Category Archives: Bicycling

An endorphin thing ;)

So I cross Bradley to get on the sidewalk for my unabashed “nonvehicular” exercise and oh, my!!! another user of the sidewalk!   Coming towards me from a hundred yards away is a guy on a chopper bike, fully focused on… the apartments to my right, pedaling madly… No, he’s not scanning… so I toot my air horn.   He grins madly, says “thank you!” I say “Good morning!” and he replies in kind riding by, and I realize that if my “full body smile” is anything like that, no wonder people crack up laughing ;)

It’s a joyful morning :-)

Stopping Traffic ;)

Last night I rode home on the folder — the Gazelle has yet another flat tire, so I’m thinking the tire itself has been compromised.   I’m inclined to switch off to unstudded, tho’ it’s snowing today.

At LIncoln Ave — as in, busy four lane Lincoln — I was crossing from Main… and not one but *two* vehicles (in succession) really wanted to stop and let me across.   I held my ground… and then considered that just perhaps the bike’s redness, my high-vis jacket and the blue front and red rear spoke lights (oh, and it being the Night Before Unofficial St. Pat’s Day) had peeps thinking I was something authoritative.

It happened again this morning, though, sans spoke lights. I didn’t hold my ground — so it was a confusing interaction… and pity for a biker inthe snow might have contributed (as well as it being Unofficial).

And it happened again in a different form at Bradley and Country Fair.   The line to the light at Country Fair was backed up 15-20 deep, so I hopped the snowy sidewalk (my front tyre on the Dahon is studded) and went up with the intention of hitting the walk button if things weren’t workin’ right.  They were… but Bradley was also extremely backed up.   I wondered if perchance there was a wreck on the highway (tho’ Bradley isn’t where they’d land)… and heard the fire engines as my light turned green.   I crossed (it was a half mile away)   and watched as it went into the oncoming traffic lane to get around the zillion cars waiting for the light, which inspired me to signal the left-turners (who couldn’t see the truck through all the cars and aroundthe corner) to stop.

I might have taken the bus but sorry, CUMTD, there is one day I don’t want to use transit and that’s Unofficial.

still. hot.

Maybe if I post about it we’ll get some rain? Please?

Other utter and confounding frustration:   I have not gotten a reply to an email inquiry about Gazelle parts I am was SURE I sent.   I meticulously discerned the parts and their names and numbers. I made sure to make a spare copy in case that one got lost.

I can find absolutely no evidence of ever having performed this task. After all, I know one of the parts; you’d think I could find the document with that character string in it.

Foggy foggy Do!

I rode in this morning “as if I were invisible.”   It’s a whole lot less fun and I don’t think it’s really safer, *usually.*  No, I didn’t turn into a gutter bunny, but I was going a whole lot more gingerly, especially at intersections of any kind.   I think this is what it felt like the first times out on the road…

Scene on the ride in — this is frost, not snow. I had already decided to hop to the sidewalk on Bradley since visibility was AWFUL (this rider had pulled up beside me at LIncoln in the arrogant assumption that s/he’d be going faster than me… and it was a lovely WIndsor bike, and it did… and then had to brake pretty hard and swerve to avoid the nimrod blowing the stop sign at the next intersection.

Construction meant the right lane was blocked at Bradley so I ducked onto the path and then couldn’t resist snagging a picture.   This was after the frost had stpped actively *falling* from the skies (during which the visibility was better) and sticking to everything, and was just hovering in its white suspension.

Michael Costa killed

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/courts-police-and-fire/2011-11-29/autopsy-set-wednesday-bicyclist-who-died-following-crash.html

Wide roads between businesses … cold and rainy…– Market Street is the the best but still bad way out to North of the Interstate   … life… ended.

And… update. Seems commenter thought this was unsympathetic and sanctimonious, and I remembered that … when I want to find out if something horrible happened to somebody, somewhere, extremely recently, I Google news and blogs with the name. So, it’s not the blog to talk about me.  Defending my post as “well, still reacting” — well, I posted it… and any comments should be given the same appreciation for “reacting.”

Time to ride to work.  (Sanctimonious three-sentence rant about the evils of motor vehicles removed.)

Critical Mass :-)

No, not the organized-but-deny-it rides… but the fact that I’ve commuted 5 and a half days and cycle sightings are …. they’re not really sightings any more, except for this morning when there were “only” 11 or 12. (Does the U have MTWF classes, too?)

At least three times there have been multiple bikes at an intersection (twice, five).  Goin’ under the RR tracks one day, there were two of us going east, two going west and no cars.

