Drive My Bike


A New Measurement: BPM = "Bicyclists Per Mile”

Wow… it was almost crowded on my ride in to work this morning! I saw eleven other bicyclists on the road, over the five miles that I ride from home to work. I have never really kept track of how many I see, but I’m sure that is a new record!Measurement

I have been bike commuting for almost two months now, and I’m sure the number of bicyclists on my route has at least doubled, if not tripled.  I remember the first couple of days it seemed like I was lucky if I saw two or three other cyclists on the road.

All this got me thinking that it might be fun to actually start tracking that number to see if I can put some data behind the trend. So… I propose a new unit of measurement: BPM or “Bicyclists Per Mile”. Coming up with that figure is relatively simple… Count the bicyclists you see on your commute, add one for yourself, then divide that total by the number of miles in your commute.

So for today I would have 11 + 1 = 12, 12 divided by 5 = 2.4 Bicyclists Per Mile (BPM)

So, I would ask all of you who read this blog to start tracking BPM when you ride. I’m going to do this, and see how things change over the next few weeks.  Is this scientific?… Are you kidding? We’re having fun here, remember?

Now go figure out the BPM for your next ride! 🙂



Permission To Slow Down, Captain?
July 25, 2008, 5:58 pm
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When I started bike commuting I had no idea that it would put me on such interesting psychological journeys. Allow me to explain… I’m a pretty driven individual, and I push myself a lot. I push myself to grow. I push myself to succeed. I push myself to learn. I guess that is not all bad, except that I am learning that there is a dark side to all of that. I have discovered that when I am not pushing myself I begin to feel like a slacker. In fact, I think I actually have a fear of not pushing myself. The result of this is that I don’t think I ever really relax and enjoy the now. I’m so busy worrying about “the next thing” that the present goes right by and I miss it. The cool part of this is that my bike riding has helped me see this about myself.Stopwatch

Several times recently I have felt kind of burned out with my riding, and I have really had to force myself to go for that next ride. I have also started to notice some mild discomfort in my knees after some of my rides, usually when I have pushed myself harder up a hill, or tried to better my route times. In response to these problems I decided that I was probably pushing myself too hard, and I needed to slow down and let my body catch up a bit. I also began to realize that even though I had ridden my daily route quite a few times now, I had barely noticed the surroundings on the way. I was always so focused on getting to my destination, and pushing harder and faster, that I didn’t really enjoy the ride.

So… I have officially given myself permission to slow down, and I have really been working on focusing on enjoying the ride, rather than how fast I was getting there. I have to say that it has been difficult! I have started out a ride at a slower pace… but then… within a mile or so I convinced myself that I was fine… and was back to pushing myself as usual, often ending with the “burned out, sore knee” feeling from before. It also seems like every time I commit to slowing down I encounter another biker on the road, usually on a speedy road bike, and I am compelled to try to keep up with that person, even though their bike is geared faster and weighs less than a third of what I am riding! But, all is not lost, as I have had several rides recently where I was able to really let go and just enjoy the ride, and it was great. Ironically, most of them have been my night rides, which is kind of funny because my first night ride was probably one of the most difficult rides I’ve had since I started bike commuting. But my last couple of night rides have been a bit cooler, and yes, I was tired when I got finished, but it was a good kind of tired, and my knees were stressed, but not really painful. Best of all, I actually took the time on the ride to notice things around me. I remember now, I really like riding my bike!

So, I’m still pushing myself, only now I’m pushing myself to not push myself.

Permission to slow down, Captain? Aye, that’s an order!

Do any of you relate to this? If so, leave a comment and let me know.



Consumer Revolt: Homebrew Electric Bike Conversion

A friend of mine recently met a consumer who had enough of the rising gas prices and decided to take matters into his own hands. This guy bought a cheap bicycle and did his own conversion to electric drive. Apparently this unorthodox bicycle drew quite a crowd at the local grocery store, and my friend  was able to chat with him and get some pictures.Homebrew Electric Bike

If necessity really is the mother of invention, then as gas prices continue to rise I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg! If you would like to know more, there are more details in this wiki article. Homebrew Electric Drive

Have you seen other examples of consumers getting fed up and coming up with creative solutions to their transportation needs? If you are still commuting completely by car do you have a “tipping point” in mind where you will have to find an alternative? What will you do?



