Drive My Bike


Hot Weather, But Good Company
June 29, 2009, 4:51 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I left the office a little earlier than usual today, and as I was about merge from the parking ramp onto the main road another cyclist came pedaling by. I decided I would try to catch up and say hello.

CSP093

The days are getting hotter and it was in the low 90’s when I headed home today. In spite of the heat, I decided that I was going to relax and enjoy my ride home, so when I saw this other bicyclist I figured I would see if he was up for some friendly conversation. I caught up with this fellow, and he had headphones on, but when I said hello he greeted my back. I commented on the heat, and a few other things, and we eventually struck up a good conversation. I asked where he was headed, and he said he was in college and heading to some night classes at an extension campus that was not too far from where I live. He asked what I did, and then we talked about my work and his schooling, and what he wanted to do in life. We talked about bikes, and he admired Jake’s bike that I was riding. I explained that I was just babysitting it for a friend who was in Africa for a year. This intrigued him so he asked a bit more about Jake and how that worked.

Our conversation continued, and it made the time pass quickly. Before I knew it we were at the place where I would go left and he would go right. He still didn’t know exactly where he was going, so I told him I would ride there with him. I figured it was no too far out of my way, I could use the extra miles, and I was actually really enjoying the company.

Soon, he got to his school, and I doubled back and went home. It was a nice ride, and I sure noticed the heat once he was gone and I didn’t have the conversation to distract me.

The timing of this is funny because just this afternoon I was emailing with a regular reader, Bobby D, and was telling him how I never get to ride with anyone else. Little did I know that just an hour or so later I was going to meet Jason, and we were going to have a nice ride together.

if you read this Jason, then know that I really enjoyed the ride with you, and it certainly made my ride go faster. Thanks and I hope we meet up again some time!



Accidents Are Happening… Stay Alert… Ride Safely!
June 24, 2009, 10:20 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

As I left the office yesterday afternoon I noticed that the traffic was backed up more than it usually is, and I could see emergency vehicles up ahead.

j0438743

As I got closer I realized that the emergency vehicles were located mostly on the shoulder, not in the main traffic lanes. The fire truck and EMT vehicles pulled away as I got closer, and I pondered how I was going to weave my way through the police cars that remained. One of the policemen got into his vehicle and began to move, so I slowed down and waited for him as he pulled further out of traffic. Suddenly I noticed that there was a bicycle on the shoulder, with a completely crumpled front wheel! I was still trying to make my way through the police and onlookers, as well as the line of cars, so I couldn’t really pause to take it all in, but I noticed the cyclist sitting on the tailgate of a pickup. He looked like he was okay, and I didn’t notice any blood or scrapes, so I’m thinking that he must have been able to bail out before the vehicle hit him. If I had it to do over again I would have probably stopped and tried to talk to the cyclist or get some pictures, but I was so flustered by all of this that I just got clear of the accident and kept on pedaling.

There have been several accidents between cars and cyclists in our town as things have warmed up and more people have been riding,but seeing something like this on my regular route shook me up a bit. Even though I didn’t know the person that got hit, It just made it a lot more personal that this was a guy whom I could easily meet on any given day as we made our commutes.

In fact, it could have been me.

When I got home I found out that there had been another accident downtown earlier in the day, and the cyclist was killed. It sounds like this was just a freak thing, because the driver was diabetic and apparently went into diabetic shock and had no idea that she had even hit anyone.

That is scary.

We as bicyclists have to remember that we can do everything possible to be visible…

  • lights
  • reflective gear
  • bright clothing
  • taking the lane
  • knowing the rules of the road
  • etc.

…but even well intentioned drivers can still have situations which put us at risk!

When you got your driver’s license you were probably taught “defensive driving”. This is basically staying aware of your surroundings, and anticipating what the other drivers are doing, and being ready to respond if something goes wrong.

When you ride your bike be sure you practice “defensive riding”. Enjoy your ride, but stay alert! Always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t assume that drivers can see you. Make sure that your bike is in good condition to ride. Check your brakes, tires, quick releases, etc.

Bicycling is a wonderful thing when done right. Please do your part to ride safely.



Father’s Day Ride

Since it was Father’s Day today the family gave me the afternoon off, so I decided to take on my most ambitious ride to date. I rode to the top of a nearby mountain, and I think it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.

