Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Thinking about a SS/FG

Since my job requires me to crunch a lot of numbers related to inventory levels and cash flows, it naturally seeps into my private life. Speaking in very general terms, I don't ride as much as I would like, I'm good at making excuses about it, and would like to overcome some obstacles.

I don't think I would mind riding in the rain, I just don't want to ride my only, very good condition bike in the rain. On average it rains 122 days a year in my city - that means I use this as a lame excuse about 50% of the time. Compared to national average I get an extra three weeks of laziness-inducing precipitation. Typically, I make my limit at 40% chance of rain during the hours of my commute. If it rained over night I am prone to pass on riding until things are good and dry.

About a year ago I picked up a pair of rain pants on a pretty good deal (75% off clearance and out of season). I have also managed to pick up a couple water resistant riding jackets along the way. Neither the jackets nor pants have yet to be worn. I guess it comes back to not wanting to get my bike wet, dirty, and potentially damaged from riding in poor conditions.

I think an older road bike, likely less than $200, would be fine. The reasoning behind a single-speed fixed gear bike (with brakes of course, I'm not that hip) would be that there would be less gunk to clean, as well as a much easier process. A second or third-hand bike would have much less sentimental value than my first "real road bike."

Am I over-thinking this too much? Am I being too touchy about my current bike? Am I just continuing to make more excuses? Are my speculations about SSFG cleaning and maintenance on point or in valid? Do I need to just shut up and ride?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Safety Trumps Convenience, Every Time

I read a lot of news.  My girlfriend sometimes gets annoyed by it, but I am a news junkie in every sense of the word.  I have recently read several articles about cyclists getting hit by cars while riding, and even one was caught on tape.  The video makes me wonder if I should get a camera for when I commute to work or exercise on my days off.  But after reading this article about a cyclist being killed in Austin it makes you wonder if a camera even matters if the driver won't even be charged for anything.

When you read the comments for those two links, or comments on any article related to bicycling you will start to see a sickening trend.  I will lend some leeway that anonymity on the internet often invites people to embellish thought and say things they may not normally say, but due to no likely chance of having to eat their words they will say exactly what is on the mind.  There are a lot of people out there that view a cyclist as a nuisance rather than a person.  People ride bicycles for all sorts of reasons, tops among them being transportation and recreation.  I know of no other form of recreation in which death is acceptable for impeding others.  I guess it is seen during shopping on Black Friday as well.

Here are some comments that irritate me for one reason or another:

"I love how cyclists love to play the victims, yet they are CONSTANTLY running red lights and stop signs, weaving in and out of traffic, just to name a few."  Yes, they do.  So do drivers.  I have no idea on the real stats but let us say there are 200,000 cars per cyclist in the US.  I would say that drivers are running red lights / stop signs and weaving in and out of traffic far more than 200,000 times cyclists do.  On a bike that is an absolute death sentence on just the cyclists.  Drivers in their steel cages will walk away more often than not.  Just because one person does the wrong thing does not mean that it is okay for others to do.  Something that jeopardizes the life of another is never okay to do.

"The people I see on their bikes are hardly dressed for success and on their way to work, especially at night and weekends."  How does this even matter?  When I ride to work I am dressed for riding a bike.  When I am on a long, tough ride I am dressed for being on a long, tough ride.  My life is no less valuable regardless of what I am wearing.  Sometimes people have to ride/drive on nights and weekends.  Nonetheless, their life is no less valuable.  If a car hits another car at night, does the newspaper say that they shouldn't have been driving at night, especially on a weekend no less!

"Riding a bike is *your* life style *choice*."  So I should be mowed down for making a healthy lifestyle choice?  Why are we not running people down outside of gyms and softball fields while they walk to their cars?

" The roadways are for vehicles- TRANSPORTATION. ie. Department of public Transportation."  The DOT in every state considers a bicycle to be a vehicle.  

