility lights every night. I have a nice flashing amber headlight that really gets attention. And the rear red flasher is better than Rudolph himself. Always remember that although you see cars and the people in them, that does not mean they see you!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's getting cold


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!