TraverseRidgeSummit

That road off in the distance is the one that I came up to get to the top. For those of you that know Salt Lake City, this is the road at the south end of the valley that goes up Traverse Mountain in Draper. I climbed almost 1600 feet over about 7 miles, and parts of the road are a 10% grade. I didn’t know that when I started, and like I said, I think it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

As soon as I turned onto the main road leading up to the summit the intense stuff started. I shifted down to the lowest gear I had, small ring in front, and largest ring in back. Even though I was geared down so far I still had to fight for every pedal stroke. It felt like I was just crawling up the road, and it took every bit of mental focus I had to keep going. I kept trying to relax my upper body and focus on smooth breathing and smooth pedaling. The road winds around a lot, so you really can’t see what is ahead, and every time I came around a corner I would see more road stretching up the mountain, and I would have to will myself to keep going. It became a game of “just pedal to that tree up there” and then “okay, now just pedal to that signpost”.

I kept up this mental game until I was a little over halfway up, and I kept telling myself that I had come so far that I couldn’t quit now, but finally it overwhelmed me and I decided that I couldn’t go any further, so I pulled over on a part of the road that seemed a little less steep. I say a “little less steep” because I don’t think the grade got below 5% from mile 3 until the top, except for about a 100 yard stretch next to a little pond. I almost fell off the bike when I stopped, because my legs were so shaky. I had some panic “what have I done” kind of thoughts, wondering how I was going to get back down when I couldn’t even stand up. I drank some water and walked around for a few minutes to catch my breath, and then sanity took over again, and I figured I had come so far that I should try to keep going.

I had picked a good place to stop because just around the next bend the road flattened out a good bit for a little stretch, and I noticed a little pond off to the left, so I decided to pull over, enjoy the scenery, and eat a granola bar to see if I could get some energy back.

TraverseRidgePond

I don’t know how long I sat there. It seemed like 5 minutes, but it could’ve been longer. Passing drivers gave me interesting looks as I finished my granola bar and drained my first water bottle. I looked up the road, and guessed that I might be getting close to the top, so since I felt a bit refreshed I decided to soldier on, determined to get to the summit.

Needless to say, I made it, and the picture at the top of this post is the proof that I was there.  I sat and enjoyed my conquest for a few minutes, taking some more pictures, and even sending a text message to my family with a picture, to prove what I had done.

If the ride up was one of the hardest things I ever done, then the ride down was surely one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done. I’m not sure how fast I ended up going, but I was keeping pace with the cars coming down, so I would guess I probably hit 45-50 miles per hour. That was intense!

On the way down I noticed a sign that I hadn’t seen coming up, and it pretty much sums up the journey…

TraverseRidgeGrade

I’m actually glad that I didn’t see that on the way up, because I think it would have been one more thing to overcome in the mental game.

By the time I got back home I had covered about 25 miles, and had accomplished something that I never would have dreamed of even trying a year ago. We cooked some steaks, and I shared my adventure with my family.

It was quite a Father’s Day!



Way To Go Chicago!
June 19, 2009, 9:06 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I lived in Chicago for a few years in the 80’s, and I love the place. My daughter lives in Chicago now, and this morning she sent me the following text message:

“So i’m walking by the big bike chicago to work rally right now and thinking of you. You’d love it :)”

I told her if she got some pictures I’d put them on my blog, so here you go…

The schedule of events for the day. Looks like fun, wish I could make it!

BikeChicagoSign 

I guess if you didn’t ride your bike there you could ride a bike there. 😉

BikeChicagoRally2

Daley Plaza looks pretty full. Looks like a pretty big deal.

BikeChicagoRally1

Check out the Bike Chicago website to see more about bike commuting in Chicago, or just to see how they do it in the Windy City. It sounds like Bike Chicago really has some great stuff happening. They even managed to get Bally Fitness to offer free showers to bike commuters at their health clubs around town! Very cool!

It would be great if more cities put this much into encouraging bike commuting.

(Thanks for the pictures Cami)

UPDATE: I guess some torrential thunderstorms blew in right after these pictures were taken and they had to shut everything down for the day. Bummer.



Hello Goats… I Mean Sheep
June 16, 2009, 9:03 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Tonight I had a little extra time on my after work commute, so I decided to stop and see the goats (actually, they are sheep… see Leah’s comment below) at a nearby park…

WheelerFarmGoats

That is Jake’s really nice road bike that I’ve been riding lately. I showed it to the goats (sheep!), but they were unimpressed. Maybe because they had heard that Jake was in Africa eating some of their relatives. (Well the sheep were relieved to hear that Jake was not eating their relatives, at least as far as they know)

It’s been raining almost every day for about two weeks now, and we’ve had some monster storms. I got completely soaked once on my way home last week. This afternoon the sky was dark and angry again, but it didn’t rain, so it made for a really enjoyable cool breeze.