"To clog highways with bikes for recreation and sport is selfish and mismanagement of taxpayers' money for highways and roads."  A bicycle, perhaps two feet wide does not clog the roadway.  Neither does that additional three feet you should give a cyclist.  It is the sheer impatience of attempting to unsafely pass a cyclist which causes the problem.  A cyclists life is not worth 30 seconds of saved time.  The majority of road taxes are for road upkeep and maintenance of which cyclists cause no damage.  Furthermore, those guys you see on $2,000 bicycles wearing a couple hundred dollars worth of clothes pay taxes.  The majority of adults who ride bikes also have cars.  In my city there is no real cycling infrastructure unless I work on the base and take the one trail we have.  I should be getting tax credits for not clogging the road with another car and not causing damage to the roads.  I would gladly pay more taxes if it meant I would see bike lanes throughout my city.

"Let's reserve the right of the road for transportation, not sport and recreation."  In a time when our obesity is at a all time high and the economy pretty slugging this might not be a great idea.  I think we should go the opposite direction and provide more opportunity for people to exercise while riding a bike.

"Rather than make roads dangerous for all of us, let's get bikes off the road."  The road is already dangerous and accounts for many, many deaths due to the negligence of drivers everywhere.  Bicycling is not what makes the road dangerous.

I am so tired of people saying to ride on the sidewalk.  The sidewalk is for pedestrians who are not considered vehicles.  In many cities, including mine, it is actually illegal to ride on a sidewalk.  I would most likely be liable if I get hit.  Never in my life have I seen a car stop prior to the sidewalk, then roll six more feet to stop again.  It just doesn't happen.  

I am also tired of reading comments saying that a cyclist should have been wearing a helmet when they got plowed by an SUV at 55 MPH.  Only a helmet made of fairy dust and unicorn tears would help in that situation.

Really, what all this comes down to is we are all inconvenienced sometime.  It may be the TSA, or that lady with 500 coupons and food stamps in front of you at Walmart or a long restroom line at a concert.  When driving a heavy steel murdering machine you need to be more careful than when you are pushing a shopping cart at the grocery store.  Whether you think about it or not, people's lives are in your hands every time you start the engine.  No one's life is worth less than your time.  People have friends and family that depend on them and being in a hurry or negligence is never an excuse with stakes that high. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spreading the Love

Before I purchased my first adulthood bicycle I knew literally no one who owned or rode a bicycle. My girlfriend rides a stationary bike about five days a week but I don't think that applies this situation.  She wants a bicycle, but does not want to ride anywhere in this town.  Over these two years I have met other cyclists and introduced even more to the two wheels of enjoyment.  Keep in mind I am more of a utility and commuter cyclist, so I don't really hang around the bike shops much and attend all of their group rides.  I do, however, always recommend people to at least go to Bicycle Gallery or The Bicycle Shop to get their questions answered, figure out what  kind of bike they might want, get an idea of what size they need and to browse what is available.

The first day that I rode my bicycle to work I discovered that a coworker does triathlons, marathons and other feats of great endurance.  We talked about bikes a bit, but even though I was a total noob I could speak competently due to trolling on Bike Forums for the previous year.  Yeah, it took that long for me to buy a bike after I decided I wanted one.  Valerie rode her Cervélo time trial bike to work the next day to show it to me.  I will admit I was a little envious because it was such a nice bike but also knew it would have have met my needs to buy something like that.

After about six months of commuting (and putting up with being called "Lance" every time I walked through the doors) I got a new boss at work.  He started asking more and more questions about about bicycling, bikes, seats, fit....  I answered the things I knew and sent him to The Bicycle Shop for the things I didn't.  Tim ended up buying a Cannondale Quick hybrid for more comfort while riding.  He started riding all over Emerald Isle and recently rode the MS100.

Dave, another manager at my work, starting taking interest in bicycling as well.  This was about 16 months into my commuting.  He was persistent with hounding me about helping him find a bicycle.  Dave had gone to The Bicycle Shop to figure out what size bike he needed and what kind of bike he might want.  Eventually I found a two or three year old Trek (1,000 maybe?) on  He managed to talk the seller down from $300 to $250 because the guy wanted it sold as soon as possible.  The seller recently purchased an amazing custom Kane bicycle.  Oddly enough, Dave's friend got an identical bike out of a storage auction.  They kept the frames but switched many of the components and did some minor upgrading and tuning.  Dave now rides a lot before work and participated in the MS100 ride with Tim and myself.  Another coworker, Seamus, borrowed the second Trek for the MS100 ride and is now wanting his own.  Tim borrowed the second Trek for a recent ride around Emerald Isle and now wants to replace his hybrid with a road bike.