It’s not all good, though… there’s a Mr. Vest who looks like Mr. Safe Rider, is significantly older than Your Average Undergrad… and if he rode like that and were the only rider, then he’d only be annoying drivers when they saw him bobbing and weaving.   He’s quite competent, but we played leapfrog last Thursday and Friday because I’m faster than he is, but I don’t ignore stop signs and weave between the cross traffic.   This week I’ve managed to get myself out the door a few minutes earlier… unless he’s already clocked somebody…

Went to Meijer last night to get a mouse, and as I was leaving a lady rode up on a Roadmaster and complimented the Xtracycle, and went on to say in her accented voice that this was a nice place for cycling, and that the drivers were so nice and drove slowly, and she was only now getting used to it, since she was from Europe.   I concurred ;)

Longer commute

So that 2 mile challenge thing wants you to take short trips to places less than 2 miles — but they *do* count some rides longer.   Not mine, though.

Danville had its first (“hopefully annual”) “Community Bicycle Day. THey’d asked Ed Barsotti if somebody would come down and “talk about bicycling safety.”

I put together a script to fill 15 minutes — more, if I told stories. I made some handouts but since I didn’t know the setup… as it turned out, I could have even pulled off a powerpoint – there was a nice shelter with power, and computers.

I had  decided that casually cruising to Danville on my bike would make a clear statement about the genuine feasibility of bike riding.  I decided it really needed to be the Xtracycle so they could see the thing I rode in on. That meant it was more of an athletic endeavor, but it’s all about perception, isn’t it? No spandex = no work :P

I got up early enough to try to remember everything I forgot… and banked on the event starting at 9, but my part at 10:15, as my margin for error.   I *did* get out the door at 6:05.

Oh. The weather. Friday night there was a huge mass of storms eking its way mostly north and slo0wwly East.   Thus places were getting a *lot* of storms for a *long* time. If those storms got here in the morning… I hoped they wouldn’t get here at oh, 7:30…

At 5:00 the storms had faded and the forecast  changed from 70% thunderstorms to 50%.   I put stuff in plastic, and took off.  Had a route in my GPS. Tried to call it up – and the whole unit just shut down. Oh, dear.    I had my paper map and hey, the stories I could tell! I got it going again. I knew I should stick to just north of I-74 from Cottonwood Road a mile east of 150 out past Ogden… and somewhere around St. Joseph I tried again and the ride loaded. ( http://ridewithgps.com/trips/256444 is the actual day’s ride.)

About then I realized that I had left without any water or sunscreen… and there was a headwind… but hey, if I *could* manage a little better than 12 mph, I’d probably get there on time. The wind was significant — SSE, but crosswinds   rather grab the Xtracycle bags like unto a sail.

The sun came out. How hot would that rain gear be, used for sun protection? No problem -  the sky to the south greyed and greyed darker.   It was an interesting grey – not exactly threatening, but not “just overcast” either.  I didn’t know whether to be worried or not, so I didnt’. Hey, there was no lightning, and the weather is kind to me.  Out of respect for our relationship,   I got motivated to  pedal harder, and debated whether I should sprint in to Ogden and get Gatorade…

The clouds made me really want to get there, and I got to Kickapoo …  rode by concessions because I really might make it — but I also still might hit gravel or storms to slow me down.   It sprinkled enough for me to put my jacket on, but stopped.

I had a half mile or so of very fast riding when a large black mutt dog and his friend came out after me.   I t was running *hard* so I almost really went all out for little spurts … and because it didn’t quite seem to be running for fun and love, I screamed primally at the creature (okay, that was *almost* fun — especially in hindsight –  but I’m afraid it sounded more like screaming than commanding… ) After a half mile or so of run, run, run it just stopped cold and turned around and went back.  (It was in Vermillion County else I’d have let Champaign County know.)  I can tell you zackly where it is on the GPS recount of my speed ;)

I got to Danville and managed to only have to ride a block on 150 — and hi-viz vests work, ’cause I saw a mess of ‘em in a parking lot.  There were about 15 people; half a dozen cops on cop bikes, a couple of families, and a couple of bike rider types.

The mayor talked ( a good sign! :-) :-) ) and the cop talked — and went through teh whole ABC check, which was the first 20% of my safety speech.   No problem — there was all kinds of other stuff … tho’ he covered another 10% of it before we took off.

We went through the town, the mayor joking about needing oxygen and more rest stops. 2 miles later we were at the park, where there were all kinds of food and displays.  THen they showed… the C-U Share the Road VIdeo.   Oops, the next 60% of what I had to say.

Welp, I went through ABC again on my bike,  gave a plug for LIB (but forgot about license plates — GET YOUR :) )  then I just used my bicycle as the discussion theme — what gear, why — and talked about how much learning to ride is like learning to drive, but we don’t remember how complicated learning to drive is because everybody does it, and talked at length about lane position.

Nobody had a single quesiton — though a couple people came up after and talked about the bike.

