Drive My Bike

New Cycle Computer
August 31, 2008, 7:56 pm
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I mentioned last week that I got a new cycle computer, so I figured that I’d put up a couple of pictures and show how I installed it. This is not a fancy cycle computer, it is just an inexpensive one that I found for under $10, but it performs all the basic functions that I wanted, basically speed, distance, and trip time.Cycle Computer Display It also has a clock, maximum speed, average speed, a trip odometer, and a lifetime odometer.

Installation is fairly straightforward, involving mounting the display on the handlebars, and then mounting the sensor on the fork and spokes.Cycle Computer Sensor

The device uses a magnetic sensor on the forks that tracks a magnetic screw on the spokes. After installation you have to enter a calibration number from the instructions that tells the computer how big your wheels are, so that it can figure out how far the bike has traveled for each wheel revolution. Each time the wheel goes around the magnet on the spokes registers a single revolution of the front wheel, then the computer does some math, and bingo… it knows your speed and how far you have traveled.

In case you are interested in the details of how this thing works, I found a person who has posted the manual on their website… and I thank them!

I have to say that it is fun to know how fast I am going, and how far I have gone. If you don’t have one of these I would recommend considering one.

Learn To Bicycle Safely!
August 27, 2008, 1:46 pm
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I just found the best site I’ve ever seen about bicycling safely in city traffic. This site does a great job of explaining the most common risks, as well as giving several strategies to avoid them. The diagrams and explanations are clear and easy to understand. Stop by and take a look at because it just could save your life.

Really… do it… I was able to read most everything in about 10 minutes… and that 10 minutes could mean the difference between life and death on your next ride.

Thanks to the Crazy Commuting Cyclist for his post about bicycle safety.

Nice Cool Morning!
August 22, 2008, 9:13 am
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The weather has started to change just a bit here in Utah, and that means we are leaving the dog days of summer behind, and getting just a hint of cooler temperatures. This morning’s ride in was in the lower 60’s, and it was wonderful. It was actually a little cool for the first mile or so, and I even thought about a jacket, but then I got warmed up and the cool air just felt great.j0289387 (No, that picture is not me, but I thought it captured the essence of the day)

I bought a new cycle computer the other day, and got it installed last night. Nothing fancy, just a cheap one from WallyMart, but it does tell me how far, how fast, and how long… which is what I wanted to know. It was fun watching that on the ride in today… but I don’t think it helps with my obsession with speed. Oh well.  I’ll probably put some pictures of it up this weekend.

I also “slimed” my front tire… you know, the good kind of slime… that green gooey stuff. Yeah, I haven’t had any more flats since I installed that heavy duty tube with slime in my rear tire, but recently I’ve had some legitimate flats on my front tire. By legitimate, I mean real road hazards… you know, thorns and stuff. I’ve patched the front tire twice recently, but I figured that the slime wouldn’t hurt. I actually was going to put one of those heavy duty tubes in the front as well, but the store was out of them. In fact, the store was out of a lot of biking stuff… it looked like they’ve been selling a lot and hadn’t been able to restock yet. That’s great!

Have a great Friday!

Excuses… Excuses… Excuses
August 20, 2008, 8:11 am
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Yesterday was my first day riding in over a week. After my last ride it just seemed like all kinds of things came up that got in the way of my riding. The scary part was that as that trend continued, I found myself looking for excuses not to ride. How can this be? I know that I like to ride my bike, so why would I want to find excuses not to? Yeah, I’m wondering the same thing.

Some of the excuses were legitimate. My wife and daughter had gotten some kind of nasty head and chest cold, and at one point I felt like I was trying to fight it off, so that day I decided not to ride. Then some scheduling challenges. Then I found a flat tire when I was getting ready for my morning commute. And then… does it matter? Probably not, because the excuses started piling up.

Well, the good part is that I got back in the saddle yesterday and did my commute to work, and the ride in was really nice. The weather was a bit cooler and invigorating, and I counted 12 other riders, for a BPM of 2.6, which is a new record. The ride home last night was not too bad, although it was around 9:00pm, and I hadn’t had any dinner yet, so I was a bit tired. I tried to take it easy and just enjoy the cool air and the night ambience.

So, I’m back. It’s been too long… but it’s all about starting again once you get off track, right?

Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

Yesterday’s Great Ride, and Today’s Small Victory

Yesterday I had the best bike ride I’ve had since I started riding again, maybe even the best bike ride of my life. I decided to just “go for a ride”… no real destination or purpose, other than to explore some places I had seen from my car.  It was awesome! I ended up riding about 12.5 miles, but I didn’t know that until I got home and mapped the ride. It was kind of like being a kid again, just riding around exploring. I found a couple of wonderful trails maintained by the city, and I took them almost as far as they would go. It was in the early evening, so the sun was setting and the temperature was great. It was the longest single direction ride I’ve done, yet I came home feeling completely energized and refreshed. That is what biking is about! I wish I had some pictures to share, but I need to get a small pocket digital camera so that I can record journeys like that. Hopefully in the future I can share them with you…


On this morning’s commute, it looked like bike commuter rush hour! I counted eight cyclists, including myself, and three of them were going in the same direction as me. At one point, there were four of us on bikes, all waiting for the same red light. I would have loved to have known what the motorists were thinking as we all pulled up alongside. Actually I didn’t have to wait for the light, so I ended up with a couple minutes of glory that are hard to come by…

There are a few “regulars” on my route that ride some nice road bikes, and it is not uncommon for them to pass me. This has frustrated me, but I have learned that they are geared better and their bikes probably weigh a third of what my comfort bike and pannier weigh, so they have a huge advantage. Well, this morning I was able to turn the tables a bit, because they were stopped at the light, and I saw that it was about to change, so I maintained my speed, and blew past them as the light turned green. I shifted to my fastest gear and pedaled as hard as I could, savoring my victory. Alas, it was short lived, and they soon caught up to me and passed me, one seeming quite irritated, and the other managing a friendly “hello” as he went by. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted, and I had a great workout and a good ride this morning.

The Unsung Hero of Bike Commuting Equipment
August 8, 2008, 12:47 pm
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I just got back from riding my bike over to a local fast food place to pickup my lunch. That got me thinking that I should tell you about one of the pieces of equipment I use that has become absolutely indispensable… my Bungee Cargo Net for my rear rack.Bungee Cargo Net on Rack

I don’t use it all the time, but whenever I need to carry something that won’t fit in my panniers, or that needs to be carried a certain way (like the take out plate of food I just got back with), I fasten it to my rear rack with my cargo net. It is made of bungee material, so it stretches to conform to whatever you are trying to hold.Bungee Cargo Net

It has 4 plastic hooks at the corners, so with a bit of creativity you can fasten almost anything. I have used it to carry my lunch, my floor pump that is about 3 feet long, two 12 packs of soda, and a few other oddly shaped things.

Mine is a Delta Cargo Net II that I purchased from REI, but there are similar ones available elsewhere.

If you don’t have one of these, I would encourage you to purchase one. They are not very expensive, and I have come to consider mine indispensable. I leave it wrapped around my rack when not in use, and I can attach my panniers without even removing it. It is always there when I need to carry something, and I consider it the unsung hero of my bike commuting equipment.

The Mixed Blessing Of Equipment Failure
August 7, 2008, 4:30 pm
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I go into the office a couple of days a week, and work at home the rest. Usually, I ride my bike to the office, but this week I had several situations come up that made biking a challenge, so I drove my car. I hadn’t ridden for several days, and seeing all the bikers on the road, while I was in my car, was just killing me. On one of my normal office days I ended up staying home because I was getting my DSL service upgraded, and I was supposed to be at home to meet the technician who came out to prep for the upgrade. Well, the technician never showed up, but I did get the upgraded DSL, and I have been loving it. (12Mb Fiber for you geeks out there) Anyway, today I was working at home, enjoying my new DSL, and all of a sudden my the DSL quit working. Not just slow… but bam… dead stop. I fiddled with the router for a few minutes, but I wasn’t even getting a DSL signal light. So, I called my DSL provider, and was informed that there was a big problem at the central office, and they had dispatched technicians, and they said it would be back up again within 24 hours. Within 24 hours?!!! That makes things a bit difficult when you need your Internet connection for work. Argh!j0427672

There is a bright side to this. Instead of jumping in the car, I rode my bike to the office. I hadn’t ridden for over a week. It was in the middle of the day, and it was hot, and I was a bit tired, and it was great! It kind of freaks me out that I have become so hooked on this bicycling thing. I guess there are certainly worse things to get hooked on. At least this addiction pays back with things like fitness, peace of mind, less concern with gas prices, and just plain fun.

So yeah, equipment failure isn’t always a bad thing.

By the way, my last article ended up being featured on’s home page, which brought in a lot of new traffic over the last few days. That was quite a surprise! So welcome to all the new readers, and thanks for all your great comments.

3 Challenges With 100% Bike Commuting
August 2, 2008, 10:49 am
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I’ve been reading lots of bicycling blogs lately. Yeah, pretty much every bicycling blog I can find… probably too much. I’ve been inspired as I read about people that have managed to live their lives 100% by bicycle. Some of them don’t even own cars anymore. The thought of no car payment, no car insurance, and no worry about gas prices is certainly a compelling idea. Right now I don’t think it’s realistic for me to not own a car, but I have been trying to move as close to 100% bike commuting as I can. In the last month I have come up against three challenges, so I thought I’d mention them here to see what ideas readers have.j0402711

1) Last Minute Trips (with close deadlines)