I had another coworker, Emerald, asking about bikes and telling me she was interested in getting one for herself.  She was mostly looking for a very comfortable bike to ride for exercise in hopes of losing a little weight, getting in better shape, and perhaps some utility use.  Emerald had asked me to teach her how to ride a bike because she was scared of braking for whatever reason.  I never taught her and can only assume she now has it figured out.

A good friend and coworker for the last five years had started riding a mountain bike around the same time Tim bought his bike.  I think he might have picked it up at Dick's Sporting Goods but I can't remember.  He rode that bike nearly every day, typically somewhere around 14 miles per ride.  Aaron had talked with me a little bit but just did not see himself riding a road bike.  About three months ago he dropped by The Bicycle Shop and started checking out road bikes.  He ended up purchasing a Cannondale CAAD9 and is still riding nearly every day.  He immediately noticed the lighter weight, better performance, and more accurate handling than what he had been used to.  Aaron lives about a block away from me and we haven't met up for a ride yet, but I think he might plan a commute or two this winter.

There are many other people I have come to know, but this is just an extremely small sample size involving people whom I work with.  On a national, or global scale, there are exponentially more examples of people like me.  I'm not a bicycle propagandist.  I'm not out there preaching about saving the planet, reducing road congestion and all those things political agenda type things.  I just like riding a bicycle.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

National MS Society

The National MS Society bicycle ride of Historic New Bern very well and the biggest thanks should go out to all the volunteers who made the event so successful.  The team that I captained raised $1,035 and I managed to raise $375 myself.  Many thanks to all who helped our team exceed our fundraising goal of $600

This weekend represented several firsts for me and I handled myself well.  Thank God the weather was perfect because it made the whole weekend easier.  

Until the ride, the most miles I had ever strung together was 21 - I was about to demolish that in one day and then do it all over again the next day.  In case you haven't done it before, 100 miles is a long way on a bicycle.  

I had also never rode with anyone before.  Neither a duo, nor a trio.  No shop rides, group rides, charity rides, fun rides, races, nothing.  One thousand people are a lot, especially in the beginning when everyone is bunched up, anxious, and hopped up on caffeine or whatnot.  

I had never pulled, drafted, rode handle bar to handle bar or passed another cyclist.   On occasion I have cursed one out for almost hitting me while riding in the wrong direction on the wrong side of the road.  It was tense and exciting, but I made no major mistakes, had no mechanicals and was not involved in any crashes.  

I had never eaten while riding, nor rode long enough to require snacks and a lunch.  I was worried day two would be horrendous but after about 10 minutes my legs felt loose and strong.  In the end I made it, averaging 18 miles an hour the whole weekend.  I'm not very fast but I am no slouch.

Monday, August 22, 2011

MS Bike Ride

Please donate some coin to help me get to my goal.

I will be participating in my first MS ride.  Looking to get help with donations.  I started a little late in the game :(

Friday, July 8, 2011

Some days aren't so good....

Admittedly, I can be considered a fair weather commuter.  The last few weeks have been a little tough but I have managed to tough it out at least three days a week.  There are a few things that are trying to thwart my efforts.  The heat has been horrendous topping 90 degrees nearly every day during my commute. I am a pretty hot-weather type of person, it just takes a few weeks to get over it.  The humidity is less of a friend than heat.  But what really tops it off is there are two wildfires in my area that are causing a considerable amount of smoke.  The smell is horrible, visibility is extra low at night and there are severe air quality alerts for the area.  One fire is over 30,000 acres.

So today I ventured forth with 92º F heat, 89% humidity, two wildfires spanning 40,000 acres and after 10 minutes I was on the wrong side of 30% chance of rain.  I had already committed to the commute so I got over it.  Vehicle commuters rarely talk to me while riding and only seem to acknowledge my presence when waiving me through an intersection when it seem precarious and I don't have the right of way.  Today I was lectured by two different drivers at two different intersections while sitting at a light waiting to turn left.  