How Far Is Too Far?
July 18, 2008, 1:27 pm
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I was supposed to meet a friend for dinner last night, at a fast food place about 10 miles away. Normally, I would have driven this distance, but I decided that I would take the leap and ride my bike for the 20 mile round trip. My family looked at me like I was crazy when I announced my intentions. The best reaction I got was when I came riding up to the restaurant and my friend looked at me in disbelief as he exclaimed “You rode your bike?”

I have to admit that I was quite intimidated by that distance, and actually was trying to convince myself that I wasn’t crazy. Prior to this ride the farthest I had gone was a little over 8 miles each way, for a total of 16 miles round trip. Now that is nothing to a lot of you riders out there, and I know that guys like Tom do more than that every day on their commute to work, but for me it was a new adventure.

Overall, the ride went well, and I felt quite strong on the way there. The ride home was more difficult, and I was awfully glad when I pulled onto my street and could see my house up the block. Not only did I survive, but I did it! Even though I was tired, 20 miles really didn’t seem like 20 miles, and I would definitely do it again.

What about you? I know that some readers are just starting to ride, while some readers have been riding for years. What are your longest commutes? How far is too far for a commute?



Be Careful Out There!
July 17, 2008, 8:33 am
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Wow… I saw this on the news last night, and it’s a good reminder to all of us that spend time in traffic on our bikes. In Portland, a bicyclist and a motorist exchanged words, and the situation escalated into the motorist ramming the cyclist, with the cyclist ending up hanging onto the hood of the car. The motorist then drove off with the cyclist still on the hood of the car, and continued to drive wildly trying to throw the cyclist off of the hood. A witness got some shocking video as the car sped by with the cyclist on the hood. The motorist was later arrested.

Remember that a car is much bigger than you are, and it will always win versus your bike. Even if you are in the right, it is not worth dying to try to save face, or advance the cause of cycling. Ride safely. Watch your temper in traffic. Be careful out there!



Learn To Fix Your Bike
July 16, 2008, 11:12 am
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I just found an incredibly helpful bike related web site and wanted to share it with you.  The site is BicycleTutor.com, and the guy has put together a whole bunch of great videos showing how to do all kinds of bike maintenance. I learned some great tips just watching his V-Brake tutorial, and look forward to watching the other videos on the site. The videos are free to watch, and are done very well. Thanks BicycleTutor man!



Another Night Time Ride
July 16, 2008, 8:43 am
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Last night I had an evening obligation after work, so I ended up doing a 6 mile commute home in the dark.j0387549

If you read this blog, you may remember that my first night ride was very difficult and left me discouraged and dragging. I’m happy to say that the night time riding thing is getting much better. I believe that last night was the third night ride I have done since I started bike commuting, and it is growing on me. There are elements of it I still find a bit creepy, like being on a dark stretch of road with nobody else around except for that one car coming up behind you that seems to be awfully close to your side of the road, but I have had safe rides and have enjoyed the cooler night air. I think that most of my night riding phobias are  just in my head, as I really haven’t had any problems with drivers, and the traffic is actually much lighter than during my normal daytime rides. The night time traffic is completely different, and last night it seemed that people were a lot more relaxed, out enjoying an evening drive with their windows down and their music playing. One thing I have noticed about night riding is that I have to play the mental game with myself a bit differently. I have noticed that when I start out at night I am fighting lots of inner objections as to why riding home in the dark is a bad idea. Of course, one of the best arguments with myself is that the only other option at that point is to walk, so of course the bike ride wins. I have also noticed that I am usually more tired than when starting my daytime rides, but if I allow myself to slow the pace a good bit and just enjoy the cool night air, and the night experience, then things begin to shape up and the ride actually becomes a rather pleasant experience.

How about you? Do you do much riding at night? Has it been something you enjoy, or something you have struggled with?