Several times last month I had to make short to medium length trips that would be great for a bike ride, but they came up at the last minute and I had to be there as soon as possible. I was going to be late, or almost late, if I drove my car, so I would have been quite a bit later had I ridden my bike. The problem is not just that the actual ride takes longer, but that it takes a bit longer for me to get ready to ride than to just grab my car keys and hit the road. One morning last week I was planning to work from home, but when I sat down at my laptop I realized that my DSL was down and I had no Internet access, which is essential for work. I needed to be online within 45 minutes for a team meeting. I knew I could drive to the office in 15 minutes, or I could try to hurry and get ready and ride my bike to the office.  I decided to ride my bike, and it all worked out ok, so I was glad I made that choice. I left almost an hour later than I normally do, and the heat of the day was already present, so I was quite a bit soggier than normal when I got to the office, which leads into…

2) Showing Up Hot & Sweaty at Social Engagements

Like most people who ride their bikes to work, I have a strategy to deal with my sweaty, stinky self once I get to the office. My commute is just over 5 miles, and takes a little under 20 minutes. If I leave early enough the air is still cool from the morning, and the temperature is reasonably pleasant, so I don’t perspire that badly. When I get to the office I usually take about 15-20 minutes to cool down, during which time I’ll get my work area setup, check my email, catch up with my co-workers, etc. Once I’ve cooled down then I will towel off with a moist towel, spray on some good smelling stuff, change my shirt, and deal with my “helmet hair”. No big deal.

But… what about riding to other social engagements? Last month I decided to get more serious about bike commuting, so twice I rode my bike to have dinner with a friend. The first place we went was just fast food, so I didn’t feel too bad showing up red faced and drenched in perspiration. The second place we met was a decent restaurant. It was in the early evening, and the ride was HOT (upper 90s) so I was thoroughly drenched when I got there. I was about 5 minutes early, and felt a bit self conscious as I walked in the door all hot and sweaty with my helmet, gloves, water bottle, and panniers. (I had to stop at the store on the way home, so I brought along my Novara grocery panniers, but brought them inside with me so they wouldn’t get stolen). I told the host that I was waiting for a friend, and he had a puzzled look on his face as he asked if I wanted to be seated right away. I told him that I’d just wait a few minutes, and I sat down in the waiting area, trying to cool down.  Once my friend arrived and we were seated I went to the restroom and splashed some water on my face and tried to towel off with paper towels as best i could. It worked out fine, and I don’t think I offended any of the other guests, but it was a bit awkward.

Another incident happened just last week when I got a late night phone call to go visit a friend who was in the hospital. The hospital is very close by, but that is not the kind of social call where I wanted to have to worry about my bike, my gear, and my sweaty self, so I drove my car.

3) Hauling Big Stuff Around

I play guitar in a band at my church, and we practice one night a week. I just go straight to practice after work, so on that day I am hauling my music stuff around with me. It can be anything from a backpack of music and an acoustic guitar, to several guitars and a bag of electronic equipment. Needless to say, it is not the kind of thing that is easily carried on a bicycle. Notice I use the words “easily carried”. I have seen some amazing pictures of the way some bicyclists use an XtraCycle or a trailer to haul things around. Someday that might be an option for me, but for now I don’t own that kind of hauling equipment, so I’m limited to what I can fit on my back and in my panniers. I have tried to be creative, and just leave my music stuff at church. That almost works, but it means I can’t practice at home, which isn’t an option. I have had my wife drop off my music stuff at the church if she is out running errands in the neighborhood, and that works out very well, but she can’t do that every week. So, for now, this is probably my biggest challenge to always riding my bike for my daily commutes. I am riding my bike for most things, but getting to 100% is still something I haven’t been able to accomplish yet.

One of the things I have admired about passionate bike commuters is the creativity they have shown to solve these kinds of challenges. Where there is a bike commuting will there certainly seems to be a bike commuting way.  So what about you? Do you have any creative solutions for me? Do you have any challenges that you would add to my list?

Month 2 = 110 Miles
August 1, 2008, 11:15 am
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Yesterday I finished up my second month as an “official” bike commuter, and my mileage total for the month was 110 miles, all of which was commuting to work, or the store, or normal trips that I would’ve previously driven my car. Honestly, I was hoping that my mileage would be higher for the month, but when I look back I had a few situations come up that hindered my riding. I got rained out for the first time, and that actually happened a couple of times. I also had some scheduling challenges where I needed to be in certain places at certain times and I wouldn’t have been able to make it in time on my bike. On the other hand, there were several times where I decided that I needed to go to the store just so that I could get a ride in. (You can almost always use a gallon of milk, right?) I have come to really enjoy time on my bike. It is “my time” and it fits in nicely with my busy life, without taking time away from other things.

Even though I didn’t have a higher mileage total, I’m still going to appreciate the fact that I actually rode 110 miles on my bike. That is 5 miles more than I did the previous month, and it is 110 miles more than I ever would have done just a few months ago. Last month was also a month of personal discovery, as I explored things like learning to slow down and enjoy the ride, and that has been a very good thing! I had a 12 mile round trip ride last night to meet a friend for dinner, and I really relaxed and took my time on the way home, and it was quite enjoyable.

Month 2 was a good month… of course any month with some time spent riding a bike has to be a pretty good month.

Keep riding, and stay safe 🙂