The first person, an older man possibly 70 years of age, was explaining to me how dangerous it is to ride in the street.  His suggestion was that I ride on the side walk because it would be safer and that is what he did when he was young.  He would also be a bad parent if he let his kids ride their bike on a four-lane road.  I just thanked him for his advice.  

The second person, a lady 30 to 35 years old and possible soccer mom, was telling me that she hates when bicyclists are riding their bike on the sidewalk.  She has to run out of the way with her kids and dogs to avoid the bicyclist taking them out.

I guess you can't make everyone happy.  There are a lot of people out there with these same conflicting trains of thought.  It does not help that my city has one bike path that really takes you nowhere you need to go.  I know I frustrate people, or at least I believe that is what their honking means, but I need somewhere to ride my bike.  As much as anyone tries there is always going to be someone left unhappy.  That's how things work.  I kind of just laughed it off and joked about it when I get to work.  Many didn't get the humor but it is their loss.

I am starting to see more and more cyclists which basically means I have seen about 4 in the last month.  More will come and I have at least two friends who have recently purchased bicycles.  One day riding a bike to work will be considered normal and not suspect of DUI.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I like your jacket thing...

Regarding the subject title, even though it is only five words it took my friend Travis about 30 seconds to say.  I know he was talking about my full-zip short sleeve cycling jersey but was not quite sure how to articulate his thoughts. 

Cycling is broken down to so many categories I can not even list them all if I wanted to.  Not without the help of Google and forum sites such as Bike Forums, Cycling Forums and Road Bike Review at least.  Despite all the classifications and sub-classifications bicyclists belong to I believe most bicyclist can be grouped into three sections: those who wear lycra, those who don't and those who wear some crazy combination of both.  I fall within the third group (most of the time).

I own lycra cycling shorts and jerseys and often wear them.  During the summer commute I wear a cycling jersey and cargo shorts.  Under those cargo shorts are almost certainly cycling shorts.  I have tired wearing a cotton shirt but in coastal Carolina the heat and humidity are nearly unbearable regardless of what one is wearing so I adapt the best I can by sporting a jersey.  Since I am by no means a racer my jersey is not race tight.  It is one to two sizes bigger so I feel more comfortable while riding but do not have to wear heavy, thick, absorbent cotton.  The only reason I wear the cycling shorts under my cargo shorts is for extra padding.  Purists would say the cargo shorts cancel out the lycra due to seams and weight but I have notice no personal difference.  

My girlfriend sometime points out how much I spend on cycling-specific shorts only to wear something on top of them.  It really comes down to the fact that I do not want to walk through my work wearing them.  I'm not fat or grotesque - it is just a comfort level thing.  I usually arrive to work 30 to 45 minutes early so I have time to cool down before throwing on the shirt, pants and tie.  Part of that cool down is standing outside my building finishing off my water.  The other part is walking through my building to a breakroom where I can refill the water, sit by a fan and watch some TV.  I would much rather do all that in a loose cycling jersey and cargo shorts than in a tight jersey and shorts.

In the early Sping, late Fall and all throughout winter I tend to layer as neccessary.  This usually includes a long sleeve Nike compression shirt underneath a cycling jersey.  I was skeptical of the warmth factor at first but was gladly proven wrong.  I also wear some Nike pants over my cycling shorts.  They are semi tight and warm, but not as warm as the shirt.  The constant pumping of my legs provides more heat than the pants can lose anyways.  If it is colder I will throw on a jacket, fleece beanie, or an Under Armor balaklava type thing.  Though I don't wear gloves a lot in the summer, they are on and full fingered once the temperatures drop into the 50s.

As of right now I have some comfortable mountain bike styled Shimano shoes and eggbeater pedals.  This is my main source of frustration during the winter.  I wear wool socks but my feet get extremely cold.  I like riding clipless and don't plan on wearing shoe covers, so I just manage. 

At the end of the day (or the begining of your ride) its all about what you feel comfortable with and how long your commute is.  I am lucky as mine is only five miles, but someone with a 15 mile commute may have a very different opinion about what is comfortable.

Here are some other sites that I have previously read when debating what to wear.  I revisit many sites and frequent forums a bit more often as the seasons transition.  There is always something to learn.