By the way, if you look in the distance in the above picture you’ll see some cars. There is a major road there, and the rush hour traffic was already starting to stack up. They definitely didn’t have as much fun on their way home as I did.



Just For Fun
June 11, 2009, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The other day my friend Jake said, “Don’t you ever ride just for fun?”

I thought… “Well yeah, sure… I guess. Okay, so I usually ride to get somewhere.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yes, I was actually talking to Jake while he is in Africa, live, via Skype. Honestly, it is amazing to be able to do that. Jake says that the internet access there is really good. To quote him, “You can’t drink the water, but I can download the latest Eminem mp3 in a flash.” Sounds like we get our technology priorities messed up sometimes.

Anyway, last week I did decide to take a ride “just for fun”. I had a fairly stressful day and was ready for a break, so I decided to take a ride in the evening to clear my head. I started out planning my route, and then stopped myself. Instead I decided to just “go”, no real plan, no destination.

I took Jake’s bike, which is a really nice modern road bike. I’ve been riding that bike a lot more recently ever since I swapped out the Look pedals with a set of SPD pedals so that I can use my SPD shoes and sandals. The frame is aluminum and carbon fiber, and the whole bike is incredibly light, with all the new high tech features. It is a real joy to ride, and I’m getting spoiled. I told Jake that I’m not sure what I’m going to do when he comes home and wants it back.

It was a great ride. I ended up covering a little over twenty miles, and going places I’d never ridden before. I had a tough ride up a steep section, and that was a little exciting because the front derailleur stuck for some reason, so I couldn’t shift down from the large chainring. This meant that I had to work extra hard to get up that stretch, but I was able to make it, and the speedy ride down the other side was exhilarating.

I was good and tired when I got home, but my mind was clear and fresh. It was a great feeling.

Riding just for fun… yeah, I need to do that more often.



I Forgot My Anniversary

(No, not that anniversary. If that was the case I wouldn’t be celebrating.)

Yesterday, June 1, 2009, was my one year anniversary as a bike commuter.

j0399510

I had been looking forward to my one year bike commuting anniversary, but the day came and went, and I completely forgot. I had a good commute and didn’t think twice about it until this morning.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I started on this adventure. In some ways it seems like just yesterday, and in other ways it seems like I’ve been doing it all of my life.

A lot of things have changed in a year:

  • I hadn’t ridden a bike in at least 20 years, but now it drives me crazy if I don’t ride a bike every day or two.
  • I went from zero bikes to three bikes. I didn’t know much about modern bikes, so I started with a simple comfort bike from Costco, a Schwinn Midtown. I don’t ride that bike much anymore. Instead I also have a mountain bike that is my main ride, which I rebuilt by myself. I have tried to learn as much as I can about modern bike technology, and I have continued to upgrade that bike, my Trek Antelope 830. Currently I am also babysitting a really nice high-tech road bike for a friend, and I ride it on a regular basis. (Hey, Jake told me I needed to ride it, so I just have to.)
  • I was so out of shape that I thought my first few rides were going to kill me, but now the 5 mile ride to the office is barely a warm up. I have lost about 15 pounds, and I’m in the best shape I’ve been in years. I also usually take an intense spinning class at our gym once a week, and I’ve even been pondering riding a century (100 mile) charity ride this summer.
  • I used to think those bicycle riders on the side of the road were a bit weird. Maybe we are, but now I’m one of those guys on the side of the road. I even own a couple of pairs of spandex shorts. Yikes! (My kids still aren’t comfortable with the concept of dad in spandex shorts.)
  • When I first told people of my plans to ride my bicycle to work, they usually told me I was crazy. Now most of those same people tell me how much they respect that I bike commute everywhere. Most of them say they wish there was a way they could do it, but then they offer up the standard list of excuses. A few seem like they might be thinking about it though, so we’ll see what this next year brings.
  • And on, and on, and on… the changes are too numerous to note them all.

What a difference a year with a bike can make. This has been a wonderful, life-changing experience. One of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time.

If you are thinking about starting to ride a bike again… go for it!

Maybe next year we can celebrate our anniversaries together.