I guess I’ll ask Ed about feedback… wondering if this is yet another “well, she wasn’t what we expected” (trying to say somethign else nicely) situation…

Then it was time to ride back.  Danville has a local bike route map now and that came in handy to find my way… their “worst” road was very reasonable on a low-traffic weekend.  Um, yea, the wind had shifted a little — from SSE to SSW.   Yea, I was going back West. It wasn’t quite as much W as it had been East at least.

Then came this warm blast behind me… was God breaking wind?   I didn’t care, it was going my way.   I took the Xtracycle up to 17-18 for a couple of miles… would I get home by 2:30???

Whoosh! Just as suddenly, the cooler SSW breeze returned.  (You can see where it happened – West of Newtown — on teh GPS recount.)  I realized I was pretty tired and wondered what bonking would be like out there…  I paused for some of the munchies and water and bananas that I’d tossed on board…  and made myself put enough into the system to get me the rest of the day, ’cause stopping felt lousy… and I really wanted a bit of caffeine. If I had been *sure* that the chocolate Gu I’ve stashed somewhere was in my bag, I’d have stopped and dug it out.  I’ll have to check ;)

I *did* get in at 2:45, with 77 miles on the GPS. Went inside and quaffed Gatorade with a mess of tea, and duly noted the heart rate and breathing were taking longer than they should to ramp down… but I still had time to fit in a shower and between that and the tea, things balanced out.

So, chapter two, next post ;)

I got my baby back :) :)

Last week I said I really would bring the Racer (1968 Schwinn single speed D7 tyres) to the bike coop and try to get the brakes to work. I’d totally redone the hub last year hoping that would do the trick, but they were, if anything, worse. Theory: the brake shoes were so worn down that cleaning and lubing had simply removed the stray dirt that had done most of the stoppage.
Chuff moment one:   I *found* another Schwinn wheel in the shed and successfully got it down to the bike coop doing some riding and some walking. (When you can’t really stop except by foot dragging and you’ve got this heavy wheel hangin’ off your hand…)

I Successfully removed wheel and got coaching on taking hub apart and while there were still grooves in those brass brake pads, they were none too deep.  Mirabile dictu, Mike  thinks the wheel I brought, all rusty and nasty with tyres rotting, is of a similar provenance. And huzzah, huzzah, its brake pads had deeper grooves.
I redid the hub on general principle, successfully slathering on the Valvoline. The probably 1940′s vintage wheels  had been indoors in a beach house so it is really in good shape.
To add to the joy, I realized it could use baskets and there was that set from a simply amazing bike that a friend of mine had inherited from a character…  It’s a perfect fit, oh, and I put it on and EVEN FOUND the nuts and bolts to do it in reasonable time ;)  and  now I can think fond thoughts of characters I never met… and carry just about anything. Lookin’ at the picture, I realize I need something where the teeny reflector used to be to become a smile…LIPS.  That’s what it needs. LIPS.

schwinn racer with basket with five inch reflectors

I’m also going to paint ‘vaca con cuernos” on the top tube… but then I have to learn enough Spanish so that when somebody stops me and asks about it I will be able to tell them that when I brought that bike into work a student of mine exclaimed that phrase… then had to really think about how to translate it … but “milk cow with horns” does make sense,  and that is what they call the utility bikes with baskets.   This bike does bring smiles from people from more bike-centered cultures;  I startled an Asian man into a smile as he saw me coming towards him on the path on Race Street, and it wasn’t a greeting smile, it was the pleasure of seeing something from home.

Oy, yea! Gear purchase

…. now, I haven’t written anything about it but honest, honest, honest it wasn’t an impulse buy.  My phone has GPS kinda sorta and it’s come in handy… but I decided it’s not good enough to keep paying the amazing monthly fees for the full data plan.  And the contract is coming up rather  soon — *almost* as soon as  GITAP.  So yesterday I sprang for a Garmin 605 from REI, with city m aps.  Telling self that yes I will so return it if I can’t figure it out. Also telling self to get that helmet cam out again and re-figure *that* out.    Looking forward to being able to see where I am *while* I’m riding.  Could make a person very popular on group tours ;)

But of course, *here’s* the bike of my dreams …. with a solar panel or three to power that GPS…

http://bikeforth.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/canopy26.jpg

Invisible Gorilla

… so, remember that video with the moonwalking bear imploring us to look for bicycles? The book about the research that came from is coming out Tuesday…

http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.com/

Yes, it is spun ever so much like Malcolm Gladwell … I’m thinknig of trying to get a copy so’s I can have it on hand at teh RIde of Silence.  (No, bicycle safety is *not* a main theme of the book. However, unless I’m mistaken, the issues in it are a “main theme” of bicycle safety.)